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Title:
BATTERY BUCKET
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2011/090458
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A battery bucket includes a battery receptacle to collect and store a plurality of batteries therein and the battery bucket further includes an integrated battery tester to test the batteries to determine the energy level of the batteries. In a specific embodiment, the battery bucket further includes a battery tester with a spring clamp mechanism for securely clamping the batteries placed into the tester mechanism. In another embodiment, the battery bucket further includes an attachment mechanism for attaching and detaching the battery tester to and from the battery bucket whereby the battery tester may be applied to test the batteries either attached to the battery bucket or detached from the battery bucket. In another embodiment, the battery bucket further includes signage to inform consumers on how to dispose of and recycle the batteries.

Inventors:
KLEIN, Vern (1161 Ringwood Court, Suite 80San Jose, CA, 95131, US)
Application Number:
US2010/000856
Publication Date:
July 28, 2011
Filing Date:
March 24, 2010
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
EU3C COMPANY, LIMITED (1161 Ringwood Court, Suite 80San Jose, CA, 95131, US)
KLEIN, Vern (1161 Ringwood Court, Suite 80San Jose, CA, 95131, US)
International Classes:
A47G21/14
Foreign References:
US5651821A1997-07-29
US4020243A1977-04-26
US20040160225A12004-08-19
US5072833A1991-12-17
US4514695A1985-04-30
US7088642B22006-08-08
US5030106A1991-07-09
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LIN, Bo-In (13445 Mandoli Drive, Los Altos Hills, CA, 94022, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

I claim:

1. A battery bucket comprising: a battery receptacle to collect and store a plurality of batteries therein; and

an integrated battery tester to test the batteries to determine an energy level of the batteries.

2. The battery bucket of claim 1 wherein: the battery tester to test the batteries to determine energy level of the batteries further comprises a spring clamp mechanism to securely clamp the batteries into the battery tester mechanism.

3. The battery bucket of claim 1 further comprising: an attachment mechanism for attaching and detaching the battery tester to and from the battery bucket whereby the battery tester may be applied to test the batteries either attached to the battery bucket or detached from the battery bucket.

4. The battery bucket of claim 1 further comprising: a signage to inform consumers on how to dispose of and recycle the batteries.

5. The battery bucket of claim 1 wherein: the battery tester further comprises contact elements configured to conveniently contact the positive and negative terminals of batteries of different shapes and sizes to test the batteries. The battery bucket of claim 1 wherein: the battery tester further comprises an electrical current sensor with circuit connection to a plurality of contact elements for measuring a current when a battery under test is disposed to contact the contact elements.

The battery bucket of claim 2 wherein: the clamping mechanism further includes a spring clamping mechanism comprises a set of springs and the battery tester further comprises a set of movable grips for deploying the spring clamping mechanism to clamp the battery.

The battery bucket of claim 7 wherein: the battery tester further comprises a set of movable telescoping arms linked to the movable grips to adjust a testing aperture appropriate for testing barrel batteries of various sizes.

The battery bucket of claim 1 wherein: the battery tester further comprises a set of contact elements disposed on an edge surface of the battery tester to test post and collar type batteries.

The battery bucket of claim 1 wherein: the battery tester further comprises a set of contact elements disposed on two opposite surfaces of a movable part of the battery tester for adjusting a distance between the contact elements to contact and test button type batteries. The battery bucket of claim 1 wherein: the battery tester further comprises a plurality sets of contact elements disposed on different parts of the battery tester and a set of circuits for connecting different contact elements to corresponding sides of a coil element for testing a battery by placing terminals of the battery on one set of the contact elements to generate an electrical current through the coil element to actuate a current sensor measurement needle.

The battery bucket of claim 2 wherein: the spring clamping mechanism further comprises a press-and-release spring portion for squeezing and opening a battery testing aperture to load a battery to the clamping mechanism and for releasing and closing the battery testing aperture to clamp the battery tightly in the spring clamping mechanism.

The battery bucket of claim 3 wherein: the attachment mechanism for attaching and detaching the battery tester to and from the battery bucket further comprises a tongue and groove mechanism with a tongue and groove component disposed on a lid of the battery bucket and a corresponding tongue and groove component disposed on anther underside of the battery tester for sliding the battery tester onto and attaching to the lid of the battery bucket.

The battery bucket of claim 1 wherein: the battery receptacle further comprises a compartment to collect and store a plurality of good batteries. The battery bucket of claim 2 wherein: the clamping mechanism further includes a geared clamping mechanism comprises mutually engaged toothed wheels and toothed levers and the battery tester further comprises an adjustment control screw for controlling and deploying the geared clamping mechanism to clamp the battery.

A battery tester comprises: a plurality of contact elements configured to conveniently contact the positive and negative terminals of batteries of different shapes and sizes to test the batteries; an electrical current sensor with circuit connection to the plurality of contact elements for measuring a current when a battery under test is disposed to contact the contact elements; and a clamp mechanism to securely clamp the batteries into the battery tester.

The battery tester of claim 16 further comprising: a set of movable grips for deploying the clamping mechanism to clamp the battery.

The battery tester of claim 17 further comprising: a set of movable telescoping arms linked to the movable grips to adjust a testing aperture appropriate for testing barrel batteries of various sizes.

The battery tester of claim 14 wherein: two of the plurality of contact elements are disposed on an edge surface of the battery tester to test post and collar type batteries.

20. The battery tester of claim 14 wherein: two of the plurality of contact elements are disposed on two opposite surfaces of a movable part of the battery tester for adjusting a distance between the contact elements to contact and test button type batteries.

21. The battery tester of claim 14 wherein: the contact elements are disposed on different parts of the battery tester and a set of circuits for connecting different contact elements to corresponding sides of a coil element for testing a battery by placing terminals of the battery on one set of the contact elements to generate an electrical current through the coil element to actuate a current sensor measurement needle.

22. The battery tester of claim 16 wherein: the spring clamping mechanism further comprises a press-and-release spring portion for squeezing and opening a battery testing aperture to load a battery to the clamping mechanism and for releasing and closing the battery testing aperture to clamp the battery tightly in the spring clamping mechanism.

Description:
BATTERY BUCKET

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates generally to apparatus and methods for recycling batteries. More particularly, this invention is related to a container apparatus, which includes an integrated battery tester and a receptacle for spent batteries. The apparatus is used to conveniently test batteries, and to provide an attractive receptacle for collecting spent batteries prior to proper disposal and recycling.

2. Description of the Prior Art Even with heightened consciousness of the importance of environmental protection, conservation of natural resources and recycling of used materials, consumers and a great multitude of battery users are still not provided with

convenient and effective ways to collect, store, test and recycle their used batteries. There is an urgent need to resolve this limitation due to the great number of batteries sold and used each year worldwide. After their useful life, most batteries are simply discarded with the normal trash and not recycled due to the lack of a convenient way to store and recycle the batteries. Yet, batteries are considered hazardous because of the metals and /or other toxic or corrosive materials contained within them. Batteries also have value due to their recyclable metal content. Many people desire to, in general, recycle, reduce waste, and dispose of their refuse properly, including their worn out batteries. Until now, however, many people are not aware of the fact that batteries should be recycled and /or disposed of properly, nor do they have at their disposal a convenient and efficient mechanism to collect, store, test and recycle their used batteries.

Bean et al. disclose in Patent 6,618,644 an apparatus to provide a convenient way for the consumer to recycle used batteries. The apparatus is a self-contained station or kiosk that accepts used batteries from a consumer and dispenses one or both of fully charged batteries and credit for the used battery to the consumer. The method determines one or more of chemistry, recharge-ability and condition of the used battery, assigns a credit value to the used battery, and dispenses a form of credit based on the assigned credit value. That present invention recycles one or both of used rechargeable and used non-rechargeable batteries and separately dispenses fully charged batteries. Used rechargeable batteries are recharged and reused, and used non-rechargeable batteries are collected for proper disposal according to regulations. This apparatus may be useful to recycle used batteries at the station or kiosk; however consumers are still not provided with a convenient apparatus in their home or office to collect, store, test and recycle used batteries before bringing the batteries to the station or kiosk.

Therefore a need still exists to provide an apparatus suitable for daily and home use for regular consumers to conveniently and effectively test used batteries, then collect, store and recycle spent batteries such that the above discussed limitations and demands can be satisfied.

SUMMARY OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

It is therefore a first aspect of the present invention to provide a battery bucket which is a convenient receptacle to collect and store spent batteries prior to disposing of or recycling properly.

A specific aspect of the present invention is to provide a battery bucket with instructions, website and locations for recycling the spent batteries. The battery bucket may include signage information which guides the consumer on how to recycle, or properly dispose of, their spent batteries. For instance, the signage may contain a website address that the consumer can visit to obtain more information on where to bring the batteries to have them recycled. The information thus helps the consumer to dispose of the batteries at the designated locations according to instruction, allowing for the proper recycling of the spent batteries when the Battery Bucket is full, instead of discarding the batteries in the normal trash.

Another aspect of the present invention is to provide a battery bucket such that the spent batteries are received and recycled as a batch when the battery bucket is full. The consumers can take action to dispose of the spent batteries in an appropriate manner all at one time, instead of processing them one by one.

Anther aspect of the present invention is to provide a battery bucket with an integrated battery tester to allow the consumers to test their batteries before discarding to ensure a used battery has indeed exhausted the stored energy entirely.

Briefly, in a preferred embodiment, the present invention discloses a battery bucket including a battery receptacle to collect and store a plurality of batteries therein and the battery bucket further includes an integrated battery tester to test the batteries to determine an energy level of the batteries. In a specific embodiment, the battery bucket further includes a spring clamp mechanism integrated in the battery tester for securely clamping the batteries tested therein. In another embodiment, the battery bucket further includes an attachment mechanism for attaching and detaching the battery tester to and from the battery bucket whereby the battery tester may be applied to test the batteries either attached to the battery bucket or detached from the battery bucket. In another embodiment, the battery bucket further includes signage to inform a consumer on how to dispose of and recycle the batteries. In another embodiment, the battery tester further comprises contact elements configured to conveniently contact the positive and negative terminals of batteries of different shapes and sizes to test the batteries. In another embodiment, the battery tester further comprises an electrical current sensor with circuit connection to a plurality of contact elements for measuring a current when a battery under test is disposed to contact the contact elements. In another embodiment, the clamping mechanism further includes a spring clamping mechanism comprises a set of springs and the battery tester further comprises a set of movable grips for deploying the spring clamping mechanism to clamp the battery. In another embodiment, the battery tester further comprises a set of movable telescoping arms linked to the movable grips to adjust a testing aperture appropriate for testing barrel batteries of various sizes. In another embodiment, the battery tester further comprises a set of contact elements disposed on an edge surface of the battery tester to test a post and collar type of batteries. In another embodiment, the battery tester further comprises a set of contact elements disposed on two opposite surfaces of a movable part of the battery tester for adjusting a distance between the contact elements to contact and test button type batteries. In another embodiment, the battery tester further comprises a plurality of contact elements disposed on different parts of the battery tester and a set of circuits for connecting different contact elements to corresponding sides of a coil element for testing a battery by placing terminals of the battery on one set of the contact elements to generate an electrical current through the coil element to actuate a current sensor measurement needle. In another embodiment, the spring clamping mechanism further comprises a press-and-release spring portion for squeezing and opening a battery testing aperture to load a battery to the clamping mechanism and for releasing and closing the battery testing aperture to clamp the battery tightly in the spring clamping mechanism. In another embodiment, the attachment mechanism for attaching and detaching the battery tester to and from the battery bucket further comprises a tongue and groove mechanism with a tongue and groove component disposed on a lid of the battery bucket and a corresponding tongue and groove component disposed on the underside of the battery tester for sliding the battery tester onto and attaching to the lid of the battery bucket. In another

embodiment, the battery receptacle further comprises a compartment to collect and store a plurality of good batteries. In another embodiment, the clamping mechanism further includes a geared clamping mechanism comprises mutually engaged toothed wheels and toothed levers and the battery tester further comprises adjustment control screw for controlling and deploying the geared clamping mechanism to clamp the battery.

These and other objects and advantages of the present invention will no doubt become obvious to those of ordinary skill in the art after having read the following detailed description of the preferred embodiment which is illustrated in the various drawing figures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Figure 1 shows the battery bucket of this invention integrated with a battery receptacle, battery tester and signage to inform a consumer on how to dispose of and recycle the batteries.

Figure 2 shows the battery tester detached from the battery bucket. Figure 3 shows the mechanism of an extending movable arm of the battery tester with an adjustable distance from another fixed arm as an adjustable battery testing aperture being used to test the barrel type batteries. Figure 4 shows the contact elements disposed and positioned on a side surface of the battery tester being used to test the post and collar type batteries.

Figure 5 shows the contact elements of the battery tester being used provided to test the button type batteries.

Figure 6 is a sectional view of the battery tester for showing the circuitry employed connected between the different sets of contact elements to the coil of a current detector. Figures 7a and 7b are sectional views of the battery tester for showing the spring clamp mechanism and Figs. 7C and 7D show the geared clamp mechanism used to clamp batteries securely in the battery tester.

Fig. 8 shows the battery tester's attachment mechanism which is used to attach and detach the battery tester to and from the battery bucket.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Fig. 1 shows a Battery Bucket that includes three main elements. The first main element is the bucket, 101, which is a receptacle for housing spent batteries but can also include compartments, a compartment for depositing spent batteries and another compartment for depositing good batteries. The bucket can be made of various materials including, but not limited to plastic, wood or metal. The bucket may, or may not, have a lid, 102, handle, 103, or slot opening, 104-1, for depositing spent batteries and a slot opening 104-2 for depositing good batteries into the receptacle. The lid handle and slot openings could take on many forms. The bucket could comprise a variety of shapes such as a cube, a cylinder, etc., and may, or may not, have a base. The second main element is the battery tester, 105. The battery tester is used to measure the charge remaining in the battery. The battery tester is integrated with the bucket. In one embodiment it is attached to the lid, although it could be attached to the body of the bucket or its base. The third main element is the signage, 106, incorporated with the bucket. The signage provides instructions on where to find more information about recycling and/ or disposing of the spent batteries.

Fig. 2 shows a battery tester 105 detached from the battery bucket shown in Fig. 1 that the battery tester comprises various contact elements, 10, 11, 12, 20, 21, 22 for contacting different electrodes of batteries to perform the battery tests for batteries of different sizes and configurations. The battery tester further includes, a meter, 30, to indicate the test results. As will be further described below, the battery tester further includes grips for deploying the spring clamp mechanism, 40, 41, and an attachment mechanism, 50, used to attach and detach the battery tester to and from the battery bucket. Various The battery tester is provided to test various battery types can be tested by touching positioning their the positive and negative contacts electrodes to tightly contact the appropriate contacts contact elements 10, 11, 12, 20, 21, 22 on the battery tester and reading the meter that indicates the energy level of the battery under test in a well recognized manner.

Figure 3 shows the mechanism and structures on the battery tester, 105, for adjusting the relative positions of how a barrel type battery can be tested by squeezing the grips, 40 and, 41, and thereby causing to move the a movable telescoping arm, 60-M relative to a fixed telescoping arm 60-F to allow an adjustable testing, to extend, allowing the aperture to be appropriate for the testing of various barrel shaped batteries of various sizes.

Figure 4 shows the contact elements 12 and 22 disposed on an edge surface of the tester 105 and method the contact elements are specifically configured used to test the post and collar type batteries, such as the popular standard 9V battery.

Figure 5 shows the contact elements, 21 and 11 disposed positioned on two opposite surfaces at the bottom of a base and the movable telescoping arm 60-M respectively. The distance between the contact elements 11 and 21 can be adjusted by moving the grips 40 and 41 with a clamping mechanism and method to clamp and used to test the button type batteries. Figure 6 shows that all the contact elements, 10, 11, 12, 20, 21, 22, in the tester, 105, are connected by leads, 70, to one side or the other, an opposite side of a coil element, 71. As the batteries are properly placed with the positive and negative electrodes of the battery in contact with the contact elements, the battery under test provides an, which corresponds to electrical current to actuate a needle, 72 of the battery tester, which is used to gage the energy capacity still stored in the used battery according to the strength of the current the current detected. More specifically, contact elements 20, 21, and 22 are used to connect to the positive terminals of the battery under test and contact elements 10, 11, and 12 are used to connect to the corresponding negative terminals. By connecting a battery's negative and positive terminals into the battery tester, an electrical circuit is formed and the current detected will be reflected is indicated on the meter, 30, thus providing the user with feedback a measurement of on the energy remaining in the battery.

Figures 7a and 7b show an inner spring mechanism in the battery tester, 105, used to create the clamping mechanism that allows batteries to be securely clamped in place while they are being tested. Squeezing together the grips, 40, 41, puts pressure on the spring mechanism 42, thus causing the telescoping arm, 60-M, to extend outward to form the correct aperture size for the battery to be tested. Once the battery is inserted into the aperture, squeezing pressure on the grips, 40, 41, can cease, causing the telescoping arm, 60-M, to clamp down on the battery under test. Figs. 7C and 7D show an alternate embodiment. The spring mechanism 42 is now replaced with an aperture adjustment mechanism by a gear that implements mutually engaged toothed wheels 42' and toothed levers 49 controlled by a screw 41'.

Figure 8 shows the attachment mechanism used to attach and detach the battery tester to and from the battery bucket. A tongue and groove mechanism is deployed for this purpose. A tongue and groove component, 51, is built into the lid of battery bucket, 102. Also, a tongue and groove component is built onto the underside of the battery tester, 105. The tongue and groove component of the battery tester is slid into the tongue and groove component on the lid of the battery bucket so that tongue 52 insets into groove 53, and tongue 54 inserts into groove 55. The battery tester slides into place on the lid until the bump 56 on the battery tester snaps into the notch, 57, on the lid, locking it into place. To release the battery tester from the lid, upward pressure is placed on the lever, 50, which causes the bump, 56, to rise above the notch, 57, and allowing the battery tester to be slid away from the battery bucket lid.

Although the present invention has been described in terms of the presently preferred embodiment, it is to be understood that such disclosure is not to be interpreted as limiting. Various alternations and modifications will no doubt become apparent to those skilled in the art after reading the above disclosure. Accordingly, it is intended that the appended claims be interpreted as covering all alternations and modifications as fall within the true spirit and scope of the invention.