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Патент USA US3094256

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June 18, 1963
3,094,246
C. P. FAZIO ETAL
BALLOON ALTITUDE CONTROL DEVICE
Filed Jan. 3,. 1961
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United States PatentO” "ice
1
3,094,246
. Patented June 18, 1963
2
portion of container 11 can be conical and be stoppered
with a complementary conical plug or a horizontally
movable slide.
A pressure responsive element 23 is connected to plug
18 by means of a uni-directionally telescoping or collaps
ing member. The pressure responsive element illustrated
is an aneroid bellows which externally communicates
3,094,246
BALLOON ALTITUDE CONTROL DEVICE
Charles P. Fazio, Hull, David G. Greenlie, Weston, Robert
M. Nelson, Arlington, and Beverly A. Nickerson, Con
cord, Mass., assignors to W. R. Grace & Co., Cam
bridge, Mass., a corporation of Connecticut
Filed Jan. 3, 1961, Ser. No. 80,230
4 Claims. (Cl. 222-52)
with the atmosphere. The pressure-responsive element
exerts a pushing force with decreases in atmospheric pres
This invention relates to an apparatus and method for 10 sure, and a retracting or pulling force with increases in
controlling the altitude of a balloon. More particularly,
this invention is concerned with a ballast releasing bal
loon altitude control device responsive to atmospheric
pressure.
.
Quite often it is desired to maintain an instrument
‘carrying unmanned balloon at a constant altitude. The
altitude of a balloon tends to vary during its ?ight because
atmospheric pressure. Bourdon tubes, such as those of
the helical or spiral type, can also be used as the pres
.sure responsive element as well as a simple, small encased
‘balloon.
The pressure responsive element is shown as being lo
15 i
cated within container 11. It can also be located above
or beside the container or below port 16.
of changes in its lifting capacity, for example, from the
The connecting unidirectionally telescoping member il
loss of lifting gas or from changes in the volume of the
lustrated comprises a rod 22 attached to the pressure re
lifting gas. The volume of lifting gas decreases when it
sponsive element 23, a hollow tube 19 which is attached
to plug 18 and receives rod 22, and a uni-directional valve
stem-lock 21 attached to the top of tube v19. ‘The valve
stem-lock is more fully illustrated in FIGURE 3. It
comprises a simple metal shape like the spring clips used
'cools after the sun sets. This is known as the sunset ef
fect. This loss of lifting capacity can be compensated
for by using devices which attach to the balloon and op
erate to increase or decrease the gross lift of the balloon
as by adding or releasing lifting gas or by releasing ballast. 25 to attach trim to automobiles. It has a center opening
to receive rod 22 and two downwardly inclined locking
A device used to control the altitude of a balloon is de
sirably a light automatic mechanical device of simple
tabs 32 in the center opening, only one of which is shown.
The tabs 32 resiliently engage rod 22 and permit the rod
construction. It should be reliable and reasonably sensi
‘ tive.
to slide downwardly through the opening, but pinch and
A balloon altitude control device customarily re
ceives rough handling during the launching of the balloon. 30 hold it when the rod attempts to move upwardly. Equiva
lent friction or slip-lock designs can be used if desired.
Also, they are quite often used only once, i.e. they are lost
with the balloon. Those devices which are of “foolproof”
The telescoping member can have other constructions,
simplicity, inexpensive, and rugged are prized.
e.g. a ratchet arrangement can be formed by threading
the inside of tube 19 and placing an upwardly opening
The balloon altitude control device of the present inven
tion meets these criteria. It controls the gross lift of the 35 V-spring on the bottom of rod 22, with the V-spring en
gaging the threads of the tube. This permits the requisite
balloon and thus its altitude by jettisoning ballast respon
'sive to atmospheric pressure increases. This device has
‘telescoping of the connecting member but does not per
a simple reliable mechanical design which is automatic
mit it to elongate. If a lateral motion is desired to open
in nature and inexpensive. Its control action is such that
a .valve such as a slide valve, then the telescoping mem
it does not release ballast during ‘ascent of the balloon, 40 ber can ‘be connected to the valve means by a pivot joint
but becomes operative when the balloon has reached the
a?ixed to the container, in which case it may be desirable
desired altitude and starts to descend.
The device of the present invention will become clear
from the following description of the drawings attached
to and forming a part of this speci?cation. FIGURE 1
is an elevational view in section of the ballast releasing
device showing the device When it is ascending. FIG
URE 2 is a similar elevational view showing the device
when it is descending and releasing ballast. FIGURE 3
to locate the pressure responsive element beside or below
‘the container. The mechanical action of the bellows can
be magni?ed or increased by suitable means, e.g., in the
arrangement shown, bellows 23 can connect to the short
end of .a pivot linkage, with the longer end of the pivot
linkage connecting to rod 22.
The whole of the device including the bellows can be
made of a plastic such as polyethylene or a phenol
is a view showing a typical uni-directional valve stem 50 formaldehyde, or certain parts can be made of a plastic
and others of metal. For example, elements 23, 22, and
lock which is utilized as element in this invention. Like
parts in the drawings have the same numbers.
21 and 19 can be made of metal and the remainder can
hollow container 11, which serves as a reservoir for bal
be made of molded polyethylene. Absolute accuracy of
the pressure responsive element is not necessary because
ballast can be a liquid such as ‘kerosene which does not
tainer 11 through openings ‘~14 with plug 18 being seated
In general, the device of this invention consists of a
last 12. The upper end of the container is provided with 55 the altitude control device is self-adjusting. Thus, an ex
pensive bellows construction is not needed. Suitable load
one or more openings :14 for loading the ballast. The
loops or attaching means are placed on container 11 to
lower end of the container is provided with an opening or
permit the device to be attached to the balloon.
port 16 which serves as a discharge port for the ballast.
As an example, the device may be sized to hold about
The ‘drawings illustrate container 11 as having a two
800 grams of kerosene and be used to control the flight
piece construction, with cap 15 which contains port 16
of a 20-foot diameter balloon designed to reach an alti
being attached to the lower end portion of the container
tude of 100,000 feet. The kerosene is placed into con
:11. A one piece structure can, of course, be used. The
freeze at the low temperature encountered at high alti 65 in port 16 at the time. When the balloon is relased and
the ballast release device is carried aloft, the atmospheric
tudes, or it can be a suitable particulate solid such as iron
pressure decreases and bellows 23 expands pushing rod
?lings or bird-shot.
22 into shaft 19 and maintaining port 16 closed. This
A plug or sealing means 18 ?ts within port 16 forming
action is largely unrestrained and the overall length of
a valve. The valve is designed in this case to control the
the telescoping member becomes smaller. This diminish
flow of liquids. Other valve designs and container ar 70 ing in the length of the telescoping member continues un
rangements can be used to regulate the release of the
til the desired altitude is reached and the balloon levels
ballast, e.g., if a particulate ballast is used the bottom
oif. The altitude that the balloon reaches may be con
3,094,246
trolled by the proper sizing of the envelope and/or by
tain ?uid ballast; openable and closable ballast discharge
providing means for the release of the excess lift gas
means in the lower portion of said container; an aneroid
when the desired altitude is reached.
When the balloon starts to descend, for example, be
cause of the sunset effect, the aneroid bellows contracts
because the descent results in an increase in atmospheric
bellows operatively housed within the upper portion of
pressure.
said container which contracts with increases in atmos
pheric pressure and expands with decreases in atmospheric
pressure; a hollow tube connected to said ballast dis
charge means; a valve-stem the upper end of which is
This contraction exerts a vertical pull on rod
connected to said aneroid bellows and the lower end of
22. The valve stem-lock 21 prevents the two pieces of
which ?ts within said hollow tube; and means at the
the telescoping member from moving apart and as a con
sequence, plug 18 is lifted from port 16 and some of the 1O junction of said hollow tube and said valve-stem pre
venting the extraction of said valve-stem from said tube
liquid ballast is released. The amount that bellows 23
but permitting telescoping thereof, said tube being opera
contracts depends on the degree of change in the ambient
tive to open- said discharge means when said bellows con
atmospheric pressure. Thus, if the balloon has descended
tracts and to close said discharge means when said bel
only a small amount, plug 18 will only be lifted a small
amount from port ‘16, and the rate of liquid release will 15 lows expands to give intermittent opening and closing
of said discharge means as the balloon descends and
be relatively low. If a large descent has occurred, bel
ascends.
lows 23 will contract to a greater extent and port 16 will
3. A ballast releasing altitude control device responsive
be opened farther permitting more rapid release of the
to changes in atmospheric pressure comprising in com
ballast.
The release of ballast increases the gross lift of the bal 20 bination: a container adapted to contain ?uid ballast;
openable and closable ballast release means in the lower
loon and the balloon ascends. In ascending the atmos
portion of said container; a pressure responsive element
pheric pressure decreases and bellows 23 expands. This
communicating with the atmosphere and adapted to exert
forces plug 18 to close port 16 and stops the release of
a pushing force with decreases in atmospheric pressure
ballast. If the balloon again star-ts to descend, bellows
23 will contract and port 16 will again be opened to per 25 and a retracting force with increases in atmospheric pres
sure; and a uni-directionally telescoping connecting mem
mit the discharge of additional ballast.
ber attached to said pressure responsive element and
Having described this invention, what is sought to be
to said ballast release means which member is operative
protected by Letters Patent is succinctly set forth in the
to contract with said pushing force and thereby close
following claims.
said ballast release means and to be inextensible with
What is claimed is:
said retracting force and thereby open said ballast release
1. A ballast release device for attachment to a balloon
means whereby said ?uid ballast is intermittently released
comprising, in combination: a container adapted to hold
with increases in atmospheric pressure.
?uid ballast; openable and closeable ballast discharge
4. The device of claim 3 wherein said ballast release
means in the lower portion of said container; a pressure
responsive element which contracts with increases in at 35 means is a ball valve, and wherein said connecting mem
ber comprises a hollow shaft attached to said ball valve,
mospheric pressure and‘ expands with decreases in a-trnos
a rod within said shaft member and attached to said
pheric pressure; and a uni-directionally collapsing shaft
pressure responsive element and an uni-directional lock
having one end connected to said ballast discharge means
ing means between said hollow shaft and said rod, pre
and the other end connected to said pressure responsive
venting extraction of said rod from said shaft member.
element, said shaft being operative to open said discharge
means when said pressure responsive element contracts
and to close said discharge means when said pressure
References Cited in the ?le of this patent
responsive element expands to give intermittent opening
UNITED STATES PATENTS
and closing of said discharge means as the balloon de
scends and ascends.
I
2. A ballast release device for attachment to a balloon
comprising, in combination: a container adapted to con~
45
2,652,175
Davis ______________ __ Sept. 15, 1953
_ 2,904,285
2,924,408
Huch ______________ ._.. Sept. 15, 1959
Yost _________________ __ Feb. 9, 1960
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