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Publication numberUS3466045 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateSep 9, 1969
Filing dateMar 21, 1966
Priority dateMar 21, 1966
Publication numberUS 3466045 A, US 3466045A, US-A-3466045, US3466045 A, US3466045A
InventorsWalton Fredric B
Original AssigneeWalton Fredric B
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Random selector system for advertising,sales promotion,and selection of award recipients
US 3466045 A
Abstract  available in
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

F. B. WALTON 3,466,045 RANDOM SELECTOR SYSTEM FOR ADVERTISING, SALES Sept. 9, 1969 PROMOTION, AND SELECTION OF AWARD RECIPIENTS Filed March 21, 1956 2 Sheets-Sheet l lgzza INVENTOR.

FREDRIC B. WALTON ATTORNEY p 1969 F. B. WALTON 3.46 9

RANDOM SELECTOR SYSTEM FOR ADVERTlSlNU, SALES PROMOTION, AND SELECTION OF AWARD RECIPIENTS Filed March 21, 1966 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 INVENTOR.

FREDRIC B. WALTON ATTORNEY United States Patent US. Cl. 273-138 7 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A random electric circuit closing apparatus that includes a hollow cylindrical housing wherein the lower internal surface is provided with a plurality of recesses into which a ball rolling upon such surface may randomly seat. Some of the recesses have electrical contacts therein and the ball, which is electrically conductive, will bridge such contacts if the ball comes to rest in a recess so equipped. An electrically driven rotary vane periodically moves the ball from the lower portion of the housing (and such recess in which it is seated) and allows the ball to fall gravitationally so as to roll upon the surface and again become randomly seated in one of the recesses. Normally open electrical signal circuit means are coupled to the contacts which may be bridged by the ball.

The present invention relates to apparatus that will signal the occurrence of a randomly occurring event for use in conjunction with a pre-established set of rules such that the signal will serve to designate the person or persons thereby entitled to an award, premium discount or the like in sales or good-will promotion efforts.

The present invention has to do with apparatus having objectives and capable of serving functions analogous to the prior art proposals set forth in the following US. patents, the disclosures of which are herein incorporated by reference:

I6J.S. Patent No. 3,129,004, issued to Ritzler Apr. 14, 19 4.

1 21.8. Patent No. 2,998,252 issued to St. Martin Aug. 29,

1921.8. Patent No. 3,138,385 issued to Giacobello June 23,

U.S. Patent No. 2,781,949 issued to Stoneburner Feb. 19, 1957.

US. Patent No. 2,361,977 issued to Stair Nov. 7, 1944.

US. Patent No. 2,679,398 issued to Jameson May 25, 1954.

US. Patent No. 2,256,782 issued to Pappert Sept. 23, 1941.

A broad aspect of the invention involves i a random selector switch the provision of an improvement comprising a body having a recess in the top thereof adapted to receive the lower portion of a ball therein, an electrically conductive ball receivable in the recess, said recess having a depth substantially less than the radius of the ball whereby only the lower portion of the ball is receivable in the recess and whereby the ball can be removed from the recess upon the application of a horizontally directed force to the ball, and an electrical contact in the recess engageable with the ball when the latter is received in the recess, said contact being electrically insulated from the body, whereby the ball may electrically close a circuit through the electrical contact.

A more limited aspect of this aspect of the invention involves the foregoing, wherein said body has a generally concave upper surface so constructed and arranged for gravitationally retaining thereon a ball rolling thereupon, and said body having a second recess in the top thereof adapted to receive the lower portion of the ball and having a depth substantially less than the radius of the ball, the arrangement and construction being such that the ball can in rolling upon the concave surface of the body roll into and be received and retained in either the first mentioned or the second recess until forced therefrom, whereby the ball can be sequestered against subsequent movement into the other recess and will on being received and retained in the second recess be prevented from engaging the electrical contact in the first mentioned recess.

Still another broad aspect of the invention involves, in apparatus for closing an electric circuit in a random manner, the improvement comprising a plurality of individual means for competing to capture a ball moving among such plurality of individual means, at least one and less than all of said individual means being provided with a normally open circuit element means responsive to capture of a ball by such individual means to close such circuit element means, a ball, and means for periodically freeing the ball from the plurality of individual means and causing movement of the freed ball among the plurality of individual means, whereby a predetermined probability of closure of the normally open circuit element means is caused to recur periodically. This aspect of the invention has a more limited aspect, wherein the last recited means includes an electric cash register provided with an intermittently energized, electrically actuated registering means, with the normally open circuit means being in electrical parallel to the registering means, and means operative upon the signal means being coupled to a source of electrical energy to keep the signal means coupled to a source of electrical energy.

Yet another aspect of the invention involves in apparatus for closing an electric circuit in a random manner, the improvement comprising a plurality of individual means for competing to capture a ball moving among such plurality of individual means, at least one and less than all of said individual means being provided with a normally open circuit element means responsive to capture of a ball by such individual means to close such circuit element means, a ball, and means for periodically freeing the ball from the plurality of individual means and causing movement of the freed ball among the plurality of individual means, whereby a predetermined probability of closure of the normally open circuit element means is caused to recur periodically, wherein the plurality of individual means comprises a body having a concave upper surface and having a plurality of recesses in the upper surface, said normally open circuit element means provided for said one recess comprising a pair of electrically isolated electrical contacts disposed in said one recess and adapted to be electrically engaged by the ball when the latter is received and retained in said one recess, with said ball being electrically conductive, whereby the ball can electrically bridge and close the normally open circuit element means, and wherein the last recited means comprises a shaft mounted for rotation above the concave surface, a constant speed electric motor drivingly connected to the shaft and a radially extending vane fixed to the shaft for rotation therewith, with the vane having a free end spaced from the shaft by an amount such as to pass during rotation of the shaft adjacent the concave surface with running clearance, whereby the vane will engage and force the ball from such of the recesses in which it is received and the ball will fall free from engagement with the vane to the concave surface on further rotation of the vane.

An important feature of the present invention resides in the fact that the apparatus can readily be placed in such a condition that the signal will be given at any time that the ball or balls are in selecting position or positions,

or alternatively in a second condition such that not only must the ball or balls be in a selected position or selecting positions but that concurrently yet another condition must exist in the nature of associated equipment having a component thereof energized for a signal to be effected (such associated equipment may be such as is energized during the time of making a purchase as, for example, gasoline filling station equipment in which case the component thereof requiring concurrent energization is usually the electric motor driving the dispensing pump or the solenoid of an electrically controlled dispensing valve; and an electric cash register (usually of the adding type) in which case the component thereof requiring concurrent energization is usually the electric motor driving the registering or indicating means thereof, or the solenoid of an electrically controlled clutch thereof that in response to manual actuation of a key or keys of the keyboard engages or drivingly couples a continuously operating electric motor with the registering or indicating means; etc.).

Another feature of the invention of importance is that the apparatus can, while preserving random character as to the time that signaling is effected, be readily adjusted to control the average frequency of effecting signals.

Still another important feature of the invention which can optionally be employed resides in the exposure to view of the heart of the selecting system whereby the proper operation therof can be visually ascertained and additionally function as an interest or excitement stimulating device and as an educational device affording an insight into the operation of the mathematical laws of probability. In the latter regard the device has utility solely for educational and amusement purposes, and this is especially true when the effect of varying the parameters controlling the average rate of signaling or making selections is under study.

These and other various objects, functions, modes or utilization, aspects and features of the invention will become abundantly clear in the light of the following description of a preferred embodiment of the invention given in conjunction with accompanying drawings illustrative thereof, wherein:

FIGURE 1 is an isometric view taken toward the face of the apparatus according to the invention with portions being broken away to reveal concealed parts;

FIGURE 2 is a front elevational view of the apparatus shown in FIGURE 1, with hidden components being shown in dashed outline;

FIGURE 3 is a side elevational view of the apparatus shown in FIGURES l and 2, with a portion of the power supply cord being broken away;

FIGURE 4 is a horizontal sectional view taken upon the plane of the section line 44 in FIGURE 2;

FIGURE 5 is a broken vertical sectional view taken upon the plane of the section line 5-5 in FIGURE 2; and,

FIGURE 6 is a diagrammatical view of the electrical circuitry of the apparatus shown in FIGURES 1 through 5 and illustrating the mode of electrical connection of the apparatus to a cash register.

Referring now to the drawings wherein like numerals designate like parts throughout the various views, the reference numeral 10 designates generally an electric randomly actuated switch assembly or selector, the same being comprised of a housing or enclosure constituted of spaced vertical and parallel front and rear walls 12 and 14 that are connected by spaced vertical side walls 16 and 18, and spaced bottom and top walls 20 and 22. Whereas the rear wall 14, the side walls 16 and 18, and the bottom and top walls 20 and 22 are of opaque material (conveniently a metallic material such as aluminum or steel or a synthetic resin preferably of the thermosetting type such as sold under the trademark Bakelite by Union Carbide & Carbon Corp., 30 E. 42nd St., New York 17, NY.) and preferably of integral construction,

the front Wall 12 is preferably transparent for a purpose presently to be explained and is detachably secured to form a part of the housing by means of screws or threaded fasteners such as those indicated at 24 and 26, the arrangement being such that the front wall 12 can be removed so as to afford access to the interior 27 of the housing.

A hollow cylindrical body of electrically insulative material 28 having an axial extent substantially equal to the spacing of the front and rear walls 12 and 14 is disposed in the housing with its axis disposed horizontally, and the same is secured to the rear wall 14 by means of threaded fasteners such as the one indicated at 30 in FIGURE 5 extending through the rear wall 14 and into the body 28 at positions spaced about the circumference of the hollow cylindrical body 28. A small constant speed electric motor 32, which can conveniently be of the character such as employed in electric clocks, is mounted on the outside of the rear wall 14 as shown in FIGURE 3. The electric motor 32 can include conventional reduction gearing so as to drive an output shaft, not shown, at a low rotational velocity. The electric motor 32 and means for driving an output shaft at a low rotational velocity can be such as marketed by 'Ingraham as MOD. 21 which drives an output shaft at the rate of one revolution per minute and which operates upon energization from a source of 60-cycle current at volts. Such construction bears a statutory patent notice with respect to US. Patent No. 2,677,776.

The output shaft, not shown, of the electric prime mover 32 is in axial alignment with the hollow cylindrical body 28 and extends through a suitable opening in the rear wall 14 affording free running clearance therefor into the interior 27 of the housing, and is secured to ashaft 36 of relatively larger diameter that is coaxial with and of substantially the same axial extent as the hollow cylindrical body 28, the arrangement being such that the shaft 36 will be driven at a constant angular velocity during energization of the electric prime mover 32.

The shaft 36 has fixed thereto for rotation therewith an arcuate vane 38, the radial extent of the vane 38 being such that the free edge 40 terminates in close proximity to the cylindrical inner surface 42 of the hollow cylindrical body 28. The axial extent of the vane 38 is substantially equal to that of the hollow cylindrical body 28, but is sufficiently shorter so as not to come into frictional engagement with the front end rear walls 12 and 14 during rotation of the shaft 36.

The relationship between the direction of rotation of the shaft 36 during energization of the prime mover 32 to the arcuate form of the vane 38 is such that the concave side 44 of the vane 38 is the leading side during rotation of the shaft 36. It will also be noted in the preferred construction that the vane 38 is positioned on the shaft 36 in such a manner that the vane 38 extends substantially in a purely radial direction from the shaft 36 at the position of juncture of such elements, and thereafter curves from a purely radial component to a progressively greater circumferential component so as to be extending in a direction inclined at an acute angle to the adjacent portion of the internal surface 42 of the hollow cylindrical body 28 at the free end edge 40 of the vane 38. It will be also noted on inspection of FIGURES 1 and 2 that the free end edge 40 of the vane 38 is beveled so as to present a sharpened leading edge enabling the concave surface 44 to terminate in very close, but free running, proximity to the cylindrical inner surface 42 of the hollow cylindrical body 28.

In view of the foregoing it will be understood that as viewed in FIGURES 1 and 2 the shaft 36 and the vane 38 will be rotated in a clockwise direction at a constant angular velocity during energization of the electric prime mover 32.

As clearly shown in FIGURES l and 4, the lowermost portion of the hollow cylindrical body 28 is provided by a dense or compact array of concave recesses such as .those indicated at 50, 52, 54, 56, 58, 60 land 62. Each of the recesses 50 through 62 is substantially identical and of equal depth, and are preferably such as to have an internal surface conformable to a spherical surface of a given radius, and with the recesses having a depth substantially less than such given radius, all as clearly shown in FIGURES 1, 2, 4 and 5. In the preferred construction so as to obtain a dense and compact array of recesses, a honeycomb pattern so to speak is established by forming a series or row of recesses that extend axially along the lowermost portion of the internal surface 42, such row being made up of recesses such as those indicated at 54 and 60, with adjacent rows or series of staggered recesses being formed on opposite sides of the lowermost row, the recesses 52 and 58 being such as included in one of such adjacent rows of recesses and the recess 56 being exemplary of recesses disposed on the other side of the lowermost row of recesses. Such area of recesses is extended such as to include rows of receses such as the recess 50. Such area of provision of recesses can be extended in both directions circumferentially from the bottom of the body 28 as far as desired; however, as Will be presently apparent, there is no benefit to be obtained on carrying the provision of recesses upwardly to such an extent that the inclination of the surface 42 would prevent such recesses being capable of retaining a ball therein.

At least one and preferably a plurality of the recesses is provided with a normally open electric circuit means or open electric switch elements (which may be closed by means subsequently to be described), and such normally open electric circuit means preferably takes the form with respect to each of the recesses so provided of a pair of spaced electrical contacts defining portions of the surface of the recess or preferably projecting a short distance into such recess, whereby an electrically conductive object disposed within the recess can electrically bridge such contacts and thereby serve to close the normally open electric circuit means. In the illustrated embodiment of the invention two of the entire array of recesses in the internal lower portion of the body 28 are provided with normally open electric circuit means of the character indicated, namely, the recesses 52 and 62 with all the other recesses such as the recesses 50, 54, 56, 58 and 60 being devoid of provision of such means. The normally open electric circuit or switch means of the recesses 52 and 62 are respectively indicated at 70 and 72. Inasmuch as the normally open electric circuit or switch means 70 and 72 are essentially identical to each other, a detailed description of a normally open circuit or switch means 72 will suffice for both, and for this purpose attention is directed to FIGURE 5 for an appreciation of the means 72 provided in association with the recess 62.

The normally open electric circuit or switch means 72 comprises a pair of electrically conductive screws or electrodes 74 and 76 (which can be steel or preferably brass, plated or unplated with a corrosion resistant metal such as tin or the like) that are threaded in or press fitted through the electrically insulative material of the hollow cylindrical body 28 from the underside thereof to project their upper free ends 78 and 80 into the recess 62. As clearly shown on inspection of FIGURE 5, the screws or electrodes 74 and 76 are preferably inclined to each other and are directed so as to have projections thereof intersect with the center of a sphere such as to be conformable to the concave surface of the recess 62, and also it will be noted that in the preferred construction that the screws or electrodes 74 and 76 actually project a very slight interval into the recess 62 so that the free ends or contact ends 78 and 80 thereof are spaced slightly above the internal surface of the recess 62; however, it will be noted that such extent or projection (exaggerated somewhat in FIGURE 5 for purposes of illustration) is not such that the contacts or free ends 78 and will prevent a spherical ball 82 from being disposed within or seated in the recess 62 so as to be retained by the latter. It will be evident that when the ball 82 is disposed so as to be seated in the recess 62, such ball 82, which is formed of an electrically conductive material such as brass, engages the contacts 78 and 82 mechanically and electrically so as to electrically bridge and thereby close the normally opened electric circuit or switch means 72, with the ball 82 being seated or retained in the recess 62 (when the latter is at rest) in the sense of projecting downwardly at least to some extent into the recess 62 so as to engage or rest upon the contacts 78 and 82 and otherwise engage and be prevented from rolling from the recess 62 by the material of the body 28 defining the peripheral extent of the recess 62.

Preferably the ball 82 has a radius such that the external surface is conformable approximately to the radius of curvature of the recess 62 as well as of all the other recesses such as those indicated at 50, 52, 54, 56, 58 and 60. The arrangement is such that when the ball 82 is disposed in any of the recesses 50 through 62 and is at rest, such ball 82 will be retained and prevented from rolling from the recess within which it is seated or disposed. It should also be noted that the radius of the ball 82 is considerably greater than the depth of the recesses 50 through 62, whereby the ball 82 can be readily dislodged from any recess in which it may be seated by applying a lateral force to the ball 82.

As clearly shown in FIGURE 5, the lower ends of the screws or electrodes 74 and 76 extend below or to the outside of the hollow cylindrical body 28 and are adapted to be electrically connected to insulated electrical conductors such as those shown at 84 and 86, respectively. The manner in which electrical conductors such as those indicated at 84 and 86 associated with various normally open electric circuit or switch means such as 70 and 72 are incorporated in electrical circuitry of the apparatus 10 will subsequently be described in connection with the schematic diagram of FIGURE 6.

The ball 82 as well as a ball 90 identical thereto are disposed in the hollow interior 92 of the hollow cylindrical body 28, it being noted that the front and rear walls 12 and 14 serve to retain the balls 82 and 90 within such space 92. The balls 82 and 90 will as indicated in FIGURE 1 be normally seated in any pair of the recesses 50 through 62 in the body 28, and will remain so seated until energization of the prime mover 32 and consequent rotation of the shaft 36 and the vane 38 is such as to cause the end 40 of the vane 38 to engage the balls. Continued rotation of the shaft 36 causes the vane 38 to force or dislodge the balls 82 and 90 from the recesses in which they may be seated and to be moved in a clockwise direction, as seen in FIGURE 2, about the inner surface of the hollow cylindrical body 28. Eventually such continued rotation of the vane 38 urges the balls to such a position that they will roll upon the then upwardly facing concave surface 44 of the vane 38, and with continued clockwise rotation, as seen in FIGURE 2, of the vane 38 the balls will move radially inward on the concave surface 44 of the vane 38 toward the shaft 36, and eventually with continued rotation of the shaft 36 and the vane 38 the balls 82 and 90 will roll over the shaft 36 and drop free of the support previously afforded the same by the shaft 36 and the vane 38, with the falling balls 82 and 90 falling upon the lower portion of the internal surface 42 of the hollow cylindrical body 28 at a position displaced somewhat to the right, as seen in FIGURE 2, of the position directly lying below the axis of the shaft 36, such displacement to the right being determined by the radius of the shaft 36.

Upon falling from the shaft 36 and the vane 38, the balls 82 and 90 bounce and roll about vigorously upon the lower portion of the internal surface 42 of the body 28 because of the potential energy released thereto during their fall, and such rolling and bouncing about occurs in a substantially entirely unpredictable manner so that when the balls 82 and 90 eventually come to rest and are seated or disposed within a pair of the recesses 50 through 62, the pair of recesses thereby selected in an essentially random manner from among the number of possible combinations of two recesses from the entire array of recesses. Thus, the geometry of the system is such that the pair of recesses in which the balls 82 and 90 finally come to rest is selected in an entirely arbitrary or random manner such as to allow full play of the laws of probability. Enjoyment of the invention does not require that there be an equal likelihood or probability of selection of every combination of two electrodes, it being only essential that there be a predetermined probability in the case of the illustrated embodiment of the invention that the balls 82 and 90 will come to rest in the recesses 52 and 62 with such probability being greater than zero and less than unity.

It will be noted that the balls 82 and 80 fall as described above from the shaft 36 and the vane 38 while the angular position of such elements is such that the vane 38 extends generally in an upward direction from the shaft 36 at its juncture with the latter and while the end edge 40 of the vane 38 is substantially angularly disposed in an anticlockwise direction from the nearest of the recesses through 62 which it is approaching on rotation of the shaft 36 as seen in FIGURE 2. Such angular displacement of the edge 40 of the Vane 38 from the recesses 50 through 62 is such that, in relation to the angular velocity of the shaft 36, the balls 82 and 90 will have ample time to come to rest and remain at rest for at least an interval of time before the edge 40 of the vane 38 reaches in its travel the nearest of the recesses 50 through 62.

In view of the foregoing, each revolution of the shaft 36 is accompanied by a single selection of a pair of the the recesses 50 through 62, such selection being defined by the balls 82 and 90 being seated or disposed so as to remain at rest in such pair of recesses until forced therefrom by engagement by the vane 38.

Attention is now directed to the schematic diagram shown in FIGURE 6, wherein the previously described arrangement for selecting a pair of recesses is indicated in dashed outline at 100, and the operative connection thereof to the electric prime mover 32 is indicated by the dashed line 102. Such of the recesses 50 through 62 provided with normally open electric circuit or switch means, namely, recesses 52 and 62, are shown in FIGURE 6, together with their respective normally opened electric circuit or switch means and 72 as they form a part of the electrical circuitry. For a similar reason the balls 82 and are shown in FIGURE 6.

Fused electrical conductors or leads 104 and 106 forming a part of the electric supply cord 108 of FIGURE 1 are provided which can be connected by means of a pronged plug 110 to electrical energy supply means, not shown, of 60-cycle 1l5-volt alternating current. The electric prime mover 32 is energized through electrical leads 112 and 114, and an electric switch 116 is provided whereby the electrical lead 114 can be selectively coupled to and uncoupled from the power supply lead 106. The other electrical lead 112 of the prime mover 32 is connected to a power lead 118 that is in turn coupled to the power supply lead 104. Accordingly, closure of the switch 116 effects continuous energization of the prime mover 32 with consequent driving of the shaft 36 and the vane 38 at a constant speed of rotation. The switch 116 preferably takes the physical form of a single-pole, single-throw toggle switch mounted as shown in FIGURE 2 through the side wall 18 so that the toggle or manual actuation lever 120 thereof is disposed externally of the housing. An indicator lamp 122, preferably an incandescent lamp, is connected by leads 124 and 126 respectively to the leads 114 and 118 so as to be energized concurrently with the prime mover 32. The lamp 122 is preferably mounted within a housing 128 secured to the outside of the rear wall 14 and is exposed to View through the transparent front wall 12 through a suitable opening in the rear wall 14, the arrangement being such that not only is the lamp 122 viewable through the transparent front wall 12, but preferably also such that light emitted by the lamp 122 will illuminate the interior of the hollow cylindrical body 28 and especially to illuminate the balls 82 and 90 during the time they are coming to rest in a pair of the recesses 50 through 62. Thus, the lamp 122 serves the dual functions of indicating that the prime mover 32 is energized and also of illuminating and making visible through the front wall 12 the physical movements of the vane 38 and the balls 82 and 80.

The reference numeral 130 designates a single-pole, double-throw electric switch, which is like the electric switch 116 of the snap action toggle type and is mounted on the side wall 18 adjacent the switch 116. The switch 130 is shown in FIGURE 6 as in the position coupling a lead 132 to a lead 134 that is in turn coupled to the power supply lead 106. The reference numeral 136 designates generally an electric relay that includes a solenoid 138, and one terminal of the solenoid 138' is connected to the lead 118 with the other terminal of the solenoid 138 being connected ot the lead 132 in electrical series with the normally open electric circuit means 70 and 72 by means of leads 140 and 142, the arrangement being such that when the power supply leads 104 and 106 are connected to a source of electrical energy, the switch 130 being in the position shown, and with the balls 82 and 90 closing both of the normally open electric circuit or switch means 70 and 72, the solenoid 138 of the relay 136 is energized. For reasons subsequently to be explained, the relay 136 can, if desired or deemed expedient, be of the time delay type, though this is definitely not essential. The relay 136 includes a pair of normally open single-pole electric switches having one pair of terminals connected to the power supply lead 106 by a lead 150. One terminal 152 of the relay switch 154 is connected by a lead 156 to the solenoid 138 and the lead 140 as shown through a normally closed push button switch 158. The arrangement is such that upon energization of the solenoid 138 for a sufficient period of time to close the switch 154, the solenoid 138 will remain continuously energized through the lead 156 until the push button switch 158 is depressed to open the lead 156. The circuitry is such as to constitute a holding relay which is releasable by actuation of the switch 158. The push button switch 158 can be conveniently mounted on the side wall 18 as shown in FIGURE 2.

One terminal 160 of the relay switch 162 is connected by a lead 164 to an electrically actuated bell 166, the other terminal of the bell 166 being connected to the lead 118 as shown. The arrangement is such that the bell 166 is energized for actuation during such interval that the relay switch 162 is closed by the energization of the solenoid 138.

In the preferred construction the bell 166 is mounted upon the rear wall 14 by means of a threaded fastener 168 at a position below the hollow cylindrical body 28 as clearly shown in FIGURES 2 and 5.

A receptacle 170 for a two-prong plug is mounted in the side wall 16 as indicated in FIGURES 1 and 2, and the receptacle 170 is coupled to the leads 164 and 118- by leads 172 and 174, so as to be in electrical parallel with the bell 166. As shown in FIGURE 6, the plug receptacle 170 constitutes an electrical coupling means 176 whereby the leads 172 and 174 can be coupled by means of leads 178 and 180 to a sounding device or visual indicator such as, for example, the bell indicated at 182. T hus, a sounding or visual signaling means such as the bell 182 located at a remote position from the apparatus 10 can be plugged into the plug receptacle 170 so as to be concurrently energized and activated in unison with the bell 166.

As thus far described, during each cycle or revolution of the shaft 36 and the vane 38, the balls 82 and 90 will in a random or arbitrary fashion determined by the laws of probability come to rest in a pair of the recesses 50 through 62, and in the event such pair of recesses happens in the illustrated embodiment to be the recesses 52 and 62, such balls will serve to close the normally open circuit or switch means 70 and 72 and thus complete a circuit between the leads 132. and 140, which will assuming the switch 130 to be in the position shown result in energization of the solenoid 138 with resulting closure (after a time delay if the relay is of such type) of the relay switches 154 and 162. Such closure of the relay switches 154 and 162 results in maintaining energization of the relay solenoid 138 through the lead 156 and energization of the bell 166 as well as any other electrically actuated audible or visible signaling device such as the bell 182 which may be plugged into the plug receptacle 170 for energization. The energization of the signaling devices such as the bells 166 and 182 will continue even after the balls 82 and 90 may have been displaced from the recesses 52 and 62 by reason of the closure of the relay switch 154, and the signaling devices will remain continuously actuated until the push button switch 158 has been depressed so as to deenergize the solenoid 138, and will even continue thereafter until such time as the balls 82 and 90 have been displaced from the recesses 52 and 62. In other words, the energization of devices such as those indicated at 166 and 182 can be discontinued by depression of the push button switch 158 only after the balls 82 and 90 have been displaced from the recesses 52 and 62.

As mentioned previously, the relay 136 can if desired be of conventional time delay character insofar as closure of the switches 154 and 162 is concerned after the relay 138 has been energized. This may possibly be desired so that signaling of what may be termed false character can be avoided. This is of course not essential, but it may be preferred that signaling will not occur in the event that prior to actually coming to rest in a pair of recesses the balls 82 and 90 might momentarily happen to concurrently close the normally open circuit means 70 and 72 while not actually coming to rest in both of the recesses 52 and 62. Therefore, use of a relay 136 of a delay type would prevent such false indication of the balls actually coming finally to rest in the recesses 52 and 62. Also, such time delay feature of the relay 136 can prevent what might also be false signaling of yet another character, namely, such signaling as might occur during the time that the vane 38 is moving the balls 82 and 90 across the array of recesses 50 through 62 and during such direct movement of the balls cause the balls to momentarily or for a short time interval enter the recesses that are provided with normally open circuit means such as those indicated at 70 and 72. False signaling of the latter mentioned character will rarely if ever occur, if the recesses provided with such normally open circuit means are positioned as to not lie along a line parallel to the axis of the hollow cylindrical body 28 or the edge 40 of the vane 38 (as in the illustrated embodiment wherein the recesses 52 and 62 are circumferentially spaced from each other with respect to the axis of the hollow cylindrical body 28). Alternatively, such latter character of what has been termed false Signaling can not occur if actuation of the relay is possible only when a ball must be in the first row of recesses reached by the vane.

Actually, the two types of false signaling discussed above are only false in the sense that the user may not desire signaling to occur except with respect to final *resting position of the ball or balls, and indeed such additional possibilities of signaling can be desired. The

latter is especially true as spectator interest can be greatly stimulated. Thus, a spectator can be intrigued by observing the ball or balls (a) during the bouncing and rolling thereof about the array of recesses (as the first type of false signaling mentioned may then occur), (b) observing the final resting position or positions of the ball or balls, and (c) observing the erratic course or courses of the ball or balls as they are nudged along by the vane (as the second type of false signaling may then occur).

Accordingly, there can be three distinct types of possibilities for signaling to occur during each revolution of the vane, namely, the primary possibility resulting from the ball or balls coming finally to rest, and the secondary possibilities of the ball being in the appropriate recess or concurrently being the appropriate recesses during the course of the ball or balls coming to rest or the ball or balls being moved by the vane from the array of recesses. The laws of probability are obviously applicable to the secondary possibilities due to the random course or courses of the ball or balls.

While it is preferred that signaling can occur from both the primary and either one or both secondary possibilities for the reasons of greater spectator interest and the usually lesser cost of ordinary relays (those not including a special time delay feature), such preference may differ as among various users; hence, it is mentioned for the guidance of users that the first type of possibility (that occurs as the ball or balls are coming to final rest) can be enhanced by the use of relatively fast acting relays and reduced by the use of relatively slow acting relays. The second type of secondary possibility can be reduced or eliminated by the use of relatively slow acting relays and/ or the selection of the position of a recess or recesses in which a ball must be in order to result in signaling as previously described.

The invention as thus far described has a large variety of uses which will readily come to the mind of those skilled in the art, and it will only be necessary to suggest a few of such uses. The same may afford amusement value to children as well as to adults in providing or ending a time interval which is of indeterminate but of a most probable duration. As such a timing device the same can be useful in conjunction with the playing of games allows a participant a period of time to conclude a guessing or searching activity or game, and the indeterminate character of the interval measured by the apparatus described above can add considerable zest to the game or activity by forcing upon such participant a sense of urgency that may or may not prove to have been justified much to the amusement of other participants and spectators alike. The apparatus also has educational utility facilitating study of the probability of the occurrence of events, and also in the study of how variation of various parameters (such as relay response time, etc.) affect the frequency of occurrence of such events. As an example of a parameter that may be varied, either one or the other of the normally open electric circuit or switch means and 72 may be shorted out, which may be accomplished in the case of the means 72 by electrically connecting a wire, not shown, between the screws 74 and 76 below the body 28.

The apparatus can be conspicuously displayed in a bar or tavern within the view of customers or patrons under an arrangement or house rule such that all customers or patrons will receive a drink on the house on the occurrence of the signaling means being actuated. It will be noted that the house can effect any desired average time interval between successive actuation of the signaling means by selecting a prime mover 32 so as to obtain a desired frequency of cycles of operation (that is, rate of angular velocity of the shaft 36 and the vane 38), or by shorting out one of the normally open electric circuit or switch means 70 and 72.

Another utility may reside in positioning apparatus of the character thus far described at each check-out stand or position in a grocery store or supermarket under a house rule such that whenever a customer or patron is in the process of passing through such check stand at the time that the signaling means of the apparatus at his particular check-out stand is actuated will receive a stated discount on the total amount of his purchase. This arrangement produces a great stimulation in sales by reason of the fact that the time interval during which a particular patron or customer is entitled to receive an award or discount may be extended by such customer or patron having selected a large number of items for purchase as such greater quantity normally entails a longer period at the check-out stand for totalizing the amount due in payment. The stimulating effect tends to increase or to be accumulative where a plurality of check-out stands are involved as any particular customer or patron will be made acutely aware of all instances of lucky patrons or customers in all the check-out stands or positions by virtue of audible or visual signal devices arranged to be heard or seen by all.

The operation of the apparatus thus far described can optionally be operated in such a manner as to be dependent upon yet another concurrent occurrence with the proper seating (or momentary positions) of the balls in order for the signaling means to be actuated as will be presently described. Such other concurrent condition can be such as that occasioned by operation of accessory equipment involving the latter being in such a state that some electrical component of such accessory equipment is concurrently energized. As an example of a wide variety of such uses, the signaling means of the apparatus thus far described can be made to require as a condition for actuation the concurrent energization of the pump driving electric motor of a filling station pump or the concurrent energization of an electrically actuated valve of such fuel dispensing unit. On the other hand such dependence may be upon the concurrent energization of a component of an elec tric cash register or the like, such electrical component in this case being either the electric motor driving the cash register mechanism or an electric clutch controlling mechanical coupling of the electric motor to registering mechanism.

For purposes of illustration of the apparatus being utilized in conjunction with and made dependent upon energi'zation of some electrical component of accessory equipment, there is shown in FIGURE 6 an electric cash register designated generally at 200 which includes a manually actuated key board or set of keys 202. The cash register 200 as is conventional includes electrically actuated means schematically illustrated at 204 that is energized in response to manipulation of a key or keys of a key board 202 to actuate registering or indicating mechanism of the cash register 200. Such means 204 can be either an electric motor energized intermittently at the intervals that the registering or indicating means of the cash register 200 are actuated, or can be the solenoid of an electrically actuated clutch for intermittently coupling a continuously operating electric motor to the registering or indicating means, as will be appreciated by those familiar with the art. Whatever the specific character of the conventional means 204 may be, the reference numeral 206 in FIGURE 6 schematically indicates a key board 202 controlled electric switch that is normally open and which is closed on appropriate manipulation of the key board 202 to actuate the registering or indicating means, not shown, of the conventional cash register 200.

The power supply leads 104 and 106 are respectively connected to a terminal 208 and one terminal 209 of the switch 206 by leads 210 and 211 as shown, and the other terminal 212 of the switch 206 is connected by a lead 214 to the previously described single-pole, doublethrow switch 130. The electrical component 204 of the cash register 200 is electrically connected by leads 216 and 218 between the terminal 208 and the terminal 212 of the switch 206, the arrangement being such that the 12 electric component 2.04 is energized whenever the electric switch 206 is closed.

Whenever accessory electric equipment such as the cash register 200 is to be employed in conjunction with apparatus 10, the electric switch 130 is moved from the position shown thereof to electrically connect the leads 132 and 214, whereby closure of the switch 206 results in energizing the lead 132 from the power lead 106. This in turn results in the event the normally open circuit means and 72 are closed by the balls 82 and in energization of the solenoid 138 of the relay 136. When the apparatus 10 is to "be used in this manner the time delay of the relay (if the latter is of the time delay type) 136 should be less than the duration of the period that the switch 206 is closed during operation of the key board 202. With such limitation upon the duration of the time delay, if any, of the relay 136, closure of the switch 206 therefore results in actuation of the switches 154 and 162 to their closed positions with resultant energization of the signaling means 166 and 182 and the continued energization of the solenoid 138 until such time as the push button switch 158 is manually depressed to open the same.

The preceding comments relating to selecting a time delay for the relay 136 (if the latter includes such special provision) such as to be shorter than the time interval during which the switch 206 is closed may be disregarded when in lieu of the cash register 200 a gasoline dispensing and metering pump is involved in which event the electrical component 204 is normally either the pump driving electric motor thereof or an electrically actuated dispensing valve control, because the switch 206 employed to energize such differing character of electrical components is normally closed for a rather protracted period during which gasoline is actually being dispensed or metered to the customers automobile.

The advertising or sales promotion value of associating accessory equipment such as the cash register 200 with the apparatus 10 will be obvious in that a system of awards or premiums can be readily established for the benefit of the customer or patron such as to allow the customer or patron involved, either at the cash register 200 or at the filling station dispensing and metering apparatus, to receive some award or premium such as a discount in the price totalized on the cash register 200 or registered on the filling station pump. Obviously, other systems of awards can be employed such as gifts in the nature of toys or candy for the children and so forth.

Whereas in FIGURE 6 the leads 210, 211 and 214 are shown as being continuous, it is preferred that such leads be discontinuous with means being provided for detachably coupling such leads. For this purpose, the portion of the leads 210, 211 and 214 connected to the leads 118, 106, and the switch are connected to a receptacle 220 mounted in the side wall 18 as shown, whereby the other portions of the discontinuous leads 210, 211, and 214 can be provided with a three-prong plug, not shown, for detachable coupling by way of the recepticle 220 to the remaining portions of the leads 210, 211 and 214 to effect the circuitry shown in FIGURE 6, as will be apparent to those skilled in the art.

The connections between the cash register and the signaling system can vary widely from those specifically shown and described, as will be abundantly clear to those skilled in the art. It is deemed well within the skill of the art that the random switch and signaling system be such as to constitute a plug-in accessory of the cash register with the latter being connected to power mains by a power cord to obtain power for itself and the plug-in accessory.

From the foregoing it will be evident that the invention is susceptible to numerous variations without departing from the spirit thereof. For example, as many of the recesses as desired can be provided with normally open circuit means such as those indicated at 70 and 72 and one or more parallel paths be established between the lead 132 and the lead 140 as desired with each of such paths incorporating in electrical series as many of the individual normally open circuit means as desired, it being understood that as many electrically conductive balls such as those indicated at 82 and 90 be employed as there are individual circuit means in series in any one of the parallel paths, for otherwise it would be impossible for the balls to complete a circuit along such a path so as to energize the solenoid 138. If desired there can be as few as one path such as shown (having one or more circuit means in series-two being shown in this particular instance), or any greater number as may be desired. In general, it is only essential in the practice of the invention that there be at least as many balls employed as to be sufiicient to close at least one circuit path for initial energization of the solenoid 138, and that the number of balls employed be less than that which would in every case result in energization of the solenoid 138. When parallel paths are provided for energizing the solenoid 138, it is not essential that each path employ in series identical numbers (one or more) of normally open circuit means such as those shown at 70 and 72. Whatever arrangement is employed, it is evident that variation in the number of balls employed enables the user to vary the probability of the solenoid 138 being energized during any one revolution of the vane 38. Clearly, if no balls are employed, energization of the solenoid 138 has the probability of zero, and this is unchanged when one ball is employed with the illustrated embodiment. The use of two balls makes energization of the solenoid 138 possible but not .a certainty in the illustrated embodiment. Increasing the number of balls increases the probability of the solenoid 138 becoming energized during one cycle of revolution of the vane 38, with such energization becoming a certainty when the number of balls employed equals to the total number of recesses provided (in actuality this may not be strictly true as one or more balls may under such circumstances become lodged in a position other than in a recess). These comments should suffice to enable a clear understanding of the flexibility of probability of actuating the signaling means during any single rotation of the vane 38.

It will be evident that the relay 136 could employ a single switch rather than the two switches 154 and 162 shown, as the electrical condition of the two switch terminals 152 and 160 are identical at all times; however, the illustrated embodiment is preferred so as to avoid any possibility of surge currents such as may be drawn by the signaling means passing through the normally open circuit means such as those indicated at 70 and 72.

It will be apparent from the foregoing description of the manner in which the balls are picked up by the vane 38 and thereafter released to fall from the vane 38 and the shaft 36 that the balls do not come into contact with the upper portion of the hollow cylindrical body 28, and accordingly, if desired the upper portion of the body 28 can be dispensed with entirely as it does not perform any ball confining function. Indeed, many variations with respect to the configuration of the body 28 and the vane 38 will readily come to mind such that it is not essential that the vane 38 be arcuate as shown and preferred, and in that it is not essential that the balls be actually picked up by the vane 38 during each revolution of the vane 38, it only being essential that the vane 38 serve to dislodge all the balls, whether there be one ball or many, from the recesses and elevated to a greater height and thereafter released to gravitate to the region of the recesses. Such essential function can of course be realized if only the lower portion of the body 28 be employed and have a radius of curvature greater than the radius of action of the rotating vane 38 as such configuration would enable the vane 38 to dislodge the balls from the recesses and move them up along the curvature of the body 28 until the clearance between 14 the end edge 40 of the vane 38 clears the body 28 by an amount sufficient to allow the balls to pass therebetween and back in a reverse direction to the region of the recesses.

Since from the foregoing the illustrated embodiment of the invention is susceptible to numerous variations and modifications without departing from the spirit of the invention, attention is directed to the appended claims in order to ascertain the actual scope of the invention.

I claim:

1. In apparatus for closing an electric circuit in a random manner, the improvement comprising a plurality of individual means for competing to capture a ball moving among such plurality of individual means, at least one and less than all of said individual means being provided with a normally open circuit element means responsive to capture of a ball by such individual means to close such circuit element means, a ball, and means for periodicaly freeing the ball from the plurality of individual means and causing movement of the freed ball among the plurality of individual means, said means for feeding the ball including a member mounted for rotation relative to said plurality of individual means with electrical means being provided for rotating said member at a predetermined rate, said member having a travel path with each of said plurality of individul means being juxtaposed to the travel path of the rotating member, whereby a predetermined probability of closure of the normally open circuit element means is caused to recur periodically.

2. The combination of claim 1, including an electrically actuated signal means, and means responsive to closure of the normally open circuit element means for coupling the signal means to a source of electrical energy.

3. The combination of claim 2, wherein the last recited means includes an electric cash register provided with an intermittently energized, electrically actuated registering means, with the normally open circuit means being in electrical parallel to the registering means, and means operative upon the signal means being coupled to a source of electrical energy to keep the signal means coupled to a source of electrical energy.

4. The combination of claim 1, wherein the plurality of individual means comprises a body having a concave upper surface and having a plurality of recesses in the upper surface, said normally open circuit element means provided for said at least one recess comprising a pair of electrically isolated electrical contacts disposed in said at least one recess and adapted to be electrically engaged by the ball when the latter is received and retained in said at least one recess, with said ball being electrically conductive, whereby the ball can electrically bridge and close the normally open circuit element means, said member being so constructed and arranged with respect to the concave surface to move the ball from the recess capturing the same to a relatively higher portion of the concave surface once during each cycle of rotation of the member.

5. The combination of claim 4, wherein the member has a concave surface facing in the direction of rotation thereof, whereby a ball engaged thereby is scooped up by the member during rotation of the latter.

6. In apparatus for closing an electric circuit in a random manner, the improvement comprising a plurality of individual means for competing to capture a ball moving among such plurality of individual means, at least one and less than all of said individual means being provided with a normally open circuit element means responsive to capture of a ball by such individaul means to close such circuit element means, a ball, and means for periodically freeing the ball from the plurality of individual means and causing movement of the freed ball among the plurality of individual means, whereby a predetermined probability of closure of the normally open circuit element means is caused to recur periodically, said plurality of individual means comprising a body having a concave upper surface and having a plurality of recesses in the upper surface, said normally open circuit element means provided for said at least one recess comprising a pair of electrically isolated electrical contacts disposed in said at least one recess and adapted to be electrically engaged by the ball when the latter is received and retained in said at least one recess, with said ball being electrically conductive, whereby the ball can electrically bridge and close the normally open circuit element means, and wherein the last recited means comprises a shaft mounted for rotation above the concave surface, a constant speed electric motor drivingly connected to the shaft and a radially extending vane fixed to the shaft for rotation therewith, with the vane having a free end spaced from the shaft by an amount such as to pass during rotation of the shaft adjacent the concave surface With running clearance, whereby the vane will engage and force the ball from such of the recesses in which it is received and the ball will fall free from engagement with the vane to the concave surface on further rotation of the vane.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,319,038 10/1919 Beeler.

3,068,008 12/1962 Saltzman et a1. 273-138 X 3,138,385 6/ 1964 Giacobello 273138 FOREIGN PATENTS 253,015 6/ 1926 Great Britain.

ANTON O. OECHSLE, Primary Examiner ARNOLD W. KRAMER, Assistant Examiner US. Cl. X.R.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US1319038 *Mar 17, 1919Oct 21, 1919 Automatic game apparatus
US3068008 *Jan 8, 1957Dec 11, 1962Maccoun Townsend DAutomatic simulated racing game
US3138385 *Jan 18, 1960Jun 23, 1964Joseph L GiacobelloPremium indicating device
GB253015A * Title not available
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3769472 *Aug 23, 1972Oct 30, 1973Technar IncInertia sensor switch
US3963885 *Feb 4, 1975Jun 15, 1976Andre Guy BrienGravity actuated miniature switch for watch having switch actuator magnetic retaining structure
US4023346 *Apr 1, 1976May 17, 1977Kayser William MWrist watch with time display control switch
US4877246 *Jul 8, 1986Oct 31, 1989Kropkowski James MMixing and dispensing apparatus for game
Classifications
U.S. Classification273/138.2, 273/144.00R, 200/61.11
International ClassificationG07C15/00
Cooperative ClassificationG07C15/001
European ClassificationG07C15/00B