Title:
SPINNING ILLUMINATED NOVELTY DEVICE AND ITS ASSOCIATED METHOD OF MANUFACTURE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A novelty item that spins reflective elements to produce a circular pattern of light. As the reflective elements spin, they receive and reflect light that is emitted by at least one light source. As the reflective elements reflect light from the light source, the reflective elements appear to be light sources themselves. Accordingly, as the reflective elements rotate, they produce a circular pattern of light. Since the reflective elements cannot always reflect light back into the line of sight of the observer, the reflected light in the created circular pattern of light seems to randomly change. By providing a novelty device that utilizes rotating reflective elements, a spinning pattern of light can be produced that is more interesting to observe and far less expensive to produce than similar devices that spin actual electric light sources.



Inventors:
Chernick, Mark (Woodinville, WA, US)
Nelson, Webb T. (Woodinville, WA, US)
Application Number:
10/188191
Publication Date:
01/08/2004
Filing Date:
07/05/2002
Assignee:
CHERNICK MARK
NELSON WEBB T.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63H33/22; (IPC1-7): A63H1/24
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CEGIELNIK, URSZULA M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LaMorte & Associates, P.C. (Yardley, PA, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. An illuminated assembly, comprising: a hub; a motor for rotating said hub; a plurality of arms extending from said hub; at least one light source supported by at least one of said plurality of arms; at least one reflective element supported by at least one of said plurality of arms, wherein said at least one reflective element receives and reflects light emitted by said at least one light source when said hub is rotated by said motor.

2. The assembly according to claim 1, further including a handle element for supporting said hub, wherein said motor is disposed within said handle.

3. The assembly according to claim 2, wherein said assembly has a single light source and multiple reflective elements.

4. The assembly according to claim 1, wherein said at least one light source is a light emitting diode.

5. The assembly according to claim 1, wherein said at least one reflective element is colored and reflects light of a predetermined color.

6. The assembly according to claim 1, wherein said at least one reflective element has a diffraction pattern printed thereon.

7. An illuminated assembly, comprising: a light source; a plurality of reflective elements; a motor for rotating said plurality of reflective elements around a central axis, wherein said plurality of reflective element receives and reflects light emitted by said light source as said plurality of reflective elements rotate about said central axis.

8. The assembly according to claim 7, wherein said light source is mounted at a stationary point along said central axis.

9. The assembly according to claim 7, wherein said light source is rotated about said central axis by said motor.

10. The assembly according to claim 7, further including a plurality of arms that are rotated by said motor, wherein said reflective elements are supported by at least some of said arms.

11. The assembly according to claim 10, wherein said light source is supported by one of said arms.

12. The assembly according to claim 7, further including a handle element, wherein said motor is disposed within said handle element.

13. The assembly according to claim 7, wherein said assembly has a single light source and multiple reflective elements.

14. The assembly according to claim 7, wherein said light source is a light emitting diode.

15. The assembly according to claim 7, wherein said at least one of said reflective elements is colored and reflects light of a predetermined color.

16. The assembly according to claim 7, wherein at least one of said reflective elements has a diffraction pattern printed thereon.

17. A method of producing a circular pattern of light, comprising the steps of: providing a hand-held assembly containing at least one light source and a plurality of reflective elements; rotating said reflective elements in a circular pattern, wherein said reflective elements receive and reflect light from said at least one light source while rotating in said circular pattern, thereby producing a circular pattern of light to a person observing said reflective elements as they rotate.

18. The method according to claim 17, further including the step of rotating said at least one light source in a circular pattern.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] The present invention relates to illuminated novelty devices that are used to produce observable patterns of light during low light conditions. More particularly, the present invention relates to such novelty devices where the observed pattern of light is produced from an array of spinning light sources.

[0003] 2. Prior Art Statement

[0004] In the prior art, there are many different types of illuminated novelty devices that produce an observable pattern of light. Such devices are not used for the purposes of illumination, like a flashlight. Rather, such novelty devices are merely used to produce an interesting pattern of light that can be observed during low light conditions. Such novelty devices are commonly sold or distributed at events that are frequented by children and where there are low light conditions. Examples of such events include children's concerts, the circus, amusement parks at night, fireworks displays and the like.

[0005] There is a great variety in the types of illuminated novelty devices that exist. Some illuminated novelty devices use chemical luminescent light sources, where the observed light is created from a chemical reaction. Such chemical luminescent devices, however, cannot be selectively turned on and off once the chemical reaction has started. Furthermore, after a few hours, the chemical reaction ends and the novelty device is incapable of producing light. Furthermore, most chemical compositions used to produce light are toxic. Accordingly, the use of chemical luminescent novelty devices is inappropriate for many young children who may bite or teethe on the device.

[0006] Other types of illuminated novelty devices use batteries to provide power to either incandescent bulbs or light emitting diodes (LEDs). Often, to increase the interest of the pattern of light produced by the device, motors are used to move the electric light sources when they are illuminated. One popular type of illuminated novelty device is a device where multiple electric light sources are positioned at the tip of flexible arms. The flexible arms are attached to a hub that is supported by a handle. In the handle is a motor that spins the hub when activated. As such, when a user activates the motor, the hub spins and the lights at the ends of the arms illuminate. The result is a circular pattern of light that is interesting to observe especially in low light conditions.

[0007] A problem associated with spinning electric novelty devices is one of available power. The battery source used in the spinning novelty light is used to both rotate the lights and illuminate the lights. Furthermore, the more lights that are used, the more power is needed to both spin the lights and illuminate the lights. In order to save power and extend battery life, spinning novelty lights are often manufactured using low power, low output light sources. These light sources can therefore only be seen during very low light conditions. During normal lighting conditions, the lights from the low output lights can barely be observed.

[0008] A need therefore exists for a spinning novelty light that produces a high yield light, yet utilizes less power and can be manufactured at a lower cost than prior art spinning lights. This need is met by the present invention as described and claimed below.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0009] The present invention is a novelty item that spins reflective elements. As the reflective elements spin, they receive and reflect light that is emitted by at least one light source. As the reflective elements reflect light from the light source, the reflective elements appear to be light sources themselves. Accordingly, as the reflective elements rotate, they produce a circular pattern of light. Since the reflective elements cannot always reflect light back into the line of sight of the observer, the reflected light in the created circular pattern of light seems to randomly change.

[0010] The reflective elements can also be colored or contain refractive patterns. As such, when light is reflected from one of the reflective elements, the reflective light can be colored or appear to change color depending upon the angle of observance.

[0011] By providing a novelty device that utilizes rotating reflective elements, a spinning pattern of light can be produced that is more interesting to observe and far less expensive to produce than similar devices that spin actual electric light sources.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0012] For a better understanding of the present invention, reference is made to the following description of exemplary embodiments thereof, considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

[0013] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

[0014] FIG. 2 is a selectively cross-sectioned view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 1; and

[0015] FIG. 3 is an alternate exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0016] Referring to FIG. 1, a first exemplary embodiment of the present invention device 10 is show. The device 10 contains a handle 12. The handle 12 supports a hub 14. Arms 16 radially extend from the hub 14. In the shown embodiment, three arms 16 extend from the hub 14. However, it should be understood that such a number is arbitrary and any number of arms 16 can be made to radially extend from the hub 14.

[0017] In the shown embodiment, one of the arms 16 supports a light source 20 in a fixed position. The light source 20 can be an incandescent bulb, but is preferably a high-output light emitting diode (LED). The light emitted by the light source 20 can be any color, depending upon the type of bulb or LED selected. Although only one light source is specifically illustrated on one arm, it should be understood that more than one light source can be mounted on more than one arm.

[0018] Each light source 20 is held in a fixed orientation by an arm 16. As such, the direction of light emitted by that light source 20 can be readily determined. The other arms 16 that extend from the hub 14 are used to support at least one reflective element 22. The reflective elements 22 each have a reflective face surface 23. The face surface 23 of each reflective element 22 is oriented to receive light emitted by at least one of the light sources 20. Accordingly, each reflective element 22 receives light emitted from a light source 20 and reflects that light in a different direction. The reflective elements 22 therefore have the appearance of being light sources themselves as they rotate and produce a pattern of light to an observer. As the reflective elements 22 rotate, they do not always reflect light directly toward the line of sight of any particular observer. Rather, the reflective elements 22 will produce flashes of light to an observer as the reflective elements 22 spin. Accordingly, the circular pattern of lights created by the reflective elements 22 will appear to randomly flash and change as reflective elements 22 rotate.

[0019] The hub 14 rotates relative the handle 12. Accordingly, as the hub 14 rotates, the arms 16 extending from the hub 14 also rotate. As the hub 14 and arms 16 spin, current is directed to the light source 20. Consequently, the light source 20 illuminates and shines light against the reflective elements 22. The reflective elements 22 reflect the light to an observer. Thus, a device with only one or a few actual light sources can have the appearance of a device with many light sources.

[0020] The reflective elements 22 can be any reflective material capable of reflecting the light emitted by the light source 20. Metal foils and Mylar(TM) foils work well. The reflective elements can be colored or contain printed diffraction patterns that change color as a function of the point of observance. In this manner, the reflective elements 22 can reflect the light from the light source 20 in colors different from the color produced by the light source 20 and in colors that change as the reflective elements 22 spin relative an observer.

[0021] Referring to FIG. 2, it can be seen that in the handle 12, there is a port 25 for holding batteries 27. The power from the batteries 27 is used to both illuminate the light source 20 and rotate the hub 14.

[0022] The hub 14 is connected to a shaft assembly 24 that extends upwardly from the handle 12. The shaft assembly 24 contains a conductive inner shaft 26 and a conductive outer shaft 28. The inner shaft 26 and the outer shaft 28 are insulated from each other using spacers 30 that are disposed in between the inner shaft 26 and the outer shaft 28. The spacers 30 also act as bearings between the inner shaft 26 and the outer shaft 28. As such, the outer shaft 28 is free to rotate independently of the inner shaft 26.

[0023] In the hub 14, there is located a first connector 32 that spins around the inner shaft 26 and makes electrical contact with the inner shaft 26. In the hub 14 is also located a second connector 34. The second connector 34 is coupled to both the structure of the hub 14 and the outer shaft 28. Two leads extend from the light source 20. One lead from every light source is coupled to the inner shaft 26, via the first connector 32. Similarly, the second wire from each light source 20 is coupled to the outer shaft 28, via the second connector 34.

[0024] The inner shaft 26 is coupled to the battery port utilizing a wire pathway 38. The wire pathway 38 is disrupted by an on/off switch 40 that can be manually activated by a person holding the handle 12. Accordingly, a person holding the handle 12 can selectively control the on/off switch 40 and therefore can control the flow of electrical power to the inner shaft 26.

[0025] The opposite terminal of the battery port 25 is coupled to a wiping contact 42. The wiping contact 42 presses against the outer shaft 28 of the shaft assembly 24. Accordingly, when the on/off switch 40 is manually closed, a circuit is completed. The circuit starts at one terminal of the battery port 25 and then travels through the inner shaft 26 up to the light source 20. The circuit then returns to the opposite battery port terminal from the light source 20 through the outer shaft 28, via the wiping contact 42. It should therefore be understood that each time the on/off switch 40 is pressed closed, the light source 20 illuminates.

[0026] A drive gear 44 is disposed around the inner shaft 26. However, the drive gear 44 is not attached to the inner shaft 26 and therefore spins freely about the inner shaft 26. The drive gear 44 has a protrusion 46 that engages the spacer 30 between the inner shaft 26 and the outer shaft 28. Accordingly, when the drive gear 44 spins, the drive gear 44 turns the spacer 30, thereby turning the outer shaft 28. The outer shaft 28 is connected to the hub 14. Consequently, when the outer shaft 28 spins, the hub 14 spins. However, the connection between the gear hub 14 and the spacer 30 is only a friction connection. Accordingly, should the hub 14 be prevented from spinning due to contact with a foreign object, the drive gear 44 will still spin independently of the spacer 30. This friction interconnection acts as a clutch and prevents the drive gear 44 from becoming damaged should the spinning hub 14 ever suddenly strike an object and stop spinning.

[0027] The drive gear 44 is turned by a pinion gear 48. The pinion gear 48 is directly turned by the electric motor 50. Accordingly, when the electric motor 50 is activated, the motor 50 turns the pinion gear 48, that turns the drive gear 44, that turns the outer shaft 28, that turns the hub 14, that turns the arms 16.

[0028] The wire pathway that connects the electric motor 50 to the battery port 25 also passes through the on/off switch 40. Consequently, when the on/off switch 40 is pressed, power is supplied to the light source 20 and power is supplied to the motor 50 that turns the hub 14.

[0029] In the embodiment of FIG. 1 and FIG. 2, both the light source 20 and the reflective elements 22 spin. In order to provide power to the light source 20 as it spins, the assembly 10 requires the use of a complex shaft and wiping contacts, as has been previously described. To make the assembly less expensive, the light source 20 can be made to be stationary. This embodiment is shown in FIG. 3. Referring to FIG. 3, it can be seen that a plurality of light sources 60 are mounted to a stationary arm 62. The light sources 60 can emit light of the same color or different colors. A hub 64 is disposed around the base of the stationary arm 62. The hub 64 spins. However, when the hub 64 spins, the stationary arm 62 remains stationary. Since the stationary arm 62 supports the light sources 60, the light sources 60 can be directly wired to the power source within the handle 66 with a simple wire pathway. This eliminates the need for a wiping contact and insulated shafts.

[0030] The hub 64 that spins around the stationary arm 62 supports reflective elements 68. Each reflective element 68 has a reflective surface that receives and reflects light emitted by the light sources 60. Accordingly, as the reflective elements 68 spin around the light sources 60, the reflective elements 68 appear to an observer to be light sources that are producing a circular pattern of light as they spin.

[0031] In all the embodiments described, the reflective elements serve as virtual light sources. Thus, by using only one, or a few, real light sources and a plurality of reflective elements, a circular pattern of light having, what appears to be, many different source of light can be produced. Furthermore by using diffraction patterns on the reflective elements, a pattern of light with changing colors can be produced without the need for any electronic circuitry.

[0032] By reducing the number of real light sources used to create the circular pattern of light, power requirements are reduced. Furthermore, costs associated with wiring multiple light sources are removed. Accordingly, an illuminated novelty device is produced that uses less power and is cheaper to manufacture than prior art devices that do not use reflective elements.

[0033] It will be understood that the embodiments of the present invention specifically described and illustrated are merely exemplary and the shown embodiments can be modified in many ways. For example, the number of light sources, reflective elements and arms used in any one assembly can be varied in any manner by a designer. Furthermore, the appearance of the reflective elements can be varied. In the shown embodiment, the reflective elements have an oval shape. This shape can be varied into any shape including recognizable object shapes such as Mickey Mouse ears, dinosaurs and the like. All such alternate embodiments and variations are intended to be included within the scope of the claims as listed below.