Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS20050022688 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/893,074
Publication dateFeb 3, 2005
Filing dateJul 15, 2004
Priority dateJul 28, 2003
Also published asDE102004036571A1
Publication number10893074, 893074, US 2005/0022688 A1, US 2005/022688 A1, US 20050022688 A1, US 20050022688A1, US 2005022688 A1, US 2005022688A1, US-A1-20050022688, US-A1-2005022688, US2005/0022688A1, US2005/022688A1, US20050022688 A1, US20050022688A1, US2005022688 A1, US2005022688A1
InventorsNoriyoshi Asada
Original AssigneeSmk Corporation, Tomy Company, Ltd.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Apparatus for projecting image from a model vehicle
US 20050022688 A1
Abstract
A model apparatus is provided in that images from a model vehicle can be continuously watched on a monitor even when the model vehicle travels through a place surrounded by a shielding material. An image signal transmission route from the model vehicle to the monitor uses conductive rail lines for guiding the model vehicle and supplying drive power to a drive motor, so that even when there is an electromagnetic shielding material in the vicinity of a place where the model vehicle travels, the images can be continuously displayed on the monitor.
Images(5)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(7)
1. A model apparatus comprising:
a track composed of a conductive rail track connected to a drive power supply for guiding a model vehicle;
a drive motor mounted on the model vehicle for driving the model vehicle to travel on the track by receiving drive power via a contact portion of the model vehicle on the track;
an imaging camera mounted on the model vehicle for picking up images from the inside of the model vehicle;
a monitor for displaying the images picked up by the imaging camera at a position separate from the model vehicle;
an FM modulation circuit unit mounted on the model vehicle for outputting a modulated image signal to the contact portion by FM-modulating the image signal produced by the imaging camera; and
an FM demodulation circuit unit connected to the track for demodulating the modulated image signal received from the track and outputting to the monitor.
2. An apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the model vehicle is a model train, and the contact portion is a wheel rolling in contact on the track.
3. An apparatus according to claim 2, wherein the model train comprises a plurality of vehicles connected to each other, and the model vehicle having the drive motor mounted thereon comprises an auxiliary battery mounted thereon for supplying electric power to the imaging camera and the FM modulation circuit unit.
4. An apparatus according to claim 3, wherein the wheel of the model vehicle having the drive motor outputs the modulated image signals.
5. An apparatus according to claim 2, wherein the FM modulation circuit unit comprises a matching transformer for converting modulated image signals produced in an unbalanced form into those in a balanced form so as to be output to each wheel contacting a pair of rail tracks.
6. An apparatus according to claim 3, wherein the FM modulation circuit unit comprises a matching transformer for converting modulated image signals produced in an unbalanced form into those in a balanced form so as to be output to each wheel contacting a pair of rail tracks.
7. An apparatus according to claim 4, wherein the FM modulation circuit unit comprises a matching transformer for converting modulated image signals produced in an unbalanced form into those in a balanced form so as to be output to each wheel contacting a pair of rail tracks.
Description
INCORPORATION BY REFERENCE

The present application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. 119 to Japanese patent application No. 2003-281082 filed on Jul. 28, 2003. The content of the application is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a model apparatus in that a model train is driven along a track, and more specifically it relates to a model apparatus in that images viewed from the inside of the model train are displayed on a monitor separated from the model train.

2. Description of the Related Art

A model apparatus has been known, in which a model train traveling on a railroad has an imaging camera at the head thereof for picturing images of the traveling direction so that one can see images of the traveling direction as if he or she were sitting on a driver's seat by displaying the images on a monitor installed at a position separated from the model train, in Japanese Unexamined Patent Application Publication No. 11-319332, for example.

This conventional model apparatus 100 will be described with reference to FIG. 4. To a railroad 102, on which a model train 101 travels, an AC power supply 103 for driving the model train 101 and a train controller 104 having a control unit 104a housed therein are connected.

The control unit 104 a includes an operation signal processor 105 for receiving operation signals representing various operations of the train controller 104 so as to display the operational contents by flashing lamps of the train controller 104 and a digital control-signal converter 106 for converting an operational signal into a digital control-signal so as to be fed to the railroad 102.

The model train 101 includes a decoder 108 for receiving a digital control signal via wheels 107 rolling on the railroad 102, a drive motor 109 controlled by the decoder 108, a CCD camera 110 for imaging the traveling direction of a train, a transmitter 111 connected to the output of the CCD camera 110 and having a sending antenna 111 a, and a power supply filter 115 for supplying DC voltages to the decoder 108, the CCD camera 110, and the transmitter 111 by converting AC voltages supplied to the railroad 102 via the wheels 107 into the DC voltages, these elements being mounted on the model train 101.

At a position separated from the model train 101, for example, in the vicinity of the train controller 104, a tuner 112 having a receiving antenna 112a and a monitor 113 connected to the output of the tuner 112 are arranged.

On the model train 101 having the drive motor 109 mounted thereon, a weight 114 made of a metal block shown in FIG. 4 is generally mounted so as to increase the self-weight of the model train 101. Thereby, the AC power supply voltage is transmitted to the decoder 108 and the power supply filter 115 without attenuating the AC power supply voltage by contact resistance due to the reduction in the contact resistance between the wheel 107 and the railroad 102, and also the model train 101 can efficiently travel without slippage between the railroad 102 and the wheel 107 drivingly connected to the drive motor 109.

In a model apparatus 100 structured in such a manner, when the train controller 104 is operated so as to produce control signals of acceleration and deceleration of the model train 101, digital control signals converted by the digital control-signal converter 106 are entered to the decoder 108 via the railroad 102 and the wheels 107. The decoder 108 controls the rotation of the drive motor 109 based on the digital control signals so that the model train 101 is accelerated or decelerated in accordance with the control signal.

The CCD camera 110 mounted at the front of the model train 101 produces a photo-electrically converted image signal of a progress direction to the transmitter 111, which in turn sends the high-frequency signal modulated from the image signal from the sending antenna 111 a.

The high-frequency signal sent from the sending antenna 111 a is received to the receiving antenna 112 a by the tuner 112 tuning on a channel of the sending frequency band of the transmitter 111 so as to produce the demodulated image signal on the monitor 113.

Thereby, one can operate the train controller 104 viewing images of the progress direction as if he or she were sitting on the driver's seat of the model train 101.

In the conventional model apparatus 100 described above, an image signal picked up by the CCD camera 110 is transmitted as a radio signal from the sending antenna 111 a adjacent to the model train 101 to the receiving antenna 112 a adjacent to the monitor 113, wherein when the model train 101 passes thorough a tunnel and a bridge made of conductive materials, these materials block off the high-frequency radio signal, so that the image signal is temporarily cut off and the image on the monitor 113 is hard to watch. Since only a radio signal with weak power can be used especially in a general model apparatus, this problem becomes noticeable furthermore in surroundings that electromagnetic waves exist in the vicinity.

Also, in order to transmit an image signal to the monitor 113 by a wireless system, expensive circuit elements such as the transmitter 111, the sending and receiving antennas 111 a and 112 a, and the tuner 112 are required so as to increase the entire cost of the model apparatus 100.

Moreover, attaching the sending antenna 111 a to the model train 101 impairs the appearance of a model of an actual object.

Also, mounting the weight 114 on the model train 101 for increasing its self weight requires additional components and an assembling process for fixing them to the model train 101.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention has been made in view of such problems, and it is an object of the present invention to provide a model apparatus in that images from a model train can be continuously watched on a monitor even when the model train travels through a place surrounded by a shielding material.

In order to solve the problem described above, according to the present invention, an FM modulated image signal from an imaging camera is entered to a track composed of a conductive rail line via a contact portion, and an FM demodulation circuit connected to the track demodulates the modulated image signal so as to be fed to a monitor. Since the image signal is entered to the FM demodulation circuit connected to the track as the FM-modulated image signal, the image signal is transmitted from a model train to the monitor without being affected by noise due to a drive power supply and a drive motor connected to the track.

According to the present invention, the image signal transmission route from the model train to the monitor uses the track composed of the conductive rail line for guiding the model train and supplying drive power to the drive motor, so that components required for a radio transmission system are eliminated so as to reduce the cost of the model apparatus.

Also, even when there is an electromagnetic shielding material in the vicinity of a place where the model train travels, the image can be continuously displayed on the monitor.

Since the model train is not required to have a sending antenna mounted thereon, the model train may have a shape similar to a real train.

According to an embodiment of the present invention, the FM modulated image signal may be output to a rail track via wheels rolling in contact with the track. Because of rolling contact between the wheels and the rail track, although the contact pressure is not stable, the FM modulated image signal is transmitted to the track, so that the image signal can be demodulated without being affected by changes in the contact pressure. Since the wheels of the model train are used, the modulated image signal can be output to the track without impairing appearance of the model.

Also, since the model train travels on the track with a plurality of wheels, the modulated image signal can be output to the track via the plurality of wheels in parallel, so that even when contact failure is produced between a specific wheel and the track, the modulated image signal can be securely output to the track.

According to another emdobiment of the present invention, the model train having the drive motor mounted thereon may include an auxiliary battery mounted thereon, so that the train weight is increased without mounting a weight thereon and slippage between the wheels and the track is reclosed.

Since the train weight is increased without mounting the weight thereon for preventing derailing of the model train and reducing the slippage between the wheels and the track, the weight is not necessary to be prepared and assembled on the train.

According to a further embodiment of the present invention, the contact pressure between the wheels of the model train having the drive motor and the auxiliary battery mounted thereon and the track may be large, so that the attenuation of the modulated image signal due to the contact resistance is small when the signal is output to the track.

Further, the modulated image signal can be output to the track by reducing the influence due to the contact resistance between the wheels of the model train and the track. Also, since the wheels of the model train having the drive motor have greater transition so signal noise, which may interference with the modulated image signal, caused by the slipping of the wheels where the track may not be produced.

According to another embodiment of the present invention, the modulated image signal may be output in a balanced form to a pair of rail tracks via the wheels of the model train. Since the modulated image signal is output in a balanced form to the pair of rail tracks, even when wheels are placed on the pair of rail tracks without considering the direction of the model train relative thereto, the FM modulation circuit, the pair of rail tracks, and the FM demodulation circuit are matched together, so that the modulated image signal can be securely demodulated.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a block diagram of an entire model apparatus according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a schematic block diagram of a model train of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a schematic block diagram of an FM modulation circuit unit of the present invention; and

FIG. 4 is a schematic block diagram of a conventional model apparatus.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

A model apparatus according to an embodiment of the present invention will be described below with reference to FIGS. 1 to 3. As shown in FIG. 1, the model apparatus according to the embodiment is a model apparatus 1 in that a model train 2 scaled down from a real railroad train is driven to travel on rail tracks 3 and 3, which are tracks downsized in the same scale, and a DC power supply 4 is connected to the rail tracks 3 and 3 via a controller 5 as a drive power supply for the model train 2.

The DC power supply 4 is a power supply with a 5 V DC, for example, and applies a DC voltage, in which polarity and voltage are controlled by the controller 5, between a pair of the parallel rail tracks 3 and 3. The DC power supply 4 also supplies operating power to an FM demodulation circuit unit 6, which will be described later and is accommodated within a common control box 10 together with the DC power supply 4 and the controller 5.

The pair of rail tracks 3 and 3 are depicted as a continuous loop, for example an ellipse, in the drawing; alternatively, one end thereof may be terminated.

As shown in FIG. 2, the model train 2 is composed of three trains including a front train (i.e., an engine) 2A, an intermediate train 2B, and a rear end train (i.e.caboose) 2C, which are connected to each other. On the rear end train 2C, a drive motor 7 is mounted for driving the entire model train 2. To the drive motor 7, a DC voltage, which is supplied between the rail tracks 3 and 3, is applied via wheels 8C and 8C of the rear end train 2C. The drive motor 7 rotates in a forward or reverse direction in accordance with the polarity of the DC voltage applied between the rail tracks 3 and 3, and rotates at a rotation speed approximately proportional to the voltage. The rotation of the drive motor 7 is transmitted to the wheels 8C and 8C, which are drive wheels, through a worm gear (not shown) . Therefore, the travel direction and speed of the model train 2 are controlled by operating the above-mentioned controller 5 so as to control the voltage and polarity to be supplied between the rail tracks 3 and 3.

A low-pass filter 9 is connected to a power line connecting to the drive motor 7 in series so as to prevent high-frequency component noise produced by the drive of the drive motor 7 from flowing between the rail tracks 3 and 3.

On the front train 2A, a C-MOS camera 11 is mounted so as to pick up images of the progress direction of the model train 2. The output of the C-MOS camera 11 is connected to an FM modulation circuit unit 12 mounted on the intermediate train 2B so as to output a photo-electrically converted image signal.

FIG. 3 is a block diagram of the FM modulation circuit unit 12. The image signal produced by the C-MOS camera 11 is amplified by a low-frequency amplifier circuit 13 composed of an operationalamplifier so as to enter a clamp circuit 14. The clamp circuit 14 clamps a synchronization signal contained in the image signal so as to be output to an FM modulation circuit 16 via a buffer 15. The buffer 15 coverts impedance so as to match with the input impedance of the FM modulation circuit 16.

To the FM modulation circuit 16, an oscillation circuit 17 is connected for producing a constant high-frequency signal as a carrier wave. The FM modulation circuit 16 FM-modulates the carrier wave as a signal wave by the image signal received from the buffer 15 so as to produce the modulated signal to a balun transformer 18.

The balun transformer 18 is a matching converter for connecting the output of the FM modulation circuit 16, which is an unbalanced line, to a balanced line, and outputs the modulated image signal to a pair of signal-output lines 19 and 19, which are balanced lines.

The pair of signal-output lines 19 and 19 are to be connected to the both sides of the wheels 8 and 8 rolling in contact on the rail tracks 3 and 3, respectively. In FIG. 2, not only to wheels 8B and 8B of the intermediate train 2B having the FM modulation circuit unit 12 mounted thereon, but also to wheels 8C and 8C of the rear end train 2C having the drive motor 7 mounted thereon, the branched signal-output lines 19 and 19 are electrically connected. Therefore, the modulated image signals are output to the pair of rail tracks 3 and 3 from a plurality of the lateral wheels 8 and 8, respectively.

The circuits of the C-MOS camera 11 and the FM modulation circuit unit 12 are operated by two auxiliary batteries 20 and 20 mounted on the rear end train 2C as power supplies. As shown in FIG. 2, the output from the two auxiliary batteries 20 connected in series is entered to a booster circuit 21 mounted on the intermediate train 2B. The booster circuit 21 is for boosting the 3V DC voltage of the auxiliary battery 20 to 5V, and the 5V DC voltage is output to the C-MOS camera 11 and the FM modulation circuit unit 12 via the low-pass filter 22 in order to be used as operating voltages thereof. The low-pass filter 22 cut the noise produced by the booster circuit 21.

As shown in FIG. 1, the modulated image signal produced in the pair of rail tracks 3 and 3 is entered to the FM demodulation circuit unit 6 connected to the rail tracks 3 and 3. The FM demodulation circuit unit 6 demodulates the modulated image signal to an image signal by FM detection. The modulated image signal is superimposed on the DC voltage of the DC power supply 4 to be applied to the pair of rail tracks 3 and 3. Although the modulated image signal entering the FM demodulation circuit unit 6 contains noise due to changes in voltage levels by the rolling contact between the wheels 8 and the rail tracks 3 and due to the rotational operation of the drive motor 7, because of the modulated image signal due to FM modulation, the effect of the noise is eliminated during demodulation, enabling the image signal to be demodulated continuously and securely.

The image signal produced from the FM demodulation circuit unit 6 is output in the monitor 23 connected to the output of the FM demodulation circuit unit 6. Thereby, images of the progress direction of the model train 2 can be watched at a position separated from the model train 2. In the drawing, the monitor 23 is located in the vicinity of the controller 5 for controlling the travel of the model train 2, for example, so that the controller 5 can be operated as if the progress direction were viewed from a train driver's seat.

According to the embodiment, since on the rear end train 2C having the drive motor 7 mounted thereon, the two auxiliary batteries 20 and 20 for supplying electric power to the C-MOS camera 11 and the FM modulation circuit unit 12 are mounted, it is not necessary to have a weight for increasing the weight of the train in contrast to a conventional one. The contact resistance between the wheels 8C and the rail tracks 3 is thereby reduced, so that the modulated image signal can be entered to the rail tracks 3 without attenuating the signal. Moreover, since the drive wheels 8C cannot slip on the rail tracks 3, the model train 2 can be efficiently driven to travel, and furthermore noise produced by slipping in contact between the drive wheels 8C and the rail tracks 3 is prevented from being superimposed on the modulated image signal.

In the model apparatus 1 described above, a DC voltage is applied to the rail tracks from the DC power supply for driving the model train to travel; alternatively, an AC voltage may be applied thereto from an AC power supply as long as the modulated FM signal can be demodulated.

The FM modulation circuit and the drive motor may be mounted on any train, so that they may be mounted on the front train having the imaging camera mounted thereon. Therefore, it is not necessarily to have a plurality of trains connected to each other, and only one train may be used.

Furthermore, the direction picked up by the imaging camera is not limited to the progress direction of the model train, and any direction may be picked up. Therefore, the camera is not necessarily to be mounted on the head of the model trains, and may be arranged at any arbitrary position and in any arbitrary direction.

According to the embodiment described above, the model apparatus is exemplified; alternatively, a model apparatus may be applied in that a train such as a racing car is driven to travel on a model roadway with a conductive track.

Moreover, the controller for controlling the travel of the model train is not necessarily required, so that a model apparatus in that a model train travels at a constant speed may be applied to the present invention.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7394051 *Dec 28, 2005Jul 1, 2008P.I. Engineering, Inc.Image-based tracking system for model train control
US8953041Jul 27, 2012Feb 10, 2015Richard Johnson Bartlett, Sr.Wireless video for model railroad engines providing an engineer's view
WO2013078273A1 *Nov 21, 2012May 30, 2013Bartlett, WilliamWireless video system for model railroad engines
Classifications
U.S. Classification105/26.05
International ClassificationA63H30/02, A63H19/24, A63F9/14, A63H19/16
Cooperative ClassificationA63H19/16
European ClassificationA63H19/16
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jul 15, 2004ASAssignment
Owner name: SMK CORPORATION, JAPAN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:ASADA, NORIYOSHI;REEL/FRAME:015606/0290
Effective date: 20040705
Owner name: TOMY COMPANY, LTD., JAPAN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:ASADA, NORIYOSHI;REEL/FRAME:015606/0290
Effective date: 20040705