|Publication number||USRE40171 E1|
|Application number||US 10/377,535|
|Publication date||Mar 25, 2008|
|Filing date||Feb 27, 2003|
|Priority date||Jan 26, 1998|
|Also published as||CA2318454A1, CA2318454C, CN1125940C, CN1289398A, DE69931466D1, DE69931466T2, DE69937915D1, EP1051581A1, EP1051581A4, EP1051581B1, WO1999037948A1|
|Publication number||10377535, 377535, US RE40171 E1, US RE40171E1, US-E1-RE40171, USRE40171 E1, USRE40171E1|
|Inventors||Christopher Lee Halasz, Stephen Sandor Halasz|
|Original Assignee||Mag Instrument, Inc.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (99), Referenced by (4), Classifications (22), Legal Events (2)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application is a continuation-in-part of application Ser. No. 09/013,078 filed Jan. 26, 1998; now U.S. Pat. No. 6,354,715.
The present invention relates to the field of flashlights and more specifically to hand held portable battery operated flashlights.
Flashlights generally include a battery chamber having an end cap for retaining one or more batteries, a light bulb electrically connected to the one or more batteries and a reflector for reflecting the light from the light bulb in a particular direction. The electrical connection between the batteries and the light bulb usually includes a switch mechanism for selectively providing electrical energy from the batteries to the light bulb and, therefore enabling the flashlight to be turned on and off. The primary function of flashlights is to provide a convenient portable storable light source which is capable of projecting light in a particular direction.
Some flashlights are capable of focusing and defocusing light projected by the flashlight by allowing the light bulb to be moved within the reflector along the reflector's optical axis. The reflector is typically a parabolic shaped reflector because such a reflector provides a theoretical focus of the light when the light bulb is positioned at the parabolic reflector's focal point. In this regard, light rays emanating from a light bulb positioned at the focal point of a parabolic reflector are reflected parallel to the parabolic reflector's optical axis. Referring to
The electrical energy to enable a flashlight to operate is usually provided by one battery, or two or more batteries in series arrangement, held within the battery chamber of the flashlight. When the charge in the batteries is depleted, a user will typically replace the batteries by removing the end cap, removing the old batteries from the battery chamber, inserting new batteries into the battery chamber, and replacing the end cap. However, when replacing multiple batteries in a flashlight, the possibility arises that a user may improperly position the batteries in a nonseries arrangement. For example, a user may improperly align the new batteries such that the positive poles of the batteries face each other, or may comingle the old batteries with the new batteries and misalign a new battery with an old battery. Misaligning the batteries may have undesired consequences, for example explosion causing physical injury, to a user of the flashlight.
Additionally, batteries often naturally emit hydrogen gas. As such, when batteries are contained within the flashlight's battery chamber, the possibility arises that hydrogen gas emitted by the batteries may become trapped within the flashlight. In some circumstances, a defective battery will emit high quantities of hydrogen gas. As a consequence, hydrogen gas may accumulate within the flashlight, thus raising the possibility of undesired consequences to a user of the flashlight, for example explosion causing physical injury.
Finally, parts of the flashlight sometimes require replacement. For example, the flashlight's light bulb will require replacement when the light bulb's filament burns out, which is often discovered when the flashlight is needed (e.g., when there are no other sources of light, including for example electrical power outages which occur at night or darkness when camping outdoors). Flashlights usually include a spare light bulb positioned on the interior of the end cap. Replacing a burned out bulb with a bulb positioned on the end cap is difficult, especially in low or no light conditions. For example, during a power outage, replacing the light bulb in a typical flashlight would require a user to remove the end cap, locate and grasp a small spare light bulb on the end cap without allowing the batteries to fall out of the flashlight, replace the end cap, remove the head assembly, replace the burned out bulb and replace the head assembly, all in darkness.
It is an objective of the present invention to provided an improved flashlight having improved switching and focusing capabilities.
It is another objective of the present invention to provide an improved flashlight which maximizes the light gathered from a light bulb, optimumly focuses the gathered light into a projected light beam and minimizes the light void within the light beam throughout the range of focus.
In accordance with one embodiment of the present invention, an improved flashlight is provided having an end cap, chamber, head assembly and lamp holder assembly. In one embodiment of the invention, the head assembly includes an elliptical reflector to increase the amount of light reflected by the flashlight when a light source is positioned within the elliptical reflector. Preferably, the elliptical reflector has an eccentricity value of no less than about 0.80 and no more than about 0.99. Preferably, the elliptical reflector has a vertex curvature value of no less than about 2.0 and no more than about 5.2. In one arrangement, the elliptical reflector has an eccentricity value of about 0.96 and a vertex curvature of about 3.1.
In accordance with another embodiment of the present invention, a flashlight having an elliptical reflector is matched with either a negative or concave lens, or a flat or planar lens. In this regard, the focusing and light gathering characteristics of the flashlight are optimized when the flashlight's elliptical reflector is matched with a negative or flat lens. Preferably, the flashlight's elliptical reflector is matched with a lens having an effective focal length no, greater than about −2.5″. In one arrangement, an elliptical reflector having an eccentricity value of about 0.96 and a vertex curvature of about 3.1 is matched with a lens having an effective focal length of about 0″.
In accordance with another embodiment of the present invention, the head assembly includes a hyperbolic reflector to increase the amount of light reflected by flashlight when a light source is positioned within the reflector. Preferably, the hyperbolic reflector has an eccentricity value of no less than about 1.01 and no more than about 1.25. Preferably, the hyperbolic reflector has a vertex curvature value of no less than about 2.0 and no more than about 7.0. In one arrangement, the hyperbolic reflector has an eccentricity value of about 1.04 and a vertex curvature of about 3.3.
In accordance with another embodiment of the present invention, a flashlight having a hyperbolic reflector is matched with either a positive or convex lens, or a flat or planar lens. In this regard, the focusing and light gathering characteristics of the flashlight are increased when the flashlight's hyperbolic reflector is matched with a positive or flat lens. Preferably, the hyperbolic reflector is matched with a lens having an effective focal length no less than about 2.5″. In one arrangement, a hyperbolic reflector having an eccentricity value of about 1.04 and a vertex curvature of about 3.3 is matched with a lens having an effective focal length of about 0″.
It is another objective of the present invention to provide a flashlight with an improved electrical connection between the batteries and the light source. In accordance with another embodiment of the present invention, the flashlight includes electrode connections which substantially reduce the likelihood that electrical energy will be conducted from batteries which are improperly aligned within the flashlight. In this regard, the electrode connection intended to contact the negative pole of the battery includes a non-conductive portion at the center of the electrode connection and a conductive portion at the perimeter of the electrode connection. As such, in the circumstance wherein a battery is inserted into the flashlight with the positive pole facing the electrode connection, the positive pole will only contact the non-conductive portion, and not the conductive portion, of the electrode connection. Additionally, the electrode connection intended to contact the positive pole of the battery includes a conductive spring having a nonconductive coating. As such, in the circumstance wherein a battery is inserted into the flashlight with the negative pole facing the electrode connection, the negative pole only will contact the nonconductive coated portion.
It is another objective of the present invention to provide a flashlight with a light holder assembly that facilitates lamp bulb replacement. In one embodiment of the present invention, the lamp holder assembly includes a lamp socket having a lamp guide which provides a guide for installing lamp bulbs into the lamp socket and also provides a secure position for the lamp bulb. In accordance with one embodiment of the present invention, the guide facilitates replacing lamps in less than desirable light conditions, as well as protects the lamp from receiving impact shocks when the flashlight is jarred.
It is another objective of the present invention to provide a flashlight capable of maintaining a spare lamp bulb in close proximity to the flashlight's light bulb thus providing for the efficient and easy replacement of the lamp bulb when needed. In accordance with one embodiment of the present invention, the flashlight includes a lamp holder assembly which includes a notch for receiving and holding a spare lamp. As such, a spare lamp is easily accessible by simply removing the head assembly from the chamber and all that is required to replace the lamp bulb, is removal of the lamp bulb in the lamp socket, removing the spare lamp, and inserting the spare lamp into the lamp socket. Preferably, the lamp holder assembly further includes a fluorescent coating or additive which illuminates light in otherwise dark conditions, thereby facilitating lamp bulb replacement in less than desirable light conditions.
In another embodiment, the flashlight comprises a chamber for retaining one or more batteries, a lamp, electrical coupling for holding said lamp and selectively electrically coupling the lamp and one or more batteries, and a head assembly attached to the chamber and rotatable relative to the chamber to cause the electrical coupling to selectively electrically couple the lamp and one or more batteries retained by the chamber. In this regard, the lamp holder assembly moves inside the chamber when the flashlight is turned “off” or “on.” The lamp holder assembly includes a lamp holder, a conductive spring, a switch plate, a detent lever, a detent ball a switch contact, a spring contact, a conductive strip, and a strip support. When assembled, the lamp holder assembly is secured axially and rotatable relative to the chamber. The head portion of the flashlight is assembled to the chamber by attaching the assembled head assembly to the chamber such that the lamp is positioned within the first central opening of the reflector. As a consequence, the head assembly is removably attached to the chamber. When fully seated, the head assembly engages the switch plate, and the rotation of the head assembly will cause the lamp holder assembly to rotate. The lamp holder assembly is rotatable among three detents. The first occurs when the head assembly is removed or attached to the chamber. The second occurs when the head assembly is in the “off” position. The third occurs when the head assembly is in the “on” position. The detents are caused by the detent ball being positioned in one of three slots formed on the outer edge of the chamber. As a result, the flashlight is moveable between the “on” and “off” detent positions by the radial movement of the head assembly. The switch contact does not contact the conductive strip in the “off” position. The switch contact contacts the conductive strip in the “on” position. The “on” detent occurs when the detent ball rolls to a second slot on the outer edge of the chamber. Notably, the detent mechanism is physically separated from the switching mechanism.
In another embodiment of the flashlight, the spare lamp is held secure by the lamp holder assembly until the user of the flashlight rotates the lamp holder assembly to align a spare lamp opening with the spare lamp.
The chamber 20, which is shown in
The lamp holder assembly 50 includes two embodiments. In either embodiment, the lamp holder assembly 50 is positioned at the second end 220 of the chamber 20. In the first embodiment, the lamp holder assembly 50 does not move inside the second end 220 of the chamber 20 when the flashlight 10 is turned “off” or “on.” In this regard and referring to
The lamp holder 510, with the switch lever 530 and second lever 540 assembled on the lamp holder 510, is next inserted into the second end 220 of the chamber 20. The lamp holder 510 includes tabs 511, a switch slot 512 and a second slot 513. The switch lever 530 includes tabs 532 and slots 534, and the second lever 540 includes tabs 542 and slots 544. The switch lever's 530 slots 534 mate with the switch slot 512 to allow the switch lever 530 to slide along the switch slot 512. The second lever's 540 slots 544 mate with the second slot 513 to allow the second lever 540 to slide along the second slot 513. Referencing
The head portion of the flashlight 10 is assembled by attaching the assembled head assembly 40 to the chamber 20, having the lamp holder assembly 50 assembled in the chamber 20, such that the lamp 70 is positioned within the first central opening 442 of the reflector 440. In this regard, the head assembly 40 is removably attached to the chamber 20 at the second end 220.
When fully assembled and holding batteries 60, 62 in proper alignment, the flashlight 10 is capable of selectively electrically coupling the lamp 70 to the batteries 60, 62. The chamber 20 includes a conductive strip 590 along the length of the chamber 20, between the first end 210 and the second end 220. The conductive strip 590 is supported at the first end 210 of the chamber 20 by the strip support 592. Referring to
The lamp holder assembly 50 selectively electrically connects the lamp 70 to properly positioned batteries 60, 62 in accordance with the radial movement of the head assembly 40. Referencing
As shown in
The movement of the lamp 70 within the reflector 440 to focus and defocus the light emanating from the lamp 70 is independent from the radial movement of the head assembly 40 to turn the flashlight 10 “on” or “off.” When assembled, as shown in
As indicated above and with reference to
As described above and with general reference to
When fully seated, the guides 413 of the head assembly 40 engage the slots 634 on the switch plate 630, and the rotation of the head assembly 40 will cause the lamp holder assembly 500 to rotate. The head assembly 40 is then rotated in the direction 288 to a second detent, which is caused by the detent ball 650 being positioned in a second slot 652 on the outer edge of the chamber 20 at the second end 220. The flashlight 10 is in the “off” position at this position.
When fully assembled and holding batteries 60, 62 in proper alignment, the flashlight 10 is capable of selectively electrically coupling the lamp 70 to the batteries 60, 62. Referencing
The spare lamp 71 is held secure by the switch plate 630, until the user of the flashlight 10 rotates the lamp holder assembly 500 to align the spare lamp opening 632 with the spare lamp 71. Referencing
Notably, the reflector 440 and lens 460 combination accomplishes one of the objectives of the present invention, namely to provide improved light gathering from the lamp 70, optimum focus spot and minimal light void within the light projected by the reflector 440 throughout the range of the lamp's 70 movement within interior of the reflector 440. In this regard, one embodiment of the present invention uses conic reflectors 440 other than a parabolic reflector.
The vertex curvature (i.e., the actual shape) of the reflector 440 is determined using the following equation for a Vertex Cartesian coordinate system:
wherein C is the vertex curvature, r is the radial distance from the cylindrical center of the optic, and S is equal to unity minus the square of the eccentricity. In this regard, it was discovered that the use of nonparabolic reflectors minimized the light void which is apparent when a parabolic reflector was used, as shown in FIG. 1B. Additionally, it was also discovered that matching nonparbolic reflectors with an appropriate lens curvature optimized the direction of the rays emanating from the nonparabolic reflector. For elliptical reflectors (i.e., 0<eccentricity<1), it was determined that the use of a negative or a flat lens caused a more uniform and intense ray pattern when the light source was placed at the optimum optical focal point. For hyperbolic reflectors (i.e., eccentricity>1), it was determined that the use of a positive or flat lens caused a more uniform and intense ray pattern when the light source was placed at the optimum optical focal point.
Referring to the table shown in
For each given eccentricity and lens combination, the vertex curvature was adjusted to attain the minimum focused spot size and void throughout the range of focus and the maximum subtended angle of light gathered by the reflector 440. This was performed for each value of eccentricity by taking a sample of lenses with effective focal lengths of no less absolute value than about 2.5″, running simulations wherein the vertex curvature was increased until no void appeared when the lamp 70 was completely defocused (i.e. the lamp 70 exits the reflector 440 at either the first central opening 442 for a elliptical reflector, or the second central opening 444 for a hyperbolic reflector). The value of vertex curvature was not increased beyond what which was reasonably necessary to remove the void, because increasing the vertex curvature further reduced the potential magnification of the lamp's 70 light beam as the lamp 70 was moved away from the focal point of the reflector 440.
In view of the simulations and the criteria specified, the elliptical reflector, preferably has an eccentricity value of no less than about 0.80 and no more than about 0.99. Preferably, the elliptical reflector has a vertex curvature value of no less than about 2.0 and no more than about 5.2. In one arrangement, the elliptical reflector has an eccentrically value of about 0.96 and a vertex curvature of about 3.1. In one embodiment of the present invention, a flashlight 10 having an elliptical reflector is matched with a negative or flat lens. Preferably, an elliptical reflector is matched with a lens having an effective focal length of no greater than about −2.5″ and no more than about 0″. In one arrangement, an elliptical reflector 44 having an eccentricity value of about 0.96 and a vertex curvature of about 3.1 is matched with a lens 45 having an effective focal length of about 0″.
In accordance with another embodiment of the present invention, the head assembly 40 includes a hyperbolic reflector. Preferably, the hyperbolic reflector has an eccentricity value of no less than about 1.01 and no more than about 1.25. Preferably, the hyperbolic reflector has a vertex curvature value of no less than about 2.0 and no more than about 7.2. In one arrangement, the hyperbolic reflector has an eccentricity value of about 1.04 and a vertex curvature of about 3.3. In another embodiment, a flashlight 10 having a hyperbolic reflector is matched with a positive or flat lens. Preferably, a hyperbolic reflector is matched with a lens having an effective focal length no less than about 2.5″. In one arrangement, a hyperbolic reflector 440 having an eccentricity value of about 1.04 and a vertex curvature of about 3.3 is matched with a lens 460 having an effective focal length of about 0″.
The foregoing description of the present invention has been presented for purposes of illustration and description. The description is not intended to limit the invention to the form disclosed herein. Consequently, the invention and modifications commensurate with the above teachings and skill and knowledge of the relevant art are within the scope of the present invention. It is intended that the appended claims be construed to include all alternative embodiments as permitted by the prior art.
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|U.S. Classification||362/205, 362/203, 362/202, 362/187|
|International Classification||F21V9/16, F21L4/00, F21V7/04, F21V14/04, F21L4/04, F21V23/04|
|Cooperative Classification||F21V23/0414, F21V7/04, F21V14/045, F21L4/005, F21V9/16, F21V19/047|
|European Classification||F21V19/04S, F21L4/00P, F21V23/04L, F21V14/04L, F21V9/16, F21V7/04|
|Aug 20, 2008||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 8
|Oct 8, 2012||REMI||Maintenance fee reminder mailed|