DUNCAN, Douglas, Malcolm (1344 Spyker Crescent, Stormill Ext 2 Florida, 1709 Roodepoort, ZA)
DUNCAN, Grant, Malcolm (1344 Spyker Crescent, Stormill Ext 2 Florida, 1709 Roodepoort, ZA)
DUNCAN, Douglas, Malcolm (1344 Spyker Crescent, Stormill Ext 2 Florida, 1709 Roodepoort, ZA)
DUNCAN, Grant, Malcolm (1344 Spyker Crescent, Stormill Ext 2 Florida, 1709 Roodepoort, ZA)
1. A signalling device for imparting tactile information to a rider of a motorcycle which includes vibrating apparatus, a mechanism for securing the vibrating apparatus to a handlebar of the motorcycle and an actuator which is operable to cause operation of the vibrating apparatus which thereby imparts vibration to the handlebar which is discernable by the rider.
2. A signalling device according to claim 1 in which the vibrating apparatus is an electric motor and which includes a member which is connected to the motor, and a weight, eccentrically rotatable by the motor, for imparting vibration to the member.
3. A signalling device according to claim 2 wherein the member is a sleeve which is radially expansible.
4. A signalling device according to claim 3 which includes an insert which is engageable with a close fit with an interior of the sleeve and which is movable, in an axial direction relative to the sleeve, thereby to expand the sleeve radially outwardly.
5. A signalling device according to claim 4 which includes a shaft which extends through the insert and wherein the motor is mounted to one end of the shaft.
6. A signalling device according to claim 5 which includes a cap which is engageable with a housing of the motor which thereby forms a volume within which the weight is rotatably located.
7. A signalling device according to claim 1 , used for generating tactile information on the status of a motorcycle turn indicator, wherein the actuator is a switch in the indicator with a first position which is associated with a left turn, a second position which is associated with a neutral mode and a third position which is associated with a right turn, and wherein the vibrating apparatus is activated when the switch is in the first position or in the third position and is not activated when the switch is in the second position.
8. A signalling device according to claim 1 which includes a controller for adjusting the operation of the vibrating apparatus so that vibrations produced by the apparatus are discernable from vibrations produced by the motorcycle.
9. A signalling device according to claim 1 wherein the actuator is responsive to an externally transmitted signal, or to the operation of at least one instrument on the motorcycle.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 This invention relates to a signalling device which generates tactile information for use by a motorcyclist.
 Indicator lights on a motorcycle are actuable by means of a manually operable switch. Typically the switch has a central neutral position and is movable by a user, with a thumb action, to a left position to indicate turning movement to the left and, conversely, to the right to indicate turning movement in that direction. In each instance the switch must be returned to the neutral position by appropriate manual action for, generally, an indicator switch is not self-cancelling.
 A motorcycle rider should at all times watch the road and even a brief glance by the rider, to establish that the indictor switch is in a neutral position, can have adverse safety consequences. Thus most motorcycle riders rely on touch and experience only to ensure that the indicator switch is in a neutral position. This approach however is not necessarily reliable and, as a consequence, a traffic indicator light can be left flashing for an extended period of time or the light can be left off when it should, in fact, be flashing.
 A similar situation arises when it is necessary to alert a motorcyclist to an external event or incident in that it can be difficult to attract the attention of the motorcyclist. The motorcycle, itself, generates noise and usually the motorcyclist's attention is fixed on the road. For example a colleague on another motorcycle might wish to attract the attention of the motorcyclist. Unless a two-way communication link exists, which is expensive and which requires instalment in a crash helmet or the like, it is usually only with luck that one can attract the attention of a motorcyclist.
 An object of the invention is to provide a device which addresses the aforementioned problems.
SUMMARY OF INVENTION
 The invention provides a signalling device for imparting tactile information to a rider of a motorcycle which includes vibrating apparatus, a mechanism for securing the vibrating apparatus to a handlebar of the motorcycle and an actuator which is operable to cause operation of the vibrating apparatus which thereby imparts vibration to the handlebar which is discernable by the rider.
 The vibrating apparatus may take on any appropriate form and in one example of the invention is a solid-state device. Any appropriate electromagnetically operated vibrating apparatus may however be employed. In a preferred form of the invention the vibrating apparatus includes an electric motor and a weight which is eccentrically rotatable by the motor thereby to generate vibrations.
 The signalling device may include a member to which the electric motor is connected.
 The member may be directly connected to the motor, e.g. to a housing thereof, or indirectly e.g. through the medium of one or more components.
 Preferably the member is a tubular sleeve of a suitable shape and size so that it can be inserted into a bore in a tubular handle bar of the motorcycle, with a close fit.  An inner surface of the sleeve may be tapered and the sleeve may have a longitudinally-extending split.
 The signalling device may include an insert which is engageable with a close fit with an interior of the sleeve. The insert may be movable in an axial direction relative to the sleeve thereby to expand the sleeve radially outwardly.
 A shaft may extend through the insert and the motor may be mounted to one end of the shaft. The shaft may be rotatable so that the insert is thereby used to expand the sleeve radially.
 A cap which is engageable with the motor may form a volume within which the weight is rotatably located.
 The signalling device finds particular application for generating tactile information on the status of a motorcycle turn indicator wherein the actuator is a switch in the indicator with a first position which is associated with a left turn, a second position which is associated with a neutral mode, and a third position which is associated with a right turn. The vibration apparatus is then activated when the switch is in the first position or in the third position, and is not activated when the switch is in the second position.
 Traffic indicator lights, on the motorcycle, may be pulsed at a regular rate when the switch is in the first position or in the third position. The electric motor may then be pulsed at the same rate. Clearly though the frequency of vibration, which is dependent at least on the rotational speed of the motor, may differ substantially from the pulse rate. Preferably the speed of rotation of the motor is variable so that the vibration frequency can be adjusted to ensure that the vibrations are readily discernable by the motorcyclist from vibrations which arise during operation of the motorcycle e.g. engine-dependent or road-dependent vibrations.
 In a different form of the invention the actuator is a small radio receiver or the like or any device which is operable in a wireless manner. A transmitter carried externally, for example by a colleague on another motorcycle, when actuated then transmits a signal to the receiver which causes the vibrating apparatus to be operated. The tactile information which is generated in response thereto is then capable of alerting the motorcyclist to an external event or enquiry.
 Another possibility is that instruments on the motorcycle can be linked to the vibrating apparatus. For example if the oil pressure drops, the fuel level is too low or if the motorcycle engine is operated at too high a speed then a signal is sent to the actuator which causes operation of the signalling device. The signal may be an electrical signal which, for example, causes closure of a relay or other switch and which thereby enables the vibrating apparatus to be operated.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 The invention is further described by way of examples with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:
Figure 1 illustrates a motorcycle to which a signalling device according to the invention is mounted;
Figure 2 is an enlarged perspective view, partly sectioned, of a handle grip on the motorcycle in which the signalling device is located;
Figure 3 illustrates circuit and constructional aspects of the signalling device; and Figure 4 shows in exploded form a particular embodiment of the signalling device. DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
 Figure 1 of the accompanying drawings illustrates a motorcycle 10 which includes a handlebar 12.
 Figure 2 shows a left handle grip 14 of the handlebar 12. A wing mirror 16 is mounted to the handlebar. A conventional clutch lever 18 is installed at a suitable location on the handlebar. The handle grip 14 extends from a free end 20 of the handlebar to a boss 22 which carries a three position traffic or turn indicator switch 24. A small light 26 source is energized when the switch is activated and emits a pulsing light, as is known in the art, to signal to a user of the motorcycle that the indicator system is in operation. A signalling device 28 (shown in dotted outline), is mounted to the handle grip.
 An electrical lead 30 extends to the switch. Referring to Figure 3 the lead includes three insulated conductors 30A, 30B and 30C.
 The signalling device 28 includes an electrically operable motor 32 which is mounted inside a tubular interior of the handle grip. The motor has projecting supports 34 which extend from a housing of the motor and which are expanded into tight frictional engagement with an inner surface 36 of the handle grip thereby to lock the motor 32 in position. The motor has a shaft 38 and a weight 40 is eccentrically mounted to the shaft. The switch 24 is connected to the motor via a connector block 44.
 The conductor 30A is connected to a battery 50 which is the battery normally carried by the motorcycle. The conductor 30B extends from the switch 24 to one or more left indicator lights 52. The conductor 30C extends from the switch 24 to one or more right indicator lights 54.  The switch 24 has a lever 56 which is thumb-operable by a rider of the motorcycle and which is movable to a first position at which contacts 58 are bridged thereby to connect the battery 50 to the lights 52. The switch is movable in a reverse direction to bridge contacts 60 thereby to connect the battery 50 to the lights 54. With the lever in a neutral or central position the contacts 58, and the contacts 60, are open circuited and neither the lights 52 nor the lights 54 are connected to the battery.
 The connector block 44 is connected to the conductor 30B via a first diode 62 and to the conductor 30C via a second diode 64. An electrical lead 66 extends from the block to the motor 32. An earth connection is made to the motor.
 If the lever 56 is moved to the left position the indicator lights 52 are actuated, in a flashing manner, by means of a flasher device 68 which is connected between the battery and the switch 24. At the same time as the flasher device opens and closes, electrical energy is applied, essentially in pulse form, through the diode 62 to the motor 32 which then runs in short bursts. Energy is not conducted to the lights 54 because of the blocking effect of the second diode 64. Similarly, if the lever is moved to the right position, the lights 54 are actuated in a flashing manner and electrical energy flows through the diode 64 to the motor 32 which, again, is actuated in a succession of bursts. The diode 62 prevents electrical energy from flowing to the lights 52.
 With each pulse of energy the motor 32 is caused to rotate at its rated speed. The weight 40 which is eccentrically mounted generates vibrations which are imparted directly to the handle grip via the supports 34. A user holding the grip thus feels a succession of vibratory impulses which, effectively, are delivered in bursts each time an indicator light is caused to flash. It is therefore possible for the user to ascertain, without looking at the switch 24 or the light 26, whether the switch is in an active or in a neutral position.
 The connector block 44 optionally includes a voltage controlling circuit 68 for changing the speed at which the motor is rotated so that the frequency of the vibrations produced by the motor is distinct from the frequency of vibrations which are produced by the motorcycle under different conditions of operation. For example the controller could include a variable resistor, actuable by a control button 68A on a housing of the switch 24, to adjust the voltage applied to the motor.
 The circuit shown in Figure 3 could, if required, be electrically isolated from the hazard lights circuit of the motorcycle but this is not essential. If there is no isolation then when the hazard lights are operating vibratory movement would be imparted to the handle grip.
 Figure 4 is a view in exploded form of a particular embodiment 10A of a signalling device adjacent an end 70 of a motorcycle handle bar 70A. The signalling device includes an electric motor 72 with external threads 74 on a housing 76 of the motor. A boss 78 projects to one side of the housing. A shaft 80 which extends to one side of the motor has threads 82 at its free end. Fixing structure 84 is engageable with the shaft.
 The structure 84 includes a frusto-conical insert 86 and a sleeve 88 which is in the form of two shells 88A and 88B respectively. The shells are loosely held together by means of a flexible band 90. At one end the shells are fixed by means of a spring clip, not shown, to a nut 92.  A passage 94 extends axially through the shaft. The insert 86 has a bore 96 and the shells 88A and 88B define a hollow interior 100 between them which is of complementary shape to an outer surface of the insert.
 An electrical lead 104 passes through an internally threaded passage 110 (shown in dotted outline) in the nut 92, and through the hollow interior 100, the bore 96 and the passage 94. This lead is used to provide electrical power to the motor 72.
 An axle 1 14 of the motor extends from the housing 76. Fixed to the axle is an eccentrically positioned weight 1 16.
 A seal 120 is provided in an annular groove 122 in an outer surface of the housing.
 The structure 84 is positioned on the shaft 80 and the threaded end 82 is loosely engaged with the nut 92. The insert 86 is positioned partly inside the sleeve. The structure 84 is then pushed into the hollow interior at the end 70. At this stage outer surfaces of the shell are in light frictional engagement with an inner surface of the handle bar. The housing 76 is then rotated to impart rotation to the shaft 80. The threaded end 82 is thereby screwed into the nut 92, which is then brought closer to the motor. The insert 86 is thus urged into the hollow interior of the sleeve and the sleeve is then radially expanded into tight frictional engagement with an inner surface of the handle bar. In this way the signalling device is neatly and securely locked to the handle bar with the housing 76 adjacent the end 70. A screw cap 130 is threadedly engaged with the housing to provide an enclosed space in which the weight 1 6 is rotatably positioned.
 The arrangement shown in Figure 4 considerably facilitates the installation of the signalling device in a motorcycle. Electrical connections are then made to the conductors leading to the switch 24. If the voltage controller and diodes are used then these can be positioned inside the housing 76 or in a separate housing which is also located inside the handle bar.
 When the motor is actuated the weight is eccentrically rotated about the axle. Vibrations result because of the imbalance of the rotating components. As the motor housing is fixed to the insert and the insert is tightly engaged with the sleeve which, in turn, is in close contact with the handle bar, the vibrations are imparted in an effective manner to the handle bar. A user holding the handle bar is thus immediately aware of the vibrations.
 The vibrations which are discernable by a rider of the motorcycle help considerably in reassuring the rider that the motorcycle is being correctly operated at least with respect to turn indicators. Other applications do however fall within the scope of the invention. For example, as is shown in Figure 3, a miniature radio receiver 200, of simple construction, may be mounted to the motorcycle at a convenient location e.g. inside the handlebar. When a signal is received the receiver, which is connected to the battery 50, causes closure of a switch 202, such as a relay, for a limited period and in this way the motor 32 is energised. This technique can be used to alert the motorcyclist to an external factor e.g. to a colleague, who operates the transmitter, who is trying to get the attention of the motorcyclist.
 The same principle can be used to alert the motorcyclist to other events which, typically, are related to the operation of the motorcycle itself. For example the motorcycle usually includes a fuel gauge, possibly an oil pressure gauge, a rev counter or the like. These instruments (collectively designated 204 in Figure 3) allow the motorcyclist to be reassured that the motorcycle is operating satisfactorily. If however a limiting condition is reached, for example if the engine temperature is too high or if the engine speed is too high or if the oil pressure drops, etc. then a signal from the instrument 204 is applied to the switch 202 and, again, the motor is energised. This simple procedure alerts the motorcyclist to an event and the motorcyclist can then check the instruments and take remedial action as may be appropriate.
 In the preceding description the vibrating apparatus is a motor which drives an eccentric weight. Other mechanisms for generating the vibrations can however be employed. For example a solid-state device could be employed. Another possibility is to make use of an electromagnetic device of the kind used in a bell ringer, to generate the vibrations. The invention is not limited in this respect.