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1. WO1981001047 - VEHICLE WHEEL ALIGNMENT APPARATUS

Note: Text based on automatic Optical Character Recognition processes. Please use the PDF version for legal matters

[ EN ]

VEHICLE WHEEL ALIGNMENT APPARATUS

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The 'ideal geometric configuration of a four- wheel vehicle is a rectangle in which: the steerable wheels will run parallel with each other and are equidistant from the center of the connecting axle or its equivalent; in which the non-steerable wheels will run parallel with each other and are equidistant from the center of the connecting axle or its equivalent; in which the non-steerable wheels either track with the steerable wheels or are equally offset from the steerable wheel- tracks; and in which the vehicle body has its longitudinal geometric center line coincident with the longitudinal center line for the steerable and non-steerable wheels.
The practical and eco"nomic considerations "" involved in the production of wheeled vehicles take into account the complications in connection with manufacturing tolerances present in the various parts and the possibility that tolerance mismatch- ing can build up variations' from the ideal geometric configuration. As a consequence of the possible mismatching of tolerances in the parts making up a finished vehicle, provision is made for mechanically adjusting wheel positions relative to the chassis or body of a vehicle. In some vehicles, all adjustments are found in the steerable wheel assemblies, _ while in others, the adjustments are provided in both the steerable and non-steerable wheel assemblies. Generally, vehicles are permitted to have some deviations from the ideal conditions of wheel alignment and wheel-to-body alignment. As long as the deviations are not regarded as serious, the
vehicle is put into use.
Wheel alignment apparatus has been disclosed by Manlove 3,181,284 of May 4, 1965 in relation to the steerable and non-steerable wheels of a vehicle.
The objective of this disclosure is limited to
mechanical apparatus in which mounting members are connected to the rim of the vehicle wheels without being compensated for run-out or for mechanical
variations in the shape of the wheel rims , and in
which wheel alignment measurements are made from
positions representing the true alignment measuring positions. Vehicle wheel alignment apparatus of
the electronic type is disclosed by Florer in
4,095,902 of June 20, 1978, by Lill in 4,097,157 of
June 27, 1978, and by Senften in 4,126,943 of
November 28, 1978.
in connection with the hereinafter-to-be-described wheel compensating -means , advantage is _^ taken of the run-out compensator method disclosed
in Senften 3,892,042 of July 1, 1975.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates to improvements in
vehicle wheel alignment apparatus , and is particularly concerned with the application of instrumentation mounted on the steerable and non-steerable wheel sets so that greatly improved alignment data may be found.
It is a further object of the present inven-tion to dispose the active instruments on the various vehicle wheels by mounting means located in the most advantageous position so as to substantially

01*1
:, V.'IF nullify the physical inaccuracies in forming the wheel rims and the components of the instruments to improve the accuracy of alignment results.
It is an additional object of the present invention to provide, in addition to compensating the instruments for normal wheel run-out, location of the instruments in positions so as to be substantially independent of any deviation of the wheel from the true plane of wheel rotation, whereby mechanical tolerances in wheel as well as in instrumentation components can be accounted for without substantial interference in the alignment measuring results.
A preferred embodiment comprises alignment instruments carried by the vehicle wheels in position to be compensated for wheel run-out, and to be operative for measuring alignment angles of the steerable wheels from the non-steerable wheels, for measuring the alignment angles of the non-steerable wheels from the steerable wheels, and for measuring the alignment angles of the steerable wheels from each other in relation to a vehicle reference.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The present invention is illustrated in a presently preferred form in the accompanying drawings, wherein:
Fig. 1 is a side elevational view of steerable and non-steerable wheels related to a typical vehicle shown in silhouette;
Fig. 2 is a diagrammatic plan view of a representative alignment pattern for the wheels of - the vehicle seen in Fig. 1;
Fig. 3 is a diagrammatic view of a vehicle wheel and cooperating alignment instrumentation to illustrate the negligible effect of mechanical variations in the structure;
Fig. 3B is a side elevational view taken along line 3B-3B in Fig. 3A;
Fig. 4 is a diagrammatic layout of the vehicle wheels for the purpose of illustrating the measurement of the angles of the respective wheels relative to a geometric center line;
Fig. 5 is a fragmentary front view on an enlarged scale of a typical electro-optic transducer to illustrate the organization of components without particular regard to the details of the housing;
Fig. 6 is a further view of the transducer components as seen along the line 6-6 in Fig. 5;
Fig. 7 is still another view of the transducer components as seen along the line 7-7 in Fig.

5;
Fig. 8 is a block diagram of the electronic circuitry in which one typical emitter-detector transducer combination has been shown in association with signal computation means-, and
Figs. 9A and 9B are diagrams of the transducer components and their effects on the optical path of the radiant energy beam projected from an emitter.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENT
Reference will now be directed to the drawings for a more complete understanding of the intent and scope of the invention presented in terms of an embodiment presently preferred. The view of Fig. 1 is of a passenger vehicle 14 which will serve to illustrate the utility of the presently preferred embodiment of the invention. As seen from the left side, the left steerable wheel 15L is shown in association with one form of an instrument support 16 adapted to grip the flange of the wheel rim.
The support 16 carries a pivotal housing 17, the axis of which is substantially centerable to the spindle axis (not shown) on which the wheel 15L rotates. A bracket 18 is hung from the housing 17 so it may as'sume a substantially vertical position even though the wheel 15L is jacked up so it may rotate. At times, with the wheel 15L resting on its support, it may be desirable to secure the bracket 18 against pendulus movement by tightening up on a knob 19 (Fig. 2). The bracket 18, in addition to the housing 17, carries a support arm 20 which extends forwardly of the housing 18 to clear the tread of wheel 15L and be in position so that its end portion may be used for supporting an instrument device 21L. The support arm 20, or some associated part of the assembly, is usually pro-vided with a spirit level (not shown) for purposes of locating the arm in substantially horizontal position, which position is retained by tightening up on the knob 19.
Fig. 1 shows the vehicle non-steerable wheel 22L to be provided with an instrument support 16 which is identical to the support attached to the steerable wheel 15L. The several parts are designated by similar reference numerals and need not be described again. It is particularly important to observe that the support 16 at the left steerable wheel 15L carries an instrument 23L and the support 16 for the left non-steerable wheel 22L carries a companion instrument 24L. These ins rumen s 23L and 24L are made up of cooperating components which are intended to function with each other in a manner set forth in the contemporaneously filed copending patent application of James M. Grossman et al., Serial No.
080,274, filed October 1, 1979, and entitled VEHICLE WHEEL ALIGNMENT APPARATUS.
Fig. 2 shows a schematic plan view of all vehicle wheels, such as those at the left side seen in Fig. 1, and companion right side wheels 15R and
22R. The wheels at the left side are distinguished by adding the suffix "L", and those at the right side are distinguished by the suffix "R". However, each wheel 15R and 22R is provided with an instrument
support 16 having the construction generally described above. Also, the support 16 on steerable wheel 15R has a support arm 20 which carries an instrument 21R to cooperate with the left side instrument 21L. In addition, the support 16 at the non-steerable wheel 22R carries an instrument 24R to cooperate with an instrument 23R carried by the support 16 at the steerable wheel 15R. These instruments 21L and 21R, as well as instruments 23R and 24R, cooperate with each other and are made up of components operating in a-manner described in the said Grossman et al. patent application.
In view of Fig. 2, the instruments 21L and
23L are operatively connected into a console assembly 25 by a lead 26L, and the transducer instruments 21R and 23R are similarly connected by a lead 26R to the console 25. In like manner, the instruments 24L and 24R are connected respectively by leads 27L and 27R into console 25. Signal processing and alignment computation are performed in the console 25 and the results can be displayed by means indicated
collectively at 28. More particularly in Fig. 2, the instruments 21L and 21R cooperate with each
other in the process of measuring the angles LWT

'- /, IFO (left wheel toe) and RWT (right wheel toe) . For
that purpose, instrument 21L has radiant energy
detector means which is responsive to a source of
radiant energy from instrument 21R, and instrument
21R has radiant energy detector means responsive to a source of radiant energy from instrument 21L. The essence of this cooperation is that projectors of
radiant energy are disposed to direct beams in crisscross paths transversely of the vehicle, and which paths have boundaries within the field of vision of the detector means arranged to look at the position from which the beam is projected.
In a like manner, it is indicated in Fig. 2 that instruments 23L and 24L, each containing radiant energy beam projectors and radiant energy detectors, cooperate with each other in the process of measuring the respective angles relative to *a vehicle reference axis 30 which is established by a line joining the center points of the axles 31 and 32, which center points are centered between the spacing of the wheel sets 15L and 15R, and 22L and 22R.. The angle LFW-is formed between the axle 31 and the longitudinal line- of-sight L of the radiant energy beam from the instrument 24L at wheel 22L. The angle LRW is formed
between the axle 32 and the longitudinal line-of- sight L of the radiant energy beam from the instrument 23L at wheel 15L. Similarly, the instruments
23R and 24R cooperate with each other for measuring the angles RFW and RRW by the criss-crossing of the radiant energy beams depicted by the dash line R
representing the longitudinal line-of-sight between the detector means in the instruments 23R and 24R.
__ In the example seen in Fig. 2, the wheels 15L and
15R have planes of rotation PR which are substantially perpendicular to the axle 31, while the planes of

o: Pi
V rotation PR for wheels 15L and 15R. However, it is shown in Fig. 2 that the tread spacing for wheels
22L and 22R is greater than for the tread spacing
of the wheels 15L and 15R. In addition, wheel 22L is toed out relative to the reference axis 30 while wheel 22R is toed in relative to the same axis 30.
The angular positions for the respective wheels 15L, 15R, 22L and 22R are arbitrary for purposes of
illustrating the unique advantages of having active instruments at each wheel for measuring wheel position angles from each other and relative to the
reference axis 30 for the vehicle.

The Transducers
Turning now to Figs . 5, 6 and 7 , there has been shown in some diagrammatic detail a typical
transducer instrument, such as the- one designated
at 21R in Fig. 2. It is to be understood that all of the transducer instruments 21L, 23L, 24L and 21R, 23R and 24R are substantially the same. Thus, the instrument 21R-has a panel 3 formed with an aper- ture 35 used to control the radiant energy beam.
The aperture 35 may be produced photographically as a transparent area in an opaque material, or the
aperture may be an opening in a sheet of solid
material. At a suitable distance behind the aperture 35, there are mounted a pair of photodiodes 36 and
37. The width of the aperture 35 is substantially equal to the width of the face of either one of
these photodiodes, and it is centered so that, in a null position with radiant energy impinging at 90° to the plane of panel 34, the exposure of each photo-- diode to the radiant energy should be substantially equal. The photodiodes are carried by a printed

^RE
O P IP circuit board PC which also carries preamplifiers
for converting the photodiode output current into
voltage, and the operative electronic components
associated with radiant energy emitter means 38
which illuminate a cooperative transducer instrument attached to an adjacent wheel. The photodiodes 36 and 37 are illuminated by the radiant
energy emitter means of that cooperative transducer
instrument.
Fig. 8 is a schematic block diagram of a
typical electronic transducer instrument composed
of signal conditioning means 39 connected to an
emitter 38. The radiant energy beam generated by
the emitter 38 is directed at detector means in
another instrument spaced therefrom where such other
instrument has a pair of detectors 36 and 37 located
behind a window 35 in an opaque mask 34. The detectors may be photodiodes having preamplifier means
41 and 42 for converting the current generated in
the photodiodes into voltage. These voltage signals
are processed in conditioning means 43 to produce-,
output signal A from detector means 41 and output
signal B from detector means 42, which serves the
purpose of electronically filtering the detector
amplifier signals to isolate the emitter signals
and eliminate interference due to noise and ambient
light. The filters are matched to the characteristics of the emitter signals, which may be square
wave or sine wave at audio frequency (10 KHz for
example) so that the detector signals are conditioned by bandpass filters whose center frequency
matches the emitter signal. In order to obtain
angular information, the detector signals from the
preamplifiers 41 and 42 and means 43 must be pro-cessed in separate circuits (or in time shared
circuit means) in signal computer means 44 so as to
be able to produce results which can be displayed.
O Λ?I
IPO When optical filter means 45 is employed, it is positioned over the aperture 35 and is selected to have transmission characteristics which maximizes all other light.
Reference will now be directed to Figs . 9A and 9B to present a full description of the interaction of the component parts of the transducer. The boundary of the portion of the radiant energy beam from emitter 38 falling through aperture 35 is shown by the dashed lines 38A and 38B. The center of the beam is denoted the line-of-sight LS . In Fig. 9A, the line-of-sight LS is coincident with the normal axis of the aperture 35. This is the null position in which equal amounts of energy fall on detectors 36 and 37. In Fig. 9B, the detector and aperture assembly, and hence the normal axis NA, is rotated from the line-of-sight LS . As seen in the drawing, the effect of the aperture 35 is to bound the energy beam such that more light now falls on detector 36 than on detector 37. The electronic current flowing in each detector is propor- _.: tional to the amount of light incident upon it. The detector signal conditioning means 43 of Fig. 8 must measure these currents and convert them to a DC voltage suitable for signal computation.
A further unique feature of the present embodiment is the way the measuring instruments are mounted on or supported by the vehicle wheels . The views of Figs. 3A and 3B will serve to show that mechanical run-out present in the wheel, as well as tolerances present in the wheel and instrument, does not materially affect the operation of the instruments 21R and 23R. It is assumed in this case that the instrument 23R is provided with run-out co pen- sation means of the type disclosed in Senften patent 3,892,042 (supra) so that the instrument has ob--tained for its electronic memory the data developed by rotating the wheel 15R from a starting position to a position at 180° of rotation displaced from the start, and computing the average of any run-out disturbance generated in that change of position. For example in Fig. 3A, the instrument 23R has an ideal position on the axis X-X of wheel rotation. However, the components may have mechanical deviations or physical irregularities from a perfectly formed system, in which case the instrument might be located off the axis X-X to the extent of the angle D. Since the irregularities or deviations are local to the wheel 15R, the path along which the instrument may be positioned is the arc C. The chordal portion of the arc C joining "the possible extremes of the angle D is substantially a straight line that essentially coincides with the compensated plane of rotation of wheel 15R. The mechanical deviation or physical irregularities. hich may be present in any vehicle-wheel and also present in an instrument attached thereto include production tolerances in the components , misshaped wheels, and similar departures from an ideal mechanical assembly. While each instrument 23L, 23R, 24L and 24R embodies the
electronic means disclosed in Fig. 5 of Senften patent 3,892,042 to compensate for wheel wobble to find the plane of wheel rotation, it also embodies the means of Fig. 8 herein, or it may embody means of the character seen in Senften 4,126,943.
In the views of Figs. 3A and 3B, it can be seen that the instrument 21R is carried on a support 20 which is directly related with the instrument 23R. Assuming that the support 20 is related at 90° to the axis X-X for the wheel 15R, it must follow that the angle D of deviation of the instrument 23R, as above-outlined, will also be the same angle D of deviation for instrument 21R. Both instruments
21R and 23R are seen to assume positions along a substantially straight line or chord of the arc C and C-l, which positions are dictated by the
presence of 'mechanical run out in the system. Each instrument embodies radiant energy emitter means and radiant energy detector means sensitive to received radiant energy, but the possible amount of deviation of the line-of-sight is insignificant and can be disregarded.
Fig. 4 is a diagrammatic view of the wheels 15L, 15R, 22L and 22R of the vehicle 14 of Figs. 1 and 2, but in this view, the wheels have been intentionally misaligned to illustrate -the geometry of wheel alignment investigation using the foregoing principle instrumentation. The instruments are generally shown and designated by the reference characters appearing in Fig. 2, and the alignment -is calculated with reference to a geometric center line 30 (Figs. 2 and 9) of the vehicle. It is necessary to understand that there is a line-of-sight T
between the instruments 21L and 21R which represents the radiant energy beam path from the respective instruments 21L and 21R. The line-of-sight may not be the center of the beam, but the beam has a
sufficient spread or fan to be seen by the opposing beam sensors. Normally the wheels will not be so far out of alignment as is depicted in Fig. 4 that the beam will not be seen. In like manner, there is a line-of-sight L between the instruments 23L and 24L representing the radiant energy beam path from the respective instruments 23L and 24L. The line-of- sight R between the instruments 23R and 24R depicts the path of the radiant energy beams from those respective instruments. There are construction lines on the drawing of Fig. 4 to assist in visualizing the angles to be investigated, such as the dash lines which are parallel to the geometric center line 30, and act as a reference for the angles. It is herein-assumed that all measured angles have been compensated electronically for wheel run-out, as disclosed in the Senften patent 3,892,042 to eliminate from the following description need to complicate the calculations.
The angles indicated in Fig. 4 are shown in tabular form with reference to the position of the beam projectors, and beam sensors used to determine those angles.

Projector Location Sensor Location Measured Angle Right fron toe arm Left front toe arm Left cross LC Left front toe arm Right front toe arm Right cross RC Left rear wheel Left front wheel Left front longitudinal LF "

Right rear wheel Right front wheel Right front longitudinal RF

Left front wheel Left rear wheel Left rear longitudinal LR

Right fron wheel Right rear wheel Right rear longitudinal RR

The signal information about the angles LC, RC, LF and RF is produced in the respective instruments (see Fig. 8) and the results are fed into the alignment computer 25 where the following computations relative to the geometric reference line 30 are worked out for the several angles pertinent to the alignment determination, as follows:

The angles computed The computation
LFT (left front toe) 1/2 (LC + RC + LF - RF) RFT (right front toe) 1/2 (LC + RC - LF + RF) TFT (total front toe) LFT + RFT » LC + RC
SB (set back) 1/2(RC-LC + LF-RF)
LRT (left rear toe) LFT-LF + LR = 1/2 (LC +
RC-LF - RF)+LR
RRT (right rear toe) RFT-RF + RR = 1/2 (LC +
RC-LF - RF)+RR
TRT (total rear toe) LRT + RRT = LC + RC-LF- RF + LR + RR
TL (thrust line) 1/2 (LRT - RRT) = 1/2 (LR
- RR)
LFTTH (left front toe LFT - TL
relative to thrust
line)
RFTTH (right front toe RFT + TL
relative to thrust
line)

After the computation has been made, it is in a form suitable for driving the display 28. The display may be a group of meters (not shown) for showing the values of the computed angles identified in the left column above. It is usual in the makeup of display 28 to provide meters and circuit selectors for connecting the meters selectively to display left, right and total toe for the steerable wheels, or left, right and total toe for the non-steerable wheels, or wheel set back, or the relationship of steerable wheel toe relative to the thrust line for the non-steerable wheels.
In view of the foregoing disclosure, it is apparent that the present apparatus has certain unique characteristics which are adapted to produce ~ ore accurate vehicle wheel alignment information by means which enables an alignment service shop to determine quickly and easily the respective angular relationships of the individual wheels of a vehicle with respect to a vehicle reference line. A unique feature resides in the way that the instruments are mounted on the respective wheels so that signals representative of the individual wheel positions are generated directly and can be fed into a remote computer sonsole for computation and display. In the mounting of the instruments at each of the vehicle wheels, a support is selected for the instrument to place it in a position such that the instrument will be substantially independent of any mechanical irregularities of the character above defined. This latter feature is disclosed in Figs. 3A and 3B where it has been disclosed that mechanical irregularities might result in positioning the instrument 23R at any place along the path of arc C ,- and regardless of the precise position along this arc, the emitter and detector means will not be displaced to any signifi-cant degree since there is extremely slight shifting of the position away from the arcuate path C. In -. like manner, with respect to the instrument carried by the front support arm, instrument 21R on the support 20 would be insignificantly displaced since the emitter and sensor would be moving in the arcuate path C-l which has only slight lateral displacement of an amount that can be ignored.
The present disclosure has set forth a unique arrangement for vehicle wheel alignment apparatus which will produce greatly improved accuracy in determining the position of the respective vehicle wheels relative to a vehicle reference line, which in connection with the view of Fig. 2 has been indicated to be the geometric center line of the vehicle. While the foregoing disclosure
has set forth a preferred embodiment of the present invention, it should be understood that variations therefrom may come to mind after the principals
of the disclosure have been understood, and it is
desired to include all reasonable variations within the scope of this disclosure.

O-.-