US 3818428 A
The specification discloses a floating marine safety light having a pressure actuated switch which enables the light to be carried or stored in an upright position with the circuit open and which will make contact to close the electric circuit to illuminate a safety light when the light is immersed in water. Further, the invention includes means for compensating pressure changes in the light to prevent accidental actuation of the pressure switch due to thermal fluctuations. The invention also includes means for impeding or retarding descent of the safety light when dropped from high elevations, such as from a low flying aircraft.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent 191 Phipps et al.
[ June 18, 1974 SAFETY LIGHT 3,559,224 2/1971 Shimizu 9/83 E  Inventors: Andrew J. Phipps; Donald C.
Howell, b th f R0, B 793, Primary Examiner-Kathleen l-l. Claffy Kilgore, Tex. 75662 Assistant Examiner-Thomas L. Kundert F1 d Nov 10 1971 Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Pravel, Wilson & Matthews  Appl. No.: 197,377 ABSTRACT f l Apphcatlon Data The specification discloses a floating marine safety  lcgo'rllglnubailodrbmgJari of Ser. No. 46,111, June 15, light having a pressure actuated switch which enables a an one the light to be carried or stored in an upright position with the circuit open and which will make contact to 525: close the electric circuit to illuminate a safety light [581 d 3 R 8 3 B when the light is immersed in water. Further, the inle 0 arc 1 i vention includes means for compensating pressure changes in the light to prevent accidental actuation of 56 R f Ct d the pressure switch due to thermal fluctuations. The 1 e erences e invention also includes means for impeding or retard- UNITED STATES PATENTS ing descent of the safety light when dropped from high 2,035,185 3/1936 Nichols 9/83 E elevations, such as from a low flying aircraft. 2,832,968 5/1958 Knudsen 2,969,211 1/1961 Saurma 102/4 1 Claim, 7 Drawing Figures MZZ-P m I V I 7 /AJb 7 ma I /y3 775.9 a l? (Y I l l as l l I /5Z Z l I 9/ fly I 00 /6/ I A, u: 757 A53 ;/b 5/ /65 i 57a /52 I [32 as //7 ,3, /44 I 6 A93 1 /4/ s 1 I57 ///a 7 5 y //6 //O Z2: l ,1:
A32 fiz PATENTEDJIIHI 81914 SHEEI 2 BF 3 ATTORNEYS SAFETY uorrr This is a continuation-in-part of my copending appli- I cat-ion for SAFETY LIGHT, Ser. No. 46,111, filed June 15, 1970 now abandoned.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention The invention relates to a floating safety light having a pressure actuated and pressure compensated switch which turns on the light when the light housing is immersed in water and means for retarding the rate of descent of the light when dropped from high elevations.
2. Description of the Prior Art Prior art marine safety lights have been provided with a gravity switch, i.e., a switch which closes the lighting circuit when the light is positioned in an upright position whether floating upright in the water or stored awaiting use. Such devices are difficult to store on board a boat or else-where when not in use because they must be positioned either on one side or upside down to hold the circuit open and thereby avoid unnecessarily discharging the battery. Also, the prior art safety lights which are normally carried on board boats and ships and which will float when released in the water are likely to shatter or be broken up by the force of impact when dropped into the water from heights such as from a low flying aircraft. This is especially true in the event the lens portion of the light should contact the water at impact.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention comprises a floating safety light which includes a water tight hollow body having a power source, such as a dry cell battery, for powering an electric light which is positioned in a dome in the housing which may either be transparent or colored, as desired. A pressure sensitive switch is provided in the housing, preferably beneath the battery or adjacent to the base of the housing for closing the electric circuit to illuminate the electric light when the housing is floating in the water. The invention also includes pressure compensating means for equalizing the pressure in the light with atmospheric pressure. Another object of the present invention is to provide a means to retard free fall of the safety light of the present invention for retarding its rate of descent when dropped from heights such as from a small airplane. Such embodiment includes a plurality of rotors which are attached to the safety light housing and which can either rotate freely with respect to the housing or which are fixed to the housing so as to rotate the entire housing as it falls by gravity after being released.
A further object of the present invention is to provide a new and improved safety light which may be carried or stored in an upright position in a boat and which will float to the surface of the water to mark the location of a boat which is sunk. Also, such light can be weighted to cause it to sink beneath the waters surface and illuminate an area in the water so as to attract minnows and fish for the purpose of fishing.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a side view partly in section and partly in elevation showing the safety light housing and the light wiring arrangement;
2 FIG. 2 is a sectional view taken on line 22 of FIG.
FIG. 3 is a sectional view showing details of one embodiment of the pressure switch of the present invention;
FIG. 4 is a view partly in elevation and partly in section showing the housing with rotor blades for retarding the free fall of the light housing;
FIG. 5 is a plan view showing details of construction of the rotor hub;
FIG. 6 is a side view partly in section showing the pressure compensating means in the housing and showing details of an alternate pressure actuated switch means; and
FIG. 7 is a partial sectional view showing additional details of the pressure compensating means.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT The apparatus of the present invention, which is designated generally A in FIG. 1 of the drawings, includes a cylindrical housing H which contains a battery B that is connected to a light L positioned in a dome D above the battery B and a pressure actuated switch, designated generally S, which is provided for closing the circuit between the battery and the light L to cause the light L to be illuminated. A rotor R (FIG. 4) may be used in conjunctionwith thesafety light A to retard its free fall when dropped from heights such as from a low flying aircraft.
Considering now the apparatus of the present invention in more detail, the housing H comprises a cylindrical member 1 1 having an open top and a closed bottom 13 for receiving the battery B. A base ring 16 is attached by glue or other suitable adhesive adjacent the lower end of the cylindrical wall 11 for providing a base or stand supporting the housing H in an upright position. Such base is adjacent the pressure actuated switch S and supports the housing without imposing any weight directly on the switch. Such ring 16 includes a circumferentially extending inner shoulder or flange 17 for receiving the pressure actuated switch S which will be described in more detail hereinafter, and for supporting the battery B. A spacer or intermediate support 19 is provided for supporting the battery case 20 in the housing H. The lower end 19a of such spacer l9 rests on the upper shoulder 17a of the flange l7 and the upper end 19b engages the bottom plate 13 of the battery case 20.
Such case 20 includes a cylindrical wall 26 which extends upwardly from the base plate 13 to the battery retaining member 29. As shown, such retaining member extends radially outwardly beyond the wall of the battery case to the inner surface 11a of the outer cylindrical wall 11. A pair of ears or lugs 27 are provided between the outer cylindrical wall ll and the inner cylindrical wall 26 for receiving screws 28 or other suitable connecting means for connecting the battery retaining bar 29 to the battery case 20 and the side wall 11.
The retaining bar 29 is best seen in FIG. 2 of the drawings. Such bar has a central opening 29a through which the wires 30 and 31 extend. The wire 30 connects the tenninal of the liquid socket 36 to the movable contact 37 in the switch S and the wire 31 connects the other terminal of the light socket to the battery terminal 38. The second battery terminal 39 is connected to the fixed switch contact 40 by means of the wire 41. Thus, when the switch contacts 37 and 40 nrein engagement the light circuit is closed and the light L is illuminated.
As shown in FIG. 3 of the drawings, the switch S includes a diaphragm or flexible membrane 44 whjgh closes the lower end of the cylindrical body 11. The diaphragm 44 is attached to the lower shoulder 17 by glue or screws or other suitable securing means to provide a water tight seal around the circumference of the diaphragm so as to exclude water and other foreign matterfrom the interior of the switch S and cylindrical body 11.
The movable contact 37 comprises a pin or shaft which projects upwardly from a substantially flat head or plate 37athat is secured to the upper surface 44a of the diaphragm 44. The fixed contact 40 is affixed to the lower surface of the battery case directly above and in alignment with the upper end of the movable contact 37. A guide 50 encircles the fixed contact for guiding the upper end of the movable contact into engagement with the disc 40. Such guide 50 includes a support ring 51 which depends from the case bottom 13 and supports a disc 53 beneath a contact 40. An opening 58 is formed near the center of the disc 53 for receiving and guiding the upper end of the movable shaft 37.
As shown in FIG. 3, the upper end of the shaft 37 extends into the opening 58 when the diaphragm is in its normal position at atmospheric pressure with such shaft out of engagement with the contact 40. After being submerged in water, the increased pressure causes the diaphragm 44 to move upwardly as indicated by the arrow 60 into the lower end of the cylindrical body 11 therby moving the end 77 into engagement with the fixed contact 40 to close the electric circuit and illuminate the light L.
A transverse plate or disc 70 is supported at the upper end of the cylindrical wall 11. Such plate 70 carries a light socket 36 in which the light L is mounted. As shown, the wires 30 and 31 connect the socket terminals which extend through the plate 70. Such light may be either a standard light bulb which burns continuously when a circuit is closed or may include a thermostatic switch which will cause the light to periodically turn off and on to provide a flashing light.
The dome D may be formed of clear or coated material to produce either white or colored light. Such dome is shown in FIG. 1 as a truncated cone with the lower end thereof extending downwardly inside of connecting band 75 which forms a joint to connect the dome to the cylindrical body 11. Such dome may be fitted by a friction fit or, if preferred, can be glued or screwed into the connecting band 75 for securing it to the upper end of the cylindrical wall 11.
When the FIG. 1 embodiment of the present invention is either floating in a body of water or immersed beneath the surface, the water pressure moves the diaphragm 44 upwardly to cause the pin 37 to contact the fixed contact 40 and thereby close the electric circuit to illuminate the light L. Thus, it will be appreciated that the safety light of the present invention can be carried in a boat and in the event the boat should capsize or sink the light will float in the water and mark the point at which the boat sank. Also. it will be appreciated that an anchor may be secured to the base 16 or some other part of the housing H by a line to the anchor light in the particular location at which it was originally placed in the water. The housing H may be weighted by suitable ballast to cause the light to sink beneath the surface of the water and such light may then be used to attract minnows and fish for fishing purposes.
An alternate embodiment of the safety light apparatus of the present invention is shown in FIGS. 4 and 5 of the drawings wherein the housing l-i preferably comprises a cylindrical member 111 having a bottom or lower closure member 112 and a top or upper closure member 114 providing a water tight container for the battery B. As shown, the bottom 112 comprises a disc having a pair of passages 116 formed adjacent the opposite edges thereof for receiving wires 117 and 118 which extend along the inner surface of the cylindrical wall 111 for connecting the battery B and the light L as will be described. The cylindrical housing 111 includes a laterally inwardly projecting annular shoulder 120 which projects inwardly from the inner wall 111a of the cylindrical body 111 for supporting the battery 8 and for receiving the switching diaphragm 122 which is positioned beneath the bottom member 112. Such shoulder 120 includes a circumferentially extending lip or projecting member 124 which projects upwardly substantially parallel to and radially inwardly of the outer cylindrical wall 11. Such projection 124 is provided with an upper surface or base 126 that extends circumferentially of the housing 111 for receiving and supporting the bottom member 112.
A pin or screw 129 is provided in the bottom 112 which extends therethrough and projects downwardly therefrom. Such pin is connected by the wire 118 to a terminal 118a of the battery B.
A bottom shoulder or face 132 if provided on the laterally inwardly projecting shoulder 120 for receiving the diaphragm 122 which is connected by a plurality of circumferentially spaced screws or bolts 133 to the face 132. Such diaphragm forms a water tight seal with the face 132 to prevent water or moisture from entering the cylindrical safety light housing 111 while it is floating or immersed in water.
As shown, a disc 135 or piate of suitable metallic material is preferably attached to the diaphragm 122 by means of a suitable adhesive so as to maintain the disc in the position immediately beneath the lower end of the pin or screw 129. The wire 117 has one end connected to such disc 135 with the opposite end being connected to one terminal 132 of the light socket 133, the other terminal 137 being connected by wire 141 to the battery terminal 141a. Thus, when the switch designated generally S is closed by making contact between the disc 135 and the pin 129 the circuit will be closed whereby the light L will be turned on. It will be appreciated that the space between the lower end of the pin 129 and the disc 135 may be altered, as desired, to vary the pressuare at which the circuit will close.
The top member 114 preferably comprises a circular disc which rests on a circumferentially extending upwardly facing annular shoulder 1115 firmed in the cylindrical housing 111. Such disc 114 is provided with a central opening which receives a socket 133 for connecting the light L therein. A tubular skirt or body 144 extends circumferentially around the opening 140 and extend vertically downwardly from the disc 114. The lower end 145 of the sleeve 144 preferably engages the upper surface 146 of the battery B. in the preferred form of this invention pad or cusion of foam rubber or other material suitable yieldable is provided on the upper side of the bottom 1 12 beneath the bottom of the battery B for yieldably supporting such battery B in position in the housing H.
The cylindrical body 111 is provided with an upper annular shoulder 150 which projects radially outwardly from such body adjacent the upper end thereof. Such annular shoulder 50 has an upper shoulder or surface 151 having a circumferentially extending groove 152 therein for receiving an O-ring 153 or other suitable sealant which forms a seal between the top of the tubular or cylindrical body 111 and the dome D as will be described in detail hereinafter. Such annular shoulder 150 also includes a circumferentially extending bead 155 which extends around the circumference of such shoulder at its lower outer edge for forming a circumferential groove or recess 156 which receives one end of a clip spring 157 for securing the dome cover D to the cylindrical body 111.
Such dome D comprises a cylindrical body 161 having a rounded enclosed upper end 162 for covering the upper end of the cylindrical body 111 and the light L. As shown, cylindrical wall 161 of the dome D is provided with a radially outwardly projecting annular shoulder 163 having a circumferentially extending projection 164 which projects downwardly from the lower face 165 of such shoulder 163 and into the groove 152 where it engages the O-ring 153. The annular shoulder 163 also includes a circumferentially extending bead 167 which extends around the shoulder 163 at its upper outer edge and forms a circumferentially extending groove 168 for receiving one end of the clip spring 157 which secures the dome D to the housing 111. With the projection 164 aligned in the annular groove 152 the dome D may be positioned on top of the cylindrical body 111 and clamped in position by means of the C clamps or springs 157 which are provided with suitable rounded ends 157a which are received in the groove 156 and also in the groove 168 formed on the upper side of the annular shoulders 163 on the dome E. It will be appreciated that the shoulders 150 and 163 could be formed in circumferentially spaced individual segments for receiving clips 157 rather than be formed as a continuous shoulder, if desired.
In the event a larger dome than dome D is desired, when the rotor apparatus R is not secured to the dome D, an auxiliary dome extension D can be affixed to the upper end of the dome D as shown in phantom in FIG. 4. Such dome extension comprises a cylindrical body of colored or transparent plastic material having an internal diameter approximately the same size as the external diameter of the dome D. An annular groove 170 extends around the outer perimeter of the cylindrical dome body 161 for receiving a corresponding ridge or protection 173 formed on the inner wall of the auxiliary dome D. With this arrangement such auxiliary dome is affixed by expanding the lower end of the auxiliary dome and inserting the dome D therein so as to slip or snap the auxiliary dome D onto the dome D.
In the preferred form of the present invention the apparatus for reducing the rate of descent or slowing the free fall of the safety light when dropped from a height such as from a low flying aircraft, comprises a rotor designated generally R in FIG. 4 of the drawings. Such rotor R includes a shaft 180 having a base 181 at the lower end that engages the top 162 of the dome D and a hub 182 which connects a plurality of radially extending blades 183 at the upper end. Such shaft 180 extends through a suitable opening 190 in a bail 191 which is secured at opposite ends 192 to the housing H. As shown, such bail ends are formed into hooks which project upwardly into the groove 0r recess 156 below the annular shoulder on the housing H. A spring 196 is provided on the rotor shaft 181) between the bail and the shaft base 181 for urging the bail upwardly to hold the bail hooks 193 into the annular groove 156.
The rotor blades 183 are tapered from a leading edge 183a to a trailing edge 183b to provide aerodynamic lift to cause rotation of the rotor R as the safety light descends in free fall to slow the rate of fall and thus reduce the impact force when the housing strikes the water to protect the housing and its contents against breakage.
Another alternate embodiment of the apparatus of the present invention is shown in FIGS. 6 and 7 of the drawings wherein the housing H comprises a cylindrical member 211 having a bottom 212 and a top or upper closure member 214 which together provide a water tight container for the battery B. As shown, the bottom 212 comprises a disc having a central opening 213 formed therein for receiving a molded diaphragm 220 which is provided for actuating the switch mechanism 222 as will be described in detail hereinafter. A top 230 is provided on the base section 211 which surrounds the light L and which of course may be either clear or colored as desired.
As best seen in FIG. 6 of the drawings, a plurality of circumferentially spaced pegs or supports 215 are provided in the base portion of the housing 211 which extend vertically upwardly from the bottom plate 212 and which are disposed near the inner surface 21 la of such side wall 211. Such support members 215 are provided for supporting the outer edges of the battery support plate 217 which supports the battery B at the desired elevation in the housing H. Also, as shown in FIG. 6 of the drawings, the battery support plate 217 includes a downwardly projecting annular skirt or sleeve 218 which is preferably formed integrally with the battery support plate 217. As shown, such downwardly projecting skirt has a radially inwardly projecting annular shoulder 219 which engages a corresponding shoulder on the diaphragm 220 as will be described in detail hereinafter and also has a frusto-conical inner flange 225 that projects inwardly and upwardly toward the switch 222. The frusto-conical flange 225 is provided with a central opening 226 through which the tip or plunger portion 229 of the diaphragm 220 project to engage the switch blade or connecting arm 233 to move such blade 233 upwardly into engagement with the pin 240 which is connected by suitable wire or conduit 241 to one pole of the battery B with the switch blade 233 being connected by a another suitable conduit 244 to the socket 245 to illuminate the light I. when the switch 222 is closed.
The annular skirt or ring 218 which depends from the base plate 217 surrounds the opening 213 in which the molded diaphragm member 220 is carried. As shown in FIG. 6 of the drawings, such molded diaphragm comprises a lower annular base ring 250 and an upper annular ring 252 which are connected by a cylindrical body 253 and which are vertically spaced so as to engage opposite sides of the bottom member 212 around the circumference of the opening 213. The central lug 229 which is disposed axially of the rings 252 and 250, respectively, is connected to the upper ring 252 by means of a flexible web 260 which is molded so as to form an S-shaped cross section when in the normal or relaxed position shown in FIG. 6 of the drawings. Further, it should be noted that the lower end of the depending skirt 218 surrounds the outer perimeter of the upper ring 252 and that the annular shoulder 219 on the ring 218 rests upon the upper surface or shoulder 255 of the upper ring 252. Thus, it will be appreciated that when the battery support plate 217 is positioned in the lower housing case 211 resting upon the supports 215, the lower end of the annular skirt 218 surrounds the upper ring 252 and the shoulder 219 rests on such ring to compress it against the upper surface of the bottom 212 and thereby form a water tight seal for sealing the bottom of the housing 211 around such opening 213 to prevent the incursion of water into the case when the safety light is placed in the water.
The pressure compensating means is designated generally 260 in the drawings. As shown, such pressure compensating means comprises a rotatable plug 262 which is provided with an eccentric handle or projection 263 which is disposed in an upwardly projecting neck or sleeve 265 formed in the top 230. As shown, a central passage or opening 270 is provided in the rotatable plug 262 and a laterally extending opening 271 is also provided in the plug which communicates the central or longitudinally extending passage 270. A port or opening 280 is provided in the upstanding neck 265. When the rotatable plug 262 is turned to the position shown in FIG. 6 of the drawings, the laterally extending passage 271 is aligned with the port 280 to permit communication between the interior 285 of the top 230 and the atmosphere on the exterior of such top 230 to allow pressure differentials between the interior of the housing H and the external atmosphere to be equalized.
As shown in FIG. 7 of the drawings, the rotatable plug 262 may be rotated so as to move the laterally extending passage 271 out of alignment with the port 280 and thus close the port 280 and seal the interior of the housing H from the exterior atmosphere.
It will be appreciated that when the apparatus of the present invention is stored with the rotatable plug 262 in the closed position shown in FIG. 7, the interior 285 of the housing H will be sealed from communication with the exterior surrounding atmosphere and as a result, pressure differentials may occur between such interior and exterior atmosphere due to temperature changes occurring therebetween. In the event that the interior of the housing H should be cooled substantially with respect to the exterior atmosphere, the volume of gases in the housing H would thereby be reduced and the diaphragm 220 caused to be drawn into the housing H to move the switch blade 233 into contact with the pin 240 thereby closing the circuit and causing the light L to be illuminated. By rotating the plug 260 so as to align the passage 271 with the port 280, any differential in pressure will be equalized and the molded rubber diaphragm 220 will return to its normal position shown at FIG. 6 of the drawings with the blade 233 out of contact with the pin 240.
Thus, it will be appreciated that the safety light of the present invention can normally be stored with the pressure relief valve open so as to prevent any pressure diferential from building up inside the housing H and when the light is taken out on the water the plug can be turned so as to close the port 280 and thereby provide a fully water tight housing H.
As shown in FIG. 6 of the drawings, clips 290 are provided for clipping the mating annular flanges 291 and 292 of the bottom 211 and top 230, respectively, together and an O-ring seal 295 can be placed between such facing flanges to provide a water tight seal be tween the top 230 and the bottom 211. Suitable spacers 296 are provided which extend beneath the bottom of the top 214 downwardly to engage the top surface of the battery B to stabilize the battery in the housing case 211.
The foregoing disclosure and description of the invention are illustrative and explanatory thereof, and various changes in the size, shape and materials as well as in the details of the illustrated construction may be made without departing from the spirit of the invention.
What is claimed is:
l. A marine safety light comprising a water tight housing having a battery connected by an electric circuit to an electric light and having a pressure actuated switch means in said housing adapted to be closed by a pressure in excess of atmospheric pressure and having a rotor means mounted on a shaft having a plurality of blades extending radially outwardly from the upper end of said shaft, a bail extending transversely of said housing and above the upper end thereof with hook means on the end of said bail for engaging said housing, a passage through said bail for receiving said rotor shaft and spring means for urging said hook ends of said bail into engagement with said housing for securing said rotor means thereto.