US 3506156 A
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
April 14, 1970 T, HANSON ET AL 3,506,156
CUP DROPPER WITH AUTOMATIC CONTROL OF REPLACEMENT STACK filed'April 22. 1968 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 1NVENTOR5. 65 Theaa/dgeygans/on l y a amse Z. BY y cur DROPPER WITH AUTOMATIC CONTROL OF REPLACEMENT STACK Filed April 22. 1968 April 14, 1970 HANSON ET AL 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 INVENTORS Theodore Lfia/zsm BY 64/612 5 Wama/qy j ATTORNEYfi.
United States Patent 3,506,156 CUP DROPPER WITH AUTOMATIC CONTROL OF REPLACEMENT STACK Theodore L. Hanson, Kansas City, and Clyde E. Warnsley, Independence, Mo., assignors to The Vendo Company, Kansas City, Mo., a corporation of Missouri Filed Apr. 22, 1968, Ser. No. 722,930 Int. Cl. G07f 11/46 US. Cl. 22111 7 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A cup dropper for a dispenser including a rotatable turret having a plurality of vertically extending columns, each adapted to contain a stack of cups for sequential movement into alignment with a device for separating the lowermost cup from an aligned stack thereof. A crank freely rotatable on a fixed axis is pivotaly coupled through an elongated, rigid link to the operating lever of the device upon operating of the dispenser. A motor driven arm mounted for rotation on a common axis with the crank drivingly engages an abutment carried by the crank during a portion of the rotation of said arm and crank about said common axis, and releases said crank for relatively rapid movement by a spring during remainder of said rotation whereby the operating lever is snapped to effectively separate a cup from the stack.
A drive element is coupled to the motor for reciprocation each time the motor is operated, and a circular ratchet is secured to the turret. A pawl carried by the element and normally out of operable engagement with the ratchet is movable into said operable engagement for advancement of the turret upon energization of a solenoid controlled by switch means adjacent the separator to sense depletion of cups to a predetermined extent in a stack aligned with the separator.
This invention relates to dispensers and, more particularly, to apparatus for providing a cup in conjunction with a beverage vending operation.
Machines for vending hot or cold beverages into cups provided to the customer have become common. Conventionally, a cup dropper separates a single cup from a stack of cups during each vending operation, and the cup gravitates to a position to receive the beverage selected by the customer. The cupdispensing mechanism is situated at a fixed location, and a rotatable turret contains a number of stacks of cups, each stack being successively advanced into alignment with the dispensing mechanism by movement of the turret responsive to a diminution of the supply of cups aligned with the mechanism.
Some conventional cup droppers have utilized a relatively complicated system of cranks and levers engageable with detents at the periphery of the turret for incremental advancement of the turret to supply a fresh stack of cups to the dispensing mechanisms. The levers are manipulated during each operation of the vending machine, but there is no driving engagement with the turret until the supply of cups at the mechanism reaches a predetermined low level as sensed by a lever extending into physical engagement with the cups in the stack.
Other cup droppers have used different means for sensing the presence of an adequate supply of cups at the dispensing location. The means for advancing the turret incrementally in order to resupply the dispensing station has however, remained complicated and costly.
Conventional cup-dropping mechanisms include a plurality of cams disposed around the periphery of a cup in position to engage the rim of the lowermost cup of an aligned stack. A movable operating lever is operably coupled with the cams for rotating them simultaneously to force the lowermost cup from the stack.
It is desirable to provide for a snapping movement of the operating lever to insure positive and forceful separation of the cup during the dispensing operation. Tendencies of the cups to stick together caused by variations in cup size, types of materials and coatings used in fabricating the cups, and the relative force applied to the ends of a stack of nested cups are overcome by this impactive snapping of the operating lever.
Accordingly, it is a primary object of this invention to provide an efficient cup dropper of simplified construction which is relatively economical to fabricate and which requires relatively little operator attention.
In the achievement of the foregoing object, it is another object of the invention to provide a simple, yet highly reliable coupling between the motor and a spring-loaded cup dispenser operating lever wherein the lever is disengaged from the motor and moved by the spring to snap the dispenser during a portion of its path of travel.
Still a further important object of the invention is the provision of means for automatically replenishing the supply of cups at a dispensing station, which means utilizes a minimum of moving parts.
Another object of the invention is the provision of an operating element for the cup turret advancing ratchet which rides on the ratchet during each operation of the cup dropper, thereby eliminating the necessity for auxiliary supporting means for the element during relative shifting of the element and the ratchet.
These and other objects of the invention will be further explained or will become apparent in the drawing and from the following specification and claims.
In the drawings:
FIGURE 1 is a top plan view of a cup dropper constructed pursuant to the principles of this invention, parts being broken away to reveal details of construction;
FIG. 2 is a side elevational view thereof, the turret being shown in vertical cross section, parts being broken away for clarity;
FIG. 3 is a fragmentary, bottom plan view of the cup dropper illustrating the cup separator and its operating taken along line 7-7 of FIG. 5.
A cup dropper constructed pursuant to the principles of this invention is broadly designated by the reference numeral 10 and comprises a generally planar mounting plate 12 having a peripherally extending, downturned flange 14. A stationary, upright shaft 16 is mounted centrally of plate 12 and journals a disc 18 provided with a pair of spaced-apart, upright studs 20 (FIG. 2) and an integral collar 22. Collar 22 is secured to a ratchet wheel 24 having a plurality of teeth 26 disposed at the peripheral edge of wheel 24 as illustrated best in FIGS. 1 and 5.
A generally circular platform 28 is received over shaft 16 and the studs 20. Platform 28 is carried by rollers 30 mounted at the uppermost ends of brackets 32 secured to the upper surface of plate 12. Vertically extending support structure 34 is secured to the outer peripheral edge of platform 28 and includes generally Z-shaped spacers 36 defining partitions between a peripherally extending series of upright columns 38, each column adapted to. receive a stack of nested cups as illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2. It should be noted that plate 12 has a circular, upstanding rib 40 extending directly beneath the respective columns 38 and adapted to slidingly support the lowermost cup of the stacks as structure 34 is rotated to successively move each stack into alignment with cup-dropping mechanism as will be subsequently described. Circumscribing bands 42 disposed around the support structure 34 may be provided with a cover (not shown) for protecting the stacks of cups from dirt or other contaminants while the stacks are in the support structure 34.
A prime mover in the nature of an electric motor 44 is operably coupled with a gearbox 46 which has an output shaft 48 which projects vertically upwardly and downwardly from box 46 as illustrated in FIG. 2. The downwardly projecting portion of shaft 48 extends beneath plate 12 and carries an arm 50 which is rigidly secured to the shaft.
Arm 50 is shaped as illustrated best in FIGS. 3 and 4 and is adapted to engage an upwardly extending abutment or pin 52 carried by a crank 54 having one end rotatably mounted on shaft 48 and the other end pivotally connected with a link 56. The latter is operably couple to the operating member 58 of a cup separator 60. Separtor 60 :omprises a pair of vertically spaced ring members 62 and 64 joumaling a plurality of rotatable cams 56 which are geared with operating lever or member 58 so that reciprocation of lever 58 simultaneously rotates all of the cams 66 to dispense the lowermost cup 68 from a stack thereof aligned with separator 60.
Separator 60 is quite conventional and forms no part of the invention per se. Accordingly, separator 60 need not be described in detail. Reference may be had to US. Letters Patent Nos. 2,860,817, issued Nov. 18, 1958, and 2,925,196, issued Feb. 16, 960, for a full and complete understanding of the construction and operation of a separator 60 suitable for use with the cup dropper of this Lnvention.
It should be pointed out, however, that the successful dispensing of cups from the bottom of a stack thereof aligned with separator 60 depends in part upon a snapping action which is imparted to the rotatable cams 66. AC- :ordingly, the mechanism coupling operating lever 58 of 3f separator 60 with gearbox 46 includes the arm 50 and :he pivotally interconnected crank 54 and link 56, the .atter having an upstanding lug 70 receiving one end of a. tension spring 72, while the other end of spring 72 is :oupled with a bracket 74 rigidly secured to the down- .urned flange 14 of plate 12.
Referring particularly to FIGS. 3, 4 and 5, it may be seen that the rotation of shaft 48 in the direction of the arrow illustrated in FIG. 3, brings the projecting end of arm 50 into engagement with the upstanding pin 52. The atter is carried by the rotating arm 50 until it reaches 1 position generally as illustrated in FIG. 3 with crank 54 disposed to move the pivotal coupling of crank 54 and link 56 to its furthest position toward the left as illus- :rated in FIG. 3. At this position, an eccentric 76 prodded with a cam nose 78 and rigidly coupled with shaft l8 above plate 12 engages the operating lever 80 of an :lectric switch 82, the latter being mounted on a bracket 34 on the upper surface of plate 12. Engagement of cam lose 78 with operating lever 80 operates electrical cir- :uitry (not shown) to de-energize motor 44 so that the :omponents are stopped after each operation of motor M in repsonse to energization of the vending machine in he position generally illustrated in FIG. 3.
It will thus be seen that the mechanism intercoupling :haft 48 with operating lever 58 is stopped at a position vith crank 54 about ready to go to the over-center posiion with respect to link 56. At the same time, the latter s in a position causing the maximum extension of ten ion spring 72 as illustrated in FIG. 3.
Upon subsequent operation of the vending machine such as by the deposit of coins totaling a predetermined amount into the coin control mechanism of the vending machine and the pushing by the customer of an appropriate selector switch, such as switch 86 in the drawing, motor 44 is re-energized. Slight initial rotation of arm 50 moves crank 54 beyond the over-center position with respect to link 56 whereupon spring 72 is then free to pull link 56 ahead of the movement of arm 50. Thus, upon reaching the over-center position, crank 54 and link 56 are disengaged from driven relationship with arm 50 and are driven by spring 72 at a much faster rate to cause the snapping action desirable for separating the lowermost cup from a stack thereof. The components remain in the position generally as illustrated in FIG. 4 until continued rotation of arm 50 by motor 44 brings the arm into engagement with pin 52 once again for movement of the components to the position illustrated in FIG. 3. Subsequent de-energization of motor 44 by switch 82 leaves the components in the cocked position once again awaiting a subsequent operation of the vending machine. Manifestly, upon each reciprocation of lever '58 to the position illustrated in FIG. 4, a cup is dropped from the aligned stack and is conducted to a position by components (not shown) to receive the product to be dispensed by the vending machine. Manifestly, plate 12 is provided with an opening 88 in alignment with separator 60 which is disposed concentric to the opening 88 and beneath the latter.
Referring now to FIGS. 1 and 5, a transversely U-shaped, elongated, rigid element 90 has one end thereof pivotally coupled to eccentric 76 in spaced relationship from the axis of rotation of the latter around shaft 48. The element 90 is received over the peripheral edge of ratchet wheel 24 and is maintained in such position by a tension spring 92 havjng one end secured to the end of element 90 opposite eccentric 76 and the other end secured to a bracket 94 mounted on the upper surface of plate 12. An anti-backup pawl 96 is also mounted on bracket 94 as illustrated in FIG. 1 and slidingly engages the teeth 26 to restrict rotation of ratchet 24 to a clockwise direction as illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 5.
An L-shaped pawl 98 is pivotally coupled to the opposed flanges of element 90 intermediate the ends of the latter and has an arm 100 projecting through a slot in element 90. Arm 100 is secured to a tension spring 102 and to a coupling 104 which is, in turn, secured to the armature 106 of a solenoid 108. The latter is mounted on element 90 as illustrated best in FIGS. 1 and 5.
When solenoid 108 is de-energized, pawl 98 is carried in the position illustrated in FIG. 5. Accordingly, since shaft 48 is rotated one complete revolution during each operation of the vending machine, element 90- is reciprocated back-and-forth one time during each rotation of eccentric 76 which is rigidly mounted to shaft 48. Normally, however, the position of pawl 98 permits such reciprocation of element 9% without corresponding driving engagement between pawl 98 and ratchet 2-4, However, when the supply of cups in the stack thereof aligned with the opening 88 reaches a predetermined low number as sensed by an arm'110 of an electrical switch 112 mounted on a bracket 114 adjacent opening 88, switch 112 operates circuitry (not shown) to energize solenoid 108. One acceptable setting for switch arm is to cause energizing of solenoid 108 when the number of cups 68 in the stack aligned with opening 88 is reduced by previous operations of the cup dropper to two. Thus, a subsequent operation of the vending machine which results in energizing of motor 44 and reciprocation of element 90, proceeds with pawl 98 having been moved into operative engagement with teeth 26 of wheel 24 by virtue of the withdrawal of armature 106 against the action of spring 102. This causes the rotation of ratchet 24 an increment which is calculated to move the next adjacent column 38 half of the distance toward opening 88. Manifestly,
since the number of cups aligned with opening 88 has been depleted to two cups, the stack of cups supported by the earns 66 of separator 60 is sufficiently below the upper surface of plate 12 that the turret comprising the platform 28 and the associated structures 34 is free to move without interference by the stack of cups in opening 88.
Solenoid 108 remains energized and upon the second operation of the vending machine, reciprocation of element 90 moves ratchet 24 another increment which is calculated to drive the turret a suflicient distance to move said subsequent stack of cups the remaining distance, whereupon the cups are dropped through opening 88 and into alignment with separator 60. The fresh stack of cups aligned with separator 60 engages switch arm 110 to deenergize solenoid 108 whereupon the pawl 90 returns to the position illustrated in FIG. under the influence of spring 102. Such fresh stack of cups may thereupon be dispensed in sequence by subsequent operations of the vending machine until the supply thereof again reaches the predetermined minimum number of two. Solenoid 108 is then re-energized for moving the next column 38 and its supply of cups into alignment with opening 88 for resupplying the cup separator 60.
A pivoted bracket 116 has a roller 118 disposed to engage the inner surfaces of the Z-shaped spacers 36 and a spring 120 biases roller 118 into engagement with said surfaces. The latter are provided with indentations 122 at spaced intervals around the inner periphery of the columns 38, there being one indentation 122 for each column 38. The positioning of the respective indentations 122 is such that roller 118 fits within an indentation when a column 38 is in proper alignment with respect to opening 88. Thus, roller 118 serves to cam the turret into proper position following each advancement of the turret the two increments necessary for aligning a new column 38 and its stack of cups with opening 88.
It should be pointed out that element 90 is supported on the edge of ratchet 24 without the necessity for separate mounting bearings, and the yieldable connection of one end of element 90 to bracket 94 by spring 92 permits the element 90 to follow the reciprocating path of travel defined by the rotation of eccentric 76. This floating relationship of element 90 on ratchet 24 is of extremely simple construction, yet permits a driving relationship between the pawl 98 carried by element 90 whenever it is necessary to advance the turret. A depending foot 124 mounted at the end of element 90 remote from eccentric 76 helps to prevent inadvertent disengagement of element 90 from the peripheral edge of ratchet 24.
Having thus described the invention, what is claimed as new and desired to be secured by Letters Patent is:
1. In a cup dropper for a dispensing machine, a rotatable carrier for receiving a plurality of stacks of cups;
a separator adjacent the carrier for successively releasing cups from a stack thereof aligned with the separator;
an electric motor;
mechanism operably coupling the motor to said separa- 6 tor to actuate the latter for releasing a cup from the stack aligned with the separator each time the motor is operated;
switch means adjacent the separator operable to sense depletion of cups to a predetermined extent in a stack aligned with the separator; drive structure coupled to the motor and reciprocated thereby each time the motor is operated; and
coupling means on the drive structure, operated by said switch means and operable to couple the drive structure to said carrier for rotating the latter until the carrier has been rotated through an increment to bring another stack of cups into alignment with the separator as sensed by said switch means.
2. The invention of claim 1, wherein is included a ratchet secured to the carrier, said coupling means including a pawl normally disengaged from said ratchet and movable to an operating position disposed to engage said ratchet for rotating the carrier, and an electrically responsive device operably coupled with the switch means for moving the pawl from its normal position to said operating position.
3. The invention of claim 2, wherein said drive structure includes an elongated, transversely U-shaped element having a pair of spaced-apart sides, the outer margin of said ratchet being received between said sides for slidingly supporting the element on the ratchet, and means interconnecting the motor with said element for shifting the latter relative to the ratchet.
4. The invention of claim 3, wherein said ratchet comprises a circular disc having a plurality of peripherally disposed teeth.
5. The invention of claim 4, wherein said element is operably coupled to said motor adjacent one end of the element, said ratchet being received by the sides intermediate the ends of the element, and means operably coupled with the other end of said element for yieldably biasing the latter toward said ratchet during shifting of the element relative to the ratchet.
6. The invention of claim 5, wherein said means interconnecting the motor With said element includes an eccentric secured to the shaft of said motor for rotation therewith, said eccentric being pivotally coupled to said one end of the element.
7. The invention of claim 3, wherein said pawl is pivotally secured to the element, and yieldable means coupled with the pawl for biasing the latter toward said normal position.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,115,024 4/1938 Klemt 74-112 X 2,385,267 9/1945 Franz 221-1 1 2,860,817 11/1958 Bell 221-11 3,283,951 11/ 1966 Gladfelder 221-l 1 SAMUEL F. COLEMAN, Primary Examiner