US 3613945 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent 1,648,774 11 1927 Maxwell"...
2,956,660 10/1960 Nordquist 221/301 X 3,151,773 10/1964 Pickering 221/251 X 3,294,286 12/1966 Zibbell 221/295 3,464,589 9/1969 Oden 221/295 3,498,497 3/1970 Baxendale et a1 221/295 X Primary Examiner-Lloyd L. King Assistant Examiner'l'homas C. Culp, Jr. Attorney-Davis, Lucas, Brewer & Brugman ABSTRACT: Solenoid-operated vend and feed gates interlocked with a linkage-actuated cam which is responsive to periodic actuation of an electrical solenoid; the mechanism being unified as a removable compact module located at the discharge end of a storage rack containing canned goods; the same being operable, in response to customer selection and preconditioning coin deposit, to dispose canned items one at a time and position a succeeding canned item in a vend or release position.
CAN-VENDING AND FEED MECHANISM This invention is directed generally to automatic vending machines and more particularly to improvements in mechanisms for selectively releasing and delivering unitary items from a stored supply in response to appropriate item selection and deposit of coins while positively preventing discharge and delivery of more than one item for each purchase.
Automatic vending of canned and bottled goods from conveniently located vending machines is a familiar part of the American economy. Typically, such machines are adapted to vend canned or bottled beverages from a supply thereof normally stored in a suitable storage compartment in response to the deposit of predetermined coin value and item selection by the purchasing customer. An age-old problem of the proprietor of such an automatic vending machine lies in preventing pilfering or jackpotting of the mechanism whereby articles are obtained by unscrupulous persons without the deposit of the predetermined coin value. This problem is particularly vexatious in the case of automatic can vending machines which are normally operated without the benefit of a policing attendant. It is essential therefore in the successful commercial operation of machines of this category that delivery or vending mechanisms employed therein be essentially tamperproof to avoid pilfering or jackpotting of the vended items.
An additional problem confronting both the manufacturer and operator of such coin operated vending machines lies in the area of maintenance repairs. In the past, canned vending mechanisms presented to the art have involved rather complicated and intricate workings, normally mounted in permanent or semipermanent fashion in the machine and thereby complicating or, in certain cases, preventing field repair of the vending mechanism. In recognition of this defect, certain past efforts addressed to this problem have provided means for the relatively easy removal of the vending mechanism parts most susceptible to wear, jamming and breakage thereby permitting some degree of convenience in field repair. Nevertheless, such past efforts have not proven to be economically successful nor have they avoided the need for skilled repairmen capable of performing the time-consuming and complicated repair operations.
In recognition of the foregoing, the present invention is directed to improvements in vending mechanisms, particularly of the type directed to the regulated feeding and release of generally cylindrical items one by one, such as in a canneddrink vending machine, whereby selected items may be released for delivery to the customer in response to the deposit of a designated single item purchase coin value. Of additional importance the present invention provides an improved and simplified vending mechanism of the above order which is unified as a removable module or unit for use in conjunction with a storage rack or means and which is capable of being readily removed and replaced, even by one of little or no skill. As a consequence the broken unit may be thereafter transferred to a central location for repair by a skilled mechanic while at the same time its removability satisfies the required field repair need.
In brief, the present invention is particularly featured by an electromechanical system embodying an electrically operated solenoid capable of periodically actuating pivotal cam means positioned to responsively actuate a pair of gate members, one for effecting the release of a canned article to a below disposed delivery chute with substantially vertical gravity impulse drop, while the other gate sequentially prevents additional canned items from entering a position for discharge by the first gate and subsequently feeds a single can into such position. Switch means are associated with the mechanism for electrically coupling the same to other control systems of the vending machine, particularly the discharge chute which contains a delivery switch located in the path of the canned items and responds to the passage thereof to the customer. Such delivery switch serves to deenergize the vending solenoid and position a succeeding can in a release or discharge condition for the next vend cycle.
An important object of this invention is to provide an improved vending mechanism for coin-operated vending machines particularly of the car-vending type.
An additional important object of this invention is to provide an improved vending mechanism as aforesaid having means for positively holding, releasing and feeding single stored items according to customer selection.
A further object of this invention is to provide improved electromechanical apparatus for selectively releasing and discharging unitary items from a storage supply thereof and which mechanism is organized as the removable unitary module.
Another important object of this invention is to provide improved vending mechanism for coin-operated can-vending machines or similar automated equipment which is productive of improved economies of manufacture or assembly and which is dependable and relatively maintenance free in operation.
Having thus described the present invention, the above and further objects, features and advantages thereof will appear from the hereinafter set forth description of the best mode presently contemplated for carrying out its features so as to enable persons of normal skill in this art to practice the same and which preferred embodiment is illustrated in the accompanying drawings.
In the drawings:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a can-vending machine embodying mechanism according to the present invention;
FIG. 2 is an enlarged rear elevational view of the vending mechanism of this invention showing the organization and relationship of parts therein;
FIG. 3 is a side elevational view thereof with parts in cross section taken substantially along vantage line 3-3 of FIG. 2 and looking in the direction of the arrows thereon;
FIG. 4 is an enlarged perspective view showing the organizational relationship of the vending mechanism of this invention with the storage magazine of the vending machine in FIG. I and illustrating the modular mounting and release features thereof:
FIG. 5 is a view in side elevation of the vending mechanism and related portions of the vending machine taken substantially from vantage line 5-5 of FIG. 1, showing the mechanism in a standby or ready to vend condition;
FIG. 6 is another side elevational view, similar to FIG. 5 showing the vending mechanism in discharging operation; and
FIG. 7 is a partial view in cross section of the delivery end of a storage magazine associated with the vending mechanism shown in FIGS. 5 and 6.
Turning now to the particulars of the preferred embodiment of this invention illustrated in the drawings, reference is initially made to FIG. I of the drawings wherein a typical canvending machine, indicated generally at 10 includes an exterior upright cabinet I I, having insulated and enclosing top, bottom, side and back walls and a hinged front wall forming panel door 12. The door is provided with a customer accessible vending stage 13 which communicates with interiorally disposed discharge chute and hopper means I4 disposed adjacently beneath the lower ends of a plurality of vertically upright and side-by-side disposed storage magazines l515. A can-opening station 16 is provided in the door 12 and a plurality of selector pushbutton and vending-switch operators 17 are provided generally across the upper frontal regions of panel door 12; each such button being associated with a particular canned product. A coin-receiving slot I8 is provided in the front door panel in conventional fashion for depositing coins in accordance with the price of the selected product.
At the base or lower end portion of each of the several storage magazines I5-15, is an individual modular vending mechanism 20 according to this invention (see FIGS. 1 and 7); each such vending mechanism being adapted to selectively release, one by one, a selected item from the overdisposed and associated storage magazine 15 for delivery to the vending stage 13 via hopper 14 in response to the required coin deposit by the customer and the manual actuation of a selector pushbutton 17 associated with the selected item.
Turning now to the particulars of the improved vending mechanism 20, reference is specifically made to FIGS. 2, 3 and 4 of the drawings. As best shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, each such mechanism 20 comprises a modular assembly or unit including housing bracket formed with a generally elongated vertical elevation and a generally U-shaped cross-sectional configuration to present a pair of parallel-spaced planar sidewalls 26 and 27 (see FIG. 2) interjoined by a planar front wall 28 (see FIG. 4). The two sidewalls 26 and 27 are not identically configured, but are basically so. Preferrably the mounting bracket is formed of stamped sheet metal to provide adequate rigidity and strength for carrying the various components of the mechanism 20, a matter readily determinable by good design practice.
Adjacent the upper reaches of the left-hand sidewall 26 is a pivotal latch member 29 pivotally joined by rivet or fastener 30 to the inner face 31 of wall 26 so as to lie adjacently parallel therewith. One outer end of the latch member comprises a manually engageable portion 32 which is operationally exposed outwardly of the front wall 28 of the mounting bracket and which is provided with a suitable slotted opening 33 for the passage of the latch member therethrough and to accommodate its pivoting movement in operation. The inner or opposite end of the latch member is formed with a hook portion 34 to which is fastened a tensioning spring 35 (see FIG. 2) serving normally to bias the latch into an upper locking position as illustrated in FIG. 2. Intermediate the ends of the latch member and along the upper edge thereof is a latching lobe portion 36, immediately adjacent keeper portion 37 fonned on sidewall 26. Lobe 36 cooperates with keeper 37 when the latch is in its upwardly biased position (see FIG. 3) to lock the housing with a rod member 40 extending between paralleldisposed sidewalls 41-41 of the magazine means 15 (see FIG. 4). Wall 27 similarly is provided with keeper portion 37 to cooperate with the rod means 40 in latching the housing bracket to rod 40. Additional keeper hook portions 43-43 also are provided near the lower front corner of each of the sidewalls 26 and 27 again as best shown in FIG. 4 of the drawings. The latter indicated portions cooperate with a second horizontally disposed rod 44, again extending between and having connection with the parallel-disposed sidewalls 41-41 of the magazine.
As best seen in FIG. 4 the front wall 28 of the housing bracket is equipped with a central access opening 45, provided with a pivotally supported enclosure shield 46 mounted on a projecting wingnut and post 47 to swing over opening 45. This arrangement permits access through wall 28 for manually engaging and exercising a solenoid 50 mounted immediately behind wall 28, as will be amplified in greater detail hereinafter.
As best illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 3, the solenoid 50 is mounted between the upper reaches of the bracket sidewalls 26 and 27 and is secured to the inside face of the front wall 28, as by a plurality of machine screws 51-51 (see FIG. 4) and cooperating sets of locating ears 52-52 and 53-53 as best shown in FIG. 2, struck inwardly from wall 28 to engage the solenoid mounting bracket 54. The solenoid 50 includes an electromagnetic core winding 55 connected by conductors 56 and 57 to a female plug 58 mounted in and extending through a mounting platform portion 59 extending through a mounting platform portion 59 extending at right angles to the plane of sidewall 27 of the housing bracket 25. A movable core member 60 (see FIG. 3) extends downwardly through the core winding 55 and is formed with a laterally extending and projecting yoke portion 61 near the lower end thereof which is adapted to engage a stop ear portion 62 struck inwardly from the front wall portion 28 of the housing to limit downward movement of the solenoid core in operation (see FIG. 3).
The core member 60 of the solenoid is preferably formed of laminated construction comprising a plurality of ferromagnetic plates, according to familiar practice, with the outside plates thereof extending or depending past the yoke portion 61 to comprise a pair of parallel-spaced pivotal connector portions 63-63 (see FIG. 2). A solenoid pin 64 extends between and passes through the two connector portions 63 and serves to pivotally and join the same to the upper end of a pivotal solenoid linkage system 65 (see FIGS. 5 and 6). A solenoid guard comprising a U-shaped member, indicated generally at 66 in FIGS. 2 and 3 is connected to the inside face of the front wall 28 for the mounting bracket by machine screws 67-67 and extends about the lower depending portion of the solenoid core to deter tampering or engagement with such core member.
A substantially triangular-shaped deflector member 68 (see FIG. 3) also is affixed to the lower end of the right-hand connector portion 63 (see FIG. 2) as shown to prevent tampering engagement of the solenoid core as by hooking a wire thereto thrust upwardly through mechanism 20 via the vending stage opening 13; a practice prevalent with those who seek to pilfer from a vending machine of the order illustrated.
Linkage means 65, as best shown in FIG. 2 of the drawings, comprises a pair of parallel-spaced identically configured transfer links 70-70 which have their upper ends pivotally joined by pivot pin 64 to the movable solenoid core 60. A third link 71 is disposed between the two transfer links 70-70 and pivotally joined thereto by a rivet connector 73 so as to permit the link 71 to move relative to the link members 70- 70. The pivotal action of link 73 permits the same to act as a gravity-actuated lock member 84 assuming an angular disposition with respect to the link member 70-70. So disposed (see FIG. 3) its upper end 74 underengages the stop portion 62 extending inwardly of the bracket wall 28 when the mechanism 20 is in its standby condition as illustrated.
The lower end of link member 71 is joined by pivot pin 75 to a connector ear portion 76 depending from a control cam member 80. As best shown in FIG. 3 the axis of pin 75 is offset to one side and below the axis of the rivet 73 which joins the third link 71 to the two transfer link members 70-70 in the deenergized or standby condition for the solenoid. Upon energization of the latter, upward movement of its core member 60 serves to coalign the axes of the pivot 73 and pin 75 on a common vertical axis (see FIGS. 5 and 6) whereby the locking activity of the third link terminates. More particularly end 74 of link 71 moves to a noninterfering position with stop portion 62, thereby permitting upward movement of the solenoid core and linkage means 65. On the other hand if one attempts to thrust upwardly on the solenoid core or pivot the cam member 80 downwardly in an attempt to raise the solenoid core, the normal gravity-imposed locking position of the link member 71 effectively prevents such an attempt.
As best understood by reference to FIGS. 2 and 3 of the drawings, the cam member 80 comprises a unified stamped member comprising a central planar platform portion 81 having a pair of planar cam arm positions 82-82 formed at right angles to and at the opposite lateral margins of the platform portion. Consequently, the cam member 80 has a substantially U-shaped cross-sectional configuration. Mounting shaft 84 extends through and between the sidewalls 26 and 27 of the housing bracket 25 and through appropriate openings in the cam arm portions 82-82 to pivotally support the cam member 80 for movement about the axis of shaft 84, intermediate bracket walls 26 and 27 and beneath the solenoid means 50. Bearing spacers 85-85 are carried on the pivot shaft 84 between the two sidewalls 26 and 27 of the housing bracket and adjacent opposing faces of the cam arm portions 82-82 to maintain the desired positioning of the cam member.
Pivotal activity of the cam member about shaft 84 takes place in response to energization and deenergization of the solenoid means 50 for purposes which will appear presently.
As best shown in FIGS. 3, 5 and 6, each of the cam arm portions 82 presents a pair of cam surfaces comprising end edges and 91 thereof located respectively at the left and right ends of the arm portions as viewed in FIG. 3. The left-hand arm portion 92, as viewed in FIG. 2 of the drawings, actuates an adjacent switch means 93 mounted on the inside face of bracket wall 27. Switch 93 actuates a holding circuit for the solenoid means 50 in response to upward movement of the adjacent control cam edge 90 thereagainst as effected by initial energization of the solenoid means.
Additionally, the cam edges 90 of the two arm portions 82 cooperate with a set of adjacent rollers 9595 rotatably mounted on a shaft 96 adjacently beneath the outer end of each of the cam arm portions 82-82. Movement of the cam edges 90 over rollers 96 serves to pivotally actuate a hold gate 97 formed as a stamping of substantially U-shaped cross section to include a central planar platform portion 98 having mounting arm portions 9999 extending upwardly from opposite lateral margins thereof. Arm portions 99 receive the pivot shaft 96 for supporting the cam-following rollers 95 95. The hold gate 97 is mounted beneath the cam member 80 and includes a planar stop finger portion 100 extending upwardly from the outer movable end of platform portion 98 thereof (see FIG. 3). Gate 97 also is formed with a pair of opposing mounting ear portions 101 at the inner ends of arm portions 9999 thereof which depend beneath the plane of platform portion 98. Such ear portions 101 each mount a bearing member 102 receptive of a vending shaft 103 which extends between the sidewalls 26 and 27 and is secured in place to pivotally support the hold gate 97 for movement thereabout.
A gate spring 104 is mounted about the vend shaft 103 and has a pair of spaced-arm portions 105 engaging the under side of platform 98 for the hold gate and an additional U-shaped arm portion 106 which engages the vending gate member 110. Spring 104 serves to bias the vend gate counterclockwise as viewed in FIG. 3 with counterclockwise pivotal movement of the hold gate 97, effected by downward movement of the control edge 90 over rollers 95. This action obtains upon energization of the solenoid means 50 which raises core 60 to pivot the cam member 80 counterclockwise about shaft 84, as viewed in FIG. 3.
The secondary cam edges 91 formed at the inner or righthand end of the cam arm portions as viewed in FIG. 3, engage a set of follower rollers 111-111 supported on shaft 112 extending between a pair of laterally spaced and paralleldisposed side arm portions 113 of the vend gate 110. Arm portions 113 extend from opposite margins of a central body portion 114 having a can-engaging tongue 115 at its outer end. The base or inner ends of arm portions 113 are distinguished by semicircular lobe portions 116 receptive of shaft 103, whereby the gate 110 is pivotally mounted.
In response to upward movement of the solenoid core 60, the vend gate 110 moves from its normal at rest position (shown in dotted lines and FIG. 6) to its full line vending or item release position illustrated therein. The position for vend gate 110 shown in FIG. 3 is its normal at rest condition, with the solenoid means 50 deenergized. As indicated best in the latter figure the tongue portion 115 of the vend gate member 110, extends angularly outwardly from a main body portion 114 to tangentially engage a can in discharge position at the bottom end of a magazine 15.
As a further safeguard to discourage tampering with the mechanism and particularly with the cam member 80, front wall 28 of the housing bracket includes a planar guard portion 120 which extends inwardly at right angles to the plane of wall 28 and beneath the pivotal mounting shaft 103 for the vend gate and stop gate. Guard portion 120 also extends inwardly a distance sufficient to underlie the linkage system 65 and thereby provides a virtually impenetrable barrier to one seeking to engage such linkage or the cam member 80.
Having thus described the various elemental portions of the improved mechanism 20 according to this invention, its operation in vending canned items from a machine of the order illustrated at in FIG. 1 will be described. To this end, reference is made to FIGS. 5-7 of the drawings. As indicated in FIG. 5 the mechanism according to this invention is conditioned in a normal standby position ready for the initiation of a vend cycle by the customer's deposit of a selected coin value and the appropriate selection of the desired canned beverage to be delivered. Selection activity, as previously mentioned, is initiated by pushing a selector switch pushbutton 17. When the customer depresses the pushbutton selecting a desired beverage, solenoid 50 is energized. This raises the core means 60 thereof and swings cam means in a counterclockwise direction from its FIG. 5 position. This activity effects cam operation of the vend gate 110, also in a counterclockwise rotational sense, to withdraw the same from a can 125 resting against the vend gate and the bottom wall of the magazine delivery chute 126.
Preconditioning the above operation is controlled by a soldout switch 127 located over the chute wall 126 and engageable by the canned beverages passing therebeneath (see FIG. 7). In the event there is no ready supply of cans in chute 126, the soldout switch 127 is opened and thereupon electrically isolates the solenoid means 50, preventing its operation. The customer is also signalled to make another selection.
It will be noted that positioning of the can 125 to be released by the gate means 110, as seen in FIG. 5, is such as to permit the can to drop substantially vertically downwardly as soon as the vend gate 110 moves to the full or release position which thereby gravitationally releases the can into the discharge hopper 14, allowing the same to roll along such hopper to the customer accessible vending stage 13. Meanwhile, as illustrated best in FIG. 6, in response to the counterclockwise semirotational action or movement of the vend gate 110, the hold gate 97 moves from a noninterfering position with respect to the cans in chute 126 (see FIG. 5) to an interferring position, blocking movement of the next can 125a and preventing such can from assuming a discharge position (see FIG. 6). As the released can 125 passes along hopper 14, it interferingly engages delivery switch 128, and as it passes therebeneath switch 128 is momentarily operated, removing power to the vend solenoid means 50. At this point, the vending mechanism 20, particularly the solenoid means 50 thereof, is returned to its standby position. In doing so, core means 60 moves downwardly, returning the vend gate 110 to its initial standby position and at the same time swinging the cam means 80 to move edge cam portions thereof out of engagement with rollers to release the hold gate 97. This release of the hold gate permits the latter to move upwardly in a clockwise sense, as urged by spring means 104. In doing so, the hold gate releases the blocked can a permitting the latter to roll into a standby position at the mouth of chute 126, whereat the same rests between the end of chute I26 and the tongue portion 114 of the vend gate. Mechanism '20 is therefore conditioned for the next vend cycle whereat the above steps are repeated.
Of particular merit in the operational cycle of mechanism 20, is the substantially vertical gravity-imposed discharge drop of the cans in response to discharge movement of the vend gate. This action substantially prevents jamming and hangup of the can in the delivery chute as has been prevalent in previous devices of this general character in which the cans generally roll in a path inclined slightly from the horizontal through the vending discharge mechanism. It is also to be noted that it is virtually impossible to vend more than one can per vending cycle or electrical energization of the solenoid means 50 since the hold gate 97 is positively moved into a blocking condition with respect to the can succeeding the released can. Upon closing movement of the vend gate to its standby position such next succeeding can is positively cleared from the hold gate and proceeds by gravity to roll into release position.
It will be recalled that one of the novel objectives of this invention resides in providing a modular mechanism capable of ready removal particularly for field repair purposes. To that end the heretofore described detachable mounting system provided with the manually engageable latch means 32 permits the repairman to readily disconnect unit 20 from the two supporting rods 40 and 44 and replace the same. It will be readily understood by those familiar with vending machines of the character described that if a magazine means contains several cans, some means is needed to prevent emptying of the magazine before removing an associated module in order to avoid the chore of reloading the same. To this end, a can stop lever, indicated generally at 130 in FIG. 4 is provided. The can stop lever comprises a manually activated pivotally mounted arm, which has detent engagement with mounting rod 40 and is adapted upon selected actuation to swing inwardly to block the lowermost can in the magazine discharge chute 126. With the can stop lever in blocking position, then all cans in the serpentine magazine chute are held back and prevented from rolling out upon removal of the module 20. Any can in release position, such as can 125 illustrated in FIG. 5, however, is not blocked by lever 130. Such a can is selectively released by manually exercising the solenoid means 50. For this purpose the access shield 46 is swung to its open position as illustrated in FIG. 4. The operator may then insert his forefinger beneath the yoke of the solenoid core means and lift the latter which effectively swings the vend gate 110 and discharges a can 125 in release position. If desired the entire contents of a magazine may be dropped or released one by one in this fashion. It will be understood that in removing unit 20 it is merely necessary to detach the electrical connector from the female socket 58, release latch 32 and then lift the unit 20 from its supporting rods 40 and 44.
The present invention may obviously be embodied in other forms and applied to other fields of use without necessarily departing the potential attributes thereof.
1. For use in automatic coin-operated vending machines having one or more magazines for storing generally cylindrical canned items and each communicating at its lower end with a gravity feed chute having an open discharge end, a modular can vending and feed mechanism comprising: a unitary housing of substantially U-shape cross section formed with a pair of parallel-spaced sidewalls interjoined by a transversely related front wall and including means for mounting the same in a vertically upright position with the open back side thereof 0pposite the said open end of a said chute, manually operable latch means cooperating with portions of said housing and support portions of the vending machine for removably locking said housing in said upright position; electrically operated solenoid means mounted within said housing including vertically movable core means, first shaft means extending horizontally between said sidewalls beneath said solenoid means, cam means mounted on said first shaft means comprising a unitary member having a central planar platform portion and elongated arm portions extending outwardly therefrom, said first shaft extending through said arm portions and each of the latter having a pair of separate cam surfaces formed at the opposite ends thereof; pivotal linkage means interconnecting said core means with said platform portion to effect pivotal response of said cam means in accordance with vertical movements of said core means, a second shaft means extending horizontally between said sidewalls below said cam means, hold gate means pivotally mounted on said second shaft means and carrying follower means engageable with the cam surfaces at one end of said arm portions, vend gate means pivotally mounted on said second shaft means beneath said hold gate means and having a depending planar tongue portion and carrying second follower means engageable with the cam surfaces at the other end of said arm portions, spring means resiliently biasing said vend and hold gate means apart and serving to resiliently press said follower means thereon into following engagement with said cam surfaces; said hold gate normally overhanging the said end of said chute and movable toward and away from said chute in operation; said vend gate means being normally disposed outwardly of and below said outer end of said chute for movement toward and away therefrom; movement of said hold gate means toward said chute serving to block passage of items to the outer end of said chute while movement of said vend gate means away from said chute serves to release an item previously positioned between said outer end and said tongue portion and permit the same to fall vertically downwardly; said cam means effecting simultaneous movement of said hold gate means toward and said vend gate means away from said chute upon energization of said solenoid means and reverse movement thereof upon deenergization of said solenoid means, said reverse movement serving to release items previously blocked by said hold gate means whereby to gravitationally feed a single item past the outer end of said chute whereat the same is held by said tongue portion until said solenoid means is energized.
2. The invention of claim I and gravity-actuated lock means associated with said linkage means, operable to underengage a portion of the front wall of said housing and positively lock said core means against upward movement except by the application of upward vertical pulling force on said linkage means effective to coalign said lock means and linkage means.