|Publication number||US3858339 A|
|Publication date||Jan 7, 1975|
|Filing date||Mar 1, 1973|
|Priority date||Mar 1, 1973|
|Publication number||US 3858339 A, US 3858339A, US-A-3858339, US3858339 A, US3858339A|
|Inventors||Robert J Short|
|Original Assignee||Robert J Short|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (7), Referenced by (6), Classifications (5)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
[ 1 Jan.7, 1975 1 ANIMATED DISPLAY APPARATUS  Inventor: Robert .11. Short, 156 E. 117th St.,
Los Angeles, Calif. 90061 22 Filed: Mar. 1, 1973 21 Appl.No.:336,998
 US. Cl. 40/32, 40/96  Int. Cl. G091 11/28  Field of Search 40/32, 43, 48, 96, 96.5,
2,087,432 7/1937 I-Iebden.... 40/32 2,106,335 H1938 Allen 40/32 X 2,169,409 8/1939 Dey 1 40/96 2,266,724 12/1941 Goldberg 40/32 FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS Germany 40/32 Primary Examiner-Robert W. Michell Assistant ExaminerA. J. Heinz Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Charles H. Schwartz  ABSTRACT A display apparatus in which a flexible belt is movably mounted on rollers and carries a plurality of display characters which are positioned on a surface of the belt. A support member is positioned in supporting relation to the belt with the support member providing a slide member which slidably engages a flat surface of the belt to prevent its sagging due to the weight of the display characters mounted thereon and side members which restrain the belt from movement in a sideways direction. Guide means are also positioned relative to the belt for positioning the display characters in a display position relative to the belt surface on which they are supported.
4 Claims, 8 Drawing Figures tentefl Jan. 7, 1975 4 Sheets-Sheet 1 atent Jan. 7, 1975 4 Sheets-Sheet 2 Patented Jan. 7, 1975 3,858,339
4 Sheets-Sheet 5 II/I Patented Jan. 7, 1975 4 Sheets-Sheet 4 a z A r 1 ANIMATED DISPLAY APPARATUS Animated display devices are not broadly new and many such devices are shown in the prior patent literature. In this regard, reference is made to the following patents which disclose animated display devices:
US. Pat. Nos. 698,340; 877,360; 959,638; 1,686,359; 2,001,424; 2,730,826; 2,787,088, and 3,451,301.
As exemplified by the above-referenced patents, animated display devices which have been previously used have not provided adequate support for the belt member which carries the display characters for viewing. Thus, the belt will have a tendency to sag due to its weight, and also the weight of the display characters positioned on the belt surface. When this occurs, the display characters may not be properly positioned for viewing and the visual effect which the display characters are designed to create is diminished.
Another difficulty in animated display devices involves the maintaining of the display characters in a suitable position with respect to the belt surface for viewing. Since the movable belt is flexible, there will be a tendency for the display characters to tilt to one side or another with respect to the belt surface on which they are mounted. The tendency of the display characters to tilt with respect to the belt surface will increase as the belt becomes worn, or when the display characters are displaced to one side or another during storage of the display apparatus.
The display apparatus of the present invention has solved the aforementioned problems by providing an apparatus in which a flexible belt movably mounted on rollers has a plurality of display characters positioned on a surface of the belt while a support member is positioned in supporting relation to the belt to prevent its sagging. The support member includes a slide member which slidably engages a surface of the belt and side members which restrain the belt from movement in a sideways direction. Guide means are positioned relative to the belt for positioning the display characters with respect to the belt surface on which they are supported to place the display characters in the proper position for viewing.
The belt which is employed in the display apparatus may be a continuous belt in which the display characters are moved in their display positions while being supported on the surface of the belt. As the display characters are moved to their return positions, they may depend downwardly from the belt. During movement of the display characters in their display positions, the slide member engages the undersurface of the belt and the display characters may each include a foot through which the individual display character is affixed to the belt. The guide means for positioning the display characters may include a slot which is positioned adjacent the upper surface of the belt when the display characters are in a display position. The feet on the display characters may then extend through the slot such that the characters are supported in proper display position through contact of the slot with the feet connecting the display characters to the belt.
As the movable belt passes over a roller, the guide means may include a converging section positioned adjacent the roller through which the display characters are inverted from their return positions to their display positions. The converging section of the guide means may then lead smoothly to the slot so that the feet on the display characters are contacted by the converging section and guided smoothly into the slot.
In driving the movable belt, the belt may pass over a drive roller and an idler roller. The display characters are preferably advanced toward the drive roller through movement of the belt with the display characters supported in a display position. After passing over the drive roller, the display characters may be moved in a direction away from the drive roller with the display characters then being in their return position during their return from the drive roller to the idler roller. As the display characters are inverted through passage of the movable belt over the idler roller, the converging section of the guide means, as described previously, engages the feet of the display characters to smoothly position the display characters in their desired viewing position as they are inverted from their return position to their display position.
The animated display apparatus may include adjustable support means so that the movable belt may be positioned for movement in a substantially horizontal direction or in a vertically inclined direction. When used in a vertically inclined direction, the drive roller is preferably positioned at a higher elevation than the idler roller. The display apparatus may be used, for example, to depict Santa Clause and his reindeer moving in a direction that is inclined upwardly toward a chimney with the display characters creating the illusion of vanishing into the chimney. In one aspect of the invention, the display apparatus may include a chimney facade with a cut-out portion to further the illusion of the display characters vanishing into the chimney. Also, the display apparatus may include upper support means so that the display apparatus may be: mounted on a roof and supported at its upper end with respect to a chimney.
In illustrating a preferred embodiment of the invention, reference is made to the accompanying drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is a side elevational view, partly broken away, to illustrate the overall appearance of a display apparatus in which display characters representing Santa Clause and his reindeer are moved in a vertically inclined direction into a chimney facade;
FIG. 2 is an enlarged broken side elevational view, illustrating belt support means and rollers through which the belt is moved and supported with the display characters in a display position;
FIG. 3 is a top view along the lines III-Ill of FIG. 2, illustrating the placement of the idler roller with respect to a converging section of the guide means to smoothly guide the display characters into a proper display position after their inversion through passage of the belt over the idler roller;
FIG. 4 is a top view taken along the lines lV-IV of FIG. 2 illustrating the position of a drive roller and motor with respect to the support means for the flexible belt;
FIG. 5 is a vertical sectional view taken along the lines V-V of FIG. 2 which illustrates the component parts of the support means for the movable belt;
FIG. 6 is a fragmentary top view illustrating the positioning of the display apparatus with respect to a chimney;
FIG. 7 is a side elevational view of the display apparatus of FIG. 6 taken along the lines VIl-VII and FIG. 8 is a side elevational view illustrating the positioning of the display apparatus in a horizontal position with the display apparatus positioned on adjustable supports whose height may be varied to vary the direction of movement of the flexible belt and the movement of the display characters.
As shown in FIG. 1, a movable display apparatus 2 includes an endless flexible belt 4 having display characters 5 mounted on a surface thereof. The display characters 5, depicted as Santa Clause and his reindeer, together with letters which spell out a holiday greeting, and the belt 4, are supported by a belt support generally indicated by reference numeral 6.
The belt 4 passes over a drive roller 8 and an idler roller 10 with the drive roller. being positioned at a higher elevation than the idler roller when the belt support 6 is positioned in a direction that is inclined vertically. A chimney facade 12 provides support for the upper end of the belt support 6 and includes a cut-out portion 14. As the display characters 5 are inverted through passage of the belt 4 over the drive roller 8, the display characters pass through the cut-out portion 14 during their return to the idler roller 10. As shown, the display characters 5 are positioned in a display position during their movement from the idler roller 10 to the drive roller 8 and are inverted to a return position during their movement from the drive roller 8 to the idler roller 10. A curtain 18 may be utilized to block the view of the display characters 5 when they are in their return position during movement back to the idler roller 10.
A support member 16 connected to the belt support 6 at its lower end provides a cut-out portion or opening 19 and a cut-out portion 22. The cut-out portions 19 and 22 provide space for movement of the display characters 5 with respect to the support member 16 during passage of the belt 4 over the idler roller 10. A plurality of lights may be mounted on the belt support 6 adjacent the path of movement of the display characters 5 to illuminate the display characters when they are in their display position.
As shown in FIGS. 2 and 5, the belt support 6 is composed of two side members 24 which are joined to a slide member 26 in contact with the belt 4. As illustrated, the side members 24 and slide member 26 may be an integral U-shaped structure. Also, of course, the side members 24 may be made separately and joined to the slide member 26 in a conventional manner. A longitudinal brace 28 positioned beneath the slide member 26 provides support for the slide member and may be joined to the slide member by any suitable means such as the use of screws 30.
Aguide member 32 overlies the belt support 6 and may be joined thereto by screws 36. A longitudinal guide slot 34 is defined in the guide member 32 with the display characters 5 connected to the belt 4 through feet 38 which pass through slot 34. The proximity of the slot 34 with respect to the feet 38 maintains the display characters 5 in a predetermined position with respect to the belt 4 when the characters are in their display position. This provides a consistent visual effect through uniform positioning of the display characters in a desired display position.
As shown in FIG. 5, the lights 20 are held in sockets 21 which may be uniformly spaced along the guide member 32. A pair of grooves 23 are positioned beneath the sockets 21 with wires 25 positioned in the grooves to provide electrical current to the lights 20.
With reference to FIG. 2, a pair of end braces 42 are positioned at one end of the belt support 6 and are attached to the belt support by any suitable means such as screws 43. A motor 44 may be positioned on one of the braces 42 with a shaft 46 supported between the end braces. The drive roller 8 is supported on the shaft 46 and may be rotated by the motor 44 to cause continuous movement of the belt 4. Wires 48 which lead to the motor 44 may be used to supply power to the motor. At the lower end of the inclined belt support 6, the idler roller 10 is supported on a shaft 50 positioned between the side members 24. To provide room for the roller 10, a slotted opening 58 may be cut in the slide member 26.
FIG. 3, which is a top view taken along lines III-III of FIG. 2, illustrates the position of the idler roller 10 within the slotted opening 58. The guide member 32 includes a converging section in the form of a pair of converging guide surfaces 52 which merge into the guide slot 34. The shaft 50 passes through holes 54 in side members 24 and the shaft is supported on bearings 56 mounted in the side members. As the display characters 5 are inverted to their display position during passage of the belt 4 over the idler roller 10, the feet 38 may encounter the converging guide surfaces 52. Contact of the surfaces 52 with the feet 38 moves the display characters to a substantially vertical position with respect to the belt 4. Since the guide surfaces 52 converge gradually in merging into the guide slot 34, the positioning of the feet 38 is gradual to not impose any undue stress on the feet.
FIG. 4, which is a top view along the lines IV-IV of FIG. 2, illustrates the position of the drive roller 8 between the end braces 42. The drive roller 8 is supported on a shaft 46 within holes 60 and 62 in the end braces 42. A pair of side plates 64 may be positioned on either side of the roller 8 to retain the belt 4 on the roller and a lock nut 66 or similar fastening device may be secured to the end of the shaft 46 to retain the shaft within the holes 60 and 62.
As shown, the wires 25 which lead to the lights 20 may include an intermittent switch 68 to intermittently disrupt the flow of electricity for the lights. This will produce an on-and-off flashing effect which may be desirable in illuminating the moving display characters 5. The lights 20 may, if desired, include a make-and-break switching element to periodically turn on and off. In this event, the intermittent switch 68 may be eliminated. The motor 44 may be supported with motor supports 70 mounted on one of the end braces 42.
In using the movable display apparatus of the invention, the apparatus may be positioned on a roof and supported by an actual chimney. Such an arrangement is shown in a fragmentary top view in FIG. 6. As illustrated, a pair of diverging support elements 74 may be connected to the end braces 42 with the diverging support elements 74 connected into an opening 73 in a chimney 72.
Referring to FIG. 7 which is a view taken along the lines VII-VII of FIG. 6, the diverging support elements 74 may each be formed with a hook 76 which extends over the top of the chimney 72. The length and spacing of the support elements 74 provide a space 78 through which the display characters 5 may pass as the belt 4 passes over the drive roller 8.
As shown in FIG. 8, the movable display apparatus 2 may be mounted in a horizontal plane with the belt support 6 connected at its ends to adjustable supports 80. The height of the adjustable supports may be varied in any suitable manner such as by employing feet 84 having a threaded shank 86 which engages an internally threaded boss 88 within the body of support 80. On rotation of the feet 80, they may be extended or contracted to vary the position of the apparatus 2 with respect to a surface 82.
1. A display apparatus comprising:
a flexible continuous belt having a long dimension and a short dimension which is positioned transversely to said long dimension;
said belt being flexible in both its long dimension and short dimension and said belt being movably mounted on a drive roller and an idler roller for movement along said long dimension;
a plurality of display characters supported in an upstanding display position on a surface of said belt for movement with said belt;
a support member positioned in supporting relation to said belt, said support member having a slide member which slidably engages a surface of said belt to prevent sagging of said belt and side members which restrain said belt from movement in a direction transverse to said long dimension;
said display characters each including a foot which is affixed to a surface of said belt;
guide means positioned adjacent said belt and said rollers, said guide means including a slot having a width which is less than said short dimension with said slot positioned to contact said foot of each of said display characters in supporting the display characters in an upright position relative to the belt surface;
said display characters being inverted from a return position in which said characters depend downwardly from the belt surface to said display position as said belt passes over said idler roller; and
said guide means including converging surfaces p0sitioned adjacent said belt and said idler roller with said converging surfaces leading to said slot and said converging surfaces positioned for contact with said feet of said display characters in guiding the display characters to an upright display position within said slot as said belt passes over said idler roller.
2. The display apparatus of claim 1 including adjustable support means for positioning said movable belt and said belt support member.
3. The display apparatus of claim 2 including:
a chimney facade having a cut-out portion, and said belt and said support member mounted in a vertically inclined position on said chimney facade with said drive roller adjacent said cut-out portion,
whereby the display characters appear to enter the chimney facade by passing through the cut-out portion as the belt passes over the drive roller.
4. The display apparatus of claim 1 including:
a plurality of lights affixed to said support member with said lights positioned to illuminate said display characters as they are moved in said display position on said belt.
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|U.S. Classification||40/472, 40/411|