With its Diamond Logic Electrical System, International has been installing some very high tech electronic hardware on its trucks in the last two years. The hardware served as the building blocks for a system that came full circle at the ICUEE show in September with the introduction of the Diamond Logic Builder software.
Diamond Logic Builder is a personal-computer based, programmable software package that ties together the hardware components to create an infinitely customizable truck electronics package that’s easy to configure and easy to change.
While programming and setting up the Diamond Logic Electrical System in a truck is primarily the task of the dealers and body builders, the technology offers numerous indirect benefits to the end user, including easy troubleshooting, more reliability, lower maintenance and customizable configurations.
“The goal was to be able to design custom electronics without having to tear the dash apart and drastically rewire,” says Mark Schumacher, marketing manager, truck electronics group. “We’re controlling things with software instead of adding huge amounts of labor to implement a hard-wired solution.”
(As a point of clarification, the Diamond Logic Electrical System communicates with, but does not control, the electronics for the power train. All major components communicate on multiplexed data links in conjunction with in-cab and body controls.)
Brains control the brawn
The brain of the system is called the Electronic System Controller, essentially a small computer, mounted inside the cab. Through the magic of what electronics people call “multiplexing,” the ESC knows where an electronic input comes from and can decide, based on how you program it, where and when to send an output.
The ESC eliminates the need to have a single wire directly connecting every component on the truck to a dedicated switch on the dash. And with the addition this year of the Diamond Logic Builder software tool, bodybuilders can reprogram any number of variables governing the ESC, thus making all kinds of changes without ever having to touch a wire.
Power modules serve as gatekeeper
Between the ESC and the various body electronic components on the truck is a remote power module. These are mounted outside the cab and have six inputs and six outputs to various components. A simple truck would have just one remote power module. More complex trucks might have two or three.
“We consider the remote power module the gateway into the Diamond Logic electrical system,” says Cortney Guzlas, business line manager for the body builder integration program. “The majority of the body builders’ integration connections will be made at the remote power module.
Air solenoids control pneumatics
Similar to the remote power module is another unique component, the air solenoid valve, which puts the control of air-activated components under the command of the ESC.
“In the past if you needed to control an air accessory you had a mechanical flipper valve switch assembly up in the dash,” says Robert Dannenberg, engineering program manager for truck electronics. “But that requires basically two hoses for every air accessory and there’s no intelligence to it. You can flip that switch any time you want and sometimes cause mechanical damage if you do it at the wrong time.”
The air solenoid modules mounted outside the cab gang up to seven air outputs in one unit that’s fed by just one air hose. And being under the command of the ESC, you can program the control of the air solenoid valves to prevent accidental engagements and to synch with special interlocks.
Inside the cab, the switch panel consists of an array of rocker switches that can be programmed to engage any electronic function on the truck body. Additionally, these switches can be relocated on the center panel to meet a specific customer preference.
“Instead of using a traditional electromechanical rocker switch that requires two to six wires to communicate back to a module, relay or load, we use a modular switch assembly,” Dannenberg says. “They look like traditional rocker switches but behind each one is nothing more than two micro-switches that are hooked up to a little computer on a circuit board that talks to the ESC by way of a computer data link, almost like a phone line.”
The upshot is you can program any individual switch to control any individual function regardless of its position in the display. “You can move them around,” Dannenberg says. “They’re very easy to relocate.” International makes hundreds of labels for these switches to help you identify what’s what.
Programmable for any option
A lot of the razzle-dazzle of Diamond Logic mentioned above can be factory built into the trucks’ hardware – and has been for the last two years. But International knew that every customer is unique and the potential applications and custom specifications could number in the thousands. So rather than have the factory create one-of-a-kind trucks, it developed the Builder software package to enable bodybuilders to create their own custom features.
“They can still leverage the International-designed application solutions for 90 percent of their needs,” says Guzlas, “and create the final 10 percent with the Diamond Logic Builder tool at the point where they are upfitting the vehicle.”
In addition to customizing electronic body controls and simplifying diagnostics, the Diamond Logic Builder program can be set up to organize and manage electronic loads. Instead of turning on all the lamp loads immediately and putting a big drain on the battery, the processor can sequence events one at a time to prevent sudden voltage drops. You can also set up a load manager feature to turn components off in sequence, thus saving critical functions for last, should your battery start to lose power.
Diamond Logic Builder will undergo what Guzlas calls a managed rollout this January with selected body builders receiving training and certification testing on the system.