Title:
Game machine with complex display apparatus
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A game machine complex display apparatus is placed behind a transparent panel provided on a front face of a game machine. The game machine complex display apparatus has a display assembly with a plurality of display devices, a support frame for rotatably supporting the display assembly, and a support frame shift mechanism for moving the support frame forward and rearward. The support frame shift mechanism moves the support frame between a forward position close to the transparent panel and a rearward position away from the transparent panel, so that each display surface of the display devices can face the transparent panel at approximately the same distance when the display device is switched to the other.



Inventors:
Inoue, Haruo (Tokyo, JP)
Application Number:
11/730836
Publication Date:
11/22/2007
Filing Date:
04/04/2007
Assignee:
DRAGON CO., LTD. (TOKYO, JP)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F1/18
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KLAYMAN, AMIR ARIE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
YOUNG & THOMPSON (Alexandria, VA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A game machine complex display apparatus having a display assembly with a plurality of display devices and a support frame for rotatably supporting said display assembly, said game machine complex display apparatus being placed behind a transparent panel provided on a front face of a game machine, said game machine complex display apparatus comprising: a rotation mechanism for rotating said display assembly so that one of said display devices can face to said transparent panel; and a support frame shift mechanism for moving said support frame between a forward position close to said transparent panel and a rearward position away from said transparent panel.

2. The game machine complex display apparatus of claim 1, wherein said support frame shift mechanism moves said support frame such that each display surface of said display devices will face said transparent panel at approximately the same distance.

3. The game machine complex display apparatus of claim 1, wherein said support frame shift mechanism moves said display assembly toward said rearward position before said display assembly is rotated.

4. The game machine complex display apparatus of claim 1, wherein said support frame shift mechanism comprising: a guide member on which said support frame slides; and a drive member for driving said support frame to slide along said guide member.

5. The game machine complex display apparatus of claim 1, wherein said drive member comprising: a drive motor; a driving pulley attached to an output shaft of said drive motor; a driven pulley disposed at a certain distance from said driving pulley; a belt wound around said driving pulley and said driven pulley; and a connection member for connecting said belt with said support frame.

6. The game machine complex display apparatus of claim 1, wherein said drive member comprising: a drive motor fixed to said support frame; a pinion attached to an output shaft of said drive motor; and a rack to engage with said pinion.

7. The game machine complex display apparatus of claim 4, further comprising: a position detector for detecting a position of said support frame; and a controller for stopping an operation of said drive member based on a detection signal from said position detector.

8. The game machine complex display apparatus of claim 7, wherein said position detector comprising: a signal piece provided on said support frame; and at least one sensor to detect said signal piece.

9. The game machine complex display apparatus of claim 1, wherein said display assembly comprising: a pair of rectangular side plates each of which is rotatably supported at its center part by said support frame; a first display device disposed along one of long sides of said side plate; and a second display device disposed along one of short sides of said side plate.

10. The game machine complex display apparatus of claim 9, wherein said first display device is a reel arrangement display composed of plural rotary reels in a matrix arrangement, and said second display device is a liquid crystal display.

11. The game machine complex display apparatus of claim 10, wherein said display assembly further comprising a third display device disposed along the other long side of said side plate.

12. The game machine complex display apparatus of claim 11, wherein said third display device is a liquid crystal display.

13. A game machine having a transparent panel on the front face and a game machine complex display apparatus placed behind said transparent panel, said game machine comprising: a display assembly with a plurality of display devices; a support frame for rotatably supporting said display assembly; a rotation mechanism for rotating said display assembly so that one of said display devices can face to said transparent panel; and a support frame shift mechanism for moving said support frame rearward from said transparent plate before the rotation of said display assembly, and for moving said support frame forward to said transparent panel after the rotation of said display assembly, so that each display surface of said display devices can face the transparent panel at approximately the same distance.

14. The game machine of claim 13, further comprising: an operation section for directing operations of said rotation mechanism and said support frame shift mechanism; a plurality of sensors for detecting positions of said display devices and said support frame; a memory storing position information about start and stop positions for said support frame; and a main controller for controlling said support frame shift mechanism according to a direction from said operation section, detection signals from said detectors, and said position information from said memory.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a complex display apparatus, and pinball machines, slot machines, and such game machines with this complex display apparatus.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Game machines, such as pachinko machines (pinball related Japanese game machines) and slot machines, are generally equipped with a display apparatus to exhibit symbols. The display apparatuses appear in different kinds including, for example, a mechanical display device called “reel” and “wheel (spinning disc)”, and an electronic display device called a “graphic”. The latter, electronic display device, usually has a liquid crystal display panel or a plasma display panel.

Japanese Patent Laid-open Publication No. 2004-188159 discloses a game machine complex display apparatus composed of several display devices of different kinds. This complex display apparatus is rotated at a certain degrees (90 degrees, for example) by a drive motor, so that the other display device will face to the player. The structure of this complex display apparatus is shown in FIG. 1. As shown in FIG. 1, a game machine GM (a pachinko machine, for example) has a housing with a transparent glass panel 1 as a front board. Inside the housing, a complex display apparatus 2 is placed. Rotatably supported between side walls (not shown) of the housing through a rotation axis 3, the complex display apparatus 2 can rotate toward the glass panel 1.

Additionally, the complex display apparatus 2 includes a mount base 4 having a bearing at the middle thereof for supporting the rotation axis 3. On an upper surface of the mount base 4, a pair of reels 5 is mounted. Attached on an under surface of the mount base 4 is a case 6, which holds a spinning wheel 7. One of the side surfaces of the case 6 (the left side in the drawing), a liquid crystal display 8 with a display surface 8a is provided.

In FIG. 1, the player in front of the glass panel 1 will see a display surface 5a of the reels 5 as a first display device and the display surface 8a of the liquid crystal display 8 as a second display device simultaneously. Then, the complex display apparatus 2 is rotated by a drive motor 9 at, for example, 90 degrees in the direction of an arrow A, and a display surface 7a of the wheel 7 as a third display device faces the glass plate 1.

For this rotation, a space of at least a radius of the complex display apparatus 2 is needed between the glass panel 1 and the rotation axis 3. However, the radius of the display apparatus 2 is not symmetric, i.e., not equal to all directions (see, r1 and r2), because the first to third display devices 5, 7, 8 have different thickness. Therefore, the space for rotation is determined according to the thickest display device (the first display device 5). This arrangement, however, causes each display surface 5a, 7a, 8a to face the glass panel 1 at different distances, and the visibility is lowered. This drawback is caused as long as several display devices of different kinds are incorporated. For example, a game machine complex display apparatus 2A in FIG. 2 incorporates a first display device 5A having a curved display surface 5s and a second display device 8A having a flat display surface 8s such as an LCD. In this case, a distance r3 between the rotation axis 3 and the display surface 5s, and a distance r4 between the rotation axis 3 and the display surface 8s are different.

During the rotation of the complex display apparatus 2A, the display surface 5s of the first display device 5A comes close to the glass panel 1, while the display surface 8s does not come as close as the display surface 5s to the glass panel 1. This lowers the visibility of the display surface 8s and further a sense of unity that the display apparatus provides.

There accordingly exists a need to solve the problems in visibility and a sense of unity of the game machine complex display apparatus having two or more display devices whose display surfaces are spaced differently from the rotation axis.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In view of the foregoing, a primary object of the present invention is to provide a game machine complex display apparatus which rotates to switch a plurality of display devices without lowering visibility and a sense of unity.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a game machine having this game machine complex display apparatus.

In order to achieve the above and other objects, a game machine complex display apparatus according to the present invention includes a display assembly with a plurality of display devices, and a support frame to support rotatably this display assembly. The game machine complex display apparatus is placed behind a transparent panel provided on a front face of a game machine. Additionally, the game machine complex display apparatus includes a rotation mechanism and a support frame shift mechanism. The rotation mechanism rotates the display assembly, so that one of the display devices can face to the transparent panel. The support frame shift mechanism moves the support frame between a forward position close to the transparent panel and a rearward position away from the transparent panel. Preferably, the support frame is moved such that the each display surface of the display devices will face the transparent panel at approximately the same distance.

It is preferred that the support frame shift mechanism moves the display assembly toward the rearward position before the display assembly is rotated. Also preferably, the support frame shift mechanism may have a guide member on which the support frame slides and a drive member that drives the support frame to slide along the guide member.

In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the drive member is composed of a drive motor, a driving pulley attached to an output shaft of this drive motor, a driven pulley disposed at a certain distance from the driving pulley, a belt wound around the driving and the driven pulleys, and a connection member to connect the belt with the support frame.

In another preferred embodiment of the present invention, the drive member is composed of a drive motor fixed to the support frame, a pinion attached to an output shaft of the drive motor, and a rack to engage with the pinion.

Still preferably, the game machine complex display apparatus may include a position detector for position detection of the support frame, and a controller that stops an operation of the drive member based on a detection signal from the position detector. The position detector may preferably be composed of a signal piece on the support frame and at least one sensor to detect this signal piece.

It is preferred that the display assembly has a pair of rectangular side plates, each of which is rotatably supported at its center part by the support frame. Along one long side of the side plate, a first display device is disposed. A second display device is disposed along one short side of the side plate, and a third display device is disposed along the other long side of the side plate. The first display device is preferably a reel arrangement display, composed of plural rotary reels in a matrix arrangement. The second and the third display devices are preferably a liquid crystal display.

A game machine according to the present invention includes a transparent panel on the front face, and the above game machine complex display apparatus placed behind the transparent panel. It is preferred that the game machine further includes an operating section, a plurality of sensors, a memory, and a main controller. The operating section directs the operations of the rotation mechanism and the support frame shift mechanism. The sensors detect the positions of the display devices and the support frame. The memory stores information about start and stop positions for the support frame. The main controller controls the support frame shift mechanism according to a direction from the operating section, detection signals from the detectors, and the position information from the memory.

According to the present invention, the display assembly moves forward to and rearward from the transparent plate, and each display device can come close to the transparent plate. Accordingly, the display devices are viewed clearly. Since each display device keeps at approximately the same distance from the facing transparent panel, the sense of unity of the complex display apparatus can be maintained even if the display devices of different kinds are incorporated. This allows any combination of display devices including the reel, the liquid crystal display panel, and the wheel. Accordingly, the game machine complex display apparatus becomes more versatile.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The above objects and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent from the following detailed description when read in connection with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a conceptual view of a conventional game machine complex display apparatus;

FIG. 2 is a conceptual view of another conventional game machine complex display apparatus;

FIG. 3 is a front view of a game machine according to a first embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a game machine complex display apparatus according to the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a side view of the game machine complex display apparatus, in which a first display device comes close to a transparent panel;

FIG. 6 is an exploded perspective view of a display assembly;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the display assembly with the first display device facing forward;

FIG. 8 is a cross sectional view of a shift mechanism for the display assembly;

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the game machine complex display apparatus, in which a second display device faces forward;

FIG. 10 is a side view of the game machine complex display apparatus, in which the second display device comes close to the transparent panel;

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of the game machine complex display apparatus with a third display device facing forward;

FIG. 12 is a side view of the game machine complex display apparatus, in which the third display device comes close to the transparent panel;

FIG. 13 is a perspective view of the display assembly when the third display device faces front;

FIGS. 14A to 14E are explanatory views showing an operation of the game machine complex display apparatus;

FIG. 15 is a perspective view of the game machine complex display apparatus equipped with another shift mechanism for the display assembly;

FIG. 16 is a perspective view of a game machine according to a second embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 17 is a block diagram of the game machine of the first embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring to FIG. 3, a pachinko machine 10 is illustrated as a game machine of the present invention. The pachinko machine 10 has an openable front member 12 composed of an openable frame 13 with a lock, a transparent panel (glass panel, for example) 11 fitted in the openable frame 13, and a playfield board 15 behind the transparent panel 11. The playfield board 15 has an opening 16, inside of which a game machine complex display apparatus (hereinafter, complex display apparatus) 20 appears. For good visibility, the complex display apparatus 20 is placed sufficiently near the transparent panel 11.

As shown in FIG. 4, the complex display apparatus 20 has a base plate 21, a pair of guide mechanisms 23 attached to both side end areas of an upper surface of the base plate 21, a support frame 22 slidable on the guide mechanisms 23, and a display assembly 34 held between the support frame 22. Each guide mechanism 23 has a support block 23a of channel shape in cross section fixed to the base plate 21, and a guide rail 23b fixed on the support block 23a. One of the support blocks 23a is equipped with a first drive source 24 for sliding the support frame 22 and a first power transmission mechanism 25 to transmit the driving force of the first drive source 24 to the support frame 22. The first drive source 24 is a drive motor and attached to, for example, the rear end of a side wall of the support block 23a.

As shown in FIG. 8, the first power transmission mechanism 25 is composed of a driving pulley 25a placed inside the support block 23a and connected to an output shaft of the drive motor 24, a driven pulley 25b placed inside the support block 23a, and a belt 25c wound around the pulleys 25a and 25b. Attached to the belt 25c is an engaging piece 27 which fits in an opening of a slider 22a fixed to an under surface of the support frame 22. Thereby, the support frame 22 moves in an arrow direction on the guide rail 23b in response to the move of the belt 25c.

At appropriate positions on the guide mechanism 23, position detectors 26 (see FIG. 4) are provided for position detection of the support frame 22. The position detector 26 may be a common signal detector, such as a magnetic sensor or a photosensor.

Referring to FIG. 6, the support frame 22 is of channel shape, both side walls of which have an opening 22b to support a rotation shaft 33 of the display assembly 34. It is understood that the support frame 22 may be of U-shape or other appropriate shape.

Provided on an outer surface of the side wall of the support frame 22 are a second drive source 31 to rotate the display assembly 34, and a second power transmission mechanism 32 to transmit the driving force of the first drive source 31 to the display assembly 34. Additionally, a signal piece (an index shown in FIG. 4, for example) 28 to be detected by the position detectors 26 is provided at a lower end of the side wall.

The second drive source 31 is attached to the side wall of the support frame 22 through an attachment plate 36. The second drive source 31 is, for example, a drive motor and rotates the display assembly 34 to switch between the display devices 41, 42, 43. Composed of a small pulley 32a fixed to an output shaft of the drive motor 31, a large pulley 32b fixed to the rotation shaft 33 of the display assembly 34, and a belt 32c wound around the pulleys 32a and 32b, the second power transmission mechanism 32 functions as a speed reducer. Additionally, in the drawing, the numeral 37 denotes a changeover detector for detecting a switching (rotation) position of the display assembly 34, and the numeral 38 denotes a bearing for the rotation shaft 33.

Fixed to an outer surface of the large pulley 32b is a ring-shaped index 39. The index 39 has several (three, for example) projections 39a that extend outwards. These projections 39a are separated by 90 degrees and pass across a detecting position (for example, interspace) of the changeover detector 37. The bearing 38 is composed of a circular or polygonal plate 38a fixed to the outer surface of the support frame 22 and a ball bearing 38b fitted to the plate 38a.

As shown in FIG. 7, the display assembly 34 includes a pair of side plates 34a each having the rotation shaft 33 at its center part, a connecting plate 34b fixed at right angle to approximately the middle of an inner surface of each side plate 34a, support plates 34c and 34d fixed to the different surfaces of the connecting plate 34b, and the first to third display devices 41, 42, 43.

The first to third display devices 41, 42, 43 are separately arranged along each side of the side plate 34a, and sequentially face the transparent panel 11 at every 90 degree turn of the display assembly 34.

The first display device 41 is constituted of nine cylinders (rotary reels) 410 in a matrix arrangement. Each rotary reel 410 is held by the support plate 34c, and has a display surface (exterior surface) 410a which carries symbols lying at regular intervals. It is understood that each rotary reel 410 is equipped with a drive motor, an index, and an optical detector to detect the index (not any shown).

The second display device 42 is disposed on one end of the connecting plate 34b. The second display device 42 is a liquid crystal panel, which has a horizontally-long, flat liquid crystal display screen 42a. The third display device 43 is disposed on the back side of the first display device 41. As shown in FIG. 13, the third display device 43 has a large, flat liquid crystal display screen 43a.

The first to third display devices 41, 42, 43 differ in kind or shape from each other, and the distances from each display surface 410a, 42a, 43a to the rotation shaft 33 are different accordingly. It is to be noted, however, that the first to third display devices 41, 42, 43 can be the same kind.

The complex display apparatus 20 of the present invention is equipped with the first drive source 24, the first power transmission mechanism 25 to slide the support frame 22 to a predetermined position, and the position detectors 26 with the signal piece 28 for position detection of the support frame 22, so that each of the display surfaces 410a, 42a, 43a can come close to the transparent panel 11.

Next, the operation of the complex display apparatus 20 is explained. FIG. 4 and FIG. 5 show the complex display apparatus 20 with the first display device 41 facing the transparent panel 11 (i.e., facing to the player). FIG. 9 and FIG. 10 show the complex display apparatus 20 with the display assembly 34 rotated around the rotation shaft 33 at 90 degrees from the position of FIG. 4. In this state, the player can view a part of the display surface 410a of the first display device 41 and the liquid crystal display screen. 42a of the second display device 42 simultaneously. Such view of the displays will give a variety to the game.

FIG. 11 and FIG. 12 show the complex display apparatus 20 with the display assembly 34 rotated at 90 degrees from the position of FIG. 9. In this state, the player can view the liquid crystal display screen 43a of the third display device 43. It should be understood that the display assembly 34 can rotate in either directions around the rotation shaft 33.

In FIG. 14A, the display surface 410a of the first display device 41 is placed near the transparent panel 11. To switch to the liquid crystal display screen 42a of the second display device 42, the support frame 22 is slide back in an arrow A direction by the first drive source 24 and the first power transmission mechanism 25, as shown in FIG. 14B. Detected by the position detectors 26, the support frame 22 will stop at a predetermined rearward position.

After the support frame 22 stops at the rearward position, the second drive source 31 is activated to rotate the display assembly 34. Thereby, as shown in FIG. 14C, the liquid crystal display screen 42a of the second display device 42 faces the transparent panel 11. At this moment, the liquid crystal display screen 42a comes close to the transparent panel 11, being on approximately the same vertical plane as the display surface 410a in FIG. 14A. Here, the term “approximately the same” means that the vertical plane may move slightly in the forward and the rearward directions depending on the attachment condition of the display surface 410a and the display screen 42a.

To switch to the liquid crystal display screen 43a of the third display device 43 from this state, the display assembly 34 is rotated in the support frame 22 at the rearward position, as shown in FIG. 14D, and the third display device 43 faces the transparent panel 11. As long as the support frame 22 remains in the rearward position, however, the liquid crystal display screen 43a stays away from the transparent panel 11. Therefore, the first drive source 24 and the first power transmission mechanism 25 are activated to slide the support frame 22 in an arrow B direction. Detected by the position detectors 26, the support frame 22 will stop at a predetermined forward position as shown in FIG. 14E. At this moment, the liquid crystal display screen 43a comes close to the transparent panel 11, being on approximately the same vertical plane as the display surface 41a in FIG. 14A.

It is to be noted that the above embodiment is one example, and that the details of the display devices, such as the number, the composition (mechanical reel, wheel, LED, ED and so forth), and the combination thereof, are not limited to this. For example, the display device facing to the player may be switched to the other display device of the same kind (both liquid crystal display screens or both rotary reels).

Additionally, there is no need to use all the display devices for game play, but instead at least one display device may exhibit the information about the game.

Also, the first and second drive sources 24 and 31 are not limited to the drive motor, but may be a plunger (operation rod reciprocating in a cylinder) moved by, for example, an electrical solenoid or a pressure source (oil pressure, for example).

Furthermore, the attachment position of the first drive source 24 and the composition of the first power transmission mechanism 25 are not limited to the above embodiment. For example, the first power transmission mechanism may be composed of a decelerating gear and a pinion, both provided on the base plate 21, and a rack provided on the support frame 22 and engaging with the pinion. Alternatively, the first power transmission mechanism may be a combination of a horizontal screw rod which is attached on the base plate 21 and rotated by the driving force of the first drive source 24, and a female screw which is attached on the support frame 22 and engages with the horizontal screw rod. The first power transmission mechanism may also be a crank system.

In FIG. 15, a display apparatus 50 has the first drive source 24 and a first power transmission mechanism 55. The first drive source 24 is attached to, for example, an under surface of the support frame 22. The first power transmission mechanism 55 is composed of a pinion 55a attached to the output shaft of the first drive source 24, and a rack 55b fixed to the base plate 21 and engaging with the pinion 55a.

Although the pachinko machine 10 is used as the game machine in the above embodiments, the complex display apparatus 20 of the present invention is applicable to a slot machine 60 as shown in FIG. 16.

Referring to FIG. 17, the pachinko machine 10 has the complex display apparatus 20, an operation section 49, a control section 50 including an input/output controller 51 and a main controller 52, and a memory 53 to which the control section 50 gains access. The memory 50 stores information 53a about start and stop positions for both the support frame 22 and the display assembly 34 of the complex display apparatus 20, and necessary information 53b about the game.

The input/output controller 51 receives various signals, such as operation signals from the operation section 49, detection signals from the position detectors 26 and the changeover detector 37 of the complex display apparatus 20, and command signals from the main controller 52. The input/output controller 51 has a logic circuit composed of a gate array or customs, and outputs the received signals (instructions) with or without processing.

Based on the detection signals transmitted from the detectors 26 and 37 through the input/output controller 51, and on the information 53a retrieved from the memory 53 for the start and stop positions, the main controller 52 directs to rotate the display assembly 34 during or after the slide of the support frame 22 toward a predetermined position, and thus the display devices are switched in the complex display apparatus 20.

Various changes and modifications are possible in the present invention and may be understood to be within the present invention.