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Publication numberUS3239216 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateMar 8, 1966
Filing dateJul 24, 1964
Priority dateJul 24, 1964
Publication numberUS 3239216 A, US 3239216A, US-A-3239216, US3239216 A, US3239216A
InventorsPfleger Frederick W
Original AssigneeRca Corp
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Feeding apparatus
US 3239216 A
Images(2)
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

March 8, 1966 F. w. PFLEGER FEEDING APPARATUS 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 Filed July 24, 1964 vunm y March 8, 1966 F. w PFLEGER 3,239,216

FEEDING APPARATUS Filed July 24, 1964 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 Z JZ) 94 J g\\ a ma i if if il /52 v la BY United States Patent O 3,239,216 FEEDING APPARATUS Frederick W. Plieger, Cherry Hill, NJ., assignor to Radio Corporation of America, a corporation of Delaware Filed July 24, 1964, Ser. No. 384,914 9 Claims. (Cl. 271-54) This invention relates to feeding apparatus and, in particular, to apparatus for feeding documents, blanks, etc., through a processing station in a series of step-by-step movements, selectively on demand.

Although the apparatus to be described may be employed for the selective, stepwise feeding of many types of objects, it has particular application in the feeding of record cards of the type commonly employed in business machines, e.g., digital computer systems. As is known, such record cards have a number of rows and columns of storage positions which may be selectively punched to store data. In a punching operation, a card 1s advanced line-by-line (row-wise or column-wise) past a transverse line of punching elements. Step-by-step advancement of a record card has been achieved in the prior art by means of gears, rollers or cams in combination with a number of stop members spaced along the direction of card travel. Another prior art mechanism comprises a group of pusher-type pawls spaced along the path of card travel and carried by a reciprocating member.

Devices of the former type are slow in speed because of the complexity of the advancement mechanism, high inertia, and other factors. Devices of the latter type are speed-limited by the vibrations and noise resulting from the reciprocating movement of the drive member, and also by high inertia. None of the devices mentioned lends itself readily to demand -feed operation in which each stepwise movement of the card can be selectively controlled in point of time.

It is one object of this invention to provide an improved feed mechanism for the step-by-step movement of record cards or other objects.

It is another object of this invention to provide an improved feed mechanism for the step-by-step movement of record cards, or other objects, in which each stepwise movement is selectively controllable.

It is still another object of this invention to provide an improved high speed demand feed mechanism that does not employ cams, rollers or a reciprocating member to accomplish the stepwise movement.

It is a further object of this invention to provide a demand feed mechanism in which each of the various step-by-step movements is achieved by way of a different, independently operable control device which operates only once during an entire feed cycle.

These and other objects are accomplished by the cornbination of a guide plate having a plurality o-f slots or apertures therein spaced along the feed path. Each of a plurality of pusher members is pivotally mounted to project through a slot in the guide plate to engage the trailing edge of the object to be moved at a different point along the feed path. Each of the pusher members is actuated by a different, individually operable control device to advance the object incrementally along the feed path.

ln the accompanying drawing, like reference characters denote like components, and:

FIGURE 1 is a diagram, partly in block form, of a system in which the present invention may be practiced;

FIGURE 2 is a plan view of the bottom guide plate and row feed mechanism of FIGURE 1;

FIGURES 3, 4 and 5 are enlarged views of one of the pusher mechanisms, in side elevation, showing the ICC different positions of a pusher member, relative to the guide plates and record cards, during a feed cycle;

FIGURE 6 is an end view of the pusher mechanism and guide plates taken along the line 6-6 of FIGURE 4;

FIGURE 7 is a view in side elevation showing a modified form of a pusher mechanism; and

FIGURE 8 is a block diagram of a control arrangement for the pusher member solenoids.

In the system of FIGURE 1, documents 12 to be processed are stored in a hopper 14. The documents may be, for example, record cards of the so-called Hollerith type, and will be referred to as cards for the purpose of explanation. In one known type of card, there are twelve rows with eighty columns per row of data storage positions, each `different storage position being located at the intersection of a different row and column. Cards may be fed to the processing station row-wise, that is to say, in a direction perpendicular to the card rows, or they may be fed in a direction perpendicular to the columns. It is assumed here for convenience that the cards are -fed row-wise. Located beneath hopper 14 is a picker assembly 16 which is operable in` response to a demand feed signal to feed the bottom card out of the hopper. The demand feed signal may originate, for example, in a computer, represented by box 20.

Hopper 14 has a throat 18 at the lower left ,side thereof, as viewed in the drawing, through which the bottom card 12 is fed out of the hopper to a first pair of drive rollers 22A, 22B. The card may be supported on a table 24, or guide plate during feeding. One or both of the rollers 22A, 22B may be driven by gears, pulleys, etc., from a master drive source, illustrated as a box 26. These rollers 22A, 22B feed the card to a second pair of rollers 30A, 30B which are also, in turn, -driven from the master drive 26. These latter rollers 30A, 30B, which may be slip rollers, feed the record card between a pair of guide plates, illustrated as an upper guide plate 32 and a lower guide plate 34. Plates 32 and 34 are spaced to provide a channel for accommodating the record card. Located at the output, or left-hand end, of the upper guide plate 32 are a number of brushes 3 6 which bear upon the card and serve to retard card movement. Rollers 30A and 30B are spaced from the Abrushes 36 at such a distance that the brushes 36 arrest the card as it clears the rollers 30A, 30B, with the rst line of data storage positions on the card slightly to the right of a processing station, which may be a punch station 38.

The punch station 38 includes a line of punch elements 40 aligned in a row transverse to the direction of card feed, and selectively operable from a punch control unit 42. By way of illustration only, the punch control unit may include a rotating cam 44, a separate interposer (not shown) for each punch element, and signal operated control means (not shown) for positioning the interposers selectively between the cam and the respective punch elements. Signals may be supplied by computer 20 to the control means. Reciprocating cam 44 may be driven from the master drive 26.

Positioned below lower guide plate 34 is a row feed mechanism 48, to be described in ldetail hereinafter, which operates to feed the record ycard in step-by-step fashion through the punch station. The feed mechanism 48 operates under control of a unit 50 to move the record card in a number of steps each equal to the spacing between adjacent rows of the card, whereby the rows of data positions on the card are successively presented to the line of punch elements 40. The feed mechanism 48 also may be arranged to feed the card in unequal length steps if the particular application so requires.

The row feed mechanism is selectively operable Yon demand, under control of the computer 20 for example, so that each stepwise movement of the card by the feed mechanism 48 is individually controllable in point of time. By this means, the card is held in a stationary position until a demand signal is supplied to the row feed mechanism 48 to move the card a selected amount.

At the output side of the punch station 38 is a pair of rollers 50A, 50B which are driven to rotate one complete revolution during a complete document cycle. These rollers 50A, 50B are spaced from the punch station 38 at such a distance that the forward end of the record card being punched would normally be engaged by the rollers 50A, 50B when the last row of data positions on the card is in punch position. Rollers 50A, 50B are split or cammed so that the rollers do not engage the card until after the last row has been punched. They then engage the card and feed it to another location, such as an output hopper (not shown).

Rollers 50A, 50B may be driven directly from the master drive 26 in those applications wherein the card is fed through the punch station 38 in a fixed time cycle. In those demand feed applications wherein there is no fixed time cycle, the rollers 50A, 50B may be operatively coupled to the master drive 26 by means of an over-running clutch (not shown) controlled by a signal-operated escapement mechanism of the type described and illustrated in Patent No. 2,973,846, assigned to the same assignee as the present invention. The escapement'mechanism may be actuated, for example, from the control unit 50 by the same signal that is supplied to the feed mechanism 48 to effect the nal stepwise movement of the card through punch station 38.

The bottom plate 34 has a number of slots, or apertures 60A 60L therein staggered along the length of the plate in the direction of card feed, as shown in the plan view of the guide plate 34 in FIGURE 2. Projecting through each different one of these slots 60A 60L is a separate pusher member 62A 62L, respectively, which is operable, in a manner to be described, to engage the trailing edge of the record card and feed the card, on demand, a distance equal to the spacing between centerlines of adjacent rows on the record card. All of the pusher member mechanisms are of the same type, whereby a description of one will suce as a description of all, One of the mechanisms is shown in detail in FIGURES 3 through 6 and will now be described. Reference numerals without qualifying alphabetic characters are used in these figures to indicate the generic nature of the illustrated mechanism.

In FIGURE 3, the top and bottom guide plates 32 and 34 are shown in section. The pusher member, per se,

comprises a somewhat L-shaped member 62, preferablyl of relatively light weight, which is pinned to a drive arm 66 by means of a pivot pin 64. Pusher member 62 is pivotally mounted on pin 64. A pair of opposed stops 68 and 69 are carried by the pusher member 62 and drive arm 66. The upper portion of the pusher member 62 and the upper end of the drive arm 66 are located in one of the slots 60 in lower guide plate 34. A bias spring 70 is connected between drive arm 66 and the downwardly projecting arm of the pusher member 62, and urges the pusher member 62 in a clockise direction relative to the drive arm 66. Pusher member 62 is in balance when in the position shown in FIGURE 4 and the stop members 68, 69 then abut one another. In any event, the weight of the pusher member 62 and the bias furnished by spring 70 are low enough to enable the rigidity of the card 12 to pivot the pusher 62 out of the card channel when the card 12 overlies the pusher member 62, as in FIGURE 3.

Drive arm 66 is pivotally mounted near its lower end on a fixed pin 74, which may be carried, for example, by the main frame (not shown) of the machine. A spring 76 biases the drive arm 66 into a vertical position with its upper end abutting the lower guide plate 34 at the right-hand end of slot 60. Located adjacent the lower end of drive arm 66, and to the right thereof, is a signal responsive control device 80, illustrated as an electromagnet or solenoid having a xed core 82. Neither the pusher member 62 nor the drive arm 66 need be of metallic substance, but could be constructed of a plastic type material, for example. For this reason, there is shown aiixed to the lower end of drive arm 6,6, adjacent core 82, a small metallic plug 84 of temporarily magnetizable material, such as iron. Plug 84 is attracted to the core 82 by magnetic induction and causes arm 66 to pivot on pin 74 (FIGURE 5) when the solenoid is energized by signals applied over leads 88, 90 from the control unit 50 (FIGURE l).

The normal or quiescent position of the pusher member 62 relative to the drive arm 66 and plates 32, 34 is shown in FIGURE 4. When the rollers 30A, 30B (FIGURE l) feed a card into the channel between the upper and lower guide plates 32 and 34, the card 12 causes the pusher member 62 (and all other pusher members) to rotate in a counterclockwise direction about pin 64 to the position shown in FIGURE 3, in which position the upper, left hand end of the pusher member 62 is entirely within the slot 60 and below the card channel defined by plates 32 and 34.

Once the card 12 has moved to the left a distance sufcient to clear the pusher member 62, the bias spring 70 causes the pusher member 62 to rotate in a clockwise direction to its quiescent position shown in FIGURE 4. The left hand end of the pusher member 62 then projects into the card channel and engages the trailing edge of the card 12. As shown in the end view in FIGURE 6, upper guide plate 32 has a channel 94 therein, into which the upper left hand end of the pusher member 62 projects. By means of this channel 94, the upper end of the pusher member 62 is elevated above the card 12, whereby card 12 cannot slip over the end of the pusher member 62 when the pusher member is moved to the right, to the position illustrated in FIGURE 5. This channel 94 may have a depth of 0.015 inch, for example.

The card 12 remains at rest in the relative position shown in FIGURE 4, until the solenoid becomes energized. As mentioned previously, solenoid 80 is operated under the control of the unit 50 in FIGURE l, and the time at which solenoid 80 becomes energized may be under the control of the computer 20 (FIGURE 1). The system is asynchronous in the sense that the solenoid 80 need not become energized at any particular time during a feed cycle, but rather may be energized in response to a demand feed signal. Once the solenoid 80 is energized, a magnetic iield is established across the air gap between the core 82 and the metallic plug 84. The strength of this magnetic eld is suiiicient to overcome the bias of spring 76 and rotate drive arm 66 in a counter-clockwise direction about the pivot pin 74.

When the drive arm 66 is rotated (FIGURE 5), the upper end of the drive arm 66 moves to the left, as viewed in the drawing. Pusher member 62, pinned to the drive arm 66 by the pivot pin 64, also moves to the left, in turn feeding or driving card 12 to the left. Stops 68- and 69 determine the maximum clockwise position of pusher member relative to drive arm 66, and are located so that the top of the pusher member does not rub against the bottom of the top plate when the drive arm 66 is rotated by solenoid 80.

Rotation of the drive arm 66 terminates when the left front edge of pusher member 62 strikes the vertical wall 98 of the guide plate 34 at the left, or forward, end of slot 60. In essence, this wall 98 serves as a stop member for the pusher member 62. There is then no further drive imparted to the card 12 and the card is stopped immediately, with its trailing edge aligned with wall 98, by the arresting action of the brushes 36 (FIGURE l). In order to prevent vibration, wear and noise of the components when pusher member 62 strikes wall 98, either wall 98v or the vertical, forward edge of pusher member 62 may be coated with a shock absorbing material, such as nylon or some other shock absorbing material.

Pusher member 62 moves card 12 a distance a, which distance is chosen to be equal to the distance between center lines of adjacent rows on the card. As will be clear from a further description of FIGURE 2, the various pusher mechanisms are so spaced that when a card is moved by one pusher member to the relative position shown in FIGURE 5, the card has the relative position shown in FIGURE 4 with respect to the next succeeding pusher member along the path of feed.

In the position shown in FIGURE 5 ,the solenoid 80 and core 82 are located so that plug 84 does not come into contact with core 82 when the drive arm 66 is in its most counter-clockwise position. In other words, there is always an air gap between plug S4 and core 8'2. This prevents a large residual magnetism from developing, as might be the lcase if core 82 and plug 84 came into contact. By maintaining an air gap, drive arm 66 may be released more rapidly when solenoid 80 becomes deenergized.

In an alternative arrangement of a pusher mechanism, illustrated in FIGURE 7, a spacer 100 is inserted between core 82 and plug 84. The spacer 100 comprises a nonmagnetic material of the type conventionally used in air gaps. When this arrangement is used, spacer 100 also may be used to locate the drive arm 66 in its most counterclockwise direction and serve as a stop member for the pusher mechanism. Slot 60 then may be enlarged at its forward end so that pusher member 62 does not strike the wall 98 of the guide plate 34. In such a case, solenoid 80 would be positioned so that the card 12 would have traveled a distance a when the plug 84 abutted the spacer 100.

Pusher member 62 does not bend the card 12 or tend to tear its trailing edge during the initial feed, because of the air gap between plug 84 and core 82. Due to the air gap, the force exerted on drive arm 66 builds up exponentially when the solenoid 80 becomes energized. The force is low, relatively speaking, at the beginning of the stroke. In turn, the drive force imparted to the card 12 by the pusher member 62 is applied gradually.

Referring again to FIGURE 2, it may be seen that the pusher mechanisms appear in pairs at most locations along the direction of card feed. See, for example, the pairs of pushers 62A and 62A', 62C and 62C', 62D and 62D. The reason for this arrangement is that the mechanisms cannot all be aligned along the direction of card feed without interfering with each other. Since the pusher means must be staggered, it is preferable to employ pairs of pusher mechanisms for those pusher means not located centrally with respect to the trailing edge of the card. By employing pairs of pushers, and locating the two pushers of each pair on opposite sides of the card center, equally spaced therefrom, there is greater assurance that the card will not become skewed during feed. Where the pusher means are centrally located, only one pusher member is employed, for example member 62B. In that case, the single pusher member may havea larger dimension in the direction parallel to the trailing edge of the card 12 to provide adequate drive surface and to avoid skewing the card. The pushers and associated components of each mechanism are otherwise identical, and each has the form shown in either of FIGURES 4 and 6, and described hereinabove.

As mentioned previously, each pusher means, be it a single mechanism or `a pair of mechanisms, moves the card a distance a equal to the distance between adjacent row centers on the card. Assuming that the pusher members of FIGURE 2 have the same form as those in FIG- URE 4, this means that the forward edge of each pusher, in the quiescent position, is spaced `a distance a from the leading edge of the associated slot. See, for example, the slot 60L and pusher member 62L in FIGURE 2. Each slot is assumed to have an overall dimension b" in the direction of card feed. The successive slots, or pairs of slots, overlap an amount (b-a), whereby it may be seen that each pusher or pair of pushers is arranged to move the card to a position whereat its trailing edge is aligned with the forward edges of the next succeeding pair of pusher members.

In order to illustrate this feature more clearly, a dashed line is drawn in FIGURE 2 connecting the forward edges'of the pusher members 62L and 62L. This line 110 is coincident with the forward edges of the `slots 60K and 60K of the next preceding pair. Assuming that the pusher members 62K and 62K are in contact with the trailing edge of a card, the card is moved to a position with its trailing edge coincident with dashed line 110 when the pusher members 62K and 62K are driven to the left against those Walls of the plate 34 defined by the leading edges of slots 60K and 60K', respectively. The trailing edge of the card then is in contact with the forward edges of pusher members 62L and 62L', and may be driven thereby by actuating those pusher members.

At the start of an operation, a card 12 is fed into rollers 30A and 30B (FIGURE 1) from the right side. Rollers 30A and 30B `are located so that as the card clears the rollers,`brushes 36 stop the card with its trailing edge clear of, and adjacent to, the first pair of pusher members 62A, 62A (FIGURE 2). A card 12 is s-hown in full phantom View in this position in FIGURE 2. Each of the other pusher members is depressed (FIGURE 3) at this time .by the rigidity of the card 12. When the solenoids associated with drive arms 66A and 66A are energized, card 12 is `driven to the left a `distance a by pusher members 62A and 62A. The card then is clear of the next succeeding pusher members62B and its trailing edge is immediately adjacent the forward edge of pusher member 62B, being stopped in this position by the brushes 36 (FIGURE 1). The card 4in this position is partially shown by the broken phantom lines 116.

Punch station 38 (FIGURE 1) is located relative to the feed mechanism so that the first, or leading, row of card storage positions is in punch position when the trailing edge of the card has the position indicated by the broken phantom line 116. In other words, the first set of pusher members 62A and 62A positions the card with its first row of storage positions presented to the punches. The card remains in this position until the pusher member 62B is actuated. Since the pusher members, or pairs of members, are controlled by solenoids rather than by a continuously driven `actuating member, the system is asynchronous in that the various solenoids need not be energized at any fixed time.

When the solenoid associated with pusher member 62B becomes energized, the pusher 62B is driven to the left against the wall of the guide plate 34 at the left edge of slot 60B. Card 12 is -moved a distance a by pusher member 62B to the position shown by broken phantom line 118. The second row of card storage positions then is presented to the punches, .and the trailing edge of the card 12 is adjacent the leading edges of the pusher members 62C and 62C in the next succeeding set of pusher mechanisms.

In like manner, the card is moved along step-by-s-tep selectively, by the other pusher members, or pairs of pusher members. The last set of pusher members 62L, 62L pos-itions the card 12 with its last row of storage positions presented to the punch elements. After the final punch operation, the split rollers 50A, 50B (FIG- URE 1) remove t-he card from the punch station 38.

In addition to its ability to operate selectively and asynchronously, the row feed mechanism has the advantage that tolerances are not cumulative. Thus, if it should happen that the card is moved a slight distance greater than is desirable during one stepwise drive, the next set of pushers corrects the overshoot and brings the card back to its proper relative position during the next movement.

Also, the feed mechanism can be designed so that the sets of pusher members feed the card in unequal length steps, if that type of feed is desired in a particular application.

One control system for the pusher solenoids is shown in FIGURE 8, and includes a shift register 130 which may have N-l-l stages, where N is the number of solenoids or solenoid sets. For the previously given example of a card having twelve rows, a thirteen stage register may be employed having respective outputs 12. No connection is shown at the output 0 of the lirst stage although, if desired, this output could be used to control an escapement mechanism for an overrunning clutch to control the rotation of split rollers 50A 50B (FIGURE l). The shift register 130 is operated essentially as a ring counter, as will be described, in which only one stage is on and there is an output present at only one of output terminals at any one time.

Shifting of the on condition from one stage to the next is accomplished by applying a pulse at the advance (A) terminal of the register 130 by way of a three-input coincidence or AND gate 132. One input to the AND gate 132 is a signal labelled CARD ADVANCE COM- MAND and may originate in the computer 20 (FIG- URE 1) whenever it is desired to advance the card. The second input is applied by way of a card presence switch 134, which may be, for example, a flip-flop controlled by `a card detecting switch (not shown) in the row feed mechanism. This second input to AND gate 132 is present whenever a card is present at the row feed mechanism, and is terminated only after .a card absence has been detected for a period of time greater than that which is required to account for the normal intercar-d gap between successive cards supplied to the feed mechanism.

The third input to AND gate 132 is a timing pulse which may be derived from an opaque slotted timing `disk 136 driven from the master drive 26 (FIGURE 1). A light source 138 is positioned on one side of disk 136 and a photopickup device 140 is aligned therewith on the opposite side of disk 136. A pulse is generated in the photopickup device 140 each time the slot 142 passes between the lamp 138 and pickup device 140. AND gate 132 supplies an advance pulse to the shift register 130 when all inputs to the gate are present concurrently.

The output 12 of the last stage of the register is ifed through a delay device 146 to one input of a two-input `OR gate 148. A second input to the OR gate is provided by a manually operated switch controlled by an operator. An output signal is provided by rthe OR gate whenever any one or more of its inputs is energized. This output is applied to the CLEAR (C) terminal of 'register 130. The register is wired internally so that a signal applied at the CLEAR terminal turns on the first stage and turns off any stage which may have been en The operation of the control circuitry may best be understood by relating it to the System of FIGURES 1 and 2. Ass-ume that no card has been fed from input hopper 14 (FIGURE l) for a considerable period of time. Card present switch 134 then disables AND gate 132, and is supplying a signal through OR gate 148 to the CLEAR terminal of register 130. The first stage in the register is on and all of the solenoids are de-energized. When a card is fed from the hopper 14 to the row feed mechanism 48 (FIGURE 1), rollers 30A, 30B position the card adjacent the rst set of pusher members 62A, 62A', as described previously. The card present switch 134 then supplies one input to AND gate 132.

When it is desired to move the card into a position with its first row presented to the punch lstation 38 (FIG- URE 1), the computer 20 supplies a card advance command signal to the AND gate 132. AND gate 132 becomes fully enabled when the next pulse is generated by the photopickup device 140. A pulse then is ap- 8 plied at the ADVANCE terminal of register 130 to shift the on condition to the second stage. An output appears at output terminal 1 and energizes solenoid coils A and 80A connected thereto. These solenoids control the respective pusher members 62A and 62A to advance the card 12 one row position.

Card 12 remains at this position until the computer 20 supplies -another CARD ADVANCE COMMAND signal to AND -gate 132. The next timing pulse generated by the photopickup device 140 fully enables AND gate 132, and the on position in register advances to the next stage. Solenoids 80A and 80A became deenergized and solenoid `801B becomes energized by the output now present at output terminal 2. Solenoid 80B actuates drive arm 66B to move pusher member 62B (FIGURE 2) to the right, in turn moving card 12 another row position.

Selective movement of the card, in steps, continues in the manner described above each time the computer 20 supplies a signal to AND gate 132. When the on condition in register 130 is shifted to the last stage, solenoids 80L and 80L become energized to actuate pusher members 62L and 62L, respectively (FIGURE 2). The last row of card storage positions then is moved into punch position. After a delay provided by device 146, the OR gate 148 is energized and the register 130 becomes cleared. The rst stage of the register `130 is on, all solenoids are deenergized, Vand the system is ready to receive the next card. If no new card is fed from hopper 14 (FIGURE 1) within a predetermined time, the card present switch 134 disables AND gate 132 tand prevents the application of signals to the AD- VANCE terminal of register 130. This prevents the solenoids from becoming energized if no card is present.

If there should be a card jam, etc. at any time during a feed cycle, the register may be cleared manually by the operators depressing a switch (not shown) to apply a MANUAL CLEAR signal to OR gate 148.

What is claimed is:

1. The combination comprising:

a feed path;

support means adjacent the feed path for supporting an object being advanced in Ia step-by-step manner 4along said feed path;

a plurality of individually movable pusher means located at spaced intervals along, and projectable into, said feed path for successively engaging the trailing edge of an object to elfect advancement thereof along said feed path;

signal-controlled devices individual to said pusher means and responsive to applied signals for advancing the respective pusher means along said feed path; and

means for supplying signals to said signal controlled devices.

2. The combination comprising:

a feed path;

support means adjacent the feed path for supporting an object being advanced in a step-by-step fashion along the feed path;

a plurality of `in-dividually movable pusher means normally located at spaced locations along, and projectable into, said feed path for successively engaging the trailing edge of an object to effect advancement thereof from one of said locations to the next;

signal-controlled devices individual to said pusher means and responsive to applied signals for advancing the respective pusher means from their normal locationto the next succeeding one of said locations; and

means for selectively applying signals to said signal controlled devices individually.

3. The combination comprising:

a feed path;

support means adjacent the feed path for supporting an object to be advanced along said feed path;

a plurality of pusher means located at spaced locations along said feed path and each including at least a drive arm pivotally mounted on a Xed pin, and a pusher member pivotally pinned to said drive arm and projectable into said feed path to engage the trailing edge of an object to be advanced;

a separate signal-controlled device for each pusher means responsive to an applied signal for impelling the associated drive arm to advance its pusher member along said feed path; and

means for applying signals to the signal-controlled devices.

4. The combination comprising:

a feed path;

support means adjacent the feed path for supporting an object to be advanced along said feed path;

a plurality of pusher means located at spaced locations along said feed path and each including at least a drive arm` pivotally mounted on a Xed pin, a pusher member pivotally pinned to said drive arm and projectable into said feed path to engage the trailing edge of an object to be advanced, and a bias spring connected between said arm and said pusher member for urging said pusher member into said feed path;

a separate electromagnetic device for each pusher means responsive to an applied signal for rotating the associated drive arm about its fixed pin to advance its pusher member along said feed path; and

means for selectively energizing the electromagnetic devices.

5. The combination comprising:

a feed path;

support means adjacent the feed path for supporting an object to be advanced along said feed path;

a plurality of pusher means located at spaced locations along said feed path and each including at lea-st a drive arm pivotally mounted on a xed pin, and a pusher member pivotally pinned to said drive arm and projectable into said feed path to engage the trailing edge of an object to be advanced;

a separate stop member for each pusher member located forward of the pusher member in the direction of feed;

signal control-led devices individual to said pusher means and each responsive to an applied signal for rotating its associated drive arm about the fixed pivot pin to drive the associated pusher member along the feed path and into engagement with its stop member; and

means for supplying signals selectively and individually to said signal controlled devices.

6. The combination comprising:

a feed path;

support means adjacent the feed path for supporting an abject to be advanced along said feed path;

a plurality of pusher means located at spaced locations along .said feed path and each including at least a drive arm pivotally mounted on a xed pin, a pusher member pivotally pinned to said drive arm and projectable into said feed path to engage the trailing edge of an object to be advanced, and a bias spring connected between said drive arm and said pusher member for urging said pusher member into said feed path;

a separate stop member for each pusher member located forward of the pusher member in the direction o-f feed;

electromagnetic devices individual to said pusher means and each responsive to an applied signal for rotating lthe associated drive arm about the fixed pivot pin to drive the associated pusher member along the feed path into engagement wit-h its stop member; and

means for energizing the electromagnetic devices selectively and individually.

7. The combination comprising:

a feed path;

a support member located adjacent the feed path for supporting an object to be advanced in a step-by-step manner along the feed path, said member having slots therein at spaced locations along the feed path;

a plurality of individually movable pusher means, each including a pusher member projectable through a different slot in said support member and into said feed path, for successively engaging the trailing edge of an object and moving said object step-by-step from one location to another along the feed path;

signal controlled devices individual to said pusher means and each responsive to an applied signal for moving its associated pusher member along the feed path; and

means for supplying signals to said signal control devices.

8. The combination comprising:

a feed path;

a support member located beneath the feed path for supporting an object being advanced in a step-bystep manner along the feed path, said manner having slots therein at spaced locations along the feed path;

a plurality of pusher means each including a drive arm pivotally mounted on a fixed pin, a pusher member pivotally pinned to said arm and projectable through a slot in said support member at a different location and into said feed path for engaging the trailing edge of an object to be advanced;

signal controlled devices individual to said pusher means and each responsive to an applied signal for rotating its associated drive arm about its fixed pin to move the associated pusher member along the feed path; and

means for supplying signals to said signal control devices.

9. The combination comprising:

a feed path;

a support member located beneath the feed path for supporting an object being advanced in step-by-step manner along the feed path, said member having slots therein at spaced locations along the feed path;

a plurality of pusher means each including a drive arm pivota-lly mounted on a pin xed in space, a pusher member pivotally pinned to said drive arm and projectable through a different slot in said support member and into said feed path for engaging the trailing edge of an object, and bias means connected between said drive arm and said pusher member for urging the pusher member into said feed path;

electromagnetic devices individual to said pusher means and each responsive to an applied signal rotating the associated drive arm to drive t-he associated pusher member along the feed path; and

means for selectively energizing the electromagnetic devices selectively and individually.

References Cited by the Examiner UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,807,843 6/ 1931 Hendrickson 271-44 1,819,431 8/1931 McDonald 83-278 X 2,924,324 2/ 1960 Benson 198-19 X M. HENSON WOOD, JR., Primary Examiner.

Patent Citations
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4015701 *Aug 28, 1975Apr 5, 1977Burroughs CorporationApparatus for driving a document through an encoder station
US4155842 *Oct 12, 1977May 22, 1979Burroughs CorporationDocument hold and view station for high speed item sorter apparatus
US4754867 *Sep 19, 1986Jul 5, 1988Zenith Electronics CorporationAutomated belt drive for PC board feed apparatus
US4928453 *Dec 29, 1987May 29, 1990Biomedical Devices Company, Inc.Apparatus for transferring elongated sample tube holders to and from workstations
US5676237 *Sep 29, 1995Oct 14, 1997Quantum Conveyor Systems, Inc.Tracking device
WO1989006206A1 *Dec 28, 1988Jul 13, 1989Nova Pharm CorpMethod for transferring elongated sample tube holders to and from workstations
WO1997011897A1 *Sep 17, 1996Apr 3, 1997Quantum Conveyor Systems IncTracking device
Classifications
U.S. Classification271/266, 198/597, 198/345.1, 198/468.1, 235/481, 198/736, 198/464.2
International ClassificationG06K13/02, G06K13/077
Cooperative ClassificationG06K13/077
European ClassificationG06K13/077