Title:
Camera mounting system for sports goal structures
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
There is herein described a camera mounting system for sports goals which is installed completely within at least one of the upright posts constituting the goal for the purpose of providing the viewer with a closeup view of activity within and adjacent the goal mouth itself. The upright post is hollow and has a cutout portion extending for approximately 270° and facing generally toward the opposite post. A television or motion picture camera is mounted for panning rotation on a fixed platform opposite the cutout which is provided with a transparent window cover. The operation of the camera controls and its rotation is effected remotely through electronic means.



Inventors:
Marshall, William D. (Annapolis, MD, US)
Ashworth, Andrew J. (Bromham, GB)
Application Number:
11/146104
Publication Date:
12/07/2006
Filing Date:
06/07/2005
Assignee:
BROADCAST SPORTS INC.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F41J1/10
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Primary Examiner:
GRAHAM, MARK S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DENNISON, SCHULTZ & MACDONALD (1727 KING STREET, SUITE 105, ALEXANDRIA, VA, 22314, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A camera mounting system for a sports goal structure comprising: a. a fixed platform adapted to be mounted within a sports goal structure; b. said goal structure being hollow and having a cutout in its wall adjacent said platform; c. a video or motion picture camera mounted for panning rotation on said platform opposite said cutout; d. and control means remote from said camera for adjusting the parameters of the camera and its panning movement.

2. The system of claim 1, wherein a transparent window is flush mounted on said sports goal structure wall overlying said cutout.

3. The system of claim 2, wherein said transparent window is formed of an acrylic resin and is secured to the goal structure by an epoxy resin.

4. The system of claim 1, and further including a motor means mounted below said platform and operatively connected to said camera for providing said panning rotation.

5. The system of claim 4, and further including a turntable mounted upon said platform and operatively connected to aid motor means, a bracket fixedly secured to said camera and to said turntable.

6. The system of claim 1, wherein said goal structure is circular in cross section and said cutout extends for approximately 270 degrees.

7. The system of claim 5, and further including a control head secured to said motor and having a plurality of electrical inputs and outputs each of which are connected by wiring to said remote control means.

8. A sports goal camera system comprising: a. a goal structure having two hollow spaced apart upright posts, b. a hollow crossbar connecting said posts, c. camera means mounted in each of said upright posts for panning rotation therein, d. a cutout opening in the surface of each of said upright posts to permit the camera to view the area adjacent said goal structure, e. motor means to pan said cameras about a vertical axis, and f. control means remote from said goal structure, said control means being connected electrically to said camera and to said motor means for operation thereof.

9. The sports goal camera system as defined in claim 8 wherein each camera is mounted on a turntable which is supported for rotation on horizontal platform fixed within each related upright post.

10. The sports goal camera system as defined in claim 8 and further including a transparent cover flush mounted on each upright post over said cutout openings.

11. In combination with a sports goal having two hollow upright goal posts, at least one of said posts having a cutout opening in its wall surface, a fixed platform mounted within at least one of said posts adjacent to said opening; a video or motion picture camera mounted for panning rotation on said platform opposite said cutout; and control means remote from said camera for adjusting the parameters of the camera and its panning movement.

12. The structure of claim 11, wherein the cutout opening in at least one of said posts in located within the upper half of the length of the post.

13. The structure of claim 11 wherein a transparent window is flush mounted on said post wall overlying said cutout.

14. The structure of claim 11 and further including motor means mounted below said fixed platform and operatively connected to said camera for providing said panning rotation.

15. The structure of claim 11 and further including a turntable mounted upon said platform and operatively connected to aid motor means, a bracket fixedly secured to said camera and to said turntable.

16. The structure of claim 11, wherein said posts are circular in cross section and said cutout extends for approximately 270 degrees.

17. The structure of claim 11 wherein said sports goal is a soccer goal.

18. The structure of claim 11 and further including a control head secured to said motor and having a plurality of electrical inputs and outputs each of which are connected by wiring to said remote control means.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates a new system for mounting of video or motion picture cameras within the structure of a sports goal or similar appurtenance and to means to remotely control such a camera installation. This system can be used in the live or taped broadcast of the sports event.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Television coverage of sports events has progressed in recent years to enable the viewer to see many different angles of vision in order to track players or the ball or puck. Such availability of various camera angles and positions provides the television viewer with a more realistic and close-up presentation of the action.

Previously, sports camera systems relied upon either fixed camera positions or cameras mounted on motorized vehicles, overhead cables, or on a track where the camera could move along the sidelines, goal lines or touch lines. Alternatively, cameras were mounted on a wire suspension over the field of play and were remotely controlled by the camera operator to follow the play of the game.

In some cases, such as American football, cameras have been mounted on top of the goal post cross bar in order to view the path of the football on field goal or conversion attempts. In these cases there was always the risk that the camera would interfere with the flight of the ball.

There have been very few attempts to flush mount a remotely controlled camera within a goal post, such as a soccer or hockey goal, in order to provide a view of the action within the mouth of the goal or near thereto.

In some sports, such as soccer or ice hockey for example, it is necessary for the entire ball or puck to cross the goal line to score. Such determinations have frequently caused major disagreements and even violence on the field or on the ice. In soccer, the determination is frequently made by the Assistant Referee who is posted forty or more yards away from the goal. In ice hockey, this decision is made by a goal judge behind the goal net and off of the ice five or more yards behind the goal line.

With the availability of one or more cameras located directly on the goal line and within the goal structure, accurate decisions are possible, providing the governing sports authorities approve of use of such a system.

It is a primary object of our invention to provide a system for flush mounting a remotely controlled video or motion picture camera within a sports goal structure.

It is a further object of the invention to provide a camera mount for a sports goal which allows panning and tilting of the camera structure by remote control of the camera operator.

Another object of the invention is provide a camera within a sports goal post that is not visible to the players or spectators and which does not intrude into the playing area or create a hazzard to the safety of the players.

Further objects of the invention will become apparent upon a careful reading of the appended specification, claims and drawings, wherein like reference characters refer to the same elements which appear in the several views.

DESCRIPTION OF RELATED ART

It has been previously suggested to mount a surveillance television camera moveable on rails located within a sports goal or even a corner flag. Note United Kingdom Patent Application 2,338,823 A of Adnan Alawi.

The European Patent application of Gillian A. Moore, 0 345 982 discloses mounting of a television camera either fixed or moveable along tracks within a soccer crossbar.

Another example of a remotely operated camera system in a sports venue is shown in Gluck, US Published Application 2004/0218918 A1.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A camera mounting system for sports goal structures is disclosed which comprises a cut-out or access opening in a sports goal structure within which a mounting bracket assembly is fixed to receive a support for a small television camera. The camera is mounted for rotational movement in a horizontal plane (panning) and may also include provision for rotational movement in a vertical plane (tilting). The opening is fully enclosed after camera installation and includes a small transparent optical grade window to permit viewing by the camera.

The invention also contemplates remote operation of the camera by an operator who may be some distance away and in this regard a pan and tilt joystick control and remote focus, wide angle and zoom capability are provided in a control box or head which is connected by conventional phone line via USB wire or other buried cabling to the camera.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other objects of our invention will be appreciated and understood by those skilled in the art from the detailed description of the preferred embodiments of the invention and from the following drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a typical soccer goal post with the camera system mounted within the right post as well as alternative positions within the left post and the crossbar;

FIG. 2 is a front view of a sports goal with our invention incorporated as in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is an exploded perspective showing the elements of our invention and the method of assembly of the components;

FIG. 4 is a rear side view of a portion of the goal upright with parts broken away to show the camera mounting; and

FIG. 5 is a cross-section taken along the line 5-5 of FIG. 4.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

With reference to the drawings wherein like reference characters designate like or corresponding elements throughout the several views, it will be seen that the invention includes a modified sports goal structure shown generally at 10.

For the purposes of the preferred embodiment, the invention will be described as employed for use in a soccer goal, although it will be evident that the invention could be used for goal structures in rugby, team handball, American football, hockey, lacrosse, field hockey, and in other sports where a goal structure is employed.

The goal structure 10 includes a pair of spaced parallel uprights 11 and 12 generally 8 feet in height which are connected by a 24 foot crossbar 13. These elements are generally hollow and may have a circular, square or elliptical cross section. For the purpose of this description a circular cross section structure is described.

Rear bracing for the posts is provide generally at 14 and in most installations includes rearwardly extending base legs 14a, shorter rearwardly extending top legs 14b and diagonally extending brace posts 14c. A goal net 15 is secured to the brace posts. The goal structure is placed on the soccer field on the goal line G as shown.

A video or motion picture camera assembly 16 is mounted on one or more of the goal structures. When mounted on the vertical posts 11 or 12, such assemblies are ideally located about five to five and one-half feet above the ground although they could be located elsewhere if desired. Three such assemblies are shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, although in many instances a single camera mounted on one of the uprights 11 or 12 will be found sufficient. Complete coverage of the goal area could be accomplished with the addition of such an assembly in the cross bar 13.

FIG. 3 shows in greater detail, the elements of a typical camera assembly 16 mounted in the upright 11. It will be seen that the upright 11 has a precision cutout portion 17 that extends for more than 180° of the periphery of the upright and preferably 270° in order to allow an adequate amount of camera panning range. Typical goal structures are formed of metal and therefore the removal of this cutout portion does not diminish the structural integrity of the upright significantly.

A pair of arcuate flanges are secured inside the cutout area 17 by screw fasteners or the like 19 which engage threaded bores 20 in the flanges. The flanges extend inwardly of the opening and towards each other and are adapted for securing the housing cover 21.

Housing cover 21 is formed of metal or plastic and is adapted to completely enclose the peripheral cutout 17 and has the same shape and finish as upright 11. When it is secured in place with counter-sunk machine screws about the cutout it presents a flush surface and appearance and does not detract from the appearance of the goal structure or present an obstacle to proper play, not does it present a safety hazzard to the players. The cover itself is provided with a cutout peripheral window 22. Upper and lower arcuate flanges 23, similar to mounting flanges 18 are secured on the cover 21 as shown in FIG. 3 and are provided with threaded bores 25.

A transparent arcuate window cover 26 having openings matching the threaded bores 25 is adapted to be placed flush over the peripheral window 22 in the cover 21. Screw fasteners 27 may be used to secure the window cover in place when engaged in the threaded bores 25 of the flanges 23. It is also within the purview of this invention to secure the window cover with conventional epoxy resin which would obviate the need to drill holes in the window and the flanges 23. The window cover may be formed of glass or high quality plastic material such as acrylic resin. The cover must be free of blemishes and scratch resistant so as not to effect the quality of the camera's view.

Additional flanges 28 are secured vertically along the edges of the cover 21 to assist in securing the same to the upright 11 by means of screw fasteners 29 that pass through the wall of upright 11 and into threaded bores 30 in the flanges 28.

A camera shown at C is supported for both panning and tilting within the cutout 17 of the upright 11, as described in greater detail below. While either a video or motion picture camera may be used, this embodiment uses a color block camera that employs digital signal processing and is provided with a high-speed serial interface and TTL signal level control for rapid command processing. Such cameras as the FCB series of SONY® have been found to be ideal for this purpose.

The camera selected provides digital zoom capability as well as slow-shutter modes and has an image stabilizer function to minimize picture fuzziness due to low frequency vibrations and shock. Such cameras can be completely controlled remotely through the serial interface and a communications protocol such as VISCA which permits full control by a host remote computer shown as CONTROL in FIG. 1. The operator may be some distance away from the goal and may be located in the televison broadcast control room or van. Several cameras can be connected to a single controller which uses communication conforming to the RS-232C industry standard.

Camera C is mounted on a platform 35 which is rigidly secured to the inside of upright 11. The mounting includes means to permit panning movement of the camera (rotation about the vertical axis) and alternatively, also tilting movement (rotation about the horizontal axis). The camera C is, as noted above, a conventional video or motion picture camera provided with a lens L that may be focused, placed into wide-angle mode and even zoomed by remote control.

A vertical pan pin is secured to the upright 11 by means of bracket and is free to rotate with respect to the bracket. The camera body is secured for pan rotation by means of stub axles 32 which ride in openings in the U-shaped bracket 34. This bracket is affixed to a turntable 36 mounted for rotation on and with respect to the platform 35. A low speed reversible motor 37 and control box is mounted below platform by means of a nut 38. Power supplied to the motor will cause rotation of its output shaft in either a clockwise or counterclockwise direction which is drivingly connected to turntable 36 to effect camera pan rotation.

Control head 39 is fixed to the housing of the motor 37 and is electrically connected to the camera controls as well as the motor 37 itself. A plurality of conventional connectors 40 are mounted on the control head for input and output of the camera and for motor rotation control.

Appropriate wiring interconnects the CONTROL Box to the connectors 40 as seen in FIG. 1. The wiring can be buried beneath the surface as shown, or alternatively the connection can be by radio (RF) link. The standard controller, such as a joystick, can control various camera settings such as gain, pedestal, zoom, white balance, auto-focus, focus, etc. as well as pan speed, direction and sensitivity

Although not specifically shown, an additional motor and bracket system could be incorporated to allow for remote tilting of the camera about the horizontal axis. Such dual rotation systems are known in the prior art as exemplified by Gluck, U.S. Patent Publication 2004/0218918.

A single installation 16 has been specifically described. However, FIG. 1 shows similar installations that may be installed in the other upright 12 as well as on the cross bar 13. These separate units may function by themselves or in cooperation which each other in order to provide the viewer with an unprecedented view of the sports action within and adjacent the goal mouth. The system could also be used, if allowed by the governing body of the sport, to confirm or overrule a decision of the game officials.

While specific hardware has been described herein, it will be understood that other hardware and fittings well-known in the art may be used without departure from the inventive concepts described herein. Thus, while a preferred embodiment is illustrated in the drawings, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that numerous modifications can be made to the preferred embodiment without departing from the invention. Accordingly, the invention should not be restricted except by the claims which follow.