Title:
FLYING TOY APPARATUS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Flying toy apparatus is provided including a housing with drive means provided therein for driving rotation of rotary means associated with said housing. Vane means are associated with said housing and said vane means rotate in a counter direction to the rotation of said rotary means in use. The vane means are arranged substantially vertically in use.



Inventors:
Jermyn, Phillip Matthew (HAVANT, GB)
Application Number:
12/016766
Publication Date:
03/12/2009
Filing Date:
01/18/2008
Assignee:
ALIEN TECHNOLOGIES LTD (Kowloon, HK)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63H27/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BALDORI, JOSEPH B
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MCKEE, VOORHEES & SEASE, P.L.C. (DES MOINES, IA, US)
Claims:
1. Flying rotating toy apparatus, said apparatus including a housing with drive means provided therein for driving rotation of rotary means associated with said housing, vane means being further associated with said housing, rotation of the rotary means causing said housing and said vane means to rotate in a counter direction to the rotation of said rotary means in use, and wherein said vane means are located above said rotary means and are arranged substantially vertically in use, thereby allowing the toy to self stabilize during flying as a result of utilizing the downdraft created by the rotary means.

2. (canceled)

3. Flying toy apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the vane means are arranged in a direction substantially parallel to the axis of rotation of the rotary means.

4. Flying toy apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the rotary means includes at least two rotatable blades.

5. Flying toy apparatus according to claim 4 wherein the rotatable blades rotate about a substantially central shaft and rotation of said shaft drives rotation of the blades in a required direction.

6. Flying toy apparatus according to claim 5 wherein the drive means drives rotation of the shaft.

7. Flying toy apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the vane means have a first inner end and a second outer end, the first inner end of said vane means extending outwardly from the housing and offset from the centre of the housing.

8. Flying toy apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the vane means are offset from the axis of rotation of a rotatable shaft associated with the rotary means.

9. Flying toy apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the vane means includes two or more vane members.

10. Flying toy apparatus according to claim 9 wherein four vane members are provided.

11. Flying toy apparatus according to claim 10 wherein each vane member is located substantially 90 degrees to an adjacent vane member.

12. Flying toy apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the vane means include two or more vane members and a first end of each vane member is joined to or integral with an external surface of the housing.

13. Flying toy apparatus according to claim 12 wherein a second end of each vane member is a free end.

14. Flying toy apparatus according to claim 13 wherein the second end of each vane member is associated with an outer joining member joining all the outer second ends of the vane members together.

15. Flying toy apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the vane means include two or more vane members and a first or inner end of each vane member is joined to, abuts with or is near to a vertical or upright surface of an adjacent vane member and is a pre-determined spaced distance apart from a joined inner end or surface or said adjacent vane member.

16. Flying toy apparatus according to claim 15 wherein four vane members are provided and a substantially square shaped aperture is defined between the joined ends of said vane members.

17. Flying toy apparatus according to claim 1 wherein an end(s) of the vane means extend outwardly of said housing beyond the end(s) of the rotary means.

18. (canceled)

19. Flying toy apparatus according to claim 1 wherein a lower surface of the vane means is provided with a recess to at least partially enclose the rotary means therein.

20. Flying toy apparatus according to claim 1 wherein protruding means are provided on or associated with one or more of the vane means and said protruding means protrudes outwardly of a side surface of said vane means to provide a directional stimulus to said apparatus.

21. Flying toy apparatus according to claim 20 wherein power to the drive means of the apparatus is moved between “on” and “off” conditions or pulsed during use to allow the directional stimulus of the protruding means to be used to control the direction of the toy apparatus.

22. Flying toy apparatus according to claim 21 wherein the power is pulsed or switched between “on” and “off” conditions automatically by the apparatus using directional means.

23. Flying toy apparatus according to claim 22 wherein the directional means includes a directional LED signal.

24. Flying toy apparatus according to claim 1 wherein user actuated control means are provided to control power to the drive means remotely in use.

25. Flying toy apparatus according to claim 24 wherein the control means communicated with the drive means via radio waves.

26. Flying toy apparatus according to claim 24 wherein the user actuated control means includes user actuation means to allow control of the power and/or direction of the toy apparatus.

27. A method of self stabilising flying rotating toy apparatus, said method including the steps of driving rotation of rotary means associated with a housing of said apparatus, said rotation causing the housing and vane means associated with said housing to rotate in a counter direction to the rotation of said rotary means in use, and wherein said vane means are located above said rotary means and are arranged substantially vertically in use, thereby allowing the toy to self stabilize during flying as a result of utilizing the downdraft created by the rotary means.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to flying toy apparatus, and particularly to flying toy apparatus capable of undergoing a hovering motion.

It is known to provide flying toy apparatus which is capable of undergoing hovering airborne motion in use thereby providing interest to both child and adult users. In order to stabilize hovering toy apparatus to prevent tilt or torque as a result of rotation of the toy itself or as a result of rotation of one or more propellers provided on the toy apparatus, stabilization systems or counter tilt/counter torque systems are normally required. One known stabilisation system uses a gyroscope to control the orientation or yaw of the toy. However, use of gyroscope stabilisation systems is expensive and complex and therefore undesirable. Other known systems use one or more counter-torque propellers to counteract the torque provided by a main propeller on the toy. However, use of additional propellers increases the cost and complexity of manufacturing the toy.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

U.S. Pat. No. 6,843,699 discloses rotating toy apparatus capable of undergoing hovering flight which utilizes a self-stabilisation mechanism. The toy includes a main rotor rotatably attached to a counter rotating main body. The main body includes a plurality of fixed blades attached between a central hub and an outer ring. As the main blade rotates, the torque reaction causes the main body to rotate in the opposite direction. Once the toy is flying the outer ring protects the main rotor and provides gyroscopic stability. Additionally, the blades provide a means for self-correcting tilts in the aircraft as they arise, so as to keep the aircraft horizontal in the air. If the toy tilts, it moves sideways in the direction of tilt. As a result, the blades on one side of the aircraft experience an increase in airspeed, whilst those on the opposite side experience a reduction. This creates a lift imbalance across the aircraft, that acts at 90 degrees to the direction of travel and this in turn creates a gyroscopic procession with a reaction force that is 90 degrees out of phase. The gyroscopic reaction thus acts in the opposite direction to the original tilt, thereby providing self stabilisation. Thus, the self stabilisation mechanism is dependent on the lift generated by the toy. A problem with this type of flying toy is that the effectiveness of the self stabilisation mechanism is dependent on the surrounding air flow and conditions.

It is an aim of the present invention to provide flying toy apparatus which overcomes the abovementioned problems.

It is a further aim of the present invention to provide a self stabilisation mechanism for flying toy apparatus.

It is a yet further aim of the present invention to provide a method of using flying toy apparatus.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to a first aspect of the present invention there is provided flying toy apparatus, said apparatus including a housing with drive means provided therein for driving rotation of rotary means associated with said housing, vane means being further associated with said housing and said vane means rotating in a counter direction to the rotation of said rotary means in use, and wherein said vane means are arranged substantially vertically in use.

The provision of the vertically arranged vane means on the toy apparatus allows the apparatus to self stabilise during flying as a result of utilising the downdraft created by the rotary means. The applicant is not aware of the downdraft of flying toy apparatus being used to create self stabilisation of the toy apparatus and this differs from the use of lift to self stabilise as used in the prior art.

Preferably the vane means (i.e. the height of the vane means) are arranged in a direction substantially parallel to the axis of rotation of said rotary means.

Preferably the rotary means includes at least two rotatable blades, such as propeller blades. The rotary means or blades are arranged so as to generate lift to allow the apparatus to become airborne. The blades typically rotate about a substantially central shaft and rotation of said shaft drives rotation of said blades in a required direction. The drive means drives rotation of said shaft and thus said blades.

Rotation of said rotary means causes said housing and said vane means associated with said housing to rotate in an opposite direction. Thus the drive means does not drive rotation of said vane means and said housing directly.

Preferably the vane means are offset from the centre of the apparatus, and particularly are offset from the axis of rotation of the rotatable shaft associated with said rotary means.

Preferably the vane means includes two or more vane members and in a preferred embodiment the vane means include four vane members.

Preferably each of the four vane members IS located at substantially 90 degrees to an adjacent vane member.

Preferably a first end or side surface adjacent said end of each of the vane members is joined to, associated with or integral with an external surface of the housing. The second or opposite end of each of the vane members can be a free end or can be associated with an outer joining member joining all the outer or second ends of the vane members or two or more of the vane members together.

Preferably the first or inner joined end or surface of each vane member is joined to, abuts or is near to a vertical or upright surface of an adjacent vane member and is a pre-determined spaced distance from the joined inner end or surface of said adjacent vane member. As such, in the embodiment in which four vane members are used, the joined inner ends of the vane members define a substantially square shaped centre or aperture between the vane members.

Preferably the free or outer end(s) of the vane members extend outwardly from the housing beyond the end(s) or free end(s) of the rotary means.

Preferably the rotary means are associated with a base or lower portion of the housing and the vane means are located above the rotary means (i.e. the vane means can be a spaced distance apart and associated with a top or upper section of the housing).

At least a portion of the lower surface of the vane means can be shaped so as to at least partially enclose the rotary means. For example a recess portion can be defined on the lower surface of the vane means to allow rotation of the rotary means within said recess portion. The recess portion is preferably defined on an inner portion of said lower surface.

The vane means and/or the rotary means can be made from any or any combination of suitable lightweight material, such as plastic, foam, wood, fabric and/or the like.

In one embodiment protruding means can be provided on or associated with one or more of the vane means and said protruding means protrudes outwardly of a side surface of said vane means. The protruding means is provided to increase the drag associated with one side of the vane means compared to an opposite side of the vane means, thereby providing a net tilt to the apparatus in the direction of the protruding means and creating a directional stimulus to the flying apparatus. The directional stimulus can be manipulated to allow a user to control the direction in which the flying apparatus moves in use.

Preferably the protruding means protrudes substantially transversally or at an acute angle relative to a side surface of the vane means.

Preferably the power to the drive means can be moved between “on” and “off” conditions or is pulsed during use to allow the directional stimulus generated by the protruding means to be used to control the direction of the toy apparatus. The burst of power and cutting of power or power pulses to the drive means can be provided each time the protruding means is in a particular orientation, thereby tilting the apparatus in a particular direction.

Preferably the power to the drive means is pulsed or switched between the “on” and “off” conditions automatically by the apparatus using directional means. For example, the directional means can include a directional light signal, such as for example a Light Emitting Diode (LED) beacon or signal. An LED provided on the apparatus or housing emits a light signal which is detected by user control means in use when the apparatus is in a particular orientation during each revolution. Detection of the light signal causes activation of an electrical signal in the user control means which controls the power supply to the drive means.

The user control means typically controls the power to the drive means remotely using communication means, such as radio waves and/ or waveforms at a different frequency, such as via microwave, infrared, light and/or the like.

The user control means is typically provided with actuation means, such as for example one or more control buttons, to allow control of the power and/or direction of the toy apparatus in use.

According to a second aspect of the present invention there is provided a method of self stabilising flying toy apparatus, said method including the steps of driving rotation of rotary means associated with a housing of said apparatus, said rotation causing vane means associated with said housing to rotate in a counter direction to the rotation of said rotary means in use, and wherein said vane means are arranged substantially vertically In use.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Embodiments of the present invention will now be described with reference to the accompanying figures, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a plan view of flying toy apparatus according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a side view of the toy apparatus in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a plan view of the apparatus in FIG. 1 in use.

FIG. 4 is a plan view of a further embodiment of flying toy apparatus according to an embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring to the figures, there is illustrated toy apparatus 2 capable of undergoing hovering flight in use. The apparatus includes a housing 4 containing a motor for driving rotation of a shaft 6 extending below housing 4.

Rotary means in the form of a pair of oppositely located propeller blades 8 are located at the base of rotatable shaft 6. Blades 8 rotate about shaft 6 and, in use, shaft 6 and therefore the axis of rotation of blades 8 is substantially vertical. The blades 8 are typically located substantially horizontally or at an acute angle to the horizontal such that they provide the apparatus with lift on rotation of the same.

Vane means in the form of four vane members 10 are joined to the exterior surface of housing 4 and extend outwardly therefrom. The vane means are struck by the downdraft that is generated by the propeller blades when the toy flies, which allows self stabilisation of the toy as will be described in more detail below.

The vane members 10 are arranged substantially vertically, such that the height of the vane ‘h’ is substantially larger in size than the width ‘w’ thereof (i.e. the vane members are typically formed from sheet or plate like material). More particularly, each vane member 10 has a first inner end 12 and a second free outer end 14. The inner ends 12 of the vane members 10 are offset from the centre of housing 4, such that they define a substantially square central portion between said inner ends 12. Thus, the inner end 12 of each vane member 10 is joined to the vertical surface 14 of an adjacent vane member a spaced distance's' from the inner end of said adjacent vane member. Each of the four vane members are arranged substantially perpendicularly with respect to an adjacent vane member.

Vane members 10 are arranged above blades 8 and the free ends 14 extend outwardly of the housing 4 beyond the free ends 16 of blades 8. In the illustrated embodiment a recess portion 18 is defined on the lower surface of vane members 10 to allow rotation of blades 8 within said recess portion 18.

In use of the toy 2, the motor drives rotation of blades 8 in an anti-clockwise direction, thereby providing a torque reaction. This torque reaction acts on the housing 4 and vane members 10 causing the same to rotate in a clockwise direction as shown by arrows 20. Rotation of blades 8 causes the toy 2 to become airborne and to hover and the provision of the vane means cause the toy 2 to be stabilised using its own downdraft represented by dotted line 22.

As the front of apparatus 2 starts to move horizontally in a first direction, as shown by arrow 24, the downdraft column on the rear side of the toy lags behind apparatus 2 as shown in FIG. 3. As a result of the offset orientation of vane members 10 about housing 4, vane member ‘A’ experiences a greater downdraft than opposite and parallel vane member ‘B’. This results in apparatus 2 tilting towards ‘A’ in a direction substantially perpendicular to the direction of forwards movement. This in turn creates a gyroscopic procession with a reaction force that is 90 degrees out of phase. The gyroscopic reaction thus acts in the opposite direction to the original tilt, as shown by arrow 26. Thus, apparatus 2 is reacting gyroscopically with a tilting movement away from the direction of movement, thereby providing corrective feedback and self stabilising apparatus 2 as a result of the downdraft.

Thus, the self stabilisation mechanism used in the present invention provides a flying toy which is passively stable during flight in use. It does this by using propeller downdraft, which impinges on vane members provided on the toy to provide aerodynamic feedback to tilt itself to correct any horizontal movement of the toy.

With reference to FIG. 4, a directional stimulus can be generated in the toy 2 as an optional feature to allow a user to control direction of flight of the toy in use. A protruding member in the form of a tab 28 can protrude outwardly from a single side surface 30 (i.e. a free surface facing inwardly of the apparatus and being substantially parallel to the axis of rotation of shaft 6) of a vane member 10. Tab 28 generates an increased force from the downdraft experienced by the connecting vane member, thereby generating a net tilt in the direction of tab 28 as the toy 2 rotates. However, since the direction of tab 28 is constantly changing during rotation, the tab alone does not cause directional movement of the toy.

In order to cause directional movement, synchronised bursts of power are supplied to the motor each time the tab 28 is in a desired position. Corresponding breaks in the power supply each time the tab 28 is on the opposite side ensure that lift of the toy is preserved but the additional downdraft force on the tab side at the same place in each revolution of the vane member causes the apparatus to tilt in the desired direction.

The synchronised changes in the power supply to the motor can be achieved automatically using user control means provided with the toy 2. The user control means of toy 2 typically includes a user held housing which communicates remotely with housing 4 of the toy using radio waves. An LED beacon provided on housing 4 is detected by a suitable sensor provided on the user control means during each revolution of housing 4, each time the control means and the LED beacon become substantially aligned during rotation. Activation of the sensor generates an electrical signal in the user control means which allows the motor power changes to be synchronised to the aircraft's revolution. By choosing the appropriate phase delay between detecting the LED beacon and applying the motor power changes, the aircraft can be made to tilt and move in any desired direction. The user control means is preferably provided with push-buttons to allow selection of forwards, backwards, left or right movement.