US 3310024 A
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
March 21, 1967 R. c. MccoNNELL SIGNAL BALLOON Filed 00'0. 23, 1965 INVENTOR.
United States Patent O 3,310,024 SIGNAL BALLOON Robert C. McConnell, 408 Red Haw Road, Dayton, Ohio 45405 Filed Oct. 23, 1965, Ser. No. 503,179 2 Claims. (Cl. 116-124) This invention rel-ates to signal apparatus and, more i particularly, to signal apparatus for individual use to indicate -the location of a person in distress or to mark the position or location of an object.
In general, the invention contemplates the provision of an -infiatable balloon, which may be brightly colored, coated with a refiective surface or with a fluorescent material so that it may be 'quickly and easily recognized, a compact Cartridge containing a pressurized supply of a fluid that is lighter-than-air, such as helium, tethering means, and improved Closure and filling means whereby the Cartridge may readily be detachably connected to the ball-oon during inflation thereof with the lighter-thanair fluid which is 'automatically retained within 'the balloon when the cartridge is detached therefrom after inflation and prior to sending the balloon 'signal aloft.
An important object of the present invention is to provide an improved signal device that is economical to manufacture, is very light and compact, is very simple and easy to operate 'and yet is very effective in rescue or other Operations to indicate the location of a person or an object.
Another object is to provide an improved signalling device for indicating the need for emergency aid and the location at which such aid is needed without requiring the exertion of undue physical energy or complicated manipulation by an injured user thereof.
These and other objects Will become apparent from the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying dra'wings, in 'whichz FIGUR'E 1 is an assembly view of a signal balloon device in accordance :with the invention as it appears when infiated and ready for use;
FIG'URE 2 is `a cross-sectional view, partly broken away, illustrating the various elements of the invention; and,
-FIGU'R'E 3 is a cross-sectional view illustrating a modification of the embodiment shown in FIGURE 2.
In the dra'wings, the invention, as illustrated, includes 'a tubular housing '10 provided with depending portions 1'1, 12 at one end thereof and with a threaded portion 13 at the opposite end thereof. Slidably contained within housing is a Cartridge or bottle 1'4 which in turn contains a pressurized supply of a lighter-than-air fluid, such as helium, which serves to inflate a balloon 15 and thereby render it bouyant within the surrounding air of the atmosphere. Within neck portion 15a of the balloon there is provided a member 16 which serves the dual function of providing a portion of the means for infiating the balloon and also serves to retain the lighterthan-air fluid Within the interior of the balloon after infiation thereof. i
Within member 16 there is provided a longitudinally-extending passageway 17 extending throughout the extent of member '16. In order to inflate the balloon 15 and at the same time provide means for retaining therein the fluid 'with 'which it has been inflated, there is mounted within passageway '17 check valve means indicated generally at 18. Conveniently, check valve means 18 may be of the type or identical with the valve means commonly employed 'to retain air 'within 'automobile tires and, hence, will not be further 'descri'bed herein eXcept to note that, as illustrated in FIG'URE 2, it includes a body 19, a spring plunger '20, and a valve member 2'1 which piercing Cartridge or bottle '14.
is thus capable of limited movement in a direction coaxial with respect to passageway '17.
Alternatively, a different type of check valve means may be employed if desired. -For example, an alternative check valve '18a is illustrated in FIGURE 3 and merely comprises a deformable body '19a of resilient material such as rubber, neoprene, or the like. Check Valve 18a is mounted and retained within passageway 17. The body '19a has an opening '1917 extending therethrough, one end of opening '191) normally being closed by a pair of abutting projections 19c which depend from body 19a and which are readily deformable to open opening `1911.
Closure member 1'6 is enlarged at one end thereof, said enlarged end being somewhat larger than the neck 15a of the balloon so that the walls of the neck 15a will tightly engage the enlarged end lsurfaces of member 16 when it is inserted therein. To insure tight engagement between said surface of member '1'6 and neck 15a, a clamping means 22 may be employed 'which means conveniently may comprise `a heat shrinkable plastic ring shrunk into clamping engagement 'with the 'wall of neck 15a after member 1'6 has been inserted therein. The opposite end of member '16 is provided with threads 23 adapted to threadedly engage threads 13 of housing ,10. When so engaged, a Cartridge or bottle 14, contained within housing -.10, is held in alignment with and in registry with passag-eway '17.
Within passage'way '17 there is provided means for automatically releasing the pressured fluid contained within the cartridge or bottle :14 when it is connected with passageway '17 by housing 10. 'In accordance with the invention, such means includes a member 24 having axial eXtent and provided with a pointed end portion 25 for Member '24 also is provided vwith an enlarged portion y26 'which is slidably received within passageway 17 and cooperates therewith to properly position and align end portion '25. Fluid Communication is maintained in passageway 0-17 on both sides lof member 24 by the provision of an opening therethrough which conveniently may be in the form of a slot .2'4a. Alignment is maintained by virtue of the sliding fit 'between enlarged portion 26 and passageway 17. Desired posi'tioning of end portion 25 is achieved by the provision of .a shoulder portion y17a in passageway '17 against which enlarged portion 26 abuts, thus positioning end portion Q5 at a location where it first contacts and ultimately pierces Cartridge or bottle '14 as the latter moves to-ward and into passageway '17 when threaded portions 1'3 and 2'3 are engagcd and tightened. In order to avoid accidental loss of slidable member 24, retention means is provided which conveniently may be an O ring 27 disposed Within passageway l17 adjacent threaded end portion 23. Thus, 'O ring 2-7 simultaneously and additionally provides a fluid seal between the neck of cartridge or bottle 14 and passageway 17.
In order to insure that the signal device of the present invention will serve to mark or indicate the location of an object or of a person, tethering means is provided including a tether cord or line 28 connected at one end thereof to Closure member 1'6 and at the opposite end to a reel 29 carried by housing 10.
'Operation of the 'device is extrernely simple and requires a minimum amount of physical exertion to make it ready for use. 'Prior to use, the balloon portion of the device is, of course, deflated and the remaining portions are small and light in Weight and the entire device is sufliciently compact that it can lbe easiiy carried in a pocket of an article of clothing. To render the device operable, housing 10 containing Cartridge or bottle 14 is connected to balloon '15 and its Closure member 16 by threadedly engaging and tightening threaded portions 13 and 23, using housing `12B and its depending portions 11, 12 as a Wrench. During such connection and tightening operation, Cartridge or 'bottle 14 is pierced by end portion 25 thereby releasing the pressurized lighter-than-air fluid from bot'tle 14. If a check valve means 18a, as illustrated in fFIGURE 3, is employed, the pressurized fiuid deforms projections 19a thereof so that opening `19/5 then extends completely through Vaive means 18a With the result that the pressurized fluid flows through said opening and in'lates the balloon '15. Housing ;10 is then removed together With bottle 14 by unscrewing threaded portions '13 and 23. Balloon '15 then is allowed to rise to signal the location of an object or a person by allowing tether line 28 to unwind from reel 219.
If a check valve means 1'3, as illustrated in FIGURE 2, is employed, the position of member 24 is such, at the right hand limit of its movement, that the end portion thereof opposite pointed end portion 25 engages and moves valve member 21 to its open position thereby causing inflation of the balloon as a result of the fiow of the then released pressurized lighter-than-air fluid from bottle 14 through passageway 17 and then open valve means E3. yIrrespecive of which type of check valve means is employed, after infiation of `balloon 15 the check valve means closes to prevent escape of fluid from the balloon.
While particular embodiments of the invention have been illustrated and described, it will be obvious to those skilled in the art that various changes and modifica- -tions may be made Without departing from the invention which is vdefined in the appended claims, and it is intended in such claims to cover all such changes and modifications that fall Within the true spirit and scope of the invention.
What is claimed is:
1. In a signal device,
an infiatable balloon having a neck portion,
closure means mounted Within said neck portion and having a passageway adapted to receive pressurized fluid and to admit said fluid into the interior of lthe balloon, valve means biased to closed position and disposed Within said passageway, a member movably disposed Within said passageway and engageable with said valve means for opening the same in at least one position of said member,
said member having a piercing portion for puncturing a pressurized fluid container, annular yieldable means carried by said closure means and at least partially projecting into said passageway for sealingly engaging the nerek portion of said container and for retaining said movable member Within said passage- Way, tether means connected 'to said closure means,
inflation means including a container having a neck portion and having a pressurized lighter-than-air fiuid therein, and
means including a housing member for readily detachably connec'ting said infiation means to said closure means and opera'ble -to move said con'tainer into puncturing relation with said piercing portion and With said nec-k portion extending into said passageway and sealingly engaged by said yieldable means and simultaneously causing said member to move -to said one position, and
-thereby automatically admitting pressurized fluid from said `container When so connected to said closure means into the interior of the balloon and to prevent escape of fluid from lthe balloon When said container is detached.
2. A device in accordance With claim 11 wherein said ltether means includes reel means mounted on said connecting means.
References Cited by the Examiner UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,336,7C'8 12/ 1943 `Ward 222-5 2,575,908 11/ 1951 Clifford 222-5 2,688,428 9/ 1954 Manhartsberger 2:22-5 2,842,090 7/1958 Samwald 116-1249 2,86'2,531 12/ 1958 Walker 116-1249 3,002,490 10/ 1961 Murray 116-1249 3,119,561 1/1964 Wilson 116-1249 3,154,050 10/1964 Hanson 46-90 3,174,455 3/1965 Peterson 116-1249 LO'UI'S I. CAPOZI, Primary Examiner.