Title:
Device and method for containing projectiles
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Embodiments of the invention include devices, systems, and methods for storing and dispensing paintballs or other projectiles, as well as the projectiles and devices for firing the projectiles. The device or system containing the paintballs or projectiles may be opened by application of a force to an actuator remote from an opening through which paintballs or projectiles are passed.



Inventors:
Zambito, Gary F. (Collierville, TN, US)
Patterson, Christian (Memphis, TN, US)
Application Number:
10/992442
Publication Date:
05/18/2006
Filing Date:
11/18/2004
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
42/87
International Classes:
F41F1/00
View Patent Images:
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20020129804Paint ball reservoir with stiffener insertSeptember, 2002Dennis Jr. et al.
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20070017496Velocity Adjusting System and Method for Closed Bolt Paintball MarkerJanuary, 2007Hill Sr.
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Primary Examiner:
RICCI, JOHN A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Paul A. Revis (Collierville, TN, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A container for storing and dispensing paintballs comprising: a vessel with an opening; a closure device operable to selectively cover at least a portion of the opening; and an actuator coupled to the vessel; wherein the actuator is operable to move the closure device away from at least a portion of the opening by application of a force to the actuator at a portion of the container remote from the opening.

2. The container of claim 1 wherein the vessel has a generally cylindrical perimeter.

3. The container of claim 1 wherein the vessel has a generally frusto-conical portion adjacent to the closure device.

4. The container of claim 1 wherein the closure device is a hinged lid.

5. The container of claim 1 wherein the closure device when operated moves at least in part away from the plane of the opening.

6. The container of claim 1 wherein the actuator is coupled to the vessel by penetrating a portion of the vessel.

7. The container of claim 1 wherein the actuator is a rod extending from the closure device to a portion of the container remote from the opening.

8. The container of claim 1 wherein the actuator includes a generally annular grip extending substantially around the vessel.

9. The container of claim 1 wherein the force applied to the actuator is a linear force.

10. The container of claim 1 wherein the force applied to the actuator is a twisting force.

11. The container of claim 1 wherein a force may be applied to the actuator and a force may be applied to the closure device to move the closure device away from at least a portion of the opening.

12. A system for storing projectiles and for dispensing projectiles into a device operable to fire the projectiles comprising: multiple projectiles; a vessel with an opening, the vessel containing the projectiles; a closure device operable to selectively cover at least a portion of the opening; and an actuator operable to move the closure device away from at least a portion of the opening by application of a force to the actuator at a location remote from the opening.

13. The system of claim 12 wherein the multiple projectiles are paintballs.

14. The system of claim 12 wherein the closure device is a hinged lid.

15. The system of claim 12 wherein the closure device when operated moves at least in part away from the plane of the opening.

16. The system of claim 12 wherein the actuator is coupled to the vessel by penetrating a portion of the vessel.

17. The system of claim 12 wherein the actuator is a rod extending from the closure device to a portion of the container remote from the opening.

18. The system of claim 12 wherein the actuator includes a generally annular grip extending substantially around the vessel.

19. The system of claim 12 wherein the force applied to the actuator is a linear force.

20. The system of claim 12 wherein the force applied to the actuator is a twisting force.

21. The system of claim 12 wherein a force may be applied to the actuator and a force may be applied to the closure device to move the closure device away from at least a portion of the opening.

22. The system of claim 12 further comprising the device for firing the projectiles.

23. A device for storing and dispensing paintballs comprising: multiple paintballs; a vessel with an opening and an associated closure device, the vessel containing the multiple paintballs; and a means for moving at least a portion of the closure device away from the opening; wherein when the closure device is moved away from at least a portion of the opening the multiple paintballs may be poured from the device.

24. A method of dispensing projectiles from a container comprising the acts of: controlling the container; applying a force to an actuator portion of the container remote from an opening in the container; and removing one or more projectiles from the container.

25. The method of claim 24 wherein the act of removing the projectiles from the container includes pouring the projectiles from the container.

26. The method of claim 24 further comprising applying a second force to close the container when less than all of the projectiles have been removed from the container.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention is related generally to containing objects, and more specifically, embodiments of the present invention are directed toward containing or storing projectiles or to mechanisms or methods of dispensing projectiles.

BACKGROUND

Devices for firing projectiles are limited in their ability to store projectiles. Therefore, it is common to have secondary caches of projectiles available in some other container or storage device. With firearms, for example, a magazine or “clip” of ammunition is provided that is detachable from a weapon.

Another example is found in the sport of paintball. In the sport of paintball, the device for firing projectiles is sometimes called a “marker.” The marker has a reservoir in which a number of projectiles, or “paintballs,” are held prior to being fired from the marker. FIG. 1 illustrates a prior art marker 100 with a reservoir 101 that contains a number of paintballs 102.

Because many more paintballs may be used in the course of a paintball contest than can be stored in the reservoir 101 of the marker 100, players carry secondary caches of paintballs. Because the contest is played at a very fast pace, and because a player must always be aware of players on the opposing team who may shoot paintballs at the player, it is a significant advantage to be able to load paintballs 102 into the reservoir 101 of the marker 100 quickly, and to do so while maintaining concentration on the game.

One common type of secondary cache, or container, used by those skilled in the game of paintball is a called a “pod.” A pod is a generally cylindrical container with a hinged lid at one end. A pod of the prior art is typically opened by applying a force directly to the hinged lid. A prior art pod is therefore difficult to open with one hand because the one hand would have to be used to both grip the pod and apply a force to the hinged lid. While applying force to the lid, a player's grip on the pod tends to slip. Failure to grip the pod may result in dropping the pod and its contents. To ensure predictable opening, some players will grip the pod with one hand and pull open the lid with the other hand, or release the lid by hooking it on an article of clothing, the marker, or some other object. However, use of both hands or secondary objects reduces a player's ability to concentrate on the surrounding environment, removes his hands from his marker, and increases the amount of time required to load projectiles.

Many prior art projectile containers or caches for other types of firing devices are similarly lacking in their design to enable a user to quickly and efficiently store and deliver projectiles from a container or cache to the device operable to fire the projectiles.

SUMMARY

An embodiment of the invention is a container for storing and dispensing paintballs. The container may include at least a vessel with an opening and a closure device operable to selectively cover at least a portion of the opening. An actuator that is operable to move the closure device away from at least a portion of the opening by application of a force to the actuator at a portion of the container remote from the opening is coupled to the vessel.

Another embodiment of the invention is a system for storing projectiles and for dispensing projectiles into a device operable to fire the projectiles. The system may include at least multiple projectiles, a vessel with an opening, the vessel containing the projectiles, and a closure device operable to selectively cover at least a portion of the opening. The system may also include an actuator operable to move the closure device away from at least a portion of the opening by application of a force to the actuator at a location remote from the opening.

Still another embodiment of the invention is a device for storing and dispensing paintballs that may include at least multiple paintballs, a vessel with an opening and an associated closure device, the vessel containing the multiple paintballs, and a means for moving at least a portion of the closure device away from the opening. In some embodiments, when the closure device is moved away from at least a portion of the opening, the multiple paintballs may be poured from the device.

Yet another embodiment of the invention is a method of dispensing projectiles from a container. The method may include at least the acts of controlling the container and applying a force to an actuator portion of the container remote from an opening in the container. One or more of the projectiles may then be removed from the container.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an elevation view of a prior art paintball marker with an attached reservoir.

FIGS. 2A and 2B are elevation views of an embodiment of the invention in a first stage of actuation.

FIGS. 3A and 3B are elevation views of an embodiment of the invention in a second stage of actuation.

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of the embodiment of the invention illustrated in FIGS. 2A, 2B, 3A, and 3B.

FIG. 5 is an elevation view of a component of an embodiment of an actuator of the invention.

FIG. 6 is a plan view of a lid of an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view of the lid illustrated in FIG. 6.

FIG. 8 is a plan view of the embodiment of the invention illustrated in FIGS. 3A and 3B.

FIG. 9 is an elevation view of another embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 10 is an elevation view of another embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 11 is an elevation view of another embodiment of the invention.

DESCRIPTION

Referring to FIGS. 2A, 2B, 3A, and 3B, a container 1 for storing and dispensing paintballs is illustrated. FIGS. 2A and 3A show elevation views of a first side of the container 1, and FIGS. 2B and 3B show elevation views of a second side of the container 1 that is adjacent to the first side. The container 1 shown has a vessel 2 with an opening 3 and a closure device 4 or lid that is operable to selectively cover at least a portion of the opening 3. The illustrated vessel 2 has a generally cylindrical perimeter. However, the vessel 2 in some embodiments may have a square, triangular, or other alternately shaped perimeter. A generally frusto-conical portion 6 of the vessel 2 is shown adjacent to the closure device 4.

The illustrated embodiment shows a hinged lid serving as the closure device 4. In other embodiments, the closure device 4 may be a sliding mechanism, a pivoting mechanism, may have multiple components that cooperate to provide a closure, or may be of any other operable configuration to provide closure to the opening 3. The closure device 4 shown operates by moving at least in part away from a plane containing the opening 3. In other embodiments, the closure device 4 may operate to reveal the opening 3 by operation within the plane of the opening 3, or by some other mechanism or by movement in some other direction.

An actuator 5 is coupled to the vessel 2. As illustrated, the actuator 5 is a curved rod that penetrates a portion of the vessel 2. The penetration of the vessel by the actuator 5 is better illustrated in FIG. 4, which is a cross-sectional view taken through Section IV-IV of FIGS. 2A and 3A. FIG. 4 shows a terminal end 15 of the actuator 5 penetrating though the vessel 2 at hole 11. In some embodiments, the actuator 5 has a retaining mechanism (not shown) at its terminal end 15 to prevent the actuator 5 from inadvertently separating from the vessel 2. In other embodiments, the actuator 5 is coupled to the vessel 2 by other mechanisms that allow the actuator 5 to engage with the closure device 4 and open the vessel 2. Other coupling mechanisms include but are not limited to collars, hooks, retaining brackets, elastic connectors, intermediate third members, and the like. A particular configuration of the actuator 5 is shown in more detail in FIG. 5. The illustrated actuator 5 is a rod with an engaging end 20 and the terminal end 15 interconnected by a radial portion 10. The actuator is not necessarily a rod and does not necessarily take the illustrated shape. The actuator may be of any shape effective to remotely activate the closure device 4 to move the closure device 4 away from at least a portion of the opening 3. The terms “remote” and “remotely” as applied to the application of a force to an actuator of the invention mean that a force is not applied directly to a closure device. The closure device may be linked to the actuator and the force still applied remotely, but the closure device and actuator would not be integral components under the definition of a remote application of force as used herein.

As illustrated, the actuator 5 in operation moves the closure device 4 away from at least a portion of the opening 3 by application of a force F to the actuator 5 at a portion of the container 1 remote from the opening 3. FIGS. 2A and 2B show the closure device 4 covering the opening 3 in a first stage. FIGS. 3A and 3B show the closure device 4 moved outwardly away from at least a portion of the opening 3 subsequent to application of the force F to the actuator 5 in a second stage. The illustrated movement away from the opening 3 is movement away from the plane of the opening 3. When the force F is applied to the radial portion 10 of the actuator 5, a portion of the force is transferred through an engaging end 20 of the actuator 5 to the closure device 4 to operate the closure device 4.

The force F illustrated in FIGS. 2A and 2B is a linear force applied to the actuator 5. The force F may be applied by impacting the bottom of the container 1 against another object, such as but not limited to, a user's leg, the ground, or any object capable of supplying an opposing force. In other embodiments, the force applied may be a pulling force, a twisting force, a pushing force, a shearing force, or any other force capable of moving the closure device 4 away form at least a portion of the opening 3.

FIGS. 6 and 7 more particularly illustrate an embodiment of the closure device 4. FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view taken along Section VII-VII of FIG. 6. The illustrated closure device 4 has a hinge 24 and a catch 26. The catch 26 is configured to engage with a portion of the vessel 2. The catch 26 has a lip 27 that secures the closure device 4 to the vessel 2. However, sufficient force applied to the catch 26, or to a portion of the closure device 4 near the catch 26, will cause the closure device 4 to be moved away from the vessel 2. A portion of the closure device 4 near the catch 26 is shown in FIGS. 7 and 8 as actuator pad 28. Because the lip 27 of the catch 26 resists movement away from the vessel 2, potential energy is transferred to the closure device 4 when initially forced away from the opening 3. When the interference of the lip 27 with the vessel 2 is overcome, the potential energy is released, and the closure device 4 tends to move quickly away from the opening 3.

FIG. 8 shows a plan view of the embodiment of the invention illustrated in FIGS. 3A and 3B. The actuator 5 is shown coupled to the vessel 2. The terminal end 15, penetrating the hole 11, and the engaging end 20 of actuator 5, are visible through and above the opening 3 of the vessel 2. The closure device 4 is shown moved away from the opening 3 by movement about the hinge 24.

FIGS. 9 and 10 illustrate alternate embodiments of the invention. As shown in FIG. 9, a vessel 52 with an opening 53 has a closure device 54 and an actuator 55. The actuator 55 includes an annular grip 56 extending substantially around the vessel 52. In some embodiments, the annular grip 56 would not extend substantially around the vessel 52, but instead merely would supply some surface that a user could grasp or otherwise engage. The vessel 52 may be substantially the same as the vessel 2, or it may be altered to accommodate features of the alternate embodiments. The actuator shown includes a linkage 57 coupled between the annular grip 56 and the closure device 54. As shown, the linkage 57 is coupled to the closure device 54 through a pinned connection 58, and to the annular grip 56 through a pinned connection 59. Application of a force P on the annular grip 56 is transferred through the linkage 57 and applied to the closure device 54. The force P therefore moves the closure device 54 away from at least a portion of the opening 53. In various embodiments, the closure device 54 may or may not include a catch. In some embodiments, a catch is interposed between the annular grip 56 and the vessel 52. By selectively linking and moving the annular grip 56 with respect to the vessel 52, the closure device 54 may be held closed or held open with respect to the opening 53.

As shown in FIG. 10, a vessel 62 with an opening 63 has a closure device 4 and an actuator 65. The actuator 65 includes an annular grip 66 extending substantially around the vessel 62. In some embodiments, the annular grip 66 would not extend substantially around the vessel 62, but instead merely would supply some surface that a user could grasp or otherwise engage. The vessel 62 may be substantially the same as the vessel 2, or it may be altered to accommodate features of the alternate embodiments. The actuator shown includes a linkage 67 coupled between the annular grip 66 and a kicker 70. As shown, the linkage 67 is coupled to the kicker 70 through a pinned connection 68, and to the annular grip 66 through a pinned connection 69. The kicker 70 is coupled to the vessel 62 through a pinned connection 71. Application of a force P on the annular grip 66 is transferred through the linkage 67 to the kicker 70 to pivot the kicker 70 toward the closure device 4, and thereby force is applied to the closure device 4. The force P therefore moves the closure device 4 away from at least a portion of the opening 63. In various embodiments, the closure device 4 may or may not include a catch. In some embodiments, a catch is interposed between the annular grip 66 and the vessel 62. By selectively linking and moving the annular grip 66 with respect to the vessel 62, the closure device 64 may be selectively held closed with respect to the opening 63.

With any of the embodiments of the invention described or implied in the preceding disclosure, multiple projectiles, or in particular, paintballs, may be included as part of the invention. The type of projectile may vary, without limitation, according to the needs presented by the gun or marker used to fire the projectile, the type of game played, the target presented, the type of projectile preferred, etc.

FIG. 11 shows a system for storing projectiles and for dispensing projectiles and a device operable to fire the projectiles. The device operable to fire the projectiles shown is a marker 100. In some embodiments, the system includes a device operable to fire projectiles such as the marker 100. A vessel 2 with an opened closure device 4 is illustrated. Multiple projectiles 30 may be poured or otherwise removed from the vessel 2 into a reservoir 101 of the marker 100. The multiple projectiles 30 depicted are paintballs. FIG. 11 shows a number of paintballs 102 remaining in the marker 100 prior to an addition of multiple projectiles 30. The closure device 4 is operable to selectively cover at least a portion of the opening in the vessel 2. In embodiments of the invention, an actuator is operable to move the closure device 4 away from at least a portion of the opening in the vessel 2 by application of a force to the actuator at a location remote from the opening. Various embodiments of the vessel, closure device, and actuator are similar to the apparatuses described in the disclosure above.

Embodiments of the invention are employed to dispense projectiles from a vessel, or container, by at least controlling the container, applying a force to an actuator portion of the container remote from an opening in the container, and removing the projectiles from the container. For example, a container 1, as illustrated in FIGS. 2A and 2B, may be grasped or controlled by a user who would like to access the projectiles in the container 1. A force applied to the actuator 5 at the actuator's radial portion 10 may be effective to open the container 1. The applied force shown is a linear, pushing force, but in some embodiments of the container 1 the force may be applied by pulling, twisting, shearing, or any other force capable of causing movement of a closure device away form at least a portion of the opening. The force may be applied by pushing, striking, moving, etc. the container 1 against any object capable of resisting the force. As shown, force applied to the radial portion 10 would be passed through the actuator 5 to open the container 1. In this example, the actuator 5 would be pushed into the actuator pad 28 (FIG. 8) to open the container 1.

The act of removing one or more of the projectiles from the container may include pouring the projectiles from the container, grasping projectiles singly or in groups and placing the projectiles in another location, or any other act effective to remove the projectiles. One, some, or all of the projectiles may be removed from the container in one or more acts of removing the projectiles.

Embodiments of the invention enable the container to be closed without dispensing all of the projectiles held in the container. For example, by applying a force to the closure device 4 illustrated in FIG. 3A, the opening to the container 1 may be closed. Similarly, application of a force in the opposite direction of force P in the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 9 would close the container. These types of closures would give a user of an embodiment of the device the ability to only discharge a portion of the projectiles in one of the containers. These same containers that have the capability to selectively discharge various quantities of projectiles would also have the capability to be activated remotely.

In some embodiments of the invention, the closure device is operable either by applying a force to an actuator portion remote from the opening covered by the closure device, or by applying a force directly to the closure device. Such an embodiment allows a user of the container to choose the method of operation or to alternate between methods of operation.

While the invention has been illustrated and described in detail in the drawings and description, the preceding are to be considered as illustrative and not restrictive in character.