Friday, February 27, 2009

Tile Saw Guide Apparatus

United States Patent
WWW.USPTO.GOV
7,350,517
Perez
April 1, 2008

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Tile saw guide apparatus


Abstract
A tile saw guide apparatus comprising a right-angle triangle shaped
guide body and an attachment structure. The right-angle triangle
shaped guide body includes a tile receiving space accessible through a
first non-hypotenuse edge of the right-angle triangle shaped guide
body. A first tile engaging edge defining the tile receiving space
extends substantially perpendicular to the first non-hypotenuse edge
of the right-angle triangle shaped guide body. A second tile engaging
edge defining the tile receiving space extends substantially
perpendicular to a second non-hypotenuse edge of the right-angle
triangle shaped guide body. The attachment structure is fixedly
attached to the right-angle triangle shaped guide body. The attachment
structure is configured for fixedly securing the guide body to a table
of a tile saw and extends across the hypotenuse edge of the
right-angle triangle shaped guide body.


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Inventors: Perez; Pedro (San Jose, CA)
Appl. No.: 11/599,045
Filed: November 14, 2006

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Related U.S. Patent Documents

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Application Number Filing Date Patent Number Issue Date
60742699 Dec., 2005


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Current U.S. Class: 125/13.01 ; 125/13.03; 125/35; 33/42; 33/429; 33/630
Current International Class: B27B 9/04 (20060101)
Field of Search: 125/13.01,13.03,35 33/42,429,630,640



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References Cited [Referenced By]

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U.S. Patent Documents

5727325 March 1998 Mussell
5813126 September 1998 Dahl
6216355 April 2001 Darnell
6604296 August 2003 Mastrobattista
6757981 July 2004 Hampton
2002/0162548 November 2002 Lee

Primary Examiner: Hail, III; Joseph J.
Assistant Examiner: Ojini; Anthony
Attorney, Agent or Firm: Galasso; Raymond M. Galasso & Associates, LP
WWW.GAPATENTS.COM

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Parent Case Text

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CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This patent application claims priority to now abandoned United States
Provisional Patent Application having Ser. No. 60/742,699 filed Dec.
6, 2005 entitled "Pit's Square", having a common applicant herewith
and being incorporated herein in its entirety by reference.
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Claims

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What is claimed is:

1. A tile saw guide apparatus, comprising: a right-angle triangle
shaped guide body including a tile receiving space accessible through
a first non-hypotenuse edge of said right-angle triangle shaped guide
body, wherein a first tile engaging edge defining the tile receiving
space extends substantially perpendicular to the first non-hypotenuse
edge of said right-angle triangle shaped guide body and wherein a
second tile engaging edge defining the tile receiving space extends
substantially perpendicular to a second non-hypotenuse edge of said
right-angle triangle shaped guide body; and an attachment structure
fixedly attached to said right-angle triangle shaped guide body,
wherein the attachment structure extends across the hypotenuse edge of
said right-angle triangle shaped guide body and is configured for
fixedly securing the right-angle triangle shaped guide body to a table
of a tile saw; and wherein the attachment structure includes: a
mounting body having a saw table receiving groove therein extending
substantially parallel to the hypotenuse edge of said right-angle
triangle shaped guide body; and an engagement member attached to the
mounting body in a manner enabling the engagement member to be
selectively adjusted for causing the engagement member and the
mounting body to jointly exert a clamping force on a portion of the
saw table positioned within the saw table receiving groove.

2. The tile saw guide apparatus of claim 1 wherein a portion of the
first non-hypotenuse edge that extends between the tile receiving
space and the second non-hypotenuse edge is configured such that an
unobstructed saw blade path is provided into the tile receiving space
along a straight reference line extending perpendicular to the
hypotenuse edge of said right-angle triangle shaped guide body and
through a point of intersection between the first and second tile
engaging edges defining the tile receiving space.

3. The tile saw guide apparatus of claim 1, further comprising:
measurement indicia provided on the guide body, wherein said
measurement indicia extend along the first tile engaging edge defining
the tile receiving space.

4. The tile saw guide apparatus of claim 3 wherein a portion of the
first non-hypotenuse edge that extends between the tile receiving
space and the second non-hypotenuse edge is configured such that an
unobstructed saw blade path is provided into the tile receiving space
along a straight reference line extending perpendicular to the
hypotenuse edge of said right-angle triangle shaped guide body and
through a point of intersection between the first and second tile
engaging edges defining the tile receiving space.

5. The tile saw guide apparatus of claim 4 wherein the attachment
structure includes: a mounting body having a saw table receiving
groove therein extending substantially parallel to the hypotenuse edge
of said right-angle triangle shaped guide body; and an engagement
member attached to the mounting body in a manner enabling the
engagement member to be selectively adjusted for causing the
engagement member and the mounting body to jointly exert a clamping
force on a portion of the saw table positioned within the saw table
receiving groove.
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Description

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FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE

The disclosures made herein relate generally to tiles saws and, more
particularly, to tile saw accessories configured for holding tiles.

BACKGROUND

The installation of tile invariably requires cutting of one or more
pieces of tile. The quality and accuracy of such pieces of cut tile
typically have a direct impact on the resulting quality of
installation, ease of installation and/or time required for
installation. Regardless of whether the tile is ceramic, marble,
granite, vinyl, wood, composite or some other known type of tile
requiring cutting with a wet of dry tile saw, precision and
repeatability in cuts is a key aspect of achieving a quality and
efficient installation. Therefore, a tile saw guide apparatus that is
configured for promoting precision and repeatability in cutting tile
using a wet or dry tile saw is advantageous, desirable and useful.

SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE

Embodiments of the present invention provides for precision and
repeatability in cutting tile using a wet or dry tile saw. More
specifically, an apparatus in accordance with the present invention is
mountable on a table of a tile saw and, during a series of tile
cutting instances, allows tiles to be held in substantially the same
prescribed position and location relative to a blade of the tile saw.
In doing so, such a tile guide apparatus advantageously allows
numerous tiles to be cut in essentially the exact same shape (e.g.,
non-rectangular) and dimension in a time and money saving manner.

In one embodiment of the present invention, a tile saw guide apparatus
comprises a guide body and an attachment structure. The guide body
includes a saw table engaging edge, a tile receiving edge and a third
edge. The tile receiving edge and the third edge extend generally
perpendicular to each other. A tile receiving space is accessible
through the tile receiving edge. A first tile engaging edge defining
the tile receiving space intersects the tile receiving edge and a
second tile engaging edge defining the tile receiving space extends
substantially perpendicular to the first tile engaging edge. The
attachment structure is configured for fixedly securing the guide body
to a table of a tile saw. The attachment structure is fixedly attached
to the guide body and extends across the saw table engaging edge.

In another embodiment of the present invention, a tile saw guide
apparatus comprising a right-angle triangle shaped guide body and an
attachment structure. The right-angle triangle shaped guide body
includes a tile receiving space accessible through a first
non-hypotenuse edge of the right-angle triangle shaped guide body. A
first tile engaging edge defining the tile receiving space extends
substantially perpendicular to the first non-hypotenuse edge of the
right-angle triangle shaped guide body. A second tile engaging edge
defining the tile receiving space extends substantially perpendicular
to a second non-hypotenuse edge of the right-angle triangle shaped
guide body. The attachment structure is fixedly attached to the
right-angle triangle shaped guide body. The attachment structure is
configured for fixedly securing the guide body to a table of a tile
saw and extends across the hypotenuse edge of the right-angle triangle
shaped guide body.

In another embodiment of the present invention, a tile saw guide
apparatus comprises a guide body, an attachment structure and
measurement indicia. The guide body has a plurality of perimeter edges
and a tile receiving space accessible through at least a first one of
the perimeter edges. A first tile engaging edge defining the tile
receiving space intersects and extends substantially perpendicular to
the first one of the perimeter edges. A second tile engaging edge
defining the tile receiving space extends substantially perpendicular
to the first tile engaging edge. The attachment structure is fixedly
attached to the guide body. The attachment structure includes a
mounting body and an engagement attached to the mounting body. The
mounting body has a saw table receiving groove therein. The engagement
member is attached to the mounting body in a manner enabling the
engagement member to be selectively adjusted for causing the
engagement member and the mounting body to jointly exert a clamping
force on a portion of the saw table positioned within the saw table
receiving groove. The measurement indicia are provided on the guide
body, extending along the first tile engaging edge defining the tile
receiving space. The measurement indicia include unit numerals and
corresponding spaced-apart gradation lines.

These and other objects, embodiments, advantages and/or distinctions
of the present invention will become readily apparent upon further
review of the following specification, associated drawings and
appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view showing an embodiment of a tile saw guide
apparatus in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a plan view of the tile saw guide apparatus shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a side view of the tile saw guide apparatus shown in FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIGURES

FIGS. 1-3 show an embodiment of a tile saw guide apparatus in
accordance with the present invention, which is referred to herein as
the tile saw guide apparatus 10. The tile saw guide apparatus 10
provides for precision and repeatability in cutting tile using a wet
or dry tile saw. More specifically, the tile saw guide apparatus 10 is
mountable on a table of a tile saw and, during a series of tile
cutting instances, allows tiles to be held in substantially the same
prescribed position and location relative to a blade of the tile saw.
In doing so, the tile saw guide apparatus 10 advantageously allows
numerous tiles to be cut in essentially the exact same shape (e.g.,
non-rectangular) and dimension.

The tile saw guide apparatus 10 includes a guide body 12 and an
attachment structure 14. The guide body 12 including a saw table
engaging edge 16, a tile receiving edge 18 and a third edge 20, which
are each generally straight. The tile receiving edge 18 and the third
edge 20 extend generally perpendicular to each other. A tile receiving
space 22 is accessible through the tile receiving edge 18. A first
tile engaging edge 24 (FIGS. 1 and 2) defining the tile receiving
space 22 intersects the tile receiving edge 18. A second tile engaging
edge 26 (FIGS. 1 and 2) defining the tile receiving space 22 extends
substantially perpendicular to the first tile engaging edge 24.

As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, preferably, but not necessarily, the first
tile engaging edge 24 defining the tile receiving space 22 extends
substantially perpendicular to the tile receiving edge 18, and the
tile receiving edge 18 and the third edge 20 each intersect the saw
table engaging edge 16 whereby the guide body 12 is generally
triangular shaped. As shown in FIG. 2, a portion 18a of the tile
receiving edge 18 that extends between the tile receiving space 22 and
the third edge 20 is configured such that an unobstructed saw blade
path is provided into the tile receiving space 22 along a straight
reference line S extending perpendicular to the saw table engaging
edge 16 and through a point of intersection between the first and
second tile engaging edges (24, 26) defining the tile receiving space
22. As shown, the portion 18a of the tile receiving edge 18 that
extends between the tile receiving space 22 and the third edge 20 is
offset toward the second tile engaging edge 26 (FIGS. 1 and 2)
defining the tile receiving space 22 such that an unobstructed saw
blade path is provided into the tile receiving space 22 along the
straight reference line S. Alternatively, the portion 18a of the tile
receiving edge 18 that extends between the tile receiving space 22 and
the third edge 20 may be angled such that an unobstructed saw blade
path is provided into the tile receiving space 22 along the straight
reference line S.

The attachment structure 14 is fixedly attached to the guide body 12.
The attachment structure 14 includes a mounting body 28 and an
engagement member 30. The mounting body is fixedly attached to the
guide body 12 and extends across the saw table engaging edge 16. The
mounting body 28 has a saw table receiving groove 32 therein extending
substantially parallel to the saw table engaging edge 16 of the guide
body 12. The engagement member 30 is threadedly engaged with the
mounting body 28 thereby enabling the engagement member to be rotated
(i.e., selectively adjusted) for causing the engagement member 30 and
the mounting body 28 to jointly exert a clamping force on a portion of
a saw table positioned within the saw table receiving groove 32. More
specifically, an end of the engagement member 30 is exposed within the
saw table receiving groove 32 and forcibly pushes the portion of the
saw table positioned within the saw table receiving groove 32 against
an opposing engagement face 34 (FIGS. 1 and 3) of the mounting body 28.

Measurement indicia 36 (FIGS. 1 and 2) are provided on the guide body
12. The measurement indicia 36 extend along the first tile engaging
edge 24 defining the tile receiving space 22. The measurement indicia
36 include unit numerals (e.g., inches) and corresponding spaced-apart
gradation lines (e.g., one-quarter inch increments).

As depicted in FIGS. 1 and 2, the guide body 12 has a right-angle
triangle shape. In such an embodiment, the saw table engaging edge 16
is a hypotenuse edge of guide body 12, the tile receiving edge 18 is a
first non-hypotenuse edge of the guide body 12 and the third edge 20
is a second non-hypotenuse edge of the guide body 12. It is disclosed
herein that a guide body in accordance with the present invention is
not necessarily limited to a particular shape. For example, a guide
body in accordance with the present invention may have more than three
sides.

As depicted in FIGS. 1 and 2, the tile receiving space 22 is
accessible only through the tile receiving edge 18. Alternatively, the
tile receiving space 22 may intersect both the tile receiving edge 18
and the third edge 20. In such an alternative embodiment, the first
tile engaging edge 24 (FIGS. 1 and 2) defining the tile receiving
space 22 intersects the tile receiving edge 18 and the second tile
engaging edge 26 (FIGS. 1 and 2) defining the tile receiving space 22
intersects the third edge 20.

In use, the tile saw guide apparatus 10 is placed on table of a tile
cutting saw with the attachment structure 14 is engaged with a mating
structure (e.g., an end rail/ridge) of the table, but not tighten onto
the mating structure. A tile is then placed in the tile receiving
space 22 and saw guide apparatus is positioned such that the saw blade
is aligned at the correct position for cutting the tile at desired
angle and dimension. The attachment structure 14 is then engaged with
the mating structure (e.g., a end rail) of the table such that the
tile saw guide apparatus 10 is fixedly attached to the table. The saw
is now used to individually cut tiles into the desired angle and
dimension.

Accordingly, a tile saw guide apparatus in accordance with the present
invention saves time and money by not having to measure each time that
is to be cut to a given angle and dimension. The angular orientation
of the tile receiving space determines the nominal angular shape of a
cut tile. Thus, a set of apparatuses each having a tile receiving
space of different angular orientation with respect to a reference
edge (e.g., the saw table engaging edge 16) is provided for enabling
various able cuts to be made. Alternatively, a portion of the guide
body carrying the tile receiving space may be angularly adjustable
with respect to a reference edge of a portion of the guide body
defining a reference edge (e.g., rotatably attached thereto).

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 present
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 embodiments of the present invention.
It is to be understood that other suitable embodiments may be utilized
and that logical, mechanical, chemical and electrical changes may be
made without departing from the spirit or scope of such inventive
disclosures. 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. For more information go to WWW.GAPATENTS.COM or WWW.GOOGLE.COM.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Video of Deferred Examination Roundtable Available

WWW.USPTO.GOV

On February 12, the USPTO hosted a roundtable discussion on the
subject of deferred examination with the goal of obtaining public
input on the practice from diverse sources and differing view points.
Participants include representatives from the American Intellectual
Property Law Association (AIPLA), the Intellectual Property Owners
Association (IPO), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Bar
Association (ABA) and the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO),
as well as members of academia and numerous IP attorneys. Members of
the public were also invited to attend and participate. The roundtable
was moderated by John Whealan, Associate Dean for Intellectual
Property Law Studies, The George Washington University Law School.

To see video of the roundtable go to
https://uspto.connectsolutions.com/p91717658/

For more information go to WWW.GAPATENTS.COM.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Tiltable Seat Mounting Apparatus

United States Patent
WWW.USPTO.GOV
7,490,903
Ruppe
February 17, 2009

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Tiltable seat mounting apparatus


Abstract
A tiltable seat apparatus comprises a mounting structure attachable a vehicle chassis and including spaced-apart upstanding portions and a mounting member connected between the upstanding portions. A seat assembly includes a seat frame having spaced-apart downstanding portions. Each one of the downstanding portions is pivotably attached to a respective one of the upstanding portions such that an axis of rotation extends through the downstanding and upstanding portions whereby the seat frame pivots about the axis of rotation. A resilient member is engaged between the mounting structure and the seat attachment structure, and allows the seat assembly to pivot about the axis of rotation with respect to the mounting structure between a static orientation and an angularly displaced orientation. The resilient member exerts force on the mounting structure and the seat assembly when in the angularly displaced orientation for biasing the seat attachment structure toward the static orientation.

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Inventors: Ruppe; Fredy L. (Livingston, KY)
Appl. No.: 11/438,854
Filed: May 23, 2006

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Current U.S. Class: 297/314 ; 248/371
Current International Class: B60N 2/02 (20060101)
Field of Search: 297/313,314 248/371,372.1,185.1

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References Cited [Referenced By]

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U.S. Patent Documents

1640812 August 1927 Ammon
3466089 September 1969 Stueckle
3970274 July 1976 Resk
4095770 June 1978 Long
4183492 January 1980 Meiller
4466590 August 1984 Parks et al.
4500062 February 1985 Sandvik
4515337 May 1985 Torras
5054739 October 1991 Wallin
5372347 December 1994 Minnich


Primary Examiner: Barfield; Anthony D
Attorney, Agent or Firm: Galasso; Raymond M. Galasso & Associates, LP.
WWW.GAPATENTS.COM




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Claims

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What is claimed is:

1. A tiltable seat mounting apparatus, comprising: a mounting structure configured for being attached to a chassis of a vehicle, wherein the mounting structure includes spaced-apart upstanding portions and a mounting member connected between said upstanding portions; a seat attachment structure configured for being attached to a seat usable with the downstanding portions and a seat attachment member connected between said downstanding portions, wherein each one of said downstanding portions is pivotably attached to a respective one of said upstanding portions such that an axis of rotation extends through said downstanding and upstanding portions whereby the seat attachment structure pivots about the axis of rotation; a resilient member engaged between the mounting structure and the seat attachment structure, wherein the resilient member allows the seat attachment structure to pivot about the axis of rotation with respect to the mounting structure between a static orientation and an angularly displaced orientation and wherein the resilient member exerts force on the mounting structure and the seat attachment structure when in the angularly displaced orientation for biasing the seat attachment structure toward the static orientation; wherein said resilient member includes a spring; a preloaded adjuster engages with said spring for enabling selective adjustment of a preload force exerted by the spring when the seat attachment structure is in the static orientation; wherein the preload adjuster is engaged with the mounting member; and the spring is a leaf spring having end portions engaged with the preload adjuster and a central portion engaged with the seat attachment structure.

2. The tiltable seat mounting apparatus of claim 1 wherein: the mounting member is generally flat and has opposing edge portions with a respective one of said upstanding portions attached to one of said edge portions of the mounting member; and the seat attachment member is generally flat and has opposing edge portions with a respective one of said downstanding portions attached to one of said edge portions of the seat attachment member.

3. A tiltable seat mounting apparatus, comprising: a mounting structure configured for being attached to a chassis of a vehicle, wherein the mounting structure includes spaced-apart upstanding portions and a mounting member connected between said upstanding portions; a seat attachment structure configured for being attached to a seat usable with the vehicle, wherein the seat attachment structure includes spaced-apart downstanding portions and a seat attachment member connected between said downstanding portions, wherein a first one of said downstanding portions is juxtaposed to a first one of said upstanding portions and wherein a second one of said downstanding portions is juxtaposed to a second one of said upstanding portions; pivot means having an axis of rotation that extends through said juxtaposed downstanding and upstanding portions, said pivot means connecting the juxtaposed downstanding and upstanding portions so the seat attachment structure pivots on said pivot means about the axis of rotation; self-centering means engaged between the mounting structure and the seat attachment structure, wherein said self-centering means allows the seat attachment structure to pivot about the axis of rotation with respect to the mounting structure between a static orientation and an angularly displaced orientation and wherein the self-centering means exerts force on the mounting structure and the seat structure when in the angularly displaced orientation for biasing the seat attachment structure toward the static orientation; said self-centering means includes a spring and a preload adjuster, the spring is engaged between the mounting structure and the seat attachment structure, wherein the spring allows the seat attachment structure to pivot about the axis of rotation with respect to the mounting structure between a static orientation and an angularly displaced orientation; the spring exerts force on the mounting structure and the seat attachment structure when in the angularly displaced orientation for biasing the seat attachment structure toward the static orientation; the preload adjuster is engaged with the spring for enabling selective adjustment of a preload force exerted by the spring when the seat attachment structure is in the static orientation; the preload adjuster is engaged with the mounting member; and the spring is a leaf spring having end portions engaged with the preload adjuster and a central portion engaged with the seat attachment structure.

4. The tiltable seat mounting apparatus of claim 3 wherein: the mounting member is generally flat and has opposing edge portions with a respective one of said upstanding portions attached to one of said edge portions of the mounting member; and the seat attachment member is generally flat and has opposing edge portions with a respective one of said downstanding portions attached to one of said edge portions of the seat attachment member.

5. A tiltable seat apparatus, comprising: a mounting structure configured to being attached to a chassis of a vehicle, wherein the mounting structure includes space-apart upstanding portions and a mounting member connected between said upstanding portions; a seat assembly including a seat frame having spaced-apart downstanding portions, wherein each one of said downstanding portions is pivotably attached to a respective one of said upstanding portions such that an axis of rotation extends through said downstanding and upstanding portions whereby the seat frame pivots about the axis of rotation; a resilient member engaged between the mounting structure and the seat attachment structure, wherein the resilient member allows the seat assembly to pivot about the axis of rotation with respect to the mounting structure between a static orientation and an angularly displaced orientation and wherein the resilient member exerts force on the mounting structure and the seat assembly when in the angularly displaced orientation for biasing the seat attachment structure toward the static orientation; the resilient member includes a spring; a preload adjuster engaged with the spring for enabling selective adjustment of a preload force exerted by the spring when the seat frame is in the static orientation; the preload adjuster is engaged with the mounting member; and the spring is a leaf spring having end portions engaged with the preload adjuster and a central portion engaged with the seat frame.

6. The tiltable seat mounting apparatus of claim 5 wherein: the mounting member is generally flat and has opposing edge portion with a respective one of said upstanding portions attached to one of said edge portions of the mounting member; and the seat frame includes a generally flat portions having opposing edge portions with a respective one of said downstanding portions attached to one of said edge portions of the seat frame.
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Description

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FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE

The disclosures made herein relate generally to vehicles with an operator seat and, more particularly, to horizontally tiltable operator seats.

BACKGROUND

It is generally desirable for the operator of a vehicle such as an agricultural tractor or a highway mower to sit level relative to the horizontal while operating the vehicle. Afflictions such as fatigue, back pain and the like can result if the operator is made uncomfortable due to an unlevel seat. Sustained operation of the vehicle over inclined areas, such as mowing the grassy banks adjacent limited access highways, can quickly lead to these afflictions when the operator sits on a seating surface that is generally parallel with incline d terrain over which the vehicle is travelling. Moreover, the operator of a vehicle travelling across an inclined terrain is less able to maintain safe control of the vehicle and/or preclude contributing to a vehicle roll-over if he or she is not seated in a generally upright orientation.

Various tiltable seat mounting structures that maintain a vehicle seat level with respect to the horizontal are known. Examples of such known tiltable seat mounting structures are disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,372,347; 4,515,337; 4,500,062; 4,183,492; 4,095,770; 3,970,274; 4,466,089 and 1,640,812. While these prior devices meet some of the objectives for a horizontally tiltable vehicle seat, they have not completely met the objectives or the requirements for such a seat, and are thus known to have shortcomings. Examples of such shortcomings include, but are not limited to, complexity in design, being cumbersome to operate, offering limited tiltability, being relatively expensive and being expensive to manufacture. Therefore, a self-levelling seat structure that overcomes shortcomings associated with conventional self-levelling seat structures would be advantageous, desirable and useful.

SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE

Embodiments of the present invention relate to a tiltable seat mounting apparatus for vehicles such as, for example, agricultural tractors or highway mowers. Such a tiltable seat mounting apparatus in accordance with the present invention enables an operator of the vehicle to generally sit level relative to the horizontal while operating the vehicle on an inclined surface (e.g., driving the vehicle horizontally across the inclined surface). By enabling the operator to sit generally level, the tiltable seat mounting apparatus alleviates adverse considerations such as, for example, general fatigue, back pain and the like during sustained operation of the vehicle over inclined surfaces thereby reducing the potential for enhancing the operator's ability to maintain safe control of the vehicle and/or reducing the potential for the vehicle rolling-over due in part to the weight distribution of the operator. Furthermore, a tiltable seat mounting apparatus in accordance with the present invention overcomes shortcomings associated with conventional tiltable seat mounting structures.

In one embodiment of the present invention, a tiltable seat mounting apparatus comprises a mounting structure, a seat attachment structure and a resilient member. The mounting structure is configured for being attached to a chassis of a vehicle. The mounting structure includes spaced-apart upstanding portions and a mounting member connected between the upstanding portions. The seat attachment structure is configured for being attached to a seat usable with the vehicle. The seat attachment structure includes spaced-apart downstanding portions and a seat attachment member connected between the downstanding portions. Each one of the downstanding portions is pivotably attached to a respective one of the upstanding portions such that an axis of rotation extends through the downstanding and upstanding portions whereby the seat attachment structure pivots about the axis of rotation. The resilient member is engaged between the mounting structure and the seat attachment structure. The resilient member allows the seat attachment structure to pivot about the axis of rotation with respect to the mounting structure between a static orientation and an angularly displaced orientation. The resilient member exerts force on the mounting structure and the seat attachment structure when in the angularly displaced orientation for biasing the seat attachment structure toward the static orientation.

In another embodiment of the present invention, a tiltable seat mounting apparatus comprises a mounting structure, a seat attachment structure, pivot means and self-centering means. The mounting structure is configured for being attached to a chassis of a vehicle. The mounting structure includes spaced-apart upstanding portions and a mounting member connected between the upstanding portions. The seat attachment structure is configured for being attached to a seat usable with the vehicle. The seat attachment structure includes spaced-apart downstanding portions and a seat attachment member connected between the downstanding portions. A first one of the downstanding portions is juxtaposed to a first one of the upstanding portions. A second one of the downstanding portions is juxtaposed to a second one of the upstanding portions. The pivot means has an axis of rotation that extends through the juxtaposed downstanding and upstanding portions. The pivot means connects the juxtaposed downstanding and upstanding portions so the seat attachment structure pivots on the pivot means about the axis of rotation. The self-centering means is engaged between the mounting structure and the seat attachment structure. The self-centering means allows the seat attachment structure to pivot about the axis of rotation with respect to the mounting structure between a static orientation and an angularly displaced orientation. The self-centering means exerts force on the mounting structure and the seat attachment structure when in the angularly displaced orientation for biasing the seat attachment structure toward the static orientation.

In another embodiment of the present invention, a tiltable seat apparatus comprises a mounting structure, a seat assembly and a resilient member. The mounting structure is configured for being attached to a chassis of a vehicle. The mounting structure includes spaced-apart upstanding portions and a mounting member connected between the upstanding portions. The seat assembly includes a seat frame having spaced-apart downstanding portions. Each one of the downstanding portions is pivotably attached to a respective one of the upstanding portions such that an axis of rotation extends through the downstanding and upstanding portions whereby the seat frame pivots about the axis of rotation. The resilient member is engaged between the mounting structure and the seat attachment structure. The resilient member allows the seat assembly to pivot about the axis of rotation with respect to the mounting structure between a static orientation and an angularly displaced orientation. The resilient member exerts force on the mounting structure and the seat assembly when in the angularly displaced orientation for biasing the seat attachment structure toward the static orientation.

Turning now to specific aspects of the present invention, in at least one embodiment, the self-centering means includes a spring and a preload adjuster.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, the spring is engaged between the mounting structure and the seat attachment structure, the spring allows the seat attachment structure to pivot about the axis of rotation with respect to the mounting structure between a static orientation and an angularly displaced orientation, the spring exerts force on the mounting structure and/or the seat attachment structure when in the angularly displaced orientation for biasing the seat attachment structure toward the static orientation and the preload adjuster is engaged with the spring for enabling selective adjustment of a preload force exerted by the spring when the seat attachment structure is in the static orientation.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, the preload adjuster is engaged with the mounting member and the spring is a leaf spring having end portions engaged with the preload adjuster and a central portion engaged with the seat attachment member.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, the mounting member is generally flat and has opposing edge portions with a respective one of the upstanding portions attached to one of the edge portions of the mounting member, and the seat attachment member is generally flat and has opposing edge portions with a respective one of the downstanding portions attached to one of the edge portions of the seat attachment member.

These and other objects, embodiments, advantages and/or distinctions of the present invention will become readily apparent upon further review of the following specification, associated drawings and appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view depicting an embodiment of a tiltable seat mounting apparatus in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view taken along the line 2-2 in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view taken along the line 3-3 in FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a rear view of a vehicle equipped with a tiltable seat mounting apparatus in accordance with the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIGURES

FIGS. 1-3 depict various aspects of a tiltable seat mounting apparatus in accordance with the present invention, which is referred to herein as the tiltable seat mounting apparatus 10. The tiltable seat mounting apparatus 10 includes a mounting structure 12, a seat attachment structure 14, a leaf spring 16 and a plurality of preload adjusters 18. The mounting structure 12 is configured for being attached to a chassis of a vehicle (e.g., directly or indirectly). The seat attachment structure 14 is configured for being attached to a seat usable with the vehicle (e.g., a original equipment seat of the vehicle). Examples of attachment configurations include, but are not limited to, being configured for being welded, being configured for being secured with threaded fasteners and the like. It is disclosed herein that, alternatively, a seat attachment structure in accordance with the present invention may be integral with a seat frame of a seat and/or a mounting structure in accordance with the present invention may be integral with a chassis of a vehicle.

The mounting structure 12 includes spaced-apart upstanding portions 20 and a mounting member 22 connected between the upstanding portions 20. The seat attachment structure 14 includes spaced-apart downstanding portions 24 and a seat attachment member 26 connected between the downstanding portions 24. Each one of the downstanding portions 24 is pivotably attached to a respective one of the upstanding portions 20 such that an axis of rotation R1 (FIG. 1) extends through the downstanding portions 24 and the upstanding portions 20. In this manner, the seat attachment structure 14 pivots about the axis of rotation R1 relative to the mounting structure 12.

More specifically, a first one of the downstanding portions 24 is juxtaposed to a first one of the upstanding portions 20 and a second one of the downstanding portions 24 is juxtaposed to a second one of the upstanding portions 20. A pivot means extends through the juxtaposed downstanding portions 24 and upstanding portions 20 along the axis of rotation R1. As depicted, a shaft 27 extends through a hole in each one of the downstanding portions 24 and the upstanding portions 20. The shaft 27 is in interference fit with the holes of at least a portion of the downstanding portions 24 and the upstanding portions 20. Optionally, the shaft 27 may be held in place with a plurality of locking collars and, optionally, separate shafts extending through the holes in respective pairings of juxtaposed ones of the downstanding portions 24 and upstanding portions may be provided for enabling the seat attachment structure 14 to pivot on the pivot means about the axis of rotation R1.

The leaf spring 16 is engaged between the mounting structure 12 and the seat attachment structure 14 and extends generally laterally with respect to the axis of rotation R1. The leaf spring 16 is engaged between the mounting structure 12 and the seat attachment structure 14 in a manner that allows the seat attachment structure 14 to pivot about the axis of rotation R1 with respect to the mounting structure 12 between a static orientation S and an angularly displaced orientation D. The leaf spring 16 exerts force on the mounting structure 14 and the seat attachment structure 12 when in the angularly displaced orientation D for biasing the seat attachment structure 14 toward the static orientation S.

More specifically, each end portions 28 of the leaf spring 16 has one of the preload adjusters 18 adjustably engaged therewith. Each one of the preload adjusters 18 is engaged with the mounting member 22 for transmitting force from the leaf spring 16 to the mounting member 22. In the depicted embodiment, the each spring adjuster 18 is a threaded fastener threadedly engaged within a respective threaded hole of the respective one of the end portions 28. A central portion 30 (FIG. 3) of the leaf spring 16 is engaged with the seat attachment structure 14 via a backing plate 31 and fastener 32. In this manner, each one of the preload adjusters 18 is adjustably engaged with the respective end portion 28 of the resilient member 16 for enabling selective adjustment of a preload force exerted by the leaf spring 16 when the seat attachment structure 14 is in the static orientation S. Through such preload adjustment, the static orientation of the seat attachment structure 14 may be adjusted and/or a degree of applied load required for moving the seat attachment structure 14 from the static orientation S toward the displaced orientation D may be adjusted (i.e., generally referred to herein as self-centering functionality).

The leaf spring 16 is an embodiment of a self-centering means implemented in accordance with the present invention. Furthermore, the leaf spring 16 is an example a resilient member in accordance with the present invention. Spaced apart compression springs engaged between the mounting structure 14 and the seat attachment structure 12 and spaced equidistant from the axis of rotation R1 are jointly another embodiment of a self-centering means in accordance with the present invention. Adjustable preload functionality may be provided by a threaded fastener threadedly engaged with the mounting structure 14 of the seat attachment structure 12 in a manner that enables each of the compression springs to be statically compressed through rotation of the threaded fastener.

It is disclosed herein that a preload adjuster in accordance with the present invention may be integral with the seat attachment structure 14, with the mounting structure 12 and/or with the central portion 30 of the leaf spring 16. It is further disclosed that the preload adjusters 18 may be emitted entirely.

In use, the tiltable seat mounting apparatus 10 is provided between a chassis 50 and a seat 52 of a vehicle 54. When the vehicle 54 is being driven horizontally across an inclined surface 56 (e.g., a hill), an operator O may position his or her weight and/or a force applied by the operator O such that the seat attachment structure is moved to a suitably displaced orientation so as to cause the upper portion U of the operator O to be substantially upright with respect to horizontal. This substantially upright orientation serves to increase comfort of the operator O, reduce fatigue of the operator O, enhance control of the vehicle 54 and reduce the potential for the vehicle 54 rolling over.

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 present 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 embodiments of the present invention. It is to be understood that other suitable embodiments may be utilized and that logical, mechanical, chemical and electrical changes may be made without departing from the spirit or scope of such inventive disclosures. 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. For more information go to WWW.GAPATENTS.COM OR WWW.GOOGLE.COM.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Nominees Sought for National Medal of Technology and Innovation

Deadline for nominations is May 29, 2009
WWW.USPTO.GOV

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is seeking nominations for the nation’s highest honor for technological achievement. The USPTO administers the NMTI program on behalf of the Secretary of Commerce. The deadline for nominations is May 29, 2009.

The nominations can be made for an individual, a team of up to four individuals, a company or a division of a company. The honorees are chosen for their outstanding contributions to the nation’s economic, environmental and social well-being through the development and commercialization of technological products, processes and concepts; technological innovation; and development of the country’s technological manpower.

For more information go to WWW.GAPATENTS.COM.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Self-Propelled Infant Stroller

United States Patent
WWW.USPTO.GOV
7,490,684
Seymour, et al.
February 17, 2009

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Self-propelled infant stroller


Abstract
An infant stroller that can propel itself under its own power, or in other circumstances provide propulsion assistance to aid the stroller attendant so as to reduce the required effort to push a stroller over various types of terrain. The stroller having a base frame formed of a plurality of connected substantially rigid formed tubular or molded plastic members, the frame adapted to fold for storage. Provided on the frame and interfacing with the ground are a plurality of wheels of which at least one wheel is an electrically driven wheel. The stroller includes two handle arms secured to the rear portion of the frame with a handle grip bar secured to an upper portion of the arms. The handle grip has a battery compartment for receiving a rechargeable battery pack therein. The stroller includes an electrically powered drive means for providing power assist to drive one or more driven wheels over sometimes hilly, grassy or rough terrain. Once discharged, the battery can be removed and replaced with a recharged battery, or on certain embodiments the stroller can also recharge while exposed to direct sunlight. The attendant controls the stroller's electric drive by manipulating a motor control bar located near the stroller handle grip.

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Inventors: Seymour; Craig A. (Pittsfield, IL), Seymour; Gretchen (Pittsfield, IL)
Appl. No.: 11/509,262
Filed: August 24, 2006

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Current U.S. Class: 180/65.1 ; 280/47.38
Current International Class: B60K 1/04 (20060101)
Field of Search: 280/47.38 180/65.1,65.5,65.6

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References Cited [Referenced By]

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U.S. Patent Documents

2494489 January 1950 Raucher
4629950 December 1986 Ching
4685688 August 1987 Edwards
5168947 December 1992 Rodenborn
D345720 April 1994 Pohl
5351774 October 1994 Okamoto
5873425 February 1999 Yang
5937961 August 1999 Davidson
6148942 November 2000 Mackert, Sr.
6360836 March 2002 Milano et al.
7004272 February 2006 Brown et al.
7198122 April 2007 Smith


Primary Examiner: Restifo; Jeffrey J
Attorney, Agent or Firm: Galasso; Raymond M. Galasso & Associates, L.P.
WWW.GAPATENTS.COM




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Claims

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What is claimed is:

1. A self-propelled electrically powered stroller for transporting one or more infants, the stroller comprising: a stroller frame configured to support the weight of an infant, the frame comprising: a base frame comprising a plurality of connected substantially rigid formed elongated members, the base frame adapted to fold for storage; a plurality of wheels wherein at least one wheel is a driven wheel, the wheels rotably secured to the stroller frame, the wheels arranged to stably and rollably support the stroller frame upon ground; a handle assembly comprising: two elongated substantially rigid handle arms, the arms having an upper and an opposing lower end, the arms foldably secured at a lower end to the rear portion of the base frame; and a handle grip bar having a battery receiving compartment with electrical contacts secured therein, the handle grip bar secured along opposing end portions to the upper ends of the elongated handle arms, the handle grip bar configured to be grasped by a human hand for guiding or pushing the stroller; an electrically powered drive means for driving the at least one driven wheel so as to propel the stroller over the ground, the drive means secured to the stroller frame; a rechargeable battery pack for storing and supplying electrical energy to power the drive means, the battery pack removably secured within the battery receiving compartment of the handle grip bar, the battery pack having electrical contacts thereon for electrically engaging with the contacts in the battery compartment; one or more infant seats secured to the base frame so as to ride upon the frame and wheels; a canopy positioned above the infant seats, the canopy secured to the stroller frame, the canopy configured to shelter the infant seat from sun rays and rain; a safety power interrupt device, the safety power interrupt device comprising: a safety switch device secured to the handle grip bar; a safety key removably received into the safety switch, wherein removing the safety key from the switch interrupts electrical power from the battery to the drive means such as to stop the drive means, wherein frictional and rotary inertia of the drive means brakes rolling motion of the stroller; and a lanyard having two ends, one end secured to the safety key, an opposing end having a hook secured thereto, the hook configured to retentively engage onto a stroller operator, the lanyard and safety key cooperating so as to pull the safety key out of the safety switch if stroller gets away from the operator so as to brake the stroller; and a drive motor control means, the drive motor control means comprising: a spring return electrical drive off-on switch for selectably providing or interrupting electrical power from the battery to the drive means; and a motor control bar distally spaced from and substantially parallel to the handle grip bar, the motor control bar positioned and configured to be operable by attendant's fingers, wherein the attendant has a palm of a hand resting on the grip bar and wherein the attendant manipulates the motor control bar with fingers of the hand, the motor control bar connected to the electrical drive switch wherein compressing the motor control bar against the handle grip provides power to the drive means and wherein releasing the hand compression on the motor control bar interrupts the power.

2. The stroller of claim 1, wherein the frame material is selected from the group consisting of tubular aluminum, tubular steel, reinforced plastic; and wherein the wheels comprise rubber treads secured over plastic wheels.

3. The stroller of claim 2, wherein the electrically powered drive means comprises: a wheel drive shaft, the shaft rotably and torsionally connected to the at least one driven wheel; a gear reduction transmission having an input shaft and an output shaft, the output shaft connected to the wheel drive shaft wherein the output shaft transmits rotary motion and torque to the wheel drive shaft, the gear reduction transmission secured to the stroller frame; and an electric drive motor having a drive shaft, the drive motor secured to the gear reduction transmission, the motor drive shaft connect to the input shaft of the transmission, wherein the motor transmits rotary motion and torque to the input shaft.

4. The stroller of claim 3, wherein the transmission further comprises a foot operated means of selectively engaging/disengaging the transmission output shaft from the wheel drive shaft, wherein disengaging the transmission permits the stroller to be manually propelled without electrical power.

5. The stroller of claim 4, wherein the plurality of wheels consists of four wheels, and wherein the base frame comprise a back member secured to two opposing side members, each side of the frame having two wheels located generally at opposing ends of the side member.

6. The stroller of claim 5 further comprising a solar cell assembly secured to a top portion of the canopy, the solar cell assembly providing electrical power to charge the battery pack.

7. The stroller of claim 5 wherein the battery pack is a 24 volt rechargeable storage battery pack, and wherein the motor comprises a 12 to 19 volt electric motor.

8. The stroller of claim 7 wherein the at least one driven wheel comprises one driven rear wheel.

9. The stroller of claim 7, wherein the at least one driven wheel comprises two driven opposing rear wheels, and wherein the wheel drive shaft extends between the two driven wheels, wherein at least one driven wheel further comprise drive teeth disposed on an inner facing perimeter of the wheel, the drive teeth engaging with a ratchet pawl drive connected to an end of the wheel drive shaft, wherein the pawl driven wheel is permitted to rotate faster than non-pawl driven wheel such that the stroller can be easily steered while rolling.

10. The stroller of claim 7 further comprising a 24 volt solar cell assembly secured to a top portion of the canopy, the solar cell assembly electrically connected to the battery terminals in the battery receiving compartment, the solar cell assembly providing electrical power to charge the 24 volt battery pack.
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Description

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FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE

The disclosures made herein relate generally to wheeled baby strollers for transporting infants and, more particularly, to self-propelled strollers having an electric drive means to propel the stroller, reducing the required effort to push the stroller particularly over rough ground, through grassy terrain, as well as up hills and inclines.

BACKGROUND

Push type infant strollers are well known. Such strollers comprise a wheeled frame with an infant seat secured thereon. The stroller frame is provided with a raised handle configured to allow a parent, family member or other attendant to manually push the stroller along as they walk. The infant seat is typically provided with a restraint device to prevent the infant or child from accidentally falling out of the seat. Many times the stroller is provided with a canopy to shield the child from the ultraviolet rays in sunlight, as well as shield the child from an unexpected downpour. Strollers are often used to convey children who are too young to walk independently. Infants and young children have needed to be carried for as long as parents have needed to go places and such strollers ease the burden of bearing the weight of children on long or even short walks.

The first baby carriages were introduced in England in the 1700's and were designed to be pulled by dogs or Shetland ponies. Today, many varieties of strollers are available from models that permit the child to lie down to those that maintain the child in a substantially upright position. More recent times have seen the introduction of strollers that can be pulled behind bicycles. The vast majority of infant strollers are designed to be propelled by a hand wherein the attendant exerts physical effort to push the stroller carrying the infant over sometimes hilly, rough, or gravel covered terrain. It is to the improvement of such strollers and improving the lot of parents and guardians that this inventive disclosure is directed.

While conventional push type strollers fulfill their original intent, such strollers have one or more drawbacks. One drawback, as discussed above, is that the stroller must be manually pushed by the attendant to propel it from one place to another. When pushing such a stroller on a long walk, even on smooth level pavement, such a task takes its toll and eventually becomes tiring to the person pushing the stroller. The difficulty and required effort to manually push the stroller multiplies when the stroller must be pushed up a hill, along rough or grassy terrain, or when the stroller must be pushed through a patch of gravel or along a gravel path or road. Pushing a stroller for even limited distances in such terrain can be a difficult and strenuous task. Then there are the occasions when an older person and grandparent with health issues or other limitations on physical exertion desires to take the baby out in the stroller for a walk. Difficult terrains as discussed above can place undue physical burdens on elders with health issues and present a serious health risk. Additionally, younger children or people with various physical handicaps are limited in their physical capacity to push a bulky and unwieldy stroller and so would benefit from the use of a powered stroller such as disclosed herein.

Therefore, an infant stroller which is configured to overcome the drawbacks of such push type strollers as discussed above, a stroller which either propels under its own power or provides a propulsion assist so as to reduce the physical effort required to push the stroller over various terrains, such a stroller would be useful, advantageous and novel.

SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE

Accordingly, embodiments of the inventive disclosures made herein comprise various embodiments of a self-propelled infant stroller that has the capacity to propel itself under its own power, or in other circumstances to provide propulsion assistance to reduce the required effort of the attendant to push the stroller over various types of terrain.

In embodiments of the inventive disclosures made herein, a self-propelled electrically powered stroller for transporting one or more infants comprises a stroller frame configured to support the weight of an infant or child. The frame comprises a base frame having a plurality of connected substantially elongated frame members that may consists of metallic tubular or formed plastic. The base frame adapted to fold for storage and therefore to reduce the size of the stroller, thereby making the folded stroller easier to carry and to store, as well as to transport in an automobile. Provided on the frame and interfacing with the ground are a plurality of wheels of which at least one wheel is a driven wheel. The wheels are rotably secured to the stroller frame on axles and are so arranged as to stably and rollably support the stroller frame upon the ground without tipping the stroller. The stroller includes a handle assembly comprising two elongated substantially rigid handle arms secured to the rear portion of the frame. A handle grip bar is secured to an upper portion of the handles and spans between the handle arms. The handle grip bar has a battery receiving compartment with electrical contacts provided therein. The handle grip bar is configured to be grasped by a human hand for guiding or pushing the stroller along, somewhat similar to the conventional manually pushed variety of strollers. The stroller includes an electrically powered drive means configured to drive the driven wheels so as to propel the stroller over the ground. The drive means is secured to the stroller frame. A rechargeable battery pack is provided for storing and supplying electrical energy to power the drive means of the stroller over terrain. The battery pack removably secured within the battery receiving compartment of the handle grip bar. The battery has electrical contacts thereon configured to electrically engage with the contacts in the battery compartment. The battery is designed to be removable for replacement, permitting a discharged battery to be swapped out for recharging while replacing the discharged battery with a charged battery thereby permitting continued use of the self-propelled stroller. As in conventional stroller, one or more infant seats are secured to the base frame so as to ride upon the frame and wheels. A canopy is positioned above the infant seats and secured to the stroller frame. The canopy is configured to shade the infant seat from sun rays and rain during walks with the stroller outside. The stroller includes a safety power interrupt device comprising: a safety switch and a mating safety key which is removably insertable into the switch. The key must be inserted into the switch to permit electrical power to flow from the battery to the electric drive means. When the key is removed the flow of electrical power from the battery to the drive motor is interrupted and the stroller comes to a stop. The drive means incorporates a gear reduction unit that functions to transform the shaft revolution speed at the motor to a lower speed of revolution at the wheels and in so doing the transmission increases the limited torque present at the motor shaft to a higher torque value so as to drive the stroller driven wheel or wheels. The gear reduction means, together with the inertia of the drive motor and friction of the gear train are able to bring the stroller to a stop when the power is removed, such as when the safety key is removed from the switch. A lanyard is permanently attached at one end to the safety key while the other end of the lanyard has a hook or other means of attaching the lanyard to an attendant or the clothing of an attendant. The hook configured for attaching the lanyard to or around a stroller attendant, for example to the belt or belt loop on the attendant's clothing, or to wrap the lanyard around the waist of the person and secure the loop closed with the hook. These are illustrative only. Other means of attaching the safety lanyard to the stroller attendant can be utilized without deviating from the intent of the inventive disclosures herein. The lanyard and safety switch work together such that if the stroller gets away from the attendant, then the lanyard pulls the safety key out of the safety switch on the stroller grip handle, thereby removing power from the stroller drive means and the stroller comes to a stop as discussed above. The safety switch is a safety device and not used to control the drive means in normal use. To control the power to the drive motor the stroller has an electric drive motor control bar for selectably providing or interrupting electrical power from the battery to the drive means. The motor control bar is conveniently placed in a distally spaced from and substantially parallel relationship to the handle grip bar so that the motor control bar may be grasped together with the handle grip bar in one hand. The motor control bar configured to be compressed against the grip bar by a human hand when the attendant wishes the stroller to be propelled by the drive means. The motor control bar is connected to an electrical drive switch wherein compressing the motor control bar against the handle grip provides power to the drive means and wherein releasing the hand compression on the motor control bar interrupts the power to the drive means.

In at least one embodiment of the inventive disclosures herein, the self-propelled stroller frame comprises tubular aluminum, tubular steel, or reinforced plastic, or some combination of those, and the wheels comprise molded plastic wheel having a rubber tread or tire secured to the periphery thereof.

In at least one embodiment of the inventive disclosures herein, the electrically powered drive means comprises a wheel drive shaft, the shaft rotably and torsionally connect to at least one driven wheel. The drive means has a gear reduction transmission having an output shaft connected to the wheel drive shaft wherein the output shaft transmits rotary motion and torque to the wheel drive shaft. The gear reduction transmission is secured onto the stroller frame. The drive means includes an electric drive motor secured to the gear reduction transmission. The motor drive shaft is connected to the input shaft of the transmission such that the motor transmits rotary motion and torque through the transmission to the driven wheels of the stroller so as to propel the stroller.

In at least one embodiment of the inventive disclosures herein, the stroller transmission further comprises a foot operated means of selectively engaging or disengaging the transmission output shaft from the wheel drive shaft, wherein disengaging the transmission permits the stroller to be manually propelled without electrical power.

In at least one embodiment of the inventive disclosures herein, the plurality of wheels consists of four wheels, and the base frame has a back member secured to two opposing side members. Each side member of the frame has two wheels located generally at opposing ends of the side member.

In at least one embodiment of the inventive disclosures herein, the stroller battery pack is a 24 volt rechargable battery pack, and the electric drive motor comprises a 12 to 19 volt rated electric motor.

In at least one embodiment of the inventive disclosures herein, the stroller has one driven wheel, a rear driven wheel, where the other wheels are free rolling and undriven.

In at least one embodiment of the inventive disclosures herein, the stroller has two driven wheels, both are rear driven wheels, where the other wheels are free rolling and undriven.

In at least one embodiment of the inventive disclosures herein, the stroller further comprising a solar cell assembly secured to a top portion of the canopy over the infant seat. The solar cell assembly generates electrical power from solar energy to charge the battery pack of the stroller.

In at least one embodiment of the inventive disclosures herein, the stroller solar cell assembly is a 24 volt solar cell assembly secured to a top portion of the canopy and the solar cell assembly provides electrical power to charge the 24 volt battery pack.

It is an objective of the inventive disclosure made herein to provide an infant stroller which either propels under its own power or provides a propulsion assist to the person guiding the stroller so as to reduce the physical effort required to roll the stroller along various terrain, particularly up hills, through rough or grassy terrain, or through gravel or sand.

It is an objective of the inventive disclosure made herein to provide an infant stroller that provides a safety shut off switch to remove power from the stroller drive means when the stroller gets away from the attendant guiding the stroller.

It is an objective of the inventive disclosure made herein to provide an infant stroller using a storage battery to provide electrical power and wherein one means of recharging the battery is to place the stroller outside in the sunlight. The solar charging panels reduce the dependence upon energy from burning fossil fuels to power the stroller thereby making the stroller more environmentally friendly.

It is an objective of the inventive disclosure made herein to provide an infant stroller that uses a drive means that can be controlled by compressing the motor control bar against the handle grip, and stops automatically when the motor control bar is released, and where the handle grip and motor control bar can be grasped by one hand.

It is an objective of the inventive disclosure made herein to provide an infant stroller utilizing a removable rechargeable battery pack placed into the handle of the stroller. Wherein a discharged battery pack can be removed from the stroller and replaced with a charged battery pack so that the stroller can continue to operate without stopping for an extended period to recharge the battery.

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 depicts a perspective view of one embodiment of an infant stroller in accordance with the inventive disclosures herein.

FIG. 2 depicts a rear view of one embodiment of an infant stroller 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 embodiments 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.

Turning now to FIG. 1 and FIG. 2:

FIG. 1 depicts a perspective view of one exemplary embodiment of an infant stroller in accordance with the inventive disclosures herein. FIG. 2 depicts a rear view of the exemplary embodiment of an infant stroller in accordance with the inventive disclosures herein. A self-propelled electrically powered stroller 1 for transporting one or more infants comprises a stroller frame configured to support the weight of an infant, the stroller frame comprising a base frame 2 comprising a plurality of connected substantially rigid formed tubular members wherein the base frame is adapted by a locking hinge 23 to fold for storage. A plurality of wheels 3 are rotably secured to the stroller frame on axles such that the wheels are free to roll, the wheels are so arranged so as to stabily and rollably support the stroller frame upon ground. The stroller frame includes a handle assembly comprising: two elongated substantially rigid handle arms 4, the arms 4 having an upper end 5 and an opposing lower end 6. The arms are foldably secured at a lower end 6 to the rear portion 7 of the base frame. A handle grip bar 8 is secured along opposing end portions to the upper ends of the elongated handle arms 4, the handle grip 8 configured to be grasped by a human hand for guiding or pushing the stroller. The handle grip bar 8 has a battery receiving compartment 10 with electrical contacts therein for receiving a rechargeable battery 9 pack into the grip bar. The battery pack fits into the grip bar so as to form a smooth continuous grip bar.

An electrically powered drive means 11 is secured to the stroller frame. The drive means is configured to drive the driven wheels so as to propel the stroller over the ground, either totally self-propelled, or to provide a propulsion assist such as to make the stroller easier for an attendant to propel over rough or hilly terrain. Removably secured within the grip bar is a rechargeable battery pack 9 for storing and supplying electrical energy to power the drive means 11, the battery pack having electrical contacts thereon for electrically engaging with the contacts in the battery compartment 10 such as to enable electrical current to flow between the battery and the stroller electrical components. One infant seat 12 is secured to the base frame 2 so as to ride upon the frame and wheels. In many cases the stroller requires only a single infant seat, but in other cases strollers configured to transport twins or even triplets are envisioned, and these larger strollers particularly benefit from the propulsion assisted electric drive of the present inventive disclosure. A canopy 14 is positioned above the infant seat 12. The canopy 14 is secured to the stroller frame to shade the infant seat and the occupant from the direct ultraviolet rays of the sun. As an added safety feature, a safety power interrupt device is provided. The safety power interrupt device comprises a safety switch device 15 secured to the handle grip bar. A safety key 16 is removably received into the safety switch 15, wherein removing the safety key 16 from the switch interrupts electrical power from the battery to the drive means such as to stop the drive means. When the power is removed the frictional and rotary inertia of the drive means brakes the rolling motion of the stroller, bringing the stroller to a complete stop. A lanyard 17 has one end secured to the safety key and an opposing end secured to a hook or clasp 18. The hook 18 is configured to attach to or around a stroller operator. The lanyard 17 and safety key 16 cooperate such as to pull the safety key 16 out of the safety switch 15 if stroller manages to get away from the operator, thereby removing the power and bringing the stroller to a stop. A drive motor control means is provided. The drive motor control means having a spring return electrical drive off-on switch for selectably providing or interrupting electrical power from the battery to the drive means. A motor control bar 19 is distally spaced from and substantially parallel to the handle grip bar 8. The motor control bar 19 is configured to be compressible against the grip bar 8 by the palm and fingers of a human hand. The motor control bar connected to the electrical drive switch wherein compressing the motor control bar against the handle grip provides power to the drive means and wherein releasing the hand compression on the motor control bar interrupts the power. The motor control bar being of the spring return type such that when the hand grip is released from the motor control bar then the power to the drive means is interrupted and the stroller comes to a stop. The drive means in FIG. 1 comprises a gear reduction transmission 20 having an output shaft transmitting rotary motion and torque to the driven wheel 22. An electric drive motor 21 has its motor drive shaft connected to the input shaft of the transmission 20 such that the motor transmits rotary motion and torque through the transmission 20 and to the drive wheel 22. The base frame includes two locking folding means 23, the locking folding means permitting the frame to fold so as to reduce the size of the stroller for transport or storage.

The frame of the stroller depicted in FIG. 1 and FIG.2 comprises tubular aluminum or molded reinforced plastic, and the wheels comprise rubber treads or tires over molded plastic wheel rims or wheel base structures. The invention is not limited to the materials disclosed herein. Other materials may be used as would be known to one skilled in the art without deviating from the scope and intent of the inventive disclosures herein. The transmission further comprises a foot operated means of selectively engaging or disengaging 24 the transmission output shaft from the wheel drive shaft. The foot operated disengaging means permits the stroller to be manually propelled without electrical power when the power assist is not required. Disengaging the transmission from the wheels also makes the stroller free rolling, and therefore better suited to being manually pushed when that is desired.

In the preferred embodiment the rechargeable battery pack is a 24 volt rechargeable storage battery pack, and the drive motor is rated between 12 to 19 volts.

Certain embodiments of the self-propelled stroller include a solar cell array 25 secured to the top sun facing portion of the canopy as shown in FIG. 1. The solar cell array is electrically connected through the wiring of the stroller to the rechargeable battery pack. On sunny days the solar cell array provides electrical power to charge the 24 volt battery pack. The battery pack may also be charged by placing the battery into a battery charger and plugging the charger into a conventional electrical outlet. Use of the solar array for charging makes the stroller more environmentally friendly by reducing the burning of fossil fuels at utility power stations so as to charge the battery pack.

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 operating modes may be changed and enhanced without deviating from the intention of this inventive 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, and mechanical 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. For more information go to WWW.GAPATENTS.COM or WWW.GOOGLE.COM.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Trailer Illumination System Test Drive and Method of Use

United States Patent
WWW.USPTO.GOV
7,345,579
Nelson, et al.
March 18, 2008

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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.

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Inventors: Nelson; Carl A. (Summit Point, WV), Morphew; Douglas B. (Elko, MN)
Appl. No.: 11/290,406
Filed: November 30, 2005

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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

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References Cited [Referenced By]

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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




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Claims

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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.
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Description

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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 go to WWW.GAPATENTS.COM, WWW.GOOGLE.COM, OR WWW.YAHOO.COM.