US 3609250 A
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United States Patent  Inventor Robert E. Morris Phoenix, Ariz.  Appl. No. 874,917  Filed Nov. 7, 1969  Patented Sept. 28, 1971  Assignee Houston G. Smith a part interest  APPARATUS FOR DELIVERING AN AUDIBLE MESSAGE FROM A VENDING MACHINE IN RESPONSE TO AN OPERATOR ACTIVATION 2 Claims, 3 Drawing Figs.
 U.S. C1 ..l79/l00.1C, 179/ 100.1 VC  Int.Cl G11b 15/18  Field of Search 179/1001 C, 100.1 VC,1 VC
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,171,893 3/1965 Burg 179/1001 X Primary Examiner-Bernard Konick Assistant Examiner-Raymond F. Cardillo, Jr. Att0meyDrummond 8L Phillips ABSTRACT: In order to deliver an advertising message to a vending machine user prior to his selection of a particular vendcd item, apparatus is provided responsive to the deposit of coins in the vending machine to institute playback of a prerecorded message through endless tape cartridge playback apparatus under the control of a timing circuit. The timing circuit is adapted to respond to the end of the message for turning off the playback apparatus until it is activated again by the next deposit of coins. In a variant configuration, the message playback is instituted by pressing a button incorporated into a display of merchandise.
APPARATUS FOR DELIVERING AN AUDIBLE MESSAGE FROM A VENDING MACHINE IN RESPONSE TO AN OPERATOR ACTIVATION This invention relates to audio announcing systems and, more particularly, to such systems which may be incorporated into a vending machine or merchandise display for customer activation.
Annunciating systems for providing an audio announcement for article vending machines and the like are known in the prior art. However, the prior art systems have been integrated into the total vending machine system such that they are not adapted for installation into existing vending machines or for such related use as with merchandise displays. Additionally, the playback apparatus of prior art annunciating systems for vending machines and the like have been cumbersome and the recording medium has been difficult to change.
Accordingly, it is a broad subject of this invention to provide an improved audio annunciating system for a vending machine or the like.
It is a more specific object of this invention to provide audio-annunciating apparatus for a vending machine or the like which responds to customer action to play back a prerecorded message from a tape cartridge.
The manner in which these and other objects of the invention are accomplished will be appreciated by those skilled in the art with reference to the following description taken in conjunction with the drawing of which:
FIG. 1 is a block diagram of the system of the present invention incorporated into a vending machine;
FIG. 2 is a block diagram of the system incorporated into a merchandise display; and
FIG. 3 is a partially schematic and partially block diagram showing details of an exemplary timing circuit and the manner in which the repertoire of announcements can be changed without moving the cartridge.
Referring now to FIG. 1, a vending machine 1 is provided with a plurality of slots 2, 3, 4 for accepting coins of different denomination. A chute 5 for the largest denomination coin, for example a twenty-five cent piece, directs coins inserted into the slot 4 across the actuating plunger 7 of a switch 6. The switch 6 is preferably of the type which actuates with little pressure and with very slight travel in order to avoid stalling the coin. Those skilled in the vending machine art will recog nize that the switch 6 is preferably placed after the validity testing apparatus and, for machines equipped with a single coin slot, after the coin separation apparatus.
Upon actuation of the switch 6 by a coin passing through the slot 5, a timing circuit 8 is activated to energize the magnetic tape cartridge playback apparatus 9. The tape cartridge playback apparatus 9 contains an endless tape cartridge prerecorded with a plurality of serially oriented commercial messages on one or more channels. Each commercial message is sufficiently brief to be completed within a few seconds in order to influence the article choice of the vending machine customer. The commercial message is delivered audibly through the speaker 10. The output signal from the tape cartridge playback apparatus is also coupled back to the timing circuit 8 which recognizes the termination of the message and responds thereto by deenergizing the tape cartridge playback apparatus 9.
FIG. 2 discloses a variant from the system of FIG. 1 which differs only in that switch 6 is in a conventional pushbutton configuration rather than disposed in a coin chute. Thus, a potential customer or other interested person at a merchandise display may actuate the switch 6 to receive an audio announcement.
Referring now to FIG. 3, it will be observed that the tape cartridge playback apparatus 9 comprises a tape cartridge transport 11 and a conventional audio amplifier 12. The commercial messages are prerecorded on a tape cartridge 13 which is then inserted into the machine for playback whenever energy from a power source 14 is a applied to the cartridge playback apparatus 9 by closing the relay contacts 15. The relay contacts 15 are closed when a relay coin 16 is deenergized as will be described more fully below. A switch 17 permits selecting, as an input pickup to the amplifier I2, either a channel I playback head 18 or a channel 12 playback head 19.
The timing circuit, which deenergizes the relay coi 16 in response to the closure of the switch 6 until the output signal from the amplifier l2 terminates, comprises first and second junction transistors 01 and Q2, a unijunction transistor Q3 and a silicon-controlled rectifier Q4. Observing generally from left to right in FIG. 3, the circuit includes a current-limiting resistor 20 connected at one end to the ungrounded output terminal of the amplifier l2 and at its other end to a pair of backto-back diodes 21 and 22 which provides a clipping circuit to ground. The cathode of the diode 21 and the anode of the diode 22 are connected to a first plate of a coupling capacitor 23. The other plate of the capacitor 23 is connected to the base electrode of the junction transistor 01. The base electrode of the junction transistor 01 is also connected to the junction of a variable resistor 24 and a fixed resistor 25 which are series connected between a 6 volt energy source and ground to function as a bias network for the transistor Q1. A load resistor 26 is connected between the collector electrode of the transistor 01 and the terminal of the energy source. The emitter electrode of O1 is connected directly to ground.
The collector electrode of O1 is connected to one end of a resistor 27 which is connected at its other end to the base electrode of junction transistor Q2. A capacitor 28 and a resistor 29 are disposed in parallel between the base electrode of Q2 and ground. The emitter electrode of O2 is grounded directly. Load resistor 33 is connected between the collector electrode of Q2 and the junction between the anode electrode of Q4 and one end of the relay coil 16.
The collector electrode of transistor O2 is connected to one end of a resistor 30 which has its other end connected to the emitter electrode of the unijunction transistor Q3. A capacitor 31 is connected between the emitter electrode of the unijunction transistor 03 and ground. Base electrode 01 of the unijunction transistor Q3 is connected directly to the +6 volt terminal, and base 02 of the unijunction transistor O3 is connected to the gate electrode of the silicon-controlled rectifier 04. Base 02 of the unijunction transistor Q3 is also connected to one end of a resistor 32 to ground. The cathode electrode of the silicon-controlled rectifier O4 is connected directly to ground, and the anode electrode is connected to one end of the relay coil 16 which is connected, at its other end, to the +6 volt terminal.
In operation, momentary closure of the switch 6 ground the anode electrode of the SCR Q4 thereby turning off Q4 to deenergize the relay coil I6 and remove power from O2. When the relay coil 16 is denergized, the relay contacts 15 close to institute operation of the tape cartridge playback apparatus. As long as 04 remains nonconductive, the relay coil 16 will be deenergized and the tape cartridge playback ap paratus 9 will be supplied with energy through the relay contacts 15 to deliver the prerecorded audio announcement through the speakers I0.
The output signal from the speaker 10 is fed back, through the current limiting resistor 20, to a clipping circuit comprising the back-to-back diodes 21 and 22. Thus, the input signal to the transistor Q1 will be clipped in both directions to the forward contact potential, approximately 0.5 volts, of the diodes 21 and 22. This clipped signal is amplified in the stage comprising the transistor 01 and applied to the input of a second stage comprising the transistor Q2. The bias resistor 24 is adjusted such that the signal appearing at the collector electrode of Q1 and applied to 02 has a substantially square wave form with excursions between +6 volts and ground potentials. The resistor 27/capacitor 28 network is utilized as a lowpass filter against background noise, such as tape hiss, which may be present in the signal received from the tape cartridge playback apparatus 9. The resistor 29 is utilized as a bleeder for the capacitor 28 which would otherwise charge through resistors 26 and 27 and keep Q2 turned on continuously.
As long as an audio signal is amplified through the transistor 02, an amplified alternating signal is passed through the resistor 30 to charge and discharge the capacitor 31 in substantially equal amounts such that the net charge on the capacitor 31 remains close to zero. However, when the audio signal ceases for more than a brief period, as for example, at the termination of a prerecorded audio announcement, Q2 will become shut off to pennit the capacitor 31 to charge in the positive direction at a rate predetermined by its value and the value of the resistors 33 and 30 and the internal resistance of the relay coil 16. When the capacitor 31 has charged to a sufficient value, the unijunction transistor Q3 will generate a pulse which is developed across the resistor 32 and is applied to the gate electrode of the SCR Q4. This pulse latches the SCR Q4 "on" to energize the relay coil 16 thereby breaking the relay contacts 15 to interrupt power to the tape cartridge playback apparatus 9. The SCR Q4 continues to conduct to maintain the relay coil 16 energized until its anode is again grounded by momentary closure of the switch 6. Thus, it will be seen that the momentary closure of the switch 6 will bring about the playback of one of the serially recorded messages on the tape cartridge 13 with the period of silence between adjacent messages being utilized to interrupt power to the tape cartridge playback apparatus 9 until the switch 6 is again momentarily closed.
Those skilled in the art will recognize that, if the taped messages are carefully timed, a simpler timing circuit could be utilized which would cause the closure of the relay contacts 15 for a predetermined increment of time. However, it has been found in practice that it is difiicult to maintain proper timing over an extended period of use with the simple timing circuit such that the playback function may both start and stop during messages. Hence, the preferred embodiment of the invention contemplates the use of a timing circuit responsive to the period of silence between the prerecorded messages to shut off the tape cartridge playback apparatus 9.
As previously mentioned, the tape cartridge 13 is preferably of the endless type with messages recorded on a plurality of tracks. The switch 17 is utilized to select the messages passing under the playback head 18 or the messages passing under the playback head 19 such that the period between tape cartridge exchanges may be doubled. It is contemplated that cartridges with different messages are to be circulated among a number of vending machines according to a predetermined schedule and that the switch 17 will be thrown to its alternate position at a time intermediate cartridge exchange.
In an exemplary embodiment o the invention, the following components of the timing circuit are utilized:
resistor 24 4.7 K
resistor 25 33 K resistor 26 4.7 K
resistor 27 4.7 K
resistor 2') l K resistor 30 K (for 0.5 seconds delay) resistor 32 47 ohms resistor 33 4.7 K
capacitor23 2 microfarads 0.25 microfarads 50 microfarads capacitor 28 capacitor 3| diodes 2i and 22 lN9l4 transistor 01 2N27l2 transistor 02 2N27l2 unijunctlon translator ()3 2N4870 silicon controlled rectifier ZNSOfil) relay coil l6 DC low current, 6 volts reclruirements without departing from those principles.
1. An audio annunicating system comprising:
A. tape cartridge playback apparatus including an amplifier;
B. a speaker coupled to said amplifier for audibly reproducing signals recorded on a tape cartridge when said tape cartridge playback apparatus is energized;
C. a power source for said tape cartridge playback apparatus;
D. a set of relay contacts in circuit with said power source and said tape cartridge playback apparatus;
E. a relay coil for switching said relay contacts from a first position to a second position when an energizing signal is applied across said relay coil, only one of said first and second contact positions permitting energy flow from said power source to said tape cartridge playback apparatus;
F. a momentary closure switch for instituting a cycle of operation of the audio annunicating system; and
C. a timing circuit in circuit with said relay coil and responsive to the actuation of said momentary closure switch for changing the state of energization of said relay coil such that said relay contacts assume the position permitting energy flow from said power source to said tape cartridge playback apparatus, said timing circuit being coupled to said amplifier and responsive to the absence of a signal from said amplifier for a predetermined period to change the state of energization of said relay coil such that said relay coil such that said relay contacts assume the position alternate to the one of said positions which permits energy flow from said power source to said tape cartridge playback apparatus, said timing circuit comprising:
1. a first amplifier stage, said first amplifier stage having input terminals and output terminals, said input terminals being coupled to said amplifiers in parallel with said speaker;
2. said first amplifier stage including a clipping circuit for limiting the amplitude of the signal thereto, said clipping circuit comprising back-to-back diodes disposed across said input terminals;
3. a second amplifier having input terminals and output terminals;
4. a low pass audio filter coupling said output terminals of said first amplifier stage to said input terminals of said second amplifier stage for attenuating tape hiss and noise in the higher audio frequencies from the signal;
5. a pulse-forming stage having input terminals and out put terminals;
6. a resistor/capacitor charging circuit coupling the output terminals of said second amplifier stage to the input terminals of said pulse-forming stage, said capacitor charging and discharging equally when said second amplifier stage issues an amplified alternating signal;
7. means for charging said capacitor in a predetermined polarity in the absence of an alternating signal from said second amplifier stage;
8. said pulse-forming stage comprising an active element normally biased off and including means responsive to a predetermined minimum charge on said capacitor in said predetermined polarity to bias said active element momentarily on whereby a pulse issues from the output terminals of said pulse-forming stage; and
9. a silicon-controlled rectifier coupled in series with said relay coil for issuing said energizing signal to said relay coil, said silicon-controlled rectifier having a gate electrode coupled to said pulse-forming stage to receive pulses therefrom, said pulses firing said silicon-controlled rectifier causing said energizing signal to issue therefrom.
2. The audio annunciating system of claim I in which said tape cartridge playback apparatus includes a plurality of playback heads for sensing a corresponding plurality of recorded tracks and further includes a channel selection switch for selecting a single one of said plurality of playback heads as the input to said amplifier.