Patents Assigned to Merlin Technology, Inc.
  • Patent number: 10563502
    Abstract: A sonde is receivable in a housing of an inground tool for transmitting an electromagnetic locating signal. The sonde is configured for monitoring a cumulative active run-time of its operation and for external transfer of the cumulative active run-time. A receiver receives the cumulative active run-time and provides at least one indication based on the cumulative active run-time.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 21, 2017
    Date of Patent: February 18, 2020
    Assignee: Merlin Technology, Inc.
    Inventors: Scott Phillips, Timothy Bayliss, Thomas J. Hall
  • Patent number: 10551409
    Abstract: An accelerometer arrangement and method are described for determining accelerations of an inground tool. First and second triaxial accelerometers are supported such that a normal sensing axis of the first triaxial accelerometer is at least generally orthogonal to the normal sensing axis of the second triaxial accelerometer for determining the accelerations along the three orthogonal axes based on a combination of sensing axis outputs from one or both of the triaxial accelerometers. A weaker sensing axis of one triaxial accelerometer can be supported at least approximately normal to a weaker sensing axis of another triaxial accelerometer such that the weaker axes are not used. The triaxial accelerometers can be supported such that one axis of one accelerometer can be redundant with respect to another axis of another accelerometer. One triaxial accelerometer can be mounted on a tilted plane with respect to another triaxial accelerometer.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: May 7, 2018
    Date of Patent: February 4, 2020
    Assignee: Merlin Technology, Inc.
    Inventors: Albert W. Chau, John E. Mercer, Scott Phillips
  • Patent number: 10520536
    Abstract: A portable device and associated method are described for use with a system in which a locating signal is transmitted from within the ground during an operational procedure. The locating signal includes a transmission frequency that is selectable from a group of discrete transmission frequencies in a frequency range and the region includes electromagnetic noise that can vary. The portable device includes a receiver having a bandwidth that includes the transmission frequency range and is operable for measuring the electromagnetic noise in the transmission frequency range to establish a frequency content of the electromagnetic noise for use in selecting one of the discrete transmission frequencies that is subsequently transmitted as the locating signal during the operational procedure. The locating signal can be transmitted from a boring tool, a pullback arrangement or an inground cable. A predicted maximum operational depth for a transmitter can be determined prior to the operational procedure.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: May 15, 2014
    Date of Patent: December 31, 2019
    Assignee: Merlin Technology Inc.
    Inventors: Loc Viet Lam, Albert W. Chau
  • Patent number: 10520537
    Abstract: A portable device and associated method are described for use with a system in which a locating signal is transmitted from within the ground during an operational procedure. The locating signal includes a transmission frequency that is selectable from a group of discrete transmission frequencies in a frequency range and the region includes electromagnetic noise that can vary. The portable device includes a receiver having a bandwidth that includes the transmission frequency range and is operable for measuring the electromagnetic noise in the transmission frequency range to establish a frequency content of the electromagnetic noise for use in selecting one of the discrete transmission frequencies that is subsequently transmitted as the locating signal during the operational procedure. The locating signal can be transmitted from a boring tool, a pullback arrangement or an inground cable. A predicted maximum operational depth for a transmitter can be determined prior to the operational procedure.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 24, 2017
    Date of Patent: December 31, 2019
    Assignee: Merlin Technology Inc.
    Inventors: Loc Viet Lam, Albert W. Chau
  • Patent number: 10513919
    Abstract: A drill string communication system is described. An uphole transceiver can couple a signal onto the drill string at a power that is always greater that a selectable power for a downhole signal. Communication from a drill rig to an inground tool can be re-initiated using a maximum uphole transmit power of an uphole transceiver. A procedure can establish a new set of transmission parameters for a drill string signal to establish communication between the drill rig and the inground tool. The system can include a walkover locator that receives an active/inactive status-controlled electromagnetic locating signal. Responsive to a locating signal degradation, a reconfiguration command can modify the locating signal. The uphole transceiver and a downhole transceiver can automatically modify at least one parameter of a downhole signal. An uphole receiver can apply a compensation response to a transferred signal to compensate for a drill string channel transfer function.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: January 26, 2016
    Date of Patent: December 24, 2019
    Assignee: Merlin Technology, Inc.
    Inventors: Albert W. Chau, Loc Viet Lam
  • Patent number: 10464662
    Abstract: An autopilot actuator includes first and second motors each including a rotatable motor output shaft such that either one or both of the motors can drive an actuator output shaft. An autopilot main unit enclosure is removably mounted to the helicopter proximate to a cyclic control and commonly houses autopilot actuators as well as main autopilot electronics. A cyclic vibration isolator is removably supported by an actuator shaft for co-rotation and coupled to the cyclic control to attenuate a cyclic vibration frequency at the actuator shaft while output rotations of the actuator shaft below a resonant frequency are coupled to the cyclic control. A force limited link includes first and second ends and a variable length between. The force limited link having a relaxed length when less than an unseating force is applied and the variable length changes when an applied force exceeds the unseating force to permit pilot override.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 22, 2018
    Date of Patent: November 5, 2019
    Assignee: Merlin Technology, Inc.
    Inventors: John E. Mercer, Marc Feifel, Mark Marvin, Nicholas Albion
  • Patent number: 10443316
    Abstract: A coupling adapter is insertable in at least one joint of a drill string as the drill string is extended from a drill rig. The coupling adapter includes an arrangement for receiving a data signal that is generated by an inground tool and for electromagnetically coupling the data signal onto at least a portion of the drill string that extends from the adapter to the drill rig such that at least some of the drill pipe sections cooperate as an electrical conductor for carrying the data signal to the drill rig. In another feature, a current transformer is resiliently supported to isolate the current transformer from mechanical shock and vibration that is produced by an inground operation that is performed using the drill string. In another feature, a drill string repeater is described.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 31, 2017
    Date of Patent: October 15, 2019
    Assignee: Merlin Technology Inc.
    Inventors: Albert W. Chau, Benjamin John Medeiros
  • Patent number: 10428583
    Abstract: A boring tool is movable through the ground. A transmitter supported by the boring tool transmits an electromagnetic homing signal. A portable device monitors the electromagnetic homing signal and receives the electromagnetic homing signal in a homing mode for guiding the boring tool to a target position. A processor generates steering commands for guiding the boring tool based on a bore plan in a steering mode such that at least some positional error is introduced without using the electromagnetic homing signal. Switching from the steering mode to the homing mode is based on monitoring of the electromagnetic homing signal as the boring tool approaches the portable device to then guide the boring tool to the target position location in compensation for the positional error. Intermediate target positions are described as well as guiding the boring tool based on the homing signal so long as the portable device receives the signal.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 11, 2017
    Date of Patent: October 1, 2019
    Assignee: Merlin Technology, Inc.
    Inventors: Tim Shaw, John E. Mercer, Albert W. Chau
  • Patent number: 10422664
    Abstract: A device rotates at least one static magnetic field about an axis, producing a rotating magnetic dipole field, and is movable in relation to the surface of the ground. The field is periodically sensed using a receiver to produce a receiver output responsive to the field. A positional relationship between the receiver and the device is monitored using the output. In one aspect, changing the positional relationship, by moving the device nearer to a boring tool which supports the receiver, causes an increase in accuracy of depth determination. In another aspect, determination of an actual overhead position of the boring tool, and its application, are described. Use of a plurality of measurements over at least one-half revolution of each magnet is disclosed. Establishing a surface radial direction toward a boring tool and resolution of multi-valued parameters is described. Calibration techniques, as well as a three transmitter configuration are also described.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: April 4, 2016
    Date of Patent: September 24, 2019
    Assignee: Merlin Technology, Inc.
    Inventors: Rudolf Zeller, Guenter W. Brune, Albert W. Chau, John E. Mercer
  • Patent number: 10378334
    Abstract: A portable locator and method for establishing the location of the cable line in a region which includes at least one generally straight electrically conductive cable line extending across the region from which cable line a locating signal includes a first arrangement for measuring a local flux intensity of the locating signal at a first above ground point within the region with the portable locator in a particular orientation at the first above ground point. A second arrangement uses the local flux intensity to establish a cable line angular orientation which limits the possible directions to the cable line relative to the particular orientation of the portable locator at the above ground point. A third arrangement uses the measured local flux intensity to establish an actual direction of the cable line that is selected from the possible directions based on certain characteristics of the locating signal.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 24, 2018
    Date of Patent: August 13, 2019
    Assignee: Merlin Technology Inc.
    Inventors: Guenter W. Brune, Albert W. Chau, John E. Mercer
  • Patent number: 10378338
    Abstract: A transmitter for inground use controls a depth signal transmit power in relation to a data signal transmit power such that one reception range of the depth signal at least approximately matches another, different reception range of the data signal. A portable device can form a system with the transmitter in which the portable device scans a plurality of frequencies within at least one low frequency depth signal range to measure the electromagnetic noise at each one of the plurality of frequencies and identify at least one of the frequencies as a potential depth frequency for the transmitter. The portable device can include a dual mode filter having a rebar mode and a normal mode filter. The depth signal frequency is dynamically positionable in relation to low frequency noise.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 28, 2017
    Date of Patent: August 13, 2019
    Assignee: Merlin Technology, Inc.
    Inventors: Rudolf Zeller, Gary Garrabrant, Timothy Bayliss, Scott Phillips
  • Patent number: 10351231
    Abstract: A helicopter autopilot system includes an inner loop for attitude hold for the flight of the helicopter including a given level of redundancy applied to the inner loop. An outer loop is configured for providing a navigation function with respect to the flight of the helicopter including a different level of redundancy than the inner loop. An actuator provides a braking force on a linkage that serves to stabilize the flight of the helicopter during a power failure. The actuator is electromechanical and receives electrical drive signals to provide automatic flight control of the helicopter without requiring a hydraulic assistance system in the helicopter. The autopilot can operate the helicopter in a failed mode of the hydraulic assistance system. A number of flight modes are described with associated sensor inputs including rate based and true attitude modes.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 26, 2017
    Date of Patent: July 16, 2019
    Assignee: Merlin Technology, Inc.
    Inventors: John E. Mercer, Nicholas Albion, Mark Bartel, Marc Feifel, Mark Marvin
  • Patent number: 10329895
    Abstract: A housing defines a through passage along its length and is configured to support a group of electrical isolators surrounding the through passage to form an electrically isolating break in a drill string such that each isolator of the group of isolators is subject to no more than a compressive force responsive to extension and retraction of the drill string. The housing defines a housing cavity to receive an electronics package having a signal port and is configured for electrical connection of the signal port across the electrically isolating break. A housing lid can cooperate with a main housing body to define elongated slots for purposes of enhancing the emanation of a locating signal. A housing arrangement can support electrical connections from an electronics package to bridge an electrically isolating gap.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 8, 2016
    Date of Patent: June 25, 2019
    Assignee: Merlin Technology Inc.
    Inventors: Albert W. Chau, Kenneth J. Theimer
  • Patent number: 10323506
    Abstract: Generally, a sonde, associated components and methods are described which can be used in conjunction with an inground tool having an inground tool housing that defines an inground tool cavity such that the inground tool cavity is exposed to an ambient pressure environment which surrounds the inground tool during an inground operation. A sonde housing assembly includes an exterior configuration that is receivable within the inground tool cavity. The sonde housing assembly at least partially defines a sonde interior and is further configured for receiving the pressure sensor body of a pressure sensor in a pressure sealed engagement. A sonde electronics package is supported within the sonde interior and is at least configured to receive the pressure signal and transfer a corresponding pressure signal from the sonde.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 3, 2016
    Date of Patent: June 18, 2019
    Assignee: Merlin Technology Inc.
    Inventors: Albert W. Chau, Dmitry Feldman, Benjamin John Medeiros
  • Patent number: 10281347
    Abstract: A tension monitoring apparatus is used for installing an underground utility by retraction that is applied to the utility. The tension monitoring apparatus includes a sensor for inground sensing of the tension force that is applied to the utility to produce a sensor signal. A processor monitors the tension force in a series of measurement intervals such that a plurality of tension force readings is generated for each of the measurement intervals. The processor stores a data set including a maximum tension force selected from the plurality of tension force readings for each one of the measurement intervals and copies the data set to a different location to create a copied data set after installation of the utility for subsequent selection and presentation of an overall maximum tension force.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 28, 2017
    Date of Patent: May 7, 2019
    Assignee: Merlin Technology, Inc.
    Inventors: Albert W. Chau, Rudolf Zeller, John E. Mercer, Charles Yu Yat Tsang
  • Patent number: 10273796
    Abstract: A steering tool is movable by a drill string to form an underground bore along an intended path. A sensing arrangement of the steering tool detects its pitch and yaw orientations at a series of spaced apart positions along the bore, each position is characterized by a measured extension of the drill string. The steering tool further includes a receiver. At least one marker is positioned proximate to the intended path, for transmitting a rotating dipole field to expose a portion of the intended path to the field for reception by the receiver. The detected pitch orientation, the detected yaw orientation and the measured extension of the drill string are used in conjunction with magnetic information from the receiver to locate the steering tool. The steering tool may automatically use the magnetic information when it is available. A customized overall position determination accuracy can be provided along the intended path.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 29, 2017
    Date of Patent: April 30, 2019
    Assignee: Merlin Technology, Inc.
    Inventors: Guenter W. Brune, Albert W. Chau, Rudolf Zeller, John E. Mercer
  • Patent number: 10267143
    Abstract: A drilling area network hub is located proximate to a drill rig and includes an uphole transceiver in bidirectional communication with a downhole transceiver by utilizing the drill string as an electrical conductor. Certain information is collected including rig-based and/or location information. At least one field report is generated based on the certain information to characterize at least one of an inground operation, an operational condition of the downhole transceiver, an operational condition of the uphole transceiver, and an operational condition of the drill rig. A drilling area network server receives the field report from the Internet at a remote location and can generate a custom report and/or recommended actions based on field data. Region specific parameters can be applied to the operation of a drilling system. The drilling area network hub can transfer data logs to the remote location according to assigned priorities.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 24, 2017
    Date of Patent: April 23, 2019
    Assignee: Merlin Technology, Inc.
    Inventor: Thomas J. Hall
  • Patent number: 10254425
    Abstract: An arrangement and an associated method are described in which a boring tool is moved through the ground within a given region along a path in which region a cable is buried. The boring tool and the cable transmit a boring tool locating signal and a cable locating signal, respectively. Intensities of the boring tool locating signal and the cable locating signal are measured along with a pitch orientation of the boring tool. Using the measured intensities and established pitch orientation, a positional relationship is determined to relative scale including at least the boring tool and the cable in the region. The positional relationship is displayed to scale in one view. The positional relationship may be determined and displayed including the forward locate point in scaled relation to the boring tool and the cable. Cable depth determination techniques are described including a two-point ground depth determination method.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 13, 2017
    Date of Patent: April 9, 2019
    Assignee: Merlin Technology, Inc.
    Inventors: Guenter W. Brune, Albert W. Chau, John E. Mercer
  • Patent number: 10246985
    Abstract: A boring tool moves having a pitch orientation, a yaw orientation and a roll orientation and is steerable underground using the roll orientation. A maximum drill string curvature is established for steering. The boring tool is advanced over a path segment. An averaged roll characteristic is determined for movement of the boring tool along the path segment. A path segment pitch orientation is established based on at least one measured pitch orientation along the path segment. Using the maximum drill string curvature in combination with the averaged roll characteristic and the path segment pitch orientation, the yaw orientation is determined. The averaged roll characteristic is determined based on a series of incremental roll measurements that are spaced across the path segment. A set of coupled ordinary differential equations is used to characterize movement of the boring tool.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 8, 2016
    Date of Patent: April 2, 2019
    Assignee: Merlin Technology Inc.
    Inventors: James W. Burrows, Guenter W. Brune, John E. Mercer
  • Patent number: 10240456
    Abstract: An inground housing supports a transmitter for receiving electrical power from a battery. The transmitter transmits at least one signal using at least two different transmit power levels for at least one of locating the transmitter and characterizing an orientation of the transmitter. Based on detecting the battery voltage, the transmitter selects one of the transmit power levels. Transmitter output power can be controlled based on one or both of signal gain and duty cycle.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 14, 2014
    Date of Patent: March 26, 2019
    Assignee: Merlin Technology, Inc.
    Inventors: Albert W. Chau, Jason Pothier