Title:
Caddy apparatus for sweeping and collecting balls and the like
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An apparatus for sweeping and collecting ball-like objects from a horizontal surface. The surface bears much if not all of the weight of the collected objects. An essential feature of this invention is a flexible strap connected across the opening of an object-collection space. The strap serves to facilitate collection and retention of the ball-like objects. The object-collection space is defined by a sweeping frame in a concave shape with an opening in the direction of the sweeping motion. The flexible strap is connected in tension across the opening in order to facilitate the collection and retention of the objects.



Inventors:
Clay, Donald Eugene (Grand Junction, CO, US)
Application Number:
10/036904
Publication Date:
07/10/2003
Filing Date:
01/07/2002
Assignee:
CLAY DONALD EUGENE
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B47/02; (IPC1-7): A63B69/00; A63B69/38
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20070259728Ball TrapNovember, 2007Whitefield
20090305801LOCKING MECHANISM FOR A CONVERTIBLE GAME TABLEDecember, 2009Chung
20060293119Striking plate for golf club headDecember, 2006Hou
20040082413Pressurized sports hitting implementApril, 2004Leal et al.
20050143202Projectile catching and throwing toyJune, 2005Orlowski et al.
20050043107Billiard cue capable of adjusting weight and center of gravity thereofFebruary, 2005Kuo
20090029798True aim putterJanuary, 2009Stellander
20100056308RACKET HANDLE INSERT AND CORRESPONDING HANDLE AND RACKETMarch, 2010Babolat
20090170626Two hang gripJuly, 2009Chen et al.
20030022736Electronic football linesmanJanuary, 2003Cass
20060266341Paint ball simulation toyNovember, 2006Hambright et al.



Primary Examiner:
ARYANPOUR, MITRA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Lowell E. Clark (3229 B 1/2 Rd, Grand Junction, CO, 81503, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. Apparatus for sweeping and collecting ball-like objects on a substantially horizontal surface, comprising, in combination: frame means substantially perpendicular to said surface and having a generally concave shape for sweeping and collecting said objects, and flexible means partially enclosing said concave shape for allowing entry and impeding exit of said objects.

2. The apparatus according to claim 1, where said flexible means comprises a strap connected with said frame means and disposed at an acute angle with respect to said surface.

3. The apparatus according to claim 1, where said ball-like objects have a substantially uniform nominal diameter and said frame means is spaced from said substantially horizontal surface by an amount greater than zero and less than one-half said nominal diameter.

4. The apparatus according to claim 1, where said frame means contacts said rolling objects at a height above said substantially horizontal surface less than one-half said nominal diameter.

5. The apparatus according to claim 3, where said flexible means comprises a strap connected with said frame means.

6. The apparatus according to claim 5, where said strap has a width substantially equal to said nominal diameter.

7. The apparatus according to claim 2, where said acute angle is between about 25 degrees and about 65 degrees.

8. The apparatus according to claim 3, further including roller means attached to said frame means for spacing said frame means from said horizontal surface.

9. The apparatus according to claim 8, further including handle means detachably connected with said frame means for propelling said apparatus.

10. The apparatus according to claim 1, where said flexible means is held in tension by said frame means.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] This invention relates to an apparatus for sweeping rolling objects such as balls and, more particularly, to an apparatus that collects and retains the swept objects.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] In practicing for many sports involving balls, it is commonplace to use a large number of targets in order to concentrate the element of the swing or serve. This leads to a large number of rolling objects dispersed about the playing surface. Individual retrieval by hand is very tedious, and sweeping with a push broom usually results in continued dispersal. In the case where the practice object is a tennis ball, which is relatively easily compressible, it is known to utilize a vertical tube retriever which has a capture opening slightly less than the diameter of the ball and a collection diameter somewhat larger. While this arrangement obviates the tedious steps of repeated stooping, retrieval is still time-consuming and individual. An extension of this method involves a larger storage container having multiple collection apertures so that more than one ball may be retrieved at a time. Since the balls on the playing surface may not be closely spaced, little is gained in efficiency. In both of these methods, the individual user must carry the entire weight of the collected balls.

[0003] It is also known to use a stiff rolling cylindrical mesh having a mesh opening less than the diameter of the tennis ball. Depending on the number of balls collected within the cylinder, capture may be uncertain. As the weight of the collected balls builds up within the cylinder, expulsion becomes likely. The bulk and weight of such an apparatus makes it unsuitable for portability and storability by an individual user. Neither of the foregoing methods is very effective with objects which are relative incompressible, such as golf balls or baseballs. Thus a need has existed for a simple, reliable, and economical device for sweeping and collecting rolling objects.

[0004] Therefor, it is an object of the present invention to provide an apparatus for sweeping and collecting multiple balls in which the rolling motion of the balls is used to facilitate their sweeping and collection.

[0005] It is a further object of this invention to provide an apparatus, which is effective for collecting objects that are either compressible or relatively incompressible.

[0006] It is another object of this invention to provide an apparatus for collecting balls in which the surface from which the balls are collected bears most of the weight of the collected balls.

[0007] It is yet a further object of the present invention to provide an apparatus that will collect more than one object at a time.

[0008] It is still another object of this invention to provide an apparatus for sweeping and collecting multiple rolling objects that is adapted for easy portability and storability.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

[0009] In accordance with the present invention, there is disclosed an apparatus for sweeping and collecting rolling objects from a substantially horizontal surface. The apparatus comprises smooth arcuate frame means disposed substantially perpendicular to said surface and having a concave shape for sweeping and collecting the rolling objects. Flexible means disposed across the open portion of the concavity allow entry and impede exit of the objects.

[0010] In accordance with one embodiment of the invention, the frame means is spaced from the surface by wheels and/or castors to provide a suitable spacing from the surface and allow hand propulsion by means of a handle connected with the frame means.

[0011] In accordance with another embodiment of this invention, the frame means is suitably configured so that the weight of the accumulated objects exerts a downward force on the frame means so that the balls do not escape.

[0012] In yet another embodiment of this invention, the frame means is formed from flat stock sufficiently flexible so that flexible web means connected between its extremities holds the frame means in arcuate shape and provides a closed boundary for retention of the objects. When both the web means and the handle are easily detachable, transport and storage are facilitated.

[0013] The foregoing and other objects, features, and advantages will be apparent from the following, more particular, description of the principal embodiments of the invention, as illustrated in the accompanying figures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

[0014] FIG. 1 is a top view of an apparatus according to the present invention, principally showing the arcuate frame sweeping member and the flexible capture member at the entrance of the main frame concavity.

[0015] FIG. 2 is an enlarged cross-section through the center of FIG. 1, illustrating the details of the sweeping member and the capture member and their relationship to the collected objects.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0016] Referring now to FIG. 1, there is shown a top view of the apparatus 100 of the present invention. While not formally a part of the drawing, it may be imagined that the drawing page is the substantially horizontal surface on which the rolling objects are to be collected. The sweeping mainframe 1 has a concave shape for confining the rolling objects 2. By concave shape is meant that the mainframe defines a rolling-object collection space with an opening in the direction of the sweeping motion. While such a shape could in principle include a rectangle with one open side, it has been found that a smooth arcuate shape, such as that shown in FIG. 1, provides the best sweeping action. Strap 13 is connected in tension with extremities 4 of the mainframe 1 to enclose the balls 2 and to provide a flexible means for facilitating entrance and impeding exit of the rolling objects, as will be explained in more detail with reference to FIG. 2. Handle 7 (shown truncated) is preferably detachably connected to the mainframe 1 via connector 5 for propelling the apparatus. The three supports 9 provide attachment points for rollers such as castors and/or wheels (not shown in this Figure) to maintain the proper relationship of the caddy 100 to the collecting surface.

[0017] In an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, mainframe 1 comprises somewhat flexible plastic material and strap 13 is woven synthetic webbing. Mainframe 1 is initially a linear member about 100 inches long; it desired arcuate shape is achieved by connecting an approximately 70-inch flexible strap 13 across the extremities 4 of the frame 1. This results in a ball enclosure that is about 30 inches deep along the line AA in FIG. 1. Using these exemplary dimensions, it has been found that up to 90 tennis balls may be successfully swept and collected by the caddy 100. The strap connectors 11 may be shaped wire hooks so that the apparatus may be compacted for transport and storage. It will be appreciated that the foregoing dimensions are only exemplary. The apparatus may be scaled as desired for different numbers of balls so long as the dimensions have approximately the same ratio as the example.

[0018] Referring now to FIG. 2, there is shown a cross-section of the apparatus 100 through its center as indicated by the line AA in FIG. 1. This view is magnified approximately 2.5 times over that of FIG. 1 in order to show the details of the relationship of the frame 1 and the strap 13 to the collecting surface 200 and the balls in various positions. Frame 1 is supported in a raised position over the surface 200 by a wheel connected with wheel support member 9. In a like manner, the forward extremities of frame 1 are supported by castors under the wheel supports 9 near the strap 13 as shown in FIG. 1. These hold the frame above the rolling surface by an amount equal to about 5% to about 30% of the diameter of the balls to be collected. In a preferred embodiment, mainframe 1 comprises ¼ inch ABS plastic 1A edged or bordered by slotted ½ inch PVC pipe 1B to lend strength and stability to the frame 1 as well as to provide an attachment point for the handle 7 (again shown truncated) via a PVC tee fitting 5 into which the PVC edging 1B is slipped. Handle 7 may be PVC or metal pipe screwed into fitting 5.

[0019] In addition to providing support for the frame 1 and handle 7, edging 1B provides an additional important function as shown at the left-hand side of FIG. 2. As the apparatus 100 is swept to the right, rolling ball 2 in the vicinity of the handle 7 exerts a down ward force on the frame 1 because edging 1B is partly under the rolling ball. This aids greatly in preventing ball escape under the frame by keeping the frame from lifting as the weight of collected balls increases. It will be appreciated that the same principal could be incorporated in other ways, such as, for example, by tilting a frame having a flat cross-section in the direction of the sweeping motion at the bottom. What is important is that a portion of the frame contact the ball 2 at a point less than half the ball diameter above the surface.

[0020] At the right of FIG. 2, there is shown a ball 2 just outside the strap 13, illustrating the equilibrium position of the strap at an angle a to the horizontal. The strap 13 has a width approximately equal to the diameter of the ball to be collected, and its center is about a diameter above the collecting surface 200. The angle a is preferably about 45 degrees, however angles from about 25 degrees to about 65 degrees may be used at the price of some sacrifice in selectivity. As the apparatus 100 is swept to the right, FIG. 3(a) shows how the ball 2 causes the strap 13 to assume an essentially horizontal position whence it may be easily collected. During the transition, the ball 2 is rotating clockwise, helping to reposition the strap 13 into the horizontal position. FIG. 3(b) shows a collected ball 2 having rolled toward the strap 13, which tends to a vertical restraining position caused by the translation and the rotation of the ball 2. In accordance with the foregoing discussion, it will be appreciated that by flexible strap means is a strap 13 that locally assumes the positions described in FIGS. 2 and 3, that is, one ball may be collected while another ball is being restrained.

[0021] While the invention has been particularly shown and described with reference to preferred embodiments thereof, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that the foregoing and other changes in form and details may be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. For example, the mainframe, wheel supports, and the handle attachment might be of one-piece molded construction. The mainframe might be supported and propelled by a cart, in lieu of the wheels and handle.