US 3821540 A
Abstract available in
Claims available in
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent [191 Watt June 28, 1974  LANTERN 3,376,588 4/1968 Berteaux et a1 9/8  Inventor: Robert H. Watt, 925 Springfield,
Apt. A, Upland, Calif. 91786 Primary ExaminerSamuel S. Matthews Assistant Examiner--Michael L. Gellner Attorney, Agent, or FirmBoniard I. Brown  ABSTRACT A gravity actuated, battery powered lantern having a gravity operated switch which closes to turn on the lantern when it is rotated to an upright operating position and opens to turn off the lantern when it is roway, marine, aircraft or railroad marker or emergency warning light that may be dropped from a moving vehicle or, if desired, a portable lamp, and so on.
7 Claims, 5 Drawing Figures LANTERN BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention This invention relates generally to electrical lighting devices and more particularly to a novel battery powered, gravity actuated lantern.
2. Prior Art Battery powered lanterns are widely used for a variety of purposes such as marker lights, emergency warning lights, portable lamps, and so forth. Simply stated, such lanterns have a lamp socket for receiving a light bulb, a battery holder or compartment for receiving a battery, and a circuit connecting the socket and battery including a switch whichmay be closed to turn the bulb on and opened to turn the bulb off.
As will appear from the ensuing description, the present battery operated lantern may be used for the above and other purposes. However, the lantern is particularly adapted for use as a highway, marine, railroad or aircraft marker or emergency warning light that may be dropped or otherwise deployed from a moving vehicle, if desired. The lantern will be described in connection with this particular use. Emergency warning lights of this general kind are not new, of course. For example, US. Pat. No. 3,128,951 discloses such a light. Other related lights are described in US. Pat. Nos. 1,503,006, 2,611,214, 3,323,117, and 3,588,490.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The lantern of the present invention has a housing with a base surface and is rotatable between an upright operating position wherein the base surface is lowermost for resting on a supporting surface and an inverted storage position. The housing mounts a lamp socket for receiving a light bulb and contains a battery compartment for receiving one or more batteries. Battery contacts in the battery compartment are connected to the lamp socket by an electrical circuit including a gravity operated switch. This switch closes to turn on the light bulb when the lantern is rotated to operating position and opens to turn off the bulb when the lantern is rotated to its inverted storage position.
According to a feature of the invention, the lantern housing has an impact resistant construction including a protective cage which encloses the lamp socket and bulb and is designed to be self righting so that the lantern may be dropped or otherwise deployed from a moving vehicle, such as a police car approaching the scene of an accident, to serve as an emergency warning light. The lantern may also be used as a railroad or aircraft marker or emergency light and may have a water tight construction including a transparent dome enclosing the lamp socket and bulb within the protective cap of the lantern housing to permit use of the lantern as a marine marker or emergency light which may be dropped from a boat.
When used in such a marker or emergency light, the lantern preferably emits a flashing light produced by a high intensity strobe light or the like. The lantern may also emit a constant light to permit use of the lantern as a lamp.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a side elevation of a gravity actuated, battery powered lantern according to the invention;
FIG. 2 is a top view of the lantern;
FIG. 3 is a bottom view of the lantern;
FIG. 4 is an enlarged section taken on line 4-4 in FIG. 2; and
FIG. 5 is a section taken on line 5-5 in FIG. 4.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT The lantern 10 illustrated in the drawings is designed for use primarily as a highway, marine, railroad or aircraft marker or emergency light, although it may be used for other purposes, such as marking hazards along a trail through a national forest. The lantern has a housing 12 including a base 14 at one end and a protective cage 16 at the other end. Base 14 has aspherically rounded base surface 18 whose center of curvature is located on the longitudinal axis of the housing. At the opposite side of the base is a face 19 normal to the housing axis.
Mounted on the housing 12 within the cage 16 is a lamp socket 20 for receiving a light bulb 22. Within the base 14 are battery compartments 24 for receiving batteries 26. A circuit 28 connects the batteries to the socket. This circuit includes contacts 30 in the battery compartments 24 for connection to the terminals of batteries 26 and a gravity operated switch 32 contained within a switch compartment 34 in the base 14. Switch 32 closes to complete a current path between the socket 20 and batteries 26 when the housing 12 is rotated to its upright operating position shown. In this position, the base surface 18 is lowermost for resting on a supporting surface. When the housing is rotated about a transverse axis to an inverted position, switch 32 opens to interrupt the current path. The lantern is stored in this inverted position when not in use.
Thus, when the lantern l0 occupies its upright operating position, switch 32 closes to light or turn on the light bulb 22. When the lantern is inverted to its storage position, the switch opens to turn off the bulb. The particular gravity operated switch shown is a mercury switch. However, other types of gravity operated switches may obviously be used in the lantern.
As noted earlier, the particular lantern 10 illustrated is designed for use as a highway, marine, railroad or aircraft marker or emergency warning light. The bulb 22 is a high intensity strobe lamp for emitting a high intensity flashing light. The energizing circuit 28 includes a flasher circuit for the strobe lamp, which flasher circuit is contained within a canister 36 mounting the lamp socket 20 at its upper end. The socket and lamp 22 are enclosed within a transparent enclosure 38 atop the canister.
The lower end of the circuit canister 36 is received within a space 40 in the housing base 14. The battery compartments 24, switch compartment 34, and canister space 40 open through the upper base face 19 to permit insertion and removal of the batteries 20, canister 36, and switch 32 into and from the base. Enclosing the upper end of the canister 36 as well as the lamp socket 20 and lamp 22 is a transparent dome or lens 42 which may be colored or clear. This dome and the cage 16 are removably attached to the housing base 14 to permit installation and removal of the batteries 26 and canister 36.
To this end, the cage 16 comprises struts 44 which arch over the dome 42 and are joined to one another above the dome. The lower ends of the struts are secured to an annular plate or ring 46 which is removably secured by bolts or screws 48 to the upper base face 19. This ring surrounds the base of the dome 42 and has an inner flange 50 which engages over a flange 52 at the lower end of the dome to secure the latter to the housing base 14. A gasket 50 is interposed between the ring 46 and dome flange 52 and the upper base face 19 to render the lantern water tight. Dome 42 has an internal shoulder 53 which seats against an external flange 54 on the canister 36 to hold the latter firmly in position. Ring 46 and gasket 50 overlie the battery compartments 24 and switch compartment 34 to retain the batteries and switch in these compartments.
The lantern is adapted to be thrown or dropped from a moving vehicle, such as a police car approaching an accident, to provide an emergency warning light. To this end the lantern is designed to be selfrighting to its operating position and has an impact resistant construction. Such impact resistant construction is achieved by making the housing 12 and dome 42 from high impact strength plastic or other suitable material. The lantern is made self righting by so designing the lantern that when it is fully assembled with the lamp 22, batteries 26 and canister 36, its center of gravity is located on the axis of the lantern housing 12, between the base surface 18 and the center of curvature of this surface. The housing base 14 is provided with coplanar lateral ribs 56 extending axially coextensively with base 14 and having edge surfaces generally tangent to the base surface 18 and normal to the housing axis. These ribs aid in retaining the lantern in upright operating position, and serve as anti-roll devices to minimize rolling of the lantern, as on a road surface after being dropped from a moving vehicle. Since the lantern is water tight, it may also be displayed from a boat. In this regard, it is significant to note that the lantern will have positive buoyancy so as to float in water.
While the particular lantern shown is designed for use as a flashing emergency light, the flashing lamp and circuit of the lantern may be replaced by a simple light bulb and energizing circuit for providing a steady or constant intensity light so as to permit use of the lantern as a portable lamp or the like.
1. A gravity actuated, battery powered lantern comprising:
a housing having a rounded base surface,
said housing being rotatable about a transverse axis between an operating position wherein said housing is upright with said base surface lowermost for resting on a supporting surface, and a storage position wherein said housing is inverted with said base surface uppermost,
a socket mounted on said housing for receiving a light bulb,
a battery compartment in said housing for containing battery means,
battery contacts in said compartment for connection to battery means in the compartment,
an electrical circuit connecting said contacts and socket including a gravity operated switch which closes to complete a current path between said contacts and socket when said housing is rotated to operating position and opens to interrupt said current path when said housing is rotated to storage position, the center of gravity of said lantern with a bulb in said socket and battery means in said compartment being located between said base surface and the center of curvature of said surface, whereby said lantern when placed on a supporting surface tends to right itself to its operating position,
diametrically opposed ribs on the lower end of said housing in a plane containing said center of curvature and having flat edge surfaces in a plane tangent to said rounded base surface and normal to the longitudinal axis of said housing, and
said rib surfaces extending to opposite sides of said axis and being adapted to rest on the supporting surface when said lantern occupies its operating position.
2. A lantern according to claim 1 wherein:
said ribs extend axially and provide axial edge surfaces to minimize rolling of the lantern when it is tossed upon a surface.
3. A lantern according to claim 1 wherein:
said housing includes a hollow base containing said battery comparment and having said base surface at one side and an end face at the opposite side through which said battery compartment opens, a retaining ring secured to said cage and seating against said face and overlying said battery compartment to retain battery means in said compartment, and means releasibly securing said plate to said base.
4. A lantern according to claim 3 wherein:
said lens extends through said ring and over said socket and has a flange extending under said ring, whereby said ring retains said lens in position.
5. A lantern according to claim 4 wherein:
said lantern includes a canister containing a major portion of said circuit,
said battery compartment opens through said face and receives one end of said canister, and
the other end of said canister extends through said ring and lens and mounts said socket.
6. A lantern according to claim 5 including:
sealing means sealing said lens to said base.
7. A lantern according to claim 5 wherein:
said ribs extend axially and have edge surfaces to minimize rolling of the lantern when it is tossed upon a surface.