Title:
Illuminated ball
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An illuminated game ball for use in playing a game at night. The ball includes a translucent outer wall that can be tinted with various colors, a light with rechargeable power source mounted in the interior of the ball, and an electrical connector mounted substantially flush with the outer surface of the ball that is connected to the power source. When it is desired to illuminate the ball for nighttime play an electrical power source is plugged into the connector for a short time to charge the rechargeable power source which then discharges through the light to illuminate same.



Inventors:
Leal, Jose E. (Stow, MA, US)
Barletta, John F. (Southborough, MA, US)
Leal, Hans (Stow, MA, US)
Ullman, Donald (Fairfield, CT, US)
Application Number:
10/161833
Publication Date:
12/04/2003
Filing Date:
06/04/2002
Assignee:
LEAL JOSE E.
BARLETTA JOHN F.
LEAL HANS
ULLMAN DONALD
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B43/06; (IPC1-7): A63B43/06
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
WONG, STEVEN B
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
JOSEPH E. FUNK (LONDONDERRY, NH, US)
Claims:
1. An illuminated game ball, comprising: a hollow body having an interior chamber, the hollow body having an opening that communicates with the interior chamber, and the hollow body is formed of translucent material; energy storage means in the interior chamber; a light source in the interior chamber; an electrical connector mounted in the opening and flush with the surface of the game ball, and used to supply energy to the energy storage means; and wherein energy from the energy storage means causes the light source to be illuminated and seen through the translucent material from which the game ball is formed.

2. The illuminated game ball in accordance with claim 1 wherein the electrical connector is mounted in the opening of the hollow body such that the illuminated game ball is impervious to water.

3. The illuminated game ball in accordance with claim 2 wherein the energy storage means comprises a capacitor.

4. The illuminated game ball in accordance with claim 3 wherein the light source is a light emitting diode.

5. The illuminated game ball in accordance with claim 1 further comprising a hollow member inside the hollow body and in which the energy storage means and the light source are positioned.

6. The illuminated game ball in accordance with claim 5 wherein the hollow member is attached to the opening of the hollow body and the electrical connector is mounted inside and attached to the hollow member such that the illuminated game ball is impervious to water.

7. The illuminated game ball in accordance with claim 6 wherein the energy storage means comprises a capacitor.

8. The illuminated game ball in accordance with claim 7 wherein the light source is a light emitting diode.

9. The illuminated game ball in accordance with claim 8 further comprising an electrical power source that is connected to the electrical connector to supply electrical energy to the energy storage means.

10. The illuminated game ball in accordance with claim 1 further comprising an electrical power source that is connected to the electrical connector to supply electrical energy to the energy storage means.

11. The illuminated game ball in accordance with claim 6 wherein the hollow member is attached to another point of the hollow body to positionally stabilize the energy storage means and light source.

12. The illuminated game ball in accordance with claim 6 wherein the energy storage means and light source are preassembled into a module that is inserted into the hollow member after the hollow member is attached to the opening of the hollow body such that the module is approximately located in the middle of the hollow body.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates generally to sporting goods and toy products, and more particularly to a ball such as a football, round ball, or any other game ball or play ball which is internally lighted.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] A wide variety of games are played both in the field and on the court where a ball is kicked, thrown, bounced, paddled, and batted as part of game play. Such game balls must have a relatively heavy-duty construction in order to survive the shock forces resulting from the ball repeatedly rebounding off hard surfaces. Such balls and toys stimulating ball play have always been very popular. Many of the consumers of balls and toy products simulating balls have expressed a desire to use said products in a darkened environment as indicated by relatively large sales of such prior art products. However, relatively expensive, heavy-duty, electrical components must be used to survive the shock forces resulting from a ball repeatedly rebounding off hard surfaces.

[0003] Several designs have been proposed for illuminating game balls to enable play in dark conditions.

[0004] U.S. Pat. No. 6,117,030 describes an illuminated translucent ball having an access opening in its side and in the opening is mounted a case that contains batteries in a battery compartment, a mount for a light source in the form of an light emitting diode (LED), and a switch for selectively activating the light source. The switch is formed in a cap that is used for closing the access opening so is actuable from the surface of the ball.

[0005] U.S. Pat. No. 5,228,686 describes an illuminated translucent ball that has LEDs mounted in the inner surface of the ball shell and are connected to an interior rechargeable battery set via a power switch for energizing the LEDs. The switch is mounted in the interior of the ball and is actuated by a slender rod-like tool that must be inserted into a switch access passage. The batteries are recharged via a recharging connector mounted interior to the ball and accessed via a passage that extends from the recharging connector to the surface of the ball body, and a slender rod-like electrical connector is inserted through the access passage to engage the recharging connector for recharging the batteries.

[0006] U.S. Pat. No. 4,776,589 describes an illuminated translucent ball having an opening in its side that accesses a compartment in which are mounted a battery and lights. A switch is mounted in the wall of the ball to connect the battery to the lights and illuminate the ball. A cap with living hinge is used to create a watertight seal for the opening. The cap is opened to access the compartment and install or replace batteries.

[0007] U.S. Patent No. 4,133,528 describes an illuminated translucent ball that has a passage there through into which an insulating, rigid case is inserted. The ends of the case may be substantially flush with the surface if the ball. The case has mounted therein lights and a battery, and the ends of the case are sealed by end caps that are also used to access the interior of the case to replace the batteries. One end cap may serve as a switch to turn the lights on and off.

[0008] These and other similar designs utilize components, materials and construction that, while generally suitable for their purposes, make the illuminate balls relatively complex and expensive to manufacture and thereby render them undesirable for applications where such design and high manufacturing cost is not needed. Hence, there is a need for an illuminated game ball designed for relatively simple, inexpensive manufacture, assembly, and use.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0009] The shortcomings of the prior are overcome by the present invention. An illuminated ball is provided that is rugged enough for use, but which is relatively simple and inexpensive to manufacture, and is easy to use.

[0010] There is a hollow compartment of a soft membrane PVC layer at the central part of a translucent ball in which one or more for light emitting diodes (LEDs) and a capacitor or rechargeable battery are mounted, so that the ball may be lighted to be played with for fun even at night or in dark places such as a beach, swimming pool or lawn in order to improve its practicability and novelty.

[0011] The interior capacitor or rechargeable battery is connected via wires to a charging connector mounted flush with the outer surface of the ball. When the ball is to be lighted for play a power supply with a mating charging connector is utilized to charge the capacitor or batteries by inserting the mating connector into the flush mounted connector. The charged capacitor or batteries illuminate the LEDs for play.

[0012] The use of a charging connector and a sealed, hollow compartment internal to the ball creates a game ball that is impervious to water and can be used for play in the water.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

[0013] The invention will be better understood upon reading the following Detailed Description in conjunction with the drawing in which:

[0014] FIG. 1 shows the illuminated ball in accordance with the present invention; and

[0015] FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram of the illuminated ball.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0016] In FIG. 1 is a preferred embodiment of the invention showing details of an illuminated, inflatable game ball. There is shown a game ball 10 having a translucent wall 20 defining a hollow interior 21. The translucent material may be made of different colors while still being translucent. Mounted in wall 20 is a valve 11 that is well known in the art and is used to inflate ball 10. At opposite sides of ball 10 are manufactured openings 22 and 23 that are used in assembling illumination means into ball 10.

[0017] Stretched between and fastened to openings 22 and 23 by thermally fusing or a flexible adhesive (not shown) is a hollow piece of flexible PVC tubing 12. After being fastened to the openings 22 and 23 the interior of tubing 12 is accessible from the exterior of ball 10.

[0018] Separately assembled is a module 13 with a charging connector 17 attached thereto by wires (not shown). Module 13 contains a light emitting diode (LED) 14, a resistor (not shown in FIG. 1, but shown in FIG. 2), and a capacitor 15 that is charged and acts as a power source for LED 14. Alternatively, a rechargeable battery may be used in lieu of capacitor 15. There is a series circuit created through LED 14, the resistor, capacitor 15 and charging connector 17 when a mating charging plug 19 of a power source/battery charger 18 is not plugged into connector 17. Thus, a charged capacitor 15 will slowly discharge through LED 14, lighting it and thereby illuminating ball 10. Charger 18 is preferably of a type well known in the art and available in stores. Charger 18 can be powered by replaceable batteries, or it can preferably have a small power supply (not shown) that plugs into a standard 110 volt household outlet to produce a d.c. voltage necessary to charge capacitor 15. When charging plug 19 is plugged into charging connector 17 it opens the series circuit there through created by a normally closed contact (not shown in FIG. 1) and applies the d.c. voltage to capacitor 15 to charge it. A schematic of the circuit for ball 10 is shown in FIG. 2 and is described further in this detailed description.

[0019] After ends of tubing 12 are fastened to openings 22 and 23, module 13 is inserted into PVC tubing 12 using a long slender rod like tool (not shown) to push module 13 into tuning 12, expanding the tubing as seen in FIG. 1, until module 13 is in the center of ball 10 as shown. With module 13 located in the center of ball 10 the wires are long enough that connector 17 is still outside ball 10. The wires, not shown in FIG. 1 but shown and described with reference to FIG. 2, connecting module 13 to connector 17 are positioned alongside the tool at the time of installation and the diameter of the tool is small enough not to interfere with or damage the wires or connector 17 during installation of module 13.

[0020] After module 13 is inserted into tubing 12 to the center of ball 10, connector 17 is then inserted into opening 22 with some adhesive (not shown) to permanently attached it to ball 10 such that the entrance to charging connector 17 is flush with the surface of ball 10. A small amount of adhesive 23 may also be inserted through opening 23 to be in contact with module 13, as shown, to assure that it stays positioned in the center of ball 10. The use of charging connector 17 sealed into opening 22 and creating a sealed, hollow compartment internal to ball 10 using tubing 12 and sealant 23 creates a game ball that is impervious to water and can be used for play in the water.

[0021] An on-off switch may be implemented, without changing the design of ball 10 described above, so batteries 15 may be charged and ball 10 be put away, or to preserve any remaining charge in batteries 15 following a use of ball 10. Such a switch is implemented by using a dummy plug (not shown) that is identical to the dimensions of plug 19, but has no charger associated therewith. When this dummy plug, which may be a real plug or a dummy one made from plastic, is inserted into charging connector 17 the series circuit described above is opened and batteries 15 cease discharging through LED 14. When it is desired to use ball 10 the dummy plug is removed from connector 17 closing the series circuit described above and batteries 15 commence slowly discharging through LED 14. Thus operation is better understood with reference to FIG. 2 and the following description thereof

[0022] FIG. 2 shows an electrical schematic diagram of illuminated ball 10. Module 13 is shown with capacitor 15, resistor 26 and LED 14. The wires 24 and 25 that connect charging connector 17 to module 13 are also shown. Finally, the details of charging connector 17 are shown.

[0023] As shown in FIG. 2 there is no charging plug 19 inserted into connector 17. Accordingly, there is a circuit starting at the uppermost terminal of capacitor 15, as shown in FIG. 2, and through wire 24 to flexible contact 17a in connector 17. As shown, a contact 17b is in electrical contact with contact 17a so the electrical circuit is extended therethrough and via wire 25 to the positive terminal of LED 14 in module 13. The circuit includes LED 14 and current limiting resistor 26 and is completed at the lowermost terminal of capacitor 15 as shown in FIG. 2. With this complete circuit current flows and LED 14 functions to emit light. When capacitor 15 is discharged the LED ceases to emit light.

[0024] When a dummy plug 19 is inserted into connector 17 it causes flexible contact 1 7a to be moved away from contact 17b thereby opening the circuit. No electric current flows and LED 14 does not emit light. The use of plug 19 permits capacitor 15 to be charged ahead of time and to retain its charge until ball 10 is to be used.

[0025] When plug 19 of battery charger 18 is inserted into connector 17 it pushes against flexible contact 17a moving it away from contact 17b opening the circuit. In this instance a portion of plug 19 called the tip has a negative potential thereon from battery charger 18 and this negative potential is connected via contact 17a and wire 24 to one terminal of capacitor 15. At the same time a portion of plug 19 called the sleeve and having a positive potential thereon from capacitor charger 18 is in electrical contact with terminal 17c. Current flows through the circuit in the reverse direction, through now forward biased LED 14 and resistor 26, and capacitor 15 is charged. Preferably capacitor 15 is a polarized capacitor, such as an electrolytic capacitor, having a positive and negative terminal, and it's positive terminal is connected to resistor 26 while its negative terminal is connected to contact 17a via wire 24.

[0026] While what has been described hereinabove is the preferred embodiment of the invention, one skilled in the art will appreciate that numerous changes may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. For example, two or more LEDs may be utilized, and/or additional LEDs may be strung out from module 13 to stretch from the center of the ball toward the surface of the ball. Alternatively, the module, charging plug and any additional LEDs (if any) may be pre-assembled inside the tubing before the whole assembly is inserted through an opening and guided into proper position using alignment rods.