Patent application title: Ball Shooting Amusement game
Haliburton Ron (Delray, FL, US)
Curtis Elrod (Boca Raton, FL, US)
Benchmark Entertainment LC
IPC8 Class: AA63F730FI
Class name: Amusement devices: games aerial projectile game; game element (e.g., target, etc.) or accessory therefor other than projector or projectile, per se playing surface or projectile struck from below to project projectile
Publication date: 2015-03-05
Patent application number: 20150061224
A shooting game amusement device is disclosed that includes a projectile
striker, a rotating self-loading annular magazine that holds game
projectiles and transports them to a location close to the striker to
allow the striker to propel them toward a target array. The target array
includes indicator lights that are activated when the targets are
successful stuck by game projectiles and can dispense tickets in response
to successful play.
1. An amusement device comprising a projectile striker, a movable and
self-loadable annular magazine for holding game projectiles and for
transporting game projectiles to a location close to said striker to
allow said striker to engage said projectiles, at least one target, said
target further comprising an indicator to communicate a signal if said
target has been engaged by a game projectile and wherein said annular
magazine is rotated by an engine.
2. The amusement device recited in claim 1 further comprising a controller, a credit detection device and a credit activation switch, wherein in response to the detection of sufficient credits, said credit activation switch may be activated and allow manipulation of said the projectile striker.
3. The amusement device as recited in claim 1 wherein said projectile striker is powered by a solenoid.
4. The amusement device as recited in claim 1 wherein said indicator further comprises a sensor and said sensor further comprises means to transmit a signal indicating that a target has been engaged by a projectile.
5. The amusement device as recited in claim 2 further comprising game projectiles and wherein said magazine, said targets and said projectiles are enclosed in a cabinet.
6. The amusement device recited in claim 1 wherein said magazine further comprises a plurality of depressions along said annular rim for receiving game projectiles.
7. The amusement device as recited in claim 5 wherein said magazine will continuously and automatically self-load said projectiles into said magazine.
8. The amusement device as recited in claim 5 wherein said projectiles are spherical.
9. The amusement device recited in claim 1 further comprising a ramp said ramp located within the circumference of said annular magazine and said ramp oriented to allow projectiles engaged by said striker to travel up said ramp and become airborne.
10. The amusement device as recited in claim 9 wherein the height of said ramp may be adjusted.
11. The amusement device recited in claim 5 further comprising a target array, a visual score board display and a ticket dispenser wherein said controller receives signals from said target array, and transmits signals to said visual score board and said ticket dispenser.
12. The amusement device recited in claim 5 further comprising a plurality of targets and each said targets further comprising a signal light that indicating whether the target has been successfully engaged during a game play sequence and said signal light is controlled by said controller.
13. The amusement device recited in claim 1 wherein said magazine further comprises a domed surface and wherein projectiles that fall onto said domed surface will be guided to the periphery of said annular magazine.
14. The amusement device wherein said target further comprises an opening through which projectiles may pass, and said target further comprises a sensor to sense a projectile passing through said opening and transmit a signal indicating that a projectile has passed through said opening.
15. The amusement device as recited on claim 1 further comprising at least one projectile guide, said guide oriented adjacent to the periphery of said wheel and posited to collect and projectiles from the interior of said annular magazine to positions on the periphery of said magazine.
16. The amusement device recited in claim 5 further comprising a magazine location detector, said magazine location detector further providing a signal to said controller reflecting the angular position of said annular magazine and projectile detectors positioned adjacent to said magazine to determine if a particular location on said magazine is provided with a projectile and transmit a signal to the controller reflecting the presence or absence of a projectile at a particular angular position on said magazine.
17. The amusement device recited in claim 5 further comprising a timer, and said timer counts down a provides a predetermined time period in which said projectile striker is activated and after said time period has elapsed, the controller deactivates said striker.
 The Applicants claim the benefit of the filing date of U.S.
Application No. 61/863,272 filed on Aug. 7, 2013.
 The present invention relates to a skill-based amusement game and more particularly a skill based game that is provides an award for the successful play, such as a redemption game. A redemption game is typically a skill-based game wherein a player is awarded tickets for the successful play of a game. The present game involves providing a plurality of balls on a substantially horizontal rotating wheel. The wheel is provided with small depressions where the balls can be seated. A player can control the timing of a solenoid to strike a ball seated on the wheel with a striker, propel the ball up a ramp and in the direction of a series or array of stationary targets. After a ball may engage a target, it will fall back to the surface of the wheel and, because the wheel has an elevation at the center and is therefore cone shaped, and because of centrifugal force, the ball will travel to the periphery of the wheel and find an empty depression. The ball will therefore be reloaded on the wheel and be located in a position that will again pass by the striker.
 In an embodiment, a target region includes a series of discreet targets in an array that resembles an arc. The player may attempt to propel a ball from the striker in different vectors toward the target array by timing the activation of the striker as the ball passes by the home location. If the solenoid is struck causing the striker to engage a ball at a location before the middle point of the ball is in direct alignment with the solenoid, the ball will travel toward the left side of the target array. If the solenoid is struck to cause the striker to engage a ball after the middle point of the ball is in direct alignment with the solenoid, the ball will travel to the right side of the target. The extreme right and left sides of the target array tend to be more difficult to hit than targets in the center of the array. In embodiments, the object of the game is to hit each one of the targets in the array within a predetermined time. Each target is provided with a light, such as a light emitting diode, and a pressure activated switch each of which is connected to a central controller.
 In embodiments, the balls are made acrylic. In alternative embodiments, the balls are made of bakelight, or other thermoplastic resin. In an alternative embodiment, the controller will randomly select a target in the array and provide a bonus when the target is selected. In a further embodiment, the targets on the extreme right and left of the target array are designated as the bonus.
 After play in completed, the score of a player is calculated and then correlated with an award of redeemable tickets that are then distributed to a player by a ticket distributor. In embodiments, if no player wins a game, a bonus award will continue to increase until a player successfully plays the game so that each of the lights are extinguished.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 There is persistent demand for new skill based games in both gaming establishments and general amusement centers such as arcades or family fun centers. It is generally accepted that customers are more likely to repeat visits to game centers if the game attractions provided by the operator are new and different. New games may also generate publicity resulting in increased traffic and increased play at such locations. In general, games that are popular are those having a game concept that is quickly and easily understood by a prospective player. In addition, the possibility for a large bonus or award adds to the popularity of games. The more popular a game, the more it is played and accordingly may generate more revenue for the game operator.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 Over the years there have been many games that incorporate a rotating wheel into the game concept. The motion of the wheel also serves as an attraction. Here a rotating wheel also serves as a magazine to hold a series of balls that pass by a striker that can activated by a solenoid. A striker impacts a ball travelling in front of the striker and causing it to travel up a stationary ramp to a target array. The target array detects successful impacts and sends a signal to a central controller. The controller will provide an award if preselected game conditions have been achieved.
 The present invention is a coin operated amusement device wherein, upon activation of the device, a player is provided with a predetermined number of strikes to propel balls toward a target. The wheel rotates at a constant speed and, in an embodiment, is powered by a stepper motor.
 The play of the game may be altered by increasing or decreasing the number of strikes given to a player for a credit, providing an unlimited number of strikes within a predetermined time, altering the number of targets, altering the nature of the targets, providing a further ramp, providing a movable ramp, altering the scoring criteria and altering the speed that the magazine wheel turns.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 FIG. 1 is a front view of a first embodiment of the invention.
 FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the play field and target array according to a first embodiment of the invention.
 FIG. 3 is a front view in elevation of the play field and target array according to a first embodiment of the invention.
 FIG. 4 is a side view in elevation of the play field and target array according to a first embodiment of the invention.
 FIG. 5 is a side view of the top surface of the play field and target array according to a first embodiment of the invention.
 FIG. 6 is side view in elevation of the play field and target array according to a first embodiment of the invention opposite from that depicted in FIG. 4.
 FIG. 7 is a rear view in elevation of the play field and target array according to a first embodiment of the invention.
 FIG. 8 is a bottom view of the playfield and target array according to a first embodiment of the invention.
 FIG. 9 is a schematic view of the controller and game elements in communication with the controller.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
 Now referring to FIG. 1, in a preferred embodiment of the invention, the device includes a case or housing 120 with a transparent window that allow for the viability of the playfield and target array 105 as well as horizontal wheel that rotates on a central axis. On the front of the cabinet below the solenoid switch 110 there is provided a coin or token acceptor that will detect genuine coins or tokens and send a signal to a central proceeding unit reflecting a credit has been detected. On the top surface of cabinet 106 are activation button that control a solenoid that activates a ball striker. Upon the detection of a genuine coin, a credit switch is activated by the game controller or central processor. Within the cabinet is a sign 115 that advertises and identifies the game and includes a dial that keeps track of the number of targets that have been activated. The sign 115 includes scoreboard 109 that displays scores and bonus conditions. A bonus may be incrementally increased based upon the number of times the game is played without a player successfully hitting a jackpot. As described above, in the preferred embodiment a jackpot is achieved when all of the targets in the array have been hit by a ball.
 Now referring to FIG. 2, a preferred embodiment of the invention includes rotating wheel 205 which is oriented in a horizontal position on support member 202. Wheel 205 is driven by a drive wheel 206 connected to a motor (not shown). A plurality of balls (not shown) are provided on wheel 205 that will come to rest and are seated in holes 208 around the periphery of the wheels. The balls are kept on the wheels by guide members 210, 211, 212 and 213. Wheel 205 is conical in shape and balls that are introduced to the surface will roll to the periphery urged by powered by gravity and the centrifugal force of the wheel. Guides 270 and 275 assist with the seating of the balls at positions at the periphery of the wheel. As the wheel turns, balls seated at the periphery pass by striker 220. A passage 220 is cut into that allow the vertical portion of the striker to engage the ball. If a solenoid that powers the striker is activated at a time when a ball is in direct alignment with striker 220, a ball is propelled up stationary ramp 230 toward the target array 240. As shown in FIG. 1 the target array includes 13 separate independent targets each of which include a spring loaded switch. In embodiments, when the switch is closed, a signal is transmitted to a central controller which extinguishes a light that is associated with the target. In embodiments the controller also activates sound effects and other lights to provide a signal to the player that a target has been successfully been hit.
 In an embodiment of the game, upon activation of a game credit the wheel will rotate and the striker is enabled. The direction that the ball travels is based upon the timing of the activation solenoid. If the ball is struck on the left side, the ball will travel to the right; if the ball is struck on the right side of its center point, the ball will travel to the left. The game may be configured for street locations wherein the object of the game is to shoot all the lights out that correspond to targets to win a gift card that is distributed directly to the player. In an alternative embodiment, the device will distribute tickets that can be redeemed for prizes. In an embodiment, an optical detector is configured to detect where there is a ball located at a particular detent at the edge of the wheel. If no ball is detected, the CPU will deactivate the solenoid as the location passes by the home position or striker location. A wheel position detector is also provided which measures a home position and send a signal to the CPU. The CPU can then correlate the location of an empty detent as it passing by the striker and the game is thus configured to deactivate the striker when no ball would be hit. In an embodiment the player is provided with a predetermined number of strikes or shots. In an alternative embodiment the player is provided with as many shots or few shots as implemented within a predetermined time period. For example, a player may be provided a 30 second time period in which the player can take as many shots as desired. In further embodiments, the player is provided with a predetermined number of shots that must be used within a predetermined time period. If the time period elapses and not all shots have been used the game is over and the shooting solenoid is deactivated and the CPU proceeds to calculate the score and provide any award that may have been earned.
 In a further embodiment, a player may be awarded extra shots for hitting more difficult targets. In this regard, the targets located on the extreme rights and left sides of the target array are more difficult to hit than those targets positioned near the center. If a player hits one of the targets located on the edge of the target arrays, the player is awarded with additional shots. In an embodiments, 48 balls are provided within the game and detents are spaced within the wheel is spaced where they will always find a depression and the location of the detents provides a space between each adjacent ball to provide the player a shot that is not impeded by adjacent balls. In embodiments, the balls have a diameter of 1.5 inch. The skill level can be controlled by adjusting the speed of the wheel.
 As seen in FIG. 3 the wheel 205 is attached to support member 202 by a central axle or drive draft 314 to allow for rotation. Wheel 205 is rotated at a constant rate and is driven by frictional engagement with drive wheel 206 which contacts the outer surface of wheel 205. Drive wheel 206 is powered by a stepper motor 309 that drives the wheel at a constant rate. In an embodiment the rate or rotation is approximately 10 RPM. On the upper surface of the wheel 205 are a series of adjacent circular holes 208 that are sized to receive and the balls that are used to play the game. In alternative embodiments, spherical indentations in the wheel may be used to retain the balls at location on the periphery of the wheel. The holes or indentations are provided around the entire wheel at angular positions.
 In embodiments, each hole or indentation is a provided a through hole and an optical detector is located at an angular position and in alignment with the through hole located at the periphery of the wheel. Infrared light is emitted from the optical detector. If a ball is located in the indentation location, light is reflected from the ball and detected by a photo detectors that are associated with the optical detectors. The light emitted and detector therefore functions as a ball check detection device. As the wheel turns each of the holes pass by the ball check detection device and if no ball is retained in the cavity, the light from the infra red light source will travel from the source and not be reflected back. Alternatively, a detector may be include a light source and reflective minor, and if the ball passes through the light path between the light source and the photo detector, the absence of a signal is interpreted by the CPU as the presence of a ball at the location. Roller wheels such as 318 and 317 support the wheel and facilitate the rotation of the wheel. As seen in FIG. 3, the ramp 230 is stationary and held in place by support members 260. It is slightly inclined with respect to rotating wheel 205. The wheel is mounted to the support member 202 at the center. A pin 314 that extends from support member 202 is received in a main wheel bearing.
 FIG. 3 also depicts the target array that includes 13 targets, include a center target 242 with the designation 0 and six targets on either side of the center target such as target 245, 246 and 247. The target array is support be support member 260. FIG. 4 depicts a side view of the device including the striker 220 and solenoid 405 that activates the striker. A spring biases the striker member 220 back against the solenoid. When the solenoid the striker moves toward the front of the device and the spring then snaps the striker back allowing a contact surface to hit a ball. FIG. 5 shows that the ramp does not extend all the way to the targets. After the ball come into contact with the targets they fall back to the wheel through a space designated as reference numeral 60 in FIG. 2. FIG. 5 also depicts guide members 290 and 291 which keep the balls on rotating wheel.
 FIG. 6 is a side view of the play field and includes support member 201 on which the wheel and target array 242 is mounted. Bracket 602 holds the striker and solenoid elements. The incline of ramp 230 is clearly illustrated. FIG. 7 depicts the back side of the play field including target array 242. A target sensor such as a spring biased switch 702 is provided on the rear of each target in the array. The bottom of the support member is depicted in FIG. 8 which includes apertures on which roller wheels such as wheel 318 are mounted. Also shown is stepper motor 309.
 Now referring to FIG. 9 a main CPU 901 or controller serves as an operator. Inputs to CPU 901 include signals from the coin detector 905 which provides a credit to the player and consequently activates the solenoid switch 803. Alternatively other credit detection systems may be used. The solenoid switch 903 controls the striker 220. Ball check optical sensor 909 remains in a stationary position with respect to the annular magazine and provides signals to the CPU 901 which reflect the presence of a ball in the depressions as they pass between the light emitter and photo detector. The signal to the CPU is generated by the photo detector.
 Now referring to FIG. 9, the operation of the device is controlled by a central CPU 901. The wheel drive stepper motor 309 is also activated and controlled by the CPU (not shown). The CPU 901 also provides a signal to the display driver 919 which controls the display 109 and which displays the bonus and scores to the player at a particular time. In addition, the CPU controls a sound amp 917 which powers speakers and a sound track which reflects conditions of the game and lights for the game 915. For example, if a win is detected the CPU may activate a sound effect consistent with the win. The CPU may also activate sounds in an attract mode. In operation, in response to a signal from a credit detector, such as coin detector 905 or other credit sensing technology well known in the art (magnetic card detector, token detector, dollar bill acceptor, etc.), when adequate credit is detected, a signal is transmitted to the CPU. CPU 901 activates the credit switch 907 which can be implemented to begin play of the game. CPU 901 then activates the solenoid 903 for a predetermined number of activations and begins a timer which times out a period in which the solenoid is active. As play progresses, CPU 901 receives signals from the target array 913 which include numerous targets and associated sensors. CPU 901 also controls the activation of lights on the target which are extinguished when a particular target is hit. It is the object to hit all of the targets provided on the target array 913. CPU 901 also receives signals from wheel position detector 911 and ball detector 909. As discussed above, if a ball is not present at a particular detent (or depression), the solenoid 903 is inactivated by CPU 901. In embodiments, tickets are dispensed from a ticket dispenser (not shown) also controlled by the CPU 901 when a player successfully engages a predetermined target or number of targets with the game projectiles.
 In addition to the spring activated switches of the targets that are disclosed, other targets may be providing including pocket locations that will retain a ball, passages, or moving targets. In addition, it is contemplated that other ramps may be provided that will direct the balls to targets provided at different elevations. Such ramps may be activated and rise from a primary ramp in response to a bonus condition.
 It will be clear to one skilled in the art that the embodiments described above can be altered in many ways without departing from the scope of the invention. Accordingly, the scope of the invention should be determined by the following claims and their legal equivalents.