Title:
Radio compass
United States Patent 2276235


Abstract:
This invention relates to radio compasses for use on marine vessels and aircraft, and particularly to a compass system including apparatus for automatically maintaining the directional antenna oriented on the selected radio transmitting station. Various radio compass systems have been devised...



Inventors:
Lamb, Anthony H.
Application Number:
US30085439A
Publication Date:
03/10/1942
Filing Date:
10/23/1939
Assignee:
WESTON ELECTRICAL INSTR CORP
Primary Class:
International Classes:
G01S3/42
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Description:

This invention relates to radio compasses for use on marine vessels and aircraft, and particularly to a compass system including apparatus for automatically maintaining the directional antenna oriented on the selected radio transmitting station.

Various radio compass systems have been devised for indicating the direction to a radio transmitter by the variations in phase or magnitude of signals received on directional and nondirectional antennas as the directional antenna is manually rotated. It has also been proposed to rotate the directional antenna through relay systems that are brought into operation when the directional antenna or loop moves out of the plane to the transmitter, but vibration on vessels and aircraft makes it difficult to effect stable operation of relay circuits in response to the displacement of the sensitive instrument relay.

The problem of obtaining a stable control of the position of the directional antenna or loop on aircraft is particularly difficult in view of the vibration and the exacting design requirements of small size, light weight, and rapid response to "off course" indications.

An object of this invention is to provide a radio compass including relay apparatus of high reliability for controlling the orientation of the directional antenna element and/or an indicating device. An object is to provide a radio compass system including a reversible motor for rotating the directional antenna, circuits for combining the signal components received on a directional and a non-directional antenna to produce a voltage indicative of the displacement of the loop from a plane that passes through the radio transmitter, and stable relay apparatus for controlling the motor operation in accordance with the magnitude of the produced voltage.

Another object is to provide relay circuits that include grid glow tubes and that function properly in spite of vibration of the apparatus carrying the relay circuits. A further object is to provide relay circuits including vacuum tubes for controlling the operation of a reversible motor, and a primary relay of such design that the speed of the motor varies progressively with the magnitude of the departure of the primary control voltage from a predetermined value.

These and other objects and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following specification when taken with the accompanying drawings in which: Fig. 1 is a circuit diagram of a radio compass embodying the invention; Figs. 2 and 3 are simplified diagrams of the circuits of one tube of the Fig. 1 circuit and of a modification, respectively; Fig. 4 is a fragmentary elevation of one form of flexible vibratory contacts for the instrument relay; Fig. 5 is a curve sheet showing the relation between motor speed and the magnitude of the departure of the loop orientation from the position of balance; Fig. 6 is a circuit diagram of another embodiment of the invention; and Fig. 7 is a fragmentary circuit diagram of a modification of the Fig. 6 arrangement.

In Figs. 1 and 6 of the drawings, the antenna system includes a balanced loop or directional antenna I that is tunable by a condenser 2, and a non-directional or rod antenna 3. An audio frequency oscillator 4 supplies current to the loop 2o through a transformer 5 and leads 6, and the combined outputs of the loops and local oscillator work into a balanced modulator 7. The outputs of the modulator 7 and the non-directional antenna 3, after amplification by tubes 8, 9 re5; spectively, are combined in a circuit 10 that works into an amplifier and detector II.

The summation of the signal pick-up from the balanced loop and the rod antenna, when properly adjusted, results in a cardioid curve 3S with reference to total signal versus orientation of the loop with respect to the transmitter when plotted in polar coordinates. This cardioid shaped response curve is modulated by the local oscillator 4 and the output from the amplifierdetector 11 is therefore a current of the audio oscillator frequency that varies in phase and magnitude in accordance with the cardioid law with reference to the orientation of the loop antenna.

In the embodiment illustrated in Fig. 1, the output from the amplifier-detector f1 is fed to one coil 12 of a dynamometer type measuring instrument relay that has a second winding 13 connected across a secondary winding 14 of the transformer 5. The pointer or contact arm 15 of the instrument relay is displaced in opposite directions from an electrical zero position corresponding to "on course" orientation of the loop antenna I as the plane of the loop moves to the 60 right or the left of the plane from the loop to a radio transmitter. Contacts 16, 16' are located in fixed or relatively fixed positions at opposite sides of the electrical zero position to close relay circuits selectively in accordance with the dis65 placement of the contact arm. These relay circuits control the actuation of a reversible motor that rotates the loop antenna I to direct it towards the transmitter when the preselected orientation of the loop is disturbed.

The relay circuits include small grid glow tubes such as sold commercially by the Radio Corporation of America as Type Nos. 2050 and 2051.

These tubes 17, I7' have cathode heater circuits that are connected between ground and the positive terminal of a current source, such as the 12 volt storage battery in common use on aircraft.

The control grid of tube I is connected to ground through a pair of serially connected resistors 19, 20. The junction of the resistors is connected to the instrument relay contact 16 by a lead 21, and the plate of tube 17 is connected through the motor field coil 22, motor armature 23 and lead 24 to a terminal of an alternating current source 25 that is preferably a vibratory invertor working out of the battery 18. The other output terminal is grounded, as shown, or may be returned to the negative terminal of battery 18. The instrument contact arm 15 is connected to the positive terminal of the battery 18 by a lead 26, and the cathode of tube 17 is returned to the positive terminal of the heater element. A resistor 27 or equivalent means is connected between the plate and cathode of tube 17 to limit back e. m. f. and other transients that would render the tube 17 conductive during half-cycles when the plate potential is negative with respect to the cathode. The circuits of the tube 17' are symmetrical with those of tube 17 and the various elements are identified by the corresponding primed numerals but will not be described in detail.

The motor shaft 29 is connected through gearing 30 to the staff 31 that carries the loop antenna I and has slip rings 32 for connecting the loop to the tuning condenser 2. Gearing 33 at the other end of the motor shaft 29 drives the flexible shaft 34 that actuates a compass or direction indicating instrument 35.

As will be apparent from the fragmentary circuit diagram, Fig. 2, the grids of the grid glow tubes are normally at a direct current potential that is negative with respect to the cathodes, the grids being returned to ground through resistors 19, 20 while the cathodes are connected to the positive terminal of the battery 18. This negative bias which blocks plate current flow is removed when the instrument relay contacts 15, 16 or 15, 16' close to connect the grid of tube 17 or 17', respectively, to the positive battery terminal through resistor 19 and lead 21, or resistor 19' and lead 21'. Plate current flows during half-cycles of the alternating current from source 25 that make the plates positive with respect to the cathodes so long as the instrument relay contacts are closed, but this half-cycle conductivity ceases as soon as the relay contacts open.

The operation of the radio compass system of Fig. 1 is therefore as follows. As is understood in the art, the audio frequency current delivered to the instrument winding 12 is of a magnitude s5 and phase, with respect to the audio frequency input to the instrument winding 13 from the transformer secondary 14, that depends upon the orientation of the loop I with respect to the transmitter, and the instrument deflection is zero or a maximum when the loop is in the plane of the transmitter. Proper orientation of the loop reduces the instrument relay deflection to zero, thus opening the relay contacts to render tubes 17, 17' non-conductive. Movement of the vessel or aircraft that turns the loop antenna out of the plane to the transmitter results in a closure of one set of the instrument relay contacts to reduce the bias on the associated tube I7 or 17', and the resultant plate current flow through the directional motor rotates the loop I back to the plane to the transmitter. The motor comes to rest as soon as the balanced loop condition is established and the relay contact arm 15 returned to its normal position.

It is also possible, by the circuit connections shown in Fig. 3, to bring the motor into operation by blocking plate current flow in one of the two tubes 17, 17' which, in the balanced loop condition, both pass current. The circuit connections differ from those of Figs. 1 and 2 in that the resistors 19, 20 are not conductively connected under normal conditions but are connected, respectively, to the contact 16 and contact arm 15 of the instrument relay. A condenser 36 may be shunted across the contacts 15, I6, when a time delay is desired, and it is to be understood that the circuit connections to the tube 17' are symmetrical with those of tube 17.

It will be apparent that, when the Fig. 3 circuit connections are substituted in the compass system of Fig. 1, a further change must be made in the connections to the winding of the instrument relay or in the motor circuit to effect a rotation of the loop I in the proper direction to restore the balanced condition. The armature of the motor is held stationary by equal currents in the two field windings 22, 22' so long as the instrument contact arm 15 remains out of engagement with the contacts 16, 16'. Departure of loop I from its desired orientation results in a current flow in the instrument coil 12 that deflects the contact arm 15 into engagement with one of the fixed contacts, for example the contact 16. The contact closure completes a conductive circuit from the grid of tube 17 to the negative terminal of the battery 18 and places a heavy negative bias on the grid. The tube 17 is thus blocked and the motor is energized as the current through the field winding 22 is interrupted. This type of motor control has the advantage that overrunning or hunting is precluded as tube 17 becomes conductive as soon as the instrument contact arm 15 leaves the contact 16.

The balanced current flow through the opposed field windings 22, 22' acts as an electrical brake that quickly arrests the rotation of the motor armature.

The contact system of the instrument relay is an important feature of the invention as it provides an automatic control of the motor speed as a function of the displacement of the loop from its balance plane. As shown in Fig. 4, the contact arm 15 and contacts 16, 16' are highly flexible and of such length that their free ends or contact portions are continuously vibrating. The contact members may be formed of fine springy wires or ribbons and, where space is not available for long contact members, a part 15' of the wire or ribbon may be loosely coiled to encourage continuous vibration. The spring contacts are always in relative motion, although this motion may be too small to be apparent to the naked eye, and tend to keep clean at the points of contact. The dirt particles and films that caused trouble with prior contacts create little or no difficulty with the freely vibrating contacts as the fluttering of the contacts gives rise to an appreciable impact in spite of the low pressure that can be developed by an instrument type relay.

_~I___ A substantial deflection of the relay contact arm 15, corresponding to a considerable offcourse condition, results in an average contact pressure that maintains the contacts in continuous or almost continuous engagement in spite of the vibration of the spring contacts. The contacts vibrate apart during a considerable part of the time as the moving system of the relay approaches its zero position and the power supplied to the motor thus varies with the departure of the loop I from its on-course position. The relative duration of the open and closed condition of the contacts for different degrees of displacement of the loop I from on-course position is indicated graphically in Fig. 5 by widths of the hatched areas and the adjacent spaces, and the curve A shows the relation between motor speed and off-course position that results from the current pulses of different duration that are thus supplied to the motor. The invention may be incorporated in radio compass systems, as described and claimed in the application of John H. Miller, Ser. No. 289,703, "Radio compass," filed Aug. 11, 1939, in which a rectifier bridge and direct current instrument relay are used in place of the less sensitive dynamometer type of relay. In one such adaptation of the invention, as shown in Fig. 6, the radio circuits are or may be substantially identical with those of Fig. 1 and the several parts are identifled by corresponding reference numerals but will not be described in detail.

The audio output from the amplifier-detector I I is fed to the primary of a transformer 38 that has a center tapped secondary connected across opposite terminals of a rectifier bridge 39. The small copper oxide rectifiers 40 are arranged in "series aiding" relation in the several bridge arms and a small resistance and sliding tap connection 41 may be provided at one terminal point for balancing the bridge. The secondary winding 14' of transformer 5 of the audio oscillator system is also center tapped and is connected across the other pair of opposed terminals of the rectifier bridge. The moving coil 42 of a sensitive direct current instrument relay is connected between the center taps of the winding 14' and the secondary of transformer 38.

The contact arm 43 of the relay is grounded and the contacts 44, 44' are connected to the control grids of tubes 17, 1', respectively, through resistors 19, 20 and 19', 20'. The grids are floating when the relay contacts are open and both tubes thus pass current to the motor field windings 22, 22' to prevent rotation of the motor so long as the loop I is on course. As explained in the Miller application, the deviation of the relay contact arm 43 from a center zero position is a function of the magnitude and phase relations of the two alternating current components impressed upon the rectifier bridge, and the direction and extent of the contact arm displacement therefore varies with the direction and the extent of the movement of the loop I away from its desired on-course position. The motor is thereby energized to rotate the loop in the proper direction to restore a balanced condition when contact arm 43 engages contact 44 or 44' to block conduction through the associated tube by applying a negative bias. The motor speed varies with the departure of the loop from its balance position when the relay is provided with vibratory contacts.

A simpler arrangement, as shown in the fragmentary circuit diagram of Fig. 7, includes the radio receiver and local oscillator of the Fig. 6 system but, for simplicity, only the output windings of these parts have been illustrated. The control grids of tubes 17, 17' are connected by leads 45, 45' directly to the center taps of the secondary of transformer 33 and of winding 14', respectively, and the grids are returned to the positive terminal of the battery 18 through the resistors 46, 46', respectively. The grid resistors Sthus complete a direct current output circuit for the rectifier bridge, and the bias voltages applied to the two grids vary in opposite sense when the balance condition of the bridge is disturbed by movement of the loop I from its on-course posiStion. Both tubes are normally conductive and pass current to the opposed field windings 22, 22' of the reversible motor. These field currents are equal and block operation of the motor so long as the rectifier bridge is balanced, but current Sflow in the direct current output circuit of the bridge establishes potentials across the resistors 46, 46' that increase the bias on one tube and decrease that on the other tube. Conduction through one tube is blocked when the grid bias falls below a critical value, and the motor then rotates in the direction determined by the other tube and its associated field winding to restore the loop I to its on-course position.

It is to be understood that the invention is not limited to the several embodiments herein disclosed as various changes may be made in the electrical and mechanical assemblies without departing from the spirit of my invention as set forth in the following claims.

I claim: 1. In a radio compass, an angularly movable directional antenna, a motor with a pair of reversing field windings for rotating said antenna, a radio receiver operating out of said antenna and having an instrument relay in an output circuit thereof, said relay including a moving contact displaceable in opposite directions from its electrical zero to engage one or the other of two relatively fixed contacts in accordance with the direction of displacement of said directional antenna from a selected on-course position, said contacts being flexible vibratory members, whereby the integrated time of closure of the movable contact upon a relatively fixed contact varies progressively with the magnitude of the displacement of the directional antenna from a selected on-course position, a pair of grid glow tubes each having one of said motor windings in the output circuit thereof, and circuit means including said movable contact of said relay and the respective relatively fixed contacts for controlling conduction through the respective tubes to regulate the direction and the speed of operation of said motor.

2. A radio compass of the type including an angularly movable loop antenna and a non-directional antenna, means including a radio receiver connected to said antennae for producing a direct current that changes polarity when the loop antenna is displaced in opposite directions from a balance position with respect to a preselected radio transmitter and increases in magnitude with the displacement of the loop antenna, a motor for rotating said loop antenna, said motor having a pair of field windings for determining the direction of rotation of the motor, and control means for energizing said motor for operation at a speed that varies progressively with the departure of the loop antenna from on-course position with respect to a selected radio transmitter; characterized by the fact that said control means comprises a pair of grid glow tubes having said field windings in their respective output circuits, and an instrument relay energized by the direct current from said current-producing means for selectively controlling conduction through said tubes in accordance with the orientation of said loop antenna, said relay having a movable system for displacing a flexible continuously vibrating contact arm between a pair of relatively stationary and flexible continuously vibrating contacts, whereby the values of the time-integrated closures of said contact arm upon said contacts may progressively vary with the magnitude of the departure of the loop antenna from a selected on-course position.

ANTHONY H. LAMB.