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Publication numberUS20060254115 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/271,487
Publication dateNov 16, 2006
Filing dateNov 10, 2005
Priority dateNov 22, 2004
Also published asUS20070062091
Publication number11271487, 271487, US 2006/0254115 A1, US 2006/254115 A1, US 20060254115 A1, US 20060254115A1, US 2006254115 A1, US 2006254115A1, US-A1-20060254115, US-A1-2006254115, US2006/0254115A1, US2006/254115A1, US20060254115 A1, US20060254115A1, US2006254115 A1, US2006254115A1
InventorsMark Thomas, Mitchell Thomas, Forrest Babcock
Original AssigneeThomas Mark A, Mitchell Thomas, Forrest Babcock
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Optical sight with side focus adjustment
US 20060254115 A1
Abstract
A scope for a firearm can be used for a gun sight. The scope comprises a main tube that contains imaging optics therein. In certain embodiments, the main tube comprises a single continuous tubular body extending uninterrupted from a widened proximal end portion through a narrow medial portion to a widened distal end portion. A side focus assembly is positioned along the tubular body. The side focus assembly is used to vary the position of optics within the scope to adjust the overall focus of the scope.
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Claims(23)
1. A scope comprising:
a plurality of lenses;
a scope body of standard 1 inch dimension holding the plurality of lenses and defining a central scope axis; and
a side-mounted focus assembly disposed to one side of the scope body so as to be offset laterally with respect to the central axis and wherein the focus assembly translates user actuation into translational movement of at least one of the lenses so as to adjust focus of the scope.
2. (canceled)
3. The scope of claim 1, wherein the side-mounted focus assembly comprises an actuator that rotates with respect to the scope body.
4. The scope of claim 3, wherein the actuator is configured for hand manipulation.
5. The scope of claim 3, further comprising an engagement structure which defines an operating portion which is offset from a rotational axis of the actuator.
6. The scope of claim 5, wherein the engagement structure comprises an engagement pin.
7. The scope of claim 5, wherein the engagement structure is offset from the rotational axis of the actuator.
8. The scope of claim 5, further comprising a focus lens holder securing at least one of the plurality of lenses.
9. The scope of claim 8, wherein the operating portion of the engagement structure is resiliently engaged with the focus lens holder so as to maintain engagement with the holder throughout transverse movement of the holder.
10. The scope of claim 9, further comprising a spring disposed to resiliently engage the engagement structure with the focus lens holder.
11. The scope of claim 9, wherein transverse movement comprises both vertical and horizontal movement.
12. The scope of claim 9, further comprising a coupling through which the engagement structure passes, the coupling being attached to the focus lens holder such that longitudinal movement of the engagement structure causes longitudinal movement of the focus lens holder.
13. The scope of claim 12, wherein the coupling comprises plastic.
14. The scope of claim 12, wherein the engagement structure is movable within the coupling in directions orthogonal to the central scope axis.
15. The scope of claim 12, wherein the coupling defines an elongated opening.
16. The scope of claim 1, further comprising a distally arranged objective lens assembly and a proximally arranged ocular lens assembly, and wherein the focus assembly is arranged intermediate the objective and ocular lens assemblies.
17. The scope of claim 16, wherein at least one of the objective and ocular lens assemblies are of different dimension than the standard 1 inch dimension.
18.-30. (canceled)
31. The scope of claim 16, further comprising:
a flexible erector tube in said scope body between said objective lens assembly and said ocular lens assembly, said flexible erector tube having distal and proximal ends; and
at least positioning member passing through an opening in said scope body, said positioning member having a position wherein said positioning member applies pressure from a first side of said scope body thereby inducing flexure of said flexible erector tube, wherein said flexible erector tube is biased toward said positioning member and away from a second opposite side of said scope body opposite said opening in said scope body.
32. The scope of claim 31, wherein said at least one positioning member comprises a windage screw disposed in said scope body for adjusting windage.
33. The scope of claim 31, wherein said at least one positioning member comprises an elevation screw disposed in said scope body for adjusting elevation.
34. The scope of claim 31, wherein said flexible erector tube has sidewalls that include slots therein to provide flexure of said flexible erector tube.
35. The scope of claim 34, wherein said sidewalls of said flexible erector tube comprise metal.
Description
RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 10/994,491, entitled “Scope With Improved Windage/Elevation System” filed Nov. 22, 2004; this application also claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/647,201 entitled “Optical Sight with Side Focus Adjustment” filed on Jan. 26, 2005 (MIC.052A) as well as to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/647,686 entitled “Adjustable Optical Sighting Apparatus and Methods” filed on Jan. 27, 2005 (MIC.055A). The entire disclosure of the above-noted patent applications are hereby incorporated by reference herein and made a part of this specification.

BACKGROUND

1. Field of the Invention

The present teachings relate to a scope for mounting on a firearm to provide a gun sight. Such a scope may have a side focus capability.

2. Description of the Related Art

Scopes are of interest for practical applications in various fields. Scopes are often used as aiming devices, for example, for firearms like rifles or handguns. Scopes can be mounted to the firearm so that the user can peer through the scope to view the target up close.

A scope, otherwise known as a terrestrial telescope or landscape telescope, comprises an objective lens and an ocular lens or eyepiece. The combination of the objective and the ocular alone create an inverted image of the target in the viewer's eye. Accordingly, scopes are customarily outfitted with erector systems between the objective and ocular for inverting the image such that the target appears erect as seen by the viewer. The objective, ocular, and erector are generally disposed in a body that protects the optics.

Conventional scopes that are mounted on a firearm typically have a rotatable zoom ring disposed on the outside of the scope. The zoom ring can be rotated to adjust optics within the scope that enlarge or reduce the apparent distance to the object viewed through the scope. Thus, when the user employs the scope to aim a firearm at a target, the user can rotate the zoom ring to adjust how close the object appears for easier observation of the target.

The scope may also include windage and elevation controls for adjusting windage and elevation. These controls may comprise dials that the user rotates to establish the desired windage or elevation setting. Preferably, the windage and elevation controls have sufficiently large range. The controls also preferably have a suitable feel for precise adjustment and user appeal. In contrast, many conventional system rely on forward spring designs with ball seats that have machined grooves that cause sticking and jumping when adjusting the windage or elevation.

The scope may also include a focusing system. In particular, the scope may be designed such that one or more optical lens elements in the scope can be longitudinally displaced so as to bring an image into focus.

SUMMARY

One embodiment of the invention comprises a scope for mounting on a firearm to provide a sight. The scope is adjustable in at least one of elevation and windage. The scope comprises a main tube, an objective and an ocular, a flexible erector tube, and at least one actuator. The main tube has a hollow interior region defined by interior sidewall surfaces. The objective and ocular are disposed in the hollow interior region of the main tube. The flexible erector tube is disposed in the hollow interior region of the main tube between the objective and the ocular. The flexible erector tube has exterior sidewall surfaces. The flexible erector tube houses erector optics. The flexible erector tube includes a movable portion and a fixed portion. The fixed portion is secured to the main tube. The at least one actuator is for applying pressure to the movable portion of the flexible erector tube to displace the movable portion with respect to the main tube. The flexible erector tube is biased toward the at least one actuator without a biasing element between the interior sidewall surfaces of the main tube and the exterior sidewall surfaces of the erector tube. In one variation, the fixed portion of the flexible erector tube comprises a mounting flange. In one variation, the flexible erector tube comprises a flexible portion that is less rigid to permit flexure of the flexible erector tube. The flexible portion of the flexible erector tube comprises openings in the flexible erector tube to permit flexure of the flexible erector tube. In some variations, the movable portion is disposed off-center in the main tube toward the at least one actuator so as to provide the bias. The flexible erector tube is bent such that the movable portion is laterally displaced with respect to the fixed portion. The flexible erector tube is tilted so as to provide the biasing. The at least one actuator comprises a threaded screw.

Another embodiment of the invention comprises a method of manufacturing a scope for a firearm. In this method, a hollow main tube is provided. A flexible erector tube having first and second end portions that can be flexed with respect to each other is inserted in the hollow main tube. Actuators are disposed with respect to the flexible erector tube to flex the first end of the erector tube with respect to the second end of the erector tube. The first end of the erector tube is biased toward the actuators without using one or more springs between the erector tube and the main tube to provide the bias.

Another embodiment of the invention comprises a scope for mounting on a firearm to provide a sight. The scope is adjustable in at least one of elevation and windage. The scope comprises a main tube, an objective, an ocular, a flexible erector tube, and at least one threaded screw passing through an opening in said main tube. The objective and the ocular are disposed in the main tube. The flexible erector tube is disposed in the main tube between the objective and the ocular. The flexible erector tube has distal and proximal ends. The distal end is closer to the objective than to the proximal end. The flexible erector tube houses erecting optics. The threaded screw has a position wherein the threaded screw applies pressure from a first side of the main tube thereby inducing flexure of the flexible erector tube. The flexible erector tube is biased toward the threaded screw and away from a second opposite side of the main tube opposite the opening in the main tube. The second opposite side of the main tube is devoid of springs at the distal end of the erector tube that apply a force against pressure from the threaded screw.

Another embodiment of the invention comprises a scope for a firearm. The scope is adjustable in at least one of elevation and windage. The scope comprises a main tube, an objective, an ocular, a flexible erector tube and at least one actuator. The objective is in a distal portion of the main tube. The ocular is in a proximal portion of the main tube. The flexible erector tube is in the main tube between the objective and the ocular. The flexible erector tube houses erecting optics. The at least one actuator is for applying pressure to the flexible erector tube such that the flexible erector tube flexes to adjust at least one of the elevation and windage. The scope further comprises means for biasing the erector tube against pressure from the actuator without using springs between the flexible erector and the main tube.

A variety of scope designs with different features are described below. For example, various embodiments of the invention comprise a side-mounted focus adjustment assembly. In one embodiment, the side focus assembly includes a rotatable knob arranged generally to the side of the central tube portion of the scope. This rotatable knob may, in particular embodiments, be arranged generally at the same axially location along the center tube portion as elevation and/or windage adjustment assemblies. The focus assembly may be radially displaced from these other adjustment assemblies. The side-mounted focus assembly includes a mechanism such that by rotating the knob, a focus lens assembly internal to the scope is induced to move axially within the scope so as to adjust the focus of an image viewed by a user of the scope as seen from the ocular or eyepiece end. The side-mount focus assembly can be advantageously utilized with a unitary main scope tube which is materially continuous from the objective or distal end to the ocular or proximal end and thus does not include the threaded joints of many known scopes. Thus, the side mount focus assembly can provide a desirably focus adjustment to a scope having a unitary main tube and thus with the strength, weight, and bulk advantages desired by users of the scope. In different embodiments, the side focus can also optionally be used with a flexible erector that may optionally be biased and springless to provide reliable windage and elevation adjustments.

The diameters of the central tube holding optical components may have a generally standardized at diameters of either one (1) inch or thirty (30) millimeters. The focus may be accomplished with a rotating knob which moves an internally arranged focus lens assembly axially along the main axis of the scope to provide the desired focus adjustment. To convert the rotation motion to axial motion of a lens does not need multiple large profile moving components or layers inside the central body that occupy additional space inside the central body and interfere with the scopes normal operation and reduce optical performance of the scope.

In particular, in one embodiment of the invention, the scope comprises a plurality of lenses, a scope body of standard 1 inch or 30 mm dimension holding the plurality of lenses and a side-mounted focus assembly disposed to a side of the scope body so as to be displaced laterally from the central axis and wherein the focus assembly translates user actuation into translational movement of at least one of the lenses so as to adjust focus of the scope.

In another embodiment of the invention, a scope comprises an elongate tube, an objective lens assembly arranged in a distal end of the tube, an eyepiece lens assembly arranged in an opposite proximal end of the tube. The scope further comprises a focus assembly arranged intermediate the objective and eyepiece lens assemblies and along a first side of the tube. This focus assembly is adapted to adjust an image focus as seen by a viewer.

Yet another embodiment is a scope comprising a housing extending along a first axis, a plurality of lenses secured by and positioned within the housing so as to provide an image to a viewer. This scope further comprises a focus assembly laterally offset and off-center from the side of the non-symmetric housing. The focus assembly rotates about a second axis substantially orthogonal to the first axis so as to vary the position of at least one of the lenses so as to adjust an overall focus of the plurality of lenses. In certain embodiments, the scope may further comprise windage and elevation controls and zoom controls.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a scope having a positioning system for adjusting windage and elevation as well as a zoom assembly for providing zoom.

FIG. 2 is a perspective cutaway view of the scope of FIG. 1 illustrating an objective, an erector assembly, and an eyepiece in the scope.

FIG. 2A is an enlarged side cross-sectional view of an eyepiece end of the scope of FIG. 1.

FIG. 2B is an enlarged side cross-sectional view of the objective end of the scope of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the scope of FIG. 1, with an exploded view of a portion of the zoom assembly comprising a zoom selector ring in an opened position.

FIG. 4 illustrates a main body of the scope shown in FIG. 1 with the zoom selector ring removed.

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of the scope along line 5-5 in FIG. 2A.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a zoom selector ring in a closed position.

FIG. 6A is a perspective view of the zoom selector ring of FIG. 6 schematically illustrating interconnection of sections of the zoom selector ring.

FIG. 6B is a front view of the zoom selector ring of FIG. 6A.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of another embodiment of a zoom selector ring.

FIG. 7A is an exploded view of the zoom selector ring of FIG. 7.

FIG. 8 is a side cross-sectional view of the scope of FIG. 1 showing the erector assembly disposed between the objective end of the scope and the eyepiece end.

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of an erector assembly and a portion of a zoom selector ring linked to the erector assembly, wherein the erector assembly comprises a housing comprising an outer tube, an inner tube, and carriages in the inner tube.

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of the carriages inside the inner tube of a housing of the erector assembly.

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of a carriage of the erector assembly of FIGS. 9 and 10.

FIG. 12 is a perspective view of the outer tube of the housing of the erector assembly of FIG. 8.

FIG. 13 is a perspective view of a portion of a scope having an erector assembly with a zoom selector ring, wherein the erector assembly and zoom selector ring have magnetic elements to interact with each other.

FIG. 14 is a perspective cutaway view of a scope schematically illustrating a flexible erector assembly in the scope.

FIG. 15 is a perspective view of an erector tube comprising an elongate and a flexible portion.

FIG. 16 is a side view of the flexible portion of the erector tube schematically illustrating a plurality of cutouts for providing flexure and a mounting flange tube for affixing the erector tube to the main body of the scope.

FIG. 17 is a side view of an embodiment of the flexible portion of an erector tube schematically illustrating bellows for providing flexure.

FIG. 18 is a cross-sectional view of another embodiment of the flexible portion of an erector tube schematically illustrating bellows for providing flexure.

FIG. 19 is a cross-sectional view along the line 19-19 in FIG. 14 schematically illustrating the erector tube laterally offset toward the windage and elevation dials.

FIG. 20 is a perspective view of a scope having a side focus assembly.

FIG. 21 is a cross-sectional view of one embodiment of the side focus assembly of FIG. 20.

FIG. 22 is a perspective view of the side focus assembly.

FIG. 23 is a perspective/cross-sectional view of another embodiment of a side focus assembly.

FIG. 24 is a cross sectional-view of the side focus assembly of FIG. 23.

FIG. 25 is an alternative perspective/cross-sectional view of an embodiment of a side focus assembly.

FIG. 26 is a perspective view of yet another embodiment of a side focus assembly.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

These and other aspects, advantages, and features of the present teachings will become apparent from the following detailed description and with reference to the accompanying drawings. In the drawings, similar elements have similar reference numerals. To assist the description of the scope and its components, the following coordinate terms are used. The terms proximal and distal, which are used to describe the disclosed embodiments, are used consistently with the description of the exemplary applications. The terms proximal and distal are used in reference to the head of the user looking through the scope. That is, proximal components are nearer to the user than distal components.

FIG. 1 illustrates a scope 100 that has a zoom assembly 103 for providing selectable zoom thereby controlling the apparent distance to an object viewed through the scope. The zoom assembly 103 includes the zoom selector ring 105 that is disposed along and surrounds a main body 110 of the scope 100. The zoom selector ring 105 can be adjusted, e.g., rotated, to zoom in or zoom out, thereby reducing or enlarging the object viewed through the scope 100.

As shown in FIG. 1, in certain preferred embodiments the zoom selector ring 105 is disposed rearward on the main body 110. The main body 110 has a widened objective end 114 and a widened eyepiece end 118 housing an objective and an eyepiece, respectively. In the illustrated embodiment, the widened eyepiece end 118 is at the proximal end and the widened objective end 114 is at the distal end of the main body 110. The scope 100 also includes a positioning system 120 for manipulating optics contained within the scope 100 to account for windage and/or elevation. The positioning system 120 includes elevation and windage dials 300, 304 for adjusting the elevation and windage as described in more detail below. In the illustrated embodiment, the zoom selector ring 105 is located between the eyepiece end 118 and the positioning system 120. However, the zoom selector ring 105 can be located at any suitable position along the scope 100 for adjusting optics of the scope to achieve the desired amount of zoom. Although not illustrated, the scope 100 can be mounted to a firearm (e.g., a rifle, a handgun, etc.) or any other device (e.g., a crossbow or a bow) that a user aims during operation.

FIG. 2 is a perspective cutaway view of the scope 100 of FIG. 1. As shown, the main body 110 contains an optical train 126 through which light can propagate to provide an image to the observer using the scope 100. In various preferred embodiments, the optical train 126 comprises a plurality of lenses including the objective and eyepiece referred to above and discussed more fully below. In the illustrated embodiment, a portion of the lenses can be selectively longitudinally displaced with respect to each other by using the zoom assembly 103 to obtain the desired amount of zoom and/or transversely displaced by using the positioning system 120 to account for windage and elevation. Accordingly, the observer can operate the zoom assembly 103 and the positioning system 120 to selectively define the interrelationship between one or more of the lenses of the optical train 126, preferably at any time during the aiming and firing process. A reticle 113 is also included to assist in the aiming process.

The main body 110 is preferably a single continuous unitary body that protects the optics therein. In the illustrated embodiment, the main body 110 surrounds and houses the optical train 126 to reduce introduction of contaminants into the scope 100. The one-piece main body 110 comprises the enlarged objective end 114, the enlarged eyepiece end 118, and a narrow medial or central tubular body 130 therebetween. In one embodiment, the main body 110 can extend uninterrupted from the widened objective end 114 through the narrow central tubular portion 130 to the widened eyepiece end 118. Preferably, both the objective end 114 and eyepiece end 118 house one or more lenses of the optical train 126, e.g., the objective and the ocular, respectively. Accordingly, in the one piece configuration, the unitary main body 110 preferably houses both the objective and eyepiece. The central tubular portion 130 of the main body 110 can house at least a portion of the optical train 126, such as erecting optics, that can ensure that the image viewed with the scope 100 is properly oriented. The one-piece design preferably reduces exposure of the optics to moisture, particulates, and other foreign matter that may degrade performance of the scope 100. The one-piece main body 110 is also likely to be more rugged and durable, offering resistance to the large forces and impacts created by firing a gun. In addition, the one-piece main body 110 weighs less than its multi-piece counterpart, thereby producing less recoil force. In certain embodiments, the dimensions and/or form factor of the central tube region 110 is manufactured in accordance with industry standards and thus in preferred embodiments will have an outer diameter (OD) of either one (1) inch or thirty (30) millimeters. Of course in certain embodiments, either or both of the objective 104 and eyepiece 106 regions are of similar or smaller dimensions than the central region 110.

FIG. 2A is a close-up view of the eyepiece end 118 of the main body 110 preferably housing an ocular lens 152 in a proximal end 140 of the eyepiece. As illustrated in FIG. 2A, the proximal end 140 of the eyepiece portion 118 preferably includes an opening or aperture 150 for viewing through the scope 100. In the embodiment depicted, the proximal end 140 is a tubular body that preferably holds the ocular 152, which comprises a pair of lens elements. Other types of ocular lenses 152 that may include more or less lens elements or other optical elements may also be employed. It is also contemplated that the eyepiece end 118 can have any shape or configuration suitable for holding the ocular 152 and provide a viewing window for looking through the scope 100.

Optionally, positioning structures can be disposed on an inner surface 154 of the eyepiece end 118 for securing the ocular 152 in place. The positioning structures can prevent relative movement between the ocular 152 and the eyepiece housing 118. Other methods of securing the ocular 152 within the eyepiece end 118 of the scope are also possible. Still in other embodiments, one or more lens elements in the ocular is moveable and may be used to focus the image in some cases.

In the illustrated embodiment, the eyepiece end 118 may further comprise a tapered portion 144. The tapered portion 144 extends from the proximal end 140 and tapers in the distal direction. For example, the tapered portion 144 can have a generally circular cross-sectional profile that is reduced in the distal direction towards the objective end 114. The tapered portion 144 of the eyepiece end 118 is preferably coupled to the central tubular portion 130 of the main body 110 as shown in FIGS. 2 and 2A.

The narrow central tubular portion 130 has a proximal end 145 connected to the eyepiece end 118. Preferably, the central tubular portion 130 of the main body 110 is permanently connected to the eyepiece end 118. For example, the central tubular portion 130 may be fused to the eyepiece end 118 or the central tubular portion and the eyepiece end may be molded or otherwise integrated together. The eyepiece end 118 and the central tubular portion 130 may also be fabricated from the same piece of material.

As shown in FIG. 2, the tubular body 130 is also coupled to the objective end 114. The objective end 114 of the scope main body 110 preferably houses an objective 180 as illustrated in the close-up view shown in FIG. 2B.

As also shown in FIG. 2B, the objective portion 114 of the main body 110 has a distal end 184 that includes an opening 185 for viewing an object through the scope 100. In the illustrated embodiment, the distal end 184 is a tubular body configured to engage and hold the objective 180 of the optical train 126. However, it is contemplated that the objective end 114 can have any shape, size, or configuration suitable for holding the objective 180 and providing a viewing window for viewing a distant target through the scope 100. For example, the distal end 184 can have a generally constant (non-tapered) cross-sectional profile along its length. However, other configurations are possible.

Optionally, mounting structures can be disposed on the inner surface 154 of the objective end 114 for securely holding the objective 180. The mounting structures can grip and prevent movement of the objective 180 relative to the objective end 118. Other methods of securing the objective 180 within the objective end 114 of the scope 100 are also possible. In other embodiments, however, the objective 180 may include one or more movable optical elements.

In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 2B, the objective end 114 may further comprise a tapered portion 182. The tapered portion 182 preferably extends from the distal end 184 and tapers in the proximal direction. For example, the tapered portion 182 can have a generally circular cross-sectional profile that is reduced towards the ocular end 118. Other configurations are possible.

The tapered portion 182 of the objective end 114 is preferably permanently coupled to the distal end 184 and to the narrow tubular body 130 of the main body as shown in FIG. 2B. The narrow central tubular portion 130 has a distal end 146. The distal end 146 is preferably connected to the objective end 114 such that the objective end 114 and the narrow central tubular portion are integrated together in a continuous, uninterrupted fashion. Accordingly, the objective end 114 and the central narrow tubular body 130 are connected together to form a continuous uninterrupted housing for the objective optics 180. For example, the central tubular portion 130 may be fused to the objective end 114 or the central tubular portion and the objective end may be molded, or otherwise integrated together. The objective end 114 and the central tubular portion 130 may also be fabricated from the same piece of material.

Accordingly, in various preferred embodiments, the central tubular portion 130 of the main body 110 is permanently connected to at least one of the eyepiece end 118 and the objective end 114. Optionally, the central tubular body portion 130 is permanently connected to both the eyepiece end 118 and the objective end 114. In some embodiments, however, the central tubular portion 130 of the main body may be temporarily coupled to either or both the objective end 114 and the eyepiece end 118.

As shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, the tubular body 130 extends continuously from a proximal portion 164, through a middle body portion 166, and to a distal portion 167. As illustrated, the tubular body 130 of the scope 100 has a generally tubular shape that is sized and configured to house erecting optics. In various embodiments, a substantial portion of the central tubular body portion 130 has a cross-sectional area that is less than the cross-sectional area of the eyepiece end 118 although such a configuration is not required. In some embodiments, a substantial portion of the tubular body 130 has a cross-sectional area that is less than the cross-sectional area of the objective end 114. In the illustrated embodiment, the entire tubular body 130 has a cross-sectional area that is less than the cross-sectional area of the eyepiece end 118 and the cross-sectional area of the objective end 114. In other embodiments, however, the tubular body 130 may be the same size or larger than one of the objective end 114 or eyepiece end 118 or both. The tubular body 130 can also have a cross-sectional area that varies along its length. For example, the tubular body 130 may have a widened portion to support the zoom selector ring 105 sized to be comfortably handled by the user. However, the tubular body 130 can have any shape suitable for housing one or more components of the optical train 126 and possibly for supporting the positioning system 120 and/or the zoom selector ring 105.

As shown in FIG. 3, the proximal portion 164 of the tubular body 130 is disposed through and surrounded at least in part by the zoom selector ring 105. Additionally, the proximal portion 164 of the tubular body 130 can have an elongated opening or slot 170 (see, e.g., FIG. 4).

The slot 170 in the tubular body 130 defines a window between the interior and the exterior of the main body 110 so that an extension from the zoom selector ring 105 can pass through and into the interior of the main body 110 and engage a support structure supporting optics in the optics train 126 as discussed more fully below. In the illustrated embodiment, the slot 170 has a generally constant width and continues along a portion of the circumference of the main body 110. In one embodiment, the arc spanned by the slot 170 ranges between about 0 and 120 degrees, e.g., about 120°, and is positioned along the proximal portion 164. In other embodiments, the length of the slot 170 is about 130° to about 190°, e.g. about 150° or 180°. In other embodiments, the length of the slot 170 is in the range of between about 0° to about 220°. The slot 170 can have other lengths suitable to achieve the desired range of travel of the zoom assembly 103. The slot can be also positioned elsewhere. For example, the slot 170 can alternatively be disposed in the middle body 166 or the distal portion 167.

With continued reference to FIGS. 3 and 4, the slot 170 preferably determines the amount of travel of a rotatable zoom selector ring 105 of the zoom selector ring 105. For example, the slot 170 having a length of about 180° provides about 180° of rotation of the zoom selector ring 105 about a longitudinal axis 121 of the scope 100. The length of the slot 170 can therefore be increased or decreased to increase or decrease, respectively, the angle that the zoom selector ring 105 can be rotated about the main body 110. The slot 170 can also limit the axial movement of the zoom selector ring 105 relative to the main body 110. It is contemplated that those skilled in the art can determine the appropriate size and configuration of the slot 170 to achieve the desired distance of travel of the zoom selector ring 105 and the desired structural properties of the body 110. For example, reducing the length or width of the slot 170 may result in reduced flexure and increased strength of the body 110.

As shown in FIG. 4, an opening or hole 174 can optionally pass through the main body 110, e.g., in the middle portion 166 of the tubular body 130 to receive an actuator that forms part of the positioning system 120. Preferably, for example, movement of the windage and elevation dials 304, 300 may be coupled through the hole 174 to adjust optics in the optics train 126 to effectuate the appropriate corrections for proper aiming. Preferably, however, the slot 170 and the opening 174 do not permit moisture or contaminants from reaching the optics in the scope 100.

As described above, the main body 110 is preferably formed out of a unitary piece of material. In one embodiment, a tube, preferably made of metal, is processed into an elongated substantially cylindrical body having a widened proximal and a widened distal end. As illustrated in FIG. 4, both ends of the cylindrical body can be forged into a partially cone shaped eyepiece end 118 and objective end 114. The frusta-conical shaped taper of the objective end 114 and the eyepiece end 118 of the main body 110 can be forged by placing the ends of the main body 110 into a mold. The main body 110 can then be heat treated to gradually enlarge the end portions of the main body 110. Multiple molds can be used to incrementally increase the size of the eyepiece end 118 and the objective end 114 until the desired shape is obtained. After the main body 110 is molded and shaped as desired, the entire main body 110 can be annealed to reduce residual stresses of the main body 110. In another embodiment, the main body 110 is formed by machining a piece of material into the desired shape. For example, a metal body can be machined with a cutting tool to produce the cylindrical main body 110. In another embodiment, the main body 110 can be formed by a die casting process. For example, molten metal can disposed into a cavity of a die casting machine. The die casting machine may comprise two bodies that mate and form the cavity in the shape of the main body 110. The molten material can then be, for example, injected into the cavity in some embodiments. In addition to die casting, the main body may be swagged (deformed by punching) from an extrusion to achieve a blank that could then be machined. Different embodiments may be machined from an extrusion, swagged, or die cast. Other process may also be employed.

Optionally, the main body 110 can be formed through a one-step or multi-step process. For example, the eyepiece end 118 and the objective end 114 can be formed in a central tubular body. The slot 170 can then be formed in a portion of the body. It is contemplated that any portion of the main body 110 can be formed at any suitable time. For example, the slot 170 can be formed before the eyepiece end 118 is shaped. Additionally, the different portions of the main body 110 of the scope 100 may be formed separately and fused or bonded together, for example, by welding or other processing techniques. Preferably, however, the main tube end product comprises a single unitary piece of material. As described above, however, in various preferred embodiments, the main tube does not require bonding but comprises a single unitary piece that is processed to form the end product having the objective and eyepiece portions 114, 118 together with the central tubular portion 130. Those skilled in the art will readily appreciate various processes can be employed to produce the main body 110.

The main body 110 preferably comprises a material that is suitable for housing optics and preferably has suitable corrosion resistant characteristics. For example, the main body 110 may comprise metal, plastic, composites, and/or the like. In various embodiments, the main body 110 comprises magnesium. In certain exemplary embodiments, the main body 110 comprises aluminum-magnesium-titanium alloy. The materials, however, should not be limited to those specifically recited herein as a variety of materials can be used alone or in combination to form the main body 110. The appropriate dimensions and the type of materials that form the main body 110 may be determined based on, e.g., the arrangement of the optical train 126 and the desired weight and structural properties of the main body 110.

As described above, the zoom selector ring 105 may be used as a control for controlling the optical train 126. In particular, the user can rotate the zoom selector ring 105 in certain preferred embodiments to adjust the size of the images viewed through the scope 100.

The zoom selector ring 105 may be multi-piece body configured to slidably engage the main body 110. In one embodiment, the zoom selector ring 105 is a segmented body that extends substantially around the unitary, uninterrupted main body 110. FIG. 3 shows an embodiment of the zoom selector ring 105 comprising a plurality of segments that mate with the outer surface 195 of the main body 110. The zoom selector ring 105 is depicted in an opened position in FIG. 3 with the segments spaced apart. Such a configuration may be advantageous in assembly of the scope 100. In various embodiments, for example, the inner diameter of the zoom selector ring 105 is smaller than both the outer diameter of the objective end 114 and the outer diameter of the eyepiece end 118. In such cases, separated segments of the zoom selector ring 105 may be combined to form the selector ring around the narrow central body portion 130. In other embodiments, however, the inner diameter of the zoom selector ring 105 is preferably smaller than the outer diameter of one of the objective end 114 and the eyepiece end 118.

In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 3, the selector ring 105 is located between the center of the main body 110 and the proximal end 145. In another embodiment, the selector ring 105 is spaced less than about ⅓ of the length of the tubular body 130 from the eyepiece end 118. Although the zoom selector ring 105 is preferably located along the proximal portion 164 of the tubular body, optionally, the selector ring 105 can be located along the middle body 166 or the distal portion 167 of the central body 130. In certain embodiments, the main body 110 can have an annular ridge or body that mates with an inner annular body or groove of the selector ring 105 to prevent longitudinal movement between the selector ring 105 and the main body 110.

In the illustrated embodiment of FIG. 3, the zoom selector ring 105 comprises a pair of curved segments 190 and 194 that can be closed, e.g., by joining the separate segments together. When the selector ring 105 is in the closed position, each of the segments 190, 194 is preferably arranged about the circumference of the tubular body 130. In one embodiment, the zoom selection ring 105 extends at least substantially about the circumference of the main body 110. FIG. 1 depicts the segments disposed circumferentially about the outer surface 195 of the tubular body 130.

As illustrated in FIGS. 5 and 6, the curved segments 190, 194 can have inner surfaces 196, 198 that preferably form a surface 242 which mates with the outer surface 195 of the main body 110. The surface 242 can have a generally tubular shape and can be concentric with the outer surface 195 of the main body 110 when the zoom selector ring 105 is in the closed position.

As shown in the cross-sectional view depicted in FIG. 5, each of the segments 190, 194 extends about a portion of the main body 110. The segments 190, 194 can be similarly or differently sized of the main body 110. For example, the segments 190, 194 can each extend about 180° around the tubular body 130 of the main body 110. Preferably, the segments 190, 194 are disposed about the main body 110 such that the two segments completely circumscribe the main body 110. In one embodiment, the zoom selector ring 105 can preferably comprise more than two segments. For example, the zoom selector ring 105 can comprise three segments that are fastened together. The three segments can each extend about 120° around the tubular body 130 and can be fastened or coupled together to form a zoom selector ring 105. The segments can be fastened together in a similar manner as the segments 190, 194, as discussed below. It is contemplated that any suitable number of segments can be used to form the zoom selector ring 105. The segments 190, 194 may be securely coupled together to limit, preferably prevent, relative movement between the segments 190, 194, thereby forming a generally annular zoom selector ring that preferably maintains it shape during operation.

FIGS. 6, 6A, and 6B show the selector ring 105 comprising coupling structures 210, 214 for coupling together the curved segments 190, 194. The segments 190, 194 can be slid together linking the segments together. As shown in FIG. 6B, the segments may be outfitted with a ridges 223 and 227 that interlock. As illustrated, for example, the coupling structure 210 has a slot 221 configured to receive a portion of the segment 194. In one embodiment, the slot 221 faces outwardly and is configured to receive at least a portion of the ridge 223 of the coupling structure 214. The coupling structure 214 has a slot 225 configured to receive a portion of the segment 190. In the illustrated embodiment, the slot 225 faces inwardly and is configured to receive at least a portion of the ridge 227 of the coupling structure 210. Preferably, the slots 221, 225 are toleranced to reduce or prevent substantial movement of the segments 190, 194 away from each other. Optionally, the slots 221, 255 can have ratchets, teeth, and/or other structures to prevent relative longitudinal movement between the segments 190, 194. For example, although not illustrated, a pin can be disposed through the segments 190, 194 to prevent relative longitudinal movement between the segments 190, 194. In one embodiment, a pin is disposed through the coupling structures 210, 214 and locks the segments 190, 194 together.

As shown in FIG. 6B, the zoom selector ring 105 can have a structure configured to control the optical train 126. In the illustrated embodiment, the selector ring 105 has a protuberance or member 240 that can pass through the slot 170 and couple the zoom selector ring to the optical train 126, e.g., via a structure supporting the optics. The protuberance 240 can extend inwardly from the inner surface 242 of the zoom selector ring 105. The protuberance 240, however, can be located at any suitable point along the selector ring 18. The protuberance 240 is preferably sized and configured to pass through the slot 170 such that the protuberance 240 can be slid along the slot 170 as the zoom selector ring 105 is rotated about the longitudinal axis 121 of the scope 100. The protuberance 240 and the slot 170 can therefore cooperate to define the amount of travel of the zoom selector ring 105. The protuberance 240 extends from the surface 198 of the segment 194 and passes through the slot 170 (see FIG. 5) in the central narrow portion 130 of the main body 110 and continues through the wall of the tubular body 130. In some embodiments, the protuberance 240 may be configured to engage a structure supporting a portion of the optical train 126 to drive movable portions of the optical train in the longitudinal direction, as described below.

FIG. 7 shows another embodiment of a zoom selector ring 105, wherein the selector ring 105 comprises first and second segments 190, 194 having coupling structures 210, 214, respectively, that are configured to cooperate to securely couple together the first and second segments 190 and 194. For example, the first segment 190 has a coupling structure 210 in the form of a plurality of openings or holes 211 a, 211 b on opposite sides of the segment 190. In the illustrated embodiment, the second segment 194 also has a coupling structure 214 in the form of a plurality of openings or holes 215 a, 215 b on opposite sides of the second segment 194.

As shown in FIGS. 7 and 7A, one of the coupling structures 210, 214 can be configured to receive one or more fastener 216. The fasteners 216 can temporarily or permanently couple together the segments 190, 194. In the illustrated embodiment, a plurality of fasteners 216 can cooperate with the coupling structures 210, 214 to hold together the segments 190, 194. The fastener 216 can be a screw configured to mate with internal threads of tapped holes (e.g., the hole 211 a). Accordingly, the fasteners 216 can thus be threadably coupled to the segments 190, 194 thereby preventing pull-out of the screws 216. The screws 216, however, can be removed with proper rotation. Alternatively, the fasteners 216 may comprise rivets or may include engagement structures that prevent pull-out of the fasteners. For example, the pins 216 can have surfaces or structures that prevent the pins from pulling out of their respective holes 211 a, 215 a, 211 b, 215 b in the selector ring 105. Also, although FIGS. 7 and 7A show four fasteners 216 coupling together the segments 190, 194. The number and type of such coupling structures 210, 214 and fasteners 215 can vary. In certain embodiments, for example, two fasteners 216 can couple together the segments 190, 194.

A seal 200 (see FIG. 5) may optionally be formed between the zoom selector ring 105 and the tubular body 130. In one embodiment, at least a portion of inner surfaces 196, 198 of the segments 190, 194, respectively, can interact with the outer surface 195 of the tubular body 130 to form the seal 200. The integrity of the seal 200 is preferably maintained as the zoom selector ring 105 slidably engages the tubular body 130 so that foreign matter is prevented from entering the scope 100 by, e.g., passing through the slot 170. Thus, the zoom selector ring 105 can be rotated about the main body 110 while the optics remains contaminate free. In one embodiment, a substantial portion of the surface 242 of the zoom selector ring 105 engages the outer surface 195 of the scope 100 to form the seal 200. Optionally, a slip ring or other body can be disposed between the tubular body 130 and the selector ring 105 to reduce friction.

In the illustrated embodiment, the zoom selector ring 105 has a generally uniform cross-sectional profile along its longitudinal axis. However, the zoom selector ring 105 can have a cross-sectional profile that varies along its longitudinal axis. The zoom selector ring 105, for example, may be ergonomically designed and have a dimple that comfortably fits the fingers of the user.

Additionally, the zoom selector ring 105 can optionally have an outer surface 204 (FIG. 3) configured to be engaged by a user to easily rotate the ring 105 about the longitudinal axis 121 of the scope 100. The zoom selector ring 105 can comprise an outer surface 204 adapted to provide friction between the user's fingers and the zoom selector ring 105. For example, the outer surface 204 may comprises knurling substantially about the entire outer surface 140 of the zoom selector ring 105. Serrations, roughened surfaces, and other finishing may be provided. The outer surface 204 can have any suitable texture or structures for providing a gripping surface. Alternatively, the zoom selector ring 105 can have other designs yielding the desired interaction between the user and the ring 105. Optionally, for example, the outer surface 140 can be generally smooth as illustrated in FIG. 7.

Rotational movement of the zoom selector ring 105 causes movement of the one or more lenses in the optical train 126 to provide the desired zoom. In particular, rotation of the zoom selector ring 105 may cause the optics in the optics train 126 to be longitudinally displaced with respect to each other. A mechanism for shifting the optical elements in the optics train 126 is discussed more fully below. Additionally, the positioning system 120 can be employed to laterally displace one or more optical elements in the optics train 126 and adjust the windage and/or elevation. Such approach is also discussed below.

As shown in FIG. 8, the tubular body 130 preferably defines a hollow channel 131 that is configured to receive a portion of the optical train 126. As described above, the optical train 126 preferably comprises a plurality of lenses including, e.g., the objective lens 180 and the ocular 152, that are arranged to provide an image of the target. In the various embodiments, the optical train 126 further comprises an erector assembly 322 disposed between the ocular 152 and the objective 180. The erector assembly 322 may include a plurality of lenses that inverts the image to ensure that the viewer observes erect, properly oriented, images through the scope 100. The erector assembly 322 comprises an erector housing 340 that contains a plurality of erector lens elements 344, 346, 348 that are spaced along the erector housing.

As illustrated in FIG. 8, the positioning system 120 can be used to tilt and shift a portion of the optical train 126 such as the erector assembly 322. The positioning system 120 comprises the windage dial 300 (not shown) and screw (not shown) and the elevational dial 304 and screw 306. The screw for the windage dial 300 and the screw 306 for the elevational dial 304 can pass through the outer surface 195 of the tubular body 130 through the opening 174. The screw 306 can be advanced in and out of the tubular body 130 by rotating the elevational dial 304. For example, the elevational dial 304 can be rotated to cause vertical movement of the screw 306 which, in turn, causes vertical movement of the distal end of a erector assembly 322 or the zoom mechanism. The windage dial 300 can be rotated in a similar manner to laterally displace the distal end of the erector assembly 322. Thus, the windage dial 300 and the elevational dial 304 can be used to shift and/or tilt the erector assembly 322 to the desired position and orientation.

Additionally, the optics in the erector assembly 322 may be altered by manually operating the zoom selector ring 105 thereby causing the image to appear closer or farther. Preferably, at least a portion of the erector assembly 322 is axially movable relative to another portion of the optical train 126 to provide telescopic zoom capability of the scope 100. For example, the erector assembly housing 340 can be configured to engage at least a portion of the zoom selector ring 105 so that manual or automatic rotation of the zoom sector ring about a longitudinal axis 121 through the scope 100 causes movement or one of more erector lens elements 344, 346, 348 in the longitudinal direction.

FIG. 9 shows the housing 340 of the erector assembly 322 comprising an outer tubular body 350 having a cam 352 and an inner tube 354 having a slot 355. The inner tube 354 fits within the outer tubular body 350. As shown in FIGS. 9 and 10, the erector assembly 322 can include moveable carriages 353, 359 that can fit inside the inner tube 354 but engage the outer tubular body 350. These carriages 353, 359, one of which is schematically illustrated in FIG. 11, hold optics of the optical train 126. For example, the proximal carriage 353 supports and carries the rearward lens elements 346, 348 and the distal carriage 359 supports and carries the forward lens element 344. The carriages 353, 359 can be moved with respect to the inner tube 354, outer tube 350, and main tube 110 by rotating the selector ring 105; see FIG. 9.

As shown in FIGS. 9 and 12, a cam 352 and a notch 356 can be defined in the outer tube 350. The cam 352 may be a spiral-like opening defined by the outer tube 350 and is configured to receive and slidably engage the protrusions of the carriage (see FIG. 9). Other shapes are also possible. Optionally, a plurality of cams 352 may used. In the illustrated embodiment, the outer tube 350 includes first and second cams 362, 364. Each of the cams 362, 364 can be configured to slidably engage a protrusions 363, 369 on the rearward and forward carriages 353, 359, respectively. It is contemplated that the length and curvature of the cams 362, 364 can be varied to achieve the desired amount of longitudinal travel of the carriages 353, 359 for a certain amount of rotation of the zoom selector ring 105. For example, the scope 100 can provide 3× magnification when the carriages 353, 359 travel the entire length of their respectively cams 362, 364. In another embodiment, the scope can provide 5× magnifications when the carriages 353, 359 travel the entire length of their respective cams 362, 364. Moreover, cams 362, 364 may cause the first carriage 353 to move with respect to the second carriage 359 (or vice versus) and with respect to the objective and eyepiece. Alternatively, the first and second carriage 353, 359 can move a same amount with respect to the objective and eyepiece. Other configurations are possible. For example more or less number of carriages may be used and only some of the lens elements 344, 346, 348 may be moved in certain embodiments.

With continued reference to FIG. 9 and FIG. 12, the notch 356 is preferably configured to receive a portion of the member 240 of the selection ring 105. In one embodiment, the notch 356 is a U-shaped notch sized to receive the member 240 shown in FIGS. 5 and 6B. As the selector ring 105 is rotated, the member 240 is disposed within the notch 356 to cause rotation of outer tube 350 about the longitudinal axis 121 of the scope 100. As the outer tubular body 350 rotates about the longitudinal axis 121 relative to the inner tube 354, the carriages 353, 359 can move relative to each other, to the objective or to the eyepiece or any combination thereof as the protrusions 363, 369 on the respective carriages proceed along cams 362, 364.

As shown in FIG. 12 the outer tube 350 has an inner surface 361. Similarly, the inner tube 354 has an outer surface 358 as shown in FIG. 10. Preferably, the inner surface 361 of the outer tubular body 350 moves with respect to the outer surface 358 of the inner tube 354 as the outer tube 350 is rotated and the carriage 353, 359 are displaced. In various preferred embodiments, the inner tube 354 is fixed, for example, to the main tube 110 to prevent rotation of the inner tube when the zoom selector ring 105 and outer tube 354 are rotated. Preferably, the outer surface 358 of the inner tube 354 is in substantial contact with the inner surface 361 of the outer tube 350 so as to provide sealing therebetween. Such a seal may counter formation of contaminant between the inner tube 354 and the outer tube 350 and on the optics therein.

In various preferred embodiments, the inner tube 354 provides a guide for the carriages 353, 359 as the outer tube 350 is rotated. FIGS. 9 and 10 illustrate the connection between the inner tube 354 and the carriages 353, 359. In the illustrated embodiment, the inner tube 354 has an elongated slot 355 configured to receive protrusions 363, 369 of the carriages 353, 359. The slot 355 extends proximally from the distal end of the inner tube 354. As described above, the inner tube 354 can be coupled to the main body 110 (e.g., through lip 375) to prevent or inhibit relative rotation between of the inner tube 354 and the main body 110. Connection between the inner tube 354 and the main body 110 therefore preferably ensures that the inner tube 354 does not rotate relative to the main body 110 such that the carriages 353, 359 can be guided in a longitudinal direction with the rotation applied by the outer tube 350. Accordingly, the erector optics will be axially translated to provide zoom capability.

In operation, the scope 100 can be mounted to a firearm. The firearm can have a mounting structure for receiving and holding the scope 100. A user can hold and position the firearm so that the scope 100 is located in a desired position. The optical train 126 of the scope 100 may include a reticle (e.g., cross-hair reticle 113 shown in FIG. 2) that indicate the expected impact location of a projectile (e.g., a bullet, arrow, pellet, BB, paintball, or the like) fired from the firearm.

The user can operate the positioning system 120 to accommodate for windage and/or elevation. For example, if there is a cross wind, the windage may cause the projectile fired from to firearm to miss the desired target that is viewed through the scope 100. To ensure that the projectile impacts the desired target, the user can rotate the windage dial 300 which, in turn, rotates its corresponding screw that laterally shifts the optical train 126 to accommodate for the windage. In the illustrated embodiment, the windage dial 300 is used to position the distal end of the erector assembly 322. Once the erector assembly 322 is located in the proper position, the user can position the cross-hair reticle 113 of the scope 100 on the target and ignore the windage, which is already taken into account. To accommodate for elevation, the user can rotate the elevational dial 304, which causes rotation and vertical movement of the screw 306 (shown in FIGS. 2 and 8). The screw 306 can be moved until the erector assembly 322 is tilted to the proper location. Once the erector assembly 322 is in the desired position, the user can position the cross hairs of the scope 100 on the target and disregard the elevation.

The user can operate the zoom selector ring 105 to obtain the desired zoom. In the illustrated embodiment, the user can rotate the zoom selector ring 105 to position one or more of the optical elements (e.g., one or more of the erector lenses 344, 346, 348) of the optical train 126 to adjust the amount of magnification of the scope 100. To move the zoom selector ring 105, the user can grip and twist the zoom selector ring 105 about the longitudinal axis 121 of the scope 100. To provide discrete amounts of longitudinal magnification, the zoom selector ring 105 may have a plurality of predetermined locations that correspond to a certain zoom/magnification settings. The zoom selector ring 105 may be biased to several angular positions. However, in some embodiments the zoom selector ring 105 may provide a continuous range of levels of zoom. It is contemplated that the zoom selector ring 105 can be operated before, during, and/or after operation of the positioning system 120.

In one embodiment, when the zoom selector ring 105 is rotated in the counter-clockwise direction about the longitudinal axis 121 from the perspective of the user, the outer tube 350 likewise rotates in the counter-clockwise direction and the carriages 353, 359 moves towards each other. When the zoom selector ring 105 is moved in the clockwise direction about the longitudinal axis 121 from the perspective of the user, the outer tube 350 likewise rotates in the clockwise direction and moves the carriages 353, 359 away from each other. The user can therefore rotate the zoom selector ring 105 to move the erector assembly 322 to obtain a desired amount of magnification. Other designs are possible.

As described above, in various preferred embodiments, the scope can be assembled by forming the continuous, uninterrupted unitary tubular main body 110. In the illustrated embodiment, the unitary main body 110 includes the objective end 114 and the eyepiece end 118 that have a cross-sectional area that is greater than the cross-sectional area of a substantial portion of the narrow tubular body 130 of main body 110.

The zoom selector ring 105 can be separated or split apart into a plurality of components, and the components can be assembled together to form the zoom selector ring 105. In one embodiment, the zoom selector ring 105 can be positioned in the open position, as shown in FIG. 3, such that the segments 190, 194 can be located about the main body 110. The segments 190, 194 can be moved together in a direction of the arrows 370, 372. If the selector ring 105 has a protrusion 240, the protrusion 240 is preferably inserted into the slot 170 in the outer tube 350 in order to have the protrusion 240 fit within the notch 356 of the erector assembly 322.

Once the selector ring 105 is in the closed position such that the segments 190, 194 are located about the main body 110 (FIG. 1), the segments 190, 194 are coupled together. In the embodiment of FIGS. 6-6B, the segments 190, 194 can slidably engage each other. As shown in FIG. 6A, the segments 194, 190 can then be moved relative to each other until the segments reach the position shown in FIG. 6.

With respect to the illustrated embodiment of FIGS. 7 and 7A, the segments 190, 194 can be spaced apart in the open position. The segments 190, 194 can be moved together and orientated such that the holes 211 a, 211 b are aligned with the holes 215 a, 215 b, respectively. Then the fasteners 216 can be inserted through the holes (e.g., hole 211 a and hole 215 a) thereby fastening segment 190 to the segment 194. Preferably, there is no movement between the segments 190, 194 when they are in this closed position.

As depicted in FIG. 9 and discussed above, the zoom selection ring 105 is preferably connected to the erector assembly 322 so as to engage the optical train 126. In the illustrated embodiment, the zoom selector ring 105 is oriented so that the protuberance 240 mates with the notch 256. Likewise, movement of the protuberance 240 and the outer tube 350 causes rotation of the outer tube 350 of the erector assembly 322 and displacement of components of the optical train 126 along the main body 110. In various embodiments, the carriages 353, 359 move the lenses of the erector in response to rotational movement of the zoom selector ring 105.

FIG. 13 illustrates one embodiment of a zoom selector ring 105 for a zoom assembly wherein the scope 100 has a single continuous main tubular body 110 without a slot 170 (see FIG. 4 for comparison). The zoom selector ring 105 is disposed on the uninterrupted tubular body 130 and is used to adjust the optics in the tubular body. The zoom selector ring 105 can be used to move one or more lenses of the scope 100 even though the wall of the main body 110 is interposed between the ring 105 and the optical train 126 and the ring 105 does not directly contact the erector assembly 322. The continuous, unitary cylindrical main body 110 therefore can substantially completely prevent any foreign matter from entering into the interior of the scope 100.

In one embodiment, the scope 100 includes exterior and interior magnetic elements for magnetically coupling the zoom selector ring 105 to the optics of the optical train 126. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 13, the zoom selection ring 105 preferably comprises an exterior magnet 402 outside the main body 110 that interacts with a corresponding interior magnet 406 inside the main body. Preferably the interior magnet 406 is magnetically coupled to the exterior magnet 402 such that movement of the exterior magnet induces corresponding movement of the interior magnet. In various preferred embodiments, the interior magnet 406 is attached to the erector assembly 322 such that movement of the interior magnet 406 will cause movement of the erector assembly.

The outer tube 350 can have a cut-out that holds the interior magnet 406. In certain embodiments, one of the segments 190, 194 of the selector ring 105 also has a recess 408 configured, e.g., shaped and sized, to hold the exterior magnet 402. The exterior magnet 402 can have an inner surface 410 that can cooperate with the segment 190 to form a surface 412 to engage the outer surface 195 of the main body 110.

The pair of magnets 402, 406 can couple the movement of the outer tube 350 and the selector ring 105 because the magnets 402, 406 generate a magnetic field that causes the magnets 402, 406 to be attracted towards each other. Thus, when the selector ring 105 is rotated, the outer tube 350 and selector ring 105 rotate substantially in unison. When the outer tube 354 rotates, the optics of the optical train 126 moves in the manner described above. The number, position, and type of the magnets associated with the zoom selector ring 105 and the erector assembly 322 may vary. For example, each of the selector ring 105 and the erector assembly 322 can have diametrically opposed magnets. The diametrically spaced pairs of magnets are preferably arranged to ensure that the selector ring 105 and the inner tube 354 move together. Optionally, the spacing between the magnets 402, 406 can vary to achieve the desired interaction between the magnets. For example, the thickness of the main body 110 between the selector ring 105 and the erector assembly 322 can be reduced to increase the force between the magnets 402, 406. In other embodiments, for example, where zoom is effectuated by translation of optics other than the erector optics, different configurations may be used.

Regardless of the type of connection between the zoom selector ring 105 and the optics train 126, the main body 110 preferably curtails the amount of foreign matter such as moisture, dust, dirt, and other contaminants that reaches the optics. Dirt and contamination on the optics may reduce the resolution and clarity of the images. Foreign matter may also cause malfunction of the moving parts in the scope. Contamination may hasten deterioration and may also interfere with the precise alignment of the aiming device.

Another advantageous feature that may be incorporated in the scope design is illustrated in FIG. 14, which shows a scope 500 that has a flexible erector assembly 522 that cooperates with the positioning system 120 to laterally align the optical train 126. This flexible erector assembly 522 flexes in response to adjustments to the windage and elevation actuators 300, 304.

As shown in FIG. 14, the flexible erector assembly 522 comprises an erector housing 525 that contains the optical train 126 that inverts images to ensure that the viewer observes erect, properly oriented images through the scope 500. In the embodiment depicted in FIG. 14, this erector housing 525 comprises a flexible erector tube 540. In various preferred embodiments, the erector tube 540 houses one or more optical lenses, such as the lens elements 344, 346, 348.

Although not illustrated, the scope 500 may include other components such as for example a zoom assembly similar to the zoom assembly 103 described above. The erector tube 540 may for example have slots or cams (see the outer tube 340 illustrated in FIG. 9) that convert rotation movement of a zoom selection ring into longitudinal translation of optics in the optical train 126. The one or more cams may be configured to receive and engage one or more carriages similar to the carriages 353, 359 described above. An inner tube like the inner tube 354 discussed above in connection with FIG. 9 may be included to guide the movement of the carriage or carriages. Alternatively, the scope 500 can have other types of zoom arrangements or may have no zoom capability.

As illustrated in FIG. 14, the flexible erector tube 540 is disposed in the hollow interior region or channel 131 within the main body 110 of the scope 500. The flexible erector tube 540 extends from the positioning system 120 to a location proximal to the ocular lens 152. The central tubular body 130 of the main body 110 has interior sidewall surfaces 111 defining the hollow interior region 131. Similarly, the erector tube 540 has exterior sidewall surfaces 541. The exterior sidewall surfaces 541 of the erector tube 540 move with respect to the interior sidewall surfaces 111 of the main body 110, for example, as the flexible erector tube 540 is laterally displaced as discussed more fully below.

As illustrated in FIG. 15, the flexible erector tube 540 comprises an elongate portion 542 connected to a flexible portion 544. In the embodiment shown, the elongate portion 542 comprises a generally rigid cylindrical tube configured to fit within the main body 110 of the scope 500 and that is engaged by the positioning system 120. A distal end 546 of the elongate portion 542 is positioned along the main body 110 such that the screws of the positioning system 120 can contact the distal end 546. As illustrated in FIGS. 15 and 16, the elongate portion 542 has a proximal end 560 that is coupled to the flexible portion 544 of the tube. Other designs are possible. For example, the elongate portion 542 may be shaped differently and may be at least partially flexible in some embodiments. One of ordinary skill in the art may also determine the appropriate combination of material type, thickness, and length of the elongate portion 542 to achieve the desired structural properties resulting in controlled alignment of the optical train 126 during operation of the scope 500.

The flexible portion 544 provides localized flexure such that the erector tube 540 operates like a cantilevered spring. In various preferred embodiments, the flexible portion 544 has sidewalls that are generally less rigid than the elongate portion 542, thereby permitting more flexure of the flexible portion 544 than the elongate portion 542. In the illustrated embodiment, the flexible portion 544 includes a mounting flange 566 as well as first and second cut-outs 568, 570. The mounting flange 566 is at the proximal end of the flexible portion 544. A cylindrical body 572 of the flexible portion 544 extends distally from the mounting flange 566 and defines the spaced apart cut-outs 568, 570. The cut-outs 568, 570 reduce the rigidity of the flexible portion 544 to permit flexure induced by adjustment of the elevational dial 304 and/or the windage dial 300.

The pair of cut-outs 568, 570 may permit flexure of the flexible portion 544 in one or more directions. In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 15 and 16, the first cut-out 568 defines a first pair of connecting portions 582 while the second cut-out 570 defines a second pair of connecting portions 584. An annular member 571 is interposed between the cut-outs 568, 570 and is connected to the connecting portions 582, 584. The first and second connecting portions 582, 584 are adapted to permit flexure of the flexible portion 544 when the user adjusts the positioning system 120 thereby applying one or more forces to the erector tube 540. The cut-outs 568, 570 and connecting portions 582, 584 can cooperate to permit movement of the flexible portion 544 in generally orthogonal directions. The positioning system 120, however, can shift the erector tube 540 in any desired direction. The first and second connecting portions 582, 584 can be angularly spaced from each other about a central longitudinal axis 575 through the erector tube 540. The number of connecting portions 582, 584 need not be limited to two. The material and thickness of the flexible portion 544 as well as the length and the width of the connecting portions 582, 584 can be selected to achieve the desired structural properties of the flexible portion 544. For example, the width of the connecting portions 582 can be increased or decreased in size to increase or decrease, respectively, the rigidity of the flexible portion 544. In one embodiment, for example, the flexible portion has a width of about 5 millimeters for a flexible portion 544 having a tube diameter of about 18 millimeters, however, the dimensions should not be so limited and may be smaller or larger. Other designs are also possible.

The flexible portion 544 is secured to the main body 110 with the mounting flange 566. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 14, for example, the mounting flange 566 is secured to the main body 110 while at least part of the elongate portion 542, preferably a section or sections of the elongate portion 542 holding one or more lens elements, is permitted to move in response to a force applied by the windage or elevation actuators 300, 304. Accordingly, the mounting flange 566 and the elongate portion 542 are referred to herein as fixed and movable portions, respectively.

The mounting flange 566 is configured to cooperate with the main body 110 of the scope 500. For example, the interior surface 111 of the main body 110 may include a recess or channel that is configured to receive at least a portion of the mounting flange 566. The mounting flange 566 can remain securely affixed to the main body 110 so that generally the mounting flange 566 does not move relative to the main body 110 during operation of the positioning system 120. It is contemplated that a wide variety of arrangements can be employed to couple the erector tube 540 and the main body 110. Pins, ridges, threads, mechanical fasteners (e.g., nut and bolt assemblies), as well as other arrangements can be used to secure the erector tube 540 to the main body 110.

One-piece construction of the elongate tube 540 wherein the elongate portion 542 is integrally formed with the flexible portion 544 may offer advantages such as durability and reduced wear. The erector tube 540 may for example comprise a continuous, unitary generally tubular body that includes the elongate and flexible portions 542, 544. In such embodiments, the elongate portion 542 and/or the flexible portion 544 of the erector tube 540 may be formed by machining, including but not limited to, laser cutting or machining techniques. Alternatively, casting or molding may be employed. Other methods of fabrication may also be used. In other embodiments, for example, the elongate portion 542 and the flexible portion 544 may be bonded, welded, or fused together.

The erector tube 540 may also comprise two or more pieces corresponding to the elongate portion 542 and the flexible portion 544 that are mechanically joined together to form the erector tube 540. In certain embodiments, for example, the proximal end 560 of the elongate portion 542 can be received within the distal end of the flexible portion 544 and affixed therein. Alternatively the flexible portion can be received into the elongate portion. Any suitable method can be used to secure the elongate portion 542 to the flexible portion 544. For example, the elongate portion 542 can be press fit, threadably coupled, or otherwise affixed to the flexible portion 544. Connectors may be employed in certain embodiments. Other methods of forming the erector tube 540 are possible as well.

The erector tube 540 may be biased toward the actuators 300, 304 (e.g., the windage and elevation screws) of the positioning system 120. The distal end 546 of the elongate portion 542 of the erector tube 540 can be laterally or radially offset or skewed with respect to the central longitudinal axis 575 of the main body 10. The distal end 546 may be off-center within the main tube 10 and may be displaced toward the windage and elevation dials 300, 304 and away from a portion of the sidewalls 111 of the main tube 110 opposite the windage and elevation screws. In some embodiments, the erector tube 540 may be bent, tilted, or shaped such that the distal end 546 of the elongate portion 542 is displaced laterally within main tube 110. This distal end 546 is preferably laterally displaced towards the positioning system 120 in comparison with the proximal end 560 of the elongate portion 542 of the erector tube 540.

The flexible portion 544 of the erector tube 540 can have a variety of configurations that provide the appropriate flexibility without appreciable plastic deformation during operation. As illustrated in FIGS. 15 and 16, the flexible portion 544 includes the first cut-out 568 that defines the first connecting portions 582 while the second cut-out 570 defines the second connecting portions 584. In some embodiments, the flexible portion 544 is configured to primarily flex at the connecting portions 582, 584. In other embodiments, the flexible portion 544 is configured to flex in regions primarily adjacent to the connecting portions 582, 584. These connecting portions 582, 584 can be two biasing members having local pivot points and cooperate to provide localized flexure (preferably elastic deformation) for laterally aligning the erector tube 540. The illustrated flexible portion 544 flexes or bends the most along the connecting portions 582, 584. These connecting portions 582, 584 are thus subjected to the highest stresses when the erector tube 540 is moved. In different designs where the connecting portions 582, 584 are wider or thicker, the flexible portion 544 flexes or bends the most at regions adjacent the connecting portions 582, 584. These regions adjacent the connecting portions 582, 584 are thus subjected to the highest stresses when the erector tube 540 is moved. Increasing the number of connecting portions may reduce the force on each of the respective connecting portions or regions adjacent thereto when the erector tube 540 is displaced. The stress of each connecting portion or region adjacent thereto can thereby be decreased, thus reducing the possibility of plastic deformation of the flexible portion 544. The length, cross-section, and configuration of each connecting portion can be selected to reduce, minimize, or prevent permanent deformation of the flexible portion 544.

When the erector tube 540 is initially installed in the scope 500, the erector tube 540 may be placed in the central tubular body 130 at an installation bias angle. The installation bias angle can be defined between the longitudinal axis of the erector tube 540 (as measured, for example, at the distal end of the erector tube) and the longitudinal axis 575 of the scope 500, if the central tubular body 130 does not restrain the erector tube 540. In other words, the erector tube 540 is preloaded such that it applies a pressure to the wall of the main tube 110. In a variety of embodiments, the bias angle is less than 20°, 15°, 10° or 5°. In some embodiments, the installation bias angle is 4°. In other embodiments, the installation bias angle is 2°. In yet other embodiments, the installation bias angle is 1°. In certain embodiments, the installation bias angle can be at or less than about 1°, 2°, 3°, 4°, 5°, and ranges encompassing such angles. However, the erector tube 540 can also be installed at other installation bias angles.

Once the erector tube 540 is installed within the scope 500, the erector tube 540 may be accurately positioned within the central tubular body 130 by applying one or more forces on the distal end 546 by utilizing at least one of the windage and elevation dials 300, 304. When these dials 300, 304 are used to apply a force to the erector tube 540, the flexible portion 544 flexes as the erector tube 540 moves within the scope 500. As the dials 300, 304 are turned to compensate for windage and elevation, the flexible portion 544 flexes as the erector tube 540 is transversely displaced. The erector tube 540 and the flexible portion 544 can be designed such that flexible portion 544 experiences more flexure than the erector tube 540. The laterally displaced erector tube 540 can continuously apply a biasing force to the positioning system 120.

FIG. 17 shows another embodiment of the flexible portion 544. In this embodiment, the flexible portion 544 comprises connecting portions 582, 584 in the form of bellows 580. As illustrated, the flexible portion 544 has pairs of bellows 580 spaced angularly about the longitudinal axis of the flexible portion 544 from each other. The bellows 580 preferably provides one or more local flex points. The bellows 580 can include a plurality of elongated members connected to each other. The junctions between the elongated members can define local flex points. The bellows 580 can flex and bend at the junctions and along the elongated members, but preferably flex the most at the junctions. Thus, when a force from the positioning system 120 is applied to the erector tube 540, the bellows 580 flex or bend accordingly. The bellows 580 thus permit pivoting of the erector tube 540.

In the illustrated embodiment, the bellows 580 each comprise three local flex points 590, 592, and 594. Each of the local flex points 590, 592, 594 can provide localized flexure. Each of the bellows 580 of FIG. 17 is somewhat “V” shaped. Because the V-shaped bellows 580 have several local flex points, the bellows 580 can be comprised of a material having a lower yield strength as compared to the connecting portions 582, 584 of FIG. 16. The illustrated flexible portion 544 has a pair of bellows 580, but any number of bellows can be employed as desired.

FIG. 18 illustrates another embodiment of a flexible portion. The flexible portion 544 includes bellows 600 that have a somewhat “W” shape. The w-shaped bellows 600 has more local flex points than the bellows 580 shown in FIG. 17.

The flexible portion 544 may thus be arranged with one or more connecting portions wherein the connecting portions may form a variety of shapes. The flexible portion 544 may also be somewhat shaped like the letter “N” when viewed from the side. Another embodiment may have a connecting portion roughly shaped like the letter “W.” In yet other embodiments, the connecting portion can be generally shaped like the letter “U” or “S.” There are many other designs and shapes that may be used to provide an adequate number of biasing members.

The reticle 344 can be positioned near the pivot point of the erector tube 540. The mechanical characteristics (e.g., the local pivot points) may determine the location of the pivot point of the erector tube 540. Locating the reticle 344 near or at the pivot point can reduce or substantially eliminate angular error in sighting through the scope that may otherwise be introduced if the reticle 344 is placed at a point in the erector tube 540 that is not near or at the pivot point. For example, placing the reticle 0.5 inches from a pivot point will result in a 15.7 arc second error when the erector tube 544 is flexed 0.5°. The distance between the reticle 344 and the pivot point of the flexible portion 544 can be reduced to lower the angular error. Certain embodiments may require less angular error and, thus, require that the reticle 344 be placed near or at the pivot point. Other embodiments, however, may allow more error and thus may allow the reticle 344 to be placed further from the pivot point. The reticle 344 of FIG. 18 is positioned generally at the pivot point of the bellows 600. In such embodiments, the reticle 344 is generally centered with the pivot point of the bellows 600 so that the cross-hairs of the reticle coincide with the pivot point. If the reticle is offset longitudinally from the pivot point, there may be some error as the erector tube 540 is actuated as discussed above. Thus, it can be advantageous to have the reticle 344 at or near the pivot point of one or more of the connecting members or bellows. In some embodiments, the cross-hairs of the reticle 344 generally coincide with the flex point of each connecting portion.

In various embodiments, the elongate portion 542 of the erector tube 540 may comprise metals (e.g., magnesium, aluminum, steel, aluminum-magnesium-titanium alloy, copper, combinations thereof, etc.), plastics, composite materials, or the like. The elongate portion 542 may also be made of one or more materials. For example, the elongate portion 542 can be bimetallic. In order to decrease deformation of the elongate portion 542 as the windage and elevation dials 300, 304 displace the tube 540, the flexible portion 544 can be made of a material that permits greater flexure of the flexible portion 544 as compared to the elongate portion 542. In such an embodiment, the flexible portion 544 will flex to accommodate the applied force from the dials 300, 304 rather than the elongate portion 542 which houses the erector optics. The design of the flexible portion 544 and the number of biasing members can depend on material properties (e.g., elasticity of the material, the yield strength, axial strength, toughness) and/or the installation angle. For example, the flexible portion 544 can be constructed of spring steel (or high carbon steel), bronze, phosphor bronze, beryllium copper, brass, combinations thereof, and the like. In one embodiment, the elongate portion 542 comprises aluminum and the flexible portion 544 comprises copper beryllium. In another embodiment, the elongate portion 542 comprises aluminum and the flexible portion 544 comprises spring steel (e.g., comprising about 1% manganese). Other combinations, configurations, and designs are possible.

With reference to FIG. 19, a portion of the erector tube 540 is biased towards the positioning screws of the positioning system 120. The flexible erector tube 540 is biased so as to apply a pressure against these screws. Accordingly, when the screws of the positioning system do not engage the erector tube 540, the distal end 546 of the erector tube 540 is in a position in the main body 110 offset towards the actuators 300, 304 and away from the portions of the main tube opposite the windage and elevation controls. The distal end 546, however, can be moved from this position to a desired location within the interior 131 of the main body 110 by applying a force against the elongate portion 542 of the erector tube 540 with the windage and elevation screws.

In some embodiments, springs disposed between the erector tube 540 and the main tube 110 are used to bias erectors toward screws of a windage/elevation system 120. These springs, however, limit the movement of the erector tube 540 because the springs occupy space within the inner region 131 of the main body 110 of the scope 500. The range of motion of the windage and elevation dials 300, 304 is thus limited by the presence of these springs, which can only be compressed to a finite extent.

In contrast, in the scope 500 illustrated in FIGS. 14-19, the erector tube 540 is biased towards the windage and elevation controls 300, 304 without the use of springs between the erector tube and the portions of the main tube 110 opposite the windage and elevation dials. Springs or other biasing elements are excluded from this region at the distal end 546 of the elongate portion 542 of the erector tube 540 between the exterior sidewalls 541 of the erector tube and the interior sidewalls 111 of the main tube 110.

The distance that the erector tube 540 can be displaced by the positioning system 120 toward the portions of the main tube 110 opposite the windage and elevation controls 300, 304 is increased by the absence of such springs. Similarly, the range of windage and elevation adjustment can thereby be increased. The distal end 546 of the erector tube 540 may, for example, be movable throughout substantially the entire portion of the interior region 131 between the exterior sidewall surfaces 541 of the erector tube 540 and the interior sidewall surfaces 111 of the main tube 110.

Biasing the erector tube without the use of springs or other complicated devices or structures also provides less variation in loading force against the windage and elevation adjustments, which may yield improved user adjustment feel. Jumping and sticking can also be reduced. Additionally, in some embodiments, for example, the force applied to the positioning system 120 is less than the force applied by the windage and elevation screws in spring-type systems so that the wear between the erector tube 540 and the positioning system 120 and fatigue of the positioning system 120 is reduced. Less overall force improves the operational adjustment torque for operating the adjustments, reduces wear on the adjustments, and reduces production costs.

In certain embodiments, however, springs, mechanical actuators, biasing mechanisms, or other suitable devices can bias the erector tube 540 towards the windage and elevation dials 300, 304. Such springs may be used in scopes 500 with or without flexible erector housings 525. In one embodiment, for example, a spring can be interposed between the distal end 546 of the elongate portion 542 of the erector tube 540 and the main body 110 to further enhance the bias of the erector tube. In various embodiments of the scope 500, however, the erector tube 540 is flexible and the region between the distal end 546 of the erector tube and the main tube 110 is devoid of springs that apply forces toward the windage and elevation screws.

When utilizing such a scope 500, the user can adjust the positioning system 120 to move the erector tube 540 to a desired position. The user can rotate the windage dial 300 which, in turn rotates the corresponding windage screw and laterally shifts the distal end 546 of the erector tube 540. As described above, the flexible portion 544 biases the erector tube 540 against the screw of the dial 300 as the screw actuates the erector tube 540. In the state of the positioning system 120 illustrated in FIG. 19, the screw of the windage dial 300 forces the distal end 546 towards the opposite side of the main body 110. The connecting portions 582 flex and the distal end 546 is moved horizontally.

Similarly, the user can rotate the elevational dial 304 which, in turn rotates the corresponding elevation screw and vertically shifts the distal end 546 of the erector tube 540. As described above, the flexible portion 544 biases the erector tube 540 against the screw of the dial 304 as the screw actuates the erector tube 540. In the state of the positioning system 120 illustrated in FIG. 19, the screw of the elevation dial 304 forces the distal end 546 towards the opposite lower wall of the main body 110. The connecting portions 584 can flex as the distal end 546 is moved vertically.

Thus, as the screws of the dials 300, 304 are advanced through the main body 110, the screws can press upon the distal end 546 of the erector tube 540 to cause flexure of the flexible portion 544 of the erector tube 540. The optical train 126 is thereby moved to account for windage and/or elevation. Other methods of laterally translating the erector tube 540 and adjusting the optics train 126 are possible.

As described above, the erector tube 540 is preferably biased without the use of springs or other biasing elements between the exterior sidewall surfaces 541 of the erector tube 540 and the interior sidewall surfaces 111 of the main tube 110. The erector tube 540 can thus have an increased range of movement. This design may offer additional benefits as well. Other designs are also possible.

As described above, certain embodiments of the scope also include a zoom adjustment assembly which provides a variable magnification or zoom capability to the scope. The zoom assembly can comprise one or more lenses arranged within the interior of the main body tube 110 which are axially movable along the scope's major axis 121 such that a user may adjust the power or zoom setting of the scope to a desired setting for their intended use. It will be understood however that the zoom adjustment assembly is not a required aspect and that certain embodiments of the scope may lack a zoom adjustment assembly and thus offer a fixed magnification or power.

FIG. 20 illustrates a modified scope 600 that also comprises a side-mounted focus assembly 624. The scope 600 of FIG. 20 is generally similar to the scopes described above, except as detailed below. The side-mounted focus assembly 624 is displaced laterally of or to the side of the main body tube 110 and in certain embodiments is further arranged generally in the central tube region or intermediate the objective region 114 and eyepiece 118. Thus, in certain embodiments, the side-mounted focus assembly 624 is asymmetrically positioned or offset, e.g., to the left or right side, with respect to a scope major axis 121. The side-mounted focus assembly 624 provides the ability to adjust the focus of the scope 600 such that a user can adjust the image viewed at the eyepiece region 118. The target region viewed by the scope 600 can thus appear in focus to the user while also maintaining a substantially clear optical path within the interior of the scope 600. If the scope 600 has a relatively small dimension (e.g., a diameter of 1″), the side-mounted focus assembly 624 can be used to adjust the viewed image, if needed or desired. In the particular embodiment illustrated in FIG. 20, the windage adjustment assembly 300, the elevation adjustment assembly 304, and the side-mounted focus assembly 624 together define a side mounted image adjustment group 626. The windage adjustment assembly 300, the elevation adjustment assembly 304, and the side-mounted focus assembly 624 are preferably positioned substantially at the same axial position along the scope's major axis 121 and radially spaced apart from each other such that the user can adjust multiple images characteristics of the scope 600 with reduced need to move their fingers to different locations along the scope 600. However, in other embodiments, the side-mounted focus assembly 624, windage adjustment assembly 300, and elevation adjustment assembly 304 may be positioned generally at the same or different radial orientations about the major axis 121 and/or spaced axially along the major axis 121 depending on the requirements of a given application.

FIG. 21 illustrates a side sectional view of internal components and operating characteristics of one embodiment of a side-mounted focus assembly 624. In this particular embodiment, the side-mounted focus assembly 624 includes a focus actuator 630 which is configured for manipulation or adjustment by a user to set the focus of the scope 600 to a desired setting. Depending on the requirements of a particular application, the focus actuator 630 may be provided with knurling, grooves, scallops, surface treatments, and/or a relatively high friction material to facilitate manual manipulation of the focus actuator 630. In yet other embodiments, the focus actuator 630 is provided with flutes, flats, internal external tool fittings, and/or external tool fittings such that a user may manipulate the focus actuator 630 with a corresponding tool. The focus actuator 630 in this embodiment is located on and rotatably engaged with a side focus base 632 such that the focus actuator 630 can rotate about an axis of rotation 652. The axis of rotation 652 is oriented generally perpendicular to the major axis 121 such that the side-mounted focus assembly 624 is oriented laterally or is side mounted (left or right) with respect to the major orientation of the scope 600. However, the axis of rotation 652 can be at other orientations with respect to the major axis 121. The side-mounted focus assembly 624 further comprises in certain embodiments one or more seals 634 arranged to inhibit passage of moisture or other contaminates between the focus actuator 630 and side focus base 632. The base 632 connects to the main tube (not shown in FIG. 21) to prevent such dirt and moisture from entering into the main tube.

In one particular embodiment, the side-mounted focus assembly 624 also comprises an engagement pin or structure 636 which is received within a receptacle 638 within the side-mounted focus assembly 624. The engagement pin 636 is moveable within the receptacle 638 along a lateral axis 654, which is generally orthogonal with respect to the generally longitudinal arrangement of the scope's major axis 121; however, the lateral axis 654 need not be strictly perpendicular or intersecting with the major axis 121.

A pre-loader 640 is arranged to bear upon the engagement pin 636 in a resilient compressive manner so as to urge the engagement pin 636 generally laterally inward towards the major axis 121. The pre-loader 640 is interposed between the receptacle 638 and the engagement pin 636. The lateral axis 654 is offset as indicated by the arrows 656 of FIG. 21 from the axis of rotation 654 such that rotation of the focus actuator 630 induces the receptacle 638, engagement pin 636, and pre-loader 640 to move along generally circular arc 661 (see FIG. 22) about the axis of rotation 652. The illustrated pre-loader 640 is a helical spring that biases the engagement pin 636 away from the side focus actuator 630. Other types of pre-loaders (e.g., non-helical springs, actuators, biasing members, etc.) can also be employed.

The side-mounted focus assembly 624 also comprises a generally axially movable focus lens holder 642 which receives and secures one or more focus lenses within the interior of the main body tube 110. When the side-mounted focus assembly 624 rotates about the axis 652, the movable focus lens holder 642 and associated focus lenses are axially displaced until the viewed image is properly focused. In certain embodiments, the focus lens holder 642 has a relatively thin wall thickness, in particular embodiments less than 1 mm wall thickness. In certain embodiments, the focus lens holder 642 cooperates with or forms part of an erector assembly which comprises one or more additional lenses arranged to provide an erect/non-inverted image to a user. Thus, in certain embodiments, the focus lens holder 642 is also included in the erector tube 322 (see, e.g., FIG. 2) which can be at least partially flexible.

In some embodiments, including the illustrated embodiment of FIG. 21, a coupling 644 joins the focus lens holder 642 via engagement with the engagement pin 636. The coupling 644 is configured to closely fit to both the focus lens holder 642 and the engagement pin 636. In some embodiments, the coupling 644 is interconnected with the focus lens holder 642 so as to have a limited range of motion circumferentially with respect to the holder 642 and to be substantially fixed in an axial direction. The coupling 644 provides a relatively strong structural interconnection between the engagement pin 636 and the focus lens holder 642. The coupling 644 is preferably formed of a relatively strong material having relatively low friction characteristics, such as of a plastic material. The coupling 644 acts as a bushing or tab to interconnect the engagement pin 636 to maintain a relatively close fit throughout use and adjustment via the side mounted focus assembly 624. The coupling 644 is also relatively thin in radial dimension. In some embodiments, the coupling 644 has a radial thickness of approximately 2 mm. Thus, the coupling 644 provides a strong structural interconnection allowing the engagement pin 636 to induce movement of the focus lens holder 642 in a manner that is resistant to wear, and preferably in a manner that does not significantly intrude into the clear optical path in the interior of the scope 600. In this particular embodiment, a focus lens guide tube 646 (see FIG. 21) encloses the focus lens holder 642. The engagement pin 636 extends through an opening 650 in the focus lens guide tube 646 and engages the coupling 644.

Thus, as shown in FIG. 22, because the lateral axis 654 is offset from the axis of rotation 652 of the focus actuator 630, rotation of the focus actuator moves the engagement pin 636 along an arc 661. Depending upon the position of the engagement pin 636 along the arc 661, the engagement pin 636 describes a greater or lesser degree of movement both along the major axis 121 and transversely thereto. A circumferential slot 663 is provided in the side-mounted focus assembly 624 such that the engagement pin 636 is engaged and coupled with the coupling 644. As such, the engagement pin 636 is allowed a limited range of motion generally circumferentially about the focus lens holder 642 and also generally transversely to the major axis 121.

The engagement pin 636 and circumferential slot 663 are further configured such that the engagement pin 636 is a relatively close fit in the longitudinal direction or along the major axis 121. As the focus actuator 630 is rotatably engaged with the side focus base 632 but otherwise restrained against translation with respect to the main body tube 110, the axial component of the movement of the engagement pin 636 along the arc 661 within the circumferential slot 663 moves the focus lens holder 642 axially along the major axis 121. Thus, rotational movement of the focus actuator 630 is translated to an axial movement component to urge the focus lens holder 642 forwards or backwards along the major axis 121. In this manner, the focus lens holder 642 can be moved in the longitudinal direction to adjust the relative axial position of the focus lens(es) secured therein. As can be seen in FIGS. 21 and 22, the side-mounted focus assembly 624, including the coupling 644 and engagement pin 636, is positioned substantially externally with respect to the interior of the focus lens holder 642 and focus lens guide tube 646. Thus, a relatively unobstructed optical path extends between the objective lens assembly 118 and ocular lens assembly 114. The clear aperture within the main tubular body is preserved thereby providing the ability for focus adjustment with reduced negative impact on the optical clarity, brightness, or other characteristics provided by the scope 600.

FIG. 23 illustrates another embodiment of a side-mounted focus assembly 624 which is generally similar in principle of operation to the embodiments previous described and illustrated in FIGS. 21 and 22, except as detailed below. In the embodiment in FIG. 23, the engagement pin 636 is offset from the axis of rotation 652 of the focus actuator 630. In particular, a first end of the engagement pin 636 is configured to define an operating portion 662 which is offset as indicated by the arrows 656 from the axis of rotation 652. This engagement pin offset assists smooth operation of the focus lens cell movement. The first end of the engagement pin 636 is also configured to provide an abutment 664. The pre-loader 440 biases the abutment 664 such that the operative portion 662 is engaged with the coupling 644 and circumferential slot 663. Excessive penetration of the engagement pin 636 into the interior of the main body tube 110 is preferably inhibited by the abutment 664 engaging the outer surfaces of at least one of the coupling 644, focus lens holder 642 and focus lens guide tube 646. FIG. 24 illustrates this embodiment in side section view and FIG. 25 illustrates in perspective section view how the abutment 664 engages so as to inhibit excessive protrusion of the engagement pin 636 into the interior of the focus lens holder 642 and focus lens guide tube 646. Obstruction of the optical path within the interior of the main body tube 110 is thereby reduced, and thus, the desirable optical characteristics (e.g., resolution, throughput, or reduction of field, etc.) is maintained even with the relatively small dimension of the central tube region 110, such as in a one (1) inch or thirty (30) millimeter standard size scopes.

FIG. 25 also illustrates how these embodiments of side focus assemblies 624 are compatible with setting and maintaining a focus adjustment of the scope 600 while accommodating windage and/or elevation adjustment. More particularly, FIG. 25 illustrates schematically elevation adjustments by the generally vertically arranged arrow E extending upwards and downwards and windage adjustment indicated generally by the transversely extending arrows indicated by the W. More particularly, in embodiments wherein adjustment of the windage and/or elevation adjustment assemblies 300, 304 act upon the focus lens holder 642 and focus lens guide tube 646, elevation adjustments are accommodated by the range of motion provided for the engagement pin 636 within the circumferential slot 663. Thus, for elevation adjustment changes, the relative axial location along the major axis 121 of the engagement pin 636 will not substantially change, however elevation adjustment can be accommodated by movement of the engagement pin 636 within the circumferential slot 663. Similarly, a given focus adjustment of the side-mounted focus assembly 624 can be maintained simultaneously with adjustments to the windage, such as via the windage adjustment assembly 300, as the engagement pin 636 is free to move within the receptacle 638. By the resilient compressive force provided by the pre-loader 640, the engagement pin 636 may be maintained in position within the circumferential slot 663 so as to axially locate the focus lens holder 642 and to provide a focus adjustment for the scope 600 while accommodating transverse or left right windage adjustment of the scope by transverse movement of the engagement pin 636 within the receptacle 638.

This capability is provided with a relatively simple construction and can be provided to the scope 600 comprising a main body tube 110 which is unitary or materially continuous providing the aforementioned advantages with respect to strength, weight, and/or sealing against contaminants. The capability is also provided with reduced obstruction of the optical path within the interior of the main body tube 110 as the operative components of the side-mounted focus assembly 624 are substantially maintained exterior to the internally arranged optical path. A desirably large range of windage and elevation adjustments is also maintained as the side-mounted focus assembly 624 is largely positioned outside the tube 110. Substantial reduction in the range of windage and elevations adjustments can therefore be avoided.

FIG. 26 illustrates a further arrangement wherein the relative locations of the focus lens holder 642 and focus lens guide tube 646 are reversed. More particularly, in the embodiments illustrated in FIGS. 21-25, the focus lens holder 642 is arranged internal to or nested within the focus lens guide tube 646. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 26, this relationship is reversed such that the focus lens guide tube 646 is positioned within or nested in the focus lens holder 642. The structure and operational characteristics of the side-mounted focus assembly 624 as illustrated in FIG. 26 are otherwise similar to those previously described and will not be repeated for brevity. It will be further understood that in the embodiments illustrated and described herein, sealing and/or lubrication materials may be provided between the focus lens holder 642 and focus lens guide tube 646 as well as other components of the scope 600 to both improve the capacity of the scope 600 to inhibit entry of moisture or debris into the interior of the scope 600 so as to maintain the desirable optical characteristics of the scope as well as to reduce friction thereby facilitating user actuation of the side focus assembly 142 and to avoid corrosion or other deterioration of the components thereof.

Variation in the configuration and design is possible. For example, the side focus may or may not be included with the flexible erector (either with or without bias). Similarly, the side focus may or may not be included with the unitary main tube.

Moreover, the apparatus which are described and illustrated herein are not limited to the exact arrangement of components described, nor is it necessarily limited to the practice of all of the components set forth. Some of the components may be excluded and others may be added. Likewise, the methods which are described and illustrated herein are not limited to the exact sequence of acts described, nor is it necessarily limited to the practice of all of the acts set forth. Other sequences of events or acts, or less than all of the events, or simultaneous occurrence of the events, may be utilized in practicing the embodiments of the invention. Additionally, although the invention has been disclosed in the context of certain embodiments and examples, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that the invention extends beyond the specifically disclosed embodiments to other alternative embodiments and/or uses and obvious modifications and equivalents thereof. Accordingly, the invention is not intended to be limited by the specific disclosures of preferred embodiments herein.

Referenced by
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US8670179Dec 8, 2009Mar 11, 2014Bernard T. WindauerMulti-function turret knob
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Classifications
U.S. Classification42/122, 42/119
International ClassificationF41G1/38
Cooperative ClassificationG02B7/023, F41G1/38, G02B7/022
European ClassificationF41G1/38, G02B7/02C, G02B7/02B
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DateCodeEventDescription
Jun 19, 2008ASAssignment
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Jun 16, 2008ASAssignment
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Apr 21, 2008ASAssignment
Owner name: MEADE INSTRUMENTS CORPORATION, CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:PACIFIC RIM OPTICAL, INC;REEL/FRAME:020835/0766
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