Title:
Wind-stabilized baseball cap
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A baseball cap including features for stabilizing the cap in a moving stream of air. The cap includes a modified bill having a downforce generator configured to create a relatively stagnate recirculation zone between the downforce generator and the head covering. This recirculation zone tends to negate the lifting effect found in prior art bills. The invention preferably also includes a vent through the bill. The vent is located behind the downforce generator, so as to connect the underside of the bill to the recirculation zone formed in the wake of the downforce generator. The vent is selectively closed by a flexible flap. The flap remains closed to prevent rain from passing through the vent. However, if pressure beneath the bill significantly exceeds pressure above the bill, the vent opens to equalize the pressure. This action prevents the creation of a net lifting force which might lift the cap off the wearer's head.



Inventors:
Greene Jr., Thomas H. (Madison County, FL, US)
Application Number:
12/154562
Publication Date:
11/26/2009
Filing Date:
05/23/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
2/175.5, 2/195.1, 2/195.5, 2/175.4
International Classes:
A42C5/04; A42B1/00; A42B1/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HADEN, SALLY CLINE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WILEY HORTON (TALLAHASSEE, FL, US)
Claims:
Having described my invention, I claim:

1. A baseball cap, comprising: a. a head covering, including a forward region; b. a bill extending outward from said forward region of said head covering, said bill having a leading edge distal to said head covering and a trailing edge proximal to said head covering; c. a downforce generator, extending upward from said bill, wherein said downforce generator extends only part of the way from said leading edge of said bill to said forward region of said head covering, thereby creating a gap between said downforce generator and said forward region of said head covering; and d. a vent, extending through said bill into said gap.

2. A baseball cap as recited in claim 1, further comprising a flexible flap covering said vent.

3. A baseball cap as recited in claim 2, wherein: a. said flexible flap has a leading edge and a trailing edge; b. said leading edge of said flexible flap is secured to said bill; and c. said trailing edge of said flexible flap is free.

4. A baseball cap as recited in claim 1, wherein: a. said downforce generator has a middle portion, a first side extreme, and a second side extreme; b. said downforce generator has a splitter located in said middle portion, with said splitter being configured to divide said air flow into a first portion directed toward said first side extreme and a second portion directed toward said second side extreme.

5. A baseball cap as recited in claim 2, wherein: a. said downforce generator has a middle portion, a first side extreme, and a second side extreme; and b. said downforce generator has a splitter located in said middle portion, with said splitter being configured to divide said air flow into a first portion directed toward said first side extreme and a second portion directed toward said second side extreme.

6. A baseball cap as recited in claim 3, wherein: a. said downforce generator has a middle portion, a first side extreme, and a second side extreme; b. said downforce generator has a splitter located in said middle portion, with said splitter being configured to divide said air flow into a first portion directed toward said first side extreme and a second portion directed toward said second side extreme.

7. A baseball cap as recited in claim 1, wherein said downforce generator is a thin structure attached along said leading edge of said bill, thereby forming a cavity between said downforce generator and said bill.

8. A baseball cap as recited in claim 2, wherein said downforce generator is a thin structure attached along said leading edge of said bill, thereby forming a cavity between said downforce generator and said bill.

9. A baseball cap as recited in claim 3, wherein said downforce generator is a thin structure attached along said leading edge of said bill, thereby forming a cavity between said downforce generator and said bill.

10. A baseball cap as recited in claim 4, wherein said downforce generator is a thin structure attached along said leading edge of said bill, thereby forming a cavity between said downforce generator and said bill.

11. A baseball cap as recited in claim 7, further comprising a drain passing through said downforce generator, thereby draining said cavity.

12. A baseball cap as recited in claim 7, further comprising a drain passing through said bill, thereby draining said cavity.

13. A baseball cap, comprising: a. a head covering, including a forward region; b. a bill extending outward from said forward region of said head covering, said bill having a leading edge distal to said head covering and a trailing edge proximal to said head covering; c. a downforce generator, assuming the form of an inclined wall sloping upward and rearward from said leading edge of said bill and being attached thereto; d. wherein said inclined wall extends only part of the way from said leading edge of said bill to said forward region of said head covering, thereby creating a gap between said downforce generator and said forward region of said head covering; and e. a vent, extending through said bill into said gap.

14. A baseball cap as recited in claim 13, further comprising a flexible flap covering said vent.

15. A baseball cap as recited in claim 14, wherein: a. said flexible flap has a leading edge and a trailing edge; b. said leading edge of said flexible flap is secured to said bill; and c. said trailing edge of said flexible flap is free.

16. A baseball cap as recited in claim 13, wherein: a. said downforce generator has a middle portion, a first side extreme, and a second side extreme; and b. said downforce generator has a splitter located in said middle portion, with said splitter being configured to divide said air flow into a first portion directed toward said first side extreme and a second portion directed toward said second side extreme.

17. A baseball cap as recited in claim 13, wherein said downforce generator is a thin structure attached along said leading edge of said bill, thereby forming a cavity between said downforce generator and said bill.

18. A baseball cap as recited in claim 14, wherein said downforce generator is a thin structure attached along said leading edge of said bill, thereby forming a cavity between said downforce generator and said bill.

19. A baseball cap as recited in claim 13, further comprising a drain passing through said downforce generator, thereby draining said cavity.

20. A baseball cap as recited in claim 13, further comprising a drain passing through said bill, thereby draining said cavity.

Description:

MICROFICHE APPENDIX

Not Applicable

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates to the field of headwear. More specifically, the invention comprises a baseball cap having a modified bill configured to produce downforce when the cap is placed in a moving airstream.

2. Description of the Related Art

The “baseball cap” is one of the world's best known hats. FIG. 1 shows a typical example. Baseball cap 10 is comprised of head covering 12 and bill 14. Head covering 12 is a generally circular assembly of flexible material sized to fit fairly closely over the human head. Bill 14 has leading edge 52 and trailing edge 54. The trailing edge is attached to the forward portion of the head covering. As the hat is normally worn, the bill extends forward from the wearer's face. The bill provides shade and weather protection for the user's face.

Those familiar with the art will know that such hats are made using a variety of technique. The example of FIG. 1 is constructed using a sewn assembly of wedge-shaped pieces. These are curved inward and join at the top, where a button is usually affixed. Such hats must typically include size-adjusting features. The rear of the hat may have a break spanned by an adjustable strap. The strap is used to adjust the circumference of the hat at its largest section. Alternatively, the head covering may include elastic material which eliminates the need for other adjustment features.

FIG. 2 shows an elevation view of a person actually wearing a prior art baseball cap. Such caps are often worn while traveling in an open vehicle—such as a fishing boat. Air flow directed toward the wearer's face has a tendency to lift the baseball cap off the wearer's head. As for most situations involving subsonic compressible flow, the phenomenon is explained by the application of Bernoulli's equation, which can be written as:

1/2v12+gh1+P1ρ1=1/2v22+gh2+P2ρ2

In this expression, v stands for the flow velocity at a given point, g stands for gravitational acceleration, h stands for the height above a reference plane, P stands for the pressure of the air at a given point, and ρ stands for the density of the air at a given point.

From this equation one may easily discern the fact that when a compressible fluid is flowing past an object at subsonic speeds, the faster the flow is in a particular region the lower the pressure will be in that region. When looking at FIG. 2, the reader will observe how the flow must split to flow over the top and bottom of bill 14. The flow over the top passes smoothly over the head covering and is not decelerated very much. This is denoted in the view as high velocity region 18.

The flow passing under the bill, however, impacts the wearer's face 16. This produces a recirculation area denoted as stagnation region 20. The flow in this area is relatively slow. Thus, from Bernoulli's equation, one may accurately predict that the air pressure in the area beneath the bill will be greater than the air pressure in the area above the bill. The result is the creation of lift 24, which tends to lift the cap free of the wearer's head.

Prior hat designers have accounted for this phenomenon by angling the bill downward as shown. The downward angle has the effect of an airfoil having a negative angle of attack. The flow over the top therefore creates downforce 22. If the magnitude of downforce 22 exceeds that of lift 24, then the hat will stay on. Of course, the motion of the wearer's head alters the bill's angle of attack. If the user inclines her head slightly, downforce 22 will be greatly reduced. This will likely be the instant when the moving airstream lifts the cap free of the wearer's head and carries it away.

The loss of such a cap is a significant inconvenience. This is particularly true in a boating situation, where the hat is likely to blow overboard and be lost. Prior art designers have attempted to remedy this known problem in a variety of ways. For example, some caps have incorporated a bill having a hinged vent flap. The vent flap pivots upward if the pressure difference between the region beneath the bill and above the bill becomes large enough. Other designs have incorporated one or more fixed vents through the bill. Still other designs have incorporated a bill with a severe downward angle, so that the bill's angle of attack remains negative throughout the range of motion of the user's head.

While these prior art designs have in part remedied the problem, no prior art design has produced a good solution while still maintaining the conventional benefits of the traditional baseball cap. The present invention seeks to remedy these shortcomings.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

The present invention is a baseball cap including features for stabilizing the cap in a moving stream of air. The cap includes a modified bill having a downforce generator configured to create a relatively stagnate recirculation zone between the downforce generator and the head covering. This recirculation zone tends to negate the lifting effect found in prior art bills.

The invention preferably also includes a vent through the bill. The vent is located behind the downforce generator, so as to connect the underside of the bill to the recirculation zone formed in the wake of the downforce generator. The vent is selectively closed by a flexible flap. The flap remains closed to prevent rain from passing through the vent. However, if pressure beneath the bill significantly exceeds pressure above the bill, the vent opens to equalize the pressure. This action prevents the creation of a net lifting force which might lift the cap off the wearer's head.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view, showing a prior art baseball cap.

FIG. 2 is a side elevation view, showing the flow of air over a prior art baseball cap.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view, showing the present invention.

FIG. 4 is an exploded perspective view, showing the various components of the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a detail view, showing the operation of the downforce generator and the vent.

FIG. 6 is a detail view, showing the operation of the downforce generator and the vent.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view, showing the present invention with the downforce generator removed.

FIG. 8 is a side elevation view, showing an alternate embodiment.

REFERENCE NUMERALS IN THE DRAWINGS

10baseball cap12head covering
14bill16face
18high velocity region20stagnation region
22downforce24lift
26stay-on cap28modified bill
30downforce generator32splitter
34vent36flap
38drain40upper pressure
42lower pressure44flap attachment
46free end48secondary downforce
50forward region52leading edge
54trailing edge56gap
58cavity60first lateral extreme
62second lateral extreme

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

FIG. 3 shows the present invention in an assembled state. Stay-on cap 26 has modified bill 28. Downforce generator 30 is preferably attached t modified bill 28. The reader will observe how the downforce generator preferably assumes a form reminiscent of a snow plow blade. Splitter 32 lies near the middle of the downforce generator. Air flow impacting the downforce generator strikes the splitter and is thereafter divided into a first portion directed toward a first lateral extreme 60 and a second portion directed toward a second lateral extreme 62.

FIG. 4 shows the same assembly in an exploded state. Modified bill 28 has vent 34 passing through it from top to bottom. This vent is preferably covered by flap 36. Downforce generator 30 then lies generally over the location of the flap.

FIG. 5 shows a section elevation view through modified bill 28 in the region of vent 34. The reader will observe that downforce generator 30 is a thin-walled structure rising upward and rearward from the leading edge of modified bill 28. Cavity 58 is formed by downforce generator 30 and modified bill 28. The reader will observe that the downforce generator extends only part of the way from the leading edge of modified bill 28 to forward region 50 of head covering 12. Thus, gap 56 is formed between the trailing edge of the downforce generator and forward region 50.

The presence of gap 56 creates a recirculation zone behind the trailing edge of the downforce generator. The airstream impacting the upwardly inclined forward surface of the downforce generator creates downforce 22 (through stagnation pressure of the air impacting the device). Downforce 22 obviously tends to hold the hat down on the user's head. The creation of the recirculation zone in gap 56 tends to create relatively high pressure in this region, which places secondary downforce 48 on the upper surface of flap 36.

Flap 36 is made of a flexible material. It is attached to the bill by flap attachment 44 (which can be a sewn joint, an adhesive joint, etc.). The effect of this construction is that the leading edge of flap 36 remains in a fixed position with respect to the bill, but free end 46 can lift upward, thereby opening vent 34 and allowing flow to occur from below the bill to above the bill.

In the configuration shown in FIG. 5, upper pressure 40 (the air pressure above the bill) exceeds lower pressure 42 (the air pressure below the bill). Thus, secondary downforce 48 exceeds lift 24 and flap 36 remains closed. This represents the normal configuration. In this configuration, the hat functions as a normal baseball cap in that it does not allow sun or rain to reach the wearer's face. Free end 46 is preferably designed to rest flat against forward region 50 or the bill itself, so that rain falling down the vertical portions of the cap will not leak through vent 34. FIG. 7 shows a view of flap 36 in the closed position (with the downforce generator removed for visual clarity).

In FIG. 6, the flow velocity or flow direction has changed so that the pressure below the vent exceeds the pressure above it. In that case flap 36 opens as shown. Air then flows from beneath the bill and into gap 56, where it then joins the stream passing over the top of the cap. This results in a significant reduction in lifting force. Meanwhile, the air flowing over the downforce generator continues to produce downforce 22. Those skilled in the art will therefore realize that by appropriately sizing and shaping the elements disclosed, it is possible for downforce 22 to exceed the lifting force in nearly all configurations. Thus, the cap has a much greater tendency to stay on the wearer's head.

The change in flow magnitude and direction shown in FIGS. 5 and 6 can be the result of various causes. Some examples are an increase in vehicle speed, a sudden wind gust, and the tilting of the wearer's head. All these things can cause a prior art hat to lift off the wearer's head.

Returning now to FIG. 5, some addition features of the invention will be discussed. The reader will observe that downforce generator 30 is preferably a thin walled structure. It is preferably attached near the bill's leading edge. This fact creates cavity 58 between the bill and the downforce generator. Depending on the configuration of the bill, this cavity may trap rainwater. Thus, in some embodiments a drain is desirable. Turning now to FIG. 3, the reader will note the inclusion of three drains 38 through the downforce generator. These allow rain flowing off the head covering and bill to escape cavity 58.

FIG. 8 shows an alternate location for the drain. In this embodiment, drain 38 passes through the bill. The drain can be placed in any convenient location, so long as it allows water collecting in cavity 58 to exit.

Although the preceding description contains significant detail, it should not be construed as limiting the scope of the invention but rather as providing illustrations of the preferred embodiments of the invention. As an example, although the invention has been illustrated with a thin walled downforce generator, a solid or thick-walled design made of lightweight foam material could be substituted. Many other variations will be apparent to those skilled in the art. Thus, the scope of the invention should be fixed by the following claims rather than any specific examples provided.