US20150084282A1 - Systems and methods for pneumatically actuated displays for colored powder - Google Patents

Systems and methods for pneumatically actuated displays for colored powder Download PDF

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Publication number
US20150084282A1
US20150084282A1 US14/497,049 US201414497049A US2015084282A1 US 20150084282 A1 US20150084282 A1 US 20150084282A1 US 201414497049 A US201414497049 A US 201414497049A US 2015084282 A1 US2015084282 A1 US 2015084282A1
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United States
Prior art keywords
hopper
indicator system
display indicator
downpipe
air inlet
Prior art date
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Abandoned
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US14/497,049
Inventor
Andrew Tonn
Nick Schafer
Tyler Gilbert
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TONN ANDREW
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Hogsback Designs Inc
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Publication date
Priority to US201361882199P priority Critical
Application filed by Hogsback Designs Inc filed Critical Hogsback Designs Inc
Priority to US14/497,049 priority patent/US20150084282A1/en
Assigned to HOGSBACK DESIGNS, INC. reassignment HOGSBACK DESIGNS, INC. ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: SCHAFER, NICK, GILBERT, TYLER, TONN, ANDREW
Publication of US20150084282A1 publication Critical patent/US20150084282A1/en
Assigned to TONN, ANDREW reassignment TONN, ANDREW ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: HOGSBACK DESIGNS, INC.
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F41WEAPONS
    • F41JTARGETS; TARGET RANGES; BULLET CATCHERS
    • F41J5/00Target indicating systems; Target-hit or score detecting systems
    • F41J5/18Targets having hit-indicating means actuated or moved mechanically when the target has been hit, e.g. discs or flags
    • F41J5/22Targets having hit-indicating means actuated or moved mechanically when the target has been hit, e.g. discs or flags the indicating means being a dispensing device
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F41WEAPONS
    • F41BWEAPONS FOR PROJECTING MISSILES WITHOUT USE OF EXPLOSIVE OR COMBUSTIBLE PROPELLANT CHARGE; WEAPONS NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • F41B11/00Compressed-gas guns, e.g. air guns; Steam guns
    • F41B11/60Compressed-gas guns, e.g. air guns; Steam guns characterised by the supply of compressed gas
    • F41B11/62Compressed-gas guns, e.g. air guns; Steam guns characterised by the supply of compressed gas with pressure supplied by a gas cartridge
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F41WEAPONS
    • F41BWEAPONS FOR PROJECTING MISSILES WITHOUT USE OF EXPLOSIVE OR COMBUSTIBLE PROPELLANT CHARGE; WEAPONS NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • F41B11/00Compressed-gas guns, e.g. air guns; Steam guns
    • F41B11/80Compressed-gas guns, e.g. air guns; Steam guns specially adapted for particular purposes
    • F41B11/81Compressed-gas guns, e.g. air guns; Steam guns specially adapted for particular purposes for ejecting powder, e.g. pepper
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F41WEAPONS
    • F41HARMOUR; ARMOURED TURRETS; ARMOURED OR ARMED VEHICLES; MEANS OF ATTACK OR DEFENCE, e.g. CAMOUFLAGE, IN GENERAL
    • F41H9/00Equipment for attack or defence by spreading flame, gas or smoke or leurres; Chemical warfare equipment
    • F41H9/06Apparatus for generating artificial fog or smoke screens
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F41WEAPONS
    • F41JTARGETS; TARGET RANGES; BULLET CATCHERS
    • F41J5/00Target indicating systems; Target-hit or score detecting systems
    • F41J5/24Targets producing a particular effect when hit, e.g. detonation of pyrotechnic charge, bell ring, photograph

Abstract

The present disclosure is directed to systems and methods for pneumatically actuated displays for colored powder. In one illustrative embodiment, an indicator unit includes a hopper into which a dispersible indication powder can be loaded. An air inlet at the bottom of the hopper aligns with a hollow downpipe extending upwards to the top of the hopper. Upon receiving a signal, a burst of air is sent through the air inlet, lifting a portion of the indication powder through the downpipe and into the air above the indicator unit. For use as part of a reactive target system, one or more sensors that can be attached to the back of a target are in communication with the indicator unit and can generate a signal upon sensing a desired condition.

Description

    CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application claims priority to and incorporates by reference all of the subject matter included in Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/882,199, which was filed Sep. 26, 2013.
  • TECHNICAL FIELD
  • The present disclosure relates to pneumatically actuated displays for colored powder, including reactive targeting systems and associated methods.
  • BACKGROUND
  • For practicing marksmanship, whether with a bow and arrow, air gun, or firearm, there are primarily two types of targets available for use. Traditional targets, which may be made of paper or plastic and/or steel “gong” targets. These types of traditional targets may be useful for evaluating marksmanship, but often require approaching within a few feet of the target to determine accuracy, which can slow down an event from repeated breaks, or potentially expose a shooter to a dangerous environment.
  • Reactive targets have become increasingly popular and provide users an instantaneous reaction to a bulls-eye or direct hit. A typical explosive reactive target consists of a vessel containing a substance that explodes when hit by a bullet and is thus only capable of a single use. A typical mechanical reactive target is knocked down or swung sideways, or has an indicator that lights up to indicate a hit.
  • A reactive target system that provides an exciting indication of a hit and can be reused would be an improvement in the art. Similarly, such a system that could differentiate between different types of hits and provide differing feedback would be further improvement in the art. Similarly, a pneumatic display for colored powder that may be used to provide a pyrotechnic type of effect would be a further improvement in the art.
  • SUMMARY
  • The present disclosure is directed to systems and methods for pneumatically actuated displays for colored powder. In one illustrative embodiment, an indicator unit includes a hopper into which a dispersible indication powder can be loaded. An air inlet at the bottom of the hopper aligns with a hollow downpipe extending upwards to the top of the hopper, which may have an enlarged lower end. Upon receiving a signal, a burst of air is sent through the air inlet, lifting a portion of the indication powder through the downpipe and into the air above the indicator unit. For use as part of a reactive target system, one or more sensors that can be attached to the back of a target are in communication with the indicator unit and can generate a signal upon sensing a desired condition.
  • DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • It will be appreciated by those of ordinary skill in the art that the various drawings are for illustrative purposes only. The nature of the present disclosure, as well as other embodiments, may be more clearly understood by reference to the following detailed description, to the appended claims, and to the several drawings.
  • FIGS. 1A and 1B are top and bottom perspective views of an indicator unit in accordance with a first embodiment of the teachings of this disclosure.
  • FIG. 2 is an exploded view of the components of the embodiment of FIGS. 1A and 1B.
  • FIG. 3 is a partial cutaway view of a portion of the embodiment of FIGS. 1A through 2.
  • FIG. 3A is a sectional side view of another embodiment of an indicator unit in accordance with the teachings of this disclosure.
  • FIG. 4 is a perspective side view of a third embodiment of an indicator unit in accordance with the teachings of this disclosure.
  • FIG. 5 is a partial cutaway view of a portion of the embodiment of FIG. 4.
  • FIGS. 6A, 6B, 6C and 6D are a top side view, a left side view, a sectional side view (along line A-A of FIG. 6B), and a right side view of the embodiments of FIGS. 4 and 5.
  • FIG. 7 is a bottom perspective view of an embodiment of a sensor unit in accordance with the principles of the present disclosure.
  • FIG. 8 is an exploded view of the embodiment of FIG. 8.
  • FIGS. 9A, 9B, 10, and 11 are graphic illustrations of some functionality of the embodiments of FIGS. 1 though 8.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • The present disclosure relates to apparatus, systems and methods related to pneumatic displays and reactive target systems. It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the embodiments herein described, while illustrative, are not intended to so limit the scope of the appended claims. Those skilled in the art will also understand that various combinations or modifications of the embodiments presented herein can be made without departing from the scope of this disclosure. All such alternate embodiments are within the scope of the appended claims.
  • Referring to the drawing figures, FIGS. 1A, 1B, and 2 depict an indicator assembly 10A, useful in a system in accordance with the present disclosure. A surrounding frame 100 is used to support and retain the remaining components of the assembly 10A. As depicted, frame 100 may be formed from one or more pieces, such as right and left stands 100A and 100B, which fit together to form the complete frame 100.
  • The frame may include front legs 102 and rear legs 104 to support assembly 10A for use. It may also include structures for supporting the additional components. For example, hopper support 120 may be formed as a double layered shelf with a hole in the upper layer for insertion of hopper 200 therein, and the upper surface may include recesses 122 for receiving upper supporting tabs 221 disposed around the rim of the hopper 200.
  • A handle 110 may be disposed at the upper surface of frame 100. The handle may be used for a carrying and positioning the assembly 10A. A railing 112 may be formed on the handle 110 for receiving an additional accessory. In the depicted embodiment, the railing is a picatinny rail system, such as a 1913 Picatinny rail system. This allows for the mounting of accessories. For example, a UV or an infrared light assembly. Where an indicator powder with florescent properties is used, the light may be reflected by the powder or cause the powder to fluoresce.
  • The frame 100 may also include a hood 108 which shelters the attachment for the tank 220 and can provide a panel for control buttons. In the depicted embodiment, the control buttons, include a power switch 304, such as a rocker switch, a pairing button 306, and may include other buttons and displays, as for example LED 308, which can indicate power state, usage, or programming status (e.g., blinking to indicate pairing status). A control board 300, such as a PCB circuit board contains the necessary circuitry for operation of the unit 100 and in communicative contact with the control buttons. A rechargeable battery 302 may be used to provide power to the unit and can be removably replaced into an appropriate slot on the hood 108. It will be appreciated that the unit may be powered by any suitable power source and a replaceable/rechargeable battery is only depicted as an illustrative source.
  • The hopper 200 may be held in the frame 100 and may have downward sloping sidewalls (along all or a portion of the circumference thereof) leading to a rounded bottom. In the depicted embodiment, the hopper 220 may have a generally conical shape to facilitate the downward movement of the indication powder placed therein. At its upper end, the hopper 200 is closed. In the depicted embodiment, this is accomplished by the hopper lid 204 which attaches to the hopper 200 and may attach to the frame 100 for increased stability of the unit 10A. An opening or port is disposed in the lid 204, through which the indication powder may be loaded into the hopper 200. A cap 208 may be used to seal the port.
  • A door 210, which may function as an outward opening flap or trapdoor is also disposed on lid 204 and acts to close an indication opening. The door 210 may be hingedly attached at one end, as by hinge pin 206. A down pipe 202 is disposed in the hopper 200 and extends from the indication opening at lid 204 to a distal end near the bottom of the hopper 200. The space between the down pipe 202 distal end and the bottom of the hopper 200 allows indication powder to enter under the downpipe 202. A fitting 232 is disposed through the bottom of the hopper 200, underneath the downpipe 202 such that the bores of the fitting 232 and the down pipe 202 may be generally aligned.
  • A tank 220 for storing a pressurized gas, such as air or nitrogen, may be attached to the unit 10A, by attachment to valve fitting or adaptor 222, which is in turn attached to a pressure regulator 224. A pressure line 226, such as an air hose may extend from the regulator to a gas solenoid 230 (which may require use of a fitting 228). The gas solenoid 230 may be attached to fitting 232 for release of pressurized gas into the hopper 200 and may be a 12 volt standard air solenoid. It will be appreciated that an air compressor may be included to keep the tank at a desired charge.
  • Referring to FIG. 3A, a second embodiment of an indicator assembly 10B, useful in a system in accordance with the present disclosure. The like components of the assembly 10B to assembly 10A of FIGS. 1-3 are indicated with corresponding reference numbers. A surrounding frame 100A is used to support and retain the remaining components of the assembly 10B and may include front legs 102A and rear legs 104A to support assembly 10B for use. It may also include structures for supporting the additional components.
  • A handle 110A may be disposed at the upper surface of frame 100A. The frame 100A may also include a hood 108A which shelters the attachment for the tank 220A and can provide a panel for control buttons. A rechargeable battery 302A may be used to provide power to the unit and can be removably replaced into an appropriate slot on the hood 108A. It will be appreciated that the unit may be powered by any suitable power source and a replaceable/rechargeable battery is only depicted as an illustrative source.
  • The hopper 200A may be held in the frame 100A and may have downward sloping sidewalls (along all or a portion of the circumference thereof) leading to a rounded bottom. In the depicted embodiment, the hopper 220A may have a generally straight wall 221A adjacent the front of the assembly and a back wall 223 with a sloped shape (which may include portions having different slopes) to facilitate the downward movement of the indication powder placed therein. At its upper end, the hopper 200A is closed. In the depicted embodiment, this is accomplished by the hopper lid 204A. An opening or port is disposed in the lid 204A, through which the indication powder may be loaded into the hopper 200A. A cap 208A may be used to seal the port.
  • A down pipe 202A is disposed in the hopper 200A and extends from an upper opening above lid 204A to a distal end. At the distal end, an enlarged bell 203 which may be formed as a funnel is disposed. At the upper end, a small portion 105 of the downpipe 202A extends above the lid 204A. A positionable nozzle 107 may be disposed thereon for directing the flow of ejected powder. As depicted, the nozzle 107 may reside in a channel and be rotatable around the upper end of the down pipe. The nozzle 107 may also include a narrowed opening for concentrating a stream of ejected powder.
  • The bell 203 is positioned above the bottom of the hopper 200. The space between the bell 203 and the bottom of the hopper 200 allows indication powder to enter under the bell 203. A fitting 232 is disposed through the bottom of the hopper 200, underneath the bell 203 such that the bores of the fitting 232 and the down pipe may be generally aligned. The distance between the bell and 203 and the bottom of the hopper 200, together with the volume of the bell allows for mixing of gas, such as air, with the powder upon activation as the powder is directed into the downpipe 202A. In practice, this has been found to reduce the tendency of a portion of the powder lifted by a burst of air to fall back down towards the bottom of the hopper from the pipe 202A, or in the air over the indicator 10B. Thus, the use of the bell may reduce “dribbling” resulting in a more visually pleasing display.
  • The distance between the rear wall 223 of the hopper and the bell 203 may allow for a feed of powder in the hopper to the space between the bottom of the hopper and the bell 203. In practice, the sloped wall containing different sloped portions as depicted can allow for a long-running display where gas is allowed to enter through fitting 232 in an ongoing stream and powder flows into the space creating an ongoing display as the powder is ejected through the down pipe 202A.
  • The distance between the bell 203 and hopper 200 may be adjustable where the system 10A will be used in different conditions. This can account for humidity difference that may affect the weight of a given volume of powder. For most uses, a standard preset distance may be sufficient. For example, where the hopper has a diameter 215 near the bottom of about 4 inches, the bell could be positioned from about 3 to about 4 inches, or at about 3.3 to 3.5 inches above the bottom. Similarly, the distance 205 between the bell and the back wall 223 may be from about 0.5 to about 1.0 inches or from about 0.7 to about 0.8 inches to allow for powder to properly flow below the bell 203. It will be appreciated these distances are only exemplary and the relationship may need to vary as the size of a system may vary.
  • System 10B may further include a tank 220A for storing a pressurized gas, such as air or nitrogen, may be attached to the unit 10, by attachment to valve fitting 222A, which may include a pressure regulator. A pressure line 226A, such as an air hose may extend from the valve fitting/regulator to a gas solenoid 230A. The gas solenoid 230A may be attached to fitting 232 (as through fitting 228) for release of pressurized gas into the hopper 200A.
  • In some illustrative embodiments, the hopper 200 or 200A may hold approximately six lbs. of indication powder, in other embodiments, the hopper may hold more powder, such as ten or twenty pounds. The indication powder may be a mixture of cornstarch and brightly colored dyes, similar to that used in Hare Krishna color festivals (Holi Color powder). It will be appreciated that flour, talcum powder or other suitable powders may be used. One advantage of an edible powder is that due to the biodegradable nature of the material, no cleanup following usage may be required. The indication powder may be loaded into the hopper via the opening under the fill cap 208 or 208A.
  • Compressed gas, such as air or nitrogen, is used as the propellant to expel the indication powder upwards through downpipe 202A and vertically into the air. Compressed gas in storage tank 220 (such as a paintball tank), is attached to the intake valve 222 and flows therethrough to regulator 224 (or the combined fitting 222A). In some illustrative embodiments, the pressure in the tank may be up to about 4500 PSI and delivered from tank by its built-in regulator at about 800 PSI. This is then reduced to from about 200 PSI to about 150 PSI by the regulator 224 or 222A. The gas then flows through the pressure line 226 or 226A to the solenoid 230 or 230A. When the solenoid receives a signal from the board it releases a burst of gas into the hopper through the fitting 232 or 232A, by allowing a brief burst of gas to pass therethrough. In one illustrative embodiment, the burst may be for a time period of about 75 milliseconds. The indication powder between the fitting 232 and downpipe 202 (which may be ¾ inch in diameter) is lifted through the downpipe 202 bore, past lid 204 and into the air above the unit. This produces a colorful display that may be up to 20 to 25 feet high. Where the assembly 10A or 10B is placed behind a berm, only the indication may be visible. The sudden appearance of the indication may produce an effect similar to an explosive reactive target.
  • In a second illustrative embodiment, the burst may be for a time period of about 80 milliseconds. The indication powder between the fitting 232 and bell 203 mixes in the bell 203 then is lifted through the downpipe 202A bore, past lid 204A and through nozzle 107 and into the air above the unit. This produces a colorful display that may extend up to 20 to 25 feet away in a desired position.
  • In a third illustrative embodiment, the burst may be a continuous stream of gas passing through the fitting 232. The indication powder between the fitting 232 and bell 203 mixes in the bell 203 then is lifted through the downpipe 202A bore, past lid 204A and through nozzle 107 and into the air above the unit. As the powder is removed, additional powder flows between the wall of the hopper 200A and the bell 203 into the space between the fitting 232 and the bell 203 where it mixes and is lifted through the downpipe bore 202A. This produces an ongoing colorful display that may extend up to 20 to 25 feet away in a desired position.
  • Referring to the FIGS. 4 through 6D, another embodiment of an indicator assembly 100, useful in a system in accordance with the present disclosure is depicted. A surrounding frame 1000 is used to support and retain the remaining components of the assembly 10C. In the depicted embodiment, the frame 1000 may be formed as a closed box that supports and retains the remaining components for use. It may also include structures for supporting the additional components. For example, internal braces may be used as a hopper support 2003, a tank frame 2005 and an accumulator support 2001. Each of these may attach to the bottom or side of the frame 1000 and receive or support the respective component.
  • Where frame 1000 is formed as a closed box, it may be constructed similar to a “flight case” for storage of theatrical or musical equipment to facilitate transport, storage and use. One or more handles 1010 may be disposed on the frame 1000 for carrying and positioning the assembly 10C. Similarly, one or more wheels 1001 may be attached to the frame 1000 to facilitate transport, as with known “flight cases” or luggage and multiple legs 1002 may be present for support. A control panel 7000 may also be accessible on the frame 1000, and may have a protective removable or hinged cover 1007. Control panel 7000 will be discussed in more detail below.
  • The hopper 2000 may be held in the frame 1000 and may have downward sloping sidewalls (along all or a portion of the circumference thereof) towards the bottom. In the depicted embodiment, the hopper 2000 may have a generally conical shape to facilitate the downward movement of the indication powder placed therein. At the lower end the hopper 2000 may include a chamber 2007 which may be formed as a vertical tube.
  • At its upper end, the hopper 2000 is closed. In the depicted embodiment, this is accomplished by a lid 1003 which may be a planar member that serves as the upper surface of assembly 10C by enclosing the top of the “box” of the frame 1000. The lid 1003 may be removable for maintenance. An opening or port is disposed in the lid 1003, through which indication powder may be loaded into the hopper 2000. A cap 2008 may be used to seal the port.
  • A down pipe 2012 is disposed in the hopper 2000 and extends from an upper opening above lid 1003 to a distal end. At the distal end, an enlarged bell 2013 which may be formed as a funnel may be disposed. At the upper end, a small portion 2015 of the downpipe 2012 extends above the lid 1003. A positionable nozzle 2017 may be disposed thereon for directing the flow of ejected powder. As depicted, the nozzle 2017 may reside in a channel and be rotatable around the upper end of the down pipe 2012. The nozzle 2017 may also include a narrowed opening for concentrating a stream of ejected powder.
  • Where present, the bell 2013 positioned above the bottom of the hopper 2000, with the bore of the downpipe 2012 generally aligned with the bore of the chamber 2003. The bell 2013 may include a number of vent holes 2019 through the sidewalls therein. The number and size of the vent holes 2019 may be varied to achieve desired performance as the gas, indication powder, and pressures used may vary with different embodiments. The bore of the downpipe 2012 is typically larger that the bore of the chamber 2003 to facilitate operation.
  • The space between the bottom of the downpipe 2012 (which may be the bell 2013) and the sidewalls of the hopper 2000 allows indication powder to enter under the downpipe and into the chamber 2003. At the bottom of hopper 2000, a fitting 2032 is disposed through the bottom of the chamber 2003, such that the bores of the fitting 2032, the chamber 2003, and the down pipe 2012 may be generally aligned. The distance between the bell 2013 and the chamber 2003, together with the volume of the bell allows for mixing of gas, such as air, with the powder upon activation as the powder is directed into the downpipe 2012. In practice, this has been found to reduce the tendency of a portion of the powder lifted by a burst of air to fall back down towards the bottom of the hopper from the pipe 2012 or in the air over the indicator 10C. Thus, the use of the bell may reduce “dribbling” resulting in a more visually pleasing display.
  • Additionally, the vent holes 2015 have been found to facilitate movement of the indication powder in the hopper into the chamber 2003 by dispersing and aerating the powder around the bell 2013 during operation.
  • Similarly, the use of a tubular chamber 2003 has been found to achieve an increased height in the burst of the powder displayed by the assembly 10C by preloading a fixed amount of powder in a bore aligned with the downtube 2012 bore and the fitting 2032 bore, allowing the majority of the force from a gas burst to propel the powder upwards and out the downtube 2012, rather than around the hopper 2000.
  • In various embodiments, the size of the bell 2013 may vary in correlation with the size of the chamber 2003 and the hopper 2000. This is to keep a gap of proer size between the bell 2013 and the hopper in order to achieve proper loading of the chamber 2003 with indication powder. This allows the chamber 2003 to be smoothly loaded by gravity and for the bore of the downtube and bell not to be overwhelmed by the amount of powder therein. Where the indication powder is cornstarch, the adhesive properties of the cornstarch may require a gap of from about ¾ inch to about ½ inch in order to provide proper flow on a hopper having a capacity of about 15-20 lbs. of powder.
  • A tank 2200 for storing a pressurized gas, such as air or nitrogen, may be attached to the unit 10C. The tank 2200 may reside in a tank compartment 1030, which may be closable with a door forming a surface of the frame 1000. The tank compartment 1030 may include a support 2005 for the tank 2200. In some embodiments, the tank may be a SCBA tank with a fitting 2201 reducing the opening to allow attachment to a standard paintball valve to act as a tank valve 2202.
  • The tank valve 2202 may be connected to an intake valve 2222, which may be a pressure regulating valve, which is in turn attached to a pressure regulator 2226 by a first pressure line 2224. The pressure regulator 2226 may be adjustable as by a knob 2227 to allow for fine tuning of the air pressure. In some embodiments, the pressure regulator 2226 may only be accessible through an opening or port in the tank compartment 1030 to discourage adjustment by casual users rather than technicians.
  • A second pressure line 2228, such as an air hose may extend from the regulator 2226 to an accumulator 2230, via a fitting 2229. The accumulator 2230 may be formed as an enlarged tube for accumulating a mass of gas at a desired pressure for use. For example, where pressurized air may flow from the tank 2200 through the intake valve 2222 at a pressure of about 300 PSI, the pressure regulator 2226 may reduce the pressure going into the second pressure line 2228 and the accumulator to from about 120 to about 150 PSI, as may be adjusted for use. The accumulator 2230 allows for the accumulation of a volume of the reduced pressure gas.
  • In the depicted embodiment, the accumulator 2230 may have a bore of about 3 inches and a length of about 14 to about 15 inches, although it will be appreciated that other dimensions may be used. A rigid U-shaped pipe 2232 may connect the accumulator to a gas solenoid 2240. The gas solenoid 2240 may be attached to fitting 2032 for release of pressurized gas into the hopper 2000 and may be a 12 volt standard air solenoid. It will be appreciated that an air compressor may be included to keep the tank at a desired charge.
  • A control panel 7000 may also be accessible on the frame disposed on one surface of the “box” 1000. In the depicted embodiment, control panel 7000 may be the control buttons, include a number of switches, buttons, sliders for various functions and displays, as for example LED display 7004, which can indicate power state, usage, or programming status, or control status. Additionally, one more ports 7006 or 7008 may be included for allowing connection via cables. In the depicted embodiment, ports 7006 may be DMX ports and port 7008 may be a power port to allow for recharging of an internal battery, or may be a serial, USB or other port. A control board, such as a PCB circuit board contains the necessary circuitry for operation of the unit 10C and is in communicative contact with the control buttons, LED display 7004, and the ports 7006 and 7008. A rechargeable battery may be used to provide power to the unit and can be removably replaced into an appropriate receptacle on panel 7000 rear surface. It will be appreciated that the unit may be powered by any suitable power source and a replaceable/rechargeable battery is only depicted as an illustrative source.
  • In some illustrative embodiments, the hopper 2000 may hold approximately six lbs of indication powder, as discussed previously herein, which may be loaded into the hopper 2000 via the opening under the fill cap 2008. In other embodiments with a larger hopper ten, fifteen, or twenty pounds of indication powder may be contained therein.
  • Compressed gas, such as air or nitrogen, is used as the propellant to expel the indication powder upwards through downpipe 2012 and vertically into the air. Compressed gas in storage tank 2200, attached to the intake valve 2222 and flows through to regulator 2226 and therethrough to the accumulator 2230. The gas then flows through the U-shaped pipe 2232 to the solenoid 2240. When the solenoid receives a signal from the control board 7003 it releases a burst of gas into the hopper 2000 through the fitting 2032, by allowing a brief burst of gas to pass therethrough. In one illustrative embodiment, the burst may be for a time period of from about 30 to about 75 milliseconds, often from about 35 to about 55 milliseconds. The indication powder between the fitting 2032 and downpipe 2012, especially that contained in chamber 2007, may be lifted through the downpipe 2007 bore, past lid 1003 and into the air above the unit. Where the chamber 2007 holds about 7 ounces of powder, the produced display may be up to 20 to 25 feet high or taller. Gas passing through vent holes 2019 may aerate powder in the hopper 2000 and facilitate refilling of the chamber 2007, allowing a subsequent activation in as little as about 300 milliseconds. This can allow for repeated activations to be timed to music or for control.
  • Where the indication powder is cornstarch or colored cornstarch, it has been found that due to the cohesive properties of the cornstarch, that upon actuation, the powder in tubular chamber 2003 may initially behave similar to a solid mass, shearing from the remaining powder in the hopper 2000 and moving upwards as a column or block when gas passing through fitting 2032 forces it upwards. The resulting empty space is then filled by powder that falls downwards, encouraged by the slope of the hopper 2000 sidewall and any movement caused by aeration through vent holes 2015. Similarly, in embodiments more similar to those depicted in FIGS. 1A through 3A, the powder between the downpipe 202 and bottom of the hopper 200 above the fitting 232 may react in the same manner. This allows for continued movement of the powder into the position for actuation without the need for an active mechanical loading mechanism, such as an auger.
  • Where DMX ports 7006 are present, the control board may allow the unit 10C to communicate with DMX compliant controllers, such as those employing the DMX 512 standard, or other known standards. For such units the LED readout may be used to assign an address to the unit for the controller and the unit 10C may be “daisy-chained” to other units 10C or to other DMX compliant equipment.
  • It will be appreciated that other embodiments of systems in accordance with the present disclosure may include multiple hoppers, with associated downpipes and fittings in a single case and controlled by a single control panel. Such embodiments could include separate pressurized gas systems that use individual sources of a pressurized gas, or could use a single system with multiple outputs to fittings from a single source, such as a pressurized tank. This could allow a single system to provide multiple colors or effects. For example, where the individual hoppers are loaded with different colored powders, individual activation of each hopper could allow for different color displays by the single system. Where the different hoppers are actuated simultaneously, a multiple color effect could be had. If the downpipes are directed to a common pathway, such as by using a manifold or suitable nozzles, the colors could appear to be blended to an observer, allowing for additional colors to be created by the mixing of individual indication powders.
  • Turning to FIGS. 7 and 8, one illustrative embodiment of a sensor assembly 40 for use in a system with an indicator assembly in accordance with the principles of this disclosure is depicted. A housing 400 may be generally formed as a box or other enclosure body with a housing lid 402 and a removable battery door 404. A battery housing 410 may be provided, or the housing may directly hold batteries or another power source may be used. A circuit board 412, such as a PCB with desired components may be placed in the housing 400. A hook and loop fabric system, such as Velcro® patches, maybe used for fastening the sensor assembly 40 to a target. For example, a piece of “hook” fabric 450 may be adhered to the rear of the assembly 40, and multiple pieces 452 of “loop” fabric may be provided for adhering to the rear surface of targets.
  • The circuit board 412, in one illustrative embodiment may include a microcontroller, accelerometer, a transceiver (such as a radio transceiver or a Bluetooth transceiver), as well as a user interface button and an LED. By default, the sensor assembly 40 may stay in a low power mode until a user presses the user interface button. When the button is pressed, the microcontroller uses the radio to attempt to establish a radio link to an indicator assembly 10 (which may be 10A, 10B, 10C discussed herein or another indicator assembly in accordance with the present disclosure). Once linked, the sensor assembly 40 responds to indicator assembly 10 requests for total hit count. A hit may be detected by processing accelerometer data.
  • In certain embodiments, the sensor assembly 40 may be configured to act as a remote control, such that holding the user interface button for a predetermined time may cause the indicator assembly 10 to actuate remotely.
  • When the sensor assembly 40 is active, the microcontroller may continually read accelerometer data. It may first compute an exponential moving average (EMA) on the raw data and then calculate the derivative and absolute value of the averaged data. When the absolute value exceeds a set threshold, a hit is detected. Another hit is not detected until the data stream has settled below a threshold.
  • The counterpart control board 300 in an indicator assembly 10 may include a microcontroller, solenoid driver, a radio transceiver and/or a Bluetooth receiver, as well as a user interface button and an LED. At startup, the indicator assembly 10 searches for devices (sensors assemblies 40 or other indicators) using the radio. A user may be able to set up the indicator assembly as a slave or master using the user interface button 306. Once the radio link is established with any available devices, the master may send hit count requests to any sensor assemblies 40 in the network. When the hit count of a sensor assembly 40 increments, the indicator assembly 10 activates the solenoid 230 such that the solenoid activation count matches the sensor hit count. A master indicator assembly 10 can also signal slave indicator assemblies 10 to activate their respective solenoids 230 either in place of or in addition to activating the master solenoid 230.
  • As graphically indicated in FIG. 9A, a number of sensor assemblies 40, such as three, can be paired to a single indicator assembly 10. This may allow a single indicator assembly to provide a hit indication on multiple targets. Similarly, in FIG. 9B, a single sensor assembly 40 may be paired with a number of indicator assemblies 10. This can allow a single target to generate different indications. For example, different numbers of hits may generate indications from different indicator assemblies, thus varying the color or intensity of the indication (as where two indicator assemblies 10 are actuated simultaneously). Where the sensor assembly is able to read accelerometer data to determine a relative distance of the hit on the target with respect to the sensor 40, different indications may be made for different hits.
  • As graphically depicted in FIG. 10, multiple sensor assemblies 40A and 40B may be used on a single target to more accurately sense the position of a hit on that target. This allows for different indications to be provided based on the position of a hit. Where a single indicator assembly 10 is used, this may be different number of indications per hit. Where multiple indicator assemblies 10A and 10B are used, it may include different indications from different assemblies 10.
  • FIG. 11 graphically depicts one method of controlling a system in accordance with this disclosure using a Smartphone SP. An application on the Smartphone SP is used to communicate with sensor assemblies 40 and/or indicator assemblies 10 through the Bluetooth radio connection. The Smartphone app allows for programming different indications based on different hits, for example, indications after a certain number of hits, or different indications based on different hit locations. It also allows for direct actuation, such as a single actuation or a series of bursts. It can also allow for preprogrammed indications or timed ones. It will be appreciated that the indicator assemblies 10 may also be used without the sensor assemblies. For example, to provide a display at a color run or in a color festival. For such use, the DMX communication capability discussed in connection with control panel 7000 may be the preferred method of control.
  • While this disclosure has been described using certain embodiments, it will be appreciated that the teachings herein may be further modified within the spirit and scope of this disclosure. This application is therefore intended to cover any variations, uses, or adaptations of this disclosure which use its general principles. Further, this application is intended to cover such departures from the present disclosure as come within known or customary practices in the art to which this disclosure pertains and which fall within the limits of the appended claims.

Claims (21)

What is claimed is:
1. A pneumatic display indicator system, comprising
a hopper into which a dispersible indication powder can be loaded;
a hollow downpipe disposed in the hopper, extending upwards past the top of the hopper;
an air inlet at the bottom of the hopper aligned with a hollow downpipe;
a source of compressed gas in communication with the air inlet, such that upon actuation a burst of compressed gas is sent through the air inlet, lifting a portion of the dispersible indication powder through the downpipe and above the indicator assembly.
2. The pneumatic display indicator system of claim 1, further comprising an enlarged bell disposed on a lower end of the hollow downpipe.
3. The pneumatic display indicator system of claim 2, wherein the enlarged bell disposed on a lower end of the hollow downpipe features at least one venthole passing through the sidewall thereof.
4. The pneumatic display indicator system of claim 1, wherein the hopper comprises at least one inwardly sloping sidewall.
5. The pneumatic display indicator system of claim 1, wherein the hopper comprises a tubular chamber at the bottom thereof aligned with a bore of the chamber aligned with a bore of the hollow downpipe.
6. The pneumatic display indicator system of claim 5, wherein the air inlet at the bottom of the hopper is disposed at the bottom the tubular chamber.
7. The pneumatic display indicator system of claim 1, further comprising a positionable nozzle disposed on an upper end of the hollow downpipe.
8. The pneumatic display indicator system of claim 1, wherein the source of compressed gas in communication with the air inlet comprises an air solenoid attached to the air inlet, the air solenoid in communication with a source of pressurized gas and opening upon actuation to allow a burst of gas to pass through the air inlet.
9. The pneumatic display indicator system of claim 8, wherein the air solenoid attached to a tube of pressurized gas that is connected to a source of higher pressure gas via a pressure reducing regulator.
10. The pneumatic display indicator system of claim 9, wherein the tube of pressurized gas comprises a rigid enlarged accumulator portion.
11. The pneumatic display indicator system of claim 9, wherein the source of higher pressure gas comprises a pressurized tank of gas.
12. The pneumatic display indicator system of claim 9, wherein the pressure reducing regulator allows the pressure to be adjusted.
13. The pneumatic display indicator system of claim 1, further comprising a control system for actuating the assembly indicator, the control system comprising a circuit for actuating the burst of compressed gas through the air inlet and an input in communication with the circuit for actuating the circuit.
14. The pneumatic display indicator system of claim 13, wherein the input for actuating the circuit comprises at least one sensor in communicative contact with the display indicator assembly, such that when the at least one sensor detects a desired condition, it sends a signal to actuate the indicator assembly.
15. The pneumatic display indicator system of claim 14, wherein at least one sensor includes an accelerometer.
16. The pneumatic display indicator system of claim 15, wherein at least one sensor computes an exponential moving average on the data collected by the accelerometer and then calculates a derivative and an absolute value of the averaged data, triggering a display with the absolute value exceeds a set threshold.
17. The pneumatic display indicator system of claim 13, wherein the input for actuating the circuit is in communicative contact with the circuit using a wireless communication protocol.
18. A pneumatic display indicator system, comprising
a hopper having at least one inwardly sloped sidewall and closed by an upper lid;
a downpipe disposed in the hopper, extending upwards past the lid;
an air inlet at the bottom of the hopper aligned with a bore of the downpipe;
a source of compressed gas in communication with the air inlet, such that upon actuation, a burst of compressed gas is sent through the air inlet and into the bore of the downpipe.
19. The pneumatic display indicator system of claim 18, wherein the hopper comprises a tubular chamber at the bottom thereof, the bore of the tubular chamber aligned with the bore of the downpipe and the air inlet at the bottom of the hopper disposed at the bottom the tubular chamber.
20. The pneumatic display indicator system of claim 18, further comprising an enlarged bell disposed on a lower end of the hollow downpipe.
21. The pneumatic display indicator system of claim 18, wherein the source of compressed gas in communication with the air inlet comprises an air solenoid attached to the air inlet, the air solenoid in communication with a source of pressurized gas and opening upon actuation to allow a burst of gas to pass through the air inlet.
US14/497,049 2013-09-25 2014-09-25 Systems and methods for pneumatically actuated displays for colored powder Abandoned US20150084282A1 (en)

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