Title:
Collapsible paintball pod
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
According to various principles of the present invention, a collapsible paintball container may include a plurality of cylindrical sections arranged to form a holder sized to contain a supply of paintballs in a expanded state and arranged to fit one within another in a collapsed state. The container has a closed end and an open end. A lid can be provided to cover the open end and can be hingedly connected to the container. A spring or other biasing member can be provided to bias the lid in an open position when the lid is opened. The biasing member may also bias the lid in a closed position when the lid is closed. A locking member can be provided to retain the paintball container in its expanded state.



Inventors:
Holbrook, Doug (Latrobe, PA, US)
Telford, Edward S. (Greensburg, PA, US)
Application Number:
11/478502
Publication Date:
01/03/2008
Filing Date:
06/28/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D6/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GROSSO, HARRY A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SIMPLE IP LAW, P.C. (Tualatin, OR, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A paintball container, comprising: a plurality of cylindrical sections arranged to form a hollow tube having a closed end and an open end, the cylindrical sections further arranged to fit one within another in a collapsed state; and a lid to cover the open end.

2. The paintball container of claim 1, wherein the plurality of cylindrical sections includes a top section, at least one intermediate section, and a bottom section having respectively decreasing diameters.

3. The paintball container of claim 2, wherein the cylindrical sections are arranged such that the bottom section fits within the at least one intermediate section and the at least one intermediate section fits within the top section when the container is in the collapsed state.

4. The paintball container of claim 2, wherein the top section comprises a recessed area having a depressible contact area that can be pushed inward to release the lid.

5. The paintball container of claim 1, further comprising a locking mechanism to selectively retain the plurality of cylindrical sections in an expanded state.

6. The paintball container of claim 5, wherein the locking mechanism comprises: a channel disposed along a wall of a first section, the channel including a catch groove; a guide element attached to an adjacent wall of a second, mating section, wherein the guide element is arranged within the channel of the first section and configured to slide within the channel between a second end of the channel in the collapsed state and towards a first end of the channel in the expanded state; and wherein the catch groove is arranged proximal to the first end of the channel, and wherein the guide element is configured to be arranged within the catch groove of the channel to lock the first and second sections in an extended relationship.

7. The paintball container of claim 1, further comprising a hinge attaching the lid to the paintball container, wherein the hinge permits opening of the lid without detaching the lid from the container.

8. The paintball container of claim 1, further comprising: a hinge connecting the lid to the paintball container, the hinge including a spring that biases the lid in an open position when the lid is opened.

9. The paintball container of claim 4, wherein the lid comprises a locking lip disposed along the perimeter of the lid that engages a corresponding portion of the paintball container and holds the lid in a closed position.

10. The paintball container of claim 9, wherein the locking lip comprises a latch that corresponds to a ridge arranged proximal to the recessed area of the top section.

11. The paintball container of claim 4, wherein the recessed area comprises two longitudinal slots formed spaced apart from one another through a sidewall of the paintball container to permit the recessed area to be depressed inward when pushed by a user.

12. The paintball container of claim 11, wherein the top section comprises a flexible material arranged to cover the two slots in the recessed area.

13. A paintball container, comprising: a plurality of cylindrical sections arranged together to form a hollow tube in an expanded state having a size sufficient to hold a quantity of paintballs, the tube having a closed end and an open end, and wherein the cylindrical sections are further arranged to fit one within another in a collapsed state; a lid to cover the open end; a hinge connecting the lid to the paintball container; a biasing member arranged proximal to the hinge, the biasing member configured to bias the lid toward an open position when the lid is opened.

14. The paintball container of claim 13, wherein one or more of the plurality of cylindrical sections include a channel for receiving a guide member of a corresponding section, and wherein the channel includes a catch groove disposed proximal to one end of the channel.

15. The paintball container of claim 14, wherein the guide member slides along the channel when the corresponding sections are transitioned between a collapsed and an expanded state, and wherein the guide member is received into the catch groove to lock corresponding sections in the expanded state.

16. The paintball container according to claim 15, wherein the guide member is received into the catch groove by rotating the corresponding sections with respect to one another.

17. A paintball container for containing a quantity of paintballs, said container comprising: a plurality of tubular sections sized and configured to mate with each other in a collapsible and expandable relationship; a lid hingedly attached to a first tubular section to cover an opening of the container, said lid comprising a latching lip configured to latchingly engage a portion of the first tubular section proximal to a push tab, wherein depressing the push tab releases engagement of the lip with the first tubular section; and a biasing member configured to bias the lid toward an open position.

18. The paintball container according to claim 17, wherein the plurality of tubular sections comprises: a first tubular section having a first opening at a top portion, a second opening at a bottom portion, and a sidewall extending from the top portion to the bottom portion; a second tubular section having a third opening at a top portion, a fourth opening at a bottom portion, and a sidewall extending from the top portion to the bottom portion, wherein the bottom portion of the second tubular section is sized to fit within the second opening of the first tubular section and wherein the top portion of the second tubular section cannot fit through the second opening; said second tubular section configured to slide within said first tubular section between an extended and a collapsed position, wherein a majority of said second tubular section is configured to fit within said first tubular section when in the collapsed position; a third tubular section having a fifth opening at a top portion, a closed bottom portion, and a sidewall extending from the top portion to the bottom portion, wherein the bottom portion of the third tubular section is sized to fit within the fourth opening of the second tubular section and wherein the top portion of the third tubular section cannot fit through the fourth opening; and said third tubular section configured to slide within said second tubular section and said first tubular section between an extended and a collapsed position, wherein a majority of said third tubular section is configured to fit within said first tubular section and said second tubular section when in the collapsed position.

19. The paintball container according to claim 17, further comprising a locking member for locking the tubular sections in an expanded position.

20. The paintball container according to claim 19, wherein the locking member comprises a groove and detent.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates generally to an apparatus for holding and dispensing paintballs, and in particular to a collapsible container adapted to be easily transported by a user for loading paintballs into a paintball gun hopper or magazine.

Pneumatic paintball guns are typically used for individual or team recreational sports games, such as “survival” or “capture the flag.” During a typical game, a paintball player may go through several hundred paintballs. Since most paintball hoppers or magazines hold 200 paintballs or less at a time, players generally carry additional paintballs in capped tubes or “pods.” Once the player has exhausted the paintballs in the hopper, the paintballs contained in a pod may be poured from the pod into the hopper.

Like many recreational activities, participation in paintball games typically requires the transportation of large amounts of equipment and accessories to a paintball field or other facility. For tournament play, this may require airline travel. Consequently, transporting the needed equipment to the paintball field can be cumbersome. In addition, the larger the volume of the equipment, the more storage space that is required for transporting and storing the equipment. In particular, numerous paintball pods may be transported to the paintball field. Conventional pods, however, are bulky and may take up valuable space. Thus, there is a need for a paintball pod that is able to minimize its size and thereby reduce its bulkiness when traveling or when not in use. SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to one aspect of the invention, a collapsible paintball container may comprise a plurality of cylindrical sections connected together in a collapsible relationship. In an expanded state, the sections can be arranged to form an elongated storage tube having an open end and a closed end. The sections can be further configured to fit one within another in a collapsed state. The collapsible paintball container can also include a lid to cover the open end and a hinge to connect the lid to the container. The hinge may include a spring or other biasing member to bias the lid toward an open position when the lid is opened and to bias the lid in a closed position when the lid is closed.

In one particular embodiment, a top section of the plurality of cylindrical sections may include a recessed area that provides a contact area for pushing inward to release the lid. The recessed area may, for instance, include two slots to provide flexibility that allows the recessed area to be depressed inward when pushed by a user. The paintball container may include a locking mechanism to retain the plurality of cylindrical sections in an expanded state until the locking mechanism is released by a user.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The above and other features and advantages of embodiments of the invention will become more readily apparent by reference to the following detailed description when considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a somewhat schematic perspective view of a collapsible paintball container constructed in accordance with various principles of the invention;

FIG. 2 is a somewhat schematic plan view of the collapsible paintball container of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a somewhat schematic cross-sectional side elevation view of the collapsible paintball container of FIG. 1, showing the container in a collapsed state.

FIG. 4 is a somewhat schematic side elevation view of the collapsible paintball container of FIG. 1, illustrating further aspects of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

As will be apparent to those skilled in the art from the following disclosure, the invention as described herein may be embodied in many different forms and should not be construed as limited to the specific embodiments set forth herein. Rather, these embodiments are provided so that this disclosure will fully convey the principles and scope of the invention to those skilled in the art.

FIG. 1 shows one embodiment of a collapsible paintball container 100 in accordance with one aspect of the invention. The paintball container 100 may be sized to hold any number of paintballs, but is preferably sized to hold a sufficient quantity of paintballs to substantially fill a standard-sized magazine or hopper. In this embodiment, for example, the paintball container 100 may be about eleven (11) to eleven and a half (11½) inches long and about three (3) to four (4) inches in diameter and may hold approximately one hundred and fifty (150) to two hundred (200) standard paintballs.

As shown in FIG. 1, the collapsible paintball container 100 of this embodiment comprises a hollow, cylindrical tube formed from several mating sections 50, 60, 70. The container 100 includes a closed end 10 and an opening 20 having a lid 30. The lid 30 may be a separate piece that is attached to the paintball container 100 by a hinge 40. A small lip along the perimeter of the lid 30 or other latching device can serve to hold the lid 30 in place when the lid 30 is closed.

FIG. 2 is a somewhat schematic plan view of the collapsible paintball container 100 of FIG. 1, showing the container 100 in an extended state. FIG. 3 is a somewhat schematic plan view of the collapsible paintball container 100, showing the container 100 in a collapsed state. Referring now additionally to FIGS. 2 and 3, the mating sections 50, 60, 70 of the collapsible paintball container 100 may comprise a plurality of cylindrical hollow sections 50, 60, 70 arranged together to form an elongated tube in an expanded state (FIG. 2), but sized and shaped to fit one within the other in a collapsed state (FIG. 3). In this embodiment, the paintball container can include three sections: a top section 50, an intermediate section 60, and a bottom section 70. However, the number of sections need not be so limited and may include any number of sections as desired.

To enable the sections of the paintball container 100 to retract and collapse one within the other, the top section 50, the intermediate section 60, and the bottom section 70 may have respectively decreasing diameters to allow each subsequent section to fit into the previous section. For example, when the diameter of the top section 50 is about three (3) inches, the diameter of the intermediate section 60 may then be less than three (3) inches to allow the intermediate section 60 to slide into and fit within the top section 50. The diameter of the bottom section 70 may then be less than the diameter of the intermediate section 60 to allow the bottom section 70 to slide into and fit within the intermediate section 60. One or more of the sections 50, 60, 70 may further be tapered from a top end toward a bottom end to provide a more rigid interference fit in an expanded state while facilitating easier collapse of the sections 50, 60, 70 together to form the collapsed state.

The lengths of each of the sections 50, 60, 70 may be sized as desired, considering, for instance, the lengths of the other sections and the desired overall length of the paintball container 100. In one arrangement, the top, middle, and bottom sections 50, 60, 70 are sized such that the middle and bottom sections 60, 70 fit completely within the top section 50. For example, the top section 50 may be about four (4) inches long and the intermediate and bottom sections 60, 70 may each be about three and a half (3.5) inches each in length. Thus, in this example, the overall collapsed height of the paintball container will be only about four (4) inches plus the lid thickness. The overall length of the paintball container 100 of this example when the sections 50, 60, 70 are expanded will be about eleven (11) inches plus the lid thickness.

FIG. 4 is a somewhat schematic side elevation view of the collapsible paintball container 100 of FIG. 1. Referring now additionally to FIG. 4, each section 50, 60, 70 can include a locking mechanism to lock the respective sections in place when the paintball container 100 is in an expanded position. In one embodiment, for example, the locking mechanism may comprise a guide element 80, such as a guide pin or detent, arranged on an inner or outer wall of one section, with a corresponding channel or groove 90 arranged in an adjacent wall of a mating section. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 4, a guide element 80 is arranged on an outer wall of the intermediate section 60, with the top section 50 including a channel 90 running along an interior wall thereof. A locking mechanism 95 may be provided to lock the container 100 in its expanded position. The locking mechanism 95 may, for instance, comprise a catch groove, a latch, or other mechanism that retains the guide member 80 in a lower end 93 of the channel 90.

With the guide member 80 arranged in the channel 90, the paintball container 100 can be expanded or collapsed. As the paintball container 100 is collapsed, the guide element 80 of the intermediate section 60 slides toward an upper end 91 of the channel 90. As the paintball container 100 is expanded, the guide element 80 of the intermediate section 60 slides towards the lower end 93 of the channel 90.

In this embodiment, the channel 90 includes a notch or catch groove 95 arranged on a side of channel 90 near its lower end 93 to receive the guide element 80. With the container 100 expanded, for instance, the intermediate tube 60 can be twisted (in this example in a clockwise direction) to position the guide member 80 in place in the catch groove 95 and, thus, lock the intermediate section 60 in the expanded position. To thereafter collapse the paintball container 100, the locking mechanism may be released by twisting the intermediate section 60 in an opposite (in this case, counterclockwise direction) and thereby sliding the guide element 80 out of the catch groove 95. The intermediate section 60 and the bottom section 70 can include a similar mechanism for retaining the sections in their expanded relationship.

Referring now to FIGS. 1-4, the top section 50 can include a push tab area 55 that provides a thumb or finger contact area that a user can depress to pop the lid 30 off. The push tab area 55 can be a recessed area located opposite from the hinge 40. The push tab area 55 may include one or more slots 57 cut into the top section 50. The slots 57 provide flexibility to allow the push tab area 55 of the top section 50 to be more easily depressed inward when the user pushes on the push tab area 55.

The lid 30 can also comprise a locking lip disposed along its perimeter. The locking lip mates with a corresponding upper edge of the top section 50. The locking lip can include a first portion that corresponds to the upper edge of the top section 50 near the push tab area 55 and a second portion that corresponds to the remaining upper edge of the top section 50. In one embodiment, the first portion of the locking lip provides a more positive latching action than the second portion of the locking lip. Further, the second portion of the locking lip preferably only remains latched when the first portion of the locking lip is latched onto the top section 50.

Conventional solutions have used a tab extending from the lid to allow a user to pry the lid open with a thumb or finger. Unfortunately, however, having a tab that extends past the maximum diameter of the lid may sometimes lead to accidental lid opening such as, for example, when a pod accidentally pushes up on a tab of another pod, or when the tab is otherwise bumped during game preparation or play.

According to another aspect of the present invention, the push tab area 55 in the top section 50 and the locking lip in the lid 30 of the collapsible paintball container 100 can work together such that the lid 30 need not have a tab to pop the lid 30 open. In this embodiment, when the user pushes in the push tab area 55, the latching portion of the lid 30 disengages from the top section 50 and the lid 30 is released. The hinge 40 may be spring-loaded such that the lid 30 pops open when the push tab area 55 is pushed and remains open until a user closes and snaps the lid 30 shut.

Referring specifically to FIGS. 2 and 4, the top section 50 may further include an overlay of material 59, such as rubber or other flexible yet substantially resilient material, disposed along a periphery of the container 100 near the opening. In one embodiment, for example, an overlay of rubber may be positioned around a substantial portion of an upper portion of the top section 50, which may include all of the periphery except the area where the lid is hinged to the top section 50. The overlay of rubber 59 may be, for example, 0.75 inches wide and extend just below the bottom of the two slots 57 in the push tab area 55. The overlay of rubber 59 can cover the two slots 57 and help provide resiliency to the push tab area 55 to assist that area 55 in springing back into place after being depressed by a user. The rubber overlay 59 may also assist in preventing water and debris from getting into the paintball container 100.

The collapsible paintball container or pod 100 may be formed of any of a variety of materials including molded plastic, aluminum, steel, or other materials commonly used for such applications and known within the art. In one embodiment, the collapsible paintball container 100 may be constructed of a plastic material, such as polypropylene or any other material of similar weight and strength.

Having described various exemplary embodiments of the invention, it is noted that numerous modifications and variations can be made by persons ordinarily skilled in the art in light of the above teachings. Therefore, it is to be understood that changes may be made to embodiments of the invention disclosed herein that are nevertheless still within the scope and the spirit of the invention as defined by the accompanying claims.