Title:
Dynamic play equipment for children
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The invention concerns a dynamic game for children consisting of a cylinder (1) open at its ends and capable of rotating about its longitudinal central axis (X). The invention is characterized in that: the cylindrical body (1) consists of parallel slats (6); the slats (6) are maintained in place by two peripheral rings (8) fixed on their outer surface and supporting a continuous raceway (10); the diameter of the cylinder (1) is such that the user should be lying down; the pairs of support rollers (4) are positioned such that they form between them an angle of at least 120° relative to the cylinder center; the support frame (2) for the cylinder (1) consists of two fixed rings (12) supporting the guide rollers (4) pressed against the two raceways (10) provided at the cylinder periphery.



Inventors:
Sandoz, Jean-luc (Morges, CH)
Muller-duchene, Francoise (Cresuz, CH)
Application Number:
10/036699
Publication Date:
07/11/2002
Filing Date:
12/31/2001
Assignee:
Sandoz, Jean-luc (Morges, CH)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B19/04; A63G29/00; (IPC1-7): A63G1/12
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, KIEN T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Heslin & Rothenberg, P.C.,Philip E. Hansen (5 Columbia Circle, Albany, NY, 12203, US)
Claims:
1. Dynamic play equipment for children of the type consisting of a cylinder (1) open at its ends and capable of rotating about its longitudinal central axis (X), said cylinder (1) being mounted on a support frame (2) comprising two pairs of rollers (4) arranged in planes perpendicular to the axis of the cylinder and separated axially, the rollers of each pair being arranged on each side of the vertical plane passing through the axis of the cylinder, characterized in that: the cylindrical body (1) consists of parallel slats (6), with a gap between two consecutive slats; said slats (6) are held in position by two peripheral rings (8) fixed on their outer surface, set slightly back from each end (9) of the cylinder and supporting a continuous peripheral race (10); the diameter of the cylinder (1) is limited, so that the user is stretched out inside the cylinder and not standing as in previous constructions; the pairs of bearing rollers (4) are spaced apart so as to form an angle of at least 120° with respect to the center of the cylinder, a third pair of rollers (5) being provided at the top in the vertical plane passing through the cylinder axis; and the support frame (2) for said cylinder (1) consists of two fixed annuluses (12) supporting the guide rollers (4) against the two races (10) provided around the periphery of the drum, these annuluses being mounted on posts (M) arranged on each side of the cylinder (1).

2. The dynamic play equipment as claimed in claim 1, characterized in that the cylinder is positioned horizontally with respect to the ground.

3. The dynamic play equipment as claimed in claim 1, characterized in that the cylinder is mounted on the support to form an angle with respect to the horizontal, the angle preferably being less than 10°.

4. The dynamic play equipment as claimed in one of claims 1-3, characterized in that the two peripheral annuluses (12) act as supports for complementary decorative parts giving the equipment for example the external appearance of an animal, making the play equipment even more attractive.

5. The dynamic play equipment as claimed in one of claims 1-3, characterized in that a second cylinder (13), also consisting of slats spaced apart from each other and mounted so as to be stationary on the support frame of the mobile drum (1), surrounds the drum.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates to the field of children's play equipment, and more especially dynamic play equipment such as those erected in playgrounds in urban environments, which have hitherto essentially consisted of swings and roundabouts. These are very often criticized because of the risks they present and are subject to very strict safety standards.

[0002] The invention relates to a new type of dynamic play equipment that can be used both in public spaces and privately, even by very young children, and that eliminates virtually all risks during use, whilst also being very attractive.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PRIOR ART

[0003] Among the techniques proposed up to the present time, the production of “squirrel cage” type systems in which the rotation is imparted by a user inside said cage, which is in the form of a cylinder, has long been proposed, as shown for example by U.S. Pat. No. 3,869,119 and patent FR-A-2 464 732.

[0004] In the embodiment described in the abovementioned U.S. patent, the equipment takes the form of a cylinder rotating about a central axis: the user walks inside the cylinder, thus making it rotate. A seat is provided at the side, enabling a second child to join in the game, in which case said seat is driven simultaneously with the rotation of the cage.

[0005] However, there are undoubtedly risks to children with such a design because the child who is propelling the cage and is positioned inside it is exposed to the public outside the play equipment as its side is open to allow access. Similarly the child sitting on the seat is not protected and there may be a risk of someone falling as the cage rotates, particularly as a result of the speed of rotation, which cannot be controlled, and the jolts which can occur.

[0006] The second solution disclosed in French patent 2 464 732, in which the rotating cylinder is not carried by a central fixed spindle but supported by external rollers, is more promising but the user, who is inside, has to exert considerable force to make the drum turn, largely owing to the fact that the equipment comprises two pairs of loadbearing rollers disposed on either side of the vertical plane passing through the axis of the cylinder at a short distance from said vertical plane.

[0007] A design of this kind in which the bearing rollers are at the bottom therefore demands a force greater than the weight of the cylinder in order to drive it and can therefore be set in motion only if the user is standing inside the cylinder.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0008] The invention relates to a new type of dynamic play equipment that is not only very safe for the user, more particularly a child, but that can also be set in motion almost instantaneously with no great physical effort from said user.

[0009] In general terms the new dynamic play equipment in accordance with the invention is of the type consisting of a cylinder open at its ends and capable of rotating about its longitudinal central axis, said cylinder being mounted on a support frame comprising two pairs of loadbearing rollers arranged in planes perpendicular to the axis of the cylinder and separated axially, the rollers of each pair of rollers being arranged on each side of the vertical plane passing through the axis of the cylinder, and it is characterized in that:

[0010] the cylindrical body consists of parallel slats, with a gap between two consecutive slats;

[0011] said slats are held in position by two peripheral rings fixed on their outer surface, set slightly back from each end of the cylinder and supporting a continuous peripheral race;

[0012] the diameter of the drum is limited, so that the user is stretched out inside the cylinder and not standing as in previous constructions;

[0013] the pairs of bearing rollers are spaced apart so as to form an angle of at least 120° with respect to the center of the cylinder (while being of course less than 180°), a third pair of rolling bearings being provided at the top in the vertical plane passing through the cylinder axis; and

[0014] the support frame for said cylinder consists of two fixed annuluses supporting the guide rollers against the two races provided around the periphery of the drum, these annuluses being mounted on posts arranged on each side of the cylinder.

[0015] In accordance with the invention the cylinder therefore forms a “cradle” in which the child lies. Said cylinder may be either horizontal or preferably slightly inclined, forming an angle of up to a maximum of 10° with respect to the horizontal, though it is preferably about 5 to 70° so that there is no natural sliding of the user.

[0016] Furthermore, the inside diameter of the cylinder will be advantageously between 50 cm and 75 cm to encourage the child to enter inside in a prone position.

[0017] Once inside, the child stays prone or, possibly, if he is flexible and not too plump, can sit and, owing to the design of said equipment, as soon as he makes a movement, the cylinder will oscillate with a pendulum movement, rocking the child as it seeks the point of equilibrium.

[0018] Consequently, unlike earlier attempts, play equipment such as this merely produces a rocking motion and its complete rotation can only be brought about by external action.

[0019] If desired, the fixed peripheral annuluses that form the frame may be fitted with decorative parts, giving the equipment for example the external appearance of an animal, making the play equipment even more attractive.

[0020] Another possibility is to attach parallel slats at intervals around these peripheral annuluses so that the slats are stationary around the cylindrical body, in which case these slats may if desired be of a different color than the mobile cylindrical body so as to create a mix of colors as the body rotates.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0021] The invention and the advantages which it provides will however be understood more clearly with the help of the illustrative embodiment that follows, provided by way of non-limiting guidance and illustrated in the accompanying diagrams, in which:

[0022] FIG. 1 is a general side view of the complete play equipment constructed in accordance with the invention;

[0023] FIG. 2 is a general end view in the direction marked F in FIG. 1, showing the general structure of such play equipment;

[0024] FIG. 3 is a detail section view showing how the drum is attached to the fixed frame and the structure of the bearings in which it rotates;

[0025] FIG. 4 shows diagrammatically in section the structure and positioning of two consecutive slats forming the drum of the play equipment in accordance with the invention;

[0026] FIG. 5a is a diagram illustrating the reasons relating to the positioning at 120° with respect to the center of the bearing rollers, compared with a positioning in accordance with the prior art as illustrated in FIG. 5b, corresponding to the state of the art represented by FR-A-2 464 732;

[0027] FIG. 6 is a side view showing play equipment in accordance with the invention equipped with a decorative part; and

[0028] FIG. 7 is a perspective view illustrating a variant in which the mobile cylinder is surrounded by a stationary second cylinder mounted on the support assembly and consists similarly of slats spaced apart from each other.

[0029] Referring to the accompanying FIGS. 1, 2 and 3, the play equipment in accordance with the invention is of the type consisting of a cylinder, denoted by the general reference (1), open at its ends and capable of rotating about its longitudinal axis XX.

[0030] Said cylinder is mounted on a support frame, denoted by the general reference (2), whose structure, in accordance with the invention, will be detailed later.

[0031] The support frame comprises two pairs of rollers, both denoted by the same reference (4), arranged in planes perpendicular to the axis of the cylinder and separated axially, the rollers of each pair being arranged on each side of the vertical plane passing through said cylinder.

[0032] In addition a third roller (5) is arranged at the top in the vertical plane passing through the axis of the cylinder.

[0033] In accordance with the invention the cylindrical body (1) is made up of mutually parallel slats, all denoted by the same reference (6), with a gap between said slats.

[0034] FIG. 4 illustrates the structure of each slat (6), whose cross section, in one embodiment, is, expressed in millimeters, 55×25, the length being equal to 1600 mm.

[0035] A rounded chamfer (7) with a radius equal to or greater than 3 mm is formed on corners and edges that can come into contact with the user, for the sake of user safety. Additionally, the spacing (e) between two consecutive slats (6) is generally between 25 and 30 mm.

[0036] These slats (6) are held in their relative positions by two peripheral rings (8) consisting of a steel plate (see FIG. 3) set slightly back from the extreme edges (9) of the slats (6).

[0037] These peripheral rings support a race (10) which in the present case is a bent tube having a diameter of for example 50 mm and welded to a base (11) which itself is fixed to the ring (8).

[0038] The diameter of the drum (1) is limited to between 50 and 75 cm so that the user preferably lies down inside the cylinder and is not standing up as in earlier versions.

[0039] It is possible, if desired, for the user to be in a sitting position.

[0040] In the embodiment illustrated, the inside diameter of the cylinder is some 675 mm while the thickness of the slats is 25 mm. For a drum of this kind, when the slats employed have a width of 55 mm, the drum therefore consists of 26 slats spaced apart from each other by about 27.8 mm.

[0041] The pairs of rolling bearings (4) are spaced apart from each other to form an angle of 120° with respect to the center of the cylinder.

[0042] To keep the cylinder securely in position, the support frame is, as can be seen more particularly in FIGS. 1, 2 and 3, made up of two identical assemblies denoted by the general reference (C) in FIG. 1 and shown in greater detail in the section seen in FIG. 3.

[0043] Each assembly (C) is made up of a fixed annulus (12) supporting the holding and guiding rollers (4) and the roller (5) provided at the top in the vertical plane.

[0044] These rollers are mounted on the annuluses (12) via spindles (15), about which they can turn freely on rolling bearings (14). The rollers can be made of any appropriate material—plastic, metal—and their peripheral structure includes a groove (15) that bears on the surface of the races (10) mounted around the outside of the drum. A protective cowling (20) forms a housing to completely surround the drum's supporting and guiding system.

[0045] For complete stability, the annuluses (12) are mounted on four posts (M), two per annulus, which are arranged at either side.

[0046] The posts (M) may either be of the same height, thus giving a cylinder (1) which is horizontally positioned, or, as shown in FIG. 1, may be of different lengths to provide a slight inclination with respect to the horizontal, the inclination being generally about 5 to 7°.

[0047] Preferably, as stated earlier, the slats are made of wood, which is a good heat insulator with an agreeable feel and a pleasant sensation to the child. It also means that the equipment is neither too cold in winter nor too hot in summer.

[0048] As far as the type of wood is concerned, species that are unaffected by outdoor exposure, such as oak or an exotic wood such as teak or iroko, will be used.

[0049] Less durable woods could if wished be used provided they were first subjected to a heat treatment such as “retification” to increase their durability.

[0050] The particular function of the play equipment in accordance with the invention is the special effect occasioned by any movement of a child lying inside the cylinder, namely that it oscillates with a rocking or pendulum type motion, which can be explained as follows, referring to FIGS. 5a and 5b, FIG. 5a illustrating the result obtained when using play equipment according to the invention, and figure 5b the result which would be obtained on the basis of the teaching of FR-A-2 464 732 and assuming that that equipment is used by a person not standing inside the cylinder, as that patent implies, but in a lying position.

[0051] Compared with the prior art, the essential difference resides therefore in the characteristic whereby the loadbearing rollers (4) form an angle of 120° with respect to the center of the cylinder, whereas in the orior art as disclosed by the aforementioned patent, the supporting rollers are, it is true, arranged on each side of the vertical plane passing through the center, but close to this plane.

[0052] The movement is generated as the resultant of the displacement of the mass inside the cylinder.

[0053] As a result of the displacement, the linear mass is eccentric with respect to the previous equilibrium, and the cylinder rotates in order to find a new equilibrium. Equilibrium is achieved when the general mass has the same force on the loadbearing rollers (4).

[0054] According to the invention, however, the further the wheels are spaced apart, the less force is required to move the cylinder. In fact the decomposition of the force on the rollers should be observed, with a component perpendicular to the wheel (normal N) and a tangential component (T) along the tangent to the rollers. It is the force along this tangent which generates the rotary movement about the cylinder axis.

[0055] Referring to the accompanying FIGS. 5a and 5b, when an equilibrium force F is displaced inside the cylinder to become F′1, the forces on the wheels become different and the wheel towards which the force has been displaced receives an excess force that decomposes into N and T. As can be seen, for the same displacement of the force inside the cylinder, the effort T generating the rotational moment is much greater in the system of the invention than in the system of the prior art.

[0056] Consequently, with such a design, in which the support frame is designed so that the lower rollers form a maximum angle, it is possible to make the cylinder rock however slight the movements of the child lying inside the drum.

[0057] It should also be observed that in such a design in which the drum is supported near its ends by two peripheral annuluses, the cages corresponding to these annuluses can be used as supports for complementary decorative parts, such as that shown in FIG. 6, giving the equipment for example the external appearance of an animal, making the play equipment even more attractive.

[0058] FIG. 7 illustrates a variant produced in accordance with the invention in which the cylindrical body (1) consisting of slats is surrounded by a second cylinder (13), also consisting of slats but stationary and mounted around the first cylinder, for example on the annuluses forming the support frame for the cylinder (1). The slats of this cylinder (13) may be of a different color to the slats of the cylinder (1). In this way, when the cylinder (1) rotates inside the stationary cylinder (11), color mixing effects occur.

[0059] The invention is not of course limited to the concrete illustrative embodiment described above but covers all variants thereof produced in the same spirit.