IEEE Electrification Magazine - December 2017 - 47

a high degree of accuracy. The increased use of complex
control strategies coupled with the need for higher accuracy and the ability to support enhanced features justify
a move toward the use of digital-signal-processing
approaches. Compared to the analog systems that are currently in use in many aircraft controllers, digital control
systems offer faster responses, optimized size, reduced
weight, and lower costs. The manufacturing of analog circuits usually requires more resources and equipment
than digital systems, so the analog circuits are less efficient from the production point of view as well. Therefore,
aircraft equipment manufacturers are moving from analog-based designs to more digital-based systems to
respond to complex control strategies in a fast and efficient manner.

Central Control and Processing System
Our proposed digital-based central control and processing
system (CCPS) to control various aircraft equipment is
shown in Figure 1. The CCPS is a computer-based electronic assembly that provides a highly capable processing
and fast data acquisition and management platform for a
wide range of harsh aerospace applications. The CPPS collects the measured analog data from transducers in various aircraft equipment. When the collected data are
monitored and processed, command signals are issued
based on the status of the aircraft equipment. The CCPS
provides generic functions, such as the ARINC429 controller and serial peripheral interface (SPI) bus manager, as
well as the flexibility to accommodate some specific
user-defined functions. The CCPS architecture delivers
Transducers

flexibility and performance to meet the needs of many
applications, including mission computing and multipleengine control, while also satisfying the low-cost, lowpower demands of the aerospace market. The CCPS
includes two main submodules: a fast data acquisition
and control (FDAC) system based on a field-programmable
gate array (FPGA) and a digital core based on the advanced
reduced instruction set computing (RISC) machine (ARM)
Cortex microprocessor architecture (ARM Holdings, Cambridge, UK).
Figure 2 presents a CCPS application to control aircraft
equipment (such as the landing gear, steering system, and
so on) using an electrohydraulic servo valve (EHSV). Sensors and transducers measure the status of aircraft equipment variables, such as temperature, pressure, flow level,
and so forth, and send them to monitoring and conditioning devices. Information collected by the transducers/sensors usually appears as analog signals, which are converted
into digital signals using ADCs. Most transducers produce
relatively small voltage, current, or resistance changes, so
their outputs must be properly conditioned before further
analog-to-digital processing can occur. Signal conditioning
functions consist of amplification, galvanic isolation,
impedance transformation, linearization, and filtering.
The ADC output is then sent to the FPGA using SPI connections. The FDAC serves as a focal point in the system,
tying together a wide variety of transducers that indicate
different variables, e.g., temperature, flow level, angular
position, or pressure. The FPGA communicates with the
digital core (i.e., the microprocessor) using SPI connections. The digital core handles most of the system's
CCPS
Digital Core

RVDT
FDAC
LVDT

CPU

Resolver
Encoder
Analog
Signals
SPI

Thermocouple
Strain Gauge

RAM

Flash

Frequency
Interface
Other Transducers
Excitation
Excitation
Circuitry

ADC, DAC, Mux, and
Other Components

Memory Units

RTD

Other
Components

Figure 1. The aircraft CCPS concept. RVDT: rotary variable differential transformer; LVDT: linear variable differential transformer; RTD:
resistance temperature detector; FPGA: field-programmable gate array; ADC: analog-to-digital converter; DAC: digital-to-analog converter;
CPU: central processing unit; RAM: random access memory; IP: intellectual property; Mux: multiplexer.

IEEE Electrific ation Magazine / D EC EM BE R 2 0 1 7

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