Title:
Collapsible crustacean trap
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An improved crustacean, fish & animal trap comprising a collapsible hoop and mesh structure to minimize storage size. The invention is unique in that it collapses through the manipulation of flexible hoops to a size minimized in all three dimensions. The primary configurations would be for crab, prawns and lobster/crayfish; however, in slightly different configurations, can be used to catch or cage animals, fish and other crustaceans. Another embodiment of the trap would feature only one hoop and would be used as a “lift trap.”



Inventors:
Philbrook, Mark Christopher (Sidney, CA)
Application Number:
11/285994
Publication Date:
06/01/2006
Filing Date:
11/23/2005
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
43/105
International Classes:
A01K69/06; A01K69/08; A01K69/10
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, SON T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
OYEN, WIGGS, GREEN & MUTALA LLP (VANCOUVER, BC, CA)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A collapsible trap comprising: one or more flexible hoops, wherein said flexible hoops are adapted to be manipulated to reduce their circumferential dimensions through the twisting of said flexible hoops about their diameters to form substantially figure-eight configurations and the folding of said flexible hoops about the centres of said figure-eight configurations and a flexible mesh attached to substantially the entire circumferential edge of said one or more flexible hoops.

2. A collapsible trap comprising: a top flexible hoop and a bottom flexible hoop, wherein said top flexible hoop and said bottom flexible hoop are adapted to be manipulated to reduce the circumferential dimensions of said top flexible hoop and said bottom flexible hoop, one or more structural means connecting said top flexible hoop with said bottom flexible hoop wherein said one or more structural means stabilize said top flexible hoop in a fixed position above said bottom flexible hoop, a flexible mesh connecting substantially the entire circumferential edges of said top flexible hoop with said bottom flexible hoop, wherein said flexible mesh encloses the space created by the connection of said top flexible hoop with said bottom flexible hoop by said one or more structural means, one or more openings located in said collapsible trap to allow for the entrance of objects into the space created by the connection by said one or more structural means of said top flexible hoop with said bottom flexible hoop,

3. The collapsible trap as claimed in claim 2 wherein said structural means comprise struts that are detachable from one or both of said top flexible hoop and said bottom flexible hoop.

4. The collapsible trap as claimed in claim 2 wherein said structural means comprise struts that are foldable.

5. The collapsible trap as claimed in claim 3 wherein said struts comprise frames forming said openings.

6. The collapsible trap as claimed in claim 5 wherein said openings comprise a flexible mesh funnel.

7. The collapsible trap as claimed in claim 5 wherein said openings comprise a one-way swinging gate.

8. The collapsible trap as claimed in claim 7 wherein said one-way swinging gate comprises a hinging means, to allow the gate to swing on a horizontal axis, situated between said top flexible hoop and said bottom flexible hoop.

9. The collapsible trap as claimed in claim 5 wherein said openings comprise an entrance means to provide an object a one-way path into the trap.

10. The collapsible trap as claimed in claim 1 wherein the said flexible mesh comprises netting.

11. The collapsible trap as claimed in claim 2 wherein the said flexible mesh comprises netting.

12. The collapsible trap as claimed in claim 1 further comprising: a bridal connected to the top of said collapsible trap and a lift ring connected to said bridal.

13. The collapsible trap as claimed in claim 2 further comprising: a bridal connected to the top of said collapsible trap and a lift ring connected to said bridal.

14. The collapsible trap as claimed in claim 12 further comprising a line attached to said lift ring to aid deployment.

15. The collapsible trap as claimed in claim 13 further comprising a line attached to said lift ring to aid deployment.

16. The collapsible trap as claimed in claim 1 further comprising a bait container located in the interior of said collapsible trap.

17. The collapsible trap as claimed in claim 2 further comprising a bait container located in the interior of said collapsible trap.

18. A method of collapsing a collapsible trap defined in claim 3 comprising the steps of: detaching said one or more structural means from one or both of top flexible hoop and bottom flexible hoop, placing said top flexible hoop directly on said bottom flexible hoop, twisting the opposite sides of said top flexible hoop and said bottom flexible hoop about their diameters, forcing the opposite sides of said top flexible hoop and said bottom flexible hoop together to form substantially figure-eight configurations, and folding said top flexible hoop and said bottom flexible hoop about their centres.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The non-commercial trapping of crustaceans is a pastime enjoyed by thousands of people worldwide. One of the few inhibiting factors in this pursuit is the nature of the crustacean trap itself. It is often bulky and awkward to carry and store. The collapsible crustacean trap solves these problems. There are many collapsible crustacean traps on the market today but most of them do not form into the ultimate shape or size. The ultimate shape being a circular trap so that the crustaceans can easily circle and find the entrance. The ultimate size being large enough so that large amounts of bait can be placed in it and still have adequate separation from the outside wall causing the crustaceans to realize they must find an entrance to get to the food. Patented square/rectangular collapsing traps include inventions by Eric C. Wass (Patent #706,299), Alan N. McKenzie (Patent #571,264), John O. Jonason (Patent #176,434) and Gerald J Cheramie (Patent Application 20040881995). These traps are often complicated to assemble and are not as efficient as circular traps (proven by the commercial designs). There are circular collapsible traps on the market like that envisioned by Charles Ponzo (U.S. Pat. No. 4,587,758) but they only incorporate a single stage of collapsing making it bulky for storing. Ladner Traps of Delta, British Columbia, Canada, also have a circular trap that collapses and folds in half. This design is an improvement on others but still lacks the assembled volume of the present invention and is considerably larger when collapsed in its storage state.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF INVENTION

The present invention, in its standard double hoop configuration, is superior to all existing collapsing traps as it is circular in design and easily has the best volume expansion ratio of approximately 25:1. Most collapsing traps have only one stage of collapsing, namely reducing its size in two dimensions only. The present invention adds another stage of collapsing to allow it to minimize in all dimensions. The present invention, because of its superior collapsibility, is well suited to applications where there are storage limitations such as in cruisers, sailboats, tenders, kayaks, canoes, floatplanes, automobiles, and recreational vehicles or when traveling in general.

The present invention, once assembled, can be deployed into the water and let down to settle on the seafloor/freshwater floor. A rope affixed to a bridal, which in turn is affixed to the trap, generally controls the deployment. A float can be attached to the upper end of the rope if the trap is to be left unattended.

The present invention is a portable frame and mesh trap defined by its unique collapsibility. Its collapsibility is obtained from the manipulation of a flexible hoop or hoops that typically cuts its height by 90% (for the double hoop embodiment) and its diameter by 50% (for all embodiments), bettering its storage ability. There are two main embodiments of this trap: single hoop (an open ‘lift trap’) and double hoop (similar to a standard enclosed circular trap). The uniqueness of the trap is derived mostly from the second stage in folding the trap for storage. The first stage, common in traps, is releasing struts to allow the top of the trap to nest with the bottom of the trap, reducing its size vertically. The typical process in stage two in collapsing the hoop(s) would be to grasp opposite sides (looking at the hoop(s) as a clock, grasp them at the 3 & 9 o'clock positions) and force them together with a slight twist to form a figure eight. A clamp may be used to secure the created waist. Fold the outside curves (originally at the 12 & 6 o'clock positions) of the figure eight toward one another until they are touching. A clamp may be used to secure the hoop(s) together at this point as well. The other necessary parts of the trap are incorporated into the resulting minimized package.

The present invention is distinct from all other traps in the method by which it is collapsed and conversely setup. The method is similar to the folding and storing of a band saw blade. It is also similar to the method defining the invention described by U.S. Pat. No. 4,815,784 for an automobile sunshade. In this patent a sunshield is collapsed by twisting and folding similar members to attain dramatically reduced size dimensions.

The primary configurations for the present invention would be for crabs, prawns, lobsters and crayfish. These traps, in slightly different configurations, can be used to catch and/or contain animals, fish and other crustaceans. The entrance means, as referred to in the Claims, can be any structure applied to the opening that allows the species to be captured (target species) to enter the trap and not be able to escape unless regulations require otherwise. These structures include, but are not restricted to: mesh funnels, swinging one-way gates and plastic overlapping fingers such as a neptune's trigger. Any species that are meant to be trapped by the present invention are referred to in the Claims as objects.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING

FIG. 1 illustrates a complete view of crab trap 100, the primary embodiment of the present invention when fully assembled.

FIG. 2A illustrates the first step of collapsing crab trap 100. This and subsequent drawings may not depict netting in order that other prime features are easily identified.

FIG. 2B illustrates the second step of collapsing crab trap 100.

FIG. 3A illustrates the continuation of the collapsing process from the second step to the third.

FIG. 3B illustrates the continuation of the collapsing process from the third step to the fourth step.

FIG. 3C illustrates the continuation of the collapsing process from the fourth step to the fifth step.

FIG. 3D illustrates the continuation of the collapsing process from the fifth step to the sixth step.

FIG. 4 illustrates a large-scale diagram of the frame struts and gates used in crab trap 100. This is an example of the structural means sited in the Claims.

FIG. 5 illustrates a secondary embodiment of the present invention, being crab trap 200, wherein mesh funnels are incorporated instead of gates to create ingress and prevent egress of objects to be captured.

FIG. 6 illustrates a tertiary embodiment of the present invention, being crab trap 300, wherein a single hoop is used to create what is commonly known as a ‘lift trap’.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

Although the disclosure hereof is detailed and exact to enable those skilled in the art to practice the invention, the physical embodiments herein disclosed merely exemplify the invention that may be embodied in other specific structure. While the preferred embodiment has been described, the details may be changed without departing from the invention, which is defined by the Claims.

FIG. 1 illustrates a collapsible crab trap 100, the primary embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 1 the crab trap 100 is substantially formed by two 1×19 strand stainless steel wire ropes, top hoop 21 and bottom hoop 22, joined by a crimped stainless tube, crimp 38. Hoop 21 and Hoop 22 are sited in the Claims as annular members. In its assembled state, FIG. 1, crab trap 100 has the top hoop 21 positioned parallel directly above the bottom hoop 22. Top hoop 21 and bottom hoop 22 are held separated by struts. Struts are named in the Claims as a structural means. The struts comprise three stainless steel frames, frames 26, positioned equidistantly around the hoops. Frames 26 consist of stainless steel rod running vertical from a hinge 30 on the bottom hoop 22 to a 90° bend to follow the top hoop 21 and to a 90° bend downward to hinge 30 on the bottom hoop 22. Frame 26 is sited as a structural means in the Claims. Hinge 30 consists of a loop in the stainless steel rod of frame 26 around bottom hoop 22. There would be six hinges 30, two on the bottom of each of the three frames 26. The frames 26 are fastened to the bottom hoop 22 by hinge 30 and to the top hoop 21 by hanger 32. Hanger 32 is a facet of frame 26, located one in each top corner facing inward, so as to hold up top hoop 21. As there are six hinges 30 on the bottom of the frames there are six hangers 32 at the top. Elastomeric tension lines 24 run adjacent to each side of frames 26 and are connected to the top hoop 21 and bottom hoop 22. Elastomeric tension lines 24 provide tension between the top hoop 21 and bottom hoop 22 so that the top hoop remains firmly in hangers 32. This tension also creates rigidity in the trap. An alternate frame 26 can be permanently attached to the top flexible hoop 21 and the bottom flexible hoop 22 and have the ability to fold to allow the top flexible hoop 21 to lie on the bottom flexible hoop 22. In the Claims, this arrangement is referred to as struts that are foldable.

Crab trap 100 in FIG. 1 comprises of three stainless steel gates 25 that are suspended on gate hinges 31 on frames 26. Gate hinges 31 on frames 26 are typical of a hinging means referred to in the Claims. Gates 25 swing inward to provide ingress for crabs but will block egress by not swinging outward. Details of the gates 25 will be given with description of FIG. 4. Gate 36 illustrates the swinging gate in the open position. Gate 36 is referred to in the Claims as a one-way swinging gate.

FIG. 1 illustrates the preferred manner of enclosing the trap. Mesh netting 29 would be used to enclose the top and bottom of crab trap 100 as well as portions of the sides outside the frames 26. Biodegradable mesh netting 28, which will degrade within weeks in a sub marine environment, may be employed in the top half of the area within frame 26 to allow crustaceans to exit the trap if it is abandoned or lost.

FIG. 1 illustrates a bait container 27 that is placed inside the trap and clipped onto the mesh netting 29 near the middle of the bottom hoop 22. The bait container would generally be comprised of a plastic mesh envelope that crustacean attractants could be placed within.

FIG. 1 also illustrates the components of crab trap 100 necessary for its deployment and retrieval. Lifting ring 34 is the upper terminus for the three ropes forming the lifting bridal 33. The lifting bridal 33 is attached to the trap by stainless steel lifting points 23, which are welded to the top of frame 26. A retrieval line or pole can be attached to lifting ring 34 to deploy and retrieve the trap.

FIG. 1 illustrates clasps 35 at four equidistant points around the bottom hoop 22. They are molded plastic clasps that fastened together to aid in the collapsing process.

Most collapsing crab traps have only one stage of collapsing, namely reducing their size in two dimensions only. Crab trap 100 adds another stage of collapsing to allow it to minimize in all dimensions. FIGS. 2A and 2B illustrate the first stage. FIGS. 3A, 3B, 3C and 3D illustrate the second stage.

FIGS. 2A and 2B illustrate the first two steps in collapsing crab trap 100. The collapsing process is a key in the uniqueness of the present invention. Top hoop 21 must be lowered onto bottom hoop 22 before the trap is flexed and than folded into its storing configuration, which is its most minimized form. To do this, the top hoop 21 must be lifted off and inward of the six hangers 32, there being two hangers on each frame 26. The frames 26 are than folded out and down, hinging on hinges 30 on the bottom hoop 22. The best time to remove crabs and the bait container is after the first frame is swung away as there is good access to the interior of the trap and it will still be in an erect state. Once all the frames 26 have been folded out, the top hoop 21 will naturally drop onto the bottom hoop 22. FIG. 2B illustrates this stage in collapsing. The elastomeric tension lines 24 become slack as the top hoop 21 descends to the lower hoop 22. The removable bait container 27 is shown outside the trap in FIG. 2B.

FIGS. 3A, 3B, 3C and 3D illustrate the continuation of the procedure to minimize crab trap 100 illustrated in FIGS. 2A and 2B. The typical process in these steps in collapsing the hoops would be to grasp opposite sides of the two aligned hoops 21 &22, indicated by the clasp 35 positions in FIG. 1, (looking at the hoops as a clock, grasp them at 3 & 9 o'clock positions) as shown in FIG. 3A and force them together until clasps 35 can be fastened. Fastening the opposing clasps carries the force required to flex the wire hoops inward allowing an easy transition to twisting the hourglass shaped hoops into a figure eight as shown in FIG. 3B. Fold the outside curves (originally at 12 & 6 o'clock positions) of the figure eight toward one another until they are touching as shown in FIG. 3C. The two remaining clasps may now be secured. Frames 26 can now be folded on top and below. The resulting configuration is the complete minimization of crab trap 100 as shown in FIG. 3D.

FIG. 4 comprises a detailed illustration of a frame 26 of crab trap 100. Frame 26 supports gate 25, through which crustaceans enter the trap. The three-sided frame 26 is hinged on the bottom hoop 22 by hinge 30. The top hoop 21 is secured by tension lines 24 in hangers 32 on each side at the top of frame 26. The top of gate 25 is a stainless rod 41 that pivots on gate hinges 31. Two separated vertical stainless steel rods 43 are welded at their top ends to rod 41. Bisecting and welded to the two vertical rods 43 is stainless steel rod 42. Its span exceeds that of the width of the frame 26 so that it cannot swing outside the trap thus preventing egress of the captured crustaceans. The top hoop 21, bottom hoop 22 and tension lines 24 are threaded through mesh netting 29. Biodegradable mesh netting 28 is used in the top half of frame 26 to prevent the long-term confinement of crustaceans in the event that the crab trap is abandoned or lost.

FIG. 5 illustrates crab trap 200, the secondary embodiment of the present invention, wherein the primary components of the crab trap remain the same except for gates 25 and degradable mesh 28 (illustrated in FIG. 1), which are replaced with small mesh netting formed to the shape of a funnel 37 in a horizontal axis. The entrance of the trap is formed by threading the large diameter end of the mesh funnel onto the frame 26 and the small diameter end onto a stainless steel ring 44 positioned inside the trap midway between the top hoop 21 and bottom hoop 22. The ring 44 is kept suspended by lateral tension introduced by internal elastomeric tension lines 39. Crabs follow the scent emitted from the bait trap 27 into the funnel 37, climbing up a gentle slope, and passing through ring 44 into the interior of the trap. A biodegradable mesh 28 exit would exist on the top of the trap stitched into standard mesh netting 29.

Crab trap 200 is collapsed, as is crab trap 100, by removing the frames 26. The funnels are fully deformable once the tension lines 39 are released. The full procedure to minimize the trap is the same as crab trap 100 (illustrated with FIGS. 2A, 2B, 3A, 3B, 3C and 3D).

Both crab trap 100 and 200 can easily be transformed into other crustacean traps by varying the mesh netting size and strength. Prawns could be caught with smaller mesh incorporated into the design whereas lobster would need a stronger mesh. Typically, the flexible mesh described in the Claims is nylon or polyester netting. The biodegradable mesh is typically cotton netting.

FIG. 6 illustrates crab trap 300, the simplest embodiment of the present invention. Commonly called a lift trap, it is widely used on docks or areas where there is an abundance of crab. Crab trap 300 consists of a stainless steel wire rope formed into a hoop 40 where the two ends are joined with a stainless steel crimp 38. Hoop 40 is threaded through the perimeter of mesh netting 29. The mesh netting should form a dip or pocket so that, when it is raised from the bottom of the seafloor, it makes it difficult for the crabs to escape over the perimeter, especially if the trap is brought up quickly forcing water pressure on them. Crab trap 300 may consist of two hoops arranged in a manner to form a short mesh wall to prevent the escape of the target species when it is lifted.

Crab trap 300 collapses by the same method as crab trap 100 in FIGS. 3A, 3B, 3C and 3D only easier as there is only one hoop to flex and fold.

Crab trap 300, as illustrated in FIG. 6, utilizes a bait trap 27, and the same lifting mechanisms as crab trap 100 and 200, namely lifting points 23, bridal 33, and lifting ring 34. A line, in turn, can be attached to lifting ring 34 to aid in deployment.

Crab traps 100, 200 and 300 have structures primarily made of stainless steel, as this material is better suited to the marine environment then most materials as it is less prone to degradation. However, composite materials, plastics, reinforced plastics/rubber and a combination of steel and plastics could easily be used to make any part of the trap including the flexible hoops. These traps are scalable in size to fit different applications.