Monday, March 31, 2008

Support to Human Upper Body Patent

United States Patent
(WWW.USPTO.GOV)
7,325,868
West , et al.
February 5, 2008
Tool for providing support to the human upper body when having to lean over to work
Abstract
A tool is provided for supporting the human upper body when having to lean over to work. The tool comprising a platform member for supporting the human upper body in a leaning position thereby reducing back muscle strain and fatigue; a cushioned pad secured to an upper surface of the platform member providing a cushioned interface between the human upper body and the platform; an omni-directional tilt and swivel member secured to a bottom surface of the platform member; an elongated telescopic height adjustment member comprising two or more elongated telescopic sections providing platform height adjustment, said sections being separable from one another so that sections may be removed or added as desired; one or more removable base members, the base member being removable to permit replacing the base member so as to accommodate base member configured for different floor or support conditions.
Inventors:
West; Steven D. (Mesa, AZ), West; Cheryl A. (Mesa, AZ)
Appl. No.:
11/390,926
Filed:
March 28, 2006
Current U.S. Class:
297/4 ; 297/411.23; 297/411.33; 297/411.35; 297/411.36; 297/411.37; 297/423.11; 297/423.12
Current International Class:
A47C 1/00 (20060101); A47C 1/031 (20060101); A47C 7/54 (20060101); A47C 9/00 (20060101); A47C 9/02 (20060101)
Field of Search:
297/4,411.23,411.33,411.35,411.37,423.12,423.13
References Cited [Referenced By]
U.S. Patent Documents
326185
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1417250
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1721221
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Jauregui
3063752
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3206249
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3312477
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4098478
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4397374
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Rumage et al.
4433870
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Bairen et al.
4565409
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4618029
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4641882
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4650249
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4653808
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4727958
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4925197
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5295728
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Schaevitz
5490716
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Naughton
5673966
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Morton, Jr.
5927797
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Ferguson
5927815
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Nakamura et al.
5954248
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Jasper
6062638
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Ferguson
6824149
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Whitlock et al.
6893097
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Ebensperger et al.
6926365
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7055910
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7070241
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Saulnier et al.
2007/0007400
January 2007
James
Primary Examiner: White; Rodney B. Attorney, Agent or Firm: Galasso; Raymond M. Galasso & Associates, LP
(WWW.GAPATENTS.COM)
Claims
What is claimed is:1. A device for providing support to the human upper body when having to lean over to work, comprising: a platform member for supporting the human upper body in a leaning position thereby reducing back muscle strain and fatigue; a cushioned pad secured to an upper surface of the platform member providing a cushioned interface between the human upper body and the platform; an first omni-directional tilt and swivel member secured to a bottom surface of the platform member; an elongated telescopic height adjustment member having a top portion and a bottom portion, the height adjustment member comprising: one or more releasable position fixing pins wherein said fixing pins are comprised of latching pins extending through one or more holes in an elongated telescopic section; a pin retainer key capable of preventing the latching key from becoming dislodged; and two or more elongated telescopic sections, each section having one or more pairs of holes, each section having a major axis, each hole in a pair facing alignment on opposing sides of the telescopic section such that each hole pair provides a hole completely through the telescopic section, the hole pairs spaced at intervals along the major axis of the telescopic section, the telescopic sections sized to be telescopically, slidably and supportively engaged with adjacent telescopic section, the holes in the adjacent telescopic sections sized and positioned so that as one section is telescopically adjusted relative to the adjacent section at least one pair of holes in the sections axially align at one or more telescopic positions so as to receive the releasable pin through the aligned holes, the pin supportively fixing the relative telescopic position of the sections, the pin being releasable so as to allow for further telescopic height adjustment, said sections being separable from one another so that sections may be removed or added as desired; a section omni-directional tilt and swivel member secured to the top portion of the telescopic height adjustment member, the second tilt and swivel member sized and configured to rotationally and retentively engage the first tilt and swivel member allowing the platform member to positionally rotate and tilt relative to the height adjustment member; and one or more removable base members, the base member being removable to permit replacing the base member so as to accommodate base member configured for different floor or support conditions, the base member further comprising: a swivel member secured to an upper surface of the base member, the swivel member sized and configured to supportively and removably receive the bottom portion of the height adjustment member, the base member to be replaced by another base member, the swivel member configured to permit the height adjustment member to rotate relative to the base; and a floor interface support means secured to the base member, the interface support means configured and adapted to provide support on one or more compositions of floor. 2. The device for providing support to the human upper body of claim 1 wherein the base swivel member is a socket assembly, the socket assembly comprising: a socket secured to the base member; a shaft member secured to the bottom portion of the height adjustment member, the shaft member sized and configured to be rotationally and supportively received into the socket, the socket assembly allowing the height adjustment member to rotate about the major axis relative to the base member, the socket assembly supportively preventing the height adjustment member from angularly tilting relative to the base member. 3. The device for providing support to the human upper body of claim 2 wherein the floor interface support means comprises a flat rectangular base configured to stable and supportively interface with a smooth floor. 4. The device for providing support to the human upper body of claim 2 wherein the floor interface support means comprise a tripod style base having three or more legs supportively interfacing with ground, the tripod legs angled outwards at the lower end so as to increase the stability of the base against tipping over. 5. The device for providing support to the human upper body of claim 2 wherein the floor interface member comprises an inverted U-shaped clamp for clamping to a vehicle frame or drive component. 6. The device for providing support to the human upper body of claim 2 wherein the first omni-directional tilt and swivel member further comprises a means to lock the position of the first and second omni-directional tilt swivel members. 7. The device for providing support to the human upper body of claim 6 wherein the first omni-directional tilt swivel member comprises a ball retentive socket; and wherein the second omni-directional tilt swivel member comprises a ball, the ball sized and configured to be retained within the socket.
Description
FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE The disclosures made herein relate generally to the field of devices or tools designed to provide support to the upper body of anyone who needs to lean over at an uncomfortable angle to work, and more particularly to devices having an extensible telescopic height adjustment frame, padded upper body rest, and a variety of support feet, as well as the ability to tilt and swivel to adapt to a variety of positions, thereby providing upper body lean support to the user engaged in tasks requiring an uncomfortable leaning body position. The height and swivel positioning allowing for optimum positioning of the upper body lean support to optimally carry the upper body weight and reduce work related back muscle strain, and provide greater comfort to the worker in performing a task requiring an awkward leaning posture. Those who would benefit include but are not limited to skilled tradesmen such as mechanics, plumbers, construction workers, as well as anyone who needs to work in an uncomfortable body posture. BACKGROUND Mechanics, tradesmen and other workers who are required to work for extended times at uncomfortable leaning postures are very much aware of the strains and fatigue encountered in such work. In the case of an auto mechanic, the mechanic may need to lean over a side of an engine compartment to access areas requiring his attention. In maintaining a leaning position without support aid soon results in back muscle strain and pain as well as strain to the neck muscles. In certain cases an engine, transmission or the drive component may be removed from a vehicle and placed on the floor for rebuilding or repair. Working on such a task for an extended period in a crouched or leaning position without means of support is a strain on the legs and back. When leaning over to work on certain large components or work pieces, it if sometimes necessary to find a way to lean or brace oneself on the component for body support to reach and perform the task. This is often undesirable as the leaning on the work piece can be uncomfortable or undesirable as the surfaces may have sharp protrusions, sharp edges and often in the case of machinery are covered in grease and dirt. In another example, workers in the heating and ventilation equipment field often need to work over low height equipment such as fans, compressors, and air conditioning equipment. Often servicing or installing such equipment requires one to crouch or lean into an enclosure for an extended time. Such postures are uncomfortable and can lead to back strain and muscle fatigue. As a further example, gardeners often need to work for an extended time leaning over to dig in the soil, to cultivate and to otherwise weed and care for plants. There is a need for a device which supports the upper body weight and reduce back strain associated with gardening. As illustrated above, there is a need for a tool or device that is easily assembled and adjusted to a variety of heights, that is compact in size, that is easy to move and carry from location to location, that adapts to a variety of ground or floor support conditions, that is light weight and low cost. U.S. Pat. No. 4,618,029 discloses an adjustable apparatus for assisting engine repair consisting of an extended deck, a ladder, and an extended U shaped base of a form resembling a swimming pool diving board with include a ladder. While apparently suitable for working over an engine compartment on an engine, a limitation of this lean support apparatus is its limited height adjustment, large U frame base and ladder making it unsuitable for gardening, and other tasks described above. U.S. Pat. No. 4,727,958 disclose an automobile mechanic's body support having an H shaped frame and adjustable rests for upper body and leg supports. A limitation of this body support is the elevated design with the extended front H frame, making it unsuitable for work on HVAC equipment and lower height tasks such as gardening due to the limited elevation adjustment range and inability to move in close to the work due to interferences from the H frame. U.S. Pat. No. 4,925,197 disclose a creeper assembly with a second body portion pivotally connected thereto. A limitation of the creeper assembly is that is does not provide a height adjustment, and again is relatively bulky in design. Therefore, a lean support tool that is light in weight, that is easily assembled and adjusted to a variety of heights, that is compact in size, that is easy to move and carry from location to location, that adapts to a variety of ground or floor support conditions, and that is light weight and low cost, such a lean support tool would be useful and novel. SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE Accordingly, embodiments of the inventive disclosures made herein comprise a tool for providing support to the upper human body when having to lean over to work. An upper body support tool in accordance with the inventive disclosures herein comprises at least three major components: A platform member for supporting the upper portion or chest area of the human body, an elongated user adjustable telescopic height adjustment member, and a base member to receive the base member and to transfer the weight to the floor or support member on which the upper body support tool rests. In an upper body support tool in accordance with the present inventive disclosure, the platform member is mounted to an upper end of the telescopic height adjust member by an omni-directional tilt and swivel means, the tilt and swivel means permitting the plane of the platform member to be angularly tilted relative to the telescopic height adjustment member to orient the platform to provide needed support to the upper body of the user. The swivel means permits the platform to be rotated about the tile swivel means mount point on the platform so as to permit alignment of the platform with the user's upper body position, and to swivel to follow the user's upper body position as the user performs the job or task at hand. In an upper body support tool in accordance with the present inventive disclosure, the telescopic height adjust member comprises two or more telescopic sections that are slidably and supportively received into an adjacent telescopic section. A locking means is provided to lock the relative telescopic positions of the sections to one another. When it is desired to adjust the platform work height the telescopic sections may be unlocked, the telescopic height of the height adjustment member adjusted to place the upper body support platform at the desired work height, then the height fixed by retentively locking the height adjustment member at the desired height using the locking means. The upper body support tool of the present inventive disclosures accepts a base member selected from a variety of base designs. Base members are of various designs adapted to stably interface with and transfer upper body support forces to the ground, floor or other environments on which the body support tool base rests. Base members include, but are not limited to, rectangular flat bases, tripod bases, and clamp on type bases as may be used, for example, to support the support body support tool on an axle. The upper body support tool of the present inventive disclosures provides a swivel member at the mounting point between the bottom of the telescopic height adjustment member and the base member, the swivel member permitting the telescopic height adjustment member to be rotated around its axis relative to the base member, while the swivel member supportively prevents the height adjustment member from tilting relative to the base. Turning now to specific embodiments of the inventive disclosures made herein, in at least one embodiment of the inventive disclosures made herein the tilt and swivel members on the base and at the platform can include a position locking means to retain to lock the angular alignment between the platform or base and the height adjustment member. In at least one embodiment of the inventive disclosures made herein, the telescopic height adjustment member includes three or more telescopic sections, and the height adjustment member is configured to permit sections to be removed or added as needed. For example, more sections may be added to extend the height adjustment range of the height adjustment member. Additionally, sections can be replaced with sections of differing lengths, for example shorter height adjustment sections can be replaced with longer sections to change the height adjustment range of the height adjustment member. In at least one embodiment of the inventive disclosures made herein, the upper body support tool is configured to be disassembled into smaller components for transport or to store between uses. In this embodiment the base, platform and height adjustment members are separable, and the height adjustment member may be disassembled into individual sections, or may be collapsed to the smallest size permitted by the lengths of the sections. Accordingly, it is an objective of the inventive disclosures made herein to provide an upper body support tool that provides upper body support to anyone including mechanics, tradesmen and other workers who are required to work for extended times at uncomfortable body leaning positions. It is another objective of the inventive disclosure made herein to provide an upper body support tool that transfers upper body weight forces from the back of the user and thereby results in a reduction of back muscle strain and pain, and permits the user to work in a more comfortable posture than if the user needed to hold the upper body in awkward leaning position using the back and leg muscles and an awkward and uncomfortable leg stance, including squatting. It is still another objective of the inventive disclosure made herein to provide an upper body support tool that provides a variety of base members configured to work with various floor or ground compositions, as well as offering the ability to supportively clamp to other elements in the environment for support such as an axle. It is yet another objective of the inventive disclosure made herein to provide an upper body support tool that is designed to break apart into components or disassemble to make the tool easier to transport and to store. It is another objective of the inventive disclosure made herein to provide an upper body support tool having a swivel means provided at the base and a tilt and swivel means at the platform member so as to permit alignment of the platform with the user's upper body position, and to swivel to follow the user's upper body position as the user performs the job or task at hand. These and other objects of the invention made herein will become readily apparent upon further review of the following specification and associated drawings. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS The drawings show a form of the invention that is presently preferred; however the invention is not limited to the precise arrangement shown in the drawings. FIG. 1 presents a perspective view of one embodiment of the upper body support tool in accordance with the inventive disclosures herein. FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a tripod style base for the upper body support tool in accordance with the inventive disclosures herein. FIG. 3. is a perspective view of a flat base for the upper body support tool in accordance with the inventive disclosures herein. FIG. 4 is a perspective view of an omni-directional swivel joint and platform in accordance with the inventive disclosures herein. DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS In preparation for explaining the details of the present inventive disclosure, it is to be understood by the reader that the invention is not limited to the presented details of the construction, materials and construction details as illustrated in the accompanying drawings, as the invention concepts are clearly capable of other embodiments and of being practiced and realized in various ways by applying the disclosure presented herein. FIG. 1 depicts one particular embodiment of the upper body support tool 1. The platform member 2 is provided and is sized to supportively span the width of a typical human upper body or torso. The top surface of the platform member is equipped with a cushioned pad 3 configured to provide a cushioned and comfortable interface between the upper body chest area and the platform member. An omni-directional tilt and swivel joint is secured to the bottom of the platform member. The swivel joint in this particular embodiment comprises a lower tilt and swivel member consisting of a ball, and an upper tilt and swivel member comprising a socket sized and configured to enclose portions of the ball while permitting the ball to swivel and rotate within the socket. The socket may include a friction stop or position locking member such as an adjustable collar to frictionally hold or lock the position of the ball in socket. Other types of tilt and swivel members as would be known to those skilled in the art may be substituted without deviating from the design intent of this inventive disclosure. In the depicted embodiment, the telescopic height adjustment member comprises a total of three tubular sections 6. The sections 6 are sized and configured such that the outside diameter of a section is somewhat smaller than the inside diameter of the section into which it is telescopically received. Each section is provided with pairs of holes 8, each section having a major axis along its length, each hole in a pair in facing alignment on opposing sides of the telescopic section such that each hole pair provides an opening or void completely through the telescopic section. The holes are spaced at regular intervals along the major axis of the telescopic section. Holes 8 in the adjacent tubular telescopic sections 6 are similarly sized and spaced so that as one section is telescopically adjusted in the adjacent section, pairs of holes come into alignment at one or more telescopic positions so as to receive the latching pin 7 through the aligned holes. In the depicted embodiment the latching pin 7 supportively fixes the relative telescopic position of the sections, preventing further telescopic adjustment of the sections and providing the means by which the sections can transfer compressive forces from the platform to the base. By design the latching pin 7 is removable so as to allow for further telescopic height adjustment of the height adjust member 6. Once pin 7 is inserted to fix the relative positions of the telescopic sections, a pin retainer key 9 is inserted through a hole 20 through the sidewalls of pin 7 at the insertion end of the pin, the pin retainer key thereby preventing the latching pin from becoming dislodged and releasing the telescopic sections to telescopically adjust. The latching pin 7 may be replaced by a spring pin, wherein ends of the spring pin extend outwards through the aligned holes of the inner telescopic section. The spring pin has a spring sized to be compressible under the applied force of the human hand. The spring pin extends through the aligned holes in the telescopic sections and thereby fixes the relative position of the sections. When the spring pin is compressed the pin retracts into the inner telescopic section, releasing the outer telescopic section thereby permitting the sections to telescopically adjust relative to each other. The lower end of the telescopic height adjustment member is pivotally coupled to the base member 13 through the swivel coupling member 12. The swivel coupling member allowing the height adjustment member to be rotated in the coupling member while preventing the height adjustment member from tilting or changing its angular relationship to the base member. In at least one embodiment the swivel coupling member comprises a socket assembly having a socket 17 secured to an upper surface of the base member, and a shaft member 19 secured to the lower portion of the height adjustment member, the shaft member sized and configured to be rotationally and supportively received into the socket, the socket assembly allowing the height adjustment member to rotate about the major axis of the height adjustment sections relative to the base member, the socket assembly supportively preventing the height adjustment member from angularly tilting relative to the base member. Other types of swivel coupling member as would be known to those skilled in the art may be substituted without deviating from the design intent of this inventive disclosure. As discussed above, the upper body support tool can be equipped with a variety of support base designs. FIG. 1 depicts on base member embodiment, particularly the axle mount base member 13. Axle mount base member 13 is configured to receive and rest upon an axle, shaft or other support arm member, providing a means of support to the platform by transferring compressive forces from the weight of the upper body to the axle. FIG. 2 depicts another particular embodiment of a base member of the upper body support tool. FIG. 2 depicts a tripod style base member 14 having a swivel member 12 at its center to receive the bottom portion of the height adjustment member, as described earlier in the swivel member discussion of FIG. 1. FIG. 3 depicts another particular embodiment of the base member 11, in particular a substantially flat relatively rectangular base having a swivel member 12 at its center to receive the bottom portion of the height adjustment member, as described earlier in the swivel member discussion of FIG. 1. FIG. 4 depicts the omni-directional tilt swivel member secured to the bottom of the platform member 2 in accordance with at least one embodiment of the inventive disclosures presented herein. In the depicted embodiment, the swivel member comprises a first omni-directional tilt swivel member 21, in the depicted embodiment a ball retentive socket secured to a bottom surface of the platform member, and a second omni directional tilt swivel member 22 secured to the top portion of the telescopic height adjustment member. In the particular embodiment depicted in FIG. 4, the second omni directional tilt swivel member comprises a ball. The second tilt and swivel member is sized and configured to rotationally and retentively engage the first tilt and swivel member allowing the platform member to rotate and tilt relative to the height adjustment member. Other types of omni-directional tilt swivel coupling members as would be known to those skilled in the art may be substituted without deviating from the design intent of this inventive disclosure presented herein. In a preferred embodiment, the height adjustment member is constructed of telescoping steel tubular shapes. The platform member is constructed of aluminum or steel, and the padded cushion comprises a soft rubber interior portion covered with a washable and durable formed vinyl or similar cover. The base is aluminum or steel. In a preferred embodiment the platform member has a width of 5 to 8 inches, and a length of about 12 inches. The padded cushion has a thickness of between 1 to 3 inches. By varying the lengths of the tubular height adjustment members the upper body support tool is envisioned to have an adjustable height range of 6 inches to 60 inches, in various embodiments. The discussed construction, illustrations and sequence of operation is for one embodiment of the invention, but is in no way limiting to other embodiments. The materials of construction and operating modes may be changed and enhanced without deviating from the intention of this inventive disclosure. For example, it is envisioned and intended to provide for the construction of the bases and telescopic height adjustment members from materials other than steel and aluminum, specifically materials which are known to be lighter and stronger and therefore advantageous in this application. The use of such alternate materials is envisioned as within the scope of this inventive disclosure. The use of lighter and stronger alternatives to steel and aluminum as would be known to one skilled in the art is intended and envisioned by the inventor to be advantageously applied within the scope of this disclosure. In the preceding detailed description, reference has been made to the accompanying drawings that form a part hereof, and in which are shown by way of illustration specific embodiments in which the invention may be practiced. These embodiments and certain variants thereof have been described in sufficient detail to enable those skilled in the art to practice the invention. It is to be understood that other suitable embodiments may be utilized and that logical, material, mechanical, software and electrical changes may be made without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention. To avoid unnecessary detail, the description omits certain information known to those skilled in the art. The preceding detailed description is, therefore, not intended to be limited to the specific forms set forth herein, but on the contrary, it is intended to cover such alternatives, modifications, and equivalents, as can be reasonably included within the spirit and scope of the appended claims.
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Friday, March 28, 2008

Automobile Anti-Theft Device Patent

United States Patent
(WWW.USPTO.GOV)
7,347,298
Perry
March 25, 2008
Gear secure
Abstract
This automobile anti-theft device comprises a removable stick gear shifter, release mechanism, and possibly a second level safety release mechanism, steel ball bearing, an exclusive shaft key lock component, and electrical connections depending on the type of transmission in use. These components are designed to function in unison to allow a car operator to remove a gear shifter to prevent automobile theft.
Inventors:
Perry; Alvin (Palmale, CA)
Appl. No.:
10/994,624
Filed:
November 22, 2004
Current U.S. Class:
180/289 ; 70/247; 74/473.12; 74/523
Current International Class:
B60R 25/06 (20060101); B62H 5/08 (20060101)
Field of Search:
74/473.1,523,529,536,548 180/287,289 70/204
References Cited [Referenced By]
U.S. Patent Documents
3564878
February 1971
Seatts
3865500
February 1975
Newell
4231241
November 1980
Lipski
4638882
January 1987
Sato
5211078
May 1993
McCarthy et al.
5251466
October 1993
Chang
5488846
February 1996
Green
5722452
March 1998
Gilmore
5791175
August 1998
Van Wyk
6116370
September 2000
Puigbo
6460426
October 2002
Kataumi et al.
6722711
April 2004
Kitzis
6927671
August 2005
DeBono
2006/0005660
January 2006
Rick et al.
2006/0076752
April 2006
Montague et al.
2006/0107782
May 2006
Perry
2006/0151987
July 2006
Marks et al.
Primary Examiner: Dickson; Paul N. Assistant Examiner: Amores; Karen J. Attorney, Agent or Firm: Galasso; Raymond M. Galasso & Associates, LP
(WWW.GAPATENTS.COM)
Claims
What is claimed is:1. A theft prevention device for a motorized vehicle comprising: (a) a removable gear shifter; (b) a mooring for anchoring the removable gear shifter; (c) a key located at the bottom of the removable gear shifter; (d) a lock on the interior of the mooring that corresponds to the key located at the bottom of the removable gear shifter; (e) a release button on the removable gear shifter that activates a steel ball bearing located inside the key on the bottom of the removable gear shifter (f) a first safety release button located on the removable gear shifter; and (g) a second safety release button located on the removable gear shifter. 2. The theft prevention device of claim 1 further comprising: a release button located on the removable gear shifter that activates an electrical terminal located on the key at the bottom of the removable gear shifter. 3. The theft prevention device of claim 2 further comprising: electrical terminals located on the interior of the mooring. 4. The theft prevention device of claim 1 further comprising: a theft prevention warning sticker placed on the motorized vehicle. 5. The theft prevention device of claim 1 further comprising: a flap hinged to the mooring. 6. A theft prevention device for a motorized vehicle comprising: (a) a removable gear shifter; (b) a mooring for anchoring the removable gear shifter; (c) a key located on the bottom of the removable gear shifter; (d) a lock on the interior of the mooring that corresponds to the key located at the bottom of the removable gear shifter; (e) a release button located on the removable gear shifter that activates a steel ball bearing located inside the key on the bottom of the removable gear shifter; (f) a first safety release button located on the removable gear shifter; (g) a second safety release button located on the removable gear shifter; (h) a theft prevention warning sticker placed on the motorized vehicle; and (I) a flap hinged to the mooring. 7. A method for protecting a vehicle comprising: installing a gear shifter into a mooring connected to the vehicles transmission; and pressing the release button on the removable gear shifter that activates a steel ball bearing located inside the key on the bottom of the removable gear shifter, the first safety release button on a removable gear shifter in conjunction with the sescond safety release, button, simultaneously, and removing the removable gear shifter from the mooring.
Description
FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE The disclosures made herein relate generally to a vehicle theft prevention device. Gear Secure is in the same general classification of protective equipment as the steering wheel and pedal immobilizers. BACKGROUND Over the years, there have been many inventions to help secure automobiles from being stolen to give an owner a feeling of comfort when he/she leaves his/her automobile. For example, audible and silent alarms have been designed to sound when a parked automobile is moved or senses motion. Unfortunately, these alarms often sound inadvertently. In fact, many people simply view these alarms as audible irritants and do not pay attention to them anymore. Even if people responded to such alarms, this type of system puts the onus on the car owner or other citizens to stop a potential car thief, potentially jeopardizing their own safety. Moreover, these audible alarms often sound alike and it can be difficult to recognize the source of the alarm. Hence, many users are forced to pay for expensive devices with more unique alarms sounds. In general, these car alarms are also not very complicated to bypass. It may only take fifteen (15) to twenty (20) seconds for a car thief to smash the window, lift the hood, and cut the wires to the siren. Alternatively, a car thief could short out the alarm with a high voltage charge even more quickly in many cases. Because the common occurrence of a car alarm sounding for 15-20 seconds will likely be ignored by most people, it will not serve as much of a deterrent for a determined car thief. Another invention, the CLUB, is a well-known car theft prevention device that has sold tens of millions of devices through the years. The use of the CLUB is actually an antiquated idea that involves relatively primitive technology. Unfortunately, the CLUB is also fairly easily circumvented. A car thief can simply cut the steering wheel in one place with a hacksaw and remove the club and steal the car. While the CLUB is more difficult to bypass than a common car alarm, it can still be done if the car thief has sufficient time. For example, in the evening while a car owner sleeps, the car thief can probably disable the CLUB in 15 minutes or less. Other car theft prevention accessories are also sold with the CLUB. A club cover (steel plate device that covers the steering wheel) can be utilized with the CLUB to prevent a car thief from sawing the steering wheel and removing the CLUB. However, this type of device is large and awkward to place on the steering wheel and to take off which may prevent many consumers from using it. LoJack is another car theft prevention device that deters thieves from stealing a car because the location of the car can be tracked. However, if the car thief knows what to look for after stealing the car, he can dismantle the device in a secluded spot before a car owner even reports the car missing. Obviously, this device also can only be used as a deterrent and a determined car thief could still steal the car if he was willing to take the risk that the car might be located through the use of the LoJack system. Unlike the CLUB or the present invention, LoJack does not truly immobilize the car. The physical kill start switch and computerized switch through an alarm are also inexpensive security features that can work well in helping to stop auto theft if the consumer is imaginative when installing it. Most consumers have their switch installed in a very common place which can be visible if the car thief should take a few seconds to look for it. Most car thieves know to look for a kill start switch if the car does start immediately. It may only take a thief a few minutes to locate this type of switch and bypass it. Other devices, like valet keypads and keycards that are waived by the steering column, are useful, but if the consumer forgets his code or loses his keycard, he will be unable to start his car. These devices, in the aggregate, can still be a good deterrent but do not solve the problem of automobile theft. Most thieves are able to bypass one or more of these devices. SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE In general, the Gear Secure system comprises a removable gear shifter, release button, key, lock and possibly safety release buttons, a steel ball bearing mechanism (like used in a socket wrench) and/or electrical connections on the key and lock. One embodiment of this invention is for use with automatic floor transmissions. In this design, a removable gear shifter can be detached from the mooring connected to the automobile's transmission. This type of removable gear shifter has a release button on the top and electrical terminals located on the bottom (key) that will send a signal to the electrical connections on the interior of the mooring (lock) to allow release of the gear shifter when the release mechanism is pressed. The bottom of the gear shifter with the electrical terminals has a unique key design to be inserted into the mooring. Electrical connections on the interior of the mooring allow the removable gear shifter to only be removed when the car is in park or the car is turned off. Hence, the removable gear shifter can only be removed when both the release mechanism is pressed and the car is in park or turned off. The interior of the mooring with the electrical connections has a unique lock design that corresponds to the key design at the bottom of the removable gear shifter. Another embodiment of this invention is for use with automatic steering column transmissions. In this design, as with the floor automatic transmission model, a removable gear shifter can be detached from the mooring connected to the automobile's transmission. This type of removable gear shifter has a release button on the top and electrical terminals located on the bottom that will send a signal to the electrical connections on the interior of the mooring to allow release of the gear shifter when the release mechanism is pressed. The bottom of the gear shifter with the electrical terminals has a unique key design to be inserted into the mooring. Electrical connections on the interior of the mooring allow the removable gear shifter to only be removed when the car is in park or the car is turned off. Hence, the removable gear shifter can only be removed when both the release mechanism is pressed and the car is in park or turned off. The interior of the mooring has a unique lock design that corresponds to the key design at the bottom of the removable gear shifter. Yet another embodiment of this invention is for use with manual transmissions. In this design, as with the in floor and steering wheel automatic transmission models, a gear shifter can be detached from the mooring connected to the automobile's transmission. However, unlike the automatic transmission models, the manual transmission model does not have electrical terminals located on the bottom of the removable gear shifter and in the interior of the mooring. Instead, it has one or more safety buttons on the removable gear shifter that will be pressed simultaneously with the release button located at the top of the removable gear shifter. When the release button and safety release buttons are pressed simultaneously, the removable gear shifter can be taken out of the mooring. The bottom of the removable gear shifter has a unique key design with a steel ball bearing placed inside. The interior of the mooring has a unique lock design that corresponds to the key design at the bottom of the removable gear shifter. Pressing the release button and safety release buttons activates the steel ball bearing mechanism and allows the key at the bottom of the removable gear shifter to be taken out of the lock located on the interior of the mooring. One object of this invention is to design a car theft prevention device that will be easy to install and remove. Another object of this invention is to produce a car theft prevention device that is unique to each vehicle in which it is installed. Another object of this invention is to create a car theft prevention device that is difficult to bypass. Another object of this invention is to provide a car theft prevention device that actually immobilizes a car. Another object of this invention is to create a car theft prevention device that is inexpensive. Yet another object of this invention is to create a car theft prevention device that can be installed or retrofitted for use in new, older and classic model cars. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 depicts a perspective view of the Gear Secure System for floor automatic transmission models. FIG. 2 depicts a perspective view of the Gear Secure System for steering column automatic transmission models. FIG. 3 depicts a perspective view of the Gear Secure System for manual transmission models. FIG. 4 depicts an overhead view of various lock designs for use in the Gear Secure System. DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS Gear Secure is an automobile theft prevention system that allows a car owner to remove his gear shifter from the automobile when he leaves the vehicle. When properly used, the Gear Secure System prevents a car from being placed in gear and stolen while the owner is away from his car. FIG. 1 depicts the preferred embodiment of Gear Secure 10 for floor automatic transmission models. In this design, a removable gear shifter 12 can be detached from its mooring 14 connected to the automobile's transmission. The removable gear shifter 12 has a release button 16 on the top and two electrical terminals 18 located on the bottom. These two electrical terminals 18 send a signal to the mooring's electrical connections 20 located on the interior of the mooring 14 to allow release of the removable gear shifter 12 only when the release button 16 is pressed. The bottom of the removable gear shifter 12 with the two electrical terminals 18 is fashioned into a unique key 22 to be inserted into the mooring 14. The mooring's electrical connections 20 allow the removable gear shifter 12 to only be removed when the car is in park or the car is turned off. Hence, the removable gear shifter 12 can only be removed when both the release button 16 is pressed and the car is in park or turned off. The interior of the mooring 14 is fashioned into a unique lock 24 that corresponds to the key 22 at the bottom of the removable gear shifter 12. FIG. 2 depicts the preferred embodiment of Gear Secure 30 for steering column automatic transmission models. In this design, as with the floor automatic transmission model, a removable gear shifter 42 can be detached from its mooring 34 connected to the automobile's transmission. The removable gear shifter 42 has a release button 32 on the top and two electrical terminals 36 located on the bottom. These two electrical terminals 36 send a signal to the mooring's electrical connections (not pictured) located on the interior of the mooring 34 to allow release of the removable gear shifter 42 only when the release button 32 is pressed. The bottom of the removable gear shifter 42 with the two electrical terminals 36 is fashioned into a unique key 38 to be inserted into the mooring 34. The mooring's electrical connections allow the removable gear shifter 42 to only be removed when the car is in park or the car is turned off. Hence, the removable gear shifter 42 can only be removed when both the release button 32 is pressed and the car is in park or turned off. The interior of the mooring 34 is fashioned into a unique lock 40 that corresponds to the key 38 at the bottom of the removable gear shifter 42. FIG. 3 depicts the preferred embodiment of Gear Secure 64 for manual transmission models. In this design, as with the floor and steering wheel automatic transmission models, a gear shifter can be detached from the automobile's transmission. However, unlike the automatic transmission models, the manual transmission model does not have two electrical terminals located on the bottom of the removable gear shifter 66. Instead, the removable gear shifter 66 has a release button 50 on the top. The removable gear shifter 66 also has a first safety release button 52 located next to the release button 50 on top of the removable gear shifter 66. A second safety release button 54 is located on the back of the removable gear shifter 66, a few inches down from the first safety release button 52. The release button 50, first safety release button 52 and second safety release button 54 must be pressed simultaneously to remove the removable gear shifter 66 from its mooring 62. The bottom of the removable gear shifter 66 is fashioned into a unique key 58 with a steel ball bearing 56 placed inside. The interior of the mooring 62 is also fashioned into a unique lock 60 that corresponds to the key 58 at the bottom of the removable gear shifter 66. Pressing the release button 50, first safety release button 52 and second safety release button 54 activates the steel ball bearing 56 and allows the key 58 at the bottom of the removable gear shifter 66 to be taken out of the lock 60 located on the interior of the mooring 62. The manual and automatic transmission versions of Gear Secure shown in FIGS. 1-3 could be interchanged, however, certain practical and safety considerations make this less desirable. Moreover, the location and number of release buttons, safety release buttons and electrical terminals can be manipulated without departing from the spirit of this invention. Although Gear Secure was originally designed for use with a car, other motorized vehicles may also employ the Gear Secure system. FIG. 4 depicts an overhead view of various sample designs for locks 70 (also shown in FIGS. 1-3 as 24, 40 and 60). In the preferred embodiment of Gear Secure, each lock and key for the removable stick will be unique in shape and size. In the event that a car thief would happen to break into a consumer's car and obtain a removable gear shifter of his own, his key will not fit in the lock of other vehicles and will not permit him to steal other vehicles. The lock and keys will have serial numbers matching the car should the removable stick malfunction or be lost. This will allow replacement by only the owner. In the preferred embodiment of the invention, the Gear Secure system for use with all models would further include a sticker to be placed on the windshield stating "this car utilizes the Gear Secure system." This sticker would act as a further deterrent to a car thief who would likely seek an easier target if he read the sticker. The preferred embodiment of the Gear Secure system for use with all models would further include a hinge plastic flap (74) to fit over the mooring when the removable gear shifter is removed to prevent dust and debris from entering the lock area. Gear Secure is manufactured using several interrelated components. These components include those that allow the product to act in the manner of a standard motor vehicle gear shift lever. Gear Secure thus employs gear shift lever shafts and handgrips as well as locking mechanisms in its makeup. The length and width of the components remain relatively the same as with standard gear shift mechanisms. Of course, Gear Secure is different from these standard gear shift levers because it is easily removable due to its design and component parts discussed in FIGS. 1 through 4. Gear Secure is constructed of the best quality materials commonly accepted and used in the manufacturing industry today. In the preferred embodiment, the metals used will be selected from available steel or alloys of steel and aluminum. The production process related to the use of these metals would insure that they were produced so as to be non-corrosive, durable and strong. The selected metals should have high impact strength and be able to accept and retain coloring materials for an extended length of time. The plastic used in the production of the preferred embodiment of Gear Secure should also be selected for its durability and lasting traits. Thermoplastics are commonly used in the manufacturing of components similar to those designed for Gear Secure. Polyethylene, polypropylene, and other similar thermoplastic materials would be among those considered to have the desirable traits. Members of this family are recognized universally as being versatile and high quality. The electronic components of Gear Secure will also be ideally selected from those currently having the highest industry ratings. These components would meet or exceed all safety regulations as well. Wiring and associated connecting hardware should be insulated and otherwise protected from intrusion by any harmful or degrading elements, including water, medium level temperatures, and low to medium impact force. The method of operation for Gear Secure will ideally vary depending on whether a manual or automatic transmission car is being operated. In an automatic transmission vehicle, as a vehicle owner leaves his or her car, truck or other motorized vehicle, he or she would press the release button located on the gearshift. The automatic transmission model will have two electric terminals located on the key that will send a signal to the lock located on the transmission releasing the stick only when release button is pressed and the transmission is in the park gear or the car is turned off. The gear shift would then be removed by the owner. In a manual transmission model, as the owner exits his vehicle, he would press the release button located on the gearshift. The first and second safety release buttons would also be pressed simultaneously with the release button on the gear shift to unlock the lock and allow the key to be removed from the lock. To accomplish this, a steel ball bearing activated mechanism will be unlocked with the activation of the release buttons. The gear shift would then be removed by the owner. It will be recognized by those skilled in the art that changes or modifications may be made to the above-described embodiments without departing from the broad inventive concepts of the invention. It should therefore be understood that this invention is not limited to the particular embodiments described herein, but is intended to include all changes and modifications that are within the scope and spirit of the invention as set forth in the claims.
For more information contact: WWW.GAPATENTS.COM, WWW.GOOGLE.COM, WWW.USPTO.GOV, WWW.YAHOO.COM
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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Trailer Illumination System Patent

United States Patent
(WWW.USPTO.GOV)
7,345,579
Nelson , et al.
March 18, 2008
Trailer illumination system test drive and method of use
Abstract
A trailer illumination system test device and method of use are disclosed. In one form, a device for testing the functionality of a trailer lighting system is disclosed. The device includes an in-series connection port operable to receive a trailer lighting system plug and a series of trailer light switches operable to simulate an operating condition of a trailer in tow. The device further includes an external power source connection operable to couple an external power source to provide power to simulate the operating condition.
Inventors:
Nelson; Carl A. (Summit Point, WV), Morphew; Douglas B. (Elko, MN)
Appl. No.:
11/290,406
Filed:
November 30, 2005
Current U.S. Class:
340/431 ; 324/504
Current International Class:
G08B 21/00 (20060101); G01R 31/00 (20060101)
Field of Search:
340/431,641,689 324/54,504,51 701/29 200/61.44
References Cited [Referenced By]
U.S. Patent Documents
3753088
August 1973
Ettelman
3800214
March 1974
O'Flynn
3816827
June 1974
Lynn, Jr.
4547722
October 1985
Sarlo
6218952
April 2001
Borland et al.
6535113
March 2003
Gravolin
Primary Examiner: Hofsass; Jeffery Assistant Examiner: Tang; Sigmund Attorney, Agent or Firm: Galasso; Raymond M. Galasso & Associates, LP
(WWW.GAPATENTS.COM)
Claims
What is claimed is:1. A device for testing the functionality of a trailer lighting system comprising: an in-series connection port operable to receive a trailer lighting system plug; said in-series connection port includes a six (6) pin round connection port; a second in-series connection port operable to receive a second type of trailer lighting series plug different from the in-series connection port; a series of trailer light switches operable to simulate an operating condition of a trailer in tow; and an external power source connection operable to couple an external power source to provide power to simulate the operating condition. 2. The device of claim 1, wherein the series of trailer light switches includes a brake switch operable to test brake lights of the trailer lighting system. 3. The device of claim 1, wherein the series of trailer light switches includes a running light switch operable to test running lights of the trailer lighting system. 4. The device of claim 1, wherein the series of trailer light switches includes a turn signal switch operable to test a turn signal of the trailer lighting system. 5. The device of claim 4, wherein the turn signal switch includes a left turn signal switch. 6. The device of claim 4, wherein the turn signal switch includes a right turn signal switch. 7. The device of claim 1, wherein the in-series connection port includes a recreational vehicle style flat pin socket. 8. The device of claim 1, wherein the in-series connection port includes a four (4) pin flat connection port. 9. A device for testing the functionality of a trailer lighting system comprising: a series of trailer light switches operable to simulate an operating condition of a trailer, the series of trailer light switches including: a power switch; a left turn signal switch; a right turn signal switch; a run signal switch; a brake signal switch; a first in-series connection port operable to receive a first plug coupled to a first trailer lighting system; and a second in-series connection port operable to receive a second plug coupled to a second trailer lighting system; and an external power source connector including a positive lead and a negative lead and operable to be connected to a direct current power supply sufficient to provide power to simulate the operating condition. 10. The device of claim 9 comprising: coupling means for connecting a trailer lighting system to the series of trailer light switches; and power means for distributing the external power source to the series of trailer light switches. 11. The device of claim 9 further comprising a housing having a top portion, a bottom portion, a side portion and cavity, the top portion including the series of switches. 12. The device of claim 11 further comprising an aperture positioned along the side portion, the aperture allowing passage of the external power source connector. 13. The device of claim 12 further comprising a first alligator connector coupled to the positive lead and a second alligator connector coupled to the negative lead, each connector operable to be coupled to terminals of a battery. 14. The device of claim 11, wherein the housing further comprises a front portion including an in-series connection port coupled to be coupled to a plug of the trailer lighting system. 15. A device for testing the functionality of a trailer lighting system comprising: a first in-series connection port operable to receive a first trailer lighting system plug; a second in-series connection port operable to receive a second trailer lighting system plug, the second in-series connection port different from the first; a series of trailer light switches operable to simulate an operating condition of a trailer; and an external power source connector including a positive lead and a negative lead and operable to be connected to a direct current power supply sufficient to provide power to simulate the operating condition. 16. The device of claim 15, wherein the series of trailer light switches contains, a left signal switch, a right signal switch, a run signal switch and a brake signal switch. 17. The device of claim 15, further comprising: an insulative housing having a top portion including the series or trailer light switches; a first power switch operably coupled to the external power source connector; and plural conductive elements housed within the housing and connecting the lighting system plug, the series of trailer light switches and the external power source in a predetermined pattern to simulate a specific operating condition of a trailer when at least one of the trailer light switches is operated.
Description
FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE The present invention generally relates to testers, and more particularly, to a trailer illumination system test device and method of use. BACKGROUND Traditional trailer light systems include wiring harnesses that extend to driving such as brake lights and turn signals located on each side of a trailer to indicate when an operator towing a trailer desires to alter a general driving condition of the trailer when in tow. For example, some conventional wiring harnesses extend from a rear portion of a trailer and are consolidated into one or more plugs that are coupled to plugs or connection ports of a vehicle. Such plugs or connection ports are traditionally located near a rear bumper or a trailer hitch portion of the vehicle. Unlike a typical vehicle lighting system, trailer lighting systems are sometimes exposed to extraneous elements and, as a result, periodically fail. For example, a boat trailer may be submersed into water as a boat is launched and docked onto a trailer. Such exposure to water may degrade a boat trailer lighting system at a later time. For example, corrosion or oxidation of a boat trailer lighting system may occur over time when a boat is stored. When a user desires to tow the boat trailer at a later time, the integrity of the trailer lighting system may be in question and, if failure occurs, may cause delays in departure times. As such, what is needed is a device or system that allows a user to efficiently test a trailer light system prior to departure without having to use a vehicle to couple the trailing lighting system to a vehicles connection port to test a trailer lighting system. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS A more complete understanding of the present embodiments and advantages thereof may be acquired by referring to the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which like reference numbers indicate like features, and wherein: FIG. 1 illustrates a trailer illumination system test device in accordance with one aspect of the present invention; and FIG. 2 illustrates a wiring diagram of trailer illumination system test device in accordance with one aspect of the invention. DESCRIPTION Various forms of a device for testing a trailer lighting system are disclosed. In one form, a device for testing the functionality of a trailer lighting system includes comprising an in-series connection port operable to receive a trailer lighting system plug and a series of trailer light switches operable to simulate an operating condition of a trailer in tow. The device further includes an external power source connection operable to couple an external power source to provide power to simulate the operating condition. According to another aspect, a device for testing the functionality of a trailer lighting system includes a series of trailer light switches operable to simulate an operating condition of a trailer. The series of trailer light switches includes a power switch, a left turn signal switch, a right turn signal switch, a run signal switch, and a brake signal switch. The device further includes an external power source connector including a positive lead and a negative lead and operable to be connected to a direct current power supply sufficient to provide power to simulate the operating condition. In another form, a device for testing the functionality of a trailer lighting system includes a first in-series connection port operable to receive a first trailer lighting system plug and a second in-series connection port operable to receive a second trailer lighting system plug wherein the second in-series connection port different from the first. The device further includes a series of trailer light switches operable to simulate an operating condition of a trailer and an external power source connector including a positive lead and a negative lead and operable to be connected to a direct current power supply sufficient to provide power to simulate the operating condition. FIG. 1 illustrates a trailer illumination system test device in accordance with one aspect of the present invention. A trailer illumination system test device, illustrated as trailer light tester 100, includes a housing 101 having a top portion 116 coupled to a main body 114 having a cavity (not expressly shown) for housing electronics, connectors, and wiring of trailer light tester 100. Top portion 116 is coupled to main body 114 using screws 115 although other coupling mechanism may also be used as needed. Trailer light tester 100 further includes an in-series connection port 102 operable having a cover 103 and operable to connect a trailer lighting system's plug to trailer light tester 100. As illustrated, in-series connection port 102a includes a convention recreational vehicle connection port having a six (6) flat pin configuration. Other types of connection ports may also be employed including a four (4) flat pin connector, an eight (8) pin round connector, customized connectors, or any other type of connector may also be used. In one embodiment, an adapter (not expressly shown) may be coupled to in-series connection port 102a to provide various other type of connector configurations thereby extending the number of trailer light test systems that may be tested using trailer light tester 100 without having to provide a separate trailer light tester for each type of trailer light system. Trailer light tester 100 further includes an external power source cable 105 including a positive lead 107 and a negative lead 106 operable to be connected to a direct current power supply (not expressly shown) sufficient to provide power to simulate an operating condition for a trailer light system. Positive lead 107 and negative lead 106 are illustrated as alligator type connector or clips operable to be temporarily coupled to terminals of a direct current battery such as a vehicle battery, a motorcycle battery, a marine battery, etc. sufficient to power a trailer light system. Cable 105 is preferably an insulated cable having a wire gauge size sufficient to conduct a current from a power source to power a trailer light system. In one embodiment, trailer light tester 100 may include a safety fuse to protect trailer tester 100 and/or trailer light system if an undesirable operating condition exists thereby providing protection to trailer light tester 100, a trailer light system, and an operator of trailer light tester 100. Trailer light tester 100 further includes a series of trailer light switches operable to simulate an operating condition of a trailer including a left turn signal switch 109, a right turn signal switch 110, a running light or run switch 111 and a brake switch 112. Other switches may also be employed such as a reverse light switch, secondary run light switch, spot light switch, or any other type of switch that may be employed for testing functionality of a trailer lighting system. Trailer light tester 100 further includes a power or hot switch 108 operable to apply power to trailer light system to energize the trailer light system using power provided by cable 105. During use, a user couples a plug (not expressly shown) to a trailer light system to in-series connection port 102a and connects power to trailer light tester 100 by connecting a power source to positive terminal 106 and negative terminal 107. A user may then energize trailer light tester 100 by turning power switch 108 to the `hot` position and place each switch or a combination of switches to a desired position to test the trailer light system. For example, a user may place left turn signal switch 109 to the `left signal` position and may subsequently check the trailer light system's left turn signal to see if it is illuminated. If the left turn signal is illuminated, a user may return the left signal switch 109 to the `off` position. However, if the left turn signal is not illuminated, a user may troubleshoot and repair the left turn signal and retest as needed. For example, a user may replace a light bulb, check wiring, etc. to locate the problem and repair accordingly. The left turn signal may then be tested again by placing left turn signal switch 109 to the `left signal` operating position. Similarly, a user may place right turn signal switch 110 to the `right signal` position to test the trailer light system's right turn signal to see if the right turn signal light is illuminated. Upon finishing testing, a user may place right turn signal switch 110 to the `off` position and may activate run switch 111 and brake switch 112 as needed to complete testing of a trailer light system. A user may also activate plural switches to test more than one operating condition for a trailer light system. For example, a user may place run switch 111 to the `run` position to simulate a low light driving condition. Additionally, a user may select one or more of the remaining switches to ensure the associated lights are activated when tested. For example, a user may ensure that turn signals and brake lights illuminate when run switch 111 is placed in the `run` position. Other combinations may also be tested as needed. Trailer light tester 100 advantageously allows for a user to test a trailer light system without having to connect a trailer light system to vehicle and allows for a single individual to troubleshoot or test a trailer light system without having somebody step on a brake, activate a turn signal, turn on a vehicles lights, etc. In one embodiment, trailer light tester 100 may include more than one type of in-series connection port 102a. For example, although illustrated as a six (6) pin connection port, trailer light tester 100 may include another connection port coupled to a portion of housing 101. A second in-series port 102b may be placed next to in-series connection port 102a, along side 113, or any other external portion of trailer light tester 100. FIG. 2 illustrates a wiring diagram of trailer illumination system test device in accordance with one aspect of the invention. A trailer illumination system test wiring, illustrated generally as tester wiring 200, includes a power source connector 206 coupled to a series of switches operable to simulate an operating condition of a trailer. Connected in parallel across power source 206 includes a power switch 201, a left turn switch 202, a right turn switch 203, a run switch 204, and a brake switch 205. Additional switches and/or configurations may also be employed. An in-series connection port 220 is coupled to each switch and is provided to interface a trailer light system's plug. In-series connection port 220 includes a six (6) pin connection port however other types of plugs having various numbers of pins or connectors may be employed. Each tester light switch is connected to an associated pin location and may be soldered to an appropriate terminal of in-series connection port 207. For example, power switch or hot switch 201 is connected via conductor or wire 210 to power or hot terminal 217 of in-series connection port 220. Similarly, left turn switch 202 is connected via conductor or wire 212 to left turn terminal 215, right turn switch 203 is connected via conductor or wire 209 to right turn terminal 216, run switch 204 is connected via conductor or wire 212 to run terminal 214, and brake switch 205 is connected via conductor or wire 207 to brake terminal 213. The negative terminal of power source is connected via conductor or wire 208 to ground terminal 218 of in-series connection port 220. During operation, a user may place power switch 201 to the on or closed position providing power to in-series connection port 220 to provide a power to a trailer light system. The negative lead of power source 206 is also coupled to ground terminal 218. A user may then select one or more additional switches as desired to energize a specific portion of a trailer light system by activate a specific switch. For example, a user may test a left turn signal by activating left turn switch 202, test a right turn signal by activating right turn switch 203, test running light(s) or marker light(s) by activating run switch 204, and/or test brake lights by activating brake switch 205. Each portion of a trailer light system may be tested by placing a voltage to an appropriate terminal causing an associated lighting circuit to be energized. One skilled in the art can appreciate that other circuit designs may be employed to provide a power source of voltage sufficient to test a trailer light system. Additionally, more than one type of in-series connection port(s) may be added to wiring diagram 200 to test trailers having various other types of connector types or trailer light systems as needed. Note that although an embodiment of the invention has been shown and described in detail herein, along with certain variants thereof, many other varied embodiments that incorporate the teachings of the invention may be easily constructed by those skilled in the art. Benefits, other advantages, and solutions to problems have been described above with regard to specific embodiments. However, the benefits, advantages, solutions to problems, and any element(s) that may cause any benefit, advantage, or solution to occur or become more pronounced are not to be construed as a critical, required, or essential feature or element of any or all the claims. Accordingly, the invention is not intended to be limited to the specific form set forth herein, but on the contrary, it is intended to cover such alternatives, modifications, and equivalents, as can be reasonably included within the spirit and scope of the invention.For more information contact: WWW.GAPATENTS.COM, WWW.GOOGLE.COM, WWW.USPTO.GOV, WWW.YAHOO.COM
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Monday, March 24, 2008

Aerodynamic Coasting Bicycle Patent

Aerodynamic coasting bicycle and method of use Patent # 7,322,592- 01/29/2008
Abstract
An aerodynamic coasting bicycle and method of use are disclosed. In one form, an aerodynamic cycling apparatus includes a main frame including a rear wheel mount and a front wheel mount. The main frame includes a light-weight material and a front wheel is coupled to the front wheel mount. A front wheel cover substantially covers an interior portion of the front wheel. A gearless rear wheel is coupled to the rear wheel mount and includes a rear wheel cover substantially covering an interior portion of the rear wheel.
Inventors:
Francis; Nalan A. (St. Croix, VI), Francis; Marilyn S. (St. Croix, VI)
Appl. No.:
10/999,556
Filed:
November 30, 2004
Related U.S. Patent Documents
Application Number
Filing Date
Patent Number
Issue Date
60533681
Dec., 2003
Current U.S. Class:
280/152.2 ; 280/281.1; 280/288.4; 296/78.1
Current International Class:
B62D 35/00 (20060101)
Field of Search:
280/87.01,281.1,152.2,288.4,152.1 D12/181,182 296/78.1
References Cited [Referenced By]
U.S. Patent Documents
D97461
November 1935
Bregman
2926927
March 1960
Enright
4326728
April 1982
Tatch
4732428
March 1988
Monte
D299220
January 1989
Trusky
4813583
March 1989
Carpenter
D301438
June 1989
Hanamura
5121937
June 1992
Lawwill
5131727
July 1992
Johnson
5275067
January 1994
Lew
D345725
April 1994
Camfield et al.
5324059
June 1994
Bryne
5603553
February 1997
Klieber et al.
D435817
January 2001
Lai
6450516
September 2002
Nall, III
Primary Examiner: Ellis; Christopher P. Assistant Examiner: Walters; John D Attorney, Agent or Firm: Galasso; Raymond M. Galasso & Associates
(WWW.GAPATENTS.COM)
Parent Case Text
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS This application claims priority to co-pending U.S. Provisional Patent Application having Ser. No. 60/533,681 filed Dec. 31, 2003 entitled "Coast-2-Coast", having a common applicant herewith.
Claims
What is claimed is:1. An aerodynamic cycling apparatus comprising: a main frame including a rear wheel mount and a front wheel mount, the main frame constructed of light-weight materials and no mechanical drive assembly; a front wheel coupled to the front wheel mount, the front wheel including a front wheel cover substantially covering an interior portion of the front wheel; a gearless rear wheel coupled to the rear wheel mount, the rear wheel including a rear wheel cover substantially covering an interior portion of the rear wheel; a front aerodynamic cover substantially surrounding the front wheel and a front portion of the main frame, the front aerodynamic cover formed to allow placement of a user's legs between the main frame and the front aerodynamic cover; a rear aerodynamic cover substantially covering the rear wheel and a rear portion of the main frame; a rear spoiler coupled to the rear aerodynamic cover; and a rear view mirror assembly integrated as a part of the front aerodynamic cover to allow the user to view objects. 2. The apparatus as recited in claim 1 wherein the main frame comprises an elongated frame. 3. The apparatus as recited in claim 2 wherein the main frame further comprises: a length at least five (5) feet; and a height no greater than three (3) feet. 4. The apparatus as recited in claim 1 wherein the main frame comprises a braking system operably coupled to at least one of the front wheel and the rear wheel. 5. The apparatus as recited in claim 4 wherein the main frame comprises aluminum. 6. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the main frame comprises titanium. 7. The apparatus as recited in claim 1 wherein the front and rear aerodynamic covers comprise a plastic material. 8. The apparatus as recited in claim 1 wherein the front and rear aerodynamic covers comprise a fiberglass material. 9. An apparatus for use with a coasting bicycle to provide aerodynamics during comprising: a front aerodynamic cover operable to be coupled to a front portion of a main frame of a bicycle along each side of a front wheel of the bicycle, the front aerodynamic cover sized to cover at least fifty (50) percent of the front wheel's laterally exposed face; and a rear aerodynamic cover operable to be coupled to a rear portion of a main fame of the bicycle along each side of the rear wheel of the bicycle, the rear aerodynamic cover sized to cover at least fifty (50) percent of the rear wheel's laterally exposed faces. 10. The apparatus as recited in claim 9 further comprising: a front wheel cover operable to be coupled to the front wheel to substantially cover an interior portion of the front wheel; and a rear wheel cover operable to be coupled to the rear wheel to substantially cover an interior portion of the rear wheel. 11. The apparatus as recited in claim 10 further comprising a rear spoiler operable to be coupled to a rear portion of the main frame of the bicycle. 12. The apparatus as recited in claim 9 further comprising a rear spoiler operable to be coupled to the rear aerodynamic cover. 13. The apparatus of claim 10 wherein the front aerodynamic cover includes at least one rear view mirror. 14. The apparatus of claim 9 wherein the front and rear aerodynamic covers comprise a plastic material. 15. The apparatus of claim 14 wherein the main frame comprises aluminum.
Description
FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE The invention relates generally to cycling, and more particularly to an aerodynamic coasting bicycle and method of use. BACKGROUND Road bikes today are constructed from a variety of materials, ranging from the traditional steel alloy to aluminum, titanium, magnesium and carbon fiber composites, to combinations of materials. Each of these materials has their own favorable aspect. Steel alloys are known to produce pliable frames that can be "tuned" for a particular type of riding. Aluminum frames are among the stiffer frames and are thus suitable for heavier riders or those that engage in high-energy pedaling. Titanium and carbon-fiber frames are more exotic, with better strength-to-weight ratios than steel or aluminum, but are higher in cost. The current trend among high-end frames is to use a combination of materials, such as aluminum or titanium for the main part of the frame and using carbon-fiber for the front and rear portions of the frame. When designing race bikes, two of the most important variables are its weight and aerodynamic drag. In order to reduce wheel weight and improve aerodynamic efficiency, racing bikes have fewer spokes; a typical number is 24. In some situations, the resulting weaker wheel may not be suitable for heavier loads, landing jumps, etc., since this could cause spokes to break. To reduce both air resistance and friction on the road, tires are thin and smooth. Drop handlebars and optional handlebar extensions are combined with a raised seat post in order to put the rider in a more aerodynamic posture. However, what is lacking is reducing the drag incurred from a rider being present on the cycle. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS Other advantages, features and characteristics of the invention, as well as methods, operation and functions of related elements of structure, and the combinations of parts and economies of manufacture, will become apparent upon consideration of the following description and claims with reference to the accompanying drawings, all of which form a part of the specification, wherein like reference numerals designate corresponding parts in the various figures, and wherein: FIG. 1 illustrates a side view of an aerodynamic coasting bicycle according to one embodiment of the invention; FIG. 2 illustrates a front perspective view of an aerodynamic coasting bicycle according to one embodiment of the invention; and FIG. 3 illustrates a side perspective view of an elongated aerodynamic coasting bicycle according to one embodiment of the invention. DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES An aerodynamic coasting bicycle and method of use are provided. In one form, an aerodynamic cycling apparatus comprises a main frame including a rear wheel mount and a front wheel mount wherein the main frame includes light-weight materials and no mechanical drive assembly. The aerodynamic cycling apparatus further includes a front wheel coupled to the front wheel mount and a front wheel cover substantially covering an interior portion of the front wheel. A gearless rear wheel is coupled to the rear wheel mount and includes a rear wheel cover substantially covering an interior portion of the rear wheel. In a particularized form, an aerodynamic coasting bicycle includes an elongated frame having a front aerodynamic cover substantially surrounding a front wheel of the bicycle and a front portion of the elongated frame. The front aerodynamic cover is formed to allow placement of a user's legs between the elongated frame and the front aerodynamic cover. The bicycle further includes a rear aerodynamic cover substantially covering the rear wheel and a rear portion of the elongated frame. In this manner, a reduction in drag caused by wind resistance is reduced allowing the aerodynamic coasting bicycle to accelerate at a greater rate during use. FIG. 1 illustrates a side view of an aerodynamic coasting bicycle according to one embodiment of the invention. Aerodynamic coasting bicycle 10 includes a main frame 11, a front wheel 17, a rear wheel 19 and a seat 15. Each wheel includes a height of approximately twenty (20) inches and a width of approximately (23) millimeters. Through providing wheel having the disclosed dimension, minimal roll resistance is realized during use thereby allowing for greater acceleration and operating speeds of bicycle 10. Bicycle 10 further includes a front aerodynamic cover 12 coupled to a front portion of main frame 11 and a rear aerodynamic cover 16 coupled to a rear portion of main frame 11. Bicycle 10 further includes a windshield 21 made of a clear plastic or plexiglass material and a rear view mirror assembly 13 coupled to and/or integrated as a part of front aerodynamic cover 12. Main frame 11 is formed from one or more light-weight materials such as aluminum, titanium, steel alloys, carbon fiber, or other types of light-weight materials having sufficient strength and durability for providing a bicycle frame. Main frame 11 is constructed for durability and strength with each joint being welded. Front aerodynamic cover 12 is formed to provide a streamlined shroud 14 for reducing wind resistance of aerodynamic coasting bicycle 10 when used. Front aerodynamic cover 12 is sized to allow a user to place a portion of their legs between shroud 14 and main frame 11 (not expressly shown). As such, aerodynamic cover 12 is sized such that it is sized and positioned at a distance from main frame 11 to allow for a user to place a portion or all of their legs along main frame 11 and behind front aerodynamic cover 12. In one embodiment, front aerodynamic cover 12 is coupled to front fork 62 and may be varied in width from approximately five (5) to fifteen (15) degrees allowing for aerodynamic variability of front aerodynamic cover 12 and ultimately bicycle 10 during use. Front aerodynamic cover 12 and rear aerodynamic cover 16 may be formed from one or more types of light-weight materials such as plastic, thermoplastics, fiberglass, polyethylene, polypropylene and the like such that a light-weight aerodynamic properties may be achieved. Each cover may also be finished or coated with a paint, glossy finish, wax, etc. to reduce wind resistance along each surface. Front wheel 17 further includes a front wheel cover 18 and rear wheel 19 includes a rear wheel cover 20. Each cover substantially covers the interior portion of each wheel to further enhance aerodynamics of bicycle 10. Each cover may be coupled to a portion of one or more wheel supports such as conventional wheel spokes using coupling mechanisms such as clips, plastic tie-straps, and the like. Each cover substantially covers the interior portion of each wheel to further enhance aerodynamics of bicycle 10. Each cover may be coupled to a portion of one or more wheel supports such as conventional wheel spokes using coupling mechanisms such as clips, plastic tie-straps, and the like. Each cover may be made of light-weight materials such as plastic, thermoplastics, fiberglass, polyethylene, polypropylene and the like such that a light-weight aerodynamic properties may be achieved. Bicycle 10 is provided as a non-mechanical bicycle that relies on gravity to provide acceleration during use. For example, a user may position bicycle 10 along a hillside or course having a downward slope to allow a user to coast downhill along a surface. As the user initiates bicycle 10 down a slope, each aerodynamic element of bicycle 10 contributes to increasing the overall acceleration or propulsion of bicycle 10 through reducing wind resistance that traditional downhill bicycles encounter. For example, wind resistance of a user typically decelerates conventional bicycles. As such, a user using bicycle 10 having front aerodynamic cover 18 allows a user to be positioned behind front aerodynamic cover 18 and windshield 21 thereby reducing wind friction that may be caused by a user. Additionally, through bicycle 10 having a rear aerodynamic cover 16, turbulent wind currents may be streamlined away from main frame 11 allowing for an overall decrease in drag that may occur as bicycle 10 accelerates downhill. In this manner, through providing a non-mechanical bicycle made of light-weight materials and aerodynamic covers, wind resistance is reduced and acceleration of bicycle 10 is increased during use. FIG. 2 illustrates a front perspective view of an aerodynamic coasting bicycle according to one embodiment of the invention. An aerodynamic coasting bicycle 25 includes a front aerodynamic cover 26 covering a substantial portion of a front wheel 27 of bicycle 25. Front aerodynamic cover 26 further includes rear view mirrors 28 positioned to allow a user to view objects behind or along side bicycle 25 during use. A windshield 29 further enhances aerodynamics of bicycle 25 allowing a user to be positioned behind windshield 29 to reduce wind resistance of a user while allowing the user visibility. Front aerodynamic cover 26 is operable to be coupled to a front portion of a main frame of bicycle 25 along each side of front wheel of bicycle 25. Front aerodynamic cover 26 is sized to cover at least fifty (50) percent of front wheel 17. Similarly, a rear aerodynamic cover (not expressly shown) is operable to be coupled to a rear portion of a main fame of bicycle 25 along each side of the rear wheel of the bicycle and sized to cover at least fifty (50) percent of the rear wheel of the bicycle. In this manner, a substantial portion of wind resistance, turbulence, drag, etc. that may be encountered during use of bicycle 25 may be reduced thereby increasing the overall acceleration of bicycle 25. FIG. 3 illustrates a side perspective view of an aerodynamic coasting bicycle illustrating a reduced frame height according to one embodiment of the invention. A downhill racing bicycle 60 that lacks a conventional mechanical gear system and includes stainless steel or aluminum foot pegs 56 for allowing a user to rest their feet during use. Bicycle 60 further includes an elongated frame 40 having a front wheel mount 41 coupling a front wheel 42 having a front wheel cover 43. Bicycle 60 further includes a rear wheel mount 44 coupling a rear wheel 45 having a rear wheel cover 46. A front aerodynamic cover 47 includes a windshield 48 and is coupled to a front portion of front wheel mount 41 using front mounting brackets 51 and a rear aerodynamic cover 49 is coupled to a rear portion of elongated frame 40 using rear mounting brackets 52. Front mounting brackets 51 and rear mounting brackets 52 may be coupled to various locations along elongated frame 40 as needed to securely couple front aerodynamic cover 47 and rear aerodynamic cover 49. In one embodiment, front and rear mounting brackets 51 and 52 may be secured using threaded nut and bolts, wing nuts, etc. allowing for each aerodynamic cover to be removed and replaced as needed. Durable plastic coupling mechanisms may also be considered for securely coupling front and rear mounting brackets 51 and 52. In another embodiment, front and rear mounting brackets 51 and 52 may be welded to elongated frame 40 to permanently couple front aerodynamic cover 47 and rear aerodynamic cover 49 to elongated frame 40. To further enhance aerodynamics of bicycle 60, elongated frame 40 may include a height 55 no greater than three (3) feet and a length 54 of no greater than, for example, fifty (50) inches as measured from front axel to rear axel. Through providing a bicycle having a reduced height and elongated frame, a lower profile or exposed surface area may be realized thereby reducing the amount of drag that may be produced during use. Bicycle 60 further includes a spoiler 53 coupled that may be coupled to elongated frame 40 and/or rear aerodynamic cover 49 and positioned behind seat 50. Spoiler 53 provides additional aerodynamic enhancement through reducing drag and providing a downward force to bicycle 60 during use. Spoiler 53 may be adjusted in a vertical direction and at various angles as needed to reduce back drafts that may result during use. For example, mechanical height and angle actuators or linkage may be used to increase or decrease the height and angle of spoiler based on the overall operational height of a user. Actuators or linkage may include brackets having a track for position spoiler 53 through various angles. Additionally, a height adjuster may include a first tube coupled to spoiler 53 and an sized to slidingly engage and fit within a second tube mounted to a rear portion of elongated frame 40. Height adjuster may include a series of apertures positioned vertical and sized to allow a spring actuated nipple to engage an aperature and allow for increasing and decreasing the overall height of spoiler 53. Rear aerodynamic cover 49 may also include an adjustable foot placement saddle 59 that allows a user to place their feet along rear aerodynamic cover 49 during use. In this manner, a reduction in wind resistance may be realized by a user placing their feet on foot pegs 56 or by a user placing their feet within foot placement saddle 59 thereby altering the center of gravity of a user as needed and enhancing the speed of bicycle 60 during use. Bicycle 60 is well suited for downhill racing through providing a light-weight bicycle having increased aerodynamic to optimize acceleration through non-mechanical propulsion means. For example, bicycle 60 lacks gears, linkage, chains, etc. used on a conventional bicycle. In this manner, a lightweight bicycle having streamlined aerodynamics may be provided to minimize drag that may be encountered due to wind resistance while allowing bicycle 60 to accelerate efficiently. Bicycle 60 further includes a mechanical or hydraulic brake system 57 that includes front and/or rear disc brakes and at least on actuator (not expressly shown) for slowing and stopping bicycle 60 during use. Additionally, bicycle 60 includes handlebars 58 operatively coupled to elongated frame 40 for providing directional control of bicycle 60. Note that although an embodiment of the invention has been shown and described in detail herein, along with certain variants thereof, many other varied embodiments that incorporate the teachings of the invention may be easily constructed by those skilled in the art. Benefits, other advantages, and solutions to problems have been described above with regard to specific embodiments. However, the benefits, advantages, solutions to problems, and any element(s) that may cause any benefit, advantage, or solution to occur or become more pronounced are not to be construed as a critical, required, or essential feature or element of any or all the claims. Accordingly, the invention is not intended to be limited to the specific form set forth herein, but on the contrary, it is intended to cover such alternatives, modifications, and equivalents, as can be reasonably included within the spirit and scope of the invention.
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