Title:
Shock damping entertainment mount for exercise equipment
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A shock damping mount for connecting an entertainment system, such as a television, to an exercise device, such as a treadmill, to decrease the motion of the treadmill that would otherwise be incident on the entertainment system. The device specifically utilizes a damping bracket having both a rotational connection and a spring connection that damps impact-generated motion generated by the user prior to it reaching the entertainment system.



Inventors:
Green, David (St. Charles, MO, US)
Pittaway, James (Lake Saint Louis, MO, US)
Application Number:
11/378594
Publication Date:
09/20/2007
Filing Date:
03/17/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
482/54
International Classes:
A63B71/00; A63B22/02
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20030216228Systems and methods of sports training using specific biofeedbackNovember, 2003Rast
20060217247Elastic exercise apparatusSeptember, 2006Potak et al.
20070105695Exercise apparatus for exercising lower limbsMay, 2007Susta
20090298652Swim Training Device and MethodDecember, 2009Lessard
20090111659Trampoline enclosure netApril, 2009Xiang
20070219076Yoga BlockSeptember, 2007Axelrod
20040009854Method and apparatus for training muscle strength through progressive resistance exerciseJanuary, 2004Shiang et al.
20070149360Device for monitoring a user's postureJune, 2007Narayanaswami



Primary Examiner:
TECCO, ANDREW M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LEWIS RICE LLC (ATTN: BOX IP DEPT. 600 WASHINGTON AVE. SUITE 2500, ST LOUIS, MO, 63101, US)
Claims:
1. A shock damping mount for attaching an entertainment device to an exercise machine, the mount comprising: a frame, said frame capable of supporting said entertainment device in a position whereby said entertainment device can be viewed by a user using said exercise machine; a mounting structure, said mounting structure serving to attach said entertainment device to said frame; a first connection plate, said first connection plate being rotationally connected to said exercise device about a generally horizontal axis of rotation, said first plate being capable of rotating about said generally horizontal axis of rotation; a second plate, said second plate being connected to said exercise device via at least one spring and said second plate being rigidly connected to said first connection plate; wherein, when said first connection plate rotates about said horizontal axis of rotation, said second connection plate rotates in a generally vertical arc; and wherein said spring is positioned so that at least a portion of the restoring force of said spring acts on said second connection plate when said second connection plate moves in said generally vertical arc.

2. The mount of claim 1 wherein said second plate is generally perpendicular to said first plate.

3. The mount of claim 1 wherein said entertainment device comprises a television.

4. The mount of claim 1 wherein said entertainment device comprises a DVD player.

5. The mount of claim 1 wherein said frame is generally Y-shaped.

6. The mount of claim 5 wherein said frame attaches to said exercise machine via two parallel supports on said exercise machine.

7. The mount of claim 6 wherein said two parallel supports support a console for operation of said exercise machine.

8. The mount of claim 6 wherein said first plate attaches to the inside surfaces of said two supports.

9. The mount of claim 1 wherein said second plate connects to said exercise machine via a compression structure, the compression structure comprising two rubber disks with the second plate arranged between said discs.

10. The mount of claim 9 wherein said compression structure is one of two compression structures connecting said second plate to said exercise machine.

11. The mount of claim 1 wherein said spring comprises a reliantly deformable material expressing spring behavior.

12. The mount of claim 1 wherein said at least one spring comprises two springs, said springs arranged so that one of said springs is compressed while the other is extended when said second plate moves in said generally vertical arc.

13. The mount of claim 1 wherein said at least one spring comprises four springs, said springs being arranged so that two of said springs are compressed while the other two are extended when said second plate moves in said generally vertical arc.

14. The mount of claim 1 wherein said at least one spring comprises four springs, said springs being arranged so that all four of said springs are compressed when said second plate moves in said generally vertical arc.

15. The mount of claim 1 wherein said exercise machine is a treadmill.

16. A shock damping mount for attaching an entertainment device to an exercise machine, the mount comprising: support means for supporting said entertainment device in a position whereby said entertainment device can be viewed by a user using said exercise machine; mounting means for attach said entertainment device to said support means; a first connection means for rotationally connecting said support means to said exercise device; a second connection means for connecting said support means to said exercise device via at least one spring in a manner such that when said support means rotates via said first connection means, at least a portion of the restoring force of said spring resists said rotation.

17. The mount of claim 16 wherein said exercise machine is a treadmill.

18. A combination of a treadmill and an attached television system, the combination comprising: a treadmill, said treadmill having a deck, a belt, two generally vertical supports, and a console; a damping mount, said damping mount being attached to said treadmill at said supports by damping brackets; each of said brackets including: a rotational connection to a support; and a spring connection to a support; and a television attached to said damping mount.

19. The combination of claim 18 further comprising a DVD player electronically attached to said television and attached to said damping mount.

Description:

BACKGROUND

1. Field of the Invention

This disclosure relates to the field of shock damping mounts for use with exercise equipment. In particular, to shock damping mounts used to support electronic entertainment devices such as televisions.

2. Description of the Related Art

The benefits of regular aerobic exercise on individuals of any age is well documented in fitness science. Aerobic exercise can dramatically improve cardiac stamina and function, as well as leading to weight loss, increased metabolism and other benefits. At the same time, many people find the act of exercising tedious and time-consuming and will put off regular exercise because they simply don't enjoy it.

In order to make exercise more interesting as an activity, exercise is often obtained as part of an athletic pursuit which is found enjoyable. This can comprise more solitary pursuits, such as running, biking, or skiing or can comprise more interactive pursuits like athletic games. Many people find this form of exercise to be sufficiently rewarding to engage in it on a regular basis. Often the activity is entertaining because of the nature of the interaction with others, the competitive nature of some of these activities, or simply because the athletic pursuit allows the user to be in a desirable location.

These types of exercise, however, are often difficult to obtain and may not lend themselves to a regular exercise regimen. In particular, many of these pursuits require significant space to perform and others can only easily be performed outside. Therefore, weather and other factors beyond the control of the user can inhibit their ability to obtain the exercise. Other activities require scheduling with numerous other individuals which requires potentially complex coordination. To get around these problems, most individuals in today's society that are attempting to maintain an exercise regimen will utilize some form of exercise machine for at least some part of their exercise activity.

Machines provide a number of benefits over interactive or outdoor activities. In the first instance, an exercise machine can allow the user to perform the exercise in a relatively small amount of space. This can allow the exercise to be performed in the home or can allow a large number of people to perform the exercise simultaneously in a community gym or health facility. Secondly, as these machines can be used indoors, the machines can be used at virtually any time desired by the user, for as long as they desire, and without having to rely on other's schedules, the weather, or other difficult to control factors to be able to exercise. Machines therefore make it much easier for the exercise regimen to be regular and habitual by allowing users to schedule their planned exercise time in advance.

While working out on a machine has a number of benefits in both convenience and ease of use, it is often the case that exercising on an exercise machine is significantly less interesting than participating in an interactive athletic activity or exercising outside. The machine is static, solitary, and will generally only have a limited view. A user on a machine will, therefore, not necessarily find the exercise as rewarding, or as engaging, as they do when performing other forms of exercise.

To try and make the exercise more interesting, most exercise machines and gyms provide various forms of distraction for the user while performing the exercise. This distraction is often visual entertainment providing the user something to focus on instead of simply thinking about the repetitive exercise motion. In its simplest form, the exercise machine can simply have a rack on which the user can place reading material to read while they are exercising. This often works well as a distraction, however, in many cases, the exercise is sufficiently rigorous that the exercise machine will shake while the exercise is being performed. The user may also be bouncing or otherwise moving sufficiently quickly to not be able to hold their head steady. This movement can make it difficult for a user to focus on the reading material during their exercising and can prevent them from using reading for entertainment.

To try and provide for further entertainment alternatives, many gyms and some individuals in their home utilize electronic devices to provide entertainment. These can range from simple portable music devices, to complex television and DVD setups. Particularly in gyms, the more complex these systems, the less individualized they are generally. For instance, an individual is likely to have their own music system which they can bring with them but will often be forced to utilize the same television and DVD system as other users as the system will often be provided generally for all the gym users.

While whole gym systems provide for a reasonably cost effective way to provide entertainment, they suffer from a number of problems. Firstly, each individual exerciser cannot select the content they wish to view, but instead are provided only the content that is made available. In the event that the user finds the content unengaging it will often not serve as the distraction that it is intended for. This can particularly be a problem because content selected usually needs to be acceptable to a wide range of people. Further, it may not always be easy to see or hear a television in a gym or other area where it is shared by a number of machines.

The problem with providing content to each individual user has been two fold. In the first instance, electronic devices, such as televisions, were simply too large and heavy to be attached individually to exercise machines. The weight of the devices would make the machines unstable, or overly heavy and cumbersome. This problem, however, has recently been eliminated by the commercialization of so called “flat panel” TVs which do not require the traditional cathode ray tube. Further, miniaturization of recording and playback devices have also occurred in recent years. This has made the devices sufficiently small, and sufficiently inexpensive, that they can be mounted directly to individual exercise machines.

While it is now cost effective to mount televisions to individual exercise machines, this mounting has brought a second issue to light. When exercise machines are used they will often bounce or move in response to the user's movement on them. This is particularly true on treadmills because the user's movement is not guided through a pattern with their feet or arms staying in relatively constant contact with an arm of the machine (such as on a stationary bicycle) but the user is actually running on top of the machine. Therefore, each foot strike produces an impact on the machine which jars the machine during its operation.

While a lot of this impact can be absorbed by the structure of the machine, electronic devices mounted to a treadmill frame have traditionally been exposed to a rather large amount of shock and vibration. In order to place a television in an easily viewable position, it is generally the case that the television is mounted to the treadmill by either a relatively rigid connection, which will directly transfer shock and vibration from the treadmill to the television, or by an arm which will end up acting as a lever arm. This can both directly transfer impact, and can also provide for oscillatory movement.

Regardless of which method is used, the television will generally experience significant vibration and abrupt motion transitions due to the impact type of motion from the user's feet. Further, these impacts will usually be directly translated through the rigid frame of the machine and the support to the television.

Damage to devices generally occurs not because the device is moving, but is caused instead by the rate of acceleration or deceleration imposed on it (relative to its inertia). With regards to an electronic device, if the device is slowly and smoothly accelerated, it will rarely be damaged by the acceleration as the acceleration is translated relatively smoothly through its components. However, if the electronic device is sharply impacted or is otherwise suddenly accelerated or decelerated, their can be internal strain on electronic components as rigid internal structures attempt to transfer the motion. Because of this fact, many electronic components which are mounted directly to exercise devices, particularly to treadmills, have their useable life significantly decreased. The steady pounding impact of the user's feet into the treadmill is translated to the electronics which are literally shaken apart.

SUMMARY

Because of these and other problems in the art, described herein, among other things, is an entertainment system shock damping mount designed for use with an exercise machine. The mount serves to damp the sudden impact type of motion, as well as damping general motion, created when a user on the exercise machine exercises so as to provide for a smoother (and often decreased) motion of the entertainment system. This is designed to provide for less impact motion (causing sudden acceleration and deceleration) on electronic devices attached via the mount which will generally improve their usable life.

Described herein, amongst other things, is a shock damping mount for attaching an entertainment device to an exercise machine, the mount comprising: a frame, the frame capable of supporting the entertainment device in a position whereby the entertainment device can be viewed by a user using the exercise machine; a mounting structure, the mounting structure serving to attach the entertainment device to the frame; a first connection plate, the first connection plate being rotationally connected to the exercise device about a generally horizontal axis of rotation, the first plate being capable of rotating about the generally horizontal axis of rotation; a second plate, the second plate being connected to the exercise device via at least one spring and the second plate being rigidly connected to the first connection plate; wherein, when the first connection plate rotates about the horizontal axis of rotation, the second connection plate rotates in a generally vertical arc; and wherein the spring is positioned so that at least a portion of the restoring force of the spring acts on the second connection plate when the second connection plate moves in the generally vertical arc.

In various embodiments of the mount the second plate is generally perpendicular to the first plate, the entertainment device comprises a television and DVD player, the exercise machine is a treadmill, and the spring comprises a reliantly deformable material expressing spring behavior.

In another embodiment of the mount the frame is generally Y-shaped and may attach to the exercise machine via two parallel vertical supports on the exercise machine which support a console for operation of the exercise machine. The first plate may attach to the inside surfaces of those supports.

In another embodiment of the mount the second plate connects to the exercise machine via a compression structure, the compression structure comprising two rubber disks with the second plate arranged between the discs. The compression structure may be one of two compression structures connecting the second plate to the exercise machine.

In another embodiment of the mount the at least one spring comprises two springs, the springs arranged so that one of the springs is compressed while the other is extended when the second plate moves in the generally vertical arc; the at least one spring comprises four springs, the springs being arranged so that two of the springs are compressed while the other two are extended when the second plate moves in the generally vertical arc; or the at least one spring comprises four springs, the springs being arranged so that all four of the springs are compressed when the second plate moves in the generally vertical arc.

There is also described herein a shock damping mount for attaching an entertainment device to an exercise machine such as, but not limited to, a treadmill, the mount comprising: support means for supporting the entertainment device in a position whereby the entertainment device can be viewed by a user using the exercise machine; mounting means for attach the entertainment device to the support means; a first connection means for rotationally connecting the support means to the exercise device; a second connection means for connecting the support means to the exercise device via at least one spring in a manner such that when the support means rotates via the first connection means, at least a portion of the restoring force of the spring resists the rotation.

There is also described herein the combination of a treadmill and an attached television system, the combination comprising: a treadmill, the treadmill having a deck, a belt, two generally vertical supports, and a console; a damping mount, the damping mount being attached to the treadmill at the supports by damping brackets; each of the brackets including: a rotational connection to a support; and a spring connection to a support; and a television attached to the damping mount. The combination may also include a DVD player electronically attached to the television and attached to the damping mount.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a front perspective view of an embodiment of an exercise machine, such as a treadmill, having an embodiment of an entertainment system shock mount and television in place.

FIG. 2 shows a perspective view of an embodiment of a damping bracket when the mount is separated from the supports separated from the exercise device with the compression structure shown in an exploded view.

FIG. 3 shows a perspective view of a compression structure which can be used with an embodiment of the shock mount.

FIG. 4 shows a front perspective view of the television mounting structure with the protective cover removed.

FIG. 5 shows the treadmill of FIG. 1 folded up as it may be for storage or transport.

DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENT(S)

The invention disclosed herein primarily relates to a shock damping mount for attaching an entertainment system, generally which is electronic in nature, to an exercise device. The mount is not designed to prevent the electronic device from being exposed to any forces or to not move, but instead serves to damp motion, particularly sharp or sudden forces that are more likely to result in damage to electronic components. Generally, this type of attachment will be most useful on exercise devices that experience more sudden type motions such as from impacts of the user. The damping facet of the device, therefore, does not serve to eliminate motion. Instead the motion is generally made smoother than would be the case if a rigid mount is used. The smoother motion will generally result in less internal strain on the electronic entertainment system and an increased useful life.

Throughout this disclosure, the mount will be discussed as being mounted on a treadmill (101) such as that shown in FIGS. 1 and 5. In different embodiments, the shock damping mount can be attached to any kind of exercise machine, such as, but not limited to, elliptical devices, stair-steppers, stationary bikes, and treadmills. Treadmills, in particular, are prone to experiencing sudden or sharp motions and are therefore used as the example exercise machine herein. The treadmill (101) is a particularly valuable example because the user does not engage in a smooth motion guided by the machine on a treadmill (101) but instead runs on the moving belt of a treadmill (101). Each foot strike of the user, while running or even walking, provides a relatively sudden impact onto the treadmill (101) deck which effectively drives the treadmill (101) into the ground by the weight of the user. This impact is absorbed by many shock absorbing systems in the treadmill (101) and the treadmill's (101) mass, however, these systems will still generally cause the treadmill (101) to bounce and to transfer motion throughout its structure. These bounces will generally be relatively regular but will be marked by the sudden impact transitions present from the foot strikes. In effect, the treadmill (101) becomes a driven oscillator.

In FIG. 1, the treadmill (101) includes an entertainment system (901) mounted on an embodiment of a shock damping mount (201). The treadmill is of known construction and may be any form of treadmill known to one of ordinary skill in the art. The treadmill (101) will generally include a deck which will provide support for the moving belt. The treadmill (101) will also generally comprise some form of supports (107) which serve to hold a console (109) and user handgrips (105). The console (109) is the control panel of the treadmill (101) where the user can program the speed and incline of the treadmill (101) amongst other things. In most treadmills, supports (107) comprise two generally parallel vertical supports (107A) and (107B) located on either side of the belt. This structure is generally preferred as it allows the users legs to pass under the console (109) and keeps the user from hitting the supports (107) by placing them to the side of the walking or running motion which takes place over the belt.

The entertainment system (901) of FIG. 1 comprises a television (903) along with a secondary control panel (905) which is attached below the television (903). The secondary control panel (905) simply places controls for the television at a position more readily accessible to a user of the treadmill (101) to make it easier for them to operate the television (903). It may also provide for hookups for headphones or other devices to allow the user to interact with the television (903). In an embodiment, the entertainment system (906) may also comprise a playback device, such as, but not limited to, a video cassette recorder (VCR) or digital video disc (DVD) player which may be separable from or part of the television (903). These devices can allow a user to supply their own entertainment in the form of prerecorded content that can be played instead of relying on broadcast or cable television channels.

The entertainment system (901) will generally be attached to the treadmill (101) by the shock damping mount (201). In the depicted embodiment, the damping mount (201) comprises a generally rigid frame (209) which is attached to the treadmill (101) supports (107) by damping brackets (203). The damping brackets (203) are preferably used to connect the frame (209) to the treadmill (101) to provide damping to the motion of the entire frame (209) relative to the motion of the treadmill (101) and this is the case in the embodiment of FIG. 1. Further, in the embodiment of FIG. 1, the frame (209) is attached to two mounting brackets (203), each of which connects to one of the supports (107). The left and right brackets (203) are generally mirror images of each other. The bracket (203) of FIG. 2 is therefore mirrored when placed on the other support (107). One of ordinary skill in the art would recognize that the damping brackets (203) described herein, could be used at any point between the treadmill (101) deck and the entertainment system (901) as the brackets (203) are intended to damp the motion imparted on the treadmill (101) deck from reaching the entertainment system (901). Therefore, in alternative embodiments, the damping brackets (203) could be located at a position other than for connecting the frame (209) to the supports (107). Further, it is not necessary to use two damping brackets (203). In an alternative more or less than two brackets (203) can be used.

The damping bracket (203) is designed to provide two different types of connections which serve to provide for the damping effect as shown best in FIGS. 1 and 2. In particular, the damping bracket (203) includes a spring connection (205) and a rotational connection (207). These connections work together to help to damp the motion imparted by the user to the treadmill (101) to protect the entertainment system (901). The damping bracket (203), in the embodiment of FIG. 1 is partially covered by a cover (103) which has been shown in an exploded position so as to reveal the operating components. This cover (103) can serve to protect the user from possible pinch points created by the lever action of the frame (209) (as discussed later) and also to improve the appearance of the treadmill (101).

In order to explain the damping performed by the mount (201) clearly, it is best to first provide an indication of the type of motion that will generally be imparted by the user to the treadmill (101) and how the entertainment system (901) is affected by that motion. As should be apparent from FIG. 1, the entertainment system (901) is supported in a generally elevated position on the treadmill (101) by the mount (201) so as to be at a reasonable eye level for a good percentage of users. The entertainment system (901) also has a non-negligible mass. This results in the mount (201), and possibly the supports (107), effectively acting as a lever arm for the mass. The user is also impacting the deck of the treadmill (101) regularly which causes the supports (107), and thus the frame (209) which is attached, to bounce up-and-down in an oscillating vertical motion. In the event that the connection between treadmill (101) and mount (201) is rigid, the impact and oscillatory motion is transferred directly. In this situation, the entertainment system (901), mounted at the proximal end (401) of the mount (201) will oscillate in an upward and downward fashion in conjunction with the foot strikes of the user. Generally, this motion will include “shocks” due to the impacts of the user's feet driving the oscillation. In particular, the treadmill (101) deck will generally be forced suddenly downward when the impact of the foot occurs. It will then return back upward in a more regular fashion before being suddenly driven downward again by the next foot strike.

Because the entertainment system (901) is effectively on a lever by being positioned as shown, the foot strikes will end up giving the entertainment system (901) a generally up-and-down type of driven motion with the driving force coming from sudden downward impacts. This impact motion is problematic because each time the entertainment system (901) experiences a shock, internal components of the entertainment system (901), and actually the frame (209) as a whole are strained by attempting to translate the impact into motion. That is, components having an internal inertia will have that inertia changed rapidly, which can damage them.

This up-and-down oscillating motion is by far the most common and strongest type of motion that the entertainment system (901) will experience. Further, every foot strike will generally involve a violent driving force. This sudden shock will generally become greater the faster the user is running on the treadmill (101) as the frequency of their foot strikes will generally increase and the individual force exerted by each foot strike will generally increase.

In addition to this up-and-down oscillating motion, the entertainment system (901) will also experience some side-to-side sway. This motion exists because the user's feet will not consistently land in the center line of the belt. As their foot strikes fall off center, the treadmill (101) will also sway slightly from side-to-side. This motion will generally be significantly less than the motion imparted in the up-and-down direction as basically the entire force of the impact is still downward, the side-to-side component only exists because compensation for the impact isn't equal between the two sides of the deck on each step, instead, one side will generally be forced to compensate more, then the other will be forced to compensate more, and so on. This motion, while also oscillatory, is not characterized by the sudden impact type of motion as much as the up-and-down motion is characterized by it. While the impact creating the motion is still sharp, the very nature of the movement of the rocking motion of the treadmill (101) deck will serve to smooth this out more than it smoothes out the up-and-down component of the motion.

In the depicted embodiment, the mount (201) comprises a tubular frame (209) of a generally “Y” shape which is attached to the supports (107) of the treadmill (101). As mentioned earlier, each arm of the Y is attached to a different support (107). The mount (201) includes a damping bracket (203) at each arm of the Y which is used to attach the mount (201) to the support (107). One of these damping brackets (203) is shown in further detail in FIG. 2. The Y-shape of the frame (209) is not required but it is preferable in a situation where there are two spaced supports (107) so that the mount (201) attaches to both the brackets (203). It should be immediately apparent that if the mount (201) only attaches to a single of the supports (107), the up-and-down motion of the entertainment system (901) will result in the television (903) screen moving within the plane of the screen due to the lever arm created. This type of motion is likely to be quite distracting when attempting to watch the television (903). Further, the lever is generally longer and narrower which is likely to result in more motion. In the depicted embodiment, the up-and-down motion is generally expressed by more back-to-front motion (perpendicular to the plane of the screen) which is expected to be easier to watch.

In an alternative embodiment, the mount (201) can be attached at a single point to the console (109) or even to the treadmill (101) deck. While this is useable in an alternative embodiment, it is generally not preferred. By spacing the brackets (203) horizontally, the mount (201) provides improved side-to-side stability. This will make the mount (203) be generally unable to significantly bend or flex in its own structure due to the side-to-side motion of the treadmill (101). As the motion side-to-side is significantly less problematic than the motion up-and-down, a rigid connection is often desirable.

As discussed above, the entertainment system (901) has a non-negligible, and often quite significant, mass. Regardless of how strong the mount (201) is made, the mount (201) will generally have a relatively narrow cross section so as to make it reasonably cost effective to construct. Further, making the structure of the frame (209) sufficiently rigid to avoid any type of bending, will also mean more impact shock can transfer through it to the entertainment system (901). The Y-shape effectively massively increases the cross section in one direction. In this way, the mount (201) itself is not generally capable of imparting additional motion due to the lever arm construction in that direction, but also generally transfers the motion as a relatively rigid body. As the side-to-side motion is of less concern for damaging the entertainment system (901), there is generally not a major concern for risk of damage from such motion. In the depicted embodiment, this direction is also across the direction of belt travel. Such an arrangement means that the frame (209) is not able to magnify the side-to-side rocking motion imparted on it by the machine, but is instead relatively rigidly positioned. At the same time, as discussed above, the side-to-side motion is generally smoother than the up-and-down motion and is already less of a concern.

At the proximal end (401) of the frame (209) (the base of the Y) there is attached a mounting structure (411) which is used to attach the components of the entertainment system (901) to the frame (209). An embodiment of this mounting structure (411) is best shown in FIG. 4 and is designed to allow for the attachment of a flat panel television (903), DVD player (which may be internal to the television (903)), and/or other entertainment device (901). As shown in FIG. 4, the mounting structure (411) may be attached to the frame (209) via a rotational connection (413) to allow for the television (903) or other display of the entertainment device (901) to be rotated by the user to a desirable viewing position based on their height when they are on the treadmill (101). Further, the attachment may include one or more friction pads (415) which serve to resist free motion of the mounting structure (411) relative to the frame (209). In this way the viewing angle of the entertainment system (901) can be moved by the intentional application of force by the user to move the television (903), but the television (903) will generally be prevented from moving on its own by being held rigidly by the friction pads (415).

The mounting structure (411) will generally comprise a relatively rigid mount for the entertainment device (901) so as to make sure that it cannot shake loose of the mounting structure (411) and fall off. In the depicted embodiment, this comprises a generally C-shaped clamp formed of top support (421) and bottom support (423) that serves to contact the top and bottom of the television (903) to hold it rigidly to the mounting structure (411). There may also be included additional mounts upon which controls for the TV, a DVD player or similar playback device, or other structures can further be mounted.

At the distal ends (403) of the frame (the top of the Y) there are provided the damping brackets (203) which serve to connect the frame (209) to the treadmill (101). The damping brackets (203) each provide for two different forms of connection as discussed above. There is a rotational connection (207) which generally has its axis (237) arranged perpendicularly to the motion of the belt and the up-and-down motion of the deck and television (903) and there is a spring connection (205) which will serve to resist motion using the restoring force of a spring. This arrangement will be further described as the motion imparted to the damping bracket (203) is discussed.

In order to attach to the supports (107), the damping bracket (203) generally comprises two plates, the first plate (227) provides for the rotational connection (207) while the second plate (225) provides for the spring connection (205). The second plate (225) is generally rigidly attached directly to the distal ends (403) of the frame and cuts across the tubular structure of the frame (209) as shown in the FIGS. In the depicted embodiment, the structure intersects at an angle other than 90 degrees, but in an alternative embodiment, the intersection may be perpendicular. The first plate (227) is generally elongated and arranged generally perpendicular to the second plate (225) so as to extend a distance from the connection point to the frame (209). In the depicted embodiment, this second plate (225) is arranged to extend across the frame (209) and is arranged generally perpendicular to the plane of the first plate (227).

The arrangement of the two plates is not specifically required, however, but such an arrangement does serve, in an embodiment, to provide for the arrangement of connections (205) and (207) which meets the preferred arrangement discussed below for the connections (205) and (207).

The rotational connection (207) between the frame (209) and the treadmill (101) is provided by the first plate (227). The rotational connection (207) is arranged so that the axis of rotation (237) is generally perpendicular to the direction of motion of the belt and generally perpendicular to the motion to be principally damped. As this is vertical motion in this case, the axis (237) is arranged generally horizontally. The rotational connection comprises some form of connector (247) forming the axis (237). In this case, it is a cylindrical bar or other connector which is connected toward the distal end (257) of the first plate (227) through a hole (267). In the depicted embodiment, this connection is made on the surfaces of the supports (107) which face each other over the treadmill (101) deck. That is, the inside surfaces (171) of the supports (107). The inside connection is not required but is generally preferred for aesthetic reasons. The first plate (227) is capable of rotation about the axis (237) so as to transcribe at least a portion of a circle.

The first plate (227) also includes two washers (277) which are constructed generally of a compressible material and in effect act like small springs. In the depicted embodiment, the washers (277) actually comprise a barbell structure forming a small compression structure (301) such as the one shown in FIG. 3. In this way, side-to-side rocking motion of the supports (107) can be damped before being provided to the bracket (201). The side-to-side damping generally works in a similar fashion to the spring connection (205) discussed later for the up-and-down damping, and therefore is not discussed here in detail.

The rotational connection (207) serves to provide a constraint on the up-and-down motion of the entertainment system (901). In particular, the entertainment system (901) will effectively bounce up-and-down, however each individual oscillation, if the mount was not constrained, can be in a slightly different direction meaning that the motion is free in all three dimensions. The rotational connection (207) provides that the motion is generally constrained to be rotational motion in a portion of the arc defined about the rotational axis (237). It should also be apparent that the motion about the rotational axis (237) is generally toward and away from the supports (107) by the placement of the rotational axis (237) in the damping bracket (203).

The second connection is the spring connection (205) which will serve to provide at least one spring (215) having a restoring force to damp motion toward and away from the support (107). In particular, as discussed above, the rotational connection (207) of the damping bracket (213) serves to generally constrain the motion of the frame (209) caused by the impacts to be generally around the axis (237) of the rotational connection (207). As the first plate (227) is rigidly connected to the second plate (225), this means that the second plate (225) will generally be constrained to move in a generally vertical arc (as the axis (237) is generally horizontal) under the force of the impact. The spring connector (205) is arranged so that the restoring force of the spring (215) will be applied to the second plate (225) as it attempts to move through this arc. The spring (215) will therefore be mounted in fashion so that the restoring force it exerts is generally perpendicular to the axis (237) of the rotational connection (207). In the depicted embodiment, the spring connection (205) actually comprises four functional springs (215) which are arranged as part of two compression structures (301). One compression structure (301) is placed on each side of the tubular structure of the frame (209) and attached to the second plate (225) as shown in FIG. 1. In the depicted embodiment, the compression structures (301) are arranged so that one is above the connection point of the bracket (203) to the distal end (403) of the frame (209) and the other is below the connection point. FIG. 2 only shows a single compression structure (301) in exploded view; however, there would normally be two, one at each of holes (311). An assembled compression structure (301) is shown in FIG. 3.

The embodiment of the spring connector (205) of FIGS. 2 and 3 comprises an arrangement (313) of resilient rubber or similar material discs (315) formed into a barbell shape. The shape comprises two discs (315A) and (315B) arranged at either end of the barbell, and a center support (317) connecting them. The components are arranged to have a pattern of raised ribs (319) on some of the surfaces thereof. The compression structures (301) are designed to act as a series of springs, that is to provide a restoring force. In this embodiment, the material is resiliently deformable and its deformation provides the restoring force allowing the discs (315) to each act as a spring when compressed. There is also included a rigid central tube (319) which provides support for the barbell shape as well as various mounting hardware including a screw (321) or other connection device and various washers (323) to provide for assembly of the compression structure (301) and connection of the compression structure (301) to the second plate (225) and to the supports (107). In the embodiment of FIG. 2, the screw (321) will provide for the connection directly into a mating hole in the support (107). Therefore, the second plate (225) is effectively suspended by the compression structures (301) when it is attached to the supports (107).

As should be apparent in FIGS. 1 and 2, the second plate is placed between the discs (315A) and (315B) of the barbell via holes (311) in the second plate (225) so as to be aligned with the second plate's (225) allowed arc of motion. In this way any movement of the second plate (225) about the axis (237) will result in the second plate (225) bearing into at least one of the discs (315A) and (315B) of the barbell. Further, as the second plate (225) is spaced from the axis (237) by the elongation of the first plate (227) and the connection location of the first plate (227) to the supports (107), any rotation of the frame (209) about the axis (237) will necessarily result in the second plate (225) being “bent” or “twisted” relative to the support (107). The second plate (225) will, therefore, always contact both barbells (mounted at both holes (311) in FIG. 2 as seen in FIG. 1), and in fact all four discs (315) that would be present, with any such movement.

While the embodiment of the compression structures (301) of FIGS. 2 and 3 provides an embodiment of the compression structure (301) that utilizes resilient “springy” materials (those that express spring behavior) to provide the spring connection (205), it should be apparent that the spring connection (205) may comprise any form of spring or spring-like structure including, without limitation, mechanical springs, electromagnetic springs, materials having spring properties,. or any combination thereof. Further, while the embodiment of FIGS. 2 and 3 includes four springs (215) arranged into two compression structures (301) whereby movement of the second plate (225) compresses all four springs, this is by no means necessary and the spring connection (205) may comprise any number of springs (215) arranged into any number of compression structures (301). Further, some or all of the springs may be compressed or extended by the motion of the second plate (225).

The four spring connection is, however, particularly useful as by offsetting the axis (237) from the second plate (225) by a distance, the second plate (225) will always effectively “tilt” as it tries to rotate about the axis (237). This tilt will therefore generally engage the restoring force of all four springs (215) simultaneously (either compressing all four or compressing two and extending two. The force is not necessarily equally disseminated as the compression structure (301) located closer to the axis (237) may have more force applied.

The lever motion of the frame is damped by the compression structures (301). In effect, the two compression structures (301) work together with the rotational connection (207) providing for most of the motion to be rotational about the axis (237), and the compression structures (301) being designed to damp motion about the axis (237). In particular, as the frame (209) tilts in the lever arm fashion, it will generally push one edge of the second plate (225) in toward the treadmill (101). Effectively this causes the second plate (225) to want to tilt relative to the support (107) of the treadmill (101) to which it is attached. By the inclusion of the two compression structures (301) holding the mount (201) to the supports (107), this type of motion will necessary drive one end of the second plate (225) into the disc (315A) of the barbell of the compression structure (301), while the other end is driven into the upper disc (315B) of the other compression structure (313). Further as the motion is rotational and not linear, the remaining sides of the second plate (225) will engage the remaining two discs as well. This structure will therefore provide for four separate returning forces on the lever action all of which oppose the motion of the frame (209). The opposing forces will result in a decrease in actual movement of the frame (209) and therefore the entertainment system (901).

It should be apparent that the frame (209) will essentially rock in a damped motion about the axis (237) with the compression structures (301) resisting the transference of all the motion of the treadmill (101) to the entertainment system (901). In addition, the use of springs (215) smoothes the motion of the frame (209). In effect, the frame (209) will oscillate due to the force applied by the user, but instead of the oscillation having clear sudden stops at either end of the oscillation because of being driven by the pounding motion of the user's steps, the entertainment system (901) will oscillate in a damped fashion where the motion generally may be slowed more gradually before it turns around and begins to oscillate the other direction. This will result in the entertainment system (901) experiencing less sharp impacts and protecting its internal electronics.

From Examining FIG. 1 in conjunction with FIGS. 2-3 it should be apparent how the impact force on the deck of the treadmill (101) is damped in operation of the entire system. In particular, the frame (209) is attached to the support (107) in a manner that utilizes the restoring force of a spring (215) to counter the impact force transferred by the treadmill (101) from the user's motion. As the force is translated to the supports (107), the supports (107) will generally move downward. This force will be translated to the frame (209) via the rotational axis (237) (which is relatively rigid) which will also pull the frame (209), and the entertainment system (901) downward. However, due to the mass of the entertainment system (901), the frame (209) will attempt to initiate a lever action relative to the support (107) (as the entertainment system (901) has a significant resting inertia). This lever action will be generally in a vertical plane and will result in rotation of the frame (209) about the axis (237). This rotational motion will cause the first plate (227) to rotate which in turn causes the second plate (227) to rotate and thus twist against the discs (315) which are compressed engaging their restoring force in the opposite direction to the force of the entertainment system (901) lever action on the frame (209).

Eventually, an equilibrium is reached on the oscillation of the deck from the impacts of the feet. At this time, the damping bracket (203) will essentially serve to smooth out the impacts of the feet by providing for a more regular oscillating motion of the entertainment system (901). That is, the damping bracket (203) will serve to impart only a damped motion to the entertainment system (901). In this way, the impact motion generated by the feet and the lever motion of the entertainment system (901) is damped and the entertainment system (901) experiences a decreased, and generally smoother, motion. This motion is generally not as hard on internal electronics of the entertainment system (901) and generally provides for an improved useful life of the entertainment system (901).

The mount (201) also serves to provide for damping with regards to side-to-side motion by having the motion of the first plate (227) in the side-to-side direction also have an essentially perpendicular spring restoring force to the spring connection (205). This second spring may be a similar structure (301) to the spring used on the spring connection (205) but will generally be smaller and simpler as there is simply less motion to damp. This motion is also generally of less concern as it is less likely to damage the entertainment device (901) and not as much damping is needed.

The inclusion of the rotational connection (207) and spring connection (205) together therefore imposes damping on the motion imparted to the entertainment device (901). It tends to focus the motion from the impacts into a lever motion about the axis (237), and then utilizes the restoring force of at least one spring (215) to counteract a portion of that motion.

FIG. 5 shows a still further benefit of the frame (209) shown and discussed above being attached via the damping bracket (203) to the supports (107) by a rotational connection (207) and spring connection (205). In particular, the frame (209) can be folded down about the rotational connection (207) without having to disconnect the mount (207) from the support (107). This allows the treadmill (101) to be folded up more compactly for storage or shipping. In this embodiment the second plate (225) has been disconnected from the treadmill (101) and the compression structures (301) have been removed from the second plate (225). The frame (209) was then rotated downward around the axis (237), which has allowed the frame (209) to now sit in closer proximity to the supports (107) of the treadmill (101). Those supports (107) have in turn been folded down the opposite direction and the resulting treadmill (101) has been packed as a more compact structure for storage or transportation.

While the above embodiments provide that the damping bracket (203) of the mount (201) be attached at the distal end (403) of the frame (209) and attached directly to the treadmill (101), this is by no means required. This damping bracket (203) placement is generally preferred as such an arrangement will provide for the most damping to the entertainment system (901) as it provides damping for the entire lever arm movement. However, in alternative embodiments, the damping bracket (203) may be placed anywhere between the treadmill (101) deck and the entertainment system (901). This can include, for example, at the yoke of the Y in the frame (209), or at the connection point of the mounting structure (411).

Regardless of placement, the general structure of the damping bracket (203) can remain the same with a rotational connector (207) whose axis (237) is perpendicular to the motion to be damped and a spring connection (205) including at least one spring (215) which will serve to provide a restoring force opposing movement of the entertainment system (901).

While the invention has been disclosed in connection with certain preferred embodiments, this should not be taken as a limitation to all of the provided details. Modifications and variations of the described embodiments may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention, and other embodiments should be understood to be encompassed in the present disclosure as would be understood by those of ordinary skill in the art.





 
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