Title:
Dual function umbrella
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention involves umbrella devices and methods for dual-function umbrellas that may combine a vertical-supported and inclined-suspended umbrella in one structure. A dual-function umbrella that may have vertical supporting and incline suspending structure may have a frame column, umbrella holder and a crank mechanism to position the umbrella holder; the umbrella holder may include a fixed umbrella bracket, moveable umbrella bracket, multiple umbrella ribs with one end pin-jointed to the fixed umbrella bracket, and multiple supporting ribs with opposite ends pin-jointed to the central part of a corresponding umbrella rib and the moveable umbrella bracket. The dual-function umbrella may also have a tilting bar and a cross bar wherein the frame column may be equipped with a moveable locking gear for locking the bottom end of the cross bar. The crank mechanism may be positioned at the cross bar bottom end. Each end of the tilting bar may be pin-jointed to the middle part of the frame column and the lower part of the cross bar respectively. The top end of the cross bar may be pin-jointed to the middle part of the central umbrella rod, and the cross bar may have a slot on the lateral side corresponding to the frame column. Inside the slot there may be an embedded slide block, and the top end of the frame column may be pin-jointed to the slide block, such that the top end of the frame column slide block may move along the slot of and relative to the cross bar.



Inventors:
Zhao, Stephen (Ontario, CA)
Application Number:
11/901163
Publication Date:
03/19/2009
Filing Date:
09/14/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A45B11/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20050098199Box umbrellaMay, 2005Ko
20030140953ShadeMeisterJuly, 2003Donald Jr.
20090056884WIND RESISTANT AWNINGMarch, 2009Vogt
20060037636DEFLECTION RESISTANT TENTFebruary, 2006Lin
20060107981Foldable umbrella frame having five ribs (II)May, 2006Ko
20070215192Center hub slide-way portable enclosure systemSeptember, 2007Hoffman
20050183761Universal lightweight portable concealment means and methodsAugust, 2005Livacich
20060151018Umbrella systemJuly, 2006Wilson
20040144413Collapsible canopy and framework thereforJuly, 2004Matthews et al.
20080060691RELIEF PACKAGEMarch, 2008Harker
20050150532Adjustable hiking stick having multiple sections and slide limit devices to prevent the sections from pulling entirely out of one anotherJuly, 2005Lin



Primary Examiner:
DUNN, DAVID R
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DENNIS W. BEECH (LAW OFFICE OF DENNIS W. BEECH) (P.O. BOX 519, MURRIETA, CA, 92564-0519, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A dual-function umbrella comprising: a frame column with a cross bar slidably attached at a top end of said frame column wherein an umbrella holder is rotatably attached at a top end of said cross bar; a tilting bar is pin-joined at a first end to a middle portion of said frame column and at a second end adjacent to a bottom end of said cross bar; said umbrella holder comprising a central umbrella rod with a fixed umbrella bracket attached adjacent to an upper end and a movable bracket slidably disposed under said central umbrella rod wherein a plurality of umbrella ribs are pin-jointed at one end to said fixed umbrella bracket and a plurality of supporting ribs are pin-jointed at a first end to said movable bracket and at a second end to one of said umbrella ribs; said frame column has a movable locking gear disposed thereon and said cross bar at said bottom end has a crank mechanism attached for locking engagement with said movable locking gear, and said crank mechanism connected to said movable bracket operable to raise and lower said movable bracket; and said cross bar has a slot with a flange longitudinally disposed therein and a slide block that is pin-jointed to said top end of said frame column is slidably disposed in said slot.

2. The dual-function umbrella as in claim 1 wherein: said movable locking gear has a moving bolt vertically oriented and biased upward by a bias spring, and controlled for downward movement by a push-button switch; and said bottom end of said cross bar having a bore therein for receipt of said moving bolt.

3. The dual-function umbrella as in claim 1 wherein: said crank mechanism has a rope shaft with a first end of a rope attached thereto disposed for winding and unwinding on said rope shaft; said rope is routed through said slot of said cross bar to exit adjacent said central umbrella rod; said rope is routed into said central umbrella rod through a hole therein to then move over a holder pulley disposed in said central umbrella rod; and said rope exits said central umbrella rod at said lower end and said rope is attached to said movable bracket.

4. The dual-function umbrella as in claim 3 wherein: a pair of locating pulleys are disposed interior to said cross bar adjacent said top end and said rope is routed between said pair of locating pulleys; and a removably attached handle is attached to said crank mechanism.

5. The dual-function umbrella as in claim 1 wherein a handle is attached at said bottom end of said cross bar.

6. The dual-function umbrella as in claim 1 wherein a steering unit is attached to said central umbrella rod and said top end of said cross member is pin-jointed to said steering unit.

7. The dual-function umbrella as in claim 1 wherein said frame column comprises: a lower frame column and an upper frame column inserted in said lower frame column; and said cross bar and said upper frame column each have a mating flat lateral side portion for positioning said cross bar adjacent said upper frame column to present a cross-section diameter approximately equal to said lower frame column cross-section diameter.

8. The dual-function umbrella as in claim 7 wherein said upper frame member has a slot formed in said mating flat lateral side portion.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention involves umbrellas, especially a kind of umbrella available to be used alternatively between a direct supporting and inclined position.

Along with the growth in the living standard, people have participated in outdoor leisure activities more frequently. At leisure places including plazas, backyards, parks and beaches, etc. . . . umbrellas have already become a regular appliance, which has provided people with comfortable space for enjoying the shade. Umbrellas include vertical-supported and inclined-suspended umbrellas (also known as cantilever-type umbrellas). Vertical-supported umbrellas may have the same structure and principles as those of common umbrellas, mainly including a frame column, a fixed umbrella bracket fastened to the top end of the frame column, a moveable umbrella bracket equipped outside the middle part of the frame column, multiple supporting ribs, multiple umbrella ribs and an umbrella fabric stretched over the umbrella ribs. The ends of multiple supporting ribs are each pin-jointed at one end to the moveable umbrella bracket and at the opposite end to a corresponding umbrella rib respectively, while one end of each of the multiple umbrella ribs is pin-jointed to the fixed umbrella bracket. For example, China patent of utility model Leisure Beach Umbrella with a patent number ZL2006201014197 (publicity No. Y2s70552y) publicized an improved type vertical-supported beach umbrella. Sometimes, people may feel that it is inconvenient to use a vertical-supported umbrella due to the frame column in the central part. Therefore, inclined-suspended umbrellas have emerged over time. For example, China patents for utility models: A Double-layer Umbrella with Suspensory External Side Arm with a patent number ZL002448300 (publicity No. CN2452349Y), An Electric Suspensor Umbrella with a patent number ZL022226761 (publicity No. CN2548450Y), and A Umbrella with a patent number ZL02204Q67 (publicity No. CN2532721Y) have all publicized the inclined-suspended umbrella with similar apparatus principles.

China patent number ZL02204Q67, A Umbrella, is an example of the structure of inclined-suspended umbrellas. This umbrella mainly includes umbrella fabric frames and umbrella supporting frames. The umbrella fabric rods on the umbrella fabric frames are evenly pin-jointed to the circumference of the umbrella fabric frame bracket, while the umbrella supporting rods on the umbrella supporting frames are evenly pin-jointed to the circumference of the umbrella supporting frame bracket; umbrella fabric is stretched over the umbrella fabric frames, and umbrella fabric rods are pin-jointed to corresponding umbrella supporting frames, with one end fixed and pin-jointed to the pull rod on the top end of the frame column, and the other end pin-jointed to an umbrella fabric rod; the end of the umbrella fabric rod is connected with a slide block positioned to slide on a corresponding rail, and the slide block has a slide-stop device; also, a cranking mechanism is installed at the frame column and has a connecting rope disposed inside the umbrella column wherein the connecting rope passes through a pulley inside the umbrella column, the umbrella fabric rods are connected with the umbrella column, and the umbrella fabric frame bracket, and then connected with the umbrella supporting frame bracket. This umbrella controls the stretching or contraction of the umbrella fabric by rotating the crank to tighten or loosen the rope. After the umbrella fabric stretches out, the frame column is at one side of the umbrella fabric.

It can be seen from the above structure description that the straight-supported umbrella and inclined-suspended umbrella may adopt different methods to stretch out the umbrella fabric due to the different locations of the supporting ribs and umbrella ribs under the umbrella fabric relative to the frame column. However, the existing inclined-suspended umbrella may not be switched to be utilized as a vertical-supported umbrella, namely wherein the frame column is just positioned at the central position of the umbrella fabric. In practical application, people may need to adjust the location of the frame column under the umbrella fabric of umbrellas so as to allow leisure activities to be more comfortable. However, there are only umbrellas with either the vertical-supported or inclined-suspended utilization methods available in the current markets, and no umbrellas available to combine and switch flexibly between the above two utilization methods.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to umbrella devices and methods for dual-function umbrellas that may combine a vertical-supported and inclined-suspended umbrella in one structure. A dual-function umbrella that may have vertical supporting and incline suspending structure may have a frame column, umbrella holder and a crank mechanism to position the umbrella holder; the umbrella holder may include a fixed umbrella bracket, a moveable umbrella bracket, multiple umbrella ribs with one end pin-jointed to the fixed umbrella bracket, and multiple supporting ribs with opposite ends pin-jointed to the central part of a corresponding umbrella rib and the moveable umbrella bracket. The dual-function umbrella may also have a tilting bar and a cross bar wherein the frame column may be equipped with a moveable locking gear for locking the bottom end of the cross bar. The crank mechanism may be positioned at the cross bar bottom end. Each end of the tilting bar may be pin-jointed to the middle part of the frame column and the lower part of the cross bar respectively. The top end of the cross bar may be pin-jointed to the middle part of the central umbrella rod, and the cross bar may have a slot on the lateral side corresponding to the frame column. Inside the slot there may be an embedded slide block, and the top end of the frame column may be pin-jointed to the slide block, such that the top end of the frame column slide block may move along the slot of and relative to the cross bar.

The moveable umbrella bracket may be connected with other components since its periphery is pin-jointed to the end of multiple supporting ribs. Therefore, the moveable umbrella bracket may be set below the central umbrella rod without contacting it, or be positioned outside the lower end of the central umbrella rod. The moveable locking gear at the bottom end of the cross bar may fasten the cross bar to one side of the frame column when the umbrella is in the vertical-supported position, and thus cause the cross bar and frame column to form a vertical supporting rod. The moveable locking gear may accommodate the two types of support structures, but to realize a simpler structure and more convenient operation, the moveable locking gear at the bottom end of the cross bar may include a vertically positioned moving bolt with a bias spring set at the bottom side of the moving bolt and a push-button switch that is horizontally set at the central part of the moving bolt that may control the moving bolt downward movement. A bore may be formed at a position on the bottom end of the cross bar and may receive the moving bolt. This may allow horizontally pressing the push-button switch to cause the moving bolt to move downward until the cross bar abuts to one side of the frame column. The push-button may then just be released and the moving bolt may then rise and be inserted into the bore thus locking the cross bar at one side of the frame column. The cross bar may be unlocked by pressing the push-button switch once again.

The crank mechanism may adopt existing umbrella features, such as the manual and electric crank mechanisms published in patent documents such as mentioned in the above background references. However, to obtain a simpler structure, and to realize smooth and efficient tightening and loosening of the rope, the crank mechanism may include a rope shaft at the bottom end of the cross bar, a handle for driving the rotation of the rope shaft, and a holder pulley and rope inside the central umbrella rod of the umbrella holder. One end of the rope may be fixed to the rope shaft and the other end may pass through the cross bar to then enter into the central umbrella rod and pass over the holder pulley therein to then be fixed to the moveable umbrella bracket. This may allow tighten the rope by rotating the rope shaft through the handle to cause the moveable umbrella bracket to rise relative to the central umbrella rod to prop up the supporting ribs and umbrella ribs and thus open up the umbrella fabric. When the handle may be rotated in the opposite direction to loosen the rope, the moveable umbrella bracket as well as the supporting ribs and umbrella ribs may contract and fold due to deadweight, and the umbrella fabric may also contract to relieve the stretching and to contract the umbrella fabric. To reduce abrasion of the rope, and to ensure that the rope may move correctly through the end of the cross bar and may be routed over the holder pulley inside the central umbrella rod, a pair of locating pulleys may be positioned inside the top end of the cross bar and the rope may be routed between the pair of locating pulleys. The locating pulleys may keep the rope from contacting the inner wall of the cross bar directly and from binding in the holder pulley inside the central umbrella rod. To aid users to pull and control the cross bar more conveniently and more smoothly when switching between the vertical-supported and inclined-suspended positions for the umbrella, a handle may be attached at the bottom end of the cross bar. A steering unit may be positioned at the central umbrella rod and the top end of the cross bar may be pin-jointed to the steering unit for convenience of manufacture.

When the umbrella may be in the vertical-supported position, the frame column and the cross bar may be adjacent each other. In this position the bottom end of the cross bar may stick out at one side of the frame column, which may easily scrape and scratch users in the process of use. To reduce this possibility, the frame column may have a lower frame column and an upper frame column that may be inserted on the lower frame column. When the frame column and cross bar closely adjoin to each other, the external surface of the lower frame column may be flush with that of the cross bar and upper frame column. This structural combination of the cross bar and upper frame column may allow the cross bar, the upper frame column and the lower frame column to form an integral structure with a tidy and smooth appearance to provide users with a more functional device.

To allow the tilting bar to be concealed between the cross bar and upper frame column when the umbrella is in the vertical-supported configuration, the slot already formed in one side of the cross bar may be positioned to mate with a slot formed on the side with the tilting bar pin-jointed in the upper frame column. When the upper frame column and cross bar abut each other, the tilting bar may be contained in the empty cavity formed by the face-to-face slots.

Compared with the existing umbrellas, the improved umbrella may have overcome respective deficiencies of the vertical-supporting and inclined-suspending methods of existing umbrellas, and embodies an umbrella combining the two configurations. By locating the pin-joint position of the tilting bar at the frame column and cross bar, and through the relative rotation and movement of these elements, the umbrella structure causes the elements to adjust to the location of a supporting rod necessary for the vertical-supporting and inclined-suspending methods of an umbrella. For example, when the cross bar and the frame column are locked, the umbrella may be in the vertical-supported configuration state in which both the cross bar and frame column are below the center of the umbrella fabric, similar to a common vertical-supported umbrella, and when the locking of the cross bar at one side of the frame column is unlocked, the tilting bar may rotate about the end pin-jointed to the frame column as the center, while under the force of the tilting bar, the cross bar may rotate and move relative to the frame column. With the top end of the frame column as the central rotating point the bottom end of the cross bar may tilt up and cause the top end of the cross bar tilt down. The tilting bar, cross bar and frame column may reach a balanced position. The frame column may be at one side of the umbrella fabric, while the cross bar is supported on the frame column in an inclined position, and the umbrella may then be in the inclined-suspended configuration. In the adjustment process of the tilting bar, cross bar and frame column movement, the umbrella holder may rotate relative to the cross bar due to its deadweight, and may gradually cause the umbrella fabric to adjust to be parallel with the ground. These and other features, aspects and advantages of the present invention may become better understood with reference to the following drawings, description and claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates a side elevation view with the fabric partially removed of an umbrella when it is in an inclined-suspended configuration according to an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 illustrates an enlarged cutaway view of section A-A in FIG. 1 according to an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 3 illustrates an enlarged view of section B-B in FIG. 1 according to an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 4 illustrates an enlarged cutaway view of section C-C in FIG. 1 with the supporting ribs and umbrella ribs moved away according to an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 5 illustrates a side elevation view with the fabric partially removed of an umbrella when it is in a vertical-supported configuration according to an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 6 illustrates an enlarged cutaway view of section D-D in FIG. 5 according to an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 7 illustrates a cutaway view of section A-A in FIG. 5 according to an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 8 illustrates an exploded partial view of the upper and lower frame columns according to an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 9 illustrates a structural diagram when the umbrella fabric is contracted according to an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 10 illustrates a stage in the process of switching from an inclined-suspended to a vertical-supported configuration according to an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 11 illustrates a stage in the process of switching from a vertical-supported to inclined-suspended configuration according to an embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The following detailed description represents the best currently contemplated modes for carrying out the invention. The description is not to be taken in a limiting sense, but is made merely for the purpose of illustrating the general principles of the invention.

Referring to FIGS. 1 through 11, the dual-function umbrella 20 may have a vertical supported and an inclined suspended configuration or position and may have a frame column 1, a tilting bar 2, a cross bar 3, an umbrella holder 5 and a crank mechanism 6. The umbrella holder 5 may include a fixed umbrella bracket 52 fixed to a central umbrella rod 51, a moveable umbrella bracket 53 slidably disposed on the central umbrella rod 51, multiple umbrella ribs 54 with one end pin-jointed to the fixed umbrella bracket 52, and multiple supporting ribs 55 with one end pin-jointed to the moveable umbrella bracket 53 and the other end pin-jointed to the central part of a corresponding umbrella rib 54.

The frame column 1 may include the lower frame column 12 and the upper frame column 11 inserted into the lower frame column 12. In this implementation example, the upper frame column 11 and cross bar 3 may have generally flat lateral side portions 11A, 3A for adjacent adjoining surfaces ? and the surfaces may have a slot or groove formed therein as best viewed is FIG. 7. The lower frame column 12 may have generally lateral side portions consistent with the section of the frame column 1 formed by placing the upper frame column 11 and cross bar 3 face to face. The lower frame column 12 at the upper end 13 may have an upper and lower step portion 12A, 12B as best viewed in FIG. 6. The upper frame column 11 may be inserted into the lower step portion 12B of the lower frame column 12, while a bottom lock shell 84 of a moveable locking gear 8 on the upper frame column 11 may be inserted into the upper step portion 12A of the lower frame column 12. This may be beneficial for the stability of the frame column 1 formed by the upper frame column 11 and lower frame column 12. Also, when the frame column 1 and cross bar 3 may be adjacent to each other, the external surface of the lower frame column 12 may be aligned with the external surfaces of the cross bar 3 and upper frame column 11.

The tilting bar 2 at a first end 2A may be pin-jointed to a central portion of the upper frame column 11 and at a second end 2B adjacent to a lower end of the cross bar 3. A slot 11a having a flange may be formed in the upper frame column 11 on the lateral side with the tilting bar 2 pin-jointed.

A steering unit 4 may be attached on the central umbrella rod 51 of the umbrella holder 5. The top end of the cross bar 3 may be pin-jointed to this steering unit 4, so as to make ?? the top end of the cross bar 3 indirectly pin-jointed to the approximate middle portion of the central umbrella rod 51. The flat lateral side portion 3A corresponding to the cross bar 3 may have a slot 31 with a flange and a slide block 7 disposed in the slot 31. The top end 11A of the upper frame column 11 may be pin-jointed to the slide block 7 to allow the cross bar 3 to slide relative to the top end 11 B of the frame column 1 and along the slot 31 of the cross bar 3. The cross bar 3 may rotate relative to the frame column 1 and with the top end 11B of the frame column 1 as the point.

A moveable locking gear 8 for locking the bottom end 3C of the cross bar 3 may be disposed in the slot 11a in the upper frame column 11. This moveable locking gear 8 may include a vertically set moving bolt 81, a bias spring 82 disposed at the bottom end of the moving bolt 81, and a push-button switch 83 that may be horizontally positioned at the middle part of the moving bolt 81 and may control the downward movement of the moving bolt 81. Also, a bore 32 corresponding to the moving bolt 81 may be positioned at the bottom end 3C of the cross bar 3. The locking gear 8 may be disposed in a housing having tabs to engage the flanges of the slot 11a and having a lock shell 84 for insertion in the upper step portion 12A of the lower frame column 12 as best viewed in FIGS. 6 and 8.

The crank mechanism 6 may be attached at the bottom end 3C of the cross bar 3. The crank mechanism 6 may include a rope shaft (not shown in the figures) that may be at the bottom end 3C of the cross bar 3 and may rotate relative to the cross bar 3 to control a rope 61. The handle 62 may be used to rotate the rope shaft to extend or withdraw on end of the rope 61. A pair of locating pulleys 63 may be positioned inside the top end 3B of the cross bar 3 and a holder pulley 64 may be positioned adjacent the steering unit 4 inside the central umbrella rod 51 of the umbrella holder 5. One end of the rope 61 may be attached to the rope shaft and the rope 61 may pass through the cross bar 3 that may be hollow to pass between the pair of locating pulleys 63 at the top end 3B of the cross bar 3. The rope 61 may enter into the central umbrella rod 51 to pass over the holder pulley 64 therein and then may have the second end of the rope 61 attached to the moveable umbrella bracket 53.

To allow users to pull and control the cross bar 3 more conveniently and smoothly, a handle 9 is attached at the bottom end 3C of the cross bar 3.

When the dual-function umbrella 20 may be in the stored or unused configuration, as best viewed in FIG. 9, the umbrella holder 5 may be opened directly through the crank mechanism 6 by rotating handle 9 to cause the umbrella to move to the vertical-supported configuration, as best viewed in FIG. 5. In this configuration the moving bolt 81 inside the moveable locking gear 8 may be inserted into the bore 32 on the bottom end 3C of the cross bar 3 due to the bias force of the bias spring 82, and thus, the cross bar 3 and frame column 1 may be firmly adjoined and below the central position of the umbrella fabric, while the tilting bar 2 may be concealed inside the cavity formed by the slot 11a of the upper frame column 11 and the slot 31 of the cross bar 3, as best viewed in FIG. 7.

When it may be desired to switch the umbrella 20 into the inclined-suspended configuration, the push-button switch 83 may be pushed to cause the moving bolt 81 to move downward and disengage from the bore 32 on the bottom end 3C of the cross bar 3. This may allow the cross bar 3 at the bottom end 3C to rotate relative to the frame column 1. The tilting bar 2 may rotate with the first end 2A pin-jointed to the frame column 1 as the center, while under the control of the tilting bar 2, the cross bar 3 may rotate and move relative to the frame column 1 and with the top end 11B of the frame column 1 as the central rotating point. This may cause the bottom end 3C of the cross bar 3 to tilt up and the top end 3B of the cross bar 3 to tilt down in a transition process as best viewed in FIGS. 10 and 11. Finally, the tilting bar 2, the cross bar 3 and the frame column 1 may reach a balanced position and cease movement at which time in the transition process of the movement of the tilting bar 2, the cross bar 3 and the frame column 1, the umbrella holder 5 may rotate relative to the cross bar 3 due to its deadweight to gradually cause the umbrella fabric to adjust to be parallel with the ground, as best viewed in FIG. 1. In this configuration, the frame column 1 may be at one side of the umbrella fabric, while the cross bar 3 may be supported at the frame column 1 in an inclined manner, and the umbrella 20 may be in the inclined-suspended configuration.

To switch from an inclined-suspending configuration to a vertical-supported configuration, it may only be necessary to pull down the bottom end 3C of the cross bar 3 until the cross bar 3 and the upper frame column 11 are adjacent in the transition process as best viewed in FIGS. 10 and 11. The moving bolt 81 inside the moveable locking gear 8 may be inserted into the bore 32 of the cross bar 3 due to the force of the bias spring 82, and thus, the cross bar 3 may be locked adjacent one side of the frame column 1. The umbrella holder 5 may rotate relative to the cross bar 3 due to its deadweight and may gradually cause the umbrella fabric to adjust to be parallel to the ground. After this action, the dual-function umbrella 20 may be in the vertical-supported configuration, as best viewed in FIG. 5.

The dual-function umbrella 20 may also be switched directly from the stowed configuration, as best viewed in FIG. 9, to the inclined-suspended configuration, as best viewed in FIG. 1. The movable locking gear 8 may be disengaged from the bottom end 3C of the cross bar 3; the tilting bar 2, the cross bar 3 and the frame column 1 may then be adjusted to cause them reach a balanced position for the inclined-suspended configuration; and then the umbrella holder 5 may be opened through the crank mechanism 6.

While the invention has been particularly shown and described with respect to the illustrated embodiments thereof, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that the foregoing and other changes in form and details may be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.