CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION
This application claims benefit to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/715,126, filed on Oct. 17, 2012, which is incorporated by reference herein.
FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE
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This disclosure relates generally to alignment systems and methods, and more specifically, an alignment system and method for a sighting optic as may be used by a firearm or weapon.
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The use of scopes and sights on rifles to provide enhanced accuracy is well known in the shooting arts. In part, enhanced accuracy is achieved through a combination of the magnification of the lenses utilized in the scope and the reticle of the scope. The reticle provides reference features, such as crosshairs, to mark the center of the reticle as well as offsets for targets at different distances. The offsets are useful when the scope is zeroed/calibrated for a certain distance but adjustments need to be made when the intended target is located at shorter or longer distance than the zeroed distance. For example, if the scope is zeroed at 100 yards, and yet the target is at 300 yards, the shooter must aim high such that the crosshairs are positioned above the actual intended point of impact.
The distance at which a scope or sight is zeroed is important to know because, in part, there is an offset between the central axis of the scope and the central axis of the barrel bore of the firearm (e.g, rifle, handgun, etc). A typical offset is one or more inches. Though sometimes overlooked, because of the offset, the firearm should be maintained in a level position to enhance accuracy. In short, the scope and the barrel bore should be maintained in a level manner, in a perpendicular alignment with reference to the horizon. Rotation/canting of the firearm and scope when shooting reduces accuracy and will result in a bullet trajectory that drops at an angle away from the intended point of contact. When the firearm and scope are maintained in a level position, however, the trajectory of the bullet, particularly the drop after reaching its apex, is kept in line with the intended point of impact.
With this in mind, some shooters have made use of various forms of level measurement devices that are typically mounted to their firearm or scope in some fashion. One common drawback this technique is that the shooter is required to move their head away from a shooting position in order to check the level measurement. This is undesirable, and may adversely affect the shooter's accuracy. There are heretofore unaddressed needs with previous solutions.
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Example embodiments of the present disclosure can be viewed as providing a firearm sighting optic, comprising a body having a first lens at a first end and a second lens at a second end, and a reticle associated therewith and a level device integral to the body and providing a visual indication of a rotation of the firearm sighting optic with reference to a predetermined plane, wherein the indication is presented in association with the reticle.
Yet another embodiment of the present disclosure can be viewed as providing a firearm sighting optic with an integrated level comprising a body having an ocular lens at a first end and an objective lens at a second end, and a reticle disposed there between and a level device coupled to the body that includes a rotation sensor that detects a rotation of the firearm sighting optic with reference to a predetermined plane and an image generator that provides a visual indication of the rotation of the firearm sighting optic presented in association with the reticle.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES
FIG. 1(A) provides a schematic illustration of a scope view incorporating an example embodiment of the disclosure, with reference to the horizon.
FIG. 1(B) provides a partial cut-away view showing an example configuration of an illustrative example embodiment of the disclosure.
FIG. 2(A) provides a ball socket reticle configuration in accordance with an illustrative example embodiment of the disclosure.
FIG. 2(B) illustrates a crossbar socket reticle configuration in accordance with an illustrative example embodiment of the disclosure.
FIG. 3 illustrates a block diagram of a digital scope in accordance with an illustrative example embodiment of the disclosure.
FIG. 4(A-D) illustrate cross sectional views of reticles, in accordance with various alternate example embodiments of the disclosure.
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Embodiments of the present disclosure will be described more fully hereinafter with reference to the accompanying drawings in which like numerals represent like elements throughout the several figures, and in which example embodiments are shown. Embodiments of the claims may, however, be embodied in many different forms and should not be construed as limited to the embodiments set forth herein. The examples set forth herein are non-limiting examples and are merely examples among other possible examples.
It is to be understood that the following disclosure provides many different embodiments, or examples, for implementing different features of various embodiments. Specific examples of components and arrangements are described below to simplify the present disclosure. These are, of course, merely examples and are not intended to be limiting. In addition, the present disclosure may repeat reference numerals and/or letters in the various examples. This repetition is for the purpose of simplicity and clarity and does not in itself dictate a relationship between the various embodiments and/or configurations discussed. Moreover, the formation of a first feature over or on a second feature in the description that follows may include embodiments in which the first and second features are formed in direct contact, and may also include embodiments in which additional features may be formed interposing the first and second features, such that the first and second features may not be in direct contact.
In the following description, numerous details are set forth to provide an understanding of the present disclosure. However, it will be understood by those of ordinary skill in the art that the present disclosure may be practiced without these details and that numerous variations or modifications from the described embodiments may be possible. The disclosure will now be described with reference to the figures, in which like reference numerals refer to like, but not necessarily the same or identical, elements throughout. For purposes of clarity in illustrating the characteristics of the present disclosure, proportional relationships of the elements have not necessarily been maintained in the figures.
Aspects of the present disclosure are directed to a level that may be integrated into a scope or sight, also generally referred to herein as an optic. In this manner, the level may become part of or work in cooperation with the reticle. According to another aspect of the disclosure, the top cross hair of the reticule operates as a level, conveying to the shooter if the firearm is level or not. According to another aspect of the disclosure, the level serves as the bottom and/or side cross hairs and/or other usual indicator(s) integrated into the reticle and/or visually identifiable when viewing the reticle, which may indicate to the shooter whether the scope is level or not without having to remove the shooter\'s focus from the reticle of the scope or sight.
It should be noted that a scope or sight with an integrated level may be implemented in various formats including analog, electronic, or some combination thereof. It will be further appreciated that according to some embodiments of the disclosure, a scope level is integrated in the reticle and/or viewable through the scope in conjunction with the reticle. According to another embodiment, the integrated level may utilize a suspended pin or needle as the top cross hair (e.g. similar to a plumb-bob) of the reticle. According to another embodiment, the integrated level may utilize an accelerometer or similar device to determine the rotation or cant of the firearm where an indication of which is displayed to the shooter along with or as a part of the reticle.
Turning to FIGS. 1 and 2, a level device 200 is shown according to an example embodiment of the disclosure. The level device 200 may include a pin or needle 110 pivotably mounted to a scope body in a manner to operate as a top cross hair of the scope\'s reticle, and that remains perpendicular to the horizon. Thus, if the firearm is not level, that is, it is rotated or canted about the barrel\'s central axis, as depicted by rotation 120 in FIG. 1(A), then the top cross hair will not line up (e.g., be in parallel alignment) with the bottom cross hair. In this sense, the pin or needle 110 of level device 200 acts like a plumb-bob. A scope or sighting optic 200 is shown in FIG. 1(B) in accordance with an example embodiment of the disclosure. A first end includes an eyepiece 202 and an ocular lens 204. A second end includes an objective lens 206 with a reticule 100 disposed between the first and second ends. The level device 200 may be mounted within scope body in any suitable configuration that provides the proper movement of the pin or needle comprising the top cross hair of the reticle. In this manner, the shooter can maintain their focus on the target and reticule while adjusting for rotation. Additional example embodiments of level device 200 include a ball socket with pin 210 or a crossbar socket mounted inside the scope to a top wall with pin 210, between the ocular lens and the objective lens, as illustrated in FIGS. 1(B), 2(A) and 2(B).
Turning to FIG. 3, level device 300 is illustrated in a digital or electronic configuration. Level device 300 includes a processor 304, memory 305, and a rotation detector/sensor 306. Additionally, level device 300 is electrically coupled to a power source 302. In use, rotation sensor 306 generates a signal that is indicative of a rotational position or movement of the scope. Output from rotation sensor 306 is processed to generate a signal that is sent to an image generator 320 where a visual indication 310 is displayed to a user to indicate whether or not the optic is level, and in some embodiments, the amount of rotation if not level. Processor 304 may include code for reading the output signal from the rotation sensor 306 and for generating a display signal for the image generator 320. Image generator 320 may utilize a variety of suitable imaging technologies, such as laser diode, LED, holographic, etc., but in any case will generate from the display signal an indication 310 for presentation to the user looking through the sight of whether the optic is level or not and, in some embodiments, the direction and amount by which the optic is not level. For example, at least a portion of the optic\'s reticle may include an image, such as a top cross hair, displayed or projected on the reticle glass. The image may vary or move based on the rotational position of the optic, for example, accordingly to the amount of rotation or cant of the optic. This could be illustrated by varying or moving the top, bottom, side, or combination thereof, cross hairs. For example, one or more parts of the displayed portion of the cross hair may swing left or right if optic is not level.
According to one embodiment, a red dot sight may include a level device 300, whereby the visual indicator 310 is integrated into the red dot reticule that is projected or reflected onto a coated lens using an LED, laser, or other suitable device. The visual indication may also be one or more supplemental dot(s), whereby the dot shaped indicator may serve to simplify the sight since a small diameter image does not require a sophisticated optical reflector to focus it. It will be appreciated, however, that more complex indicator patterns may be used as well, such as cross hairs, concentric circles, or combinations thereof. According to another optic embodiment, a holographic sight may include a level device, whereby the visual indicator 310 is integrated into the reticule and is illuminated via a laser diode onto a holographic grating. Use of the holographic grating disperses the laser light by an equal amount but in the opposite direction as the hologram forming the aiming reticle and visual indicator, in order to compensate for any change in the laser wavelength due to temperature changes. While leveling may not be as important an issue with red dot and holographic sights as with scopes due to the shorter distances involved, use of a second emitter such as a LED or laser makes inclusion of an integrated level easier to implement.
It will be appreciated that power source 302 may take any suitable configuration, such as a battery, solar cell, etc. or any combination thereof. In some embodiments, components of level device 300 may be mounted outside of the scope, such as the power source 302 (e.g., to enable replacement of the battery). Level device 300 may include one or more processors 304, and one or more memory devices 305, as may be required. One or more memory devices 305 may be any suitable memory devices, for example, caches, read only memory devices, random access memory devices, magnetic storage devices, etc. One or more memory devices 305 may store data, executable instructions, and/or various program modules utilized by digital level device 300, for example, instructions that may be selectable by the user to provide different types of indications as to whether the scope is level and the amount of degree of rotation if not level. According to some embodiments, one or more aspects of the level device 200 are implemented with circuitry, firmware, or a combination thereof.
According to one embodiment, the rotation detector/sensor 306 may take the form of an accelerometer. It will be appreciated, that in other embodiments, any suitable sensor may be used including but not limited to an auxanometer, capacitive displacement sensor, free fall sensor, gravimeter, gyroscopic sensor, inclinometer, integrated circuit piezoelectric sensor, laser surface velocimeter, LIDAR, linear encoder, linear variable differential transformer (LVDT), liquid capacitive inclinometers, photoelectric sensor, piezoelectric accelerometer, position sensor, rate sensor, rotary encoder, rotary variable differential transformer, selsyn, tilt sensor, variable reluctance sensor, or velocity receiver.
Turning to FIGS. 4(A-D), level devices 200, 300 in accordance with certain alternate example embodiments of the disclosure may utilize on or more other visual indicators. Examples of such alternate visual indicators may include one or more colored dots that light up or light up in different colors if the scope is rotated or canted, the color or intensity of the a visual indicator or one or more of the cross hairs may vary, or the appearance or location of one of more visual indicators or cross hairs may be utilized to indicate whether or not the scope is level. Illustrative reticles in accordance with the present disclosure are provided in FIG. 4. For example, in FIG. 4A the top cross hair is operable to change in length and will not contact the cross member crosshair unless the scope is level. Alternatively, as shown in the embodiment of FIG. 4B, the position of the crosshair may remain constant relative to the horizon (reference plane) as the scope is rotated. In the embodiment depicted in FIG. 4C, reference indicators may indicate, such as by color, if the scope is level or not. Additionally, in the alternative embodiment show in FIG. 4D, the color of one or more of the crosshair members may change colors based on whether or not the scope is level, and/or with the relative degree of rotation of the scope.