Title:
Toy yo-yo with selective enhanced rotation
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A yo-yo includes a toy body formed by a pair of housings connected by a rotatable connecting shaft. The toy body includes a detecting unit that automatically detects the rotation of the toy body and a motor that rotates the connecting shaft on the basis of the detection result of the detecting unit. The detecting unit detects the direction of rotation of the toy body and actuates the motor to rotatingly drive the connecting shaft in the same direction as the direction of rotation of the toy body.



Inventors:
Osawa, Takashi (Tokyo, JP)
Choh, Jinsei (Tokyo, JP)
Choh, Jintei (Chiba, JP)
Application Number:
10/923962
Publication Date:
03/03/2005
Filing Date:
08/23/2004
Assignee:
OSAWA TAKASHI
CHOH JINSEI
CHOH JINTEI
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63H1/30; A63H1/06; (IPC1-7): A63H1/24; A63H1/28; A63H1/30
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MILLER, BENA B
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Snell & Wilmer L.L.P. (Irvine, CA, US)
Claims:
1. A yo-yo comprising: a toy body including a pair of housings and a rotatable connecting shaft connecting said pair of housings at their respective central axis; and a string connected to said connecting shaft and being windable around the connecting shaft, with one end of the string being fixed to said connecting shaft, wherein a reaction accompanying a rotation of said toy body is used to cause said toy body to move up and down, wherein said toy body includes detecting unit that detects the rotation of said toy body, and a motor that rotates said connecting shaft on the basis of the detection result of the detecting unit.

2. The yo-yo as claimed in claim 1, further including a transmission assembly that transmits the rotational force of said motor to said connecting shaft.

3. The yo-yo as claimed in claim 1, wherein said detecting unit detects the direction of rotation of said toy body and actuates said motor to rotatingly drive said connecting shaft in the same direction as the direction of rotation of said toy body.

4. The yo-yo as claimed in claim 3, wherein said detecting unit comprises fixed contacts disposed inside said toy body, two movable contacts that come into selective contact with the fixed contacts, and switch members that cause one of the two movable contacts to come into contact with the fixed contacts, the movable contacts being pivoted in the same direction as the direction of rotation of the toy body due to an inertial force of the switch members and a centrifugal force generated by the rotation of the toy body.

5. The yo-yo as claimed in claim 4, wherein said switch members comprise weight members, each of said weight members being made of a magnetic material.

6. A hand held string activated toy comprising: a rotable toy body; an elongated string movably connected to the toy body and operative to enable the toy body to rotate at one end of the string; a motor assembly operatively mounted to enable a selective rotation of the rotable toy body in one of a clockwise and counter-clockwise rotation; and a detector unit connected to the toy body for determining one of a static position and a rotational movement of the rotating toy body and activating the motor assembly to rotate the toy body in the same rotational movement when the rotational movement is detected and stopping the motor assembly when the static position is detected.

7. The hand held string activated toy of claim 6 wherein the detector unit includes at least one actuator weight member pivotally mounted in the toy body and a pair of movable contacts operatively mounted for selective contact with the actuator weight member to enable one of a clockwise and counter-clockwise rotation of the toy body.

8. The hand held string activated toy of claim 6 wherein the toy body has a releasable catch assembly operatively positioned adjacent the attachment of the string to the toy body whereby flexure of the string by the user during rotation of the toy body at one end of the string will enable engagement of the string with the releasable catch assembly to wind the string within the toy body.

9. A toy electromechanical yo-yo comprising: a hand holdable body member with a first and second housing interconnected by a connecting shaft; a reversible electric motor assembly operatively mounted within the body member for driving the connecting shaft; an elongated flexible member connected to the connecting shaft and controllable by the user whereby the body member can rotate relative to the elongated flexible member; and a detector unit mounted in the body member for automatically determining one of a static position and a rotational movement of the rotating body member and activating the motor assembly to rotate the connecting shaft in the same detected rotational movement when the rotational movement is detected and stopping the motor assembly when the static position is detected.

10. The toy electromechanical yo-yo of claim 9 wherein the detector unit includes at least one actuator weight member pivotally mounted in the body member and a pair of movable contacts operatively mounted for selective contact with the actuator weight member to enable one of a clockwise and counter-clockwise rotation of the body.

11. The toy electromechanical yo-yo of claim 10 wherein the body member has a releasable catch assembly operatively positioned adjacent the attachment of the string to the toy body whereby flexure of the elongated flexible member by a user during rotation of the body member at one end of the elongated flexible member will enable engagement of the elongated flexible member with the releasable catch assembly to wind the elongated flexible member within the body member.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to a yo-yo, and more particularly to a yo-yo configured to sustain selective rotation with a controllable motor system.

2. Description of Related Art

Generally, a traditional yo-yo includes a toy body that is formed by connecting a pair of discoid rotating bodies (housings) with a shaft body. A string is wound around the shaft body, so that when the toy body is lowered, the toy body rotates as the wound string is unwound, and when the toy body rises, the string is rewound around the shaft body due to the rotational force of the toy body. Thus, the yo-yo is an instrument of play that can repeatedly move up and down.

However, the rotation of the toy body reaches a maximum speed at the lowermost end, and sometimes if the rotational force becomes weak, the string cannot be rewound around the shaft body and the yo-yo cannot be made to rise and return to the user when the toy body is left as it is, so that youngsters and beginners who cannot successfully control the timing at which to make the yo-yo rise to rewind the string become unable to continuously play with the yo-yo because the rotation becomes too slow. A yo-yo that can improve the rotational force has been proposed. In this type of yo-yo, paths are symmetrically formed in the diameter direction of hollow disc bodies, a weight and a spring body are disposed in the respective paths, and the weight moves to an outer peripheral side to counter the spring body due to the rotational force of the hollow disc bodies, whereby the center of gravity of the hollow disc bodies is moved to the outer peripheral side and the rotational force is increased (see, Japanese Patent Application Laid-Open Publication No. 11-114232).

Although the aforementioned yo-yo can increase the rotational force and somewhat prolong the time period of rotation in comparison to a conventional yo-yo, the rotational force still ends up decreasing and the yo-yo can fail to arrive at a fundamental solution to the problem that conventional yo-yos have.

Thus there remains a problem, particularly with young children and inexperienced users that has not been adequately addressed in the prior art.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the present invention to provide an improved electromechanical yo-yo that solves the above-described problem by forcibly causing a connecting shaft to rotate in the same direction as the direction of rotation of the toy body and which can easily be manipulated by youngsters and beginners.

In order to solve the above-described problem, a yo-yo according to the present invention comprises a toy body that includes a pair of housings and a rotatable connecting shaft that connects the pair of housings. The toy body includes a detecting unit that detects the rotation of the toy body, and an electric motor that rotates the rotatable connecting shaft on the basis of the detection result of a detecting unit. The detecting unit detects the direction of rotation of the toy body and can actuate the motor to rotatingly drive the rotatable connecting shaft in the same direction as the direction of rotation of the toy body.

The detecting unit preferably comprises fixed contacts disposed inside the pair of housings, two movable contacts that come into selective contact with the fixed contacts, and switch members that cause one of the two movable contacts to come into contact with the fixed contacts, the movable contacts being pivoted in the same direction as the direction of rotation of the toy body due to the inertial force of the switch members per se and centrifugal force generated by the rotation of the rotating bodies.

According to the invention, when the toy body rotates, the detecting unit detects the rotation and direction of rotation of the toy body, and the motor automatically rotates on the basis of the detection result so that the rotation of the toy body is sustained. Thus, the rotational force of the toy body is forcibly sustained and is not damped, whereby the invention can provide a yo-yo that can be enjoyed by youngsters and beginners.

Additionally, the movable contacts are selectively brought into contact with the fixed contacts by the switch members that are pivoted by the inertial force of the switch members and centrifugal force generated by the rotation of the toy body. Each of the switch members comprises a weight member and the motor can cause the toy body to selectively rotate in the rotate in a clockwise or a counter-clockwise direction.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The objects and features of the present invention, which are believed to be novel, are set forth with particularity in the appended claims. The present invention, both as to its organization and manner of operation, together with further objects and advantages, may best be understood by reference to the following description, taken in connection with the accompanying drawings.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a yo-yo according to the invention;

FIG. 2 an exploded perspective view of the yo-yo;

FIGS. 3A to 3C are explanatory views of the internal configuration of the yo-yo and explanatory views of the operational mode thereof;

FIG. 4 is a block diagram describing the electrical configuration of the yo-yo;

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view describing a transmission mechanism of the yo-yo; and

FIGS. 6A to 6D are explanatory views of the use mode of the yo-yo.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Reference will now be made in detail to the preferred embodiments of the invention which set forth the best mode contemplated to carry out the invention, examples of which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings. While the invention will be described in conjunction with the preferred embodiments, it will be understood that they are not intended to limit the invention to these embodiments. On the contrary, the invention is intended to cover alternatives, modifications and equivalents, which may be included within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims. Furthermore, in the following detailed description of the present invention, numerous specific details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of the present invention. However, it will be obvious to one of ordinary skill in the art that the present invention may be practiced without these specific details. In other instances, well known methods, procedures, components, and circuits have not been described in detail as not to unnecessarily obscure aspects of the present invention.

FIG. 1 shows an example of an electromechanical yo-yo according to the present invention. The yo-yo comprises a toy body 4, which is formed by connecting a pair of discoid rotating bodies (housings) 1 and 2 with a connecting shaft 3, and an elongated flexible member such as a string 5 fixed, one end thereof, to the connecting shaft 3 connecting the rotating bodies 1 and 2. The other end of the string is held by the user. Similar to a conventional yo-yo, the yo-yo is configured so that one can play with the yo-yo by lowering and raising the toy body 4 to repeatedly unwind and rewind the string 5.

FIG. 2 shows an exploded perspective view of the yo-yo of the present invention. The rotating body 1 is configured by a case 6 and a cover 7, and the rotating body 2 is configured by a case 8 and a cover 9. The covers 7 and 9 are respectively fixed to the cases 6 and 8 with screws 10.

Connecting shaft housing portions 13 and 14 are formed in centers of the cases 6 and 8 so as to protrude towards back surface sides thereof. Convex-concave portions 15 are provided to enhance a releasable catching and retention of the string 5 and are formed at outer respective sides of the facing surfaces of the connecting shaft housing portions 13 and 14 to form a releasable catch assembly operatively positioned against the connecting shaft 3.

Struts 19, to which are fitted a battery housing 16, magnet retainers 17 and a motor housing 18, are formed at an inner side of the case 6. A detecting unit 20 that can detect the direction of rotation of the toy body 4, a motor 21, a transmission mechanism 22 that transmits the rotation of the motor 21 to the connecting shaft 3, and a secondary battery 23 are housed inside the case 6.

The detecting unit 20 comprises a first detecting assembly 20a and a second detecting assembly 20b that are disposed at symmetrical positions around the connecting shaft 3 inside the case 6.

The first detecting assembly 20a is configured by a fixed contact 25 disposed in close contact with an inner peripheral wall of the case 6, two movable contacts 26 and 27 disposed facing the fixed contact 25, and an actuator weight member 28 that constitutes a switch member and can selectively actuate the movable contacts 26 and 27. The second detecting assembly 20b is configured by a fixed contact 30 disposed in close contact with the inner peripheral wall of the case 6, two movable contacts 31 and 32 disposed facing the fixed contact 30, and an actuator weight member 33 that constitutes a switch member and can selectively actuate the movable contacts 31 and 32.

As shown in the block diagram of FIG. 4, the fixed contacts 25 and 30 are respectively connected to input terminals 21a and 21b of the motor 21. The movable contacts 26 and 31 and the movable contacts 27 and 32 respectively symmetrically disposed around the center of the case 6 are electrically connected, and the movable contacts 26 and 27 and the movable contacts 31 and 32 are connected to a positive terminal 23a and a negative terminal 23b of batteries 23.

Each of the weight members 28 and 33, which constitutes the switch member, is configured by a substantially square rod-shaped magnetic material, such as steel, whose ends are formed in circular arcs. Spindles 35 and 36 attached to the case 6 are passed through shaft holes 28a and 33a formed in rear ends of the weight members 28 and 33, so that the weight members 28 and 33 can pivot around spindles 35 and 36. When the toy body 4 is not rotating, as shown in FIG. 3A, the weight members 28 and 33 are in a stationary state where they are attracted, towards the center of the case 6, by the magnets 37 retained in the magnet retainers 17 formed in the case 6. When the toy body 4 rotates, the weight members 28 and 33 will rotate in the same direction as the direction of rotation of the toy body 4 to try to stay in that position due to an inertial rotational force, and are pushed against the movable contacts due to that centrifugal force (see FIGS. 3B and 3C).

When the toy body 4 (case 6) rotates in a counter-clockwise direction, as shown in FIG. 3B, the weight members 28 and 33 also pivot in a counter-clockwise direction around the spindles 35 and 36, so that front ends of the weight members 28 and 33 push the movable contacts 26 and 31 against the fixed contacts 25 and 30, and the fixed contact 25 and the movable contact 26 and the fixed contact 30 and the movable contact 31 become conductive. When the toy body 4 (case 6) rotates in a clockwise direction, as shown in FIG. 3C, the weight members 28 and 33 also pivot in a clockwise direction around the spindles 35 and 36, so that the front ends of the weight members 28 and 33 push the movable contacts 27 and 32 against the fixed contacts 25 and 30, and the fixed contact 25 and the movable contact 27 and the fixed contact 30 and the movable contact 32 become conductive.

As shown in FIG. 5, the transmission mechanism 22 that transmits the rotation of the motor 21 to the connecting shaft 23 is configured by a pinion gear 39 fixed to a rotating shaft of the motor 21 and a transmission gear 40. The transmission gear 40 is configured by a first spur gear 41 that meshes with the pinion gear 39 and a second spur gear 42 that is fixed coaxial with the first spur gear 41. Because the second spur gear 42 meshes with a gear 43 disposed around the periphery of one end of the connecting shaft 3, the connecting shaft 3 rotates via the pinion gear 39 and the transmission gear 40 when the motor 21 rotates.

As shown in FIG. 2, a cylindrical grove 44 around which the string 5 is wound is disposed around the center of the peripheral surface of the connecting shaft 3. The gear 43 that meshes with the second spur gear 42 is disposed around the case 6 side end portion peripheral surface of the connecting shaft 3. The connecting shaft 3 is sandwiched from both sides by shaft receivers 50 and 51 and is rotatably housed inside the connecting shaft housing portions of the cases 6 and 8 in a state where a hollow shaft body 52 has been inserted therethrough. A screw 54 is passed from the rear surface side of the case 6 through the shaft receiver 50, the connecting shaft 3 and the shaft receiver 51, and fastened with a nut 56 via a washer 55 from the rear surface side of the case 8, whereby a state where the cases 6 and 8 are connected by the connecting shaft 3 can be created.

With the cases 6 and 8 connected by the connecting shaft 3, the batteries 23, 23, the fixed contacts 25 and 30, the movable contacts 26, 27, 31 and 32, the weight members 28 and 33, the magnets 37 and the transmission gear 40 (41, 42) are housed inside the case 6. The motor housing 18 housing the motor 21 is fastened with screws to the struts 19, and the cover 7 is attached thereto with screws 10, 10. The cover 9 is fixed with the screw 10 after balancers 57 (see FIG. 5) for balancing the entire toy body 4 have been attached to inner peripheral wall surfaces of the case 8, whereby the yo-yo can be formed.

Next, an operational mode of the yo-yo of the above-described configuration will be described.

As shown in FIG. 6A, after the string 5 has been wound in a counter-clockwise direction around the connecting shaft 3, a person inserts his/her finger through an end portion of the string 5 tied in a ring and grips the toy body 4. Because the toy body 4 is stationary at this time, the weight members 28 and 33 are attracted to the magnets 37 and do not act on the movable contacts, and the motor 21 is not actuated.

Next, when the toy body 4 is strongly released downward, it rotates in a counter-clockwise direction and falls downward as the string 5 unwinds (see FIG. 6A). Because the rotation of the toy body 4 grows faster at this time, the weight members 28 and 33 are pivoted by an inertial force and a centrifugal force in the same direction as the direction of rotation of the toy body 4 (counter-clockwise direction), so that the movable contacts 26 and 31 respectively push against the fixed contacts 25 and 30 (see FIG. 3B). When the movable contacts 26 and 31 and the fixed contacts 25 and 30 respectively become conductive, as shown in FIG. 4, a current flows to the motor 21 in the direction of arrow a (called a forward current) and the motor 21 begins forwardly rotating. When the motor 21 forwardly rotates, the connecting shaft 3 rotates via the transmission mechanism 22. Thus, the connecting shaft 3 rotates due to the rotation of the motor 21 in addition to the rotation resulting from the inertia of the toy body 4, so that the toy body 4 can sustain its rotation. The activation of the motor is automatically performed by the controllable motor system without requiring any skill by the user.

In a state where the rotation is sustained, the string 5 can still catch on the string-catching convex-concave portions 15 formed at opposing surfaces of the cases 6 and 8 when flexure is imparted to the string 5 by the user's hand movement to provide an off-axis undulation in the same manner as a conventional yo-yo and, as shown in FIG. 6B, the toy body 4 rises upward towards the person's hand while the connecting shaft 3 rewinds the string 5 in a counter-clockwise direction. When the toy body 4 rises up to the person's hand and the person grips the toy body 4 with his/her hand, the rotation of the toy body 4 is forcibly stopped, whereby the centrifugal force acting on the weight members 28 and 33 ceases, the movable members 26 and 31 are freed because they are attracted to the magnets 37 and become stationary, the current to the motor 21 is blocked off and the motor 21 stops.

Next, when the toy body 4 is strongly released downward, it rotates in a clockwise direction and falls downward as the string 5 unwinds (see FIG. 6C). Because the rotation of the toy body 4 grows faster at this time, the weight members 28 and 33 are pivoted by an inertial force and a centrifugal force in the same direction as the direction of rotation of the toy body 4 (clockwise direction), so that the movable contacts 27 and 32 respectively push against the fixed contacts 25 and 30 (see FIG. 3C). When the movable contacts 27 and 32 and the fixed contacts 25 and 30 respectively become conductive, as shown in FIG. 4, a current flows to the motor 21 in the direction of arrow “b” (called a reverse current) and the motor 21 begins reversely rotating. When the motor 21 reversely rotates, the connecting shaft 3 rotates via the transmission mechanism 22. Thus, the connecting shaft 3 rotates due to the rotation of the motor 21 in addition to the rotation resulting from the inertia of the toy body 4, so that the toy body 4 can sustain its rotation.

When flexure is imparted to the string 5 in a state where the rotation is sustained, as shown in FIG. 6D, the toy body 4 rises upward towards the person's hand while the connecting shaft 3 rewinds the string 5 in a clockwise direction. When the person grips the toy body 4 that has risen up to the person's hand with his/her hand, the rotation of the toy body 4 is forcibly stopped, whereby the centrifugal force acting on the weight members 28 and 33 ceases, the movable members 26 and 31 are freed because they are attracted to the magnets 37 and become stationary, the current to the motor 21 is blocked off and the motor 21 stops.

When the toy body 4 that has returned to the person's hand is again thrown by the user, the toy body 4 rotates and falls downward and the motor 21 also begins rotating. Thus, as shown in FIGS. 6A to 6D, the toy body 4 can be moved up and down, and the motor 21 rotates to sustain the rotation of the toy body 4 in accompaniment with the up and down movement of the toy body 4. Thus, as long as the rotation of the toy body 4 is not forcibly stopped, the toy body 4 can be continuously rotated.

As described above, when the toy body 4 rotates, the weight members 28 and 33 are actuated by the inertial force and centrifugal force generated from the rotational force of the toy body 4, and the movable contacts are brought into contact with the fixed contacts to form the drive circuit of the motor 21. Thus, the rotation of the toy body 4 can be sustained by the rotation of the motor 21, and the toy body 4 can be manipulated without worrying about a drop in the rotational speed. Thus, a yo-yo appropriate for youngsters and beginners can be provided.

Those skilled in the art will appreciate that various adaptations and modifications of the just-described preferred embodiment can be configured without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention. Therefore, it is to be understood that, within the scope of the amended claims, the invention may be practiced other than as specifically described herein.