US 3061393 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
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United States Patent Ofilice 3,031,393 Patented Oct. 30, 1962 3,961,393 HIE VENDING MACHINE Gerald E. Hileman, Highland Heights, Ky., assignor to lfhlson Industries, 1116)., Cincinnati, Ohio, 21 corporatron of Ohio Filed Nov. 10, i958, Ser. No. 77.3,ii06 4 Claims. (Cl. 312-971) This invention relates to vending machines of the type adapted to dispense bagged ice, charcoal or the like, which, upon being actuated by the insertion of the proper coinage, automatically move a pre-measured quantity of packaged goods from a storage area to a location at which the purchaser has convenient access to them so that he may remove them from the machine.
Machines adapted to dispense merchandise articles which are of small size have long been known; the familiar candy machine is a typical illustration of such a machine. More recently, automatic vending machines which are adapted to dispense merchandise of larger bulk have come into use. Of these, the automatic ice-vending machine is perhaps the most common. The great utility of such bulk-item vending machines, especially in suburban areas, becomes apparent when one considers the pattern of sales of, for example, ice, over a period of time. In areas where the demand for block and chipped ice is not heavy, such sales as these inherently tend to be irregular. Ice is often needed near dinner time and frequently late in the evening; weekends and holidays are also times of high demand. Ice sales thus peculiarly tend to move somewhat inversely to normal sales patterns. Furthermore, ice is a high bulk item that sells at a low unit price. Each sale requires a relatively large physical effort in handling the ice, in moving it from a refrigerated storage area to the purchasers car, for instance. In view of the effort and time of the vendor expended, each individual sale of a bag of ice produces little profit. Parenthetieally, it may be noted that charcoal is similarly situated in these respects; sales of charcoal and ice follow a common pattern.
Because of considerations such as these, the installation of automatic ice-vending machines in suburban areas is becoming increasingly frequent. Low-profit fungible merchandise which displays an irregular sale pattern is inherently well suited for utilization with automatic selling methods. A vending machine is open for business twenty-four hours a day, year round. It may be installed as an integral part of a pony keg or similar store or may be situated by itself, apart from any adjacent store. At any rate, it makes life easier for the merchant who is thereby permitted to be in absentia for extended periods of time, during which time business will continue as usual.
However, the very reasons which make it desirable to provide a machine to dispense ice paradoxically also make it difficult to perfect that machine. Ice is generally sold in twenty-five pound quantities, which demands that the vending machine be of rugged construction. Ice, being bulky, requires a large amount of storage space. If the machine is truly to free the vendor from attending to each individual sale, then the machine must be entirely automatic; it must accurately receive the proper pay, move the correlative predetermined measure of ice from the storage area to a point at which it is accessible to the vendee, and it must recycle, that is, it must ready itself for a subsequent sale involving the same steps. Finally, it must be of sufliciently ingenious construction to withstand the onslaught of explorative children and reeloaders alike. While there are machines now in use which do, in fact, accomplish all of the foregoing, they uniformly suffer from the common characteristic of being highly complex and, therefore, quite expensive to produce and maintain. In a sense this defeats their commercial utility, for it is of no economic avail to make a heavy capital outlay to purchase a machine which is to sell only low-profit slow-moving items.
The present invention is particularly directed to the provision of a vending machine which is relatively inexpensive to produce yet which at the same time attains the other desirable objectives. That is, this invention provides a vending machine which is uncomplicated in comparison with those heretofore existing, yet whichis fully as functional.
Briefly put, the vending machine of this invention is based on the concept of storing the merchandise in openended cans or containers which are situated around a large central drum or wheel. The drum, when caused to rotate, positions a filled can in an opening in the enclosing housing, whence the goods may be removed.
Further explanation of the invention in its details is best undertaken with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is a side elevation of the housing containing the dispensing mechanism, the outer walls of the housing being partly broken away to show their construction.
FIG. 2 is a top plan of the housing, the roof of which is partly broken away.
FIG. 3 is a vertical sectional view through the housing, showing the internal details of the invention.
FIG. 4 shows the invention in horizontal section through the housing.
FIG. 5 is an enlarged side view of the door through which the vendee obtains possession of the goods he has purchased.
FIG. 6 is an enlarged end View of the door showing the shutter plate release.
FIG. 7 is a schematic circuit diagram showing the manner in which the various electrical elements of the invention are interconnected.
Referring again to FIG. 1, the dispensing mechanism proper is enclosed within a housing designated 10 generally. The housing has end walls 11, a front 12 and back 13. .The roof 14 is preferably bowed as is shown in the drawing so that rain and falling leaves will not accumulate on it. The construction of the housing is conventional and, for example, may be of vertical studding 15 overlaid with sheet metal siding 16 on both the inside and outside of the studding, so that an insulative material 17 may be placed inside of each wall and the roof.
While the mechanism of this invention may be used to dispense a number of items, hereinafter it will be disclosed as an ice-vending machine. When intended for that purpose, a refrigerating unit 18 is used to maintain the temperature inside the housing at a level below freezing. Insulation 17 such as the rock wool shown is used to help retain the low temperature. At the front 12 of the vending unit is located a loading door 20', itself insulated and mounted on hinges 21, by opening which the vendor is enabled to fill the vending machine with ice as desired. This door normally remains locked by the mechanism shown at 22. A second door 23, which is an access door, is also mounted in the housing and may conveniently, although not necessarily, be mounted in the loading door 20 itself. The access door 23 contains a window 24 through which the contents of the machine are visible. By opening the access door, the customer may take possession of the ice which he has purchased. This'door is spring loaded so as to automatically'return to a closed position, but itmay be opened at any time; that is, it does not lock. As will be subsequently explained, at any given time only a single pre-measured quantity of ice is accessible through the access door, an additional measure of merchandise being moved into position only upon the insertion of a second payment into the machine. FIG. 3 illustrates the merchandise-containing and transporting assembly generally indicated at 25. In essence, this comprises two concentric rings of large open-ended cans 26, of a size sufficient to admit the merchandise, positioned horizontally about a large central drum 27, the axes of the cans being parallel to the aims of the drum. The inner ring 28 of cans is in tangential contact with the circumference 30 of the drum 27.
The diameter of the drum and the diameter of the cans are so related that each can stationed around the drum in the innermost ring 28 is in tangential contact with each adjacent can as well as with the circumference 30 of the drum. Around the outside of the inner ring of cans 28, the second, or outer ring of cans 31 is positioned so that each can of this second ring 31 is in tangential contact with two adjoining members of the inner ring of cans 28. So located, each outer can resides, re, 18 nested, in the crevice 32 between adjoining cans of the inner ring, the imaginary lines connecting the centers of the three cans forming an equilateral triangle. Each can is adapted to hold a single sale unit of merchandise. For example, a single bag of ice 33 18 contained within each can 26. The storage capacity of the vending machine is thus directly related to the number of cans n this assembly. (The machine may be constructed, it will be seen, to have any number of concentric rings of cans. In the embodiment shown, there are two rings, numbered 28 and 31 respectively, but it should be understood that the principle involved may be extended to the utilization of a greater or lesser number of r ngs of cans.)
l have found that these respective elements may most conveniently be held in the above described relationshlp by tangentially encircling the outer ring of cans 31 with a flexible strap 34 of adjustable length, the two ends of which are held together by a turnbuckle 35 or other similar length-shortening means. As the turnbuckle 1s tlghtened, the effective length of the strap is decreased, which in turn causes the strap to exert a radially inward force at the locus of points 36 at which it contacts each can. Thus, the outer cans are forced radially inward 111110 contact with the inner ring of the cans, holding them tightly against the drum 27. Depending upon the lengths of the cans it may be desirable to use two or more of these straps to hold the cans; two are shown in lflG. 4.
The drum 27 is fabricated of two end pieces 37 of encular outline of the specified diameter which are spaced apart from one another by a set of rods 38 extending between the end pieces at right angles to them. The cans 26 are simply sheet metal cylinders of diameter sufiicient to internally receive the premeasured quantlties of the goods to be dispensed. For example, the diameter is such that a bag of crushed or block ice 33 may be placed in each can. The length of each can is slightly greater than the length of the goods which it is to contain. The drum ends 37 are spaced apart at a distance somewhat less than the length of the cans so that the cans bear against the circumferences 30 of the drum ends.
The drum has a central axle 40 extending through it along its geometric axis and protruding slightly beyond each end of the drum. This axle is rotatable in a set of pillow blocks 41 located at each end of the axle 40. Each set of pillow blocks 41 is carried on a standard 42 holding it approximately midway between the floor 43 and roof 14 of the housing. The assembly 25 made up of the cans and the drum may be rotated in the housing about this axle. In use, the drum assembly is sequentially rotated to positions at which a can containing merchandise is positioned directly behind the access door 23 so that the customer simply by opening the access door may reach in and draw out his goods from the can. In other words, the drum is rotationally indexed at the rate of one can per payment.
The drum assembly 25 is driven by an electric motor 44, the rotational speed of which is reduced by a gear 4 the drum and is connected to the drive sprocket 46 by a chain belt 48.
The access door 23 is of a length equal to two can diameters. At any given moment, two cans are positioned side by side in the door opening. in order that only one of these two cans will be accessible to the customer, a shutter 59 is interposed between the door 23 and the cans 26. After the drum has rotated 369 degrees, that is, after all the cans in one ring have been emptied, it is the function of this shutter automatically to open and thereby make accessible the cans of the second adjacent ring which is still unemptied. It is preferred that the outer ring of cans be first accessible and that the shutter expose the inner ring after the outer ring has been emptied. In such an embodiment, this shutter, as shown in FIG. 5, comprises a plate 51 pivotally attached to the housing at one lower corner as at 52. Latch means 53 are presented at a second corner of the plate. These may consist simply of a finger 54 having a notch or indent 55 on it. The plate 51 is held in the closed position by locking means 56 shown in FIG. 6. These hold the plate over the filled ring of merchandise until the outer exposed ring of cans is completely empty. Then, at that time, the locking means 56 release the finger 54 permitting the plate to turn about the pivot 52 under the influence of gravity, swinging downwardly away from the access door opening into the position indicated by the dashed lines at 57. The locking means 56 are mounted on the loading door 29 and consist of a pivotable bar 58 adapted to engage the notch 55 on the finger 54 presented by the plate. The bar 58 so engaging the notch, the plate is normally prevented from swinging about its pivot 52. The bar is spring loaded as at 69 whereby it is urged into engagement with the notch. A solenoid 61 is attached to the bar opposite the spring 6t} and, when energized, moves the bar against the load of the spring out of engagement with the notch 55 so that the plate is permitted to fall away from the opening, turning about its pivot 52. it will be understood that the means explained are only rep resentative and that any conventional automatic release is suitable. As disclosed, the drum and can assembly contains only two rings of drums. Should it be desired that the vending machine be of less capacity, the assembly may contain only a single ring of cans. in that instance, the provision of the shutter mechanism is superfluous and is entirely omitted, inasmuch as its function is solely to make accessible an adjacent filled ring of cans as a prior ring is emptied. On the other hand, should it be desired to construct a vending machine of greater capacity than the one disclosed, there may equally well be more than two rings of cans, each outer ring being concentric with the drum. In that case, it is necessary to provide more than one shutter, each shutter making accessible only a single ring of cans. However, as the principle involved is substantially similar, it is unnecessary to further describe it here.
The invention may be further specified in relation to its operating circle and control system. A customer who opens the access door 23 without first inserting payment will find only an empty can positioned in the door opening, that can having been emptied by a preceding customer. If the shutter solenoid 61 has been previously energized, as it would if the outer ring had been emptied, then he will be confronted with two empty cans, the shutter plate finger 54 having been released. If the solenoid has not been energized, as when the first ring of cans has not yet been entirely emptied, then the shutter plate will prevent him from having access to a still filled can. In any event, then, until payment has been inserted, no mechandise may be obtained.
When a coin or coins of the proper denomination are inserted into the coin slot 62, the motor 44 is energized so that it rotates the drum and can assembly, through the chain belt 48 and sprockets 46 and 47 to an automatically indexed position at which the next adjacent can of the same ring becomes positioned behind the door 23. The customer may then withdraw his goods from that can through the access door and the machine remains inactive until further payment is made. The control, or indexing, means of the circuit must, in essence, be such as to shut oif the motor at the proper moment to position this second can in the access door opening. From FIG. 3 it may be seen that the angular distance between adjacent cans of the inner ring is equal to that between adjacent cans of the outer ring, according to the fact that there are like numbers of cans in each ring. Therefore, the duration of the period of operation of the motor is independent of which particular ring is being emptied. Furthermore, by reason of the method in which cans of the outer ring are nested partially between cans of the inner ring, there is a certain position at which the line connecting the centers of an inner ring can and the adjacent outer ring can is horizontal. By positioning the access door in the housing at the position indicated by the dotted lines 63 in FIG. 3, the cans positioned in the door opening will be side by side rather than staggered. While so locating the door is not essential, it does provide a somewhat neater arrangement and facilitates the use of an access door of smaller dimension.
The sequence of events occurring upon the insertion of payment is most conveniently described in reference to the circuit schematically shown in FIG. 7. The coins, when inserted, drop down a chute (not shown) and in so doing hit a momentary contact switch 64,, normally open, causing it to be closed, thereby providing a momentary impulse. The. momentary impulse is directed to the coil 65 of a relay 66, energizing it, from which the impulse flows through the normally closed pole of a drum control switch 67, the nature of which will be subsequently explained. The current then returns to the leads 68, having completed its circuit in the machine.
The relay 66 is of the double pole, single throw type, having movable contacts 7%} and 71. When current is permitted to flow through the coil 65 the contacts are closed; when the coil current ceases, the contacts open. The impulse in the coil draws both the contacts 70 and 71 to positions in which they close circuits. To the normally open side of contact 71 is wired a jumper 72 such that when the impulse energizes the coil 65, the jumper 72 and coil 65 are brought into a closed circuit whereby the coil remains energized beyond the duration of the momentary impulse.
One terminal of motor 44 is connected through normally closed safety switch 80 to lead 68, and its other terminal is connected to the normally open pole 73 of the drum control switch 67 and to the normally open pole of contact 70 of relay 66. Contact 7% is connected to the other lead 68. It will be seen that motor 44 is energized when either contact 70 or the drum control switch 67 is in the normally open position. Thus, when an impulse from momentary contact switch 64 is passed through coil 65, jumper 72 is wired into the circuit so that coil 65 remains energized thereafter, and the motor is energized through the normally open terminal of contact 70.
It is the function of the drum control switch 67 to disconnect the solenoid coil 65 from the circuit and to shut down the motor at the appropriate instant. As the drum and can assembly is of considerable mass, it will have a certain rotational momentum and will continue to rotate for a short distance after the motor is cut ofi. Therefore, allowance must be made for this in order that the drum will coast to a position in which a can is accurately positioned behind the access door. The drum control switch is a micro-switch mounted in a fixed position in which it is actuated by switch pegs 75 projecting outwardly from and perpendicular to the drum end plate 37. It may conveniently be mounted on the standard 42 supporting .the drum, adjacent the drum end as is shown in FIGURE 3. The switch pegs are afiixed in spaced intervals around the circumference of the drum, one peg corresponding to each pair of cans. As the motor rotates the drum, each peg will come into contact with the drum control switch, actuating it and thereby moving the switch contact to the normally open pole 73 from the normally closed pole 74. This contact made, the motor is merely connected through pole 73 rather than through contact 70, and so continues to run. However, the relay coil 65, which is wired to the other (or normally closed) pole 74 of the drum control switch, is then de-energized so that the movable relay contacts 70 and 71 move back to their normally closed positions. As the motor continues to run, the peg moves ofl the switch 67 and the switch then returns to its normally. closed position, throwing the motor into an open circuit, inasmuch as now both contacts 73 and 70 are open. While one side of the coil is wired to the normally closed side 74 of the drum control switch, its other side is wired to the momentary impulse switch 64 which is normally open, so that the coil remains inactive. The motor at this point stops and ends the cycle.
The locations of the pegs on the drum ends with re spect to the cans should be adjusted to be such that when a given peg moves off of the switch the motor will then coast until its corresponding pair of cans are positioned in the access door opening.
It is desirable to include an empty light 76 which will go on when all of the cans in the assembly have been emptied. This is conveniently provided by the use of an impulse counter 79 wired in parallel with the relay 66. This device, as connected, counts the number of impulses passing through it from the momentary contact switch 64. After a number of impulses pass through it equal to the number of cans in the assembly, it closes a switch lighting an empty light 76. This warns the customer that the vending machine is empty so that he will not deposit any money in it.
The shutter solenoid 61 is actuated by a single shutter peg 77 on the drum end 37 which upon contacting a shutter switch 78 once per revolution, energizes the solenoid '61 and causes the plate 50 to be released from bar 58. The drum and can assembly is to be initially set' in an orientation whereby peg 77 will contact the switch 78 only after all the cans of the outer ring have been emptied;
otherwise, when the plate was released, there would be accessible two filled cans of merchandise through the access door.
To avoid the possibility of a customer putting his hand in .through the access door while the machine isrotating a can into position for him, a safety switch 80 is wired in series with the motor 44. This micro-switch is normally closed but opens when the access door is opened, so that the motor stops while the door is open. The rest of the circuitry remains unaffected by the opening or closing of this switch, however, and is held in suspension so that when the door is again closed the motor will resume its rotation as before.
A normally open by-pass switch 81 is wired in parallel with the drum control switch 67. By manually opening or closing this switch 8 1, the vendor may rotate the assembly as he desires in re-loading the machine after it has been emptied.
The above circuitry is preferred; however, one skilled in the art may readily conceive of equivalent operative circuitry.
While a single vending machine may be enclosed in its own separate housing, it need not be so enclosed. For example, several vending machines constructed in accordance with this invention may be mounted in the same single enclosure, each one adjacent a different wall of the structure. So located, one machine might be loaded with charcoal, another with ice, and so on. Most importantly, however, the mechanism represents a notable simplification in comparison with other presently existing bulkitem vending machines. It is a relatively uncomplicated assembly which provides all the operational features here- '7 tofore made available only by the use of highly complex arrangements.
Having described my invention, I claim:
1. A coin vending machine comprising, a housing, an axially rotatable drum within said housing, an inner ring of merchandise receptacles stationed around the periphery of said drum, an outer ring of merchandise receptacles stationed around said inner ring of receptacles, the axes of said receptacles being parallel to the axis of said drum, at least one flexible strap encircling said outer ring of receptacles, said strap having length-shortening means whereby it may be tightened about said receptacles so as to hold them in fixed relationship with said drum, each of said receptacles having an open end which is adjacent to a wall of said housing, an opening in a wall of said housing opposite to the open end of a receptacle located in said inner ring and to the open end of an adjacent receptacle located in said outer ring, one receptacle of each ring normally being positioned adjacent said open ing, means for automatically rotating said drum upon actuation of such means by a coin to position another receptacle in each ring adjacent said opening, shutter means interposed between said opening and one of said rings, and means for causing said shutter means to move from said interposed position only when all the receptacles of the other ring have been emptied.
2. A coin vending machine comprising, an axially rotatable drum, a housing enclosing said drum, an inner ring of cans stationed in side by side relationship around the circumference of said drum, an outer ring of cans stationed around said inner ring of cans in such manner that each can of said outer ring is in tangential contact with two adjacent cans of Said inner ring, an opening in a wall of said housing opposite to one end of a can of said inner ring and to one end of an adjacent can of said outer ring, at least one can of each ring of cans positioned adjacent said opening at any time, means for automatically indexing said drum upon actuation of such means by a coin to position another can in each ring adjacent said opening, shutter means interposed between said opening and the adjacent can of said inner ring of cans, said shutter means comprising a pivotable plate having a catch, and means for releasing said catch thereby permitting said plate to pivot only when all the cans of the outer ring have been emptied to give access to said adjacent can of said inner ring.
3. A coin vending machine comprising, an axially rotatable drum, a housing enclosing said drum, an inner ring of cans stationed in side by side relationship around the circumference of said drum, an outer ring of cans stationed around said inner ring of cans in such manner that each can of said outer ring is in tangential contact with two adjacent cans of said inner ring, at least one fiexible strap encircling said outer ring of receptacles, said strap having length-shortening means whereby it may be tightened about said receptacles so as to hold them in fixed relationship with said drum, an opening in a wall of said housing opposite to one end of a can of said inner ring and to one end of an adjacent can of said outer ring, at least one can of each ring of cans positioned adjacent said opening at any time, means for automatically indexing said drum upon actuation of such means by a coin to position another can in each ring adjacent said opening, shutter means interposed between said opening and the adjacent can of said inner ring of cans, said shutter means comprising a pivotable plate having a catch, and means for releasing said catch thereby permitting said plate to pivot only when all the cans of the outer ring have been emptied to give access to said adjacent can of said inner ring.
4. A coin vending machine comprising, an axially rotatable drum, a housing enclosing said drum, a plurality of concentric rings of cans stationed around said drum, the axes of said cans being parallel to the axis of said drum, at least one flexible strap encircling the outermost of said rings of cans and holding said cans in fixed relation with said drum, an opening in a wall of said housing opposite to one end of proximate cans in each of said rings, means for rotationally indexing said drum upon actuation of such means by a coin to sequentially position a can of each ring adjacent said opening at any time, shutter means interposed between said opening and a proximate can in one ring, and means to cause said shutter means to open as another ring of cans is emptied thereby making a can of an adjacent unemptied ring of cans accessible through said opening.
References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS 916,795 'Shafer Mar. 30, 1909 1,364,449 Norton Jan. 4, 1921 1,505,441 Smith Aug. 19, 1924 2,133,430 Cox et al. Oct. 18, 1938 2,474,053 Johnson et al. June 21, 1949 2,640,574 Frankle June 2, 1953 2,811,916 Guilleminot ct al. Nov. 5, 1957 2,809,083 Goodyear Oct. 8, 1957