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Title:
Umbrella and kit therefor
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
An umbrella combination in which a stand includes an electric motor and a power source. The electric motor allows an operator to selectively move the umbrella from an open position to a closed position (and vice versa). In the preferred embodiment, the electric motor is operated by remote control using radio frequencies, thereby allowing the user to close (or open) the umbrella from a distance. In one embodiment of the invention, the power source is a battery which is charged using solar panels.


Inventors:
Moga, Michael P. (Tucson, AZ, US)
Application Number:
10/192123
Publication Date:
03/25/2004
Filing Date:
07/09/2002
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A45B25/14; A45B25/16; (IPC1-7): A45B3/00; A45B5/00
View Patent Images:
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Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Ste 203, Mark Ogram E. (7454 E. Broadway, Tucson, AZ, 85710, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. An umbrella combination comprising: a) an umbrella having an open position and a closed position; b) a stand adapted to support said umbrella; c) an electric motor adapted to move said umbrella between said positions; and, d) a user operated switch connected to said electric motor and adapted to cause said electric motor to move said umbrella from a current position to an opposing position.

2. The umbrella combination according to claim 1, wherein said electric motor is powered by household current and wherein said user operated switch is remote from said stand.

3. The umbrella combination according to claim 1, further including a battery contained within said stand, said battery providing power to said electric motor.

4. The umbrella combination according to claim 3, wherein said user operated switch is connected to said stand.

5. The umbrella combination according to claim 3, further including a payment receiving apparatus adapted to receive payment from a user, and wherein said user operated switch is responsive to signals from said payment receiving apparatus.

6. The umbrella combination according to claim 5, wherein, upon the lapse of a specified time, said payment receiving apparatus moves said umbrella to the closed position.

7. The umbrella combination according to claim 3, further including a solar electric panel positioned to generate electricity, said solar electric panel providing electrical energy recharging said battery.

8. The umbrella combination according to claim 7, a) further including a radio receiver connected to said stand, said radio receiver controlling operation of said electric motor; and, b) wherein said user operated switch is handheld and directs said electric motor via said radio receiver.

9. The umbrella combination according to claim 8, further including: a) an open-sensor being engaged when said umbrella is in the open position, said open-sensor, when engaged, preventing said electric motor from driving in a first direction; and, b) a closed-sensor being engaged when said umbrella is in the closed position, said closed-sensor, when engaged, preventing said electric motor from driving in an opposing second direction.

10. The umbrella combination according to claim 7, wherein said electric motor moves said umbrella via cables.

11. The umbrella combination according to claim 7, wherein said electric motor moves said umbrella via a worm drive.

12. The umbrella combination according to claim 7, further including an auditory signal generator producing an auditory signal as said umbrella moves to an open position.

13. The umbrella combination according to claim 7, further including a light, said light operable only when said umbrella is in an open position.

14. A shading apparatus comprising: a) a stand having, 1) an electric motor, and, 2) a power source adapted to selectively activate said electric motor, b) an umbrella secured to said stand, said umbrella being movable between an open position and a closed position by said electric motor.

15. The shading apparatus according to claim 14, wherein said power source includes: a) a battery; and, b) a user operable switch.

16. The shading apparatus according to claim 15, wherein said user operable switch includes a payment receiving apparatus adapted to receive payment from a user.

17. The shading apparatus according to claim 16, wherein, upon the lapse of a specified time, said payment receiving apparatus moves said umbrella to the closed position.

18. The shading apparatus according to claim 15, wherein said power source includes: a) A battery; and, b) a solar electric panel providing electrical energy to said battery.

19. The shading apparatus according to claim 15, further including: a) a radio receiver controlling operation of said electric motor; and, b) a hand-held radio transmitter communicating with said radio receiver for control of operation of said electric motor.

20. The shading apparatus according to claim 19, further including: a) an open-sensor being engaged when said umbrella is in the open position, said open-sensor, when engaged, preventing said electric motor from driving in a first direction; and, b) a closed-sensor being engaged when said umbrella is in the closed position, said closed-sensor, when engaged, preventing said electric motor from driving in an opposing second direction.

21. A kit for an umbrella being movable between an open position and a closed position, said kit comprising: a) a stand configured to support said umbrella, said stand having, 1) an electric motor connectable to said umbrella such that operation of said electric motor selectively moves said umbrella in a first direction and a second direction, and, 2) a power source adapted to selectively activate said electric motor, 3) a radio receiver controlling operation of said electric motor, and, b) a hand-held radio transmitter communicating with said radio receiver for control of operation of said electric motor.

22. The kit for an umbrella according to claim 21, further including a solar electric panel electrically connected to said power source..

23. The kit for an umbrella according to claim 22, further including: a) an open-sensor connectable to said umbrella such that when said umbrella is in the open position said open-sensor is engaged, said open-sensor, when engaged, preventing said electric motor from driving in a first direction; and, b) a closed-sensor connectable to said umbrella such that when said umbrellas is in the closed position said closed-sensor is engaged, said closed-sensor, when engaged, preventing said electric motor from driving in an opposing second direction.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] This invention relates generally to shading apparatus and more particularly to free standing umbrellas.

[0002] The date of the first umbrella is not known, but as long ago as 1786, Barbeu du Bourg translated the writings of Benjamin Franklin into French and then came up with the lightning-conductor umbrella. Since then, there have been a never ending progression of changes to the fundamental umbrella, including the use of alpaca covering (1848), the curved-steel rib frame (1874), and more recently the telescopic umbrella (1930).

[0003] Through all of this though, the umbrella's basic concept has been constant.

[0004] Unfortunately, all too often the umbrella's use (or alternatively it's non-use) is not foreseen. As example, in the case of an outdoor umbrella, the umbrella's main function is to provide shade. The user often forgets that the umbrella is “open” and simply retires to the house, only to have the umbrella toppled by a wind later.

[0005] There is a need for an umbrella that is easy to use and deploy.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0006] The invention is an umbrella combination in which a stand includes an electric motor and a power source. In this context, the umbrella of the present invention relates to a free standing umbrella, typically a beach, pool, or other type of outdoor umbrella.

[0007] The stand is weighted to keep the umbrella from falling during a breeze. An electric motor is contained with the stand (usually at the bottom of the stand to provide additional stabilizing weight to the stand).

[0008] A power source is used to energize the motor. This power source is ideally a battery (also contained within the stand). The use of a battery permits the stand and umbrella combination to be easily moved to meet the needs of the specific moment.

[0009] An alternative power source is common household electrical current. This current is communicated to the motor through an electrical line which plugs into the house's electrical socket. If household electrical current is used, then a protective covering is provided for the electrical line to prevent it from becoming frayed.

[0010] Through the use of a switch, the electric motor is selectively operated in two different directions. With the electric motor connected to the umbrella, the electric motor is able to selectively move the umbrella from an open to a closed position (and vice versa). One such switch is a three way switch with a resting position that is open (non-conducting). The two closed positions pass the current through the electric motor in opposing directions, thereby obtaining opposing directional movement by the electric motor and by extension the movement of the umbrella.

[0011] Mechanical connection of the electric motor to the umbrella is obtained through a variety of mechanisms obvious to those of ordinary skill in the art, including, but not limited to: cables and gearing mechanisms.

[0012] In the preferred embodiment, a radio receiver is incorporated into the stand. The radio receiver is responsive to radio waves coming from a hand-held transmitter. In response to these radio waves, the radio receiver operates the electric motor to either raise or lower the umbrella.

[0013] In this manner, a user is able to control the umbrella from a distance. This embodiment is particularly useful where the user wants to lower an umbrella after a day's activities after retiring to the house.

[0014] As noted earlier, in one embodiment of the invention, the power source is a battery. To maintain the battery's charge, solar panels are included in some embodiments. These solar panels permit the battery to maintain its charge without extra work on the part of the user.

[0015] The invention, together with various embodiments thereof, will be more fully explained by the accompanying drawings and the following description thereof.

DRAWINGS IN BRIEF

[0016] FIGS. 1A and 1B illustrate a pictorial and working views of an embodiment of the invention.

[0017] FIG. 2 illustrates the preferred embodiment's use of a hand-held transmitter used for operation of the invention.

[0018] FIGS. 3A and 3B illustrate a pictorial and a working view of an embodiment of the invention utilizing gears for the raising/lowering of the umbrella.

[0019] FIG. 4 illustrates an embodiment of the invention in which operation of the mechanism is accomplished through a coin-operated mechanism.

[0020] FIG. 5 illustrates the placement of sensors to control movement of the electric motor to prevent damaging the mechanism.

[0021] FIG. 6 illustrates an embodiment of the invention in which a light is incorporated into the umbrella.

[0022] FIG. 7 illustrates a kit which is used to upgrade an existing umbrella.

DRAWINGS IN DETAIL

[0023] FIGS. 1A and 1B illustrate a pictorial and working views of an embodiment of the invention.

[0024] FIG. 1A shows umbrella 10 in an open position. Struts 6, secured to slide 11, maintain umbrella 10 in the open position. Movement of slide 11 along pole 18, as shown by arrow 5, will open or close umbrella 10. Movement 5 is effectuated by cables 16A which pull slide 11 up; releasing cables 16A allow slide 11 to fall (due to gravity).

[0025] Pole 18 is secured to stand 12. Stand 12 contains switch 13 which is used to activate the internal motor 19. Solar cells 14 provide a current to recharge the internal battery 9.

[0026] Inlet 15 is used to fill internal water reservoir 7, thereby providing ballast to stand 12 to keep it from tipping.

[0027] FIG. 1B illustrates the internal mechanisms and operation of this embodiment.

[0028] Within stand 12 is switch 13 which is used to selectively communicate power from battery 9 to electric motor 19. Switch 13 allows the user to define the direction of the current flow; thereby allowing the user to control the direction of rotation of motor 19.

[0029] Pulley 8 is connected to motor 19. Cables 16B are attached to pulley 8. Rotation of pulley 8 causes cables 16B to either retract or to be fed therefrom. Cables 16B extend through the interior of pole 18 and then exit from the top of pole 18, around pulley 17 to then connect as cables 16A with slide 11.

[0030] In this manner, the user is able to operate switch 13 to either raise or lower slide 11; which, in turn either opens or closes umbrella 10.

[0031] Inlet 15 allows the user to add water to water reservoir 7 to provide ballast to stand 12. When empty, the assembly is more easily moved; when full, the assembly is properly weighted.

[0032] FIG. 2 illustrates the preferred embodiment's use of a hand-held transmitter used for operation of the invention.

[0033] In this embodiment of the invention, hand-held transmitter 20 sends radio signal 22 to radio receiver 21 within stand 23. User 26 is able to select button 25A (for down) or button 25B (for up). Radio receiver 21 is responsive to radio signal 22 and serves the same function as switch 24 outlined in FIGS. 1A and 1B; thereby permitting user 26 to remotely raise or lower the umbrella (not shown in this figure).

[0034] This embodiment is particularly useful for resorts, allowing the staff to remotely open the outdoor umbrellas without having to open each one individually. In this application, a resort, the coding of hand-held transmitter 20 is such that a single hand-held transmitter 20 is able to communicate with numerous umbrellas. While FIG. 2 illustrates only a single umbrella being affected, the invention includes multiple umbrellas being controlled by a single transmitter.

[0035] This embodiment is also useful in lowering an umbrella after everyone has retired to the house and forgotten to lower the umbrella; thereby saving the home-owner the effort of traveling back to the umbrella.

[0036] FIGS. 3A and 3B illustrate a pictorial and a working view of an embodiment of the invention utilizing gears for the raising/lowering of the umbrella.

[0037] In these illustrations, umbrella 30 is in a closed or down position. Umbrella 30 is supported by pole 31 which attaches to base 33 with table 34 thereon.

[0038] Contained within base 33 is motor 32 which is powered by traditional household current 35.

[0039] Rotation of motor 32 causes worm drive 36 to rotate as indicated by arrow 38A. Worm drive 36 engages gear 37. Rotation 38A causes gear 37 to either raise or lower 38B (depending on the direction of rotation 38A).

[0040] Gear 37 engages the lift mechanism for umbrella 30; hence, as gear 37 rises or lowers, a corresponding action occurs in umbrella 30.

[0041] This embodiment provides for affirmative powered movement of the umbrella as this embodiment does not rely upon gravity.

[0042] FIG. 4 illustrates an embodiment of the invention in which operation of the mechanism is accomplished through a coin-operated mechanism.

[0043] Pole 40 is mounted to base 46 with table 41 thereon. Coin receiving mechanism 40A accepts coins via coin deposit 40B and communicates the event to computer 42. The coins are stored in coin reservoir 40C.

[0044] Computer 42, upon the event of the payment of the coins, activates motor 44 which drives pulley 45 as outlined relative to the embodiment of FIGS. 1A and 1B. This causes the umbrella on pole 40 (not shown) to raise. As the umbrella is raised, computer 42 causes speaker 43 to emit a warning signal that the umbrella is being raised to keep the user from being contacted by the umbrella as it raises.

[0045] Speaker 43 is also used to produce music and messages.

[0046] Computer 42 maintains a countdown time monitor. When the specified time has elapsed fro the opening of the umbrella (corresponding to the amount of payment received), computer 42 causes motor 44 to lower the umbrella and a warning signal is generated by speaker 43. In this way, a user is able to pay for a specified amount of time for the shade and have the umbrella automatically deployed and retracted.

[0047] This embodiment is particularly useful for resorts and beach front restaurants.

[0048] FIG. 5 illustrates the placement of sensors to control movement of the electric motor to prevent damaging the mechanism.

[0049] This safety feature is designed to keep the motor from moving the umbrella too far in either direction. While FIG. 5 illustrates one such mechanism for this purpose, those of ordinary skill in the art readily recognize that a variety of other mechanisms will work in this capacity.

[0050] Pole 50 supports the umbrella (not shown) which is deployed by raising or lowering slide 51 as indicated by arrows 53 (as discussed above). At an upper bound, sensor 52A is II depressed by slide 51. Depression of sensor 52A causes the motor to stop its upward movement; also, the circuitry is switched so that the motor will only operate in the opposing direction.

[0051] In like manner, sensor 52B defines a lower limit for slide 51. Again, when sensor 52B is engaged by slide 51, the motor is stopped and the circuitry is altered so that the motor will only operate to raise slide 51.

[0052] In this fashion, slide 51 is kept within a defined range on pole 50. With the range having an upper limit where the umbrella is fully opened, and at a lower limit where the umbrella is fully closed.

[0053] FIG. 6 illustrates an embodiment of the invention in which a light is incorporated into the umbrella.

[0054] Pole 61 is used to support umbrella 60. Connected to pole 61 is light fixture 63 which draws its energy from the power source within the stand. Light fixture 63 is activated by ambient light sensor 62, which is exposed when umbrella 60 is fully open. If the ambient light is dim, then light fixture is activated.

[0055] Open/closed sensor 64 (similar to that shown in FIG. 5) identifies when umbrella is closed. In a closed state, open/closed sensor 64 stops the electrical energy to both ambient light sensor 62 and light 63, thereby effectively preventing light 63 from being activated when umbrella 60 is closed.

[0056] FIG. 7 illustrates a replacement kit which is used to upgrade an existing umbrella.

[0057] In this kit embodiment of the invention, the existing pole for the umbrella is separated into section 70A and 70B. Section 70A has hand-crank 81 therein. Hand-crank 81 is used to manually raise and lower the umbrella (not shown).

[0058] Kit section 71 is slid over the top of pole section 70B as illustrated by arrows 80B; and pole section 70A is slid into kit section 71 as illustrated by arrows 80A. When fully engaged, worm gear 78 engages the mechanism controlled by hand-crank 81; thereby allowing movement of worm gear 78 to raise and lower the umbrella.

[0059] Kit section 71 has within it, motor 77 which is powered by battery 76. Battery 76 is recharged by solar panel 72.

[0060] Operation of electric motor 77 is done by either switch 73 or hand-held transmitter 74 which communicates with receiver 75.

[0061] Kit section 71 also includes table 79.

[0062] In application of this kit, the user obtains the kit having kit section 71 and hand-held transmitter 74 and installs the entire assembly as outlined above to convert an existing umbrella into a motorized one.

[0063] It is clear the present invention provides for a highly improved free standing umbrella.