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Publication numberUS3491381 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJan 27, 1970
Filing dateNov 21, 1966
Priority dateNov 21, 1966
Publication numberUS 3491381 A, US 3491381A, US-A-3491381, US3491381 A, US3491381A
InventorsCathcart John H
Original AssigneeCathcart John H
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Electric eye operated wash basin system
US 3491381 A
Abstract  available in
Previous page
Next page
Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

Jan. 27, 1970 .1. 1 m m 3 49 ,3



JOHN H. CATHCART M2 aw ATTORNEY United States Patent 3,491,381 ELECTRIC EYE OPERATED WASH BASIN SYSTEM John H. Cathcart, 573 H Ave., Coronado, Calif. 92118 Filed Nov. 21, 1966, Ser. No. 595,844

Int. Cl. E03c 1/05 U.S. Cl. 4-166 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE Flow of water into a wash basin is started and stopped by a solenoid valve inserted into the water supply line leading to the basin faucet. An electric eye system including an electric lamp mounted on one side of the basin and a light sensitive photoelectric element mounted on the other side of the basin provides a narrow beam of light which is directed along a path disposed in front of the water path in juxtaposition thereto.

The light sensitive element controls circuitry which energizes the solenoid valve to start the water flow when the beam is extinguished at the light sensitive element and which deenergizes the valve to stop the water flow when the light beam is restored at the light sensitive element.

When the basin user puts his hands into the expected path of the water flow from the faucet, the light beam is intercepted and blocked by the hands to thus extinguish the beam at the light sensitive element, thereby to start the water flow. When the hands are Withdrawn, the beam is restored at the element and flow of the water is stopped.

This invention relates generally to wash basin or lavatory systems and apparatus and more particularly to improvements therein having provision for controlling Water flow from the basin without necessitating manipulation for that purpose by the users hands of the faucet or some other part of the wash basin system and apparatus.

More specifically, the present invention contemplates a new and improved wash basin arrangement in which water flow is initiated or terminated merely by the acts of interposing the hands within or withdrawing the same from the desired path or region of water flow. Such an arrangement obviously is of inestimable value and utility to dentists, physicians, and surgeons who not only necessarily must scrupulously avoid and minimize hand contact with objects such as a faucet which could be infected with germs, but who Wish also to retain full manipulative use of their hands in operations necessitating the water flow.

The wash basin system of the present invention may also be used to advantage in public, school, and other wash rooms, where for reasons of health, ease and economy of operation, and fastidiousness of users, hand manipulation of faucets is intolerable if not impracticable. Hand valves or faucets, for example, because of mechanical weaknesses and the human element involved in their use, are notoriously subject to being left open or only partially closed. This is not only wasteful of the water supply but also may have serious overflow consequences if drains are left closed or become clogged through carelessness or other causes.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION In accordance with the arrangement of the present invention, a faucet which does not have the usual valve means associated with it is mounted on the wash basin so as to pass a stream of water directly into the bottom drain of the basin. Water flow to the faucet is controlled by a normally closed solenoid valve connected into the water supply line, the water flow being initiated when a light beam is interrupted and the flow terminated when the light beam is restored. The beam of light is generated by a so- 3,491,381 Patented Jan. 27, 1970 OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION An object of the present invention therefore is to provide a new and improved wash basin system which provides the aforedescribed features and advantages incident to an automatic water supply operation while obviating the aforementioned and other disadvantages of the manually manipulated systems.

Another object is to provide an electric eye operated wash basin system having provision for preventing momentary or sustained water flow due to random impingement of spurious or ambient light beams effective to actuate the electric eye system or due to extinguishing of the lamp which produces the desired light beam.

Another object is to provide an electric eye operated wash basin system having provision for preventing sporadic or continuous Water flow due either to blocking of the beam by the stream itself or by a rising level of water within the basin.

Still another object is to provide an electric eye operated wash basin which may be safely operated at low voltage.

Still another object resides in the provision of an electric eye operated wash basin system which lends itself for use in multiple basin wash rooms.

Still other objects, features and advantages of the invention will become more fully apparent as the description of a preferred embodiment thereof proceeds with reference to the accompanying drawing wherein:

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the wash basin system of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a plan view of a portion of the wash basin system disclosed in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a sectional view taken of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a detail view, somewhat enlarged, of the light sensitive unit assembly; and

FIG. 5 is a schematic diagram of the complete electrical system of the Wash basin.

THE SPECIFICATION Referring now to the drawing for a more complete understanding of the invention, the numeral 10 generally designates a wash basin or lavatory which may be formed of any material suitable for the purpose such, for example, as cast iron, and/or steel with a porcelain coating, stainless steel, vitreous china, or other ceramics. The basin has a faucet 11 which does not have the usual hand valve or cock for manually controlling flow of water from the faucet. For purposes of the instant invention, faucet 11 is connected by suitable tubing 12 to a solenoid control valve generally designated 13, FIG. 5, which controls the flow of water from a water supply line 14.

It will be understood that basin 10 may have its own mixing valve (not shown) from which supply line 14 extends to solenoid valve 13 and to which the hot and cold water lines connect in the usual manner. On the other hand, basin 10 may be one of many such basins provided in a public, school, or the like washroom, in which case, the lines 14 from these basins may lead to a common mixing valve which serves all the basins.

Faucet 11 is mounted at the top of basin 10 and so positioned thereon to pass the water stream therefrom along a vertical path and directly into the bottom drain 15 of the basin, as clearly depicted in FIGS. 1 to 3. A narrow light beam 16 is disposed in juxtaposition to the along the line 3-3 water path and passes hofizontally between the sidewalls of the basin. Thus, when the users hands are moved into the water path, as depicted in FIG. 1, the light beam 16 is iiiterrupted, and when the hands are removed, the light beam is restored.

As best seen in FIG. 2, the light beam 16 passes in front of the water path and therefore does not intersect therewith to thus assure that the water flow, once initiated by interruption of the light beam, will not itself block the beam and causejcontinucrus flow when the hands have been ref'inoved. Provision 'is also made for preventing blocking of the beam bya rising level of water in the'basin, it being noted by'reference to FIG. 3, that the level of beam 16 is near the top of the basin and above the overflow drain 1?.

Beam 16' is produced by an electric eye system which comprises an electric lamp 18, a lens 19 for focusing the light from the lamp into the narrow beam 16, and a light sensitive unit 29 which comprises a photoelectric celi or element 20 and a transparent window 21 through which the beam passes to impinge upon the cell The beam is preferably narrowed by the lens 19ito provide the desired side-by-side juxtapositioned, but non-intersecting relation of the beam and water paths to thus render the system critically sensitive to the placement of the hands in the water path. To this end, it is also preferable that the light sensitive element 20 be critically positioned so as to have a line-of-sight relation only with the beam 16 and thus not be subject to activation by random beams of light from ambient or spurious sources of light which may,chance f0 impinge upon the window 21 and not otherwise be blocked by the; basin walls, particularly when the level of the beam must be disposed near the top of tiie basin. Q I

To achieve maximum isolation of the light sensitive element 20 from spurious light sources, the element preferably is adjustably,mounted so as to provide maximum spacing with respect to the window 21. In the arrangement disclosed, element 20, FIG. 4, is secured to a tube 22 which telescopes into a tube 23which contains and seals the window '21 in watertight relation therewithin, the connection between tubes 22 and 23 being threaded, for example, to facilitate adjustment of the spacing between the element and window. Tubes 22 and 23 further preferably are blackened, or otherwise treated, on their inner surfaces to avoid reflection of light which may enter the window spuriously.

Lens 19 and photoelectric unit 29 are suitably mounted and sealed in watertight relation in the opposite sidewalls of the basin 10, in the manner shown, and their associated lamp and photoelectric elements 18 and 20 conveniently are mounted within the double walls of the basin where they are accessible through openings provided, as shown, on the underside of the basin, these openings being normally closed by the access plates 24 and 25.

Referring now to FIG. 5 for a description of the electrical system, power is supplied by a transformer generally designated 26 which has a primary winding 27 which is connected in the usual way to the conventional 110 volt power supply. To isolate the wash basin from the high voltage, the electrical components of the wash basin system are operated from the center tapped transformer secondary winding 28 which provides a low safe voltage of the order of 24 volts across its outside terminals. Transformer 26, moreover, preferably is mounted remotely from the wash basin, being mounted on or within the wall support for the basin, or in another room removed from the wash room itself, particularly in arrangements in which the same transformer may supply the electrical systems of several wash basins.

Voltage from secondary winding 28 is supplied to a control box 30 which may be mounted on or near the wash basin 10, as in one of the double wall pockets of the basin accessible through removal of access plates 24 or 25, or on the wall support for the basin, or from a mounting bracket secured to the basin, 1whichev'er arrangement is most expedient.

Control box 30 has three inlet terminals 31, 32 and 33 which connect with the respective outer and center tap leads of the transformer secondary winding 28, and has three outlet terminals 34, 35 and 3-6 which'connect with the lamp 18 and light sensitive element 20, terminal 31 being connected internally of the box by conductor 37 to outlet terminal 36. By reason of these connections, lamp 18 is connected in series with a heater winding 38 across inlet "terminals 31 and 33 to ;be thusenergized by the upper half of seconda'r y winding 28, as'viewed in FIG. 5. Heater winding 38 is a part of a thermostat 39 having a bimetallic element 40 which closes a contact 41 when the heater winding is energized. Thus, when the lamp 18 burns out, or is otherwise extinguished, the element 40 returns to its hou-heated position and the contact 41' is opened. 7 A rectifier 42, a capacitor 43 connected in parallel with a relay winding 44, and the light sensitive element 2:) are connected in series across inlet terminals 31 and 32 whereby these elements are energized by the full voltage of transformer secondary winding 28, the capacitor serving in the usual mar ner to sustain the pulsating D.C.

. current supplied by the fectifier and thus prevent chattering of the contacts 45 operated by the relay when winding 44 is energized. '2

The series circuit comprising winding 46 of solenoid valve 13, the normally open relay contacts 45, and the thermostaticaily closed contacts 41 and its associated bimetallic element 40 is connected across inlet terminals 31 and 32 whereby the solenoid winding also is energized, upon closure of relay contacts 45, by full voltage supplied from the secondary winding 28.

Light sensitive element 20 is of a well known commercially available type which normally has a low resistance in the absence of light thereon and has a relatively high resistance when light is applied thereto. Thus, in the circuit arrangement of FIG. 5, with the concentrated light beam 16 supplied from lamp 18 through tens 19 and applied to element 20, the resistance of the same is sufficiently high to limit the current to relay winding 44 to a low value insufiicient to operate the relay and close the contacts 45. When the light beam is interrupted, however, the resistance of element 20 drops to a low value and sufficient current is passed therethrough to energize relay winding 44 sufficiently to operate the relay and thus close relay contacts 45. When this occurs, the circuit is completed through contacts 45 to energize solenoid winding 46 to thus actuate the solenoid valve 13 and permit water flow to the faucet 11.

As long as the beam is interrupted as by the hands, as shown in FIG. 1, the water will continue to flow until the hands are removed from the water path and thus from the beam path as well. When the beam is restored, the element 20 instantly assumes its high resistance value, the current to relay winding 44 decreases, the relay contacts 45 open, and the solenoid valve 13 is tie-activated to thus cut ofl? the water flow. As aforementioned, the heater winding 38 for thermostat 39 is energized by current which passes through lamp 18 and thus, if for some reason this current should be discontinued, as when lamp 18 burns out, the heater winding is deenergized and this causes the thermostat contact 40 to open to thus prevent operation of the solenoid valve 13 even though the relay contacts 45 are closed because the beam has been removed from element 20.

From the foregoing it will now be apparent that there has been provided a wash basin system which is well adapted to fulfill the aforestated objects of the invention, and while there has been disclosed only one embodiment of the invention which gives satisfactory results, other embodiments and arrangements will occur to those skilled in the art without departing from the scope of the appended ciaims.

What is claimed as new and desired to be secured by Letters Patent of the United States is:

1. A wash basin system of the character disclosed comprising, in combination, a wash basin having a bottom drain, a water supply line, and an overflow drain limiting the level to which the water rises in the basin to a predetermined level, a faucet connected to said water supply line and mounted on the basin to direct a stream of water along a predetermined path into the basin when water is caused to flow to the faucet, electroresponsive valve means connected in said water supply line for opening the same to permit water flow to said faucet when the valve means is energized, means mounted on the basin for generating a beam of light and passing the same Within the basin along a predetermined path disposed above said predetermined water level and in juxtapositioned and non-intersecting relation to said water path whereby the beam of light is respectively interrupted and restored when the hands of the wash basin user are respectively moved into and withdrawn from the water path, a light sensitive electroresponsive element mounted on the water basin and disposed within the path of said light beam, and circuit means including said element for respectively energizing and deenergizing said valve means when the light beam is respectively interrupted and restored.

2. A wash basin system as in claim 1 and further comprising a window for passing said light beam to said light sensitive element, said window being mounted and sealed in watertight relation within one sidewall of said basin, said light beam generating and passing means comprising an electric lamp and a lens mounted and sealed in watertight relation within the opposite sidewall of the basin for focusing the light from said lamp onto said element in a narrow beam disposed in closely spaced and non-intersecting relation to said water path.

3. A wash basin system as in claim 2, said element having means for mounting and adjustably spacing the same from said window to prevent ambient and spurious light beams impinging on the window from reaching the element.

4. A wash basin system as in claim 3, said element mounting means including tubing having non-light reflecting inner walls.

5. A wash basin system as in claim 1, said light beam being directed substantially horizontally between opposite side walls of the basin and near the top thereof, and said basin having said bottom drain disposed substantially in said water path and an overflow driven for limiting the rise of water in the basin to a level disposed below the level of the light beam.

6. A wash basin system as in claim 2, said circuit means including means operated by energy supplied to said electric lamp for deenergizing said valve means when the lamp is extinguished.

7. A wash basin system as in claim 1, said valve means having a solenoid actuating winding, said circuit means including a relay having normally open contacts connected in series circuits with said solenoid winding and an actuating winding connected in series circuit with said light sensitive element, said light sensitive element having relatively high and low resistance values when said light beam is respectively applied and removed there from whereby insufiicient current passes to said relay winding to actuate the relay and close said contacts when the element is illuminated by the light beam and sufficient current passes to the relay winding to actuate the relay and close said contacts when the light beam is removed from the element.

8. A wash basin system as in claim 7, said circuit means including a power supply transformer having a low voltage center tapped secondary winding, 21 rectifier, and a capacitor connected in parallel with said relay winding, said rectifier and said parallel combination of said capacitor and relay winding and said light sensitive element being connected in series circuit across the outer terminals of said secondary winding, said beam generating and passing means including an electric lamp for producing said beam when the lamp is energized, said lamp being connected between the center tap and one of said outer terminals of the secondary winding, and said solenoid winding and said relay contactsbeing connected in series across said outer terminals of the secondary winding.

9. A wash basin system as in claim 8 and further comprising a thermostat having a bimetallic element and a heater winding connected in series with said lamp for actuating the bimetallic element in response to current drawn by the lamp, said thermostat further having a pair of normally open contacts adapted to be closed by said bimetallic element and connected in series circuit with said series connected relay contacts and solenoid windmg.

10. A wash basin system as in claim 9, said solenoid valve means being mounted on or near said wash basin and said wash basin being mounted remotely from said transformer.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS Farrar 4166 LAVERNE D. GEIGER, Primary Examiner D. B. MASSENBERG, Assistant Examiner

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U.S. Classification4/623
International ClassificationE03C1/05
Cooperative ClassificationE03C1/057
European ClassificationE03C1/05D2