Control Console


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Control Console

 

a desk, column, or bench with panels that display information and present controls used by an operator or group of operators to act on objects or processes and their qualitative or quantitative characteristics. A control console is the major unit of the operator’s position and one of the basic means of interaction between man and machine.

A distinction is made between local- and remote-control consoles. The former are placed directly on the controlled object, as in the case of the console of a locomotive or airplane, a machine tool with programmed control, or a transfer line. With remote-control consoles, control is effected at a distance by tele-mechanical means, as is the case with the control center of a power system or that of an unmanned space probe. Information is most frequently displayed on graphic panels, illuminated display boards, different kinds of indicators, and cathode-ray tubes. The controls may be buttons, keys, tumbler switches, levers, or wheels.

Control consoles are classified according to the basic functions performed by the operators. Operating control consoles provide the basis for making decisions and issuing commands, instructions, and so on. Reference-information control panels are used to transmit questions, receive reference information regarding the state of a controlled system or its individual components, and prepare, transmit, and receive symbolic or graphic information. Manual control consoles provide for the immediate input of data in symbolic or graphic form. Production control consoles monitor the workability of technical facilities and communication channels of a control system. Computer control consoles implement direct communication between operators and computers and are used to debug computer programs. Combined control consoles join together the functions listed above in various ways.

Viewed from above, a control console may be rectangular, L-shaped, U-shaped, trapezoidal, or polygonal. The design of consoles must incorporate not only the solutions to technical problems but also the recommendations of biotechnology, engineering psychology, and technical aesthetics. The structure of a control console and the arrangement of its components should provide for the required speed, accuracy, reliability, and operational safety. The control console should be simple and economical to maintain under normal and emergency conditions. It should afford comfortable working conditions and also ensure the rapid development of an operator’s skill during the training period. A control center must therefore satisfy a number of requirements, the most important of which involve sanitary and health conditions: optimal or allowable temperatures, relative humidity, and illumination at the operator’s position. A control center must eliminate noise, vibration, and radiation or restrict them to acceptable levels. It must meet anthropometric and biomechanical specifications, providing the most comfortable working posture and efficient placement of controls. It must be appropriate to the psychophysiological situation, creating the best conditions for perceiving information by taking account of the size, shape, brightness, contrast, color, and spatial arrangement of the facilities for displaying information; it must also help ensure the speed and accuracy of an operator’s reaction to the information obtained. Aesthetic requirements for a control center are met with the help of creative designers.

A console can be combined functionally and sometimes structurally with a traffic-control panel. For many instruments, apparatus, and machines with scientific, industrial, and household uses, the functions of a control console are fulfilled by an information and control panel; examples include the control panel of a television set or radio and the instrument panel of an automobile.

REFERENCES

Inzhenernaia psikhologiia v primenenii k proektirovaniiu oborudovaniia. Moscow, 1971. (Translated from English.)
Zinchenko, V. P., V. M. Munipov, and G. L. Smolian. Ergonomicheskie osnovy organizatsii truda. Moscow, 1974.

V. M. MUNIPOV

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