US 3103005 A
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Sept. 3, 1963 R. B. HILLS 3,103,005
PILOT TO WATER SKIER INTERCOM-ALARM Filed March 21, 1960 INVENTOR.
RUSSELL 5. HILLS A 7' TORNE Y5 United States Patent ()fi ice 3,1 03,005 Patented Sept. 3, 1963 3,103,005 PILOT T WATER SKIER INTERCOM ALARM Russell B. Hills, 1542 Robinson Road SE.,
Grand Rapids, Mich. H Filed Mar. 21, 1960, Ser. No. 16,518 1 Claim. (Cl. 340-286) This invent-ion relates in general to an intercommuni'cation and alarm system and, more particularly, to a type thereof which is especially adapted for transmitting information and signals between the pilot of a motorboat and a Water skier being towed by the motorboat, wherein both the pilot and the skier can initiate the transmission of the signals.
The .sports of Water skiing and surfboard riding, wherein the skier or surfiboard rider is toiwed by a motorboat, have been well known and very popular for many years. However, the procedures for efie'cting communication between the skier, for example, and the pilot of the boat, or vice versa, are substantially the same as they were when the sport was first developed to a point where the skier was towed by a motorboat. That is, the signaling or communication has been, and still is, eifected almost entirely by visual and/ or voice signals. In fact, some very elaborate hand and voice signals have been worked out by the American Water Ski Association for conveying information and instructions between the skier and the pilot of the boat.
Voice signals are of limited use, particularly by the skier while the skier is being towed, because they are either drowned out by the noise of the-motor or lost in the slip stream of the boat. Hand signals are usually satisfactory for experienced skiers and pilots, but their eiiectiveness is greatly reduced when they are used by unskilled skiers. In order to maintain his balance, the inexperienced skier often moves his hands and arms in unpredictable patterns which confuse the use of hand signals. Moreover, such a skier frequently needs both hands on the handle of the tow cable at the very time that a hand sign-a1 is required. Furthermore, and far more importantly, hand signals initiated by the skier, and this accounts for the'majority of the emergency signals, are absolutely val-neless until and unless the skier can first attract the attention of the boat pilot. Needless to say, if an emergency arises, as where the skier wishes to return to the shore or get intothe boat, it may be too late when the attention of the pilot has been gained. Of equal importance is the fact that the pilot of the boat cannot be watching where he is driving if he is also keeping his eyes on the skier for the purpose of catching a signal or to see if the skier, particularly where he is a beginner, is still holding onto the cable handle and standing erect. Skiers have been drowned in the past after they have fallen, unnoticed, and have either been left behind or have become tangled in the .tow cable and dragged through the water. Thus, the advantages of a system which notifies the pilot as soon as the skier falls are obvious.
The number of motorboats, both with and without skiers being towed thereby, has increased during the last fifteen or twenty years uht-il it has become very dangerous for the pilot of aboat to take his eyes away from the direction of the movement of the boat, even for the short period of time required to receive a signal from the water skier. It will be recognized that the skier must first become aware that he hasthe pilots attention and must then display the signal. Where two or more skiers are being pulled by the same boat, the need for watching the skiers and the time required in such watching are substantially increased, thereby compounding the resultant dangers.
The numb er of collisions involving motorbioats has been increasing rapidly during recent years. Moreover, there 2 has been an increasing number of injuries and deaths among both skiers and swimmers resulting from the fact that the pilot of the boat cannot simultaneously Watch both the skier and the path along which the boat is moving. At the present time, the unsafe aspects of this problem are sometimes overcome by having at least two persons in the boat, one for piloting the boat and one for watching the skier. However, the extra occu ant in the boat not only slows down the movement of the boat in many instances, but also fails to completely overcome the basic problem. That is, the skier must release his grip to give the signals and the person watchingthe skier must convey the signals iromi the skier to the pilot by voice or other signals which are sometimes inaccurate. Furthermore, for this system to work, the person charged with the responsibility of watching the skier must keep his eyes on the skier at all times.
Accidents, which result in injury or even death to a water skier, could in many instances be avoided if the skier had some means of advising the pilot of the boat that an emergency had occurred, that he desired to com municate with the pilot of the boat and which would automatically advise the pilot of trouble if the skier falls' out of the skiing position.
Accordingly, a primary object of this invention has been the provision of an apparatus whereby a Water skier and the pilot of the boat pulling the skier can communicate with each other quickly and easily without the necessity of having the pilot look away from the direction of movement of the boat either for the purpose of reading a signal or for the purpose of watching for signals which may be given at any time depending upon the needs of the skier.
A" further object of this invention has been the provision of a skier to pilot communication system which will immediately and automatically let the pilot of the boat know if the skier has become disengaged from the tow cable or that any other emergency condition has arisen whereby immediate and abrupt changes in the operation of the motorboat may be required.
A further object of this invention has beer) the provision of a communication system, as aforesaid, which is extremely simple and positive in its opcratioh, which is inexpensive to build and install, which can be adapted for use with existing motorboats, and which does not require any material changes in the type of tow equipment which is presently used and accepted by water skiers.
Other objects and purposes of this invention will becomeapparent to persons familiar with this type of equipment upon reading the following specification and examining the accompanyin g drawings in which:
FIGURE 1 is a broken, rear elevational view of a' motorboat having a tow cable and being equipped with the communication system embodying the invention.
FIGURE 2 is a sectional view taken along the lines 11-11 in FIGURE '1'.
FIGURE 3 is a sectional view taken along the line III'II-I in FIGURE 2.
FIGURE 4 is a fragment or FIGURE 3 showing arts thereof in a dilieren't position of operation.
FIGURE 5 is adiag'ram of the electrical circuitry in the communication system.
FIGURE 6 is a broken, top view of a modified handle structure.
FIGURE 7 is a broken view of a portion-of one type of tow cable used with the inventioli. v
FIGURE 8 is a broken view of a portion of a modified tow cable.
General Description The objects and purposes of the invention, including those set forth above, have been met by providing an I 7 preferably of the normally closed type so that the bell is automatically and immediately energized whenever the towcable handle is released. The master switch, as
well .as a pilot signal switch, are electrically connected to the signal device and mounted in the boat preferably adjacent to the pilots position. I
' e Detailed Construction A preferred embodiment of the invention (FIGURE 1) is illustrated in association with the motorboat 10 and the tow assembly. 11, which includes a tow cable 12 connected at one end to the handle 13. The other end of the cable 12 is connected by a hook 15 to a bridle .16 which is secured'tobrackets 14 mounted upon the transom 17 of said boat 10. The boat 10 maybe of the outboard type,
as shown, or may be a conventional inboard type. The handle .13 (FIGURES 2 and 3) is a substantially elongated bar fabricated from any suitable material, such as plastic, and havingan elongated slot 18 extending into and along the rearward side thereof. The bar 13 has openings 21 and 22, which extend from the opposite ends ofthe slot through the 'front side of the bar for receiving adjacent portions of the tow-cable 12. In this embodi ,ment, the cable 12 is hollow and is fabricated from a flexible material having a high resistance to stretching.
' A normally closed switch 23, which has an elongated actuating arm 24, is mounted within the bottom of the s1ot;18 preferably about midway between the ends thereof, so that said arm 24 extends toward one end of the URE 1) are draped around the'bridle 16' and into the boatltl where they are connected respectively to the audible signalling device'dll (FIGURE 5) and the electric power source 42, such as a battery, which are in turn connected in series with each other by the conductor 43.
, A master switch 44 is connected in the conductor 36 and slot. The switch :23 will be preferably totally enclosed and sealed in any convenient manner to protect its operating parts from damage by water. A manually engageable blade or lever 26'is slidably disposed within the slot 18 and engageable with the actuating arm 24 for opening the switch 23. The blade 26 has a pair of transversely elongated openings 27 and 28 near its opposite ends through which the pins 29 and 30 extend, respectively.
The pins 29 and 30 are secured at their ends to the handle 13 to limit the transverse movement of theblade 26 and to-prevent lengthwise movement of the blade. A pair of springs 33 and 34, which may be identical, are supported upon the pins 29 and 30 and extend around the inner edge of the blade 26 for resiliently resisting inward movement of said blade whereby the opening of said switch. 23 is effected.
. The blade 26 has an integral, inwardly extending boss 35 which engages the inner end wall of the slot 18 and thereby protects both the pins 29 and 30 and the switch 23 against damage resulting from too vigorous an operation of the blade 26'. The blade 26 has a recess 31 adjacent to the boss 35 into which the switch 23 extends. Ashoulder 32 at :one end of the recess 31 is aligned for engagement with that part of the actuating arm 24, which extends sidewardly beyond the body of switch 23, when the blade 26 is moved toward the switch, to operate same.
The'actuating arm 24 on the switch 23 is arranged so that ,a full depression of the blade 26, as appearing in FIGURE 4, will'cause the actuatingarm 24 to engage the switch housing and arch outwardly to prevent damage to.
mounted near the pilot to disconnect the skiers switch.
A normally open pilots signal switch 46 is connected in series with a resistance 47 across the conductors 36 and 37 between the master switch 44 and the bell 33 in conductor 36, and between the switch 23 and the power source 22 in the conductor 37.
A pilot light. 48 (FIGURE 5) may be placed in the conductor 36 between the pilot switch 46 and the audible signalling device 40, if desired. The master switch 44, pilot switch 46 and pilot light 48, where used, are pref erably mounted upon the instrument panel 49 (FIGURE 1) of the boat 10. The audible signalling device 40 is preferably mounted near the rear end of the boat, where it is closest to the skier. I I
If the tow cable 12 is fabricated from a material which will stretch, as most cables will, either when under a heavy load or after a sustained period of use, it will be advantageous to provide an excess amount of the conductors 36 and 37 within the tow cable 12 to prevent breakage of said conductors when the cable 12 stretches. This may be accomplished, as shown in FIGURE 7, by having portions 51 of the conductors 36a and 37a pro trude through openings in the side of the'cable 12a, which openings are created by spreading apart the strands of the cable. Alternatively, a'substantially rigid sleeve 52 (FIGURE 8) may be inserted into the cable 12a so that the conductors 36a and. 37a can be folded upon themselves within the sleeve. In this manner, the elfective length of the conductors 36a and 37:: can be increased upon demand, as the cable 12a stretches, without damaging the conductors. This arrangement is particularly useful where the tow cable is of the type in which the diameter of its lengthwise opening is reduced when a tension is applied thereto, thereby limiting the movement of the conductors through the cables when it is needed most. The sleeve 52 (FIGURE 8) or, alternatively, the lateral projections 51 of the conductors 36a and 37a (FIGURE 7) will be located along the cable 12a at convenient intervals, as may be desired or required.
Operation With the cable 12 (FIGURE 11) secured to the transom of the motorboat 10 and with the electrical circuitry connected as shown in FIGURE 5, the communication system can be placedin operating condition and checked for proper operation by closing the master switch 44'. Since the switch 23 isnormally closed, closure of switch 44 imductors 36 and 37, which extend through the two cables I '12 and the'portion 38' thereof, connected to the handle 13. The other ends of the conductors 36 and 37 (FIG- The motorboat 10 can now be moved away from the I skier until the cable 12 is under tension and, by releasingthe pressure on the blade 26, the skier can close switch 23 which sounds the audible signalling device 40 and thereby signals the pilot of the boat to accelerate the boat. By appropriate manipulation of the blade 26, hence the switch 23 and the signalling device 40, the skier can let the boat pilot know when and what the skier wishes to do without releasing his grip upon the tow rope handle. The sound of the signalling device will be normally caught in the slip stream of the boat and carried back to the skier so that he can determine whether'his signals are being heard by the pilot and whether his operation of the switch 23 is resulting in the desired operation of the signalling device. .On the other hand, if the pilot wishes to sig- I nal the skier, he can so do by closing his pilot switch 46 and the resultant sounding of the signalling device will be carried back to the skier in the same manner.
It will be observed that these operations, whereby signals can be passed back and forth between the pilot and skier, do not require the pilot to turn around in his seat and to look back at the skier. In fact, the pilot can devote his entire attention to the operation and guiding of the boat, except when the signalling device is sounded and, even then, the pilot does not have to divert his eyes from the direction of his movement in order to receive the signal, answer it if necessary, and then carry out the maneuver required by the signal.
It the skier falls, he will normally release his grip upon the handle 13, thereby permitting the springs 33 and 34 to urge the blades 26 away from the switch 23 whereby the switch closes and automatically and immediately rings the signalling device 40. Thus, the pilot is immediately notified that something is wrong and, more particularly, that he has lost his skier.
As shown in FIGURE 6, an alternate handle construction 57 has a blade slot 58 in its front edge and a switch actuating lever 59 disposed in said slot. The lever 59 has one or more projections 61 which extend frontwardly out of the slot 8 for engagement by one finger of a hand which grasps the handle 57. In such case, no positive effort is required to open the switch associated with the blade 58 since a mere embracing of the handle 13 for the purpose of hanging on will move the blade 59 into the slot 58.
It will be recognized that other modifications of this character can be made in the disclosed structure. Accordingly, although particular preferred embodiments of the invention have been disclosed above in detail for illustrative purposes, it will be understood that variations or modifications of such disclosures, which lie Within the scope of the claim, are fully contemplated.
What is claimed is:
An apparatus for eifeoting communication between a water skier and the pilot of a boat towing said water skier, comprising: an elongated tow rope connectable at one end thereof to the boat; a manually engageable handle secured to the other end of the tow rope, said handle having an elongated hand grip portion secured to said tow rope, said hand grip portion having an elongated recess therein; said hand grip portion having a side from which the tow rope extends, and around which the fingers of a users hand may pass, said side being adapted to be adjacent to the boat, said hand grip portion having an opposed side adapted to be remote from the boat and adjacent to which the thumbs of a users hands may be positioned, said recess being an elongated slot in said remote side, said slot extending substantially between the ends of said hand grip portion; a switch mounted within said hand grip portion; an elongated switch actuator blade disposed in said slot for movement transverse to the lengthwise extent of said slot, said blade extending close to the ends of said slot and being engageable by the thumbs of the users hands, movement of said switch actuator within said recess effecting actuation of said switch; resilient means urging said switch actuator into one position with respect to said hand grip portion; electrical conductors connected to said switch and extending therefrom along said tow rope; a source of electrical energy; an electrically operated signalling device connected in circuit with said source and said switch whereby actuation of said switch effects operation of said signalling device.
References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,175,389 Hanff Oct. 10, 1939 2,324,844 Hutt July 20', 1943 2,732,543 Mogren Jan. 24, 1956 2,745,088 Baver May 8, 1956 2,776,443 Howard Jan. 8, 1957 2,865,978 Modrey Dec. 23, 1958 2,914,018 Schachner et a1 Nov. 24, 1959 2,994,861 Reinhardt et al. Aug. 1, 1961 3,021,513 Lankey Feb. 13, 1962 OTHER REFERENCES Popular Mechanics, March 1959, pages 156 and 157. (Copy available in Scientific Library.)