US 20070173173 A1
The model having hovering capability includes one or more air cushions that are capable of tilting and rotating simultaneously. By tilting one or more air cushions, the frictional contact with the ground surface is increased and the air bearing effect of that cushion is lost. By rotating that same air cushion while tilted, the model with hovering capability is provided with propulsion and steering capability. The tilting and rotating of the air cushions provides increase propulsion over rougher terrains, and enables the vehicle to be amphibious by traversing both water and land.
1. A model comprising:
at least one front air cushion;
at least one rear air cushion; and
a propulsion system connected to said at least one front air cushion or said at least one rear air cushion, said propulsion system causing the connected air cushion to tilt in a predetermined manner and rotate in a user selected direction.
2. The model of
3. The model of
4. The model of
5. The model of
6. The model of
7. The model of
two rear air cushions; and
one front air cushion operating exclusively as an air bearing;
wherein said propulsion system is connected to said two rear cushions such that rotation of each of said rear air cushions in opposite directions with respect to each other causes said model to move in a straight direction.
8. The model of
an air compression fan with corresponding ducting configured to provide air to said air cushions; and
a shut off mechanism connected to the air cushions connected to said propulsion system for shutting off air flow to the air cushions connected to the propulsion system when said propulsion system is activated and the air cushions are tilted.
9. The model of
a front right and a front left air cushion;
a rear right and a rear left air cushion;
a left side gear housing connecting said front left and said rear left air cushions, said left side gear housing pivotally mounted to a chassis of the model;
a right side gear housing connecting said front right and said rear right air cushions, said right side gear housing pivotally mounted to the chassis of the model; and
control means connected to said left side gear housing and said right side gear housing for independently and selectively pivoting said gearing housings, and thereby the respective air cushions to provide at least two different modes of operation for said air cushions.
10. The model of
a right side servo having a right side servo horn;
a left side servo having a left side servo horn;
a right side control arm connected at one end to the right side servo horn and an opposite end connected to the right side gear housing;
a left side control arm connected at one end to the left side servo horn and an opposite end connected to the left side gear housing;
wherein said servos selectively control the operating position of said gear housings in response to user received commands from a radio controller.
11. The model of
This application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/761,650 filed on Jan. 24, 2006.
1. Field of the Technology
The present invention relates to hovering models. More particularly, it relates to a steering and propulsion system for hovering models.
2. Description of the Related Art
Generally, conventional toy models that have a hovering feature produce thrust by one or multiple propellers mounted on the top side of the vehicle. Steering is achieved by one or more rudders placed behind the propulsion fans. In other alternative arrangements, steering can be achieved by reversing the thrust of a single fan versus the opposite fan in a dual fan setup.
Thrust produced by propeller(s) has proven to be very inefficient for operation, and also drains power from a typical rechargeable battery very quickly. Thus, runtime for the toy is disappointingly short compared to electric powered traditional toy R/C cars with wheels. Rechargeable battery powered toy models that have hovering capability typically do not have sufficient thrust, consequently, acceleration and handling are adversely affected. The ability to move in reverse is severely limited due to even weaker propeller thrust in the reverse direction.
Conventional models generally have an inflatable air cushion underneath the vehicle that is not capable of climbing even the slightest incline since it can function only as a frictionless air bearing. Additionally, these conventional models with hovering capability require smooth surfaces to operate on so that a pocket of pressurized air can be effectively maintained under the air cushion for air bearing function. As a prior art hovering model gathers speed via propulsion propellers, its ability to steer is greatly reduced since the thrust of the propellers is typically not great enough to overcome the vehicle's momentum. Therefore steering response is slow and as a result, the steering radius is large.
It becomes apparent that there is a need for a more power efficient hovering model that also includes effective steering and propulsion system.
According to one aspect of the present principles, the model with hovering capability includes air cushions that include both an air bearing function and a steering/propulsion system.
According to another aspect of the present principles, the model with hovering capability includes air cushions that are exclusively air bearings and other air cushions that include both air bearing and steering/propulsion capability.
These and other aspects of the model with hovering capability are achieved by a model having at least one front air cushion, at least one rear air cushion, and a propulsion system connected to the at least one front air cushion or the at least one rear air cushion. The propulsion system causing the connected air cushion to tilt in a predetermined manner and rotate in a user selected direction.
In accordance with one aspect, the tilting in a predetermined manner includes tilting the at least one air cushion from a flat air bearing condition to an angular disposition with respect to a ground running surface the model is being operated on.
According to another aspect, the at least one front air cushion is fixedly mounted in a horizontal, air bearing position and the propulsion system is connected to the at least one rear air cushion such that the at least one rear air cushion provides steering and propulsion to the model.
In yet a further aspect of the present principles, the model includes two rear air cushions, and one front air cushion operating exclusively as an air bearing. In this implementation, the propulsion system is connected to the two rear cushions such that rotation of each in opposite directions with respect to each other causes the model to move in a straight direction.
In a further implementation, the model includes an air compression fan with corresponding ducting configured to provide air to the air cushions, and a shut off mechanism connected to the air cushions connected to the propulsion system for shutting off air flow to the air cushions when the propulsion system is activated and the air cushions are tilted.
In yet another implementation of the present principles, the model includes a front right and a front left air cushion, and a rear right and a rear left air cushion. A left side gear housing is connected to the front left and rear left air cushions, and is pivotally mounted to a chassis of the model. A right side gear housing is connected to the front right and rear right air cushions, and is pivotally mounted to the chassis of the model. A control means is connected to the left side gear housing and the right side gear housing for independently and selectively pivoting said gearing housings, and thereby the respective air cushions to provide at least two different modes of operation for said air cushions.
The control means can include, for example, a right side servo having a right side servo horn, a left side servo having a left side servo horn, a right side control arm connected at one end to the right side servo horn and an opposite end connected to the right side gear housing, and a left side control arm connected at one end to the left side servo horn and an opposite end connected to the left side gear housing. The servos selectively control the operating position of the gear housings in response to user received commands from a radio controller.
The services are capable of pivoting the gear housings in a range of more than 90 degrees to provide both a 4 wheel operating vehicle in one mode, and the tilted wheel propulsion system for the model in another operating mode.
Other aspects and features of the present principles will become apparent from the following detailed description considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings. It is to be understood, however, that the drawings are designed solely for purposes of illustration and not as a definition of the limits of the present principles, for which reference should be made to the appended claims. It should be further understood that the drawings are not necessarily drawn to scale and that, unless otherwise indicated, they are merely intended to conceptually illustrate the structures and procedures described herein.
In the drawings wherein like reference numerals denote similar components throughout the views:
The model with hovering capability (e.g., a model hovercraft) of the present principles can possess multiple air cushions in a variety of configurations. In these various configurations, some or all of the cushions can provide steering and propulsion by tilting and rotating. It will become clear from the following that depending on the particular configuration, some air cushions can function exclusively as an air bearing for the model.
By way of example, the implementation shown in
The exemplary model of
In this exemplary implementation, the front or forward mounted cushion 12 functions exclusively as an air bearing and may generally be mounted in a stationary manner. However, it is contemplated herein that the front air bearing cushion 12 could further benefit from a swiveling mount to assist it in tracking over uneven surfaces so as to better maintain the pressurized air in the void 32 under the cushion for sustained air bearing operation. The rear two air cushions 10L and 10R have a dual function as both air bearings and for propulsion and steering.
The propulsion and steering mechanism will now be described in connection with reference to
Generally, when the wheels 10 are tilted, the pressurized air would continue to be channeled to the tilted air cushion(s) and wasted, but a unique, mechanical air shutoff system is employed. This can be shown by the angularly disposed and opposing flanges 50 attached to the universal joint linkages 42. When the rear cushions 10L and 10R tilt, the respective flanges SOL and 50R effectively close the air passages 52 which feed air to the rear air cushions. This shut off by the flanges 50 redirects pressurized air from the compressor fan to the active air bearing cushion(s), in this case front cushion 12. This air shutoff feature ensures that all air is redirected to the air cushions that are not tilted and all other internal ducting remains pressurized for maximum hovering effect. In this example, the forward or front air cushion 12 is the fulltime air bearing with no motorized tilt and rotation features. The rear two air cushions 10L and 10R can be tilted and rotated separately or in combination.
According to one preferred implementation, the tilting and rotating of the cushions 10L and 10R happen simultaneously. The tilting of the cushions 10 allows the outer edges 11 of the air cushions to make frictional contact with the ground and eliminates the air bearing effect of the air cushions 10, as shown in
As a rather unique feature of the model with hovering capability of the present principles, and model vehicles in general, in order to drive the model in a straight position, each tilted air cushion 10L and 10R must rotate in opposite directions with respect to each other.
By selecting (from a radio transmitter not shown), both rear cushions 10L and 10R to rotate in the same direction to the right or to the left, this would generate a turn to the right or to the left. Sustained rotation in the selected direction would generate a continuous turning effect or a fast 360 degree rotation of the whole vehicle over and over again in a relatively tight radius of operation and almost in place.
It would also be possible to rotate one of the rear cushions 10L or 10R and cause the toy to rotate about the same. This steering capability of the model with hovering capability of the present principles provides significant recreational and functional advantages over prior art hovercraft toys. Especially when compared to the very wide turning radii that is standard for conventional hovering modes (e.g., hovercrafts) with standard propulsion propellers on top of the model body. The tilting and rotating air cushions 10L and 10R provide direct contact with the ground for quick and effective turns unlike any conventional model hovercrafts which tend to slide due to the hovering effect.
As mentioned above, rotating both air cushions in opposite directions (with respect to each other) to the front or to the rear, generates propulsion to the front or to the rear. This propulsion would be instantaneous and have little to no hesitation due to the direct frictional contact 9 with the ground 5 (See
In addition to steering and propulsion, the selective direct ground contact of air cushions 10L and 10R not only enables the toy hovercraft of the present principles to climb up smooth and gradual inclines, but also provides the toy with the ability to go in reverse quite easily. Those of skill in the art will recognize that the frictionless air bearings of conventional hovercraft vehicles provide no ability to climb inclines. As a matter of fact, the climbing ability of the conventional hovercraft vehicle with a frictionless air bearing is entirely based on the fan propulsion capability, which is generally too low, resulting in the vehicle sliding down an incline it is trying to climb. Additionally, conventional hovercraft vehicles have difficulty traveling in reverse due to insufficient propeller thrust in the reverse direction.
In accordance with one preferred implementation of the present principles, the tilting action of rear cushions 10L and 10R can be achieved with motor and gear transmission assemblies. Referring to
Rotation or drive function of air cushions 10L and 10R can also be achieved by motor and gear transmission and universal-jointed linkages. As shown, motors 36L and 36R with corresponding gearing 40L and 40R, respectively. The gearing 40L and 40R are linked to the universal jointed linkages 42L and 42R, respectively. When rotation of the cushions 10L and 10R is actuated by the respective motors 36, servo motors 38 are actuated causing the servo gearing to rotate a servo horn 58. The servo horn 58 is connected to the cushion mechanism without interfering with the rotation thereof, and causes the same to tilt in its predetermined direction. The servo horn 58 may be directly connected to the flapper flange 50 causing the same to close and thereby disabling the air flow to the respective cushion (as described above). In other embodiments, the servo horn 58 is spring biased by a spring 60 in the propulsion/steering tilted mode. Thus, when the operator of the toy does not actuate the drive functions, the servo motors 38 respond by dropping the cushions 10 to their non-tilted air-bearing position.
Thus, the model with hovering capability of the present principles as shown and described in
In one embodiment, the hovering can be controlled by a third radio channel on the radio control transmitter (not shown) which enables the selective turning on and off of the compression fan motor 34. The tilt and rotate feature are also controlled from the remote controller (not shown) for steering, forward and reverse functions. Those of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that by shutting of the compression fan 30 and disabling or discontinuing the “hovering” or “air bearing” mode of the front air cushion 12, it will act as a brake for the vehicle.
The model vehicle with hovering capability 1 according to the present principles is adapted to float and operate on water similarly as on dry land. When one or more than one of the air cushions are tilted, the tilted air cushion grips the water with the top of the cushion located away from water. The tilted and rotated air cushion can produce thrust and steering even when on the water. The style, configuration and depth of the air cushion treads 60 can have an increased effect on the vehicles ability to drive through the water or other rougher terrains.
Packed snow and ice are other operable surfaces for the model of the present principles. The tilt/rotate feature of the present principles also allows operation on low pile carpeting. This porous type of surface would usually slow a toy hovercraft down to a standstill by depleting all or most of the pressurized air under the air cushion causing insurmountable surface friction.
Although shown in an exemplary implementation with 3 air cushions, the tile/rotate mechanism of the present principles is not limited in any way to 3 air cushions. For example, the tilt/rotate mechanism of the present principles can be applied to all four air cushions in a four cushion vehicle setup. Tilting all four air cushions to 90 degrees would yield a high ground clearance automobile-like four wheeled vehicle. Essentially a transformation from a model with hovering capability to a model vehicle that runs on wheels is possible with this proprietary propulsion/steering mechanism. Ultimately, two or more air cushions can be employed on this type of model vehicle. Some or all air cushions can feature tilting and rotating to provide a variety of operating mode capabilities.
The selective control of the gear housings 76, 78 provide this model vehicle with steering and propulsion control, while maintaining the capability to either operate in a hovering mode or in a true 4 wheel drive mode. Referring to
In one preferred implementation, each side set of wheels 72 and 74 are independently controlled by a user from the radio remote controller (not shown). This independent control allows the user to select a set of wheels (e.g., either left side wheels 72, right side wheels 74 or both sides) which will be used for driving, steering, hovering, etc. The user's radio remote controller (not shown) is configured to control the servos contained in housing 90 that is responsible for the operating mode of the model. In the embodiment shown, there are two servos contained in housing 90, each connected to a servo horn 92 and 94. The servo horns 92 and 94 are fixedly connected to controller arms 102 and 104, respectively. The controller arm 102 is connected to the gear housing 76 via a fixed connection point 122. The controller arm 104 is connected to the gear housing 78 via a fixed connection point, not shown. As will be apparent from the figures, the position of the servo horns 92 and 94, and thereby the controller arms 102 and 104 dictate the operating mode of gear housing 76 and 78, and thereby the corresponding wheels 72 and 74, respectively.
As shown in
The radio control electronics 80 include all the electronics necessary to operate the model. In addition, the electronics will also include the various channels (and corresponding crystals) required to operate the compression fan, the independent tilting of the wheels 72 and/or 74, and/or independent driving of wheels 72 and/or 74.
While there have been shown, described and pointed out fundamental novel features of the present principles, it will be understood that various omissions, substitutions and changes in the form and details of the methods described and devices illustrated, and in their operation, may be made by those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit of the same. For example, it is expressly intended that all combinations of those elements and/or method steps which perform substantially the same function in substantially the same way to achieve the same results are within the scope of the present principles. Moreover, it should be recognized that structures and/or elements and/or method steps shown and/or described in connection with any disclosed form or implementation of the present principles may be incorporated in any other disclosed, described or suggested form or implementation as a general matter of design choice. It is the intention, therefore, to be limited only as indicated by the scope of the claims appended hereto.