US 3722739 A
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mite States Patent 1191 Blumberg 154] PILL DISPENSER HAVING CLOCKWORK FOR PERIODIC DISPENSING  Inventor: Martin Blumberg, Devon Valley Est ates V Stellenbosch, Cape Province, Republic of South Africa 22 Filed: Mar.22,197l
21 Appl.No.: 126,526
 Foreign Application Priority Data Mar. 23, 1970 Republic of South Africa 1977 [521 U.S. Cl. ....22l/3, 116/121, 221/15  Int. Cl. ..B65b 57/18  Field of Search ..221/15, 16, 3; 222/70;
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS Harris ..221 15 1 Mar. 27, 1973 Hanna ..221/15 11/1957 Kinnebrew ..221/15 X Primary Examiner-Stanley I-I. Tollberg Assistant ExaminerDavid A. Scherbel Att0meyWaters, Roditi, Schwartz & Nissen 57 ABSTRACT This invention relates to a pill dispenser which is convenient to carry in a pocket or handbag. The dispenser is generally circular and has internally an annular ring of pockets for the pills. Two annular members cover the ring of pockets and have windows which register to expose any one pocket. A device controlled by a clockwork timing mechanism prevents movement of the inner of the members into register with a further pocket until a pre-set time interval has expired.
10 Claims, 16 Drawing Figures PILL DISPENSER HAVING CLOCKWORK FOR PERIODIC DISPENSING THIS invention relates to dispensers and is concerned with dispensers adapted to dispense items successively each after a certain minimum time interval. Such a dispenser may comprise a plurality of containment means for one or more of the items, exposure means operable to expose successively the containment means, so that the item or items in each said containment means may be successively removed therefrom, operation prevention means which when in the one position prevents the operation of the exposure means while when in a second position allows such operation to take place, and a timing mechanism, normally a clockwork mechanism, which is arranged to allow the operation prevention means to move into the second position after the passage of the time interval. A dispenser having the features set out in the preceding sentence is hereinafter referred to as a dispenser of the kind set forth.
According to one aspect of this invention there is provided a dispenser of the kind set forth including energizing means for the timing mechanism, which energizing means are actuated on exposure or occultation of the containment means.
According to another aspect of the invention there is provided a dispenser of the kind set forth wherein the exposure means comprises a pair of members which are relatively movable when the operation prevention means is in the first position and which are connectable for movement together when the operation prevention means is in the second position, and wherein the members have windows movable into register with one another to expose the containment means as mentioned above.
The members are preferably rotatable and comprise annular portions lying one above the other. The containment means preferably each comprises a pocket, with the pockets arranged in a ring lying below the annular portions of the said members.
The operation prevention means preferably comprises a detent operatively connected to one of the members and being movable from a retracted first position to a projecting second position in which it may engage an abutment on the other of the members. Preferably the second of the members has to be moved through a large arc, that may conveniently be of the order of nearly 180, from the position in which the windows are in register to a position in which the abutment can engage the detent when the latter is in the second position.
The detent is preferably held in its first position by a latch member when the latter is in an operative position, the latch member being movable to the release position by the timing mechanism after the passage of the aforesaid time interval, and when it is in the release position allows the detent to move into the second position. The latch member is preferably biassed towards its operative position and is preferably held in the release position by engagement with the detent. Means are preferably provided to move the latch member out of engagement with the detent to allow it to return to its operative position, which means preferably comprise a cam member and a follower on the latch member, the cam member lifting the follower when the said one of the pair of members is moved relative to the containment means. The cam follower preferably engages a part fixed relative to the ring of pockets to prevent movement of the latch member and the said one of the members relative to the pockets when the latch member is in the operative position.
The said second of the annular members preferably has a handle formed thereon to facilitate manual rotation thereof. This member is preferably connected to the clockwork timing mechanism to energize the latter when the second member is being rotated to move the window in the second member into and out of register with the window in the first annular member. The timing mechanism may be connected to a, preferably audible, signalling device which is operated after the passage of the time interval mentioned above.
A preferred embodiment of the invention will now be described by way of example with reference to the accompanying drawings.
In the drawings:
FIG. 1 is a plan view of a container for use in the pill dispenser of the invention, the parts of the container on one side of the drawing being omitted to expose the pockets.
- FIG. 2 is a side view partially in section on line 22 of FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is a plan of a blanking ring for the dispenser,
FIG. 4 is a view in the direction of arrow 4 in FIG. 3,
FIG. 5 is an under plan of a winding and head member for the dispenser,
FIG. 6 is a plan of the winding and head member,
FIG. 7 is a plan of the release mechanism of the dispenser,
FIG. 8 is a view on arrow 8 of FIG. 7,
FIGS. 9, l1 and 13 are detail side views of the release mechanism in various stages of operation,
FIGS. 10, 12 and 14 are views taken from positions corresponding to line 10 10 on FIG. 9 of FIGS. 9, 11 and 13 respectively,
FIG. 15 is a section on line 15 15 of FIG. 5, and
FIG. 16 is a plan of the overwind protection device.
Referring now to the drawings, the pill dispenser there shown comprises a container 12, a clockwork timing and release mechanism 14, and exposure means comprising a blanking ring 16 and a winding and dispensing head member 18.
The container 12 (see FIGS. 1 and 2) The container 12 is generally dish-shaped and has an internal cylindrical wall 20 defining a central cylindrical recess 24 in which the release mechanism 14 is received and an annular space 25. Internal walls 22 extend radially outwardly from wall 22 to divide the annular space 25 into a number of containment means comprised by pockets 26 of identical dimensions. Pills to be dispensed are contained in these pockets 26. The inner ends of the radial walls 22 have narrow crosspieces or heads 23.
A central boss 27 is formed in the recess 24 and has a blind bore 28 to receive the winding shaft of the clockwork mechanism 14.
The cylindrical wall 20 is of generally saw tooth shape. At each pocket, the wall 20 has a flat surface 29, an inclined surface 30 leading to a triangular crest 32 and then a vertical surface 34 which drops down to the flat surface 29 adjacent the next pocket (see also FIGS.
l0, l2 and 14). The surfaces 30, 32 and 34 constitute cam surfaces.
The blanking ring 16 (see H03. 3 and 4) The blanking ring 16 comprises a thin pressed steel annulus of the same width as the annular space 25. A window 36 is formed in the ring 16, which window 36 is of the same dimensions as a pocket 26. At a location diametrically opposite the window 36, there is a cut-out recess 38 in the inner edge 40 of the ring 16.
An arcuate tongue 42 having a rounded nose 44 and subtending about 45 at the center of the ring is cutout of the ring 16 near the inner edge 40 and is sprung upwardly.
The winding and dispensing head member 18. (see FIGS. 5,6 and The winding and dispensing head member 18 is generally disc-like in shape having a centrally depressed portion 46 traversed by a diametral wall 48 which serves as a winding handle. The depressed portion 46 is of smaller diameter than the inner edge 40 of the ring 16. At the center of its underside, the portion 46 has a shallow recess 50 which serves the purpose to be described and a radial groove 51 extends to one side of the recess 50. A concentric rim S2 surrounds the portion 46 on the undersurface of the head member 18. A gate 54 is formed in the rim 52 at the end of groove 51 and is bounded by a vertical wall 56 and a sloping wall 58.
An annular area 60 surrounds the portion 46. A window 62 passes through this area 60 and is located so as to be able to register with window 36 with which it is of identical dimensions.
On its underside surrounding the rim 52, the member 18 is formed with an annular series of indentations 64 which correspond in shape and location to the end of the tongue 42 on the blanking ring 16. These indentations 64 and the tongue 42 serve as a ratchet and paw] mechanism which prevents the head member 18 being wound in a direction other than the designed advancing direction.
The clockwork timing and release mechanism 14 (FIGS. 7 & 8)
The clockwork timing and release mechanism 14 comprises a clockwork unit 66 which may be the unit from a conventional pocket watch modified as will be described. The unit 66 fits within the central cylindrical recess 24 of the container 12. It has a central winding shaft 68 one end of which is received in the blind bore 28 and the other end of which is provided with a head 70 that is non-rotatably received in the recess 50. Thus as the head member 18 is rotated, the clockwork unit 66 is wound up.
Lying loosely across the back of the unit 66 is a latch member 72 which is pressed sheet metal. The latch member has a slot 73 formed therein and the winding shaft 68 passes through this slot 73. A locking nose 74 is formed at one end of the latch member 72 and at the other end there is a T piece 75 bowed centrally upwardly. A step 76 is formed at one side of the latch member 72 at the root of the nose 74. A laterally projecting arm 78 is provided half way along the length of the latch member 72.
A pair of light springs 80 and 82 act on the latch member 72. The spring 80 engages a cut-out recess 84 and urges the latch member 72 downwardly and forwardly while the spring 82 engages a pressed-up portion 86 also to urge the member 72 forwardly.
Forward movement of the latch member is limited as will be described and when the latch member 72 is in the forward or operative position, the nose 74 extends over the cylindrical wall 20 and engages the cross-piece or head 23 ofa radial wall 22. When the latch member 72 is in the rearward or release position the nose 74 terminates within the annulus defined by the inner and outer sides of the cylindrical wall 20 and may act as a cam follower on the cam surfaces 30, 32 and 34 as will be described.
A pair of rigid lug members 88 project from the unit 66 on either side of the nose 74. These lug members 88 fit within the cut-out recess 38 in the blanking ring 16 so that as the release mechanism is rotated as will be described below the blanking ring will rotate with it.
A timing interval disc 90 which is rotated by the clockwork timing unit 66 lies under the arm 78 of the latch member 72. Low timing pins 92 are pushed out of the disc 90 and these are arranged to engage the arm 78 at predetermined times which correspond to the preset time intervals to move the arm 78 and with it the latch member 72 backwardly against the influence of the springs 80 'and 82 into the rearward or release position.
An operation prevention means in the form of a detent plate 94 extends through the unit 66 below the member 72 and its width extends in the same direction as the length of the latch member 72. A step 96 is formed in the detent 94. A spring 98, which is weaker than thespring 80 urges the detent 94 upwardly but it (the detent 94) is held in a downward or retracted position by the member 72 when the latter is in the forward or operative position and in this position, the steps 76 and 96 engage one another. When the latch member 72 is in the rearward or release position, the detent 94 is moved upwardly by the spring 98 into a second position in which it lies in the path of the step 76 and is capable of engaging in the gate 54 formed in the rim 52 on the underside of the head 18.
The detent 94 lies against and is buttressed by one of the lug members 88 against the force of the springs 80 and 82.
OPERATION in use, the pockets 26 each contain a pill or the like which is dangerous if taken at shorter intervals than those prescribed. The clockwork release mechanism 14 is positioned so that the nose 74 lies on a flat surface 29 adjacent a pocket 26 (see FIGS. 9 and 10). The window 36 of the blanking ring 16 overlies a pocket 26 diametrically oppositely located to the first mentioned pocket. The head member 18 can not be turned so that the window 62 registers with the window 36 to expose the pocket below the window 36 which pocket can now be emptied of its contents. The head member 18 is now rotated to close off or cause occultation of the pocket.
Rotation of the head member 18 relative to the container 12 and hence the unit 66 rotates the winding shaft 68 and thus winds up the unit 66.
After the pre-set space of time, the disc will have rotated through a sufficient angle for a timing pin 92 thereon to engage the arm 78 and move the latch member 72 into the rearward or release position. When this occurs, the detent 94 springs upwardly into the second position and engages the step 76 holding the member 72 is in its rearward position (see FIG. 11). The top of the detent 94 now butts against the rim 52. When the head member 18 has been rotated sufficiently, the gate 54 lies opposite the detent 94 and the latter enters in the gate 54 (as shown in FIG. 11). On further rotation of the head member, the vertical gate wall 56 engages the detent 94 so that the unit 66 and the blanking ring 16 rotate with the head member 18 during further rotation thereof.
During this rotation, the nose 74 now rides up the inclined surface 30 of the wall 20. When the nose 76 rides on the crest 32 (see FIGS. 13 and 14), the member 72 will be accommodated in the groove 51, will be above the lower stepped part of the detent 94 and will be moved forwardly by the spring 82 until the steps 76 and 96 engage. During this forward movement, the arm 78, which has been lifted with the member 72 above the height of the timing pins 92, passes over the pin 92 which pushed the arm 78 backwardly. The member 72 is now moved downwardly by the spring 80 thereby depressing the detent 94, moving it out of contact with the face 56 and there is no driving connection between the head member 18 on the one hand'and the clockwork unit 66 and blanking ring 16 on the other. The blanking ring 16 has however advanced sufficiently for the window 36 to be over the next pocket 26. The rotation of the head member 18 is continued until the window 62 registers with the window 36 to expose the next pocket so that the contents can be removed. The process continues in this way.
It will be noted that as the window 62 and the gate 54 are close together and the recess 38 in the blanking ring and with it the detent 94 are 180 from the window 36, the head member 18 has to be turned through 180 from the position in which the windows 62 and 36 register before the detent 94 is received within the gate 54. This means that the clockwork unit 66 must be wound up on each occasion the dispenser is used. It will be noted that the latch member 72 can move upwardly only when the groove 51 and gate 54 is above it. Otherwise the rim 52 holds the member 72 flat against the unit 66. Thus the nose 74 cannot ride up the surface 30 and the unit 66 cannot rotate within the container 12. It will also be noted that in the unlikely event of there being a frictional connection between the head 18 and the unit 66 sufficient to rotate the latter when the latch member 72 is in the operative position, the engagement between the nose 74 and cross-member 23 will provide a positive stop preventing this movement.
Overwind Prevention Mechanism (FIG. 16)
It will be appreciated that some means must be provided to prevent over-winding the main spring of the clock-work unit 66. To this end, the main spring mechanism 100 may comprise a number of springs, say three, 102, 104, I06. The inner end of one of the springs 102 is connected to the spring winding shaft 68 and the outside of this spring 102 bears frictionally against the main spring drum 110. The outer ends of all the springs are welded together and the inner springs 104, 106 bias the outer spring 102 against the wall of the drum 112. As the springs are wound their effective outer diameter decreases and consequently the frictional engagement with the winding drum 110 decreases. When the springs are wound tight, the tendency of the springs to unwind overcomes the frictional engagement with the winding drum. The springs then unwind to about half their tension. This is sufficient to operate the clockwork unit to time the predetermined interval between the permitting of the exposure of the next pocket.
Overwind Prevention Mechanism (Modification) Instead of a friction connection between the springs, a pin may project from the drum to engage a hole in the end of a single spring. This arrangement would work in the same way as that described above, save that when the spring is overwound the hole becomes disengaged from the pin and the spring unwinds one revolution until the pin and hole re-engage.
Setting of Time Interval The setting of the time interval may be achieved by using timing interval discs having the timing pins 92 at different spacings as required. Fine settings of the time interval, of the order of plus or minus five minutes, may be effected by altering the tension of the hair spring on the escapment mechanism.
Warning Device Certain drugs must be taken at specified intervals. For such drugs, the dispenser may be provided with an audible warning device. This device is preferably operated by the detent 94 when it moves into its upper or second position. The device may be a bell operated by the clock-work mechanism. Alternatively it may be an electrical oscillator or a buzzer 96 which, together with a button battery 98 for operating it may be positioned in adjacent pockets which are not used for pills. In this case the engagement of the top of the detent 94 against the rim 51, which may be electrically conductive for this purpose, may close a circuit energizing the oscillator or buzzer. When the head member 18 is moved so that the windows 36 and 62 are in register to enable a pill to be dispensed, the detent 94 will be in the gate. The circuit will then be broken and the warning sound silenced.
General If the dispenser is being used to dispense pills which are e.g. lethal when taken in overdose, the container 12 and the head member 18 will be made of a virtually unbreakable material, for example Delrin, and will be very securely held together e.g. by a holding ring fixed to the container. Such a dispenser will be filled at the factory and will be thrown away after use. With nonlethal pills where the time interval between taking the pills is merely desirable and not absolutely necessary, the dispenser may be refillable and need not be so securely made.
The dispenser is of a convenient'size to be kept in a pocket or handbag.
The invention is not limited to the precise constructional details hereinbefore described and illustrated in the drawings.
For example the relative positions of the window 36 and recess 38 as well as the window 62 and gate 54 may be changed. However such positioning is preferably such that the head member 18 must be moved through a substantial arc to bring the windows 36 and 62 into register. Also care should be taken to ensure that the nose 74 does not project into a pocket which is exposed because a user might then tamper with the operation of the dispenser. A typical alternative position of the window 36 is shown in dotted lines in FIG. 3.
It will also be understood that the dispenser may be modified to dispense items other than pills or the like.
I claim 1. A dispenser comprising a plurality of containment means for one or more items; exposure means operable to expose successively the containment means, so that the item in each said containment means may be successively removed therefrom, operation prevention means which when in the one position prevents the operation of the exposure means while when in a second position allows such operation to take place, and a timing mechanism, which is arranged to allow the operation prevention means to move into the second position after the passage of the time interval; wherein the exposure means comprises a pair of members which are relatively movable when the operation prevention means is in the first position and which are connectable for movement together when the operation prevention means is in the second position, and wherein the members have windows movable into register with one another to expose the containment means.
2. A dispenser as claimed in claim 1 in which the said members are rotatable and comprise annular portions lying one above the other.
3. A dispenser as claimed in claim 2 in which the containment means each comprise a pocket, the pockets being arranged in a ring lying below .the annular portions of the said members.
4. A dispenser as claimed in claim 1 in which the operation prevention means comprises a detent operatively connected to one of the members and being movable from a retracted first position to a projecting second position in which it may engage an abutment on the other of the members.
5. A dispenser as claimed in claim 4 further comprising a latch member movable between an operative and a release position, the latch member, when in the operative position, holding the detent in its first position and, when in its release position, allowing the detent to move into its second position, the latch member being operatively connected to the timing mechanism to be moved thereby into its release position after the passage of the said time interval.
6. A dispenser as claimed in claim 5 comprising a spring biassing the detent towards its second position and a spring biassing the latch member in a direction opposite to the direction in which the detent is biassed,
the spring biassing the latch member being stronger than the spring biassing the detent.
7. A dispenser as claimed in claim 5 in which the latch member is biassed towards its operative position and is held in the release position by engagement with the detent.
8. A dispenser as claimed in claim 7 further comprising a cam member and, on the latch member, a cam follower, the cam member lifting the cam follower when the said one of the pair of members is moved relative to the containment means to move the latch member out of engagement with the detent.
9. A dispenser as claimed in "claim I further comprising a signalling device connected to the timing mechanism to be operated thereby after the passage of the said interval oftime.
l0. dispenser comprising a plurality of contamment means for one or more items; exposure means operable to expose successively the containment means, so that'the item in each said containment means may be successively removed therefrom; operation prevention means which when in the one position prevents the operation of the exposure means while when in a second position allows such operation to take place; a clockwork timing mechanism, which is arranged to allow the operation prevention means to move into the second position after the passage of the time interval; and energizing means for the timing mechanism, which energizing means are actuated on exposure or occultation of the containment means.