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Airfield Lighting
Constant Current Regulator
Control Systems

Stephen J. Korski
Honeywell Airport Systems
25-760 Pacific Road
Oakville, ON L6L 6M5

1 Abstract
The Constant Current Regulator (CCR) is well established as a reliable and necessary
element of airport lighting circuits. The control of CCRs has evolved from hard-wired relay
logic and pushbutton panels to fully distributed digital control systems linked through
communication networks to multiple touchscreen computers. This paper briefly reviews the
evolutionary process, and discusses the various means of control systems available today.

2 Introduction
The original remote control systems developed for operation of airfield lighting equipment are
with pushbutton panels and electromechanical relays. Relay control systems remain a
popular and low cost option for many installations.

With the general acceptance of the Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) as a means of
controlling airfield lighting, many modern upgrade solutions include this option.

Recent developments with Digital Control Units (DCU) featuring the use of Digital Signal
Processors (DSP) and serial interface connectivity provide an extremely accurate and reliable
control system with advanced features. The DCU can be installed as an integral part of a
new CCR control system, or placed into existing lighting equipment as a control interface.

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3 Relay Control Systems
Control systems based on electromechanical or solid state relays are used for a wide range
of applications. A considerable number of airfield control towers rely on pushbutton or
selector switch panels for operation of the lighting circuits from the constant current regulator
(CCR) vault.

The relay and pushbutton panels form a hard-wired system that, while reasonably reliable,
have some disadvantages. Changes can be made to these relay control systems, but
generally in a limited fashion. The hardware originally installed, and the wiring connections to
the regulator vault do not provide a great deal of flexibility for making modifications or
installing additional equipment.

The ability to configure the tower control panels for multiple mode selections using a single
switch or selector is either very limited or not possible. For example, with more advanced
processor based control systems, selecting an approach direction from a single button
command can automatically select all associated guidance, approach, runway and taxi

A major disadvantage of the relay control systems is that information on the status of the
lighting circuits or the power equipment is extremely limited or in many cases nonexistent.
Any problems with a lighting circuit or tolerance variations with the power equipment is made
obvious only when the equipment fails to function. Advance notice of a degrading circuit
condition with status alarms is not available. It is virtually impossible to install advanced
features such as lamp outage monitoring, automatic megger circuits, single lamp control or
Surface Movement Guidance Control Systems (SMGCS).

Older and more elaborate systems, with a number of multi-conductor control cables and
termination points, can be difficult to work with due to undocumented changes over the years.

3.1 Relay Control Advantages
Good reliability
Lowest hardware installation cost
Low learning curve for maintenance personnel
Easy to troubleshoot, can be done with a standard multimeter
3.2 Relay Control Disadvantages
Difficult to add control functions
Difficult or impossible to group menu control functions
Can have problems with voltage drop on long control wire runs
Service cost dependent on parts availability for legacy installations
Multiple remote wiring interconnections create many potential failure points
Lack of warning, alarm or logging functions for operations and maintenance
Inability to include or add advanced features such as automatic megger, etc.
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4 PLC Control Systems
The programmable controller, originally known as a PC, was developed by Bedford
Associates in 1968 and 1969. This was in direct response to a request from the North
American automotive industry.

Dedicated processors or embedded controllers for industrial manufacturing systems were
available, but numerical control (NC) and computer numerical control (CNC) units were used
exclusively for high-speed position control, generally for precision machining and milling. The
first programmable controllers made sequence control available for the first time.

Prior to the development of the programmable controller, changes to automotive production
lines included the wholesale replacement of large and complex rotating cam switch or
electromechanical relay control panels with their associated wiring and remote limit switch
connections. In many cases, it was found to be more efficient and productive to throw away
existing relay panels and replace them with new, rather than attempt to modify or rework

Once tested and proven to be effective, Bedford Associates began production of the
programmable controller as a direct replacement for relay logic under the Modicon name. As
the 84
engineering project of the firm, the first programmable controller was given the model
number Modicon 084.

Early Modicon Programmable Controller

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Because of their intended use with industrial environments, PLCs are specifically designed
and packaged for reliable operation with high levels of electrical noise, vibration and
temperature. In addition to this, the more advanced models from numerous manufacturers
are generally with a life expectancy of greater than twenty years.

A major advantage of the PLC is that all programming is done with ladder logic. While this
may not appear very friendly to some users, it is much easier to learn and to understand
when compared to original computer programming languages such as FORTRAN or BASIC.
Input and output wiring to PLC modules is with a fixed program address and associated
physical connection, greatly improving the ability to trace, test or troubleshoot any system.

4.1 PLC Control Advantages
Stable program and memory, not affected by power loss
Medium hardware installation cost, more expensive than relays
Troubleshooting, if program is understood, can be with a multimeter
Readily connect to other processors or computers with suitable interfaces
Flexible, can be readily changed or modified locally or from a remote office
Programmed with easily understood ladder logic, many advanced functions
Open architecture, developed ladder logic is accessible and not proprietary
Extremely reliable, able to function in harsh industrial environments with long life

4.2 PLC Control Disadvantages
Considerable experience needed to develop fast and effective programs
Depending on the project, input and output wiring connections can be congested

PLC Note
With a reasonable cost, and the increasing popularity of personal computers in the early
1980s, there was some confusion as to the distinction between a PC for controlling
industrial machinery and one for word processing or drafting. While the term Programmable
Logic Controller (PLC) is a registered trademark of the Allen-Bradley company, it has
become a generic description for the programmable controller.
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5 PLC Control Solutions
PLC control systems are more economical and effective if available as an engineered design
solution. This is where the number of inputs and outputs, the basic control functionality and
the number of devices that can be controlled or monitored are predetermined, at least to a
large extent.

A packaged PLC control solution for an Airfield Lighting Control and Monitoring System
(ALCMS) will generally be with a specific type of PLC processor, input and output modules,
and the operator interface. The operator interface is most suitable with a touchscreen
computer for improved ergonomics and positive control action. The nature and type of
feedback to the touchscreen computer to verify a selected control action must also be
considered, as well as selected alarming.

The feedback to verify a control action, and to annunciate alarm messages must be
developed with a hierarchy that will provide the necessary information, but not become a
nuisance or needlessly obtrusive. For example, a never-ending stream of nuisance status
alarms while equipment remains operational will soon result in all alarms being fully ignored.

With a more advanced system, and multiple control locations, alarms can be separated into
those most pertinent for operations and maintenance personnel. Operations personnel must
be aware of whether the constant current regulators and associated equipment is ready for
service, and if there has been a lack of control action or a failure. Maintenance personnel
appreciate more detailed information, such as regulator output current deviations with a
particular brightness step.

This does not preclude the need for customizing either control actions or screen displays, but
does provide a package where most of the development or technical concerns have been
addressed. For example, standard drawings and operation/maintenance manuals can be
developed that will support virtually any installation. Additional information for a project can
then be included in the form of site-specific termination drawings, and any customized display
screens for the control computers.

This permits comprehensive PLC programs to be developed and tested before the system is
installed at a particular site. The designed control solution is then configured to that site
primarily with changes to the Human Machine Interface (HMI) graphic screens and text

These types of systems are available from a number of vendors, but as with any industry,
airfield lighting control is with detailed and specific needs.

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5.1 Design Elements
PLC hardware installed and wired as close as possible to vault location
Only communication lines with either copper or fiber connect to the tower computer
Availability of dual redundant communication lines if necessary, with bumpless transfer
on a line failure
Networking capability needed for larger systems to permit installation of a
maintenance computer or other remote display and control connections
Dial-up connection or availability is desirable, to permit remote troubleshooting,
configuration changes and updates
Data transfer rates must be fast and reliable, control functions and feedback to the
operator must be without any appreciable delays
System must be designed so that key functions can be modified, changed or
configured directly through the remote HMI without PLC programming changes
Particular attention is needed with the design and layout of the graphical screen
displays to minimize error potential and to maximize ergonomics
As much as possible, functions are programmable with a graphical user interface so
that a single control action can remap or reconfigure multiple lighting circuits

6 Personal Computer (PC) Solutions
The use of PCs in place of PLCs is outside the scope of this paper, but still deserving of an
explanatory note. There are a number of software programs available for use with a PC that
are capable of emulating the processing capabilities of a PLC, and of connection with a
suitable communication scheme to external input/output modules.

The personal opinion of the author is that while the use of PC control is certainly feasible, it
does not have any inherent advantages over a PLC system, with the possible exception of a
reduced package price.

The disadvantage of PC control, as verified by anyone who has lost computer information
due to an operating system or hard drive failure, is the decreased reliability as compared to
PLC hardware.

From recent history, PCs and various operation systems have an expected lifespan of only a
few years, and then must be updated or completely replaced several times in the expected
twenty-year lifespan of the ALCMS.

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7 ALCMS Solutions
Through an evolutionary process, a number of engineered solutions for the control and
monitoring of airfield lighting have been developed. While any system can be customized to
suit specific requirements, virtually any airfield can be controlled with a tested and existing
design with little change or modification. These proven designs are packaged as an Airfield
Lighting Control and Monitoring System (ALCMS) with capabilities to suit all requirements.

For purposes of discussion, this paper is with consideration for three different control
systems. These are for smaller airfields, larger systems with dual and/or redundant
communication systems, and full-featured distributed control schemes.
7.1 ALCMS Evolution
1970: Control systems with relays and pushbutton operator interface panels
1988: PLCs replace relays, hardwired pushbuttons remain as operator interface
1995: Touchscreen replaces the pushbutton panels, integrating directly with PLC
1998: PC technology with Microsoft Windows systems merge with control markets
1999: Ethernet communication technology becomes viable in industrial applications
2000: Focus moves from custom to standardized system design and implementation
2003: Digital control provides direct communication to CCRs and other field devices

7.2 ALCMS Design Elements
PLCs specified for continuous trouble-free operation
Redundant computers increase reliability of PC technology
Use Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) hardware and software
Use industrial grade components for all critical control functions
Offer PLC and PC based technologies to meet site preferences
Failure of a control or monitor computer does not affect operation of system
Provide redundancy for Human Machine Interface (HMI) and control computers

7.3 Operator Interface Criteria
Intuitive operation
Superior graphics capabilities
Configurable by site personnel
Requires minimal training for ATC
Simple to understand operator interface
Automated functions minimize ATC workload
Can be reconfigured online by site personnel (no programming)
Provides simultaneous or selective control capability from all locations

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7.4 Small Airport ALCMS
For smaller airports, with a maximum of approximately eight to ten regulators, a PLC based
control system will include digital inputs and outputs only. In order to keep the package price
as low as possible, there will not generally be any provision for analog connections. With a
packaged control system, the control interface is best suited with a touchscreen computer
using Windows CE as an operating system.

The touchscreen computers with Windows CE are selected because the operating system is
stored with static memory, increasing the reliability over a conventional computer hard drive.
The developed HMI project for the control of the regulators is loaded and/or updated with a
digital camera type Flash RAM module. The Flash RAM can be easily inserted or removed to
update the project, or for moving the project to a different compatible computer.

This type of package does not offer advanced communication schemes, or multiple control
locations. The data connection between the PLC and the Tower computer, to reduce the
overall cost, is best suited with a standard RS-232 serial data line. The RS-232 wiring
connections can be extended from the vault to the control location with short-haul hard-wired
modems, and can communicate with good reliability at a speed up to 19.2 Kbps.

The point-to-point wiring (with three or four conductors) from the vault to the Tower can quite
often be with existing control wiring that is no longer needed once the ALCMS is installed. If
desired, the RS-232 communication network can be replaced with Ethernet, but with an
increase in hardware costs.

For maintenance purposes or troubleshooting, the touchscreen computer from the Tower, or
an identical spare, can be directly connected to the PLC at the vault location. This allows
maintenance personnel to operate and test all functions locally to resolve any problems.

The smaller PLC system is intended to be a pushbutton panel and control relay replacement
for smaller to medium airfields or heliports. The basic configuration of the control system for
failsafe operation of regulators, grouping control commands etc. can be accomplished directly
through the HMI without any PLC programming changes.

Low cost control system
High reliability, no moving parts
PLC based, non-distributed control
Limited monitoring, circuit on/off only
Designed to replace L821 pushbutton panels
RS232 or Ethernet serial data communication
12 or 15 LCD Touchscreen interface with Windows CE
Exclusively off-the-shelf hardware and software components

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7.5 Medium to Large Airport ALCMS
The PLC system for a medium to large airport is with a different focus from the smaller
systems. There are no practical limitations on the number of analog or digital input/output
modules, as additional connections are accommodated with extra hardware. This can be
with additional PLCs and/or remote adapters at suitable locations.

The size and type of PLC used will generally be with a more advanced model that can
directly support Ethernet communications and the connection of additional input/output
modules. The PLC and the HMI interface program can be developed ahead of time, with
some customization for a particular project. This would include display screens suited to the
site, as well as any requested control actions beyond the developed features.

While a greater level of customization is needed, the developed system relies on a PLC and
HMI program developed with an exclusionary approach. Rather than having to include
additional functionality, the commands and features that are not needed are removed from
the developed system.

Because of the size, complexity and capabilities of the HMI program, a computer with a hard
drive is now necessary. The touchscreen, either separate or integral to the computer is still
desirable, but Flash RAM is not currently economically available to store the programs and
log files.

One of the key features of this system is with the type of communication scheme that is used.
In addition to the PLC and HMI functionality, this type of system provides redundant Ethernet
communication using redundant fiber optic and wireless radio hardware. The failure of a
communication line for any reason is with a bumpless transfer to the backup line, and
suitable alarming of the line fault.

The addition of Ethernet radio communications provides a third means of control to the Tower
location. In the event of a complete failure of the redundant Ethernet fiber network, the radio
system maintains full control capabilities. The system allows for operation from multiple
locations, and will generally include a dedicated maintenance computer at the vault location.

The medium to large PLC control package with the dual redundant Ethernet communication
scheme, as well as the radio backup, is well suited for applications where the control of the
airfield lighting equipment cannot be lost or interrupted. As with the smaller control system, a
considerable number of control changes such as regulator assignment to a specific circuit,
failsafe brightness steps, regulators on/off line etc. can be done through the HMI and
Tower/Vault computer without any PLC programming changes.

High reliability
PLC based, non-distributed control
Redundant Ethernet fiber & radio backup communication
15 to 21 LCD Touchscreen interface using Windows 2000
Exclusively off-the-shelf hardware and software components

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7.6 Distributed ALCMS
The most advanced system for airfield lighting is with a distributed control and monitoring
system. Redundant Ethernet communication using fiber optic and wireless radio
technologies is standard, allowing operation from the Air Traffic Control Tower, Flight Service
Station (FSS), Electrical Vaults, Maintenance Facility and Operations Center. The system is
intended for use with medium to large airfields where the benefits of a distributed control
structure are needed or desirable. The distributed control architecture is suitable for use with
either PLC or PC hardware solutions.

With a distributed control system, each device such as a constant current regulator (CCR) is
given a node address. The address is then used for all control and monitoring
communications to the CCR. Dependent on the monitoring hardware installed inside the
CCR cell, a considerable amount of data is available on the status and operational
parameters of the regulator. The communication scheme can be with a number of different
protocols to suit the site location, or to interface with any existing communication networks.

While a PLC or PC is still included as part of the installed hardware, there are limited
input/output connections. This is because the distributed control is only possible with a
dedicated digital processor installed at every control location, including the CCRs and any
other lighting equipment such as circuit selector switches.

With a distributed control system, the PLC or PC becomes the gateway between the control
locations and the controlled equipment. With a suitable control program, the PLC or PC can
provide additional alarming capability and supplementary calculations for the individual digital

Additional CCRs can be readily installed and added to the communication network simply by
adding another node to the system.

Redundant networks available
Network cabling minimizes wiring
Distributed control with processors at each CCR
Ethernet, Profibus, Interbus, DF1 and other protocols
Redundant Ethernet fiber and radio backup communication
15 to 21 LCD Touchscreen interface using Windows 2000
Additional features available, such as lamp outage & power monitoring

As with the smaller and medium to large systems, the distributed control system can be
configured directly through the HMI without program changes.

At the digital processor level, and with the connection of additional hardware, advanced
monitoring features can be provided. The more significant of these are the lamp outage
monitoring and insulation resistance monitoring system (IRMS).
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7.6.1 Lamp Outage Monitoring
Lamp outage monitoring is not practical with a PLC as the processing speed and resolution of
the lighting circuit output voltage and current signals is beyond a PLCs capabilities. With the
installation of a suitable CCR output current transformer (CT) and potential transformer (PT),
the analog signals are connected to the digital processor through analog to digital (A/D)
converters. The signals are then used to determine the status of the lamps connected to the
airfield lighting circuit.

The system is based on the fact that any airfield lighting circuit with good lamps connected to
the secondary side of the isolation transformers is essentially resistive in nature. An open
secondary, however, will be seen as largely inductive, and the phase shift can be readily
7.6.2 Insulation Resistance Monitoring System (IRMS)
The IRMS system is used for measuring the resistance of the airfield lighting cables with a
true earth ground reference. Ideally, the system will provide an analog signal in relation to
the measured resistance value, rather than using a separate hardware device with alarm
contacts only.

In its basic form, the IRMS includes a dedicated power supply, a resistor network and a filter
circuit for the analog signal. Most systems will use a power supply of either 500 VDC or
1,000 VDC; but at a low power value of approximately one or two watts. The maximum
current level of the monitoring system is limited to less than 5 mA on the field circuit for
personnel safety.

For purposes of discussion, consider a filter circuit with an input impedance of 10K Ohm, with
one side connected to earth ground. Connection is made to one side of the airfield lighting
circuit through resistors connected in series for a total of 1,000K Ohm. The power supply is
installed between the filter circuit input and the series resistors. With a 500 VDC power
supply, the maximum filter input signal is:

10K Ohm X 500 VDC = 5 VDC
1,000K Ohm

With a fully grounded airfield lighting cable, there will be a maximum 5 VDC input signal to
the filter circuit. Without any ground(s) on the lighting cable, the input signal is pulled down to
0 VDC. The accuracy of the circuit is dependent on a calibration routine using precision high-
value resistors, and the resolution of the A/D converter to the digital processor. The
percentage of accuracy is reduced when the input signals drops down to tenths or
hundredths of a volt, closer to the noise threshold.

Insulation resistance can be measured with the CCR in an off state or while in service, as the
IRMS DC signal is transparent to the AC lighting circuit. With a suitable control program, the
IRMS tests can be performed on a scheduled basis, and coordinated with any circuit selector
switches fed from a CCR so that all circuits are included.

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7.6.3 Lamp Outage & IRMS Benefits
It could certainly be argued that lamp outage and IRMS functions can be performed by
maintenance personnel. The benefits of including these features with an airfield lighting
control system, if the original capital expenditures can be justified, are numerous.

All tests are performed in a predictable and repeatable manner
Tests can be performed independent of any workforce schedules
All test values are recorded, and include alarms on trending or fixed values
System integrity and accuracy can be verified with annual calibration routines
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8 Digital Control
Control of CCRs, until quite recently, has been with analog amplifier circuits. While these
have provided reliable and reasonably accurate control for years, there are a few

8.1 Analog Control
Settings can deviate or drift with time
All adjustments and settings are done manually
High degree of skill and experience needed for proper setup
Advanced features are either not available, or difficult to implement
Diagnostic aids, setup help, additional information or prompts are not available

The benefits of a true digital process controller have long been realized, but until the
development of the microprocessor have not been feasible. The major advantage of a digital
controller is the ability to readily communicate with other devices or computers, and the high
level of performance that can be provided.

The performance of a digital controller is much greater than any analog type because of the
extreme accuracy of the processing function, and the increased complexity that the control
function can provide.

Overall control of a process can be with accuracies of better than 0.1%. The limiting factor
on overall system performance is with any analog to digital (A/D) or digital to analog (D/A)
converters that are used. Because of their analog design, the same type of errors with
analog controls can be experienced with these devices.

There is considerable responsibility placed on the developers of digital controllers to ensure
that the firmware program used is properly and thoroughly tested, and customized to the
process being controlled. Once the firmware program is completed and stored on the digital
processor, the only changes that can be made are those allowed by the developer.

These are generally limited to calibration or configuration options. The process control for the
CCR output current, for example, cannot be modified; nor should it need to be.
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9 Digital Control Unit
A Digital Control Unit (DCU) is a packaged system that relies on the accuracy and advanced
features that are available with a Digital Signal Processor (DSP). A number of suppliers have
developed a DCU specifically for the control and monitoring of a CCR, whether a
Ferroresonant or SCR type. Regardless of the supplier, an effective DCU package will have
the following key elements.

Power supply for all circuit boards
Processor circuit board with DSP and static memory
Digital input circuit board
Digital output circuit board
Alphanumeric display, integrated with keypad for operation
For ease of maintenance, all circuit boards should be with a plug-in design

A typical DCU with integral display and membrane keypad is shown below.

1. The first line of the display below details the operation of the CCR in Local mode. The
ok status indicates normal operation, without any faults. The 7h indicates a total of
7 hours Local operation.
2. The second display line is with the CCR in operation at B5, and with a total of 7 hours
at that step.
3. The third line displays the output current level of 6.60A.
4. The fourth display line, with the CCR in operation, is with the first two buttons available
for changing the output current down or up. With the CCR already at B5, in this case
only the down button will function. The MENU button allows additional display values
to be selected.
5. Depending on whether the CCR is in operation or being configured or calibrated, the
function assignment of the four buttons will change accordingly.

DCU Integrated Display & Control Panel
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9.1 DCU Features
The DCU provides advanced features and benefits for the local or remote control of a CCR.
All analog measured values are converted instantaneously to digital codes and processed
using a custom algorithm designed and optimized for use with CCRs. The operational data,
the status of the CCR and measured values can be monitored on a display with 4 rows of
text, 20 characters each.

All settings, adjustments, configuration and calibration functions are done digitally using the
integrated display and function keys. The user is guided through all menus by means of clear
instructions on the display.

A numeric password is used to access these functions and to prevent unauthorized changes.
The configuration and calibration values that are developed or changed are stored with an
Electrically Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory (EEPROM).

The contents of the EEPROM can also be stored or transferred to a removable cartridge.
The cartridge, with 256KB memory, allows any CCR configuration to be stored and easily
read into a different regulator.
9.2 Analog vs. Digital Control
There are considerable advantages with a digital control for the operation of CCRs. A
number of these are covered with a few key points. Current Regulation
With analog control, the overall accuracy of the output current regulation is dependent
on matched analog components. Regardless of the analog design, thermal drift of
components and long-term drift will decrease the accuracy over time. Even with an
effective design, it is generally recommended that a full calibration and inspection be
performed at least once per year.

With a DCU, the accuracy is determined by the firmware parameters, and by the
accuracy of the A/D or D/A converters that are used. There is no thermal or long-term
drift, and no affect on the output accuracy as the firmware algorithms remain
unchanged. Output Current Adjustment
The adjustment of output current with analog control is generally with potentiometers.
The proper setting of the output levels is highly dependent on the workmanship and
the skill and training level of maintenance personnel. Long-term stability can only be
ensured with an effective preventive maintenance program.

The DCU allows output currents to be selected with the use of up/down function keys.
A CCR can be changed from a 3 step to a 5 step simply by selecting the appropriate
configuration from a displayed menu.

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9.3 Additional DCU Features
The DCU includes a number of standard display and control features.
CCR off/on
Power supply OK
CCR local/remote
Open circuit alarm
Overcurrent alarm
Status of CCR (OK, Failure)
Output current & brightness step

The FAA specification for L-827 monitoring with an L-829 CCR is readily available for new or
existing DCU systems with a memory cartridge software upgrade, as long as the CCR is
fitted with a suitable output CT and PT. The L-827 monitoring system includes the following.
Lamp failure warning and alarm (two settings)
Number of failed lamps
Additional warning & alarm output relays
Input voltage, current & power measurement
Output voltage and power measurement

With additional hardware, the following optional items can be provided. These advanced
features can be installed at any time, either with the original installation or at a later date.
Insulation measurement warning and alarm (two settings)
Insulation resistance value
Serial I/O communication board, for distributed control through Ethernet or other
popular protocols
Single Lamp Control & Monitoring (SLCM) using power line carrier or serial
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Redundant Ethernet Configuration
Redundant Ethernet Configuration
Switch Switch
10 Distributed Control for CCRs
Distributed control, while available as a PLC and dedicated processor solution (as detailed
with Section 7.6 Distributed ALCMS) can also be included as an integral part of any CCR that
is controlled with a DCU. This is achieved with the installation of a Serial Input Output (I/O)
card into the rack of the DCU.

The Serial I/O card is designed with built-in dual Ethernet ports. This allows full control and
monitoring communication with the CCR through an Internet Protocol (IP) address. The
Ethernet serial communication protocol provides reliable, high-speed access using standard
hardware components.

With an electrical vault location, a PLC or PC with Ethernet capability may still be needed to
act as a central information processor. The PLC can also provide additional connectivity to
other Ethernet devices, or to a maintenance and/or tower computer for control/display

While the DCU itself will annunciate or alarm on critical faults, a PLC or PC program can
provide additional configuration options such as alarm filtering and alarms based on
calculations from the CCR input or output current and voltage values.

With a fully distributed control scheme, the processing capability of the entire system is with
increased reliability. The failure of a single CCR will not affect the rest of the communication

With local processing at each CCR, an intelligent failsafe program can be implemented. If
there is a communication failure to a specific CCR, a user configurable default control action
is triggered. This can be with the CCR being turned off, or on at a specific brightness step.

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10.1 Serial I/O Communication Card
The availability of a Serial I/O card that can be readily installed into a new or existing DCU
controlled CCR provides a number of features and benefits.

1. Built in functions provide a reliable and economical distributed control system.

2. Dual communication ports are ideal for redundant configurations, and provide
increased reliability.

3. High level serial communication provides sophisticated technical monitoring and
control capabilities.

4. Other communication protocols can be used with the addition of plug-in cards.

5. Failsafe functionality installed directly at each CCR or control point.

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11 Airfield Lighting Distributed Control
With the availability of the Serial I/O card, additional control schemes for fully distributed
control of an entire airfield become possible.

While the Serial I/O card is intended for use with the DCU card cage, it can be powered with
24 VDC from a separate power supply. This is so the Serial I/O card can annunciate a loss
of power at the CCR along the communication network, but also allows for operation
independent of the DCU.

With this feature, the Serial I/O card can also be used with standalone applications. Along
with suitable and separate circuit boards, Analog I/O and Digital I/O functions can be readily
provided. With the companion analog and digital cards, a compact and economical package
can be installed to control virtually any type of power equipment.
Constant Current Regulators (of any type or manufacture)
L-847 Circuit Selector Switches
Rotating Beacons
Runway Guard Light Control Panels
Stop Bar Control Panels

The communication network can include any combination of fiber optic lines, copper wire
control cables and wireless radio modems.
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12 Summary
The combination of CCRs with digital controls, and the availability of a standalone digital
control package for virtually any other device provides a number of comprehensive options
for a high speed distributed control structure.

1. With a new installation for an airfield lighting vault, the Serial I/O card can be included
with the DCU of each CCR. The CCRs, connected with standard CAT 5 Ethernet
cables, can provide a comprehensive data stream of all operational parameters to
multiple control locations.

Any other devices such as L-847 circuit selectors can also be controlled and monitored
with the standalone digital control package.

2. For existing installations where new CCRs cannot be economically justified,
installation of the standalone digital control package into all CCRs and other devices
can provide all the benefits of the distributed control structure.

3. With compatible CCRs, an upgrade kit can be provided that will replace the electronic
components and controls with a new regulator door. When any door is upgraded, the
Serial I/O card from the standalone package can be recycled directly into the DCU
card cage.

4. The addition of lamp outage monitoring and insulation resistance monitoring systems
can be of considerable benefit to maintenance personnel. In place of an aggressive
preventive maintenance program, the control system can be relied upon to record and
annunciate not only system faults, but a degrading circuit condition as well.

While these functions can be added to any system, they are ideally suited for use with
the DCU, and can be selectively implemented with hardware and software upgrades.

October 16, 2003