Sign up
Title:
BULK COIN DISPENSER
United States Patent 3680566
Abstract:
A method and apparatus for dispensing coins are disclosed where coins of mixed denomination are conveyed in a coin train from a reservoir toward a delivery station, and each coin is selectively diverted either to the delivery station or back to the reservoir depending upon whether or not that coin is needed to pay out a predetermined credit. Rotary disc and movable belt transports are disclosed for moving the coin train, either with a random mix of different denomination coins in the train or with the train made up of a sequence of pockets designed to hold specific denomination coins. Electric and photoelectric devices are disclosed for sensing coin denominations, and several types of registers are disclosed for controlling the value and denomination mix of coins to be delivered.


Inventors:
Tanaka, Frederick K. (Hayward, CA)
Mueller, Fred S. (Sunnyvale, CA)
Riddle, John B. (Los Altos Hills, CA)
Application Number:
05/005390
Publication Date:
08/01/1972
Filing Date:
09/22/1969
Assignee:
Micro-Magnetic Industries, Inc. (Palo Alto, CA)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
194/219, 221/167, 453/17, 453/32
International Classes:
G07D9/00; G07F5/24; (IPC1-7): G07D3/14
Field of Search:
133/2,8,8A-8E,3 194
View Patent Images:
US Patent References:
3173431Dispensing means1965-03-16Chichester et al.
3143118Coin sorting apparatus1964-08-04Haines
3079934Coin sorting and counting mechanism1963-03-05Thompson
3016191Coin sorter and computer1962-01-09Buchholz et al.
2423503Composite plastic sheet comprising a molecularly oriented polyvinyl alcohol layer and method of manufacture1947-07-08Jorgensen
2348936Coin sorting and counting machine1944-05-16Sprenger
1819701Coin counting and assorting machine1931-08-18Downey
Primary Examiner:
Reeves, Robert B.
Assistant Examiner:
Scherbel, David A.
Claims:
We claim

1. A coin pay-out device comprising a coin hopper for containing a mixture of coins of different denominations, a coin sensing station, transport means for producing a train of different denomination coins from said hopper to said sensing station, and selector means mounted along said transport means after said sensing station and movable between first and second positions for respectively delivering coins from said device or returning coins directly from said transport means to said hopper, coin denomination sensing means at said sensing station for sensing the diameter of the coins on said transport means, control means interconnecting said selector means and said denomination sensing means for moving said selector means between said first and second positions responsive to the denomination of coin sensed by said denomination sensing means, and wherein said control means includes register means for registering a number indicative of coins to be paid out by said device, incrementing means interconnecting said denomination sensing means and said register means for changing the number in said register means when said selector is in said first position after sensing a coin, and lock out means for moving said selector means to said second position when said register means indicates a predetermined number.

2. The coin payout device of claim 1 characterized further by the inclusion of delay means coupled to said control means for delaying operation of said selector means for a predetermined time after operation of said denomination sensing means.

3. A coin payout device as in claim 1 in which said denomination sensing means comprises a coin wiper mounted adjacent to said transport means for engaging the periphery of each coin on said transport means and moving a distance proportional to the diameter of said coin, an apertured wafer connected to said wiper for movement therewith, and photoelectric detector means mounted in a stationary position adjacent to said wafer means for sensing the position of the aperture therein.

4. A coin payout device comprising a coin hopper for containing a mixture of coins of different denominations, a coin sensing station, transport means for producing a train of different denomination coins from said hopper to said sensing station, selector means mounted along said transport means after said sensing station and movable between first and second positions for respectively delivering coins from said device or returning coins directly from said transport means to said hopper, denomination sensing means forming part of said sensing means for generating a unique electrical signal for each different coin denomination sensed by said sensing means, register means for registering a number proportional to the total value of coins to be paid out by said device with said register means having a home position indicating that said total value has been paid out, indexing means connecting said denomination sensing means to said register means for advancing the number in said register means toward said home position in response to each of said unique electrical signals by an amount proportional to the value of the coin indicated by said electrical signal, a plurality of gating controls connected to said selector means and connected from different number positions of said register means and from said denomination sensing means for a moving said selector means to said second position when said denomination sensing means senses a coin whose value would advance said register means beyond said home position, and disabling means for disabling said indexing means when one of said gating controls is operated.

5. The coin payout device of claim 4 characterized further by the inclusion of timer means for measuring a predetermined time interval when said selector means is in said second position, and coin reject override means for moving said selector means back to said first position after said timer means measures said time interval.

6. A coin pay-out device comprising a coin hopper for containing a mixture of coins of different denominations, a coin sensing station, transport means for producing a train of different denomination coins from said hopper to said sensing station, selector means mounted along said transport means after said sensing station and movable between first and second positions for respectively delivering coins from said device or returning coins directly from said transport means to said hopper, register means for denoting coins to be delivered from said pay-out device, control means interconnecting said register means and said selector for operating said selector means to control delivery of a coin sensed at said sensing station in response to the condition of said register means, and control means for altering the condition of said register means when a coin is delivered by said selector means.

7. A bulk coin payout device comprising:

8. The device of claim 7 characterized further by the inclusion of

9. The device of claim 8 in which said hopper means comprises a plurality of exterior walls defining a coin receiving volume with a throat adjacent to said flat run of said belt and a plurality of interior walls dividing said volume into compartments for receipt of different value coins with said interior walls terminating in said throat generally parallel to the direction of movement of said belt run whereby segregated coins placed in said compartments are mixed as they are delivered to said reservoir.

10. The device of claim 7 in which said selector means comprises a fixed extractor extending across the periphery of said disc at said delivery station for engaging coins moving along said path and delivering them off of said disc, a plunger mounted adjacent to the periphery of said disc between said fixed extractor and said coin sensing means and having a cam ramp thereon positioned to engage coins on said disc and eject such coins off of said disc back into said reservoir with said plunger movable out of the path of coins on said disc, and a solenoid for moving said plunger out of the path of coins on said disc for permitting said coins to reach said extractor.

11. The device of claim 7 in which said register means comprises a register for registering a number proportional to the total value of coins to be paid out by said device with said register means having a home position indicating that said total value has been paid out, and said control means includes indexing means interconnecting said register and said denominations sensing means for advancing the number in said register toward said home position by an amount proportional to the value of the coin sensed by said denomination sensing means, a plurality of gating means connected to said selector and connected from different number positions of said register and from said denomination sensing means for moving said selector ro said return position when said denomination sensing means senses a coin whose value would advance said register beyond said home position, and disabling means for disabling said indexing means when one of said gating controls is operated.

12. The device of claim 11 characterized further by the inclusion of a plurality of different input devices connected to said register for indexing said number in said register to a plurality of different positions away from said home position for preadjusting the value of coins to be paid out by said device.

13. A coin payout device for delivering a predetermined assortment of coin change comprising:

14. The device of claim 13 characterized further by the inclusion of a plurality of input means connected to said register means for indexing said register means away from said home position by different amounts to increase the value of coins to be paid out by said device.

15. A coin pay-out device for delivering a predetermined assortment of coin change comprising a coin hopper for containing a mixture of coins of different denominations, a coin sensing station, transport means for producing a train of different denomination coins from said hopper to said sensing station, and selector means mounted along said transport means after said sensing station and movable between first an second positions for respectively delivering coins from said device in order to fulfill said assortment or returning coins directly from said transport means to said hopper, means responsive to said sensing station for determining on a coin-by-coin basis whether a coin from said train is necessary to help fulfill said assortment and operable to actuate said selector means accordingly; and means for determining what remaining coins are necessary to fulfill said predetermined assortment of coin change each time a coin is delivered from said device.

Description:
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to change making machines and more particularly to a method and apparatus for dispensing coin change.

A wide variety of devices have been used in the past for dispensing coins from vending machines, dollar bill changers, and the like. The most common type of these devices employs a plurality of coin receiving tubes for holding stacks of coins in face to face relation and a shuttle mechanism for removing coins from the bottoms of the tubes. These devices may be programmed to give different amounts of change by arranging several coin tubes on a single shuttle mechanism and by operating the shuttle mechanism through multiple strokes. These devices are not readily adapted to dispense variable amounts of change, however, as where it may be desirable to give 10, 25, 40 or 70 cents change from a vending machine depending upon the value of the particular product which the customer selected from the machine.

It is a principal object of this invention to provide a coin dispensing mechanism which can be operated efficiently to dispense change in a wide variety of amounts.

In accordance with this invention, coins are dispensed by moving the coins in a coin by coin train from a reservoir of coins of mixed denominations and selectively diverting the coins to a delivery station or back to the reservoir. The coin train may contain a random mix of coins in random order, or the train may include coins of different denominations arranged in a regular sequence.

This technique involves substantial improvements in efficiency because: (1) the coin supply for the coin dispenser can be a bulk mixture of unsorted coins; (2) simple electronic controls may be used for diverting individual coins from the coin train while permitting electronic control of the total value of coins to be dispensed, and (3) the same universal coin dispenser can be used for a variety of applications ranging from making change for dimes, quarters and dollars to dispensing any amount of change for credit remaining in a vending machine after different purchases.

In the latter regard, this invention may be used with versatile vending installations where, for instance, a customer may deposit any amount of money between, for instance, 25 cents and ten dollars or more to accumulate a corresponding amount of credit in a register. He may then receive a commodity such as gasoline in any amount within the credit limit while the credit in the register is decreased, and as the commodity is dispensed, additional credits may be added to the register. At some variable time when no more commodity is to be dispensed, as when his gasoline tank is full, the customer's remaining credit on the register can be returned by the use of this invention.

A wide variety of apparatus can be used in this invention for forming the coin train, and a wide variety of electronic controls can be used in this invention for operating the apparatus and controlling the value and denomination mix of coins to be dispensed.

The apparatus preferably employs a rotating disc for forming the coin train from the reservoir as such discs have been used in some coin handling devices heretofore. Where such a rotary disc is used with a relatively small volume reservoir, a bulk coin supply hopper may also be employed to prolong the period between times when the device must be serviced. Where such an auxiliary supply is provided, it is desirable to provide some means for mixing coins of different denominations as the coins enter the reservoir so that an operator who has presorted coins is unable to load the device in a way that would flood the small volume reservoir with highest denomination coin.

A variety of devices may be employed for selectively directing individual coins in the coin train to either the reservoir or the delivery station. Thus, a selective coin ejector may be used for returning from the coin train to the reservoir all coins not wanted to make up a predetermined amount of change. Conversely, a selective coin ejector may be used for transporting wanted coins from the coin train to the delivery station. In the former situation, the coin train can terminate at the delivery station, and in the latter situation the coin train may either return to the reservoir or end at some auxiliary coin ejector which removes all remaining coins from the train and returns them to the reservoir.

The apparatus preferably includes a positive coin sensing device which may provide an input to control logic telling the controls that a coin is being operated upon. Where the coin train transport handles different denomination coins in a predetermined order, a simple interconnection between the transport and control logic can tell the logic the denomination of the coin which the coin sensor detects.

In the preferred apparatus of this invention, the coins are not arranged in any predetermined order in the coin train and denomination sensing means is used with the coin sensor to tell the control logic both that a coin is present and also the denomination of the coin. Denomination sensing may be accomplished in a variety of ways as is known in the art. Preferably, the denomination of a coin is determined by sensing its diameter. This may be accomplished by engaging the coin with a movable element which operates a bank of switches, photodetectors or the like, or the coin may operate directly on switching devices as by making contact between electrical terminals or interrupting light transmitted to a bank of photodetectors. Alternatively, a direct mechanical connection may be provided between a coin denomination sensing device and the coin ejector which ejects a coin from the coin train, but electronic coin denomination sensing devices are preferred because of their operating speeds and long term reliability.

Different forms of control registers may be used for controlling the value and denomination mix of coins to be dispensed depending upon considerations of cost for building the device and the extent of the versatility of the device which is desired. Binary digital registers are preferred for their speed and reliability, though mechanical registers may be employed. For inexpensive machines, a simple count-up register may be used with controls for presetting the register at different numbers away from a home position. For more versatility, an up-down counter may be used driven in one direction by credit pulses and in the other direction by pulses representative of the values of coin dispensed. Where it is desirable to control the denomination mix of coins dispensed, a single register may be used coupled to output controls which require the dispensing of high denomination coins when a high credit number appears on the register or a separate register may be used for each denomination coin. The multiple register arrangement may employ a patch board programming device such as that disclosed in the application of John B. Riddle, Frederick K. Tanaka, Frank B. Lawrence, and Fred Sigfried Mueller, filed concurrently herewith for "A Programmed Multiple Stamp Dispensing Apparatus Employing Optical Electronic Stamp Counting and Auxiliary Stamp Roll Capacity"; in this way, the device can be easily reprogrammed to dispense different denomination mixes of coins.

Other features and advantages of the invention will become apparent from the following description of some illustrative embodiments of the invention read in conjunction with the attached drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective side elevation of coin dispensing apparatus constructed in accordance with the principles of this invention;

FIG. 2 is a vertical sectional view through the apparatus of FIG. 1 taken along the plane indicated at 2--2 in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is an oblique cross-sectional view of the apparatus of FIGS. 1 and 2 taken along the plane indicated at 3--3 in FIG. 2 and illustrating the interior of the apparatus generally parallel to the face of the coin lifting disc in the device;

FIG. 4 is a sectional view taken along an interior curved plane near the outer periphery of the rotary disc in FIG. 3 as indicated at 4--4 in FIG. 3;

FIGS. 5, 6 and 7 are interior cross-sectional views at succeeding stages of the coin train as indicated by the lines and the arrows at 5--5, 6--6, and 7--7 in FIG. 3;

FIG. 8 is an enlarged interior sectional view of the coin denomination sensing station in the apparatus of FIGS. 1-7 taken along the plane indicated at 8--8 in FIG. 2;

FIG. 9 is a horizontal sectional view taken along the plane indicated at 9--9 in FIG. 8;

FIG. 10 is an interior vertical sectional view of the coin denomination sensing means of FIGS. 8 and 9 taken along the bifurcated plane indicated at 10--10 in FIG. 8;

FIG. 11 is an enlarged sectional view taken along the plane indicated at 11--11 in FIG. 3 and illustrating photodetector means by which the rotary position of the coin lifting disc is determined to produce a strobe signal employed in the control logic of the device;

FIG. 12 is a horizontal cross-sectional view of the large coin receiving hopper illustrated in FIG. 1 and taken along the plane indicated at 12--12 in FIG. 1;

FIG. 13 is a schematic circuit diagram illustrating the control circuits employed for operating the apparatus of FIGS. 1-12 with this control circuitry including a simple digital counter for presetting the value of coins to be dispensed by the device which control circuitry may be used where the apparatus of FIGS. 1 -- 12 is employed for dispensing change in a change-making machine which will accept input credits of 10, 25 and 50 cents, and 1 dollar;

FIG. 14 is a schematic circuit diagram similar to FIG. 13 but illustrating a modified form of control circuitry including an up-down counter by which more versatile operation may be obtained;

FIG. 15 is another schematic circuit diagram which may be employed in place of a portion of the circuit of FIG. 14 for programming the apparatus of FIGS. 1-12 to give a predetermined mix of coins as change for each different credit input;

FIG. 16 is a schematic perspective view of an alternative form of apparatus which may be employed in accordance with this invention;

FIG. 17 is a face view of the rotary disc employed in the apparatus of FIG. 16;

FIG. 18 is a vertical cross-sectional view of another alternative form of apparatus somewhat similar to the apparatus of FIG. 16 and FIG. 17 but employing electrical switches in place of photodetectors;

FIG. 19 is a face view similar to FIG. 17 but illustrating another alternative form of apparatus in which the rotary disc includes a series of different coin receiving pockets which are designed to receive a particular denomination coin in each pocket;

FIG. 20 is a cross-sectional view through the apparatus of FIG. 19 taken along the plane indicated at 20--20 in FIG. 19;

FIG. 21 is an elevational view of another alternative form of apparatus which may be used in accordance with this invention where the train of coins is produced by the movement of a pair of coacting belts in stead of a rotary disc;

FIG. 22 is a cross-sectional view taken along the plane indicated at 22--22 in FIG. 21;

FIG. 23 is a cross-sectional view taken along the plane indicated at 23--23 in FIG. 21;

FIG. 24 is a sectional view taken along the plane indicated at 24--24 in FIG. 23, and;

FIG. 25 is an interior sectional view similar to FIG. 4 illustrating an alternative form of coin ejector mechanism.

Referring now in detail to the drawings and particularly to FIG. 1, the apparatus illustrated therein includes a main casting 30 attached to a rear housing plate 32 by means of bolts 34 and supported on a triangular frame 36. A conveyor assembly 38 having side walls 40 is supported on a vertical brace 42 and a diagonal brace 44 which is in turn connected to the base 32, and a conveyor belt 46 is supported on axles extending between the side plates 40 and driven by an electrical motor 48. A cross plate 50 interconnects the side plates 40 and provides a tension adjustment for the belt 46 by means of threaded connectors 52.

As illustrated in FIG. 1, a large hopper 54 is mounted on top of the conveyor unit 38 by attachment to one of the side walls 56 of the device and by way of vertical support on the side walls 40 of the conveyor unit 38. As best seen in FIG. 12, the hopper 54 is provided with a pair of internal baffles 58 dividing the hopper and the narrow throat of the hopper into three compartments 60, 62 and 64.

A pair of apertures 66 and 68 are provided in the casting 30 at upper and lower levels, and suitable photodetectors are mounted in the apertures 66 and 68 for detecting high and low coin levels inside the casting 30. When the detector in aperture 68 detects that the coin level in the hopper has fallen below the level of the detector, the motor 48 is started to operate the conveyor belt 46 to convey coins from hopper 54 into the open top of casting 30, and when the detector in aperature 66 thereafter detects coins at the upper level in the hopper, the motor 48 is turned off.

All three compartments 60, 62 and 64 in the hopper 54 may be charged with a random mix of coins of different denominations. The three different compartments are provided, however, so that a machine operator who has presorted coins may place those coins in the three different compartments, and the coins will be mixed thereafter as the conveyor belt 46 removes coins simultaneously from all three compartments. In this way, the operator with presorted coins does not have to mix the coins to prevent stratification of different denomination in the hopper 54 and possible flooding of the coin reservoir in the machine with large denomination coins.

A coin delivery chute 70 is mounted in a front wall 72 of a housing around the device in a position to receive coins from a coin delivery station 74 at the periphery of the base plate 32.

Referring now to FIGS. 2, 3 and 4, a rotary disc 76 is mounted inside the space defined between casting 30 and base plate 32 with the disc 76 mounted on a shaft 78 which is journaled in the base plate 32 and driven by an electric motor 80 through a gear reduction drive 82.

As illustrated in phantom outline in FIG. 2, the apparatus is designed to receive a reservoir of coins 84 between the interior surface of the casting 30 and the top face of the disc 76, and the coins in the reservoir may fall into the annular space 86 near the bottom of the reservoir. A plurality of short pins 88 are mounted in the face of disc 76 protruding therefrom by approximately the thickness of a coin, and a circular ridge 90 extends around the disc 76 so that the ridge 90 and each of the pins 88 defines a pocket for moving coins upwardly out of the reservoir around the circle of the disc in a train. A plurality of conical protrusions 92 are provided on the face of the disc 76 for stirring the coins in the reservoir as the disc rotates.

As coins rise out of the reservoir in a train on the disc 76, they pass under a leaf spring 94 which is screwed onto the inside of the casting 30 as illustrated in FIGS. 3 and 4 and which functions to dislodge any extra coins which may be present in any pocket where two coins have become lodged in the same pocket. As coins progress past the spring 94, they pass through a coin denomination sensing station 96 where they engage a movable finger 98 hence past a coin ejection station 100 to the coin delivery station 74. With reference to FIGS. 3, 8, 9 and 10, the coin denomination sensing means at station 96 includes a finger 98 pivotally mounted on pivot pin 102 in an enclosed light tight housing 104, and an elongated arm 106 is rigidly attached to the finger 98 for corresponding swinging movement as indicated in phantom outline in FIG. 8. Two pairs of guides 108 and 110 are mounted on the interior surface of the light tight box 104 and support a sliding apertured screen 112. A light source 114 is mounted in the compartment 104 positioned to shine light through an aperture 116 in the screen 112 toward three phototransistors 118, 120 and 122. The phototransistors are so positioned that the transistor 118 will be illuminated through aperture 116 when a dime passes under finger 98, and phototransistors 120 and 122 will be illuminated through aperture 116 when a nickel or a quarter, respectively, passes under finger 98. The denomination sensing means is connected as illustrated in FIG. 13 to sense the presence of a denomination of a coin at station 96 so that the coin if unwanted for delivery may be rejected and returned to the reservoir at station 100.

As illustrated in FIGS. 2, 3 and 4, a plunger 124 is mounted at the ejection station 100 in a bushing 126 in base plate 32, and the inner face of the plunger 124 carries a cam surface 128 positioned to engage a coin moving along the coin train and tip the coin off of annular shoulder 90 as illustrated in phantom outline in FIG. 6. When a coin is thus dislodged from the coin train, it falls directly back into the reservoir 84. The coin ejection plunger 124 is held in its extended position illustrated in solid lines in FIGS. 2 and 4 by a compression spring 130 (See. FIG. 2) which is mounted between a flange 132 on the plunger and the face of a solenoid 134.

When the coin denomination sensing means at station 96 senses the presence of a coin which is desired for pay out at the delivery station 74, the solenoid 134 is energized to withdraw the plunger and permit the coin to pass ejection station 100 to delivery station 74.

It should be noted that the rotary disc 76 carries a plurality of apertures 136 which are employed for accurately determining the rotary position of the disc 74 by means of light shining on a phototransistor 138 (FIG. 11) from a light source in an optical fiber strand 140. The output signals from phototransistor 138 provide "strobe" pulses to several of the control components to the device to indicate the exact time when the center of a coin receiving pocket moves under the finger 98.

The structure employed at the coin delivery station 74 may be best seen in FIGS. 3, 4 and 7 in which it will be noted that a coin extraction blade 142 is mounted on the base plate 32 by screw 144 and extends inwardly to a point 146 in the path of coins in the coin train after the coins have passed the coin ejection station 100. As illustrated in FIG. 7, the blade 142 extends onto the shoulder 90 of rotary disc 76 so that a coin being pushed around the circle of disc 76 by one of the pins 88 is pushed onto the top surface 148 of the blade 142. The top surface 148 is inclined downwardly so that a coin once on this surface will roll downwardly under the influence of gravity and out through the delivery station 74 to the coin receiving chute 70 in FIG. 1. As illustrated in FIG. 4, the blade 142 is provided with an interior recess 150 through which the pins 88 may move as the disc rotates.

It will be noted that the fiber optic light source 140 is mounted on a support arm 152 supported on blade 142 by a screw 154.

The mechanical parts illustrated in FIGS. 1-12 may be operated by the control circuits for the device in the following way. As the disc 76 rotates, it picks up coins in each of the pockets on the annular rib 90 in advance of each of the pins 88. The coins which are picked up are arranged in a random train of mixed denomination coins where, for instance, a quarter q in FIG. 3 may be followed by a nickel n which is in turn followed by a dime d.

As the disc 76 rotates, coins will be dislodged from any of the coin pockets in the train by the spring 94 where two coins are lodged in the same pocket, and the coins will proceed in the train through coin denomination sensing station 96 where the denomination of the coin will be sensed by detecting its diameter from one of the three phototransistors 118-122. If at the time the quarter, nickel, dime train of coins passes the coin denomination sensing station 98, the machine is conditioned to give only 10 cents in change, the solenoid 134 (FIG. 2) will be deenergized advancing plunger 124 so that the quarter q engages cam surface 128 on the plunger and is dislodged on the disc to fall back into the coin reservoir. As the disc advances further and the nickel n is detected at the denomination sensing station 96, the solenoid 134 will be energized to withdraw the plunger 124 and permit the nickel to move through coin ejection station 100 onto the top surface 148 of the extractor blade 142 and hence out of the device. As explained hereinafter, the control mechanism which has been set to deliver ten cents in change will have been readjusted by delivery of the nickel to permit further delivery of only nickels, and therefore when the dime d is detected at the denomination sensing station 96, the solenoid 134 will again be deenergized to unseat the dime from the disc 76 and return it to the coin reservoir while the disc 76 continues to rotate and all dimes and quarters are ejected from the disc at station 100 until another nickel is detected at station 96.

Referring now to FIG. 13, one form of electronic circuit which may be employed for controlling the apparatus of FIGS. 1-12 employs a binary digital counter 156 designed to count to 32, that is to numeral two to the fifth power. Counter 156 is connected to four output gates 158, 160, 162 and 164 through which electrical signals are delivered when the counter 156 reaches the binary count corresponding to numerals 15, 18, 20 and 21, respectively.

The counter 156 is also connected through counter preset gating 166 to four input terminals 168, 170, 172 and 174 by which the control circuits may be preset to deliver, respectively, 1 dollar, 50 cents, 25 cents, and 10 cents change. The counter preset gating is fixed-wired into counter 156 so that counter 156 is preset to the zero position responsive to the 1 dollar pay switch 168; the counter 156 is preset to the 15 count position responsive to 25 cent pay s switch 172, etc. Obviously, the one dollar pay switch 168 and corresponding switches 170-174 may be provided by conventional dollar bill validators and coin acceptors where it is desirable to use the entire device for providing change in return for dollar bills and larger denomination coins.

The counter preset gating 166 is also connected through an or-gate 176 to a motor start circuit 178 which is employed to start operation of the motor 80. The start circuit is connected to a reset line 180 and to the "strobe" phototransistor 138 to stop the motor 80 after a reset signal has been generated below to indicate that a change making operation has been completed and when the strobe photocell 168 supplies a signal indicating that the rotary disc 76 has rotated to a sufficient extent that the last coin detected at coin sensing station 96 which was necessary to pay out a predetermined amount of change has moved to a position where it is delivered from the machine.

The output of the start circuit 178 also goes through a short delay period timer 182 to a main power line 184 for operating the accept solenoid 134. The short delay timer 182 provides a short start-up period for starting rotation of the disc 76 to prevent change making errors which might otherwise occur during the start-up rotation.

The three phototransistors 118, 120 and 122 which detect dimes, nickels and quarters are connected to a pulse generator 186 with the strobe signal to generate five output pulses for a quarter, to output pulses for a dime, and one output pulse for a nickel through an inhibit switch 188 to the input of counter 156 so that the number accumulated in counter 156 is advanced one digit for each pulse from the pulse generator 186. The inhibit switch 188 passes the pulses whenever a signal does not appear on its control terminal 190, and it should be noted that the pulses from pulse generator 186 are slightly delayed after the input from the photocells 118-122 to permit operation of the inhibit switch as explained below.

The outputs of gates 158-162 are connected to an ejector control 192 which contains three and-gates which are also connected to the photodetectors 118-122 so that when, for instance, a quarter is detected by photodetector 122 at the same time that an output signal appears through the fifteen count gate 158, the and-gate 194 passes a coin reject signal to output line 196, hence through delay timer 198 to a reject coin switch 200 which interrupts power from the main power line 184 to the accept solenoid 134 thereby causing the detected quarter to be rejected by the solenoid 134 and plunger 124 under the influence of spring 130. In a similar manner, a detected dime will be rejected when the counter 156 has advanced to an eighteen count, and all coins will be rejected and a reset signal will be generated when the counter 156 has advanced to a 20 count by reset control 202.

At the time the coin reject signal is delivered on line 196, this signal passes through inhibit switch 204 to open inhibit switch 188 so that the pulse count from pulse generator 186 is not delivered to counter 156 for the rejected coin.

The operation of the control circuit of FIG. 13 may now be understood for normal operating situations where, for instance, a 50 cent pay signal is delivered from switch 170 and assuming that the first coin to be counted is a quarter. The 50 cent credit signal from switch 170 presets counter 156 to a 10 count and simultaneously passes a start signal through or-gate 176 to start circuit 178. The motor 80 then starts and after a short delay power is supplied to line 184. The power on line 184 passes through reject coin switch which is normally closed to accept solenoid 134 so that the plunger 124 is retracted causing the first coin to be taken automatically. When the first coin detected at station 96 is a quarter, photocell 122 puts out a pulse causing five pulses to be delivered from pulse generator 186 through inhibit switch 88 to advance counter 156 from the ten count to the 15 count. Assuming that the next two coins are dimes, the photocell 118 will deliver a pulse from the first dime causing two pulses to be delivered from pulse generator 186 to count 156 to advance the counter to a count of 17, and the first dime will be accepted, and then the photocell 118 will detect the second dime causing two pulses to be delivered to counter 156 to advance the counter 156 to a count of 19. Let us assume at this point that the next coin detected is a quarter which supplies a pulse to and-gate 194 concurrently with a pulse from gate 158 since the counter has already reached a count of 15 so that an output signal is delivered to line 196 hence to inhibit switch 188 so that the five pulses from the quarter are not counted on counter 156 and concurrently through delay timer 198 to reject coin switch 200 which deenergizes solenoid 134 to reject the quarter. Similarly, when a count of 19 has been reached, a dime will be rejected, but when a nickel is detected by photocell 120 at station 96 pulse generator 186 delivers one pulse which advances the counter 156 to a 20 count while the nickel is accepted. When the next coin is detected at photocell 120 the concurrent pulses from photocell 120 and gate 162 pass through the corresponding and-gate and the ejector control 192 to supply a pulse to the reset pulse generator 202. The reset pulse is applied to the counter 156 to reset the counter to zero and also to the start circuit 178 to stop the motor 80.

It will be noted that a problem might be encountered with the operation of the machine if the coin reservoir in the apparatus of FIGS. 1-12 were flooded with high denomination coins such as quarters, and the machine were unable to find a low denomination coin such as a nickel to fill out the 20 count. A control interlock is provided to overcome this problem together with another interlock designed to disable the machine in the event that the machine runs for so long a time that it is likely that something is wrong with the machine or that someone is tampering with the machine. Thus, a machine disable control 206 is provided for interrupting all power to the machine and preventing any further operation of the device. An adjustable long period delay timer 208 is connected to the disabled circuit 206 from the output of the start circuit 178 to operate the disable circuit 206 and lock out the machine after the long period delay of the timer 208 elapses. The reset signal from circuit 202 is connected to the long period timer 208 to reset that timer to zero each time a pay cycle is completed so that in normal operation of the machine, the long period delay timer 208 never runs through its full period to operate the control 206.

Additionally, a coin accept override switch 210 is wired in parallel with the coin reject switch 200, and the coin accept override switch 210 is closed by the expiration of the time period of a 5 second delay timer 212 which is wired in parallel with the reject coin switch 200. Thus, when the reject coin switch 200 has been open for a period of five seconds, that is when a reject signal has been present from delay timer 198 for 5 seconds before a coin accept signal has appeared on the output of switch 200 to reset the delay timer 212, an output signal is delivered from the delay timer 212 to the coin accept override switch closing that switch so that power is supplied to the accept solenoid 134 through the override switch 210. Concurrently, with closing of the override switch 210, a signal is applied to the control terminal 214 of the inhibit switch 200 to cause the inhibit switch 188 to open again and pass output pulses from the pulse generator 186 to the counter 156. Thus, when the five second delay timer expires indicating that the machine has been hunting for a suitable coin for five seconds unsuccessfully, the override switch 210 will cause the machine to deliver the next coin regardless of denomination, and the pulse count from that coin will be passed to the counter 156. If the coin which is accepted is satisfactory to fill out the 20 count, the machine will merely end its cycle with a reset signal and wait for another credit input signal from one of the switches 168-174. If on the other hand, the coin dispenser has been hunting for a nickel, and the next coin delivered in response to the override switch 210 is a quarter, the counter 156 will be advanced beyond a twenty count thereby delivering an output signal through gate 164 to the machine disable circuit 206 to lock out the machine against further operation. This circuit is very desirable in that it prevents the machine from antagonizing a customer by failing to deliver the necessary change. The machine does deliver more change than required (producing a happy customer) and then goes into the disable mode to avoid repeating the mistake.

With reference to FIG. 14, the control circuit therein illustrated is very similar to that shown in FIG. 13 and differs primarily in the use of a digital up-down counter 216 which receives pulses to count up from the pulse generator 186 through inhibit switch 18 but which receives pulses to count down from a pulse generator 218 which is connected to the credit switches 168-174. The output gates 220, 222, 224 and 226 are connected to the minus 5, minus 2, 0, and plus 1 positions of the counter 216 since the home position of the counter 216 is zero instead of the 20 count home position of the counter 156 in FIG. 13. It will be apparent that the control circuit of FIG. 14 will operate in much the same way as the circuit of FIG. 13 except that the counter 216 is supplied credit pulses in a much more versatile manner so that additional credit pulses can be supplied from the pulse generator 218 while coin dispensing progresses. More importantly, however, the pulse generator 218 and its credit input switches 168-174 may be replaced by any digital pulse source from a vending machine to cause any desired amount of change to be dispensed. Additionally, the entire circuit of FIG. 14 may be employed as a vending machine control where credit input pulses are supplied from switches 168-174; then debit input pulses are supplied to line 228 from a vending machine, and finally debit input pulses are provided from the coin detecting photocells 118-122 as change is dispensed. The pulse generator 218, of course, provides a number of pulses which corresponds to the value of the credit established by one of the switches 168-174.

Referring now to FIG. 15, another alternative control circuit is illustrated which may be used with many of the components of the circuits of FIGS. 13 and 14 to provide the additional capability of programming the machine to deliver coin change in a predetermined mix of coin denominations for any given input pulse. The circuit of FIG. 15 includes three counters 230, 232 and 234 for counting the number of quarters, dimes and nickels to be dispensed by the machine. These counters are connected to the photocells 118-122 and the ejector control 192 to cause acceptance and rejection of coins in a manner similar to the operation of FIGS. 13 and 14 with each counter receiving only one pulse for each accepted coin and receiving no pulse for each rejected coin because of the operation of delay timers 236 and inhibit circuits 238. The input signals to establish credit to be dispensed may be supplied from the same type of switches 168-174 through an encoding matrix 240 which may be fixed-wired so that in response to operation of the switch 168 three countdown pulses are delivered to counter 230, two countdown pulses are delivered to counter 232, and one countdown pulse is delivered to counter 234. In this way, it may be predetermined that the device even though operating on a random mix of coins will deliver three quarters, two dimes and a nickel as change for a dollar with similar predetermined payout distributions for other input credit values.

The encoding matrix 240 employed in the circuit of FIG. 15 is preferably built as a patch board circuit similar to that shown in the above-identified Riddle Et Al copending application so that the predetermined distribution of coins to be delivered may be reprogrammed simply by rearrangement of electrical connecting pins.

Referring now to FIGS. 16 and 17, the alternative form of apparatus of this invention illustrated therein includes a rotary disc 76 identical to the disc 76 in FIG. 1-12. The coin selector employed in the apparatus of FIG. 16 is a device designed to selectively engage and deliver wanted coins as opposed to the selector of FIGS. 1-12 which engages unwanted coins and returns them to the reservoir. Thus, in FIGS. 16 and 17, the extractor blade 242 similarly shaped to the fixed blade 142 in FIG. 3 is movably mounted and controlled by a solenoid 244 connected to a control circuit such as that shown in FIGS. 13 to 15 so that when the solenoid 244 is energized, the coin extractor 242 engages the coins in the coin train to extract the coins and deliver them from the device while unwanted coins pass under the extractor 242 when it is withdrawn to return to the reservoir. A fixed extractor 246 is mounted adjacent to the rotary disc 76 downstream of the extractor 242 to unseat all unwanted coins from the discs so that they do not remain on the disc and pass through the reservoir but instead are remixed with coins in the reservoir.

The coin denomination sensing means in the apparatus of FIGS. 16 and 17 is also different from the denomination sensing means in FIGS. 1-12 in that this apparatus in FIGS. 16 and 17 includes a light source 248 shining through the path of coins in the coin train and a bank of photodetectors 250 on the opposite side of the coin train by which the diameter of a particular coin in the train is detected directly as the coin interrupts light transmission from the light source 248. The photodetectors 250 may for convenience be made of optical fibers connected to remote photoresistors, and the ends of the optical fibers adjacent to the coin path may be arranged in a straight line as illustrated in FIGS. 16 and 17 or in a curved line.

The alternative form of apparatus shown in FIG. 18 is similar to that shown in FIG. 17 in that it employs the movable coin extractor 242 and solenoid 244 mounted on an overhead bar 252 together with the fixed extractor 246. The apparatus employed for detecting the denomination of the coins is different in FIG. 18, however. The coin denomination sensing means here employed consists of a spring 254 arranged to press against coins in the coin path with the spring connected to one electrical terminal 256 while a bank of electrical terminals 258 is arranged opposite to the spring 256 so that different denomination coins in the coin train will establish electrical connections between the spring 254 and different ones of the electrical contacts in the bank of contacts 258.

The alternative form of apparatus illustrated in FIG. 19 is similar to that shown in FIGS. 1-18 in that it employs a rotary disc. In this situation, however, the apparatus includes a rotary disc 260 containing a plurality of coin receiving pockets with each pocket made up of three pins 262, 264 and 266. The pins in each pocket are positioned with respect to each other in a unique manner so that each pocket formed of three pins is designed to receive one and only one denomination of coin. Thus, for a pocket designed to receive quarters, a quarter will be supported between the pins 262 and 264 while these pins are spaced apart by a sufficient distance that nickels and dimes will slip between them and fall out of the pocket. When the pins 262, 264 and 266 are positioned to define a pocket for nickels, the nickel will be supported between all three pins; the dime will slip between pins 262 and 264, and the quarter will be too large to fit in the pocket and hence will be supported between pins 262 and 266 with its center advanced substantially ahead of the center of the pocket so that as the pocket reaches the top of the circular path of the disc, the quarter will roll forwardly out of the pocket before the pocket reaches a coin sensing or delivery station.

With the apparatus of FIG. 11, coin sensing means are preferably employed to determine whether or not a coin receiving pocket contains a coin, but no denomination sensing means need be employed because if the pocket is filled, the denomination of the coin in the pocket is known. The presence of a coin in the pocket is determined by providing a hole 266 through the disc 260 in each pocket and mounting a light source 270 and photodetector 272 at a coin sensing station (FIG. 20) where light is prevented from reaching the photodetector if the pocket is filled. This device may employ a coin extractor bar 242 identical to the similar apparatus in FIGS. 16-18, and it is unnecessary to provide a fixed coin ejector like the device 246 in FIG. 18 since it is desirable for an unwanted coin to stay in its pocket as it moves through the coin reservoir.

Referring now to FIGS. 21-24, the alternative form of apparatus of this invention illustrated therein includes a hopper having two parallel side walls 274, a vertical end wall 276, and an inclined end wall 278 for impounding a large reservoir of coins to be dispensed. A narrow rubber belt 280 extends across the bottom of the hopper, preferably in a slot in a bottom wall, and a second rubber belt 282 cooperates with the belt 280 to define an upwardly extending coin path 284 extending from the bottom of the hopper to a position 286 above the hopper. The inner belt 282 is entrained over rollers 286-296, and the outer belt 280 is entrained over rollers 298, 300, 302, 304 and over the inner belt. A roller 306 adjacent to the coin exit from the hopper engages the belt 282 to be driven in the direction illustrated to provide a scrubbing action eliminating piggy-backed coins and permitting the coins to enter the common rum between the belts in a single file. With the apparatus constructed in this way, coins are extracted from the bottom of the hopper by the belt 280 and hence conveyed in single file between the belts 280 and 282 up the upwardly inclined path 284 to a position on top of the belt 282 at location 286. In passing up the path 284, the denomination of the coins between the belts is sensed at a coin sensing station 308 which is illustrated in greater detail in FIG. 23. Referring to FIG. 23, a coin 312 passing upwardly between the belts 280 and 282 passes between a pair of support plates 314 and 316. These plates are mounted on a pair of pins 318 in elongated slots 320 which permit the plates 316 and 318 to move toward and away from the coin 312. A roller 322 is mounted between the plates 314 and 316 to engage one side of the coin while the opposite of the coin is engaged by another roller 324 mounted on an axle 326 extending through elongated slots in the plates. A plunger 328 and compression spring 330 hold the roller 324 against the coin 312 while the projecting end of the axle 326 extending through an elongated slot 332 engage the actuating arms 334 of three coin denomination detecting microswitches 336,338 and 340 positioned to detect dimes, nickels and quarters, respectively. The switches may be connected to control logic similar to that shown in FIGS. 13-15 to provide output signals for coins which are to be accepted by the device.

A coin delivery chute 342 is mounted at the top of the apparatus of FIG. 21 extending from a position underneath the top run of belt 282 to a position outside the side wall 274 of the hopper as illustrated in FIG. 22. A solenoid 344 is mounted on a support bracket 346 on the opposite side wall of the hopper and carries on its operating plunger a pusher plate 348 by which a desired coin detected at station 308 may be ejected from the belt 282 onto the delivery chute 342 while unwanted coins in the coin train pass along the belt 282 to be returned to the hopper over roller 292.

The alternative form of apparatus illustrated in FIG. 25 is very similar to that shown in FIG. 4 differing in that a slightly modified coin ejection mechanism is illustrated which has the advantage of being slightly faster acting because the operating stroke of the ejection plunger 124 is substantially shorter. Thus, the plunger 124 in FIG. 25 has a very shallow forward cam surface 350 which moves the leading edge of a rejected coin by a distance slightly greater than the thickness of the coin to be handled by the device. A fixed coin rejection ramp 352 is mounted on a bracket 354 which is mounted in turn on the coin extraction blade 142 with the inner end of the ejection ramp 352 positioned at 356 just behind the trailing edge of plunger 350 in the plunger extended position. The total projection of plunger 350 in its extended position is insufficient to unseat a coin from the coin support shoulder 90 on the disc 76, but the cam surface 350 on the plunger moves the leading edge of the coin out to the ejection ramp 352 where further movement of the coin propelled by one of the pins 88 causes the coin to be unseated from the disc 76. When the plunger 124 is retracted as a coin comes by the ejection station, the coin moves under the inner end 356 of the ejection ramp 352 so that the coin leaves the device through the delivery station over the blade 142 in a manner similar to the operation of FIG. 4.

While certain specific embodiments of the invention have been illustrated and described in detail herein, it will be apparent from the variety of mechanisms disclosed that many different specific forms of apparatus may be employed within the scope of the following claims.