US 3430495 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
March 4, 1969 H W BURGE 3,430,495
LIQUID SAMPLE SUPPLY APPARATUS Filed Sept. 22, 1966 Sheell 0f 3 INVENTOR HELMUT w. BURGE ATTORNEY March 4, 1969 y H. w. BURGE Y 3,430,495
LIQUID SAMPLE SUPPLY APPARATUS Filed Sept. 22, 1966 Sheet Z of 5 1e I 1T 24 un I [lk il l LL lr r :|L l .l0 FL: (Il 1 I [l 11 4 1 15 25 21 12 FIGB FIG.4 A
12 24 L 1 i START 28 L l L R TRAVEL oT UP 1 i RMMD t I I I MEMRER 1401 M 1 Jig l i l 45T /l l i fmfggo) 1, VROM wAsR coMTAmERza l ER0M REcEPTAcLE 10 MovARLE ELEMEMT14215TART l T0 RECEPTACLE 10 f LTO MASH c0RTA1RER2a REM TRAVEL 0E RoTATE L SAMPLE MovRRLE 47 l suRPoRT112) sToTJ 1 iV V N Y MovEn 11R I I TRAVEL 0E EXTENDED i MovMRLE 49 l ELEMEMT1421 coMTRAcTEn 1 1 TTME March 4, 1969 H. w. BRGE 3,430,495
LIQUID SAMPLE SUPPLY APPARATUS Filed Sept. 22, 1966 Sheet 3 of 'z United States Patent O 3,430,495 LIQUID SAMPLE SUPPLY APPARATUS Helmut W. Brge, Mountain View, Calif., assignor to International Business Machines Corporation, Armonk,
N.Y., a corporation of New York Filed Sept. 22, 1966, Ser. No. 581,219
U.S. Cl. 73-423 Int. Cl. G01n J/60 6 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE This invention relates to apparatus for moving synchronously with other apparatus and, more particularly, to material handling apparatus for conveying material synchronously with a moving material receptacle.
Although this invention finds application in many environments, it tinds special utility when used with uid analyzing apparatus of the type where fluid samples are conveyed serially on a transport to a sampling station. A preferred embodiment of this invention will thus be described with reference to that type of equipment. However, it should be understood that the invention is Well adapted to solving similar material handling problems in other environments.
The material handling operation may be exemplified by siphoning uid from a receptacle, such as a test tube. (However, it may also include operations such as conveying solid particles to a receptacle.) A plurality of such test tubes are mounted, for example, on a turntable and the turntable indexed so as to present the test tubes individually to a sampling station. The turntable is halted at the sampling station; a Siphon is inserted in a test tube; and the uid is extracted, or siphoned away. The tiuid is then conveyed to associated testing apparatus. The turntable is not indexed until the siphoning operation is completed. In order to make efficient use of all equipment (including the associated testing apparatus), the time allotted for the turntable rotation and for the sampling operation is normally limited. During this limited time, it is desirable to extract as much fluid as possible. To extract more iiuid from the test tube, it was necessary in the prior art to leave the siphon in the tube for a longer time; less time was then available for indexing the turntable. This was a problem facing the prior art.
That problem is accentuated when, as is common today, a number of such analytical instruments are operated under the control of a central control unit. Each tube has an associated unit record card, and that card can -be scanned only when the turntable is rotated. Further, communication with the central control unit is only possible when the turntable is rotated. It is normally desired to minimize the individual siphoningtime so that the maximum time during a given interval of time is available for communication with the central control unit. The problem is further complicated by the fact that, with prior art apparatus, it is necessary to stop the turntable rotation prior to inserting the Siphon and to keep the turntable stationary While the siphoning operation takes place. Even less time is then available per cycle for communicating with the central control unit (and for rotating the turntable).
Accordingly, it is a general object of this invention to provide an improved apparatus for traveling in synchronism with other apparatus.
Another general object of this invention is to provide improved material handling apparatus.
Yet another object of this invention is to provide improved apparatus for supplying material to, or extracting material from, a moving material receptacle.
Still another object of this invention is to provide apparatus for handling an increased volume of material in a given time even though the flow rate of material remains constant.
Another object of this invention is to provide apparatus -for continuous processing of iiuid samples wherein the necessity of stopping associated apparatus during a sampling interval is eliminated.
A further object of this invention is to provide apparatus for utilization with an associated data acquisition -system that will increase the capacity of said data acquisition system.
A more particular object of this invention is to provide apparatus for siphoning fluid from a moving fluid sa-mple holder.
Still another object of this invention is to provide apparatus of the type described that can be restored automatically to its initial position at the conclusion of the material handling operation.
Stated briefly, my invention relates to apparatus chal'- acterized by a variable pivot point and an automatic restoration feature. The variable pivot point allows my apparatus to move in synchronism with another moving unit. The automatic restoration feature restores the apparatus to an original position upon completion of the synchronous movement.
A preferred embodiment of my invention relates to material handling apparatus. That apparatus has the variable pivot point and automatic restoration features noted before. Further, that apparatus includes a material conduit for transporting the material. A conduit support structure, having relatively movable and rigid members, holds the material conduit in at least a iirst position. The movable and rigid members are initially aligned. The material con-- duit cooperates with a material receptacle, mounted on a movable receptacle support. Motive, or drive, means moves the material conduit into engagement with the ma` terial receptacle, and subsequently disengages the material conduit from the receptacle. The conduit support structure and the material receptacle travel in synchronism for a finite time by employing the variable pivot point of my invention. The movable and rigid members are thus moved out of alignment. My apparatus also includes structure responsive to disengagement of the conduit support means from the material receptacle; that structure restores the conduit support means (and the material conduit) to a position of alignment.
The advantages owing from my invention are several, but perhaps most important is the ability to convey material to or from a moving material receptacle without stopping the movement of that receptacle. In other words, the conduit can be inserted when the material receptacle is available and the siphoning, or alternatively filling. operations can take place as the receptacle moves along. Thus, the siphoning, or filling, operation can be completed while other associated operations are also being accomplished, Stated differently, more time will be left in a given interval of time for associated operations other than the siphoning or filling of fluid.
Relatively few parts, forming a variable pivot point, enable the material conduit to move with the material receptacle. This variable pivot comes about, not through a complex arrangement of those parts, but rather through a slot and pin arrangement. As a further advantage, a spring biasing linkage can be utilized to return the conduit support structure to its aligned position after the siphoning or filling of a given receptacle is completed. The design of my invention need not be a complex venture.
Synchronizing the motion of the material conduit with the moving receptacle is also simplied. Engagement of an extension on the conduit support member with a hole in the receptacle support structure as shown in one embodiment of my invention insures that the two will travel together. Both the material conduit and the engaging extension may be variably positioned so as to provide ready adjustment for optimum operation.
When a data acquisition system is -used with a plurality of fluid handling devices (that is, when a number of uid handling `devices are controlled by a central control unit), the operation of that data acquisition system is enhanced by this invention. Prior to this invention, the fluid sample was siphoned only while the fluid receptacle was stationary. Similarly, the processing of data on an associated unit record card was accomplished only while the fluid sample holder was moving. Thus, the number of uid handling ydevices controlled 'by a single control unit in a xed period of time was related to the amount of fluid withdrawn per sample; i.e., siphoning a greater amount of fluid per sample took more time and reduced the total number of samples that could be processed under the direction of the control unit. Thus, the num-ber of units accommodated by a central control unit was thereby decreased. Now, siphoning takes place while the uid sample holder is moving so that a greater amount of fluid per sample can be withdrawn without reducing the total samples processed by the central control unit. Therefore, the overall capacity of the data acquisition system is not decreased, yet -greater amounts of lluid are made available for analysis. Nor is the communication period with the central control unit shortened.
The foregoing and other objects, features and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following more particular description of the invention as illustrated in the accompanying drawings.
In the drawings:
FIGURE 1 is a perspective view of my invention operating with a plurality of fluid handling devices and a central control unit.
FIGURE 2 is a plan view of my invention.
FIGURE 3 is a sectional view along line 3 3 of FIGURE 2.
FIGURE 4 shows the timing relationships of my inventions components.
FIGURE 5 shows suitable apparatus for imparting vertical motion to my invention.
FIGURE 6 shows suitable apparatus for imparting horizontal motion to my invention.
With reference to the drawings, FIGURE 1 shows in perspective form the apparatus of my invention operating in an exemplary environment; namely, a plurality of fluid sampling units 2 controlled by a central control unit 18. That central control unit 18 could, for example, comprise a portion of an IBM 1080 Data Acquisition System; more particularly, an IBM 1081 DAS Control Model 2. Each unit 2 includes material receptacles 10 (shown for exemplary purposes as test tubes), which are mounted on a movable material receptacle support 12 with the aid of a spring 17. 4In this exemplary emfbodiment, a unit record card 14 is associated with each material receptacle and mounted behind it; card 14 contains coded data which is descriptive of the uid 15 within receptacle 10. Disposed within movable support 12 is a unit record card reader 16 which interprets the data contained on each unit record card 14 as support 12 is rotated. Reader 16 operates under the control of control unit 18, via communication channel 20. Card reader 16 may, for example, be an IBM 1084 Card Reader. The rotation of support 12 is similarly controlled by control unit 18 through signals provided on cable 22. A fluid extraction unit 24, having mounted thereon the novel structure 26 of my invention, is disposed in operable relationship with movable support 12 as is a wash unit 28. A common base structure 29 may also be provided for stabilizing the structure shown. The relative motions of movable support 12 and structure 26 of my invention are synchronized (for example, via timing signals on `cable 30 which, in turn, can be provided by reader 16 on control unit 18). As shown Aby the dotted elements, a plurality of such units may =be operated under the direction of control unit 18.
With reference to the operation of the structure shown in FIGURE l, it can be seen that fluid extraction unit 24 extracts a sample of fluid 15 from receptacle 10 and forwards it to associated analyzing apparatus, which is not shown for simplicitys sake. In order to do this, support 12 must be indexed to present a receptacle 10 to structure 26, which, as will be explained more fully hereinafter, contains a Siphon needle 27. Flexible tube 31 is connected to needle 27 so as to convey lluid 15 to associated testing apparatus. Structure 26 is then lowered so that siphon needle 27 is inserted into receptacle 10, and (as will be explained more fully hereinafter) moves with the noted receptacle 10 as support 12 is rotated. While fluid is siphoned from receptacle 10, unit record card 14 is sensed lby reader 116. When sufficient fluid has been extracted from receptacle 10, structure 26 is elevated, thereby removing siphon needle 27 from receptacle 10. Structure 26 is then rotated so as to position siphon needle 27 over `wash container 28. Structure 26 is depressed, and Siphon needle 27 inserted in Wash container 28, where it is flushed clean. Structure 26 is then elevated and rotated back to its original position Where it is ready for a second sampling operation. The unique aspects of structure 26 providing this function will be explained in more detail with reference to FIGURE 2 and succeeding figures.
FIGURE 2 may best be explained concurrently with FIGURE 3 which is a sectional view taken along line 3--3 of FIGURE 2. FIGURE 2 shows, in plan view, selective portions of the apparatus set forth in FIGURE 1. Like numbers will be used for like parts. A plurality of receptacles 10, which are shown for purposes of example as test tubes, are shown mounted on Imovable support 12, which, for example, may be a turntable. In actual practice, receptacles 10 may be mounted in a fixture 11, which, in turn, is connected by screw 13 to support 12. Spring clip 17 cooperates 'with edges 19 of fixture 11 to hold receptacle 10 rigid. Similarly, in actual practice, support 12 may travel on bearings 21 (Shown more clearly in FIGURE 3) along surface 23 of base 29. Unit record cards 14 may be positioned in slots 25. Fluid extraction unit 24 and wash container 28 are shown in operable relationship to movable support 12. Structure 26, shown in more detail, comprises a rigid member 40, which is free to move in both the vertical and horizontal directions. Mounted on rigid member 40, and in alignment therewith, is an element 42, movable with respect to rigid member 40. Movable element 42 has a slot 44 which cooperates with pin 46 mounted on rigid member 40 so as to allow element 42 to move relative to member 40. The movement of element 42 is further controlled by spring means 48 connecting element 42 to extension 50 of rigid member 40; spring means 48 serves to restore element 42 to a position of alignment with member 40. Further, siphon needle 27 is rigidly supported in movable member 42, although it may be positioned at different levels therein With the aid of screw 51. In a preferred embodiment, movable element 42 has an extension 54 adapted for insertion in a mating groove 56 in xture 11, or else in movable support 12. Extension 54 may be positioned at different levels with reference to element 42 by screw 55. Fluid extraction unit 24 and wash container 28 are positioned as before.
Having described the structural aspects of my invention, it will be helpful to consult FIGURE 4 before dcscribing its operations. FIGURE 4 is a timing diagram for explaining the relative motion between the apparatus shown in the preceding figures, particularly FIGURE 2. The upper two graphs (curves 43, 45) plot the vertical motion of element 40 and the horizontal (i.e., rotational) motion of element 40 against time respectively. The third graph (curve 47) plots the motion of movable support 12 against time, fwhile the bottom graph (curve 49) plots the motion of movable element 42 (i.e., is it extended or contracted) against time. The start position, or zero intersection on the time axis, assumes that Siphon needle 27 is immersed in wash container 28 and that a receptacle is in a sampling position; see the schematic drawing accompanying FIGURE 4.
With continued reference, then, to FIGURE 4, curve 43 shows that rigid member 40 is elevated until siphon needle 27 is clear of wash container 28. Member 40 and movable element 42 are then rotated until such time as Siphon needle 27 is positioned over receptacle 10 in a sampling position; see curve 45. Member 40 then descends so as to insert Siphon needle 27 into receptacle 10. In the preferred embodiment of FIGURES 2 and 3, extension 54 on element 42 is substantially simultaneously inserted in groove 56 in fixture 11. Support 12 is then rotated as noted by curve 47 of FIGURE 4 and element 42 is pulled along by the coaction of element 54 and groove S6. To accomplish this, spring 48 is extended and slot 44 is displaced relative to pin 46. Member 40 and element 42 are then in the position shown as 26' in FIG- URE 2. The coaction of lpin 46 and slot 44 provides a variable pivot point. During this time, fluid is extracted from receptacle 10 through siphon needle 27. When the siphoning is completed, siphon needle 27 is removed from receptacle 10, as is extension 54 from groove 56, by elevating member 40. Spring 48 contracts, and returns movable element 42 to its original position of alignment with member 40. Member 40 is rotated so as to position Siphon needle 27 over Wash container 28, and member 40 is depressed so as to immerse needle 27 into wash container 28. Member 40 and element 42 are then in the position shown as 26 in FIGURE 2. After completion of the wash operation, the cycle of operation is repeated.
Looking back now at FIGURES 2, 3 and 4, as an instructional unit, it can be seen that my invention allows siphon needle 27 to move with receptacle 10 and siphon fluid therefrom as receptacle 10 moves. It is no longer necessary for receptacle 10 to be stationary while the siphoning operation takes place. The coaction of slot 44 lwith pin 46 on member 40 provides a variable pivot point for element 42, thereby allowing element 42 to move with receptacle 10. Similarly, the engagement of extension 54 with groove 56 in -xture 1.1, which is attached to movable support 12, synchronizes the movement of receptacle 10 and element 42. Although element 42 is in an extended position at the end of the siphoning operation, it is unnecessary to provide elaborate drive means to return element 42 to its original position of alignment with rigid member 40. Spring 48, connecting element 42 to extension 50 of member 40, performs this function by swiftly and surely contracting element 42. By inserting needle 27 at the leading edge of receptacle 10 and extracting it from the trailing edge, a maximum of siphoning time can be obtained. The concept of siphoning while the siphon mechanism travels in synchronism with a material receptacle is then accomplished with the utilization of simple, yet reliable, parts.
Turning to FIGURE 5, a suitable mechanism for imparting the necessary vertical motion to rigid member 40 is set forth. Arm 41 of member 40, having a pin-like extension 70, is shown. Free to move on pin-like extension 70 is a slotted member 72 which pivots at point 74. Disposed beneath, and in operable relationship with, member 72 is a substantially rectangular member 76. Member 76 has pins 78, 80 projecting from opposite ends thereof. Member 76 pivots about shaft 82 which is driven by a motor k84. Normally-closed switch 86 controls the supply of energy from source to motor 84. A start signal (provided, for example, from control unit 18 through normally open switch 87) causes motor 84 to rotate shaft 82, thereby turning element 76 in a counter-clockwise direction. Arm 88 of switch 86 no longer contacts pin 80 on member 76; switch 86 closes; and switch 87 opens. Current is supplied thereby to motor `84 so as to continue the counter-clockwise rotation of member 76. Member 72 is in turn forced upwards by the action of member 76 upon it. That upward force is transmitted to member l40 through pin 70 and arm 41. When members 76 and 72 are in the position shown in dotted lines and labeled 76', 72', member 40 is driven through its apex (also shown in phantom and labeled 40'). As element 76 continues to rotate in a counterclockwise direction, member 40 begins its downward movement. It continues to descend until such time `as pin 78 on member 76 contacts arm `88 of switch 86, `causing switch 86 to open. The supply of current to motor 84 is cut olf; shaft 82 no longer rotates; and member 40 comes to rest in its down position.
The motion imparted to member 40 takes place as siphon needle 27 is lifted from wash container 28 and then inserted into a receptacle 10, for example, as well as during lifting of needle 27 from receptacle 10 and insertion of needle 27 into wash container 28. As -would be apparent to one skilled in this art, the extent of travel for member 40 can be controlled by varying the dirnensions of elements 72 and 76. The speed of motion imparted to member 40 is controlled by the speed of motor 84. One skilled in this art could substitute other satisfactory mechanisms for generating this motion; the one shown in FIGURE 5 is set forth primarily for purposes of example.
FIGURE 6 shows a suitable mechanism for moving member 40 in the horizontal direction (i.e., rotating member 40) between periods of vertical movement. One exemplary way of yaccomplishing this is to have a cam 90 mounted on the opposite end of shaft 82 shown in FIG- URE 5. Motor 84 (not shown in FIGURE 6) supplies a common source of motive power. Cam 90 is so contoured as to engage a follower 92 mounted on member 94. Member 94, in turn, rotates about a pivot point 96. Attached to one end of member 94 is spring 98, that spring is attached to a machine frame 100. Extending from member 94 is an elongated member 102 which, in turn, contacts arm `41 of mem-ber 40. As cam 90 rotates in a clockwise direction, and follower 92 rides on surface 104, element 40 is rotated in a clockwise direction, when viewed from a plan perspective. When edge 106 of cam 90 contacts pin 92 on member 914, element 40 `does not move in the horizontal, or rotational, direction. At this time, movable member `42 is being conveyed by support 12.
Other suitable drive mechanisms could be designed by one skilled in this art to move Siphon needle 27 in the desired manner. Those shown in FIGURES 5 and 6 are merely exemplary of mechanisms which are available and will accomplish the desired movement.
The dimensional relationships for the various parts shown in the accompanying drawings will vary with the apparatus chosen. It is only essential that slot 44 be sufiiciently long to allow the movable element 42 to move with movable support 12, and, in turn, receptacle 10. The spring constant K of spring means V48 will likewise vary in accordance with the characteristics of particular applications; factors such as speed of return, freedom of bounce, etc., will be instrumental in the selection of a particular spring.
While the invention has been particularly shown and described with reference to preferred embodiments thereof, it will be understood by those skilled in this art that the foregoing and other changes in form and details may 7 be made therein rwithout departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.
1. Apparatus for moving in synchronism with a moving structure comprising in combination:
a rigid member and an element movable relative to said rigid member, said element being mounted on said rigid member and initially in alignment with said rigid member;
means for pivoting said element about a point on said rigid member, said means including a slot in said element;
means connected to said element for engaging said moving structure, thereby causing said moving structure and said element to travel synchronously; and
means responsive to disengagement of said last-mentioned means for automatically restoring said element to a position of alignment with said rigid member.
2. A material handling apparatus comprising in combination:
a material conduit;
support means having a rigid member and a movable element for supporting said material conduit in at least a first position;
said Vsupport means including a variable pivoted, elongated element carrying said material conduit in one end thereof, said elongated element having a slot therein and said support means further including an extension engaging said slot, thereby forming a pivot point for said variable pivoted, elongated element;
at least one material receptacle;
a movable material receptacle support for supporting said material receptacle;
motive means for moving said conduit into engagement with one said material receptacle and thence in disengagement from said -one material receptacle, said conduit and said material receptacle thereby traveling synchronously for a ydiscrete time; and
means responsive to disengagement of said support means for restoring said support means to said dirst position.
3. Material handling apparatus of the type set forth in claim 2 wherein said means for restoring `said support means includes spring means acting between said rigid member and said movable element.
4. Material handling apparatus comprising in combination:
a material conduit; support means having a rigid member and a movable element for supporting said material conduit in at least a -rst position; said support means including a variable pivoted, elongated element carrying said material conduit in one end thereof, said elongated element having a slot therein and said support means further including an extension engaging said slot,
thereby forming a pivot point for said variable pivoted, elongated member;
at least one material receptacle;
a movable material receptacle support for supporting said material receptacle;
motive means for moving said support means into engagement with said moving material receptacle support and thence in disengagement from said moving material receptacle support, said support means and said material receptacle support thereby traveling synchronously for a discrete time; and
means responsive to disengagement of `said support means for restoring said support means to said rst position.
5. Material handling apparatus of the type set forth in claim `4 wherein said means for restoring said support means includes spring means acting between said rigid member and said movable element.
6. Apparatus for siphoning fluid from a moving fluid lreceptacle comprising in combination:
a Siphon needle;
support means having a rigid member and a movable element for supporting said siphon needle in a plurality of positions, including a rst position wherein said rigid member and said movable element are in a position of substantial alignment, said rigid member having an extension substantially perpendicular to said rigid member and said movable element having a closed, longitudinal `slot for engaging said extension on said rigid member, said extension and said slot forming a variable pivot point for said movable element about said rigid member;
a least one fluid receptacle;
a movable uid receptacle support comprising a `substantially circular element having at least said one iluid receptacle mounted thereon;
motive means for moving said support means into engagement with said movable fluid receptacle support and thence in disengagement from `said movable iluid receptacle support, said movable element of said support means and said movable fluid receptacle support thereby traveling synchronously for a discrete time as said movable uid receptacle support moves and said slot pivots about said extension; and
spring means responsive to disengagement of said support mean for restoring said support means to said irst position, said `spring means connecting said rigid member to said movable element.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS S. CLEMENT SWISHER, Primary Examiner.