Title:
GAME MACHINE FOR PRACTICING PITCHING
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A game machine for practicing baseball pitching includes a cage including a rear score and pitch speed display assembly and a front console including a calculation and display circuit; a target below the display assembly and including flexible score panels and micro-switches each in rear of the panel; and an optoelectronic pitch speed measurement device including spaced first and second speed sensor. Pitching a ball toward the panel will cause the first and second speed sensors to sense the ball in first and second times respectively, and cause the calculation and display circuit to calculate a current pitch speed, show same, and update a high pitch speed if necessary; and in response to hitting the panel, the panel will flex to close the micro-switch by contacting, and activate the calculation and display circuit to increment a current score, show same, and update a high score if necessary.



Inventors:
Wu, Tien-hsi (Taipei, TW)
Application Number:
11/539895
Publication Date:
02/21/2008
Filing Date:
10/10/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B67/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
MCCLELLAN, JAMES S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Kao H. Lu (Havertown, PA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A game machine for practicing baseball pitching comprising: a cage having nets on a top and both sides thereof and including a rear display assembly including a numerical current pitch speed display, a numerical high pitch speed display, a numerical current score display being set to zero when the game machine is turned on, and a numerical high score display; and a front console including a coin insertion slot and a calculation and display circuit; a target mounted below the display assembly and including a plurality of flexible panels on a front face thereof, a rear frame thereof divided into a plurality of compartments, equal in number to the panels, each compartment including a flexible member mounted rearward of the panel, and a plurality of micro-switches each mounted rearward of the flexible member and spaced therefrom wherein each panel is marked by a numeral as a score; and an optoelectronic pitch speed measurement device including a first speed sensor mounted on an intermediate portion of the cage, a second speed sensor mounted proximate the target, a first light mounted on a top of the cage immediately above the first speed sensor, and a second light mounted on the top of the cage immediately above the second speed sensor, whereby inserting one or more coins into the coin insertion slot will cause the console to supply one or more balls, and pitching a ball toward one of the panels (i) will cause the first speed sensor to sense the ball as light emitted from the first light to the first speed sensor is interrupted by the ball and record a first time, cause the second speed sensor to sense the ball as light emitted from the second light to the second speed sensor is interrupted by the ball and record a second time, and cause the calculation and display circuit to calculate a current pitch speed by subtracting the first time from the second time, show the current pitch speed on the current pitch speed display, compare the current pitch speed with a previous high pitch speed shown on the high pitch speed display, and update the high pitch speed display if the current pitch speed exceeds the previous high pitch speed; and (ii) in response to hitting the panel, the flexible member associated with the panel will flex to close the micro-switch by contacting, activate the calculation and display circuit to increment a current score shown on the current score display by the score marked on the panel, cause the current score display to update same, compare the current score with a previous high score shown on the high score display, and update the previous high score if the current score exceeds the previous high score.

2. The game machine of claim 1, further comprising an inclined board mounted forwardly of the console by a predetermined distance, the board adapted to prevent the pitched ball from bouncing out of the front open space of the cage.

3. The game machine of claim 1, wherein each panel is formed of PVC (polyvinyl chloride).

4. The game machine of claim 1, wherein each of the first and second speed sensors is a LED (light-emitting diode).

5. The game machine of claim 1, wherein the calculation and display circuit comprises a microprocessor and decoder, a first display driving unit, a logic calculation unit, and a second display driving unit.

6. The game machine of claim 1, wherein the panels are arranged as a rectangle.

7. The game machine of claim 6, wherein the number of the panels is nine.

8. The game machine of claim 1, wherein the flexible member is spaced from the panel by a gap.

9. The game machine of claim 1, wherein the flexible member is hingedly mounted.

10. The game machine of claim 1, wherein the display assembly further comprises a numerical remaining time display.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of Invention

The present invention relates to game machines and more particularly to a highly interesting game machine for practicing baseball pitching.

2. Description of Related Art

Conventionally, a relatively large space, a pitcher, and a catcher all are required for practicing baseball pitching. However, for urban people this is difficult because available space is limited. Further, finding another person to play as a pitcher or catcher is difficult because they are many singles in our society.

Moreover, no conventional game machines enable a person playing as a pitcher to know his or her pitch speed because the cost of installing a baseball pitch speed measurement device is prohibitively high.

Hence, a need has arisen for an interesting, cost effective game machine for practicing baseball pitching and further the game machine enables a player practicing baseball pitching to know his or her pitch speed and whether a pitched ball has hit a strike zone so that the player can adjust his or her next pitch.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is therefore one object of the present invention to provide a game machine for practicing baseball pitching in which the game machine enables a player to immediately know whether a pitched ball has hit a strike zone so that the player can adjust his or her next pitch.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a game machine for practicing baseball pitching in which the game machine enables a player to immediately know his or her pitch speed so that the player can adjust his or her next pitch.

To achieve the above and other objects, the present invention provides a game machine for practicing baseball pitching comprising a cage having nets on its top and both sides and including a rear display assembly including a numerical current pitch speed display, a numerical high pitch speed display, a numerical current score display being set to zero when the game machine is turned on, a numerical high score display, and a numerical remaining time display; and a front console including a coin insertion slot and a calculation and display circuit; a target mounted below the display assembly and including a plurality of flexible panels on its front face, a rear frame divided into a plurality of compartments, equal in number to the panels, each compartment including a flexible member mounted rearward of the panel, and a plurality of micro-switches each mounted rearward of the flexible member and spaced therefrom wherein each panel is marked by a numeral as a score; and an optoelectronic pitch speed measurement device including a first speed sensor mounted on an intermediate portion of the cage, a second speed sensor mounted proximate the target, a first light mounted on a top of the cage immediately above the first speed sensor, and a second light mounted on the top of the cage immediately above the second speed sensor, whereby inserting one or more coins into the coin insertion slot will cause the console to supply one or more balls, and pitching a ball toward one of the panels (i) will cause the first speed sensor to sense the ball as light emitted from the first light to the first speed sensor is interrupted by the ball and record a first time, cause the second speed sensor to sense the ball as light emitted from the second light to the second speed sensor is interrupted by the ball and record a second time, and cause the calculation and display circuit to calculate a current pitch speed by subtracting the first time from the second time, show the current pitch speed on the current pitch speed display, compare the current pitch speed with a previous high pitch speed shown on the high pitch speed display, and update the high pitch speed display if the current pitch speed exceeds the previous high pitch speed; and (ii) in response to hitting the panel, the flexible member associated with the panel will flex to close the micro-switch by contacting, activate the calculation and display circuit to increment a current score shown on the current score display by the score marked on the panel, cause the current score display to update same, compare the current score with a previous high score shown on the high score display, and update the previous high score if the current score exceeds the previous high score.

The above and other objects, features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description taken with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a first preferred embodiment of game machine for practicing baseball pitching according to the invention;

FIG. 2 is a front view of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a side elevation in part section of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a rear view of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a top plan view of FIG. 1;

FIG. 6A is a rear perspective view of the target;

FIG. 6B is an enlarged view of one of the target units shown in FIG. 6A;

FIG. 6C is a sectional view taken along line C-C of FIG. 6B;

FIG. 6D is a view similar to FIG. 6C for illustrating the panel being flexed and the micro-switch being closed by the flexing in response to ball hitting thereon;

FIG. 7 is a flowchart depicting a process for calculating score according to the preferred embodiment of the invention; and

FIG. 8 is a flowchart depicting a process for calculating pitch speed according to the preferred embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring to FIGS. 1 to 8, a game machine for enabling a player to practice baseball pitching in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the invention is shown. The game machine comprises a cage 1 having nets on its top and both sides for ensuring safety. The cage 1 comprises the following components.

A display assembly 11 is vertically provided in the rear. An upper portion of the display assembly 11 is provided with a numerical current pitch speed display 111, a numerical high pitch speed display 112, a numerical current score display 113, a numerical high score display 114, and a numerical remaining time display 115.

A front console 12 comprises an on/off switch 121, a push button 122, a coin count 123, a coin insertion slot 124, and a box 125 having a circuit board and associated electronic components including a microprocessor and decoder 23, a first display driving unit 24, a logic calculation unit 35, and a second display driving unit 36.

An inclined board 13 is provided forwardly of the console 12 by a small distance. The board 13 is adapted to prevent a pitched ball from bouncing out of the front open space of the cage 1. A plurality of sliding doors 14 are provided on either side. Each door 14 has a handle 141 on either side for facilitating opening or closing of the door 14. A plurality of hinge members 15 are provided on either side for detachably securing a front half portion of the cage 1 to a rear half portion thereof. A second handle 16 is detachably provided on either side of the display assembly 11 for facilitating the transportation of the game machine.

As shown in FIGS. 1 and 6A-6D, the game machine further comprises a rectangular target 2 provided on a front face of the display assembly 11 immediately below the displays 111-115. The target 2 comprises nine flexible spaced panels 2A on its front face, the panels 2A being preferably made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride), a rear rectangular frame (not numbered) divided into nine compartments 2B each having a flexible member 20 provided rearward of the panel 2A and spaced therefrom by a gap 20A, nine pins 22 each for securing at a top edge of the flexible member 20 to both sides of the compartment 2B, nine micro-switches 21 each provided rearward of the flexible member 20 and spaced therefrom, and nine elongate stops 20B each attached to a bottom edge of the flexible member 20. Each of the panels 2A is marked by a numeral as score when. As shown in FIG. 1, “30” is marked on the central panel 2A, “5” is marked on each of four corner panels 2A, and “10” is marked on a middle panel 2A on each of four sides of the target 2.

The game machine further comprises an optoelectronic pitch speed measurement device 3 including a first transverse frame member 31 provided in an intermediate portion of the cage 1, a second transverse frame member 31 provided proximate the target 2, a first speed sensor 32 provided on the first frame member 31, a second speed sensor 33 provided on the second frame member 31, a first light 34 provided on a top of the cage 1 immediately above the first speed sensor 32, and a second light 34 provided on the top of the cage 1 immediately above the second speed sensor 33. Preferably, each of the speed sensors 32 and 33 is implemented by a LED (light-emitting diode).

A pitching practice of the invention will be described in detailed below. The current score is set to zero when the game machine is turned on. First, a player may insert one or more coins into the coin insertion slot 124. For example, one coin can buy one ball. A corresponding numeral is then shown on the coin count 123. Next, the player presses the push button 122 to cause a ball pool (not shown) to deliver the corresponding number of balls 100 to a ball supply. The player may then pitch a ball 100 toward the desired one of the panels 2A (i.e., used as a strike zone). As shown in FIGS. 1 and 8, the first speed sensor 32 first senses the passing ball 100 as light emitted from the first light 34 to itself is interrupted by the ball 100 and records a first time in a memory (not shown). Next, the second speed sensor 33 senses the passing ball 100 as light emitted from the second light 34 to itself is interrupted by the ball 100 and records a second time in the memory. The logic calculation unit 35 electronically connected to both the speed sensors 32 and 33 then performs operations to calculate a pitch speed by subtracting the first time from the second time. Also, the second display driving unit 36 is enabled by the logic calculation unit 35 to show the pitch speed on the current pitch speed display 111. At this time, the logic calculation unit 35 also compares the current pitch speed with a previous high pitch speed shown on the high pitch speed display 112. The high pitch speed display 112 is updated by the second display driving unit 36 if the current pitch speed exceeds the previous high pitch speed.

As shown in FIGS. 6C, 6D, and 7, the panel 2A flexes slightly when the ball 100 hits thereon. Also, due to the panel 2A made of flexible PVC and the gap 20A formed between the flexible member 20 and the panel 2A, each time the ball 100 hits on the panel 2A will cause the flexible member 20 flexes to contact the micro-switch 21 one time which in turn to have micro-switch 21 closed its contacts to activate the microprocessor and decoder 23. The microprocessor and decoder 23 then records a hit in its associated memory and activates the first display driving unit 24. Further, the current score is incremented by a value equal to the numeral marked on the hit panel 2A. The current score display 113 updates same as activated by the first display driving unit 24. At this time, the microprocessor and decoder 23 also compares the current score with a previous high score shown on the high score display 114. The high score display 114 is updated by the first display driving unit 24 if the current score exceeds the previous high score.

The game is over when either the count shown on the remaining time display 115 is decremented to zero or all of the balls 100 are used in pitching. In view of the above, the game machine is very interesting.

While the invention herein disclosed has been described by means of specific embodiments, numerous modifications and variations could be made thereto by those skilled in the art without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention set forth in the claims.