US 3416801 A
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17, Y J. P. MCKEOWN ROTATING TUBE GAME WITH ROLLING MEMBER Filed D80. 21. 1966 INVENTOR JOHN P McKEOWN United States Patent 3,416,801 ROTATING TUBE GAME WITH ROLLING MEMBER John P. McKeown, 215 Gates Drive, Munhall, Pa. 15120 Filed Dec. 21, 1966, Ser. No. 603,590 11 Claims. (Cl. 273110) The present invention relates to a game structure and more particularly to a game structure which taxes mindmanual coordination and dexterity of all age groups.
My game structure is an absorbing test of skill and coordination which has been found to interest players of almost any age. It exercises manual dexterity as well as the coordination between the mind and the hand. The game structure is arranged so that the component parts thereof are few in number and are relatively uncomplicated. Moreover, the structure can be manipulated with one hand so that the dexterity of one hand of a player can be tested against that of the other hand. By this same token, a more advanced player can offer a handicap to an inexperienced player by playing left-handed, or otherwise With his less-favored hand.
The game structure of my present invention is arranged with a single, uncomplicated moving part adapted for manipulation by the fingers of one hand and thus affords a chance for the development of finger dexterity, particularly of the rotative variety. Thus, the game not only provides an absorbing play, but, in the case of children or young people in general, accentuates the development of that manual dexterity frequently utilized in later life, for example, in the operation of various types of production machines or power tools.
The game structure of my invention is preferably mounted at a stationary location, and thus it is not necessary or desirable to hold the game structure in both hands during play. Therefore, the playing characteristics of the game structure are reproducible from one player to the next to ensure fairness in the competitive use of the game. Further, the relatively stationary position of the game structure during play substantially limits the testing of the players skill substantially to the eye-hand or finger coordination, as only these parts of the players body are exercised during manipulation of the game structure. Therefore, the game structure can be utilized also for testing purposes, as in those cases wherein it is desired to select a limited number of individuals from a group to perform tasks requiring a high degree of manual dexterity, for example, in the operation of certains forms of production machinery.
In manipulating my novel game structure, the object is to propel a ball or marble or the like along a straight, predetermined path in avoidance of movable obstacles placed in the path. These obstacles may be in the form of dropout slots in an inclined and rotatable transparent tube, or a tube provided With other visual access means. The tube must be constantly rotated with the hand and fingers as the ball falls by gravity along the tube to move the obstacles away from the path of the moving ball. This action requires not only excellent hand and finger dexterity, but also a high degree of coordination between the hand and the eye of the player. This follows from the fact that the moving ball, when the game structure 3,415,801 Patented Dec. 17, 1968 is placed as directed on a level surface, always moves with the same speed of travel and, as the ball moves in a straight line, the maximum travel distance of the ball through the game structure is predetermined in every use of the game structure. Likewise, the distances between the movable obstacles and their paths of possible collision with the moving ball are always the same regardless of the particular player who is manipulating the game structure. Therefore, the direction of movement and the rate of travel of the ball through the game structure cannot be influenced by the player, with the exception that his inability to remove one of the movable obstacles from the path of the ball terminates the movement of the ball through the structure. Manipulation of the game structure depends, then, upon a single variable, i.e., the players manual dexterity and more particularly the dexterity of one hand only so that movements of other parts of the players body do not influence the result obtained. This furnishes not only an absorbing and interesting play, but also provides reliable test results of manual and particularly rotative finger dexterity ,when the game structure is so used.
Various forms of game apparatus involving rolling balls or marbles have been disclosed heretofore. For example, the patents to Parker (1,291,105) and to Leonard (747,- 989), disclose a ball maze arranged on a fiat board or the like. In the Parker patent the board is inclined and is rockable by the player about the longitudinal axis of the board. Accordingly, the game structure exercises not rotative finger dexterity, but arm and hand dexterity. Moreover, the course or path and speed of the moving ball is never the same but depends upon the character of movements imparted to the board by a particular player. Therefore, the Parker device in addition introduces too many variables to permit the device to be used for testing purposes. The Leonard apparatus suffers from the same disadvantages of the Parker device and moreover, in the majority of its modifications, the maze type board or plate structure is suspended at its center so that it can be inclined in any direction; as result, the ball can be reversed in its path to introduce still another variable.
In a more recent disclosure Dreyer Patent 3,211,457, a transparent tube is utilized having a series of aligned and apertured partitions therein with the object being to cause balls to drop through the aperture by rotating and shaking the tube. However, the Dreyer apparatus requires the game structure to be held vertically in both hands and thus involves other parts of the players body rather than the sole exercise of finger dexterity and eye-hand coordination. Moreover, the path of the balls through the game structure is variable since the motion of a given ball can be continued even after it meets an obstacle along its path. Therefore, test or game results are not reproducible and are difficult to measure.
The patent to Young (3,075,770) shows another ball maze including a stacked series of parallel tubes having communicating openings therebetween and other openings which permit the balls to drop out of the tubes. The,
stacked tubes are tilted back and forth by holding the tubes in both hands of the player in an attempt to cause the ball to pass from the uppermost 'tube to the lowermost tube through the intermediate tubes and communicating openings therebetween without passing out of the drop out openings. Here again, the rate of travel of the ball is controlled by the individual player, and the game structure, being held in the hands of the player, can be supported in a variety of positions. Therefore, the Young structure does not exercise finger dexterity and the characteristics of each use of the game structure are not reproducible from one player to another.
The Heinig Patent 966,091 provides game apparatus including an elongated, variably inclined band where the object is to cause a ball to roll along the band without falling off its lateral edges. One end of the band is fixed and the other end of the band is secured to a handle which is grasped by both hands of the player. Accordingly, the player determines the inclination of the band and the rate of travel of the ball. Moreover, the path of the ball is not likely to be straight, and there are no movable obstacles positioned at predetermined distances along the length of the path. Accordingly, the exact manner of using the Heinig game structure likewise is not reproducible from one player to another.
The Becker Patent 1,845,473 discloses a ball maze consisting of an inclined tortuous path structure which is rotated to cause the ball to pass therethrough and to fall vertically through a number of vertically alignable openings, which bridge gaps in the path. The path is largely defined by a number of elongated twisted springs, which permits the progress of the ball to be observed. Although the tortuous path is generally inclined, the rate of travel of the ball through the path is entirely under the control of the individual player rather than completely under the influence of gravity. The tortuous spring structure is wound about a central axle coupled to a wheel intended to be grasped by both hands of the player. Thus, the Becker structure does not exercise finger dexterity of one hand of the player. Although the obstacles in the path of the ball comprising the aforementioned vertical gaps are, to be sure, movable, they cease to become obstacles at a single predetermined rotative position of the tortuous path structure. The time of travel of the ball through the Becker apparatus and also between the individual obstacles thereof is entirely at the control of the player and thus the associated playing time is not self-timed. Therefore, the playing time resulting from use of the Becker apparatus may be uncontrollably long and thus reproducible playing conditions, or testing conditions if the structure is so used, cannot be obtained.
Many similar game structures are known, all of which suffer from the disadvantages pointed out above with reference to this representative sampling of the prior art. Therefore, my game structure, which will presently be described in detail, offers a number of significant improvements in comparison to known game structures. In summary, my game structure exercises a particular type of bodily coordination viz., eye-finger dexterity, permits the testing of one hand against the other, provides enjoyment whether manipulated by a single player or by a number of players competitively, develops rotative finger dexterity in the player, is self-timed in operation so that a given player cannot manipulate the structure in a slow and annoying manner such as in competitive play, and presents a predetermined path and travel time of a ball through the apparatus so that the apparatus can be used reproducibly for testing purposes if desired and so that each player is subjected to identical playing conditions.
I accomplish the aforementioned desirable features of my invention by providing in a game structure, the combination comprising an elongated tube, means for supporting said tube in an inclined position thereof, said tube being rotatably mounted in said supporting means and having openings adjacent its ends to receive and to discharge a rolling member such as a ball and the like, said tube having a number of obstacles spaced along the length thereof and movable into and out of the path of said rolling member, and means forming at least part of the wall structure of said tube for providing visual access to said rolling member as it moves along the length of said tube. In certain arrangements of my novel game structure said obstacles are openings provided in walls of said tube, said openings being sized to permit said rolling member to drop therethrough when said openings are disposed in the path thereof, said supporting means comprises a pair of spaced upright supports mounted adjacent the ends of an elongated base member and a plurality of scoring compartments are disposed along the length of said base member at positions respectively beneath said obstacle openings.
During the foregoing discussion various objects, features and advantages of the invention have been set forth. These and other objects, features and advantages of the invention, together with structural details thereof Will be elaborated upon during the forthcoming description of certain presently preferred embodiments of the invention and certain presently preferred methods of practicing the same.
In the accompanying drawings, I have shown certain presently preferred embodiments of the invention together with certain presently preferred methods of practicing the same wherein:
FIGURE 1 is a side elevational view of one form of game structure in accordance with my invention;
FIGURE 2 is a top plan view of the apparatus as shown in FIGURE 1;
FIGURE 3 is a bottom plan view of the apparatus as shown in FIGURE 1;
FIGURE 4 is a left end elevational view of the apparatus as shown in FIGURE 1;
FIGURE 5 is a right end elevational view of the apparatus as shown in FIGURE 1; and
FIGURE 6 is a partial cross-sectional view of the game structure as shown in FIGURE 1 and taken along reference line "VI-VI. thereof.
Referring now more particularly to the drawings, my exemplary game structure 10 shown therein comprises an elongated flat base member 12 having an upright support 14 or 16 adjacent each end thereof respectively. To define a path of travel for a ball or marble 18 through the game structure 12, an elongated tube 20 is furnished. The tube 20 is supported upon the supports 14 and 16 at a relatively slight inclination with respect to the base 12 by engagement with apertures 22 and 24 formed respectively in the supports 14, '16. In the example shown, the elevation of the right end of the tube 20 relative to the left end thereof, as viewed in FIGURE 1 of the drawings, is denoted by dimensensional arrows 26. It will be appreciated, of course, that a greater or lesser elevation can be provided depending upon the rate of travel desired for the ball 18 through the tube 20. However, for a given game apparatus, as constructed in accordance with my invention, the rate of travel will always be constant when the base 12 of the apparatus 10 is supported upon a level surface.
The tube 20 can be fabricated from any convenient structural material, and in the illustrated embodiment the tube is fabricated from a transparent plastic material such as acrylic plastic. Alternatively, the tube can be fabricated from a relatively rigid opaque material having its surface provided with a number of closely spaced slots or aperatures which are dimensioned to prevent the ball 18 from falling therethrough but which provide a screen effect and resulting visual access to the ball 18.
The plastic tube 20, in this example, is provided with a pair of collars 27 secured thereon and disposed adjacent the opposed sides of one of the upright supports 14 or 16, for example the support 16. The collars 27 are fixedly secured to the tube 20 as by gluing or welding to prevent withdrawal of the tube 20 from the supports 14 and 16. The tube 20 otherwise is freely rotatable in the apertures 22, 24 of the supports 14, 16.
To provide a convenient means for rotating the projecting end portion 28 of the tube 20, an annual member or wheel 30 is secured to the adjacent end of the tube 20. The wheel 30 can be fabricated from a suitable material such as plastic or plywood and can be secured to the tube 20 by gluing or welding depending upon the materials involved. It will be understood that the wheel 30 can be dispensed with and the tube 20 can be rotated by grasping the adjacent end portion 28 with the fingers.
Along the length of the tube 20 are disposed a number of apertures 32 in the sides, top and bottom of the tube 20, as viewed in FIGURE 1 of the drawings. These apertures 32 desirably are arranged in an equally spaced alternating or spiral array along the length of the tube 20. Each aperture 32 is larger than the ball 18 so as to provide dropout obstacles therefor. Therefore, in order to permit the ball 18 to roll by gravity along the full length of the tube 20, it is necessary to rotate the tube 20 for the purpose of successively removing the dropout apertures 32 from the path of the ball 18 as the latter approaches each opening 32. The lower end 34 of the tube 20 is left open so that the ball, if it succeeds in traversing the entire length of the tube 20, can drop out of the lower end 34 into a final scoring compartment 36 defined by end wall member 38, the adjacent upright support 14 and a head or rod section 40 secured adjacent the rear edge of the base 12.
The surface of the base member 12 is desirably divided into a number of intermediate scoring portions 41, each associated with one of the dropout openings 32, by a number of transversely extending rods or beads 42. In this arrangement of the invention, the base member 12 is sloped toward the rear, as viewed in FIGURE 1 of the drawings, by an elevator strip 44 secured to the underside of the base member 12 and extending along the front edge thereof, as better shown in FIGURE 3 of the drawings. To retain the ball 18 within a given one of the scoring positions or compartments 41 into which it may fall, a longitudinal rod member or bead 46 is secured along the rear lateral edge of the base member 12, as better shown in FIGURE 2 of the drawings. Thus, as shown in FIGURE 1, each of the scoring portions 41 is disposed directly beneath an associated one of the dropout openings 32. Suitable scores can be allotted to the inter mediate scoring positions 41 and to the final scoring position 36 consonant with the increasing difiiculty of obtaining these positions as the ball progresses along the length of the tube 20.
When playing the game, the ball 18 is placed in the upper open end 48 of the tube 20 whereupon it commences to roll by gravity toward the lower open end 34 thereof. To prevent the ball 18 from falling through the first opening 32a, the tube 20 is rotatively displaced in either the clockwise and counterclockwise direction by grasping and turning the wheel 30 with the fingers. This action removes the obstacle in the form of opening 32a from the path of the ball 18, but at the same time places one of the succeeding openings 32 into the path of the ball. Therefore, the tube 20 must be continually adjusted by turning the wheel 30 as the ball passes along the length thereof to successively remove the openings 32 from its path of travel.
If the player successfully causes the ball 18 to elude each of the openings 13 by proper manipulation of the wheel 30, the ball 18 drops out of the lower open end 34 of the tube 20 into the final or highest scoring compart ment 36. The openings 32 are, of course, larger in diameter than that of the ball 18 so that the ball readily drops therethrough. If desired, the openings 32 are of such size so as to provide axial overlappage, as better shown in FIGURE 6, with the result that there is no rotative position of the tube 20 whereat an essentially unobstructed path through the tube is provided.
The game structure can be rendered easier or more difiicult to manipulate by decreasing or increasing the slope or inclination of the tube 20 or by decreasing or increasing the number of dropout openings 32 or both. Alternatively, the openings 32 can be irregularly spaced along the length of the tube 20 and/or certain of the openings 32 can be made larger than others, although all of the openings 32 are sized to permit the ball 18 to drop therethrough.
With my game structure, it will be seen that the path of the ball 18 follows an essentially straight line through the structure, that its maximum length of travel is constant, that the time of passage of the ball through the tube 20 is constant for a given elongation 26 thereof (provided the base member 12 is placed on a level surface), and that the time of passage between adjacent dropout openings 32 is constant. Therefore, the playing conditions associated with use of the game structure 10 are repro ducible, which heightens the interest in the game and the sense of competition when there are more than one player. In addition, this reproducibility of playing conditions makes the game structure applicable to testing or development of manual and particularly finger dexterity and attendant eye-hand coordination.
From the foregoing, it will be apparent that novel and efficient forms of game structures have been disclosed herein. While I have shown and described certain presently preferred embodiments of the invention and have illustrated presently preferred methods of practicing the same, it is to be distinctly understood that the invention is not limited thereto but may be otherwise variously embodied and practiced within the scope of the following claims.
1. In a game structure, the combination comprising at least one rolling member, an elongated tube, means for supporting said tube in an inclined position thereof, said tube being rotatably mounted in said supporting means and having openings adjacent its ends to receive and to discharge said rolling member, such as a ball and said tube having a number of obstacles spaced along the length thereof and movable into and out of the path of said rolling member, and means forming at least part of the tubular wall structure of said tube for providing visual access to said rolling member as it moves along the length of said tube.
2. The combination according to claim 1 wherein said obstacles are openings provided in walls of said tube, said openings being sized to permit said rolling member to drop thercthrough when said openings are disposed in the path thereof.
3. The combination according to claim 2 wherein said tube is open at both ends and said obstacle openings are disposed in a spiral array.
4. The combination according to claim 2 wherein said obstacle openings are equally spaced along the length of said tube.
5. The combination according to claim 1 wherein said visual access means comprises a tube fabricated from a transparent material.
6. The combination according to claim 1 wherein said supporting means comprises a pair of spaced upright supports mounted adjacent the ends of an elongated base member.
7. The combination according to claim 6 wherein a plurality of scoring compartments are disposed along the length of said base member at positions respectively beneath said obstacle openings.
8. The combination according to claim 1 wherein said tube is open at both ends, and an annular knob is mounted on said tube adjacent one end thereof to facilitate rotation of said tube.
9. The combination according to claim 1 wherein said tube is open at both ends, and compartment means are positioned adjacent the lower end of said tube for receiving said rolling member when it exits from said open lower end.
10. The combination according to claim 7 wherein said scoring compartments are delineated by a longitudinal rod and a plurality of spaced transversely extending rods secured to the upper surface of said base member, and a longitudinally extending elevator strip is secured to the under surface of said base member and laterally displaced relative to said longitudinal rod to laterally incline said base member so said rolling member rolls by gravity against said longitudinal rod.
11. The combination according to claim .2 wherein said openings are sized so as to afiord axial overlappage with others of said openings so that no rotative position of said tube afiords a straight line path therealong for said rolling member in avoidance of said apertures.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS Bryan 273-110 Naylor 273115 Jackson 273-113 Zalkind 461 X US. Cl. X.R.
UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE CERTIFICATE OF CORRECTION Patent No. 3,416,801 December 17 196 John P. McKeown It is certified that error appears in the above identified patent and that said Letters Patent are hereby corrected as shown below:
Column 4, line 51, "dimensensional should read dimensional line 65 "aperatures" should read apertures Column 5 line 2, annual" should read annular line 44, "inter mediate" should read intermediate Column 6, line 37, cancel "such as a ball and".
Signed and sealed this 17th day of March 1970.
WILLIAM E. SCHUYLER, JR.
Edward M. Fletcher, Jr.
Commissioner of Patents Attesting Officer