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Publication numberUS3351347 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateNov 7, 1967
Filing dateApr 10, 1964
Priority dateApr 10, 1964
Publication numberUS 3351347 A, US 3351347A, US-A-3351347, US3351347 A, US3351347A
InventorsCharles J Smith, Hugh W Jamieson
Original AssigneeCharles J Smith, Hugh W Jamieson
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Electroluminescent game ball
US 3351347 A
Abstract  available in
Previous page
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

N0V 7, 1967 c. J. SMITH ETAL ELECTROLUMINESCENT GAME BALL Filed Aplfil lO, 1964 INVENTOR 3,351,347 ELECTROLUMINESCENT GAME BALL Charles J. Smith, 11459 Bellagio Road, West Los Angeles,

Calif. 90049, and Hugh W. Jamieson, 11522 Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles, Calif. 490024 Filed Apr. 10, 1964, Ser. No. 358,815 2 Claims. (Cl. 273-213),

' The present invention relates toa ball as used in sporting activities, and particularly to such a ball that radiates light, as for night use. y

Most, if not all sporting activities in which a ball is Y used require the players concentration on the ball. For

United States Patent I n example, in playing golf, the player after analyzing the bient light is sufficient to enable the player to clearly see the Iball. Of course, some playing elds, courts and courses have -been illuminated; however, -usually play at such facilities involves some playing compromise and considerable expense. k Y

Again with reference to the game of golf as an example, courses that are illuminated for night play are usually small, a characteristic necessitated by economic considerations. Furthermore, play in artificial light is ofen ditiicult because of the irregular'light patterns. That is, often the ambient light changes' so rapidly between areas, depending on the arrangement of the lights, that distances and terrain are ditlicult to judge, Aand the ball is hard to follow. Therefore, prior attempts to extend the` useful period of golf courses, as well as many other types of playing fields or areas have not been completely successful. This consideration exists in spite of the fact that a great deal is to be gained by any method or means that economically and effectively extends the useful period of a golf course.

Not only is any increase in the effective period of use of a golf course important, but, economically facilitating play during evening hours when darkness would Votherwise render the lcourse unusable isy extremely important because, during such periods there is a vastly increased number of players who have time available for play.

vIn general, the present invention comprises a ball for use in sporting activities that provides radiating light, which light makes the ball readily visible in darkness and more easily followed in play. The structure of the ball inclu-des an oscillator circuit as incorporating va semiconductor device and abattery to provide electrical oscillations, which circuit is mounted and dynamically balanced in a core of the ball. A ball body is then provided about the core and contiguous the outside cover, electroluminescent means radiates light, energized by the electrical oscillations. Various switching structures' may be included in accordance with the invention for activatingt'he oscillator circuit when the ball is rea-dy to be used. f n

An object of the present invention is to provide an irnproved ball for economic and eifective .use in sporting activities during times of darkness.

Another object of the present invention is to provide an improved ball that radiates light so as to be usable in darkness.

Still another object of Vthe present inventionY is to proy vide a playing ball, e.g. golf ball, that radiates light energy, the operation of which can be initiated from a vlocation remote the energy means. A

A further object of the present invention is to provide a playing ball that appears and responds substantially as a regulation .ball for a particular sport, however, which ball emits light for night use.

Still a further object of the present invention is to provide a ball for use in athletic activities, e.g. golf, which ball is usual in appearance and response, but contains, a means for providing electrical oscillations, an electroluminescent means energizable thereby for efliciently providing light to render theV ball readily-perceivable in dark-` ness, andv a switch means to initiate the electrical oscillations.

ing, wherein: FIGURE 1 is a front elevation of a golf ball constructed in accordance with the present invention;

- `FIGURE 2 is a vertical sectional view taken along line ofthe han of FIGURE 1;

FIGURE 4 is a diagrammatic representation of oneV use can be made for effective use in accordance with the.-

present invention -by applying the teachings hereof. It is, however, yusually important that the ball generally appear and respond substantially as a regulation ball for the sport it is intended. Therefore', the ball as shown -in FIGURE 1 appears as a conventional golf ball, one size of which is lll/i6 in diameter, and is covered lwith an array of some 150 depressions or spherical dimples DA formed in a tough, continuous cover C, formed for example of balata.

In the illustrative embodiment described herein, light radiates from the ball, passing from a location Vinside the cover C, primarily through the dimples D. If the cover C is opaque the dimples are left open, otherwise lightvtransmission rmaterial may provide a thin'layer over the dimples. The light is notusually intense at best, but

rather'is somewhatabove a lglowlevel so that the ball rcan be clearly viewed in good contrast '.tosurrounding darkness orlow-level natural night illumination. In this regard,

the ball hereof offers a somewhat considera-ble advantage be employed .andk additional symbols may be provided;

however the mark M is pertinent to the structure of the invention. Subsequent to manufacture, but before the ball is placed in use, it is important that its contained energy source be preserved. Therefore, the system that provides light within the ball is not actuated until the ball is ready to be used. In one arrangement disclosed herein,

l `the light source is activated by providing a strong magnetic field,` directed at the letter H. In another such ar- V rangement, Operation of the light source is initiated by striking the ball substantially on the spot marked by the g letter H; The energy so applied to the ball closes a vswitch rwithin the ball to operate the light source.v Thereafter, the

yball radiates light and can be effectively used for night play in darkness.

consideringrhe structure of the ban of FIGURE 1 in greater detail, reference will now be had to FIGURE 2. Inside the cover C, and thus contiguous the outer surface of the ball is an electroluminescent means 10, comprising Patented Nov. 7, 1967` These and other objects of the present invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art from a consideration of the following, taken in conjunction with the draw-V- FIGURE 3 is a circuit'diagram of the electrical system .y

an external layer 12, a phosphor layer 14, and internal layer 16. The phosphor layer 14 may comprise various electroluminescent materials, as well known in the prior art, disposed in electrically insulating relationship between the electrically-conductive layers 12 and 16. The layer 16, may. for example be a metallic foil, e.g. aluminum, while the layer 12 may be conductive light-transmitting plastic, as well-known in the prior art relating to electroluminescence.

The electroluminescent means 10, comprising the three spherical layers 12, 14 and 16 lies between a protective coating 18 .and a resiliently-deformable ball body 20 that may take the form of an elastic wrap. The protective coating 18 may comprise various light transmissive materials, e.g. plastic, rubber, etc. which affords protection for the electroluminescent means 10. Regarding the coating 18 and the layers 12, 14 `and 16, the sizes shown in FIGURE l, are merely illustrative and not indicative of actual sizes. Actually, the total thickness of the electro-Y luminescent means may in one form be only %2"; however, other thicknesses can also be successfully used.

Inside the resiliently-deformable body 20 is the core 22 comprising a shell 24 of medium hard rubber for example, encasing a ball center 26 which houses a source 28 of electrical oscillations. The center 26 may consistof various materials, including hard plastic having a specirc gravity near the equivalent specitic gravity of the elements in the source 28. That is, the center 26 is dynamically balanced, just as is the entire ball, and careful selection of the. material in the center 26 facilitates such balancing.

The components of the source 28 of electrical oscillations are described below in detail; however, in function, the source provides electrical energy by which the electroluminescent means 10 produces light. The conductors for providing the. electrical energy to the means 10 extend in each of six directions in space quadrature, and in FIG- URE 2, conductors 30, 32, 34, and 36 are shown. Thus, the conductors tend to balance. Each pair of opposed conductors, e.g. conductors 30 and 36, provide oscillations across the electroluminescent means 10. That is, for example, the conductor 30 is connected to the layer 12 while the conductor 36 is connected to the layer 16, so that oscillations `are applied across the phosphor layer 14 causing it to provide lig-ht by electroluminescence.

The electrical character of the electroluminescent means 10 is similar to a capacitor and when the insulating phosphor is accordingly subjected to an oscillating electrical iield, it produces visible light. The light so produced passes from the phosphor layer 14, through the layer 12, the coating 18 and the dimples to provide light from the ball. The light provided from the ball may be of various intensities for various applications, and can be adjusted by varying the frequency of the oscillations. In one system 500 cycles per second has been found satisfactory.

The source 28 of oscillations may take the form of a battery adapted to drive a semiconductor oscillator. Speciiically in FIGURE 3, a battery 40 has a negative terminal connected through a switch 42 and a resistor 44 to the collector electrode of a transistor 46. The base electrode of the transistor 46 is connected through a resistor ,48 to a conductor 50 that .is connected to the positive terminal of the battery 40. The emitter electrode of the transistor 46 is connected through a parallel combination back to the conductor 50. The parallel combination includes a resistor 52, a capacitor 54 and the electroluminescent means which appears electrically as the capacitor 56.

In the operation ofthe system, the capacitors 54 and 56 are charged and discharged through the transistor 46 in accordance with well-known emitter-controlled pulse oscillator operation. In effect, the emitter current varies in accordance with the capacittive charge to accomplish A oscillations. Usually, the capacitor 54 will be provided to supplement the characteristic capacitance of the electroluminescent means; however, it is to be understood that the capacitance of the electroluminescent means may be eectively used in the source of electrical oscillations las a capacitance while being energized to produce light.

In the use of the ball as disclosed herein, it is normally desirable to preserve the system inoperative pending the time when the ball is to be used. Therefore a long life battery, e.g. dry cell or cadmium unit, may be used, with the switch 42 being operated just prior to the period of use. Of course, a needle hole or other access opening may be provided in the ball to operate the switch; however, it is desirable to have the ball appear regulation, in which case no hole would appear. Therefore, the switch 42 as provided in the ball disclosed herein is `adapted for operation by energy applied at the exterior of the ball as will now be considered.

Referring to FIGURE 4, there are shown a pair of terminals 60 and 62, representing the ends of a simple onoit switch. The terminal 60 is connected to a pivotallymounted leaf contact 64 carrying a weight 66, made for example of steel. Perpendicular the contact 64 is a latch spring 68, resilient in nature and anchored at the lower end 70, which spring is connected to the terminal 62. The upper end of the spring 68 is formed into a latch hook 72.

In the operation of the switch of FIGURE 4, energy is applied to the ball containing the switch to push the contact 64 down latching it under the hook 72 and closing the circuit between the terminals 60 and 62, The applied energy may take the form of a magnetic field acting on the weight 66 applied in accordance with the external ball marking M, to pull the contact 64 down. Alternatively, the ball may be struck so that acceleration forces applied to the weight 66 accomplishes the desired latch up.

Often the ball will be used during a continuous interval of suiicient time to consume the light-producing stored energy. However, in some instances it may be desirable to open the switch and various techniques can be employed. For example, the spring 68 may be formed of magnetic material s'o as to be moved to release the contact 64 upon application of a strong magnetic eld in space quadrature with that previously applied.

Another structure that may be used as the switch 42 is shown in FIGURE 5. An enclosure defines adjacent cavities 82 and 84 joined by a capillary passage 86. The cavity 82 contains a body 88 of mercury, which under normal handling of the ball will not ow through the small capillary passage 86. However, when the ball is struck with a golf club urging it in the direction indicated by the arrow 90, as keyed by the external mark M, a suficient acceleration force is applied to the body 88 of mercury to force some of it through the passage 86.

The interior of the cavity 84 carries a conductive coating 92 connected to one switch terminal 94. Another switch terminal 96 is connected to a conductive screen 98 aihxed near the coating 92 by insulation strips 100. Upon the entry of mercury into the cavity 84, some of it dwells between the screen 98 and the coating 92 to provide a closed circuit between the terminals 94 and 96. As the ball is continued in normal use, suicient mercury will remain in the cavity 84 to maintain a closed circuit between the terminals 94 and 96.

In the manufacture of v-arious balls incorporating the present invention, a wide variety of established techniques may be employed. However, it is usually important to provide an arrangement of the oscillator components, the battery and the switch which can be embedded in the ball center 26 so as to provide a dynamically-balanced sphere. In the manufacture of the ball disclosed herein, the center 26 is enclosed in the shell 24 and the body 20 with the electrical conductors extending therethrough. The layers 12, 14 and 16 are next applied as well known in the electroluminescent art and the conductors are appropriately connected. Last, the protective coating 18 and the cover C are applied to provide a ball in accordance with the present invention.

Thus, it may be seen that the structure of the present invention may be effectively embodied in a golf or other athletic ball for use at night to facilitate elfective play. In this regard, it is to be noted that the use of the ball of the invention not only avoids the considerable expense of illuminating the area of play but furthermore enables play in very limited natural light (essentially darkness) without the problems attendant irregular light patterns. In this regard, play may be more natural than in articial illumination in which attempts are made to simulate daylight.

A further feature of the present invention is the possibility of establishing a desired pattern of light on the playing ball. For example, in the embodiment of a golf ball as described herein, illumination is from the dimples, and this pattern of light may be very useful in studying the balls movement, as on the putting green. In this regard, other types of balls may desirably provide light in various other patterns, e.g. along seam lines, or on spots etc. depending on the sport and the desired showing.

Of course, other important features of the invention will be apparent on study of the disclosed embodiment, and as pointed out above relative that illustrative form; however, it is to be understood that the invention is not to be limited to such form, but rather shall be interpreted in accordance with the following claims.

What is claimed is:

1. A ball for sport use as under conditions of restricted ambient light, comprising:

an electrical oscillator circuit, including a semiconductor device;

battery means for energizing said oscillator circuit;

a ball structure including a resiliently-deformable section, said ball structure enclosing said battery means and said oscillator circuit;

an electroluminescent means contiguous the external surface of said ball structure, said electroluminescent means being energizable by said oscillator circuit to provide light energy; and

switch means contained in said ball structure, actuable to energize said electroluminescent means from said 5 oscillator circuit, said switch means being magnetically actuatable by energy applied exteriorly of said ball.

2. A ball for sport use as under conditions of restricted ambient light, comprising:

an electrical oscillator circuit, including a semiconductor device;

battery means for energizing said oscillator circuit;

a ball structure including a resiliently-deformable section, said ball structure enclosing said battery means and said oscillator circuit;

an electroluminescent means contiguous the external surface of said ball structure, said electroluminescent means being energizable by said oscillator circuit to provide light energy; and

switch means contained in said ball structure, actuatable to energize said electroluminescent means from said oscillator circuit, said switch means being impact actuatable by energy applied exteriorly of said ball.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2/ 1927 Coield 273-213 8/1955 Jenkins 313--108 10/1964 Gurian et al 313-108 1/1966 Allen 46--228 X OTHER REFERENCES Radio-Electronics, June 1956, p. 79.

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3417620 *Oct 24, 1966Dec 24, 1968John CurryGolf practice device
US3458205 *Apr 5, 1965Jul 29, 1969Charles J SmithIlluminable game ball
US3461346 *Dec 27, 1966Aug 12, 1969Leslie G LillyPortable transistorized electro-luminescent night light
US3580575 *Sep 27, 1967May 25, 1971Autotelic Ind LtdGame device including selectively impact operable lights
US3610916 *May 5, 1970Oct 5, 1971Frank P MeehanIlluminable ball with a time delay device
US3645528 *Feb 14, 1969Feb 29, 1972Brunswick CorpBowling ball including tuned loading circuit
US3782730 *Dec 2, 1971Jan 1, 1974Euronics LtdGolf ball
US3790775 *Nov 19, 1971Feb 5, 1974R RosenblattBody ornament with electroluminescent portion
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U.S. Classification473/199, 313/498, 473/570, 200/61.45R, 362/802, 473/200, 331/111, 200/61.47, 473/353, 362/253
International ClassificationA63B43/06
Cooperative ClassificationY10S362/802, A63B43/06
European ClassificationA63B43/06