Electromechanical Design and Development of the Virginia Tech Roller Rig Testing Facility for Wheel-rail Contact Mechanics and Dynamics
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The electromechanical design and development of a sophisticated roller rig testing facility at the Railway Technologies Laboratory (RTL) of Virginia Polytechnic and State University (VT) is presented. The VT Roller Rig is intended for studying the complex dynamics and mechanics at the wheel-rail interface of railway vehicles in a controlled laboratory environment. Such measurements require excellent powering and driving architecture, high-performance motion control, accurate measurements, and relatively noise-free data acquisition systems. It is critical to accurately control the relative dynamics and positioning of rotating bodies to emulate field conditions. To measure the contact forces and moments, special care must be taken to ensure any noise, such as mechanical vibration, electrical crosstalk, and electromagnetic interference (EMI) are kept to a minimum. This document describes the steps towards design and development of all electromechanical subsystems of the VT Roller Rig, including the powertrain, power electronics, motion control systems, sensors, data acquisition units, safety and monitoring circuits, and general practices followed for satisfying the local and international codes of practice. The VT Roller Rig is comprised of a wheel and a roller in a vertical configuration that simulate the single-wheel/rail interaction in one-fourth scale. The roller is five times larger than the scaled wheel to keep the contact patch distortion that is inevitable with a roller rig to a minimum. This setup is driven by two independent AC servo motors that control the velocity of the wheel and roller using state-of-the-art motion control technologies. Six linear actuators allow for adjusting the simulated load, wheel angle of attack, rail cant, and lateral position of the wheel on the rail. All motion controls are performed using digital servo drives, manufactured by Kollmorgen, VA, USA. A number of sensors measure the contact patch parameters including force, torque, displacement, rotation, speed, acceleration, and contact patch geometry. A unified communication protocol between the actuators and sensors minimizes data conversion time, which allows for servo update rates of up to 48kHz. This provides an unmatched bandwidth for performing various dynamics, vibrations, and transient tests, as well as static steady-state conditions. The VT Roller Rig has been debugged and commissioned successfully. The hardware and software components are tested both individually and within the system. The VT Roller Rig can control the creepage within 0.3RPM of the commanded value, while actively controlling the relative position of the rotating bodies with an unprecedented level of accuracy, no more than 16nm of the target location. The contact force measurement dynamometers can dynamically capture the contact forces to within 13.6N accuracy, for up to 10kN. The instantaneous torque in each driveline can be measured with better than 6.1Nm resolution. The VT Roller Rig Motion Programming Interface (MPI) is highly flexible for both programmers and non-programmers. All common motion control algorithms in the servo motion industry have been successfully implemented on the Rig. The VT Roller Rig MPI accepts third party motion algorithms in C, C++, and any .Net language. It successfully communicates with other design and analytics software such as Matlab, Simulink, and LabVIEW for performing custom-designed routines. It also provides the infrastructure for linking the Rig's hardware with commercial multibody dynamics software such as Simpack, NUCARS, and Vampire, which is a milestone for hardware-in-the-loop testing of railroad systems.
- Doctoral Dissertations