Title:
PAINTBALL LAUNCHING DEVICE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A paintball launching device including an enclosure and ejection valves within the enclosure for connection to a compressed gas source is provided. Ejection ports are provided, each of ejection valves being connected to at least one of the ejection ports. Each of the ejection ports is configured to receive a paintball therein. An actuator is connected to the ejection valves for substantially simultaneously actuating the ejection valves. A paintball launching device including an enclosure configured as a low profile panel and a method of launching paintballs are also provided.



Inventors:
Fitting, Adam Edward (Washington, NJ, US)
Fitting, Brian Elliot (Lambertville, NJ, US)
Application Number:
11/617066
Publication Date:
07/05/2007
Filing Date:
12/28/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F41B11/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ABDOSH, SAMIR
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DOVAS LAW P.C. (PHILADELPHIA, PA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A paintball launching device comprising: an enclosure; a plurality of ejection valves within the enclosure for connection to a compressed gas source; a plurality of ejection ports, each of the plurality of ejection valves being connected to at least one of the ejection ports, and each of the plurality of ejection ports configured to receive a paintball therein; and an actuator connected to the plurality of ejection valves for substantially simultaneously actuating the plurality of ejection valves.

2. The paintball launching device of claim 1, further comprising appendages connected to the enclosure for positioning and aiming the paintball launching device.

3. The paintball launching device of claim 1, further comprising a removably fastenable strap connected to the enclosure for removably connecting the paintball launching device to a surface.

4. The paintball launching device of claim 1, wherein the enclosure comprises a low profile curved panel.

5. The paintball launching device of claim 1, wherein the enclosure includes at least one curved surface and the plurality of ejection ports are arranged in an at least 2×2 array following the curved surface of the enclosure.

6. The paintball launching device of claim 1, the plurality of ejection valves include a plurality of valve pins in removable contact with a plurality of valve seats connected with the plurality of ejection ports.

7. The paintball launching device of claim 6, wherein the plurality of valve pins are connected to the actuator.

8. The paintball launching device of claim 6, further comprising: a pressure chamber for connection to the compressed gas source and the plurality of ejection valves; and a plate within the pressure chamber attached to the actuator, wherein the plurality of valve pins are connected to the plate.

9. The paintball launching device of claim 6, wherein the plurality of valve pins are connected to a plate including a plurality of gas flow apertures, which is connected to the actuator, and wherein each of the plurality of valve pins are in removable contact with one of the plurality of valve seats, and each of the plurality of valve seats is integrally formed with at least one of the plurality of ejection ports.

10. The paintball launching device of claim 6, further comprising a film positioned on the enclosure over outlets of the plurality of ejection ports, whereby the plurality of ejection ports are concealed by the film.

11. A paintball launching device comprising: an enclosure configured as a low profile panel; at least one ejection valve in the enclosure for connection to a compressed gas source; a plurality of ejection ports, each of the plurality of ejection ports being connected to the at least one ejection valve and being configured to receive a paintball therein; and an actuator connected to the plurality of ejection valves for actuating the plurality of ejection valves.

12. The paintball launching device of claim 11, wherein the low profile panel is curved.

13. The paintball launching device of claim 11, further comprising a removably fastenable strap connected to the enclosure for removably connecting the paintball launching device to a surface.

14. The paintball launching device of claim 11, further comprising a film including lacerations positioned on the enclosure over outlets of the plurality of ejection ports, whereby the plurality of ejection ports are concealed by the film.

15. The paintball launching device of claim 11, wherein the plurality of ejection ports are arranged to eject paintballs from a single side of the panel.

16. The paintball launching device of claim 11, wherein the actuator includes a receiver for receiving signals from a remote controller.

17. The paintball launching device of claim 11, wherein the actuator includes a switch for connection to a trip wire.

18. The paintball launching device of claim 11, further comprising a motion sensor connected to the actuator for actuating the actuator.

19. A method of launching a plurality of paintballs comprising: providing a paintball launching device including a plurality of ejection valves and a plurality of ejection ports, each of the plurality of ejection valves being connected to at least one of the plurality ejection ports; and connecting a compressed gas source to the plurality of ejection valves; inserting a plurality of paintballs in the plurality of ejection ports; actuating the plurality of ejection valves substantially simultaneously to substantially simultaneously eject the plurality of paintballs by force of the compressed gas source.

20. The method of launching a plurality of paintballs of claim 19, further comprising removably attaching the paintball launching device to a surface with a strap.

21. The method of launching a plurality of paintballs of claim 19, further comprising remotely actuating the ejection valves using at least one of an electromagnetic signal generator and a sonic signal generator.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION(S)

This application claims the benefit of U.S. provisional application No. 60/766,144, filed Dec. 31, 2005, which is incorporated by reference as if fully set forth.

BACKGROUND

The game of paintball has become a popular sport and hobby. While there are varied rules for play, in its most basic form, participants in a game are required to tag opponents with paintballs ejected from a paintball marker, often a hand-held gun provided with a compressed gas source for power. The typical paintball includes a soft biodegradable shell which encapsulates a non-staining paint or marking fluid which is released upon impact. A player who is marked by paint from a paintball is typically disqualified from play for a predetermined time period or until a later round of play.

While there are several known devices for launching paintballs, it would be desirable to provide a paintball launching device which could be remotely positioned in an easy and convenient manner in a plurality of positions and mounting configurations. It would also be desirable for such device to be easily reloaded with a compressed gas power source and with conventional paintballs.

SUMMARY

The present invention provides a paintball launching device including an enclosure and ejection valves within the enclosure for connection to a compressed gas source. Ejection ports are provided, each of ejection valves being connected to at least one of the ejection ports. Each of the ejection ports is configured to receive a paintball therein. An actuator is connected to the ejection valves for substantially simultaneously actuating the ejection valves.

The present invention further provides a paintball launching device including an enclosure configured as a low profile panel. One or more ejection valves are provided in the enclosure for connection to a compressed gas source. Ejection ports are connected to the one or more ejection valves. Each of the ejection ports is configured to receive a paintball therein. An actuator is connected to the ejection valves for actuating the ejection valves.

Further, a method of launching paintballs is provided. The method includes providing a paintball launching device including ejection valves and ejection ports, each of the ejection valves being connected to at least one of the ejection ports. A compressed gas source is connected to the ejection valves. Paintballs are inserted in the ejection ports. The ejection valves are actuated substantially simultaneously to substantially simultaneously eject the paintballs by force of the compressed gas source.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING(S)

The foregoing Summary as well as the following detailed description will be readily understood in conjunction with the appended drawings which illustrate preferred embodiments of the invention. In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is top perspective view of a paintball launching device according to a first preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a top perspective view of the paintball launching device of FIG. 1 mounted in an alternative manner and showing a film for concealing ejection ports of the device.

FIG. 3 is a front elevation view of the paintball launching device of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a top plan view of the paintball launching device of FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is a rear elevation view of the paintball launching device of FIG. 1.

FIG. 6 is a side elevation view of the paintball launching device of FIG. 1.

FIG. 7 is a cross-section view taken through line 7-7 of FIG. 3.

FIG. 8 is a front elevation view of an internal frame and a valve plate of the paintball launching device of FIG. 1.

FIG. 9 is a top plan view of an alternative preferred valve configuration of the paintball launching device of FIG. 1.

FIG. 10 is a cross-section view taken through line 10-10 of FIG. 9.

FIG. 11 is a diagram showing a method of launching a plurality of paintballs according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT(S)

Certain terminology is used in the following description for convenience only and is not limiting. The words “right,” “left,” “top,” and “bottom” designate directions in the drawings to which reference is made. The words “a” and “one” are defined as including one or more of the referenced item unless specifically stated otherwise. This terminology includes the words above specifically mentioned, derivatives thereof, and words of similar import. The phrase “at least one” followed by a list of two or more items, such as A, B, or C, means any individual one of A, B or C as well as any combination thereof.

The preferred embodiments of the present invention are described below with reference to the drawing figures where like numerals represent like elements throughout.

Referring to the FIGS. 1-6, a paintball launching device 10 according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention is shown. The paintball launching device 10 includes a plurality of paintball ejection ports 12 disposed within a low-profile panel enclosure 14. Foldable appendages 16 are connected to the panel enclosure 14 for positioning and aiming the paintball launching device 10. A strap 18 is preferably removably connected to the panel enclosure 14 for removably fastening the paintball launching device 10 to a surface, for example a tree 8 as shown in FIG. 2. The strap 18 preferably includes hook and loop features or other suitable features for quickly attaching the paintball launching device 10 to a surface.

Referring additionally to FIGS. 7 and 8, within the enclosure 14 an internal frame 20 is provided. Compressed gas containers 22, which preferably store compressed CO2 or compressed air, are removably positioned within the frame 20, and removably connected to gas hoses 24. The gas containers 22 can be replaced through access apertures covered by access plugs 26.

The compressed gas containers 22 supply compressed gas to a pressure chamber 28. The pressure chamber 28 is formed between the frame 20 and an interior wall 30 of the enclosure 14. A chamber gasket 32, preferably made of a polymeric material, is provided for sealing the pressure chamber 28 in an air-tight manner. While two compressed gas containers 22 are shown, alternatively, one or any suitable number of compressed gas containers 22 may be used.

Valves 34 are located adjacent to the pressure chamber 28. Preferably, as shown, each of the ejection ports 12 corresponds to a valve 34 for providing a supply of gas to eject paintballs 70 from their respective ejection ports 12. The paintballs 70 are loadable through outlets 13 of the ejection ports 12. The outlets 13 are preferably slightly tapered, wider at a paintball discharge end to facilitate loading of the paintballs 70, and narrower inward toward the valves 34 to provide a slight interference fit between each paintball 70 and the outlet 13 in which the paintball 70 is loaded. Alternatively, other suitable mechanisms, for example retaining tabs or levers, may be provided for retaining the paintballs 70 in their respective outlets 13 prior to ejection of the paintballs 70. In the pictured preferred embodiment, twenty four (24) valves 34 are provided for the twenty four (24) ejection ports 12. Alternatively, two or more ejection ports in proximity to each other may share a single valve such that fewer valves are required.

Each valve 34 includes a valve pin 36 removably seated in a valve seat 38 forming an inlet aperture to the ejection port 12. Each of the inlet apertures of the valve seats 38 and each of the valve pins 36 are preferably identically sized. Alternatively, the valve seats 38 and their respective valve pins 36 can be provided in varied sizes to promote a desired air flow through the ejection ports 12, for example to ensure that the paintballs 70 are ejected substantially simultaneously when the device 10 is actuated. Preferably, the valve seat 38 includes an O-ring seal 40 attached to the ejection port 12. Alternatively, any suitable sealing surface can be provided for forming a seal between the pin 36 and the valve seat 38. The valve pins 36 are each connected to a valve plate 42. The valve plate 42 is connected to an actuator 50 through a connection rod 52 which draws the valve plate 42 with the valve pins 36 away from the valve seats 38 in the direction denoted by the arrows 5 when the actuator 50 is triggered. The actuator 50 preferably includes a solenoid and a battery which powers the solenoid. Alternatively, the actuator 50 can be compressed gas driven, electric motor driven, or include any suitable configuration.

When the actuator 50 is activated and the valve plate 42 is withdrawn, compressed gas in the chamber 28 from the compressed gas containers 22 is released through the valves 34 into the ejection ports 12 to eject the paintballs 70 in the direction shown by arrows 7. The valve plate 42 preferably includes a plurality of apertures 44 to permit an even flow of compressed gas from the chamber 28 through the valves 34. By providing multiple valves 34 to service the ejection ports 12, substantially simultaneous ejection of each of the paintballs 70 is permitted. The paintballs 70 are preferably ejected in non-intersecting paths as shown by the arrows 7 in FIG. 7. Alternatively, any suitable path trajectory may be provided.

The actuator 50 preferably includes a receiver 54 for receiving a triggering signal from a remote controller. The receiver 54 is preferably a radio receiver. Alternatively, any suitable receiver may be provided, for example an infrared or other electromagnetic signal receiver, or alternatively, a sonic receiver. Accordingly, a user using a transmitter, for example a transmitter capable of producing electromagnetic or sonic signals, can transmit a signal to actuate the actuator 50 to discharge the paintballs 70.

The actuator 50 is connected to a motion sensor 59, which is preferably an infrared motion sensor. When activated by a user, the motion sensor 59 is configured to transmit a signal to the actuator 50 via a signal carrier 61 to discharge the paintballs 70 when a person is sensed within proximity of a range of ejection of the paintballs 70. Alternatively, a motion sensor may be provided external to the device 10 in communication with the receiver 54 of the actuator 50 via a remote transmitter. The actuator 50 also preferably includes a switch 56 connected to a pull wire 58. A user may attach the pull wire 58 to a trip wire 60, as shown in FIG. 2, such that an unwitting gaming opponent who contacts the trip wire 60 will actuate the actuator 50 ejecting the paintballs 70.

The actuator 50 may be configured to withdraw the valve plate 42 with the pins 36 from the valve seats 38 for a predetermined period of time, and then return the valve plate 42 to a sealing position such that only a portion of compressed gas stored in the compressed gas containers 22 is discharged. Alternatively, the actuator 50 may withdraw the valve plate 42 for a longer period of time such that one or both of the compressed gas containers 22 is completely discharged and requires replacement after a single discharge.

As shown, the enclosure 14 is preferably in the form of a low profile curved panel with the ejection ports 12 positioned to eject the paintballs from a single side of the panel. With this configuration, the paintball launching device 10 can be mounted on the ground or on vertical surfaces. The curved panel form of the enclosure 14 is very suitable for attachment and positioning on rounded surfaces such as the tree 8 via the strap 18, as shown in FIG. 2. The curved panel form of the enclosure 14 also allows the paintball launching device 10 to be conveniently and accurately aimed in a desired area at a user's opponents, minimizing risk that the user may be tagged by paintballs 70 ejected from the user's own paintball launching device 10.

Referring to FIG. 2, a film 62, shown partially cutaway for clarity, is positioned over outlets of the ejection ports 12 to conceal the ejection ports 12. The film 62 is preferably replaceable by a user and includes a thin paper or polymeric material with lacerations 64 to permit paintballs ejected from the ejection ports 12 to easily penetrate the film 62. The film 62 may be attached to the enclosure 14 by an adhesive, for example an adhesive disposed on the back of the film 62 which is exposed by removal of a release liner. Alternatively, the film 62 can be retained by slots at the periphery of the front of the enclosure 14. The film 62 is preferably colored with a suitable camouflage pattern, for example a tree bark pattern for concealing the device 10 when mounted to a tree 8.

Referring to FIGS. 9 and 10, an alternative preferred valve 134 of the paintball launching device 10 of FIG. 1 is shown. Flat head valve pins 136 are attached to the valve plate 42 which is movable in the direction shown by arrows 9. Each flat head valve pin 136 removably contacts a valve seat 138. The valve seat 138 preferably includes a polymeric seal 140 attached to an inlet aperture of the ejection port 112 for maintaining an airtight seal when the valve pin 136 contacts the valve seat 138. A paintball 70 can be ejected from an ejection port outlet 113 via compressed gas entering through the valve 134 when the valve pin 136 is withdrawn from the valve seat 138.

Referring to FIG. 11, a method 200 of launching a plurality of paintballs is provided. The method 200 includes providing a paintball launching device including a plurality of ejection valves and a plurality of ejection ports connected to the plurality of ejection valves (step 202). A compressed gas source is connected to the plurality of ejection valves (step 204), and paintballs are inserted in the plurality of ejection ports (step 206). The plurality of ejection valves are actuated substantially simultaneously to eject the plurality of paintballs by force of the compressed gas source (step 208). Optionally, the method 200 may further include remotely actuating the ejection valves using, for example, an electromagnetic or sonic signal generator or a trip wire. The method 200 may also include attaching the launching device to a surface with a strap and loading paintballs through outlets of the plurality of ejection ports.

While the preferred embodiments of the invention have been described in detail above, the invention is not limited to the specific embodiments described above, which should be considered as merely exemplary. Further modifications and extensions of the present invention may be developed, and all such modifications are deemed to be within the scope of the present invention as defined by the appended claims.





 
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