Title:
Novelty LED-projection message balloon
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Described herein is a novelty led-projection message balloon for allowing a delightful and novel method of communicating endearing messages and/or animation. The inventive device includes a circuit board, lens assembly, housing, and power source. The circuit board consists of LEDs, a microcontroller, interfacing circuitry, spring brushes, a position detector, and a motor. The power supply provides power to the housed circuit board mounted inside a balloon. The circuit board spins with light emitting elements that are projected via a lens assembly onto the balloon inner wall. The elements are rapidly turned on-off in a sequenced manner to give the illusion of a message or animation (through the persistence of vision) being projected onto the exterior of the balloon.



Inventors:
Hofer, Russell D. (Saint Louis, MO, US)
Feldkamp, Jonathan Robert (Gardner, KS, US)
Hannah, Gary R. (Shawnee, MO, US)
Hofer, Richard Allen (Gardner, KS, US)
Application Number:
12/074739
Publication Date:
10/02/2008
Filing Date:
03/06/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
340/815.45, 345/82, 362/35, 446/485
International Classes:
A63H27/10; A63H33/26; F21K99/00; G09F21/10; G09G3/32
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NICONOVICH, ALEXANDER R
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Russell Hofer (Saint Louis, MO, US)
Claims:
What is claimed as being new and desired to be protected by Letters Patent of the United States is as follows:

1. A novelty projection device for allowing a delightful and novel method of communicating endearing messages and/or animation comprising: plurality of light sources, to be of single color for monochrome displays, multiple colors for multicolor displays; lens fixture to project light sources onto the inner surface of a balloon or onto the wall of a building; controller to independently turn on/off the light sources in a time-sequenced manner dependant upon rotational position; method for programming the controller to a customized display; motor to spin light sources upon a rotational axis; sensor to determine rotational position, and relay this information to the controller; remote energy source with intelligence (may be derived from controller) to supply power to the device for short durations.

2. A projection device, as set forth in claim 1, whence the light sources, lens fixture, controller, and motor are mounted onto a printed circuit board.

3. A projection device according to claim 2, where in addition, an audio speaker is connected to the controller to provide sound accompaniment.

4. A projection device according to claim 2, where in addition, a microphone is connected to the controller to provide a means to turn the device on for short durations due to audio stimuli such as, but not limited to a clapping noise and human speech.

5. A projection device according to claim 2, where the plurality of light sources consists of a linear row of LEDs.

6. A projection device according to claim 2, where the plurality of light sources consists of a linear row of laser diodes.

7. A projection device according to claim 2, where the plurality of light sources consists of a single integrated circuit package containing a plurality of independently controlled light emitting elements.

8. A projection device according to claim 5, where the lens fixture consists of fiber optics connected to each LEDs' light emitting element carrying the light to a rigid row of diffusive balls or discs.

9. A projection device according to claim 5, where the lens fixture consists of a row of spherical lenses mechanically offset from the row of LEDs such that the lenses approximately focus an image of the LEDs' emitting elements onto a given surface.

10. A projection device, as set forth in claim 6, where the remote energy source consists of AC wall power such that the projection device is mounted in the proximity of a wall, the device projects a message onto the wall of a building.

11. A projection device, as set forth in claim 9, where the remote energy source consisting of a set of batteries housed in a handle with an external switch, a pair of high gauge wires connecting the remote energy source to the printed circuit board.

12. A projection device according to claim 11, where the device is mounted within a helium filled balloon such that the balloon provides a diffusive surface optimal for rear projection display.

13. A projection device according to claim 12, where the device mounted within the balloon is light enough to float.

14. A projection device according to claim 11, where the device is mounted within an air filled balloon with the entire structure supported into mid-air via a long rigid stick (giving the illusion of flotation).

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This document describes the novelty led-projection message balloon, based entirely upon information contained within provisional application 60/908,189 (ATTY. DOCKET NO HOFE-001). The inventors claiming the current non-provisional application have remained the same as that in the aforementioned provisional application.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable.

REFERENCE TO SEQUENCE LISTING, A TABLE, OR A COMPUTER PROGRAM LISTING COMPACT DISC APPENDIX

Not Applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to specialty balloons and more specifically it relates to a novelty led-projection message balloon for allowing a delightful and novel method of communicating endearing messages and/or animation.

2. Description of the Related Art

It can be appreciated that specialty balloons and LED signage have been in use for years. Typically, these are comprised of singing balloons, light balloons, and other LED message type devices.

The main problem with conventional specialty balloons is that they lack the novelty of the proposed balloon. For example, singing/music balloons (U.S. Pat. No. 6,482,065) can provide entertainment and be used to add flair to several occasions. They can sing in birthday parties, cheer someone to get-well soon, etc. However, they lack customization of the present invention and only provide aural sensation. The proposed solution complements this type of balloon by providing a unique visual communication that is customizable to the particular occasion. Another example includes light balloons (U.S. Pat. No. 5,499,941). Light balloons are a festive type of balloon that light up either continuously or flashing. Typically this is done with either a simple light bulb or an LED, a battery, and a timing circuit. However, this type of balloon lacks the novelty of the proposed balloon. The proposed balloon not only is lit, but it displays a unique customizable message and/or animation for any particular occasion.

In addition to specialty balloons, there have been an assortment of inventions that use LEDs to display a message. Some operate by sequencing a row of LEDs on-off to give the illusion of a message via the persistence of vision. Ad balls (U.S. Pat. No. 6,943,762), LED pendulum clocks (included in U.S. Pat. No. 6,433,761), and LED wands (U.S. Pat. No. 6,265,984) are a few of the existing devices that operate by sequencing on-off a row of moving LEDs to give the illusion of a message. However, none of these devices project an image onto a surface. Projection allows for a larger message to be displayed. A slightly different type of device, an LED alarm projection clock (U.S. Pat. No. 6,798,720), does indeed project a limited 7 segment LED time display onto a wall; however, it does not sequence a row of LEDs on-off. It is also a much larger device that utilizes direct projection instead of rear projection. Nor do any of the aforementioned LED devices attempt to reside within a floating balloon; they are far too heavy to reside in a floating balloon. Since the present invention resides in a balloon, this adds to its flair and novelty. In addition, the mentioned LED devices typically have limited customizability. The present invention is a unique application of LED technology that is novel and innovative.

In these respects, the novelty led-projection message balloon according to the present invention substantially departs from the conventional concepts and designs of the prior art, and in so doing provides an apparatus primarily developed for the purpose of allowing a delightful and novel method of communicating endearing messages and/or animation.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In view of the foregoing disadvantages inherent in the known types of specialty balloons and LED signage now present in the prior art, the present invention provides a new novelty led projected message balloon construction wherein the same can be utilized for allowing a delightful and novel method of communicating endearing messages and/or animation.

The general purpose of the present invention, which will be described subsequently in greater detail, is to provide a new novelty led-projection message balloon that has many of the advantages of the specialty balloons mentioned heretofore and many novel features that result in a new led-projection message balloon which is not anticipated, rendered obvious, suggested, or even implied by any of the prior art specialty balloons and LED signage, either alone or in any combination thereof.

To attain this, the present invention includes a spinning circuit board 20 with light emitting elements 21 that are projected via a lens assembly onto the balloon. The elements are rapidly turned on-off in a sequenced manner to give the illusion of a message or animation (through the persistence of vision) being projected onto the exterior of the balloon.

The present invention generally comprises a housing containing both a circuit board 20 and lens assembly 30. The circuit board consists of LEDs 21, a microcontroller 22, interfacing circuitry 23, and a position detector 25. The lens assembly 30 consists of eight lenses 31 and a mounting structure 32. The briefly described housing 40 and its contents are contained inside a balloon. An external power source 60, contained in a plastic case the shape of a handle 64, is connected to the housing with high gauge wires 67,68.

There has thus been outlined, rather broadly, the more important features of the invention in order that the detailed description thereof may be better understood, and in order that the present contribution to the art may be better appreciated. There are additional features of the invention that will be described hereinafter.

In this respect, before explaining at least one embodiment of the invention in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction and to the arrangements of the components set forth in the following description or illustrated in the drawings. The present invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced and carried out in various ways. The inventors have contemplated that the claimed subject matter might also be embodied in other ways, in conjunction with other present or future technologies. The description of this particular embodiment is not intended to limit the scope of this patent. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology employed herein are for the purpose of the description and should not be regarded as limiting.

A primary object of the present invention is to provide a novelty led-projection message balloon that will overcome the shortcomings of the prior art devices.

An object of the present invention is to provide a novelty led-projection message balloon for allowing a delightful and novel method of communicating endearing messages and/or animation.

Still another object is to provide a novelty led-projection message balloon that is able to float and display a message.

Still yet another object is to provide a novelty led-projection message balloon that is able to be customized to display a unique message and/or animation.

Yet another object is to provide a novelty led-projection message balloon that enlivens a festive event by creating a particular mood.

Other objects and advantages of the present invention will become obvious to the reader and it is intended that these objects and advantages are within the scope of the present invention.

To the accomplishment of the above and related objects, this invention may be embodied in the form illustrated in the accompanying drawings, attention being called to the fact, however, that the drawings are illustrative only, and that changes may be made in the specific construction illustrated.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING

Various other objects, features and attendant advantages of the present invention will become fully appreciated as the same becomes better understood when considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which like reference characters designate the same or similar parts throughout the several views, and wherein:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the circuit board.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the lens assembly.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of an exploded housing.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of an exploded cylindrical shaft.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view and schematic diagram of the power source.

FIG. 7 is an exploded/assembly view of the present invention showing all of the components.

FIG. 8 shows an alternate component of the given embodiment; the alternate component is a single integrated circuit package containing eight independently controlled light emitting elements.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

With reference now to the drawings, and in particular to FIGS. 1-8 thereof, a new novelty led-projection message balloon embodying the principles and concepts of the present invention and generally designated by the reference numeral 10 will be described.

Turning now descriptively to the drawings, in which similar reference characters denote similar elements throughout the several views, the attached figures illustrate a novelty led-projection message balloon 10, which comprises a circuit board 20, lens assembly 30, housing 40, power source 60, and a balloon 11. The circuit board consists of LEDs 21, a microcontroller 22, interfacing circuitry 23, spring brushes 24, a photointerrupter 25, and a motor 26. The lens assembly 30 consists of eight lenses and a mounting structure. The housing consists of two end caps, a cylindrical shaft, a clear tube, and two mounting poles. The power source is to consist of four AA batteries, a battery holder, a button switch, a plastic handle case, a panel mount connector, a cable connector, and two twisted 30 AWG stranded wires. The balloon is typically filled with helium or air.

The circuit board 20 consists of LEDs 21, a microcontroller 22, interfacing circuitry 23, spring brushes 24, a photointerrupter 25, and a motor 26. The circuit board is very small, designed to be of light construction. A microcontroller 22, eight LEDs 21, a photointerrupter 25, a motor 26, and other miscellaneous circuitry 23 reside on the circuit board. A microcontroller 22 resides on the circuit board for the purpose of interfacing with eight LEDs 21, a motor 26, and a photointerrupter 25. Miscellaneous circuitry 23 includes but is not limited to resistors, capacitors, a voltage regulator, and power transistors. Only two inputs for power exist on the circuit board. These exist in the form of two sets (doubled for reliability) of spring brushes 24 mounted on the end of the circuit board. A programming device is used to interface between the circuit board and a personal computer. Programming of the microcontroller occurs through the power inputs. This is accomplished through the novel usage of a comparator that may be part of the microcontroller 22. An encoded stream of two positive DC levels are used to program the microcontroller 22. The stream is connected to one of the inputs on the microcontroller. The microcontroller compares this voltage to a reference voltage to determine if a 1 or 0 is being sent. Since the encoded stream consists of two positive DC levels, the voltage regulator is able to maintain power to the processor.

The number of LEDs 21 is arbitrary; they could be of a greater or smaller quantity. The colors of the LEDs may include a multiplicity of colors to include, but not limited to all colors of the visible spectrum. If red/green/blue capable LEDs are used, full color projection is possible. An alternative solution for full color projection includes placement of three separate green, red, and blue LEDs next to each other. Furthermore, placement of a number of LEDs on the top and bottom of the circuit board may allow for greater light output. Such a design would entail two lens assemblies. Yet another alternate full color solution would entail the interlocking of three circuit boards. Each board would contain a separate color LED and its own lens assembly. Each one of the interlocked circuit boards would fit together to form a triangular prism. Pads on the edge of each board would be soldered to perform necessary connections between the three circuit boards. Yet another alternative includes the usage of ultraviolet LEDs. The balloon surface may be of a fluorescent material to excite a visible image on its surface. In addition to LEDs, other light emitting devices, such as laser diodes may be used. Still yet another alternative is to use a single packaged integrated circuit 70 in lieu of eight separate LED packages. The single package would contain eight light emitting elements 72 collinearly aligned on the die; nine pins 71 (grounds are common) on the package would independently control each one of the elements. The light emitting elements may also be oriented in a diagonal pattern to improve heat dissipation and facilitate routing. This alternative has the advantage of only requiring one lens and consequently a significant decrease in size, weight, complexity, and cost. A variation of this alternative would include a total of 24 light emitting elements, eight of each primary color; this would allow full color projection. Another method to allow full color projection would encompass using three LED integrated circuits 70, each of a different primary color. By using offset lenses, the three single integrated circuits 70 would be allowed to project on top of each other.

Also, the choice of a photointerrupter is arbitrary. Other position detecting devices 25 may be used, to include but not limited to photo reflectors, magnetic sensors, photo diodes, etc. The present invention is described using a microprocessor 22 to perform embedded control, and thus relies on software to respond to inputs and generate outputs. As those well practiced in the art will appreciate, the present invention may also be implemented using programmable logic, a hardware logic processor, state machine, or micro-sequencer. Generally, the functions currently implemented in software may be implemented in hardware or any combination of hardware and software. In addition, the method for programming the device is not limited to the above description that uses two power input pins. Other methods may not use an electrical form of communication at all. For example, the LED lights themselves may be used as an output signal for an external programming device. The photointerrupter may be used as an input for an external programming device with an infrared light output. With this scheme, the device may be programmed externally with no physical connection.

The lens assembly 30 consists of eight lenses 31 and a mounting structure 32. The lens assembly is a plastic molded part consisting of eight lenses. The lens assembly is clear with the exception of cone-like structures that protrude on the side opposite of the eight lenses. The lens assembly includes mounting structures on one of the longitudinal ends as well as having mounting legs. On one end of the structure an axle protrudes. On the other end, a more complex motor mounting structure exists 32. The lens assembly 30 may be designed to not include the lenses 31 as part of the structure. The lenses 31 may be separately snapped into the lens assembly 30. The construction method of the lens assembly 30 need not be limited to a plastic molding, but other manufacturing methods may be used. An alternative to lenses involves a fiber optic connected to each LED's light emitting element. The fiber optic would carry the light to a diffusive ball or disc. The eight diffusive balls would be connected in a rigid vertical row. In this alternative, the LEDs could be spaced close together, and the size of the circuit board would be reduced. Consequently, it would not be necessary to have a clear tube 44 or end cap 42. This would allow the circuit board to freely swing the diffusive balls to create an image, in a similar manner to that which will be later discussed for the embodiment.

The housing consists 40 of two end caps 41, 42, a cylindrical shaft 43, a clear tube 44 and two mounting poles 45, 46. The two end caps will be referred to as end cap 1 41 and end cap 2 42. The two mounting poles will be referred to as mounting pole 1 46 and mounting pole 2 45. End cap 1 41 is described as follows. End cap 1 41 may be made of clear or opaque material. There is a cylindrical hole in the middle of end cap 1 41. End cap 1 41 also has a 180 degree cylindrical wedge. A cylindrical protrusion exists on the outer side of end cap 1 41. End cap 2 42 is described as follows. End cap 2 42 may be made of clear or opaque material. There is a blind hole in the center of end cap 2 42 serving as a bushing. A cylindrical protrusion exists on the outer side of end cap 2 42. The cylindrical shaft 43 consists of an electrically conductive cylindrical pin 49, an insulating tube 48, an electrical conductive cylinder 47, and a silicon decoupling sleeve 50. The insulating tube 48 is placed around the bottom of the conductive pin 49. The electrically conductive cylinder 47 is then placed over the insulating tube 48. A silicon decoupling sleeve 50 is placed upon the other end of the conductive pin 49. The clear tube 44 is an extruded vinyl or other optically clear tubing of sufficient thickness to provide rigid structure. Mounting pole 1 46 consists of a hollow tube with a balloon filling piece at the bottom. Mounting pole 2 45 consists of a hollow tube with a round cone section attached at the top. The cylindrical shaft 43 is inserted into the hole of end cap 1 41. The cylindrical shaft will protrude outside of the outer side of end cap 1 41. End cap 1 41 may be inserted into the clear tube. End cap 2 42 may be inserted into the other end of the clear tube. Mounting pole 1 46 may be inserted into the cylindrical protrusion existing on end cap 1 41. Mounting pole 2 45 may be inserted into the cylindrical protrusion existing on end cap 2 42. End cap 1 41 may be intentionally made of a clear material to allow infrared light to pass through. Mounting pole 2 45 may be replaced with a string. In this case, it would be tied to end cap 2 42.

The power source 60 is to consist of four AA batteries 61, a battery holder 62, button switch 63, a plastic handle case 64, a panel mount connector 65, a cable connector 66, and two twisted 30 AWG stranded wires 67, 68. The two twisted 30 AWG stranded wires will be referred to as wire 1 67 and wire 2 68. Four AA batteries 61 are an off-the-shelf purchased item. The battery holder 62 is an off-the-shelf purchased item. It is designed to connect four AA batteries in series. The button switch 63 is a momentary single pole single throw mechanical spring loaded switch. The plastic case 64 is custom molded to resemble a handle. It allows for mounting the battery holder 62, the button switch 63, and the panel mount connector 65. The two 30 AWG stranded wires 67, 68 are an off-the-shelf item. They have been chosen to be durable and as light as possible. The length of the 30 AWG stranded wires 67, 68 is 4 feet. The panel mount connector 65 has two terminals where wires may be soldered onto. The cable connector 66 is a two-terminal connector with some form of strain relief. It mates to the panel mount connector 65. The mating is keyed. The batteries 61 are inserted into the battery holder 62. The battery holder 62 is mounted inside the plastic handle case 64. The button switch 63 is housed into the plastic handle case 64. The panel mount connector 66 is mounted into the top of the plastic case 64. The button switch 63 is placed such that one may hold the plastic handle 64 and conveniently press the button switch 63. The button switch's throw is connected to the positive lead of the battery holder 62. The first terminal of the panel mount connector 65 is soldered to the pole of the button switch 63. The second terminal of the panel mount connector 65 is soldered to the negative lead of the battery holder 62. One end of wire 1 67 is soldered to the first terminal of the cable connector 66. One end of wire 2 68 is soldered to the second terminal of the cable connector 66. The cable connector 66 is plugged into the panel mount connector 65. Four AA batteries 61 may be replaced with a different type of battery or number of batteries of suitable voltage and current-carrying capabilities. The battery holder 62 may be modified to suit such an alternate application. The momentary switch 63 may be replaced with a toggle switch. The switch need not be a button, but may be an alternate to include a toggle, rocker, slide, etc. It may be practical to use a momentary switch in addition to a simple circuit to allow for toggle action. A timer may be incorporated to allow for a minimum and/or maximum on-time. The microcontroller 22 of the circuit board 20 could also be used to allow a predefined on-time when power is applied. The microcontroller 22 would be reset by using a momentary switch to temporarily remove power (instead of temporarily applying power) from the circuit board 20. The plastic case 64 may be molded to accommodate any number of designs. This has the benefit of providing a themed appearance to the device. The length of the two 30 AWG stranded wires 67, 68 is arbitrary, and may be modified to suit the desired application. The 30 AWG wires 67, 68 may be replaced with a coaxial cable, a two-conductor flat cable, or other dual conductor cable.

The balloon 11 to be used with the present invention may be filled with helium. The balloon to be used is a latex balloon with a radius of 17 inches when inflated with helium. The balloon 11 need not be latex, but may also be of semi-transparent Mylar or other suitable material. The inflated radius of the balloon 11 may be of varying sizes depending upon the application. The medium that the balloon 11 is filled with may include air. In this case, the invention would need to be held afloat with a stick. It is also possible that other medium may be suitable for a particular application. Also, the balloon 11 may be of the type with a rubber hook or disc imbedded into the balloon's material. This would facilitate mounting of the device within the balloon.

The lens assembly 30 is inserted into the circuit board 20. The lens assembly 30 holds the circuit board's motor in a specific location. The lens assembly 30 is held in place by applying a drop of epoxy (or other suitable glue) on the feet that protrude through the bottom of the circuit board 20. The circuit board 20 is inserted into a housing 40 (assuming the housing has been assembled as previously described) as follows. Both mounting pole 1 46 and mounting pole 2 45 are removed. End cap 1 41 of the housing is removed. The open end of the silicon decoupling sleeve 50 of end cap 1 41 is placed around the shaft of the circuit board's motor 26; at the same time, the brushes 24 on the circuit board 20 should be twisted to apply tension to end cap 1's cylindrical shaft. One set of brushes will come in contact with the cylindrical shaft's center conductor 49; the other set of brushes will come in contact with the outer conductor 47. To allow insertion, the 180 degree cylindrical wedge of end cap 1 41 should be positioned opposite of the circuit board's photointerrupter 25. End cap 2 42 is removed from the housing's clear tube 44. The circuit board 20 is inserted into the clear tube 44. End cap 1 41 can now be fit into the clear tube. End cap 2 42 is placed into the clear tube such that the lens assembly's axle rests inside end cap 2's bushing. End cap 2 42 now has a friction fit into the clear tube. The two 30 AWG wires 67, 68 from the power source are fed through mounting pole 1 46. Wire 1 67 is soldered to the outer conductor of the housing's cylindrical shaft (the cylindrical shaft protrudes outside of end cap 1 41). Wire 2 68 is soldered to the center conductive pin of the housing's cylindrical shaft. Mounting pole 1 46 is inserted into the cylindrical protrusion existing on end cap 1 41. Mounting pole 2 45 is placed into the cylindrical protrusion on End cap 2 42. The assembly can now be inserted into a deflated balloon 11. The assembly is stretched into the balloon until the housing is contained completely within the balloon. The balloon 11 can now be filled with helium. When helium stops being blown into the balloon, mounting pole 1 46 acts a check valve preventing deflation of the balloon. The circuit board and the housing's clear tube should reside close to the center of the balloon. If mounting pole 2 were replaced with a string, it would be tied to a rubber loop as part of the balloon and a ring being part of end cap 2 42.

If the circuit board 20 were to use laser diodes instead of LEDs 21 for the light emitting devices, this would enable the balloon to take on a wider range of sizes and still maintain focus and high brightness. It is conceivable that a slightly larger housing (to allow heat dissipation) could be used to project high power laser diode's onto a balloon of much greater size, i.e. a size of several feet or possibly up to hundreds of feet in diameter.

This device could be modified slightly by removing the power source and using an AC power source instead. Of course, the circuit board 20 would need some modifications to accept this type of power. Laser diodes may need to be used instead of LEDs 21 in this application to be effective. The device could be mounted on the ceiling next to a wall, angled towards the wall itself. The device could then project words and images onto the wall. The wall need not be of opaque material. A glass wall could be used in conjunction with a diffusive sticker. The sign could then be read from the exterior of a building. This type of sign could be a tactful way to advertise. Another variation of this device includes a microphone or suitable sensor to pick up tapping on the balloon. During inactive periods of time the microcontroller 22 would be in a low power consumption state. When the balloon is tapped, the microcontroller would be awakened to display a message. After the message is displayed, the microcontroller 22 would go into a sleep mode. An additional variation of this device includes a small speaker mounted onto the circuit board. This would allow the device to play a musical melody or speak a message in conjunction with displaying the message.

When the power source's button switch 63 is activated, power runs through its wires up into the balloon. The microprocessor 22 is set into an awake state. The circuit board's microcontroller 22 operates the motor 26. The motor 26 will spin the circuit board 20 and lens assembly 30 within the housing 40. The housing 40 and balloon 11 remain fixed relative to the circuit board 20 and lens assembly 30. The microcontroller 22 can adjust the speed of the motor 26 by applying PWM (pulse width modulation) to its output. The desired speed of the motor 26 is approximately 15 revolutions per second or greater. The desired speed is adjusted by observing the current speed as follows. As the circuit board 20 spins, the microprocessor 22 can detect a revolution from the circuit board's photointerrupter 25. During half of the revolution, the photointerrupter 25 is blocked by end cap 1's 180 degree cylindrical wedge. For the other half of the revolution, the photointerrupter 25 is not blocked. This allows the circuit board 20 to determine both the starting position and average spinning speed. From this information, the microcontroller 22 can adjust the speed of the motor to some desired value. Also, assuming a reasonably constant spinning rate, the microcontroller 22 can now accurately predict the position of the board relative to the housing 40, and thus the balloon 11.

The LEDs 21 are spaced in the focusing plane of the lens assembly's lenses. The magnification of the LEDs' light emitting elements is the ratio of the distance from the lenses to the balloon relative to the distance of the lenses to the light emitting elements. If the correct focal length lenses are chosen, the lens will project the LED's light emitting element onto the surface of the balloon. In addition, if everything is configured correctly, the eight LEDs on the circuit board will project onto the balloon as eight consecutive squares in a vertical line. The microcontroller sequences the LEDs on-off as the device spins each revolution. The circuit board 20 and lens assembly 30 are spinning greater than the eyes perception (˜15 frames per second). This allows the microcontroller 22 to sequence the LEDs 21 on and off to form the perception of a message or image being projected onto the balloon. In addition, different messages may be programmed into the microcontroller 22 as described earlier. In order to connect the microcontroller 22 to a programmer, one would unplug the handle from the 60 power source's cable connector. The power source's cable connector 66 could then be plugged into a programmer.

As to a further discussion of the manner of usage and operation of the present invention, the same should be apparent from the above description. Accordingly, no further discussion relating to the manner of usage and operation will be provided.

With respect to the above description then, it is to be realized that the optimum dimensional relationships for the parts of the invention, to include variations in size, materials, shape, form, function and manner of operation, assembly and use, are deemed readily apparent and obvious to one skilled in the art, and all equivalent relationships to those illustrated in the drawings and described in the specification are intended to be encompassed by the present invention.

Therefore, the foregoing is considered as illustrative only of the principles of the invention. Further, since numerous modifications and changes will readily occur to those skilled in the art, it is not desired to limit the invention to the exact construction and operation shown and described, and accordingly, all suitable modifications and equivalents may be resorted to, falling within the scope of the invention.