The present invention relates to an electrical detection
unit for a railway telediagnostics system.
The electrical unit in question is advantageously
intended to be used in the railway sector in
telediagnostics systems of the type used for the
measurement, transmission and processing of electrical
parameters relating to the operation of apparatus (signal
devices, switching points, etc.) arranged along the
More precisely, the electrical unit in question is
intended to receive electrical parameters relating to
operation of the apparatus, measure these parameters and
transmit signals, relating to the measurements thus
obtained, to calculating and control groups.
At present, in accordance with the known art, the
detection of the electrical parameters to be measured and
the subsequent transfer of the information relating to
these measurements to calculating groups is performed by
means of the manual intervention of operators or by means
of automatic measuring devices.
More specifically, in the case of manual intervention,
the operator accesses the terminal blocks, which are
electrically connected to the apparatus and to the
signalling groups (known in the technical jargon of the
sector as signalling cabinets) and performs the
measurements of the electrical parameters by means of
measuring instruments such as testers and oscilloscopes.
The signalling groups perform functions relating to
control and operation of the electrical apparatus
provided along the line.
The measurements performed are then used to obtain
information relating to the operating condition of the
apparatus and consequently allow programming of the
maintenance operations to be performed.
It is obvious that the abovementioned system for manual
detection of the electrical parameters requires a
considerable amount of time in order for the assigned
personnel to carry out the measurements and does not
allow easy processing of the data obtained from these
In order to overcome the drawbacks associated with this
manual detection system, a second detection system has
been provided, said system making use, as mentioned
above, of automatic measuring devices.
According to this latter system, these automatic devices
are connected to specific terminals of the terminal
blocks depending on the relevant electrical parameters
which are to be measured in order to diagnose the
operation of a corresponding apparatus. The automatic
measuring devices are then directly connected to the data
storage units for processing of the measurements
This second detection system, although resulting in
operational improvements compared to the first system of
the manual type, in practice has some major drawbacks.
The main drawback lies in the fact that it envisages the
use of individual measuring devices for each electrical
parameter to be measured. This fact results in
considerable installation difficulties due to the wiring
of the individual devices for achieving the electrical
connections with the terminal blocks and with the data
Moreover, the electrical connections with the terminal
blocks are not altogether simple and do not allow rapid
installation of the measuring devices.
The main object of the present invention is therefore
that of overcoming the difficulties associated with the
systems of the known type for detecting and measuring
electrical parameters, by providing an electrical
detection unit for a railway telediagnostics system,
which is simple and easy to install and is able to
receive automatically electrical parameters relating to
the operation of apparatus arranged along the line,
measure these parameters and transmit the signals
relating to the measurements thus obtained to calculating
and control units.
A further object of the present invention is that of
providing an electrical unit which is constructionally
simple and operationally entirely reliable.
These and other objects are all achieved by the
electrical detection unit in question which is
operationally associated with a railway telediagnostics
system comprising a plurality of terminal blocks provided
with first and second terminals which can be connected
together in pairs by means of jumper plugs so as to
electrically connect electrical apparatus arranged along
the lines to signalling groups. In particular, the
electrical detection unit in question is characterized in
that it comprises a box-shaped body provided with at
least one receiving compartment inside which measuring
means electrically connected to the terminals are
inserted. This box-shaped body is characterized
moreover by the presence of electrical input connections
for electrically connecting the measuring means to the
first and the second terminals and electrical output
connections for electrically connecting the measuring
means to a data storage and processing unit.
The technical characteristics of the invention, in
accordance with the abovementioned objects, may be
clearly understood from the contents of the claims
indicated below and the advantages thereof will emerge
more clearly from the detailed description which follows,
with reference to the accompanying drawings which
illustrate a purely exemplary and non-limiting embodiment
thereof and in which:
- Figure 1 shows in schematic form an exploded view of
the detection unit according to the present invention,
which is associated with a terminal block and has some
parts removed so that others may be seen more clearly;
- Figure 1a shows an axonometric view of the detection
unit in question;
- Figure 2 shows a block diagram of the railway
telediagnostics system relating to the electrical
detection unit in question;
- Figure 3 shows in schematic form a front view of an
enlarged detail of the electrical detection unit in
question with some parts removed so that others may be
seen more clearly;
- Figure 4 shows a functional block diagram of a
measuring unit of the electrical unit, which is connected
to a data storage and processing unit.
In accordance with the Figures of the accompanying
drawings, 1 denotes in its entirety the electrical
detection unit for a railway telediagnostics system.
More particularly, the telediagnostics system is intended
for the measurement of electrical parameters relating to
the operation of apparatus 2 arranged along the railway
lines as well as the processing of these measurements in
order to determine the operating condition of the
apparatus and thus allow the programming of the
maintenance operations to be performed.
For this purpose, the abovementioned electrical unit 1 is
mounted within an already existing electrical system for
controlling and operating the actual electrical apparatus
More particularly, the electrical unit 1 is intended to
be mounted above a terminal block 3 which connects by
means of electrical connections 50 a corresponding single
apparatus 2 to a signalling group 4. This group 4 is
operationally used to operate and control the individual
apparatus 2, is generally arranged inside a special room
5 of a railway station and is operated, via work consoles
51, by a rail traffic supervisor belonging to the railway
staff (see Fig. 2).
The electrical apparatus 2 may, in particular, be formed
by a signal device, switching points, a binary track-circuit
for detecting the arrival of a train, or the
The terminal block 3 traditionally forms the interface
between the "outlying section" (i.e. all the apparatus 2
arranged along the line) and the "local section"
(consisting of the devices arranged inside the station)
of the electrical system for controlling and operating
the apparatus 2.
In greater detail, each individual terminal block 3 is
provided with first terminals 6 which are electrically
connected to the corresponding electrical apparatus 2 and
second terminals 7 which are electrically connected to
the signalling group 4.
These first and second terminals 6 and 7 are arranged in
two parallel rows and have removably engaged on them a
plurality of jumper plugs 8 which therefore connect in
pairs each first terminal 6 to a corresponding and
adjacent second terminal 7, so as to be able to connect
or disconnect electrically the electrical apparatus 2
to/from the signalling group (or groups) 4.
Therefore, the terminal blocks 3 constitute for the
electrical system controlling and operating the apparatus
2 a kind of switch which may be activated manually by
removing or inserting the jumper plugs 8 from/into the
corresponding pairs of terminals 6 and 7.
The terminal block 3 is connected electrically to the
apparatus 2 and to the signalling group 4 by means of
conductors 9 arranged transversely with respect to the
extension of the two rows of terminals 6 and 7.
The electrical detection unit 1 comprises a box-shaped
body 11 which defines a receiving compartment 12 inside
which measuring means 13 electrically connected to
specific pairs of terminals 6 and 7 for measuring
corresponding electrical parameters relating to operation
of the apparatus 2 are inserted.
In accordance with the example of embodiment shown in
Figures 1, 1a and 3, the box-shaped body 11 also has
electrical input connections 14 for electrically
connecting the measuring means 13 to the first and to the
second terminals 6 and 7 and electrical output
connections 15 for electrically connecting the measuring
means 13 to a data storage and processing unit 16
designed to receive signals indicating the electrical
measurements performed by the actual measuring means 13.
The measuring means 13 are organized in individual
measuring units 17, each of which is intended to measure
a single and specific electrical parameter of the
apparatus 2. This parameter may therefore consist,
depending on the electrical apparatus in question, of a
voltage (direct or alternating), a current (direct or
alternating), an electrical signal indicating that a
contact has occurred, etc.
In greater detail, the input connections 14 of the box-shaped
body 11 comprise measuring plugs 18 which can be
removably engaged onto the pairs of terminals 6 and 7 in
place of the corresponding jumper plugs 8 placed across
the said terminals 6 and 7.
In other words, when a given electrical detection unit 1
is installed above a terminal block 3 connected to a
specific apparatus 2, the jumper plugs 8 engaged on those
pairs of terminals 6 and 7 which receive the relevant
electrical parameters to be measured (for that specific
apparatus 2) are removed and the measuring plugs 18 which
allow the measuring means 13 to perform the desired
measurements are inserted in place of them.
Advantageously, therefore, each measuring unit 17 is
operationally associated with a specific measuring plug
18 which allows the detection and the measurement of a
specific electrical parameter.
The measuring plug 18 is advantageously composed (see
Fig. 1) of two first electrical connectors 19 consisting
of two elongated elements made of conducting material and
arranged parallel to each other inside a cover 20 made of
insulating material. These connectors 19 are
electrically connected together by means of an electrical
component 21 arranged transversely with respect to their
extension and embedded inside the cover 20.
This electrical component 21 identifies the specific
measurement which the measuring plug 18, on which it is
mounted, is intended to allow when it is connected to the
corresponding measuring unit 17.
In other words, depending on the electrical parameters of
an apparatus 2 which are to be measured, all the
corresponding measuring units 17, equipped with
corresponding measuring plugs 18, will be inserted inside
the corresponding electrical detection unit 1 (mounted on
the corresponding terminal block 3). Said measuring
plugs will in turn be provided with corresponding
electrical components (for example consisting of
resistances of predefined value or simple electrical
connections) and will be mounted on the terminals 6 and
7 intended to receive the electrical parameters to be
measured. Obviously, as explained above, these measuring
plugs 18 will be mounted on the terminal block 3 in place
of the pre-existing jumper plugs 8.
The first connectors 19 of the measuring plugs 18 have
first ends 22 which are inserted inside first holes 23
formed in the terminals 6 and 7 of the terminal block 3
and second ends 24 provided with second holes 25 for
receiving second electrical connectors 26 fixed on the
outside of a mating surface 27 of the box-shaped body 11
(see Fig. 3).
With reference to Figure 1a it can be noted that the
electrical detection unit 1 can be attached to the
terminal block 3 by fastening means 80 which may consist
for example of a metal bar 81 which is shaped so as to
match the external profile of the group formed by the
terminal block 3 and the electrical detection unit 1.
The bar 81 is therefore attached at the ends 82, 83 to a
support plate 84 by means of fixing screws 85 which pass
through the eyelets 86 formed in the terminal block 3.
Advantageously, in accordance with the example of
embodiment illustrated in Figures 1, 1a and 3, the box-shaped
body 11 is provided with a cover 40 which has a
plurality of openings 41 designed to allow insertion of
contact probes connected to electrical devices (for
example testers) for directly measuring the electrical
parameters of the apparatus 2. In other words, the unit
1 in question, although mounted on the terminal block 3,
still allows the contact probes to be electrically
connected to the terminals 6 and 7 of the terminal block
3. This is performed (see Fig. 3) by passing the probes
through an insulating sheath 43 until they come into
contact with the second electrical connectors 26 which
are electrically connected to the terminals 6 and 7 via
the measuring plugs 18. With reference to Fig. 3, the
insulating sheath 43 defines an insulated duct 60 which
is delimited at a first end 61 by the second electrical
connectors 26 and having the opening 41 at its second end
Figure 4 shows the example of a measuring unit 17 which
is designed to measure a direct voltage V between two
terminals 6 and is connected to a receiving unit 90 of
the data storage and processing unit 16 via the
electrical output connections 15.
For this purpose, the electrical component 21 of the
corresponding measuring plug 18 consists of a simple
In Figure 4, 28 denotes the input port consisting of two
terminals 6, and 29, 30 and 31 indicate, respectively, an
input stage of the electronic component group for
performing measurement, a signal amplifier
(advantageously an isolation amplifier) and a signal
transmitter (advantageously consisting of a current
Correspondingly, the data storage and processing unit 16
has a receiver 32, a signal filtering unit 33 and an
analog-digital signal converter 34.
The power supply of the input stage 29 of the voltage
measuring unit 17 is generated by a DC/DC converter 35
drawing on a supply 36 generated inside the data storage
and processing unit 16.
It should be noted that a characteristic common to all
the measuring units 17 (in accordance with the existing
regulations in the railway sector) is that of not
altering the normal operation of the apparatus 2 to be
diagnosed even when a measuring unit 17 may have a faulty
component. For this purpose, the impedance of the
measuring unit 17 at the input port must be high compared
to that at the same port for the circuits of the
apparatus 2. Moreover, again with the aim of not
altering operation of the apparatus 2, any faults must
not transfer energy to the apparatus 2 exceeding a
typical minimum threshold thereof.
In the specific case - not analyzed in detail here - that
the measuring unit is intended to measure a direct
current, the electrical component 21 will advantageously
consist of a resistance of known value (much smaller so
as to maintain a high input impedance), at the terminals
of which a voltage drop, thus corresponding to a current
measurement, will occur.
Operationally speaking, the telediagnostics system
mentioned above acquires the measurements relating to the
condition of the apparatus 2 by means of the electrical
detection units 1 and carries out initial processing of
the signals indicating these measurements by means of the
abovementioned storage and processing units 16 which
advantageously consist of industrial computers. The data
storage and processing units 16 then transmit the
processed information to a second computer 37 which
performs subsequent processing of said information aimed
at obtaining the data relating to operation of the
apparatus 2. Advantageously, this computer 37 may
consist of a server which receives the information from
the individual data storage units 16 and is connected to
a second computer 38 which is able to provide a graphics
interface for the measurements performed and operation of
the apparatus 2. The server 37 may also form part of a
computer network designed to allow analysis (in a special
operating and maintenance station) of extensive sections
of the railway network. In this way, from this station
it is possible to diagnose the condition of the line and
program the maintenance operations.