US 3404474 A
Abstract available in
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Oct. 8, 1968 J. F. JOHNSON 3,404,474
' LIGHTED SIGN Fileddune 21, 1965 y/MH I N VEN TOR. JAMssEJbmvso/v United States Patent 3,404,474 LIGHTED SIGN James F. Johnson, 3560 Welcome Ave. N. Minneapolis, Minn. 55422 Filed June 21, 1965, Ser. No. 465,355 4 Claims. (Cl. 40130) ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A lighted house number sign secured to the side of a house. The sign has a rectangular base secured to the side of the house around a female electrical outlet box. The base has an inwardly directed peripheral shoulder providing a recess and carrying a seal. A luminescent flat panel fits into the recess of the shoulder and engages the seal. Attached to the back of the luminescent panel are male electrical connectors which cooperate with the female electrical outlet box. Positioned over the luminescent panel are flat number blocks indicating the house number. The blocks have transparent numbers and biased edges. A rectangular frame is used to maintain the blocks in position over the luminescent panel and to hold both the blocks and the luminescent panel in assembled relation with the frame. An alternative silhouette letter is secured by an adhesive directly to the face of the luminescent panel.
This invention relates to lighted signs such as house numbers and similar type signs that are often being searched for after dark and are desirably lighted so as to be read even under these conditions. It consists of a luminescent panel which includes, as an integral part of it, one-half of a cooperating electrical connector, preferably the male half. The panel is plugged directly into a female electrical outlet so that the luminescent panel which lights the sign may be quickly and easily changed. A base, which provides a support for the luminescent panel, may also serve to hold a seal that surrounds the outlet box to protect it from the weather when the sign is used out-of-doors. Another seal within the base provides a weather-tight joint between the luminescent panel and the base. The luminescent panel is held in compression relationship with the gasket that it engages in the base by a frame that screws to the base and may also secure in place the message forming symbols if they are of the stencil type. An alternative type of silhouette letter may be secured by adhesive directly to the face of the luminescent panel. Stencil type letters are biased along the marginal edges to seal each stencil symbol designating block to the next block to prevent undesired emission of light between the blocks.
The main object of this invention is to provide an illuminated sign of improved character, and specifically to provide a sign that:
(1) is consistently supplied with power so that it will always be readily visible under conditions of low natural light;
(2) can be maintained in operating condition by anyone who is able to use a screw driver;
(3) is adaptable to altered messages.
Other and further objects of the invention are those inherent and apparent in the apparatus as described, pictured and claimed.
To the accomplishment of the foregoing and related ends, this invention then comprises the features hereinafter fully described and particularly pointed out in the claims, the following description setting forth in detail certain illustrative embodiments of the invention, these being indicative, however, of but a few of the various ways in which the principles of the invention may be employed.
The invention willbe described with reference to the ice drawings in which corresponding numerals refer to the same parts and in which:
FIGURE 1 is a perspective view of the doorway including an isometric view of the invention disclosed as a house street number sign;
FIGURE 2 is a greatly enlarged front elevation of the lighted sign; broken lines show hidden parts;
FIGURE 3 is a vertical section taken on the line and in the direction of the arrows 3--3 of FIGURE 2 and drawn to the same scale; broken lines show hidden parts;
FIGURE 4 is a perspective view of a pair of stencil type number blocks drawn to a reduced scale to that used in FIGURES 2 and 3, but to a larger scale than FIGURE 1; and
FIGURE 5 is a perspective view of a luminescent panel with silhouette type of message conveying symbols as an alternative form thereof; broken lines illustrate hidden parts; FIGURE 5 is drawn to a scale between that of FIGURE 4 and FIGURES 2 and 3.
Referring to the drawings and specifically first of all to FIGURE 1, the external frame of the sign 10 is seen on an exterior wall 12 of a building adjacent to the doorway 14. Within frame 10 the message designating blocks 16 are clearly visible.
In FIGURE 3 the method of mounting the box is illustrated. The siding 12 is secured in a traditional manner over sheathing 18 and a common electrical outlet box 20 is recessed in the wall. The box contains the usual female outlet electrical connector which is not shown nor are the wires providing a source of electrical energy thereto. A conventional plate 22 covers the box to prevent accidental contact with the energized electrical leads that extend to the female connector.
The base member 24 is secured to at least the siding and preferably to the sheathing and siding in any suitable manner that will produce compression force on the base with respect to the exterior wall of the house as by using wood screws 26. Base 24 is larger than the electrical box 20 and surrounds its otherwise exposed base plate 22. Any suitable means for supporting a sealing gasket 28 is provided in the base member 24. As shown in FIGURE 3 this gasket 28 is held in a recess in base .24 and the gasket itself is provided with openings to allow the screws 26 to extend therethrough. In this manner, base 24 is secured to the exterior wall of the house in a weather-tight manner.
Inside or in the front face of the base 24 is formed a shoulder as shown at 30 which is provided with an annular groove that receives a sealing gasket such as that shown in section 32. Luminescent panel of conventional construction is shown at 34. It engages the gasket 32 and also has a male connector 36 secured thereto which when the panel 34 is in place on the base 24 will engage the female connector in electrical box 20.
Message forming blocks 16 are placed on top of the luminscent panel 34 and are pushed against the luminescent panel which in turn forces the luminescent panel against the gasket 32 by suitable means such as the frame 38. Frame 38 is suitably secured to base 24 as by the screws 40 which extend into threaded wells in base 24.
In FIGURE 2, one of these threaded wells is illustrated at 42 and similar wells are provided for all of the screws identified in number 40 holding the frame 10 to the base member 24. Frame 10 itself is not sealed nor is any attempt made to have it weatherproof. Rather it serves as an appearance or finishing member which serves the additional functions of holding stencil type message forming blocks in place and applying compression between the luminescent panel 34 and gasket 32. As base 24 is sealed to the wall on which the sign is mounted and the gasket 32 seals the back side of the luminescent panel 34 to the 3 base, the sign is well adapted to exterior use as for house number signs.
In FIGURE 2, one of the message forming symbols is less Wide in nature than the balance of the symbols. This is true of the numeral one and also of several letters. In the case of the numeral one and narrow letters such as the letter I, the stencil type numbers, which are light impervious blocks, are provided with a pair of spacers 44a, 44b. The spacers are lightly secured to the narrow message designating symbol block so that they can be broken there from and placed at opposite ends of the total message as shown in FIGURE 2 in order to compensate for the narrow character of that one message conveying symbol. In this manner the total message is centered in the opening of frame 10 and at the same time standard size blocks may be used for all of the symbols for conveying messages.
As appears in FIGURE 4, when the stencil type message conveying symbols are used, the vertical edges of the blocks are biased so that there is some overlap between the blocks in order to make sure that all of the luminescent panels are obscured except those portions of the stencil type blocks which are cut away to form the symbols. This may be seen in FIGURE 4 at 46. All blocks are biased identically on the right and also like each other on the left side so that regardless of the order in which they are placed, they will fit together as shown in FIGURE 4. It is also true of the spacer blocks 44a and 44b in the case of narrow symbol designations so that there is a total obscuring of the luminescent panel with the exception of the desired message.
In FIGURE 5 a modified device for putting the message on the luminescent panel is illustrated. The luminescent panel is identical to that shown in FIGURES 2 and 3 and hence is designated by the same number 34. As in the previous instance there are male connector plugs 36 secured to the back side thereof for engaging the female electrical connector in box 20. The principal difference between these two forms of the invention lies in the numbers 48 which instead of being a stencil type are silhouette type. These numbers are formed from any suitable opaque material that will contrast with the face of the luminescent panel in daylight if the sign is of a nature that is desirably read under all conditions. On the reverse side of the numbers 48 is adhesive which in turn is covered with a peel-off type protector while not in use. When it is determined what the sign shall say, appropriate symbols are selected and the protective covering peeled off. Thereupon the device may be secured by the pressure sensitive adhesive directly to the face of the luminescent panel. One symbol in FIGURE 5 is shown rolled back to show the pressure sensitive adhesive at 50. Shoulder 30 in base 24 should be less deeply set when the thin forms of symbol forming material are used so that frame will surely compress the gasket 32 and seal panel 34 to base 24. A similar result could be achieved by putting the adhered symbols onto a transparent plate as at 52 in FIGURE 5. Plate 52 would be the same thickness as the blocks 16. If that type of structure were used, the base 24 could be standard for all forms of the device. A general rule would be that shoulder should be spaced a lesser distance from the front of frame 24 than all the elements that are inserted between shoulder 30 and frame 10.
It is conceivable that there would be signs of various sorts that one would want to have visible only under conditions of reduced natural light. Under these circumstances the designating symbols could be made of a material which contrasts very little or not at all with the face of the luminescent panel 34 but which are, nevertheless, opaque to light. When a strong light impinges on the surface of panel 34 such as daylight, for example, non-contrasting letters would not be visible or at least easily visible so as to attract attention. As natural light conditions dim, however, as after sunset or on cloudy days, the luminescent panel would glow as compared to the numbers or other symbols conveying the message and therefore make the message readily visible. The adhered numbers also have the distinct advantage of not requiring any spacer block in order to have the numbers evenly spaced on the luminescent panel.
This same technique, of using non-contrasting block, may be used to some extent with the stencil type symbols, but not as successfully on the basis of present experience. Whenever attempting to make a sign nearly illegible under normal daylight conditions, it is advisable to use as thin a. material for the symbol units 16 and 48 as possible. When using very thin material, the problem of shadows disclosing the sign under conditions when it is not desired is minimized. In the stencil form of sign, the panels may be made of the same material as the silhouette type and overlapped at their edges.
In any of the described structures, the luminescent panel is always powered so that the sign is never accidentally left unlighted. A switch may be included if desired, but the panels use such a small amount of energy that it is possible to leave them energized. Panels using the materials that have been demonstrated to have the longest life will function continuously for a number of years. When they go out, only the screws holding frame 10 need to be removed to lift off the frame, unplug the panel and replace the panel with a new one. Anyone who can use a screw driver can make the replacement in minutes. In addition to the simplicity of this replacement, this structure has the merit of being either totally lighted or completely out. Hence no confusion regarding the message to be conveyed occurs as a result of one or more symbols being unlighted while others are lit.
It is also necessary that the basic luminescent panel as supplied by the manufacturer be sealed against the adverse atfects of being exposed to the weather. This may be done in any conventional manner that has a minimum light reducing affect. Either poly or epoxy resin is a suitable coating for sealing the panel, but the transparency of the former makes it preferred.
It is apparent that many modifications and variations of this invention as hereinbefore set forth may be made without departing from the spirit and scope thereof. The specific embodiments described are given by way of example only and the invention is limited only by the terms of the appended claims.
What is claimed is:
1. A lighted sign comprising: an electrical box having a powered female outlet therein adapted to be recessed in an exterior wall; an open rectangular base larger than said electrical box and adapted to be engaged with the same exterior wall as said electrical box; said open rectangular base surrounding said electrical box, a gasket between said base and a wall it engages; fasteners securing said base and gasket to an exterior wall under compression to make a weather tight seal of said gasket; an inwardly directed shoulder on said base; a second gasket on said shoulder; a luminescent panel having a male electrical connector secured thereto inserted in said base with the male electrical connector in said female outlet and one side of said panel near its edges located adjacent said shoulder and engaging said second gasket; symbol means located over said panel partially obscuring the surface of said panel; and a frame means secured to said base embracing the edges of said symbol means and forcing said luminescent panel into sealing engagement with said second gasket.
2. The lighted sign of claim 1 in which the symbol defining members comprise panels as tall as the luminescent panel and covering a portion of its surface except for the symbol designation formed therein and the marginal edges of each of said symbol defining members is biased to form a light-tight seal between adjacent members.
3. The lighted sign of claim 1 wherein said inwardly.
directed shoulder has a continuous groove for accommodating a second gasket.
4. The lighted sign of claim 1 wherein said inwardly directed shoulder forms an inner peripheral recess in the base for receiving the edges of the panel.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS Chieger 240-73 Blockson 40-130 Brooks 40-130 Harrold 40-130 Knockel 313-108 Knockel 313-108 LAWRENCE CHARLES, Primary Examiner.