Spectra shoehorned into conversion Caravan

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Spectra shoehorned into conversion Caravan

Postby Bill_G » Thu Feb 17, 2011 6:22 am

We are working on 14 wheelchair conversion vans. Had to fab an adjustable mount for the control head and handset, and then shoehorn the radio and brains under the drivers seat.

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Re: Spectra shoehorned into conversion Caravan

Postby KE7JFF » Fri Feb 18, 2011 2:14 pm

Bill I like your work! I saw your handywork on WES the other day as well.
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Re: Spectra shoehorned into conversion Caravan

Postby Bill_G » Sat Feb 19, 2011 7:59 am

Thanks. It was an interesting challenge. The ride service wanted the passenger seat area available for a wheelchair. The maintenance dept wanted access to the center console where the relay and interlock panel is hidden behind the lower plastic facade. The operators wanted arms length reach to the control head without obstruction of the dash controls and cup holders. Safety wanted no obstruction of the airbags or windshield. The cleaning crew didn't want to worry about fluids on the floor destroying equipment. Nobody wanted it to wobble. And I wanted to be able to service it.

It went through three or twelve iterations as we slowly zero'd in on the final design. The adjustable pedestal is a chopped Gamber-Johnson mount with a McGuivered two axis cellphone mount welded to a piece of tubular steel captured under the seat bolts. At least eight different people contributed to the concept. Their patience, expertise, and great willingness to work the problem led to the finished product.
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Re: Spectra shoehorned into conversion Caravan

Postby davkenrem » Thu Mar 10, 2011 1:55 am

What kind of control head is that? I've never seen one before?
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Re: Spectra shoehorned into conversion Caravan

Postby Bill_G » Thu Mar 10, 2011 6:33 am

That is a Type F head. It's part of a transportation management system (TMS) sold by Orbital Sciences / Raytheon in the early 90's. Essentially, it is a SCADA system with voice capability for buses.

The head is a modified point of sale machine (credit card box). It has a three line by twelve character LCD display, 6x4 keypad with menu tree (ie - keys bring up a menu of control functions or outbound canned messages to select and send; for example the red EMERG button brings up MEDICAL REQUESTED , POLICE REQUESTED, MENACING PERSON), and a card slot on the left side to insert a PCMCIA mem card with route and schedule information and trip event collection that is put in by each driver.

The head and radio are connected to a CPU box (also under the seat but not visible in the photos). The CPU communicates with a server in dispatch over the air via a 2400 baud FSK polled TDM protocol in a 10 channel 6 site non-simulcast UHF conventional trunking system. The doors, wheelchair lift, silent alarm button, passenger counter, and several other vehicle functions are also connected to the CPU. Depending on the vehicle type and vintage, there can be upwards of forty different connections for control and monitoring.

The CPU has an integrated GPS with differential correction info received as part of the overhead word on the control channel. As the bus progresses, its route and schedule adherence is tracked, recorded, and reported OTA. Events such as button presses, doors, lift deployed, or alarms are recorded. Depending on the severity, they may be sent to dispatch for display on their CAD. Emergencies are sent in immediately, but fare evasion is simply recorded. The CPU controls the signs and displays the appropriate route. It controls the automated stop announcements, the passenger counter, the DVR, and the traffic signal of the approaching intersection.

Each night the cards are uploaded, a report is generated, archived, and sent to the appropriate managers. They can look at overall on time performance and passenger on/off counts. Trip planners can determine the effects of road construction on schedules. They also know when and where ADA passengers get on and off so they can adjust for the increased dwell times. Security knows where fare evasion and abusive persons occur so they can deploy their personnel. Cleaning crews know where dirty shelters are observed. Maintenance can monitor the integrity of a bus. Over time they can capture trends which justify increasing or decreasing service on different routes at different times. It has reduced fuel consumption, fleet increases, and labor costs.

Not bad for a system based on a chip set similar to an old Atari game console.
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Re: Spectra shoehorned into conversion Caravan

Postby d119 » Mon Apr 25, 2011 8:42 pm

Bill_G wrote:That is a Type F head. It's part of a transportation management system (TMS) sold by Orbital Sciences / Raytheon in the early 90's. Essentially, it is a SCADA system with voice capability for buses.

The head is a modified point of sale machine (credit card box). It has a three line by twelve character LCD display, 6x4 keypad with menu tree (ie - keys bring up a menu of control functions or outbound canned messages to select and send; for example the red EMERG button brings up MEDICAL REQUESTED , POLICE REQUESTED, MENACING PERSON), and a card slot on the left side to insert a PCMCIA mem card with route and schedule information and trip event collection that is put in by each driver.

The head and radio are connected to a CPU box (also under the seat but not visible in the photos). The CPU communicates with a server in dispatch over the air via a 2400 baud FSK polled TDM protocol in a 10 channel 6 site non-simulcast UHF conventional trunking system. The doors, wheelchair lift, silent alarm button, passenger counter, and several other vehicle functions are also connected to the CPU. Depending on the vehicle type and vintage, there can be upwards of forty different connections for control and monitoring.

The CPU has an integrated GPS with differential correction info received as part of the overhead word on the control channel. As the bus progresses, its route and schedule adherence is tracked, recorded, and reported OTA. Events such as button presses, doors, lift deployed, or alarms are recorded. Depending on the severity, they may be sent to dispatch for display on their CAD. Emergencies are sent in immediately, but fare evasion is simply recorded. The CPU controls the signs and displays the appropriate route. It controls the automated stop announcements, the passenger counter, the DVR, and the traffic signal of the approaching intersection.

Each night the cards are uploaded, a report is generated, archived, and sent to the appropriate managers. They can look at overall on time performance and passenger on/off counts. Trip planners can determine the effects of road construction on schedules. They also know when and where ADA passengers get on and off so they can adjust for the increased dwell times. Security knows where fare evasion and abusive persons occur so they can deploy their personnel. Cleaning crews know where dirty shelters are observed. Maintenance can monitor the integrity of a bus. Over time they can capture trends which justify increasing or decreasing service on different routes at different times. It has reduced fuel consumption, fleet increases, and labor costs.

Not bad for a system based on a chip set similar to an old Atari game console.


I assume this system has the infamous RTT and PRTT buttons Orbital is so famous for?

And how are they handling traffic light control? Is it low-priority optical preemption (keep the light green if it already is by means of an IR emitter) or some other means?

Very interesting Bill. Would love to see more detailed photos of the system.

Oh, and what did you mean by "UHF Conventional Trunking". Did you mean Analog?
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Re: Spectra shoehorned into conversion Caravan

Postby Bill_G » Mon Apr 25, 2011 9:44 pm

Yep, they do. They have the RTT and PRTT buttons. Fairly common in transit and cab systems.

TSP uses an Opticom on the roof controlled by the OBIU based on the route card. If the light is green and within the ten second window before a yellow, it resets the clock back to ten seconds giving the bus time to cross the intersection. Only works in City of Portland system.

It's UHF analog quasi-trunking controlled by the individual dispatcher workstations. When one of them answers a RTT (or PRTT, or emergency, or silent alarm), it grabs the first available channel on the Centracom, and notifies the other workstations what is the next available channel for their use. They rotate through all seven voice channels in a round robin.

We're done with the Caravans. Now, we're working on 44 new lift buses, and after that we have some fixed route buses. Within two years it will all be replaced with a new Init / Tait solution which should be interesting to see how it works.
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Re: Spectra shoehorned into conversion Caravan

Postby KE7JFF » Wed Apr 27, 2011 8:23 am

Funny fact I learned from friends who work in transit shops elsewhere; the Type F head actually was designed to also handle fare collection as well! And apparently, one of the types of data it could send over the air was the fare box collected amount currently present.
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Re: Spectra shoehorned into conversion Caravan

Postby Bill_G » Wed Apr 27, 2011 10:54 am

The type F was originally dev'd as a point of sale device by QSI in Salt Lake. However, it is nothing more than a serial terminal based on a Hitachi chipset with a card reader. Orbital bolted it to their box to be used as the user interface. The fareboxes Trimet uses do not have any comm ports, and Trimet does not have the either the front end or the back end to process credit and debit cards, or electronic passes. It's on the wish list.
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Re: Spectra shoehorned into conversion Caravan

Postby KE7JFF » Sat Apr 30, 2011 12:34 am

Bill_G wrote:The type F was originally dev'd as a point of sale device by QSI in Salt Lake. However, it is nothing more than a serial terminal based on a Hitachi chipset with a card reader. Orbital bolted it to their box to be used as the user interface. The fareboxes Trimet uses do not have any comm ports, and Trimet does not have the either the front end or the back end to process credit and debit cards, or electronic passes. It's on the wish list.


Oh, no doubt that TriMet doesn't have the support for it. I'm sure if they did, that information would be overscrutinzed by management and what not as it comes in real time!

Though I've been told there is one transit system that does the "farebox status polling" feature and apparently its somewhere in Australia. Apparently, the driver for some reason, gets notified when such a request is sent to the type F control head.
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