US 3721983 A
A signal balloon is provided for use by hunters, boatsmen and the like to attract searchers when the hunter or boatsman is lost or in distress. A brightly colored translucent balloon containing radar reflective material is attached to a cannister containing a battery and bulb for illuminating the balloon from inside and is formed with a charging chamber to receive a cylinder of helium and operating through a valve by which the balloon may be inflated. A line is attached to the casing for holding or anchoring inflated balloon.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
limited States Patent 1 1 1 1 3,721,983 Sheret' 51March 20, 1973 1 SIGNAL BALLOON 3,002,490 10/1961 Murray ..116/124 B  Inventor: Osborn Shel-er, Box 134, Stratham,
1,013,932 l/l9l2 Fleming ..285/DIG. 2  Filed: June 8, 1970 Primary ExaminerMalcolm F. Hubler  Appl. No.: 44,153 Attorney-Morse, Altman & Oates 521 US. c1. ..343/l8 B, 1 16/124 B 1 ABSTRACT Int- Cl. ..G01S A ignal balloon is provided for use hunters boat of Search 8 l smen and the to attract earchers when the hunter 285/DIG- 2 or boatsman is lost or in distress. A brightly colored translucent balloon containing radar reflective materi- References Cited al is attached to a cannister containing a battery and bulb for illuminating the balloon from inside and is UNITED STATES PATENTS formed with a charging chamber to receive a cylinder 2,619,303 11/1952 Martin ....343/18 B of helium and operating through a valve by which the 2,646,019 7/1953 Chet1an..... ....343/18 B balloon may be inflated. A line is attached to the cas- 2,830,309 4/1958 Lawson ..1 16/12 B ing for holding or anchoring inflated balloon. 1,450,857 4/1923 Johnson ....285/D1G. 2 3,046,575 7/1962 Davis et a1. ..1 16/124 B 2 Claims, 5 Drawing Figures ii 26 22 44 38 24 64 40 52 56-' 3O 1 Z v a v 1.
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ATTORNEY 1 SIGNAL BALLOON BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention This invention relates generally to signalling devices and more particularly is directed towards a new and improved signal balloon for aiding in the locating of lost hunters, boatsmen, hikers and the like.
2. Summary of the Prior Art From time to time hunters, hikers, boatsmen and other personnel become lost or require assistance by reason of sickness, injury or the like. Since hunters and sailors in small craft seldom are equipped with radio transmitters they normally must rely upon their own ingenuity or luck in attracting the attention of a search party. An organized search effort may not begin for some hours or even days after the need arises by reason of the party not being missed by friends'or relatives. In most instances, once a search has been instituted it is usually suspended during night time and during foggy weather. While various signal devices have been employed for use in these circumstances none has been entirely satisfactory for various reasons. For example, ground markers require a clearing in woods and have but limited visibility, simple balloons must be visually spotted and are of no use at night time. Also, radio transmitting devices are generally quite expensive and cumbersome.
Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide a new and improved signalling device for use in attracting the attention of a search party or others to a person requiring assistance. Another object of this invention is to provide a signal balloon whichis illuminated for use in night time and which is radar reflective whereby radar may be used to detect and locate the party requiring assistance.
A further object of this invention is to provide a low cost, compact signal balloon kit which may be easily carried on theperson and readily inflated when the need arises.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION This invention features a signalling device comprised of a balloon, preferably fluorescent colored and containing radar reflective metal particles such as aluminum powder, for example. The mouth of the balloon is connected to a cannister containing a bulb extending into the interior of the balloon and electrically connected to a battery for use in night time signalling. A chamber is provided in the casing for receiving a cartridge of helium or the like and a valve and needle are positioned to release gas from the cartridge for inflating the balloon. A line is attached to the cannister for anchoring the inflated balloon to the ground or boat, for example.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a view in perspective of a signal balloon made according to the invention and in typical use,
FIG. 2 is a view similar to FIG. I but showing a modification thereof,
FIG. 3 is a sectional view in side elevation showing details in the construction of the cannister,
FIG. 4 is a fragmentary sectional view in side elevation showing a modified valve assembly, and,
FIG. 5 is a plan view of the invention in kit form.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS Referring now to the drawings and to FIG. I in particular, the reference character 10 generally indicates an inflated signal balloon floating above the ground and anchored by means of line 12, preferably a monofilament line which is light and strong with little bulk. The line is anchored to the ground or held by the person who may be lost or injured in the woods, for example, or adrift on the water as suggested in FIG. 2. The signal balloon is comprised of a balloon potion 14 the mouth of which is tightly sealed to a cannister 16 to which the line 12 is secured. The balloon 14 preferably is relatively large when inflated, on the order of perhaps three feet in diameter for a spherical balloon such as shown in FIG. 1. The size of the balloon is not critical but should be sufficient to raise the cannister 16 to an elevation of perhaps 200 feet or more according to the length of the line 12. The balloon 14, in the preferred embodiment, is brightly colored preferably with a fluorescent orange and an additional marking such as a black cross 18 may be provided so that an observer will realize that the balloon is a distress signal.
In the preferred form of the invention, the balloon material is impregnated with radar reflective particles such as aluminum powder or flakes, for example. The balloon material may be rubber, plastic or the like and may be lined with an epoxy film or the like to aid in retaining the helium for an extended period. The balloon is formed with 'a neck portion 20 terminating in an open mouth secured about the upper end of the cylindrical cannister 16 as by a clamp 22.
The cannister 16 is comprised of a tubular cylindrical body portion 24 housing at its upper end a flashlight unit 26 and at its lower end a cartridge 28 of helium or the like. A valve assembly 30 is provided in the midportion of the cannister.
The flashlight unit 26 is organized about an annular cap or collar 32 the outer depending flange of which is threaded to the upper end of the body portion 24 while the inner neck portion is tapped to receive a bulb 34 threaded thereto. The annular cap 32 is formed with vents 36 through which the inflating gas is passed into the interior of the balloon 14. A battery 38 is contained within a receptacle 40 threaded onto the central neck of the cap 32. A resilient O-ring 42 may be provided between the cap 32 and the upper end of the body portion 24 to seal against loss of gas. In practice, a conductive spring or other resilient member 44 is provided at the base of the receptacle 40 to urge the battery into electrical contact with the base of the bulb.
The valve assembly 30 includes an annular block 46 formed with a conical lower face 48 and a central vertical passage 50 in which is mounted a needle valve 52 urged into a normally closed position by means of a spring 54. The needle valve 52 is formed at its upper end with an enlarged head or disc 56 which seats against the shouldered upper portion of the passage 50. The lower end of the valve element 52 is formed with a pointed tip 58 extending from a shoulder portion 60 and adapted to pierce the diaphragm across the mouth of a sealed cylinder 28 containing the charge of helium or other lighter than air gas. An O-ring 62 may be provided about the wall 48 to seal against the top of the cartridge 28 when the gas is being released. Mounted between the upper end of the valve block 46 and the lower end of the battery receptacle 26 is a ported spacer 64 which may be formed separately from or integral with the receptacle 26 to provide a passageway for the gas released from the cartridge 28, through the valve, so as to pass up and along the annular chamber formed between the battery receptacle and the wall of the cannister up through the ports 36 and then into the balloon.
At the lower end of the cannister is a baling handle 66 pivoted to the casing and carrying a screw 68. It will be understood that the cartridge 28 is loaded into the cannister by swinging the handle 66 clear of the open lower end of the cannister and inserting the cartridge. Once in position, the handle is swung back across the opening and the screw 68 is tightened up against the base of the cartridge, forcing the needle tip 58 to puncture the cartridge diaphragm to release the gas. When the gas is released it will open the needle valve to fill the balloon and once the balloon is filled the pressure within the balloon and the force of the spring 54 will cause the valve to close itself to permit the cartridge 28 to be extracted and thereby reduce the weight of the unit.
Referring now more particularly to FIG. 4 there is illustrated a modification of the invention and in this embodiment a valve assembly 70 is in the form of a block 72 having a central recess 74 adapted to receive the upper end of a cartridge 28' with a needle 76 fixed to register and puncture the diaphragm of the cartridge when pressed into seating engagement against an O- ring 78. The block 72 is formed with a passage 80 through which the released gas passes, the passage 80 being equipped with a ball valve 82 seating in a conical lower end of the passage to serve as a check valve for the unit. As before, a ported spacer 84 is provided above the block to allow the gas to pass up and around the battery receptacle.
In practice, when the unit is to be put to use, if at night time, the battery and lamp are placed in position and turned on, the balloon is inflated and raised up by the line. The illuminated interior of the lamp will provide a brilliant visual signal which may be seen for a considerable distance at night and coupled with the radar reflecting particles in the balloon also provides a radar echo detectable over a considerable range. The radar reflecting characters of the balloon thus permit searching to be carried on in day and night and even in foggy or overcast weather. The balloon may be provided in the spherical shape of FIG. 1 or in an elongated configuration shown in FIG. 2 as desired. The spherical shape offers a larger viewing target where searching is carried out by airplane whereas the elongated balloon of FIG. 2 tends to be more visible where searching is carried on the ground.
The unit may be conveniently packaged in a small plastic or cloth envelope as in FIG. 5 for ease of carrying or storage.
Having thus described the invention what I claim and desire to obtain by Letters Patent of the United States 1. A signal balloon, comprising a. an inflatable balloon having an open-ended neck portion,
b. an elongated tubular cannister secured at one end to said balloon in said neck ortion, c. a perforated cap threaded 0 said one end of said cannister,
d. said cannister being formed'with axially aligned upper and lower chambers said upper chamber being adjacent to said balloon,
e. a battery case mounted in said upper chamber threaded to said cap and defining an annular passage with the walls of said cannister from said lower chamber to said balloon,
f. said cap being formed with a socket for mounting a bulb at the end of said cannister extending into said balloon for interior illumination thereof,
g. said lower chamber being adapted to receive a cylinder of gas axially inserted therein,
h. valve means disposed between said upper and lower chambers,
i. said valve means including a spring-loaded pointed element positioned to puncture the diaphragm of the gas cylinder inserted in said lower chamber whereby gas will be released from said cylinder through said valve means along said passage and into said balloon,
j. a baling handle pivoted to the lower end of said cannister and a screw threaded thereto adapted to bear against the end of said cylinder in said chamber for forcing the opposite end thereof against said pointed element, and,
k. a line secured to said cannister for anchoring said balloon.
2. A signal balloon according to claim 1 wherein said balloon includes radar reflective material and a visual marking.