US 3608776 A
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent James A. Moe
503 Carolyn Lane, White Bear Lake, Minn. 55110;
Thomas J. Ross, 1011 Euclid St., St. Paul,
- Minn. 55106 [211 App]. No. 876,752
 Filed Nov. 14, 1969  Patented Sept. 28, 1971  Inventors  ARTICLE-DlSPENSING MODULE 18 Claims, 8 Drawing Figs.
 US. Cl 221/90, 221/155-  Int. Cl G07t 11/00  Field of Search........ ..221/90, 155
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,194,432 7/1965 Breitenstein et al. 221/155 X 3,286,880 11/1966 Gross 221/155 X 3,355,065 ll/l967 Moe Primary Examiner-M. Henson Wood, Jr. Assistant Examiner-Michael Y. Mar Attorney-John C. Barnes ABSTRACT: An article-dispensing module comprising a plurality of shelves in a plurality of columns which may be unloaded seriatim. The module may be one of a plurality of modules in a dispensing apparatus, each module operating on command to dispense the article on display and to place another article inthe display position. The dispensing module is operated by a single motor incrementally rotatably driving a plurality of gears which control reciprocating self-resetting cams acting to release the shelves and dispense the articles.
The dispensing module of the present invention provides the sequential unloading of articles from the shelves by pivoting the closely spaced shelves arranged in a plurality of columns disposed in a row and provides means for restricting the articles dispensed from becoming inverted when moving from their shelves to the display position.
PATENTEU SEP28 usn SHEET 1 BF 3 s n Mww m W U W 4 m4; IA M? #m PATENTEU8EP28 l9?! SHEET 2 [IF 3 INVENTORS Maximal P055 ARTICLE-DISPENSING MODULE This invention relates to a dispensing module for dispensing items singly upon command, e.g., upon coin deposit, and in one aspect provides a device which will dispense the article seen in the display position and will sequentially displace from a plurality of shelves in a number of columns a new article into the display position. The present invention provides an improvement over the device disclosed in US. Letters Pat. No. 3.355,065, to provide for an increase in the number of shelves in a module by a reduction in the spacing between the shelves, and the automatic resetting of the cams pennitting a greater volume in a relatively narrow unit. The invention utilizes relatively few different parts repetitiously to sequentially unload a plurality of shelves in a plurality of columns disposed in a row.
The earlier US. Pat. No. 3,355,065 discloses the use of rotatable gear members driven through a predetermined angle on command to sequentially unload shelves. The number of shelves and the spacing between shelves was related to the size of the gears and, as disclosed therein, the number of gears in a column was related to the number of shelves that the reciprocating cams can drop in one revolution of the gears as each succeeding complete rotation causes another column of shelves to drop. The earlier patented device utilized reciprocating cams to drop the shelves but the cams were not automatically reset.
Vending machines to be most practical must be reliable, be economical to manufacture, possess large volume, and be as trouble free as possible. Additionally, it is desirable that the machines are secure and not easily cheated and that they are convenient and easy to reload or refill.
The present invention provides an improved machine in that the timing or control mechanism is a mechanical system which is continuously cycled and automatically reset. It is free of electronic gadgetry which is generally difficult for the average serviceman or woman to handle when servicing the vending machines.
A machine according to the present invention is a modular unit which is designed to be joined with other similar modular units to permit the vending of a variety of products. Each module is designed to vend identical or different articles without confusion to the customer because the article displayed in each modular unit is the item which will be received upon subsequent command as by depositing the coin to energize the mechanism.
The apparatus comprises a frame having one generally planar supporting wall. The rows are disposed along the wall with the columns running generally vertically relative to the wall. A plurality of shelves in each column are pivoted on axes along one edge of each shelf and each shelf has a support member cooperating with a ledge on the wall to support the shelf in a generally horizontal position and to permit its displacement to drop the shelf to a generally vertical position. The displacement of the shelf is afforded by pivotal movement of the shelf relative to the pivot or hinge axis to release the support from the ledge, allowing the shelf to drop. Release of the shelves is afforded by a plurality of reciprocating self-adjusting cam means movable in a plane parallel to the wall. The cam means comprise cam follower rods supporting projections or cams. The rods are driven incrementally by a cam or pin on the gears to displace the shelves in a column successively and in the columns sequentially. A single motor drives a plurality of gears through an increment of rotation about their own axes to drive the reciprocating rods through the cam thereon, affording the controlled lowering of the shelves. Each rod, on successive increments of rotation of the gears, will release at least two shelves, one after the other in a column.
The motor also drives a timing and locking system to provide the dispensing of an article positioned in a display position, to capture an article dropped from the bottom portion of the column being unloaded and place it in the display position, and drop another article to the bottom of the column to be retained .therein. After the shelves in one column are all dropped a second column begins from the bottom to the top.
The shelves in the column are also provided with means to control their position after they are lowered such that articles falling from higher shelves are restricted from turning in the column to remain right side up in the display area.
The present invention will be further described with reference to the accompanying drawing wherein:
FIG. 1 is an elevational view of the shelves and elevators for a dispensing moduleconstructed according to the/present invention;
FIG. 2 is an elevational view of the opposite side of the v dispensing module of FIG. 1 showing the control mechanism;
FIG. 3 is a fragmentary vertical sectional view of the module of FIG. 1;
FlG. 4 is an exploded view of several elements of the control dispensing module generally indicated by the reference nuwall 11. As illustrated, there are three columns of shelves disposed between the partitions l2, l4, l5, and 16 with 24 shelves in a column, the shelves in each column lying generally in a common plane with a shelf in another column. The shelves in each column are arranged in pairs and shelves 17 are slightly different from the shelves 18, to be cammed toward or away from the main support wall during movement to an unloading position.
Referring to FIGS. 1, 5 and 6, each shelf is a generally flat platelike member with a pair of cars depending from one end of the shelf adjacent each edge. The sides of the shelves converge slightly from the one edge toward the other edge, giving the shelf a slightly tapered configuration from end to end. The ears each have an opening-and a rod 19 extends therethrough into openings in the wall 11 and into openings in the flanges of the partitions. The openings for the rods 19 in the wall and flanges are placed in slight dimples formed in the wall and flanges. The ear of each shelf closest to the wall 11 has a slotted opening and the other ear is formed with a circular opening. On the shelves 17, a spring 20 is connected to the rod 19 and to the shelf 17 for urging the shelf 17 in a direction such thatone longitudinal edge such as an edge 21 of shelf 17 is normally urged toward the wall 11. A projection 22 extends from this edge 21 in the plane of the shelf to form a support member for the shelf 17. This projection extends into an opening 25 in the wall 11 which opening has the general form of a 7 to define a horizontal ledge upon which this support may rest and a vertically disposed cam surface to reset the shelf when it is raised. One surface of this projection 22 is generally perpendicular to the edge 21 wherein the other surface is inclined forming a ramp or cam surface. A force placed against the side of the projection 22 which is generally normal to the longitudinal edge 21 causes the shelf to pivot against the bias of the spring 20 and away from the wall 11. The projection 22 can then be displaced from the ledge and dropped through the leg of the 7-shaped opening 25 in the wall 11 to a position dispensing any article which is on the upper side of the shelf. The dimples formed in the wall 11 and partition flanges project toward the shelf and permit the pivotal movement of the shelf about a vertical axis relative to the rear wall and against the bias of each shelf spring until the shelf can pivot about the axis of the rod 19.
The shelves 18 have a spring 26 corinected between the pivot rod 19 and the shelf in a position to urge an edge 27, formed with the support member 28 away from the wall 11. The edges of the support member 28 are reversed from those of shelf 17 relative to the position of the rod 19. The support members, 28 will rest on ledges in openings 29 and the shelves 18 will be urged, by a cam engaging the support member 28, away from the wall 11 to drop the shelf.
Disposed below the shelves 17 and 18 is the elevator mechanism adapted to receive the articles as they are dispensed and to place them in a display position. The elevator mechanism comprises a first elevator 30 which is pivotally supported adjacent a display window 31 by a shaft 33. The elevator 30 is pivoted about the axis of a shaft 33 which extends through the main wall 11 and is driven by a crank arm 32 as will hereinafter be described. A second elevator or slide 35 is pivoted about a shaft 36 and has a first short end portion disposed to the right of the shaft as viewed in FIG. 1 and a longer portion 37 which meets with the end of the elevator 30 to transfer an article 38 from the slide 35 to the elevator 30 to place the article in viewing position. The article 38 is dispensed toward the right from elevator 30 into a chute (not shown) accessible to the operator or customer upon rotation of the elevator 30 about its shaft 33 to the dotted line position as indicated in FIG. 1.
A door lock 39 is connected to the short end portion of the slide 35 to engage a lower shelf elevating cam 40 positioned between the bottom shelf of the shelves in the column between partitions 15 and 16 which will be indicated as ,column'2. A similar cam 41 is positioned between the bottom shelf in the center column, column 1, between partitions 14 and 15 and a third cam 42 is positioned beneath the bottom shelf in column 3 between partitions 12 and 14. The function of the cams 40, 41, and 42 is to move the bottom shelf of each column to an inclined position (after it is dumped) on its respective hinge'rod 19 such that an article on such shelf would slide off the shelf and onto the slide 35. The cam then rotates back to a generally horizontal position as shown in solid lines for the shelf above cam 41 where the shelf cooperates with the partition 15 to prevent an article dropped down from the shelf from proceeding farther onto the slide 35 beneath the shelves.
The cams 40, 41, and 42 are secured to shafts of rotatable cranks which shafts are rotatably mounted on the main wall 11. A crank 45,for cam 40 is connected to a spring 46 to urge the cam 40 against the door lock 39. Crank 46 and 47 have the crank arms connected by connecting rods 48 and 49 to a control lever 50. As indicated in the drawing the shelves in the first column have been released and the last article 51 to be dispensed from the column is disposed on the bottom shelf and trapped between the bottom shelf and the partition 15.
It will also be noted in viewing FIG. 1 that the ninth shelf is not allowed to pivot to a position against the shelf beneath it and likewise the 15th shelf is held from movement to a position where it can engage the shelf beneath it. Pivotal movement of these shelves is restrained by a small lock member 52 affixed to the opposite side of the main wall 11. The member 52 interferes with the supporting element on the shelf to prevent their free pivotal movement to the most extreme position. By interfering with the movement of these shelves it is possible to prevent the articles dispensed from the upper shelves in the column from revolving about a transverse axis and becoming inverted when it strikes the bottom shelf and the partition 15 as illustrated in FIG. 1. This assures that the top side or the front of a candy wrapper will be visible when the article is thus positioned on the display elevator 30 and can be readily identified by the customer, if it was placed face up on the shelf.
A motor 55 is conveniently supported from the main wall 11 above the shelves and the drive shaft 56 therefrom extends through the main wall 11. Referring now to FlGS. 1 and 2, a
' The cam 57 is also an eccentric crank arm to control the timing and locking mechanisms of the dispensing module. A switch 59 providesmeans for deenergizing the motor after it has driven the shaft 56 and gear 58 through a single revolution. The cam 57 can operate the switch 59 to deenergize the motor gear after the vending module circuit is energized upon command, e.g. upon a person inserting a coin into a coinoperated switching mechanism.
Referring to FIGS. 2, 3, and 4, the control mechanism for dropping the shelves in a column successively from bottom to top before unloading any other shelf in another column will be discussed. The timing and control mechanism is driven with the motor shaft which through an enlarged reduction spur gear 60 drives the first of a series of operating gears to control the shelves. In FIG. 2 there is illustrated a series of gears in a column. The operating gears comprise gears 62 supported on stub shafts and spaced from the main wall 11 and alternate gears 63 which are-the same size as the gears 62, containing the same number of teeth and supported also by stub shafts.
The gears 63 carry axially extending pins or cam members 64 and 65. The cam members 64 and 65 are circumferentially spaced on the side of the gear 63 adjacent the main wall 11. This can best be seen in FIG. 3.
Extending longitudinally of the wall 11 and movable in paths parallel thereto are a plurality of the reciprocating cam followers in the form of rods 67 and 68. In the illustrated embodiment one rod 67 and one rod 68 is associated with each four shelves in each column and with each set of gears 62 and 63. The rods 67 are formed with spaced projections or earns 69 directed toward the wall 11 and the rods 68 with spaced earns 70. As shown in FIG. 2 the control mechanism is positioned such that the bottom shelf 18 in the middle column will be dropped first by a first cam 69 on the lower edge of rod 67 striking a shelf support 22 and displacing it away from wall 11 and off the ledge of the opening 29 in the back plate 11 which opening has the configuration of the numeral 7. Thus as the bottom gear 63 is driven through a predetermined arcuate position the cam member 64 thereon engages a cam following surface 71 on the upper portion of the rod 67 to move the rod a small increment to the right as viewed in FIG. 2, lowering the first shelf. Upon the next actuation of the motor 55 the gear 63 and cam member 64 will move again and a cam 69 disposed along the top edge of rod 67 will displace the second shelf 18 in the column. The third actuation of the motor causes the gear 63 and the cam member 65 thereon to displace the rod 68, immediately above the lower rod 67, to the left as viewed in FIG. 2, displacing the third shelf in the center column which is a shelf 17. The fourth actuation displaces rod 68 still further to the left displacing the fourth shelf. The third and fourth shelves are displaced by the cam member 65 on the gear 63. As each of the gears have rotated through the predetennined increment the rods 67 and 68 in the upper sets of rods have been advanced across the wall 11 to a position where they will be ready now to displace the shelves as the operation of the module continues. When a cam member 64 is in engagement with a cam surface on the rod 67 a shelf will be dropped, when a cam member 65 is engaged with a rod 68 a door is dropped. When a cam member 64 engages the rod 68 the rod is advanced but no shelves are dropped and similarly for cam member 65 and the rod 67.
The rods 67 and 68 are mounted for reciprocating longitudinal movement across the back wall 11 and are guided by pins 75 extending from the wall and penetrating slotted openings 76 in the rods. Springs 77 (FIG. 3) are placed on the outboard side of the pins 75 as shown most clearly in FIG. 3 to bias the projections 69 and 70 on the rods into engagement with the support members 22 and 28 on the shelves 17 and 18. The springs 77 also permit the rods to move outward over the ramp or cam surface of the supports 22 and 28 as the rods are reset. Each of the rods 67 are urged toward the left as viewed in FIG. 2 and each of the rods 68 are urged toward the right. The rods are so biased by springs 80 and 81, respectively, connected thereto and to the main wall 11. Incremental advance of the rod 67 and 68 by a cam member 64 and 65 on a gear 63, is maintained by a pivoted dog or pawl 82 or 83 respectively, positioned adjacent the rod and engageable with detents 85 and 86 formed in the rods along an edge of the rod as shown in FlGS.,2 and 4.
The operation of a set of rods 67 and 68 will now be described. Upon the first increment of rotation of the bottom gear 63 counterclockwise, as illustrated in FIG. 2, the cam member 64 engages a ramp cam following surface 71 on the rod 67 to advance it against the bias of the spring 80 to the right. Cam member 64 moves from the incline position shown in FIG. 4 to a vertical position and a shelf is dropped. 0n the second actuation of the gear 63 the cam 64 again advances the rod 67 and drops a second shelf immediately above the first shelf and the rod is moved sufficiently for pawl 82 to engage a first detent 85 next to the reset slot 88, since the bottom rod 67 is at its reset position farthest to the left as seen in FIGS. 2 and 4. Upon the third operation the rod 68 is advanced one position by the cam 65 having advanced to engage a follower surface ramp 89 to move it and rod 68 a small increment to the left. At this same time the pawl 83 is being moved from its second detent 86 toward the third detent. The third shelf in the center column is dropped. On the next or fourth increment of rotation the cam member 65 on the gear 63 is moving free from a generally vertical position against the ramp 89, counterclockwise to a position off the ramp 89 or nearly so. During this movement the fourth shelf in the center now drops. The pawl 83 is then advanced to the third detent and the fourth shelf is dropped. Upon completion of this increment of rotation the pawl 83 is biased into the third detent. The pawl 83 will hold the rod 86 until the rod is next advanced by the cam member 64. For the next cycles (during which the next 10 shelves in the column are dropped) of the lower cam gear 63 as illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 4 there is no movement of either lower rod 67 or upper rod 68 as the spaced cam member 64 on the gear that had actuated the rod 67 approaches the rod 68. Cam member 64 then moves between the fourth and fifth ramp surface 90 and 91 respectively, and upon reaching a vertical position (having had one free cycle to said vertical position because of the space between the fourth and fifth ramps) will subsequently engage the fourth surface 90 and move the rod to the left on the next actuation. With this movement pawl 83 moves from the third detent 86 to the fourth. The next increment of movement of either rod would be cam member 65 engaging follower ramp 92 on rod 67 to move the rod 67 to the right. No shelf is displaced by this latter movement. It is again a period of successive cycles before cam member 64 is again driving the rod 67 on its second revolution to move a shelf from another column to the dispensing position.
The rods 67 and 68 have cam follower ramps 93 and 94 respectively at the ends of the ramp surfaces which are slightly larger or higher than the other ramp surfaces. After the cam members have engaged the surfaces 93 and 94 on each rod during movement by a cam member not causing a shelf to drop, the rods are reset by the associated springs 80 or 81. When the rods 67 and 68 have reached a reset position the pawls 83 have reached enlarged detents 84 in the rods to release the holding advantage of these pawls, and they are reset in similar deeper detents. Each rod resets after every third revolution of its driving cam or after each rod has displaced its pair of shelves in each column in the row.
Each increment of rotation of the control mechanism causes a dispensing operation of one of the shelves. The article on the elevator 30 is dispensed by the timing and lock mechanism which will hereinafter be described. On the outer edge of the motor shaft 56 beyond the gear 58 is the rotatable cam and crankshaft 57 which controls the movement of the operating links for the elevators 30 and 35. As the cam 57 rotates from the position shown in FIG. 7, which is its rest 1 position, in a clockwise direction an eccentrically mounted pin 95 operates as a cam in a slot to oscillate an arm 96 about its pivot point 97. As this arm is oscillated in a vertical plane it imparts a vertical movement to a rod 99 secured to the oscillating lever 50. Note the rod 99 is connected to one side of the lever 50 which is pivoted to the rear of the plate 11. This rod is pivoted about a pin 100 spaced from the connection between the rod 99 and the lever 50. At one end the lever 50 has a connecting rod 101 which extends to a radial crank arm 32 on a shaft 33 to rotate the elevator 33 in a counterclockwise direction (FIG. 2) dispensing the article thereon. Simultaneously a crank rod 102, at the opposite end of the lever 50 is driving the slide 35 about its shaft 36 by a connection with a crank arm 103 connected to the shaft 36.
The connecting rods 48 and 49 are joined between thelever 50 and their respective crank arms 46 and 47 to rotate the crank arms for the shafts operating the cams 41 and'42. Cam 40 for column 3 is moved by the lock member 39 positioned on the short end of the slide 35. Movement of the elevators 30 and 35, the cams 40, 41, and 42 are synchronized to dispense the article on elevator 30, lower the bottom shelf in the column being dispensed to drop the article resting thereon onto the slide 35 and subsequently to raise the bottom shelf, slide the article on the slide 35 onto the elevator 30 and drop another shelf to dispense an article thereon onto the bottom shelf.
During the first of rotation of the cam 57 the elevator 30 is pivoted to dispense the bar and the slide 35 is pivoted to a position raising the longer portion and lowering the shorter portion. As the slide is moved to the position with the short portion in a lowered position the cams 40, 41, and 42 for the columns have moved and for any column where the bottom shelf has been tripped the bottom shelf of any column will be permitted to drop and anything thereon can fall onto the slide. The article on the slide is moved by gravity toward the short end of the slide relative to the pivot 36. Thus the ann 96 will have moved to the position shown in broken lines in FIG. 7. The next 90 of rotation of cam 57 affords very little movement to the rod and pennits the item placed on the slide 35 to move toward the smaller end of the slide. In the next approximate 135 of rotation the elevator 30 is returned to its normal locked position and the slide 35 is returned to move the article from the short side to the long side and directly onto the elevator 30. The slope of the slide is steep enough to move the article by gravity onto the elevator. At this same time the lock member 39 on the slide 35 has engaged the cam 40 and moves the cam 40 to a normal position beneath the bottom shelf 18 of that column 3 and cams 41 and 42 are returned by rods 48 and 49. ln the next 45 there is some movement of the arm 96 but the elevator is now down, a door has fallen with the item on it and the earns 40, 41, and 42 are moved to hold the bottom shelf in a generally horizontal position to catch the item which is dropped from one of the shelves higher in the column. During this last 45 of movement to complete one revolution, the pin is being moved in the slot in the arm 96 and a cam 64 and 65 is continuing to advance a rod 67 or 68 until the support for a shelf is finally displaced dropping the shelf. The arm 96 is not moving and rod 99 is not moving so everything else is locked. Upon completion of the revolution of the cam or disc 57 the motor 55 is deenergized and everything stops abruptly due to the drive disengagement and friction in the reduction gearing and gears 62 and 63. The article on the shelf has dropped to the bottom of the column. A pad 106 positioned on the portion near the movable bottom shelf in each column causes the article to fall back upon the shelves and it will be next to move out onto the slide 35.
The motor 55 is adapted to be energized through suitable circuitry, initially bypassing the switch 59 and activated by a suitable command member. Examples of such members include pushbutton switches, coin-actuated switching mechanisms (as hereinbefore described and common to vending machines) levers, etc.
In an exemplary module with a width of 3 h inches, a height of 44 inches and a depth of 19% inches with 24 shelves in a column spaced approximately 1% inches apart, three columns, the gears 62 and 63 are 2% inches in diameter and 63, nine teeth off the diametrical line through cam member 64 pivotalmovement of one shelf between the ninth and 12th shelves inclusive inv each column and one shelf between the 13th and 15th shelves for restricting the short candy bars,
boxes, or other articles from rotating or' turning end for end as they fall from the upper shelves to the bottom shelf. As illustrated, stops 105 are secured to the wall 11 to interfere with and limit the pivotal movement of the support members 22 or 28 down the arcuate portion of the 7-shaped openings 25 and 29, respectively. p
A manual override mechanism is provided for moving all the bars on rods 67 and 68 away from the wall 11 sufficiently for the rods to move under the force of the cam members 64 and 65 of the gears 63 without the earns 69 and 70 striking the shelf supports. Thus when the serviceman wants to fill any module of the machine he may actuate the override means and by a switch the motor is energized to turn the gears 63 through the remainder of the revolution they happen to be on. Upon icompletion of the revolution the motor is deenergized, the override is released automatically and the control mechanism is set to begin unloading a column (any one of the three, it doesn't matter) from the bottom.' The operator reloads all the shelves and the machine is ready.
The override means (see FIGS. 2 and 8) comprises a set of pivotally mounted long narrow rods 110 and 112 extending vertically along the wall 11. The rods 110 and 112 are pivoted about a longitudinal edge by pins in blocks 113 and 114. Attached to the pins above the top blocks 113 and 114 are crank arms 116 and 117 having free ends projecting through slots in a bar 119 which, upon movement .to the left as shown in the drawing, rotates the rods 110, and 112 to cam the rods 67 and 68 away from the wall 11. The bar 119 is moved by a pivoted lever or handle 120, see FIGS 1, 2, and 8, until a pawl 121 drops in place to hold the bar 119. The movement of the bar 119 or pawl 12] can actuate aswitch (not shown) to energize the motor 55. The pawl 121 is pivoted on the wall 11 and is wider than the bar 119 so it will be moved out of latching engagement with the .bar automatically when the uppermost idler gear 62 completes a turn in its cycle. The upper gear 62 carries 'a pin 124 to strike the pawl 121. As the pin 124 lifts the pawl 121 from its detent, the rods 110 and l 12 are returned to a position parallel to the wall 11 under the bias of springs 77, and all the rods 67 and 68 are returned to their operating positions.
Various modifications may be made in the illustrated device, such as positioning the gears 62 and 63 nearer the wall 11 than the rods 67 and 68. This may reduce the width of the module and permit greater displacement of the rods away from the support members 22 and 28 for the shelves. Further, it is proposed that one gear could replace the two gears 62 and 63 but such gears would be larger and not as economical. The one gear would support cam members similar to members 64 and 65 spaced the same distance from the gear axis. The use of two cam members to drive two rods from one gear permits the shelves to be closer together and more shelves in a row. One cam member could be placed on each gear but to prevent interference between the cam members and other rods the shelves would be further apart and the cams would be closer to the axis. Not as many shelves could be placed in each column with this arrangement but in some instances the greater spacing is preferred.
The number of columns can be increased by lengthening the rods 67 and 68, adding the shelf-engaging cams, and ramps but three columns are preferred or eventually the rods become too long. The number of shelves in a column can be increased by decreasing the increment of rotation to fewer degrees per cycle.
Other modifications may be made in the scope of the present invention without departing from the same as defined by the appended claims.
.What is claimed is: t i
1. A module for an article-dispensing apparatus which is adapted to be operated intermittently to dispense individual articles, said module comprising a plurality of pivoted shelves arranged one above the other in a plurality of parallel columns disposed in a row,
a support wall disposed along said row,-
means supporting each of said shelves in an article-supporting position from said wall,
a plurality of gears intermeshed with each other and disposed one above the other and mounted on said wall,
pin means driven by said gears, I
parallel cam rod means having cam means thereon movable in a plane parallel with said wall and in the direction of said row under the driving force of said pin means for successively displacing said means supporting the shelves to dispense articles thereon, and
means for driving said gears through predetermined angular extents to drive said pin means and thereby selected ones of said cam rod means to successively displace shelves in a column from the bottom toward the top.
2. A module according to claim 1 wherein said cam rod means include a plurality of rods each having cam means affording displacement of more than one shelf in each column place said shelves, andmeans for retaining said cam rod means in position along their pathof movement.
4. A module according to claim '1 wherein said cam rod means are supported for reciprocating movement along a path, and wherein said pin means areengageable with said cam rod means to move them incrementally along said path, said module further including means biasing said cam rod means in one direction for resetting said cam rod means along said path, and means for retaining said cam rod means in position along said path upon'the incremental advance thereof until said cam rod means reach a predetermined position along said path.
5. A module according to claim 1 wherein said gears include idle gears and alternating cam'driving gears, said pin means include spaced cam members on said cam-driving gears, and
said cam rod means include rods mounted for reciprocating movement with a pair of said rods disposed adjacent each cam-driving gear with one disposed on each side of the axis of each of said cam-driving gears to be advanced along said row successively in opposite directions upon rotation of said camdriving gears.
6. A module according to claim 5 formed with spaced longitudinally extending slots and wherein pins extend through said slots to support said rods on said wall, and spring means urge said rods and cam means toward said wall to cause said cam means to engage said means supporting said shelves and disposed in the path of said cam means.
7. A module according to claim 6 wherein override means are provided for urging said rods away from said wall against the bias of said spring means wherebysaid cam means will not engage said means supporting said shelves when said means for driving said gears causes movement of said pin means.
8. A module according to claim 1 further comprising a pivotally mounted elevator supported below said columns at an end of said row for displaying an article and for dispensing an article,
slide means pivotally mounted on said wall and extending below said columns and aligned with said elevator for wherein said rods are receiving articles dispensed from said shelves when disposed in a first position and for directing them onto said elevator when pivoted to a second position, and
timing and locking means for moving said elevator to dispense an article thereon, for positioning said slide means in said first position, for displacing a shelf in a column to place an article on said slide means, and for returning said elevator to said display position and for moving said slide means to said second position as said gears are driven through a predetermined extent.
9. A module according to claim 8 wherein a cam is positioned to engage the bottom shelf in each column to permit movement of said bottom shelves to a dispensing position placing an article on said slide means and back to an articlesupporting position,
crank means for moving at least one of said cams positioned to engage said bottom shelf, said crank means moving said one of said cams to a position permitting said bottom shelf to dispense an article when said slide means is in said first position and for moving said one of said cams against said shelf as said slide means moves to said second position, and
rod means connecting said crank means and said elevator and said slide means to move them simultaneously.
10. A module according to claim 8 wherein said timing and locking means comprises a driven crank having an eccentric pin,
a lever pivoted on said wall and having slotted opening receiving said eccentric pin whereby rotation of said pin by said crank causes pivotal movement of said lever, and
rod means connected to said lever and to said elevator and said slide means for moving said elevator and said slide means simultaneously.
11. A module according to claim 8 wherein said elevator has means pivotally supporting the same adjacent one end of a said row for positioning said article in a viewing position in a dispensing apparatus, and wherein said slide means mates with said elevator when said elevator is in its display position and when said slide means is in its second position for forming a closure along said row below said columns of shelves.
[2. A module for an article-dispensing apparatus which is adapted to be operated intermittently to dispense individual articles, said module comprising a plurality of pivotally mounted shelves arranged one above the other in a plurality of columns disposed in a row,
a support wall disposed along said row,
means supporting each of said shelves in an article-supporting position from said wall, said supporting means extending through openings in said wall,
a plurality of intermeshing gears disposed one above the other and rotatably mounted on said wall, alternate ones of said gears having cam means formed thereon,
cam rods movable in a plane parallel with said wall means and in the direction of said row, said rods being disposed in pairs with one rod of each pair on each side of the axis of said gears having said cam means, said rods including ramp means disposed for engagement by said cam means to move said rods, and spaced members disposed on each said rod and projecting toward said wall for engaging said supporting means to displace said supporting means and move said shelves in a column successively to a dispensing position upon movement of said rods during incremental rotation of said gears, and
means for driving said gears through predetermined extents to drive said cam rods.
13. A module for an article-dispensing apparatus which affords the sequential unloading of a plurality of shelves for placing successive articles in a display position and for dispensing said articles from said display position, said module comprising:
a pivotally mounted elevator for supporting an article in a display position and for dispensing an article, pivotally mounted sllde means for receiving articles and directing them onto said elevator when said slide means is moved from a first position to a second position,
a plurality of pivotally mounted shelves disposed for movement from an article-supporting position to a position for placing a said article on said slide means,
control means for moving ones of said shelves to said position for placing an article on said slide means, and
timing and locking means for moving said elevator from said display position for dispensing said article, for positioning said slide means in said first position and for actuating said control means for moving a said shelf to a position for placing an article on said slide means, and for moving said elevator to said display position and said slide to said second position sequentially.
14. A module according to claim 13, wherein said timing and locking means comprise a rotatable crank having an eccentric pin,
an oscillating lever having a slotted opening receiving said a rod pivotally connected to said lever at a point spaced from the pivot thereof, and
pivoted lever means connected to said rod and to said slide means and said elevator for moving said slide means and said elevator simultaneously.
15. A module for use in an article-dispensing apparatus, said module comprising a plurality of shelves arranged in vertically spaced relationship in a column,
hinge means pivoting each of said shelves along one edge with said hinge means being positioned vertically above one another,
means for supporting said shelves in a parallel article-supporting position, r
means for displacing said shelves so they pivot about said hinge means and move to an article-dispensing position, and
stop means disposed in spaced relation in said column to contact predetermined ones of said shelves to limit the movement of said ones of said shelves about said hinge means whereby articles dispensed from the uppermost shelves will strike said ones of said shelves to restrict rotation of said articles as they fall.
16. a module according to claim 1 wherein said pin means includes a pair of cam members supported on ones of said gears, which cam members are spaced radially form the axis of said gears, circumferentially from each other and axially from one face of said gears, and said cam rod means includes rods mounted for reciprocating movement with a pair of said rods disposed adjacent each gear supporting said members with one disposed on each side of the axis of each of said gears supporting said cam members to be advanced along said row by said cam members successively in opposite directions upon rotation of said gears.
17. A module according to claim 1 wherein each of said shelves are pivoted on a rod extending normal to said wall and each shelf is formed with a slot receiving said rods at a position adjacent said wall to permit pivotal movement of said shelves relative to said wall, and wherein said means supporting said shelves includes a projection on the edge of each said shelf which projection extends through a slotted opening in the wall aligned along said row from said pie.
18. A module according to claim 17 wherein said projection includes a surface generally perpendicular to said edge of said shelf to be engaged by said cam means for displacing said shelf from its article-supporting position and a surface inclined relative to said edge to permit said cam means to ride over said projection without displacing said shelf.