Title:
DISPENSER PULL HANDLE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A pull handle for dispenser machines having a first arm and a second arm. The second arm may be articulated and translated about an axis. The joint between the first and second arms is configured such that the second arm may be secured into and released from a first position. The first position facilitates accessible engagement of the pull handle.



Inventors:
Hanna, Emmanuel (Lakeview Terrace, CA, US)
Conway, William (Moorpark, CA, US)
Application Number:
10/024805
Publication Date:
06/19/2003
Filing Date:
12/19/2001
Assignee:
HANNA EMMANUEL
CONWAY WILLIAM
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47F1/04; (IPC1-7): A47F1/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NOLAND, KENNETH W
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie LLP (Glendale, CA, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A dispensing machine that dispenses products, the dispensing machine comprising: a housing; a dispensing mechanism at least partially within the housing; a door coupled to the housing; and a pull handle connected to the dispensing mechanism, the pull handle having a first arm having a proximate end and a distal end; and a second arm having an end pivotally coupled to the distal end of the first arm such that the second arm may pivot about a first axis at the distal end of the first arm to move between a first position forming a first angle with the first arm and a second position forming a second angle with the first arm.

2. The dispensing machine of claim 1, wherein the proximate end of the first arm is configured to be pivotally coupled to the dispensing mechanism such that the first arm may pivot about a second axis at a location where the first arm is coupled to the dispensing mechanism.

3. The dispensing machine of claim 1, wherein the second arm may be secured in the first position by at least one surface of the first arm juxtaposed against at least one surface of the second arm.

4. The dispensing machine of claim 1, wherein the second arm may be translated in a radial direction.

5. The dispensing machine of claim 1 further comprising: a fastener coupled to the distal end of the first arm, wherein the end of the second arm defines at least one slot for receiving the fastener such that the second arm may be rotated and translated about the fastener.

6. The dispensing machine of claim 5, wherein the second arm may be translated in a radial direction to be rotated from the first position to the second position.

7. The dispensing machine of claim 1, wherein in the first position the first arm forms an approximately 90 degree angle with the second arm.

8. The dispensing machine of claim 1, wherein in the second position the first arm forms an approximately 180 degree angle with the second arm.

9. The dispensing machine of claim 1, wherein the dimensions of the first arm and second arm are configured such that the pull handle may be engaged without digitally engagement of the pull handle.

10. The dispensing machine of claim 1, wherein a longitudinal length of the second arm is greater than one-half the greatest distance across the opening of the door.

11. The dispensing machine of claim 1, wherein the second arm in the first position is generally parallel with the dispenser door, the distance between the second arm and the dispenser door being at least approximately 0.5 inch, and wherein the longitudinal length of the second arm is greater than one-half the greatest distance across the opening.

12. A dispensing machine that dispenses products, the dispensing machine comprising: a housing; a dispensing mechanism at least partially within the housing; a door coupled to the housing, the door defining an opening providing access to an inside of the housing; and a pull handle connected to the dispensing mechanism, the pull handle having a first arm having a proximate end and a distal end, the distal end of the first arm having an extending tooth, wherein the tooth is configured to receive a first fastener; and a second arm having a proximate end and a distal end, the proximate end having two spaced teeth, the two spaced teeth of the second arm configured to receive the tooth between the two spaced teeth, each of the two spaced teeth defining a slot, wherein the second arm is coupled to the first arm with the first fastener extending through the tooth and the two spaced teeth, and wherein the second arm may rotate about a first axis, the second arm moveable between a first position, a second position, and a third position.

13. The dispensing machine of claim 12, wherein in the first position, the second arm forms a first angle with the first arm, the first fastener is located in a distal end of the slots, a first side of each of the two teeth of the second arm is adjacent to the distal end of the first arm, a proximate end of each of the two teeth has a curved portion, and the second arm may be translated in a radial direction to the second position by the first fastener traveling in the slots; wherein in the second position, the second arm forms the first angle with the first arm, the first fastener is located in a proximate end of the slots, the first side of each of the two teeth is adjacent to the distal end of the first arm, the curved portion is located proximate to the distal end of the first arm such that the curved portion may slide adjacent to the distal end of the first arm, permitting the second arm to move rotationally about the first fastener, about the first axis, to the third position; and wherein in the third position, the second arm forms a second angle with the first arm, and the fastener is located in the proximate end of the slots.

14. The dispensing machine of claim 13, wherein the first angle is approximately 90 degrees.

15. The dispensing machine of claim 13, wherein the second angle is approximately 180 degrees.

16. The dispensing machine of claim 12, wherein the proximate end of the first arm further has two spaced teeth, the two spaced teeth of the first arm configured to be coupled to the dispensing mechanism with a second fastener such that the first arm may pivot about a second axis.

17. The dispensing machine of claim 16, wherein the two spaced teeth of the first arm have a generally horizontal orientation and the two spaced teeth of the second arm have generally vertical orientation.

18. The dispensing machine of claim 12, wherein the dimensions of the first arm and second arm are configured such that the pull handle may be engaged without digital engagement of the pull handle.

19. The dispensing machine of claim 12, wherein the longitudinal length of the second arm is greater than one-half the greatest distance across the opening.

20. The dispensing machine of claim 12, wherein the second position permits the pull handle to pass through an opening in the dispenser door.

21. A method for accessing an interior of a dispensing machine having a housing, a door coupled to the housing, the door defining an opening, a dispensing mechanism at least partially within the housing, the method comprising: providing a pull handle having a first arm and a second arm, wherein a first end of the first arm is connected to the dispensing mechanism and a second end of the first arm is pivotally coupled to an end of the second arm, wherein the second arm forms a first angle with the first arm; translating the second arm in a radial direction, wherein translation of the second arm permits the second arm to be pivoted to a second position; pivoting the second arm to the second position forming a second angle with the first arm; opening the door, wherein the second position permits the pull handle to pass through the opening of the door.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] Pull handles have been used for many years to dispense retail products from a variety of dispensing machines. One type of dispensing machine has a slot for depositing coins or other currency and a pull handle directly connected to a dispensing mechanism. A deposit of the appropriate amount of currency permits the handle to be pulled, dispensing one or more products to the user. Multiple pull handles may be used on one dispensing machine to provide access to a selection of products. The front panel or door of the machine typically swings open on a vertical hinge to provide access to the interior of the machine for restocking and withdrawal of deposited currency.

[0002] One type of prior art pull handle is a one-piece handle 100 having a knob 110 integrally connected to the end of a shaft 120, shown in FIG. 1. The door 130 has a small opening 140 surrounding the shaft such that the opening passes over the shaft and knob when the door is swung open, attached to the machine by a vertical hinge. The pull handle extends through a cover plate 150 which occupies the space in the opening around the pull handle when the door is closed. One disadvantage to the prior art handle is that the knob must be small in order to pass through the opening in the door. Due to the small surface area on the rear side of the knob and the short distance between the knob and the door, it is difficult to grab and pull the handle in a perpendicular direction away from the door. Furthermore, the prior art handle fails to comply with the requirements of the American with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG), specifically section 4.27.4 on Controls and Operating Mechanisms, which requires operating mechanisms to be operable with one hand and shall not require tight grasping, pinching or twisting of the wrist. Accordingly, there is a need for an improved pull handle that allows easy access to the interior of the dispensing machine, can be pulled easily without digital engagement, and complies with the requirements of the American with Disabilities Act.

[0003] The present invention satisfies one or more of the above needs.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0004] The present invention is embodied in a dispensing machine having a housing, a dispensing mechanism at least partially within the housing, a door, the door defining an opening, and a pull handle. In one embodiment, the pull handle may be engaged without digital engagement or grasping or pinching the handle. In another embodiment, the pull handle has two arms that permit the dispensing machine door to be opened. The pull handle may be coupled to a dispensing mechanism for dispensing products from a vending or dispensing machine. In an embodiment, the pull handle includes a first arm having a proximate end and a distal end, and a second arm having one end pivotally coupled to the distal end of the first arm such that the second arm may pivot about a first axis at the distal end of the first arm, wherein the second arm may be secured in a first position forming a first angle with the first arm and the second arm may be released to a second position forming a second angle with the first arm. The proximate end of the first arm may be configured to be pivotally coupled to a dispensing mechanism such that the first arm may pivot about a second axis at a location where the first arm may be coupled to the dispensing mechanism.

[0005] In one embodiment, the second arm may be secured in the first position by a fastener and surfaces of the first arm juxtaposed against surfaces of the second arm. The second arm may also be translated in a radial direction.

[0006] The pull handle may further include a fastener coupled to the distal end of the first arm, and at least one slot protruding through the coupled end of the second arm for coupling the second arm to the first arm such that the second arm may be rotated and translated about the fastener. The second arm may be translated in a radial direction to be released and rotated to the second position.

[0007] In another embodiment, the first arm of the pull handle, in the first position, may form an approximately 90 degree angle with the second arm, and in the second position, the first arm may form an approximately 180 degree angle with the second arm. The dimensions of the first arm and second arm may be configured such that the pull handle may be engaged without grasping and/or without digital engagement of the pull handle.

[0008] In another embodiment of the dispensing machine, when the pull handle is in the first position, the second arm forms a first angle with the first arm, the fastener is located in a distal end of the slots, a first side of each of the two teeth of the second arm is adjacent to the distal end of the first arm, a proximate end of each of the two teeth has a curved portion, and the second arm may be translated in a radial direction to the second position by the fastener traveling in the slots. In the second position, the second arm forms the first angle with the first arm, the fastener is located in a proximate end of the slots, the first side of each of the two teeth is adjacent to the distal end of the first arm, and the curved portion is located proximate to the distal end of the first arm such that the curved portion may slide adjacent to the distal end of the first arm, permitting the second arm to move rotationally about the fastener, about the first axis, to the third position. In the third position, the second arm forms a second angle with the first arm, and the fastener is located in the proximate end of the slots.

[0009] Features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following description of the embodiments, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, which illustrate, by way of example, the principles of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0010] FIG. 1 is an illustration of a prior art pull handle.

[0011] FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a pull handle showing a second arm in a dispensing position.

[0012] FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the pull handle of FIG. 2 showing the second arm in an intermediate position.

[0013] FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the pull handle showing the second arm in an access position.

[0014] FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the pull handle shown in FIG. 4 from an alternate angle.

[0015] FIG. 6 is a partial front view of a dispenser having two pull handles showing the second arms in the dispensing position.

[0016] FIG. 7 is a partial side view of the dispenser of FIG. 6.

[0017] FIG. 8 is a partial top view of the dispenser of FIG. 6.

[0018] FIG. 9 is a partial front view of a dispenser including the pull handle showing the second arm in the access position.

[0019] FIG. 10 is a partial side view of the dispenser of FIG. 9.

[0020] FIG. 11 is a partial top view of the dispenser of FIG. 9 showing, partially in section, a dispenser door in opening position.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0021] A pull handle 20 embodying the features of the present invention is shown in FIGS. 2-5. The pull handle 20 is configured to be attached to a dispensing mechanism. Dispensing mechanisms are well known in the art, typically having a rod or lever which, in response to a user initiated motion, will release a product to the user.

[0022] The pull handle 20 includes a first arm 22, a second arm 24, and a fastener 26 used to couple the first and second arms forming a conjoined handle. One end of the first arm may be configured for attachment to a dispensing mechanism. The end configured for attachment to the dispensing mechanism may be considered the proximate end 28 of the handle. Accordingly, the first arm has both a proximate end 28 and a distal end 30, and the second arm has both a proximate end 32 and a distal end 34.

[0023] The embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 2-5 depict the first arm 22 and the second arm 24 formed of generally rectangular, cubed shafts having ends configured for attachment to each other and to a dispensing mechanism. The distal end 30 of the first arm 22 is coupled to the proximate end 32 of the second arm 24 using a fastener 26 such as a screw, rivet, pin, bolt, or other suitable means for coupling the two arms.

[0024] With reference to FIGS. 4-5, the general shape of the arms will be described. The proximate end 28 of the first arm 22 is provided with a horizontally extending notch 36 that creates a top tooth 42 and a bottom tooth 44, the top and bottom teeth are spaced apart from each other, each having a hole 46 protruding through the tooth 42, 44. The hole 46 is configured for receiving a fastener to couple the first arm to a dispensing mechanism (not shown). The teeth preferably have the shape of generally flat, rectangular planks. The proximate end 28 of the first arm 22 may be configured to receive an end of the dispensing mechanism into the notch 36 and be secured in place with a fastener extending through the top tooth 42, the end of the dispensing mechanism, and the bottom tooth 44. The notch 36 and fastener may be configured such that the first arm 22, and therefore, the entire pull handle 20, may pivot around a vertical axis A which runs through the holes in the top and bottom teeth 42, 44. The notch 36 may be of any suitable shape and may include protruding teeth or walls to limit the range within which the first arm 22 may pivot.

[0025] The distal end 30 of the first arm 22 is adapted with a tooth 48 extending longitudinally beyond the main body of the first arm 22. The tooth 48 is oriented in a position generally perpendicular to the top tooth 42 and bottom tooth 44 at the proximate end 28 of the first arm 22. The tooth 48 may include a hole configured to receive a fastener for coupling the second arm 24 to the first arm 22. The distal end 30 of the first arm 22 also includes two distal faces 49, one located on each side of the tooth 48.

[0026] The second arm 24 is adapted with a longitudinally extending notch 54 formed at the proximate end 32 of the second arm 24. The notch 54 creates a first side tooth 56 and a second side tooth 58 at the proximate end 32 of the second arm 24. The notch also creates a proximate face 59 between the first side tooth 56 and the second side tooth 58. The teeth 56, 58 each have a slot 60 extending through the tooth. Each slot 60 is generally circular-oblong oriented such that the slot 60 is elongated in a direction parallel to a longitudinal axis of the second arm 24, the longitudinal axis extending through the proximate end 32 to the distal end 34 of the second arm 24. Each tooth is similar in shape. The proximate end of each tooth curves gradually to taper toward the proximate end 32 of the second arm 24.

[0027] With reference now to FIG. 2, second arm of the pull handle 20 is shown secured in a dispensing position. The tooth 48 of the first arm 22 and the first and second side teeth 56, 58 of the second arm 24 are configured to be slidably coupled such that the tooth 48 of the first arm 22 is disposed between the first and second side teeth 56, 58 of the second arm 24. The first and second arms 22, 24 are linked by the fastener 26 that extends through the slot 60 of the first side tooth, the singular tooth 48, and the slot of the second side tooth 58. The second arm 24 is moveable about a fastener axis B of the fastener 26. The second arm 24 may be rotated about the fastener axis forming a plurality of angles with the first arm 22. Additionally, the second arm 24 may also be translated radially to and away from the fastener axis B by way of the slots 60 in the second arm 24. The second arm 24 is shown in a first slot position in FIG. 2 where the fastener 26 is located at a distal end of the slot 62. The second arm may be translated in a radial direction such that the arm 24 travels over the fastener 26 until the arm is in a second slot position. FIG. 3 shows the second arm 24 in the second slot position where the second arm 24 is positioned such that the fastener 26 is located at a proximate end of the slot 64.

[0028] With reference now to FIG. 2, when the second arm 24 is in the dispensing position, the arm 24 is in the first slot position and will maintain this generally secured dispensing position against any non-radial force on the arm 24. The second arm 24 is secured in this position by a combination of forces and juxtaposition of parts between the first and second arms 22, 24. The proximate face of the second arm 24 abuts the top portion of the singular tooth 48 of the first arm 22. Simultaneously, the top, flat portions of the first and second side teeth 56, 58 of the second arm 24 abut the two distal faces 49 of the first arm 22. Where the second arm 24 is in the first slot position, the curved portions of the first and second side teeth 56, 58 are predominantly below the edge of the first arm 22. While in the first slot position, the abutting surfaces, together with the fastener 26 contacting the slot 64 of the second arm 24, prevent the second arm 24 from rotating when tangential force is applied to the arm 24. The abutting surfaces of the first arm 22 can be generally flush with the surfaces of the second arm 24. The abutting surfaces, illustrated as being generally flat surfaces, may be rough, notched, slotted, or of any other designed configuration that may increase the friction between the first and second arms or assist in maintaining the second arm 24 in the dispensing position.

[0029] The second arm 24 is articulated from the dispensing position to an access position by way of a movement to an intermediate position when the second arm 24 is in the second slot position. With reference now to FIG. 3, the second arm 24 is shown in the intermediate position where the second arm 24 is in the second slot position. The second arm may be translated in a direction toward the distal end 34 of the second arm 24. Consequently, the fastener passes through the slots 60 in the first and second side teeth 56, 58 from the distal end of the slots 62 to the proximate end of the slots 64. In this intermediate position, distance is created between the proximate face 59 (shown in FIG. 5) of the notch of the second arm 24 and the top portion of the tooth 48 of the first arm. Simultaneously, the curved portions of the first and second side teeth 56, 58 are proximate to the two distal faces 49 of the first arm 22. The distance between the proximate face 59 and the singular tooth 48, together with the curved first and second side teeth 56, 58, permit the second arm 24 to pivot about the fastener axis B. While the juxtaposition of flat surfaces in the dispensing position and the tops of the first and second side teeth against the two distal faces of the first arm 22 prevented articulation about the fastener axis B, in the intermediate position, the curved portions of the first and second side teeth 56, 58 may slide past the two distal faces 49 of the first arm 22 allowing articulation about the fastener axis B.

[0030] The slots 60 in the first and second side teeth 56, 58 are configured such that rotation of the second arm 24 is generally prevented when the second arm 24 is in the first slot position and articulation is permitted when the second arm 24 is in the second slot position. The slot 60 is of sufficient length to operate, in conjunction with the shape of the arms, such that the second arm 24 may be secured and released as described above.

[0031] With reference to FIG. 4-5, the embodiment of the present invention is shown in the access position. The above described rotation permits the second arm to be articulated to the access position such that the second arm 24 is generally longitudinally aligned with the first arm 22. The second arm 24 remains in the second slot position with the fastener 26 at the proximate end 64 of the slots 60. The proximate ends of the first and second side teeth 56, 58 of the second arm 24 abut the two distal faces 49 of the first art. These abutting surfaces, together with the fastener 26 contacting the slot 64 of the second arm 24, prevent the second arm 24 from rotating beyond an approximately 180 degree angle. FIG. 3 illustrates the second arm 24 forming an approximately 90 degree angle with the first arm 22. FIG. 4 illustrates the second arm 24, after articulation, forming an approximately 180 degree angle with the first arm 22. The second arm 24 may be articulated through any desired range of angles. The angles illustrated are included as exemplary positions for the pull handle and are not intended to be limited to these exact positions. It will be appreciated that other fasteners and other shapes of the first arm and the second arm may be used to obtain the desired movement of the dispensing handle.

[0032] The first and second arms 22, 24 of the pull handle are preferably made from aluminum but may be manufactured from any other metal, plastics, or any other suitable material that is capable embodying the required characteristics. The arms are preferably made by casting. However, the arms may be formed using any suitably manufacturing method. The arms are substantially rigid and of sufficient strength to resist and/or withstand forces exerted on the arm from a plurality of directions.

[0033] With reference now to FIGS. 6-11, the operation of the pull handle 20 is illustrated in connection with a dispensing machine having a dispenser mechanism 68 and a dispenser door 70. FIGS. 6-8 illustrate the pull handle 20 in the dispensing position. FIGS. 9-11 illustrate the pull handle 20 in the access position. The dispensing machine is shown having two dispenser pull handles 20 embodying the present invention connected to dispenser mechanisms 68 (shown in FIG. 8) protruding through openings 72 in the dispenser door 70. Door opening cover plates may be mounted on the dispensing mechanism or the pull handle. The door opening cover plate is preferably disposed against the opening, behind the door, 70 by a spring, but may be held in place using any suitable method. The door opening cover plate may not pass entirely through the opening 72. The pull handle 20 may be pivotally coupled to the dispensing mechanism by a fastener 73 such as a screw, rivet, pin, bolt, or other suitable means for coupling the two arms. However, as can be seen in FIGS. 6-7, the length of the second arm 24 of the pull handle 20 may be greater than the opening 72 in the dispenser door 70. With reference to FIG. 8, if the door is opened in the indicated general direction 74 about a door hinge, the pull handles, in the dispensing position, cannot pass through the openings in the door 70.

[0034] It should be appreciated that the joint where the pull handle 20 is coupled to the dispenser mechanism 68 may be either in front of or behind the opening 72 in the door 70. However, it is preferable that sufficient distance exist between the second arm 24 of the pull handle 20 and the door 70 of the dispensing machine such that the pull handle may be engaged to activate the dispensing mechanism. In one embodiment, the distance between the second arm and the door and the length of the second arm is of sufficient length such that digital engagement of the pull handle 20 is not needed. In another embodiment, there is sufficient clearance between the door and the second arm, when in the dispensing position, for a person's hand to fit in between the door and the handle. In another embodiment, the second arm is of sufficient length such that the handle may be engaged without a person's hand easily slipping off the handle, and that the handle may be engaged with one hand and does not require the grasping or pinching of the handle. An exemplary distance between the second arm 24 and the door 70 may range from approximately 0.4 inch to approximately 2.5 inches. However, any suitable distance may be used. The pull handle 20 itself may not be determinative of this distance since the dispensing mechanism 68 may extend through the opening 72 in the door 70 and increase the distance between the second arm 24 and the door 70. Conversely, part of the first arm 22 of the pull handle 20 may extend within the dispensing machine 70. Exemplary dimensions of the first arm 22 and the second arm 24 are approximately 2.0 by 0.5 by 0.5, in inches. However, any suitable dimensions may be used. The longitudinal length of each arm, from proximate end to distal end, may be of any length. An exemplary length is at least approximately 0.5 inch.

[0035] With reference to FIGS. 9-11, the second arm 24 is in the access position. It can be seen in FIGS. 9-10 that the pull handles 20 in the access position may have a cross-section width that is less than the diameter of the door openings 72. Therefore, the pull handle 20 may pass through the door openings 72 when the door 70 is opened. FIG. 11 illustrates a top view of the dispensing machine shown in FIG. 9 having a partial sectional view of the door 70 in an opening position about the door hinge 76. As the door 70 opens about the hinge 76, the openings travel in the indicated direction 78 in a circumferential path. Accordingly, the pull handles 20 may pivot at the joint to the dispensing mechanism permitting the pull handles 20 to pass through the door openings. It should be appreciated that the arms are generally rectangular with cube-shaped bodies for the purposes of illustration. Alternatively, the main body of the arms may be cylindrical, oval, or rectangular, and the present invention may be embodied in any suitable shape or design as may be ergonomically and aesthetically desirable for use.

[0036] In one embodiment, the length of the part of the pull handle being engaged, here, the second arm, does not depend significantly on the size of the opening 72 of the door 70. Since the second arm 24 may be moved from a dispensing position to an access position, the opening may be smaller than the actual length of the arm being engaged. For example, the opening 72 need only accommodate the diameter or width of a cross section of the pull handle 20. Furthermore, the longitudinal length of the second arm 24 may be of any desired length. In one embodiment, the longitudinal length of the second arm 24, from the proximate end to the distal end, may be greater than one-half the greatest distance across the opening 72. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 6 and 9, the greatest distance across the opening 72 is the diameter of the opening, however, the opening may be of any other desired shape where the greatest distance across the opening may not be the diameter.

[0037] The pull handle 20 embodying the present invention may alternatively be used with objects other than dispensing machines. For example, any vending-type machine that requires a pull handle for dispensing may include a pull handing embodying the present invention.

[0038] The dispensing machine may be of any suitable configuration considering the product being dispensed, the location that the dispensing machine is being operated, and any other considerations. In one embodiment, the dispensing machine includes a housing that is generally rectangular-box shaped. The rear of the dispensing machine may be attached to a wall or other surface. The door 70 may be connected to the housing with a hinge such that the door 70 may pivot open. However the door 70 may be attached to the housing in any suitable method. For example, the door 70 may be connected with locking latches or bolts such that the door may be entirely removed from the housing to access the inside of the dispensing machine.

[0039] Although the invention has been described in detail with reference only to the preferred embodiments, those having ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that various modifications can be made without departing from the invention. Accordingly, the invention is defined with reference to the following claims.