Title:
HUB ASSEMBLY FOR A FOLDABLE TENT
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A hub assembly for a foldable tent includes radially spaced apart pole retaining members, each having a pair of spaced apart side walls having free outer edges. An upper pole is pivotally coupled to each pole retaining member between the pair of side walls. An inner retaining member is slidably coupled to each upper pole and engages the side wall outer edges, and an outer retaining member is fixedly coupled to an outer portion of each upper pole. A biasing member is disposed between the inner and outer retaining members in coaxial arrangement with the upper pole. The biasing member is compressed and the inner retaining member engages side edges of the side walls to maintain the tent in an open state, and the biasing member is more compressed and the inner retaining member engages lower edges of the side walls to maintain the tent in a folded state.


Inventors:
Jin, Ki Ho (Xiamen, CN)
Application Number:
13/893969
Publication Date:
08/28/2014
Filing Date:
05/14/2013
Assignee:
JIN KI HO
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04H15/48
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20080283107Temporary shelter with adjustble door systemNovember, 2008Hotes
20090159106MOBILITY DEVICES WITH INTERCHANGEABLE FEATURESJune, 2009Schulz et al.
20040211452Two tiered vented canopy wind resistant umbrellaOctober, 2004Wu
20080053505PORTABLE GARAGEMarch, 2008Ampoyo
20080235086Advertisement umbrellaSeptember, 2008Ma
20060174926Umbrella coverAugust, 2006Mcguigan
20060037636DEFLECTION RESISTANT TENTFebruary, 2006Lin
20080142065Light-duty structural shed or house with skylightsJune, 2008Chen
20050279393Tent with a skylight openingDecember, 2005Tseng
20070295376Improved Unbrella Handle StructureDecember, 2007Liu
20090255561Ergonomic CaneOctober, 2009Brown
Foreign References:
WO2006101303A1
WO2009059539A1
Claims:
1. A hub assembly for a foldable tent comprising: a plurality of slots radially spaced apart with respect to a central longitudinal axis, each slot formed by a pair of spaced apart side walls joined by an inner wall at radially inner ends thereof, an upper edge, outer edge and lower edge defining free ends of each of the side walls; a plurality of upper poles, each upper pole having an inner coupling portion proximate an inner end thereof and an outer coupling portion spaced apart from the inner coupling portion, each upper pole pivotally coupled to each slot at the inner coupling portion along a pivoting axis extending between the pair of side walls; a plurality of retaining members, each retaining member circumscribing a corresponding upper pole and fixedly attached thereto at the outer coupling portion; a plurality of biasing members, each biasing member circumscribing a corresponding upper pole and disposed between the inner coupling portion and the retaining member, an outer end of the biasing member engaging the retaining member; and a plurality of sleeves, each sleeve circumscribing a corresponding biasing member and retaining member, wherein the sleeve, biasing member and upper pole share a common axis, an inner end of each sleeve having a retaining wall wherein an outer surface of the retaining wall engages the free ends of the side walls and an inner surface of the retaining wall engages an inner end of the biasing member, an outer end of each sleeve having an opening such that the sleeve is movable along the common axis; wherein each sleeve retaining wall engages the outer edge of each slot and a corresponding biasing member is compressed such that the tent is maintained in an open configuration, and wherein each sleeve retaining wall engages the lower edge of each slot and a corresponding biasing member is more compressed such that the tent is maintained in a folded configuration.

2. The hub assembly of claim 1, wherein said inner wall comprises an inner shelf extending radially outward therefrom such that in the open configuration the upper pole inner end engages a top surface of the inner shelf.

3. The hub assembly of claim 2, wherein the pivoting axis is positioned radially outside the inner shelf.

4. The hub assembly of claim 2, wherein in the folded configuration the upper pole engages a side portion of the inner shelf.

5. The hub assembly of claim 1, wherein in the folded configuration the upper poles are pivoted downward and the upper pole inner end is substantially parallel to the central longitudinal axis.

6. The hub assembly of claim 1, wherein the inner end of the sleeve is slidably engaged with the upper pole and the outer end of the sleeve is slidably engaged with the retaining member.

7. The hub assembly of claim 1, further comprising a protrusion extending from the outer edge of each slot such that the upper pole inner end engages a bottom portion of the protrusion when the tent is in the open configuration.

8. A hub assembly for a foldable tent comprising at least one slot formed by a pair of spaced apart side walls joined by an inner wall at radially inner ends thereof, free ends of the side walls defined by an upper edge, an outer edge and a lower edge, the at least one slot comprising: a substantially hollow upper pole having an inner coupling portion proximate an inner end thereof and an outer coupling portion spaced apart from the inner coupling portion, a pair of elongated apertures disposed between the inner and outer coupling portions, each aperture positioned on opposing surfaces of the upper pole and substantially aligned with each other, each aperture extending substantially parallel to a longitudinal axis of the upper pole, the upper pole pivotally coupled to said slot along a pivoting axis extending between the pair of side walls and the inner coupling portion; a first retaining member extending through and slidably coupled to the opposing elongated apertures; a second retaining member fixedly coupled to the outer coupling portion; and a biasing member disposed within the hollow upper pole and extending between the first and second retaining members such that an inner end of the biasing member engages the first retaining member and an outer end of the biasing member engages the second retaining member; wherein the tent is maintained in an open state when the upper pole extends radially outward from the slot and the biasing member is extended such that the first retaining member is positioned proximate an inner end of the elongated aperture and engages the outer edge of the slot, and wherein the tent is maintained in a folded state when the upper pole extends downward from the slot, and the biasing member is compressed such that the first retaining member is positioned proximate an outer end of the elongated aperture and engages the lower edge of the slot.

9. The hub assembly of claim 8, further comprising an inner shelf extending radially outward from the inner wall, wherein the upper pole inner end engages a top surface of the inner shelf when the tent is in the open state.

10. The hub assembly of claim 8, further comprising an indent on the slot outer edge such that the first retaining member engages said indent to maintain the tent in the open state.

11. The hub assembly of claim 8, wherein the first retaining member is a cylindrical rod.

12. The hub assembly of claim 8, wherein a portion of the slot free ends between the outer edge and lower edge is a substantially curved surface.

13. A hub assembly for a foldable tent comprising: a plurality of radially spaced apart pole retaining members, each pole retaining member formed by a pair of spaced apart side walls joined at radially inner ends thereof by an inner wall, each of the side walls having free ends defined by an upper edge, an outer edge and a lower edge; an upper pole having an inner coupling portion proximate an inner end thereof and an outer coupling portion spaced apart from the inner coupling portion, the upper pole pivotally coupled to said pole retaining member along a pivoting axis extending between the pair of side walls and the inner coupling portion; an outer retaining member fixedly coupled to the upper pole outer coupling portion; and a biasing member having an inner end and an outer end disposed between the pole retaining member free ends and the outer retaining member in a coaxial arrangement with the upper pole; wherein the biasing member is compressed such that the tent is maintained in an open state when the upper pole extends radially outward from the pole retaining member, and wherein the biasing member is more compressed and the tent is maintained in a folded state when the upper pole extends substantially downward from the pole retaining member.

14. The hub assembly of claim 13, further comprising an inner retaining member having an inner side and an outer side, the inner retaining member movably coupled to the upper pole in coaxial arrangement, the inner side of the inner retaining member engaged with the free ends of the pole retaining member and an outer side of the inner retaining member engaged with an inner end of the biasing member, the inner retaining member being movable along the upper pole between a first position corresponding to the open state of the tent wherein said inner retaining member engages an outer edge of the pole retaining member and a second position corresponding to the folded state of the tent further away from the pivoting axis wherein said inner retaining member engages a lower edge of the pole retaining member.

15. The hub assembly of claim 14, wherein the inner retaining member comprises a sleeve circumscribing the biasing member, outer retaining member and upper pole, the sleeve extending along the upper pole in a coaxial arrangement.

16. The hub assembly of claim 15, wherein an inner end of the sleeve is slidably engaged with the upper pole and an outer end of the sleeve is slidably engaged with the outer retaining member.

17. The hub assembly of claim 14, wherein the upper pole is substantially hollow, the upper pole further comprising a pair of elongated apertures each having inner and outer ends, each aperture disposed between the inner and outer coupling portions, each aperture positioned on opposing surfaces of the hollow upper pole and substantially aligned with each other transversely, each aperture extending substantially parallel to a longitudinal axis of the upper pole.

18. The hub assembly of claim 17, wherein the inner retaining member extends transversely through the opposing elongated apertures such that in the open state of the tent the inner retaining member extends through inner ends of the elongated apertures and in the folded state of the tent the inner retaining member extends through outer ends of the elongated apertures.

19. The hub assembly of claim 13, further comprising an inner shelf extending radially outward from the inner wall, wherein the upper pole inner end engages a top surface of the inner shelf when the tent is in the open state.

20. The hub assembly of claim 13, wherein a portion of the pole retaining member free ends joining the outer edge and lower edge is a substantially curved surface.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a hub assembly for foldable or collapsible tent. More particularly, the hub assembly of the present invention forms a multi-pole connector from which a plurality of poles are pivotally connected for instant set-up and collapsing so that the poles are maintained in an open state and in a folded state without a separate locking mechanism.

2. Description of the Prior Art

Foldable tents are well known in the prior art and have become very popular in recent years. In fact, every major retail outlet in the U.S. sells a foldable tent in one form or another. Foldable tents come in different configurations with a variety of features and manufacturers continue to improve those features. However, in general, a foldable tent comprises a tent fabric coupled to a frame assembly at a radially inner space of the frame assembly.

One of the most important parts of the foldable tent is the hub assembly. The hub assembly serves as the backbone of the tent and facilitates the opening and folding of the tent while also maintaining the tent in those positions. In the earlier developed foldable tents the hub assembly included an external locking mechanism to ensure that the tent is maintained in the open state. However, external locking mechanisms are problematic for a number of reasons such as added bulk and weight, the tendency to malfunction due to the number of interacting components, and the extra time it takes to open and fold the tent. Therefore, more recently a hub assembly that does not require an external locking mechanism was developed.

In the more recently developed hub assembly the tent poles are pivotally coupled to the hub assembly and supported by an engaging surface when the tent is in the open configuration, as shown and described, for example, in U.S. Pat. No. 8,448,656. When folded, the poles are pivoted upward relative to the hub assembly and the hub assembly is placed on top of the tent fabric and folded into a compact bundle, and stored within a carry bag. Even though the more recently developed hub assembly is more advantageous than the previous hub assembly having an external locking mechanism, there are several problems associated with such a configuration.

In the open state, in the foldable tent of the prior art described in the previous paragraph the radially inward tension from the tent fabric prevents the tent from collapsing. The upper poles of the tent, however, are not further secured. Therefore, the tent is supported only by the tension from the tent fabric. Therefore, when the inward tension is weakened, for example by strong wind exerted on the tent or by human contact, the tent is susceptible to collapsing because an additional safeguard for maintaining the tent in the open state is not present.

Another disadvantage of the foldable tent of the prior art described above is that the tent fabric is susceptible to damage when folded. This is because the poles are folded upward relative to the hub assembly and thus the hub assembly rests directly on top of the tent fabric. The friction caused between the hub assembly and the tent fabric could damage the tent fabric. The damage could be as severe as the tent fabric being torn, punctured or ripped especially when the folded tent is dropped on the end where the hub assembly is located.

Another disadvantage in the foldable tent of the prior art is that the tent fabric could be damaged during the set up process. For the tent of the prior art, the tent must first be unfolded such that the floor of the tent is completely expanded with the poles resting on top. The user is then required to reach within the boundaries of the floor to further unfold and extend the poles. It is difficult to engage the poles without stepping on the tent fabric. Therefore, the tent fabric is susceptible to damage.

OBJECTS AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The following presents a simplified summary of some embodiments of the invention in order to provide a basic understanding of the invention. This summary is not an extensive overview of the invention. It is not intended to identify key/critical elements of the invention or to delineate the scope of the invention. Its sole purpose is to present some embodiments of the invention in a simplified form as a prelude to the more detailed description that is presented later.

The present invention is intended to overcome at least the above-described disadvantages. More specifically, the objects and advantages of the present invention are to provide a foldable instant tent that: includes a safeguard, in addition to tension forces from the tent fabric, against unwanted collapse of the tent while in an open state; and has the capability of the upper tent poles to fold downward to minimize contact between the hub assembly and tent fabric when in the folded state, and provides the user with easy set up while eliminating the need for the user to make contact with the tent fabric with his feet during set up.

Facilitating the above-mentioned objectives, the subject invention provides a hub assembly for a foldable tent comprising: a plurality of radially spaced apart pole retaining members, each pole retaining member formed by a pair of spaced apart side walls joined at radially inner ends thereof by an inner wall, each of the side walls having free ends defined by an upper edge, an outer edge and a lower edge; an upper pole having an inner coupling portion proximate an inner end thereof and an outer coupling portion spaced apart from the inner coupling portion, the upper pole pivotally coupled to said pole retaining member along a pivoting axis extending between the pair of side walls and the inner coupling portion; an outer retaining member fixedly coupled to the upper pole outer coupling portion; and a biasing member having an inner end and an outer end disposed between the pole retaining member free ends and the outer retaining member in a coaxial arrangement with the upper pole; wherein the biasing member is compressed such that the tent is maintained in an open state when the upper pole extends radially outward from the pole retaining member, and wherein the biasing member is more compressed and the tent is maintained in a folded state when the upper pole extends substantially downward from the pole retaining member.

In one embodiment, the hub assembly includes a plurality of slots radially spaced apart with respect to a central longitudinal axis, each slot formed by a pair of spaced apart side walls joined by an inner wall at radially inner ends thereof, an upper edge, outer edge and lower edge defining free ends of each of the side walls; a plurality of upper poles, each upper pole having an inner coupling portion proximate an inner end thereof and an outer coupling portion spaced apart from the inner coupling portion, each upper pole pivotally coupled to each slot at the inner coupling portion along a pivoting axis extending between the pair of side walls; a plurality of retaining members, each retaining member circumscribing a corresponding upper pole and fixedly attached thereto at the outer coupling portion; a plurality of biasing members, each biasing member circumscribing a corresponding upper pole and disposed between the inner coupling portion and the retaining member, an outer end of the biasing member engaging the retaining member; and a plurality of sleeves, each sleeve circumscribing a corresponding biasing member and retaining member, wherein the sleeve, biasing member and upper pole share a common axis, an inner end of each sleeve having a retaining wall wherein an outer surface of the retaining wall engages the free ends of the side walls and an inner surface of the retaining wall engages an inner end of the biasing member, an outer end of each sleeve having an opening such that the sleeve is movable along the common axis; wherein each sleeve retaining wall engages the outer edge of each slot and a corresponding biasing member is compressed such that the tent is maintained in an open configuration, and wherein each sleeve retaining wall engages the lower edge of each slot and a corresponding biasing member is more compressed such that the tent is maintained in a folded configuration.

In another embodiment, the hub assembly includes at least one slot formed by a pair of spaced apart side walls joined by an inner wall at radially inner ends thereof, free ends of the side walls defined by an upper edge, an outer edge and a lower edge, the at least one slot comprising: a substantially hollow upper pole having an inner coupling portion proximate an inner end thereof and an outer coupling portion spaced apart from the inner coupling portion, a pair of elongated apertures disposed between the inner and outer coupling portions, each aperture positioned on opposing surfaces of the upper pole and substantially aligned with each other, each aperture extending substantially parallel to a longitudinal axis of the upper pole, the upper pole pivotally coupled to said slot along a pivoting axis extending between the pair of side walls and the inner coupling portion; a first retaining member extending through and slidably coupled to the opposing elongated apertures; a second retaining member fixedly coupled to the outer coupling portion; and a biasing member disposed within the hollow upper pole and extending between the first and second retaining members such that an inner end of the biasing member engages the first retaining member and an outer end of the biasing member engages the second retaining member; wherein the tent is maintained in an open state when the upper pole extends radially outward from the slot and the biasing member is extended such that the first retaining member is positioned proximate an inner end of the elongated aperture and engages the outer edge of the slot, and wherein the tent is maintained in a folded state when the upper pole extends downward from the slot, and the biasing member is compressed such that the first retaining member is positioned proximate an outer end of the elongated aperture and engages the lower edge of the slot.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The foregoing summary, as well as the following detailed description of presently preferred embodiments of the invention, will be better understood when read in conjunction with the appended drawings. For the purpose of illustrating the invention, there are shown in the drawings embodiments which are presently preferred. It should be understood, however, that the invention is not limited to the precise arrangements and instrumentalities shown.

In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a foldable tent in an open configuration, shown without a tent fabric, and shown utilizing an embodiment of a hub assembly of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is an exploded view of the hub assembly shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3a is a perspective view of the hub assembly shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 in an open configuration;

FIG. 3b is a cross-sectional view of FIG. 3a taken generally along line 3b-3b;

FIG. 4a is a perspective view of the hub assembly shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 in a partially folded configuration;

FIG. 4b is a cross-sectional view of FIG. 4a taken generally along line 4b-4b;

FIG. 5a is a perspective view of the hub assembly shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 in a folded configuration;

FIG. 5b is a cross-sectional view of FIG. 5a taken generally along line 5b-5b;

FIG. 6 is a fragmentary cross-sectional view of another embodiment of a hub assembly of the present invention showing the hub assembly in an open configuration and a folded configuration;

FIG. 7 is a fragmentary cross-sectional view of an alternative embodiment of a hub assembly of the present invention showing the hub assembly in an open configuration and a folded configuration;

FIG. 8 is a side view of a side wall of the hub assembly shown in FIG. 7; and

FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional view of another alternative embodiment of a hub assembly of the present invention in an open configuration.

To facilitate an understanding of the invention, identical reference numerals have been used, when appropriate, to designate the same or similar elements that are common to the figures. Further, unless stated otherwise, the features shown in the figures are not drawn to scale, but are shown for illustrative purposes only.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Certain terminology is used in the following description for convenience only and is not limiting. The article “a” is intended to include one or more items, and where only one item is intended the term “one” or similar language is used. Additionally, to assist in the description of the present invention, words such as top, bottom, upper, lower, front, rear, inner, outer, right and left are used to describe the accompanying figures. The terminology includes the words above specifically mentioned, derivatives thereof, and words of similar import.

Referring to FIG. 1, a foldable tent of the present invention is shown for which only a frame assembly 1 is shown for purposes of clarity. The foldable tent generally includes a foldable frame assembly 1 and a tent fabric or cover (not shown) attached thereto, collectively preassembled, for instant set-up and collapsing of the foldable tent from an open configuration to a folded configuration, respectively.

Referring again to FIG. 1, in the preferred embodiment, the frame assembly 1 is formed utilizing a first embodiment of a hub assembly 10 of the present invention, which is described in more detail below. The hub assembly 10 forms a multi-pole connector from which a plurality of upper poles 20 extends radially therefrom and pivot. In the preferred embodiment, the upper poles 20 extend radially outward from the hub assembly 10 when the tent is in the open configuration as shown in FIG. 1 and pivot downward to the folded configuration as shown in FIG. 5a. Each upper pole 20 is pivotally coupled with an intermediate pole 30, and each intermediate pole 30 is retractably coupled with a lower pole 40. However, the intermediate pole 30 and the lower pole 40 could be coupled pivotally with or without a locking mechanism, and the upper pole 20 could be constructed with two separate retractable sections as well. The poles 20, 30, 40 are preferably substantially hollow, tubular poles constructed of steel but other materials such as reinforced fiberglass or any high-strength, light-weight material could be used.

The tent fabric or cover (not shown) includes a plurality of cover members fixedly attached together by conventional sewing methods to form an enclosed shelter having top sections, side sections and a bottom section or floor. The tent fabric is coupled to the frame assembly 1 via securing members such as fabric sleeves and/or slidable hooks, preferably extending from seams formed by sewing the sections, such that the tent fabric forms an enclosure occupying a radially inner space formed by the opened or erected frame assembly 1. The tent fabric also includes additional securing members at bottom corners for securing the tent fabric to a surface, such as the ground. Preferably, the bottom corner securing member is a loop wherein a stake or the like is placed for securing the foldable tent to the ground. The tent fabric includes an inner surface (not shown) and an outer surface (not shown). In the preferred embodiment, the cover is a fabric constructed from materials such as cotton, polyester or nylon, or any combination thereof and is water repellant and/or water resistant and flame resistant. The cover can also be constructed with heat reflecting material and other materials could be used for the cover without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. In the preferred embodiment, the side sections of the cover gradually extend further outward than the top sections of the cover so that the side sections are formed on an incline. The bottom section or floor thus extends further outward than the top sections as well as the side sections. The incline of side sections further ensures that water or debris does not accumulate on the cover. Instead, owing to the incline construction of the side sections, as well as the construct of the top sections discussed hereinabove relative to the frame members, water travels downward toward the bottom section of the tent to the ground surface. A continuous flexible adhesive tape (not shown) is preferably applied to the seams on the inner surface of the cover to prevent rain water, other liquids or debris from penetrating the cover through the seams from the outer surface. The cover could also be provided with a plurality of attachment means to extend guy lines or the like therefrom. Coupling members 32, 42 joining adjacent pole sections, such as those shown in FIG. 1, could also include attachment means such as hooks or apertures. One of ordinary skill will recognize that other components or accessories, such as a rain fly or any other modifications to the inner and outer surfaces of the cover, such as a door mat extension, rain hood, or other gear could be added to the foldable tent.

Referring to FIGS. 2-5b, an embodiment of the hub assembly 10 of the present invention is shown. The hub assembly 10 includes a hub portion which is preferably constructed having a disk or circular shape and includes a hollow center portion extending through a central longitudinal axis 2. However, the hub portion could be constructed in other shapes and sizes. The hub assembly 10 includes a plurality of slots 50 radially spaced apart with respect to the central longitudinal axis 2. Each slot 50 is formed by a pair of spaced apart side walls 51 joined by an inner wall 53 at radially inner ends. Thus, each side wall 51 includes generally three free ends forming an upper edge 55, an outer edge 57 and a lower edge 59. Each slot 50 also includes an inner shelf 60 extending radially outward therefrom. The inner shelf 60 includes a top surface 61 which is substantially perpendicular to the inner wall 53, and a side surface 63 which is substantially perpendicular to the top surface 61, however, the top and side surfaces 61, 63 could be modified to accommodate for any desired orientation of the upper poles 20 in the open and folded states. The hub portion, i.e., the component forming the slots 50, is one integral component manufactured by a plastic injection molding process and is constructed of a tough, durable and less brittle plastic comprising a combination of nylon and fiberglass. This allows for a light weight and durable construction. However, other materials, such as other combinations of plastics, wood or metal, could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention. To reduce manufacturing costs and to keep the hub assembly light weight, the hub portion could be constructed with various voids so long as the structural integrity is not compromised. For example, voids 65 are formed at a lower portion of the inner shelf 60 (as shown in the cross-sectional views of the drawings) and a space 67 is provided between adjacent slots 50 (as shown in the perspective views of the drawings).

The plurality of upper poles 20 include an inner coupling portion 21 proximate an inner end thereof and an outer coupling portion 23 spaced apart from the inner coupling portion 21. It is preferred that the upper poles 20 are constructed of continuous hollow steel to minimize manufacturing costs and overall weight of the tent frame but other materials could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention. In this embodiment, the inner and outer coupling portions 21, 23 are a pair of transversely aligned apertures extending through the upper pole 20. Each upper pole 20 is pivotally coupled to each slot 50 through the inner coupling portion 21 along a pivoting axis 58 extending between the pair of side walls 51. In the preferred embodiment, the pivoting axis 58 is formed by a fastener such a screw or rivet, and is positioned radially outside the inner shelf 60.

Referring again to FIGS. 2-5b, the hub assembly 10 also includes a plurality of outer retaining members 70. In this embodiment, the outer retaining member 70 is a cylindrical washer having a pair of aligned apertures extending transversely thereto. Each outer retaining member 70 circumscribes a corresponding upper pole 20 and is fixedly attached thereto at the outer coupling portion 23 via a fastener 72 such as a screw of rivet. It is preferred that the inner diameter of the outer retaining member 70 is substantially equal to the outer diameter of the upper pole 20.

Still referring to FIGS. 2-5b, the hub assembly 10 includes a plurality of biasing members 80. It is preferred that the biasing member 80 is a torsion spring constructed of a high-strength material such as steel. The torsion spring is elastic but at the same time substantially rigid such that it can withstand wear and tear caused by repeated compression and decompression. Each biasing member 80 circumscribes a corresponding upper pole 20 and is disposed between the inner coupling portion 21 and the outer retaining member 70 such that an outer end of the biasing member 83 engages the outer retaining member 70. The torsion spring 80 is sized such that an inner diameter is substantially equal to the outer diameter of the upper pole 20 but still slidable thereon. One of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that other elastic materials could be used, such as polymers capable of quickly expanding and contracting, spring clips and pneumatic mechanisms, without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

Referring to FIGS. 2-5b, a sleeve 90 circumscribes a corresponding biasing member 80 and outer retaining member 70 such that the sleeve 90, biasing member 80 and upper pole 20 share a common axis 88. An inner end of each sleeve 90 includes a retaining wall 91 where an outer surface of the retaining wall 95 engages the free ends of the side walls 57, 59 and an inner surface of the retaining wall 93 engages an inner end of the biasing member 81. An outer end of each sleeve 90 includes an opening 97 such that the sleeve 90 is movable along the common axis 88. The sleeve 90 is sized such that the retaining wall 91 is slidable along the upper pole 20 and the sleeve inner surface is slidable on the outer retaining member 70 to prevent debris from entering an internal space occupied by the biasing member 70. Alternatively, the hub assembly 10 could be constructed without the sleeve 90. That is, the biasing member inner end 81 could engage the side wall free ends 57, 59 directly. However, in this alternative configuration, the biasing member 80 is exposed and could be subject to outside elements such as rain and debris which would compromise the longevity of the component. Furthermore, an exposed biasing member could be a safety hazard for the user and could also damage the tent fabric during the folding process, transport or storage of the foldable tent.

Referring to FIGS. 3a and 3b, in the open configuration, the upper poles 20 are extended radially outwardly from the slots 50. The biasing member 80 is extended and compressed against the retaining wall 91 which engages the outer edge of the slot 57. In this configuration, the inner coupling portion 21/fastener 58 is separated from the outer surface of the retaining wall 91 by a first distance D1. Moreover, the inner end of the upper pole 20 engages the top surface of the inner shelf 61 to prevent the upper pole 20 from further upward pivotal movement. Thus, the upper poles 20 are maintained in the open configuration.

Referring to FIGS. 4a and 4b, the foldable tent is folded from the open configuration to a folded configuration by pivoting the upper poles 20 downward. During this process, the sleeve 90 is displaced away from the inner coupling portion 21 and the biasing member 80 is more compressed compared to the open configuration (shown in FIG. 3b). The sleeve retaining wall 91 engages a corner portion of the side wall free ends 52 joining the outer and lower edges 57, 59. The corner portion 52 includes a rounded edge having a substantially curved contour such that the sleeve retaining wall 91 is smoothly transitioned from the outer edge 57 to the lower edge 59.

Referring to FIGS. 5a and 5b, in the folded configuration, the biasing member 80 is more compressed than in the open configuration (shown in FIG. 3b) and the partially folded configuration (shown in FIG. 4b) as the sleeve 90 is further displaced away from the inner coupling portion 21. In this configuration, the inner coupling portion 21/fastener 58 is separated from the outer surface of the retaining wall 91 by a second distance D2, and the biasing member 80 is displaced between the open and folded states by a length equal to the second distance D2 less the first distance D1. The upper poles 20 are substantially vertical and the upper pole inner ends engage the inner shelf side surface 63 to provide a secure folded state.

In the preferred embodiment, the slot 50 is configured so that the first distance D1 is less than the second distance D2. That is, with respect to the central longitudinal axis 2 the outer edge 57 extends radially outward less than the lower edge 59 so that the torsion spring 80 is more extended in the open state than in the folded state. This configuration facilitates the tent's open state, as shown in FIG. 1, as a more secure default position.

Referring to FIG. 9, as shown in an alternative embodiment, the hub assembly 10A could be constructed without an inner shelf. Instead, each of the side walls 51 could include a protrusion 54 extending from the outer edge 57 to prevent the upper poles 20 from pivoting further upward. The protrusion 54 could be positioned at various locations of the outer edge 57 depending on the desired angle of the upper poles 20 with respect to the central longitudinal axis 2 in the open state. Similarly, each side wall lower edge 59 could also be provided with a protrusion such that the upper poles 20 do not over-pivot radially inward in the folded state.

Referring to FIGS. 6 and 7-8, other embodiments of a hub assembly of the present invention are shown. As shown in FIG. 6, in one embodiment, the hub assembly 100 is provided with slots (not shown) formed by a pair of spaced apart side walls 151 joined by an inner wall 153 at radially inner ends thereof. Free ends of the side walls 151 are defined by an upper edge 155, an outer edge 157 and a lower edge 159. As described above, a portion of the side wall free ends 152 joining the outer and lower edges 157, 159 is curved. An inner shelf 160 extends radially outward from the inner wall 153. The inner shelf 160 includes a top surface 161 and a side surface 163.

Referring to FIG. 6, a substantially hollow upper pole 120 includes an inner coupling portion 121 proximate an inner end thereof and an outer coupling portion 123 spaced apart from the inner coupling portion 121. In this embodiment, each of the inner and outer coupling portions 121, 123 are aligned holes extending through and positioned on opposing surfaces of the upper pole 120. A pair of elongated apertures 130 are disposed between the inner and outer coupling portions 121, 123 such that each aperture 130 is positioned on opposing surfaces of the upper pole 120 and substantially aligned with each other. Each aperture 130 extends substantially parallel to a longitudinal axis of the upper pole 120. Each upper pole 120 is pivotally coupled to a corresponding slot along a pivoting axis 158 extending between the pair of side walls 151 and the inner coupling portion 121. In this embodiment, the pivoting axis 158 is a fastener such as a screw of rivet. The inner end of the upper pole 120 engages the top surface of the inner shelf 161 when the tent is in the open state, and the inner end of the upper pole 120 engages the side surface of the inner shelf 163 when the tent is in the folded state. In this embodiment, the top surface 161 is substantially horizontal while the side surface 163 is substantially vertical but they could be configured differently depending on the desired angle of the upper poles 120 in the open and folded states.

Referring again to FIG. 6, a first retaining member 190 extends through and is slidably coupled to the opposing elongated apertures 130. In this embodiment, the first retaining member 190 is a solid steel rod or pin. However, other durable and high-strength materials could be used such as a tough molded plastic. Furthermore, the first retaining member 190 could include a plurality of teeth extending radially outward therefrom to match a plurality of grooves formed on edges of the side walls 157, 159. A second retaining member 170 is fixedly coupled to the outer coupling portion 123. In this embodiment, the second retaining member 170 is a cylindrical washer having a pair of aligned apertures extending transversely thereto. Each second retaining member 170 is positioned within a corresponding upper pole 120 and is fixedly attached thereto at the outer coupling portion 123 via a fastener 172 such as a screw or rivet. It is preferred that the outer diameter of the second retaining member 170 is substantially equal to the inner diameter of the upper pole 120. A biasing member 180, preferably a tension spring, is disposed within the hollow upper pole 120 and extends between the first and second retaining members 190, 170 with each opposing end of the biasing member 180 engaging each retaining member 190, 170.

Still referring to FIG. 6, the tent (not shown) is maintained in the open state when the upper pole 120 extends radially outward from the slot and the biasing member 180 is extended such that the first retaining member 190 is positioned at an inner end of the elongated aperture 130 and engages the outer edge of the slot 157. The tent is maintained in the folded state when the upper pole 120 extends downward from the slot, and the biasing member 180 is compressed such that the first retaining member 190 is positioned at an outer end of the elongated aperture 130 and engages the lower edge of the slot 159. The first retaining member 190 could be a rotatable such that when the upper poles 120 are pivoted to and from the open and folded states the first retaining member 190 rolls along the edges 157, 159 for a smooth transition. In the preferred embodiment, a first length L1 within the elongated aperture 130 measured between a mid-point of the first retaining member 190 when in the open state and the mid-point of the first retaining member 190 when in the folded state is equal to the displacement of the biasing member 180 from the open to folded states. Furthermore, the first length L1 is equal to a second length L2 measured between mid-points of the inner coupling portion 121 and the first retaining member 190 in the folded state less a third length L3 measured between mid-points of the inner coupling portion 121 and the first retaining member 190 in the open state. The corresponding ends of the elongated aperture 130 provide the hub assembly 100 with means for preventing the upper poles 120 from over-pivoting, in addition to the inner shelf 160. Thus, the hub assembly 100 could be constructed without the inner shelf 160, as shown for example in FIG. 7.

Referring to FIGS. 7 and 8, an alternative embodiment of a hub assembly 100A of the present invention is shown. In this embodiment, the hub assembly 100A is provided without an internal shelf for the reasons set forth above. Each side wall 151 outer and lower edge 157, 159 is provided with an indent 162 sized substantially to fit the first retaining member 190. In this embodiment, when the first retaining member 190 is secured within the indents 162 the upper poles 120 are maintained in corresponding open and folded states. The position of the indents 162 could be modified to accommodate for any desired orientation of the upper poles 120 in the open and folded states. Furthermore, multiple indents could be provided on each of the outer and lower edges 157, 159 to provide multiple set-up and folded positions. As described above, the upper poles 120 are prevented from further pivotal movement by the first retaining member 190 being positioned at the ends of the elongated aperture 130 in the respective open and folded states.

The embodiments shown in FIGS. 6-8 are particularly advantageous because the moving sub-components, i.e. the biasing member and the inner or first retaining member, are enclosed within each upper pole. With such a configuration, the sub-components are protected from outside elements, a more compact hub assembly is achieved and a cleaner, more simple design is accomplished.

One of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that the above described embodiments could be modified so that the upper poles are pivotable upward to a folded state. For example, the inner shelf 60, 160 could be inverted and reconfigured such that a bottom surface is formed within each slot and the upper poles could engage the bottom surface when in the open state. Moreover, the protrusions 54 and/or indents 162 could be repositioned to the upper edge 55, 155 facilitate an upward pivotal movement of the upper poles to a folded state.

The present invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from its spirit or essential characteristics. The described embodiments are to be considered in all respects only as illustrative and not restrictive. The scope of the invention is, therefore, indicated by the appended claims rather than by the foregoing description. All changes which come within the meaning and range of equivalency of the claims are to be embraced within their scope.