LAKEWOOD, CO -- Adastra Inc. has licensed patents owned by Steve Shoemaker, a game inventor and chief executive of Wedges/Ledges, that gives the company rights to design and manufacture vacuum pickup retrofit kits for cranes.
The Beam Me Up vacuum crane retrofit is designed to convert any existing crane game easily. The vacuum pickup cup attaches to the existing lifting-string after the original claw is removed. The unit is equipped with a built-in switching regulator that accommodates all the voltages used in existing crane equipment.
The upgrade is self-contained and engineered to pick up a wide variety of target objects from capsuled items through DVDs, CDs, poker chips, gift and trading cards to all sorts of boxes and bags. It is supplied with complete installation instructions, and backed by a one-year manufacturer's warranty. An onboard microcontroller tracks plays and wins, and can be accessed with an optional handheld that interfaces with the machine.
Shoemaker's original use of the patent was in the CraneVac, a skill game that proved popular with players, but never achieved wide market penetration. Adasta president Foster Brashear is hoping to take the concept to the next level with an upgrade path.
"I got involved with the vacuum crane concept because I believe it has the potential to revolutionize the crane sector," said Brashear. "After 30 years of selling mostly plush animals, the sector is due for a breakthrough in new merchandise possibilities. Beam Me Up makes that possible."
Operators can adjust Beam Me Up win percentages by selecting among four different cup sizes for the pickup mechanism. Although counter-intuitive, the larger the suction cup, the less likely a win. This is because a perfect seal must be made between the suction cup and prize for a win – the larger cup is more likely to land outside retrievable surface area.
Holes in the prize (i.e. capsules) or other obstacles to forming a complete seal also make the prizes harder to win. The operator is encouraged to determine the best size cup for prizes in order to achieve the desired win percentage.
Toy 'n Joy, a supplier of bulk vending products based in Appleton, WI, is distributing the Beam Me Up kit at noveltiesagogo.com.
Because the kit accepts any input from 15V. to 60V., AC or DC, there is no concern for polarity. "This is one of the best features for people like me who know very little about electronics," Toy 'n Joy's Jonathan Becker said. "I don't need to know the voltage of the existing machine. I can even connect the two wires from the machine to the unit backwards and it will still work."
Beam Me Up is $777 for a single unit or $699 for 10 or more. More information is available at beam-me-up-crane-retrofit.com or by calling Adastra at (800) 638-4667.