(19)
(11)EP 2 341 320 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
25.03.2020 Bulletin 2020/13

(21)Application number: 10252130.9

(22)Date of filing:  16.12.2010
(51)Int. Cl.: 
G01D 5/16  (2006.01)
H01H 1/00  (2006.01)

(54)

Resistive position sensor

Widerstandsbasierter Positionssensor

Capteur résistive de position


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 16.12.2009 US 639104

(43)Date of publication of application:
06.07.2011 Bulletin 2011/27

(73)Proprietor: Hamilton Sundstrand Corporation
Charlotte, NC 28217 (US)

(72)Inventor:
  • Schmidt, Samuel
    Windsor Locks, Connecticut 06096 (US)

(74)Representative: Dehns 
St. Bride's House 10 Salisbury Square
London EC4Y 8JD
London EC4Y 8JD (GB)


(56)References cited: : 
DE-A1- 2 017 619
US-A- 4 053 859
US-A1- 2006 097 727
GB-A- 2 114 810
US-A1- 2002 171 565
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description

    BACKGROUND



    [0001] This disclosure relates to a sensing device that uses a mechanical snap mechanism and a resistive sensing element.

    [0002] A wide variety of sensing devices are used to perform, for example, position sensing. When simple, low cost position sensing is desired, a position indicating electrical switch is often used. Switches can exhibit poor reliability in typical aerospace applications, particularly due to sensitivity to contamination of electrical contacts and deterioration within the switch from vibration. Aerospace applications in particular demand reliable switch operation. Continuously monitoring health of the switch contacts is impractical since electrical switches typically have make/break contacts. Thus, switch failures often occur without any prior warning.

    [0003] Sensing devices are taught in US 4,053,859, DE 20 17 619 and US 2002/171565.

    SUMMARY



    [0004] According to a first aspect of the present invention, there is provided a sensing device as defined by claim 1.

    [0005] In one example, the resistive sensing element includes a generally circular base providing an opening. The flexible member extends from the base into the opening and is configured to deflect relative to the base. A piezoresistor is mounted on the flexible member and is configured to provide a variable resistance based upon deflection of the flexible member.

    [0006] An example method of sensing an input includes receiving an input. The output element moves in response to the input. The flexible member deflects in response to the output element moving, and the resistance of a resistor varies. A signal is provided based upon the resistance that corresponds to an input state.

    BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



    [0007] The disclosure can be further understood by reference to the following detailed description when considered in connection with the accompanying drawings wherein:

    Figure 1 is a cross-sectional view of an example sensing device.

    Figure 2 is an elevational view of a sensing element.

    Figure 3 is a schematic view of an example snap mechanism.

    Figure 4 is a schematic view of another example snap mechanism.

    Figure 5 is a schematic view of yet another example snap mechanism.


    DETAILED DESCRIPTION



    [0008] A sensing device 10 is illustrated in Figure 1 and includes a housing 12 fixedly mounted to a structure 14 in one example. The sensing device 10 includes an input element 16 that receives an input for which it is desirable to determine an input state, which may be force, pressure or temperature. The input element 16 cooperates with an output element 18, which is movable relative to the housing 12 in the example.

    [0009] The output element 18 is operatively connected to a resistive sensing element 20, which includes a flexible member 22 that cooperates with the output element 18. The output element 18 engages the flexible member 22 in one example. The input state is transmitted to the resistive sensing element 20 by the output element 18 via the input element 16. Referring to Figure 2, the resistive sensing element 20 is arranged within a cavity 13 in the housing 12 and includes a generally circular base 24, for example, that provides an opening 26. The base 24 is securely retained relative to the housing 12, and the flexible member 22 deflects relative to the base 24 in response to axial movement of the output element 18, for example, between first and second positions PI, P2 (Figs. 3-5).

    [0010] In the example, a spacer 42 is arranged between the resistive sensing element 20 and a retainer 44, which is secured to the housing 12 at a threaded interface 48. A cap 46 seals the cavity 13 to prevent debris from penetrating the sensing device 10.

    [0011] The resistive sensing element 20 includes one or more strain gauge resistors 28 mounted on the flexible member 22 such that the resistance of the resistor 28 varies as the flexible member 22 is deflected. The flexible member 22 can be protected from overstress with a mechanical stop to limit its deflection. The resistor 28 is provided in a wheatstone bridge 34. An example wheatstone bridge includes four resistors, and a measured voltage is indicative of a resistance of the resistor 28. The resistance varies with the deflection of the flexible member 22. The measured voltage is indicative of the deflected position D of the flexible member 22. Any number of the four resistors 28 may be active, or variable, and the remaining resistors 28 may be fixed, or constant. In one example, a pair of piezoresistors 28 is provided on each of the opposing sides of the flexible member 22. Providing one pair of piezoresistors 28 in tension and another pair of piezoresistors in compression provides better sensitivity, if desired.

    [0012] A housing 32 is provided on the resistive sensing element 20. Element leads 30 are provided from the resistors 28 to connections within the housing 32, for example, that are configured to provide the wheatstone bridge 34. In one example, the element leads 30 are supported on the base 24. Power input leads 36 and voltage output leads 38 connected to the wheatstone bridge 34 extend from the housing 32 to terminals 40. A power source 37 provides power to the wheatstone bridge 34 through the power input leads 36. A controller 39 measures the voltage signal across the wheatstone bridge 34 at the voltage output leads 38, which corresponds to the resistance indicative of the deflected position D which in turn corresponds to the input state. In this manner, a continuous resistance signal is available. The resistance signal can be monitored at any time by measuring the voltage to determine the health of the sensing device 10.

    [0013] A snap mechanism 50 (schematically shown in Figure 2) may be provided between the input element 16 and the output element 18 to provide a bistable switch having two discrete positions. A first position P1 is indicative of the input state being below a given threshold, or "off," and the second position P2 is indicative of the input state being at or above the threshold, or "on." The snap mechanism 50 maintains a positive reacting force throughout the operating stroke of the output element 18. A disc in the snap mechanism 50 deflects as the input increases until a maximum threshold force is applied to the disc at which point the disc "snaps" over.

    [0014] Figure 3 illustrates an example force measurement configuration. A stem 56 provides the input element 16 (receiving a force F) and the output element 18. A structure 52 supports a snap element 54 connected to the stem 56. The snap element 54, which is a flexible disc, has a concave configuration with the stem 56 in the first position P1. Upon the force F reaching a threshold force, the snap element 54 is deflected to a convex configuration (dashed line) that moves the stem 56 to the second position P2. Stops 58 limit the travel of the stem 56.

    [0015] Figure 4 illustrates an example pressure measurement configuration. A stem 156 is connected to a diaphragm 60 that provides the input element 116 (receiving a pressure P). The stem 156 provides the output element 18. A structure 152 supports the diaphragm 60 and a snap element 154 that is connected to the stem 156. The snap element 154 has a concave configuration with the stem 156 in the first position P1. Upon the pressure P reaching a threshold pressure, the snap element 154 is deflected to a convex configuration (dashed line) that moves the stem 156 to the second position P2. Stops 158 limit the travel of the stem 156.

    [0016] Figure 5 illustrates an example temperature measurement configuration. A reservoir 62 filled with a material having thermally variable volume provides the input element 116 with the volume change in response to a temperature T. The stem 256 cooperates with the material in the reservoir 62 and provides the output element 218. A structure 252 supports a snap element 254 connected to the stem 256. The snap element 254 has a concave configuration with the stem 256 in the first position P1. Upon the volume of the material expanding a sufficient amount indicative of a threshold temperature, the snap element 254 is deflected to a convex configuration (dashed line) that moves the stem 256 to the second position P2. Stops 258 limit the travel of the stem 256.

    [0017] Although example embodiments have been disclosed, a worker of ordinary skill in this art would recognize that certain modifications would come within the scope of the claims, the invention being solely defined by the appended claims.


    Claims

    1. A sensing device (10) comprising:

    a bistable snap mechanism (50, 150, 250) including a snap element (54, 154, 254) operatively connected to an input element (16, 116, 216) and an output element (18), the snap element (54, 154, 254) having two discrete positions that provides the output element in one of first and second positions (P1, P2);

    a resistive sensing element (20) including a flexible member (22) operatively connected to the output element (18) and configured to deflect in response to movement of the output element (18) between the first and second positions (P1, P2), a resistor (28) mounted on the flexible member (22) and configured to provide a variable resistance based upon deflection of the flexible member;

    wherein the snap element (54, 154, 254) includes a flexible disc (54) configured to move between concave and convex configurations;

    wherein the bistable snap mechanism (50, 150, 250) includes a stem (56) connected to the flexible disc (54), wherein the stem (56) is configured to move along an axis between the first and second positions (P1, P2) in response to the flexible disc (54) moving between the concave and convex configurations,

    and wherein the stem (56) extends from both sides of the flexible disc (54), the stem (56, 156, 256) on one side of the flexible disc (54) providing the output element (18) and on the other side of the flexible disc (54) providing the input element (16) or being connected with the input element (116) or cooperating with the input element (216).


     
    2. The sensing device according to claim 1, wherein the input element (16) further includes a diaphragm (60).
     
    3. The sensing device according to any preceding claim, wherein the input element further includes a material (216) with thermally variable volume.
     
    4. The sensing device according to any preceding claim, wherein the resistive sensing element includes a wheatstone bridge (34) that includes the resistor (28).
     
    5. The sensing device according to any preceding claim, comprising a housing (12) supporting the bistable snap mechanism (50, 150, 250) and the resistive sensing element (20).
     
    6. The sensing device according to claim 5, wherein the resistive sensing element includes a base (24) secured to the housing and the flexible member (22) extending from the base and engaging the output element.
     
    7. The sensing device according to claim 6, the base (24) being generally circular and providing an opening, the flexible member extending from the base into the opening and configured to deflect relative to the base, the resistive element being a piezoresistor mounted on the flexible member and configured to provide a variable resistance based upon deflection of the flexible member.
     
    8. The sensing device according to claim 7, wherein the flexible member (22) includes opposing first and second sides, and first and second piezoresistors (28) are respectively mounted on the first and second sides.
     
    9. The sensing device according to claim 8, wherein third and fourth piezoresistors are respectively mounted on the first and second sides.
     
    10. The sensing device according to claim 7, 8 or 9, comprising a wheatstone bridge (34) including the piezoresistor, and housing supported on the base, the wheatstone bridge including connections provided in the housing.
     
    11. The sensing device according to claim 10, wherein element leads electrically connect the piezoresistor and the wheatstone bridge, the element leads being supported on the base.
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Erfassungsvorrichtung (10), umfassend:

    einen bistabilen Schnappmechanismus (50, 150, 250), der ein Schnappelement (54, 154, 254) beinhaltet, das mit einem Eingangselement (16, 116, 216) und einem Ausgangselement (18) wirkverbunden ist, wobei das Schnappelement (54, 154, 254) zwei einzelne Positionen aufweist, die das Ausgangselement in einer von einer ersten und einer zweiten Position (P1, P2) bereitstellen;

    ein widerstandsbasiertes Erfassungselement (20), das ein flexibles Element (22) beinhaltet, das mit dem Ausgangselement (18) wirkverbunden und konfiguriert ist, um sich als Reaktion auf Bewegung des Ausgangselements (18) zwischen der ersten und der zweiten Position (P1, P2) abzulenken, einen Resistor (28), der an dem flexiblen Element (22) montiert und konfiguriert ist, um einen variablen Widerstand basierend auf Ablenkung des flexiblen Elements bereitzustellen;

    wobei das Schnappelement (54, 154, 254) eine flexible Scheibe (54) beinhaltet, die konfiguriert ist, um sich zwischen einer konkaven und einer konvexen Konfiguration zu bewegen;

    wobei der bistabile Schnappmechanismus (50, 150, 250) einen Stamm (56) beinhaltet, der mit der flexiblen Scheibe (54) verbunden ist, wobei der Stamm (56) konfiguriert ist, um sich als Reaktion darauf, dass sich die flexible Scheibe (54) zwischen der konkaven und der konvexen Konfiguration bewegt, entlang einer Achse zwischen der ersten und der zweiten Position (P1, P2) zu bewegen,

    und wobei sich der Stamm (56) von beiden Seiten der flexiblen Scheibe (54) erstreckt, wobei der Stamm (56, 156, 256) auf einer Seite der flexiblen Scheibe (54) das Ausgangselement (18) bereitstellt und auf der anderen Seite der flexiblen Scheibe (54) das Eingangselement (16) bereitstellt oder mit dem Eingangselement (116) verbunden ist oder mit dem Eingangselement (216) kooperiert.


     
    2. Erfassungsvorrichtung nach Anspruch 1, wobei das Eingangselement (16) ferner eine Membran (60) beinhaltet.
     
    3. Erfassungsvorrichtung nach einem vorhergehenden Anspruch, wobei das Eingangselement ferner ein Material (216) mit thermisch variablem Volumen beinhaltet.
     
    4. Erfassungsvorrichtung nach einem vorhergehenden Anspruch, wobei das widerstandsbasierte Erfassungselement eine Wheatstone-Brücke (34) beinhaltet, die den Resistor (28) beinhaltet.
     
    5. Erfassungsvorrichtung nach einem vorhergehenden Anspruch, umfassend ein Gehäuse (12), das den bistabilen Schnappmechanismus (50, 150, 250) und das widerstandsbasierte Erfassungselement (20) stützt.
     
    6. Erfassungsvorrichtung nach Anspruch 5, wobei das widerstandsbasierte Erfassungselement eine Basis (24) beinhaltet, die an dem Gehäuse befestigt ist, und sich das flexible Element (22) von der Basis erstreckt und das Ausgangselement in Eingriff nimmt.
     
    7. Erfassungsvorrichtung nach Anspruch 6, wobei die Basis (24) im Allgemeinen kreisförmig ist und eine Öffnung bereitstellt, wobei sich das flexible Element von der Basis in die Öffnung erstreckt und konfiguriert ist, um sich relativ zu der Basis abzulenken, wobei das widerstandsbasierte Element ein Piezoresistor ist, der an dem flexiblen Element montiert und konfiguriert ist, um basierend auf Ablenkung des flexiblen Elements einen variablen Widerstand bereitzustellen.
     
    8. Erfassungsvorrichtung nach Anspruch 7, wobei das flexible Element (22) eine gegenüberliegende erste und zweite Seite beinhaltet und ein erster und ein zweiter Piezoresistor (28) jeweils auf der ersten und der zweiten Seite montiert sind.
     
    9. Erfassungsvorrichtung nach Anspruch 8, wobei ein dritter und ein vierter Piezoresistor jeweils auf der ersten und der zweiten Seite montiert sind.
     
    10. Erfassungsvorrichtung nach Anspruch 7, 8 oder 9, umfassend eine Wheatstone-Brücke (34), die den Piezoresistor beinhaltet, und ein Gehäuse, das auf der Basis gestützt wird, wobei die Wheatstone-Brücke Verbindungen beinhaltet, die in dem Gehäuse bereitgestellt sind.
     
    11. Erfassungsvorrichtung nach Anspruch 10, wobei Elementleitungen den Piezoresistor und die Wheatstone-Brücke elektrisch verbinden, wobei die Elementleitungen auf der Basis gestützt werden.
     


    Revendications

    1. Dispositif de détection (10) comprenant :

    un mécanisme à encliquetage bistable (50, 150, 250) comportant un élément d'encliquetage (54, 154, 254) relié de manière opérationnelle à un élément d'entrée (16, 116, 216) et à un élément de sortie (18), l'élément d'encliquetage (54, 154, 254) ayant deux positions discrètes qui fournissent l'élément de sortie dans l'une des première et seconde positions (P1, P2) ;

    un élément de détection résistif (20) comportant un élément flexible (22) relié de manière opérationnelle à l'élément de sortie (18) et configuré pour dévier en réponse au mouvement de l'élément de sortie (18) entre les première et seconde positions (P1, P2), une résistance (28) montée sur l'élément flexible (22) et configurée pour fournir une résistance variable sur la base de la détection de l'élément flexible ;

    dans lequel l'élément d'encliquetage (54, 154, 254) comporte un disque flexible (54) configuré pour se déplacer entre des configurations concave et convexe ;

    dans lequel le mécanisme à encliquetage bistable (50, 150, 250) comporte une tige (56) reliée au disque flexible (54), dans lequel la tige (56) est configurée pour se déplacer le long d'un axe entre les première et seconde positions (P1, P2) en réponse au disque flexible (54) se déplaçant entre les configurations concave et convexe,

    et dans lequel la tige (56) s'étend des deux côtés du disque flexible (54), la tige (56, 156, 256) sur un côté du disque flexible (54) fournissant l'élément de sortie (18) et sur l'autre côté du disque flexible (54) fournissant l'élément d'entrée (16) ou étant relié à l'élément d'entrée (116) ou coopérant avec l'élément d'entrée (216).


     
    2. Dispositif de détection selon la revendication 1, dans lequel l'élément d'entrée (16) comporte en outre un diaphragme (60).
     
    3. Dispositif de détection selon une quelconque revendication précédente, dans lequel l'élément d'entrée comporte en outre un matériau (216) avec un volume thermiquement variable.
     
    4. Dispositif de détection selon une quelconque revendication précédente, dans lequel l'élément de détection résistif comporte un pont de Wheatstone (34) qui comporte la résistance (28).
     
    5. Dispositif de détection selon une quelconque revendication précédente, comprenant un boîtier (12) supportant le mécanisme à encliquetage bistable (50, 150, 250) et l'élément de détection résistif (20).
     
    6. Dispositif de détection selon la revendication 5, dans lequel l'élément de détection résistif comporte une base (24) fixée au boîtier et l'élément flexible (22) s'étendant de la base et venant en prise avec l'élément de sortie.
     
    7. Dispositif de détection selon la revendication 6, la base (24) étant généralement circulaire et fournissant une ouverture, l'élément flexible s'étendant de la base dans l'ouverture et étant configuré pour dévier par rapport à la base, l'élément résistif étant une piézorésistance montée sur l'élément flexible et configurée pour fournir une résistance variable sur la base de la déviation de l'élément flexible.
     
    8. Dispositif de détection selon la revendication 7, dans lequel l'élément flexible (22) comporte des premier et second côtés opposés, et des première et deuxième piézorésistances (28) montées respectivement sur les premier et second côtés.
     
    9. Dispositif de détection selon la revendication 8, dans lequel des troisième et quatrième piézorésistances sont montées respectivement sur les premier et second côtés.
     
    10. Dispositif de détection selon la revendication 7, 8 ou 9, comprenant un pont de Wheatstone (34) comportant la piézorésistance, et un boîtier supporté sur la base, le pont de Wheatstone comportant des liaisons fournies dans le boîtier.
     
    11. Dispositif de détection selon la revendication 10, dans lequel les conducteurs relient électriquement la piézorésistance et le pont de Wheatstone, les conducteurs étant supportés sur la base.
     




    Drawing









    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



    This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

    Patent documents cited in the description