Title:
Multiple-inlet shuffling machine
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The multiple-inlet shuffling machine has a shuffler and at least two card inputs. The shuffler has a base, a shuffling wheel mounted rotatably on the base and has multiple card slots formed radially around which, and a controller having at least one random number generator (RNG) that generates at least one random number. The card inputs are mounted oppositely on the base of the shuffler adjacent to the shuffling wheel and are controlled by the at least one random number generator (RNG) of the controller to randomly place cards into a same wheel further raising a randomness of the cards. relative to a number of compartments to number of cards ratio. Furthermore, operations are made via gears, so the multiple-inlet shuffling machine has improved precision of movement.



Inventors:
Ho, Cai-shiang (Taipei, TW)
Application Number:
12/156802
Publication Date:
12/10/2009
Filing Date:
06/05/2008
Assignee:
Taiwan Fulgent Enterprise Co., Ltd.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F1/12
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LAYNO, BENJAMIN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Jackson Walker LLP (San Antonio, TX, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A multiple-inlet shuffling machine comprising a shuffler having a base having a drive gear; a rotary driver being mounted on the base and driving the drive gear; a controller comprising at least one random number generator (RNG) and being connected to and controlling the rotary driver; a shuffling wheel being mounted rotatably on the base, engaging the drive gear and being driven to rotate in a random direction by a random number of preset degrees and comprising multiple card slots; and a discharging device having a discharging rod comprising an arm selectively aligning with one of the card slots to push at least one card out of a corresponding card slot; and at least two card inputs being mounted on the base adjacent to the shuffling wheel, selectively aligning with one of the card slots and each card input comprising a conveyer having input rollers being connected to the at least one RNG of the controller and being controlled to selectively transfer a card into a corresponding card slot by predetermined selection rules to perform card inputting.

2. The multiple-inlet shuffling machine as claimed in claim 1, wherein the discharging device further has a discharging rod being mounted pivotally on the base, being mounted adjacent to the shuffling wheel and having an elongated slot being formed longitudinally through the discharging rod; and a rod driver having a rotating disk; and a pin being eccentrically mounted securely on the rotating disk and mounted slidably in the elongated slot of the discharging rod, wherein the arm protrudes transversely from the discharging rod and selectively aligns with one of the card slots.

3. The multiple-inlet shuffling machine as claimed in claim 1 further comprises at least two wedges being movably arranged respectively in the card inputs ensuring cards are sequentially drawn.

4. The multiple-inlet shuffling machine as claimed in claim 1 further comprises two insertion panels, each insertion panel being securely mounted on the base between one of the card inputs and the shuffling wheel and having at least one tangent surface being formed on the insertion panel adjacent to the shuffling wheel; and a bottom portion.

5. The multiple-inlet shuffling machine as claimed in claim 1, wherein one of the input rollers of the conveyer of each card input is connected to and rotated by a second driving device via gears of a second separator.

6. The multiple-inlet shuffling machine as claimed in claim 1, wherein the shuffling wheel further has multiple resilient elements and multiple retainers being mounted respectively in the card slots, each retainer is pushed by a corresponding resilient element to abut an inner surface of the card slot.

7. A multiple-inlet shuffling machine comprising a shuffler having a base comprising a drive gear being mounted rotatably on the base; a rotary driver driving the drive gear; and a controller being mounted securely on the base, controlling the rotary driver to drive the drive gear to rotate in a random direction by a random number of preset degrees; and a shuffling wheel being mounted rotatably on the base, engaging and being driven by the rotary driver and having multiple teeth being formed around the shuffling wheel and engaging the drive gear of the rotary driver of the base; multiple card slots being formed radially around the shuffling wheel, and each card slot selectively storing at least one card; two card inputs being mounted on the base of the shuffler adjacent to the shuffling wheel, each card input having a slope being defined slantwise in the card input for placing a deck of cards thereon and having an upper end; and a lower end selectively aligning with one slot of the shuffling wheel; two side walls being oppositely formed beside the slope; a drawing roller being mounted rotatably between the side walls of the card input and being connected to and being rotated by a first driving device via gears of a first separator; and a conveyer having at least two conveying assemblies being mounted in the card input adjacent to each other along the slope, each conveying assembly comprising two input rollers being mounted rotatably between the side walls of the card input and an input gap being formed between the input rollers.

8. The multiple-inlet shuffling machine as claimed in claim 7, wherein the shuffler further has a discharging device having a discharging rod being mounted pivotally on the base, being mounted adjacent to the shuffling wheel and having an elongated slot being formed longitudinally through the discharging rod; and an arm protruding transversely from the discharging rod and selectively aligning with one of the card slots; and a rod driver having a rotating disk; and a pin being eccentrically mounted securely on the rotating disk and mounted slidably in the elongated slot of the discharging rod.

9. The multiple-inlet shuffling machine as claimed in claim 7 further comprises at least two wedges being movably arranged respectively in the slopes of the card inputs and selectively move toward the lower ends of the slopes.

10. The multiple-inlet shuffling machine as claimed in claim 7 further comprises two insertion panels, each insertion panel being securely mounted on the base between the card input and the shuffling wheel and having at least one tangent surface being formed on the insertion panel adjacent to the shuffling wheel; and a bottom portion of the insertion panel being disposed in a passage between the input gap of each conveying assembly of the conveyer of each card input and a corresponding one of the card slots of the shuffling wheel.

11. The multiple-inlet shuffling machine as claimed in claim 7, wherein one of the input rollers of each conveying assembly of the conveyer of each card input is connected to and rotated by a second driving device via gears of a second separator.

12. The multiple-inlet shuffling machine as claimed in claim 7, wherein the shuffling wheel further has multiple resilient elements and multiple retainers corresponding to and being mounted in the card slots, each retainer being pushed by a corresponding resilient element to abut an inner surface of the card slot.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to card shufflers, and more particularly to a multiple-inlet shuffling machine that effectively improves rate of card inputting, provides improved precision of movement and improves card randomization.

2. Description of Related Art

A card shuffler comprises a drivable shuffling storage means and an input apparatus. The shuffling storage means has multiple compartments to receive and hold cards and is associated with the input apparatus for inserting cards into the compartments. A drive device is connected to and drives the shuffling storage means that is controlled by an electronic control system to input and randomize cards and ensure cards discharged from the shuffling wheel are randomized and shuffled.

However, the card shuffler inputs cards via a single input apparatus, so card inlet rate is limited. Furthermore, the input apparatus is driven by pulleys and toothed belts that may form gaps or elastic deformation when implemented, thus causing movement of the card shuffler to be less precise causing jams and mis-shuffles.

Moreover, shuffling machines, even when using a random number to redistribute the cards have only a limited redistribution rate since each compartment, once occupied may only receive a card above that card, thus creating a false shuffle. Conventionally this may be solved by increasing a number of compartments, ideally implementing a compartment for each card being shuffled, this is however highly costly when using four or more decks and would use much room.

The present invention therefore provides a multiple-inlet shuffling machine to obviate or mitigate the aforementioned problems.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The main objective of the present invention is to provide a multiple-inlet shuffling machine that effectively improves rate of card inputting, provides improved precision of movement and improves card randomization.

To achieve the objective, the multiple-inlet shuffling machine comprises a shuffler and at least two card inputs.

The shuffler has a base, a controller, a shuffling wheel and a discharging rod. The base is set stably on a planar surface and has a rotary driver attached thereon. The rotary driver is controlled by the controller and drives the shuffling wheel to rotate in a random direction by a random number of preset degrees. The controller comprises at least one random number generator (RNG) generating at least one random number. The shuffling wheel is mounted rotatably on the base and has multiple card slots formed radially around which, each of the card slots stores at least one card being conveyed by the card input. The discharging rod is mounted pivotally on the base and is driven by a rod driver to pivot and has an arm protruding transversely from the discharging rod and selectively corresponding to one card slot of the shuffling wheel to discharge cards stored in the corresponding slot.

The card inputs are mounted oppositely on the base of the shuffler adjacent to the shuffling wheel, each card input has a slope and a conveyer. The slope is defined slantwise in the card input for placing a deck of cards thereon and has an upper end and a lower end. The lower end of the slope selectively aligns with one slot of the shuffling wheel. The conveyer has multiple input rollers arranged adjacent to each other along the slope of the card input. Furthermore, each card input may have a wedge movably arranged in the slope, selectively moving toward the lower end of the slope to press the cards and ensure the cards are drawn sequentially and conveyed by the input rollers of the conveyer to be inserted in the card slots of the shuffling wheel.

Since card inputting is simultaneously performed by multiple card inputs, the rate of card inputting is effectively improved. Since operation of the card inputs and the shuffling wheel are made via gears the multiple-inlet shuffling machine has improved precision of movement. Furthermore, having at least two card inputs controlled by the at least one random number generator (RNG) of the controller to randomly place cards into a same wheel further raises a randomness of the cards relative to a number of compartments to number of cards ratio.

Other objectives, advantages and novel features of the invention will become more apparent from the following detailed description when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a multiple-inlet shuffling machine in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a partially exploded perspective view of the multiple-inlet shuffling machine in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a cross sectional side view of the multiple-inlet shuffling machine in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a side view in partial section of the multiple-inlet shuffling machine in FIG. 1; and

FIG. 5 is an operational side view of the multiple-inlet shuffling machine in FIG. 1 showing cards being inputted.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

With reference to FIGS. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, a multiple-inlet shuffling machine in accordance with the present invention comprises a shuffler, at least two card inputs (20), at least two optional wedges (40) and two optional insertion panels (30).

The shuffler has a base (11), a controller (13), a shuffling wheel (10) and a discharging device (14).

The base (11) can be placed on a planar surface and comprises a drive gear (150) and a rotary driver (15). The drive gear (150) is mounted rotatably on the base (11). The rotary driver (15) drives the drive gear (150) of the base (11).

The controller (13) comprises at least one random number generator (RNG), is mounted securely on the base (11), is connected to and controls the rotary driver (15) to drive the drive gear (150) to rotate in a random direction by a random number of preset degrees as generated by the at least one RNG. The at least one RNG generates at least one random number.

The shuffling wheel (10) is mounted rotatably on the base (11), engages and is driven by the rotary driver (15) and has multiple teeth, multiple card slots (12), multiple resilient elements (121) and multiple retainers (120). The teeth are formed around the shuffling wheel (10) and engage the drive gear (150) of the rotary driver (15) of the base (11). Rotation of the shuffling wheel (10) is controlled by the rotary driver (15) to rotate the shuffling wheel (10) in a random direction by a random number of preset degrees. The card slots (12) are formed radially around the shuffling wheel (10), and each card slot (12) selectively stores at least one card. The retainers (120) and the resilient elements (121) correspond to and are mounted in the card slots (12), each retainer (120) is pushed by a corresponding resilient element (121) to abut an inner surface of the corresponding card slot (12) to stably hold the at least one card stored in the card slot (12).

The discharging device (14) has a discharging rod (140) and a rod driver (141).

The discharging rod (140) is mounted pivotally on the base (11), is mounted adjacent to the shuffling wheel (10) and has an elongated slot and an arm (142). The elongated slot is formed longitudinally through the discharging rod (140). The arm (142) protrudes transversely from the discharging rod (140) and selectively aligns with a corresponding card slot (12) to push at least one card out of the corresponding card slot (12).

The rod driver (141) has a rotating disk and a pin. The pin is eccentrically mounted securely on the rotating disk and mounted slidably in the elongated slot of the discharging rod (140).

When the shuffling wheel (10) is stopped, the rotating disk of the rod driver (141) is rotated, the pin reciprocatorily slides along the elongated slot of the discharging rod (140) to make the discharging rod (140) pivot. The arm (142) aligns with the corresponding card slot (12) of the shuffling wheel (10) and discharges the at least one card stored in the corresponding card slot (12). Since the shuffling wheel (10) is held in one of many pre-determined angles, the cards discharged from the shuffling wheel (10) will be in a random sequence, therefore completing shuffling of the cards.

The card inputs (20) are mounted on the base (11) of the shuffler adjacent to the shuffling wheel (10), selectively aligning with a corresponding card slot, may be disposed adjacent to each other to ensure cards are placed in a same orientation, or may be disposed oppositely meaning cards must be alternatively placed in different orientations, namely face up and face down, each card input (20) has a slope (21), two side walls (22), a drawing roller (23) and a conveyer.

The slope (21) is defined slantwise in the card input (20) for placing a deck of cards thereon and has an upper end and a lower end. The lower end of the slope (21) selectively aligns with one slot of the shuffling wheel (10).

The side walls (22) are oppositely formed beside the slope (21).

The drawing roller (23) is mounted rotatably between the side walls (22) of the card input (20) and is connected to and is rotated by a first driving device (231) via gears of a first separator (230). Such that the drawing roller (23) is driven by the first driving device (231) and draws the cards of the deck of cards on the slope (21) one by one into the conveyer.

The conveyer has at least two conveying assemblies (24). The conveying assemblies (24) are mounted in the card input (20) adjacent to each other along the slope (21). Each conveying assembly (24) comprises two input rollers (240)(241) that are mounted rotatably between the side walls (22) of the card input (20) and an input gap is formed between the input rollers (240)(241) allowing a card to pass therethrough. The input roller (241) may be connected to and rotated by a second driving device (243) via gears of a second separator (242) and may be connected to the controller (13) and be operated by the at least one RNG to selectively move, thereby selectively transferring the cards one by one into the corresponding card slot (12) of the shuffling wheel (10) to perform card inputting.

The card inputting is further randomized by the at least one RNG. The input rollers (240)(241) of the at least two card inputs (20) may be randomly selected by the at least one RNG to input cards according to predetermined selection rules. Therefore, the at least one random number generated by the at least one RNG may selectively controls at least one of the at least two input rollers (241) to input the card or may selectively control all of the at least two input rollers (241) to input cards simultaneously. The at least two input rollers (241) may further be selectively controlled to operate by different RNG to increase randomness of the card inputting. The selection rules may be the at least two input rollers (241) respectively correspond to a position in the random number and if this number is even the corresponding input roller (241) is controlled to input; should two adjacent numbers match, all of the at least two input rollers (241) are controlled to input. The wedges (40) are movably arranged respectively in the slopes (21) of the card inputs (20), selectively move toward the lower ends of the slopes (21) to press the cards and ensure the cards be sequentially drawn and conveyed by the drawing roller (23) and the conveyer to insert the cards into the card slots (12) of the shuffling wheel (10).

Each insertion panel (30) is securely mounted on the base (11) between the card input (20) and the shuffling wheel (10), may be curved and has at least one tangent surface and a bottom portion (31). Each tangent surface is formed on the insertion panel (30), adjacent to the shuffling wheel (10). The bottom portion (31) of the insertion panel (30) is disposed in a passage between the input gap of the conveying assembly (24) and the corresponding card slot (12) of the shuffling wheel (10).

When each card of the deck is pressed into one card slot (12) of the shuffling wheel (10) that in turn is driven to rotate, the bottom portion (31) and the tangent surface of the insertion panel (30) ensures the card is completely inserted into the card slot (12) when the shuffling wheel (10) rotates for inputting of a next card.

Accordingly, since the card inputting is selectively performed by multiple card inputs (20), a rate of card inputting is effectively improved. Furthermore, the operation of the card inputs (20) and the shuffling wheel (10) are made via gears, so the multiple-inlet shuffling machine has improved precision of movement. Moreover, the card inputting is also randomized, therefore, randomization of the cards is improved to ensure well shuffled cards.

Even though numerous characteristics and advantages of the present invention have been set forth in the foregoing description together with details of the structure and function of the invention, the disclosure is illustrative only. Changes may be made in detail especially in matters of shape, size, and arrangement of parts within the principles of the invention to the full extent indicated by the broad general meaning of the terms in which the appended claims are expressed.