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Publication numberUS3441952 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateApr 29, 1969
Filing dateDec 4, 1967
Priority dateDec 4, 1967
Publication numberUS 3441952 A, US 3441952A, US-A-3441952, US3441952 A, US3441952A
InventorsStrader John Gary
Original AssigneeStrader John Gary
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Hand held propulsion unit
US 3441952 A
Abstract  available in
Previous page
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

A ril 29, 1969 J. G. STRADER 3,441,952

HAND HELD PROPULSION UNIT Sheet of 4 Filed Dec. 4, 1967 April 29, 1969 Y J. G. STRADER HAND HELD PROPULSION UNIT Sheet 2 of4 Filed Dec. 4, 1967 April 9, 1969 J. 3. STRADER 3,441,952:

HAND HELD PROPULSION uum Sheet 3 of4 Filed Dec. 4, 1967 'April29,1 969 J. G. ST AQER 3, 1,

HAND HELD PROPULSiON UNIT Filed Dec. 4, 1967 7 Sheet 4 bf 4 United States Patent 3,441,952 HAND HELD PROPULSION UNIT John Gary Strader, 360 N. Saltair Breutwood, Calif. 94513 Filed Dec. 4, 1967, Ser. No. 687,768 Int. Cl. 1363c 11 /00; B6311 1/14 US. Cl. 115-61 14 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE The present invention relates to a battery operated propulsion unit for swimers and more particularly to a hand held, electrically powered propulsion unit combined with a remote battery power source.

Batteries generally available to underwater swimmers have been adapted for relatively extended use, eg five hours without exceeding the weight and volume limitations of port-ability, Certain battery types may even be mounted on the swimmers torso. Reference is made to prior Patent 3,329,118 for some discussion of the battery power sources now available to underwater swimmers. Patent 3,329,118 shows a battery operated propulsion unit adapted for attachment to the swimmers torso by a body harness which leaves arms and legs unhindered. While such an approach seems self-evidently highly desirable, in practice, the unhampered freedom of arms and legs is more apparent than real since little is done with the hands other than guiding the forward motion of the swimmer when the propulsion system is in operation.

A small hand-held propulsion unit loosely tethered to the swimmer may in fact be more advantageous than a torso mounted system. It can hamper the swimmers activities less. A loosely tethered propulsion unit of zero buoyancy can be hooked to a belt or body harness or even laid aside when the swimmer wishes unhindered arms and hands, yet remains conveniently at hand when the swimmer wishes to travel. Moreover, a hand-held unit may have a shape appropriate for streamlined movement. Efiicient use of available power is of more than passing importance for battery powered underwater propulsion systems.

The principal object of this invention, is to provide a small hand-held battery powered propulsion unit for underwater swimmers.

A further object of the invention is to provide an underwater propulsion unit of a miniaturized nature which does not block the swimmers line of sight.

Another object of the present invention is .to provide a hand-held battery powered propulsion unit and remote power source system for underwater swimmers.

Further objects and the advantages of the present invention will be apparent from the following description, wherein preferred embodiments thereof are described in detail, without limiting the scope of the invention set forth in the appended claims.

The present invention provides for separating the propulsion unit and power source. The power source, i.e. the battery, is attached to the swimmers torso as for example by being made part of a belt structure, causing the swimmer or diver to be self-contained. The battery 3,441,952 Patented Apr. 29, 1969 'ice may also be disposed in a floating structure (eg a buoy) tethered to the swimmer by a power line umbilical.

The propulsion unit is formed in an efficient shape for underwater movement, being in a preferred embodiment, a small hand-held unit shaped like a delta wing having a generally cylindrical, hollow center portion. An electric motor is disposed in the center portion with the motor drive shaft extending through a seal at the rear of the center portion to a propeller mounted thereon adjacent the rear edge of the center portion. A pair of hand grips are provided on the wing for the swimmer so that he may be drawn along behind the propulsion unit. A power line extends out from the motor of the propulsion unit to a plug connection on a belt or harness secured to the swimmers torso. This power line, alone or with a tie line or cord, tethers the propulsion unit to the swimmer.

The battery power source attached to the plug connection may be a multiplicity of cells mounted on a belt or harness on the swimmers torso, e.g., silver-cadmium or nickel-cadmium cells.

Alternatively, the power source may be more remote, being for example, a battery encased in a buoy structure from which a power line extends to a plug connection on belt or harness means mounted on the swimmer. The buoy power source is, of course, particularly adapted for swimming in shallow waters. However, construction of a buoy power source with essentially zero buoyancy permits the buoy to be towed behind the swimmer at depths.

For a description of the structure of the present invention, reference is now made to the attached drawings, wherein:

FIGURE 1 is a perspective view of a swimmer being propelled by a propelling unit being supplied with power from a buoy;

FIGURE 2 is a perspective view of the buoy with its source of power;

FIGURE 3 is a perspective view of the swimmer being propelled by a belt mounted power source;

FIGURE 4 is a perspective view of the propulsion unit;

FIGURE 5 is an exploded view showing component parts of the propulsion unit;

FIGURE 6 is a perspective view of a belt mounted battery power source with parts broken away;

FIGURE 7 is a section taken along 77 of FIG- URE 4;

FIGURE 8 is a section taken along 88 of FIG- URE 4;

FIGURE 9 diagrammatically shows a camera mount fastened to the propulsion unit, with the camera shown in broken lines;

FIGURE 10 is a fragmentary section taken along line 10I0 of FIGURE 9 showing the electrical connection between the propulsion unit and an accessory;

FIGURE 11 diagrammatically shows a battery pack compressed air cylinder assembly; and

FIGURE 12 diagrammatically shows the propulsion unit mounted to drive a small boat.

As may be seen in FIGURE 1, a swimmer 1 is drawn along under water by the forward movement of propulsion unit 10. Power from a battery inside buoy 50 is transmitted via power line 72 to a location on the swimmers torso, e.g. a belt 82, from which a plug connection to the power line 28 of propulsion unit 10 provides the current from the electric motor inside propulsion unit 10.

Alternatively, as is shown in FIGURE 3, the power line 28 of propulsion unit 10 can be plugged into cells or batteries 42 mounted in a belt 40 around the swimmers torso, or on the swimmers back as in the mode illustrated by FIGURE 11 where battery pack is associated with the lung or compressed air supply tank 96.

The shape and construction of propulsion unit may best be appreciated by reference to FIGURES 4 through 8, which illustrate how propulsion unit 10 comprises a sealed housing 12 formed in the shape of a delta wing 14 having a bulbous, almost cylindrical center portion 16. Housing 12 may be assembled by gluing together molded top half 11 and bottom half 13, these housing members being for example high strength plastic materials, polyester fiberglass laminates being particularly suitable.

The bulbous hollow center portion 16 of housing 12 is adapted to contain an electric motor 18. The motor shaft 20 extends axially out of housing 12 through a pressure and water tight seal structure 22 (of a conventional character) and a screw propeller 24 is mounted on the end of shaft 20. A removable hatch 17 provides access to housing 12 for repair purposes.

The specific size and shape of the wing 14 is subject to wide variation yet be within the hydrodynamic considerations for high efiiciency movement through water at the desired velocity. As illustrated the delta wing shape is preferred with a small wing span (eg 2 feet) provided in keeping with the hand-held propulsion concept. Advantageously, efficient shape and convenient size is consistent also with the buoyancy control obtainable through predetermining the amount of hollow space left inside housing 12. Thus propulsion unit 10 can be made with negative, or positive, or even zero buoyancy through proper proportioning of the hollow space to the total weight (in water) for the buoyancy desired.

The interior of housing 12 is, of course, made pressure and water tight and in addition housing 12 is capable of withstanding substantial external and internal pressures. Desirably, valve 26 (which may for example be an ordinary tire valve) is provided so that the interior of housing 12 may be pressurized. Aside from whatever advantages an internal gas pressure offers against collapse of housing 12 at great depths, positive air pressure inside propulsion unit 10 permits the swimmer to test for leaks, e.g. at seal 22, hand grips 32 and 34, etc. A full shroud 38 and guard 39 protect the swimmer from propeller 24.

Current from the electric motor 18 in propulsion unit 10 is provided from the remote battery source by way of power line 28, which extends from a pressure tight sealed opening 15 (see FIGURES 3 and 5) on the rear of wing 14 to a terminal jack 30 which jack is adapted to plug into a matching jack 44 on the swimmers belt 40 (or alternatively on a body harness).

A pair of hand grips 32 and 34 are disposed adjacent the rear corners of wing 14 and in a preferred embodiment, as is shown in FIGURE 4 of the drawing, grips 32, 34 upstand obliquely from wing 14. They could as well extend out directly in line with the wing or be at some convenient angle thereto. A waterproof switch 36 (e.g. a toggle switch) on hand grip 32 controls propulsion unit 10, the switch 36 being adapted for operation by the thumb of swimmer 1 or by movement of the palm of his hand.

The tops of hand grips 32, 34 have threaded fittings 33 therein for removably attaching accessories to propulsion unit 10, as for example the camera 100 shown in FIG- URE 9. Suitably, camera 100 is mounted on a yoke 91 which attaches to hand grips 32, 34 and to the nose of wing 14. An electrical plug (waterproof) connection 35 on grip 32 (see FIGURE 10) serves to provide power to the accessories. The camera thereby rests at a convenient location relative both to propulsion unit 10 and to the line of sight of swimmer 1.

It may be noted that the same or a similar yoke 90 may be employed to connect propulsion unit 10 to a small craft (e.g. row boat) 116 by way of a shaft 110 and bearing bracket 114. The steering rod 112 may be provided with a control switch. Since skin and scuba diving is frequently done from small craft, the possibilities for operating propulsion unit 10 (off a boat battery) offers the swimmer a desirable safety feature against the event of motor failure.

Allusion has already been made that separating the battery power source from propulsion unit 10 is desirable. Separation permits construction of a small, self-contained, propulsion unit. Desirably the power line of the propulsion unit is tethered to the swimmers torso. In one mode of the invention, the battery source of power is mounted directly on the swimmers torso by a belt or harness. FIG- URE 6 illustrates a belt member 40 holding a series of miniature batteries 42 (in series connection) inside a waterproof shroud 43. A belt jack 44 is adapted to plug into the jack 30 on the power line 28 of propulsion unit 10.

FIGURE 11 shows another mode where battery pack is associated with the self-contained underwater breathing apparatus 96.

An alternative power source, or a supplemental source of power, is the buoy mounted battery illustrated in FIG- URES l and 2 of the drawings. The buoy 50 comprises an enclosed body, e.g. spherical 52 with an annular skirt 54 medially therearound (at about the Water line). Optionally, a rubber bumper fringe 56 may be on the peripheral edge of skirt 54. The top half of sphere 52 contains a port 58, which, in a preferred embodiment, opens on hinge 60 and secures by latch 62 into watertight sealing engagement. The battery 64 is, or course, inside the hollow sphere or chamber 52. Suitably, battery 64 may be a conventional heavy duty 12-volt lead-acid battery. If desired, the buoy 50 may be incorporated into a catamaran or trimaran.

Extending up from sphere or chamber 52, suitably from the top side of port 58, is a post 66 for a diver down flag or pennant 68. Pennant post 66 may serve as a receiving antenna; thus it may be noted that the buoy 50 serves both as power source and as carrier for the diver down flag. A transmitting antenna 67 may be provided on buoy 50 along with a radio inside buoy 50 so that the swimmer may communicate with other divers or with any boat equipped with a receiver of the same frequency.

At the underwater side of sphere or chamber 52 is a half moon runner 70 (of stainless steel) extending from one side of the periphery of skirt 54 around to the other side. Runner 70 passes closely adjacent where the power line 72 passes from the under side of sphere 52 by way of a watertight juncture 74 therewith. A pulley 75 is attached to runner 70. The purpose of pulley 75 is to stabilize buoy 50 while under tow and to prevent stress at water tight juncture 74. A separate line may be provided for tethering purposes, and/ or alternatively for communication if the swimmer is provided with a radio.

Desirably, the underside of buoy 50 is provided with three legs 78 so that buoy 50 may be set upright on the legs 78 when out of water for recharging battery 64. When buoy 50 is in the water, legs 78, which are hingedly mounted, are placed into an up position generally parallel to skirt 54, as is shown in FIGURE 1. The skirt 54 acts generally to maintain buoy stability, preventing capsize when forward motion by swimmer 1 tugs at the pulley connection 75 of power line 72. The botttom of buoy 50 need not be restricted to a sphere shape. The bottom can be squared off for seating on shore without the need of legs or any sort of tripod.

Power line 72 terminates at a plug-in jack 84 on the swimmers belt 82 (or harness) which may of course be the battery containing belt 40 constructed with jack 84 and an associated separate jack for attachment to jack 30 of the propulsion unit 10 power line 28. Thus, the connection between the propulsion unit 10 and the buoy power supply 50 is by way of means on the swimmers torso, which means form then an important link between the power source and the propulsion unit.

Interposing the swimmer between the buoy 50 (or whatever remote power source such as the boat itself) and propulsion unit 10 maintains the swimmer as a vital part of the connection, providing thereby a significant safety measure against loss of the gear in a moment of panic or excitement. The belt 82 may have thereon a clip 83 on which propulsion unit can be hung when not in use.

While the buoy 50 has been described in terms of a floating unit, it should be understood that weight and volume of buoy and battery may be predetermined to provide a near zero buoyancy, making the buoy power supply amenable to submergence should the swimmer wish to go deeper than the length of power line 72. Indeed, the buoy may be towed behind swimmer 1 at considerable depths.

Although the invention has been set forth in conjunction with exemplary preferred tethering and power supply embodiments thereof, other tethering and power supply embodiments are contemplated, Thus, for example, the swimmer and propulsion unit may be tethered to and powered by a submarine, or from an undersea installation like a sea-lab.

What is claimed is:

1. An electrically operated hand held propulsion unit for underwater swimmers comprising a sealed housing formed into a winged shape with a bulbous hollow center portion; an electric motor mounted inside said center portion at least partially filling the hollow space in said housing, the drive shaft of said motor extending out the rear of said housing; shaft sealing means on said housing adapted to maintain a watertight seal at the juncture of said motor shaft and housing; a propeller mounted on said shaft for propelling the propulsion unit when said motor is energized; a pair of spaced apart hand grips mounted on the wing area of said unit, one of said grips being provided with switch means for energizing said motor; and a power line for said motor extending through said housing for supplying current from a remote source.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said wing shape is a delta wing whose rear edge is about in line with said propeller.

3. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said hand grips are mounted adjacent the rear of said wing area and upstand therefrom.

4. The apparatus provided for pressurizing the interior mg.

5. The apparatus of claim 3 wherein a shroud and propeller guard extend around the propeller.

6. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said hand grips contain screw hole mounting means, whereby an accessor may be secured to said unit.

7. The apparatus of claim 6 wherein an electric outlet means is provided on said unit.

of claim 1 wherein valve means are of said sealed hous- 8. The apparatus of claim 1 including a battery power source attachable to the swimmer.

9. The apparatus of claim 8 wherein said battery power source is mounted on a belt intended to go around the swimmers torso.

10. The apparatus of claim 8 wherein said power source is mounted in a floating structure and said floating structure is tethered to means adapted for attachment to the swimmer.

, 11. An electrically operated propulsion system for underwater swimmers comprising a hand held electric motor driven propulsion unit; a battery power source; and power connections therebetween attachable to the swimmer, said power source further comprising a buoy adapted to contain the battery therein, said buoy being in the form of a spherical body with an annular skirt horizontally therearound at a mid region thereof, a runner extending from one side of the disc to the other at the underside of said buoy, the connection from said buoy to the swimmer extending from a bottom location on said buoy adjacent said runner, whereby said runner acts to prevent buoy capsize when motion of said swimmer tugs on the buoy connection.

12. The apparatus of claim 11 wherein said buoy further contains an access port on the top side half thereof to provide access to said battery.

13. The apparatus of claim 11 wherein legs are provided on the underwater side of said buoy whereby said buoy may stand upright on dry land.

14. An electrically operated propulsion system for underwater swimmers comprising a motor driven propulsion unit with hand grip operating members thereon; a battery power source separate therefrom; and a power connection therebetween attachable to the swimmer, said power source further comprising means adapted for attachment to the torso of a swimmer, a waterproofed battery forming a part of said means, said power connection serving also to tether said propulsion unit to the swimmer.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,918,889 12/1959 Rebikoif. 3,014,448 12/1961 Fogarty et al. 6.1 3,039,415 6/ 1962 Foster.

FOREIGN PATENTS 92,265 8/ 1958 Norway.

TRYGVE, M. BLIX, Primary Examiner.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US2918889 *Jun 18, 1956Dec 29, 1959Cinefot Internat CorpControl means for underwater vehicle
US3014448 *Apr 21, 1959Dec 26, 1961Fogarty Wilfred JUnderwater propulsion device for swimmers
US3039415 *Oct 26, 1959Jun 19, 1962Foster Franz MDiving apparatus
NO92265A * Title not available
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3638353 *Feb 3, 1970Feb 1, 1972Mattel IncAquanaut toy propulsion assembly
US3685480 *Apr 14, 1970Aug 22, 1972Seatech CorpPersonal underwater vehicle
US3716229 *Mar 26, 1970Feb 13, 1973Usines Fabelty SaRecreational apparatus
US4700654 *Jun 27, 1986Oct 20, 1987Michael BorgesPropulsion device for swimmers and divers
US4843998 *Dec 11, 1987Jul 4, 1989David ParkerSubmersible drive means
US4938722 *Jun 29, 1989Jul 3, 1990Rizley Harold KFisherman's float propelling system
US5105753 *Feb 27, 1990Apr 21, 1992Chih Liu PMulti-purpose underwater propelling device
US5704817 *Apr 16, 1996Jan 6, 1998Vaughn; Wayne P.Water surface propulsion device
US6036555 *Mar 19, 1998Mar 14, 2000Takacs; JohnOne-hand held float drive
US6461204 *May 25, 2000Oct 8, 2002Toshiba Tec Kabushiki KaishaSwimming assistance apparatus
EP0662905A1 *Sep 30, 1993Jul 19, 1995Mode Industries, IncorporatedSubmersible marine vessel
EP0662905A4 *Sep 30, 1993Nov 15, 1995Mode Ind IncSubmersible marine vessel.
U.S. Classification440/6, 440/71
International ClassificationA63B35/12, A63B35/00
Cooperative ClassificationA63B35/12
European ClassificationA63B35/12