WO1994003854A1 - Failsafe digital bus to analog protocol converter system - Google Patents

Failsafe digital bus to analog protocol converter system Download PDF

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Publication number
WO1994003854A1
WO1994003854A1 PCT/US1993/007298 US9307298W WO9403854A1 WO 1994003854 A1 WO1994003854 A1 WO 1994003854A1 US 9307298 W US9307298 W US 9307298W WO 9403854 A1 WO9403854 A1 WO 9403854A1
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WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
digital
analog
flight control
computer
control signal
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/US1993/007298
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
John Arthur Baker
Otto Hurbert Boe
Wayne Erlin Burkland
Robert William Edmeads
Melvin Gerard OSTER
Original Assignee
Lear Astronics Corporation
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to US07/923,146 priority Critical patent/US5377109A/en
Priority to US07/923,146 priority
Application filed by Lear Astronics Corporation filed Critical Lear Astronics Corporation
Publication of WO1994003854A1 publication Critical patent/WO1994003854A1/en

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Classifications

    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F11/00Error detection; Error correction; Monitoring
    • G06F11/07Responding to the occurrence of a fault, e.g. fault tolerance
    • G06F11/16Error detection or correction of the data by redundancy in hardware
    • G06F11/20Error detection or correction of the data by redundancy in hardware using active fault-masking, e.g. by switching out faulty elements or by switching in spare elements
    • G06F11/2002Error detection or correction of the data by redundancy in hardware using active fault-masking, e.g. by switching out faulty elements or by switching in spare elements where interconnections or communication control functionality are redundant
    • G06F11/2007Error detection or correction of the data by redundancy in hardware using active fault-masking, e.g. by switching out faulty elements or by switching in spare elements where interconnections or communication control functionality are redundant using redundant communication media
    • GPHYSICS
    • G05CONTROLLING; REGULATING
    • G05BCONTROL OR REGULATING SYSTEMS IN GENERAL; FUNCTIONAL ELEMENTS OF SUCH SYSTEMS; MONITORING OR TESTING ARRANGEMENTS FOR SUCH SYSTEMS OR ELEMENTS
    • G05B9/00Safety arrangements
    • G05B9/02Safety arrangements electric
    • G05B9/03Safety arrangements electric with multiple-channel loop, i.e. redundant control systems
    • GPHYSICS
    • G05CONTROLLING; REGULATING
    • G05DSYSTEMS FOR CONTROLLING OR REGULATING NON-ELECTRIC VARIABLES
    • G05D1/00Control of position, course or altitude of land, water, air, or space vehicles, e.g. automatic pilot
    • G05D1/0055Control of position, course or altitude of land, water, air, or space vehicles, e.g. automatic pilot with safety arrangements
    • G05D1/0077Control of position, course or altitude of land, water, air, or space vehicles, e.g. automatic pilot with safety arrangements using redundant signals or controls
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F11/00Error detection; Error correction; Monitoring
    • G06F11/07Responding to the occurrence of a fault, e.g. fault tolerance
    • G06F11/0796Safety measures, i.e. ensuring safe condition in the event of error, e.g. for controlling element
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06JHYBRID COMPUTING ARRANGEMENTS
    • G06J1/00Hybrid computing arrangements

Abstract

A failsafe avionics interface unit (10) serves as a protocol converter system for translating data for control purposes from a digital communication bus (65) to an analog control channel as an upgrade or interface to an existing analog control system. The avionics interface unit (10) includes digital interface bus logic (101), a digital data processor module (102), an analog interface, and a mode selection circuit (104). Data communicated over the digital interface bus (65) is periodically translated into equivalent analog control signals. For safety purposes, the avionics interface unit (10) ensures the integrity of the system by repetitively looping back or wrapping the digital equivalents of the analog output signals and comparing them to commanded digital control values. The protocol converter system additionally monitors communications over the digital data bus for data continuity. If the difference between a wrapped digital equivalent of an analog output signal and an expected value exceeds tolerable limits or if communication fails, the system disconnects its interface from control using redundant software and hardware and returns control to the analog control system (51).

Description

FAILSAFE DIGITAL BUS TO ANALOG PROTOCOL CONVERTER SYSTEM

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Aircraft have been designed for decades which enable pilots to directly control the aircraft by their instincts or their feelings, i.e., "by the seat of their pants". This may have been satisfactory 80 years ago but, with the advent of highly powered and responsive jet fighters, instincts are no longer enough. Now many jet fighters, such as the F-16, have sufficient power to attempt a maneuver that is violent enough to damage the aircraft or black-out the pilot if inadvertently or erroneously requested. Also, the demands on the pilot to coordinate flight controls increase with the power and speed of the aircraft. A slight error can result in the plane going out of control, sometimes irrecoverably. Additionally, with all of this aeronautical capability, more functionality is demanded for the aircraft. In some cases these new functions may consist of systems, such as an autopilot which reduces the work load of the pilot by automatically flying a designated course. It may also be necessary to provide a highly demanding pilot work load function, such as terrain-following, which maintains a designated altitude close to the ground.

In certain high performance aircraft such as the F-16 fighter plane, these functions are accomplished by analog computers. A flight control computer is used to control movement of the airplane control surfaces so as to overcome flying instabilities that result from the aircraft design. The flight control computer may also restrain or limit the commands from the pilot. An additional analog computer may provide a simple function such as an autopilot that maintains a straight and level course. An analog computer is a series of hard-wired circuits that cause an output signal to vary continuously in a predefined manner in response to one or more input signals. In contrast, a digital computer operates on discrete numbers to generate a sequence of numbers that can define an output signal. Whereas an analog computer must be specially designed and wired for each different relationship between its input and output signals, this relationship is defined in a digital computer by a program that can more easily be changed. Not only is a digital computer more flexible than an analog computer, but a special circuit need not be designed and built for each function that is to be performed. It thus becomes practical to implement more complex functions with a digital computer.

For these reasons, digital computers have generally replaced analog computers in the newest aircraft designs. Nevertheless, there remains a large base of operating aircraft that have analog flight control computers. It would be desirable to provide the flexibility and functionality of digital computers to these aircraft but the cost of replacing the analog computers would be beyond the economic constraints of most operators.

In more modern designs, the aircraft stability is controlled by a digital flight control computer while a mission computer controls multiple complex functions, such as terrain-following and automatic landing systems. This type of digital system is designed into many new aircraft and supersedes the old all-analog approach.

Analog and digital computer systems are inherently incompatible with each other due to the different techniques of communicating information. It is thus not practical to upgrade the functionality of an older aircraft by simply connecting a modern digital computer in place of an existing analog flight control computer. Generally, an upgrade to a digital computer would require major rewiring of an aircraft. Thus, it would be extremely costly to replace the existing analog computers with digital computers. The large inventory of expensive and potentially highly capable aircraft and the emerging power of avionics systems makes it imperative to find a way to economically bring the capabilities of modern digital avionics to existing all-analog aircraft. This invention provides the connection between analog and digital technologies by establishing an interface between new digital mission computers and the analog flight control computer. This invention enables the latest functionality of a digital flight system to be added to existing aircraft while minimizing the conversion costs and minimizing flight requalification on the aircraft since the analog flight control system is maintained with this invention.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A failsafe, inexpensive avionics interface unit (AIU) in accordance with the invention includes a digital interface circuit coupled to communicate with a digital avionics or mission computer over a system digital data bus, a digital data processor module, an interface digital data bus that provides communications between the digital interface circuit and the digital data processor, an analog interface circuit coupled to generate analog flight control signals in response to digital commands received from the digital data processor and a mode selection circuit. The analog signals are coupled to an analog flight control computer which controls the flight control surfaces of an aircraft. The digital data processor outputs digital commands to the analog interface circuit in response to commands from the digital mission computer.

The AIU extracts pitch, roll, and other avionics information from the received digital data and generates the analog flight control signals in response to this information.

System reliability can be improved by redundantly providing multiple system digital data buses and processing data received from a secondary system digital data bus if communications have failed on the primary system digital data bus.

The mode selection circuit responds to control signals generated by the digital data processor as defined by the digital mission computer to select a source of control signals that are to be communicated to an analog flight control computer to ultimately control the aircraft. The mode selection circuit can select either preexisting sources of command signals or the digital mission computer as the source of the command signals.

The digital data processor module monitor activity on the system digital data bus to determine i periodic communications are occurring. If communications have failed, the processor module negates the selectio signal coupled to the mode selection circuit and enable only the pitch and roll commands from the analog avionics computer. Additionally, the AIU includes a watchdo circuit that is coupled to the digital data processor t monitor periodic activity. If periodic activity from th processor is not found, the watchdog circuit negates th selection signal coupled to the mode selection circuit, enabling only the analog pitch and roll commands. I certain modes such as terrain-following, lack of periodi activity would cause the aircraft to roll wings level an to fly up for safety.

Additionally, the AIU determines if the pitc and roll analog signals which are output from the analo interface circuit under control of the digital dat processor module are representative of the digital dat received using a concept referred to as Logical Outpu Wraparound (LOW) . Using LOW, the analog interfac circuitry is connectable to wraparound signals which ar periodically sampled and stored by the digital dat processor. Upon receipt of a command over the digita data bus from the mission computer, the AIU communicate the digital representation of the sampled analo wraparound signals to the mission computer using th digital data bus. If the mission computer determines tha an analog wraparound signal is out of tolerance, it ma issue a command to negate the selection signal coupled t the mode selection circuit and enable only the pitch an roll commands from the analog avionics computer. Alternatively, the AIU may internally compare the wraparound signals to commanded digital data and determine if the analog signal is within tolerance. If the wraparound signal is out of tolerance, the AIU communicates this result over the digital data bus to the mission computer which may issue a command to negate the selection signal coupled to the mode selection circuit and enable only the pitch and roll commands from the analog avionics computer.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A better understanding of the invention may be had from a consideration of the following detailed description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a block diagram of an avionics system having an avionics interface unit (AIU) in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 2 is a block diagram representation of 1553 interface logic within the AIU that is shown in Fig. 1;

FIG. 3 is a block diagram representation of an analog interface to a flight control computer that is contained by the AIU shown in Fig. 1;

FIG. 4 is a block diagram representation of a processor module within the AIU that is shown in Fig. 1;

FIG. 5 is a flowchart representation of the program executed by the processor module within the AIU that is shown in Fig. 1;

FIG. 6A and 6B are flowchart representations of alternative programs for implementation of the logical output wraparound (LOW) function that is executed by the processor module within the AIU that is shown in Fig. 1; and

FIG. 7 is a flowchart representation of an alternative program executed by the processor module within the AIU that is shown in Fig. 1. DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring now to Fig. 1, a failsafe, inexpensive avionics system 10 in accordance with the invention includes a mission computer 50, an analog avionics computer 51, a flight control computer 52, and an avionics interface unit (AIU) 100 coupling the mission computer 50 and the analog avionics computer 51 to the flight control computer 52. The basic goal of an analog avionics system is to provide a stable aeronautic response to pilot commands. These commands typically include analog pitch commands 74 and roll commands 73 from the pilot stick controller 59. In many aircraft, and specifically on the F-16 fighter, direct coupling of the analog pitch commands 74 and roll commands 73 to control surface actuators would result in an unstable and unsafe system. These instabilities may result from aerodynamic instabilities, the ability of the aircraft to exceed structural limits during a maneuver, and the capability of pilots to command a maneuver which will exceed their physical limitations and result in a black-out. To compensate for these airplane design features, a fly-by-wire system has been incorporated using the flight control computer (FLCC) 52.

In a fly-by-wire system, the FLCC 52 is interposed between the pilot commands and the airplane control surfaces. There is no direct connection of pilot commands to the control surfaces. FLCC 52 compensates for mechanical characteristics a d, consequently, the flight characteristics of the aerodynamic system by limiting the magnitude and rate of change of analog command signals to the control surfaces according to signals from G-force sensors. The FLCC 52 processes via analog circuits the pitch commands 74 and roll commands 73 from the pilot stick controller 59 and adjusts the control signals 72 according to analog values received from the pilot force sensors 70 and the aircraft body rate accelerations 71. The processing of set points by the FLCC 52 results in a stable fly-by-wire system with a limited rate of change for pitch and roll.

An existing extension of this basic avionics fly-by-wire system is the addition of an analog avionics computer 51 (autopilot) , designated in the F-16 as the electronic component assembly (ECA) . It is well established in existing art that calculations can be made using various avionics sensors 76 and that the calculations generate the desired adjustments in pitch 62 and roll 63 signals which will result in the aircraft achieving and maintaining the desired course and altitude. Such a system currently exists where the pitch control signal 62 and roll control signal 63 are directly connected to pitch control input 68 and roll control input 69 of the FLCC 52.

The AIU 100 provides additional capabilities in the existing system by allowing this system to interface to new avionics functions which are provided by a digital avionics computer, referred to as the mission computer 50.

A mission computer 50 is similar to the analog avionics computer 51 in that the ultimate function is to provide a calculation for the desired pitch and roll parameters as a function of avionics sensors. However, as opposed to the analog avionics computer 51, a current mission computer 50 uses digital technology and is based upon a programmable digital computer with associated advantages in cost and flexibility. Using the digital technology of a mission computer 50, the functionality and performance of a mission computer 50 can be enhanced or modified by altering the software. The software in the mission computer 50 may be downloadable from a ground support computer into alterable memory, such as RAM, EEPROM, or NOVRAM. Alternatively, this software may be resident in nonvolatile memory contained therein such as EPROM, EEPROM, NOVRAM, or ROM. Generally, there will only be a minimal software impact to existing on-board computers as compared to the prior analog, hardware-intensive approach when changes to the performance characteristics of the control system are required.

The addition of AIU 100 enables the advanced functions of a digital mission computer 50 to be integrated with the FLCC 52 without having to redesign the FLCC 52 or rewire the aircraft. Since redesigning the analog FLCC 52, with its attendant rewiring, would be inordinately expensive, the AIU 100 provides access to modern digital technology at a reasonable cost.

The AIU 100 periodically receives digital communication over the digital interface buses 60 or 61. In a typical configuration, the digital interface buses conform to MIL-STD-1553B. Alternatively, the digital interface buses may conform to ARINC429, 1770, 1773; or other digital interface protocol. The 1553 interface is described for illustration. The digital communications are received by the 1553 interface logic 101 and subsequently interpreted by the processor module 102. The processor module 102 then generates commands to the analog interface 103 to output pitch 66 and roll 67 control signals in response to the digital interface commands. The processor module 102 may command the mode selection module 104 to output these pitch 66 and roll 67 commands to the FLCC 52 which generates the signals that move the control surfaces. Alternatively, the processor module may enable the pitch 62 and roll 63 signals generated by the analog avionics computer 51 to be coupled to the FLCC 52.

As previously discussed, to use the increased functionality of the mission computer 50 requires the ability to communicate pitch, roll, or raw data generated by the mission computer 50 over digital interface buses 60 and optionally 61. These digital interfaces are inherently incompatible with existing analog interfaces. This invention bridges this incompatibility gap by establishing a protocol converter, identified as the avionics interface unit (AIU) 100. Additionally, since this approach retains all of the original flight control system, only minimal requalification of the aircraft is required.

The AIU protocol converter 100 receives command data from mission computer 50 over bi-directional digital interface bus A 60 for controlling aircraft maneuvers such as pitch and roll. The characteristics of the bi¬ directional digital communication bus 60 are well known to one skilled in the art, as defined by MIL-STD-1553B published September 21, 1978 and MIL-STD-1553B Notice 2 published September 8, 1986 which are both incorporated by reference. Alternatively, a second digital interface bus B 61 exists to redundantly provide data from the mission computer 50 to the AIU protocol converter 100. In this implementation the AIU 100 will communicate over the digital interface bus B 61 in the event that a communication failure is detected on digital interface bus A 60.

There are two levels for the 1553 interface communication protocol. The basic transfer of data across the digital interface bus 60 or 61 occurs at the lowe protocol level. At this level the data is transferred subject to validity checks but the contents are not interpreted or analyzed. Analysis of the contents occurs at the higher level.

At the lower protocol level commands are transferred at 1.0 megabit per second as time division multiplexed digital data across digital interface bus 60 or 61. This data is Manchester II bi-phase level encoded as described in MIL-STD-1553B. This lower protocol level of communication is provided by the 1553 interface logic 101.

Referring now to Fig. 2, 1553 interface logic 101 includes a 1553 protocol controller 208 and a 1553 XCVR (transceiver) 209. The 1553 transceiver 209 is connected to the digital interfaces buses 60, 61 through transformers 210 and 211 respectively for DC isolation. The purpose of the 1553 transceiver 209 is to condition the Manchester II bi-phase level signals 60 and 61 received on the digital interface bus into logic level compatible signals 87 and 88 for processing by the 1553 protocol controller 208. The 1553 transceiver 209 decodes the Manchester II bi-phase level signal, through methods well know in the art and as additionally disclosed in MIL- STD-1553B, into an asynchronous serial by bit data stream of logic level bits. This asynchronous serial by bit data stream is then output to the 1553 protocol converter 208 over serial communication paths 87, 88 carrying data relating to buses 60, 61, respectively.

The 1553 protocol converter 208 extracts a clock from this serial data stream, captures this asynchronous serial data stream and stores the data defined by the data stream as buffered words. The 1553 protocol converter 208 then identifies whether this particular AIU system is a designated destination, decodes the message contents, and then, if the data is valid, generates a status response according to MIL-STD-1553B to the digital interface bus 60 or 61 via 1553 XCVR 209. XCVR 209 includes transmitter circuitry that converts the response to a Manchester II bi-phase level signal that is communicated by buses 60, 61.

The 1553 protocol controller 208 and a transceiver 209 can be implemented with conventional components such as an FC1553921 hybrid circuit from a family of transceivers manufactured by STC Components. The specification for this component is incorporated by reference. One skilled in the art can select any of a number of available chip sets to implement this protocol function.

The protocol controller 208 and the 1553 transceiver 209 capture the processed digital communications from the buses 60, 61 to AIU 100 and perform the functions of the lower protocol level. Referring now to Fig. 1, the processor module 102 receives data from the 1553 buses 60, 61 from the interface logic 101 over a signal communicating path 64. The processor module 102 performs the functions of the higher protocol level of interpreting the data received by the digital interface logic 101. The processor module 102 determines the pitch, roll, and diagnostic contents of each aircraft command message received from mission computer 50 or any other command source that may be coupled to buses 60, 61. Once the processor module 102 isolates each new digital pitch and roll command from the captured data signal received over path 6 , it outputs this digital data over data communication path 65 along with control signals to the analog interface circuit 10 .

Referring now to Fig. 3, the analog interface 103 includes a D/A (digital to analog) converter 200 and an A/D (analog to digital) converter 201. D/A converter 200 converts digital data received over communication path 65 from digital processor 102 to analog form. Mode selection circuit 104 receives analog data from D/A converter 200 over analog signal paths 66, 67, and 75 and selectively couples these analog output control signals to the FLCC 52. A/D converter 201 and analog MUX 204 couple analog wraparound signals 79 from the FLCC 52 to digital processor 102.

Analog MUX 204 receives a plurality of analog wraparound signals from FLCC 52 over analog data paths 79 and responds to control signals 83 received from digital processor 102 to selectively communicate a selected signal via analog signal path 85 to A/D converter 201. A/D converter 201, in turn, converts the analog signal to a digital format for communication over bus 65 to digital processor 102.

The analog interface 103 isolates, converts, and captures the digital pitch and roll commands from data and control buses 65 and then outputs a stable analog pitch signal 66 and roll signal 67. In a similar manner the analog interface 103 may additionally output a yaw signal 75 when the AIU is interfaced to a mission computer 50 that additionally communicates a calculated yaw signal over the 1553 bus. The analog interface 103 operates under control of the processor module 102. Upon application by the processor module of 102 of I/O signals on the control and data bus 65, the digital to analog converter circuit (D/A) 200 commences a conversion of a 12-bit digital quantity received from bus 65 into a converted analog value pitch 66, roll 67 or yaw 68. The selection of output channel, i.e., pitch 66, roll 67 or yaw 75, is controlled by the I/O control signal 65 to the digital to analog converter circuit 200. The converted analog values are maintained as outputs to the FLCC 52 until next updated by another output command.

The analog interface circuit 103 also samples and stores the analog wraparound signals 79 from the FLCC 52. The FLCC 52 provides at least one wraparound signal for each of the control channels. Thus, there will be a minimum of two wraparound signals from the pitch and roll signals. Alternatively, additional wraparound signals may be provided to further detect and isolate a circuit car failure in the FLCC 52. The wraparound signals 79 are connected to an analog multiplexer circuit 204. This multiplexer circuit is under control of selection signal 83 from the processor module 102. When an analog channel is selected, an analog value is passed through MUX 204 as the selected analog signal 85 which is converted into 12-bit digital representation by analog to digital (A/D) converter 201 upon command of a selection signal from th data and control bus 65. The 12-bit converted data i subsequently received from the A/D converter 201 by th processor module 102 using data and control bus 65. Th digital data is stored in memory in the digital compute 105 until the data is requested by the mission computer 5 over the 1553 bus 60 or 61.

Alternatively, the processor module 102 compare the captured 12-bit representation of the analo wraparound signal 79 to its internal digital command valu which was output to the digital to analog converter 200. When the captured 12-bit data is out of tolerance, as compared to the digital command value, this information is made available to the mission computer 50 over the digital data bus 60 or 61. The mission computer 50 may then communicate a command to the AIU 100 over the digital data bus 60 or 61 to negate the select AIU mode signal 78 to disable the pitch 68 and roll 69 signal from the AIU 100 and enable the pitch 62 and roll 63 signals from the analog avionics computer 51.

The function of the mode selection module 104 is to choose between the analog pitch 62 and roll 63 controls generated by the analog avionics computer 51 and the pitch 66, roll 67, and yaw 75 controls which are output from D/A converter 200. This selection is done by a select AIU mode signal 78 which is generated by processor module 102. The mode selection circuitry 104 is preferably implemented as a solid state switch. Alternatively, mode selection module 104 may be implemented as a mechanical switch where the failed or unpowered state of the switch connects the analog avionics computer pitch command 62 and roll command 63 to pitch output signal 68 and roll output signal 69, respectively.

Referring now to Fig. 4, the digital data processor module 102 includes a digital computer 105, a watchdog timer circuit 206, and a mode selection I/O circuit 207. The digital computer 105 includes RAM 106, ROM 107, a microprocessor 108, and such other components as may be necessary to implement a conventional digital computer.

Mode selection signal 78 is generated under control of the digital computer 105. When the digital computer 105 receives a specified command from the 1553 bus 60 or 61, the digital computer 105 generates a mode select control signal 82 to instruct the mode selection I/O circuit 207 to generate the select AIU mode signal 78.

However, under special conditions, the select AIU mode signal 78 will be negated even though it has previously been activated, thereby defaulting the system back to being an all-analog system. The analog default serves as a failsafe condition wherein the analog avionics computer 51 connects directly to the FLCC 52. Should digital computer 105 fail to receive periodically updated commands from 1553 bus 60 or 61, the select AIU mode signal 78 will be disabled to a failsafe condition under software control by the digital computer 105 by issuing a command on mode select control signal 82. Further, as a final precaution, a watchdog timer circuit 206 found in processor module 102 disables select AIU mode signal 78 by outputting a clear select signal 81 if periodic activity of the digital computer 105 is not detected. The watchdog timer circuit 206 monitors the digital computer by watching the alive signal 80 which the digital computer 105 periodically outputs when the digital computer 105 is processing instructions.

The digital computer 105 executes instructions contained in nonvolatile program storage memory such as ROM 107 or, alternatively, in EPROM, EEPROM or NOVRAM. Alternatively, data received over the digital data bus 60 or 61 may be used to modify the contents of the program storage memory of the digital computer 105 when an alterable type of program storage memory is used such as RAM 106 or, alternatively, EEPROM or NOVRAM.

Additionally, in an alternative embodiment, the digital computer 105 may perform calculations for flight control functions, such as those required of an autopilot, by receiving the raw sensor information from the digital data bus 60 or 61 and performing calculations upon this data under control of instructions stored by program storage memory to generate pitch and roll commands which are communicated to the analog interface circuit 103.

A flowchart illustrating the operating digital computer 105 is shown in Fig. 5, to which reference is now made. When power is applied to the digital computer 105, initialization of program parameters occurs at step 502. This initialization includes the selection of bus A 60 as the primary communication bus, clearing error flags, and initializing timers. Once the initialization 502 is complete, the digital computer 105 periodically looks for data being received from the 1553 interface logic 101 at decision step 504. If a message is received, the digital computer 105 is informed by the 1553 interface logic 101 if the data is properly received and if the data was addressed to AIU 100. If yes, the digital computer 105 performs the higher level of the 1553 protocol and analyzes the contents of the message at analysis step 506. A message may be a command to output pitch, roll, or yaw commands or may be a request of status information. When a flight control command is received, the digital computer 105 directs an output command to the selected channel of D/A 200. Additionally, the processor acts at step 510 to reset an inactivity timer which monitors the bus 60 or 61 to determine if bus communications have terminated.

If a message has not been received, the processor determines at step 512 from the inactivity timer if the bus communications have terminated. If the timeout period has not been exceeded, processing continues by executing a LOW test at step 514. However, if a timeout condition occurs, the digital computer 105 executes step 516 to reset the select AIU mode signal 78 with a mode select control signal 82 and relinquish control of the pitch command 68 and roll command 69 to the analog avionics computer 51.

As illustrated in Fig. 6A, the processor executes the LOW processing step 514 by reading all available wraparound signals 79 and storing their 12-bit digital representations in memory. The contents of this memory are then communicated to the mission computer 50 in response to a designated status command. In an alternative mode, as illustrated in Fig. 6B, the wraparound signals 79 are evaluated by digital computer 105. After reading and storing the digital representations of the wraparound signals 79, the processor 105 compares these values to expected values at step value 608. In the case of pitch and roll commands, the expected value corresponds to the digital value output to the D/A 200. However, other expected values could correspond to internal test points in the FLCC 52.

Upon completing the LOW processing step, the processor 105 outputs the alive signal 80 by executing step 520. This signal does not directly effect the operation of the program. However, this signal informs the watchdog timer circuit 206 that the digital computer 105 is operational. If the alive signal 80 is not generated for a designated period of time, the watchdog timer 206 (Fig. 4) generates a clear select signal on conductor 81 which causes mode selection I/O circuit 207 to negate signal SELECT AIU MODE on signal path 78. After generating the output alive signal at step 520, the computer 105 loops back to the data received test at step 504. Fig. 7 illustrates an alternative embodiment of the program executed by computer 105. Instead of the AIU 100 being a slave dependent on commands from a mission computer 50, the AIU 100 operates as a master requesting raw sensor information from devices interfaced to the same 1553 bus. The program in the digital computer 105 of the AIU 100 performs avionic functions that are performed in the mission computer 50 in the embodiment of the program that is illustrated in Fig. 5. By eliminating an additional system component, the mission computer 50, and the associated communications, increased economies and performance advantages may be achieved by moving flight control command functions from mission computer 50 to digital computer 105.

Although there have been described above specific arrangements of a digital interface to an analog flight control computer including a protocol converter system in accordance with the invention for the purpose of enabling a person of ordinary skill in the art to make and use the invention, it will be appreciated that th invention is not limited thereto. Accordingly, any an all modifications, variations or equivalent arrangement within the scope of the attached claims should b considered to be within the scope of the invention.

Claims

WHAT IS CLAIMED IS:
1. A protocol converter system comprising: a digital interface circuit which is connectable to a digital data bus to provide communication of flight control information with a digital control computer; an analog interface circuit which is connectable to provide at least one analog flight control signal to an aircraft analog flight control computer, each analog flight control signal being provided in response to a different digital flight control signal; and a digital data processor coupled to the digital interface circuit and receiving from the digital interface circuit flight control information communicated by the digital control computer, the digital data processor providin to the analog interface circuit at least on digital flight control signal in response to th received flight control information.
2. A protocol converter system according to clai 1 wherein: the digital control computer is an avionic computer that communicates avionics information.
3. A protocol converter system according to claim 1 that additionally comprises: an analog avionics computer deriving at least one analog flight control signal that is 5 capable of being coupled to the analog flight control computer; and a mode selection circuit that is coupled to a selection signal which is generated by the processing means; the selection signal choosing 10 between at least one analog output signal coupled to the analog interface circuit and at least one analog control signal generated by the analog avionics computer for the analog control source coupled to the analog flight control 15 computer.
4. A protocol converter system according to claim 3 that additionally comprises: a fault detection circuit connectable to the mode selection circuit than can override the 5 selection signal coupled to the processing means and choose an analog control signal generated by the analog avionics computer as an analog control source for the analog flight control computer.
5. A protocol converter system according to claim 1 that additionally comprises: at least one additional digital data bus that may communicate redundant information.
6. A protocol converter system according to claim 5 wherein: the communication on the digital data bus conforms to MIL-STD-1553B.
A protocol converter system according to claim 1 wherein: the communication on the digital data bus conforms to MIL-STD-1553B.
8. A protocol converter system according to claim 1 wherein: the digital data processor executes instructions contained within Read Only Memory.
9. A protocol converter system according to claim 1 wherein: the digital data processor having alterable memory, storing instructions received from the digital data bus in said alterable memory, and executing instructions from said alterable memory.
10. A protocol converter system according to claim 9 wherein: the alterable memory retains its contents in the event of a power interruption.
11. A protocol converter system according to claim 9 wherein: the alterable memory loses its contents in the event of a power interruption.
12. A protocol converter system according to claim 1 that additionally comprises: an analog sample circuit coupled to at least one analog flight control signal, the analog sample circuit converting the coupled analog signals to digital values, the digital data processor storing the digital values and communicating the digital values to the digital control computer in response to a request received from the digital data bus.
13. A protocol converter system according to claim 12 that additionally comprises: an analog avionics computer deriving at least one analog flight control signal that is capable of being connected to the analog flight control computer, and a mode selection circuit that is coupled to a selection signal which is generated by the processing means; the selection signal choosing between at least one analog output signal coupled to the analog interface circuit and at least one analog control signal from the analog avionics computer for the analog control source coupled to the analog flight control computer.
14. A protocol converter system according to claim 12 wherein: the analog sample circuit converts to and the digital data processor stores 12-bit representations of the coupled analog signals.
15. A protocol converter system according to claim 1 wherein: there are two digital data buses, both communicating in conformance with MIL-STD-1553B, that may communicate redundant information from the digital control computer to the digital interface circuit.
16. A protocol converter system according to claim 1 that additionally comprises: an analog sample circuit coupled to at least one analog flight control signal, the analog sample circuit converting the coupled analog signals to digital values, the digital data processor storing the digital values, comparing the stored digital value to a commanded digital value and communicating the result of the comparison to the digital control computer.
17. A protocol converter system comprising: a digital interface circuit which is connectable to a digital data bus to provide communication of flight control information with a digital avionics computer; an analog interface circuit which is connectable to provide at least one analog flight control signal to an aircraft analog flight control computer, each analog flight control signal being provided in response to a different digital flight control signal; and a digital data processor coupled to the digital interface circuit and receiving from the digital interface circuit flight control information communicated by the digital avionics computer, the digital data processor providing to the analog interface circuit at least one digital flight control signal in response to the received flight control information.
18. A protocol converter system according to claim
17 that additionally comprises: an analog avionics computer deriving at least one analog flight control signal that is capable of being coupled to the analog flight control computer, and a mode selection circuit that is coupled to a selection signal which is generated by the processing means; the selection signal choosing between at least one analog output signal coupled to the analog interface circuit and at least one analog control signal generated by the analog avionics computer for the analog control source coupled to the analog flight control computer.
19. A protocol converter system according to claim
18 that additionally comprises: a fault detection circuit connectable to the mode selection circuit than can override the selection signal coupled to the processing means and choose an analog control signal generated by the analog avionics computer as an analog control source for the analog flight control computer.
20. A protocol converter system comprising: a digital interface circuit which is connectable to at least one digital data bus to provide communication of flight control information with a digital avionics computer; an analog interface circuit which is connectable to provide at least one analog flight control signal to an aircraft analog flight control computer, each analog flight control signal being provided in response to a different digital flight control signal; and a digital data processor coupled to the digital interface circuit and receiving from the digital interface circuit flight control information communicated by the digital avionics computer, the digital data processor providing to the analog interface circuit at least one digital flight control signal in response to the received flight control information.
21. A protocol converter system according to claim 20 wherein: the communication on the digital data bus conforms to MIL-STD-1553B.
22. A protocol converter system according to claim 20 wherein: there are two digital data buses, both communicating in conformance with MIL-STD-1553B, that may communicate redundant information from the digital avionics computer to the digital interface circuit.
23. A protocol converter system comprising: a digital interface circuit which is connectable to at least one digital data bus to provide communication of avionics information with a digital avionics computer; an analog interface circuit which is connectable to provide at least one analog flight control signal to an aircraft analog flight control computer, each analog flight control signal being provided in response to a different digital flight control signal; and a translation circuit coupled to the digital interface circuit and receiving from the digital interface circuit flight control information communicated by the digital avionics computer, the translation circuit providing the analog interface circuit at least one digital flight control signal in response to the received flight control information.
24. A protocol converter system comprising: a digital interface circuit which is connectable to at least one digital data bus to provide communication of control and status information with a digital computer; an analog interface circuit which is connectable to provide at least one analog control signal to a mechanical driver means, each analog control signal being provided in response to a different digital control signal; and a translation circuit coupled to the digital interface circuit and receiving from the digital interface circuit control information communicated by the digital computer, the translation circuit providing the analog interface circuit at least one digital control signal in response to the received control information.
25. A protocol converter system for communicating over a digital data bus with an avionics computer, the system comprising: a digital interface circuit which is connectable to at least one digital data bus to provide communication over the bus of flight control information with a digital avionics computer; an analog interface circuit which is connectable to provide at least one analog flight control signal to an aircraft analog flight control computer, each analog flight control signal being provided in response to a different digital flight control signal; and a digital data processor, having a nonvolatile memory storing instructions, the digital data processor executing the instructions, being coupled to the digital interface circuit and receiving from the digital interface circuit flight control information communicated by the digital avionics computer, the digital data processor providing the analog interface circuit at least one digital flight control signal in response to the received flight control information.
26. A protocol converter system according to claim 25 wherein: the digital data processor is additionally comprised of an alterable memory, storing instructions received from the digital data bus in said alterable memory; and executing instructions from said alterable memory.
27. A protocol converter system according to claim 1 wherein: the digital flight control signal coupled to the analog interface circuit is a 12-bit digital value.
28. A protocol converter system comprising: a digital interface circuit which is connectable to at least one digital data bus to provide communication of avionics information with a digital avionics computer over the digital data bus; an analog interface circuit which is connectable to provide at least one analog flight control signal to an aircraft analog flight control computer, each analog flight control signal being provided in response to a different digital flight control signal; a digital data processor coupled to the digital interface circuit and receiving from the digital interface circuit flight control information communicated by the digital avionics computer, the digital data processor providing the analog interface circuit at least one digital flight control signal in response to the received flight control information; and an analog sample circuit coupled to at least one analog flight control signal, the analog sample circuit converting the coupled analog signals to digital values, the digital data processor storing the digital values and communicating the digital values to the digital avionics computer in response to a request received from the digital data bus.
29. A protocol converter system according to claim 28 additionally comprising: an analog avionics computer deriving at least one analog flight control signal that is capable of being connected to the analog flight control computer; and a mode selection circuit that is coupled to a selection signal which is generated by the processing means; the selection signal choosing between at least one analog output signal coupled to the analog- interface circuit and at least one analog control signal from the analog avionics computer for the analog control source coupled to the analog flight control computer.
30. A protocol converter system according to claim 28 wherein: the analog sample circuit converts to and the digital data processor stores 12-bit digital representations of the coupled analog signals.
31. An avionics system comprising: a digital avionics computer which is connectable to at least one digital interface bus, the digital avionics computer communicating digital flight control information and digital status information over the digital interface bus; a protocol converter system coupled to at least one digital interface bus that is connectable to a digital avionics computer, the protocol converter system translating the received digital communications into at least one analog flight control signal; and a flight control computer receiving at least one analog control signal from the protocol converter system and in response thereto generating an analog command signal for communicating operations to a mechanical actuator.
32. An avionics system comprising: at least one digital interface bus; a digital avionics computer which is connectable to at least one digital interface bus, the digital avionics computer providing digital flight control information and receiving digital status information which is representative of analog signals in the avionics system; a protocol converter system that is coupled to at least one digital interface bus, the protocol converter system receiving over the digital data bus digital flight control information provided by the avionics computer and translating the received digital flight control information into at least one analog flight control signal; and an analog flight control computer generating a command signal for a mechanical actuator, the flight control computer receiving at least one analog control signal from the protocol converter system and generating the command signal for a mechanical actuator in response thereto.
33. An avionics system comprising: at least one digital interface bus; a digital avionics computer which is coupled to at least one digital interface bus, the digital avionics computer providing digital flight control information and receiving digital status information; a protocol converter system that is coupled to communicate with the digital avionics computer over at least one digital interface bus, the protocol converter system receiving digital communications from the digital avionics computer over the digital data bus and translating the received digital communications into at least one analog flight control signal, the protocol converter system receiving samples of analog control signals, storing digital representations of analog control signals, and communicating the stored digital representations of analog flight control signals to the digital avionics computer; and an analog flight control computer generating command signals for mechanical actuators connectable to an avionics system, the flight control computer receiving at least one analog control signal from the protocol converter system and generating the command signals in response thereto.
34. A protocol converter system according to claim 33 wherein: the sampled analog control signals are sampled and stored as 12-bit digital values.
35. An avionics system comprising: a digital data bus; a digital avionics computer coupled for communicating over the digital data bus, the digital avionics computer providing digital flight control information and receiving digital status information which is representative of analog signals in the avionics system; a protocol converter system that is coupled to communicate with the digital avionics computer using the digital data bus, the protocol converter system receiving digital communications from the avionics computer and translating the received digital communications into at least one analog flight control signal, the protocol converter system sampling and storing digital representations of analog control signals coupled to the analog flight control computer and communicating upon demand by the digital avionics computer these digital representations over the digital data bus; and an analog flight control computer that generates a command signal for a mechanical actuator, the flight control computer receiving at least one analog control signal from the protocol converter system and generating the analog control signals that are received by the protocol converter system.
36. A avionics system according to claim 35 wherein: the sampled analog control signals are sampled and stored as 12-bit digital values.
37. An avionics system according to claim 1 that additionally comprises: an analog sample circuit coupled to at least one analog flight control signal, the analog sample circuit converting the coupled analog signals to digital values, the digital data processor storing the digital values, comparing the stored digital values to commanded digital values and communicating the results of the comparisons to the digital control computer.
38. An avionics system comprising: a digital interface circuit which is connectable to a digital data bus to provide communication of avionic sensor information with a digital control computer; a digital data processor coupled to the digital interface circuit and receiving from the digital interface circuit avionic sensor information, the digital data processor providing to the analog interface circuit at least one digital flight control signal in response to the received avionic sensor information; and an analog interface circuit which is connectable to provide at least one analog flight control signal to an aircraft analog flight control computer, each analog flight control signal being provided in response to a different digital flight control signal derived by the digital data processor in response to the received avionic sensor information.
39. A protocol converter system according to claim 1 wherein the analog interface circuit additionally comprises: a digital to analog converter coupled to the digital data processor providing at least one analog flight control signal to an aircraft analog flight control computer, each analog flight control signal being provided in response to a different digital flight control signal.
40. A protocol converter system according to claim 39 that additionally comprises: an analog avionics computer deriving at least one analog flight control signal that is capable of being coupled to the analog flight control computer; and a mode selection circuit that is coupled to a selection signal which is generated by the processing means; the selection signal choosing between at least one analog output signal coupled to the analog interface circuit and at least one analog control signal generated by the analog avionics computer for the analog control source coupled to the analog flight control computer.
PCT/US1993/007298 1992-07-31 1993-07-29 Failsafe digital bus to analog protocol converter system WO1994003854A1 (en)

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Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
US07/923,146 US5377109A (en) 1992-07-31 1992-07-31 Failsafe digital bus to analog protocol converter system
US07/923,146 1992-07-31

Applications Claiming Priority (9)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
AT93919873T AT198105T (en) 1992-07-31 1993-07-29 Flight control system for flying machine
EP19930919873 EP0606469B1 (en) 1992-07-31 1993-07-29 Aircraft flight control system
AU49966/93A AU4996693A (en) 1992-07-31 1993-07-29 Failsafe digital bus to analog protocol converter system
JP50551894A JPH07503090A (en) 1992-07-31 1993-07-29
DE1993629751 DE69329751T2 (en) 1992-07-31 1993-07-29 Flight control system for flying machine
DE1993629751 DE69329751D1 (en) 1992-07-31 1993-07-29 Flight control system for flying machine
DK93919873T DK0606469T3 (en) 1992-07-31 1993-07-29 Flight control system for an aircraft
NO941141A NO941141L (en) 1992-07-31 1994-03-28 Function Secure Digital bus / analogue protopkoll inverter system
GR20010400295T GR3035461T3 (en) 1992-07-31 2001-02-22 Failsafe digital bus to analog protocol converter system.

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WO1994003854A1 true WO1994003854A1 (en) 1994-02-17

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EP (1) EP0606469B1 (en)
JP (1) JPH07503090A (en)
AT (1) AT198105T (en)
AU (1) AU4996693A (en)
CA (1) CA2120347A1 (en)
DE (2) DE69329751T2 (en)
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CA2120347A1 (en) 1994-02-17
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AU4996693A (en) 1994-03-03
IL106511D0 (en) 1993-12-28
EP0606469A4 (en) 1997-05-14
DK0606469T3 (en) 2001-04-17
NO941141D0 (en) 1994-03-28
EP0606469A1 (en) 1994-07-20
GR3035461T3 (en) 2001-05-31
US5377109A (en) 1994-12-27
DE69329751D1 (en) 2001-01-18
AT198105T (en) 2000-12-15
EP0606469B1 (en) 2000-12-13
IL106511A (en) 1996-10-31
DK606469T3 (en)
NO941141L (en) 1994-05-20
PT606469E (en) 2001-04-30

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