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In science and engineering, a black box is a device, system or object which can be viewed solely in terms of its input, output and transfer characteristics without any knowledge of its internal workings, that is, its implementation is "opaque" (black). Almost anything might be referred to as a black box: a transistor, an algorithm, or the human mind. The opposite of a black box is a system where the inner components or logic are available for inspection, which is sometimes known as a clear box, a glass box, or a white box.

Enthusiasm is the feet of all progresses, with it there is accomplishment and without it there are only slits alibis. I really feel indebted in acknowledging the organizational support and encouragement received from the management of my college. The task of developing this system would not have been possible without the constant help of my mentors. I take this opportunity to express my profound sense of gratitude and respect to those who helped me throughout the duration of this seminar. I express my gratitude to Mr. Shiv Kumjar (Head of Department), KNGD Modi Engineering College & Ms. Chhavi Garg (Seminar Guide). I would again like to thank all of them for giving their valuable time to me in developing this seminar.




If any airplane crash, there are many unanswered questions as to what brought the plane down. Investigators turn to the airplane's flight data recorder (FDR) and cockpit voice recorder (CVR), also known as "black boxes," for answers. In Flight 261, the FDR contained 48 parameters of flight data, and the CVR recorded a little more than 30 minutes of conversation and other audible cockpit noises. These recording devices, which cost between $10,000 an $15,000 each, reveal details of the events immediately preceding the accident. In this article, we will look at the two types of black boxes, how they survive crashes, and how they are retrieved and analyzed.


The project is developed to record informational data, such as: engine / vehicle speed, temperature of the engine (5 seconds before impact), etc to revolutionize the field of motor vehicle accident investigation. It can also use for vehicle mapping and accident alert with the help of GPS and GSM technology. This project is designed with the help of Embedded Technology. Embedded systems are playing important roles in our lives every day, even though they might not necessarily be visible. An embedded system can be defined as a control system or computer system designed to perform a specific task and also be defined as a single purpose computer. Some of the embedded systems we use every day are control the menu system on television, the timer in a microwave oven, a cell phone, an MP3 player or any other device with some amount of intelligence built-in. An embedded system contains at least one microprocessor which performs the logic operations for the system. Many embedded systems use one or more microcontrollers, which are a type of microprocessor that emphasizes self-sufficiency and cost-effectiveness, instead of a general-purpose microprocessor. A typical microcontroller contains sufficient memory and interfaces for simple applications, whereas general-purpose microprocessors require additional chips to provide these functions, including at least one ROM (read-only memory) chip to store the software. Project uses Microchips microcontroller IC named Peripheral Interface Controller (PIC) and Microchips Integrated Development Environment, MPLAB, to simulate and assemble the written code.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: This project is designed with microcontroller (PIC), 16X2 LCD, USART protocol, Sensors, GPS receiver, GSM modem, hooter, buzzer, E2PROM card and 4X4 keypad. The Black box or Event Data Recorder (EDR), records information about your vehicle and you driving habits. It records speed, temperature of the engine, distance travelled, status of fuel level, location information and more. The EDR can provide, for an investigator trained to understand the data, a snapshot of what a car and its driver were doing in a crash. It include the ability to collect statistically relevant crash information to improve the safety of cars and trucks, demonstrate the efficacy of traffic laws (like those addressing speed etc), and to allow immediate notification of an accident to emergency personnel. The EDRs store the information from different sensors on an External EEPROM until recovered from the module. The EDR contains information like fuel level, temperature, speed, distance, location information from GPS etc.We can use this system for emergency accident alert also. When the car crashes the system send the accident alert and the current position of the vehicle to a preprogrammed mobile number via GSM modem. We can change the number with the help of a keypad interface (optional). With the help of the same microcontroller we can digitalize all the parameters in dashboard. Presently, analog meters are used in vehicles to display the speed, distance traveled, fuel level etc. The main disadvantage of using analog meters is that it is not accurate. The digital dashboard displays speed, distance traveled, mileage of last 100 kilometers, engine temperature and fuel level of the vehicle using 16x2 LCD. The system also alerts the user about the information like low fuel level, over speed, high engine temperature, through led or buzzer indication. An Ultrasonic sensor is also attached to the system for collision avoidance. When an object came very near to the

vehicle, the Ultrasonic sensor detects the obstacle and alert the driver via buzzer and display warnings. Project also implements a vehicle security system with the help of magnetic sensor and GSM modem. When vehicle is trespassed, the system will alert the user by sending sms. Another part of the project is the external EEPROM card reader side. The information in the EEPROM Card can be retrieved with the help of this I 2C Card reader. In this reader the microcontroller reads the data from the EEPROM card and these parameters will send to the computer via an RS 232 interface. The computer front end is designed with VB interface which is used to create the event logger and graphical representation of these data.


On-screen LCD for speed, distance covered, fuel level, engine mileage.

temperature and

Prevent Crashes By the use of Ultrasonic sensor.

GSM and GPS technology incorporated for accident alert.

Efficient and user friendly VB front end is used for data retrieval at the receiver end.

I2C protocol is used for data writing and reading to the EEPROM. This helps us to implement fast data transfer.

Improved Productivity.

Control Driver Performance.

Provide Key Management Reports.

By analyzing the EDR we can improve the Traffic Control System, Vehicle R&D, and Driving methodologies.




16X2 LCD














RS 232


PC with VB Front-end


Although many of the black boxes in use today use magnetic tape, which was first introduced in the 1960s, airlines are moving to solid-state memory boards, which came along in the 1990s. Magnetic tape works like any tape recorder. The Mylar tape is pulled across an electromagnetic head, which leaves a bit of data on the tape. Black-box manufacturers are no longer making magnetic tape recorders as airlines begin a full transition to solid-state technology.









Solid-state recorders are considered much more reliable than their magnetic-tape counterparts, according to Ron Crotty, a spokesperson for Honeywell, a black-box manufacturer. Solid state uses stacked arrays of memory chips, so they don't have moving parts. With no moving parts, there are fewer maintenance issues and a decreased chance of something breaking during a crash. Data from both the CVR and FDR is stored on stacked memory boards inside the crash-survivable memory unit (CSMU). The CSMU is a cylindrical compartment on the recorder. The stacked memory boards are about 1.75 inches (4.45 cm) in diameter and 1 inch (2.54 cm) tall. The memory boards have enough digital storage space to accommodate two hours of audio data for CVRs and 25 hours of flight data for FDRs.


Airplanes are equipped with sensors that gather data. There are sensors that detect acceleration, airspeed, altitude, flap settings, outside temperature, cabin temperature and pressure, engine performance and more. Magnetic-tape recorders can track about 100 parameters, while solid-state recorders can track more than 700 in larger aircraft. All of the data collected by the airplane's sensors is sent to the flight-data acquisition unit (FDAU) at the front of the aircraft. This device often is found in the electronic equipment bay under the cockpit. The flight-data acquisition unit is the middle manager of the entire data-recording process. It takes the information from the sensors and sends it on to the black boxes.









Both black boxes are powered by one of two power generators that draw their power from the plane's engines. One generator is a 28-volt DC power source, and the other is a 115-volt, 400-hertz (Hz) AC power source. These are standard aircraft power supplies, according to Frank Doran, director of engineering for L-3 Communications Aviation Recorders.

COCKPIT VOICE RECORDERS In almost every commercial aircraft, there are several microphones built into the cockpit to track the conversations of the flight crew. These microphones are also designed to track any ambient noise in the cockpit, such as switches being thrown or any knocks or thuds. There may be up to four microphones in the plane's cockpit, each connected to the cockpit voice recorder (CVR). Any sounds in the cockpit are picked up by these microphones and sent to the CVR, where the recordings are digitized and stored. There is also another device in the cockpit, called the associated control unit, that provides pre-amplification for audio going to the CVR. Here are the positions of the four microphones:

Pilot's headset Co-pilot's headset Headset of a third crew member (if there is a third crew member) Near the center of the cockpit, where it can pick up audio alerts and other sounds

Most magnetic-tape CVRs store the last 30 minutes of sound. They use a continuous loop of tape that completes a cycle every 30 minutes. As new material is recorded, the oldest material is replaced. CVRs that used solid-state storage can record two hours of audio. Similar to the magnetic-tape recorders, solid-state recorders also record over old material.

FLIGHT DATA RECORDERS The flight data recorder (FDR) is designed to record the operating data from the plane's systems. There are sensors that are wired from various areas on the plane to the flight-data acquisition unit, which is wired to the FDR. When a switch is turned on or off, that operation is recorded by the FDR.

DAMAGED FDR Magnetic-tape recorders have the potential to record up to 100 parameters. Solidstate FDRs can record more than 700 parameters.


Time Pressure altitude Airspeed Vertical acceleration Magnetic heading Control-column position Rudder-pedal position Control-wheel position Horizontal stabilizer Fuel flow Solid-state recorders can track more parameters than magnetic tape because they

allow for a faster data flow. Solid-state FDRs can store up to 25 hours of flight data. Each additional parameter that is recorded by the FDR gives investigators one more clue about the cause of an accident.

BUILT TO SURVIVE In many airline accidents, the only devices that survive are the crash-survivable memory units (CSMUs) of the flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders. Typically, the rest of the recorders' chassis and inner components are mangled. The CSMU is a large cylinder that bolts onto the flat portion of the recorder. This device is engineered to withstand extreme heat, violent crashes and tons of pressure. In older magnetic-tape recorders, the CSMU is inside a rectangular box.


Using three layers of materials, the CSMU in a solid-state black box insulates and protects the stack of memory boards that store the digitized information. We will talk more about the memory and electronics in the next section. Here's a closer look at the materials that provide a barrier for the memory boards, starting at the innermost barrier and working our way outward:

Aluminum housing - There is a thin layer of aluminum around the stack of memory cards.

High-temperature insulation - This dry-silica material is 1 inch (2.54 cm) thick and provides high-temperature thermal protection. This is what keeps the memory boards safe during post-accident fires.

Stainless-steel shell- The high-temperature insulation material is contained within a stainless-steel cast shell that is about 0.25 inches (0.64 cm) thick. Titanium can be used to create this outer armor as well.

TESTING A CSMU To ensure the quality and survivability of black boxes, manufacturers thoroughly test the CSMUs. Remember, only the CSMU has to survive a crash -- if accident investigators have that, they can retrieve the information they need. There are several tests that make up the crash-survival sequence

Crash impact - . This impact force is equal to or in excess of what a recorder might experience in an actual crash.

Pin drop - To test the unit's penetration resistance, researchers drop a 500-pound (227-kg) weight with a 0.25-inch steel pin protruding from the bottom onto the CSMU from a height of 10 feet (3 m). This pin, with 500-pounds behind it, impacts the CSMU cylinder's most vulnerable axis.

Fire test - Researchers place the unit into a propane-source fireball, cooking it using three burners. .

Deep-sea submersion - The CSMU is placed into a pressurized tank of salt water for 24 hours.

Salt-water submersion - The CSMU must survive in a salt water tank for 30 days.

Fluid immersion - Various CSMU components are placed into a variety of aviation fluids, including jet fuel, lubricants and fire-extinguisher chemicals.

Black boxes are usually sold directly to and installed by the airplane manufacturers. Both black boxes are installed in the tail of the plane -- putting them in the back of the aircraft increases their chances of survival. The precise location of the recorders depends on the individual plane. Sometimes they are located in the ceiling of the galley, in the aft cargo hold or in the tail cone that covers the rear of the aircraft. "Typically, the tail of the aircraft is the last portion of the aircraft to impact," Doran said. "The whole front portion of the airplane provides a crush zone, which assists in the deceleration of tail components, including the recorders, and enhances the likelihood that the crash-protected memory of the recorder will survive.

UNDERWATER LOCATOR BEACON In addition to the paint and reflective tape, black boxes are equipped with an underwater locator beacon (ULB). If you look at the picture of a black box, you will almost always see a small, cylindrical object attached to one end of the device. While it doubles as a handle for carrying the black box, this cylinder is actually a beacon.

UNDERWATER LOCATOR BEACON If a plane crashes into the water, this beacon sends out an ultrasonic pulse that cannot be heard by human ears but is readily detectable by sonar and acoustical locating equipment. There is a submergence sensor on the side of the beacon that looks like a bull's-eye. When water touches this sensor, it activates the beacon.

The beacon sends out pulses at 37.5 kilohertz (kHz) and can transmit sound as deep as 14,000 feet (4,267 m). Once the beacon begins "pinging," it pings once per second for 30 days. This beacon is powered by a battery that has a shelf life of six years. In rare instances, the beacon may get snapped off during a high-impact collision.

RETRIEVING INFORMATION After finding the black boxes, investigators take the recorders to a lab where they can download the data from the recorders and attempt to recreate the events of the accident. This process can take weeks or months to complete. In the United States, blackbox manufacturers supply the NTSB with the readout systems and software needed to do a full analysis of the recorders' stored data.


If the FDR is not damaged, investigators can simply play it back on the recorder by connecting it to a readout system. With solid-state recorders, investigators can extract stored data in a matter of minutes. Very often, recorders retrieved from wreckage are

dented or burned. In these cases, the memory boards are removed, cleaned up and a new memory interface cable is installed. Then the memory board is connected to a working recorder. This recorder has special software to facilitate the retrieval of data without the possibility of overwriting any of it. Both the FDR and CVR are invaluable tools for any aircraft investigation. These are often the lone survivors of airplane accidents, and as such provide important clues to the cause that would be impossible to obtain any other way. As technology evolves, black boxes will continue to play a tremendous role in accident investigations.

OTHER USES FOR BLACK BOX TECHNOLOGY Currently, black boxes aren't just taking flight -- they're being grounded as well. Several automobile manufacturers are utilizing black box technology in their automobiles and a few have been doing so for quite some time. According to an article titled "Black boxes in GM cars increasingly help police after accidents" General Motors has been using black box technology for over a decade. So, black box technology has moved from airplanes to automobiles -- where is it headed next? It could be on you. Right now it's just a prototype, but soon the SenseCam could provide you with an incredible amount of information about -- well, you!

So, black box technology has moved from airplanes to automobiles -- where is it headed next? There are improvements on the horizon for black box technology. Reportedly, some form of cockpit video recorder will be developed. Such a recorder would be able to store video images in solid-state memory.

1. ^ W. Cauer. Theorie der linearen Wechselstromschaltungen, Vol.I. Akad. Verlags-Gesellschaft Becker und Erler, Leipzig, 1941. 2. ^ E. Cauer, W. Mathis, and R. Pauli, "Life and Work of Wilhelm Cauer (1900 1945)", Proceedings of the Fourteenth International Symposium of Mathematical Theory of Networks and Systems (MTNS2000), p4, Perpignan, June, 2000. Retrieved online 19th September 2008. 3. ^ Belevitch, V, "Summary of the history of circuit theory", Proceedings of the IRE, vol 50, Iss 5, pp848-855, May 1962. 4. ^ Black-Box Testing: Techniques for Functional Testing of Software and Systems, by Boris Beizer, 1995. ISBN 0-471-12094-4 5. ^ Cybernetics: Or the Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine, by Norbert Wiener, page xi, MIT Press, 1961, ISBN 0-262-73009-X 6. ^ Breaking the Black Box, by Martin J. Pring, McGraw-Hill, 2002, ISBN 0-07-138405-7 7. ^ "Mind as a Black Box: The Behaviorist Approach", pp 85-88, in Cognitive Science: An Introduction to the Study of Mind, by Jay Friedenberg, Gordon Silverman, Sage Publications, 2006 8. ^