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Патент USA US2123459

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Filed April 17, 1936
flash Off Voltage
`Patented July l2, `1938`
Johan Rlberg Andersen, Brooklyn, N. Y.
'Application April I7, 1936, Serial No. 74,992
a claims. (ci. 1v1-35o)
This invention relates generally to electric
signs; and more particularly to signs Where let~
ters for pictorial representations of objects, are
formed on a display bank of electric lamps, and
5 are caused to change position intermittently on
> the bank with such vfrequency as to give the im
pression that the letters or representations are
in continuous movement from one end of the
display bank to the other. Preferably, the inven
10 tion` utilizes neon or similar gas tubes for the
production of the traveling letters or pictorial
representations, the energization of these tubes
being controlled by the movement of a sheet or
ribbon of material perforated or otherwise
w marked to correspond with the letters or pictorial
“flash-ori” and “flash-off” ranges up to about 30
The voltagenecessary to maintain ionization
or glow is from five to six volts less than the
“flash-on" voltage. The D. C‘. current supply 5
may be regulated to provide this lower voltage
substantially constant. Now lamps of this type
cannot start ionization directly from this con
stant voltage; but must have some additional
voltage applied thereto to provide additionalv ñve 10
or six volts required to start ionization.
In the
present invention, this additional voltage is pro
vided by periodically interrupting the D. C. cur- '
rent, and interposing in the circuit thereof,
a transformer for each lamp, which transformer, i5
at each interruption, raises the voltage of the
“flash-on” point necessary to set up ionization
'I'he main object of the invention is to eliminate ' of the lamp connected thereto.
the contacty boards, relays and similar devices
Each lamp is provided with a transformer;
20 heretofore Afound necessary i’or the operation' and
the transformers of each row are connected
representation to be reproduced in the display
of this type of changeable sign. '
so that the circuit of each lamp includes the
Another object of the invention is to provide primary
of one transformer and the vsecondary
a display system in which all contact making and of
another transformer. Preferably, the ratio of
breaking points are eliminated, and in which the windingsin each transformer is 1:5, the pri~
25 the wiring is substantially decreased over any--' mary having the lower number of turns.
thing ofthis character heretofore in use.
In the drawing the sign is designated generally
A further object of the invention is to simplify by the reference numeral l. As shown in the
the >design of devices of this character so that drawing, there are eight horizontal rows of lamps
the cost of installation and maintenance of de
in the sign. It will be understood that the num
a@ vices of this general type may be greatly reduced. ber
of horizontal rows and the number of lamps 3
Other objects of the invention will become ap
in each row, will depend upon the `desired detail
parent as the detailed description thereof pro
in the picture to be formed on thel sign.
ceeds.The lighting of the lamps is controlled by a
In the drawing:
strip t of transparent sheet material mounted on
Figure 1 is a diagrammatic lay-out of a bank
rollers t and i for movement through a light 35
of lamps constituting the sign proper; and the box
5 in which is mounted, below the plane of
« mechanism for controlling these lamps to form movement of said strip, a series of light sensi
the moving letters or pictorial representations.
tive cells 6, only one of which is shown in Fig
Figure 2'is an enlarged wiring diagram illus
ure 2 of the drawing. .'I'he`strip‘2 is marked in l '
m trating the principle of operation involved in the accordance with the letter or other representa- 40
control of the lamps; and
to be shown by illumination of lamps on the
Figure 3. illustrates graphically the voltage tion
sign i. For example, the letter L outlined by
.changes in a direct current supply, which ef
opaque circular areas on the strip 2 is reproduced
fects the successive lighting of the lamps in the by illumination of correspondingly arranged
' w rows in the sign.
lamps on the sign I.
It is 4generally known that luminous gas tubes
Direct current for energizing the lamps is sup- .
of the neon lamp type require a. certain voltage plied by the mains 'i and 8. The positive main
between the electrodes before ionization and
glow‘can be secured.v This certain voltage for ‘l is connected to _a wire 9 which extends across
50 convenience `will be termed the “flash~on" `volt
. age.
Once ionization has started, the voltage
may be lowered appreciably before ionization and
glow ceases. It will be convenient to consider the
Voltage at which ionization ceases as the “flash
55 od” voltage. ‘The voltage difference between
the bank of lamps in the sign i. _ A positive feed
wire i@ extends between the two horizontal'rows 5
A and B of the lamps, and is connected to alter
nate transformers in the row A, For example,
the positive wire I0 is connected to the trans
formers T-I, T-3, 'IL-5, etc. in row A. The
return wire ii for the wire I0 and connected 55
of the photo-electric cell 6, the resistance of this
will increase due to absence of light, thus de
creasing the current flow in winding 24. There
fore, the current in winding 26 will be trans
mitted to winding 21, thus causing the lamp L-I
transformers and lamps is connected to _the
transformers T---2, T--4, T--6, etc.; and this
wire II is connected by wire I2 to the negative
main 4.
The wire I0 also supplies positive current in
the same order to the transformers and lamps
’ to light up.
' in the row B of the sign, the wire I2’ being the
return wire for the series-connected transform
ers and lamps in the row B. It will be apparent
10 from the drawing that the wire Iß supplies posi
tive current-to the transformers and lamps in
the two rows A and B; wire II forming the re
turn for row A, and wire I2' forming the return
for row B.
Similarly, wire I2' forms the~ return for the
transformers and lamps in row C. Wire I3 is
` the positive feed for rows C and D, while wire I4
is the return for rows D and E; and so on down
all of the rows of lamps and transformers in
20 the sign. This arrangement obviously 'effects an
. enormous saving in wiring, in comparison with
those systems wherein each row of lamps is pro
vided with positive and negative wires connected
to the mains independently of the positive and
25 negative wires in the other rows.
As shown in the drawing, a motor N rotates
the shaft I5 by means of the gears I6 and I1,
to operate theinterrupter CB and the strip roller
3. Wires I8 and I9 connect the interrupter CB
30 to the return main 8, the rate -of interruption be
_ing timed with the movement of the strip 2.
The strip 2 passes through the light box 5, and
its unperforated parts obstruct the passage of
light from a lamp 20 to a bank of light sensitive
35 circuit controllers arranged within the box on the
side of the strip opposite to the lamp 20. The
number of circuit controllers corresponds to the
number of horizontal rows of lamps in the sign
I; and only 'one is required to control the light
40 ing of the lamps in each row. For example, the
circuit closer 6 of Figures l 'and 2 controls the
starting of the ionization in row A of the lamps
in the sign I. A description of this particular
control will sufiice to explain the operation of all
the- others, since all are operated in the same
A transformer 2I is coupled to the return main
8. The secondary of this transformer 2i is con
nected at one end by wire 22 to one terminal of
the circuit controller 6. A wire 23 connects the
other end of the secondary of transformer 2I
through- the secondary 24 of a. transformer 25
to the other terminal of the circuit controller 6.
A balanced resistance R, with the same resist
ance as the light sensitive circuit closer when un
der illumination through strip 2, is interposed,
with a winding 26 similar to secondary 24, as a
bypass for the transformer 2I. The necessity
of the balancing- resistance R, and the winding
28 as a bypass, is based on the assumption that
a transparent tape with opaque letters is used.
The value of the resistance R is of the same value
as that of the photo-electric cell 6 when this
is under illumination through the transparent
tape. The winding 26 is in inductive relation
to winding 24. It has the same number of -turns
`as winding 24, but`- is so connected that its flux
Y counteracts that of winding 24.
When an im
pulse is started from transformei- 2l, and no
opaque letters on the tape are opposite the photo
electric cell, we get the same amount of current
in winding 26 and 24. These currents will neu
tralize each other, thus preventing any current
from flowing in winding 21.
If, however, there is an opaque area in front
The primary 21 of transformer 25 is connected
at one end by wire 2B to the positive wire 9
which is connected to the center of the trans
former T-I in row A of the lamp bank. The
other end of. primary 21 is connected by wire 29
to the primary of the transformer T-I.
In connection with the operation of the sign
it will be convenient to consider the' operation of
the lamps and transformers in row A; and,v in 15
this connection consider the operation of the'de
vice under the- control of the yopaque representa
tion of'the letter “L" on the strip 2 as it moves
from right to left as shown in Fig. 1 of the draw
ing. As shown in this figure. the letter “L" has 20
its opaque areas spaced apart transversely of the
strip 2 to correspond with the transverse spac
ings of the lamps in the sign I. Let it be as
sumed now that the letter “L” on the strip ap
proaches the light box 5 from the right hand side 25
As soon as the vertical leg of the letter “L”
overlies the bank of circuit controllers 6, all the `
lamps in the first transverse row of the sign be
gin to glow. The circuit for the top circuit 30
closer and lamp row A of the sign is illustrated
in Figure 2. It will be apparent from the draw
ing that interrupted direct current flows from
the mains 1 and 8 through all the lamps in the
sign, but its voltage being below the “flash-on” 35
value is insuflicient to start ionization. Each let
ter of the sign is composed of a number of single
lamps. These lamps are arranged in horizontal
and vertical rows. It takes 5 vertical rows to
make one letter like H to L. As one interruption 40
will transmit one vertical row five interruptions
are needed to transmit each letter, and the speed
of the tape is adjusted accordingly.
When the circuit closes through the top cir
cuit closer 6, the transformer 25 through the 45
primary of lamp transformer T-I adds its irn-v
pulse to the interrupted current from the mains
1 and 8. This increases the voltage to the “ilash
on” point and lamp L-I begins to glow. As the
strip 2 moves to the left, the opaque areas of the 50
letter Lmove away from the circuit controller 6,
and the circuit which includes it becomes broken.
However, the interruptions in the current are
timed so that the rise in vol/tage in the trans
>former T--2 added to the steady voltage through 55
the mains "I and 8 sets up ionization of the lamp
L-2. The other lamps, in the same transverse
row are similarly energized, so that all in that
row glow notwithstanding the factY that the
vertical leg of the letter L on the strip 2 is no 60
longer over the row of circuit closers 6. In this
manner all the transverse rows of lamps in the
sign become ionized in succession, and give the
effect of movement of the letter from one end of
the sign to the other.
In an actual installation of this device, it was
found that the voltage loss through the primary
winding was approximately two volts when the
lamps were glowing. Whenß. lamp was turned
oñ by interruption in the-current, it was found 70
that a voltage of nearly ten volts would be in-duced in the secondary winding of the trans
former. This secondary winding is so connected
that when the lamp in series with the primary
winding was turned on the direction of the cur 75
3 .
rent in the secondary winding was opposed to the l
ythey maintain' discharge at a lower voltage than
interrupted D. C. in the circuit. In this condition that ,necessary to start a discharge therein,_a
no ionization could :take place in the next lamp at
that time. However, when the first lamp flashes
Gl oil“, the impulse in the second is added to that of
-the interrupted D. C. to produce a total voltage
higher than the “iiash-on” voltage, and start the
glow in the second lamp. In this way the im
pulses travel from lamp to lamp.
, These starting impulses are of'very short du
ration, but are of sufficient strength to start the
ionization. Due to the time-lag between the pri
mary and secondary windings, the secondary im
' pulse does not appear before the interrupted di
f rect current has been restored to full strength.
The ratio of 1:5 in the transformers eliminates
all- possibility of reversal of impulses. In the
secondarywindings the voltage loss should be
made as small as possible.
‘ 20
In Figure 1- .of the drawing, the transformer
circuits to lthe different `light sensitive circuit
closers are merely indicated in diagram. It will
source of current of a voltage s'uñicient to main
tain discharge in said lamps but insuñicient to
start a discharge therein, connections from each
lamp to the opposite terminals of ,said source,
each of said connections,> except the connections
of the first lamp in the row, having therein a
transformer secondary associated with a trans
.tonner primary of the preceding lamp connec-` 10.
tions and a transformer primaryassociated with
a. transformer secondary of a succeeding lamp,
the relation of the voltage of the secondaries
included in the connections to the lamps with re--
spect to the voltage-applied to the lamps being 15
such that the _voltage induced in the secondary
of its transformer by the transformer primary
will oppose the voltage of the source when current ~
in the primary‘is established and aid the voltage
of the source when current in the primary is in 20
terrupted, the connections of the ñrst lamp inthe
row including the- primary of a transformer for
be understood, however, that hook-up for each
the secondary of the succeeding lamp, means for
circuit closer is substantially the same as that
periodically interrupting the supply of current
shown in Figure 2. It is not essential that the
control strip 2 be transparent and have the let
ters formed thereon by opaque areas.
It is con- -
templated that the same 'result may be secured
by »using opaque strip with transparent letters
formed thereon. The character of theistrip would
depend upon the construction of the light sensitive
circuit closers which may be of any well-known
type. However, the circuit .shown in the draw
ing is designed for use with a transparent strip
having ‘opaque letters thereon. The resistance
of the photo-electric cell increases with decreas
ing light. When the cell is illuminated through
the transparent strip, the impulses through the
windings 26 and 24 counterbalance each other.
40 When
the opaque area appears the circuit
through the cell is broken and the impulse through
the winding 26 actually transmits that impulse
to winding 21.
It is to be understood that the invention is not
to be considered as limited to the specific con
from said source to all oi’ said lamp connections 425
for a period suiiicient to extinguish any lamp
which is in4 discharge condition and for again
kestablishing said supply of current while the
voltage is still present in the secondary included
in a lamp connection due to the interruption of 30
the discharge, if any, in the preceding lamp con
nection and means operating in time relation to ‘
said interrupting means for determining `after
eachiinterruption whether the ñrst lamp in the
row should be discharged or not after the current 35
' from said source to the connections'is yreestab
2. The apparatus set forth in claim 1 in which
the last` named means comprises a light sensitive
circuit controller, a source of light for energizing
said controller, and means movable between said 40
source and controller for blocking the' passage
of light to said controller.4
3. The apparatus set forth in claim 1 in which
the last named means includes: a light sensitive
struction and arrangement described herein, circuit controller, a source of light for energizing 45
lsince it -is evident that many changes may be; said controller, and an endless transparent sheet
made without departing from the scope oi’ the -of material movable between said source of light
invention as defined by the claims'appended and said controller and provided with means for «
50 hereto.
' blocking the passage of light rays from said
What I claim is:
1. In an electric sign system, a row oi' glow
4 discharge lamps having the characteristics that
source to said controller.
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