US 3268680 A
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Aug. 23, 1966 w. R. ANDERSON UNITARY KNOB AND SWITCH Filed Nov. 19, 1964 INVENTOR. W\LL\AN R. ANDERSON BY I I We, Mam;
A 8H0 rn eq United States Patent O 3,268,680 UNITARY KNOB AND SWITCH William R. Anderson, Perrysburg, Ohio, assignor to Anderson Associates, Inc., Toledo, Ohio, a corporation of Ohio Filed Nov. 19, 1964, Ser. No. 412,444 7 Claims. (Cl. ZOO-61.88)
The present invention relates to electrical switches and more particularly to switches responsive to the displacement of an actuator in any of a plurality of directions.
In one embodiment of the invention as applied to a switch operating in conjunction with the manual manipulation of a lever, it is incorporated in a knob on the lever. This knob is formed with a resiliently mounted section oriented to be contacted and displaced by the hand of a person manipulating the lever by employing the knob as a handle. A pair of contacts are brought into engagement by the displaced section. When the knob is released, the resilient section is restored to a position in which the contacts are no longer engaged and the switch is open. The illustrative embodiment is utilized to actuate an electrically released clutch for a gear train controlled by the gear shift lever upon which the knob is mounted.
An object of the present invention is to close a switch upon any manual manipulation of a knob on a lever.
Another object is to enhance the reliability of switch operation of a unitary knob and switch.
A further object is to reduce the complexity and expense of construction and maintenance of a unitary knob and switch.
In accordance with the above objects, one feature of the invention resides in actuating switch contacts within a knob by means of an annulus forming a section of the knob and resiliently mounted for movement with respect to the remaining portions of the knob body.
A second feature involves a switch contact construction of concentric contacts wherein the radial motion of one contact over a limited distance in any direction in a plane brings it into engagement with the other contact.
A third feature comprises a combination of an outer cylindrical contact concentric with an inner, disc-like, annular contact for a switch responsive to displacement of the outer contact.
A fourth feature includes the utilization of a resilient torus as the restoring and centering means for the switch actuator and outer contact in .a unitary knob and switch. The above and additional objects and features will be more fully appreciated from the following detailed description when read with reference to the accompanying drawing in which:
FIG. 1 is a partially broken away plan view of a unitary knob and switch according to this invention.
FIG. 2 is a sectioned elevation of the unitary knob and switch of FIG. 1 as viewed along the lines 22 of FIG. 1 showing its arrangement for mounting on the end of a lever.
The invention is illustrated in the drawing .as a unitary knob and switch for the gear shift lever of a vehicle such as a truck having an electrically operated clutch coupling the engine to the transmission. The knob of this embodiment is of a form to fit comfortably in the hand of the operator and for this purpose is generally oval in cross section as shown in FIG. 2. It is arranged such that when grasped for the purpose of shifting gears the electrical switch which it contains is closed without any conscious effort on the part of the operator. For this purpose the knob is provided with a base and top section which are stationary with respect to a pedestal which provides a support for the elements of the knob and a conpling between the knob and the gear shift lever. A mov able region intermediate the base and top of the knob arranged as a band encompassing the longitudinal axis of the lever functions as a switch actuator for electrical contacts within the knob.
In order to facilitate the movement of the actuator or region when the knob is grasped, it is formed to generally fair into the top and base of the knob with a portion of its external surface parallel with the longitudinal axis of the supporting pedestal and an upper portion converging with that axis. The imposition of a downwardly or transversely directed net force on the knob that results in a component tending to shift the intermediate region transversely of the longitudinal axis of the pedestal. Such shifting of the region or switch actuator moves the movable contact against the stationary contact to close the switch made up of those contacts. The contacts are restored to their separated relationship when the knob is released by the operator by a resilient biasing means tending to return the inter-mediate region and the movable contact to their open switch position.
A knob 11 of some suitable electrically non-conductive material such as molded nylon is illustrated. The knob is circular in plan view and of convenient size to be grasped in the hand. It is composed of a base 12, a top 13, and an intermediate region 14. The intermediate region protrudes beyond the base and top and has a maximum diameter at the lower limit of its skirt 15 exceeding the maximum diameter of the upper limit of base 12. The upper limits of the intermediate region 14 also are of greater diameter than the maximum diameter of the top 13 whereby any grasping of the knob to move the lever transverse of its axis will tend to impose a greater force on one portion of the periphery of the intermediate region than on other opposed portions.
Intermediate region 14 is made up in a generally annular form and has an uppermost annular plane surface 16 from which the outer ski-rt .15 and an inner skirt 1'7 depend. A plurality of radial stiffening webs 18 extend between the inner and outer skirts. An inner annular region 19 extends from the inner skirt 17 to a termination at a flange 21 forming a right circular cylinder concentric with the longitudinal axis of the knob 11. Flange 21 provides a mounting for an annular contact 22 of a suitable conductive material such as beryllium copper. The intersection of skirt 17 and inner annulus 1 9 has a radius corresponding to that of the cross section of torus 23 and provides an outer and lower seat for that torus.
Knob base 12 is sustained on pedestal 24, advantageously of machined metal, and is secured thereto in the molding of the base. Pedestal 24 is of irregular and generally cylindrical form and includes a tapped bore 25 adapted to be threaded upon the end of a lever (not shown). Two undercut regions 26 and knurled surfaces 27 between those regions insure an effective bond and interlock between the knob base 12 and pedestal 24. The upper portions of pedestal 24 are arranged to mount and secure the top 13 of the knob and a stationary annular contact 28. Pedestal 24 is reduced to a diameter less than the outer diameter of annular contact 28 in the region above that in which it is engaged by base 12 so that the contact protrudes beyond the pedestal. It is reduced in cross section to a diameter fitting within the open center of contact 28 to provide a seat 29 for that contact. The top 13 of the knob is seated against the upper surface of contact 28 and is secured by a lock ring 31 fitted within the undercut 32 adjacent the top of pedestal 24.
Base 12, as intermediate region 14 and top 13 of the knob body, is of a suitablejnsulating material and advantageously can be molded of nylon. It includes a cylindrical core 33 embracing the pedestal 24 and a skirt extending outwardly and upward. Stitfening webs 34 extend between core 33 and the skirt and have portions which project above the remainder of the base to engage the underside of the inner annulus 19 of region 14 to provide bearing surfaces upon which region 14 is supported and across which it can be moved. I A head 36 on the upper periphery of the skirt for base 12 also provides support for region 14 permitting movement of that region transverse of the longitudinal axis of the knob, and provides a barrier to the admission of foreign matter to the interior of the knob and to the switch contacts.
The top 13 of the knob also has a cylindrical core 37 closely fitting the upper section of pedestal 24 and a recess 38 having a bottom which is aligned with undercut 32 to enable the bottom of lock ring 31 to bear against the bottom and retain the top, the contacts and the intermediate section 14 in assembled relationship. A frictionally retained cap 39 fits into recess 38 to cover lock ring 31 and provide a finished appearance to the knob.
Top 13 has an outwardly flaring skirt which fairs into the skirt 15 and the skirt of base 12 to define a conventional knob contour. A flange 41 depends from skirt 40 to form a cylinder fitting within and concentric with inner skirt 17 of intermediate region 14. The lower limit of flange 41 has a convex, outer, peripheral groove 47 with a radius of curvature corresponding to the radius of the cross section of torus 23/ Groove 47 provides an upperand inner seat for torus 23 by spanning an arc subtending about 90 and diametrically opposed to the outer seat formed at the intersection of skirt 17 and annulus 19.
With all external forces relieved, the knob elements assume the relationship shown in the drawing wherein region 14 and its movable contact 22 are concentric with the pedestal 24, top 13 and stationary contact 28. This relationship is established by the resilience of the torus 23 which advantageously can be an O-ring of 40 to durometer. The O-ring tends to maintain a uniform cross-section over its entire length and thereby to maintain a uniform separation of flange 41 from skirt 17 and contact 22 from contact 28 around their entire length.
When the knob is grasped, an uneven force is applied to the intermediate region 14 tending to displace it from its concentric position. This tendency is enhanced by the slight protrusion of region 14 beyond the fixed surfaces of the knob, e.g., in one embodiment the maximum outer diameter of region 14 is 2.375 inches and that of base 12 is 2.312 inches. Any effort to apply a transverse force to the lever, as in shifting gears insures the displacement of region 14 relative to the pedestal, the compression of one portion of O-ring 23 and the engagement of the cylindrical wall of contact 22 with the edge of contact 28.
An electrical circuit is afforded from the lever through pedestal 24 to contact 28 so that a signal is passed through electrical conductor 42 from movable contact 22 by terminal 43 extending through a suitable aperture 44 in annulus 19. Conductor 42 is anchored within the knob by carrying it through an aperture 45 in the skirt of base 12 around the portion of pedestal 24 protruding above base 12 to the terminal 43 to which it can be secured as by solder. Rotation of intermediate region 14 and the unwinding of conductor 42 from around pedestal 24 is prevented by key 46 which projects downward from the lower surface of annulus 19 and fits between the webs 34 of base 12.
Thus the cylindrical contact is movable parallel to the major plane of the annular disc contact to engage its walls with the disc edge and complete a circuit which can actuate an electrically operated control when an external force is applied transverse of the axis of the knob. While the knob-switch combination has been illustrated to respond as a single switch closure through the application of an unbalance of forces in any direction transverse of the knob axis, it is to be appreciated that the switch could be directionally sensitive as by dividing either the cylindrical or disc electrodes into sections forming electrically isolated contacts and by separating the conductive paths to those contacts so that force in one direction would close a switch for a circuit different from that for another direction.
The form of the knob illustrated can be altered and its internal structure modified without departing fro-m either the spirit or scope of this invention. Accordingly, it is to be understood that the described arrangement of elements is set forth as illustrative of the invention and not in a limiting sense.
Having described the invention, I claim:
1. In combination, a knob, a pedestal internally supporting said knob, a contact supported on said pedestal in fixed relation thereto, a movable contact having conductive portions distributed around said fixed contact in a plane normal to the longitudinal axis of said pedestal, means resiliently biasing said movable contact to a position spaced from said fixed contact, first and second spaced regions of the surface of said knob being fixed on said pedestal, and a third region of said knob fixedly supporting said movable contact with respect thereto and having a surface intermediate said first and second regions, said third region being movable normal to the longitudinal axis of said pedestal.
2. A combination according to claim 1 wherein said third region of the surface of said knob extends around the longitudinal axis of said pedestal.
3. A combination according to claim 1 wherein the surface of said third region extends around the longitudinal axis of said pedestal and protrudes outwardly from said axis beyond said adjacent first and second regions.
4. A combination according to claim 1 wherein said means resiliently biasing said movable contact to a position spaced from said fixed contact comprises a torus, a first seat for said torus fixed with respect to said pedestal and a second seat for said torus in fixed relation to said movable contact and having portions diametrically opposed across the cross section of said torus to portions of said first seat.
5. In combination a knob, a pedestal internally supporting said knob, a knob base fixedly secured to said pedestal; a knob top fixedly secured to said pedestal, a region of said knob having an exposed surface extending around the longitudinal axis of said pedestal intermediate and independent of said base and said top, said region being mounted on said pedestal for movement with respect thereto in a plane normal to the longitudinal axis of the pedestal, said surface of said region protruding beyond the surfaces of said base and said top, a stationary contact supported on said pedestal, a movable contact supported on said region, said stationary and movable contacts lying in a common plane normal to the longitudinal axis of said pedestal and having opposed surfaces spaced within the range of movement of said movable contact which are circular in said plane, and means resiliently biasing said movable contact to a position concentric with said stationary contact.
6. A unitary knob and switch adapted for mounting on the end of a lever which is shiftable transversely of its axis comprising a pedestal; means to secure said pedestal to said lever; a knob base fixedly secured to said pedestal; a knob top fixedly secured to said pedestal; a region of said knob having an exposed surface extending around the longitudinal axis of said pedestal intermediate and independent of said base and top, said region being mounted on said pedestal for movement with respect thereto; said knob base, intermediate region and top forming a generally oval cross section; said intermediate region having a surface portion parallel to the longitudinal axis of said pedestal and a surface portion converging with said axis adjacent said top, whereby a component of force transverse of said axis is developed on said section when said knob is grasped at its top; a contact support on said pedestal in fixed relation thereto; a movable contact having conductive portions distributed around said fixed contact in a plane normal to the longitudinal axis of said pedestal and supported on said region in fixed relation thereto; and means resiliently maintaining said movable contact spaced from said fixed contact and yieldable to permit motion of said movable contact into engagement with said fixed contact.
7. A unitary knob and switch adapted for mounting on the end of a lever which is shiftable transversely of its axis comprising a pedestal; means to secure said pedestal to said lever; a knob base secured to said pedestal; a knob top secured to said pedestal; a region of said knob intermediate said base and top and mounted on said pedestal for movement with respect thereto; said knob base, intermediate region, and top forming a generally oval cross section; said intermediate region having a surface portion parallel to the longitudinal axis of said pedestal and a surface portion converging with said axis adjacent said top whereby a component of force transverse of said axis is developed on said section when said knob is grasped at its top; an O-ring of an elastomer; an inner seat for said O-ring concentric with the longitudinal axis of said pedestal and fixed with respect to said pedestal; an
outer seat for said O-ring on said intermediate region of said knob; a first contact fixedly mounted on said pedestal; a second contact fixedly mounted on said intermediate region of said knob and surrounding said first contact in a plane normal to the longitudinal axis of said pedestal, said second contact being spaced from said first contact when no external force is applied to said region and engaging said first contact when said knob is grasped in a manner to impose a net force on one side of said region transverse of the longitudinal axis of said pedestal.
References Cited by the Examiner FOREIGN PATENTS 44,896 9/1961 Poland. 865,539 4/1961 Great Britain. 892,380 3/1962 Great Britain.
BERNARD A. GILHEANY, Primary Examiner.
I. J. BAKER, Assistant Examiner.
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