|Publication number||US20010025594 A1|
|Application number||US 09/847,352|
|Publication date||Oct 4, 2001|
|Filing date||May 3, 2001|
|Priority date||Jan 5, 2000|
|Publication number||09847352, 847352, US 2001/0025594 A1, US 2001/025594 A1, US 20010025594 A1, US 20010025594A1, US 2001025594 A1, US 2001025594A1, US-A1-20010025594, US-A1-2001025594, US2001/0025594A1, US2001/025594A1, US20010025594 A1, US20010025594A1, US2001025594 A1, US2001025594A1|
|Original Assignee||Daniels Paul A. M.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (15), Referenced by (10), Classifications (16)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
 This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/174,605, filed Jan. 5, 2000.
 1. Field of the Invention
 The present invention relates generally to aquatic apparatuses. More specifically, the invention is a stingray-shaped, submersible and semi-submersible watercraft which is powered by a dual in-line offset motor and guidance system.
 2. Description of Related Art
 Numerous aquatic apparatuses have been devised as both above water and submersible vehicles as further described below. Most of these conventional vehicles include either a single floatation arrangement or a combination of floatation and motor assisted propulsion. These devices are typically hand held watercraft which allows swimmer manipulation in front, but without buoyant support for the entire body of the user or operator. In practice, this type of vehicle is rendered inadequate for prolonged underwater activities at least. A watercraft which provides semi-submersible and complete submersible activity with full body manipulation utilizing a dual in-line system as herein described is lacking.
 For example, U.S. Pat. No. 3,751,030 issued to Winters discloses a floatable-submersible aquatic apparatus shaped in the form of a dolphin having a substantially hollow shell. The shell is provided with fore and aft ports to permit the free ingress and egress of water through the shell. The interior of the shell is provided with buoyancy control members which are attached longitudinally along lateral surfaces of the shell. Each control includes a chamber which may be selectively filled with air through a valve. Inside of each chamber is a block of floatable polystyrene material to maintain minimum buoyancy of the apparatus. A snorkel is operably connected to a front upper and lower portion of the structure.
 U.S. Pat. No. 3,757,721 issued to Ohishi discloses an underwater scooter adapted to transport a diver underwater. The craft has a hull, a screw for propulsion of the hull, an electric motor for driving the screw through a propeller shaft, a storage battery for supplying power to the motor, and a control system for controlling the supply of power. A transparent water shield is mounted to the hull so that when water flows past the hull in motion an operator will be shielded therefrom. Other protective features include a system for detecting and indicating water in the hull, and an apparatus for protecting electrical parts from moisture and battery gases.
 U.S. Pat. No. 5,158,034 issued to Hsu discloses an automatic swimming board for a beginner to lie on for learning swimming or diving. The board has a transmitting unit comprising a plurality of rotating fans for moving the craft forward. A water pressure sensor and pressure signal light is also included for warning the user of depth limits when the board is used for diving. Other water surface towing and diving vehicles having similar features are disclosed in U.S. patents issued to Gallo (U.S. Pat. No. 5,469,803 and WO/93/23119), Ditchfield (U.S. Pat. No. 5,568,783), Vaughn (U.S. Pat. No. 5,704,817) and Kobayashi et al. (U.S. Pat. No. 5,399,111). The watercraft taught by Kobayashi et al. include dual user maneuverability.
 U.S. Pat. No. 5,357,894 issued to Jacobson discloses a pleasure craft comprising a hull, sponsons, and support structures for the sponsons which have a shape of an airfoil. A cockpit for seating a pilot in the hull is located such that the distribution of mass elements in the craft positions the center of gravity of the craft within a select range along the longitudinal axis of the hull in substantially vertical alignment with the seating position of the pilot. Propulsion is provided via a single-in-line motor unit mounted aft and centrally aligned with the seating compartment along the longitudinal axis.
 U.S. Pat. No. 5,396,860 issued to Cheng discloses a swimming propelling device comprising a floating plate having an aperture surrounded by a flange. Attached to the plate is a floating body having the flange provided along two sides of the body. An electric ON/OFF switch is fixed on the floating body to control a motor provided to drive a propeller.
 Watercraft designed specifically for underwater activities have also made strides in the aquatics arena as both recreational and commercial vehicles. U.S. Pat. No. 3,650,234 issued to Goudy discloses a water vehicle for scuba divers and underwater swimmers. The vehicle has a streamlined, elongated body which a rider mounts in a prone position, and is propeller driven by a battery powered electric motor. A single steering control member effects right, left, upward, downward and rolling vehicular movement. Wing members are mounted on a shaft, each of which is independently journaled in bearings and of a support frame. Mounted on each of the shafts is a pulley which is used to rotate each respective wing member. As mounted, the wing members rotate in a co-planar fashion to effect upward and downward movement of the vehicle, or opposite rotational movement to cause rolling of the vehicle about its longitudinal axis.
 U.S. Pat. No. 3,503,356 issued to Wilson discloses a propulsion device for pulling a swimmer through a body of water. The device uses pressurized fluid within a conduit for propelling the device having a body which is an elongated structure terminating in its ends in a pair of water scoops or cowls. Each cowl forms a flow path for the water, and is separated with respect to one another by a distance of about three feet. Also, each cowl measures six inches in length and four inches in diameter. The body or housing is formed in two airfoil shaped sections and secured by epoxy. The conduit extends the length of the submarine unit from one cowl to the other at the interior of the unit where it is sandwiched between the upper and lower section of the body. The conduit is divided into two lengths which are interconnected at the center by a T-connection. The left (and right) hand conduit is connected to an elbow which turns rearwardly and is connected to a nozzle. The nozzle is disposed within the cowl so that its axis and the axis of the stream which it emits, is coincident with the axis through the cowl, respectively.
 U.S. Pat. No. 3,584,596 issued to Poutout discloses a self propelling device for submarine exploration. The device comprises a hollow body housing a battery for feeding power to an electric motor centrally disposed at the base of the hosing with arms or shafts being provided at the rear part of the body for gripping by a diver drawn along by traction.
 U.S. Pat. No. 5,237,952 issued to Rowe discloses a variable attitude submersible hydrofoil which is generally shaped in the form of a dolphin or porpoise, with the equivalent of fins acting as both navigation and attitude control mechanisms. Pectoral or forward fins provide hydrofoil struts when manipulated into one position and then are operable as diving planes when displaced in an alternate configuration. A dorsal fin provides supplemental rudder control. A pair of flukes or rear fins provide for pitch and/or dive control while the vessel operates in a submerged mode. Submerged operation is achieved with an internal combustion motor. An air compressor and air storage tank with an air intake arrangement is operable for automatically opening and closing in response to water exposure. A user sits within a cockpit of sorts which provide controls to manipulate the vehicle including jettison of the fuel tank to avoid fire or explosion during an underwater emergency. A similar dolphin shaped submersible structure is taught by the Danish Patent granted to Ploshkin (DK 113128), provided a user internally manipulates the watercraft.
 Other submersible vehicles of general relevance to the watercraft as herein described are those disclosed in patents issued to Takamizawa et al. (U.S. Pat. No. 4,864,959), Grimmeisen (U.S. Pat. No. 5,818,687), Heaton (U.S. Pat. No. 5,323,727), Taylor et al. (UK 2 271 935 A), and Lashman (U.S. Pat. No. 5,634,423). In particular, the vehicle taught by Heaton is a multi-user semi-submersible vehicle comprising a first and second elongated hull with a central motor mounted therebetween for propulsion. General ornamental features of both submersible and non-submersible vehicles are illustrated in U.S. Design Patents issued to Henning (242,615), Yeh (361,816) and Albritton (371,411). Since these illustrations are ornamental in nature, there appears to be no relevant features directed to either the structural or functional aspects of the watercraft as herein described.
 Italian Patents granted to Parigi (IT 562662) and Iraci (IT 594247) also teach submersible vehicles of general relevance to the invention, however Iraci particularly discloses a vehicle having an airfoil design with left and right hand controls disposed within the body of the vehicle which manipulates the craft. A user is secured to a central portion of the vehicle in a prone position for operating watercraft. A rotating set of blades are mounted at the front of the vehicle for supplementary propulsion.
 None of the above inventions and patents, taken either singly or in combination, is seen to describe the instant invention as claimed.
 The submersible and semi-submersible watercraft for swimmers and divers according to the invention has a body shaped in the form of a stingray having at least one interior shell or ballaster for stabilizing the vehicle during a submerged mode. The weight of a user is used in combination with the weight of the vehicle to simultaneously semi-submerge the vehicle or alternatively prime the motors. The watercraft utilizes a dual in-line motor system for propulsion and is electrically connected a throttle hand control unit with illumination switches disposed adjacent thereto for speed control and night illumination respectively.
 The illumination source is a halogen lamp and the hand controls provide at least one of rotatable and angular control of the water craft as well. A processing unit is optionally provide for digital readouts of time, pressure and or voltage readings. An on/off control switch is also disposed on the hand controls for activating and deactivating the motor system and the respective halogen lamps. With respect to maneuverability, the body further includes at least one first and second moveable element or aileron for manipulating the watercraft in at least one direction of roll, yaw and pitch with the assistance of a user or operator. The power source, first and controller units, lamps and power source are electrically connected as a single integrated operable unit. A transparent shield is disposed on a front portion of the body for shielding the user from a relative wind and water mixture at least. The watercraft body is constructed of a light weight fiberglass material.
 Accordingly, it is a principal object of the invention to provide a submersible and semi-submersible watercraft for swimmers and divers.
 It is another object of the invention to provide a watercraft which produces propulsion from a dual in-line offset motor system arrangement.
 It is a further object of the invention to provide a watercraft which is light and user manipulable via a special hook loop fastener arrangement.
 It is an object of the invention to provide improved elements and arrangements thereof in an apparatus for the purposes described which is inexpensive, dependable and fully effective in accomplishing its intended purposes.
 These and other objects of the present invention will become readily apparent upon further review of the following specification and drawings.
FIG. 1 is an environmental, perspective view of a watercraft according to the present invention.
FIG. 2 is a cut-away top perspective view of the watercraft according to the invention, illustrating dual in-motors and control elements for manipulating the craft.
FIG. 3 is a front perspective view of the watercraft according to the present invention, illustrating headlights and hand control elements of the watercraft.
FIG. 4 is a top perspective view of the watercraft according to the invention.
FIG. 5 is a bottom perspective view of the watercraft according to the invention.
 Similar reference characters denote corresponding features consistently throughout the attached drawings.
 The present invention is directed to a submersible and semi-submersible watercraft for swimmers and/or divers D. The preferred embodiment of the present invention is depicted in FIGS. 1-5, and is generally referenced by numeral 6.
 As diagrammatically illustrated in FIG. 1, the watercraft 6 is shown in a submerged mode below a water level W comprising a body 10 having at least one interior shell 12, at least one control unit 14, at least one illumination source 16, a power source 18, a first and second controller means 20, 22, respectively for providing at least one of rotatable and angular control of the water craft 6. A processing unit 24 and at least one motor means 26 are shown in FIG. 2 with more detail for respectively controlling and propelling the watercraft 5. The control unit 14 is an on/off control switch for activating and deactivating the motor means 26. The motor system 26 according to the preferred embodiment is a dual in-line offset motor system 26 which is offset from a central longitudinal axis L disposed along the length of the vehicle 6 as two distinct and separate motors 26.
 The body 10 further comprises at least one first and second moveable elements 10 a, 10 b for manipulating the watercraft 6 in at least one direction of roll, yaw and pitch. Operatively, the power source 18, respective first and second controller means 20, 22, and at least one illumination 16 and motor system or means 26 are electrically connected as a single integrated operable system. As a common feature, a shielding means or windshield 28 is disposed on the handle bars 29 of the watercraft 6 for shielding a user D from a relative wind and/or water mixture at least during operation.
 As diagrammatically illustrated in FIG. 3, the watercraft 6 is shown in a semi-submersible mode. The interior shell 12 is shown as a set of singular ballasters 12 for stabilizing the vehicle in a submerged mode. In an alternative configuration, the ballasters 12 can be adapted to close via electronically activated doors or such like thereby preventing water submersion or providing a semi-submerging effect when closed.
 As shown in both FIGS. 2 and 4, the watercraft 6 includes a swath of hook fasteners 30 disposed along a top central portion of the body 10 for fastening a user D wearing a vest or clothing article such as a wet suit configured with loop fasteners 31 for mating attachment with hook fasteners 30 to form a secure attachment of the user D to the watercraft 6. The balancing act depicted by the user D standing on (foot locations 6 a and 6 b disposed within) the watercraft 6 in a semi-submerged state is assisted by not only the use of a closed adaptable set of ballasters 12, but also via the use of a stabilizer means 32 for aerodynamically stabilizing the vehicle in either submerged or semi-submerged mode. This particular feature provides stability for the user D both when the watercraft 6 is in operation and when it is inoperative as shown therein. The stabilizer means 32 is simply a tapered aerodynamically fashioned element made of fiberglass or similar material for reducing relative friction and thereby balancing the watercraft 6 at various speeds within the water. Another special feature of the watercraft 6 is that the body 10 including stabilizer 32 are preferably made of a non-porous light-weight fiber-glass material.
 The illumination source 16 is preferably a halogen illumination source for providing illumination at night above and below water lines W. The halogen lamps 16 are powered via the power source 18 as a direct current (DC) source or battery 18.
 With more particularity, the watercraft 6 as shown in FIGS. 1-5 is depicted wherein the first and second control means 20, 22 are respective hand controls for manipulating the vehicle in at least one direction of roll, yaw and pitch respectively. A rotation motion of either hand control 20 or 22 activates or increases the impeller speed of the dual in-line offset motor system. The motor system 26 is mounted and balanced offset from a central longitudinal axis of the watercraft as a first and second multiple impeller motor system 26. As illustrated in FIG. 2, the motor system 26 is configured having impeller shafts 26 a which extend substantially along the length of the vehicle parallel to the longitudinal axis. Each shaft 26 a is configured with a plurality of impellers 26 b for producing propulsion either forward or backward.
 As diagrammatically illustrated in FIG. 5, the watercraft 6 is shown according to a bottom perspective view to depict a set of manipulable ailerons 10 a and 10 b. While specifications have not been designated with respect to the type and power of motors used for the instant invention, it would be obvious to one having ordinary skill in the relevant art to provide a motor to produce the intended result as herein described as a matter of intended use or design choice. The unique sting-ray airfoil structure and combination dual-in-line motor system enables both submersible and non-submersible use of the watercraft 6.
 It is to be understood that the present invention is not limited to the sole embodiment described above, but encompasses any and all embodiments within the scope of the following claims.
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|U.S. Classification||114/315, 114/333, 114/330|
|International Classification||B63G8/08, B63C11/04, B63G8/22, B63B35/73, B63C11/46|
|Cooperative Classification||B63B35/73, B63B2221/12, B63G8/08, B63G8/22, B63C11/46, B63C11/04|
|European Classification||B63C11/46, B63B35/73|