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Title:
FIBER OPTIC COMMUNICATION ROPE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2021/202401
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A caving/climbing rope with an enclosed light transmitting member allows communication between individuals using the rope. The light transmitting member runs through the inside of the caving/climbing rope and is unobstructed at each end. The member acts as both a sensor and emitter of a light source. When light is shined on one end of the rope, it will be transferred through the light transmitting member of the rope and be emitted at the other end where it can be seen or sensed by a device attached to the rope. The rope may include a removably attached concave bulb with light emitting diodes (LEDs) providing a light source. Adapters for cellular telephones may be provided to produce light signals or to process them for communications. These features will allow rapid communications for those using the rope in locations where the parties are out of sight or hearing from each other.

Inventors:
PARKER CETH (US)
Application Number:
PCT/US2021/024693
Publication Date:
October 07, 2021
Filing Date:
March 29, 2021
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
PARKER CETH (US)
International Classes:
F21V8/00; G02B6/04; G02B6/44; H04B10/116
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BELASCO, David, A. (US)
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Claims:
CLAIMS

1 A fiber optic communication rope comprising: a braided, twisted, woven or solid core climbing or caving rope, said rope having a first end and a second end; and at least one light transmitting member, said light transmitting member extending from at least said first end to at least said second end of said rope.

2 The fiber optic communication rope, as described in Claim 1, wherein said at least one light transmitting member is encased in a protective cladding material.

3. The fiber optic communication rope, as described in Claim 1, wherein said at least one light transmitting member comprises at least three light transmitting members. 4. The fiber optic communication rope, as described in Claim 3, wherein said at least three light transmitting members are spaced radially about a center axis of said braided, twisted, woven or solid core climbing or caving rope.

5. The fiber optic communication rope, as described in Claim 3, wherein said at least three light transmitting members are unclad.

6 The fiber optic communication rope, as described in Claim 1, wherein said at least one light transmitting member is formed of acrylic glass.

7. The fiber optic communication rope, as described in Claim 1, wherein said at least one light transmitting member is formed of Poly Methyl Methacrylate (PMMA).

8. The fiber optic communication rope, as described in Claim 1, wherein said at least one light transmitting member is formed of polymer compounds.

9. The fiber optic communication rope, as described in Claim 1, further comprising at least one convex bulb, said at least one convex bulb being removably attached to at least of said first and second ends of said rope, to render more visible light transmitted through said at least one light transmitting member.

10 The fiber optic communication rope, as described in Claim 8, wherein said convex bulb further comprises at least one light emitting diode (LED), circuitry and a power source for said at least one LED, said at least one LED providing a source of light for transmission via said light transmitting member.

11. The fiber optic communication rope, as described in Claim 9, wherein said at least one LED comprises LEDs of at least two different colors, to assist in signaling. 12 The fiber optic communication rope, as described in Claim 1, further comprising a device for mounting a cell phone to position at least one of a camera or a flashlight of said cell phone to align with at least one of a first end and a second end of said light transmitting member.

13. The fiber optic communication rope, as described in Claim 11, further comprising a cell phone application, said cell phone application providing text, voice or video communication using said light transmitting member.

Description:
FIBER OPTIC COMMUNICATION ROPE

Related Application

The instant application is a continuation of Provisional Application No.

63/001,709, filed March 30, 2020 and currently pending. Field of Invention

The present invention relates to a caving/climbing rope. More particularly, the invention relates to a rope having one or more light transmitting members therein to allow communication through the rope between individuals on either end.

Background of the Invention Cavers and climbers often traverse into caves and are out of sight of one another.

In caves, communication between individuals is often difficult.

These difficulties are most apparent when teams are separated by vertical sections of a cave passage. Vertical drops more than a few feet require a secured rope along with personal climbing/descending aides for each individual. Depending on the length and dimensions of the vertical passage, the group at the bottom of the rope can become isolated from the rest of the team and unable to communicate because the cave passage prevents line of sight visual contact and the surrounding rocks muffle or completely prevent voice communication. Additionally, the winding passages and re-belays, i.e. rope tie-offs, can prevent individuals from "tugging on the end of the rope" to get a signal to other members of the party. Indeed only about 50 feet of sinewy cave passage can prevent visual, audio, and even radio signals, effectively isolating all team members on either end of the rope. The prior art devices have lights on ropes, but these are not useful for communication between members of a climbing party. These ropes include a string of lights powered by a connected power source such as a battery and are chiefly used for decoration. There are also different types of rope made of composite materials or having a braided pattern. However, there is no known caving or climbing rope incorporating a means for communicating between climbing party members using the rope. These and other shortcomings of the prior art devices are addressed by the present invention.

A primary objective of the present invention is to provide a caving/climbing rope that provides a means for communication through the rope between individuals. Another objective of the present invention is to provide a rope allowing individuals to communicate with each other in emergency or rescue operations. Still another objective of the invention is to provide a rope which is durable, of simple construction, inexpensive to manufacture. A further objective is to provide a rope with integral communications features that is not affected by kinks or knots in the rope. A still further objective is to provide a rope with integral communications features that is not adversely affected by heat, cold, mud or moisture. Yet a further objective is to provide a rope in which communication features will not be degraded by passing the rope through climbing accessories that apply friction or exterior stress the rope. A final objective is to provide a climbing/caving rope that allows communication between party members in a variety of ways.

While some of the objectives of the present invention are disclosed in the prior art, none of the inventions found address all of the requirements identified.

Summary of the Invention

1) A fiber optic communication rope providing the desired features may be constructed from the following components. A braided, twisted, woven or solid core climbing or caving rope is provided. The rope has a first end and a second end. At least one light transmitting member is provided. The light transmitting member extends from at least the first end to at least the second end of the rope.

2) In a variant of the invention, the at least one light transmitting member is encased in a protective cladding material.

3) In another variant, the at least one light transmitting member includes at least three light transmitting members.

4) In still another variant, the at least three light transmitting members are spaced radially about a center axis of the braided, twisted or woven climbing or caving rope.

5) In yet another variant, the at least three light transmitting members are unclad.

6) In a further variant, the at least one light transmitting member is formed of acrylic glass.

7) In still a further variant, the at least one light transmitting member is formed of Poly Methyl Methacrylate (PMMA).

8) In yet a further variant, the at least one light transmitting member is formed of polymer compounds.

9) In another variant of the invention, at least one convex bulb is provided. The at least one convex bulb is removably attached to at least of the first and second ends of the rope, to render more visible light transmitted through the at least one light transmitting member.

10) In still another, the convex bulb further includes at least one light emitting diode (LED), circuitry and a power source for the at least one LED, the at least one LED providing a source of light for transmission via the light transmitting member. 11) In yet another variant, the at least one LED includes LEDs of at least two different colors, to assist in signaling.

12) In a further variant, a device for mounting a cell phone is provided. The device is adapted to position at least one of a camera or a flashlight of the cell phone to align with at least one of a first end and a second end of the light transmitting member.

13) In a final variant, a cell phone application, the cell phone application providing text, voice or video communication using the light transmitting member.

Description of the Drawings Figure 1 is a perspective cross-sectional view of a rope with a single light transmitting member with cladding running through the rope;

Figure 2 is a perspective cross-sectional view of a rope with three light transmitting members without cladding running through the rope;

Figure 3 is a cross-sectional view of a cave illustrating a person at each end of the rope of the invention which are out of sight and out of hearing range of each other;

Figure 4 is a side elevational view of the Figure 1 embodiment, illustrating the light transmitting member extending outwardly from first and second ends of the rope and rubber covers to prevent fraying of the rope;

Figure 5 is a side elevational view of the Figure 1 embodiment, illustrating light visible at an end of the light transmitting member;

Figure 6 is a side elevational view of the Figure 1 embodiment in combination with climbing gear;

Figure 7 is a perspective view of the first end of the Figure 1 embodiment with a convex bulb attached, the bulb having three switches for attached light emitting diodes (LEDs) within the bulb;

Figure 8 is a side cross-sectional view of the Figure 7 embodiment illustrating the transmission of light through the light transmitting member and illuminating the convex bulb; Figure 9 is a side cross-sectional view of the Figure 7 embodiment illustrating the transmission of light from one of the LEDs into a first end of the light transmitting member and also illuminating the convex bulb;

Figure 10 is a schematic of the circuitry for the convex bulb including the LED, power source and switch; Figure 11 is a perspective view of a typical cell phone illustrating the cell phone’s camera, flashlight and an included cell phone application;

Figure 12 is a perspective view of the cell phone, the device for mounting the cell phone to an end of the rope with fiber optic communication capability; and

Figure 13 is a top side cross-sectional view of the device for mounting the cell phone to an end of the rope, illustrating an end of the light transmitting member in close proximity to the camera and flashlight of the cell phone.

Detailed Description of the Preferred Embodiment

1) As illustrated in Figure 1, a fiber optic communication rope 10 providing the desired features may be constructed from the following components. A braided, twisted, woven or solid core climbing or caving rope 14 is provided. The rope 14 has a first end 18 and a second end 22. At least one light transmitting member 26 is provided. The light transmitting member 26 extends from at least the first end 18 to at least the second end 22 of the rope 14. 2) In a variant of the invention, the at least one light transmitting member 26 is encased in a protective cladding material 30.

3) In another variant, as illustrated in Figure 2, the at least one light transmitting member 26 includes at least three light transmitting members 26. 4) In still another variant, the at least three light transmitting members 26 are spaced radially about a center axis 34 of the braided, twisted, woven or solid core climbing or caving rope 14.

5) In yet another variant, the at least three light transmitting members 26 are unclad.

6) In a further variant, as illustrated in Figure 1, the at least one light transmitting member 26 is formed of acrylic glass 38.

7) In still a further variant, as illustrated in Figure 2, the at least one light transmitting member is formed of Poly Methyl Methacrylate (PMMA) 42.

8) In yet a further variant, the at least one light transmitting member is formed of polymer compounds (not shown). 9) In another variant of the invention, as illustrated in Figures 7-10, at least one convex bulb 116 is provided. The at least one convex bulb 116 is removably attached to at least of the first 18 and second 22 ends of the rope 10, to render more visible light 50 transmitted through the at least one light transmitting member 26.

10) In still another variant, the convex bulb further includes at least one light emitting diode (LED) 120, circuitry 124 and a power source 128 for the at least one LED 120, the at least one LED 120 providing a source of light 50 for transmission via the light transmitting member 26

11) In yet another variant, the at least one LED 120 includes LEDs 120 of at least two different colors, to assist in signaling.

12) In a further variant, as illustrated in Figures 11-13, a device 132 for mounting a cell phone 140 is provided. The device 132 is adapted to position at least one of a camera 144 or a flashlight 148 of the cell phone 140 to align with at least one of a first end 152 and a second end 156 of the light transmitting member 26.

13) In a final variant, a cell phone application 160 is provided, the cell phone application 160 providing text, voice or video communication using the light transmitting member 26.

The present invention is directed to a braided, twisted, woven or solid core climbing or caving rope 14 having one or more light transmitting members 26 therein to allow communication through the rope 14 between individuals. The invention 10 allows one or more group members on either end 18, 22 of the rope 14 to communicate with each other by using the rope 14 itself. This novel rope 14 has one or more thin, e.g. about 1 mm, light transmitting members 26 running through the rope 14. These light transmitting members 26 may be either sheathed, i.e. cladded 30, or unsheathed, i.e. uncladded, and allow for light transmittance through their length, i.e. from the first end of the rope 18 to the second end 22 of the rope 14. As illustrated in Figure 3, an individual on the downstream side of the rope 14 may shine her headlamp or other light source 46 at the end of the rope where an exposed strand of the light transmitting member 26 is present. As illustrated in Figure 4, a corresponding light 50 will be seen coming out the second end 22 of rope 14 where the light transmitting member 26 emerges at the second end 22 of the rope 14 and vice versa.

As illustrated in Figure 2, a rope 10 has three unclad light transmitting members 26 passing through the rope 14. The cladding 30 of Figure 1 will take up more space, but will add strength to the light transmitting member 26. If the light transmitting member 26 becomes "kinked," the cladding 30 will ensure that the light 50 does not escape laterally from the light transmitting member 26 and will pass out the second 22 end of the rope 14. While the Figure 2 embodiment allows for more light transmitting members 26 to pass through the rope 14, having a higher light transmitting ability, there is less structural strength of the light transmitting members 26; and if kinks occur this may lead to a loss of the light signal 50.

As illustrated in Figures 3-6, a schematic of a cave 56 with a fiber optic communication rope 10 having a light transmitting member 26 as illustrated in Figure 1, anchors 60, inner cave void space 64, and wall rock 68. There is shown a typical series of knots 72 tied to anchors 60 in the wall 68 midway through the rope 10 (multiple re-belays) going along the wall 68 of a cave 56 or crevasse at the top 76 of a big drop 80. The distance from the top 84 of the rope 10 to the bottom of the rope 88 is such that persons at the bottom 88 of the rope 10 cannot hear or see people at the top 84 of the rope 10. When a caver shines her light 46 on the end of the rope 10 at point 84 and sent by the light transmitting member 26, the light 50 is transmitted through the light transmitting member 26 and is seen coming out at the second end 22 of the rope 10. In this manner, light 50 may pass either direction through the rope 10. This will act as a signal for the two cave parties to communicate.

As illustrated in Figure 4, the rope 10 with the light transmitting member 26 running through the rope 14 that has been tied into multiple knots 72. The light transmitting member 26 is shown with an exaggerated amount of the member 26 extending from the rope end 18, 22 for the purpose of illustration and in practice will not extend this far out of the rope 14. The light source 46 shines into the first end 96 of the light transmitting member 26 in the direction of the arrow 92, and light 50 can be seen coming out of the second end 100 of the light transmitting member 26 at arrow 104. At the ends of the rope, there may be a material 108, e.g. rubber, which keeps the rope 10 from fraying, although this is not necessary to the invention. The rope 10 of Figure 4, despite having multiple knots 72 tied in the rope 10, still allows light 50 to pass through the rope 10 unhampered. The thickness and rigidity of ropes 10 used by cavers, mountain climbers, Search and Rescue (SAR) units and the military prevents the rope 10 from forming tight knots 72 or making bends, i.e. bites, that might otherwise damage the light transmitting member 26 inside the rope. Additionally, by having the light transmitting member inside the rope 10, the rope 10 may pass through climbing devices 112 such as ascenders, Pretzel stops, racks, or Pretzel croll, other friction devices, other progress capture devices and bolts without damaging the light transmitting member 26 or otherwise interfering with a device’s 112 ability to grip the rope 10, such devices 112 having "teeth" that bite into the rope 10 to perform progress capture, as illustrated in Figure 6.

As illustrated in Figure 5, it is seen that the thickness of the rope 10 is such that even when being bent and squeezed as far as possible the light transmitting member 26 is not damaged and the light 50 still comes through the light transmitting member 26 at arrow 104. As illustrated in Figure 6, there is shown an ascending device 112 which may be attached to the rope 10 and there is no hindrance or damage to the light transmitting member 26.

Caving and ropes 10 made from standard materials generally have excess strength built into them, the strength measured in kilonewtons (kN). The addition of the small light transmitting members 26 will have only a negligible impact on the strength of the rope 10. Also, because the light transmitting member does not necessarily have to transmit quantitative amounts of photons/signal to be read by a digital receiver (requiring only a qualitative presence or absence of light), small kinks and loss of full signal that may occur over time does not prevent the light transmittance function of the rope 10. Additionally, as the invention does not require an extremely sensitive light transmitting member 26, light transmitting compounds other than standard acrylic glass 38 or (PMMA) 42 that are slightly more elastic but have less conductance may be used as the light transmitting member 26.

The fiber optic communication rope 10 has the potential for extensive use by the caving community, the cave rescue community and the National Cave Rescue Commission. It may also be used by other climbing groups that require communication when being connected via rope. Groups that may get the most use out of this invention are the SAR community and the military. SAR units utilize rope for a large variety of rescue missions; including recovery from crevasses, off the side of cliffs, down sink holes, and within collapsed buildings. These SAR units presently may use radios for communications. However, the present invention may serve as a back-up form of communication or a primary form of communication, as it is water resistant and has no moving parts. The present invention is also useful in military applications requiring silent communication, including by special operations units.

The exemplary embodiments of the fiber optic communication rope 10 herein disclosed are not intended to be exhaustive or to unnecessarily limit the scope of the invention. The exemplary embodiments were chosen and described in order to explain the principles of the present invention so that others skilled in the art may practice the invention. As will be apparent to one skilled in the art, various modifications can be made within the scope of the aforesaid description. Such modifications being within the ability of one skilled in the art form a part of the present invention and are embraced by the appended claims.