US 3593594 A
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United States Patent Field of Search Inventor George 1. Perry Sudbury, Mass.
Oct. 4, I968 July 20, I97I Technical Operations Incorporated Burlington, Mass.
Appl. No Filed Patented Assignee APPARATUS FOR MANIPULATING RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL TO AND FROM A STORAGE UNIT 8 Claims, 7 Drawing Figs.
1111.0 0.2111 mm F16b/7/04., F160 1/10 ,ZIO
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,711,870 5/1929 Zerk 285/315 X 1,815,660 7/1931 Walker... 285/315 2,468,849 5/1949 Trainor 285/314 3,096,999 7/1963 Ahlstone et a]. 285/315 X 3,147,383 9/1964 Prest 250/108 3,393,927 7/1968 Kelly et a1 285/396 X Primary Examiner-Manuel A. Antonakas Attorneys-Alfred H. Rosen and John H. Coult ABSTRACT: Apparatus for manipulating radioactive materials to and from a storage unit and more particularly, novel features in a coupling unit for coupling propulsion means for the source to the source and its storage unit. Structures are shown for rendering the coupler fail-safe to prevent coupling of the propulsion means with the storage unit unless a propelling cable and the source are properly connected; other structures are shown for preventing decoupling except when the source is in its storage unit and for facilitating connection of the propelling cable with the source.
SHLET 1 BF 4 F GEORGEJ PERRY INVENTOR ALFRED/i ROSEN 0nd 3 JOH/VHCOULT ATTORNEYS PATENTED JULZO ran sum 2 OF 4' GEORGE J PE RR) INVENTOR 4L FRED HdIROSEN un JOHNH COULT ATTORNEYS FIG. 4
PATENTEDJUL20I97I 3593594 SHEET 3 OF 4 GEORGE J PERRY INVENTOR ALFRED/1'. ROSE/V and JOHN H COUL T ATTORNEYS APPARATUS FOR MANIPULATING RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL TO AND FROM A STORAGE UNIT BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION Present practices in radiography employ a storage body made of radiation-shielding material, such as lead, having a bore therein in which a radioactive source, usually a capsule of radioactive material, may be stored. Means are provided for moving the capsule between storage and a location in a radiographic exposure device or snout. Typically, such means take the form of a flexible conduit coupled to the bore of the storage body, an elongated flexible element such as wire rope or cable coupled to the capsule, and means such as a reel for moving the cable so as to propel the capsule through the conduit between the two extreme positions at the snout and the storage body. This construction allows for manipulation of the capsule between its extreme positions by an operator stationed at a point remote from the path of the capsule.
In radiographic applications, for example on shipboard, the cramped quarters and complex construction of the ship necessitate snaking the control cables of the manipulating device through congested spaces. Where the control cables are not readily and safely detachablefrom the source and the storage body, it is necessary to attempt extension of the cables and their conduit by passing the bulky reel through those spaces, a difficult and sometimes impossible procedure.
The prior art coupling devices have a number of deficiencies, at least one of which is very serious in terms of dangers to radiation exposure which may be brought about by carelessness in the operation of such devices. It is possible in certain prior art devices to couple male and female connectors respectively anchored to the source propelling or manipulating means or to the source storage unit without having first made a proper connection between the propelling cable and the cable attached directly to the source. With this condition obtaining, an operator is able to propel the source from its storage unit to its useful location, but is then unable to withdraw the source into the storage unit. In this event, the
operator, thinking the source is safely stored when, in fact it is not, is apt to receive very large doses of radiation from the source. Further exposure to radiation is inevitably caused when the source is located and returned manually to a shielded location.
A second deficiency in prior art coupling devices lies in their ability to be uncoupled when the source is out of its storage unit. Any condition allowing decoupling of the coupling apparatus except when the source is safely stored is dangerous.
Third, prior art coupling devices are difiicult to couple for the following reason. During the coupling operation the operator must reel out a length of propelling cable to expose the end fitting for connection with the end fitting on the course-connected cable. After connection of the end fittings, the male connector which must then be lockingly engaged with the female connector anchored to the storage unit is forced toward the female connector. However, in situations where long lengths of cable, for example 50-l00 feet, are involved, the connection of the male and female connectors is very unwieldy and is apt to involve many trips to the cable reel by the operator in order to accomplish the interconnection of the male and female connectors.
OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION cally, it is an object to provide coupling apparatus which is fail-safe in preventing propulsion of the source from its storage unit without the capability of returning the source to its storage unit after utilization thereof.
It is a further object to provide coupling apparatus which is incapable of being uncoupled except when the source is safely nested in its storage unit.
It is still another object of this invention to provide coupling apparatus in which the coupling action may be easily and quickly accomplished.
Further objects and advantages of the invention will in part be obvious and will in part become apparent as the following description proceeds.
The features of novelty which characterize the invention will be pointed out with particularity in the claims annexed to and forming a part of this specification.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS For a fuller understanding of the invention, reference may be had to the following detailed description taken in connection with the accompanying drawings wherein:
FIGS. 15 depict prior art coupling apparatus described and claimed in US. Pat. No. 3,l47,38l3 of Robert .I. Prest, assigned to the assignee of the invention;
FIG. 1 is a schematic view, partly :in section and partly in fragment of a radiographic apparatus employing the principles of the above-referenced invention;
FIG. 2 is an elevational partly cross-sectional view of elements of a prior art coupler showing the connector parts in mated relation;
FIG. 3 is a crosssectional view of the embodiment of FIG. 2 taken along the 3-3 of the latter;
FIG. 4 is an enlarged cross-sectional view taken along lines 4-4 in FIG. 3;
FIG. 5 is a view of elements of the prior art coupler in exploded perspective, partly broken away; and
FIGS. 6 and 7 are section views illustrating coupling apparatus embodying the features of the present invention.
THE PRIOR ART AS REPRESENTED BY PATENT NO. 3,147,383
Generally the present invention contemplates the provision of novel means for 'releasably coupling manipulating apparatus to a radioactive shielding body, which means constitutes an improvement on the apparatus described and claimed in US. Pat. No. 3,147,383. The manipulating apparatus preferably includes known flexible, elongated propelling means, such as wire cable, movable through a flexible conduit by rotation of an actuating device, for instance, a manually operable reel. The manipulating apparatus of the said patented invention includes a first connector device through which the wire cable cannot be drawn and therefore constitutes a first terminus for cable movement. The first connector device includes a portion of a signal system, preferably electrical, for providing information indicative of the positioning of the radioactive source with respect to the snout and the bore of the storage body. The invention also includes a second connector device adapted to mate with the first connector device. The second connector device includes means for releasably and positively coupling the first connector device in fixed relation thereto; means for releasably retaining the radioactive source in fixed position, for instance, in the storage body; manually operable means for actuating the other parts of the second connector device and being selectively and alternately movable between a first position at which movement of the radioactive source is unimpeded and the connector devices are positively coupled, a second position at which the connector devices are still positively coupled but the source is fixedly retained, for instance, in a safe position in the storage body, and a third position at which the source is retained in a fixed position, but the connector devices are incapable of being uncoupled.
The patented invention further comprises a third connector device for coupling and uncoupling the cable and the source, the third connector device preferably including means for actuating the signal system, and means engageable by a portion of the second connector device for retaining the source in its safe position. In order to assure that the second connector device is maintained in any of its aforesaid positions, the invention includes a locking device, preferably key actuated, for
preventing movement of the manually operable means of the second connector device without authorization or-through accident.
Referring now to FIG. 1, there is shown schematically radiographic apparatus incorporating an embodiment of the patented invention. The apparatus includes a storage or shielding body 20 having a tortuous bore or tube 22 therein. Tube 22 has two openings at different locations of the surface of the storage body, and to one of these openings there is coupled a hollow flexible conduit 24 leading to radiographic ex posure device such as snout 26. The apparatus of FIG. 1 also includes manipulating means which include a pair of flexible hollow conduits 28 and 30, the former being coupled at one end by the releasable coupling means of the patented invention, shown generally at 32, coaxially with the other opening of tube 22. The other end of conduit 28 is connected to manipulating unit 34 which, for the sake of simplicity in description, is shown as including both a motive means or reel and safety indicating means.
The reel of unit 34 is adapted for manual operation by crank 36. The safety indicating means includes means such as lamps 38 for giving visual warnings. Means, such as electrical cable 39 are provided for conveying electrical signals for display on lamps 38. Cable 39, shown only in fragment, has one end connected to unit 34 and its other end attached to coupling means 32. The safety indicating means also includes other associated parts (not shown) such'as a current source for activating the lamps, energy storing means, switch means located in the snout, and other switch means described hereinafter located in element 32.
Flexible conduit 30 also leans from coupling means 32 to unit 34. An elongated flexible propelling means, such as cable 40, is contained in conduits 28 and 30, the former providing storage means for the blind end portion of the cable. The other end of the cable is attached through releasable coupling 41 to cable or wire leader 42; the latter in turn is connected to radioactive capsule 43. An intermediate portion of this cable is in engagement with the reel of 34 so as to be movable therewith.
Coupling 41 (shown in detail in FIG. 4) is in the form of a ball and socket type of joint, and comprises ball 44 mounted on and extending from an end of cylindrical shank 45, the other end of the latter being firmly attached as by crimping to said other end of cable 40. Both the shank and ball are preferably dimensioned so that their diameters are approximately the same as the diameter of cable 40. Coupling 41 also includes socket 46 formed as a hollow, cylindrical element having an internal diameter slightly larger than the diameter ball 44 and an external diameter substantially greater than that of the shank. Socket 46 has a keyhole aperture 47 in one side thereof communicating with an end of the socket which is constricted to less than the diameter of ball 44. A portion of aperture 47 is dimensioned to permit ball 44 to be inserted therethrough into the interior of the socket and thereafter positioned so that the ball is retained in the socket by the constricted end while shank 45 is adjacent the constricted end approximately coaxial therewith. The other end of socket 46 is firmly attached to leader 42. The socket includes springloaded slide 48 which is preferably axially movable along the socket interior and is biased to force ball 44 against the constricted end and to occlude at least a section of aperture 47 when the ball is thus forced. Spaced a predetermined distance along leader 42 from the socket is a stop element such as solid stop ball 49 firmly attached to the leader.
Referring now particularly to FIG. there will be seen an exploded perspective view of the parts of coupling means 32 which includes a pair of mating connectors, male connector 50 and female connector 52. In the form shown, particularly in detail in FIG. 2, male connector 50 comprises a substantially cylindrical body 54 having or supporting therein an axial bore 56 through which cable 40 is movable. One end of bore 56 is adapted to be axially connected with conduit 28 as by attachment means, for instance threaded, hollow, cylindrical cable adapter 58. Means, such as blind-cable adapter 60, similar to adapter 58, is also provided adjacent the latter for attaching the male connector and the appropriate end of conduit 30. Disposed adjacent the other end of bore 56 are means releasably engageable with female connector 52. Such means preferably comprises a pair of elongated cylindrical lock pins 62 and 64 of different cross-sectional diameter, mounted on connector 50 so as to extend substantially parallel with the longitudinal axis of the latter from points on opposite sides of such other end of bore 56. Lock pins 62 and 64 are provided respectively with depressed areas or transverse grooves 66 and 68. Preferably, one pin such as 62 is located approximately coaxially with blind-cable adapter 60 and comprises a solid element rigidly mounted on connector 50. The other lock pin 64, is also rigidly mounted on connector 50, but preferably has a hollow cylindrical axial passage 70. Disposed within the latter is an elongated, electrically conducting, contact element 72, one end of which extends into the interior of connector 50,
and the other end of which is slightly recessed within the adjacent end of pin 64. Means, such as insulating material 74, are provided between the length of contact element 72 and the walls of passage 70 for preventing electrical short circuits between the pin and contact element. Because of the interior structure within pin 64, the latter has the greater cross-sectional diameter of the two lock pins.
Male connector 50 also includes switch means forming a portion of the safety indicating means heretofore described. The switch means incorporated within connector 50 is preferably of the type described in US. Pat. No. 2,916,628 in that it preferably comprises a hollow cylindrical switch bushing 76 disposed interiorly of bore 56, and moveable axially along between stops 78 and 80. Stop 78 is located in bore 56 adjacent the connector end bearing pins 62 and 64, while stop 80 is located adjacent the other end of the bore bearing cable ada ter 58. Bushing 76 is normally biased by resilient means such as spring 82 into engagement with stop 78. Mounted on bushing 76 is a first switch contact linkage such as pin 84 extending outwardly of bushing 76 substantially normal to the longitudinal axis of the latter. Mounted exteriorly of connector 50 is a second switch contact linkage such as slide 86 in engagement with pin 84. Slide 86 in turn is connected to microswitch 88. Pin 84 and slide 86 are so positioned that when bushing 76 is biased into engagement with stop 78, the contacts of microswitch 88 are open, and when bushing 76 is moved toward stop 80, the microswitch contacts are closed. A hole 90 is provided in connector 50 preferably on the same face thereof bearing adapters 58 and 60, through which electrical cable 39 is connected in circuit to microswitch 88 and to contact element 72. The interior of bushing 76 is so dimensioned and shaped as to allow free passage of cable 40 and shank 45 therethrough but restricted enough to be engageable with and thus prevent passage of socket 46 therethrough.
Referring again to FIGS. 2 and 5, there are also shown the elements of female connector 52. The latter is adapted to fit within, for instance, well 92 in storage body 20, well 92 being a substantially cylindrical hole in storage body 20 coaxial with one end of tube 22. As means for attached connector 52 to storage body 20 there is provided, for example, mounting plate 94 which can be bolted or otherwise affixed to the storage body about the well. As means for locking pins 62 and 64 when in mated relationship with connector 52, and for releasably arresting cable 40 in a predetermined position, there are provided retaining means such as lock body 96. Connector 52 also comprises guide means providing mating channels for pins 62 and 64. These mating channels are in part formed of holes 98 and 100 in the lock body. In the form shown the latter is shaped as four adjoining cylindrical sections 102, 104, 106, and 108 of different radii, disposed along a common axis, and having a common tubular bore 110 through which cable 40 is movable. Lock body 96 is preferably mounted exteriorly of storage body 20 upon mounting plate 94 with cylindrical section 102, the section of the smallest radius, extending through plate 94 such that bore 110 is in register with tube 22. Holes 98 and 100 are formed with their longitudinal axis extending through sections 104, 106, and 108 substantially parallel with and on diametrically opposed sides of bore 110, being spaced from bore 110 such that each hole intersects the surface of cylindrical section 104 (the section of next larger radius) thereby forming a pair of peripheral slots 112 and 113 parallel in the axis of the bore.
Cable arresting means movable in and out of engagement with cable 40 or leader 42 for locking or unlocking either of the latter, as the case may be, are provided in the form of a pair of cable lock pins 114 and 116. Each lock pin is a substantially cylindrical element having an enlarged portion or flange 118 adjacent one end thereof and a cable engaging surface, such as teeth 120, at the other end thereof. Cylindrical section 104 also includesa pair of holes 122 and 124 extending from the outer cylindrical surface thereof radially into bore 110 preferably from diametrically opposed directions and displaced angularly about the axis of the lock body from guide channels 98 and 100. The opening of each of holes 122 and 124 into bore 110 is preferably dimensioned so that only the body of a respective lock pin 114 and 116 can fit therethrough. The two lock pins are respectively disposed in holes 122 and 124 and are biased, asby springs 126 and 128, respectively, for movement within holes 122 and 124 away from bore 110. Each lock pin is so dimensioned longitudinally that when in normal position the top of its associated flange extends outwardly from the outer cylindrical surface of section 104 while the toothed end of the pin is either flush with or withdrawn slightly from the wall of bore 110.
The female connector also comprises manually operable means for actuating the cable arresting means and for locking pins 62 and 64 within the mating channels. In the form shown, the manually operable means comprises a selector lever body 130. Lever body 130 is shaped as a substantially flat rectangular element having cylindrical aperture 132 substantially centrally thereof, the aperture being circularly dimensioned to fit snugly but rotatably about the cylindrical exterior of lock body section 106 (having a radius of greater than the radius of greater than the radius of section 104 and less than the radius of the largest section 108). Disposed within the internal periphery of aperture 132 are a pair of cam surfaces 134 and 136, each located on opposite interior walls of the aperture. Each cam surface is in the form of a curved ramp having a high end 138 and a low end 140, the latter being substantially at the level of the interior wall of aperture 132, while the former is raised a substantial distance therefrom. 1n the form shown, each cam surface extends over approximately 60 of the aperture periphery, the greater part of which is subtended by the high end of the cam in the form of a plateau, while the sloping portion of the cam surface is less than 30. The cams and aperture are so dimensioned that a circle concentric with aperture 122 and tangent to high ends 138 will have a radius just slightly larger than the radius of cylindrical section 104 of lock body 96 thereby allowing the cams to rotate with lever body 130 about section 104. Disposed to one side of aperture 132 on lever body 130 is a cylinder-type lock 144 of known construction adapted to be operated by key 146, the lock cylinder being the usual bolt 148 spring biased for movement away from pin 20.
Disposed immediately adjacent lever body 130 is sector plate 150 preferably mounted on mounting plater94. Sector' plate 150 has therein a plurality of holes 152, 154, and 156 dimensioned to accept both 148. The holes are spaced along the arcuate path of rotation of bolt 138 at intervals, for instance of 45.
As means for holding selector lever body 130 in rotatable relationship with respect to lock body 96 and mounting plate 94 adjacent sector plate 150 there is provided lock body retainer cover 158. The latter includes therein another portion of the guide means providing mating channels in the form of cylindrical holes 160 and 162. There is also provided in the retainer cover a central aperture or bore 164. Retainer cover 158 preferably is shaped as a cylindrical disc in which holes 160 and 162 and bore 164 are so disposed that they can be registered respectively with holes 98 and and bore of lock body 96.
When assembled to form connector 52, lock body 96 and lock body retainer cover 158 are aligned with their respective bores coaxial and with selector lever body rotatably mounted therebetween. In order to hold these three elements in this relation in which holes 98 and 100 are aligned respectively with holes 162 and 164, connector 52 also includes fastening means such as bolts 166 (only one shown as in FIG. 5) adapted to be inserted through appropriate holes 168 provided in both retainer cover 158 and lock body 96. In the form shown, there are four holes 168 equiangularly spaced about the respective bores of each of the retainer cover and lock body, and a corresponding number of bolts are provided. It will be seen that three elements of female connector 52 (the lock body, the selector lever and the retainer cover) are intended to be mounted on mounting plate 94 exteriorly of body 20. In order to hold the three elements, when bolted together, on mounting plate 94 the latter also includes bolt holes (not shown) through which the bolts extend, and there is provided a backup plate 170 having a plurality of tapped holes 172 corresponding in number and position to bolts 166 extending through said three elements. When the bolts are properly emplaced, the ends thereof preferably extend through the bolt holes in plate 94 and into threaded engagement in holes 172 of backup plate 170. The latter is, of course, then located on the other side of mounting plate 94 from the lock body. Backup plate 170 also includes another aperture or switch channel 176 extending therethrough and so located as to be aligned with hole 98 in the lock body when bolts 166 are threaded into holes 170.
Plate 170 includes central bore 176 therein located to be coaxial with both tube 22 and with the bores of lock body 96 and cover 158 when plate 170 is bolted to the latter elements. Bore 176 is shaped as a transition, i.e., tapered such that the end adjacent lock body 96 is of the same diameter as bore 110 while the end adjacent the opening of tube 22 is of the same diameter as the latter. 1n the preferred embodiment, dimensions are selected such that tube 22 is of greater diameter than stop ball 49, the latter in turn being of greater diameter than stop ball 49, the latter in turn being of greater diameter than bore 110. Backup plate 170 also includes another aperture or switch channel 176 extending therethrough and so located as to be aligned with hole 98 in the lock body when bolts 166 are threaded into holes 170. s
It will also be seen that the lock pin guide channels provided by the alignment of hole 98 with hole 160, and by the alignment of hole 102 with hole 162 are slightly different in diameters. This insures that lock pins 62, 64 are not interchangeably insertable, but can only be placed into the guide channels in a predetermined relationship, the two lock pins being of correspondingly different diameters as hereinbefore described. In order to provide electrical contact with the contact element in pin 64 hole 98 extends completely through lock body 96 to communicate with switch channel 176 in backup plate 170; on the other hand, hole 100 is a blind hole, no electrical throughconnection being necessary.
Mounted in each channel 176 is switching means comprising a cylindrical elongated contact element 178 formed of electrically conductive material. Element 178 is mounted adjacent one end thereof in hollow cylindrical switch bushing 180, and electrically insulated therefrom. The bushing and element in turn are slideably movable along their common longitudinal axis within switch channel 176. Resilient means, such as spring 182, are provided for biasing contact element 178 and bushing 180 for movement into the guide channel provided by aligned holes 98 and 160. The other end of element 178 extends toward body 20 and is intended to be electrically coupled with switch means in the snout.
Also mounted on lever body 130 is a pivoted door or cover 184, spring biased toward a position wherein the cover extends substantially perpendicularly to lever body 130. Cover 184 is movable between the latter position and a position at which it covers the exterior face of retainer cover 158, thereby constituting means for protecting the guide channels from the introduction of foreign objects therein.
With minor modification the male connector can be adapted for mounting on the storage body, while the female connector, in turn, is connected to the conduits and cables leading to the control unit. In the device disclosed, lock pin 64 has both a mechanical and electrical function. It is equally feasible to employ but single lock pin, for instance, of triangular cross section, in place of two lock pins and combining both the mechanical and electrical functions.
Alternatively, in place of pins 62 and 64 a greater plurality of lock pins can be provided, for instance, three, two of which provide the mechanical functions and one of which is employed for its electrical function.
It will be assumed for purposes of description of the operation of the invention that capsule 43 is initially in body in safe position wherein leader 42 extends from the capsule such that socket 46 extends just sufficiently from female connector 52 as to be couplable to ball 44 attached to cable 40 and extending out of bore 56 of male connector 50 thereon. This safe position can be established by setting the length of leader 42 and locating stop ball 49 so that the latter is arrested in the tapes of bore 176 when the capsule and socket are correctly positioned.
When male connector 50 is not coupled to female connector 52, it will be seen that spring 182 biases bushing 180 into the guide channel provided by holes 98 and 160. When bushing 180 so extends into the guide channel, lever body 130 is in its disconnect position from which it cannot be rotated because high end 138 of cam surface 134 is obstructed by the presence of bushing 180 in the guide channel.
To operate the device, the operator manually swings cover 184 to its open position exposing the internal face of retainer cover 158. Coupling 41 is manually made by inserting ball 44 into aperture 47, thus connecting cable 40 and lead 42 to one another. The operator inserts lock pins 62 and 64 respectively into holes 162 and 160. By virtue of difference in diameter of the latter two holes and the size of the pins, there can be no confusion as to which pin fits which hole.
As pin 64 moves axially into hole 160, the contact of element 72 with element 176 forms an electrical connection. The contact of the latter two elements and the pressure exerted by the operator inserting pin 64 also causes bushing 180 to slide out of hole 98, compressing spring 182 which firmly holds the contact elements in engagement. Bushing 180 is now no longer in the path of movement of cam 134, and the lever body is kept, of at all, in its disconnect position by lock 144 only.
The operator need merely insert key 146 in lock 144 to release bolt 148 from engagement with hole 156. It will be seen that when the lever body is in its disconnect" position, the position of cams 135 and 136 are such that high ends 138 thereof are in engagement with flanges 118 of lock pins 114 and 116, forcing the latter against the bias of springs 126 and 128 respectively toward and into bore 110. Thus, in the disconnect" position, teeth 120 of both lock pins 114 and 116 extend into bore 110, positively retaining leader 42 from movement by engagement therewith as shown particularly in FIG. 4. The lock body 130 is now rotatable in a clockwise direction being restrained from movement in the opposite direction by virtue of the engagement of pin 186 with stop portion 138 of sector plate 150. As lock body 130 is rotated clockwise through 45, cams 134 and 136 are respectively moved about the periphery of section 104 of lock body 96, and high end 138 of the cam surfaces move transversely of slots 112 and 113. But, male connector 50, when fully seated with respect to the female connector, has grooves 66 and 68 respectively of pins 62 and 64, located at slots 113 and 112. Thus, the movement of high end 138 across slots 113 and 112 is also into a position in engagement with grooves 66 and 68. The positioning of the cam surfaces in grooves 66 and 68 therefore effectively serves to lock pins 62 and 64 positively with respect to the guide channels so that the pins cannot be withdrawn.
The rotation of lock body 130 through 45 from its disconnect position therefore finds the lock body at a lock" position wherein pins 62 and 64 are positively retained in holes 198 by virtue of engagement ofcam surfaces 134 and 136 with grooves 68 and 66, while lock pins 114 and 116 are still cammed by cam surfaces 136 and 134 so as to extend into bore and engage leader 44. The lock body can be fixed in this lock" by manually forcing bolt 148 into engagement with hole 154 in the sector plate. in this position connectors 52 and 50 cannot be withdrawn nor can capsule 46 be moved.
Lever body 130, upon release of bolt 148 from hole 154, can either be moved counterclockwise toward its disconnect position, or clockwise another 45 toward an operate position, the latter being shown in FIG. 3. Lever body 138 cannot be moved clockwise past the operate position because of the engagement of pin 186 with another stop portion 190 of sector plate 150. At the operate position, bolt 148 is in alignment with hole 152 on the sector plate. At the operate position, bolt 148 is in alignment with hole 152 on the sector plate and the lever body may be locked in this position by manually forcing the bolt into engagement with hole 152.
As lever body is rotated from its lock position to its 0perate" position, low ends of cam surfaces 134 and 136 are moved into alignment with lock pins 114 and 116 permit the latter pins to move along holes 122 and 124 under the bias of their respective springs outwardly frombore 110 and release leader 42. However, the cam surfaces still remain engaged in grooves 66 and 68. Thus, in the operate position, the two connectors are still positively locked to one another but the release of leader 42 now permits movement of capsule 43 out of tube 22 into conduit 24 toward snout 26. As is well known, in the art, when capsule 43 arrives at snout 26, capsule 43 or an attachment to the leader such as stop ball 49 closes a microswitch and an electrical signal is then sent back through the engaged contact elements 178 and 70 to unit 34 so that the positioning of the capsule is indicated on one of lamps 38, A radiographic exposure may now be made.
When it is desired to stop the exposure and restore the capsule to its safe position within storage body 20, the operator need only rotate crank 36 moving cable 40 and withdrawing capsule 43 from the snout and into the storage body. Just before capsule 43 arrives in safe position in the storage body, socket 46 engages bushing 76. Continued withdrawal of cable 40 forces socket 46 and bushing 76 against the bias of spring 82, moving bushing 76 toward stop 80. This movement of bushing 76 is transmitted through pin 84 and slide 86 to trip microswitch 88, and an electrical signal is sent through cable 39 to unit 34. The signal is then displayed at another of lights 38, indicating that capsule 43 is in its safe position. Of course, when bushing 76 has engaged stop 80 the motion of cable 40 moving capsule 46 away from snout 26 is completely arrested. in the event that ball 44 should break away from its connection into socket 46 shank 45 is so dimensioned that it will push through bushing 76 and will not actuate the microswitch. Hence, if the joint of socket 46 and ball 44 breaks while the capsule is not in its safe position, no false signal of safe" will be indicated.
If the operator does not wish to use capsule 43, and desires to prevent any further use thereof without authority, he need only unlock lever body 130 so that the latter may be rotated counterclockwise to its lock or disconnect" positions. If it is intended to employ capsule 43 shortly thereafter, the operator can move lever body 130 into its lock" position, and force bolt 148 into engagement with hole 154. By doing so, the use of the apparatus is denied to those without a key, manipulation of crank 36 cannot move cable 40 because lock pins 114 and 116 have been cammed back into engagement with leader 42 and connectors 50 and 52 are positively locked to one another preventing removal of control cables.
If it is desired to remove entirely the manipulating means comprising conduits 28 and 30, cable 40, unit 34, and male connector 50 from the unit, for instance for use with another storage body having an appropriate female connector, the operator need only rotate lever body 130 to its disconnect position and remove male connector 50. The latter is, at this position, no longer held to the female connector because cam surfaces 134 and 136 have been rotated by the lever body out of engagement with grooves 66 and 68.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS As described in detail above, the above-described apparatus although operating very satisfactorily for the intended functions, is nevertheless deficient in the following respects: (1) the male and female connectors may be interconnected even though the propelling and source cable fittings are not properly connected; (2) the male and female connectors may be uncoupled even when the source is not properly nested in its storage unit; and (3) the coupling action is difficult and time consuming to accomplish for a single operator.
FlGS. 6 and 7 depict coupling apparatus according to this present invention which embodies features overcoming each of these deficiencies. The FlGS. 6 and 7 embodiment comprises a female connector 200 and a male connector 202 capable of being securely locked together with a pin and socket arrangement substantially as described above with respect to the FIGS. 1-5 structure. The female connector 200 includes sockets 204 for receiving connector pins on the male connector 202. Cable locking pins 206 biased by compression springs 208 are driven in a radial direction by a cam 210 on the inner surface ofa rotatable control collar 212. A bore 214 slideably receives a source cable 216 having an end fitting 218 and a ball 220 fixed near to the end thereof.
When the source is in its nested position, the source cable 216 is locked in the female connector 200 in the position shown in FIG. 6 with the end fitting 218 accessible externally of the connector and with the locking pins 206 being cammed by the radial cam 210 into blocking engagement with the ball 220, preventing withdrawal of the cable 216from the connector 200.
The male connector 202 is a novel design intended to facilitate the interconnection of the source cable end fitting 218 with an end fitting 222 on the end of the propelling cable 224. By this invention, means are provided for enabling the cable end fittings 218 and 222 to be connected and the male connector 202 to then be coupled to the female connector 200 without necessitating relative movement of the. connectors 200 and 202.
To this end, the male connector 202 comprises a body 226 with a bore for slideably receiving a propelling cable 224. A pair of semicylindrical shells 228, 230 are hinged on the body 226 so as to be coaxial therewith when brought together in the closed position. An annular member 232 carrying a pair of connector pins 234 has an axial opening slightly larger than the diameter of the body 226 and the closed shells 228, 230.
In operation, to make a connection between the manipulating and propelling apparatus and the source and its storage unit, the male connector 202 is brought into proximity with the female connector 200 with the annular member 232 withdrawn and the shells open, the end fittings 218 and 222 are then interconnected, as described above, without the necessity of any relative movement between the male and female connectors. The male connector 202 is engaged with the female connector by merely closing the cylindrical shells 228, 230 and then sliding the annular member 232 over the shells to the position shown in FIG. 7 wherein a shoulder 238 on the annular member 232 engages flanges 240 on the ends ofshells 228,230. I
As in the FlGS. 1-5 structure, the interlocking of the male and female connectors is accomplished by the engagement of the radial cam 210 with grooves 242 in the connector pins 234. My novel male connector obviates having to withdraw extra cable from the propelling cable reel in order to make possible the interconnection of the cable end fittings and then having to push the excess cable after the connection is made back into the cable sheath.
The total axial dimension of the end fittings 218, 222 and the ball 220, are designed to be such that only when the fittings 218 and 222 are properly interconnected can the control collar 212 on the female connector 200 be rotated to lock the female and male connectors together. If the lug 244 on fitting 222 is not received in the socket in fitting 218, the axial dimension of the lug 244 is sufficient to preclude entrance of the cam 210 in the groove 242. Thus by this aspect of the invention, a fail-safe feature is provided which precludes coupling of the male and female connectors (and thus introducing the capability of releasing the source for propulsion from its storage unit) unless the cable end fittings are first properly connected to allow return of the source to its storage unit. The problem with prior art devices that the end fittings 218 and 222 might merely be abutted and not connected before coupling of the male and female connectors is thus overcome.
ln order to preclude the possibility that the male and female connectors may be uncoupled when the source is out of its storage unit, a spring-biased sleeve 246 is provided. The sleeve 246 is held forwardly of thecable locking pins 206 when the source is in its stored position and the source cable is in its locked position as shown in FIG. 6.
When it is desired to release the source cable and propel the source from the storage unit, the operator rotates the control collar 212 to the position shown in FIG. 7 wherein a valley on the radial cam 210allows the locking pins 206 to be urged radially outward by the spring 208. The source cable is thus freed for unrestricted movement through the female connector 200. The sleeve 246, operating under the bias of compression spring 248, follows the ball 220 until a flange 250 on the sleeve 246 engages a stop 252 on the female connector body. The sleeve 246 thus assumes the position shown in FIG. 7. In this position, the locking pins 206 are maintained in their radially outermostposition, preventing rotation of the collar 212 and thus possible decoupling of the male and female connectors while the source is out of its storage unit.
The inventionis not limited to the particular details of construction of theembodiments depicted, and it is contemplated that various and other modifications and applications will occur to those skilled in the art.
Therefore, because certain changes may be made in the above-described apparatus without departing from the true spirit and scope of the invention herein involved, it is intended that the subject matter of the above depiction shall be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense.
1. For use with apparatus for manipulating radioactive material including a radioactive source, a source cable supporting the source, a storage unit for storing the source, manipulating means including a flexible propelling cable for moving said source into and out of said unit, and coupling means having a pair of mating male and "female connectors for connecting said manipulating means to said source cable and to said storage unit, an improved male connector comprising:
a connector body supporting said propelling cable such that an end fitting therefore is presented for engagement with an end fitting on said source cable; and
support means mounting pin means adapted to be received in socket means in said female connector for to-and-fro movement along the propelling cable relative to said body for exposing, upon rearward axial movement thereof, said propelling cable end fitting to enable connection with said source cable end fitting and for enabling, upon forward axial movement thereof, engagement of said pin means with said socket means after said connection has been made.
2. The apparatus defined by claim 1 wherein said support means comprises a pair of semicylindr'ical shells hinged on said body and coaxial therewith when in the closed position and an annular member carrying said pin means concentric with said shells and slideable thereover for effecting engagement of said pins with said socket means in said female connector.
3. For use with apparatus for manipulating radioactive material including a radioactive source, a source cable supporting the source, a storage unit for storing the source, manipulating means including a flexible propelling cable for moving said source into and out of said unit, coupling means for connecting said manipulating means to said source cable and to said storage unit, comprising:
a male connector anchored to said manipulating means and comprising a bore for slideably receiving said propelling cable and stop means for abuttingly engaging an end fitting on said propelling cable to prevent retraction of said propelling cable fitting into said bore; and
a female connector anchored to said source storage unit for receiving said male connector in locking engagement, said female connector having manually operable cable locking means for retentively locking said source cable in said female connector with an end fitting for said source cable projecting from said female connector for connec tion with said propelling cable end fitting, said cable end fittings having a total axial length which is sufficiently greater when said fittings are unconnected then when said fittings are connected as to prevent interlocking engagement of said female and male connectors except when said fittings are connected.
4. The apparatus defined by claim 3 wherein said stop means comprises a shoulder on said bore.
5. The apparatus defined by claim 4 wherein said end fittings comprise a neck and slot arrangement wherein a neck formed on one fitting is received in a side-entered slot on the other fitting.
6. For use with apparatus for manipulating radioactive material including a radioactive source, a source cable supporting the source, a storage unit for storing the source, manipulating means including a flexible propelling cable for moving said source into and out of said unit, coupling means for connecting said manipulating means to said source cable and to said storage unit, comprising:
a male connector anchored to said manipulating means and having a bore for slideably receiving said propelling cable; and
a female connector anchored to said storage unit for receiving said male connector in locking engagement, said female connector having a bore for slideably receiving said cable and comprising: cable securing means mounted for radial movement into and out of retentive engagement with said source cable,
control means for driving said cable securing means and for effecting said locking engagement of said male and female connectors, said control means effecting a release of said cable when moved to a predetermined setting to allow the propulsion of said source from said storage unit, and
blocking means responsive to movement of said source cable out of said female connector for blocking said securing means and said control means when said source is out of said storage unit to prevent actuating of said control means to uncouple said male and female connectors except when said source is in said storage unitv 7. The apparatus defined by claim 6 wherein said blocking means comprises an axially spring-biased sleeve coaxial with said bore.
8. For use with apparatus for manipulating radioactive material including a radioactive source, a source cable supporting the source, a storage unit for storing the source, manipulating means including a flexible propelling cable for moving said source into and out of said unit, coupling means for connecting said manipulating means to said source cable and to said storage unit, comprising:
a male connector anchored to said manipulating means, said connector having a bore for slideably receiving said propelling cable and connector pin means projecting therefrom; and
a female connector anchored to said storage unit and having socket means for receiving in locking engagement said connector pin means on said male connector, said female connector having a bore for slideably receiving said cable and comprising: cable securing means including locking pin means mounted for radial movement into and out of blocking engagement with said source cable, I control means including radial camming means in driving engagement with said locking pin means, said camming means engaging said connector pin means upon actuation thereof for effecting said locking engagement of said male and female connectors, said control means effecting a release of said cable when moved to a
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