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Publication numberUS3338364 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateAug 29, 1967
Filing dateJun 24, 1966
Priority dateJun 24, 1966
Publication numberUS 3338364 A, US 3338364A, US-A-3338364, US3338364 A, US3338364A
InventorsAlan D Hoffberger, Ii Charles C Hoffberger
Original AssigneeAlan D Hoffberger, Ii Charles C Hoffberger
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Vending machine
US 3338364 A
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

c. c. HOFFBERGER 11., ETAL Aug. 29, 1967 I VENDING MACHINE 5 Sheets-Sheet 1 Filed June 24, 1966 s INVENTORS Charles C. Hofb@rqw,m& Man Hafibergev @4 9 W AnoRNEYs Aug. 1 c. c. HOFFB-ERGER IL, ETAL 3,338,364

VENDING MACHINE Filed June 24, 1966 5 Sheets-Sheet Charies C. Hoffbevgesynfi Man D. Hofiberger ATTORNEYS Aug. 29, 1967 Filed June 24, 1966 VENDING MACHINE 3 Sheets-She'et'S KNIFE MOTOR PROD UCT I DISPENSER j CONTROL (b) (No) FE 6.55,


' PIN WITHDRAWN sPR|Ne ems BLADE HITS s INVENTORS (ihories C. Hofiberganfla Alan D. Hufifberg er mwflwzg ATTORNEYS United States Patent 3,338,364 VENDING MACHINE Charles C. Hoifberger II, and Alan D. Hofiberger, both of 7803 Crossland Road, Baltimore, Md. 20208 Filed June 24, 1966, Ser. No. 560,186 11 Claims. (Cl. 1944) This invention relates to a new and improved vending machine and, in more particular, to a mechanism of this type wherein the dispensing function is controlled through the use of a disposable key that can be used only a single time, further use being prevented by the destruction of the key immediately before actuation of the appropriate switch controlling the vending functions.

Mechanisms are known which use coins as the actuating media; however, here no control can be exercised over the purchaser of the vended productany consumer having the required change is able to obtain the product. In the instant invention control may be exercised over sale of the product in the sense that the key necessary to place the mechanism into operation may be sold only to selected purchasers. This is, of course, desirable, and in fact necessary, when the vended product may be, for example, an alcoholic beverage that cannot be sold to minors. The same comment is also applicable to the sale of cigarettes where most, if not all, states prohibit the sale thereof to minors.

Thus, this invention prevents indiscriminate use of the vending machine, as is common with coin operated vending machines, so that the dispensing of such referred to items to unauthorized persons as alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, et cetera, are exluded, the reason for the exclusion being that there is obviously no way to otherwise prevent minors or unauthorized persons from inserting coins in the usual coin operated machines, to thereby illegally purchase the dispensed product.

Of course, the invention is also useful for dispensing non-packaged beverages, such as cups of soft drinks and/ or cups of beer, et cetera. Using the key operated mechanism (either mechanically or electrically) the principle can also be used for admission through a turnstile to athletic contests, theaters, exhibits, subway and commuter trains and other events having to do with controlled admissions. It can also be used effectively for automobile parking lots either attended or unattended. In this instance, of course it will open a gate allowing the car to be removed from the lot. Another use is found in automatic laundromats, either attended or unattended.

It is further obvious that the invention will be useful in connection with paid television, amusement parks, metered purchases of commercial appliances, self-service car washes, toll road, drive-in theaters, gas meters, et cetera.

It is, therefore, a primary objective of our invention to provide a vending system which is within the control of the owner thereof, thus preventing illegal purchases being made. In this regard, the fundamental aspects of the invention is related to the control mechanism for the vending machine, the latter being conventional in other respects; to state it another way, this control arrangement is designed to be substituted for the coin-slot mechanism generally known to the public.

A further object of the invention is the provision of a control circuit arrangement which, when actuated by a destructible key purchased from the owner of the vending machine causes the key to be destroyed at the same time, or just prior to the time that the dispensing mechanism is acuated so that the said key cannot be reused and only one product may, therefore, be vendered for the purchase price of one key. The particular means here employed for destruction of the key comprises a guillotine or sharp knife which is propelled by a suitable motor which is actuated upon insertion and turning of the key a quarter of a turn. Such knife severs the key into two portions, the extended portion thereof remaining in the barrel of the lock mechanism until a second purchaser removes the head portion of the key and inserts an additional key, in which case the severed end portion is pushed through the barrel into a suitable container within the enclosure of the vending mechanism.

' Another object of the invention is the provision of a key controlled vending mechanism enabling the use of a simplified electrical circuit which monitors the entire sequence of key destruction, dispensing operation and current deactivation when the product has been dispensed.

A further object of the invention is the provision of mechanism of the described type which makes it possible and convenient for the place of business which retails products that can be sold only to selected consumers, as refrigerated alcoholic beverages, to sell these beverages without the necessity for an attendant or waiter being involved in the actual dispensing of same, that is, one present to supervise the sale and make sure, as in the case of alcoholic beverages, that the consumer is not under the legal age.

An additional objectan-d advantage of the control of this invention is the provision of a system wherein, at no time, is there any money in the machine itself; this is often a very important factor to anyone operating any kind of vending machine, and this would include uses thereof outside the field of the beverage industry where the advantages of the invention will be readily apparent.

Finally, it is an object of the invention to provide a system that is simplified to the extreme, inexpensive to fabricate and adaptable as a convenient replacement for coin operated controls in those instances where the types of products herein mentioned are desired to be dispensed through automatic mechanisms of this kind, and for the reasons set forth above.

Other objectives and fundamental advantages will be apparent from the following more detailed description thereof wherein reference is made to the several accompanying drawings, and wherein:

FIGURES 1A and 1B illustrate a key of the type herein contemplated for use in the control mechanism herein described;

FIGURE 2 is a side elevation view, partially in section,

illustrating particularly the relative positioning of the motor drive, reduction gearing therefor, guillotine and barrel or lock structure to receive the key;

FIGURE 3 is a rear elevation view of the invention as shown in FIGURE 2;

FIGURE 4 is a top plan view, partially in section, of the invention as shown in FIGURE 2;

FIGURE 5 is a view similar to FIGURE 2, illustrating the key in position in the lock mechanism and the guillotine in a vertical position prefatory to its clockwise movement resulting in severing the key into two parts;

FIGURE 6 is a cross section view taken on the line 6-6 of FIGURE 5;

FIGURE 7 is a fi'ont elevation view illustrating the vertical positioning of the cutter blade or guillotine, such as to deactuate all mechanism of the vending machine by contact of the cutter element with an adjacent microswitch, thereby opening the control circuit;

FIGURE 8 is a view similar to FIGURE 7 but further illustrating the clockwise motion of the cutter element after the key has been inserted and turned to the right, so that an appropriate arm, following the key motion, contacts a microswitch, thereby energizing the motor and thus causing rotation of the cutter, and also showing the automatic actuation of a lock pin maintaining the referred to arm in that position until after the cutting procedure has been completed;

FIGURE 9 is a view similar to FIGURE 8, but illustrating the continued sequence of the operation in that in this figure the guillotine has commenced to cut the key into two portions;

FIGURE 10 is a view similar to FIGURE 9 and again illustrating the next sequence of operation, here particularly showing the continuing clockwise motion of the cutter element carrying the latter into contact with an additional rnicroswitch, the latter causing closure of the circuit controlling the dispensing mechanism of the vending machine;

FIGURE 11 is a simplified circuit illustrating one circuit design suitable for use with the control mechanism of this invention;

FIGURE 12 is a graphic diagram illustrating the sequence of closing and opening of the several rnicroswitch contacts; and

FIGURE 13 illustrates an alternate form of switch having an extended contact area representing the length of time of dispenser operation.

Referring more particularly to these figures, the key 1 shown in FIGURES 1A and 1B is preferably fabricated of such material as paper hardboard, or some equivalent material as a synthetic resin or plastic. Any material can be used that would be sufficiently rigid and of the strength to function properly, yet be subject to being cut or severed when impinged upon by the motor driven guillotine. It is also preferred that the key be fabricated of an unusual size or dimension, not commonly typical of ordinary blanks from which keys are usually madein other words, the key could be much larger or thicker than ordinarily so to render duplication more difiicult. It is to be appreciated that if an unauthorized key such as a duplicate metal or indestructible key were to be used, the mechanism would not operate. This is because the sequence of steps is such that unless the key be made of a material which can be cut by the cutter blade no dispensing operation is possible for by the very nature of the arrangement the key must be destroyed first in order to permit the blade to continue its rotation to the 180 position for contact with the dispensing control switch. This is apparent from examination of FIGURES 8 to 10, where the dispensing mechanism can only function after the cutter element has reached the 6 oclock position (FIG- URE l) and as indicated, this can only take place when the cutter has proceeded through the key to destroy it.

In the version of the key here shown, one side has an extended longitudinal ridge 2 to interfit in complementary fashion the corresponding opening in the barrel means; and the key is also fabricated with various ridges 4 and corresponding depressions, as is customary with keys of other types, these being designed to engage appropriate falls or pins within the barrel, thus permitting the barrel to be turned in clockwise fashion to actuate the dispensing apparatus. As shown in dotted line at 5, FIGURE 1A, the relative positioning of this control mechanism is such that the key is severed about intermediate its length, and thus destroyed after it has been inserted for the purchase of a single item of the dispensed product.

Referring more particularly to FIGURES 2 and 3, it is seen that the device of the invention is mounted upon the front panel of the vending machine cabinet, being secured thereto in any suitable fashion, with said front panel 10 being apertured as at 11 to give access to the barrel of the lock device. In this regard the barrel 12 is supported upon a yoke 15, the latter, in turn, being joined to an upright stanchion 18 which in turn may be integrally formed with a base element 20.

A motor M is used to rotate the cutter arm 30 at a predetermined rate of speed. This motor is supported by a bracket 24 that is integrally formed with an upright stanchion 21, also secured to the base plate 20.

A gear reduction means 25 is connected to this motor for obvious reasons-the gear ratios being such that the speed of the arm is set at a predetermined rate during operation of the motor and at a rate suflicient to effect relatively rapid and efficient cutting of the key in the manner to be described.

This gear reduction mechanism drives the cutter arm 30 through shaft 32, the arm 30 being so located that upon descent to and rotation through the 3 oclock position the key is severed. Referring to FIGURE 6, this is accomplished by forming the barrel of the lock into two separate and rotatable portions, the forward portion thereof being indicated at 13. A narrow space 34 thus separates these two portions and that space is sufficient to accommodate the blade 30. Being rigidily supported by these two barrel portions and the space 34 being only of a sufficient width to accommodate the blade 30, it will be appreciated that the latter will efliciently sever the key, assuming such key to be fabricated of a material contemplated by this inventiona paper hardboard or equivalent designed, as to width and strength, et cetera, to be readily cut by the blade motion.

As is usual in such cases, turning of the key is only possible if that key possesses the ridged and notched configuration to interfit with the several falls or pins 35. Such an interfit then permits the key to turn to the right only, carrying with it the rearward barrel 12. This motion of the key and barrel 12 also compels a suitable rnicroswitch contacting arm 31 to rotate in clockwise fashion to the 3 oclock position, this arm 41 being secured to the rearward barrel 12 by suitable screws 42. A suitable stop 44 prevents further rotation beyond that point, as indicated in FIGURES 8 and 9. Furthermore, the barrel and lock arrangement is so constructed (as is customary) that the key may be turned only to the right, or clockwise as viewed in FIGURES 7 to 10.

Referring to FIGURES 7 to 10 inclusive, the sequence of operation is here illustrated: In FIGURE 7 the blade 30 is in its vertical or 12 oclock position; in such position it is contacting rnicroswitch S and in this position of contact S is open. However, on clockwise movement of the blade 30 in the amount of even a few degrees, or even a fraction of a degree, S is permitted to close.

Upon insertion of the destructible key into the lock or barrel means 12 and 13 and in turning of said key clockwise the arm 41 is caused to contact S with the result that the motor is actuated and accompanying drive means is caused to rotate the blade 30 with like clockwise motion. The blade proceeds towards the 3 oclock position until, as it is shown in FIGURE 9, said blade contacts the key 1 bisecting the latter by traverse through the slot 34. The key is thus sliced in half.

At the same time that S is closed by clockwise movement of the arm 41, as just described, and by this closure of S solenoid 50 is caused to be actuated, the pin 52 representing the armature of such solenoid. Activation of the solenoid extends the armature 52 to a position over arm 41 maintaining that arm in locked and fixed position, as shown in FIGURES 8 and 9, until the solenoid is deactivated by switch S It is preferred that switch S be of a double pole single throw type in order to maintain the pin 52 Withdrawn or deactivated except for that period of time that the cutter arm traverses the are represented between the 3 oclock position and the 6 oclock position where it contacts S By reference to FIGURE 11, it is seen that the pin 52 is withdrawn, even with S closed, until S is closed. Contact S (a) being closed, the solenoid is then activated to maintain the arm in 90 position, as shown in FIG- URE 8. Such pin 52 remains extended until S is contacted by the blade 30, at which time S (a) breaks the circuit to solenoid 50 and simultaneously through S (b) completes the circuit to the product dispenser control.

It is to be noted that rotation of the barrel 12-13 and consequent rotation of arm 41 is against a suitable spring bias (not shown) so that, when by subsequent motion of blade 30 the pin or armature 52 is withdrawn from its position extending over the arm 41, the barrel means and arm counter-rotate or spring back to their original position as shown in FIGURE 7.

After having cut through the destructible key means blade 30 continues its rotation to the 6 oclock position where it activates switch S by sliding contact therewith. S also represents a double pole single throw type of switch so that at this point S achieves two functions: Firstly, and as just mentioned, one contact is opened so as to break the circuit to solenoid 50 with the result that the barrel means and arm 41 are spring biased back to their original position shown in FIGURE 7; secondly, the open circuit represented by the other pole represented by S (b) is closed. The latter circuit is interconnected with known circuitry to activate the product dispenser apparatus so that, at this point, the product is then emitted from the vending machine is whatever form it may take, for example, allowing the dispensed bottle or can to fall into an opening in the face of the dispensing machine, or, in the case of non-packaged beverages, discharging the involved fiuid into 'a pre-positioned paper cup, or the like, placed in such opening, as is well known to the art.

With respect to the period of time of activation of this dispensing equipment, such may be controlled by the period of time that arm 30 is in contact with microswitch S or by a suitable stop limit switch or time lag relay in the vending machine itself, the latter also being common and well known to those skilled in the art. If it is desired that this time lag for operation of the dispensing equipment be controlled by S alone, then that switch may be so designed as to have an extended contact surface much as shown in FIGURE 13, where the fiat portion 60 presents an elongated surface for continued contact with the cutter arm 30. Thus, time of dispensing is controlled and predetermined, the length of said surface 60 representing several degrees of rotation of the cutter arm 30.

At any rate, at this time in the sequence of operation the two important steps have been achievedafter actuation of the cutting blade the destructible key has been bisected or destroyed, and this followed by the dispensing of the particular product into the access opening in the vending machine. Each half of the now severed key remains in the position shown in FIGURE 6. However, another customer with a like key simply removes the handle portion of the key when he inserts the new key into the lock mechanism. This latter movement of the key pushes the other severed half of the first key, as shown in FIGURE 6, through the barrel to be ejected into a suitable container within the vending machine, and as diagrammatically indicated by the doted line arrow shown in FIGURE 2.

At any rate, having accomplished the twofold purpose of key destruction and dispensing of the vended product, the blade continues its motion from the 180 position shown in FIGURE 10 to it former 12 oclock position as shown in FIGURE 7. This results in the opening of S causing the motor to stop, all circuits now being dead, and awaiting the customers insertion of a new key. With turning of the latter 90 to the right, this cycle is caused to repeat itself and, of course, for as many times as a new key is so inserted.

It is obvious that other alternate circuits may be used for actuation of the microswitch, et cetera, which are here particularly referred to. However, one simple such circuit is illustrated in FIGURE 11. Here 8;, is shown as being in its normally closed (NC) position, meaning it is closed just as soon as knife 30 has been rotated clockwise those few degrees to clear 8;; and as represented in FIGURES 7 and 8. The contacts of S would be normally open (NO) but closed upon contact by the arm 41. Since S is of the double pole double throw variety, as indicated above, and as shown in FIGURE 11, pole S (a) is 6 normally closed so that upon closure of the contacts of S the pin of solenoid 50 is thrown outwardly above the arm 41 to lock the latter in the position shown in FIG- URE 8 and as described above.

On the other hand, S (b) shown as normally open in FIGURE 11, is only closed when the blade 30 contacts S in the 180 position at which time the product dispenser control is activated, and, through S (a), the pin 52 withdrawn permitting retraction of arm 41. All circuits, as further indicated above, are inactivated at the time of opening of S which occurs when blade 30 returns to its normal position when the machine is not in use, and as shown in FIGURE 7.

This cycle is further represented by the diagrammatic illustration of the sequence of these steps found in FIG- URE 12. Here it is shown that in the 0 position only switch S (a) is closed. In the position reached after the key has been turned the motor M is immediately activated when blade 30 clears S after a slight degree of rotation. In the position of blade 30 the pin or armature 52 is withdrawn due to opening of contacts (a) and (-b) of S At the same time S (b) is closed so as to energize the appropriate electrical circuit controlling the product dispenser. And as before, in the 360 position all circuitry is necessarily deenergized by blade contact with S at this point the only line being closed by switch S (a) which is thus pre-set for solenoid actuation during the next cycle of operation.

The foregoing represents an efficient and effective control means to achieve the purposes herein set forth: To permit the owners of vending machines to sell vended articles only to authorized parties, this control being enabled by the use of a frangible or destructible key element that can only be used once. Yet the combination of elements to achieve this purpose represents the essence of simplicity, this being true also of such circuitry as must necessarily be employed to achieve the desired functions of the apparatus. As pointed out above, a great advantage of the invention lies in the ease with which this control device can be substituted for the coin-actuated mechanism in known types of vending equipment since no alteration or substantial change in the latter is necessaryonly the removal of the usual coin operated mechanism and replacement thereof with the relatively small component represented by the instant invention. Because of this inherent advantage of simplicity, it is also readily apparent that the cost of this control unit is relatively low and would certainly represent but a fraction of the valu of the entire vending machine.

Although other alternates and variations of the invention may be made or may appear obvious from the foregoing description of same, it is to be understood that the scope of the invention is not to be limited except by the several limitations found in the claims appended hereto.

We claim:

1. In a control mechanism for vending machines, a key receiving means having a rotating barrel adapted to be rotated by a destructible key means, a blade receiving slot in said barrel, a rotatable blade means having a normal inactive position adapted to traverse said slot, drive means to rotate said blade through said slot whereby said key is destroyed, means in interconnection with said barrel to actuate said :drive means on turning of said key in said barrel, a dispensing means, means to activate said dispensing means responsive to rotation of said blade, and means to deactivate said drive means on return of said blade to said normal inactive position.

2. The invention as defined in claim 1 wherein said drive means is activated by .a first switch and said dispensing means is activated by a second switch, said first switch is closed by turning of said key and said second switch is then closed by contact with said rotating blade means after said key is destroyed.

3. The invention as defined in claim 2 wherein said 4 means in interconnection with said barrel comprises an arm rotatable therewith to actuate said first switch, said first switch when closed actuating a locking means to maintain said arm in actuating position.

4. The invention as defined in claim 3 wherein said second switch releases said locking means when closed by said blade means.

5. The invention as defined in claim 1 wherein said destructible key means is comprised of a non-metallic material selected from the group consisting of paper, cellulose, synthetic resin and plastic.

6. A vending machine comprising a dispenser for fluid and packaged products, a product dispenser control for said dispenser, means to activate said product dispenser control, said means comprising a destructible key means and lock means for reception thereof, means to destroy said key means after actuation of said product dispenser control, said last named means including a movable knife means to sever said key means while in said lock means, means to move said knife means across said key means thereby severing the same, said last named means being actuated by rotation of said key means within said lock means.

7. The invention as defined in claim 6 wherein said means to activate said product dispenser control is in turn activated by the motion of said movable knife means subsequent to the severing of said key means by said knife.

8. The invention as defined in claim 7 wherein said lock means is provided with a transverse slot providing space for transfer of said knife means therethrough, said key means being positioned across said slot in position for severance by said knife means.

9. The invention as defined in claim 7 wherein a control means is provided for said knife means, said control deactivating said means to move said knife means, said control being activated by contact with said knife means after severance of said key means.

10. The invention as defined in claim 9 wherein said destructible key means is comprised of a non-metallic material selected from the group consisting of paper, cellulose, synthetic resin and plastic.

11. A destructible key mechanism comprising a key receiving means having a rotating barrel adapted to be rotated by a destructible key means, a blade receiving slot in said barrel, a rotatable blade means having a normal inactive position adapted to traverse said slot, drive means to rotate said blade through said slot whereby said key is destroyed, means in interconnection with said barrel to actuate said drive means on turning of said key in said barrel, a control means, means to activate said control means responsive to rotation of said blade, and means to deactivate said drive means on said blade to said normal inactive position.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 9/1965 Maxwell et al 1944 5/1966 Bass l944

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3204741 *Jul 25, 1963Sep 7, 1965MaxwellConsumable key vending system
US3249194 *Oct 2, 1964May 3, 1966R & R Res LtdCredit-registering apparatus
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3685625 *Sep 14, 1970Aug 22, 1972Gene LoewyDevice for operating an apparatus for providing prestations
US3998307 *Apr 10, 1975Dec 21, 1976Kolben Felix DavidParking meter
US4637507 *Mar 27, 1985Jan 20, 1987Ronis S.A.Coin lock device for shopping trolleys
US4871053 *Nov 5, 1986Oct 3, 1989Dara CosgraveFracturable-key activated control system
EP0245378A1 *Nov 5, 1986Nov 19, 1987COSGRAVE, DaraFracturable-token system
U.S. Classification194/209, 70/410, 126/25.00R
International ClassificationG07F7/00, G07F7/02
Cooperative ClassificationG07F7/02, G06Q20/3433
European ClassificationG06Q20/3433, G07F7/02