Title:
Motorized oscillating mobile apparatus
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A mobile apparatus including a motor and one or more mobile assemblies. Each mobile assembly includes a rotational coupling unit oscillating between winding to store energy and unwinding to supply energy with rotation alternately in a first direction and in a second direction. The mobile assembly includes a mobile connected to the coupling unit for rotation by the coupling unit alternately in the first direction and in the second direction. The motor is connected to and stores energy into a first one of the mobile assemblies. In one preferred embodiment, the motor is a low duty-cycle impulse motor that conserves energy. A typically mobile apparatus has an expected battery life of well beyond 12 months.



Inventors:
Ostrow, Laurence Jeffrey (Tiburon, CA, US)
Lightner, Bruce D. (La Jolla, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/541349
Publication Date:
04/03/2008
Filing Date:
09/29/2006
Assignee:
Dancing Helix LLC
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63H33/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CEGIELNIK, URSZULA M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DAVID E. LOVEJOY (Novato, CA, US)
Claims:
1. A mobile apparatus comprising: a drive unit, a plurality of mobile assemblies, each mobile assembly including, a coupling unit for rotation in response to the drive unit to wind to store energy and to unwind to release energy thereby oscillating with rotation alternately in a first direction and in a second direction, a mobile connected to the coupling unit for rotation alternately in the first direction and in the second direction.

2. The mobile apparatus of claim 1 wherein a first one of the mobile assemblies rotates in said first direction during certain times and wherein a second one of the mobile assemblies counter rotates in said second direction during said certain times.

3. The mobile apparatus of claim 2 wherein one of the mobile assemblies includes a helix-shaped mobile.

4. The mobile apparatus of claim 2 wherein the first one of the mobile assemblies includes a first helix-shaped mobile and the second one of the mobile assemblies includes a second helix-shaped mobile where the second helix-shaped mobile is smaller than the first helix-shaped mobile.

5. The mobile apparatus of claim 3 wherein the second one of the mobile assemblies is nested in the first one of the mobile assemblies.

6. The mobile apparatus of claim 2 wherein one of the mobile assemblies includes a diamond-shaped mobile.

7. The mobile apparatus of claim 2 wherein one of the mobile assemblies includes a circular-shaped mobile.

8. The mobile apparatus of claim 1 wherein a first one of the mobile assemblies is series connected to and concentrically nested with a second one of the mobile assemblies.

9. The mobile apparatus of claim 1 wherein a first one of the mobile assemblies is series connected to and concentrically nested with a second one of the mobile assemblies and wherein a third one of the mobile assemblies is series connected to and vertically cascaded with the first one of the mobile assemblies and parallel connected to the second one of the mobile assemblies.

10. The mobile apparatus of claim 1 wherein said drive unit drives the mobiles assemblies with a low duty-cycle and wherein said drive unit is battery powered.

11. The mobile apparatus of claim 1 wherein said drive unit drives the mobiles assemblies with a low duty-cycle.

12. The mobile apparatus of claim 11 wherein said duty-cycle is less than 15%.

13. The mobile apparatus of claim 1 wherein said coupling unit is an elastomer.

14. A mobile assembly comprising: a coupling unit for rotation to wind to store energy in response to being driven by a low duty-cycle drive unit and to unwind to release energy when not being driven whereby the coupling unit oscillates with rotation alternately in a first direction and in a second direction, a mobile for connection to the coupling unit for rotation alternately in the first direction and in the second direction, and wherein the coupling unit and the mobile are characterized by having a one-cycle impulse response of less than five minutes.

15. The mobile assembly of claim 14 wherein said mobile is a slow-wave discrete-element torsional transmission line.

16. The mobile assembly of claim 14 wherein the mobile assembly includes a helix-shaped mobile.

17. The mobile apparatus of claim 14 wherein the mobile assembly includes a diamond-shaped mobile.

18. The mobile apparatus of claim 14 wherein the mobile assembly includes a circular-shaped mobile.

19. The mobile apparatus of claim 14 wherein said coupling unit is an elastomer.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates to mobiles and particularly to dynamic oscillating mobiles driven by a drive unit.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

It is popular these days for people to have many different types of items in homes, offices and other places that, when watched, bring a feeling of calmness and relaxation or which draw attention and interest. These items include aquariums, computer screen-savers with an aquarium or other pleasing image, fountains and waterfalls and they all provide rhythmical wave patterns that can lead to a state of greater relaxation, a sense of peace and calmness. They produce an effect that is similar to the effect of being out at the ocean and watching the waves.

Currently Feng Shui, the Chinese art of creating balanced and healthy living environments, has found acceptance in modern American interior design. They define rhythmically moving mobiles as Chi or energy generating. There is a need for mobiles that operate in pleasing rhythmical ways and that therefore align with Feng Shui's ideas of rhythmical movement of objects and things hanging to create healthier and happier living space.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,832,944, having the same inventor as the present application, is for a motor driven helix-shaped mobile, commonly marketed under the name Dancing Helix®, having parallel ribs aligned and clamped onto a vertical spine that functions as a slow-wave discrete-element torsional transmission line. The spine is attached to a motor which turns ON and OFF at variable intervals, causing the spine to twist, affecting an apparent spiral motion through the length of spine as the ribs rotate. The motor ON and OFF sequencing is set to coordinate with the length and material of the spine and the attached ribs and weights. In a typical operation for oscillatory motion, the motor is set to a 3 minute ON and 3 minute OFF 50% duty-cycle. The mobile for battery operation typically is powered by 2 D batteries that have a one month battery life for typical operation.

Many other rotational mobiles are popular and have been available for years. The helix-shaped mobile in U.S. Design Pat. D505,639 entitled Kinetic Sculpture, the circular-shaped mobile in U.S. design Pat. D500,964 entitled Circular Shaped Kinetic Sculpture, the diamond-shaped mobile in U.S. Design Pat. D500,702 entitled Diamond Shaped Kinetic Sculpture, the helix-shaped mobile in U.S. design Pat. D497,833 entitled Kinetic Sculpture and in the helix-shaped mobile in U.S. design Pat. D487,034 entitled Kinetic Sculpture are typical. These mobiles are kinetic when powered by wind in a windy location. However, for still-air indoor use they are static and do not move. The helix-shaped mobile of U.S. Design Pat. No. D497,833 for example, operates in the wind with the inner and outer mobiles rotating in opposite directions under wind power. Such mobiles, however, are not designed to reverse direction and do not oscillate when driven indoors by conventional rotary motors.

While there have been many mobiles produced, there still is a need for improved dynamic mobiles that are both pleasing and interesting while preserving reducing power consumption when driven by a motor.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is a motorized oscillating mobile apparatus formed of a drive unit and one or more mobile assemblies. Each mobile assembly includes an energy storing coupling unit oscillating between winding to store energy and unwinding to supply energy. The rotation alternates between a first direction (for example clockwise) and a second direction (for example counterclockwise). The mobile assembly includes a mobile connected to the coupling unit for rotation by the coupling unit. The coupling unit alternately rotates the mobile in the first direction and in the second direction. The drive unit is connected to and stores energy into the mobile assembly. In one preferred embodiment, the drive unit includes a low duty-cycle impulse motor that conserves energy. A typical drive unit in the mobile apparatus has an expected battery life of well beyond 12 months.

The foregoing and other objects, features and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following detailed description in conjunction with the drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 depicts a schematic block diagram of a mobile apparatus including a drive unit for driving a mobile assembly where the mobile assembly includes a dynamic coupling unit attached to a mobile.

FIG. 2 depicts a graph of one embodiment of the ON/OFF timing of the drive unit of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 depicts a graph of the energy storage in one embodiment of a dynamic coupling unit of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 depicts one embodiment of a mobile apparatus including two mobiles assemblies, each assembly having a coupling unit and a mobile.

FIG. 5 depicts the mobile apparatus of FIG. 4 with one mobile element rotating in one direction and the other mobile element rotating in the opposite direction.

FIG. 6 depicts a mobile apparatus with a drive unit driving two vertically cascaded mobile assemblies, each assembly having a coupling unit and a mobile.

FIG. 7 depicts a mobile apparatus with a drive unit driving three vertically cascaded mobile assemblies, each assembly having a coupling unit a mobile.

FIG. 8 depicts a mobile apparatus with a drive unit driving three internally nested mobile assemblies and one vertically cascaded mobile assembly hanging below the nested mobile assemblies, each assembly having a coupling unit and a mobile.

FIG. 9 depicts a mobile apparatus with a drive unit driving two nested mobile assemblies, each assembly having a coupling unit and a mobile.

FIG. 10 is a front view of a mobile apparatus with a 28-rib slow-wave discrete-element torsional transmission line mobile in a stationary position with the drive unit OFF.

FIG. 11 is a front view of the mobile apparatus of FIG. 10 with the mobile in a moved position when the drive unit is ON.

FIG. 12 is a schematic representation of a series connection of a plurality of cascaded mobile assemblies.

FIG. 13 is a schematic representation of a series connection of a plurality of nested mobile assemblies and cascaded mobile assemblies.

FIG. 14 depicts a graph depicting the one cycle impulse response of the outer assembly and of the inner assembly of FIG. 9.

FIG. 15 depicts a graph of the interactive response of the outer assembly and the inner assembly of FIG. 9 for three successive impulses from the motor.

FIG. 16 depicts an alternate impulse pattern for the drive unit of FIG. 1.

FIG. 17 depicts another alternate impulse pattern for the drive unit of FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In FIG. 1, a motorized oscillating mobile apparatus 33 includes a drive unit 2 that drives a mobile assembly 30 including a dynamic coupling unit 31 and a mobile 10. The mobile 10 is intended to be an artistic object that attracts attention and is pleasing to watch, particularly when moving. In one preferred embodiment, the drive unit 2 includes a low duty-cycle impulse motor having a short ON drive period and a long OFF non-drive period whereby the amount of energy utilized to drive the mobile 10 is conserved. Typically, the motor operates on conventional size batteries such as two C batteries. During the ON period, an impulse from the drive unit 2 rotationally drives the dynamic coupling unit 31 in one direction and causes the coupling unit 31 to wind and to store energy from the impulse. The dynamic coupling unit 31 thereafter supplies energy by unwinding and rotationally driving the mobile 10. The momentum of the mobile continues the rotation until the dynamic coupling unit 31 becomes wound in the opposite direction. When fully wound in the opposite direction until the mobile stops, the dynamic coupling unit 31 reverses direction and unwinds, again driving the rotation of the mobile. The oscillation of the mobile and the coupling unit periodically continues back and forth in a first direction and in then in a second direction. The motor periodically impulses energy into the mobile assembly.

In one preferred embodiment, the dynamic coupling unit 31 is a polyurethane or other elastomer cord, which “winds up” when rotated in one direction by the drive unit 2 or the mobile 10 and which “unwinds” when not driven to rotate the mobile 10. The rotation of the mobile and the coupling unit 31 oscillates both in a positive rotation (+R), for example clockwise, and in a negative rotation (−R), for example counterclockwise. The motor impulse period, the motor duty-cycle, the elasticity of the dynamic coupling unit and the weight and dimensions of the mobile interact to cause the mobile 10 to oscillate, rotating first in one direction and then to rotate in the opposite direction. During the operation, the mobile 10 repeatedly switches rotation direction where the frequency of switching rotational direction is pleasing to a viewer. Typically, the switching of direction occurs in less than a minute or so for viewing pleasure. However, any dynamic operation and any time period desired may be used.

In FIG. 2, a timing diagram for the drive unit 2 of FIG. 1 is shown. For the FIG. 2 timing diagram, drive unit 2 is an impulse motor with a TON period and a TOFF period forming a whole period T. Typically, TON is small compared with TOFF, for example, 1 second and 60 second, respectively. With such timing, the drive unit 2 has a small duty-cycle of 1/60 or about 1.67%. Accordingly, with such a small duty-cycle, the battery life of drive unit 2 is very high. For example, the battery life of the 50% duty-cycle motor of U.S. Pat. No. 6,832,944 has been found to be from 1 to 2 months and a battery life for a 1.67% duty-cycle motor is approximately 30 times longer, that is, from 30 to 60 months. While differences in power requirements may change the battery life depending on the weight of the mobile and other parameters, none-the-less the low duty-cycle motor has a much longer battery life which, in general, is substantially longer than 12 months and will often exceed 24 months depending on the mobile.

In FIG. 3, a graph is shown depicting the rotation of the coupling element 31 in response to being driven by drive unit 2 of FIG. 1 with the driving pulse of FIG. 2. The ON pulse starts at t0 and continues for 1 second until t1. The ON pulse between t0 and t1 winds the coupling element 31 by rotation of drive shaft 2-1 a number of turns as a function of the speed of the drive unit 2 and starts the mobile rotating in a first direction. For an 8 revolutions per second drive unit 2, a 1 second pulse winds the coupling element approximately 8 turns. When the drive unit 2 is OFF at t1 and drive shaft 2-1 is held stationary, the coupling element begins to unwind and continues to drive the mobile in the same first direction. At about t2, the coupling element is unwound to its starting state and continues winding in the same first direction as the result of the momentum force of the mobile 10 until fully counter-wound at t3. At t3, the coupling element begins to unwind and drives the mobile in the opposite second direction. At about t4, the coupling element is again unwound to its starting state and continues winding in the same second direction until fully wound at t5. At t5, the coupling element begins to unwind and drives the mobile in the first direction. At about t6, the coupling element is unwound to its starting state and continues winding in the first direction until fully counter-wound at t7. At t7, the coupling element begins to unwind and drives the mobile in the second direction. At about t8, the coupling element is unwound to its starting state and continues winding in the second direction until fully wound at t9. At t9, the coupling element begins to unwind in the first direction until at t10, a new impulse from the motor fully winds the coupling element at t11 and the oscillating process continues as before with added energy from the impulse between t10 and t11.

The drive unit 2 and mobile assembly 30 of FIG. 1 operate generally in the manner described in connection with FIG. 2 and FIG. 3 for many different types of mobiles. For each mobile 10, the motor parameters including duty cycle and torque, and the coupling element 31 parameters, including elasticity, are tailored to achieve a pleasant oscillating operation.

In the present application, the term “one-cycle impulse response” for a mobile assembly means the response time for one cycle of a mobile assembly after the mobile assembly has been driven by a drive unit with a single drive impulse. Typically, the drive impulse has a short duration of, for example, one second. The “one-cycle impulse response” is the amount of time that elapses until the mobile assembly, including the mobile and coupling unit, has fully wound in a first direction to a momentary stop and then has fully unwound and wound in the opposite direction to a momentary stop. It has been observed that for small mobiles of less than approximately 24 inches in radial diameter, the appearance of the oscillations are pleasant when the “one-cycle impulse response” is less than five minutes. Typically, the “one-cycle impulse response” is less than one minute. When mobile assemblies are series or parallel connected, both for cascaded connections and nested connections, the mobile assemblies farther from the drive unit have a pleasant appearance when the “one-cycle impulse response” is different (typically greater) than for mobile assemblies closer to the drive unit. If the “one-cycle impulse responses” of connected mobile assemblies are substantially different, then the combined response of the connected mobile assemblies driven by a low duty-cycle drive unit tends to produce pleasant counter revolutions.

In FIG. 4 and FIG. 5, a motorized oscillating mobile apparatus 33 includes a first outer mobile assembly 30-1 and includes a mobile 10-1 having a design of U.S. Pat. D487,034 and a first coupling element 31-1. The coupling element 31-1 connects between the drive shaft 2-1 of drive unit 2 and the mobile 10-1. A second inner mobile assembly 30-2 is series connected to the first outer mobile assembly 30-1 and includes a 7-point star mobile 10-2 having a second coupling element 31-2. The coupling element 31-2 connects between mobile 10-1 and the internal 7-point star mobile 10-2. The assemblies 30-1 and 30-2 are different in a number of respects. Generally, the outer mobile 10-1 is heavier and larger than the inner mobile 10-2. Also, the coupling unit 31-1 has a greater turning resistance than the coupling unit 30-2 and requires a greater force to wind then the force required for the coupling unit 30-2.

The operation of the FIG. 4 and FIG. 5 motorized oscillating mobile apparatus 33 and starts with the outer mobile assembly 30-1 operating as described in connection with FIG. 1 and FIG. 2. The inner mobile assembly 30-2 initially follows the outer mobile assembly 30-1. However, because the assemblies 30-1 and 30-2 are different in weight, diameter and elasticity of the coupling element and produce different amounts of momentum, the motorized operation soon results in the mobile 10-1 having a rotation in the opposite direction as the rotation for mobile 10-2. The mobiles 10-1 and 10-2 reverse direction of rotation at different times so that at times the mobiles 10-1 and 10-2 are rotating in the same direction and at other times in opposite directions with each having periodic different times for switching direction.

In FIG. 6, a motorized oscillating mobile apparatus 33 includes a first top mobile assembly 30-1 connected in series and cascaded with a second mobile assembly 30-2. The mobile assembly 30-1 includes a mobile 10-1 having a design of U.S. Pat. D497,833 and a first coupling element 31-1 like described in FIG. 4. The coupling element 31-1 connects between the drive shaft 2-1 of drive unit 2 and the mobile 10-1. The second cascaded lower mobile assembly 30-2 includes a mobile 10-2 like mobile 10-1 and has a second coupling element 31-2. The coupling element 31-2 connects in series between mobile 10-1 and the mobile 10-2. The series connected and cascaded assemblies 30-1 and 30-2 are different in a number of respects. The coupling unit 31-1 is less elastic than the coupling unit 30-2 and requires a greater force to wind then the force required for the coupling unit 30-2.

The operation of the FIG. 6 motorized oscillating mobile apparatus 33 starts with the upper mobile assembly 30-1 operating as described in connection with FIG. 1 and FIG. 2. The lower mobile assembly 30-2 initially follows the upper mobile assembly 30-1. However, because the assemblies 30-1 and 30-2 are different with different once-cycle impulse responses and are connected in series, the motorized operation soon results in the mobile 10-1 having a rotation in the opposite direction as the rotation for mobile 10-2. The mobiles 10-1 and 10-2 reverse direction of rotation at different times so that at times the mobiles 10-1 and 10-2 are rotating in the same direction and at other times are rotating in opposite directions with periodic different times for switching direction of rotation.

In one specific implementation of the FIG. 6 motorized mobile assembly 30-1, the mobile 10-1 is a 17 inch (43 cm) kinetic helix-shaped sculpture of the U.S. Pat. D497,833 designs. Such kinetic helix-shaped sculptures are available, for example, from Twirly Things (www.twirlythings.com) under the name, Double Cosmix™ Helix Copper 17″. The outer mobile 10-1 is made of sheet copper and measures approximately 17 inches (43 cm) in height and in diameter and weights approximately 300 grams. The inner mobile 10-2 is another kinetic helix-shaped sculpture made of sheet copper and measures approximately 14 inches (36 cm) in height and in diameter and weights approximately 100 grams. The coupling element 31-1 is a 1.5 mm stretchy polyurethane cord. The cord for coupling element 31-1 is tied or otherwise fastened into an elongated loop where each of the two sides of the loop has a 1.5 mm diameter and has a length of approximately 2.5 inches (6.4 cm). The polyurethane cord of coupling element 31-1 loops at one end around a hook 5-1 of motor shaft 2-1 and loops at the other end around a hook 5-2 rigidly affixed to mobile 10-1. The coupling element 31-2 is a 0.7 mm polyurethane cord. The cord for coupling element 31-2 is tied or otherwise fastened into an elongated loop where each of the two sides of the loop has a 0.7 mm diameter and has a length of approximately 1 inch (2.54 cm). The polyurethane cord of coupling element 31-2 loops at one end around an inner hook (not shown) of outer mobile 10-1 and loops at the other end around a hook 5-3 rigidly affixed to mobile 10-2.

The stretchy cord used for the coupling elements 31-1 and 31-2 and in other embodiments of coupling units 31 is available as polyurethane elastic beading cord from numerous sources including Pepperell Braiding Company, Inc. (www.pepperell.com) which manufactures and sells polyurethane elastic cord in various diameters. The cords are sold under the trade mark Stretch Magic®,

In the FIG. 6 example described, an impulse of 2 seconds from a 1.92 revolution/second motor, resulted in a 34 second impulse response for the 17 inch kinetic helix-shaped mobile assembly 30-1. An impulse of 2 seconds from a 1.92 revolution/second motor, resulted in a 46 second impulse response for the 14 inch kinetic helix-shaped mobile assembly 30-2.

In FIG. 7, a motorized oscillating mobile apparatus 33 includes a first top mobile assembly 30-1, a second mobile assembly 30-2 and a third mobile assembly 30-3 connected in series with drive unit 2. Each of the mobile assemblies 30-1, 30-2 and 30-3 includes a diamond-shaped mobile 10-1 having a design of U.S. Pat. D500,702 and a respective coupling element 31-1, 30-2 and 30-3. The coupling element 31-1 series connects between the drive shaft 2-1 of drive unit 2 and the mobile 10-1. A second cascaded lower mobile assembly 30-2 includes a diamond-type mobile 10-2 like mobile 10-1 and has a second coupling element 31-2. The coupling element 31-2 is connected in series between diamond-type mobile 10-1 and the diamond-type mobile 10-2. A third cascaded lower mobile assembly 30-3 includes diamond-type mobile 10-3 like mobile 10-1 and has a third coupling element 31-3. The coupling element 31-2 connects in series between diamond-type mobile 10-2 and the diamond-type mobile 10-3.

In one embodiment of FIG. 7, the series connected and cascaded mobile assemblies 30-1, 30-2 and 30-3 are different in a number of respects. The coupling unit 31-1 has a greater turning resistance (less elasticity) than the coupling unit 30-2 and the coupling unit 30-2 has a greater turning resistance than the coupling unit 30-3. A greater force is required to wind coupling unit 31-1 then the force required for the coupling unit 30-2 and a greater force is required to wind coupling unit 31-2 then the force required to wind the coupling unit 30-3. With this cascaded series arrangement, mobile 30-3 rotates at a greater speed than mobile 10-2 and mobile 10-2 rotates at a greater speed than mobile 10-1. However, the rotation of each is oscillatory, first in one direction and then in the opposite direction. The direction switching is different for each of the mobiles 10-1, 10-2 and 10-3.

The operation of the FIG. 7 motorized mobile assembly starts generally with the upper mobile assembly 30-1 operating as described in connection with FIG. 1 and FIG. 2. The lower mobile assemblies 30-2 and 30-3 initially follow the upper mobile assembly 30-1. However, because the assemblies 30-1, 30-2 and 30-3 are different and in series, the motorized operation soon results in the mobile 10-1 having a rotation in the opposite direction as the rotation for mobile 10-2 and the mobile 10-2 has a rotation in a direction opposite to the rotation of mobile 10-3. The mobiles 10-1, 10-2 and 10-3 reverse direction of rotation at different times so that at times the mobiles 10-1, 10-2 and 10-3 are rotating in the same direction and at other times in different directions with periodic different times for switching directions.

In FIG. 8, a motorized oscillating mobile apparatus 33 includes a first outer mobile assembly 30-1 with a mobile 10-1 having a design of U.S. Pat. D 487,034 and a first coupling element 31-1. The coupling element 31-1 connects between the drive shaft 2-1 of drive unit 2 and the mobile 10-1. A second inner mobile assembly 30-2 includes a mobile 10-2 having a design of U.S. Pat. D 487,034 and having a second coupling element 31-2. The coupling element 31-2 connects between mobile 10-1 and the mobile 10-2. A third inner mobile assembly 30-3 includes a star-type mobile 10-3 having a third coupling element 31-3. The coupling element 31-3 connects between mobile 10-2 and the star-type mobile 10-3. A fourth cascaded mobile assembly 30-4 includes a circular mobile 10-4 having a design of U.S. Pat. D500,964 and having a fourth coupling element 31-4. The coupling element 31-4 connects between mobile 10-1 and the mobile assembly 30-4. The mobile assembly 30-4 is parallel connected with mobile assembly 30-2 and with mobile assemblies, such as mobile assembly 30-3, series connected with mobile 30-2.

In one embodiment, the assemblies 30-1, 30-2 and 30-3 of FIG. 8 are different in a number of respects. The coupling unit 31-1 has a greater turning resistance than the coupling unit 30-2 and the coupling unit 30-2 has a greater turning resistance than the coupling unit 30-3. A greater force is required to wind coupling unit 31-1 then the force required for the coupling unit 30-2 and a greater force is required to wind coupling unit 31-2 then the force required to wind the coupling unit 30-3. With this arrangement, mobile 30-3 rotates at a greater speed than mobile 10-2 and mobile 10-2 rotates at a greater speed than mobile 10-1.

In FIG. 9, a motorized oscillating mobile apparatus 33 includes a first outer mobile assembly 30-1 and a second inner mobile assembly 30-2 series connected with assembly 30-2 nested within mobile assembly 30-1. The first outer mobile assembly 30-1 includes a mobile 10-1 having a design of the outer mobile of U.S. Pat. D497,833 and a first coupling element 31-1. The coupling element 31-1 connects between the drive shaft 2-1 of drive unit 2 and the mobile 10-1. The second inner mobile assembly 30-2 includes a mobile 10-2, like and smaller than mobile 10-1, having a second coupling element 31-2. The coupling element 31-2 is series connected between mobile 10-1 and the mobile 10-2. The assemblies 30-1 and 30-2 are series connected and different in a number of respects. Generally, the outer mobile 10-1 is heavier and larger than the inner mobile 10-2. Also, the coupling unit 31-1 has a greater turning resistance than the coupling unit 30-2 and requires a greater force to wind then the force required for winding the coupling unit 30-2.

The operation of the FIG. 9 motorized oscillating mobile apparatus 33 starts generally with the outer mobile assembly 30-1 operating as described in connection with FIG. 1 and FIG. 2. The inner mobile assembly 30-2 initially follows the outer mobile assembly 30-1. However, because the assemblies 30-1 and 30-2 are different, the motorized operation soon results in the mobile 10-1 having a rotation in the opposite direction as the rotation direction for mobile 10-2. The mobiles 10-1 and 10-2 reverse direction of rotation at different times so that at times the mobiles 10-1 and 10-2 are rotating in the same direction and at other times in opposite directions with periodic different times for switching direction.

In one specific implementation of the FIG. 9 motorized oscillating mobile apparatus 33, the outer mobile 10-1 is a 17 inch (43 cm) kinetic helix-shaped sculpture and the inner mobile is a 14 inch (36 cm) kinetic helix-shaped sculpture of the U.S. Pat. D497,833 type. Each of the mobile assemblies 30-1 and 30-2 of FIG. 9 are the same as described in connection with FIG. 6 and have the same impulse responses. The dynamic appearance of the mobile apparatus 33 of FIG. 9 is the same as the dynamic appearance of the mobile apparatus 33 of FIG. 6, except that FIG. 6 is cascaded and FIG. 9 is nested.

FIG. 10 and FIG. 11 depict a motorized oscillating mobile apparatus 33 that includes a mobile assembly 30 where the kinetic-helix mobile 10 is of the type described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,832,944 and marketed under the name Dancing Helix®. The kinetic-helix mobile 10 in operation forms a three-dimensional, rotating and counter-rotating (clockwise and counter-clockwise) helix formed by a slow-wave discrete-element torsional transmission line. The coupling unit 31 in FIG. 10 and FIG. 11 is combined with the slow-wave discrete-element torsional transmission line 3 of U.S. Pat. No. 6,832,944 to form the mobile assembly 30. The number of ribs attached to the spine 1 and the distance between ribs in mobile 10 can vary and these variations will affect the over all length of the mobile. Mobile lengths are typically from 3 to 15 feet, but mobiles of 30 feet or more are possible. One requirement is that the spine 1 be strong enough to support the weight of the ribs while being elastic enough to allow rotation of the spine by the ribs. The rotational period of the mobile 10 is much longer than the period of the coupling device 31 since the elasticity of the coupling device 31 is much greater than the elasticity of the spine of the mobile 10.

In the present application, the term “one-cycle impulse response” for a kinetic-helix mobile 10 means the response time for one cycle of the mobile (without coupling element) after the mobile has been driven by a drive unit with a single drive impulse. Typically, the drive impulse has a short duration of, for example, one second. The “one-cycle impulse response” is the amount of time that elapses until the mobile has fully wound in a first direction to a momentary stop and then has fully unwound and wound in the opposite direction to a momentary stop.

In one embodiment, the rotational speed of mobile 10 is generally within a range of from 5 to 30 rpm with between 16 to 20 rpm being optimum for 11 inch ribs. For longer ribs, the speed tends to be slower, for example, a 21 inch rib can use a speed of 8 rpm. The longer the rib, the faster the speed of a bead or other rib weight at the end of a rib and hence the greater the momentum and the torsion forces on the spine 1.

The speed of the drive unit 2 in one embodiment is 8 revolutions per second and hence is much faster than the targeted speed of from 16 to 20 rpm for mobile 10. The drive unit 2 with its higher speed stores energy into the coupling unit 31 of FIG. 10 and FIG. 11 using a sufficient number of pulses to supply energy into coupling unit 31 to achieve the desired rotational speed and appearance of mobile 10.

In FIG. 11, a frontal view of the 28-rib embodiment of mobile 10 in FIG. 10 is shown in a moving position with the drive unit 2 having been ON to energize the coupling unit 31. The FIG. 11 view is a snapshot in an instant of time since the mobile 10 is in continuous rotation. The ribs 31, 32, . . . , 328 and the rib weights 41L, 42L, . . . , 428L and the rib weights 41R, 42R, . . . , 428R have been rotated on spine 1. The shape formed for each of the rib weights 41L, 42L, . . . , 428L is that of a helix and the shape formed for each of the rib weights 41R, 42R, . . . , 428R so that together a dynamic three-dimensional helix is formed.

The impulse response of a typical 28 rib kinetic-helix mobile 10 is approximately 24 seconds. In response to an impulse from a motor (ON for about 1 second) a traveling wave propagates down the spine rotating the ribs and winding the spine until the ribs stop. Then, the traveling wave propagates up the spine rotating the ribs in the opposite direction as the spine unwinds until again the spine is stopped. The complete downward and upward propagation is the impulse response of the mobile and, in the example described, is approximately 24 seconds.

In one embodiment, the coupling unit 31 used with the kinetic-helix mobile 10 is 5 inch (12.7 cm) 1.5 mm polyurethane elastic cord. Together, the mobile assembly formed of the combined coupling unit 31 and the kinetic-helix mobile 10 is 32 seconds for downward propagation and 31 seconds for upward propagation for a total impulse response of 63 seconds.

FIG. 12 is a schematic representation of a motorized oscillating mobile apparatus 33 including a series connection of a plurality of cascaded mobile assemblies 30-1, . . . , 30-p including the coupling units 31-1, . . . , 31-p, respectively, and the mobiles 10-1, . . . 10-p, respectively. Additionally, in FIG. 12, any one or more of the mobile assemblies 30-1, . . . , 30-p may include other nested mobile assemblies (not shown). In FIG. 12 all of the mobile assemblies 30-1, . . . , 30-p are series connected with the drive unit 2.

FIG. 13 is a schematic representation of a motorized oscillating mobile apparatus 33 including a series connection of a plurality of nested mobile assemblies 30-1, . . . , 30-n1, . . . , 30-m1 and together with cascaded mobile assemblies 30-1, . . . , 30-p. In FIG. 13 all of the mobile assemblies 30-1, . . . , 30-n1, . . . , 30-m1 are series connected with the drive unit 2. However, the mobile assembly 30-p is parallel connected with mobile 30-n1 and mobile assemblies such as mobile assembly 30-m1 series connected with mobile 30-n1.

A number of different mobile assemblies have been described in both series and parallel connected combinations in the present specification. Of course, many different other series and parallel combinations are possible and can be employed.

In FIG. 14, the single-cycle impulse response of the mobile assemblies 30-1 and 30-2 of FIG. 9 is shown. In particular, when the outer (O) mobile assembly 30-1, including coupling element 31-1 and mobile 10-1, without the mobile assembly 30-2 attached, is hung from the drive unit 2 and receives a 1 second impulse at 8 revolutions per second, the coupling element 31-1 is completely wound (8 turns) to a fully-wound, momentarily-stopped position. In a response period of 30 seconds, the mobile assembly 30-1 unwinds to its initial position and thereafter fully winds in the opposite direction to a momentarily-stopped position at 60 seconds. The impulse response, I1, of mobile assembly 30-1 is represented by the broken line in FIG. 14. Similarly, the impulse response, I2, of mobile assembly 30-2 is represented by the solid line in FIG. 14. When the mobile assembly 30-2, including coupling element 31-2 and mobile 10-2, without being attached to the mobile assembly 30-1, is hung from the drive unit 2 and receives a 1 second impulse at 8 revolutions per second, the coupling element 31-2 completely winds from a rest position to a fully wound, momentarily stopped position. In a response period of 25 seconds, the mobile assembly 30-2 unwinds to its initial position and thereafter fully winds in the opposite direction to a momentarily-stopped position at 50 seconds.

For example, a first one of the mobile assemblies rotates in a first direction during certain times and a second one of the mobile assemblies counter rotates in a second (opposite) direction during the same certain times. After a pleasant period, usually less than five minutes and typically less than one minute, counter oscillations occur with each of the mobile assemblies reversing direction. The times of reversal of direction are typically not synchronized so that the periods of counter revolution are of variable duration.

If the “one-cycle impulse response” of series connected mobile assemblies are substantially the same, then the combined response of the series connected mobile assemblies frequently does not produce pleasant counter oscillations, but rather, the series connected mobile assemblies for long durations appear to be synchronized and rotating in the same direction.

In FIG. 15, the combined responses of the mobile assemblies 30-1 and 30-2 of FIG. 9 are shown when driven by drive unit 2 having a 47 second period between 1 second impulses of 8 revolutions per second. With such drive unit 2 operations, note that the outside mobile 10-1 reverses direction at about 25, 60 and 100 seconds. Similarly, the inside mobile reverses direction at 40, 90 and 120 seconds. Accordingly, the mobiles 10-1 and 10-2 are rotating in the same direction from 0 to 25 seconds, from 40 to 60 seconds and from 90 to 100 seconds while rotating in opposite directions from 25 to 40 seconds, from 60 to 90 seconds and so on.

The appropriate dynamic properties of the coupling units 31 in the various embodiments of the invention are most easily determined by experimentation although mathematical and engineering specification using well understood principles of physics may also be employed. The length of the cord, the diameter of the cord, the number of stands (one or more and in the loop embodiment, two), the elasticity of the polyurethane, the tensile strength of the cord and other factors vary the dynamic properties of the coupling units 31. Each of these variables may be modified to achieve the desired dynamic operation. Of course, elastomers other than polyurethane may be employed. In general, for multiple coupling units connected in series, the coupling units closest to the motor are stronger and more firm requiring a greater force to turn and have a shorter impulse response period than coupling units farthest from the motor.

In FIG. 15, a timing diagram for the drive unit 2 of FIG. 1 is shown for operation with the mobile apparatus 33 of FIG. 9. For the FIG. 15 timing diagram, drive unit 2 is an impulse motor with TON small compared with TOFF, for example, 1 second and 47 second, respectively. With such timing, the drive unit 2 has a small duty-cycle of 1/47 or about 2.1%. Accordingly, with such a small duty-cycle, the battery life of drive unit 2 is very high which, in general, is substantially longer than 12 months.

FIG. 16 depicts an alternate impulse pattern for the motor of FIG. 1. A sequence of five 1 second impulses is used over a 60 second period to deliver more power from a motor to a coupling element.

FIG. 17 depicts another alternate impulse pattern for the motor of FIG. 1 where different impulse widths are employed, where both positive and negative pulses at near random intervals.

While the invention has been particularly shown and described with reference to preferred embodiments thereof it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes in form and details may be made therein without departing from the scope of the invention.