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Publication numberUS3040980 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJun 26, 1962
Filing dateFeb 19, 1957
Priority dateFeb 19, 1957
Publication numberUS 3040980 A, US 3040980A, US-A-3040980, US3040980 A, US3040980A
InventorsWilbur F Jensen, Robert L Mann
Original AssigneeWilbur F Jensen, Robert L Mann
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Method and apparatus for counting mobile aquatic creatures
US 3040980 A
Abstract  available in
Previous page
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

June 26, 1962 R. MANN ETAL 3,040,980


COUNTER \ulNDOhl emPuFuzR COUNTER fl'l INVENTORS \MLBUR F. 'S'ENSEN ROBERT L. MANN 5 EVER/var ON- on: swrrcu RELRY COMPPRTMINT CONTRHGRUG Bmrsav swn'cu June 26, 1962 R. L. MANN ETAL METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR COUNTING MOBILE AQUATIC CREATURES Filed Feb. 19, 1957 nite States 3,040,980 METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR COUNTING MOBELE AQUATIC CREATURES Robert L. Mann, 1008 E. 37th St., and Wilbur F. Jensen, 24S Redford St. SE, both of Minneapolis, Niinn. Filed Feb. 19, 1957, Ser. No. 641,098 4 Claims. (Cl. 23598) This invention relates to method and apparatus for counting individual, mobile, aquatic creatures and particularly to method and apparatus for counting fish. One principal field of usefulness of the invention is in the live bait business, and more especially, the minnow business. Heretofore there has not been available any device for counting of live minnows at both the wholesale and retail levels. Minnows are sold on the basis of count, and a large amount of time is used for such counting operations essential for invoicing the merchandise. For the counting of live minnows it has heretofore been the practice to use two or more persons. The minnows are moved from one container to another a few at a time by dip-netting and one of the persons involved in counting the operation keeps count of the number of minnows as for example the number in each netfull. A great many errors are present in such an operation and more frequently than not, the count is grossly erroneous.

Another field of usefulness of the invention is in connection with census operations, as of migratory fishes and spot checking in lake fish census based upon sectional seining operations.

It is an object of the present invention to provide a method and apparatus for counting individual mobile aquatic creatures such as minnows, fishes, crayfish, shrimp and the like. It is an especial object of the invention to provide a device which may be used wherever minnows and the like aquatic creatures are handled and sold. It is another object of the invention to provide a method and apparatus for counting minnows, fishes and the like aquatic creatures without appreciable handling or disturbance of such creatures or injury thereto. It is another object of the invention to provide a method and apparatus for counting aquatic creatures on a basis far more accurate and much less costly than any previously available, and to provide such methods and apparatus capable of being used by relatively unskilled personnel. Another object of the invention is to provide a counting apparatus of low initial and operating cost and maximum portability.

It is a further object of the invention to provide a counting apparatus for minnows and such live bait which can be installed in tanks or ponds wherein such minnows, fish or live bait are reared, maintained or transported or used in connection with fixed or mobile seins and fish traps for counting.

Other and further objects of the invention are those inherent in the apparatus illustrated, described and claimed.

To the accomplishment of the foregoing and related ends, this invention then comprises the features hereinafter fully described and particularly pointed out in the claims, the following description setting forth in detail certain illustrative embodiments of the invention, these being indicative, however, of but a few of the various ways in which the principles of the invention may be employed.

The invention is illustrated with reference to the drawings wherein: FIGURE 1 is a vertical sectional view illustrating one form of apparatus of the invention. FIGURE 2 is a transverse sectional view taken along the lines and in the direction of arrows 22 of FIGURE 1. FIGURE 3 is a vertical sectional view illustrating another form of the apparatus of the present invention and ice illustrating an installation in which the invention is used. FIGURE 4 is a schematic wiring diagram of the electrical components of the invention. FIGURE 5 is a plan view of another form of the invention; FIGURE 6 is a vertical elevational view taken in the direction of arrows 6-6 of FIGURE 5 and FIGURE 7 and is an enlarged horizontal view, partly in section of the device, taken in the direction of arrows 7-7 of FIGURE 6.

Referring to FIGURE 1 the invention comprises first an enclosure generally designated 8 in which the minnows, fish or aquatic creatures, which it is desired to count, may be confined and guided at least temporarily in preparation for the counting operation. In the form shown in FEGURE 1, such enclosure is in the shape of a conical funnel having a wide angled mouth portion 10 which extends downwardly to the level 11-11, where the angle of the cone decreases, forming portion 12, which in turn leads into the section 14, wherein the count takes place. The section 14 is a defined path or passage, through which the aquatic creatures are lead, and may conveniently be a short conduit or tube.

The tube 14 need not be of a specific cross-section and the size is determined by the size of the fishes desired to be counted. Each size will count accurately fishes or other creatures of a particular size range. For minnows, a round tube 14 of 4 inside diameter will count minnows of a size range from about 1 /4" (length) which are slender and tiny, to 4-6" (length) minnows, having a girth such that they will just slide through the tube. This illustrates range. Hence it is to be understood that the size of the passageway is determined by the size being counted.

The passage 14 has windows 14A on one side and MB on the other side of the tube. These windows are aligned along an axis transverse to the axis of passage 14 so that light may pass from one window, thence across passage 14 and into the other window. The windows need not be of any particular shape but it is preferred that they should be circular or rectangular and they should be relatively large, compared with the passageway, so that there is little or no space in the passage which will be outside the light beam passing from window to Window.

Around the tubular portion 10 of the enclosure there is positioned a box generally designated 15, as shown in FIGURE 2, having a dividing wall 16-16 which extends inwardly from the outer wall 17 and reaches into contact with the tube 14-. Curved pieces of transparent material, 18A and 18B through which light may freely pass, are fitted over the windows 14A and B and cemented or otherwise attached to tube 14 so as to make watertight closures over windows 14A and 14B. The box is completed by means of the endw-alls 19 and 20, the latter being fianged at 20a so as to be capable of being removed. It is the objective that the box 15 should provide a watertight space having separate light-tight spaces 21 and another space 22. In the space 21 there is located a light bulb 23 which is connected by the electric leads 24 to an electrical cable 25, which (in this form of the invention) passes out of the apparatus and leads to a power source at a remote location, as shown in FIG- URE 1. In the space 22 there is positioned on a line diametrically opposite the lamp 23, a photo responsive unit 26, which can be a photo electric tube, but preferably is a photo electric cell such as a selenium cell. This form of cell is sometimes known as a barrier layer cell and provides a relatively high signal for a given light change. The photo electric responsive device 26 is likewise provided with the requisite leads 27 which pass through a suitable insulator 28 in the wall 16 and join with the electric leads 24 to form the cable leading to the remote location.

The various walls of the box are made so as to form an entirely water tight container, for the protection of the electrical units thereinQcontained and care is taken likewise that the cable 'should be waterproof and that entrance nipple 29 is-water tight, so that leakage into the box 15 does not occur'inser-vice. Likewise all of the wallsof the container are closed tightly in respect to each other so that the wall 16 forms a light separation between the two spaces 21 and 22 so that no light passes between these spaces except for the light beam which is permitted to pass'through windows 14A and 14B. The box 15 is thus made a part of tube 14 of the enclosure 8.

Accordingly a light beam defined by window 14B passes from light source 23 thence crosses the interior of tube 14 and substantially fills it, and then enters window 14A and impinges upon photo-responsive cell 26. When a minnow, fish or the like aquatic creature passing through tube 14 intercepts all or part of the light cell 26 produces a signal, which is amplified and used to actuate the counter.

The cable 25 is fastened along the exterior surface of the enclosure 10 and extends to a separable connector 31 for readily disconnecting the cable 25 from the cable 32. Cable 32 extends to instrument station at which is located a power supply box generally designated 33. The box 33 preferably contains a battery or other power source-amplifiers suited to the types of photo responsive devices used, a relay mechanism (where needed), and an electrically operated counter.

Referring to FIGURE 4, under the bracket 37 there is schematically illustrated thebox 15 in which space 21 of which is located light bulb 23 which forms the light source. The light therefrom passes through the transparency18B and window 143 and thence through the window 14A and transparency 18A into the compartment 22 in which there is located the photo responsive device 26.

Under the bracket 38, at the instrument station 30 there is located a box generally designated 33 in which the power source, amplifier, relay, and counter mechanisms are contained. The connection between the box 15 and the instrument box 33 at the remote location is indicated underthe bracket 39 which denotes cable 25, connector 31 and cable 32. Thus the cable 25 contains the electrical leads 24 from the lamp 23 and the electrical leads 27 from the photo responsive device 26. If desired a three conductor cable may be used "although a four conductor cable is shown in this illustration. The cable 2531 extends and enters the power supply, amplifier, relay and counter at box 33 at the remote location.

The power supply leads 24 extend through an Off-0n switch 40 and to a battery or other power source 41 suited to the amplifier circuit used. The leads 2727 from the photo electric device extend to the amplifier, which likewise may be of any type suited to the particular photo responsive device that is used. Merely by way of illustration there is shown a two-stage transistor amplifier. The photocell leads 27A and 27B are connected at junctions 42A and 42B. Resistor 44 isconnected from junction 42A to junction 43. Lead 27A connects to the input terminal '45 of transistor 46. Positive voltage is supplied to transistor 46 via junction 47 on line 24B, thence via line-48 to terminal 49 of the transistor 46. From the terminal '50 of the transistor 46, which is the output, the line 51- extends through junction 52 to the input terminal 53 of the second stage transistor 54, line 24A extends from junction 43, through junction 55 to negative battery terminal at56. A resistor 57 is connected between junction 52 on line 51 and junction 55 on line 24A. From junction'58 on the positive battery supply line 24B the line 59 connects to the terminal 60 of the second transistor '54, and from the output terminal 61 of the second transistor 54, an output circuit extends at 62 through the coil 63 of a relay generally designated 64, the other terminal of such coil being connected to negative battery terminal 56. The armature 65 of the relay is normally biased by the spring 66 so as to be against the contact 67. When the power switches "40 and 70 are closed, the relay armature 65 is drawn down to contact 72, which is not used. This is the normal position of the armature 65 when there is no objectinterrupting the light beam in box 37. However when coil-63 is de-energized the armature is sprung open, thereby completing a circuit from thebattery 69 thence through a single pole control switch 70, over line 71 to the armature 65 and thence through the contact 67 and via line 73 to thecoil 74 of the magnetically operated counter mechanism 75, and from the latter the circuit continues via line76 to the positive terminal of the battery 69. Accordingly every time the relay 64 is de-energized, the counter mechanism will be actuated through one count. The two switches 40 and 70 are connected together mechanically by operator 77 so that they can both be opened simultaneously or closed simultaneously. Separate power source 69 is used so that transient effects resulting in the circuit of coil 74 are isolated from the photo cell circuits.

Referring to FIGURES 1 and 2, enclosure 8 is placed on the top of a can such as milk can 81. Since'the ordinary milk can of commerce is frequently used for the handling and transportation of'minnows, the enclosure 8 is preferably made of such a size that it will fit neatly upon the open neck 80 of the can 81. The can 81 is filled with the environmental aquatic fluid in which the creatures are kept, usually water, fresh or sea water, with up to about the'level 82 and'this liquid of coursen'ses within the funnel portions 14, 12 and partly up through the portion 10 above the line 11-11. Theelectrical circuits are then energized by operating the manual operator 77 to close'switches 40 and 70. When the switches 40 and 70 are closed, the circuits are energized and the lamp 23 is illuminated. It will be assumed of course that the two parts of the connector '31 are pushed together so-that the connection of cable 25-32 is complete. The light source 23 is thus illuminated and the apparatus is ready to operate.

In using the device the operator need only ladle the minnows from the holding tank or from wherever they are contained and place them in the open mouth of the enclosure 8 and since this is funnel shaped the operation presents no difliculties. The minnows may be ladled using an ordinary hand typedipnet. Ordinarily they are handled by a dipnet and they will be spilled from the dipnet into the liquid which is standing in the open funnel 10 of the enclosure 8.

It has been discovered in accordance with this invention that the minnows or little fishes, and'even large fishes if the device is made of the size adapted for handling them, will proceed immediately to swim around in the liquid in the enclosure 10 and they immediately seek to find a lower level and very quickly will swim down through the portion \12 then through the tube 14 and out through the outlet of the tube 14 and into the can 81. The swimming'action has beendiscovered to be accentuated when the minnows are crowded in the funnel. As the minnows or other creatures being counted swim downwardly they'move inan axialdirection downwardly through the tube portion 14 and in so doing the-minnow will interrupt the light source between the light '23 and the photo responsive device '26 and'as aresult a signal willbe produced in the latter device which, when'amplified, actuates the counter-mechanism 75 through one count. As more'minnows are ladled 'into the enclosure 8 more will swim out of the bottom.

Ithas been foundfor example that the tubular portion 14 can be of size such that the largestminnowsthat are handled therethrough can just pass through. Such a size will also handle minnows that are very much smaller. Thus a tube 14 having an internal diameter of threequarters of an inch will handle with a high degree of accuracy the counting of minnows ranging from the length of about one and a quarter inches up to the length of four to six inches. The girth of the latter size minnows is frequently sufiicient almost to fill the inside of a tube three-quarters of an inch in diameter, or at least there is not very much space around the minnow. Even so, the smaller minnows are counted accurately, thus an error of not more than one in one thousand in the counting is provided by the apparatus of the present invention. The device shown in FIGURE 1 when not in use can be disconnected from the counting mechanism by separating the connector 3-1. If desired the counting mechanism housing 30 can be located at some fixed remote point and one or a plurality of funnel mechanisms can be used with it, one at a time by providing cabling of requisite length within electronic limitations.

While a funnel shape enclosure is illustrated and While the outlet tube 14 is illustrated as substantially vertical it will be understood that other shapes of enclosures may be utilized so long as the outlet therefrom is sufliciently closed so as to confine the minnows or fishes from jumping out. Thus a slideway provided for handling the minnows in a wet condition may be provided through which the minnows may swim or slide downwardly with provisions being made so that they are protected from flipping out due to their own activity.

Referring to FIGURE 3 there is illustrated another form of the invention in which the counting apparatus is separated into a tank which might be used for holding, or transporting minnows, or a tank such as one that might be used in a retail establishment where minnows are kept for sale. Thus there is provided a tank generally designated 100 having a left cell 101, a right cell 102, the two being defined by a dividing wall 103. A water inlet is provided at 104 into cell 101 and outlet 11-1 is provided in the cell 102, and the latter determines the water level of the entire tank.

The wall 103 is provided at a lower portion thereof with a device such as illustrated in FIGURE 1 namely a funnel member 8 having portions 10-12 leading into a tubular member 14, on which there is located the light box photo cell container 15. The cable 25 from container can most conveniently be run up wall 103 and then through the connector 31 and the cable 32 to the remote location 30 at which there is located the box 33 containing the power source, amplifier, relay and counter mechanism. The wall 103 is thus a barrier between the cells 101 and 102, and connection is made through the tube 14. The fiow of water from cell 101 is thus through the tube 14 to the cell 102.

It has been found in accordance with this invention that the natural action of the minnows is to swim to a lower depth in a tank, here 102, when the minnow is introduced into such tank and the minnow will then explore along the walls of the tank. The minnow desires to swim upstream in respect to a current of water and it will find unit 8, through which such a flow emanates. The minnow then swims into the mouth 10 of the funnel 8 and then through the tube portion 14 and into the cell 101. In so doing each of the minnows passing through the tube 14 interrupts the light passing from the lamp 23 to the photo electric responsive device 26 in the box 15 and causes a count to be registered on the counting mechanism 75.

Minnows that have been raised in outdoor rearing pens under conditions of natural habitat, will be found to be exceedingly active when first placed into a tank and move very quickly from a tank such as cell 102 into an adjacent cell 101, where a fiow of water is provided as herein specified. Minnows which are more accustomed to being confined in a tank will behave more leisurely but will always find the current and move against the current from tank 102 to tank 101. In this manner there is assurance that all minnows placed in a tank such as 102 will, due to their natural activity, move themselves to an adjacent tank and thereby be counted. The count will register all of the minnows entering the tank or cell 101 6 and the count upon which invoicing or inventory is made is thus assured.

In FIGURES 5, 6 and 7 there is illustrated another form of the invention which can be used for fish census, migration studies, and also for inventory counts where large bodies of water are used for rearing etc. In this form of the invention the entire photoelectric responsive devices, power source, relays, counters and switches are preferably placed in one sealed unit, such as unit 100. This unit contains a funnel inlet end 112 leading to passageway tube 114. In the tube 114 there are provided windows 114B and 114A which are aligned transversely across the tube and each window is covered with a transparency, as tranparencies 1 18A and 118B on Windows 114A and 114B, respectively. The container has a closed cell 121 for light source 123 and a closed cell 122 for photo responsive device 126. The container also contains power sources 41 and 69, amplifiers 46 and 54 (and their associated circuits), a relay 64 and a counter 75, which can be connected as shown in FIGURE 4. The chamber 100 has a controller 177 which is a water-tight operator accessible from the exterior of the container 100 and the counter mechanism is so placed as to be visible from the exterior of the container, through window 175.

At the entrance end of the container and around the mouth of funnel portion 112 are a plurality of eyelets 101 to which the small end of a funnel shaped net 103 of appropriate mesh size is attached. At the mouth 104 the funnel shaped net may, if desired, have extending wing nets 105105.

In use the support of the net depends upon whether the location is stationary or mobile. If mobile, two towing vessels are attached at 106 and buoys along the upper edge of the nets 105, 103 and above the container 100 support it appropriately at required depth. If in a stationary location the support is by poles or stakes.

In either mode of use the fish enter between wings 105 (if used) or enter the mouth 104 of funnel net 103 and work down to funnel 112 and thence pass through passage 11-4 and are counted.

As many apparently widely differing embodiments of this invention may be made without departing from the spirit and scope thereof, it is to be understood that I do not specifically limit myself to the embodiment disclosed herein.

We claim as our invention:

1. A device for counting fish and the like mobile aquatic creatures comprising separate adjacent holding and receiving tanks, said holding and receiving tanks being constructed so as to provide space for said creatures to freely swim, a connection between the lower parts of said tanks for conducting a flow of water from the holding tank to the receiving tank, a water delivery supply positioned to deliver a flow of water to the holding tank, said flow continuing through said connection to the receiving tank, said receiving tank being provided with an overflow outlet above said connection for maintaining a prescribed depth of water therein, said connection being shaped so as to converge from a larger cross-sectional area adjacent the receiving tank to a counting passage of minimum cross-sectional area adjacent the holding tank, said counting pasage being constructed so as to provide a path transversely thereof along which a beam of light can be projected, a light source positioned externally in respect to said counting passage for projecting a light beam along said path and photo responsive means positioned externally in respect to said counting passage and located so that said light beam can impinge thereon so as to be activated thereby.

2. The device specified in claim 1 further characterized in that the tanks have a common wall and the connection is made with the large end thereof attached at an opening in said common wall near the bottom of the tanks.

References Cited in thcfile'of this patent device for operating :said device through one counting 10 2,791i862 operation-for each interruption 'of the lightbearn.

UNITED STATES PATENTS 'Cohn Dec. 10,1935 Beggs July '14; 1936 Allen 'Iune 11, 1940 Kielland -Feb. 13, 1945 Potter Sept.r26, 1950 .Hoar Mar. 24, 1953 Shook May14, 1957

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US3150360 *Oct 23, 1961Sep 22, 1964Waukee Eng CoFlowmeter alarm
US3223319 *Nov 18, 1964Dec 14, 1965Bergstrom Robert EMultiple electrode detector
US3367431 *Dec 16, 1965Feb 6, 1968Dorothy H. Prindle BakerSurgical sponge collector with means for counting and weighing sponges
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U.S. Classification377/6, 235/98.00C, 250/221, 377/53, 119/215, 43/100
International ClassificationG06M1/10, G06M7/00, G06M7/02, G06M1/00, G06M7/04
Cooperative ClassificationG06M1/101, A01K61/001, G06M7/04
European ClassificationG06M1/10B, G06M7/04, A01K61/00A