US 3755663 A
The display device has a plurality of low voltage unbased miniature lamps connected in series at spaced intervals to form substrings which are coupled in parallel between a pair of elongated parallel wire conductors at spaced intervals corresponding to the length of the substrings. The assembly is collapsed in parallelogram fashion by bringing the parallel wire conductors together so that the substrings extend lengthwise to be slidably inserted into a transparent flexible tube. The ends of the wire conductors are coupled to suitable end plugs for connection to an appropriate low voltage power source. The tubes can be cut to desired lengths, and be bent and shaped in patterns to, for example, outline different structures for attractive decorative effects.
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
1111 3,755,663 1451 Aug. 28, 1973 ELECTRICAL DISPLAY DEVICE AND METHOD OF MAKING THE SAME  Inventor: Ben 8. George, Jr., Santa Ana, Calif.
 Assignee: Shelly Associates, Inc., Santa Ana,
 Filed: Nov. 17, 1971 ] Appl. No.: 199,489
 U.S. c1. 240/10 R, 313/317  1111. c1. F2lr 23/00, H01 j 5/00  Field of Search 240/9, 10, 52, 2 R, 240/2 B; 313/315, 317, 318
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,714,414 1/1973 Stemius 240/10 R 2,587,855 3/1957 161mm 240/9 R x 3,188,794 6/1965 Johnson 240/9 R x 3,309,806 3/l967 Gallagher.... 240/9 R x 3,633,023 1/1972 Castiglioni 240/10 R 3,662,381 5/1972 Steffens 240/10 R x 3,569,689 3/ 1971 Nestrock 240/9 R X Primary in r-Jose h E. Peters, Jr. Attorney-George Frazier Bethel 57] ABSTRACT The display device has a plurality of low voltage unbased miniature lamps connected in series at spaced intervals to form substrings which are coupled in parallel between a pair of elongated parallel wire conductors at spaced intervals corresponding to the length of the substrings. The assembly is collapsed in parallelogram fashion by bringing the parallel wire conductors together so that the substrings extend lengthwise to be slidably inserted into a transparent flexible tube. The ends of the wire conductors are coupled to suitable end plugs for connection to an appropriate low voltage power source. The tubes can be cut to desired lengths, and be bent and shaped in patterns to, for example, outline different structures for attractive decorative effects.
6 Claims, 3 Drawing Figures ELECTRICAL DISPLAY DEVICE AND METHOD OF MAKING THE SAME BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention The present invention relates to decorative light display devices and methods of making them.
2. Prior Art Decorative lighting effects are widely used to enhance the appearance of commercial facilities such as restaurants and places of entertainment, both indoors and outdoors, and are even used to an increasing extent in homes. One of the most attractive decorative lighting effects is achieved in outlining various shapes with strings of spaced lights, such as around doors, windows, mirrors, or railings. In darkened surroundings, the lights are not only decorative, but also provide illumination of a structure and the surrounding area for safety.
Heretofore, such lighting effects have primarily been achieved through the use of light strings with individual sockets for based lamps spaced at intervals. The individual lamp sockets or portions of the string between the sockets had to be secured to the structure being outlined. To produce a uniform effect, the strings had to be attached with considerable care to insure that all sockets would be oriented with their lamps in a desired direction. Also, since these light strings generally operated with available power at 110 or 220 volts, the strings had to be carefully insulated from any flammable or electrically conductive structure and installed by trained electricians to meet applicable electrical safety standards.
Also, rigid preformed strips with spaced lamp sockets have sometimes been used. However, these generally were made to order to fit specific geometric shapes and sizes, a prohibitively expensive procedure for small quantities.
These prior arrangements are also subject to other difficulties. In unprotected outdoor displays, the lamp sockets and other electrical components are exposed to moisture and other deteriorating weather effects. Moreover, the high lamp voltages and exposed fragile bulbs present a distinct hazard to people in the vicinity, particularly in crowded areas, and the bulbs can easily be broken or removed unless placed only in inaccessible locations. The foregoing disadvantages have been overcome by the display devices of the present inventron.
BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION In accordance with the invention as previously noted in the Abstract above, unitary strips of decorative lights are provided in convenient lengths at relatively low cost. The strings can be bent, formed and cut to desired lengths by the user to conform to almost any desired shape in achieving a variety of decorative lighting effects with minimum expense and effort.
In the preferred form, unbased low voltage miniature lamps, such as the commercially designated 715, 6 volt, unbased incandescent lamp, having elongated flexible wire leads. These lamps are inexpensive and can be easily assembled together to form the desired low voltage substrings by soldering or low voltage welding. Low voltage operating requirements permit easy installation even by the unskilled users without the need for licensed supervision or approval under applicable electrical safety and building codes. Moreover, wiring, lamp bulbs and connections are enclosed and protected against breakage, moisture, and other harmful effects within insulative transparent tubing that serves to enhance the decorative appearance and illumination provided by the individual lamps. Individual lighting strips of standard lengths can be cut to desired lengths, or connected by plugs to form longer lengths as may be desired for a particular application.
The method of manufacture of the display device of the invention permits its production in a substantially continuous manner. Thus, after sheathing of the continuous folded assembly, within the insulative tubing, individual display devices can be made by cutting the tubing and contained assemblies between substrings. Such procedure enables a plurality of the present devices to be simply, quickly and inexpensively fabricated.
DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. I is a schematic side elevation of a preferred embodiment of the electrical display device of the invention;
FIG. 2 is an enlarged schematic fragmentary side elevation of the conduit and substring assembly of the embodiment of FIG. 1 before folding and; sheathing the same;
FIG. 3 shows a fragmented cross sectional view of the means for connecting a plurality of the display devices of this invention.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION A preferred embodiment of the electrical display device of the invention is schematically depicted in FIG. 1 of the drawings. As shown in FIG. 1, a display device 10 is provided which includes a pair of relatively stiff, electrically insulated wires 12 lying parallel to one another and interconnected by a plurality of spaced lamp substrings 14 connected in parallel.
Each substring 14 has a plurality of spaced electrical display means in the form of unbased miniature lamps 16 having flexible leads l8. Lamps 16 are connected in series by soldering or preferably welding the flexible lamp leads 18 together end to end. The heavier wires 12 are preferably light gauge hook-up wire with a lacquer or other insulative coating that melts or boils off when the lamp leads 18 at each end of the substrings are connected thereto by soldering or welding at spaced intervals, usually about three to twelve inches. The wires 12 and substrings 14, when joined together, comprise the light assembly 20.
In order to obtain the desired configuration, such as is shown in FIG. 1, the relatively stiff wires 12 are first laid parallel to one another and spaced apart, as shown in FIG. 2. The substrings 14 are placed parallel to each other and have their opposite ends connected at spaced intervals along the length of the wire leads 12. The intervals preferably at least slightly exceed the length of each substring 14 so that when the light assembly 20 is subsequently folded, adjacent substrings 14 will not overlap each other.
As the next step in the present method, assembly 20, in the form shown in FIG. 2, is folded by axially displacing one of the lead wires 12 relative to the other and approximating them. In other words, assembly 20 is collapsed in parallelogram fashion. This causes lead wires 12 to overlie each other, with the substrings 14 extending longitudinally so that the leads l8 and lamps 16 are roughly in a straight line. Substrings 14 in this position provide a substantially continuous non-overlapping string of equally spaced lamps 16 which can easily be severed at points between substrings 14 without requiring rewiring.
The folded assembly 20, now elongated and compact, is pushed, or preferably drawn by a hook on a string first dropped through the upright tube, into insulative tubing 22. The tubing 22 is preferably a clear transparent plastic that is flexible or deformable so that device 10 can be bent easily to any desired shape to frame, decorate or contrast with other objects, such as display frames, windows, doorways, trees, etc. In one form, the tubing 22 may be of an acrylic plastic that is formable into permanent configuration by low temperature heating and shaping. As an example, a somewhat flexible'clear transparent hollow tubing of /4 inch LD. and as inch OD. is employed. It will be appreciated that other types of tubing can be used, if desired, such as thin translucent and even colored tubing may be employed.
The device 10 may be formed in various standard lengths with an integral number of substrings and the resulting assembly can be shortened, or even divided into a plurality of devices 10 by cutting through tubing 22 and assembly 20 between adjacent substrings 14. Each device 10 so formed is then fitted with accessory components to facilitate its use as an electrical display means. Also, the device may have substrings 14 with varying numbers of lamps to meet varying supply voltage requirements and lamp ratings. Typically, a stepdown transformer 24 or a voltage divider resistor (not shown), wiring 26 and plug 28, as shown schematically in FIG. 1, can be used to connect each device 10 with a line power source (not shown) and reduce line voltage to that appropriate for the series connected lamps 16 involved, for example, to l2, 16, 24 volts or the like. Any UL approved Class II transformer or its equivalent can be used, and the low voltages required increase the safety of device 10.
The opposite ends of the tube 22 are closed or sealed by an appropriate means depending upon the use to be made of the particular device. For example, if only one length of the display device is desired, one end may be sealed simply by a snuggly fitting cap 30 inserted into or over the end of the tube 22 while the other end is covered with an appropriate plug type connector for making the electrical connections from the transformer power source to the insulated lead wires 12 within the tube.
Preferably, as shown in FIG. 3, the individual lengths may be provided with interlocking end connectors to permit simple in line connection of additional lengths as may be desired. This is readily accomplished with standard male and female dual pin connectors 34, commonly known as bi-pin connectors. These have cylindrical plugs 36 of insulative material matching the interior diameter of the tube 22, with stiff conductive wires 38 protruding from one end to be connected by clamping a metal sleeve 40 onto it and the adjacent end of each of the conductive wire leads 12. The outer ends of the connectors have either a pair of stiff wire pins 42 on the male type, which are merely extensions of the wire forming the pin 38 on the other end, or a pair of conductive receptacles 44 for the female type, which are embedded in the plug 36 to slidably receive the protruding wire pins 42 of the adjacent tube, holding them in a tight fit.
The connector is partially inserted into the ends of the tube, and is preferably held in place by a short length of heat shrinkable tubing 46 that is positioned to overlap the ends of the tube and a portion of the exposed plug 36 so that when heat is applied, it shrinks to form a tight seal around both the tube end and the exposed portion of the plug.
Similarly, when a standard length of tubing 22 is cut to a smaller size between substrings, the resulting open end is easily sealed and provided with an end connector by simply inserting the desired type of bi-pin connector and holding it in place while a piece of heat-shrinkable tubing is positioned over the end and shrunk into place with the application of heat, as from a hand-held heat gun. If on the other hand, the cut is not made between substrings, but at a point between lamps in a given substring, then a small resistor (not shown) having a resistance equivalent to the number of lamps removed from the substring has to be inserted in series with the remaining lamps of the substring and attached by welding, soldering or clamping to the severed end of the appropriate lead wire 12.
In operation, the lamps when lit show brilliantly through the tubing 22 to give a unique decorative effect wherein each lamp appears as a separate bright spot with star like radiations. The interior wiring is rendered virtually invisible, except upon very close examination. Standard lengths of the devices can be custom shaped, cut to desired lengths, or bent to properly frame, illustrate or otherwise decoratively enhance and illuminate other articles, all in a convenient, safe and durable manner.
What is claimed is:
1. An improved electrical display device comprising:
a pair of parallel spaced electrical wire conductors;
a plurality of unbased electrical lamp substrings connected in parallel between said wire conductors at spaced intervals along the length thereof, each substring comprising a plurality of spaced series connected lamps joined by flexible leads to each other between said wire conductors at points axially displaced from the connection to the other respective wire conductor and wherein said substrings are folded down adjacent said wire conductors to form a compact, elongated folded assembly;
an electrically insulative light transmitting tube enclosing said folded assembly; and,
means secured to said assembly for connecting said wire conductors to a power source for actuation of said electrical display means.
2. The improved electrical display device of claim 1 wherein:
said wire conductors comprise a pair of stiff, electrically insulated wires;
said tube is a transparent plastic tubing; and, wherein said electrical display means comprises a plurality of low voltage unbased miniature lamps having flexible leads forming said lamp substrings.
3. The improved electrical display device of claim 2 wherein:
said tube is heat deformable into a permanent shape;
said means for connecting said assembly to a power source includes means for a low voltage power source.
4. A method of making an electrical display device which comprises:
electrically connecting in parallel a plurality of electrical lamp substrings at spaced intervals along the length of a plurality of spaced parallel electrical conductor wires, each said substring being connected to a plurality of said conductor wires and comprising a plurality of spaced series connected said conductors comprise a pair of stiff, electrically insulated lead wires;
said tube is flexible and heat deformable and,
said substrings for the electrical display device comprise a plurality of low voltage lamps with flexible wire leads.
6. The method of claim 5 wherein:
said tube comprises a thermoplastic material; and,
said substrings are connected to said pair of stiff lead wires at spaced intervals at least slightly exceeding the length of said substrings so that in the folded position of said assembly, said substrings closely approximate but do not overlap each other, so as to facilitate cutting therebetween to trim said device to a desired length whereby said substrings form a substantially continuous non-overlapping display lighting string.