US 3867921 A
A ball projecting device having a ball deflecting member that moves laterally in response to the operation of movement of a cam which is rotated by a power system. The deflecting member is connected to a lever that is operated with each rotation of the cam to move a member from interrupting the path of flow of balls from a magazine to a position to be projected by a throwing arm. The member that interrupts the flow of balls also causes a member to operate a pivoted lever which prevents balls in the magazine from jamming. A spring biased throwing arm is rotated while building up tension in the spring to rotate the arm to a ball engaging position after the throwing arm has been released from a member that is connected to the rotatable cam.
Description (Le texte OCR peut contenir des erreurs.)
United States Patent n91 Politzer SPRING TYPE BALL THROWING DEVICE  Inventor: Eugene Jim Politzer, 65 rue Jouffroy, Paris 17eme, France  Filed: Oct. 26, 1973 ] Appl. No.: 409,889
 Foreign Application Priority Data Nov. 13, 1972 France 72.40190  US. Cl 124/26, 124/30 R, 124/50, 124/36  Int. Cl. F411) 7/00  Field of Search 124/16, 9, 8, 36, 41, 50, 124/21, 26, 27; 273/26 D  References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,543,144 6/1925 Wurm 124/21 3,160,152 12/1964 Watkins 124/21 3,570,466 3/1971 White 124/41 3,610,223 10/1971 Green 124/16 3,640,263 2/1972 Rhodes 124/30 R [4 1 Feb. 25, 1975 Primary Examiner-Richard C. Pinkham Assistant Examiner-William R. Browne Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Browdy and Neimark  ABSTRACT A ball projecting device having a ball deflecting member that moves laterally in response to the operation of movement of a cam which is rotated by a power system. The deflecting member is connected to a lever that is operated with each rotation of the cam to move a member from interrupting the path of flow of balls from a magazine to a position to be projected by a throwing arm. The member that interrupts the flow of balls also causes a member to operate a pivoted lever which prevents balls in the magazine from jamming. A spring biased throwing arm is rotated while building up tension in the spring to rotate the arm to a ball engaging position after the throwing arm has been released from a member that is connected to the rotatable cam.
11 Claims, 8 Drawing Figures SPRING TYPE BALL THROWING DEVICE FIELD OF THE INVENTION For training in some sports such as tennis, it is of usual practice to utilize an apparatus which is provided to automatically throw balls in the direction of the learner or of the player who can thus repeat and learn the movements required for a correct accomplishment I of the required gestures without the help of a teacher or of a trainer obliged to perform many times the same theoretical or practical gestures, when he has to throw, always in the same way, a ball in the direction of the learner or of the player in a view of acquiring the automatism of an accurate gesture.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION The apparatus used for that purpose are not entirely satisfactory because in general they are heavy, bulky, unhandy, not very accurate and of a high cost when they are provided with adjusting means enabling the varying of the trajectories of the thrown balls. On the other hand, these adjusting means in general concern only some parameters influencing the trajectory and cannot be rapidly operated because of the more or less long changes having to be made to the constituting elements concerned by the trajectory.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention copes with the above described disadvantages by creating a new ball-throwing device which can be manufactured at a very reasonable cost, but which nevertheless offers adjusting means enabling one to reproduce with accuracy most of the various trajectories required for the study, practice and training of the required gestures and according to throwing rates which can be adapted to the abilities of the player or of the learner of both tennis and table ten- The object of the present invention is also designed to the realization of a device having the following characteristics:
Perfect performance, reproducing all the strokes of a player, including top-spin;
Minimized size and weight, permitting of easy handling and transportation. It can be accomodated on the seat of a car;
These advantages open the huge market of individual players, in addition to the professional market (Clubs and Instructors);
The simplicity and technical achievements of the machine permit of a competitive price, in spite of its superiority.
According to the present invention, the ball throwing device comprises a frame which is adjustable and inclinable, said frame supporting a driving component which has to give, under the control of a power variator and of a device setting the throwing rate, a throwing pulse to a ball, said ball being transferred by a distributing mechanism controlled by the operation of the driving component, from a feeding unit towards a guiding and throwing component extended by a deflexion opening causing an automatic alternative deviation of the trajectory of a thrown ball in the horizontal and vertical planes.
Various other characteristics of the present invention are moreover shown in the following detailed description.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS Embodiments of the present invention are shown by way of non-restrictive example in the accompanying drawings, in which:
FIG. 1 is a partly sectional lateral view of the ball- 0 throwing device of the invention.
FIG. 2 is a partial lateral view showing at a large scale some details of the constitution of the device.
FIG. 3 is an enlarged sectional view taken substantially along line Ill-III of FIG. 1.
FIG. 4 is an electric diagram showing the constitution of a controlling element for the device.
FIG. 5 is a partial top view showing at a large scale some constructive details of one of the elements of the device.
FIG. 6 is a sectional view substantially taken along line VI--VI of FIG. 5.
FIG. 7 is a plane view similar to FIG. 6 and showing another characteristical position.
FIG. 8 is a variant of an embodiment of a part of FIG. 5.
DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS According to FIGS. 1 to 3, the ball-throwing device comprises a frame I supporting a pulse generator 2 placed to cooperate with a throwing, guiding and deflecting component 3 connected by a mechanism 4 distributing the balls to a feeding unit 5.
The frame I is mainly constituted by legs 6 which are adjustable in height and which support a plate 7 to which is hung the pulse generator 2 which is placed inside a protective housing 8 formed by two parallel lateral cheeks 9 and 10 connected together by a hooding 11.
The pulse generator 2 comprises a striking component 12 which is in the shape of a lever rotatively placed on a pin 13 supported by the cheek 9 (FIG. 3). The lever 12 is controlled by the action of a resilient means 15 causing said lever to rotate, always in the direction of arrow f up to a rest position wherein it passes through a port 7a made in the plate 7 (FIG. I).
In the example represented, the resilient means 15 is constituted by a helicoidal spring, with torsion operating joined turns, slipped on the pin 13 and of which the ends 16 and 17 are anchored, after having loaded the turns, respectively on the cheek 9 and on the lever 12. Though it has not been shown, the resilient means 15 can be constituted by a helicoidal spring operating a pull or a compression and placed between the lower portion of housing 8 and an arm extending the lever l2 beyond the pin 13.
The lever 12 has an embossing 18 designed to cooperate, as shown with more details in FIG. 2, with a loading mechanism 19 comprising a plate 20 blocked on the shaft 21 of an electrical moto-reducing unit 22 placed on the cheek 10 so that the shaft 21 is co-axial with the pin 13. The plate 20 forms a radial extension 23 supporting a block 24 urged by a resilient component 25 in order that one of the ends thereof cooperates with the embossing 18. A stop 26 is supported by a lever 27 in view of intercepting the geometrical area described by the rotation of the block 24. The angular position of the stop 26 can be adjusted by means of the lever 27 which is provided, for that purpose, with a locking device 28 cooperating with an aperture 29 made in the cheek 10.
The pulse generator 2 is designed to give, through the lever 12, a pulse to a ball B placed in the throwing component 3 to make said ball describe a trajectory of a determined length. Considering the position represented in FIG. I, the operation of the moto-reducing unit 22 rotates the plate 20 which, through the block 24, drives the lever 12 the rotation of which in direction of the arrow f, loads the resilient return means 15. The loading stroke goes on until the moment when the stop 26 rotates the block 24 which withdraws from the embossing 18. The lever 12 thus released is brought back in the direction of the arrow 1", by the action of the spring and strikes the ball B placed in a waiting position in the component 3.
FIGS. l and 2 show the stop 26 in a setting position corresponding to a permissible maximal load of the resilient means 15 enabling to obtain the longest trajectory for the ball B. In the case when a smaller trajectory is desired, the stop 26 has only to be moved in the direction of arrow f; to reduce its angular spacing in relation with the rest position of the lever 12 and consequently limit the loading of the resilient means 15.
In general, the mote-reducer unit 22 is designed to produce a ball throwing rate of two seconds in the case of a continuous operation. According to the ability of the learner or of the player, and also according to the difficulty of the movement or gesture to learn, it is necessary that lower throwing rates be obtainable. For that purpose, the operation of the mote-reducer unit 22 is controlled by a device for the electric control and also for the setting of the frequency, said device being contained in a box 30 supported by the check 10.
As it appears in FIG. 4, the controlling device comprises, between two conductors 3] and 32, a hand controlled selector 33 ensuring the feeding of the motoreducer unit 22 by a direct circuit 34 or through an adjustable timer 35 which comprises a rectifier 36 connected to a variable resistance circuit 37 comprising a slider 38. Said slider is electrically connected to at least one capacitor 39 for feeding a relay 41 connected with the capacitor 39 to the rectifier 36 opposite the circuit 37.
Contact 41a of the relay 41 is placed on the feeding circuit of a second relay 42 having one or several contacts 420 placed on a shunting conductor 34a. The conductor 32 is connected to the rectifier 36 opposite a connection leading to a contactor 43 able to occupy a position I for directly feeding the electrical motoreducer 22 and a position I] for feeding said motor under the control of the timer 35. The contactor 43 is, for example, placed on the cheek 10 in a way to be operated by a cam 44 supported by the plate 20.
The controlling device of the throwing rate operates in the following manner:
The selector 33 is placed according to FIG. 4 in a position where the feeding of the motor 22 is ensured under the control of the timer 35. The slider 38 is placed in the required position, for example in the position corresponding to the interposition of the lower electrical resistance between the rectifier 36 and the capacitor 39.
With reference to FIG. 2, the cam 44 of the plate maintains the selector 33 in the position I so that the electrical motor 22 fed by the circuits 34a and 34 controls, through the plate 20, the driving of the lever 12 in the direction of the arrow f, in the loading stroke of the spring 15. As soon as the block cooperates with the stop 26, the lever 12 performs its active stroke and gives the ball B the throwing pulse. During this active stroke, the plate 20 goes on rotating, thus the cam 44 is released from the contactor 43 which is resiliently brought back into the position I]. The current then passes through the rectifier 36, the variable resistance circuit 37 and loads the capacitor 39 during a time duration which is function of the position of the slider 38. The capacitor 39 and the circuit 37 thus form a time constant of an adjustable value which ensures the temporized feeding of the relay 41 of which the mobile contact 41a closes the feeding circuit of relay 42. The mobile contacts 420 are then closed and reoperates, through the circuit 340, the feeding of the motor 22 which is driving again the plate 20 after a time function of the constant selected by the slider 38.
Thus it is possible to modify as desired, or according to predetermined values, the throwing rate of the device by only operating the slider 38 which can be connected, in some cases, to a remote control, placed within reach of the player, of the learner or of the teacher.
At the end ofits active course, the lever 12 strikes the ball B which is, thus, placed in a waiting position in a loading chamber 45 which is a part of the throwing component 3. Said throwing component comprises a barrel 46 placed on supports 47 raising from plate 7 (FIGS. 1, 5 and 6). The barrel 46 is constituted by linear rods 48, placed in parallel relationship along some angularly equidistant generatrices of a tubular envelope forming said barrel. Such a structure has the ad vantage of reducing to a minimal value the friction between the ball B and the guiding barrel 46 and also the air compression in front of the ball and the depression behind said ball at the moment of its throwing. In the present example, there are six rods 48 relatively placed to enable the lower rod to be set off in comparison with the port 7a (FIG. 1) to provide for the passage and the oscillation of lever 12. The length of the barrel 46 is determined to give the ball an axial guiding sufficient to mark it on a straight trajectory of which the site angle can be set by means of the legs 6.
The loading chamber 45 is separated from the feeder 5 by the distributing mechanism 4 which comprises a guide 49 formed by two parallel rods 50, replacing the corresponding portions of one or several bars 48 extending between the cheeks 47a and 47b on which is fixed the connection sleeve 51 of a funnel 52 constitut ing the feeder. The guide 49 is slidingly placed in the cheek 47a and in a traverse 53 on which is hung a resilient return means 54 tending to always return the mechanism 4 in the position for which the rods 50 prevent the passage of a ball B between the sleeve 51 and the chamber 45. The guide 49 supports a bar 55 on which bears the head 56 of a right angled lever 57 hinged on a spindle supported by the cheek 10. The lever 57 forms a small arm 58 (FIGS. 1 and 2) supporting a loose roller 59 cooperating with the lateral side of the plate 20 which provides an operating bossing 60 lat erally offset with respect to the cam 44.
After a throwing pulse given to a ball B, the lever 12 substantially takes the position represented in dot-dash line in FIG. 1 until the moment when the operation, temporized or not temporized, of the moto-reducer unit 22 brings the plate in the position of the beginning loading course. As soon as said course has started, the bossing is presented to the roller 59 which controls, in direction of the arrow ft. the swivelling of the lever 57 whose head 56 bears on bar 55 to push back, against action of the resilient means 54, the guide 49 in direction of the arrow fs (FIG. 5). The rods 50 thus open the passage between the sleeve 51 and the loading chamber 45 in which a ball B falls by gravity. After having passed the bossing 60, the resilient component 54 brings back the guide 49 in its closing position and pushes back, through the bar 55, the lever 57 in a rest position in which it is waiting for the subsequent control cycle after a rotation, temporized or not temporized, of one turn of the plate 20.
FIGS. 1 and 5 show that the guide 49 is provided, outside the traverse 53, with a fitting 61 comprising a finger 62 having an adjustable axial position and cooperating with the shoulder 63 of an hinged lever 64 placed inside the funnel 52. Every operation cycle of the distributing mechanism 4 controls the swivelling of the lever 64 which accomplishes a stirring of the various balls contained in the feeder in order to prevent the possible vault effect which could stop the automatic operation of the ball-throwing device.
The component 3 can assume, besides the throwing and guiding operations, a function of deflexion of the trajectory of said ball. For that purpose, the barrel is extended by a deflective opening 65 (FIGS. 5 and 6) delimiting a polygonal passage with a cross-section bigger than the one defined by the rods 48. The opening 65 is placed on vertical pivots 66 supported by the cheek 47c. The opening 65 is connected to a control mechanism 67 comprising a square 68 pivotally placed above the barrel 46 on an axis 69 supported by a plate 70 fixed to the cheek 47c. The arm 68a of the square 68 has a transverse edge 71 shaped to be able to cooperate with two cylindrical pieces 72 placed at equal dis- I tance and in recess by comparison with an extension 73 formed by the upper pivot 66. The second arm 68b is connected to a connecting rod 74 hinged on a rocking lever 75 pivotally placed on an axis 76 supported by a bracket 77 fixed to the traverse 53. The rocking lever 75 has a segment 78 in the shape of an isosceles triangle partly engaged inside a passage 79 delimited by the opposite inclined edges 80 and 81 of two plates 82 and 83 leaving, between each other, a passage 84 with parallel edges substantially ending at the level of the connecting sleeve 51. The passage 84 constitutes a guide for a cylindrical finger 85 removably placed on a runner 86 slipped on a slide bar 87 adjustably fixed on the guide 49 to extend transversely to the axis of the passage 84. The finger 85 can also be placed in a hole made in the bracket 77 to be engaged in a complementary housing 88 shown by the segment 78 of the rocking lever 75. In said position, shown in FIG. 7, the mechanism 67 is blocked and holds the square 68 in a position in which the two inclined sides 71a cooperate with the two fingers 72 to ensure the blocking of the deflexion opening 65 lined up with the axis of the barrel 46.
If it is desired to use the deflective opening 65 to automatically alternate off-set trajectories on each side of the axis of the barrel 46 (for example in view of studying the gestures or movements corresponding to forehand stroke" and to backhand stroke) the finger 85 is released from the housing 88 to readapt it on the runner 86. Thus, when the lever 57 works on the bar 55,
the guide 49 drives the slide-bar 87 and the finger 85 which comes to bear on one of the sides of the extension 78. To prevent any risk of a stop in the case of a lining-up of the extension 78 with the motion axis of the 5 finger 85, the top of the extension 78 is provided with a chamfered angle 89. When the finger 85 rests on the extension 78, the rocking lever 75 swivels: first towards the position represented in dot-dash line in FIG. 6, then towards the position shown in full line. The connecting rod then makes the square 68 swivel in the direction of the arrow f thus the edge 71 pushes back the corresponding finger 72 and makes the opening 64 to swivel up to a determined stop position when the edge 71 rests simultaneously on the finger 72 and extension 73. The wall 650 of the opening then constitutes a screen causing a deviation of the initial trajectory of the ball B determined by the direction of the barrel 46.
Upon the return stroke of the distributing mechanism 4, the finger 85 performs a course parallel to the axis of the guide 49 up to the moment when it meets the slope 81 which drives it again towards the passage 84. This return stroke has no influence on the direction of the deflexion opening 65. During a subsequent operation of the mechanism 4, the finger 85 is cooperating. as it appears in FIG. 6, with the other side of the extension 78, which causes the motion of the rocking lever 75 in a direction opposite to the above described direction and controls, through the connecting-rod 74 and the square 68, the opposite lateral motion of the opening 65 which is thus automatically controlled in synchronism with the operation of the device, in order to realize an alternating lateral deviation of the trajectory of two successive balls B without changing the initial direction of the barrel 46. The rocking lever 75, the segment 78, the edges 80 and 81 and the passage 84 constitute together substantially a reversing switch for the finger 85 which cannot follow any other direction than those above described to ensure the swivelling of the rocking lever from one to the other of the two steady positions that it can occupy.
FIG. 5 shows that the lower pivot 66 besides forms a horizontal hinging axis 90 for a blade 91, the angular position of which in one or in the other direction of the arrow f, can be set for example by means of a slot 92 provided in the wall 65b and/or in the wall 650 of the opening 65 for guiding a locking device, not shown, which could possibly be remote controlled. The blade 91 thus bends the vertical trajectory of the ball B coming from the barrel 46 when it is necessary for said ball to describe a curve falling in the direction of the player or of the learner.
FIG. 8 shows a variant of construction wherein the blade 91 shows, in its portion close to the hinging axis 90, a port 94 for the passage of a runner 95 hinged on a horizontal axis 96 supported by the wall 93 of the opening 65. Said runner 95 forms a leg 97 on which is fixed control means 98 for adjusting the angular position of the runner 95 from a complete drawing back position inside the blade 91. The runner 95 is provided on its surface directed towards the inside of the opening 65, with asperities 99 such as wolf teeth, ribs, etc which are placed, when the runner protrudes beyond blade 91 so to impress, to each ball thrown, a rotation on itself in a similar way to the effect given to the balls stricken by a racket. The runner 95 can besides be substituted by a cylinder having an outside surface with teeth or notches and loossely placed on a spindle supported by a supporting part hinged on the axis 96.
As it appears from the above disclosure, the device according to the present invention enables, by combining the different setting parameters, to throw the balls according to various different trajectories and consequently to study, with or without the help of a teacher or of another player, the different movements, gestures and strokes required for the practices of tennis or tabletennis.
Though it has not been represented, the barrel 46 can be provided, in the recess of the loading chamber, with a piston designed to receive the energy of a pulse and to transmit the same to the ball B.
The invention is not restricted to the embodiments shown and described in detail, for various modifications thereof can moreover be applied thereto without departing from the scope of this present invention, as shown in the appended claims.
l. in a ball throwing device including:
a frame, a driving means for providing a throwing pulse to a ball, said frame supporting said driving means; a ball magazine mounted on said frame; a barrel loading chamber mounted on said frame and spaced below said ball magazine; and ball feeding means, associated with said driving means, for intermittently feeding a ball from said ball magazine to said barrel loading chamber in response to the operation of said driving means;
the improvement comprising: a ball guide, including a barrel connected at one end thereof to said loading chamber;
a ball deflecting means positioned at the other end of said barrel, and pivotable in response to the operation of said ball feeding means for deflecting a ball through a plurality of trajectories by being alternately pivoted about an axis substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of said barrel; and
a control means operatively associated with said ball feeding means for causing said driving means to gradually store up a throwing impulse force while said ball feeding means is feeding a ball into said barrel loading chamber.
2. Device as set forth in claim I, wherein said driving means comprises a swivelling lever pivotally mounted on said frame and operated in a throwing pulse stroke by a resilient member rigidly attached to said swivelling lever and said frame; and a rotatable plate, said rotatable plate being connected to said swivelling lever by a pivotal locking member on said rotatable plate; said pivotal locking member being rotated out of its locking position by a stop member adjustably mounted on said frame; said rotatable plate rotates said swivelling lever during a loading stroke of said resilient member; and means for rotating said rotatable plate.
3. Device as set forth in claim 2, wherein the resilient member includes a torsion operated spring.
4. Apparatus of claim 2 further including a throwing rate setting means comprising:
means for interrupting the operation of said means for rotating said rotatable plate for a predetermined time between each said throwing pulse stroke of said swivelling lever.
5. Device as set forth in claim 2 wherein said distributing means includes:
at least two substantially parallel rods extending below said ball magazine and spaced above said loading chamber, said at least two substantially parallel rods being connected to a resilient means for uging said parallel rods into a position below said ball magazine;
a bossing contained on a portion of said rotating plate;
a distributing lever pivotally mounted on said frame and spaced to be engaged by said bossing;
said distributing lever engaging said parallel rods and moving said parallel rods against the urging of said resilient means, thereby allowing a ball to drop from said ball magazine to said loading chamber, when said distributing lever is pivoted by engagement with said bossing, and allowing said parallel rods to move to a ball flow interrupting position under the urging of said resilient means when said distributing lever disengages from said bossing.
6. Device as set forth in claim 1, wherein said ball guide includes a cylindrical barrel formed by a plurality of linear rigid rods, said rods extending parallel to each other from said loading chamber connecting said loading chamber to said ball deflecting means.
7. Device as set forth in claim 1, wherein said ball feeding means is operatively associated with a movable stirring lever extending inside said feeding unit said stirring lever being moved by said ball feeding means to prevent jamming of the balls in said feeding means.
8. Apparatus of claim I wherein said ball deflecting means includes a deflecting opening which is pivotally mounted on said frame by a mounting axis.
9. Device as set forth in claim 8, wherein said mounting axis is substantially vertical and said deflecting opening includes a plate pivotally mounted on an axis substantially perpendicular to said mounting axis of said deflecting opening, said plate being provided with set screw means for setting the angular position of said plate inside said deflecting opening.
10. Device as set forth in claim 9, wherein said plate is associated with a retractable component protruding inside said deflecting opening and constituting a friction element means for causing a ball to rotate when a ball is thrown out of said deflection opening by said throwing pulse.
11. The ball throwing device of claim 8 wherein said control means comprises:
a reverse rocking lever pivotally mounted on said frame and having at least two rest positions;
switching means connected to said reverse rocking lever for moving said rocking lever from one of said at least two rest positions to another of said at least two rest positions;
a finger slidably mounted on said frame, which engages said switching means, said finger being connected to said ball feeding means;
at least one pin member mounted on said deflecting opening;
a control lever connected to said rocking lever, said control lever engaging said at least one pin member on said deflecting opening in response to the movement of said rocking lever by said switching means. when said ball feeding means operates, thereby causing said slidable finger to engage said rocking lever.
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