Title:
Amusement dispenser
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An amusement dispenser has a transparent storage housing, a transparent dispensing housing and a transparent discharge housing. A chamber in a reciprocated plunger receives articles from the storage housing, measures the number of articles to be dispensed and transports them from an inlet opening to an outlet opening where they fall into the discharge housing. The dispensing housing contains a return spring around a twist rod, used to reciprocate and rotate an inanimate object, and two opaque sleeves telescope to obscure the spring and twist rod from view. The articles free-fall through the discharge housing where they strike deflectors to cause random motions and make various noises.



Inventors:
Coleman, Thomas J. (Abingdon, VA, US)
William IV, Schlotter K. (Fredericksburg, VA, US)
Coleman, Princess Ann (Abingdon, VA, US)
Schlotter, Ann M. (Fredericksburg, VA, US)
Application Number:
10/335933
Publication Date:
07/08/2004
Filing Date:
01/03/2003
Assignee:
COLEMAN THOMAS J.
SCHLOTTER WILLIAM K.
COLEMAN PRINCESS ANN
SCHLOTTER ANN M.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
G07F11/44; (IPC1-7): B65H3/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
NOLAND, KENNETH W
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Clyde I. Coughenour (Woodbridge, VA, US)
Claims:
1. An amusement dispenser for dispensing articles comprising: a storage housing; a dispensing housing; and a transparent discharge housing; said storage housing having an upper end and a lower end with an outlet in said lower end; said dispensing housing having a first end and an inlet opening and a second end and a discharge opening; said discharge housing having an upper end and a lower end with an inlet opening in said upper end and a discharge opening at said lower end, a free-fall path in said discharge housing between said upper end and said lower end, and deflectors extending into said free-fall path to cause dispensed articles to take irregular random paths through said discharge housing in full view of an observer.

2. An amusement dispenser as in claim 1 including a reciprocal plunger in said dispenser housing; said plunger has a first end and a second end; means for reciprocating said plunger within said dispenser housing.

3. An amusement dispenser as in claim 2 wherein: said dispenser housing has a primary end cap on said dispenser first end and a secondary end cap on said dispenser second end; a traverse rod having a first end and a second end; said traverse rod first end is attached to said plunger second end; said traverse rod second end is attached to an inanimate object so as to reciprocate said inanimate object as said plunger reciprocates.

4. An amusement dispenser as in claim 3 wherein: said traverse rod is twist rod; said twist rod has an irregular shape that passes through a like shaped passage through said secondary end cap to permit reciprocation while causing rotation.

5. An amusement dispenser as in claim 2 wherein: said means for reciprocating said plunger is a plunger handle and plunger rod attached to said plunger first end.

6. An amusement dispenser as in claim 5 wherein: said plunger rod is prevented from rotation by a plunger guide.

7. An amusement dispenser as in claim 2 wherein: said means for reciprocating said plunger is a trigger attached to said plunger by a connecting rod.

8. An amusement dispenser as in claim 1 wherein: said deflectors extend into said discharge housing different distances and at different angles to vary the article travel path through said discharge housing.

9. An amusement dispenser as in claim 1 wherein: said deflectors are transparent so as to be invisible to an observer.

10. An amusement dispenser as in claim 1 wherein: said deflector materials and lengths are designed to produce different sounds as struck by free-falling articles.

11. An amusement dispenser as in claim 2 including: a vertical chamber in said plunger for measuring the number of articles to be dispensed.

12. An amusement dispenser as in claim 2 including: a spring in said dispensing housing for pressing said plunger toward said dispensing housing first end.

13. An amusement dispenser as in claim 2 wherein: said dispenser housing has a primary end cap on said first end and a secondary end cap on said second end; said dispensing housing is transparent; an opaque plunger sleeve is attached to said plunger second end; an opaque retainer sleeve is attached to said dispenser second end secondary end cap; said opaque plunger sleeve and said opaque retainer sleeve telescope with each other to obscure any components internal to said dispensing housing second end.

14. An amusement dispenser as in claim 4 wherein: said twist rod first end is attached to said plunger second end by a pin held by a pin holder to permit said twist rod first end to rotate at said plunger second end.

15. An amusement dispenser as in claim 3 wherein: said dispensing housing is transparent; an opaque plunger sleeve is attached to said plunger second end; an opaque retainer sleeve is attached to said dispenser second end secondary end cap; said opaque plunger sleeve and said opaque retainer sleeve telescope with each other to obscure any components internal to said dispensing housing second end.

16. An amusement dispenser as in claim 15 wherein: said traverse rod is a twist rod that has an irregular shape that passes through a like shaped passage through said secondary end cap to permit reciprocation while causing rotation.

17. An amusement dispenser as in claim 16 wherein: said twist rod first end is attached to said plunger second end by a pin held by a pin holder to permit said twist rod first end to rotate at said plunger second end.

18. An amusement dispenser as in claim 17 wherein: a vertical chamber in said plunger for measuring the number of articles to be dispensed. a spring in said dispensing housing for pressing said plunger toward said dispensing housing first end.

19. An amusement dispenser as in claim 18 wherein: said deflectors extend into said discharge housing different distances and at different angles to vary the article travel path through said discharge housing. said deflectors are transparent so as to be invisible to an observer.

20. An amusement dispenser as in claim 19 wherein: said deflector materials and lengths are designed to produce different sounds as struck by free-falling articles.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] An amusement dispenser visually dispenses confections in a fi-ee-fall random manner as they collide or are interrupted by deflectors as a character translates and rotates.

[0003] 2. Description of Related Art

[0004] The dispensing of confections by having the confections travel behind a transparent outer housing both upward, U.S. Pat. No. 4,560,086, issued 24 Dec. 1985 to I. Stol, and downward by gravity, U.S. Pat. No. 5,452,822 issued, 26 Sep. 1995 to D. Haymond and U.S. Pat. No. 6,234,344 issued, 22 May 2001 to T. Coleman et al, is old. R. Mann, U.S. Pat. No. 5,897,022, issued 27 Apr. 1999, teaches a transparent hopper with confections dispensed down a track or a pendular staircase or a bucket dump or parallel rods for different kinetic displays seen through a transparent panel during dispensing. D. Hart et al, U.S. Pat. No. 5,782,378, issued 21 Jul. 1998, teach an article dispenser having a transparent article storage area, a release mechanism and a transparent discharge housing wherein the articles fall by gravity and alternately contact and travel over angled plates having lower openings for the articles to pass through to a dispensing aperture.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0005] An amusement dispenser discharges articles such as confections from a transparent storage housing to a transparent discharge housing where the confections take a visible erratic free-fall path before exiting. An intermediate transparent dispensing housing contains an opaque measuring and dispensing mechanism that is manually controlled. A plunger is reciprocated between an inlet opening from the storage housing and an outlet opening to the discharge housing to dispense a measured amount of confection. A twist rod attached to the plunger translates and rotates a character as the confections are discharged. An opaque plunger sleeve is attached to or integral with the plunger and telescopes over a return spring, the twist rod and a stationary retainer sleeve that conceals the workings within the intermediate transparent dispenser housing.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0006] FIG. 1 is a side view of the dispenser in its at rest position.

[0007] FIG. 2 is a side view of the dispenser in its dispensing position.

[0008] FIG. 3 is a partial side view of a modification of the dispenser shown in FIG. 2.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0009] An amusement dispenser 1 displays and dispenses articles, such as candy or gum 12. The dispensing is preferably of more than one article that take an irregular free-fall drop path 31 due to deflectors 33 within a transparent vertical discharge housing 30. During article dispensing an inanimate object, such as a real or imaginary character 28, translates 16 and rotates 46 as the articles are dispensed. The dispenser 1 consists of a transparent housing in three unitary or united sections, a storage housing 10, a dispensing housing 20, and a discharge housing 30.

[0010] The storage housing is provided with an upper inlet opening having a lid 11 and a lower discharge opening 49. The articles 12 to be dispensed are placed within the transparent article storage housing 10 upper end by removing the input lid 11. A blocking guide 13 is provided at the base or lower end of the storage housing to guide the articles toward the discharge opening 49, that also serves as the dispensing chamber inlet.

[0011] Beneath the storage housing 10, the transparent dispensing housing 20 is placed to receive articles from the storage housing 10. A plunger 22 in the dispenser housing is used to measure and transfer the articles to the discharge housing 30. The dispensing housing 20 has an elongated hollow interior with a primary end cap 24 on a first end and a secondary end cap 29 on a second end. The opaque dispensing plunger 22 is reciprocal within the dispensing housing. The dispensing plunger can take any convenient shape with a cylindrical shape used for FIG. 1. The dispensing plunger is provided with a vertical chamber 23. The size and shape of the vertical chamber determine the number of given size articles that can be placed within the chamber. The plunger is reciprocated to and fro from an inlet opening 49 to a discharge opening 32 by pressing inwardly on a plunger handle 21, attached to a first end of the plunger, against spring 41 pressure applied to a second end of the plunger. The primary end cap is provided with a slot 48 through which a plunger rod 44 and plunger guide 45 pass. The rod has an irregular shape or the guide 45 thereon to prevent rotation of the rod and plunger and to maintain alinement of the vertical chamber 23 with the chamber inlet 49 and chamber outlet 32. With the spring pressing the plunger to the right, as seen in FIG. 1, toward the primary end cap 24, the vertical chamber is alined with the storage discharge opening and the dispensing chamber inlet 49. The lower right dispenser housing blocks the lower end of the vertical chamber so that the vertical chamber alone is filled with articles while at its right end extreme. When the plunger, and its vertical chamber, is pressed to the left end extreme against spring pressure, the vertical chamber becomes alined with the dispensing chamber outlet and upper discharge housing inlet 32. This alinement results in the articles being passed by gravity into the discharge housing 30. The left second end of the plunger 22, facing the secondary end cap 29, is integral with or attached to an opaque, hollow cylinder plunger sleeve 43 and is also attached to a traverse rod 27 first end that extends through the secondary end cap 29. The traverse rod is secured to the plunger by a pin holder 25. A rotary pin 26, secured to the pin holder, permits the traverse rod, in the shape of a twist rod, to rotate 46 as the twist rod is reciprocated 16 by the reciprocal movement of the plunger. The irregular shape of the twist rod, preferably a rectangular cross-section, allows it to pass through a like shape twist rod slot 47 in the secondary end cap. Due to the twist of the twist rod, reciprocal movement of the twist rod rotates the rod and an inanimate object on the twist rod second end, such as a character 28, to reciprocate and rotate it as the pin 26 rotates within the pin holder 25. The spring 41 is secured within the dispense housing 20 between the secondary end cap inner surface 42 and the pin holder 25. An opaque hollow cylindrical retainer sleeve 54 is integral with or attached to the inside surface 42 of the secondary end cap 29 and extends inwardly over the spring and twist rod to retain the position of the spring and to conceal the rod and spring from view within the transparent dispenser housing 20. The opaque plunger sleeve 43 is concentric with and preferably larger than the retainer sleeve 54 so that the plunger sleeve telescopes over the stationary retainer sleeve as the plunger 22 is reciprocated. The plunger sleeve and retainer sleeve combine to conceal the internal components within the left side of the dispensing housing from view throughout the dispensing process.

[0012] The articles 12 fall through the dispensing chamber outlet and discharge housing inlet 32 into the transparent discharge housing 30. In the discharge housing the articles 12 free fall through a vertical drop path 31 in full view of an observer. During the free fall, the articles collide with deflectors 33 that protrude into the discharge housing interior. The deflectors interrupt the downward movement of the articles and give the articles a random irregular movement as they fall through the discharge housing. The deflectors can have different lengths 58 and angles 57 to vary the downward path of each article and give different articles different deflections or drop paths. The materials and thicknesses the deflectors are made of can be varied to yield different sounds using materials such as those found in music boxes and chimes. The deflectors can be transparent or less visible due to the relative light and/or color difference with the transparency of the discharge housing so that the observer cannot see why there is a direction change of the article. At the lower end or bottom of the discharge housing a discharge guide 35 directs the article to a discharge opening 36.

[0013] A second embodiment is shown in FIG. 3. This embodiment modifies the first embodiment by replacing the plunger handle 21 with a discharge trigger 51. The parts are all the same except for the plunger operating mechanism. This embodiment allows the Amusement Dispenser to be operated with the discharge housing 30 used like a pistol grip for pulling on the trigger 51. The trigger is secured to the discharge housing by a trigger pivot 52. The upper end of the trigger is secured to the left end, secondary end cap 29 end, of a connecting rod 56 by a rod pivot 53. The right end, primary end cap 24 end, of the connecting rod is secured to the dispensing plunger 22 by a dispensing plunger pivot 55. Pulling the lower end of the trigger toward the discharge housing pivots the upper end of the trigger away from the discharge housing about the trigger pivot 52 and the discharge plunger 22 to the left toward the secondary end cap 29. This movement shifts the vertical chamber 23 over from being under the inlet opening 49 to being over the outlet opening 32 and at the same time rotates 46 the inanimate object 28 and reciprocates 16 it. On release of the trigger, the spring 41 returns the plunger to the right primary end cap end 24 of the dispenser housing with the plunger pivot 55 and connecting rod 56 and trigger 51 keeping the vertical chamber in alinement with the dispensing chamber inlet 49 for again filling the vertical-chamber with articles.

[0014] It is believed that the construction, operation and advantages of this invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art. It is to be understood that the present disclosure is illustrative only and that changes, variations, substitutions, modifications and equivalents will be readily apparent to one skilled in the art and that such may be made without departing from the spirit of the invention as defined by the following claims.