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Publication numberUS3749279 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJul 31, 1973
Filing dateJan 21, 1972
Priority dateJan 21, 1972
Also published asDE2302252A1
Publication numberUS 3749279 A, US 3749279A, US-A-3749279, US3749279 A, US3749279A
InventorsW Ungerman
Original AssigneeCaptain Int Ind Ltd
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Apparatus for dispensing articles and registering charges therefor
US 3749279 A
Abstract
An article dispensing apparatus in which goods to be dispensed are kept in individual compartments having gates initially locked closed and then unlocked in succession upon cyclic operation of a gate control device to provide access for removing by hand the contents in each respective compartment. As each gate is unlocked, an electrical signal is transmitted for recording the charge of the goods in that respective compartment.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent 1 Ungerman 11] 3,749,279 [4 1 July 31, 1973 APPARATUS FOR DISPENSING ARTICLES AND REGISTERING CHARGES THEREFOR [75] inventor:

[73] Assignee: Captain International industries,

Ltd., Vancouver, Canada 22 Filed: Jan-21,1972

211 Appl. No.: 219,639

Warren .1. Ungerrnan, l-latboro, Pa.

[52] US. Cl. 221/7 [51] Int. Cl A47g 29/124 [58] Field 01 Search 221 /6-8,

[56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS Regan et al. 221/7 3,220,528 11/1965 Friedrich 194/2 2,958,858 11/1960 Eversole 340/280 3,656,145 4/1972 Proops 340/310 Primary Examiner-Stanley H. Tollberg Attorney Roberts B. Larson, Andrew E. Taylor and Marvin Petry [5 7 ABSTRACT An article dispensing apparatus in which goods to be dispensed are kept in individual compartments having gates initially locked closed and then unlocked in succession upon cyclic operation of a gate control device to provide access for removing by hand the contents in each respective compartment. As each gate is unlocked, an electrical signal is transmitted for recording the charge of the goods in that respective compartment.

28 Claims, 8 Drawing Figures PAYENTED JUL3 1 I975 SHEET 2 BF 4 APPARATUS FOR DISPENSING ARTICLES AND REGISTERING CHARGES THEREFOR BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates to article dispensing, and in particular, it relates to an article dispensing apparatus having individually accessible compartments and including means for electrically recording charges for dispensed articles.

The Regan et al. U.S. Pat. No. 3,3l0,l98 issued Mar. 21, 1967, describes the concept of providing a room service apparatus for use in the individual rooms of hotels, motels and the like, the operation of which apparatus dispenses automatically items most frequently called for by the guests and therefore eliminates in great part the need for personal valet service when the guest requires such items. In such a vending machine, the guests would usually turn the machine on by an appropriate key and simply push a button to dispense a selected article, at which time an electrical signal would be transmitted to the cashier or check-out area of the hotel, motel or the like to record the amount of each selection whereby the guest would pay for the dispensed articles upon checking out.

The particular vending apparatus as described in the Regan et al patent is of the type in which a plurality of vertically aligned shelves are provided for each item to be dispensed, the shelves dropping the articles to a central receiving area when a selection is made.

Another known type of vending apparatus is that commonly employed in automat restaurants or the like wherein the articles to be dispensed are placed in individual compartments to which the customer is given direct manual access by inserting a coin which permits the customer to open a gate or the like to remove the articles in that compartment.

Such direct access compartment vending machines as known at the present time are not appropriate for use in room service article dispensing apparatus of the type described. For example, they lack a means for recording charges in the cashier or check-out area of the hotel and it of course follows that they lack any means for assuring that any time an article is dispensed a charge is recorded, and vice versa.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION Thus, it is a purpose of the present invention to provide an article dispensing apparatus of the type in which manual access is provided directly into each of a plurality of compartments, which apparatus is adapted for use in a room service article dispensing apparatus of the type described for use in the individual rooms of hotels, motels or the like.

This purpose of the present invention is achieved by providing an article dispensing apparatus of the type in which gates of individual compartments are opened individually for manual removal of the contents therein, which apparatus has a cyclically operable control means for opening the gates and concurrently transmitting an electrical signal to indicate the charge for the contents removed therefrom, said control means assuring that the gate is not opened without the amount of the charge being recorded or vice versa.

In accordance with a preferred embodiment of the invention, there is provided an operating means for holding the gates in the closed position to prevent access by hand into the compartments and a control means operable through a cycle for releasing the gate of one of said compartments from said closed position during each said cycle, thereby permitting manual access directly into such compartments. Further, the control means is operable to permit transmission of an electrical signal to record the amount of the charge for the goods contained therein. This control means is arranged to assure that during any cycle thereof, a gate is released and an electrical signal is transmitted, neither of these events occuring without the other.

It is contemplated that the compartments may be mounted within a refrigerator for dispensing either perishable goods or goods which are preferably served cold. In this embodiment, it may be desirable to so arrange the operating and control means such that all electrical connections are located outside of the refrigerated area. In such an arrangement, the control means may take the form of first and second control rods, a first rod engaging on the one hand an operator member to open a different compartment for each cycle, and on the other hand engaging an electrical switch such as a I microswitch for transmitting the electrical signal. For

the latter purpose, the first control rod may include two parts, a first part inside of the refrigerator unit adjacent the side wall of the compartment and a second part comprising an elongated rod movable longitudinally by the first part and extending from its articulation with the first part through a wall of the refrigerated unit and into a control box located outside of the refrigerator at which this second part engages a microswitch when the first part is actuated. The second control rod may comprise a button at one end engaged by a person wishing to open a compartment, said second control rod including means for loading a spring, which spring is then released, the energy of the spring being applied to the first control rod, thereby assuring very rapid motion of this first control rod to assure that it both releases a gate and closes its respective microswitch.

In the above described embodiments, groups of pluralities of shelves may be provided, each group having its own control means, i.e., its own first and second control rods. In this case, the second parts of the first control rods of both control means may be arranged parallel to each other in a tube which extends through the wall of the refrigerator, and a mechanical interlock means may be provided to assure thay only one of the control means is operated at any given time.

In some instances, the present invention may be used in a non-refrigerated area or in a refrigerated area under conditions such that it is not detrimental to include the electrical parts within the refrigerated area. In this embodiment, the control means may take the form of a control rod having two parts fixed relative to each other, one part engaging the operator mechanism to release gates and this part also being acted on by an electrically operated solenoid for moving the control rods. The other part of this control rod is arranged to physically engage a microswitch for transmitting the electrical signal. In this arrangement, an electrical button may be provided to be pushed by the user for actuating the solenoid to thereby operate the control means through its cycle.

In such a room service apparatus, it is also important that the guest not be able to relock a gate once he has opened it, as such relocking, whether voluntary or involuntarily could obviously cause considerable guest discontent as well as confusion in the amount of the charges billed to the guest.

Thus, it is a purpose of the present invention to provide an apparatus for dispensing articles by direct manual access to compartments for use in a room service dispensing unit for use in individual hotel rooms or the like wherein as the contents of each compartment are removed, means are provided for recording the amount of the charges for such contents.

It is another object of this invetnion to provide an article dispensing apparatus having individual compartments made accessible for manually removing the contents therefrom and means for concurrently transmitting an electrical signal as each compartment is opened.

It is another object of this invention to provide an operating mechanism for a vending machine of the type in which goods are stored in compartments, said mechanism including a control rod operable forwardly and then back through a cycle, wherein during each cycle a compartment is opened, an electrical signal is transmitted, and it is assured that during any said cycle, neither said compartment opening nor signal transmission occurs without the other also occurring.

It is another object of this invention to provide, for an article dispensing unit of the type having compartments from which the goods are manually removed, an arrangement whereby a button is pushed to both open a compartment and transmit an electrical signal.

It is another object of the present invention to provide, for an article dispensing apparatus of the type in which goods are manually removed from individual compartments which are kept under refrigeration, a cyclically operable control means in which the mechanical elements of the control means are located within the refrigerated area and all electrical elements are located outside of the refrigerated area.

It is still another object of the invention to provide a room service article dispensing apparatus of the type described, in which the goods are removed by direct manual access to the article containing compartments and wherein after a customer has opened a compartment, it is not possible for him to either voluntarily or involuntarily relock it.

Other objects and the advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the detailed description to follow and also the accompany drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS There follows a detailed description of preferred embodiments of the invention to be read together with the accompanying drawings.

FIG. 1 is a front elevational view of an article dispensing apparatus constructed in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a side elevational view, looking towards the righthand side of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is an enlarged perspective view of a portion of FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a partial horizontal sectional view taken along line 4-4 of FIG. 2.

FIG. 5 is a partial horizontal sectional view taken along line 5-5 of FIG. 2.

FIG. 6 is a partial elevational view taken along line 6-6 of FIG. 1.

FIG. 7 is a partial horizontal sectional view of a detail taken along line 7-7 of FIG. 2.

FIG. 8 is an enlarged partial perspective view similar to FIG. 3 but showing a modification of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS Referring now to the drawings, like elements are represented by like numerals throughout the several views.

In FIG. 1, there is shown an article dispensing unit 10 having a left side wall 11 which terminates in the front thereof at a front flange 11a and a right side wall 12. In this embodiment, four compartments are provided, each having a lower shelf 24 and the front end of each shelf closed off by a gate. The upper two gates are identified as 13a and 13b and the lower two gates are identified as 20a and 20b. The gates are identical to each other and each gate includes a U-shaped bar 14 having cross-bars 15, 16 and 17 fixed thereto. The upper bar 15 extends outwardly in both directions beyond its engagment with the legs of the U-shaped bar 14, extending through openings in the walls 11 and 12, respectively, thereby acting as a pivot axis about which the gate is turned as it is opened. The two intermediate bars 16 do not extend beyond the legs of bar 14 to which they are welded. A lower crossbar 17 extends outwardly beyond the legs of bar 14 on both sides thereof forming a pin 19 which is shown in FIG. 6, and the purpose of which will be described below. The other end forms a pin 18a, 18b, 21a, and 21b on the gates 13a, 13b, 20a, and 20b, respectively, which pin is received in an opening 25 in a manner and for a purpose to be described in greater detail below. A front plate 22 extends outwardly from the side wall 12 adjacent gates 13a and 13b and a front plate 23 extends laterally from the side wall 12 adjacent the lower two gates 20a and 20b.

Referring to FIG. 2, in the present embodiment, two separate operating mechanisms are provided, an upper mechanism including, inter alia, operator plate 31a and a lower mechanism including, inter alia, lower operator plate 31b. Each operating mechanism has associated with it a group of compartments, each having a gate, the operating mechanism being arranged such that during each cycle of operation thereof in a manner to be described below, one gate of that group is opened. In the illustrated embodiment, the upper operating mechanism has associated with it gates 13a and 13b for the upper two compartments and the lower operating mechanism has associated with it gates 20a and 20b for the lower two compartments. It will be evident that either of these groups of compartments associated with each operating mehcanism may have associated with it any number of compartments; but in the use of the present device in a room service article dispensing apparatus, two compartments for each group has been found to be adequate.

Between the front plates 22 and 23 and the fixed vertically extending bracket 45, the upper and lower operating mechanisms are identical and for this portion, therefore only the upper mechanism will be described in detail. For this purpose, reference is made also to FIGS. 3, 4 and to the lower gate operating mechanisms of FIG. 2 in which a portion of the mechanism has been cut away to show more clearly the arrangement of projections 36-40.

Each gate operating mechanism comprises a pair of pins 30 fixed to the side wall 12 and having formed there-on washers 35 such that the operator plate 31a slides vertically on the wall 12 to the extent permitted by engagement of the ends of elongated slots 32 with their respective pins 30. Upper and lower closing channels 33 and 34, the former of which is visible in FIGS. 3 and 4, project to the left of plate 31a and form a U- shaped channel opened towards the wall 12. When both gates 13a and 13!) are locked shut, these gates will have turned about their pivot bars 15 such that their control pins 18a and 18b have entered their respective cut-outs 25 at which they are held in their respective channels 33 and 34. In FIG. 2, the plate 31a has already moved downwardly an amount such that the channel 33 has moved below pin 18a, freeing it to move outwardly through cutlout 25 so that gate 13a can be opened by simply grasping it and pulling it upwardly about the axis of bar 15. However, at the stage shown in FIG. 2, the lower channel 34 still prevents outward movement of pinl8b. As shown most clearly in FIGS. 3 and at the bottom of FIG. 2, the paltes 31a and 3lplales include outwardly extending projections 36, 37, 38, 39 and 40. These are engaged by the outer end of a leaf 48 loosely mounted on a control rod 46 for limited turning movement about rod 46, to an extent limited by U-shaped bar 49, the ends of which are fixed to the rod 46. As is evident, the legs of this bar 49 also limit movement of the leaf 48 along the rod 46.

Initially, when both channels 33 and 34 close their respective gates by engaging pins 18a and 18b, respectively, the plates 31a and 31b are located in an upper position such that the projection 38 rests on top of leaf 48. The compartments behind gates 13a and 13b will contain identical contents so that the guest is not concerned which compartment is opened first. The customer pushes a button 53 (the detailed construction of which will be described in greater detail below). This causes the leaf 48 to move to the right of projection 38, permitting the latter to fall downwardly until projection 40 engages the top of leaf 48. Leaf 48 then moves back to the left and plate 31 moves downwardly some more until projection 37 rests on top of leaf 48. The upper locking channel 33 has now moved downwardly enough to release pin 18a so that gate 13a can be opened. This is the position shown in FIGS. 2 through 4. To open the lower gate 13b, the button 53 is pushed again moving leaf 48 to the right of projection 37 permitting downward movement of plate 31 until projection 39 engages the top of leaf 48 at which time the leaf 48 moves back to the left as the projection 36 moves down on top of it. At this time, the lower channel 34 will have freed the lower pin 18b to permit opening of the lower gate 13b. Each of the projections 36, 37, 38 and 40 require little vertical thickness because only their lower surfaces are used. However, projection 39 is extended vertically to serve an additional purpose. When the plate 31 is in its lowermost position with the projection 36 resting on top of leaf 48, all compartments are empty and the left side of projection 39 prevents movement to the right of leaf 48. The purpose for this feature, (which will be described in greater detail below) is to prevent transmission of an electrical signal representing a charge after all compartments of that group have been opened and the contents thereof removed The control mechanism associated with the plate 31a is contructed and operates as follows. A first control rod 46 extends from an end 47 pivotably mounted in the front plate 22 rearwardly until it projects outwardly through the bracket 45. Between the plate 22 and the bracket 45 this rod 46 has fixed on it the U-shaped bar 49' and loosely mounted on it the leaf 48 in the manner described above. Also fixed to rod 46 is a U-shaped channel member 50 having openings 51 in its two legs. A second rod 52 extends from a first end 53 which constitutes the button pushed by the guest to operate the device beneath the leaf 48 and through the two openings 51 to an end 56. A spring 54 encircles the portion of rod 52 between the openings 51, the lefthand end of this spring being attached to a washer 55 which is in turn fixed to the rod 52. The righthand leg of the channel 50 includes a portion 67 which, as is shown in FIG. 4, has in its path the edge 66 of a control plate 60. This control palte has tabs 61 extending loosely through openings in bracket 45. A spring 62 attached at one end 63 to the plate 60 and at the other end 64 to the bracket 45 urges this plate 60 counterclockwise (as shown in FIG. 4) about a line through the two tabs 61. Consequently, when a guest first pushes the button 53, the rod 52 will start moving rearwardly pushing with it the channel 50 and the rod 46 via spring 54 until portion 67 abuts edge 66. This will stop rearward movement of rod 46 and channel 50 but the rod 52 will continue moving rearwardly compressing spring 54. This will continue until end 56 of the rod 52 engages raised lip 65 on the plate 60 turning the plate 60 clockwise (FIG. 4) such that the portion 67 is free of edge 66. At this instant, the channel 50 and its rod 46 are forced to the right (which will be referred to hereinafter as the forward direction) rapidly with a snap action, after which the elements 46 and 50 will return to their original positions upon release of button 53. It will be evident from the figures that this will cause plate 310 to move downwardly until projection 36 rests on leaf 48 whereby the lower channel 34 will have released its respective pin 18b.

In addition to releasing the pin 18b, it is necessary that a microswitch be closed to transmit an electrical signal representative of the charge for the goods in the compartment. Referring to FIGS. 2 and 5, this is accomplished by the parts shown to the right of bracket 45. The rod 46 turns downwardly and is pivoted on a fixed pivot pin 85. This will of course cause the vertical part of rod 46 to move rearwardly. Extending loosely through the rod 46 is a thin pin 86 which forms a shoulder 87 with an actuating rod 80. Return movement of the rod 46 is provided by tension spring 68. In a manner to be described below, this rightward movement of rod 80 will actuate microswitch 106.

The two gate operating mechanisms are substantially the same between the front plates 22 and 23 and the bracket 45. The rod 46 is designated as in FIG. 2 and the righthand end thereof turns upwardly and terminantes in the middle of a lower coil portion of an extension rod 82 which is permitted to moveright to left (as shown in FIG. 2) but is otherwise guided in the channel 83 (see also FIG. 7), this rod 82 being connected at its upper end to a fixed pivot pin 84. As seen in FIG. 5, the rod 82 is articulated with a thin pin 88 having a shoulder 89 between it and another actuating rod 81. A return spring 92 (FIG. 2) returns the rod 82 and hence also the rod 70 back to the original position after actuation has been completed.

Thus, upon actuation either of the rods 46 or 70, in addition to opening a shelf, will cause rearward movement of their respective rods 80 and 81 for transmitting an electrical signal. It is necessary that only one of the two rods 80 or 81 be actuated at any given time. To assure this, there is provided an interlock system 90 comprising a bracket 75 having a pair of circular openings 78 and 79 formed therein for receiving rods 80 and 81, respectively, and a pair of notches 91 formed in the rods 80 and 81 and receiving between them a rod 76 which is mounted at its upper end (FIG. 2) by a cotter pin 77 which permits this rod 76 to dangle freely between the rods 80 and 81. The diameter of rod 76 is greater than the depth of either notch 91 but slightly less than the distance from the bottom of one notch to the outer surface of the other rod. Thus, when either rod 80 or 81 is pushed, dangling rod 76 will move into the notch of the other, preventing it from also moving. One position of rod 76 is shown in solid lines in FIG. 5 and the other is shown in dotted lines.

One feature of the embodiment of FIGS. 2-5 and 7 is that the electrical components be spaced from the compartment section itself so that the latter may be refrigerated and the electrical components located outside of the refrigerated area. For this purpose the rods 80 and 81 extend through a tube 95 separated vertically by suitable means such as cotter pins 97 and 98, the tube 95 being held to the side wall 12 by a suitable bracket 96. The electrical means are then provided in control box 100.

Referring to the righthand end of FIG. 2 and FIG. 5, this control box 100 includes a bracket 101 for supporting the tube 95. The righthand ends of rods 80 and 81 include a lowered position shown in FIG. 2 abutting the side of a blocking member 102. In the condition shown, no shelf can be opened and no electrical signal can be transmitted because any attempt to move the rods 46 or 70 to the right will cause the respective rods 80 and 81 to simply abut the blocking member 102. To turn on the lower shelf operating mechanism, a solenoid 109 having a rod 110 is actuated by closing a master switch 113 whereby the rod 110 will raise the bar 81 above the blocking member 102 and into the path of leaf 108 so that when rod 81 is actuated it will engage the leaf 108 depressing buttons 107 of microswitch 106. An identical solenoid unit, electrical system including a control master switch and an identical microswitch unit 106-108 is provided for the rod 80. When either of these microswitches 106 are actuated, they transmit electrical signal through the lines 111 for transmitting to the cashier or check-out area of the hotel cost information concerning the dispensed articles.

The operation of the embodiment of FIGS. 2-5 and 7 is evident from the preceding discussion. To briefly summarize, each shelf operating mechanism is first raised until the projection 38 is above leaf 48. As is evident from FIG. 3, when the plate 31 is being raised the projections 36, 37 and 38 will engage leaf 48. To permit these projections to move past leaf 48, the latter is permitted to swing freely about rod 46, but only to the extent permitted by bar 49. When the projection 38 is raised above leaf 48, the latter falls downwardly resting on bar 52 and the plate 31 is dropped until projection 38 rests on leaf 48. In this position, both locking channels 33 and 34 lock their respective control pins 18a and 18b. In the manner described above, the guests then push the button 53 causing rod 46 to move through its cycle forwardly very rapidly by a snap action, thus assuring both downward movement of the plate 31 to open the upper compartment and engagement of rod with its microswitch (all of this being possible only if the master switch 113 has been closed so that solenoid 109 lifts the rod 80 above the blocking member 102). Spring 68 assures return movement of the rods 46 and 80 upon release of button 53. While a single solenoid 109 may be provided for both rods 80 and 81, it is preferable to use separate solenoids to provide separate control. For example, it may be desired to put an alcoholic beverage such as beer into one of the groups of compartments such as compartments 13a and 13b and a compact continental breakfast in the other group of compartments, i.e., compartments 20a and 20b. In this case, it would be necessary to open the switch 113 to prevent any sale of the alcoholic beverages during certain hours or on certain days but there would be no need to turn off the mechanism for dispensing the continental breakfast during these times.

After a gate has been released, it should give the appearance of being released so as to avoid any possible confusion.-For this purpose, referring to FIGS. 1 and 6, there is provided a weight 121 pivotally mounted on pivot pin in the side wall 11. The weight of element 121 acts along surface 122 against the pin 19 of the gate thxs urging the pin 19 and hence its respective gate outwardly. Consequently, if that gate has already been released, i.e., it is not being held by a closing channel on the opposite side, then the gate will move forwardly slightly so that it will not appear to be locked shut.

FIG. 8 illustrates another embodiment of the invention either usable in a non-refrigerated embodiment or usable in a refrigerated environment wherein it is determined that it will do no harm to have the electrical elements within the refrigerated area.

In the embodiment of FIG. 8, the compartment assembly including the gates and in fact the entire front thereof as shown in FIG. 1 and the lefthand side thereof as shown in FIG. 6 are precisely the same as in the earlier described embodiment. Moreover, there would be a pair of operator plates 31a and 31b arranged precisely as shown in FIG. 2 with their respective elements 30, and 32-40.

The essential difference in FIG. 8 is the control mechanism itself. In this case there is provided a fixed U-channel member fixed to the side wall 12 and containing aligned openings 131 and 132 in the legs of channel 130 and an elongated slot 133 also formed in the lefthand leg of channel 130. A microswitch 134 having a microswitch button 135 is fixed to the base of channel 130.

In this case, the control rods are replaced by a single U-shaped rod having a control leg 141 and a switch leg 142. The latter includes a raised end 143 arranged to depress button 135 when the element 140 is moved to the right. A suitable washer 144 is fixed onto control leg 141 and has attached to it one end of a spring 145, the other end of which abuts the righthand leg of channcl 130. Another washer 153 is fixed onto leg 141 adjacent bar 49 in which is mounted leaf 48. At its righthand end, the leg 141 has attached to it a spring 146 which at its other end is attached to an armature 147 of a solenoid 148.

ln the embodiment of FIG. 8, the gate operating mechanism is controlled electrically. In this case, a selection switch 149 is mounted on the plate 22 and is closed upon depression by the guest of the button 150. This embodiment includes a master switch 152 swerving the same function as the master switch 113 in the previously described embodiment. lf master switch 152 is closed and button 150 is depressed, current will be transmitted through wires 151 to the solenoid 148 which then pulls the armature 147 inwardly, thus, through spring 146, urging the entire U-shaped rod 140 to the right. The leaf 48 will cooperate with the projections on plate 31a in precisely the same manner as in the previously described emb'odimentfor releasing a control pin while the end 143 of leg 142 depresses button 135 of microswitch 134 thus transmitting electrical current through lines 154 for recording the charge of the dispensed articles in the cashier or check-out area of the hotel. Depression of button 150 after both shelves have been opened will still transmit current to the solenoid 148. However, in this case since leaf 48 will be blocked by projection 39, movement of armature 147 will only stretch spring 146 but will not move the rod 140 to the right and hence there will be no contact between end 143 and microswitch button 135. The leaf 48 is permitted to swing about leg 141 to an extent limited by bar 49 for precisely the same reason as described above with respect to the earlier embodiment.

The occurrence of both gate release and signal transmission is assured in this case since the solenoid acts very rapidly and very powerfully thus assuring a strong movement of rod 140 to the right to assure gate releasing motion. Obviously such motion will also be necessity trip the button 135 of microswitch 134. In fact, in this embodiment the movement has been found to be so fast that without some assistance the leaf 48, after having been moved to the right, could move back to the left before the projection previously resting on it moved vertically beneath it. For example, referring to FIG. 8, movement to the right could be so fast the the leaf 48 could well return to simply abut the edge of projection 37. To prevent this, a spring 155 has been added, to assure rapid downward movement of plate 31 after the leaf 48 has moved to the right beyond projection 37 and before it starts its return movement. The strong return movement is of course provided by the spring 145 acting against washer 144 fixed onto the leg 141.

Another advantage of the present invention is that owing to the construction and arrangement of the gate operating mechanism and the fact that the gate operating mechanism itself would not be accessible to the guest, a gate, once opened, cannot be voluntarily or involuntarily relocked by the guest.

Although the invention has been described in considerable detail with respect to preferred embodiments thereof, it will be apparent that the invention is capable of numerous modifications and variations apparent to those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

1 claim:

I. An article dispensing apparatus comprising:

a plurality of compartments, each including a gate mounted for movement between a closed position in which it closes the compartment to prevent removal by hand of the compartment contents, and an open position in which the compartment is opened for direct access by hand for removal of the contents therein,

an operating means for holding said gates in the closed position to prevent direct access by hand above the said compartments,

a control mechanism operable through a cycle for operating on the operating means for releasing the gate of one of said compartments from said closed position during each said cycle, permitting that gate to be manually moved to the open position for direct hand access to that respective compartment for the removal of the contents therein,

electrical signal means for transmitting an electrical signal when the control mechanism is operated through said cycle, to release a gate from said closed position,

and means mounting said control mechanism for a rapid snap action movement during a portion of said cycle, during which portion the control mechanism both operates the operating means to release the next shelf and causes said electrical signal means to transmit the electrical signal, thereby assuring that during any cycle of the control mechanism neither one of (a) release of a gate from the closed position to a manually operable position nor (b) the transmission of said electrical signal, occurs without the other also occuring,

and prevent means for preventing the control mecha nism from causing said electrical signal to be transmitted when all of said gates controlled by the said operating means have already been released.

2. An article dispensing apparatus according to claim 1, in which during each successive cycle, the control mechanism releases one of said gates, thereby permitting manual access to one compartment for each cycle of operation thereof.

3. An article dispensing apparatus according to claim 1 including an electrically operated master control means for either permitting or preventing operation of said control mechanism through said cycle.

4. An article dispensing apparatus according to claim 1, said control mechanism comprising a control rod movable longitudinally forwardly and then back through said cycle.

5. An article dispensing apparatus according to claim 4, wherein the gate of a compartment is opened and the electrical signal is transmitted during the forward movement of the rod, and including spring means for returning the rod back to its original position.

6. An article dispensing apparatus according to claim 5, including a drive member, the movement of which moves the control rod forwardly and including a spring in the drive connection between the drive member and the control rod.

7. An article dispensing apparatus according to claim 6, said operating means comprising an operating memher having a lock engaging a part of the gate of each compartment for preventing the opening of each compartment, and means operatively interconnecting the control rod and the operating member such that during each successive cycle the operating member releases successive ones of said gates, thereby making openable successive ones of said compartments.

8. An article dispensing apparatus according to claim 7, said operating member being an operator plate movable in a second direction perpendicular to the direction of movement of the control rod, said operator Ell plate including projections, a leaf on the control rod and engaging the projections of the operator plate such that as the control rod moves forward and back through each said cycle, the operator plate moves in said second direction an amount to release the gate of one further compartment.

9. An article dispensing apparatus according to claim 8, each gate including a pin extending laterally, said opera-tor member including a separate lock channel for locking the pin of each gate to hold that gate in said closed position, the pins being staggered in said second direction relative to their lock channels such that during each said cycle, the operator plates, moving in said second direction, releases only the pin of one gate during each of said cycles.

10. An article dispensing apparatus according to claim 9, including a means for moving to a partially opened position each gate which is not being held in a closed position by its respective lock channel.

11. An article dispensing apparatus according to claim 1, said control mechanism comprising a control rod movable forwardly and then back during each cycle, an electrically operated solenoid operable upon actuation of a button for moving the control rod forwardly, and said electrical signal means including a switch positioned to be engaged by said control red as the control rod moves forwardly to transmit said electrical signal.

12. An article dispensing apparatus according to claim 11 including a spring operatively interconnecting said solenoid to said control rod and wherein during each successive cycle the control mechanism releases one of said gates, thereby permitting manual access to one compartment for each cycle of operation, and said prevent means including means for preventing movement of the control rod in said forward direction after the control mechanism has completed the number of cycles equal to the total number of said compartments, whereby, upon actuation of said solenoid after all gates have been made openable, the said spring will stretch but said control rod will not move forwardly, whereby an electrical signal will not be transmitted.

13. An article dispensing apparatus according to claim 11, said control rod being U-shaped, having two generally parallel legs extending in the direction of said forward and back movment, said solenoid operatively connected to one of said legs, and said switch positioned in the path of the other leg to be engaged thereby as the rod moves forwardly.

14. An article dispensing apparatus according to claim 13, said operating means comprising an operating member having a lock engaging a part of the gate of each compartment for preventing the opening of each compartment, and means operatively interconnecting the control rod and the operating member such that during each successive cycle, the operating member releases successive ones of said gates, thereby making openable successive ones of said compartments, said operating member being an operating plate movable in a second direction perpendicular to the direction of movement of the control rod, said operator plate including projections, a leaf loosely mounted on one leg of the control rod and extending across the other leg thereof to engage the said projections, means for preventing movement of said leaf relative to the control rod in the forward and back directions, wherein as the control rod moves forward and back through each cycle,'the operator plate moves in said second di rection an amount to release the gate of one further compartment.

15. An article dispensing apparatus according to claim 13, said plurality of compartments arranged vertically one abovethe other with a gate at an end of each compartment, a vertical side wall common to all said compartments, said operating means including an operator plate mounted for vertical movement on the side wall, said control rod being operatively connected to the side wall for horizontal sliding movement, each gate having a pin extending through an opening on the side wall, said operator plate having a separate locking channel for engaging each said gate pin, the locking channels being so staggered vertically relative to their gate pins that during each cycle of operation of the control rod, the operator plate moves downwardly one step and only one gate pin is released from its respective lock channel.

16. An article dispensing apparatus according to claim ll, said control mechanism comprising a first control rod engaging said operating means and said electrical signal means, and a second control rod generally parallel to the first rod, means responsive to a manually operable button for moving the second control rod for storing spring energy and then releasing said spring energy to move the first control rod rapidly to both operate the operating means to release one of said gates from said closed position, rendering that gate openable for hand access to the contents therein and substantially concurrently engaging an electrical switch to transmit said electrical signal.

17. An article dispensing apparatus according to claim 16, including a U-channel fixed on the first rod, said second rod passing through both legs thereof and a spring on the second rod between the legs of the U, urging the second rod to its rearward position, a control plate in the path of the leading leg of the U-channel during its forward movement, a raised lip on the path of the end of the second rod, wherein said spring starts compressing when the said leading leg of the U-channel engages the control plate and is released to act through the channel to urge the first rod forwardly rapidly when the end of the second rod engages the said raised lip.

18. An article dispensing apparatus according to claim 16, said operating means comprising an operating member having a lock engaging a part of the gate of each compartment for preventing the opening of each compartment, and means operatively interconnecting the first control rod and the operating member such that during each successive cycle, the operating member releases successive ones of said gates, thereby making openable successive ones of said compartments, said operating member being an operating plate movable in a second direction perpendicular to the direction of movement of the first control rod, said operator plate including projections, a leaf loosely mounted on the first control rod and extending across the second control rod to engage the said projections, means for preventing movement of said leaf relative to the first control rod in the forward and back directions, wherein as the first control rod moves foward and back through each cycle, the operator plate moves in said second direction an amount to release the gate of one further compartment.

19. An article dispensing apparatus according to claim 16, said plurality of compartments arranged vertically one above the other with a gate at an end of each compartment, a side wall common to all compartments, said first control rod comprising two parts including a first part engaged by the second rod mounted adjacent the side wall and articulated to a second part in the form of a rod, said second part extending beyond the borders of the side wall, a switch in the path of movement of the second part, and said switch constituting said electrical signal means.

20. An article dispensing apparatus according to claim 19, including master control means for moving the second part laterally between two positions including one position in which the second part can not be moved longitudinally and another position in which the second part is movable longitudinally to engage its switch when its first part is actuated by the said second rod.

21. An article dispensing apparatus according to claim 20, including two groups of pluralities of compartments, each having its own said control means, and wherein the second part of both control means extend parallel to each other from said engagement with their respective first parts to their respective master control means and their respective switches.

22. An operating mechanism for a vending machine of the type in which goods are stored in compartments which are made openable by operation of such mechanism, comprising:

operating means for keeping the compartments closed,

a control rod operable through a cycle forwardly and then back, operating the operating means during the forward part of its cycle to open one compartment during each cycle of operation,

an electrical signal means physically engaged by said control rod during the forward movement thereof for transmitting an electrical signal substantially concurrently with the opening of a compartment,

and means mounting said control rod for rapid snapaction movement during said forward portion of its cycle for positively assuring that during any of said cycles of the control rod, neither (a) the opening of a compartment nor (b) the transmission of an electrical signal, occurs without the other also occuring.

23. An operating mechanism according to claim 22, said electrical signal means being a switch in the path of movement of the control rod.

24. An operating mechanism according to claim 23, said control rod being a U-shaped member, one leg engaging the switch, and the other leg operatively engaging a solenoid, a button means for operating the solenoid to move the control rod through its said cycle.

25. An operating mechanism according to claim 23, said control rod including a first rod arranged to engage said switch to transmit said electrical signal and said operating means to open a compartment and including a second rod adjacent the first rod, a button accessible for pushing the second rod, and said assuring means comprising a means for loading a spring on the second rod as the button is pushed and then exerting the force of the spring against the first rod to rapidly move the first rod to open a compartment and engage a switch to transmit said electrical signal.

26. An article dispensing apparatus comprising:

a plurality of compartments, each including a gate mounted for movement between a closed position in which it closes the compartment to prevent removal by hand of the compartment contents, and an open position in which the compartment is opened for direct access by hand for removal of the contents therein,

an operating means for holding said gates in the closed position to prevent direct access by hand to said compartments,

control means operable through a cycle for operating on the operating means for releasing the gate of one of said compartments from said closed position during each said cycle, permitting that gate to be manually moved to the open position for direct hand access to that respective compartment for the removal of the contents therein,

electrical signal means for transmitting an electrical signal when the control means is operated through said cycle,

and means for positively assuring that during any cycle of the control means neither one of (a) release of a gate from the closed position to a manually operable position nor (b) the transmission of said electrical signal, occurs without the other also occuring,

said control means comprising a control rod movable longitudinally forwardly and then back through said cycle, and wherein the gate of a compartment is opened and the electrical signal is transmitted during the forward movement of the rod, and including a spring means for returning the rod back to its original position.

27. An article dispensing apparatus according to claim 26, including a drive member, the movement of which moves the control rod forwardly and including a spring in the drive connection between the drive member and the control rod.

28. An article dispensing apparatus according to claim 27, said operating means comprising an operating member having a lock engaging a part of the gate of each compartment for preventing the opening of each compartment, and means operatively interconnecting the control rod and the operating member such that during each successive cycle the operating member releases successive ones of said gates, thereby making openable successive ones of said compartments.

* t t i

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3884386 *Jul 27, 1973May 20, 1975Francisco Arin UrcolaDevice for automatically supplying drinks and foodstuff
US4075463 *Mar 1, 1977Feb 21, 1978Yurramendi Eguizabal Jose MiguDevice for automatically supplying drinks and foodstuffs
US4616316 *Jan 13, 1983Oct 7, 1986The United States Of America As Represented By The Administrator Of Veterans AffairsMedication compliance monitoring device having conductive traces upon a frangible backing of a medication compartment
US4629090 *Jan 24, 1984Dec 16, 1986Robobar LimitedHotel room bar with optical sensing system
US5339250 *Oct 22, 1992Aug 16, 1994Inn Room Systems, Inc.Interactive network for remotely controlled hotel vending systems
US7533784Jun 12, 2007May 19, 2009Rock-Tenn Shared Services, LlcTheft deterrent system hook
US7641072Sep 27, 2006Jan 5, 2010Rock-Tenn Shared Services, LlcTheft deterrent system
US8190289Sep 25, 2009May 29, 2012Rock-Tenn Shared Services, LlcDispensing and display system
US8215520Oct 31, 2008Jul 10, 2012Rock-Tenn Shared Services, LlcSecure merchandising system
US8353425Jun 2, 2010Jan 15, 2013Rock-Tenn Shared Services, LlcTime delay product pushing system
US8386075Apr 26, 2012Feb 26, 2013Rock-Tenn Shared Services, LlcDispensing and display system
US8485391May 22, 2009Jul 16, 2013Rock-Tenn Shared Services, LlcTheft deterrent system
US8646650Jan 28, 2011Feb 11, 2014Rock-Tenn Shared Services, LlcProduct dispensing system
Classifications
U.S. Classification221/7
International ClassificationG07F11/62, A47F3/026, G07F5/18, G07F9/00
Cooperative ClassificationG07F11/002, G07F5/18, G07F11/62, G07F9/00
European ClassificationG07F11/00B, G07F11/62, G07F9/00, G07F5/18
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Dec 19, 1988AS02Assignment of assignor's interest
Owner name: BARVENDER, INC.
Owner name: OBUCHOUESKI, STANLEY, NOT INDIVIDUALLY BUT AS ASSI
Effective date: 19880527
Dec 19, 1988ASAssignment
Owner name: OBUCHOUESKI, STANLEY, NOT INDIVIDUALLY BUT AS ASSI
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST.;ASSIGNOR:BARVENDER, INC.;REEL/FRAME:004983/0925
Effective date: 19880527
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:BARVENDER, INC.;REEL/FRAME:004983/0925