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Publication numberUS20050115549 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/928,617
Publication dateJun 2, 2005
Filing dateAug 27, 2004
Priority dateAug 28, 2003
Publication number10928617, 928617, US 2005/0115549 A1, US 2005/115549 A1, US 20050115549 A1, US 20050115549A1, US 2005115549 A1, US 2005115549A1, US-A1-20050115549, US-A1-2005115549, US2005/0115549A1, US2005/115549A1, US20050115549 A1, US20050115549A1, US2005115549 A1, US2005115549A1
InventorsDanial Jones
Original AssigneeDanial Jones
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Combination fill nipple and on/off valve for a paintball gun
US 20050115549 A1
Abstract
An integrated fill nipple and on/off valve for a paintball gun preferably includes a body. The body preferably includes a gas inlet to receive a gas from a compressed gas source and a gas outlet to transmit the gas to the paintball gun. The body also preferably contains a plug cavity for receivingly engaging a plug. The plug preferably includes a flow aperture for transmitting the gas from the inlet aperture to the outlet aperture. An actuator preferably controls the plug position and, hence, a supply of gas through the flow aperture. A fill nipple is also preferably arranged on the plug. Movement of an actuator between an “on” position and an “off” position can be configured to open and close the on/off valve. In an open position, the flow aperture is preferably positioned in communication with the inlet aperture to permit a flow of gas from the inlet aperture to the outlet aperture. Conversely, in a closed position, gas flow between the gas inlet and the gas outlet is preferably prevented. Filling of the compressed gas tank through the fill nipple can be permitted in either position or in only one of the positions.
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Claims(20)
1. An integrated on/off valve and fill nipple for a paintball gun compressed gas system, comprising:
a valve body;
an on/off valving mechanism arranged in the valve body; and
a fill nipple arranged on a member of the valving mechanism.
2. An integrated on/off valve and fill nipple according to claim 1, further comprising:
a plug cavity arranged through the valve body; and
a plug stem arranged through the plug cavity, wherein the plug stem comprises a fill nipple arranged on an end thereof, and wherein the plug stem further provides a portion of the valving mechanism.
3. An integrated on/off valve and fill nipple according to claim 2, further comprising:
a gas inlet arranged in the valve body to communicate compressed gas between a compressed gas storage tank and the plug cavity;
a gas outlet arranged in the valve body to communicate compressed gas between the plug cavity and a gas connection to the paintball gun; and
a flow aperture arranged in the plug stem to communicate compressed gas from the gas inlet to the gas outlet when the valve is in an open position.
4. An integrated on/off valve and fill nipple according to claim 1, wherein the fill nipple permits the flow of compressed gas into the compressed gas tank regardless of the position of the on/off valve.
5. An integrated on/off valve and fill nipple according to claim 1, wherein the fill nipple permits the flow of compressed gas into the compressed gas tank only when the on/off valve is in the off position.
6. An integrated on/off valve and fill nipple according to claim 2, further comprising a plurality of o-rings arranged around the plug stem.
7. An integrated on/off valve and fill nipple according to claim 2, wherein the fill nipple comprises a fill aperture disposed through a portion of the plug stem.
8. An integrated on/off valve and fill nipple according to claim 1, further comprising an actuator arranged to turn the valve on and off.
9. An integrated on/off valve and fill nipple according to claim 2, further comprising an actuator arranged on an end of the plug stem opposite the fill nipple.
10. An integrated on/off valve and fill nipple according to claim 9, wherein the valve actuator is actuated to rotate the plug stem to turn the valve on and off.
11. An integrated on/off valve and fill nipple according to claim 3, wherein the inlet comprises an outlet port arranged in proximity to the plug cavity.
12. An integrated on/off valve and fill nipple according to claim 11, further comprising an o-ring arranged in the outlet port of the plug cavity.
13. An integrated on/off valve and fill nipple for a paintball gun compressed gas system, comprising:
a valve body;
an on/off valving mechanism arranged in the valve body;
a plug cavity arranged through the valve body; and
a plug stem arranged through the plug cavity, wherein the plug stem comprises a fill nipple arranged on an end thereof, and wherein the plug stem further provides a portion of the valving mechanism.
14. An integrated on/off valve and fill nipple according to claim 13, further comprising:
a gas inlet arranged in the valve body to communicate compressed gas between a compressed gas storage tank and the plug cavity;
a gas outlet arranged in the valve body to communicate compressed gas between the plug cavity and a gas connection to the paintball gun; and
a flow aperture arranged in the plug stem to communicate compressed gas from the gas inlet to the gas outlet when the valve is in an open position.
15. An integrated on/off valve and fill nipple according to claim 14, wherein the inlet comprises an outlet port arranged in proximity to the plug cavity.
16. An integrated on/off valve and fill nipple according to claim 15, further comprising an o-ring arranged in the outlet port of the plug cavity.
17. An integrated on/off valve and fill nipple for a paintball gun compressed gas system, comprising:
a valve body;
an on/off valving mechanism arranged in the valve body;
a plug cavity arranged through the valve body;
a plug stem arranged through the plug cavity, wherein the plug stem comprises a fill nipple arranged on an end thereof, and wherein the plug stem further provides a portion of the valving mechanism;
a gas inlet arranged in the valve body to communicate compressed gas between a compressed gas storage tank and the plug cavity;
a gas outlet arranged in the valve body to communicate compressed gas between the plug cavity and a gas connection to the paintball gun; and
a flow aperture arranged in the plug stem to communicate compressed gas from the gas inlet to the gas outlet when the valve is in an open position.
18. An integrated on/off valve and fill nipple according to claim 17, wherein the inlet comprises an outlet port arranged in proximity to the plug cavity.
19. An integrated on/off valve and fill nipple according to claim 18, further comprising an o-ring arranged in the outlet port of the plug cavity.
20. An integrated on/off valve and fill nipple according to claim 17, wherein the fill nipple is configured to permit filling of a compressed gas storage tank regardless of a position of the on/off valve.
Description
    RELATED APPLICATION DATA
  • [0001]
    This application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/498,917, filed Aug. 28, 2003, which hereby incorporates by reference.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0002]
    This invention relates generally to paintball guns. More specifically, this invention relates to a paintball gun on/off valve and fill nipple for selectively controlling a supply of gas from a compressed gas source to a compressed gas storage tank and from a compressed gas storage tank to a paintball gun.
  • [0003]
    A reliable on/off valve for selectively supplying a flow of compressed gas to a paintball gun from a compressed gas tank is shown and described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,260,821 B1 (the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety), which issued Jul. 17, 2001 to Perry et al., and was assigned to Smart Parts, Inc. In particular, the on/off valve shown and described in Perry et al. overcame reliability problems with preexisting on/off valves, including leakage of the compressed gas.
  • [0004]
    FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a paintball gun 50 having a conventional on/off valve 100. FIG. 2 is an enlarged side elevation view of the on/off valve 100 of FIG. 1, showing the external attachment between a pressure regulator 55 of a paintball gun 50 and a compressed gas source 60. The on/off valve 100 of FIGS. 1 and 2 is typical for paintball guns using compressed air or nitrogen as the compressed gas source 60. FIG. 2A is a side elevation view of an on/off valve 100A, similar to the valve 100 shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. The compressed gas source 60A, used with the valve 100A, is a CO2 source. FIG. 3 is a bottom right side perspective view of the prior art on/off valve 100A of FIG. 2A, shown independent of attachment to external components. The only structural differences between the valve 100 shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 and the valve 100A of FIGS. 2A and 3 are the type of actuator 122 used and the size of the valve. FIGS. 1 and 2 show a lever-type actuator 122 on a larger valve for use with a compressed air or nitrogen gas source 60, while FIG. 3 shows a knob-type actuator 122A for use with a compressed CO2 gas source 60A.
  • [0005]
    The internal configuration of the conventional on/off valves 100, 100A is shown in FIGS. 4-7. Specifically, FIG. 4 is a horizontally cross-sectioned bottom plan view of the prior art on/off valve 10A, shown in FIG. 3. FIG. 5 is an enlarged, vertically cross-sectioned, partial right side elevation view of the prior art on/off valve 100A of FIG. 3. FIG. 6 is a front elevation view and a cutaway left side elevation view of a plug 120 for use in the prior art on/off valve 100A of FIG. 3. FIG. 7 is a horizontally cross-sectioned bottom plan view and a vertically cross-sectioned front elevation view of a valve body 102 for use in the prior art on/off valve 100A of FIG. 3. The general internal configuration of the valve 100 is the same as that for valve 100A, except with respect to the sizing of the components.
  • [0006]
    Referring to FIGS. 4-7, this conventional on/off valve 100A has a valve body 102 with a gas inlet 110 and a gas outlet 112 extending longitudinally through the body 102. The valve body 102 also includes a plug cavity 115 that extends laterally through the body 102 between the inlet 110 and the outlet 112 from a right side (top of FIG. 4) to a left side (bottom of FIG. 4) of the body 102. A plug 120 is positioned within the plug cavity 115. The plug includes a knob (or other actuator) 122A that can be rotated 900 to switch the valve 100A on or off. The actuator 122A is attached to a plug stem 124 that extends into and through the plug cavity 115. A flow aperture 125 is provided through the plug stem 124, and is located at the lateral position of the inlet 110 and the outlet 112, when the plug stem 124 is properly arranged inside the cavity 115.
  • [0007]
    Two o-rings 126, 126A extend around the plug stem 124 within grooves 127, 127A on opposite lateral sides of the inlet 110 and outlet 112. These o-rings 126, 126A provide a seal between the plug stem 124 and the wall of the cavity 115 to prevent the gas from leaking out through the plug ends and to ensure that the gas from the gas inlet 110 travels to the gas outlet 112 when the valve 100A is open. A third o-ring 128 is provided along the external surface of the plug stem 124 within a circular-shaped groove 129. The third o-ring 128 is designed to prevent gas from leaking into the outlet 112 and, hence, from flowing to the gun 50, when the actuator 122A is in an “off” (closed valve) position. Specifically, when the actuator 122A is located in an “off” position, the o-ring 128 surrounds an entry port 113 of the outlet 112, preventing the gas from entering the outlet 112. It should be noted that the third o-ring 128 only performs its sealing function when the valve is in the “off” position.
  • [0008]
    Referring to FIGS. 1-7, the operation of the prior art on/off valves 100, 100A is as follows. When the actuator 122, 122A is located in an “on” (open valve) position, the flow aperture 125 in the plug stem 124 is arranged in communication with both the inlet 110 and the outlet 112 in order to permit the gas to flow from the inlet 110 to the outlet 112. When the actuator 122, 122A is rotated 900 from the open position into a closed position, the third o-ring 128 slides into place around the entry port 113 of the outlet 112, and the flow aperture 125 is positioned transverse to an axis running from the inlet 110 to the outlet 112. This system works fairly well for compressed air and Nitrogen systems which have larger valve sizes.
  • [0009]
    Unfortunately, however, this configuration has several disadvantages when used for CO2 systems, which generally have smaller valves. In particular, the wall of the plug cavity 115 is very difficult to debur, particularly around the entry port 113 of the outlet 112. This is because the cavity 115 and port 113 are located inside the valve body 102. Inevitably, therefore, small, sharp protrusions are left on the wall surface of the cavity 115. These protrusions tend to cut or slice the o-ring 128 as the plug 120 is rotated from the open to the closed position. Specifically, burs around the entry port 113 of the outlet 112 tend to slice the o-ring 128 as it slides past to reach the closed position. Once the o-ring 128 has been cut, it can no longer provide an adequate sealing function and gas will leak into the outlet 112 even when the valve 100A is closed.
  • [0010]
    In addition, the o-ring 128 of the valve 100A is relatively large and pliable, e.g., a 007-70 Urethane (U) or Ethylene Propylene (EP) o-ring. With this o-ring 128, when CO2 is used as the compressed gas, the o-ring 128 has a tendency to absorb the CO2 and expand as a result. Also, because the o-ring 128 is fairly large in proportion to the diameter of the plug 120, it tends to come out of its groove 129. Furthermore, pressure from the gas source tends to force the o-ring 128 into contact with the valve body 102. The expansion forces and gas pressure increase the contact between the o-ring 128 and the body 102, thereby increasing the likelihood that surface irregularities along the cavity walls (and particularly around the entry port 113 of the outlet 112) will destroy the o-ring 128. When the o-ring 128 is destroyed, the compressed gas begins to leak from the on/off valve 10A, shortening the life of the gas source. Because of this, the on/off valve 100A is not sufficiently reliable.
  • [0011]
    The improved on/off valves 200, 200A, and 200B of Perry et al., which are shown in FIGS. 8-13, provided a significant improvement in the art by enabling an on/off valve for a paintball gun with improved reliability. Specifically, in Perry et al., the improved on/off valves have a valve body with a plurality of gas apertures. The gas apertures include a gas inlet configured to receive a gas from a pressurized gas source, and a gas outlet configured to transmit the gas to a paintball gun. An actuator is configured to selectively control a flow of the gas from the gas inlet to the gas outlet. A seal is located inside a port of one or more of the apertures to prevent the gas from leaking.
  • [0012]
    In operation, the valve is switched between an open (“on”) position and a closed (“off”) position by actuation of the actuator. In an open position, the flow of gas is permitted between the gas inlet and the gas outlet. In a closed position, the flow of gas is interrupted. The seal operates to prevent gas from leaking from the port in which it is located. The seal performs its sealing function when the valve is in its open position as well as when it is in its closed position.
  • [0013]
    More specifically, FIG. 8 includes a horizontally cross-sectioned bottom plan view of an on/off switch 200 of Perry et al. FIG. 9 is a vertically cross-sectioned, enlarged right side elevation view of a section of the on/off valve 200 of FIG. 8. FIG. 10 includes an enlarged front elevation view and a cutaway left side elevation view of a plug 220 for use in the on/off valve 200 of FIG. 8. Finally, FIG. 11 includes a horizontally cross-sectioned bottom plan view and a vertically cross-sectioned front elevation view of a valve body 202 for use in the on/off valve 200 of FIG. 8.
  • [0014]
    The improved on/off valve 200 of Perry et al. has a valve body 202 with gas apertures including a gas inlet 210 and a gas outlet 212, each extending longitudinally through the body 202. The valve body 202 further includes a plug cavity 215, extending laterally through the body 202 between the inlet 210 and the outlet 212. A plug 220 is positioned within the plug cavity 215. An actuator (such as a knob, lever, or other actuator) 222 is provided on an external portion of the plug 220. Here, the actuator 222 is a knob that is physically attached to a plug stem 224. The plug stem 224 extends into and through the plug cavity 215 from the right side to the left side of the valve body 202. A flow aperture 225 is provided through the plug stem 224 at the lateral position of the inlet 210 and the outlet 212. The actuator 222 can be rotated 90 to turn the valve 200 on or off.
  • [0015]
    Two o-rings 226, 226A extend around the plug stem 224 within grooves 227, 227A on opposite lateral sides of the inlet 210 and outlet 212. The o-rings 226, 226A prevent the gas from leaking out through the plug ends and ensure that the gas from the gas inlet 210 travels to the gas outlet 212 when the valve 200 is open. They also provide redundancy and dust protection. When the actuator 222 is located in an “on” position, the flow aperture 225 is arranged in communication with both the inlet 210 and the outlet 212 in order to permit a flow of the gas from the inlet 210 to the outlet 212.
  • [0016]
    A body o-ring 230 is provided within the valve body 202, rather than along the external surface of plug stem 224. Specifically, the body o-ring 230 is located inside either an exit port 211 of the gas inlet 210 or in an entry port 213 of the gas outlet 212. In this case, the body o-ring 230 is located in the exit port 211 of the inlet 210. The body o-ring 230 provides a seal between the valve body 202 and the plug stem 224, and prevents gas from leaking out of the inlet 210. Because the o-ring surrounds the inlet 210 of the valve body, it helps prevent gas leakage regardless of the position of the actuator 222. It performs its sealing function when the actuator is in the “on” position (open valve) as well as when it is in the “off” position (closed valve).
  • [0017]
    This configuration prevents the body o-ring 230 from moving relative to the valve body 202 and thereby substantially eliminates the risk of the body o-ring 230 being cut or damaged by burs in the body 202. This is particularly advantageous because it is easier to machine the plug stem 224 to remove burs than to remove burs from the surface of the plug cavity 215. Accordingly, movement of the finely-machined plug stem 224 in relation to the body o-ring 230 is much less likely to damage the o-ring 230 than the movement of the plug o-ring 128 in relation to the body 102. The body o-ring 230 will therefore have a significantly longer life than the prior art plug o-ring 128 and provide a more reliable on/off valve 200.
  • [0018]
    In operation, the valve 200 is switched between an open (“on”) position and a closed (“off”) position through 90 rotation of the plug 224 via the actuator 220. In an open position, the flow aperture 225 is arranged in communication with the inlet 210 and permits a flow of gas from the inlet 210 to the outlet 220. In a closed position, the communication between the flow aperture 225 and the inlet 220 is severed because the flow aperture 225 is then positioned transverse to the longitudinal axes of the inlet 210 and outlet 220. The body o-ring 230 provides a seal between the valve body 202 and the plug 220 when the valve is in either the open or the closed position. In the open position, the seal ensures the gas will travel through the flow aperture 225. In a closed position, the seal retains the gas within the inlet 210.
  • [0019]
    Gas pressure from the pressurized gas source 60 enhances the sealing properties of the body o-ring 230 by encouraging the o-ring 230 into physical communication with the plug 220. Pressure arrows 232 in FIG. 9 illustrate how the gas pressure helps maintain the body o-ring 230 in a sealing position. As gas travels to the exit port 211 of the inlet 210 it comes into contact with the body o-ring 230 and pushes it outward toward the plug stem 224.
  • [0020]
    Also, because the o-ring 230 is located in the valve body 202, rather than along the surface of the plug stem 224, rotation of the plug 220 does not substantially move the o-ring 230 in relation to the valve body 202. Accordingly, the only movement of consequence for the body o-ring 230 is the movement of plug stem 224 across the o-ring 230. Again, because the plug stem 224 can be machined with greater precision than the plug cavity 215, this arrangement substantially prevents the o-ring 230 from being destroyed or damaged by burs in the body 202.
  • [0021]
    Additional properties which aid in providing a more reliable on/off valve 200 include the sizing and hardness of the body o-ring 230. The body o-ring 230, for instance, is preferably made of a high density material, such as Urethane of approximately 90 shore hardness. The preferred o-ring 230 is also relatively small, such as approximately a size 003 o-ring. Unlike a large, pliable o-ring 128, a small, hard o-ring will not expand significantly as a result of the presence of CO2. The body o-ring 230 therefore retains its circular shape.
  • [0022]
    Additional o-rings 226, 226A provide additional sealing, redundancy, and dust protection. Specifically, plug o-rings 226, 226A prevent dust or other foreign substances from entering the valve assembly around the plug and provide redundancy by preventing leaks when the inlet o-ring 230 becomes worn or damaged. They also prevent leakage from the outlet 220 through the plug ends.
  • [0023]
    In another on/off valve 200A, shown in FIG. 12, the flow aperture 225 can be moved into, and out of, fluid communication with the inlet 210 and outlet 220 by pushing or pulling the plug 220A, rather than by rotation, as with the plug 220. A guide pin can be provided to prevent rotation of the plug stem 224 and maintain the flow aperture 225 in a proper relationship with the inlet 210 and the outlet 212.
  • [0024]
    A body o-ring 230A can also be located within an entry port 213 to the gas outlet 212, as schematically illustrated in FIG. 13. This o-ring 230A can be provided in addition to, or instead of, the body o-ring 230 located in the exit port 211 of the gas inlet 210. If sized and configured correctly, locating an o-ring 230A in the entry port 213 of the outlet 212 can provide many of the same benefits as locating the o-ring 230 within the exit port 211 of the inlet 210. If the flow aperture 225 in the plug 224 is made smaller than the outlet 212, the gas pressure (represented by pressure arrows 224) coming from the flow aperture 225 will tend to expand outward from the exit of the flow aperture 225 and force the o-ring 230A into a good sealing contact between the plug 224 and the valve body 202B. Some problems with this embodiment, however, include the difficulty of machining an o-ring retention area in the entry port 213 of the outlet 212, and the corresponding increase in expense. The body 202B could be formed in two halves and then secured together to reduce the complexity of the required machining, but the body 202B would then be bulkier and still more expensive.
  • [0025]
    The flow aperture need not be a hole through the center of the plug. The flow aperture, for instance, could be a groove around the outside of the plug, or any other type of aperture which would selectively allow gas to flow between the inlet and the outlet based on actuation of the valve. Despite the improvements in on/off valves provided by Perry et al., existing on/off valves have not provided an integrated fill nipple, such as is used for filling high pressure compressed gas tanks.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0026]
    According to a preferred embodiment of the present invention, an on/off valve includes an integrated fill nipple. More particularly, a single spool, plug, or other valve member can be configured to provide a fill nipple for filling a compressed gas tank as well as an on/off valve for selectively supplying compressed gas from the compressed gas tank to a connected paintball gun.
  • [0027]
    The internal configuration of the on/off valve according to a preferred embodiment of this invention preferably includes the beneficial structural characteristics of Perry et al. Unlike the on/off valve of Perry et al., however, the plug, spool, or other valve member of a preferred embodiment of this invention also preferably includes an integrated fill nipple. The fill nipple and on/off valve can operate such that when the on/off valve is in either an on or off position, the fill nipple can be used to direct compressed gas from a compressed gas source into the tank to fill the tank. When the on/off valve is in an on position, compressed gas is preferably supplied from the compressed gas tank to a connected device, such as a paintball gun.
  • [0028]
    The foregoing and other features and advantages of the invention will become more readily apparent from the following detailed description of a preferred embodiment of the invention which proceeds with reference to the accompanying drawings.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0029]
    FIG. 1 is a front, right side perspective view of a paintball gun with a compressed gas source, showing the general location of an on/off valve according to the prior art;
  • [0030]
    FIG. 2 is an enlarged side view of the on/off valve of FIG. 1;
  • [0031]
    FIG. 2A is a side view of an on/off valve for a paintball gun, similar to FIG. 2, according to another configuration of the prior art;
  • [0032]
    FIG. 3 is a bottom, right side perspective view of the prior art on/off valve for a paintball gun shown in FIG. 2A;
  • [0033]
    FIG. 4 is a horizontally cross-sectioned bottom plan view of the prior art on/off valve of FIG. 3, with a cutaway view of an o-ring configuration and a front elevation view;
  • [0034]
    FIG. 5 is a vertically cross-sectioned enlarged right side elevation view of a section of the prior art on/off valve of FIG. 3;
  • [0035]
    FIG. 6 is an enlarged front elevation view and a cutaway left side elevation view of a plug for use in the prior art on/off valve of FIG. 3;
  • [0036]
    FIG. 7 is a horizontally cross-sectioned bottom plan view and a vertically cross-sectioned front elevation view of a valve body for use in the prior art on/off valve of FIG. 3;
  • [0037]
    FIG. 8 is a horizontally cross-sectioned bottom plan view and a front elevation view of an on/off valve for a paintball gun according to an improved prior art on/off valve design;
  • [0038]
    FIG. 9 is a vertically cross-sectioned enlarged right side elevation view of a section of the prior art on/off valve for a paintball gun of FIG. 8;
  • [0039]
    FIG. 10 is an enlarged front elevation view and a cutaway left side elevation view of a plug for use in the prior art on/off valve of FIG. 8;
  • [0040]
    FIG. 11 is a horizontally cross-sectioned bottom plan view and a vertically cross-sectioned front elevation view of a valve body for use in the prior art on/off valve of FIG. 8;
  • [0041]
    FIG. 12 is a schematic side view of a combination fill nipple and on/off valve according to one embodiment of the present invention, shown connected to a paintball gun;
  • [0042]
    FIG. 13 is a schematic perspective view of the combination fill nipple and on/off valve of FIG. 12, shown connected to a compressed gas tank, wherein the valve body is shown transparently to permit viewing of the fill nipple and valve spool;
  • [0043]
    FIG. 14 is an enlarged perspective view of the combination fill nipple and on/off valve of FIG. 13, shown removed from the compressed gas tank with the valve in the off position, wherein the valve body is shown transparently to permit viewing of the fill nipple and valve spool;
  • [0044]
    FIG. 15 is an enlarged perspective view of the combination fill nipple and on/off valve of FIG. 13, shown removed from the compressed gas tank and with the valve in the on position, wherein the valve body is shown transparently to permit viewing of the fill nipple and valve spool; and
  • [0045]
    FIG. 16 is a cross-sectional view of an integrated on/off valve and fill nipple according to an embodiment of this invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • [0046]
    A preferred embodiment illustrating the present inventive principles will now be described with reference to the accompanying figures. More specifically, FIG. 12 is a schematic side view of a combination fill nipple and on/off valve 1000 according to a presently preferred embodiment of the present invention, shown connected to a paintball gun 50. FIG. 13 is a schematic perspective view of the combination fill nipple and on/off valve 1000 of FIG. 12, shown connected to a compressed gas tank 60. In FIG. 13, the valve body 1001 is shown transparently to permit viewing of a fill nipple and valve spool 1010. FIGS. 14 and 15 are enlarged perspective views of the fill nipple and on/off valve 1000 shown in the “off” and “on” positions, respectively. And finally, FIG. 16 is a cross-sectional view of the integrated on/off valve and fill nipple 1000 of FIG. 13.
  • [0047]
    Referring to FIGS. 12-16, according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention, an on/off valve and integrated fill nipple 1000 are integrally provided. More particularly, the on/off valve and fill nipple can be integrated for filling a compressed gas tank into a valve member (such as a spool or plug) 1010 for selectively supplying compressed gas from the compressed gas tank 60 to a connected paintball gun 50. The internal configuration of the on/off valve portion 1020 according to a preferred embodiment of this invention preferably includes the beneficial structural characteristics of Perry et al. Unlike the on/off valve of Perry et al., however, the plug, spool, or other valve member 1010 of a preferred embodiment of this invention also preferably includes an integrated fill nipple 1012. The fill nipple and on/off valve 1000 can operate such that when the on/off valve is in either an on or off position, the fill nipple 1012 can be used to direct compressed gas from a compressed gas source (not shown) into the tank 60 to fill the tank. When the on/off valve is in an on position, compressed gas is preferably supplied from the compressed gas tank 60 to a connected device, such as a paintball gun 50.
  • [0048]
    The integrated fill nipple and on/off valve 1000, shown in FIGS. 12-16, provides a further improvement in the art by combining a reliable on/off valve 1020 for a paintball gun 50 with an integrated fill nipple 1012, thus reducing the space required for these components. More specifically, the integrated fill nipple and on/off valve 1000 has a valve body 1001 with a plurality of gas apertures. The gas apertures include a gas inlet 1021 configured to receive a gas from a pressurized gas source, and a gas outlet 1022 configured to transmit the gas to a paintball gun 50. An actuator 1030 is configured to selectively control the flow of gas from the gas inlet to the gas outlet. Seals (e.g., seal 1021a) may be located inside a port of one or more of the apertures to prevent the gas from leaking. A fill nipple 1012 is further preferably arranged on a valve member 1010 (such as a spool or plug).
  • [0049]
    In operation, the valve member 1020 is switched between an open (“on”) position and a closed (“off”) position by actuation of the actuator 1030, which in turn moves the valve member 1020. In an open position, the flow of gas is permitted between the gas inlet 1021 and the gas outlet 1022. In a closed position, the flow of gas is interrupted. The seals (e.g., seal 1021 a) operate to prevent gas from leaking from the port in which they are located. The seal 1021 a performs its sealing function when the valve is in its open position as well as when it is in its closed position. In addition, the fill nipple 1012 preferably provides a one-way flow path into the compressed gas storage tank. The fill nipple 1012 can be configured to permit filling regardless of the position of the valve member 1020. Alternatively, the fill nipple 1012 can be configured to permit filling only when the valve member 1020 is in a desired one of the actuated or deactuated positions.
  • [0050]
    As stated previously, the integrated fill/nipple and on/off valve 1000 preferably includes a valve body 1001 with gas apertures including a gas inlet 1021 and a gas outlet 1022. These two apertures each preferably extend longitudinally through the body transverse to a plug cavity 1002. The plug cavity 1002 preferably extends laterally through the body 1001 from one side to the other, and is located longitudinally between the inlet 1021 and the outlet 1022. A plug 1010 is preferably positioned within the plug cavity 1002. An actuator 1030 (such as a knob, lever, or other actuator) is preferably provided on an external portion of one end of the plug 1010. In this particular embodiment, the actuator 1030 is a knob or handle that is physically attached to a plug stem 1010. The plug stem (or spool) 1010 preferably extends into and through the plug cavity 1002 from the one side of the valve body 1001 to an opposite side. A flow aperture 1023 is preferably provided through the plug stem 1010 at the lateral position of the inlet 1021 and the outlet 1022 to fluidly connect the inlet 1021 to the outlet 1022 when the valve actuator 1030 is positioned in the “on” position. The actuator 1030 can preferably be rotated 90 to turn the valving mechanism 1020 “on” or “off”.
  • [0051]
    Two o-rings 1020 a, 1020 h preferably extend around the plug stem 1010 within grooves 1025 a, 1025 h arranged on opposite lateral sides of the inlet 1021 and outlet 1022. The o-rings 1020 a, 1020 h prevent gas from leaking out through the plug ends and ensure that the gas from the gas inlet 1021 travels to the gas outlet 1022 when the valving mechanism 1020 is open or “on.” They also provide redundancy and dust protection. When the actuator 1030 is located in an “on” position, the flow aperture 1023 is arranged in fluid communication with both the inlet 1021 and the outlet 1022 in order to permit a flow of the gas from the inlet 1021 to the outlet 1022.
  • [0052]
    A body o-ring 1021 a is preferably provided within the valve body 1001. Specifically, the body o-ring 1021 a is preferably located inside either an exit port 1021h of the gas inlet or in an entry port (not shown) of the gas outlet 1022. In this specific embodiment, the body o-ring 1021 a is located in the exit port 1021 h of the inlet 1021. The body o-ring 1021 a provides a seal between the valve body 1001 and the plug stem 1010, and prevents gas from leaking out of the inlet 1021. Because the o-ring 1021 a surrounds the inlet 1021 of the valve body 1001, it helps prevent gas leakage regardless of the position of the actuator 1030. It preferably performs its sealing function when the actuator 1030 is the “on” position (open valve) as well as when it is in the “off” position (closed valve).
  • [0053]
    This configuration prevents the body o-ring 1021 a from moving relative to the valve body 1001 and thereby substantially eliminates the risk of the body o-ring 1021 a being cut or damaged by burs in the body 1001. This is particularly advantageous because it is easier to machine the plug stem 1010 to remove burs than to remove burs from the surface of the plug cavity 1002. Accordingly, movement of the finely-machined plug stem 1010 in relation to the body o-ring 1021 a is much less likely to damage the o-ring 1021 a than the movement of a plug o-ring in relation (not shown) to the body 1001. The body o-ring 1021 a will therefore have a significantly longer life than the prior art plug o-ring and provide a more reliable on/off valve.
  • [0054]
    In operation, the valve mechanism 1020 is switched between an open (“on”) position and a closed (“off”) position through 90 rotation of the plug 1010 via the actuator 1030. In an open position, the flow aperture 1023 is arranged in communication with the inlet 1021 and permits a flow of gas from the inlet 1021 to the outlet 1022. In a closed position, the communication between the flow aperture 1023 and the inlet 1021 is severed because the flow aperture 1023 is then positioned transverse to the longitudinal axes of the inlet 1021 and outlet 1022. The body o-ring 1021 a provides a seal between the valve body 1001 and the plug 1010 when the valve member 1020 is in either the open or the closed position. In the open position, the seal 1021 a ensures the gas will travel through the flow aperture 1023. In a closed position, the seal 1021 a retains the gas within the inlet 1021.
  • [0055]
    Gas pressure from the pressurized gas tank 60 can enhance the sealing properties of the body o-ring 1021 a by encouraging the o-ring 1021 a into physical communication with the plug 1010. Also, if the o-ring 1021 a is located in the valve body 1001, rather than along the surface of the plug stem 1010, then rotation of the plug 1010 does not substantially move the o-ring 1021 a in relation to the valve body 1001. Accordingly, in this particular configuration, the only movement of consequence for the body o-ring 1021 a is the movement of plug stem 1010 across the o-ring 1021 a. Because the plug stem 1010 can be machined with greater precision than the plug cavity 1002, this preferred arrangement substantially prevents the o-ring 1021 a from being destroyed or damaged by burs in the body 1001.
  • [0056]
    Additional properties which can aid in providing a more reliable valving mechanism 1020 include the sizing and hardness of the body o-ring 1021 a. The body o-ring 1021 a, for instance, is preferably made of a high density material, such as Urethane of approximately 90 shore hardness. The body o-ring therefore preferably retains its circular shape.
  • [0057]
    Additional o-rings can be included to provide sealing, redundancy, and dust protection. Specifically, plug o-rings (e.g., o-rings 1010 a, 1020 a, 1020 h) prevent dust or other foreign substances from entering the valve assembly 1020 around the plug 1010 and provide redundancy by preventing leaks from the plug cavity 1002 when the inlet o-ring 1021 a becomes worn or damaged. They can also help prevent leakage from the outlet 1022 through the plug ends. Of course, the flow aperture 1023 need not be a hole through the center of the plug 1010. The flow aperture 1023, for instance, could be a groove around the outside of the plug 1010, or any other type of aperture or flow path which would selectively allow gas to flow between the inlet 1021 and the outlet 1022 based on actuation of the valve mechanism 1020.
  • [0058]
    The primary benefits resulting from the integration of the fill nipple 1012 with the on/off valve 1020 according to the principles of the present invention include space and weight savings which present important considerations in paintball guns. In addition, the preferred integrated fill nipple and on/off valve 1000 includes a balanced pressured shaft 1010 that can rotate the output air on and off while maintaining constant flow through the input side with the fill nipple 1012. Integration of the fill nipple 1012 with the on/off valve 1020 also reduces the number of components required (e.g., eliminating a drive hex and thread along with other components) for less expensive and easier assembly as well as a cleaner installation and a lower profile. Combining the two components also enables faster assembly.
  • [0059]
    According to one additional design consideration, fill speed can be regulated by modifying the flow rate through the fill nipple 1012. This can be accomplished, for example, by changing the diameter of the port 1011 passing through it. Reducing the flow rate can prevent over-stressing the tank 60 that may result from filling the tank 60 too fast.
  • [0060]
    Having described and illustrated the principles of the invention, it should be apparent that the invention can be modified in arrangement and detail without departing from such principles. We claim all modifications and variations coming within the spirit and scope of the following claims.
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US7178516 *Jul 8, 2004Feb 20, 2007Dale CarpenterMethods and apparatus for an in-line direct connect air source adapter
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US7347220Mar 13, 2007Mar 25, 2008Dale CarpenterMethods and apparatus for a direct connect on-off controller
US7350540Mar 7, 2007Apr 1, 2008Dale CarpenterMethods and apparatus for a direct connect on-off controller
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Classifications
U.S. Classification124/56
International ClassificationF41B11/32
Cooperative ClassificationF41B11/72
European ClassificationF41B11/72
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Nov 15, 2004ASAssignment
Owner name: SMART PARTS, INC., PENNSYLVANIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:JONES, DANIAL;REEL/FRAME:015376/0655
Effective date: 20040910