Title:
Motorized toy wheel launcher for launching a toy wheel
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A motorized toy wheel launcher for launching a toy wheel is described. The motorized toy wheel launcher comprises a housing with a motor encased within the housing. The motor includes a rotor, with an actuator communicatively connected with the motor. A gear system including a plurality of gears is connected with the rotor. A driving element is connected with the gear system and configured to engage a receiving element of a detachably attachable wheel to form a drive connection. When the driving element engages the receiving element of the detachably attachable wheel, the detachably attachable wheel is rotatably accelerated in one direction, and wherein once the driving element ceases to accelerate the receiving element, the receiving element disengages from the driving element and releases the detachably attachable wheel, thereby causing the detachably attachable wheel to spin away from the motorized toy launcher.



Inventors:
Laurienzo, Dominio (Los Angeles, CA, US)
Vetuskey, Brendon (Van Nuys, CA, US)
Bui C. P. (Oak Park, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/181699
Publication Date:
03/02/2006
Filing Date:
07/13/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63H17/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20070105477Water-spraying yo-yoMay, 2007Wong
20080026667Enhanced flotation balloonJanuary, 2008Anderson
20090170395INTEGRATED REMOTE CONTROL AND STORAGE HOUSINGJuly, 2009Wai
20020094750Commemorative figurineJuly, 2002Perse
20090318053Miniature Figure with Lighting AssemblyDecember, 2009Tager et al.
20090108036Display Receptacle Unit for Dolls and Stuffed AnimalsApril, 2009Moore et al.
20020187720Geometric toy construction systemDecember, 2002Engle
20040121699Toy construction block and method of manufacturing sameJune, 2004Ladner et al.
20070135016Drawing set and method of using the sameJune, 2007Ihara
20100062680TOUCH SENSITIVE TOY SYSTEMMarch, 2010Giraldez et al.
20070022642Gesturing inflatable dollFebruary, 2007Hsu



Primary Examiner:
CEGIELNIK, URSZULA M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
TOPE-MCKAY & ASSOCIATES (MALIBU, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A motorized toy wheel launcher for launching a toy wheel, comprising: a housing; a motor encased within the housing and having a rotor; an actuator communicatively connected with the motor; a driving element connected with the rotor and configured to engage a receiving element of a detachably attachable wheel to form a drive connection, such that when the driving element forcedly engages the receiving element of the detachably attachable wheel, the detachably attachable wheel is rotatably accelerated in one direction, and wherein once the driving element ceases to accelerate the receiving element, the receiving element disengages from the driving element and releases the detachably attachable wheel, whereby upon actuation of the actuator, the motor spins the rotor to spin the driving element, thereby accelerating an attached detachably attachable wheel, such that de-actuation of the actuator causes the detachably attachable wheel to become disengaged from the driving element and spin away from the motorized toy launcher.

2. A motorized toy wheel launcher as set forth in claim 1, further comprising a gear system connecting the rotor with the driving element, the gear system including a plurality of gears.

3. A motorized toy wheel launcher as set forth in claim 2, further comprising a power source compartment attached with the housing, the power source compartment being configured to contain a power source therein and electrically connect with the power source to provide electricity to the motor.

4. A motorized toy wheel launcher as set forth in claim 3, further comprising a brake apparatus attached with the actuator, the brake apparatus formed to engage with the gear system such that as the actuator is actuated, the brake apparatus disengages from the gear system to provide for gear system operation, and when the actuator is de-actuated, the brake apparatus engages with the gear system to inhibit the gear system's operation.

5. A motorized toy wheel launcher as set forth in claim 4, wherein the housing includes a bottom portion and further comprises a surface switch attached with the bottom portion of the housing, with a portion of the surface switch extending beyond the bottom portion such that placement of the launcher upon a surface actuates the surface switch to electrically connect the motor with the power source compartment.

6. A motorized toy wheel launcher as set forth in claim 5, further comprising an actuator switch encased within the housing and connected with the actuator, such that actuation of the actuator actuates the actuator switch to electrically connect the motor with the power source compartment.

7. A motorized toy wheel launcher as set forth in claim 6, further comprising a driving element switch connected with the driving element such that attachment of a detachably attachable wheel with the driving element actuates the driving element switch to electrically connect the motor with the power source compartment.

8. A motorized toy wheel launcher as set forth in claim 7, wherein all three of the surface switch, actuator switch, and driving element switch are electrically connected such that actuation of all three provides for electrical connection of the motor with the power source compartment.

9. A motorized toy wheel launcher as set forth in claim 8, further comprising a tachometer connected with the gear system such that spinning the plurality of gears causes the tachometer to register a reading representative of rotational velocity of the rotor.

10. A motorized toy wheel launcher as set forth in claim 9, further comprising a sleeve and pivot bar positioned between the driving element and the driving element switch, the sleeve positioned around the driving element and being formed such that attaching a detachably attachable wheel with the driving element causes a depression of the sleeve, thereby causing the pivot bar to pivot and actuate the driving element switch.

11. A motorized toy wheel launcher as set forth in claim 10, further comprising a brake drum positioned between the gear system and the brake apparatus, such that as the actuator is actuated, the brake apparatus disengages from the brake drum and thereby the gear system to provide for gear system operation, and when the actuator is de-actuated, the brake apparatus engages with the brake drum and thereby the gear system to decelerate the gear system's operation.

12. A motorized toy wheel launcher as set forth in claim 11, wherein the driving element comprises two helical protrusions extending outward in parallel configuration from a shaft about an axis, the axis running parallel to and centered in the shaft, and wherein the receiving element of the detachably attachable wheel is similarly configured with two helical protrusions extending outward in parallel configuration about an axis, the axis running perpendicular to a rotational motion of the detachably attachable wheel, and wherein the two helical protrusions of each of the driving element and receiving element has an edge that runs parallel to the axis of the respective driving element and receiving element, such that the edge of the driving element rests flush against the edge of the receiving element, forming a drive connection which allows the rotation of the driving element to rotate the receiving element.

13. A motorized toy wheel launcher as set forth in claim 12, wherein the edge of the driving element and the edge of the receiving element are formed as matching interlocking shapes, such that when the edge of the driving element is matched with the edge of the receiving element, an interlocking drive connection is formed.

14. A motorized toy wheel launcher as set forth in claim 13, wherein the edge of the driving element and the edge of the receiving element are formed into a hook shape, such that when the hook-shaped edge of the driving element is matched up with the hook-shaped edge of the receiving element, an interlocking drive connection is formed.

15. A motorized toy wheel launcher as set forth in claim 14, wherein the housing includes a handle, and wherein both the handle and the actuator are formed such that a portion of the actuator protrudes from the handle for access by a user.

16. A motorized toy wheel launcher as set forth in claim 15, further comprising a wheel guard connected with and extending from the housing, the wheel guard forming a barrier between a portion of an attached detachably attachable wheel and a user grasping the handle.

17. A motorized toy wheel launcher as set forth in claim 16, further comprising a detachably attachable wheel for connecting with the driving element, the detachably attachable wheel having a receiving element formed to engage with and be rotatably driven by the driving element.

18. A motorized toy wheel launcher as set forth in claim 17, wherein the detachably attachable wheel is formed to be used with a device other than a motorized toy wheel launcher.

19. A motorized toy wheel launcher as set forth in claim 18, wherein the device other than a motorized toy wheel launcher is a hand launcher for launching the detachably attachable wheel.

20. A motorized toy wheel launcher as set forth in claim 1, further comprising a power source compartment attached with the housing, the power source compartment being configured to contain a power source therein and electrically connect with the power source to provide electricity to the motor.

21. A motorized toy wheel launcher as set forth in claim 2, further comprising a brake apparatus attached with the actuator, the brake apparatus formed to engage with the gear system such that as the actuator is actuated, the brake apparatus disengages from the gear system to provide for gear system operation, and when the actuator is de-actuated, the brake apparatus engages with the gear system to inhibit the gear system's operation.

22. A motorized toy wheel launcher as set forth in claim 1, wherein the housing includes a bottom portion and further comprises a surface switch attached with the bottom portion of the housing, with a portion of the surface switch extending beyond the bottom portion such that placement of the launcher upon a surface actuates the surface switch to electrically connect the motor with the power source compartment.

23. A motorized toy wheel launcher as set forth in claim 1, further comprising an actuator switch encased within the housing and connected with the actuator, such that actuation of the actuator actuates the actuator switch to electrically connect the motor with the power source compartment.

24. A motorized toy wheel launcher as set forth in claim 1, further comprising a driving element switch connected with the driving element such that attachment of a detachably attachable wheel with the driving element actuates the driving element switch to electrically connect the motor with the power source compartment.

25. A motorized toy wheel launcher as set forth in claim 24, further comprising a sleeve and pivot bar positioned between the driving element and the driving element switch, the sleeve positioned around the driving element and being formed such that attaching a detachably attachable wheel with the driving element causes a depression of the sleeve, thereby causing the pivot bar to pivot and actuate the driving element switch.

26. A motorized toy wheel launcher as set forth in claim 2, further comprising a tachometer connected with the gear system such that spinning the plurality of gears causes the tachometer to register a reading representative of rotational velocity of the rotor.

27. A motorized toy wheel launcher as set forth in claim 4, further comprising a brake drum positioned between the gear system and the brake apparatus, such that as the actuator is actuated, the brake apparatus disengages from the brake drum and thereby the gear system to provide for gear system operation, and when the actuator is de-actuated, the brake apparatus engages with the brake drum and thereby the gear system to decelerate the gear system's operation.

28. A motorized toy wheel launcher as set forth in claim 1, further comprising a detachably attachable wheel for connecting with the driving element, the detachably attachable wheel having a receiving element formed to engage with and be rotatably driven by the driving element.

29. A motorized toy wheel launcher as set forth in claim 28, wherein the driving element comprises two helical protrusions extending outward in parallel configuration from a shaft about an axis, the axis running parallel to and centered in the shaft, and wherein the receiving element of the detachably attachable wheel is similarly configured with two helical protrusions extending outward in parallel configuration about an axis, the axis running perpendicular to a rotational motion of the detachably attachable wheel, and wherein the two helical protrusions of each of the driving element and receiving element has an edge that runs parallel to the axis of the respective driving element and receiving element, such that the edge of the driving element rests flush against the edge of the receiving element, forming a drive connection which allows the rotation of the driving element to rotate the receiving element.

30. A motorized toy wheel launcher as set forth in claim 29, wherein the edge of the driving element and the edge of the receiving element are formed as matching interlocking shapes, such that when the edge of the driving element is matched with the edge of the receiving element, an interlocking drive connection is formed.

31. A motorized toy wheel launcher as set forth in claim 29, wherein the edge of the driving element and the edge of the receiving element are formed into a hook shape, such that when the hook-shaped edge of the driving element is matched up with the hook-shaped edge of the receiving element, an interlocking drive connection is formed.

32. A motorized toy wheel launcher as set forth in claim 28, wherein the detachably attachable wheel is formed to be used with a device other than a motorized toy wheel launcher.

33. A motorized toy wheel launcher as set forth in claim 32 wherein the device other than a motorized toy wheel launcher is a hand launcher for launching the detachably attachable wheel.

34. A motorized toy wheel launcher as set forth in claim 1, wherein the housing includes a handle, and wherein both the handle and the actuator are formed such that a portion of the actuator protrudes from the handle for access by a user.

35. A motorized toy wheel launcher as set forth in claim 34, further comprising a wheel guard connected with and extending from the housing, the wheel guard forming a barrier between a portion of an attached detachably attachable wheel and a user grasping the handle.

36. A method for forming a motorized toy wheel launcher for launching a toy wheel, the method comprising acts of: forming a housing; encasing a motor encased within the housing, the motor having a rotor; communicatively connecting an actuator with the motor; connecting a driving element with the rotor, the driving element configured to engage a receiving element of a detachably attachable wheel to form a drive connection, such that when the driving element forcedly engages the receiving element of the detachably attachable wheel, the detachably attachable wheel is rotatably accelerated in one direction, and wherein once the driving element ceases to accelerate the receiving element, the receiving element disengages from the driving element and releases the detachably attachable wheel, whereby upon actuation of the actuator, the motor spins the rotor to spin the driving element, thereby accelerating an attached detachably attachable wheel, such that de-actuation of the actuator causes the detachably attachable wheel to become disengaged from the driving element and spin away from the motorized toy launcher.

Description:

PRIORITY CLAIM

This application is a non-provisional application, claiming the benefit of priority to provisional application No. 60/604,283, filed in the United States on Aug. 25, 2004, titled, “Wheel Spinning Launcher and Wheel Toy.”

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

(1) Field of Invention

The present invention relates to a toy launcher and, more particularly, to a motorized launcher for launching a toy wheel.

(2) Description of Related Art

Toy vehicles have long been known in the art. In playing with a toy vehicle, children typically roll the toy vehicle across a surface. As an enhancement to toy vehicles, motorized toy vehicle launchers have been devised that allow a user to rotationally accelerate the vehicles' wheels before releasing the vehicle, thereby sending the vehicle speeding across the surface.

While available for launching toy vehicles, no products have been disclosed that rotationally accelerate a wheel and launch the wheel alone. Thus, a continuing need exists for a motorized launcher that spins and launches a toy wheel.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION

The present invention relates to motorized toy wheel launcher for launching a toy wheel. The motorized toy wheel launcher comprises a housing, a motor, an actuator, and a driving element. The motor encased within the housing and includes a rotor. The actuator is communicatively connected with the motor. The driving element is connected with the rotor and configured to engage a receiving element of a detachably attachable wheel to form a drive connection, such that when the driving element forcedly engages the receiving element of the detachably attachable wheel, the detachably attachable wheel is rotatably accelerated in one direction, and wherein once the driving element ceases to accelerate the receiving element, the receiving element disengages from the driving element and releases the detachably attachable wheel. Upon actuation of the actuator, the motor spins the rotor to spin the driving element, thereby accelerating an attached detachably attachable wheel, such that de-actuation of the actuator causes the detachably attachable wheel to become disengaged from the driving element and spin away from the motorized toy launcher.

In another aspect, the present invention further comprises a gear system connecting the rotor with the driving element, the gear system including a plurality of gears.

In yet another aspect, the present invention further comprises a power source compartment attached with the housing. The power source compartment is configured to contain a power source therein and electrically connect with the power source to provide electricity to the motor.

In yet another aspect, the present invention further comprises a brake apparatus attached with the actuator. The brake apparatus is formed to engage with the gear system such that as the actuator is actuated, the brake apparatus disengages from the gear system to provide for gear system operation, and when the actuator is de-actuated, the brake apparatus engages with the gear system to inhibit the gear system's operation.

In another aspect, the housing includes a bottom portion and further comprises a surface switch attached with the bottom portion of the housing, with a portion of the surface switch extending beyond the bottom portion such that placement of the launcher upon a surface actuates the surface switch to electrically connect the motor with the power source compartment.

In another aspect, the present invention further comprises an actuator switch encased within the housing and connected with the actuator, such that actuation of the actuator actuates the actuator switch to electrically connect the motor with the power source compartment.

In another aspect, the present invention further comprises a driving element switch connected with the driving element such that attachment of a detachably attachable wheel with the driving element actuates the driving element switch to electrically connect the motor with the power source compartment.

In another aspect, all three of the surface switch, actuator switch, and driving element switch are electrically connected such that actuation of all three provides for electrical connection of the motor with the power source compartment.

In another aspect, the present invention further comprise a tachometer connected with the gear system such that spinning the plurality of gears causes the tachometer to register a reading representative of rotational velocity of the rotor.

Additionally, the present invention further comprises a sleeve and pivot bar positioned between the driving element and the driving element switch. The sleeve is positioned around the driving element and is formed such that attaching a detachably attachable wheel with the driving element causes a depression of the sleeve, thereby causing the pivot bar to pivot and actuate the driving element switch.

In another aspect, the present invention further comprises a brake drum positioned between the gear system and the brake apparatus, such that as the actuator is actuated, the brake apparatus disengages from the brake drum and thereby the gear system to provide for gear system operation, and when the actuator is de-actuated, the brake apparatus engages with the brake drum and thereby the gear system to decelerate the gear system's operation.

In another aspect, the driving element comprises two helical protrusions extending outward in parallel configuration from a shaft about an axis. The axis runs parallel to and centered in the shaft. The receiving element of the detachably attachable wheel is similarly configured with two helical protrusions extending outward in parallel configuration about an axis, with the axis running perpendicular to a rotational motion of the detachably attachable wheel. The two helical protrusions of each of the driving element and receiving element has an edge that runs parallel to the axis of the respective driving element and receiving element, such that the edge of the driving element rests flush against the edge of the receiving element, forming a drive connection which allows the rotation of the driving element to rotate the receiving element.

In another aspect, the edge of the driving element and the edge of the receiving element are formed as matching hook-shaped edges, such that when the edge of the driving element is matched with the edge of the receiving element, an interlocking drive connection is formed.

In yet another aspect, edge of the driving element and the edge of the receiving element are formed into a hook shape, such that when the hooked edge of the driving element is matched up with the hooked edges of the receiving element, an interlocking drive connection is formed.

In another aspect, the housing includes a handle, and wherein both the handle and the actuator are formed such that a portion of the actuator protrudes from the handle for access by a user.

In another aspect, the present invention further comprises a wheel guard connected with and extending from the housing. The wheel guard forms a barrier between a portion of an attached detachably attachable wheel and a user grasping the handle.

In yet another aspect, the present invention further comprises a detachably attachable wheel for connecting with the driving element, the detachably attachable wheel having a receiving element formed to engage with and be rotatably driven by the driving element.

Additionally, the detachably attachable wheel is formed to be used with a device other than a motorized toy wheel launcher. The device other than a motorized toy wheel launcher is a hand launcher for launching the detachably attachable wheel.

Finally, as can be appreciated by one in the art, the present invention also comprises a method for forming the motorized launcher described herein.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The objects, features and advantages of the present invention will be apparent from the following detailed descriptions of the various aspects of the invention in conjunction with reference to the following drawings, where:

FIG. 1 is a perspective-view illustration of a motorized toy wheel launcher according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 is perspective-view illustration of a motorized toy wheel launcher according to the present invention, illustrating locations of three cross-sectional views as shown in FIGS. 3, 4, and 5;

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view illustration of a motorized toy wheel launcher according to the present invention;

FIG. 4A is a cross-sectional view illustration of a motorized toy wheel launcher according to the present invention;

FIG. 4B is a blow-up, bottom-view illustration of a tachometer member shown in FIG. 4A;

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view illustration of a motorized toy wheel launcher according to the present invention;

FIG. 6 is a perspective-view illustration of a gear system according to the present invention;

FIG. 7A is a perspective-view illustration of internal components of the motorized toy wheel launcher according to the present invention;

FIG. 7B is a perspective-view illustration of internal components of the motorized toy wheel launcher according to the present invention;

FIG. 8 is a perspective-view illustration of a driving element according to the present invention;

FIG. 9 is a side-view illustration of a driving element and a corresponding receiving element according to the present invention;

FIG. 10 is a side-view illustration of the driving element coupled with the receiving element;

FIG. 11 is a perspective-view illustration of a detachably attachable wheel according to the present invention;

FIG. 12 is a top-view illustration of a motorized toy wheel launcher according to the present invention;

FIG. 13 is a bottom-view illustration of a motorized toy wheel launcher according to the present invention;

FIG. 14 is a left, side-view illustration of a motorized toy wheel launcher according to the present invention;

FIG. 15 is a right, side-view illustration of a motorized toy wheel launcher according to the present invention;

FIG. 16 is a front-view illustration of a motorized toy wheel launcher according to the present invention;

FIG. 17 is a rear-view illustration of a motorized toy wheel launcher according to the present invention;

FIG. 18 is a perspective-view illustration of an detachably attachable wheel, a hand launcher, and a strip for use with the hand launcher, according to the present invention;

FIG. 19 is a perspective-view illustration, illustrating how the detachably attachable wheel is launched and showing a launched detachably attachable wheel (in dashed lines);

FIG. 20A is a top-view illustration of a gear system inside the launcher housing, according to the present invention;

FIG. 20B is a bottom-view illustration of a gear system inside the launcher housing, according to the present invention;

FIG. 21A is an illustration showing the gear system in operation, where a strip is being inserted into the launcher housing;

FIG. 21B is an illustration showing the gear system in operation, where the strip is fully inserted into the launcher housing;

FIG. 21C is an illustration showing the gear system in operation, where the strip is being removed from the launcher housing and causing the detachably attachable wheel to begin spinning; and

FIG. 21D is an illustration showing the gear system in operation, where the strip is pulled through the launcher housing and the detachably attachable wheel is spinning and fully launched (in dashed lines).

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The present invention relates to a toy launcher and, more particularly, to a motorized launcher for launching a toy wheel. The following description is presented to enable one of ordinary skill in the art to make and use the invention and to incorporate it in the context of particular applications. Various modifications, as well as a variety of uses in different applications will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art, and the general principles defined herein may be applied to a wide range of embodiments. Thus, the present invention is not intended to be limited to the embodiments presented, but is to be accorded the widest scope consistent with the principles and novel features disclosed herein.

In the following detailed description, numerous specific details are set forth in order to provide a more thorough understanding of the present invention. However, it will be apparent to one skilled in the art that the present invention may be practiced without necessarily being limited to these specific details. In other instances, well-known structures and devices are shown in block diagram form, rather than in detail, in order to avoid obscuring the present invention.

The reader's attention is directed to all papers and documents which are filed concurrently with this specification and which are open to public inspection with this specification, and the contents of all such papers and documents are incorporated herein by reference. All the features disclosed in this specification, (including any accompanying claims, abstract, and drawings) may be replaced by alternative features serving the same, equivalent or similar purpose, unless expressly stated otherwise. Thus, unless expressly stated otherwise, each feature disclosed is one example only of a generic series of equivalent or similar features.

Furthermore, any element in a claim that does not explicitly state “means for” performing a specified function, or “step for” performing a specific function, is not to be interpreted as a “means” or “step” clause as specified in 35 U.S.C. Section 112, Paragraph 6. In particular, the use of “step of” or “act of” in the claims herein is not intended to invoke the provisions of 35 U.S.C. 112, Paragraph 6.

Note, the labels left, right, front, back, top, bottom, forward, reverse, clockwise and counter-clockwise have been used for convenience purposes only and are not intended to imply any particular fixed direction. Instead, they are used to reflect relative locations and/or directions between various portions of an object. As such, as the present invention is changed, the above labels may change their orientation.

Before describing the invention in detail, an introduction is provided to give the reader with a general understanding of the present invention. Next, a description of various aspects of the present invention is provided to give an understanding of the specific details.

(1) Introduction

The present invention relates to a motorized toy wheel launcher for launching a toy wheel. The toy wheel is a detachably attachable wheel that can be used with the motorized launcher and other devices, such as a hand launcher. For clarity, the present invention will be described in two sections, the first describing various aspects of the motorized toy wheel launcher, and the second describing use of the detachably attachable wheel with the hand launcher.

(2.1) Detailed Description of the Motorized Toy Wheel Launcher

The present invention relates to a motorized toy wheel launcher for launching a toy wheel. As shown in FIG. 1, the motorized toy wheel launcher 100 comprises a housing 102 formed of any suitably durable material, non-limiting examples of which include plastic and metal. An electrical motor (not shown in FIG. 1) having a rotor is encased within the housing 102. As can be appreciated by one skilled in the art, the motor is an electrical motor having a rotor. An actuator 104 is communicatively connected with the motor. A gear system (not shown in FIG. 1) is connected with the motor's rotor. The gear system includes a plurality of gears and is encased within the housing 102.

A driving element 106 is connected with the gear system. It should be noted that although a sufficiently powerful motor could be connected directly to the driving element, use of a gear system is desirable to increase a rotationally velocity of an attached wheel.

The driving element 106 protrudes from the housing 102 to engage a receiving element of a detachably attachable wheel to form a drive connection. The driving element 106 is formed such that when the driving element 106 forcedly engages the receiving element of the detachably attachable wheel, the detachably attachable wheel is rotatably accelerated in one direction. Once the driving element 106 ceases to accelerate the receiving element, the receiving element disengages from the driving element 106 and releases the detachably attachable wheel. Upon actuation of the actuator 104, the motor spins the rotor to spin the plurality of gears and the driving element 106, thereby accelerating an attached detachably attachable wheel. Additionally, de-actuation of the actuator causes the detachably attachable wheel to become disengaged from the driving element 106 and spin away from the motorized toy wheel launcher 100.

To enable a user to measure the rotational speed of an attached wheel, a tachometer 108 is connected with the gear system. The tachometer 108 is attached with the gear system such that spinning the plurality of gears causes the tachometer 108 to register a reading representative of revolutions per minute of the rotor.

Furthermore, an aiming sight 109 may be connected with the housing 102. The sight 109 can be permanently affixed, or connected using a hinge such that a user may flip the sight 109 up and down. In one aspect (shown in FIG. 1), the sight 109 is a screen formed of a translucent material, with a sight cross 110 printed onto the screen. In another aspect (not shown), the sight cross itself is formed to be hingedly attached with the housing 102.

Upon deceleration of the motor, the detachably attachable wheel becomes disengaged from the driving element 106 and is launched from the motorized launcher 100. To prevent the detachably attachable wheel from rolling backwards and coming in contact with a user, a wheel guard 112 is connected with and extends from the housing 102. The wheel guard 112 forms a barrier between a portion of an attached detachably attachable wheel and a user grasping a handle portion 114 of the housing 102.

Now turning to the interior of the mechanized launcher, in order to assist the reader in understanding the internal components of the mechanized launcher 100, as shown in FIG. 2, the mechanized launcher 100 is illustrated in FIGS. 3 through 5 in three cross-sectional views. As shown in FIG. 3, the housing 102 includes a handle 114 to allow a user to grasp the handle 114. The actuator 104 is formed such that a portion of the actuator 104 protrudes from the handle 114 for access by a user. The actuator 104 is any suitable mechanism or device for initiating an electrical connection in a switch (e.g., actuator switch 300), a non-limiting example of which includes a trigger connected with the switch, such that depressing the trigger causes the switch to complete an electrical circuit. In another aspect (not shown), the actuator 104 is a wireless device allowing a user to remotely cause the switch to complete the electrical circuit.

A brake apparatus 302 is attached with the actuator 104. Additionally, a brake drum 304 is positioned between the gear system 306 and the brake apparatus 302. A brake spring 308 is connected with the brake apparatus 302 to force the brake apparatus 302 against the brake drum 304 when the actuator 104 is not in use. In other words, the brake apparatus 302 is formed to engage with the gear system 306 such that as the actuator 104 is actuated, the brake apparatus 302 disengages from brake drum 304 (and thereby the gear system 306) to provide for gear system 306 operation. When the actuator 104 is de-actuated (e.g., released), the brake apparatus 302 engages with the brake drum 304 and thereby the gear system 306 to decelerate the gear system's 306 operation.

Also shown in FIG. 3 is a power source compartment 310 encased within the housing 102. The power source compartment 310 is formed to provide a power source. For example, the power source compartment 310 may contain an electrical cord for attachment with an electrical outlet. However, the power source compartment 310 is desirably formed to contain a power source therein, such as batteries. Additionally, the power source compartment 310 is formed to electrically connect with a power source (e.g., batteries).

Because of the openly rotable nature of an attached spinning wheel, the motorized launcher 100 includes safety switches. First, the actuator switch 300 is encased within the housing 102 and connected with the actuator 104. Both the actuator 104 and actuator switch 300 are formed such that actuation of the actuator 104 causes the actuator switch 300 to complete an electrical circuit. Additionally, the housing 102 includes a bottom portion 312 with a surface switch 314 attached with the bottom portion 312. A portion of the surface switch 314 extends beyond the bottom portion 312 such that placement of the launcher 100 upon a surface actuates the surface switch 314 to complete an electrical circuit. Inclusion of the surface switch 314 prevents a user from launching a wheel while holding the launcher 100 in the air. As a safety measure, the surface switch 314 enables a user to launch the wheel when the launcher 100 is placed upon a surface. Additionally, as shown in FIG. 5 and discussed in further detail below, a driving element switch 500 is connected with the driving element 106 such that attachment of a detachably attachable wheel with the driving element 106 actuates the driving element switch 500 to complete an electrical circuit. The driving element switch 500 is an additional safety measure, meaning that the driving element 106 cannot be spun without a wheel attached thereto. As can be appreciated by one skilled in the art, the motorized launcher 100 can be formed with or without the safety switches described herein. However, it is desirable that all three of the surface switch 314, the actuator switch 300, and the driving element switch 500 be electrically connected such that actuation of all three provides for electrical connection 316 of the motor 318 with the power source compartment 310.

FIG. 4A illustrates the gear system 400. As shown, a motor gear 402 is attached with the rotor 403 of the motor 316 shown in FIG. 3. A driving gear 404 is attached with the motor gear 402 and the driving element 106 shown in FIG. 5. The driving element 106 and the driving gear 404 share the same axle 405. A brake gear 406 is attached with brake drum 304 through a common axle 407. Additionally, the brake gear 406 is connected with the driving gear 404, such that as the braking apparatus 302 applies a braking pressure to the brake drum 304, a braking pressure is applied to the driving gear 404 to decelerate the driving element 106.

The gear system 400 also includes a plurality of gears to operate the tachometer 108. Gear A1 is spun by the driving gear 404. Connected with the same axle 408 as gear A1, gear A2 spins gear B1. Connected with the same axle 410 as gear B1, gear B2 spins gear C. Gear C shares a common axle 412 with a tachometer member 414.

As shown in FIGS. 4A and 4B, the tachometer member 414 is connectable with a tachometer drum 416. As the tachometer member 414 is spun, a centrifugal force is created that causes tachometer member wings 418 to spin outwards and come in contact with the tachometer drum 416. A spring 420 is attached with the tachometer drum 416 to resist a rotational force. As the rotational speed of the tachometer member 414 increases, the centrifugal force increases to increase the pressure of the tachometer wings 418 against the tachometer drum 416, thereby increasing the rotation of the tachometer drum 416.

As shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, the driving element 106 shares an axle 405 with the driving gear 404 such that rotation of the driving gear 404 causes a rotation of the driving element 106. A sleeve 502 is positioned around the driving element 106. Additionally, a pivot bar 504 is attached with the housing 102 and connects the sleeve 502 with the driving element switch 500. Both the sleeve 502 and pivot bar 504 are formed such that attaching a detachably attachable wheel with the driving element 106 causes a depression of the sleeve 502, thereby causing the pivot bar 504 to pivot and actuate the driving element switch 500.

For further clarification, FIG. 6 illustrates a perspective view of the gear system. As shown in FIG. 6, rotation of the rotor 403 by the motor 318 causes the driving gear 404 to spin both the driving element 106 and the tachometer member 414. The tachometer member 414 is spun by spinning gears A1 through C, as shown. Alternatively, applying a braking pressure to the brake drum 304 causes the brake gear 406 to decelerate the driving gear 404 and ultimately the driving element 106.

FIG. 7A illustrates another view of the internal mechanisms of the motorized launcher 100. As seen in FIG. 7A, the sleeve 502 is positioned around the driving element 106. Attaching a wheel with the driving element 106 causes depression 700 of the sleeve 502. A sleeve spring is attached with the sleeve 502 to force the sleeve 502 out and away from the pivot bar 504 when a wheel is not attached with the driving element. As the sleeve 502 is depressed 700 (by an attached wheel), the pivot bar 504 is forced away 702 from the sleeve 502 to actuate the driving element switch 500 and thereby allow for a mechanized rotation of the driving element 106. Also shown in FIG. 7A is the tachometer drum 416 with a tachometer needle 704 attached thereto. Shown in FIG. 7B is the tachometer member 414. As shown in FIG. 7B, the tachometer wings 418 are formed near the perimeter of the tachometer member 414 to allow the wings 418 to pivot outward when a centrifugal force is applied.

FIGS. 8 through 10 illustrate the specific design of one embodiment of the motorized launcher 100, including the driving element 106. The driving element 106 comprises two identical helical protrusions 800A and 800B, which extend outward in parallel configuration from a shaft 801 about an axis, such that the axis is running parallel to and centered in the shaft 801. The edges 802A and 802B of each of the helical protrusions 800A and 800B are formed into a hook shape.

FIG. 9 illustrates how the helical protrusions 800A and 800B of the driving element 106 are configured to match up with similar helical protrusions 900A and 900B on a receiving element 902. The helical protrusions 900A and 900B on the receiving element 902 extend outward in a parallel configuration about an axis, with the axis running perpendicular to a rotational motion of the detachably attachable wheel. The receiving element 902 is connected with an object (i.e., detachably attachable wheel) to be rotated (not pictured). In particular, the edges of the driving element 106 and the receiving element 902 are formed as matching interlocking shapes. As a non-limiting example, the hook-shaped edges 802A and 802B of the driving element 106 are configured to match up with the hook-shaped edges 904A and 904B of the receiving element 902, forming an interlocking drive connection. The interlocking drive connection, as illustrated in FIG. 10, allows a user to rotate the toy in any orientation and still maintain the interlocking drive connection between the driving element 106 and the receiving element 902.

Once the interlocking drive connection is made between the driving element 106 and the receiving element 902, the user can initiate the motor (shown in FIG. 2) to rotate the driving element 106 and thereby rotate the object (i.e., detachably attachable wheel) connected with the receiving element 902. When the user ceases the use of the motor, the gear system ceases to rotate the driving element 106. Once the driving element 106 ceases to accelerate the receiving element 902, the receiving element 902 disengages from the driving element 106 and releases the detachably attachable wheel from the interlocking drive connection. This occurs because once the gear system ceases to apply force to the driving element 106, the rotational velocity of the driving element 106 decreases immediately (also in part due to the braking apparatus). However, the velocity of the receiving element 902 is still maintained for a period of time sufficient to rotate away from the driving element 106 and disengage from the interlocking drive connection.

As shown in FIG. 11, the present invention also comprises a detachably attachable wheel 1100 for connecting with the driving element. As discussed above, the detachably attachable wheel 1100 includes a receiving element 902 formed to engage with and be rotatably driven by the driving element. As can be appreciated by one skilled in the art, the detachably attachable wheel 1100 is any rotationally driven object, non-limiting examples of which include a wheel and a disk.

For further illustration, FIGS. 12 through 17 show various viewpoints of the motorized toy wheel launcher 100. FIG. 12 is a top-view illustration; FIG. 13 is a bottom-view illustration; FIG. 14 is a left, side-view illustration; and FIG. 15 is a right, side-view illustration; FIG. 16 is a front-view illustration; and FIG. 17 is a rear-view illustration.

As can be appreciated by one skilled in the art, the present invention also comprises a method for forming the motorized toy wheel launcher described herein. The method comprises acts of forming a housing; encasing a motor encased within the housing, the motor having a rotor; communicatively connecting an actuator with the motor; and connecting a driving element with the rotor. Additionally, the method further comprises acts of forming and connecting each of the respective parts of the motorized launcher to enable it to perform the operations described herein.

(2.1) Detailed Description of the Hand Launcher

As noted above, the detachably attachable wheel 1100 described herein can also be used in other devices. Accordingly, the present invention also includes a hand launcher to launch the detachably attachable wheel 1100. As shown in FIG. 18, the present invention also comprises a hand launcher 1800 and a strip 1802 for launching the detachably attachable wheel 1100.

The hand launcher 1800 has a housing 1806 with an opening 1808 passing through the housing 1806. The housing 1806 also includes a top surface 1811 on which a driving element 106 protrudes. The driving element 106 of the hand launcher 1800 is the same as the driving element 106 of the motorized launcher 100. A handle 1814 is formed with the housing 1806 to allow a user to securely grasp the hand launcher 1800.

The strip 1802 (i.e., ripcord) has teeth 1816 on one side of its longitudinally extending strip like surface. The strip 1802 is formed to be passed through the opening 1808 in the housing 1806 and engage with gears therein.

As discussed above regarding FIGS. 8 through 10, the detachably attachable wheel 1100 includes a receiving element 902 that is formed to be attached with the driving element 106.

FIG. 19 illustrates the detachably attachable wheel 1100 being launched from the hand launcher 1800. The teeth 1816 of the strip 1802 engages with teeth on the gears (inside the housing) when the strip 1802 is inserted through the opening 1808 and into the hand launcher 1800 housing 1806. When the strip 1802 is pulled out 1900 of the housing 1806 it causes the gears (inside the housing) to rotate the driving element, with the driving element engaging with and rotating the receiving element of the detachably attachable wheel 110 so that the wheel 1100 spins 1902 and is launched from the launcher 1800 housing 1806. After being launched from the hand launcher 1800, the detachably attachable wheel 1100 spins away 1904 from the launcher 1800.

FIGS. 20A and 20B illustrate top and bottom-views respectively of a gear system 2000 inside the launcher housing 1806. As shown in FIGS. 20A and 20B, the inside of the housing 1106 includes a plurality of gears. In operation, the strip 1802 is inserted through the opening 1808 of the housing 1806 and into the gear system 2000. The teeth 1816 of the strip 1802 engage with the teeth on the gear D1. Working on the same axle 2002, the strip 1802 drives the combination of gears D1 and D2. The driving element 106 and gear E work together on the same axle 2004, such that the driving element 106 rotates in the same direction as gear E when Gear E is rotated.

Both the driving element 106 and gear D's rotation is slow when the strip 1802 is slowly inserted into the housing 1806. When the strip 1802 is pulled from the housing 1806, all the gears in the gear system 2000 work. When the strip 1802 is pulled from the housing 1806, Gears D1 and D2 rotate. Gear D2 drives gear E, which causes the driving element 106 to rotate. The gears will continue to rotate as the strip 1802 is pulled out of the housing 1806 and away from the gear system 2000. As discussed above, deceleration of the gears causes the detachably attachable wheel to spin off of the driving element 106 and away from the housing 1806.

FIG. 20A illustrates the correct position to operate the invention. A user holds the hand launcher 1800 in the user's left hand and pulls the strip with the user's right hand. In such a configuration, the strip passes along a top side of the gear system 2000. When held in the position shown in FIG. 20A, a stopper 2006 falls back and away 2008 from an inserted strip, allowing the strip to slide freely through the housing 1806.

Alternatively and as shown in FIG. 20B, when the housing 1806 is flipped over, the stopper 2006 will fall down 2018 to engage with the strip 1802. Through use of the stopper 2006, the strip 1802 can only be inserted into the housing 1806 from one direction, thereby only allowing a user to launch the wheel away from the user.

For further clarification, FIGS. 21A through 21D illustrate the launcher gear system in operation. FIG. 21A illustrates the strip 1802 with teeth 1816 being introduced to the gear system 2000. Through its plurality of gears, the gear system 2000 is attached with the detachably attachable wheel 1100. As shown in FIG. 21B, as the strip 1802 is inserted 2100 into to the gear system 2000, Gears D1 and D2 turn in a first direction 2102, while gear E turns in a second direction 2104. FIG. 21C illustrates the strip 1802 being removed 2106 from the launcher 1800, thereby causing the gear system 2000 to rotate the detachably attachable wheel 1100 in the first direction 2102. Finally, FIG. 21D illustrates the strip 1802 being pulled through the gear system 2000 to cause the detachably attachable wheel 1100 to launch and spin away from the launcher.

It should be noted that the gear system (for both the hand launcher and the motorized launcher) described herein references a specific gear configuration for illustrative purposes only, and that it is not intended to be limited thereto. As can be appreciated by one in the art, there are many gear system configurations that can be utilized to cause the detachably attachable wheel to become rotationally accelerated.