Title:
Tool-less Rack Mounting Apparatus and Systems
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A bracket for mounting to a rack is disclosed wherein the bracket includes a first surface for coupling to a rail of the rack and a second surface forming a protrusion element adapted to engage with a mounting slot defined by the rack. The protrusion element has a first end and a second end with a cross section of the second end being greater than that of the first end. The bracket may further include a latching mechanism having an elastic member, the latching mechanism adapted to secure the protrusion element within the mounting slot and wherein the latching mechanism is disposed on an external side of a post of the rack.



Inventors:
Henderson, Gregory Lane (Round Rock, TX, US)
Application Number:
12/367687
Publication Date:
08/12/2010
Filing Date:
02/09/2009
Assignee:
DELL PRODUCTS L.P. (Round Rock, TX, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
248/222.11
International Classes:
A47B96/06; A47F7/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HAWN, PATRICK D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Baker Botts L.L.P. (910 Louisiana Street, One Shell Plaza, HOUSTON, TX, 77002, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A bracket for mounting to a rack, the bracket comprising: a first surface for coupling to a rail of the rack; a second surface forming a protrusion element adapted to engage with a mounting slot defined by the rack, wherein the protrusion element has a first end and a second end, a cross section of the second end being greater than that of the first end; and a latching mechanism having an elastic member, the latching mechanism adapted to secure the protrusion element within the mounting slot and wherein the latching mechanism is disposed on an external side of a post of the rack.

2. The bracket of claim 1, wherein the mounting slot has a shape selected from the group consisting of circular, oval, square and rectangular.

3. The bracket of claim 1, wherein the first end of the protrusion element has a generally round cross section.

4. The bracket of claim 1, wherein the second end of the protrusion element has a generally square or round cross section.

5. The bracket of claim 1 further comprising a locking element for securing the mounting slot about the first end or the second end of the protrusion element.

6. The bracket of claim 1, wherein the locking element comprises at least one projection for securing the mounting slot about the first end or the second end of the protrusion element.

7. A rack for receiving an information handling system, the rack comprising: a plurality of posts each having a mounting interface comprising a mounting slot; at least one rail coupled to one of the plurality of posts at the mounting interface; and a support member coupled to the at least one rail and one of the plurality of posts, the support member forming a protrusion element adapted to engage with the mounting slot, wherein the protrusion element has a first end and a second end, a cross section of the second end being greater than that of the first end.

8. The rack of claim 7 further comprising a latching mechanism coupled to the support member, the latching mechanism adapted to secure the protrusion element within the mounting slot and wherein the latching mechanism is disposed on an external side of a post of the rack.

9. The rack of claim 7, wherein the mounting slot has a shape selected from the group consisting of circular, oval, square and rectangular.

10. The rack of claim 7, wherein the first end of the protrusion element has a generally round cross section.

11. The rack of claim 7, wherein the second end of the protrusion element has a generally square or round cross section.

12. The rack of claim 7, wherein the latching mechanism is adapted to secure the at least one rail to one of the plurality of posts.

13. The rack of claim 7 further comprising a locking element for securing the mounting interface about the first end or the second end of the protrusion element.

14. The rack of claim 13, wherein the locking element comprises at least one projection for securing the mounting interface about the first end or the second end of the protrusion element.

15. A rack comprising: a plurality of posts each having a mounting interface comprising a mounting slot; at least one rail coupled to one of the plurality of posts at the mounting interface; a support member coupled to the at least one rail and one of the plurality of posts, the support member forming a protrusion element adapted to engage with the mounting slot, the protrusion element having a first end and a second end, wherein a cross section of the second end is greater than that of the first end; and a latching mechanism adapted to secure the at least one rail to one of the plurality of posts, wherein the latching mechanism is disposed on an external side of one of the plurality of posts.

16. The rack of claim 15, wherein the first end of the protrusion element has a generally round cross section.

17. The rack of claim 15, wherein the second end of the protrusion element has a generally square or round cross section.

18. The rack of claim 15, wherein the mounting slot has a shape selected from the group consisting of circular, oval, square and rectangular.

19. The rack of claim 15 further comprising a retainer coupled to the support member, wherein the retainer is adapted to secure an information handling system (IHS) by engaging with one surface of the IHS.

20. The rack of claim 15 further comprising a locking element for securing the mounting interface about the first end or the second end of the protrusion element.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present disclosure relates generally to the field of rack systems and, more specifically, to tool-less convertible rack systems for storing information handling systems.

BACKGROUND

As the value and use of information continues to increase, individuals and businesses seek additional ways to process and store information. One option available to users is an information handling system (IHS). An information handling system generally processes, compiles, stores, and/or communicates information or data for business, personal, or other purposes thereby allowing users to take advantage of the value of the information. Because technology and information handling needs and requirements vary between different users or applications, information handling systems may also vary regarding what information is handled, how the information is handled, how much information is processed, stored, or communicated, and how quickly and efficiently the information may be processed, stored, or communicated. The variations in information handling systems allow for such systems to be general or configured for a specific user or specific use such as financial transaction processing, airline reservations, enterprise data storage, or global communications. In addition, information handling systems may include a variety of hardware and software components that may be configured to process, store, and communicate information and may include one or more computer systems, data storage systems, and networking systems.

Various information handling systems including computers, storage devices (e.g., disk drives), servers, tape drives, and redundant array of inexpensive/independent disks (RAID) drives, as well as other electrical devices can be housed in rack systems. Rack systems may typically include vertical posts coupled to rails used for mounting information handling system components. The height and width of rack systems may be standardized according to standards organizations such as the Electronics Industry Association (EIA) to designate the amount of space within rack systems. In addition, the vertical space within a rack system between horizontal rails may generally be defined in vertical mounting unit increments, often referred to as “U's”, with each U typically measuring approximately 1.75 inches. Each post, attachable to a rail, may have three mounting slots selectively spaced within each U of vertical space for attaching components. Further, based on design preference, the interface between rails and posts may exist with various shaped apertures or mounting slots, such as square or round.

Current rack systems may support tool-less installation of rails in square-hole posts separately from those which support installation of rails in round-hole posts. As such, rails and/or posts may be equipped with assemblies to allow conversion of the rack components with a particular shaped mounting slot to a different shaped mounting slot, i.e., from square to round or from round to square. However, such assemblies may present additional cost (e.g., inventory costs), additional parts and complexity to the system as well as increased assembly time by customers. Further, customer dissatisfaction may result from high missing, wrong and damaged (MWD) metrics due to incorrect ordering and/or shipment of multiple assembly parts from manufacturers. In view of the foregoing, a need exists for improved rack systems to support multiple types of mounting interfaces. Moreover, such improved systems may need to be efficiently converted from one type of mounting interface to another without the use of tools and to accommodate rack systems of minimal vertical space.

SUMMARY

The following presents a general summary of several aspects of the disclosure in order to provide a basic understanding of the disclosure. This summary is merely a general overview of the disclosure and is not intended to identify key or critical elements of the disclosure or to delineate the scope of the claims. The following summary presents some concepts of the disclosure in a general form as a prelude to the more detailed description that follows.

One aspect of the disclosure is a bracket for mounting to a rack is wherein the bracket includes a first surface for coupling to a rail of the rack and a second surface forming a protrusion element adapted to engage with a mounting slot defined by the rack. The protrusion element has a first end and a second end with a cross section of the second end being greater than that of the first end. The bracket may further include a latching mechanism having an elastic member, the latching mechanism adapted to secure the protrusion element within the mounting slot and wherein the latching mechanism is disposed on an external side of a post of the rack.

Another aspect of the disclosure is a rack for receiving an information handling system wherein the rack includes a plurality of posts each having a mounting interface comprising a mounting slot and at least one rail coupled to one of the plurality of posts at the mounting interface. The rack further includes a support member coupled to the at least one rail and one of the plurality of posts, the support member forming a protrusion element adapted to engage with the mounting slot, wherein the protrusion element has a first end and a second end, a cross section of the second end being greater than that of the first end.

Yet another aspect of the disclosure provides a rack including a plurality of posts each having a mounting interface comprising a mounting slot and at least one rail coupled to one of the plurality of posts at the mounting interface. The rack may further include a support member coupled to the at least one rail and one of the plurality of posts, wherein the support member forms a protrusion element adapted to engage with the mounting slot. The protrusion element may have a first end and a second end, wherein a cross section of the second end is greater than that of the first end. The rack may further include a latching mechanism adapted to secure the at least one rail to one of the plurality of posts, wherein the latching mechanism is disposed on an external side of one of the plurality of posts.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For detailed understanding of the present disclosure, references should be made to the following Detailed Description of the several aspects, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which like elements have been given like numerals and wherein:

FIG. 1 is a generalized illustration of a rack system for storing information handling systems in accordance with one aspect of the present disclosure;

FIG. 2 depicts an exterior view of a segment of a mounting interface having a generally square shaped mounting slot in accordance with one aspect of the present disclosure;

FIG. 3 depicts an interior view of a segment of a mounting interface having a generally square shaped mounting slot in accordance with one aspect of the present disclosure;

FIG. 4 depicts an exterior view of a segment of a mounting interface having a generally round shaped mounting slot in accordance with one aspect of the present disclosure;

FIG. 5 depicts an interior view of a segment of a mounting interface having a generally round shaped mounting slot in accordance with one aspect of the present disclosure;

FIG. 6 depicts an enlarged view a mounting interface having a generally round shaped mounting slot in accordance with one aspect of the present disclosure; and

FIG. 7 depicts an enlarged view a mounting interface having a generally square shaped mounting slot in accordance with one aspect of the present disclosure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Before the present apparatus, systems and methods are described, it is to be understood that this disclosure is not limited to the particular apparatus, systems and methods described, as such may vary. One of ordinary skill in the art should understand that the terminology used herein is for the purpose of describing possible aspects, embodiments and/or implementations only, and is not intended to limit the scope of the present disclosure which will be limited only by the appended claims.

It must also be noted that as used herein and in the appended claims, the singular forms “a,” “and,” and “the” may include plural referents unless the context clearly dictates otherwise. Thus, for example, reference to “a rack” refers to one or several racks, and reference to “a method for mounting” includes reference to equivalent steps and methods known to those skilled in the art, and so forth.

Apparatus, systems and methods are described herein for providing versatile and economical rack systems for storing electronic equipment such as information handling systems (IHSs), power supplies (e.g., batteries) or the like. More specifically, implementations of the present disclosure may provide tool-less installation of rack system components comprising various shaped mounting slots, such as circular and square. The terms “rack system”, “rack” and “rack assembly” may be used interchangeably herein to refer to any apparatus to receive and/or store information handling systems, electronic equipment and/or components thereof.

For purposes of this disclosure, an embodiment of an Information Handling System (IHS) may include any instrumentality or aggregate of instrumentalities operable to compute, classify, process, transmit, receive, retrieve, originate, switch, store, display, manifest, detect, record, reproduce, handle, or utilize any form of information, intelligence, or data for business, scientific, control, or other purposes. For example, an IHS may be a personal computer, a storage device, or any other suitable device and may vary in size, shape, performance, functionality, and price. The IHS may include random access memory (RAM), one or more processing resources such as a central processing unit (CPU) or hardware or software control logic, ROM, and/or other types of nonvolatile memory. Additional components of the IHS may include one or more disk drives, one or more network ports for communicating with external devices as well as various input and output (I/O) devices, such as a keyboard, a mouse, and a video display. The IHS may also include one or more buses operable to transmit data communications between the various hardware components.

FIG. 1 provides one implementation of a rack system, indicated generally at 100. The rack system 100 may include a plurality of substantially vertical posts 105 coupled to a top surface 102 and a bottom surface 104 at a plurality of attachment points. Formed from any conventional rigid material such as metal, metal alloy or the like, the rack system 100 may include rails 110 which fixedly attach to the posts 105 via a standard mounting interface 125 (discussed below). The rails 110 may be adapted to support IHS components 112 mounted or stored in the rack system 100. IHS components which may be stored in the rack system 100 can include servers, disk drives, tape drivers, RAID drives, monitors, keyboards, routers or other suitable equipment. The rails 110 may be detachably fixed or mounted in a substantially horizontal orientation relative to the top surface 102 and/or bottom surface 104. It should be understood that additional suitable rack components such as shelving units, for example, may be included with the rack system 100 as a means to support IHS components 112. Further, equipment such as uninterruptable power supplies (UPSs) and power distribution units (PDUs) can also be mounted in the rack via rails among a variety of other electronic equipment.

Typically IHSs or electronic equipment are mounted in the rack system 100 via static (i.e., fixed) or sliding (i.e., translating) rails and are secured to the rail/rack using screws, latches or the like. A lever may be optionally constructed on a portion of the rail 110 which may be used to extend a portion of the rail 110 in or out of the rack. In addition to the lever, a j-slot, for example, may be defined on the rail 110 as a point of engagement to secure an IHS or electronic equipment within the rack.

Each post 105 may include a mounting interface 125 which may serve to couple a rail 110 to the post 105. In certain implementations, the standard mounting interface 125 may comply with rack standards such as the Electronics Industry Association (EIA) RS 310 standard, EIA-310-D standard, Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) 310-E, for example. The mounting interface 125 may employ various configurations for securing the rails 110 and other support structures in the rack. To this end, the mounting interface 125 may include a plurality of mounting slots, i.e., apertures or holes, of various shapes (e.g., circular, square, rectangular) and sizes. For example, one implementation (e.g., RapidRail™) may provide a mounting interface for the installation of rails in square-holed rack systems while another implementation (e.g., VersaRail™) may enable the installation of rails in round-holed rack systems.

Referring now to FIGS. 2 and 3, exterior and interior views, respectively, are provided for a rack system 100 having a mounting interface 125 with a generally square shaped mounting slot 205. An “interior view”, as used herein, may refer to a view of an interior or inward side of the rack system which may house an IHS component. Alternatively, an “exterior view” may refer to a view of the exterior or external side of the rack system which is typically not in contact with any IHS component(s). The square-shaped mounting slots 205 are arranged into defined standard mounting units, or “U's”. Each standard mounting unit or U may typically comprise three mounting slots 205 spaced in accordance with industry standards such as EIA, EIA-310-D and the like. While FIGS. 2 and 3 depict a 1U and 2U rack system, the present disclosure is applicable to any suitable vertically spaced rack system, such as a 3U, 5U or the like.

In some implementations, the mounting interface 125 may be incorporated into the post. In alternative implementations, the mounting interface 125 may be attached to the post utilizing any suitable fastener such as such as a rivet, bolt or the like. The mounting interface 125 generally serves as an attachment point between a post and rail 110 of a rack system via any suitable support member 210, such as a bracket or the like. The support member 210, such as a bracket, for example, may consist of two or more protrusion elements 240. Further, the support member 210 may couple the rail 110 perpendicularly in one axial direction to the post/mounting interface 125. The protrusion element 240 may be a portion of the support member 210 or in other implementations, the protrusion element 240 may be detachable from the support member 210. Bracket protrusions 245 in varying sizes and shapes (e.g., round, square) may allow any components of information systems or the rack system (e.g., protrusion elements, rails) to be associated with (e.g., affixed to) any portion of the support member 210 via a suitable fastener, such as a screw, latch or the like.

Continuing with FIG. 2, the support member 210 may include a latching mechanism 220 with an elastic member 230 (e.g., spring) disposed therein, also referred to herein as a spring loaded latch. The support member 210 is mounted to the post, i.e., mounting interface 125, such that the latching mechanism 220 is situated on an external side of the rack system. Thus, the latching mechanism 220 may be actuated by the application of pressure to the latching mechanism 220 which will allow the movement/stopping of the rail 110 along a locking element (not shown). As the protrusion element 240 is inserted into the mounting interface 125 through the mounting slot 205, the latching mechanism 220 automatically rotates away from the mounting interface 125 until the locking element 315 clears a back portion of the mounting interface 125. The elastic member 230 then restores the latching mechanism 220 to its original position which locks the support member 210 to the mounting interface 125. The rail may be released by pulling on the “free” end of the latch (i.e., opposite the spring) until the latch has rotated away from the mounting interface 125 sufficiently to release the locking element 315. Overall, the rack system of the present disclosure may provide efficient installation or removal of a rail 110 from the rack since the latching mechanism 220 is viewable and accessible from the external side of the rack.

Further coupled to the support member 210 may be a retainer 215 to engage with a surface of an information handling system (IHS) or electronic equipment to be housed within the rack system. For example, one surface of an IHS (e.g., server) may define a contacting portion (not shown) which may clear the retainer 215 upon introducing the IHS into the rack. To secure the IHS within the rack, the hook of the retainer 215 may engage with the contacting portion of the IHS, particularly when an IHS is fully mounted (i.e., seated) within the rack. In addition, multiple fasteners 250 may couple the bracket 210 to the interface 125 or rail 110. Example of fasteners may include, but are not limited to, bolts, rivets or the like.

As shown specifically in FIG. 3, the protrusion element 240 may have a first end 325 with a generally round shaped cross-section for engaging with (i.e., insertion into) round shaped mounting slots (not shown). The first end 325 of the protrusion element 240 transitions at a transition point (e.g., shoulder) into a second end 320 for mounting in square shaped mounting slots 205 as shown in FIG. 3. The first end 325 is distal from the protrusion element's point of attachment to the support member 210. At least one locking element 315 disposed on the latching mechanism 220 may secure the mounting interface 125 about the square or round cross sectional area of the first end 320.

FIGS. 4 and 5 depict views, including an exterior and interior view, respectively, of a rack system 100 having a mounting interface 125 with a generally round shaped mounting slot 405. Similarly to the aforementioned, the round shaped mounting slots 405 are arranged into standard U's whereby each U may typically be made up of three mounting slots 405 spaced in accordance with industry standards such as EIA, EIA-310-D, CEA-310-E or the like. Alternative implementations other than those shown in the figures may include generally round shaped mounting slots 405 which are circular, oval or the like.

Continuing with FIGS. 4 and 5, the mounting interface, which may be incorporated into or attached to a vertical post of a rack system, has a surface for attachment to the support member 210 (e.g., bracket). The support member may define or be attached to a plurality of protrusion elements 240 adapted to fit within the round shaped mounting slots 405 of the mounting interface 125. The support member 210 may further comprise a plurality of bracket apertures 245 of various shapes and sizes to accommodate attachment to components of information systems or the rack system (e.g., protrusion elements, rails) via a suitable fastener, such as a rivet, bolt or the like. Moreover, the support member 210 may include a latching mechanism 220 with an elastic member 230, also referred to as a spring loaded latch, as discussed above.

Turning to FIG. 5, the protrusion element 240 may have a first end with a generally round shaped cross-section for mounting in round shaped mounting slots. It should be understood as previously mentioned that in implementations with square shaped mounting slots, the second end may have either a generally round or square shaped cross-section. The second end 320 of the protrusion element 240 transitions at a transition point (e.g., shoulder) into a first end 325 having a generally round shaped cross-section for mounting in round shaped mounting slots 405. The first end 325 is distal from the protrusion element's point of attachment to the support member 210, via the second end. At least one locking element 315 disposed on the latching mechanism 220 may secure the mounting interface 125 about the round cross sectional area of the first end 325, as shown.

Now turning to FIGS. 6 and 7, enlarged views are presented of a rack system rail interface 125 having a round shaped mounting slot 405 and a square shaped mounting slot 205, respectively. The support member 210, adapted to contact a rail (not shown) of the rack system, may define or be coupled to at least one protrusion element 240. In one possible implementation, the protrusion element 240 may be connected to the support member 210 via a protrusion base 600. However, the present disclosure also contemplates that the protrusion elements 240 may be formed from part of the support member 210 and thus no protrusion base 600 may be necessary. The support member 210 may further comprise a locking element 315 to secure the protrusion element(s) 240 within the square shaped mounting slot 205, round shaped mounting slot 405 or any suitable shaped mounting slot defined by the post or mounting interface 125.

For round-hole racks or round shaped mounting slots 405, as shown in FIG. 6, the mounting interface 125 may be secured at a first transition (e.g., shoulder) point between a first end 325 and a second end 320 of the protrusion element 240. The shoulder may exist at a point on the protrusion element 240 whereby the first end 325 with a generally round cross section transitions into the second end 320 with a generally square or round cross section. The mounting interface 125 may include a locking element 315 comprising at least one projection for securing the interface 125 along the protrusion element 240. As shown, the support member 210 may be secured at a first locking position on the mounting interface 125 between a first projection 330 and a second projection (not shown).

Referring now to FIG. 7, the support member 210 may be secured at a second locking position on the mounting interface 125. For square-hole racks or rack interfaces with square shaped mounting slots 205, the mounting interface 125 may be movable along the entire length of the protrusion element 240 and may be secured about the square or round shaped second end 320 by the locking element 315. In one possible secured configuration, a second projection 335 of the locking element 315 may contact the mounting interface 125 so as to prevent movement of the protrusion element 240 against the square shaped mounting slot 205.

The rack system components described herein may be utilized with rack systems, posts and/or mounting interfaces comprising various shaped (e.g., round, square) mounting slots or apertures. Moreover, the rack system components of the present disclosure allow for switching one mounting interface type (i.e., shape) to an alternative mounting interface type, with no conversion of rack system components required.

The rack system discussed here may further offer scalability in transition from 1U to increased Us such as 5U while offering efficiency in the installing and removal of rails in rack systems mounted with IHS components. For support members of greater vertical height than 1U, an additional locking element may be introduced to the support member to provide redundancy in securing the support member and/or rails within the mounting interface or post. The additional locking element may also facilitate the ease of use of the spring loaded latch. In particular, increasing the size of the latch may improve the ease in actuating the latch. It is also understood that the number of protrusion elements can be increased as necessary to increase the static load capacity of the support member and/or rails.

The latching mechanism of the present rack system may provide efficient installation or removal of a rail from the rack since the latching mechanism is viewable and accessible from the external side of the rack. This applies particularly in the case of space constraints presented by rails of limited vertical space, such as 1U rails. Further, in the case when IHS components are mounted and thus blocking the interior of a rack system, a latching mechanism accessible from an external side of the posts may be particularly advantageous. A latching mechanism having a low profile or low vertical dimension may also require less volume as compared to any comparable latching or other mechanism.

Particular embodiments and/or implementations of the present disclosure have been described in detail. However, the present disclosure is not limited to these embodiments and/or implementations, and it is understood by one skilled in the art that various other embodiments and/or implementations are possible within the scope of the present disclosure. It is understood that the present disclosure may be applicable to rack systems with any suitable number of protrusion elements, rails, locking elements, mounting slots or the like. The present disclosure contemplates that any reference to a generally/substantially round or square shape may also refer to circular, oval, rectangular or other suitable shape. Moreover, although various implementations herein describe racks for receiving information handling systems, it should be understood that racks of the present disclosure have application in various other capacities, such as in receiving electronic equipment, power supplies (e.g., batteries) or the like.

Thus, modifications and variations may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the claimed subject matter in the present disclosure. Such changes in form and detail, including use of equivalent functional and/or structural substitutes for elements described herein, fall within the scope of the appended claims and are intended to be covered by this disclosure