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Publication numberUSRE31254 E
Publication typeGrant
Application numberUS 06/300,341
Publication dateMay 24, 1983
Filing dateSep 8, 1981
Priority dateAug 28, 1978
Publication number06300341, 300341, US RE31254 E, US RE31254E, US-E-RE31254, USRE31254 E, USRE31254E
InventorsLester R. Brodeur
Original AssigneeSanders Associates, Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Self calibration of a LORAN-C navigation receiver
US RE31254 E
Abstract
A method for self calibration of a LORAN-C navigation receiver utilizing a microprocessor is disclosed wherein the time difference of signal arrival of master station pulse trains from a LORAN-C chain selected by group repetition interval (GRI) information input to the receiver becomes a frequency standard to which the output of an oscillator and counter internal to the receiver is compared to determine frequency error. The error is interpolated over each GRI and .[.a correction factor is added or subtracted to each count output of.]. .Iadd.time counts from .Iaddend.the counter used to make time difference of signal arrival measurements .Iadd.are modified in accordance with the determined frequency error to achieve accurate time difference of signal arrival measurements.Iaddend..
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Claims(4)
What we claim is:
1. Apparatus for self calibrating a navigation receiver-indicator that includes an internal oscillator/clock and provides navigation information by receiving and utilizing the output of said oscillator/clock to measure differences in the time of arrival of signals periodically transmitted by each of a plurality of pairs of navigation transmitters the signal transmissions from each of which are very accurately controlled on a time basis comprising,
means for entering the periodic rate of transmission of the signals transmitted by each of said navigation transmitter into said receiver-indicator, and
a first means performing the following functions:
a. comparing the time difference between the receipt of successive signal transmissions from one of said transmitters with an output of said oscillator/clock to determine the error in time counts output from said oscillator/clock,
b. interpolating said time count error over the interval between the receipt of successive signal transmissions from said one of said transmitters to get correction counts, and
c. algebraically adding said correction counts to said time counts obtained from said oscillator/clock output before being used for said time difference of signal arrival measurements from said pairs of navigation transmitters to thereby achieve accurate time difference of signal arrival measurements.
2. A method for self calibration of a navigation receiver-indicator includes an internal oscillator/clock and provides navigation information by receiving and measuring differences in the time of arrival of signals periodically transmitted by each of a plurality of pairs of transmitters the signal transmissions from each of which are very accurately controlled on a time basis, and the time difference measurements are plotted on a navigation chart to determine the position of the receiver-indicator and comprising the steps of:
entering the periodic rate of transmission of the signals from said transmitters into said receiver-indicator so that said receiver-indicator knows the exact time difference between the receipt of successive signal transmissions from one of said transmitters,
comparing the time difference between the receipt of successive signal transmissions from said one of said transmitters to an output of said oscillator/clock to determine the error in time counts output from said oscillator/clock,
interpolating said time count error over the interval between the receipt of successive signal transmissions from said one of said transmitters to get correction counts, and
algebraically adding said correction counts to said time counts obtained from said oscillator/clock output which is used for said time difference of signal arrival measurements from said pairs of transmitters to thereby achieve accurate time difference of signal arrival measurements used to plot position on said navigation chart. .Iadd. 3. Apparatus for self calibrating a Loran navigation receiver that provides navigation information by measuring the interrelationship in the time of arrival of signals periodically transmitted by a plurality of navigation transmitters the signal transmissions from each of which are very accurately controlled on a time basis comprising:
means for receiving the transmission of the signals transmitted by each of said navigation transmitters; and
means for utilizing the time intervals between the receipt of successive signal transmissions from one of said transmitters as a reference standard for measuring the interrelationship between times of arrival of the signals generated by said navigation transmitters to obtain accurate navigation information; wherein said utilizing means is a microprocessor that calculates the correct difference in time of arrival between said transmitters by using the successive time of arrival of one of said navigation transmitters as a time reference standard. .Iaddend..Iadd. 4. The system claimed in claim 5 wherein said receiving means is a radio receiver. .Iaddend..Iadd. 5. Apparatus for self calibrating a Loran navigation receiver that provides navigation information by measuring differences in the time of arrival of signals periodically transmitted by each of a plurality of pairs of navigation transmitters the signal transmissions from each of which are very accurately controlled on a time basis comprising:
means for receiving the transmissions of the signals transmitted by each of said navigation transmitters; and
means for utilizing the time intervals between the receipt of successive signal transmissions from each of a number of transmitters in the same transmission chain and using the average time intervals to derive the reference standard for measuring the difference between times of arrival of the signals generated by said navigation transmitters to obain navigation information; wherein said utilizing means is a microprocessor that calculates the correct difference in time of arrival between said transmitters by using the successive time of arrival of one of said navigation transmitters as a time reference standard. .Iaddend..Iadd. 6. The system claimed in claim 8 wherein said receiving means is a radio receiver. .Iaddend. .Iadd. 7. Apparatus for self calibrating a navigation receiver-indicator that includes an internal oscillator/clock and provides navigation information by receiving and utilizing the output of said oscillator/clock to measure differences in the time of arrival of signals periodically transmitted by each of a plurality of pairs of navigation transmitters the signal transmissions from each of which are very accurately controlled on a time basis comprising,
means for entering the periodic rate of transmission of the signals transmitted by said navigation transmitters into said receiver-indicator, and
a first means performing the following functions:
a. comparing the time difference between the receipt of successive signal transmissions from one of said transmitters with an output of said oscillator/clock to determine the error in time counts output from said oscillator/clock, and
b. modifying said time counts obtained from said oscillator/clock output in accordance with the determined error in time counts before being used for said time difference of signal arrival measurements to thereby achieve accurate time difference of signal arrival measurements. .Iaddend..Iadd. 8. A method for self calibration of a navigation receiver-indicator includes an internal oscillator/clock and provides navigation information by receiving and measuring differences in the time of arrival of signals periodically transmitted by each of a plurality of pairs of transmitters the signal transmissions from each of which are very accurately controlled on a time basis, and the time difference measurements are plotted on a navigation chart to determine the position of the receiver-indicator and comprising the steps of:
entering the periodic rate of transmission of the signals from said transmitters into said receiver-indicator so that said receiver-indicator knows the exact time difference between the receipt of successive signal transmissions from one of said transmitters,
comparing the time difference between the receipt of successive signal transmissions from said one of said transmitters with an output of said oscillator/clock to determine the error in time counts output from said oscillator/clock, and
modifying said time counts obtained from said oscillator/clock output in accordance with the determined error in time counts before being used for said time difference of signal arrival measurements to thereby achieve accurate time difference of signal arrival measurements. .Iaddend.
Description

This is a division of application Ser. No. 937,615, filed Aug. 28, 1978.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to navigational equipment and more particularly to hyperbolic navigational equipment utilizing the time difference in the propagation of radio frequency pulses from synchronized ground transmitting stations.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Throughout maritime history navigators have sought an accurate reliable method of determining their position on the surface of the earth and many instruments such as the sextant were devised. During the second world war, a long range radio-navigation system, LORAN-A, was developed and was implemented under the auspices of the United States Coast Guard to fulfill wartime operational needs. At the end of the war there were seventy LORAN-A transmitting stations in existence and all commercial ships, having been equipped with LORAN-A receivers for wartime service, continued to use this navigational system. This navigational system served its purpose but shortcomings therein were overcome by a new navigational system called LORAN-C.

Presently, there are eight LORAN-C multi-station transmitting chains in operation by 1980. This new navigational system will result in an eventual phase-out of the earlier LORAN-A navigational system.

LORAN-C is a pulsed low-frequency (100 kilohertz), hyperbolic radio navigation system. LORAN-C radio navigation systems employ three or more synchronized ground stations that each transmit radio pulse chains having, at their respective start of transmissions, a fixed time relation to each other. The first station to transmit is referred to as the master station while the other stations are referred to as the secondary stations. The pulse chains are radiated to receiving equipment that is generally located on aircraft or ships whose position is to be accurately determined. The pulse chains transmitted by each of the master and secondary stations is a series of pulses, each pulse having an exact envelope shape, each pulse chain transmitted at a constant precise repetition rate, and each pulse separated in time from a subsequent pulse by a precise fixed time interval. In addition, the secondary station pulse chain transmissions are delayed a sufficient amount of time after the master station pulse train transmissions to assure that their time of arrival at receiving equipment anywhere within the operational area of the particular LORAN-C system will follow receipt of the pulse chain from the master station.

Since the series of pulses transmitted by the master and secondary stations is in the form of pulses of electromagnetic energy which are propagated at a constant velocity, the difference in time of arrival of pulses from a master and a secondary station represents the difference in the length of the transmission paths from these stations to the LORAN-C receiving equipment.

The focus of all points on a LORAN-C chart representing a constant difference in distance from a master and a secondary station, and indicated by a fixed time difference of arrival of their 100 kilohertz carrier pulse chains, described a hyperbola. The LORAN-C navigation system makes it possible for a navigator to exploit this hyperbolic relationship and precisely determine his position using a LORAN-C chart. By using a moderately low frequency such as 100 kilohertz, which is characterized by low attenuation, and by measuring the time difference between the reception of the signals from master and secondary stations, the modern-day LORAN-C system provides equipment position location accuracy within two hundred feet and with a repeatability of within fifty feet.

The theory and operation of the LORAN-C radio navigation system is described in greater detail in an article by W. P. Frantz, W. Dean, and R. L. Frank entitled "A Precision Multi-Purpose Radion Navigation System," 1957 I.R.E. Convention Record, Part 8, page 79. The theory and operation of the LORAN-C radio navigation system is also described in a pamphlet put out by the Department of Transportation, U.S. Coast Guard, Number CG-462, dated August, 1974, and entitled "LORAN-C User Handbook".

The LORAN-C system of the type described in the aforementioned article and pamphlet and employed at the present time, is a pulse type system, the energy of which is radiated by the master station and by each secondary station in the form of pulse trains which include a number of precisely shaped and timed bursts of radio frequency energy as priorly mentioned. All secondary stations each radiate pulse chains of eight discrete time-spaced pulses, and all master stations transmit the same eight discrete time-spaced pulses but also transmit an identifying ninth pulse which is accurately spaced from the first eight pulses. Each pulse of the pulse chains transmitted by the master and secondary stations has a 100 kilohertz carrier frequency, so that it may be distinguished from the much higher frequency carrier used in the predecessor LORAN-A system.

The discrete pulses radiated by each master and each secondary LORAN-C transmitter are characterized by an extremely precise spacing of 1,000 microseconds between adjacent pulses. Any given point on the precisely shaped envelope of each pulse is also separated by exactly 1,000 microseconds from the corresponding point on the envelope of a preceding or subsequent pulse within the eight pulse chains pulses. To insure such precise time accuracy, each master and secondary station transmitter is controlled by a cesium frequency standard clock and the clocks of master and secondary stations are synchronized with each other.

As mentioned previously, LORAN-C receiving equipment is utilized to measure the time difference of arrival of the series of pulses from a master station and the series of pulses from a selected secondary station, both stations being within a given LORAN-C chain. This time difference of arrival measurement is utilized with special maps having time difference of arrival hyperbola information printed thereon. These maps are standard LORAN-C hydrographic charts prepared by the U.S. Coast Guard and the hyperbola curves printed thereon for each secondary station are marked with time difference of arrival information. Thus, the difference in time arrival between series of pulses received from a master station and selected ones of the associated secondary stations must be accurately measured to enable the navigator to locate the hyperbola on the chart representing the time difference measured. By using the time difference of arrival information between a master station and two or more secondary stations, two or PG,4 more corresponding hyperbolae can be located on the chart and their common point of intersection accurately identifies the position of the Loran-C receiver. It is clear that any inaccuracies in measuring time difference of arrival of signals from master and secondary transmitting stations results in position determination errors. This requires that oscillators internal to the Loran-C receiver be calibrated frequently in order to avoid measurement errors caused by oscillator inaccuracy.

There are other hyperbolic navigation systems in operation around the world similar to Loran-C, and with which my novel receiver can readily be adapted to operate by one skilled in the art. There is a Loran-D system utilized by the military forces of the United States, as well as the aforementioned Loran-A system. Others are DECCA, DELRAC, OMEGA, CYTAC, GEE and the French radio WEB, all of which operate in various portions of the radio frequency spectrum and provide varying degrees of positional accuracy.

Loran-C receiving equipment presently in use is relatively large in size, heavy, requires relatively expensive oven controlled crystal oscillators, requires frequent calibration, and requires relatively large amounts of power. In addition, present Loran-C receivers are relatively expensive and, accordingly, are found only on larger ships and aircraft. Due to the cost size, weight, and power requirements of present Loran-C receiving equipment, such equipment is not in general use on small aircraft, fishing boats and pleasure boats. In addition, Loran-C receiving equipment presently in use required anywhere from five to ten minutes to warm up and provide time difference measurement information.

The signals presently received by LORAN-C navigation receivers have very low signals to noise ratios and it is difficult to locate the third cycle positive zero crossing conventionally used in making the time difference measurements between signals received from the master and secondary stations. This problem is exacerbated by noise generated within the circuitry of LORAN-C navigation receivers and particularly in the front end circuitry in the signal path immediately following the receiver antenna.

Thus there is a need in the art for improved circuitry and techniques to minimize the noise internally generated or to minimize the effect of noise generated internal to LORAN-C receivers. It is a feature of this invention to minimize the effect of noise generated internally to a receiver by averaging out the noise.

There is also a need in the art for inexpensive oscillators within LORAN-C receivers that never require calibration yet the operation of the receivers is as if the oscillators are as accurate as a laboratory standard oscillator. Such oscillators increase the accuracy and reliability of navigation information output from the receiver.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The foregoing needs of the prior art are satisfied by my novel Loran-C receiver, I eliminate much of the complex and costly automatic acquisition and tracking circuitry in prior art Loran-C navigation receivers and provide a small, light weight, relatively inexpensive receiver using relatively little electrical power and requiring no calibration of the receiver oscillator/clock.

Four thumbwheel switches on my Loran-C equipment are used by the operator to enter the group repetition interval information for a selected Loran-C chain covering the area within which the Loran-C equipment is being operated. This information entered via the thumbwheel switches is used in the process of locating the signals from the master and secondary stations of the chosen Loran-C chain and providing an output.

The receiver of my equipment receives all signals that appear within a small bandwidth centered upon the 100 KHz operating frequency of the Loran-C network. A shift register clocked at 100 KHz is coupled with logic circuitry continuously check all received signals to search for the unique pulse trains transmitted by Loran-C master and secondary stations. The microprocessor and other circuits internal to my novel Loran-C equipment analyze outputs from the register and associated logic circuitry indicating that signals from master or secondary stations have been received to first determine which received signals match the group repetition interval rate for the selected Loran-C chain. Once the receiver has identified the pulse trains from the selected master station and can predict future receipt of same, the microprocessor causes other circuitry to go into a fine search mode.

In the fine search mode the microprocessor enables a phase-lock-loop made up of a computer program and other circuitry including a cycle detector to analyze and locate the third cycle positive zero crossing point of each received master station pulse. In the event the third cycle positive zero crossing of each master station pulse is not located at the time calculated by the microprocessor, the cycle detector provides outputs used by the microprocessor to determine whether multiples of 10 microseconds should be added to or subtracted from the calculated time. The microprocessor then repeats the fine search mode analyzation process. This analyzation process and revising the calculated time is repeated using feedback from the cycle detector until the third cycle positive zero crossing of each pulse of the master station pulse train is located.

Once the third cycle positive zero crossing of each pulse from the master transmitting station of the selected Loran-C chain is located, the receiver operates to locate the associated secondary stations. The microprocessor creates a small number of time bins between the arrival of each pulse train from the master station and creates a coarse histogram by putting a count in an appropriate bin when a secondary station signal is detected. Once particular bins are found to contain counts representing receipt of signals from secondary stations, the microprocessor breaks those particular bins down into a large number of time bins creating a fine histogram to more closely determine the time of signal arrival of secondary station signals. The cycle detector is then utilized in conjunction with the microprocessor in a phase-lock-loop made to identify the third cycle positive zero crossing of each received pulse from a secondary station.

The microprocessor then makes accurate time difference of arrival measurements between the time of arrival of signals from the master station and the secondary stations. The equipment operator utilizes other thumbwheel switches to indicate secondary stations, the time difference of signal information which is to be visually displayed. The operator of the Loran-C equipment plots these visual read-outs on a Loran-C hydrographic chart to locate the physical position of the Loran-C receiver on the surface of the earth.

Our novel Loran-C navigation receiver need never have its internal oscillator calibrated unlike prior art receivers. The microprocessor, having the GRI input thereto by the receiver operator, thereby knows how many cycles of the internal oscillator must occur within the cesium clock standard GRI between two consecutive received master station pulse trains. Any error is noted and interpolated over the GRI period and correction factors are added or subtracted to internal circuit clock counts of interest to thereby achieve highly accurate time difference of signal arrival measurements.

The Applicant's novel Loran-C navigation receiver will be better understood upon a review of the detailed description given hereinafter in conjunction with the drawing in which:

BRIEF DESCRIPTioN OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a general block diagram of the Applicants' Loran-C navigation receiver;

FIG. 2 shows the shape of each pulse of the pulse trains transmitted by all Loran-C master and secondary stations;

FIG. 3 is a graphical representation of the pulse trains transmitted by the master and secondary stations within a Loran-C chain;

FIG. 4 is a representation of a portion of a Loran-C navigation chart;

FIGS. 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 are detailed block diagrams of the Applicants' navigation receiver;

FIG. 10 is a detailed block diagram of the smart shift register shown in FIG. 5;

FIG. 11 shows the manner in which FIGS. 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 should be arranged with respect to each other when reading the detailed description; and

FIGS. 12A-12E show signals within the cycle detector.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION

To understand the general or detailed operation of our novel Loran-C receiver, it is best to first understand the makeup of the signals transmitted by Loran-C stations and being received by our novel receiver. Representations of these signals are shown in FIGS. 2 and 3 which will now be discussed.

All master and secondary stations transmit groups of pulses as briefly mentioned above, at a specified group repetition interval which is defined as shown in FIG. 3. Each pulse has a 100 KHz carrier and is of a carefully selected shape shown in FIG. 2. For each Loran-C chain a group repetition interval (GRI) is selected of sufficient length so that it contains time for transmission of the pulse chains from the master station and each associated secondary station, plus time between the transmission of each pulse train from the master station so that signals received from two or more stations within the chain will never overlap each other when received anywhere in the Loran-C chain coverage area. Each station transmits one pulse chain of eight or nine pulses per GRI as shown in FIG. 3. The master station pulse chain consists of either pulses, each shaped like the pulse shown in FIG. 2, with each of the eight pulses spaced exactly 1,000 microseconds apart, and with a ninth pulse spaced exactly 2,000 microseconds after the eighth pulse. The pulse chain for each of the secondary stations X, Y and Z contains eight pulses shaped as shown in FIG. 2, and each of the eight pulses is also spaced exactly 1,000 microseconds apart. The pictorial representation of the pulses transmitted by the master station and the three secondary stations X, Y and Z associated therewith shown in FIG. 3 shows that the pulse trains never overlap each other and all are received within the group repetition interval. FIG. 3 also shows a representative time difference of arrival of the pulse train from each of the secondary stations with respect to the master station. These time difference of arrival figures are designated Tx, Ty and Tz and are the time differences measured using my receiver.

It is to be recognized that the time difference of arrival between reception of the pulse train from the master station and the pulse trains from each of the X, Y and Z secondary stations will vary depending upon the location of the LORAN-C receiving equipment with the coverage area for a LORAN-C chain. In addition, the signal strength of the received signals from the master and secondary stations will also vary depending upon the location of the receiving equipment, as represented by the different heights of the representative pulse lines shown in FIG. 3.

The delayed or spaced ninth pulse of each master station not only identifies the pulse train as being from a master station, but the ninth pulse is also turned on and off by the Coast Guard in a "blink" code, well known in the art, to indicate particularly faulty secondary stations in a LORAN-C chain. These "blink" codes are published by the Coast Guard on the LORAN-C charts.

In World War II when the LORAN-C systems were installed, carrier phase coding was used as a military security method, but after the war when the need for military security ceased, the phase coding was called a skywave unscrambling aid. In skywave unscrambling the 100 KHz. carrier pulses from the master station and the secondary stations in a LORAN-C chain are changed in phase to correct for skywave interference in a manner well known in the art. Skywaves are echoes of the transmitted pulses which are reflected back to earth from the ionosphere. Such skywaves may arrive at the LORAN-C receiver anywhere between 35 microseconds to 1,000 microseconds after the ground wave for the same pulse is received. In the 35 microsecond case, the skywave will overlap its own groundwave while in the 1,000 microsecond case the skywave will overlap the groundwave of the succeeding pulse. In either case the received skywave signal has distortion in the form of fading and pulse shape changes, both of which can cause positional errors. In addition, a skywave may be received at higher levels than a ground wave. To prevent the long delay skywaves from affecting time difference measurements, the phase of the 100 KHz. carrier is changed for selected pulses of a pulse train in accordance with a predetermined pattern. These phase code patterns are published by the Coast Guard on the LORAN-C charts.

The exact pulse envelope shape of each of the pulses transmitted by all master and secondary stations is also very carefully selected to aid in measuring the exact time difference in arrival between a pulse train from a master station and a pulse train from a secondary station as is known to those skilled in the art. To make exact time difference measurement, one method the prior art teaches is superpositions matching pulse envelopes of pulses from a master station and a selected secondary station. Another method which we also utilize, is detection of a specific zero-crossing of the 100 KHz carrier of the master and secondary station pulses.

Now that the reader has an understanding of the nature of the signals transmitted by the Loran-C master and secondary stations and how they are used for navigation purposes, the reader can better understand the operation of our novel Loran-C receiver which will now be described

In FIG. 1 is seen a general block diagram of our novel Loran-C navigation equipment. Fiter and preamplifier 1 and antenna 2 are of a conventional design of the type used in all Loran-C receivers and is permanently tuned to a center frequency of 100 KHz, which is the operating frequency of all Loran-C transmitting stations. Filter 1 has a bandpass of 20 Kilohertz. Received signals are applied via inverting amplifier 81 to cycle detector 82 and to zero crossing detector 6.

The signal input to zero crossing detector 6 is first amplitude limited so that each cycle of each pulse is represented by a binary one and each negative half cycle is represented by a binary zero. The leading or positive edge of each binary one exactly corresponds to the positive slope of each sine wave comprising each pulse. Thus, detector 6 is a positive zero-crossing detector. As will be described in detail further in this specification logic circuit 16 also provides an input to zero crossing detector 6, not shown in FIG. 1, which sets a 10 microsecond window only within which the leading edge of each binary 1 may be detected. The end result is that only the positive zero-crossing of the third cycle of each pulse of the train pulse trains transmitted by each Loran-C station is detected and an output provided by detector 6.

It can be seen that latch 5 has its input from zero crossing detector 6. Clock/counter 7 is a crystal controlled clock which is running continuously while my novel Loran-C receiver is in operation. The count present in counter 7 at the moment that zero crossing detector 6 indicates a third cycle positive zero crossing is stored in latch 5, the contents of which are then applied to multiplexer 8. Multiplexer 8 is a time division multiplexer used to multiplex the many leads from logic circuit 16, logic circuit 4, cycle detector 82, latch 5, clock/counter 7, and thumbwheel switches 11 and 12, through to microprocessor 9. The count in latch 5 indicates to microprocessor 9 the time at which each positive zero crossing is detected.

The signal input to smart shift register 3 from detector 6 is a pulse train of 1's and 0's, which is shifted through the shift register digital delay line which is taped at 1 millisecond invervals. Because of the logic circuits connected to each tap thereof, only the pulse trains from Loran-C master and secondary stations will result in outputs from the logic circuits of register 3. The logic circuits within register 3 are used to analyze the contents of the shift register delay line to first determine if the signals represent a pulse train from a Loran-C master or secondary station, and secondly to indicate the particular phase coding of the signals being received. Logic circuit 4 stores information from register 3 indicating whether a pulse train is from a master or a secondary station and further indicating the particular phase code transmitted. This information stored within logic circuit 4 is applied to microprocessor 9 via multiplexer 8 for use in processing received Loran-C signals. At the same time that information is stored within logic circuit 4, detector 6 causes latch 5 to store the present count in clock/counter 7 which indicates the time of occurrence. It should be noted that clock/counter 7 also has an input to multiplexer 8 so that microprocessor 9 can keep track of continuous running time as indicated by recycles of counter 7.

Thumbwheel switches 11 are used to input the GRI of a selected Loran-C chain to the receiver. The output of thumbwheel switches 11 are also input to multiplexer 8 to apply the GRI of the selected Loran-C chain to microprocessor 9.

With the various types of information being input to microprocessor 9 via multiplexer 8 from the circuits previously described, microprocessor 9 determines when received signals are from the master and secondary stations of the selected Loran-C chain. Once microprocessor 9 closely locates the signals from the selected master station, as determined by a match of the GRI number input thereto via thumbwheel switches 11 with the difference in time of receiving each pulse train transmitted by the master station of the selected chain, the receiver goes into a fine search mode utilizing a phase-lock-loop implemented with a computer program in microprocessor 9 and the loop being closed by an input from cycle detector 82 to locate the desired radio frequency carrier third cycle positive zero crossing in conjunction with zero crossing detector 6. The receiver then switches to locate the secondary station signals of the selected chain. To locate the secondary stations microprocessor 9 creates first a coarse histogram and then a fine histogram by storing the time of receiving all secondary station signals in time slot bins created by the microprocessor in its own memory between the arrival of any two consecutive master station pulse trains. When signals from the secondary stations of the selected Loran-C chain are located by secondary station signal counts appearing in the coarse histogram time slot bins at the same rate as the GRI of the selected Loran-C chain, the microprocessor 9 creates a fine histogram having time slot bins of shorter time duration. In this manner microprocessor 9 closely determines the time of arrival of pulse trains from the secondary stations of the selected Loran-C chain.

Once microprocessor 9 closely determines the time of receiving secondary station signals and can calculate the time of receipt of subsequently received secondary station pulse trains, the microprocessor causes the receiver to go into a fine search mode utilizing the same phase-locked-loop arrangement generally described above to accurately locate the third cycle positive zero crossing of each pulse of the secondary station pulse trains.

Again, control circuit 76 is provided to monitor the level of the received radio frequency signal and automatically adjust the gain of inverting amplifier 81. Logic circuit 16 also controls the inverting operation of amplifier 81 to periodically switch the phase of signals applied via amplifier 81 to the remainder of the receiver circuitry to remove the effects of noise internal to the receiver.

Once microprocessor 9 functioning with the other circuits in our Loran-C receiver has located and locked onto the pulse trains being transmitted by the master and secondary stations of the selected Loran-C chain, it makes the desired time difference of arrival measurements that are required in Loran-C operation. Microprocessor 9 then causes a visual indication to be given via display 12. The output information is platted on a Loran-C hydrographic chart in a well-known manner to locate the physical position of the Loran-C receiver.

There are lamps 70 through 75 on the front panel of the receiver which initially all flash on and off when the receiver is first turned on. As the signals of the master and each secondary station of the selected Loran-C chain are located and it is determined by microprocessor 9 that each station's signals can be utilized to make accurate time difference of signal arrival measurements, the lamp associated with that station is changed to be lit steady. This gives an indication to the receiver operator of the confidence he may have in selecting stations with switches 11 to make time difference of signal arrival measurements.

The oscillator internal to our Loran-C receiver never needs calibration, unlike prior art receivers. Microprocessor 9 knows exactly the time difference of signal arrival of the pulse trains from the master station of the selected chain because of the GRI input thereto via switches 11. This information is compared with the output of a master oscillator within the receiver to determine the frequency error of the oscillator. Microprocessor 9 then interpolates the error over the time period between receipt of signals from the master station and a correction factor is added or subtracted to internal clock indications of time of receipt of all pulses from the master and secondary stations to thereafter make accurate time difference of signal arrival measurements. .Iadd.

Other interpolation techniques may also be utilized as known in the art to eliminate the effect of clock inaccuracy. When a count output of the receiver clock equals the actual GRI figure input to the receiver by the operator when the clock is accurate, the interpolation is accomplished by multiplying time difference measurement made using the clock by a fraction made up of the actual GRI figure and a measured GRI which is the clock count between, e.g., two successive received master station pulse trains, with the actual GRI being in the numerator or denominator of the fraction depending on if the clock count for the measured GRI is respectively less than or greater than the actual GRI. The resultant is the actual measured time difference of signal arrival. .Iaddend.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Turning now to describe in detail the operation of our novel Loran-C equipment.

In FIG. 2 is seen the shape or waveform of every pulse transmitted by both master and secondary Loran-C stations. The waveform of this pulse is very carefully chosen to aid in the detection of the third carrier cycle zero crossing in a manner well known in the art. One method known in the art is to take the first derivative of the curve represented by the envelope of the pulse shown in FIG. 2, and this first derivative clearly indicates a point at 25 microseconds from the beginning of the pulse. The next zero crossing following this indication is the desired zero crossing of the third cycle of the carrier frequency. Similar to the prior art method just described, our novel Loran-C receiver detects the third zero crossing for each pulse of the master station and each secondary station. The precise time difference of arrival measurements to be made utilizing a Loran-C receiver are made by measuring the third cycle zero crossing of the fifth pulse of the master station pulse train and the third carrier cycle zero crossing of the fifth pulse of the manually selected secondary station.

In FIG. 3 is shown a representation of the nine pulse and eight pulse signals transmitted by a master station and the secondary stations of a Loran-C chain. The small vertical lines each represent a pulse waveform such as shown in FIG. 2. The height of the vertical lines represents the relative signal strength of the pulses as received at a Loran-C receiver. It can be seen that the signal strength of the pulses from the master station and each of the secondary stations are not identical.

It can be seen in FIG. 3 that the group repetition interval (GRI) is defined as the period between the first pulses of two consecutive master station pulse trains for a given LORAN-C chain. This information is found on standard LORAN-C hydrographic charts and is used to calibrate the oscillator in my novel LORAN-C receiver as will be described in greater detail further in this specification.

In a manner well known in the art, LORAN-C receiving equipment is used to measure the time difference of arrival between the pulse train from a master station pulse train and the pulse trains from two or more secondary stations associated with the master station. This time difference of arrival information is shown on FIG. 3 as Tx, Ty, and Tz.

In FIG. 4 is shown a representative figure of a LORAN-C hydrographic chart. On this chart are shown three sets of arcuate curves, each set of curves having a five digit number thereon and suffixed by one of the letters, x, y or z. The numbers directly correspond to the time difference of arrival information Tx, Ty and Tz shown in FIG. 3 and measured by a LORAN-C receiver. In FIG. 3 the particular secondary station with which a set of the arcuate curves is associated is indicated by the suffix, x, y, or z after the numbers on the curves.

LORAN-C charts show land masses such as island 80 on FIG. 4. For an example, the operator of my LORAN-C receiver located on boat 81 near island 80 would measure the time difference of arrival information between the master station and at least two of the three secondary stations in the LORAN-C chain. The operator, in making a measurement with respect to the X secondary station would measure 379000 on my LORAN-C receiver. As can be seen in FIG. 4, the line of position (LOP) 379000 is shown passing through boat 81. In a similar manner, the operator would measure the time difference arrival information with respect to the Y secondary station and would come up with the number 699800 on the receiver. Again, the LOP for this receiver reading passes through boat 81. If the operator of the LORAN-C receiver measures the time difference of arrival information with respect to the Z secondary station the reading would show 493500 and the LOP for this reading also passes through boat 81. Thus, the operator can accurately fix the position of boat 81 on the LORAN-C chart. From this position information on the map of FIG. 4, boat 81 may, for example, be accurately navigated toward harbor 82 of island 80.

It will be noted that the sample LORAN-C chart shown in FIG. 4 has only five digits on each LOP, but my LORAN-C receiver, has six digits. The lowest order or sixth digit is used to interpolate between two LOPs on the LORAN-C chart in a manner well known in the art. In the simple example given above, boat 81 is located exactly on three LOPs so no interpolation need be done to locate a LOP between those shown on the chart of FIG. 4. Thus, it should be noted that the six digit numbers obtained utilizing my equipment each included an extra zero suffixed to the end of the five digit LOP numbers shown on the LORAN-C chart. A sixth digit other than zero on the receiver would require interpolation between the LOP lines on the chart.

In FIGS. 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 is shown a detailed block diagram schematic of our novel Loran-C receiver which will now be described in detail. FIGS. 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 should be arranged as shown in FIG. 11 to best understand the description found hereinafter.

Loran-C signals are received via antenna 2 and preamplifier 1 in a manner well known in the art. Interference caused by miscellaneous radio frequency signals and signals from other navigational systems are essentially eliminated by filter 1 which utilizes filters having a 20 KHz bandwidth centered on 100 KHz with a sharp drop-off at either side of this band. Filter 1 is of a conventional design and is not described in further detail herein. Similarly, the choice of antenna 2 and/or the design thereof is also well known in the art and is not disclosed herein in detail for the purpose of not cluttering up the specification with details that are well known in the art and would detract from an understanding of the invention. The output from filter 1 is the undemodulated 100 KHz radio frequency signal and is applied to inverting amplifier 81.

When our novel Loran-C equipment is initially placed in operation, it is in a coarse search mode wherein it is only trying to generally locate the pulse trains from the master and secondary stations of the selected chain. This function is accomplished by smart shift register 3 as now described. Limiter 17 in detector 6 hard limits the radio frequency signals input thereto from amplifier 81 so that only a chain of binary 1's is output from the limiter and input to register 3. Each of the binary 1's output from limiter 17 corresponds either to a spurious signal pulse or to each cycle of each pulse in the pulse trains from the master and secondary stations. These pulses are applied to smart shift register 3 which is shown in block diagram form in FIG. 5, but is shown in detail in FIG. 10 and will be described in detail further in this specification.

Smart shift register 3 is made up of a number of serially connected shift registers operating as a delay line. These shift registers store a window time sample of all received signals which are analyzed by logic circuits to determine if the signal stored in the shift registers represents a pulse train from a Loran-C master or secondary station. Due to the clocking or shifting of register 3, the sample moves in time corresponding to the time rate of receipt of Loran-C signals. The logic gates connected to various stages of shift registers are used to analyze the signals stored in the register at any point in time to determine if the stored signal is from a master or secondary station and to determine if the received signals have what is referred to as A or B phase coding. These phase codes are well known to those skilled in the art. Upon smart shift register 3 determining that a pulse train has been received from a master or secondary station, the internal logic gates, which are described in greater detail further in the specification, apply an output signal on one of leads MA, MB, SA, or SB, indicating if the signal is from a master or secondary station and the particular phase coding thereof. The signal indication is stored in latch 21 which is connected to an input of multiplexer 8. In addition, the last named signal output from register 3 is applied via OR gate 22 and AND gate 98 to the SET input of flip-flop 23 to place this flip-flop in its set state with its 1 output high. The 1 output of R/S flip-flop 23 is applied via OR gate 24 to clocking input CK of latch 5. This causes latch 5 to store the contents of binary counter 26 in clock/counter 7 at the moment in time that it is determined that signals have been received from a master or secondary station. The contents stored in latch 5 are applied to multiplexer 8 to be input to microprocessor 9 and used in locating signals from the selected master and secondary stations.

Multiplexer 8 in FIG. 6 is required to input signals to microprocessor 9 in FIG. 7 due to the limited number of input terminals to microprocessor 9 and the large number of leads having signals which must be applied to the microprocessor. Multiplexer 8 accomplishes this task utilizing time division multiplexing techniques. The signals input to multiplexer 8 from microprocessor 9 on leads 40 are used to control the operation of multiplexer 8. Integrated circuit multiplexers are avilable on the market but may also be made up of a plurality of two input logic AND gates, one input of each of which is connected to the leads on which are signals to be multiplexed, and the other input of each of which is connected to a clock and counter arrangement which causes ones or groups of the logic gates to have their other inputs sequentially energized in a cyclic manner.

Following microprocessor 9 receiving the contents of latch 5 via multiplexer 8, indicating the time of receipt of a pulse train from a master or a secondary station, the microprocessor outputs a signal on LATCH RESET which is applied to latches 21 and 5 to clear the information stored therein in preparation of storing a subsequent clock count indicating receipt of a master or secondary station signal. In addition, the LATCH RESET is used to return flip-flop 23 in its reset state.

As clock signals input to microprocessor 9 represent the receipt of master and secondary station signals from more than one Loran-C station chain, microprocessor 9 required an input from the equipment operator using thumbwheel switches 11 to indicate a particular Loran-C chain of interest. The operator first consults a Loran-C hydrographic chart published by the U.S. Coast Guard and finds the group repetition interval (GRI) for the Loran-C station chain of interest and then enters the GRI via switches 11.

Microprocessor 9 is working in a coarse search mode at this point in operation of the receiver and stores the time of receipt of all master station signals which are compared to the GRI to identify which master station signals are from the selected Loran-C chain. With the stored time information for the desired master station microprocessor 9 can calculate the future time of receipt of signals from that master station. When the desired master station signals are being received at the calculated times, microprocessor 9 causes the receiver circuitry to go into a fine search mode utilizing a phase-locked loop technique employing computer program and the loop is closed by cycle detector 82 and circuitry including logic circuit 16 and zero crossing detector 6.

In the fine search mode of operation which is the same for master and secondary stations, but is now described only for receipt of the master station signal, microprocessor 9 calculates a time 955 microseconds before the time of receipt of the next master station pulse train. This calculated time, called pretime, is output from microprocessor 9 on its Pre-Time and φ Code output and applied to the input of latch control 15. Microprocessor 9 also energizes its LATCH SELECT output to enable latch 15 to store the pretime present at its input. In addition, microprocessor 9 applies the phase code of the next received master signal to parallel to serial converter and energizes its load input to place the phase code in converter 35. In the fine search mode comparator 14 is enabled to compare the pretime stored in latch 15 with the Real Time count which is output from binary counter 26 in clock/counter 7. Upon there being a match between the Real Time count and the pretime, there is an output from comparator 14 to flip-flop 66 in logic circuit 16 placing the flip-flop in its reset state. Flip-flop 66 had placed in its one state priorly, as described further on, and its one output was high. This one output is connected to the preset to zero inputs PS of counter 34, pulse counter 38, timer 39 and also applied to gain control 76 to enable it to function. The PS inputs of circuits 34, 38 and 39 being high, not only preset them to zero but disabled them from operating. With comparator 14 now placing flip-flop 66 in its reset or zero state, circuits 34, 38, 39 and 76 are enabled to operate.

Counter 34 starts counting up to 9999, which is a one millisecond total, and various stages of this counter are connected to other circuits. The full or one millisecond count occurs for each pulse of the master station pulse train being received and is input to pulse count circuit 38 which is thereby incremented one count as each pulse is received, up to a maximum of nine pulses. Circuit 38 thus keeps track of which pulse is being received and applies this information via multiplexer 8 to microprocessor 9 which then knows when to clear various circuits and prepare them for the next received master station pulse train. Upon circuit 38 achieving a full nine count it applies a signal to the set input 5 of flip-flop 66 to place it in its one state and preset circuits 34, 38 and 39 and disable circuits 34, 38, 39 and 76.

Counter 34 applies outputs to OR gates 88 and 89 in cycle detector 82 to identify two search windows used in locating the third cycle positive zero crossing of each pulse. There are three other outputs from counter 34 which are applied to the clocking input CK of flip-flops 42, 43, and 44. These flip-flops are used to take samples 65.0 microseconds, 58.8 microseconds and 52.5 microseconds before the third cycle positive zero crossing of each pulse to determine if there is another signal occurring in time before the signal whose arrival is calculated by microprocessor 9. This is done because the receiver may have locked onto a sky wave and the desired ground wave will be detected ahead of the calculated signal. Three samples are taken in case one sample occurs at a zero crossing or in case the sky wave and ground wave interfere producing a null at one sample point. If microprocessor 9 determines from these samples prior in time to the calculated signal that there is an earlier signal having the same GRI, the microprocessor subtracts 40 microseconds from the calculated time and the procedures are repeated. This continues until no signal having the same GRI is detected prior to the calculated time of arrival, thereby indicating that the receiver has located and is locked onto the ground wave.

Once the ground wave is locked onto the third cycle positive zero crossing must be located for each pulse of the master station pulse trains. This is primarily the function of cycle detector 82 and zero-crossing detector 6.

In cycle detector 82 each received signal in its RF state from inverter 81 is applied undemodulated to 5 microsecond delay line 83 and to variable resistor 84 of cycle detector 82. The output of delay circuit 83 and resistor 84 are input to summing circuit 85 which sums the two RF signals being input thereto on a point-by-point, cycle-by-cycle basis to produce an RF output signal having a different waveform but of the same frequency as the input signals. The signals input to summing circuit 85 are shown in FIG. 12D, while the signal output from summing circuit 85 is shown in FIG. 12E. In FIG. 12D, the sinusoidal signal designated by waveform envelope 98 has the same envelope shape and same RF phase as the received RF Loran-C signal. Variable resistor 84 attenuates the received and undemodulated signal to produce the signal represented by waveform 100. Five microsecond delay circuit 83 delays the whole received signal by 5 microseconds while introducing little or no loss and the signal output from the circuit is represented by the sinusoidal signal having the waveform 100. The adjustment of variable resistor 84 is described hereinafter.

While variable resistor 84 and delay line 83 are disclosed as the preferred embodiment for long-term circuit stability and to produce the signal 98 and 100 having the relationship shown in FIG. 12D, many other circuit arrangements may be employed to achieve the same result. The same result may be accomplished with active and passive components in both paths.

Summing circuit 85 processes or algebraically combines the two RF signals 98 and 100 input thereto on a point-by-point, cycle-by-cycle basis in a subtractive manner, due to these two signals being 180 out of phase with each other, to produce an output signal having the waveform 101 shown in FIG. 12E. It may be seen that the instantaneous carrier frequency of the output signal 101 is the same as the frequency of the two signals input to summing circuit 85. However, up to time Tx, the output signal 101 is in phase with signal 98, but thereafter undergoes a 180 phase shift and signal 101 is then in phase with signal 100. The phase is determined by which of the two signal inputs to summing circuit 85 has the greater amplitude and the phase change point is therefore adjustable by the setting of variable resistor 84. Variable resistor 84 is adjusted so that the amplitudes of signals 98 and 99 cross each other at point 99 which needs only be within the negative portion of the third carrier cycle of undelayed signal 98. Prior in time to point 99, which corresponds to time Tx, the amplitude of each cycle of signal 98 is greater than the amplitude of each cycle of signal 100, and this causes output signal 101 from summing circuit 85 to be in phase with signal 98. After time Tx, however, the amplitude of each cycle of signal 100 is greater than the amplitude of each cycle of signal 98 and output signal 101 is in phase with signal 100 as shown. Variable resistor 84 is adjusted to cause the phase reversal to take place during the 5 microsecond duration of the negative half of the third received Loran-C cycle and more particularly, to point 99 as shown in FIG. 12D in this embodiment of the invention.

In practice, however, variable resistor 84 may be adjusted such that the crossover point 99 of signals 98 and 100 in FIG. 12D occurs anywhere within plus or minus 2.5 microseconds of time Tx. This is any time during the negative half cycle of the third full cycle of signal 98.

Signal 101 in FIG. 12E is output from summing circuit 85 and applied to limiter 86 which converts the radio frequency signal to a square wave by clipping the signal amplitude in a well-known manner to produce the binary waveform shown in FIG. 12A. The phase reversal which occurs at time Tx is also shown in this figure.

The binary signal output from limiter 86 is input to exclusive OR gate 87. There is a second input to exclusive OR gate 87 from logic cirucit 16. The waveform of this clock signal is shown in FIG. 12B. This clock signal is 100 KHz and includes phase code reversals (not shown) so that phase code phase shifts are removed and do not affect the operation of other circuitry in cycle detector 82. Exclusive OR gate 87 operates in a manner well known in the art and prior to time Tx when the signals input to gate 87 as shown in FIG. 12A and FIG. 12B are in phase with each other, there is no output from gate 87. However, after time Tx due to the phase reversal created by the action of summing circuit 85, it may be seenin FIG. 12A and 12B that the signals input to gate 87 are no longer in phase with each other. As a result, starting at time Tx, the output of exclusive OR gate 87 goes high as shown in FIG. 12C. The high output from gate 87 is applied to counter enable input CE of counter 90 to enable this counter to operate in response to start and stop signals which will be described hereinafter.

As mentioned briefly heretofore the Loran-C receiver equipment including microprocessor 9 locates the transmissions from the master and each of the secondary stations from a selected Loran-C transmitter chain. After locating the signals transmitted by the master and secondary stations of the selected Loran-C chain at the GRI rate, microprocessor 9 calculates the expected time of arrival of subsequent received signals from these stations. At the expected start time of the first pulse of the pulse train from a master or secondary station, counter 90 is energized via logic circuit 16 and OR gate 88 to start counting the 10 MHz clock input thereto.

As may be seen in FIG. 8 there are four inputs to OR gates 88 and 89, and these sequentially go high once for each pulse of the pulse trains from both the master and secondary stations under the control of counter 34 in logic circuit 16. That is, each of these four inputs momentarily goes high once every 1000 microseconds. These times are represented by Ta, Tb, Tc and Td in FIG. 12B. The two inputs to OR gate 88 are represented by times Ta and Tc. The two inputs of OR gate 89 are represented by times Tb and Td. The output of OR gate 88 is connected to the start input of counter 90 while the output of OR gate 89 is connected to the STOP input thereof. When counter 90 is enabled to count, it counts pulses from a 10 MHz clock applied to its clocking input CK. Thus, as generally represented in FIGS. 12B and 12C, counter 90 is enabled to count at time Ta and is then disabled from counting at time Tb. Directly thereafter, counter 90 is again enabled to count at time Tc and is disabled from counting at time Td. These start and stop times open and close two 2.5 microsecond search windows set 12.5 microseconds apart to be placed by microprocessor 9 calculating pretime on either side of time Tx for each pulse as shown in both FIGS. 12B and 12C. In each of these search windows, the signal output from exclusive OR gate 87 as shown in FIG. 12C is sampled a maximum of twenty-five times at 0.1 microsecond spacing. The search windows may be other than 2.5 microseconds wide and there may be many search windows. The results of this sampling are stored in counter 20 because the clock pulses are counted while input CE is jointly high and the count is decoded and checked by decoders 91 and 92. If the count in counter 90 is less than thirteen there is an output from decoder 91 and if the count is greater than thirteen there is an output from decoder 92. The results of the decoding by decoders 91 and 92 will be an output of 00, 01, 10 or 11 for each pulse and the results are temporarily stored in flip-flops 93 and 94. The results are then transferred to flip-flops 95 and 96 upon being clocked therein under the control of an output of counter 34 in logic circuit 16.

In the ideal case, with no received noise or spurious signals, and detector 82 is in phase with the received signal pulse, the zero to one transition of the signal output from exclusive OR gate 87 as shown in FIG. 12C is stable at time Tx. However, in actual operation, noise and spurious signals cause this transition to fluctuate in time, that is not to occur at precise time intervals. In addition, spurious momentary spike-like transitions occurring prior to or after time Tx can also be mistakenly identified as the desired transition at time Tx and degrade reliable Loran-C receiver operation. Further, non-phase coherence between the received signal and the clock driving gates 88 and 89 will cause the zero to one transition output from gate 87 to occur earlier or later than Tx. All of these affect the count in counter 90 for each pulse.

To minimize the effect of the above problems, the search windows between times Ta and Tb and times Tc and Td are utilized. More particularly, twenty-six samples are taken within each search window and an analysis is initially made by decoders 91 and 92 for each pulse. Flip-flops 95 and 96 forward the signal outputs of decoders 91 and 92 for every pulse via multiplexer 8 to microprocessor 9 which develops a histogram for a large number of pulses. The histogram is analyzed to decide if the microprocessor calculated time of arrival should be revised.

In the ideal signal case with no transients or fluctuations as shown in FIG. 12C, at any time prior to time Tx, the output of exclusive OR gate 87 in FIG. 8 is low and does not enable counter 90. At time Ta, which is 941.3 microseconds after the start of pretime upon which counter 34 is enabled, OR gate 88 enables the start input of counter 90 as mentioned previously, but cycles of the 10 MHz clock input to counter 90 cannot be counted as counter enable input CE is not energized by gate 87. Thereafter, OR gate 89 provides a stop signal to counter 90 at time Tb which is 2.5 microseconds later than start signal Ta. In this case counter 90 has a zero count therein immediately following the search window between Ta and Tb. The zero count is detected by decoder 92 which provides an output to set flip-flop 94 to its one state whenever there is a count less than thirteen in counter 90. Also, decoder 91 will maintain a zero output which will be applied via flip-flops 93 and 95 and multiplexer 8 to microprocessor 9. Thus, microprocessor 9 receives an 01 signal indicating correct location of the point immediately preceding the third cycle positive zero crossing. The next output from zero crossing detector 6 is then the desired zero crossing.

In the event transients occur within the search window between times Ta and Tb, the transients each cause counter enable input CE of counter 90 to go high. For the extremely brief period of time defined by the transients within the search window, a cycle of the 10 MHz clock applied to clocking input CK is counted by counter 90. If more than one transient appears within this first search window, multiple counts will appear in counter 90. Statistically, the number of counts in counter 90 will be less than thirteen for the search window defined by Ta to Tb when the sample point is prior to time Tx in FIG. 12C.

For a perfect received signal with no noise or spurious signals the output from exclusive OR gate 87 will always be high during the search window between times Tc and Td which starts 12.5 microseconds after Tb and which must be adjusted by calculation of pretime to occur after time Tx. During this latter search window which is also of 2.5 microseconds duration in this embodiment of my invention there will also occur twenty-five pulses from the 10 MHz clock applied to clocking input CK of counter 90 resulting in a count of twenty-five being stored in counter 90. This count of twenty-five is detected by decoder 91 as being a count greater than thirteen which places flip-flop 93 in its set state. Flip-flop 93 being in its set state provides an indication to microprocessor 9 that the signal level occurring within the Tc -Td search window is at one level.

Noise transients occurring within the search window between Tc and Td will cause the one level to go to a zero level. This means that the output of exclusive OR gate 87 goes to zero during this latter search window for each transient, which in turn disables counter 90 from counting a cycle of the 10 MHz clock. Statistically, transients will not cause a count of less than thirteen in counter 20 between times Tc and Td if counter 90 is started at the proper time by outputs of OR gate 88 ultimately under the control of microprocessor 9. The equal to or greater than thirteen count in counter 90 is detected by decoder 91 which places flip-flop 93 in its one state. Microprocessor 9 takes the one output of flip-flop 93 via flip-flop 95 and multiplexer 8 to indicate that the signal level within the search window between Tc and Td is at a one level.

With the operation of the circuitry in FIG. 8 just described, it can be seen that the circuitry develops and analyzes samples within each of the two search windows that are adjusted to be on either side of the transition occurring at time Tx which points to the desired cycle of the carrier frequency which occurs immediately thereafter. The effect of the histograms developed by microprocessor 9 from the outputs from cycle detector 82 is to statistically eliminate the effect of noise transients and spurious signals that occur within the 2.5 microseconds search windows that microprocessor 9 jointly shifts to be placed on either side of the transition at time Tx. In addition, phase incoherence between the received signal and signal outputs from counter 34 controlling the sample windows will not affect cycle detector 82 in conjunction with revised pretime calculations by microprocessor 9 from accurately indicating that the next positive zero crossing indication by detector 6 is for the desired third cycle. Thus, the desired zero crossing of each Loran-C pulse occurring immediately after the transition at time Tx is easier to locate and time difference of Loran-C signal arrival measurements are made more accurately, even in noisy signal environments wherein the signal-to-noise ratio of the received signal is low.

The circuit operation just described wherein the two search windows straddle the transition at Tx is premised on the assumption that microprocessor 9 functioning with the other receiver circuitry has started counter 34 in logic circuit 16 at the proper time. In reality, this does not occur because in the rough search mode the tracking point of each pulse is not determined within a few microseconds. Thus, the two search windows may not initially be one on either side of the transition occurring at time Tx for each pulse. If both search windows initially occur prior to the transition at time Tx, the histogram assembled by the microprocessor 9 from cycle detector 82 outputs will have a zero count for both search windows. Microprocessor 9 responds to this zero-zero histogram indication that it develops over many pulses to increment the calculated time of arrival of the pulse trains from the master and secondary station by increments of 10 microseconds, which are multiples of one carrier cycle, and thereby ultimately enables counter 90 to start counting at a later time equal to the increment. The process described for cycle detector 82 is then repeated and microprocessor 9 again analyzes the results. If the result is again a zero-zero count for both search windows, microprocessor 90 again increments the calculated time of arrival until the desired zero-one histogram count occurs indicating that the transition at time Tx has been located.

In a similar manner, if microprocessor 9 receives an indication of a one count within both search windows, the calculated time of arrival of the Loran-C signals is decremented and the procedure is repeated. This decrementing or incrementing process is continued until microprocessor 9 receives a zero count for the search window occurring between times Ta and Tb and a one count for the search window occurring between times Tc and Td. In this manner, circuitry of FIG. 8 functioning in conjunction with microprocessor 9 accurately locates the transition at time Tx and thereby knows that the next positive zero crossing of the carrier is the desired third cycle positive zero crossing of the received pulse signal used to make the time difference of signal arrival measurements.

Thus, microprocessor 9 functioning with the other receiver circuitry operates as a phase-locked-loop with cycle detector 82 and zero crossing detector 6 more particularly closing the loop to allow the receiver to accurately locate the third cycle positive zero crossing of each pulse. This operation occurs in the fine search mode for the master and all secondary stations.

In the prior art Loran-C receiver circuitry sampled and analyzed received signals to first identify master and secondary station signals and then to locate the third cycle positive zero crossing tracking point. This process was designed to take at least several minutes to assure that the tracking point was accurately located or acquired as the signal-to-noise ratio could be very low. However, this long acquisition time was still used even when strong signals were received resulting in a high signal-to-noise ratio. Unlike the prior art our novel receiver provides adaptive signal acquisition wherein in a strong signal environment with a high signal-to-noise ratio the high signal-to-noise ratio is determined and time difference of signal arrival measurements are output to the operator in a matter of seconds. In a weak signal environment, however, a signal-to-noise ratio is determined and a longer time is required to provide the output to the operator.

To accomplish this, cycle detector 82 is utilized in conjunction with microprocessor 9. As previously described, microprocessor 9 and the other receiver circuitry cooperate in a phase-locked-loop mode to locate a specific point at time Tx a few microseconds before the tracking point. Upon accurately locating the specific point, the output from detector 82 to microprocessor 9 is a zero-one indication as previously described. A zero-one indication will be given to microprocessor 9 for every pulse in a perfect signal environment. However, as the signal-to-noise ratio decreases, the zero-one histogram developed by microrprocessor 9 will show fewer and fewer zero-one counts for a given number of samples. In adition, increased noise will cause an increase in the one-zero output from cycle detector 82 to microprocessor 9. The one-zero output is caused strictly by noise. Microprocessor 9 is programmed to compare the result of the zero-one histogram with the one-zero histogram, both of which it develops, to derive a signal quality figure. This signal quality figure indicates to microprocessor 9 how to adjust the adaptive signal acquisition. In addition, the Loran-C receiver operator may operate a front panel control entitled SIGNAL QUALITY to get a readout on display 51 and 52 of this derived signal quality figure for the master and secondary stations being utilized to make the displayed time difference of signal arrival measurements.

On the front panel of the Loran-C receiver are lamps 70 through 75 respectively entitled M, S1, S2, S3, S4 and S5 and associated with master and secondary stations of the selected Loran-C chain. While particular ones of these stations are being acquired, the associated one of the lamps is flashed by microprocessor 9. After the signal has been acquired for any particular station and time difference of signal arrival measurements can reliably be made utilizing that particular station, the associated one of lamps 70 through 75 is lit steady. In this manner, the receiver operator knows which secondary stations can be relied on when identifying stations with thumbwheel switches 61 and 62 to be used to make time difference of signal arrival measurements.

Once master station signals of the selected Loran-C chain have accurately been acquired using the coarse and fine search modes previously described, the receiver circuitry then goes into the secondary station coarse search mode. In this mode, microprocessor 9 divides the time interval between receipt of any two master station signals up into a number of time slot bins. As indications are received from smart shift register 3 and logic circuit 4 of received secondary station signals, as well as indication of the time received from clock/counter 7 via latch 5, a count is placed in an appropriate computer program created time slot bin. The contents of the bins are analyzed by microprocessor 9 to locate the secondary station signals for the selected Loran-C chain. Once located, for each secondary station the particular time slot bin for a secondary station as well as the slot on either side thereof are broken down into a large number of time slot bins each of shorter time duration. Again the above process is repeated to more closely identify the time of arrival of the desired secondary station signals. Then microprocessor 9 can begin to calculate the approximate time of arrival of the secondary station signals. At this time microprocessor 9 causes the other circuitry to change to fine search mode which is the same for the secondary stations as it was for the master station which fine search mode was previously described in detail. Again, when a zero-one histogram is developed by microprocessor 9 for each secondary station, the microprocessor knows that the next positive zero crossing detected by zero crossing detector 6 is the desired third cycle positive zero crossing.

In the fine search mode for master and secondary stations microprocessor 9 stores and analyzes by integration the latch 5 indicated times of receipt for the third cycle positive zero crossing for all master and secondary station pulses to make sure they are accurately located and then the time difference of signal arrival measurements are made and displayed for the secondary stations defined by the receiver operator using thumbwheel switches 61 and 62.

The operation of zero crossing detector 6 in FIG. 5 is now described. It can be seen that the input to detector 6 is from inverting amplifier 81 in FIG. 8. The input is still the 100 KHz radio frequency signal which is hard limited by limiter 17 to produce a binary signal at the 100 KHz frequency. This signal passes through exclusive OR gate 36 and is applied to the clocking input CK of flip-flop 37. The D input of flip-flop 37 is controlled by counter 34 in logic circuit 16 and goes high at the beginning of each received pulse.

Flip-flop 37 in detector 6 being placed in its set state with its one input high upon both its inputs being high, causes latch 5 to store the contents of counter 26 at that particular moment in time. Microprocessor 9 thereby receives a time indication of the beginning of each radio frequency cycle of each of the pulses and this information is used to make the required time difference of arrival measurements which are the basis or the Loran-C system. Flip-flop 37 is returned to its reset state before the beginning of the first cycle of a subsequent pulse received from a master or secondary station by the LATCH RESET signal as described heretofore.

Microprocessor 9 thereby has a multiplicity of clock times, once for each positive zero crossing, being entered into latch 5. They are all ignored, however, except for the desired third cycle positive zero crossing. As previously described, microprocessor 9 functions with other circuitry including particularly cycle detector 82 to adjust the calculated time of arrival and receive an indication at time Tx as previously described for detector 82 which will occur a few microseconds before the third cycle positive zero crossing for each pulse. Thus, in response to the time Tx determination by microprocessor 9, only the clock time for the third cycle positive zero crossing for each pulse is actually taken by microprocessor in the fine search mode for both master and secondary stations for the time difference of signal arrival measurements.

As is well known in the art, each of the pulses of the pulse trains received from master and secondary Loran-C stations is phase coded. This phase coding must be removed within our Loran-C receiver or 5 microsecond time measurement errors can occur. To accomplish this, when microprocessor 9 changes the receiver over to the fine search mode for either master or secondary station signal acquisition, the microprocessor parallel loads the phase coding for the first eight pulses of the next to be received master or secondary station pulse train of the selected Loran-C chain into parallel/serial converter 35 of logic circuit 16 via its φ code load output. Converter 35 is a conventional shift register well known in the art which may be loaded in parallel and then shifted out in serial to perform parallel to serial conversion. This phase coding is stored in microprocessor 9 and is selected by information input to the equipment by the operator using thumbwheel switches 11. The clocking input CL to converter 35 is 100 KHz and the pha phase code contents of converter 35 are serially shifted out at a 100 KHz rate. The output Q of converter 35 is connected via exclusive OR gate 33 to one of the two inputs of exclusive OR gate 36 in zero crossing detector 6. Exclusive OR gate 36 functions as an inverter in this case in a manner well known to circuit designers. When a particular one of the pulses of the pulse trains received from a master or secondary station is of a positive phase there is no signal or a zero on output Q from converter 35. The result is that each radio frequency cycle of a pulse is hard limited by limiter 17 and will pass directly through exclusive OR gate 36 to flip-flop 37 phase unchanged. Upon the expected receipt of a pulse which is to be of a negative phase, converter 35 will have a one at its output which causes gate 36 to invert the phase of the pulse output from limiter 17. That is, the signal being input to detector 6 is effectively shifted 180 thereby eliminating the negative phase coding applied to the particular pulse. This is done in order that there will be an output from exclusive OR gate 36 to place flip-flop 37 in its set state at exactly the beginning of each pulse of the pulse trains from the master and secondary stations irregardless of phase shift.

A second phase code shifting function is accomplished within the receiver to average out internally generated noise within the front end circuity of the receiver which noise normally creates a bias level which seriously affects the ability to locate the third cycle positive zero crossing of each pulse. After the receipt of two master station pulse trains the phase of all signals is inverted within the receiver to average out the noise.

Master pretime encoder 31 in logic circuit 16 is incremented by one each time a master station phase code is loaded into parallel to serial converter 35. Encoder 31 is connected to divider 32 which divides the contents of encoder 31 by four. The output of divider 32 is input to exclusive OR gate 33 which now functions as a phase inverter and inverts the entire phase code shifted out of converter 35. The output of divider 32 is also applied to the inverting input I of inverting amplifier 81 in FIG. 8. This causes all received signals to undergo a 180 degree phase shift after every two received master station pulse trains. The effect of this periodically alternating phase shift is removed at zero crossing detector 6 where internal noise is no longer a problem. Counter 34 causes gate 65 to reshift the phase code before being applied to gate 36 in zero crossing detector 6. Gate 36 then causes the alternating phase code reversal to be removed.

A gain control circuit 76 in FIG. 9 is also provided to automatically adjust the gain level of amplifier 81 in FIG. 8 to thereby assure that the signal level to other circuitry in the receiver is sufficient for proper operation of the circuitry. Potentiometer 77 is connected as a voltage divider and is adjusted to apply a predetermined voltage to one of the two inputs of comparator 78. The other input to comparator 78 is connected to the output of amplifier 81 to monitor the signal level. When the signal level output from amplifier 81 becomes too low, there is a high output from comparator 78 which is connected to one of the two inputs of AND gate 79. The other input of gate 79 goes high when flip-flop 66 in logic circuit 16 is placed in its reset state at the beginning of the calculated pretime. Thus, there is an output from gate 79 to place flip-flop 80 in its set or one state when the signal output from amplifier 81 is too low and at the beginning of pretime. Flip-flop being in its set state applies a signal to the control input C of amplifier 81 causing it to change to a higher gain level. The reset input of flip-flop 80 goes high returning it to its zero or reset state under control of the same signal that causes the calculated preset time to be loaded into latch 15 in FIG. 7. Thus, the gain of amplifier 81 is returned to its normal lower level prior to receiving each pulse train from a master or secondary station.

The signals output from microprocessor 9 to display 12 are applied to the appropriate digital display units therein. Digital display unit 51 is used to visually display the time difference of arrival information for one selected secondary station, and digital display 52 is used to visually display the time difference of arrival information for a second selected secondary station. The inputs of these digital displays is encoded and is appropriately decoded by anode drivers 46 and 47, anode decoder 48 and decoder/drivers 50 and 68 to drive digital displays 52 and 51 respectively. These displays along with their associated decoding and driving circuitry are well known in the art and are commercially available. In this embodiment of our invention, displays 51 and 52 are Itron FG612A1 fluorescent displays, but they may also be light emitting diode displays or liquid crystal displays, or any other form of visual display.

To select the secondary stations, the time difference of arrival measurements for which are to be displayed on displays 51 and 52, thumbwheel switches 61 and 62 are provided. Switch 61 is physically adjacent to display 51 and one of the numbers "1" to "5" are selected with this switch to indicate to processor 9 the information to be displayed. Similarly, thumbwheel switch 62 is associated with display 52 and is used by the equipment operator to indicate the particular secondary station arrival measurement to be displayed on display 52. Switch 11 shows no details but is made up of four individual switches such as represented by switch 61 in FIG. 7. The operation of a detented thumbwheel brings numbers into a window and output terminals of the switch indicates the chosen number to microprocessor 9.

The following program listing shows the complete source programs for the operation of microprocessor 9 in our Loran-C receiver. The programs are written in the PL/M language of Intel Corporation and must be run through a compiler to obtain the machine code to be loaded into the 8080 microprocessor used in our receiver. Descriptive headings are provided throughout the program listing to identify sub routines that implement various functions of the program. ##SPC1## ##SPC2## ##SPC3## ##SPC4## ##SPC5##

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Classifications
U.S. Classification342/389, 701/493
International ClassificationG01S1/02, G01S19/48
Cooperative ClassificationG01S1/026
European ClassificationG01S1/02A2
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