Wakeboat with dynamic wave control
1. A wakeboat control system suitable for producing a port surf wave or a starboard surf wave behind a wakeboat comprising:
- said wakeboat having a hull and a transom;
said hull having a longitudinal axis, a lateral axis and a vertical axis;
a sensor configured to measure a change in the angle of the hull about at least one of the longitudinal axis, the lateral axis and the vertical axis;
a plurality of ballast pumps;
trim plates movably attached to the transom;
processing circuitry coupled to the sensors, trim plates and ballast pumps, the processing circuitry automatically operating of at least one of the ballast pumps and trim plates in response to inputs received from the sensor to produce a port surf wave or a starboard surf wave.
Wakeboat ballast pump systems and methods are provided to monitor the operational condition and parameters of wakeboat ballast components. Systems and methods for sensing and measurement are provided to detect parameters associated with wakeboat ballast pumps and compartments, including systems and methods that can economically retrofit into existing wakeboat ballast systems. Systems and methods are also provided to enable automated action based on various operational conditions and parameters to improve the safety, automation, performance, convenience, and marketing advantage of wakeboat ballast pumps.
|Wake enhancement assembly|
Patent #US 6,427,616 B1
Current AssigneeToni Lynn Hagen
Sponsoring EntityToni Lynn Hagen
|Boat trim control and monitor system|
Patent #US 5,385,110 A
Current AssigneeBENNETT MARINE INCORPORATED OF DEERFIELD BEACH
Sponsoring EntityBENNETT MARINE INCORPORATED OF DEERFIELD BEACH
|Method and apparatus for wake enlargement system|
Patent #US 8,739,723 B1
Current AssigneeMichael Murphy
Sponsoring EntityMichael Murphy
|Wakeboat with dynamic wave control|
Patent #US 9,689,395 B2
Current AssigneeSkiers Choice Incorporated
Sponsoring EntitySkiers Choice Incorporated
|Wakeboat with dynamic wave control|
Patent #US 10,093,398 B1
Current AssigneeSkiers Choice Incorporated
Sponsoring EntitySkiers Choice Incorporated
- 1. A wakeboat control system suitable for producing a port surf wave or a starboard surf wave behind a wakeboat comprising:
said wakeboat having a hull and a transom; said hull having a longitudinal axis, a lateral axis and a vertical axis; a sensor configured to measure a change in the angle of the hull about at least one of the longitudinal axis, the lateral axis and the vertical axis; a plurality of ballast pumps; trim plates movably attached to the transom; processing circuitry coupled to the sensors, trim plates and ballast pumps, the processing circuitry automatically operating of at least one of the ballast pumps and trim plates in response to inputs received from the sensor to produce a port surf wave or a starboard surf wave.
- View Dependent Claims (2, 3)
- 4. A wakeboat control system suitable for producing a port surf wave or a starboard surf wave behind a wakeboat comprising:
said wakeboat having a hull and a transom; said hull having a longitudinal axis, a lateral axis and a vertical axis; a sensor configured to measure the angle of the hull about at least one of the longitudinal axis, the lateral axis and the vertical axis; a plurality of ballast pumps; trim plates movably attached to the transom; a display, said display indicating the measured angle of the hull; at least one control switch, processing circuitry coupled to the control switch, sensor, trim plates, ballast pumps, and said display, said processing circuitry operating at least one of said trim plates or said ballast pumps in response to actuation of said control switch to produce a port surf wave or a starboard surf wave.
- View Dependent Claims (5, 6, 7)
- 8. A method for producing a port surf wave or a starboard surf wave behind a wake boat comprising the steps of:
providing a wakeboat said wakeboat comprising; a hull and a transom, said hull having a longitudinal axis, a lateral axis and a vertical axis and; at least one ballast pump; trim plates movably attached to the transom; processing circuitry coupled to the sensor, said ballast pump and said trim plates; and
a display system also coupled to said sensor and said processing circuitry; a manual control switch operatively coupled to said processing circuitry to control at least one of said ballast pump or said trim plates; using said processing circuitry to display on said display system the sensor output of the measured angle of the hull; actuating at least one of said ballast pump and said trim plates using said control switch and said processing circuitry to adjust the angle of said hull in order to produce a port surf wave or a starboard surf wave behind a wake boat.
- View Dependent Claims (9, 10, 11)
- 12. A wakeboat control system suitable for producing a port surf wave or a starboard surf wave behind a wakeboat comprising:
a hull and a transom, said hull having a longitudinal axis, a lateral axis and a vertical axis and; at least one ballast pump; trim plates movably attached to the transom; processing circuitry coupled to the sensor, said ballast pump and said trim plates; and
a data storage associated with said processing circuitry, said data storage containing at least one previously measured hull angle as a stored measured hull angle; a display system also coupled to said sensor, said processing circuitry and said data storage, said display system configured to display and compare a real-time measurement of the angle of the hull in response to data received from said sensor to said stored measured hull angle; a control switch operatively coupled to said processing circuitry to control at least one of said ballast pump or said trim plates to produce a port surf wave or a starboard surf wave.
- View Dependent Claims (13, 14, 15)
- 16. A method for producing a port surf wave or a starboard surf wave behind a wake boat comprising the steps of:
providing a wakeboat, said wakeboat comprising; a hull and a transom, said hull having a longitudinal axis, a lateral axis and a vertical axis and; at least one ballast pump; trim plates movably attached to the transom; processing circuitry coupled to the sensor, said ballast pump and said trim plates; and
a display system also coupled to said sensor and said processing circuitry; a control switch operatively coupled to said processing circuitry to control at least one of said ballast pump or said trim plates; said sensor measuring the angle of rotation of the hull about one at least of;
a longitudinal axis, a horizontal axis or a vertical axis;
said sensor generating a first signal associated with the measured angle of rotation of the hull; inputting the first signal from the sensor into processing circuitry; storing the first signal as a first measured angle of rotation of the hull in memory associated with the processing circuitry; during subsequent operation of said wakeboat, said sensor measuring the angle of rotation of the hull about at least one of;
a longitudinal axis, a horizontal axis or a vertical axis;
generating a second signal associated with the measured angle of rotation of the hull during subsequent operation of said wakeboat; inputting the second signal from the sensor into processing circuitry; displaying the second signal as a second measured angle of rotation and displaying the first measured angle of rotation; and
actuating at least one of said ballast pump and said trim plates in response to said control switch and said processing circuitry to adjust the angle of said hull in order to produce a port surf wave or a starboard surf wave behind a wake boat.
- View Dependent Claims (17, 18, 19)
This application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 15/632,089 filed on Jun. 23, 2017, which is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 14/834,535 filed on Aug. 25, 2015 and a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 13/543,659 filed on Jul. 6, 2012, all of which are incorporated herein by reference.
The present disclosure relates generally to equipment and techniques used on wakeboats. Some embodiments of the disclosure relate to systems and methods that measure parameters and operational conditions of ballast pumps on wakeboats. Other embodiments of the disclosure relate to systems and methods that measure parameters and operational conditions of the ballast and ballast compartments on a wakeboat. Techniques for automated action based on operational conditions and parameters are also disclosed.
Watersports involving powered watercraft have enjoyed a long history. Water skiing'"'"'s decades-long popularity spawned the creation of specialized watercraft designed specifically for the sport. Such “skiboats” are optimized to produce very small wakes in the water behind the watercraft'"'"'s hull, thereby providing the smoothest possible water to the trailing water skier.
More recently, watersports have arisen which actually take advantage of, and benefit from, the wake produced by a watercraft. Wakeboarding, wakeskating, and kneeboarding all use the watercraft'"'"'s wake to enable the participants to perform various maneuvers or “tricks” including becoming airborne.
As with water skiing, specialized watercraft known as “wakeboats” have been developed for these sports. Present-day wakeboats and skiboats are often up to 30 feet in hull length with accommodation for up to 30 passengers. Contrary to skiboats, however, wakeboats seek to enhance the wake produced by the hull using a variety of techniques. The wakes available behind some modern wakeboats have become so large and developed that it is now even possible to “wakesurf”, or ride a surfboard on the wake, without a towrope or other connection to the watercraft whatsoever.
Improvements to wakeboats and skiboats and the safety of their operation would be very advantageous to the fast-growing watersports market and the watercraft industry in general.
Wakeboat ballast pump monitoring systems and methods are provided that include advanced pump monitoring via electrical and hydraulic parameters, and/or correlation of those parameters to the operational condition of the ballast pump or an associated ballast compartment.
Wakeboat ballast control systems and methods are provided that include measurement, storage and recall of hull orientation and draft data in the surrounding water.
Wakeboat ballast control systems and methods are provided that include automatic ballast management to maintain a desired set of parameters.
Wakeboat ballast control systems and methods are provided that enable sharing of wake configuration parameters between multiple wakeboats, and the normalization of such parameters from one wakeboat to another.
Watercraft tank systems and methods are provided that monitor and report the fluid level within one or more tanks, storing historical data and correlating that data to current sensor measurements.
Watercraft bilge pump adapters are provided that can allow bilge pumps to more completely drain accumulated fluids from interior compartments.
Watercraft bilge pump adapters are also provided that accommodate a variety of bilge shapes and profiles
Watercraft bilge pump monitoring systems are provided that include advanced pump monitoring, detection of water to be pumped, and detection of certain bilge pump failure modes.
Embodiments of the disclosure are described below with reference to the following accompanying drawings.
This disclosure is submitted in furtherance of the constitutional purposes of the U.S. Patent Laws “to promote the progress of science and useful arts” (Article 1, Section 8).
The assemblies and methods of the present disclosure will be described with reference to
Participants in the sports of wakeboarding, wakesurfing, wakeskating, and the like often have different needs and preferences with respect to the size, shape, and orientation of the wake behind a wakeboat. A variety of schemes for creating, enhancing, and controlling a wakeboat'"'"'s wake have been developed and marketed with varying degrees of success.
For example, many different wakeboat hull shapes have been proposed and produced. Another approach known in the art is to use a “fin” or “scoop” behind and below the wakeboat'"'"'s transom to literally drag the hull deeper into the water. Yet another system involves “trim plates”: control surfaces generally attached via hinges to the wakeboat'"'"'s transom, whose angle relative to the hull can be adjusted to “trim” the attitude of the hull in the water. The angles of trim plates are often controlled by electric or hydraulic actuators, permitting them to be adjusted with a switch or other helm-accessible control.
One goal of such systems is to cause the wakeboat'"'"'s hull to displace greater amounts of water, thus causing a larger wake to form as the water naturally seeks to restore equilibrium after the hull has passed. Another goal is to finely tune the shape, location, and behavior of the wake to best suit the preferences of each individual participant.
The predominant system has evolved to include specialized hull shapes, trim plates, and water as a ballast medium to change the position and attitude of the wakeboat'"'"'s hull in the water. Water chambers are installed in various locations within the wakeboat, and one or more pumps are used to fill and empty the chambers. The resulting ballast system enables the amount and distribution of weight within the watercraft to be controlled and adjusted.
Improved embodiments of wakeboat ballast systems have involved placing the ballast sacks in out-of-the-way compartments, the occasional use of hardsided tanks as opposed to flexible sacks, permanent installation of the fill and drain pumps and plumbing through the hull, permanent power supply wiring, and console-mounted switches that enabled the wakeboat'"'"'s driver to fill and drain the various ballast chambers from a central location. Such installations became available as original equipment installed by wakeboat manufacturers themselves. They were also made available as retrofit packages to repurpose existing boats as wakeboats, or to improve the performance and flexibility of wakeboats already possessing some measure of a ballast system. These permanent or semi-permanent installations became known by the term “automated ballast systems”, a misnomer because no automation was involved; while the use of switches and plumbing was certainly more convenient than loose pumps plugged into cigarette lighter outlets, their operation was still an entirely manual task.
The proliferation of wakeboat ballast systems and centralized vessel control systems has increased their popularity, but simultaneously exposed many weaknesses and unresolved limitations. For example, such so-called “automated” wakeboat ballast systems rely on ballast pump run time to estimate ballast compartment fill levels with no feedback mechanism to indicate full/empty conditions, no accommodation for air pockets or obstructions that prevent water flow, and other anomalous conditions that frequently occur. Relying solely on ballast pump run time can thus yield wildly inaccurate and unrepeatable ballasting results. So-called “automated” ballast systems thus purport to accurately restore previous conditions, when in fact they are simply making an estimate—to the frustration of participants and wakeboat operators alike.
Power to ballast pump motor 60 can be controlled by circuit interrupter 56, shown as a single device for clarity but which may be one or more of a manual switch, a relay or functionally similar device controlled by control signal 68, or other components suitable for making and breaking circuit 54 manually or under system control. When circuit interrupter 56 is closed and thus circuit 54 is completed through pump motor 60, the voltage from power source 52 will be applied to pump motor 60 and current will flow through circuit 54 according to Ohm'"'"'s Law.
While CEMF is in fact an opposition voltage generated by a motor, its real world effect is as a motor'"'"'s resistance to current flow. Thus CEMF can also be conveniently described as a motor'"'"'s resistance—a resistance that varies in direct proportion to the motor'"'"'s speed. When a motor is first started, or when its load is so great that the motor cannot overcome it and stalls, its CEMF is zero. When the motor is able to free run without load, both speed and CEMF can reach their maximums.
For example, when circuit 54 of
Once pump motor 60 of
As shown in
As just one example, the processing circuitry of the present disclosure can comprise a PIC18F25K80 microcontroller (Microchip Technology Inc., 2355 West Chandler Boulevard, Chandler Ariz., 85224-6199, United States) or another device whose characteristics suit the specific application. The PIC18F25K80 includes multiple analog inputs that directly sense an applied voltage. In one embodiment of the present disclosure, one of these analog inputs could be used to sense the voltage across a pump motor.
Again referring to
As shown in
In another embodiment of the present disclosure, current sensor 58 may be a series resistor. According to Ohm'"'"'s Law, a voltage develops across a resistor when current flows through it. The aforementioned analog inputs available on embedded microprocessors and other forms of processing circuitry may measure the voltages on either side of the resistor and, based on the voltage difference and the resistor'"'"'s value, use Ohm'"'"'s Law to calculate the motor current.
Returning to the example using the microcontroller, one embodiment of the present disclosure can use two of the microcontroller analog inputs to measure the voltage on either side of the aforementioned series resistor. The voltage across the series resistor will vary in proportion with the motor current; the microcontroller can thus calculate the motor current based on the difference in the voltages measured on either side of the series resistor. A block diagram of this arrangement is shown in
In another embodiment of the present disclosure, an operational amplifier can be configured in differential mode to directly measure the voltage across the series resistor. The operational amplifier could be, for example, an LM318 (Texas Instruments Inc., 12500 TI Boulevard, Dallas Tex. 75243, United States) or another device whose characteristics suit the specific application. The output voltage of the operational amplifier may then be monitored by a single analog input of the processing circuitry. One advantage of this embodiment is the reduction in the number of analog inputs required to realize this aspect of the present disclosure. Another advantage of this embodiment is the elimination of the need for the processing circuitry to perform the Ohm'"'"'s Law calculations. A block diagram of this arrangement is shown in
Some embodiments of the present disclosure may use voltage, others may use current, and still others may use both depending upon the type of pump motor and the characteristics being monitored. In some embodiments, the processing circuitry may manipulate motor voltage info 66 and motor current info 64, for example by adjusting their offsets and dynamic range, to improve compatibility with system 154.
In contrast to the elapsed-time schemes of existing wakeboat ballast systems, the present disclosure as illustrated in
An example fill and drain cycle for a single ballast compartment can include the following. Presume that pump motor 60 of
Continuing to the draining phase, presume that pump motor 60 of
Based upon the specific pumps, sensors, and other components chosen for the specific implementation, the present disclosure will have known and expected operational values for each pump in the ballast system. The detection of these values by the present disclosure provides real world feedback of what is actually happening. This stands in contrast to the open loop approach of time-based systems where the pump may continue to run without regard to what is actually occurring. The results can be as benign as wasting energy and draining batteries, to as severe as damaging pumps that are not intended to run “dry” or with occluded flow.
Pump runtime can still play an important role in the present disclosure. For example, the present disclosure can sense and record the normal amount of time required to fill a given ballast compartment. Armed with this data, if during the aforementioned fill operation the voltage sensor 62 or the current sensor 58 of
From the above it is clear that the unique advantages of the present disclosure can automatically handle commonplace problems that are beyond the scope of existing ballast systems. However, the utility of the present disclosure goes beyond convenience and can actually increase the safety of those watercraft on which it is installed.
For example, it is a common occurrence that hoses come loose, and fittings fail, in the challenging and vibration-prone environment of a watercraft. Since most ballast systems are mounted out of sight, such a failure is very likely to go unnoticed. If one or more Fill Pumps (FP) are turned on in such a condition, the result is one or more high volume pumps filling out-of-sight areas with water at a very high rate—with that water flowing indiscriminately below decks. Left undetected, such uncontrolled water may quickly fill the bilge, reach important electrical, mechanical, and engine components, and seriously compromise the safety of the watercraft and everyone aboard.
Components on either the intake or the outlet side of a pump can contribute to its working environment—the effective input restriction against which it must create suction to draw in water, and the effective output backpressure against which it must pump that water to its destination. A loose hose between a Fill Pump (FP) and its associated ballast compartment, for example, will cause lower hydraulic backpressure (and thus lower CEMF) than should ever be encountered under normal conditions. With the systems and/or methods of the present disclosure storing the range of proper values for pump voltage and/or current under normal safe operating conditions, anomalous conditions can be detected by processing circuitry and brought to the attention of the watercraft operator through the visual and audible indicators already present. As an extra measure of safety, the present disclosure can optionally depower pumps with questionable safe operating characteristics until the operator takes notice, remedies the situation, and clears the warning.
A related advantage of embodiments of the present disclosure is its ability to detect and report failed pumps. Pumps have two primary failure modes: Open or shorted windings in the pump motor, and seized mechanisms due to bearing failure or debris jammed in the pump. Failed windings cause circuit conditions which the present disclosure can easily detect—if power is applied to a pump and there is anomolous current flow or voltage drop across the motor, the pump requires inspection. Similarly, seized pumps with intact windings do not begin rotation and do not develop CEMF, thus exhibiting a sustained high current condition easily detected by the present disclosure.
In addition to the ability to notify the operator that pump maintenance is required, embodiments of the systems and/or methods of the present disclosure can enhance safety by testing Drain Pumps (DP) before—and even occasionally during—filling the associated ballast compartment. It is dangerous to fill a ballast compartment whose Drain Pump (DP) is nonfunctional since there is then no prompt way to remove what is often thousands of pounds of weight from the boat. Existing ballast systems have no feedback mechanism with which to test pump condition and thus no way to protect against such failures, but embodiments of the present disclosure can provide this protection.
Another advantage of embodiments of the present disclosure is that pumps can be turned off when appropriate, thus preventing excessive useless runtime long after the associated ballast compartment has been filled or drained. Some pump styles, such as impeller pumps, have parts that wear based on their minutes of use with the wear becoming especially acute when the pump is run “dry” (i.e. after the ballast compartment is empty). The inconvenience and expense of maintaining such pumps can be substantially reduced by accurately and promptly depowering the pumps when their task is complete—something existing time-based ballast systems can only guess at, but which is an inherent capability of the present disclosure. And while other styles of pumps (centrifugal or so-called “aerator” pumps, for example) may not be as sensitive to run time, this capability of the present disclosure still pays dividends by preventing unnecessary power drain from onboard batteries.
Yet another advantage of embodiments of the present disclosure is its ability to be accurate and self-calibrating. Unlike systems based solely on a rough estimate of time, embodiments of the present disclosure actually determine and/or communicate when a ballast compartment is empty or full. Furthermore, the amount of time required to fill or empty a ballast compartment can be determined with certainty, with recalibration occurring with every fill or drain cycle and the results stored by processing circuitry. This can provide an increase in accuracy when recording and restoring a given set of ballast conditions, as will be expanded upon later in this description.
Another advantage of embodiments of the present disclosure is that extensive additional instrumentation is not necessarily required, such as level sensors within the ballast compartments themselves. Such in-tank “sending units” are a way to measure the fluid level in a compartment, but are notoriously expensive and unreliable and prone to all manner of faults and problems of their own.
If monitoring the pump motor voltage or current is inconvenient, similar data may be obtained by measuring hydraulic characteristics at the intake and outlet of the pump.
Sensors 102 and 110 in
Analog or digital inputs may be configured with the processing circuitry of system 154 to allow various parameters to be monitored. As noted previously, analog inputs could be used to monitor voltage sensor 62 or current sensor 58 which provide information regarding the operational condition of the associated ballast pump and ballast compartments associated with the ballast pump. The processing circuitry of system 154 could also provide analog or digital outputs to operate controls, indicators, or other configurable devices. As just one example, such an output could be used to control circuit interrupter 56 of
System 154 may interact with some or all of the various components, if present, on the wakeboat in question, including pump power and sensing via connection 416, trim plate power and sensing via connection 414, and power and sensing for other configurable control mechanisms such as boat speed and engine throttle/RPM 412. System 154 can also interact with user interfaces such as displays, gauges, switches, and touchscreens 406.
That portion of circuit 54 which conveys power to pump motor 60, as illustrated in
Referring again to
While not explicitly illustrated, some embodiments of the present disclosure can support multiple pumps performing a common task, sometimes referred to as “paralleled pumps”. Some embodiments can also support additional pumps used for “cross pumping” between ballast compartments to take advantage of ballast water that is already on board.
The preceding discussion describes embodiments of the present disclosure interfacing pumps and ballast compartments in a wakeboat ballast system.
The opposite effect is shown in
To offset this lateral rotation, ballast compartments 12 and 14 of
However, restoring normal rotation angles around the longitudinal and lateral axes does not necessarily mean that the watercraft has been restored to its unballasted condition. The extra ballast weight will cause the watercraft to displace additional water; in other words, the watercraft will ride lower in the water. The nautical term for the depth of a hull in water is “draft”. The hull'"'"'s draft plays an important role in the shape and performance of the wake produced behind it, just as do the longitudinal and lateral rotation angles. The same hull with the same angles of rotation, but at two different drafts, will produce two different wakes. Indeed, changing any of the three variables—longitudinal angle, lateral angle, and draft—will affect the resulting wake.
When optimizing the wake for a particular watersports participant, and especially when seeking to reproduce wake conditions achieved at some time in the past, the entire relationship between the hull and the body of water in which it is moving must be taken into account. The behavior of the wake is primarily controlled by how the hull displaces the water, which is in turn controlled by the draft and angle of the wakeboat hull in the water. Existing wakeboat ballast systems do not address this critical point. It is not sufficient for existing wakeboat ballast systems to simply remember approximately how much ballast was in each ballast compartment, and then attempt to restore those levels using grossly inaccurate estimates based on pump runtime. Hull attitude is affected by many factors beyond just the fill levels of each ballast compartment, including but in no way limited to the amount of fuel onboard and the number, position, and weight of passengers. Worse, these factors can and do change in real time such as when passengers embark and disembark or move around within the wakeboat, or fuel is consumed or refilled during a day'"'"'s operation.
As noted previously, watersports are often a very social event. Passengers come and go during a single outing. Even changing the current watersport participant (say, from a heavier to a lighter wakeboarder) alters the amount and distribution of weight in the hull. All of this may involve small children to large adults. These very natural occurrences cause multi-hundred pound changes in weight distribution, corresponding substantial changes in hull angles and draft, and thus significant variability in the wake produced. Existing ballast systems do not account for these dynamics and instead focus on roughly restoring an amount of water in each ballast compartment as if that alone is sufficient to reproduce desired wake behavior.
Earlier ballast systems mistakenly attempted to focus on ballast amounts, but what really affects wake behavior is the relationship of the hull to the water. A proper wakeboat ballast system must measure and monitor the behavior of the hull. Pumps, ballast compartments, and amounts of water are not the end but the means. They are simply tools to be used to achieve the actual goal of hull control.
The preceding discussion has illustrated that varying amounts of ballast in various locations affect how the hull of a boat interacts with the water in which it is floating, and how embodiments of the present disclosure can improve upon existing pump and ballast management. These improvements are significant advancements of the art.
Unlike existing ballast systems, this single-sensor embodiment of the present disclosure is not limited to managing the wakeboat ballast system based on amounts of water in various ballast compartments. Instead, with a single longitudinal sensor this embodiment of the present disclosure can manage the ballast system (and other parameters if present) to achieve a desired longitudinal hull angle.
Furthermore, this embodiment of the present disclosure can record, recall, and restore desired longitudinal hull angles. When a desirable wake configuration is achieved, system 154 of
Once stored in memory 418, such configurations may be recalled by system 154 in response to commands from user interface 406. System 154 can then restore the various parameters to return the wakeboat to the same condition as the selected configuration. As noted above, however, the stored parameters may not yield the exact same configuration due to changes in weight distribution and other factors. Therefore, when restoring and maintaining a selected configuration, system 154 can monitor sensor 400 for differences in the longitudinal angle of the boat and make adjustments to those parameters over which it has control to accommodate changes.
For example, if this single-sensor embodiment of the present disclosure notices that the longitudinal angle is too far to the right (starboard), system 154 of
Referring back to an earlier example, a 200 pound passenger moving from one side of the passenger compartment to the other would cause a change in the longitudinal angle. System 154 of
Likewise, an exchange of watersport participant—and the resulting weight shift if the participants are of differing weights—could be accommodated autonomously. Indeed, the present disclosure can accommodate changes regardless of their cause, intentional or not, and do so entirely automatically.
If desired, system 154 of
It should be noted that a multitude of factors may cause transient changes to monitored parameters such as the longitudinal angle of the boat. Gusts of wind, waves at odd angles, momentary passenger relocations, and similar temporary events may cause changes that need not be immediately accommodated. Indeed, in highly dynamic environments the information provided by the present disclosure'"'"'s sensors may require a variety of filtering techniques to eliminate extraneous content. For example, if the body of water in which the boat floats is not calm, the longitudinal sensor 400 of
In one embodiment, the second sensor could be a second inclinometer used in the example above. In another embodiment, the two inclinometers could be integrated into a single device to reduce parts count and simplify processing circuitry design and construction. Such a dual axis inclinometer could be, for example, an ADIS16209 (Analog Devices Inc, One Technology Way, Norwood Mass., 02062, United States) or another whose characteristics suit the specific application.
The longitudinal and lateral axes are illustrated in the present embodiments for convenience of illustration and explanation. Other axes besides the longitudinal and lateral axes may be used in different embodiments of the present disclosure. Other sensor types may also be advantageously used; for example, system 154 could derive hull rotation from the measurements of typical marine draft sensors, correlating changes in hull tilt to changes in draft depth as the waterline changes at various locations on the hull. Multiple quantities, arrangement, and alignment of sensors may be used to achieve the advantages of the present disclosure.
A further embodiment of the present disclosure adds a draft sensor 402 to measure the depth of the hull below the water surface. Sensor 402 does not measure the depth of the water, but the draft—the depth of the boat hull in the water. As noted previously, it is possible to achieve the same longitudinal and lateral hull angles while the hull sits at different depths in the water. A lightly loaded hull will displace less water and float shallower, while a more heavily loaded hull will displace more water and float deeper, and yet both conditions may be achieved with identical longitudinal and lateral angles. The amount of water displaced by the hull is an important factor in wake development behind the boat, and in the most advantageous embodiment of the present disclosure, draft sensor 402 enables this third degree of freedom to be included in system 154'"'"'s control of the ballast pumps, and thus its management of the wakeboat ballast control system.
An example will help in understanding the advantage and importance of draft sensor 402. Presume that the earlier two-inclinometer embodiment of the present disclosure recorded a desired configuration when the boat was lightly loaded. At some later time, that configuration is recalled and system 154 of
Some two-inclinometer embodiments of the present disclosure may offer manual adjustment of draft. If the wakeboat operator notices that the hull is floating higher or lower than desired, user interface 406 of
An embodiment of the present disclosure could be produced using a single inclinometer to monitor a single axis, and in many cases this will be sufficient as it represents an enormous improvement over the existing art. Another embodiment of the present disclosure could be produced with two inclinometers to monitor both the longitudinal and lateral axes. A further improvement would include both inclinometers and the draft sensor to monitor all three degrees of freedom that affect how the hull interfaces with the surrounding body of water.
Inclinometers are not the only way to measure how the hull interacts with the surrounding water. Another embodiment of the present disclosure uses multiple draft sensors mounted at different locations on the hull. For a given axis of rotation, the placement of a draft sensor away from the axis in question yields differing draft measurements that correlate to different amounts of hull tilt around that axis. An embodiment of the present disclosure that deploys two draft sensors can thus derive tilt information for two axes. An advantage of this embodiment is that the separate measurements from these same draft sensors can themselves be correlated to yield an overall hull draft measurement without requiring a third sensor.
Some embodiments of the present disclosure may permit a single or dual sensor installation to be later upgraded by the installation of additional sensors. This would permit an entry-level embodiment of the present disclosure to be initially affordable to a greater number of wakeboat purchasers, and allow them to upgrade as their circumstances permit. This concept could be expanded to allow the present disclosure to be deployed on wakeboats having only rudimentary hull control implements; for example, at first a boat may have only trim plates and no formal ballast system. Despite the lack of a ballast system, a wakeboat having only trim plates nevertheless does have some limited ability to modulate its hull behavior and the present disclosure could take best advantage of whatever capabilities currently exist on the boat in question. Another example would be the addition of trim plates to a wakeboat initially lacking them, or the enlargement of ballast compartments from factory stock to a custom version. When hull control implements are added or changed, the present disclosure could be connected to them and then deliver improved performance.
Some embodiments of the present disclosure include interfaces to external devices. For example,
One embodiment of the present disclosure can use a portable computer such as a smartphone, tablet computer, laptop computer, or similar device to realize some of its processing circuitry. Such a computing device could be, for example, an Apple iPad (Apple Incorporated, 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, Calif. 95014, United States) or another device whose characteristics suit the specific application. Referring to
The social nature of watersports often sees participants going out on different watercraft on the same or different days. A great deal of time can be spent fine tuning and then storing the wake preferences of a given participant in that watercraft'"'"'s ballast system, but all of that effort must be repeated when that participant goes out on a different watercraft—even if the watercrafts are identical makes and models. This problem compounds with the number of participants and the number of watercraft between them, wasting a considerable amount of valuable time and expensive fuel as the same actions are repeated over and over by every participant on every watercraft.
One embodiment of the present disclosure corrects this problem via portable device interfaces 408 and RF (or wireless) computer interfaces 410. Watersports participants could, for example, copy selected contents of memory 418 to an external device. When they return to the same or another wakeboat with their external device, their preferred configurations could be copied to memory 418 on that wakeboat and made available for use. Thus wakeboats equipped with the present disclosure need not store permanent copies of their configurations, and changes to a participant'"'"'s preferences could automatically “follow” them from boat to boat.
RF (or wireless) interfaces 410 could also be used for direct wakeboat-to-wakeboat data transfer. For example, if the operator of one wakeboat stores a particularly advantageous configuration, it could be shared with other wakeboats in the immediate vicinity via an RF connection through interface 410. In this manner, human error associated with the manual duplication of data could be substantially reduced. Participant preferences could also be copied via RF connection in like fashion when passengers move from one wakeboat to another, eliminating the requirement to carry external devices from boat to boat.
Connection to external devices via computer interfaces 408 or 410 could also be used to update the software or other operating parameters of system 154 or other components and devices within the overall system.
Another inadequacy of the existing art is inaccurate reporting of onboard resources such as fuel. For example, it is almost a standing joke amongst watercraft owners that their fuel gauges bear only the most remote relationship to the amount of fuel actually in the fuel tank. This condition has only worsened as analog gauges have been replaced by touchscreens and other computerized displays with their suggestion of single-digit accuracy. More than a source of humor, however, this situation can be dangerous if the watercraft operator relies upon such invalid data and is thus misinformed as to the actual amount of fuel onboard. This inaccuracy is often exacerbated by irregularly shaped tanks, offcenter tank sensors, and nonlinear response from tank sensors.
The result is that the tank fill level reported to the wakeboat operator may not correspond to the actual fill level in the tank itself. For example, when the tank fill level is shown as 50%, it may actually be significantly more or less than the indicated value. Worse, the magnitude and direction of the error may change throughout the indicated range—making it nearly impossible for the watercraft operator to mentally correct from the indicated reading.
Continuing with the embodiment of
The values of entry 458 in
For this example embodiment, the process described in the preceding paragraph can be repeated each time fluid is added to the tank. The result is an array of entries in the tank lookup table as shown in
In other embodiments of the present disclosure, the tank lookup table 422 of
One example of another type of information that could be present in other embodiments of the present disclosure includes longitudinal and lateral angle information as received from longitudinal sensor 400 of
The specifics of such a correction would be very implementation specific, but one example will illustrate the effect.
If the watercraft then experiences rotation on its longitudinal axis that lowers the left side of the hull, such as shown in
Rotation around the lateral axis of the watercraft can have similar effects. For example,
To address this problem, embodiments of the present disclosure which include one or both of sensors 400 and 404 of
As noted earlier with respect to ballasting, a multitude of factors may cause transient changes to tank levels. Fluids in tanks are known to “slosh” to some degree, even when the tanks in question have internal baffles to reduce such motion. The information provided by fluid level sensor 426 may require filtering to eliminate extraneous content. A broad spectrum of filtering techniques for a wide range of possible conditions may be supported by the present disclosure and be realized programmatically, electrically, mechanically, or by any approach as suited to the specifics of the embodiment in question.
Yet another limitation of the existing art is that ballast configurations are unique to that watercraft manufacturer and model. Even if participants remember the “settings” that produce their preferred wake in one watercraft, those values are unlikely to apply to other watercraft. Existing embodiments provide no method to relate one watercraft model'"'"'s set of preferred parameters to another watercraft model, again wasting a considerable amount of time and fuel for each and every watercraft model for each and every participant.
One embodiment of the present disclosure addresses this shortcoming of the existing art by normalizing a wakeboat'"'"'s characteristics to a common set of parameters. Similar to industry standards that otherwise competitive manufacturers adopt for their mutual benefit, this normalized parameter set enables the ballast and wake behavior of a given watercraft to be described in terms that can be related to other watercraft equipped with the same capability.
In one embodiment, configuration lookup table 420 of
One possible embodiment for the normalization lookup table 424 of
To further assist with understanding this aspect of the present disclosure,
Careful inspection of row 511 as just analyzed reveals that the effect of center trim plate 26 of
Continuing with analysis of parameters affecting wake height in Dual Wake mode as illustrated by
In contrast with the center trim plate of row 511, the effect of the port stern ballast of row 512 is reasonably linear with respect to the resulting wake height in Dual Wake mode. The same can be seen of the next parameter in column 504, “stbd stern ballast”, which would correspond to the amount of ballast in ballast compartment 22 of
The interpretation and use of the possible embodiment in
One more entry in the sample normalization lookup table of
The sample normalization lookup table of
Another embodiment of this aspect of the present disclosure may use interpolation to derive intermediate settings that are not directly represented in the normalization lookup table. Just as the tank lookup table of
In practice, when configuration parameters from one watercraft are to be transferred to a second watercraft of the same make and model, no alteration is likely to be required. The values from configuration lookup table 420 of
As an example of this procedure, presume a wakeboat with a configuration lookup table entry that produces dual wakes that are 50% of the normalized height value. If it is desired to transfer this configuration to another wakeboat of sufficiently different characteristics, the configuration values can be normalized. Using the normalization lookup table of
Taking the next parameter—“port stern ballast”—the desired 50% effect happens to be the effect of the midrange setting for this parameter on this wakeboat. Therefore, “port stern ballast” would use a normalized value of 50.
Likewise, “stbd stern ballast” would translate a 50% effect to a normalized value of 50 for this wakeboat.
This procedure would thus continue through all appropriate parameters until the configuration values had been normalized. This normalized set of values could then be transferred to the target watercraft, where they would express the desired configuration using a generic set of values understandable by any watercraft equipped with the present disclosure. The normalization process could then be reversed—but this time using the destination watercraft'"'"'s own normalization lookup table to convert the generic values to those appropriate for the destination watercraft.
In this manner, the present disclosure can provide configuration data specific to one watercraft to be used by another, perhaps dissimilar watercraft. By providing each watercraft with its own normalization lookup table that relates the specifics of that vessel to an intermediate, standardized set of values, it becomes possible for dissimilar watercraft to communicate and share information.
It is important to note that the normalization lookup table 424 in a destination watercraft may contain quite different values from that in the originating watercraft, precisely because the two watercrafts are dissimilar. Therefore, applying normalization lookup table 424 to the incoming normalized data will likely yield substantially different values to be stored in the destination watercraft'"'"'s configuration lookup table 420. Simply stated, to achieve similar results from dissimilar watercraft requires each watercraft to be configured differently. While the initial results may not always yield identical wake and ballast behavior—it may not always be possible to exactly duplicate the behavior of one watercraft with another—this aspect of the present disclosure can get closer, faster, than the alternative offered by existing art.
The foregoing describes just one possible embodiment of this feature of the present disclosure. Other embodiments, which may for example involve quite different data storage and translation methodologies, are equally appropriate as long as they accomplish the function of permitting the translation of configuration data between watercraft.
During a transfer of configuration data, one embodiment of the present disclosure can transmit or exchange manufacturer, model, and other useful characteristics between the watercrafts involved. System 154 of
Another limitation of the existing art is that specialized hull shapes often encourage the accumulation of water in the lowest areas of the hull, often referred to as the “bilge”. While virtually all watercraft are equipped with bilge pumps to drain undesired water, the specialized hull shapes used with watersport boats often cause such water to accumulate in thin layers covering a large surface area. This results in a large amount of water whose level is not deep enough for traditional bilge pumps to evacuate it.
For example, in contrast to the V shaped hulls of many boats, the interior hull surfaces of some sport watercraft have large flat regions where water can pool. These flat areas can be many square feet in surface area, which means that even a thin layer of water can amount to many gallons of water.
Other examples include more traditional V shaped hulls, but where the keel of the hull runs almost horizontal along the longitudinal axis for distances of many feet. Again, a shallow depth of water extending a lengthy distance can add up to a surprisingly large volume of water, yet it'"'"'s very shallowness prevents traditional bilge pumps from evacuating it.
Traditional bilge pumps fail to handle shallow water depths primarily because of their intake design. To pump water, their intakes must be completely submerged so as to maintain “suction” and draw water instead of air. If any portion of the intake is above water, suction is lost and little to no water is pumped.
Another limitation of traditional bilge pumps is that they are typically controlled by a water detecting switch, the most common variety being a “float switch”. As the name implies, a buoyant component or “float” is coupled to an electrical switch such that when the water level rises above a certain point, the switch is closed and power is applied to the bilge pump. When the water level drops sufficiently, the float drops as well; the electrical switch is thus opened and bilge pump power is removed.
Float switches, and other types of bilge pump switches, suffer from conflicting design parameters. If they trigger upon too high a water level, too much water can be allowed to accumulate before the bilge pump is activated. If they are set too low, they can be excessively triggered by small amounts of water sloshing back and forth due to natural hull motion. In this latter case, the bilge pump can be excessively cycled, often when the actual water level is below that necessary for the bilge pump to do useful work. Such treatment consumes the useful lifespan of the bilge pump and also wastes energy.
The inadequate design of existing bilge pumps and their switches can thus permit large amounts of water to remain within the hull where it encourages mold, mildew, corrosion, deterioration of equipment, and other moisture related problems. An improvement to bilge pump and switch design would be of significant benefit, particularly to the sport watercraft industry with its specialized hull shapes that seem almost designed to accumulate water that is difficult to effectively evacuate.
Still referring to
Adapter 554 may optionally include one or more water sensors. In one embodiment, a water sensor 618 is located symmetrically on either side of adapter 554 immediately above channel 558. In this embodiment, automated bilge pump operation occurs when both water sensors 618 detect water; this ensures that both openings of channel 558 are underwater, thus preventing the bilge pump from futilely attempting to pump water when its intake is exposed to open air.
Still referring to
Adapter 564 may optionally include one or more water sensors. In one embodiment, one water sensor 618 is located symmetrically on either side of adapter 564 immediately above slots 568 for a total of two water sensors. As with the V hull embodiment, automated bilge pump operation occurs when both water sensors 618 detect water; this ensures that both ends of slots 568 are underwater, thus preventing the bilge pump from futilely attempting to pump water when its intake is exposed to open air.
Adapters 554 and 564 of
The advantages of the present disclosure are numerous. The complete lack of moving parts increases reliability, a very important attribute in marine applications. The adapter can be fabricated from a single shaped or molded piece of plastic, rendering it rust and corrosion proof even in salt water environments. One embodiment can be provided to permit on-the-spot resizing and reshaping to provide a custom fit to the hull in question. Another embodiment can be sold without hull beveling or slots whatsoever, permitting entirely custom adapters to be created with common shop tools by the final installer.
Power to ballast pump motor 694 is controlled by circuit interrupter 696, shown as a single device for clarity but which may be one or more of a manual switch, a relay or functionally similar device controlled by control signal 688, or other components suitable for making and breaking circuit 682 manually or under system control. When circuit interrupter 696 is closed and thus circuit 682 is completed through pump motor 694, the voltage from power source 680 will be applied to pump motor 694 and current will flow through circuit 682.
Backup float switch 698 of
Instrumenting the bilge pump in the manner shown in
Another safety enhancement delivered by the present disclosure is the ability to detect certain failure conditions as described earlier in this specification with respect to
Yet another safety enhancement delivered by the present disclosure is its ability to detect and report failed bilge pumps. As previously described with respect to ballast pumps, electric bilge pumps have two primary failure modes: Open or shorted windings in the pump motor, and seized mechanisms due to bearing failure or debris jammed in the pump. And also as previously described with respect to ballast pumps, both of these conditions can be detected by the present invention via the bilge pump control and sensing advancements shown in
As noted earlier in this specification with respect to with ballast pumps, a key advantage of the present disclosure is its ability to be used with standard off-the-shelf bilge pumps. It is not necessary to use customized pumps or pumps with integrated sensors to achieve the advantages noted herein. Indeed, the present disclosure can be easily retrofitted into the vast majority of existing bilge systems already installed on existing watercraft and then continue to use the in-place existing bilge pumps. This includes bilge pumps with integrated water switches as well as pumps using separate “float” style water switches.
This applicability significantly expands the quantity of watercraft that can benefit from the present disclosure. This is especially important when considering the safety issues associated with traditionally undiscovered failures of bilge pumps. The ability to economically bring the advantages of the present disclosure to existing watercraft and their existing bilge pumps can substantially improve the safety of in-service vessels at a cost more likely to be within the reach of their owners.
In compliance with the statute, embodiments of the invention have been described in language more or less specific as to structural and methodical features. It is to be understood, however, that the entire invention is not limited to the specific features and/or embodiments shown and/or described, since the disclosed embodiments comprise forms of putting the invention into effect. The invention is, therefore, claimed in any of its forms or modifications within the proper scope of the appended claims appropriately interpreted in accordance with the doctrine of equivalents.