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Publication numberUS3873969 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateMar 25, 1975
Filing dateAug 2, 1971
Priority dateOct 2, 1970
Publication numberUS 3873969 A, US 3873969A, US-A-3873969, US3873969 A, US3873969A
InventorsJames S Gould, Samuel Gould
Original AssigneeIndicator Controls Corp
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Adapter unit for pedestrian traffic control signal
US 3873969 A
Abstract
An adapter unit which may be easily and quickly fitted into existing pedestrian traffic control signals to adapt such signals to an assembly in which the luminous gaseous tube signal elements are mounted in an enclosed module which, in turn, is supported within the original housing of the signal. The adapter unit includes a signal illuminating capsule having a tray-like configuration with illuminating tubes mounted therein, and having electrodes extending from the rear side of the capsule. The adapter unit further includes a support bracket which defines sockets for the electrodes and which is fitted into the casing of the signal. These sockets are connected to the transformers within the casing.
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fite States Patent 1191 Gould et al.

[11] 3,873,969 Mar. 25, 1975 ADAPTER UNIT FOR PEDESTRIAN TRAFFIC CONTROL SIGNAL [75] Inventors: Samuel Gould, Los Angeles; James S. Gould, Los Alamitos, both of 21 Appl. No.: 168,011

Related US. Application Data [63] Continuation-impart of Ser. No. 77,654, Oct. 2,

1970, abandoned.

[52] US. Cl. 340/107, 340/366 E, 339/4, 340/44 [51] Int. Cl G08g l/OO [58] Field of Search... 340/107, 44, 105,50, 366 E; 339/4 [56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,813,759 7/1931 Peters 40/130 2,141,243 12/1938 Godchaux et al 340/50 2,793,356 5/1957 Hart 340/107 3,085,224 4/1963 Becka 340/107 3,101,177 8/1963 Loomis et a1 240/11.4

Primary Examiner.lohn W. Caldwell Assistant ExaminerWilliam M. Wannisky Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Jessup & Beecher [57] ABSTRACT An adapter unit which may be easily and quickly fitted into existing pedestrian traffic control signals to adapt such signals to an assembly in which the luminous gaseous tube signal elements are mounted in an enclosed module which, in turn, is supported within the original housing of the signal. The adapter unit includes a signal illuminating capsule having a tray-like configuration with illuminating tubes mounted therein, and having electrodes extending from the rear side of the capsule. The adapter unit further includes a support bracket which defines sockets for the electrodes and which is fitted into the casing of the signal. These sockets are connected to the transformers within the casing.

2 Claims, 11 Drawing Figures PATENTEDKAR25|975 H 3.873.969

sum1n 5 JrraRA JH l ADAPTER UNIT FOR PEDESTRIAN TRAFFIC CONTROL SIGNAL This application is a continuation-in-part of Copending Application Ser. No. 77,654 which was filed Oct. 2, I970, in the names of the present inventors and now abandoned.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION Pedestrian traffic control signals are provided at many crosswalks of the busier street intersections in order to direct pedestrian traffic, and to reduce pedestrian accidents. The National Safety Council originally approved a type of pedestrian traffic control signal which is energized alternately to display the word WALK in green, and the words DONT WALK in red. The recent trend of pedestrian traffic signals, however, due to Federal standardization, is to depart from the indications of DONT WALK in red and WALK in green, and to adopt DONT WALK in Portland orange and WALK in lunar white. The reasoning behind this particular Federal standard is that red and especially green pedestrian signals conflict with vehicular traffic signals and thus contsitute a danger because of potential motorists confusion and misinterpretation. Signals of both types are presently in widespread use.

The aforesaid words WALK and DONT WALK are formed in the usual prior art type of pedestrian traffic control signal by neon or other gaseous illumination tubes which are energized at relatively high voltage by transformers mounted within the casing or housing of the individual pedestrial control signals. The usual prior art pedestrian traffic control units of the foregoing type have presented prbolems, both from a maintenance standpoint in the replacement of the gaseous illumination tubes, and from the standpoint of shortcircuiting due to corona effects as the high voltage leads within the case absorb moisture and create discharge paths to the casing wall.

The present invention provides an improved type of adapter unit which may be readily fitted into the housing of existing pedestrian control signals of the general type described above. The adapter unit of the invention, in one embodiment, comprises a support bracket which fits over the transformers within the housing, and which is held in a press-fit within the housing so that there is no need for holes to be drilled, or for screws or bolts to be used in the mounting of the adapter unit. The adapter unit of the aforesaid embodiment also includes a socket support which is affixed to the aforesaid bracket, and which includes a plurality of electrical sockets mounted on the support. The high voltage windings of the transformers in the casing are connected by relatively short leads to the sockets, and these leads may be spaced at relatively large distances away from the walls of the housing so that there is no chance of corona effects occurring.

In a second embodiment of the adapter unit of the invention, instead of wiring the high tension leads from the transformers in the original signal housing to sockets mounted on the frame and then plugging in the module, as is the case with the first embodiment, the transformers are wired directly to the module. The module of the second embodiment is not a plug-in type, but may be installed more easily than the units of the previous embodiment. The module of the second embodiment is preferably configured so that it slides into the original signal housing, and at the same time activates an interlock on the transformer primary to prevent the generation of high voltage by the transformer until the module is properly in place.

The gaseous illumination tube used in the adapter unit of the invention may be encased in an individual capsule or module, of the type disclosed and claimed, for example, in US. Pat. No. 3,564,495 which issued Feb. 15, 1971, in the names of the present inventors. As described in the patent, and as will be described in some detail herein, the individual illumination tubes are supported within the module by adhesive means for supporting the illumination tubes both on the base of the module, and in the case of the WALK tube, directly on top of a grid tube. An appropriate adhesive is used which remains flexible even after curing, and thereby provides for mechanical shock isolation, and also is advantageous in attaching together the materials of the glass tubes and the metal modules which have dissimilar temperature coefficients.

As also described in the patent, the use of adhesive in mounting the illumination tubes provides a rapid means of assembly as compared with the prior art use of multiple individual tie wires or pre-formed nonmetallic bridges and supports. This adhesive mounting also allows for greater individual part tolerances in that variations in part surfaces at interfaces are adequately filled on application of adhesive during its fluid state. A further advantage in the use of the adhesive is that the support is made to conform to the natural state of the illumination tube, thus significantly reducing the strain imparted to the tube when mounted as compared to the prior art techniques.

The enclosed module used in the unit described in the aforesaid patent, and in the adapter unit of the present invention serves a dual function. When it is installed in the pedestrian signal, it serves as a support for the neon tubing and provides the features described herein and in the patent. During shipping, it also serves as a package for the neon tubing, obviating the prior art requirement of special packaging and special handling, since the module itself requires only minimal packaging and is not susceptiable to damage during shipment.

Another advantage in the use of the module for the illumination tubes, is that satisfactory operation of any neon tube containing mercury (which is the case with the green or lunar white colors) may only be obtained when the mercury reaches a minimum operating temperature sufficient to cause vaporization. The exact temperature is dependent upon the performance desired, but lies in the range of from 65 F. to l00 F. The prior art units depended upon electrode heating through bombardment which proved to be unsatisfactory for the traffic industry as the green, or lunar white, indication is only on for a very small percentage of the time, probably less than 10%. With the module described in the patent, and used in the adapter unit of the present invention, the green (or lunar white) tube is placed in direct contact with the red tube which is energized most of the time, and hence is pre-heated. In addition, all the illumination tubes are encased in a totally enclosed cavity, so that the heat generated by the red tube, for example, is trapped and serves to raise the ambient temperature insofar as the other tubes are concerned.

When the prior art pedestrian control signals have -been modified so as to incorporate the adapter unit of the present invention, servicing is simplified. Specifically, whenever one of the gaseous illuminating tubes burns out, it is merely necessary to remove the aforesaid module and replace it with an operative module. The defective module may then be returned to the shop for necessary repairs. In addition, there is no tendency whatever for the high voltage electrical connections in the adapter unit to create short circuits, as is the case with the usual prior art pedestrian control signals.

A feature of the invention is that the adapter unit may be easily installed in existing pedestrial control signals with a minimum of effort, and with a minimum of expense. When so installed, the signal is no longer susceptible to corona effects. The adapter units themselves, moreover, are simple and relatively inexpensive in their construction.

The structure of the invention simplifies the maintenance of the pedestrian traffic control signals, and it also eliminates theneed for relatively long high voltage leads between the transformers in the signal housing and the luminous signal elements, which leads are subject to moisture absorption and resulting corona effects.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a perspective representation of a typical prior art pedestrian traffic control signal of the type under consideration;

FIG. 2 is a further perspective representation of the prior art pedestrian traffic control signal of FIG. 1, and with the housing or casing in an open condition to reveal the internal operating components;

FIG. 3 is a plan view of the casing of FIG. 2, and with an adapter unit constructed in accordance with one embodiment of the invention mounted in place in the casing;

FIG. 4 is a side view of the adapter unit of FIG. 3 taken along the line 4-4 of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a front view of a module which contains the gas illumination tubes, and which is constructed to be plugged into a socket supported by the adapter unit of FIGS. 3 and 4;

FIG. 6 is a side view of the unit of FIG. 5, taken along the line 66 of FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a diffusing screen and mask which is positioned over the front face of the capsule or module of FIG. 5; I FIG. 8 is a perspective view, like FIG. 1, ofa prior ar pedestrian traffic control signal;

FIG. 9 is a section along the line 99 of FIG. 8; FIG. 10 is a representation of a packaged neon installation which may be used in the adapter unit described above, and which has general application; and

FIG. 11 is yet a further modification.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE ILLUSTRATED EMBODIMENT The prior art pedestrian traffic control signal illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2 is designated generally as 10. The signal unit 10 includes a casing 12 in which a pair of transformers l4 and 16 are mounted. The casing 12 is supported, for example, on a pole 18 by means of a C-shaped bracket 19 mounted on the pole.

The gaseous electrically energized illumination tubes of the prior art unit of FIGS. 1 and 2 are mounted, for example, in support trays 20 and 22. The support trays are mounted in a frame-like cover 24. The cover 24 is hinged to the casing 12 by means, for example, of appropriate hinges 26. The illuminating tubes in the tray are connected to the transformers 14 and l6 by respective leads 28 and 30. The arrangement is such that when the transformer 14 is energized, a high voltage appears on the leads 28 to energize red neon tubes in both the trays 20 and 22 so that the words DONT WALK may be illuminated in red; and when the transformer 16 is energized, a high voltage appears across the leads 30 to energize green illumination tubes in the tray 22 so that the word WALK may be illuminated in green.

As may be observed from the view of FIG. 2. the high voltage leads 28 and 30 are relatively long, and tend to rub against each other and against the walls of the frame 24 and casing 12. It is impossible to prevent some moisture from being absorbed into the interior of the casing 12 andinto the insulation of the leads 28 and 30. This causes the prior art units to be subject to corona effects which serve to short-circuit and damage the transformers. Also, the prior art unit is difficult to service, since the trays 20 and 22 must be disassembled from the unit, and the individual burned-out tubes removed, all of which creates a likelihood of inadvertent tube breakage, as well as creating a time consuming and somewhat arduous operation, merely to replace a burned-out tube.

In the prior art unit, the frame 24 may be held closed by appropriate screws 32 which are threaded into holes 34 formed in appropriate flanges on the frame. A water-tight gasket is usually incorporated between the frame and housing, so as to lessen the susceptibility of the unit to moisture absorption. A sun shade 36 may be attached to the frame 24 as shown.

The adapter unit of the first embodiment of the present invention as shown in FIGS. 3 and 4 includes a bracket which, in turn, comprises a pair of resilient U- shaped metal or plastic strips 50 which extends laterally across the casing 12 and which may be pressed into place against the transformers 14 and 16. The strips 50 resiliently engage the inner surface of the wall of the casing 12 so as to hold the unit in place in the casing. Likewise, a pair of resilient cross strips 52 of any appropriate material are welded or otherwise affixed to the strips 50 to constitute the support bracket for the unit, the strips 52 extending vertically across the casing 12 and resiliently engaging the end walls of the casing. The U-shaped strips 50 and 52 may be provided, for example, with resilient members 54 at their tips to provide a more positive engagement between the bracket and the inner walls of the casing 12.

An electric socket support member 60 is mounted on the brackets 50, and a plurality of electrical sockets 62 are mounted on the support 60. The sockets 62 have lower portions which form insulating casings 62a for' the terminals 621) of the sockets, the leads 28 and 30 being severed close to the transformers 14 and I6, and connected to the respective terminals 62h.

It will be appreciated that in order to modify the prior art unit of FIG. 2 so as to incorporate the adapter of FIGS. 3 and 4, it is merely necessary to cut the leads 28 and 30; to slip in the adapter unit; and to connect the short remaining portions of the leads 28 and 30 to the terminals 62b of the various sockets 62. The prior art gaseous illumination tubes and their support trays are removed from the frame 24, and the capsule or module of FIGS. 5 and 6 is plugged into the sockets 62 to extend over the face of housing in FIG. 3. The frame 24 is then closed and fastened. The modified signal is now ready for operation.

As mentioned above, the capsule, or module, of FIGS. 5, 6 and 7 may be generally similar to the capsule described in the aforementioned patent. As shown, the capsule includes a tray 102 composed, for example, of appropriate high dielectric plastic material. A partition 104 (FIG. 5) formed of plastic or other suitable material extends across the front of the tray dividing it into an upper and lower region. A first illuminating tube 106 is supported in the tray 102 by cementing it, for example, to the bottom of the tray by means of silicone cement, such as made and sold by General Electric or Dow Corning. One electrode of the first neon tube is connected to one of the electrodes 108 which, as shown in FIG. 6, extend from the bottom of the tray and which are positioned so as to be received in the sockets 62 when the tray is plugged into the adapter unit of FIG. 3. These electrodes 108 serve to make electrical connections between the transformers 14, 16 and the illumination tubes in the tray.

The first gaseous illumination tube 106 is formed to approximate the word DONT in the upper region of the tray 102. A second illumination tube 110 is connected to the first tube through a usual connector 112. The second tube 110 has a coiled configuration and is cemented to the bottom of the lower region of the tray 102. The tube 110 is connected to a second of the electrodes 108 so that when the two electrodes 108 referred to above are energized, the tubes 106 and 110 glow. These tubes may be the usual neon tubes, and glow with a red illumination when they are so energized. A third illumination tube 114 is positioned in the lower portion of the tray 102 on top of the tube 110, and the latter tube is connected to the remaining two electrodes 108. When the later electrodes are energized, the tube 114 glows, and this tube is constructed to glow, for example, in a green color. The tube 114 is configured to approximate the word WALK. It may be supported on the neon tube 110 by appropriate silicone rubber cement.

The face plate for the unit is shown in FIG. 7 and is designated 116. This face plate may be formed as a usual diffusion mask, and it also may be selectively masked, for example, by black paint on its rear surface, the black paint being stenciled so that the words DONT and WALK appear one above each other as transparent portions of the face plate 116. The face plate may be formed of an appropriate transparent plastic material, and its front surface may be appropriately beaded for light diffusion purposes. The face plate 116 is mounted in place over the front of the tray 112 in FIG. 5 and within a channel formed by the rim of the tray.

The face plate 116 normally serves as a lens with a series of prisms which are employed to concentrate the light from the illuminating tubes into spots. At a distance, these spots blend together with amplified light level, thus increasing the visibility distance. The face plate is usually formed of an acrylic plastic material. However, it may be replaced with a smooth fiberglass lens. The latter results in a slight degradation of light output, but is a much more sturdy lens mechanically and environmentally, and more impervious to vandalism.

The entire illumination unit of the first embodiment of the invention, as described in conjunction with FIGS. 5, 6 and 7, is in the form of a capsule, and is inv for installation purposes, and to be unplugged from the socket for replacement purposes. Therefore, with this embodiment there is no need for the service man to replace the individual illuminating tubes, and there is no likelihood of breakage of the tubes as the unit is being serviced.

FIG. 8 represents a further prior art pedestrian signal crossing unit, similar to the prior art unit described in conjunction with FIGS. 1 and 2. In the unit of FIG. 8, the illuminating tubes are mounted in the support trays 20 and 22, such as shown in the sectional representation of FIG. 9, with terminal connections being made to the individual tubes through terminals 6 which are mounted on the ends of glass housings 2, the glass housing protruding through holes in the bottom of the support trays 20 and 22. As shown in FIG. 9, it is usual to mount the neon tubes 3 on support bridges 4 within the trays 20 and 22, and to hold the neon tubes firmly on the bridge supports by tie wires 7. The end of the neon tube 3 extends at right angles down into the glass housing 2, and a connection is made between the high tension terminal 6 and the electrode within the tube 3 by an assembly including a spring 5.

The prior art embodiment of FIGS. 8 and 9 permits replacements to be made by disconnecting the high voltage leads 28 and 30 from the high tension terminal 6, and by removing the neon tubes 3, after tie wires 7 have been removed. However, the prior art units, as shown in FIGS. 9 and 10, have several drawbacks. In the first place, the tubes 3 are difficult to ship because of their right-angled configuration, and a large percentage of the tubes become broken in transit, in spite of excessive care being taken in the packaging thereof.

In accordance with a second embodiment of the invention, and as shown in FIG. 10, the neon tube 3, the bridge supports 4, the tie wires 7, and the glass housing 2 of the prior art are replaced by a simple package which includes a tray 8 which is preferably formed of a plastic material and which is shaped, as shown, to provide the bridge supports 4, as well as to replace the glass housing 2. The neon tube 3 is adhesively attached to the tray 8 by means, for example, of adhesive bonds 10, and the electrode in the tube 3 is electrically connected to a high tension terminal 6a as shown.

With the embodiment of FIG. 10, the neon tube 3 is shipped in its tray 8, in an enclosed and protected condition. The resulting assembly can be placed into the standard prior art unit of FIGS. 8 and 9, merely by removing the glass housings 2, the support bridges 4, and slipping the entire package into the original support trays 20 or 22.

A still further embodiment is shown in FIGv 11, in which a package, similar to the package of FIG. 10 may be supported in each of the support trays 20 and 22. However, in the latter embodiment, a pair of plug-like electrodes 204 extend through one end of each of the trays 20 and 22, whereas a pair of spring contacts 200 extend from the other end of each of the trays. The spring contacts 200 engage corresponding button contact 202 when the housing is closed to complete the high tension circuits from the transformers to the illuminating tubes. The plug contacts 204 are received in sockets 206 in each of the transformers 14 and 16. Each pair of the plug contacts 204 is bridged, so that when the pair is received by a corresponding pair of sockets 206, a connection is made which, for example,

establishes primary current to the respective transformers. This provides an interlock, so that whenever the housing is opened, a primary current is first disconnected from the transformers, so that the assembly is fully de-energized. in each instance, the low tension primary current is broken prior to the breaking of the high tension contacts, so that are discharge is minimized.

As mentioned above, the improved adapter units of the invention require relatively short high tension connections which connect the transformer secondary to the neon tubes, and which replace the relatively long high tension leads of the prior art. In the prior art units, the location of the high tension leads is adjacent to ground points and other leads, so that it is necessary to employ a thick, high quality insulation to prevent electrical leakagge. Moreover, despite such insulation, sonner or later moisture and dirt are encountered, and the insulation degrades in the prior art units creating both electrical leakage and corona discharge. The effects are cumulative, and often result in the leakage becom ing sufficiently large in magnitude so that heat is generated which frequently burns out the connnections in the prior art units.

The aforesaid effects are obviated by the adapter units described above, in that extremely short high tension connections are provi-ed between the transformer and the neon tubes, and by the positive routing of the high tension connections away from one another and away from the ground points. As a result of the improved structure of the invention, leakage and corona problems are reduced to inconsequential levels.

Moreover, the improved structure shown, for example, in FIG. 10 also serves as a protective package for the neon illumination tubes during shipment thereof.

The invention provides, therefore, improved adapter units for pedestrian traffic control signals which are relatively simple and inexpensive in their construction, and which may be easily installed in existing pedestrian traffic control signals. As described, the adapter units of the invention not only facilitate the shipment of the neon tubes, but also eliminate the cols of insulated high voltage leads within the housing of the pedestrian traffic control signal unit so that corona effects and short circuiting of the transformers is prevented. The adapter units of the invention also permit the illumination tubes to be enclosed in capsules which may be plugged into, or otherwise connected to the circuits of the pedestrian traffic control signals, as described above.

it will be appreciated that although particular embodiments of the invention have been shown and de scribed, modifications may be made, and it is intended in the claims to cover all modifications which fall within the spirit and scope of the invention.

What is claimed is:

1. in combination: a pedestrian traffic control signal including a casing, and at least one transformer mounted in said casing; a signal illuminating capsule having a tray-like configuration extending across the face of the casing, said capsule having illuminating tubes mounted therein, and having electrodes extending therefrom to establish electrical connection with said transformer; support bracket means received in said casing over the top of said transformer, electrical socket means mounted on said support bracket means and electrically connected to said transformer, said electrodes of said signal illuminating capsule being removably received in said socket means to establish electrical connection with said transformer and also to support said capsule in position across said casing.

2. The adapter unit defined in claim 1, in which said support bracket means includes a first pair of U-shaped resilient strip members adapted to extend horizontally across said casing in press-fit with the inner wall thereof; and a further pair of U-shaped strip members adapted to extend vertically across said casing in pressfit with the inner wall thereof.

* l =l l l

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US1813759 *Jul 14, 1928Jul 7, 1931Color Ray Holding CorpLuminous tube
US2141243 *Oct 22, 1937Dec 27, 1938Richard C LuhmanSignal
US2793356 *Jul 21, 1955May 21, 1957Winko Matic Signal CompanyPedestrian control signal
US3085224 *Apr 4, 1960Apr 9, 1963Paul N BeckaSignal construction
US3101177 *Apr 20, 1961Aug 20, 1963Econolite CorpTubular light grid assembly
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4019170 *Dec 10, 1975Apr 19, 1977Indicator Controls CorporationAdapter unit for pedestrian traffic control signal
US4796886 *Jul 7, 1986Jan 10, 1989Loh George AHome tennis practice apparatus
US6160495 *Jan 4, 1999Dec 12, 2000Demco Technologies, Inc.Device for presenting multiple illuminated messages and a method for making same
Classifications
U.S. Classification340/944, 340/815.73, 439/31
International ClassificationG08G1/005, F21S8/00
Cooperative ClassificationG08G1/005, F21W2111/02
European ClassificationG08G1/005
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