Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUSRE35020 E
Publication typeGrant
Application numberUS 08/138,709
Publication dateAug 15, 1995
Filing dateOct 15, 1993
Priority dateApr 10, 1990
Also published asCA2079869C, US5056884, WO1991015788A1
Publication number08138709, 138709, US RE35020 E, US RE35020E, US-E-RE35020, USRE35020 E, USRE35020E
InventorsThomas J. Quinlan, Jr.
Original AssigneeCubic Toll Systems, Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Fiber optic load sensing device
US RE35020 E
Abstract
A transverse load sensitive optical treadle switch. The switch includes a deformable longitudinal housing and a fiber optic assembly positioned within the housing The fiber optic assembly includes an optical fiber having a first end and a second end, the optical fiber being subject to bending upon application of a transverse load to said housing. Means for mounting the optical fiber in the housing so as to permit bending of the fiber in response to application of a transverse load to said housing are provided, the degree of bending sufficient to cause a significant decrease in passage of light through said fiber when said fiber is bent. Means permitting introduction of light into said optical fiber at the first end of the optical fiber and means for permitting the exit of light from the second end are also provided.
Images(4)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(24)
What is claimed is:
1. A treadle sensing device for vehicular traffic adapted to be mounted transversely on a roadway and to receive and sense a downward load of the type imparted by a vehicle wheel comprising
a longitudinal elastomeric envelope having spaced apart longitudinal walls in a lengthwise region of said envelope adapted to receive said load;
a portion of foam rubber embedded within said envelope; a fiber optic cable supported by said foam rubber within said region of said elastomeric envelope and running generally perpendicular to the direction of the load to be applied substantially the length of said region, said fiber optic cable having a first end adapted to be connected to a signal source of light and a second end adapted to be connected to a receiver;
means permitting deformation of said fiber optic cable within said envelope when a transverse load of the type applied by a vehicle wheel is applied to said envelope sufficient to significantly alter the amount of light transmitted through said fiber optic cable; and
means for preventing complete compression of said foam rubber where said fiber optic cable rests against said foam rubber during application of said load when said device is mounted on a roadway.
2. A load sensing device adapted to be mounted transversely on a roadway and to receive downwardly applied loads of the type imparted by an automotive vehicle wheel comprising
a longitudinal envelope having spaced apart peripheral walls defining an interior space therebetween in a region of said envelope adapted to receive said load, said walls remaining substantially longitudinally parallel to one another substantially throughout the region of said envelope adapted to receive said load, at least one of said walls in said region having an elastically deformable portion having a first interior surface deflectable into said interior space towards an opposing second interior surface of one of said peripheral walls upon the application of said load to said envelope;
a relatively soft compressible elastomeric insert embedded in said interior space of said envelope;
a fiber optic cable longitudinally positioned within said interior space of said envelope and resting against said insert, said fiber optic cable comprising an optical fiber having a first end adapted to receive light and a second end adapted to permit the exit of said light, said fiber optic cable being subject to sufficient deformation into said insert upon deflection of said first interior surface caused by application of said load so as to permit localized bending of said optical fiber sufficient to substantially alter the light transmitted through the optical fiber; and
means for preventing complete compression of said elastomeric insert where said fiber optic cable rests against said elastomeric insert during application of said load when said device is mounted on the surface of the roadway.
3. The load sensing device defined in claim 2, wherein said insert is a foam elastomeric.
4. The load sensing device defined in claim 2, wherein said fiber optic cable is bonded to said insert.
5. The load sensing device defined in claim 2, wherein said optical fiber has an inner core of a first refractive index and an outer layer of a second refractive index which is lower than said first refractive index, and wherein said tint end adapted to receive light and said second end adapted to permit the exit of said light permits introduction and exit of light from said core of said optical fiber.
6. The load sensing device defined in claim 5, wherein said fiber optic cable is a self contained sleeved fiber optic cable assembly comprising
a sleeve surrounding said optical fiber;
fulcrum means between said sleeve and said optical fiber spaced apart along the length of said optical fiber a predetermined average distance sufficient to facilitate said sufficient bending of said optical fiber between said fulcrum means in response to a load applied to said deflectable wall portion of said envelope to substantially alter the light transmitted through the optical fiber.
7. The load sensing device defined in claim 6, wherein said fulcrum means comprise a spiral fiber wound around said optical fiber and disposed within said sleeve.
8. The load sensing device defined in claim 7, wherein said spiral fiber is wound with a distance between winds in the range of at least twice the diameter of said optical fiber.
9. The load sensing device defined in claim 6, wherein said envelope is made of an elastomeric material and said sleeve is made of a material which is deformable but relatively stiffer than said elastomeric material of said envelope to facilitate said sufficient bending of said optical fiber between said fulcrum means when a load is applied to said envelope.
10. The load sensing device defined in claim 2, wherein said substantial alteration of said light passing through said optical fiber is an attenuation which is substantially linear in response to the magnitude of the applied load.
11. The load sensing device defined in claim 2, wherein said substantial alteration of said light is substantially complete attenuation of the amount of light passing through said optical fiber in response to the applied load.
12. The load sensing device defined in claim 2, wherein said interior surface of said deflectable wall portion is substantially fiat when undeformed.
13. The load sensing device defined in claim 2, wherein said envelope is formed of an elastomeric material.
14. The load sensing device defined in claim 2, wherein said fiber optic cable is U-shaped within said envelope.
15. The load sensing device defined in claim 2, wherein said region of said envelope adapted to receive a load includes an upper wall having an exterior side, said exterior side including a generally central portion adapted to receive the load to be applied so that the load to be applied will tend to be concentrated in the generally central portion of the exterior side of said upper wall.
16. The load sensing device defined in claim 15, wherein said generally central portion includes a convex exterior bump.
17. The load sensing device defined in claim 16, wherein said exterior side of said upper wall includes substantially horizontally fiat exterior portions to the sides of said convex exterior bump.
18. The load sensing device defined in claim 2, wherein said envelope includes exterior retention surfaces adapted to cooperate with and be retained by a frame assembly.
19. The load sensing device defined in claim 18, wherein at least one of said exterior retention surfaces includes an inwardly sloped exterior side surface.
20. The load sensing device defined in claim 2, wherein said preventing means comprises a frame assembly, said frame assembly including frame members adjacent said envelope, said frame members having a vertical height sufficient to prevent said complete compression of said elastomeric insert where said fiber optic cable rests against said elastomeric insert during application of said load.
21. The load sensing device defined in claim 20, wherein said frame assembly includes a member partially extending over at least a portion of said envelope, said member leaving a sufficient portion of envelope exposed to the load to be sensed to permit said sufficient bending of said optical fiber. .Iadd.
22. A treadle sensing device for vehicular traffic adapted to be mounted transversely on a roadway and to receive and sense a downward load of the type imparted by a vehicle wheel comprising
a longitudinal elastomeric envelope having spaced apart longitudinal walls in a lengthwise region of said envelope adapted to receive said load;
a substantially deformable inner member embedded within said envelope;
a fiber optic cable supported by said substantially deformable inner member within said region of said elastomeric envelope and running generally perpendicular to the direction of the load to be applied substantially the length of said region, said fiber optic cable having a first end adapted to be connected to a signal source of light and a second end adapted to be connected to a receiver;
means permitting deformation of said fiber optic cable within said envelope when a transverse load of the type applied by a vehicle wheel is applied to said envelope sufficient to significantly alter the amount of light transmitted through said fiber optic cable; and
means for preventing complete compression of said substantially deformable inner member where said fiber optic cable rests against said substantially deformable inner member during application of said load when said device is mounted on a roadway. .Iaddend. .Iadd.23. The device defined in claim 22, wherein said substantially deformable inner member includes a relatively compressible portion. .Iaddend. .Iadd.24. The device defined in claim 22, wherein said substantially deformable inner member is adapted to deflect downwardly to a substantial degree where it supports said fiber optic cable in response to application of said applied load. .Iaddend. .Iadd.25. The device defined in claim 22, wherein said substantially deformable inner member is a portion of air-conditioning elastomeric material. .Iaddend. .Iadd.26. The device defined in claim 22, wherein said envelope is mounted with respect to said roadway in such a manner that said deformation of said envelope during application of said load is limited to a predetermined amount. .Iaddend. .Iadd.27. The device defined in claim 26, wherein said predetermined amount is a deformation to a position substantially flush with an upper surface of said roadway proximate to said envelope. .Iaddend. .Iadd.28. The device defined in claim 22, wherein said envelope is mounted with respect to said roadway such that at least most of said envelope lies below an upper surface of said roadway and at least a portion of said envelope is uncovered by roadway material. .Iaddend. .Iadd.29. The device defined in claim 28, wherein a small portion of said envelope protrudes above said surface of said roadway. .Iaddend. .Iadd.30. The device defined in claim 22, wherein said load sensing device is configured as a vehicle axle counter and further comprises:
means operatively connected to said optical fiber for introducing light into said optical fiber;
means operatively connected to said optical fiber for receiving said light after it has been transmitted through said optical fiber and for sending said detectable alteration of said light caused by deformation of said optical fiber;
means operatively connected to said means for receiving and sensing said light for determining whether a predetermined threshold value of alteration of said light exists; and
means operatively connected to said threshhold determining means for causing a count when said threshhold value of alteration of said light exists due to the passage of said vehicle wheel over said device.
.Iaddend. .Iadd.31. A sensing device for vehicular traffic adapted to be mounted transversely on a roadway and to receive and sense a downward load of the type imparted by a vehicle wheel as the wheel passes over the device comprising
a longitudinal deformable envelope having a lengthwise region adapted to receive said load, said envelope being mounted with respect to said roadway at least partially exposed such that application of said load will cause deformation of said envelope; and
a fiber optic cable disposed within said region of said envelope and running generally perpendicular to the direction of the load to be applied substantially the length of said region, said fiber optic cable including an optical fiber adapted to be connected to a signal source of light and to a receiver, said fiber optic cable being disposed within said envelope such that deformation of said envelope in response to said load will cause deformation of said fiber optic cable and its included optical fiber sufficient to detectably alter the light transmitted through said optical fiber without overstressing said optical fiber upon a multiplicity of repeated applications of said load. .Iaddend. .Iadd.32. A sensing device for vehicular traffic adapted to be mounted transversely on a roadway and to receive and sense a downward load of the type imparted by a vehicle wheel as the wheel passes over the device comprising
a longitudinal elastomeric envelope having a lengthwise region adapted to receive said load, said envelope being adapted to be mounted with respect to said roadway such that application of said load will cause deformation of said envelope; and
a fiber optic cable disposed within said region of said elastomeric envelope and running generally perpendicular to the direction of the load to be applied substantially the length of said region, said fiber optic cable including an optical fiber adapted to be connected to a signal source of light and to a receiver, said fiber optic cable being disposed within said envelope such that deformation of said envelope in response to said load will cause deformation of said fiber optic cable and its included optical fiber sufficient to detectably alter the light transmitted through said optical fiber, said envelope being mounted with respect to said roadway in such a manner that said deformation of said envelope during application of said load is limited to a predetermined amount to prevent overstressing said optical fiber upon a multiplicity of repeated applications of said load. .Iaddend. .Iadd.33. The device defined in claim 32, wherein said predetermined amount is a deformation to a position substantially flush with an upper surface of said roadway proximate to said envelope. .Iaddend. .Iadd.34. The device defined in claim 32, wherein said envelope is mounted with respect to said roadway such that at least most of said envelope lies below an upper surface of said roadway and at least a portion of said envelope is uncovered by roadway material. .Iaddend. .Iadd.35. The device defined in claim 34, wherein a small portion of said envelope protrudes above said surface of said roadway. .Iaddend. .Iadd.36. A sensing device for vehicular traffic adapted to be mounted transversely on a roadway and to receive and sense a downward load of the type imparted by a vehicle wheel as the wheel passes over the device comprising
a longitudinal elastomeric envelope having at least one deformable side in a lengthwise region of said envelope adapted to receive said load and means defining a longitudinal cavity in said lengthwise region, said envelope being adapted to be mounted with respect to said roadway such that application of said load to cause deformation of said deformable side will cause deformation of said longitudinal cavity;
a compressible cushion within said envelope in a portion of said envelope disposed below said longitudinal cavity;
a fiber optic cable disposed within said means defining a longitudinal cavity in said region of said envelope and running generally perpendicular to the direction of the load to be applied substantially the length of said region, said fiber optic cable including an optical fiber adapted to be connected to a signal source of light and to a receiver,
said fiber optic cable being disposed within said envelope such that deformation of said cavity in response to said load will cause deformation of said fiber optic cable and its included optical fiber sufficient to detectable alter the light transmitted through said optical fiber,
said envelope being adapted to be mounted with respect to said roadway as to prevent complete compression of said cushion during application of said
load. .Iaddend. .Iadd.37. A sensing device for vehicular traffic mounted transversely on a roadway and adapted to receive and sense a downward load of the type imparted by a vehicle wheel as the wheel passes over the device comprising
a longitudinal envelope having at least one deformable wall and means defining a longitudinal cavity in a lengthwise region of said envelope adapted to receive said load, said longitudinal cavity being subject to deformation upon deformation of said deformable wall;
a compressible cushion disposed in said envelope below said longitudinal cavity;
a fiber optic cable disposed within said cavity in said region of said elastomeric envelope and running generally perpendicular to the direction of the load to be applied substantially the length of said region, said fiber optic cable including an optical fiber adapted to be connected to a signal source of light and to a receiver;
means permitting deformation of said fiber optic cable and said included optical fiber within said longitudinal cavity of said envelope when a transverse load of the type applied by a vehicle wheel is applied to said envelope sufficient to detectably alter the light transmitted through said optical fiber.
said envelope being mounted with respect to said roadway in such a manner as to prevent complete compression of said cushion. .Iaddend. .Iadd.38. The device defined in claim 37, wherein said envelope is formed of elastomeric material. .Iadd.39. The device defined in claim 37, wherein said load sensing device is configured as a vehicle axle counter and further comprises:
means operatively connected to said optical fiber for introducing light into said optical fiber;
means operatively connected to said optical fiber for receiving said light after it has been transmitted through said optical fiber and for sensing said detectable alteration of said light caused by deformation of said optical fiber;
means operatively connected to said means for receiving and sensing said light for determining whether a predetermined threshhold value of alteration of said light exists; and
means operatively connected to said threshhold determining means for causing a count when said threshhold value of alteration of said light exists due to the passage of said vehicle wheel over said device.
Description
FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to switches for sensing the passage of a vehicle over a treadle, and in particular to a novel treadle switch design utilizing fiber optics as the sensing means.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

In toll road and other applications where the passage of a vehicle is sensed, it is often required to quantify the number of axles associated with a vehicle. This is generally accomplished by means of weight sensitive treadles placed across the roadway.

Conventional treadle designs commonly employ a treadle switch unit consisting of an elastomeric envelope housing an electrical sensing unit. In one common form, the interior of the envelope is provided with spaced contact strips defined by upper and lower interior surfaces which are normally separated by air recesses running longitudinally. When the weight of a vehicle wheel is upon the treadle, it deforms the envelope and causes the contacts to engage each other (electrically) to complete a circuit. The electrical sensing means for the treadle switch may, to like effect, consist of a variable resistor which changes its electrical resistance in response to stress caused by deformation or a piezoelectric sensor which provides a voltage in response to stress. The important feature common to these electrical sensing means is that the sensor produces a readily detectible change in the current and/or voltage in response to weight applied to the unit.

These treadle switch designs all rely upon electrical current flow and are therefore particularly subject to failure due to intrusion of moisture, salts and/or other contaminants. Accordingly, the lifetime of such electrically sensing treadle designs is unduly limited. Because these treadles are typically in traffic lanes, replacement causes undesirable disruption of traffic in addition to expense.

This invention relates to a completely sealed treadle switch utilizing a fiber optic sensor of the intrinsic type. For comparison, with extrinsic fiber optic sensors, light leaves the fiber and is blocked or reflected before going back into the fiber optic system. Thus, extrinsic optical sensors have the same disadvantages as photo-electric controls in that they ar affected by dirt, contamination and mechanical vibration. By contrast, with an intrinsic fiber optic sensor, the light is processed (i.e., is detectably altered due to stress) as it passes along the fiber. This can be in the form of phase angle change or speckle pattern detection, or other attenuation.

OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide a treadle switch design which overcomes the foregoing disadvantages of treadle designs with electrical sensors or extrinsic optical sensors.

In particular. it is an object of the present invention to provide a treadle switch having a fiber optic sensor which employs light rather than electrical current flow for its sensing operation and is therefore less subject to failure due to presence of moisture, salts and other contaminants than electrical sensors.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide a treadle which is simple, robust. long lived, and has a high inherent reliability.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, a transverse load sensitive optical switch is provided which includes a longitudinal housing having at least one deformable side and a fiber optic assembly positioned within the housing. The fiber optic assembly includes an optical fiber having a first end and a second end, the optical fiber being subject to bending upon application of a transverse load to said housing.

The fiber optic assembly also includes means for mounting the optical fiber in the housing so as to permit bending of the fiber in response to application of a transverse load to said housing, the degree of bending being sufficient to cause a significant decrease in passage of light through the fiber when the fiber is bent. Mean permitting introduction of light into said optical fiber at the first end of the optical fiber and means for permitting the exit of light from the second end are also provided.

In a preferred aspect of this embodiment, the means for mounting the optical fiber include a plurality of fulcrum means positioned along the length of the optical fiber at intervals sufficient to permit sufficient bending of the optical fiber between the fulcrums in response to a transverse load applied to the housing to substantially alter the amount of light transmitted through the optical fiber.

In another preferred embodiment of the present invention, the transverse load sensitive optical switch comprises a longitudinal housing having at least one deformable side and a fiber optic assembly positioned within the housing. The fiber optic assembly includes a graded optical fiber having a first end and a second end longitudinally positioned in said housing so as to be subject to bending upon application of a transverse load to the housing, the fiber having an inner core of a material having a first refractive index and an outer layer of a material having a second refractive index which is lower than the first refractive index. Means for mounting the optical fiber in the housing adapted to permit bending of the fiber in response to application of a transverse load to the housing, the degree of bending being sufficient to cause a significant increase in passage of light from said core to said sleeve while said fiber is bent, are also provided. Means permitting the introduction of light into the optical fiber at the first end of the optical fiber and for permitting the exit of light from the second end are also provided.

In accordance with a further aspect of this embodiment, the means for mounting the optical fiber preferably comprises a spiral fiber wound around the optical fiber, the spiral fiber having adjacent winds spaced apart from one another a predetermined distance averaging at least in the range of twice the diameter of the optical fiber so as to permit sufficient bending of the optical fiber between the winds of the spiral fiber in response to a transverse load applied to the housing to substantially alter the amount of light transmitted through the optical fiber. The turn of the wound fiber functions essentially as fulcrums to facilitate bending of the optical fiber.

Advantageously, the switch assembly further comprises a sleeve surrounding the optical fiber and the spiral fiber to keep said spiral fiber wound around said optical fiber and to permit the sufficient bending of the optical fiber. Preferably, the sleeve is made of a material which is deformable but relatively stiffer than at least one deformable side of the housing to facilitate bending of the optical fiber between the winds of the spiral fiber when a transverse load is applied to the housing.

In a yet further embodiment of the present invention, a treadle switch unit for vehicular traffic adapted to be mounted transversely on a roadway is provided which comprises a longitudinal elastomeric envelope; a portion of foam rubber embedded within the envelope; and a fiber optic cable supported by the foam rubber within the elastomeric envelope and running substantially the length of the treadle switch unit. The fiber optic cable has a first end adapted to be connected to a signal source of light and a second end adapted to be connected a receiving unit, further including means permitting deformation of said fiber optic cable within the envelope when a transverse load is applied to the envelope sufficient to significantly alter the amount of light transmitted through the fiber optic cable.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other objects, features and advantages of the present invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art in view of the following description and drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a plan view of a treadle unit employing the fiber optic switch of the present invention, with a section broken away;

FIG. 2 is an elevation view of the treadle unit depicted in FIG. 1. with a section broken away;

FIG. 3 is an end sectional view of an optical fiber having an inner core of higher refractive index and an outer layer of lower refractive index employed in a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a sectional elevation view of the optic cable depicted in FIG. 3, in its unstressed state, schematically illustrating light passing through the core of the optic cable relatively unimpeded;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view, partially in section, of a portion of a fiber optic cable constructed in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 6 is a sectional elevation view of the optic cable depicted in FIG. 3, in its stressed and bent state, schematically illustrating light exiting from the core of the fiber optic cable into the outer layer;

FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view of the treadle unit depicted in FIG. 1;

FIG. 8 is an end elevation view depicting the treadle unit depicted in FIG. 1 and FIG. 2. mounted in a support frame including a grouping of four treadle switches;

FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional view of a single treadle unit depicted in FIGS. 7 and 8, shown depressed and distorted under a compressive force similar to that as shown applied in FIG. 8; and

FIG. 10 is a schematic depiction of a light signal source and light signal receiving unit adapted for use in conjunction with the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Turning now to the drawings in detail, and initially to FIGS. 1 and 2 thereof, a treadle switch unit 20 in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention is depicted. This treadle switch device is generally designated as designed for vehicular traffic, and is adapted to be mounted transversely on a roadway. As depicted in FIG. 8, this treadle unit can be mounted in a fixed frame and can be used singularity or in quantity up to and including (4) four treadle switch units 36, 38. 40 and 42, or more.

The treadle switch unit of the present invention is shown particularly in the cross-sectional view thereof of FIG. 7 of the drawings and comprises an envelope preferably of an elastomeric, such as a rubber or urethane, generally designated as 44. The fiber-optic cable is bonded to a base 46 of a soft foam rubber insert supported by the elastomeric envelope of rubber or urethane, which advantageously serves as a deformable side of the envelope. This inner foam rubber allows the compression and bending of the fiber optic cable when compressive force is applied as shown in FIGS. 8 and 9. The fiber optic cable shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 is an intrinsic fiber optic cable, 48, bonded to a support base of foam rubber 46 and connected to the electronic control sending and receiving unit 50 through optical connectors 52 and 54.

FIGS. 1 and 2 illustrate the treadle 42 in a singular mode and further illustrate the construction of a rubber-urethane envelope having a specifically designed contour as shown in FIGS. 7, 8, and 9. This contour allows for rapid mounting on the treadle frame assembly 34, locked in place by the wedge locking bars, 56, and secure and protected by the top cover plates 58.

The fiber optic treadle 20 is a pressure sensitive device molded in a rubber compound. It is installed in a frame assembly 34 which lays flush with the road surface and counts the number of axles on each vehicle. The fiber optic portion of the treadle consists of an optical fiber 22 having a "glass" core 24 with a high refractive index (bending of wave of light as it passes from one medium into another) and an outer layer 26 having a lower refractive index. The fiber also includes a protective hard acrylic coating 31. Any light which deviates from the center core is bent back into the center by the lower refractive index of the outer layer. If the fiber is bent at a point or points along its length, some light is guided out of the core into the outer layer where it is dispersed. Light passing down the fiber is virtually switched off by pressure applied the spiral 30. An infra red light (led) is used to send light into the sensing fiber.

Turning now to FIG. 3, a preferred embodiment of the transverse load sensitive fiber optic switch of the present invention employing a graded optical fiber 22 is depicted. This graded optical fiber consists of a glass core 24 of high refractive index and an outer layer 26 having a lower refractive index. Any light which deviates from the center core is bent back into the center by the lower refractive index of the outer layer. This is shown in FIG. 4. When the fiber is bent, some of the light 27 will follow a path through the core, or follow other possible light paths or modes of transmission 29 as demonstrated in FIG. 6.

To achieve this micro bending over short or long lengths of fiber, a plastic spiral 30 is used. Preferably, the spiral is wound around the optical fiber with the winding spaced apart a distance averaging at least in the range of twice the diameter of the optical fiber. This permits bending of the optical fiber to a degree sufficient to significantly decrease the amount of light transmitted through the optical fiber core, without damage to the optical fiber. This is then preferably covered with a sleeve 28 to hold the assembly together as shown in FIG. 5. The whole assembly is very flexible and can be taken round corners down to 25 mm radius.

If the fiber is bent at certain points along its length, some light is guided out of the core 24 into the outer layer 26 where it is dispersed, as illustrated in FIG. 6. To the naked eye, light passing down the fiber appears virtually switched off by pressure applied to the spiral. In addition, the movement required to give this attenuation is only 0.04 min. After this movement the fiber can be squeezed a further 0.1 mm before it is over-stressed. When operating over the normal attenuation range, the fiber has been tested to more than 8 million operations without any measurable change in the level of attenuation. Lastly, there is excellent linearity in the relationship of attenuation to applied force.

A light signal source and light signal receiving unit 50 with respective light supply and light return connections 54 and 52 to the fiber optic cable. Advantageously, an infra-red light emitting diode (LED) is used to launch light into the sensing fiber. The light intensity is sensed at the remote end using a photo detector. By comparing the output level of the photo detector with a reference, any change in the amount of light passing through the detector can be measured. The power supply to the LED is pulsed at 2 kHz for maximum light intensity. The pulse train is modified so that 1 in 11 is missed. The missed pulse is used to verify the control circuit integrity passing through the fiber.

The light intensity is sensed using a photo-detector and by comparing the output level of the photo detector with a reference, any change in the amount of light passing through the detector can be measured. The contacts are set to open when the signal drops below a threshold (action similar to on/off switch).

FIG. 8 depicts and assembly of four treadles constructed in accordance with the invention, three of which (treadles 36, 40 and 42) are in the free, or waiting (unstressed) state shown in FIG. 8. These treadles carry a pulsed signal light beam from the light power supply, 4, through the fiber optic cable and back to the receiving connection of the said light power supply, 4. Treadle 8 in FIG. 8 illustrates compression force bending the fiber optic cable. By knowing the output level of the infra-red light emitting diode (LED) any deviation in signal light will be measured by the detector. The voltage free contacts are set to open when the signal drops below a threshold. This gives a straight on/off sensor. The structure and operation of the treadle switch unit and the improvement thereof over known treadle switch units is believed to be fully apparent from the above detailed description. It will be further apparent that changes may be made in the detailed structure of the improved treadle switch unit of the invention without departing from the spirit of the invention defined in the appended claims.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4443700 *May 13, 1982Apr 17, 1984Pedro B. MacedoOptical sensing apparatus and method
US4455465 *Jan 10, 1983Jun 19, 1984Automatic Toll Systems, Inc.Treadle assembly with plural replaceable treadle switches
US4482203 *Dec 21, 1983Nov 13, 1984Gould Inc.Adjustable coupling device for a fiber-optic power divider
US4488040 *Nov 19, 1982Dec 11, 1984Gte Products CorporationFiber optic sensor
US4749246 *Jun 10, 1987Jun 7, 1988Stc PlcOptical fiber sensors
US4795232 *Jun 27, 1985Jan 3, 1989Telefonaktiebolaget Lm EricssonFibre optic cable responsive to microbending forces
US4830461 *Jan 21, 1988May 16, 1989Bridgestone CorporationElastic deformation of an optical waveguide having a core of synthetic rubber; heat resistance; impact strength
US4927232 *Mar 13, 1989May 22, 1990G2 Systems CorporationStructural monitoring system using fiber optics
US5056884 *Apr 10, 1990Oct 15, 1991Automatic Toll Systems, Inc.Fiber optic load sensing device
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US6580853 *Jan 3, 2002Jun 17, 2003Daniel David HarrisonOptical high speed communications for a computed tomography x-ray machine
US6625363 *Jun 6, 2001Sep 23, 2003NufernCladding-pumped optical fiber
US6687445Jun 25, 2001Feb 3, 2004NufernDouble-clad optical fiber for lasers and amplifiers
US6779364Nov 4, 2002Aug 24, 2004NufernCladding-pumped optical fiber and methods for fabricating
US6950586Sep 2, 2003Sep 27, 2005Ocg Technology Licensing, LlcFiber for enhanced energy absorption
US6972687 *Jul 14, 2003Dec 6, 2005Robert A MarshallSystem and method for detecting a structure failure
US7003206Jun 24, 2004Feb 21, 2006NufernCladding-pumped optical fiber and methods for fabricating
US7800047 *Mar 17, 2005Sep 21, 2010Woven Electronics, LlcApparatus and method for a computerized fiber optic security system
Classifications
U.S. Classification385/13, 250/227.16, 385/32, 385/51
International ClassificationG01D5/353, G08G1/02
Cooperative ClassificationG01D5/353, G01L1/242, G08G1/02
European ClassificationG01D5/353, G08G1/02, G01L1/24B
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jul 24, 2008ASAssignment
Owner name: TC LICENSE LTD., PENNSYLVANIA
Free format text: TERMINATION AND RELEASE OF SECURITY;ASSIGNOR:JPMORGAN CHASE BANK, N.A.;REEL/FRAME:021281/0468
Effective date: 20080701
Jan 10, 2005ASAssignment
Owner name: JPMORGAN CHASE BANK, N.A., AS ADMINISTRATIVE AGENT
Free format text: SECURITY AGREEMENT;ASSIGNOR:TC LICENSE LTD.;REEL/FRAME:015541/0098
Effective date: 20041213
Free format text: SECURITY AGREEMENT;ASSIGNOR:TC LICENSE LTD. /AR;REEL/FRAME:015541/0098
Jan 5, 2005ASAssignment
Owner name: TC (BERMUDA) LICENSE, LTD., VIRGINIA
Free format text: TERMINATION AND RELEASE OF SECURITY INTEREST (PREVIOUSLY RECORDED AT REEL 14119 FRAME 0886);ASSIGNOR:HARRIS TRUST AND SAVINGS BANK;REEL/FRAME:015521/0010
Effective date: 20041210
Owner name: TC (BERMUDA) LICENSE, LTD. 8614 WESTWOOD CENTER DR
Free format text: TERMINATION AND RELEASE OF SECURITY INTEREST (PREVIOUSLY RECORDED AT REEL 14119 FRAME 0886);ASSIGNOR:HARRIS TRUST AND SAVINGS BANK /AR;REEL/FRAME:015521/0010
Dec 9, 2004ASAssignment
Owner name: TC LICENSE LTD., PENNSYLVANIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:TC (BERMUDA) LICENSE, LTD.;REEL/FRAME:015438/0556
Effective date: 20041207
Owner name: TC LICENSE LTD. 8158 ADAMS DRIVEHUMMELSTOWN, PENNS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:TC (BERMUDA) LICENSE, LTD. /AR;REEL/FRAME:015438/0556
Jan 6, 2003ASAssignment
Owner name: HARRIS TRUST AND SAVINGS BANK, AS AGENT, ILLINOIS
Free format text: SECURITY INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:TC (BERMUDA) LICENSE, LTD.;REEL/FRAME:014119/0886
Effective date: 20021018
Owner name: HARRIS TRUST AND SAVINGS BANK, AS AGENT 111 W. MON
Nov 21, 2002ASAssignment
Owner name: TC (BERMUDA) LICENSE, LTD., BERMUDA
Free format text: TERMINATION OF SECURITY INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:HARRIS TRUST AND SAVINGS BANK;REEL/FRAME:013516/0561
Effective date: 20021018
Owner name: TC (BERMUDA) LICENSE, LTD. C/O CEDAR HOUSE 41 CEDA
Free format text: TERMINATION OF SECURITY INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:HARRIS TRUST AND SAVINGS BANK /AR;REEL/FRAME:013516/0561
Jan 4, 2002ASAssignment
Owner name: HARRIS TRUST & SAVINGS BANK, AS AGENT, ILLINOIS
Free format text: THIRD AMENDED AND RESTATED CONDITIONAL ASSIGNMENT & TRADEMARK SECURITY AGREEMENT;ASSIGNOR:TC (BERMUDA) LICENSE, LTD.;REEL/FRAME:012418/0262
Effective date: 20010910
Owner name: HARRIS TRUST & SAVINGS BANK, AS AGENT 111 W. MONRO
Free format text: THIRD AMENDED AND RESTATED CONDITIONAL ASSIGNMENT & TRADEMARK SECURITY AGREEMENT;ASSIGNOR:TC (BERMUDA) LICENSE, LTD. /AR;REEL/FRAME:012418/0262
Oct 9, 2001ASAssignment
Owner name: TRANSCORE, L.P., PENNSYLVANIA
Free format text: RELEASEOF SECURITY INTEREST IN PATENTS;ASSIGNOR:HARRIS TRUST AND SAVINGS BANK;REEL/FRAME:012243/0883
Effective date: 20010910
Owner name: TRANSCORE, L.P. LIBERTY CENTRE 8158 ADAMS DRIVE HU
Owner name: TRANSCORE, L.P. LIBERTY CENTRE 8158 ADAMS DRIVEHUM
Free format text: RELEASEOF SECURITY INTEREST IN PATENTS;ASSIGNOR:HARRIS TRUST AND SAVINGS BANK /AR;REEL/FRAME:012243/0883
Oct 4, 2001ASAssignment
Owner name: TC (BERMUDA) LICENSE, LTD., BERMUDA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:TC (BERMUDA) FINANCE, LTD.;REEL/FRAME:012243/0203
Effective date: 20010910
Owner name: TC (BERMUDA) LICENSE, LTD. CEDAR HOUSE 41 CEDAR AV
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:TC (BERMUDA) FINANCE, LTD. /AR;REEL/FRAME:012243/0203
Oct 3, 2001ASAssignment
Owner name: TC (BERMUDA) FINANCE, LTD., BERMUDA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:TRANSCORE, L.P.;REEL/FRAME:012243/0188
Effective date: 20010910
Owner name: TC (BERMUDA) FINANCE, LTD. CEDAR HOUSE 41 CEDAR AV
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:TRANSCORE, L.P. /AR;REEL/FRAME:012243/0188
Sep 13, 2001ASAssignment
Owner name: TRANSCORE, LP, PENNSYLVANIA
Free format text: CHANGE OF ENTITY TYPE;ASSIGNOR:TRANSCORE, INC.;REEL/FRAME:012166/0754
Effective date: 20010910
Owner name: TRANSCORE, LP LIBERTY CENTRE BUILDING 200 8158 ADA
Free format text: CHANGE OF ENTITY TYPE;ASSIGNOR:TRANSCORE, INC. /AR;REEL/FRAME:012166/0754
Jun 27, 2001ASAssignment
Owner name: TRANSCORE, INC., PENNSYLVANIA
Free format text: CHANGE OF NAME;ASSIGNOR:SYNTONIC TECHNOLOGY, INC.;REEL/FRAME:011934/0406
Effective date: 19991115
Owner name: TRANSCORE, INC. 8158 ADAMS DRIVE, LIBERTY CENTRE H
Owner name: TRANSCORE, INC. 8158 ADAMS DRIVE, LIBERTY CENTREHU
Free format text: CHANGE OF NAME;ASSIGNOR:SYNTONIC TECHNOLOGY, INC. /AR;REEL/FRAME:011934/0406
Mar 26, 2001ASAssignment
Owner name: HARRIS TRUST & SAVINGS BANK, AS AGENT, ILLINOIS
Free format text: SECOND AMENDED & RESTATED CONDITIONAL ASSIGNMENT & PATENT SECURITY AGREEMENT;ASSIGNOR:TRANSCORE, INC.;REEL/FRAME:011648/0129
Effective date: 20010205
Owner name: HARRIS TRUST & SAVINGS BANK, AS AGENT 111 W. MONRO
Owner name: HARRIS TRUST & SAVINGS BANK, AS AGENT 111 W. MONRO
Free format text: SECOND AMENDED & RESTATED CONDITIONAL ASSIGNMENT & PATENT SECURITY AGREEMENT;ASSIGNOR:TRANSCORE, INC. /AR;REEL/FRAME:011648/0129
Nov 21, 2000ASAssignment
Owner name: DEUTSCHE FINANCIAL SERVICES CORPORATION, ILLINOIS
Free format text: SECURITY INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:SYNTONIC TECHNOLOGY, INC.;REEL/FRAME:011295/0195
Effective date: 20000630
Owner name: DEUTSCHE FINANCIAL SERVICES CORPORATION 111 WEST M
Aug 22, 2000ASAssignment
Owner name: SYNTONIC TECHNOLOGY, INC., PENNSYLVANIA
Free format text: RELEASE BY SECURED PARTY;ASSIGNOR:DEUTSCHE FINANCIAL SERVICES CORPORATION;REEL/FRAME:011058/0408
Effective date: 20000627
Owner name: SYNTONIC TECHNOLOGY, INC. LIBERTY CENTER, BUILDING
Sep 21, 1999ASAssignment
Owner name: DEUTSCHE FINANCIAL SERVICES CORPORATION, GEORGIA
Free format text: SECURITY INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:TRANSCORE HOLDING, INC.;SYNTONIC TECHNOLOGY, INC.;JHK & ASSOCIATES, INC.;REEL/FRAME:010247/0458
Effective date: 19990903
Aug 23, 1999ASAssignment
Owner name: SYNTONIC TECHNOLOGY, INC., A DELAWARE CORPORATION,
Free format text: MERGER;ASSIGNOR:CUBIC TOLL SYSTEMS, INC., A NEW YORK CORPORATION;REEL/FRAME:010180/0481
Effective date: 19971027
Owner name: SYNTONIC TECHNOLOGY, INC., CALIFORNIA
Free format text: MERGER;ASSIGNOR:CUBIC TOLL SYSTEMS, INC.;REEL/FRAME:010175/0509
Effective date: 19960604
Oct 15, 1993ASAssignment
Owner name: CUBIC TOLL SYSTEMS, INC., NEW YORK
Free format text: CHANGE OF NAME;ASSIGNOR:AUTOMATIC TOLL SYSTEMS, INC.;REEL/FRAME:006759/0653
Effective date: 19910313