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Publication numberUS3553645 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJan 5, 1971
Filing dateApr 4, 1968
Priority dateApr 4, 1968
Publication numberUS 3553645 A, US 3553645A, US-A-3553645, US3553645 A, US3553645A
InventorsFinkel William P
Original AssigneeFinkel William P
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Variable message traffic sign
US 3553645 A
Abstract  available in
Images(3)
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

Jan. 5, 1971 V w, p L 3,553,645

I VARIABLE MESSAGE TRAFFIC SIGN Filed April 4, 1968 r v SShetsSheet 1 i qcEa.

w Ra K N N n V WP M w M W i @Q Q I 3 BY I Filed April 4, 1968 W. P. FINKEL.

VARIABLE MESSAGE TRAFFIC S IGN 3 Sheets-Sheet 2 INVENTORJ MILL Q fi/YkEL W. P. FINKEL VARIABLE MESSAGE TRAFFIC SIGN Jan. 5, 1971 5 Sheets-Sheet 3 Filed April 4, 1968 INVEN'TQR. MuJ m .PI YK United States Patent 3,553,645 VARIABLE MESSAGE TRAFFIC SIGN William P. Finkel, 1005 Louisa St., Elizabeth, NJ. 07021 Filed Apr. 4, 1968, Ser. No. 718,682 Int. C]. 8601; 1/00; 1/26 U.S. Cl. 340-84 12 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE This invention relates to a highway traffic sign. More particularly, this invention relates to a variable message traffic sign.

Various traffic signs have been used in the past to post messages, such as, speed limits, etc. Generally, these heretofore signals have been either of the single message type or dual message type. In signs of the single message type, black-on-white lettering has been painted on a flat surface usually of a metal sheet and the metal surface secured to a standard or post alongside a roadway. However, the messages of these signs have been permanent in that the message cannot be changed without first permanently obliterating the initial message. Also, such signs have been difficult to read in nighttime and under very overcast conditions. On the other hand, in order to overcome such disadvantages, signs of the variable message type have been used which contain refiectorized surfaces for nighttime viewing superimposed over similar black-on-white lettering in order to display the same or different message under nighttime conditions and daytime conditions. Also, such signs have relied on the use of electric light bulbs arranged in a matrix manner to display a variable message during nighttime and daytime condition with a green neon overlay displaying a permanent message.

However, the variable message sign which have been used have had various disadvantages. For example, the signs which have relied on refiectorized surfaces have been limited in the number of messages which can be displayed. Also, such signs have been adversely affected by weathering over prolonged periods. Further, the signs which have relied on electric light bulbs and a neon overlay have required almost constant use of the light bulbs since the neon faded in sunlight and could not be relied on to display the permanent message. Consequently, these electric signs have been relatively costly to operate due to the almost constant use of the light bulbs.

Accordingly, it is an object of the invention to provide a variable message sign which is economical to operate.

It is another object of the invention to use a matrix of light bulbs to display a variable message only during adverse or changed traffic conditions.

It is another object of the invention to provide a variable message sign with a permanently lettered message which can be temporarily obliterated while a secondary lighted message is displayed.

It is another object of the invention to provide a variable message sign of simple construction.

Briefly, the invention provides a variable message sign having a cabinet which contains a louvered face and an internally mounted light bulb matrix in alignment with the louvered face. The louvered face is formed by a plurality of louvers which are pivoted in unison from a closed position to an opened position. In the closed position, the louvers are aligned so as to present a substantially smooth face whereas, in the opened position, the louvers are disposed in parallel relation to expose the interior of the cabinet to view. The faces of the louvers are also provided with standard refiectorized black-onwhite lettering to display a first message which is to be used as the permanent message, for example, the numeral 60.!

The light bulb matrix includes a plurality of light bulbs which are arranged in rows corresponding to the number of louvers in the cabinet face so as to be viewed when the louvers are pivoted into the opened position. This matrix is arranged to display any one of the number of temporary messages such as, for example, numerals 20, 25, 30, 40, etc. upon lighting of predetermined bulbs.

The variable message sign also includes an articulated louver assembly which is connected to the louvers to pivot the louvers in unison. The assembly is powered by a motor which operates the assembly in response to a signal corresponding to the actuation of the light bulb matrix. The operation of the sign is such that with the louvers in closed position to display the permanent message, should a signal be sent to the light bulb matrix to actuate the bulbs to light up in a pattern to define a temporary message necessitated by a particular traflic condition, a signal is thereafter sent to the motor of the louver assembly. The motor then responds to this signal to actuate the louver assembly to cause the louvers to pivot into the opened position. This exposes the lighted bulbs to view while obliterating the permanent message from view. After the traflic condition which is responsible for the displaying of the temporary message ceases to exist, the light bulbs are turned oif and the motor of the louver assembly is actuated to pivot the louvers into the closed position so that the permanent message is again displayed.

In another embodiment of the invention the cabinet of the sign is provided with a pair of louvered faces as above. While a light bulb matrix is disposed behind one of the louvered faces, a permanent lettered message is disposed on a surface behind the other louvered face. For example, where one louvered face and the light bulb martix are used to display a numerical value, the other louvered face and surface are used to display a speed limit indication and the reason for the temporary message of the light bulb matrix.

These and other objects and advantages of the invention will become more apparent from the following detailed description and appended claims taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of a variable message sign according to the invention;

FIG. 2 illustrates a front view of the sign of FIG. 1 with the louvers in closed position;

FIG. 3 illustrates a front view of the sign of FIG. 1 with the louvers in opened position exposing the light bulb matrix;

FIG. 4 illustrates a view taken on line 4-4 of FIG. 1 showing the relationship of the louvers and light bulbs of the matrix;

FIG. 5 illustrates a view taken on. line 5-5 of FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 illustrates a view taken on line 66 of FIG. 5 showing the louver assembly for pivoting of the louvers;

FIG. 7 illustrates an enlarged detail of the linkage of the louver assembly;

FIG. -8 illustrates a front view of another variable message sign of the invention having a pair of louvered faces in closed position; and

FIG. 9 illustrates a view similar to FIG. 8 with the louvered faces of the sign in opened position.

Referring to FIG. 1, the variable message sign 10 includes a cabinet 11 which is of rectangular shape having, for example, a depth of about 12 inches, a height of about 72 inches and a width of about 60 inches. The face of the cabinet 11 is provided with lettering 12 of a conventional black-on-white type or standard reflectorized type as used for highway traffic signs to indicate a speed limit message. The cabinet face also has an aperture 12 in which a set of horizontal louvers 14 are positioned. The louvers 14 are of relatively thin thickness, for example, 0.063 inch, so as not to interfere with the viewing of the interior of the cabinet when in an opened position. These louvers 14 are also provided with numerals 15 of the same black-on-white type as above to indicate a speed. The cabinet 11 is constructed in a generally hollow type construction of any suitable material, such as aluminum, which can be subjected to weathering conditions.

Referring to FIG. 4, the forward wall 16 of the cabinet 11 is formed by an upper panel 17 on which the lettering 12 is applied and which is pivotally mounted by a hinge 18 in dependent manner from the top 19 of the cabinet 11. In addition, the upper panel 17 is secured by suitable bolts (not shown) to the remainder of the cabinet 11 to prevent pivoting of the panel 17 relative to the cabinet 11. The forward wall 16 also includes a lower panel 20 which defines the aperture 13 and which is pivotally mounted by a hinge 21 to the base of the cabinet 11. In order to protect against Weathering, a suitable rain shield 22 is secured, as by rivets, to the hinge 18 and top 19 of the cabinet 11 to project over the hinge 18. Also, weather stripping 23 is applied between the lower panel 20 and interior of the cabinet 11.

A light bulb matrix 24 which is of known construction and need not further be described is mounted in the interior of the cabinet 11 on a support plate 25. The light bulbs 26 on the matrix are arranged in horizontal rows so as to be positioned behind the louvers 14 when the louvers 14 are in a closed position as shown (FIG. 4). Also, the light bulbs 26 are sized to be exposed to view when the louvers 14 are in opened position and are of about 50 watts each. For example, the number of rows of light bulbs can either be identical in number to the number of louvers with each row of bulbs being fully exposed on opening of the louvers or can be of any suitable number, provided the bulb dimensional size is large enough so as not to be obliterated by the thickness of a horizontally disposed louver. In this latter case, the projected light of a row of bulbs can be interposed to either side of a louver since the thickness of the louver is thin enough so as not to interfere with the message being projected. The light bulb matrix 24 is connected by a power line 27 to a suitable power input 28 which is actuated by a signal from an outside source (not shown) to energize the light bulbs in predetermined patterns.

Referring to FIGS. 5, 6, and 7, the louvers 14 are pivotally mounted on a louver assembly 29 to be moved in unison. This louver assembly 29 includes a plurality of shafts 30 each of which fixedly mounts a louver 14 thereon and which is rotatably mounted at opposite ends in angle brackets 31 secured to the inside of the cabinet 11 along the aperture 13. Each shaft 30 has a link 32 secured at one end which pivotally connects with a common vertical link bar 33. The link bar 33 is connected by way of a pivotally mounted link 34 to one end of a pivot arm 35 which passes through the support plate 25. The pivot arm 35 is pivotally mounted at an intermediate point on a pin 36 secured in a bracket 37 monted on the support plate 25. The opposite end of the pivot arm 35 is pivotally connected to a link 38 which in turn is connected to a link 39 at two spaced points by pins 40 which are fixed to one link 38 and received in elongated slots 41 in the other link 39. A compression spring 42 is also mounted about the links 38, 39 between the pins 40 to hold the links together and to act as a damper against wind when the louvers are in the opened position. Also, during movement of the pin connected links 38, 39, the spring 42 allows the links to move longitudinally of each other with the pins 40 moving in the slots 41 so as to permit a smooth operation of the linkage. After the links 38, 39 come to rest the spring 42 again urges the pins 40 apart so as to hold the links together. The lower link 39 is pivotally connected to a driven link 43 which is fixed to a driven rotatable shaft 44 of a motor 45, for example, a known split phase gear motor. The motor 45 is mounted on the support plate 25 as by a bracket 46 and is actuated in response to a signal from the power input 28 of the light bulb matrix 24. This signal is delivered to the motor 45 in a suitable manner through conventional circuitry and therefore need not be further described.

Referring to FIG. 4, in order to support the sign 10 in a depending fashion, one or more eyelets 47 are secured in the top 19 of the cabinet 11 for reception of suitable hooks of a standard (not shown).

Referring to FIG. 2, in use, the variable message sign 10 is installed in place adjacent a roadway with the face of the sign displaying a permanent message, for example, as to the speed limit being 60 mph. The sign remains in this state for daylight and nighttime use. Should a traffic condition occur which requires a change in the speed limit, a signal is sent to the power input 28 of the light bulb matrix 24, for example, by remote control, to energize a predetermined array of bulbs to form a new speed limit numeral, for example, 15 mph.

Referring to FIGS. 6 and 7, upon energizing of the bulbs, the motor 45 is activated to cause rotation of the shaft 44. This causes the articulated linkage to move into the position shown in phantom in FIG. 7 so that the common bar 33 is moved downwardly and the respective shafts 30 are rotated about The louvers 14 on the shafts 30 thus pivot from vertical positions into horizontal positions to expose the lighted array of bulbs (FIG. 3) with the new temporary message. In order to control the extent of pivoting of the louvers 14, the operation of the motor 25 is controlled, for example, by a microswitch (not shown) mounted in a manner to shut off the motor 45 when the driven link 43 is over center.

Referring to FIG. 3, with the louvers 14 pivoted into the opened position, the temporary message of the light bulb matrix 24 is visible. Upon return to normal traffic conditions, the light bulb matrix 24 receives a signal to deenergize the light bulbs. This also causes a signal to be sent from the matrix 24 to the motor 45 to reactivate the motor 45 to cause a closing of the louvers 14. The motor 45 thus causes the linkage to move in a reverse manner from above to pivot the louvers 14 into substantially vertical planes. Also, as above, the duration of operation of the motor 45 is controlled by a microswitch (not shown) to shut down the motor 45 when the driven link 43 is under center. The sign 10 thus displays the permanent message again (FIG. 2).

Referring to FIGS. 8 and 9, a variable message sign 10 can also be provided with a cabinet 51 having two sets of louvers 52, 53. In this embodiment, the lower set of louvers 52 is constructed, as above, over a variable light bulb matrix 54, as above (FIG. 9), within the cabinet 51 while the upper set of louvers 53 is positioned over a fixed message panel 56 (FIG. 9) within the cabinet 51. The upper set of louvers 53 includes a pair of louvers 55 which have black-on-white or other refiectorized lettering thereon to indicate a permanent message, such as, Speed Limit, when in a closed position. These louvers 55 are mounted in common with the lower set of louvers 52 so as to be pivoted in unison. The mounting of the louvers 55 is identical to the above described louvers 14 and need not be further described. Upon pivoting of the louvers 55 into horizontal disposition, the panel 56 is exposed to view. This panel 56 is constructed, for example, as a silk screen panel with the message lettered thereon by blacking out the remainder of the panel. The lettering of the panel serves to display a permanent message, such as, School Slow which further clarifies the reason for a reduced speed. Further, a light source (not shown) is mounted within the cabinet 51 behind or in front of the panel 56 so as to illuminate the message on the panel 56. Alternatively, a bulb matrix could be used in place of the silk screen, as above.

In addition, the light source associated with the panel 56 or the substituted bulb matrix can be intermittently flashed on and off so as to present a flashing message as a further visual attraction to the change in the displayed message.

Further, the sets of louvers 52, 53 and associated internally disposed messages can be reversed in vertical disposition on the cabinet 51.

It is noted that the variable message sign of the invention can be further modified so that the louvers are disposed in a vertical plane rather than a horizontal plane as described above. The louver assembly for such an arrangement would be similarly re-oriented to effect pivoting of these louvers between the opened and closed positions. Further, since a vertically disposed set of louvers would obliterate the permanent message behind the louvers at a particular angle of the line of sight to the sign, mirrors can be placed on the inside surfaces of the louvers to reflect the permanent message so as to extend the viewing range of the permanent message.

It is also noted that the variable message sign can also be controlled by a radio timer or by manually operated switches at the site.

The invention thus provides a variable message sign which is relatively economical to operate and which easily and rapidly changes from one message to another. By displaying a permanent message on the reflectorized face, the sign has all the advantages of the usual single message signs without the disadvantages of such in view of the capacity of the sign to display a second temporary message. Further, since the lighted temporary message need only be activated during the periods of adverse or changed traffic conditions, the light bulbs of the matrix displaying the temporary message need not be replaced until after relatively long periods of time as the bulbs will not burn out quickly. Also, since the power consumed in energizing the light bulbs over a given period of time is substantially reduced, the attendant cost is also significantly reduced.

It is noted that since the light bulb matrix in contained within the cabinet, the matrix is protected from the elements such that the maintenance cost of such is relatively low. Also, since the permanent message is provided by known black-on-white lettering, the permanent message is not subjected to detrimental fading as in the case where a neon overlay has been used on other traflic signs.

It is also noted that the heat generated by the light bulb matrix in the cabinet serves to melt any ice which may form on the face of the louvers and otherwise prevent actuation of the louvers.

What is claimed is:

1. A highway traffic sign comprising a cabinet;

a first set of louvers, each louver being pivotally mounted in the face of said cabinet, said set of louvers having a first message lettered thereon;

louver assembly means within said cabinet for pivoting said louvers in unison between a closed position displaying said first message and an opened position obliterating said first message;

a light bulb matrix containing a plurality of rows of light bulbs mounted within said cabinet behind said set of louvers for exposure to viewing upon movement of said louvers into said opened position; and

means for energizing a predetermined array of said light bulbs to display a second message for viewing upon said louvers being positioned in said opened position.

2. A highway sign as set forth in claim 1 wherein said energizing means includes a power input operatively connected to said matrix within said cabinet to energize a predetermined pattern of said light bulbs.

3. A highway sign as set forth in claim 2 wherein said louver assembly means is responsive to actuation of said power input to pivot said set of louvers from one of said positions .to the other of said positions.

4. A highway sign as set forth in claim 1 wherein each of said row of light bulbs is disposed behind a respective one of said louvers when said louvers are in closed position.

5. A highway sign as set forth in claim 1 wherein said louvers are disposed in horizontal parallel planes whereby sid louvers are vertically aligned when in said closed position and horizontally disposed when in said opened position.

6. A highway sign as set forth in claim 1 wherein said first message is a permanent reflectorized message and said second message is a temporary message.

7. A highway traffic sign comprising a cabinet;

a first set of louvers, each louver having pivotally mounted in the face of said cabinet, said set of louvers having a first message lettered thereon;

louver assembly means within said cabinet for pivoting said louvers in unison between a closed position displaying said first message and an opened position obliterating said first message, said louver assembly means including a plurality of rotatable shafts, each said louver being fixed on a respective one of said shafts, an articulated linkage connected in common to said shafts at one end thereof for rotating said shafts in unison, and a motor connected to said articulated linkage to actuate said linkage to rotate said shafts;

a light bulb matrix containing a plurality of rows of light bulbs mounted within said cabinet behind said set of louvers for exposure to viewing upon movement of said louvers into said opened position; and

means for energizing a predetermined array of said light bulbs to display a second message for viewing upon said louvers being positioned in said opened position.

8. A highway sign as set forth in claim 7 wherein said cabinet includes a support plate therein, said matrix and said motor being mounted on said support plate and said articulated linkage passing through said support plate.

9. A highway trafiic sign comprising a cabinet;

a first set of louvers, each louver being pivotally mounted in the face of said cabinet, said set of louvers having a first message lettered thereon;

louver assembly means within said cabinet for pivoting said louvers in unison between a closed position displaying said first message and an opened position obliterating said first message;

a light bulb matrix containing a plurality of rows of light bulbs mounted Within said cabinet behind said set of louvers for exposure to viewing upon movement of said louvers into said opened position;

means for energizing a predetermined array of said light bulbs todisplay a second message for viewing upon said louvers being positioned in said opened position;

a second set of louvers pivotally mounted in the face of said cabinet, said second set of louvers having a third message lettered thereon; and

a panel mounted within said cabinet behind said second set of louvers and having a fourth message lettered thereon for viewing upon opening of said second set of louvers.

10. A highway sign as set forth in claim 9 wherein said first and third messages are permanent messages and said second message is a temporary message.

11. A sign comprising:

a cabinet;

a set of louvers mounted in the face of said cabinet,

said louvers having a permanent message lettered thereon; and

a louver assembly connected to said set of louvers to pivot said louvers between a closed vertical position displaying said message and an opened horizontal position obliterating said message, said assembly including a plurality of rotatable shafts mounted within said cabinet, each said louver being fixed to a respective one of said shafts, a common vertically disposed bar connected to each of said shafts to rotate said shafts in common upon vertical movement of said bar, a pivot arm pivotably mounted at an intermediate point in said cabinet, a pivotally mounted link connected at one end to said bar and at the opposite end to said pivot arm to move said bar in a vertical plane, a pair of overlapping interconnected links connected to said opposite end of said pivot arm and a motor connected to said interconnecting links to move said links to pivot said arm and said pivotally mounted link whereby said louvers are pivoted from one of said positions to the other of said positions.

12. A sign as set forth in claim 11 wherein said pair of interconnected links include a pin in each of said links received in an elongated slot in the other of said links and a compression spring disposed about said links between said pins.

- References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,850,717 9/1958 Wiswell 340-84 3,373,402 3/1968 Gervais 34084X 3,400,366 9/1968 Downing 340-84X DONALD J. YUSKO, Primary Examiner M. SLOBASKY, Assistant Examiner US. Cl. X.R.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4801918 *Oct 26, 1987Jan 31, 1989Buckingham Danny WArrow board
US4851832 *Oct 5, 1987Jul 25, 1989Herbert GrafTraffic control device for street vehicles
US5406302 *Apr 8, 1993Apr 11, 1995Dambach-Werke GmbhMatrix-shaped display device
DE3633957C1 *Oct 6, 1986Feb 18, 1988Herbert GrafVorrichtung zur Verkehrsregelung von Strassenfahrzeugen
EP0263303A2 *Sep 3, 1987Apr 13, 1988Herbert GrafTraffic control device for road vehicles
Classifications
U.S. Classification340/907
International ClassificationG09F11/00, G09F11/02, G09F13/28, G09F13/00
Cooperative ClassificationG09F13/28, G09F11/025
European ClassificationG09F11/02B, G09F13/28