Title:
Three dimensional geometrical puzzle
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A handheld puzzle is described. The puzzle reduces friction between moveable pieces and at the same time allows for restrained alignment of the moveable pieces. An inner core of the puzzle can be adapted for use with a plurality of outer moveable face pieces that can comprise a variety of surface geometries.



Inventors:
Han, Charlie K. (Fremont, CA, US)
Application Number:
10/947452
Publication Date:
03/23/2006
Filing Date:
09/22/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/08
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
WONG, STEVEN B
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Charlie Han (620 Heir loom Terrace, Fremont, CA, 94536, US)
Claims:
What is claimed:

1. A three-dimensional puzzle, comprising: at least two moveable mainframes, each movable mainframe defined by a bore, a top, a bottom, and a plurality of sides, wherein a bottom of at least one moveable mainframe is disposed in an adjacent relationship to a top of at least another moveable mainframe, and wherein movements of each movable mainframe are constrained to rotational movements about the bore; a top retainer and a bottom retainer coupled to respective top and bottom portions of the shaft, wherein the top and bottom retainers constrain rotational movement of each moveable mainframe to occur between the top and bottom retainer; a plurality of moveable face pieces, wherein the number of moveable face pieces is equal to at least one less than the number of the plurality of sides, and wherein each moveable face piece is coupled to at least one of the sides; and at least one constraint mechanism for providing alignment, separation, and reduced friction between top and bottoms of each adjacently disposed movable mainframe.

2. The puzzle of claim 1, wherein the constraint mechanism comprises a bearing.

3. The puzzle of claim 1, wherein the constraint mechanism is disposed between adjacent moveable mainframes.

4. The puzzle of claim 3, wherein at least one moveable mainframe comprises a void, wherein at least one adjacently disposed moveable mainframe comprises at least one detent, wherein during the aligned separation of adjacent moveable mainframes the bearing is disposed within the void and within a detent.

5. The puzzle of claim 3, wherein at least one moveable mainframe comprises a void, wherein at least one adjacently disposed moveable mainframe comprises at least one detent, wherein during non-aligned separation of two adjacent moveable mainframes the bearing is disposed within the void and outside of a detent.

6. The puzzle of claim 1, wherein the constraint mechanism comprises a spring.

7. The puzzle of claim 1, wherein each moveable mainframe comprises 8 sides.

8. The puzzle of claim 7, wherein the number of moveable face pieces comprises 39 sides.

9. The puzzle of claim 1, wherein each moveable face piece is coupled to a side of a moveable mainframe by an interlocking type of mechanism.

10. The puzzle of claim 9, wherein the interlocking mechanism comprises a groove or a protrusion.

11. The puzzle of claim 1, wherein an outer surface of at least one moveable face piece comprises a flat geometry.

12. The puzzle of claim 1, wherein an outer surface of at least one moveable face piece comprises a curved geometry.

13. The puzzle of claim 1, wherein an outer surface of at least one moveable face piece comprises a three-dimensional geometry.

14. A shaped puzzle comprising: a body, the body having a top and a bottom; and a plurality of moveable pieces, wherein relative to the body the moveable face pieces comprise an outer three-dimensional surface, wherein the moveable pieces are coupled to the body and limited to movement by the body, and wherein the movement comprises a rotational or linear movement between the top and bottom.

15. The shaped puzzle of claim 14, wherein the shape comprises a cylinder.

16. The shaped puzzle of claim 14, wherein the shape comprises a multisided geometry.

17. The shaped puzzle of claim 16, wherein the body comprises a plurality of moveable mainframes disposed about a central shaft, and wherein between any two adjacent mainframes there is disposed a bearing.

18. A puzzle comprising: a body, the body having a top and a bottom; and a plurality of moveable pieces, wherein the moveable pieces are coupled to the body and limited by the body to movement about the body in a rotational direction between the top and bottom, and wherein the body is coupled to moveable face pieces that may define an outer shaped surface of the puzzle that is cylindrical or multisided.

19. The puzzle of claim 18, wherein the outer shaped surface of a moveable face piece is a three dimensional surface.

20. The puzzle of claim 19, wherein the body comprises a plurality of adjacent moveable mainframes, and wherein between any two adjacent mainframes there is disposed a self-aligning friction reducing mechanism.

Description:

SCOPE

This invention relates to puzzles in general and to mechanical hand-held puzzles more particularly.

BACKGROUND

Many known mechanical puzzles utilize moving elements. In some embodiments, the moving elements are shifted relative to each other to obtain a desired pattern or graphical display. Many of the known designs implement mechanical elements in a manner that a desired pattern or graphical display is difficult to achieve and/or maintain. Such difficulties include binding and/or overly loose relative movements of the elements, which in some instances may be caused by overly complex mechanical designs. Some of the known designs utilize the moveable pieces to reconstruct or assemble two-dimensional patterns or pictures, but these implementations are typically uninteresting.

What is needed, therefore, is a mechanical hand-held puzzle that comprises elements that may be moved relative to each other to achieve a desired pattern or graphical display in a manner that improves upon prior mechanical hand-held puzzles.

FIGURES

In FIG. 1, there is seen an exploded three-dimensional view of a mechanical hand-held puzzle;

In FIG. 2, there is seen a puzzle that includes a plurality of moveable face pieces that give a puzzle an outward octagonal shape;

In FIGS. 3a, 3b, and 3c there is seen a top, bottom, and side cross-sectional side view of one or more moveable mainframe as used with moveable face pieces that give a puzzle an outward octagonal shape;

In FIGS. 3a, 3b, and 3c there is seen a top, bottom, and side cross-sectional side view of one or more moveable mainframe as used with moveable face pieces that give a puzzle an outward cylindrical shape;

In FIG. 4, there is seen a puzzle that includes a plurality of moveable face pieces that give a puzzle an outward cylindrical shape; and

In FIG. 5, there is seen a puzzle that includes one or more moveable face piece that gives a puzzle an outward three-dimensional shape.

SUMMARY

In one embodiment, a three-dimensional puzzle comprises at least two moveable mainframes, each movable mainframe defined by a bore, a top, a bottom, and a plurality of sides, wherein a bottom of at least one moveable mainframe is disposed in an opposing relationship to a top of at least another moveable mainframe; a shaft, wherein the shaft is disposed within the bore of each moveable mainframe such that when each movable mainframe moved it is constrained to rotationally move about the shaft; a top retainer and a bottom retainer coupled to respective top and bottom portions of the shaft, wherein the top and bottom retainers constrain the rotational movements of each moveable mainframe to occur between the top and bottom retainer; a plurality of moveable face pieces, wherein the number of moveable face pieces is equal to at least one less than the number of the plurality of sides, and wherein each moveable face piece is coupled to at least one of the sides; and at least one constraint mechanism for providing alignment, separation, and reduced friction between top and bottoms of each adjacently disposed movable mainframe. In one embodiment, the constraint mechanism comprises a bearing. In one embodiment, the constraint mechanism is disposed between adjacent moveable mainframes. In one embodiment, at least one moveable mainframe comprises a void, wherein at least one adjacently disposed moveable mainframe comprises at least one detent, wherein during the aligned separation the bearing is disposed within the void and within a detent. In one embodiment, at least one moveable mainframe comprises a void, wherein at least one adjacently disposed moveable mainframe comprises at least one detent, wherein during a non-aligned separation the bearing is disposed within the void and outside of a detent. In one embodiment, the constraint mechanism comprises a spring. In one embodiment, each moveable mainframe comprises 8 sides. In one embodiment, the number of moveable face pieces comprises 39 sides. In one embodiment, each moveable face piece is coupled to a side of a moveable mainframe by an interlocking type of mechanism. In one embodiment, the interlocking mechanism comprises a groove or a protrusion. In one embodiment, an outer surface of at least one moveable face piece comprises a flat geometry. In one embodiment, an outer surface of at least one moveable face piece comprises a curved geometry. In one embodiment, an outer surface of at least one moveable face piece comprises a three-dimensional geometry.

In one embodiment, a shaped puzzle comprises a body, the body having a top and a bottom; and a plurality of moveable pieces, wherein relative to the body the moveable face pieces comprise an outer three-dimensional surface, wherein the moveable pieces are coupled to the body and limited to movement by the body, and wherein the movement comprises a rotational or linear movement between the top and bottom. In one embodiment, the shape comprises a cylinder. In one embodiment, the shape comprises a multisided geometry. In one embodiment, the body comprises a plurality of moveable mainframes disposed about a central shaft, and wherein between any two adjacent mainframes there is disposed a bearing.

In one embodiment, a puzzle comprises a body, the body having a top and a bottom; and a plurality of moveable pieces, wherein the moveable pieces are coupled to the body and limited by the body to movement about the body in a rotational direction between the top and bottom, and wherein the body is coupled to moveable face pieces that define an outer shaped surface of the puzzle that is cylindrical or multisided. In one embodiment, the outer shaped surface may be further defined by a three dimensional surface. In one embodiment, the body comprises a plurality of adjacent moveable mainframes, wherein between any two adjacent mainframes there is disposed a self-aligning friction reducing mechanism.

These and other features and aspects of the present invention will be better understood with reference to the following description, figures, and appended claims.

DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

Reference will now be made in detail to several embodiments of the invention that are illustrated in the accompanying drawings. Wherever possible, same or similar reference numerals are used in the drawings and the description to refer to the same or like parts. The drawings are in a simplified form and not necessarily to precise scale. For purposes of convenience and clarity only, directional terms such as top, bottom, left, right, up, down, over, above, below, beneath, rear, and front, as well as other terms, may be used with respect to the accompanying drawings. These and similar directional terms should not be construed to limit the scope of the invention in any manner. In addition, the words couple, connect, and similar terms with their inflectional morphemes are used interchangeably, unless the difference is noted or made otherwise clear from the context. Also, it should be understood, these words and expressions do not necessarily signify direct connections, but may include connections through mediate components and devices.

Referring now to FIG. 1, there is seen an exploded three-dimensional view of a mechanical hand-held puzzle (hereafter referred to as puzzle). In one embodiment, a puzzle 100 comprises at least two moveable mainframes 22, the body of each moveable mainframe 22 defined by a top portion 22a, the top portion defined by a top periphery 22aa; a bottom portion 22b, the bottom portion defined by a bottom periphery 22bb; and one or more side portions 22c, wherein adjacent side portions are coupled to each other and to respective edges of top and bottom portions 22a and 22b. In one embodiment, the moveable mainframes 22 comprise a topmost (front most in FIG. 1) moveable mainframe 22 and a bottommost (backmost) moveable mainframe 22. In one embodiment, other than at a bottom portion 22b of the bottommost moveable mainframe, the bottom portion of each moveable mainframe 22 is disposed against, or is in close proximity to, a top portion 22a of an adjacent mainframe. In one embodiment, the puzzle 100 further comprises a shaft 13, whereby the shaft is disposed within a respective bore 14 such that it passes centrally through each movable mainframe 22. In one embodiment, each mainframe 22 may be formed of a solid, wherein bore 14 passes through the solid in its entirety. In one embodiment, the moveable mainframe 22 may be defined by interconnected top, bottom, side portions 22a, 22b, 22c, and bore 14, each of which may comprise a thickness such that the interconnected parts encompass a hollow portion formed within the structure of the moveable mainframe.

Top and bottom portions 22a and 22b of each moveable mainframe 22 may be defined by a geometry, which in one embodiment is a multisided geometry. In one embodiment, the multisided geometry can be described with reference to a geometry of the top and bottom peripheries 22aa and 22bb. In one embodiment, the top and bottom peripheries 22aa and 22bb define respective edges of top and bottom portions 22a and 22b. In FIG. 1, it is seen the edges themselves may comprise a geometry, for example a contiguous non-linear geometry. In one embodiment, each movable mainframe 22 comprises an 8 sided geometry (i.e. an octagon), with each side of the octagon defined by the edge geometries of top and bottom peripheries 22a and 22bb.

Each side portion 22c of each moveable mainframe 22 can also be described by a geometry. In one embodiment, each side portion 22c comprises edges 22cc, which in FIG. 1 are illustrated by an exemplary side portion 22c. In one embodiment, each side portion 22c is coupled to respective edges 22aa and 22bb of respective top and bottom portions 22a and 22b, as well as to edges 22cc of adjacent side portions. In one embodiment, when viewed at a cross-section at any point between the top and bottom portion 22a and 22b, each side portion 22c comprises the same non-linear geometry as that of edges 22aa and 22bb. In other words, in the illustrated embodiment, each mainframe 22 can be described as an octagon having a top, a bottom, and 8 sides, with each of the 8 sides comprising a non-planar feature on its surface, the non planar feature extending along a length of each of the sides. In one embodiment, the non-planar feature disposed on each surface of each side portion 22c of each moveable mainframe 22 comprises a longitudinally disposed (from top to bottom) channel, groove, wedge, or the like (hereafter referred to as coupling portion 17a).

Referring further to FIG. 1, there are seen three-dimensional views of a moveable face piece 25. In one embodiment, each moveable face 25 includes a plurality of surfaces. In one embodiment, an outer surface (relative to the center bore) of each movable face piece has thereon disposed or implemented a pattern. In one embodiment, an inner surface of each movable face piece has thereon disposed or implemented a coupling portion 17b. In one embodiment the coupling portion 17b is meant to provide a coupling function such that when mated to moveable mainframes 22 via coupling portions 17a, movement of the moveable face piece 25 is constrained by the coupling portion 17a. In an embodiment wherein the movable mainframes 22 are comprised of a solid, the coupling portions 17a may be formed within the solid. In an embodiment wherein the movable mainframes 22 are comprised of sides of some thickness, the coupling portions 17a may be formed within the thickness. In one embodiment, a geometry of a coupling portion 17a may comprise a reverse geometry to that of the coupling portion 17b; in other words, if coupling portion 17a comprises a longitudinal channel, coupling portion 17b may comprise a longitudinal protrusion. In FIG. 1, coupling portions 17a are seen to comprise a wedged groove, and coupling portion 17b comprises a shaped protrusion, whereby when the protrusion 17b is slideably inserted within the wedged groove 17a, an interlocking dovetail type fit occurs. Such an interlocking fit may be used to limit movement of the moveable face piece 25 to occur along a longitudinal top to bottom orientation of the groove. In one embodiment, the described interlocking fit may also act to restrain moveable face piece 25 against a particular moveable mainframe 22 so as to keep the face piece from falling off during its movement. Although not illustrated, it is understood that the coupling portions used with moveable face piece 25 and moveable mainframes 22 may be reversed in geometry, and yet provide a same or similar functionality. For example, in one embodiment, coupling portion 17b could comprise a longitudinal channel and coupling portions 17a could comprise a longitudinal protrusion.

Referring now to FIG. 2, and other Figures as needed, there is seen a puzzle 100 that includes a plurality of moveable face pieces 25. In one embodiment, the number of moveable face pieces 25 is equal to one less than the number of movable mainframes 22 times the number of side portions 22c each mainframe is comprised of. For example, in one embodiment, where there are 5 moveable mainframes, and where each mainframe has 8 side portions, puzzle 100 comprises 39 moveable face pieces; in other words, there are ((5×8)−1) movable face pieces.

In one embodiment, the puzzle 100 further includes a top retainer 11a and a bottom retainer 11b. In one embodiment, each retainer is coupled to respective top and bottom portions of a shaft 13. In one embodiment, the retainers 11a and 11b are fastened to the respective top and bottom ends of the shaft 13 by stoppers 9, or other means known to those skilled in the fastener arts, for example, screws, rivets, adhesive, interlocking fittings, and the like. The top and bottom retainers 11a-b act to retain and restrain movements of the moveable mainframes 22 and attached moveable face pieces 25 to rotational movements about the shaft 13, and longitudinal movements within fixed limits imposed by the retainers 11a and 11b.

Referring again to FIGS. 1 and 2, as well as other Figures as needed, operation and use of puzzle 100 is described generically and is intended to cover embodiments described herein, as well other embodiments that fall within the scope of the Claims that follow. In one embodiment, the moveable mainframes 22, and therefore the moveable face pieces coupled to the mainframes, may be individually rotated about shaft 13 within a range of 360 degrees clockwise or counter-clockwise. Each movable face piece 25 is also moveable in a shuffle like manner by individual up or down movements of individual face pieces, for example, from one aligned coupling portion 17a of one moveable mainframe 22 to another unoccupied aligned coupling portion 17a of another moveable mainframe 22. In other words, movement of a movable face piece 25 may occur when coupling portions 17a of two adjacent moveable mainframes 22 are in alignment with each other; or when a moveable mainframe 22 that the moveable face piece 25 is coupled to is rotated about shaft 13. The described up down shuffle like movement of a moveable face piece is intended to occur only when a coupling portion 17a of an adjacent moveable mainframe 22 is unoccupied. Because the number of moveable face pieces is one less than the number of side portions 22c, or equivalently one less than the number of coupling portions 17a, only one moveable face piece 25 may be moved longitudinally along the puzzle 100 at any given time (unless a whole or part of an aligned row of moveable pieces is moved at one time). In one embodiment, movement of the moveable face pieces 25 effectuates alignment of patterns or geometries disposed on outer surfaces of the face pieces into a desired configuration. In one embodiment, a desired configuration comprises an arrangement of colors. In one embodiment, a desired configuration comprises a two-dimension picture or graphical representation. In one embodiment, a desired configuration comprises a three-dimensional topography.

Referring now to FIG. 3a, 3b, and 3c, and other Figures as needed, there is seen a top, bottom, and side cross-sectional side view of one or more moveable mainframe. It has been identified by the present inventor that rotational movement of one moveable mainframe 22 relative to another mainframe, as well as movement of one face piece 25 relative to other face pieces, can be enhanced over that of known solutions. In one embodiment, adjacent moveable mainframes 22 of puzzle 100 have disposed therebetween one or more self aligning friction reducing mechanism 95 that may be used to maintain self alignment of one moveable mainframe 22 relative to another adjacent mainframe, as well to controllably maintain alignment of the coupling portions 17a relative to each other. As described later, mechanisms 95 also effectuate a reduction in friction that can be caused by a surface to surface contact of adjacent moveable mainframes 22. Accordingly, in this manner smooth accurate alignment and movement of the movable mainframes 22 and face pieces 25 is enabled, and user interaction with the puzzle 100 is enhanced.

In one embodiment, a topmost moveable mainframe 22 comprises at a bottom portion 22b at least one void 18, and a bottommost movable mainframe 22 at a top portion 22a comprises one or more of detent 21. In one embodiment, each moveable mainframe 22 between the topmost and bottommost moveable mainframe 22 comprises at a bottom portion 22b at least one void 18, and at a top portion 22a one or more detents 21. In one embodiment, the number of detents 21 at a top portion 22a of a moveable mainframe 22 is the same number as the number of side portions 22c, for example, with 8 side portions 22c a moveable mainframe 22 comprises 8 detents. In one embodiment, the detents 21 are disposed at an equal radius from a center of a respective top portion 22a and such that they are separated by angles that are determined by the following relationship, 360 degrees divided by the number of detents. In an embodiment with eight detents, the detents are disposed at intervals of 45 degrees. In one embodiment, each void 18 is disposed in a respective bottom portion 22b such that when coupling portions 17a of two adjacent moveable mainframes 22 are in alignment, a respective void 18 is in an aligned and opposing relationship to a detent 21 of an adjacent moveable mainframe, or visa-versa.

In one embodiment, within each void 18 is disposed a self-aligning friction reducing mechanism 95. In one embodiment, each mechanism 95 comprises a bearing 20, for example, a ball bearing. In one embodiment, each mechanism 95 further comprises a spring 19 functionally disposed. against a bearing 20. In one embodiment, the puzzle 100 is assembled and used such that when a void 18 of one moveable mainframe 22 is in an aligned and opposing relationship to a detent 21 of an second adjacent moveable mainframe, the coupling portions 17a of the adjacent movable mainframes, as well as the adjacent mainframes themselves, are maintained in a secured aligned relationship. When aligned in this manner, some or all of the positions of the face pieces or moveable mainframes may be secured during movements of other face pieces and/or other moveable mainframes. In one embodiment, the puzzle 100 is assembled and used such that when a void 18 of a respective movable mainframe 22 is in a non-aligned and opposing relationship to a detent 21 of an adjacent moveable mainframe (i.e., the coupling portions 17a of adjacent moveable mainframes are not aligned), the spring 19 of a respective mechanism 95 exerts a force onto a respective bearing 20 so as to position the bearing against a smooth surface of top portion 22 (i.e. part of top portion 22 not comprised of detents). In the aforementioned embodiments of use, when coupling portions 17a are not aligned (typically, when an end user is rotating moveable mainframes relative to each other) the mechanisms 95 may act to separate respective adjacent moveable mainframes 22 by some small amount. It is identified the large potential surface to surface frictional contact can, thus, be avoided and/or reduced, which in the case of a bearing is reduced by the minimized rolling contact that would occur between the bearing and surfaces of the movable mainframes 22.

Referring now to FIG. 4 and other Figures as needed, there is seen a puzzle 100 that includes a plurality of moveable face pieces 24. In one embodiment, moveable face pieces 24 may comprise coupling portions 17b. Moveable face pieces 24 provide similar functionality to that described with reference to moveable face pieces 25, but differ from moveable face pieces 25 in that their outer surfaces comprise a different geometry.

The present inventor has identified that one advantage of the puzzle 100 is derived from a feature that allows puzzle 100 to be easily configured to comprise a plurality of configurations or geometries. As seen in the embodiment of FIG. 4, with a simple replacement of face pieces 25 comprising a flat surface geometry, with moveable face pieces 24 comprising a curved surface geometry, a puzzle 100 with a curved geometry may be provided. In a manufacturing environment, such easy interchangeability of the moveable face pieces may be used to facilitate a reduction in puzzle 100 manufacturing costs. For example, with the present invention, only one basic combination of components need be inventoried (mainframe 22, shaft 13, retainers 11, mechanisms 95). In one embodiment, a standardized core of components can, therefore, be used to construct a plurality of different puzzle products, for example, octagonal, hexagonal, cylindrical, or other shaped puzzles.

Further to this end, in other embodiments, it is identified that the outer surface of the movable face pieces may comprise a flat portion, a curved portion, or a combination thereof. The present inventor has identified that the outer surface of the moveable face pieces described herein may also be configured to comprise a surface geometry that is three dimensional rather than two-dimensional. For example, in one embodiment, instead of displaying a two-dimensional picture or pattern on an outer surface of a moveable face piece, the inventor envisions that outer surfaces of one or more moveable face piece of embodiments of the puzzle disclosed herein may comprise a three-dimensional relief or contour. Accordingly, in FIG. 5, there is seen a cross-section of a movable face piece 26 comprising a three dimensional surface. It is identified that, one or more movable face piece 26 could also be used with the core structure of components described above. Using one or more principles described herein, three dimensional moveable face pieces 26 could be used by an end user of a puzzle 100 to reconstruct or arrange the moveable face pieces into a desired three dimensional surface pattern, for example, as a map, a face, an animal figure, or other three dimensional topography.

Neither the specific embodiments of the invention as a whole, nor those of its features limit the general principles underlying the invention. The features described herein may be used in some embodiments, but not in others, without departure from the spirit and scope of the invention as set forth. Many additional modifications are intended in the foregoing disclosure, and it will be appreciated by those of ordinary skill in the art that in some instances some features of the invention will be employed in the absence of a corresponding use of other features. The metes and bounds of the invention and the legal protections afforded the invention should therefore be interpreted with reference to the claims and their legal equivalents.