Title:
Joystick actuated vehicle suspension control system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A joystick actuated suspension control system providing the operator a way of manually adjusting the ride height of a vehicle equipped with pneumatic, electric, or hydraulic suspension. The resistor, hall-effect, or any other electrical current adjusting type joystick can be either a three axis analog model (third axis normally on the end of the joystick handle as an adjustable knob) or a two axis analog model with two separate on-off switches or a single three position (on-off-on) rocker switch. The x axis on the joystick controls the lateral (side-to-side) control, the y axis controls the longitudinal (front-back) control, and the z axis or the switches control the vertical (up-down) control. This provides a means of independently adjusting a vehicle's height at each suspension unit or wheel.



Inventors:
Dicus, Jack T. (Destin, FL, US)
Application Number:
10/083837
Publication Date:
11/28/2002
Filing Date:
02/27/2002
Assignee:
DICUS JACK T.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
273/148R
International Classes:
B60G17/033; B60G17/052; B60G17/056; G05G9/047; (IPC1-7): A63F9/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MARC-COLEMAN, MARTHE Y
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Jack T. Dicus (Destin, FL, US)
Claims:

I claim:



1. A joystick operated, electrically activated suspension control system, comprising: a joystick unit subject to input from the driver or any other operator. a computer unit to convert the joystick signals to specific digital electrical output patterns for each control solenoid. a electrical current amplifier to boost the current output sufficiently to operate the electrically actuated hydraulic, electric, or pneumatic control solenoids.

Description:
[0001] This application is related to provisional application 60/272,189 filed Feb. 28, 2001 1
REFERENCES CITED
6164665Dec, 2000Lentz, et al
6155541Dec, 2000Farris, et al
6149142Nov, 2000Penzotti
6131060Oct, 2000Obradovich, et al
6029764Feb, 2000Schubert
6000703Dec, 1999Schubert, et al
5941920Aug, 1999Schubert
5899288May, 1999Schubert, et al
5865452Feb, 1999Chalin

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] This invention relates to vehicle suspension systems on automobiles, boats, off-road vehicles, and any other vehicle requiring suspension.

[0003] Controlling the ride height of a vehicle has been a goal of many custom car and off-road enthusiasts for many years. Good ground clearance is usually obtained at the cost of handling performance, and vice versa.

[0004] The prior art in this field is common in custom car magazines and car shows. The previous state-of-the-art is a device called a ten-switch controller, allowing the operator very limited control input. It also, in most cases, requires both hands to operate effectively and also removing one's eyes from the path of the vehicle.

[0005] Some car enthusiasts have even adapted video game controllers, but only as switches. Each button on the controller operates a solenoid, and usually requires both hands to operate effectively.

[0006] The joystick controller improves control and safety by allowing the operator to control the vehicle with one hand, adjust the suspension with the other hand, and simultaneously maintain visual contact with the vehicle path.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] The present invention provides an improved method of manually controlling vehicle ride height.

[0008] The invention includes a resistor joystick or hall-effect joystick for operator input. This can be either a three axis model or a two axis model with a two position rocker switch or two separate on-off switches.

[0009] The invention includes a computer module that translates the analog and digital input commands from the joystick into the amplified digital signals required to operate the solenoids.

[0010] The invention is designed to connect to commercially available electrically actuated solenoids to control each suspension unit (wheel) that allows for up and down control of the suspension unit, whether controlling compressed air for air spring suspensions, switches for electric suspensions, or hydraulic valves/pumps for hydraulic suspensions.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

[0011] FIG. 1A is a schematic of the joystick-controlled suspension system in a standard four point automotive-type suspension system with a single set of control solenoids.

[0012] FIG. 1B is a schematic of the joystick-controlled suspension system in a standard four point automotive-type suspension system with multiple solenoids.

[0013] FIG. 2A is a representation of the joystick deflection bands for x, y, and z axis for three band input. Angles exaggerated for clarity.

[0014] FIG. 2B is a representation of the joystick deflection bands for x, y, and z axis for five band input. Angles exaggerated for clarity.

[0015] FIG. 2C is a representation of the joystick deflection bands for z axis for seven band input. Angles exaggerated for clarity.

[0016] FIG. 3 shows the three axis joystick controls viewed from the top.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0017] This invention translates a joystick input into vertical vehicle suspension movement. FIG. 1A shows the joystick unit, the computer controller, and the solenoids for a single speed system, and FIG. 1B shows the system with two solenoids per suspension unit providing capability for variable vertical speeds.

[0018] In all embodiments, the joystick potentiometers are connected with one end of the stator connected to ground and the other end to the supply voltage so as to give a linear voltage output on the wiper. This output voltage from the potentiometer is used by the analog-to-digital converters in the computer processor to determine the position of the joystick handle and knob. The joystick can be located locally with the computer processor, or remotely connected by copper wire, infrared link, or radio frequency link.

[0019] The computer processor decodes the position of the joystick into the suspension movement patterns shown in the following embodiments. In the preferred embodiment, the analog-to-digital converters and the processor are on the same integrated circuit.

[0020] The current amplifiers then amplifies the output of the computer processor to a current level capable of operating the electric, hydraulic, or pneumatic solenoids that cause the movement of the vehicle. The preferred embodiment uses a PNP power transistor driven by a low-power NPN transistor that is driven from the output of the computer processor. The current amplifier section can be located locally with the processor or remotely connected by copper wire, infrared, or radio frequency link to the computer processor.

[0021] In the first embodiment, the x axis has three bands, represented in FIG. 2A, allowing the operator to:

[0022] a) raise or lower the left side of the vehicle in the left position.

[0023] b) raise or lower both sides simultaneously in the center position.

[0024] c) raise or lower the right side of the vehicle in the right position

[0025] The y axis has three bands, represented in FIG. 2A, allowing the operator to:

[0026] a) raise or lower the front of the vehicle in the forward position.

[0027] b) raise or lower both front and back simultaneously in the center position.

[0028] c) raise or lower the rear side of the vehicle in the back position.

[0029] The z axis has three bands, represented in FIG. 2A, allowing the operator to:

[0030] a) raise the vehicle by turning the joystick handle to the right (or left to match operator preference).

[0031] b) take no action by leaving joystick handle knob centered.

[0032] c) lower the vehicle by turning the joysick handle to the left (or right).

[0033] In a second embodiment, the x axis has five bands, represented in FIG. 2B, allowing the operator to:

[0034] a) raise or lower the left side of the vehicle while performing the opposite operation on the right side of the vehicle in the far left position.

[0035] b) raise or lower the left side of the vehicle only in the left position

[0036] c) raise or lower both left and right sides simultaneously in the center position.

[0037] d) raise or lower the right side of the vehicle only in the right position

[0038] e) raise or lower the right side of the vehicle while performing the opposite operation on the left side of the vehicle in the far right position.

[0039] The y axis has five bands, represented in FIG. 2B, allowing the operator to:

[0040] a) raise or lower the front of the vehicle while performing the opposite operation on the rear of the vehicle in the far forwrd position.

[0041] b) raise or lower the front of the vehicle only in the forward position

[0042] c) raise or lower both front and rear simultaneously in the center position.

[0043] d) raise or lower the rear of the vehicle only in the back position

[0044] e) raise or lower the rear of the vehicle while performing the opposite operation on the front of the vehicle in the far back position.

[0045] The z axis has five bands, represented in FIG. 2B, for multiple solenoid control, allowing the operator to:

[0046] a) open both lowering solenoids in the far left (or right) position for fast lowering.

[0047] b) open one lowering solenoid in the left (or right) position for slow lowering.

[0048] c) take no action in the center position.

[0049] d) open one raising solenoid in the right (or left) position for slow raising.

[0050] e) open both raising solenoids in the far right (or left) position for fast raising.

[0051] In a third embodiment, the x and y axis has three or five bands as in the first or second embodiment above. The z axis requires control solenoids for two different volume valves or pumps per suspension unit (wheel) for correct operation. It has seven bands, represented in FIG. 2C, for multiple solenoid control, allowing the operator to:

[0052] a) open both lowering solenoids in the extreme left (or right) position for fast lowering.

[0053] b) open large volume lowering solenoid in the far (or right) position for medium lowering.

[0054] c) open small volume lowering solenoid in the left (or right) position for slow lowering.

[0055] d) take no action in the center position.

[0056] e) open small volume raising solenoid in the right (or left) position for slow raising.

[0057] f) open large volume raising solenoid in the far right (or left) position for medium raising.

[0058] g) open both raising solenoids in the extreme right (or left) position for fast raising.

[0059] A number of combination embodiments could be constructed from the different band setups on each axis if required by the application.