|Publication number||USRE42731 E1|
|Application number||US 11/657,988|
|Publication date||Sep 27, 2011|
|Filing date||Sep 14, 2000|
|Priority date||Sep 16, 1999|
|Also published as||EP1212584A2, EP1212584A4, EP1923667A2, EP1923667A3, EP1923667B1, US6272925, US6550329, US20010042403, WO2001020257A2, WO2001020257A3|
|Publication number||11657988, 657988, PCT/2000/25318, PCT/US/0/025318, PCT/US/0/25318, PCT/US/2000/025318, PCT/US/2000/25318, PCT/US0/025318, PCT/US0/25318, PCT/US0025318, PCT/US025318, PCT/US2000/025318, PCT/US2000/25318, PCT/US2000025318, PCT/US200025318, US RE42731 E1, US RE42731E1, US-E1-RE42731, USRE42731 E1, USRE42731E1|
|Inventors||William S. Watson|
|Original Assignee||Watson Industries, Inc.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (32), Non-Patent Citations (8), Referenced by (4), Classifications (15), Legal Events (2)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application claims priority from Patent Cooperation Treaty application no. PCT/US00/25318, filed on Sep. 14, 2000, which is itself a Continuation-in-Part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/397,718 filed Sep. 16, 1999. In addition, U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/880,433 filed on 13 Jun. 2001 is a divisional application of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/397,718.
The present invention is drawn to an angular rate sensor of the type utilizing an oscillating resonating element. More specifically, the present invention is drawn to the shape and placement of actuators and pick-offs upon resonating elements of angular rate gyroscopes.
Rate gyroscopes operate on the principle of inertia. Standing waves are excited in a resonating element to produce a desired mode of oscillation having a predetermined number of nodes. The oscillations have an amplitude, a frequency, and an inherent oscillatory inertia that is independent of the linear and rotational inertia of the gyroscope itself. When the resonating element is rotated about its sensing axis, the oscillations will in large part maintain their absolute spatial orientation. However, in maintaining their absolute spatial orientation, the nodes that define the desired mode of oscillation will rotate with respect to the physical structure of the resonating element. This rotation of the nodes is proportional to the physical rotation applied to the resonating element. Taking advantage of this phenomenon, it is possible to measure the rate of rotation and determine the magnitude and direction of the rotation that the resonating element has been subjected to about its sensitive axis.
Solid-state gyroscopes based on the principle described above are capable of sensing rotation only, and then only about a single axis. To obtain information sufficient to determine the relative attitude of a body, it is necessary to group at least three such gyroscopes in an orthogonal relationship covering the x, y, and z Cartesian axes.
One well-known type of angular rate sensor comprises piezoelectric ceramic crystals in a paired tuning fork arrangement. Examples of this type of angular rate sensor are shown in U.S. Pat. No. 4,628,7734 to Watson and U.S. Pat. No. 4,671,112 to Kimura. In this type of sensor a pair of drive elements are energized to induce a controlled vibration therein. The drive elements are arranged such that the oscillations induced are in a single plane. Sensing elements are coupled to the ends of the drive elements and oscillate along with the drive elements in the single plane. However, the sensing elements are arranged so that flexure of the sensing elements will take place only in a plane perpendicular to the plane of vibration of the driving elements. The application of a rotational force to the vibrating sensor elements in the perpendicular plane induces a sensed output signal that may be monitored and filtered to characterize the angular rate of change of the sensing object to which the sensing elements are mounted. Though the tuning fork type of angular rate sensor attempts to isolate the sensing elements from the drive elements by rotating the sensing elements 90° from the drive elements, small bending forces due to the oscillation of the drive elements are imposed upon the sensing elements. These undesirable bending forces create voltage signals that may degrade the signal to noise ratio of the voltage output of the sensing elements and may indicate falsely that the angular rate sensor is being rotated about its sensitive axis.
Another type of angular rate sensor utilizes a cup or bell shaped resonator that is forced to oscillate in known manner. One such sensor is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 5,218,867 to Varnham, et al. See
Problems with angular rate sensors of the type patented by Varnham include a relatively low Q value, low sensitivity, and low accuracy. For instance, the actuators and pick-offs of prior art devices such as the Varnham device, are uniformly large patches of conductive material applied to the resonator in a manner such that the actuators and pick-offs span a wide range of stresses in the resonator walls. Because piezoelectric voltages are generally proportional to the stress in a piezoelectric material, a voltage applied across a region subject to a range of stresses causes the areas of differing stress within the piezoelectric material to work against one another, thereby reducing the Q value of the resonator. Likewise, a voltage measured across a wide range of stresses is more likely to be an average of the voltages produced in the resonator at each of the stress gradients that a pick-off crosses.
In addition, the application of actuators and pick-offs across a range of stresses, in combination with non-uniform voltage responses in the piezoelectric materials, make it more difficult to force the resonator to oscillate in its desired mode. In order to ensure the proper oscillation, much more energy is expended in the correction of the vibrations, thereby lowering the Q value of the resonator. The Q value of a vibrating system is the ratio of the magnitude of the total energy of a vibrating system to the magnitude of the energy added to the system during each oscillatory cycle.
The large size of the conductive patches of the pick-offs contributes to the low accuracy of rate gyroscopes of the type patented by Varnham.
A further problem can arise because, in general, piezoelectric materials are made up of many individual crystals that have been sintered together and given a particular polarity by the application of a strong DC voltage. Where this polarization is performed over a discrete area of the piezoelectric material, such as over the surface of the resonator covered by the conductive patches of the actuators and pick-offs, the polarization of the material at the edges of the discrete area will not be in the desired direction and will therefore generate irregular voltage responses. In addition, it is not uncommon that the piezoelectric material of the resonator will be subject to irregular stresses or flexure. The combination of irregular stresses or flexure with uneven edge polarization may cause severe fluctuations in the accuracy and sensitivity of the angular rate sensor and may also lower the Q value of the system.
In addition to the problems mentioned above, it is known to make electrical connections between actuators and pick-offs on a resonator and the associated sensing and filtering electronics, using fine wires 23 as connectors. See
Therefore, it is an objective of the present invention to provide a uniformly polarized piezoelectric resonator. It is another object of the present invention to improve the accuracy and Q value of the resonator by providing a plurality of actuators that are contoured to conform to areas of substantially uniform stress in the walls of the resonator and which are located on the resonator so as to maximize the flexure of the resonator wall per unit volt applied to the resonator. Similarly, it is yet another object of the invention to suppress unwanted modes of oscillation through the proper arrangement of actuators and pick-offs on the piezoelectric resonator. Another objective of the present invention is to provide a pick-off structure that minimizes error due to undesirable stresses and deformations present in a resonating element. Another objective is to reduce the inherent variations in output voltage sensed at the nodal pick-offs due to fluctuations in the environmental conditions in which the gyroscope is operating. Yet another objective is to provide more reliable electrical connections between the actuators and pick-offs and the electronics used to filter and process the electrical signals received from and sent to the actuators and pick-offs, respectively.
With the aforesaid background in mind, improved pick-off and actuator conductors have been developed which minimize error in the angular rate of change reported by an angular rate sensing gyroscope. Furthermore, angular rate sensing gyroscopes incorporating the present invention have a more uniform voltage response and are provided with conductive leads that are relatively resistant to damage.
An angular rate sensing gyroscope constructed according to the present invention comprises a resonating element that is arranged and constructed to output voltage signals proportional to a level of stress induced therein, means for imposing a predetermined mode of oscillation upon the resonating element, a voltage pick-off conductor on the surface of the resonating element that is arranged and constructed to sense stress-induced voltage signals outputted by the resonating element, and means for processing the voltage signals sensed by the pick-off conductor. The pick-off is applied to an area of the surface of the resonating element where the stress in the shell wall is minimal and preferably substantially zero when the gyroscope is rotationally stationary. Consequently, any voltage signals sensed by the pick-off conductor are indicative of the rate at which the gyroscope is rotating.
A resonating element according to the present invention is characterized by the ability to vibrate in a predetermined mode of oscillation defined by a plurality of stable nodes and anti-nodes. Actuator conductors of the present invention are applied to the surface of said resonating element substantially at the anti-nodes and pick-off conductors are applied substantially at the nodes. The advantageous arrangement of the actuator and pick-off conductors on the anti-nodes and nodes, respectively, results in a more sensitive and efficient angular rate sensing gyroscope.
The actuator conductors of the present invention are applied to the resonating element at predetermined locations upon the surface of the resonating element that are defined by boundaries that are congruent with areas of the resonating element that are subject to substantially uniform levels of stress when the gyroscope is rotationally stationary. Alternatively, the areas to which the actuator conductors are applied are demarcated by at least one stress gradient line that defines an area of substantially uniform stress present in the resonating element when the gyroscope is rotationally stationary. Essentially, the edges of the actuator conductors are congruent with the stress gradient contour lines that identify areas of substantially uniform stress in the resonating element. Often it is helpful for at least one of the actuator conductors to comprise two vertically symmetrical halves. These symmetrical halves are electrically isolated from one another and are independently electrically connected to a drive circuit that is constructed and arranged to apply a predetermined sequence of voltage signals to the resonating element through the actuators so as to impose a predetermined mode of oscillation upon said resonating element.
Because the size of a gyroscope constructed according to the present invention may vary greatly in size with each particular application, it is preferred to specify the general dimension of the actuators, pick-offs and leads in terms of a percentage of the diameter of the resonating element. In one embodiment the vertical and horizontal dimensions of the actuators are approximately 20% and 40% of the diameter of the resonating element, respectively. In this embodiment, a resonating element having a diameter of approximately 0.750 inches has an actuator conductor that is approximately 0.150 inches high and spans approximately 0.30 inches. This actuator conductor is disposed upon the surface of the shell wall symmetrically about the anti-node. The upper and lower boundaries of this actuator conductor are substantially congruent to stress gradient contour lines that delineate a line of substantially uniform stress in the shell wall.
Placement of the pick-off conductors at the nodes of the resonating element ensures that the pick-off conductors will sense a net voltage signal of substantially zero when the gyroscope is rotationally stationary. But where due to geometric or voltage response discontinuities the net voltage signal sensed by the pick-off conductor when the gyroscope is rotationally stationary is not substantially zero, a balancing conductor may be applied to the surface of the resonating element in conductive communication with the pick-off conductor. Balancing conductors are arranged and constructed to zero any net voltage signals sensed by the voltage pick-off conductor when the resonating element of the gyroscope is rotationally stationary. One embodiment of the present invention includes a pick-off having a width that is between 4% and 8% of the diameter of the resonating element.
The resonating element may be any of a number of suitable shapes. Specific examples of resonating elements include, but are not limited to, cylinder-, ring-, and bar-shaped structures. The bar-shaped structures that may be used as a resonating element have a polygonal cross section. One particular example of a suitable bar-shaped resonating element is a triangular prism having three longitudinal sides with each longitudinal side having applied thereto a conductive element. In this example, two of the three conductive elements are used as pick-off conductors and the third is the actuator conductor. Another example of a suitable resonating element is a curvilinear axi-symmetric shell fashioned from a piezoelectric material.
The present invention may also be adapted for use with an angular rate sensing gyroscope of a type comprising a ring suspended from a support structure in a magnetic field by a plurality of leg members. This ring shaped resonating element is capable of vibrating at a resonant frequency that is defined by a plurality of vibratory nodes and anti-nodes as is more completely described below. The ring is further provided with a plurality of pick-off conductors that are arranged to sense electrical currents indicative of the rate of rotation of the gyroscope. These rotation-indicating currents are induced in the pick-off conductors by movement of the ring and conductors through the magnetic field when the ring is deflected by rotation of the gyroscope. A plurality of actuator conductors is also arranged on the ring so as to pass currents through the magnetic field, thereby inducing resonant vibrations in the ring. In such a rate sensing gyroscope, the present invention embodies an improvement that comprises supporting the ring from a plurality of pairs of leg members. The leg members are located adjacent to and symmetrically bracket the nodes of the ring. Pick-off conductors are arranged upon the leg members so as to form a loop, each pick-off conductor being applied down one of the leg members of a pair of leg members, across the portion of the ring intermediate the pair of leg members, and up the remaining leg member of the pair of leg members. This arrangement advantageously centers the portions of the pick-off conductors on the ring symmetrically about the respective nodes of the ring. Likewise, a plurality of actuator conductors are arranged in a loop, being disposed down a leg member of a first pair of leg members, along the ring intermediate the first pair of leg members and a second pair of leg members, and up a leg member of the second pair of leg members nearest the first pair of leg members. This arrangement also permits the actuator conductors to be centered symmetrically about the respective anti-nodes of the ring. The respective conductor loops formed by the pick-off and actuator conductors are, in turn, electrically connected to circuit means for operating the gyroscope.
In this embodiment of the present invention, each node and anti-node of the ring may be provided with a pick-off conductor or actuator conductor, respectively. However, there is no requirement that each of the nodes and anti-nodes have a conductor associated therewith. Furthermore, it may be desirable to extend the pick-off conductors and actuator conductors around substantially the entire circumference of said ring, though again there is no such absolute requirement.
In a tuning fork type angular rate sensing gyroscope composed of vibrator components which include a pair of parallel piezoelectric drive elements and a pair of parallel piezoelectric sensing elements joined together in respectively orthogonal planes, a plurality of leads electrically connected to the drive and detection elements, and a plurality of lead terminals electrically connected to the leads, a voltage pick-off conductor according to the present invention is disposed on the surfaces of each of the sensing elements. These pick-off conductors are arranged and constructed to sense stress-induced voltage signals outputted by the resonating element that is indicative of a rate of rotation of the angular rate sensing gyroscope. The pick-off conductors are applied to areas of the surface of the sensing elements that are subject to substantially zero or minimal stress when the angular rate sensor is rotationally stationary. The voltage pick-off conductors provide electrical pathways from the sensing elements to the leads.
In another embodiment of the present invention, a resonating element having a polygonal cross-section has a predetermined number of improved conductive elements applied to the sides or faces thereof. The conductive elements are applied to the resonating element at areas of the sides or faces that are subject to drive motion stress which, when differentially sensed, is substantially zero or minimal when angular rate sensing gyroscope is rotationally stationary. The conductive elements of this embodiment may further be provided with a voltage balancing conductor applied to the resonating element in electrical communication with the conductive elements so as to zero or minimize net voltage signals sensed by said conductive elements when the angular rate sensing gyroscope is rotationally stationary. It is important to note that differential sensing using conductive elements that are applied to substantially the entire length of the resonating element tends to damp out uniformly applied disturbances to the resonating element such as vibrations and magnetic fields.
Another manner of ensuring that a resonating element will oscillate in a desired mode is to physically damp out unwanted modes of oscillation. This may be accomplished by altering the geometry or structure of the resonating element at predetermined locations upon the element. This manner of physical damping of oscillations is particularly, but not exclusively, applicable to axi-symmetric type resonating elements such as the ring- and the cylinder-shaped elements. With regard to the ring- and cylinder-shaped resonating elements, the specific means of physically damping out unwanted modes of oscillation may comprise thickening the walls or cross sections of these resonating elements at the anti-nodes thereof.
Rate sensing gyroscopes are more accurate when the piezoelectric material of the resonating element has a uniform voltage response. A method of improving the uniform voltage response of a piezoelectric resonating element at a predetermined location of a solid resonating element having first and second opposing surfaces begins with the step of applying a thick or thin film conductor to the entire first surface of the resonating element. Next, an applied film conductor is applied to the entire second surface of the resonating element. The respective applied film conductors are then connected to a DC voltage source that applies a DC voltage of predetermined strength across the respective applied film conductors so as to uniformly modify the voltage response of the piezoelectric material of the resonating element over substantially the entire area of the piezoelectric material located between the respective applied film conductors. Finally, predetermined portions of the respective applied film conductors are removed to create a plurality of discrete applied film conductors arranged upon one or both of the surfaces of the resonating element as described above.
The useful life of a rate gyroscope comprising an axi-symmetrical resonating element is greatly improved by providing a plurality of applied film conductor leads which extend from each of the actuator conductors and pick-off conductors arranged upon the surface of the resonating element, to the base portion of the resonating element. The applied film conductor leads electrically connect the actuator conductors and pick-off conductors to circuitry for operating the angular rate sensing gyroscope. The use of applied film conductor leads in the place of fine wires reduces the amount of failures due to stress fracture of the wires. A suitable applied film conductor lead has a width between 1% and 4% of the diameter of the resonating element to which it is applied. Preferably, the electrical connections between the applied film conductor leads and the drive circuitry of the gyroscope are made at the base of the resonating element where there is substantially no vibration in the resonating element.
These and other objects and advantages of the invention will become readily apparent as the following description is read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings wherein like reference numerals have been utilized to designate like elements throughout the several views wherever possible.
The preferred embodiment of the present invention may be used in conjunction with various types of resonating elements used in rate gyroscopes. However, the preferred embodiment of the present invention will be most fully described as applied to an axi-symmetric shell 10 such as the shell illustrated in
Referring first to
The shell 10 is fashioned of a piezoelectric material so that deformation or flexure of the shell 10 will produce a charge or voltage signal and a voltage signal imposed on the shell 10 will produce a deformation or flexure in the shell 10.
The preferred mode of oscillation for the axi-symmetric shell 10 is illustrated in
When the shell 10 oscillates at its resonant frequency as illustrated in
As can be seen in
Rather than applying a uniform voltage across large areas of the wall 14 of the shell 10 as do the prior art conductors C, it has been found to be beneficial to utilize contoured actuators 40, as illustrated in
The actuators 40 of the present invention are centered precisely on the respective anti-nodes A of the shell 10 and have boundaries congruent with the stress gradient contours lines 18 as described above. By placing the actuators 40 at the anti-nodes A, which are spaced at 90° from each other, the voltage signals applied to the shell wall 14 cause deformations in the shell 10 directly along the nodal diameters 26, 28. This arrangement imposes the maximum deformation per unit volt applied to the wall 14 of the shell 10. All voltage differentials are imposed upon the shell 10 by respective pairs of diametrically opposed actuators 40 along the respective nodal diameters 26, 28. Applying diametrically opposed voltage differentials to the shell 10 effectively doubles the magnitude of the driving or corrective signals that are applied.
Voltage signals imposed on the shell 10 by the actuators 40 include a component intended to impose the desired mode of oscillation upon the shell 10 and a component that is intended to correct any variations in the mode of oscillation of the shell 10 and bring it back to its desired mode of oscillation. Typically, at least one of the actuators 41 applied to a resonating shell 10 is split into two electrically isolated crescents or halves 41a and 41b. See
The specific size, location, and boundary of each actuator 40 are directly related to both the impedance of the driving circuitry and the desired system Q value. The size, location, and boundary of the actuators 40, 41 should be carefully arranged so that the power requirements of the actuators 40, 41 do not exceed the power that the drive circuitry of the gyroscope is capable of providing. In addition, the inherent Q value of the material of the resonating element or shell 10 and the desired Q value for the system as a whole should concurrently be taken into account when specifying the size and location of the actuators 40, 41.
The specific size and location of the actuators 40, 41 are in large part dependent upon the amount of power required to drive the shell 10 of the preferred embodiment in its preferred mode of oscillation. The geometry and rigidity of the shell 10 influences the amount of power required to cause the desired deflections and subsequent oscillations in the shell 10. In order to deflect the wall of a resonating element made of a piezoelectric material so as to impose a desired mode of oscillation, a voltage differential must be set up in the piezoelectric material. In the case of the shell 10, this requires that a voltage differential be set up between the actuators 40, 41 and a grounding conductor G applied to the inner surface of the shell 10. Generally speaking, the larger the actuator 40, 41 (i.e. the more surface area it has), the larger the voltage differential that may be set up across the shell wall 14. Both a desired system Q value and a desired power requirement may be achieved by independently varying the surface area and height of the actuators 40, 41.
Applying a uniform voltage signal to the shell wall 14 across numerous areas of the shell wall 14 subjected to varying levels of stress may cause a significant decrease in the Q value of the oscillating shell 10. Ideally, the actuators 40, 41 would be placed on the shell wall 14 over an area that is subject to a substantially uniform stress when the shell 10 is oscillating. Applying the actuators 40, 41 over an area of substantially uniform stress minimizes the decrease in the system Q value. But since the stresses present in an oscillating shell wall 14 vary continuously, even an actuator 40, 41 having a small surface area will cover numerous discrete areas of substantially uniform stress. As the area of an actuator 40, 41 is increased, so does the number of areas of uniform stress covered by the actuator. Likewise, the drop in the system Q value will also increase. Therefore it is preferred to minimize the area of the actuators 40, 41. Consequently, it is important that the size of the actuators 40, 41 be carefully tailored to the power and Q value requirements of the gyroscope.
Along with the size of the actuators 40, 41, distance from the top edge 16 of the shell 10 to the actuators 40, 41 is also a significant factor in meeting the power requirements of the oscillating system. For instance, placing the actuators 40, 41 nearer the bottom of the shell 10 decreases the power requirement for driving the oscillations of the shell 10. Even though the shell wall 14 is stiffer nearer the bottom thereof, voltage differentials applied to the shell wall 14 near the bottom result in a larger deflection of the shell wall 14 near its upper edge 16 per unit volt. Conversely, where the actuators 40 are placed nearer the top 16 of the shell wall 14, a larger voltage differential must be applied to the shell wall 14 to achieve the same deflection at the top edge 16 of the shell wall 14, i.e. achieving a comparable deflection at the top edge 16 of the shell wall 14 requires more volts per unit of deflection. Therefore, where the power requirements of a shell 10 are high (as where the actuators 40, 41 are near the top of the shell wall 14) the actuators will be correspondingly large and where the power requirements of a shell 10 are low(as where the actuators 40, 41 are nearer the bottom of the shell wall 14), the actuators will be correspondingly small. It must be kept in mind that the actuators 40, 41 must be centered upon and symmetrical about, the respective anti-nodes A.
Furthermore, the actuators 40, 41 of the present invention are applied to the resonating element 10 at predetermined locations upon the shell wall 14 that are defined by boundaries that are at least in part substantially congruent with the stress gradient contour lines 18 that delineate areas of the resonating element 10 that are subject to substantially uniform levels of stress when the gyroscope is rotationally stationary. In other words, the edges of the actuators 40, 41 are at least in part congruent with the stress gradient contour lines 18 that identify areas of substantially uniform stress in the resonating element.
The actuators' 40, 41 position with respect to the upper edge 16 of the shell 10, or height, is preferably specified as a stress magnitude present at a particular stress gradient contour line 18. This stress magnitude may be specified directly by simply stating the desired stress, or it may be specified as a percentage of the maximum or minimum stress present in the shell wall 14 along the anti-node A. The actuators 40, 41 may be positioned at any point along the anti-node A depending upon the power requirements or impedance for the system, i.e. higher stresses generally tend to be higher up the shell wall 14 and result in lower impedances whereas lower stresses generally tend to be lower down the shell wall 14 and yield higher impedances. Given that the outlines of the actuators 40, 41 of the present invention are preferably substantially congruent to the stress gradient contour lines 18, it is useful to designate the width of the actuators 40, 41 by the percent deviation from the stress level that defines the height of the actuators 40, 41. In the low impedance embodiment of the present invention illustrated in
Where the stress gradients present in the shell wall 14 are not arranged as illustrated by stress gradient contour lines 18 in
In the preferred embodiment illustrated in
Where the stress gradient contour lines 18 that preferably define the upper, lower, and lateral boundaries of the actuators 40, 41 are tortuous or would result in a needlessly complex shape for an actuator 40, 41 it may simpler to specify the size, shape and location of the actuators in a more empirical manner. Using the foregoing principles of placement of the actuators as a guideline, it can be seen that the actuators 40, 41 have been placed on the shell wall 14 in a location in which the stress gradient is relatively gradual. In this way, the actuators 40, 41, overlie fewer areas of discrete stresses. Furthermore, the upper and lower boundaries of the actuators are applied in such a manner that they are substantially congruent to the stress gradient contour lines 18 present immediately adjacent thereto. Given that the size of the resonating element 10 and hence the size of the actuators 40, 41 may vary greatly with given applications and requirements, it is preferred that when specific dimensions for an actuator 40, 41, pick-off 50 or lead 49 are given, that they be stated in terms of a percentage of the diameter of the resonating element 10. In the embodiment illustrated in
With the foregoing principles regarding the placement and size of an actuator in mind, where a high Q value for a resonating system is required and where the power requirements for driving the system are also high, a number of narrow actuators 40, 41 may be nested to provide a high system Q value while also providing sufficient surface area to satisfy the high drive power requirements. This alternate embodiment (not shown) would, for example, place a first nested actuator conductor at a height of 65% of the maximum stress present in the shell wall 14 and a second nested actuator at a height of 80% of the maximum stress present in the shell wall 14. As can be appreciated, where the actuators 40, 41 are comprised of multiple nested actuator conductors, the widths of each nested actuator conductor will be narrower than where the actuators are a single monolithic applied film conductor. Each portion of these nested actuators would have a width of approximately 5% greater than the height-defining stress. While it is possible to nest any number of actuator portions in the manner described above to create a single actuator 40, 41, it is preferable to limit the number of nested actuator portions to no more than three and preferably to two in a given actuator 40, 41. It is important to note that each portion of the nested actuators may be driven at different voltage levels to equally distribute the contributions to the vibration energy of the oscillating shell 10.
It is to be noted that there is no single preferred shape for the actuators 40, 41. Rather, the size and shape of the actuators 40, 41 are dependent on the shape of the stress gradient contour lines 18 and the power requirements of the oscillating system.
Driving and sensing circuitry (not shown) associated with the actuators 40, 41 generates the drive component of the voltage signals applied to the shell 10 and also utilizes voltage signals derived from the pick-offs 50 described below to generate the corrective component of the voltage signals applied to the shell 10 through the split actuator 41. This circuitry also outputs rate of rotation data derived from the pick-offs 50 of the gyroscope and is preferably capable of compensating for changes in the resonant frequency of the shell 10 or equivalent resonating element due to temperature fluctuations. Circuitry suitable for operating a gyroscope according to the present invention is disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,479,098 and 4,578,650, which are commonly assigned with the present invention and which are hereby incorporated by reference.
A pick-off 50 constructed and arranged according to the present invention is an applied film conductor centered upon the nodes N of the shell wall 14. As the shell wall 14 at nodes N is, by definition, subjected to minimal and preferably, substantially zero stress during rotationally stationary steady state operation of the gyroscope (see
In practice it can be difficult to form a pick-off 50 that is precisely centered at the node. And where the pick-offs 50 are not precisely centered on the nodes N, the pick-offs 50 will overlie portions of the shell wall 14 subject to stresses due to the oscillation of the shell 10. In these cases it may be necessary to ‘tune’ the pick-offs 50 so that the pick-offs 50 will conduct a minimal voltage signal that is preferably substantially zero when the gyroscope is rotationally stationary. Applying a balancing conductor 51 to the shell wall 14 in electrical communication with pick-off 50 and trimming the conductor 51 to adjust the voltage signal sensed at the node by the pick-off 50 accomplishes tuning. The size and placement of a balancing conductor 51 is carefully arranged to damp out uneven voltage responses output by the piezoelectric material. The use of a balancing conductor 51 helps ensure that a pick-off 50 will conduct a voltage signal of preferably substantially zero when the gyroscope is rotationally stationary.
When the gyroscope is rotationally displaced, the material of the shell wall 14 at the nodes N will be subjected to stresses and deformations that normally occur at or near the anti-nodes A, thereby causing the piezoelectric material of the wall 14 to emit voltage signals that are sensed by the pick-offs 50. As indicated above, the displacement of the nodes N with respect to the pick-offs 50 may be due to the rotation of the gyroscope or due to distortions in the shell 10 from environmental conditions such as temperature fluctuation. The control circuitry associated with the gyroscope described above uses the output of pick-offs 50 to determine both the rate and direction of the rotation of the gyroscope, to correct temperature induced fluctuations in the resonant frequencies of the shell 10, to correct temperature induced fluctuations in the voltage response of the piezoelectric material of the shell 10, and to ensure that the voltage signals for driving the oscillations and for correcting the oscillations are maintained in the proper phase relationship.
One benefit to using very thin pick-offs 50 at the nodes N is that the thin pick-offs 50 are more able to accurately sense the amplitude of the vibrations of the wall 14 of the shell 10 than the broad conductors C used as pick-offs in the prior art. Prior art conductors C average the voltage signals sensed over a relatively large area of the shell 10. These sensed voltages include signals due to rotation of the gyroscope and signals due to uneven voltage response in the piezoelectric materials of the shell 10 at the edge of the conductors C. As described above, wider and larger conductors C overlie more discrete stress gradients in the shell wall 14 with the result that large signals sensed at one location of the conductor C will tend to be undesirably cancelled or augmented by signals sensed at other locations of the conductor C. Conversely, thin pick-offs 50, because they are thin, are able to sense the voltage signals due to a vibration in the shell wall 14 at a more clearly defined and specific location on the wall 14 of the shell 10, thereby increasing both the accuracy and the precision of the gyroscope.
Another benefit to using both thin pick-offs 50 and contoured actuators 40, 41 in the arrangement of the pick-offs 50 and the actuators 40 illustrated in
Another method for physically filtering out unwanted modes of oscillation involves altering the structure of the resonating element such as by augmenting the wall 14 of the shell 10 in a manner which causes the anti-nodes A to oscillate at a lower resonant frequency than the remainder of the shell 10. See
In addition to the improvements upon the structure of the actuators 40 and pick-offs 50, improvements have been made in the accuracy and precision of the voltage response of the piezoelectric material of the shell 10. As illustrated in
However, it is generally the case that the grains M1 of piezoelectric material near or at the edge of the conductors C across which the biasing DC voltage is applied will not receive the same bias as do the grains M of piezoelectric material located near the center of the conductors C. See
In addition to the improved biasing of the piezoelectric material of the shell 10, the gyroscope of the present invention has been made more reliable by improving the durability of the conductive leads that connect the actuators 40 and pick-offs 50 to the control circuitry of the gyroscope. In the prior art it was known to utilize very thin solid wires 23 soldered or compression bonded between the grounded applied film conductors G, actuators 40, and pick-offs 50 and the control circuitry, respectively. See
An alternate embodiment of the present invention is described in conjunction with
With reference to
Conductor loops 110 of the prior art device illustrated in
The element 150 is made to oscillate in a preferred mode of oscillation by a drive element 158′, which is in this case the lowermost element 150. See
Referring now to
This description is intended to provide specific examples of preferred and alternative embodiments that clearly disclose the principles of the present invention. Accordingly, the present invention is not to be limited to just these described embodiments or to the use of the specific elements described herein. All alternative modifications and variations of the present invention that fall within the spirit and broad scope of the appended claims are covered.
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|U.S. Classification||73/504.12, 73/504.08, 73/504.18|
|International Classification||G01C19/56, G01P9/04, G01C19/02, G01C19/5642, G01C19/5677, G01C19/567|
|Cooperative Classification||G01C19/5642, G01C19/567, G01C19/5677|
|European Classification||G01C19/567, G01C19/5642, G01C19/5677|
|Sep 5, 2007||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: WATSON INDUSTRIES, INC., WISCONSIN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:WATSON, WILLIAM S.;REEL/FRAME:019780/0756
Effective date: 20070412
|Jul 25, 2012||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 8