Title:
Multifunction Controller For A Remote Controlled Toy
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention relates to a remote control assembly including a remote control unit and a toy vehicle. The remote control unit is a four function device that provides forward, reverse, forward-left, and forward-right inputs such that the selection of one input will cause the vehicle to move in a forward direction, the selection of a second input will cause the vehicle to move in reverse direction, the selection of a third input will cause the vehicle to move forward and left, and selection of the fourth input will cause the vehicle to move forward and right.



Inventors:
Vom Scheidt Jr., Peter Truman (Elma, NY, US)
Application Number:
14/495005
Publication Date:
04/02/2015
Filing Date:
09/24/2014
Assignee:
MATTEL, INC.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63H30/02; A63H17/26
View Patent Images:
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20040082259Progressive display cardApril, 2004Yum
20090253341HEATED DRAWING BOARDOctober, 2009Roi
20060116049Kit for simulating a visit by santa clausJune, 2006Reese
20080090490Memorabilia kit for an infantApril, 2008Barrows et al.



Primary Examiner:
COLLINS, DOLORES R
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Mattel, Inc. - Patent Group (El Segundo, CA, US)
Claims:
1. A remote control assembly, comprising: a toy vehicle including a body, at least one front wheel and at least one rear wheel rotatably coupled to the body, and a receiver; and a control unit including an input device configured to receive inputs from a user, and a transmitter for transmitting control signals corresponding to the received user input to the receiver, wherein a first single input received at the input device is configured to cause the toy vehicle to simultaneously move in both a forward and a first lateral direction and a second single input received at the input device is configured to cause the toy vehicle to move in a forward and a second lateral direction.

2. The remote control assembly of claim 1, wherein the input device is a four-function device that only includes four input controls comprising a forward button, a reverse button, a left button, and right button, and wherein depression of the left button causes both forward and left lateral movement of the toy vehicle and depression of the right button causes both forward and right lateral movement of the toy vehicle.

3. The remote control assembly of claim 2, wherein the transmitter comprises an integrated circuit (IC) having at least four IC inputs, wherein a first IC input corresponds to forward movement of the toy vehicle, a second IC input corresponds to reverse movement of the toy vehicle, a third IC input corresponds to left lateral movement of the toy vehicle, and a fourth IC input corresponds to right lateral movement of the toy vehicle.

4. The remote control assembly of claim 3, where the transmitter comprises: a first diode electrically coupling the fourth IC input to the first IC input; and a second diode electrically coupling the third IC input to the first IC input.

5. The remote control assembly of claim 4, wherein upon a user activating the right button, the fourth IC input is directly connected to ground and the first IC input is connected to ground through the first diode such that the transmitter substantially simultaneously sends both a right turn command and a forward command to the receiver located in the toy vehicle, thereby causing substantially simultaneous forward and right lateral movement of the toy vehicle.

6. The remote control assembly of claim 4, wherein upon a user activating the left button, the third IC input is directly connected to ground and the first IC input is connected to ground through the second diode such that the transmitter substantially simultaneously sends both a left turn command and a forward command to the receiver located in the toy vehicle, thereby causing substantially simultaneous forward and left lateral movement of the toy vehicle.

7. The remote control assembly of claim 3, wherein the transmitter further includes a switch matrix comprised of four input switches each connecting one of the buttons to one or more of the IC inputs.

8. The remote control assembly of claim 3, wherein the forward, reverse, left, and right buttons are connected directly to one of the inputs of the transmitter IC such that the receiver only receives one of a forward, reverse, right, or left command at any time in response to a user input, and wherein the receiver includes an IC having at least four IC outputs, wherein a first IC output corresponds to forward movement of the toy vehicle, a second IC output corresponds to reverse movement of the toy vehicle, a third IC output corresponds to left lateral movement of the toy vehicle, and a fourth IC output corresponds to right lateral movement of the toy vehicle.

9. The remote control assembly of claim 8, wherein the receiver further comprises: a third diode coupling the third IC output to a forward input of a forward/reverse H-bridge of the receiver; and a fourth diode coupling the fourth IC output to the forward input of the forward/reverse H-bridge.

10. The remote control assembly of claim 9, wherein upon receipt of a left turn command from the transmitter, the third IC output is switched to a high state causing the forward/reverse H-bridge to initiate forward movement of the toy vehicle and causing a left/right H-bridge of the receiver to initiate substantially simultaneous left lateral movement of the toy vehicle.

11. The remote control assembly of claim 9, wherein upon receipt of a right turn command from the transmitter, the fourth IC output is switched to a high state causing the forward/reverse H-bridge to initiate forward movement of the toy vehicle and causing a left/right H-bridge of the receiver to initiate substantially simultaneous right lateral movement of the toy vehicle.

12. The remote control assembly of claim 9, further comprising: a clamp transistor positioned on the forward side of the forward/reverse H-Bridge.

13. A system, comprising: a toy vehicle that includes a receiver; and a remote control unit for the toy vehicle, wherein the remote control comprises: a transmitter configured to wirelessly communicate with the receiver, a four function input device comprising a first, a second, a third, and a fourth input control, wherein activation of the second input control causes the toy vehicle to simultaneously move in both a forward and first lateral direction and wherein activation of the fourth input control causes the toy vehicle to simultaneously move in both a forward and a second lateral direction.

14. The system of claim 13, wherein the transmitter comprises an integrated circuit (IC) having at least four IC inputs, wherein a first IC input corresponds to forward movement of the toy vehicle, a second IC input corresponds to reverse movement of the toy vehicle, a third IC input corresponds to left lateral movement of the toy vehicle, and a fourth IC input corresponds to right lateral movement of the toy vehicle.

15. The system of claim 14, where the transmitter comprises: a first diode electrically coupling the fourth IC input to the first IC input; and a second diode electrically coupling the third IC input to the first IC input.

16. The system of claim 15, wherein upon activation of the fourth input control, the fourth IC input is directly connected to ground and the first IC input is connected to ground through the first diode such that the transmitter substantially simultaneously sends both a right turn command and a forward command to the receiver located in the toy vehicle, thereby causing substantially simultaneous forward and right lateral movement of the toy vehicle.

17. The system of claim 15, wherein upon activation of the second input, the third IC input is directly connected to ground and the first IC input is connected to ground through the second diode such that the transmitter substantially simultaneously sends both a left turn command and a forward command to the receiver located in the toy vehicle, thereby causing substantially simultaneous forward and left lateral movement of the toy vehicle.

18. The system of claim 14, wherein the transmitter further includes a switch matrix comprised of four input switches each connecting one of the input controls to one or more of the IC inputs.

19. The system of claim 14, wherein each of the input controls are connected directly to one of the inputs of the transmitter IC such that the receiver only receives one of a forward, reverse, right, or left command at any time in response to a user input, and wherein the receiver includes an IC having at least four IC outputs, wherein a first IC output corresponds to forward movement of the toy vehicle, a second IC output corresponds to reverse movement of the toy vehicle, a third IC output corresponds to left lateral movement of the toy vehicle, and a fourth IC output corresponds to right lateral movement of the toy vehicle.

20. The system of claim 19, wherein the receiver further comprises: a third diode coupling the third IC output to a forward input of a forward/reverse H-bridge of the receiver; and a fourth diode coupling the fourth IC output to the forward input of the forward/reverse H-bridge.

21. The remote control assembly of claim 20, wherein upon receipt of a left turn command from the transmitter, the third IC output is switched to a high state causing the forward/reverse H-bridge to initiate forward movement of the toy vehicle and causing a left/right H-bridge of the receiver to initiate substantially simultaneous left lateral movement of the toy vehicle.

22. The remote control assembly of claim 20, wherein upon receipt of a right turn command from the transmitter, the fourth IC output is switched to a high state causing the forward/reverse H-bridge to initiate forward movement of the toy vehicle and causing a left/right H-bridge of the receiver to initiate substantially simultaneous right lateral movement of the toy vehicle.

23. A method for controlling movement of a toy vehicle with a remote control unit that comprises a four function input device including a first, a second, a third, and a fourth input control, the method comprising: receiving a user input activating only a single one of the control inputs of the input device; based on the activation of the single control input, generating one or more control signals indicating a selected direction of movement for the toy vehicle; sending the one or more control signals from the remote control unit to the toy vehicle; and initiating movement of the toy vehicle in accordance with the one or more control signals such that the toy vehicle simultaneously moves in both a forward and a lateral direction.

24. The method of claim 23, wherein generating the one or more control signals indicating a selected direction of movement for the toy vehicle comprises: generating a first and a second control signal, wherein the first control signal indicates a forward movement of the toy vehicle and the second control signal indicates a selected lateral movement of the toy vehicle.

25. The method of claim 24, wherein the remote control unit comprises: a transmitter integrated circuit (IC) having at least four IC inputs, wherein a first IC input corresponds to forward movement of the toy vehicle, a second IC input corresponds to reverse movement of the toy vehicle, a third IC input corresponds to left lateral movement of the toy vehicle, and a fourth IC input corresponds to right lateral movement of the toy vehicle; a first diode electrically coupling the fourth IC input to the first IC input; and a second diode electrically coupling the third IC input to the first IC input.

26. The method of claim 23, wherein generating the one or more control signals indicating a selected direction of movement for the toy vehicle comprises: generating a single control signal comprising one of a forward, a reverse, a right, or a left command.

27. The method of claim 26, wherein the toy vehicle comprises: a receiver IC having at least four IC outputs, wherein a first IC output corresponds to forward movement of the toy vehicle, a second IC output corresponds to reverse movement of the toy vehicle, a third IC output corresponds to left lateral movement of the toy vehicle, and a fourth IC output corresponds to right lateral movement of the toy vehicle; a third diode coupling the third IC output to a forward input of a forward/reverse H-bridge of the receiver; and a fourth diode coupling the fourth IC output to the forward input of the forward/reverse H-bridge.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/885,086 entitled “MULTIFUNCTION CONTROLLER FOR A REMOTE CONTROLLED TOY,” filed Oct. 1, 2013, the content of which is hereby incorporated by reference herein.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a multifunction controller for a remote controlled toy.

BACKGROUND

Children are fascinated with the use of remote control toys/devices. Various types of systems exist in which toys (e.g., toy vehicles) are moved on a remotely controlled basis. Toy vehicles may include, for example, automobiles, trucks, tractors, construction vehicles, boats, airplanes, helicopters, etc. that move along a floor, a track, on water, or in the air. Most remote control devices, however, are geared toward older children that understand cause and effect and how it relates to the operation of the system.

It would be desirable to provide a system including a remotely controlled toy and a handheld controller that is easily utilized by a younger child.

SUMMARY

Embodiments of the present invention relate to a remote control assembly including a control unit and a toy vehicle. The control unit includes an input device configured to receive directional inputs from a user, and a signal transmitter (Tx) for transmitting control signals corresponding to the received directional/user input. The input device includes four input controls (e.g., buttons) that enable movement of the toy vehicle in a forward direction, a reverse direction, a forward-left direction, and a forward-right direction.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates a schematic diagram of a remote control assembly in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2A is a block diagram of a control unit of the remote control assembly in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2B is a block diagram of a toy vehicle of the remote control assembly in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3A illustrates a perspective view of a control unit in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3B illustrates a perspective view of a toy vehicle in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4A is a schematic circuit diagram of a transmitter in a control unit in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4B is a schematic circuit diagram of a receiver in a toy vehicle in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 5A is a schematic circuit diagram of a transmitter in a control unit in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 5B is a schematic circuit diagram of a receiver in a toy vehicle in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 6A is a schematic circuit diagram of a transmitter in a control unit in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 6B is a schematic circuit diagram of a receiver in a toy vehicle in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

Like reference numerals have been used to identify like elements throughout this disclosure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIG. 1 illustrates a remote control assembly in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. As shown, the remote control assembly 10 includes a remote control unit or controller 100 and a remote controlled toy 110. It is to be appreciated that the toy 110 may be one of a number of different toy devices (e.g., robots, vehicles, etc.). For ease of illustration, embodiments will be primarily described with reference to a remote controlled toy vehicle 110.

The control unit 100 and the toy vehicle 110 are configured to wirelessly communicate via a transmitter 102 in the control unit 100 and a receiver 104 in the toy vehicle. In one embodiment, the control unit 100 transmits wireless commands to the toy vehicle 110 to engage one or more features of the vehicle (discussed in greater detail below). In another embodiment, both the control unit 100 and the toy vehicle 110 are configured to transmit command signals to and receive command signals from each other. As such, although a transmitter 102 and receiver 104 are shown in FIG. 1, the transmitter 102 and receiver 104 may operate as transceivers (i.e., as both a transmitter and a receiver). However, for ease of illustration, embodiments will be primarily described herein with reference to the transmitter 102 wirelessly transmitting signals that are received by the receiver 104.

The control unit 100 is, in general, a four-function controller that is configured to receive one of four inputs from a user. More specifically, the control unit 100 is configured to receive a directional input from a user and to transmit control signals corresponding to the received directional/user input. FIG. 2A is a block diagram of the control unit 100 in accordance with embodiments presented herein. As shown, the control unit 100 includes the transmitter 102 in that can be any device capable of generating output signals for transmission to toy vehicle 110. The transmitter 102 may be, for example, configured to transmit infrared (IR) signals, radio frequency (RF) signals, electromagnetic signals, ultrasonic signals, Bluetooth® signals, etc. The transmitter 220 may send signals via an optional antenna 225.

The control unit 100 may further include a power source 230. By way of example, the power source 230 may include a battery pack formed of one or more batteries. It should be understood, however, that any AC or DC power sources may be utilized. The controller 100 also includes an input device 240 that receives an external signal or that can be manipulated to generate a signal to be sent to the transmitter 102. The input device 240 includes one or more input controls, such as depressible buttons. In operation, engaging an input control of the input device 240 causes the transmitter 102 to generate a command/control signal and send it via the antenna 225.

As described further below, the control unit 100 is a four function controller. That is, the input device 240 can only receive one or more of four available inputs (i.e., the input device 240 includes four input controls). There are many conventional simple and low-cost four function remote controlled vehicles currently available on the market. The four functions (inputs) available in these conventional devices are forward, reverse, steer left, and steer right.

As a result of the forward/reverse/left/right arrangement, conventional devices generally require a minimum of two inputs from the controller for the toy vehicle to initiate forward movement coupled with a turn function. For example, a user may have to push a forward button or lever while simultaneously pressing a second turn/steering button or lever (i.e., cause left/right steering with forward movement). However, it is very difficult for younger children to actuate two controls at the same time. In many cases, simply holding the controller requires young children to use two hands. As a result, when the difficulty of holding and activating the controller is combined with following and reacting to a moving vehicle, children often have little success operating the vehicle. Through child testing, it was found that if the forward and turn commands could be combined into a single button activation, the ease of operation can be greatly improved. Embodiments presented herein are generally directed to a solution that modifies commonly available, low cost radio (i.e., transmitter and/or receiver) integrated circuits (ICs) to implement two commands from a single button push by a user.

More specifically, the control unit 100 is a four function device that provides forward, reverse, forward-left, and forward-right inputs. In other words, in control unit 100 the selection of one input will cause the vehicle to move in a forward direction, the selection of a second input will cause the vehicle to move in reverse direction, the selection of a third input will cause the vehicle to move forward and left (forward-left), and selection of the fourth input will cause the vehicle to move forward and right (forward-right). As described further below, the dual functionality of the two inputs (i.e., forward-left and forward-right) is provided through specific hardware implementations in the transmitter 102 and/or receiver 104.

The toy vehicle 110 is configured to move along a surface (e.g., a floor, water) or move above a surface (e.g., fly) in accordance with command signals received from the control unit 100. FIG. 2B is a block diagram of the toy vehicle 110 in accordance with embodiments presented herein. As shown, the toy vehicle 110 includes the receiver 104 which may be a device that is operable to receive signals from the transmitter 102 (e.g., a device configured to receive IR signals, RF signals, electromagnetic signals, ultrasonic signals, Bluetooth® signals, etc.

The toy vehicle 110 may further include a power source 270 and a drive motor assembly 275. By way of example, the power source 270 may include a battery pack including one or more batteries. It should be understood, however, that other AC or DC power sources may be utilized. The drive motor assembly 275 includes one or more drive motors operable to drive the features of the toy vehicle and/or drive the movement of the vehicle. The drive motors may be any suitable motor for its described purpose. In one embodiment, the toy vehicle 110 includes two drive motors, one of which engages the forward wheels of the toy vehicle, and another that engages the rear wheels of the toy vehicle. In operation, the drive motor(s) move the toy vehicle in a direction or directions indicated by signals received at the receiver 104.

FIG. 3A illustrates a perspective view of one embodiment of the control unit, referred to as control unit 100a. FIG. 3B illustrates a perspective view of one embodiment of the toy vehicle 100, referred to as toy vehicle 110a. The control unit 100a comprises a housing 305 that includes the transmitter 102. As shown, a plurality of actuators (e.g., depressible buttons) is coupled to the housing 305 and form the input device 240. Specifically, the housing 305 includes a plurality of input controls or directional actuators 245a, 245b, 245c, and 245d. The directional actuators 245a, 245b, 245c, 245d are angularly spaced about housing 305 along an axis oriented generally perpendicularly to the axis of the antenna 225. The actuators 245a, 245b, 245c, and 245d are spaced apart about a central region.

In an embodiment, engaging the first actuator 245a generates a command signal to initiate forward motion in the toy vehicle, engaging the second actuator 245b generates a command signal to initiate forward and first lateral (e.g., forward-left) motion in the toy vehicle, engaging the third actuator 245c generates a command signal to initiate rearward motion in the vehicle, and engaging the fourth actuator 245d generates a command signal to initiate forward and second lateral (e.g., forward-right) motion in the toy vehicle. The command signals, generated by transmitter 102 (FIGS. 1 and 2A), are sent via the antenna 225, which extends outward from the housing 305. The control unit 100 may further include one or more light emitters such as a light emitting diode (LED) that selectively illuminate when a command is generated (i.e., when the control unit generates an instruction for the toy vehicle to move).

Referring to FIG. 3B, the toy vehicle 110a includes a body or chassis 310 having a front portion 315, a rear portion 320, a first lateral/side portion 325, and a second lateral/side portion 330. In addition, the toy vehicle 110a includes one or more wheels rotatably coupled to the body 310. In an embodiment, the toy vehicle 110a includes a pair of front wheels 335a (only one is shown) rotatably coupled to the front portion 315 of the body 310 and a pair of rear wheels 335b (only one is shown) rotatably coupled to the rear portion 320. While illustrated as a dump truck having a cab 340 and an articulating, open box bed 345 defined by a forward wall 350a, a first side wall 350b, a rearward wall 350c, and a second side wall 350d, the toy vehicle 110a may be stylized as any suitable toy vehicle, including, but not limited to trains, cars, trucks, airplanes, helicopters, boats, space ships, etc.

The body 310 of the toy vehicle 110a houses the drive motor assembly 275 and the receiver 104 that receives control signals from the control unit 100a (explained above). The toy vehicle 110a may further include one or more light emitters such as a light emitting diode (LED) that selectively illuminates when a command is received from the control unit (e.g., when the toy vehicle receives instructions to move).

With the above described configuration, the toy vehicle 110a is movable in a forward direction, a reverse direction, a forward-left direction, and a forward-right direction in response to a corresponding control signal received from the input device. Specifically, by selectively engaging the directional actuators 245a, 245b, 245c, 245d on the control unit 100a, a child can direct the motion of the toy vehicle 110a.

FIG. 4A is a schematic circuit diagram illustrating one implementation of transmitter 102, referred to as transmitter 402. FIG. 4B is a schematic circuit diagram illustrating one implementation of receiver 104, referred to as receiver 420, that is useable with transmitter 402 of FIG. 4A. For ease of illustration, the embodiments of FIGS. 4A and 4B are described with reference to control unit 100a shown in FIG. 3A and toy vehicle 110a shown in FIG. 3B.

In the embodiments of FIGS. 4A and 4B, the transmitter 402 includes a hardware configuration that combines the two button functionality of conventional arrangements (i.e., the requirement to simultaneously press two buttons) into a single button press without requiring any software logic. Transmitter 402 includes an integrated circuit (IC) 404 that has a plurality of IC inputs (pins) 406. A first input 403 (shown in FIG. 4A as IC input S1) corresponds to forward motion of the toy vehicle 110a, a second input 405 (shown in FIG. 4A as IC input S2) corresponds to reverse motion of the toy vehicle 110a, a third input 407 (shown in FIG. 4A as IC input S3) corresponds to left lateral motion of the toy vehicle 110a, and a fourth input 409 (shown in FIG. 4A as IC input S4) corresponds to right lateral motion of the associated toy vehicle 110a.

In accordance with embodiments of the present invention, a diode 408 (diode D1) is used to electrically couple the input S4 (corresponding to the right lateral motion) to the input S1 (corresponding to the forward motion). Additionally, a second diode 410 (diode D2) is used to electrically couple the input S3 (corresponding to the left lateral motion) to the input S1 (corresponding to the forward movement). As a result of the configuration shown in FIG. 4A, if the “Right Turn” button (e.g., button 245d in FIG. 3A) is pressed, input S4 is pulled low (connected to ground) and input S1 is also pulled low (through diode D1). This input combination causes the transmitter IC to send both the “Right Turn” and the “Forward” commands to the receiver 420 located in the toy vehicle 110a. If the “Left Turn” button (e.g., button 245b) is pressed, input S3 is pulled low (connected to ground) and input S1 is also pulled low (through diode D2). This input combination causes the transmitter IC to send both the “Left Turn” and the “Forward” commands to the receiver 420 located in the toy vehicle.

The receiver 420 has a configuration where, upon receiving and decoding the RF signals received from the transmitter 402, the receiver IC 421 will switch outputs F (Forward) 422, B (Reverse) 424, L (Left Turn) 426, and R (Right Turn) 428 between high and low based on the received commands. Outputs F and B are connected to an H-bridge 430 (common motor driving circuit allowing both forward and reverse motor operation) that provides power to the motor responsible for forward/reverse vehicle movement. Outputs L and R are connected to an H-bridge 432 that provides power to the motor responsible for turning the vehicle's front wheels left or right (steering motor). In the case of the example where both the “Forward” and “Left Turn” commands are received from transmitter 402, output F 422 is switched high (raised to the IC supply value), output B 424 is switched low (ground), output R 428 is switched low and output L 426 is switched high. This enables the forward/reverse motor to spin in the forward direction and the steering motor to turn the front wheels to the left. As such, the toy vehicle travels both forward and left in response to a single button press at the controller.

As noted above, in the embodiments of FIGS. 4A and 4B, coupling diodes are added in the transmitter 402. This may result in the need for a transmitter supply voltage that is greater than 2.1 volts (V), in the case where rectifier diodes are used. More specifically, there may be approximately 0.7 V drop across a rectifier diode and a typical IC input pin operates in response to a ⅔ transition of the input supply value (to ensure a solid read). Schottky diodes may be used in certain arrangements to lower the minimum required supply value.

FIG. 5A is a schematic circuit diagram illustrating another implementation of transmitter 102, referred to as transmitter 502. FIG. 5B is a schematic circuit diagram illustrating another implementation of receiver 104, referred to as receiver 504, that is useable with transmitter 502 of FIG. 5A. The receiver 504 includes a hardware configuration configured to combine the two button functionality of conventional arrangements (i.e., the requirement to simultaneously press two buttons) into a single button press without requiring any software logic. For ease of illustration, the embodiments of FIGS. 5A and 5B are described with reference to control unit 100a shown in FIG. 3A and toy vehicle 110a shown in FIG. 3B.

In the embodiments of FIGS. 5A and 5B, the coupling diodes have been added to the receiver 520. This removes any power supply restrictions on the transmitter. Additionally, the vehicle portion of a toy assembly typically includes more batteries (as a result of the two driving motors) than the transmitter so the additional voltage required by the coupling diodes is more easily handled in the vehicle circuitry.

In the embodiment shown in FIG. 5A, the four input buttons: forward button 245a, reverse button 245c, left-forward button 245b, and right-forward button 245d are each connected directly to one of the input pins (inputs) of a transmitter IC 504. More specifically, the forward button 245a is connected directly to input 503 (input S1), the reverse button 245c is connected directly to input 505 (input S2), the left-forward button 235b is connected directly to input 507 (input S3), and right-forward button 245d is connected directly to input 509 (input S4). Receiver 520, includes a receiver IC 521 having a plurality of outputs, including outputs 522 (forward output or output F), 524 (back output, or output B), 526 (left output or output L), and 528 (right output or output R). The output L (Left Turn) of the receiver IC 521 is diode coupled through a diode 538 (diode D4) to the forward input (generally at resistor R8) of the forward/reverse H-bridge 530. Output R (Right Turn) of the receiver IC 521 is also diode coupled through a diode 540 (diode D5) to the forward input of the forward/reverse H-bridge 530. The F (Forward) output of the receiver IC 521 may need to be diode isolated from the cathodes of diodes D4 and D5 depending on the output configuration of the receiver IC. This is accomplished by reconfiguring the use of diode 542 (diode D3) from that shown for diode D3 in receiver 420 of FIG. 4B. This diode configuration has the added benefit of utilizing one fewer diode than is utilized in the embodiments of FIGS. 4A and 4B.

In one example, when an indication that the “Left Turn” button (e.g., button 245b in FIG. 3A) has been pressed (i.e., a left turn command) is received by the receiver IC 521 in the vehicle, the output L will be switched high. This will cause the “steering” H-bridge 532 to turn the front wheels to the left and will also result in a high signal (via diode D4) to be sent to the Forward input of the forward/reverse H-bridge 530, thereby causing the vehicle to drive forward and turn left at the same time. When an indication “Right Turn” command is received by the receiver IC 521 in the vehicle, the output R will be switched high. This will cause the “steering” H-bridge 532 to turn the front wheels to the right and will also result in a high signal (via diode D5) to be sent to the forward input of the forward/reverse H-bridge 530, causing the vehicle to drive forward and turn right at the same time.

FIG. 6A is a schematic circuit diagram illustrating a still other implementation of transmitter 102, referred to as transmitter 602. FIG. 6B is a schematic circuit diagram illustrating a still other implementation of receiver 104, referred to as receiver 620, that is useable with transmitter 602 of FIG. 6A. In the example of FIG. 6B, the hardware configuration of the receiver 620 is the same as that shown in FIG. 5B (i.e., receiver 604 is the same as receiver 504). As such, receiver 620 is shown in FIG. 6B using the same reference numbers as used in FIG. 5B. However, the hardware configuration of transmitter 602 is different from that of transmitter 502 (FIG. 5A). For ease of illustration, the embodiments of FIGS. 6A and 6B are described with reference to control unit 100a shown in FIG. 3A and toy vehicle 110a shown in FIG. 3B.

The transmitter 602 includes a switch matrix 645 comprised of four input switches, namely: switch 650 (switch RT corresponding to “Right Turn”), switch 652 (switch LT corresponding to “Left Turn”), switch 654 (switch FW corresponding to “Forward”), and switch 656 (switch BW corresponding to “Reverse”). This configuration is useable when a matrix function known as a “six input function” is available. As a result of the configuration shown in FIG. 6A, if the “Forward” button (e.g., button 245a in FIG. 3A) and the “Reverse” button (e.g., button 245c in FIG. 3A) are pressed at the same time, the transmitter IC will only transmit the “Forward” command to the vehicle. Additionally, if the “Left Turn” button (e.g., button 245b in FIG. 3A) and the “Right” button (e.g., button 245d in FIG. 3A) are pressed at the same time, only the “Left Turn” command (to cause both forward and left lateral movement) will be sent. This eliminates all possibilities of conflicting commands.

The hardware configurations of receivers 520 and 620 have an added benefit that, through the use of clamp transistor 560 (transistor Q17 in the forward/reverse H-Bridge 530), a more “advanced” reverse function can be provided. The clamp transistor Q17 is placed in the design in the event that both the F (“Forward”) and B (“Reverse”) outputs are switched high at the same time. If this state occurs, transistor Q17 is switched on, and clamps the forward side of the H-Bridge off (typically this is placed on the reverse side of the H-bridge so a failure mode results in forward function). As described above, the “Left Turn” and “Right Turn” functions are connected to the “Forward” function. As a result, it may not be possible to back-up and turn. However, by placing the clamp transistor Q17 on the forward side of the forward/reverse H-Bridge 530, if a reverse command is received first (thereby clamping the forward input off) and either a “Left Turn” or “Right Turn” command is received second, (the reverse button is pressed and held and the turn button is pressed second) the steering motor will move in the correct direction and the vehicle will back up and turn. The clamped forward input prevents the forward function from conflicting with the reverse drive. Therefore, as a child grows and can start to use two buttons to control functions, the child can also steer the vehicle in reverse. When used with the transmitter 602, if both the “Forward” and “Reverse” buttons are pressed, the “Forward” button in the transmitter can be given the higher priority, thus causing the vehicle to go forward in the event of a conflict (the preferred default direction for children). Additionally, placing the clamp transistor Q17 on the forward side of the H-Bridge allows for the combinations of the reverse button and turn button to result in a back-up steering function that can be discovered when the child is capable/ready.

While the present invention has been described in detail and with reference to specific embodiments thereof, it will be apparent to one skilled in the art that various changes and modifications can be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope thereof. For example, a remote control assembly in accordance with embodiments presented herein may be utilized in combination with various vehicles or other playsets. Such playsets may include a track having any number of individual track sections that can be coupled together in various combinations to form a continuous path on which a toy vehicle can travel. The playset may further include several objects related to the environment of the playset. For example, the playset can include one or more warning light structure, a gate crossing, and a ramp, a bridge, vehicle elevators, a construction crane, office buildings, etc.

Although the disclosed inventions are illustrated and described herein as embodied in one or more specific examples, it is nevertheless not intended to be limited to the details shown, since various modifications and structural changes may be made therein without departing from the scope of the inventions and within the scope and range of equivalents of the claims. In addition, various features from one of the embodiments may be incorporated into another of the embodiments. Accordingly, it is appropriate that the appended claims be construed broadly and in a manner consistent with the scope of the disclosure as set forth in the following claims.

It is to be understood that terms such as “left,” “right,” “top,” “bottom,” “front,” “rear,” “side,” “height,” “length,” “width,” “upper,” “lower,” “interior,” “exterior,” “inner,” “outer” and the like as may be used herein, merely describe points or portions of reference and do not limit the present invention to any particular orientation or configuration. Further, terms such as “first,” “second,” “third,” etc., merely identify one of a number of portions, components and/or points of reference as disclosed herein, and do not limit the present invention to any particular configuration or orientation.