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Publication numberUS3790162 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateFeb 5, 1974
Filing dateMay 15, 1972
Priority dateMay 15, 1972
Also published asCA976199A, CA976199A1, DE2324149A1
Publication numberUS 3790162 A, US 3790162A, US-A-3790162, US3790162 A, US3790162A
InventorsHalbert S
Original AssigneeHalbert S
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Picking and transporting apparatus and method
US 3790162 A
Abstract
Apparatus comprising a member having a surface adapted to receive a stack of articles. Means are provided for rotating each bottommost article about an axis which is substantially normal to the plane of the surface and then feeding that article away from the stack, while any remaining articles are restrained in the stack.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

[ Feb. 5, 1974 XXX 9 6 343 I I, 1111. 777 222 3,008,709 11/1961 3,160,411 12/1964 Fiehl PICKING AND TRANSPORTING APPARATUS AND METHOD [76] Inventor:

8/1972 V0ra.....:

Silas Ray Halbert, 481 Monaco Dr, Melbourne, Fla. 32901 May 15, 1972 6/1971 Tippy.......

Primary Examiner-Evon C. Blunk [22] Filed:

Assistant Examiner-James W. Miller pp 253,594 Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Duckworth, Hobby & Allen ABSTRACT Apparatus comprising a member having a surface adapted to receive a stack of articles. Means are provided for rotating each bottommost article about an axis which is substantially normal to the plane of the surface and then feeding that article away from the stack, while any remaining articles are restrained in the stack.

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References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,672,668 Keulen.............................. 271/41 X 15 Claims, 3 Drawing Figures rrcxmc AND TRANSPORTING APPARATUS AND METHOD BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION The present invention relates to article handling apparatus and methods, and in particular, relates to apparatus and methods which are designed to pick and transport punched data cards.

Punched data cards are widely used in conjunction with information systems. Generally, these cards have punched holes therein which convey information when sensed, or read, by a card reader.

Present-day card readers are capable of sequentially reading a large stack of data cards in a short period of time. In order to accommodate such readers, mechanisms have been designed which rapidly pick the bottommost card from a card stack and transport the picked card into the reader. One type of pick-andtransport mechanism creates a vacuum at the bottom surface of the bottommost card in order to move that card sideward away from the stack. However, the vacuum of such pickers is often created through a hole punched in the bottommost card, causing the next card to be likewise transported. While various metering devices, commonly referred to as throat knives, are used to restrict any sideward movement of the stack to the thickness of the bottommost card, the undesirable result in the vacuum mechanisms is that the next card is frequently jammed against the throat knife, damaging the card and reducing its useful life.

Another variety of pick-and transport apparatus employ friction rollers or beltsto eject the bottommost card either broadside or endwise from the stack. In one friction arrangement the rollers or belts are at rest against the stack, and then are clutched into motion to provide the necessary friction to eject the card. In an alternative arrangement, the rollers or belts move continuously and are pivoted against the stack to provide the requisite friction force. In both cases, the cards are subject to undesirably high contact forces at the friction surfaces. In addition, the roughened edge of a hole in one card often forms an interlock with the surface of an adjacent card, requiring even greater friction forces to decouple the interlocked surfaces. The result of these high force requirements is an overall reduction in the average period of card useability. Further, the belts and rollers in these friction mechanisms are subject to the same force requirements and must be replaced frequently.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION THE DRAWING FIG. 1 is a perspective view of apparatus according to this invention, with a portion cut away.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the apparatus of FIG. 1, further including the cutaway portion not shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is an enlarged top plan view of a portion of an article handled by the apparatus of FIGS. 1 and 2.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION Apparatus according to the present invention will be described with reference to FIGS. 1 and 2.

Noting FIG. 1, the apparatus, referred to generally as 10, includes an enclosure member 12 having a floor 14; side walls perpendicular to the floor, including a first and second wall 16 and 18, respectively; and an upper platform 20 which abuts and is normal to the side walls 16, 18 above the floor 14. The platform 20 has an outer surface 22 which is adapted to support a stack of punched data cards, as the two data cards and 92 shown in FIG. 2. A portion of the second side wall 18 extends above the upper member 20 and serves as a guide wall 24.

Referring again to FIG. 1, a pinch roller solenoid 26 and a pick wheel solenoid 28 are affixed to the floor 14 of the enclosure 12 by respective brackets 30 and 32. Each solenoid 26, 28 includes a respective shaft 34, 36 which is moved up or down (as noted by arrows adjacent the shafts) depending upon whether the associated solenoid 26, 28 is in the energized or de-energized state.

A pinch roller pivot arm 38 is pivoted at one end to the upper extremity of the shaft 34 associated with the pinch roller solenoid 26. The other end of the pinch roller pivot arm 38 is rotatably mounted on a shaft 40 which is joined to and extends away from the guide wall 24. A pinch roller 42 is rotatably mounted on the shaft 40 and is interposed between the pivot arm 38 and the guide wall 24. Preferably, the top of the pinch roller 42 is level with the support surface 22 when the pinch roller solenoid 26 is de-energized; that is, when the associated shaft 34 is in the lower position.

A drive roller 44 is rotatably mounted on the guide wall 24 and is juxtaposed above the pinch roller 42. Means (not shown) are provided for continuously rotating the drive roller 44 in a clockwise direction as viewed in FIG. I (note arrow). The two rollers 42 and 44 are spaced apart a distance sufficient to allow a data card to pass between the two rollers when the pinch roller solenoid 26 is de-energized.

A photo transistor 41 is suspended above the support surface 20 by a bracket 43 mounted on the guide wall 24. A light emitting diode (LED) 45 is positioned underneath the photo transistor 41 flush with the support surface 20. Circuit means (not shown) connect the photo transistor 41, the LED 45, and the solenoids such that the pick wheel solenoid 28 is energized when light emitted from the LED 45 falls on the photo transistor 41, and is de'energized when the light is interrupted by a data card (note FIG. 2). Conversely, the pinch roller solenoid 26 is de-energized when light from the LED 45 is incident to the photo transistor 41, and is energized when the light is interrupted.

A throat knife 46 is adjustably mounted on the guide wall 24. The throat knife 46 is adjusted so as to be spaced one card thickness from the card support surface 22 (note FIG. 2). The throat knife 46 encloses the drive roller 44 and the photo transistor 41; however, a portion of the throat knife is cut away to expose these elements in FIGS. 1 and 2.

Referring now to the pick wheel solenoid 28 in FIG. 1, one end of a pick wheel lift arm 48 is reciprocally mounted on a pivot pin 50 at the top of the shaft 36 associated with the pick wheel solenoid 28. The lift arm 48 is adapted to recipro-cate up and down (note arrows) in a direction normal to the lift arm, depending on the energization state of the solenoid 28; that is, the end of the lift arm 48 is moved upward when the solenoid 28 is energized and downward when that solenoid is de-energized. One end of a pivot plate 52 is mounted at the other end of the lift arm 48 by a pivot shaft 54, with a pick wheel 56 and a'pulley wheel 59 on the shaft 54 and interposed between the lift arm 48 and the pivot plate 52. The pick wheel 56 is positioned below a pick wheel aperture 57 which extends through the platform 20 (note FIG. 2). The outer surface 61 of the pick wheel 56 is suitably coated with a high friction material. A belt wheel 58 is mounted on a drive shaft 60 which extends through the other end of the pivot arm 52, and also extends through the lift arm 48 at a point intermediate to the two ends of the lift arm. An endless drive belt 62 is supported around the pulley wheel 59 and the drive sheel 58, and is driven by the drive wheel in the direction shown by the arrows adjacent the belt in FIG. 1. The solenoid shaft 36, the lift arm 48, the pick, drive and pulley wheels 56, 58 and 59, and the drive belt 62 are dimensioned such that the friction surface 61 of the pick wheel 56 extends through the pick wheel aperture 57 and slightly above the card support surface 22 when the lift arm 48 is moved to the topmost position by energization of the pick wheel solenoid 26 (note FIG. 2).

A tensioned return spring 64, supported at one end by a rod 66 extending from the pivot plate 52 and at the other end by a stanchion 68 mounted on the floor 14, provides means for lowering the pick wheel 56 out of the pick wheel aperture 57 when the pick wheel solenoid 28 is de-energized. The pick wheel assembly is supported in the enclosure 12 by means not shown. The drive shaft 60 is supported by a support member 70, and is driven by a pulley-and-wheel assembly, referred to generally as 74 in FIG. 1. The pulley-and-wheel assembly 74 is driven, in turn, by a shaft 76 which may comprise the shaft of an electric motor, for example.

Referring specifically to FIG. 2, a pivot support 78 is joined to the bottom surface of the platform 20. A flag member 80, including an integral flag 84, is interposed between the pivot support 78 and the lift arm 48, and is rotatably mounted on a pivot rod 79 extending into the pivot support 78. In addition, one end of the flag member 80 is pivoted on the pivot pin 50 which extends through the lift arm 48. The platform 20 has a slot 82 extending therethrough, which slot is adapted to receive the flag 84. The slot 82, the pivot support 78, and the flag member 80 are dimensioned such that when the pick wheel solenoid 28 is de-energized, the shaft 36 is lowered by the force of the return spring 64, causing the flag member 80 to rotate about the rod 79, whereby the flag 84 extends through the slot 82 and above the card support surface 22. Conversely, when the solenoid 28 is energized, the shaft 36 extends upward, causing the flag member 80 to rotate, whereby the flag 84 is lowered below the level of the support surface 22.

A wedge 86 is disposed on the one end of the support surface 22 to be occupied by the card stack.

The manner in which the apparatus sequentially picks and transports a stack of data cards will now be described in greater detail.

Noting FIG. 2, a data card stack, referred to as 88 and including a bottommost card 90 next adjacent the support surface 22 and another card 92, is initially placed on the support surface. Each card 90' and 92 includes a leading end 94 closest to the direction of feed 93 into the card reader, an end 95 opposite to the leading end 94, and a guiding edge 96 proximal to the guide wall 24. The card stack 88 is disposed on the support surface 22 such that the end of the guiding edge 96 near the leading end 94 abuts the throat knife 46, and the opposite end 95 abuts the guide wall 24. Additionally, the card stack 88 is disposed such that the leading end 94 of the cards in the stack 88 abuts the flag 84, with a portion of the bottommost card 90 at the leading end 94 disposed over the pick wheel aperture 57. The wedge 86 elevates the opposite end 95 of the cards away from the plane of the surface 22, insuring that the area at the leading end 94 firmly contacts the surface 22 at the pick wheel aperture 57.

At the start of the operation of the apparatus 10, no card is interposed between the LED 45 and the photo transistor 41, which causes the pick wheel solenoid 28 to be energized. The associated shaft 36 is then moved upwards out of the solenoid 28, causing the pick wheel lift arm 48 to lift the pick wheel 56 upward through the aperture 57; further, the flag 84 is pivoted downward out of the slot 82. The friction surface of the rotating pick wheel 56 then engages the bottommost card 90, causing that card to be rotated about an axis 98 which is substantially normal to the plane of the support surface 22. In this context, rotation about an axis is intended to mean rotation along a radius of finite length. Thus, the leading end 94 is rotated about the axis 98 and through an arc given by an angle along the support surface 22, passing under the throat knife 46 and between the pinch and drive rollers 42 and 44, until the guiding edge 96 is parallel to and completely abuts the guide wall 24. As shown in FIG. 2, the axis 98 may extend normal to that area of the surface 22 occupied by the card stack 88. During the period of rotation, the throat knife 46 restricts rotation of the stack 88 to the thickness of the bottommost card 90.

After the bottommost card 90 has been rotated against the guide wall 24 and between the LED 45 and the photo transistor 41, the pick wheel solenoid 28 is de-energized causing the spring 64 to drop the lift arm 48. As a result, the pick wheel 56 is lowered into the aperture 57 below the support surface 22. At the same time, the flag 84 is moved upward through the slot 84 and alongside the stack 88, due to the pivotal movement of the flag member about the pivot rod 79.

Noting FIG. 1, the pinch roller solenoid 26 is simultaneously energized, causing the associated shaft 34 to move upward, lifting the pinch roller pivot arm 38 which causes sufficient upward movement of the pinch roller 42 to force the bottommost card against the continuously rotating drive roller 44. The force of the drive roller 44 then drives the bottommost card 90 into the card reader along the direction of feed 93 (see FIG. 2). During operation of the pinch roller assembly, the flag 84 restrains the remaining cards in the stack 88, including the next card 92. After the card 90 passes from between the LED 45 and the photo transistor 41, the pinch roller solenoid 26 is de-energized, the pick wheel solenoid 28 is energized, and the operating cycle is repreated.

While the operation of the apparatus has been described as a sequence of distinct steps, it will be understood that under actual operating conditions, the apparatus very rapidly picks each succeeding bottommost card in the stack and transports the card into the card reader.

An important aspect of the operation of the apparatus if) is the unique manner in which the problem of interlocking surfaces between cards is overcome. This feature will be described with reference to a punched hole 100 in the next card 92 of FIG. 2, which is shown in greater detail in FIG. 3.

The punched holes in data cards are almost universally rectangular in shape, with the edges of the holes being parallel to the respective edges of the card. The interlocking forces are primarily caused by the roughened edges of the holes. It has been found that the amount of force required to overcome the interlocking forces tends to be greatest in the direction normal to any edge of a punched hole. Since each card usually contains a larger number of holes, these force requirements are considerable.

As shown in FIG. 2 and in greater detail in FIG. 3, the apparatus ll] solves this problem because the pick wheel 56 attacks the interlocking forces at the punched hole 100 along a line 102 which is other than normal to any edge of the hole. Noting FIG. 3, the force line 1.02 thus cuts two of the edges of the hole llflll at an acute angle. As a result, a minimal amount of friction between the pick wheel 56 and the card is required to decouple the interlocking forces. Because of the minimum friction requirements, low cost pick wheels may be employed for longer periods without replacement. Most importantly, the useable lifetime of each card is greatly increased.

I claim:

1. Data card handling apparatus comprising:

a member having a surface adapted to support a stack of data cards said member having an aperture extending therethrough at said surface;

means positioned in said aperture for rotating one end of each card next adjacent said surface through an are along said surface;

means for feeding each successively rotated card away from said stack and along said support surface;

means for tie-energizing said rotating means during operation of said feeding means, and de-energizing said feeding means during operation of said rotat ing means;

means for restraining any remaining ones of said cards in said stack during operation of said feeding means; and

means for removing said restraining means during operation of said rotating means.

2. Apparatus as recited in claim ll, wherein said rotating means comprises a rotatable pick wheel.

3. Apparatus as recited in claim 2, further comprising means adapted for holding a non-rotated end of said next adjacent card away from the plane of said surface.

4. Apparatus as recited in claim 2, further comprising means for lifting said pick wheel through said aperture.

5. Apparatus as recited in claim 4; wherein said lifting means further comprises said means for removing said restraining means when said. pick wheel is lifted through said aperture.

6. Apparatus as recited in claim 5, wherein said lifting means comprises: a lift arm; a pivot shaft extending through one end of said lift arm and supporting said pick wheel; and means for reciprocating the other end of said lift arm in a direction substantially normal thereto.

7. Apparatus as recited in claim 6, wherein said reciprocating means comprises: a solenoid having a shaft extend-ing therethrough; a pivot pin joining the other end of said lift arm to said shaft; and wherein said shaft is adapted to move out of said solenoid when said solenoid is energized.

8. Apparatus as recited in claim 7, wherein said restraining means comprises: a flag member pivoted by said pivot pin; said flag member including a flag adapted to extend alongside said one end of any cards remaining in said stack; and means for rotating said flag away from said stack when said. pick wheel is lifted through said aperture.

9. Apparatus as recited in claim 7, further comprising: a drive shaft extending through said lift arm intermediate to said two lift arm ends; a drive wheel mounted on said drive shaft; a pulley wheel mounted on said pivot shaft adjacent said pick wheel; an endless friction belt supported by said drive wheel and said pulley wheel; and means for rotating said drive shaft.

10. Apparatus as recited in claim 1, wherein said member comprises: a platform including said support surface; a guide wall abutting and extending to both sides of said platform and substantially transverse to said are of rotation; and wherein each said successively rotated card is rotated against said guide wall.

11. Apparatus as recited in claim 10, wherein said feeding means comprises: juxtaposed pinch and drive rollers rotatably mounted on said guide wall on opposite sides of said surface; means for rotating said drive roller; and wherein each next adjacent card is rotated between said rollers.

12. Apparatus as recited in claim 11, further comprising means mounted on said guide wall and about one of said rollers for restricting said rotation to each said next adjacent card.

13. Apparatus as recited in claim 12, further comprising means for pinching said rollers together to feed said next adjacent card away from said stack and along said guide wall.

14. A method for handling a stack of sheets comprising the steps of:

providing a member having a surface with an aperture extending therethrough;

disposing said sheet stack on said surface with one end over said aperture;

positioning rotating means in said aperture;

rotating each sheet with said rotating means along an arc across said surface;

providing means for feeding each rotated sheet along said surface and away from said stack;

feeding each rotated sheet along said surface and away from said stack;

de-energizing said feeding means during operation of said rotating means;

de-energizing said rotating means during operation of said feeding means;

providing means for restraining remaining sheetsin said stack;

7 8 restraining remaining sheets in said stack during 15. A method as recited in claim 14, wherein said rooperation of said feeding means; and tating step comprises forcing a rotating wheel against removing said restraining means during operation of one end of each said next adjacent article.

said rotating means.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3008709 *Oct 6, 1958Nov 14, 1961IbmSheet separating and feeding apparatus
US3160411 *Nov 29, 1962Dec 8, 1964IbmSheet handling apparatus
US3583697 *May 19, 1969Jun 8, 1971Addressograph MultigraphSheet feeding device
US3672668 *Aug 20, 1970Jun 27, 1972Bull General ElectricLarge-capacity card supply magazines comprising a device for retaining and transferring cards
US3687448 *Dec 28, 1970Aug 29, 1972Xerox CorpSheet feeding apparatus
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4034975 *May 24, 1974Jul 12, 1977International Business Machines CorporationReading machine for punched document cards
US4039179 *Oct 24, 1975Aug 2, 1977Robert DezoppyDevice for collating sheets
US4061329 *Nov 26, 1976Dec 6, 1977Computer Peripherals, Inc.Offset card feed apparatus
US4448407 *Dec 28, 1981May 15, 1984Ncr CorporationDual directional document drive apparatus
US4483530 *Feb 7, 1983Nov 20, 1984Bell & Howell CompanyDocument processing systems
US4723773 *Oct 17, 1986Feb 9, 1988Bell & Howell CompanySheet feeding methods and apparatus
WO1984002596A1 *Dec 29, 1982Jul 5, 1984Ncr CoSheet feeding apparatus
Classifications
U.S. Classification271/118, 271/110, 271/135, 271/121
International ClassificationB65H9/00, G06K13/103, B65H3/06, G06K13/02
Cooperative ClassificationG06K13/103
European ClassificationG06K13/103