Actuation Test Equipment Company 

3393 Eddie Road

Winnebago, Illinois 61088

ph: (815) 335-1143

Fx: (302) 336-1143

Email: DudleyDevices@Aol.com

Actuation Test Equipment was started in July 1987 as a sole-proprietorship to contract manufacture custom electronic test equipment in Rockford Illinois. 

The ATE-1 first-item was a simple "PID Closed Loop Box" for controlling electro-hydraulic servovalves for aircraft gas turbine engine fuel control test stands.

These closed loops were used to control inlet flow at 1,600 psi at up to 40,000 pph, Compressor Discharge Pressures from 4 to 650 PSIA, inlet air temperature and drive speed up to 6,100 rpm.

(P6-Pb, usaing a converted aircraft P6 sensor sensor assembly) ,  , , a Proportional, Integral, Derivative (PID) closed loop controller.

The first application was in the B-1 Bomber fuel control environmental testing (aka: "dirt-test").

After this first successul use the ATE-1 closed loop controller design was accepted, and then it saw use in numerous test setups for cycling test parameters in environmental and screening tests for many other military and civilian aircraft fuel systems at Woodward Governor Company.

A version was requested for use in the Frequency Respone test rigs; a 19" rack assembly on wheels that is rolled up to a test stand, it's instrumentation is connected to the fuel control and test stand instrumentation and the dynamic performance of the mechanical PID closed loopgas turbine engine controller is measured using National Instruments LabView utilities.

The fuel contgrol is held "on the governor" by the ATE-4, the closed loop box specially designed for these test rigs by Actuation Test Equipment Company.

ATE-4_Closed_Loop_Box

Each of these rigs needs a Frequency to Voltage converter for drive speeds up to 7,000 RPM, measured using a 60-tooth gear with a magnetic pickup and a 10,000 Hz = 10V Frequency to voltage converter.

For test stand power closed loops A 0-1,500 Hz turbine meter signal for discharge fuel flow is read using an inductive pickup and a 2,500 Hz = 10V Frequency to voltage converter.

FtoV Converter     FtoV IndPu  

             Click here for FtoV Manual
                 ATE-7XX Frequency to Voltage Converters

The NorthHills frequency to voltage converters was used for converting frequency signals from magnetic pickup and toothed wheels on rotating shafts and inductive pickups for turbine meters to analog voltage signals proportional to frequency for dynamic analysis of aircraft fuel controls. When NorthHills was acquired by another company to obtain another of NorthHills' products, the Frequency to Voltage (FtoV) converters were discontinued. Woodward requested ATECo to acquire the documentation for the FtoV converters from NorthHills, and, "...while you're at it - also get Cox's turbine meter inductive pickoff signal conditioner circuit and combine them to make a complete solution for turbine meter signal conditioning.

In many cases, ATECo provided custom test equipment almost spontaneously as a temporary fix to meet the test engineer's immediate needs while the company's internal test equipment group was preparing a more formal and permanent test equipment system. After this benefit became apparent, the internal test equipment group(s) cultivated this rapid response capability in-house, and took-over providing this type of equipment within their own company. ATECo got its start as a "first responder" in test equipment, but couldn't break through into the permanent equipment market. In every case, the industry-pervasive NIH* syndrome ultimately took over.

ATECo's goal became entering into the more lucrative business of purveying permanent test equipment solutions, but that was a long, hard step to make. This opportunity came when, as time passed and personnel migrated from Woodward to other companies as their pursued their individual career paths, ATECo's customer base also moved along with them. The first product outside of Woodward's direct sphere of influence was the ATE-14 (designated EK-217 by Bendix) designed and built for Bendix Aviation Products in South Bend, Indiana. 

ATE-14      EK-217B  

                  EK-217                                                                     EK-217B

 Click Here for EK-217 Manual                            

The single-channel EK-217 closed loop controller solved an immediate and desperate need for a closed-loop test box for the AS-907 fuel control project, resulting in sales of 8 of these closed loop controllers for use in Bendix's fuel control development testing program, but again, this was only a temporary opportunity. As time progressed, this test box evolved into a larger, more comprehensive test box designated the EK-217B. This 2-channel closed controller with added current and voltage drive circuits for solenoids and Electro Hydraulic Servo Valves  is still in use today. 

A pressure-time switch was added to guarantee adequate air purge before starting the test box.

Pressure Time Switch

 ATE-PTS-1 Pressure Time Switch

Click here for Description Brochure.

An IBM-PC based calibrator test box was developed for the EK-series test boxes, designated as the EKK-217. This became ATECo's first computer-based test system product.

The EK-217 & EK-217B are still in use at Honeywell Engines and Systems in South Bend Indiana, Montreal Canada, and Rocky Mount North Carolina. In 2009, the Montreal Canada facility was shutdown and the equipment was moved to Honeywell's Prince Edward Island facilities.
Due to the simplicity, reliability and ease of service of the analog Op-amp based circuitry in the EK-217 test boxes, Honeywell personnel have taken over supporting this equipment, another instance of NIH* syndrome. The Honeywell AS-907 engine has been redesignated the HTF7000 engine and production overhaul facilities moved to Prince Edward Island - the EK-series of test equipment is still utilized every day in support of this engine program. 

BR-710 Engine    HTF-7000

            Honeywell HTF Gas Turbine Engine (Formerly AS-907)      

While working at Woodward in 1980, I developed an automatic 3-D cam mapping system for aircraft and marine gas turbine engine fuel controls.  This system was needed for an investigation into fuel and Variable Stator Vane (VSV) schedule shifts in the fuel controls for General Electric’s LM2500 engines used in U.S. Navy ships. 

LM2500USNavy Destroyer  Korean Navy  US Navy Littoral

    US Navy Ships That Use LM2500 Gas Turbine Engines

In 1985, this new test system was adapted for use in cam mapping for Kaplan hydroelectric turbines as a product for Woodward to introduce to the hydro market, designated the Index Test Box, or "ITB."   
ITB Original

Prototype Index Test Box at Woodward Governor

The ITB prototype worked perfectly in the 1985 field test at Clarence Cannon Dam. Test results were evaluated by Department of Energy (DOE), which prompted the purchase of an ITB by Department Of Energy (DOE) Bonneville Power Administration in Portland, Oregon for a Government  field testing in 1987 at Portland General Electric Hydro Plant 2. This first commercial sale of an ITB led to Woodward's acquisition of  U.S. Patent# 4,794,544 by Woodward to protect this new invention.

The third field test ran into an unanticipated problem in 1989 at Wells Dam. Due to engineering shortages and management short-sightedness, the ball was dropped; this project never saw completion or aggressive promotion by Woodward. The patent languishing in a filing cabinet at Woodward (and then later at GE after they acquired Woodward's Hydro division) until it expired in 2003, and the ITB entered the public domain.

After the patent expired in 2003, USACE HDC called me asking if I could make another one for them. My name on the patent as "inventor" prompted a sole-source solicitation in order to ascertain that the Government would be getting the genuine article that Lee Sheldon had seen and approved while working at BPA in 1987. 

After a long difficult negotiation with a gaggle of Government contracting officers, lawyers and engineers, ATECo entered into a contract to provide an updated version of the ITB to the Government for use in Columbia River hydroelectric power plants to index test all of their Kaplan turbines using the Index Test Box with legacy to the original instrument that had been demonstrated successfully in 1985 and 1987. 

Documentation on the Index Test Box project is on This Page.

October, 2008 -Doug Albright

Revised July 2017 -Doug Albright

*NIH = Not Invented Here

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