US 3906369 A
A portable, hand-held remote control transmitter unit comprises a housing which provides a pair of spaced parallel handgrips. Located forwardly of the handgrips and extending between them is a console having a function switch mounting surface with a V-shaped horizontal profile. The mounting surface comprises a pair of vertically inclined planes which intersect at an apex and diverge outwardly therefrom. An array of thumb actuated function switches is located on the mounting surface, arranged in upper and lower rows. The upper row of switches is offset from the lower row so that each switch is positioned within vertical range of the operator's thumb. Since the apex of the resultant V-shaped rows faces the operator as he grips the unit with his hands, each function switch is positioned within horizontal range of the operator's thumb as well. A pair of trigger switches, which effectuate proportional control of the functions initiated by the aforementioned function switches, are mounted on the underside of the handgrips within range of the operator's forefingers. Either trigger switch may be operated simultaneously with the aforementioned thumb operated function switches, and the operator's hand need not be moved. A safety disabling switch, located beneath the function switch rows, extends transversely between the handgrip frame members so that it, too, can be activated by either thumb without disturbing the operator's grip on the unit.
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent Pitman et a1.
[ FUNCTION SWITCH ARRANGEMENT FOR HAND-HELD REMOTE CONTROL UNIT  Inventors: Raymond F. Pitman, Prairie Village, Kans; William T. Dale, Euless, Tex.
 Assignee: R 0 Products, Inc., Olathe, Kans.
 Filed: Sept. 18, 1974  Appl. No.: 507,013
 US. Cl 325/111; 200/157;D26/13 R  Int. Cl. ..H01H 9/06; HOlH 13/08;
H048 1/034  Field of Search 325/111, 118, 15, 16,37,
325/361, 309, 165, 183, 390, 391, 352, 119; 340/147 R, 147 MT; 343/225; D26/l3 R; l78/D1G. 15; 200/157, 5 A, 18; 317/99, 112
Primary Examiner-Robert L. Griifin Assistant ExaminerRobert Hearn Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Lowe, Kokjer, Kircher, Wharton & Bowman 51 Sept. 16, 1975  ABSTRACT A portable, hand-held remote control transmitter unit comprises a housing which provides a pair of spaced parallel handgrips. Located forwardly of the handgrips and extending between them is a console having a function switch mounting surface with a V-shaped horizontal profile, The mounting surface comprises a pair of vertically inclined planes which intersect at an apex and diverge outwardly therefrom. An array of thumb actuated function switches is located on the mounting surface, arranged in upper and lower rows. The upper row of switches is offset from the lower row so that each switch is positioned within vertical range of the operators thumb. Since the apex of the resultant V-shaped rows faces the operator as he grips the unit with his hands, each function switch is positioned within horizontal range of the operators thumb as well. A pair of trigger switches, which effectuate proportional control of the functions initiated by the aforementioned function switches, are mounted on the underside of the handgrips within range of the operators forefingers. Either trigger switch may be operated simultaneously with the aforementioned thumb operated function switches, and the operators hand need not be moved. A safety disabling switch, located beneath the function switch rows, extends transversely between the handgrip frame members so that it, too, can be activated by either thumb without disturbing the operators grip on the unit.
9 Claims, 4 Drawing Figures FUNCTION SWITCH ARRANGEMENT FOR HAND-HELD REMUI E CONTROL UNIT BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION This invention relates generally to remote control devices. More particularly the invention relates to handheld radio remote control transmitter units.
Radio remote control devices have become increasingly popular in recent years, and a wide variety of applications have been found for such devices. Radio controlled model airplane flying is a notable example. Industrial uses exist as well. For example, in the electric utility industry remote control mechanization has been successfully employed in conjunction with utility derricks or cranes and related vehicles and equipment.
Electric utilities have found that the use of remote controlled equipment helps in labor saving in that the director of the operation can also perform the control functions, thereby making it possible to operate the equipment with only one operator rather than two. An additional advantage of remote control equipment is that the operator can position himself wherever he can obtain the best vantage point from which to control the machine involved.
Radio remote control systems typically consist of a radio control transmitter which through telemetry and- /or related modulation schemes, transmits function commands to various electrohydraulic valves, servomotors, torque motors, relays or solenoids associated with the device to be controlled. The sending unit is typically a portable battery operated device with a plurality of switches and controls, often arranged haphazardly on a simple box structure.
It is a fundamental object of this invention to provide a remote control sending unit in which the various function switches and controls are mounted in a unique configuration to maximize operative efficiency.
It is another object of this invention to provide a remote control sending unit which may be easily operated while it is being carried.
It is a further object of this invention to provide a compact and lightweight remote control sending unit which is extremely durable and shock resistant.
To accomplish these objects we have invented a remote control unit comprising a transmitter housing which provides two spaced parallel members which function as handgrips. On the upper surface of the transmitter housing, a plurality of function switch operating members are arrayed in a pair of stacked, V- shaped rows. The apex of each row is directed toward the operator, so that as he holds the unit, the apex of each V-shaped row will face him. Every function switch operating member is thus positioned within the horizontal arc of normal thumb movement, so that convenient accessibility is insured. The upper row of function switches is offset" from the bottom row so that each row of switches is located within the vertical arc of normal thumb movement as well.
Located on the transmitter housing beneath the function switch rows and between the handgrips is a safety switch operator. This spring biased control enables operation when depressed, and it is located within convenient range of either of the operators thumbs.
Located beneath each of the handgrips is a trigger" switch for effectuating proportional control of the various machine functions. As the operator grasps the control unit with his hands the trigger switches can be easily manipulated with his forefingers. At the same time the aforementioned function switches are accessible to the operators thumbs. Thus all of the functions of the remote control system can be easily selected by the operator as he grasps the sending unit. Ease of operation is insured even while the operator moves around because, as he grasps the control unit each switch is positioned within convenient range of either a thumb or forefinger.
DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS In the accompanying drawings, which form part of the specification and are to be read in conjunction therewith, and in which like reference numerals are employed to indicate like parts in the various views:
FIG. I is a perspective view of the hand-held remote transmitter unit;
FIG. 2 is a side view of the hand-held remote control unit showing one hand of the operator in position to operate the unit, and illustrating, in a schematic way, the trigger switch linkage;
FIG. 3 is a top plan view of the remote control unit showing one hand of the operator in position to operate the unit;
FIG. 4 is a simplified schematic diagram of typical circuitry utilized within the control unit; and
FIG. 5 is a simplified schematic diagram of the remotely located electronic and hydraulic apparatus to be controlled by the handheld remote control unit.
FIG. I, a portable hand-held remote control transmitter unit is generally indicated by the reference numeral I0. The unit comprises a circuitry housing 12 which is connected with a battery housing 14 by a pair of generally tubular, oppositely disposed parallel handgrips I5 and 16, thereby defining a rectangular opening 18 therebetween. The handgrips l5 and 16 function as grips for the hands of the operator.
The operator may grasp the unit with each hand substantially as in FIG. 2 (only one hand is shown), resting the palm of each hand against the upper surface of the corresponding frame member and curling the fingers around same and through opening 18. When he does so, the operators thumbs and forefingers will be positioned so that various switches may be conveniently actuated.
The housing l2 contains the electronic circuitry necessary to generate an appropriate remote control signal in response to switch manipulation. RF energy generated by a transmitter located therewithin is radiated via antenna 20, which is attached via suitable linkage to the rear of housing 12. Battery pack 14 supplies power to the unit from batteries located therein in accordance with the setting of on-off switch 21.
A plurality of thumb actuated function switch operating members 30-40 are arranged in upper and lower mounting rows 24 and 25, which are located on a mounting surface comprised of a pair of generally inclined, intersecting planes 26 and 27. Each of the function switches 30-40 is electrically connected to circuitry within housing 12, and each switch initiates a predetermined remotely controlled operation or function. Planes 26 and 27, which are integral with housing 12, intersect to form apex 48, and they diverge outwardly therefrom. As seen in FIG. 3 apex 48 faces the operator as he holds the device, and the horizontal profile of the mounting surface is V-shaped.
Mounting row 24, the upper row. is offset" from the lower mounting row 25, so that each row (and each switch therein) is located within range of the vertical are struck by normal thumb movement (FIG. 2). Additional rows of function switches could be added to effectuate control of additional functions.
Thus the operators thumb 42 may reach either row of function switches by simple vertical movement and his hand need not be moved. Thus position 42a (FIG. 2) is rapidly and efficiently achieved by the operator without weakening his grip on the device.
As seen in FIG. 3, the V shape of the mounting rows enables each switch therewithin to be located within convenient range of the horizontal arc struck by the movement of one of his thumbs, as the apex of the \l in each case faces the operator. Thus in FIG. 3 the operator may attain position 42b without shifting the position of his hand as it grips the handgrip.
Proportional control (i.e., speed control) of the functions initiated by switches 30-40 is effectuated by the trigger switches. 45 and 46. The trigger switches are located underneath the hand-grip members near the housing box 12. Each trigger switch actuates a potentiometer via linkage which is located interiorly of the handgrip. In the illustrated embodiment, the linkage comprises, for each switch. a longitudinally movable shaft 45a which is coupled to the trigger by means of a yoke 45); extending from the trigger. The shaft is based toward the trigger down" portion by a spring 450. The shaft cam is a rack gear section which drivingly engages a pinion 45(- connected to a potentiometer later to be described.
When the operator properly grasps the remote control unit each of his forefingers will contact a corresponding trigger switch for convenient manipulation thereof FIG. 2). At the same time. of course, the operators thumbs will be in an appropriate position to operate the desired function switches as previously dis cussed. Thus both functions may be simultaneously controlled by the operator.
Extending transversely between handgrips I5 and 16 immediately below the function switches is a safety switch operator 50, which is instantly accessible to either of the operators thumb. The switch operator 50 is in the form of a plate which is pivoted on an axis defmed by axles 50a and spring loaded in the up direction. The plate actuates a conventional olT-on switch (the deadman' switch of FIG. 4) to enable and disable the hydraulic control system. When the switch operator 50 is in the held down position (by one thumb or the other), and as will be later described, the hydraulic control system is operable; if released, the system becomes disabled. Switch operator 50 immediately stops the remotely controlled device from functioning when it is not positively engaged. From FIG. I it is seen that switch 50 is located such that it, too, is within the vertical arc of the operators thumbs.
Illustrative electrical circuitry for the remote control sending unit is shown in FIG. 4. The particular configuration is designed for remote control of an electric utility crane, which will be equipped with the apparatus shown in FIG. 5.
Each of the function switches 3040 are electrically wired to coder and logic board 60, which contains appropriate circuitry to modulate the RF output of transmitter 65 in accordance with the desired function or functions. Power is supplied to the circuit via batter power supply 64, and modulated RF energy is radiated by antenna 20.
Potentiometers 61 and 62 are actuated via the earlier described linkage driven by trigger switches 45 and 46 (FIGS. I and 2). The intensity or rate of movement of the various boom functions selected by function switches 3H0 is controlled by potentiometer 61, and proportional control of the capstan, auger, and winch functions respectively selected by switches 35-37 are accomplished via potentiometer 61. Safety switch S0 and the remaining switches 3034 are similarly interconnected with the coder and logic circuitry.
The apparatus of FIG. 5, located on the machinery to be controlled, receives and deciphers the coded transmissions from the transmitter 65. Logic circuitry within circuit board 89 generates a plurality of hydraulic motor control signals which are delivered to the hydraulic valve control motors a76a to actuate the desired crane functions. The main blocking valve 76, which in effect is in series with hydraulic pump and the remaining hydraulic valves, is a safety valve, which is ultimately controlled by safety switch 50 in the remote control sending unit. When switch 50 (FIG. 3) is not depressed, motor 760 closes hydraulic valve 76 to interrupt further machine operation.
Receiver 87 and power supply 88 are comprised of conventional circuitry. The vehicle engine control outputs and the clamp outputs, which are ultimately controlled by remote control switches 3l34 (FIG. 4), actuate conventional electromechanical transducers and linkages (not shown).
From the foregoing, it will be seen that this invention is one well adapted to attain all of the ends and objects hereinabove set forth together with other advantages which are obvious and which are inherent to the structure.
It will be understood that certain features and subcombinations are of utility and may be employed without reference to other features and subcombinations.
As many possible embodiments may be made of the invention without departing from the scope thereof, it is to be understood that all matter herein set forth or shown in the accompanying drawings is to be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense.
Having thus described our invention we claim:
I. A portable remote radio frequency controller structure comprising two spaced, parallel handgrips having forward and rearward ends,
a switch console at the forward ends of said hand grips. said console having a horizontal profile in the form of a V with the apex of the V extending toward the space between the handgrips, said console further including switch mounting surfaces in the form ofa pair of inclined symmetrically diverging planes intersecting on the apex and extending forwardly and upwardly relative to said handgrips, and
an array of thumb actuated function switch operating members mounted on and extending from said mounting surfaces, each switch in the array being located within range of an operators thumb while the fingers hold the handgrips.
2. The structure as in claim I wherein said switch operating members are located on said mounting surface in a row extending between the handgrips.
3. The structure as in claim 2, wherein said switch operating members are located in upper and lower rows, the operating members in the upper row being offset horizontally relative to those in the lower row.
4. The combination as in claim 1, including at least one trigger switch for controlling variability of certain functions, said trigger switch mounted on the underside of the handle grip within range of the forefinger of an operators hand gripping the handgrip for simultaneous manipulation thereby with a switch operating member.
5. The structure as in claim 1, including a switch operating member adjacent the side of a handgrip for manipulation by the thumb of an operator.
6. A portable, hand-held remote radio transmitter unit having electronic circuitry for generating and modulating and RF remote control signal, the unit comprising handgrip means for manually grasping and holding said unit,
a switch mounting console with a V-shaped horizontal profile, the console located on said unit and comprising a pair of mounting surfaces arranged as vertically inclined planes which intersect each other to form a centrally defined apex and which diverge outwardly therefrom, said apex facing said handgrip means, and
an array of thumb actuated function switch is electrically interconnected with said electronic remote control circuitry for remotely controlling predetermined events, each function switch having an operating member located within horizontal range of a thumb when a operator grasps said handgrip means with his hands.
7. The combination as in claim 6 wherein said function switches vertically stacked thereon to form upper and lower rows, the upper row being offset horizontally relative from the next lower row so that each row is within range of vertical thumb movement.
8. The combination as in claim 6, including at least one trigger switch for controlling predetermined func tions, the trigger switches mounted on the underside of said unit within range of the forefingers of an operators hands for simultaneous manipulation thereby as the operator grasps said handgrip and while said function switches are within range of the operators thumbs.
9. The combination as in claim 8 wherein said remote control unit comprises an electrical circuit housing structure having said mounting surface thereon, and said handle means comprises a pair of generally tubular, parallel members integral with said circuit housing structure and extending therefrom, the parallel members separated from each other by a predetermined distance to thereby form an opening between said frame members.