Title:
Bubble/water gun
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An automatic bubble/water gun employs an arrangement of gears and linkages to continuously produce bubbles. The components of the bubble/water gun are grouped by function and pre-assembled before installation into a bubble/water gun housing. An electric motor imparts motion to the gears and linkages so long as a trigger switch is closed. The bubble/water gun also includes a manually operated water gun. The water gun employs a manually operated water pump to produce a stream of water in addition to the automatic bubble-producing function.



Inventors:
Yeung, Yiu Shun Ringo (Hong Kong, CN)
Application Number:
10/862754
Publication Date:
07/27/2006
Filing Date:
06/07/2004
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
446/15
International Classes:
A63H33/28; A63H3/18
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CEGIELNIK, URSZULA M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ALIX, YALE & RISTAS, LLP (HARTFORD, CT, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A bubble/water gun comprising: a cylindrical reservoir; a body mounted across the top of the reservoir, said body enclosing: a. a bubble subassembly including soap solution tubes and a soap solution pump, said soap solution pump connected by said soap solution tubes to draw soap solution from said reservoir and deliver said soap solution to a bubble-producing nozzle; b. an electric subassembly including a battery, a switch, a motor connected to the switch and configured to receive current from the battery to produce rotational motion; c. a water gun subassembly including a water container, a water pump, a water pump actuating knob, and water tubes arranged to deliver water from the water container through the water pump to a squirt nozzle; and d. a mechanical subassembly including gears connected to the motor for rotation, said gears arranged to impart motion to linkages arranged to move a wiper bar across an opening of said bubble nozzle.

2. The bubble/water gun of claim 1, wherein said soap solution tubes and water tubes are secured to one or more plastic fittings by means of a clamping ring.

3. The bubble/water gun of claim 1, wherein said gears of said mechanical subassembly impart movement to said pump, said fan and said wiper bar to continuously produce bubbles so long as said electric switch is closed.

4. The bubble/water gun of claim 1 wherein a portion of said housing is movable between a closed position covering said bubble-producing nozzle and an open position exposing said bubble-producing nozzle, movement of said housing portion being performed manually.

5. The bubble/water gun of claim 1 wherein said electric switch and said water pump actuating knob are in the form of a wrist watch with watch band for easy installation on any location such as the handle of this gun.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates generally to toys and more particularly to a hand-held toy that dispenses soap bubbles and/or squirts a stream of water.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Bubble-producing toys in the form of a pistol or rifle are known. Such toys are described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,498,191 and 5,613,890. The prior art bubble-producing toys described in the above patents are dedicated to a bubble-producing function and are not equipped to function as a squirt gun or other type of toy. The fluid transferring tubes inside the toys described in the '191 and '890 patents are simple overlapping connections without means for securing one plastic tube to another. This frequently results in internal leakage of the soap solution within the toy. Soap solution accumulates within the toy and eventually leaks from the toy. Soap solution leakage can result in damage to furniture, carpeting and clothing. Many of the internal components of the prior art bubble-producing toys are individually installed into a plastic housing. Assembly of individual components into the housing is time consuming, labor intensive and increases the cost of production.

The '191 and '890 patents disclose a bubble-forming arrangement in which a sleeve is provided with a flow of air and a supply of soap solution. A wiper bar biased into contact with an outer end of the sleeve is moved across the sleeve opening to spread a film of soap solution. The film of soap solution spread by the wiper bar is inflated by the flow of air and forms bubbles. The '191 and '890 patents disclose that the wiper bar is manually activated by a trigger mechanism. Thus, the speed at which the wiper bar is passed across the sleeve opening to form a film of bubble solution is not controlled and is frequently too fast or too slow to form an acceptable film.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A bubble/water gun according to aspects of the present invention includes a fluid reservoir in the form of a slender vertical cylinder, which acts as the handle of the pistol-shaped toy. The body of the bubble/water gun sits atop the reservoir and is configured to resemble a futuristic pistol. The bubble-related functions of the bubble/water gun are produced by a gear train driven by a battery powered electric motor.

Functionally related components are grouped into subassemblies. For example, most electric components, such as the batteries, trigger switch and motor, etc., are included in an electric subassembly. Most bubble-related components, such as the reservoir, water pipes and soap solution pump, are included in a bubble-related subassembly. Water gun related components, such as the water container, water pump and associated tubing, are arranged in a water gun related subassembly. Each subassembly is pre-assembled and connected to other subassemblies to form a main assembly. The main assembly is then installed into the housing of the bubble/water gun. This method of assembly reduces the complexity and improves the efficiency for manufacturing the bubble/water gun.

An object of the present invention is to provide a new and improved, fully automatic bubble making toy gun.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a new and improved toy bubble/water gun of improved function and manufacturing efficiency.

A further object of the invention is to provide a new and improved is bubble gun with an additional water gun function.

A still further object of the present invention is to provide a new and improved bubble/water gun with superior fluid retention properties.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a side sectional view of an embodiment of the bubble/water gun according to aspects of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a top sectional view of the bubble/water gun of FIG. 1;

FIGS. 2B and 2D are enlarged side and end sectional views, respectively, of a water gun plunger and pump on the right side of the bubble/water gun according to aspects of the present invention;

FIGS. 2C and 2E are enlarged side and end sectional views, respectively, of the bubble gun trigger and switch on the left side of the bubble/water gun according to aspects of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is an enlarged sectional view of a reinforced fluid connection according to aspects of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a top sectional view of the bubble/water gun of FIG. 1 showing the key parts operating to form bubbles;

FIGS. 5 and 5A are side and top sectional views of the bubble/water gun of FIG. 1 showing the key parts operating to form bubbles;

FIGS. 6 and 6A are side and top sectional views of the bubble/water gun of FIG. 1 illustrating one phase of bubble production; and

FIGS. 7A and 7B are top and side sectional views of the bubble/water gun of FIG. 1 at a further stage of bubble production.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

A preferred embodiment of the bubble/water gun 100 according to aspects of the present invention will be described with reference to FIGS. 1-7A. As shown in FIG. 1, the bubble/water gun 100 is configured in the shape of a futuristic pistol. A cylindrical reservoir 62 serves as a handle for the bubble/water gun 100 and also holds a soap solution for making bubbles. The main body of the bubble/water gun is comprised of upper and lower molded plastic parts 2, 3. A water container 82 is arranged in the rear part of the housing. The water container is molded in upper and loser plastic parts 1, 4. The cylindrical soap reservoir 62 has a threaded top configured to engage a receptacle 7 defined on the bottom surface of body part 3.

An aspect of the bubble/water gun relates to its modular design. Components related to a particular function are grouped into a module, or unit, and pre-assembled. For example, electric components, such as the battery compartment with its battery contacts 8, 9 and electric motor 10 are part of the electric module. Water gun related components, such as the water container 82, tubing 65 and push knob 41, are part of the water module. There are four subassemblies: bubble related, water gun related, electric and mechanical.

Mechanical moving parts such as the gears 50-55, 28 and 29 are provided in a gear box having upper and lower molded parts 57, 56. Mechanical linkages 17, 18, and 19 together with the gear box and external gears 28, 29 form the mechanical subassembly. According to aspects of the present invention, each functional subassembly is pre-assembled before being combined with the other subassemblies into a main assembly without the housing 2, 3. Finally, the main assembly is installed into the housing 2, 3.

FIG. 1 shows a sectional view through the gear box 90 of the mechanical subassembly. In the gear box 90 there are axles or pins 58, 59, 60, 61 about which the gears rotate. Also shown is a motor cover plate 6 which fixes the position of the motor 10 and an arm adapter 16 which supports the moving parts of the mechanism. On the bottom of the lower housing part 3 there are two battery contacts 8, 9 and a battery chamber door 5. On the upper portion of the body housing 2 is a removable detail plate 15 used to see or gain access to the mechanism inside the housing.

According to aspects of the present invention, the bubble-producing function of the bubble/water gun is automatically coordinated mechanically by gears 50-55, 28 and 29 which are driven by the motor 10. An electric is switch 37 is closed, allowing electricity from the battery to flow to the motor 10 and produce rotation at gear 52. Gear 52 in turn imparts rotation to gears 51 and 53. Gear 51 drives gear 50 connected to the fan 49 to produce a flow of air for blowing bubbles. Gear 53 produces rotational motion of gears 54, 55, 28 and 29. As best shown in FIG. 7A, upper gear 29 includes a protrusion at its periphery engaged with a slot in reciprocating element 17. Reciprocating element 17 is coupled to left and right arms 18, 19 arranged to translate the reciprocating movement of element 17 into up and down movement. Arms 18, 19 move the wiper bar up and down across the opening of the bubble nozzle 80. The soap solution pump includes two revolving rollers 26 and 27 and gear 28. When gear 28 rotates, it imparts rotation to rollers 26 and 27. The elastic tubing 64 containing soap solution is thus intermittently compressed by the two revolving rollers 26 and 27, forming a roller pump as is known in the art. The pump draws soap solution from the reservoir 62 and delivers it to the bubble nozzle 80. The soap solution is spread into a film across the bubble nozzle 80 by a wiper bar as is known in the art.

Closure of switch 37 initiates all functions for bubble production including pumping, blowing of air and wiper blade motion across the bubble-producing nozzle. A mechanically coordinated bubble-production system as disclosed herein is less expensive and more reliable than comparable electronically controlled toys. Parts 11 and 12 gather excess soap solution from the bubble nozzle 80 and return the excess solution to the reservoir 62 via tube 63.

An aspect of the present invention relates to a separate water gun function. A water container 82 molded in two parts 1, 4 is arranged in a rear part of the housing 2, 3. A water tube (not numbered) extends from the water container 82 to a water pump 44 shown in FIG. 2B. A water pump knob 41 actuates the water pump 44. Pressure on the knob operates the water pump 44 in a manner similar to a conventional squirt gun. Hose 65 delivers water from the water pump to a squirt nozzle 14. The water gun function is independent from the bubble gun function of the bubble/water gun 100.

An aspect of the present invention relates to improved fluid tube connections within the housing 2, 3. FIG. 3 shows an improved connection including a clamping ring 68 clamping one end of a flexible hose 64 over a plastic fitting (not numbered) in the receptacle 7 on the lower housing part 3. The clamping ring 68 is a plastic ring configured to exert a radially inward pressure on the outside surface of tube 64. This arrangement improves over the simple telescoping connections of prior art water toys. The risk of fluid leakage within the bubble/water gun is significantly reduced.

With reference to FIGS. 2C and 2E, the bubble functions are initiated by closure of contacts 39 and 40 by push knob 37. A spring 38 biases the push knob carrying contact 40 away from contact 39. In this embodiment, the push knob 37 is installed on a ring-shaped left handle 35, 36 which has a cap 34.

Water pump knob 41 has the same appearance as push knob 37. 42 and 43 are push knob control plates, 44 is the pump for squirting water manually. 47 and 48 are the right handle top and bottom parts, respectively. 45 is a connection holder and 46 is the connection pin. Both water pump knob 41 and push knob 37 are shaped as a wrist watch on watch-band. The push knobs 37 and 41 are arranged on opposite sides of the main body housing 2, 3. In practice, these knobs 37, 41 may be placed in any location convenient for use such as on the reservoir/handle 62. As shown in FIGS. 2, 4, 6A and 7A, the outer portions of 32/33 and 30/31 of the housing are pivotally arranged to swing outwardly as indicated by the arrow K to expose the bubble-producing nozzle 80. This outward action is performed manually. Arms 20, 21 are attached to the moving parts of the body 32/33 and 30/31 to enable the inward and outward movements of the parts.

is a contact plate top cover, 23 is the contact plate holder, 24 and 25 are two contact plates. When the outer portions of 32/33 and 30/31 are swing outwardly, the two contact plates (which ultimately connect the batteries) contact each other and a flow of electric current is caused. When the outer portions are swung inwardly, the two contact plates separate and no electric current is formed.

While an exemplary embodiment of the foregoing invention has been set forth for purposes of illustration, the foregoing description should not be deemed a limitation of the invention herein. Accordingly, various modifications, adaptations and alternatives may occur to one skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and the scope of the present invention.