Patents by Inventor John E. Mercer

John E. Mercer has filed for patents to protect the following inventions. This listing includes patent applications that are pending as well as patents that have already been granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

  • 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
  • Publication number: 20200032586
    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: Application
    Filed: September 30, 2019
    Publication date: January 30, 2020
    Inventors: Tim Shaw, John E. Mercer, Albert W. Chau
  • Publication number: 20200018621
    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: Application
    Filed: September 23, 2019
    Publication date: January 16, 2020
    Inventors: Rudolf Zeller, Guenter W. Brune, Albert W. Chau, John E. Mercer
  • Publication number: 20190352003
    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: Application
    Filed: July 13, 2019
    Publication date: November 21, 2019
    Inventors: John E. Mercer, Nicholas Albion, Mark Bartel, Marc Feifel, Mark Marvin
  • 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: 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
  • Publication number: 20190257707
    Abstract: Tension monitoring is described using a sensor which may exhibit an offset for which compensation may be provided to produce a zero voltage amplified output or to increase dynamic range. An arrangement determines whether a power reset is responsive to a battery bounce such that an initially-measured system start-up parameter can be retained. The start-up parameter is automatically saved at start-up if the power reset is responsive to a start-up from a shut-down condition. The start-up parameter may be a zero tension amplified output responsive to the sensor offset at zero tension. Protection of a tension data set is provided such that no opportunity for altering the data set is presented prior to transfer of the data set. A housing configuration forms part of an electrical power circuit for providing electrical power to an electronics package from a battery.
    Type: Application
    Filed: May 1, 2019
    Publication date: August 22, 2019
    Inventors: Albert W. Chau, Rudolf Zeller, John E. Mercer, Charles Yu Yat Tsang
  • Publication number: 20190249539
    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: Application
    Filed: April 28, 2019
    Publication date: August 15, 2019
    Inventors: Guenter W. Brune, Albert W. Chau, Rudolf Zeller, 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
  • Publication number: 20190226316
    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: Application
    Filed: March 29, 2019
    Publication date: July 25, 2019
    Inventors: James W. Burrows, Guenter W. Brune, John E. Mercer
  • 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: 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
  • Publication number: 20190127057
    Abstract: A helicopter includes a rotor system having a rotor with an adjustable pitch that is controlled at least in part by a pilot using a collective control and which helicopter generates a Low RPM signal that is indicative of a threshold low rotational speed of the rotor. An actuator arrangement can move the collective control by exerting a force on the collective control such that the pilot is able to overcome the actuator force but which otherwise can move the collective control from a current operational position toward a minimum pitch position. A clutch can co-rotate with a motor to serve in transferring the actuation force to reduce the adjustable pitch and can slip relative to the actuator shaft assembly responsive to an application of a counterforce applied by the pilot to the collective control such that the counterforce overcomes the actuation force.
    Type: Application
    Filed: September 20, 2018
    Publication date: May 2, 2019
    Inventors: John E. Mercer, Mark H. Marvin
  • 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: 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
  • Publication number: 20190048711
    Abstract: A boring tool that is moved by a drill string to form an underground bore. A transmitter transmits a time varying dipole field as a homing field from the boring tool. A pitch sensor detects a pitch orientation of the boring tool. A homing receiver is positionable at a target location for detecting the homing field to produce a set of flux measurements. A processing arrangement uses the pitch orientation and flux measurements with a determined length of the drill string to determine a vertical homing command for use in controlling depth in directing the boring tool to the target location such that the vertical homing command is generated with a particular accuracy at a given range between the transmitter and the homing receiver and which would otherwise be generated with the particular accuracy for a standard range, different from the particular range. An associated system and method are described.
    Type: Application
    Filed: October 15, 2018
    Publication date: February 14, 2019
    Inventors: Guenter W. Brune, John E. Mercer, Albert W. Chau
  • Publication number: 20190033480
    Abstract: Discriminating between a cable locating signal and a false cable locating signal is described. A reference signal, which contains a locating signal frequency impressed on it, is transmitted in a way which provides for detection of a phase shift between the locating signal and the false locating signal. Based on the phase shift, a receiver is used to distinguish the locating signal from the false locating signal.
    Type: Application
    Filed: September 15, 2018
    Publication date: January 31, 2019
    Inventors: John E. Mercer, Albert W. Chau
  • Publication number: 20190024502
    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: Application
    Filed: September 24, 2018
    Publication date: January 24, 2019
    Inventors: Guenter W. Brune, Albert W. Chau, John E. Mercer