Title:
DISPENSING APPARATUS FOR SEQUENTIALLY DISCHARGING TOKENS FROM AN INCLINED STACK OF TOKENS
United States Patent 3662770


Abstract:
This disclosure relates to a coin dispenser. A "U" shaped tray is angularly mounted with the lower end slightly spaced from a stop plate to define a discharge opening. The tray opens upwardly with the coins disposed in the tray with one or more backing balls continuously urging them downwardly into clamping engagement against the stop plate. A wiper blade is centrally secured to a motor shaft to one side of the discharge opening such that the shaft rotation moves the opposite ends of the blade through the discharge space or opening.



Inventors:
COHEN RONALD S
Application Number:
04/779836
Publication Date:
05/16/1972
Filing Date:
11/29/1968
Assignee:
BEHAVIORAL CONTROLS INC.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
221/231, 453/53
International Classes:
G07D1/00; (IPC1-7): G07D1/00
Field of Search:
221/231,277,236,258 133
View Patent Images:
US Patent References:
3048181Control for coin dispensing apparatus1962-08-07Quinn
3040617Coin viewing device1962-06-26Rankin
2778368Auxiliary coin changing machine1957-01-22Jaskowiak
2457187Dispensing device1948-12-28Steiner
2376561Shelf for coin-controlled vending refrigerators1945-05-22Smith
2262322Coin changer and coin control device1941-11-11Harris
1543737Automatic electric toaster1925-06-30Thornton, Jr.
1011272N/A1911-12-12Teeter et al.



Primary Examiner:
Reeves, Robert B.
Assistant Examiner:
Scherbel, David A.
Claims:
I claim

1. A dispensing apparatus for sequentially discharging tokens from a stack of disc-like tokens, comprising

2. The dispensing apparatus of claim 1 having means to adjust the spacing between said stop wall member and said token carrier.

3. The dispensing apparatus of claim 1 for sequentially discharging generally flat disc-like tokens wherein said token carrier means includes an inclined tray adapted to receive tokens of differing diameter, and said weight members urging said tokens outwardly includes a plurality of follower ball members of differing diameters to selectively vary the height of the force applied to the tokens.

4. The dispensing apparatus of claim 1 wherein said token carrier means includes an elongated tray having a generally U-shaped cross section opening upwardly, means to angularly mount said tray in a vertical plane, said stop wall member including a plate extending normally to the bottom end of said tray and in spaced relation to the bottom end of said tray and defining said wall member, said spaced relation being at least as great as the thickness of a thickest token and less than the thickness of a pair of adjacent tokens, and said blade-like member being a rotating flat blade moving between the tray and plate to remove the token abutting said plate.

5. The dispensing apparatus of claim 4 wherein said rotating flat blade includes a central axis of rotation located to one side of the tray whereby each succeeding 180° of rotation moves the opposite ends of the blade between said carrier and said stop wall member, and unidirectional drive means connected to said rotating flat blade.

6. The dispensing apparatus of claim 1 wherein said blade-like member is a unidirectional rotating flat blade having a central axis of rotation whereby each 180° of rotation moves alternate ends of the blade between said carrier and said stop wall member.

7. The dispensing apparatus of claim 1 wherein said blade-like member is a rotatable blade and including an electric drive motor coupled to rotate said rotatable blade, start means to close an energizing circuit for said drive motor, and stop means actuated by said blade to open and reset said energizing circuit.

8. The dispensing apparatus of claim 7 wherein said blade includes a central axis of rotation whereby each 180° of rotation moves alternate ends of the blade between said carrier and said stop wall member, and said stop means includes a switch having an operating means located within the path of said blade and located to stop said blade adjacent the space between said carrier and said stop wall member.

9. A dispensing apparatus for sequentially discharging tokens from a stack of tokens comprising a token carrier means including a tray having a U-shaped cross section generally corresponding to the diameter of the tokens to be discharged, a stop wall member including a flat plate mounted perpendicularly of said tray and spaced slightly outwardly of the lowermost end of the tray, said tray opening upwardly to receive said tokens and extending angularly downwardly toward the stop wall member, spring brackets mounting said tray, a plurality of loading balls of varying diameter disposed in said tray and resting on the top of the token stack within said tray, adjustment means connected to said tray to move the tray on said spring brackets and thereby adjust the spacing between the tray and the flat plate, said transfer means including a flat blade disposed immediately adjacent the clamping face of said flat plate, and a rotating drive connected to the center of said blade and including a unidirectional motor drive means for sequentially moving the token abutting said flat plate.

10. The dispensing apparatus of claim 9 having start and latch switch means for establishing the energization of said motor drive means, a disconnect switch means connected in circuit with said start and latch switch means to terminate energization of said motor drive means, and means to mount said disconnect switch means in the path of said rotating blade.

Description:
This invention relates to an Article Dispensing Apparatus and particularly to such apparatus for sequentially dispensing tokens in the form of generally flat disc-like members such as simulated coins and the like.

Tokens and similar articles may be distributed as rewards or prizes in connection with teaching of children and experimenting with behavioral control of animals. The rewards or incentives are employed to stimulate certain activities or responses and to further act as reinforcement for received responses. For example, in the teaching of handicapped and mentally retarded children, coins or other similar tokens may automatically or manually be distributed to the children as a reward for certain conduct and activity. The tokens in turn can be employed by the children for purchasing desired articles and the like. Although any item may be employed as a token, coins and simulated coins provide a convenient and highly accepted token form.

Although prior art token dispensers have been and are available, they all have certain deficiencies. For example, the particular token to be distributed may vary from application to application or may be varied within any given program. The token dispensing devices of the prior art do not readily accommodate various forms of tokens. Further, the dispensing apparatus should be conveniently and readily loaded and should provide reliable feeding of the tokens in the desired sequence without jamming.

The present invention is particularly directed to a relatively simple construction of a reliable token dispensing apparatus which is adapted to dispense a plurality of different sized tokens and to reliably discharge them in sequence without jamming or other manfunctioning.

Generally, in accordance with the present invention, a stack of the tokens are slidably mounted in a suitable carrier. Backing means continuously urge the stack of tokens or similar articles against a stop means which is mounted in slightly spaced relation to the carrier. The stack of tokens are thereby clamped against the stop means to support the one end of the stack within a discharge space between the carrier and the stop means. A wiper means is mounted for controlled and complete movement through the free space and is operative to remove the token immediately adjacent the stop means through the space and into a receiving means. The backing means moves the stack of tokens toward the stop means to clamp the immediately succeeding adjacent token in the stack against the stop means after the wiper means has moved completely through the clamping area. Applicant has found that a unidirectional rotation of the wiping means completely through or past the stack for each token removed in combination with the loading of the stack of tokens as to hold the one token against the stop means for removal provides a particularly reliable apparatus and system for sequentially distributing a plurality of tokens.

In a particularly novel construction for the distribution of coin or simulated coin tokens, the carrier is formed as a generally "U" shaped tray member which is mounted opening upwardly. The carrier is angularly mounted with the lower end slightly spaced from a stop plate. Coins or other similar flat, thin, circular tokens are disposed in the angularly related tray with a backing means continuously urging them downwardly into clamping engagement against the stop plate. Applicant has found a plurality of different diameter balls constitute a convenient and reliable backing means for forcing the tokens against the stop plate. The tray structure will accommodate tokens of widely varying diameter and the various sized loading balls provide a means to maintain a force adjacent the center of the tokens. This, in turn, substantially reduces the tendency for the coins to move out of the discharge plane of the opening between the carrier and the stop plate and thus in essence maintain them in a plane parallel to the discharge opening. A wiper blade is centrally secured to a shaft and journaled to one side of the discharge opening. Suitable drive means are coupled to rotate the shaft in a given direction with respect to the discharge space for the discharge of the tokens. The drive means may be driven through any suitable control means, either manually or automatically controlled in response to some other device. The control system may include a triggered start means in combination with an automatic disconnect responsive to selected movement of the wiper blade.

The present invention has been found to provide an extremely reliable and versatile token dispenser which can be employed with tokens of widely varying dimensions. In a particular aspect, the device provides apparatus which is readily loaded and operated.

The drawing furnished herewith illustrates the best mode presently contemplated by the inventor for carrying out the subject invention and discloses the above advantages and features as well as others which will be readily understood from the following description.

In the drawing:

FIG. 1 is a front elevational view of a token dispenser constructed in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 2 is an enlarged view of the dispenser shown in FIG. 1 with the front wall structure removed;

FIG. 3 is a plan view taken generally on line 3--3 of FIG. 2 with the outer housing structure removed to more clearly illustrate the inner details of construction;

FIG. 4 is a view taken generally on line 4--4 of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is an enlarged view of the tokens and loading balls shown in FIGS. 2 through 4; and

FIG. 6 is a schematic circuit diagram of a control for the motor drive shown in the illustrated embodiment of the invention.

Referring to the drawing and particularly to FIG. 1, the illustrated token dispenser is a totally enclosed unit having an outer housing 1 with a hinged upper front wall 2 which permits access to the unit. A push-button actuating unit 3 is connected through an electrical control cable 4 for selective operation of the dispenser to dispense coins or coin-like tokens 5. A token access opening 6 is provided in the front wall of the outer housing 1. In the operation of the illustrated embodiment of the invention, the control personnel is provided with the push-button actuating unit 3 and whenever it is desired to dispense a token, the unit is actuated.

The front wall is removably slidably mounted by interlocking members 7 to the sidewalls of the housing 1 and may be locked in place through a suitable key lock unit 8 to allow controlled access to the inner construction for purposes of token loading, maintenance and the like.

Referring particularly to FIGS. 2 and 3, the inner construction of the illustrated embodiment of the invention is shown. Generally, a coin chamber 9 is mounted in alignment with the opening 6. A token tray 10 is mounted above the coin chamber 9 and is adapted to hold a stack of the circular disc-like tokens 5. The tokens 5 are slidably mounted within the token tray 10 and are urged downwardly toward and into engagement with a stop wall or plate 11 which extends perpendicularly of the tray 10. A wiper blade 12 is rotatably mounted to the one side of the tray 10 and is adapted to be rotated to move between the tray 10 and the stop plate 11 and thereby wipe a single token 5 from the stack of tokens and cause the removed token to move into and down a chute structure 13 which is coupled to the coin chamber 9.

More particularly in the illustrated embodiment of the invention the token tray 10 is generally an elongated "U" shaped member which opens upwardly within the housing 1. The tray 10 is angularly oriented in a vertical plane and includes an inner integral mounting wall 14 extending upwardly from a curved token channel 15 which opens upwardly within the housing 1. The outer or opposite edge of the channel 15 includes an angularly outwardly extended guide lip 16 for convenience of loading the tray.

The tray 10 is mounted opening upwardly within the housing and extending angularly from the upper left corner of the housing 1 downwardly into spaced relation to the bottom wall and opposite sidewall of the housing 1. The tray 10 is secured within the housing by longitudinally spaced mounting brackets 17 and 18, both of which are generally "U" shaped members having one leg interconnected to the aligned portion of the integral mounting wall 14 and the opposite leg interconnected to a modular mounting wall or plate 19. The brackets 17 and 18 can be connected to the respective members in any desired manner and are shown interconnected to each other by suitable nut and bolt units 20. The modular mounting plate 19 in particular is secured to the back wall of the housing 1 by a plurality of stud members interconnected to the back wall of the housing and projecting forwardly therefrom and through suitable openings in the plate 19.

The stop wall 11 in the form of a flat plate member includes a mounting flange similarly bolted to the plate 19, as most clearly shown in FIG. 3. The stop wall 11 extends laterally outwardly in front of the lowermost end of the tray 9 which is provided with a planar end. The wall 11 is slightly spaced from the planar end to define a discharge space or opening therebetween which generally is at least as great as the thickness of any given token 5 and somewhat less than the thickness of two immediately adjacent tokens 5 in the stack.

The stack of tokens 5 are urged downwardly into engagement with the stop plate or wall 11 by a pair of loading or clamping balls 21 and 22 disposed in the tray and engaging the uppermost end of the stack. The balls 21 and 22 are of a different diameter and can therefore be arranged to establish a generally centrally located engagement with the axis of the token stack. This maintains a proper movement of the tokens 5 without cocking of the coins. Although two balls 21 and 22 are illustrated, any desired number can be employed depending upon the variation in the diameter of tokens to be accommodated. Generally, applicant has found that two loading balls 21 and 22 will accommodate a sufficiently wide variation in tokens to provide a practical form of loading means. Further, by minimizing the number of balls employed, the length of the tray 10 available for receiving tokens is correspondingly greater.

The tray 10 and the loading means conveniently accommodate tokens of widely varying diameters.

The dispenser can also employ tokens of significantly varying thickness and for purposes of illustration, the tokens 5 are shown varying in thickness and in diameter. Generally, for any one given application, a single thickness or diameter token will normally be employed.

The discharge space between the tray 10 and the stop plate 11 is preferably made adjustable to more readily accommodate tokens 5 of differing thickness. The tray 10 may be mounted for limited relative movement relative to the plate 11 for this purpose. In the illustrated embodiment of the invention, the mounting brackets 17 and 18 define spring arms permitting slight pivotal movement of the tray 10. An adjustment means is provided secured between the tray 10 and the plate 11 including brackets 23 secured to the underside of the guide lip 16 and the adjacent aligned portion of plate 11. An adjustment bolt 24 extends through opening in the brackets 23 with a nut 25 threaded onto the outer end of the adjustment bolt 24. The threading of the nut 25 onto the bolt 24 controls the positioning of the tray 10 with respect to plate 11. A lock nut 26 may be provided to positively lock the tray with the desired spacing. The slight angular movement of the tray as a result of the mounting brackets 17 and 18 will somewhat vary the uniformity of the spacing between the tray 10 and the stop plate 11. This has not been found, however, to in any way interfere with the proper and reliable movement of the end token 5 as a result of rotation of the wiper blade 12. Generally, the spacing is selected to be slightly larger than the maximum thickness of a token 5, but slightly less than the minimum thickness of the two adjacent tokens. As a result, rotation of wiper blade immediately adjacent the stop plate 11 forces the aligned token 5 from the stack without essentially disturbing the adjacent token 5 which then moves into engagement with the stop plate 11 as the blade 12 moves through the discharge spacing.

The wiper blade 12 in the illustrated embodiment of the invention is driven from an electric motor 27 which is mounted to the opposite of the stop plate 11. A motor driven shaft 28 extends through an opening in the stop plate and is coupled to the center of the wiper blade 12 by a suitable coupling 29 to provide simultaneous rotation of shaft and blade. The shaft is interconnected to the motor 27 through a suitable gear drive 30 to provide the desired rotational speed of the wiper blade 12 in response to the energization of the motor.

The blade 12 is located with its center of rotation disposed to one side of the tray 10 and generally with the center disposed immediately below the tray 10. The rotation of the blade 12 therefore results in outer ends sequentially moving through the discharge space to thereby wipe the end token 5 from the stack. The center mounting of the blade 12 permits each rotation through each 180 degrees to remove a single token. A single ended blade or a blade with additional arms may be provided with the angular rotation of the blade selected to correspond to the movement through the discharge space.

In the illustrated embodiment of the invention, the removed token 5 drops down the chute structure 13 and into the chamber. In the illustrated embodiment, the chute structure 13 includes the lower portion of angularly related stop plate 11 and coupling plate 31 integrally formed to a lower portion of the sidewall of token chamber 9. The coupling plate extends outwardly and upwardly from the lower edge of an opening in chamber 9 to the lower end of the stop plate. A pair of "L" shaped sidewalls 32 are secured respectively to the face of the stop plate 11 and to the plate 31 to guide the token 5 downwardly and through the sidewall opening of the token chamber 9. The movement of the blade 12 is, of course, selected such that once the token 5 has been removed from the stack, it falls freely down the chute structure 13 and from the path of the blade 12 which continues to rotate out of the path of the chute.

The coin chamber 9 is a generally rectangular forwardly opening box member having opposite side flanges 33 and 34 bolted or otherwise secured to the base of the housing 1. A glass or clear plastic covered opening 34 is provided in the top wall of the chamber with an overlying lamp 35 mounted in alignment and above the opening. A mounting and reflector bracket 36 supports the lamp 35 and directs the light into the coin chamber 9. Each time a token 5 is dispensed, the lamp 35 is illuminated to attract the attention of the recipient. For example, if the device is employed with deaf children, the illumination of lamp 35 attracts their attention.

Referring particular to FIG. 6, a schematic circuit is shown for controlling the motor 27 and the lamp 35 through the actuation of the push-button actuating unit 3. Suitable power lines 37 are interconnected to energize the motor 27 and the lamp 35, in parallel, through a set of series connected relay contacts 38-1 of a latch and control relay 38. During the period when the contacts 38-1 are held closed, the motor 27 operates to rotate the wiper blade 12 and the lamp 35 is energized to indicate the discharging of a token 15.

The latch and control relay 38 is connected to the power lines 37 in series with a switch or contacts 39 of the push-button actuating unit 3 and a motor operated disconnect switch 40. The switch 40 is normally closed such that the closing of the contacts 39 energize the relay 38 to close the contacts 38-1 and supply power to the motor 27 and lamp 35. A set of latch contacts 38-2 of the relay 38 are connected in parallel with the push-button contacts 39. Thus, the momentary closing of the contacts 39 energize the relay 38 which in turn closes the latch contacts 38-2 to maintain energization of the relay 38 until the disconnect switch 40 opens.

In the illustrated embodiment of the invention, the switch 40 forms a part of a micro-switch unit 41, shown in FIGS. 2 and 3. The micro-switch unit 41 is mounted to a top flange 41a integrally formed on the stop wall or plate 11 The switch unit 41 includes a switch arm 42 projecting forwardly over the edge of the plate 11 and into the path of the outermost ends of the wiper blade 12.

In the initial starting or standby position, the blade 12 has the one end spaced to the leading side of the switch arm 42. When the motor 27 is energized, the blade 12 rotates in a clockwise direction as viewed in FIG. 3 with the upper arm portion of the wiper blade 12 moving through the discharge opening or space and wiping the token 5 abutting plate 11 from the stack and into the discharge chute structure 13. The blade 12 continues to rotate through the chute area. As the blade 12 moves from the chute structure 13, the opposite end or arm portion of the blade 12 moves past the switch arm 42 and momentarily actuates and opens the switch 40 to de-energize the motor 27 and lamp 35. The inertia in the motor drive system and the blade 12 is sufficient to move the blade past the switch arm 42 and allow it to reset for subsequent energization of relay 38. Thus, the momentary opening of the switch 40 breaks the circuit through the relay 38 and the latch contacts 38-2 return to the normally open position. With the push-button actuating unit 3 released, the corresponding contacts 39 are open and prevent re-energization of the relay 38 when the switch 40 returns to the normally closed stand-by position.

The trailing edges of the opposite ends of the wiper blade 12 are preferably tapered as at 43 to present a minimum actuating width to the switch arm 42.

Consequently, very minimal coasting is required to move past the switch arm 42 and thereby provide the momentary actuation with the resulting opening and reclosing of the disconnect contacts.

The operation of the illustrated embodiment of the invention is summarized as follows:

To load the tray 10, the key lock unit 7 is released and the top hinged front wall 2 opened to expose the tray 10. The loading balls 21 and 22 are removed or pushed upwardly on the tray 10 and the tokens 5 dropped into the tray 10 with the principle plane of the tokens normal to the tray. The tokens 5 move downwardly into engagement with the stop wall or plate 11. The loading balls 21 and 22 are disposed in the tray with the proper sized ball located immediately adjacent the upper end of the stack to maintain the force on the stack generally centrally thereof. As the stack moves down, the following loading balls will positively prevent the cocking or jamming of tokens in the tray structure. The wall 2 is then closed and locked. When a token 5 is to be discharged, the push-button actuating unit 3 is actuated momentarily. This results in the energizing of the relay 38 which in turn closes the contact 38-1 to provide power simultaneously to the motor 27 and to the lamp 35 and to close the latching contacts 38-2 to maintain the energizing circuit. The motor 27 rotates the wiper blade 12 in a single direction and completely through the discharge opening or space between the trays and the stop plate 11 to remove a token 5 which drops down the chute structure 13 into the coin chamber 9. The complete one-way movement of the blade 12 which allows the following token 5 to be clamped against the wall or plate 11 has been found to be extremely important for reliable sequential operation. Although any number of blades might be employed, or an oscillatory motion might be employed with each directional movement removing a coin, the blade or similar member which removes the token must move completely through the space and allow the token to move into clamping engagement behind the trailing edge of the moving blade. The wiper blade 12 in the illustrated embodiment, rotates until the opposite end moves past the disconnect switch unit arm 42 to open the latching circuit. The token has thus dropped down into the coin chamber 9 and the illumination of the lamp 35 attracted the attention of the person who is to receive the token.

If it is desired to discharge a number of tokens in rapid sequence, the push-button actuating unit 3 may be held in the actuated position. Although the motor 27 will be momentarily de-energized, re-energization immediately follows the return of the disconnect switch 40 to the normally closed position. The dispenser continues to recycle and sequentially feeds tokens from the token stack into the coin chamber 9.

The tokens 5 may be formed of any suitable material. They may be conventional government coins, special tokens formed of metal, plastic, or any other suitable reasonably firm material. The apparatus has been employed to even discharge disc-like candies. Applicant has found that within reasonable limits, embossments on the surface of the tokens which might tend to form interlocking surfaces does not appreciably interfere with the proper and reliable operation of the system. This permits application of advertising identifying or other informational material to the tokens. However, sharp edges which may result from the embossment may define cutting edges which tend to wear the tray and the face of the stop plate.

Although the structure of the tray and the plate can be formed from any suitable material, it is preferably formed of a polished stainless steel or the like to present a hard, wear resistant surface with a minimum amount of friction. A tray surface coated with "Teflon" and the like may also be employed. Generally, it is found that the continuous abrasive action of the tokens 5 and/or of the roating blade 12 tend to disrupt the coating.

The present invention has been found to provide a relatively inexpensive and reliable system and apparatus for selective token discharge which is readily operated, loaded and maintained.

Various modes of carrying out the invention are contemplated as being within the scope of the following claims particularly pointing out and distinctly claiming the subject matter which is regarded as the invention.