Title:
Underwater viewing apparatus
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An apparatus for viewing underwater environment includes a generally hollow housing having a first end engageable with a water surface, an opposed second end and a sloping conical portion connecting the first end and the second end, elevating the second end to a predetermined distance from the water surface, when the first end is engaged therewith and providing unobstructed viewing of the underwater environment from the second end. A transparent pane member is mounted in a watertight manner with the first end of the housing and is engageable with the water surface for enabling viewing of the underwater environment. A face guard is attached to the second end for preventing light from entering an interior portion of the housing and causing a glare on the pane member. A counterbalance member is integrally disposed within the housing adjacent the first end for maintaining the transparent pane member in engagement with the water surface and preventing forming of air pockets.



Inventors:
Boley, James D. (San Diego, CA, US)
Boley, Douglas M. (Elkhart, IN, US)
Application Number:
11/201887
Publication Date:
02/16/2006
Filing Date:
08/11/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B63C11/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
VENNE, DANIEL V
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
JAMES RAY & ASSOCIATES (2640 Pitcairn Road, Monroeville, PA, 15146, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. An apparatus for at least viewing an underwater environment, said apparatus comprising: (a) a generally hollow housing having each of a predetermined shape and predetermined size and having a first end engageable with a water surface, an opposed second end disposed at a first predetermined angle to said first end and to such water surface, and an elongated member connecting said first end and said second end, said member extends at a second predetermined angle from said first end and elevates said second end a predetermined distance from such water surface when said first end is engaged therewith for providing unobstructed viewing of such underwater environment from said second end; (b) a transparent pane member mounted in a watertight sealing engagement with said first end of said housing and in engagement with such water surface for enabling viewing of such underwater environment; and (c) means engageable with said second end and with at least a portion of a face of a person, viewing such underwater environment from said second end, for preventing light from entering an interior portion of said housing and causing a glare on said transparent pane member.

2. The apparatus, according to claim 1, wherein said apparatus further includes means at least one of attached to and formed integral with a predetermined portion of said housing adjacent said first end thereof for counterbalancing such water surface and for maintaining said engagement of said transparent pane member with such water surface in a substantially air pocket free fashion.

3. The apparatus, according to claim 1, wherein said means for counterbalancing said apparatus maintains said engagement of said transparent pane member with such water surface in a substantially air pocket free fashion during movement of said apparatus when it is attached to a moving watercraft and for enabling viewing of such underwater environment during such movement.

4. The apparatus, according to claim 3, wherein movement of said watercraft is generated by a trolling motor operable by said person simultaneously viewing such underwater environment.

5. The apparatus, according to claim 1, wherein said apparatus further includes a flotation means attached to said housing adjacent said first end thereof and engageable with such water surface for maintaining said engagement of said transparent pane member with such water surface in a substantially air pocket free fashion.

6. The apparatus, according to claim 1, wherein a size of said second end is smaller than a size of said first end and said elongated member has a substantially conical shape.

7. The apparatus, according to claim 1, wherein said glare prevention means is a compressible guard attached to said second end.

8. The apparatus, according to claim 1, wherein said glare prevention means is a predetermined shape of said second end.

9. The apparatus, according to claim 1, wherein said apparatus further includes at least one vent means disposed in said housing adjacent said second end.

10. The apparatus, according to claim 1, wherein a color of at least said interior portion of said housing is black.

11. The apparatus, according to claim 1, wherein a material of said housing is a rigid plastic.

12. The apparatus, according to claim 1, wherein a material of said transparent pane member is one of a plastic and glass.

13. The apparatus, according to claim 1, wherein said apparatus further includes a handle means attached to an exterior surface of said housing for carrying and handling said apparatus.

14. The apparatus, according to claim 1, wherein said apparatus further includes means connected to said housing for attaching said apparatus to one of a watercraft and structure.

15. The apparatus, according to claim 1, wherein said apparatus further includes a camera attached to said second end.

16. An apparatus for at least viewing an underwater environment, said apparatus comprising: (a) a generally hollow housing having each of a predetermined shape and predetermined size and having a first end engageable with a water surface and an opposed second end disposed at an angle to said first end and to such water surface for viewing such underwater environment; (b) a transparent pane member mounted in a watertight sealing engagement with said first end of said housing and in engagement with such water surface for enabling viewing of such underwater environment; (c) means engageable with said second end and with at least a portion of a face of a person viewing such underwater environment from said second end for preventing light from entering an interior portion of said housing and causing a glare on said transparent pane member; and (d) means engageable with said housing for adjusting said angle of said second end within a predetermined range.

17. The apparatus, according to claim 16, wherein said adjusting means includes an accordion-like pleat region disposed within said housing adjacent said second end for enabling one of a flexing and bending of said housing in said region.

18. The apparatus, according to claim 16, wherein said adjusting means includes a pivoting means engageable with said housing for pivotally connecting said second end to said housing.

19. An apparatus for at least viewing an underwater environment, said apparatus comprising: (a) a generally hollow housing having each of a predetermined shape and predetermined size and having a first end engageable with a water surface and an opposed second end disposed at an angle to said first end and to such water surface for viewing such underwater environment; (b) a transparent pane member mounted in a watertight sealing engagement with said first end of said housing and disposed in engagement with such water surface for enabling viewing of such underwater environment; and (c) means engageable with a predetermined portion of said housing adjacent said first end thereof for counterbalancing said apparatus when said apparatus is free standing on such water surface and for maintaining said engagement of said transparent pane member with such water surface in a substantially air pocket free fashion.

20. The apparatus, according to claim 19, wherein said apparatus further includes means engageable with said second end and with at least a portion of a face of a person viewing such underwater environment from said second end for preventing light from entering an interior portion of said housing and causing a glare on said transparent pane member.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is related to and claims priory from a provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/600,665 filed on Aug. 11, 2004.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates, in general, to underwater viewing apparatus and, more particularly, this invention relates to an underwater viewing apparatus which is operable in a free standing fashion and by a person simultaneously operating a movable watercraft.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Underwater viewing devices have been utilized extensively for simply observing underwater environment, photographing the underwater marine life or stalking marine game. U.S. Pat. No. 2,911,878 to Vernier; U.S. Pat. No. 2,778,139 to Furnari; U.S. Pat. No. 2,730,921 to Little; U.S. Pat. No. 2,680,398 to Kohut and U.S. Pat. No. 2,404,556 to Wirth disclose various constructions and uses of such devices and are incorporated into this document by reference thereto.

However, the disadvantage of the existing devices is that they cannot be used in a free standing fashion without support from a person or a structure or cannot be easily used by a person simultaneously operating a movable watercraft.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention provides an apparatus for viewing underwater environment which includes a generally hollow housing having a first end engageable with a water surface, an opposed second end and a sloping conical portion connecting the first end and the second end, elevating the second end to a predetermined distance from the water surface, when the first end is engaged therewith and providing unobstructed viewing of the underwater environment from the second end. A transparent pane member is mounted in watertight sealing engagement with the first end of the housing and is in engagement with the water surface for enabling viewing of the underwater environment. A compressible face guard is attached to the second end for preventing light from entering an interior portion of the housing and causing a glare on the pane member. The face guard includes a pair of side members forming an eye shield and a recess portion enabling breathing without causing fog to form within the interior portion of the housing. A counterbalance member is integrally disposed within the housing adjacent the first end for maintaining the transparent pane member in engagement with the water surface and preventing forming of air pockets and maintaining such transparent pane member in engagement with the water surface and preventing forming of air pockets when the apparatus is attached to a small moving watercraft and is operable by a person simultaneously operating such moving watercraft in a sitting position.

Alternatively, the apparatus may be provided with a floating device or attached to such watercraft for maintaining the transparent pane member in engagement with the water surface and preventing forming of air pockets. In one embodiment, the second end is fixed and is disposed at a predetermined angle to the first end and to the water surface. In another embodiment, such second end is adjustable to accommodate various sizes of watercrafts or people. Camera, underwater harpoon gun and light may be attached to such apparatus.

OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION

It is, therefore, one of the primary objects of the present invention to provide an apparatus for underwater viewing.

Another object of the present invention is to provide an apparatus for underwater viewing which is operable in a free standing fashion.

Yet another object of the present invention is to provide an apparatus for underwater viewing which is operable by a person simultaneously operating a movable watercraft.

A further object of the present invention is to provide an apparatus for underwater viewing which is simple and inexpensive to manufacture.

Yet a further object of the present invention is to provide an apparatus for underwater viewing which is easy to carry and handle.

In addition to the several objects and advantages of the present. invention which have been described with some degree of specificity above, various other objects and advantages of the invention will become more readily apparent to those persons who are skilled in the relevant art, particularly, when such description is taken in conjunction with the attached drawing Figures and with the appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an underwater viewing apparatus of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of the underwater viewing apparatus along lines 2-2 of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a partial perspective end view of the underwater viewing apparatus of the present invention, particularly showing a face guard of a presently preferred embodiment;

FIG. 4 is a partial elevation view of the underwater viewing apparatus of the present invention, particularly showing an adjustable viewing end of one embodiment; and

FIG. 5 is a partial elevation view of the underwater viewing apparatus of the present invention, particularly showing an adjustable viewing end of another embodiment.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE VARIOUS EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

Prior to proceeding to the more detailed description of the present invention it should be noted that, for the sake of clarity and understanding, identical components which have identical functions have been identified with identical reference numerals throughout the several views illustrated in the drawing figures.

Reference is now made, to FIGS. 1-5, wherein there is shown an apparatus, generally designated 10, for viewing underwater environment 4. Such apparatus 10 includes a generally hollow housing 12 having each of a predetermined shape and predetermined size. There is a first end 14 engageable with a water surface 2 and an opposed second end 16 disposed at a first predetermined angle 18 to the first end 14 and to the water surface 2. A member 20 connects the first end 14 and the second end 16 and extends at a second predetermined angle from the first end 14 and elevates the second end 16 to a predetermined distance from the water surface 2 when the first end 14 is engaged therewith, for providing unobstructed viewing of the underwater environment 4 from the second end 16. The first end 14 preferably has an oval shape and the second end 16 preferably has a round shape. The second end 16 has a smaller size than a size of the first end 16 thus providing for the member 20 having a substantially conical shape.

A transparent pane member 22 is mounted in a watertight sealing engagement with the first end 14 and is disposed in engagement with the water surface 2 for enabling viewing of the underwater environment 4. A material of such transparent pane member 22 may be glass, but preferably is a clear rigid plastic. The presently preferred watertight sealing engagement is achieved by means of an adhesive material bonding such transparent pane member 22 to the housing 12. Alternatively, such watertight sealing engagement may be achieved by means of a gasket (not shown) encasing the edge of the transparent pane member 22 and being attached to the first end 14.

There is means, generally designated 30, engageable with the second end 16 and with at least a portion of a face of a person, viewing the underwater environment 4 from the second end 16, for preventing light from entering an interior portion of the housing 12 and causing a glare on the pane member 22. Such means 30 may be a predetermined shape of such second end 16, but preferably, such glare prevention means 30 is a compressible face guard 30 which is attached to the second end 16 and best shown in FIG. 3. Such face guard 30 includes a pair of opposed side members 32 forming an eye shield and a recess 34 for enabling breathing through a nose without breathing into the interior portion of the housing 12 and causing forming of a fog within the interior portion of the housing 12.

To further increase viewing quality of the underwater environment 4, the presently preferred color of at least the interior portion of the housing 12 is black.

At least one aperture 36 disposed in the surface portion 20 adjacent the second end 16 is provided for venting the interior portion of the housing 12, thus further preventing fogging.

In further reference to FIGS. 1-2, the apparatus 10 includes means 40 having a predetermined weight and being attached or integral to a predetermined portion of the housing 12 adjacent the first end 14 for counterbalancing the apparatus 10 when it is free standing on the water surface 2 and for maintaining engagement of the transparent pane member 22 with the water surface 2 in a substantially air pocket free fashion because air pockets formed between the water surface 2 and the transparent pane member 22 decrease viewing quality of the underwater environment 4. Preferably, such counterbalance means 40 is integrally formed into the housing 12 during its manufacturing process.

Advantageously, such counterbalance means 40 has been found effective in maintaining such engagement of the transparent pane member 22 with the water surface 2 in a substantially air pocket free fashion during movement of the apparatus 10 attached to a moving watercraft 100, preferably of a floating tubular construction best shown in FIG. 1, and which is powered by a trolling motor (not shown).

Alternatively, such means 40 may be a floatation member (not shown) attached to the first end 14 and manufactured from a soft foam material or from elastomeric or plastic tubular construction.

The apparatus 10 may be further provided with a pair of handle means 50 attached to exterior surface of the housing 12 for carrying and handling the apparatus 10. Such pair of handle means 50, best shown in FIGS. 1 and 3, has been found effective in attaching such apparatus 10 to the watercraft 100 with a pair of simple and economical straps 52 attached to a simple rod 54 which is secured to the watercraft 100. Such attachment of the apparatus 10 enables a person (not shown) sitting in the watercraft 100 to view the underwater environment 4 while having a free hand to simultaneously operate the trolling motor (not shown). It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that other various attachment means may be utilized for attaching the apparatus 10 to a watercraft 100 or other structures.

To accommodate various sizes of watercrafts or users, the apparatus 10 may be provided with mean 60 engageable with the housing 12 for adjusting the angle 18 of the second end 16 within a predetermined range.

In one embodiment, best shown in FIG. 4, such adjusting means 60 is an accordion-like pleat region 60 disposed within the housing adjacent the second end 16 for enabling one of a flexing and bending of the housing 12 in such region.

In another embodiment, best shown in FIG. 5, such adjusting means 60 includes pivoting means 62 for pivotally connecting the second end 16 to the housing 12. Or, alternatively, the glare prevention means 40 may be pivotally attached to the second end 16.

The material of the housing 12 is generally polymeric in nature and depending upon the degree of flexibility desired, can contain varying amounts of elastomeric segments disposed within the polymer.

The presently, preferred material of the housing 12 is a rigid plastic.

Although the present invention has been shown in terms of the apparatus 10 utilized for simply viewing the underwater environment 4, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art, that the present invention may be applied to other activities related to such underwater environment 4. For example, a camera may be attached to the second end 16 for taking still pictures of or continuously recording such underwater environment 4. The weight of the counterbalance means 40 will be then increased to compensate for the additional weight of the camera.

An underwater harpoon gun may be attached to the exterior surface of the housing 12 for the purpose of catching fish. A sight mark may be further disposed within the transparent pane member 22 for aiming such underwater harpoon gun.

The light may be attached to the exterior surface of the housing 12 for the purpose of viewing such underwater environment 4 during nightfall.

Thus, the present invention has been described in such full, clear, concise and exact terms as to enable any person skilled in the art to which it pertains to make and use the same. It will be understood that variations, modifications, equivalents and substitutions for components of the specifically described embodiments of the invention may be made by those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as set forth in the appended claims.