Title:
Airborne device such as model rocket with light and sound for observing and retrieving
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An airborne device such as a model rocket or balloon is provided with a light source and/or a sound source that makes the rocket visible during ascent, descent and recovery at night. The sound source is provided to assist in day time recovery. The light source may be located in a transparent or translucent nose cone section of a rocket or otherwise attached adjacent or in a balloon to assist in operation and viewing. The light source may include a timing or flashing feature to make the airborne device or rocket more visibly distinct during flight and recovery. Additional signaling and informational light sources may be added to other parts of the rocket and to the ground mounted launch apparatus to announce launching and/or improve the night time viewing. One form of the rocket system uses a count down feature with lights on the launch structure to signal when blast off will occur.



Inventors:
Adorjan, John (Highland Park, IL, US)
Adorjan, Matthew (Waukegan, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/805892
Publication Date:
11/27/2008
Filing Date:
05/25/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
102/356, 244/31, 362/253, 446/231
International Classes:
F42B4/08; A63H27/00; A63H27/10; F42B4/06
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
STANCZAK, MATTHEW BRIAN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
JAMES J. CONLON (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
What we claim as our invention is:

1. A recreation device capable of flight including airborne ascent and descent, and the improvement comprising: light emitting means with mounting and attaching means removably attaching said light emitting means to said recreation device to allow the recreation device carry the light emitting means aloft to be easily observed both during flight and after descent to aid in recovery.

2. The recreation device of claim 1, and the improvement further comprising: sound emitting means with mounting and attaching means removably attaching said sound emitting means to said recreation device to allow the recreation device carry the sound emitting means aloft to be easily heard for locating the recreation device after descent.

3. The recreation device of claim 1, and said light emitting means further comprising: detachable LED light means having a power source carried with said LED during flight.

4. The recreation device of claim 1, and said light emitting means including: an electrical power storage device; an electrical power source with electrical conducting means connecting with said power storage device to charge said device and said electrical conducting means including means for disconnecting said power source from said power storage device to allow only the power storage device to ascend with said recreation device.

5. The recreation device of claim 1 and further including: a model rocket with a tubular body and a detachable nose cone; said nose cone having means to allow light to be emitted therefrom; said light emitting means having means mounted in said nose cone to provide illumination to allow the rocket to be observed during and after flight.

6. The recreation device of claim 1 and further including: a balloon capable of being inflated; said balloon having means mounting said light emitting means inside the balloon for movement with the balloon during ascent and descent or when stationary; said balloon having light transmitting areas to allow light to escape from inside the balloon as provided by said light emitting means to allow the balloon to be viewed and visible due to said light means.

7. The recreation device of claim 1 and further including: an inflated balloon having an interior and an exterior area; means mounting said light means outside the balloon for illuminating the exterior area adjacent to the balloon during flight.

8. The recreation device of claim 7 and further including: said balloon having a reflective surface; tether means extending from and connected to said balloon; attaching means securely mounting said light means on said tether.

9. The recreation device of claim 8 and said means mounting said light means on the tether further including: adjustment means for orienting said light means to shine on said reflective surface.

10. The recreation device of claim 1 and said light emitting means including: an electric circuit with switch means for adjusting the timing and operation thereof.

11. A tracking, observing and recovery assisting device for a model rocket having a tubular body and a detachable nose cone attached to said body during launch and detachable therefrom; a parachute with connecting means attached to said rocket to control decent of said rocket, the improvement comprising: signaling means with electrical power means and means emitting discernable indicia during flight for viewing of said rocket and to assist in recovery of said rocket and to enhance the recreational and entertainment aspects of the model rocket during operation.

12. The tracking, observing and recovery assisting device for a model rocket of claim 11 and said electrical power means including: an electrical power source including a charged capacitor with means mounted with said signaling means to provide power to said signaling means.

13. The tracking, observing and recovery assisting device for a model rocket of claim 11, the improvement comprising: said signaling means including sound means with means emitting an audible signal that can be heard after powered flight of said rocket and provide audible, observable signals to assist in recovery of said rocket.

14. The tracking, observing and recovery assisting device for a model rocket of claim 11, the improvement comprising: said signaling means including light means with means emitting a visible signal that can be viewed during and after powered flight of said rocket and provide visible, observable signals to assist in recovery of said rocket.

15. The tracking, observing and recovery assisting device for a model rocket of claim 11, electrical power means including: electric switch means to delay activation of the light emitting means until the rocket has ascended.

16. The tracking, observing and recovery assisting device for a model rocket of claim 11, the improvement comprising: an electric circuit with switch and control means for adjusting timing and operation of said signaling means

17. A kit for providing light to a model rocket to be viewed during launch and recovery of said rocket and including: an light mounted in a housing; said housing having means to attach said housing to said model rocket; a power source to provide electricity to said light; an electric circuit connecting said power source and light and including light control means for adjusting said light; said means to attach said housing having means to adjustably secure said light on said rocket.

18. The kit of claim 17 and further including sound emitting means with means capable of being connected to said power source and also having means for connecting to said model rocket to travel with said rocket during launch and recovery.

19. A system for launching a model rocket and providing a launch sequence including: lights positioned near the launch site to indicate the pre launch sequence of lights and sound; a countdown device coupled with said lights to sequence the operation of said lights to indicate the beginning of a countdown before blast off; said countdown device having time zero sensing means to operate a trigger start to initiate said rocket launch and operate said rocket motor; said system having means to indicate blast off of said rocket and means to activate on board signaling devices in said rocket.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

(1) Field of the Invention

This disclosure pertains to airborne toy devices such as model rockets, balloons and the like, with a light source to allow the rocket to be viewed during night launches and easily retrieved thereafter. The rocket or balloon may also has an audible signal to assist during recoveries.

(2) Description of the Prior Art

Various arrangements have been used in the past to control the operation, rate of descent, propulsion and retrieval of model rockets. Earlier patents have dealt with parachutes to control the rate of descent, fins and wings to prevent extensive damage to the rocket by preventing high speed descent and other patents directed to the rocket motor or propulsion system. All prior model rockets shared a common theme, i.e. they were all restricted to daylight use, and, recovery was totally visual. If the device was out of sight recovery was difficult and many rockets have been lost due to loss of visual contact. If a rocket were to be launched at night or at dusk, not only could it not be observed during its flight, other than during partial ascent when rocket engine burn could be briefly observed, but also there was a substantial risk that it would be lost. None of the prior art devices is directed to overcoming this problem of providing visual and/or audible signaling to model rockets and other small toy like devices such as balloons.

Retrieval systems and devices used for model rockets fall essentially into a single category, that is parachutes. One typical device that uses a parachute for retrieval is the Hans, et al., U.S. Pat. No. 5,054,397 (1991) that shows a parachute used to retrieve a rocket. Some other features relate to cooling ejection gasses and not to retrieval. There is no mention or suggestion of night flights and viewing or retrieving after use at night.

The Sculatti, U.S. Pat. No. 4,687,455 (1987) shows such a device utilizing a parachute, streamers or a paraglider to assist in recovery. The Estes, U.S. Pat. No. 3,114,317 (1963) shows a model rocket that has a design to assist in recovery by shifting the center of gravity to allow the rocket to fall in a safe predetermined fashion to prevent damage to the rocket or injuries to bystanders. By shifting the center of gravity, the rocket becomes unbalanced and will fall slowly in a sideways or similar erratic manner. Again, there is nothing to suggest the light and sound configuration of the present invention.

The Wheelwright, U.S. Pat. No. 3,120,183 (1964) shows a pyrotechnic device used in marine rescue operations. The device is activated with water contact and emits smoke and light. Again, not hint or suggestion is made to adapt any part of this product to a model rocket.

Similarly, toy articles such as balloons could be used for night time activities when equipped with lights that would allow not only for viewing but also for retrieval. Such balloons could be used as decorative pieces for night time events or even carry information indicating sponsors, advertisers, entrances, exits, food stations and the like at both indoor and outdoor events. With the advent of high intensity light sources, such as affordable light emitting diodes that are very bright and require low current, balloons with such lights could allow weather forecasters to release balloons after dark and track. Such tracking is now restricted to daylight hours.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

This disclosure relates to signal devices for indicating and retrieving airborne devices such as lighter than air amusement balloons and model rockets. Balloons filled with helium are often used as amusement devices for having birthday parties and the like and when fitted with a lighting device as disclosed herein have an additional feature of being observed at night or even during high light situations when fitted with a colored or flashing light device. The model rockets are the type used by individuals for personal entertainment and sport. The usual, basic construction of a tubular body section consisting of a single section or in the case of the so-called long rockets several sections fitted together and slightly telescoping sections. The materials used for the tubular body are light and strong and may be constructed of plastic, reinforced paper, aluminum, fiberglass and the like. The tubular body contains a conventional model rocket engine that is purchased as a sub assembly to be fitted into the lower part of the tubular body. For obvious safety reasons, model rocket afficionados generally do not construct the engines and experiment with the propulsion materials that are highly explosive and must burn at a controlled rate to achieve maximum speed and height. Thus, most engines are purchased from sources that are well known in the industry. The body of the rocket usually includes fins for control and a removable nose cone section. The usual, reusable, model rocked also has a folded parachute at the upper end in or near the nose cone so that is may be deployed during descent to prevent the rocked from being damaged from impact with the ground and also to prevent injuries or damage to property by a fast moving, falling rocket. Typical model rockets are usually restricted to day time launches since they cannot be easily viewed and retrieved after dusk and in the dark. However, night launches are desirable since the rocket burn can be observed and the sight of an ascending rocket is different and enjoyable. However, drawbacks outweith the enjoyment since the viewing light is rather dim and does not last long enough to be thoroughly enjoyed during the entire flight of the rocket. The instant invention provides light sources for these model rockets that can be easily attached to an existing rocket for example or added during manufacturing in a clear or translucent nose cone of customized rockets to allow the rockets to be observed during ascent and descent and to be easily located when on the ground.

The instant disclosure also shows rockets and balloons fitted with sound devices to assist in retrieval. Even during day time launches there is difficulty encountered with retrieving launched rockets that can be entangled in trees, lost in corn fields or otherwise obstructed from view. By adding a sound emitting device, rockets can be more easily tracked during flight and retrieved when not readily observed at the end of flight.

In operation, one form of the invention shows a light source attached to the rocket in the form of a small light emitting diode, LED, and carrying its own small power source in the form of a small, watch type battery, charged capacitor or the like. These miniature lights can be attached at any location on the rocket. Such a lighting device could be attached by a simple nylon wire tie, clip or even adhesive.

Another form of a factory made or modified model rocket discloses a removable nose cone that also provides a housing for a light source that allows the rocket to be observed during flight and recovery. This nose cone section is made of a material that is clear or even partially clear, i.e. translucent, to allow light to shine through. The light source may be an incandescent bulb or light emitting diode that is powered or receives current from batteries or other source of electricity.

Another form of the light source utilizes a light stick, i.e. a combination of chemicals that when activated or combined produce light. The light stick is particularly useful in applications over water or for repeated uses where weight reduction is important since the light stick customarily is less weight that the batteries.

It is contemplated that electric circuits may be provided that do not have batteries on board the rocket but use capacitors or other sources to energize the light source. One particularly rugged and reliable power source utilizes a moving, magnetic metal slug in a wire coil that operates in accordance to Faraday's law that states that a magnet moving in a coil produces a voltage to charge a capacitor and hold voltage to power the LED or light bulb. With such an arrangement the model rocket kit can be stored for long periods between uses and used without the need to provide fresh batteries as the source of electricity. The capacitor could be charged from the Faraday charging device that is not subject to being discharged as are conventional voltage sources such as dry cell batteries.

With balloons, the light source is to be attached inside if the balloon is transparent or translucent and will allow light to show through. Otherwise the light is attached to the balloon tether. With either form of attachment the balloon is easily viewed. If the balloon is transparent or translucent the light will shine through and can reveal the color or message of the balloon or display the light source color or flashing features.

It is thus an object of the invention to provide a model rocket with a light source that will allow viewing during night launches at ascent, descent and retrieval.

It is another object of the invention to provide a model rocket with a sound source that will emit an audible signal to allow ease of retrieval after descent.

Another object is to provide a model rocket with a sound emitting device having a sound delay feature to prevent operation of the sound device to produce an audible sound until the rocked has blasted off.

It is yet another object of the invention to provide a model rocket with a light located in the nose cone to be easily viewed during rocket flight and recovery.

Another object of the invention is to provide a model rocket lighting kit with a light source, power source and attaching means for viewing model rockets that can be launched at night and easily recovered by simply attaching the light kit members to the rocket.

It is another object of the invention is to provide a light for model rockets that is powered from a lightweight capacitor that has been charged to provide power to the light source during launch, descent and retrieval.

Another object of the invention is to provide a launch system for model rockets that includes lights showing a sequence of signals to indicate a countdown to launch of the rocket.

Another object of the disclosure it to disclose a launch system for model rockets that provides a countdown voice and remote triggering device for automatically launching a rocket.

These and other objects of the invention will become apparent to those having ordinary skill in the art with reference to the attached drawings, specification and appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an elevation-section view of a typical model rocket with a light source;

FIG. 2 is an exploded view of the nose cone section after launch showing deployment of the parachute;

FIG. 3 is a detail view of the nose cone with the light, battery assembly;

FIG. 4 is a simple light circuit that may be utilized with one form of the invention;

FIG. 5 is variation of a power circuit that eliminates the need of an on board battery and showing use of a capacitor charged with a battery that is detached from the circuit before launch;

FIG. 6 is another variation of the power circuit that uses a detachable power source, in this case a magnet moving in a coil to produce a current that charges the capacitor that supplies operating voltage during flight;

FIG. 7 is a circuit showing an inertial switch that controls, i.e. delays activation of the sound emitting device;

FIG. 8 shows external light and sound devices that can be added to and removed as desired from conventional, off the shelf model rockets;

FIG. 9 is a view showing the appearance of the model rocket of FIG. 8 after deployment of the parachute;

FIG. 10 is detail view of the external light source;

FIG. 11 is detail view of the external sound source;

FIG. 12 is detail view of a balloon showing the light and sound device added;

FIG. 13 shows a schematic of the countdown light/sound feature.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring now to the drawings and in particular FIG. 1 there is shown a model rocket 10 having the usual elongated body 12 and attached nose cone 14 at the far end and tail fins 16 at the near end. A rocket motor 18 is located adjacent the tail fins 14 and provides propulsion. The rocket engine or motor 18 is manufactured and purchased then added to the rocket 10. The outlet or nozzle portion 20 of the rocket 10 is used to eject burnt gasses from the rocket motor 18. The motor 18 has an explosive charge that is ignited by electricity from a battery 19 at a point away from the launch site. FIG. 1 shows a model rocket that has been modified or manufactured in a fashion to incorporate the light and sound devices as disclosed herein as integral parts and not as add ons to model rockets that are currently available. Modifications of currently existing model rockets will be discussed later in this disclosure.

Rocket 10 has a plenum or chamber 22 that provides a hollow space for storage of a shock cord 24 and a folded parachute 26. After launch and near the highest point of travel of the model rocket 10 the motor 18 will detonate a small charge of gas into the plenum 22 to force the nose cone 14 from the body portion 12 and allow the parachute to deploy for controlled descent of the rocket 10 in a fashion that allows the rocket to be observed and to prevent damage to the rocket and to objects on the ground.

As shown in the drawings and in particular FIG. 1, a light emitting diode or LED 30 is preferably provided in the nose cone area 14 to provide light that shines through the nose cone 14 to allow the rocket 10 to be observed during ascent, descent and when on the ground. A second electronic device, a sound emitting device 31 is also mounted to receive power from a battery 32 that is shown in a battery holder 32 that is part of a light/sound device housing 34 that may be made as a sub assembly and fitted into a conventional model rocket. The housing 34 is somewhat smaller than the inside diameter of the body 12 of the rocket 10 and telescopes into the body portion. Nose cone 14 and housing 34 are snap fitted together to allow easy access to the LED 30 and battery 32 for adjusting or replacing. One such arrangement for a snap-fit is shown in FIG. 1 wherein nose cone 14 has an internal raised bead or ring 35 that snaps into a collar located adjacent an integral with housing 34. Since it is contemplated that nose cone 14 and housing 34 are constructed of plastic, there will be sufficient flexibility with the parts to allow the pieces to attached with ease. Further, housing 34 may have slots 37 to allow sound to efficiently emanate from the sound device 31 contained therein. A switch 38 is mounted on the rocket 10 to allow the circuit for the light 30 and sound device 31 to activated independently of launch power prior to launch. The wiring for the system is shown schematically in FIG. 4; however, as explained below, there are several variations that provide unique features as desired.

Several circuit variations are shown in the circuits of FIGS. 4-7. A basic circuit is shown in FIG. 4 with light 30, sound device 31, battery 32 and switch 38 shown together as could occur if all these circuit elements were carried on board and activated just prior to launch. When switch 38 is closed, light 30 and sound device 31 are activated during the entire flight and powered by on board battery 32.

As shown in FIG. 3 a small battery 32 or series of batteries may be mounted in the battery holder 33. Battery 32 and other components are held in a sub assembly housing 34 that is preferably a plastic molded piece that snaps onto the attaching ring 35 of nose cone 14 with its locking neck portion 36. Housing 34 has a series of openings or vents 37 that allow sound to exit as produced by the sound source 31 contained therein. It is contemplated that a switch 38 may be located on an external surface of the housing 34 to allow the electric circuit to be activated for lighting the light 30 and energizing the sound source 31 either independently or together.

FIG. 5 shows a variation of the above circuits wherein a capacitor 39 is added to the circuit, and, battery power is removable via plugs or jacks 40. Thus, when capacitor 39 if fully charged to a point of storing sufficient power to light the LED 30 and sound source 31, the battery is disconnected and launch may occur. One advantage of this arrangement is that the capacitor will be much lighter that the batteries required to power the devices and thus will not reduce the flight time, rate of ascent and height reached.

FIG. 6 shows another variation of the above circuits wherein a moving magnet or so-called Faraday device 41 is used to produce a voltage to charge capacitor 39. This feature allows a rocket kit to be provided that does not depend on battery life or availability.

FIG. 7 shows yet another variation of the above circuits wherein an inertia switch 42 is used to respond to acceleration of the rocket and disconnect power as the rocket rises and at a time that sound is not needed and indeed may be drowned out by the sound of the rocket engine 18. As the rocket descends, power is restored and the light, sound or both are activated.

A conventional model rocket 10 is illustrated in FIG. 8. A lighting kit is provided for such a product to allow lighting to be provided for the purpose of observing the rocket during launch and for assisting in its retrieval. The specific details of the components of the lighting kit are shown in FIG. 10 and will be referred to as follows. An LED assembly is indicated by the numeral 46 and includes a light 47, button battery or batteries 48 as required to power the light, a housing 49 to hold the components and a switch 50 to turn the light on and off. Housing 49 will have a series of eyelets or connecting points 51 to receive a plastic strap 52 having a loose end 53 and a receiving or locking end 54 that securely receives the loose end 53 to allow the strap to grip the rocket body 12 and securely hold the lighting arrangement in place during flight and recovery of the model rocket 10.

A similar arrangement exists for providing a sound to a model rocket in the form of a kit. Referring now to FIG. 11 a sound device kit 55 is shown and consists of a housing 56 for holding a power source such as a battery or batteries 58 (a series of button batteries are shown), an external switch 60, connecting eyelets or loops on the housing 56 for attaching the sound kit, a flexible strap 62 having a loose end 63 and a locking end 64. Like the light kit shown in FIG. 4, the sound kit can be easily attached to the round body 12 of a model rocket 10. As shown schematically in FIG. 7, an inertial circuit element or trigger designated 42 can be added to the sound device to delay activating the sound until after the rocket descends or even lands to assist in recovery. FIG. 9 shows a sound device 55 strapped to the cylindrical body portion of a model rocket 10.

As mentioned earlier, the light arrangement could be adapted to balloons as illustrated in FIG. 12. A balloon is identified by the number 70 and has a tether 73 having a light 72 attached thereto. The light 72 may be of the same kind shown and described earlier having its own batteries and illustrated in FIG. 10. on the other hand the light 72 may be a single LED with electrical connection provided by tether 73 to a base that contains a power source such as a 9 volt battery that would provide longer power for light 72 as might be needed due to longer flight or other variety of uses of balloons. As shown in FIG. 12, another LED 78 may be mounted inside the balloon 70 to provide a means to follow the balloon during flight, and, to be used with balloons that contain information such as birthday greetings, congratulations, or other messages, even advertising.

FIG. 13 shows a schematic diagram for utilizing countdown lights to signal the start of a blast off. With such a system the electrical power source 19 (FIGS. 1,8) would be activated but power would not be provided to the rocket motor 18 until the lighting show is completed. This lighting could be as simple as a red, yellow and green or more elaborate with flashing and more attractive, dramatic light effects to signal the countdown. Once the light show is nearing the end, it is cut off to allow viewing of the rocket during firing and initial ascent. The system also contemplates an audible feature such as a voice count down feature or music as indicated.

Thus it has been shown by the foregoing description and detailed drawings that the disclosure shows an airborne device that can be used at night to provide both sport and entertainment. Lightweight lighting and sound devices are used to allow the device to viewed during flight and easily recovered when back on the ground by viewing or by listening for sound emitted by the tracking device provided. The lighting and sound components may be provided in the form of a kit that can be independently purchased, without the airborne device or rocket, and easily attached to an on-hand, conventional rocket. Further, the disclosure shows a countdown system for launching a rocket with a light and/or sound arrangement to enhance enjoyment of the launch of the device.

The forgoing description and drawings merely explain and illustrate the invention and the invention is not limited thereto, except insofar as the appended claims are so limited, as those who are skilled in the art and have the disclosure before them will be able to make modifications and variations therein without departing from the scope of the invention.