US 3800932 A
A vending machine for postcards and the like having a case within which are mounted a plurality of cradles in a ferris-wheellike array and with each cradle having a number of storage magazines. The assembly of cradles are rotatable, and the cradles carry display panels bearing samples of the merchandise in the magazines and viewable through a window in the case. A coin operated vending mechanism withdraws the merchandise from the magazines, and the vending mechanism is positioned with respect to the merchandise by reference to the display panels.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent 11 1 Dana [ Apr. 2, 1974 COIN OPERATED CARD VENDING MACHINE  Inventor: Eugene Dana, 937 18th St., Santa Monica, Calif. 90403  Filed: Nov. 3, 1972  Appl. No.: 303,539
 US. Cl. 194/10  Int. Cl. G07f 11/42  Field of Search 221/155, 76, 77, 78, 79,
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,361,295 1/1968 Marchant 221/211 X 3,390,875 7/1968 Beert et a1. 221/211 X 2,655,242 10/1953 Chalfin et a1. 221/211 X Primary ExaminerStanley H. Tollberg Attorney, Agent, or Firm-George L. Greenfield 57 ABSTRACT A vending machine for postcards and the like having a case within which are mounted a plurality of cradles in a ferris-wheellike array and with each cradle having a number of storage magazines. The assembly of cradles are rotatable, and the cradles carry display panels bearing samples of the merchandise in the magazines and viewable through a window in the case. A coin operated vending mechanism withdraws the merchandise from the magazines, and the vending mechanism is positioned with respect to the merchandise by reference to the display panels.
12 Claims, 7 Drawing Figures MTENTED APR 2 I974 SHEET 2 BF 4 I WENTEDAFR 2 I974 SHEET 3 BF 4 POST CARD\ FIG. 4
w Ill ELL. 4 9 6 6 5 0% F I 6 Iliullllllinilnnlvllllllil. 6 /1-lll\l\l|ll|||l h 7 5 ISO/ 78 1 COIN OPERATED CARD VENDING MACHINE This invention relates to vending machines and more particularly comprises a new and improved vending machine for marketing such merchandise as postcards, greeting cards, maps, forms, etc.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION At the present time postcards and other merchandise such as greeting cards, maps, etc. sold in drug stores, souvenir shops and the like are sold over the counter, and each purchase requires the attention of a store clerk. The low unit sales price of such merchandise coupled with the increasing selling costs has made the sale of much of that type of merchandise commercially unattractive. And because much of this type of merchandise must be displayed openly so that prospective customers can examine the merchandise before purchase, and further, because such merchandise is relatively small and easily concealed, pilferage is a very substantial problem in the retailing of such goods.
Many of the problems incident to the merchandising of such things as postcards, greeting cards, etc. may be eliminated by automatic vending machines capable of merchandising such goods. Accordingly, it is one object of this invention to provide a vending machine which is relatively inexpensive to manufacture, easily serviced, substantially pilfer proof,.and is capable of dependably vending such items as postcards, greeting cards, maps, printed forms, etch Another important object of this invention is to provide a vending machine for .postcards and the like, which is capable of offering a variety of different items to customers and which at the same time does not occupy a great deal of space.
To accomplish these and other objects, the vending machine of this invention includes a ferris-wheel-like array of cradles that are rotatable in sequence by a viewing window in the vending machine case. The cradles carry display panels that bear sample merchandise for viewing by prospective customers, and the cradles also include magazines for storing merchandise to be sold and which corresponds to the sample merchandise in the displaypanels. A vending mechanism is provided in the machine whose position may be guided by means of a pointer operatively associated with the display panels, for conveying desired items to the customer.
BRIEF FIGURE DESCRIPTION tion line 66 of FIG. and
FIG. 7 is a schematic diagram of the control circuit of the vending machine.
The postcard vending machine shown in the drawings is housed in a case 10 having a front wall 12, bottom wall 14, top wall 16, rear wall 18, and end walls 20. Front wall 12 has a viewing opening 22 covered by a transparent panel 24 which is removable to provide access to the interior of the case to enable the machine to be serviced. A conventional lock mechanism 26 is provided to hold panel 24 in place and prevent unauthorized access to the interior of the machine.
A second opening 28 is provided in the front wall 12, through which the purchased postcards are conveyed to the purchaser. A chute 30 in the interior of the case terminates at its bottom immediately adjacent opening 28 to carry the purchased cards to a location accessible to the purchaser through opening 28. A guard 32 limits access through opening 28 merely to the bottom of the chute.
A third opening 34 in the form of a horizontal slot is also provided in front wall 12. A selector handle or pointer 36 extends through slot 34 from the interior of the case and is movable horizontally in the slot to select the postcard to be purchased, all as explained in greater detail below.
A rotatable shaft 40 extends across case 10 between the end walls 20 and carries a rectangular plate 42 adjacent each end, which in turn support four cradles-44 that carry the postcards vended by the machine. Each rectangular plate42 carries pins 46 adjacent each cor ner, which pins in -turn fit into vertical slots 48 in the end panels 50 of each of the cradles so that the cradles remain upright as the shaft rotates in the case. Thus, the cradles 44 form a ferris-wheel-like arrangement on shaft 40 for the postcards sold by the machine.
One cradle 44 is shown in detail in FIGS. 5 and 6. As the cradles are identical, only one need be described. Cradle 44 includes front and rear walls 52 and 54 respectively which extend parallel to one another'in vertical planes and parallel to the front wall 12 of the case. The end walls 50 of each cradle are composed of a pair of inwardly extending flanges 56 and 58 at the ends of the front and rear walls 52 and 54, which in turn are joined by connecting panel 59 that actually contains the vertical slot 48. Thus, the main frame of each cradle includes a pair of elongated front and rear walls joined together by the end walls. The cradle is subdivided into a number of separate compartments or magazines by intermediate flanges 60 that extend inwardly from the inner surfaces of the front and rear walls as is evident in FIG. 5. The flanges 60 are spaced apart on each wall a distance just exceeding the width of the postcards to be vended so that the cards may be stacked in the individual compartments 62 in the manner suggested in the drawing. A pair of spaced wires 64 extend across the bottom of each compartment 62 closely adjacent the dividing flanges 60 so that a postcard may be drawn out of the compartment from the bottom of the stack between the wires by the vending mechanism described below. In the embodiment shown in the drawing, each cradle is designed to carry four stacks of postcards, and as four cradles are provided 16 different postcard views are carried in the machine.
Front wallv52 of cradle 44 is provided with a number of forwardly extending ears 66 which are designed to hold individual postcards for viewing through transparent plate or window 24. The cars are bent from the plane of front wall 52 and as is evident in FIG. 2 they are spaced so as to hold postcards P in front of each compartment 62, that is, immediately outside each compartment holding a stack of cards. As is explained in detail below, the card on the face of a particular compartment does not in fact correspond to the cards inthat compartment, but rather, it correspondsto the cards in the aligned compartment in an adjacent cradle.
The vending mechanism which actually transfers cards from the individual compartments 62 in the eradle to the discharge chute 30 is shown in detail in FIGS. 24. The mechanism, generally identified by numeral 70, is mounted on a vertical panel 72 which is movable I manually across the case by means of selector handle 36. Panel 72 is supported in part by a roller 74 mounted intermediate the ends of the bottom edge 76 of the panel on stub shaft 78, which rides on a rail 80 that also extends transversely across the case 10. Four notches 82 are provided in rail 80, which correspond to the four compartments in each cradle 44. A pair of arms 86 extend forwardly from the front face 88 of panel 72 adjacent its side edges, which in turn are joined at their forward extremities by a narrow plate 90. Panel 72, arms 86, and plate 90 form a horizontal rectangular opening through which postcards drop when drawn from anyone of the compartments 62 on the way to discharge chute 30.
Bearing blocks 92 are mounted on the ends of plate 90, which in turn ride on the horizontally extending rail 94 positioned in case 10 behind front wall 12 and just above slot 34. As shown in FIG. 2 rail 94 sits in brackets 96 on the inner surface of end walls 20. Selector handle 36 is generally L-shaped, having an upstanding rear leg 100 secured to plate 90 between blocks 92, and it extends forwardly from plate 90 out slot34 in the front wall of the case. Thus, selector handle 36 provides means for moving the vending mechanism 70 from side to side across case 10 so that it maybe positioned below any one of the compartments 62 in the cradle 44 disposed immediately above panel 72.
As shown in FIGS. 2-4, panel-72 carries a vertically positioned cylinder 102 on its front face 88. Cylinder 102 contains piston 104 carried on rod 106. Rod 106 has an axial bore 108 extending downwardly from its upper end 110, and port 112 in rod 106 communicates with bore 100 and the interior of cylinder-102. A vent opening 114 is formed in the cylinder 102 to communicate with the cylinder interior. A suction cup 116 having a central opening 118 communicates with the bore 108 in the rod so as to form a continuaton thereof.
When the piston 104 is disposed above vent port 114, the interior of cylinder 102 above piston 104 may be vented through the port 112, bore 108, and port 118 to the atmosphere so long as the suction cup has not engaged a postcard. 'When the piston 104 is disposed below the vent 114, the interior of the cylinder is open to the atmosphere through the vent. This feature enables the suction cup 116 to engage and draw down from any of the individual compartments of the cradles 44 the bottom-most postcard, and the suction cup retains the postcard on it until the piston 104 moves below the vent 114. This is described in greater detail in connection with the operation of the mechanism.
The piston rod 106 is actuated by crankassembly 120 that comprises links 122 and 124. The crank assembly is driven by a motor 126 -on the back of panel 72 and actuates the rod 106 by virtue of the connection between link 124 and the horizontal arm 128 rigidly secured to the bottom of rod 106. As the motor shaft 130 rotates clockwise as viewed in FIG. 4, the rod 106 is moved up and down as suggested by arrow 132. As linkage assembly 120 moves, rod 106 moves upwardly to the maximum elevated position when the link 122 is in the vertical position suggested at 122. Subsequently, with continued rotation of shaft 130, link 122 assumes the position suggested in broken lines by numeral 122 in which position the rod 106 is in its lowermost position. When rod 106 reaches its'maximum upward position, the suction cup 116 engages the lowermost card in the cradle compartment disposed immediately above it (see FIGS. 3 & 4), and the card itself serves to close opening 118 in the suction cup. Therefore, as the rod 106 thereafter moves downwardly with rotation of motor shaft 130, a vacuum is created in the cylinder 102 above piston 104 which serves to retain the card on the suction cup. Consequently the card is withdrawn from the compartment between the wires 64 and is carried by the suction cup (the card bows so as to pass between the wires) until the piston 104 passes vent port 114, at which time the vacuum in cylinder 102 is relieved and the postcard is allowed to fall between arms 86 and plate to the discharge chute 30. A stripping finger 134 mounted on the front 88 of panel 72 helps to jar the postcard from the suction cup 116 when the vacuum is broken.
A pair of microswitches 136 and 138 are mounted on the front and back, respectively, of panel 72 adjacent its lower edge 76, and each respectively has an actuating finger 140 and 142 which are in a control circuit of the vending machine described below.
The microswitch 136 is actuated by contact of its finger 140 with the end of arm 128. When rod 106 reaches the bottom of its stroke as suggested by the position of arm 128 shown as 128 in FIG. 4, the end 150 engages the finger 140 to open switch 136. As switch 136 lies in the circuit of motor 126 carried on the back of the panel 72, continued rotation of the motor ceases upon opening of switch 136.
The finger 142 of microswitch 138 is actuated by the upper surface 152 of rail 154. As wheel 74 rides along the lower rubber rail 82, the finger roller 142 of microswitch 138 rides along the upper surface 152 of the higher rail 154. 'When roller 74 engages one of the notches 82 in the rubber rail 82 signifying that the plate is properly located with respect to one of the compartments or magazines 62 in cradle 44, simultaneously the roller 142 falls into the notch 155 formed on the upper edge 152 of rail 154 so as to open microswitch 138. Microswitch 138 also is in the vend motor circuit, and it must be actuated by registration of its finger with the notch in rail 154 in order for the motor to rotate.
As shown in FIG. 2, shaft 40 which supports the plates 42 and cradles 44 carries a sprocket adjacent one end wall of case 10, which in turn supports chain 162 in turn driven by drive sprocket 164 of gear box 166 actuated by the cradle motor 168. Gear box 166 and motor 168 are mounted on rear wall 18 of the case 10 somewhat below and out of the path of the cradles as the shaft 40 rotates. A mounting bracket 170 adjustably supports the gear box and motor on wall 18. Motor 168 carries a brake (not shown) which prevents override of the motor when the motor circuit is open.
In operation, the card vending machine operates as follows: As the shaft 40 rotates, the cradles 44 sequentially come into view through the window 24 on the front wall 12 of the case, and the cards supported by the ears 66 on the front wall of the cradles are clearly visible. To initiate rotation of shaft 40 to bring the cradles 44 into view through window 24, the customer presses the view button 180 on front wall 12 of the case located beside the window. Actuation of button 180 completes the circuit of motor 168 as shown in a schematic diagram of FIG. 7 and throws the cam operated microswitch 182 carried on shaft 40 behind sprocket 160 so that shaft 40 completes one quarter revolution.
The brake of motor 168 automatically opens as the motor 160 is energized to allow the motor to turn freely. Cam microswitch 182 carried on shaft 40 behind sprocket 160 is thrown from the position shown in FIG. 7 to the alternative position so as to complete an alternative path for motor 168 to allow it to continue to run even after the push button 180 is released. However, cam microswitch 182 automatically opens after the shaft 40 has turned through one quarter revolution which then de-energizes motor 168 and reactivates the motor brake so that no override of the motor 168 is permitted. The motor brake and cam microswitch 182 are sooriented that the shaft 40 stops when the cradles are in the position shown in FIG. 3 with thelower cradle positioned immediately above vending mechanism 70. Thus, as viewed in FIG. 3, cradle 44' is properly positioned with respect to the suction cup 116 carried on the end piston rod 106. In selecting the desired card, the customer may actuate the button 180 four times, or alternatively may keep the button 180 depressed manually so that the shaft 40 makes a complete revolution and all of the postcards carried on the front walls of the cradles are viewable through the window 24. The customer rotates the cradles until the particular card desired is on the cradle centered in the window 24; that is, the card desired is carried on the wall 52 of the cradle in the position of cradle 44". Next, the customer moves the handle pointer 36 so that it is aligned with the indicating line 190 in turn vertically aligned with the desired postcard. As the handle 36 is moved from side to side to the proper position, vending assembly 70 moves with it, and roller 74 will register with one of the depressions in the rubber rail 82 as the handle 36 is aligned with each of the various indicator markings 190. Simultaneously f nger 142 of microswitch 138 will set in the notch provided in the upper edge 152 of the higher rail 154.
As suggested above, and referring to FIG. 3, the card carried on outer wall 52 of the particular compartment in cradle 44" is the same as all the cards in the compartment aligned vertically with it in the cradle 44'. Therefore, when a selected card is positioned in the line of cradle 44" and the handle pointer 36 is aligned with that particular card, suction cup 116 and cylinder 102 are aligned with the compartment carrying the identical cards in the cradle position 44'. The customer then inserts the proper coin in coin box 192 and depresses the coin plunger. Coin box switch 194 as shown in the schematic drawing of FIG. 7 is thereby closed which latches the latching relay 196 that may be carried on the back of panel 72. With the latching relay 196 in its latched condition, the circuit to motor 126 is completed to start the mechanism 120 through its cycle to actuate cylinder 120. Simultaneously, latching of the latching relay breaks the circuit to motor 168 so as to prevent continued rotation of motor 168 under any conditions. Actuation of motor 126 causes piston rod 106 to rise until suction cup 1 16 engages the lowermost card in the magazine 62 of cradle 44' disposed immediately above the piston rod. The piston rod is long enough to provide some override of suction cup 116 against the lowermost card in the stack to insure proper engagement of the card with the rubber cup and close passage 118 in it. As motor 126 continues to rotate and turn actuating mechanism 120, the rod 106 drops and the vacuum in cylinder 102 is increased so as to insure proper engagement of the cup 116 with the card. Thus the card is bowed between the wires 64 and drawn out of the magazine and continues its downward travel with the cup 116 until the piston 104 passes vent port 114 in the cylinder. When this occurs, the vacuum in cylin- -der 102 is relieved, and the stripping finger 134 simultaneously jars the card from the cup and permits it to drop to the chute 30. When rod 106 reaches the bottom of its stroke, the end of arm 128 engages the setback microswitch 136 and more particularly its finger 140 and that opens the circuit to motor 126 by releasing the latching relay. When the latching relay is released, the circuit to motor 168 is no longer impaired and it may thus be turned by closing push button switch 180. e
' Interlock microswitch 138 is located in the motor circuit, and must be actuated by registration of its finger with the notch in the upper rail 154 in order for motor 126 to operate. Consequently, if handle pointer 36 is not properly aligned with the indicating line on front wall 12 (that is, with the selected postcard) motor 126 may not operate even though the coin switch has been closed. If however, the pointer is accidentally misaligned, and the operator has placed the coin in the coin box and depressed the plunger, the circuit to the motor may be completed by thereafter aligning the handle 36. Therefore the coin is not lost and the card may be purchased by the customer thereafter properly positioning the pointer handle.
The machine may readily be serviced by an attendant merely by opening lock 26 on the top of front wall 12 and raising the window 24 to expose opening 22. With the window out of the way, the attendant may fill each of the compartments in the several cradles with the proper cards. The coin box is also readily accessible through opening 22 so that the attendant may collect the money in the machine.
It is apparent from the foregoing description that while the embodiment illustrated and described is designed to vend as many as 16 different postcards, the machine may be modified by adding additional cradles and/or lengthening the machine so as to provide additional compartments in each cradle to increase the number. Obviously the number may be decreased in a similar fashion. Further, postcards of different sizes may be accommodated by modifying the flanges 60 in the several cradles. For example, with smaller postcards, the flanges may form L-shaped spacers between adjacent compartments. It will also be apparent that by modifying the control circuitry the machine may be used to permit the purchase of a plurality of cards following a single actuation of the coin switch.
Because numerous modifications may be made of this invention without departing from its spirit, it is not intended to limit the breadth of this invention to the single embodiment which is illustrated and described. And it is to be understood that the machine may be used to vend other goods, such as greeting cards, maps, forms etc. Rather, it is intended that the scope of this invention be determined by the appended claims and their equivalents.
at a time from the particular magazine with which it is operatively associated, means for generating a vacuum behind said gripper for causing the piston to withdraw the lowermost item in said magazine, means responsive to the piston being lowered so that the gripper is removed from the magazine causing the article to be discharged from the mechanism,
and means including a coin controlled switch for controlling the operation of the vending mechanism. 2. A vending machine as described in claim 1 further characterized by said magazines being carried in a plurality of cradles rotatable about a horizontal axis,
and means operatively connected to the cradles for rotating them in sequence into operative relationship with the vending mechanism.
3. A vending machine as described in claim 2 further characterized by a viewing window in the case for sequentially viewing each cradle, each cradle being positioned for best viewing through the window when another cradle is operatively positioned with respect to the vending mechanism,
and articles carried on the magazine of each cradle which are samples of the articles in another of the cradles, whereby sample articles viewed through the window correspond to the articles in the cradle operatively positioned with respect to said vending mechanism. I
4. A vending machine comprising a case and an opening in the case to view the case interior, v
a plurality of horizontally extending display panels mounted for rotation about a horizontal axis in the case,
a plurality of holders on each panel, each holder adapted to carry card-like merchandise with the opening in the case substantially as wide as each panel so that all the merchandise on a panel may be viewed at one time,
means for rotating the display panels to move them one at a time into view through the opening so that the merchandise on the panels may be successively visually examined,
a plurality of pivotally mounted magazines connected behind and rotatably about the horizontal axis with the panels in the case and equal in number to the number of holders, one magazine corresponding to each holder for carrying a plurality of copies of the merchandise corresponding to that in the holder,
' said magazines maintaining a constant vertical orientation because of their pivotal mounting as they rotate about the horizontal axis so that the merchandise in the magazines is not spilled from them,
and a vending mechanism and discharge means disposed in the case and movable horizontally in the case parallel to the axis and into operative relation with each of the magazines for withdrawing merchandise from the magazine and feeding it to the discharge means.
5.1A vending machine as described in claim 4 further characterized by selector means connected to the mechanism and operatively associated with the display panels for enabling a purchaser to position the mechanism with respect to the magazine containing the desired merchandise.
6. A vending machine as described in claim 4 further characterized by the magazines being connected to display panels adjacent the display panels carrying corresponding merchandise. I v
7. A vending machine as described in claim 5 further characterized by the magazines being connected to display panels adjacent the display panels carrying corresponding merchandise. 8. A vending machine as described in claim 6 further characterized by a coin operated circuit mounted in the case for controlling operation of the vending mechanism. 9. A vending machine as described in claim 7 further characterized by ther characterized by means connected to the menas for rotating the display panels for preventing operation of that means when the vending mechanism is in operation.
11. A vending machine as described in claim 10 further characterized by said means for rotating the display panels including a motor and a control switch on the case for initiating rotation of the motor.
12. A vending machine comprising a case with a horizontal shaft and frame mounted in the case,
a plurality of cradles pivotally suspended from the frame and rotatable about the shaft, means in the cradles dividing each cradle into a horizontal row of magazineswith each magazine suitable for holding a quantity of identical items to be vended by the machine,
sample merchandise holders mounted on and rotatable with each of the cradles with one holder in front of each magazine, each of said holders carrying a sample of the merchandise held in quantity in a magazine in a different cradle,
a horizontally extending window in the case through which all of the merchandise on the holders on each cradle may be viewed simultaneously as each cradle is passed behind the window by rotation of the shaft,
openings in each magazine through which the merchandise held in quantity may be withdrawn one at a time,
a vending mechanism and discharge means disposed in the case and movable into operative relation dise holders for enabling a purchaser to position the mechanism with respect to the magazine containing a quantity of the desired merchandise.