(19)
(11)EP 3 277 580 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
09.09.2020 Bulletin 2020/37

(21)Application number: 16774075.2

(22)Date of filing:  30.03.2016
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
B64D 11/02(2006.01)
E03D 11/16(2006.01)
E03F 1/00(2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/US2016/024936
(87)International publication number:
WO 2016/160935 (06.10.2016 Gazette  2016/40)

(54)

APPARATUS FOR CONTROLLING A TOILET SYSTEM

VORRICHTUNG ZUR STEUERUNG EINES TOILETTENSYSTEMS

APPAREIL POUR COMMANDER UN SYSTÈME DE TOILETTES


(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: 30.03.2015 US 201562140260 P

(43)Date of publication of application:
07.02.2018 Bulletin 2018/06

(73)Proprietor: B/E Aerospace, Inc.
Wellington, FL 33414 (US)

(72)Inventors:
  • HOANG, Thao
    Fond Du Lac, WI 54937 (US)
  • BUNIAK, Bradley, J.
    Seattle, WA 98103 (US)
  • NIZNIK, Stephen, M.
    Rockford, IL 61107 (US)
  • PEDERSEN, William
    Waterloo, WI 53594 (US)
  • PONDELICK, Mark, A.
    Rockton, IL 61072 (US)

(74)Representative: Boult Wade Tennant LLP 
Salisbury Square House 8 Salisbury Square
London EC4Y 8AP
London EC4Y 8AP (GB)


(56)References cited: : 
WO-A1-02/06594
US-A- 4 713 847
US-A1- 2001 034 902
US-A1- 2002 069 459
US-A1- 2010 083 435
WO-A1-2012/146632
US-A- 5 035 011
US-A1- 2001 034 902
US-A1- 2010 083 435
US-B2- 7 118 677
  
      
    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

    Cross References to Related Applications


    Field of the Disclosure



    [0001] The present disclosure is relates generally to toilets and, more particularly, an apparatus for controlling a toilet system.

    Background



    [0002] Designing a toilet for an aircraft poses challenges that do not generally occur in ground-based toilet designs. For example, in an aircraft, space and weight are at a premium, and using regular water-flush toilets is not practical. In addition, the toilet system must be compliant with aircraft specifications and must be configurable to interact with aircraft software platforms on different aircraft manufacturers.

    [0003] Examples of existing prior art include:

    WO 02/06594, which relates to a vacuum toilet system for use on a vehicle, including an integrated logic device electronically coupled to an electronics system bus, wherein a collection tank is provided connected to a vacuum generator for creating a partial vacuum in the tank, a toilet is provided having an outlet fluidly communicating through a flush control valve with the collection tank, a rinse nozzle is disposed in a bowl of the toilet and is connected through a rinse valve to a rinse fluid supply, a flush button is positioned near the toilet for initiating a flush command, wherein the flush button, rinse valve, flush control valve, and vacuum generator are operably coupled to the integrated logic device for operating the components;

    WO 2012/146632, which relates to a vacuum toilet unit; US 7,118,677, which relates to the use of so-called gravy water for flushing toilets; US 2001/034902, which relates to a vacuum-operated waste disposal toilet system suitable for use on commercial passenger vehicles; US 2010/083435, which relates to a flush valve for controlling the vacuum evacuation of waste from a receptacle.


    Drawings



    [0004] While the appended claims set forth the features of the present techniques with particularity, these techniques may be best understood from the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings of which:

    FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a toilet configured according to an embodiment.

    FIG. 2 is a rear view of a controller mounted on a toilet configured according to an embodiment.

    FIG. 3 is a rear view of a controller mounted on a toilet system configured according to another embodiment.

    FIG. 4 is an exploded view of a controller pin configuration, according to an embodiment.

    FIG. 5 is a block diagram depicting logic circuitry that may be used in an embodiment.


    Detailed Description



    [0005] The following discussion is directed to various exemplary embodiments. However, one possessing ordinary skill in the art will understand that the examples disclosed herein have broad application, and that the discussion of any embodiment is meant only be exemplary of that embodiment, and not intended to suggest that the scope of the disclosure, including claims, is limited to that embodiment. The invention is defined by the appended claims.

    [0006] Certain terms are used throughout the following description to refer to particular features or components. As one skilled in the art will appreciate, different persons may refer to the same feature or component by different names. This document does not intend to distinguish between components or features that differ in name but not function. The drawing figures are not necessarily to scale. Certain features and components herein may be shown exaggerated in scale or in somewhat schematic form and some details of conventional elements may not be shown in interest of clarity and conciseness.

    [0007] The disclosure is generally directed to a toilet system for use on an aircraft. According to the invention, the toilet system is configured for operation on-board an aircraft and includes a toilet bowl, a left side support bracket supporting the toilet bowl, a right side support bracket supporting the toilet bowl, a control box including a first set of pins, and a harness connector configured to electrically couple the control box to the aircraft. The harness connector includes a set of pins, where the first set of pins of the control box are configured to be connected to the set of pins included in the harness connector, and the control box is configured to determine a platform of the aircraft (e.g., which vendor's software platform is being used or which "brand" of software platform is being used) based on the presence or absence of a pin in the set of pins included in the harness connector.

    [0008] The term "logic circuitry" as used herein means a circuit (a type of electronic hardware) designed to perform complex functions defined in terms of mathematical logic. Examples of logic circuitry include a microprocessor, a controller, an application-specific integrated circuit, and a field-programmable gate array.

    [0009] Turning to FIG. 1, a toilet configured according to an embodiment is shown. The toilet, generally labelled 100, is configured to be deployed on an aircraft, and may be housed within an external housing (not shown). The toilet 100 includes a bowl 102 attached to a frame 104. The toilet 100 also includes a motor 108 attached to the frame 104. The motor 108 drives a mechanical actuator to open or close a door to a waste outlet. The toilet 100 further includes side support brackets 119L and 119R. According to an embodiment, the left side support bracket 119L is identical to the right side support bracket 119R. One skilled in the art will understand that the left side support bracket 119L and the right side support bracket 119R may not be identical in other embodiments. According to an embodiment, the side support brackets 119L and 119R each include a respective cut-out portion 120L and 120R. FIGS. 2 and 3 show rear views of a toilet system having a control box 118 mounted on the side support brackets 119L and 119R respectively.

    [0010] Turning now to FIGS. 2 and 3, the toilet 100 further includes a control box 118 attached to the frame 104. The control box 118 contains logic circuitry 502 (discussed later with reference to FIG. 5) that controls the operation of the toilet 100. FIG. 2 depicts an embodiment of the toilet 100 in which the control box 118 is mounted on the left side support bracket 119L. FIG. 3 depicts another embodiment of the toilet 100 in which the control box 118 is mounted on the right side support bracket 119R. Although depicted on the left side support bracket 119L and the right side support bracket 119R according to the embodiments above, the control box 118 may be attached to the frame 104 at other locations.

    [0011] A cable 116 is attached to the control box 118 and to the motor 108. The cable 116 provides a transmission medium for electrical signals to travel from the control box 118 to the motor 108 (e.g., power and data) and for electrical signals to travel from the motor 108 to the control box 118 (e.g., data). For example, the logic circuitry in the control box 118 can transmit control signals to the motor 108 by way of the cable 116, and the motor 108 can transmit position signals to the logic circuitry by way of the cable 116. During operation, the door to the waste outlet is normally closed. When the logic circuitry in the control box 118 receives an activation signal (e.g., a signal generated by a "flush" button on the toilet 100), the logic circuitry sends a control signal to the motor 108 to open the door to the waste outlet. A pressure difference between the air in the waste pipe 106 and the air around the outside of the toilet 100 creates a suction at the waste outlet, which draws the waste from inside the bowl 102 out of the waste outlet. After a predetermined period of time, the motor 108 drives the mechanical actuator to close the door.

    [0012] A cable 117 is also attached to the control box 118 and connects to the aircraft. The cable 117 provides a transmission medium for electrical signal to travel from the control box 118 to the aircraft (e.g., data) and for electrical signals to travel from the aircraft to the control box 118 (e.g., power and data). For instance, the logic circuitry in the control box 118 can transmit a flush count, total number of hours of operation of the toilet 100, and a flush valve time to open/close to enable the aircraft to perform maintenance diagnostics. According to an embodiment, the control box 118 is mounted on one of the left side support bracket 119L and the right side support bracket 119R, and the cable 117 is configured to be disposed in a respective cut out portion 119L and 119R of the other of the left side support bracket 119L and the right side support bracket 119R.

    [0013] Turning to FIG. 4, in an embodiment, the control box 118 includes a casing 302, a first set of pins 3101...310M, and a second set of pins 3121...312N. In an embodiment, the casing 302 is environmentally sealed and constructed from Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) resistant engineered polymer. In an embodiment, the casing 302 is formed of a nickel-impregnated polyethyleneimine (PEI) housing to provide electromagnetic compatibility mitigation.

    [0014] During operation, the pins first set of pins 3101...310M are connected to the aircraft via a harness connector and the second set of pins 3121...312N are connected to the motor 108. In an embodiment, the control box 118 determines the aircraft specifications based on the presence or absence of a particular pin in the harness connector connecting the control box 118 to the aircraft.

    [0015] For instance, in an embodiment, the control box 118 includes a first set of pins 3101...310M, where M = 10. If, for example, the harness connector includes 10 pins that correspond to the first set of pins 3101...31010 in the control box 118, the control box 118 may receive aircraft configuration information via the harness connector and determine that the aircraft includes a software platform of a first aircraft manufacturer and operate the toilet 100 accordingly. If, for example in another embodiment, the harness connector includes 9 pins that correspond to the first set of pins 3101...3109 in the control box 118, the control box 118 may receive aircraft configuration information via the harness connector and determine that the aircraft includes a software platform of a second aircraft manufacturer and operate the toilet 100 accordingly. Of course, a person skilled in the art will understand that any number of pins may be provided in the first set of pins 3101...310M of the control box 118. Moreover, a person skilled in the art will understand that the harness connector may include any number of pins as determined by the configuration information of the respective aircraft platform and is not limited to the example discussed above.

    [0016] Turning to FIG. 5, in an embodiment, the control box 118 includes logic circuitry 502 that generally controls the operation of the toilet 100. The logic circuitry 502 of the control box 118 is configured to determine the platform of the aircraft on which the toilet 100 is installed based on the pin configuration of the first set of pins 3101...310M. The control box 118 is configured to provide a transmission medium for electrical signal to travel from the toilet 100 to the aircraft (e.g., data) and for electrical signals to travel from the aircraft to the toilet 100 (e.g., power and data). For instance, the logic circuitry 502 in the control box 118 can transmit a flush count, total number of hours of operation of the toilet 100, and a flush valve time to open/close to enable the aircraft to perform maintenance diagnostics. One skilled in the art will understand that additional information may be shared between the toilet 100 and the aircraft via the control box 118. For instance, in an exemplary implementation, the control box 118 may communicate any failure issues (e.g., clogs, power loss, motor failure, etc.) to the aircraft.

    [0017] By way of example, in an embodiment, the motor 108 includes logic circuitry that controls the operation of the motor 108. The logic circuitry 502 communicates with logic circuitry 504 of the motor 108. In an embodiment, when the logic circuitry 502 of the toilet 100 carries out a start-up operation (e.g., upon power-up of the toilet 100), the logic circuitry 502 transmits, to the logic circuitry 504 of the motor 108, a command to put the motor 108 in a zero position. In order to reach the zero position, the logic circuitry 504 causes the rotor 206 to rotate in the appropriate direction and for the appropriate number of revolutions in order to move the door 302 to a predetermined position, such as fully open or fully closed.

    [0018] A feature of the control box 118 in accordance with the embodiments discussed above is that a common circuit board hardware and software (implementing logic circuitry 502) may be used in conjunction with platforms of various aircraft manufacturers. Additional features of the control box 118 in accordance with the embodiments discussed above will be readily apparent to one skilled in the art.

    [0019] For the purposes of promoting an understanding of the principles of the disclosure, reference has been made to the embodiments illustrated in the drawings, and specific language has been used to describe these embodiments. However, no limitation of the scope of the disclosure is intended by this specific language, and the disclosure should be construed to encompass all embodiments that would normally occur to one of ordinary skill in the art.

    [0020] The particular implementations shown and described herein are illustrative examples and are not intended to otherwise limit the scope of the disclosure in any way. For the sake of brevity, conventional electronics, control systems, software development and other functional aspects of the systems (and components of the individual operating components of the systems) may not be described in detail.

    [0021] It will also be recognized that the terms "comprises," "comprising," "includes," "including," "has," and "having," as used herein, are specifically intended to be read as openended terms of art. The use of the terms "a" and "an" and "the" and similar referents in the context of describing the invention (especially in the context of the following claims) are to be construed to cover both the singular and the plural, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise. In addition, it should be understood that although the terms "first," "second," etc. may be used herein to describe various elements, these elements should not be limited by these terms, which are only used to distinguish one element from another.


    Claims

    1. A toilet system configured for operation on-board an aircraft comprising:

    a toilet bowl (102);

    a left side support bracket (119L) supporting the toilet bowl (102);

    a right side support bracket (119R) supporting the toilet bowl (102);

    a control box (118) including a first set of pins (310,...310M); and

    a harness connector configured to electrically couple the control box (118) to the aircraft, the harness connector including a set of pins; wherein

    the first set of pins (3101...310M) of the control box (118) are configured to be connected to the set of pins included in the harness connector; and

    the control box (118) is configured to determine a platform of the aircraft based on the presence or absence of a pin in the set of pins included in the harness connector.


     
    2. The toilet system according to claim 1, wherein
    the left side support bracket (119L) and the right side support bracket (119R) each contain a respective cut-out portion (120L and 120R).
     
    3. The toilet system according to claim 2, wherein
    the control box (118) is mounted on one of the left side support bracket (119L) and the right side support bracket (119R), and
    the harness connector is disposed within the cut out portion (120L and 120R) of the other of the left side support bracket (119L) and the right side support bracket (119R).
     
    4. The toilet system according to claim 1, further comprising
    a motor (108) configured to control a door to a waste outlet of the toilet bowl (102); wherein the control box (118) includes a second set of pins (3121...312N) configured to electrically control the motor (108) via a cable (116).
     
    5. The toilet system according to claim 2, wherein the left side support bracket (119L) is identical to the right side support bracket (119R).
     
    6. The toilet system according to claim 1, wherein the control box (118) is configured to transmit at least one of a flush count, a total number of operational hours, and flush valve time to open/close, to the aircraft via the harness connector.
     
    7. The toilet system according to claim 1, wherein the control box (118) is disposed in a casing (302).
     
    8. The toilet system according to claim 7, wherein the casing (302) is formed of an electromagnetic interference resistant engineered polymer.
     
    9. The toilet system according to claim 7, wherein the casing (302) is formed of a nickel-impregnated polyethyleneimine (PEI) housing.
     
    10. The toilet system according to claim 1, wherein the control box (118) is configured to provide at least one of diagnostic and fault information to the aircraft.
     
    11. The toilet system according to claim 3, wherein the control box (118) is mounted on one of the left side support bracket (119L) and the right side support bracket (119R) via a plurality of screws.
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Toilettensystem, das zum Betrieb an Bord eines Flugzeugs ausgelegt ist, umfassend:

    eine Toilettenschüssel (102);

    eine linksseitige Halteklammer (119L), die die Toilettenschüssel (102) trägt;

    eine rechtsseitige Halteklammer (119R), die die Toilettenschüssel (102) trägt;

    einen Steuerkasten (118) einschließlich eines ersten Satzes von Stiften (3101...310M);

    und

    einen Kabelbaumverbinder, der zur elektrischen Kopplung des Steuerkastens (118) mit dem Flugzeug ausgelegt ist, wobei der Kabelbaumverbinder einen Satz von Stiften einschließt; wobei

    der erste Satz von Stiften (3101...310M) des Steuerkastens (118) zur Verbindung mit dem in dem Kabelbaum-Steckverbinder eingeschlossenen Satz von Stiften ausgelegt ist; und

    der Steuerkasten (118) zur Bestimmung einer Plattform des Flugzeugs auf Basis des Vorliegens oder Fehlens eines Stifts in dem in dem Kabelbaumverbinder eingeschlossenen Satz von Stiften ausgelegt ist.


     
    2. Toilettensystem nach Anspruch 1, wobei
    die linksseitige Halteklammer (119L) und die rechtsseitige Halteklammer (119R) jeweils einen entsprechenden ausgeschnittenen Abschnitt (120L und 120R) enthalten.
     
    3. Toilettensystem nach Anspruch 2, wobei
    der Steuerkasten (118) an einer der linksseitigen Halteklammer (119L) und der rechtsseitigen Halteklammer (119R) befestigt ist, und
    der Kabelbaumverbinder innerhalb des ausgeschnittenen Abschnitts (120L und 120R) der anderen der linksseitigen Halteklammer (119L) und der rechtsseitigen Halteklammer (119R) angeordnet ist.
     
    4. Toilettensystem nach Anspruch 1 ferner umfassend
    einen Motor (108), der zur Steuerung einer Tür zu einem Abfallauslass der Toilettenschüssel (102) ausgelegt ist; wobei
    der Steuerkasten (118) einen zweiten Satz von Stiften (3121...312N) einschließt, der zur elektrischen Steuerung des Motors (108) über ein Kabel (116) ausgelegt ist.
     
    5. Toilettensystem nach Anspruch 2, wobei die linksseitige Halteklammer (119L) identisch mit der rechtsseitigen Halteklammer (119R) ist.
     
    6. Toilettensystem nach Anspruch 1, wobei der Steuerkasten (118) zur Übertragung an das Flugzeug über den Kabelbaum-Steckverbinder von mindestens einem von einer Spülungsregistrierung, einer Gesamtanzahl von Betriebsstunden und Spülungsventilzeit zum Öffnen/Schließen ausgelegt ist.
     
    7. Toilettensystem nach Anspruch 1, wobei der Steuerkasten (118) in einem Gehäuse (302) angeordnet ist.
     
    8. Toilettensystem nach Anspruch 7, wobei das Gehäuse (302) aus einem gegen elektromagnetische Interferenzen resistenten technischen Polymer gebildet ist.
     
    9. Toilettensystem nach Anspruch 7, wobei das Gehäuse (302) aus einem Nickelimprägnierten Polyethylenimin (PEI)-Gehäuse gebildet ist.
     
    10. Toilettensystem nach Anspruch 1, wobei der Steuerkasten (118) zur Versorgung des Flugzeugs mit Diagnose- und/oder Fehlerinformationen ausgelegt ist.
     
    11. Toilettensystem nach Anspruch 3, wobei der Steuerkasten (118) über eine Vielzahl von Schrauben an einer der linksseitigen Halteklammer (119L) und der rechtsseitigen Halteklammer (119R) befestigt ist.
     


    Revendications

    1. Système de toilette configuré pour fonctionner à bord d'un aéronef comprenant :

    une cuvette de toilette (102) ;

    une ferrure de support côté gauche (119L) supportant la cuvette de toilette (102) ;

    une ferrure de support côté droit (119R) supportant la cuvette de toilette (102) ;

    une boîte de commande (118) comportant un premier ensemble de broches (3101...310M) ; et

    un connecteur de faisceau configuré pour coupler électriquement la boîte de commande (118) à l'aéronef, le connecteur de faisceau comportant un ensemble de broches ; où

    le premier ensemble de broches (3101...310M) de la boîte de commande (118) est configuré pour être relié à l'ensemble de broches inclus dans le connecteur de faisceau ; et

    la boîte de commande (118) est configurée pour déterminer une plate-forme de l'aéronef sur la base de la présence ou l'absence d'une broche dans l'ensemble de broches inclus dans le connecteur de faisceau.


     
    2. Système de toilette selon la revendication 1, dans lequel
    la ferrure de support côté gauche (119L) et la ferrure de support côté droit (119R) contiennent chacune une partie découpée respective (120L et 120R).
     
    3. Système de toilette selon la revendication 2, dans lequel
    la boîte de commande (118) est montée sur l'une de la ferrure de support côté gauche (119L) et de la ferrure de support côté droit (119R), et
    le connecteur de faisceau est disposé dans la partie découpée (120L et 120R) de l'autre de la ferrure de support côté gauche (119L) et de la ferrure de support côté droit (119R) .
     
    4. Système de toilette selon la revendication 1, comprenant en outre
    un moteur (108) configuré pour commander une porte vers une sortie de déchets de la cuvette de toilette (102) ; où la boîte de commande (118) comporte un deuxième ensemble de broches (3121...312N) configuré pour commander électriquement le moteur (108) par l'intermédiaire d'un câble (116).
     
    5. Système de toilette selon la revendication 2, dans lequel la ferrure de support côté gauche (119L) est identique à la ferrure de support côté droit (119R).
     
    6. Système de toilette selon la revendication 1, dans lequel la boîte de commande (118) est configurée pour transmettre au moins l'un d'un nombre d'actionnements de la chasse d'eau, d'un nombre total d'heures de fonctionnement, et d'un temps d'ouverture/fermeture du robinet de chasse d'eau, à l'aéronef par l'intermédiaire du connecteur de faisceau.
     
    7. Système de toilette selon la revendication 1, dans lequel la boîte de commande (118) est disposée dans un boîtier (302).
     
    8. Système de toilette selon la revendication 7, dans lequel le boîtier (302) est formé d'un polymère technique résistant aux interférences électromagnétiques.
     
    9. Système de toilette selon la revendication 7, dans lequel le boîtier (302) est formé d'un logement en polyéthylèneimine (PEI) imprégné de nickel.
     
    10. Système de toilette selon la revendication 1, dans lequel la boîte de commande (118) est configurée pour fournir au moins l'une des informations de diagnostic et de défaillance à l'aéronef.
     
    11. Système de toilette selon la revendication 3, dans lequel la boîte de commande (118) est montée sur l'une de la ferrure de support côté gauche (119L) et de la ferrure de support côté droit (119R) par l'intermédiaire d'une pluralité de vis.
     




    Drawing














    Cited references

    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