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Publication numberUS3596782 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateAug 3, 1971
Filing dateFeb 25, 1969
Priority dateFeb 25, 1969
Publication numberUS 3596782 A, US 3596782A, US-A-3596782, US3596782 A, US3596782A
InventorsWilliam Whitby Morris Sr
Original AssigneeLon H Romanski, William Whitby Morris Sr
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Sorting apparatus
US 3596782 A
Abstract  available in
Images(11)
Previous page
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent Inventor William Whitby Morris, Sr.

Silver Spring, Md. Appl. No. 802,061 Filed Feb. 25, 1969 Patented Aug. 3, 1971 Assignee Lon 1-1. Romamki Detroit, Mich. a part interm SORTING APPARATUS 34 Claims, 36 Drawing Figs.

U.S. Cl 214/11, 209/74, 271/64 Int. Cl 865g 47/46 Field 0! Search 209/73, 74; 271/64; 214/11 Rumbas Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2/1954 Stehlik 214/11 3,343,672 9/1967 DeVries 209/74 Primary Examiner- Richard A. Chamber Attorney- Lon 1-1. Romanski ABSTRACT: A mail-sorting apparatus having an operators console equipped with key-operated switches has a selector section positioned intennediate a mail-propelling device and a diverter section which includes sorted mail receiving trays; operation of any of the key switches causes a particular related channel or chute to be formed in the selector section and a particular related diverter door to be opened in the diverter section so as to present one path which that item of mail must follow to the desired receiving tray; operation of an other of the key switches causes the establishment of another particular related path for the item of mail to follow to another mailreceiving tray.

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INVENTOR.

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Mil/4M m MO/P/P/J,

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SOR'IING APPARATUS BACKGROUND or THE INVENTION .vide sufficient gravitational forces. Other anangements were constructed in a circular pattern thereby, along with other limitations previously mentioned, automatically eliminating any possibility of expanding the capabilities of the sorting machine as well as practically precluding its use in a modular manner.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION According to the invention the article-sorting apparatus comprises a selector section capable of selectively forming a desired channel for the passage therethrough of the article being sorted and a diverter-receiver section having a plurality of passageways one of which communicates with the desired channel for providing a path for the article' being sorted whereby the said article is directed through a door opening communicating with the passageway and into a receiving member.

Accordingly, a general object of this invention is to provide, in an article-sorting arrangement, means whereby a first sorting stage is accomplished by structure intermediate the supply of articles to be sorted and the ultimate receivers of articles sorted, and additional means whereby a second sorting stage is accomplished by structure following the first sorting stage.

Another object of this invention is to provide sorting apparatus of a configuration and mode of operation which may be employed in a modular manner.

Another object of this invention is to provide a sorting apparatus which is not intrinsically dependent upon gravity or moving conveyor systems for the performance of its sorting function.

Other more specific objects and advantages of the invention will become apparent when reference is made to the following detailed description considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings wherein certain details may be omitted from one or more views for purposes of clarity.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS In the drawings: A

FIG. 1 is a top plan view of a sorting apparatus constructed in accordance with the teachings of this invention;

FIG. 2 is a front side elevational view of the apparatus of FIG.-1;

FIG. 3 is an end elevational view taken generally on the plane line 3-3 of FIG. 2 and looking in the direction of the arrows;

FIG. 3-A is a fragmentary rear side elevational view of the apparatus taken generally on the plane of line 3-A, -3-A, of FIG. 3 (with portions thereof removed) and looking in the direction of the arrows;

FIG. 4 is a view similar to FIG. 3 but illustrating a modified form thereof; I I

FIG. 5 is an enlarged side elevational view of a portion of the apparatus as shown in FIG. 2, having portions broken away and in cross section;

FIGS. 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 are simplified views, of reduced size, of the portion shown in FIG. 5 under variously determined operating conditions;

FIG. 11 is a view, similar to FIG. 5, illustrating in elevation additional structure associated therewith;

FIGS. l2, l3 and 14 are typical fragmentary cross-sectional views taken respectively on the planes of lines 12-12, 13-13 and 14-14 of FIG. 11 and looking in the direction of the arrows;

FIG. 15 is a schematic wiring diagram of the control circuitry employed within the apparatus of FIG. 1;

FIG. 16 is a schematic wiring diagramof another form of control circuitry employable in place of that of F IG.'15;

FIG. 17 is a cross-sectional view of a typical key-operated switch assembly employed within the circuitry of FIG. 15;

FIG. 18 is a fragmentary cross-sectional view taken generally on the plane of line 18-18 of FIG. 17 and looking in the direction of the arrows;

FIG. 19 is a cross-sectional view of a typical key-operated switch assembly employed within the circuitry of FIG. 16;

FIG. 20 is an enlarged fragmentary elevational view of a portion of the apparatus as illustrated in FIG. 2;

FIG. 21 is a typical fragmentary cross-sectional view taken generally on the plane of line 21-21 of FIG. 20;

FIG. 22 is a fragmentary top plan view taken generally on the plane of line 22-22 of FIG. 20 and looking in the direction of the arrows;

FIG. 23 is an enlarged cross-sectional view taken generally on the plane of line 23-23 of FIG. 2 and looking in the direction of the arrows;

FIG. 24 is an end elevational view of the structure of FIG. 23, during a particular stage of operation, taken generally on the plane of line 24-24 of FIG. 23 and looking in the direction of the arrows;

FIG. 25 is a top plan view, of reduced size and slightly in perspective, of an element shown in FIG. 23;

FIGS. 26, 27 and 28 are respectively top plan, front elevational and side elevational views of a supply chute assembly shown, in reduced size, in FIG. 2;

FIG. 29 is an enlarged fragmentary cross-sectional view taken generally on the plane of line 29-29 of FIG. 2 and looking in the direction of the arrows;

FIG. 30 is a fragmentary front elevational view of the structure shown in FIG. 29;

FIG. 31 is an enlarged fragmentary cross-sectional view taken generally on the plane of line 31-31 of FIG. 2 and looking in the direction of the arrows;

FIG. 32 is a perspective view of a typical receiving tray arrangement employed as receivers in the manner illustrated in FIGS. 1, 2 and 3;

FIG. 33 is a top plan view of a modified form for a keyboard structure as generally shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 34 is a typical fragmentary cross-sectional view which might be taken generally on the plane of line 34-34 of FIG. 33 and looking in the direction of the arrows; and 7 FIG. 35 is a view similar to FIG. 18 but illustrating a modification thereof.

DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS Referring now in greater detail to the drawings, FIGS. 1, 2 and 3 illustrate the sorting machine 10 as comprising an operator's console station 12 operativcly connected to a selector section 14, which, in turn, is operatively connected to a diverter section 16 which may have, in association therewith, a plurality of receiving trays situated on, for example, tray carriers or support assemblies 18, 20, 22 and 24.

As illustrated generally by FIGS. 1 and 2, the operators station may be comprised of a general console housing 26, including desk-toplike side portions 28 and 30 between which a selecting or controlling keyboard assembly 32 is situated so as to place the keys within comfortable reach of the operator when the operator is seated. Suitable drawers 34 may be placed on either side of an opening 36 provided for the comfort of the operator.

The housing 26 preferably also contains the various electrical control circuitry and other actuating and motivating mechanisms to be subsequently described in detail. Further, as

shown in FIG. 1, a suitable supply chute assembly 38 is situated at the rear of the console 12 so as to deliver, in this case,

articles of mail 40 to the windowlike opening 42 where the operator may read the mailing address thereon and actuate selected keys in accordance therewith. If desired, a code chart 44 may be secured to the front of console housing 26 so as to be of ready aid to the operator in selecting the proper actuating keys comprising the keyboard assembly 32, according to the ZIP" codes or other information appearing on the article of mail to be sorted.

As shown in FIG. 5, the selector section 14 is basically comprised of an outer housing 46 having top and bottom walls 48 and 50 joining rear and forward sidewalls 52 and 54. The left end of the housing 46 provides an inlet for the articles to be sorted while the right end provides, as will become apparent, a plurality of outlets. (A portion of the front wall 54 is broken away in order to more clearly show the plates and slots, to be described, in the rear wall). The front wall 54 has formed therein a plurality of curvilinear slots 56, 58, 60 and 62 respectively slidably receiving therein plates 64, 66, 68 and 70 each of a complementary curvilinear profile. Suitable supporting and actuating means, to be described, are provided enabling the selective actuation of the plates whereby they are made to, one at a time, slide through the respective slots and extend laterally a distance sufficient to be in at least close proximity to the inner surface of the rear wall 52. Similarly, the rear wall 52 has formed therethrough a plurality of curvilinear slots 72, 74, 76 and 78 respectively slidably receiving therein plates 80, 82, 84 and 86 each of a complementary curvilinear profile. Further, suitable supporting and actuatingmeans are provided for enabling selective actuation of the plates 80, 82, 84 and 86 whereby they are moved, one at a time, to slide in the respective slots and extend laterally a distance sufficient to be in at least close proximity to the inner surface of the front wall 54.

Without regard to the specific apparatus for accomplishing the control and actuation of the selector plates, FIGS. 6, 7, 8,

9 and I illustrate, in a somewhat simplified schematic manner, the formation of selector channels by the actuation of one or more of the selector plates. In FIG. 6, a first channel 89 is formed by actuation of selector plates 64 in its corresponding slot 56. As the selector plate 64 is moved inwardly of the housing 46 (with all of the remaining plates remaining in their slots but not extending into the space between the inner surfacesof front and rear walls 54 and 52) a direct channel is formed from the inlet 88 to a first topmost exit 90 thereby enabling the articles of mail to travel a path, designated generally by the arrows, exiting from exit 90 into the topmost passage 92 of the diverter section 16 (FIG.

FIG. 7 illustrates a second condition whereby front selector plate 66 and rear selector plate 80 (the actuated rear plates being shown in hidden lines) are both actuated to form a second direct channel 93 communicating between the inlet 88 and a second upper exit 94 thereby enabling the articles of mail to travel a path, designated generally by the arrows, exiting from exit 94 into the next upper passageway 96 of the diverter section 16.

FIG. 8 illustrates a third condition whereby front selector plate 68 and rear selector plate 82 are both actuated to form a third direct channel 97 communicating between the inlet 88 and a generally medially disposed outlet or exit 98 thereby enabling the articles of mail to travel a path, again designated generally by the arrows, exiting from outlet 98 into the generally medially located passageway 100 of the diverter section 16.

FIG. 9 illustrates a fourth condition whereby front selector plate 70 and rear selector plate 84 are both actuated to form a fourth direct channel 101 communicating between the inlet 88 and a lower outlet or exit 102 thereby enabling the articles of mail to travel a path, again designated generally by the arrows, exiting from outlet 102 into the lower passageway 104 of diverter section 16.

Similarly, FIG. illustrates a fifth condition whereby only rear selector plate 86 is actuated to form a fifth direct channel 105 communicating between the inlet 88 and a lowermost outlet or exit 106 thereby enabling the articles of mail to travel a path, generally designated by the arrows, exiting from outlet 106 into the lowermost passageway 108 of diverter section 16.

In view of the preceding, it should be apparent channel 89 is defined by the lower surface of upper wall 48, the inner surfaces of sidewalls 52, 54 and the upper surface of selector plate 64; channel 93 is defined, at its top, by thelower surface of selector plate 80, at its sides by the inner surfaces of sidewalls 52 and 54 and at its bottom by the upper surface of lower selector plate 66. Channels 97 and 101 are defined similarly to channel 93 while channel is defined similarly to channel 89 of FIG. 6.

Accordingly, depending on which particular channel is formed by the selective actuation of the selector plates, mail will enter the inlet 88 and be directed out of the corresponding exit or outlet and into the particular diverter passageway in communication therewith. It should be apparent that the selector section disclosed provides for five degrees of separation or classification from a single source.

Each bank of selector plates (those located at the front side as well as those located at the rear side) may be provided with a supporting structure as typically shown in FIGS. 11, 12, 13

and 14.

Referring now in greater detail to FIGS. 11-14, the support structure 110 may, typically, be comprised of somewhat longitudinally extending upper and lower anchor members 112, 114 suitably secured to sidewall 54 of selector housing 46. Upper laterallykxtending support members 116, 118 and 120 are suitably secured, as by welding or any other adaptable securing means, at their respective one ends to anchor member 112 and at their respective other ends to a first generally longitudinally extending upper frame member 122, spaced from wall 54. Similarly, lower laterally extending support members 124, 126 and 128 are suitably secured at their respective one ends to the lower anchor member 114 and at their respective other ends to a second generally longitudinally extending lower frame member 130 also spaced from wall 54. The upper and lower frame members 122 and 130, in turn, have connected thereto vertically directed support members 132, 134' and 136 which serve to support the guide and actuating means associated with the respective selector plates.

Each of the selector plates may be provided brackets 138 secured as at the underside thereof at generally opposite ends. Such brackets may then be respectively secured to springbiased solenoid armatures of solenoid assemblies 140, 142, 144, I46, 148, 150, 152 and 154 as typically illustrated in FIG. 12. Each of the solenoid assemblies are preferably mounted to the vertically directed support members as by a bracket 156 also typically shown in FIG. 12.

Further, each of the selector plates is provided with a guide bushing 158 suitably secured to the underside thereof generally between brackets 138. Each of the bushings 158 is adapted to slidably receive therethrough a guide bar 160 which may, in turn, be secured at its opposite ends, as by anchor members 162 and 164 to the vertical support member 134 and wall 54, as typically illustrated in FIG. 14.

Under normal conditions the various selector plates would remain in a position as generally illustrated by FIGS. 12 and 14 which could be achieved by resilient means within the solenoid assemblies (or if desired, additional externally situated spring means). When the suitable solenoid assemblies are energized, as for example solenoids 140 and 142, the corresponding selector plate, in this case plate 64, would be moved inwardly of the housing 46 to a position as illustrated by the phantom line 138' of bracket 138 and the phantom line 64 of plate 64. Preferably, grooves, such as at 166, are formed in the inner surfaces of sidewalls 52 and 54 so as to partly receive therein the leading edge 168 of the selector plate. It is anticipated that the articles of mail will travel through the channels in an edgewise position, much like that depicted at accordingly, the provision of grooves as 166 to receive the ends of the actuated plates will eliminate the possibility of an opening being formed between the edge 168 of the actuated plate and the inner surface of the sidewall in which the edge of an article of mail could become caught.

As has been stated, the supporting structure 110 is typical and would be constructed in a mirror image for use onthe rear wall 52 of the selector housing 46. It, of course, follows that bushings, guide bars and solenoid assemblies corresponding to those associated with structure 110 would also be provided. For ease of further discussion, let it be established that: rear selector plate 80 (FIGS. 5 and 7) is actuated by solenoid assemblies 172 and 174; rear selector plate 82 is actuated by solenoid assemblies 176 and 178; rear selector plate 84 is actuated by solenoid assemblies 180 and 182 and rear selector plate 86 is actuated by solenoid assemblies 184 and 186.

Solenoid assemblies 172, 174, 176, 178, 180, 182, 184 and 186 as well as solenoid assemblies 140, 142, 144, 146, 148, 150, 152 and 154 are schematically illustrated in the wiring diagrams of FIGS. and 16. For simplicity, since cooperating pairs of solenoid assemblies are arranged in parallel, such pairs are enclosed within respective phantom-line boxes each identified with its own reference number.

FIG. 15 schematically illustrates one form of wiring diagram including therein simplified diagrammatic representations of key-operated switch assemblies. One acceptable construction of such a key-operated switch assembly is typically illustrated in FIG. 17. in FIG. 15, a suitable source of electrical energy 204, grounded as at 206 and'in series with a line switch 208, supplies electrical current through a mainsupply conductor 21010 a plurality of branch supply conductors212, 214, 216, 218,220, 222,224 and 226 as well as an electric drive motor 228 by meansof a branch conductor 230 andground 232.

A first plurality of output conductors 234, 236, 238, 240' and 242 are respectively connected at one end to selector plate solenoid actuating means 188, 190, 192,- 194, and 196. A second plurality of output conductors 244, 246, 248, 250, 252, 254, 256 and 258 are respectively connected at one end to solenoids 260, 262, 264, 266, 268, 270, 272, and 274 which in turn may be grounded as at 276 by a common conductor 278. A third plurality'of output conductors 280; 282, 284, 286,288, 290, 292 and 294 are respectively connected at one end to a common conductor 296 which is, in turn, connected to feeder solenoid assembly 298 grounded as at 300.

For ease of description and purposes of clarity, the various key-operated switches, as diagrammatically illustrated at 302, will be referred to by the reference numbering grid of alphabetical letters (A), (B), (C), (D), (E), (F). (G), and (H) for the eight columns and numbers (1), (2), (3), (4), and (5) for the five rows. Further, let it be established that each of the switches, as switch 302 at (1)-A, is provided with four separated electrical contacts respectively connected to one end of branch conductors 304'; 306, 308"and 310. In, the switches of (1)-(A) through'(1)(l-l) each of the respective branch conductors 304 would be connected to output conductor 234; in the switches (2)(A) through (2)-(H) each of the respective branch conductors 304 would be connected to output conductors'236; in the switches of (3)(A) through (3)-'-(l-l) each of the respective branch conductors 304 would be connected to output conductor 238; in the switches of (4)-(A) through (4)(l-l) each of the branch conductors 304 would be connected to output conductor 240 and in the switches-of (5)-(A) through (5)-(H) each of the branch conductors 304 would beconnected to output conductor 242.

Similarly, in the (A)'column of switchesz each of the respective branehconductors 306 would be connected to the branch supply conductor 212; each of the respective branch conductors 308 are connected to branch output conductor 244; and each of the respective branch conductors 310 are connected to the branch'output conductor 280.

in the (B)column of switches: each of the respective conductors 306 are connected to branch supply conductor 214; each of" the respective conductors 308 are connected to branch output conductor 246;'and each of the respective conductors 310 are connected to the branch output conductor 282.

In the (C) column of switches: each of the respective conductors 306 are connected to branch supply conductor 216; each of the respective conductors 308 are connected to branch output conductor 248; and each of the respective conductors 310 are connected to branch output conductor 284.

in the (D) column of switches: each of the respective conductors 306 are connected to branch supply conductor 218; each of the respective conductors 308 are connected to branch output conductor 250; and each of the respective conductors 310. are connected to branch output conductor 286.

In the (E) column of switches: each of the respective conductors 306 are connected to branch supply conductor 220; each of the respective conductors 308 are connected to branch output conductor 252; and each of the respective conductors 310 are connected to branch output conductor 288.

in the (F) column of switches: each of the respective conductors 306 are connected to branch supply conductor 222; each of the respective conductors 308 are connected to branch output conductor 254; and each of the respective conductors 310 are connected to branch output conductor 290.

In the (G) column of switches: each of the respective conductors 306 are connected to branch supply conductor 224; each of the respective conductors 308 are connected to branch output conductor 256; and each of the respective conductors 310 are connected to branch output conductor 292.

in the (H) column of switches: each of the respective conductors 306 are connected to branch supply conductor 226; each of the respective conductors 308 are connected to branch output conductor 258; and each of the respective conductors 310 are connected to branch output conductor 294.

All of the switches in rows (1) through ((5) are normally open so that at such time no current flow is experienced from any of the branch supply conductors 306 to the respective branch output conductors 304, 308 and 310; However, when ever anyone of the key-actuated switches 302, as shown at (1)-(A), is depressed and thereby closed the circuits between conductors 306 to 304, conductors 306 to 308, and conductors 306 to 310 are completed.

Accordingly, with master switch 208 closed, it can be seen that the closure of switch 302 as at, for example, (1 )-(B) will cause current flow from conductor 210, through conductor 214, branch conductor 306, to each of branch conductors 304, 308 and 310. Branch conductor 304 in turn supplies current flow through output conductor 234 to actuating solenoid means 188; branch conductor 308 supplies current flow through output conductor 246 to solenoid assembly 262; branch conductor 310 supplies current flow through output conductor 282 and common conductor 296 to the feeder solenoid assembly 298.

in view of the preceding it should be apparent that the switch assemblies 302 are so arranged as to result, whenever closed, in the energization of one particular combination of remotely situated devices. For example, the closure of any of the switches 302 always results in the energization of feeder solenoid assembly 298. Further, closure of any of the switches in any one column always results in the energization of feeder solenoid assembly 298. Further, closure of any of the switches in any one column always results in the energization of the same solenoid assembly corresponding to that column; for example, in column A, the corresponding solenoid assembly would be 260. Additionally, the closure of any of the switches in any one row always results in the energization of the same selector plate solenoid actuating means;'for example, in row (5) the closure of any switch always causes energization of solenoid means 196.

FIG. 17 illustrates a typical switch assembly 302 as being comprised of a depressible plungerlike key member 211 having a stern 213 guided within an aperture 215 of a stationary key guide plate 217 and provided with a key head portion 219. A lower stationary abutment plate 221 serves to contain one end of a compression spring 223 which, by means of a spring cup 225 secured to stem 213 by opposed snap rings 227 and 229, biases the key member 211 upwardly to the position shown. A switch member 231, which may beof a washerlike configuration, is carried by and secured to stem 213 as by opposed snap rings 227 and 229, biases the key member 211 upwardly to the position shown. A switch member 231, which may be of a washerlike configuration, is carried by and secured to stem as by spaced opposed snap rings 233 and 235. An additional snap ring 237 may be provided at the upper portion of stem 213 in order to serve as an abutment against plate 217 when urged thercagainst by the spring 223.

An intermediate support member 239, having formed therein an aperture 241- for the reception therethrough of stem 213, carries a plurality of electrical contacts 243, 245, 247 and 249 which are respectively connected to one end of conductors 304, 306, 308 and 310 (also see FIG. 16). Accordingly, any time key member 211 is sufficiently depressed, the switch member 231 bridges contacts 243, 245, 247 and 249 thereby completing the circuits between the branch supply conductor 306 and branch output conductors 304, 308 and 310.

FIG. 16 illustrates another schematic wiring diagram suitable for practicing'the invention. All elements which are like or similar to those of FIG. 15 are identified with like reference numbers. 1

in FIG. 16, a wiring matrix 312 is illustrated as being comprised of conductors 244, 246, 248, 250, 252, 254, 256 and 258 which may be, as shown, arranged to be respectively in line with alphabetical grid references (A), (B). (C), (D), (E), (F) (G) and (H), while vertically extending conductors 234, 236,238, 240 and 242 may be arranged as to be respectively in line with grid reference numbers l), (2), (3), (4) and (5).

A conductor 314 connected as at 316 to a resistor 318 and terminating at its other end at 320 is looped in a pattern so as to pass over each of the points which appears to be the intersection between the'horizontal conductors 244 through 258 and vertical conductors 234 through242. Also, another conductor 322 connected at one end to a terminal 324, of a suita-' ble source 326 of electrical energy, and terminating at its other end at 328, is also looped in a pattern similar to that of conductor 314 so as to also pass over such apparent" points of intersection. The term "apparent" is employed only because, in H6. 16, there appears to be such intersections; however, as stated, this is a wiring matrix and as such it, as well known in the art, should be viewedas being comprised of various layers or planes of conductors which, superimposed upon each other, present a plan view as depicted in FIG. 16.

For purposes of discussion, let it be assumed that: a first lowermost plane contains all of. conductor 314 as well as its terminal point 320; a second plane, slightly above the first plane, contains all of the individual horizontal conductors 244, 246, 248, 250, 252, 254, 256 and 258; a third plane, slightly above the second plane, contains all of the individual vertical conductors 234, 236, 238, 240 and 242; and that a fourth plane, slightly above the third plane, contains all of conductor 322 including its terminal end 328.

All of the above conductors are normally open with respect to each other; however, the closure of key-actuated switch (a typical key-actuated switch assembly 330 being illustrated in FIG. 19) placed at each of the "apparent" points of intersection results in the completion of certain selected circuits. For example, closure of a switch situated at the intersection of (1)-(A) results in the completion of a circuit between supply conductor 322 and conductors 314, 244 and 234; similarly, closure of a switch situated at (2)(A) results in the completion of a circuit between supply conductor 322 and conductors 314, 328 and 236; while closure of a switch situated at, for example, for example, (3)-(F) results in the completion of a circuit between'supply conductor 322 and conductors 314,

254 and 238.

FIG. 19 illustrates the switch assembly 330 as being com prises of a plurality of generally resilient elongated striplike conductors 332, 334, 336 and 338 which are contained near one end between cooperating electrically insulating support members 340, 342, 344, 346 and 348 which may be arranged in generally interleaved relationship and retained by a suitable fastener such as a rivet 350. Conductor 322 has secured thereto, in conductive relationship, a contact 352; conductor 334 has contacts 354 and 356 secured thereto on opposite sides thereof; similarly, conductor 336 carries opposed contacts 358 and 360; while lower conductor 338 carries a contact 362 on the upper side thereof;

A stationary key guide member 364 slidably receives the stem 366 of a key member 368 through an aperture 370 formed therethrough. A spring 372 situated about stem 366 and contained between plate 364 and key head portion 374 normally urges key member 368 upwardly to the position shown as determined by a snap ring abutment 376 carried by stem 366.

The other ends of conductors 332, 334, 336 and 338 may be respectively provided with tablike portions 378, 380,382 and 384 for effectively engaging selected conductors of FIG. 16. In accordance with the preceding discussion relating to the assumed planar relationships of the conductors 314 and 322 as well as the horizontal conductors 244 and 258 and the vertically disposed conductors 234, 236, 238, 240 and 242, such conductors would be connected to switch conductor members 332, 334, 336 and 338 in the following manner.

Matrix conductor 332 would be electrically connected, as by tab 378, to the upper switch conductor 332, while matrix conductor 314 wouldbe electrically connected, as by tab 384, to the lowermost switch conductor 338. Since FIG. 19 is intended as a typical arrangement, the abbreviation, HORlZ., is employed to denote any of the horizontally disposed matrix conductors 244, 246, 248, 250, 252, 254, 256 and 258, one of which, depending on the location of the switch assembly within the matrix network, would be connected-as by tab 382 to switch conductor 336. Similarly, the abbreviation, VERT.', is employed to denote any of the vertically disposed matrix conductors 234, 236, 238, 240 and 242, one of which, depending on the location of the switch assembly within the matrix network, would be connected as by tab 380, to switch conductor 334. a

Accordingly, as key member 368 is depressed, switch conductors 332, 334 and 336 are sequentially caused to deflect some degree by virtue of the sequential engagement as between first, contacts 352 and 354, then contacts 356 and 358 and finally contacts 360 and 262. In the same sequential manner, circuits are completed first as between matrix conductor 322 and one of the vertical conductors (VERT.), then as between matrix conductor 322 and one of the horizontal conductors (HORlZ.), and finally between matrix conductor 322 and matrix conductor 314. At this time all of the circuits at that "apparent" point of intersection at which the switch is closed, will be completed causing energization of related components.

Referring again in greater detail to FIG. 16 it can be seen that conductor 234 is provided with a resistor 386, a capacitor 388 and a triac 390 serially arranged with respect to each other and a common terminal 392 of solenoid assemblies 140, 142 forming the solenoid means 188 (as described with reference to FlG. 15). A second resistor 394 is arranged in parallel with the capacitor 388 and has one end connected to the gate electrode 396 of triac 390. A conductor 398 connectcd at one end at a point between the capacitor 388 and the cathode electrode of triac 390 is electrically connected at its other end to a common conductor 400 leading from terminal 402 of source 326 to ground as at 404. The anode elec- Similarly, horizontal conductor is provided with a resistor 386', a capacitor 388' and a triac 390' serially arranged with respect to each other and a terminal of the solenoid assembly 260. A second resistor 394' is arranged in parallel with capacitor 388 and has one end connected to the gate electrode 386' of triac 390' A conductor 398' connected at one end at a point between the capacitor 388 and the cathode electrode of triac 390' is electrically connected at its other end to ground. The anode electrode of triac 390 is, as previously stated, connected to solenoid assembly 260. That portion generally comprised of capacitor 388, resistor 394, triac 390and conductor 398'is shown included within a phantom-line box identified as 406 Other corresponding arrangements are illustrated only in phantom line and respectively identified as 406'a, 406'b, 406'c, 406'd, 406'e, 406'f and 406'g. Also, resistors corresponding to resistor 386' are respectively identified as 386a, 386b, 386's, 386'd, 386'e, 386'f and 386'g.

At the upper portion of FIG. 16, it can be seen that triac 390" has its anode connected to feeder solenoid 298 and its cathode connected to ground as by conductor 408. The gate electrode 396" of triac 390" is connected as by conductor 410 to the other tenninal of resistor 318 which is in series with conductor 314. A capacitor 388" is provided across conductors 410 and 408 so as to have one end at a point between resistor 318 and gate electrode 396 Finally, each of the solenoid assemblies 298, 260, 262, 264, 266, 268, 270, 272, and 274 as well as solenoid means 188, 190, 198, 192, 200, 202, 194 and 196 may be connected as by a common conductor 412 to the switched conductor 414 leading from source 204.

If a switch assembly 330, as illustrated in FIG. 19, situated at (1)(A) (or the apparent intersection of vertical conductor 234 and horizontal conductor 244) were closed, the following sequence of events would occur. As switch contacts 352 and 354 were closed, voltage would be applied through vertical conductor 234, resistor 386, resistor 394 to gate 396 of triac 390 as well as charge the capacitor 388. The charging time on capacitor 388 is relatively low because the resistance value of resistor 386 is less than that of resistor 394. Similarly, as switch contacts 356 and 358 close voltage would be applied through horizontal conductor 244, resistor 386 resistor 394 to gate 396' of triac 390' as well as charge capacitor 388'. The charging time on capacitor 388' is also preferably relatively low by having the resistance value of resistor 386' less than that of resistor 394'. Of course, as switch contacts 360 and 362 are finally closed, voltage is applied to conductor 314, resistor 318, and, by conductor 410, applied to gate 396" of triac 390" as well as charging capacitor 388" in parallel therewith.

Each of the arrangements identified as 406, 406a, 406b, 406e, 406d, 406', 406'a, 406'b, 406c, 406d, 406'e406' f and 406g is a time-delay network and such .are intended to present a time-delay after the switch key 368 is released. For example, the circuit described generally by source 326, conductor 322, conductor 234, resistor 386, resistor 394, conductor 398, conductor 400, and terminal 402 serves as a trigger supply by which the triac 390 is biased into conduction. Once such conduction is achieved source 204 energizes the solenoid means 188 by having the circuit through triac 390 completed to ground 404 by conductors 398 and 400. Energization of solenoid means 188 (solenoid assemblies 140 and 142) causes actuation of the related selector plate 64, as described with reference to FIGS. 11, 12, 14.and 15.

However, when the switch key 368 is released, the charged capacitor 388 continues to discharge through resistor 394 thereby, for some period of time, maintaining the triac 390 conductive 'so as to permit the continued energization of solenoid means 188. Once capacitor 388 is discharged, triac 390 becomes nonconductive and solenoid means 188 became deenergized causing the associated selector plate 64 to be moved out to its normal position as shown in FIGS. 12 and 14.

The energization and deenergization of solenoid means 190, 192, 200, 194 and 196 as well as solenoid assemblies 260, 262,

264, 266, 268, 270, 272 and 274 is accomplished in the same manner as described with reference to solenoid means 188.

However, the arrangement generally depicted by resistor 318, capacitor 388, gate 396" and triac 390 serves as a time delay network which delays the turn-on time of the triac 296f and associated feeder solenoid 298. This, in effect, causes the feeder solenoid 298 to become energized. slightly after the energization of the selected solenoid means, associated with the vertical conductors, and the solenoid assemblies, associated with the horizontal conductors. The benefit of such an arrangement will become apparent as this description progresses.

Referring again to FIGS. 2 and 3-A, it can be seen that the front side of the diverter section 16 is provided with a first column of doors 416, 418, 420, 422 and 424 each of which is secured to a vertically extending shaft 496 for pivotal rotation therewith. A second column of doors 426, 430, 434, 438 and 442, spaced from the said first column, are also each secured to the second vertically extending shaft 498 for pivotal rotation therewith. Similarly, a third column comprised of doors I 428, 432, 436, 440 and 444 are each secured to a third vertically directed shaft 500 for pivotal rotation therewith, while a fourth shaft 502 has secured thereto, for pivotal rotation therewith, a column comprised of doors 446, 448, 450, 452, and 454.

FIG. 3-A illustrates four other columns of doors with each of the doors being carried for pivotal rotation by one of the corresponding four vertically directed shafts 510, 508, 506 and 504. As shown: doors 456, 458, 460, 462 and 464 are associated with shaft 510; doors 466, 470, 474, 478, 482 are carried by shaft 508; doors 468, 472, 476, 480 and 484 are carried by shaft 506; while shaft 504 is connected to doors 486, 488, 490, 492 and 494. As will become obvious, depending on which channel is formed within selector section 14 and which particular column of doors is opened will determine the receiver tray into which the item of mail will be deposited.

One acceptable form of door arrangement is illustrated in greater detail by FIGS. 20, 21 and 22 wherein an enlarged fragmentary portion of diverter section 16 is shown having formed therein a column comprised of a plurality of door openings 512 each respectively generally receiving therein one of the doors 416, 418, 420, 422, and 424. Each of the doors may be formed, as typically illustrated in FIG. 21, of an outer panel portion 514 and an inner somewhat contoured panel portion 516. A panel support block 518, which, for example, may be secured to the rear edge of the inner panel portion 516 and the inner surface of the outer panel portion 514 as by welding or brazing, is suitably secured to the cooperating shaft 496, for rotation therewith, as by any suitable keying means well known in the art. As illustrated, shaft 496 may be journaled through the front wall 520 of diverter 16 so as to have an upper extending portion 521 to which is secured a lever arm linkage 522. Arm 522 may be provided with a slot so as to receive therein one end of an armature shaft 524 of solenoid assembly 260. Accordingly, any time that such solenoid assembly 260 is energized (also see FIGS. 15 and 16), shaft 496 is rotated clockwise (as viewed in FIG. 22) causing all of the doors connected thereto to assume a position corresponding to that of door 416 as illustrated in phantom line at 416' Then this would permit an article of mail passing from either of the five channels of the selector section 14 and into either of the five corresponding diverter passageways 92, 96, 100, 104 and 108 to exit through the door opening 512 and into the related tray such as tray 526. As illustrated in FIG. 20,.the lower axial end of each of the blocks 518 may provide a thrust bearing surface engageable with the lower edge of the door openings 512 shown as being coplanar with the upper surfaces of transverse members 528, 530, 532, 534 and 536 defining the lower surfaces or confines of passageways 92, 96, 100, 104, and 108, respectively.

In like manner, shafts 498, 500 and 502 are journaled with front wall 520 while shafts 504, 506, 508 and 510 are similarly journaled in rear wall 538 of diverter section 16. Further, each sembly 266, shaft 504 operatively connected to solenoid assembly 268, and shafts 506, 508, 510 respectively operatively connected to solenoid assemblies 270, 272, and 274.

In view of the preceding and referring to FIGS. 5, 6, l1, l and 17, it can be seen that if a switch assembly 302 at location (A)-(1) of FIG. were closed, solenoid 260 would be energized, through conductor 244, rotating shaft 496 and opening doors 416, 418, 420, 422 and 424; simultaneously, solenoid means 188, comprised of solenoids 140 and 142, would be energized, through conductor 234 thereby moving selector plate 64 inwardly (as shown in FIGS. 11 and 12) so as to define the contoured channel or chute 89 as shown in FIG. 6.

Accordingly, an article of mail caused to travel through chute 89 would exit from outlet 90 and enter the corresponding passageway 92 of diverter section 16 and progress therealong until the article of mail struck the opened door 416' (FIG. 21) and progressed outwardly through the door opening 512 into the corresponding tray or rece ver 526.

If, for example, a switch assembly 302 at location (E)-(2) were closed, solenoid means 190, comprised of solenoid assemblies 144 and 146, and solenoid means 198; in parallel with'solenoid means 190 and comprised of solenoid assemblies 172 and 174, would be energized through conductor 236 while door solenoid 268 would be energized through conductor 252. Solenoid 268 would rotate corresponding door shaft 504 counterclockwise (FIG. 21) causing all of the doors carried thereby'to become opened. Simultaneously, solenoid assemblies 144 and 146 would move forwardly located selector plate 66 inwardly of the selector housing 46 while solenoid assemblies 172 and 174 would move the rearwardly located selector plate (FIG. 5) also inwardly of the selector housing 46 to form the channel or chute 93 (FIG. 7).

, Accordingly, an article of mail caused to travel through chute 93 would exit from outlet 94 and pass into diverter section passageway 96. The article of mail would continue its travel through passageway until striking opened door 486 (FIGS. 3-A and 21) at which point it would pass through the corresponding door opening 512 and into the related tray or receiver.

In view of the fact of the preceding it should be apparent that in the particular embodiment of the invention disclosed, it is possible to select and direct an article of mail to any of forty different receivers.

Thus, far, the selector section 14, diverter section 16 and related control circuitry, as well as their related and interrelated operations, have been disclosed and described. The only portions remaining are those relating to the selection and propulsion of the article of mail.

Referring now to FIG. 23, a fragmentary cross-sectional view taken in generally on the plane of line 23-23 of FIG. 2, looking in the direction of the arrows, a letter feeder mechanism 528 is illustrated as comprising a body 530 having a passageway 532 formed therethrough with radial bearing assemblies 534 and 536 located at opposite ends thereof so as to have the respective inner and outer bearing races engaged with a rotatable shaft 538 and the body 530. A base 540 situated below body 530 provides a journal support for shaft 538 as by another radial bearing assembly 542. Situated generally between and engaging body 530 and base 540 is a thrust bearing assembly 544. Shaft 538 is precluded from axial motion while being free to experience rotative motion by any suitable means well known in the art.

One end 546 of body 530 is provided with guideways 548 and 550 which respectively slidably receive therein guide pins or members 552 and 554 carried by a bightlike clevis portion 556. Compression springs 558 and 560 continually urge clevis or yoke portion 556 radially outwardly, with respect to the centerline of shaft 538, so as to maintain engagement between a wheel 562, pivotally secured to yoke 556 by an axle pin 564, and surface 568 of a generally horizontally disposed track member 570. The other end of body 530 may have suitably secured thereto a counterweight 572 in order to offset the unbalanced weight of the yoke 556 and related structure supporting it as well as supported thereby.

The upper side of body 530 has secured thereto a clutch plate 574 which, in turn, contains a plurality of generally circumferentially spaced friction members 576 (which may be cork pellets). A drive shaft plate 578, having an aperture formed therethrough of a configuration drivingly engageable with the flatted portions 580 of the drive shaft 538, is situated above the clutch plate 574 and urged into frictional engagement with friction members 575 by a compression spring 582. The springmay be axially contained between an axially adjustable washerlike member 584 and a thrust bearing assembly 586 carried by the drive plate 578. The upper end of drive shaft 538 may have formed a threaded portion 588 for engagement by an adjustable lock nut 590.

A resilient finger 592 secured at one end 594 to yoke 556 has at its other end a pad 596 which is adapted to contact forwardmost article of mail 40 and start such piece of mail into its journey through the selector assembly 14, and, subsequently, the diverter section 16.

The feeder mechanism 528, is, in FIG. 23, illustrated in one of the positions it assumes during the mail feeding operation. That is, when the feeder mechanism 528 is in an unactuated or normal position, end 546 will be disposed generally to the right, of the centerline of shaft 538 or, in other words, generally diametrically opposed to the position illustrated with wheel 562 still in engagement with surface 568 of track member 570 which may be supported by any suitable structural portion 592 of the housing 26.

FIG. 24, a view taken generally on the plane of line 23-23 and looking in the direction of the arrows, illustrates the normal unactuated position of body 530, rotated from the position shown in FIG. 23 and retained in such position by a latch or catch device 600. (Guide pins 552, 554, as well as yoke 556 and related springs are not shown in FIG. 24 for purposes of clarity.)

Catch member 600 is illustrated as being comprised of a main body portion 602 pivotally secured to base 540 as by a pin 604 and having oppositely disposed upwardly directed abutment arms 606 and 608. A linkage 610 pivotally secured to latch 600 as at 612, is operatively connected at its other end to a solenoid assembly 298 which may include suitable means, such as internally disposed resilient means, for normally maintaining the catch 600 in the position illustrated. Whenever solenoid assembly 298 (also see FIGS. 15 and 16) is energized, linkage 610 is moved downwardly causing latch 600 to rotate counterclockwise about pivot 604 thereby assuming a position as illustrated in phantom line at 600.

FIG. 25, generally a plan view of track 570, shown' in slight perspective, illustrates the track 570 as being comprised of a body portion 614 having an inner track surface 568 formed therein in a manner defining a first generally arcuate section 616 and a second straight track section 618 blended at its ends with arcuate section 616. The centerline 620 represents the axis of rotation of shaft 538 of FIG. 23.

Whenever motor 228 is energized (FIGS. 15 and 16) it drives, through a suitable gear box 622, shaft 538 so as to rotate clockwise, as viewed by the centerline 620 of FIG. 25. However, until such time as solenoid 298 is energized body 530 is locked in its "home" position by the upstanding abutment am 606 of latch as shown in FIG. 24. During such time that body 530 is latched as in FIG. 24, shaft 538 continues to rotate and by means of flatted portions 580 drivingly rotate therewith drive shaft plate 578. As a consequence of body 530 being latched, relative sliding motion is frictionally ex perienced between the drive shaft plate 578 and friction members 576 of clutch assembly 574. At this time, of course, wheel 562 is held against the arcuate track section 616 by the force of springs 558 and 560.

When solenoid assembly 298 is energized, latch 600 is rotated to the position shown at 600' thereby placing abutment arms 606 and 608 in the positions respectively shown by 606' and 608' (FIG. 24). Such action enables the depending portion 624 of body 530 to pass over the top of abutment arm 606' thereby permitting drive shaft 538 and .drive shaft plate 578 to rotate body 530 clockwise about its centerline 620 (FIG. 25). Such rotation of body 530 causes roller or wheel 562 to follow the curvature of track surface 568..As wheel 562 approaches the straight section 618, the resilient finger 592 engages the forwardmost article of mail 40 and continued movement of wheel 562 along the straight section 618 results in the finger or arm 592 frictionally engaging and moving the article of mail 40 so as to send it into the selector section 14, in a manner to be described.

As body 530 completes its rotation and approaches its home" position, the actuated latch 600' presents abutment arm 608' in the path of movement of depending portion 624. Accordingly, body 530 will continue its rotation until such time as leading surface 626 abuts against arm 608 as respectively illustrated in phantom line at 626' and 608' at which point rotation is arrested. As soon as solenoid assembly 298 is deenergized, linkage 610, in association withsuitable resilient means, rotates the latch 600 to the position shown in solid line thereby lowering abutment arm 608 and enabling drive shaft 538 to rotate body 530 to a point where leading surface 626 of depending portion 624 abuts against the abutment arm 606. The feeder assembly 528 is now in position for actuation into another cycle.

FIGS. 26, 27 and 28 respectively illustrate the plan, side elevation and front elevation of an acceptable form of chute assembly 38. As shown, the chute assembly 38 may be comprised'ot' a lower basemember 628 having left and right side panels 630, 632 suitably secured thereto and to a rear end panel 634. Front-mounted upwardly extending supports 636, 638, suitably secured to base 628 and side panels, are each provided with slotted portions 640 for the reception therein of a transparent member 642 which is held so as to define an opening vertically between the lower edge 644 of the window 642 and the top of the lower plate or base 628 and horizontally between supports 636 and 638. As can be seen in both FIGS. 26 and 28, side panel 632 is provided with a vertically directed opening 646 in order to afi'ord free passage therethrough of items of mail as such items are ejected from the chute assembly 38and into the selector section 16. A weighted movable slide plate 648,having opposed L-shaped slide-guides 650and 652 secured thereto, is employed for maintaining the items of mail in an upright position as well as to gravitationally move the stacked mail downwardly toward the window member 642. The chute assembly 38 may be secured at'itsforward end within the housing 26 as by suitable structural members 643 and 645.

FIG. 29, a fragmentary cross-sectional view taken generally on the plane of line 29-29 of FIG. 2 and looking in the direction of the arrows, illustrates the relationship between the supply chute 38 and the primary propelling or drive wheels 654 and 656 situated respectively in opposite walls 658 and 660 .of a housing section 662 carried within the covering or housing 26."I-Iousing section-662 is also provided with upper and lower walls 664 and 666 which combine, with the sidewalls 65,8 and 660, to define a passageway 668 commu nicating-generally between the side formed outlet 646 of chute asembly 38andthe inlet 88 of selector section 14.

An opening 670'formed in wall 660 receives therein drive roller-or wheel 656-which is secured to shaft 672'for rotation thereby; a second enlarged opening 676 formed in wall 658 accommodates the other drive roller or wheel 654, secured to a shaft 678 for rotation thereby, and a second roller 680 which is secured to a shaft 682 for rotation thereby. Shafts 672, 678 and 682 are, in turn, respectively connected as by suitable motion-transmitting means 684,686 and 688 to a gear box 622 (FIGS. and 23).

Drive rollers 654 and 656 are rotated, in directions indicated by the arrows, at a relatively fast speed. Such rotation is continuous whenever, for example, the switch 208 of either FIGS. 15 or 16 is closed. The same applies to retard roller 680; however, roller 680 is preferably rotated at a speed relatively slow with respect to the speed of rotation of rollers 654 and 656 and in a direction opposite to that of roller 654.

Whenever feeder finger 592, 596 (FIG. 23) is actuated and in its course of travel moves the forwardmost item of mail 40 to the right (as viewed in FIG. 29) out through the opening 646, the leading edge of the item of mail is caught between the fast rollers 654 and 656 (as generally illustrated in phantom line at 40' and driven at a high velocity into the inlet 88 of juxtaposed selector section 14 and through the selectively formed channel or chute therein into the corresponding passageway of diverter section 16 (FIGS. 5 through 11).

In certain rare instances the item of mail directly behind the forwardmost item of mail may tend to be drawn to the right as the feeder finger moves the forwardly located article of mail into the rollers 654 and 656. The retard roller 680 is provided in order to avoid the possibility of having two items of mail, one of which may consequently be misdirected, simultaneously pass between rollers 654 and 656. As can be seen in FIG. 29, as the second article of mail 40" starts to move to the right simultaneously with the movement of the leading item of mail, it is caused to engage, as shown in phantom line, the slower rotating retard roller 680 which prevents its further movement. This, in turn, causes the trailing end of item 40" to remain out of normal position and clearly visible to the operator who, upon noticing it, may then merely reach up and repositionthe item, if necessary, in order to read the complete address.

FIGS. 2, 3-A and 31 illustrate an arrangement of secondary driving or propelling rollers comprised of a first bank of a plurality of rollers 690 situated in the front wall of diverter section 16and secured to a common drive shaft 692 for rotation thereby in a direction indicated by arrow 694; a second bank of a plurality of rollers 696 situated in the rear wall of diverter section 16 and secured to a common drive shaft 698 for rotation thereby in a direction indicated by arrow 700. Typically, cutout portions 702 are formed in each of the sidewalls in a manner to accept the respective rollers so as to have a pair of oppositely disposed rollers in each of the passageways formed in diverter section 16. Drive shafts 692 and 698 are operatively connected as by suitable motion transmitting means 704 (FIGS. 15, 16) to the motor 228 to be driven thereby.

The purpose of the secondary rollers 690 and 696 is to accept the letters or items of mail entering the passageways of diverter section 16 and to propel them, as indicate by arrow 706, with a force sufficient to assure the article of mail passing through whatever diverter or deflector door may be opened.

Although the specific structure is not shown, it is contemplated that the various rollers 690, 696 as well as rollers 654, 656 would be situated as to be capable of exhibiting variable forcesagainst the mail passing therebetween. In such arrangements the various rollers would be adjusted so as to exhibit the optimum force or pressure against the articles of mail in order to assure proper propulsion thereof without any accompanying undue damage.

The various mail receiving trays generally shown in FIGS. 1, 2, 3 and 4 may be comprised as typically illustrated in FIG. 32. As shown, the typical tray assembly 526 may be comprised of an open-ended panlike structure having a base 714 with upwardly directed sidewalls 710, 712 formed therefrom each of which is provided with a laterally directed flange 716. An end plate 718 suitably secured to walls 710, 712 may be employed to close the outer end of the tray assembly 526. A slidable plate 720 having secured thereto at opposite ends thereof L- shaped guide members 722, 724, is placed ahead of the deflector door opening 512 so that when mail passes out of the opening 512 it will generally abut against plate 720 and remain there in an upright position. As the volume of mail so positioned increases and because of the sloping nature of tr'ay 526, the plate 720 is caused to slowly slide downwardly following the flanges 716 and sidewalls 710 and 712. Arrow 726 merely graphically illustrates the passage of mail out of one of the openings 512. It should, of course, be apparent that as the tray 526 is filled it may be removed from the gussetlike supports and replaced by an empty tray.

It is also contemplated, as shown in FIG. 4, that certain of the door openings 512 may be in position with suitable conveyor means as somewhat graphically illustrated at 730, 732, 734, 736 and 738 instead of trays. Of course, suitable side guides and related structure would be provided if such conveyor means were employed.

In view of the preceding it should be apparent that the invention as herein disclosed provides a sorting apparatus which is extremely simple to construct and is capable of performing its sorting function in a relatively limited floor space. Further, the invention may be employed in a modular manner; for example, as illustrated generally by the modification of FIG. 4, it is possible to have a first sorting operation performed and the mail delivered as by conveyors 730, 732, 734, 736 and 738 to other respective consoles l2 and selectors 14 from where second sorting operations would be performed.

Other embodiments and modifications of the invention are, of course, possible. For example, the circuitry of FIGS. 15 and 16 may be such as to preclude the possibility of having more than one key simultaneously actuating the related apparatus. In the circuitry of either FIG. 15 or 16, this can easily be accomplished by having the source of electrical energy 204 of the current limiting type. This, of course, can be achieved by either electronic regulation or by having the source of a saturable core type as is well known in the art. Accordingly, with an arrangement of this type, the output current of source 204 would be limited to that value sufficient to energize feeder solenoid 298, motor means 228 and only one of the door sole noids'260, 262, 264, 266, 268, 270, 272 and 274 along with only such solenoid means as are necessary to actuate and determine one of the channels in the selector 14. This can be further assured by tailoring the current requirements of the feeder solenoid 298.

Another way in which this could be achieved is to provide circuitry, for the key-operated switches, similar to that as employed in electrically operated typewriters so that power is interrupted to other keys whenever any one of the keys is depressed. Such circuitry is, of course, well known in the art and need not be described in detail herein.

Still other means are available for rendering the remaining keys inoperative such as the electromechanical locking arrangement generally disclosed in FIGS. 33 and 34 wherein a reciprocably slidable pressure plate 740 situated within suitable guide bars, one of which is shown at 742, is provided with a plurality of elongated holes 744 located as to have one end thereof in line with the guide holes 215 of the key-guide plate 217. The right ends of the elongated holes are each provided with a pad 746, which may be relatively resilient, for engaging the step portions 213 of the key switches 211 upon any one of the key switches being depressed as described with reference to FIGS. 17 and 18. That is, with suitable circuitry, when one of the key switches 302 is depressed a circuit is closed leading to solenoid assembly 748 thereby energizing the solenoid 748 which moves the pressure plate 740 to the left causing the pads 746 to engage the respective stems 213 in order to lock them against vertical movement. One possible circuit for achieving this would include a modification of the switch assembly 302, as illustrated by FIG. 35 wherein, typically, an additional conductor 750 could be provided at contact terminal 247 so as to lead to solenoid assembly 748. A suitable time delay mechanism or circuit, many of which are well known in the art, illustrated at 752 may be placed in circuit between solenoid assembly 748 and ground. Accordingly, after one of the key switches 302 is actuated, causing the solenoid assembly 748 to move pressure plate 740 to the left, the time delay device 752 would, after expiration of a predetermined period of time, open the circuit through the solenoid assembly 748. This, in turn, because of resilient means associated with the solenoid assembly 748, would cause the pressure plate 740 to move to the right to the position shown in FIG. 34 releasing all of the key switches as well as the one which was depressed. The return of any of such components could, of course, be employed for resetting the time delay device 752.

Still other modifications are possible. For example, suitable sensing means whether such be limit switches, microswitches, photoelectric devices or any other suitable means, may be employed at each of the deflector door openings 512 so as to sense the passage therethrough of an article of mail and, in turn, if desired, create a signal indicating to the operator the occurrence of such an event. Such signals could also be employed as either controls, in and of themselves, or control signals for, as with reference to FIG. 34, deenergizing solenoid means748.

Although only one preferred embodiment of the invention, along with selected modifications thereof, have been disclosed an described it is apparent that other embodiments and modifications of the invention are possible within the scope of the appended claims.

Iclaim:

1. A sorting apparatus for sorting articles to be successively taken from a common source and distributed to various receiving means, comprising first means for continuously defining a plurality of spaced passageways for the travel therethrough of successive ones of said articles, a plurality of door assemblies defining portions of said passageways, said door assemblies being selectively openable so as to thereby cooperate with said passageways in defining paths leading to said receiving means, said second means interposed between said common source and said first means and having an inlet and an outlet end, said second means including a plurality of translationally positionable selector means, said selector means being effective to define a plurality of channels, one at a time, communicating between said inlet and said outlet end in a manner whereby said plurality of channels communicate with said inlet but define a plurality of distinctly separate outletswithin said outlet end, said separate outlets when defined by said translationally positionable selector means being respectively generally juxtaposed to said spaced passageways in order to thereby define a substantially continuous path for the travel of a successive one of said articles from said common source through one of said channels into a juxtaposed passageway through an opened door assembly and onto one of said receiving means.

2. A sortingapparatus according to claim 1 including means for providing a propelling force, greater than the force of gravity, to such of said articles as are introduced into said second means.

3. A sorting apparatus according to claim 2 wherein said means for providing a propelling force comprises first propelling means for propelling said articles through said respective channels and second propelling means for propelling said articles through said respective passageways.

4. A sorting apparatus according to claim 1 wherein said second means includes propelling means for engaging and providing a propelling force to such of said articles as are introduced into said second means.

5. A sorting apparatus according to claim 4 including additional means situated in close proximity to said propelling means for preventing the unintentional simultaneous introduction of more than one of said articles into said respective channels within said second means.

6. A sorting apparatus according to claim 1 wherein said first means comprises a housing having first and second sidewalls and top and bottom walls, a plurality of transversely positioned members between said spaced walls, said sidewalls and said top and bottom walls including said transversely positioned members cooperating to define said plurality of spaced passageways, wherein said plurality of door assemblies includes a plurality of first door openings formed in said first sidewall so as to be respectively in communication with said passageways, a plurality of second door openings formed in said second sidewall so as to be respectively in communication

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US2670087 *Aug 4, 1948Feb 23, 1954Automatic Elect LabSorting apparatus
US3343672 *Jun 17, 1965Sep 26, 1967Nederlanden StaatSystem for sorting documents
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US5109987 *Dec 4, 1989May 5, 1992National Presort, Inc.Multi-level sort machine
US7528339Jul 31, 2003May 5, 2009Lockheed Martin CorporationSequencing system and method of use
US7723633Jul 31, 2003May 25, 2010Lockheed Martin CorporationSequencing system and method of use
Classifications
U.S. Classification198/367.1, 271/305, 209/900, 209/657
International ClassificationB07C3/06
Cooperative ClassificationB07C3/06, Y10S209/90
European ClassificationB07C3/06