Title:
User activated water sprinkler system for trampolines and playground equipment
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A spraying system having an actuator and a sprayer. The actuator may consist of a mechanical pump, a pneumatic or hydraulic valve, an electrical switch or any combination of the above and may be mounted in a trampoline or other playground equipment to be operated by the jumping or moving action of a user. With each bounce on the trampoline or movement of the playground equipment, the actuator may be activated to spray water on one or more of the users. In trampoline embodiments, the actuator may be mounted in place of one or more of the springs of a trampoline, while in other embodiments, the actuator may be mounted such that it is compressed between the jumping surface and a supporting surface, including the surface of the water in the case of a water trampoline.



Inventors:
Lavabre, Marcel (Marina del Rey, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/330934
Publication Date:
07/20/2006
Filing Date:
01/11/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
482/29
International Classes:
A63B5/11
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GINSBERG, OREN ISAAC
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MARCEL LAVABRE (MARINA DEL RAY, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A trampoline comprising: a jumping surface; a mounting frame; a resilient mounting system joining said mounting frame and said jumping surface; and an actuator connected between said mounting frame and said jumping surface, said actuator having an inlet and an outlet and adapted to control a fluid from said inlet to said outlet when a user causes said resilient mounting system to operate.

2. The trampoline of claim 1 wherein said resilient mounting system comprises a plurality of springs.

3. The trampoline of claim 2 wherein said plurality of springs are mounted to jumping surface spring mounts and mounting frame spring mounts.

4. The trampoline of claim 3 wherein said actuator is adapted to mount to one of said jumping surface spring mounts and a corresponding one of said mounting frame spring mounts.

5. The trampoline of claim 1 wherein said actuator is a piston pump.

6. The trampoline of claim 1 wherein said actuator is a compression pump.

7. The trampoline of claim I wherein said actuator is a valve.

8. The trampoline of claim 1 wherein said actuator is an electrical switch.

9. The trampoline of claim 1 wherein said mounting frame is a floatable mounting frame.

10. The trampoline of claim 1 wherein said mounting frame comprises a surface mounted stand.

11. The trampoline of claim 1 further comprising a dispensing system activated by said actuator and adapted to spray a user of said trampoline.

12. An actuator comprising: a first mount adapted to connect to a trampoline mounting frame; a second mount adapted to connect to a trampoline jumping surface; an inlet adapted to connect to a fluid source; an outlet adapted to connect to a fluid dispensing mechanism; and a piston activated by the extension of said second mount with respect to said first mount and adapted to pump a fluid from said inlet to said outlet.

13. The actuator of claim 12 wherein said fluid source is a water source.

14. The actuator of claim 12 wherein said fluid dispensing mechanism comprises a spray head.

15. The actuator of claim 12 wherein said trampoline mounting frame is a floatable mounting frame.

16. The actuator of claim 12 wherein said trampoline mounting frame comprises a stand for mounting on dry land.

17. The actuator of claim 12 wherein said first mount and said second mount may be trampoline spring mounting points.

18. An actuator comprising: a first mount adapted to engage a moving portion of a playground device; a second mount adapted to mount said actuator such that the moving action of a user on said moving surface of said playground device causes said actuator to actuate; and wherein said actuator is adapted to control the dispersal of at least one fluid based on said moving action.

19. The actuator of claim 18 wherein said first mount is a spring mount connected to said moving portion and said second mount is a spring mount connected to a frame.

20. The actuator of claim 18 wherein said playground device is a trampoline.

21. The actuator of claim 20 wherein said frame is a rigid metal frame.

22. The actuator of claim 20 wherein said frame is an inflatable frame.

23. The actuator of claim 18 wherein said first second mount is a surface beneath said moving portion, said surface being one of a group composed of land and water.

24. The actuator of claim 18 wherein said actuator comprises a pump.

25. The actuator of claim 24 wherein said pump is a compression pump.

26. The actuator of claim 24 wherein said pump is a piston pump.

27. The actuator of claim 18 wherein said actuator comprises an electrical switch.

28. The actuator of claim 18 wherein said actuator comprises a valve.

29. The actuator of claim 18 wherein said fluid comprises water.

30. The actuator of claim 18 wherein said fluid comprises air.

31. The actuator of claim 18 wherein said playground device is a see-saw.

32. The actuator of claim 18 wherein said playground device is a rope ladder.

33. The actuator of claim 18 wherein said playground device is a swing.

34. The actuator of claim 18 wherein said playground device is a merry-go-round.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application 60/593,435 entitled “User-Activated Water Sprinkler System for Trampolines and Playground Equipment” by Marcel Lavabre filed Jan. 13, 2005, the entire content of which is hereby incorporated by reference herein for all it discloses and teaches.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Trampolines are popular recreational devices used by adults and children alike. Trampolines can be generally divided into water trampolines and dry land trampolines. Water trampolines have a floatable frame that swimmers may climb aboard and enjoy a trampoline experience on the water. Dry land trampolines are more common and often have a stand for elevating a jumping surface off of the ground.

Trampolines generally have a rigid mounting frame and a jumping surface attached with many springs or made of a flexible material. The mounting frame may be any rigid design, with steel tubing being a popular design choice. In the case of a water trampoline, a rigid frame, inflatable frame, or combination type frame may be supported by an inflatable or otherwise buoyant support. In the case of a dry land trampoline, the mounting frame may have a stand that supports the frame above the ground.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A spraying system for a trampoline or other playground devices has an actuator and a sprayer. The actuator may consist of a mechanical pump, a pneumatic or hydraulic valve, an electrical switch or any combination of the above and may be mounted in a trampoline to be operated by the jumping action of a trampoline user. With each bounce on the trampoline, the actuator may be activated to spray water on one or more of the trampoline users. In some embodiments, the actuator may be mounted in place of one or more of the springs of the trampoline, while in other embodiments, the actuator may be mounted such that it is compressed between the jumping surface and a supporting surface, including the surface of the water in the case of a water trampoline.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In the drawings,

FIG. 1 is a diagrammatic illustration of an embodiment showing a trampoline with actuators mounted similarly to trampoline springs.

FIG. 2 is a diagrammatic and partial cut-away illustration of a piston pump.

FIG. 3 is a diagrammatic and partial cut-away illustration of an air driven sprayer system for a water trampoline.

FIG. 4 is a diagrammatic and partial cut-away illustration of a compression pump for a water trampoline.

FIG. 5 is a diagrammatic top view of a water trampoline with several spraying systems mounted underneath the jumping surface.

FIG. 6 is a diagrammatic and partial cut-away illustration of a water trampoline with a second type of compression pump typically located near the attachment of the jumping surface and the mounting frame.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Specific embodiments of the subject matter are used to illustrate specific inventive aspects. The embodiments are by way of example only, and are susceptible to various modifications and alternative forms. The appended claims are intended to cover all modifications, equivalents, and alternatives falling within the spirit and scope of the subject matter as defined by the claims.

Throughout this specification, like reference numbers signify the same elements throughout the description of the figures.

When elements are referred to as being “connected” or “coupled,” the elements can be directly connected or coupled together or one or more intervening elements may also be present. In contrast, when elements are referred to as being “directly connected” or “directly coupled,” there are no intervening elements present.

Throughout this specification, the term “comprising” shall be synonymous with “including,” “containing,” or “characterized by,” is inclusive or open-ended and does not exclude additional, unrecited elements or method steps. “Comprising” is a term of art which means that the named elements are essential, but other elements may be added and still form a construct within the scope of the statement. “Comprising” leaves open for the inclusion of unspecified ingredients even in major amounts.

FIG. 1 illustrates an embodiment 100 showing a trampoline with actuator sprayers. The trampoline 102 is comprised of an outer frame 104 and a jump area 106 that is connected with a plurality of springs 108 and actuators 110. The spring 112 and actuator 114 are connected between the outer frame spring mounting points 116 and jump area spring mounting points 118. In some embodiments, the jump area 106 may contain a water drain 120.

The embodiment 100 may be a conventional land-based trampoline or a water trampoline. In either type of trampoline, one or more actuators 110 may be used to activate the water spraying system when a user bounces on the trampoline. With each jump, the user may cause the actuator to expand and retract, which may be used to spray water over the area of the trampoline at the user. In some embodiments, the actuator 110 may mount in the same manner and essentially replace one or more of the springs 108 in the trampoline.

The outer frame 104 may generally be a rigid frame of aluminum, steel, or other rigid material and may be mounted on a stanchion or other elevated frame for land-based use. A water trampoline may be mounted on an inflatable tube. The outer frame 104 and jump area 106 may be any shape, with rectangular and round shapes the most common.

The jump area 106 may generally be any type of woven mat or flexible material. A typical jump area 106 is generally quite strong and stiff in the flatwise direction such that the springs 108 absorb much of the deflection while a user bounces. Some material used for the jump area 106 may be woven such that water easily passes through the jump area 106. In other embodiments, a portion 120 at the center of the jump area 106 may be woven in an open manner specifically to enable water to drain. The water drain 120 may be a separate piece of woven fabric that is sewn into the fabric of the jump area, or may be an area where the weaving is altered to enable water to pass. In other embodiments, the jump area 106 may be stretchable in the flatwise direction and may be useful in embodiments that have no springs.

The actuators 110 may be any type of mechanism to control the flow of water, air, or combination of water and air towards a spray nozzle. In some embodiments, the actuators 110 may be pumps that draw water from a water source and spray water onto the trampoline users while they jump. When a user jumps close to one of the actuators, the actuator may have a greater deflection and thus spray more water at a higher pressure than when a user jumps farther away from the actuator. Thus, a user may control the amount of water sprayed by controlling how hard and where the user jumps. In some embodiments, the actuator 110 may have a spray nozzle located on or near the actuator itself. In other embodiments, a distribution system may locate a nozzle at a different location around the trampoline. In such an embodiment, the users may learn that a certain actuator may spray water at a specific location on the trampoline and may try to cause the actuator to spray another user at that location. In some embodiments, a nozzle may be pointed at spectators or passers-by.

The actuator 110 may be any type of device capable of controlling water flow. In some embodiments, the actuator 110 may be a valve that opens and closes a supply of pressurized water or an electrical switch that activates a solenoid valve or a water pump. Such an embodiment may use a garden hose or other water supply. In other embodiments, an electrical switch may be activated to open and close a remote solenoid valve, for example. In some embodiments, a valve or switch may have proportional output such that more or less water is dispensed based on how much deflection or movement is sensed by the actuator 110.

The actuator 110 may be adapted to control water flow for various playground devices in addition to a trampoline. For example, a swing, merry-go-round, rope ladder, see-saws, rope bridges, climbing nets, monkey bars, or any other type of playground equipment with moving or rotating motion and where user dependent variable pressure or tension is applied to a component of the playground device may be adapted to spray water on a user. Any action such as running, jumping, bouncing, climbing, or swinging may be adapted to cause an actuator 110 to activate the water spraying mechanism.

Some embodiments may comprise a replacement system for existing trampolines or playground device. Such an embodiment may have an actuator that mounts to the trampoline or other playground device using the same mounting system as a spring of a trampoline or being affixed appropriately to a moving part of a playground device. During installation on an existing trampoline, the installer may remove a spring and replace the spring with an actuator 110.

In some embodiments, the actuator may fill a bucket or other reservoir of water. When the bucket becomes full, the bucket may tip over and empty onto the playing surface. Many other embodiments may use different water delivery systems, including water delivery systems that spray water in random patterns.

FIG. 2 is a schematic illustration of an embodiment 200 of a piston pump for use on a trampoline or other playground apparatus. The pump 202 comprises a cylinder 204, a piston 206, and a spring 208. The cylinder 204 has mounting point 210 and the piston 206 has a mounting point 212 that can be used to mount the piston in position. The relative motion of the mounting points 210 and 212 activates the pumping action.

On the extension chamber side, water may flow through the inlet 214, across a check valve 216 and into the extension chamber 218. When the mounting points 210 and 212 are extended, the contents of the extension chamber 218 are expelled across the check valve 220 and out from the outlet 222.

Similarly on the compression chamber side, water may be drawn into the inlet 224, across the check valve 226, and into the compression chamber 228 when the mounting points 210 and 212 are extended. When the mounting points 210 and 212 are compressed, water is expelled from the compression chamber 228, across the check valve 230, and out through the outlet 232.

In some embodiments, one or both of the extension chamber 218 and/or the compression chamber 228 may be used for pumping.

The pump 202 may contain a spring 208 for returning the pump 202 to a compressed state. Such a pump may provide some or all of the spring forces of a pump that is used in place of an existing spring on a trampoline. In such cases, the pump may cause little, if any degradation in the jumping performance of the trampoline. In other embodiments, the spring 208 may be omitted from the pump or even placed within the compression chamber 228.

The mounting points 210 and 212 may be any type of mechanical engagement between the pump 202 and an appropriate mounting mechanism. In some embodiments, one or more of the mounting points 210 and 212 may be threaded engagements, hooks, loops, or other connection mechanism.

The pump 202 may be manufactured from any appropriate material, and may include metallic or plastic components as required. In some designs, the various check valves 216, 220, 226, and 230 may be molded or otherwise manufactured into the pump design. The particular design of the pump 202 may be any configuration capable of mechanically pumping water when the pump is either extended or compressed. In some cases, the mechanical pumping action may occur on both extension and compression motions.

FIG. 3 is a diagrammatic illustration of an embodiment 300 of an air driven sprayer pump for a water trampoline. The pump 302 is mounted beneath the jumping surface 304 of the trampoline and is partially submerged below the water level 305. The pump 302 comprises an upper member 306 that moves with respect to a lower member 308 and is joined by a moving seal 310. Air enters through an inlet 312 and a check valve 312 into the pressurized air chamber 316 when the upper member 306 and lower member 308 are expanded. When the user jumps on the jumping surface 304, the upper member 306 and lower member 308 are compressed, causing air to move through the check valve 318, the venturi 320, and out through the nozzle 322. Water is drawn through the inlet 321, mixes with the air in the venturi 320, and is sprayed on the user.

In some embodiments, a spring may be mounted between the upper member 306 and the lower member 308. Weights 324 may be used in some embodiments for stability and performance.

The embodiment 300 illustrates one design of a user activated pump that is mounted between the jumping surface 304 and water 305 in a water trampoline. A similar embodiment may be constructed for a land based trampoline wherein the lower member 308 may be mounted on a solid surface. The upper member 306 of the pump 302 may be attached to the jumping surface 304 or may be biased against the jumping surface 304. When a user jumps in the vicinity of the pump 302, the upper member 306 is compressed against the lower member 308 to cause air and water to be pumped out of the nozzle 322.

Alternative embodiments may include using a piston pump in place of an air-driven venturi pump, or an embodiment that comprises an air pump that provides a jet of air when compressed. The embodiment 300 may use both air and water to provide a misting spray rather than a stream of water. In some cases, a variety of actuators may be attached to a trampoline, with some being capable of spraying a mist of water and air, some providing a stream of water, and others providing an air jet.

FIG. 4 is a diagrammatic illustration of an embodiment 400 of a compression pump for a water trampoline. The pump 402 is mounted under-the jumping surface 404 and forces a piston bottom 406 below the water level 412. The quick action of a jumper on the jumping surface 404 may cause water to be propelled through the outlet tube 408 and out from the nozzle 410.

The embodiment 400 is an example of a single piece compression pump that may be mounted underneath the jumping surface 404 on a water trampoline. When the piston bottom 406 is rapidly forced into the water 412, a jet of water may shoot through the outlet tube 408. The stronger and more abrupt the user jumps near the pump 402, the stronger the resulting jet of water.

The pump 402 may be mechanically attached to the jumping surface by any mechanism. For example, the pump 402 may be fastened onto the jumping surface 404. In some embodiments, the pump 402 may be permanently attached to the jumping surface 404 while in other embodiments, the pump 402 may be removably attached. In still other embodiments, the pump 402 may not be rigidly attached beneath the jumping surface 404 and may only be held in place by friction. Some embodiments may include weights 414 or buoyancy devices as required to provide more or less pressure against the underside of the jumping surface 404 as required.

FIG. 5 illustrates the top view of an embodiment 500 of a water trampoline with user activated sprayers. The water trampoline 502 comprises an inflatable support 504 and a jumping surface 506 attached with a series of springs in a spring mounting area 508. Underneath the jumping surface 506 are mounted several water sprayer pumps 510.

The embodiment 500 illustrates how several user activated water sprayer actuators may be mounted underneath the jumping surface of a water trampoline. Similar embodiments may also be made for land-based trampolines. One or more of the sprayers 510 may be mounted in several different locations underneath the jumping surface 506.

Each sprayer 510 may be identical to the other sprayers or may be different. In some embodiments, a sprayer 510 may produce a water stream, an air stream, a combination of water and air, or any other variant. Different sprayers may be placed at different locations around the trampoline 502 for different effects.

The sprayers 510 may be any type of device mounted under the jumping surface that controls an air or water flow. For example, embodiments 300 and 400 may be used depending on the particular application, or any other pump, valve, or switch may be similarly mounted.

In some embodiments, the sprayers 510 may have nozzles mounted in the center of the sprayers, while in other embodiments, the pumps may be connected to a distribution network that may have nozzles located at various locations around the trampoline 502. For example, a pump may have a tube with a nozzle located on the edge of the jumping surface 506 or the spring mounting area 508. Each sprayer 510 may have similarly located nozzles.

FIG. 6 is a diagrammatic illustration of an embodiment 600 of a compression pump for a water trampoline. The pump 601 is mounted next to an inflatable tube 602 which may be the floating support for a water trampoline. The jumping surface 604 is mounted in close proximity to the inflatable tube 602 and is held in place at a jumping surface mounting point 608. Water may be drawn into an inlet 610, past a check valve 612, and into a compression zone 614 that is between the jumping surface 604 and the inflatable tube 602. When the user jumps on the jump surface 604, the pump 601 is compressed in the compression zone 614 and water is expelled past the check valve 616 and through the nozzle 618.

The embodiment 600 illustrates another compression pump design whereby the user motion of jumping on the trampoline jump surface 604 may mechanically pump water, air, or another fluid. The embodiment 600 uses a compression zone 614 between the jumping surface 604 and the inflatable tube 602 to accomplish the pumping action.

In some embodiments, the pump 601 may be molded into or otherwise incorporated into the design of the inflatable tube 602. Many such pumps may be incorporated into the inflatable tube 602 at intervals around the perimeter of the water trampoline.

The jumping surface mounting point 608 may attach to a set of springs and a rigid frame or may attach directly to the inflatable tube 602. When a set of springs are used, the jumping surface 604 may be a relatively stiff material in the flatwise direction. When the jumping surface 604 is attached directly to the inflatable tube 602 or other inflatable framework, the jumping surface 604 may be constructed from a material that is stretchable in the flatwise direction.

In some embodiments, the pump 601 may be replaced by a compression actuator such as a compression switch or a compression valve.

The foregoing description of the subject matter has been presented for purposes of illustration and description. It is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise form disclosed, and other modifications and variations may be possible in light of the above teachings. The embodiment was chosen and described in order to best explain the underlying principles and its practical application to thereby enable others skilled in the art to best utilize the invention in various embodiments and various modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated. It is intended that the appended claims be construed to include other alternative embodiments of the invention except insofar as limited by the prior art.