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Publication numberUS2499471 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateMar 7, 1950
Filing dateMay 4, 1945
Priority dateMay 4, 1945
Publication numberUS 2499471 A, US 2499471A, US-A-2499471, US2499471 A, US2499471A
InventorsDunning Elmer D
Original AssigneeDunning Elmer D
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Automatic steering device for boats and planes
US 2499471 A
Abstract  available in
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)


ELMER D. DUNNING .mm umjwi A'ITDRN EYE March 7, 1950 E. D. DUNNlNG 2,499,47I

AUTOMATIC STEERING DEVICE FOR BOATS AND PLANES 3 Sheets-Sheet 2 Filed May 4, 1945 mm r x 4 6m N mm 3 w 1 kmw 2 M r v mm\ m F on m? N w 8 mm NM 3 mm w MKDOE INVENTOR.



This invention appertains to navigation apparatus generally, and more particularly to a manual-automatic type thereof for the steering of air and water craft.

One of the several objects of the invention is to provide an apparatus or mechanism of this character, wherein the rudder of an airplane or a water crait can be either manuall or automatically controlled at the will of the pilot or navigator, the automatic control, when employed, being initially set manually to a predetermined compass course of craft travel.

Another object of the invention has to do with the provision of a novel form of electro-pneumatic means of rudder control, with the navigating compass of the craft modified to control an electric circuit which, in turn, controls the operation of the pneumatic means through the medium of which the rudder is automatically shifted correspondingly with off-course movements of the compass needle from a pre-determined setting.

A further object of the invention lies in the provision of a navigation control of the kind specified, which is comparatively simple and inexpensive to manufacture, inasmuch as but few of its accessories and parts are of special design and construction; highly efilcient in operation; and capable of being installed on either an air or a water craft, without any undue modification of the structure thereof.

With these and other objects and advantages in view, the invention resides in the certain new and useful combination, construction, and arrangement of instrumentalities, parts, and circuits, as will be hereinafter more fully described, set forth in the appended claims, and illustrated in the accompanying drawings, in which:

Figure l is a diagrammatical View of a layout of the apparatus, in accordance with the inven tion;

Figure 2 is a perspective view of the modified form of compass needle;

Figure 3 is a side elevation of the compass unit and showing certain of the electric control devices mounted thereon for cooperation with the modified needle thereof Figure 4 is an enlarged, fragmentary, vertical section, taken through the line 44 of Figure 3;

Figure 5 is a side elevation, partly in section, of a rudder installation and showing certain of the controls associated therewith;

Figure 6 is an enlarged sectional detail, taken through the line 6-6 of Figure 1;

- .Figure 7 isa plan view of the tiller, through lit;

the medium of which the rudder is manually actuated; and

Figure 8 is a plan view, partl in section, showing the manner of installation of the apparatus on a conventional type of airplane.

Referring to the drawings, wherein like char acters of reference denote corresponding parts in the several views. and more particularly to Figures 1, 5, 7 and 8, the numeral Hl designates a helm, which may take the form of the steering wheel (Figure 1), or the joy stick (Figure 8), and H! a pair of cables or ropes leading aft for connection with a tiller it that is mounted on the upper end of the stem [8 of a rudder 20, each cable or rope being trained about guide pulleys 14, at one side of a fuselage or hull A, as in Figure 8. This arrangement constitutes the manual control of the rudder 2G and is more or less conventional, except as to the shape of the tiller l6, which preferably is made in the form of a metal plate that is substantially triangular in plan, as shown. This tiller plate [6, however, is loose on the rudder stem 18, beneath a tiller arm 22, which is secured to the stem to transmit directional motions to the rudder 28 from the steering controls. A yielding connection, preferably in the form of a coiled retractile spring 24, is extended between the free end of the tiller arm 22 and an upstanding pin 26, carried medially of the forwardly directed edge of the tiller plate 58, so as to sustain the helm, tiller elements and the rudder, in true amidships position and, at the same time, permit of a limited relative movement between the tiller elements.

The automatic control of the rudder 20 is generally comprised in compass controlled electrical circuits, which, in turn, effect the directional operation of rudder actuating devices that are cooperatively associated with the tiller elements l8 and 22; the compass, indicated at 84, being of regulation type, located in its usual position at the station of the pilot or navigator, as the case may be, but modified in proper manner, necessary for the performance of its control functions.

For the purposes of the present invention, a vacuum system of operation of the rudder actuating devices aforesaid, and the system is comprised in a conduit 30, leading from the intake manifold of an internal combustion engine 28, of the air or water craft on which the apparatus may be installed, having branches S2 and 34 extending from it and terminating, at either side of the tiller elements. Each of the rudder actuating devices is comprised in a cylinder 38, which is fixedly mounted on the topside of "the tiller plate It, to one side of the free end of the tiller arm 22, and a piston 42 movable in the open end of the bore, at the inner end of the cylinder, and connected to the tiller arm by a rod 36; the rod 46 being pivoted, as at 44, to the piston, and, as at 68, to the tiller arm, as is best shown in Figure 6.

Each of the cylinders 38 is provided with side ports band 4971 opening into' the bore thereof behind .theipiston 12,2. Each port "rid is couped, by a flexible connection 36, to a respective end of the branch conduits 32, 34 while each side port 40' is opened to the atmosphere. .As is. best shown in Figure 6, each of the cylinders Ethas its bore divided by a partition wall 55), located immediately to the outer side of the port ili, toprovide a chamber 52 which opens through the outer end of the cylinder. The wall 50 is'provided'with a passage 56' for placing the chamber 52311100111- munication with the piston 42 for a purpose to .appear. Mounted-within. the chamber 52,..1'5 an angular slide valve, that has a horizontalportion 54,. extending. througlra .slot,..iormed in. the par- ,:.titi-on,.walli 5,l!,-;.ior..cooperation with the spaced ports 40 and 4G. The verticalportion '53, of'the ,slide val-ire, constitutingan. armature for an elec- .trom agnetr is supported .in a bushing 6,0,--.that,1is serew...threaded .into the Open. end of .the acha1nber 5,2; thel'electrornagnet and the bush-- -\ing, .iin, assembly,..iclosi ng the. chamber to, atmos r'phere. .iAucoiledl expansion springtiiais interposedbetweenthe-armatureportion 56 andthe ,bushing. t, 3,.. within..,the chamber, to move the .slide valvertoma position to ,closeport' and un cover port-silt. upondeenergization oi the electromagnet: 52. The operation oithe rudder actuatingldevices, as .thus .constructed and. arranged, .is. controlled lfIOlIlrthB compass (5t..and,.to such end, .the needle 56.- thereof .isprovided with a. pair. of. oppositely right angled. arms-5.8, extending inthe same plane therewith and in lineiwithits, point of pivot Til, which carry fiat...members. or discs '12, at their ,outerends. ,These. -memb.ers i2 constitute. shutterscthat aresppaolueain. character and, under oilcourse. movements of compass E l, act .to .biaclr- (out, one ortthesothenofl a @pair t photo-cells is; which are secured in. spaced rlelationon an annular .turntablelor rii if l l thatiisr mounted on v.thencompass casingyabout the, dialv thereof. Also K .mountedon the turntable. or. ring is, diametri- 'ical-ly. oppositedthe photo-cells Ellis. a pair oi simifi .lar-ly spacedslight .ray. tubes. 1 which, together with the photo-cells iii, are convergingy arranged for. the; accurate imping'mg. of .thelatter by crossing vray,bi-zarnsaproi ected. diagonally. from the :tubes 18, :as. long as the shutters 2'2 are positioned in the cleartherebetween.

The circuit connectionspf. the. apparatus, as showndnliigures Land. 8, areas .follows: The tubes 18 are commonlyiconnected by a conductor iiill through-aa.maincontrol switch S2, to one side Joia.curr-ent source, .i.. e., ,the.battery, 84, which hasits othenside grounded, .as at; 8.5;.while the .rightandleftofrthe, photo-cells .2 6. are. respectively connected, by conductors fitand 90, through independent sources. of. current 68'. and. respectively, tonneterminal, each of the. leitand rightfoftthe .electromagnetsfifi, the other terminalsotwhich .are' grounded, as at 92. Thus, the elcctromagnetsflfiz... are normally energized. and therefore hold the slide valves Ei i in each cylinder 38..against the action of its respective springv 58 in apositiontoopen port stand close port M3.

iiinoncratlom manual steering pf. ahraftiAil lig 4 ure 8) is to be performed in the usual manner from the helm l8, through the cables l2, and the tiller elements I6 and 22, while the automatic steering first requires that the craft be manually brought on its straightaway course manually and the helm H3 thereafter be secured at neutral position. Following this, the turntable or ring 14 will be rotated to position the photo-cells 16; and the tubes .18, centered to either side of respective of the shutters i2 and themain control switch 82 closed on the current source 84, when current .will pass by way of the switch S2 to the tubes 18,

the photo-cells 16, the conductors 88 and 90, the .electrornagnetsfiz, to the grounds 92 and 86. Thus, the electromagnets 52 are energized and attract the armatures 56 to move the slide valves 54 to open the ports and close ports 40', in the cylinders 38, when the pistons 42 will be balanced by the action of the contractile spring 24 to hold the tiller elements it and 22, and the rudder 20, at amidships position. Upon any off-course movement of. the craft A, and consequentlypof the. compass 64 likewise relatively to :the needle E5,'the photo-cells l6, and the tubes 78, will-be correspondingly shifted relatively to. the shutters .12, which will immediately blackout one or the other of the photo-cells 'lfi'and open the circuit to its respective electromagnet 52. With the'deenergizingof an electromagnet'52, a respective slide valve is forced to closethe port 40 of. the cylinder 38 and openport 40', by the. expansion action of the coiled spring 58,.thus cutting communication between the cylinder and the engine or motor 28 and opening bore of the cylinder ,38 to the atmosphere. With the closing of theport 40 and opening, of the, port 30 of one cylinder 38', the. piston 42 of the opposing, cylinder '38" acts to shift .the tiller arm 22 and the rudder 26, to correctthe steeringdirection-of the. craft back on its predetermined course.

' Havingthus fully described my invention, it is toibeunderstood that any. and all changesiin the construction and arrangement of parts and circuits, to which the'invention is susceptible, may be resorted to, without departing fromthespirit .thereof, or its scope as. claimed.

.What is claimed is:

1,.In a steering device forracraft, the combination of a steering stem mountedon thecraft, a plate rotatably mountedon-said. steering stem, opposed cylinderssecured to saidplate, an1.arm

:secured tosaid steeringstem and extending-between said cylinders, fluid-pressure means, conduit means connecting said cylinders totsaid lfiuid-pressureflmeans, pistonsin said cylinders, means connecting said pistons tosaid arm, spring means anchored to. said.arm and:plate, manual =means for shiftingsaidplate to a predetermined direction whereby said. arm and steering stem are moved through said spring means to said direction, valve means in each cylinder forcontrolling the flow of fluid from said conduit means to said cylinders, electromagnetic means in each cylin- 'der for actuatingsaid valve means, a compass on the craft and-having a compass needle, an annu lus' rotatably mounted on said'compass and adjustable about the same, a pair of'spaced light sources mounted onsaid "annulus, a pair of spaced photo cell-units mounted-on said annulus diametrically opposite to saidli'ght sources, respectively, whereby light beams emanating from said light sourceswill-impinge upon saidlphotocell .units, respectively, ..diametrically-.opposed light-blocking screenseon; said -..compass;t.needle @wherebyuelative; movementcloetween thersame and said annulus will interpose said screens into the path of the light beams from either light source, and electrical means connecting said photo-cell units with said electromagnetic means, respectively, whereby the movement of said lightblocking screens into the path of either light beam will cause said respective photo-cell units tocontrol the actuation of its respective electromagnetic means and thereby cause operation of the respective valve means.

2. In a steering device for a craft, the combination of opposed cylinders on the craft, an arm attached to the steering device of the craft, a fluid-pressure means, conduit means connecting said cylinders to said fluid-pressure means, pistons in said cylinders, means connecting said pistons to said arm, spring means anchored to said arm and plate, valve means in each cylinder for controlling the flow of fluid from said conduit means to said cylinders, electromagnetic means in said cylinder for actuating said valve means, a compass on the craft and having a compass needle, an annulus mounted for movement relative to said compass, a pair of spaced light sources mounted on said annulus, a pair of spaced photocell units mounted on said annulus diametrically opposite to said light sources, respectively, where by light beams emanating from said light sources will impinge upon said photo-cell units, respectively, diametrically-opposed light-blocking screens on said compass needle whereby relative movement between the same and said annulus will interpose said screens into the path of the light beams from either light source, and electrical means connecting said photo-cell units with said electromagnetic means, respectively, whereby the movement of said light-blocking screens into the path of either light beam will cause said respective photo-cell units to control the actuation of its respective electro-magnetic means and thereby cause operation of the respective valve means.


REFERENCES CITED The following references are of record in the file of this patent:

UNITED STATES PATENTS Number Name Date 1,702,404 Holmes Feb. 19, 1929 1,930,945 Sjostrand Oct. 17, 1933 1,993,549 Holmes Mar. 5, 1935 2,112,504 Mirfield Mar. 29, 1938 2,182,717 Chance Dec. 5, 1939 2,200,431 Rateau May 14, 1940 2,337,589 Chance Dec. 28, 1943 FOREIGN PATENTS Number Country Date 350,935 Great Britain June 12, 1931 507,277 Germany Sept. 16, 1930

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US1702404 *Jan 24, 1925Feb 19, 1929Holmes Navigating Apparatus CoElectrolytic relay system
US1930945 *Dec 10, 1932Oct 17, 1933Sjostrand Hjalmar ENavigating apparatus and method of operating the same
US1993549 *Jul 14, 1931Mar 5, 1935Ruth V HolmesAutomatic steering system for dirigible craft
US2112504 *Jul 16, 1932Mar 29, 1938Curtiss L HillSteering apparatus
US2182717 *Dec 21, 1937Dec 5, 1939Britton ChanceControl system
US2200431 *May 19, 1937May 14, 1940Jacques RateauCombined magnetic compass and directional gyroscope
US2337589 *Jan 18, 1940Dec 28, 1943Britton ChanceAutomatic steering gear
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US2628793 *Oct 3, 1946Feb 17, 1953Edward A StalkerAutomatic and manual control of aircraft
US2707602 *Mar 2, 1950May 3, 1955Kauffman William MSideslip stabilizing system
US2916008 *Nov 1, 1956Dec 8, 1959Stanley G De La HuntSteering device for small watercraft
US3006580 *Feb 9, 1959Oct 31, 1961Clarkson AlickFlight control means for aircraft
US3263639 *Aug 24, 1964Aug 2, 1966Oakland CorpSteering system for a boat
US3450087 *Feb 2, 1968Jun 17, 1969Tamco LtdHydraulic steering for watercraft
US3911847 *Sep 23, 1974Oct 14, 1975Worthing & Co Ltd NHydraulic steering mechanism
US4915050 *Nov 14, 1988Apr 10, 1990Wicker Ronald ESteering mechanism for outboard motor
US5235927 *Oct 29, 1992Aug 17, 1993Nautech LimitedFor a marine vessel
U.S. Classification114/144.00R, 114/144.00E, 244/78.1, 318/588
International ClassificationG05D1/02
Cooperative ClassificationG05D1/0206, G05D1/0202
European ClassificationG05D1/02B, G05D1/02C