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Publication numberUS20060027223 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/129,230
Publication dateFeb 9, 2006
Filing dateMay 12, 2005
Priority dateMay 12, 2004
Also published asEP1757088A2, EP1757088A4, WO2005114989A2, WO2005114989A3
Publication number11129230, 129230, US 2006/0027223 A1, US 2006/027223 A1, US 20060027223 A1, US 20060027223A1, US 2006027223 A1, US 2006027223A1, US-A1-20060027223, US-A1-2006027223, US2006/0027223A1, US2006/027223A1, US20060027223 A1, US20060027223A1, US2006027223 A1, US2006027223A1
InventorsEdward Vasel, Eric Wenaas
Original AssigneePepperball Technologies, Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Compact projectile launcher
US 20060027223 A1
Abstract
The present embodiments provide compact launching apparatuses for use in launching non-lethal projectiles. Some embodiments provide handheld apparatuses for use in launching non-lethal projectiles that include a source of compressed gas, an expansion chamber cooperated with the source of gas to receive gas released from the source of gas, a barrel having a bore aligned with an output of the expansion chamber, and a burst disk positioned between the barrel bore and the output of the expansion chamber. The burst disk is configured to rupture releasing the gas within the expansion chamber when the pressure within the expansion chamber. Some embodiments provide for quick reload devices with disposable portions of the apparatus. Some embodiments contain a gas pressure diffuser to enhance the ability to simultaneously launch multiple frangible projectiles. The present embodiments can be used offensively, and defensively as protection against threatening humans or animals.
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Claims(27)
1. A handheld apparatus for use in launching non-lethal projectiles, comprising:
a source of compressed gas;
an expansion chamber cooperated with the source of gas to receive gas released from the source of gas;
a barrel having a bore coupled with an output of the expansion chamber; and
a burst disk positioned between the barrel bore and the output of the expansion chamber, where the burst disk is configured to rupture releasing the gas within the expansion chamber.
2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the barrel comprises the burst disk and at least one projectile such that the barrel is detachable from the expansion chamber.
3. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising:
a puncture pin; and
a spring compressed against the gas source, such that the spring when released drives the compressed gas onto the puncture pin.
4. The apparatus of claim 3, further comprising:
a gas cartridge housing having a spring flange in contact with the spring; and
the source of gas is a compressed gas cartridge positioned within the gas cartridge housing.
5. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising:
a puncture pin; and
a spring compressed against the puncture pin, such that the spring when released drives the puncture pin into the compressed gas source.
6. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising:
an actuator comprising a retaining member and a receiving cavity, where the retaining member maintains a position of the source of gas until the actuator is activated such that the retaining member is received into the receiving cavity releasing the source of gas.
7. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising:
an activation system comprising an actuator and a first portion of the barrel; and
a propelling system comprising the source of gas, the expansion chamber, a second portion of the barrel and the burst disk, where the propelling system is detachable from the activation system.
8. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising:
an electrically activated actuator cooperated with the source of gas to initiate the release of the gas.
9. The apparatus of claim 8, further comprising:
a puncture pin, where the electrically activated actuator comprises an electrically ignitable explosive substance that drives the source of gas onto the puncture pin.
10. The apparatus of claim 7, further comprising:
a puncture pin, where the electrically activated actuator comprises an electrically ignitable explosive substance that drives the puncture pin into the source of gas.
11. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the source of gas is contained within the expansion chamber.
12. The apparatus of claim 11, further comprising:
a puncture pin comprising a back seal, where the puncture pin is movably secured with the expansion chamber and the puncture pin is configured to puncture the source of gas releasing the gas and to be forced back from the gas source due to the released gas such that a gas seal is formed with the expansion chamber.
13. A relatively compact apparatus for use in launching non-lethal projectiles, comprising:
an activation system comprising an actuator; and
a propelling system comprising a source of compressed gas, an expansion chamber cooperated with the source of gas to receive the gas, and a first portion of a barrel coupled with the expansion chamber to receive the gas from the expansion chamber, where the propelling system is detachable from the activation system.
14. The apparatus of claim 13, wherein the activation system further comprising a second portion of the barrel that aligns with the first portion of the barrel with the propelling system is attached with the activation system.
15. The apparatus of claim 13, wherein the propelling system further comprises a burst disk positioned between the expansion chamber and the first portion of the barrel, where the burst disk is configured to rupture releasing gas expanded in the expansion chamber into the first portion of the barrel when a pressure within the expansion chamber exceeds a threshold.
16. The apparatus of claim 13, wherein the activation system further comprises a driver cooperated with the actuator such that when the actuator is activated the driver contacts the source of gas such that the gas is released into the expansion chamber.
17. The apparatus of claim 16, wherein the propelling system further comprises a puncture pin aligned with the source of gas such that the driver drives the source of gas onto the puncture pin releasing the gas.
18. The apparatus of claim 13, wherein the activation system further comprises a driver cooperated with the actuator such that when the actuator is activated the driver drives a puncture pin into the source of gas such that the gas is released into the expansion chamber.
19. The apparatus of claim 13, wherein the activation system includes a safety system cooperated with the actuator.
20. The apparatus of claim 17, wherein the apparatus further comprises a laser aiming mechanism.
21. The apparatus of claim 18, wherein the laser is activated through the movement of a safety of the safety system.
22. The apparatus of claim 13, wherein the propelling system further comprises an expansion chamber system that comprises the expansion chamber defined between an expansion chamber plate and an expansion chamber cavity plate.
23. The apparatus of claim 28, wherein the propelling system further comprises a gas source housing that contains the source of gas, and the expansion chamber extends into the gas cartridge housing such that the source of gas is contained within the expansion chamber.
24. The apparatus of claim 13, wherein the propelling system further comprises an expansion chamber system that comprises the expansion chamber defined by a volume formed within a single molded expansion chamber frame.
25. The apparatus of claim 13, further comprising:
at least one non-lethal projectile launched from the barrel, wherein the projectile contains and inhibiting substance to be dispersed upon impact at least proximate an animal to inhibit the animal.
26. The apparatus of claim 13, further comprising:
at least one non-lethal projectile launched from the barrel, wherein the projectile contains and inhibiting substance to be dispersed upon impact at least proximate a human to inhibit the human.
27. The apparatus of claim 26, wherein the propelling system further comprises a diffuser plate positioned proximate the barrel such that the gas entering the barrel is diffused.
Description
RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/570,548, filed May 12, 2004, entitled COMPACT PROJECTILE LAUNCHER FOR PERSONAL DEFENSE, which application is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a projectile launching system and, more particularly to non-lethal projectile launching systems.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

For several decades, Law Enforcement agencies have used various non-lethal weapons to gain control of suspects, quell riots, save hostages, and the like. Many of these non-lethal weapons typically require a large launcher platform such as a shotgun, rifle or pistol to deploy projectiles. These generally large platforms can make the use of these launchers cumbersome in some circumstances, and generally are not easily carried.

To date, other than pepper spray, the general public typically has not had access to a simple, low cost, non-lethal projectile launcher. Further, there are generally no non-leather projectile launchers that are easily carried and used for personal defense at home, in the car or when on foot.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention advantageously addresses the above-identified needs, as well as other needs, by providing compact launching apparatuses for use in launching non-lethal projectiles. Some embodiments provide handheld apparatuses for use in launching non-lethal projectiles that include a source of compressed gas, an expansion chamber cooperated with the source of gas to receive gas released from the source of compressed gas, a barrel having a bore aligned with an output of the expansion chamber, and a burst disk positioned between the barrel bore and the output of the expansion chamber. The burst disk is configured to rupture releasing the gas within the expansion chamber when the pressure within the expansion chamber is about equivalent with a defined relationship between the pressure and a launch threshold.

Some embodiments provide relatively compact apparatus for use in launching non-lethal projectiles. These embodiments can include an activation system comprising an actuator, and a propelling system comprising a source of gas, an expansion chamber cooperated with the source of gas to receive the gas, and a first portion of a barrel aligned with the expansion chamber to receive the gas from the expansion chamber. The propelling system and actuator system are further configured such that the propelling system is detachable from the activation system.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The above and other aspects, features and advantages of the present invention will be more apparent from the following more particular description thereof, presented in conjunction with the following drawings wherein:

FIG. 1 depicts a simplified partial cross-sectional block diagram of a compact launcher according to some embodiments;

FIG. 2 depicts a simplified cross-sectional view of a compact launching apparatus according to some embodiments;

FIG. 3 shows an enlarged view of a portion of the launcher apparatus of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 depicts an exploded view of a spring, gas cartridge, puncture pin, and gas expansion chamber as implemented in the launching apparatus of FIG. 2;

FIG. 5 depicts an exploded view of a gas cartridge, puncture pin, expansion chamber and examples of burst disks that can be incorporated into a launching apparatus, such as the launching apparatus of FIG. 2;

FIGS. 6 and 7 show a perspective view and a simplified cross-sectional view, respectively, of a compact projectile launcher according to some embodiments;

FIG. 8 shows a perspective view of a compact projectile launcher according to some embodiments;

FIGS. 9 and 10 depict a perspective view and a simplified cross-sectional view, respectively, of an alterative compact projectile launcher embodiment;

FIGS. 11 and 12 depict a side view and a simplified cross-sectional view, respectively, of a compact projectile launcher;

FIG. 13 depicts a front view of a compact launcher according to some embodiments;

FIGS. 14 and 15, depict perspective and partial cross-sectional views, respectively, of an alternative embodiment of a compact projectile launcher;

FIGS. 16 and 17 depict perspective and partial cross-sectional views, respectively, of another alterative embodiment of a compact projectile launcher;

FIGS. 18 and 19 depict perspective and partial cut-away views, respectively, of still another embodiment of a compact projectile launcher;

FIGS. 20 and 21 depict simplified cross-sectional views of disposable and/or quick reload barrels that can be utilized with one or more of the launchers of the present embodiments;

FIG. 22 depicts a perspective view of a compact projectile launcher according to some embodiments that includes an activation system or portion and propelling or launching system or portion;

FIG. 23 shows the compact projectile launcher of FIG. 22 in a disconnected state with the activation system separated from the propelling system;

FIG. 24 depicts a simplified cross-sectional diagram of the activation system of FIGS. 22 and 23;

FIG. 25 depicts a cross-section view of the launching or propelling system of FIGS. 22 and 23;

FIG. 26 depicts a simplified cross-section view of an electrically triggered, compact projectile launcher according to some embodiments;

FIG. 27 depicts a cross-sectional view of a compact projectile launcher as implemented according to some embodiments;

FIG. 28 depicts an enlarged view of the actuator system of FIG. 27;

FIG. 29 depicts an enlarged, cross-sectional view of the expansion chamber system of FIG. 27;

FIG. 30 depicts a simplified plane view of a diffuser plate according to some embodiments; and

FIG. 31 depicts a simplified cross-sectional view of a launcher 3120 according to some embodiments.

FIG. 32 depicts a simplified cross-sectional view of the launcher 2220 shown in FIG. 22.

FIG. 33 depicts a simplified cross-sectional view of the launcher 2320 shown in FIG. 23.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The following description of the presently contemplated best mode of practicing the invention is not to be taken in a limiting sense, but is made merely for the purpose of describing the general principles of the invention. The scope of the invention should be determined with reference to the claims.

As used herein, the term “projectile system” or “projectile” or “non-lethal projectile” refers generally to the entire projectile apparatus of the various embodiments of the present invention that travels to a target. For example, at least with some embodiments contemplated herein, the projectile system or projectile at least includes a projectile body that contains a substance for delivery to the target. For example, this projectile body may be embodied as a capsule having a hollow volume within that contains the substance. This projectile body may be a variety of shapes, for example, the projectile body may be oblong, spherical or other shapes depending on the specific embodiment. In some embodiments, the projectile includes stabilizers or other aspects to provide a straighter or more accurate flight path. In some embodiments, the projectile body may be embodied as a stabilizer body, for example, which apparatus travels to the target.

The present embodiments provide non-lethal projectile launchers that are relatively compact in size to allow ease of portability and handling when in use. Further, these compact projectile launchers are designed with reduced complexity to simplify assembly, improve reliability and reduce cost to the consumer. These low cost, non-lethal projectile launchers can be used by the general public, law enforcement and/or security personnel to defend against threatening persons or animals. The relatively small sizes allow the launchers to easily fit in a user's hand, a purse, pocket, glove box and the like, and can be configured to launch one or more types of projectiles including but not limited to projectiles described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,965,839; 6,393,992; 6,543,365; and 6,546,874 each incorporated herein by reference in their entirety.

Some compressed gas launchers for projectiles are known. Most of these launchers were designed for the paintball market. However, virtually all of these products typically utilize mechanical valve mechanisms to regulate the gas used in propelling the projectiles. Some valve mechanisms can be complex with moving parts.

The present embodiments in part provide for a more reliable and consistent operation by, in part, employing one or more rupture disks and avoid the need for mechanical valves. Further, the use of rupture disks greatly reduces the complexity of the launcher design and operation, resulting in a low cost, highly-reliable launcher mechanism.

Some present embodiments use a relatively simple compressed gas mechanism to propel lethal or non-lethal projectiles to a target. The compressed gas can be supplied to the launcher through an external source and/or compressed gas cartridges can be incorporated into the launchers. Disposable compressed gas cartridges are utilized in some instances, further reducing costs and simplifying designs. By utilizing disposable compressed gas cartridges filled, for example, with air, nitrogen, carbon dioxide or other gases, some embodiments may be fabricated as a disposable (e.g., one time use) and/or reloadable launchers. Launchers can be configured to launch one or multiple projectiles at a time. Further, the launcher can launch one or multiple projectiles through one or multiple barrels using various configurations. The launcher designs at least in part further solve the technical issues associated with achieving accurate, reliable, high velocity shots from a short barreled device. As described fully below, some embodiments employ a small disposable gas cartridge that can be utilized to provide effective non-lethal muzzle velocity to accurately launch one or multiple projectiles at the same time from a relatively short and/or very short barreled launcher. For example, the barrels in some embodiments have a length of less than six times the width or diameter of a projectile launched from the launcher.

FIG. 1 depicts a simplified cross-sectional block diagram of a compact launcher 120 according to some embodiments. The launcher includes compressed gas 122, an expansion chamber 124, a pressure release mechanism 126, an actuator 130 and a barrel 132 having a bore within which one or more projectiles 134 are positioned. The compressed gas 122 can be a disposable gas cartridge, cylinders a refillable cavity or other such configuration. The compressed gas 122 is cooperated with the expansion chamber 124 into which the compressed gas is released upon activation of the actuator 132. As the compressed gas enters the expansion chamber 124 pressure within the chamber increases. When the pressure within the chamber 124 achieves and/or equals a predefined relationship between the pressure and a launcher threshold the release mechanism 126 is activated to release the gas from the expansion chamber into the barrel 132 to propel the projectile 134 from the barrel. In some embodiments, the release mechanism 126 is implemented through a burst diaphragm or rupture disk that is configured to rupture or fail at or near predefined pressures. Thus, a precise pressure is achieved within the expansion chamber that is released by the rupturing of the release mechanism such that the pressure from the expansion chamber propels the projectile 134 from the barrel 132. The rupturing allows pressure accumulated to desired pressures to propel the projectile(s) at desired launch velocities.

The compressed gas 122, as introduced above, can be added to a compressed gas cavity within the launcher, added through a removable compressed gas cartridge or other configurations. Further, the gas used to generate the desired pressure within the expansion chamber 124 can include air, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, substantially any relevant compressed gas and/or combinations of gases can be used. In some instances, the compressed gas 122 is in the form of a liquid when compressed and that rapidly converts to a gaseous state when released. As such, some embodiments use the expansion chamber and release mechanism to allow a phase shift from liquid to gas for a propellant such as carbon dioxide, thus achieving relatively high velocity performance from a short barreled launcher 120.

Typically, carbon dioxide pressurized in a cartridge is in a liquid state at room temperature. When the compressed carbon dioxide is released into the expansion chamber a combination of liquid and gaseous carbon dioxide is released. As the liquid carbon dioxide expands, it phase shifts to gas. The inventors have determined that if incomplete phase shift takes place, some of the carbon dioxide fails to convert to a gaseous state and can be seen exiting the barrel 132 as a white vapor (e.g., a fog). Since liquids are generally incompressible, this liquid carbon dioxide fog typically does not have the same propulsion force or power as the gaseous carbon dioxide. Thus, typically the more gaseous carbon dioxide volume behind the projectile the higher the muzzle velocity of the projectile, and conversely the more liquid carbon dioxide present the lower the muzzle velocity of the projectile. (Boyle's and Charles Laws). The present embodiments, in part, employ the expansion chamber 124 to allow adequate expansion and/or phase shift of liquid carbon dioxide to a gaseous carbon dioxide resulting in more effective launcher designs.

Additionally and/or alternatively, some embodiments solve these technical issues by employing the release mechanism 126 to allow a volume of gas to build up in the expansion chamber 124 to a sufficiently high pressure before the projectile(s) begins to move. The result is that in some implementations one or many projectiles can be propelled at relatively high velocities. Without this buildup of gas volume and pressure in the expansion chamber, a small orifice hole punched into a conventional disposable gas cartridge radically restricts the gas flow rate out of the cartridge and can severely limit a muzzle velocity of the projectile, resulting in motion of the projectile at lower pressures which translates into lower launch velocities which may be ineffective to deter attackers and/or provide adequate protection to the user.

Some embodiments use the expansion chamber and rupture disk with one or more high pressure gas cartridges filled with air, nitrogen or other gases that do not require a phase shift from liquid to gas. The rupture disk and expansion chamber allow sufficient gas volume to buildup behind the projectile(s) to achieve effective muzzle velocities that are typically higher and in many implementations much higher than velocities that can be achieved utilizing only the restricted flow rate through a puncture hole of a typical disposable gas cartridge.

The actuator 130 activates the launcher 120 to initiate and launch the projectile 134. In some implementations, the actuator is implemented as a trigger, a button to release a spring mechanism, a levered wedge mechanism that forces the disposable compressed gas cartridge into a puncture pin or a pin into the cartridge releasing high pressure gas, an explosive device, or substantially any other relevant mechanism to initiate the release of the compressed gas 122, such as puncturing a sealed compressed gas cartridge.

As described above, the launcher 120 is a compact launcher having a relatively small size. For example, some embodiments have dimensions such that the launcher easily fits into an average sized hand. Some launcher embodiments have lengths that are less than about seven inches, widths that are less than about six inches, and thicknesses that are about less than three inches. Other embodiments have longer lengths with shorter heights, while still others have larger heights with shorter lengths. For example, some embodiments have lengths that are less than about 10 inches, with heights and/or thicknesses that are less than about 2 inches, other embodiments may have heights that are less than about two inches with lengths that are less than about five inches. Other smaller or larger configurations and/or dimensions can be utilized to achieve the desired size and/or weight.

FIG. 2 depicts a simplified cross-sectional view of a compact launching apparatus 220 according to some embodiments. The launching apparatus includes a launcher body and/or frame 222, an actuator assembly 224, a compressed gas cartridge 226, a gas cartridge holder 228, a cartridge bore 230, a spring 232, a spring compression knob 234, a puncture pin 236, burst disk 240, an expansion chamber 124 and a barrel 132. The actuator assembly 224 releases the potential energy of the spring 232 compressed between the cartridge holder 228 and the compression knob 234 to drive the gas cartridge 226 into the puncture pin 236. The puncture pin punctures the gas cartridge releasing the compressed gas/liquid into the expansion chamber 124. As the gas/liquid continues to be released from the cartridge and expands within the expansion chamber 124 the pressure within the expansion chamber increases until the pressure is approximately equal to a predefined pressure at which point the burst disk ruptures releasing the pressurized gas within the expansion chamber into the barrel 132 to propel a projectile (not shown in FIG. 2) from the barrel at about a desired launch velocity.

The actuator assembly 224 in some embodiments includes a trigger button, lever or slide 250, a trigger groove or slot 252, a receiving cavity 254, and a retaining member 256. The trigger button moves along the groove 252 formed in the body 222 of the launching apparatus 220. The trigger button 250 includes the receiving cavity 254 into which the retaining member 256 is received upon sliding the trigger button along the groove 252 to activate the launching apparatus 220 (e.g., sliding the trigger button 250 in a direction toward the output end of the barrel 132, or in other embodiments sliding the trigger button away from the output end).

In a non-activated state, the trigger button 250 is positioned such that the receiving cavity 254 is out of alignment with the retaining member 256 that is maintained in a retaining member aperture such that a portion of the retaining member extends into the cartridge bore 230 within which the gas cartridge 226 and holder 228 are positioned. The retaining member 256 further contacts a portion of the holder 228 to maintain a positioning of the holder when the spring 232 is compressed.

The holder 228 shown in FIG. 2 has an elongated cavity or cup that is shaped to receive the gas cartridge. In some alternative embodiments, the holder is a ring shape that fits securely around the cartridge. A flange 260 extends away from a central axis of holder, and in some embodiments extends circumferentially around the perimeter of the holder. In other configurations, however, the flange 260 can be configured from one or more separate flanges extending from the holder wall. A first side 262 of the flange is in contact with the spring 232 and a portion of the second side 264 of the flange is in contact with the retaining member 256. Some embodiments eliminate the holder and the gas cartridge 226 is formed with a flange to engage both the spring 232 and the retaining member 256. The holder 228, however, allows a standard disposable gas cartridge to be utilized with the launcher apparatus 220.

FIG. 3 shows an enlarged view of the actuator assembly 224, gas cartridge 226 and holder 228. FIG. 4 depicts an exploded view of the spring 232, gas cartridge 226, puncture pin 236, and gas expansion chamber 124 as implemented in the launching apparatus 220 of FIG. 2 according to some embodiments. The compression spring 232 can be constructed of metal or other materials, and is available for example, from many sources including Century Spring Co. of Los Angles, Calif., or McMaster-Carr of Elmhurst, Ill. The disposable gas cartridge 226 is available from many sources such as LeLand LTD of New Jersey. The puncture pin 236 is similarly available from many sources such as from paintball supply sources including SpeedPaintball of Taiwan and/or can be custom fabricated by known techniques.

Referring to FIGS. 2-4, the compressed gas cartridge 226 is positioned within the holder 228, and both are placed in the cartridge bore 230 such that the second side of the flange is in contact with the retaining member 256. Again, in a non-activated state, the receiving cavity 254 is out of alignment with the retaining member 256 such that a portion of the retaining member extends into the cartridge bore 230 and into contact with the second surface 264 of the flange 260. In some implementations, the portion of the second surface 264 in contact with the retaining member can be tapered away from the retaining member to provide a greater pressure on a retaining member in a direction away from a central axis of the cartridge and holder and toward the receiving cavity 254. The spring 232 is positioned about the holder and in contact with the first surface 262 of the flange 260. The spring compression knob 234 is then placed into contact with the spring 232 and the spring is compressed between the flange 260 and the knob 234 as the knob is secured with the housing 222 through one or more methods such as screw threading, tongue and groove, snap fit, latching, compression fit and other methods and/or combinations of methods. The housing 222, barrel 132, and actuator assembly 224 can be fabricated from metals (such as aluminum, brass, steel, and the like), plastics, polymers, fiber reinforced polymers, and other relevant materials and/or combinations of materials.

Upon a user moving the trigger button 250, for example with the embodiment of FIGS. 2 and 3 sliding the trigger button along the groove 252 in a direction toward the output end of the barrel 132, the receiving cavity 254 is moved toward the retaining member 256 such that the retaining member shifts positioned into the receiving cavity. In some embodiments, the retaining member is a spherical or cylindrical member that rolls into the receiving cavity with the aid of the pressure from the flange 260 of the holder 228 and the spring 232. Other configurations for the retaining member can be implemented as would be apparent to those skilled in the art without departing from the novel aspects of the present embodiments.

Once the receiving cavity 254 is partially aligned with the retaining member 256, the retaining member begins to shift into the receiving cavity allowing the potential energy of the compressed spring to drive and/or propel the holder 228 and cartridge 226 rapidly toward the puncture pin 236. The puncture pin is secured with the housing 222, and can be constructed of metal, plastic or other relevant material capable of puncturing the cartridge. The puncture pin punctures the cartridge releasing the compressed gas and/or liquid through and/or around the puncture pin and into the expansion chamber 124. The burst disk 240 is secured with the housing 222 defining a barrier between the barrel 132 and the expansion chamber 124 such that the pressure within the expansion chamber builds as the gas and/or liquid is released into the chamber. The burst diaphragm is configured to release the expanded gas when the pressure within the expansion chamber approximately equals a threshold level.

The burst disk in some embodiments is a disposable rupture disk membrane secured between the barrel and the expansion chamber. When the gas pressure in the expansion chamber volume reaches the stress limits of the membrane material of the burst disk, the disk ruptures and the expanded gas is released to accelerate one or more projectiles out of barrel or guide 132. The burst disk can be constructed of Mylar®, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) Polyester film, paper, plastics, metal, and substantially any other relevant material that maintains the expanding gas within the expansion chamber allowing gas pressure to build until a predefined and/or desired pressure is attained at which point the burst disk ruptures.

The diaphragm may rupture by exceeding the stress limit of the material, alternatively by coming in contact with a sharp device that causes the burst disk to puncture releasing the built-up gas, and/or by breaking a seal or other means securing the burst disk. The burst disk 240, in some implementations, is scored to control or change the pressure at which the disk bursts. The scoring can be in substantially any configuration to establish weakening points that allow, in some implementations, more precise and consistent bursting at desired pressure thresholds. Additionally and/or alternatively, the burst disk under pressure may be designed to burst using other methods such as: mechanical cutting or piercing of the disk; using heated coils or electrical arcs to create or melt an initial hole in the rupture disk; or other methods of aiding rupturing the diaphragm material. Other present embodiments of the launching apparatus 220 employ one or more of a mechanical valve that open; a fixed diaphragm that opens by moving, folding and the like without rupture (e.g., using magnets that release at defined pressures); a friction held or other types of gas plug; and/or other relevant types of gas retainer design methods that can be made to move or open to allow gas flow. The burst disk 240, valve and/or gas plug at least in part allows sufficient gas pressure and volume to buildup behind projectile(s), and once the burst disk is released or opened releases the gas establishing effective launch velocities of the projectile(s).

FIG. 5 depicts an exploded view of a gas cartridge 226, a puncture pin 236, an expansion chamber 124 and examples of burst disks 520-522 according to some embodiments that can be incorporated into a launching apparatus, such as the launching apparatus 220. The burst diaphragms 520-522 can be made of Mylar® sheet having defined thicknesses to burst at the desired pressures. For example, to achieve burst pressures of approximately 600-800 psi, a Mylar® diaphragm thickness between about 0.003-0.005 inches can be used. Other thicker or thinner diaphragms of different materials may be used to achieve the desired gas volume/pressure buildups. Additionally and/or alternatively, scoring or other weakening can be employed to achieve a release at a desired pressure.

The combination of expansion chamber 124 and burst disk 240 design allows sufficient gas volume and pressure to build up to enable the use of short barrels on the launcher. The expansion chamber also allows time for a liquid to gas phase shift to occur if compressed carbon dioxide is used. These components together at least in part allow for the design of a very compact hand-held launcher that provides consistent launch velocities of projectiles with a relatively high degree of accuracy. In some implementations, the expansion chamber 124 includes a barrel attachment 420 (see FIG. 4) that allows the barrel 132 to be secured with the expansion chamber such that the expanded gas is directed into the barrel upon release by the burst disk. The size of the expansion chamber is dependent on the projectiles to be launched, the number of projectiles, the type and/or burst pressure of the burst disk, and/or other factors.

FIG. 6 shows a perspective view of a compact projectile launcher 620 according to some embodiments that includes a body 622, a grip 624, an actuator or trigger 626, a barrel 630 and an aiming mechanism 632. FIG. 7 depicts a simplified cross-sectional view of the launcher 620 of FIG. 6. Referring to FIGS. 6 and 7, the internal components of the projectile launcher 620 include the compressed gas cartridge 226, expansion chamber 124, burst disk 240, the trigger 626, gearing 722, and a puncture pin 720. Also shown in FIG. 7 is the aiming mechanism 632, the barrel 630 and projectiles 724 positioned within the barrel. The launcher 620 and/or the components of the launcher can be fabricated from metals (such as aluminum, brass, steel, and the like), plastics, polymers, fiber and/or carbon reinforced polymers, and other relevant materials and/or combinations of materials.

The launcher 620 is activated by a user squeezing the trigger 626 that in turn causes movement in the gearing 722. The gearing is coupled with the puncture pin 720 to drive the puncture pin into the gas cartridge and/or the cartridge into the puncture pin, puncturing the cartridge and releasing the gas into the expansion chamber 124. The expanding gas builds up pressure within the chamber to open or rupture the burst disk 240 releasing the pressure onto the projectiles 724 driving the projectiles from the barrel 630. The barrel, in some embodiments, is a removable and/or disposable barrel that can be supplied with the projectiles positioned within the barrel and secured with the launcher for launching of the projectiles.

The aiming mechanism 632 in some embodiments is a laser that can be used to illuminate a portion of a target that a user wants the projectile(s) to hit. In some implementations, the trigger 626 additionally actuate a switch (not shown) to turn on a laser that can be used to aim the launcher at the target for more effective targeting of projectiles onto the target. The laser can include internal power source to power the laser or the launcher 620 can include a power source (e.g., a disposable battery, re-chargeable battery, a capacitor, and/or other sources of power or combinations of power sources).

The barrel 630 is configured to be relatively short compared with many previous launching devices and significantly shorter than many previous non-lethal projectile launchers. For example, in some embodiments, the barrel is less than about eight times the diameter of a spherical projectile, and in other embodiments the barrel is less than about five times the diameter of a spherical projectile launched from the compact launcher. The compact launcher 620 maintains accurate launching of the projectile(s) by, in part, incorporating the burst disk 240 such that a threshold pressure is built up prior to releasing the pressure to propel the projectile. The threshold pressure provides a driving force on the projectile to propel the projectile from the barrel 630 at approximately a desired launch velocity. The launch velocity is dependent on the threshold pressure, the length of the barrel 630, the mass of the projectile and other factors. Again, the burst disk 240 can be configured to rupture or open at desired pressures to achieve consistent and desired launch velocities.

In some embodiments, the launch velocity of projectiles is between 25 and 80.0 miles per hour (mph), preferably between 50 and 400 mph which is generally less than launch velocities of standard firearm projectiles, and are non-lethal velocities because the projectiles typically do not penetrate a target (such as a human target). Further, because many embodiments of the projectile rupture and/or break upon impact, much of the kinetic force is absorbed, significantly reducing the force of impact and the lethality of the projectile. Some embodiments propel the projectile 2212 at velocities less than 700 mph, while some embodiments propel the projectile at less than 350 mph, depending on projectile mass, size, the force need to break the projectile and other similar factors.

FIG. 8 shows a perspective view of a compact projectile launcher 820 according to some embodiments. The launcher 820 is similar to the launcher of FIGS. 6 and 7, and further including additional design features: a key ring 822, a trigger safety cover 824, and a laser assembly 826. The key ring 822 allows for easy carrying by user and easy access for times when a user needs to activate the launcher 820. The trigger safety cover 824 attempts to limit and preferably prevent accidental launching. In some implementations, the safety cover rotates or slides away from the trigger allowing access to the trigger for actuation. In some embodiments, moving the safety actuates the aiming laser. The laser assembly 826 is held in place by a laser housing 830 that includes a separate laser button 832 allowing for separate laser actuation of the laser that can be independent of the trigger (e.g., actuated by a user's thumb). The laser can be substantially any relevant laser, such as lasers from Miracle Beam of Pacoima, Calif. These embodiments may use projectiles from PepperBall Technologies of San Diego, Calif.

FIG. 9 depicts a perspective view of a compact projectile launcher 920 according to some embodiments. The launcher 920 includes a body or frame 922, a handle 924, a trigger 926, two barrels 930, 932, and an optional sighting mechanism 934. A user holds the launcher at the handle with one or both hands and operates the trigger with oner or more fingers (e.g., the index finger). This configuration is similar to conventional handle launchers allowing a firm grip of the handle while activating the trigger. Aiming the launcher can be accomplished through line of sight similar to conventional weapons, and/or using the optional laser 934. The launcher can be constructed of plastics, polymers, reinforced polymers, metal(s), and other similar materials or combinations of materials. For example, in some embodiments at least the frame 922 is formed of an injected molding plastic.

FIG. 10 depicts a simplified cross-sectional view of the launcher 920 of FIG. 9. Referring to FIGS. 9 and 10, the launcher further includes an actuator 1022, puncture pin 720, compressed gas cartridge 226, gas routing path and expansion chamber 1024, two burst disks 1030, 1032, and electrical wiring 1034 coupling the trigger 926 with the laser to activate the laser 934. The trigger 926 is cooperated with the actuator 1022 that drives the puncture pin 720 into the gas cartridge 226 or the cartridge into the puncture pin. The compressed gas is released through and/or around the puncture pin into the gas routing and expansion chamber 1024.

The routing and expansion chamber is configured to direct the expanding gas toward the two burst disks 1030, 1032. In some embodiments, the routing and expansion chamber simultaneously routes the expanding gas to both the burst disks and thus both barrels such that the projectiles from each of the two barrels are launched at substantially the same time when the burst disks are configured to open and/or rupture at the same pressures. Other configurations include a switch or valve included in the compact projectile launcher 920 that initially directs the expanding gas to one of the burst disks and barrels (e.g., disk 1030 and barrel 930), and is activated based on timing from the actuation of the trigger and/or upon the opening or bursting of the first burst disk 1030 such that the continued release of gas from the cartridge is directed to the second burst disk 1032 causing the second burst disk 1032 to burst subsequent to the first disk.

FIGS. 11 and 12 depict a side view and a simplified cross-sectional view, respectively, of a compact projectile launcher 1120. The launcher 1120 includes a frame or housing 1122, trigger 1124, and light or laser 1126, and has a generally rectangular shape with the trigger positioned on the interior of the rectangular shape such that the user inserts his/her fingers through the rectangular gap to hold the launcher and activate the trigger 1124. Similar to the some of the previous embodiments, the launcher 1120 also includes a compresses gas cartridge 226 that holds, for example, liquid carbon dioxide, a puncture pin 236, actuator 1220, gas distribution or routing path and expansion chamber 1222, burst disks 1224, 1226, and barrels 1230, 1232 that contain one or more projectiles 1234. The actuator 1222 is activated by the trigger 1124 to drive the gas cartridge 226 into the puncture pin 236 and/or drive the pin into the cartridge such that the carbon dioxide is released from the cartridge through and/or around the puncture pin to phase shift to a gas state and expand through the routing path and expansion chamber 1222. When the pressure within the routing path 1222 and expansion chamber reaches desired pressures one or both burst disks 1224, 1226 rupture and/or open to releasing the gas into the barrels 1230, 1232 to propel the projectiles 1234 from the launcher 1120.

In some implementations, the rectangular configuration of the launcher 1120 provides improved balance of the launcher in the user's hand. This improved balance increases accuracy. Further, by incorporating the trigger and grip into the single portion of the rectangular configuration, the overall size of the launcher can be reduced compared to some other configurations.

FIG. 13 depicts a front view of a compact launcher 1320 according to some embodiments. The launcher 1320 is configured in a shape that is similar to a conventional pistol, such as a derringer housing configuration, with two barrels 1322, 1322. The internal launching components are similar to those described above, such as compressed gas cartridge, actuator, puncture pin, expansion chamber, and one or more burst disks. In some implementations, the launcher 1320 includes a switch and/or valve that allows projectiles to be launches from the two barrels separately. For example, upon activation of the launcher, the compressed gas released from the cartridge is directed to a first burst disk to propel one or more projectiles from the first barrel 1322 followed by the closing or transitioning of a valve or switch that directs the compressed gas to a second burst disk to launch one or more projectiles from the second barrel 1324. In an alternative configuration, the launcher 1320 includes two gas cartridges where a first activation, for example activating a first trigger, causes a release of gas from a first gas cartridge to be directed to a first expansion chamber and first burst disk that ruptures or opens to propel one or more projectiles from the first barrel 1322. A second activation, for example the activating of a second trigger, causes a release of gas from a second gas cartridge to be directed to a second expansion chamber and second burst disk that ruptures or opens to propel one or more projectiles from the second barrel 1324.

FIGS. 14 and 15 depict perspective and partial cross-sectional views, respectively, of a compact projectile launcher 1420. The launcher includes a body or frame 1422, trigger cover or safety 1424, end cap or knob 1426, spring 1520, gas cartridge 226, puncture pin 1524, trigger 1526, expansion chamber 1530, burst disk 1532, barrel 1534, and projectile retainer 1536. The trigger cover 1424 is positioned about the trigger 1526 to prevent accidental activation of the launcher 1420. The cover has to be moved by the user to access the trigger and launch the projectiles 1540. The cover can be configured to slide away from the trigger, rotate away from the trigger or other such movements to allow access to the trigger.

The end cap 1426 is positioned onto the body 1422 through threading, compression fit, tongue and groove or other relevant methods, and compresses the spring 1520 against the gas cartridge 226. Upon activation of the trigger 1526, the gas cartridge 226 is driven by the spring 1520 onto the puncture pin 1524 such that at least a portion of the gas or gases within the cartridge are released through the pin and into the expansion chamber 1530 where the expanding gas(es) build up pressure and volume exerting a force on the burst disk 1532. At predefined pressures the burst disk ruptures releasing the expanding gas(es) into the barrel. The expanding gas(es) released from in the expansion chamber exert forces on the projects overcoming the force provided by the projectile retainer 1536 such that the projectiles are accelerate along and out of the barrel 1534. The projectile retainer can be an o-ring, a protrusion in the barrel, wading or other relevant device for maintaining the positioning of the projectiles within the barrel, and typically proximate the burst disk. In some configurations, the projectile retainer 1536 is also propelled from the barrel along with the projectiles 1540, but typically is light weight and/or has relatively large air flow drag such that the projectile retainer travels only a relatively small distance as compared with the distance that the projectiles can be launched.

The compact launcher 1420 of FIGS. 14 and 15 is typically longer than some of the embodiments described above, with an increased length expansion chamber 1530 and/or barrel 1534. The launcher 1420 can be gripped with one hand or two hands (e.g., one just behind the trigger to be operated by a thumb, and one around the barrel 1534) as desired by the user. Further in some embodiments, the barrel 1534 is integral with the housing 1422. In alternative embodiments, the barrel is a disposable barrel that can be attached and detached from the remainder of the launcher 1420. For example, the barrel can attach at an end of the expansion chamber 1530 away from the puncture pin 5124. The disposable barrel can include the projectiles 1540 maintained in the barrel by the projectile retainer 1536, and the burst disk 1532. Similarly, the gas cartridge can be disposable by removing the end cap 1426 and spring 1520 and replacing a spent or used gas cartridge with a new cartridge full of gas. As such, the launcher can be re-used any number of times by replacing the barrel (with the projectiles and burst disk) and the gas cartridge. The disposable barrel can be secured with the launcher through screw threading, snap fit, and other relevant connectors. Additionally and/or alternatively, the burst disk 1532 can be separate from the barrel and be replaceable independent of the barrel.

FIGS. 16 and 17 depict perspective and partial cross-sectional views, respectively, of a compact projectile launcher 1620. The launcher 1620 is similar to the launcher 1420 of FIGS. 14 and 15, and includes a body or frame 1622, trigger cover or safety 1624, end cap or knob 1626, detachable barrel 1630, spring 1720, gas cartridge 226, puncture pin 1724, trigger 1726, expansion chamber 1730, burst disk 1732, projectile retainer 1736, as well as a laser sighting mechanism 1632 and a trigger return spring 1740.

The end cap 1626 compresses the spring 1720 before each shot. In activating the trigger, the optional trigger safety cover 1724 is moved (e.g., rotated to expose the trigger). The trigger 1726 releases the spring 1720 propelling the gas cartridge 226 into the puncture pin 1724 releasing compressed gas into the expansion chamber 1730. The trigger spring returns the trigger to its initial position. The build-up of pressure and volume from the released gas into the expansion chamber cause the burst disk 1732 to rupture. The expanding gases accelerate one or more projectiles 1540 out the barrel 1630. The end cap is also used to replace the gas cartridge 226 after launching the one or more projectiles. The disposable reload barrel 1630 facilitates fast reloading, and can include one or more projectiles 1540, projectile retainer 1736 and a new burst disk 1732. This configuration also contains a laser mechanism 1632 that can be integrated to operate with the trigger actuation, independent of the trigger actuation, or integrated with the movement of the trigger safety cover.

FIGS. 18 and 19 depict perspective and partial cut-away views, respectively, of a compact projectile launcher 1820. The launcher includes a plurality of barrels 1822 in addition to an end cap 1826, trigger cover or safety 1824, laser 1832, body 1840, spring 1920, gas cartridge 1922, cartridge holder and spring retainer 1924, trigger 1926, trigger return spring 1940, puncture pin 1924, expansion chamber 1926, burst disk 1930 and projectile retainers 1932. The end cap 1926 compresses the spring 1920 before each shot. The spring 1920 is wrapped around the spring retainer 1924 that provides for a reduced launcher length. The trigger 1926 releases the spring 1920 propelling the gas cartridge 1922 into the puncture pin 1924 releasing compressed gas into the expansion chamber 1926. The build-up of pressure and volume cause the burst disk 1930 to rupture. The expanding gas accelerates one or more projectiles 1940 out the barrels 1822. The end cap 1803 is also used to replace the gas cartridge after each shot. Disposable or quick reload barrels may be used to facilitate fast reloading. Disposable or quick reload barrels could contain one or more projectiles 1940, projectile retainers 1932 and a burst disk 1822. This configuration also contains a laser 1812 that can be integrated to operate with the trigger actuation or independent of the trigger actuation.

FIG. 20 depicts a simplified cross-sectional view of an alterative disposable and/or quick reload barrel 2020. The barrel 2020 includes a the barrel body 2022, threading 2024 that mates with threading of a launcher, a burst disk 2026, one or more projectiles 2030 and projectile retainer 2032. The barrel can be constructed of plastic, a polymer, fiber reinforced polymer, metal or other relevant materials and/or combinations of materials. The muzzle or interior diameter 2034 is sized to receive the desired lethal or non-lethal projectile(s) 2030. The projectiles are held in the barrel with projectile retainer 2032 that can constructed from a polymer, Styrofoam, paper, closed or open celled foam or other relevant material. The threading 2024 can be replaced in some embodiments to provide other methods for attaching with a launcher. The burst disk, pressure plug or similar pressure retaining device 2026 can be installed with glue, by friction, retaining rings, or other means in the disposable barrel.

FIG. 21 depicts a simplified cross-sectional view of a disposable and/or quick reload barrel 2120. The barrel 2120 is similar to the barrel 2020 and includes a the barrel body 2122, one or more projectiles 2030, projectile retainer 2032, one or more tabs or flanges 2128 that mate with a one or more grooves or recesses of a launcher to secure the barrel 2120 with the launcher, a plug 2124 and retaining ring 2126 that maintains the positioning of the plug relative to the projectile(s) 2030. The barrel 2120 is secured with a launcher such that the plug 2124 is adjacent an expansion chamber. When the pressure and volume increases within the expansion chamber to approximately a threshold pressure, the plug is forced beyond the retaining ring 2126 and the pressure continues to drive the projectile(s) from the barrel 2120. In other configurations, pressure plug 2124, burst diaphragm 2026, or other relevant pressure retaining device is installed with glue, by friction, retaining rings, or other means in the barrel or the launcher housing.

FIG. 22 depicts a perspective view of a compact projectile launcher 2220 according to some embodiments that includes an activation system or portion 2222 and propelling or launching system or portion 2224. The activation portion 2222 and propelling system 2224 are detachably secured together to provide for an operational launcher that is capable of launching projectiles 134. FIG. 23 shows the compact projectile launcher 2220 of FIG. 22 in a disconnected state with the activation system 2222 separated from the propelling system 2224.

The launcher 2220 of FIGS. 22 and 23 includes a body 2226, a grip 2230, a barrel 2232, an actuator or trigger 2234, and a laser 2236, where the trigger and laser are part of the activation system, and the barrel, and in some embodiments, the grip are formed by the cooperation of both the activation system and the propelling system. A driver receiving port 2320 and propelling system portion of the barrel 2322 are also shown in FIG. 23.

FIG. 24 depicts a simplified cross-sectional diagram of the activation system 2222 of FIGS. 22-23. The components of the activation system include the trigger system 2234 that includes a release latch 2422 and safety 2424, a driver 2426, a spring 2430, laser 2236 that can include a power source (e.g., battery), channel or light guide 2432, activation system portion of the barrel 2434, and body or frame 2440. The trigger latch 2422 is pivotably secured with the body such as with a pin or rivet 2442. The safety 2424 cooperates with the trigger latch in attempts to avoid accidental release of the trigger latch. In some embodiments, the safety includes a tab 2450, base 2452 and a biasing spring 2454. The biasing spring 2454 biases the safety toward the trigger latch such that the tab 2450 and base 2452 cooperate with a groove 2460 and base 2462 of the trigger latch 2422, respectively. The safety base 2452 extend under the trigger latch to maintain the trigger latch in a first position such that a latch or hook system 2464 engages the driver 2426 when the driver is in a retracted position with the spring 2430 compressed. In activating the trigger 2234 a user presses the safety toward an output or front side 2470 of the activation system while pressing down on the trigger latch 2422. Other embodiments may alternatively operate by pulling back on the safety. The safety base 2452 and tab 2450 are pushed away from the trigger latch allowing the trigger latch to pivot shifting the latch system 2464 way from the driver 2426 allowing the spring 2430 to force the driver in a direction away from the front side. The driver is positioned within a driver bore 2472 that includes a recess 2474 adjacent a back side 2476. The activation system portion of the barrel 2434 similarly includes a recess 2480 adjacent the back side 2476.

FIG. 25 depicts a cross-section view of the launching or propelling system 2224 of FIGS. 22 and 23. The propelling system 2224 includes the driver receiving port 2320, a compressed gas cartridge 226, a puncture pin 236, a pin seal 2522, an expansion chamber 224, burst disk 240, propelling system portion of the barrel 2322, one or more projectiles 724, and a weather sealant and/or retainer 2526 positioned within the propelling system portion of the barrel, and the body 2530. The driver receiving port 2320 and the propelling system portion of the barrel 2322 protrude from the body 2530 to mate with the recesses 2474 and 2480 of the driver bore 2472 and activation system portion of the barrel 2434, respectively. The mating in some preferred embodiments provides a tight, friction fit that at least aids in maintaining the activation and the propelling systems together during operation. Other methods for securing the activation system and the propelling system can additionally and/or alternatively be used, such as pins, snaps, latches, magnets, tongue and groove, and other methods or combinations of methods. For example, a latching mechanism similar to the trigger latch can be used to keep the activation and propelling systems together during operation.

Upon activation of the safety 224 and trigger latch 2422, the driver 2426 is released, and the spring forces the driver into the driver receiving port 2320 to contact the gas cartridge 226 and drive the cartridge into the pin seal 2522 and onto the puncture pin 236. The puncture pin punctures the cartridge such that the compressed gas flows through the pin and into the expansion chamber 224. The pin seal 2522 helps to seal the pin and the cartridge to limit, and preferably prevent gas from escaping from around the puncture pin. An output of the expansion chamber is aligned with an input of the barrel 2322. Similar to the embodiments described above, the expansion chamber receives the released gas allowing the gas to expand and build pressure and volume. When the pressure reaches a threshold level the burst disk 240 ruptures rapidly releasing the gas into the barrel 2322 propelling the projectiles and the projectile retainer 2526 along the propelling system portion of the barrel 2322, into the activation system portion of the barrel 2434, and out the output of the barrel.

The bodies 2530, 2440, and/or components can be made of metals, plastics, polymers, resins, reinforced polymers, and other material or combinations of materials. The projectile retainer and/or weather sealant 2526 is, for example, made from one or more pieces (e.g., two pieces) of Styrofoam and keeps moisture from entering into the cartridge. The retainer can be shaped to conform to a perimeter of a projectile on one side while being tapered on the other to increase air drag. The retainer in this and other embodiments can be optional and do not need to be included. Additionally, other materials may be used for the weather sealant, such as rubber, paper, plastic, synthetic foam, and other relevant materials. In operation, the burst disk releases the gas from the expansion chamber that is transferred to the barrel 2322 behind the projectiles 724 and weather sealant 2526. The one or more projectile 724 and the weather sealant 2526 are subsequently launched from the barrel. The weather sealant 4712 is designed to be much less aerodynamic as compared to the projectile 4708 and thus, generally falls to the ground well short of an intended target.

Similar to other embodiments described above, the propelling system can be configured as a disposable or replaceable cartridge that is easily replaced once the projectiles are launched. This allows for quick reloading of the compressed gas, burst disk and projectiles to allow rapid re-firing of projectiles when desired.

FIG. 26 depicts a simplified cross-section view of an electrically triggered, compact projectile launcher 2610 according to some embodiments. The launcher 2610 includes a housing 2612, an activation system 2614 and a propelling system 2616. The activation system 2612 includes a safety 2622, trigger switch 2624, a circuit 2626, a power source 2630, a laser assembly 2632, and an ignitable substance 2634. The propelling system 2614 includes a compressed gas cartridge or cylinder 2636, puncture pin 2640, an expansion chamber 2342, rupture disk or burst diaphragm 2644, barrel 2646, and projectile retainer 2650. To activate the launcher 2610, a user moves the safety, such as sliding the safety away from the output end of the launcher exposing the electrical trigger switch 2624, and presses the trigger switch. In other embodiments, the trigger is activated by moving toward the output. The trigger switch is coupled with the circuit 2626 and the power source 2630. The circuit can include circuit elements, such as one or more capacitors that supply an electrical charge that ignites the ignitable substance. The ignitable substance can be substantially any ignitable substance that can ignite relatively rapidly to cause a small explosion that drives the gas cartridge 2636 onto the puncture pin. For example, the ignitable substance can be a primer, gunpowder, a mixture of primer and gun powder, and other relevant substances or combinations of substances. In some preferred embodiments, the ignitable substance is substantially only a primer providing a consistent and reliable explosion that drives the gas cartridge onto the pin or the puncture pin into the cartridge.

The gas is released through and/or around the puncture pin and into the expansion chamber 2642. The gas cartridge is contained within the expansion chamber thus eliminating the need for additional seals and thus delivering all of the released gas to the expansion chamber. The burst disk 2644 ruptures at about the defined pressure threshold driving the projectiles 724 over the retainer 2650 and launching the projectiles from the barrel 2646. The retainer in some embodiments is a ridge or slight rise in the side of the barrel over which the projectiles slightly compress, or can be flexible such that the retaining member is flexed or compressed as the projectiles pass the retaining member.

The laser assembly 2632 couples with the power source 2630 to receive power. In some implementations, the safety is additionally a laser assembly switch that activates the laser allowing power to be delivered to the laser when the safety is retracted away from the trigger switch 2624.

FIG. 27 depicts a cross-sectional view of a compact projectile launcher 2720 as implemented according to some embodiments. The launcher 2720 includes an activation system or portion 2712 and a propelling system or portion 2714. The activation system 2712 includes a safety system 2722, trigger system 2724, and a puncture pin driver system 2726. The propelling system 2714 includes a puncture pin 2730, compressed gas cylinder or cartridge 2732, a gas cartridge housing 2734, expansion chamber system 2736, burst disk or diaphragm 2740, diffuser or orifice plate 2742, barrel 2744, and a projectile retainer 2746 that maintains one or more projectiles 2750 within the barrel until the launcher 2720 is activated.

The launcher is configured in some embodiments such that the activation system 2712 can be detached from the propelling system 2714. Similarly, the gas cartridge housing 2734 and the barrel 2744 can be detachably secured with the expansion chamber system 2736. The coupling and securing of the activation system 2712 with the propelling system 2714, the cartridge housing with the expansion chamber system 2736, and the barrel 2744 with the expansion chamber system can be achieved through one or more of several method including screw threading, tongue and groove, snaps, friction fits, pins, rivets, bolts, and other such methods and/or combinations of methods. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 27, the launcher is assembled through screw threading 2752. In some implementations, the gas cartridge housing 2734 and barrel 2744 are configured as a single pieces with the expansion chamber system 2736 detachable from the single piece housing and barrel, such as screw threading, quick disconnect or other attachment methods.

FIG. 28 depicts an enlarged view of the actuator system 2712 with the safety system 2722, the trigger system 2724, and the puncture pin driver system 2726. The safety system 2722 includes a safety cover 2820 that includes a trigger tab 2822 and a slide flange, tab or the like 2824, safety biasing spring 2826 and a slide groove 2830 into which the slide flange 2824 extends and cooperates. The safety biasing spring 2824 is positioned between the safety cover and a frame 2832 in a partially compressed state such that the safety cover is forced or biased toward an actuator or trigger button 2834 and extends over the trigger button preventing access with the trigger button. To access the trigger button 2834, a user forces the safety cover 2820 away from the trigger and toward the safety spring 2826 further compressing the safety spring as the slide flange 2824 slides along the slide 2830 exposing the trigger button 2834. The sliding of the safety cover further disengages the trigger tab 2822 from a safety recess 2836 of a trigger button 2834 of the trigger system 2724.

The trigger system includes the trigger button 2834, the safety recess 2836, a trigger spring 2840, a trigger slide 2842 that includes a driver aperture 2844, and a trigger slide groove 2846, which in some embodiments further includes a friction reduction mechanism or material 2850 such as a Teflon washer and/or coating positioned along the trigger slide 2842 and/or the slide groove 2846. The trigger spring 2840 is positioned between the trigger button 2834 and the frame 2832 and in an inactive state biases the trigger button in an up or inactive position. The trigger slide 2842 is secured with the trigger button such that when the trigger button is in the inactive position, the driver aperture 2844 cooperates and/or is in contact with a lip or rim 2856 of a driver 2854 of the puncture pin driver system 2726.

When the trigger button is activated following the shifting of the safety cover 2820 the safety tab 2822 is pulled way from and disengages the safety recess 2836 of the trigger button 2834. Once the safety tab is disengaged, the user can depress the trigger button 2834 compressing the trigger spring 2840 and forcing the trigger slide 2840 along the slide groove 2846. As the trigger slide 2840 is forced down it disengages with the rim 2856 of the driver 2854 allowing the driver to pass through the driver aperture 2844 as described fully below.

The puncture pin driver system 2726 includes the driver 2854 that has the rim 2856 and a spring flange 2860, a driver spring 2862, and a compression adjustment member 2864. In the inactive position, the driver spring 2862 is compressed between the spring flange 2860 of the driver 2854 and the compression adjustment member 2864. In some embodiments, the compression adjustment member is a threaded bolt or other similar device that engages the frame 2832 in an adjustable manner, such as threadedly engaging the frame, can be removed from the frame to allow the driver 2854 to be reset in the inactive position, and/or can be adjusted relative to the driver 2854 to allow the compression of the driver spring 2862 to be adjusted.

Upon activation of the trigger button 2834 the trigger slide 2842 slides along the slide groove 2846 such that the driver aperture 2844 disengages the rim 2856 of the driver. The force of the driver spring 2860 on the spring flange 2860 forces the driver 2854 through the driver aperture 2844 to contact the puncture pin 2730. The puncture pin is driven into the gas cartridge 2732 to puncture the gas cartridge causing the gas to be released.

Referring to FIGS. 27 and 28, upon the activation of the trigger as described above, the driver drives the puncture pin 2730 into the gas cartridge 2732. In some embodiments, the puncture pin 2730 is configured to puncture the cartridge and then be driven or propelled back toward the driver 2854 by the compressed gas escaping from the gas cartridge 2732. The puncture pin can include, in some implementations, a puncture pin back seal 2870 that is forced back into contact with and sealing against the cartridge housing 2734 establishing a positive pressure. The seal provided by the puncture pin seal at least limits, and preferably prevents compressed gas from escaping the cartridge housing and expansion chamber system 2736.

FIG. 29 depicts an enlarged, cross-sectional view of the expansion chamber system 2736 of the propelling system 2714. In some embodiments, the expansion chamber system includes an expansion chamber plate 2920, an expansion chamber cavity plate 2922, a chamber seal 2924, an expansion chamber cavity 2926, and bolts 2930. The expansion chamber cavity 2926 is defined between the chamber plate 2920 and the cavity plate 2922 and extends into the gas cartridge housing 2734 and around the gas cartridge 2732. The chamber plate 2920 and the cavity plate 2922 are secured together with bolts 2930 or other relevant methods for securing.

The chamber seal 2924 is positioned between the chamber plate 2920 and the cavity plate 2922 to seal the expansion chamber cavity 2926 to prevent the expanding gas released from the gas cartridge from escaping the expansion chamber cavity. In some embodiments, the chamber seal 2924 is positioned within seal recesses formed in both the chamber plate and cavity plate. The chamber seal can have substantially any shape and is typically dependent on the shape of the chamber plate and/or cavity plate, and can further be formed of substantially any relevant material such as rubber, silicon, adhesive, wax, plastic, polymer, and other relevant materials or combinations of materials.

In some embodiments, the expansion chamber cavity is defined by volume within a single body formed through molded (e.g., injection molding), tooling or the like, or formed for pieces cooperated to form substantially a single unit through welding, gluing, sonic welded, resin, and other methods that do not require bolts, screws and/or expansion chamber seal 2924.

The expansion chamber cavity 2926 terminates at the burst disk 2740. In some embodiments, the burst disk includes and/or is positioned between one or more disk seals 2942. The disk seal(s) can include a seal positioned between the chamber plate 2920 and the burst disk, and/or a seal positioned between the burst disk and the diffuser plate 2742 and/or barrel 2744. The seal established by the disk seal prevents gas from passing around the burst disk and from leaking from the barrel. Additional seals can be included, such as a seal 2944 between the chamber plate 2920 and the cartridge housing 2734. Similar to the chamber seal 2924, the disk seal 2942 and/or seal 2944 have substantially any shape and are typically dependent on the shapes of the chamber plate, gas cartridge housing and barrel, and can further be formed of substantially any relevant material such as rubber, silicon, adhesive, wax, plastic, polymer, and other relevant materials or combinations of materials.

Referring to FIGS. 27-29, as described above, upon puncturing of the gas cartridge 2732 the compressed gas forces the puncture pin back such that the pin seal 2870 seals against the cartridge housing 2734 closing the expansion chamber cavity 2926. The escaping gas from the cartridge rapidly expands around the cartridge and fills the remainder of the expansion chamber cavity 2926 exerting pressure against the burst disk 2740. When the pressure reaches approximate limits, the burst disk bursts or ruptures releasing the gas into the barrel to propel the projectiles 2750 and projectile retainer 2746 from the barrel 2744. The retainers can be similar to other retainers described above, and in some embodiments is formed of foam, synthetic foam, Styrofoam, paper, plastic, cork, or other material. The retainer is not necessary in all embodiments. For example, some embodiments use projectile friction with the barrel or other means for retaining the projectile in the barrel.

In some embodiments, the launcher further includes the diffuser plate 2742. FIG. 30 depicts a simplified plane view of a diffuser plate 2742 according to some embodiments. The diffuser plate 2742 disperses the gas away from a central axis of the barrel 2744 and similarly away from a center of the projectile. The diffusing of the gases is particularly advantageous when the projectiles are frangible projectiles, such as frangible, hollow projectiles containing a substance, such as an irritant powder, an inert substance for training, a Capsaicin, Capsaicin II, Nonivamide, at least one capsaicinoid, Oleoresin Capsaicin (OC), at least one of CS and CN, maloderants, sleep agent(s), insecticide, herbicide, a liquid substance, a marking substance, and/or a weighting substance, or a combination of these substances. The diffuser plate 2742 directs the flow of gases away from the center of the projectiles so that the pressure from the gas is dispersed over the exterior of the projectile 2750 in a more even manner. The diffuser plate 2742, in some embodiments, is typically solid near a center axis 3020 that aligns with a center axis of the projectile(s) and/or barrel, and has a plurality of holes 3022 dispersed over the plate toward a periphery 3024 of the diffuser plate. The plate 2742 disperses high velocity gas away from the center of the projectile generally toward the periphery of the projectile. The pressure on the projectile 2750 nearest the diffuser plate is thus loaded at a curved portion of the projectile rather than at a 90 degree angle to the projectile. Additionally, the diffuser plate can reduce peak acceleration of the projectiles. This prevents the projectile(s) from breaking due to the contact pressure of the gas or from the impact contact force between the projectiles.

The diffusion plate can have many different shapes and/or designs. The holes or orifice(s) through which gas can pass can be circular, rectangular, one or more slits, grooves, spirals, or other configures. The diffusion plate additionally can be constructed of one or more different materials including, but not limited to, metal, plastic, polymer(s), wood, and other materials or combinations of materials. In other embodiments, the diffusion plate can be replaced with a porous material, screen, foam, aluminum foam, compressed matrix or matting of fibrous material, and/or other material or combination of materials to diffuse the gas flow.

The present embodiments can be utilized to launch many different types of projectiles, and can be fabricated to launch one or multiple projectiles from one or more barrels. Configurations with more than one barrel can also launch from each barrel separately giving multiple shots by duplicating one or more of the basic components of the trigger mechanism, gas handling components, burst disk, and other components for each barrel and/or desired number of shots. For example, FIG. 31 depicts a simplified cross-sectional view of a launcher 3120 according to some embodiments. The launcher 3120 is generally rectangular in shape similar to the generally rectangular launcher of FIGS. 11 and 12, and includes a trigger 3122, gearing 3124, springs 3126, hammers 3130, explosive material 3132, high pressure reduction volumes 3134, two barrels 3136 containing one or more projectiles 3138, an optional laser 3140 and a mirror 3142 positioned in a frame 3244. Upon compressing the trigger 3122, the gearing 3124 contract and/or release the springs 3126 driving the hammers 3130 into the explosive material (e.g., primer, gun powder, and other such material or combinations of materials) causing the material to explode. The explosive force is directed into the reduction volume 3134 and into the barrels 3136 to propel the projectiles from the barrels. The laser can also be activated by the trigger and is reflected by the mirror. By incorporating the laser into the frame 3144 and using the mirror the overall size of the launcher can be reduced.

As indicated above, the compact launchers of the present embodiments can be used to launch different types of projectiles, and in particular different types of non-lethal projectiles. FIGS. 32-33 depict simplified cross-sectional views of launchers 2220 and 2320 similar to FIG. 7 and FIG. 31, respectively, where the projectiles 3222 to be launched are oblong shaped and include stabilizing fins. These projectiles launch through similar methods described above, and in some embodiments include additional seals between the burst disk and the projectiles to aid in capturing the propulsion force provided by the released gas.

Several embodiments have bee described above, each containing many components, and some containing sub-systems. It is noted that components and/or sub-systems can be interchanged into some of the other embodiments. Some of the launcher embodiments described here can additionally include puncture mechanisms as described in co-pending U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/570,549, filed May 12, 2004, entitled QUICK ACTION COMPRESSED GAS CARTRIDGE PUNCTURE MECHANISM, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

While the invention herein disclosed has been described by means of specific embodiments and applications thereof, numerous modifications and variations could be made thereto by those skilled in the art without departing from the scope of the invention as set forth in the claims.

Referenced by
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US7775200 *May 23, 2005Aug 17, 2010Anderson Kenneth KBarrel system for a paintball marker
US8196571 *Mar 9, 2007Jun 12, 2012Jenson Martin WApparatus, system, and method for launching a granular substance
US8448632 *Jul 7, 2011May 28, 2013Buzz Bee Toys (H.K.) Co., LimitedToy gun compressed air firing shell
US8689776 *May 10, 2012Apr 8, 2014Guang-Jia HOUPaintball gun flow channel system
US20120304975 *Jul 7, 2011Dec 6, 2012Chor-Ming MaToy Gun Compressed Air Firing Shell
US20130298892 *May 10, 2012Nov 14, 2013Guang-Jia HOUPaintball gun flow channel system
Classifications
U.S. Classification124/57
International ClassificationH04N5/225, F41B11/62, F41B11/83
Cooperative ClassificationF41B11/62
European ClassificationF41B11/62
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Aug 16, 2005ASAssignment
Owner name: PEPPERBALL TECHNOLOGIES, INC., CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:VASEL, EDWARD J.;WENAAS, ERIC P.;REEL/FRAME:016643/0468
Effective date: 20050720