Title:
Dual cable zipline having mechanical ascension and braking systems
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
This invention is a high speed dual cable zip line ride whereby the participant(s) ascends by a mechanical motor drive system and descend using a combination of mechanical and gravitational forces. The participant(s) will be secured in either a harnessed or a seated tram configuration. The control of the deceleration and stopping of the ride will be performed by one of four mechanical configurations depending on the dimension of the ride (i.e. Length and height of the ride). These configurations will be an air shock system, a nitrogen shock system, a hydraulic disc braking system, or a magnetic disc braking system. In all embodiments of the ride appropriate platforms and procedures for safely embarking and disembarking will be utilized.



Inventors:
Palumbo, Emiliano (Sacramento, CA, US)
Application Number:
10/090674
Publication Date:
11/07/2002
Filing Date:
03/04/2002
Assignee:
PALUMBO EMILIANO
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B61B7/00; (IPC1-7): B61B15/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
JULES, FRANTZ F
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Emiliano Palumbo (Sacramento, CA, US)
Claims:

I claim:



1. A dual tram cable zipline ride having a mechanical means of ascension and braking comprising of: an upper and lower cable termination, where by said lower cable termination is lower than said upper cable termination; two cables rigged side by side between the said upper and lower cable terminations such that the lowest point in the unloaded cables is higher than the said lower cable termination but lower than the said upper cable termination; multiple wheeled pulley mounted on said cable for movement there along; passenger tram that supports at least one person connected to said Multiple wheeled pulley such that said tram can rotate freely on a fixed point; access means located near said lower cable termination for permitting entry of said at least one passenger for commencement of said ride; ascension of said tram via a motor driven cable to said upper cable termination; disembarking means located at said access means

2. A dual tram cable zipline ride having a mechanical means of ascension and braking comprising of: an upper and lower cable termination, where by said lower cable termination is lower than said upper cable termination; two cables rigged side by side between the said upper and lower cable terminations such that the lowest point in the unloaded cables is higher than the said lover cable termination but lower than the said upper cable termination; multiple wheeled pulley mounted on said cable for movement there along; passenger tram that supports at least one person connected to said Multiple wheeled pulley such that said tram can rotate freely on a fixed point; access means located near said upper cable termination for permitting entry of said at least one passenger for commencement of said ride; ascension of said tram via a motor driven cable to said upper cable termination; disembarking means located at said access means

3. The dual tram cable zipline ride having a mechanical means of ascension and braking of claim 1 wherein the braking system uses a nitrogen/air automotive shock to provide the braking power.

4. The dual tram cable zipline ride having a mechanical means of ascension and braking of claim 1 wherein the braking system uses automotive nitrogen charged disk brake to provide the braking power.

5. The dual tram cable zipline ride having a mechanical means of ascension and braking of claim 1 wherein the braking system uses a magnetic disk brake to provide the braking power.

6. The dual tram cable zipline ride having a mechanical means of ascension and braking of claim 1 wherein the braking system uses an impact brake block to interface with the said passenger tram to slow it down

7. The dual tram cable zipline ride having a mechanical means of ascension and braking of claim 1 wherein the braking system can be used to provide fall protection for maintenance workers.

8. The dual tram cable zipline ride having a mechanical means of ascension and braking of claim 1 wherein a motor drive may be computer controlled to launch the participants down the said tram cables.

9. The dual tram cable zipline ride having a mechanical means of ascension and braking of claim 1 wherein the said dual tram cables are at least ⅜″ in diameter.

10. The dual tram cable zipline ride having a mechanical means of ascension and braking of claim 1 wherein both said cable terminations are portable.

11. The dual tram cable zipline ride having a mechanical means of ascension and braking of claim 1 wherein both said cable terminations are connected to existing structures. The dual tram cable zipline ride having a mechanical means of ascension and braking of claim 1 wherein the passenger tram means includes a securing harness means.

Description:

BACKGROUND—DESCRIPTION OF PRIOR ART

[0001] For over a century zip lines have been used in a variety of venues, from military physical training to therapeutic, scholastic and recreational settings. Within the last 30 years, the prevelance and use of ziplines has greatly proliferated due, in large extend, to the growth and popularity of challenge/ropes courses in which a zipline is often a key element.

[0002] The first known reference to a “zip line” occurs in the 1850s. (Origins of th e Challenge Course, Project Adventure, 2002, web reference.) George Herbert, a captain in the French military, developed the first documented obstacle course as a part of the physical training of recruits. A zip line was part of this obstacle course. It consisted of a rope suspended between two points of differing elevation whereby the participant descended by means of a steel ring sliding over said rope. The participant was stopped by means of a knot at the end of the rope, at which point the participant let go of the steel ring.

[0003] Since this time, ziplines in a variety of configurations have been a mainstay in military physical training programs worldwide. More recently, around 1968, the concept and use of the zip line moved from the strictly military venue to the public arenas of therapeutic, recreational, and scholastic usages.

[0004] Specifically, Karl Rohnke in 1968 installed a zip line for the North Carolina Outward Bound Program/School, as a part of their commercial recreation program. (See enclosed prior art, #1)

[0005] From this point onward there has been a proliferation of the installation and utilization of the zip line in a variety of recreational venues. Notably, in 1972, Adrian Kissler and the company Project Adventure built a recreational facility with a zip line in Rota, Spain. (See prior art #2.) Thereafter, ziplines have been a mainstay of challenge/ropes courses and their attendant programs worldwide.

[0006] Since 1968, ziplines utilized in challenge/ropes course facilities have typicallly consisted of a steel cable, of at least ⅜″ diameter, rigged between two points of differing elevation with a single-wheel pulley attached to the cable. Initially, for ascend and descend, the participant hung by a lanyard attached to the pulley. Later, this method of attachment, was replaced by the participant being secured in some type of harness being suspended from the pulley. In both cases the particpant climbed to a disembarkation point, and, after “zipping” down the cable, was manually removed at the terminus of the system.

[0007] In the earliest years of zipline development the most common used system for the braking and stopping of the participant was the tire “impact” style system. In this system, upon termination of the descend the pulley would impact into four or five tires rigged into the terminus of the cable. (See prior art #3).

[0008] Later, braking was accomplished by a group of people who would utilize either a cargo net or a rope to “catch” the descending participant as he/she ran into either the net or the rope.

[0009] Later still, an “impact brake block” braking system was developed and is still in use today. This consists of a “brake block” (made from two pieces of 2×4 wood or other material) bolted around the cable so that it slides freely along said cable. Attached to the brake block are one or two ½″ bungee cords that in turn are attached to a terminus point. At the end of the descent the pulley impacts the block engaging the bungee cord(s), which stretch and slow down and eventually stop the participant. (See prior art #4).

[0010] Along with the development of the impact brake block braking system, the “gravity brake system” was devised and also is still in use today. In this system, “ . . . using gravity as the impetus, the rider zips to the bottom of the cables arch (the belly), and then begins the slowing process as he/she continues rolling up the sloping cable until gravity and friction exert enough drag to slow the rider to a stop.” (Rohnke, Karl Cow's Tails and Cobras II, p. 121, 1989, Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co. see prior art #5)

[0011] One further braking device has also been used, although rarely. The braking in this system is accomplished by means of friction applied directly to the zip cable by the participant via a hand brake device. The hand brake may consist of anything from the use of heavy-duty gloves worn by the participant, to the putting of a stick or wood shims into the pulley itself, or by the use of a compression plate.

[0012] In 1984 the Association of Challenge Course Technologies (ACCT) became the sanctioning body for the challenge/ropes course industry, and as such it has standardized the construction, design and installation of challenge/ropes course elements, one of which, is the zipline, with either the gravity brake or impact brake block system. Since this standardization of zipline design and installation by the ACCT, very little modification or improvement of the basic design or construction has occurred with the exception that there has been a growing preference for the use of the gravity brake system over the impact brake block system. This is mainly due to the simplicity, ease of construction/installation, and use of the gravity brake system. (See further enclosed prior art not previously directly referenced.

[0013] With respect to the previously mentioned braking systems utilized on ziplines other than those proposed for this invention, there are many liabilities and disadvantages associated with them.

[0014] Starting with the tire impact braking method, it has been found that it is impractical and dangerous due to the abrupt and unpredictable nature of the force of impact necessary to effect stopping. This drawback therefore severely restricts its use for high-speed, long distance ziplines.

[0015] The method whereby groups of people stop the descending participant by the use of rope or cargo net is, needless to say, unreliable, dangerous and restricted in use.

[0016] The impact brake block system utilizing bungee cords has two main disadvantage as presently utilized. First, the bungee cords attached to the brake block inevitably wear quickly due to stress, UV damage, and fatigue at the knots. This wear makes it necessary to frequently replace the bungee(s). Second, the impact of the pulley into the impact block eventually causes damage and wear to both, and consequently, necessitates their eventual replacement. Both these disadvantages render the impact block braking system difficult to maintain and operate.

[0017] The gravity brake system, although easy to use has the major disadvantage of excessive cable wear which in turn affects maintenance, and safety. This cable wear is created by the very nature of the drape in the cable system. At the top of the descent there is a shock load on the cable caused by the participant, thereby creating an undesirable angle at the point where the pulley contacts the cable. This process is reversed as the participant is slowed and eventually stopped at the terminus of the descent. These undesirable angles created in the cable at the contact point of the pulley are 90 degrees or more. At these angles, according to state and federal elevator and rigging safety codes that hereto pertain, a pulley diameter theoretically should be thirty-six times or more the diameter of the cable being used. This would by extension necessitate the use of pulleys a minimum of 13½″ for ⅜″ cable. This in itself is extremely impractical due to cost and other problems created by the excessively large mass of the pulley. Hence the uses of conventional two to three inch zip pulleys. But, according to ACCT standards, the use of these smaller size pulleys in these applications only allows for a maximum of 5,000 cycles of use, during which time the cable must be constantly inspected and after any visiable damage must be replaced. This is not only an inconvenient process but expensive as well.

[0018] Last, the braking system utilizing direct pressure on the cable by the participant, as described above, has proved to be an ineffective, dangerous, and costly method of braking. This is due to the fact that the actual pressure applied by the participant to the cable by any means is unpredictable, inconsistent, and unreliable. Consequently: (1) the actual contact on the cable that creates the pressure to brake in turn actuallly causes cable deformation and damage which therefore necessitates frequent inspection and replacement, and (2) the unpredictable, inconsistent, and unreliable nature of the applied pressure can lead to partial or complete failure in the braking itself.

[0019] (It should be noted that in all preexisting zipline systems the participant physicallly initiates his/her descent themselves.)

OBJECTS AND ADVANTAGES

[0020] Accordingly, besides the objects and advantages of the freefall simulator with a braking system described in this patent, several objects and advantages of the present invention are:

[0021] (a) to provide a zipline that loads the participants from the base (low point)of the system and raises them to the top of the system via an integrated mechanical motor drive:

[0022] (b) to provide a zipline that uses a dual cable system to increase safety, minimize load and increase cable lifespan;

[0023] (c) to provide a zipline that provides a smooth reliable and redundant mechanical decelerating/braking system;

[0024] (d) to provide a zipline whose braking system is automatic and not reliant on participant interaction or gravity;

[0025] (e) to provide a zipline braking system whos component parts are designed for long term, low maintenance use;

[0026] (f) provide a zipline that accommodates the various weights of multiple participants on a single installation;

[0027] (g) to provide a zipline that uses mechanical and gravitational means to descend the cable;

[0028] (h) to provide a zipline whose tram is connected to the tram cables via four, dual-wheeled tram pulleys;

[0029] (i) to provide a zipline that automatically starts the tram on it's descent down the cables via an automatic release system;

[0030] (j) to provide a zipline whose operation can be controlled by a single operator;

[0031] (k) to provide a zipline that can be installed in both permanent and mobile applications;

[0032] (l) to provide the flexibility to vary the length of a zipline to suit the particular need of the location.

[0033] Further object and advantaged of my invention will become apparent from a consideration of the drawings and ensuing description.

SUMMARY

[0034] In accordance with the present invention, a high speed, dual cable zipline ride is provided whereby participant(s) ascend dual tram cables by a mechanical motor drive and descend the tram cables using a combination of mechanical and gravitational forces. Prior to assent and descent, the participant(s) are secured in either a harnessed or a seated tram configuration from a sliding raised platform. Once secured in the tram the raised platform is lowered, swung, or slid out of the way. The control of the deceleration and stopping of the ride will be performed by one of four mechanical configurations depending on the dimension of the ride (i.e. length and height of the ride). These different configurations may be: an air shock system, a nitrogen shock system, a hydraulic disc braking system, or a magnetic disc braking system.

DRAWINGS

[0035] Drawing Figures

[0036] The foregoing and other objects and features of the present invention will become more fully apparent from the following description and appended claims, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings. Understanding that these drawings depict only typical embodiments of the invention and are, therefore, not to be considered limiting of its scope, the invention will be described with additional specificity and detail through use of the accompanying drawings.

[0037] (Note, in the drawings, closely related figures have the same number but different alphabetic suffixes.)

[0038] FIG. 1 shows a perspective of a dual tram cable zipline with a braking system apparatus in accordance with the invention

[0039] FIG. 2 shows a close up perspective of a participant seat, tram housing and drive interface.

[0040] FIGS. 3 to 3a shows a side view of the tram when it is connected to the drive interface and releasing from the drive interface.

[0041] FIG. 4 shows a close up perspective of a motor drive system, axel bull-wheel assembly, and maintenance brake.

[0042] FIG. 5 shows a perspective of a termination of tram cables, drive cables and release block on a taller pole.

[0043] FIG. 6 shows a perspective of a termination of tram cables, drive cables on a shorter pole.

[0044] FIG. 7 shows a close up perspective of a braking tower system with a nitrogen/air based braking system.

[0045] FIGS. 8 to 8a shows a close up perspective of the nitrogen system at rest and under load.

[0046] FIG. 9 shows a close up perspective of a hydraulic disk brake system at rest and under load.

[0047] FIG. 10. shows a close up perspective of a magnetic disk brake system at rest and under load.

[0048] FIGS. 11 to 11a shows top and side views of one embodiment of an entire zipline system.

[0049] FIGS. 12 to 12a shows a perspective and side view of a path of travel for the participant(s) and the braking system at full extension.

[0050] FIG. 13 shows a close up perspective of a loading/unloading system and the braking towers.

[0051] FIGS. 14 to 14a shows a top view of a sliding platform moving into position after the participants have been stopped. 1

Reference Numerals In Drawings
2LQloading ramp
4LQ4tracks for sliding platform
6LQ6sliding platform
8LQ8wheels for the sliding platform
10LQpneumatic cylinders that move the sliding platform
12TSparticipant seats
14TSstructural members for the seats
16TTbolted connection of the seats and a tram housing
18TTcapture bar
20TR3-wheeled pulley configuration for the release system
22TR2-wheeled pulley assembly for the tram (1 of 4)
23TTtram housing
24TTthrough-bolt that connects TT22 to the housing (TT23)
26TTbreaking pad
28SCTtram cable (1 of 2) (Structural cable, tram)
30SCDdrive cable (Structural cable, drive)
32TRdrive interface
34TRrelease pad
36TRsprings that reset TR34
38TRcable and pulley system that translated the horizontal
movement of TR34 to vertical movement
38TRinterface Hook
40DMdrive motor
42DMspring loaded magnetic release brake for the motor (DM40)
44DMdual pulley on the motor
46DMtwo V-belts that drive the Bull Wheel (DM50)
48DWlarger Cog that is driven directly by the motor via DM46
50DWbull wheel that drives the drive cable via 1.5 half-wraps of
cable
52DAdrive axel that transfers power from DW48 to DM50
54DApillow blocks that support the axel (1 of 3)
56DAdisc brake rotor
58DBdual-cylinder calipers
60DBhydraulic line
62DBhydraulic piston
64DBhand lever that actuates DB62
66DAstructural supports for the pillow blocks, drive axel, and
bull wheel
68DMfooting for the drive motor
70SPLlow termination pole
74STstrand vise
76SThorizontal cross member to which the tram cables are
connected and supported
78SPLPupper pulley from where the drive cable travels all the way
to the high pole pulley (SPHP84)
80SPLPlower pulley to which the drive cable runs directly to the
release mechanism
82SPHhigh termination pole
84SPHPhigh pulley for the drive cable
86TRrelease block that releases the tram upon impact
88BTmain braking system tower
90BT45-degree supports for BT88
92BTRrotating pulleys
94BTCbraking tower cables which connect Impact brake block
(BT196) to the deceleration unit
96BTIimpact brake block
98BTFPfixed pulleys at the base of the main brake towers (BT88)
100BTTpressure pulleys which prevents slack from developing
in the system
102BMHdual cylinder caliper, racing-style hydraulic brake
104BMHbrake line
106BMHnitrogen-charged hydraulic pack
108BMHdisc rotor
110BMHsupport for the nitrogen charged pack (BMH 106)
112BMHsupport for the caliper (BMH 102)
114BMpositioning motor
116BMdual cog
118BMv-belts
120BMfooting
122BMpillow block
123BMaxel
124BMgrooved cable drum
126BMCopper disk rotor
128BMMcrescent shaped magnets (NdFeB) Neodymium Iron Boron
130BMMbase support for the magnets
132BMMstructural housing for the magnets with a preset gap
134BMNfooting for the nitrogen brake
136BMNmain structural member for the sliding mechanism
138BMNdelrine rail that is used to track the pulleys in a straight line
140BMNpulley housing, which moves upon loading of the cable
142BMNdual nitrogen-based or air-bag-based automotive shocks
144BMNintermediate connection between sets of shocks (BMN142),
it too slides and tracks along the delrine rail (BMN138)
146BMNcable termination where the cable is connected to the brake
housing (BMN150)
150BMNnon-sliding pulley housing form which the cable travel out
to the pressure pulleys and the fixed pulley

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0052] It should be readily understood that the components of the present invention, as generally described and illustrated in the figures herein, could be arranged and designed in a wide variety of different configurations. Thus, the following more detailed description of the embodiment of the system and method of the present invention, as represented in FIGS. 1 through 13, is not intended to limit the scope of the invention. The scope of the invention is as broad as claimed herein. The illustrations are merely representative of certain, presently preferred embodiments of the invention and will be best understood by reference to the drawings, wherein like parts are designated by like numerals throughout.

[0053] Those of ordinary skill in the art will, of course, appreciate that various modifications to the details of the Figures may easily be made without departing from the essential characteristics of the invention. Thus, the following descriptions of the figures is intended only as examples, and simply illustrate certain presently preferred embodiments consistent with the invention as claimed.

[0054] Referring to FIG. 1, FIGS. 11 to 11a, thes are mulitiple views of the entire zipline system. A single cable system, or a dual cable system, or a tram cable 28SCT maybe used to support a participant in a seat, or a tram seat 12TS. The cables 28SCT are to be at least ⅜″ inch in diameter and may be both anti rotation and pre-construction stretched. The cables 28SCT may be supported by any suitable means such as existing structures, trees, towers or low pole 70SPL and high pole 82SPH. In one presently preferred embodiment the low pole 70SPL must be shorter than the high pole 82SPH such that the tram cables are traveling down hill towards the low pole. Due to forces of nature as well as practical safety concerns, cable sag will be evident in the tram cables. The sag is to be no less than 5% of the total length of the cable. For optimum performance, the sag should be no more than 12% the total length of the cable. This provides a constant down ward motion for the tram seat 12TS.

[0055] Participants gain access to the zipline via the loading platform, cue or ramp 2QL. In one presently preferred embodiment the ramp 2QL may be designed such that it is in compliance with the federal disabilities act. Due to the fact the tram seats 12TS move with speed over the loading dock, swing platform, or sliding platform 6LQ, the sliding platform 6LQ slides along rails 4LQ to move out of the way. Using wheels 8LQ and pneumatic cylinders 10LQ the platform can move out of the way of the tram seats 12TS leaving ample room for clearance.

[0056] Referring to FIGS. 2 through 3a, a perspective of the tram seat 12TS, tram housing 23TT, and release pad 34TR, drive interface 32TR may be used to connect the tram release apparatus to the drive cable 30SCD. The tram release apparatus is connected to a tram housing 23TT via a hook 39TR. Said hook 39TR may be made out of any material that will be long lasting and not damaging to the capture bar 18TT. The hook 39TR is activated by the release pad 34TR and a connection cable and pulley 38TR. When the release pad 34TR makes contact with a release block 86TR (FIG. 1 and FIG. 3a), the force generated by drive cable 30SCD compresses the release pad 34 TR which pulls the connection cable 38TR which lifts the release hook 39TR off the capture bar 18TT as shown in FIG. 3a. As the drive cable 30SCD returns the tram release apparatus to the loading area, a spring 36TR returns the release pad to the extended position that prepares the hook to interface with the tram housing 23TT.

[0057] In one presently preferred embodiment the participants are seated in seats 12TS secured by any current ordinary restraint system available, such as a 5 point racing harness or an over the shoulder, roller coaster-style restraint. The seats 12TS are supported by structural member 14TS. Structural member 14TS has two independent points to connect to the tram housing 18TT via bolts 16TT. To provide further safety, additional fail safe connection points could be added as long as the seat 12TS is able to swing freely on the bolts 16TT to adjust to the changing angles of the cable as the ride is in motion. To further compensate for these changing angles a dual wheel pulley assembly, or pulley 22TT, is connected to the tram housing 23TT via a through bolt 24TT which allows the pulleys 22TT to rotate independently of one another.

[0058] Referring now to the motor drive system in FIG. 4, in one presently preferred embodiment a 3 phase electric motor 40DM may be used to power the drive cable 30SCD. The motor 40DM may use a magnetic disk brake 42DM that turns on when the power is off. The motor 40DM is controlled by an inverter dive (common and not shown) that allows the user to start/stop forward/reverse the motor via a control box (common and not shown). In other presently preferred embodiments it may be prudent to add computers, PLCs, limit switches or other control devices to automate the zipline and increase safety. Power from the motor 40DM is transferred to the drive cable 30SCD via dual v-belts 46DM attached by a small cog 44Dm on the motor and a large cog 48DM on the axel 52DA. The axel 52DA is connected to both the large cog 48DM and a Bull Wheel 50DW. The axel 52DA is supported by pillow blocks 54DA which sit on top of steel supports 66DA. The steel supports are connected into the ground via a foundation 68DM. For inspection purposes, a maintenance brake apparatus comprising of a disk rotor 56DA, dual cylinder caliper 58DA, hydraulic line 50DB and manual hydraulic piston 62DB with a handle DB64. The handle DB64 applies the pressure to the calipers to activate the brake.

[0059] The drive cable 30SCD may use 1.5 half wraps around the bull wheel 50DW to create the friction needed to move the seats 12TS up the tram cable 28SCT. The drive cable 30SCD first travels up and away from the left side bull wheel 50DW to a directional pulley 80SPLP (FIG. 6). From there the drive cable 30SCD travels and terminates at the dive cable interface 32TR (FIG. 3). The drive cable 30SCD continues up to the high pole 82SPH (FIG. 5) where it travels up through and around a directional pulley 84SPHP. Now pointing back towards the low pole 70SPL the drive cable 30SCD connects all the way to a directional pulley 78SPLP (FIG. 6) where it then travels down to the bull wheel 50DW on right side of the wheel.

[0060] The tram cable 28SCT may be terminated via strand vice 74ST. The strand vice 74ST is to be of series 5202. A structural support 75ST may be used to spread the tram cables 28SCT to the proper distance.

[0061] Referring to FIG. 7. a breaking tower 88BT may be used to slow the seat 12TS. The braking tower 88Bt is supported by down angles 90BT to counter act the forces generated by the braking cable 94BTC. The braking cable 94BTC may be attached to a braking block 96BTI. The braking cable 94BTC may be attached in such a way as to create a fail safe in the event of main termination failure. Said braking block 96BTI may be made out of delrine or other composite material to limit wear on the cable. The braking block 96BTI makes use of a shock-absorbing pad, located centrally, which makes contact with the tram housing 23TT. The tram housing 23TT has a braking pad 25TT that is used to interface with the brake block 96BTI. As the two units collide the braking cable 94BTC is pulled through first a rotating pulley 92BRT at the top of the braking tower 88BT. This pulley 92BRT must rotate side to side in order to stay in alignment as the tram 23TT passes by. Then going down the braking cable 94BTC goes to a fixed directional pulley 98BTFP. Said pulley 98BTFP changes the direction of the braking cable 94BTC 90 degrees so that is may then pass horizontally through a pressure pulley 100BTPP which keeps slack from being generated. The braking cable 94BTC may then go to one of three mechanical braking systems: a nitrogen/air automotive shock (FIG. 8 &FIG. 8a), a hydraulic disk brake (FIG. 9), or a magnetic disk brake (FIG. 10).

[0062] The reason for there being different braking systems is that each has benefits for different variations of the zipline in terms of height, and length as well as environmental factors. All the systems have the common ground that they are acting as a shock absorber, controlling the degree to which the braking cable is paid out.

[0063] Referring to FIG. 8 and FIG. 8a, a nitrogen/air automotive shock system may be used. The braking cable is routed to the static pulley housing 150BMN and from there is passes back an forth from the static pulley housing 150BMN to the sliding pulley housing 140BMN until it is terminated to the bottom of the static pulley housing at 146BMN. Automotive nitrogen or air shocks 142BMN are placed in tandem between the two pulley housing 150BMN and 140BMN. The braking cable 94BTC is pulled through the block and tackle system the shocks 142BMN are compressed (FIG. 8a). Through the dampening effects of the shocks 142 BMN the cable is paid out in a controlled fashion slowing down the tram 12TS in a smooth motion. To accommodate the moving connection point 144BMN where the sets of shocks 142BMN connect to one another, both the moving connection point 144BMN and the sliding pulley housing 140BMN slide in a delrine track 138BMN attached to the main structural member 136BMN which keeps the system in line and limits wear on the cable 94BTC and pulley housings 150BMN and 140BMN. The nitrogen/air system is totally non-powered in that when the tram 12TS is moved backwards, the charge of gas in the shock 142BMN forces the shock to extend, pulling the braking cable 94BTC thus automatically resetting the brake back to the at rest position.

[0064] Referring now to FIG. 9, a hydraulic disc brake system may be used. Differing from the afore mentioned system, the brake cable 94BTC is wrapped around a grooved drum 124BM in a winch style configuration. The drum 124BM is connected to an axel 123BM, which goes through pillow blocks 122BM. On either side of the axel are hydraulic disc brakes using a disk rotor 108BMH and a dual cylinder caliper 102BMH. The calipers 102BMH are always putting pressure on the disk rotor 108BMH via a charged hydraulic pack 106BMH connected to the caliper via a hydraulic line 104BMH. The pack 106BMH is charged with nitrogen to ensure that pressure is always there and is supported off the ground via a pedestal 110BMH. As the braking cable 94BTC is pulled, the drum 124BM spins against the resistance generated by the disk brakes. To reset the system, the motor 114BM reverses the drums via v-belt 118BM and cogs 116BM and 125BM. In one presently preferred embodiment it may be that computer controls are added to customize the braking power to the load being stopped.

[0065] Referring to FIG. 10, it demonstrates that magnets can be used to achieve the same result. This system works in the same general fashion as the disk system with the difference that the braking power is provided by dual crescent shaped magnets (NdFeB) Neodymium Iron Boron 128BMM. A copper disk 124BM passing at close proximity between two attracting magnets 128BMM creates the braking power. The magnets are positioned using a frame 132BMM, which are supported by large pedestals 130BMM. As the magnets 128BMM sit statically eddy currents are generated between the two magnets. As the disk 124BM passes through the currents, force is generated in proportion to the force being applied progressively slowing the disk 124BM down until an equilibrium is reached. It makes this system very suited for larger faster loads as it can adapt. However due to the fact that the magnets cannot dead stop the load, the motor 114BM is used more extensively for positioning purposes.

[0066] Referring to FIG. 12 and FIG. 12a a path of travel is noted from the top to the bottom of the zipline. As mentioned above the tram release apparatus lets the tram 12TS go to roll down the tram cables 28SCT. The tram 12TS travels down the tram cable 28SCT until it interfaces with the brake block 96BTI extending the cable and activating the braking system. During this action the sliding platform 6LQ is out of the way as shown in FIG. 14. After the tram 12TS comes to a complete stop, the sliding platform 6LQ is moved into place via the pneumatic cylinders 10LQ.

[0067] Alternative Embodiments

[0068] It is easy to imagine all the various modifications and alternate uses for this invention. For instance, it could be possible to change the tram seat 12TS to offer other positions for riding. Standing, laying down, flipping over, spinning, upside down, or simple harness could all be used with the current brake block 96BTI FIG. 7 system. Although the preferred embodiment is shown to take participants from the bottom to the top and back down again, the opposite is also possible in so much as the participants load at the top (off a building or such) ride down and are brought back to the top to unload. This method also provides a better opportunity to use the drive cable 30SCD as a means to launch the participant down.

[0069] Due to the nature of the braking system, slowing down to a constant rate or dead stop, the angle of decent could approach 90 degrees. It is very difficult to achieve this due to issues with the tram cables 28SCT. However it is noted that the braking system could be used to lower a tram from height at a constant rate it that were the goal. Since it is apparent that these systems can decelerate people to a constant rate or a dead stop, it is reasonable to set up an extra braking system on the large pole 82SPH to help protect maintenance workers as they climb and lower the pole. Protection for the workers may be achieved by routing the braking cable 94BTC FIG. 7 to a pulley at the top, allowing the end to come down to the ground while loading the brake (93BRT FIG. 7). By preloading the brake, cable take up is achieved as the worker climbs by the nitrogen/air pistons expanding. In order to make the magnetic version of the break serve the same purpose, a spring could be added to the drum providing the cable take up much in the same way a tape measurer pulls in the tape.

[0070] Advantages

[0071] From the description of the invention above, a number of advantages become evident as relates to the use in the dual cable zipline of mechanical asension and braking systems.

[0072] (a) By using dual cables the potential load is spread over two cables, not just one, which in turn increases longevity and lowers wear on the tram cables 28SCT.

[0073] (b) Having spread 4 pulley wheels across each tram cable 28SCT, the load is spread over a larger area, again increasing longevity and lessoning wear on the tram cables 28SCT. Also, the spread of the four pulleys eliminates the occurance of small angles in the cable.

[0074] (c) By allowing the tram pulleys 22TT to rotate independently, the cableis kept from being damaged due to the creation of small angles, which also promotes the longevity of and lessens wear on the tram cables 28SCT.

[0075] (d) Providing a loading position at the low point of the system allows for any person to partake in the attraction.

[0076] (e) Using seats with restraints allows for quick and safe entry and exit from the ride which is much more effiecient than any harnessed system.

[0077] (f) Locating the motor drive at the low point of the system allows for all the power and control to be at one location which saves time in maintenance and provides a more user friendly product.

[0078] (g) Having a maintenance brake included on the motor dive axel allows for quick inspection of all critical parts, such as the tram cables.

[0079] (h) Having a motor drive intergrated with the system allows for quick throughput of participants and an increase in safety as well as a lessening of costs.

[0080] (i) The impact braking system has several advantages, namely:

[0081] 1) A fail safe design. It is impossible for the tram to become disengaged from the braking system.

[0082] 2) Having a shock absorber connected to the cables at all time centers the cables and keeps vibration to a minimum, which allows for operation in foul or windy weather.

[0083] 3) The brakings systems are mechanical and thererfor do not need elctrical power to function.

[0084] 4) The nitrogen/air system is nort electrically powered in that when the tram is moved back the charge of gas in the tube forces the piston to extend thus automatically resetting the brake.

[0085] 5) The braking action in any one system does not rely on any one person or any other braking system.

[0086] 6) Due to nature of the braking system and the abilty of all the methods to automatically adjust to the load, no computers are necessary to calculate the braking power needed for each cycle.

[0087] 7) By using automotive shocks, replacement is fast and easy. There is also an added advantage; the history of the use of automotive shocks on vehicles has proven them to be far more reliable and durable than would be necessary for the use on ziplines.

[0088] 8) With a braking system such as these the zipline can be bigger, faster and can have steeper angle of descent than ever before.

[0089] Operation - FIGS. 3, 3a, 4, 7, 12, 12a, 14, 14a

[0090] To use the ride/invention the participant walks up the ramp 2LQ to the loading platform. At the lower end of the ride the operater straps in the participant to the tram seat 12TS via the provided safety belts or shoulder bar. Once the participant(s) is strapped in, the operator turns on the motor drive 40DM (FIG. 4) and brings the tram release 32TR to the loading platform. Once down, the tram release 32TR is brought close to the tram such that the hook 39TR can be lift up to connect to the capture bar 18TT. Once this interface is complete, the sliding platform 6LQ is moved out of the way. This leaves the participant(s)' feet hanging above ground such that there is ample clearance for their feet. At this point several actions can commence. With the sliding platform 6LQ out of the way the operator can now move the participant(s) towards the braking area for a short pause to verify that the braking system has been reset. When using the disk or magnetic systems this is done by the electric positioning motor 114BM. Once the brake block is in the proper position, the participant(s) is then ready to be ascended up the tram cable by the main drive cable. In the nitrogen version, the brake is reset automatically, thus the participant(s) at this point is ready for ascension via the drive cable; the controller is able to continue this ascend provide the brake block 96BTI has moved back with the tram seat 12TS.

[0091] The tram is moved by the drive cable 30SCD due to the friction cause by the 1.5 half wraps around the bull wheel 50DA. With the gear ratio of the small cog 44DM to the large cog 48DW the motor drive can get the participants up the height in short order. Once the tram seat 12TS reaches the top, the release block 34TR is compressed, the hook 39TR goes up and the participants are free to roll down the tram cables 28SCT. A skilled operator may also accelerate the participants down with a short to long burst of speed from the motor drive. For those not so skilled, a computer or PLC could be added to automate the system.

[0092] As the tram seat 12ST moves down the tram cables 28SCT, the tram picks up speed and the participant(s) hears a high pitch from the wheels that gets higher as the speed increases. At this point the operator may start lowering the tram release to prepare for the next cycle. Shortly, the tram speeds along towards the brake block 96BTI (FIG. 7.) and collides with it. The riders feel little to no jolt as the system starts to engage. The cable is let out as described above via the braking system in use. The tram seat 12TS slows to a stop over the loading zone as shown in FIG. 14. In the event that the tram is not heavy enough to make it back to the sliding platform 6QL the operator simply moves the tram seat 12TS forward until it is position. Once over the platform area, the operator moves the sliding platform into position so that the participants may exit quickly, comfortably and safely.

[0093] Conclusion, Ramification, and Scope

[0094] Accordingly, the reader will see that the dual cable zipline having a mechanical means of ascension and braking can be used easily, safely and quickly. One of the main problems with ziplines in the past was that there was not a good method to stop the participant at the end that did not harm the cable. Another issue was the slow cycle speed and staff intensiveness. With the motor drive the unit can be run quickly with out the added danger or hassle of connecting other pulleys and trams in-between participants. Designed with safety, high volume and quick operation in mind the present invention is fills a void that has been vacant since the beginning. Furthermore, the invention has the additional advantages in that:

[0095] it increases longevity and lowers wear on the tram cables 28SCT;

[0096] it provides a loading position at the low point allowing for all persons to partake in the attraction;

[0097] it uses seats with restraints allows for quick and safe entry and exit from the ride that is much more efficient than any harnessed system;

[0098] it saves time in maintenance and provides a user-friendlier product by locating critical systems in easy to reach locations;

[0099] it uses a motor drive to allows for quick throughput of participants and increases safety as well as lowering costs;

[0100] it uses an impact braking system, which has several advantages namely:

[0101] Fail safe design. It is impossible for the tram to disengage from the braking system;

[0102] The braking action in no way relies on any one person or system;

[0103] Due to nature of the braking systems they have the ability to automatically adjust to the load, no computers are necessary to calculate the braking power needed for each cycle;

[0104] With a braking system such as these the zipline can be bigger, faster and have steeper angle of attack than ever before.

[0105] Although the description above contains much specificity, these should not be construed as limiting the scope of the invention but as merely providing illustrations of some of the presently preferred embodiments of this invention. For example the zipline could use several different style of chairs, be very short or long, be fast or slow, load from the bottom or the top. Thus the scope of the invention should be determined by the appended claim and their legal equivalents, rather than by the examples given.