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Title:
SWIMMER-PROPULSION UNITS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2011/083170
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A swimmer-propulsion unit (1) has a two-part hollow-cylindrical casing (2) with a front water-inlet (3) and a rear water-outlet (4) of a central water-flow duct. A pod (7) mounted axially of the inlet (3) houses an electric motor (12) and a container (13) for re-chargeable batteries that power the motor (12) via two switches (14). Powering of the motor (12) for direct drive to a "pusher" propeller (11) at the rear of the pod (7) within the duct, requires operation of both switches (14) by concurrent depression of spring-biased levers (9) mounted at hand-grips (8) on opposite sides of the casing (2). At the front of the pod (7) LEDs (17, 18) indicate respectively energising of the motor (12) and re-charging of the batteries via sockets (19). Radial arms (16) and vanes (20) support the pod (7) centrally within a ring (21) which is retained peripherally within an internal annular groove (22) of the casing (2), and which is assembled from two ring mouldings (23, 24) that are clamped together face-to-face and bring together front and rear parts of the pod-casing (10). Two units (1) may be joined alongside one another with common control for more power.

Inventors:
WHITE, Matthew (Ridgecote, Mill LaneBalcombe,Haywards Heath, Sussex RH17 6NP, GB)
Application Number:
EP2011/050237
Publication Date:
July 14, 2011
Filing Date:
January 10, 2011
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
MAYHEM UK LIMITED (140 Wales Farm Road, London W3 6UG, GB)
WHITE, Matthew (Ridgecote, Mill LaneBalcombe,Haywards Heath, Sussex RH17 6NP, GB)
International Classes:
A63B35/12; B63C11/46
Foreign References:
EP1977968A12008-10-08
EP1600369A22005-11-30
US3422785A1969-01-21
US3329118A1967-07-04
US2722021A1955-11-01
JPS4871597U1973-09-08
Other References:
None
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
COLES, Graham (Graham Coles & Co, 24 Seeleys RoadBeaconsfield, Buckinghamshire HP9 1SZ, GB)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims :

1. A swimmer-propulsion unit wherein a propeller for providing propulsive thrust of the unit is driven by an electric motor, the electric motor is housed within a pod that carries the propeller together with one or more batteries for energising the electric motor, and the pod is centrally mounted within a water-flow duct through an external casing of the unit.

2. A swimmer-propulsion unit according to Claim 1 wherein the motor is directly-coupled to the propeller.

3. A swimmer-propulsion unit according to Claim 1 or Claim 2 wherein the one or more batteries are retained within a container beneath the electric motor within the pod.

4. A swimmer-propulsion unit according to any one of Claims 1 to 3 wherein two hand-grips are located on the external casing one either side of the unit.

5. A swimmer-propulsion unit according to Claim 3 wherein the electric motor is energised from the one or more batteries via two selectively-operable switch-controls that are mounted with the hand-grips respectively on the external casing, the electric motor being energised from the one or more batteries only while both switch-controls are operated.

6. A swimmer-propulsion unit according to any one of Claims 1 to 5 wherein the pod is mounted on radial arms centrally of a ring that is clamped within the external casing.

7. A swimmer-propulsion unit according to Claim 6 wherein the ring is retained peripherally within an internal annular groove of the external casing.

8. A swimmer-propulsion unit according to Claim 7 wherein the ring and a casing of the pod are assembled from two mouldings that are clamped together face-to-face, one of the mouldings comprising a front part of the ring with an attached front part of the pod, and the other moulding comprising a rear part of the ring with an attached rear part of the casing of the pod.

9. A swimmer-propulsion unit according to any one of Claims 1 to 8 wherein the external casing is of a substantially hollow- cylindrical form with the water-flow duct extending axially therethrough .

10. A swimmer-propulsion unit according to any one of Claims 1 to 9 wherein the external casing is an assembly of two shells that are clamped together one on the other longitudinally of the unit .

11. A swimmer-propulsion unit according to Claim 10 wherein the two shells are of blow-moulded plastics material.

12. A swimmer-propulsion unit according to any one of Claims 1 to 11 wherein the propeller is mounted at the rear of the pod to provide thrust in 'pusher' mode.

13. A swimmer-propulsion unit according to any one of Claims 1 to 12 wherein the one or more batteries are re-chargeable.

14. A swimmer-propulsion unit according to any one of Claims 1 to 13 joined alongside a second swimmer-propulsion unit according to any one of Claims 1 to 13, wherein the two units are operable in parallel with one another as a double unit under common control .

Description:
Swimmer-Propulsion Units

This invention relates to swimmer-propulsion units.

According to the present invention there is provided a swimmer- propulsion unit wherein a propeller for providing propulsive thrust of the unit is driven by an electric motor, the electric motor is housed within a pod that carries the propeller together with one or more batteries for energising the electric motor, and the pod is centrally mounted within a water-flow duct through an external casing of the unit. The motor of the unit may be directly-coupled to the propeller which may be mounted at the rear of the pod to provide thrust in 'pusher' mode.

The one or more batteries may be retained within a container beneath the electric motor within the pod, and may be rechargeable .

Two hand-grips may be located on the external casing one either side of the unit, and the electric motor may be energised from the one or more batteries via two selectively-operable switch- controls that are mounted with the hand-grips respectively on the external casing, the electric motor being energised from the one or more batteries only while both switch-controls are operated. The pod may be mounted on radial arms centrally of a ring that is clamped within the external casing. The ring may be retained peripherally within an internal annular groove of the external casing. In these circumstances, the ring and a casing of the pod may be assembled from two mouldings that are clamped together face-to-face, one of the mouldings comprising a front part of the ring with an attached front part of the pod, and the other moulding comprising a rear part of the ring with an attached rear part of the casing of the pod. The external casing may be of a substantially hollow-cylindrical form with the water-flow duct extending axially therethrough, and may be an assembly of two shells that are clamped together one on the other longitudinally of the unit. A swimmer-propulsion unit according to the present invention will now be described, by way of example, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

Figures 1 and 2 are perspective views from the front and rear respectively of the swimmer-propulsion unit according to the invention;

Figures 3 to 6 are, respectively, a front elevation, a rear elevation, a side elevation, and a plan view from above of the swimmer-propulsion unit of Figures 1 and 2 ;

Figure 7 is a sectional plan view of the swimmer-propulsion unit of Figures 1 and 2, the section being taken in the plane of the divide between top and bottom shells of the external casing of the unit;

Figure 8 is a perspective view from the front of the swimmer- propulsion unit of Figures 1 and 2 with the top shell of the external casing of the unit removed; and

Figure 9 is another perspective view from the front of the swimmer-propulsion unit of Figures 1 and 2 with the top shell of the external casing of the unit removed, including an exploded view of an electrically-powered propeller-pod of the unit and its supporting grill-surround. Referring to Figures 1 to 6, the swimmer-propulsion unit 1 has an external casing 2 of hollow-cylindrical form to define a

contoured, front water-inlet 3 and a rear water-outlet 4 of an axial duct (which may be of constant or reducing diameter along it length) for water-flow through the unit 1. The casing 2 is an assembly of top and bottom contoured shells 5 and 6 of blow- moulded high-density polyethylene ( "HDPE" ) that are clamped together in abutment with one another longitudinally of the unit 1. Propulsion of the unit 1 in water is provided by an

electrically-powered propeller-pod 7 mounted centrally within the inlet 3 of the duct.

The propulsion unit 1 is to be held in both hands by the swimmer, and hand-grips 8 to facilitate this are formed in the casing 2 either side of the unit 1. The swimmer, whether on the surface or under the water, grasps both grips 8 with his/her hands slightly ahead and below him/her so as to hold the unit 1 desirably fully underwater. Activation of the pod 7 to provide propulsion is effected by concurrent depression of two thumb- operable switch-levers 9 located respectively within the grips 8. This causes water to be drawn into the unit 1 via the inlet 3 for powered flow through the unit 1 and forced exit via the outlet 4. By holding the unit 1 below him/her, the swimmer is afforded increased progress and manoeuvrability, keeping drag to a minimum and allowing exhaust of water from the unit 1 to be unobstructed by his/her body. Turning from forward propulsion is achieved simply by using the hands on the grips 8 to turn the unit 1 to the required extent in the desired direction, and ascent or descent can be achieved likewise by inclining the unit 1 up or down .

Referring to especially now to Figures 7 to 9 , the pod 7, which has a water-tight casing 10, has a rear-mounted two-bladed propeller 11 (a three- or four-bladed propeller may be used instead) that operates in 'pusher' (as distinct from 'tractor') mode. The propeller 11 is driven from within the casing 10 by an electric motor 12 to provide the thrust for propulsion of the unit 1. The motor 12, which is coupled directly to the propeller 11, is housed within the casing 10 together with re-chargeable batteries (not shown) that are retained within a container 13 (see especially Figure 9) beneath the motor 12. An electrical circuit for energising the motor 12 from the batteries includes two switches 14 (see Figures 7 and 9) that are located within end-boxes 15 respectively of two oppositely-directed radial arms 16 that project through the external casing 2 at the hand-grips 8. The switch-levers 9 are mounted on the boxes 15 of the arms 16 respectively, and each is coupled to the respective switch 14 to hold that switch 14 open under the action of a spring-bias, until the lever 9 is depressed. Depression of the lever 9 closes the respective switch 14, but it is not until, and only while, both levers 9 are depressed that the energising circuit for the motor 12 is completed to drive the propeller 11 for propulsion. A light-emitting diode ("LED") 17 is mounted in the forward end of the casing 10 of the pod 7 and is connected in the motor- energising circuit of the motor 12 to be energised while the motor 12 is energised to drive the propeller 11. A second LED 18 which is similarly mounted in the casing 10 at the forward end of the pod 7, is connected in a charging circuit for the batteries within the container 13. External power supply to this latter circuit for charging the batteries energises the LED 18 and is made via a pair of input-terminal sockets 19 adjacent the LEDs 17 and 18.

The radial arms 16 together with eight radial vanes 20 support the pod 7 centrally within a moulded mounting-ring 21 that is retained peripherally within an internal annular groove 22 (see Figures 7 and 9) of the casing 2. The pod-casing 10 and the ring 21 together with the arms 16 and vanes 20, are assembled from two ring-mouldings 23 and 24 (see Figure 9) that fit together face- to-face. The two mouldings 23 and 24 are clamped together top and bottom of the ring 21 by an individual pair of screws 25, and also by eight screws 26 around the pod 7 and arms 16 with a seal 27 for water-tightness between them.

A further mounting-ring 28 of two-part moulded construction is retained peripherally within an internal annular groove 29 of the casing 2. The ring 28 is spaced beyond the propeller 11 at the rear water-outlet 4 of the unit 1, and provides a barrier to the insertion by users of their fingers and other items into the casing 2 onto the propeller 11. In this respect, the ring 28 supports concentric rings 30 and 31 with interconnecting radial vanes 32 and 33 between them.

The rings 21 and 28 are retained in place at the inlet 3 and outlet 4 of the unit 1 by the clamping of them within their respective grooves 22 and 29 of the casing 2 when the two shells 5 and 6 are themselves clamped together using bolts 34. Further retention of the ring 21 within the casing 2 is provided by clamping it to the shells 5 and 6 using individual pairs of screws 35 top and bottom (see Figure 8 for indication of the pair of screws 35 at the top) . The swimmer-propulsion unit 1 described has significant

advantages of economy of construction, weight and cost that make it suitable as a product that can be safely and readily acquired for children (perhaps as young as five-years old) and used safely by them. It may also be used by adults whether simply to provide enjoyment in swimming on the water surface or indeed as a propulsion unit for shallow underwater swimming and scuba diving.

The location of the drive motor 12 and batteries within the central pod 7, and the direct drive to the propeller 11 mounted on the same pod 7 is especially advantageous. Moreover, the use of the single central pod 7 retained within the split-shell casing 2 allows for easy maintenance in that access to it can be gained simply by removing one of the shells 5 and 6 and

unclamping the mouldings 23 and 24 from one another.

As a development of a more powerful, sophisticated and

efficacious product, especially for underwater swimming and scuba diving, two units corresponding essentially to the unit 1 are mounted with their casings 2 joined alongside one another and operating in parallel with one another under common control of switches on opposite sides of the double unit. The two units may be mounted side-by-side or one above the other. Where a double unit of either kind is provided, control may, as a further alternative, enable the two to be operated selectively either separately or in common, so that variations in propulsion effects can be obtained.