Title:
ICE MAKING DEVICE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An ice making device may include an ice tray for producing ice pieces, an ice storage part for storing the ice pieces, an ice discharging device for discharging the ice pieces from the ice tray to the ice storage part, an ice detecting lever having an ice abutting part for abutting with the ice pieces stored in the ice storage part, an ice detecting lever drive mechanism for driving the ice detecting lever toward the ice storage part, and a case body within which a drive source for the ice detecting lever drive mechanism is provided. The ice detecting lever drive mechanism may include a turning output member which transmits a rotational drive force of the drive source to an outer side of the case body, and a turning-linear conversion mechanism which is arranged on the outer side of the case body to convert turning of the turning output member into reciprocated linear-motion that is transmitted to the ice detecting lever.



Inventors:
Saito, Shunji (Nagano, JP)
Ito, Hideaki (Nagano, JP)
Hara, Tetsuhiko (Nagano, JP)
Application Number:
12/501904
Publication Date:
01/14/2010
Filing Date:
07/13/2009
Assignee:
NIDEC SANKYO CORPORATION (Nagano, JP)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
62/347, 62/344
International Classes:
F25C1/00; F25C5/18
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
BRADFORD, JONATHAN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CANTOR COLBURN LLP (20 Church Street 22nd Floor, Hartford, CT, 06103, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An ice making device comprising: an ice tray for producing ice pieces; an ice storage part for storing the ice pieces; an ice discharging device for discharging the ice pieces from the ice tray to the ice storage part; an ice detecting lever having an ice abutting part for abutting with the ice pieces stored in the ice storage part; an ice detecting lever drive mechanism for driving the ice detecting lever toward the ice storage part; and a case body within which a drive source for the ice detecting lever drive mechanism is provided; wherein the ice detecting lever drive mechanism comprises: a turning output member which transmits a rotational drive force of the drive source to an outer side of the case body; and a turning-linear conversion mechanism which is arranged on the outer side of the case body to convert turning of the turning output member into reciprocated linear-motion that is transmitted to the ice detecting lever.

2. The ice making device according to claim 1, wherein the ice abutting part is extended in a horizontal direction or in a roughly horizontal direction.

3. The ice making device according to claim 1, wherein the ice pieces in the ice tray are discharged by the ice discharging device to be dropped into the ice storage part, and the ice abutting part is reciprocatedly and linearly moved under the ice tray in upper and lower directions by the ice detecting lever drive mechanism.

4. The ice making device according to claim 1, wherein the turning-linear conversion mechanism includes a turning arm, which is turned by the turning output member, and a connection arm which is turnably connected with the turning arm and the ice detecting lever respectively for transmitting turning of the turning arm to the ice detecting lever, and the ice detecting lever is hung down from the connection arm by an own weight of the ice detecting lever.

5. The ice making device according to claim 4, wherein the turning-linear conversion mechanism includes a guide for restricting a moving direction in upper and lower directions of the ice detecting lever.

6. The ice making device according to claim 5, wherein a tip end part of the ice detecting lever is bent toward an ice tray side so that the ice abutting part of the ice detecting lever is reciprocatedly and linearly moved in the upper and the lower directions under the ice tray.

7. An ice making device comprising: an ice tray for producing ice pieces; an ice storage part for storing the ice pieces; an ice detecting lever having an ice abutting part for abutting with the ice pieces stored in the ice storage part; an ice detecting lever drive device for driving the ice detecting lever toward the ice storage part; and a case body within which a drive source for the ice detecting lever drive device is provided; wherein the ice detecting lever drive device comprises: a turning output member which transmits a rotational drive force of the drive source to an outer side of the case body; and a lever support part which is disposed to face the turning output member so as to interpose the ice storage part between the lever support part and the turning output member; and wherein the ice detecting lever comprises: a first side end part whose shaft end part is inserted into an opening part of the turning output member, and which includes a first end part extended in a direction of a turning center axial line of the turning output member and a second end part which is formed on a shaft end side of the first end part so as to be bent in a direction crossing the turning center axial line; a second side end part which is turnably supported by the lever support part; and an ice abutting part which is formed between the first side end part and the second side end part at a separated position from the turning center axial line; and wherein the turning output member comprises: a coming-off preventing plate part which is formed with the opening part; and a shaft end receiving part which receives the second end part of the first side end part of the ice detecting lever and which is disposed on an opposite side to the lever support part at an adjacent position to the coming-off preventing plate part.

8. The ice making device according to claim 7, wherein the turning output member is provided with interference parts which face the second end part on both sides in the direction crossing the turning axial line in the shaft end receiving part.

9. The ice making device according to claim 7, wherein the second side end part of the ice detecting lever is structured with a coming-off preventing part which is abutted with the lever support part to restrict the ice detecting lever to move toward the first side end part of the ice detecting lever.

10. The ice making device according to claim 7, wherein the ice detecting lever and the ice storage part are disposed within an ice making space provided with a door in a refrigerator, and the ice detecting lever and the ice storage part are disposed on a side nearer to the door than the ice tray.

11. An ice making device comprising: an ice tray for producing ice pieces; an ice storage part for storing the ice pieces; an ice detecting lever having an ice abutting part for abutting with the ice pieces stored in the ice storage part; an ice detecting lever drive device for driving the ice detecting lever toward the ice storage part; and a case body within which a drive source for the ice detecting lever drive device is provided; wherein the ice detecting lever drive device comprises: a turning output member which transmits a rotational drive force of the drive source to an outer side of the case body; and a lever support part which is disposed to face the turning output member so as to interpose the ice storage part between the lever support part and the turning output member; and wherein the ice detecting lever comprises: a first side end part whose shaft end part is inserted into an opening part of the turning output member; a second side end part which is turnably supported by the lever support part; an ice abutting part which is formed between the first side end part and the second side end part at a separated position from a turning center axial line of the turning output member; and a beam part which connects the first side end part and the second side end part at a nearer position to the rotation center axial line than the ice abutting part.

12. The ice making device according to claim 11, further comprising a coming-off preventing part which is structured in the second side end part of the ice detecting lever for abutting with the lever support part to restrict movement toward the first side end part of the ice detecting lever.

13. The ice making device according to claim 11, wherein the ice detecting lever and the ice storage part are disposed within an ice making space provided with a door in a refrigerator, and the ice detecting lever and the ice storage part are disposed on a side nearer to the door than the ice tray.

14. An ice making device comprising: an ice tray; a water-supply part for supplying water to the ice tray; an ice discharging mechanism for discharging ice pieces from the ice tray; and a water-supply control part which is interlinked with an ice discharging operation of the ice discharging mechanism to supply water to the water-supply part; wherein the water-supply control part comprises: a cam drive shaft which is rotated and interlinked with the ice discharging operation; a water supply control rotation cam member which is moved by the cam drive shaft with a play in a circumferential direction of the cam drive shaft; and a water supply control leaf switch which includes a leaf contact piece that is driven by the water supply control rotation cam member; wherein the water supply control rotation cam member is rotated from a free end side of the leaf contact piece toward a fixed end side of the leaf contact piece.

15. The ice making device according to claim 14, wherein the water-supply part includes a pump device which is driven by an electric motor, and the water supply control leaf switch and the electric motor are electrically connected in series with each other.

16. The ice making device according to claim 14, wherein a commercial power supply is applied to the electric motor through the water supply control leaf switch.

17. The ice making device according to claim 14, wherein the water-supply part includes an electrically operated valve, and the water supply control leaf switch and the electrically operated valve are electrically connected in series with each other.

18. The ice making device according to claim 17, wherein a commercial power supply is applied to the electrically operated valve through the water supply control leaf switch.

19. The ice making device according to claim 14, wherein the water supply control rotation cam member is rotatably held by the cam drive shaft with a play in the circumferential direction of the cam drive shaft.

20. The ice making device according to claim 19, wherein the cam drive shaft is formed with a second cam face, which is different from the water supply control rotation cam member, for operating a leaf contact piece of a second leaf switch which is different from the water supply control leaf switch, and the second cam face is rotated from a fixed end side of the second leaf contact piece toward a free end side the second leaf contact piece.

21. An ice making device comprising: an ice tray; a water-supply part for supplying water to the ice tray; a water-supply switch for controlling water supply from the water-supply part to the ice tray; a water-supply amount adjustment mechanism which includes an operation member that is disposed in an inside of a case body for adjusting timings when the water-supply switch is turned on and turned off; and an opening which is formed in the case body so that the operation member is capable of being operated from an outside; wherein the operation member is supported by a support shaft, which is formed on one of the operation member and the case body so as to be turnable around an axial line of the support shaft and movable in an axial direction of the support shaft, and wherein the operation member is urged in the axial direction of the support shaft toward the opening by a coiled spring which is made of metal and which is concentrically disposed with the support shaft, and wherein a first stopper for coming-off prevention is structured which determines a position in the axial direction of the operation member against an urging force of the coiled spring.

22. The ice making device according to claim 21, further comprising a second stopper for coming-off prevention, which is used before the first stopper is structured for determining a position in the axial direction of the operation member against the urging force of the coiled spring and.

23. The ice making device according to claim 22, further comprising a pressing range determining stopper which is structured for determining a moving range in the axial direction when the operation member is pressed.

24. The ice making device according to claim 21, further comprising a pressing range determining stopper which is structured for determining a moving range in the axial direction when the operation member is pressed.

25. The ice making device according to claim 21, wherein the coiled spring is made of nonmagnetic stainless steel.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

The present invention claims priority under 35 U.S.C. §119 to Japanese Application No. 2008-181460 filed Jul. 11, 2008, Japanese Application No. 2008-181461 filed Jul. 11, 2008, Japanese Application No. 2008-181462 filed Jul. 11,2008, and Japanese Application No. 2008-181463 filed Jul. 11,2008, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

An embodiment of the present invention may relate to an ice making device. Specifically, an embodiment of the present invention may relate to an ice making device which includes an ice detecting mechanism for detecting a quantity of ice pieces stored in an ice storage part by using an ice detecting lever. Further, an embodiment of the present invention may relate to an ice making device which is provided with a water-supply switch for controlling water supply from a water-supply part to an ice tray.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

In a conventional ice making device, an ice detecting mechanism has been proposed in which ice pieces produced in an ice tray are stored in an ice storage part and an ice detecting lever is turnably moved in the ice storage part by a drive source that is disposed within a case body to detect an ice quantity stored in the ice storage part on the basis of whether an ice abutting part of the ice detecting lever is abutted with ice pieces within the ice storage part or not (see Japanese Patent Laid-Open No. 2008-82695).

However, in the structure where an ice detecting lever is turnably moved, since a moving trace of the ice detecting lever is larger, a large volume for the ice making device is required in the inside of a refrigerator or a freezer.

Further, in the structure disclosed in the above-mentioned Patent Reference, an end part of the ice detecting lever is mechanically coupled at an initial stage of assembling of the ice making device with a drive mechanism which is disposed in the inside of the case body.

However, the ice detecting lever is structured to be capable of resiliently bending to some extent so as not to be damaged at the time of abutting with ice pieces and thus, when the ice detecting lever has been mounted at the initial stage of assembling of the ice making device, the ice detecting lever may be deformed greatly when an excessive external force is applied. Further, since the ice detecting lever is abutted with ice pieces, the ice detecting lever is required to be strictly clean. However, when the ice detecting lever has been mounted at an initial stage of assembling of the ice making device, it is difficult to maintain the ice detecting lever clean.

Therefore, the present inventors propose to mount the ice detecting lever at a final stage of assembling of the ice making device. However, if this structure is simply adopted, an end part of the ice detecting lever is inserted into the case body to mechanically couple with the drive mechanism which is disposed in the inside of the case body. Therefore, in this case, when an external force is applied to the ice detecting lever to make the ice detecting lever resiliently bent, the ice detecting lever is easily come off from the case body.

Further, in the ice making device, in order to automatically supply water into an ice tray after ice pieces have been discharged, as shown in FIG. 20(A), a structure has been proposed in which a leaf switch 1731 is driven by a cam member 1055 that is integrally rotated with a driving shaft for discharging ice pieces (see Japanese Patent Laid-Open No. 2008-57894).

As shown in FIG. 20(A), in the structure where the leaf switch 1731 is driven by the cam member 1055, when the cam member 1055 is required to be rotated from a side where a free end of the leaf switch 1731 is located toward a side where its fixed end is located, contact points of the leaf switch 1731 gradually come near to or separate from each other as shown in FIGS. 20(A), 20(B) and 20(C). Therefore, an unstable region occurs where a contacted state where the contact points are abutted with each other is not clearly distinguished from a separated state where the contact points are separated from each other and thus various kinds of electrical failures may occur. As a result, deterioration or welding of the contact points may occur.

Further, in the ice making device disclosed in Japanese Patent Laid-Open No. 2008-82695, after discharge of ice pieces has finished, in order to automatically supply water to an ice tray, a following structure has been proposed. In other words, a water-supply switch is used in which a leaf switch is driven by a cam member and a water-supply amount adjustment mechanism is provided for adjusting on-off timing of the water-supply switch.

In this Patent Reference, the water-supply amount adjustment mechanism is so structured that an operation member made of resin is disposed in the inside of a case body and an opening for adjusting the operation member from the outside is formed in the case body. When the operation member is pressed through the opening, a lock mechanism for the operation member is released by utilizing a spring property of two portions interposed by cut-out parts formed in a circular arc shape in the circumferential direction in a disk part of the operation member.

However, when a spring portion is provided at two positions of the operation member in the circumferential direction, balance of the urging force applied to the operation member becomes worse and thus the operation member may incline to be caught by surrounding members. Further, in order to form a spring portion in the operation member itself, the entire operation member including the spring portion is required to be made of resin. However, in the ice making device, when the operation member has been used in an elastically deformed state under a low temperature for a long time, deterioration due to creeping may occur in the spring portion which is made of resin.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In view of the problems described above, at least an embodiment of the present invention may advantageously provide an ice making device which is capable of surely detecting an amount of ice pieces in an ice storage part even when a moving trace of an ice detecting lever is made small.

Further, in view of the problems described above, at least an embodiment of the present invention may advantageously provide an ice making device which is capable of connecting an ice detecting lever with a drive mechanism that is disposed within a case body at the final stage of assembling and, in which the ice detecting lever is not come off from the case body even when an external force is applied to the ice detecting lever.

Further, in view of the problems described above, at least an embodiment of the present invention may advantageously provide an ice making device which is capable of instantaneously disconnecting a leaf switch even when a cam member is structured to rotate from a free end side of the leaf switch toward its fixed end side in a case that water supply to an ice tray is controlled by driving the leaf switch through a cam mechanism having the cam member.

Further, in view of the problems described above, at least an embodiment of the present invention may advantageously provide an ice making device which is capable of urging an operation member that is used in a water-supply amount adjustment mechanism without being inclined, and in which an urging member does not deteriorate even when the urging member is used in an elastically deformed state under a low temperature for a longtime.

According to at least an embodiment of the present invention, there may be provided an ice making device including an ice tray for producing ice pieces, an ice storage part for storing the ice pieces, an ice discharging device for discharging the ice pieces from the ice tray to the ice storage part, an ice detecting lever having an ice abutting part for abutting with the ice pieces stored in the ice storage part, an ice detecting lever drive mechanism for driving the ice detecting lever toward the ice storage part, and a case body within which a drive source for the ice detecting lever drive mechanism is provided. The ice detecting lever drive mechanism includes a turning output member, which transmits a rotational drive force from the drive source to an outer side of the case, and a turning-linear conversion mechanism which converts turning of the turning output member into reciprocated linear-motion on the outer side of the case body to transmit the reciprocated linear-motion to the ice detecting lever.

In accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, the ice detecting lever is reciprocatedly moved in a linear manner by the ice detecting lever drive mechanism and thus, in comparison with a case that the ice detecting lever is swung or turned, the size can be reduced because a moving trace of the ice detecting lever is small. Further, the ice detecting lever drive mechanism includes a turning output member for transmitting a rotational drive force from the drive source to an outer side of the case body. Therefore, only the turning output member is required to penetrate through the case body and thus sealing property is superior. In addition, similarly to a conventional ice detecting mechanism in which the ice detecting lever is turned, a rotational drive force is transmitted to the outer side of the case body through the turning output member. Therefore, the conventional structure within the case body may be utilized as it is and thus design modification to the present invention can be easily performed. Further, even when ice pieces are dropped during an ice detecting operation, since the ice pieces are not easily piled on the ice detecting lever, in other words, the ice pieces are not easily piled on the moving trace when the ice detecting lever is returned upward and thus the return operation of the ice detecting lever moving upward is not disturbed.

The turning-linear conversion mechanism in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention includes a turning arm, which is turned by the turning output member, and a connection arm which is turnably connected with the turning arm and the ice detecting lever respectively for transmitting turning of the turning arm to the ice detecting lever, and the ice detecting lever is hung down from the connection arm by its own weight. In this case, it is preferable that the turning-linear conversion mechanism includes a guide for restricting a moving direction of the ice detecting lever in upper and lower directions. According to this structure, the ice abutting part of the ice detecting lever is easily moved in upper and lower directions.

In accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, the ice abutting part is extended in a horizontal or roughly horizontal direction. According to this structure, an ice quantity can be detected over a wide area of the ice storage part and thus, even when an ice quantity is varied according to location, the quantity in the ice storage part is detected with a high degree of accuracy.

In accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, the ice pieces in the ice tray are discharged by the ice discharging device to be dropped into the ice storage part, and the ice abutting part is reciprocatedly and linearly moved under the ice tray in upper and lower directions by the ice detecting lever drive mechanism. According to this structure, even when ice pieces are dropped during an ice detecting operation, the ice abutting part does not obstruct dropping of the ice pieces. Further, even when ice pieces are dropped during an ice detecting operation, the ice pieces do not hit the ice abutting part because the ice abutting part is located under the ice tray and thus deformation and damage of the ice abutting part do not occur. For this purpose, it is preferable that the tip end part of the ice detecting lever is bent toward the ice tray side.

According to at least an embodiment of the present invention, there may be provided an ice making device including an ice tray for producing ice pieces, an ice storage part for storing the ice pieces, an ice detecting lever having an ice abutting part for abutting with the ice pieces stored in the ice storage part, an ice detecting lever drive device for driving the ice detecting lever toward the ice storage part, and a case body within which a drive source for the ice detecting lever drive device is provided. The ice detecting lever drive device includes a turning output member which transmits a rotational drive force from the drive source to an outer side of the case body, and a lever support part which is disposed to face the turning output member so as to interpose the ice storage part between the lever support part and the turning output member. Further, the ice detecting lever includes a first side end part whose shaft end part is inserted into an opening part of the turning output member and which includes a first end part extended in a direction of a turning center axial line of the turning output member and a second end part which is bent in a direction crossing the turning center axial line on a shaft end side from the first end part, a second side end part which is turnably supported by the lever support part, and an ice abutting part which is formed between the first side end part and the second side end part at a separated position from the turning center axial line of the turning output member. In addition, the turning output member includes a coming-off preventing plate part which is formed with the opening part, and a shaft end receiving part which receives the second end part of the ice detecting lever and which is disposed at an adjacent position to the coming-off preventing plate part on an opposite side to die lever support part.

In accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, the first side end part includes a second end part which is bent in a direction crossing the turning center axial line direction of the turning output member, and the turning output member includes a coming-off preventing plate part having an opening part into which the first side end part of the ice detecting lever is inserted. Therefore, even when the ice detecting lever is resiliently bent by an external force applied to the ice detecting lever, the second end part is engaged with the coming-off preventing plate and thus the first side end part of the ice detecting lever is prevented from coming off from the turning output member. Further, a shaft end receiving part is formed in the turning output member so as to receive the second end part of the ice detecting lever at an adjacent position to the coming-off preventing plate part on an opposite side to the lever support part. Therefore, after the second end part is inserted into the opening part of the coming-off preventing plate part by inclining the ice detecting lever and then, a posture of the ice detecting lever is set to be at a normal position so that a bent portion between the first end part and the second end part is located in the opening part. As a result, the second end part of the ice detecting lever is set in a posture so as to be along the back face of the coming-off preventing plate part in the shaft end receiving part and thus the second end part does not come off from the opening part. Therefore, the ice detecting lever can be connected with the drive mechanism which is disposed within the case body at the final stage of assembling and the ice detecting lever is not required to be mounted at the initial stage of assembling and thus the ice detecting lever is prevented from being deformed or polluted during assembling.

In accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, the turning output member is provided with interference parts which face the second end part on both sides in the direction crossing the turning axial line in the shaft end receiving part. According to this structure, when the turning output member is turned, the turning motion is transmitted to the ice detecting lever through the interference parts and the second end part.

According to at least an embodiment of the present invention, there may be provided an ice making device including an ice tray for producing ice pieces, an ice storage part for storing the ice pieces, an ice detecting lever having an ice abutting part for abutting with the ice pieces stored in the ice storage part, an ice detecting lever drive device for driving the ice detecting lever toward the ice storage part, and a case body within which a drive source for the ice detecting lever drive device is provided. The ice detecting lever drive device includes a turning output member which transmits a rotational drive force from the drive source to an outer side of the case body, and a lever support part which is disposed to face the turning output member so as to interpose the ice storage part between the lever support part and the turning output member. In addition, the ice detecting lever includes a first side end part whose shaft end part is inserted into an opening part of the turning output member, a second side end part which is turnably supported by the lever support part, an ice abutting part which is formed between the first side end part and the second side end part at a separated position from a turning center axial line of the turning output member, and a beam part which connects the first side end part and the second side end part at a nearer position to the rotation center axial line than the ice abutting part.

In accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, a coming-off preventing part is structured in the second side end part of the ice detecting lever for abutting with the lever support part to restrict movement toward the first side end part of the ice detecting lever.

In accordance with the embodiment of the present invention, the ice detecting lever includes a beam part which connects the first side end part with the second side end part and thus the ice detecting lever is not bent resiliency even when an external force is applied to the ice detecting lever. Therefore, even when the first side end part of the ice detecting lever is inserted into the opening part of the turning output member to connect with the drive mechanism disposed within the case body at the final stage of assembling, the first side end part of the ice detecting lever does not come off. Further, the beam part is formed at the position nearer to the turning center axial line than the ice abutting part and thus an ice detecting operation is not disturbed by the beam part. Therefore, since the ice detecting lever can be connected with the drive mechanism disposed within the case body at the final stage of assembling, the ice detecting lever is not required to be mounted at the initial stage of assembling and thus the ice detecting lever is prevented from being deformed or polluted during assembling.

In accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, the ice detecting lever and the ice storage part are disposed within an ice making space provided with a door in a refrigerator, and the ice detecting lever and the ice storage part are disposed on a side nearer to the door than the ice tray. According to this embodiment, even when an external force is applied to the ice detecting lever, the first side end part of the ice detecting lever does not come off from the turning output member. Therefore, the ice detecting lever and the ice storage part can be provided on a side nearer to the door than the ice tray. In other words, the ice detecting lever may be provided at a position where a hand and foods are easily touch the ice detecting lever when they are put in or take out. Accordingly, the ice storage part can be disposed on the side nearer to the door and thus it is convenient to take ice pieces out.

According to at least an embodiment of the present invention, there may be provided an ice making device including an ice tray, a water-supply part for supplying water to the ice tray, an ice discharging mechanism for discharging ice pieces from the ice tray, and a water-supply control part which is interlocked with an ice discharging operation of the ice discharging mechanism to supply water to the water-supply part. The water-supply control part includes a cam drive shaft which is interlocked with the ice discharging operation and rotated, a water supply control rotation cam member which is moved by the cam drive shaft with a play in a circumferential direction of the cam drive shaft, and a water supply control leaf switch which includes a leaf contact piece that is driven by the water supply control rotation cam member. The water supply control rotation cam member is rotated from a free end side of the leaf contact piece toward its fixed end side.

When the water supply control rotation cam member is rotated from a free end side of the leaf contact piece toward a fixed end side of the leaf contact piece, it is difficult to immediately change between a contacted state (ON state/connected state) and a separated state (OFF state/non-connection state). However, in the embodiment described above, a play is provided between the water supply control rotation cam member and the cam drive shaft. Therefore, when a projecting part of a cam face of the water supply control rotation cam member is passed through the free end of the leaf contact piece after the projecting part has pressed the free end of the leaf contact piece, the water supply control rotation cam member is moved ahead with respect to the cam drive shaft by means of that the projecting part is pressed by an urging force of the leaf contact piece. Therefore, the leaf contact piece is immediately returned to its original shape from the state where it is pressed and deformed by the projecting part and thus a spark does not occur when the water supply control leaf switch is switched. Further, even when positional accuracy or dimensional accuracy of a terminal which is contacted with and separated from the leaf contact piece is low, timing accuracy when the water-supply switch is switched is higher and thus a spark does not occur when the water supply control leaf switch is switched.

In accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, the water-supply part includes a pump device which is driven by an electric motor, and the water supply control leaf switch and the electric motor are electrically connected in series with each other. According to this structure, deterioration due to a spark of a contact point may be easily occurred when the leaf switch is switched from a contacted state to a separated state. However, in this embodiment, accuracy of timing when the leaf switch is switched is higher. In addition, the contacted state is immediately switched to the separated state and thus a spark does not occur and, as a result, deterioration of the contact point can be prevented.

In this case, it may be structured that a commercial power supply is applied to the electric motor through the leaf switch. When a spark occurs in the leaf switch, noise may be transmitted to the commercial power supply. However, in this embodiment, the contacted state is immediately switched to the separated state and thus a spark does not occur and, as a result, noise can be prevented from bang transmitted to the commercial power supply.

In accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, the water-supply part includes an electrically operated valve, and the water supply control leaf switch and the electrically operated valve are electrically connected in series with each other. An electromagnetic type of valve and a valve provided with an electric motor may be used as the electrically operated valve. According to this structure, deterioration due to a spark of a contact point may be easily occurred when the leaf switch is switched from a contacted state to a separated state. However, in this embodiment, accuracy of timing when the leaf switch is switched is higher. In addition, the contacted state is immediately switched to the separated state and thus a spark does not occur and, as a result, deterioration of the contact point can be prevented.

In this case, a commercial power supply may be applied to the electrically operated valve through the leaf switch. When a spark occurs in the leaf switch, noise may be transmitted to the commercial power supply. However, in this embodiment, the contacted state is immediately switched to the separated state and thus a spark does not occur and, as a result, noise can be prevented from being transmitted to the commercial power supply.

In accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, the water supply control rotation cam member is rotatably held by the cam drive shaft with a play in the circumferential direction of the cam drive shaft.

In accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, the cam drive shaft is formed with a second cam face, which is different from the water supply control rotation cam member, for operating a leaf contact piece of a second leaf switch which is different from the water supply control leaf switch, and the second cam face is rotated from a fixed end side of the second leaf contact piece toward a free end side of the second leaf contact piece. In a case that leaf contact pieces are respectively structured to contact with the water supply control rotation cam member and another second cam face, when leaf contact pieces are disposed so that their free ends are directed in the same directions, the size can be reduced. However, in this case, a cam face is rotated from a fixed end side of one of the leaf contact pieces to its free end side but, with respect to the other of the leaf contact pieces, a cam face is rotated from its free end side to its fixed end side and thus the other leaf contact piece is difficult to be immediately switched from a contacted state to a separated state. However, in this embodiment, the other leaf contact piece (leaf contact piece of the water supply control leaf switch) is structured to be immediately switched from a contacted state to a separated state. Therefore, even when the leaf contact pieces are disposed so that their free ends are directed in the same directions, the leaf contact pieces are immediately switched from a contacted state to a separated state.

According to at least an embodiment of the present invention, there may be provided an ice making device including an ice tray, a water-supply part for supplying water to the ice tray, a water-supply switch for controlling water supply from the water-supply part to the ice tray, a water-supply amount adjustment mechanism which includes an operation member for adjusting timings when the water-supply switch is turned on and turned off within an inside of the case body, and an opening which is formed in the case body so that the operation member is capable of being operated from an outside. The operation member is supported by a support shaft, which is formed on one of the operation member and the case body so as to be turnable around the support shaft and movable in an axial direction of the support shaft, and the operation member is urged in the axial direction of the support shaft toward the opening by a coiled spring which is made of metal and which is concentrically disposed with the support shaft, and a first stopper for coming-off prevention is structured for determining a position in the axial direction of the operation member against an urging force of the coiled spring.

In accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, the operation member is urged by a coiled spring which is concentrically disposed with a support shaft and thus the operation member is urged with a uniform force in the circumferential direction by the coiled spring. Therefore, the operation member is prevented from being inclined and caught by surrounding members. Further, deterioration due to creeping does not occur in a metal coiled spring even when the coiled spring is used under an elastically deformed state at a low temperature for a long time. Further, the metal coiled spring is superior in impact resistance and its characteristic variation due to temperature may not occur. In addition, a first stopper for coming off prevention, which determines a position in the axial direction of the operation member against an urging force of the coiled spring, is structured for the operation member and thus a deformed amount of the coiled spring can be restrained. Therefore, since a stress applied to the coiled spring is small when the operation member is not operated, a life time of the coiled spring can be longer.

In accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, a second stopper for coming-off prevention, which is used before the first stopper is structured, is structured for determining a position in the axial direction of the operation member against the urging force of the coiled spring. According to this structure, when the operation member is to be assembled, the operation member urged by the coiled spring is not required to be depressed and thus assembling work is easily performed.

In accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, a pressing range determining stopper is structured for determining a moving range in the axial direction when the operation member is pressed. According to this structure, when the operation member is pressed, the operation member is prevented from passing through the opening and from being caught by surrounding members, which may cause the operation member to be unable to return to its original state.

In accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, the coiled spring is made of nonmagnetic stainless steel. According to this structure, rust does not occur even when metal plating treatment having problems such as pinholes or remaining of toxic components of the metal plating solution is not used. Further, magnetic garbage or dust does not attach to the coiled spring made of nonmagnetic material.

Other features and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following detailed description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings that illustrate, by way of example, various features of embodiments of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Embodiments will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings which are meant to be exemplary, not limiting, and wherein like elements are numbered alike in several Figures, in which:

FIG. 1(A) is a perspective view showing an ice making device in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention which is viewed from a case side and FIG. 1(B) is a perspective view showing the ice making device which is viewed from an end plate side.

FIG. 2(A) is a perspective view showing a scraping-out member, FIG. 2(B) is a perspective view showing an ice tray and FIG. 2(C) is a perspective view showing a guide member, which are used in the ice making device shown in FIGS. 1(A) and 1(B).

FIG. 3(A) is a front view showing the ice making device shown in FIGS. 1(A) and 1(B) which is viewed from a front side, FIG. 3(B) is an explanatory side view showing a state where the scraping-out member of the ice making device is located at a home position, and FIG. 3(C) is an explanatory side view showing a state where the scraping-out member has been rotated from the home position.

FIG. 4(A) is a side view showing a structure of an ice detecting lever which is used in the ice making device in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, and FIG. 4(B) is an explanatory view showing its operation.

FIG. 5(A) is a perspective view showing an ice making device in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention which is viewed from a case side, and FIG. 5(B) is its perspective view which is viewed from an end plate side.

FIG. 6(A) is a front view showing the ice making device shown in FIGS. 5(A) and 5(B) which is viewed from a front side, FIG. 6(B) is an explanatory side view showing a state where the scraping-out member of the ice making device is located at a home position, and FIG. 6(C) is an explanatory side view showing a state where the scraping-out member has been rotated from the home position.

FIGS. 7(A) through 7(E) are explanatory perspective views showing a coming-off preventing measure provided in the ice detecting lever in the ice making device shown in FIGS. 5(A) and 5(B).

FIG. 8(A) through 8(D) are circuit diagrams showing different states in a schematic structure of a drive unit in the ice making device shown in FIGS. 5(A) and 5(B).

FIGS. 9(A) through 9(D) are circuit diagrams showing another different states in the schematic structure of the drive unit in the ice making device shown in FIGS. 5(A) and 5(B).

FIG. 10 is a timing chart showing an operation of the ice making device shown in FIGS. 5(A) and 5(B).

FIG. 11 is an explanatory view showing an inner case used in the drive unit and structural members disposed within the inner case in the ice making device shown in FIGS. 5(A) and 5(B).

FIG. 12(A) is a side view showing a rotation cam body in FIG. 11 in the ice making device shown in FIGS. 5(A) and 5(B), FIG. 12(B) is a perspective view showing a state where leaf contact pieces are arranged to the rotation cam body, and FIG. 12(C) is an exploded perspective view showing the rotation cam body.

FIG. 13 is an explanatory view showing an intermediate plate, which is used in the drive unit, and structural members which are disposed on the intermediate plate on a side facing an outer case in the ice making device shown in FIGS. 5(A) and 5(B).

FIG. 14 is an explanatory view showing three leaf contact pieces which structure a main switch in the ice making device shown in FIGS. 5(A) and 5(B).

FIG. 15(A) and 15(B) are explanatory views showing a water-supply switch which is structured in the ice making device shown in FIGS. 5(A) and 5(B).

FIG. 16(A) is an explanatory view showing a water-supply amount adjustment mechanism of the ice making device shown in FIGS. 5(A) and 5(B) in a state where an operation from the outside is not performed, and FIG. 16(B) is an explanatory view showing a state where an operation from the outside is performed.

FIG. 17(A) is an exploded perspective view showing a water-supply amount adjustment mechanism of the ice making device shown in FIGS. 5(A) and 5(B), and FIG. 17(B) is a side view showing in an assembling state.

FIGS. 18(A) through 18(F) are explanatory views showing an operation of the drive unit in the ice making device shown in FIGS. 5(A) and 5(B).

FIG. 19(A) is a perspective view showing an another structure of an ice detecting lever which is used in the ice making device in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, FIG. 19(B) is an explanatory view showing a connecting structure of a first side edge part of the ice detecting lever with a turning output member, and FIG. 19(C) is an explanatory view showing an assembling state of the ice detecting lever in manufacturing steps of the ice making device.

FIGS. 20(A), 20(B) and 20(C) are explanatory views showing a water-supply switch in a conventional ice making device.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

An ice making device in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, in which an ice quantity stored in an ice storage part is surely detected even when a moving trace of an ice detecting lever is set to be small will be described below with reference to the accompanying drawings.

FIG. 1(A) is a perspective view showing an ice making device in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention which is viewed from a case side and FIG. 1(B) is its perspective view which is viewed from an end plate side. FIG. 2(A) is a perspective view showing a scraping-out member, FIG. 2(B) is a perspective view showing an ice tray, and FIG. 2(C) is a perspective view showing a guide member, which are used in the ice making device shown in FIGS. 1(A) and 1(B). FIG. 3(A) is a front view showing the ice making device shown in FIGS. 1(A) and 1(B) which is viewed from a front side, FIG. 3(B) is an explanatory side view showing a state where the scraping-out member of the ice making device is located at a home position, and FIG. 3(C) is an explanatory side view showing a state where the scraping-out member has been rotated from the home position. In FIGS. 3(B) and 3(C), an ice detecting lever and the like are not shown.

In FIGS. 1(A) and 1(B), FIGS. 2(A), 2(B) and 2(C), and FIGS. 3(A), 3(B) and 3(C), an ice making device 1 in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention is a device which is disposed in a refrigerator or in a freezer for successively producing ice pieces and automatically discharges them into an ice storage part 1 a that is disposed on its lower side. The ice making device 1 includes an ice making unit 2 for producing ice pieces and a drive unit 3 which is disposed within the inside of a case body 4 for controlling scraping-out operation of the ice pieces. An ice detecting lever 60 is extended from a drive unit 3 toward an ice storage part 1a which is disposed on a lower side and the ice detecting lever 60 is also driven by the drive unit 3. Therefore, the drive unit 3 functions as an ice detecting lever drive mechanism together with a turning output member 69 and a turning-linear conversion mechanism 65a which will be described below.

In this embodiment, the ice making unit 2 includes an ice tray 21, a water-supply part 22 disposed on a rear side of the ice tray 21 for supplying water to the ice tray 21, a scraping-out member 23 of an ice discharging mechanism 1f for scraping out ice pieces produced in the ice tray 21, a guide member 24 for guiding the ice pieces which have been scraped out by the scraping-out member 23 to the ice storage part 1a which is located on a lower side of the ice tray 21, and an end plate 25 (ice detecting lever support part) which is stood up on a right side face of the ice tray 21 so as to face the drive unit 3.

The ice tray 21 is made of aluminum and surface treatment such as coating or alumite treatment is performed on the ice tray 21. A plurality of ice making grooves 215 (ice making recessed part) is formed on an upper face of the ice tray 21 by using partitioning plates 218 in a partitioned manner, and water supplied from the water-supply part 22 is stored in each of a plurality of the ice making grooves 215 to be frozen. A heater 26 is disposed on a bottom face of the ice tray 21 for heating the bottom face of the ice tray 21 when ice pieces are to be discharged from the ice tray 21. The heater 26 is integrated with the ice tray 21 by a method such as caulking. Two terminal parts 262 made of rubber for the heater 26 are protruded on a left side face of the ice tray 21 and terminals 261 are protruded from respective tip end feces of two terminal parts 262. A temperature detected part 219 with which a thermostat for monitoring temperature of the ice tray 21 is abutted is formed in a region between two terminal parts 262 on the ice tray 21.

The water-supply part 22 is disposed on a side (rear side) opposite to the side where ice pieces are discharged (front side) with respect to the ice tray 21 and the water-supply part 22 is provided with a water-supply port 221 which opens in a rear wall of the ice tray 21. Water is supplied to the water-supply part 22 through a water supply pipe 228 and a water-supply pump 220 is connected with the water supply pipe 228 as schematically shown in FIGS. 3(B) and 3(C).

The scraping-out member 23 is provided with a rotation shaft 231, which is extended in a lateral direction at an upper position of the ice tray 21, and a plurality of scraping-out parts 232 which is protruded like a pawl shape in the same direction from the rotation shaft 231. The scraping-out part 232 corresponds to the ice making groove 215 in a one-to-one manner. A right side end part of the rotation shaft 231 is rotatably supported by a cut-out part 211 formed in an edge part on a right side face 217 of the ice tray 21 and is rotatably supported by a shaft hole 250 formed in the end plate 25. Further, a flange part 239 formed at a right side end part of the rotation shaft 231 is abutted with an inner side face of the end plate 25 so that movement to the right side of the rotation shaft 231 is restricted. On the other hand, the other end of the rotation shaft 231 is formed in a “D”-cut portion 230, which is connected with a rotation cam body (cam body) disposed within the drive unit 3.

In the ice discharging mechanism If, the position of the scraping-out part 232 shown in FIG. 3(B) is a home position. The scraping-out part 232 is inclined at the home position toward a side opposite to a side where the water-supply port 221 is disposed across the rotation shaft 231. During the rotation shaft 231 is turned in a direction as shown by the arrow “A” from the home position to a state shown in FIG. 3(C), the scraping-out parts 232 make ice pieces in the ice making grooves 215 be separated from the ice tray 21 and, after mat, the ice pieces separated by the scraping-out parts 232 from the ice tray 21 are slid on the scraping-out parts 232 and an upper face of the guide member 24 to drop into the ice storage part 1a through the front side of the ice tray 21. Although the ice pieces separated from the ice tray 21 may not drop into the ice storage part 1a when the scraping-out part 232 is turned from the state shown in FIG. 3(B) to the state shown in FIG. 3(C), the ice pieces separated from the ice tray 21 have dropped into the ice storage part 1a till the scraping-out part 232 is returned to the home position shown in FIG. 3(B).

FIG. 4(A) is a side view showing a structure of an ice detecting lever 60 which is used in the ice making device 1 in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, and FIG. 4(B) is an explanatory view showing its operation.

In this embodiment, in order to drive or move an ice detecting lever 60, as shown in FIGS. 4(A) and 4(B), a reciprocated linear drive mechanism is structured for linearly moving the ice detecting lever 60 in upper and lower directions. In order to attain this structure, in this embodiment, a turning-linear conversion mechanism 65a is structured between a turning output member 69 and an end part of the ice detecting lever 60.

In this embodiment, a link mechanism is used as the turning-linear conversion mechanism 65a. More specifically, the turning-linear conversion mechanism 65a includes a first arm 651 as a turning arm, which is extended obliquely above on a front side from a turning output member 69 that is turned by a motor as a drive source provided in the inside of the case body 4, and a second arm 653 which is connected to a tip end part of the first arm 651 through a first joint 652, in other words, which is a connection arm for connecting the first arm 651 with the ice detecting lever 60. A lower end part of the second arm 653 is turnably connected through a second joint 654 with an upper end part of a perpendicular portion 60w of the ice detecting lever 60 which is vertically extended. Further, a guide 655 for the ice detecting lever 60 is provided for restricting the moving direction of the ice detecting lever 60 so that the perpendicular portion 60w is movably supported in the upper and lower directions. The upper end part of the ice detecting lever 60 is turnably connected to the lower end part of the second arm 653 and thus the ice detecting lever 60 is supported in a state where it is hung down from the lower end part of the second arm 653 by its own weight. In this state, the guide 655 is structured so as to movably support the ice detecting lever 60 in the upper and lower directions. Therefore, when the ice detecting lever 60 is moved down and the ice abutting part 605 is abutted with ice pieces stored in the ice storage part 1a, the perpendicular portion 60w of the ice detecting lever 60 is prevented from being inclined sideward. Accordingly, the position of the ice detecting lever 60 abutted with the ice pieces in the ice storage part 1a is accurately detected from an angular position of the first arm 651, i.e., from a turning angular position of the turning output member 69. In this embodiment, the guide 655 includes a projecting portion which is provided with an opening through which the perpendicular portion 60w of the ice detecting lever 60 is penetrated in the upper and lower direction and the guide 655 is formed on the front face of the ice making unit 2. In this embodiment, a similar turning-linear conversion mechanism 65a is structured between a second side end part of the ice detecting lever 60 and the end plate 25.

In this embodiment, the ice detecting lever 60 is structured such that a metal round bar is bent in a predetermined shape and the perpendicular portions 60w on both of the right and left sides are extended on the front side of the ice making unit 2 in a vertical direction. In the ice detecting lever 60, lower end parts of the perpendicular portions 60w on both of the right and left sides are connected with each other through an ice abutting part 605 which is extended in parallel or roughly parallel to a turning center axial line “S” of the turning output member 69. Further, the perpendicular portions 60w of the ice detecting lever 60 are bent rearward at a lower end side position. In other words, the lower end part of the ice detecting lever 60 is bent toward the ice tray 21 side so that the ice abutting part 605 of the ice detecting lever 60 is moved in the upper and lower directions at an under position of the ice tray 21. Therefore, the ice abutting part 605 is moved in an up-and-down direction under the ice tray 21.

According to the structure as described above, when the first arm 651 is turned by the turning output member 69, the second arm 653 is moved up and down. In this case, since the perpendicular portion 60w of the ice detecting lever 60 is supported and guided by the guide 655, the ice detecting lever 60 performs a reciprocated linear-motion in the upper and lower directions. Therefore, on the basis of whether downward movement of the ice abutting part 605 of the ice detecting lever 60 is obstructed by ice pieces “I” or not, it is judged whether ice pieces in the ice storage part 1a are in an insufficient state or not. Accordingly, when ice pieces “I” are not in an insufficient state in the ice storage part 1a (in other words, in a full state, but this may include a not-completely full state, for example, a state that ice pieces can be supplied one more time), next discharge of ice pieces to the ice storage part 1a can be stopped and thus ice pieces are not overflowed from the ice storage part 1a.

As described above, in this embodiment, since the ice detecting lever 60 is reciprocatedly moved in the upper and lower directions in a linear-motion manner, a moving trace of the ice detecting lever 60 is smaller in comparison with a case that the ice detecting lever 60 is swung or turned. Therefore, a quantity of stored ice pieces is detected by utilizing a narrow space. Further, even when ice pieces are dropped during an ice detecting operation, the moving trace of the ice detecting lever 60 is only in the upper and lower directions and thus ice pieces are not piled on the ice detecting lever 60. Therefore, the return operation of the ice detecting lever 60 which moves upward is not disturbed.

Further, a rotational drive force from a drive source which is disposed in the inside of the case body 4 is transmitted to the turning-linear conversion mechanism 65a through the turning output member 69 which is used for transmitting the rotational drive force to the outside of the case body 4. Therefore, a mechanism from the drive source to the turning output member 69 may be structured similarly to a conventional case where the ice detecting lever 60 is swung. As a result, design modification to the embodiment of the present invention may be performed by utilizing the conventional turning structure of the ice detecting lever 60 within the case body 4 as it is.

Further, in this embodiment, the lower end part of the ice detecting lever 60 is extended obliquely downward and the ice abutting part 605 is located at a just under position of the ice tray 21. Therefore, even when ice pieces are dropped during an ice detecting operation, the ice abutting part 605 does not obstruct dropping of the ice pieces. Further, even when ice pieces are dropped during an ice detecting operation, the ice pieces do not hit the ice abutting part 605 because the ice abutting part 605 is located under the ice tray 21 and thus deformation and damage of the ice abutting part 605 do not occur.

In addition, the ice abutting part 605 in the lower end part of the ice detecting lever 60 is extended in parallel or roughly parallel to the turning center axial line “S” of the turning output member 69 and thus the ice abutting part 605 is extended in a horizontal or roughly horizontal direction. Therefore, an ice quantity can be detected over a wide area of the ice storage part 1a and thus, even when an ice quantity is varied according to location, the ice quantity in the ice storage part 1a is detected with a high degree of accuracy.

In the embodiment described above, water supply to the ice tray 21 through the water-supply part 22 is controlled by using the water-supply pump 220 provided with an electric motor, but an electrically operated valve may be used instead of the water-supply pump 220. In this case, the electrically operated valve may be disposed at a midway position of a water supply passage, an exit of the water supply passage, or an exit of a water supply tank. As the electrically operated valve, an electromagnetic type of valve and a valve provided with an electric motor may be used.

Next, an ice making device in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention will be described below with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which an ice detecting lever is capable of being connected with a drive mechanism disposed within a case body at a final stage of assembling, in which a leaf switch used for automatically supplying water to an ice tray is capable of being instantaneously disconnected and, in which a relating structure to an operation member for supplying water is improved.

FIG. 5(A) is a perspective view showing an ice making device in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention which is viewed from a case side, and FIG. 5(B) is its perspective view which is viewed from an end plate side. FIG. 6(A) is a front view showing the ice making device shown in FIGS. 5(A) and 5(B) which is viewed from a front side, FIG. 6(B) is an explanatory side view showing a state where the scraping-out member of the ice making device is located at a home position, and FIG. 6(C) is an explanatory side view showing a state where the scraping-out member has been rotated from the home position. The scraping-out member, the ice tray and the guide member, which have been described with reference to FIGS. 2(A), 2(B) and 2(C), are used in this embodiment as they are.

In FIGS. 5(A) and 5(B) and FIGS. 6(A), 6(B) and 6(C), an ice making device 100 in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention is a device which successively produces ice pieces and automatically discharges them into an ice storage part 1a that is disposed on a lower side in a refrigerator or in a freezer. A basic structure of the ice making device 100 is similar to the structure of the ice making device 1 described above. In other words, the ice making device 100 also includes an ice making unit 2 for producing ice pieces and a drive unit 3 (drive control part) for controlling scraping-out operation of the ice pieces. These basic structures are similar to the structure of the ice making device 1 described above and thus their descriptions are omitted.

FIGS. 7(A) through 7(E) are explanatory views showing a coming-off preventing measure which is applied to the ice detecting lever 600 in the ice making device 100 in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

In FIGS. 5(A) and 5(B), the ice detecting lever 600 is provided with a first side end part 601, which is connected with the turning output member 690 that is provided in the case body 4, a second side end part 602 which is turnably supported by a shaft hole 251 of the end plate 25, and an intermediate portion 604 which is bent in a “U”-like shape between the first side end part 601 and the second side end part 602. A portion of the intermediate portion 604, which is disposed at a separated position from a turning center axial line “S” of the turning output member 690 and the ice detecting lever 600 and which is extended in parallel or roughly parallel to the turning center axial line “S”, is an ice abutting part 606 for abutting with ice pieces which are stored in the ice storage part 1a.

When the ice detecting lever 600 is mounted on the ice making device 100 at the final stage of its assembling steps by means of that the first side end part 601 is inserted into the case body 4 and the second side end part 602 is attached to the end plate 25, it is advantageous, for example, that the ice detecting lever 600 is not deformed and stained during transportation and the like. However, since the ice detecting lever 600 is structured with a round bar which has been bent in a predetermined shape, the ice detecting lever 600 is easy to be resiliently bent and thus, there is a problem that, only by insertion of the first side end part 601 of the ice detecting lever 60 into an opening part 694a of the turning output member 690 and, only by insertion of the second side end part 602 into the shaft hole 251 of the end plate 25, the ice detecting lever 600 may be come off from the case body 4 and the end plate 25 when the ice detecting lever 600 is resiliently bent.

In order to prevent this problem, in this embodiment, first, the second side end part 602 of the ice detecting lever 600 is inserted into the shaft hole 251 of the end plate 25 and a stopper 609 such as an E-ring is fitted to its penetrated portion. In addition, the first side end part 601 of the ice detecting lever 600 is provided with a structure which will be described below with reference to FIGS. 7(A) through 7(E).

As shown in FIGS. 7(A) and 7(B), the first side end part 601 of the ice detecting lever 600 is provided with a first end part 601a, which is extended in a direction of the turning center axial line “S” of the turning output member 690, and a second end part 601b which is disposed on a shaft end side with respect to the first end part 601a and bent in a direction crossing, i.e., perpendicular to the turning center axial line “S”.

The turning output member 690 which is turned on the case body 4 side is structured of two-stage cylindrical parts 691 and 692 which are connected with each other in the axial direction, and the cylindrical part 692 having a smaller diameter is turnably supported by the case body 4. Further, a back face of the cylindrical part 691 having a larger diameter is provided with a connecting shaft 693, which is connected with a driving mechanism that is disposed in the inside of the case body 4, at a position displaced from the turning center axial line “S”. A circular hole 401 to which the cylindrical part 691 is fitted is formed in the case body 4 (see FIG. 5(B)) and the turning output member 690 is turnable in the hole 401 with the axial line as the turning center.

As shown in FIGS. 7(B), 7(C), 7(D) and 7(E), an exposed portion from the case body 4 of the cylindrical part 691 of the turning output member 690 is a coming-off preventing plate 694 provided with an opening part 694a at a position displaced from the turning center axial line “S”. A space portion on the back face side which is adjacent to the coming-off preventing plate 694 is a shaft end receiving part 695 formed in a hollow shape for receiving the second end part 601b. The hollow shaft end receiving part 695 is a narrow gap space provided with interference parts 696 facing each other on both sides of the direction along the turning center axial tine “S”. Therefore, when the turning output member 690 is turned with the turning center axial line “S” as its center, the turning motion is transmitted to the second end part 601b through the interference part 696 and thus the ice detecting lever 600 is turned with the turning center axial line “S” as its center.

According to this structure, as shown in FIG. 7(B), the ice detecting lever 600 is inclined so that the second end part 601b of the first side end part 601 is inserted into the opening part 694a of the coming-off preventing plate 694 and then a bent part 601c between the first end part 601a and the second end part 601b is set to locate at the opening part 694a and the ice detecting lever 600 is turned as shown in FIGS. 7(C) and 7(D). As a result, the first end part 601a becomes in parallel to the turning center axial line “S” in a state that the second end part 601b is abutted with the back face of the coming-off preventing plate 694. Therefore, in this state, when the first end part 601a and the second end part 601b are pressed into the shaft end receiving part 695 as they are, the first side end part 601 of the ice detecting lever 600 and the turning output member 690 are connected with each other in an integrally turnable manner at the final stage of the assembling steps of the ice making device 100. Further, even when the ice detecting lever 600 is resiliently bent, the second end part 601b is engaged with the coming-off preventing plate 694 and thus the first side end part 601 of the ice detecting lever 600 is prevented from coming off from the turning output member 690.

Therefore, in a state that the ice making device 100 is arranged in an ice making space provided with a door in a refrigerator, the ice detecting lever 600 and the ice storage part 1a may be disposed on a side nearer to the door of the refrigerator with respect to the ice tray 21. According to this structure, although ice pieces are capable of being easily taken out from the ice storage part 1a, when food is to be put in or taken out, a hand or food may be easily touched with the ice detecting lever 600 to cause it to be resiliently bent. However, in this embodiment, even when the ice detecting lever 600 is resiliently bent, the ice detecting lever 600 does not come off from the case body 4 and the end plate 25.

Further, in this embodiment, since the opening part 694a is provided at a position displaced from the turing center axial line “S” of the coming-off preventing plate 694, a diameter of the coming-off preventing plate 694 may be set a little larger than a length dimension of the second end part 601b and thus an outer diameter dimension of the turning output member 69 may be reduced. However, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, it may be structured that a radius of the coming-off preventing plate 694 is set to be a little larger than the length dimension of the second end part 601b and the opening part 694a is disposed on the turning center axial line “S” of the coming-off preventing plate 694.

FIGS. 8(A) through 8(D) and FIGS. 9(A) through 9(D) are circuit diagrams showing a schematic structure of the drive unit 3 of the ice making device 100 shown in FIGS. 5(A) and 5(B). FIG. 10 is a timing chart showing an operation of the ice making device 100 shown in FIGS. 5(A) and 5(B).

As shown in FIG. 8(A), the drive unit 3 of the ice making device 100 in this embodiment includes a thermostat 91 for monitoring temperature of the ice tray 21, a motor 5 for driving the rotation shaft 231, a main switch 72 for performing opening/closing operation with rotating operation of the rotation cam body 55 shown in FIG. 6(A) in an interlocked manner, a water-supply switch 73 (water-supply control part) for controlling a water-supply pump 220 with the rotating operation of the rotation cam body 55 in an interlocked manner, an ice detecting switch 71 for monitoring whether ice pieces in the ice storage part 1a are in an ice insufficient state or in an ice full state, and a fuse 1g. Further, the ice making device 100 also includes a transmission mechanism for transmitting rotation output of the motor 5 to the rotation cam body 55, a torque limiter which is disposed at a midway position of the transmission mechanism and the like.

In this embodiment, a commercial power supply is used as a power supply “V”, which is supplied to the motor 5, an electric motor PM of a water-supply pump 220, and a heater 26. The electric motor PM of the water-supply pump 220 and the water-supply switch 73 is electrically serially-connected with each other and thus supply of the commercial power supply to the electric motor PM of the water-supply pump 220 is controlled in an interlocked manner with connecting/disconnecting of the water-supply switch 73.

Next, basic operations of the ice making device 100 will be described below with reference to the chart in FIG. 10. First, after water has been supplied to the ice tray 21 from the water-supply port 221, ice making operation is started in the ice tray 21. Power supply to the motor 5 and the heater 26 has been stopped and, as shown in FIG. 6(B), the scraping-out part 232 has been stopped at a home position where the scraping-out part 232 is inclined on an opposite side to the water-supply port 221. In this state, as shown in FIG. 8(A), the main switch 72 is in a first state where the thermostat 91 and the water-supply switch 73 are in an off state. Further, an ice detecting switch 71 is in an insufficient state of ice pieces (first state).

At the time point “T0”, when temperature of the ice tray 21 is detected to be a predetermined temperature or lower on the basis of a monitoring result of the thermostat 91 to the ice tray 21, as shown in FIG. 8(B), the thermostat 91 becomes in an ON state to start energization to the motor 5 and the heater 26. As a result, the rotation cam body 55 is rotated and, with its rotation, the scraping-out member 23 starts turning in a direction shown by the arrow “A” in FIG. 6(B) and the heater 26 starts to warm the ice tray 21.

Next, at the time point “T1”, the main switch 72 is switched to a second state as shown in FIG. 8(C). Even when the main switch 72 is switched to the second state, the energization to the motor 5 and the heater 26 is continued. Therefore, the scraping-out member 23 is driven by the motor 5 and tip end parts of the scraping-out parts 232 are abutted with upper faces of ice pieces having been made in the ice tray 21. However, at this time point, the temperature of the ice tray 21 is low and thus an adhesive force of ice to the ice tray 21 is large. Therefore, turning of the scraping-out member 23 is prevented by the ice in the ice tray 21 and thus the scraping-out member 23 is stopped in a state where the tip end parts of the scraping-out parts 232 are abutted with the upper faces of the ice pieces in the ice tray 21. In this embodiment, a torque limiter is arranged at a midway position of a power transmission path from the motor 5 to the scraping-out member 23 and thus the motor 5 continues rotating while turning of the scraping-out member 23 is stopped and a torque limited by the torque limiter 8 is continuously applied to the ice pieces.

When the ice pieces are separated from the ice tray 21 due to heating by the heater 26, the scraping-out member 23 connected with the rotation cam body 55 starts turning again in the scraping-out direction of the ice pieces and next, an ice detecting operation is performed. At the time point “T2”, an end portion of the ice detecting lever 600 is moved upward from the ice storage part 1a. As a result, as shown in FIG. 8(D), the ice detecting switch 71 is switched to a position of a second state (ice full state) from a first suite (ice insufficient state). Around this time, discharge of the ice pieces is started and, after all the ice pieces produced are dropped into the ice storage part 1a, next, at the time point “T3”, an ice abutting part 606 that is a tip end part of the ice detecting lever 600 is moved downward toward the ice storage room 1a again. In this case, when the ice storage part 1a is in an insufficient state of ice pieces, the ice abutting part 606 that is the tip end part of the ice detecting lever 600 can be moved downward and thus, as shown in FIG. 8(C), the ice detecting switch 71 is returned to the first state from the second state.

Next, at the time point “T4”, when temperature of the ice tray 21 is detected to be above the predetermined temperature on the basis of a monitoring result of the thermostat 91 to the ice tray 21, as shown in FIG. 9(A), since the thermostat 91 becomes in an off state, energization to the heater 26 is stopped. However, energization to the motor 5 is continued.

Next, at the time point “T5”, as shown in FIG. 9(B), when the water-supply switch 73 is turned to an ON state, supply of the commercial power supply is started to the water-supply pump 220 to supply water to the ice tray 21 through the water-supply port 221. In this case, a resistance value of the healer 26 is small and thus the heater 26 is utilized as a part of wiring when an electric current is supplied to the water-supply pump 220. In this time point, the scraping-out part 232 has already completely passed through near the water-supply port 221 and reached to the state where the scraping-out part 232 is inclined on the opposite side to the water-supply port 221.

Next, at the time point “T6”, as shown in FIG. 9(C), when the water-supply switch 73 is turned to an OFF state, energization to the water-supply pump 220 is stopped and water supply to the ice tray 21 through the water-supply port 221 is finished. Next, at the time point “T7”, power supply to the motor 5 is stopped and the scraping-out part 232 is stopped at the home position where the scraping-out part 232 is inclined on the opposite side to the water-supply port 221. In the meantime, the main switch 72 is returned to the first state as shown in FIG. 8(A). After that, ice pieces are produced in the ice tray 21 again and the above-mentioned operations are repeated.

In this embodiment, after the end portion of the ice detecting lever 600 is moved upward from the ice storage part 1a at the time point “T2” and, when the end portion is moved down again toward the ice storage part 1a at the time point “T3”, in a case that the ice storage part 1a is in an ice full state, the ice abutting part 606 that is the end portion of the ice detecting lever 60 is unable to move down to the position where the second state is turned to the first state (ice insufficient state) and thus the ice detecting switch 71 remains the second state as shown in FIG. 8(D). However, even in this state, energization to the heater 26 and the motor 5 is continued and thus operation for returning to the home position is performed. When the ice storage part 1a is in ice full state, the ice detecting switch 71 remains the second state in subsequent operations as shown in FIG. 9(D). Therefore, even when temperature of the ice tray 21 becomes lower than the predetermined temperature and the thermostat 91 is turned to an ON state, energization to the heater 26 and the motor 6 is not performed. Accordingly, when amount of ice pieces in the ice storage part 1a is decreased and the ice detecting switch 71 is returned from the second state to the first state, energization to the heater 26 and the motor 6 is started.

As described above, in the ice making device 100 in this embodiment, ice pieces are successively produced and the ice pieces are automatically discharged to the ice storage part 1a disposed on the lower side. Further, amount of ice pieces is detected in the ice storage part 1a and, when the ice storage part 1a is in an ice full state, discharge of ice pieces to the ice storage part 1a is stopped and thus ice pieces do not overflow from the ice storage part 1a.

FIG. 11 is an explanatory view showing an inner case used in the drive unit and members disposed within the inner case in the ice making device 100 shown in FIGS. 5(A) and 5(B).

As shown in FIG. 6(A), the drive unit 3 is provided with the case body 4, the inside of which is disposed with the motor 5 described with reference to FIG. 8(A), the main switch 72 comprised of a leaf switch, the water-supply switch 73 (water-supply control part) comprised of a leaf switch, the ice detecting switch 71 comprised of a leaf switch and the like. In this embodiment, the case body 4 is provided with a rectangular measure-shaped inner case 41, an intermediate plate 42 (first partition plate) and a rectangular measure-shaped outer case 43. The case body 4 is structured by putting both edge parts of the inner case 41 and the outer case 43 together so as to sandwich the intermediate plate 42 from both right and left sides. In this state, a first space 46 is formed between the inner case 41 and the intermediate plate 42 in a partitioned manner and a second space 47 is formed between the outer case 43 and the intermediate plate 42 in a partitioned manner. The first space 46 and the second space 47 are respectively used for disposing the following mechanisms and the like.

As shown in FIG. 11, the thermostat 91 is fixed on a bottom part of the inner case 41 in the first space 46 between the inner case 41 and the intermediate plate 42. Further, in the ice tray 21 of the ice making device 100 in this embodiment, as shown in FIG. 2(B), terminal parts 262 (coupling engagement part) made of rubber for the heater 26 are protruded toward the drive unit 3. On the other hand, as shown in FIG. 11, in the case body 4 of the drive unit 3, recessed parts 411 (coupling engaged part) which open toward an outer side of the inner case 41 are formed at both side positions of the thermostat 91 in the bottom part of the inner case 41. A through hole 412 is formed in the recessed part 411. Further, a connecting terminal 92 is disposed on the bottom part of the inner case 41 so as to expose within the through hole 412. Therefore, after the drive unit 3 and the ice making unit 2 have respectively assembled, when the terminal part 262 protruding from the ice tray 21 is fitted to the recessed part 411 of the inner case 41, the ice making unit 2 and the drive unit 3 are connected with each other and the terminal 261 of the heater 26 is electrically connected to the connecting terminal 92 at a fitting position of the terminal part 262 to the recessed part 411. Further, a grounding member 45 is disposed on an outer face side of the bottom part of the inner case 41 at a position capable of abutting with the ice tray 21. When a portion where the grounding member 45 is disposed and the ice tray 21 are fixed to each other in the inner case 41 with a metal screw for ground connection, the ice tray 21 is grounded. In this state, the thermostat 91 is abutted with a temperature detected part 219 of the ice tray 21 and thus temperature of the ice tray 21 can be monitored. In addition, when the ice making unit 2 is coupled to the drive unit 3, a “D”-cut portion 230 of the rotation shaft 231 is automatically fitted into a connecting opening 55u of the rotation cam body 55 whose cross section is “D”-shape, which will be described below with reference to FIG. 12(A).

Therefore, after the ice making unit 2 and the drive unit 3 have been separately assembled, the ice making device 100 can be assembled only by coupling the ice making unit 2 with the drive unit 3. Accordingly, assembling steps can be simplified in comparison with a case that members structuring the drive unit are separately and successively assembled into the ice making unit 2 several times.

FIG. 12(A) is a side view showing the rotation cam body shown in FIG. 11 in the ice making device 100 shown in FIGS. 5(A) and 5(B), FIG. 12(B) is a perspective view showing a state where leaf contact pieces are disposed to the rotation cam body, and FIG. 12(C) is an exploded perspective view showing the rotation cam body.

As shown in FIG. 6(A), the rotation cam body 55 is disposed on the bottom part of the inner case 41 in the first space 46 which is formed between the inner case 41 and the intermediate plate 42. An upper end side of the rotation cam body 55 is protruded into the second space 47, which is formed between the intermediate plate 42 and the outer case 43, through a through hole 421 formed in the intermediate plate 42.

In the first space 46 formed between the inner case 41 and the intermediate plate 42, as shown in FIG. 11, the motor 5 is disposed at a side position of the rotation cam body 55 on the bottom part of the inner case 41. In this embodiment, the motor 5 is, for example, an AC synchronous motor. Further, the transmission mechanism 50 for transmitting rotation of the motor 5 to the rotation shaft 231 of the ice making unit 2 is formed in the first space 46. The transmission mechanism 50 includes a rotor pinion 51 rotatably supported by a fixed shaft of the motor 5, the torque limiter 8 provided with an outer teeth gear 502 (input part) having a large diameter which engages with the rotor pinion 51, a partially tooth-missing gear 503 structuring an output part of the torque limiter 8, a gear body 52 provided with an outer teeth gear 504 having a large diameter which is moved by the partially tooth-missing gear 503, a gear body 53 provided with an outer teeth gear 506 having a large diameter which engages with an outer teeth gear (not shown) having a small diameter of the gear body 52, and the rotation cam body 55 provided with an outer teeth gear 54 having a large diameter which engages with an outer teeth gear having a small diameter of the gear body 53.

A tip end part of an output shaft of the motor 5 is supported by the intermediate plate 42 and support shafts for rotatably supporting the torque limiter 8, the gear body 52 and the gear body 53 are supported by an end plate 5a of the motor 5 and the intermediate plate 42. Further, the rotation cam body 55 is rotatably supported by the bottom part of the inner case 41 and the intermediate plate 42.

As shown in FIG. 12(A), the rotation cam body 55 is provided with a cylindrical part 55s extending from the outer teeth gear 54 toward a lower side. The cylindrical part 55s is formed with a connecting opening 55u so that a cross section of its inlet portion is a “D”-shape, and a “D”-cut portion 230 of the rotation shaft 231 is fitted into the connecting opening 55u to transmit turning of the rotation cam body 55 to the rotation shaft 231.

As described above, in this embodiment, since the torque limiter 8 is disposed on a preceding stage side (motor side) of the transmission mechanism 50, the gear structuring the transmission mechanism 50 is not damaged. In other words, when ice pieces formed in the ice tray 21 are to be scraped out by the scraping-out part 232 which is formed on the rotation shaft 231 of the ice making unit 2, immediately after the heater 26 starts heating, ice pieces may not be separated from the ice tray 21. In this state, when the rotation shaft 231 is to be turned for scraping out the ice pieces from the ice tray 21 by using the scraping-out part 232, load is applied to the scraping-out part 232 through the adhered ice pieces to apply an excessive load to the transmission mechanism 50 for transmitting rotational force of the motor 5 to the rotation shaft 231. As a result, the gear structuring the transmission mechanism 50 may be damaged. However, in this embodiment, the excessive load is intercepted by the torque limiter 8 and is not transmitted to the succeeding stage.

FIG. 13 is an explanatory view showing the intermediate plate 42 which is used in the drive unit and members which are disposed on the intermediate plate 42 on a side facing the outer case 43 in the ice making device 100 shown in FIGS. 5(A) and 5(B).

In this embodiment, an ice detecting mechanism 6 tor detecting an ice quantity in the ice storage part 1a through the ice detecting lever 600 shown in FIGS. 5(A) and 5(B) is structured by utilizing the first space 46 between the inner case 41 and the intermediate plate 42 and the second space 47 between the intermediate plate 42 and the outer case 43 shown in FIG. 6(A).

In this embodiment, the ice detecting mechanism 6 includes a lever drive mechanism 65, which is generally structured in the first space 46 between the inner case 41 and the intermediate plate 42 as shown in FIG. 11, a lever position detecting mechanism 75, which is structured in the second space 47 between the intermediate plate 42 and the outer case 43, and an ice detecting switch 71, which is structured in the second space 47 between the intermediate plate 42 and the outer case 43 as shown in FIG. 13. The ice detecting switch 71 is turned on and off by the lever position detecting mechanism 75.

As shown in FIG. 11 and FIG. 12(A), the lever drive mechanism 65 includes a cam part 55t, which is circumferentially formed on the cylindrical part 55s that is formed on the lower end side of the rotation cam body 55, a first drive lever 61 which is moved by a cam face of the cam part 55t to drive the ice detecting lever 60, a torsion coiled spring 66 which urges the first drive lever 61, and a second drive lever 62 which holds an end part of the ice detecting lever 60.

The first drive lever 61 is provided with a pawl part 611 abutting with the cam part 55t, a support shaft

612 having a cylindrical shape which is extended in the axial direction, and a transmission part 614 which is located on an opposite side to the pawl part 611 with respect to the support shaft 612. A “U”-shaped cut-out part

613 is formed in the transmission part 614. Therefore, when the rotation cam body 55 is rotated according to rotation of the motor 5 and the cam part 55t is rotated, the pawl part 611 is pushed by the cam part 55t and the first drive lever 61 is turned with the support shaft 612 as its turning center against an urging force of the torsion coiled spring 66 by a predetermined angular range in a direction shown by the arrow C1 in FIG. 11. On the other hand, when the pawl part 611 faces a small diameter portion of the cam face, the first drive lever 61 is turned by the urging force of the torsion coiled spring 66 with the support shaft 612 as its turning center in a reverse direction shown by the arrow C2 and returned to its original position.

The second drive lever 62 is provided with a cylindrical part 621, which is connected with an end part of the ice detecting lever 600 through the turning output member 690 shown in FIGS. 5(A) and 5(B), a transmitting projection 623 which is protruded from a side face of the cylindrical part 621, and a small projection 622 which is protruded from the side face of the cylindrical part 621 on a substantially opposite side to the transmitting projection 623. A pin 623a protruded from an under face of the transmitting projection 623 is fitted into the “U”-shaped cut-out part 613 which is formed in the first drive lever 61. Therefore, when the first drive lever 61 is turned in the direction shown by the arrow C1, the second drive lever 62 is turned in the direction shown by the arrow D1 with the cylindrical part 621 as its turning center and, on the other hand, when the first drive lever 61 is turned in the direction shown by the arrow C2, the second drive lever 62 is turned in the direction shown by the arrow D2 with the cylindrical part 621 as its turning center. In this manner, the ice detecting lever 600 is driven. In this embodiment, the intermediate plate 42 is formed with a stopper 629a which prevents the projection 623 of the second drive lever 62 from turning more than a predetermined range in the direction shown by the arrow D2 and a stopper 629b which prevents from turning more than the predetermined range in the direction shown by the arrow D1.

A flat spring 63 is disposed at a side position of the cylindrical part 621 and, when the ice detecting lever 600 is manually lifted upward, the small projection 622 of the second drive lever 62 climbs over a projection 63a of the flat spring 63 to maintain the lifted state of the ice detecting lever 600. In this state, the ice making device 100 becomes the same state as the ice full state and thus operation of the ice making device 100 is stopped.

As shown in FIG. 13, an upper half part of the cylindrical part 621 is penetrated through the intermediate plate 42 and the second drive lever 62 is located in the second space 47 between the intermediate plate 42 and the outer case 43. The lever position detecting mechanism 75 includes a projection 625 (engagement part), which is formed on an outer peripheral face of an upper end part of the cylindrical part 621 (turning shaft) of the second drive lever 62 (driving member), a moved ring 751 (moved member), which is mounted around the upper end part of the cylindrical part 621 on the intermediate plate 42, and a pressing lever 753 (transmission member) whose posture is changed by a protruded part 752 that is protruded from an outer peripheral face (cam face) of the moved ring 751. The pressing lever 753 is provided with a cylindrical part 753a which is fitted to a protruded part formed on the intermediate plate 42, a connecting part 753b which is extended from the cylindrical part 753a, a first protruded part 753c which is protruded from a tip end part of the connecting part 753b toward the moved ring 751, and a second protruded part 753d which is protruded from the tip aid part of the connecting part 753b on an opposite side to the first protruded part 753c.

In the lever position detecting mechanism 75, a cut-out part 755 (recessed part)which is extended in a circumferential direction is formed on a rear face of the protruded part 752 of the moved ring 751 and on an inner peripheral side of a hole through which the cylindrical part 621 is penetrated. The projection 625 which is formed on the cylindrical part 621 of the second drive lever 62 is located in the inside of the cut-out part 755 so as to have a certain play with respect to end parts 755a and 755b in the circumferential direction of the cut-out part 755. According to this structure, a transmission part for transmitting movement of the second drive lever 62 to the moved ring 751 is formed between the second drive lever 62 and the moved ring 751 so as to separate from each other by a predetermined dimension in the circumferential direction.

In the lever position detecting mechanism 75 structured as described above, when the second drive lever 62 is turned in the direction of the arrow D1, i.e., when the ice detecting lever 600 is moved upward, the movement is transmitted to the moved ring 751 by means of that the projection 625 is abutted with the end part 755b located on the arrow D1 side in the circumferential direction of the cut-out part 755. As a result, the moved ring 751 is turned in the direction shown by the arrow D1 in an interlocked manner with the second drive lever 62. Therefore, the first protruded part 753c of the pressing lever 753 is shifted from a state that the first protruded part 753c is abutted with a peripheral face of the moved ring 751 where the protruded part 752 is not formed (lower part of the moved member) to a state that the first protruded part 753c is abutted with a slant face 752a of the protruded part 752, in other words, the first protruded part 753c becomes a state just before abutting with an outer peripheral face of the protruded part 752 (higher portion of the moved member). Accordingly, the pressing lever 753 is turned in the direction shown by the arrow E1 with the cylindrical part 753a as its turning center to make the ice detecting switch 71 turn on and turn off through the second protruded part 753d.

In this embodiment, the ice detecting switch 71 is a leaf switch, which is structured of three leaf contact pieces 711,712 and 713. Two leaf contact pieces 712 and 713 are disposed in a fixed state but the leaf contact piece 711 is capable of abutting with the pressing lever 753 to be shifted. More specifically, when the second protruded part 753d of the pressing lever 753 is not abutted with the leaf contact piece 711, the leaf contact piece 711 is abutted with an end part 713a of the leaf contact piece 713, which is extended on an opposite side to the leaf contact piece 712 with respect to the leaf contact piece 711 so as to face the leaf contact piece 711, and the leaf contact piece 711 and the leaf contact piece 713 are in a contacted state with each other. On the other hand, when the leaf contact piece 711 is pressed by the second protruded part 753d of the pressing lever 753, the leaf contact piece 711b deformed to a side of the leaf contact piece 712 and thus the leaf contact piece 711 is apart from the end part 713a of the leaf contact piece 713 to be in a contacted state with the leaf contact piece 712.

In the ice detecting mechanism 6 as structured above, the leaf contact piece 711 has been abutted with the end part 713a of the leaf contact piece 713 until rotation of the motor 5 is started. In order to detect ice quantity in the ice storage part 1a, when the rotation cam body 55 is rotated by the motor 5 to turn the first drive lever 61 in the direction as shown by the arrow C1, the second drive lever 62 is turned in the direction as shown by the arrow D1 with the cylindrical part 621 as its turning center. As a result, the ice detecting lever 600 is turned as shown by the arrow F1 in FIGS. 6(A) and 6(B) and its end part is moved upward. In this case, the second drive lever 62 is turned in the direction as shown by the arrow D1 and the moved ring 751 is also turned in the direction as shown by the arrow D1 and thus the protruded part 752 of the moved ring 751 pushes the first protruded part 753c of the pressing lever 753. Therefore, since the pressing lever 753 is turned in the direction as shown by the arrow E1, the leaf contact piece 711 is separated from the end part 713a and contacted with the leaf contact piece 712. Further, in the state that the pressing lever 753 is abutted with the outer peripheral face of the protruded part 752 of the moved ring 751, the leaf contact piece 711 is stably contacted with the leaf contact piece 712.

When the rotation cam body 55 is further rotated through rotation of the motor 5, the first drive lever 61 is turned in the reverse direction as shown by the arrow C2 and thus the second drive lever 62 begins to turn in the direction as shown by the arrow D2 around the cylindrical part 621. As a result, the ice detecting lever 600 is turned as shown by the arrow F2 in FIGS. 6(A) and 6(B) to allow its end part to move downward.

In this case, when ice pieces are in an insufficient state in the ice storage part 1a, the ice detecting lever 600 is allowed to move downward. Therefore, when the second drive lever 62 is turned in the direction as shown by the arrow D2 and the projection 625 pushes the end part 755a of the cut-out part 755, the moved ring 751 is turned in the direction as shown by the arrow D2. In this embodiment, a timing when the first protruded part 753c of the pressing lever 753 is abutted with the slant face 752a of the protruded part 752 of the moved ring 751 is set as a boundary between an ice insufficient state and an ice full state in the ice storage part 1a. Therefore, ice quantity in the ice storage part 1a is detected on the basis of on-and-off operation of the ice detecting switch 71.

In this embodiment, the moved ring 751 is moved by the second drive lever 62 with a predetermined play and thus, even when the second drive lever 62 begins to be turned in the direction as shown by the arrow D2 after having turned as shown by the arrow D1, the moved ring 751 is not moved while the projection 625 is moved through the inside of the cut-out part 755. On the other hand, the leaf contact piece 711 applies an urging force, which is going to be returned from an elastically deformed state, to the pressing lever 753. Therefore, when the second drive lever 62 is turned in the direction as shown by the arrow D2, the pressing lever 753 presses the slant face 752a which is formed in the protruded part 752 of the moved ring 751 to move the moved ring 751 in the direction as shown by the arrow D2. Accordingly, the moved ring 751 has been turned before the moved ring 751 is driven by the second drive lever 62. As a result, the leaf contact piece 711 is immediately returned from the elastically deformed state to the original position even before the moved ring 751 is driven by the second drive lever 62 and thus the ice detecting switch 71 is immediately returned to the state where the leaf contact piece 711 is contacted with the end part 713a of the leaf contact piece 713. Therefore, even when operation is transmitted to the ice detecting switch 71 through a cam mechanism, an unstable region where a contacted state and a separated state between the leaf contact pieces 711,712 and 713 are not clearly distinguished from each other does not occur in the ice detecting switch 71 and thus an electrical failure does not occur.

When the ice storage part 1a is in an ice full state, downward moving of the ice detecting lever 600 is prevented by ice pieces and thus turning of the second drive lever 62 in the direction as shown by the arrow D2 is prevented. Therefore, the state where the leaf contact piece 711 is contacted with the leaf contact piece 712 is maintained. When the downward moving of the ice detecting lever 600 is prevented by ice pieces, since the first drive lever 61 is prevented from turning to the direction shown by the arrow C2, the pawl part 611 of the first drive lever 61 cannot be moved toward the cam part 55t of the rotation cam body 55 in the direction shown by the arrow C2 and thus, even when the rotation cam body 55 is rotated, the ice detecting lever 60 is not moved downward from the position where turning is restricted by the ice pieces.

FIG. 14 is an explanatory view showing three leaf contact pieces which structure a main switch of the ice making device shown in FIGS. 5(A) and 5(B). In this embodiment a main switch 72 is structured by utilizing the second space 47 formed between the intermediate plate 42 and the outer case 43 which are shown in FIG. 6(A). In order to structure the main switch 72, an upper half portion of the rotation cam body 55 is utilized which is protruded from the first space 46 into the second space 47 through a through hole 421 of the intermediate plate 42.

As shown in FIGS. 12(A) and 12(B), the rotation cam body 55 is formed in a multi-stage shape in which a large diameter part 553, a middle diameter part 554 having a smaller diameter than the large diameter part 553, a first cam part 558 having a smaller diameter than the middle diameter part 554, a second cam part 559 having a smaller diameter than the first cam part 558, and a small diameter part 555 having a smaller diameter than the second cam part 559 are formed upward from the outer teeth gear 54 in this order, and these stepped parts are located in the second space 47. Respective side faces of the first cam part 558 and the second cam part 559 are formed as cam faces which are provided with stepped parts 558b and 559b (see FIG. 13) whose diameter is sharply varied in the circumferential direction. Diameters of the cam faces increase from the stepped parts 558b and 559b. Positions of the stepped parts 558b and 559b of the first cam part 558 and the second cam part 559 are shifted to each other in the circumferential direction, and the stepped part 559b is located backward to the stepped part 558b in the direction as shown by the arrow B. In this embodiment, the middle diameter part 554 is formed with a projecting part 556 for operating a leaf contact piece of a water-supply switch 73 which will be described below.

As shown in FIGS. 12(B), 13 and 14, three leaf contact pieces 721,722 and 723 which structure the main switch 72 (leaf switch) are extended toward the rotation cam body 55 on the intermediate plate 42. The leaf contact piece 723 is disposed at the nearest position to a center axis line of the rotation cam body 55, the leaf contact piece 722 is disposed on its outer side, and the leaf contact piece 721 is disposed on its further outer side. A tip end part 723c of the leaf contact piece 723 is elastically abutted with a side face of the second cam part 559. In an initial state, a tip end part 722c of the leaf contact piece 722 is located on a lower portion of the stepped part 558b and is elastically abutted with the leaf contact piece 723. On the other hand, a tip end part 721c of the leaf contact piece 721 is elastically abutted with a side face of the first cam part 558.

In this embodiment, the three leaf contact pieces 721,722 and 723 are disposed in a parallel manner so that their fixed ends and free ends are respectively directed toward the same direction, and the rotation cam body 55 is rotated from sides where the fixed ends of the leaf contact pieces 721,722 and 723 are located toward sides where their free ends are located with respect to all of the three leaf contact pieces 721,722 and 723. Therefore, after being pressed toward an outer side in the radial direction by protruded parts of the rotation cam body 55, when the protruded parts have passed through, three leaf contact pieces 721, 722 and 723 are immediately returned to their original shapes respectively.

In this embodiment, the leaf contact piece 723 is linearly extended from its base end and then perpendicularly bent upward and extended horizontally again. A lower end edge of the tip end part 723c slides on an upper face of the first cam part 558. On the other hand, the leaf contact pieces 721 and 722 are linearly extended from their base ends at the same height position as the base end of the leaf contact piece 723 and their tip end parts 721c and 722c are formed in an upward enlarged shape so that their widths are increased and upper end edges of the tip end parts 721c and 722c are located at the same height position as an upper end edge of the tip end part 723c of the leaf contact piece 723. Further, a tip end edge of the leaf contact piece 721 is slightly protruded to the tip end side with respect to the tip end edge of the leaf contact piece 722. When the rotation cam body 55 is rotated in the direction as shown by the arrow B, the tip end parts 721c and 722c of the leaf contact pieces 721 and 722 which are structured as described above move along the side face of the first cam part 558 and lower end edges of the tip end parts 721c and 722c slide on an upper face of the middle diameter part 554.

In an initial state of the main switch 72 structured as described above, the leaf contact piece 723 is located on a higher portion of the stepped part 559b and the leaf contact piece 722 is located on a lower side of the stepped part 558b and abutted with the leaf contact piece 723. When the rotation cam body 55 is rotated in the direction as shown by the arrow B from this state, the tip end part 723c of the leaf contact piece 723 is dropped to a lower portion of the stepped part 559b and thus the leaf contact piece 722 and the leaf contact piece 723 are separated from each other. Further, just before the tip end part 721c of the leaf contact piece 721 is dropped to the lower side of the stepped part 558b, the tip end part 723c of the leaf contact piece 723 has been dropped to the lower side of the stepped part 559b and thus the leaf contact piece 721 is connected with the leaf contact piece 722. When the rotation cam body 55 is further rotated in the direction as shown by the arrow B, the leaf contact pieces 721,722 and 723 are transferred to higher portions of the stepped parts 559b and 558b and returned to the initial state.

FIGS. 15(A) and 15(B) are explanatory views showing the water-supply switch 73 which is structured in the ice making device shown in FIGS. 5(A) and 5(B). In this embodiment, the water-supply switch 73 (water-supply control part) is structured by utilizing the second space 47 formed between the intermediate plate 42 and the outer case 43 which are shown in FIG. 6(A). In order to structure the water-supply switch 73, similarly to the main switch 72, the upper half portion of the rotation cam body 55 is utilized which is protruded from the first space 46 into the second space 47 through the through hole 421 of the intermediate plate 42. In other words, a side face of the middle diameter part 554 is formed with a projecting part 556 and two leaf contact pieces 731 and 732 are extended toward the middle diameter part 554 of the rotation cam body 55. A cam abutting part 731g of the leaf contact piece 731 which is bent in a triangular shape is abutted with the side face (cam face) of the middle diameter part 554.

In the water-supply switch 73 structured as described above, the leaf contact piece 731 is separated from the leaf contact piece 732 in an initial state and thus the water-supply switch 73 is in an off state. When the rotation cam body 55 is rotated in the direction as shown by the arrow B from this state and the leaf contact piece 731 is pressed toward the leaf contact piece 732 by the projecting part 556, the leaf contact piece 731 and the leaf contact piece 732 are abutted with each other to be in an ON state. When the rotation cam body 55 is further rotated in the direction as shown by the arrow B and the leaf contact piece 731 is returned to its original position, the leaf contact piece 731 is separated from the leaf contact piece 732 to be returned to the OFF state.

In the water-supply switch 73, if the leaf contact piece 731 is, similarly to the main switch 72, disposed so that the rotation cam body 55 is rotated from a fixed end side of the leaf contact piece 731 toward its free end, the leaf contact piece 731 is immediately returned to its original shape when, after the leaf contact piece 731 has been pressed toward the outer side in the radial direction by the projecting part 556 and then the projecting part 556 is passed through. However, in this embodiment, since the main switch 72 is also disposed to the common rotation cam body 55, in order to arrange five leaf contact pieces 721, 722, 723, 731 and 732 in a narrow space in a parallel manner, the leaf contact piece 731 is required to dispose so that the rotation cam body 55 is rotated from the free end side of the leaf contact piece 731 toward its fixed end side.

Accordingly, in this embodiment, responsibility of the water-supply switch 73 is enhanced by utilizing the following structure. As shown in FIGS. 12(B) and 12(C), the rotation cam body 55 includes a first cam member 55a, which is a main body portion of the rotation cam body 55, and a second cam member 55b (cam member for water supply control) which is formed in a ring shape and supported by the first cam member 55a The first cam member 55a includes a disk part 551 which is provided with the outer teeth gear 54 on its outer peripheral face and a cam drive shaft 552 which is protruded from the disk part 551. The first cam part 558, the second cam part 559 and the small diameter part 555 are formed on the upper half part of the cam drive shaft 552 in this order. The first cam member 55a is also integrally formed with the cylindrical part 55s to which the rotation shaft 231 is connected and the cam part 55t. On the other hand, the second cam member 55b formed in a ring shape is formed with a large diameter part 553 and a middle diameter part 554 in this order and the projecting part 556 is formed on the middle diameter part 554.

A disk part 557 having a larger diameter than the large diameter part 553 is formed on a lower side of the large diameter part 553. The disk part 557 is fitted into a ring-shaped recessed part 551e, which is formed on an upper face of the disk part 551 and, in this manner, the rotation cam body 55 is structured of the first cam member 55a and the second cam member 55b. In this embodiment, a projection 551f is formed on an inner side of the ring-shaped recessed part 551e toward inner side from its surrounding wall and, on the other hand, an outer peripheral face of the disk part 557 is formed with a recessed part 557f to which the projection 551f is fitted. Therefore, the second cam member 55b is rotated on and followed to the first cam member 55a but, a dimension in the circumferential direction of the recessed part 557f is wider than a dimension in the circumferential direction of the projection 551f and thus a play which corresponds to a difference between the dimension in the circumferential direction of the recessed part 557f and the dimension in the circumferential direction of the projection 551f is secured between the first cam member 55a and the second cam member 55b.

Further, the projecting part 556 is formed such that a face 556b located on an opposite side to the rotating direction of the rotation cam body 55 is steep in comparison with a slant face 556a located on the rotating direction side.

In the water-supply switch 73 structured as described above, as shown in FIG. 15(A), when the cam abutting part 731g of the leaf contact piece 731 is pressed by the projecting part 556 to make the leaf contact pieces 731 and 732 contact with each other electrically, the water-supply switch 73 becomes in an ON state and a commercial power supply V is supplied to a water-supply pump 220, which is electrically connected with the water-supply switch 73 in series. After that, toe second cam member 55b is rotated together with the cam drive shaft 552 (first cam member 55a) in the direction as shown by the arrow B and, when the cam abutting part 731g has passed through the projecting part 556, as shown in FIG. 15(B), the second cam member 55b is moved ahead with respect to the cam drive shaft 552 by means of that the face 556b is pressed by the urging force of the leaf contact piece 731. Therefore, even when the second cam member 55b is rotated from the free end side of the leaf contact piece 731 toward its fixed end side, the leaf contact piece 731 is immediately returned from the state where the leaf contact piece 731 is pressed and deformed by the projecting part 556 to its original shape. Therefore, even when positional accuracy or dimensional accuracy of the leaf contact piece 732 which is contacted with and separated from the leaf contact piece 731 is low, timing accuracy when the water-supply switch 73 is switched is enhanced.

Accordingly, even when the water-supply switch 73 and an electric motor of the water-supply pump 220 are electrically connected in series, a spark does not occur and thus deterioration of contact point can be prevented. Further, if a spark occurs in the water-supply switch 73, noise may be transmitted to the commercial power supply. However, in this embodiment, the contacted state is immediately switched to the separated state and thus a spark may not occur and, as a result, noise can be prevented from being transmitted to the commercial power supply.

Further, even when another leaf switch (for example, main switch 72) which is different from the water-supply switch 73 is to be arranged by utilizing the second cam member 55b and the first cam member 55a, which is moved with the cam drive shaft 552, the main switch 72 may be structured so that the rotation cam body 55 is rotated from the fixed end sides of the leaf contact pieces 721, 722 and 723 toward their free end sides. Therefore, high responsibility can be realized in both of the water-supply switch 73 and the main switch 72.

In this embodiment, in order to structure the ice detecting switch 71, the main switch 72 and the water-supply switch 73, the leaf contact pieces 711, 712, 713, 721, 722, 723, 731 and 732 are utilized which are formed so that a metal plate is formed in a predetermined strip-like shape. Each of the base ends of the leaf contact pieces is, like the leaf contact pieces 721,722 and 723 shown in FIG. 14, is formed in a strip-like shape in which sides facing in a widthwise direction are parallel to each other and, in all of the leaf contact pieces, their width dimensions on the base end side are equal to each other. Therefore, in this embodiment, each of the leaf contact pieces 711, 712, 713, 721, 722, 723, 731 and 732 is held by utilizing a contact piece holding part 48 which is formed in a V-shape in plan view and formed in a table-like shape on the intermediate plate 42. More specifically, the contact piece holding part 48 is formed with a plurality of holding grooves 48a with the same depth and the same shape and the base ends of the leaf contact pieces 711, 712, 713, 721, 722, 723, 731 and 732 are respectively fitted and fixed to the holding groove 48a. In this embodiment, all of the depths of a plurality of the holding grooves 48a are set to be the same and thus all of the leaf contact pieces 711, 712, 713, 721, 722, 723, 731 and 732 are held on the intermediate plate 42 at the same height position.

In this embodiment, the tip end parts 721c and 722c of the leaf contact pieces 721 and 722 and the tip end part 723c of the leaf contact piece 723 are abutted with respective side faces of the first cam part 558 and the second cam part 559 of the rotation cam body 55 whose height positions from the intermediate plate 42 are different from each other. However, as shown in FIG. 14, the leaf contact piece 723 is formed to extend linearly from its base end and then turn perpendicularly upward and then extend horizontally again. On the other hand, the leaf contact pieces 721 and 722 are formed in a shape so that their base end sides are linearly extended at the same height position as the base end side of the leaf contact piece 723 and then their tip end parts 721c and 722c are widened so that their widths are enlarged. Therefore, even when the base end sides of the leaf contact pieces 721, 722 and 723 are held at the same height positions as each other on the intermediate plate 42, the tip end parts 721c, 722c and 723c of the leaf contact pieces 721,722 and 723 can be abutted with respective side faces of the first cam part 558 and the second cam part 559 of the rotation cam body 55 whose height positions from the intermediate plate 42 are different from each other.

Further, in this embodiment, the circuit board 70 which is disposed so as to face the intermediate plate 42 is superposed on the base end sides of the leaf contact pieces 711, 712, 713, 721, 722, 723, 731 and 732. The circuit board 70 is a PWB (Printed Wiring Board) provided with lands to which the terminal parts 711e, 712e, 713e, 721e, 722e, 723e, 731e and 732e standing up from the base ends of the leaf contact pieces 711, 712, 713, 721, 722, 723, 731 and 732 are soldered and the circuit board 70 is provided with a high rigidity. In addition, the outer case 43 is covered on the intermediate plate 42 and the inner bottom face of the outer case 43 is formed with a rib (not shown) corresponding to the outward shape of the contact piece holding part 48. Therefore, in the state where the inner case 41, the intermediate plate 42 and the outer case 43 are superposed on each other to structure the case body 4, the base end sides of the leaf contact pieces 711, 712, 713, 721, 722, 723, 731 and 732 are pressed in the widthwise direction by the circuit board 70 and pressed against the intermediate plate 42.

FIG. 16(A) is an explanatory view showing a water-supply amount adjustment mechanism of the ice making device 100 shown in FIGS. 5(A) and 5(B) in a state where an operation from the outside is not performed, and FIG. 16(B) is an explanatory view in a state where an operation from the outside is being performed. FIG. 17(A) is an exploded perspective view showing a water-supply amount adjustment mechanism of the ice making device 100 shown in FIGS. 5(A) and 5(B), and FIG. 17(B) is a side view showing an assembling state.

As shown in FIG. 13, FIGS. 16(A) and 16(B), and FIGS. 17(A) and 17(B), in the ice making device 100 in this embodiment, a water-supply amount adjustment mechanism 79 for adjusting on-and-off timing of a water-supply switch 73 is structured by utilizing a space between the outer case 43 and the intermediate plate 42 in the inside of the case body 4. The water-supply amount adjustment mechanism 79 in this embodiment includes an operation member 76, which is turnably supported by a support shaft 426 that is stood up from the intermediate plate 42, and a lever-shaped transmission member 77 which is provided with a rack-shaped teeth part 770 engaged with an outer teeth part 760 of the operation member 76. The transmission member 77 transmits an operation from the outside to the leaf contact piece 732 through the operation member 76.

All of the water-supply switch 73, the operation member 76 and the transmission member 77 are disposed within the case body 4 and the outer case 43 is formed with a circular window (opening) 430 at a position superposing an upper end face 765 of a head part 764 of the operation member 76. Therefore, the upper end face 765 of the head part 764 of the operation member 76 is exposed outside through the circular window 430. A groove 766 is formed on the upper aid face 765 of the head part 764. Further, the transmission member 77 is provided with a cylindrical part 771, into which a support shaft protruded from the intermediate plate 42 is fitted, and a pawl part 772 whose tip end is abutted with a tip end part of the leaf contact piece 732.

Therefore, in the water-supply amount adjustment mechanism 79, when a slotted screw driver or a minus driver (not shown) or the like is inserted from the outside of the outer case 43 into the groove 766 formed on the head part 764 of the operation member 76 to be turned, the operation member 76 is turned and the transmission member 77 is, as shown by the arrows G1 and G2, turned with the cylindrical part 771 as its turning center and, as a result, the position of the pawl part 772 is varied. In this case, when the transmission member 77 is turned in the direction as shown by the arrow G1, the tip end side of the leaf contact piece 732 is resiliently bent in a direction separated from the leaf contact piece 731 and thus a timing when the water-supply switch 73 is switched from “off” to “on” is delayed but a timing switching from “on” to “off” is quickened. Therefore, a water-supply time period from the water-supply part 22 to the ice tray 21 which is described with reference to FIGS. 5(A) and 5(B) is shortened and thus a water-supply amount to the ice tray 21 is decreased and smaller ice pieces are produced. On the other hand, when the transmission member 77 is turned in the direction as shown by the arrow G2, the tip end of the leaf contact piece 732 is resiliently bent in the direction coming nearer to the leaf contact piece 731. Therefore, a timing when the water-supply switch 73 is switched from “off” to “on” is quickened but a timing switching from “on” to “off” is delayed and thus the water-supply time period from the water-supply part 22 to the ice tray 21 becomes longer. As a result, a water-supply amount to the ice tray 21 is increased and thus larger ice pieces are produced.

In order to structure the water-supply amount adjustment mechanism 79, the operation member 76 includes, upward from its lower end, a cylindrical part 769, an outer teeth part 760 having a smaller diameter than the cylindrical part 769, a flange part 763 having a smaller diameter than the outer teeth part 760, and a head part 764 having a smaller diameter than the flange part 763. Further, the operation member 76 is formed so that a bottomed shaft hole into which a support shaft 426 on the intermediate plate 42 is fitted is formed in a hollow shape so as to extend in an axial direction “L”. A metal coiled spring 790 made of nonmagnetic stainless steel material such as SUS 304WPS is mounted around the support shaft 426. Therefore, the coiled spring 790 is disposed between the intermediate plate 42 and the operation member 76 in a state the operation member 76 is mounted on the support shaft 426 against an urging force of the coiled spring 790.

In this embodiment a plurality of triangular-shaped teeth 767 are formed on an upper face of the flange part 763 so as to extend in a radial direction. On the other hand, a cylindrical part 436 protruding toward the operation member 76 is formed around the circular window 430 on the outer case 43, and an end face of the cylindrical part 436 is formed with a plurality of triangular-shaped teeth 437 extending in the radial direction. A pitch in the circumferential direction of the teeth 437 formed on the outer case 43 is equal to a pitch in the circumferential direction of the triangular-shaped teeth 767 formed on the operation member 76. Therefore, as shown in FIG. 16(A), the triangular-shaped teeth 437 of the outer case 43 and the triangular-shaped teeth 767 of the operation member 76 are engaged with each other to structure a lock mechanism 78 for preventing the operation member 76 from being turned. In other words, when the operation member 76 is assembled, a force in the “L2” direction is occurred by an urging force of the coiled spring 790. Therefore, when the outer case 43 is covered on the intermediate plate 42, the teeth 767 of the operation member 76 and the teeth 437 of the outer case 43 are engaged with each other and the lock mechanism 78 is structured to prevent turning of the operation member 76. Accordingly, even when vibration and the like is applied, engagement of the teeth 437 of the outer case 43 with the teeth 767 of the operation member 76 is maintained and thus turning of the operation member 76 is prevented so long as the head part 764 is not pressed by an external force.

A side face of the cylindrical part 769 formed on a lower half part of the operation member 76 is formed with stopper projections 769a and 769b which are protruded on opposite directions to each other. On the other hand, receiving parts 429a and 429b whose cross section is in an “L” shape are formed on the intermediate plate 42 at positions facing each other with the support shaft 426 between them. Therefore, as shown in FIG. 16(B), in the state where the operation member 76 is mounted on the support shaft 426, when the stopper projections 769a and 769b are set to be disposed under the upper plate part of the receiving parts 429a and 429b, the upper position of the operation member 76 is determined by toe upper plate part of the receiving parte 429a and 429b and the operation member 76 does not move further upward. In this state, when the outer case 43 is attached, the operation member 76 is pressed and depressed a little toward the intermediate plate 42 by the cylindrical part 436 of the outer case 43. Therefore, when the water-supply amount adjustment mechanism 79 is to be assembled, the operation member 76 which is urged by the coiled spring 790 is not required to be depressed.

In the water-supply amount adjustment mechanism 79 structured as described above, in order to adjust water-supply amount, a slotted screw driver (minus driver) is inserted into the groove 766 of the operation member 76 from the outside of the outer case 43 to depress the head part 764. As a result, as shown in FIG. 16(B), the coiled spring 790 is contracted to cause the operation member 76 to move toward one side “L1” in the axial direction “L” and engagement in the lock mechanism 78 between the teeth 437 of the outer case 43 and the teeth 767 of the operation member 76 is released. In this state, since turning of the operation member 76 is permitted, when the operation member 76 is turned by means of that the slotted screw driver is turned, this turning is transmitted to the leaf contact piece 732 through the transmission member 77. After the water-supply amount have been adjusted, when the slotted screw driver is removed, the operation member 76 is moved toward the other side “L2” in the axial direction “L” by the urging force of the coiled spring 790 and thus the teeth 437 of the outer case 43 and the teeth 767 of the operation member 76 are engaged with each other and turning of the operation member 76 is prevented again.

According to the water-supply amount adjustment mechanism 79 described above, a separated distance between the leaf contact pieces 731 and 732 can be adjusted only by deforming the tip end of the leaf contact piece 732 to change its position and thus the timing when the water-supply switch 73 is turned on and off can be adjusted. Therefore, adjustment of water-supply amount to the ice tray 21 (size of an ice piece) can be performed from the outside easily. Further, all of the water-supply switch 73, the operation member 76 and the transmission member 77 are accommodated in the inside of the case body 4 and thus the operation member 76 is not protruded outside from the case body 4. Therefore, the size of the ice making device 1 can be reduced.

Further, the lock mechanism 78 is structured for preventing displacement of the operation member 76 when the operation member 76 is not operated from the outside and thus the operation member 76 is not operated erroneously. Further, the flange part 763 structuring the lode mechanism 78 and the cylindrical part 436 of the outer case 43 function as a coming-off preventing stopper (first stopper) for maintaining the position in the axial direction of the operation member 76 against the urging force of the coiled spring 790 in the state where the operation member 76 is not pressed. Therefore, the operation member 76 is not pushed out from the circular window 430.

Further, in the state where the coming-off preventing stopper (first stopper) is not structured during assembling yet, the stopper projections 769a and 769b of the operation member 76 and the receiving parts 429a and 429b of the intermediate plate 42 function as a coming-off preventing stopper (second stopper) for maintaining the position in the axial direction of the operation member 76 against the urging force of the coiled spring 790. Therefore, the operation member 76 urged by the coiled spring 790 is not required to be pressed down during assembling.

In addition, the bottom part of the operation member 76 and the intermediate plate 42 function as a pressing range determining stopper which determines a moving range of the operation member 76 in the axial direction when the operation member 76 is depressed. Therefore, even when the operation member 76 is excessively depressed, the upper end portion of the operation member 76 is not passed through the circular window 430 and the cylindrical part 436 of the outer case 43 and thus the operation member 76 is prevented from being inclined and caught by surrounding members.

Moreover, since the coiled spring 790 is concentrically disposed with the support shaft 426, the urging force of the coiled spring 790 to the operation member 76 is uniform in the circumferential direction. Therefore, the operation member 76 is prevented from being inclined and caught by surrounding members.

The coiled spring 790 is made of metal. Therefore, different from a case where an urging force of a resin member is utilized deterioration due to creeping does not occur even when the coiled spring 790 is used under an elastically deformed state at a low temperature for a long time.

Further, the metal coiled spring 790 is superior in impact resistance and its characteristic variation due to temperature does not occur. Further, in this embodiment, the coiled spring 790 is made of nonmagnetic stainless steel. Therefore, rust does not occur in the coiled spring 790 even when metal plating treatment having problems such as pinholes or remaining of toxic components of the metal plating solution is not used. Accordingly, even when dew condensation is occurred, the initial clean state is maintained. Further, magnetic garbage or dust does not attach to the coiled spring 790 because it is made of nonmagnetic material.

Next, an operation of the drive unit will be briefly described below with reference to FIGS. 18(A) through 18(F) while associating with the entire operations which have been described with reference to FIG. 6(A) through FIG. 9(D). FIGS. 18(A) through 18(F) are explanatory views showing an operation of the drive unit 3 in the ice making device 100 shown in FIGS. 5(A) and 5(B).

In the initial state, the rotation cam body 55, the first drive lever 61, the second drive lever 62, the pressing lever 753, the leaf contact piece 723 and the leaf contact piece 731 are located at positions as shown in FIG. 18(A). In this state, the ice detecting lever 60 is located at the lowest position. Further, the scraping-out part 232 of the scraping-out member 23 is located at the angle of about 20° (degree) with respect to the horizontal direction.

In this state, when the thermostat 91 becomes in an ON state at the time point “T0” shown in FIG. 10, energization to the motor 5 and the heater 26 is started to cause the rotation cam body 55 to turn and thus the scraping-out member 23 is started to turn in the direction shown by the arrow “A” in FIG. 6(B).

At the time point “T1” shown in FIG. 10, as shown in FIG. 18(B), immediately after the scraping-out part 232 is located at the angle of about 10° (degree) with the horizontal direction, the leaf contact piece 721 drops from the step 558b and thus the main switch 72 is switched from the first state to the second state.

Next, at the time point “T2” shown in FIG. 10, turning of the rotation cam body 55 is transmitted to the ice detecting lever 600 through the first drive lever 61 and the second drive lever 62 and, as shown by the arrow F1 in FIG. 18(C), the ice detecting lever 600 is moved upward.

Next, the turning of the rotation cam body 55 is transmitted to the ice detecting lever 600 through the first drive lever 61 and the second drive lever 62 and, at the time point “T3” shown in FIG. 10, when the ice storage part 1a is in an insufficient state of ice pieces, the ice detecting lever 600 is moved down as shown by the arrow F2 as shown in FIG. 18(D).

Next, at the time point “T5” shown in FIG. 10, the turning of the rotation cam body 55 is transmitted to fee leaf contact piece 731 and water is supplied to the ice tray 21 during a time period shown in FIGS. 18(E) and 18(F) and then, the rotation cam body 55, the first drive lever 61, the second drive lever 62, the pressing lever 753, the leaf contact piece 723, the leaf contact piece 731 and the like are returned to their original positions. In other words, as shown in FIG. 15(A), the water-supply switch 73 is in a contacted state during the cam abutting part 731g of the leaf contact piece 731 is pushed by the projecting part 556. In this state, the leaf contact pieces 731 and 732 are electrically connected with each other and thus a commercial power supply V is supplied to the water-supply pump 220, which is electrically connected in series with the water-supply switch 73, and water is supplied. However, when the cam abutting part 731g has been passed through the projecting part 556, the leaf contact pieces 731 and 732 are separated from each other to set the water-supply switch 73 in a separated state and thus energization to the water-supply switch 73 is stopped and water supply is also stopped.

FIG. 19(A) is a perspective view showing an another structure of an ice detecting lever 600 which is used in the ice making device 100 in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, FIG. 19(B) is an explanatory view showing a connecting structure of a first side end part 601 of the ice detecting lever 600 with a turning output member 690, and FIG. 19(C) is an explanatory view showing an assembling state of the ice detecting lever 600 in manufacturing steps of the ice making device 100.

In the embodiment described above, in order to insert the first side end part 601 into the case body 4 at the final stage of assembling of the ice making device 100, the first side end part 601 of the ice detecting lever 600 is bent so as to have the first end part 601a and the second end part 601b while the turning output member 690 is provided with the coming-off preventing plate 694 as the coming-off preventing measure of the first side end part 601 and the second side end part 602 of the ice detecting lever 600. However, as shown in FIG. 19(A), it may be structured that an ice abutting part 605 is structured in the ice detecting lever 600 between the first side end part 601 supported by the turning output member 690 and the second side end part 602 rotatably supported by the end plate 25, and that a beam part 608 is structured so as to connect the first side end part 601 with the second side end part 602 at a position nearer to the turning center axial line “S” than the ice abutting part 605. In this case, the second side end part 602 of the ice detecting lever 600 is inserted into the shaft hole 251 of the end plate 25 and then, a stopper 609 such as an E-ring is attached to the penetrated portion of the second side end part 602. Further, as shown in FIG. 19(B), the first side end part 601 of the ice detecting lever 600, which is extended in parallel to the turning center axial line “S” is inserted into an opening part 69a which is formed at a position which is shifted from the turning center axial line “S” of the turning output member 690. Other structures are similar to the structure which is described with reference to FIG. 5(A) through Fig 18(F) and thus their descriptions are omitted.

According to this structure, the ice detecting lever 600 is provided with the beam part 608 connecting the first side end part 601 with the second side end part 602 and thus strength of the ice detecting lever 600 is increased. Therefore, even when an external force is applied to the ice detecting lever 600, the ice detecting lever 600 is not bent resiliently and thus the first side end part 601 of the ice detecting lever 600 does not come off from the turning output member 690. Further, the beam part 608 is formed at the position nearer to the turning center axial line “S” than the ice abutting part 605 and thus an ice detecting operation is not disturbed by the beam part 608. Therefore, as shown in FIG. 19(C), a manufacturing method may be adopted in which a unit 1c where the end plate 25 and the ice detecting lever 600 are coupled with each other have been previously prepared and, at the final stage of assembling of the ice making device 100, the first side end part 601 is inserted into an opening part 69a of the turning output member 690 which is held by the case body 4.

In this embodiment, the turning output member 690 is disposed on the rear side (the side where the water-supply part 22 is disposed) of the case body 4. However, as shown in FIG. 5(B), the structure which is described with reference to FIGS. 19(A) through 19(C), i.e., the beam part 608, may be adopted in the structure where the turning output member 690 is disposed on the front side of the case body 4.

In the embodiment described above, water supply to the ice tray 21 is controlled by the water-supply pump 220 provided with the electric motor PM which is electrically connected in series with the water-supply switch 73 (leaf switch) in the water-supply part 22. However, an electrically operated valve may be used instead of the water-supply pump 220. In this case, the electrically operated valve may be disposed at a midway position of a water supply passage, an exit of the water supply passage, or an exit of a water supply tank. An electromagnetic type of valve and a valve provided with an electric motor may be used as the electrically operated valve. Even in this structure, the water-supply switch 73 is provided with a high accuracy of switching timing as described with reference to FIGS. 15(A) and 15(B) and thus a spark does not occur and deterioration of the contact point is prevented. Further, in a case that a commercial power supply is applied to an electrically operated valve through a water-supply switch 73, when a spark occurs in the water-supply switch 73, noises may be transmitted to the commercial power supply. However, in this embodiment, the water-supply switch 73 is immediately switched from a contacted state to a separated state and thus a spark does not occur and, as a result, noises are not transmitted to the commercial power supply.

While the description above refers to particular embodiments of the present invention, it will be understood that many modifications may be made without departing from the spirit thereof. The accompanying claims are intended to cover such modifications as would fall within the true scope and spirit of the present invention.

The presently disclosed embodiments are therefore to be considered in all respects as illustrative and not restrictive, the scope of the invention being indicated by the appended claims, rather than the foregoing description, and all changes which come within the meaning and range of equivalency of the claims are therefore intended to be embraced therein.