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Title:
ELECTRIC FLASHER
United States Patent 3681730
Abstract:
An electric flasher or outlet winker which has a pair of male prong contacts connected by an electrically actuable intermittent circuit interrupter to a pair of female contacts. The outlet winker has a non-symmetrical housing consisting of a recessed main casing for the electrically actuable intermittent circuit interrupter, and a cover for enclosing the circuit interrupter in the recessed main casing. The interrupter includes a bi-metallic thermoblade which is integral with one of the two female contacts. The other female contact is an integral part of a conductive member which also forms one of the male contact prongs. A total of three conductive members and a heating coil on the thermoblade form the electrical components enclosed in the housing.


Application Number:
05/108929
Publication Date:
08/01/1972
Filing Date:
01/22/1971
Assignee:
Gem Electric Mfg. Co., Inc. (Hauppauge, NY)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
337/112
International Classes:
H01H61/06; H01R13/713; (IPC1-7): H01H61/06
Field of Search:
337/92,93,112,113,197,198,269
View Patent Images:
US Patent References:
2894098Outlet winkerJuly 1959Ludwig
2777916Appliance protectorJanuary 1957Cooper
1955076Current interrupting deviceApril 1934Ludwig
1830657Thermostatic switchNovember 1931Herbster
1687167Connecting plugOctober 1928Mann
1607049Socket-plug switchNovember 1926Betts
Primary Examiner:
Gilheany, Bernard A.
Assistant Examiner:
Morgan, Dewitt M.
Claims:
1. A winker including a main casing having a first recessed chamber and a second recessed chamber, said recessed chambers being spaced apart from each other and supporting all of the electrical components of the winker, said main casing including a first and second side with said first side and said second side being at opposite extremes of said casing, a first slotted opening and a second slotted opening at said first side of said main casing, said first slotted opening extending into said first recessed chamber and said second slotted opening extending into said second recessed chamber, third and fourth slotted openings on said second side of said main casing, said third slotted opening extending into said first recessed chamber and said fourth slotted opening extending into said second recessed chamber, essentially only three electrically conductive components substantially fully received in said recessed chambers for intermittently interrupting a load current through the winker, said three electrically conductive components defining first and second male contact prongs extending through said third and fourth slotted openings, respectively, and also defining first and second resilient female contacts positioned in line with said first and second slotted openings, respectively, to make contact with male prongs inserted in said first and second slotted openings, and a cover mating with said main casing for

2. A winker in accordance with claim 10 wherein one of said three conductive components is supported in said second recessed chamber having at one end thereof said second male contact prong and at the other end thereof said second resilient female contact with said second male contact prong and second female contact being integral with each other and of the

3. A winker in accordance with claim 10 wherein one of said electrically conductive components includes a bimetallic component and the first resilient female contact with said first resilient female contact and said bimetallic component being integral with each other and formed from one

4. A winker in accordance with claim 11 wherein one of said three electrically conductive components is supported in said first recessed chamber having said first male contact prong at one end thereof, a centrally located contact button thereon and said bimetallic component having a contact button at one end thereof and in registry with the

5. A winker in accordance with claim 12 further including a heating coil mounted on said bimetallic component and means electrically coupling said heating coil to said first male contact prong and said bimetallic

6. A winker including a body, said body having a main casing forming first and second recessed chambers and first and second surfaces, first and second slotted openings extending through said first surface to said first and second chambers, respectively, third and fourth slotted openings extending through said second surface to said first and second chambers, respectively, a load current interrupter including a bimetallic component within said first recessed chamber, first and second resilient female contacts positioned in said first and second chambers to make contact with male prongs inserted in said first and second slotted openings, respectively, said first resilient female contact being integral and forming a one-piece construction with said bimetallic component, first and second male contact prongs extending out of said third and fourth slotted openings, respectively, means for electrically coupling said first male contact prong to said first female contact and said second male contact

7. A winker in accordance with claim 15 wherein said second female contact and said second male contact prong are integral with each other and formed from one piece of material.

Description:
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

An outlet winker having an electrically actuable intermittent circuit interrupter located between a pair of male prong contacts on one side and a pair of female contacts on the other side into which can be plugged a conventional electrical device or fixture.

2. Description of the Prior Art

An outlet winker is a device which can be plugged into a wall outlet and can have plugged into it a conventional bayonet plug of an electrical lighting fixture. The electrical lighting fixture is thereby rendered intermittently operable so as to provide a desired flashing or winking effect. In the prior art, outlet winkers are disclosed which are relatively complicated and include many different components. For example, it has heretofore been difficult to provide in one component a relatively rigid male prong contact and a relatively flexible and resilient female contact. Moreover, in prior outlet winkers, a separate female contact has been required in addition to a separate bi-metal component. The simplification of the construction including reduction of components is an important feature of this invention. In order to test outlet winkers, it has heretofore been necessary to first close the housing of the winker in order to adequately enclose and support the electrical components of the winker. In the event of a fault, the housing must then be reopened in order to determine the exact difficulty. Features of this invention relate to the asymmetrical casing in which the electrical components are seated within the main casing and can be tested before the cover portion of the housing is affixed.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Purposes of the Invention

It is an object of this invention to provide an asymmetrical housing for an outlet winker to facilitate testing the electrical components of the winker before the housing is assembled.

It is another object of this invention to provide as a unitary structure in an outlet winker one of the female contacts as part of the bi-metal member which functions to intermittently interrupt the circuit through the winker.

It is another object of this invention to provide an outlet winker which includes essentially only three structural members which are enclosed in a housing and which function together as both male prong contacts, female contacts and intermittent interrupter.

Further objects and features of this invention will become apparent upon consideration of the description of preferred embodiments when read in conjunction with the drawing.

Brief Description of the Invention

The invention relates to an outlet winker and includes three main components which are recessed in a main casing and then enclosed therein by means of a cover. The three main components include a first conductive member which has a rigid male prong at one end and a relatively flexible female contact member at the other end. The first component is supported in slots and recessed areas of the main casing. The second component includes the other male prong contact at one end and a relatively stationary contact at a central portion thereof. The second component is connected at its other end by means of a thin wire to the heating winding of a bi-metallic member which is the third component. The third component is a relatively flexible member which has, at one end, a contact which selectively engages the centrally located contact of the second component, the contacts being spaced apart when the winker is idle, and, at its other end, forms the second relatively flexible female contact of the outlet winker. The third component is made of a bi-metallic element and supports along a relatively straight portion, a coiled resistance heating winding which is electrically connected to the second component.

When the outlet winker is inserted into an energized outlet, a connection is established through the male prong contact of the second component and through the winding on the bi-metallic member to the female contact of the bi-metallic member. When the plug of an electrical device is inserted in the outlet winker, a circuit is completed through the electrical device and through the winding on the bi-metallic member to the second component. With the winding energized, the bi-metallic member is heated and flexes to bring its contact against the contact of the second component. A parallel circuit path is accordingly established from the male prong contact through the closed contacts and the bi-metallic member to the female contact of the bi-metallic member. The current through the wiring is in this manner materially reduced permitting the bi-metallic member to cool off and reopen the contacts. The cycle is repeated with the current through the bi-metallic member to the electrical device being intermittently interrupted.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a pictorial view of the outlet winker of this invention;

FIG. 2 is a top view of the inside of the cover of the outlet winker;

FIG. 3 is a top view of the main housing and components supported therein of the outlet winker;

FIG. 4 is a sectional view taken substantially along the line 4--4 of FIG. 2;

FIG. 5 is an exploded pictorial view of the main housing and its three components;

FIG. 6 is an enlarged sectional view taken substantially along the line 6--6 of FIG. 5; and

FIG. 7 is an enlarged fragmentary top view of one of the electrical components in the main housing of the outlet winker.

DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring now in detail to the drawings and particularly to FIG. 1, the outlet winker 10 constructed in accordance with the present invention is shown having a main casing 12 and a cover 14 which mates with the main casing 12 and which is attached thereto by means of a screw 16. The screw 16 fits through a recessed opening 18, shown in FIGS. 3 and 5, in the main casing 12 into a hole 20 in the cover 14, shown in FIG. 2. A nut 22 engages the screw 16 which passes through the recessed hole 18 of the main casing 12 and the hole 20 of the housing 14. The main casing 12 and the cover 14 are made of electrically non-conductive material preferably a thermosetting synthetic resin such, for instance, as a phenol-formaldehyde condensation resin so as to be unaffected by high temperatures. The main casing 12 and the cover 14 are formed by molding to include suitable interior recesses, hereinafter described in detail, for holding the internal parts of the outlet winker 10. The molding provides for a suitable exterior surface having a configuration which provides a pleasing appearance.

The electrical components of the outlet winker consist of three conductive members 24, 26, and 28, shown in FIG. 3, and more particularly in the exploded perspective view of FIG. 5. The three electrically conductive components or members 24, 26, 28 are recessed in the main casing 12. As is hereinafter described, features of this invention relate to the provision of an asymmetrical housing for the outlet winker 10 in which the conductive members 24, 26, and 28 are recessed or fitted into the main casing or housing 12. With the conductive members 24, 26, and 28 recessed in this manner in the main casing 12, the operation of the winker 10 may be fully tested with the cover 14 removed. During assembly of the outlet winker 10, the main casing 12 and the components 24, 26, and 28 supported therein are assembled and then the unit is fully electrically tested. Thereafter, the cover 14 is affixed to the main casing 12. This procedure avoids disassembling the housing if a fault is discovered during testing.

The electrical components of the outlet winker 10 include a pair of male prong contacts 30 and 32. The contacts 30 and 32 extend from the main housing 12 and cover 14 of the outlet winker 10 as shown in FIG 1, and have the usual shape and dimensions adapted to be coupled with a standard female wall outlet. Each of the contacts or prongs 30 or 32 is formed by folding over the strips forming, respectively, the conductive members 24 and 26. The prongs 30 and 32 are accordingly straight and strong being relatively non-resilient due to the double thickness construction. The end 34 of the conductive member 24 which is folded over to form the contact prong 30, is juxtapositioned with an arcuate or semi-circular portion 36 of the member 24. The arcuate portion 36 and the end 24 resiliently engage a support pin 38 of the main casing 12. The conductive member 24 is fitted into a recessed chamber 40 of the main casing 12 with the prong 30 extending through a slot 42. Due to the slot 42 and the support pin 38, the conductive member 24 is firmly or snugly recessed in and held by the main casing 12.

The conductive member 24 has a female contact 44 at the end of the conductive member 24 opposite to the male contact prong 30. The conductive member 24 is constructed of a single strip of electrically conductive material fashioned from comparatively thin springy stock such as, for example, brass. The female contact 44 is resilient or flexible because of its single thickness construction whereas the male contact prong 30 is rigid because of its double thickness or folded over construction. The particular shape and configuration of the conductive member 24 in this manner provides for both male and female contact prongs and for means snugly engaging and fitting into the main casing 12.

Referring now to the other electrically conductive components 26 and 28, both of the conductive members 26 and 28 provide for a plurality of functions. The conductive member 26 may be made of the same material as is the conductive member 24 which, as indicated above, may be brass. The conductive member 28, however, is made of a thin bi-metallic strip which functions as a thermoblade and also as an electrical conductor. Referring first to the member 26, a male contact prong 32 similar to the contact prong 30 is provided at one end of the member 26. The member 26 has an arcuate portion 46 which together with the end 49 of the member 26 forms flexible holding means for engaging a support pin 48 of the main casing 12. The member 26 has a contact button 50 which is a circularly raised portion on the side of the conductive member 26. The contact button 50 may be made by punching an indentation or shallow hole 52 into the conductive member 26 to provide for a raised area on the opposite side thereof. As is hereinafter described, the contact button 50 is registered relative to a contact button 54 of the bi-metallic conductive component or member 28. The contact buttons 50 and 54 are normally spaced from each other to provide for an open circuit relationship through the contact buttons 50 and 54 between the conductive members 26 and 28. The contact surfaces of said buttons are silver plated.

At the end of the conductive member 26 opposite to the male prong contact 32 an outwardly flared raised holding member 56 is provided as an integral part of the conductive member 26. The holding member 56 is the only portion of the conductive members 24, 26, and 28 which extends from the main casing 12 into the cover 14 when the outlet winker 10 is assembled. The cover 14 has two recessed areas 57 and 59 to provide clearance for the support member 56.

The support member 56 has affixed thereto, in electrical contact therewith, one end of a thin laquer-insulated wire 61 which extends from a high resistance winding 58 on the conductive member 28. The bi-metallic conductive member 28 includes a thermoblade portion 60 which is relatively straight and which supports the winding 58 and the contact button 54 described above. The other end of the winding 58 is electrically connected to the thermoblade portion 60. The conductive member 28 further includes a female contact 62 in one piece therewith.

The operation of the outlet winker 10 occurs when the male prong 32 and the female contact 62 are series connected to an electric circuit. The circuit is completed when an electrical device, such as a lamp, is plugged into the outlet winker 10 and the winker 10 is plugged into a conventional female wall outlet. The current initially flowing through the series circuit passes through the male prong 32 and the coil 58 to the conductive member 28 and from the female contact 62 to the electrical device.

The coil 58 is supported on an asbestos tube 66. When the coil 58 is energized, it generates heat that slowly permeates through the asbestos tube 66 to the thermoblade portion 60 of the conductive member 28. The thermoblade portion 60 is so constructed that raising the temperature thereof causes it to flex inwardly whereby, after a predetermined interval of a few seconds, the contact button 54 will touch or come into contact with the button 50 of the conductive member 26. When the contact buttons 54 and 50 are closed, the full line current through the male prong 32 is shunted away from the coil 58 to pass through the contact buttons 50 and 54 and through the conductive member 28 allowing it to cool off because of the reduced current through the winding 58. The current through the contact buttons 50 and 54 forms a parallel path for the winding 58 to provide for the reduction of current thereto. Accordingly, shortly after the contact buttons 50 and 54 come into contact with each other, the full line current is provided to the electrical device which is plugged into the outlet winker 10.

When the thermoblade portion 60 cools off due to the reduced current through the coil 58, it restores to normal separating the contact button 54 from the contact button 50 and inserting the large resistance of the winding 58 in series with the device plugged into the outlet winker 10. With the contact buttons 54 and 50 apart in this manner, the full incandescent energization of the electric light plugged into the winker 10 is interrupted and the winding 58 is again energized. This cycle of opening and closing the contacts 54 and 50 to interrupt and then complete full energization of the illuminating device plugged into the outlet winker 10 is repeated at regular periods.

The conductive member 28 includes an arcuate portion 70 which fits about a support pin 72 of the main casing 12. The arcuate portion 70 is connected to the female contact 62 which was described above. A rectangular groove 74 of the conductive member 28 fits over a raised abutment 76 of the main casing 12. The conductive members 26 and 28 fit into a contiguous channel 80 and the two members 26 and 28 are partially separated by a raised portion 82 in the channel 80. Features of this invention relate to the provision of an asymmetrical housing because the winding 58 is made of very thin wire which is often broken. The broken wire is difficult to visually detect and accordingly must be electrically tested. By testing the outlet winker 10 before the cover 14 is affixed to the main casing 12, a simplified testing procedure is accomplished. The cover 14 has two buttons 23 and 25 which fit into depressions 27 and 29 of the main casing 12 and serve to maintain the cover 14 in exact alignment against the main casing 12.

It thus will be seen that there is provided an electric flasher which achieves the various objects of the invention and which is well adapted to meet the conditions of practical use. As various other possible embodiments may be made in the embodiment above set forth, it is to be understood that all matter herein described or shown in the accompanying drawing is to be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense.