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Publication numberUS3920149 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateNov 18, 1975
Filing dateNov 23, 1973
Priority dateNov 23, 1973
Publication numberUS 3920149 A, US 3920149A, US-A-3920149, US3920149 A, US3920149A
InventorsRobert B Dodds, Frank J Fortino
Original AssigneeRobert B Dodds, Frank J Fortino
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Beverage dispensing apparatus and method
US 3920149 A
Abstract
Apparatus and method for dispensing a beverage or liquid from a container, such as liquor from a bottle, wherein the container is provided with a normally closed valve removably mounted on the fluid outlet thereof. The apparatus and method is suitable for use with a liquor dispensing system utilizing a number of bottles of different types and grades of alcoholic beverages. In such a system, each valve has a valve member movable to an open position in response to a magnetic field to permit liquid to be dispensed from the corresponding bottle. A tubular valve actuator is provided to receive the valve and to generate a magnetic field to open the valve when the container is inverted. Circuitry coupled to the actuator assures that the valve will be open only for a predetermined period of time so that only a preselected volume of the liquor will be dispensed from the container. Each valve has coding means thereon to distinguish it from other valves and permit identification of the type and quality of liquor in the corresponding bottle and such coding means is sensed when the valve is received within or adjacent to the actuator. There is a plurality of codes each code defining a specific valve type. A number of bottles use the same valve type, thereby defining a separate quantity to be poured or the cost of the liquor contained therein. A coding pulse is generated in response to the sensing of the coding means and such pulse is used to drive a counter which indicates the number of times a valve type is used and thereby the volume and the cost of liquor dispensed from the bottles over a given time period. Each valve type can be actuated so that it dispenses a respective volume of liquid and is totally independent of other valve types.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent [191 Fortino et al.

1451 Nov. 18,1975

1 1 BEVERAGE DISPENSING APPARATUS AND METHOD 221 Filed: Nov. 23, 1973 21 Appl. No.: 418,485

[52] US. Cl 222/1; 222/1293 [51] Int. Cl. B67D 5/30 [58] Field of Search 222/70, 129.1, 129.2, 129.3, 222/1294, l

[56] 9 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,119,485 l/l964 Bayers 222/1294 X 3,193,143 7/1965 Maieli 222/l29.4 X 3,341,078 9/1967 Cardillo ZZZ/129.4 3,428,218 2/1969 Coja..... 222/1294 X 1 3,587,809 6/1971 Meloni 194/100 A 3,599,833 8/1971 Reichenberger.... 222/1291 3,625,398 12/1971 Tometsro 222/70 3,669,315 6/1972 Kuckens 222/148 3,670,924 6/1972 Asper 222/2 3,675,820 7/1972 Newberry 222/129.4 X 3,688,947 9/1972 Reichenberger 222/ 129.3

Pn'mary Examiner-Robert B. Reeves Assistant Examiner-Thomas E. Kocovsky Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Townsend and Townsend [57] ABSTRACT Apparatus and method for dispensing a beverage or liquid from a container, such as liquor from a bottle, wherein the container is provided with a normally closed valve removably mounted on the fluid outlet thereof. The apparatus and method is suitable for use with a liquor dispensing system utilizing a number of bottles of different types and grades of alcoholic beverages. In such a system, each valve has a valve member movable to an open position in response to a magnetic field to permit liquid to be dispensed from the corresponding bottle. A tubular valve actuator is provided to receive the valve and to generate a magnetic field to open the valve when the container is inverted. Circuitry coupled to the actuator assures that the valve will be open only for a predetermined period of time so that only a preselected volume of the liquor will be dispensed from the container. Each valve has coding means thereon to distinguish it from other valves and permit identification of the type and quality of liquor in the corresponding bottle and such coding 'means is sensed when the valve is received within or adjacent to the actuator. There is a plurality of codes each code defining a specific valve type. A number of bottles use the same valve type, thereby defining a separate quantity to be poured or the cost of the liquor contained therein. A coding pulse is generated in response to the sensing of the coding means and such pulse is used to drive a counter which indicates the number of times a valve type is used and thereby the volume and the cost of liquor dispensed from the bottles over a given time period. Each valve type can be actuated so that it dispenses a respective volume of liquid and is totally independent of other valve types.

47 Claims, 18 Drawing Figures COMPUTER US. Patent Nov. 18,1975 Sheet 1 of? 3,920,149

E E AoTuAToR 0? Q8 *+2Av DRIV Rs 50 A EE'PEE S I E l l E A8 A46 1 RELE E DETECTORS "2 W T ETATCH LOG; INHIBIT&DATA

T VARIFICATION T T T CONTROL LOGIC WELL CALL SPECIAL COUNTER COUNTER COUNTER BT law LIQUOR SPLASH MARTINI COUNTER COUNTER COUNTER TST TT FIG. 2

us. Pat ent 18, 1975 sheet 2 of? 3,920,149

US. Patent Nov. 18, 1975 Sheet30f7 3,920,149

FIG.6 SHOT s|z|;

ADJUSTMEN DECODER -n5 n5o lqsb I85 MUFVI%'%OR 5 IM X (MARTINI) W P ONESHOT MULTIVIBRATOR I68 gm 172 ONESHOT MULTIVI BRATOR 7 I66 L I ONESHOT W0 MULTIVIBRATOR R (SPLASH) \m T3 l I l I M I l L J V V HIGH LOWHOLDING CURRENT CURRENT 4 Sheet 4 of 7 3,920,

US. Patent Nov. 18, 1975 WITH COD|NG R|NG TL RG80 N0 CODING RING III D I I H M m I egsmm 7 I. As O AA TA I MM mm 4 Mm 9 F. 6 3 Q mm F. R E 7 ms m 4% f w (II 6 O C fina 5 L a e h S FIG. IO

U S Patent Nov 18 1975 FIG. 9

' C C C I I I I I I COUNTER A I C, FL L US. Patent N0v. 18, 1975 T0 COUNTER o MULTIVI%RATOR IIN Q D FIG. II

MULTIVIBRATOR IIN Sheet 6 of 7 I FIG. I2

US. Patent Nov. 18,1975 Sheet7of7 3,920,149

BEVERAGE DISPENSING APPARATUS AND METHOD The invention relates to improvements in liquid dispensing techniques and, more particularly, to apparatus and method for dispensing measured amounts of a liquid in a container and for accounting for the quantity and type and cost of liquid so dispensed.

BACKGROUND OF THE PRIOR ART In conventional automated liquor dispensing systems, the customer buying a particular drink does not generally see the container or bottle from which the liquid is poured or dispensed, thus it is possible for bartenders and others to dispense liquids which are not of the same quality as that desired, thereby resulting in the customers getting an inferior drink but paying for a more expensive drink. In some cases, a row of liquor bottles are normally disposed in fixed, inverted positions and provided with valves of a particular type whereby the liquor in the bottles can be selectively dispensed by the selective manual actuation of the valves of the various bottles. These bottles are usually arranged so that they are out of the view of a customer.

In other systems, the bartender utilizes a hand-held 2 tively large number of bottles yet the invention can be practiced in the normal fashion of dispensing liquor wherein the bartender pours the liquor from a particular bottle in the view ofa customer so that the customer can see the type of liquor being dispensed as well as the amount of liquor going into a drinking glass. The invention allows the bartender to pour from a bottle utilizing only one hand as in free-pouring (where a shot-glass is not used to measure the quantity of liquor to be dispensed). The invention is an improvement over the conventional technique of using a shot glass for the following reasons: it is more accurate, it causes less spillnozzle with pushbutton valve which dispense a number of different types and qualities of liquors with suction or pressure to cause liquid flow. Here again, the bottle is at some remote location and the customer cannot see what drink he is being served.

The following U.S. Pat. Nos. relate to the dispensing of liquor from bottles in a manner to permit accounting for the quantity of liquor which is dispensed:

3.599.833 3,] l9.485 3,34l.078 3.688.947 3,|93.l43 3,428,218 3,669.3 l5 3.670.924 3.675.820

Of the foregoing references, U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,599,833 and 3,688,947 are directed to liquid dispensing apparatus which uses a stationary, liquid-receiving member having a socket for receiving a pouring spout on the neck of a bottle so that liquid can be drawn out of the bottle by suction and thereafter discharged by gravity into a glass below the stationary member. Such apparatus is quite complicated in construction and expensive to produce and maintain. It also requires a source of vacuum to remove liquid from a bottle. Moreover, the fact that the stationary member cannot be moved pre- .vents the use of such apparatus at various locations, such as in front of customers in a tavern in which liquor is dispensed from bottles.

Another problem with conventional bartending services is that an unscrupulous bartender in a tavern can intentionally fail to ring up sales on a cash register,

thereby pocketing the money of the sale and causing loss of profits to the tavern owner. Also, loss of profits can occur when a bartender pours a greater amount of liquor than he should in a particular drink or drinks. A system is, therefore, needed to check the way in which liquor is dispensed from the many bottles used in a tavern.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention overcomes the problems mentioned above with respect to the sale of liquor in a tavern by providing apparatus and a method which can be used to account for the dispensing of liquor for a relaage, and requires only the use of one hand to dispense liquor from a bottle, thusfreeing the other hand for other activities, such as adding mix to the drink. The invention can be used at any location within a spherical space having a radius typically of four to five feet, thus allowing the pouring of liquor at different locations. To this end, the apparatus of the invention utilizes a valve for each of a plurality of liquor bottles, respectively, with each valve being normally closed and having a valve member movable to an open position only in response to a magnetic field generated by a coil carried by a tubular valve actuator into which the valve is 'removably inserted. The actuator, when not in use, can be held in a holder secured to a bar. It is energized only when the valve on the bottle is inserted into the actuator and inverted. It remains actuated only for a predetermined period of time to assure that only a predetermined volume of liquor is dispensed from the bottle each time the valve is opened.

The present invention utilizes a simple, lightweight actuator for the valve on the neck of a bottle for opening the valve in accordance with a predetermined sequence. Both the actuator and a bottle with a valve in its neck are adapted to be hand-held to dispense liquid from the bottle. The actuator has a finger grip allowing it to be manually held onto the valve of a bottle during a pouring operation (as shown in FIG. 2). The acutator is coupled by an elongated, flexible cable or cord to circuitry housed in an out-of-the-way place so that the only hardware of the invention which is visible during operation thereof is the actuator and the valve on the bottle. The fact that the actuator can be hand-held allows it to be moved to different pouring locations, such as a location in front of a customer in a tavern so that the customer can see the quality and amount of liquid poured from a bottle whose valve is opened by the actuator.- Moreover, the actuator is also usable at different heights above the floor.

Another distinction of the present invention over the structure in U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,599,833 and 3,688,947 is that it is not a pressurized system. Liquid flows from the bottle by gravity when the bottle is inverted or tilted into a pouring condition and when the valve on the bottle is opened by the actuator. In the aforesaid two patents, a suction force is required to draw the liquor out of the bottle as the bottle remains essentially upright. This requires a seal between the pouring spout on the bottle and the stationary member. No seal is required between the actuator and the valve on the bottle because the valve has an interval valve member which opens the fluid passage through the valve only in the presence of a particular magnetic fllfl; Also, the actuator has no liquid-receiving intermediate member as in the above two patents.

Each valve has a preselected ceding means tlifeon which corresponds with the type, quality (i.e., price) or quantity of the liquor poured from the bottle. The coding means permits the valves to be grouped into different types, each valve type being selectively and individually adjusted to dispense a quantity of liquor from the corresponding bottle. The presence of the coding means in the actuator causes a coding pulse to be generated which, when decoded, defines the valve type being used. Each time a valve type is used, the corresponding coding pulse is counted and this data is used to determine the number of times the valve type has been used. The stored information relating to the number of times each valve type has been actuated can thus provide an accounting for determining the daily receipts, for instance, of a tavern, the type of liquor most often poured and other information pertinent to the operation of the business of the tavern itself.

The valve is held open for a predetermined period of time which assures that a preselected volume of liquid from a bottle will be dispensed therefrom regardless of the amount of liquid in the bottle itself. In effect the volume rate of flow from the bottle is, therefore, constant even though the bottle is almost full, half full or almost empty.

The actuator includes a coil surrounding the space in which the valve ofa bottle is inserted, the coil being operable to generate a magnetic field to move the valve member of the valve to an open position against a bias force. Upon collapse of the magnetic field, the valve member is returned to a closed position and the collapse of the field occurs after a preselected time interval. Such time interval can be varied, if desired, to thereby permit variations in the volume of liquid dispensed from a bottle each time the corresponding valve type is open.

Other features of the system of the present invention include sensing of a shorter pouring time than the nor- ;mal so that a particular coding pulse can be generated and counted in a corresponding counter to account for such shorter pour time and possible per drink price difference. Such a situation may arise when a splash of a particular alcoholic beverage, such as a liqueur, is to be used in a drink. Also, a larger than normal pour requirements can be sensed, delivered and counted such as when a martini, for instance, is to be poured wherein additional liquor is used over and above the standard amount used in other drinks.

While the present invention has been and will continue to be described with respect to the dispensing of alcoholic beverages from bottles, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited to such an application but is applicable to any type of liquid dispensing system from a container having an outlet opening across which a magnetically responsive valve can be placed.

The primary object of the invention is, therefore, to provide apparatus and a method of dispensing a liquid from a container wherein the liquid flow from the container, when the latter is in a pouring position, is controlled by a valve across the outlet opening of the container with the valve being opened in the presence of a magnetic field and with the valve having coding means thereon defining different valve types which, when sensed, generate a coding pulse or data word so that, by controlling the time in which the magnetic field exists, a predetermined volume of liquid can be dispensed from the container and, by counting the coding pulses or data words the number of times each valve type is opened can be determined for a given period of time to thereby permit the apparatus and method to be utilized 4 in a number of different applications including the use in a tavern or bar for accounting for the volume of liquor dispensed and the number, type and price of drinks poured from the many bottles used in such a tavern or bar.

Another object of this invention is to provide apparatus and method of the type described wherein liquor from any one of a number of liquor bottles in a bar or tavern can be dispensed and accounted for to avoid the problems associated with theft of sales receipts and excessive, unauthorized liquor use by bartenders in the pouring of drinks.

A further object of this invention is to provide apparatus and method as described for dispensing accurate quantities of liquor with minimum spillage and not requiring the use of external measuring devices, thus being faster since only one hand is needed to dispense a predetermined quantity from a liquor bottle.

A further object of this invention is to provide an improved valve and valve actuator for a liquid dispensing system of the type described to assure not only uniform dispensing of liquid from a container but also the sensing of the type, amount and the number of times liquid is dispensed from a container so that the sensed information can be used for accounting purposes at the end of a given time interval such as at the end of a normal working day.

A further object of this invention is to provide apparatus and method as described which can be used to dispense different quantities of different liquids in some predetermined recipe.

Other objects of this invention will become apparent as the following specification progresses, reference being had to the accompanying drawings for an illustration of the invention.

In the drawings:

FIG. I is a block diagram of the circuitry of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a side elevational view of the valve and actuator therefor utilized with a bottle for dispensing liquid therefrom;

FIG. 3 is an enlarged, fragmentary view of the valve and actuator with the actuator in cross section;

FIG. 4 is an exploded view of the valve;

FIG. 5 is an enlarged, cross-sectional view of the valve;

FIG. 5a is a cross-sectional view taken along line 5a5a of FIG. 5;

FIG. 6 is a schematic diagram of the circuitry for the actuator;

FIG. 7 is a timing diagram illustrating the operation of the circuitry of FIG. 6;

FIG. 8 is a schematic diagram of a portion of the sensing circuitry for the coding means on each valve;

FIG. 8a is a timing chart showing the operation of the circuitry of FIG. 8;

FIG. 8b is a schematic view similar to FIG. 8, showing the three sensing coils of the sensing circuitry;

FIG. 9 is a block diagram of the counters used to provide clock pulses for the circuitry of FIGS. 6 and 8;

FIG. 10 is a timing diagram of the clock pulses from the counters of FIG. 10;

FIG. 1 l is a schematic view of a time delay means for enabling the sensing circuit and the circuitry for the actuator;

FIG. 12 is a timing diagram illustrating the operation of the time delay means of FIG. 11;

5 FIG. 13 is a data verification circuit used with the sensing circuit;

FIG. 14 is a fragmentary, perspective view of a bar having a holder attached thereto for holding the actuator in an inclined position; and

. block form in FIG. 1. System operates in connection with a number of different valves placed on liquid containers, such as bottles containing alcoholic beverages. For purposes of illustration, a valve 12 (FIGS. 2-5) is utilized with a bottle 14 containing an alcoholic beverage 16, valve 12 being inserted into the neck 18 of the bottle and projects outwardly therefrom as shown in FIGS. 3 and 5. The bottle with valve 12 therein is utilized with a valve driver or actuator 20 for opening the valve for a predetermined period of time to dispense a predetermined volume of liquid therefrom when the bottle is inverted as shown in FIG. 2. For purposes of illustration, the liquid is dispensed into a glass 22 such as the type used for serving alcoholic drinks in a tavern or the like.

System 10 finds a special application as a means for dispensing liquor from a number of bottles in a tavern and for accounting for not only the volume of liquor dispensed from the bottles but also the number of times a type of bottle is used. This is accomplished by sensing a code on each valve and using the sensed information to generate a code pulse or data word which is used to trigger a counter or other type of accumulator storage device having an indicator representing the number of times the particular valve has been opened. This information can, in turn, be used to determine the volume of liquor dispensed from a particular bottle and the dollar amount which should have been collected for the sale of such volume. Thus, at the end of a working day, for instance, the owner of the tavern can determine the amount of liquor dispensed from a plurality of bottles and can compare the total value of the dispensed liquor against the money collected in the cash register of the tavern.

Each valve 12 is inserted into the neck of a corresponding bottle and tamper-indication means, such as a stamp seal, detect unauthorized attempts to remove the valve from the bottle. Thus, if any attempt is made to remove the valve, this will be indicated by the breaking of the stamp seal. Thus, the only way to open the valve and to allow liquor to be poured therefrom is to use ac- :tuator 20 which is attached to circuitrydeflning a small computer. When the valve is coupled to actuator 20,

and the bottle and actuator are manually inverted, the actuator senses code means on the valve and is automatically energized, producing a magnetic field which causes the valve to open for a predetermined period of time to dispense a predetermined volume of liquor 'from the bottle.

At no time does anything but the internal parts of the valve contact the liquor dispensed from the bottle. The

Valve 12 is shown in greater detail in FIGS. 4 and 5. It includes a plastic liner 24 making a liquid-tight junction between valve 12 and inner surface 30 of neck 18 of bottle 14. Liner 24 can have other constructions, if desired, such as a conventional cork.

Section 36 has an open end tube 44 therewithin extending the length thereof, one end of tube 44 having a breather tube 46 press-fitted thereinto and extending outwardly therefrom through the inner open end of part 24. The opposite end of tube 44 is open to present a breather hole 48 (FIG. 5) allowing air to pass into and through tube 46. A ball valve 50 is carried in a cage 52 at the outer end of tube 46. The ball is held in cage 52 by a lateral projection 54 which extends across the open end of the cage and prevents liquid from escaping through tube 46 and out of breather hole 48 when the bottle is inverted and the valve is not yet opened. Tube 46 admits air past valve 50 to bottle 14 when the latter is inverted in the manner shown in FIG. 2. The air entering the bottle is indicated by bubbles 56 (FIG. 2) to assure proper delivery of liquid from the bottle when valve 12 thereof is open.

Part 34 of valve 12 further includes a second tubular section 58 (FIG. 5) integral with flange 38 and extending outwardly therefrom in a direction opposite to the direction in which section 36 extends. Section 58 is axially offset with respect to part 24 and the center of annular flange 38 to accommodate breather hole 48. Section 58 has an arcuate shoulder 60 defining a major portion 62 thereof having a reduced diameter from the portion thereof adjacent to flange 38. This allows one or more metal coding bands 64 to be placed onto section 58 to provide a coding means therefor. For purposesof illustration, there are two spaced coding bands 64 on section 58 as shown in FIGS. 3 and 5. One coding band 64 is in abutment with shoulder 60. This is followed by a plastic spacer 66, a plastic spacer 68 and the second metal coding band 64. Bands 64 and spacers 66 and 68 are placed onto section 58 and permanently secured.

Before cap 70 is secured to part 34, the valve mechanism is inserted within section 58. Such mechanism includes a shiftable valve member 72, a fixed valve member 74 normally spaced from valve member 72, and a coil spring 76 surrounding fixed member 74 and engaging flange 88 thereof and surrounding an end section 89 of movable valve member 72 to bias the latter away from fixed member 74 and into a valve seat 78, thereby keeping the valve normally closed in the manner shown in FIG. 5. The valve assembly of the valve members and the spring is carried by a cage 80 (FIG. 4) comprised of a base 82 containing valve seat 78. The cage has three elongated, circumferentially spaced ribs 84 (FIG. 4) having transversely L-shaped outer ends 86 for receiving the annular flange 88 on fixed member 74. Flange 88 is effectively press-fitted within the notches formed by ends 86 to facilitate the insertion of the valve assembly into section 58. The end face 91 of flange 88 engages three spaced ribs 93 (FIGS. 5 and 5a) to space flange 88 from the opening 95 of tube 36.

The valve assembly in cage is easily inserted into the open end of section 58 forming a liquidseal between base 82 of cage 80 and the inner surface of section 58 before the cap 70 is placed thereon. Also, before the cap is received in place, an anti-pick device is inserted into the open outer end 92 of base 82 to prevent opening of valve member 72, such as by an elongated rod inserted into the open end 94 of cap 70. De-

vice 90 includes three circumferentially spaced legs 96 rigid to the outer periphery of a disk-like body 98, the legs projecting outwardly from opposed faces of body 98. The ends of the legs are adapted to engage the outer face of tubular extension 100 of base 82 concentric with the fluid passage therethrough. The other ends of the legs 96 are adapted to engage the inner face 102 of cap 70.

In its assembled form as shown in FIG. 5, valve member 72 normally engages seat 78 to close the valve. No pick can be used to open the valve because of the presence of anti-pick device 90.

In the presence of a magnetic field, valve 72 is attracted toward fixed valve member 74 against the bias=force of spring 76, thereby opening the valve and allowing a liquid to flow through section 36, section 58 and out of the latter through the open end 94 of cap 70. The path of the liquid flow is downwardly through opening 95 past flange 88 of fixed valve member 74, through the region within cage 80, past shiftable valve member 72 through valve seat 78, around anti-pick device 90, and out of the valve through cap 70. This path of flow is denoted by the arrow 104 in FIG. 5.

When valve 12 is inserted in the neck of bottle 14, it is desired that liquid be dispensed from the bottle at a substantially constant flow rate regardless of whether the bottle is full, partially full or nearly empty without the use of vacuum or pressure system. The reason for this is that, when the valve is used in a liquor dispensing system, for instance, in a tavern, it is desirable that a uniform quantity of liquor be dispensed from each of various bottles at all times when the valve thereof is opened even though the bottles are of different volumes or have more or less liquor is them. Thus, the quantity of liquor dispensed from a bottle is determined solely by the time interval during which its valve 12 is open.

Valve 12 has certain metal parts, such as valve member 72, fixed member 74 and spring 76. These parts are machined or formed from high quality stainless steel. All remaining parts of valve 12, with the possible exception of ball 50, are made from high strength, nontoxic plastic material such as polystyrene. Tube 46 is preferably made of nylon and has a tapered fit into tube 44 and into cage 52. No bonding agents, cements or other compounds are used to connect or assemble the different parts of valve 12.

The arrangement of the coding bands can be varied as desired. For purposes of illustration, using three possible band positions, there are seven possible band arrangements. Another arrangement could utilize a third band between the first two bands shown in FIG. in place of spacer 66. It can be seen, therefore, that by the judicious selection of a metal band or a plastic band at any one of the three band positions, seven different band arrangements can be provided. If up to two band positions are used, three band arrangements are possible. If up to four band positions are used, fifteen arrangements are possible, and so on.

Valve driver or actuator is comprised ofa tubular core 106 (FIG. 3) having three grooves in which three sensing coils 108, 110 and 112 are wound. These coils have relatively few turns (50 to 100) and are used to sense the presence of the metal coding bands 64 carried on valve 12. Each sensing coil has only one or two layers of wire, thereby causing its wall thickness to be very small relative to its inside diameter. Thus, the magnetic field of each sensing coil is concentrated around the inner surface of core 106. As shown in FIG. 3, two metal bands 64 described above are in alignment with coils 108 and 112, respectively, there being no metal band aligned with coil 110. The coils are cylindrical in shape as are bands 64 and the bands are in close proximity to the coils, thereby providing essentially single turn secondary windings inductively coupled to respective sensing coils. This feature assures that the bands need only be thin-wall construction in view of their relatively large diameter. Thus, the weight of the valve is minimized.

The code sensing is a surface effect, not being affected by the mass or volume of the electrically conductive metal coding bands 64.

The driver or release coil 114 is wound on code 106 in covering relationship to coils 108, 110 and 112. Coil 114 has a large number of turns (800 to 1,600) through which a large current is passed, producing a maximum number of ampere turns, thus producing a strong magnetic field inside coil 114. A large attract current in the release coil is used to initially open the valve while a smaller holding current is used to keep it open for a predetermined period of time so that a certain volume of liquid will flow out of bottle 14 when the latter is in the inverted position of FIG. 2.

Core 106 has a pair of opposed end flanges 118 and 120. One end of the core is adapted to receive valve 12 in the manner shown in FIG. 3. This end has a beveled surface 122 to guide the valve into the core. The valve is moved into the core until flange 38 of part 34 engages flange 118 of core 106 as shown in FIG. 3. When this occurs, the one or more coding bands 64 will be properly aligned with respective coils 108, 110 and 112. Also, cap will protrude through the opposite open end of the core 106; thus, the length of part 34 is greater than the length of core 106.

The leads coupled to the various coils are wired to circuitry spaced from actuator 20 by a coiled, retractile cord 124, such as a telephone receiver cord, coupled mechanically by a finger grip 126 to actuator 20. A mercury switch 128 is carried within segment 126 and operates to open when actuator 20 is in the inverted portion of FIG. 3. The open condition of switch 128 indicates the proper operative position of actuator 20 and thereby enables circuitry to be described.

The circuitry of system 10, as shown in FIG. 1, includes drivers for data sense coils 108, and 112, the drivers being denoted by the numeral 130. These drivers are coupled to data sense detectors 132 whose output is directed to data decoding logic 134 which is coupled to drivers 136 of a number of decade counters 138, thereby registering the delivery of individual quantities of liquid from bottle 14.

Coil drivers are enabled by switch 128, the latter defining a tilt switch, and are also enabled by inhibit and data verification logic 140 which determines whether or not data is present, i.e., whether a valve having one or more coding bands 64 is inserted into and is in a fixed position within coil 106 of actuator means 20. Logic 140 also controls and enables a variable length or time pulse generator means 141 which is coupled to a pair of release coil drivers 144 which are coupled to release coil 146 in a manner to be described. By varying the output pulse from generators 141, the period of operation of release coil 146 and thereby the quantity of liquid poured can be adjusted as hereinafter described.

The circuit illustrating a sense coil driver 130 and a data sense detector 132 is shown in FIG. 8 in a circuit 135, there being a circuit 135 for each of the three sense coils 108, 110 and 112, respectively. For pur- I poses ofillustration, circuit 135 of FIG. 8 relates to coil FIG. 8b shows the way in which the three sense coils tor defines a coil driver 130 and is coupled in a series relationship with coil 108 to form a series resonant circuit. At the falling edge of C2, transistor 136 opens, immediately raising the one side of capacitor 140 to the voltage at terminal 143, creating a series of current oscillations B through coil 108. The rate of thedecay of the oscillations is relatively slow when no band 64 is present in proximity to coil 108. The amplitude of oscillations decays to zero because of the power dissipation of the internal resistance of capacitor 140 and coil 108. When a metal band 64 is placed in coil 108, and an oscillating electric current is forced to flow in band 64 to the inductive coupling to coil 108, this current dissipates the energy of the field of coil 108, thereby greatly increasing the decay rate of the oscillations in coil 108 as can be seen in waveform B in FIG. 8a at the right-hand side. The oscillations are applied to the input of an operational amplifier 142 whose output D will have the waveform shown in FIG. 8a. A gating pulse E and output D are applied simultaneously to an AND gate 145, thetiming of window pulse E occuring approximately at the third pulse of the output of the operational amplifier 142 to result in an output pulse F of gate 145.

If a coding band 64 is present in proximity to coil 108, the rate of decay of the oscillations created by the opening of transistor 136 is much, much greater. The waveform B in this case is shown in the right-hand part of FIG. 8a so that essentially only a single pulse will be provided at the output of operational amplifier 142. Thus, when window pulse E is applied to the input of gate 145, there will be no corresponding pulse at the other input of gate 145, therefore no pulse is seen at is present and not moving in actuator 20. As shown in FIG. 13, a lead 148 from each gate 146 couples output F of this gate to the .1 input of a respective JK flip-flop 150 having a clock input coupled to the output of a gate 152 for receiving clock pulses from counter 138. Clock pulses C2, C3 and C4 are successively applied to the inputs of respective gates 152, each gate 152 also having an input coupled by a lead 153 to a one-shot multivibrator (pulse E in FIG. 8a).

If a band 64 is present adjacent to coil 108, for instance, the input to flip-flop 150 is zero and remains zero during the receipt of the clock pulse. The Q output of flip-flop 150 is sensed by a second flip-flop 154 whose clock input is coupled to a gate 156, the input of which is responsive to the C5 and T1 counts of counters 138 and 139, respectively. Thus, flip-flop 154 effectively forms a data storage device as it is only clocked once due to the relatively low frequency of the counts of counter 139 (FIG. 13). In this way, comparison of the outputs of flip-flops 150 and 154 detects an error, such as if the corresponding valve is not fully inserted into driver 20 or if it is being moved out within a relatively short time, such as in milliseconds or less.

The Q output of flip-flop 154 and the 6 output of flipflop 150 are coupled to a gate 158 and the output of gate 158 is coupled to an input of a gate 160. Similarly, the Q output of flip-flop 150 and 6 output of flip-flop 154 are coupled to the same input of gate 160. The other input of gate 160 is coupled to the output of a gate 161 whose two inputs are responsive to the C6 count of counter 138 and the T1 count of counter 139 (FIG. 11).

If the output of gate 160 is high, a data error signal is generated which is used to reset counters 138 and 139 to their initial starting conditions so that code sensing will start over again. This occurs when the 6 terminal of flip-flop 150 goes low as the Q output of flip-flop 154 remains low. Thus, the movement or the incorrect placement of the valve in the actuator will prevent actuation of a counter or accumulator register, thereby assuring that the valve must be properly in place in actuator 20 and not moving relative to it for the valve to be opened and a counter actuated.

During this data verification phase, the three sense coils 108, and 112 are successively pulsed a number of times, thereby generating current oscillations B (FIG. 10) therethrough. At the same time, the three corresponding flip-flops are clocked successively and for the same number of times. The reason for doing this a number of times is to assure that the data is correct, i.e., that the valve is stationary and in the proper position in actuator 20.

After verification of the presence of data, the Q outputs of flip-flops 154 which have signals representing the presence or absence of coding bands 64 are coupled to respective terminals of a decoder 162 which also serves as a counter driver for the various counters 137 shown schematically in FIG. 12. Decoder 162 is responsive to a signal on lead 164 such as pulse L (FIG.

' 7) which is the output of a first one-shot multivibrator 166 (FIG. 6) used for energizing release coil 146 in a manner to be described. When the proper signal is applied to lead 164, the decoder 162 will be enabled and will have a decoded output which is directed to the proper counter 137 to actuate the latter. In lieu of a counter, an accumulator register can be used. Each counter 137 will thus have a number of dials or counter wheels having numerals which are used to indicate the number of times a respective valve has opened, i.e., the number of times a unit volume of liquor has been dispensed from a particular bottle or particular. class of bottles.

Release coil 146 is energized by the simultaneous operation of one-shot multivibrator 166 and a second one-shot multivibrator 168. Both one-shots 166 and 168 are energized by the falling edge T3, the one-shots having outputs denoted by L and M, respectively, (FIG.

I 1 1'). One-shot 166, coupled to the base of a transistor 170 causes the latter to conduct so that a relatively large current. such as 1.5 amps, is caused to flow through release coil 146. thereby assuring that a relatively large magnetic field will be generated to positively cause valve member 72 to move to its open position touching valve member 74 when valve is disposed within actuator 20. At a relatively short period of time after it is actuated. such as about onehalf second, one-shot 166 times out while one-shot 168 remains actuated. One-shot 168 serves to bias a second transistor 172 to conduction. whereby resistor 169 is placed in series with coil 114, only allowing a relatively smaller current, such as 0.4 amp, to flow through release coil 114 with the current being sufficient to hold the valve member 72 in its open position. The relative magnitude of the voltage at point P (FIG. 6) is shown in FIG. 7.

One-shot 166 has a fixed period determined by its fixed timing circuit components resistor 167 and capacitor 169. The period of one-shot 168 is varied by circuitry 174 (FIG. 6) which is responsive to the code sensing of circuits 134 (FIG. 8) and verification logic 140 (FIG. 13). Thus, the release coil is energized for a period depending upon the type of liquor dispensed from a particular bottle. Typically, the period will be about 2 and /2 seconds for 1 ounce of liquor to be poured.

Varying the period of one-shot 168 is accomplished when one or more transistors 175 forming parts of circuitry 174 (FIG. 6) are biased to conduction. When this occurs, one or more potentiometers 177 coupled to respective transistors are connected into the timing circuit of one-shot 168, such timing circuit including a capacitor 179 common to the transistors and potentiometers. This causes the resistance setting of each potentiometer 177 to determine the pulse length of one-shot 168. A decoder 173 coupled to the input of decoder 162 determines which transistor or transistors 175 are to be caused to conduct. In this way, it is possible to switch in a number of different pouring times, thereby varying the quantity of liquor poured from various bottles with different valve types. This is done automatically without having to actuate manual switches.

Decoder 173 receives data from data decoding logic 134 to determine which potentiometer to switch into the timing circuit of one-shot 168. Each valve type (corresponding to its placement of code bands) can have its own adjustment potentiometer or a group of valve types can use one potentiometer. For purposes of illustration, assume valve type 1 uses potentiometer 1770 while valve type 2 uses potentiometer l77b. If valve type 1 has been placed in the actuator and is sensed by data decoding logic 134, decoder 173 biases transistor 1750 on and transistor 175b off. Then the timing circuit of one-shot 168 will thus comprise potentiometer 177a and capacitor 179. Thus, the resistance value of potentiometer 177a determines the quantity of liquor poured from valve type 1. Similarly, for valve type 2, transistor 175b is turned on while transistor 175a is held off and the timing circuit will be comprised of potentiometer l77b and capacitor 179. Thus, the resistance value of potentiometer l77b will determine the quantity of liquor poured from valve type 2. Other transistors and potentiometers are not shown but it is clear that they can be used to provide the additional timing circuits for other valve types.

FIG. 7 also illustrates waveform R which indicates the on time of a one-shot 181 to provide a splash capability, such as when the bottle is returned to its upright position before more than one-half ounce has been poured from valve 10. In this case, it may be desirable to provide a splash of a particular type of liquor, such as a liqueur, onto a previously poured drink. In such a case, the bartender will invert the bottle only for a short period of time, such as one to l and V2 seconds, thereby dispensing one-half ounce or less. The splash is sensed when the bottle is returned to its upright position before the falling edge ofa pulse denoted by R in FIG. 7, which is generated by one-shot 181. This causes a corresponding splash counter 183 (FIG. 1) to be incremented.

If the drink is to contain more than the standard volume, such as when mixing martinis having one and onehalf times the standard volume, the bartender keeps the bottle inverted for an extended period of time, approximately three seconds, after the period normally provided for a standard drink. After the normal pour perled, a one-shot 185 fires for an additional three-second period denoted by S in FIG. 7. At the fall time of S, if the bottle is still inverted, one-shots 166 and 168 are retired and remain on to cause the valve to open and remain open for a period sufficient to allow a quantity, about one-half ounce, of liquor to be poured. In such a case, a martini counter 187 will be incremented to indicate the number times this extra half-ounce is poured for martinis.

OPERATION To place system 10 in operation, it is assumed it is to be used in a tavern and that each of a plurality of bottles in the tavern are provided with respective valves 12 with each valve being stamp sealed to its bottle to prevent undetected tampering therewith. Also, it is assumed that actuator 20 is coupled to the circuitry of FIGS. 6, 8 and 12. Normally, actuator 20 is resting on a surface until ready for use.

Upon selecting a particular bottle, the bartender inserts the valve 12 on the bottle into the core of the actuator. Typically, the countersunk portion of actuator 20 will normally be in the up position when the actuator is resting in a holder 201 releasably mounted, such as by a clamp, on an edge margin 203 of a bar 205 (FIG. 14). With the actuator on the valve, the bottle is then inverted over the glass into which the drink is to be poured.

After the bottle is inverted, there is a predetermined time delay to assure that there is no relative movement between the actuator and the valve and also to allow liquid to fill the interior of the valve before the valve is opened. This time delay is provided by time delay means of the type shown in FIG. 11, wherein mercury switch 128 is coupled to the input of an inverter 180 whose output is coupled to the input of a first one-shot multivibrator 182 which is adapted to be triggered on the fall time of inverter 180. The output of one-shot 182 is coupled to the input of a second one-shot multivibrator 184 which is triggered also on the fall time of one-shot 182. The output of one-shot 184 is coupled to a first input of a gate 186 whose other input is coupled by a lead 188 to the output of the mercury switch 128. The output of gate 186 is coupled to the set terminal of an RS flip-flop 190 whose Q output is coupled to the input of counter 138 to enable the same and thereby to enable the code sensing circuit and the circuit containing the release coil.

FIG. 12 illustrates the timing diagram showing the signals of the various locations in the time delay circuit of FIG. 11. In FIG. 12, the first two pulses of curve A, denoted by the numeral 192, are merely transient, such as if the mercury switch is vibrated so as to cause it to open and close. This is inadvertent and is not intended to cause the enabling of the aforesaid circuitry. Curve B represents the output of inverter 180, curve C represents the output of one-shot 182, curve D represents the output of one-shot 184, curve E represents the output of gate 186 and curve F represents the output of flip-flop 190. It can be seen that, for the proper closing of switch 128, indicated by pulse 194, one-shot 182 will have a predetermined pulse width denoted by pulse 196. When pulse 196 falls, one-shot 184 is actuated, with the pulse width being denoted by pulse 198 sufficient to provide an output pulse 200 for gate 186 to set flip-flop 190 to cause it to have an output pulse 202 so long as the mercuryswitch 128 is actuated, so long as pulse 194 is high.

After pulse 202 enables counter 138, sensing of the bands commences so that the sensed information can be obtained and stored for a subsequent readout as a coding pulse to a corresponding counter. The sensing occurs by charging capacitors 140 of circuits 134 (FIG. 8) so that transients will be developed in respective coils 108, 110 and 112. Depending upon the presence of one or more bands 64, the transients will decay at a particular rate as shown in FIG. 9. If a band is present, the decay rate is very fast so that the low output of gate 145 will indicate the presence of the corresponding band. The decay is relatively slow if there is no band present for that particular coil; thus, the corresponding output of a gate 145 will be high indicating the absence of a band adjacent to the corresponding @il.

After the bands have been sensed, the Q outputs of flipflops 154 will have been coupled to corresponding inputs of decoder 162. Then, upon the generation of the T3 pulse of counter 139, one-shots 166 and 168 will be actuated, causing release coil 146 to be energized to develop the necessary magnetic field to move valve member 72 and to hold it in its open position fora predetermined period of time, such as two and one-half seconds. During this time, liquor flows from the bottle into the drinking glass therebelow and the magnetic field of release coil 146 collapses immediately upon the fall time of one-shot 168. Thus, only a predetermined volume of liquid will flow from the bottle each time the valve is opened. Moreover, the liquid flow will be abruptly shut off because valve member 72 is near the outer end of valve 12, i.e., near cap 70. To reopen the valve after it has been closed, the bottle must either be reinverted or the mercury switch attached to the actuator must be reactuated to start the cycle once again. This can be done by abruptly raising the bottle as it is still inverted and after the valve has closed to cause the mercury of mercury switch 128 to slosh about to deactuate the switch and then immediately thereafter to actuate the switch once again when the mercury settles ,down.

sponding bottle.

Since all of the bottles of the'tavern can be provided with valves 12, it is possible, with the use of system 10, to permit dispensing of measured amounts of liquor from the bottles while at the same time. coded information of the valves can be detected to assure that the proper counter or indicator can be actuated. Thus, the actuated counters corresponding to the different bottles used during a working day can provide accounting information for use in determining the total sales realized and the total volume of liquor dispensed from bottles during a working day even though the liquor from the various bottles is of different quality and price.

A typical bar may have a number of bartender stations along its length. Each bartender station will be equipped with one actuator. This actuator can be placed on some surface of the bar or held in the holder 201 shown in FIG. 14. The holder positions the actuator in an orientation that renders it easy for the bartender to insert the valve on a bottle into the tubular core of the actuator.

The bartender, after selecting the appropriate bottle for the drink he intends to pour, inserts the valve on the bottle into the actuator (a one-hand operation), holding the actuator onto the bottle using the index finger in the manner shown in FIG. 2. The bartender can then pour from the selected bottle at any location he wishes within a five-foot distance from holder 201. The actuator is attached to the holder (and then to the computer) by a coiled, retractile cord similar to those used on telephone receivers.

When the bartender inverts the bottle to pour a drink, mercury switch 128 opens. This condition is sensed by internal circuitry which starts the code sensing (valve type sensing) and code verification operation. If there is no data verification error present, the circuitry then tires the release coil oneshots 166 and 168, opening the valve and incrementing the appropriate valve type counter 137.

The valve will stay open for the prescribed length of time as selected by the shot size adjustments. These adjustments are potentiometer controls that determine how long each valve type shall be open. They are set when the system is installed and the owner of a bar decides what quantities he wants each valve type to pour. A one ounce pour takes approximately 2 and /2 seconds. Each valve type can have a separate shot size adjustment, or multiple valve types can use the same adjustment depending upon how the owner of the bar desires the system to be used.

When the valve and actuator are inverted, the valve opens for the preselected time to pour the quantity of liquor selected (adjustable from #1 ounce to 8 ounces).

Then the valve returns to its closed position. To pour consecutively from the same bottle, the bartender simply lifts the bottle and actuator up with an abrupt jerk, this action causing mercury switch 128 to close and then reopen to restart the pour cycle. Another way to consecutively pour from a bottle requires the bartender toreturn the bottle to its upright position, thereby'closing and reopening the mercury switch to restart the pour cycle. Each time a pour is given from a selected valve type, a counter or accumulator register (in a computer or electronic cash register) is incremented by one. Each valve type has its own separate counter or accumulator register. Therefore, each time liquor is poured from a bottle, a particular counter registers which valve type was used. A typical system configuration of valve types and options is shown in FIG. 15 with the cross-hatched areas representing bands 64 and the blank spaces adjacent to the cross-hatched areas representing plastic bands.

For instance, valve type 1 will be provided on all well type liquor bottles; valve type 2 will be put on bottles of call liquor; valve type 3 will be placed on bottles of special liquor; valve type 4 will be placed on bottles containing liqueur; valve type 5 will be placed on bottles containing splash liquor; and valve type 6 will be placed on bottles containing gin for making martinis.

There are two special features that the system uses to sense whether a splash or martini is required. A splash is defined as one-half ounce or less of a liquor that is added to a drink, e.g., cherry brandy added to a singapore sling. For a bartender to pour a splash, he simply inverts the bottle with its valve in the actuator as in the normal pour mode but he returns the bottle to the upright position before more than onehalf ounce is poured. Internal circuitry senses the splash by sensing the reclosure of the mercury switch in the actuator before the falling edge of pulse R (FIG. 7). This condition, when sensed, causes the separate splash counter to be incremented by one.

Circuitry is also present to select and dispense extra alcohol in special cases, e.g., for a martini which requires one and one-half ounces. The martini circuitry can be actuated by a switch that the bartender has access to or by the bartenders methods of pouring. One such method of pouring is for the bartender to keep the bottle inverted for a prescribed length of time after the standard pour cycle has dispensed the selected quantity. This means that if the bartender keeps the bottle inverted for approximately three seconds after the stan dard pour has been completed, the martini circuitry will be actuated, thereby dispensing another one-half ounce of liquor from the bottle. This condition is sensed by internal circuitry which senses the open condition of the mercury switch after the falling edge of pulses S (FIG. 7). This condition, when sensed, causes the separate martini counter to be incremented by one.

We claim:

1. A liquid dispensing assembly for the outlet of a liquid container comprising: a valve being a tubular body provided with a fluid passage therethrough and means thereon for removably mounting the same on the container at said outlet thereof; a magnetically permeable valve member disposed within said body and movable from a position blocking said passage to a position clearing the same and return; means on said valve for defining a code therefor to identify a characteristic of the container; and a valve actuator having a first coil for generating a magnetic field and a second coil surrounded by the first coil for sensing said code-defining means when said valve is adjacent to said actuator, said valve being movable to a location adjacent to the actuator, said valve member being movable from said blocking position to said clearing position in response to the presence of said magnetic field.

.2. A liquor dispensing system for a plurality of liquorcontaining bottles comprising: a tubular body for each bottle, respectively, each tubular body provided with a fluid passage therethrough and means thereon for mounting the same on the neck of the corresponding bottle to provide a pouring spout therefor, said body having a number of axially spaced code memberreceiving positions along the same, and at least one electrically conductive code member carried by said body at a respective code member-r :ceiving position for providing a code therefor; an actuator having a tubular core and a number of coils Wound on said core at axially spaced locations thereon, the body of each bottle being receivable in said core and said code memberreceiving positions on each body being aligned with respective coils when said body is in an operative position in said core, whereby each code member on the body will be inductively coupled with a respective coil; circuit means coupled with said coils for generating a code signal for each coil, respectively, when a corresponding code member is carried by said body when the latter is in said core; and means responsive to said each code signal for providing an indication of the presence of each code member of a corresponding body.

3. A system as set forth in claim 2, wherein there is provided a code-defining member at a first of the code memberreceiving positions of each bottle, respectively, whereby the code signal generated by the presence of said member of a body in said core will provide an indication of the correctness of the position of the body with respect to said core and thereby the correctness of the code signals corresponding to the other code member-receiving position of the body.

4. A system as set forth in claim 2, wherein the circuit means includes a resonant circuit for each coil, respectively, each code member being in proximity to a respective coil when the corresponding body is in the core, the presence of each code member causing a change in the rate of decay of the oscillations of the magnetic field in the corresponding coil, there being means for applying a current pulse to each resonant circuit of each coil to create oscillations in the coil, means for detecting the amplitude of the oscillations during a predetermined time interval, and means for generating a code signal in response to a predetermined amplitude of oscillations detected during said time interval.

5. A system as set forth in claim 4, wherein is included a decoder responsive to the code signals of the coils, and a plurality of storage devices coupled to the output of the decoder, said storage devices defining said indication means.

6. A system as set forth in claim 2, wherein said second circuit means includes means for verifying the presence and correct code sensing of each code member of a valve adjacent to said actuator.

7. A system as set forth in claim 6, wherein said code verifying means includes means for generating the code signals corresponding to said coils a number of times, means for storing a first set of said code signals, and means for comparing the stored code signals with code signals generated subsequent thereto, whereby a correlation between the stored and subsequent code signals indicates the correctness of the code sensing and thereby the verification of the correct sensing of the valve coding.

8. A liquid dispensing assembly for a plurality of normally upright liquid containers which can be individully hand-held, inverted into liquid pouring positions while being individually hand-held and then returned to normally upright positions comprising: a valve for each container, respectively, each valve having a tubular body provided with a fluid passage therethrough and means thereon for mounting the same on a container at said outlet thereof, a magnetically permeable valve member disposed within said body and movable from a position blocking said passage to a position clearing the same and return, and means on the valve for defining a code therefor to identify a characteristic of the corresponding container; a valve actuator having a coil and means adapted for use in sensing the code-defining means of a valve when the latter is adjacent to the actuator, said actuator having a size sufficient to permit it to be hand-held and to be manually movable from a valve being movable from said blocking position to said clearing position in response to the presence of a magnetic field when said valve extends into said opening of said actuator; first circuit means coupled with said coil for energizing the same to generate a magnetic field; second circuit means coupled with said means on said actuator for generating a code signal corresponding to the code on a valve when the latter is adjacent to said actuator; and means responsive to each code signal for providing an indication of the actuation of a corresponding valve.

9. A liquid dispensing assembly as set forth in claim 8, including means carried by and responsive to the orientation of said actuator relative to a predetermined reference for enabling the first circuit means and said second circuit means.

10. A liquid dispensing assembly as set forth in claim 8, wherein said means on the actuator includes a number of axially aligned sensing coils.

11. A liquid dispensing assembly as set forth in claim 10, wherein said code defining means includesat least one electrically conductive member on the body of each valve, there being a number of member-sensing positions on each body, said positions being aligned with respective sensing coils when said valve is adjacent v to said actuator.

12. A liquid dispensing assembly for the outlet of a liquid container comprising: a valve having a tubular body provided with a fluid passage therethrough and means thereon for removably mounting the same on the container at said outlet thereof; a magnetically permeable valve member disposed within said body and movable from a position blocking said passage to a position clearing the same and return; means including at least one electrically conductive member on said valve for defining a code therefor to identify a characteristic of the container; and a valve actuator having a tubular core, a first coil on the core for generating a magnetic field, and a number of axially spaced second coils on vthe core for sensing said code-defining means when said valve is adjacent to said actuator, said valve being movable to a location adjacent to the actuator, said valve member being movable from said blocking position to said clearing position in response to the presence of said magnetic field, each second coil being disposed on said core to cause the magnetic field of the second coil to be concentrated in a region adjacent to the inner surface of the core, whereby the magnetic field of each second coil can be affected by the outer portion of a corresponding electrically conductive, code-defining member of said valve.

13. A liquid dispensing assembly for a plurality of liquid containers comprising: a valve for each container, respectively, each valve having a tubular body provided with a fluid passage therethrough and means thereon for mounting the same on a container at said outlet thereof, a magnetically permeable valve member disposed within said body and movable from a position blocking said passage to a position clearing the same and return, and means on the valve for defining a code therefor to identify a characteristic of the corresponding container; a valve actuator having a coil and means adapted for use in sensing the code-defining means of a valve when the latter is adjacent to the actuator, each valve being movable to a location adjacent to the actuator, said valve member of each valve being movable from said blocking position to said clearing position in response to the presence of a magnetic field when said valve is at said location; first circuit means coupled with said coil for energizing the same to generate a magnetic field; second circuit means coupled with said means on said actuator for generating a code signal corresponding to the code on a valve when the latter is adjacent to said actuator; a mercury switch carried by the actuator and responsive to the orientation thereof relative to a predetermined reference for enabling at least one of said first circuit means and said second circuit means; and means responsive to each code signal for providing an indication of the actuation of a corresponding valve.

14. A liquid dispensing system for a plurality of normally upright liquid-containing bottles which can be individually hand-held, inverted into liquid pouring positions, and then returned to normally upright positions comprising: a valve for each bottle, respectively, each valve having a tubular body provided with a fluid passage therethrough and means thereon for mounting the same on the neck of the corresponding bottle, a magnetically permeable member disposed within said body and movable from a position blocking its passage to a position clearing the same and return, and at least one electrically conductive code member carried by said body for providng a code therefor; a valve actuator having a first coil and a number of second coils wound on said core, said actuator having a size sufficient to permit it to be hand-held and to be manually movable from a standby station to a pouring station and return, said actuator being provided with an opening therethrough into which a valve of a container can extend when the container is inverted and when the actuator has been manually moved to a pouring station; first circuit means coupled with said first coil for energizing the same to generate a first magnetic field having an intensity sufficient to cause said valve member to move from said blocking position to said clearing position when said valve extends into said opening of the actuator; second circuit means coupled with said second coils for generating a code signal for each second coil, respectively, when a corresponding code member is carried by said body of a valve adjacent to the actuator; and means responsive to said each code signal for providing an indication of each actuation of a corresponding valve.

15. A system as set forth in claim 14, wherein each valve has a number of code member-sensing positions on the outer surface of said body thereof, said positions being aligned with respective second coils when said valve extends into said opening.

16. A system as set forth in claim 14, wherein said second circuit means includes means for verifying the presence and correct code sensing of each code member of a valve adjacent to said actuator.

17. A system as set forth in claim 14, wherein said body of each valve has a number of code-sensing positions thereon at which respective code-defining members can be placed, there being a code-defining memher at a first of the positions of each valve. respectively, whereby the code signal generated by the presence of said member of a valve adjacent to said actuator will provide an indication of the correctness of the position of the valve with respect to said actuator and thereby the correctness ofthe code signals corresponding to the other code-sensing positions of the valve.

l8. A liquid dispensing system for a plurality of liquid-containing bottles comprising: a valve for each bottle, respectively, each valve having a tubular body provided with a fluid passage therethrough and means thereon for mounting the same on the neck of the corresponding bottle, a magnetically permeable valve member disposed within said body and movable from a position blocking its passage to a position clearing the same and return, and at least one electrically conductive code member carried by said body for providing a code therefor; a valve actuator adapted to be hand-held and having a tubular core, a first coil, and a number of second coils, the second coils being wound on said core and being axially spaced along the same, the first coil being wound on the second coils and having a relatively large number of turns, each second coil having a relatively few number of turns, said valve being movable to a location adjacent to the actuator; first circuit means coupled with said first coil for energizing the same to generate a first magnetic field having an intensity sufficient to cause said valve member to move from said blocking position to said clearing position when said valve is at said location; second circuit means coupled with said second coils for generating a code signal for each second coil, respectively, when a corresponding code member is carried by said body of a valve adjacent to the actuator; and means responsive to said each code signal for providing an indication of each actuation of a corresponding valve.

19. A liquid dispensing system for a plurality of liqaid-containing bottles comprising: a valve for each bottle, respectively, each valve having a tubular body provided with a fluid passage therethrough and means thereon for mounting the same on the neck of the corresponding bottle, a magnetically permeable valve member disposed within said body and movable from a position blocking its passage to a position clearing the same and return, and at least one electrically conductive code member carried by said body for providing a code therefor; a valve actuator having a first coil and a number of second coils, said valve being movable to a location adjacent to the actuator; an actuatable generator coupled with said first coil for generating a signal pulse sufficient to energize the same to produce a first magnetic field having an intensity sufficient to cause said valve member to move from said blocking position to said clearing position when said valve is at said location; means coupled with said generator for actuating the same; a timer means coupled with the generator and responsive to the presence of each code member on a valve for determining the pulse width of the signal pulse for energizing the first coil and thereby determining the quantity of liquid poured from a container; second circuit means coupled with said second coils for generating a code signal for each second coil, respectively, when a corresponding code member is carried by said body of a valve adjacent to the actuator; and means responsive to said each code signal for providing an indication of each actuation of a corresponding valve.

20. A system as set forth in claim 19, wherein the code on each valve allows it to be of any one of a number of different valve types, said timer means including a timer circuit for each valve type, respectively, each timer circuit being adjustable independently of the other timing circuits for permitting a variation in the quantity of liquid poured from a corresponding container.

21. A liquid dispensing system for a plurality of liquid-containing bottles comprising: a valve for each bottle, respectively, each valve having a tubular body provided with a fluid passage therethrough and means thereon for mounting the same on the neck of the corresponding bottle, a magnetically permeable valve member disposed within said body and movable from a position blocking its passage to a position clearing the same and return, and at least one electrically conductive code member carried by said body for providing a code therefor; a valve actuator having a first coil and a number of second coils, said valve being movable to a location adjacent to the actuator; a pair of generators coupled to said first coil for generating respective, coilenergizing signal pulses, the signal pulse of one of the generators having a magnitude sufficient to cause the first coil, when energized thereby, to generate a magnetic field of an intensity greater than that of the magnetic field generated by the first coil when energized by the signal pulse of the other generator, the magnetic field of greater intensity being operable to initially move the valve member to said clearing position and the magnetic field of lesser intensity being operable to maintain said valve member in said clearing position when said valve is at said location; second circuit means coupled with said second coils for generating a code signal for each second coil, respectively, when a corresponding code member is carried by said body of a valve adjacent to the actuator; and means responsive to said each code signal for providing an indication of each actuation of a corresponding valve.

22. A liquid dispensing system for a plurality of liquid-containing bottles comprising: a valve for each bottle, respectively, each valve having a tubular body provided with a fluid passage therethrough and means thereon for mounting the same on the neck of the corresponding bottle, a magnetically permeable valve member disposed within said body and movable from a position blocking its passage to a position clearing the same and return, and at least one electrically conductive code member carried by said body for providing a code therefor; a valve actuator having a first coil and a number of second coils, said valve being movable to a location adjacent to the actuator; first circuit means coupled with said first coil for energizing the same to generate a first magnetic field having an intensity sufficient to cause said valve member to move from said blocking position to said clearing position when said valve is at said location; a resonant circuit for each second coil, respectively, each code member being in proximity to a respective second coil when the valve is adjacent to the actuator, the presence of each code member causing a change in the rate of decay of the oscillations of the magnetic field in the corresponding second coil, there being means for applying a current pulse to each resonant circuit of each second coil to create oscillations in the coil; means for detecting the amplitude of the oscillations of each coil during a predetermined time interval; means for generating a code signal in response to a predetermined amplitude of os- 21 cillations detected in each coil during said time interval; and means responsive to said each code signal for providing an indication of each actuation of a corresponding valve.

23. A system as set forth in claim 22, wherein is included a decoder responsive to the code signals of the second coils, and a plurality of storage devices coupled to the output of the decoder, said storage devices defining said indication means.

24. A system as set forth in claim 22, wherein said applying means operates to successively apply the current pulses to respective resonant circuits.

25. A liquid dispensing system for a plurality of liquid-containing bottles comprising: a valve for each bottle, respectively, each valve having a tubular body provided with a fluid passage therethrough and means thereon for mounting the same on the neck of the corresponding bottle, a magnetically permeable valve member disposed within said body and movable from a position blocking its passage to a position clearing the same and return, and at least one electrically conductive code member carried by said body for providing a code therefor; a valve actuator having a first coil and a number of second coils, said valve being movable to a location adjacent to the actuator; first circuit means coupled with said first coil for energizing the same to generate a first magnetic field having an intensity sufficient to cause said valve member to move from said blocking position to said clearing position when said valve is at said location; means coupled with said second coils for generating a code signal a number of times for each second coil, respectively, when a corresponding code member is carried by said body of a valve adjacent to the actuator; means coupled with generating means for storing a first set of the code signals of respective second coils; means coupled with said storing means for comparing the stored code signals with code signals generated subsequent thereto, whereby a correlation between the stored and subsequent code signals will indicate the correctness of the code sensing and thereby the verification of the correct sensing of the valve coding; and means responsive to said each code signal for providing an indication of each actuation of a corresponding valve.

26. The method of dispensing a liquid from a container having an outlet and code-defining indicia thereon comprising: directing a first, relatively large electrical current over an electrical path adjacent to the container to provide a magnetic field; opening the outlet of the container in response to the presence of said magnetic field so that a quantity of liquid from the container can be poured therefrom when the container is inverted; reducing the electrical current over said -path after said outlet has opened; sensing the indicia on the container; and recording the sensed indicia each time the outlet is opened.

27. The method of dispensing a liquid from a container having an outlet and code-defining indicia thereon comprising: providing a first magnetic field,

opening the outlet of the container in response to the 28. The method of dispensing a liquid from a container having an outlet and code-defining indicia thereon comprising: providing a magnetic field; opening the outlet of the container in response to the presence of said magnetic field; inverting the container to allow liquid to flow therefrom when the outlet is open; keeping the outlet open for a predetermined period of time to allow a quantity of liquid to be poured from the container; abruptly raising the container after the outlet has closed and as the container remains inverted; repeating said providing step after said raising step; sensing the indicia on the container; and recording the sensed indicia each time the outlet is opened.

29. A method of dispensing liquids from a group of bottles comprising: providing a normally closed outlet in the neck of each bottle, respectively, with each bottle having a particular coding indicia thereon; selecting a bottle from said group; moving the selected bottle into a liquid pouring position; sensing the indicia on the selected bottle including generating an oscillating magnetic field; generating a code signal as a function of the decay of the oscillating magnetic field and in the presence of the coding indicia on the selected bottle with the code signal being characteristic of the indicia of the selected bottle; storing the code signal to indicate the dispensing of a unit quantity of liquid from the selected bottle; and opening the outlet of the selected bottle for a predetermined period of time to allow said unit volume of liquid to be dispensed therefrom.

30. The method of dispensing a liquid from a nor- -mally upright container capable of being hand-held, in-

verted into a liquid pouring position, and returned to a normally upright position with the container having an outlet and code-defining indicia thereon comprising: providing a magnetic field; manually holding the container and then inverting it while it is hand-held; opening the outlet of the container in response to the presence of said magnetic field and when the container is inverted so that a quantity of liquid from the container can be poured therefrom sensing the indicia on the container; recording the sensed indica each time the outlet is opened; and manually returning the container to its normal upright position after the sensing and recording steps.

31. The method as set forth in claim 30, wherein said providing step is performed after the lapse of a predetermined time interval following said inverting step.

32. The method as set forth in claim 30, wherein said inverting step includes allowing a uniform volume rate of flow of liquid from the container regardless of the quantity of liquid therein.

33. A method as set forth in claim 30, wherein the indicia comprises at least one electrically conductive region, said sensing step including detecting the presence of the region.

34. A method as set forth in claim 30, wherein said indicia has an optical characteristic, said sensing step including optically detecting the presence of said characteristic.

35. A method as set forth in claim 30, wherein the shape of a portion of the container defines said indicia, said sensing step including detecting the presence of said shape.

36. A method as set forth in claim 30, wherein said outlet is closed after a predetermined time, thereby abruptly shutting off the liquid flow from said outlet.

37. A method as set forth in claim 30, wherein said indicia is disposed on the outer surface of the contamer.

38. A method of dispensing liquids from a group of normally upright bottles capable of being individually hand-held, inverted into liquid-pouring positions and returned to normally upright positions comprising: providing a normally closed outlet in the neck of each bottle, respectively, with each bottle having a particular coding indicia thereon; selecting and manually holding a bottle from said group; inverting the selected bottle while the bottle is hand-held; sensing the indicia on the bottle; generating a code signal in response to the sensing of the indicia with the code signal being characteristic of the indicia of the selected bottle; storing the code signal to indicate the dispensing of a unit quantity of liquid from the selected bottle; and opening the outlet of the selected bottle for a predetermined period of time and when the bottle is inverted to allow said unit volume of liquid to be dispensed therefrom; and returning the bottle to its normal upright position after the sensing, generating, storing and opening steps.

.39. A method as set forth in claim 38, wherein the inverting step is performed at any one of a number of locations with a spherical region having a radius greater than l,0 foot.

40. An actuator for a valve having a shiftable, magnetically permeable valve member and means thereon defining a code therefor comprising: a body; a coil wound on said body and adapted to provide a first magnetic field to shift said valve member when the valve is adjacent to the body; and a second coil on the body and surrounded by the first coil, the second coil being responsive to the code-defining means of said valve for permitting a signal representing the presence of said code-defining means to be generated.

41. An actuator as set forth in claim 40, wherein is included a coiled. retractile electrical cable coupled to the coils for connecting the same to circuitry remote therefrom.

42. An actuator for a valve having a shiftable, magnetically permeable valve member and at least one electrically conductive member thereon defining a code therefor comprising: a tubular core; a first coil wound on said core and adapted to provide a first maginetic field to shift said valve member when the valve is adjacent to the core; and a number of second coils axially spaced from each other and coupled to said core, each second coil being disposed on said core to cause the magnetic field of the second coil to be concentrated in a region adjacent to the inner surface of the core, whereby the magnetic field of each second coil can be affected by the outer portion of a corresponding electrically conductive, code-defining member of said valve to thereby permit a signal representing the presence of said code-defining member to be generated.

43. A coding system for a liquor-containing bottle adapted to be used in a computerized accounting system comprising: a tubular body having a fluid passage therethrough and adapted to be mounted on the neck of a bottle to permit liquor to be poured therefrom through said passage when the bottle is tilted into a pouring position, said body having a number of code memberreceiving positions along the same; at least one electrically conductive code member mounted on the body at axially spaced locations thereon and in at least partially surrounding relationship to said passage; a coil for each member-receiving position, respectively; a tu' bular, open end core adapted to receive said body therewithin, the coils being wound on said core and disposed thereon to cause the magnetic field of the coil to be concentrated in a region adjacent to the inner surface of the core whereby the magnetic field of each coil is inductively coupled to the outer portion of a corresponding code member; and means coupled with said coils for providing an indication of the presence of each code member.

44. A coding system for a liquor-containing bottle adapted to be used in a computerized accounting system comprising: a tubular body having a fluid passage therethrough and adapted to be mounted on the neck of a bottle to permit liquor to be poured therefrom through said passage when the bottle is tilted into a pouring position, said body having a number of code member-receiving positions along the same; at least one electrically conductive code member mounted on the body at axially spaced locations thereon and in at least partially surrounding relationship to said passage; a coil for each member-receiving position, respectively; means coupled with the coils for supporting the same, the body and said supporting means being movable relative to each other and into proximity with each other to cause each coil to be inductively coupled with a corresponding member; means for generating code signals corresponding to respective coils a number of times to indicate the presence of respective code members; means for storing a first set of said code signals; and means for comparing the stored code signals with code signals generated subsequent thereto, whereby a correlation between the stored and subsequent code signals indicates the correctness of the code snesing and thereby the verification of the correct sensing of the valve coding.

45. A coding system for a liquor-containing bottle adapted to be used in a computerized accounting system comprising: a tubular body having a fluid passage therethrough and adapted to be mounted on the neck of a bottle to permit liquor to be poured therefrom through said passage when the bottle is tilted into a pouring position, said body having a number of code member-receiving positions along the same; at least one electrically conductive code member mounted on the body at axially spaced locations thereon and in at least partially surrounding relationship to said passage; a coil for each memberreceiving position, respectively; means coupled with the coils for supporting the same, said body and said supporting means being movable relative to each other and into proximity to each other to cause each coil to be inductively coupled with a corresponding member; a resonant circuit for each coil, respectively, each code member at a corresponding code member-receiving position being in proximity to a respective coil when the body is adjacent to the coil supporting means, the presence of each code member being operable to cause a change in the rate of decay of the oscillations of the magnetic field in the corresponding coil, there being means for applying a current pulse to each resonant circuit of each coil to create current oscillations therein; means for detecting the amplitude of the oscillations during a predetermined time interval; means for generating a code signal in response to a predetermined amplitude of oscillations detected during said time interval; and means coupled with said sensing means for providing an indication of the presence of the code member.

46. A coding system as set forth in claim 45, wherein is included a decoder responsive to the code signals of the coils, and a plurality of storage devices coupled to

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Classifications
U.S. Classification222/1, 222/129.3
International ClassificationG01F13/00, G07F7/02, B67D3/00, B67D1/00, G07F13/02, B67D7/34
Cooperative ClassificationG01F13/006, B67D7/346, B67D2001/0811, B67D2210/00144, G06Q20/342, G07F13/025, B67D3/0051, B67D3/0077, G07F7/025, B67D3/0006
European ClassificationG06Q20/342, G07F7/02E, B67D3/00N, B67D3/00R6, G01F13/00C, B67D3/00B2, G07F13/02B, B67D7/34C2