PROBLEM AND PRIOR ART
The flashlight constructions heretofore known, particularly the disposable type flashlights, have been constructed so that only a particular type or size of battery could be utilized therewith. Therefore in the event that it became necessary to effect a change in the size and/or shape of a battery, as for example, when a battery supplier changes the shape of a battery or in the event a battery supplier terminated manufacture and/or availability of a particular type of battery, a flashlight manufacturer would then be forced to completely reconstruct and/or redesign the flashlight housing and the mechanical components thereof in order to adapt to any new change in the available battery sizes and shapes.
This invention is also directed to a flashlight construction in which the components are arranged to substantially enhance the assembly thereof to provide a flashlight which is simple and positive in operation. Generally in the assembly of small, hand-held flashlights and particularly in the assembly of the inexpensive, disposable type, the bulb is loosely positioned within the bulb socket and physically held in place thereby by an assemblyman as the other components are assembled. In the assembly of such flashlights, the reflector was required to be first assembled to the housing and thereafter the bulb in turn assembled to the reflector. Because the bulb is generally not threaded or otherwise retained in position in the flashlight constructions of the type to which this disclosure is directed, considerable difficulty had been encountered in positioning and maintaining the bulb in position within the socket until the other elements or component parts of the flashlight were assembled. Heretofore during the assembly of such flashlight constructions, the bulb would frequently fall out of the socket, and invariably would result in a defective bulb.
Also in disposable type flashlight construction, it is imperative that the component parts thereof be positively disposed and maintained in position relative to each other so as to provide for positive mechanical action. This is necessary in disposable type flashlights because once the flashlight has been constructed, the housing is sealed tight, and access to the internal parts of the flashlight can not be had without completely destroying the flashlight. Therefore in disposable flashlights, once a malfunction is had, it will invariably render the flashlight useless.
An object of this invention is to provide a flashlight construction of the relatively inexpensive type having an improved reflector bulb assembly so as to facilitate the overall assembly of the flashlight construction.
Another object of this invention is to provide a flashlight construction having a housing configuration and operatively associated components whereby the housing construction and the operating component parts can be utilized with more than one type and/or size of battery without necessitating any change in the construction or operation thereof.
Another object of this invention is to provide a relatively inexpensive flashlight construction which permits positive mechanical action with any of the optional selections of available batteries.
Another object is to provide a fliashlight construction having a reflector which is readily adapted to receive either a snap fitted bulb or a screw type bulb.
Another object of this invention is to provide in a flashlight construction an arrangement of a bulb and reflector sub-assembly which may be pre-assembled so as to facilitate the overall assembly of the flashlight construction.
Another object of this invention is to provide an improved flashlight construction wherein the time, cost and effort in effecting the assembly of the flashlight is reduced to a minimum.
SUMMARY OF INVENTION
The foregoing objects and other features and advantages of this invention are attained by a flashlight construction which is particularly applicable to the making of a disposable flashlight. The flashlight comprises a housing defining a pair of complementary shell portions which in the assembled position thereof define a lens opening. A reflector having a bulb socket integrally connected thereto wherein the bulb can be readily preassembled to the reflector and loosely, but positively retained in the bulb socket thereof, for assembly, by means of circumferentially spaced retaining means disposed in the bulb socket; or in a modified embodiment secured in an adaptor fitted to the reflector. Operatively disposed within the housing are a pair of conducting spring contact members particularly arranged to connect the bulb into and out of electrical circuit with a battery means adapted to be confined within the housing. The arrangement is such that one of the conducting spring contact members connects one electrode of the battery means in electrical contact with the bulb. The other spring contact member is connected at one end into electrical contact with the bulb, and having its other end free to flex in and out of contact with the other electrode of the battery means to make and break the circuit to the bulb. A slide switch is operatively associated with the remote or other end of the second contact member to effect a flexing of the remote end between an "on" and "off" position. Cooperatively associated with the slide switch is a guide or flange which is disposed to position and guide the flexing end of the second contact member in assembling and during operation.
The internal walls of the complementary shell portions are formed with internal ribbing arranged to accommodate and locate the optional battery sizes and/or shapes within the housing in a manner so as to make it unnecessary to change the shape of the housing and/or the shape and function of the mechanical components of the flashlight. The internal ribbings are disposed to locate either a multi-cell unitary block type of battery configuration or a plurality of round or cylindrical independent battery cells. When the round independent battery cells are used, a third spring contact is disposed within the housing for connecting the independent battery cells into electrical series circuit arrangement; and for exerting a spring bias on the respective batteries to insure positive electrical contact and assembly holding pressure.
A feature of this invention resides in the provision of a flashlight construction having a minimum number of component parts positively disposed with respect to one another so as to insure positive and fool-proof mechanical operation of the flashlight.
Another feature of this invention resides in the provision of a reflector bulb sub-assembly in which the bulb may be pre-assembled to the light reflector so that the reflector and bulb sub-assembly may be assembled as a component part to the housing construction to facilitate the overall assembly of the flashlight.
Another feature resides in a flashlight housing formed of complementary shell portions having internal ribbing arranged to facilitate the locating and/or positioning of the optional types of battery means within the housing.
Another feature of this invention resides in a disposable flashlight having an improved switching arrangement for making and breaking the circuit to the light bulb in which the switch is recessed to prohibit accidental energizing.
Another feature resides in the provision of an adapter which can be readily fitted to the bulb socket of the reflector for adapting the bulb socket for receiving a screw type bulb.
Other features and advantages will become more readily apparent when considered in view of the drawings and specification in which:
FIG. 1 is a sectional elevation view of a flashlight construction embodying the present invention.
FIG. 2 is a detailed perspective view of the slide switch utilized in the embodiment of FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is a detailed perspective view of the bulb reflector and associated bulb socket.
FIG. 4 is a sectional view of the reflector and bulb sub-assembly.
FIG. 5 is a fragmentary detail of a modified construction of the invention.
FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional plan view taken along lines 6--6 on FIG. 1 to illustrate the relative position of the respective optional type batteries adapted to be used in conjunction with the flashlight construction of FIG. 1.
FIG. 7 is an inside plan view of a complementary housing section of the flashlight construction.
FIG. 7A is a cross-sectional view taken along line 7A--7A of FIG. 1.
FIG. 8 is an end view looking along line 8--8 on FIG. 7.
FIG. 9 is an inside plan view of the other complementary housing section.
FIG. 10 is an end view looking along line 10--10 on FIG. 9.
FIG. 11 is a sectional view taken along line 11--11 on FIG. 9.
FIG. 12 is a detailed sectional view of a modified construction.
FIG. 13 is a detailed perspective view of the adapter utilized in the modified construction of FIG. 12.
Referring to the drawings there is shown in FIG. 1 a flashlight construction 100 embodying the present invention. The flashlight construction 100 of FIG. 1 is particularly adapted for use in the construction of a relatively inexpensive flashlight e.g., the disposable type of flashlight. The flashlight construction 100 comprises essentially of a housing 101 defined by complementary shell or dish shaped sections 101A, 101B which are constructed to be butted into edge to edge relationship to define the housing 101. As best seen in FIG. 6, and with particular reference to FIGS. 7 and 9, each shell portion 101A, 101B comprises a sidewall portion 102 and 102A having a circumscribed, inturned end wall portion to define a bottom wall half section 103, 103A, a front wall half section 104, 104A, and a rear wall half section 105, 105A, and an inclined top wall half section 106, 106A. In the assembled position of the complementary shell portions 101A, 101B, a lens opening 107, 107A is defined in the upper end thereof immediately above the front wall portion 104, 104A. The lens opening 107, 107A is defined with opposed grooves 108, 108A adapted to receive the lateral flanges 109 of a bulb reflector 110 and a lens or window 111.
The housing section 101A, FIG. 9 is also formed with internal guides to position and retain the various components, e.g., reflector 110, contact springs or conducting members 125 and 126 and bulb base 117A. For example as best seen in FIGS. 9 and 10, the housing section 101A in the upper portion thereof in the vicinity of the reflector 110, is provided with an inwardly extending arcuate rib 140 having a seat defining curve 141 arranged to engage and stabilize the reflector 110 in the assembled position. A second inwardly extending arcuate rib 142 is provided to provide a saddle for receiving the bulb socket portion 113 of the reflector in the assembled position. A further rib 143 is provided to form a saddle for the bulb base portion 117A in the assembled position.
Operatively connected to the rib portion 143 is a guide rib 144 which extends inwardly and parallel to the top wall 106 adjacent a recess switch location 130. Guide rib 144 functions to guide the switch 129 in the assembled position of the flashlight as flange 129D of switch 129 is guided thereby, and to prohibit any misalignment of the contact strip 126 either during assembly or during operation of the light, which in either event would adversely effect the operation of the light.
Housing section is also provided with complementary rib portions 140A, 142A and 143A to provide a saddle for locating the reflector 110, its bulb socket 113 and the bulb base 117A in the assembled position of the housing.
In the assembled position the respective reflector and bulb guides or ribs 140, 140A, 142, 142A and 143, 143A positively position and maintain the alignment of the reflector and bulb in the assembled position for maximum operating efficiency.
As best seen in FIGS. 9 to 11, the upper transverse ribs 122 extend to substantially the medial portion of the housing in the assembled position with the portion extending beneath the switch opening 130 cut away as indicated at 122A in FIG. 11. A vertical reinforcing rib 145 extends between said transverse rib 122 and pin 128. Also a transverse reinforcing rib 146 extends between saddle rib 142, 143 and reinforcing rib 145. It will be understood that shell portions 101A and 101B are preferably formed of molded plastic and that the guides, saddles and reinforcing ribs are integrally formed with the respective half sections 101A, 101B.
Referring to FIGS. 3 and 4, the bulb reflector 110 comprises a concave reflector portion 110A terminating in a bulb opening 112 which is circumscribed by a bulb socket 113. As best seen in FIGS. 3 and 4, a circumferential portion of the bulb socket is cut away to define a slotted opening 114. An inturn shoulder 115 circumscribing the bulb opening or inner end of the bulb socket 113 defines a bulb seat.
Spaced from the shoulder 115 or bulb seat, and circumferentially spaced about the internal periphery of the bulb socket 113 are a plurality of retaining means in the form of inwardly extending bosses 116.
The bulb 117 adapted for use in the light construction of FIG. 1 comprises a base portion 117A having a laterally extending flange or collar 118. The arrangement is such that the bulb 117 can be pre-assembled to the reflector 110 by simply locating the bulb 117 so that the collar 118 can be readily snapped into position between the internal shoulder 115 and the retaining bosses 116. The spacing between the shoulder 115 and the retaning bosses 116 is sufficiently large to receive the bulb collar inserted into the bulb socket by a simple snapping of the collar past the retaining means 116 so that in the pre-assembled relationship thereof, as seen in FIG. 4, the bulb is loosely, but positively retained to the reflector 110 between the inturned shoulder 115 and the retaining means 116. In the assembly of the respective shell half portions 101A, 101B, the reflector-bulb,sub-assembly can be readily assembled thereto as a unit.
As best seen in FIG. 1, the complementary shell portions 101A, 101B are each provided with opposed longitudinally extending ribs 119 which project inwardly of the housing. As best seen in FIG. 6, it will be noted that the housing or shells in the assembled position define a battery chamber 120 to receive either a pair of round, independent battery cells 121, as shown in solid lines in FIG. 1, or a unitary block type battery 121A (dotted).
As will be hereinafter described, the housing can accommodate a round type of battery, e.g., a "C" type dry cell wherein the opposed ribs 119 function to locate the batteries 121 therebetween as shown in FIG. 6. Upper and lower transverse ribs 122 and 123 are provided to positively retain the respective battery cells 121 in position within the housing in the assembled position thereof. Alternatively a block type battery, e.g., a 3 cell unitary block 121A may be disposed within battery chamber 120 of the housing as evident in FIGS. 1 and 6.
In the event that the independent cells 121 are to be used, a conducting member 124 in the form of a substantially U- or V-shaped spring member is secured adjacent to the bottom of the battery housing with the opposed arms 124A thereof being disposed in electrical contact with the electrodes of the battery 121 so as to connect the independent cells in series circuit relationship. The conducting member, being formed of spring material, will also exert a spring bias or force on the batteries tending to maintain the respective cells in position to be positively electrically engaged by the spring contact members 125 and 126 adapted to circuit with the battery means.
In the illustrated form of the invention of FIG. 1 bulb contact members 125, 126 include a first spring contact 125 for connecting the bulb into positive electrical contact with one electrode or side of the battery means 121 or 121A. As best seen in FIG. 1 the bulb contact strip 125 comprises flat conducting spring or wire having a reverse bent portion 125A, the free end of which is disposed into electrical contact with the electrode of the battery means 121 or 121A. The other end 125B of the contact member 125 is bent so as to effect electrical contact with the base end of the bulb 117. To insure positive engagement between the end 125B of the contact 125 and the base of the bulb 117, the contact 125 may be provided with a dimpled or recessed portion to accommodate and provide positive engagement with the base end of the bulb 117. The spring contact 125 defined is positively retained in position to engage the electrode of the battery and the bulb by a retaining boss 127 integrally formed as part of a shell portion of the housing. The retaining boss 127 is formed with an extending slot therein by which the spring contact 125 can be readily inserted and retained to the housing during assembly.
The second spring contact member 126 is disposed to effect engagement between the bulb 117 and the other electrode of the battery means 121 or 121A. As best seen in FIG. 1, one end 126A of the spring contact 126 is bent so as to engage the base portion 117A of the bulb under a spring force. The bulb engaging end 126A of the spring contact 126 effects electrical contact with the base of the bulb by being disposed in alignment with the slotted opening 114 formed in the bulb socket 113. The other end 126B of the contact member 126 is free to flex into and out of engagement with the other electrode of the battery means. The arrangement is such that the flexing end 126B of the spring contact 126 functions as a switch for making and breaking the circuit to the bulb.
Spring contact member 126 is fixedly secured to a shell portion 101A of the housing by a retaining boss 128 integrally connected to the associated shell and having a slot formed therein for receiving and retaining an intermediate portion of the spring contact 126.
Cooperatively associated with the flexing end 126B of the spring contact 126 is a slide actuator or switch 129. As best seen in FIG. 2 the slide actuator or switch 129 compresses a finger portion 129A which is adapted to extend externally of the housing 101. Depending from the finger portion 129A is a central projection 129B which is adapted to be slideably received in the slotted opening 130 formed by the top wall portion 106 of the housing. A transversely extending retaining flange 129C is connected to the depending projection 129B for retaining the switch actuator 129 in the assembled relationship of the housing shell portion. To provide a means for guiding the slide actuator 129 and also to provide a means for locating and positioning the flexing end 129B of the spring contact 126, the switch actuator includes a guide or flange 129D depending from the retaining flange portion 129C. As best seen in FIG. 1, the depending guide or flange 129D of the slide actuator 219 is arranged to engage a side edge portion of the spring contact member 126 along which the actuator is guided between the on and off positions.
The switch actuator also includes a cam surface 131 which is adapted to engage the free end 126B of spring contact 126 to effect displacement thereof between an engaging and non-engaging position relative to the associated electrode of the battery means 121 or 121A in energizing and de-energizing the bulb. To maintain the bulb on in an energized position a retaining bump or hump 132 is formed on the spring contact intermediate the end thereof. The arrangement is such that when the cam 131 of the switch actuator is cammed or rides over the retaining hump 132 of the spring contact 126, the slide actuator is disposed to maintain the flexing or switch end of the contact in a bulb energizing position without the need of maintaining one's finger on the finger portion 129A of the switch actuator. To de-energize the bulb, the slide actuator 129 is shifted to its rearward position as indicated by the solid line showing in FIG. 1; thereby permitting the switch end of the contact 126 to flex to its off position.
FIG. 5 illustrates a modified construction of a coupling contact 124B for engaging the independent batteries in series circuit relationship. As shown in FIG. 5, it will be noted that the bottom or coupling contact 124B may be substituted for the V-shaped contact 124 of FIG. 1. The modified arrangement of FIG. 5 illustrates the connecting contact as comprising a pair of coil spring. A contact 124B formed to define independent wire spring coils 124C and 124D integrally connected by an interconnecting portion, the arrangement being such that the entire spring contact 124B can be formed from a single piece of electrical conducting wire. In the form of FIG. 5, the respective coils 124C and 124D exert an independent spring force on the respective battery cells 121.
It will be noted that in the event the flashlight is constructed with a unitary battery means, e.g., battery 121A, the bottom contact spring 124B is eliminated. In all other respects the components of the flashlight herein described remain unchanged.
From the foregoing description it will be readily apparent that a housing 101 and associated component parts, e.g., reflector 110, bulb 117, contacts 125, 126 and actuator 129 can be readily assembled so as to render optional the utilization of either independent cell bateries 121 or block batteries 121A, without effecting any change in the structural or functional relationship of the housing and/or the component parts operatively associated therewith to effect the operation of the light.
The assembly of the flashlight construction 100, in either case, is greatly simplified by the reflector-bulb preassembled sub-combination as the latter can be readily fitted as a unit to one of the housing shells during assembly. The bulb contact strips 125 and 126 are readily fitted to their respective retaining bosses 127, 128. The slide actuator can be readily fitted into the slotted portion of the shell portion; and the desired battery source placed in position in the complementary shell portion. Completion of the assembly is attained by simply fitting the complementary shell portion to the shell portion to which the components were assembled. If desired the respective shell portions can be sealed or integrally welded to form a disposable light. The arrangement is such that the bulb 117 is maintained in positive contact under a biasing spring force by the respective contact strips 125, 126 and the action of the switch actuator on the flexing end of the spring contact 126 insures positive mechanical action.
With the construction described, the slot 114 formed in the bulb socket 113 and the manner it cooperates with spring contact 126 provides for positive electrical contact. Also the spring tension of the contact 126 acting on the bulb functions to assist in maintaining alignment of the bulb. Also the slot forms a guide for maintaining the alignment of the reflector to maintain maximum efficiency of the reflecting surface.
With the construction described the components described can be readily utilized with conventional independent cell type batteries, e.g., C type dry cell batteries and the like, or with a multiple cell block type battery. If desired the respective shell portions may be formed with integrally formed partitions 133 to define a saddle which may further assist in locating and maintaining the bulb in position in the assembled portion.
FIGS. 12 and 13 illustrate a modified embodiment of the invention. In this form of the invention, the construction of the overall assembly for the flashlight is similar in all respects to that hereinbefore described with respect to FIGS. 1 to 11, with the exception that a bulb adapter 160 is provided to accommodate a screw based bulb to the reflector bulb socket 113.
Referring more specifically to FIG. 12, the adaptor 160 comprises a tubular member or body portion 160A having a slotted opening 162 formed in the upper portion thereof. Circumscribing the slotted end of the body portion 160A is a laterally extending flange or collar 163. Adjacent the front end of the slotted opening 162 is an upstanding transversely extending rib 164. Circumferentially spaced about the tubular body 160A adjacent the end collar or flange 163 is a plurality of retaining wedges 165. The bore 166 of the tubular member 160A is formed with a land or thread 167 which complements the screw threads 168 formed on the base of bulb 161. As best seen in FIG. 12, the forward end of the tubular member is formed with a reduced lip portion 160C to define a circumscribing shoulder 169 spaced from the front end.
In the assembled position as seen in FIG. 12 the adaptor 160 can be readily fitted to the bulb socket 113 so that the reduced lip portion 160C is recieved in opening 112 of the reflector 110. The shoulder 169 of the adaptor 160 abuts against the bulb seat 115. The adaptor 160 is fitted to the bulb socket 113 so that the slotted opening 162 formed therein is disposed in alignment with the opening 114 of the bulb socket.
To retain the adaptor 160 in position within the bulb socket 113, the adaptor is press fitted thereinto so that the wedges 165 frictionally retain the adaptor 160 within the socket 113. With the adaptor frictionally fitted in place within the bulb socket 113 of reflector 110 it will be noted that the bulb 161 can be readily threaded and retained in the adaptor 160.
The adaptor thus described enhances the versatility of the overall flashlight construction described in that either a snap in bulb, e.g., 117, or a screw in bulb 161 can be utilized in the assembly.
While the instant invention has been described with respect to particular embodiments thereof variations and modifications may be made without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention.