Title:
Retractable cable assembly
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A retractable cable reel assembly that has a spring loaded cable reel which attaches to a midpoint of a cable and when rotated by the spring, winds both ends of the cable up on the cable reel. A releasable detent arrangement is used to retain a desired amount of cable extending from the assembly.



Inventors:
Stepancich, George (Dana Point, CA, US)
Shenkal, Yuval (Cardiff, CA, US)
Application Number:
09/963264
Publication Date:
04/11/2002
Filing Date:
09/25/2001
Assignee:
STEPANCICH GEORGE
SHENKAL YUVAL
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
242/385.4
International Classes:
B65H75/40; B65H75/44; H02G11/02; (IPC1-7): B65H75/48
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
RIVERA, WILLIAM ARAUZ
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GEORGE W FINCH (MALIBU, CA, US)
Claims:
1. A retractable assembly useful to connect electronic devices including: an elongated connection having: a first end portion; a central portion; and a second end portion; a reel having: a hub including: a retainer engaged with said central portion; and a case in which said reel is mounted having: at least one opening out through which said elongated connection extends; and an elastic member operatively connected to said case and said reel to bias said reel for rotation to wind up said elongated connection on said reel.

2. The retractable assembly as defined in claim 1 wherein said case further includes: two openings for said elongated connection about 180° from each other.

3. The retractable assembly as defined in claim 1 further including: a releasable ratchet assembly for said reel to retain said reel in a releasable fixed position so that similar lengths of said first and second portions of said elongated connection remain extended from said case.

4. The retractable assembly as defined in claim 1 wherein said reel includes: a cylindrical reel side having: a circular outer edge; and at least one engagement surface formed in said circular outer edge, said retractable assembly further including: a releasable ratchet assembly for said reel to retain said reel in a releasable fixed position, said releasable ratchet assembly includes: a pawl positioned for engagement with said at least one engagement surface to prevent said elastic member from winding up said elongated connection; elastic means to bias said pawl toward said circular outer edge; and a pawl release to allow manual movement of said pawl away from said circular outer edge whereby said elastic member can wind up said elongated connection.

5. The retractable assembly as defined in claim 1 wherein said elongated connection is an electric wire connection between a cellular telephone and an audio annunciator.

6. The retractable assembly as defined in claim 1 wherein said case is generally centered on said elongated connection extending from said case.

7. The retractable assembly as defined in claim 1 further including: a pawl positioned for engagement with said reel to prevent said elastic member from winding up said elongated connection; elastic means to bias said pawl into engagement with said reel; and a pawl release positioned outside said case to allow manual movement of said pawl away from engagement with said reel whereby said elastic member can wind up said elongated connection.

8. The retractable assembly as defined in claim 1 wherein said elongated connection is an electric wire connection between an electronic device that produces an audio output and an audio annunciator.

9. A cable retractor assembly for a cellular telephone including: a cable having: a first end portion for connection to the cellular telephone; a central portion; and a second end portion including: audio output means extending therefrom; a reel having: a hub including: a cable retainer engaged with said central portion; and a housing in which said reel is mounted having: at least one cable opening out through which said cable extends; and a spring operatively connected to said case and said reel to bias said reel for rotation in a direction to wind up said cable on said reel.

10. The cable retractor assembly as defined in claim 9 further including: a releasable retention assembly for said reel to retain said reel in a releasable fixed position so that similar lengths of said first and second portions of said cable remain extended from said housing.

11. The cable retractor assembly as defined in claim 9 wherein said reel includes: a reel side having: an outer edge; and at least one abutment surface formed in said outer edge, said cable retractor assembly further including: a releasable ratchet assembly for said reel to retain said reel in at least one releasable fixed position, said releasable ratchet assembly including: a pawl positioned for engagement with said at least one abutment surface to prevent said spring from winding up said cable; means to bias said pawl toward said at least one abutment surface; and a pawl release to allow manual movement of said pawl away from said circular outer edge whereby said spring can wind up said cable.

12. The cable retractor assembly as defined in claim 9 wherein said housing is generally centered on said cable between said first and second portions, said audio output means including: an earpiece speaker, and said second portion also including: a microphone extending therefrom spaced with respect to said ear piece speaker so that when said earpiece speaker is positioned adjacent an ear of a user, said microphone is positioned near the mouth of the user.

13. The cable retractor assembly as defined in claim 9 wherein said housing is generally cylindrical in shape and includes: two openings for said cable about 180° from each other.

14. The cable retractor assembly as defined in claim 9 wherein said case further includes: two openings for said cable opposite from each other.

15. The cable retractor assembly as defined in claim 9 wherein said housing is generally centered on said cable between said first and second portions, said audio output means including: an earpiece speaker, and said second portion also including: a microphone extending therefrom.

16. An assembly for storing, winding up and extending cable, said assembly including: a reel having: a cable retainer for engagement with a cable; and a housing in which said reel is mounted for rotation having: at least one cable opening out through which opposite ends of a cable can be extended; and a spring operatively connected between said case and said reel to bias said reel for rotation in a direction to wind up cable on said reel.

17. The assembly as defined in claim 16 further including: a releasable retention assembly for said reel to retain said reel in releasable fixed positions whereby when said reel is in a fixed position, similar lengths of cable remain extended from said housing.

18. The assembly as defined in claim 16 wherein said case is generally cylindrical in shape and includes: two openings for cable radially opposite from each other out through which opposite ends of a cable can be extended.

19. The assembly as defined in claim 18 wherein said reel includes: a reel side having: an outer edge; and at least one abutment surface formed in said outer edge, said assembly further including: a pawl positioned for engagement with said at least one abutment surface to prevent said spring from winding said reel; means to bias said pawl into abutment with said at least one abutment surface; and a pawl release operatively connected to said pawl for manually overcoming said means to bias to release said pawl from said at least one abutment surface, whereby said spring can wind up cable on said reel or cable can be pulled therefrom in opposite directions.

20. The assembly as defined in claim 16 wherein said housing is generally cylindrical in shape having: a radial side surface including: two openings about 180° from each other for movement of cable there through.

21. The assembly as defined in claim 16 wherein said housing is generally cylindrical in outer shape having: a radial side surface including: two openings about 180° from each other for movement of cable there through; a center post for attachment of said spring, said spring being: a coil spring and having: a first spring end connected to said center post; and a second spring end, and said reel including: a cylindrical hub positioned about said coil spring whereby said second spring end is connected to said hub.

22. The assembly as defined in claim 16 wherein said housing includes: two openings about 180° from each other for movement of cable there through; and a center post for attachment of said spring, said spring being a coil spring and having: a first spring end connected to said center post; and a second spring end, and said reel including: a hub positioned about said coil spring whereby said second spring end is connected to said hub.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] Many electronic devices include cable connected accessories such as speakers, computer input mice, headsets and the like which are used at varying distances from the base electronic or electrical device. In the case of telephones, a common expedient is to provide a curly cord between the telephone base and the handset to allow the handset to be moved a variable distance from the base and yet not have excess lengths of cord present. However, curly cords have a disadvantage because users commonly twist the handset one turn every time the telephone is answered. This results in a double twisted curly cord, which may not extend properly. In the case of vacuum cleaners, it is common to provide a cable reel which plays cord out for connection to a wall socket. Usually, the cable reel is spring loaded to wind the cord up and includes some sort of catch mechanism to maintain the cord extended from the reel case in predetermined lengths. Since one end of the cord is being coiled up, some sort of commutator is normally required between cord reel and vacuum cleaner to assure electrical contact is maintained. In other than electrical power applications, such commutators are noisy and require almost constant maintenance

[0002] Optical cables are now being run in internal structures to provide high speed communications. Since interior runs may be short or long, a great deal of effort has been expended in developing connectors for such optical cables that can be installed in the field. Unfortunately, no matter how good the connector, alignment between the connector and the optical fiber is critical and connectors installed in a factory usually have less optical loss than those installed in the field. Therefore, optical cables are made at the factory in standard lengths greater than the expected connection distance. Then the extra cable length is taken up by wrapping the cable back and forth an overhead cable tray, coiling it in walls, or just leaving it in a snarled mess behind computer furniture.

[0003] In all the few applications mentioned above and many others, it is desirable to provide means that neatly provide a cable the right length without requiring unsightly coils, cable trays or, in the case of optical cables, in the field connector installation.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0004] In the present invention, a cable reel is provided that retains a cable somewhere near its midpoint and winds up both ends equally without twisting the cable. The reel is spring loaded to wind its connected cable up from the center outward with the reel continuing to float somewhere in the midpoint of the cable.

[0005] In use, one end of the cable is connected to a device and the other is pulled so that cable plays out from the reel in opposite directions with the reel remaining near a midpoint of the cable and moving about half the distance the free end moves. The reel and its case are constructed of light materials so the cable reel assembly does not overly stress the cable. A catch mechanism is provided so that once cable is pulled from the reel a desired amount, it tends to remain with that amount extending from the assembly until an optional catch within the assembly is manually released to allow the spring to wind up the cable.

[0006] Some of the applications for the subject invention include: connecting a handset to a conventional phone; connecting a headset including earpiece and microphone to a conventional phone, a cell phone, and a belt mounted wireless phone; and connections between audio and video equipment or anyplace where a retractable “cable stretcher” is needed. A particularly interesting application is when optical cables are factory made to standard lengths with any extra length taken up by the present invention somewhere along the cable so that a range of distances can be neatly connected with optical cable by having the present invention take up the unneeded length.

[0007] It is therefore an object of the present invention to efficiently provide means to vary the length of cable from a position along its middle which can be small, light and relatively economical.

[0008] Another object is to provide a retractable cable reel which requires no commutation or sliding contacts.

[0009] Another object is to provide factory assembled optical cable assemblies to lengths that can be conveniently varied.

[0010] These and other objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art after considering the following detailed specification, together with the accompanying drawings wherein:

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0011] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a cable reel assembly of the present invention;

[0012] FIG. 2 is an exploded view of the assembly of FIG. 1;

[0013] FIG. 3 is an enlarged view of the present invention with the top housing thereof removed;

[0014] FIG. 4 is a view similar to FIG. 3 of the cable reel of the assembly with the cable attached thereto;

[0015] FIG. 5 is a greatly enlarged top cross-sectional view of the reel position maintaining releasable retention lever of the present invention;

[0016] FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the assembly of the present invention with cable extending out of the same side of the assembly; and

[0017] FIG. 7 is a side view of the present invention being used to vary the length between connectors of an optical cable.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0018] Referring to the drawings more particularly by reference numbers, number 100 in FIGS. 1 and 2 refers a retractable headset assembly 100 which as shown assembled in FIG. 1 and disassembled in FIG. 2. The assembly 100 includes a top housing portion 102, and a bottom housing portion 104 having opposite openings 105 and 106 through its cylindrical side 107. The two housing portions 102 and 104 when assembled define a generally cylindrical interior cavity 108. A reel 110 having a closed side formed by a generally circular disk 112, a generally cylindrical reel hub 113, and an open side 114 is rotatably mounted in the interior cavity 108. The hub 113 includes a pair of spaced slots 116 and 118 though which a central portion 120 of a multi-wire cable 122 is retained. This is shown in detail in FIGS. 3 and 4. The opposite ends 122a and 122b of the cable 122 extend through the opposite openings 105 and 106 and are normally connected respectively between the jack of a cell phone by means of plug 123a and a headset 123b therefor shown including a ear piece 124a and a microphone 124b. A coil spring 125 is connected between the hub 113 and a central, cylindrical retention post 126 extending from the bottom housing portion 104 by a hook 127 which engages the hub 113 at a slot 128, to bias the reel 110 so that the reel winds up the cable 122 doubly there about. A central bearing surface 129 through the disk 112 centers the reel 110 on the post 126 for rotation thereabout. The normal position of the cable 122 is wound around the reel hub 113. When a length of cable 122 is desired, pulling on either or both ends 122a and 122b of the cable 122 extends the cable 122 out of the openings 105 and 106, keeping the housing portions 102 and 104 and the reel 110, generally in the middle of the cable 122.

[0019] The edge 130 of the disk 112 includes a plurality of detents 132. A releasable retention lever 134 (enlarged view in FIG. 5) pivoted to the lower housing portion 104 on post 135 includes a pawl 136 biased by spring 137 into the edge 130 to engage one of the detents 132. The pawl 136 is restricted in motion range by engagement with a portion 144 of the cylindrical side 107 whereas the spring 137 acts between a spring retainer portion 146 upstanding from the bottom housing portion 104 and an interior abutment surface 148 of the retention lever 134. This holds the reel 110 against the bias imposed thereon by the spring 125 so as to releasably maintain a given length of cable 122 unwound from the reel 110. A retractor lever portion 150 of the releasable retention mechanism 134 extends beyond the cylindrical side 107. When the portion 150 is depressed, the pawl 136 releases the detent 132 with which it is in contact and allows the spring 125 to rewind the cable 122 onto the reel 110. Note that twice the amount of cable 122 is retracted and extends as the diameter of the hub 113, reducing the rotation requirements of the coil spring 125.

[0020] As shown in FIG. 6, both ends 122a and 122b of the cable 122 may be extended out of the same side of the assembly 100. This configuration is for use when the assembly includes a large quantity of cable from which it may hang.

[0021] In addition to providing an electrical connection of variable length, the assembly 100 may be configured with optical cables 160 instead of electrical ones as shown in FIG. 7. In this way, standard length ranges of optical cables 160 with factory installed connectors 162 and 164 may be provided to connect optical devices. For example if an assembly 100 can retract fifty feet of optical cable, then assemblies 100 capable of accommodating distances between optical devices of zero to fifty feet, fifty to one hundred feet, one hundred to one hundred and fifty feet, and so on can be produced to eliminate cable takeup trays and yet not require field optical fiber cutting and connector attachment.

[0022] Thus, there has been shown novel demodulation apparatus and demodulation method which fulfill all of the objects and advantages sought therefor. Many changes, alterations, modifications and other uses and applications of the subject invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art after considering the specification together with the accompanying drawings. All such changes, alterations and modifications which do not depart from the spirit and scope of the invention are deemed to be covered by the invention which is limited only by the claims that follow.