Title:
Adjustable length connection arm for a magnetic construction toy
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The invention relates to an adjustable length connection arm for use in building toy geometrical structures. In the preferred embodiment, the adjustable length connection arm consists of a first member slidably and telescopically mounted to a second member and selectively positionable with respect to the second member. The ends of the connection arm each contain a captively carried magnet for magnetically coupling with a magnetizable body and the axial distance between the connection arm ends is selectively adjustable by selectively positioning a latch carried by the first member into captive engagement with any one of a multiplicity of axially spaced openings in the second member. Each of the multiplicity of openings is so dimensioned and proportioned to permit the latch to be releaseably and captively held in the opening. In another embodiment, the first member has external threads that engage the internal threads of the second member to permit the axial distance between the ends of the connection arm to be selectively determined by relative axial translation of the first member with respect to the second member.



Inventors:
Balanchi, Steven H. (Altadena, CA, US)
Application Number:
10/822335
Publication Date:
10/13/2005
Filing Date:
04/12/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63H33/04; (IPC1-7): A63H33/04
View Patent Images:
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20020058457Game call producing antler soundsMay, 2002Butler
20060270315Transformation toy and related productsNovember, 2006Campbell
20090203288Construction toy and education setAugust, 2009Aggar et al.
20010053652Multiple motion toyDecember, 2001Chou et al.
20070155280COMPOSITE TOYSJuly, 2007Patean et al.
20080274663CONFETTINovember, 2008Dial



Primary Examiner:
FRANCIS, FAYE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FREDERICK GOTHA, ESQ. (PASADENA, CA, US)
Claims:
1. An adjustable length connecting member for magnetically coupling with a magnetizable body in a magnetic construction toy comprising: (a) a first member having a distal end, a proximate end, and a longitudinal axis; (b) a first magnet captively carried by said first member adjacent said distal end; (c) a second member having a first end, a second end, and an axis of elongation co-linear with said horizontal axis where said first member is so mounted in telescopic relationship with said second member to permit relative bi-axial displacement of said first member with respect to said second member; (d) a second magnet captively carried by said second member adjacent said second end; and (e) adjustment means associated with said first member and said second member responsive to external force for selectively adjusting the axial distance between said distal end and said second end to a pre-determined axial length.

2. The adjustable length connection member recited in claim 1 where said adjustment means comprises a latch carried by said first member intermediate said distal and proximate ends, where said latch is radially displaceable with respect to said first member and where said second member has an axially extending void therein for telescopically receiving said first member and an axially extending passage communicating with said void for receiving said latch; said second member having a multiplicity of axially spaced and laterally extending openings communicating with said void and said passage, and where each said opening is so dimensioned and proportioned to captively hold said latch in fixed relationship with said second member thereby precluding axial displacement of said latch, where said latch upon sufficient radial displacement is releasable from captive engagement with said opening thereby permitting said latch to be displaced bi-axially such that the axial length between said distal end and said second end may be selectively adjustable.

3. The adjustable length connection member recited in claim 2 where at least one of said multiplicity of axially spaced and laterally extending openings is a serration.

4. The adjustable length connection member recited in claim 3 where said first member is cylindrically shaped and conically tapered adjacent said distal end and said second member is cylindrically shaped and conically tapered adjacent said second end.

5. The adjustable length connection member recited in claim 1 where said adjustment means comprises: (a) external threads extending at least in part axially between said distal and proximate ends of said first member. (b) internal threads extending at least in part axially between said first and second ends of said second member for engagement with said external threads to permit axial translation of said first member with respect to said member.

6. The adjustable length connection member recited in claim 5 where said first member is cylindrically shaped.

7. The adjustable length connection member recited in claim 5 where said first member is conically tapered adjacent said distal end.

8. The adjustable length connection member recited in claim 5 where said second member is cylindrically shaped.

9. The adjustable length connection member recited in claim 5 where said second member is conically tapered adjacent said second end.

10. A magnetic construction toy comprising in combination: (a) a magnetizable body; and (b) an adjustable length connection member for magnetically coupling with said magnetizable body, said adjustable length connection member comprising a first member having a distal end, a proximate end, and a longitudinal axis; a first magnet captively carried by said first member adjacent said distal end; a second member having a first end, a second end, and an axis of elongation; a second magnet captively carried by said second member adjacent said second end, where said first member is so mounted in telescopic relationship with said second member such that said axis of elongation is co-linear with said horizontal axis, and adjustment means associated with said first member and said second member responsive to external force for selectively adjusting the axial distance between said distal end and said second end to a pre-determined axial length.

11. The combination recited in claim 10 where said adjustment means comprises a latch carried by said first member intermediate said distal and proximate ends, where said latch is radially displacable with respect to said first member and where said second member has an axially extending void therein for telescopically receiving said first member and an axially extending passage communicating with said void for receiving said latch; said second member having a multiplicity of axially spaced and laterally extending openings communicating with said void and said passage, and where each said opening is so dimensioned and proportioned to captively hold said latch in fixed relationship with said second member to preclude axial displacement of said latch where said latch upon sufficient radial displacement is releasable from captive engagement with said opening thereby permitting the axial length between said distal end and said second end to be selectively adjustable.

12. The combination recited in claim 10 where at least one of said multiplicity of axially spaced and laterally extending openings is a serration.

13. The combination recited in claim 10 where said first member is cylindrically shaped and conically tapered adjacent said distal end.

14. The combination recited in claim 10 where said second member is cylindrically shaped and conically tapered adjacent said second end.

15. The combination recited in claim 10 wherein said adjustment means comprises: (a) external threads extending at least in part axially between said distal and proximate ends of said first member. (b) internal threads extending at least in part axially between said first and second ends of said second member for engagement with said external threads to permit axial translation of said first member with respect to said member.

16. The combination recited in claim 15 wherein said first member is cylindrically shaped.

17. The combination recited in claim 15 wherein said first member is conically tapered adjacent said distal end.

18. The combination recited in claim 15 wherein said second member is cylindrically shaped.

19. The combination recited in claim 15 wherein said second member is conically tapered adjacent said second end.

Description:

FIELD OF INVENTION

This invention relates to connection arms in a magnetic construction toy for building geometrical structures.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Connection arms in magnetic construction toys are rigid structures generally having magnets at the arm extremities for coupling with magnetizable bodies to form a geometric sculpture. The sculpture shape may be modified by replacing one of or a multiplicity of individual connecting arms with either longer or shorter connecting arms thereby creating a new visual impression. To modify the sculpture, therefore, requires the removal of a connecting arm that has a fixed length and replacement of that arm with one of a longer or shorter fixed length. Thus, the sculpture must be disassembled in part in order to create a modified visual impression and in some instances completely disassembled. Magnet bearing connecting arms in the prior art are rigidly constructed and because of their fixed length, limit the types of toy geometrical sculptures possible with fixed length connection arms. Also, the physical number of connection arms of varying length to permit a wide variety of sculptures substantially increases the costs associated with the manufacture and sale of magnetic construction toys.

It is therefore desirable to have connection arms that are adjustable in length to permit the original sculpture to be modified without disassembling the structure and thus permit a variety of visual impressions to be easily created without replacing or disconnecting any of the connecting arms defining the sculpture.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

There is, therefore, provided according to the present invention, a magnetic construction toy having connecting arms that are adjustable in length either before, during, or after a geometrical structure is built.

The present invention is directed to a magnetic construction toy having adjustable length connection members. In the preferred embodiment, the connection member consists of a first member having a distal end, a proximate end, and a longitudinal axis. A magnet is captively carried by the first member adjacent its distal end for magnetically coupling with a magnetizable body preferably having a spherical shape. The connection member includes a second member that has a first end, a second end, and an axis of elongation where the axes of the first and second members are collinear when the members are assembled. The first and second members when assembled are so mounted to permit relative telescopic movement between the first and second members such that the first member may be selectively displaced bi-axially with respect to the second. A magnet is also captively carried by the second member adjacent the second end for magnetically coupling with a magnetizable body. The axial distance, in the embodiments of this invention, between the distal end of the first member and the second end of the second member, is selectively adjustable by an adjustment means associated with both members where the adjustment means is responsive to an external force.

In the preferred embodiment, the adjustment means contains a latch that is carried by the first member a fixed axial distance from its distal end and located intermediate the distal and proximal ends of the member. The latch is radially displaceable with respect to the first member and biased by the resilience of the first member to return to a captive position with respect to the second member. The second member has an axially extending void therein for telescopically receiving the first member and an axially extending passage, communicating with the void, for receiving the latch and permitting axial movement of the latch when sufficiently displaced radially with respect to the second member. A multiplicity of axial spaced and laterally extending openings communicate with the passage and the void; each of the openings is so dimensioned and proportioned to captively hold the latch in fixed relationship with the second member to preclude axial displacement of the latch. Upon sufficient radial displacement of the latch, the latch is released form captive engagement with the opening, such release permits the latch to be axial displaced to another opening thereby permitting the axial length between the distal end of the first member and the second end of the second member to be selectively adjustable.

In another embodiment, the adjustment means consists of external threads extending at least in part axially between the distal and proximate ends of the first member that engage internal threads extending at least in part axially of the first and second ends of the second member. An external torque applied to the first or second members will cause axial translational movement of the members with respect to each other which permits the distal end of the first member to be selectively moved bi-axially with respect to the second member. The external thread of this embodiment is preferred to be a worm thread for engagement with the internal worm threads of the second member to provide frictional resistance to relative movement of the first and second members after the members are positioned to a selected axial length between their respective distal and second ends.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other features and advantages will become appreciated as the same become better understood with reference to the following specification, the claim and drawings wherein:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an embodiment of the adjustable length connection member of this invention in an assembled configuration.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the embodiment of this invention shown in FIG. 1 illustrating the first and second members of the adjustable length connection member.

FIG. 3 is a top view of the second member shown in FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view taken along the line B-B as shown in FIG. 3.

FIG. 5 is a side elevational view of FIG. 3.

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view taken along the line D-D as shown in FIG. 3.

FIG. 7 is a rear view taken along line E-E as shown in FIG. 3.

FIG. 8 is a front view taken along the line F-F as shown in FIG. 3.

FIG. 9 is a top view of the first member of the adjustable length member illustrated in FIG. 2

FIG. 10 is a cross-sectional view taken along the line H-H as shown in FIG. 9.

FIG. 11 is a side-elevational view of FIG. 9.

FIG. 12 is a cross-sectional view taken along the line J-J as shown in FIG. 10.

FIG. 13 is a front view taken along the line K-K as shown in FIG. 10.

FIG. 14 is an exploded perspective view of another embodiment of this invention illustrating the first and second members of the adjustable length connection member.

FIG. 15 is a partial cross-sectional side view of the adjustable length connection member in an assembled configuration.

FIG. 16 is a perspective view of a geometrical sculpture constructed with the adjustable length connection member illustrated in FIGS. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the preferred embodiment of this invention and illustrates an adjustable length connection arm 1 for a magnetic construction toy. The length adjustable connection arm 1 is composed of a first member 2 and a second member 3 which are mounted in telescopic slidable relationship to permit relative bi-axial movement of first member 2 with respect to second member 3. FIG. 2 illustrates first member 2 and second member 3 before being assembled.

Referring to FIG. 2, it can be seen that first member 2 has a longitudinal axis 4 and that second member 3 has an axis of elongation 6, where their respective axes are co-linear when the members are assembled. Adjacent its distal end 7, first member 2 captively carries a first magnet 8 for magnetically coupling with a magnetizable body 9 in constructing a geometrical sculpture (shown in FIG. 16).

In the preferred embodiment, first member 2 is made of a hard plastic material having sufficient resiliency to maintain a nominal equilibrium shape; however, a metallic material or other material having the property of resiliency to return to a nominal shape may also be used in the construction of either first member 2 or second member 3 or both.

The adjustable length connection arm of the of the preferred embodiment is selectively positionable to a predetermined length by the apllication of an external force to latch 12 that is carried by first member 2 at a fixed distance intermediate its distal and proximate end. Intermediate distal end 7 and proximate end 11 of first member 2, the latch 12 is carried by first member 2 at a fixed axial distance from distal end 7. Extending laterally from latch 12, as can further be seen in FIG. 9, latch 12 is abutted by shoulders 13 and 14 which are integral with latch 12. By radially depressing latch 12 from its nominal equilibrium position, latch 12 permits first member 2 to be selectively positioned with respect to second member 3 by sliding axially in telescopic relationship to a pre-determined location thereby selectively adjusting the axial distance of distal end 7 from second end 22 of second member 3. In the preferred embodiment, a longitudinal slit 16 extends axially from proximate end 11 of first member 2 and laterally; slit 16 permits latch 12 to be radially depressed by an external force such that the latch is resiliently biased to return to its nominal equilibrium position shown in FIG. 2. As can be seen in FIG. 2, slit 16 communicates with proximate chamber 17 which extends at least in part axially through first member 2; FIGS. 12 and 13 illustrate proximate chamber 17 communicating with slit 16 and in FIGS. 10 and 11, it can be seen that slit 16 extends at least in part axially from proximate end 11 of first member 2. The external structure of first member 2 adjacent distal end 7 is shown in FIG. 2 and FIG. 10. Both figures illustrate a conical taper 18 that partially envelopes first magnet 8 adjacent distal end 7 and that first magnet 8 is captively held within distal end 7.

By referring to FIG. 2, the structure of second member 3 can be seen to have an axially extending void 19 that is open at first end 21; Void 19 is cylindrically shaped and extends at least in part axially in the direction of second end 22. Adjacent second end 22, second magnet 23 is captively held within second member 3 which permits magnetic coupling with spherically shaped magnetizable body 9 (shown in FIG. 16). A conical taper 26 surrounds second magnet 23 at second end 22 as illustrated in FIG. 4. To permit latch 12 to be positioned axially with respect to second member 3, passage 24 communicates with axially extending void 19 and is also open at first end 21 which permits latch 12 and consequently first member 2 to be advanced bi-axially with respect to second member 2. Axially spaced openings 27 communicate with both axially extending void 19 and passage 24. Openings 27 are so dimensioned and proportioned that when sufficiently engaged by latch 12, latch 12 will be so held within opening 27 that further axial movement of first member 2 relative to second member 3 will be precluded. In the preferred embodiment, the multiplicity of openings 27 that communicate with passage 24 and axially extending void 19 are opposed serrations 28 and 29. however, openings 27 may be laterally extending slots communicating with void 19 and passage 24 or of other configurations so dimensioned and proportioned to captively hold latch 12.

Thus, to selectively adjust connection arm 1 in the preferred embodiment as shown in FIGS. 1-13, when first member 2 is in telescopic engagement with second member 3, latch 12 will be positioned in passage 24 and aligned for bi-axial displacement relative to second member 3. By sufficiently displacing latch 12 in a radial direction against the resilient bias force exerted by the cantilever displacement of first member 3 as permitted by slit 16, latch 12 is released from captive engagement opening 27; this permits latch 12 to be axially moveable with respect to second member 3 along passage 24. Any one of the multiplicity of openings 27 which are so dimensioned and proportioned to captively hold latch 12 may be selected to position latch 12 and consequently the axial distance between distal end 7 of first member 2 and second end 22 of second member 3 may be selectively determined. As is evident from the foregoing description, when latch 12 is in its nominal equilibrium position and in engagement with any opening 27, it will be captively held thus precluding bi-axial movement of first member 2 with second member 3.

Another embodiment of this invention is shown in FIGS. 14 and 15. In this embodiment, adjustable length connecting arm 11, and as in the embodiment described above, consists of a first member 21 and a second member 31 where first member 21 has a longitudinal axis 41 and second member 21 has an axis of elongation 61. FIG. 14 illustrates the embodiment before assembly and it can be seen that when assembled, axis 41 and axis 61 are co-linear.

As in the preferred embodiment, first member 21 has a distal end 71, and a first magnet 81 where first magnet 81 is captively carried within the first member adjacent its distal end 71. Distal end 7′ is also tapered conically as distal end 7 in the preferred embodiment and surrounds first magnet 8′. The conical taper 181 is a preferred structural end for first member 2′, however other designs such as a pyramid taper would be suitable. Likewise, second member 31 has a first end 211, a second end 221, a conical taper 261, and a second magnet 231, captively carried, as shown in FIG. 15 adjacent second end 221. Second member 31 has an axially extending void 19′ and is internally threaded with threads 201 so dimensioned and proportioned to engage external threads 51 (as can be seen in FIG. 15) to permit relative axial displacement between first member 21 and second member 31. In the illustrated embodiment of FIG. 15, external threads 51 are worm threads and internal threads 201 are also worm threads which when engaged provide sufficient frictional resistance to preclude relative movement between first member 21 and second member 31 bi-axially after first member 21 has been translated axially with respect to second member 31. The threads, however, may be of other configurations to permit axial displacement of first member 21 with respect to second member 31 and so constructed to permit sufficient frictional resistance to oppose axial movement after first member 21 and second member 31 have been selectively positioned relative to each other to a pre-determined axial distance between distal end 71 and second end 221.

While I have shown and described embodiments of an adjustable length connecting arm for a magnetic construction toy, it is to be understood that the invention is subject to many modifications without departing from the scope and spirit of the claims as recited herein.