Title:
PNEUMATIC DYNAMO FOR A PAINTBALL MARKER
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A paintball marker (12) has an air powered generator (10) to provide electrical power. A compressed gas conduit (18) is connected to the marker body (12) with compressed gas flowing therethrough. The gas flow is converted to electricity, such as by an impeller (52) that is mounted to a first end of a rotating shaft (48) with a magnet (50) mounted to a second end of a rotating shaft (48) with a coil (45) positioned proximal to the magnet (50) to create electricity upon rotation of the shaft (48) due to flow of compressed gas past the impeller (52). The created electricity can be used to power electrically powered components on board the marker (12) or recharge batteries (24) therein.



Inventors:
Monks, Steven John (Manchester, GB)
Wood, Jack Kingsley (Chesire, GB)
Application Number:
10/906373
Publication Date:
09/01/2005
Filing Date:
02/16/2005
Assignee:
PLANET ECLIPSE LTD. (Manchester, GB)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F41B11/00; (IPC1-7): F41B11/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KLEIN, GABRIEL J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BARLOW, JOSEPHS & HOLMES, LTD. (PROVIDENCE, RI, US)
Claims:
1. An electrical power generator for a paintball marker having a compressed gas inlet to receive compressed gas from a compressed gas source, comprising: a body having a fluid inlet and a fluid outlet, the body disposed between said compressed gas source and the compressed gas inlet, the fluid inlet being in fluid communication with the fluid outlet by a fluid passage, the fluid passage being in fluid communication with the compressed gas source and the compressed gas inlet; a shaft rotatably connected to the body; means for rotating the shaft; the means for rotating the shaft being disposed within the fluid passage; a magnet mounted to the shaft; and a coil mounted to the body and adjacent to said magnet; the coil producing electricity in response to the rotation of said shaft and said magnet upon passage of compressed gas through the fluid passage.

2. The electrical power generator of claim 1, wherein the means for rotating the shaft is an impeller.

3. The electrical power generator of claim 1, further comprising: means for controlling electricity produced by the coil.

4. The electrical power generator of claim 1, wherein the magnet is a permanent magnet.

5. A generator for a paintball marker comprising: a body having a fluid inlet and a fluid outlet, said fluid inlet being in fluid communication with said fluid outlet by a fluid passage; a rotor rotatably mounted within said body and in communication with the fluid passage, the rotor being rotatable in response to fluid flow through the fluid passage; a stator mounted adjacent to said rotor to produce electricity in response to the rotation of said rotor.

6. The generator of claim 5, further comprising: means for controlling electricity produced by the coil.

7. A paintball marker, comprising: a paintball marker body; a compressed gas conduit connected to the marker body; compressed gas being flowable therethrough; and means for converting the flow of compressed gas through the compressed gas conduit into electricity with an electrical output; the means for converting being in fluid communication with the compressed gas conduit.

8. The paintball marker of claim 7, wherein the means for converting is a stator and a rotor.

9. The paintball marker of claim 7, wherein the means for converting is an impeller mounted to a first end of a rotating shaft with a magnet mounted to a second end of a rotating shaft with a coil positioned proximal to the magnet to create electricity upon rotation of the shaft due to flow of compressed gas past the impeller.

10. The paintball marker of claim 7, wherein the means for converting is an impeller mounted to a first end of a rotating shaft with a coil mounted to a second end of a rotating shaft with a magnet positioned proximal to the coil to create electricity upon rotation of the shaft due to flow of compressed gas past the impeller.

11. The paintball marker of claim 7, further comprising: an electrically operated component having an electrical input; the electrical input of the electrically operated component being electrically connected to the electrical output of the means for converting.

12. The paintball marker of claim 11, wherein the electrically operated component is a paintball hopper connected to the paintball marker body.

13. The paintball marker of claim 11, wherein the electrically operated component is a rechargeable battery mounted within the paintball marker body and in electrical communication with the electrical output of the means for converting.

14. The paintball marker of claim 10, further comprising: a control unit electrically connected to the electrical output of the means for converting and the electrical input of the electrically operated component.

15. The electrical power generator of claim 10, wherein the magnet is a permanent magnet.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims priority to earlier filed U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/545,397, filed Feb. 17, 2004, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention generally relates to paintball markers. More specifically, the present invention relates to providing electrical power for a paintball marker

2. Description of the Related Art

Current paintball markers are typically powered by pneumatics where compressed air is used to operate various components of the marker. For example, compressed air is commonly used to control paintball loading by actuating a piston back and forth which is connected to a bolt assembly. Also, paintball launching is also carried out by blowing compressed air behind the paintball. In sum, compressed air is a readily available resource in current paintball markers.

Current paintball markers also use electronics for operation control. For example, many markers include an operating system that controls the operation of the markers, such as firing rate. Triggering can also be electronic in nature. A typical marker includes a 9 volt battery (e.g. rechargeable) for providing the necessary electrical power. Also, add-on components, such as hoppers, operate on electricity and, therefore, need a source of electricity.

As paintball markers become more complicated, they become more reliant on electronics while placing a larger load on the existing battery supply resulting in more frequent recharging and replacement of the battery. As can be understood, this is particularly problematic during game play.

In view of the foregoing, there is a need to provide an improved electrical source to supply power to a marker for effective operation thereof. There is a need to be able to recharge the onboard battery “on-the-fly” during game play so as to not interrupt paintball marker operation. There is a further need to supplement the electrical power in a paintball marker.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention solves the need for recharging a battery and prolonging the battery life of a paintball marker by providing a pneumatic dynamo to harness the compressed air source of the paintball marker and convert it to electricity for use therein.

A paintball marker built according to the teachings of the present invention has an electrical circuit for controlling one or more operations or features of the paintball marker, a compressed air source for powering one or more operations or features of the paintball marker, and an air powered generator placed inline with the compressed air source to generate electricity to power the electrical circuit and any other electrical needs of the paintball marker.

In view of the foregoing, an object of the present invention is to provide a pneumatic dynamo for converting readily available air flow to electricity for use by the paintball marker.

A further object is to provide a pneumatic dynamo that can recharge a battery or batteries used in a paintball marker.

Another object of the present invention is to provide s supplemental source of electricity to be used by electrically operated components within a paintball marker.

Yet another object of the present invention is to provide an inexpensive and compact pneumatic dynamo.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other features, aspects, and advantages of the present invention will become better understood with reference to the following description, appended claims, and accompanying drawings where:

FIG. 1 is a partial side view of a paintball marker using the preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of the preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a top cross-sectional view of an alternative embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a partial side cross-sectional view of the alternative embodiment of FIG. 3; and

FIG. 5 is a side cross-sectional view of the alternative embodiment of FIG. 3.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring now to FIG. 1, the preferred embodiment of the pneumatic dynamo of the present invention is shown at 10 integrated within a paintball marker 12. Paintball markers 12 are generally powered by compressed gas contained in a cylinder 14 and also typically have a hopper 13 for storage of paintball projectiles 15. A pressure regulator 16 is attached to the cylinder 14 to regulate the flow of compressed gas from the cylinder 14 and into a hose 18. The other end of the hose 18 is attached to the pneumatic dynamo 10. The pneumatic dynamo 10 is attached to a secondary pressure regulator 20. Compressed gas flows from the cylinder 14, through the pressure regulator 16, through the hose 18, into the pneumatic dynamo 10, into the secondary pressure regulator 20 via fluid passage 32 and into the paintball marker 12 to power the operations of the paintball marker 12 such as loading and firing paintballs. Such pneumatic operations of various components of a paintball marker 12 are very well known in the art and need not be discussed in detail herein.

While the compressed gas is flowing through the pneumatic dynamo 10, the compressed gas is harnessed to generate electricity. The present invention contemplates any type of structure or device that can convert air flow to electricity where that electricity is available to the paintball marker 12 for any of its electrical needs. This electricity is transferred through a first electrical wire 22 and, preferably, into a rechargeable battery 24, but it could be directly fed into an electrical circuit 26. Electrical wire 22 is shown as a pair of double lines to represent any type of electrical interconnection, which may include a single wire or more than two wires. Such electrical connection depends on the electrical design of the paintball marker 12. The battery supplies power to an electrical circuit 26 by means of a second electrical wire 28 (also represented as a pair of double lines). The electrical circuit 26 contains the logic necessary to electrically control any number of operations and features of the paintball marker 10. For example, some paintball markers 12 have hoppers 13 that have powered sorters to prevent jamming of the paintball projectiles 15. These types of powered hoppers 13, or other powered accessories, receive electrical power and control signals from the electrical circuit 26 of the paintball marker 12 through a third electrical wire 27 (represented as a pair of dashed lines).

Referring now to FIG. 2, a cross-sectional view of the preferred embodiment of the pneumatic dynamo 10 of the present invention is shown generally at 10. The pneumatic dynamo has a body 30. Within the body 30 is a fluid passage 32 having a fluid inlet 34 and a fluid outlet 36. The fluid inlet is connected to the hose 18 and the fluid outlet is connected to the secondary pressure regulator 20 of the paintball marker 12. The pneumatic dynamo 10 is thus positioned inline with the gas supply to the paintball marker 12 via supply cylinder 14. While it is preferred that the pneumatic dynamo 10 is located as shown in FIG. 1, if can be placed anywhere on or within the paintball marker 12 that has air flow.

Adjacent to the fluid passage 32 is a generator 40. The generator 40 has a stator 42 and a rotor 44. The stator has a coil 45 which is mounted adjacent to and about the rotor 44. The stator also has a pair of electrical leads 47 which are connected to the coil 45 and to an electrical connector 46. The electrical connector 46 is connected to the electrical wires 22 of the paintball marker 12. The rotor 44 includes a shaft 48, a magnet 50, and an impeller 52. Preferably, the coil 45 completely encircles the rotor 44 and magnet 50 therein, but other configurations are possible that are well known in the art.

The shaft 48 of the rotor 44 is rotatably mounted within the body 30 of the pneumatic dynamo 10. The magnet 50 is attached to one end of the shaft 48 and adjacent to the stator 42. The magnet 50 is, therefore, rotatably mounted within the generator 40 with the coil 45 positioned thereabout. The impeller 52 is attached to the opposite end of the shaft 48 and has a number of blades (or foils) 54. At least a portion of the blades 54, such as the free ends portions 54a, of the impeller 52, are interposed in fluid passage 32 such that the flow of the compressed gas through the fluid passage 32 pushes the blades 54 causing the impeller 52 to turn. The impeller 52 turning causes the shaft 48 to turn the magnet 50, which induces electricity in the stator 42. It is well known that rotation of a magnet relative to a coil winding creates an inductive effect to thereby create current flow through the coil. The size and configuration of the impeller 52, magnet 50 and the coil 45 can be modified to suit the desired electrical output. For example, the output can be designed to output a 9 volt supply, which is typically compatible with most paintball markers.

In an alternative embodiment shown in FIGS. 3 through 5, the shaft 48 of the rotor 44 is completely disposed within the fluid passage 32. Also the coil 45 is wound about an iron ring 49 positioned adjacent to the magnet 50 of the rotor 44. The coil 45 in this embodiment is also wound into two separate windings disposed opposite each other on the iron ring 49. As described earlier, many variations in the components are well known in the art for creating electrical induction in a wire by means of rotating a magnet relative to a coil. Alternatively, the coil 45 may be mounted to the shaft 48 with the magnet 50 positioned adjacent thereto. As the shaft 48 rotates, the coil 45 is rotated adjacent to the magnet inducing electricity in the coil 45.

Although the pneumatic dynamo 10 of the present invention has been described as a separate component that may be connected or disconnected to the paintball marker 12 as desired, the present invention may easily be integrated into the overall structure of the paintball marker 12 as a permanent component. As stated above, it may be positioned anywhere in the paintball marker 12 where there is gas flow or even in a separate pneumatic flow circuit. The present invention is shown to use an impeller structure 5 to rotate a shaft 48. However, other structures may be employed, such as a plunger with linear or reciprocating movement. In general, movement of a magnet relative to a coil is carried out to generate the required electricity. For example, the magnet may be stationary while the coil is moved. Moreover, an electrical circuit may also be provided for conditioning the electrical signal that has been induced.

Further, an LED or LCD display may be provided to monitor the operation of the pneumatic dynamo 10 and the paintball marker 12. Optional control elements that interface with the paintball marker 12 and/or pneumatic dynamo 10 may include buttons or levers to modify settings within the marker 10 or an interface means so that the marker 10 can be monitored by a remote device. Finally, the interface means may be through a wired connection or other wireless means that allow both monitoring and control of the marker 10 as well as allowing control programs to be downloaded into the marker 10 as desired.

While there is shown and described herein certain specific structure embodying the invention, it will be manifest to those skilled in the art that various modifications and rearrangements of the parts may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the underlying inventive concept and that the same is not limited to the particular forms herein shown and described except insofar as indicated by the scope of the appended claims.