US 3500579 A
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March 17, 1970 R. F. BRYER RANDOMLY SELF-PROPELLED SPHERICAL TOY Filed May 10, 1967 FIG-5 INVENTOR ROBERT E BRYER ATTO RN EYS United States Patent US. Cl. 46-243 6 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A hollow sphere is randomly self-propelled upon a haphazard path by a self-contained internal driving unit including a friction drive wheel rotated by an electric motor mounted on a supporting platform carrying a battery for energizing the motor. An optional mercury switch on the platform automatically breaks the circuit when the driving unit is turned upside down. The platform and the driving wheel engage the inner wall of the sphere at haphazard and constantly varying locations by being completely independent of connection therewith, resulting in an irregular path of travel which automatically veers away from an object with which it collides.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION Self-propelled hollow spheres or hollow bodies with internal driving units have been previously known but in each of these known to the present inventor a definite and fixedly-located connection has been established between the body and the driving unit by means of a shaft either journaled in the hollow body wall or drivingly connected thereto, the driving unit being mounted on this shaft, so that the driving engagement continually occurs in the same location or path within the sphere and consequently the path of travel of the sphere along the floor is not random or haphazard. Exemplary of such prior self-propelled hollow bodies are the self-propelled spheres of the patents to McFaul No. 1,263,262 of Apr. 16, 1918, Glos No. 2,939,246 of June 7, 1960, and Easterling No. 2,949,696 and Licitis No. 2,949,697, both of Aug. 23, 1960. A hollow self-propelled barrel similarly driven is shown in Lettieri Patent No. 2,846,814 of Aug. 12, 1958.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The weight of the driving mechanism acting upon the friction driving wheel creates a driving engagement with the inner wall of the hollow sphere while corners of the platform laterally engage that wall at random locations which rarely repeat themselves so that a highly irregular path of travel is imparted to the sphere. If the sphere collides with an object, it bounces off and veers away because of the automatic change of the point of driving engagement of the driving wheel with the sphere, as well as by the change of orientation of the plane of the driving wheel brought about by the jolt resulting from the collision. Turning the driving unit upside down in the sphere automatically shuts off the motor by shifting a mercury switch to its off position.
In the drawing:
FIGURE 1 is a central vertical section through a randomly self-propelled spherical toy, according to one form of the invention, with the driving unit shown in side elevation;
FIGURE 2 is an end elevation partly broken away, of the hollow sphere and driving unit of FIGURE 1, lookin g in the direction of the arrows 2-2 therein;
FIGURE 3 is a bottom plan view with the sphere broken away, looking in the direction of the arrows 33 in FIGURE 1;
FIGURE 4 is a side elevation with the sphere in vertical 3,500,579 Patented Mar. 17, 1970 section similar to FIGURE 1 but with the driving unit turned upside down to shut off the power; and
FIGURE 5 is a wiring diagram of the driving unit shown in FIGURES 1 to 4 inclusive.
Referring to the drawing in detail, FIGURES 1 to 4 inclusive show a randomly self-propelled spherical toy, generally designated 10, including a hollow sphere 12 preferably of transparent plastic material within which is a self-contained driving unit 14 having no fixed connection to the hollow sphere 12 but only a random contact and driving engagement therewith. The driving unit 14 consists of a platform or supporting structure 16 upon which is mounted a battery 18, for purposes of simplification shown as a single dry cell but ordinarily including several such cells in order to obtain adequate voltage for energizing the minatu-re driving motor 20 bolted or otherwise secured to the under side of the platform 16. Where the motor 20 is of such a voltage that a single dry cell is adequate, such single cell may be used.
The battery 18 is connected to the motor 20 (FIGURE 5) by way of a gravity-responsive switch 22, such as a mercury switch. This mercury switch, in the right-side-up position of FIGURES 1, 2 and 3 of the driving unit 14, closes the circuit between the battery 18 and the motor 20 but, when turned upside down by flipping the toy 10 over (FIGURE 4), opens that circuit and automatically shuts off the motor 20.
The motor 20 has a rotary drive shaft 24 carrying a relatively small diameter friction drive pulley 26 which frictionally engages the resilient rim 28 of a relatively large diameter driving wheel 30 of the driving unit 14, so as to provide a speed reduction therebetween. The rim 28 is preferably of elastic deformable material, such as natural or synthetic rubber or synthetic plastic, and is pressed into frictional engagement with the inner surface or wall 32 of the hollow sphere 12 by the force of gravity resulting from the weight of the driving unit 14. The driving wheel 30 is mounted on an axle 34 which in turn is journaled in a bearing block 36 secured to the platform 16. The hollow sphere 12 is preferably made up of two separable hemispheres 36 and 38 with overlapping flanges 40 and 42 to enable replacement of the battery 18 or for maintenance or repairs.
The platform 16 is preferably of approximately equilateral triangular outline, with corners 34 shown for simplification as merely rounded to prevent binding and facilitate their sliding engagement with the inner surface 32 of the hollow sphere 12. As commercially manufactured, corners 34 would preferably be provided with anti-friction ball contacts or the like to further facilitate the sliding engagement and reduce friction. It will of course be understood that if the rim 28 of the driving wheel 30 is to make effective driving engagement with the internal spherical surface 32, the platform 16 must be so shaped and proportioned that only two of the corners 34 engage the surface 32 at any one time in order to give threepoint contact and driving engagement therewith. Engagement of all three corners 34 with the internal spherical surface 32 would lift the driving wheel rim 28 completely out of frictional engagement with the internal surface 32 and would therefore prevent such driving engagement. The battery 18 and motor 20 are secured to the platform 14 by clamps 44 and 46 respectively. Where a second battery 18 (not shown) is added for increased voltage, it is-secured to the underside of the platform 14 in the same manner, as was the case with a toy 10 actually constructed and operated according to the present invention.
In the operation of the invention, when the driving unit 14 is right-side-up (FIGURES 1, 2 and 3), the mercury switch 22 is in its closed position, closing the circuit '3 vetween the battery 18 and the motor 20. The conseuent rotation of the motor shaft 24 and drive pulley 26 otates the driving wheel 30 at a reduced speed and this a turn rotates the hollow sphere 32 by the frictional ,riving engagement of the resilient rim 28 therewith. ls the sphere 12 rolls along the floor or other surface, tends to travel in a straight line. When, however, it :ollides with an object, the jolt causes Wobbling of the lriving unit 14 inside the sphere 12 and this in turn shifts he point of engagement and plane of the driving wheel relatively to the previously-engaged path on the in- :rnal surface 32. As a result, the sphere 12 pursues an regular path because of the random engagement of the latform 16 and the driving wheel 30 therewith and beause of the lack of any fixedly-located connection thereith.
If, in the course of its travel, the toy collideswith :1 object, the resilience of the hollow sphere 12 ordi- .arily causes it to bounce or veer off and the jolt resultig from the collision again shifts the relative positions 1: the plane of the driving wheel 30 and its previously ugaged path on the internal spherical surface 32, autolatically causing the toy 10 to go off in a new path of 'avel. When the operator desires to inactivate the toy 10, e merely flips it in such a manner as to cause the drivlg unit 14 to turn upside down as in FIGURE 4. This ction inverts the mercury switch 22 and consequently lifts it into open circuit, thereby shutting off the flow f current from the battery 18 to the motor 20. As a :sult', the shaft 24 of the motor 20 stops rotating and 1e toy 10 remains inoperative until the driving unit 14 is 1rned right-side-up, as in FIGURES 1, 2 and 3. The 'eight of the parts normally beneath the platform 16, 10h as the motor 20 and wheel 30, is preferably made reater than that of the battery 18 above the platform 16 J as to normally maintain the driving mechanism 14 ight-side-up by placing the center of gravity thereof elow the platform 16.
It will be evident that the driving wheel 30 may be esiliently mounted, as on a spring or springs, so as to ermit all three corners 34 to engage the inner spherical Jrface 32 of the hollow sphere 12 while maintaining a :silient driving engagement between the driving wheel 0 and the spherical surface 32.
1. A randomly self-propelled spherical toy, comrising a pair of interconnected partially spherical shells formingin assembly a hollow sphere;
and a self-contained battery-powered driving unit mounted within said hollow sphere free from fixed connection therewith whereby to effect random freesliding engagement therewith,
said driving unit having a plurality of components including a supporting structure slidingly engaging said sphere, a driving wheel rotatably mounted on said supporting structure in frictional driving engagement with said sphere, an electric motor mounted on said supporting structure and drivingly connected to said driving wheel, and a battery mounted on said supporting structure in circuit with said motor.
2. A randomly self-propelled spherical toy, according to claim 1, wherein said driving wheel is mounted beneath said supporting structure in frictional driving engagement with a portion of said sphere disposed beneath said supporting structure.
3. A randomly self-propelled spherical toy, according to claim 2, wherein said driving wheel is disposed in driving engagement with the momentarily-lowermost portion of said sphere.
4. A randomly self-propelled spherical toy, according to claim 1, wherein said supporting structure has a pair of spaced contact portions which rest against and freeslidingly engage said sphere at a pair of correspondinglyspaced locations on the inner surface thereof.
5. A randomly self-propelled spherical toy, according to claim 1, wherein said supporting structure includes a generally-horizontal platform and wherein said components are so mounted on said supporting structure that the preponderant weight thereof disposes the center of gravity of said driving unit beneath said platform.
- 6. A randomly self-prepelled spherical toy, according to claim 5, wherein said platform is of approximately triangular configuration with sphere-contacting portions disposed momentarily at two of the corners thereof.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,939,246 6/1960 Glos 46243 LOUIS G. MANCENE, Primary Examiner ROBERT F. CUTTING, Assistant Examiner U.S. c1. X.R. 46-47