Wednesday, November 25, 2009

United States Patent 7,621,306
WWW.USPTO.GOV
Settles
November 24, 2009

Laundry machine door window cover

Abstract

A laundry machine door window cover comprises a window cover body, a contiguous length of resilient material, a plurality of magnets and indicia. The window cover body has a central portion and a perimeter portion attached to central portion. The central portion is made from material that is non-transparent. The contiguous length of resilient material is secured lengthwise to the perimeter portion of the window cover body. The magnets are secured in spaced-apart relationship on the perimeter portion of the window cover body. The indicia provided on at least one side of the central portion of the window cover body.
Inventors: Settles; Jeremiah Marcus (Forreston, IL)
Appl. No.: 11/388,123
Filed: March 23, 2006
Related U.S. Patent Documents

Application Number Filing Date Patent Number Issue Date
60665511 Mar., 2005

Current U.S. Class: 150/165 ; 150/154; 68/196
Current International Class: B65D 65/02 (20060101)
Field of Search: 150/154,165,157 68/13R,196
References Cited [Referenced By]
U.S. Patent Documents

3279515 October 1966 Kesh
5117807 June 1992 Graulich
5353781 October 1994 Calvillo
5497819 March 1996 Chiang
5908681 June 1999 Foster
6457334 October 2002 Harker et al.
D480253 October 2003 Raines
Primary Examiner: Mai; Tri M
Attorney, Agent or Firm: Galasso; Raymond M. Simmons; David O. Galasso & Associates, L.P.
WWW.GAPATENTS.COM

Parent Case Text


CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This patent application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application having Ser. No. 60/665,511 filed Mar. 25, 2005 entitled "Launderer", having a common applicant herewith and being incorporated herein in its entirety by reference.
Claims


What is claimed is:

1. A laundry machine door window cover, comprising: a window cover body having a non-transparent central portion and a perimeter portion attached to the central portion, wherein: the perimeter portion defines an opening encompassed by an interior edge of the perimeter portion; the interior edge of the perimeter portion includes a sewn-in passage; and a doorframe-receiving pocket is provided between the non-transparent central portion of the window cover body and the interior edge of the perimeter portion of the window cover body; and a securing structure engaged with the perimeter portion of the window cover body, wherein the securing structure includes: a length of resilient material and a plurality of magnets; the length of resilient material secured lengthwise to the perimeter portion of the window cover body, wherein: the length of resilient material is positioned immediately adjacent the interior edge of the perimeter portion; and the length of resilient material is a contiguous length of resilient material extending essentially along an entire length of the interior edge of the perimeter portion, wherein the contiguous length of resilient material is located within the sewn-in passage; and the magnets each secured in spaced-apart relationship on the perimeter portion of the window cover body, wherein: said magnets are positioned between the length of resilient material and the non-transparent central portion of the window cover body; and said magnets are each secured in spaced-apart relationship to an exterior surface of the perimeter portion of the window cover body adjacent the sewn-in passage.

2. A laundry machine door window cover, comprising: a window cover body having a central portion and a perimeter portion fully encompassing the central portion, wherein: the central portion is made from material that is non-transparent; the perimeter portion defines an opening encompassed by an interior edge of the perimeter portion; the interior edge of the perimeter portion includes a sewn-in passage; and a doorframe-receiving pocket is provided between the non-transparent central portion of the window cover body and the interior edge of the perimeter portion of the window cover body; and a securing structure engaged with the perimeter portion of the window cover body, wherein the securing structure includes: a length of resilient material and a plurality of magnets; the length of resilient material secured lengthwise to the perimeter portion of the window cover body, wherein: the length of resilient material is positioned immediately adjacent the interior edge of the perimeter portion; and the length of resilient material is a contiguous length of resilient material extending essentially along an entire length of the interior edge of the perimeter portion, wherein the contiguous length of resilient material is located within the sewn-in passage; and the magnets each secured in spaced-apart relationship on the perimeter portion of the window cover body, wherein: said magnets are positioned between the length of resilient material and the non-transparent central portion of the window cover body; and said magnets are each secured in spaced-apart relationship to an exterior surface of the perimeter portion of the window cover body adjacent the sewn-in passage; and indicia provided on at least one side of the central portion of the window cover body.

3. A laundry machine door window cover, comprising: a window cover body having a central portion and a perimeter portion attached to the central portion, wherein: the central portion is made from material that is non-transparent; the perimeter portion defines an opening encompassed by an interior edge of the perimeter portion; the interior edge of the perimeter portion includes a sewn-in passage; and a doorframe-receiving pocket is provided between the non-transparent central portion of the window cover body and the interior edge of the perimeter portion of the window cover body; and a contiguous length of resilient material secured lengthwise to the perimeter portion of the window cover body, wherein: the contiguous length of resilient material is positioned immediately adjacent the interior edge of the perimeter portion; and the contiguous length of resilient material is located within the sewn-in passage; and a plurality of magnets each secured in spaced-apart relationship on the perimeter portion of the window cover body, wherein: said magnets are positioned between the length of resilient material and the non-transparent central portion of the window cover body; said magnets are positioned between the contiguous length of resilient material and the non-transparent central portion of the window cover body; and said magnets are each secured in-spaced-apart relationship to an exterior surface of the perimeter portion of the window cover body adjacent the sewn-in passage; and indicia provided on at least one side of the central portion of the window cover body.
Description


FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE

The disclosures made herein relate generally to laundry washing and drying machines and, more particularly, to accessory items configured for being attached to a door of laundry washing and/or drying machines.

BACKGROUND

It is well known that clothes must be washed from time to time. To this end, a washing machine is generally used for washing clothes and a dryer is generally used for drying clothes. A washer and a dryer are both referred to herein as a laundry machine. Similarly, washing and/or drying clothes are examples of laundering clothes.

In many situations, not everyone has the convenience of having a washer and/or dryer in their living quarters (e.g., home, apartment, condo, etc). In such situations, a person may launder their clothes in a communal laundry room in an apartment complex, condominium complex, dormitory, etc. In other such situations, a person may launder their clothes at a clothes-washing facility commonly known as a laundromat, which is a business that provides access to laundry machines for a fee on a per-load basis.

Unfortunately, communal laundry rooms and laundromats are known as being locations where clothes are stolen or otherwise tampered with. As most commercial laundry machines have a window in the door thereof, a person can see another person's laundry, as it is being washed or dried. The ability to see a person's clothes through the window of a laundry machine allows desirable types and/or brands of clothes to be readily observed by others. Unscrupulous persons have been known to identify a load of clothes of another person that includes desirable types and/or brands of clothes and stealing such clothes, if the opportunity to do so presents itself. For example, a college student may leave the laundry room to tend to other obligations while their clothes are washing. During such time, another person may steal all or a portion of their clothes while they are being laundered in a laundry machine or after they have been laundered while they sit in the laundry machine after they have finished being laundered.

Therefore; an apparatus configured for preventing a person from seeing a load of clothes through a laundry machine door window would be advantageous, desirable and useful.

SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE

The present invention relates to an article configured for precluding a load of clothes in a laundry machine from being readily viewed through a door window of the laundry machine. Embodiments of a laundry machine door window cover in accordance with the present invention are configured for being attached to a laundry machine door over the door window such that the laundry machine door window cover limits visibility through the door window. Accordingly, a laundry machine door window cover in accordance with the present invention serves to reduce the potential for tampering with and/or stealing clothes from within a laundry machine.

In one embodiment of the present. invention, a laundry machine door window cover comprises a window cover body, and a securing structure. The window cover body has a non-transparent central portion and a perimeter portion at least partially encompassing the non-transparent central portion. The securing structure is engaged with the perimeter portion of the window cover body. The securing structure includes at least one of a length of resilient material and a plurality of magnets.

In another embodiment of the present invention, a laundry machine door window cover comprises a window cover body, a securing structure and indicia. The window cover body has a central portion and a perimeter portion fully encompassing the central portion. The central portion is made from material that is non-transparent. The securing structure is engaged with the perimeter portion of the window cover body. The securing structure includes at least one of a length of resilient material and a plurality of magnets. The indicia are provided on at least one side of the central portion of the window cover body.

In another embodiment of the present invention, a laundry machine door window cover comprises a window cover body, a contiguous length of resilient material, a plurality of magnets and indicia. The window cover body has a central portion and a perimeter portion attached to central portion. The central portion is made from material that is non-transparent. The contiguous length of resilient material is secured lengthwise to the perimeter portion of the Window cover body. The magnets are secured in spaced-apart relationship on the perimeter portion of the window cover body. The indicia provided on at least one side of the central portion of the window cover body.

Turning now to specific aspects of the present invention, in at least. one embodiment, the securing structure includes the length of resilient material secured lengthwise to the perimeter portion of the window cover body and the magnets each secured in spaced-apart relationship on the perimeter portion of the window cover body.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, the perimeter portion defines an opening encompassed by an interior edge of the perimeter portion, a doorframe receiving pocket is provided between the non-transparent central portion of the window cover body and the interior edge of the perimeter portion of the window cover body, the length of resilient material is positioned immediately adjacent the interior edge of the perimeter portion, and the magnets are positioned between the length of resilient material and the non-transparent central portion of the window cover body.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, the length of resilient material is a contiguous length of resilient material extending essentially along an entire length of the interior edge of the perimeter portion.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, the interior edge of the perimeter portion includes a sewn-in passage, the contiguous length of resilient material is located within the sewn-in passage and the magnets are each secured in spaced-apart relationship to an exterior surface of the perimeter portion of the window cover body adjacent the sewn-in passage.

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

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a partially fragmented perspective view showing an embodiment of a laundry machine door window cover in accordance with the present invention as installed on a door of a prior art laundry machine.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view showing a rear portion of the laundry machine door window cover shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view taken along the line 3-3 in FIG. 2.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIGURES

FIG. 1 depicts an embodiment of a laundry machine door window cover in accordance with the present invention, which is referred to herein as the laundry machine door window cover 10. The laundry machine door window cover 10 is mountable on a door 12 of a laundry machine 14. The laundry machine door window cover 10 precludes a load of clothes in the laundry machine 14 from being readily viewed through a door window 16 of the laundry machinel4. More specifically, the laundry machine door window cover 10 is configured for being attached to the laundry machine door 12 over the door window 16 such that the laundry machine door window cover 10 limits visibility through the door window 16. Accordingly, the laundry machine door window cover 10 serves to reduce the potential for tampering with and/or stealing clothes from within the laundry machine 14.

Referring now to FIGS. 1-3, the laundry machine door window cover 10 includes a window cover body 18, a length of resilient material 20 (e.g., elastic stretch material) and a plurality of magnets 22. The window cover body 18 has a central portion 24 and a perimeter portion 26 attached to central portion 24. The central portion 24 is made from material that is non-transparent. Examples of known terms that represent non-transparent include translucent and opaque. Functionally, material that is non-transparent is defined herein to be material that cannot be seen through clearly, cannot be seen through fully, cannot be seen through without distortion and/or cannot be seen through at all. In general, a material that is referred to herein as being non-transparent will limit visibility through a door window of a laundry machine when placed in front of the door window.

The perimeter portion 26 defines an opening 28 encompassed by an interior edge 30 of the perimeter portion 26. A doorframe-receiving pocket 31 (FIG. 3) is provided between the central portion 24 of the window cover body 18 and the interior edge 30 of the perimeter portion 26 of the window cover body 18. In one embodiment, as depicted in FIG. 3, the length of resilient material 20 is positioned immediately adjacent the interior edge 30 of the perimeter portion 26 and the magnets 22 are positioned between the length of resilient material 20 and a perimeter edge 32 (FIGS. 2 and 3) of the central portion 26 of the window cover body 18. Alternatively, the plurality of magnets are positioned immediately adjacent the interior edge 30 of the perimeter portion 26 and the length of resilient material 20 is positioned between the plurality of magnets 22 and the perimeter edge 32 (FIGS. 2 and 3) of the central portion 26 of the window cover body 18.

The length of resilient material 20 enables the laundry machine door window cover 10 to be fitted over an outer edge 33 of the laundry machine door 12 and/or over an edge of a door window trim bezel (not specifically shown) of the laundry machine door 12. The magnets 22 enable the laundry machine door window cover 10 to be magnetically attached to a front surface 34 of the laundry machine door 12. Accordingly, the combined use of the length of resilient material 20 and the magnets 22 enhance versatility of the laundry machine door window cover 10 by allowing it to be attached to laundry machine doors of various sizes, shapes, designs and materials.

In a specific embodiment, as depicted in FIGS. 2 and 3, the interior edge 30 of the perimeter portion 26 includes a sewn-in passage 35. The length of resilient material 20 is located within the sewn-in passage 35, the magnets 22 are each secured in spaced-apart relationship to an exterior surface 36 of the perimeter portion 26 of the window cover body 18 adjacent the sewn-in passage 35 and the length of resilient material extends generally and contiguously lengthwise with respect to the perimeter portion 26 of the window cover body 18. It is disclosed herein, that in other embodiments, a contiguous length of resilient material or a plurality of discrete lengths of resilient material may be sewn onto or otherwise attached directly to material the perimeter portion 26, as opposed to being within the sewn-in passage 35. It is also disclosed herein, that in other embodiments, the laundry machine door window cover 10 includes a plurality of discrete lengths of resilient material that each extends generally lengthwise with respect to the perimeter portion 26 of the window cover body 18.

Preferably, but not necessarily, indicia 38 are provided on at least one side of the central portion of the window cover body. In one embodiment, the indicia 38 are provided directly on the material from which the central portion 24 of the laundry machine door window cover 10 is made. In another embodiment, the indicia are provided on a panel of material that is removably attachable to the central portion 24 of the laundry machine door window cover 10. An advantage of the panel configuration is that a plurality of different panels, each with different indicia, may be selectively attached to the central portion 24 of the laundry machine door window cover 10.

In the preceding detailed description, reference has been made to the accompanying drawings that form a part hereof, and in which are shown by way of illustration specific embodiments in which the present invention may be practiced. These embodiments, and certain variants thereof, have been described in sufficient detail to enable those skilled in the art to practice embodiments of the present invention. It is to be understood that other suitable embodiments may be utilized and that logical, mechanical, chemical and electrical changes may be made without departing from the spirit or scope of such inventive disclosures. To avoid unnecessary detail, the description omits certain information known to those skilled in the art. The preceding detailed description is, therefore, not intended to be limited to the specific forms set forth herein, but on the contrary, it is intended to cover such alternatives, modifications, and equivalents, as can be reasonably included within the spirit and scope of the appended claims. For more information go to WWW.GAPATENTS.COM or WWW.GOOGLE.COM.

Monday, November 23, 2009

United States Patent 7,315,089
WWW.USPTO.GOV
Lambertson
January 1, 2008

Powertrain system comprising compressed air engine and method comprising same

Abstract

A powertrain system comprises a compressed air supply apparatus, a compressed air engine, a rotary power conversion apparatus and an electrical power conversion apparatus. The compressed air engine is configured for extracting energy from compressed air. The compressed air engine receives compressed air from the compressed air supply apparatus and produces rotary power through extraction of energy from the compressed air. The rotary power conversion apparatus is connected to the compressed air engine and is configured for converting the rotary power of the compressed air engine to electrical power of a first specification. The electrical power conversion apparatus is connected to the rotary power conversion apparatus and is configured for converting the first specification electrical power to electrical power of a second specification different than the first specification.
Inventors: Lambertson; Michael Carl (Westover, MD)
Appl. No.: 11/360,777
Filed: February 23, 2006

Current U.S. Class: 290/1A ; 180/302; 290/4D; 290/45
Current International Class: B60K 3/00 (20060101)
Field of Search: 290/1R,1A,4R,4D,40C,52 180/54.1,302
References Cited [Referenced By]
U.S. Patent Documents

774778 November 1904 Pratt
3693351 September 1972 Minkus
3765180 October 1973 Brown
3925984 December 1975 Holleyman
3980152 September 1976 Manor
4014172 March 1977 Jones
4018050 April 1977 Murphy
4060987 December 1977 Fisch et al.
4104955 August 1978 Murphy
4124978 November 1978 Wagner
4163367 August 1979 Yeh
4337842 July 1982 Spangler et al.
4355508 October 1982 Blenke et al.
4370857 February 1983 Miller
5296799 March 1994 Davis
5432383 July 1995 Kawamura
6044924 April 2000 Adli
6198174 March 2001 Nims et al.
6294842 September 2001 Skowronski
6367247 April 2002 Yancey
6508324 January 2003 Conley
6629573 October 2003 Perry
6862973 August 2005 Rehkemper et al.
Primary Examiner: Ponomarenko; Nicholas
Attorney, Agent or Firm: Galasso; Raymond M. Simmons; David O. Galasso & Associates, LP
WWW.GAPATENTS.COM

Claims


What is claimed is:

1. A powertrain system, comprising: a compressed air supply apparatus; a compressed air engine configured for extracting energy from compressed air, wherein the compressed air engine receives said compressed air from the compressed air supply apparatus and wherein said extracting produces rotary power; a rotary power conversion apparatus connected to the compressed air engine, wherein the rotary power conversion apparatus is configured for converting said rotary power of the compressed air engine to electrical power of a first specification; and an electrical power conversion apparatus connected to the rotary power conversion apparatus, wherein the electrical power conversion apparatus is configured for converting said first specification electrical power to electrical power of a second specification different than the first specification.

2. The powertrain system of claim 1 wherein: the rotary power conversion apparatus includes an input-output coupling device and two direct current (DC) electrical power generating devices; the input-output coupling device of the rotary power conversion apparatus is connected between the compressed air engine and each one of said DC electrical power generating devices for enabling transfer of rotary power from the compressed air engine to each one of said DC electrical power generating devices; and each one of said DC electrical power generation devices are electrically connected to the electrical power conversion apparatus for providing DC electrical power to the electrical power conversion apparatus.

3. The powertrain system of claim 2 wherein: the electrical power conversion apparatus includes two DC-to-alternating current (AC) inverters, an AC electric motor, an input-output coupling device and an electrical power generating device; each one of said DC electrical power generating devices of the rotary power conversion apparatus is connected to a respective one of said DC-to-AC inverters such that each one of said DC-to-AC inverters converts DC electrical power supplied thereto to AC electrical power; a first one of said DC-to-AC inverters is electrically connected to the compressed air supply apparatus; a second one of said DC-to-AC inverters is electrically connected to the AC electric motor; and the input-output coupling device of the electrical power conversion apparatus is connected between the AC electric motor and the electrical power generating device of the electrical power conversion apparatus for transferring rotary power from the AC electric motor to the electrical power generating device of the electrical power conversion apparatus.

4. The powertrain system of claim 3, further comprising: a power distribution apparatus electrically connected to the electrical power generating device of the electrical power conversion apparatus, wherein the power distribution apparatus receives electrical power from the electrical power generating device of the electrical power conversion apparatus and wherein the power distribution apparatus is configured for selectively outputting electrical power through a plurality of power outlet portions thereof.

5. The powertrain system of claim 4, further comprising: an acceleration module electrically connected to the power distribution apparatus for enabling a stored electrical charge of the acceleration module to be selectively outputted through at least one of said power outlet portions of the power distribution apparatus, wherein the acceleration module is configured for receiving an electrical power from the power distribution apparatus for maintaining and replenishing the stored electrical charge.

6. The powertrain system of claim 5, further comprising: a battery apparatus including a battery and a power controller electrically connected to the battery, wherein the power controller is electrically connected to the compressed air supply apparatus for supplying electrical power thereto, wherein electrical power from the battery is selectively supplied to the compressed air supply apparatus by the power controller of the battery apparatus when the compressed air engine is inactive and wherein electrical power is selectively supplied from the power distribution apparatus to the power controller of the battery apparatus for enabling the battery to be recharged.

7. The powertrain system of claim 6, further comprising: a solar panel electrically connected to the power controller of the battery apparatus for supplying solar-generated electrical power to the power controller of the battery apparatus thereby enabling the solar panel to recharge the battery.

8. The powertrain system of claim 7, further comprising: a wind-driven electrical power generator electrically connected to the power distribution apparatus for enabling electrical power generated by the wind-driven electrical power generator to be selectively outputted by the power distribution apparatus.
Description


FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE

The disclosures made herein relate generally to powertrain systems comprising a compressed air engine and, more particularly, to powertrain systems having a compressed air engine coupled to an electrical power conversion apparatus that is coupled to a power transmission apparatus.

BACKGROUND

Vehicle powertrain systems that rely entirely on petroleum-based fuel are used throughout the world. They are used in nearly all, if not all, makes, models and types of cars, vans and trucks. From a quantitative perspective, vehicles having these types of vehicle powertrain systems outweigh those with electric and/or hybrid powertrain systems by several magnitudes of order.

It is well known that powertrain systems that rely entirely on petroleum-based fuel are detrimental to the global environment. They are also detrimental to an economy of a country that is highly dependent on imported crude oil as well as its national security. These three adverse considerations make powertrain systems that rely entirely on petroleum-based fuel highly undesirable with respect to the global environment as well as to a country where such powertrain systems are operated.

Therefore, a vehicle powertrain system that does not consume petroleum-based fuel and that produces power from solar energy and regenerative types of power generation techniques would be useful and advantageous.

SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE

In one embodiment of the present invention, a powertrain system comprises a compressed air supply apparatus, a compressed air engine, a rotary power conversion apparatus and an electrical power conversion apparatus. The compressed air engine is configured for extracting energy from compressed air. The compressed air engine receives compressed air from the compressed air supply apparatus and produces rotary power through extraction of energy from the compressed air. The rotary power conversion apparatus is connected to the compressed air engine and is configured for converting the rotary power of the compressed air engine to electrical power of a first specification. The electrical power conversion apparatus is connected to the rotary power conversion apparatus and is configured for converting the first specification electrical power to electrical power of a second specification different than the first specification.

In another embodiment of the present invention, a vehicle comprises a compressed air supply apparatus, a compressed air engine, a rotary power conversion apparatus, an electrical power conversion apparatus, a power distribution apparatus, a power transmission apparatus and an output power control mechanism. The compressed air supply apparatus includes a compressed air storage tank and an air compressor connected to the compressed air tank for supplying compressed air to the compressed air storage tank. The compressed air engine is connected to the compressed air storage tank for receiving compressed air from the compressed air storage tank and is configured for extracting energy from the compressed air. The compressed air engine produces rotary power through extraction of energy from the compressed air. The rotary power conversion apparatus is connected to the compressed air engine and includes an input-output coupling device and two direct current (DC) electrical power generating devices. The input-output coupling device of the rotary power conversion apparatus is connected between the compressed air engine and each one of the DC electrical power generating devices for enabling transfer of rotary power from the compressed air engine to each one of the DC electrical power generating devices. The electrical power conversion apparatus includes two DC-to-alternating current (AC) inverters, an AC electric motor, an input-output coupling device and an electrical power generating device. Each one of the DC electrical power generating devices of the rotary power conversion apparatus is connected to a respective one of the DC-to-AC inverters for supplying DC electrical power to the respective one of the DC-to-AC inverters such that each one of the DC-to-AC inverters converts the DC electrical power supplied thereto to AC electrical power. A first one of the DC-to-AC inverters is electrically connected to the compressed air supply apparatus and a second one of the DC-to-AC inverters is electrically connected to the AC electric motor. The input-output coupling device of the electrical power conversion apparatus is connected between the AC electric motor and the electrical power generating device of the electrical power conversion apparatus for transferring rotary power from the AC electric motor to the electrical power generating device of the electrical power conversion apparatus. The power distribution apparatus is electrically connected to the electrical power generating device of the electrical power conversion apparatus. The power distribution apparatus receives electrical power from the electrical power generating device of the electrical power conversion apparatus. The power distribution apparatus is configured for selectively outputting electrical power through a plurality of power outlet portions thereof. The power transmission apparatus is connected to a power outlet portion of the power distribution apparatus. The output power control mechanism is connected between the power transmission apparatus and the power outlet portion connected to the power transmission apparatus. The output power control mechanism enables an amount of power outputted by the power transmission apparatus to be selectively varied.

In another embodiment of the present invention, a method comprises a plurality of operations. An operation is performed for extracting energy from compressed air for producing rotary power. An operation is performed for converting the rotary power to electrical power of a first specification. Converting the rotary power includes transferring the rotary power from the compressed air engine to an input portion of a direct current (DC) electrical power generating device such that DC electrical power is supplied at an output portion of the DC electrical power generating device. An operation is performed for converting the first specification electrical power to electrical power of a second specification different than the first specification. Converting the first specification electrical power includes inverting the DC electrical power to alternating current (AC) electrical power, driving an AC motor using the AC electrical power and transferring rotary power of the AC motor to a DC generator such that DC electrical power is supplied at an output portion of the DC generator.

Turning now to specific aspects of the present invention, in at least one embodiment, the rotary power conversion apparatus includes an input-output coupling device and two direct current (DC) electrical power generating devices.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, the input-output coupling device of the rotary power conversion apparatus is connected between the compressed air engine and each one of the DC electrical power generating devices of the rotary power conversion apparatus for enabling transfer of rotary power from the compressed air engine to each one of the DC electrical power generating devices of the rotary power conversion apparatus.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, each one of the DC electrical power generation devices of the rotary power conversion apparatus are electrically connected to the electrical power conversion apparatus for providing DC electrical power from the DC electrical power generating apparatuses of the rotary power conversion apparatus to the electrical power conversion apparatus.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, the electrical power conversion apparatus includes two DC-to-alternating current (AC) inverters, an AC electric motor, an input-output coupling device and an electrical power generating device.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, each one of the DC electrical power generating devices of the rotary power conversion apparatus is connected to a respective one of the DC-to-AC inverters such that each one of the DC-to-AC inverters converts DC electrical power supplied thereto to AC electrical power.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, a first one of the DC-to-AC inverters is electrically connected to the compressed air supply apparatus and a second one of the DC-to-AC inverters is electrically connected to the AC electric motor.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, the input-output coupling device of the electrical power conversion apparatus is connected between the AC electric motor and the electrical power generating device of the electrical power conversion apparatus for transferring rotary power from the AC electric motor to the electrical power generating device of the electrical power conversion apparatus.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, a power distribution apparatus is electrically connected to the electrical power generating device of the electrical power conversion apparatus.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, the power distribution apparatus receives electrical power from the electrical power generating device of the electrical power conversion apparatus and the power distribution apparatus is configured for selectively outputting electrical power through a plurality of power outlet portions thereof.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, an acceleration module is electrically connected to the power distribution apparatus for enabling a stored electrical charge of the acceleration module to be selectively outputted through at least one of the power outlet portions of the power distribution apparatus.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, a power controller of a battery apparatus is electrically connected to the compressed air supply apparatus for supplying electrical power to the compressed air supply apparatus.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, electrical power from a battery of the battery apparatus is selectively supplied to the compressed air supply apparatus by the power controller of the battery apparatus when the compressed air engine is inactive.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, electrical power is selectively supplied from the power distribution apparatus to the power controller of the battery apparatus for enabling the battery to be recharged.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, a solar panel is electrically connected to the power controller of the battery apparatus for supplying solar-generated electrical power to the power controller of the battery apparatus thereby enabling the solar panel to recharge the battery.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, a wind-driven electrical power generator is electrically connected to the power distribution apparatus for enabling electrical power generated by the wind-driven electrical power generator to be selectively outputted by the power distribution apparatus.

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

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a block diagram view showing a powertrain system in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a diagrammatic view showing an embodiment of a vehicle comprising a specific implementation of a powertrain system in accordance with the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIGURES

FIG. 1 shows a powertrain system in accordance with the present invention, which is referred to herein as the powertrain system 100. As is discussed below in greater detail, the powertrain system 100 and, generally, powertrain systems in accordance with the present invention includes a plurality of interconnected components that facilitate extraction of energy from compressed air, conversion of that energy to mechanical energy, conversion of that mechanical energy to electrical power. The interconnected components further facilitate selective and variable output of such electrical power, creation of wind-generated electrical power and input of energy from external energy sources. Electrical power is defined herein to include power generated by electrical voltage and/or electrical current.

Referring now specifically to FIG. 1, a compressed air supply apparatus 105 is connected to a compressed air engine 110 in a manner enabling compressed air to be supplied to the compressed air engine 110 from the compressed air supply apparatus 105. The compressed air supply apparatus 105 perform the functions of generating compressed air, storing compressed air and regulating/converting electrical power utilized for generating compressed air. The compressed air engine 110 extracts energy from the compressed air and produces rotary power (i.e., power delivered via an output shaft). Compressed air engines and compressed air supply apparatuses are well-known and the present invention is not unnecessarily limited to a specific configuration of compressed air engine or compressed air supply apparatus. Examples of compressed air engine configurations are disclosed in United States utility U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,104,955; 4,018,050; 4,370,857; 3,980,152; 3,765,180; 3,693,351; 6,862,973; 6,629,573; 6,367,247; 6,508,324; 4,014,172 and 774,778.

A rotary power conversion apparatus 115 is mechanically connected to the compressed air engine 110 in a manner enabling the rotary power produced by the compressed air engine 110 to be transferred to the rotary power conversion apparatus 115. The rotary power conversion apparatus 115 performs the function of converting rotary power produced by the compressed air engine 110 to electrical power of a first electrical specification. An example of electrical power of the first specification is electrical power at a first voltage level, a first electrical current level and a first configuration of electrical current (e.g., alternating current (AC) or direct current (DC)).

It is disclosed herein that any number of means may be implemented for coupling the compressed air engine 110 to the rotary power conversion apparatus 115 and for converting rotary power to electrical power. In one embodiment, a gearbox is coupled between an output shaft of the compressed air engine 110 and an input shaft of an alternator or generator of the rotary power conversion apparatus 115. In another embodiment, a pulley and belt arrangement is coupled between an output shaft of the compressed air engine 110 and an input shaft of an alternator or generator of the rotary power conversion apparatus 115. A skilled person will appreciate that the present invention is not unnecessarily limited to a particular means for coupling the compressed air engine 110 to the rotary power conversion apparatus 115 or to a specific component or set of components for converting (e.g., generating) electrical power from the rotary power.

An electrical power conversion apparatus 120 is electrically connected to the rotary power conversion apparatus 115 in a manner enabling the rotary power produced by the compressed air engine 110 to be transferred to the rotary power conversion apparatus 115. The electrical power conversion apparatus 120 performs the function of converting electrical power of the first specification to electrical power of a second electrical specification different than the first specification. An example of electrical power of the second specification is electrical power having a different voltage level than the first electrical voltage, a current level different than the first electrical current level and/or a configuration of electrical current different than the first configuration of electrical current.

It is disclosed herein that any number of means may be implemented for converting electrical power of the first specification to electrical power of the second specification. In one embodiment, a conversion apparatus such as a DC-to-AC inverter is used for converting DC electrical power supplied by the rotary power conversion apparatus 115 to AC electrical power. In another embodiment, electrical power of the first specification is used to energize a motor that drives a voltage generating device (e.g., a generator) that produces DC electrical power of a second specification. A benefit of generating electrical power of a first specification and then converting it to electrical power of a second specification is that the operating parameters of the compressed air engine (e.g., engine speed, torque, etc.) may lend themselves to producing electrical power of the first electrical specification whereas intended used of electrical power generated by the powertrain system 100 may most efficiently use electrical power of the second specification. A skilled person will appreciate that the present invention is not unnecessarily limited to a particular means for converting (e.g., generating) electrical power of the first specification to electrical power of the second specification.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, the electrical power conversion apparatus 120 performs the function of converting electrical power of the first specification to electrical power of an intermediate electrical specification different than the first specification and then converts electrical power of the intermediate specification to electrical power of the second electrical specification different than the first specification or second specification. For example, DC electrical power of a first specification is converted to AC electrical power and the AC electrical power is utilized for generating DC electrical power of a second electrical specification. A portion of the AC electrical power may be outputted from the electrical power conversion apparatus 120 without being used for generating DC electrical power of the second specification. Furthermore, it is disclosed herein that conversion of electrical power from a first specification to electrical power a second specification may entail converting DC electrical power of a first specification to DC power of a second electrical specification without any intermediate output of AC electrical power. Similarly, it is disclosed herein that conversion of electrical power from a first specification to electrical power a second specification may entail converting all available DC electrical power to AC electrical power.

The electrical power conversion apparatus 120 is electrically connected to a power distribution apparatus 125 in a manner enabling electrical power of the second electrical specification to be received by the power distribution apparatus 125 from the electrical power conversion apparatus 120. A wind-driven electrical power generator 130 is electrically connected to the power distribution apparatus 125 in a manner enabling electrical power generated by the wind driven electrical power generator 130 to be supplied to the power distribution apparatus 125. A skilled person will appreciate that the present invention is not unnecessarily limited to a particular type of wind-driven electrical power generator. The underlying functionality is that the wind-driven electrical power generator 130 converts wind currents (e.g., free wind currents, motion-induced wind currents, etc) to electrical power and supplies that electrical power to the power distribution apparatus 125 for distribution therefrom.

The power distribution apparatus 125 performs the function of enabling electrical power supplied by the electrical power conversion apparatus 120 and the wind-driven electrical power generator 130 to be selectively distributed to a power transmission apparatus 135. An output power control mechanism 140 is connected to the power distribution apparatus 125 for enabling the power applied to the power transmission apparatus 135 to be selectively varied. In this manner, the power distribution apparatus 125 and the output power control mechanism 140 facilitate output power control jointly. In one embodiment, the output power control mechanism 140 is movable between a plurality of relative orientation and a magnitude of power outputted from the power transmission apparatus 135 is dependent upon such relative orientation. An example of the output power control mechanism 140 includes a rheostat or potentiometer in combination with a manually adjustable device such as a switch or a pedal.

It is disclosed herein that, in other embodiments not specifically shown, the output power control mechanism 140 is electrically connected to the power transmission apparatus 135 as opposed to being electrically connected to the power distribution apparatus 125. In such alternate embodiments, a prescribed amount of power (e.g., 100% available power) is supplied from the power distribution apparatus 125 to the power transmission apparatus 135 and output power control of the power transmission apparatus 135 is facilitated jointly by the power transmission apparatus 135 and the output power control mechanism 140.

The power transmission apparatus 135 is configured in accordance with any number of known power transmission arrangements for converting electrical power to mechanical power. In one embodiment, the power transmission apparatus 135 is an electronic transmission (e.g., of a vehicle). Such a power transmission apparatus receives electrical power and converts the electrical power to mechanical power (e.g., rotary power at a shaft of a motor). By varying the magnitude of the electrical power supplied to the power transmission apparatus 135 and/or by regulating application and/or magnitude of electrical power within the power transmission apparatus 135, the corresponding power outputted from the power transmission apparatus 135 is variable.

The electrical power conversion apparatus 120 is electrically connected to the compressed air supply apparatus 105 in a manner enabling electrical power from the electrical power conversion apparatus 120 to be supplied to the compressed air supply apparatus 105. The electrical power supplied from the electrical power conversion apparatus 120 to the compressed air supply apparatus 105 provides electrical power necessary for enabling the compressed air supply apparatus 105 to generate compressed air that is supplied to the compressed air engine 110. For example, in one embodiment of the present invention, the electrical power conversion apparatus 120 supplies electrical power to an air compressor of the compressed air supply apparatus 105.

A battery apparatus 145 is electrically connected between the compressed air supply apparatus 105 and the power distribution apparatus 125. Electrical power is supplied from the power distribution apparatus 125 to the battery apparatus 145. Electrical power from the battery apparatus 145 is supplied to the compressed air supply apparatus 105. Electrical power supplied from the battery apparatus 145 to the compressed air supply apparatus serves to energize the compressed air supply apparatus 105 in situations where electrical power is not capable of being supplied to the compressed air supply apparatus 105 (e.g., when the compressed air engine 110 is inoperable). In one embodiment, the battery apparatus 145 comprises a plurality of battery cells (e.g., within a single battery or multiple batteries) and a power controller that regulates electrical power supplied to the battery cells and that converts (e.g., from DC to AC) and/or regulates electrical power supplied from the battery cells to the compressed air supply apparatus 105.

A solar panel 150 is electrically connected to the battery apparatus 145. The solar panel 150 converts solar energy to electrical power and that electrical power is provided to the battery apparatus 145 for recharging battery cells of the battery apparatus 145. A skilled person will appreciate that the present invention is not unnecessarily limited to a particular type of solar panel.

FIG. 2 shows an embodiment of a vehicle 200 comprising a specific implementation of a powertrain system in accordance with the present invention. It is disclosed herein that the powertrain system of the vehicle 200 may be integrated into nearly any type of vehicle (e.g., passenger vehicle, commercial vehicle, miliary vehicle, motorcycle, etc). Accordingly, it is disclosed herein that the present invention is not unnecessarily limited in implementation and utilization to any specific type of vehicle.

Two compressed air engines 202 receive compressed air from a compressed air storage tank 204. The compressed air engines 202 each extract energy from the compressed air and output rotary power at a respective output power portion (e.g., a rotating output shaft). The rotating power is transferred to two DC electrical power generating devices 206, thereby providing input power to the two DC electrical power generating devices 206. An alternator and a generator are each examples of DC electrical power generating devices in accordance with the present invention. An input-output coupling device 208 is connected between the compressed air engines 202 and each one of the DC electrical power generating devices 206 for facilitating transfer of rotary power from the compressed air engines 202 to each one of the DC electrical power generating devices 206; A gearbox and a pulley-belt arrangement are two examples of the input-output coupling device 208.

In response to the rotary power being applied to the two DC electrical power generating devices 206, the two DC electrical power generating devices 206 each output DC electrical power. The DC electrical power from a first one of the two DC electrical power generating devices 206 is provided to a first DC-to-AC inverter 210 and the DC electrical power from a second one of the two DC electrical power generating devices 206 is provided to a second DC-to-AC inverter 212. The DC-AC inverts perform the function of transforming DC electrical power to AC electrical power.

The AC electrical power of the first DC-to-AC investors 210 is supplied to two air compressors 214, which jointly supply the compressed air storage tank 204 with compressed air. The AC electrical power of the second DC-to-AC inverter 212 is electrically connected to two AC electric motors 216. The AC electric power from the second DC-AC inverters facilitates electromotive rotation of the AC electric motors 216. An input-output coupling device 218 is mechanically connected between the AC electric motors 216 and a high-output DC electrical power generating device 220 thereby providing for the transfer of rotary power from the AC electric motors 216 to the high-output DC electrical power generating device 220. The high-output DC electrical power generating device 220 is characterized in that it capable of outputting considerably more electrical current at a respective specified voltage than are the DC electrical power generating devices 206 that are mechanically connected to the compressed air engines 206. The DC-to-AC invertors 210, the AC electric motors 216, the input-output coupling device 218 and the high-output DC electrical power generating device 220 are jointly an embodiment of an electrical power conversion apparatus in accordance with the present invention.

A power distribution apparatus 222 is electrically connected to the high-output DC electrical power generating device 220. The power distribution apparatus 222 receives electrical power from the high-output DC electrical power generating device 220. The power distribution apparatus 222 is configured for selectively outputting electrical power through a plurality of power outlet portions (i.e., electrical connections where power output cables are connected).

As depicted in FIG. 2, a plurality of drive motors 224 are provided for turning a front and/or a rear tractive means (e.g., wheels) of the vehicle 200. Each of the drive motors 224 is electrically connected to a respective power outlet portion of the power distribution apparatus 222. An output power control mechanism 225 is connected to the power distribution apparatus 222. The output power control mechanism 225 includes a pedal portion connected to a device such as, for example, a potentiometer or rheostat that enables a relative position of the pedal portion to be correlated to a desired amount of electrical power output (e.g., 30% of maximum power output) applied from the power distribution apparatus 222 to the drive motors 224. In this manner, electrical power may be applied to the drive motors in a variable manner thus facilitating speed control of the vehicle 200. The plurality of drive motors 224 is an embodiment of a power transmission apparatus in accordance with the present invention.

It is disclosed herein that the plurality of drive motors 224 may be replaced with another configuration of power transmission apparatus, such as one with a centralized motor or motors and power transfer means for transferring power to one or more wheels of the vehicle 200.

A plurality of acceleration modules 226 are electrically connected to the power distribution apparatus 222. Each one of the acceleration modules 226 holds a stored electrical charge and is configured for enabling the stored electrical charge to be rapidly discharged. In one embodiment, the acceleration modules 226 each include a capacitive portion (e.g., a large capacitor) that holds a stored electrical charge and enables it to be rapidly discharged. Through its electrical connection to the power distribution apparatus 222, the stored charges of the acceleration modules 226 can be selectively outputted to the power transmission apparatus through a power outlet portion of the power distribution apparatus 222. Discharge of the stored electrical charges serves to boost electrical power applied to the drive motors 224, thereby aiding in acceleration of the vehicle 200. The acceleration modules 226 receive electrical power from the power distribution apparatus 222 for maintaining and replenishing the stored electrical charges.

A plurality of batteries 228 are electrically connected to a power controller 230. The power controller 230 is electrically connected to the air compressors 214 for supplying electrical power from the batteries 228 to the air compressors 214. The electrical power supplied from the batteries 228 is selectively supplied to the air compressors 214 by the power controller 230 when the compressed air engines 202 are inactive and electrical power is selectively supplied from the power distribution apparatus 222 to the power controller 230 for enabling the batteries 228 to be recharged. The power controller 230 converts power as necessary (e.g., converting from DC electrical power to AC electrical power) and regulates control of the electrical power to the air compressors (e.g., supplies electrical power when the compressed air engines 202 are inactive and a pressure level of compressed air within the compressed air storage tank 204 drops below a prescribed level). The batteries 228 and the power controller 230 are jointly an embodiment of a batter apparatus in accordance with the present invention.

A solar panel array 232 is electrically connected to the power controller 230. The solar panel array 232 converts solar energy to electrical power (i.e., solar-generated electrical power). The electrical power generated by the solar panel array 232 is supplied from the solar panel 232 to the power controller 230 for enabling the batteries to be recharged. It is disclosed herein that the solar panel array 232 may be made up of a plurality of discrete solar panels positioned at different locations on the vehicle 200. For example a first solar panel may be attached to a front bumper of the vehicle 200 and a second solar panel may be attached to a rear bumper of the vehicle 200.

A plurality of wind-driven electrical power generators 234 are electrically connected to the power distribution apparatus 222 for enabling electrical power generated by the wind-driven electrical power generators 234 to be supplied to and selectively outputted from the power distribution apparatus. The wind-driven electrical power generators 234 each include a venturi air duct portion 236 expose to a forward facing portion of the vehicle 200. The venturi air duct portion 236 of each one of the wind-driven electrical power generators 234 serves to gather air as the vehicle 200 moves through the air and accelerate the gathered air through a turbine portion of the wind-driven electrical power generators 234 thereby rotating the turbine portion and an attached electrical power generating device. Rotation of the attached electrical power generating device causes generation of the electrical power that is supplied to the power distribution apparatus 222 from a respective one of the wind-driven electrical power generators 234.

A skilled person will appreciate that specifications for components and/or apparatuses of a powertrain system in accordance with the present invention are relative and based on, for example, desired power output of the powertrain system. Thus, detailed specifications for certain components and apparatuses discussed herein are not specifically disclosed. Accordingly, a skilled person will appreciate that specific aspects of such components and apparatuses do not unnecessarily limit the present invention. It is the functionality, interaction and interconnection between such components and/or apparatuses of a powertrain apparatus in accordance with the present invention that provide the underlying basis for the operation and usefulness of the present invention because the detailed specifications for components and apparatuses of a powertrain system in accordance with the present invention are dependent on an intended use of such powertrain system.

In the preceding detailed description, reference has been made to the accompanying drawings that form a part hereof, and in which are shown by way of illustration specific embodiments in which the present invention may be practiced. These embodiments, and certain variants thereof, have been described in sufficient detail to enable those skilled in the art to practice embodiments of the present invention. It is to be understood that other suitable embodiments may be utilized and that logical, mechanical, chemical and electrical changes may be made without departing from the spirit or scope of such inventive disclosures. To avoid unnecessary detail, the description omits certain information known to those skilled in the art. The preceding detailed description is, therefore, not intended to be limited to the specific forms set forth herein, but on the contrary, it is intended to cover such alternatives, modifications, and equivalents, as can be reasonably included within the spirit and scope of the appended claims. For more information go to WWW.GAPATENTS.COM or WWW.GOOGLE.COM.

Friday, November 20, 2009

United States Patent 7,307,203
WWW.USPTO.GOV
Buffkin, et al.
December 11, 2007

String instrument chord player

Abstract

A string chord player for a string instrument such as a guitar designed to be surroundably mounted onto the neck of the guitar. The string chord player includes an upper housing configured to mate with a lower housing forming an opening for receipt therein of a neck of a guitar. Integrally mounted to the upper housing is a plurality of buttons with outwardly facing chord designations. Opposite the chord designations is a string engagement portion of the button that when the button is placed into a second position will temporarily engage the adjacent longitudinally mounted strings on the neck of the guitar.
Inventors: Buffkin; Mickey (Jefferson, AR), Buffkin; Roger (Stuttgart, AR)
Appl. No.: 11/235,518
Filed: September 26, 2005
Related U.S. Patent Documents

Application Number Filing Date Patent Number Issue Date
60617259 Oct., 2004

Current U.S. Class: 84/286
Current International Class: G10D 1/12 (20060101)
Field of Search: 84/286,287,285,288,289
References Cited [Referenced By]
U.S. Patent Documents

2669151 February 1954 Maccaferri
4228718 October 1980 Smith
4331059 May 1982 Marabotto
5223659 June 1993 Shiraki et al.
5540133 July 1996 Draper et al.
6034310 March 2000 Kolano
Primary Examiner: Lockett; Kimberly
Attorney, Agent or Firm: Galasso; Raymond M. Galasso & Associates, LP
WWW.GAPATENTS.COM

Parent Case Text


PRIORITY UNDER 35 U.S.C. .sctn.119(e) & 37 C.F.R. .sctn.1.78

This nonprovisional application claims priority based upon the following prior U.S. provisional patent application entitled: Key mate, Application No.: 60/617,259, filed Oct. 8, 2004, in the names of Mikey Buffkin and Roger Buffkin, which is hereby incorporated by reference for all purposes.
Claims


What is claimed is:

1. A string instrument chord player for a string instrument having a neck comprising: an upper housing, said upper housing being configured in a substantially planar manner and generally rectangular in shape; a lower housing, said lower housing being releasably secured to said upper housing for surroundably mounting said neck of a string instrument; and wherein said lower housing has an inner surface, said inner surface being generally arcuate in shape; and an opening, said opening being formed by said upper housing and said lower housing for receipt therein of said neck of said string instrument.

2. The string instrument chord player as recited in claim 1, and further including at least one aperture in said upper housing.

3. The string instrument chord player as recited in claim 2, and further including at least one button journaled through said aperture, said button having a first position and a second position.

4. The string instrument chord player as recited in claim 3, wherein said button further includes a musical chord designation.

5. The string instrument chord player as recited in claim 4, wherein said button further includes a string engagement portion, said string engagement portion for contacting strings longitudinally mounted along said neck of said string instrument.

6. The string instrument chord player as recited in claim 3, wherein said button is mounted in said aperture with coil springs.

7. The string instrument chord player as recited in claim 6, wherein said upper housing and said lower housing are manufactured from plastic.

8. A string instrument chord player for a string instrument having a neck with longitudinally mounted strings and a plurality of transversely mounted frets comprising: an upper housing, said upper housing being configured in a substantially planar manner and generally rectangular in shape, said upper housing having a peripheral edge; a lower housing, said lower housing being releasably secured to said upper housing for surroundably mounting said neck of a string instrument, said lower housing having an inner surface, said inner surface being generally arcuate in shape; an opening, said opening being formed by said upper housing and said lower housing for receipt therein of said neck of said string instrument; at least one aperture, said aperture being formed in said upper housing, said upper housing being adjacent to said strings; at least one button, said button journaled through said aperture; and wherein said button further includes a string engagement portion capable of engaging the specified adjacent string.

9. The string chord player as recited in claim 8, wherein said button further comprises a string engagement portion, said string engagement portion being adjacently superposed to said string on said neck of said string instrument.

10. The string chord player as recited in claim 9, wherein said button has a first position and a second position, said button in said first position is biased away from said string of said string instrument.

11. The string chord player as recited in claim 10, wherein said button is mounted in said aperture with coil springs.

12. The string chord player as recited in claim 11, wherein said string engagement portion of said button is temporarily engaged with said strings of said string instrument upon said button being biased into said second position.

13. The string chord player as recited in claim 12, wherein said button has designated thereon a musical chord.

14. The string chord player as recited in claim 13, wherein said peripheral edge of said upper housing is generally rounded in shape to provide comfort for a user's hand.

15. A string instrument chord player for a string instrument having a neck with longitudinally mounted strings and a plurality of transversely mounted frets comprising: an upper housing, said upper housing being configured in a substantially planar manner and generally rectangular in shape, said upper housing being positioned adjacent to said string of said string instrument, said upper housing having a peripheral edge that is generally rounded in shape; a lower housing, said lower housing being generally rectangular in shape said lower housing being releasably secured to said upper housing such that said lower housing and said upper housing for surroundably mounting said neck of a string instrument, said lower housing having an inner surface, said inner surface being generally arcuate in shape, said inner surface being adjacent to said neck opposite said strings when said string instrument chord player is surroundably mounted to said neck; an opening, said opening being formed by said upper housing and said lower housing for receipt therein of said neck of said string instrument; seven apertures, said apertures being formed in said upper housing; and seven buttons, said buttons being journaled through said apertures, said buttons having a first position and a second position; and wherein said buttons are biased into said first position with coil springs and wherein said buttons are manually manipulated into said second position.

16. The string chord player as recited in claim 15, wherein said buttons further include a string engagement portion for temporarily engaging with said adjacent strings while said button is in said second position.

17. The string chord player as recited in claim 16, wherein said buttons have chord designations thereon.

18. The string chord player as recited in claim 17, wherein said lower housing sand said upper housing measure approximately 3 inches H.times.3 inches W.times.6 inches L.
Description


FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a device for playing a string instrument, and more specifically but not by way of limitation, a string chord player that is designed to surroundably mount the neck of a string instrument such as but not limited to a guitar. The string chord player is designed to facilitate the playing of a musical chord by pressing a single button. The button has displayed thereon a chord designation upon which engagement therewith by an individual will enable the user to play the string instrument and produce the desired sounds with limited or no musical training and without the need for significant hand dexterity.

BACKGROUND

Playing musical instruments can be enjoyed as a hobby or professionally. The playing of string instruments is one of the many types of instruments that are used by individuals. String instruments such as guitars, banjos and the like use a multiplicity of strings usually comprised of nylon or steel to produce a chord, or sound. The strings are typically mounted longitudinally superposed to a neck of a string instrument. The individual playing the string instrument will temporarily engage one or more strings by pressing the string against a fret transversely mounted on the neck at a desired point thus changing the vibrational length of the string resulting in a desired sound.

In order to produce desired sounds, the manual dexterity requirement for playing a string instrument is high. Positioning several figures at the required location to produce a chord takes a high degree of flexibility. Individuals who have difficulty manipulating their hands into the appropriate position whether due to age or medical condition can experience problems producing the chords desired.

Another problem arises during the learning phase with individuals who have little musical training and wish to engage in the activity of playing a string instrument. Many individuals lack the time or patience to practice at the level required to play a string instrument proficiently. The normal required amount of practice required to learn to play a string instrument can be very discouraging to a beginner. For those individuals, a device that would facilitate easier playing of the string instrument would enhance its enjoyment and provide encouragement during the learning phase.

Accordingly there is a need for a device that can be surroundably mounted to the neck of a string instrument that could facilitate easier playing of the instrument by reducing the degree of manual dexterity required as well as reducing the amount of musical training required to play the instrument.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the present invention to provide a string chord player that can be releasably secured to the neck of a string instrument providing easier use of the string instrument by reducing the dexterity required to play as well as reducing the level of musical training normally necessary for playing a string instrument.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a string chord player that will provide a plurality of button with chords displayed thereon for the user to choose from to produce desired sounds.

Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a string chord player, that when surroundably mounted to the neck of a string instrument will not bind the strings and produce excessive string wear.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide a string chord player that is easy to use, lightweight, and durable.

To the accomplishment of the above and related objects the present invention may be embodied in the form illustrated in the accompanying drawings. Attention is called to the fact that the drawings are illustrative only. Variations are contemplated as being part of the present invention, limited only by the scope of the claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A more complete understanding of the present invention may be had by reference to the following Detailed Description and appended claims when taken in conjunction with the accompanying Drawings wherein:

FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 illustrates a perspective view of an embodiment of the present invention surroundably mounted to the neck of a guitar; and

FIG. 3 illustrates a top perspective view of an embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring now to the drawings, wherein various elements depicted are not necessarily drawn to scale, and in particular FIGS. 1 and 2 there is illustrated a string chord player 100 constructed according to the principles of the present invention.

The string chord player 100 comprises a housing 15 generally rectangular in shape. The housing 15 is surroundably mounted parallel to the neck 40 of the guitar 70. The housing 15 includes a lower housing 30 and an upper housing 20. The upper housing 20 is configured in a substantially planar manner and is generally rectangular in shape being of sufficient size to mate with the lower housing 30. The upper housing 20 and the lower housing 30 form an opening 95 for receipt therein of the neck 40 of the guitar 70. The upper housing 20 includes a peripheral edge 120 that is rounded to provide comfort for the users hand while engaged with the string chord player 100. The upper housing 20 is releasably secured to the lower housing 30 by conventional mechanical methods such as but not limited to snaps. Those skilled in the art will recognize that numerous mechanical methods could be utilized to secure the upper housing 20 to the lower housing 30. More specifically but not by way of limitation the upper housing 20 could be fastened to the lower housing 30 by a conventional mechanical hinge. The lower housing 30 includes an inner surface 90 that is generally arcuate in shape. The inner surface 90 of the lower housing 30 lies adjacent to the neck 40 opposite the strings 60. Although the inner surface 90 is shown in the illustrated embodiment as being arcuate in shape, it is contemplated within the scope of the present invention that the inner surface 90 could be shaped to conform to the shape of the neck 40 of a variety of string instruments. It is contemplated within the scope of the present invention that the size of the housing 15 could vary dependent upon the guitar 70, good results have been shown to be achieved with a housing 15 that is three inches in height by three inches in width and six inches in length.

The housing 15 is manufactured from conventional materials such as plastic. Those skilled in the art will recognize that many different materials could be used in place of and/or in conjunction with plastic to manufacture the housing. More specifically but not by way of limitation the housing 15 could be manufactured with metal or wood. It is also contemplated to be within the scope of the present invention that the upper housing 20 could be translucent to provide viewing of the strings 60 by the user. Further, it is contemplated within the scope of the present invention that the housing 15 could be manufactured in a variety of colors to coordinate with a particular guitar 70.

Referring now to FIG. 2, the housing 15 is shown mounted to the neck 40 of a guitar 70. Transversely mounted on the neck 40 are a plurality of frets 55. Longitudinally mounted to the neck 40 is a set of strings 60. The upper housing 20 when engaged with the lower housing 30 transverses the neck 40 superposed to the strings 60. The forward end 115 of the upper housing 20 is manufactured such that it provides the necessary lateral clearance to avoid touching the strings 60 when the string chord player 100 is surroundably mounted on the neck 40. Located in the upper housing 20 are a plurality of buttons 10. The buttons 10 are generally cylindrical in shape and of sufficient length to be journaled through the apertures 135 integrally manufactured into the upper housing 20. The buttons 10 each have a chord designation 110 displayed thereon. The buttons 10 are mounted to the upper housing 20 biased in a first position by coil springs 130. The springs 130 bias the button 10 in a first position to avoid contacting the adjacent strings 60 underneath when the string chord player 100 is surroundably mounted to the neck 40 of the guitar 70. Those skilled in the art will recognize that numerous different mounting methods of the buttons 10 could be used in place of and/or in conjunction with coil springs.

Referring in particular to FIG. 1, the buttons 10 downwardly extend through the apertures 135 in the upper housing 20. Opposite the chord designation 110 is a string engagement portion 80 of the button 10. The string engagement portion 80 is manufactured to engage with the specified adjacent strings 60 at the fret 55 to produce the chord designated by the chord designation 110. When the string chord player 100 is assembled and surroundably mounted to the neck 40, each button 10 is in position to provide a particular chord or sound that is displayed by the chord designation 110 of the button 10. The string engagement portion 80 of the button 10 engages with the appropriate adjacent strings 60 superposed along a fret 55 when the user downwardly extends the button 10 to its second position. Once engaged with the string 60, the string engagement portion 80 of the button 10 changes the vibrational length of the string 60 allowing the guitar 70 to produce the desired sound when the strings 60 are strummed.

As illustrated in FIG. 2, there are seven buttons 10 mounted to the upper housing 20 of the string chord player 100. These buttons 10 are designed to produce chords A-F. It is contemplated within the scope of the present invention that the string chord player 100 could be manufactured with a numerous different amount of buttons 10 to produce different chords. The buttons 10 are manufactured from conventional materials such as but not limited to plastic. Those skilled in the art will recognize that numerous material in place of and/or in conjunction with plastic to manufacture the buttons 10.

It is contemplated within the scope of the present invention that the string chord player 100 could be integrally manufactured into the neck 40 of the guitar. Further, it is contemplated that the string chord player 100 could be manufactured to integrate with a keyboard instrument such as but not limited to a piano.

Referring in particular to the drawings submitted herewith, a description of the operation of the string chord player 100 is as follows. The user will place the lower housing 30 adjacently underneath the neck 40 of the guitar 70 in the desired position. The user then releasably secures the upper housing 20 to the lower housing 30 locking the string chord player 100 in place parallel to the neck 40. The forward end 115 of the upper housing 20 lies adjacently above but not touching the strings. The user will then apply a downward force to one of the biased buttons 10 to release it from the first position and move the button 10 to the second position. The string engagement portion 80 of the button 10 temporarily engages with the adjacent strings mounted underneath during the second position. This causes the strings 60 adjacent to the frets 55 to engage with the fret 55 and change the vibrational length of the string 60. The user will then simultaneously strum the strings with the button 10 in the second position to produce the chord designated by the chord designation 110 on the button 10. The user will then release the button 10 to return it to its first position and then repeat the process to produce a different chord using one of the plurality of buttons 10. Upon completion of playing the guitar 70 the string chord player 100 can be removed from the neck 40.

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 changes may be made without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention. The description may omit certain information known to those skilled in the art. The preceding detailed description is, therefore, not intended to be limited to the specific forms set forth herein, but on the contrary, it is intended to cover such alternatives, modifications, and equivalents, as can be reasonably included within the spirit and scope of the appended claims. For more information go to WWW.GAPATENTS.COM or WWW.GOOGLE.COM.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

United States Patent 7,617,547
WWW.USPTO.GOV
Peterson, et al.
November 17, 2009

Repair kit for inflatable pools

Abstract

A repair kit is provided for extending the use of inflatable pools. When the inflatable ring around the top of such a pool is deflated, flotation devices are placed under the flap of the inflatable ring. Any flotation devices may be used that are safe, provide buoyancy, and will not puncture the material of the ring, for example the foam flotation devices called "noodles." The flotation devices are kept in place under the flap of the ring by a binding apparatus with sufficient weight to keep the flotation devices from floating loose. For example, a standard garden hose may be inserted through a small slit in the ring to serve as binding. The repair kit may be used on a pool with a ring without a leak, to avoid having subsequent leaks. The repair kit also allows a pool to be filled higher with water than when the pool's ring is inflated.
Inventors: Peterson; Douglas J. (Bullhead City, AZ), Peterson; Vicki Earline (Bullhead City, AZ)
Appl. No.: 11/206,566
Filed: August 18, 2005

Current U.S. Class: 4/506
Current International Class: F04D 35/00 (20060101)
Field of Search: 4/506,513,585
References Cited [Referenced By]
U.S. Patent Documents

2529872 November 1950 Hasselquist
3512186 May 1970 Sanford
4124049 November 1978 Yamaguchi
4853984 August 1989 Celiano
5546972 August 1996 Wardell et al.
Primary Examiner: Le; Huyen
Attorney, Agent or Firm: Galasso; Raymond M. Galasso & Associates, LP
WWW.GAPATENTS.COM

Claims


What is claimed is:

1. A repair kit for floating the inflatable ring on an above-ground inflatable swimming pool such that the swimming pool can contain water, the repair kit comprising at least one flotation device, said at least one flotation device capable of fitting around the inner periphery of the inflatable pool, and wherein an inflatable ring extends over said at least one flotation device; and at least one binding apparatus capable of binding each flotation device in place about the inflatable ring, said binding apparatus providing sufficient weight to keep each flotation device from floating out from under the binding apparatus.

2. The flotation device of claim 1, wherein the flotation device is circular in shape.

3. The flotation device of claim 1, wherein the flotation device comprises a plurality of flotation devices.

4. The means of binding of claim 1, wherein the means of binding comprises a garden hose.

5. A repair kit for increasing the water level capacity of an above-ground inflatable swimming pool such that the swimming pool can contain a higher level of water when the inflatable ring on the pool is deflated than when that inflatable ring is inflated, the repair kit comprising at least one flotation device, said at least one flotation device extending around the inner periphery of the above-around inflatable swimming pool; an inflatable ring in a deflated state; said inflatable ring capable of extending over the at least one flotation device; and at least one binding apparatus capable of binding each flotation device in place about the inflatable ring, said binding apparatus providing sufficient weight to keep each flotation device from floating out from under the binding apparatus.

6. The flotation device of claim 5, wherein the flotation device is circular in shape.

7. The flotation device if claim 5, wherein the flotation device comprises a plurality of flotation devices.

8. The means of binding of claim 5, wherein the means of binding comprises a garden hose.

9. A repair kit for floating an inflatable ring on an above-ground inflatable swimming pool such that the swimming pool can contain water; and increasing the water level capacity of the above-ground inflatable swimming pool such that the swimming pool can contain a higher level of water when the inflatable ring on the pool is deflated than when the inflatable ring is inflated, the repair kit comprising at least one flotation device; said at least one flotation device capable of extending around a portion of the inner periphery of the above-ground inflatable swimming pool; an inflatable ringand at least one binding apparatus capable of binding each flotation device in place about the inflatable ring, said binding apparatus operable to be inserted into the inflatable ring and provides sufficient weight to keep each flotation device from floating out from under the binding apparatus.

10. The flotation device of claim 9, wherein the flotation device is circular in shape, and four inches in diameter.

11. The flotation device of claim 9, wherein the flotation device comprises a plurality of flotation devices.

12. The means of binding of claim 9, wherein the means of binding comprises a garden hose.
Description


FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE

The present invention relates to inflatable swimming pools and more particularly to a repair kit for extending the life and use of inflatable swimming pools.

BACKGROUND

Millions of people enjoy swimming in above-ground inflatable swimming pools. Many of these pools have an inflatable ring around the top of the pool, which floats upward when water is added to the pool. This action raises the walls of the pool so that water may be retained within the pool. Leaks in an inflatable ring, for example from punctures by dogs, cats, or the teeth of small children, may occur frequently and can cause the walls of a pool to collapse, so that water pours out of the pool.

Inflatable rings for pools are typically repaired with adhesive patches, but these sometimes do not hold and fail to prevent other leaks. After each patch, the inflatable pool must be inflated again by pumping in air, which can be time-consuming and laborious. Moreover, major tears in inflatable rings are difficult to repair with adhesive patches. In addition, the material of inflatable rings may wear out faster over time that the more durable materials used for the sides and bottoms of these pools, so that patching becomes impractical. In such cases currently the entire pools must be replaced, which can be expensive.

Therefore, there is a need for a simple, inexpensive, and effective means of repairing the inflatable rings of above-ground swimming pools to extend the life and use of those pools.

SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE

The following explanation describes the present invention by way of example and not by way of limitation.

It is an aspect of the present invention to provide a simple, inexpensive, and effective means of repairing the inflatable rings of above-ground swimming pools.

It is another aspect of the present invention to use readily available materials to provide a simple, inexpensive, and effective means of repairing the inflatable rings of above-ground swimming pools.

It is still another aspect of the present invention to provide a means of extending the life and use of above-ground swimming pools through at least one flotation device and at least one binding apparatus.

It is yet another aspect of the present invention to provide a means of filling above-ground swimming pools higher with water by using at least one flotation device and at least one binding apparatus than is possible when the inflation rings on the pools are inflated.

These and other aspects of the present invention will become readily apparent upon further review of the following specification and associated drawings. In accordance with the present invention, a repair kit is provided for extending the use of inflatable pools. When the inflatable ring around the top of such a pool is deflated, flotation devices are placed under the flap of the inflatable ring. Any flotation devices may be used that are safe, provide buoyancy, and will not puncture the material of the ring, for example the foam flotation devices called "noodles." The flotation devices are kept in place under the flap of the ring by a binding apparatus with sufficient weight to keep the flotation devices from floating loose. For example, a standard garden hose may be inserted through a small slit in the ring to serve as binding. The repair kit may be used on a pool with a ring without a leak, to avoid having subsequent leaks. The repair kit also allows a pool to be filled higher with water than when the pool's ring is inflated.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The following embodiments of the present invention are described by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a block diagram that illustrates the components of a repair kit for inflatable swimming pools;

FIG. 2 is a block diagram that illustrates an inflatable swimming pool with a repair kit in place; and

FIG. 3 is a block diagram that illustrates the insertion is a garden hose through a slit in a deflated inflation ring.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIGURES

The following description of drawings is offered to illustrate the present invention clearly. However, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that the concepts of the present invention are not limited to these specific details. Also, commonly known elements are shown in diagrams for clarity, as examples only and not as limitations of the present invention.

The present invention comprises a repair kit for inflatable pools. As shown in FIG. 1, the repair kit comprises the following elements: At least one flotation device 2, and At least one binding apparatus 4.

At least one flotation device 2 serves to float the inflatable ring 8 around the top rim of an inflatable pool 6. In an embodiment, multiple flotation devices 2 may be used. Any flotation devices may be used that are safe, provide buoyancy, and will not puncture the material of the ring. Typically, the flotation devices 2 are oval or circular in shape.

In an embodiment, flotation devices 2 manufactured of foam, comprising aerated plastic, may be used that are non-corrosive, durable, strong, and that accept and retain coloring materials for an extended period of time. For example, the flotation devices commonly called "noodles" and readily available on the market, may be used, either in whole sections of the noodles or in segments. Segments cut from whole sections with a knife or other cutting tool may be used or segments that are broken off. The number of sections and segments to be used would be dependent on the size of the pool 6 to be repaired.

For example, the flotation devices 2 may comprise foam noodles that are typically four inches in diameter and three to five feet in length. In an embodiment approximately ten flotation devices 2 that are four inches in diameter and five feet in length are sufficient for an above-ground inflatable pool 6 that is fifteen feet in diameter.

In another embodiment, a single flotation device 2 may be used that measures in length approximately the circumference of the inflatable ring 8 of a particular pool 6. For a pool 6 with an inflatable ring 8 that is 20 feet in circumference, for example, a flotation device 2 that is 20 feet long may be used.

The binding apparatus 4 is used to bind the flotation device or devices 2 in place and to provide ballast to keep them from floating loose. In an embodiment, a standard rubber garden hose may be used that also is non-corrosive, durable, strong, and that can accept and retain coloring materials for an extended period of time. The length of the garden hose to be used would be dependent on the size of the pool to be repaired. In other embodiments, the garden hose 4 may be replaced by other binding apparatuses that also provide ballast, for example ropes made of various materials.

Use

The repair kit may be used as follows. When the inflatable ring 8 of a pool 6 is deflated, the user places a sufficient number of flotation devices 2 under the material of the inflatable ring 8, all the way around the pool 6, to float the inflatable ring 8, as shown in FIG. 2. Floating the inflatable ring 8 raises the walls of the pool 6 so that water may be retained inside.

After the flotation devices 2 are in place under the inflatable ring 8, the user cuts a small slit 10 in the inflation ring 8 and threads the binding apparatus 4 through the inflation ring 8 all the way around the pool 6 so that the binding apparatus 4 retains the flotation devices 2 within the material of the inflatable ring 8. For example, the user threads a garden hose 4, or other binding apparatus with sufficient ballast, through the inflatable ring 8. In this way the flotation devices 2 are held in place securely so that they cannot float out of position around the inflatable ring 8, which could cause the walls of the pool 6 to collapse and water to be drained from the pool 6. The garden hose 4 should be of sufficient weight to keep the flotation devices 2 from floating out from underneath the garden hose 4.

FIG. 3 shows a close-up view of a section of a flotation device 2 that has been inserted underneath a deflated inflation ring 8. The slit 10 in the inflation ring 8 allows the user to thread a garden hose 4 through the two layers of the material of the inflation ring 8, so that the garden hose 4 can be placed underneath the flotation device 2 all the way around the pool and so holds the flotation device 2 in position.

An added advantage of the repair kit is that it typically allows an above-ground swimming pool 6 to be filled higher than is possible when the inflatable ring 8 is inflated. This is because the flotation devices 2 that are required to raise the walls of the pool 6 take up less room than the amount of air required to raise those walls. For example, an inflatable pool 6 may be filled four to six inches higher through use of the repair kit.

The user may need to experiment to determine the number of flotation devices 2 necessary to raise the walls of the pool 6 securely and the length of the garden hose 4 required to bind the flotation devices 2 and provide sufficient ballast to hold the flotation devices 2 in place.

In another embodiment, the repair kit may be used on an undamaged pool 6 by not inflating the inflatable ring 8 and proceeding as explained above, with the flotation devices 2 placed under the deflated ring 8. This would prevent the annoyance of having subsequent punctures in the new inflatable ring 8 that would require patching and pumping for re-inflation.

Thus the repair kit can be used on a collapsed pool 6 or on an undamaged pool 6 to extend the life and use of the pool 6 by years.

The best dimensional relationships for the parts of the invention described above, including variations in form and use, will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art, and are intended to be encompassed by the present invention. For more information go to WWW.GAPATENTS.COM or WWW.GOOGLE.COM.