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Publication numberUS3770945 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateNov 6, 1973
Filing dateApr 10, 1972
Priority dateJan 18, 1971
Publication numberUS 3770945 A, US 3770945A, US-A-3770945, US3770945 A, US3770945A
InventorsDlugos D, Freeman G, Piotroski P
Original AssigneePitney Bowes Inc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Parcel postage metering system
US 3770945 A
Abstract
A parcel postage metering system includes electromechanical apparatus for positioning the various digit selector arms of a postage meter in accordance with the corresponding digits of the postage, held in an output register, applicable to a parcel as determined on the basis of its weight and destination. A motor drives the various digit selector arms through individual clutches, and the instantaneous digit positions of the arms are separately compared with the corresponding postage digits in the output register. As comparisons are achieved, the associated clutches are disengaged leaving the arms in appropriate postage digit selection positions.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent Dlugos et al. 1 1 Nov. 6, 1973 1 1 PARCEL POSTAGE METERING SYSTEM 2,796,830 6/1957 Hilton 235/92 EA 1 Inventors: Daniel F. g unt ngton; 3,356,021 12/1967 May et al. 235/619 R Gerald C. Freeman, Norwalk; Peter N. piotmski, Stamford, a" of C0nn Primary Examiner-Thomas A. Robinson Assistant ExaminerJoseph M. Thesz, Jr. [73] Assignee: Pitney-Bowes, lnc., Stamford, Conn. Atmmey A1be1-t w Scribner [22] Filed: Apr. 10, 1972 [21] Appl. No.: 242,851 1 1 ABSTRACT Related Application Data A parcel postage metering system includes electrome- [62] Division of Ser No 107 223 Jan 18 1971 Pat No chanical apparatus for positioning the various digit se- 3 692 988 lector arms of a postage meter in accordance with the corresponding digits of the postage, held in an output [52] CL 235/92 EA 235/92 CA 235/61 9 C register, applicable to a parcel as determined on the 10093 6 basis of its weight and destination A motor drives the [51 I lnL CL G06m 3/06 various digit selector arms through individual clutches, [58] Field EA 92 CA and the instantaneous digit positions of the arms are 92 {01/93 separately compared with the corresponding postage digits in the output register. As comparisons are [56] References Cited achieved, the associated clutches are disengaged leav- UNITED STATES PATENTS ing the arms in appropriate postage digit selection positions. 3,092,020 6/1963 Borutzke et al 101/93 C 2,893,311 7/1959 Wright et a1. 101/93 C 4 Claims, 7 Drawing Figures E6 58( I00) ROY EMT POSTAGE DIGIT SELECTION APPARATUS 30 REG saw/1) 522 r g 573 COMP CLUTCH 1 1 1 1 5 2b POSTAGE REG. 58(I) EXEC. HE K METER 1 1 1 1 75 V comp V 5 CLLgil-l 1 1 1 1 1 1 fine o REG 5800) 1 1 1 1 577 !e com CLLgiI-l 1 1 1 1 PATENTEU NOV 6 I975 3710.945 SHEET 10F 5 '1 PATENTEnnuv 5191s 3 770,9 5

sum 56F 5 lies 5s (/uoo) ROY EMT I 7 "W posmee men SELECTION APPARATUS 30 184 com CLUTCH 32 LL 550D Ilse 58('/lo) 572 573 coMp N CLUTCH HM s 2 POSTAGE Rec-h 59 l I Exec METER a? r 575 V 58 g2 51 comp 5 CLUTCH 1 +1 E L 2 1 l I 0 554b Ree sa e) b w l 57 577 com J X QLUTCH H? PARCEL POSTAGE METERING SYSTEM This is a division, of application Ser. No. 107,223 filed Jan. 18, 1971 now US. Pat. No. 3,692,988.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION There have been a number of proposals for parcel postage systems to be used in the processing of parcels for mailing or shipping. A comprehensive or universal system must be sufficiently flexible to handle a number of variables which are involved in mailing or shipping parcels. The weight of each parcel must be determined with reasonable accuracy and speed. The distances between the original and the various parcel destinations must be determined in order to identify the appropriate postal zone for each parcel. Then, the postage applicable to each parcel must be determined on the basis of its weight and destination or postal zone. Having determined the applicable postage, a postage meter or the like is then set up and controlled to issue a stamp imprinted with that postage; the stamp being adhered to the parcel.

There are other factors or variables which a truly universal system should be equipped to handle. For example, the United States Post Office offers various classes of parcel post service, such as surface parcel post and air parcel post, each with different postage rate schedules based according to weight and postal zone. Also, there is United Parcel Service which offers parcel shipping services. It would thus be desirable to have a system which can be selectively controlled to compute postage or shipping charges for each of these different services.

In addition, there are factors such as insurance, special handling, special delivery, etc. which are often times desired and preferably should be capable of system implementation. Also, the special situation involving the computation of postage or shipping charges for oversize parcels should be considered in the design of a universally flexible parcel postage system.

When dealing with United Parcel Service, there are special shipping situations which require an additional charge, such as when shipping from west to east. Moreover, United Parcel Service (UPS) does not have authorized land routes between a number of geographical locations and must resort to so-called drop shipping, which presents a special shipping charge situation. In some areas UPS has different rate schedules for intrastate and interstate shipments. All of these various situations should be accounted for.

Heretofore, some of the proposed parcel postage computing systems have been essentially special purpose" and thus inflexibe machines adapted to handle only a single class of postal service. Attempts to provide general purpose machines have resulted in extreme complexity; such systems being unwieldy from both the operator standpoint and the servicing standpoint.

From a practical standpoint, such systems cannot'operate without human intervention. At the very least, an

operator must be on hand to determine the postal zone of each parcel destination. This determination must then be introduced into the system as an operator input. Other operator inputs manifesting selections of service, class of service, insurance, etc., are called for if the system is to be applicable to diverse mailings. An oversize parcel situation must also be entered into the system by the operator if the correct postage is to be computed. Thus, operational simplicity is a most important consideration in the design of a truly flexible parcel postage system if the use of highly skilled and thus highly paid operating personnel is to be avoided.

It is accordingly and object of the present invention to provide electromechanical apparatus for positioning the postage digit selector arms of a postage meter in accordance with the postage determined by an automated parcel postage metering system.

A further object is to provide apparatus of the above character which is fast, reliable, and accurate.

Other objects of the invention will in part be obvious and in part appear hereinafter.

In accordance with the invention, there is provided apparatus for interfacing an electronic postage metering system with a conventional mechanical postage meter. Separate position encoders translate the digit positions of the various postage digit selector arms of the postage meter into coded digits which are compared with the corresponding postage digits stored in the system postage output register. The postage digit selector arms are separately driven through their various digit positions, and as each assumes the digit positions corresponding to the associated digits in the postage register, they are decoupled from their respective drives. When all have been positioned to set up a digit by digit comparison with the postage held in the postage register, the postage meter is triggered to issue a postage imprinted stamp.

The invention accordingly comprises the features of construction, combinations of elements, and arrangement of parts which will be exemplified in the constructions hereinafter set forth, and the scope of the invention will be indicated in the claims.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS For a fuller understanding of the nature and objects of the invention, reference should be had to the following detailed description taken in connection with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a parcel postage metering system incorporating the apparatus of with the invention;

FIG. 2 is an overal functional block diagram of the parcel postage metering system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a sectional view taken along line 33 of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a sectional view taken along line 4-4 of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a side elevation view of one end portion of one of the links interconnecting the postage digit selection apparatus of FIG. 3 and the postage meter of FIG.

FIG. 6 is a sectional view taken along line 6-6 of FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is a detailed logic block diagram of the postage data handling portion of the postage digit selection apparatus;

Like reference notations refer to corresponding parts throughout several views of the drawings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION Referring now to the drawings, and first to FIG. 1, a parcel postage system, such as disclosed in detail in the above-noted US. Pat. No. 3,692,988, includes a console, generally indicated at 10, which contains, among other things, electronic circuitry for processing weight and postage data. Parcel weight data is obtained from a scale, generally indicated at 12, incorporated in console 10, while postage data is primarily obtained from a memory drum, generally indicated at 14 and also accommodated within the console. As will be seen, memory drum 14 has two separate memory banks; one storing a postage rate schedule and the other storing a zip code to postal zone conversion table. The data stored on memory drum 14 is optically encoded as opaque and transparent binary bits which are sensed by optical readout stations. As seen in FIG. 1, a light emitter 16 shines light through the postage rate memory bank peripheral portion of the memory drum 14 to a receiver 18, consisting of an array of suitable photosensors such as phototransistors. Similarly, the zip to zone memory bank peripheral portion of the memory drum is read out using a light emitter 20 and a receiver 22. Memory drum 14 is rotated by a motor 24 and an interconnecting belt drive 25.

it will readily occur to those in the art that other forms of data memories may be employed in the system of the present invention. For example, the postage and zone data may be optically encoded on one or more transparent discs. Moreover, suitable data memories may be provided in the form of magnetically encoded discs and drums, or even magnetic core matrices, although it is preferred to use a cyclical memory wherein the data is revolved passed readout stations, thus simplifying accessing from a component standpoint.

The console also includes a control panel, generally indicated at 26 in FIG. 1, which contains a plurality of mode keys selectively depressed by an operator to initiate various system operating modes to be described. The control panel also includes numerical entry keys accommodating the manual input of data pursuant to the invention. Space is also provided in the control panel 26 to accommodate a display panel 26b where data is displayed; such data being system derived postage and weight data, as well as data entered from the control panel 26.

The console 10 is electrically linked to electromechanical postage selection apparatus, generally indi' cated at 30. The selection apparatus, as will be seen, is mechanically linked to a postage meter 32 of known construction, such as a Pitney-Bowes 5,300 Series Postage Meter. Parcel postage data derived at the console on the basis of the parcel weight is fed to the selection apparatus 30, which operates to mechanically position the various postage digit selector arms, jointly indicated at 33 in FIG. 1, by way of interconnecting links, jointly indicated at 34, so as to set up the postage meter 32 for the proper postage. The postage meter is then signaled to issue a stamp printed with the value of the postage received from console 10.

At this point, it should be pointed out that the system of the present invention is applicable to United States Post Office parcel post service and United Parcel Service (UPS). As is well known, a parcel can be sent either by parcel post (PP) or UPS. Thus, when reference is made to determining the applicable postage, this is intended to mean either the postage charged by the Post Office or the shipping charges applicable to the parcel if sent by UPS. Each service has its own rate schedule determined on the basis of the parcel weight, and, generally speaking, the distance the parcel is to be sent, and, in fact, the present invention contemplates storing both rates schedules on memory drum l4.

In practice, parcels would be separated into groups depending upon whether they are to be sent by PF or UPS. One group of parcels, for example, those to be sent by Parcel Post would be successively weighed on a scale 12 to obtain the parcel postage stamps from postage meter 32; the postage values being automatically deducted from a prepaid postage amount entered by postal officials. The parcel postage meter 32 would then be removed; the cover 31 being opened and the links 34 readily disconnected from the postage digit selector arms 33. A UPS meter is substituted, and the console 10 is conditioned to determine the shipping charges for the parcels to be sent by UPS.

Alternatively, separate selection apparatus 30 and mechanically interlinked meters 32 can be provided for each service. They would be separately electrically linked to the console and would be individually selected from the control panel 26 by the operator according to which service is to be employed, either PP or UPS, for each parcel being weighed on scale 12.

OVERALL SYSTEM BLOCK DIAGRAM The basic operation of the system of FIG. 1 will be more readily understood from the system block diagram seen in FIG. 2. With the exception the postage meter 32 and the electromechanical selection apparatus 30, all of the components seen in FIG. 8 are functionally and physically located within console 10. When a parcel is placed on scale 12, its mechanical response is coupled to a scale encoder 36 adapted to convert the parcel weight into a proportional number of pulses which are accumulated in a counter 40. As will be seen, counter 40 is an up/down pulse counter, enabling it to accurately follow the scale response as it oscillates about and ultimately settles down to a final weight reading.

The operator, upon reading the parcel address destination, determines the appropriate postal zone on the basis of the distance between his geographical location and the parcel destination. The operator enters the postal zone by depression of the appropriate key of a numerical entry keyboard 26a included in control panel 26 (FIG. 1). This zone entry is supplied by connection 42 and a multiplexer or switch 44 to a zone register 46. Prior to the entry of a zone from numerical entry keyboard 26a, the operator presses a mode key Z included in a mode key group 54, which has as one of its functions the conditioning of multiplexer 44 to route the keyboard zone entry through to zone register 46. The zone digit entry held in zone register 46 conditions a zone selector 50 to effect appropriate zone entry into the postage memory 52 which, as previously noted, comprises one of the memory banks carried by memory drum 14 (FIG. 1). In physical terms, zone entry into the postage memory 52 is effective by selecting one of a plurality of phototransistors, or the equivalent, included in the receiver array 18 generally illustrated in FIG. 1. As will be subsequently described, the postage memory 52 includes a series of side by side zone channels in which postage data is serially recorded by parcel weight. Thus, the zone selector 50 effects selection of the appropriate phototransistor of the receiver array 18 which is aligned with the channel of the postage memory 52 assigned to the particular zone entered into the zone register 46 from the keyboard 26a.

The next operator function, and in most situations the only remaining operator function required for each parcel, is to depress a postage request key PR included in mode key group 54 in control panel 26. This generates an input over lead 55 to a sequencer 56 which operates to organize the system operating functions pursuant to determining the applicable parcel postage.

Since the appropriate zone has already been entered into zone register 46, thereby accessing postage memory 52 for all postage data, regardless of parcel weight, for that particular zone, the sequencer 56 generates a signal RD LBS over lead 57 to an input/output register 58. This signal conditions register 58 for acceptance of the appropriate postage data read from the postage memory 52 over connection 59 to a serial to parallel converter 60 and thence over connection 61 and multiplexer 62 to the input/output register. As will be described, the postage data is stored and read out from postage memory in serial binary coded decimal, while the input/output register 58 is designed to accept the postage data in serial digit, parallel bit fashion. Thus, the serial to parallel converter 60 is necessary to accept the digit bits serially from postage memory 52 and successively pass the bits of each postage digit in parallel to the input/output register 58. The memory 52 also includes a postage clock bit channel which is read out to provide postage clock pulses POST CLK over lead 63 to converter 60 for synchronizing the serial to parallel conversion.

Having accessed the postage memory 52 for the appropriate zone, it now remains to further access the postage memory for the appropriate parcel weight, held in up/down counter 40, in order to obtain the applicable postage for entry into input/output register 58. To this end, the postage memroy is provided with a pound clock pulse channel in which are recorded a series of pound clock bits located in predetermined relation to the stored postage data. These pound clock pulses LB CLK, read out during each revolution of the drum memory 14 (FIG. 1), are applied over lead 64 to an address counter 66. The pound clock pulse count accumulating in address counter 66 is continuously compared in a comparator 68 with the parcel weight stored in the up/down counter 40 supplied over connection 69. When a comparison is reached between the pulse counts in address counter 66 and up/down counter 40, comparator 68 generates a compare signal COMP over lead 70 to the sequencer 56. Due to the arrangement of the postage data in postage memory 52, the generation of compare signal COMP signals that the postage data applicable to the parcel weight registered in the up/down counter 40 is about to be read out to the serial to parallel converter 60. The sequencer circuit 56, in response to the compare signal COMP generates a read postage command signal RD POST over lead 72 to the serial to parallel converter 60. This signal conditions the converter 60 to perform the serial to parallel bit conversion on a digit by digit basis for the next four postage digits read from the postage memory 52. The four bits of each postage digit are assembled and then transferred in parallel, digit by digit, to the input/output register 58. Each postage digit is shifted into [output register 58, the serial to parallel converter 60 generates a postage entered signal PST ENT over line 78 to a postage ready logic circuit 80. Prior to receipt of this signal the postage ready logic circuit 80 provides a postage not ready signal POST RDY over lead 82 to the sequencer 56 effective to enable the various sequence control functions of the sequencer. When the postage not ready signal POST RDY goes false in response to receipt of the postage entered signal POST ENT, signifying that the postage has been fully entered into the input/output register 58, the sequencer 56 is effectively disabled.

Assuming that no additional postage over and above the postage value held in the input/output register is applicable to the particular parcel on scale 12, the postage ready circuit 80 generates a ready enter signal RDY ENT which is supplied over lead 84 to the electromechanical postage selection apparatus 30. This apparatus then looks at the postage digits registered in the input/output register 58 communicated over connection 85 and operates to mechanically position the postage digit selector arrns 33 of postage meter 32 accordingly via the interconnecting links, diagrammatically indicated at 34 in FIG. 2. After all the postage levers have been approximately positioned by the selection apparatus 30, an execute signal EXEC issues over lead 87, signaling the postage meter to execute a print cycle and issue an appropriately imprinted postage stamp which may then be applied to the parcel. After the postage meter 32 has issued the stamp, it issues a cycle complete signal 0 which is fed back over lead 89 to the console for the purpose of resetting the console components preparatory for the next parcel.

In some of the cases, it is contemplated that the operator will not be supplied with the postal zone of the parcel destination, but will be able to readily obtain the zip code of the parcel destination typically recorded on the parcel address. In these cases, the operator enters the first three digits of the zip code into the input/output register 58 via numerical keyboard 26a and multiplexer 62. It is only when key Z is depressed preparatory to a direct zone entry, that the keyboard is connected by multiplezer 44 to the zone register 46.

With the entry of a zip code into the input/output register and the depression of the postage request key PR, the sequencer 56 initiates a zone search through a zip to zone memory 90, included as the other memory bank carried by memory drum 14 (FIG. 1). As will be seen, the zip-zone memory 90 includes a zip clock bit channel, with each zip clock bit storage position aligned with a binary coded decimal zone storage position. As will become apparent, the zip-zone memory is specially encoded on the basis of the geographical location of each particular system installation, since the applicable postal zone in each case is determined by the distance to the parcel destination. These zip clock bits are read as zip clock pulses ZIP CLK from the zip-zone memory 90 during each memory drum revolution and are fed over lead 92 to sequencer 56 during a zone search. These zip clock pulses are gated through as add clock pulses ADD CLK over lead 93 to the input/output register 58.

As will be seen, the input/output register is adapted not only as a binary coded decimal (BCD) digit shift register, but also as a BCD counter. Thus, each zip clock pulse ZIP CLK gated through as an add clock pulse ADD CLK to the input/output register increments the zip code number registered therein by one. The input/output register is incremented until it overflows, i.e., goes from 999 to 000. When overflow occurs, the input/output register 58 generates a read store zone signal RD STR ZONE on output lead 95 to zone register 46. The zone register responds by accepting and holding the zone number coincidentally read from the zip-zone memory 90 and supplied over connection 97 and multiplexer 44.

From this general description, it is seen that by serially arranging the zone data in the zip-zone memory 90 in accordance with the distance between the various zip code designated geographical locations and the system installation location, where the zone data is located in the memory by counting up to the compliment of the zip code held in the input/output register, the appropriate zone can be entered into the zone register 46 from the zip-zone memory 90, thereby effecting a zip to zone conversion.

The read store zone signal RD STR ZONE on output lead 95 is also supplied to the sequencer S6 to indicate that the appropriate zone has been located and entered into the zone register 46 and that a search of the post age memory 52 for the applicable postage may now be performed in the manner previously generally described.

Occasionally, the system of the present invention may be called upon to determine the postage applicable to an oversized package. Under both the PP and UPS rate schedules, the postage applicable to an oversized package is determined as follows. If the oversized package is less than an established minimum weight, 25 pounds for UPS and 10 pounds for PP, the applicable postage is determined on the basis of the established minimum weight. However, if the oversized parcel weights more than the established minimum weight, the applicable postage is determined by its actual weight.

Still referring to FIG. 2, when the operator determines that a parcel placed on scale 12 is oversized, an oversize key 0/8 is depressed, conditioning an oversize logic circuit 100 over lead 102. During the searching of the postage memory 52 for the applicable postage, the accumulating count of the pound clock pulses LB CLK read from the postage memory 52 into the address counter 66 is applied over connection 104 to the oversize logic circuit 100, as well as the comparator 68. The oversize logic circuit also receives the compare output COMP from comparator 68. As will be seen, the count content of the address counter 66 is continuously decoded to detect when it is incremented to the established minimum pound value. Until this minimum pound value is reached in the search of the postage memory 52, the oversize logic circuit 100 supplies a signal OTS over lead 106 to the sequencer 56, in effect telling the sequencer to disregard the compare signal COMP issuing from the comparator 68 over lead 70, which would occur if the oversized package weighs less than the established minimum. in this case, when the address counter increments to the established minimum weight value, the oversize logic circuit 100 supplies a read minimum pounds signal RD MIN LBS over lead 108 to the sequencer 56, which responds by issuing the read postage signal RD POST over lead 72 to the serial to parallel converter 60. The postage applicable to the established minimum weight is thus entered into the input/output register.

On the other hand, if the established minimum weight value is achieved in the address counter 66 before a compare signal COMP issues from comparator 68, the oversize logic circuit 100 is converted to its inoperative state as though it had not been conditioned in the first instance by oversize key 0/5. The disabling effect of the signal 07S is removed, and the sequencer awaits the receipt of the compare signal COMP from comparator 68 pursuant to retrieval from the postage memory 52 of the postage value based on the actual weight of the oversized parcel.

In certain situations dealing with the UPS system, a nominal additional postage charge is required in shipping parcels between certain locations. These special situations can be conveniently handled in accordance with the present invention by providing recorded flag bits in the zip-zone memory 90 which are read out as flag pulses into the postage ready logic over lead 109 under the control of the read store zone signal RD STR ZONE at the same time that the zone is read into the zone register 46. After the postage applicable to the parcel weight has been located in the postage memory 52 and entered into the input/output register 58, the postage ready logic 80 determines whether it received one or more flag pulses over lead 109 from the zip-zone memory at the time the proper zone was located and entered into the zone register 46. If flag pulses had been received, the postage ready logic circuit 80 is conditioned to accept over connection 111 from the zipzone memory 90 uniquely coded bits in effect designating the amount of additional postage to be added to the postage already registed in the input/output register 58. The postage ready logic circuit 80 generates an add clock gate pulse ADD CLK GATE over lead 112 to the sequencer 56 effective to gate through to the input/output register a predetermined number of zip clock pulses ZIP CLK as add clock pulses ADD CLK to the input/output register 58. The input/output register is thus incremented accordingly so as to register the original postage plus the additional postage.

The various entries into the input/output register 58, such as zip code numbers and postage are displayed at the display panel 26b. In addition, a key No. in group 54 may be depressed to condition the display panel to display the parcel weight in the up/down counter 40 communicated over connection 113.

For a detailed description of the operation of the system of FIG. 2, reference may be had to US. Pat. No. 3,692,988, whose disclosure is specifically incorporated herein by reference.

POSTAGE SELECTION APPARATUS The electromechanical postage digit selection apparatus 30, seen generally in FIGS. 1 and 2, is shown in detail in 3 through 7. It will be recalled from the general description of FIGS. 1 and 2 that the postage digit selection apparatus is mechanically interconnected to the settable postage digit arms 33 of postage meter 32 by links 34 and operates to position the postage digit arms to the corresponding postage digit values registered in the input/output register 58.

Referring first to FIG. 4, the postage digit selection apparatus 30 includes a motor 500 supported by a frame casting 502. The output shaft 504 of motor 500 carries a gear 506 which meshes with a gear 508 keyed on an elongated jack shaft 510, best seen in FIG. 3. Jack shaft gear 508 engages gears 512 and SM respectively mounted on the input shafts 516 and 518 of clutches 520 and 522. The other end of jack shaft 510 carries a gear 524 which engages a pair of gears 526 and 528 respectively mounted on the input shafts 530 and 532 of clutches 534 and 536.

Output shaft 527 of clutch 522 extends coaxially through input shaft 518, which is in the form of a sleeve, and beyond both sides of the clutch body and carries at one end a crank 529. This crank is pivotally connected to one end of link 34a, which is pivotally connected at its other end to the hundredths digit selector arm 33 of the postage meter 32. Similarly, the output shaft 521 of clutch 520 carries at one end a crank 523 which is pivotally connected to one end of link 34b. The other end of link 34b is pivotally connected to the tenths digit selector arm 33 of the postage meter 32. One end of output shaft 535 of clutch 534 carries a crank 537, which is pivotally connected to one end of the units digit selection link 340, while one end of output shaft 539 of clutch 536 carries a crank 541 pivotally connected to the one end of the tens digit selection link 34d.

It will be appreciated that the various clutch output shafts and jack shaft 510 are journalled by laterally spaced vertical extensions 503 of the frame casting 502.

Still referring to FIG. 3, the other end of output shaft 527 of clutch 522 is adapted to mount an encoder disc 550 rotating with the output shaft in a plane between a light source 550a and a receiver 550]]. Disc 550 is encoded in binary coded decimals with the numbers through 9 around its periphery and is angularly oriented on output shaft 527 so as to provide a digital readout of the digit positions of the hundredths postage digit selector arm 33, as positioned by crank 529 and link 34a. Similarly, output shaft 521 mounts an encoder disc 552 which is read out by a light source 552a and receiver 552b to provide a digital readout of the digit positions of the tenths postage digit selector arm, as positioned by crank 523 and interconnecting link 34b. In the same manner, encode discs 554 and 556 provide digital readouts of the digit positions of the units and tens postage digit selector arms of the postage meter 32.

Each of the clutch output shafts carries a detent disc which serves to ultimately angularly orient the clutch output shafts to the various postage digit positions. In practice, these detent discs serve as course positioning means for the postage digit selector arms 33 of the postage meter; the internal detent mechanism of the postage meter serving as the final, precise digit positioning means for the various postage digit selector arms. Thus, as seen in FIGS. 3 and 4, output shaft 527 carries a detent disc 560 which is formed with an annular array of detents 560a, as best seen in FIG. 4. The detents 560a are engaged by a pawl S60b to ultimately angularly orient the crank 529 and link 334a for the various hundredths postage digit positions. Similarly, out- -put shaft 521 carries a detent disc 562 formed having an array of detents 562a which are engaged by pawl 562b to ultimately orient crank 523 and link 34b for the various tenths postage digit positions. In the same manner, putput shafts 535 and 541 carry detent discs 564 and 566, respectively, which are engaged by pawls 564k and 566!) to ultimately orient their associated cranks and links for the various units and tens postage digit positions.

The operation of the postage selection apparatus 30 can best be appreciated from a description of FIG. 7. As long as the system is turned on, motor 500 of the postage selection apparatus 30 (FIG. 4) is energized to supply continuous drive to the input shafts of the various clutches of FIG. 3. The various clutches are initially conditioned such that their input shafts are drivingly coupled to their output shafts, and the various cranks are continuously rotated. The links 34 interconnecting the cranks and the postage digit selector arms 33 cause the selection arms to continuously move back and forth through their various postage digit positions. As seen in FIG. 7, the digital readout of the positions of the hundredths postage digit selector am is supplied to a comparator 570 for comparison with the hundredths digit held in input/output register 58. Similarly, the digital readout of the positions of the tenths digit selector arm is applied to comparator 572 for comparison with the tenths digit in input/output register 58. The digital readout of the positions of the units postage digit selector arm is fed to comparator 574 for comparison with the units digit in the input/output register while the digital readout of the tens postage digit selector arm digit positions is compared with the content of the tens digit register 150 of the input/output register in a comparator 576.

The outputs of these comparators are supplied as one input to separate AND gates 57], 573, 575 and 577. The other input to each of these AND gates is the ready enter signal RDY ENT, which issues from the postage ready logic when it is determined that the postage value stored in the input/output register is the final value to be issued by the postage meter 32.

As the postage digit selection arms 33 are moved to the postage digit positions called for by the corresponding postage digits held in the input/output register, AND gates 571, 573, 575 and 577 supply outputs to the various clutches effective to disengage their input shafts from their output shafts. Thus, as the hundredths postage digit selector arm moves to the digit position corresponding to the hundredths postage digit stored in the hundredths digit register 156 of the input/output register 58, comparator 570 generates an output which passes through AND gate 571 to disengage clutch 522. Output shaft 527 is decoupled from input shaft 518 of clutch 522, and crank 529 and link 34a are ultimately positioned by pawl 560b acting on detent disc 560. However, the ultimate and precise positioning of the hundredths postage digit selector arm is achieved by the internal detent mechanism of the postage meter 32. The tenths, units and tens postage digit selector arms 33 of the postage meter 32 are ultimately positioned in accordance with the digit contents of the tenths, units and tens postage digits stored in the input/output register 58 in the same manner. It will be noted that the positions of the postage digit selector arms are carried out concurrently and independently of each other, thus permitting rapid postage setting of the postage meter 32.

When all of the postage digit selector arms 33 have been positioned, AND gate 580 is enabled to pass an execut signal EXEC over lead 87 (see also FIG. 2), commanding the postage meter to execute a print cycle and issue a stamp with the postage value held in the input/output register imprinted therein. At the conclusion of the postage meter operating cycle, the cycle complete signal 0 issues to be fed back to the console to clear the various flip-flops, registers and counters preparatory for the next system operation.

As seen in FIGS. and 6, the forward end of each link 34 is formed having an elongated slot 582 which accommodates a laterally extending pin S84 carried at the upper end of each postage digit selector arm 33. A latch 586 pivotally mounted on a pin 588, carried adjacent the forward end of each link 34, engages the side of the postage digit selector arm 33 opposite pin 584 so as to maintain the pin captive in slot 582. By virtue of this arrangement, there is provided a lost motion connection between the links 34 and their associated post age digit selector arms 33, thereby enabling the internal detent mechanism of the postage meter to take over from the final positioning of the postage digit selector arms from the various detent discs 560, 562, 564 and 566 of the postage digit selection apparatus 30.

Arm 586 at the forward end of each link 34 is biased downwardly into engaging relation with the postage digit selector arm 33 by a spring 590. The arm 586 is readily pivoted upwardly, as indicated in phantom in FIG. 5 to facilitate disconnection of the links from their associated postage digit selector arms 33, thus freeing the upper portion of the postage meter 32 for removal from its base when it becomes necessary to obtain additional prepaid postage at a local post office.

It will thus be seen that the objects set forth above, among those made apparent from the preceding description, are efficiently attained and, since certain changes may be made in the above constructions without departing from the scope of the invention, it is intended that all matter contained in the above description or shown in the accompanying drawings shall be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense.

Having described our invention, what we claim as new and desire to secure by Letters Patent is:

1. Apparatus for positioning the various postage digit selector arms of a postage meter to postage digit positions according to the corresponding postage digits of a postage value held in an output register of a postage metering system, said apparatus comprising, in combination:

A. units digit, tenths digit and hundredths digit clutches, each having input and output shafts;

B. a motor continuously drivingly rotating said clutch input shafts during a positioning cycle;

C. links interconnecting the respective output shafts ofsaid clutches to the units, tenths, and hundredths postage digit selector arms of the postage meter, whereby to reciprocate the various postage digit selector arms through their various digit positions so long as their respective clutches are engaged;

D. separate position encoders coupled to each said clutch output shaft for providing digital readouts of the absolute digit positions of the associated postage meter digit selector arms as they are moved through their various digit positions;

E. separate comparator means for continuously comparing the digital readouts of the postage digit positions of the various postage digit selector arms with the corresponding postage digit held in the output register, and, as comparisons are achieved, electrically signalling the appropriate clutches to disengage their input shafts from their output shafts, whereby to stop the various postage digit selector arms at the postage digit position called for by the corresponding postage digits held in the output register; and

F. gating means electrically connected to each said comparator means for signalling the postage meter to execute a print cycle upon disengagement of all of said clutches.

2. The apparatus defined in claim 1, which further includes separate detent means carried on each said clutch output shaft, each said detent means operating to properly angularly orient its associated clutch output shaft for the appropriate selector arm digit position upon clutch disengagement.

3. The apparatus defined in claim 2, which further includes a crank interconnecting each said link to its respective clutch output shaft.

4. The apparatus defined in claim 3, which further includes means providing a lost motion connection between each said link and its respective postage digit selector arm.

Patent Citations
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3936802 *Sep 5, 1972Feb 3, 1976Societe Industrielle Honeywell BullControl device for recording elements
US3938095 *Oct 16, 1973Feb 10, 1976Pitney-Bowes, Inc.Computer responsive postage meter
US3978457 *Dec 23, 1974Aug 31, 1976Pitney-Bowes, Inc.Microcomputerized electronic postage meter system
US4030070 *May 17, 1976Jun 14, 1977Pitney-Bowes, Inc.Postage meter setting device
US4090063 *Dec 2, 1976May 16, 1978Societe D'etude Et De Construction D'appareils De Precision (S.E.C.A.P.)Franking machine comprising an electronic counting system
US4314146 *Nov 13, 1979Feb 2, 1982Jean-Claude BerneyAnalog display device
US4675841 *Jun 10, 1976Jun 23, 1987Pitney Bowes Inc.Micro computerized electronic postage meter system
USRE31875 *Jan 10, 1978Apr 30, 1985Pitney Bowes Inc.Computer responsive postage meter
DE2721257A1 *May 11, 1977Dec 1, 1977Pitney Bowes IncVorrichtung zum einstellen einer frankiermaschine
Classifications
U.S. Classification377/17, 101/93, 377/39
International ClassificationG01G19/414, G07B17/00, G01G19/00, G01G19/40, B07C1/00
Cooperative ClassificationB07C1/00, G07B2017/00701, G01G19/4148, G07B17/00661, G01G19/005
European ClassificationG01G19/00A2, B07C1/00, G01G19/414P, G07B17/00F3