US 3229059 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Jan. 11, 1966 L. BEATTY 3,229,059
UNIVERSALLY PIVOTED SWITCH ACTUATOR MECHANISM Filed Sept. 13, 1963 I/IIIIIIIIIIII INVEN TOR.
lllllll-lllll m w y. w mm m A A Md w Y B M J a 5 b United States Patent 3,229,059 UNIVERSALLY PIVOTED SWITCH ACTUATOR MECHANISM David L. Beatty, 10712 E. 84th Terrace, Raytown, M0. Filed Sept. 13, 1963, Ser. No. 308,848 2 Claims. (Cl. ZOO-61.41)
This invention relates to new and useful improvements in electrical switch mechanisms, and has particular reference to a switch mechanism particularly adapted to be operated by invalids such as paralytics having minimal usage of their bodies. For example, some might have voluntary control only of their head movements, or of one arm or one leg, and even this control may be only partial or imperfect.
The primary object of this invention is, therefore, the provision of a switch mechanism adapted to be operated by such an invalid regardless of the type of disability he may have, so long as he has at least minimal voluntary control of any member of his body. To this end, the mechanism forming the subject matter of the present invention includes a switch housing adapted to be supported adjacent the portion of his body which the invalid can control, and having an antenna projecting therefrom, said housing having therein switch contacts which are operable to be closed by movement of said antenna in any direction. Thus, so long as the invalid can touch and move the antenna with his body, he can operate the switch. The switch, through suitable electric apparatus forming no part of the present invention in itself, may control a large number of functions not ordinarily available to such an invalid. For example, it may be utilized to control room lights, operate a signal to call a nurse, control a radio or television set, operate a telephone, and many others.
Other objects are simplicity and economy of con-struction, efficiency and dependability of operation, and adaptability for use in a wide variety of applications.
With these objects in view, as well as other objects which will appear in the course of the specification, reference will be had to the accompanying drawing, wherein:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a switch mechanism embodying the present invention suspended in operative position about the neck of an invalid patient,
FIG. 2 is a sectional view through the housing of the mechanism taken on a plane parallel to the base thereof, being taken substantially on line IIII of FIG. 3, with parts broken away and foreshortened,
FIG. 3 is a sectional view taken substantially on line IIIIII of FIG. 2,
FIG. 4 is an enlarged fragmentary sectional view taken on line IV-IV of FIG. 3, with the switch open,
FIG. 5 is 'a fragmentary view similar to FIG. 4, but with the switch closed, and
FIG. 6 is a fragmentary sectional view taken on line VI-VI of FIG. 2.
Like reference numerals apply to similar parts throughout the several views, and the numeral 2 applies generally to the housing of the switch mechanism forming the subject matter of the present invention. Said housing includes a planar base 4, square as shown, and a correspondingly shaped hollow cover 6 secured to said base by a pair of screws 8, said base and cover preferably being formed of a strong, light weight material such as plastic. Fixed to base 4 within the housing, by a pair of screws 10, is a metal plate 12 having a pair of upturned ears 14 and 16. Mounted rigidly on ear 14 by bolt 18 is a switch case 20 formed of insulating material. Mounted in said case are a fixed contact 22, and a movable contact 24 mounted at one end of a spring Patented Jan. 11, 1966 arm 26 which is fixed at its opposite end in case 20. Said spring arm is engaged intermediate its ends by the enlarged foot 28 of an elongated plunger 30 which is carried for longitudinal sliding movement in a hole 32 provided therefor in case 20. The axis of said plunger is disposed generally at right angles to spring arm 26, and said spring arm is tensioned so that it normally urges plunger 30 outwardly and holds contact 24 out of engagement with contact 22. However, plunger 30 extends outwardly from case 28, and it will be understood that inward pressure on said plunger will flex arm 22 to move contacts 22 and 24 into engagement. The outer end of said plunger is hemispherically rounded as shown. Contacts 22 and 24 have a pair of wires 34 and 36 connected respectively thereto, said wires being combined in a single flexible trailing cable 38 which emerges from housing 2 through an aperture 4%) formed in cover 6. It will be understood that said cable is connected to the mechanism to be controlled, said controlled mechanism in itself forming no part of the present invention.
Plunger 30 is axially aligned with a hole 42 formed in ear 16 of plate 12, and the hemispherically rounded outer end of said plunger is engaged pivotally in a socket 44 formed centrally in a rocker plate 46 having the form of a circular disc. Said rocker plate is disposed between car 16 and plunger 30, and is urged against said car by said plunger as said plunger is urged outwardly by spring arm 26. Hole 42 is of course of smaller diameter than said rocker plate. Socket 44 is of such depth that the center of curvature of the rounded end of plunger 3h lies in the plane of the surface of the rocker plate which engages ear 16, for a reason which will presently appear.
Rocker plate 46 is provided with an axially extending rod 48 projecting outwardly through hole 42 of ear 16. As shown, said rod is integral with the plate, but could be separate and rigidly attached thereto. An antenna 50 consisting of a closed helical spring 51 withits adjacent convolutions in engagement is fitted snugly at its inner end over rod 48, and extends outwardly from housing 2 through a hole 52 formed therefor in cover 6 at one of the upper corners thereof. A spherical ball 54 of cork or other light weight material is attached to the outer end of spring 51. If desired, spring 51 may be covered with a tubular sheath 56 of flexible plastic, which prevents dirt from collecting in the convolutions of the spring and alleviates the psychologically bad impression created when bare metal parts project from an electric switch. I
The metal plate 12 which supports switch case 20 in housing 2 is provided additionally with a pair of ears 58 which project outwardly from housing 2 adjacent but respectively at opposite sides of antenna 50, as best shown in FIG. 2. Externally of the housing, each of said cars is formed to present a hook 60. A flexible strap 62 has each end thereof doubled on itself and sewed to form a loop 64, said loops each being adapted to engage one of hooks 70. A stabilizing plate 66 of steel or other relatively heavy material corresponds to the shape of housing base 4, and is adapted to be removably affixed to the outer surface of said base by any suitable means such as screws 68 (see FIG. 3). A layer of soft rubber or other material is affixed to the outer surface of plate 66, as an antiskid provision.
It will be seen that with the mechanism as described supported adjacent any portion of a patients body over which he has voluntary control, even minimal control of his body will permit him to engage and move hall 54 in one direction or another. This causes antenna 50 to tilt, and thence to tilt rocker plate 46 against the pressure of plunger 30 and spring arm 26. Antenna 543 could of course be rigid, but forming it of a flexible spring avoids possible gouging of the patient with resultant discomfort. It will of course be understood that spring 51 is sutficiently rigid to cause rocker plate 46 to tilt before the antenna itself flexes to any appreciable degree. Tilting of rocker plate 46 in any direction, as shown in FIG. 5, causes said rocker plate to act as a cam, forcing plunger 30 inwardly against the pressure of spring arm 26, thereby bringing contact 24 into engagement with contact 22 to close the switch. It will be seen that a direct axial pressure on the antenna will also close the switch.
Engagement of plunger 30 in socket 44 of the rocker plate provides that the rocker plate will always be accurately centered with respect to the plunger. Any olfcenter movement of the plunger on the rocker plate is to be avoided, since this would cause the movement of antenna 50 to be more difficult, that is to require more force, in some directions than in others. The rocker plate could possibly be centered accurately over the plunger by providing a very accurate centering connection between said rocker plate and the bracket arm 16 which supports it. However, this would require very accurate placement of switch case 20 and plunger with respect to arm 16, which is not always possible by normal production methods, and would also introduce the possibility of friction and binding between the rocker plate and arm 16, which would render operation of the switch less dependable and more subject to malfunction. With the present structure, hole 42 of .arm 16 may be made substantially larger than the socketed portion of the rocker plate, so that any misalignment of said hole from plunger 30 which might occur due to inaccuracies of production would have no adverse effect on the operation of the switch. Rounding the outer end of plunger 30, and the corresponding shape of socket 44, provides a smooth, nearly frictionless operation. Placing the center of curvature of the round plunger end flush with the surface of the rocker plate which engages arm 16, as previously described, has the effect of reducing the lateral sliding movement of the rocker plate on arm 16, which must occur in some degree each time the rocker plate is tilted, to a bare minimum. This further increases the smoothness-of operation, and reduces the possibility of binding between the rocker plate and arm.
FIG. 1 shows one common mounting of the mechanism, when used by a patient confined to a wheelchair, but having voluntary control of his head or jaw movements. As shown, strap 62 is passed about the neck of the patient and engaged in hooks 60, whereby the housing 2 is suspended beneath the patients chin, with antenna extending upwardly toward his chin. The patient, by moving his head or lower jaw, can then engage ball 54 to move said antenna to close the switch as previously de scribed. Strap 62 could also be used to fasten housing 2 to other portions of the patients body, or to a bed frame, iron lung housing, or other rigid support adjacent the patient. If the patient is confined to bed, it is often desirable simply to rest housing 2 directly on the bed adjacent the patient. In this application, it is desirable to attach stabilizing plate 66 to the housing by screws 68, thereby giving said housing sufficient weight and stability that it will not be overturned or moved about on the bed by the force required to operate antenna 50. The antiskid nature of rubber layer 70 of the stabilizing plate also assists in preventing accidental shifting of the housing on the bed. The stabilizing plate generally may be dispensed with in the application shown in FIG. 1, since the housing is adequately retained by strap 62, and the stabilizing would constitute unnecessary weight which Would be irksome or fatiguing to the patient.
While I have shown and described a specific'embodiment of my invention, it will be readily apparent that many minor changes of structure and operation could be made without departing from the spirit of the invention as defined by the scope of the appended claims.
What I claim as new and desire to protect by Letters Patent is:
1. A switch mechanism for invalids comprising:
(b) an electric switch mounted in said housing,
(0) a plunger extending outwardly from said switch and adapted by axial movement away from its free end to close said switch, the outer end of said plunger being spherically rounded,
(d) resilient means urging said plunger toward its free end whereby said switch is normally maintained open,
(e) a support arm aifixed in said housing and adjacent the free end of said plunger, said arm having a planar surface normal to said plunger and having an aperture therethrough in generally axial alignment with said plunger,
(f) a circular rocker plate normally disposed with its plane normal to the plunger, and between said plunger and said normal surface of said arm, said rocker plate being slidably movable on said normal arm surface and having a spherically rounded socket formed centrally in a face thereof in which the spherically rounded end of said plunger is snugly but pivotally engaged, and
(g) an antenna fixed to said rocker plate, said antenna projecting through the aperture of said support arm and projecting exteriorly of said housing.
2. The structure as recited in claim 1 wherein the center of curvature of said spherically rounded end of said plunger, and of the spherically rounded socket of said rocker plate, lies in the plane of the surface of said rocker plate which engages said support arm.
References Cited by the Examiner UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,573,139 10/1951 Hoffman 200-61 2,686,234 8/ 1954 Obszarny 200-6 2,913,546 11/1959 Guinn 20061 3,180,950 4/1965 Jacobson 200-61 BERNARD A. GILHEANY, Primary Examiner.
B. DOBECK, Examiner.