US 3778737 A
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United States Patent 1 1 Bowerman Dec. 11, 1973 MAGNETIC CHIP SWITCH  Inventor: William R. Bowerman, 1824 Mississippi St., Lawrence, Kans. Atmmey Gerald Altman et 66044 22 Filed: on. 24, 1972 [571 ABSTRACT  Appl 300,124 A switch box is provided with a magnetically attractive face plate formed with two or more spaced indents. Within the box and adjacent only one of the in- U-Su Cl. G dents is a magnetically responsive witch A small [51 I I 1 magnetic button conforming to the hape of the indent Field of Search 35/205407; 200/168 G is normally stored within the indent away from the switch and'is held in place by magnetic attraction. When the switch is to be actuated, the magnetic butl References Clted ton is moved from the storage indent to the indent ad- UNITED STATES PATENTS jacent the switch. This will open or close the switch 3,571,544 3/1971 Sheehan 335 205 depending p its normal State 3,325,756 6/l967 Maxwell 335/205 3,636,485 1 1972 Weathers 335/205 4 3 D'awmg Flgures MAGNETIC CHIP SWITCH BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention This invention relates generally to switching devices and more particularly is directed towards a magnetically actuated switch of novel operation and construction.
2. Description of the Prior Art A conventional switch box such as used in the home or office, is comprised of a pair of contacts which is opened and closed through the action ofa manually operated toggle or button. Such switches have certain disadvantages which include the toggle projecting from an otherwise smooth surface, and the inability to be set so as to prevent unauthorized operation.
Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide a new and improved switching device having a removable actuating button. Another object of this invention is to provide a switching device which may be set to remain on or off and which state cannot be readily altered by manipulation of the switch.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION This invention features a switching device comprising a housing having a magnetically attractive face plate formed with a pair of spaced indents therein. A magnetically responsive switch is mounted in close proximity behind one of the indents and a detachable magnetic button is provided for selective placement in one of the indents depending upon the desired state of the switch. The magnetic button may be completely removed in order to prevent unauthorized actuation of the switch.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a view in front elevation of a switch made according to the invention,
FIG. 2 is a sectional view in side elevation, somewhat schematic, of the switch, and,
FIG. 3 is a view in perspective showing the detatchable magnetic button on an enlarged scale.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referring now to the drawings, the reference character generally indicates a boxed housing having a face plate 12 mounted to side, top and bottom walls 14, 16 and 18, respectively. The face plate 12 is of a magnetically attractive material such as steel and is formed with a pair of matching spaced indents 20 and 22, preferably of circular outline and concave configuration. Mountable in either of the two indents is a detachable actuator button 21 in the form of a small magnet 24 which may be encapsulated in .a non-magnetic cover 26, preferably elliptical in cross-section. The button 21 typically is quite shallow and is dimensioned to fit neatly into either of the two depressions so that the inner half of the button will be within the depression leaving only the curved outer portion exposed. In this fashion, the switch assembly has no significant projection yet the button may be easily moved from one depression to the other.
In the preferred form of the invention the rims of the depressions are rounded and smooth so that the magnetic actuating button may be slipped easily from one depression to another without having to pick it out of a depression or off the face plate.
Mounted inside the housing 10 behind only one of the depressions, which is the lower depression 22 in the FIG. 2 embodiment, is a magnetically responsive switch 28 having leads 30 and 32. The switch 28 typically is comprised of a pair of reeds 34 and 36 normally encapsulated within a glass enclosure 38. The reeds 34 and 36 comprise the contact elements for the switch and may be normally open or normally closed depending upon the particular configuration. The reeds respond to a magnetic field so that they will open or close depending upon whether or not the magnetic button 21 is in the depression 22 opposite the switch.
The device may be used for a variety of applications. A typical use would include a wall switch for home or office in which case the switch is turned on or off by selective placement of the button. If desired, the button may be removed entirely so as to leave the switch contacts normally open or normally closed, depending upon the particular type of the reed switch employed. Thus, the magnetic button serves as a lock to prevent unauthorized use of the switching device. When used as a wall switch, the face plate 12 may be formed with a large number of similar depressions and the button may be color-matched to the face plate. This camouflage will inhibit unauthorized use of the switch if the button is stored in one of the depressions.
Numerous modifications of the invention will appear to those skilled in the art. For example, instead of simple circular depressions and circular buttons the depressions may be in the form of a circular depression and a concentric annular depression with an annular magnetic button adapted to be seated in the annular depression.
Also, the device may be used in conjunction with electrically-operated tool equipment and again the magnetic-button may be removed to prevent unauthorized operation of the equipment.
Having thus described the invention what I claim and desire to obtain by Letters Patent of the United States 1s:
1. A magnetic chip switch, comprising a. a housing having at least one magnetically attractive wall, I
b. a magnetically responsive switch mounted in proximity to said wall,
c. said wall being formed with a plurality of indents only one of which is proximate to said switch, and,
d. a magnetic member, mountable in one of said indents for selective operation of said switch, (e) the rims of said indents being smoothly rounded.
2. A magnetic chip switch according to claim 1 wherein each of said indents is concave and said member is elliptical in cross-section.
3. A magnetic chip switch according to claim 1 wherein said member is disposed in a non-magnetic chip.
4. A magnetic chip switch according to claim 1 wherein said switch is an encapsulated reed switch.