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Publication numberUS3018750 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJan 30, 1962
Filing dateMay 2, 1958
Priority dateMay 2, 1958
Publication numberUS 3018750 A, US 3018750A, US-A-3018750, US3018750 A, US3018750A
InventorsHill Arthur D
Original AssigneeHill Arthur D
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Mercury switch control for electrically governed rudder
US 3018750 A
Abstract  available in
Previous page
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)


3,018,750 MERCURY SWITCH CONTROL FOR ELECTRI- CALLY GOVERNED RUDDER Arthur D. Hill, Newport Beach, Orange County, Calif. Filed May 2, 1958, Ser. No. 732,495 1 Claim. (Cl. 114-444) My invention relates to means for remotely controlling an electrically governed rudder, and more particularly relates to a mercury switch shaped and designed for that purpose.

Mercury switches are, of course, well known, and remote control switches have also been employed for effecting variations of course with an automatic pilot, but hitherto no person, to my knowledge, has realized the possibilities and capabilities of a mercury switch for a control of that type.

Reference is made to my co-pending application Serial Number 457,455, tiled September 21, 1954, now Patent No. 2,864,990, for an Automatic Pilot, in which I have described a marine pilot governed by a magnetic compass and having electric circuits controlling port and starboard rudder movements which are opened and closed by movements of the compass bar relative to the lubber line of the vessel. My present invention may well be combined with an automatic. pilot as therein described, although it is not limited to such use, but equally well suited to combination with any type of pilot, magnetic or gyroscopic, or simply a rudder moved by a reversible motor. As the principles of circuitry for a reversible motor are well understood, they will not be illustrated herein in detail.

A principal object of my invention is to provide a switch by which a vessel may be controlled from any position on the vessel with the control shifting from remote control to automatic control, and vice versa, at the helmsmans option.

A further object of my invention is to provide a mercury switch which by its shape will guide the operator in its use.

United States Patent "ice 3,018,750 Patented Jan. 30, 19 6 2 FIGS. 5, 6 and 7 are diagrammatic views of three positions of theswitch resulting respectively in automatic control, remote control with starboard rudder, and remote control with port rudder.

Having reference now to the details of the drawing, I have shown in FIG. 1 a handle 10, which may be of wood, or plastic, or metal, as may be convenient, and which is adapted by its shape to be held in the hand in 0 the manner that a pistol grip is held. The handle 10 is,

Another object of my invention is to provide a mercury switch which may be operated entirely with one hand, leaving the other hand completely free.

Still another object of my invention is to provide a mercury switch which, when held in the hand, may override an automatic pilot, but when put aside in a rack, will automatically restore the operation to the automatic pilot.

Another object of my invention is to provide a switch which will arrest a rudder at any desired degree of swing, so that a vessel may be swung on a wide curve or on a tight curve, at the helmsmans option.

It is a further object of my invention to provide a mercury switch which is responsive, for port and starboard steering, to a flip of the operators wrist in a gesture as natural as pointing in the direction in which it is desired to go.

In the accompanying drawing, illustrative of a presently preferred embodiment of my invention,

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a handle in which a mercury switch is enclosed, the switch being shown in dotted line;

FIG. 2 is a sectional view on the line 2--2 of FIG. 1, showing the arrangement of terminals within the switch and the position of a mercury drop when the switch is held in a position upsetting automatic control in favor of remote control, a straight-ahead course being indicated;

FIG. 3 is a sectional view similar to FIG. 2, but with the switch reversed vertically and shown in a position giving automatic steering rather than remote control;

FIG. 4 is a sectional view on the line 4-4 of FIG. 2, showing the side view of the switch; and

when so held, somewhat elongated in a forward-aft direction, and much elongated vertically and coming to a forward uppermost point 11, and having its least dimension in a transverse, or cross-the-body direction. The forward edge 12 may be concave if so desired. The upper surface 13 may be decorated with cross arrows 14, as an opera tional guide to the helmsman, although any experienced helmsman may learn in a few minutes to control the vessel 15 by use of the handle 10 without even referring to the arrows. I

The center of the handle 10 is hollowed with a cavity 16, closed by a plug 17 in the bottom face 18 of the block, through which a cable 19 extends to a totally enclosed mercury switch 20. The switch :20 has a mercury chamber 21 which is preferably guitar-shaped, to better utilize a drop ofmercury 22, having a large end 23 and a small end 24, the large end being adjacent the plug 16. The chamber 21 is formed in a block 25, and the block 25 is enclosed between two plates 26 and 27 which seal the chamber 21. Four electric terminals enter the chamber 21, all through the walls of the block 25. One terminal 28 enters through the bottom (FIG. 2) of the large end 23 of theguitar-shapcd chamber 21, and extends through the neck of the chamber to the far end of the smaller end 24. Another terminal 29 enters one side of the smaller chamber end 24. The other two terminals 30 and 31 enter the large end 23 of the chamber 21 through the sides of the end 23, and directly opposite to each other, being suificiently removed from the entrance point of the terminal 28 so that when the handle 10 is held erect with the cable 19 downward, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, they will both be a little above the mercury drop 22.

The cable 19 contains four individual wires which lead to the four terminals 28, 29, 30 and 31, and to the circuits by which the vessels rudder 43 is controlled. These circuits will ordinarily connect the compass or other basic control 32, magnetic or gyroscopic, through appropriate solenoids to a reversible motor (not shown). In a typical installation as shown in FIG. 5 (reference again being made to my aforementioned Patent No. 2,864,990)

one circuit 33 will include wires connecting the basic control to the motor in the sense of giving a starboard rudder; another circuit 34 will include wires connecting the basic control to the motor in the sense of giving a port rudder; and they will also include a hot Wire 35 connected with a battery 37 or other power source and a neutral wire 36. The four wires 38, 39, 40 and 41 are arranged to connect, respectively, the terminal 28 and the hot wire 35, the terminal 29 and the neutra wire 36, the terminal 30 and the circuit 33 giving starboard rudder, and the terminal 31 and the circuit 34 giving a port rudder.

The cable 19 is preferably of such length that the handle 10 may be carried to any part of the vessel, and there operated as a remote control on the rudder.

When the handle 10 is held upright as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, with the cable 19 at the bottom, the mercury drop 22 is in contact only with the terminal 28. It there fore has no effect. But let the handle 10 be tilted toward the right from the erect position, as shown in FIG. 6, and the mercury drop 22 will make contact with the terminal 30 as well as with the terminal 28. The battery 37 is thus placed in circuit with the circuit 33, which activates the steering mechanism to give the vessel a starboard rudder. The circuit 33 thus becomes an over-riding circuit, temporarily over-powering the automatic action of the compass. Conversely, if the handle be tilted toward the left as shown in FIG. 7, the mercury drop 22 will connect the terminal 31 and the terminal 28, activating the circuit 34 as an over-riding circuit and giving the vessel a port rudder. The starboard or port rudders so developed will prevail over the automatic pilot. If a starboard rudder be developed, the automatic pilot will attempt to give the vessel a port rudder as it swings from a straight course to starboard, but it will be unable to do so, being overpowered by the remote control. If, when the vessel has been given port or starboard rudder by means of the remote control handle, the handle is again brought to the vertical, the rudder will remain in its turned position. To bring the vessel to a straight course, the handle 10 must be tilted in the opposite direction until the vessel has ceased to turn, and then must be held vertically. This last described feature is of great importance in regulating the sharpness of the curve that a vessels course takes. The handle 10 may be tilted momentarily while the reversible motor acts upon the rudder. When the degree of turn of the course is suflicient, the handle 10 is brought upright. The rudder is at once arrested in its partially turned position and remains so arrested in its partially turned position until the handle is again tilted or until the vessel is returned to automatic control.

The maneuvers described are, with my improved remote control switch, performed by a good helmsman exactly as if he had a wheel or a tiller in his hand. The helmsman steering by means of a wheel, when he wishes to change course from, say, 45 magnetic to 90 magnetic turns his wheel to the right and the vessel begins its swing. As the vessel approaches a course of, say 80, the helmsman turns his wheel to the left, beyond center, to check, or compensate for, the momentum of the vessel; the vessel swings more slowly and comes to the desired 90 course with virtually no remaining swing. So also, with my remote control switch. The helmsman tilts the handle 10 to the right, starting the vessel to swing. Be fore the change in direction is completed, he tilts the handle to the left, to compensate for momentum. As the vessel comes to the desired new course the handle 10 is held erect. It should be noted that all this may be done one-handed, on a slippery storm-tossed deck, with the other hand free to cling to any available support.

When it is desired to return to steering by automatic compass, the handle 10 is reversed vertically and is held With the cable 19 uppermost. In this position, the mercury drop 22 makes contact between the terminal 28 and the terminal 29 (FIG. 3) activating the circuit 36. Being freed from the overpowering control, the normal automatic port and starboard circuits 33 and 34 will function again in normal manner. With the vessel on automatic steering the helmsman may put down the remote control handle 10, and one or more receiving brackets 42 may be placed at convenient locations on the vessel to receive the handle. These brackets 42 are open only at the top, and are only just large enough to receive the handle 10 in a vertical position. The handle must therefore be placed in them with the cable 19 uppermost, the automatic steering position. It becomes, thereby, impossible to place the remote control handle in one of the brackets 42 with the switch in an incorrect position. While not impossible, it is highly unlikely that the handle 10 will be held in any but the proper position during the remote control steering, as the point 11 guides the helmsman like his own forefinger.

The disclosed embodiment is not to be construed as a limitation upon the invention, the scope of which is deemed to include any desirable constructive modification within the spirit and breadth of the appended claim.

I claim:

In combination with automatic piloting apparatus including electric circuits for selectively causing a rudder to swing in either of two directions, a mercury switch having an elongated mercury-containing chamber and having a handle adapted to be held manually with the long axis of said chamber in a vertical position, a first terminal in said switch adapted to connect the contained mercury with a source of power when the long axis of said chamber is substantially in either possible vertical position, a second terminal adjacent one end of said chamber and arranged when in contact with said mercury to place said source of power in circuit with said automatic piloting apparatus, and two terminals adjacent the other end of said chamber and at opposite sides of said chamber in circuit respectively with that part of said apparatus causing said rudder to swing in one and the other of said two directions and affording with said source of power circuits over-riding the automatic control of said apparatus.

References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS 977,523 Gustafson Dec. 6, 1910 1,587,523 Neuzerling June 1, 1926 2,068,065 Neubert Jan. 19, 1937 2,138,279 Kneisley Nov. 29, 1938 2,191,339 Cook Feb. 20, 1940 2,400,400 Duer May 14, 1946 2,498,223 Rommel Feb. 21, 1950 2,776,443 Howard Jan. 8, 1957 2,796,576 Braddon et al June 18, 1957 2,914,018 Schachner et al Nov. 24, 1959 OTHER REFERENCES Yachting, vol, No. 3, September 1956, pages, 58-61.

Patent Citations
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US1587523 *Sep 29, 1922Jun 8, 1926Miehle Printing Press & MfgLithographic roller
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US2796576 *Jan 7, 1953Jun 18, 1957Sperry Rand CorpManeuverable automatic pilot for ships
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4445011 *Oct 13, 1981Apr 24, 1984Hansen Ronald EFreestanding multidirectional electrical control device
US4450325 *Apr 6, 1983May 22, 1984Luque Tom RElectro-mechanical hand controller
US4491325 *Jan 26, 1983Jan 1, 1985Thomas BersheimGame control apparatus
US4635802 *Dec 27, 1985Jan 13, 1987Hylton Douglas WBridge crane control unit
US4739236 *Jun 22, 1987Apr 19, 1988Russel H. KeyesPortable helm
US4804897 *Aug 19, 1987Feb 14, 1989Hewlett-Packard CompanyOrientation-dependant robot controller
EP0074289A1 *Jul 27, 1982Mar 16, 1983SOCIETE D'ELECTRONIQUE INDUSTRIELLE de MOULINS - SELIMOJoy-stick for electronic games
U.S. Classification114/144.00R, 200/220, 244/236, 200/224, 74/471.0XY, 200/332.1, 200/6.00A
International ClassificationH01H9/02, H01H29/00, H01H9/06
Cooperative ClassificationH01H9/06, H01H29/00
European ClassificationH01H9/06