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Publication numberUS3730388 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateMay 1, 1973
Filing dateFeb 10, 1972
Priority dateFeb 10, 1972
Publication numberUS 3730388 A, US 3730388A, US-A-3730388, US3730388 A, US3730388A
InventorsBender L
Original AssigneeBrenner & Bender Inc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Material measuring and dispensing apparatus
US 3730388 A
Abstract
An apparatus for dispensing materials such as pills, coffee, sugar and the like is described wherein precise desired quantities may be dialed into the apparatus and quickly and accurately dispensed. In a preferred embodiment for a pill counter and dispenser, a plurality of channels are provided with a flexible channel selector located to fill selected channels with pills to be dispensed. The channels each contain a predetermined number of pills so that, upon actuation of a pill gate, the desired quantity of pills is dispensed. A unit pill dispensing feature is included to enable the dispensing of any desired quantity of pills within a practical range. An interlock operable between the pill gate and the channel selector protects against the spillage of pills. Several embodiments are shown to provide pill counters capable of dispensing a variety of pill shapes such as large tablets and capsules. Pill counters for either mounting on bottles or for mounting on a surface in a self-contained manner are described.
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llnited States Patent [191 Bender [54] MATERIAL MEASURING AND DISPENSING APPARATUS [75] lnventor: Louis Bender, Scotch Plains, NJ.

173] Assignee: Brenner 8: Bender lnc., Warren Township, NJ.

22 Filed: Feb. 10, 1972 21 Appl. No.: 225,074

[52] US. Cl. ..221/68, 141/94, 221/4,

221/151, 222/276, 214/1 C [51 Int. Cl ..B65g 59/00 [58] Field of Search ..222/276, 336;

[56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,943,730

FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 584,227 l/l947 Great Britain ..214/1 C [4 1 May 1, 1973 Primary ExaminerSamuel F. Coleman Assistant ExaminerJoseph .1. Rolla Attorney-Louis H. Reens 5 7 ABSTRACT An apparatus for dispensing materials such as pills, coffee, sugar and the like is described wherein precise desired quantities may be dialed into the apparatus and quickly and accurately dispensed. In a preferred embodiment for a pill counter and dispenser, a plurality of channels are provided with a flexible channel selector located to fill selected channels with pills to be dispensed. The channels each contain a predetermined number of pills so that, upon actuation of a pill gate, the desired quantity of pills is dispensed. A unit pill dispensing feature is included to enable the dispensing of any desired quantity of pills within a practical range. An interlock operable between the pill gate and the channel selector protects against the spillage of pills. Several embodiments are shown to provide pill counters capable of dispensing a variety of pill shapes such as large tablets and capsules. Pill counters for either mounting on bottles or for mounting on a surface in a self-contained manner are described.

28 Claims, 17 Drawing Figures PATENT Y 1 m5 SHEET 1 [IF 7 PATENTEDW 1 15'73 SHEET 2 [1F 7 PATENTEB HAY 1 I973 SHEET 6 [1F 7 PATENTEU 11975 SHEET 7 0F 7 i a u M u I I u u u u m IIIIIIII'III'I/ MATERIAL MEASURING AND DISPENSING APPARATUS This invention generally relates to a dispenser of materials in selectable desired quantities and, more specifically, to an apparatus for conveniently dispensing a desired quantity of pills.

Pill dispensers are generally well-known in the art. Note, for example, the patent to Mulhauser U.S. Pat. No. 2,683,554, which dispenses a single pill at a time from a vertical stack. In the patent to Cremieux U.S. Pat. No. 2,253,098, a multiple pill dispenser is disclosed. The dispenser in Cremieux utilizes a plurality of parallel, generally vertically inclined, channels which are located alongside each other. Each channel contains a predetermined number of pills. When a bottom located gate is opened, each of the channels releases its pills into a suitable container. At the same time that the bottom located gate is opened, an upper located gate clamps down on pills located in the channels to maintain the discharge of a predetermined number of pills, thus effectively counting pills.

Another multiple pill dispensing device is described in the patent to Brown et al. U.S. Pat. No. 2,679,334. The pill dispenser in Brown et al. includes a counting block as shown in its FIGS. 3 and 4. The counting block is provided with slots located for alignment with tablet retaining channels. The lateral movement of the block places the slots in registration with discharge openings, while at the same time blocking the channels. In this manner, a predetermined number of pills (those which fit within the slots in the block) is discharged each time that the block is laterally moved. A slot size adjuster is provided to alter the number of pills to be discharged with each operational cycle.

These prior art multiple pill dispensers exhibit disadvantages. For example, when one seeks to dispense pill quantities, which vary from time to time, as is commonly expected in the filling of prescriptions, elaborate time consuming equipment adjustments must be made (see the cumbersome slot size adjusting device in Cremieux). Complex vibration devices are needed to maintain the flow of pills into channels. In a pharmacy, the quantity of pills to be dispensed may vary so extensively that'any number within a range needs to be dispensed at one time or another. Yet, multiple pill dispensers, such as disclosed in Brown et al. and Cremieux, do not lend themselves to discharging odd quantities of pills. In a practical sense, the multiple pill dispensers needed in pharmacies should be of light weight, easily manipulated design. Yet the described prior art multiple pill dispensers are bulky, of heavy weight design and belong there at the end of a pill production line than in the precise prescription filling area of a pharmacy.

In a pill dispensing device in accordance with the invention, these disadvantages are overcome and any desired quantity of pills within a generally useful range may 'be conveniently and accurately dispensed. The multiple pill dispenser or pill counter of this invention may be formed of lightweight molded plastic for con-' venient manipulation.

In an apparatus for dispensing a desired quantity of pills in accordance with the invention, a pharmacist enters a supply of pills in a convenient manner into a hopper section of a pill counting and dispensing device.

An empty vial is snapped into operative pill receiving position and a desired quantity of pills is dialed into the device. The pills are then permitted to pass into pill retaining channels which were opened to each receive a predetermined number of pills when the desired quantity was dialed. The channels are thereupon isolated from the hopper section by returning the dial to an initial position. A pill gate is actuated to release pills from channels into the vial while, at the same time, locking the dial to prevent further pill dispensing from the hopper section. When the apparatus is used again, the dial is released and the pill gate automatically locked into a pill supporting position below the channels and the procedure for dispensing a desired quantity of pills may be repeated.

A pill counter in accordance with one of the embodiments contemplates a housing having a pill hopper to receive pills from a bottle. A channel selector is provided and mounted for movement between pill retaining channels and the hopper. The channel selector may be moved to isolate and open selected channels in cor respondence with the desired pill quantity to be dispensed.

After the open channels have been filled with the pills from the hopper, the channel selector is moved to close off and isolate the channels and a lever is actuated to lock the channel selector into its closed position. When the lever locks the channel selector, a pill gate is automatically released and moved in a first direction to release pills retained in the channels.

Since the channels each contain a predetermined number of pills, this automatic release dispenses a multiple of that number and intermediate quantities are dispensed with a unit pill dispensing feature. Unit pills are released by operating the pill gate in quick succession in a second direction whereby pills from one of the channels are leased one at a time.

For a reuse of the pill counter, the lever is actuated to release the channel selector, return the pill gate automatically to a pill supporting position below the channels and lock the pill gate into this position. The channel selector can then be moved again to fill selected channels with pills from the hopper.

A pill counter in accordance with the invention is advantageously employed in the filling of prescriptions. The pill counter may be formed of light weight molded plastic materials and may be adapted for mounting on large pill containing bottles. The pill counter includes safety features selected to prevent inadvertent, erroneous operations by use of an interlock and'a self-closing gate. Pills of a wide variety of shapes may be counted and dispensed.

The apparatus of this invention may be furthermore advantageously employed to dispense measured and variable quantities of granular materials such as sugar, coffee, salt and the like.

It is, therefore, an object of the invention to provide an apparatus for the dispensing of pills or granular materials in measured and variable quantities. It is a further object of the invention to provide a pill dispensing apparatus for the filling of prescriptions wherein pills may be dispensed in variable quantities in a convenient and yet accurate manner.

Other advantages and objects of the invention may be appreciated from the following detailed description of several embodiments of pill counters in accordance with the invention in conjunction with the drawings wherein:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a pill counter in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective view of the pill counter as shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a frontal view in elevation and partially broken away of the pill counter shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a section view taken along the line 4-4 in FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a partial section view of the channel selecting mechanism employed in the pill dispenser of FIG. 1 and is taken along the line 5-5 in FIG. 3;

FIG. 6 is a section view of the channel selecting mechanism taken along the line 6 in FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a lever and spring element employed to provide an interlock in the pill counter of FIG. 1;

FIGS. 8 through 13 show, in sequence, the operations of the pill counter in accordance with the invention;

FIGS. 8, 9 and 10 are partial section views in side elevation of the pill counter in FIG. 1 and respectively show successive pill counter positions to till a hopper with pills;

FIGS. 11, 12 and 13 are partial front views in elevation of the pill counter in FIG. 1 with components in respectively successive operational positions;

FIG. 14 is a perspective, partially broken away, view of a self-contained pill counter in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 15 is an enlarged, partial front view of separating ribs employed in the hopper of the pill counter shown in FIG. 14;

FIG. 16 is a side view partially broken away and partially shown in section of the pill counter in FIG. 14; and

FIG. 17 is a perspective, partially broken away view of a pill counter in accordance with the invention for dispensing a quantity of capsule shaped pills.

With reference to FIG. 1, a pill counter 20 in accordance with the invention is perspectively illustrated. Pill counter 20 is provided with an internally threaded support wall 22 for mounting on a conventional pharmaceutical pill containing bottle 24. The wall 22 is hollow cylindrical to enable pills from the bottle 24 to pass through opening 26 into hopper section 28 of pill counter 20. As can be seen through the transparent plastic cover 30, the hopper 28 terminates above seven pill retaining channels 32.1 through 32.7. Channels 32 are closed or isolated from hopper 28 by a channel selector 34 moved laterally across the tops of channels 32 under the control of a dial 36. A pill gate 38 is located for movement across the bottoms of channels 32 between pill supporting and pill releasing positions. Pill gate 38 is coupled to dial 36 with an interlock mechanism 40 controlled by moving a lever 42 vertically between channel selector locking and pill gate locking positions.

Dial 36 carries indicia visible through a lens segment 44 in cover to indicate the number of pills to be dispensed into vial 46. Vial 46 is snapped into place below a funnel section 48 and is gripped between a pair of vial gripping fingers 50-50. A lip 53 is provided to extend from cover 30 over the portion of the vial opening that is not in alignment with funnel 48.

In FIG. 2, where the cover 30 is shown removed from the housing 21, pill counter 20 is visible with greater detail. Hopper 28 is separated from opening 26 with upright back wall 52 which prevents pills in hopper 28 from falling back through opening 26 into the bottle. The channel selector 34 is shown in a channel isolating position and is formed of a flexible member. The channel selector 34 is connected to the rim of a drum extension 54 of dial 36. Hence, when dial 36 is rotated counterclockwise, drum 54 takes up the flexible channel selector 34 which thereupon correspondingly opens channels 32.1 through 32.7 in respective succession.

Counterclockwise rotation of dial 36 in the direction of arrow 56 causes indicia 59 to traverse the lens 44 in correspondence with the opening of channels 32. Thus, when the numeral 1 is visible through lens 44, channel 32.1 is opened to receive pills from hopper 28 and when numeral 10 appears, channels 32.1, 32.2 and 32.3 are all opened. Since each channel is shaped and sized to retain a predetermined number of pills, namely five in the embodiment of FIG. 2, the dial indication of numeral 10 corresponds to the dispensing of that quantity of pills from channels 32.2 and 32.3.

The pills in channel 32.1 are dispensed one at a time to enable one to dispense odd quantities. When dial 36 is rotated clockwise and the numeral 0 is revealed, the channel selector 34 also has closed all channels 32 as illustrated in FIG. 2. Any odd quantity can be dispensed depending upon the number of channels that are employed.

Hopper 28 has a bottom surface 58 which is inclined downwardly from wall 52 and curved at 60 to mesh with channels 32. The spacing between the end 60 of bottom 58 and cover 30 is selected to assure a guidance of the pills into a desired orientation for transfer to channels 32. Channels 32 are formed of ribs 62 spaced from one another at regular intervals that exceed the width of the pills sufficiently for their free passage through the channels while in the desired orientation, such as on edge as shown in FIGS. 11 through 13.

Pill gate 38 has pill supports 64 and pill passages 66 spaced so that, depending upon the position of pill gate 38, either passages 66 or pill supports 64 are in registration with channels 32.2 through 32.7. In FIG. 2 pill gate 38 is in a pill releasing position where pill passages 66 are in alignment with channels 32.2 through 32.7 while pill supports 64 are in alignment with ribs 62. Note that pill gate 38 has six pill passages 66, or one less than the number of channels 32. Pill passage 66.1 serves the additional function of dispensing a single pill from channel 32.1 as will be further explained.

Interlock mechanism 40 (see FIGS. 2 and 7) includes a plastic molded lever 42 formed integrally with a spring element 70 extending from an inner wall 72. Inner wall 72 is spaced from lever 42 by a smaller middle wall 74 to form a pair of oppositely located grooves 76-76 which slightly exceed the thickness of protruding cover edge 78 and recessed housing edge 80. Inner wall 72 terminates downwardly into a wedge shaped pill gate locking extension 82 and lever 42 terminates upwardly with a channel selector locking edge 84.

When the interlock device 40 is mounted to housing 21 and cover 30 is applied, edges 78 and 80 engage grooves 76-76 and define a vertical slot along which the lever 42 may be moved. In the upward position of lever 42, edge 84 engages a slot 86 in dial 36 to lock it into a channel closing position. When lever 42 is moved down, extension 82 engages pill gate 38 to lock it into a pill supporting position.

Housing 21 is further provided with a spring loaded funnel closure 88. Closure 88 is pivotly mounted to housing 21 with pivots 90-90. A spring 92 urges pill support edge 94 through a slot 96 below funnel'48 to retain pills. When vial 46 is applied, closure 88 is pivoted out of the way. In this manner, forgetting to insert a vial will not result in a spillage of pills.

With reference to FIG. 3, further details of the interlock 40 are illustrated. Pill gate 38 is shown formed of a molded plastic longitudinal body with an upwardly extending tab 100 protruding into the space 102 occupied by spring element 70. Tab 100 has a vertical surface 104 for contact by the end 106 of spring element 70. The rear of tab 100 is an inclined surface 108 which meshes with a similar inclined surface 110 on the wedge shaped extension 82 of interlock 40. The front of tab 100 faces a recess 112 to receive end 106 of spring element 70 and the rear of tab 100 faces a recess 114 to receive wedge extension 82. A stop edge 116 is provided to seat against the rear surface 118 (shown in FIG. 7) of wedge shaped extension 82.

Hence, when lever 42 is moved down, wedge surface 110 moves pill gate 38 to the left, in the direction of arrow 120, and when lever 42 is moved up, the abutment of spring end 106 against tab surface 104 causes pill gate 38 to move to the right until both wedging surfaces 108 and 110 contact each other.

At the other end of pill gate 38, in the vicinity of the bottom of channel 32.1, a pill support 122 is provided which is different from pill supports 64. Pill support 122 is shaped to maintain the pills in channel 32.1 even though the other pill supports 64 may have been moved to release pills in channels 32.2 through 32.7. Pills from channel 32.1 may then only be released when pill gate 120 is moved to the left to seat against back wall 124 and when pill passage 66.1 is aligned with channel 32.]. A single pill is then permitted to drop onto ledge 126 so that, upon return of pill gate 38 to the position shown in FIG, 3, this pill is moved over to be funneled into vial 46.

F IG. 4 reveals a pair of spaced facing grooves 130-130 which are respectively formed in cover 30 and housing 21. Grooves 130 are located just above the tops of channels 32 and are spaced to receive the flexible channel selector 34. Note further the slight incline of surface 58 and the end curvature 60 of the bottom of the hopper 28. The incline aids the passage of pills into the channels and the curvature aids the desired orientation of pills prior to entry intochannels 32.

FIGS. 5 and 6 illustrate the dial segment of the channel selecting device in greater detail. Dial 36 and drum 54 are coaxial with a central through bore 140. Drum 54 fits in a circular recess 141 formed in housing 21. Bore 140 is sized to freely receive a spindle 142 projecting from housing 21. Spindle 142 has a bore 144 shaped to receive a pin 146 projecting from cover 30. Pin 146 forms a pressure fit with bore 144 to attach cover 30 to housing 21. The flexible channel selector 34 may thus be wound onto drum 54 with rotation of dial 36 to correspondingly open channels 32.

Drum 54 is further provided with an axially extending slot 148 which curves in a circular manner about bore 140 terminating in a stop wall 150. Housing 21, in turn, is provided with a stop pin 152 which is sized to freely fit within slot 148. Stop pin 152 is located to provide a rotational stop for dial 36 when wall 150 is moved either clockwise or counterclockwise.

The locations of the stop pin 142 and the point of attachment 154 of flexible channel selector are so chosen that when dial 36 is rotated to its maximum clockwise position, stop wall 150 encounters pin 152 while flexible channel selector 34 is extended across all channels 32. In this latter dial position, indicia 0 is revealed through lens 44 as shown in FIGS. 2 and 3.

Channel selector 34 is formed of a flexible plastic material capable of being wound upon drum 54 while still unfurling into a straight segment when unwound from the drum. The flexible selector may be attached to the drum with a sonic weld.

The operation of pill counter 20 is clearly illustrated in FIGS. 8 through 13. As shown in FIG. 8, initially, bottle 24, containing a supply of pills, is provided with a pill'counter 20. The pill counters channels 32 and pill passages 66 are sized to accommodate the pills in the bottle. The pill counter screw thread 160 meshes with a like screw thread on the top of the bottle.

Thereupon the attached pill bottle 24 and pill counter 20 are rotated in a clockwise direction indicated by arrow 162 to enable pills to pass over the hopper back wall 52 as illustrated in FIG. 9. Upon completion of this rotation, as shown in FIG. 10, hopper 28 has been supplied with pills and vial 46 is applied and pill counting begins. During this bottle and pill counter rotation, lever 42 was in the channel selector locking position as shown in FIGS. 1, 2 and 3.

Next, lever 42 is moved down in the direction of arrow 164, causing wedge shaped extension 82 to force the pill gate 38 into its pill supporting position, as shown in FIG. 11.

Each of the pill supports 64 are now located in registration with channels 32 while dial 36 has been unlocked for selection of a desired quantity of pills. Dial 36 is then moved counterclockwise to select, say, fifteen pills and the channel selector 34 is automatically moved to a channel opening position where channels 32.1, 32.2, 32.3 and 32.4 may be filled with pills.

After a slight tapping of the housing to unblock the pills and enable them to pass into and fill selected channels, dial 36 is returned to its zero indicating or channel isolating position and lever 42 is moved up to engage slot 86. As soon as lever 42 is moved up, spring urges the pill gate 38 to the right in the direction of arrow 166 to align pill passages 66 with channels 32 when wedge surfaces 108 and engage each other, as shown in FIG. 12. When the pill passages are aligned, the pills from channels 32.2, 32.3 and 32.4 drop into the funnel 48 which guides the 15 pills into via] 46. Note that pill support 122 maintains support of pills in the unit pill dispensing channel 32.1.

A sixteenth pill may now be dispensed, as shown in FIG. 13, by moving pill gate 38 in the direction of arrow against the bias from spring 70 until pill support 122 seats against back wall 124. This brings pill passage 66.1 into alignment with channel 32.1 and allows a single pill sixteen to drop on to ledge 126. When pill gate 38 is returned to the right under action by spring 70, the sixteenth pill is carried along for release in funnel 48 and into vial 46. This manual actuation of pill gate 38 may be quickly repeated to release intermediate desired quantities of pills such as 17, l8,and 19.

The operation of the pill counter in accordance with the invention provides a quick and efficient method of dispensing a desired quantity of pills. For a pharmacist who fills many different prescriptions from the same supply, the pill counter is a convenient dispenser wherein the interlock of operated elements provides a hygienic and reliable dispensation of pills. Many different pills may be accommodated, including large tablets and capsule shaped pills.

The operation of the pill counter apparatus 170 shown in FIGS. 14 through 16 is adapted to dispense a quantity of large tablets such as 172. The pill counter 170 shown in FIG. 14 is self-contained in that, instead of being mounted on a bottle, a removable hopper 174 is used. The removable hopper 174 may be conveniently supplied with pills from a bottle, either in the outwardly pivoted position at 176 or when completely separated.

Hopper 174 has a chamfered top end 178 so that, upon engagement with housing 180, pills can be transferred from hopper 174 to hopper section 28. Note how the top portion 182 of wall 184 serves the function of back wall 52 in FIG. 2.

The bottom of hopper 174 has a pair of oppositely located slots 186 (only one being visible in the view of FIG. 14) which are engaged by pins 188 extending from housing 180. Hence, hopper 174 may be pivoted away from housing 180 as shown in dotted outline and removed by lifting away from pins 188.

A detent element 190 is employed in cooperation with a complementary element on housing 180 to retain the hopper 174 in place on housing 180. Hence, when the top opening 192 of hopper 174 is in communication with hopper section 28, pills may be supplied to the latter by rotation of the pill counter 170 as was shown and described in connection with FIGS. 8, 9 and 10.

In order to dispense large tablet shaped pills, it is desired to suitably guide these tablets towards channels 32. The desired orientation of the tablets is obtained with separating ribs 194 located in hopper section 28. Ribs 194 rise up from inclined bottom 58, in a gradual manner with tapered segments 196 near back wall 182, and with full channel defining edges near channel selector 34. The top edges of ribs 194 are chamfered to form sharp edges 198 (see FIG. which prevent the straddling ofa tablet on a rib and cause tablets to drop into the spaces between ribs 194. Ribs 194 have their ends 199 fit flush against cover 30. Note how bottom 58 of hopper section 28 terminates in a sharp edge 202 above channels 32 to enhance guidance of the tablets.

Tablets 172 may be oriented for dispensing as shown in FIG. 14, in which case channel selector 34 is provided with V-shaped front located notch 200 to enable the selector to move between tablets and isolate channels 32. The channel selection mechanism with its interlocking features and pill gate operation are similar, as previously described with reference to the previously described embodiment.

In the embodiment shown in FIG. 17, capsules 204 may be counted and dispensed with a pill counter 206. The hopper section 28 in pill counter 206 utilizes ribs 194 whose sharp top edges may be replaced with flats 208. In the embodiment in FIG. 17, cover 30 is contoured at 210 to follow similarly countoured ends 212 of ribs 194. Bottom wall 58 again terminates with a smoothly curved segment 60 above channels 32.

Having thus described several embodiments of pill dispensers, their advantages and utility can be appreciated. As previously mentioned, other materials such as granular materials may be dispensed. In such case, the channels may be funnel shaped at their lower ends to require smaller passages in the gate and the material retaining supports may be formed of wider shape. The volumes of the channels are in such case selected as multiples of a unit quantity and gate passage 66.1 is shaped to form a unit quantity volume in cooperation with ledge 126 (see FIG. 3) and with pill support 64.1 extended for the entire width of gate 38.

Variations of several features may be contemplated. For example, the spring element (see FIG. 3) may be a separate metallic spring element instead of an integrally connected part of interlock 40. The channels may be sized to accommodate a wide variety of pill sizes.

What is claimed is:

l. A pill counter for dispensing a desired quantity of pills from a supply of pills comprising pill retaining channels shaped to each retain a predetermined plurality of pills, one of said pill retaining channels being a unit pill dispensing channel, with other channels being multiple pill dispensing channels,

a channel selector disposed between said channels and the supply of pills, said channel selector being movably mounted relative to the pill retaining channels for selective closing and opening movement thereof to determine the channels to be provided with pills from the supply of pills,

a pill gate having pill passages and pill supports and being operatively disposed relative to said pill retaining channels to dispense pills therefrom upon actuation of the pill gate, said pill gate being mounted for movement between first and second pill dispensing positions and a pill supporting position, said pill supporting position being selected to align the pill supports with the pill retaining channels to maintain pills while the channel selector enables pills from the supply to enter open channels, with said first pill dispensing position being selected to align pill passages with the multiple pill dispensing channels to dispense the pills therein, and with said second pill dispensing position being selected to align a pill passage with the unit pill dispensing channel to dispense a single pill therefrom whereby a desired quantity of pills is discharged.

2. A pill counter as claimed in claim 1, and further including means for interlocking said channel selector with the pill gate to lock the pill gate into said pill supporting position when said channel selector is operated and lock the channel selector into a channel closing position when said pill gate is moved to said first and second pill dispensing positions.

3. The pill counter as claimed in claim 2 wherein said interlocking means further includes means for automatically advancing said pill gate to said first pill dispensing position upon the locking of the channel selector into its channel closure position to dispense pills from the multiple pill dispensing channels.

4. The pill counter as claimed in claim 3 wherein the unit pill dispensing channel is selectively located relative to the other channels to require said pill gate to advance in a direction opposite to that produced by the automatic advancing means for the release of a single pill.

5. The pill counter as claimed in claim 2 wherein the channel selector further includes a dial provided with indicia representative of a number of pills to be dispensed from the multiple pill dispensing channels, the movement of the dial being effective to open selected channels to the pill supply in correspondence with displayed indicia.

6. In a pill counter for dispensing a desired quantity of pills from a pill supply wherein pill retaining channels are provided to each receive a predetermined number of pills from the supply, the improvement comprising channel selecting means operative between the channels and the pill supply for supplying selected channels with pills from the pill supply and isolate the channels from the pill supply during discharge of the pill supplied channels,

a pill gate movably mounted to the channels between pill supporting and pill discharging positions, said pi gate having pill passages and pill supports spaced from one another for registration with the channels in accordance with desired operative positions of the pill gate, and

interlocking means for locking the pill gate into its pill supporting position when the channel selecting means enables pills from the supply to enter channels and for locking said channel selecting means in a channel isolating position when said pill gate is operated to discharge pills from pill supplied channels.

7. The pill counter as claimed in claim 6, and further including a unit pill dispensing channel, said pill gate having a unit pill dispensing passage located to align with said unit pill dispensing channel upon movement of the pill gate to a predetermined unit pill dispensing position.

8. The pill counter as claimed in claim 7 wherein the pill gate is mounted for movement between said unit pill dispending position and a multiple pill releasing position, and

wherein said interlocking means includes means for moving said pill gate automatically to said multiple pill releasing position when said channel selecting means is locked into its channel isolating position.

9. The pill counter as claimed in claim 6 wherein said interlocking means further includes a lever mounted for manually actuated movement between the pill gate and the channel selecting means for respective locking contact therewith,

a spring mounted to urge said pill gate towards a first pill discharging position,

said lever being provided with a pill gate locking segment and a channel locking segment, both of said segments being located to release the pill gate upon locking of the channel selecting means by said lever, whereby said spring moves the pill gate to said first pill discharging position to dispense pills from the channels.

10. The pill counter for dispensing pills as claimed in claim 9 wherein said channel selecting means further includes indicating means bearing indicia operatively located and related to correspond with the channels selected to be supplied with pills and the desired pill quantity to be discharged.

1 l. The pill counter for dispensing pills as claimed in claim 10 wherein said pill gate has a unit pill passage and a unit pill support and is mounted for movement between first and second pill discharging positions, the first pill discharging position corresponding to the location of the pill gate upon completion of its movement under action of said spring and the second pill discharging position being located with movement of the pill gate against the action of the spring to register said unit pill passage with a channel for the discharge of a single pill.

112. A convenient, rapid operating pill counter for dispensing a desired, measurable-quantity of pills comprising channel means for retaining a plurality of pills in vertically oriented and adjacently spaced arrays, each of said arrays being located in a channel shaped to retain a predetermined number of pills to dispense a desired measurable quantity of pills, each of said channels having a top opening for communication with a supply of pills and having a bottom opening to dispense the pills,

means for selecting a desired quantity of pills to be dispensed, said selecting means including a channel selector being shaped and sized for selective closure of the top openings of the channels, said channel selector being further mounted for move ment across said top openings to isolate and open selected ones of said channels, with the position of the channel selector being chosen to fill open channels with pills from the pill supply, and

a pill gate positioned in alignment with the bottom openings of the channels and being movable relative thereto, said pill gate having pill passages separated by pill array supports, the pill openings being sized to freely pass pills retained by the channels in a pill release position, said pill openings and pill array supports being spaced for alignment with the channels in correspondence with the movement of the pill gate.

13. The pill counter and dispenser as claimed in claim 12 wherein the channel selector is formed of a flexible member, and wherein the selecting means further includes a rotatably mounted dial coupled to the flexible member to take up and unwind the flexible member in correspondence with the desired quantity of pills.

, 14. The pill counter and dispenser as claimed in claim 12 and further including an interlock having an edge engagement with the channel selecting means and further having an extension for releasable locking engagement with the pill gate, said extension being shaped to move the pill gate to a pill array supporting position upon locking engagement of the interlock with the pill gate while said edge has released the channel selecting means.

15. The pill counter and dispenser as claimed in claim 14 wherein said interlock is further provided with a spring element shaped to maintain contact with the pill gate and urge it towards said extension upon release of the pill gate to automatically move the pill gate to a pill releasing position when the interlock locks the channel selecting means.

16. The pill counter and dispenser as claimed in claim 15 wherein said extension has a wedge surface and wherein said pill gate is provided with a wedge surface, with both of said wedge surfaces being oriented to move the pill gate to said pill array supporting positions.

17. The pill counter and dispenser as claimed in claim 16 wherein said pill gate has a recess located and sized to receive the wedging surface of the extension of the interlock, said recess being provided with a stop edge located to engage the extension when said pill gate is at the pill array supporting position.

18. The pill counter and dispenser as claimed in claim 15 wherein said pill gate is further provided with a unit pill support sized and shaped to maintain support of an array of pills in one of the channels when the spring element moves the pill gate to said pill releasing position; said pill gate being movable, upon release by the interlock, in a direction which is against the action of the spring element and for a distance sufficient to align a pill passage with said one channel to release a single pill.

19. The pill counter and dispenser as claimed in claim 12, and further including a hopper section having a bottom wall commencing at a back wall and terminating above the channels, said bottom wall being inclined downwardly towards said channels to transfer pills to the channels.

20. The pill counter and dispenser as claimed in claim 19 wherein said hopper section bottom wall is further provided with spaced, upwardly extending, ribs terminating above the channels with the spacing between ribs in alignment with the channels.

21. The pill counter and dispenser as claimed in claim 20 wherein said ribs are provided with sharply defined, top located, edges to enhance the transfer of pills from the hopper section to the channels.

22. The pill counter and dispenser as claimed in claim 19 wherein said bottom wall is contoured in the vicinity of said channels to form a surface and recess shaped to orient pills for transfer into the channels.

'23. The pill counter and dispenser as claimed in claim 19, and further including for a removable hopper for retaining pills, said removable hopper having an inclined opening edge and being mounted to form a pill retaining back wall for the hopper section when pills from the removable hopper are transferred to the hopper section through the opening formed by the inclined edge.

24. The pill counter and dispenser as claimed in claim 19, and further including means for mounting the pill counter on a pill retaining container, said means including a container mounting wall having an opening in communication with the hopper section and the contents of the container, and a back wall located adjacent the opening in the container mounting wall to retain pills in the hopper section after transfer from the container.

25. The pill counter and dispenser as claimed in claim 12 and further including a funnel having an inlet and an outlet and being mounted in operative relationship with the channels to receive pills therefrom to be passed through the funnel outlet,

means for retaining a vial in pill receiving relationship below the funnel outlet and a funnel gate movably mounted to close the funnel outlet and operatively located in the path of a retained vial to retain pills within the funnel in the absence of a vial.

26. A dispenser for discharging a desired quantity of of material from a supply comprising channel means for retaining material, said channel means including a plurality of channels each of which retains a preselected multiple of a unit quantity of material and is open at a top end to receive the material from the supply and is open at the bottom to dispense the material,

means for selecting a quantity of material to be dispensed, said selector being shaped and sized for selective closure of the top openings of the channels, said channel selector further being mounted for movement across said channel top openings to isolate and open selected ones of said channels, with the position of the channel selector being chosen to fill open channels with material from the pp y,

a material gate positioned in alignment with the bottom openings of the channels and being movable relative thereto, said gate having material openings separated by material retainers, said material openings and retainers being spaced for alignment with the channels in correspondence with movement of the material gate,

means for interlocking said channel selector with the material gate to lock the gate into a material retaining position when said channel selector is operated and lock the channel selector into a channel closing position when said gate is moved to dispense material through said material openings, and

means for dispensing a unit quantity of said material from one of said channels through one of said material openings in the gate to dispense the desired quantity of material.

27. The dispenser of a desired quantity of material as claimed in claim 26 wherein said channel selector is formed of a flexible member, and wherein the selecting means further includes a rotatably mounted dial coupled to the flexible member to take up and unwind the flexible member in correspondence with the quantity of material to be dispensed from the channels.

28. The dispenser of a desired quantity of material as claimed in claim 27 wherein said interlocking means includes 13 M a lever mounted for movement between the channel material gate in a material retaining position, and

selecting means and the material gate, means for moving said material gate to a material means cooperating with said lever to lock the chandispensing Position when said channel Selector is nel selector in a channel closing position, locked Into channel 61051118 posltlonmeans in cooperation with the lever to lock the 5

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Classifications
U.S. Classification221/68, 414/787, 221/4, 222/276, 141/94, 221/151
International ClassificationA61J7/00, A61J7/02
Cooperative ClassificationA61J7/02
European ClassificationA61J7/02