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Publication numberUS3551611 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateDec 29, 1970
Filing dateJan 21, 1969
Priority dateJan 21, 1969
Publication numberUS 3551611 A, US 3551611A, US-A-3551611, US3551611 A, US3551611A
InventorsFechner Gerald A
Original AssigneeFechner Gerald A
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Switch mechanism
US 3551611 A
Abstract  available in
Previous page
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent v any! 'ggD' Primary Examiner-Robert K. Schaefer Assistant Examiner-J. R. Scott Attorney-James R. Cwayna ABSTRACT: This invention relates to a switch mechanism utilizing a unique contact-shifting device including a flexible hinge-type element arranged and constructed to convert a normal downward shifting movement into a horizontal contact-shifting component whereby the height of the switch may be substantially decreased. The unit further includes a coupling technique and structure for coordinating the action of a plurality of switches which will control the interaction thereof such that only one switch in a set may be actuated at a given instance with the sets of switches interacting to release the switch previously actuated upon the switching of a new switch member. The switch is designed to be compact in nature and provides means for arranging a plurality of such switches in a relatively small amount of space. The unique contact-shifting element includes a live hinge mechanism to insure return of the switch plunger upon actuation of a subsequent switch unit.

a /FW/I/ 7 I 22 kl SWITCH MECHANISM The utilization of microcircuitry has demanded the reduction in size of various components. Applicant has provided herein a new and unique miniature switch mechanism which incorporates all of the desired features of such switch elements. These features include the coaction and control of switch devices such that one switch at a time will be activated or may be activated in a specific switch series and which therefore provides means for positively releasing one switch upon the actuation of a second switch. The switch member provided by applicant includes a unique live hinge element which converts the nonnal downward switching movement into a horizontal switching movement which thereby provides means for reducing the total height of the switch.

The uniqueness of applicants switch also includes a cooperative relation for locking out other switch mechanisms in a switch series. This unique relation includes a concept of a shiftable stop member which is shifted into interfering position with adjacent switches of a series such that the plunger of more than one switch may not be activated until the first such plunger and switch is deactivated. Applicant's device further provides a unique latch bar connecting feature between adjacent switches for likewise positively insuring that only one such switch at a time may be activated while insuring that a first switch will be released before a second switch is activated.

Applicants concept further includes a method for proper spacing between adjacent switches while utilizing the same basic interfering lockout and latch bar construction concepts such that a plurality of switches, though remotely spaced. from one another, may still be activated and controlled through a common linkage device.

It is therefore an object of applicant's invention to provide a unique compact switch mechanism which may be operated as a single switch unit but which will find its greatest utilization when arranged in a set consisting of a plurality of such switches, all of which are coacting. 7

It is a further object of applicants invention to provide a unique contact switching element for a switch mechanism which converts normal downward or inward plunger movement into a horizontal movement which thereby reduces or permits reduction of the height of the switch.

It is a further object of applicant's invention to provide a live hinge element in contact with a plunger device of a miniature switch which incorporates a memory therein to return the plunger of the switch to a normal deactivated position upon actuation of a second switch in a series of switches.

It is still a further object of applicant's invention to provide a unique compact switch member which provides means for positively holding and retaining the switch in actuated position until another switch in a series is actuated.

It is still a further object of applicant's invention to provide a means for mounting a plurality of switch mechanisms with spacing elements therein which spacing elements each include means for mechanically linking the switches and insuring the coaction therebetween.

These and other objects and advantages of my invention will more fully appear from the following description made in connection with the accompanying drawings, wherein like reference characters refer to the same or similar parts throughout the several views, and in which:

FIG. 1 is a plan view of a series of switches incorporating applicants concepts with portions thereof illustrated in section to more thoroughly illustrate the coaction of the switch members;

FIG. 2 is a partial vertical section of the illustration of FIG. I again illustrating the coaction between various of the switch elements as a plurality of switches would be arranged in sideby-side coacting relationship;

FIG. 3 is a transverse section taken substantially along line 3-3 of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a vertical section taken substantially along line 4-4 of FIG. 5 particularly illustrating the contact shifting portion of applicant's invention in a first position;

FIG. 6 is a view similar to FIG. 4 illustrating the contact I shifting portion of applicant's device in a second position. said section taken substantially along line 6-6 of FIG. 7;

FIG. 7 is a view similar to FIG. 5 illustrating the various elements of the switch in actuated position taken substantially along line 7-7 of FIG. 6; and

FIG. 8 is a bottom plan view of the switch taken substantially along line 8-8 of FIG. 3.

In accordance with the accompanying drawings a series of switch units generally designated 10 are illustrated in adjacent operative relation in FIGS. 1 and 2, spaced between certain of said switches is a spacing member generally designated 11 which is utilized to determine proper spacing between switches which also provides a mechanical link for spaced switches.

As illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2 a plurality of switches 10 may be arranged in side-by-side adjacent position to provide a series of coacting switch elements wherein the action of one of the switches will, through the mechanical linkages provided. control the other switches arranged in the series. FIGS. 1 and 2 are best utilized to show the construction of a series of said switches 10 and to show a mounting technique which has been developed therefore.

As illustrated the switches 10 each provide top 12 and bottom body portions 13 which are nonnally joined through bonding procedures to provide a complete switch member which switch member is then mounted into a holding panel 14. This particular panel-mounting arrangement includes a side element arranged to extend along both sides of a plurality of such switches and the panel 14 includes in both forms a vertical portion 15 extending the entire height of the switch body having a pair of inwardly converging switch retaining elements 16-17 on either one side or both sides thereof. These converging elements 16-17 then provide a capturing area 18 therebetween for capturing the switch mechanism 10 therein. The respective top 12 and bottom 13 portions of the switch are provided with an outwardly extending and outwardly diverging section along at least certain select portions thereof which section is generally designated 20 to be received into and held by the switch retaining area 18 of the panels 14. A mounting bar or the like 15a is a vertical extension of the vertical pen panel 15 and is provided for mounting the switch device onto a board P or the like. The length of this vertical extension 15a provides an element to extend upwardly through a mounting board P if so desired thereby retaining the switch portions 12-13 therebelow.

The switch 10 in operation provides pluralities of leads 21 which in the form shown are illustrated extending through a circuit board B or the like. Naturally it should be assumed that certain switch leads would be provided in any switching mechanism and the number or type of such leads is not to be considered a primary aspect of the invention as this certainly may be and will be modified depending upon the particular application and actual contact construction utilized in the switch.

As illustrated in FIG. 1 a contact housing area generally designated 22 is provided equally disposed within the switch body 12-13 portions. This area 22 is designed to house the actual switch contacts and contact-carrying elements therein. Again it should be understood that the individual contacts 23 would be carried on support bars 24 or the like which may vary in the individual applications. A main contact-carrying bar 25 is illustrated in the drawings in position to be shifted into a desirable electrical control arrangement. As illustrated the pair of cavities 22 are provided within the switch body portions 12- 13 and one or both of these elements may be operatively connected into the controlled circuitry without departing from the concept of the invention.

An operative and structural disclosure of the switch mechanism is best made with regard to FIGS. 4, 5, 6 and 7. FIGS. 4 and 5 illustrate the switch 10 in a nonactuated posiinch diameter balls. A

Arranged transversely of the passage 26 and extending into I tion while FIGS. 6 and 7 illustrate the same structure inposition to actuate the contacts in the desired manner. In the form shown a first longitudinally extending passage 26 is provided through the body portions 12-13, each of the body portions having symmetric passage portions contained therein. To simplify the description of the switch mechanism it so should be understood that whenever possible certain portions and cavities formed in the switch body are divided between the upper and lower halves thereof 12-13 such that when the halves 12- --13 are joined the complete cavity will be formed thereby. The respective ends 2 6d-2 6b of the passage 26 taper inwardly to provide a stop or area of decreased diameter at the ends thereof. A plurality of slidable stop elements such as balls, each designated 27 are arranged within the passage 26 for free sliding'movement therein, the diameter of each of each the balls 27 being determined such that the length of the switch body will be approximately the same as the diameter of the ballsmultiplied by the number of balls within the body. For

example, a switch body having alength of three-quarters of an inch would provide a proper length for four, three-sixteenth the contact housing areas 22-22 is an actuator chamber generally designated 30. This chamber in the form shown in FIGS. 4 and 6 is providedwith a bottom a,-a top 30b and a 7 pair of outwardly divergingsides each designated respectively 30c. The shape of these sides in the form shown provides an irregular octagon with the extentiof the sides providing sufficient access into the contact housing areas 22. To this point it should be obvious then that the switch halves 12-13 contain the contact housing areas 22 which extend in the form shown longitudinally of the body, the ball retaining passage 26 arranged parallel to the contact housings 22- and the actuator cavity 30 arranged transversely to passage 26 and extending transversely into the contact-housing areas 22. A contact-actuating member generally designated is arranged within the actuator housing 30 and includes in the form shown a member having a substantially irregular pentagonal exterior shape providing a bottom 350, a curvilinear arranged pair of outwardly diverging side sections 35b-35b which side sections terminate in a switch-contacting extension 3550-3511 which side sections terminate in a switch-contacting extension 35c-35c and a pair of inwardly convergingside elements 35d-35d extending upwardly to an apex end 35 which apex end 35s is in adjacent spaced relationship to the top 3012 of the actuator cavity 30. The actuator element 35 is basically a thin wall member which thin wall is defined by a passage 35f formed therethrough. This passage 35f is, in the form shown, generally rectangular in shape and is arranged to. have one of the corners thereof adjacent the apex end 35g\of the actuator 35 such that the actuator will tend to collapse downwardly and extend in a horizontal direction as illustrated in a comparison of FIGS. 4 and 5. In this manner the collapsing will tend to lengthen the horizontal dimension of the actuator whereby the switch contacting ends 350 thereof will force the contact arms 25 into the desired switching position. This actuator element 35 is relatively resilient member and incorporates the features of what are known as live hinges. These live hinge devices normally are of a plastic material which which are extruded into a first proper shape such as illustrated in FIG. 4 which when deflecting forces are applied thereto, will assume a second proper predetermined shape which is the shape illustrated in FIG. 6 and which will, upon release of such deforming force, return to the proper first position. This live hinge is capable of providing then in this particular installation the proper conversion of a vertical or downward motion into a horizontal motion and which will through the stored energy concept, exert a force upwardly when released from its deformed position to return itself and associated devices to a normal posi tion.

It should be noted that in the comparison of FIGS. 5 and 6 that the internal passage 35f of the actuator 35 partially inter feres with the ball-retaining passage 26 in the switching block.

When the deforming pressure is applied'to the actuator 35 and it is collapsed it will be pushed down intorthe longitudinal passage 26 thereby contacting the innermost balls 27 contained in passage 26 to forcetlie same outwardly-toe position as illustrated in FIG. 7 where the outer extremities of the two outer balls extend beyond 't'helength ofthe switch block 101s In order to provide the'neeessary force to the actuator 35 a plunger mechanism 40 is p'rdvided. To house plunger 40 a generally vertical slot 41 is provided through the switch body portions 12-43 and this slot isias illustrated, offset with regard to a center line through the c'avity 30. The plunger 40 includes a generally flat relatively thin element extendable through the entire vertical dimension of the body and includes a transverse passage 42 formed therein. This passage 42'i's of a predetermined width and height to permit theextcnding side 35c of the actuator 35 to extend therethrough. This aperture 42 is provided partially by an actuator contact member 43 bent upwardly from a portion of the slot 42 which element 43 will then extend inwardly into the actuator cavity 30 to con tact the apex 35c of the actuator35. The plunger 40 then provides a means for 'collapsing the actuator 35 in a vertical direction while. permitting horizontal expansion thereof through the plunger 40. g

The lowermost end of the plunger 40 is particularly illustrated in FIGS. 5 and 7 and includes an upwardly angled side portion 44 utilized as a ramping device for contacting a latch bar 50 as will be explained hereinafter. lmmediatelyabove the ramping surface 44 is a latch bar retaining groove 45 directed inwardly from the side of the plunger40 to retain as illustrated in FIG. 7, the latch bar 50 therein wherein the plunger 40 is in its downward-most position. V

Latch bar 50 is provided in sliding relation within longituclinally extending slot 51 formed on the lower surface of the lower .body portion 13. This slot 51 extends longitudinally parallel to the aforementioned ball-retaining passage 26. A pair of passages 52-52 are provided upwardly tobody portion 13 and are longitudinally spaced along the latch bar groove 51. Capturing elements such as a T-shaped member 53 are received therein to permit sliding of the latch bar within the groove 51"while positively capturing the same therein. Naturally slots 54 or the like must be provided in the latch bar 51 to permit movement of the latch bar 50 while retaining the same through the T-shaped elements 53.

As illustrated in FIG. 8 the latch bar is provided with a plunger receiving recess 56 extending inwardly from one side thereof to permit the plunger 40 to pass therethrough while shifting the latch bar 51 longitudinally which will, in effect, release the previously held plunger in a different switch and thereafter a spring-loading device such as the coil spring 57 arranged between the capturing element 52 and the end of the slot 54 in the latch bar Sll will cause the latch bar 51 to move rearwardly such that the capturing end 560 thereof will be received into the aforementioned groove 45 of the plunger 40.

As illustrated the latch bar 50 is provided with notched end portions 58 which will permit interlocking between adjacent latch bars 50. This interlocking is designed to provide both a push-and-pull joinder construction for next adjacent latch bars and many expedient connectors could be utilized, although the form in this case illustrates a simple, jagged, notch connection between such bars.

In order to maintain proper spacing between certain set of switches a spacing member 11 is provided which basically is of the same exterior configuration as the main switch bodies but which includes rather than the effective switching mechanism,

a simple ball-receiving passage 60 which passage is tapered at the respective ends 60a-60b thereof with a latch bar 61 provided thereunder with the same fastener means 62 for holding the latch bar 61 in sliding position to the switch body B. This latch bar 61 is again notched at the respective ends thereof to permit joining of the same into a series connection of such switches. The arrangement then with this intermediate, what could be termed a nonswitching spacer, is simply to provide an operative connector between switch elements and it should be obvious that the length of this nonactive member could include any number of ball sets to provide a proper predetermined longitudinal dimension.

In operation of the switch it should be understood that the particular switching contacts and the effective electrical connections provided thereto may be of many forms and opera- .1011 includes a coactive operation substantially as follows. Jpon depression of the plunger 40 the actuator element 35 will be collapsed from the position of FIG. 4-to, the position of FIG. 6. Upon this collapsing the balls 27 contained in the passage of the actuated switch will be forced outwardly. This outward forcing will of course force the balls of adjacent switches slightly further into the passages 35f of adjacent switches to thereby prevent depression thereof until these balls are free to again move. This then essentially provides a lock out against actuation of more than one switch at a time. When the plunger 40 is depressed, the ramp portion 44 thereof will abut with the internal side 56a of the slotted latch bar 50 and will force the same longitudinally. This longitudinal forcing will shift the latch bar 50 such that another plunger in a series will now be exposed to the entire recessed area 56 of the latch bar 50 as the latch bar will have been forced or pulled from the notched area 45 of the plunger 40. Continued depression of the plunger 40 will allow the notched portion 45 to come into registration with the end 560 of the latch bar and at this point the operation of the spring 57 to force the latch bar 50 back into the notched area should be obvious. This return of the latch bar 50 then provides a locking technique for holding the plunger 40 in downward position. When another switch in the connected series is actuated pushing the plunger 40 of the new switch down will again force the latch bar 50 from the captured position in the previously actuated switch to permit the plunger 40 to return upwardly. An upward or plunger return or force is provided by the resilient actuator element 35 tending to return to its normal position which is illustrated in FIG. 4. Basically then the unit provides a unique lockout device which prevents actuation of more than one particular switch at any given instant and provides a unique coactive latch bar mechanism for insuring that switches within the series will be unlatched and free to return to normal or upward position upon the actuation of a second switch.

It should be obvious that push down buttons 70 or the like would be provided on the upper end of the plunger 40 and various other elements would be provided to properly indicate which switch is actuated. This could be in the form of lights 71 mounted through the circuit of the switch receiving electrical energy from the engagement of the contact systems 25 therewith. These lights and button systems are not necessarily a portion of this particular invention and no further description thereof is deemed necessary.

it should be obvious that applicant has provided a unique compact switch which provides the necessary requirements of lockout and single switch control with a unique method and 7 structure for mounting the same in series with spacer techniques utilized for properly spacing the switches which again provide the same coaction mechanism for operation of switches within the series.


1. A switch mechanism including:

a. a housing;

b. a first actuator chamber defined by said housing;

c. an actuator arranged in said chamber, said actuator being shiftable from a first position to a second position upon the application of a shifting force thereto and biased to return to said first position upon the removal of such force;

. shiftable electrical contact means carried by said housing and positioned for actuation by said actuator as the same is being shifted from said first to said second position;

a plunger having a first portion thereof arranged in position to shift said actuator from said first to said second position;

2. The structure set forth in claim 1 and said actuator being formed of a resilient plastic material.

3. The structure set forth in claim 1 and said actuator being of a collapsible cross section, in said first position being of a predetermined width and expanding to a second predetermined width in said second position while being reduced in the other dimension thereof. I

4. The structure set forth in claim 3 and said actuator having a generally pentagonal exterior configuration and a passage extending therethrough to permit collapsing thereof whereby the exterior thereof will expand outwardly.

5. The structure set forth in claim 3 and said electrical contact means including a pair of spaced shiftable contacts each positioned to be actuated as said actuator expands outwardly.

6. The structure set forth in claim 5 and said housing defining electrical contact receiving chambers communicating with said actuator chamber to receive said electrical contact means therein in position for actuation by said actuator.

7. The structure set forth in claim including:

a. a first passage defined by and extending through said housing communicating with a said actuator chamber in generally nonnal relation thereto;

b. at least one stop element slidably arranged within said passage in interfering relation with said actuator; and

c. said actuator abutting with said stop element as said actuator is shifted from said first to. said second position to urge said stop element longitudinally in said passage.

8. The structure set forth in claim 7 including:

a. said first passage being generally arcuate in shape; and

b. said stop element being generally spherical in shape.

9. The structure set forth in claim 8 and said passage being of reduced diameter at the respective ends thereof to maintain at least select portions of said stop element within said housmg.

10. The structure set forth in claim 7 and a plurality of stop elements in said passage arranged respectively on both sides of said actuator whereby a shifting of said actuator urges said stop elements oppositely in said passage.

11. The structure set forth in claim 1 and said plunger having a second portion adjacent one end thereof extending through said housing in said second position.

12. The structure set forth in claim 11 and said means for releasably locking said plunger including a moveable latch bar member arranged for longitudinal sliding movement on said housing said bar member adjacent said second plunger portion with means thereon for releasably engaging said plunger portion.

13. The structure set forth in claim 12 and a slot formed in said housing said latch bar member arranged for sliding movement in said slot.

14. The structure set forth in claim 12 and said second plunger portion having a latch bar receiving notch formed therein to receive a selected portion of said latch bar therein to releasably lock the same in said second position.

15. The structure set forth in claim 12 wherein said releasable locking means including biasing 'means associated with said latch bar member normally urging the same into locking relation with said latch bar receiving notch.

16. The structure set forth in claim 12 and a camming ramp section arranged on said second plunger portion arranged to abut with selected areas of said latch bar to urge the same longitudinally of said housing.

17. The structure set forth in claim 12 and said latch bar including joinder means on the respective ends thereof for connecting latch bars of adjacent switches when the switches are arranged in connective adjacent series.

18. The structure set forth in claim 1 and mounting means for said switch including.

a. a pair of spaced longitudinally extending mounting panels having inwardly converging capturing elements; and

b. said housing provided with outwardly diverging areas on at least select portions thereof for engagement with said mounting panels.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3778565 *Oct 5, 1972Dec 11, 1973Oak Industries IncPower rated pushbutton switch with slide bar and washer type blockout interlock structure
US3845255 *Dec 19, 1973Oct 29, 1974ElmegKeyboard switch assembly with ball and slider interlock mechanism
US3903381 *Jun 17, 1974Sep 2, 1975Bosse Telefonbau GmbhKey selector switch for telephone sets
US4140883 *Oct 26, 1977Feb 20, 1979Elmeg-Elecktro-MechanikKeyboard with selective key entry block
US4167657 *Mar 3, 1978Sep 11, 1979Elmeg-Elektro-Mechanik Gesellschaft Mit Beschrankter HaftungKeyboard with mechanical encoding
WO2008055165A1 *Oct 30, 2007May 8, 2008Honeywell Int IncIntegrated thermostat overmolded leadwire construction
U.S. Classification200/5.00C, 200/325, 200/5.0EA
International ClassificationH01H13/70, H01H13/74
Cooperative ClassificationH01H13/74
European ClassificationH01H13/74