REFERENCE TO CROSS-RELATED APPLICATIONS
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
This application claims priority to provisional Application No. 60/477,315, filed on Jun. 9, 2003.
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to an inflatable toy rocket that can be propelled by a fluid pressure.
2. Prior Art
There have been marketed various fluid powered toys. For example, Tomy Toys marketed a line of toy products under the name AIR JAMMER ROAD RAMMERS that included a molded plastic car powered by air pressure created through a hand-held pump.
There have been marketed various types of fluid pressured rockets that can be propelled from a stand. U.S. Pat. No. 6,347,623 assigned to Spin Master Toys discloses a toy rocket that can be pressurized with a combination of liquid and air pressure. The pressure is created through a hand operated pump. Both Spin Master Toys and Ohio Art Co. separately marketed liquid/air powered toy rockets. These rockets were relatively small in size, being under 1 foot in length.
Although these prior art products were intended for children, their utilization of rigid fuselages created safety concerns because the pressurized launch of a hard plastic object, either by a child or with children present, could present a hazard should the hard plastic fuselage strike the child.
- BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Estes Industries marketed a solid fuel propelled rocket that included an inflatable MYLAR fuselage. The inflatable fuselage was six feet long. Unfortunately, many local ordinances preclude the firing of solid fuel rockets thereby limiting the usefulness of the toy.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
A toy rocket with an inflatable fuselage that is supported by a stand. The toy rocket includes a pump that can create a fluid pressure, and a release mechanism that allows the pressure to propel the inflatable fuselage from the stand.
FIG. 1 is a side view of a toy rocket;
FIG. 2 is an exploded view of the toy rocket;
FIGS. 3A-B are side views showing the operation of a safety mechanism of the toy rocket;
FIGS. 4A-B are side views showing the operation of an alternate embodiment of the safety mechanism;
FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view showing an embodiment of a release mechanism.
Disclosed is a toy rocket with an inflatable fuselage that may have a height between 3 to 20 feet. The inflatable fuselage is propelled from a stand by fluid pressure. The fluid pressure is preferably created through both hydraulic and pneumatic pressure to create a relatively high pressure level. The high fluid pressure can lift the relatively large fuselage a considerable distance into the air. Utilizing a fuselage that is inflatable allows for a large fuselage that can be deflated and stored in a marketable package. The liquid/air pressure creates a pressure source that is both safe and sufficient to propel the large fuselage into the air. The inflatable fuselage will also be less likely to cause injury if it strikes a person.
Referring to the drawings more particularly by reference numbers, FIGS. 1 and 2 show an embodiment of a toy rocket 10. The toy rocket 10 includes an inflatable fuselage 12 that can be propelled from a stand 14. The fuselage 12 is constructed from a flexible material that can be inflated with a gas such as air. By way of example, the fuselage 12 may have an inlet port 16 that allows a user to manually pressurize the fuselage 12. The fuselage 12 may be constructed from a relatively lightweight yet durable material such as MYLAR (polyester film) with a wall thickness between 0.010 and 0.035 inches. Although MYLAR has been described, it is to be understood that other lightweight and durable materials could be used such as polyethylene. The fuselage 12 is preferably relatively large with a height between 3 to 20 feet. This provides a toy with a size that more accurately simulates the height of a non-toy rocket.
The toy rocket 10 may include a base 18 that receives a bottom portion of the inflatable fuselage 12. The base 18 provides a means to structurally support and couple the fuselage 12 to the stand 14. The base 18 may be constructed from a lightweight foam material. A plurality of fins 20 can be attached to the base 18 to improve the aerodynamic performance of the fuselage.
The rocket 10 may have a pressure chamber 22 that is also located within the base 18. The pressure chamber 22 may contain a fluid pressure that propels the fuselage 12, base 18 and chamber 22 from the stand 14. The pressure chamber 22 may be constructed from a hard plastic material, such as polyethylene terephthelate, that is able to withstand relatively high pressures without rupture.
The pressure chamber 22 is in fluid communication with an inner channel 24 of the stand 14. The inner channel 24 can be in fluid communication with a liquid tank 26. The liquid tank 26 can be filled with a liquid such as water through an opening 28 and sealed with a top 30. The liquid tank 26 can be coupled to a pump 32 by a hose 34. The pump 32 may have a handle 36 that can be manually operated to create a pressure within the tank 26 and the pressure chamber 22.
The toy rocket 10 may have a release mechanism 40 that releases the pressure chamber 22 from the stand 14 so that the internal fluid pressure propels the fuselage 12, base 18 and chamber 22. The release mechanism 40 may include a lever arm 42 that is pivotally connected to a collar 44 by linkages 46. The collar 44 may contain an O-ring 48 to seal the bottle 22. The bottle 22 may have a groove 50 that cooperates with the release mechanism 40 to secure and release the base 18, pressure chamber 22 and fuselage 12. The toy rocket may further have a splash guard 52.
In operation, the user inflates the fuselage 12 and inserts the inflated fuselage 12 into the base 18. The base 18 and pressure chamber 22 are loaded onto the stand 14.
The user operates the pump 32 to increase the pressure in the liquid tank 26 and the pressure chamber 22. The user then depresses the lever 42 to release the pressure chamber 22 from the stand 14. The pressure of the fluid within the pressure chamber 22 creates a propulsion force that lifts the fuselage 12, base 18 and chamber 22 into the air away from the stand.
As shown in FIGS. 3A and 3B, the toy rocket 10 may have a safety mechanism 60 that prevents propulsion of the fuselage 12 unless the stand 14 is on the ground. This prevents a user from holding and firing the fuselage 12 at another person. The safety mechanism 60 may include a spring loaded cam 62 that is coupled to a safety pin 64. The safety pin 64 may become locked into a corresponding aperture 66 in the lever mechanism 42.
When the stand 14 is on a surface such as the ground, the cam 62 is pushed into an upward position. Movement of the cam 62 pulls the pin 64 out of the aperture 66 so that the lever 42 can be depressed as shown in FIG. 3A. If the stand 14 is not on a surface the pin 64 remains within the aperture 66 and locks the lever 42 as shown in FIG. 3B.
As shown in FIGS. 4A and 4B, the safety mechanism 60′ may include a universal joint 68 that inhibits the release of the fuselage when the stand 14 is tilted at an angle. The universal joint 68 may have a slot 70 that receives an end 72 of the cam 62.
When the stand 14 is in a horizontal position the cam end 72 moves into the slot 70 to allow movement of the cam 62 and pin 64, as shown in FIG. 4A. Movement of the pin 64 allows the lever 42 to be depressed and the fuselage to be launched. If the stand 14 is tilted, the cam end 72 cannot move into the slot 70 and the pin 64 remains in the lever aperture 66, as shown in FIG. 4B. The safety mechanism 60′ insures a vertical lift of the fuselage, thereby improving the safety of the toy rocket 10.
FIG. 5 is an embodiment of a release mechanism 40. The release mechanism 40 may include one or more flexible fingers 80 that extend through openings 82 of the stand 14 and into the groove 50 of the bottle 22. The flexible fingers 80 have a spring force that bias the fingers 80 away from the groove 50.
When the collar 44 is moved in a downward direction, cam portions 84 of the fingers 80 become aligned with grooves 86 of the collar 44. This alignment of the cam portions 84 and grooves 86 allow the spring forces to move the fingers out of the groove 50 to release the bottle 22. The collar 44 is moved by the lever (shown in FIG. 2). The release mechanism 40 may have a spring 88 that returns the collar 44 back to the original position.
While certain exemplary embodiments have been described and shown in the accompanying drawings, it is to be understood that such embodiments are merely illustrative of and not restrictive on the broad invention, and that this invention not be limited to the specific constructions and arrangements shown and described, since various other modifications may occur to those ordinarily skilled in the art.