US 3808721 A
Apparatus for producing moving light patterns of varying size and intensity in which a plurality of electric lamps are mounted in vertically spaced relation along a rotatable vertical shaft driven by a motor, the lamps being spaced at different distances from the axis of the shaft and being surrounded by four translucent screens on which the patterns are projected. The screens are spaced from the lamps and intermediate the screens and the lamps and spaced therefrom is a cylindrical, tubular mask having its axis parallel to the shaft axis and having a plurality of light transmitting areas bordered by opaque areas, the light transmitting areas defining the light transmitted from the lamps to the screens.
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
I United States Patent [1 1 [111 3,808,721 Gersch May 7, 1974 ANIMATED DISPLAY APPARATUS  Inventor: William R. Gersch, Flocktown Rd., jggg i fg gs rfiggz x xfig Long valley 07853 Attorney, Agent, or FirmBrooks Haidt & Haffner  Filed: Nov. 17, 1972 21 Appl. No.2 307,471  ABSTRACT Apparatus for producing moving light patterns of varying size and intensity in which a plurality of elec-  US. Cl 40/106.52, 40/3I;,4 301/371, tric lamps are mounted in vertically spaced relation 51 I C] Gogf 6 along a rotatable vertical shaft driven by a motor, the d 106 53 lamps being spaced at different distances from the axis 1 0 an b 10 3 of the shaft and being surrounded by four translucent screens on which the patterns are projected. The screens are spaced from the lamps and intermediate  References the screens and the lamps and spaced therefrom is a UNITED STATES PATENTS cylindrical, tubular mask having its axis parallel to the 571,656 11/1896 Golding 40/77 UX shaft axis and having a plurality of light transmitting 838,075 12/1906 Brown areas bordered by opaque areas, the light transmitting 597753 1/1929 Canm" areas defining the light transmitted from the lamps to 1,403,630 1/1922 Pyper the screens 1,855,297 4/l932 Lawrence 3,610,918 10/1971 Barlow 240/10 R 4 Claims, 4 Drawing Figures PATENTEDMAY new 3808.721
, SHEET 2 OF 2 ANIMATED DISPLAY APPARATUS The invention relates to animated display apparatus in which moving light sources project moving light patterns of varying size and intensity on one or more translucent screens spaced from the light sources, the patterns being defined by a mask having light transmitting and opaque areas and the mask being intermediate and spaced from the screen and the light sources.
There are many known display devices in which moving light sources and translucent screens are used to produce moving light patterns on the screen. Examples of such devices are set forth in the U.S. Pat. Nos. 838,075; 1,697,753; and 3,610,918. However, such devices do not use a mask spaced from the screen so that all that is produced on the screen is an image of the light source. In addition, the lamps in the apparatus of U.S. Pat. Nos. 838,075 and 1,697,753 are spaced at equal distances from the axis of rotation so that the lamps follow identical orbits which produce regularly repeating patterns uninterrupted by different patterns.
U.S. Pat. Nos. 2,173,939 and 2,204,435 disclose the use of a shadow mask between a moving light source and a screen, the mask being at least partially spaced from the screen, but the light source moves in a plane parallel to at least one dimension of the screen and since a shadow mask is used, the pattern varies little in intensity and size and repeats regularly and without interruption by different patterns.
U.S. Pat. No. 873,020 discloses a plurality of lamps rotatable around an axis perpendicular to a screen. The screen and the lamps may be painted with patterns and the lamps may be oscillated with respect to the screen. Aside from the fact that the lamp oscillating mechanism is complicated and expensive, and that the lamps orbit around an axis perpendicular to the screen, there is no mask which is spaced from both the screen and the lamps themselves so that the effects obtained with the apparatus of the invention are not obtained with the apparatus of U.S. Pat. No. 873,020.
The invention relates to improvements in apparatus of the type described in said patents, which improvementsprovide intermixed, moving light patterns of many forms during one revolution of the supporting shaft for the light sources and variations in the size and intensity of the patterns with simple and relatively inexpensive apparatus.
Accordingly, one object of the invention is to provide animated, illuminated display apparatus which produces a plurality of different, moving light patterns during each of the successive cycles of operation, which patterns vary in intensity and size during each cycle.
A further object of the invention is to produce the desired light patterns with relatively simple and inexpensive apparatus.
In the preferred embodiment of the invention a motor rotates a vertically disposed shaft on which are mounted a plurality of electric lamps disposed in vertically spaced relation and at different radial distances from the vertical axis of the shaft to thereby provide discrete light sources orbiting in horizontal orbits of different size, which orbits are in vertically spaced planes. Preferably, the lamp bulbs are transparent colored glass with at least some of the lamps having different colors. In one embodiment, four plane, translucent screens are arranged in a square around the axis of the shaft and in spaced relation to the lamps, the planes of the screens being vertical and therefore, transverse to the planes of the lamp orbits. A mask in hollow cylindrical or tubular form is disposed between the lamps and the screens with its axis parallel to the shaft axis. The mask is spaced from both the lamps and the screen and has a plurality of light transmitting areas bordered or surrounded by opaque areas, the light transmitting areas defining the patterns projected on the screens.
Other objects and advantages of the invention will be readily apparent from the following detailed description of preferred embodiments thereof, which description should be considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:
FIG. 1 is a partly cut away, perspective view of the preferred embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 2 is a plan view of the embodiment in FIG. I with the top thereof removed;
FIG. 3 is a plan view of a modified embodiment of the invention in which the light pattern receiving screens are arranged in a triangle; and
FIG. 4 is a partly cut away, elevation view of a further embodiment of the invention in which the light pattern receiving screen is a hollow sphere.
The preferred embodiment of the invention illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2 comprises an enclosure having opaque top and bottom walls 1 and 2 and reentrant vertical side walls formed by translucent screens 3-6. Each of the screens 3-6 is flat, as shown, so that their surfaces lie in flat planes, and they may be made of frosted glass or plastic so that light striking the interior surface produces an image at the screen visible exteriorly of the enclosure. Although the screens 3-6 are shown integral with each other, it will be apparent that they may be separate screens held together in any conventional manner. Although the plurality of differently oriented screens 3-6 surrounding the light sources hereinafter described is preferred because of the effects obtained, a single screen, e.g., 3, 4, 5 or 6, may be used if limited effects are desired.
A motor 7, such as a small electric motor, is mounted centrally of and secured to the bottom wall 2 and rotates a vertical shaft 8 at a relatively low rate of speed,
e.g., 1-10 r.p.m., about 8 rpm. being preferred. A bracket 9 is secured to the wall 2 and extends over the motor 7. The motor 7 may be secured to the bracket 9 and the bracket 9 may have a bearing thereon and receiving the shaft 8 to aid in maintaining the shaft 8 in its upright position. The bracket 9 also serves other purposes described hereinafter.
Three groups of electric lamps 10-18, each group comprising three lamps, are mounted on the shaft 8 so as to be moved thereby in vertically spaced, circular orbits around the axis of the shaft 8. Thus, the lamps 10-18 may be supported by brackets 19 secured to collars 20-22 secured to the shaft 8. The orbital plane of each lamp extends perpendicular to the axis of the shaft 8 and to the planes of the screens 3-6. Of course, if desired, the screens 3-6 may be tilted at a small angle with respect to the vertical, but the orbital planes will still extend transversely to the planes of the screens.
By tilting or bending, or by adjusting the lengths of, the brackets 19, the lamps 10-18 will be at different radial distances from the axis of the shaft 8 which means that the orbits of the lamps 10-18 will have different diameters and that any given portion of the mask 23, hereinafter described, will be approached more closely by some lamps than by other lamps as the shaft 8 is rotated providing size and intensity variations of the light patterns on the screens 3-6 in addition to those provided by the different geometries of the mask 23 and the screens 3-6.
Preferably, each lamp 10-18 has a transparent, but colored, glass bulb so that the filaments thereof are visible. Thus, each lamp acts as a line source of light having dimensions in at least one direction which normally are smaller than the corresponding dimensions of light transmitting areas 24 of the mask 23 to thereby more sharply define and cause more apparent movement of the light patterns on the screens 3-6. In addition, for a given wattage, the light from such a lamp is of greater localized intensity than that from a lamp with a frosted bulb. The lamps 1 -18 may be differently colored, e.g., lamp may be colored yellow, lamp 11 red, lamp 12 blue, etc.
The lamps 10-18 may be electrically energized in a conventional manner from a collector ring assembly 25 secured to the bracket 9 and having input wires 26, the connections from the assembly 25 to the lamps 10-18 being omitted from the drawings for simplicity in illustration.
The mask 23 has the light transparent areas 24, hereinbefor'e mentioned, which are surrounded'or bordered by opaque areas 27, i.e., the mask 23 is opaque except for the areas 24 which may be in the form of letters, numbers, brand names, logos, designs, patterns, etc. The mask 23 may be a photographic film on which the areas 24 have been produced photographically. Although the mask 23 may be only a sheet, preferably arcuate, if only a single screen 3, 4, S or 6 is used, preferably the mask is tubular, e.g., a generally cylindrical tube, with the axis thereof parallel to the axis of the shaft 8. If desired, the tubular mask 23 may have a cross-section other than that of a circle as shown, and for example, the cross-section may be triangular, elliptical, square, etc. Themask 23 is held in spaced relation to both the lamps 10-18 and the screens 3-6 by upturned ends, e.g., end 28, of the bracket 9 to which the mask 23 may be secured.
From an examination of the drawings, it will be apparent that each of the transparent areas 24 receives light from a plurality of the lamps 10-18 which passes therethrough to the adjacent one of the screens 3-6. Thus, each area 24 will produce a plurality of light images on the adjacent screen, but the size and intensity of each image, assuming that each lamp produces the same amount of light, will depend on two factors, namely, the distance of the lamp producing the image from the light transmitting area 24 through which the light passes, and the distance of such area from the surface of the adjacent screen on which the light pattern falls. Also, the image will move across the screen as the lamp moves in its orbit. Accordingly, on a given screen and because of both the fact that different lamps have orbits of different size, and the fact that the mask is tubular whereas the screen is flat, each transparent area 24 will produce multiple, moving light patterns of varying size and intensity on a screen as the shaft 8 rotates. The same patterns will appear in different locations on the same screen with different intensities and colors and will alternately vary in size and intensity so that at any given moment one pattern will dominate in intensity. Thus, each pattern will move horizontally across the screen and will appear to advance toward and recede from the viewer as it so moves. By making the orbital plane of each lamp different, the vertical position of the horizontal path onthe screen of each successive pattern will be different from that of the preceding pattern.
As pointed out hereinbefore, the fact that the mask 23 and the screens 3-6 have different geometries, e.g., form figures of different shape in cross-section, enhances the variations in intensity and size of the patterns on the screens. Instead of screens arranged in a square, the screens may be arranged in a triangle as shown in FIG. 3 or the screens may be a hollow sphere 30 as shown in FIG. 4.
Of course, if it is desired to scarifice some of the range of size and intensity of the light patterns on the screens, the mask 23 and the screens 3-6 may have similar geometries, e.g., the surfaces thereof may be parallel or equidistant but spaced from each other. Thus, the cross-sectional figures formed by the mask 23 and the screen or screens may be the same, e.g., triangular, elliptical, circular, square, pentagonal, etc. Also, if vertically spaced, successively different pattern paths are not desired, the orbital planes of the lamps in each group may be the same. Since horizontally moving patterns are preferred, e.g., for the displayof words, the axis of the shaft 8 is vertical, but if desired, the apparatus may be used with the top wall 1 and bottom wall 2 in their vertical positions.
Although the lamps 10-18 have been shown mounted on a shaft 8 by brackets, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that the lamps 10-18 may be otherwise supported and rotated, such as from a plurality of vertically spaced discs mounted on the shaft 8.
lt will be apparent to those skilled in the art that other modifications may be made without departing from the principles of the invention exemplified by the preferred embodiment of the invention which has been illustrated and described.
What is claimed is:
1. A display device comprising at least four light sources of different colors, rotatable means for supporting said sources around a predetermined axis of rotation with said sources spaced-from each other along said axis and with a plurality thereof spaced at different distances from said axis, whereby upon rotation of said rotatable means said sources traverse orbits of different size and located in planes extending substantially perpendicular to said axis, said planes being spaced from each other along said axis, motor means for rotating said rotatable means, at least one translucent screen spaced from said sources for receiving and transmitting light from said sources, said screen extending transversely of said planes, and a stationary mask intermediate said sources and said screen and spaced from both said sources and said screen, said mask having a plurality of light transmitting areas comprising indicia bordered by opaque areas for transmitting light from said sources to said screen through said light transmitting areas, said opaque areas comprising the major portion of the mask, and thereby producing on said screen moving light patterns of varying size and intensity and corresponding to said light transmitting areas.
2. A display device as set forth in claim 1, wherein said screen lies in a plane substantially parallel to said axis of rotation and said mask is a cylindrical tube, the axis of said tube being substantially parallel to said axis of rotation.
6 3. A display device as set forth in claim 2, further 4. A display device as set forth in claim I, wherein compnsmg addmonal P translucent Screens each of said light sources is an electric lamp having a tending substantially parallel to said axis of rotation and disposed adjacent to said first-mentioned screen so as to form a reentrant wall around said mask which is 5 Plymg elecmcal energy thfiretospaced from said mask.
transparent bulb and furhter comprising means for sup-