Title:
Ball feeding device
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A ball feeding device is disclosed that includes a trigger and feeder disposed at least partially inside a housing. The trigger may be actuated by simulating the athletic motion required to propel an athletic projectile such as a baseball, tennis ball or hockey puck by striking a wand or disrupting a beam. The feeder is actuated by the trigger to introduce an athletic projectile into a propelling device. A control member assists in reducing premature or multiple projection of projectiles for each trigger activation.



Inventors:
Delso, Donald L. (Broken Arrow, OK, US)
Application Number:
09/816183
Publication Date:
09/26/2002
Filing Date:
03/23/2001
Assignee:
DELSO DONALD L.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
124/78
International Classes:
F41B4/00; (IPC1-7): F41B4/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
RICCI, JOHN A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Christopher R. Benson (Houston, TX, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A device for feeding an athletic projectile into a propelling device comprising: a) a tube; b) a trigger disposed near the tube adapted to be actuated by simulating the motion used to propel the projectile; c) a feeder disposed adjacent the propelling device and actuated by the trigger; d) a control actuated by the feeder to limit the number of projectiles that are introduced into the propelling device.

2. A method for feeding athletic projectiles into a propelling device comprising the steps of: a) loading a projectile into feeder; b) simulating a motion for propelling an athletic projectile; c) tripping a trigger by the simulated motion; d) activating a control member to allow a projectile into the propelling device and to prevent any other projectile from entering the propelling device; and e) projecting the projectile.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The invention relates to a device for feeding baseballs, footballs, tennis balls or other “athletic projectiles” into a propelling device. The invention also relates to a device that may be triggered by simulating the normal motion for propelling (throwing, hitting, striking,) an athletic projectile without actually throwing, hitting or striking the projectile.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] There are several devices that exist for projecting baseballs, softballs, tennis balls, footballs or other “athletic projectiles”. The athletic projectiles are propelled by various means including but not limited to mechanical arms, rotating wheels and air pressure. Examples of these devices include machines from Juggs and Atec.

[0003] There are also several means of feeding the “athletic projectiles” into the propelling devices. For instance, the athletic projectile may be fed by hand, magazine, or tube. The feeding device may be triggered manually, electronically, or by other well known triggering means.

[0004] Problems exist with various feeding devices. For instance, premature or unintended release of the projectile into the propelling device not only wastes time, but can be dangerous. Many feeding devices do not easily allow for the simulation of the throwing or hitting motion to coincide with the release and projection of the ball. Thus, a need exists to provide realistic training where one person can trigger the projection of the ball using a simulated throwing or hitting motion without premature or multiple releases of the projectile.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0005] For an extended period, Applicant has been experimenting with various designs that allow for simulated throwing actuation without premature or multiple release. Applicant's earlier designs had occasional premature and multiple releases of the projectile. Although premature and multiple releases may not be eliminated, the present inventive system significantly reduces the potential for premature and multiple releases

[0006] The invention provides a device for feeding athletic projectiles into a propelling device that may be triggered by simulating the natural throwing, hitting or striking motion of an athlete that reduces the fatigue and increases accuracy. For instance, the invention may be triggered by the hand of a pitcher as he reaches the release point in his pitching motion without ever throwing the ball. Instead, the pitcher hits the wand or breaks an electronic beam.

[0007] The preferred inventive feeding device includes a housing, a trigger preferably disposed, at least partially, inside the housing, and a feeder that is also preferably disposed at least partially inside the housing.

[0008] The trigger actuates the feeder. The trigger is adapted to be activated by the natural motion of a pitcher, tennis player, hockey player or other athlete in propelling an athletic projectile. The trigger may use manual, electrical, electronic, pneumatic, hydraulic or other actuation apparatus to trigger the feeding device.

[0009] The feeder is preferably disposed below and partially inside the housing. It is used to place and control the placement of the athletic projectile into the propelling device. The feeder also limits the number of projectiles that can be projected by the propelling device per triggering cycle of the device. This limitation helps prevent unexpected and potentially dangerous projection of more than one projectile per simulated movement or activation.

[0010] The invention is helpful in reducing physical stress on baseball coaches, tennis teaching professionals and other athletic instructors who are called upon to repetitively throw or hit balls. As a result, the invention is also helpful in preparing an athlete for games or matches because the propelling device is triggered by simulating the actual athletic motion and can consistently deliver the projectile under game-like conditions. The accuracy and consistency of the speed and positioning of the projectile is improved because the projectile is propelled from a machine and not a tiring coach or other athletic professional.

[0011] This section is intended to discuss some of the problems associated with presently available athletic projectile feeding devices and how the present invention solves those problems. It is not meant to be exhaustive of the problems or solutions. Instead it is intended to show that there is a need for improvement.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0012] FIG. 1 is an environmental side view of the preferred feeding device in the post release position.

[0013] FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional side view of the preferred feeding device in the pre release position.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0014] A preferred feeding device 2 is shown in FIG. 1. The device 2 includes a housing 10, a feeder 20 that is actuated by the trigger 30 both of which are at least partially disposed in the housing 10.

[0015] The preferred housing 10 includes a tube 11 that flows from a substantially vertical section 12 into a substantially horizontal section 13. The preferred housing also includes a support wedge 14, a guide 16, a control block 18 and a slot 19. The tube 11 holds the projectiles to be propelled.

[0016] The preferred feeder 20 includes a rod 22, a spring housing 24 disposed on the rod 22, a spring 26 disposed between the housing 24 and the guide 16 and an end washer 28.

[0017] The preferred trigger 30 includes a post 32, a cross pin 34, a wand 36 disposed at the top of the post 32, a ramp 38 disposed on top of the housing10 and a retainer system 39 disposed on the post 32 below the wedge14. The post 32 is disposed through the wedge 14 and is adapted to engage spring housing 24. The pin 34 is connected to the post 32 below the wand 36 and is adapted to ride up the ramp 38 when the post 32 is turned. The end of the post 32 and the retainer system 39 are adapted to engage the spring housing 24 to hold the feeder 10 in the pre-release position.

[0018] The preferred control 50 is disposed in the housing slot 19 under the tube 11. The control 50 is pivotally connected to the housing block 18, is connected to the feeder rod 22 by an extension 40 and is bias connected to the horizontal end 13 of the tube 11 by the retainer 42.

[0019] The control 50 preferably includes two wheels 52, a ball stop 54 and a safety 56. The wheels 52 reduce the potential for misfiring and multiple misfiring when the control 50 is in the released position shown in FIG. 1. The wheels 52 prevent the other balls from reaching the pre-firing position 5.

[0020] The ball stop 54 reduces the potential for misfiring and multiple misfiring when the control 50 is in the prerelease—“ready to fire”—position shown in FIG. 2. The use of stop 54 (whether part of or added to the control 50) limits one ball to the pre-filing position 5. The preferred stop may be adjusted depending on the projectile size.

[0021] The length and shape of the control 50 may also assist in limiting one ball to be in the prerelease position 5. For Instance, the length and shape can be limited to an area equal to between the diameter of 1 ball to less than the diameter of 2 balls. That arrangement would help prevent multiple firings.

[0022] The safety 56 assists in preventing both misfiring and multiple misfiring should the stop 54 fail.

[0023] The preferred propelling device 60 is a motor driven device that uses two wheels 62 and 64 to propel baseballs, tennis balls and other like athletic projectiles. A Juggs™ machine is an example of the preferred propelling device 60. Other propelling devices 60 such as a pneumatic tennis ball machines and the like may also be used.

[0024] The preferred device 2 is mechanical. However the feeder 20, trigger 30 and control 50 may include different mechanical or additional electrical, electronic or hydraulic components or a combination of such components to accomplish the intended function of the device 2 without deviating from the invention

[0025] The preferred inventive feeding device 10 operates as follows. Balls are loaded into the tube 11. The device 2 is then placed into the pre release position where the control 50 is horizontal.

[0026] The trigger 30 is then actuated. Preferably the trigger 30 is actuated by a pitcher simulating a throw where his hand hits the wand 36 at the typical pitching release point. The wand 36 rotates the rod 32 so that the pin 34 rides up the ramp 38 which releases the spring 26. Releasing the spring 26 causes the control 50 to pivot. As the control 50 pivots the first ball is pushed into or allowed to roll into the propelling machine 60 and the second ball is held on the wheels 52 which prevents the second ball from releasing.

[0027] Next, the device is placed back into the firing position. Preferably, the rod 22 is pushed in using the washer 28 so that the trigger post 32 re-engages the spring housing 24. The second ball then rolls into the pre-release position and is prevented from rolling into the propelling device 60 by the stop 54 and possibly the safety 56 if the stop 54 fails.

[0028] The description of the preferred embodiment is intended to show the inventor's preferred method of making and practicing his invention. It is not intended to show every potential variation of the invention.