Title:
Power and sail boat docking amusement device
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A boat docking amusement device includes a tank of water on which a model boat can be maneuvered by a user via remote control. The device includes first sensors through which a boat passes to start a docking maneuver and second sensors mounted adjacent a docking slip to detect when the boat has been maneuvered into the slip. The first and second sensors deliver signals to a timing device which calculates a docking time between passage of the boat relative to the first and second sensors. Detectors on the pilings or piers which define the docking slip detect contact by the boat during the docking maneuver. Contact signals from the detectors are also delivered to the timing device to adjust the docking time as a function of the number and severity of the contacts. Users of the device can thus compare their adjusted scores to determine the relative proficiency of each user in docking the boat.



Inventors:
Culp, Edwin C. (Grasonville, MD, US)
Bisbee, Laney H. (Annapolis, MD, US)
Application Number:
11/408404
Publication Date:
10/26/2006
Filing Date:
04/21/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63H23/04
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
RADA, ALEX P
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LAUBSCHER & LAUBSCHER, P.C. (ANNAPOLIS, MD, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A boat docking amusement device, comprising (a) a boat containing at least one motor for displacing the boat relative to a body of water; (b) a remote control device for operating said boat motor; (c) at least one first sensor arranged in a first fixed position relative to the body of water for generating a first signal when said boat passes said first fixed position; and (d) a timer for receiving said first signal and for measuring a time interval relating to passage of said boat relative to said first fixed position.

2. An amusement device as defined in claim 1, and further comprising at least one second sensor arranged at a second fixed position relative to the body of water for generating a second signal when said boat passes said second fixed position.

3. An amusement device as defined in claim 2, wherein said second fixed position is adjacent to a boat docking slip defined by a pair of pilings.

4. An amusement device as defined in claim 3, and further comprising at least one detector mounted on at least one of said pilings for providing a contact signal when said boat contacts said detector during docking.

5. An amusement device as defined in claim 4, wherein said timer receives said second signal and said contact signal, and further wherein said timer calculates a score as a function of the time intervals between passage of the boat relative to the first and second positions and the number of contacts of the boat during docking.

6. An amusement device as defined in claim 5, and further comprising a display device is connected with said timer for displaying the score.

7. An amusement device as defined in claim 5, and further comprising an indicator light is connected with said timer for indicating a period during which the timer is operating in response to activation of the amusement device.

8. An amusement device as defined in claim 5, and further comprising an annunciator connected with said timer for indicating the end of a period during which the timer is operating in response to activation of the amusement device.

9. An amusement device as defined in claim 1, wherein said remote control device comprises a throttle, a potentiometer connected with said throttle for producing a control signal corresponding with the position of the throttle, and a transmitter connected with said potentiometer for transmitting said control signal to said motor.

10. An amusement device as defined in claim 9, wherein said boat comprises a pair of motors and said remote control device includes a pair of throttles for producing a pair of control signals to independently control said motors, respectively.

Description:

This application claims benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/673,694 filed on Apr. 21, 2005.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

For anyone who has driven a boat, it is apparent that docking the boat is the most difficult aspect. Because of weather conditions, steering limitations, and the configuration of the boat, positioning a boat between the pilings of a boat slip takes much practice and skill.

The present invention relates generally to a boat docking challenge device which can be used to measure the efficiency in docking power or sailboats. The device is suitable for use with full size boats to assist the user in learning to dock a boat into a boat slip or may be used as an amusement device in which a player docks a model boat. The device quantitatively assesses through an electronic timing and scoring system the boating skills of an individual participant or between multiple participants and can be used as an amusement, a contest, test for certification, demonstration, or trial.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE PRIOR ART

Boat amusement and training devices are well known in the patented prior art as evidenced by U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,564,984, 4,107,854, 3,862,358, 3,930,450, 5,947,788, 6,629,501, and 6,750,815. The main drawback with conventional docking challenges of the prior art are that they do not allow for the remote operation of a scaled model power or sailboat in a docking maneuver as amusement, a contest, a test for certification, a demonstration, or a trial to quantitatively assess through an electronic time and scoring system, the boating skills of an individual participant or between multiple participants. Another drawback with conventional docking challenges is that the products do not provide a true docking experience, docking skills test, or docking competition. Moreover, docking challenges of the prior art are not scaleable in that they can not be used for the remote operation a scaled model or full size power or sailboat in a docking maneuver to quantitatively assess boating skills of a participant or between multiple participants.

The present invention was developed in order to overcome these and other drawbacks of the prior art devices by providing a device for use as a scaleable system that will quantitatively assess through an electronic timing and scoring system the boating skills of an individual participant or between multiple participants and can be used as an amusement, a contest, test for certification, demonstration, or trial.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a boat amusement docking device. In a preferred configuration, the device includes a tank containing water and a dock including at least a pair of pilings defining a boat slip. The device further includes a model boat which contains at least one motor for displacing the boat on the water surface and a remote control device for controlling the operation of the boat motor so that the boat may be steered across the water and docked in the boat slip. Sensors such as photocells are provided at fixed positions on the tank to detect the passage of the boat and a timer is connected with the sensors to measure a time interval which relates to passage of the boat.

A first pair of sensors are preferably arranged on opposite sides of the tank to define a starting line for the boat and a second pair of sensors are arranged on opposite sides of the boat slip to detect when the boat is positioned in the slip. Accordingly, a user of the device operates the remote control device to steer the boat past the starting line. The first sensors generate a first signal to activate the timer to begin timing the boat docking period. When the boat is positioned in the boat slip under control of the user via the remote control device, the second sensors generate a second signal to deactivate the timer to end the boat docking period. A display is connected with the timer to indicate the timed period. In a preferred embodiment, contact sensors are provided on the pilings to detect contact of the boat during the docking operation. Upon contact by the boat, the contact sensors send signals for each contact to the timer. The contact signals are processed by the timer to adjust the timed period so that the user is penalized for contacting the pilings during the docking operation.

The remote control device includes a throttle, a potentiometer which produces a signal corresponding to the position of the throttle, and a transmitter to transmit the signal to the boat motor. The signal directs the motor to operate in forward or rearward directions and also controls the motor speed. The boat is preferably provided with a pair of remotely controlled motors each controlled by separate throttles so that the steering of the boat is enhanced.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

Other objects and advantages of the invention will become apparent from a study of the following specification when viewed in the light of the accompanying drawing, in which:

FIGS. 1 and 2 are front and top plan views, respectively, of the boat docking amusement device according to the invention;

FIG. 3 is a block diagram of the remote control device for controlling a motor of the boat; and

FIG. 4 is a block diagram illustrating the timing circuit according to the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The preferred embodiment of the boat docking amusement device according to the invention will first be described with reference to FIGS. 1 and 2. The device comprises a tank 2 which contains water 4 on which a model boat 6 is arranged. The tank is preferably formed of any suitable material such as wood or plastic sections which are joined together to form a frame open at its top. A liner (not shown) is arranged within the frame to retain the water. The frame is preferably easily assembled and disassembled so that the device is transportable.

Connected with the frame is a scaled dock 8 arranged to extend into the water as shown in FIG. 2. A number of spaced pilings 10 are provided adjacent to the dock to define boat slips. If desired, finger piers 12 may be connected between the dock and the pilings. A backdrop 14 (FIG. 1) is connected with the frame behind the dock to enhance the appearance of the amusement device.

The operation of the boat will be described with reference to FIG. 3. The boat contains at least one battery powered variable speed reversible motor 16 which drives a propeller (not shown) to propel the boat across the body of water. A receiver 18 is connected with the motor to receive a control signal 20 from a remote control device 22. The remote control device is preferably in the configuration of a helm 24 as shown in FIG. 1 for operation by the user of the device. It includes a shift and throttle assembly 26 to which is connected a potentiometer 28 for producing the control signal in accordance with the position of the shift and throttle assembly. A transmitter 30 is connected with the potentiometer for transmitting the control signal 20 to the boat receiver 18. If desired, a steering wheel 32 on the helm can be used to provide a steering signal which is transmitted to the boat motor 16 in a known manner to steer the boat. Preferably, the boat includes a second battery powered variable speed reversible motor 34 which is operated by a second throttle on the shift and throttle assembly under a control signal produced in the same manner as the signal to control the first motor 16. The use of a second motor enhances the ability of the operator to steer the boat in both the forward and reverse directions. It will be readily appreciated by those in the art that the boat may be maneuvered about the tank by the operator through the throttle controls at the helm 24.

Also connected with the frame are a first pair of sensors 36 on opposite sides of the frame as shown in FIG. 2. The sensors may be of any suitable type to detect the passage of the boat. In a preferred embodiment, the sensors comprise transmitting and receiving photocells. As the boat passes between the photocells, a beam between the sensors is broken to produce a first detection signal. A second pair of sensors 38 is mounted on opposite sides of at least one boat slip. The second sensors may be mounted to the finger piers as shown in FIG. 2, on opposed pilings 10 defining a boat slip, or on the dock 8. The second sensors may also comprise photocells which operate to detect the passage of the boat to generate a second detection signal when the boat has successfully entered the slip. Alternatively, a sensor (not shown) can be provided on the dock between the pilings to detect the entry of the boat. The sensor may be an optical sensor or a contact sensor which is capable of generating the second signal detection signal in a manner known in the art.

In order to measure the skill of the operator, a timing mechanism 40 is provided for the device. As shown in FIG. 4, the first and second sensors 36, 38 are connected with the timing mechanism to deliver the first and second detection signals thereto. The connection may be a hard wire connection or wireless connection. When the operator maneuvers the boat past the starting line defined by the first sensors 36, the first detection signal is delivered to the timing mechanism to start a timing period. When the boat is maneuvered into a docking slip past the second sensors 38, the second detection signal is delivered to the timing mechanism to end a timing period. The timing mechanism includes a display 42 on which the time is indicated. Different users can compete against each other by comparing their docking times. The timing mechanism also includes a light 44 which is activated to signal when the timing period is being conducted and a horn 46 or other annunciator which sounds when the timing period is completed. Any number of variations may be set by the user in conducting the docking challenge. For example, a docking cycle can be extended to maneuvering the boat from the docking slip and out across the starting line to define a docking period. The light 44 and horn 46 may be activated to indicate completion of various stages of the docking cycle.

According to another feature of the invention, detectors 48 are mounted on the pilings 10 or along the finger piers 12 to detect bumping or contact of the pilings or piers by the boat during a timing cycle. The detectors produce contact signals each time they detect contact by the boat. The contact signals are delivered to the timing device and the user's time is adjusted in accordance with the number of contacts by the boat. Thus, the time or score of a less proficient user of the device will be adjusted to penalize the user for each time that the boat contacts the dock or piling. Suitable detectors are vibrations sensors or accelerometers. In addition to detecting the number of contacts, the detectors may also detect the severity of the contact and adjust the user's time accordingly.

By way of example, the timing device includes a data condition and computer acquisition system for receiving the signals from the sensors and detectors. The signals are processed through custom penalty software to correlate the number and severity of impacts between the boat and the dock or piling into penalty time points. The penalty time points are added to the elapsed docking time to derive a final score.

In addition, the length and the beam of the boat can be entered into the timing device. This factor adjusts for different sized boats being docked into a standard size boat slip.

While the invention has been described in connection with an amusement device using model boats, it can easily be adapted for use in real size situations. That is, the tank can be eliminated and the first sensors mounted on piles or floats adjacent to a marina. The second sensors are mounted adjacent to an actual boat slip at the marina with detectors mounted on the pilings and/or piers adjacent to the slip. A full size boat is maneuvered by the boat operator past the starting line defined by the first sensors and then into the slip. The sensors and detectors are send signals to a timing device which calculates the score or time for an actual docking maneuver in the same manner as described above in connection with the amusement device. The system can thus be used as a training aid for operators of boats, particularly twin engine large vessels such as cabin cruisers and the like that are more difficult to dock. The difficulties arise because of a number of factors including the beam and weight of the boat, the width and depth of the boat slip, and the wind conditions.

While the present invention has been illustrated and described, it will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that various changes and modifications may be made without deviating from the inventive concepts set forth above.