Title:
THREE-DIMENSIONAL MAGNETIC AMUSEMENT DEVICE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An amusement device allowing a user to move magnetic members in three dimensions is presented. The method enables a group of magnetic members to be attracted and repelled along three dimensional paths defined by non-magnetic tracks (30). Relative alignment of the magnetic members to maintain the attractive and repulsive orientations is achieved by passing the non-magnetic tracks (30) through the magnetic members. A user manipulates a group of magnets (40) by interacting with one or more of them. For example, the user can repel a group of magnets (40) along the three-dimensional path by pushing only one of the magnets (45) in the group. The magnetic members can have many different shapes, colors, sizes, magnetic strengths, and textures. These devices can be found in the home and in many other settings such as waiting rooms, daycares, classrooms, and hospitals.



Inventors:
Krochak, Jennifer L. (Edmonton, CA)
Krochak, Darryl D. (Edmonton, CA)
Application Number:
12/255066
Publication Date:
04/30/2009
Filing Date:
10/21/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
446/485, 446/489
International Classes:
A63H33/26; A63H33/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KLAYMAN, AMIR ARIE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LARKIN HOFFMAN DALY & LINDGREN, LTD. (Minneapolis, MN, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A method of moving a plurality of magnetic members in as many as three dimensions utilizing the laws of magnetic attraction and repulsion comprising: (a) providing a track member which is sufficiently non-magnetic, (b) providing a plurality of magnetic members with a hole in each of sufficient size to surround and permit free movement on said track member, (c) arranging said magnetic members in predetermined orientations of magnetic attraction and repulsion, (d) providing said track member passing through said magnetic members, (e) providing said track member shaped in as many as three dimensions, whereby a user can move said plurality of magnetic members according to the laws of magnetic attraction and repulsion by manipulating one or more of said magnetic members such that said magnetic members follow the path defined by said track member.

2. The method of claim 1 wherein said track member is made of aluminum, plastic, copper or other non-magnetic material with a predetermined cross section.

3. The method of claim 1 wherein said track member forms a continuous path.

4. The method of claim 1 wherein said track member is constructed to be self supporting.

5. The method of claim 1 wherein said magnetic members have predetermined magnetic strengths and predetermined sizes.

6. The method of claim 1 wherein said magnetic members are decorative figures depicting a particular sport, hobby, shape or other interest.

7. The method of claim 1 wherein the magnetic orientation and number of said magnetic members can be changed.

8. A device allowing movement of a plurality of magnetic members in as many as three dimensions utilizing the laws of magnetic attraction and repulsion comprising: (a) a base member having sufficient size and material properties to support said device, (b) a track member or plurality of track members being sufficiently non-magnetic, (c) a plurality of magnetic members with a hole in each of sufficient size to surround and permit free movement on said track member, (d) said track member each of which passes through its own said magnetic members, (e) said magnetic members being arranged in predetermined orientations of magnetic attraction and repulsion, (f) said track member shaped in as many as three dimensions, (g) said track member having each end attached to said base member, whereby a user can move said plurality of magnetic members according to the laws of magnetic attraction and repulsion by manipulating one or more of said magnetic members such that said magnetic members follow the path defined by said track member.

9. The device of claim 8 wherein said base member is made of wood, plastic, metal or other material of sufficient strength, weight, and durability.

10. The device of claim 8 wherein said track member is made of aluminum, plastic, copper or other non-magnetic material with a predetermined cross section.

11. The device of claim 8 wherein said track member is not permanently attached to said base allowing the user to change the magnetic orientation and number of said magnetic members.

12. The device of claim 8 wherein said magnetic members have predetermined magnetic strengths and predetermined sizes.

13. The device of claim 8 wherein said magnetic members are decorative figures depicting a particular sport, hobby, shape or other interest.

14. The device of claim 8 wherein said track members are made of transparent material that transmits light and the device is further provided with circuitry associated with the power means to illuminate the light means as required.

15. A device allowing movement of a plurality of magnetic members in as many as three dimensions utilizing the laws of magnetic attraction and repulsion comprising: (a) a track member or plurality of track members being sufficiently non-magnetic, (b) a plurality of magnetic members with a hole in each of sufficient size to surround and permit free movement on said track members, (c) said track members each of which passes through its own group of said magnetic members, (d) said magnetic members being arranged in predetermined orientations of magnetic attraction and repulsion, (e) said track member shaped in as many as three dimensions, whereby a user can move said plurality of magnetic members according to the laws of magnetic attraction and repulsion by manipulating one or more of said magnetic members such that said magnetic members follow the path defined by said track member.

16. The device of claim 15 wherein said track member is made of aluminum, plastic, copper or other non-magnetic material with a predetermined cross section.

17. The device of claim 15 wherein said track member forms a continuous path.

18. The device of claim 15 wherein said track member is constructed to be self supporting.

19. The device of claim 15 wherein said magnetic members have predetermined magnetic strengths and predetermined sizes.

20. The device of claim 15 wherein said magnetic members are decorative figures depicting a particular sport, hobby, shape or other interest.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of Provisional Patent application Ser. No. 61/000,647 filed 2007 Oct. 29 by the present inventors.

FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH

Not Applicable

SEQUENCE LISTING OR PROGRAM

Not Applicable

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates to magnetic games, particularly to the dimensions of movement within them.

2. Prior Art

Current magnetic games are limited in their dimension of play. To move a magnet using the repelling force of another, the magnets must be held in relative alignment. If relative alignment is not maintained, one of the magnets will flip to its preferred orientation of attraction. To then have a magnet rise, fall, turn corners, and loop in three dimensions, one must ensure the relative alignment of the repelling magnetic forces. Some games use a magnetic piece to repel another piece in just two dimensions such as U.S. Pat. No. 2,540,216 to Quinby (1951). Others use attraction methods beneath a two-dimensional game board to guide a magnetic member around, such as Canadian patent 1070725 to Takashi (1980). Another game that uses attractive magnetic forces is found in Canadian patent 681510 to Sire (1964). Some games use both magnetic attraction and magnetic repulsion such as Canadian patent 690485 to Schott (1964). In each of these instances the magnetic forces are used only in two dimensions. Moreover, some games utilize a magnetic wand that a user manipulates to attract or repel various other magnets. One such game is found in U.S. Pat. No. 4,132,032 to Triska (1979). This restricts a person to using only the wand to manipulate the various other magnets.

Commonly found wooden bead mazes only use gravity and the forces that a person applies to the beads to move them around the course. Some have tried to make these games more interesting or have assembled them differently. U.S. Pat. No. 6,203,398 B1 to Wen-Pin Lin (2001) discloses a track forming a continuous loop. Canadian patent 1300378 to Johnson (1992) uses a malleable track member so that the course can be changed and its base is made of suction cups. U.S. Pat. No. 5,112,268 to Klaus (1992) is a self-supporting structure. But nobody has used magnetic forces with a three-dimensional game.

OBJECTS AND ADVANTAGES

Other magnetic games are limited to being played in two dimensions. With the presented method, all three dimensions can be easily achieved. The magnets rise, fall, turn corners, and loop around on the track according to the laws of gravity and magnetic attraction and repulsion. The trailing magnet must stay in relative alignment with the magnet that it is repelling in order to achieve relative orientation of the magnetic forces. By making the magnets annular to a non-magnetic track, the direction of their travel is limited only by the design of the track. Moreover, in this method the user is not limited to having to use the same one magnet to repel the others. Different magnets on the apparatus can be used to repel another magnet or groups of magnets around on the track. This is quite different from the games where the user can only use a magnetic wand to interact with the magnets.

The current embodiment of the invention is quite different from a common bead maze. The wooden bead mazes only use gravity and the force that a person applies to the beads to move them around their course. By utilizing annular magnets on a non-magnetic track, the user of our device can utilize magnetic forces to achieve movement. This changes the entire feel of how one moves the various magnets around the non-magnetic tracks. This device adds a novel, and fun component that will surely delight children.

There are other objects and advantages of the preferred embodiment. It is very easy to use and even very young children who do not know anything about magnets can manipulate the magnets around. Moreover, the device is very educational as it will teach its users about magnetic forces, help with color recognition, help develop hand-eye coordination and help contribute to language skills. Many will be drawn to its shiny and durable aluminum tracks as well as its various bright colors. This device should have no trouble making its way onto the market place. It would be the perfect waiting room toy, as well as a suitable device for various daycares, schools, and family homes. It could easily be used as a rehabilitation device in hospitals to help patients regain or improve their fine motor skills. Furthermore, it could be used as a teaching tool to demonstrate magnetic forces in the classroom. It will appeal to a larger age range than a typical bead maze would, as its magnetic component will surely hold the attention of older children much longer. It will also appeal to younger children who will be able to experience the feel of magnetic forces in three dimensions. The fact that it does not require batteries and is not gender-specific increases its appeal even more. Further objects and advantages of our invention will become apparent from a consideration of the drawings and ensuing descriptions.

SUMMARY

This method enables magnetic members to be attracted and repelled in three dimensions. It is the design of the track that determines where the magnetic members can go. By making the non-magnetic tracks pass through a series of magnetic members one is able to move the magnetic members in any direction that the track allows. This method keeps the magnetic members in the proper alignment for the laws of attraction and repulsion to work.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a preferred embodiment of an apparatus according to the present invention.

FIG. 2 is an exploded assembly view of a portion of a track on the apparatus illustrated in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of a portion of a track illustrating its attachment to the base of the apparatus illustrated in FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of an alternate embodiment of an apparatus according to the present invention utilizing a track with a continuous path.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of an alternate embodiment of an apparatus according to the present invention utilizing a self supporting track.

FIG. 6 is a fragmentary schematic view of an alternate embodiment of an apparatus according to the present invention, incorporating lights.

DRAWINGS—REFERENCE NUMERALS

  • 10 complete device
  • 20 base
  • 30 non-magnetic track
  • 40 group of magnets
  • 45 magnet
  • 50 hex nut
  • 60T top flat washer
  • 60B bottom flat washer
  • 70 hex jam nut
  • 80 top cap
  • 90 bottom cap
  • 100 threaded portion of non-magnetic track
  • 110 through-hole
  • 120 top countersunk hole
  • 130 bottom countersunk hole
  • 140 tubular non-magnetic track member
  • 150 light member
  • 160 light circuitry
  • 170 power circuit
  • 180 track support beam

DETAILED DESCRIPTION—FIGS. 1, 2 AND 3—PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The present invention will now be described with reference to the included drawings. FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of a preferred embodiment of the complete device 10. It sits on base 20. Tracks 30 are fastened to base 20. The tracks 30 hold groups of magnets 40. Base 20 is made of 19 mm thick MDF board that is painted and has its corners rounded and sanded for safer use. Tracks 30 are made of 6 mm diameter aluminum rod and are bent into the desired shape with a pipe bender and jigged fixture. The magnets 45 are painted ceramic ring magnets with a 9.5 mm inner diameter, 29 mm outer diameter and 6 mm thickness. The magnets 45 are also sprayed with a protective clear coat to add shine and prevent the paint from chipping.

FIG. 2 is an exploded assembly detail of a portion of non-magnetic track 30. The group of magnets 40 is slid onto track 30 followed by top cap 80. Hex jam nut 70 is installed on the threaded portion of track 100. Top flat washer 60T is placed against jam nut 70 and this arrangement is inserted into through-hole 110 (FIG. 3).

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of a portion of a track illustrating flat washer 60T and jam nut 70 resting in top countersunk hole 120. Threaded portion of non-magnetic track 100 is installed in through-hole 110. Bottom flat washer 60B and hex nut 50 are installed on the lower threaded portion of non-magnetic track 100. Hex nut 50 is adequately torqued to secure track 30 to base 20. Bottom flat washer 60B and hex nut 50 rest in bottom countersunk hole 130. Top cap 80 is inserted into top countersunk hole 120 and bottom cap 90 is inserted into bottom countersunk hole 130. This process is repeated to secure all ends of tracks 30 to base 20. In the preferred embodiment of the invention the threaded portion of non-magnetic track 100 is threaded with a 6 mm thread.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION—FIGS. 4, 5 AND 6—ALTERNATE EMBODIMENTS

FIG. 4 shows a perspective view of a complete device 10 utilizing non-magnetic track 30 forming a continuous path. The group of magnets 40 is held on track 30 since it forms a continuous loop. The continuous loop can be temporarily opened to allow a magnet 45 to be added or removed, or the group of magnets 40 to be reconfigured by the user.

FIG. 5 shows a perspective view of a complete device 10 utilizing non-magnetic track 30 that is a self-supporting structure. Magnet 45 is installed on track 30. Group of magnets 40 is installed on track 30 before attaching track support beam 180. Group of magnets 40 is held on track 30 by track support beam 180. Track support beam 180 is attached to track 30 using commonly know welding methods.

FIG. 6 is a fragmentary schematic view of an alternate embodiment of an apparatus utilizing lights 150. A tubular non-magnetic member 140 is used to form non-magnetic track 30. Tubular non-magnetic member 140 is preferably a clear or translucent material that receives multiple light members 150 and appropriate control circuitry 160. Tubular non-magnetic member 140 is made of a rigid plastic or other non-magnetic material with adequate strength. Power circuitry 170 and control circuitry 160 illuminate light members 150 and create an additional feature of the game.

Operation of the Preferred Embodiment—FIG. 1

The invention can be utilized in many ways. The user pushes various groups of magnets 40 around the non-magnetic tracks 30. Magnetic forces of repulsion enable the user to push one magnet 45 or groups of magnets 40 in such a way that they repel another magnet 45 or groups of magnets 40. Children are fascinated by the way in which these magnets move without being touched. Similarly, some magnets 40 are arranged to be attracted to one another. These too can be pushed around in groups. Moreover, a user may pull apart magnets 40 that are arranged to be attracted to one another. The user can then either by hand or by the use of a repelling magnet 45, force them into such close proximity that the attractive magnetic force draws them together again. Users can also spin and bounce the magnets 40 on the track 30. Additionally, magnets 40 on one track 30 may interact with magnets 40 on a different track 30 as they pass close by one another.

Additional Embodiments

The specific description given above merely provides an illustration of the presently preferred embodiment of the invention. It should not be construed as limiting the scope of the invention. For example, the tracks can be made of other non-magnetic materials such as copper, silver or plastic and are therefore not solely restricted to aluminum. Moreover, each track's length and diameter may be larger or smaller and the tracks may be formed into various shapes. There are other means that could be used in the process of bending the tracks such as heating the material or using various systems of rollers. The tracks themselves could be made from a mold. The manner in which the tracks are fastened to the base may also be different. For example, adhesives could be used inside the base or clips could be used to retain the ends of the tracks. The preferred embodiment illustrates permanent fastening of the tracks to the base. In an alternative embodiment, a fastening method that allows the user to add, remove, or re-arrange the magnet configurations could be used. Moreover the device could be a continuous or non-continuous track that the user holds. If it were open at one or both ends it would be easy for the user to change the number of magnets on the track and their orientations. This would be an excellent teaching tool. The track could also be self supporting. The magnets themselves could have many different characteristics such as color, shape, magnetic strength, texture, and size. The number of magnets used on each of the tracks and the arrangement of their attractive and repulsive nature has endless combinations. Various materials could be used to make the apparatus. For example, the base may be made of plastic, various kinds of woods, or any other suitable material. The magnets themselves could be painted or plastic coated. The tracks could be polished, sealed or anodized to offer further protection. Thus the scope of the invention should be determined by the appended claims and their legal equivalents, rather than by the examples given.