US 3874325 A
A search and recovery device includes a deflated balloon, a pressure cartridge enveloped by the deflated balloon and containing under pressure a gas which is normally lighter than air, a gas-release means in the cartridge, an actuator means enveloped by the deflated balloon and arranged in a position relative to the cartridge to actuate said gas-release means, and hammer means outside said balloon arranged to apply force through said balloon to said actuator means, causing release of gas within the balloon. The type and amount of gas contained in the cartridge is sufficient to lift the balloon by buoyance in air even with the cartridge and the actuator means carried in the balloon.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent 1191 Cocker, III Apr. 1, 1975 1 1 SEARCH AND RECOVERY DEVICE 3,461,835 8/1969 COCkblll et a1 116/124 B Inventor: J Cocker, PO. BOX 3,746,285 7/1973 Mango 9/316 7 Clover "9710 Primary Examiner-Rmhard C. Quelsser  Filed: Dec. 13, 1973 Assistant Examiner-Dar1iel M. Yasich  Appl. No.: 424,451 ABSTRACT A search and recovery device includes a deflated bal-  116/124 9/316 gfik loon, a pressure cartridge enveloped by the deflated balloon and containing under pressure a gas which is  Int. Cl. G09f 9/00, B64b1/62 normally lighter than air, a gas release means in the  Field of Search 116/124 B, D916. 9, 9/9, cartridge, an actuator means enveloped by the 340 flated balloon and arranged in a position relative to S f the cartridge to actuate said gas-release means, and 6] Re erences C'ted hammer means outside said balloon arranged to apply UNITED STATES PATENTS force through said balloon to said actuator means, 1,670,591 5/1928 Merifield 9/316 causing release of gas within the balloon. The type and 2,084,636 6/1937 Fromm 9/340 amount of gas contained in the cartridge is sufficient 2,149,616 3/1939 McGuire 116/124 B to lift the balloon by buoyance in air even with the 1687,54] 8/1954 Bannlster 9/316 X Cartridge d h actuator means Carried i the 3,152,344 10/1964 Radnofsky ct a1. 9/316 100 3,187,712 6/1965 Pritchard et a1. 116/124 B 3,381,655 5/1968 Rozzelle 116/124 B 6 Claims, 3 Drawing Figures SEARCH AND RECOVERY DEVICE BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION This invention relates to a search and recovery device which can be used for life jackets. life rafts, or boats or ships at sea. or in any other situation where it is desirable to send up into the air a device which can be detected visually or by radar or the like in the course of a search mission.
In accordance with this invention. a balloon is sent up into the air, preferably covered with aluminium oxide or some other type of metallic coating, in order to provide a good radar target and to extend considerably the range of pick up of radar when it is used in a search mission.
DISCUSSION OF THE PRIOR ART There are already devices on the market which may be worn on the body or on the wrist. or attached to a life jacket or life raft. for example, and which. when triggered. fills a small plastic balloon with air from a small charging bottle of the type usually used for making carbonated water with carbon dioxide. However. in such devices. special means are required for puncturing the CO -type cartridge. for transferring the gas into the balloon, and then for sealing the balloon and sending it up into the air.
Various devices have been shown in the prior art for automatically inflating non-buoyant articles such as life belts. for example. The US. Pat. No. 2.084.636 to Fromm discloses a life belt in which a lever-actuated means moves a pin forward to pierce a gas cartridge and thereby inflate the belt. Also. various devices have been disclosed for inflating signal balloons or the like. The U.S. Pat. No. 2.646.019 to Chetlan discloses a signal ballon which is adapted to be worn on the users shirt and which employs a user-actuated, threaded screw type prong to puncture a helium-filled cartridge to inflate the balloon. which after inflation remains at tached to the device by means of a cord.
Other patents issued in the United States and relating to life saving devices. life preserves and rescue balloons include Radnofsky et al. U.S. Pat. No. 3.152.344. Pritchard et al. U.S. Pat. No. 3.187.7l2. Roxzelle U.S. Pat. No. 3.381.655 and Cockbill U.S. Pat. No. 3.461.835. However. all these devices are subject to the difflculty that they are dependent upon the operation of a gas-containing cartridge which is either difficult to store. difficult to operate. or cumbersome in actual use.
It is accordingly an object of this invention to provide a search and recovery device which can be stored in a compact container of a water-proof nature, which can be reached and operated immediately upon the occurrence of an emergency situation, which can be operated easily and quickly even by a person wearing gloves or mittens. and which operates automatically and effectively without requiring any thought or efficiency on the part ofthe user. and which may be used even in the event that the user has suffered injuries or exposure as a result of a shipwreck or other occurrence.
Other objects and advantages of this invention. including the simplicity and economy of the same. will appear in further detail hereinafter. and in the drawings.
DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a view. partially in side section, of a search and recovery container. containing a device which embodies features of this invention, with a wall portion of the container removed in order to reveal the contents of the container. and with the container cover shown in an open position in dot-dasln lines;
FIG. 2 is a side view similar to FIG. I. taken as indicated by the lines and arrows. IIII which appear in FIG. 3. showing the relative positions of the parts after actuation of the device: and
FIG. 3 is a sectional view taken as indicated by the lines and arrows III-III which appear in FIG. 2.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION 'OF THE INVENTION In the detailed description which follows. specific terms will be used for the sake ofclarity. and it is to be appreciated that these terms are not intended to limit the scope of the invention which is defined in the appended claims.
Referring to FIGS. l-3 of the drawings. the number I designates a cartridge which is contained within the container 4. The cartridge I is filled under compression with a gas which is normally lighter than air, such as helium. for example. As is usual in a cartridge of this type. it has a puncturable end portion 1(a) allowing the compressed helium to be released. The cartridge 1 is preferably backed up at its base by a projection 1(h) in the wall of the container.
In accordance with this invention, the cartridge I is completely contained within a sealed balloon 3 which may be composed of an extremely strong. thin lightweight material such as MYLAR for example.
Also contained within the balloon 3 is an actuator means in the form of a punch 2 having a sharp point 2(a) which is substantially aligned with the puncturable portion 1(a) of the cartridge I. As shown particularly in FIGS. 2 and 3. the punch 2 has a hollowed-out configuration substantially matching the outer configuration of the cartridge 1.
The number 5 designates a hammer member. here shown as wedge-shaped, which is located outside the balloon 3 but in a position adjacent to and in line with the outer surface of the punch 2. It will be noted that a hammer 6 is provided. pivoted at 6(a) within the cover 7 of the container 4. and having an elongated body member 6(l7) terminating, in a wedge-shaped end member 6(0) which, when actuated. fits against the corresponding wedge-shaped portion of the member 5. as shown in FIGS. 2 and 3. In storage. hammer 6 is kept in a hollowed portion 6(11) ofthe cover 7. A spring 7(1)) at the pivot 6(a) automatically swings the hammer 6 out of the cavity 6((1) to its operative position as shown in FIG. 2. when the cover 7 is lifted to its dot-dash line position as shown in FIG. I.
Desirably. a light line 8 such as mono-filament nylon. for example. is connected to the container 4 at 9. and is connected at its other end to the balloon 3 at 10.
The operation of the apparatus is as follows: when it is desired to inflate the balloon and to send it into the air. the operator lifts the water tight cover 7 to the position shown in dot-dash lines in FIG. 1 (allowing the hammer 6 to swing to its dotdash line position as shown in FIG. 1) and then simply punches the surface of the cover 7 with his fist. This drives the wedgeshaped end portion 6(0), which has swung around the pivot 6(u against the wedge 5, shifting the wedge 5 toward the cartridge 1, and operating through the wall of the balloon 3 by hammering against the punch 2, punching the cartridge portion 1(a) and releasing helium from the cartridge for flow through passageways 11 as shown in FIGS. 2 and 3. Since the cartridge 1 is mounted within the balloon 3, the balloon is automatically and quickly inflated and escapes out of the top of the container 4. The type and amount of gas contained within the cartridge is sufficient to lift the balloon by buoyancy in air, even with the cartridge 1 and the punch 2 still carried in the balloon. The height to which the balloon ascends is limited by the length of the line 8, and the line 8 then assures that the balloon will remain directly above the person who actuated it, or nearly so.
It is important in accordance with this invention that the corresponding surfaces of the members 2 and 5 are relatively flat and relatively smooth, so that no damage is done to the wall of the balloon when pressure is transmitted from the actuator member 5 to the puncturing member 2. Similarly, the internal walls of the container 4 are smoothed off, as is the helium-filled cartridge 1, because the cartridge is likely to be driven against the inside surface of the projection 1(l2) during the cartridge punching operation, with the wall of the balloon 3 between the cartridge and the wall.
Although the balloon may be any type of balloon at all, it is preferably a metalized MYLAR balloon, or a balloon made of some other equivalent material which presents an excellent radar target. Similarly, the cartridge may be of any desired type, but should, of course, be filled with a gas that is lighter than air. The preferred gas, of course, is helium, but any other lighter than air gas may be substituted.
The escape of the inflated balloon from the container 4 can be through the top of the container 4. If desired, the hammer 6 may be loose. or designed to hinge up to permit the balloon to expand and to move out of the case. At the same time the balloon can pull out the retaining line 8.
After the balloon has been released, it can either be permitted to remain up in the air where it presents a suitable radar target or visual target as well, or if the user so desires, he can pull it down by pulling on the life line 8, to any desired position.
It will be appreciated that the device according to this invention is useful not only for rescue operations at sea, but also in other isolated areas such as forests, mountains and the like. lt can be manufactured in a very small, light-weight manner and is readily portable and easy to store in confined places.
It will be appreciated that many variations may be made with respect to the specific details shown in the drawings and described in the specification. Various types of gas cartridges may be used, and they may either by puncturable or may release the gas by valves or other means. Similarly, various other means may be incorporated into the container for actuating the release of the gas. However, it is important in accordance with this invention that the gas and its container be contained within the deflated balloon, and that they be actuated through the wall of the balloon. This provides a very simple, efficient and virtually totally reliable operation. lt will also be appreciated that various equivalent elements may be substituted for those specifically shown and described, that certain parts may be reversed, and that certain features may be used independently of other features, all without departing from the spirit and scope'of the invention as defined in the appended claims.
The following is claimed:
1. ln a search and recovery position indicating device, the combination comprising a container in which is positioned a sealed and deflated balloon, a pressure cartridge enveloped by and contained within said deflated balloon within said container and containing under pressure a gas which is normally lighter than air, said cartridge having a gas-release means, shiftable actuator means also enveloped by and located within said deflated balloon and arranged in a position adjacent to said cartridge which, when moved, actuates said gas release means, and blunt means also within said container but outside said balloon arranged to be shifted within said container to apply force through said balloon to said actuator means, and forcing means movable in said container to shift said blunt means, whereby the actuator means actuates the gas-release means, causing release of said gas within said balloon, with attendant release of said balloon by said container, the type and amount of gas contained in the cartridge being sufficient to lift the balloon by buoyancy in air even with the cartridge and the actuator means carried in the balloon.
2. The device according to claim 1, wherein said container has a removable lid. and said blunt means includes a hammer portion accessible by removing said lid to manually actuate said hammer portion, said forcing means extending adjacent said lid and being mounted in said container for actuating contact of said blunt means.
3. The device according to claim 2, wherein the hammer means includes an elongated pivoted member and a wedge-shaped actuator member carried on the lid of said container and responsive to movement of said elongated pivoted member to actuate said gas-release means.
4. The device according to claim I, wherein a light line is provided in said container, and outside of said balloon, and connected to said outside of said balloon and to said container.
5. The device according to claim I, wherein said pressure cartridge has a puncturable portion for releasing the contained gas, and wherein said actuator means has a sharp pointed configuration arranged to punch said puncturable portion.
6. The device according to claim I, wherein said actuator means has a smooth-surfaced portion within said balloon extending adjacent the inner surface of said balloon, and said blunt means has a smooth-surfaced portion outside of said balloon extending adjacent the outer surface of said balloon, whereby actuating force is transmitted through the wall of the balloon without puncturing the balloon when said blunt means is shifted into pressure contact with said balloon and. through said balloon, with said actuating means.