Title:
FOOTBALL PLAYING PIECE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A game piece includes a substantially triangularly-shaped housing, an impact detection apparatus which generates a signal in response to an impacting blow to the housing, and a signaling apparatus which produces an audio or visual signal in response to the signal produced by the impact detection apparatus. A kit includes a first triangular game piece, a set of stickers sized to fit within the bounds of the triangular game piece, and an instruction set for playing a game with the first triangular game piece. Some kits include a second game piece.



Inventors:
Miranda, Gregory A. (Winona, MN, US)
Knappen, Kurt Randall (Galesville, WI, US)
Wanek, Donald John (Rochester, MN, US)
Brooks, William W. (Rochester, MN, US)
Application Number:
11/781075
Publication Date:
05/22/2008
Filing Date:
07/20/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F7/20
View Patent Images:
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20090189350ORIENTAL CHAIN-RING GAME CARD AND METHOD OF PLAYING THE SAMEJuly, 2009Chang
20060249904Video game combining skill and luckNovember, 2006Matheson et al.
20070278744LETTER ACTING GAMEDecember, 2007Gris et al.
20070090601Bouncing practice netApril, 2007Liao



Primary Examiner:
NICONOVICH, ALEXANDER R
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SCHWEGMAN, LUNDBERG & WOESSNER, P.A. (P.O. BOX 2938, MINNEAPOLIS, MN, 55402, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A game piece equipped for signaling an impacting blow against the game piece, said game piece comprising: a body sized for manually impacting the body with a human finger; an electronic impact sensing unit for generating an electronic signal in response to an impacting blow struck against the body; a relay for relaying the electronic signal; and a signaling unit which produces a second signal in response to receipt of the electronic signal from the relay.

2. The game piece of claim 1 wherein the signaling unit includes a light emitting diode.

3. The game piece of claim 1 wherein the signaling unit includes a chip for making sound.

4. The game piece of claim 2 further equipping a printed circuit board having the relay, the impact sensing unit, and a power source communicatively coupled to said sensing unit and the signaling unit.

5. The game piece according to claim 4 wherein the circuit board has a center of gravity that substantially corresponds to the center of the game piece.

6. The game piece of claim 1 wherein the body further comprises a first half and a second half.

7. The game piece of claim 6 further including a printed circuit board, wherein the printed circuit board includes the electronic impact sensing unit, the relay for relaying the electronic signal, and the signaling unit.

8. The game piece of claim 6 further including a printed circuit board sandwiched between the first half and the second half.

9. The game piece of claim 1 further comprising a bumper formed about the periphery of the game piece.

10. A game piece comprising: a substantially triangularly-shaped housing; an impact detection apparatus which generates a signal in response to an impacting blow to the housing; and a signaling apparatus which produces an audio or visual signal in response to the signal produced by the impact detection apparatus.

11. The game piece of claim 10 further comprising at least one light emitting diode, wherein the signaling apparatus produces signals that light the light emitting diode.

12. The game piece of claim 10 further comprising at least one light emitting diode, wherein the signaling apparatus produces random signals that light the light emitting diode.

13. The game piece of claim 10 further comprising a battery carried within the housing and communicatively coupled the at least one light emitting diode, the impact detection apparatus and the signaling apparatus.

14. The game piece of claim 10 further comprising a bumper positioned at the periphery of the game piece.

15. The game piece of claim 10 having a weight in the range of 0.50 ounces to 6 ounces.

16. The game piece of claim 10 further comprising: a first major surface; a second major surface; and a label sized to substantially cover one of the first major surface and the second major surface.

17. The game piece of claim 10 further comprising at least one sound emitting device, wherein the at least one sound emitting device producing audible signals in response to a signal from the impact sensing apparatus.

18. A kit including: a first triangular game piece; a set of stickers sized to fit within the bounds of the triangular game piece; and an instruction set for playing a game with the game piece.

19. The kit of claim 18 further comprising a second game piece, the instruction set further comprising instructions for playing a game with a first game piece and a second game piece.

20. The kit of claim 18 further comprising a goal.

Description:

This application is a non-provisional application of earlier filed provisional application No. 60/832,536 entitled “Football Playing Piece”, which is incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF INVENTION

The present invention relates to a gaming piece and more particularly a gaming piece equipped to signal an impacting force and the method of its use.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a game piece equipped for signaling an impacting blow against the game piece. The game piece comprises a body sized for manually impacting and propelling the game piece when struck with a finger blow from a cocked finger, an electronic signaling circuitry centrally disposed within said body so as to permit a substantially uniform propulsion of said piece when struck with the finger blow, an electronic sensing switch for switching the electronic signaling circuitry and generating an electronic signal upon sensing the finger blow and a signaling unit for electronically signaling the electronic signal generated by said electronic signaling circuitry upon sensing the finger blow to the playing piece.

The playing piece is most desirably of a triangular configuration such as commonly used in the game of table top football or finger football. The playing piece in its more limited embodiments includes a body of light weight construction such as of a plastic material, an electronic impacting sensing unit and a signaling unit housed within said body for sensing and signaling an impacting blow struck against the playing piece.

The signaling unit for sensing the impacting blow may include a switching mechanism designed to switch “on” an electronic signaling circuitry housed within the game piece when an impacting force is struck against the game piece. The body of the playing piece may be channeled to house the electronic circuitry for the electronic impact sensing unit and the signaling unit. Since the electronic circuitry will generally be of a different density or weight than the body within which it is housed, the electronic circuitry should be desirably housed at a substantially disposed centrally or balanced gravitational position so that it will not adversely affect the flight of the game piece. The electronic circuitry necessarily includes a circuitry which is capable of detecting an impacting blow which detection can be effectively incorporated into the switching mechanism. The electronic sensing member or unit may be comprised of an electronic conductive spring attached at one pole or post of the sensing switch and open at an opposite pole or post of the switch. Thus, when an impacting force is struck against the game piece, the spring will tend to be initially sprung or compressed in an opposite direction of the impacting force followed by decompression causing a springing motion (e.g. forward or side motion) of the switching spring so that the unattached spring end makes contact with the oppositely positioned switching post or pole and thereby switches to an “on” position so as to cause an electronic current to flow towards the electronic signaling member and thereby signal that the impacting blow has been struck against the playing piece.

Since the spring switch without any ancillary circuitry components will undergo a repetitive series of swinging or compression and decompression stages to switch “on” and “off” the current flow, the electronic signal member itself will undergo intermittent “on” and “off” signaling positions so as to correspond with the positioning of the spring between the switching posts. The signaling unit may comprise a signaling unit capable of generating a detectable signal such as a light or sound signal. If desired, the electronic circuitry may be provided in the form of a printed circuit board which upon activation by an impacting blow can convert the resulting electronic signal into random signals at a predetermined set of sequential signals as predetermined by the printed circuit board circuitry. In one embodiment, an LED light connected to switching mechanism and a printed circuit board power source provides an electronic signaling member.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention is pointed out with particularity in the appended claims. However, a more complete understanding of the present invention may be derived by referring to the detailed description when considered in connection with the figures, wherein like reference numbers refer to similar items throughout the figures and:

FIG. 1 is a top view of the playing piece embodying the impacting sensing and signaling circuitry according to an embodiment of this invention.

FIG. 2 depicts a top view of a playing piece body of the playing piece shown in FIG. 1 according to an embodiment of this invention.

FIG. 3 is an enlarged fragmentary cross-sectional view taken along line 3-3 of FIG. 1 according to an embodiment of this invention.

FIG. 4 is an enlarged top view of an insertable circuit board assembly for assembly onto the playing piece depicted by FIG. 7 to provide the playing piece shown in FIGS. 1 and 3 according to an embodiment of this invention.

FIG. 5 is a schematic drawing of the electronic circuitry for the circuit board assembly shown in FIG. 4 according to an embodiment of this invention.

FIG. 6 is an enlarged side-view of a spring switch shown in FIG. 4 for switching the electronic circuitry of FIG. 5 according to an embodiment of this invention.

FIG. 7 is a top view of FIG. 6 according to an embodiment of this invention.

FIG. 8 is a top view depicting a restrictive housing for restricting the lateral motion of the spring switch of FIG. 7 according to an embodiment of this invention.

FIG. 9 depicts another schematic drawing of an electronic circuitry for use in impact sensing and signaling an impacting blow struck against a playing piece, according to an embodiment of this invention.

FIG. 10 depicts a triangular shaped printed circuit board embodying the electronic circuitry of FIG. 9 according to an embodiment of this invention.

FIG. 11 depicts a battery clip suitable for adaptation to the printed circuit board of FIG. 10 according to an embodiment of this invention.

FIG. 12 depicts a capacitor for adaptation to the printed circuit board of FIG. 10 according to an embodiment of this invention.

FIG. 13 depicts a light emitting diode for use in the printed circuit Board of FIG. 10 according to an embodiment of this invention.

FIG. 14 is an enlarged partial view of an electroplated contact switching pole for use in detecting an impacting blow with the printed circuit Board of FIG. 10 according to an embodiment of this invention.

FIG. 15 depicts an unplated segment of the switch shown in FIG. 14 according to an embodiment of this invention.

FIG. 16 is an enlarged partial side view of a motion activated switching component for use in the printed circuit board of FIG. 10 according to an embodiment of this invention.

FIG. 17A depicts an elevational side view of the impacting detecting switch embodying the switching elements of FIGS. 14-16 for use in the printed circuit board of FIG. 10 according to an embodiment of this invention.

FIG. 17B depicts an elevational side view of the impacting detecting switch according to another embodiment of this invention.

FIG. 17C depicts an elevational side view of the impacting detecting switch according to yet another embodiment of this invention.

FIG. 18 depicts a top view of the impacting switch shown in FIG. 17 according to an embodiment of this invention.

FIG. 19 depicts a printed circuit board material for use in fabricating the printed circuit board depicted in FIG. 10 according to an embodiment of this invention.

FIG. 20 depicts a top view of a playing piece of this invention equipped with the printed circuit board of FIG. 10 according to an embodiment of this invention.

FIG. 21 depicts a cross-section side view of FIG. 20 according to an embodiment of this invention.

FIG. 22 is an exploded elevational side view of an assembly used in the construction of the playing piece shown in FIG. 20 according to an embodiment of this invention.

FIG. 23 is a top view depicting another variation of the playing piece, according to an embodiment of this invention.

FIG. 24 is an elevational rear view of the playing piece shown in FIG. 23 according to an embodiment of this invention.

FIG. 25 is a side view of the playing piece shown in FIG. 23 according to an embodiment of this invention.

FIG. 26 is an elevational top view showing the internal landscape of a playing piece body half section adapted to house the playing piece batter and printed circuit board according to an embodiment of this invention.

FIG. 27 is a top view of printed circuit board equipped with the electronic circuitry for insertion onto the playing piece body half section shown in FIG. 26 according to an embodiment of this invention.

FIG. 27A is a side view of FIG. 26 according to an embodiment of this invention.

FIG. 28 is a top view depicting the playing piece body half section shown in FIG. 26 equipped with the electronic circuitry shown in FIG. 27 according to an embodiment of this invention

FIG. 29 is an elevational internal view of a mating playing piece body section of the playing piece body according to an embodiment of this invention.

FIG. 30 depicts a top view of the mating playing piece body section of FIG. 29 pegged onto the playing piece half section shown in FIG. 27 according to an embodiment of this invention.

FIG. 31 is a side view of FIG. 30 according to an embodiment of this invention.

FIG. 32 is a partial cross sectional view taken along the view of line F-F according to an embodiment of this invention.

FIG. 33 is a side view of FIG. 31 showing the projecting taps of stakes uniformly heat melted onto recessed cavity of the playing piece body according to an embodiment of this invention.

FIGS. 34A, 34B and 34C set forth illustrative specifications for the main body half section shown in FIG. 26 according to an embodiment of this invention.

FIG. 35 shows a gamepeice, according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 36 shows a kit, according to an embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

With reference to the drawings and following descriptive materials, there is provided a game piece 1 equipped for detecting and signaling an impacting blow struck against the game piece 1. The game piece 1 includes an electronic circuitry or assembly 3 having a detecting or sensing unit 2 for sensing or detecting an impacting blow and a signaling unit 5 for signaling the impacting blow such as shown in FIGS. 4 and 6.

As may be observed from the Figures, the electronic circuitry assembly 3 may be manufactured as an insertable circuitry assembly 3 (e.g. a printed circuit board) as depicted by FIGS. 4 and 10 for insertion into the playing piece body 7 such as shown in FIGS. 2 and 22 to provide the assembled playing piece as depicted by FIGS. 1, 3, 20 and 21. This permits manufacturer to equip the playing piece 1 with an electronic circuitry 3 with any desired signaling unit 5 which may be factory equipped to generate a desired sensory signal such as light or sound emulating a favorite team song or tune, or as may be appropriately modified at the retail outlet or playing site to suit the game players. As illustrated by FIGS. 1-3 and 20-22, the electronic circuitry 3 is housed within a body 7 sized for manually impacting with a finger blow against the body 7 to propel the game piece 1 along a playing surface. The electronic circuitry 3 also includes a power source 9 for electronically powering the electronic circuitry 3 to undertake the sensing and signaling operations. The sensing unit 2 may, in its elemental form, simply comprise an impact sensing switching member 2S (shown in FIG. 6) for mechanically switching “on” and “off” an electronic flow of current through the electronic circuitry 3 when an impacting blow when struck against the game piece 1.

After the detecting of an impacting blow against the game piece 1 by the sensing unit 2, the signaling unit 5 is thereby electronically activated to signal the impact. The signaling unit 5 may in its most basic form be simply responsive to the mechanical switching of switch 2 or alternatively may rely upon a more exotic electronic circuitry 3 to conduct a more complex signaling operation.

As may be observed from the electronic circuitry of FIGS. 4 and 9, the playing piece 1 includes a portable power source 9 for providing electronic power for powering the electronic circuitry 3. The power source 9 is generally sized, weighted and positionally placed within the game piece 1 so as to not aerodynamically detract from the game player's ability to effectively propel the game piece 1 when struck with an impacting blow equivalent to that of striking the game piece 1 with a finger blow from a cocked finger. The power source 9, in one embodiment, is in the form of small batteries or solar cells such as commonly used in small hand held computers, hearing aides, watches, etc., may be effectively utilized to power a low load signaling unit 5 such as a low emission diode as commonly referred to as an LED light.

A switching member 2 generally serves as a sensing unit 2 for detecting an impacting force struck against the game piece 1 and switching “on” a flow of electrical current for relaying onto the signaling unit 5 and thereby signaling the fact that an impacting blow has been struck against the game piece 1. A variety of switching members 2S may be effectively utilized to switch “on” the flow of current through the electronic circuitry 3. In one embodiment, switching members 2S are those switches capable of detecting and switching “on” the current flow upon encountering an impacting force such as a finger blow struck against the game piece 1 as disclosed in more detail by FIGS. 6-8 and 15-18. The switching member 2S disclosed in greater detail in FIGS. 6-8 includes a two post switch generally referenced as switching pads 2− &2+ switched by an electrically conductive spring 2C soldered or attached to one switching post pad 2− and a laterally positioned contacting switch post or contacting pad 2+ upon which the electrically conductive spring 2C comes into contact when in impacting blow in struck against the game piece 1. The spring 2C is attached at one end to switch pad 2− and extends outwardly and upwardly at an acute angular position to an unattached lateral positioning juxtaposition to contact pad 2+. With particular reference to the electronic assembly insert of FIG. 4 and the enlarged switch views of FIGS. 6-8, the switching member 2S may be housed within a channeled or walled switch housing 2H which directionally channels the compression and decompression of the electrically conductive spring 2C along a major longitudinal axis resting in alignment with stationary contacting post 2− and unattached contacting spring pad 2+. Thus, when an impacting force is struck against the game piece 1 in a transverse relationship to the major longitudinal axis of the game piece body 7, the channeled switch housing 2H will directionally align the spring 2C compression in an unidirectional alignment with contacting post 2+. When the impacting force compresses spring 2C to its ultimate state of compression for the level of impacting force applied to the piece 1, the compressed spring 2C will decompress within the confines of vertical extending walls 7W of body spring housing or 7HS thus channeling the decompressing spring 2C towards the unattached contacting pad 2+until it ultimately comes into contact with unattached contacting pad 2+ causing an electronic current to activate current flow within the electronic circuitry 3. It will be further observed from FIG. 6 that spring 2C in the uncompressed or its unextended form remains sufficiently elevated from contacting post 2+ so that only when the spring 2C is compressed and decompressed by an impacting motion is it possible for spring 2C to make contact onto contacting pad 2+.

In one embodiment, the spring 2C will sequentially compress and decompress and oscillate between an “open” and “closed” position until the free energy of the activated spring 2C is spent. This switching “on” and “off” of the electronic circuitry 3 may be itself be used to switch the signaling unit 5. Thus, as switch 2 sequentially oscillates from an “open” to a “closed” position, the signaling unit 5 will correspondingly respond to the positioning of the spring switch 2C. This mechanical switching will create a random sequence of signals as opposed to a pre-arranged sequence of signals which may be created through a programmable circuit board 3B such as depicted by the electronic circuitry of FIG. 5.

In another embodiment, the switch 2 will produce a signal to enable an electronic circuit that will produce a random signal to light at least one light emitting diode (“LED”).

The switching member 2S depicted by FIGS. 4-6 may comprise a gold plated multi-pitch spring 2C or otherwise conductive material housed within a channeled switch housing 2H, carried by a printed circuit board 3B which provides the electronic circuitry 3 for programming the appropriate relay of electronic signals to activate the signaling unit 5 when activated by detecting unit 2. The housing 2H may be a separate unit or it may be an integrated feature of the insertable electronic circuitry board assembly 3 or designed into the playing piece body 7.

FIG. 8 shows a top view of switch 2 and housing 2H which restricts the lateral (side to side) motion of the spring 2C but allows for free vertical axial movement of the spring 2C. As mentioned, the housing 2H may be separate or integrated into the solid body 7 of the game piece 1. The printed circuit board 3B may be designed so as to relay only the switching function generated by detecting unit 2 or it may include a more comprehensive circuit board 3B equipped with the required features for mounting spring 2C and housing 2H integrated into a more complex electronic circuitry 3 for creating a predetermined programmed sequence of electronic signals.

The spring 2C and housing 2H may be operationally integrated into the circuit board 3B as depicted by the circuitry of FIG. 4 so as to conduct the pre-programmed operational functions. FIG. 6 shows a partial side view of the printed circuit assembly 3B including the attachment of the spring 2C soldered onto contacting pad 2−(shown in FIG. 5). The depicted spring 2C is shown as being installed at an inclined angle sufficiently spaced laterally apart from unattached contact pad 2+ to provide for a normally open switch 2 function. If desired, the sensitivity of the switch 2 may be adjusted by changing the angle at which the spring 2C is attached to the contact pad 2− with a steeper incline requiring a more violent impacting blow to close the switch 2. The switch's sensitivity may be appropriately enhanced by incorporating the composite design of the multi-pitched spring 2C into its construction as depicted by FIGS. 4, 6 and 7. The use of finer pitch 2F at the unattached or free end of the spring 2C will create an additional whip so as to increase the switch's sensitivity to an impacting force. Conversely, a stiffer fine pitch spring end 2F or courser base spring 2C will decrease switching sensitivity. Spring 2C in its preferred embodiment should possess a high order of conductivity as may be achieved by plating spring 2C with gold or other highly conductive metals which also have good solderability properties, good electrical conductivity and good corrosion resistance. Anchoring pad 2− and contacting pad 2+ may also be appropriately plated with a conductive metal such as gold or other electrically conductive metal possessing good solderability, electrical conductivity and resistance to corrosion.

Now turning to the schematic circuitry drawing of FIG. 5, there is depicted a simplified drawing of the basic electronic circuitry 3 for the detecting unit 2 in form of a spring 2C switch and the signaling unit 5. As shown in FIG. 5, the circuitry 3 includes one or more LEDs 5 used as the signaling light source 5, a battery 9 and a spring switch 2 serving as the detecting unit 2 of the circuit board assembly 3. In its most rudimentary and cost effective form, the motion detecting switch 2 will undergo “on” and “off” series causing the LEDs 5A, 5B, &5C to emit light so as to simulate flashing lights. When the circuit 3 is open and closed by sequential vibrations of motions such as caused by striking and propelling the game piece 1 with a cocked finger, the LEDs may accordingly emit a series of light flashes each time spring 2C closes the circuit switch 2. The circuitry 3 also includes a capacitor C1. The capacitor C1 holds an electronic charge for discharge onto programmable chip U1 which in turn enables the lighting of LEDs 5A, 5B 5C upon switching on by switch 2.

The switch 2 functions on the principle that the mass of the spring 2C on the contact is inertially coupled or decoupled (i.e. switched) from the circuit board 3B by the course pitch section 2R and fine pitch section 2F of spring 2C. If the circuit board 3B receives sufficient impact (acceleration) from the bottom side of the board 3B then the acceleration of the free end of the spring 2C will lag sufficiently to make contact with unattached contact pad 2+. When the impact is in the opposite direction, the gap between the spring 2C and the board 3B will increase temporarily but when the impact event is terminated, the spring 2C will then begin to swing towards the circuit board 3 and contact upon unattached contacting pad 2+. The switch housing 2H serves to limit the decoupling of the free end of the spring 2C so as to minimize energy stored in the spring 2C during lateral impacts. Limiting this energy helps prevent triggering on lateral impact as the motion of the spring 2C is otherwise positioned to be somewhat orbital (due to various complexities of elasticity related to the helical construction of the spring).

The spring as depicted by FIGS. 4, 6 and 7 includes a course spring section 2R secured to anchoring pad 2− at an appropriate inclined angular position so as to maintain spring 2C at an inclined position or “open” switch position. The spring also includes a fine pitch section 2F that creates a whipping contact action creating contact to contacting pad 2+ when switch 2 encounters an impacting blow. As previously mentioned, the attached spring pad 2− and the contacting or unattached switching pad 2+ may be appropriately plated with a highly conductive electrical conductor such as gold. The switching of the sensitivity switch 2 may be altered by altering the inclination or inclined positioning of the spring 2C or by enhancing the whipping characteristics of the fine spring pitch section 2F.

In another aspect of the invention, there is provided a motion activated playing piece 1 equipped with a signaling unit 5 which illuminates or emits a lighted signal upon receiving an impacting force against the piece 1. The playing piece 1 comprises an electronic circuitry 3 including a power source 9 (e.g. a small battery), a motion-activated switch 2 (e.g. a pressure sensitive switch) and a light source 5 (e.g. a low emission diode commonly referred to as a LED light) activated to emit light when activated by said motion-activated switch 2 by the impacting force, with said electronic circuitry 3 being embedded within a body which visibly displays the light emitted by the light source 5. In one embodiment, the body may be transparent. In another embodiment, at least a portion of the body may be translucent or transparent.

The electronic circuitry 3 is most appropriately provided in the form of a printed circuit board assembly 3B incorporating the impacting sensing unit 2 and the impact signaling unit 5 powered by an appropriate power source 9. The printed circuit board assembly should be adapted to be responsive to an intermittent contact created by the pressure switch 2 switching the flow of current “on” or “off” (e.g. by the whipping action of spring 2C) or alternatively a switch 2 integrated onto a more complex circuitry 3 equipped with a switch opening detector for detecting the opening of the switch after it has been closed and an electronic flasher or sequencer. The motion activated switch 2 as used in the playing piece 1 herein may, if desired, be integrated into a printed circuit board 3B equipped with an oscillator, clock generator, edge detector, variable counter and sequence control to provide various illuminating patterns.

In another embodiment, the circuitry can include a sounding member for producing a tone of a favorite team. In another embodiment, a set of prerecorded tones is stored. Different prerecorded tones may be played at random or sounded in response to the severity of the blow imparted against the playing piece 1.

The detecting unit 2 may be compactly integrated onto a printed circuit board assembly 3B (such as depicted in the Figures) for emplacement within the small confines of the football playing piece 1. Although the printed circuit board assembly 3B may be replaced with a similar mechanical switching mechanism 2 connected to a suitable power source 9 for relaying an electronic signal (e.g. current) to a signaling member 5, the printed circuit board assembly 3B affords the most compact, dynamically balanced, and most effective manner of providing the necessary electronic circuitry 3 for the game piece 1. As shown in FIGS. 4, 5, 9, 10, 27 and 27A, the depicted light modules 5 in the form of LED lights are operatively connected to a printed circuit board 3B having an integrated circuit 3 including a spring switch 2C and a battery 9 electronically powering onto the light source 5. Commercially available flashing units, such as an LED IC Controller available from Bowin Electronics of Hong Kong as part no CDT3269.doc, may be programmed to conduct a prearranged sequence of flashing LED light 5 to create a flashing display in response to striking the game piece 1.

The depicted assembled circuitry 3 of FIG. 4 includes three LED signaling lights 5 identified as 5A, 5B, and 5C which may be serviced by a miniature low emission light referenced as LED, SMT, RA, J-lead, vendor part no. 160-1479-1-ND manufactured by LiteOn Optoelectronics, Lite-On, Inc. -Chicago, 28835 N. Herkey Drive, Unit 103, Lake Bluff, Ill. 60044, under reference of manufacture part no. LTST-S270KRKT powered by a coin cell battery 9 vended by Digi-Key Corporation, 701 Brooks Avenue South, Thief River Falls, Minn. 56701, under part no. 210-0011-CR2010 and manufactured by Panasonic, Panasonic Corporation of North America, One Panasonic Way, Secaucus, N.J. 07094, reference as CR2012, 3V, P037-ND.

The spring switch 2C depicted by FIGS. 6-8 comprise steel spring switch 2C consisting of an attached coarse switch end 2R and a fine unattached spring end 2F welded together to provide a integral switch 2 of variable whip and tension which upon impact contacts gold plated switching pad 2+ which serves to activate the preprogrammed printed circuit flashing unit 5 which in turn regulates the flashing of signaling units 5A, 5B, &5C.

The electronic current switched by switch 2 flows onto circuit board 3B then respectively through paired resistors R1, R2, R3, of a type such as vended by Digi-Key Corporation under part no. 410-0033-20, PS, Resistor, 0603, 1/16W, 1%, 20.0 Ohm, P20.OHCT-ND manufactured by Panasonic under manufacturing part no. ERJ-3EKF20R0V. The circuit board 3B may include a programmable chip U1 which can be programmed before insertion into a board vended under part no. 548-0026 by Digi-Key Corporation, referenced as PIC10F202, FLASH, 4 MHz, SOT23-6 and manufactured by Microchip Technology, Inc., 2355 West Chandler Blvd, Chandler, Ariz., 85224-6199, under manufacture reference part number PIC10F202T-1/OTCT-ND. In one embodiment the integrated circuitry 3 further includes a 25 volt ceramic capacitor C1 vended by Digi-Key Corporation as part number 432-0018-25V-0.1UF further referenced as Cap, Ceramic, 0603, 25 volt, 0.1 UF, Y5V, PCC1794TR-ND manufactured by Panasonic bearing a manufacturer part no. ECJ-IVF1E104Z, and a resistor R4, vended by Digi-Key Corporation Resistor, 0603, 1/16 W, 1%, 10.OK, P10.0KHTR-ND manufactured by Panasonic referenced as part number ERJ-3EKF1002V bridging between a 3 phase PCB flasher 3V. Upon activation by the motion detecting switch 2, the programmed circuit board 3B activates the appropriate electrical current flow to generate the desired flashing signals by LED lights 5A, 5B, &5C. The insertable electronic circuitry assembly 3 may be fabricated upon printed circuit board 3B and encased in a polyurethane sized plug (not shown) to fit body cavity 7H and plugged into the game piece body 5 to provide the game piece 1 as depicted in FIGS. 1 and 3.

The motion-activated switch 2, the circuitry 3 may, if desired, include circuitry sized to fit into the body 7 of the playing piece 1 and equipped with a mono-stable multi-vibrator (not shown) triggered by a positive pulse, a switch connected to the multi-vibrator through a differentiator circuit and an inverter. A mono-stable multi-vibrator which drives a low frequency oscillator or flasher, such as a National Semi Conductor LM 2909, sized to fit within the body, will allow the LED to flash simultaneously for a low rate for the predetermined time set by mono-stable multi-vibrator. If desired, the mono-stable and/or flasher can be replaced with smaller sized electronic components similar to VH215 LED flasher made by Vitelic Ltd., of Hong Kong, capable of producing both predetermine and random flashes. As evident from the aforementioned, various different types of signals ranging from a mechanical contact to preprogrammed signals may be emitted by the signaling unit 5 upon activation of the electronic circuitry by the motion activated switch 2.

The depicted playing piece 1 relies upon a motion activated switch 2 as the impact sensing unit 2 which activates the electronic circuitry 3 to emit a signal when the playing piece 1 receives an impacting blow. In other embodiments other motion sensitive switches 2 such as a mercury, ball, laser, etc., pressure switches, a conductive multi-pitched spring comprised of a course spring section 2R a fine spring end section 2F such as depicted in the FIGS. 5-7 or a contact switch depicted by FIGS. 15-18 will provide the necessary sensitivity for detecting the shock load imported by a finger block.

As illustrated in FIGS. 4 and 5, the printed circuit board 3B powered by coin cell battery 9 for lighting the LED lights 5A, 5B, &5C is switched by a multi-pitched spring 2C attached on inclined angle by soldering spring 2C onto a printed circuit board 3B first terminal contact pad 2−. The LED lights 5A, 5B &5C are connected to a second terminal contact pad 2+ of the printed circuit board 3B which normally remains open and closed to the flow of electrical current until activated by an imparting blow. When the playing piece 1 is stuck with a force of sufficient strength, the multi-pitched spring 2C makes contact onto contact pad 2+ activating the printed circuit board circuitry 3 for lighting of the LED lights 5A, 5B &5C.

If desired the unconnected end of spring 2C may be positioned so as to extend upwardly and forwardly from circuit board 3B at a position slightly above the surface of battery 9 which in turn constitutes the negative terminal of battery 9. Since the positive terminal lead 2+ is soldered to the positive circuit board pad 2+, extension of spring 2C so as to come into contact upon the negative battery terminal 9 side may then be used to activate the printed circuit board circuitry 3 and light by the LED lights 5A, 5B, &5C. Although light emitting diodes (i.e. LEDs) are shown, other light sources including incandescent, eletrolumineacent, infra red or ultraviolet may be used when switched “on” by circuitry 3.

The end of the spring 2C connected to the printed circuit board 3B will desirably be constructed of a courser pitched spring section 2R possessing sufficient springed rigidity to maintain the finer pitched spring section 2F in an open or “off” position. Upon impact, the course pitched spring section 2R will generally retain its inclined position while the finer pitched spring section 2F will tend to extend and drift onto a closed or “on” switching position by contacting onto the unattached pad contact 2− or terminal side for the printed circuit board 3B. As previously pointed out, upon contacting the unconnected pad site 2+, the printed circuit board 3B is enabled to conduct a preprogrammed signaling or lighting pattern.

The playing piece body 7 depicted by FIGS. 1-3, 20, 21 and 22 serves to house the electronic hardware 3 while also possessing sufficient transparency or positioning of the LEDs 5 to permit visual light to be emitted from the playing piece 1. In addition, the playing piece body 7 in combination with electronic hardware 3 provides a playing piece 1 sufficiently aerodynamically balanced so as to permit the impacted playing piece 1 to maintain a desired pattern of flight to effectively play a table top football game.

The body 7 of the playing piece 1 as depicted by FIGS. 1-3 and 20-22 may be constructed of a variety of materials which are suitably adapted to be propelled upon striking of the game piece 1 with a blow from a cocked finger, while also allowing for sensory awareness of an activation of the signaling unit 5. The body 7 construction may accordingly be structured so as to accommodate the signal desired to be transmitted therefrom. If the signaling unit emits a sound, body 7 should, accordingly be constructed of materials capable of transmitting the sound signal. The body of the game piece 1 may most appropriately be constructed of a flexible or resilient material (e.g. a soft pliable plastic or rubbery material) such as a transparent or translucent natural or synthetic rubber when the signaling unit 5 emits a light signal. A foamed core (polyurethane) sandwiched between a transparent plastic sheath or coating may also be used as a body 7 for the game piece 1.

In one embodiment, the body 7 for housing a light emitting signaling unit 5 of FIGS. 1-8 includes a pliable elastomeric body 7 such as commonly used to fabricate artificial fishing lures in a form so as to simulate the appearance and elasticity of a synthetic worm. Such pliable imitation plastic lures are typically composed of a soft, highly flexible and resilient polymeric material comprised of polyvinyl chloride polymer (PVC) suspended in a high concentration of a liquid plasticizer. Commonly referred to as a PVC plastisol, the plasticizer typically constitutes more than fifty percent by weight of the plasticized polymeric (PVC) weight which is responsible for the resiliency, flexibility, softness and low penetration resistance to decompression, all of which features collective provide a desirable playing piece body 7.

The PVC plastisol body 7 such as depicted in FIGS. 1-3 may be fabricated in a mold adapted to provide an isosceles triangular shaped body 7 such as one having a base measuring 2.142 inches, isosceles sides of 1,821 inches and 0.312 inch thick with rounded corners so as to comply with the table top football specifications. The mold may also be designed to create a cavity 7H (e.g. measuring 0.130 inch depth×1.25 inches in diameter) centrally disposed upon the top side of body 7 for housing the electronic circuitry 3 for the impacting detecting switch 2 and signaling LED 5 carried by the printed circuit board 3B as depicted by FIGS. 3, 4, and 5. The playing piece body 7 may effectively molded within the mold by pouring the molten plastisol into a mold while allowing adequate time to permit the molten plastisol to solidify and cure within the mold. The cured plastisol body 7 may then be removed from the mold.

When a PVC plastisol is used in the manufacture, the cured playing piece body 7 will desirably have a shore hardness durometer index of less than 15 with a shore hardness index ranging from about 12 to about 14 in softer bodied embodiment of the playing piece 1.

The PVC plastisols as conventionally used to produce artificial lures such as artificial worms will generally require more added plastisol to soften the cure to desired body 7. A typical fish lure designed to provide a shore hardness index of 15 which may be made softer or less hard by adding an extra plasticizer to the normal number 93 plastisol as sold and distributed by AR Products, 111807 7/8 Slavson Ave, Santa Fe Springs, Calif. 90670.

Another PVC plastisol product that produces a clear body 7 is a PVC plastisol identified as product 370CV15202, referenced as a clear PVC lure compound having a viscosity #3 Spindle @ 20 RPM 50-300 CPS/Actual: 100 CPS, a durometer of 35 +/−2/actual: 35 and a weight of 8.76±0.1 pounds per gallon, distributed and sold by Chemionics Corporation, 390 Munroe Falls Road, Tallmadge, Ohio 44278. The uncured PVC plastisol product 370CX15202 is cured by heating to a molten temperature at about 200 degrees F. until it becomes clear (about 10 minutes) and fluid enough for pouring into a mold. A mold (e.g. a splittable metal mold) for forming the body 7 with a housing 7H to house printed circuit board 3B such as shown in more detail in FIGS. 2 and 3 provides the necessary structure for the game piece body 7 and housing the insertable electronic circuitry assembly 3.

The PVC plastisol mixture used to manufacture football piece body 7 will typically be heated to a molten temperature of about 200 degree F. to about 250 degree F. until clear (e.g. typically for about a ten minute period) and then poured directly into the playing piece body mold for molding the body 7 under ambient conditions. Excessive thermal treatment (i.e. temperature or time) can lead to thermal decomposition of the plastic mass. After the molten mass ambiently cools to a solid body, the molded body 7 may be appropriately removed from the mold. As may be observed from the Figures, the housing 7H for housing the electronic circuitry 3 is centrally positioned within the body 7 so as to substantially maintain a balanced center of gravity for the playing piece 1. Thus, when the playing piece 1 is struck, the playing piece 1 center of gravity will not adversely affect the propelling motion or direction of the impacted playing piece 1. The positioning of the circuitry 3 within the body 7 provides for a substantially balanced playing piece 1 that can be propelled in a substantially uniform unidirectional propelling motion. Placing the housing 7H at center of gravity point of the playing piece 1 thus balances the projectile flight of the playing piece 1 and prevents lop-sided or wobbly travel.

After plugging electronic housing 7H with plug 7P, a transparent adhesively backed label 7L covering printed circuit board 3B and the top side panel section covering the playing body 7 except for about a ¼ inch peripheral margin was adhesively applied onto top panel section as illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 3 to protectively encase and house the printed circuit board 3B within the playing piece 1. The playing piece body 7 was formulated so as to be transparent to the transmission of light generated by the LEDs 5A, 5B &5C.

In another example embodiment, a playing football piece 1 of an identical dimensional size with the rounded corners as illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2 may be prepared using a foamed polyurethane as the main material of construction for the core body 7. A centrally disposed and gravitationally balanced housing cavity 7H sized to house onto printed circuit board 3B may be likewise removed from the center of the playing piece body 7. The printed circuit board 3B for detecting and signaling the impacting blow may similarly be inserted into the cavity 7H and foamed body 7 housing the printed circuit board 3B protectively encased with an adhesively backed thin translucent plastic layer (e.g. non-woven fibrous nylon material such as sold by CEREX of Cantonment, Fla. The thin translucent layer may be provided with a transparent window to allow for the emission of light emitted by the LED 5.

FIG. 4 depicts a top view of an insertable motion activated flashing LED circuit board assembly 3 sized for insertion into a cavity 7H created by molding or cutting. The circuit board assembly 3 includes a switch 2 equipped with a fine spiral wound wire 2F at an unattached end, a switch housing 2H adapted to channel a motion activated fine spiral wound switch wire end 2F onto contact pad 2− to switch the current on and thereby electronically activate the preprogrammed printed circuit board 3B to cause the LED lights 5 to flash in a predetermined manner.

With particular reference to FIG. 2, the centrally disposed portion of the playing piece body 5 includes a cavity 7H having a radial center disposed along the bisecting intersect of the bisecting angles (i.e. 45 degree) of each isoleles angular corner of a radius measuring 1.329 inches and 0.26 inch deep to accommodate foamed polyurethane plugs 7P, each measuring 0.70 inch thick and 012 inch thick circuit board assembly 3. The two polyurethane plugs 7P (e.g. measuring 1.25 inch diameter) were used to plug the cavity 7H and seal the 1.25 inch diameter circuit board 3B at a centrally disposed position within the play piece. The circuit board assembly 3 is sized to snuggly nest within the center of cavity 7H and enclosed therewithin by the foamed polyurethane plug. Printed adhesive labels 7L sized to mate onto the underside surface of the playing piece body 7 leaving approximately a ¼ inch peripheral margin securely closes and houses the circuit board assembly 3 within body cavity 7H and playing piece body 7. If desired an adhesive coating may be applied to either the body cavity 7H surface or the foamed circuit board 3B surface to firmly cement the circuit board assembly 3 to cavity 7H. The encasing adhesive label 7L may suitably be constructed of an adhesively backed plastic film screen printed upon its exterior or exposed surface with the team colors, logo or other favorite team or advertiser desires. The adhesively backed label 7L adhesively engages onto the game piece body 7 and provides closure to the encased printed circuit board 3B.

FIGS. 9-34c reveal further embodiments of the invention depicting a playing piece 1 housing an impact sensing switch 2 for switching a signaling unit 5 to signal an impacting blow. An inertia sensitive switch 2 housed in playing piece body 7 composed of prefabricated layers of materials protectively housing a printed circuit board 3B programmed to emit an electronic signal upon being impacted servers as the playing piece 1.

In cross-referencing the designed components parts to the drawings and graphic illustration so FIGS. 9-22 to the depiction of FIGS. 1-8, the following correlations may be applied:

Def.FIGS. 1-8FIGS. 9-22
Circuitry assembly3pc board - 3B
Printed Circuit Board3Bpc board - 3B
Sensing Unit22
Switching Member2S1, S2
Signaling Unit (e.g. LED)5D1, D2, D3, D4,
D5, D6
Power Source (Battery)79
CapacitorsC1C1, C2, C3, C4
ResistorsR1, R2, R3, R4R1, R2
Pre-programmable Flasher unitU1

In operation, the playing piece 1 depicted by FIGS. 1-8 are designed to create the desired impact sensing and impacting signaling responses in a similar fashion as the playing piece 1 depicted by FIGS. 9-22. If desired, the playing piece 1 of FIGS. 9-22 may be equipped with a programmable chip U1 or any other suitable sensory signaling unit 5.

As may be observed from FIGS. 10 and 20-22, the playing piece 1 includes a circuit board 3B of an undersized playing piece configuration and biaxially aligned along the major planar axis of the playing piece assembly and sandwich within the playing piece 1 at a position in substantial alignment with the gravitational center of the playing piece 1. This may be effectively accomplished by configuring the circuit board 3B as illustrated by FIGS. 10 &20-22 in a triangular configuration of a slightly reduced size and configuration from the playing piece 1 so as to be protectively sandwiched within the playing piece 1. Since the triangularly shaped circuit board 3B is placed within the playing piece 1 so that it bisects the bisecting major plane of the playing piece 1 and centered therein so that the circuit board 3B is positioned substantially equidistant from the outer playing piece surface, substantial gravitational centering of circuit board 3B within the playing piece 1 may thus be achieved. Since the relatively flat triangular shaped circuit board 3B may be effectively designed so as to provide a substantially uniform distribution of gravitational weight within the piece 1, sandwiching of the completed and gravitational balanced circuit board 3B within the fabricated plastic body 7 results in a substantially uniformly balanced playing piece 1 which exhibit's a substantially balanced rotational flight when struck by an impacting blow such as in a football table top game.

With particular reference to the printed circuit board depictions of FIGS. 10, 20-22 and the schematic circuitry of FIG. 9, the printed circuit board 3B may be fabricated using a printed circuit board material Pm typified by FIG. 19 so as to provide a triangular shaped printed circuit board 3B for sandwiching within the football piece 1 as illustrated by FIGS. 20-22. The LED flasher circuit board 3B is designed to mechanically respond by the triggering of sensing switches S1 & S2 upon impact to make initial switching contact upon one switching pole to cause a charging of capacitors C1, C2, C3 & C4 and upon contact onto another switching pole to cause a discharging of a capacitors C1, C2, C3 & C4 charge to flash LEDs 5A, 5B, 5C, 5D, 5E, &5F upon inertial contact of the opposite pole the light emitting diodes 5A, 5B, 5C, 5D, 5E, &5F to flash.

It may be further observed from FIG. 9 that with the resistors R1 & R2 removed, a circuitry would then exist for completely separate flashing circuits. Each circuit consists of a set of one or more capacitors (generally prefixed by C), one or more light emitting diodes (generally prefixed by 5) and a sensor (a dipolar switch and referenced as S1 or S2) all sharing a single power source 9. A three volt lithium button or coin cell battery 9 may suitably serve as a power source for the FIG. 9 circuitry. With particular reference to FIG. 11, a small beryllium copper clip with the flat clip side 9C soldered to the printed circuit board 3B serves to fasten the battery 9 down onto the printed circuit board 3B. The securing clip 9C also serves as a conductor for the positive side of the battery 9. The negative side of the battery 9 may be placed in direct contact with a large copper pad on an positioned opposite side of the printed circuit board 3B.

Surface mounted four volt, forty-seven microfarad tantalum capacitors (generally prefixed by C), of a standard 3216 size, placed around the circumference of the battery 9 form a complete battery retention system. Capacitors C1 & C2 may be positioned opposite from the clip 9C while capacitors C3 & C4 may be positioned on the same side as the clip 9C. The capacitors C1 & C2 are connected to the common pole of the sensor 2. When the common pole of the sensor S1 makes contact with the conductor that is connected to the negative side of the battery B1, the capacitors will then charge up to the maximum amount of potential energy in a very short time interval. The capacitors C1 & C2 are connected in parallel creating a total capacitance of approximately ninety-four microfarad. If desired, the capacitors C3 & C4 may also be added in parallel by adding a zero ohm resistor R1. This effectively provides a total capacitance of approximately one hundred and eighty-eight microfarads thereby effectively doubling the amount of energy potential for subsequent discharge across the LEDs 5.

The discharge of current from the capacitors C will occur when the common pole of the sensor S1 makes contact with a conductor connected to the light emitting diodes 5A, 5B &5C. This short burst of energy will cause the LEDs to flash. The light emitting diodes 5A, 5B &5C are located at each triangular corner of the printed circuit board 3B while the LEDs 5D, 5E &5F are located between the corners along the outer edge of the printed circuit board 3B. Small notches may be fabricated under LEDs 5D, 5E, &5F to allow for better disbursement of light. The light emitting diodes 5D, 5E, &5F can be added to LEDs 5A, 5B &5C by adding the zero ohm resistor R2. If desired, the printed circuit board 3B depicted by the FIG. 9 circuitry may also be equipped to provide dual color LEDs 5 as another option. The circuit 3 is configured so that one sensor 2 will flash one of the lamps in 5A, 5B &5C and flash a different color in 5D, 5E and 5F. The remaining sensor 2 will flash the remaining lamps 5 in the dual color package part. This alternative option may be utilized to provide improved results as each LED 5 set has the potential of having one or the other or both lamps 5 in the LED 5 package getting flashed at the same time creating as many as six different colors in a more random fashion.

The overall sensor or sensory unit 2 consists essentially two parts. The manner in which the printed circuit board 3B is fabricated becomes a part of the two way sensing or switching member 2. During the printed circuit board 3B fabrication, holes are drilled and slots are cut into printed circuit board material Pm for plating. The slotted hole 2H depicted by FIG. 14 shows an illustrative slot 2H after electro-plating. The slotted hole 2H is a substantially elongated slot 2H (depicted by FIGS. 10, 14-15, 17-18 and 21) cut from the FIG. 19 board material Pm for placement upon the printed circuit board 3B as depicted by FIGS. 10 and 21. In one embodiment, the slotted opening may be elliptically shaped. The slotted board material Pm is then electroplated with an electro conductive material to electroplate the conductive switch 2 element as depicted by FIG. 14. After electro-plating, secondary drill and route operations are performed where plating is not desired. FIG. 15 depicts the result of such a secondary route operation. This operation provides two separate circuits at opposing sides of the electroplated slotted walls 2W1 &2W2 of the circuit board material. One of the electroplated walls 2W1 will be connected to the LEDs 5 and the other electroplated wall 2W2 will be connected to the three volt battery 9. The round holes at each end of the sensor area of the printed circuit board 3B serve to allow different mechanical options for the pole side of sensor switch 2. Contact pads 2+&2− are connected to the capacitors C1 & C2. In essence, the sensor 2 includes a motion activated conductive wire connected to one battery pole and walled elliptical electrical conductive housing 2W comprised of 2W1 &2W2 connected to an opposite battery pole which serves as another switching contact when upon vibrations as may be visualized by FIG. 19.

Referring now to FIGS. 16 and 17A, a switch wire 2C part is fabricated with a weighted ball 2B secured to one end of the electro conductive wire 2C. The wire 2C used as a motion detecting switch 2 is constructed of an electrically conductive material with sufficient rigidity to maintain its non-contact with the switching pole (i.e. contact wall 2W1 or 2W2) until an impacting blow is struck. The illustration of FIG. 16 represents a 0.0007″ diameter fabricated beryllium copper wire 2C having a bronze one sixteenth inch ball 2B a the end. The weighted bronze ball 2B can be securely cinched or crimped onto the wire 2C tip by a conventional fastening machine. A beryllium copper wire 2C is particularly suitable for this use, if the wire 2C is intended to be directly soldered to the printed circuit board 3B.

Other methods and switching components may be suitable substituted for the mechanical pole part of the sensor switch 2. For example, in one embodiment shown in FIG. 17B, a flat tri-angular shaped end 27 is formed instead of a ball. In still another embodiment, shown in FIG. 17C, a flat upset end 28 replaces the ball. The only requirement is that upon mechanical impact of the playing piece 1 that the sensing switch 2 vibrate or oscillate in a fashion that causes mechanical contact from one contact side to another contact side as the shock or vibration of the impacting force applied to the system. With particular reference to the electronic circuitry of FIG. 9 and the switching member 2 depicted by FIG. 18, contact of the wired ball 2B against one walled side 2W1 will cause a charging of capacitors C1, C2, C3 & C4 while contact upon an opposite wall side 2W2 will discharge capacitors and cause LED's 5 to flash. A stainless steel extension spring crimped at one end of spring wire 2C may be alternatively used as a switching spring 2C instead of the weighted ball 2B.

As may be observed from the printed circuit (pc) material Pm depicted in FIG. 19, the printed circuit material Pm includes various holes and perforations (indicated by lines) which allow the material Pm to be shaped in various different shapes while also affording a base upon which to solder or create the desired printed circuitry for the completed printed circuit board 3B as depicted by FIG. 10. As may be further observed from FIG. 19, the printed circuit board material Pm includes 24 isosceles triangular pieces, each of which serves to provide a single printed circuit board 3B for a game piece 1.

FIG. 10 depicts both the top circuitry construction and the bottom circuitry construction of the printed circuit board 3B, all of which may be conducted simultaneously in sequence upon the printed circuit board material Pm before the completed individual printed circuit board 3B are separated from one another to provide the individual printed circuit board 3B depicted by FIGS. 10 and 21-22 equipped with the electronic circuitry 3 depicted by FIG. 10.

It is usually desirable to emplace board material Pm for making the component parts on a panel of printed circuit boards. FIG. 19 depicts a top view of a printed circuit board material Pm suitable for the printed circuit board 3B manufacture. In the manufacture or each printed circuit board 3B is provided with elongated contacting pads 2+ &2− B formed by creating a pair of slotted holes each measuring 0.37 by 0.12 inches. The slotted holes 2H are electroplated with a suitable conductive electroplate to provide a plate hole size for switch 2 measures 0.33 by 0.08 inches. The secondary routes are to remove the electroplating at the ends of the plated slotted hole 2H to create two separate pads 2W1 &2W2.

With particular reference to FIGS. 10-22, the following electrical components may be incorporated into the circuitry 3 of the depicted circuit board 3B.

FigureManu-
#QtyValuefacturerDescription
913 VMaxell3 Volt Lithium Coin
Cell Battery
C1, C2247 uF, 4 VRohmTantalum Chip
Capacitor - 3216
47 uF, 6.3 V(optional substitution)
68 uF, 4 V(optional substitution)
5A, 5B,3StanleyRight Angle Surface
5CMount LED
C3, C4247 uF, 4 VRohmTantalum Chip
Capacitor - 3216
47 uF, 6.3 V(optional substitution)
68 uF, 4 V(optional substitution)
5D, 5E,3StanleyRight Angle Surface
5FMount LED
R1, R20 Ohm0805 SMD Chip Resistors

As may be observed from FIGS. 15 and 16, switch 2 as fabricated in the printed circuit board 3B has no protectable housing on either the top side or bottom side of the printed circuit board 3B. This can result in a too restrictive movement of wire 2C if not properly housed. This problem can be corrected by providing or creating a dome shaped insert 7L on each side of the switching slot 2. Elliptical shaped plastic domes inserts 7L secured to the printed circuit board 3B margining onto the switching slot 2 or by thermally shaping elliptical domes for the switching slot 2 onto the foamed thermo plates insulating layers 7I1 &7I2 can provide a completed housing for switch 2.

The completed printed circuit board 3B, as depicted by FIGS. 10 and 20-21, lends itself to the ability to mass produce playing pieces 1 inexpensively while also maintaining exceptional quality control in the finished game piece 1 product. As mentioned, the printed circuit board 3B is sized and configured to be sandwiched within the playing piece body 7. With particular reference to the exploded elevational side view of FIG. 22, the circuit board 3B of FIG. 10 may sandwiched between two layers 7I2 of protective separator or insulation encased within enshrouding vinyl encasements or bodies 7B1 topped by an adhesive epoxy dome shaped decal 7L especially designed to depict a desired advertising or team logo. In the fabrication, the two foam separators 7I2 of the triangular shape mating onto the circuit board 3B are placed in an interfacing relationship and the two outer vinyl sheathing bodies 7B1 are glued or otherwise secured together to playing piece 1 as depicted by FIGS. 20-21. An advertisement or team logp may be placed upon the epoxy dome sticker area.

Alternatively, a football playing piece 1 including the circuit board 3B embodiments and dimensional size as depicted in FIGS. 9-21 may be prepared utilizing the clear PVC plastisol 37OCV15202 mentioned above to form an encasing body 7 for the triangular shaped circuit board 3B. In the manufacture, the circuit boards 3B are assembled onto the circuit board material Pm of FIG. 19 as indicated herein before and each of the assembled triangular shaped circuit boards 3B with required circuitry components as depicted by FIGS. 9-10 are separated from one another. Each of the separated circuit boards 3B are spray coated with a thin polyurethane coating (e.g. about 0.05″-0.06″ thick coating) which serves to provide a smooth coating surface without any appreciable surface indentions or imperfections. In addition, the foam coating serves to protect the circuit board circuitry 3 against thermal degradation during the playing piece 1 molding operation.

Splitable triangular shaped mold shells (e.g. two mating shells) equipped with a molten plastic injection port and a vacuum port of a size and configuration as depicted in FIGS. 20 and 21 may be effectively utilized to mold the halves of the playing piece 1. Each of the lens of the LEDs 5A, 5B, 5C, 5D, 5E, &5F, of the LED such as illustrated in FIG. 13, may be appropriately covered with a clear and/or removable coating material to protect against the LED 5 from damage during the molding operation. The body forming mold positionally orients the foam coated circuit board 3B so as to allow for a uniform coating or layer of the PVC plastisol about the foamed circuit board 3B. For decorative purposes, an epoxy dome sticker 7L, which may include the mark or logo of a favorite team (referred to as a flat sticker layer 7L), are internally placed on opposite side of the mold cavity. The two mating shells are closed and a vacuum applied to create an internal vacuum and draw the epoxy dome and the sticker layer 7L tightly onto inner cavity surfaces of the two shells. The sticker layer 7L may include the favorite team mark and logo. The sticker is constructed of material (such as thermoset or thermoplastic of a relatively high molting point) exhibiting a relatively low co-efficient of friction so as to allow for the playing piece to more freely slide upon the football playing surface. Since the sticker layer 7L will be exposed to the molten body forming conditions, the sticker layer 7L will generally possess (as the epoxy dome layer 7L) a melting or thermal decomposition temperature sufficiently high so as to withstand the molten molding conditions. Example sticker layers 7L may be obtained from Add Nice Industrial Co., Ltd., IF., No. 84, Lane 142, Sec. 6, Roosevelt Rd., Wenshan District, Taipei City 116, Taiwan.

The hot clear lure PVC plastisol is then injected into the mold cavity at a molten 225 degrees F. and allowed to cool sufficiently to solidify and form an appropriate playing piece body 1 encasing the circuit board 3B with the light emitting LEDs 5 firmly anchored thereto and open to emit the signaling light therefrom. The resultant playing piece 1 exhibits excellent aerodynamic balance and uniquely emits a signaling light when struck with an impacting blow.

The stickers 7L (referred to as an epoxy dome sticker) are fabricated from a 100% soft PVC film. In potential manufacturing technique of the playing piece 1, one of the sticker 7L will include the circuit board 3B embedded onto a foam layer 712 and the other a PVC film sticker layer 7 held in place along the outer triangular plane within the mold by applied vacuum. The sticker layers 7L retain the circuit board 3B in a suitable position for uniformly encasing the circuit board within the PVC plastisol body 7. The PVC plastisol is then injected into the mold and rapidly cooled to provide the desired playing piece 1 which may then be removed from the mold.

In an alternative molding process, the circuit board 3B may be centrally disposed within the molding cavity with the LEDs 5 being suitably covered with a removable covering to protect the LEDs 5 against molten PVC. The cavity is then injected molded with PVC, rapidly cooled, followed by removal of the molded playing piece 1 from the mold. The plastic sticker layers 7L with the desired team logo is then adhesively applied upon each of the flat triangular playing sides to provide a smooth playing surface for playing table top football.

The use of foamed separators 7I2 (e.g. foamed rubber, polyurethane, etc) in combination with the enshrouding polymeric sheath 7B1 serves to protect the printed circuit board 3B while also providing a somewhat springy, resilient body to enhance the playing efficacy upon manual contact of the game piece. This combination minimizes potential injury or pain while enhancing the impacting blow and propulsion of the impacting playing piece 1.

As may be further observed, the light emitting diodes 5 are positioned at the triangular corners of the playing piece 1. Any plastic material (thermoset or thermoplastic) may be effectively used to provide the encasing body 7 for the light emitting playing piece 1. The entire encasing body 7 need not be translucent or transparent for light emitting signaling units 5 but advantageously at least the cornering edges will possess sufficient transparency so as to allow for the transmittal of light therethrough.

The encasing body may be fabricated from a wide range of suitable materials. The more commonly available plastic material such as the ethylenically unsaturated olefins (e.g. such as ethylene and/or propylene polymers) rubbers (e.g. synthetic and natural), the vinyl halide and chloride polymers (e.g. PVC), styrene polymers and any other appropriate thermoplastic or thermoset material are illustrative materials for fabricating body 7.

FIGS. 24-33 depict a particular effective manner from making the playing piece body 7 for the football playing piece 1. The internal and external views of the body 7 as shown in FIGS. 24-26 and 29-32 includes generally a molded body 7 which comprises two injection molded body half sections 7A &7B of which the internal landscape or configuration of the main supportive half section body 7A is specifically configured to matingly house the operational circuit board 3B including the three LEDs 5A, 5B, &5C, sensing and switching unit 2 and battery 9 housed within cavity 7H as may be observed in FIGS. 26 and 28. Thus, the main molded body 7A includes a cavity 7H for housing the circuit board 3B as well as two position aligning and sealing pins 7S &7T which matingly align onto the positioning apertures 3S &3T of circuit board 3B.

Position aligning and sealing pins 7S &7T to align and maintain the circuit board 3B within the playing piece serves as a sealing site to heat seal the two split bodies 7A &7B together so as to protectively house the circuitry 3 within the protective body 7.

The main body half section 7A comprises a recessed cavity section 7H circumscribed or walled by main body half section walls 7M, 7N &70 within which the circuit board 3B is designed to nestle therewithin. Heat sealing pins 7S &7T serve to align onto alignment ports of circuit board 3B and properly position the circuit board within the cavity 7H. The cavity 7H of a triangular configuration with body half 7A may illustratively measures approximately 0.175 inch thick which is formed within the confines of body walls 7M, 7N, 70 of main body section 7A and mating body walls 7P, 7Q &7R of body half 7B. It will be further observed that the injection mold for main body cavity 7H includes a battery well 9W and contact switch wells 7HS which respectively serve to house battery 9 and sensory switches S1 & S2.

As may be further observed from FIGS. 23, 24, 26, 29 and 30, the depicted playing piece 1 incorporates a resilient or elastomeric bumper 7U which circumscribes the playing piece 1 outer peripheral margin. An outwardly extending molded perforated flange 7F measuring about 0.125 inch in width and 0.04 inch thick bisects the outer body walls 7M, 7N &7O of main body half section 7A. Perforated flange 7F serves as a supportive substrate upon which to embed and circumscribe the playing piece 1 with a thermoplastic (e.g. polyurethane) resilient bumper 7U which facilitates game play with the playing piece.

Before installing the electronic circuitry 3 onto main body half section 7A and heat sealing the mating body half section 7B thereto, the peripheral bumper 7U is advantageously injection molded onto the molded perforated flange 7F. As in the injection molding manufacture of body sections 7A &7B, an injection mold of a mold configuration suitable for molding peripheral bumper 7U may be effectively used to impregnate and mold a resilient plastic material bumper 7U such as a polyurethane having 32 Durometer reading thereto.

The internal portions of molded body section 7A includes cavities or wells for housing LEDs (5A, 5B, &5C), sensing switches 2 (S1 & S2), and battery 9. Thus, cavity portion 7H of molded body section 7B may be used to house and maintain the aforementioned components in proper alignment during the construction and subsequent use of the football playing piece 1.

The injection molded playing piece body section 7A includes a peripheral triangular walled section comprised of main body half section walls 7P, 7Q &7R which matingly fits inside the triangular shaped side rail walls 7M, 7N &7O of mating body half section 7B. The main body half section 7A also includes two alignment apertures or ports which mate onto the positioning and sealing pins 7S &7T of playing body section 3A. After the component parts of the internal circuitry 3 (namely the battery 9, battery activating strip 9T, and remaining electronic circuitry 3 components) have been appropriately positioned upon playing piece section 7A, the aligning ports 7K of playing piece section 7A may be aligned and inserted onto the aligning and sealing pins of mating half section 7B and then heat sealed together by heating sealing pins 7S &7T to a heat sealing temperature so as to fill heat sealing port wells 7Q with molten plastic and thereby heat seal body half sections 7A &7B together with the circuit board 3 being protectively housed therewithin.

Since the heat sealed body section 7A &7B with the internal motion sensing activating and signaling circuitry 3 will be susceptible to premature power drain while in transit and storage before its ultimate consumer usage, an electrically insulative tape 9T externally protruding from the playing piece 1 through an tape portal 7Z molded into body section 7B blocks the electrical contact circuitry of battery 9. Simply by pulling the insulative tape 9T outwardly and away from the blocking or insulative position, the circuitry 3 may then be activated for use when desired.

The molded body 7 comprised of the main body half section piece 7A and the mating body half section piece 7B have injection molded in a form adapted to accept the printed circuit board circuitry 3 including the battery 9, activating tape 9T and dual sensing switches S1 & S2 of the FIG. 9 circuit board assembly 3. As may be observed, the main body half section 7A includes two switching cavities 7HS which are designed to retain and house switch switches S1 & S2 for appropriate signaling contact when activated by motion. Battery well 9W and insulative tape port 7Z injection molded into internal confines of the main body half section 7A along with the circuit board alignment ports 7K, facilitate the ease by which the playing piece 1 may be manufactured.

A clear commercial grade of polystyrene may, in one embodiment, serve as an injected molded plastic material in the fabrication of molded body half sections 7A &7B while attractively printed plastic covers 7L may be glued or heat sealed or adhesively attached to the exterior of the body to display a favorite team logo or advertiser such as the stickers or dome layers 7L mentioned herein before. The plastic cover or label 7L may be affixed to a half section piece 7A &7B on a major surface or side of the half.

EXAMPLE

Injection molds for the main half body section 7A and the mating half section body 7B were fabricated in accordance with the dimensional specifications set forth in FIGS. 34-36. The molded main body half section 7A was specifically designed to compartmentalize the internal confines of cavity 7H into compartments for housing the circuit board 3 including the closure aligning ports 7K and confining triangular walls 7M, 7N &7O and within which the circuit board 3 is snuggly restrained within the confines of the main body half section 7A. The molded main body 7A also includes a battery activating pull tab port 7Z and a battery well 9W for retaining battery 9. As mentioned hereinbefore, the main body half section 7A is appropriately equipped with two activated (electroplated) switching spring retaining housings 2W1 &2W2 which serve to restrict the directional movement and switching contact for switching springs S1 & S2.

In the manufacture of the molded body half sections 7A &7B, an injection moldable clear grade of polystyrene may be heated to a molten mass and injected molded into the main body half section mold and the mating body half section mold. The resultant cooled and solidified main body half section 7A and mating body half section 7B pieces may then be removed from the molds. An elastic peripheral bumper 7U may be molded onto the main body section flange 7F which corresponds to the periphery of the body. In one embodiment, the bumper 7U is fabricated from a clear plastisol having a volume of 0.2214, a specific gravity of 0.98 and weight of about 0.00784 pounds.

The prefabricated circuit board 3, battery 9 with battery activating tape 9T may then appropriately placed within the main body half section 7A followed by inserting the mating body half section aligning pegs or pins 7S &7T onto the main body half section aligning ports 7X. With the mating body half section 7B resting firmly onto the main body half section 7A, the projecting aligning pegs 7S &7T may be then subjected to a localized heating source to melt the projecting pegs or pins 7S &7T so as to uniformly fill the external cavities of the heat sealing port wells 7Q so as to provide a finished smooth surface.

The clear molded polystyrene body 7 provides a clear see through vision of the LEDs, the capacitors, battery 9 and activating battery tape 9T. If desired, a decorative sticker may be applied to the external surfaces of the main body half section 7A and the mating body half section 7B.

A game piece is equipped for signaling an impacting blow against the game piece. The game piece includes a body sized for manually impacting the body with a human finger, an electronic impact sensing unit for generating an electronic signal in response to an impacting blow struck against the body, a relay for relaying the electronic signal, and a signaling unit which produces a second signal in response to receipt of the electronic signal from the relay. In one embodiment, the signaling unit includes a light emitting diode. In another embodiment, the signaling unit includes a chip for making sound. One embodiment of the game piece includes a printed circuit board having the relay, the impact sensing unit, and a power source communicatively coupled to said sensing unit and the signaling unit. The game piece has a center of gravity that substantially corresponds to the center of the game piece. In one embodiment, the body further includes a first half and a second half. In still another embodiment, game piece includes a printed circuit board. The printed circuit board includes or carries the electronic impact sensing unit, the relay for relaying the electronic signal, and the signaling unit. In one embodiment, the printed circuit board is sandwiched between the first half and the second half. In still another embodiment, a bumper is formed about the periphery of the game piece.

A game piece includes a substantially triangularly-shaped housing, an impact detection apparatus which generates a signal in response to an impacting blow to the housing, and a signaling apparatus which produces an audio or visual signal in response to the signal produced by the impact detection apparatus. One such signaling apparatus includes a 3 light or 6 light LED IC Controller, with CDS controller available from Bowin Electronics of Hong Kong as part no. CDT-3269.doc. In one embodiment, the game piece includes at least one light emitting diode. The signaling apparatus produces signals that light the light emitting diode. In one embodiment, the signaling apparatus produces random signals that light the light emitting diode. The game piece also includes a battery carried within the housing and communicatively coupled the at least one light emitting diode, the impact detection apparatus and the signaling apparatus. In yet another embodiment, the game piece includes a bumper positioned at the periphery of the game piece. The game piece has a weight in the range of 0.50 ounces to 6 ounces. In another embodiment, the weight range may be 1 ounce to 4 ounces. The game piece also has a first major surface, a second major surface, and a label sized to substantially cover one of the first major surface and the second major surface. In still another embodiment, game piece includes at least one sound emitting device. The sound emitting device produces audible signals in response to a signal from the impact sensing apparatus.

FIG. 36 shows a kit 3500, according to an embodiment of the invention. A shown in FIG. 36, the kit 3500 includes a first triangular game piece 3501, a set of stickers or labels 3520 sized to fit within the bounds of the triangular game piece, and an instruction set 3530 for playing a game with the first triangular game piece. In one embodiment, the kit 3500 includes a second game piece 3502. The instruction set 3530 includes instructions for playing a game with a first game piece 3501 and a second game piece 3502. In still another embodiment, the kit also includes a goal 3540.

FIG. 35 shows still another embodiment of the game piece 3610. The game piece 1 is formed without electronics or a motion detection switch. Any of the above molding processes described herein can be used to form such a game piece. In still another embodiment, a game piece may be formed from expanding polystyrene or from general purpose polystyrene. The game piece shown in FIG. 35 includes a bumper 3620. The bumper 3620 may be left off in still another embodiment.

The foregoing description of the specific embodiments reveals the general nature of the invention sufficiently that others can, by applying current knowledge, readily modify and/or adapt it for various applications without departing from the generic concept, and therefore such adaptations and modifications are intended to be comprehended within the meaning and range of equivalents of the disclosed embodiments.

It is to be understood that the phraseology or terminology employed herein is for the purpose of description and not of limitation. Accordingly, the invention is intended to embrace all such alternatives, modifications, equivalents and variations as fall within the spirit and broad scope of the appended claims.





 
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