Monday, June 29, 2009

United States Patent 7,158,717
WWW.USPTO.GOV
Young , et al.
January 2, 2007
Apparatus for altering a temperature state of a liquid within a container and method of use

Abstract

An apparatus for altering a temperature state of a liquid within a container and method of use are disclosed. In one form, an apparatus includes an oval housing having a top portion, a bottom portion, and a middle portion having a front side and a rear side. The said top portion has a width and a depth. A plurality of cavities is positioned along the width and has substantially cylindrical openings. The cavities are sized to receive a portion of a liquid container. Heat generating electronics are housed within the housing. The heat generating electronics include a heat transfer element integrated as part of each cavity. The heat transfer element is operable to alter a temperature state of a cavity. A heat generator is mounted within the housing and is thermally coupled to the heat transfer element to collectively alter a temperature state of each of the cavities. A thermostat is operably coupled to the heat generator to alter the temperature state of each of the cavities. A power source is operably coupled to the electronics to power the electronics.
Inventors: Young; Frank (Ridgecrest, CA), Young; Stacey (Ridgecrest, CA)
Appl. No.: 11/101,129
Filed: April 7, 2005

Current U.S. Class: 392/444 ; 126/265; 219/521
Current International Class: A01K 63/06 (20060101)
References Cited [Referenced By]
U.S. Patent Documents

2843719 July 1958 Smith
2992316 July 1961 Baumstein et al.
3385950 May 1968 Lipor
3805440 April 1974 Becker
D257549 November 1980 Chapman
6417498 July 2002 Shields et al.
6444956 September 2002 Witcher et al.
6703590 March 2004 Holley, Jr.
2004/0168684 September 2004 Shapiro et al.
Primary Examiner: Campbell; Thor S.
Attorney, Agent or Firm: Galasso; Raymond M. Galasso & Associates, LP
WWW.GAPATENTS.COM

Claims


What is claimed is:

1. An apparatus for altering a temperature state of a liquid within a container comprising: an oval housing having a top portion, a bottom portion, and a middle portion having a front side and a rear side, the top portion having a width and a depth; a plurality of cavities positioned along the width and having substantially cylindrical openings and sized to receive a portion of a liquid container and wherein each cavity comprises a separate adjustable thermostat, said thermostats each having a control knob and operable to control a temperature setting for each cavity; heat generating electronics housed within the housing including: a heat transfer element integrated as part of each cavity, the heat transfer element operable to alter a temperature state of each cavity; a heat generator mounted within the housing and thermally coupled to the heat transfer element to collectively alter a temperature state of each cavity; a thermostat operably coupled to the heat generator to alter the temperature state of each of cavity; a speaker electronically coupled to the thermostat and operable to produce sound when the temperature state of each cavity reaches the desired temperature; and a set of power sources operably coupled to the electronics to power the electronics wherein the power sources consist of both an electrical cord and a battery.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 further comprising: a power switch accessible along a portion of the housing and operably coupled to the power source and the electronics to power the electronics.

3. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the liquid container comprises a refillable containing having a durable plastic and sized to fit within at least one of the cavities.

4. The apparatus of claim 1 further comprising each cavity positioned along the width and approximately centered to the width.

5. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the housing further comprises a substantially waterproof housing.

6. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the heat transfer element comprises a thermal conductor coupled to a thermally conductive material provided as a portion of the cavity.

7. The apparatus of claim 6 wherein the thermally conductive material comprises aluminum.

8. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the housing comprises plastic.

9. The apparatus of claim 1 further comprising an illuminator electronically coupled to the thermostat to select a desired temperature setting, the illuminator operable to illuminate in response to providing the desired temperature.

10. The apparatus of claim 1 further comprising: cavity heating means for altering the temperature state of a cavity; heat generating means for altering the temperature state; and temperature setting means for regulating heat provided to alter the temperature state of a liquid within the liquid container.

11. An apparatus for altering a temperature state of a liquid within a container comprising: an oval shaped housing having a top portion, a bottom portion, and a middle portion having a front side and a rear side, said top portion having a width and a depth, the oval shaped housing containing three cavities having substantially cylindrical openings and sized to receive a portion of a liquid container, the cavities positioned along the width and approximately centered along the width and the depth; heat generating electronics housed within the housing including: a heat transfer element integrated as part of each cavity, the heat transfer element operable to alter a temperature state of each cavity; a heat generator mounted within the housing and thermally coupled to the heat transfer element to collectively alter the temperature state of each cavity; a thermostat operably coupled to the heat generator to provide a setting to alter the temperature state of the cavity; and wherein each cavity comprises a separate adjustable thermostat, said thermostats each having a control knob and operable to control a temperature setting for each cavity; a speaker electronically coupled to the thermostat and operable to produce sound when the temperature state of each cavity reaches the desired temperature; and a set of power sources operably coupled to the electronics to power the electronics wherein the power sources consist of both an electrical cord and a batter.

12. The apparatus of claim 11 wherein the oval shaped housing comprises plastic.

13. The apparatus of claim 11 wherein the oval shaped housing further includes: a housing height ranging between approximately four (4) and five (5) inches; a housing depth ranging between approximately five (5) and six (6) inches; and a housing width of approximately twelve (12) inches.
Description


FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE

The invention relates to warming liquid stored in a container, and more particularly to an apparatus for altering a temperature state of a liquid within a container and method of use.

BACKGROUND

Products such as shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, shower gel, and other liquid personal hygiene accessories are commonly used in a bathroom while a person is showering or bathing. Warm robes, thick towels, heat lamps, other types of bathroom heaters, and other products are used to make a person warm and comfortable during a shower or bath. During a bath or shower, people often use warm water to maintain their comfort level.

Applying a cold liquid product directly on a person's skin causes discomfort and is undesirable. This problem arises when one tries to use shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, shower gel, or other liquid personal hygiene accessories that are of an undesired temperature. For example, the temperature of various liquids inside of a container may be less than the temperature within a shower. As such, a user is uncomfortable during their bathing experience. In particular, cold climates tend to cool liquids greatly relative to a temperature within, for example, a shower or bathtub. It would be desirable to increase the temperature of liquids prior to their application or use.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Other advantages, features and characteristics of the invention, as well as methods, operation and functions of related elements of structure, and the combinations of parts and economies of manufacture, will become apparent upon consideration of the following description and claims with reference to the accompanying drawings, all of which form a part of the specification, wherein like reference numerals designate corresponding parts in the various figures, and wherein:

FIG. 1 illustrates a functional block diagram of apparatus for altering a temperature state of a liquid within a container according to one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 illustrates a front perspective view of an apparatus for altering a temperature state of a liquid within a container according to one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 3 illustrates a top perspective view of an apparatus for altering a temperature state of a liquid within a container according to one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 4 illustrates a front perspective view of an apparatus for altering a temperature state of a liquid within a container according to one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 5 illustrates a cross-sectional side view a of an apparatus for altering a temperature state of a liquid within a container according to one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 6 illustrates a cross-sectional side view of an apparatus for altering a temperature state of a liquid within a container according to one embodiment of the invention; and

FIG. 7 illustrates a functional block diagram of an apparatus for altering a temperature state of a liquid within a container according to one embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

An apparatus for altering a temperature state of a liquid within a container and method of use are disclosed. In one form, an apparatus includes an oval housing having a top portion, a bottom portion, and a middle portion having a front side and a rear side. The top portion has a width and a depth. A plurality of cavities is positioned along the width and has substantially cylindrical openings. The cavities are sized to receive a portion of a liquid container. Heat generating electronics are housed within the housing. The heat generating electronics include a heat transfer element integrated as part of each cavity. The heat transfer element is operable to alter a temperature state of a cavity. A heat generator is mounted within the housing and is thermally coupled to the heat transfer element to collectively alter a temperature state of each of the cavities. A thermostat is operably coupled to the heat generator to alter the temperature state of each of the cavities. A power source is operably coupled to the electronics to power the electronics.

In a particularized form, an apparatus for altering a temperature state of a liquid within a container includes an oval shaped housing having a top portion, a bottom portion, and a middle portion having a front side and a rear side. The top portion has a width and a depth. The oval shaped housing contains three cavities having substantially cylindrical openings. The cavities are sized to receive a portion of a liquid container. The cavities are positioned along the width and approximately centered along the width. Heat generating electronics are housed within the housing. The heat generating electronics include a heat transfer element integrated as part of each cavity. The heat transfer element is operable to alter a temperature state of a cavity. A heat generator is mounted within the housing and is thermally coupled to the heat transfer element to collectively alter a temperature state of each of the cavities. A thermostat is operably coupled to the heat generator to alter the temperature state of each of the cavities. A power source is operably coupled to the electronics to power the electronics. In this manner, a person may heat the liquid within a container to a desired temperature and remain comfortable when applying the liquid to their skin.

FIG. 1 illustrates a functional block diagram of apparatus for altering a temperature state of a liquid within a container according to one embodiment of the invention. A personal hygiene product warmer, illustrated generally at 100, includes a variable heat source operable to set a temperature of a plurality of preformed heating cavities 102. Preformed heating cavities are sized to accommodate containers (not expressly shown) housing one or more types of personal hygiene products. For example, a first container may include a shampoo and a second container may contain a lotion. Various types of personal hygiene products may be heated including, but not limited to, shampoos, conditioners, shaving creams, shower gels, hair gels, body lotions or any other type of personal hygiene product that may benefit from having an altered temperature state prior to use.

During use, a user may benefit from adjusting variable heat source to warm a shampoo, conditioner and shaving cream prior to taking a shower. For example, a user may place a container having each product within preformed heating cavities 102 and adjust variable heat source 101 to warm each product. In this manner, three different products may be warmed to a desired temperature using three pre-formed heating cavities 102 enabling efficient use of a user's time when preparing to go to work or other functions.

FIG. 2 illustrates a front perspective view of an apparatus for altering a temperature state of a liquid within a container according to one embodiment of the invention. An apparatus for altering a temperature state of a personal hygiene product within a container, is illustrated generally as personal hygiene product warmer 200, and includes oval shaped housing 201 having top portion 208, bottom portion 209, and middle portion 210 having front side 211 and rear side (not expressly shown). Personal hygiene product warmer 200 further includes a first cavity 202, a second cavity 203, and a third cavity 204 positioned along a width 213 and a depth 214 of top portion 208 of oval shaped housing 206. First cavity 202, second cavity 203 and third cavity 204 include substantially cylindrical openings and are sized to receive a portion of a liquid container (not expressly shown). Personal hygiene product warmer 200 further includes thermostat control knob 205 centered along a portion of front side 211 and power switch 206 for activating or power personal hygiene product warmer 200 Oval shaped housing 201 may be provided with a height 215 between approximately four (4) and five (5) inches and a depth 214 ranging between approximately five (5) and six (6) inches. Oval shaped housing 201 may also include a width 213 of approximately twelve (12) inches.

During use, a user places power switch 206 to an on position and inserts liquid containers (not expressly shown) within one or more of first cavity 202, second cavity 203, and/or third cavity 204. A user may adjust thermostat control knob 205 to a desired temperature setting (e.g. between cold and hot) to alter a temperature state of a personal hygiene product. For example, a user may only place a container within first cavity 202 and third cavity 204. As such, each container may be heated to a desired temperature as set by thermostat 205. In one embodiment, a container detection sensor (not expressly shown) may be provided in association with each cavity. As such, when a user places a container within a cavity, only that cavity may be activated to alter a temperature state of a personal hygiene product contained within a container. When desired temperature is achieved, illuminator 212 illuminates to indicate that a personal hygiene product is warmed. A user may then place power switch 206 to an off and remove the liquid container from oval shaped housing 201. In this manner, simultaneously warm various personal hygiene products prior to use obviating the need to sequentially warm a product using a single product warmer.

FIG. 3 illustrates a top perspective view of an apparatus for altering a temperature state of a liquid within a container according to one embodiment of the invention. An apparatus for altering a temperature state of a liquid within a container, illustrated generally as personal hygiene product warmer 300, includes a top portion 307 of oval shaped housing 306. Top portion 307 includes a width 301 and depth 302. Personal hygiene product warmer 300 further includes a first cavity opening 303, a second cavity opening 304 and a third cavity opening 305 cylindrically shaped and positioned along width 301 and centered to width 301. Second cavity opening 304 is approximately centered to width 301 and depth 302 of top portion 307. Positioning each cavity opening 302, 303, and 304 approximately centered to width 301 allows for easy access to containers when placed within each cavity (not expressly shown). However in other embodiments, each cavity opening may be provided in other arrangements, such as along a front portion of oval shaped housing, a rear portion of oval shaped housing, or in other various arrangements such as triangular, etc. Additionally, personal hygiene product warmer 400 may also include less then three or greater than three cavities for altering a temperature state of a liquid.

FIG. 4 illustrates a front perspective view of an apparatus for altering a temperature state of a liquid within a container according to one embodiment of the invention. Apparatus for altering a temperature state of a liquid within a container, illustrated generally as personal hygiene product warmer 400, includes a substantially waterproof oval shaped housing 408 and a first cavity 401, a second cavity 402 and a third cavity 403. Each cavity 401, 402 and 403 include different dimensions and are positioned along top portion 411 and include substantially cylindrical openings sized to receive a portion of a liquid container (not expressly shown). Personal hygiene product warmer 400 further includes a first thermostat control knob 404 operably coupled to first cavity 401, a second thermostat control knob 405 operably coupled to second cavity 402, and a third thermostat control knob 406 operably coupled to third cavity 403. Power switch 407 is accessible via a front portion 410 of oval shaped housing 408.

During use, a user activates power switch 407 and places a liquid container (not expressly shown) within one or more cavity 401, 402, and/or 403. A user adjusts one or more thermostat control knobs 404, 405, and/or 406 based on which cavity is being used. For example, a user may adjust first thermostat control knob 404 to a desired temperature setting for first cavity 401, second thermostat control knob 405 to a desired temperature setting for second cavity 402, and third thermostat control knob 406 to a desired temperature setting for third cavity 403. When a temperature for each setting is reached, illuminator 409 illuminates indicating to a user that a desired temperature state has been achieved. In other embodiments, more than one illuminator may be provided for each cavity and illuminated based on providing the desired temperature. Upon a user removing the container(s), a user may place the power switch 407 to an off position. However in other embodiments a timer (not expressly shown) may be provided to automatically turn on or off personal hygiene product warmer 400 for safety purposes. For example, an individual may desire to have personal hygiene product warmer 400 to heat or warm a product prior to waking. As such, a timer may be provided to ensure scheduled heating of products using personal hygiene product warmer 400. Additionally, a timer may be provided to turn off personal hygiene product 400 after a period of time has elapsed (e.g. 30 minutes, 60 minutes, etc.). The timer may be a fixed or variable timer allowing a user to set the length of time personal hygiene product warmer 400 heats or warms a product.

FIG. 5 illustrates a cross-sectional side view of an apparatus for altering a temperature state of a liquid within a container according to one embodiment of the invention. An cross-sectional view of an apparatus for altering a temperature state of a liquid within a container, illustrated generally as personal hygiene product warmer 500, includes a housing 505 having a first cavity 501 cylindrically shaped to receive a liquid container 504, a second cavity 502, and a third cavity 503. Liquid container 504 includes a durable plastic that may be filled and refilled with a personal hygiene product to be warmed. Liquid container 502 includes a durable plastic that is heat conductive and able to withstand various temperature changes. Liquid container 504 and housing 505 may be manufactured using one or more plastic forming manufacturing processes such as a plastic molding, plastic extruding, plastic blowing and the like. For example, a plastic manufacturing process of injection molding or blow molding may be used to housing 505 having first cavity 501, second cavity 502 and third cavity 503. Injection molding is a process that is used in mass production of materials and includes melted plastic material being forcefully injected into a relatively cool mold. As the plastic material hardens, it takes on the shape of the mold cavity. One skilled in the art can appreciate that other methods may be employed to provide housing 505 and liquid container 502 either alone or in combination with other manual or automatic fabrication methods.

FIG. 6 illustrates a cross-sectional side view of an apparatus for altering a temperature state of a liquid within a container according to one embodiment of the invention. Apparatus for altering a temperature state of a liquid within a container, illustrated generally as personal hygiene product warmer 600, includes oval shaped housing 603. Personal hygiene product warmer 600 includes a thermally conductive material 605 integrated as part of each cavity 601, 602, and 603. A heat transfer element 604 such as an electrically conductive wire, thermal element, etc. is coupled to each thermally conductive material 605 to increase or decrease a temperature state of each cavity 601, 602, and 603. In one embodiment, thermally conductive material 605 may include a combination of materials such as durable plastic material having aluminum layer 607 formed as a part of each cavity 601, 602 and 603. Aluminum materials are well known in the art to provide excellent heat conduction and may be easily formed into various shapes and sizes. Some conventional aluminum manufacturing includes an extrusion process where aluminum is heated to approximately 400 to 500 degrees Celsius and formed. As such, an aluminum layer 607 of material for each cavity may be operated at temperatures less than 400 degrees Celsius for warming a personal hygiene product and not causing damage to aluminum layer 607 and/or cavities 601, 602, and 603. Heat transfer element 604 may then be coupled to thermally conductive material 605 having an aluminum layer 607 to alter a temperature state of cavities 601, 602, 603. Additionally, a separate thermostat may also be associated with each cavity and may include a separate heat transfer element 604 to increase or decrease a temperature state of each cavity.

FIG. 7 illustrates a functional block diagram of an apparatus for altering a temperature state of a liquid within a container according to one embodiment of the invention. An apparatus for altering a temperature state of a liquid, illustrated generally as personal hygiene product warmer 700, includes a power switch 701 operably coupled to power source 702 such as a direct current (DC) power source or an alternating current (AC) power source for supplying power to electronics of warming apparatus 700. In one embodiment, power source 702 may include one or more batteries (not expressly shown) operable to provide a DC power source. For example, personal hygiene product warmer 700 may be used in a remote location where power may not be available. In another embodiment, power source 702 may include utilize an AC power source and may be coupled to a wall outlet using power cord (not expressly shown). An AC power adapter may also be employed to convert AC power to DC power for use by personal hygiene product warmer 700.

Personal hygiene product warmer 700 further includes a variable thermostat and controller 703 operably coupled to heat generator 706 to alter a temperature of cavity 708 to a desired level. In one embodiment, variable thermostat and controller 703 may include adjustable thermostats such as mechanical thermostats or digital thermostats. A mechanical thermostat generally includes bi-metal coil that contracts and expands with an operating temperature. Movement of the bi-metal coil activates or controls a switch that opens or closes a circuit operable to make heat generator 706 turn on or off and feedback may be provided by plural cavities 708 to determine if an operating state of a bi-metal coil. In another embodiment, a digital thermostat may be employed. Digital thermostats use a thermistor proximally located to plural cavities 708 and operable to provide feedback of a measured temperature for one or more of plural cavities 708. For example, a thermistor is a resistor whose electrical resistance changes with temperature and may activate or control a switch that opens or closes a circuit operable to make enable and disable heat generator 706. Thermostat and controller 703 is further operably coupled to illuminator 704 and speaker 705 and may provide a signal to activate illuminator 704 and/or speaker 705 when plural cavities 708 reaches a desired temperature as set by a thermostat controller (not expressly shown). For example, when one or more of plural cavities 708 reaches a desired temperature as set by thermostat and controller 703, a signal sufficient to illuminate illuminator 704 may provided by thermostat and controller 703 indicating to a user that a desired temperature has been achieved. Similarly, speaker 705 may output an audio (i.e. buzzer, alarm, chime, etc.) sufficient to alert a user that a desired temperature has been achieved. In this manner, audio and visual indicators may be provided to a user thereby eliminating a need for a user to remove a container and test the content's temperature.

In one embodiment, heat generator 706 may include metallic coils (not expressly shown) operable to produce infrared heat for altering a temperature state of one or more of plural cavities 708. Other heat generating devices or sources may also be used. Heat generator 706 is coupled to a heat transfer element 707 operable to transfer heat from heat generator 706 to one or more of plural cavities 798. Cavity 708 includes a thermally conductive material or a combination of materials to facilitate transferring energy provided by heat generator 706. For example, a thermal conductor such as aluminum may be coupled to a thermally conductive material such as a durable high temperature plastic material and provided as a part of cavity 708. Other types of conductors may also be used including steel, copper, or any other thermally conductive metal or material.

During use, a user may place power switch 701 to an on position and place one or more liquid container(s) 709 within cavities 708. A user adjusts a control knob (not expressly shown) operably associated with thermostat and controller 703 to a desired temperature setting. In one embodiment, more than one control knob may be provided to set a temperature for one or more of cavities 708. Heat generator 708 generates heat and heat transfer element 707 couples heat to cavities 703. In one embodiment, heat generator 708 may produce a specific power output (i.e. voltage or current) and couple the voltage to cavities 703 using heat transfer element 707. Cavities 708 may then include a heat element operable to generate heat local to cavities 708. Upon a desired temperature being reached, illuminator 704 illuminates and speaker 705 produces audio output indicating to a user that a desired temperature has been provided and a liquid contained within liquid container 709 is ready for use.

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 or WWW.GOOGLE.COM.

Friday, June 26, 2009

United States Patent 7,322,592
WWW.USPTO.GOV
Francis , et al.
January 29, 2008

Aerodynamic coasting bicycle and method of use

Abstract

An aerodynamic coasting bicycle and method of use are disclosed. In one form, an aerodynamic cycling apparatus includes a main frame including a rear wheel mount and a front wheel mount. The main frame includes a light-weight material and a front wheel is coupled to the front wheel mount. A front wheel cover substantially covers an interior portion of the front wheel. A gearless rear wheel is coupled to the rear wheel mount and includes a rear wheel cover substantially covering an interior portion of the rear wheel.
Inventors: Francis; Nalan A. (St. Croix, VI), Francis; Marilyn S. (St. Croix, VI)
Appl. No.: 10/999,556
Filed: November 30, 2004
Related U.S. Patent Documents

Application Number Filing Date Patent Number Issue Date
60533681 Dec., 2003

Current U.S. Class: 280/152.2 ; 280/281.1; 280/288.4; 296/78.1
Current International Class: B62D 35/00 (20060101)
Field of Search: 280/87.01,281.1,152.2,288.4,152.1 D12/181,182 296/78.1
References Cited [Referenced By]
U.S. Patent Documents

D97461 November 1935 Bregman
2926927 March 1960 Enright
4326728 April 1982 Tatch
4732428 March 1988 Monte
D299220 January 1989 Trusky
4813583 March 1989 Carpenter
D301438 June 1989 Hanamura
5121937 June 1992 Lawwill
5131727 July 1992 Johnson
5275067 January 1994 Lew
D345725 April 1994 Camfield et al.
5324059 June 1994 Bryne
5603553 February 1997 Klieber et al.
D435817 January 2001 Lai
6450516 September 2002 Nall, III
Primary Examiner: Ellis; Christopher P.
Assistant Examiner: Walters; John D
Attorney, Agent or Firm: Galasso; Raymond M. Galasso & Associates
WWW.GAPATENTS.COM

Parent Case Text


CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to co-pending U.S. Provisional Patent Application having Ser. No. 60/533,681 filed Dec. 31, 2003 entitled "Coast-2-Coast", having a common applicant herewith.
Claims


What is claimed is:

1. An aerodynamic cycling apparatus comprising: a main frame including a rear wheel mount and a front wheel mount, the main frame constructed of light-weight materials and no mechanical drive assembly; a front wheel coupled to the front wheel mount, the front wheel including a front wheel cover substantially covering an interior portion of the front wheel; a gearless rear wheel coupled to the rear wheel mount, the rear wheel including a rear wheel cover substantially covering an interior portion of the rear wheel; a front aerodynamic cover substantially surrounding the front wheel and a front portion of the main frame, the front aerodynamic cover formed to allow placement of a user's legs between the main frame and the front aerodynamic cover; a rear aerodynamic cover substantially covering the rear wheel and a rear portion of the main frame; a rear spoiler coupled to the rear aerodynamic cover; and a rear view mirror assembly integrated as a part of the front aerodynamic cover to allow the user to view objects.

2. The apparatus as recited in claim 1 wherein the main frame comprises an elongated frame.

3. The apparatus as recited in claim 2 wherein the main frame further comprises: a length at least five (5) feet; and a height no greater than three (3) feet.

4. The apparatus as recited in claim 1 wherein the main frame comprises a braking system operably coupled to at least one of the front wheel and the rear wheel.

5. The apparatus as recited in claim 4 wherein the main frame comprises aluminum.

6. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the main frame comprises titanium.

7. The apparatus as recited in claim 1 wherein the front and rear aerodynamic covers comprise a plastic material.

8. The apparatus as recited in claim 1 wherein the front and rear aerodynamic covers comprise a fiberglass material.

9. An apparatus for use with a coasting bicycle to provide aerodynamics during comprising: a front aerodynamic cover operable to be coupled to a front portion of a main frame of a bicycle along each side of a front wheel of the bicycle, the front aerodynamic cover sized to cover at least fifty (50) percent of the front wheel's laterally exposed face; and a rear aerodynamic cover operable to be coupled to a rear portion of a main fame of the bicycle along each side of the rear wheel of the bicycle, the rear aerodynamic cover sized to cover at least fifty (50) percent of the rear wheel's laterally exposed faces.

10. The apparatus as recited in claim 9 further comprising: a front wheel cover operable to be coupled to the front wheel to substantially cover an interior portion of the front wheel; and a rear wheel cover operable to be coupled to the rear wheel to substantially cover an interior portion of the rear wheel.

11. The apparatus as recited in claim 10 further comprising a rear spoiler operable to be coupled to a rear portion of the main frame of the bicycle.

12. The apparatus as recited in claim 9 further comprising a rear spoiler operable to be coupled to the rear aerodynamic cover.

13. The apparatus of claim 10 wherein the front aerodynamic cover includes at least one rear view mirror.

14. The apparatus of claim 9 wherein the front and rear aerodynamic covers comprise a plastic material.

15. The apparatus of claim 14 wherein the main frame comprises aluminum.
Description


FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE

The invention relates generally to cycling, and more particularly to an aerodynamic coasting bicycle and method of use.

BACKGROUND

Road bikes today are constructed from a variety of materials, ranging from the traditional steel alloy to aluminum, titanium, magnesium and carbon fiber composites, to combinations of materials. Each of these materials has their own favorable aspect. Steel alloys are known to produce pliable frames that can be "tuned" for a particular type of riding. Aluminum frames are among the stiffer frames and are thus suitable for heavier riders or those that engage in high-energy pedaling. Titanium and carbon-fiber frames are more exotic, with better strength-to-weight ratios than steel or aluminum, but are higher in cost. The current trend among high-end frames is to use a combination of materials, such as aluminum or titanium for the main part of the frame and using carbon-fiber for the front and rear portions of the frame.

When designing race bikes, two of the most important variables are its weight and aerodynamic drag. In order to reduce wheel weight and improve aerodynamic efficiency, racing bikes have fewer spokes; a typical number is 24. In some situations, the resulting weaker wheel may not be suitable for heavier loads, landing jumps, etc., since this could cause spokes to break. To reduce both air resistance and friction on the road, tires are thin and smooth. Drop handlebars and optional handlebar extensions are combined with a raised seat post in order to put the rider in a more aerodynamic posture. However, what is lacking is reducing the drag incurred from a rider being present on the cycle.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Other advantages, features and characteristics of the invention, as well as methods, operation and functions of related elements of structure, and the combinations of parts and economies of manufacture, will become apparent upon consideration of the following description and claims with reference to the accompanying drawings, all of which form a part of the specification, wherein like reference numerals designate corresponding parts in the various figures, and wherein:

FIG. 1 illustrates a side view of an aerodynamic coasting bicycle according to one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 illustrates a front perspective view of an aerodynamic coasting bicycle according to one embodiment of the invention; and

FIG. 3 illustrates a side perspective view of an elongated aerodynamic coasting bicycle according to one embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

An aerodynamic coasting bicycle and method of use are provided. In one form, an aerodynamic cycling apparatus comprises a main frame including a rear wheel mount and a front wheel mount wherein the main frame includes light-weight materials and no mechanical drive assembly. The aerodynamic cycling apparatus further includes a front wheel coupled to the front wheel mount and a front wheel cover substantially covering an interior portion of the front wheel. A gearless rear wheel is coupled to the rear wheel mount and includes a rear wheel cover substantially covering an interior portion of the rear wheel.

In a particularized form, an aerodynamic coasting bicycle includes an elongated frame having a front aerodynamic cover substantially surrounding a front wheel of the bicycle and a front portion of the elongated frame. The front aerodynamic cover is formed to allow placement of a user's legs between the elongated frame and the front aerodynamic cover. The bicycle further includes a rear aerodynamic cover substantially covering the rear wheel and a rear portion of the elongated frame. In this manner, a reduction in drag caused by wind resistance is reduced allowing the aerodynamic coasting bicycle to accelerate at a greater rate during use.

FIG. 1 illustrates a side view of an aerodynamic coasting bicycle according to one embodiment of the invention. Aerodynamic coasting bicycle 10 includes a main frame 11, a front wheel 17, a rear wheel 19 and a seat 15. Each wheel includes a height of approximately twenty (20) inches and a width of approximately (23) millimeters. Through providing wheel having the disclosed dimension, minimal roll resistance is realized during use thereby allowing for greater acceleration and operating speeds of bicycle 10. Bicycle 10 further includes a front aerodynamic cover 12 coupled to a front portion of main frame 11 and a rear aerodynamic cover 16 coupled to a rear portion of main frame 11. Bicycle 10 further includes a windshield 21 made of a clear plastic or plexiglass material and a rear view mirror assembly 13 coupled to and/or integrated as a part of front aerodynamic cover 12.

Main frame 11 is formed from one or more light-weight materials such as aluminum, titanium, steel alloys, carbon fiber, or other types of light-weight materials having sufficient strength and durability for providing a bicycle frame. Main frame 11 is constructed for durability and strength with each joint being welded. Front aerodynamic cover 12 is formed to provide a streamlined shroud 14 for reducing wind resistance of aerodynamic coasting bicycle 10 when used. Front aerodynamic cover 12 is sized to allow a user to place a portion of their legs between shroud 14 and main frame 11 (not expressly shown). As such, aerodynamic cover 12 is sized such that it is sized and positioned at a distance from main frame 11 to allow for a user to place a portion or all of their legs along main frame 11 and behind front aerodynamic cover 12. In one embodiment, front aerodynamic cover 12 is coupled to front fork 62 and may be varied in width from approximately five (5) to fifteen (15) degrees allowing for aerodynamic variability of front aerodynamic cover 12 and ultimately bicycle 10 during use.

Front aerodynamic cover 12 and rear aerodynamic cover 16 may be formed from one or more types of light-weight materials such as plastic, thermoplastics, fiberglass, polyethylene, polypropylene and the like such that a light-weight aerodynamic properties may be achieved. Each cover may also be finished or coated with a paint, glossy finish, wax, etc. to reduce wind resistance along each surface.

Front wheel 17 further includes a front wheel cover 18 and rear wheel 19 includes a rear wheel cover 20. Each cover substantially covers the interior portion of each wheel to further enhance aerodynamics of bicycle 10. Each cover may be coupled to a portion of one or more wheel supports such as conventional wheel spokes using coupling mechanisms such as clips, plastic tie-straps, and the like. Each cover substantially covers the interior portion of each wheel to further enhance aerodynamics of bicycle 10. Each cover may be coupled to a portion of one or more wheel supports such as conventional wheel spokes using coupling mechanisms such as clips, plastic tie-straps, and the like. Each cover may be made of light-weight materials such as plastic, thermoplastics, fiberglass, polyethylene, polypropylene and the like such that a light-weight aerodynamic properties may be achieved.

Bicycle 10 is provided as a non-mechanical bicycle that relies on gravity to provide acceleration during use. For example, a user may position bicycle 10 along a hillside or course having a downward slope to allow a user to coast downhill along a surface. As the user initiates bicycle 10 down a slope, each aerodynamic element of bicycle 10 contributes to increasing the overall acceleration or propulsion of bicycle 10 through reducing wind resistance that traditional downhill bicycles encounter. For example, wind resistance of a user typically decelerates conventional bicycles. As such, a user using bicycle 10 having front aerodynamic cover 18 allows a user to be positioned behind front aerodynamic cover 18 and windshield 21 thereby reducing wind friction that may be caused by a user. Additionally, through bicycle 10 having a rear aerodynamic cover 16, turbulent wind currents may be streamlined away from main frame 11 allowing for an overall decrease in drag that may occur as bicycle 10 accelerates downhill. In this manner, through providing a non-mechanical bicycle made of light-weight materials and aerodynamic covers, wind resistance is reduced and acceleration of bicycle 10 is increased during use.

FIG. 2 illustrates a front perspective view of an aerodynamic coasting bicycle according to one embodiment of the invention. An aerodynamic coasting bicycle 25 includes a front aerodynamic cover 26 covering a substantial portion of a front wheel 27 of bicycle 25. Front aerodynamic cover 26 further includes rear view mirrors 28 positioned to allow a user to view objects behind or along side bicycle 25 during use. A windshield 29 further enhances aerodynamics of bicycle 25 allowing a user to be positioned behind windshield 29 to reduce wind resistance of a user while allowing the user visibility.

Front aerodynamic cover 26 is operable to be coupled to a front portion of a main frame of bicycle 25 along each side of front wheel of bicycle 25. Front aerodynamic cover 26 is sized to cover at least fifty (50) percent of front wheel 17. Similarly, a rear aerodynamic cover (not expressly shown) is operable to be coupled to a rear portion of a main fame of bicycle 25 along each side of the rear wheel of the bicycle and sized to cover at least fifty (50) percent of the rear wheel of the bicycle. In this manner, a substantial portion of wind resistance, turbulence, drag, etc. that may be encountered during use of bicycle 25 may be reduced thereby increasing the overall acceleration of bicycle 25.

FIG. 3 illustrates a side perspective view of an aerodynamic coasting bicycle illustrating a reduced frame height according to one embodiment of the invention. A downhill racing bicycle 60 that lacks a conventional mechanical gear system and includes stainless steel or aluminum foot pegs 56 for allowing a user to rest their feet during use. Bicycle 60 further includes an elongated frame 40 having a front wheel mount 41 coupling a front wheel 42 having a front wheel cover 43. Bicycle 60 further includes a rear wheel mount 44 coupling a rear wheel 45 having a rear wheel cover 46. A front aerodynamic cover 47 includes a windshield 48 and is coupled to a front portion of front wheel mount 41 using front mounting brackets 51 and a rear aerodynamic cover 49 is coupled to a rear portion of elongated frame 40 using rear mounting brackets 52. Front mounting brackets 51 and rear mounting brackets 52 may be coupled to various locations along elongated frame 40 as needed to securely couple front aerodynamic cover 47 and rear aerodynamic cover 49. In one embodiment, front and rear mounting brackets 51 and 52 may be secured using threaded nut and bolts, wing nuts, etc. allowing for each aerodynamic cover to be removed and replaced as needed. Durable plastic coupling mechanisms may also be considered for securely coupling front and rear mounting brackets 51 and 52. In another embodiment, front and rear mounting brackets 51 and 52 may be welded to elongated frame 40 to permanently couple front aerodynamic cover 47 and rear aerodynamic cover 49 to elongated frame 40.

To further enhance aerodynamics of bicycle 60, elongated frame 40 may include a height 55 no greater than three (3) feet and a length 54 of no greater than, for example, fifty (50) inches as measured from front axel to rear axel. Through providing a bicycle having a reduced height and elongated frame, a lower profile or exposed surface area may be realized thereby reducing the amount of drag that may be produced during use. Bicycle 60 further includes a spoiler 53 coupled that may be coupled to elongated frame 40 and/or rear aerodynamic cover 49 and positioned behind seat 50. Spoiler 53 provides additional aerodynamic enhancement through reducing drag and providing a downward force to bicycle 60 during use. Spoiler 53 may be adjusted in a vertical direction and at various angles as needed to reduce back drafts that may result during use. For example, mechanical height and angle actuators or linkage may be used to increase or decrease the height and angle of spoiler based on the overall operational height of a user. Actuators or linkage may include brackets having a track for position spoiler 53 through various angles. Additionally, a height adjuster may include a first tube coupled to spoiler 53 and an sized to slidingly engage and fit within a second tube mounted to a rear portion of elongated frame 40. Height adjuster may include a series of apertures positioned vertical and sized to allow a spring actuated nipple to engage an aperature and allow for increasing and decreasing the overall height of spoiler 53.

Rear aerodynamic cover 49 may also include an adjustable foot placement saddle 59 that allows a user to place their feet along rear aerodynamic cover 49 during use. In this manner, a reduction in wind resistance may be realized by a user placing their feet on foot pegs 56 or by a user placing their feet within foot placement saddle 59 thereby altering the center of gravity of a user as needed and enhancing the speed of bicycle 60 during use.

Bicycle 60 is well suited for downhill racing through providing a light-weight bicycle having increased aerodynamic to optimize acceleration through non-mechanical propulsion means. For example, bicycle 60 lacks gears, linkage, chains, etc. used on a conventional bicycle. In this manner, a lightweight bicycle having streamlined aerodynamics may be provided to minimize drag that may be encountered due to wind resistance while allowing bicycle 60 to accelerate efficiently.

Bicycle 60 further includes a mechanical or hydraulic brake system 57 that includes front and/or rear disc brakes and at least on actuator (not expressly shown) for slowing and stopping bicycle 60 during use. Additionally, bicycle 60 includes handlebars 58 operatively coupled to elongated frame 40 for providing directional control of bicycle 60.

Note that although an embodiment of the invention has been shown and described in detail herein, along with certain variants thereof, many other varied embodiments that incorporate the teachings of the invention may be easily constructed by those skilled in the art. Benefits, other advantages, and solutions to problems have been described above with regard to specific embodiments. However, the benefits, advantages, solutions to problems, and any element(s) that may cause any benefit, advantage, or solution to occur or become more pronounced are not to be construed as a critical, required, or essential feature or element of any or all the claims. Accordingly, the invention is not intended to be limited to the specific form set forth herein, but on the contrary, it is intended to cover such alternatives, modifications, and equivalents, as can be reasonably included within the spirit and scope of the invention. For more information please go to WWW.GAPATENTS.COM or WWW.GOOGLE.COM.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

United States Patent 7,512,971
WWW.USPTO.GOV
Ellington
March 31, 2009

Method and system for enabling remote access to a computer system

Abstract

Method and systems configured for allowing a non-local remote user to access a computer system with a particular authorization level. Such access is facilitated by examining non-local directory services group memberships of the user and performing a mapping of the user's identity to a corresponding universal local user account that have the proper authorization level or levels. Such methods and systems allow any number of non-local remote users access to the computer system in such a way that the remote user assumes the identity of (i.e., is mapped to) a corresponding universal local user account of an appropriate privilege level. All non-local remote users that the computer system determines to be of the same privilege level will share the identity of the same universal local user account.
Inventors: Ellington; Jeremy Mark (Austin, TX)
Assignee: Newisys, Inc. (Austin, TX)
Appl. No.: 10/767,400
Filed: January 29, 2004

Current U.S. Class: 726/6 ; 709/225; 713/164; 713/183; 713/184; 726/16; 726/17; 726/18; 726/19; 726/20; 726/21
Current International Class: G06F 7/04 (20060101); G06F 15/16 (20060101); G06K 19/00 (20060101); G06K 9/00 (20060101); G06F 7/58 (20060101); G06F 17/30 (20060101); G06F 12/00 (20060101); G11C 7/00 (20060101); H04L 9/32 (20060101); G06F 12/14 (20060101); G06F 13/00 (20060101)
Field of Search: 726/6,16-21
References Cited [Referenced By]
U.S. Patent Documents

5239648 August 1993 Nukui
6539482 March 2003 Blanco et al.
7152108 December 2006 Khan et al.
2002/0095571 July 2002 Bradee
2003/0233571 December 2003 Kraus et al.
2005/0044411 February 2005 Somin et al.
2005/0080897 April 2005 Braun et al.
Primary Examiner: Sheikh; Ayaz
Assistant Examiner: Chen; Shin-Hon
Attorney, Agent or Firm: Galasso; Raymond M. Galasso & Associates, L.P.
WWW.GAPATENTS.COM

Claims


What is claimed is:

1. A computer-implemented method for enabling users to remotely access a computer system using an active shared directory account maintained on a different computer system, comprising: facilitating authentication of a user using only information derived from said shared directory account, wherein said authenticating includes the computer system accessing said shared directory account on the different computer system; determining that the user does not have a local account on the computer system in response to successfully authenticating the user thereby recognizing that the user is a non-local user with respect to the computer system; selecting a universal local user account of the computer system in response to successfully identifying a recognized group membership affiliation for the user that corresponds to said shared directory account such that the universal local user account is selected dependent upon said shared directory account and the recognized group membership affiliation, wherein the universal local user account has access privilege on the computer system; and mapping the user to the universal local user account, wherein said mapping enables access to the computer system by the user in accordance with an access privilege level corresponding to the universal local user account.

2. The method of claim 1 wherein selecting the universal local user account of the computer system dependent upon said shared directory account includes determining at least one of directory services group membership information associated with said shared directory account and access privilege information associated with said shared directory account.

3. The method of claim 1 wherein said selecting the universal user account includes correlating a universal local user account access level to a corresponding group membership of the user.

4. The method of claim 1 wherein: the universal local user account is one of a plurality of universal local user accounts; and each one of said universal local user accounts has a respective access privilege level associated therewith.

5. The method of claim 1, further comprising: creating said plurality of universal local user accounts prior to performing said selecting, wherein each one of said universal local user access accounts has a respective access privilege level associated therewith.

6. The method of claim 1 wherein several users can be simultaneously mapped to the universal local user account for enabling simultaneous access by each one of said users to the computer system.

7. A computer-implemented method for enabling users to remotely access a computer system using an active shared directory account maintained on a different computer system, comprising: facilitating authentication of a user using only information derived from said shared directory account, wherein said authenticating includes the computer system accessing said shared directory account on the different computer system; determining that the user does not have a local account on the computer system thereby recognizing that the user is a non-local status user with respect to the computer system; and associating the user with a universal local user account of the computer system after said determining and in response to successfully identifying a recognized group membership affiliation for the user that corresponds to said shared directory account such that the universal local user account is selected dependent upon said shared directory account and the recognized group membership affiliation, wherein the universal local user account has access privilege on the computer system and wherein said associating enables access to the computer system in accordance with said access privilege corresponding to the universal local user account.

8. The method of claim 7 wherein associating the user with the universal local user account includes determining at least one of directory services group membership information associated with said shared directory account and access privilege information associated with said shared directory account.

9. The method of claim 7 wherein said associating includes correlating a universal local user account access level to a corresponding access level of a group membership of the user.

10. The method of claim 7 wherein: the universal local user account is one of a plurality of universal local user accounts; and each one of said universal local user accounts has a respective access privilege level associated therewith.

11. The method of claim 7, further comprising: creating said plurality of universal local user accounts prior to performing said selecting, wherein each one of said universal local user access accounts has a respective access privilege level associated therewith.

12. The method of claim 11 wherein said user account selection information includes at least one of directory services group membership information and access privilege information.

13. The method of claim 12 wherein said selecting the universal user account includes correlating a universal local user account access level to an access level of a group membership of the user.

14. The method of claim 7 wherein several users can be simultaneously mapped to the universal local user account for enabling simultaneous access by each one of said users to the computer system.

15. A computer system, comprising: at least one data processing device; instructions processable by said at least one data processing device; and an apparatus from which said instructions are accessible by said at least one data processing device; and means for accessing an active shared directory account maintained on a different computer system; wherein said instructions are configured for enabling said at least one data processing device to facilitate: facilitating authentication of a user using only information derived from the active directory account, wherein said authenticating includes the computer system accessing said shared directory account on the different computer system; determining that the user does not have a local account on the computer system in response to successfully authenticating the user thereby recognizing that the user is a non-local user with respect to the first computer system; selecting a universal local user account of the computer system in response to successfully identifying a recognized group membership affiliation for the user that corresponds to said shared directory account such that the universal local user account is selected dependent upon said shared directory account and the recognized group membership affiliation, wherein the universal local user account has access privilege on the computer system; and mapping the user to the universal local user account, wherein said mapping enables access to the computer system by the user in accordance with an access privilege level corresponding to the universal local user account.

16. The computer system of claim 15 wherein selecting the universal local user account of the computer system dependent upon said shared directory account includes determining at least one of directory services group membership information associated with said shared directory account and access privilege information associated with said shared directory account.

17. The computer system of claim 15 wherein said selecting the universal user account includes correlating a universal local user account access level to a corresponding group membership of the user.

18. The computer system of claim 15 wherein: the universal local user account is one of a plurality of universal local user accounts; and each one of said universal local user accounts has a respective access privilege level associated therewith.

19. The computer system of claim 15 wherein said instructions are further configured for enabling said at least one data processing device to facilitate: creating said plurality of universal local user accounts prior to performing said selecting, wherein each one of said universal local user access accounts has a respective access privilege level associated therewith.

20. The computer system of claim 15 wherein several users can be simultaneously mapped to the universal local user account for enabling simultaneous access by each one of said users to the computer system.

21. A computer system, comprising: at least one data processing device; instructions processable by said at least one data processing device; and an apparatus from which said instructions are accessible by said at least one data processing device; and means for accessing an active shared directory account maintained on a different computer system; wherein said instructions are configured for enabling said at least one data processing device to facilitate: facilitating authentication of a user using only information derived from the active shared directory account, wherein said authenticating includes the first computer system accessing said shared directory account on a different computer system; determining that the user does not have a local account on the computer system thereby recognizing that the user is a non-local status user with respect to the computer system; and associating the user with a universal local user account of the computer system after said determining and in response to successfully identifying a recognized group membership affiliation for the user that corresponds to said shared directory account such that the universal local user account is selected dependent upon said shared directory account and the recognized group membership affiliation, wherein the universal local user account has access privilege on the computer system and wherein said associating enables access to the computer system in accordance with said access privilege corresponding to the universal local user account.

22. The computer system of claim 21 wherein associating the user with the universal local user account includes determining at least one of directory services group membership information associated with said shared directory account and access privilege information associated with said shared directory account.

23. The computer system of claim 21 wherein said associating includes correlating a universal local user account access level to a corresponding access level of a group membership of the user.

24. The computer system of claim 21 wherein: the universal local user account is one of a plurality of universal local user accounts; and each one of said universal local user accounts has a respective access privilege level associated therewith.

25. The computer system of claim 21 wherein said instructions are further configured for enabling said at least one data processing device to facilitate: creating said plurality of universal local user accounts prior to performing said selecting, wherein each one of said universal local user access accounts has a respective access privilege level associated therewith.

26. The computer system of claim 25 wherein said user account selection information includes at least one of directory services group membership information and access privilege information.

27. The computer system of claim 25 wherein said selecting the universal user account includes correlating a universal local user account access level to an access level of a group membership of the user.

28. The computer system of claim 21 wherein several users can be simultaneously mapped to the universal local user account for enabling simultaneous access by each one of said users to the computer system.
Description


FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE

The disclosures made herein relate generally to computer systems and, more particularly, to methods and systems configured for enabling remote access to a computer system.

BACKGROUND

For any number of reasons, a computer user (i.e., a user) who does not have a local account on a particular computer system sometimes has a valid need to remotely gain access to that particular computer system. One conventional approach for granting access is assigning a non-local remote user with valid user identification or group identification (UID or GID) by extending the directory service's schema to contain the additional required information. MKSADExtPlugin, which is accessible at www.css-solutions.ca/ad4unix/, is an example of a software package capable of extending the directory service's schema for Microsoft's Active Directory Server.

Such conventional approaches for enabling such access by a non-local remote user have one or more shortcomings associated therewith. For example, system administrators often find extending a directory service's schema to contain additional required information for enabling a non-local remote user to be assigned a valid UID or GED to be an unacceptable solution, as it requires the use of third-party software running on their enterprise computer systems. Other shortcomings associated with such conventional approaches include making access by such non-local users difficult and/or complicated to achieve, compromising security of the computer system, contributing to user and group account clashes, and/or allowing non-local users to pollute the computer systems environment with superfluous directories, processes and files.

Therefore, methods and system configured for enabling remote access to a computer system by non-local users in a manner that overcomes shortcomings associated with conventional approaches for enabling such remote access by non-local users would be advantageous and useful.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 depicts a method for facilitating remote computer system access in accordance with an embodiment of the disclosures made herein.

FIG. 2 depicts a system configured for carrying out remote computer system access in accordance with embodiments of the disclosures made herein.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Methods and systems configured in accordance with embodiments of the disclosures made herein enable remote access to a computer system by non-local users (i.e., users that do not have a local account). Such methods and systems are referred to herein as disclosed methods and disclosed systems. Disclosed methods and disclosed systems perform remote access functionality in a manner that overcomes shortcomings associated with conventional methods and systems for providing remote access functionality.

A networked computer system including instructions for carrying out a disclosed method is an example of a system in accordance with an embodiment of the disclosures made herein. Remote users without a local user account are referred to hereinafter as non-local remote users.

Disclosed methods and disclosed systems accomplish several objectives. One objective is to allow access to a computer system by a non-local remote user. Another objective is to facilitate the management of non-local remote users' access to a computer system by making the authorization process a simple matter of consulting a remote user's affiliation with specific remote membership groups. Still another objective is to allow non-local remote users to access a computer system without polluting the system's environment with superfluous home directories or processes and files owned by foreign user accounts. Yet another objective is to preclude the directory services administrator from having to extend the directory services schema or run any third party software.

Disclosed methods and disclosed systems are advantageous and unique in that they accomplish such objectives in a manner that overcomes shortcomings associated with conventional methods and systems for providing remote access functionality. Access to one or more computer systems by non-local remote users is managed centrally by managing users' membership in directory services groups. The directory services mechanism is not required to support authorization concepts used on the local computer system (e.g., UIDs or GIDs). Disclosed methods and disclosed systems allow remote users to access a computer system and to be granted an appropriate authorization level without requiring any local configuration for the user. Thus, remote users are granted access in a manner that virtually eliminates the possibility of a remote user's UID or GID clashing with a local user's UID or GID. Thus, disclosed methods and systems prevent irremovable files from being generated and stored. Furthermore, privilege escalation based on a UID or GID clash is virtually eliminated, while still providing non-local remote users access to a respective home directory with the appropriate permissions once they are logged into the computer system.

Disclosed methods and systems allow a non-local remote user to access a computer system with a particular authorization level by examining the user's membership in one or more non-local, directory services groups, and performing a mapping of the user's identity to a pre-existing local account with the proper authorization level(s). Such disclosed methods and systems allows any number of non-local remote users access to the computer system in such a way that the remote user assumes the identity of (i.e., is mapped to) a pre-created local user (i.e., a universal local user account) of an appropriate privilege level. The computer system chooses the appropriate pre-created local user to which the non-local remote user will be mapped by evaluating the non-local remote user's directory services group memberships. All non-local remote users that the computer system determines to be of the same privilege level will share the identity of the same pre-created local user.

In accordance with one embodiment of the disclosed methods and systems, a computer-implemented method for enabling non-local remote users to access a computer system comprises creating a plurality of universal local user accounts, determining a non-local status of a non-local remote user with respect to the computer system, authorizing access to the computer system in response to determining the non-local status, selecting a universal local user account of the computer system dependent upon user account selection information of the non-local remote user and mapping the non-local remote user to the universal local user account (i.e., the corresponding universal local user account). Authorizing access includes verifying that the non-local remote user has an active account on a shared directory service manager. The corresponding universal local user account is one of the plurality of universal local user accounts and each one of the universal local user accounts has a respective access privilege level associated therewith. Several non-local remote users can be simultaneously mapped to the corresponding universal local user account for enabling simultaneous access by each one of the non-local remote users to the computer system. The user account selection information includes at least one of directory services group membership information and access privilege information. Selecting the universal user account includes correlating a universal local user account access level to a corresponding group membership of the user. The mapping enables the user to access the computer system in accordance with an access privilege level corresponding to the universal local user account.

In accordance with another embodiment of the disclosed methods and systems, a computer-implemented method for enabling users to access a computer system comprises creating a plurality of universal local user accounts, determining a non-local status of a user (i.e., a non-local remote user) with respect to the computer system, determining group membership affiliations of the non-local remote user and associating the non-local remote user with a universal local user account (i.e., the corresponding universal local user account) after determining the non-local status. The corresponding universal local user account has access privilege on the computer system and associating the non-local remote user is performed dependent upon the group membership affiliations of the non-local remote user. Associating the non-local remote user further includes correlating a universal local user account access level to a corresponding access level of a group membership of the non-local remote user. The corresponding universal local user account is one of a plurality of universal local user accounts and each one of the universal local user accounts has a respective access privilege level associated therewith. Associating the non-local remote user still further includes selecting the corresponding universal local user account dependent upon user account selection information of the non-local remote user and mapping the non-local remote user to the corresponding universal local user account. Selecting the corresponding universal user account includes correlating a universal local user account access level to an access level of a group membership of the non-local remote user. The mapping enables the non-local remote user to access the computer system in accordance with an access privilege level corresponding to the universal local user account. The user account selection information includes at least one of directory services group membership information and access privilege information.

Turning now to specific figures, FIG. 1 depicts a method 100 (i.e., an embodiment of a disclosed method) for facilitating remote access of the computer system 200 (i.e., an embodiment of a disclosed system) depicted in FIG. 2. It should be understood and is contemplated herein that the computer system 200 depicted in FIG. 2 is one embodiment of a disclosed system capable of carrying out the method 100. Accordingly, it should be understood and is contemplated herein that implementation of disclosed methods (e.g., the method 100) is not limited to being carried out via the computer system 200.

An operation 105 is performed for authenticating a remote user in response to the remote user attempting to remotely log-in to the computer system 200 via a Secure Shell Daemon (SSHD) 205 using one or more Pluggable Authentication Modules (PAM) 210. The remote user has an account on a shared directory service manager (on a networked computer system, not specifically shown) configured for use on the computers system 200. Microsoft Active Directory Server is an example of a shared directory service manager. An appropriate system or systems (e.g., a networked computer system, not specifically shown) facilitates such authentication based on information such as that obtained by prompting the remote user for a user identification (UID) and password. The method 100 terminates (e.g., ends or re-requests authentication information) in response unsuccessfully authenticating the remote user.

In response to the remote user being successfully authenticated, an operation 110 is performed for determining an account status of the remote user. In one embodiment, one or more Pluggable Authentication Modules 210 consults with a Security Manager (SM) 215 for determining the account status. The Security Manager 215 is a software component of the computer system 200 that enforces the authorization process used on the computer system 200. If it is determined that the remote user is a local remote user (i.e., has a local account), an operation 115 is performed for facilitating a local user access authorization process granting access to the computer system 200 with the identity of the remote user's local account.

If it is determined that the remote user is a non-local user (i.e., does not have a local account), an operation 120 is performed for determining group affiliations of the non-local remote user. To determine such group affiliations, the Security Manager 215 consults the shared directory service manager's database. In one embodiment, the Security Manager 215 consults the shared directory service manager's database through use of a Name Service Switch 220 of the computer system 200. If the Security Manager 215 does not determine any recognized group membership affiliations, the method 100 terminates (e.g., ends or requests additional affiliation information). If the Security Manager 215 identifies a recognized group membership affiliations (i.e., indicating that access should be granted), an operation 125 is performed by the Security Manager 215 for determining to the corresponding universal local user account (i.e., the corresponding local pre-created account) to which the non-local remote user should be mapped.

After determining the corresponding universal local user account, an operation 130 is performed for granting access under the corresponding universal local user account. Granting access includes propagating the decision to grant access to the non-local remote user and the corresponding universal local user account back to the PAM 210 from the security Manager 215 and the Name Service Switch 220 for authorization, and likewise back to the Secure Shell Daemon 205. Accordingly, the Secure Shell Daemon 205 grants the non-local remote user access with the identity and access level of corresponding to the universal local user account.

It is contemplated herein that any number of algorithms, methods and the like can be used to determine the universal local user account to which the non-local remote user is to be mapped. In one embodiment, the computer system 200 is configured with a group mapping that describes one-to-one relationships (i.e., one-to-one mapping) between remote directory service groups and local administrative groups (e.g., in a dual column table). The non-local remote user is mapped to a universal local user affiliated with local groups analogous to those of the non-local remote user.

Referring now to computer readable medium in accordance with embodiments of the disclosures made herein, methods, processes and/or operations as disclosed herein for enabling disclosed remote access functionality are tangibly embodied by computer readable medium having instructions thereon for carrying out such methods, processes and/or operations. In one specific example, instructions are provided for carrying out the various operations of the methods, processed and/or operations depicted in FIG. 1. and/or associated with the computer system depicted in FIG. 2. The instructions may be accessible by one or more processors (i.e., data processing devices) of a computer system as disclosed herein (i.e., a data processing system) from a memory apparatus (e.g. RAM, ROM, virtual memory, hard drive memory, etc), from an apparatus readable by a drive unit (e.g., a diskette, a compact disk, a tape cartridge, etc) or both. Examples of computer readable medium include a compact disk or a hard drive, which has imaged thereon a computer program adapted for carrying out disclosed remote access functionality.

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, mechanical, chemical and electrical changes may be made without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention. For example, functional blocks shown in the figures could be further combined or divided in any manner 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, June 22, 2009

United States Patent 7,546,902
WWW.USPTO.GOV
Schwertner
June 16, 2009

Personnel lift apparatus

Abstract

Accordingly, embodiments of the inventive disclosures made herein comprise a personnel lift apparatus for raising or lowering a standing person between two or more elevations or from a base elevation to a raised elevation. A moveable lift platform rides within a track provided on a pair of substantially upright side rails. The platform is connected by a flexible metallic cable to an electrically operated winch. The personnel lift eliminates steps and ladders on recreational items or any equipment requiring climbing.
Inventors: Schwertner; Larry Victor (Ballinger, TX)
Appl. No.: 11/593,353
Filed: November 6, 2006
Related U.S. Patent Documents

Application Number Filing Date Patent Number Issue Date
60734526 Nov., 2005

Current U.S. Class: 187/241 ; 182/103; 182/148; 182/69.6; 187/245; 187/406; 414/630; 414/631
Current International Class: B66B 9/16 (20060101); B66B 9/06 (20060101); B66F 11/00 (20060101)
Field of Search: 248/297.21 187/241,245,276 182/69.6,37,102-103,148 104/124-127 414/630-631
References Cited [Referenced By]
U.S. Patent Documents

292265 January 1884 Stoddard
2394148 February 1946 Campbell
2714434 August 1955 Peterson
2950948 August 1960 Hardigan et al.
3115211 December 1963 Ostrander, Jr.
3428145 February 1969 Lyon
3614994 October 1971 Goodrum
3672471 June 1972 Badding
4026387 May 1977 Abreu
4183423 January 1980 Lewis
4324317 April 1982 Winkelblech
5273132 December 1993 Sasaki et al.
6244381 June 2001 Ruble
6371449 April 2002 Chamberlain
6640934 November 2003 Edwards
7004288 February 2006 Araki et al.
Primary Examiner: Cuomo; Peter M
Assistant Examiner: Kruer; Stefan
Attorney, Agent or Firm: Galasso; Raymond M. Galasso & Associates, L.P.
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Parent Case Text


CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to co-pending U.S. Provisional Patent Application having Ser. No. 60/734,526 filed Nov. 7, 2005 entitled "Personnel Lift" having a common applicant herewith.
Claims


What is claimed is:

1. A personnel lift apparatus for raising or lowering a standing person between two or more elevations comprising: two elongated upright substantially parallel distally spaced rails, each rail having a track along length of the rail, a top end of the rails secured to an elevated platform member, the rail providing a supportive and retentive guide track for a movable load bearing platform; the movable load bearing lift platform for raising or lowering a person in a standing position on the personnel lift apparatus, the movable lift platform comprising: a substantially horizontal platform floor sized for supportively receiving a standing person onto the platform floor; a rigid back wall having a hole for receiving a cable clamp in a mid portion of the back wall, the back wall secured to a back edge of the platform floor, the wall substantially perpendicular to the platform floor, the back wall extending above the platform floor so as to guidably retain feet of the standing person on the platform; a pair of sidewalls, each secured to opposing side edges of the platform floor, the sidewalls secured along a rear portion to opposing side edges of the rigid back wall, the sidewalls and back wall forming a rigid frame for structural support to the platform floor, the sidewalls guidably retaining the feet of the standing person on the platform floor; and a pair of flanges having two distally spaced holes therethrough, the holes positioned near opposing top and bottom portions of the flange, the flanges distally spaced across the platform, each flange uniquely secured to an outside face of the opposing sidewalls, wherein each sidewall has only one flange secured thereto; a pair of roller bracket assemblies, each roller bracket assembly comprising: an elongated roller bracket frame having two holes for receiving an axle and two holes for receiving an elongated threaded bolt therethrough, the axle holes proximate opposing end portions of the roller bracket frame, the axle holes extending through opposing sidewalls of the roller bracket frame, the bolt holes distally spaced along and extending through a top and bottom face of the roller bracket frame, the holes in each roller bracket positioned to align with the distally spaced holes in one flange; two axles, each axle received into the axle hole, each axle sized to extend outwards beyond the sidewalls of the roller bracket frame; two pairs of roller wheels, each roller wheel having a bearing for receiving the axle therethrough, each roller wheel rollably secured to opposing ends of the axle, wherein the roller bracket frame and roller wheels are rollably and moveably received onto the track of the rail; and a pair of elongated threaded bolts, each bolt received into the bolt holes of the flange, each bolt having a threaded portion extending outwards beyond the top face of the roller bracket, extending outwards beyond the front face of the rail and extending through the holes of the flanges and secured to the flanges, wherein the moveable load bearing platform is rollably, supportively and moveably secured to the rails by the roller bracket assemblies, wherein the load bearing platform is free to move along and guided by the track of the rails; an electrically motor driven means of raising and lowering the movable platform, the motor driven means comprising: a reversible electric drive motor having an output shaft; a flexible metallic cable having two ends, a first end secured to the back wall of the lift platform; a cable spool sheave for windably receiving and securing a second end of the cable and a portion of a cable thereon, wherein cable is wound onto the spool to raise the moveable platform, wherein cable tension supports the platform at an elevation along the rails; a cable pulley secured to the bottom of the elevated platform near the top end of the rails, wherein the cable routes from the cable spool, over the pulley, then down to secure to the back wall of the lift platform; and a gear reducer having an input shaft and an output shaft, the input shaft joined to the output shaft of the motor, the output shaft of the reducer joined to the cable spool sheave, wherein the motor rotates the sheave through the reducer; at least one substantially upright hand hold bar having a lower portion secured to one flange of the lift platform, the hand hold for providing hand support to a person riding the lift platform; an electrical drive motor control means, the control means operable by the hand of the person riding the lift platform, the control means having raise, lower and stop positions for commanding rotation of the motor driven means; and a power supply means for providing electric power to operate the motor drive means, said power supply means electrically connected to said control means and motor.

2. The personnel lift apparatus of claim 1, wherein: the track of each rail comprises a cavity along length of the rail and a slot extending through a front face of the rail, the slot joining with the cavity, the cavity and slot providing a supportive and retentive guide track for a movable load bearing platform; the roller bracket frame and roller wheels are rollably, moveably and retentively received into the cavity of the rail; and the elongated threaded bolts of the roller bracket extend outwards through the slot of the rail, and extending through the holes of the flanges of the movable lift platform.

3. The personnel lift apparatus of claim 2, wherein each rail is secured to opposing substantially upright legs of a ladder, wherein the personnel lift eliminates the need for a person to climb the ladder; and the electrically driven means is secured to the elevated platform member.

4. The personnel lift apparatus of claim 3, wherein the drive motor control means comprises an electrical rocker switch secured to one hand hold bar, the rocker switch positioned to be easily operated by the hand of the moveable platform rider, the rocker switch having raise, lower and stop positions, the rocker switch being spring loaded to automatically return to the stop position when released.

5. The personnel lift apparatus of claim 4, further comprising: a safety strap having a first end secured to one of the hand hold bars; a latching receptacle secured to another hand hold bar, the latching receptacle for receiving and latchably locking a second end of the safety strap into the receptacle, wherein the safety strap is restrainably operable to prevent the person riding the personnel lift from accidentally falling from the platform of the personnel lift.

6. The personnel lift apparatus of claim 5, wherein the electric drive motor comprises a 12 volt direct current motor; and wherein the power supply means comprises a 12 volt DC power supply such as commonly available on a motor vehicle, farm tractor or automotive storage battery.

7. The personnel lift apparatus of claim 5, wherein the electric drive motor comprises a 120 volt alternating current motor; and wherein the power supply means comprises a 120 volt alternating current power supply.

8. A personnel lift apparatus for raising or lowering a standing person between two or more elevations comprising: two elongated upright substantially parallel distally spaced rails, each rail having a track along length of the rail, the rail providing a supportive and retentive guide track for a movable load bearing platform; the movable load bearing lift platform for raising or lowering a person in a standing position on the personnel lift apparatus, the movable lift platform comprising: a substantially horizontal platform floor sized for supportively receiving a standing person onto the platform floor; a rigid back wall having a hole for receiving a cable clamp in a mid portion of the back wall, the back wall secured to a back edge of the platform floor, the wall substantially perpendicular to the platform floor, the back wall extending above the platform floor so as to guidably retain feet of the standing person on the platform; a pair of sidewalls, each secured to opposing side edges of the platform floor, the sidewalls secured along a rear portion to opposing side edges of the rigid back wall, the sidewalls and back wall forming a rigid frame for structural support to the platform floor, the sidewalls guidably retaining the feet of the standing person on the platform floor; and a pair of flanges having two distally spaced holes therethrough, the holes positioned near opposing top and bottom portions of the flange, the flanges distally spaced across the platform, each flange uniquely secured to an outside face of the opposing sidewalls, wherein each sidewall has only one flange secured thereto; a pair of roller bracket assemblies, each roller bracket assembly comprising: an elongated roller bracket frame having two holes for receiving an axle and two holes for receiving an elongated threaded bolt therethrough, the axle holes proximate opposing end portions of the roller bracket frame, the axle holes extending through opposing sidewalls of the roller bracket frame, the bolt holes distally spaced along and extending through a top and bottom face of the roller bracket frame, the holes in each roller bracket positioned to align with the distally spaced holes in one flange; two axles, each axle received into the axle hole, each axle sized to extend outwards beyond the sidewalls of the roller bracket frame; two pairs of roller wheels, each roller wheel having a bearing for receiving the axle therethrough, each roller wheel rollably secured to opposing ends of the axle, wherein the roller bracket frame and roller wheels are rollably and moveably received onto the track of the rail; and a pair of elongated threaded bolts, each bolt received into the bolt holes of the flange, each bolt having a threaded portion extending outwards beyond the top face of the roller bracket, extending outwards beyond the front face of the rail and extending through the holes of the flanges and secured to the flanges, wherein the moveable load bearing platform is rollably, supportively and moveably secured to the rails by the roller bracket assemblies, wherein the load bearing platform is free to move along and guided by the track of the rails; an electrically motor driven means of raising and lowering the movable platform, the motor driven means comprising: a reversible electric drive motor having an output shaft; a flexible metallic cable having two ends, a first end secured to the back wall of the lift platform; a cable spool sheave for windably receiving and securing a second end of the cable and a portion of a cable thereon, wherein cable is wound onto the spool to raise the moveable platform, wherein cable tension supports the platform at an elevation along the rails; a cable pulley secured to an upper portion of the rails, wherein the cable routes from the cable spooi, over the pulley, then down to secure to the back wall of the lift platform; and a gear reducer having an input shaft and an output shaft, the input shaft joined to the output shaft of the motor, the output shaft of the reducer joined to the cable spool sheave, wherein the motor rotates the sheave through the reducer; at least one substantially upright hand hold bar having a lower portion secured to one flange of the lift platform, the hand hold for providing hand support to a person riding the lift platform; an electrical drive motor control means, the control means operable by the hand of the person riding the lift platform, the control means having raise, lower and stop positions for commanding rotation of the motor driven means; and a power supply means for providing electric power to operate the motor drive means, said power supply means electrically connected to said control means and motor.

9. The personnel lift apparatus of claim 8, wherein: the track of each rail comprises a cavity along length of the rail and a slot extending through a front face of the rail, the slot joining with the cavity, the cavity and slot providing a supportive and retentive guide track for a movable load bearing platform; the roller bracket frame and roller wheels are rollably, moveably and retentively received into the cavity of the rail; and the elongated threaded bolts of the roller bracket extend outwards through the slot of the rail, and extending through the holes of the flanges of the movable lift platform.

10. The personnel lift apparatus of claim 9, wherein the electrically driven means is secured to a lower portion of the rails of the lift apparatus.

11. The personnel lift apparatus of claim 10, wherein the drive motor control means comprises an electrical rocker switch secured to one hand hold bar, the rocker switch positioned to be easily operated by the hand of the moveable platform rider, the rocker switch having raise, lower and stop positions, the rocker switch being spring loaded to automatically return to the stop position when released.

12. The personnel lift apparatus of claim 11, further comprising: a safety strap having a first end secured to one of the hand hold bars; a latching receptacle secured to another hand hold bar, the latching receptacle for receiving and latchably locking a second end of the safety strap into the receptacle, wherein the safety strap is restrainably operable to prevent the person riding the personnel lift from accidentally falling from the platform of the personnel lift.

13. The personnel lift apparatus of claim 12, wherein the electric drive motor comprises a 12 volt direct current motor; and wherein the power supply means comprises a 12 volt DC storage battery.

14. Thepersonnel lift apparatus of claim 12, wherein the electric drive motor comprises a 120 volt alternating current motor; and wherein the power supply means comprises a 120 volt alternating current power supply.
Description


FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE

The disclosures made herein relate generally to load bearing lift apparatus, and more particularly to electrically driven lift apparatus for raising or lowering a standing person between two or more elevations, or between a base plane and a raised platform.

BACKGROUND

In performing assigned duties workers often need to move between a base level and one or more elevated platforms. For example, this can be the case on say large earth moving or earth transport equipment or on large machinery used in farming operations. In such cases the equipment is normally provided with a fixed rung ladder or with steps that are climbed by the worker or person to move between various elevations. Ladders of both the fixed and portable types are very common, from ladders to reach an elevated platform of a recreational item such as a deer blind to ladders in chemical and manufacturing plants to move between platforms and walkways at various elevations, or to climb to the top of equipment or towers. Additional examples include a ladder to enable a hunter to reach an elevated platform in a deer blind, or to access elevated positions to perform maintenance work on the outside siding of a home or perform roof repairs.

Workers and others climb and descend ladders frequently in the completion of the tasks of their trade, often while carrying tools and other materials. However, repeatedly climbing and descending ladders throughout the work day can be tiring, even more so for people having bad knees or other temporary or permanent physical handicaps and injuries.

Therefore, a personnel lift apparatus having a movable platform configured to raise or lower a person standing on the lift platform between two or more elevations, a personnel lift that makes repetitive moving between elevations less stressful to the human body and reduces the required effort, a personnel lift that eliminates the need to manually climb ladders, a personnel lift that in certain embodiments can be retrofitted onto a fixed or portable ladder, such a personnel lift apparatus would be useful and novel.

SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE

Accordingly, embodiments of the inventive disclosures made herein comprise a personnel lift apparatus for raising or lowering a standing person between two or more elevations, with embodiments for fixed ladders as well as portable embodiments.

In a various embodiments of the inventive disclosures made herein a personnel lift apparatus for raising or lowering a standing person between two or more elevations generally comprises two elongated upright substantially parallel distally spaced rails. Each rail has a track substantially along the length of the rail. The top end of each of the rails is either supportively resting against, or in cases of fixed ladders secured to, an elevated member such as a platform, tree branch or tree trunk, platform of a deer blind, sidewall of a home, or other elevated supportive member. The plate or other support member, which may be a platform of a recreational item such as a deer blind, a raised walkway in a manufacturing-facility, a leg of a ladder over which the personnel lift is installed or any other number of raised platform-like entities to which a person may need to occasionally climb to or descend from. The track on each rail provides a supportive and retentive guide track for the movable load bearing platform. The movable load bearing lift platform for raising or lowering a person in a standing position on the personnel lift apparatus is provided with a substantially horizontal platform floor sized to supportively receive a standing person onto the platform floor. The movable platform has a rigid back wall secured to the back edge of the platform floor. The back wall is substantially perpendicular to the platform floor and extending above the platform floor so as to guidably retain feet of the standing person on the platform to prevent a foot from sliding over the back side of the platform. Sidewalls are secured to opposing side edges of the platform floor and are secured along a rear portion to opposing side edges of the rigid back wall. The sidewalls together with the back wall form a rigid frame for the structural support of the platform floor. Additionally, the sidewalls guidably retain the feet of the standing person on the platform floor. Each sidewall of the moveable lift platform is provided with a flange, and each flange has two distally spaced holes therethrough. The holes in the flanges are positioned near opposing top and bottom portions of the flange. The flanges are used to secure the movable platform to a roller bracket assembly that rides upon or within the track of each rail. The moveable lift platform includes a pair of roller bracket assemblies secured to opposing side of the lift platform. Each roller bracket assembly comprises an elongated roller bracket frame having two holes for receiving an axle and two holes for receiving an elongated threaded bolt therethrough. The axle holes are located near opposing ends of the roller bracket frame. The axle holes extend through opposing sidewalls of the roller bracket frame. Each roller bracket includes two axles, each axle received into the axle hole discussed above, each axle is sized to extend outwards beyond the sidewalls of the roller bracket frame to have sufficient length to rollably engage a roller wheel at each side of the roller bracket. Each roller bracket includes two pairs of roller wheels, each pair on opposing end of the roller bracket, each roller wheel having a bearing for receiving the axle therethrough, each roller wheel rollably secured to opposing ends of the axle, wherein the roller bracket frame and roller wheels are rollably, moveably received into the track of the rails. A pair of elongated threaded bolts secures the roller bracket to the flange of the lift platform. Each bolt is received into the bolt holes of the flange with each bolt having a threaded portion extending outwards beyond the top face of the roller bracket and continuing to extend outwards beyond the front face of the rail and reaching through the holes in the flanges where they are secured to the flanges by nuts and lock washers, or other, suitable means. This invention is not limited to the use of elongated bolts to secure the roller brackets to the flanges of the lift platform, other means of securing the roller brackets to the lift platforms may be used as would be know to one skilled in the art. With moveable platform secured to the roller bracket as above, the moveable load bearing platform is rollably, supportively and moveably secured to the rails by the roller bracket assemblies, wherein the load bearing platform is free to move along and guided by the track of the rails. The personnel lift platform is driven by an electrical motor drive to accomplish the raising and lowering of the movable platform. The cable sheave and motor may be mounted to the rails of the personnel lift (particularly advantageous in the case of a portable personnel lift), or in the case of a fixed ladder the motor and sheave may be mounted to the underside of an overhead platform. The motor driven means comprises a reversible electric drive motor having an output shaft connected to a gear reducer which transforms the high speed low torque of the motor to low speed high torque needed to raise the personnel lift platform. The output shaft of the gear reducer drives a cable spool sheave. One end of a metallic cable such as steel wire rope cable is connected to and windably received upon the cable spool sheave. The remaining portion of the cable feeds through a pulley located near the top end of the rails and mounted below the elevated platform. From the pulley the cable proceeds down behind the rails to fasten to the cable termination mount secured to the back side of the moveable lift platform. The motor drive winds or unwinds the cable from the spool to raise or lower the moveable platform. The weight of the lift platform and load thereon is transmitted through the cable as tension to cancel the downward force of gravity and support the platform at an elevation along the rails. A substantially upright hand hold bar or opposing hand hold bars (one each side of the platform) are provided having a lower portion secured to one flange of the lift platform. The hand holds providing hand graspable support to a person riding the lift platform so as to stabilize the person on the lift. Mounted to one of the hand hold bar is an electrical drive motor control means, the control means operable by the hand of the person riding the lift platform. The control means has lift platform raise, lower and stop positions for commanding rotation of the motor driven means. A safety belt or strap is provides to prevent the person using the lift from falling off the platform while using the personnel lift. One end of the safety strap is secured to one of the hand hold bars; the opposing end of the safety strap is equipped with a latching device for removably locking into the receptacle on the; opposing hand hold bar. The receptacle is electrically operable to disable operation of the drive motor when the safety belt is not latched in the receptacle and to enable the drive motor control means when the safety belt is latched into the receptacle.

For safety, a brake means engages to prevent the motor driven means from rotating under the weight of the load on the movable platform in the event of a power failure. The brake means releases during commanded operation of the motor driven means then re-engages after the command completes. The brake means is of a fail-safe type, energize to release brake type.

In a second embodiment of the inventive disclosures made herein, the personnel lift apparatus as described in general above is modified such that the track of each rail comprises a cavity along the length of the rail and a slot extending through a front face of the rail, the slot joining with the cavity. The cavity and slot provide a supportive and retentive guide track for the movable load bearing platform. The roller bracket frame and roller wheels are rollably, moveably and retentively received into the above cavity of the rail. The elongated threaded bolts of the roller bracket extend outwards through the slot of the rail and extend through the holes of the flanges of the movable lift platform where they are secured to the flanges, thereby structurally mounting the movable lift platform to the roller bracket assembly to the moveable lift platform.

In a third embodiment of the inventive disclosures made herein, the personnel lift apparatus of the second embodiment is modified to have each rail secured to opposing substantially upright legs of a ladder wherein the personnel lift eliminates the need for a person to climb the ladder.

In a fourth embodiment of the inventive disclosures made herein, the personnel lift apparatus of the third embodiment is modified such that the drive motor control means comprises an electrical rocker switch secured to the hand hold bar of the movable platform. The rocker switch positioned to be easily operated by the hand of the moveable platform rider. The rocker switch provides raise, lower and stop positions and the rocker switch is spring loaded to automatically return to the stop position when released, thereby stopping platform movement.

It is an objective of the inventive disclosures made herein to provide an electric personnel lift which is not anticipated, rendered obvious, suggested, or implied by the known prior art.

It is another objective of the present inventive disclosures to provide a new personnel lift that makes repetitive moving between elevations less stressful to the human body and reduces the required effort by eliminating the need to manually climb ladders.

It is another objective of the present inventive disclosures to provide a new personnel lift that in various embodiments can be retrofitted onto a fixed or portable ladder.

It is another objective of the present inventive disclosures to provide a new personnel lift which can be operated in the absence of or unavailability of utility electric power supply, for instance at remote locations in a field on farm equipment, as well as in remote wooded areas by the use of one or more storage batteries to supply power.

It is another objective of the present inventive disclosures to provide a new electric personnel lift which has improved safety features due to a fail-safe braking means.

It is another objective of the present inventive disclosures to provide a new electric personnel lift which has improved safety features due to a safety strap which must be extended around the back of the rider on the platform and locked into a receptacle on the hand hold bar to permissively enable the drive motor to operate.

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 side view of one embodiment of the personnel lift in accordance with the inventive disclosures herein.

FIG. 1A depicts a side view of an embodiment of a portable personnel lift in accordance with the inventive disclosures herein

FIG. 2 depicts a top sectional view along A-A of FIG. 1 or FIG. 1A of the personnel lift in accordance with the inventive disclosures herein showing the roller wheels and roller bracket riding within the rails and the personnel lift rails secured to a face of a fixed or portable ladder.

FIG. 3 depicts a top sectional view along A-A of FIG. 1 or FIG. 1A of the personnel lift in accordance with the inventive disclosures herein.

FIG. 4 depicts a perspective view of the roller bracket and roller wheels of one embodiment of the personnel lift in accordance with the inventive disclosures herein.

FIG. 5 depicts an enlargement of the lift platform and roller assemblies of the personnel lift of FIG. 1 or FIG. 1A.

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 together with FIG. 5

FIG. 1 depicts a right side view of one embodiment of the personnel lift in accordance with the inventive disclosures herein. FIG. 5 depicts a right side view enlargement of the lift platform and roller assembly of the personnel lift of FIG. 1. One of two elongated upright substantially parallel distally spaced rails 2 is depicted as attached to a front face of fixed ladder 3, the fixed ladder 3 and spaced rails of the personnel lift reaching from a base elevation to the elevated platform 4. An electrically motor driven means of raising and lowering the movable platform, in the depicted case an electric winch 5 is secured to a bottom surface of the elevated platform 4. The movable load bearing lift platform 5 for raising or lowering a person in a standing position on the personnel lift apparatus has a substantially horizontal platform floor 6 sized for supportively receiving a standing person onto the platform floor. The rigid back wall 7 of the platform has a cable clamp 8 secured to the back wall in a mid portion of the back wall. The back wall 7 secured to a back edge of the platform floor 6, the back wall extending above the platform floor so as to guidably retain feet of the standing person on the platform. A pair of sidewalls 9, of which only one is illustrated, are secured to opposing side edges of the platform floor 6. The sidewalls are secured along a rear portion to opposing side edges of the rigid back wall 7 such that the sidewalls and back wall forming a rigid flame for providing structural support to the platform floor while the sidewalls guidably retain the feet of the standing person on the platform floor. A pair of flanges 10 each has two distally spaced holes therethrough, the holes positioned near opposing top and bottom portions of the flange 10. Each flange secured to an outside face of the opposing sidewalls 9, wherein each sidewall has only one flange secured thereto.

A pair of roller bracket assemblies, one per rail, comprise an elongated roller bracket frame 11 having two pairs of roller wheels 12, each pair rollably secured to opposing ends of the roller bracket frame 11 such that the roller bracket frame and roller wheels are free to move along the track of the rail 2. Each rail has a cavity 13 substantially along length of the rail and a slot extending through a front face of the rail, the slot joining with the cavity, the cavity and slot providing a supportive and retentive guide track for a movable load bearing platform.

Each side of the personnel lift platform has a substantially upright hand hold bar 15 having a lower portion secured to one flange 10 of the lift platform, the hand hold 15 providing hand support to a person riding the lift platform so as to stabilize the rider on the platform. An electrical rocker switch 16 is secured at the top of one of the hand hold bars 15, preferably the right hand hold bar. The rocker switch is positioned to be easily operated by the hand of the moveable platform rider. The rocker switch has raise, lower and stop positions on the rocker switch and is of the spring loaded type to automatically return to the stop position when finger grasp is released. Mounted to the hand hold bar 15 below the rocker switch 16 is a belt receptable 30 for latchably receiving a releasable end of a safety belt therein. The opposing end of the safety belt is secured to the hand hold bar 15 on the opposing side of the lift platform from the side having the rocker switch 16. The safety belt is adapted to be secured around the back of a person riding the platform 6 so as to prevent the rider from falling off the platform 6. The winch 5 and rocker switch 16 are disabled until the safety belt is secured into the belt receptacle 30, preventing the personnel lift from being operated until the safety strap is secured.

The wire rope cable 18 from the cable spool on the winch 5 routes over a cable pulley 17 secured to the underside of the elevated platform 4. The cable from the pulley routes down between the rails 2 to mount to the rigid back wall 7 of the movable lift platform 5 by cable termination mount 8, wherein the winch is operated by the rocker switch to windably retract the cable and raise the platform, or to unwind the cable and lower the platform.

Turning now to FIG. 1A together with FIG. 5 presenting a variation of the embodiment presented in FIG. 1 being adapted for use as a portable personnel lift.

FIG. 1A depicts a right side view of the portable embodiment of the personnel lift in accordance with the inventive disclosures herein.

One of two elongated upright substantially parallel distally spaced rails 2 is depicted, the spaced rails of the personnel lift reaching from a base elevation to the elevated platform, for example a deer blind. An electrically motor driven means of raising and lowering the movable platform, in the depicted case an electric winch 5 is secured to a cross member or plate 31 which mounts and bridges between the rails 2. The movable load bearing lift platform 5 for raising or lowering a person in a standing position on the personnel lift apparatus has a substantially horizontal platform floor 6 sized for supportively receiving a standing person onto the platform floor. The rigid back wall 7 of the platform has a cable clamp 8 secured to the back wall in a mid portion of the back wall. The back wall 7 secured to a back edge of the platform floor 6, the back wall extending above the platform floor so as to guidably retain feet of the standing person on the platform. A pair of sidewalls 9, of which only one is illustrated, are secured to opposing side edges of the platform floor 6. The sidewalls are secured along a rear portion to opposing side edges of the rigid back wall 7 such that the sidewalls and back wall forming a rigid frame for providing structural support to the platform floor while the sidewalls guidably retain the feet of the standing person on the platform floor. A pair of flanges 10 each has two distally spaced holes therethrough, the holes positioned near opposing top and bottom portions of the flange 10. Each flange secured to an outside face of the opposing sidewalls 9, wherein each sidewall has only one flange secured thereto.

A pair of roller bracket assemblies, one per rail, comprise an elongated roller bracket frame 11 having two pairs of roller wheels 12, each pair rollably secured to opposing ends of the roller bracket frame 11 such that the roller bracket frame and roller wheels are free to move along the track of the rail 2. Each rail has a cavity 13 substantially along length of the rail and a slot extending through a front face of the rail, the slot joining with the cavity, the cavity and slot providing a supportive and retentive guide track for a movable load bearing platform. In certain embodiments the rails 2 may by attached to the legs 3 of a ladder as illustrated in FIG. 1 and FIG. 5. In other embodiments, such as the illustrated embodiment in FIG 1A, the personnel lift may be used alone to raise and lower a person on the platform 5 without having or securing the rails 2 to a ladder.

Each side of the personnel lift platform has a substantially upright hand hold bar 15 having a lower portion secured to one flange 10 of the lift platform, the hand hold 15 providing hand support to a person riding the lift platform so as to stabilize the rider on the platform. An electrical rocker switch 16 is secured at the top of one of the hand hold bars 15, preferably the right hand hold bar. The rocker switch is positioned to be easily operated by the hand of the moveable platform rider. The rocker switch has raise, lower and stop positions on the rocker switch and is of the spring loaded type to automatically return to the stop position when finger grasp is released. Mounted to the hand hold bar 15 below the rocker switch 16 is a belt receptable 30 for latchably receiving a releasable end of a safety belt therein. The opposing end of the safety belt is secured to the hand hold bar 15 on the opposing side of the lift platform from the side having the rocker switch 16. The safety belt is adapted to be secured around the back of a person riding the platform 6 so as to prevent the rider from falling off the platform 6. The winch 5 and rocker switch 16 are disabled until the safety belt is secured into the belt receptacle 30, preventing the personnel lift from being operated until the safety strap is secured.

The wire rope cable 18 from the cable spool on the winch 5 routes from the winch 5 up between the rails 2 to a pulley 32 secured to an upper portion of the personnel lift between the rails 13. The cable from the pulley 32 routes down between the rails 2 to mount to the rigid back wall 7 of the movable lift platform 5 by cable termination mount 8, wherein the winch is operated by the rocker switch to windably retract the cable and raise the platform, or to unwind the cable and lower the platform.

FIG. 2 depicts a top sectional view along A-A of FIG. 1 or FIG. 1A of the personnel lift in accordance with the inventive disclosures herein showing the roller wheels 12 of the roller bracket 11 riding moveably and retentively riding within the substantially upright side rail 2. In this embodiment, the side rail is secured to the front face of the leg 19 of an existing fixed ladder by straps 21, wherein the personnel lift apparatus eliminates the need to climb steps or the ladder to reach an elevated platform. Roller wheels 12 are free to roll on axle 20. Axle 20 rollably secures the roller wheels 12 to the roller bracket frame 11.

FIG. 3 depicts a top sectional view along A-A of FIG. 1 or FIG. 1A of the personnel lift in accordance with the inventive disclosures herein. In this view both side rails are shown together with the movable platform of the personnel lift. Roller wheels 12 on roller bracket frames 11 are free to roll while retained within the cavity of the side rails 2. Two bolts 14 extend outwards from the roller bracket frame 11 and through holes in the flanges 10 of the moveable personnel lift platform 5. Threaded nuts 21 secure the flanges 10 and lift platform 5 to the roller bracket frames 11. The rigid back wall 7 of the lift platform is provided with a cable termination mount 8 to which the steel wire rope cable of the winch is secured. The flanges 10 are secured to outside surfaces of the platform side walls 9. The substantially horizontal platform floor 6 is secured to the rigid back wall 7 and the side walls 9. The substantially upright hand hold bar 15 has a lower portion secured to the right flange 10 of the lift platform by the bolts 14 securing the flange 10 to the roller bracket frame.

FIG. 4 depicts a perspective view of the roller bracket and roller wheels of one embodiment of the personnel lift in accordance with the inventive disclosures herein. The roller bracket and wheels are depicted outside of the rail. Roller bracket 11 has two pairs of roller wheels, one pair of roller wheels 12 is rollably secured near opposing ends of the roller bracket 11. Thread bolts 14 extend outwards from the roller bracket 11 to eventually engage with the flanges of the lift platform.

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, electrical 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 please go to WWW.GAPATENTS.COM or WWW.GOOGLE.COM.