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Publication numberUS20030213481 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/146,987
Publication dateNov 20, 2003
Filing dateMay 16, 2002
Priority dateMay 16, 2002
Publication number10146987, 146987, US 2003/0213481 A1, US 2003/213481 A1, US 20030213481 A1, US 20030213481A1, US 2003213481 A1, US 2003213481A1, US-A1-20030213481, US-A1-2003213481, US2003/0213481A1, US2003/213481A1, US20030213481 A1, US20030213481A1, US2003213481 A1, US2003213481A1
InventorsDavid Bell
Original AssigneeBell David Wesley
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Infeed connector for a paintball gun
US 20030213481 A1
Abstract
An infeed connector for coupling an outlet pipe of a bulk loading hopper to an inlet pipe of a paintball gun is provided comprising a pipe section having a first end for receiving the outlet pipe therewithin and a second end for receiving the inlet pipe therewithin. The first and second ends are formed with compression fittings, the compression fitting at each end further having external annular threads therearound for receiving a compression nut. First and second compression nuts are provided having internal annular threads for threading on the annular threads of each respective pipe section compression fitting and operable when fully threaded thereon and tightened to secure a respective end of each outlet pipe and said inlet pipe, within a corresponding end of the infeed connector.
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Claims(33)
What is claimed is:
1. An assembly, comprising:
a paintball gun having a firing chamber coupled with a gun barrel and having an inlet pipe, said inlet pipe joined with said firing chamber and further having a first diameter, for passing a paintball into said firing chamber;
a bulk loading hopper having a storage chamber for paintballs and an outlet pipe extending from said hopper, said outlet pipe further having a second diameter, for dispensing a paintball therefrom; and
an infeed tube for joining said outlet pipe to said inlet pipe to provide for delivery of said paintballs into said firing chamber wherein said infeed tube comprises:
a pipe section having a first end for receiving said outlet pipe therewithin and a second end for receiving said inlet pipe therewithin, said first and second ends further formed with a plurality of longitudinal slots disposed at substantially equal intervals therearound, each said end further having a series of external annular threads therearound and overlapping said plurality of slots for threadably receiving a compression nut; and
first and second annular compression nuts having internal annular threads for threading on said annular threads of each said respective pipe section compression fitting and operable when fully threaded thereon and tightened to secure a respective end of each said outlet pipe and said inlet pipe within a corresponding end of said pipe section of said infeed tube.
2. The assembly of claim 1, wherein said inlet pipe is disposed approximately perpendicular to a centerline of said gun barrel wherein further said firing chamber and said gun barrel have approximately the same centerline.
3. The assembly of claim 1, wherein said inlet pipe joins said firing chamber at a side-directed angle between 25 and 65 degrees from a vertical axis passing through said centerline.
4. The assembly of claim 1, wherein said outlet pipe of said bulk loading hopper extends downward from a lower extremity of said hopper.
5. The assembly of claim 1, wherein said plurality of longitudinal slots extend for a predetermined distance along a wall of said pipe section from each said end of said pipe section.
6. The assembly of claim 1, wherein said infeed tube provides a change of direction through it of approximately 45 degrees.
7. The assembly of claim 1, wherein said infeed tube provides a change of direction through it.
8. The assembly of claim 1, wherein said inlet pipe and said outlet pipe have a same diameter.
9. The assembly of claim 1, wherein said inlet pipe has a different diameter than said outlet pipe.
10. The assembly of claim 1, wherein said outlet pipe has a larger diameter than said inlet pipe.
11. The assembly of claim 1, wherein each said compression fitting on said pipe section has at least three longitudinal slots.
12. The assembly of claim 1, wherein said annular threads allow said compression nut to engage said pipe section through at least one full turn of said compression nut on said pipe section.
13. An infeed connector for coupling a paintball gun having an inlet pipe with a paintball hopper having an outlet pipe, comprising:
a pipe section having a first end for receiving said outlet pipe therewithin and a second end for receiving said inlet pipe therewithin, said first and second ends further formed with a plurality of longitudinal slots disposed at substantially equal intervals therearound and extending for a predetermined distance through a wall of said pipe section from said end of said pipe section, each said end further having a series of external annular threads therearound and overlapping said plurality of slots for receiving a compression nut; and
first and second compression nuts having internal annular threads for threading on said annular threads of each said respective pipe section and operable when fully threaded thereon and tightened to secure a respective end of each said outlet pipe and said inlet pipe within a corresponding end of said pipe section of said infeed elbow.
14. The assembly of claim 13, wherein said infeed connector provides a change of direction through it of approximately 45 degrees.
15. The assembly of claim 13, wherein said infeed connector provides a change of direction through it.
16. The infeed connector of claim 13, wherein said infeed connector provides a straight passage for paintballs from said hopper to said paintball gun.
17. The assembly of claim 13, wherein said inlet pipe and said outlet pipe have a same diameter.
18. The assembly of claim 13, wherein said inlet pipe has a different diameter than said outlet pipe.
19. The assembly of claim 13, wherein said outlet pipe has a larger diameter than said inlet pipe.
20. The assembly of claim 13, wherein each said compression fitting on said pipe section has at least three longitudinal slots.
21. The assembly of claim 13, wherein said annular threads allow said compression nut to engage said pipe section through at least one full turn of said compression nut on said pipe section.
22. An assembly, comprising:
a paintball gun having a firing chamber coupled with a gun barrel and having an inlet pipe, said inlet pipe joined with said firing chamber of said paintball gun and further having a first diameter for receiving a paintball into said firing chamber;
a bulk loading hopper having a storage chamber and an outlet pipe section extending from said hopper, said outlet pipe section further having a second diameter for dispensing a paintball therefrom wherein said outlet end of said outlet pipe section is configured with an infeed connector for coupling to said inlet pipe to provide for delivery of said paintballs, wherein said infeed connector comprises:
a plurality of longitudinal slots disposed at substantially equal intervals around said outlet end of said outlet pipe section and further having a series of external annular threads around said outlet end and overlapping said plurality of slots for receiving a compression nut; and
an annular compression nut having internal annular threads for threading on said annular threads of said outlet pipe section compression fitting and operable when fully threaded thereon and tightened to secure said inlet pipe within said outlet end of said outlet pipe section of said infeed elbow.
23. The assembly of claim 22, wherein said infeed connector provides a change of direction through it.
24. The assembly of claim 22, wherein said infeed connector provides a straight passage of said paintballs from said hopper to said paintball gun.
25. The assembly of claim 22, wherein each said compression fitting on said outlet pipe section has at least three longitudinal slots.
26. The assembly of claim 22, wherein said plurality of longitudinal slots extend for a predetermined distance along a wall of said pipe section from each said end of said pipe section.
27. The assembly of claim 21, wherein said annular threads allow said compression nut to engage said outlet pipe section through at least one full turn of said compression nut on said pipe section.
28. A bulk loading hopper for a paintball gun, comprising:
a bulk loading hopper having a storage chamber for paintballs and an outlet pipe section extending from said hopper, said outlet pipe section further having a second diameter, for dispensing a paintball therefrom wherein said outlet end of said outlet pipe section is configured with an infeed connector in said outlet pipe section for coupling to an inlet pipe to provide for delivery of said paintballs, wherein said infeed connector comprises:
an outlet end for receiving said inlet pipe therewithin, said outlet end further formed with a plurality of longitudinal slots disposed at substantially equal intervals therearound and further having a series of external annular threads therearound and overlapping said plurality of slots for receiving a compression nut; and
an annular compression nut having internal annular threads for threading on said annular threads of said outlet pipe section compression fitting and operable when fully threaded thereon and tightened to secure said inlet pipe within said outlet end of said outlet pipe section of said infeed elbow.
29. The assembly of claim 28, wherein said infeed connector provides straight passage of paintballs from said hopper to said paintball gun.
30. The assembly of claim 28, wherein said infeed connector provides a change of direction through it.
31. The assembly of claim 28, wherein said plurality of longitudinal slots extend for a predetermined distance along a wall of said pipe section from each said end of said pipe section.
32. The assembly of claim 28, wherein each said compression fitting on said outlet pipe section has at least three longitudinal slots.
33. The assembly of claim 28, wherein said annular threads allow said compression nut to engage said outlet pipe section through at least one full turn of said compression nut on said pipe section.
Description
TECHNICAL FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention disclosed herein relates generally to paintball guns and, more particularly, to an infeed connector adapted for connecting a bulk loading paintball hopper to a paintball gun.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Bulk loaders for use with paintball guns provide for storage of paintball ammunition in a hopper that is configured for allowing paintballs to be gravity fed from a bottom outlet into a feed inlet to a flying chamber of a paintball gun. A pipe section may be used to couple the feed inlet tube to the outlet tube of the hopper. The feed inlet tube may be straight or offset at an angle to allow positioning the hopper off to one side, for example, to the right of the paintball gun barrel so as to avoid blocking the user's view when sighting along the barrel to aim the gun. Thus, a pipe elbow may be used to couple the hopper outlet to the feed inlet of the paintball gun so that the pipe elbow supports the weight of the hopper a n d paintballs in a stable manner as well as allowing the paintballs to pass through the interior passage of the pipe elbow en route to the firing chamber. Conventional paintball gun infeed connectors are typically equipped with inexpensive hose clamps to clamp the outlet and feed inlet tubes into the elbow. This type of clamp is simple and accommodates variations in tube diameters, etc. However, it has the disadvantage of distorting the outlet and feed inlet tubes when the clamp is tightened enough to securely support the hopper on the feed inlet of the paintball gun. This distortion can cause jamming in the outlet tube or the inlet tube because the distorted passage no longer has a round cross section. Moreover, it is difficult to adjust the clamp to relieve the distortion without leaving the assembly too loose to securely support the hopper on the paintball gun. What is needed is a clamping system for the pipe elbow that avoids these deficiencies.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0003] The present invention disclosed and claimed herein, in one aspect thereof, comprises an infeed connector for coupling an outlet pipe of a bulk loading hopper to an inlet pipe of a paintball gun. A pipe section is provided having a first end for receiving the outlet pipe therewithin and a second end for receiving the inlet pipe therewithin. The first and second ends are further formed with compression fittings, the compression fitting at each end further having external annular threads therearound for receiving a compression nut. First and second compression nuts are provided having internal annular threads for threading on the annular threads of each respective pipe section compression fitting and operable when fully threaded thereon and tightened to secure the respective ends of the outlet pipe and inlet pipe within a corresponding end of the infeed connector.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0004] For a more complete understanding of the present invention and the advantages thereof, reference is now made to the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying Drawings in which:

[0005]FIG. 1A illustrates a side view of a prior art infeed connector which utilizes a hose clamp device at each end of an elbow pipe section;

[0006]FIG. 1B illustrates a top view of the prior art infeed connector illustrated in FIG. 1A;

[0007]FIG. 2A illustrates a side view of an infeed connector according to the present disclosure having a compression fitting and a clamp nut at each end thereof with the upper clamp nut shown separated from the infeed elbow portion to show its construction;

[0008]FIG. 2B illustrates a top view of the infeed connector of FIG. 2A;

[0009]FIG. 3 illustrates a pictorial view of one embodiment of the present disclosure shown with the clamp nuts separated from the infeed elbow portion to show its construction;

[0010]FIG. 4 illustrates an exploded view of a paintball gun and a bulk loading hopper that may be joined by an infeed connector according to the present disclosure;

[0011]FIG. 5 illustrates a rear view of the paintball gun, infeed elbow connector and bulk loading hopper of the embodiment of FIG. 4 when assembled together;

[0012]FIG. 6 illustrates a side view of an alternate embodiment of a paintball gun having a hopper integrated with an infeed connector according to the present disclosure;

[0013]FIG. 7 illustrates an alternate embodiment of a compression-type connector for joining a paintball hopper to a paintball gun;

[0014]FIG. 8A illustrates a rear view of a paintball gun and a range of possible positions and angular orientations of alternate embodiments of infeed connectors according to the present disclosure; and

[0015]FIG. 8B illustrates a side view of the alternate embodiment of a paintball gun of FIG. 8A and the range of possible alternate orientations of infeed connectors according to the present disclosure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0016] Referring now to FIG. 1A there is illustrated a side view of a prior art infeed connector which utilizes a hose clamp style of device to secure the outlet pipe of a bulk loading hopper in the upper end of the infeed connector and the infeed pipe of the paintball gun in the lower end of the infeed connector. The infeed connector 10 has a pipe section 12 which is typically bent through an angle of approximately 45° in the illustrated connector. An integral hose clamp device 14 is disposed in the upper end 16 of the pipe section 12. In a typical prior art infeed elbow connector 10, the inside diameter of the upper end of the pipe section 12 is nominally 1.050 inches. This dimension accommodates the industry standard outside diameter of the outlet pipe of the bulk loading hopper. The hose clamp device 14 includes a pair of tabs 18 extending outward at about 90° from the body of the hose clamp 14 and oriented parallel to each other, each tab having a hole therethrough for the passage of a screw 20 for drawing the tabs closer together when a nut 22 is threaded on the screw 20. By tightening the nut 22 on the screw 20, the tabs 18 are drawn closer together, thereby reducing the diameter of the hose clamp section 14 so that the hose clamp 14 may grip a pipe section inserted into the upper end 16 of the pipe section 12. Similarly, a lower hose clamp section 24 disposed at the lower end 26 of pipe section 12 includes tabs 28, screw 30 and nut 32 for drawing tabs 28 closer together to tighten hose clamp section 24 around a pipe section inserted into the lower end 26 of the pipe section 12. In a typical prior art infeed elbow connector 10, the inside diameter of the lower end of the pipe section 12 is nominally 0.875 inches. This diameter accommodates the industry standard outside diameter of the infeed pipe of the paintball gun. The clamping action of hose clamp 14 is facilitated by the T-shaped slot 38 in the side wall of hose clamp 14 by permitting bending to occur in the body of the hose claim 14 to allow the movement of the tabs 18 under the force exerted by the screw 20 and nut 22. Similarly, the lower hose clamp 24 includes a T-shaped slot 40 in the sidewall of the hose clamp 24 to permit the tabs 28 to be drawn more closely together when the nut 32 is tightened on of the screw 30. Also shown in FIG. 1A by dashed lines are internal shoulders 34 and 36 which limit the entrance of a pipe section being clamped into the respective end 16 or 26 of the infeed elbow connector 10 for clamping therein.

[0017] Referring now to FIG. 1B, there is illustrated a top view of the prior art infeed elbow connector illustrated in FIG. 1A. The features of the prior art connector identified in FIG. 1B bear the same reference numbers and descriptions as the corresponding structures of FIG. 1A and are in fact the same features. It will be apparent to persons skilled in the art that the hose clamp design of the prior art infeed elbow connector 10 has several disadvantages. Among them are included the requirement for tools to secure the hose clamp portions of the infeed elbow around the inserted pipe sections and perhaps more significantly the inherent distortion of the hose clamp section itself due to the bending of the portions of the hose clamp in the vicinity of the tabs that are drawn together by the action of the screw and nut. This distortion, when applied to an inlet pipe section which is not completely rigid may also distort the pipe section and cause the cross section of the internal passage of the pipe to depart from a circle. Such distortion can limit the passage of paintballs therethrough and may lead to jamming of the paintballs therein.

[0018] In the description of the various embodiments of the present invention disclosed herein, some of the illustrations show an infeed connector having an angle of approximately 45 degrees formed in the tubular portion of the infeed connector, as is typically found in paintball-and-hopper assemblies presently available. However, there is no reason that the infeed tube and connector assemblies of the present disclosure must be limited to 45 degrees and may not be formed or oriented at different angles. In fact, any angular orientation around the centerline of the paintball gun barrel, or a variety of positions along that centerline are possible, using the infeed connector assemblies of the present disclosure. Some orientations naturally take advantage of gravity feed from the paintball hopper; other orientations rely on some type of supplemental force to cause the paintballs to pass through the infeed assembly into the paintball gun. Thus, it is to be understood that while an infeed elbow configuration having a 45 degree angle is illustrated herein, infeed tube connectors and assemblies may embody other angles ranging from zero degrees, i.e., a straight infeed connector, up to 90 degrees and still be contemplated within the teachings of the present disclosure. It will be appreciated therefore that the term “infeed elbow” may be generalized to “infeed connector,” yet refer to the same structure and function of providing for passage of a paintball between a reservoir of paintballs and the firing chamber of the paintball gun to which it is attached. Several of these alternate embodiments will be described hereinbelow.

[0019] Referring now to FIG. 2A there is illustrated a side view of an infeed elbow according to the present disclosure that utilizes compression fittings to exert a uniform clamping force around a pipe section that is inserted into an end of the infeed elbow. The infeed connector 42 of FIG. 2A includes the pipe section 44 which is internally very similar to the pipe section 12 of the FIGS. 1A and 1B except that the ends of the pipe section are configured with compression fittings instead of hose clamp type clamping devices. The upper end 46 of pipe section 44 includes therearound a tapered portion of the compression fitting. This tapered portion 48 is provided uniformly around the full circumference of the upper end 46 of the pipe section 44. Included in the upper end 46 of the pipe section 44 are a plurality of longitudinal slots 50 which extend from the upper end 46 of the pipe section 44 longitudinally along the pipe section for a distance that extends beyond the tapered portion 48 and through the threaded region of the pipe section 44. The length of the longitudinal slots 50 will be predetermined for each embodiment, depending on such factors as thickness and stiffness of the material used for the infeed connector pipe section.

[0020] Disposed around the pipe section 44 beginning at the edge of the tapered section 48 away from the upper end of the pipe section 46 are a series of annular threads 52 which extend for at least two complete circuits around the pipe section 44. A compression nut 54, which includes a corresponding tapered section and annular threads to be described hereinbelow, is shown immediately above the upper end 46 of the infeed connector 42 of FIG. 2A. The operation of a compression fitting is well known in the art and will only be briefly described herein. When compression nut 54 is inserted onto the upper end 46 of the infeed connector 42 and rotated therearound to engage the corresponding annular threads, the opposing tapered portions of both the compression nut 54 and the upper end 46 of the infeed tube are engaged to cause the portions of the infeed tube between the longitudinal slots to bend inward and grip the outer surface of a pipe section inserted into the upper end 46 of the infeed connector 42. The lower end 56 of the infeed connector 42 is configured exactly the same way as the upper end 46 and includes a compression nut 58 for exerting the clamping force around a pipe section inserted into the lower end 56 of the infeed connector 42. FIG. 2A also includes dashed lines showing the internal structure of the pipe section 44 wherein are shown the internal shoulders 60 and 62 for limiting the entrance of the pipe sections which are clamped within the interior of the infeed connector 42.

[0021] Referring now to FIG. 2B there is illustrated a top view of the infeed connector 42 of the present disclosure shown in FIG. 2A having the same structural features as the infeed elbow of FIG. 2A and identified by the same reference numbers. In FIGS. 2A and 2B the inside diameters of both the upper end 46 and the lower end 56 of the pipe section 44 are dimensioned to accommodate the respective industry standard outside diameters of the outlet pipe of the bulk loading hopper and the infeed pipe of the paintball gun. FIG. 2B shows six longitudinal slots 50 evenly arrayed around the circumference of the pipe section 44 at the upper end 46. The number of longitudinal slots 50 which may be used is variable and depends on such properties as the thickness and flexibility of the material of the infeed below. Generally, good results may be achieved with four to eight longitudinal slots, equally spaced around the circumference of the pipe section 44. It can thus be seen in FIG. 2B that the end portions of the pipe section 44 between each pair of longitudinal slots 50 may be bent inward by the force exerted thereon by the compression nut 54 thus tending to clamp a pipe section inserted into the upper end of the infeed connector 42. Since these end sections of the upper end 46 of the pipe section 44 of the infeed connector 42 are of uniform thickness and width and placed under uniform pressure from the action of the compression nut 54, it can be readily appreciated that the force exerted upon a pipe section inserted into the infeed connector 42 will enable the pipe section to be uniformly gripped around its full circumference. This action minimizes any distortion that might take place because of the uniform distribution of longitudinal slots 50 around the pipe section 44 and the flexible construction of the pipe section that may be inserted therein. Moreover, it can also be appreciated that the compression nut, which includes a fluted outer surface for an improved grip, may be installed and tightened by hand without the use of tools. The surface of the compression nut may also be knurled or provided with other types of slip-resistant finishes.

[0022] Referring now to FIG. 3, there is illustrated an infeed connector 42 of one embodiment of the present disclosure as it might be manufactured showing the same features as the infeed connector 42 of FIGS. 2A and 2B and having corresponding features bearing the same reference numbers and descriptions. A somewhat more detailed view of the compression nuts is shown in FIG. 3, particularly that the compression nut 54 includes the internal tapered portion 64 which complements the dimensions of the tapered portion 48 when the compression nut 54 is installed upon the upper end 46 of the infeed elbow 42. Also shown is a portion of the interior annular thread 66 which engages the exterior annular thread 52 on the body of the pipe section 44 of the infeed elbow 42. Compression nut 54 includes machinings 68 for providing a more easily gripped surface of the compression nut 54 to permit it to be installed by hand. These machinings 68 may provide a fluted or a knurled finish or an otherwise roughened surface by machining or by molding operations upon the surface of the compression nut 54. The lower end 56 of the infeed connector 42 of FIG. 3 also includes a compression nut 54 having the same features as the compression nut disposed above the upper end 46 of the infeed connector 42. The compression nut 54 at the lower end 56 of the infeed connector 42 clearly shows the internal taper 64 and the internal annular thread 66 which cooperate with the taper 48 and the longitudinal slots 50 and the annular threads 52 to provide the action of the compression fitting for securing a pipe section within the lower end 56 of the infeed connector 42. In FIG. 3 the inside diameters of both the upper end 46 and the lower end 56 of the pipe section 44 are dimensioned to accommodate the respective industry standard outside diameters of the outlet pipe of the bulk loading hopper and the infeed pipe of the paintball gun.

[0023] Referring now to FIG. 4, there is illustrated an exploded view of a paintball gun with a bulk loading hopper full of paintballs and an infeed elbow connector of the present disclosure. This infeed elbow connector provides the connecting structure for securely installing the bulk loading hopper upon the paintball gun and permitting the free passage of paintballs therethrough during the operation of the paintball gun. Paintball gun 70 includes a gun barrel 72 and a firing chamber portion 74 along with an inlet pipe 76. The inlet pipe 76 joins the firing chamber 74 of the paintball gun 70 at an angle relative to a vertical reference passing through the longitudinal centerline CL of the paintball gun barrel 72 and disposed to the right from this reference. The longitudinal centerline CL is shown in FIG. 4 as a dashed line through the gun barrel 72 and firing chamber 74. A bulk loading hopper 80 is shown filled with paintballs 82 and is equipped with an outlet pipe 84. The infeed elbow pipe section 44, as also illustrated in FIGS. 2A, 2B and 3, includes the compression nuts 54 to be installed on both the upper end and the lower end of the infeed elbow pipe section 44 to assemble the units together. The infeed connector 42 is installed over the inlet pipe 76 until the upper end of the inlet pipe 76 is secure against the internal shoulder 62 of the infeed elbow pipe section 44 (see FIG. 2A). The compression nut 54 is tightened around the lower end of the infeed elbow pipe section 44 to secure the infeed elbow pipe section 44 upon the inlet pipe 76. Similarly, the outlet pipe 84 of the hopper 80 is inserted into the upper end of the infeed elbow pipe section 44 until it butts against the internal shoulder 60 of the infeed elbow pipe section 44 (shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B) and the compression nut 54 at the upper end of the infeed connector 42 is tightened to secure the outlet pipe 84 within the infeed elbow pipe section 44. As described hereinabove, the compression nuts 54 may be tightened by hand. The round cross sections of the outlet pipe and the inlet pipe are maintained and a precise angular adjustment of the outlet pipe and the inlet pipe within the infeed elbow is achieved while tightening the compression nuts 54 upon the infeed elbow pipe section 44.

[0024] Referring now to FIG. 5, there is illustrated a rear view of the paintball gun 70, the infeed connector 42 and the bulk loading hopper 80 of the present disclosure assembled together as described in the previous description for FIG. 4 hereinabove. From this rear view along the center line mentioned previously in the description of FIG. 4, there is shown the outside surface of the firing chamber 74 joined with the inlet pipe 76, the inlet pipe 76 protruding at an angle in this embodiment of approximately 45 degrees from the vertical, and into the lower end of the infeed elbow pipe section 44 to be tightened therein with the compression nut 54. The internal passage through the infeed elbow pipe section 44 is bent at an angle of approximately 45 degrees to return the direction of the interior passage of the infeed elbow pipe section to a vertical direction in line with the outlet pipe 84 that extends below the bulk loading hopper 80. The outlet pipe 84 is similarly tightened within the infeed connector 42 by the action of the compression nut 54. Because of the uniform clamping force provided by the compression fittings and the compression nuts at each end of the infeed connector 42, the interior passage from the bulk loading hopper 80 all the way into the firing chamber 74 is maintained in alignment and with a round cross section permitting the free passage of the round paintballs through the outlet pipe, the infeed connector and the inlet pipe. In some embodiments the angle between the firing chamber 74 center line and the inlet pipe 76 may vary from the approximately 45 degrees shown in FIG. 5 to suit particular requirements. This angle may be anywhere between 0 degrees, that is a vertical direction, or 90 degrees, that is a horizontal direction. As an example, in many embodiments an angle in the range of approximately 30 degrees to approximately 60 degrees provides an angle which satisfies both the need for offsetting the bulk loading hopper out of the line of sight of the user of the paintball gun as well as the need to provide a downward sloping passage to enable the free and expeditious passage of the paintballs therethrough. The angle of the infeed elbow is chosen in the illustrated embodiment, as a 45 degree angle which returns the outlet pipe to a vertical direction to maximize the opportunity for paintballs to fall through the outlet pipe and the infeed elbow into the inlet pipe to the firing chamber of the paintball gun.

[0025] Referring now to FIG. 6, there is illustrated a side view of an alternate embodiment of a paintball gun with a bulk loading hopper full of paintballs and an integral infeed connector according to the present disclosure. This integral infeed connector provides the connecting structure for securely installing the bulk loading hopper upon the paintball gun and permitting the free passage of paintballs therethrough during the operation of the paintball gun. Paintball gun 70 includes a gun barrel 72 and a firing chamber portion 74 along with an inlet pipe 76. The inlet pipe 76 joins the firing chamber 74 of the paintball gun 70 at an angle disposed to the right from the reference point (see FIGS. 4 and 5), along the center line shown as a dashed line through the gun barrel 72 and firing chamber 74. A bulk loading hopper 86 is shown filled with paintballs 82 and is equipped with an outlet pipe section 88 which includes an integral infeed connector 92 having an annular compression nut 90 installed therearound. This combined outlet pipe section 88 (also called the infeed connector pipe section 88) and annular compression nut is referred to hereinbelow as the integral infeed connector 92 of the present disclosure. The integral infeed connector 92 has the same external and internal structural features as described for the lower end of the infeed elbow 42 of FIGS. 2A and 3. The integral infeed connector 92 of the bulk loading hopper 86 is installed over the inlet pipe 76 until the upper end of the inlet pipe 76 is secure against the internal shoulder 62 of the infeed connector pipe section 88 as shown in FIG. 2A. Then the compression nut 90 is tightened around the lower end of the infeed connector 92 to secure the infeed connector 92 and loading hopper 86 upon the inlet pipe 76. Thus, the outlet pipe section 88 of the hopper 86 is installed over the upper end of the inlet pipe 76. As described hereinabove, the compression nuts 90 may be tightened by hand. The round cross sections of the outlet pipe section 88 and the inlet pipe 76 are maintained and a precise angular adjustment of the outlet pipe and the inlet pipe within the elbow connector 92 is achieved while tightening the compression nuts 90.

[0026] Referring now to FIG. 7, there is illustrated an alternate embodiment of a compression-type connector for joining a paintball hopper to a paintball gun. In the lower portion of FIG. 7 there is shown a gun barrel 72 and a firing chamber portion 74 of a paintball gun similar to that illustrated in FIG. 6. Attached to the firing chamber portion 74 of the paintball gun is an infeed tube 100 shown partially cut away along a diameter of the infeed tube 100 in the plane of the sheet of FIG. 7 to show the internal structure of the infeed tube 100. The internal structure of the infeed tube 100 includes an internal bore 102 dimensioned to allow the free passage of a paintball therethrough. The internal bore 102 increases upwardly, in the upper portion of the infeed tube 100 in FIG. 7, to a wider diameter 104. The wider diameter 104 and the internal bore 102 are joined by a tapered bore section 106, the purpose of which will become clear hereinbelow. The upper end of the infeed tube 100 includes an opening 108 having the same diameter as the wider diameter portion 104. Also shown in FIG. 7 within the internal bore of infeed tube 100 is a series of internal annular threads 110.

[0027] Continuing further with FIG. 7 there is illustrated a compression fitting 116 configured generally as a hollow-center screw having a knob portion 118, which knob portion 118 includes a fluted or knurled outer surface 120. Compression fitting 116 further includes an internal bore shown in the dashed lines 122 for receiving the outflow tube 114 of the paintball hopper 112 therewithin. The compression fitting 116 further includes a body 124 having a diameter slightly less than the wider diameter 104 of the infeed tube 100. The body of the compression fitting 116 further includes a tapered portion 126 which corresponds to the tapered portion 106 of the infeed tube 100. The body 124 of the compression fitting 116 also includes an opening 128 of approximately the same diameter as the internal bore 102 of the infeed tube 100 for the passage of paintballs therethrough. Formed around the outer surface of the body 124 in the tapered section 126 of the compression fitting 116 is a series of external annular threads 130 of the same pitch as the internal annular threads 110 of the infeed tube 100. Compression fitting 116 also includes a plurality of longitudinal slots 134 cut through the body 124 in the tapered section 126 of the compression fitting 116. These longitudinal slots, of which there are typically four to eight slots evenly positioned around the circumference of the body 124 in the tapered section 126, enable each of the portions of the tapered section 126 of the compression fitting between the slots to be slightly bent as the compression fitting 116 is threaded into the infeed tube 100 wherein the external annular threads 130 engage with the internal annular threads of the infeed tube 100 to exert a clapping force upon the outflow tube 114 of the paintball hopper 112 as it is inserted through the compression fitting 116 and into the infeed tube 100. The compression fitting 116 may be tightened by hand to clamp the outflow tube 114 within the infeed tube 100 while maintaining alignment along a common centerline (not shown), respectively passing through outflow tube 114, compression fitting 116 and infeed tube 100, and permitting the free passage of paintballs therethrough.

[0028] Referring now to FIG. 8A, there is illustrated a rearview of a paintball gun and possible positions and angular orientations of alternate embodiments of infeed connectors according to the present disclosure. Some of the reference numbers appearing in FIG. 8A are the same as those appearing in FIG. 5 which relate to the same structures. Other reference numbers representing the same structures in differing positions are referenced with a reference number having an alpha suffix to indicate the similarity of the structure with FIG. 5 though they may be oriented in different positions. In FIG. 8A, there is illustrated a rearview of a paintball gun 70 having a firing chamber 74 shown with a vertical centerline indicated by the designation VL. Oriented along this vertical centerline VL are phantom representations shown in dashed lines of two positions or orientations of infeed tubes 76. In the uppermost phantom view, infeed tube 76A is shown with compression nut 54A. In the lower orientation, infeed tube 76B is shown with compression nut 54B. These two phantom views indicate two possible orientations of the infeed tubes 76A and B. However, the circular lines 51 and 53 indicate that the orientation of an infeed tube 76 may be at any angle with respect to the vertical centerline VL and on either side of the paintball gun 70 as represented by the curved line 51 on the right side and the curved line 53 on the left side of FIG. 8A.

[0029] Referring now to FIG. 8B, there is illustrated a side view of an alternate embodiment of a paintball gun 70 and some possible alternate orientations of infeed connectors in one of many possible positions relative to the longitudinal centerline CL according to the present disclosure. FIG. 8B includes the same firing chamber 74 of the paintball gun 70 as shown in FIG. 8A along with the two vertically oriented positions of the infeed tube 76A and 76B as shown in FIG. 8A but from a side view perspective positioned along a rearward extension 75 of the firing chamber 74 of the paintball gun 70. Each infeed tube 76A and 76B includes a compression nut respectively 90A and 90B. The phantom representations of the infeed tube 76A and 76B in FIG. 8B represent just two possible positions both angularly as shown in FIG. 8A. Alternatively, infeed tube 76A or 76B may be positioned at various positions longitudinally along the centerline of the firing chamber 74 as shown in FIG. 8B. Not shown in either FIG. 8A or FIG. 8B are the connecting structures from the paintball hopper which has been previously described. It will be understood that the operation of the compression fitting connector of the present disclosure is the same in FIGS. 8A and 8B as previously described hereinabove.

[0030] It will be appreciated in reference to FIGS. 7, 8A and 8B that the infeed connectors assemblies of the present disclosure may be oriented in a variety of positions around the firing chamber 74 of a paintball gun 70. As disclosed hereinabove, when the infeed tube is positioned above the centerline CL of the firing chamber 74 that gravity feed may be advantageously used to introduce paintballs into the firing chamber 74 from the paintball hopper. When the infeed tube is oriented or positioned below the centerline CL of the firing chamber 74, other methods requiring some sort of supplemental force to cause the paintballs to pass through the infeed tubes will of course be required as will be readily recognized by a person skilled in the art.

[0031] The infeed connector illustrated in FIGS. 2A, 2B, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8A and 8B may be manufactured of a wide variety of materials either by molding or machining, such materials including a wide variety of plastics or metal. The material used and the process used for manufacture may depend upon individual application requirements as well as the degree of precision required by the application or to meet specified cost objectives. Moreover, the infeed connector of the present disclosure is not limited to use with a paintball gun and the bulk loading hopper as described, but may be applied in other applications where it is desired to join two pipe sections through a straight or curved structure permitting easy installation and adjustment without hand tools in order to maintain a nearly perfect round cross section through the infeed connector and the connections of the pipe sections. The pipe sections and the infeed connectors of the present disclosure thus permit the free passage of round objects or other materials through them.

[0032] Although the preferred embodiment has been described in detail, it should be understood that various changes, substitutions and alterations can be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7040308 *Jun 13, 2003May 9, 2006Ciesiun Paul MDevice and method for illuminating luminescent paintballs
US7252080 *Jan 5, 2005Aug 7, 2007Sunworld Industrial Co., Ltd.Paintball gun loading device
US7318428 *Apr 5, 2002Jan 15, 2008Avalon Advanced Products, Inc.Paint ball gun having paint ball dispenser with threaded connector
US7392802 *Sep 26, 2006Jul 1, 2008Sunwold Industrial Co., Ltd.Paintball gun loading device
US7677234 *Feb 2, 2009Mar 16, 2010Avalon Advanced Products, Inc.Paint ball gun having paint ball dispenser with snap connector
US7775199 *Jan 8, 2008Aug 17, 2010Avalon Advanced Products, Inc.Paint ball gun having paint ball dispenser with threaded connector
WO2008114463A1 *Mar 19, 2007Sep 25, 2008Tatsuo IwasawaSide bullet feed device in imitation gun
Classifications
U.S. Classification124/56
International ClassificationF41B11/02
Cooperative ClassificationF41B11/52
European ClassificationF41B11/52