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Патент USA US3087046

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April 23, 1963
'
M. A. Rl-:MKE
3,087,036
MERCURY ROTARY SWITCH
Filed Sept. 30, 1960
INVENTOR.
M_A. REMKE
A TTORNEVS
United States Patent O
1
ICC
1
3,087,036
Marvin A. Reinke, Bartlesville, Gioia., assigner to Phillips
MERCURY RQTARY SWITCH
3,@81036
Patented Apr. 23, 1963
2
ly, so as to hold said mercury chambers in fixed relation
ship to said support members. Mercury chamber snp
port members 14, 15 and 16 are positioned on `shaft 17
Petroleum Company, a corporation of Delaware.
»in fixed relationship to each other by means of gaskets
Fiied Sept. 30, 1960, Sex'. No. 59,647
6 Claims. (Cl. 20G-152)
1S and `are friction-mounted upon »shaft 17 so that in
other pivoting mechanism is provided about which the
shape, but not necessarily limited thereto, with that por
operation a rotation of shaft 17 will impart Aan identical
rotation to mercury chambers 10, 11 and 12.. Mercury
This invention relates to an improved rotary switch em
chambers 11i, 11 and 12 can be independently rotated
ploying mercury `as .a contact medium.
about their respective support members so as to adjust
Electrical switches of various types, including those l0 the position of said mercury chambers with respect to
employing mercury las a Contact medium, have been in
shaft 17. Shaft 17 is Aattached to a plate 19. Plate 19
wide use. In particular applications of mercury switches,
can be attached, for example, to a conventional recorder
certain deficiencies have been noted. It has been observed
so as to operate directly off `the pivot point of the recorder
that where a mercury contact pool is employed there is
and so rotate with the rotary motion of the indicating
a failure to make electrical contact quickly and break
arm of said recorder. Thus, as the recorder indicating
electrical contact quickly. A present need exists for a
arm rotates in its arc, the switch also rotates through an
mercury switch capable of making positive contact closure
identical arc.
rapidly and without friction, overbalance or chatter.
Reference is made to FIGURE 2, where mercury cham
Accordingly, an object of this invention is to provide an
ber 10 of FIGURE l is illustrated in detail. As shown,
improved rotary mercury switch capable of making or 20 'mercury chamber 1t) Áis fabricated from glass tubing or
breaking an electrical circuit rapidly.
other suitable non-conductive material so fas to provide
Another object of this invention is to provide a «rotary
a sealed chamber with a means 20, ysuch 4as 4the place
mercury switch -with yan improved method of adjusting the
where the glass tubing is sealed, of manually adjusting the
contact position of each of a plurality of electrical con
position of the chamber 10 with respect to shaft 17. It
25 is, of course, within the scope of this invention to provide
tacts.
Another object of this invention is to provide a rotary
other means of manually rotating chamber 10 about shaft
mercury switch with an improved method of simultanea
17. Chamber 1t) is substantially half filled with mercury
ously making one electrical circuit and breaking a second
21 with the upper region of chamber 1li filled with hydro
electrical circuit.
Y
gen at a pressure of lapproximately 1A; atmosphere. The
Other objects, `advantages and feature-s of my inven 30 use of hydrogen at a reduced pressure in the preparation
tion will be readily apparent to those skilled in the tart
of mercury switches is well known in the art. Electrical
from the following description and Aappended claims.
contact electrodes 22 Iand 23 extend within chamber 10
Broadly, the inventive rotary mercury switch consists
and the ends of said electrodes are preferably capped with
of a chamber of glass or other non-conducting material
a non-insulating material, such as glass. End caps 24 and
-approximately half filled with mercury. A center post or 35 25, respectively, are preferably substantially spherical in
tion of each end cap sphere attached to each contact elec~
spaced about the periphery of the chamber. The charn
trode fabricated so as to provide a plane 46 (FIGURE 6)
ber Ithus becomes a rotary electrical switch in which at
parallel to the surface of the body of mercury at the
least one of the electrical contacts serving as a common 40 lposition wherein contact ybetween said end cap and said
electrode is in constant contact with the body of mercury
body of mercury is made or broken. The contact elec
as the entire assembly is rotated. The contacts can be
trode is preferentially attached to the center portion of
provided with non-conducting end caps which operate to
the `parallel plane. Common electrodes 26 and 26’ are
make or break the electrical circuit rapidly upon immer
positioned 180° apart so that for any position of rotation
sion or Withdrawal from the mercury pool. Thus, quick 45 at least one of the common electrodes is lin contact with
making, quick-breaking is achieved, even with slow rota
the body of mercury. Additional electrical contact elec~
tion, and arcing is minimized.
trodes can be positioned throughout chamber 10 and, as
FIGURE l is an exploded view of a preferred form of
previously disclosed, it is Within the scope of this inven
the inventive rotary mercury switch.
50 tion to provide a mercury chamber having only one con
FIGURE 2 is a partial cutaway front View of one of the
tact electrode in addition to the previously described
mercury chambers of FIGURE 1.
common electrode.
FIGURE 3 is a side view of a mercury chamber sup
A means of »supporting mercury chamber 1t) about shaft
port of FIGURE l.
17 is illustrated by FIGURE 3. Support member 14 is
FIGURE 4 is a cross-sectional view of another embodi 55 friction mounted upon shaft 17, rotating in the same
chamber rotates land two or more electrical contacts are
ment of the inventive rotary mercury switch taken «along
the lines 4-4 of FIGURE 5.
FIGURE 5 is a cross-sectional view of FIGURE 4
taken along the lines 5_5.
manner as shaft 17. Rotation is thereby directly imparted
to mercury chamber 10.
FIGURE 4 illustrates another form of the rotary mer
cury switch. A mercury chamber is formed by -a back
FIGURE 6 is an enlarged view of an electrical contact 60 plate Si), adjustable rotatable wafers 27, 28 and 29, and a
with `a non-conducting end cap.
bolted face plate 31. As wafers 27, 28 and Z9 must be
Referring to the drawing, FIGURE 1 illustrates three
Amercury chambers (10, 11 and 12) independently friction
.fmounted upon support members 14, 15 and 16, respective
capable of being independently rotated about «shaft 32,
the mercury chamber is fabricated from .a material such
as plastic, permitting wafers 27, 28 and 29 to be independ
3,087,036
3
ently rotated and at the same time maintaining a sealed
mercury chamber. A means of rotating the wafers is
illustrated in FIGURE 5, wherein a rotating Iarm 34 is
attached to wafer 27. A common electrode 33 is at
tached to shaft 32 `so that for any rotation of wafer 27
within an arc of 180° common electrode 33 will remain
in contact with the body of mercury 3S. It is, of course,
to be understood that should it be desirable to adjust
4
The rotary switch of FIGURE 1 can be attached direct
ly to a conventional tank level recorder so as to operate
directly off the pivot point of the recorder. 'Ihe mercury
switch will then rotate with the rotary motion of the indi
cating arm. As the level indicating arm rotates through
its given arc, the switch als-o rotates through the same
arc. The switch can t-hus be used to open valves, close
valves or start pumps in response to a recorded tank
level. The rotary switch creates no noticeable drag or
wafer 27 so as to be operable within a rotation «arc of
360°, common electrode 33 can be `so positioned so as to 10 additional hysteresis to the level indicator as there is
no additional friction in the action of the switch and no
remain in constant contact with the body of mercury 3S
overbalancing effect of the mercury. The unique snap
through a lrotation of 360°. Electrical contact electrodes
action eiîect on contact opening and closing is obtained
36 and 37 with non-conducting insulating end caps 38 and
by utilization of mercury surface tension in the aforemen
39, respectively, are positioned so as to be immersed in
tioned described manner.
the body of mercury 35 at certain positions of rotation of
As is evident to those skilled in lthe art, other forms
the mercury chamber and at other positions of rotation
of the rotary switch illustrated in FIGURES 4 yand 5 can
said electrical contact electrodes 36 and 37 will be out of
be utilized in a similar manner.
contact with lthe body of mercury.
As will be evident to those skilled in the art, other
The operation of the rotary mercury switch will be
discussed as it applies to the form illustrated »in FIGURES 20 modifications of this invention can be made, or followed,
inthe light of the foregoing disclosure and discussion, with
l and 2. The operational principles are equally applicable
out departing from the spirit or scope thereof.
to the form illustrated by FIGURES 4 and 5. Electrical
I claim:
contact electrodes 22 and 23 are attached to separate
1. A rotary mercury switch comprising an annular in
electrical circuits, both electrical circuits having a common
electrode 26. In the present position illustrated by FIG 25 sulated rotatable mercury chamber with a horizontal axis
of rotation, said chamber containing a body of mercury
URE 2, the body of mercury 21 is bridging the gap
substantially ñlling a portion of said mercury chamber;
between contact electrode 22 and common electrode 26,
a plurality of contact electrodes extending into the interior
thus completing or closing the electrical circuit. As the
of said mercury chamber, -said contact electrodes being
mercury is not in Contact with contact electrode 23, only
non-conducting end cap 25, the circuit containing electrode 30 circumferentially spaced from each other so that each
23 is open. FIGURE 2 illustrates the utilization of the
surface tension of mercury to provide a switch having a
qui k-make and a quick-break. As shown, it can be
considered that mercury chamber 10 is in the process
of being rotated clockwise. As contact electrode 22 moves 35
of said contact electrodes can be immersed in said body
of mercury in certain positions of rotation of said cham
ber and each of said contact electrodes can be out of
contact with said body of mercury in other positions of
reduced to a minimum. As contact between the contact
position of each of said axially spaced contact electrodes
independently adjustable with respect to said body of
rotation of `said chamber; said contact electrodes provided
with non-conducting substantially spherical-shaped end
upward, the surface tension exerted upon end cap 24
caps, each of said end caps being the ñrst portion of each
will cause the contact electrode 22 to lose contact quickly
of said contact electrodes to make contact with said body
with the mercury, giving a unique snap action effect in
of mercury upon rotation ‘of said mercury chamber and
breaking the electrical circuit. At the same time, the
mercury surface tension acted upon by insulating end 40 the last portion of each of said contact electrodes to break
cap 25 will cause contact to be made between the body Y contact with said body of mercury; and at least one
common electrode constantly immersed in -said body of
of mercury 21 and contact electrode 23 with the pre
mercury.
viously described snapping effect. By providing spherical
2. The rotary mercury switch of claim 1 wherein said
end caps wit-h parallel planes in the heretofore described
manner, contact between the body of mercury and the 45 contact electrodes are circumferentially and axially spaced
about and along, respectively, said horizontal axis, the
contact electrodes is evenly made `and broken with arcing
electrodes and the mercury is instantly completed and
instantly broken, arcing is minimized. It is preferred
mercury.
3. A rotary mercury switch comprising an annular in
that the contact electrodes 2‘2 and 23 be positioned so 50
sulated rotatable mercury chamber with a horizontal axis
as to enter and leave the body of mercury 21 perpendicu
of rotation, said chamber containing a body of mercury
lar to the surface of said body of mercury 21 to thus
filling a portion of said mercury chamber; at least one con
insure a quick-make and a quick-break. With mercury
tact electrode extending into the interior of said mercury
chamber 10 having two common electrodes 26 and 26',
contact electrodes can so be positioned that throughout .55 chamber so that said contact electrode can be immersed
360° of rotation a circuit can be made and/ or broken.
Contact electrodes 22. and 23 can be so positioned that
in said ‘body of mercury in certain positions of rotation
of said chamber and said contact electrode can be out of
contact with said body of mercury in other positions of
rotation of said chamber; each contact electrode provided
containing electrode 23 is simultaneously closed. There
is no time lag. The utilization of this important feature 60 with a non-conducting end cap substantially spherical in
shape, each end cap being the ñrst portion of each said
is particularly adapted to those situations wherein one
contact electrode to make contact with said body `of mer
operation must be automatically commenced instantly
cury upon rotation of said mercury chamber and the last
upon the completion of a second operation. It is, of
as the circuit containing electrode 22 is broken, the circuit
course, obvious that electrical contacts can be placed at
any desired spacing and it is not necessary that one circuit
be completed at the same time another is broken.
Two or more mercury chambers, each containing two
or more electrodes, can be combined in the manner illus
trated by FIGURE 1. Each of mercury chambers 10,
11 and 12 are rotatably positioned about shaft 17 inde
pendent of the other mercury chambers. A rotating mo
tion imparted to shaft 17 causes mercury chambers 10,
11 and 12 to rotate in a like manner This rotation causes
electrical circuits to be broken or closed in the hereto
fore described manner.
portion of each of .said contact electrode to make contact
with said body of mercury; and at least one common
electrode constantly immersed in said body of mercury.
4. The rotary mercury switch of claim 3 wherein each
substantially spherical non-conducting end cap is fabri
cated so as to provide a plane parallel to the surface of
said body of mercury at the positions wherein contact be
tween said contact electrode and said body of mercury is
made and broken, Isaid contact electrode yattached to said
end cap at the center of said parallel plane.
5. A rotary mercury switch comprising an annular in
sulated rotatable mercury chamber with a horizontal axis
3,087,036
5
of rotation, said chamber containing a body of mercury
substantially filling the lower half of said mercury cham
ber; pairs of contact electrodes axially spaced along said
horizontal axis and extending into the interior of said
mercury chamber, the position of each of said pairs of
5
contact with said tbody of mercury upon rotation of said
mercury chamber and the last portion of each of said
contact electrode to break contact with said body of mer
cury; and `at least one common electrode constantly im
axially spaced contact electrodes independently adjust
mersed in said body of mercury.
6i. The rotary mercury switch of claim 5 wherein each
a’ble with respect to said Ibody of mercury, the ñrst mem~
substantially spherical-shaped non-conducting end cap is
ber of each of said pairs circumferentially spaced from
fabricated so as to provide a plane Vparallel to the surface
the second member of each of said pairs so that when in
of said body of mercury at the positions wherein contact
certain positions of rotation of said chambers said ñrst lO between said Contact electrode and said body of mercury
member is immersed in said body of mercury and said
second member is out of contact with said body of mer
cury, said ñrst Iand second members simultaneously inter
changing positions with respect to said mercury contact
upon rotation of said mercury chamber, each of said con
tact electrodes provided with a non-conducting end cap
is made and broken, said contact electrode attached to said
end `cap at the center of said parallel plane.
substantially spherical in shape, each said end cap being
Butler ________________ _.. Feb. 6, 1912
Corliss ______________ __ Mar. 22, 1949
the ñrst portion of each said contact electrode to be in
References Cited in the ñle of this patent
UNITED STATES PATENTS
1,616,546
2,465,066
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