Title:
Bracing system for basketball load-support system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An improvement in a mast stiffening system for providing improved support to a mast system for use to support a basketball equipment assembly typically used to suspend a basketball backboard and basket of the type commonly used in a gymnasium building. A mast bracing system co-planar with the centerline of the mast is provided. A vibration reduction system to reduce vibratory and sound transmission during basketball play is also provided.



Inventors:
Litten, Timothy A. (Glendale, AZ, US)
Application Number:
10/164679
Publication Date:
12/12/2002
Filing Date:
06/07/2002
Assignee:
LITTEN TIMOTHY A.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B63/08; A63B71/02; E04C3/02; (IPC1-7): A63B63/08
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CHAMBERS, MICHAEL S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Lodestar Patents, PLLC. (QUEEN CREEK, AZ, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A mast stiffening system for providing improved support from a vertical mast, having a longitudinal center axis and an inner perimeter and an outer perimeter; being supported by a horizontal mast, on top of and perpendicular to said vertical mast, of a basketball equipment assembly comprising, in combination: a) at least one first attachment structured and arranged to firmly attach at least one portion of the outer perimeter to the horizontal mast; b) at least one bracer structured and arranged to brace the horizontal mast to the vertical mast; c) at least one second attachment structured and arranged to attach said bracer to the horizontal mast; and d) at least one third attachment structured and arranged to attach said bracer to the vertical mast; e) wherein at least one first transverse edge of the horizontal mast is essentially in alignment with at least one point of the outer perimeter of the vertical mast; and f) wherein the longitudinal center axis of the vertical mast, said second attachment, and said third attachment all are situate in a single plane.

2. The mast stiffening system according to claim 1 wherein said at least one first attachment comprises at least one weld firmly joining at least one perimeter portion of a top portion of the vertical mast to at least one bottom portion of the horizontal mast.

3. The mast stiffening system according to claim 1 wherein said at least one bracer comprises at least two side braces, each respective said at least two side braces having an upper end and a lower end, extending from the horizontal mast to the vertical mast in a plane parallel to the longitudinal center axis of the vertical mast.

4. The mast stiffening system according to claim 3 wherein the second attachment is further structured and arranged to firmly attach each said upper end of said at least two side braces to the horizontal mast.

5. The mast stiffening system according to claim 4 wherein said third attachment is structured and arranged to firmly attach each said lower end of said at least two side braces to the vertical mast.

6. The mast stiffening system according to claim 5 wherein said third attachment is structured and arranged to firmly attach each said lower end of said at least two side braces to the vertical mast.

7. The mast stiffening system according to claim 6 wherein said at least two side braces are structured and arranged in a mirror image manner with respect to the longitudinal center axis of the vertical mast and opposed at 180 degrees to each other.

8. The mast stiffening system according to claim 7 wherein a second transverse edge of the horizontal mast is essentially in alignment with a transverse edge of each respective brace.

9. The mast stiffening system according to claim 4 wherein said second attachment comprises at least one weld.

10. The mast stiffening system according to claim 5 wherein said third attachment comprises at least one weld.

11. The mast stiffening system according to claim 3 wherein each respective said at least two side braces comprise a single straight rectangular-cross-section bar.

12. A mast stiffening system for providing improved support of a basketball equipment assembly comprising, in combination: a) a vertical mast, having i) an inner perimeter and an outer perimeter, ii) a longitudinal center axis; b) a horizontal mast, situate at the top of and perpendicular to said vertical mast; c) at least two side braces, each having an upper end and a lower end, extending from said horizontal mast to said vertical mast in a single plane passing through said longitudinal center axis of said vertical mast; d) at least one first attachment structured and arranged to firmly attach at least one portion of said outer perimeter to at least one portion of said horizontal mast; e) at least one second attachment structured and arranged to attach at least one portion of each said upper end of said at least two side braces to at least one portion of said horizontal mast; f) at least one third attachment structured and arranged to attach at least one portion of each said lower end of said at least two side braces to at least one portion of said vertical mast; g) wherein a first transverse edge of said horizontal mast is essentially in alignment with at least one point of said outer perimeter of said vertical mast; and h) wherein said longitudinal center axis of said vertical mast, said at least one second attachment, and said at least one third attachment all are situate in a single plane.

13. The mast stiffening system according to claim 12 wherein said at least two side braces comprise two side braces that are situate to said longitudinal center axis of said vertical mast in a mirror image and 180 degrees to each other.

14. The mast stiffening system according to claim 12 wherein a second transverse edge of said horizontal mast is essentially in alignment with a transverse edge of each respective said at least two side braces.

15. The mast stiffening system according to claim 12 wherein said at least one first attachment comprises at least one weld firmly joining to at least one portion of said outer perimeter of said vertical mast to at least one portion of a bottom portion of said horizontal mast.

16. The mast stiffening system according to claim 12 wherein said at least one second attachment is further structured and arranged to attach at least one portion of each said upper end of each respective said at least two side braces to at least one portion of said horizontal mast.

17. The mast stiffening system according to claim 12 wherein said at least one third attachment is structured and arranged to attach to at least one portion of each said lower end of each respective said at least two side braces to at least one portion of said vertical mast.

18. The mast stiffening system according to claim 16 wherein said second attachment comprises at least one weld firmly joining each respective said upper end of each respective said at least two side braces to said horizontal mast.

19. The mast stiffening system according to claim 17 wherein said third attachment comprises at least one weld firmly joining each respective said lower end of each respective said at least two side braces to the vertical mast.

20. The mast stiffening system according to claim 12 further comprising: a) a support structure comprising a plurality of attachment components structured and arranged to attach to said horizontal bar and support the basketball assembly; b) a vibration reducing system for reducing vibration between said attachment components comprising i) at least one vibration reducer structured and arranged to reduce vibration between said attachment components, ii) wherein said at least one vibration reducer is placed between at least two of said attachment components; iii) whereby vibration between said attachment component is reduced when the basketball assembly is used.

21. The system according to claim 20 wherein said at least one vibration reducer is a sound reduction material having; a) a thickness of about 0.04 inches, b) a weight of about 0.5 pounds per square foot, c) a sound transmission loss of about 19-30 decibels at about 1000 Hertz and about 34-44 decibels at a about a frequency of 6300 Hertz, and d) an STC rating of about 19.

22. A vibration reducing system for reducing vibration between steel attachment components used to attach and suspend equipment from the ceiling structure of a building comprising, in combination: a) a vibration reducer structured and arranged to reduce vibration between the steel attachment components; and b) wherein said at least one vibration reducer is placed between at least two of said attachment components.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] The present application is related to'applicant's prior U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/297,213, filed Jun. 7, 2001, entitled “VIBRATION DAMPING SYSTEM”, and U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/297,214, filed Jun. 7, 2001, entitled “IMPROVED BRACING SYSTEM FOR BASKETBALL LOAD-SUPPORT SYSTEM” the contents of which are herein incorporated by reference and are not admitted to be prior art with respect to the present invention by their mention in this cross-reference section.

BACKGROUND

[0002] This invention relates to providing an improvement in bracing to support a support system of the type typically used to suspend a basketball backboard and basket of the type commonly used in a gymnasium building. Further, this invention relates to providing a system for reducing vibrations between the steel components typically used to suspend a basketball backboard and basket.

[0003] In gymnasiums, installation of basketball equipment occurs frequently. The basketball equipment is usually supported from a roof structure, which commonly comprises open web style steel joists that support the roof structure. Typically, large buildings such as schools, wholesale and retail buildings, manufacturing buildings and sports complexes, including gymnasiums, are often fabricated using open web style steel joists and/or a combination of joists and Z-purlins. Typically, joists extend from the walls of a building or from girders that extend from the walls, and support either the roof of the building or a higher floor. Typically, Z-purlins extend between the joists and act as intermediate support members.

[0004] In gymnasiums, installation of basketball equipment is common. The basketball equipment is usually supported either directly from the open web style steel joists or from the intermediate members.

[0005] Typically the weight of the basketball equipment is stressed on literally just the horizontally extending end portions of the open web joist bottom member. Vibratory and other movements of the basketball equipment, as commonly occurs in these types of installations, can cause movement of the clamp along the joist and/or a failure in the holding of the clamp onto the open web joist. Even further, such basketball assembly may have a raising and lowering mechanism. Typically, the raising and lowering of the basketball assembly occurs with the use of side sway bracing in order to reduce the side sway or twisting of the basketball assembly, as it is being raised or lowered.

[0006] Typically, the basketball assembly has such bracing attached both to a horizontal mast at the top of the center mast and also at the sides of the center mast; it is intended to reduce movement of the center mast during use of the basketball equipment and stiffen the basketball assembly to assist in reducing vibration that might, for example, allow unwanted movement of the clamp along the joist. Typically, the side sway bracing attached to the center mast is attached in such a manner that the side sway bracing is offset from the center longitudinal axis of the horizontal mast at the top of the center vertical mast; and this also affects the angle at which the bracing is attached along the vertical sides of the center mast. The present invention, in addition to other improvements, objects, and features apparent from this disclosure, improves the side sway bracing attachment over the prior art and provides an improvement in the strength and function of the side sway bracing, as well as improving the welded side sway bracing attachment.

OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION

[0007] A primary object and feature of the present invention is to fill the above-mentioned needs by the provision of an improved bracing system for bracing equipment that is preferably used to support a piping system of the type commonly used to suspend a basketball backboard and basket to an open web steel joist of the type commonly used to support a gymnasium building roof structure.

[0008] In addition, it is a primary object and feature of this invention to provide such a system that reduces vibratory movement that may cause movement of the supporting clamp system attached along the roof support system.

[0009] A further primary object and feature of the present invention is to provide such a device and system which is efficient, inexpensive, and handy. Other objects and features of this invention will become apparent with reference to the following invention descriptions.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0010] According to a preferred embodiment of the present invention, this invention provides a mast stiffening system for providing improved support from a vertical mast, having a longitudinal center axis and an inner perimeter and an outer perimeter; being supported by a horizontal mast, on top of and perpendicular to such vertical mast, of a basketball equipment assembly comprising, in combination: at least one first attachment structured and arranged to firmly attach at least one portion of the outer perimeter to the horizontal mast; at least one bracer structured and arranged to brace the horizontal mast to the vertical mast; at least one second attachment structured and arranged to attach such bracer to the horizontal mast; and at least one third attachment structured and arranged to attach such bracer to the vertical mast; wherein at least one first transverse edge of the horizontal mast is essentially in alignment with at least one point of the outer perimeter of the vertical mast; and wherein the longitudinal center axis of the vertical mast, such second attachment, and such third attachment all are situate in a single plane.

[0011] It also provides such a system wherein such at least one first attachment comprises at least one weld firmly joining at least one perimeter portion of a top portion of the vertical mast to at least one bottom portion of the horizontal mast; wherein such at least one bracer comprises at least two side braces, each respective such at least two side braces having an upper end and a lower end, extending from the horizontal mast to the vertical mast in a plane parallel to the longitudinal center axis of the vertical mast; and, wherein the second attachment is further structured and arranged to firmly attach each such upper end of such at least two side braces to the horizontal mast. And, it provides such a system wherein such third attachment is structured and arranged to firmly attach each such lower end of such at least two side braces to the vertical mast; wherein such third attachment is structured and arranged to firmly attach each such lower end of such at least two side braces to the vertical mast; and, wherein such at least two side braces are structured and arranged in a mirror image manner with respect to the longitudinal center axis of the vertical mast and opposed at 180 degrees to each other.

[0012] Furthermore, it provides such a system wherein a second transverse edge of the horizontal mast is essentially in alignment with a transverse edge of each respective brace; wherein such second attachment comprises at least one weld; and, wherein such third attachment comprises at least one weld. And, it provides such a system wherein each respective such at least two side braces comprise a single straight rectangular-cross-section bar.

[0013] Further, according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention, this invention provides a mast stiffening system for providing improved support of a basketball equipment assembly comprising, in combination: a vertical mast, having an inner perimeter and an outer perimeter, a longitudinal center axis; a horizontal mast, situate at the top of and perpendicular to such vertical mast; at least two side braces, each having an upper end and a lower end, extending from such horizontal mast to such vertical mast in a single plane passing through such longitudinal center axis of such vertical mast; at least one first attachment structured and arranged to firmly attach at least one portion of such outer perimeter to at least one portion of such horizontal mast; at least one second attachment structured and arranged to attach at least one portion of each such upper end of such at least two side braces to at least one portion of such horizontal mast; at least one third attachment structured and arranged to attach at least one portion of each such lower end of such at least two side braces to at least one portion of such vertical mast; wherein a first transverse edge of such horizontal mast is essentially in alignment with at least one point of such outer perimeter of such vertical mast; and wherein such longitudinal center axis of such vertical mast, such at least one second attachment, and such at least one third attachment all are situate in a single plane.

[0014] It also provides such a system wherein such at least two side braces comprise two side braces that are situate to such longitudinal center axis of such vertical mast in a mirror image and 180 degrees to each other; wherein a second transverse edge of such horizontal mast is essentially in alignment with a transverse edge of each respective such at least two side braces; wherein such at least one first attachment comprises at least one weld firmly joining to at least one portion of such outer perimeter of such vertical mast to at least one portion of a bottom portion of such horizontal mast; and wherein such at least one second attachment is further structured and arranged to attach at least one portion of each such upper end of each respective such at least two side braces to at least one portion of such horizontal mast.

[0015] Additionally, it provides such a system wherein such at least one third attachment is structured and arranged to attach to at least one portion of each such lower end of each respective such at least two side braces to at least one portion of such vertical mast. And, it provides such a system wherein such second attachment comprises at least one weld firmly joining each respective such upper end of each respective such at least two side braces to such horizontal mast; and, wherein such third attachment comprises at least one weld firmly joining each respective such lower end of each respective such at least two side braces to the vertical mast.

[0016] Even further, it provides such a system further comprising: a support structure comprising a plurality of attachment components structured and arranged to attach to such horizontal bar and support the basketball assembly; a vibration reducing system for reducing vibration between such attachment components comprising at least one vibration reducer structured and arranged to reduce vibration between such attachment components, wherein such at least one vibration reducer is placed between at least two of such attachment components; whereby vibration between such attachment component is reduced when the basketball assembly is used.

[0017] Still further, it provides such a system wherein such at least one vibration reducer is a sound reduction material having; a thickness of about 0.04 inches, a weight of about 0.5 pounds per square foot, a sound transmission loss of about 19-30 decibels at about 1000 Hertz and about 34-44 decibels at a about a frequency of 6300 Hertz, and an STC rating of about 19.

[0018] In addition, according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention, this invention provides a vibration reducing system for reducing vibration between steel attachment components used to attach and suspend equipment from the ceiling structure of a building comprising, in combination: a vibration reducer structured and arranged to reduce vibration between the steel attachment components; and wherein such at least one vibration reducer is placed between at least two of such attachment components.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0019] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the mast stiffening system as installed in a gymnasium according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0020] FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a mast frame assembly of the mast stiffening system according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0021] FIG. 3 is a top view of a mast frame assembly of the mast stiffening system according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0022] FIG. 4 is a side view, partially in section, of the mast stiffening system according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0023] FIG. 5 is a perspective view, partially in section, illustrating the top horizontal bar of the mast frame assembly according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0024] FIG. 6 is a perspective view, partially in section, illustrating the diagonal side sway braces of the center mast according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0025] FIG. 7 is a perspective view, partially in section, illustrating the top of the diagonal side sway braces as they connect with the horizontal bar of the center mast according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0026] FIG. 8 is a front view of the mast frame assembly of FIG. 2 for purposes of discussing and illustrating preferred geometries and dimensions.

[0027] FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the improved bracing system on a mast assembly in a partially retracted position according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0028] FIG. 10 is a perspective view of the improved bracing system on a mast assembly in the retracted storage position shown attached to the roof supports according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0029] FIG. 11 is a perspective view, partially in section, of the connection between the top horizontal mast and the connection to the roof structure including an embodiment of a swivel connector that allows the entire basketball equipment assembly to swivel.

[0030] FIG. 12 is a perspective view of a steel connection illustrating the use of a vibration damping system according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT AND BEST MODE OF PRACTICE

[0031] Illustrated in FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the improved bracing system 100 illustrated in an embodiment of a basketball equipment assembly 102, in an extended operating position 104, as would typically be installed in a gymnasium. Preferably, the basketball equipment assembly 102 is attached to a support structure 106, as shown. Typically the support structure 106 also supports a roof 108, as shown. Under appropriate circumstances, other arrangements may suffice. For example, the bracing system 100 may be utilized on a basketball equipment assembly 102 that is not attached to such a support structure 106 or not in a Gymnasium but to a different support structure.

[0032] Preferably, the basketball equipment assembly 102 is supported from a support structure 106 which comprises open web steel joists 110 that support the gymnasium roof structure 112 and a series of cross-members 116, preferably steel, preferably round hollow steel tubing, as shown. A preferred method of securing the basketball equipment assembly 102 to the support structure 106 is to attach the basketball equipment assembly 102 to the cross-members 116 using C-clamp/swivels 118 and 119, as shown. Under appropriate circumstances, other attachment arrangements may suffice.

[0033] Preferably, the cross-members 116 are connected to the open web steel joists 110, as shown, using a plurality of vertical compressive clamps 114, as shown. Under appropriate circumstances, other arrangements may suffice. Preferably, as the vertical compressive clamps 114 are tightened, the vertical compressive clamps 114 compress and support the cross-members 116 onto the open web joist 110. Preferably, the bottom end 111 of the vertical compressive clamp 114 attaches with a pipe clamping means to the cross-members 116 used to support the basketball equipment assembly 102, thereby suspending the basketball equipment assembly 102 from the roof structure 112, as shown (also see FIG. 11).

[0034] In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the improved bracing system 100 is utilized to improve the attachment, and thereby support, of the basketball equipment assembly 102 from a support structure 106, typically attached to a gymnasium roof structure 112, as shown. Preferably, the basketball equipment assembly 102 can be raised and lowered, as illustrated in FIG. 1 and FIG. 10, either toward the gymnasium roof structure 112 or away from it (toward the floor, not shown). Preferably, the lowered position is the operating position (see FIG. 9) for use while playing basketball. Preferably, the raised position is the storage position (see FIG. 10). Preferably, the basketball equipment assembly 102 is raised or lowered utilizing a cable 120 and pulley 122 arrangement, as shown. Preferably, the cable 120 is pulled utilizing a motorized assembly 124, preferably electric and controlled from a remote switch. Under appropriate circumstances, other arrangements (such as manually operated crank systems) may suffice.

[0035] Preferably, the C-clamp/swivels 118 comprise swivel connectors 126 connecting the basketball equipment assembly 102 to the gymnasium roof structure 112, as shown and further described in reference to FIG. 11. A swivel connector 126 provides a joint that allows the raising and lowering of the basketball equipment assembly 102 from about a vertical position to about a horizontal position.

[0036] Preferably, the cable 120 is attached to a motorized assembly 124 for the purposes of a motorized assisting in pulling the cable 120. Preferably, the cable 120 is attached to the basketball equipment assembly 102 in such manner as to be able to pull the basketball equipment assembly 102 upward.

[0037] Preferably, the swivel connectors 126 provide enough rotation for the basketball equipment assembly 102 to rotate in such upward direction as to place the basketball equipment assembly 102 in a stored position 121 as illustrated in FIG. 10. Under appropriate circumstances, (e.g., where folded storage is impractical due to economic or space limitations,) other arrangements (such as fixed mounted installations) may suffice.

[0038] The basketball equipment assembly 102 preferably comprises an overhead supported backstop 128 with a fully welded vertical frame assembly 130. In a typical embodiment of the basketball equipment assembly 102, the frame assembly 130 comprises a main center mast 132.

[0039] The main center mast 132 is preferably comprised of 6⅝″ O.D. heavy wall structural steel tubing (embodying herein a vertical mast, having an inner perimeter and an outer perimeter, and, a longitudinal center axis). Diagonal side sway braces 134 and 136 are preferably attached to the center mast 132 and the top mast 138, as shown. Preferably, the diagonal side sway braces 134 and 136 are fabricated from 1½″×3″ structural steel rectangular tubing (embodying herein wherein each respective said at least two side braces comprise a single straight rectangular-cross-section bar). Preferably, the top horizontal mast 138 consists of heavy 2″×4″ structural steel U-channel, as shown. In the past, the top horizontal mast 138 has been welded onto the center mast 132 in a position about in the middle of the center mast 132, in the shape of a T. The present invention revises the position of the horizontal mast 138 on the center mast 132 as well as the position of the diagonal side sway braces 134 and 136 as will now be described below.

[0040] FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a mast frame assembly 130 of the mast stiffening system 100 according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 3 is a top view of a mast frame assembly 130 of the mast stiffening system 100 according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 4 is a side view, partially in section, of the mast stiffening system 100 according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 5 is a perspective view, partially in section, illustrating the top horizontal bar of the mast according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 6 is a perspective view, partially in section, illustrating the diagonal side sway braces 134 and 136 of the center mast 132 according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 7 is a perspective view, partially in section, illustrating the top of the diagonal side sway braces 134 and 136 as they connect with the horizontal bar 138 of the center mast 132 according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0041] Preferably, the frame assembly 100 comprises a main center mast 132 and diagonal side sway braces 134 and 136 firmly attached to the center mast 132 and the top horizontal mast 138, preferably attached by welding, as shown (embodying herein at least one bracer structured and arranged to brace the horizontal mast to the vertical mast).

[0042] In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the top horizontal mast 138 is attached, preferably by welding, to the main center mast 132 in a perpendicular configuration, as shown. (as best illustrated in FIGS. 1 through FIG. 7). This arrangement embodies herein a horizontal mast, situate at the top of and perpendicular to said vertical mast. Preferably, the top horizontal mast 138 is attached “off center” such that the outer longitudinal side 140 of the horizontal mast 138 aligns with the edge 142 along the side of the main center mast 132, as shown (embodying herein wherein at least one first transverse edge of the horizontal mast is essentially in alignment with at least one point of the outer perimeter of the vertical mast; and embodying herein wherein said at least one first attachment comprises at least one weld firmly joining at least one perimeter portion of a top portion of the vertical mast to at least one bottom portion of the horizontal mast). Most preferably, the diagonal side sway braces 134 and 136 align in a single plane and in the same plane as the central longitudinal axis of the main center mast 132, as shown (embodying herein wherein the longitudinal center axis of the vertical mast, said second attachment, and said third attachment all are situate in a single plane). Preferably, edge 142 is the edge away from the direction of the main center mast 132 when it is being raised, as shown in FIG. 11 and FIG. 10. For example, if the basketball equipment assembly 102 is near a west wall, it would typically be raised towards the east wall and upward towards the roof structure 112. Therefore, the basketball equipment assembly 102, the backstop 128, and the main center mast 132 would fold on the east side of the main center mast 132. In this example, the edge 142 would be the western edge of the main center mast 132, which is the edge away from the direction of the main center mast 132 when it is being raised.

[0043] Preferably, the portion of the horizontal mast 138 that comes into contact with the edge 142 along the side of the main center mast 132 is welded such that there is a complete weld along the bottom and side of the horizontal mast 138, as indicated by dotted lines 144 (this arrangement embodying herein at least one first attachment structured and arranged to firmly attach at least one portion of the outer perimeter to the horizontal mast; and, embodying herein wherein said at least one first attachment comprises at least one weld firmly joining to at least one portion of said outer perimeter of said vertical mast to at least one portion of a bottom portion of said horizontal mast).

[0044] Preferably, the diagonal side sway braces 134 and 136 are attached to the top horizontal mast 138 by welding. They are preferably weldably attached along edge 146, as shown, on the opposite longitudinal edge 142 of horizontal mast 138 such that edge 146 is aligned with the outside face of the diagonal side sway braces 134 and 136, as shown. This arrangement embodies herein wherein a second transverse edge of the horizontal mast is essentially in alignment with a transverse edge of each respective brace; and wherein a second transverse edge of said horizontal mast is essentially in alignment with a transverse edge of each respective said at least two side braces.

[0045] Preferably, the diagonal side sway braces 134 and 136 are attached, preferably by welding, with a first end 150 attached to the top horizontal mast 138 as described above and as shown (embodying herein at least one second attachment structured and arranged to attach said bracer to the horizontal mast; and, embodying herein wherein said at least one second attachment is further structured and arranged to attach at least one portion of each said upper end of each respective said at least two side braces to at least one portion of said horizontal mast; and, embodying herein wherein the second attachment is further structured and arranged to firmly attach each said upper end of said at least two side braces to the horizontal mast; and, embodying herein wherein said second attachment comprises at least one weld firmly joining each respective said upper end of each respective said at least two side braces to said horizontal mast), and a second end 152 attached, longitudinally and centered along the central longitudinal axis of the main center mast 132, as shown (embodying herein at least one third attachment structured and arranged to attach said bracer to the vertical mast; and embodying herein wherein said third attachment is structured and arranged to firmly attach each said lower end of said at least two side braces to the vertical mast; and, embodying herein wherein said third attachment comprises at least one weld firmly joining each respective said lower end of each respective said at least two side braces to the vertical mast). Preferably, in the above-described manner of attachment, the sway braces 134 and 136 are each respectively located in about the same plane as each other as they preferably attach about one-hundred-eighty-degrees opposite each other being mirrored along a center longitudinal plane on the center mast 132, as shown (this arrangement embodying herein wherein said at least two side braces are structured and arranged in a mirror image manner with respect to the longitudinal center axis of the vertical mast and opposed at 180 degrees to each other; and, embodying herein wherein said at least two side braces comprise two side braces that are situate to said longitudinal center axis of said vertical mast in a mirror image and 180 degrees to each other). The above arrangement also embodies herein wherein said at least one bracer comprises at least two side braces, each respective said at least two side braces having an upper end and a lower end, extending from the horizontal mast to the vertical mast in a plane parallel to the longitudinal center axis of the vertical mast.

[0046] According to the present invention, the above-described method and location of attachment is an improvement in the previous manner in which such basketball equipment assemblies have been installed. As previously stated, diagonal side sway braces 134 and 136, in the prior art, were attached centered in the top horizontal mast 138 and centered on the center mast 132. However, when assembled in such a manner, the frame assembly 130 was off-balance and required a weighted counterbalance to allow the top horizontal mast 138 to set vertically and rest against the rear brace 148. Further, the welding and attachment of the components is superior in the present invention as there is a greater length of weldable area, as shown.

[0047] According to the present invention, moving the top horizontal mast 138 attachment to one side or the other (depending on the direction of the lift or raising of the frame assembly 130) of the center mast 132, provides an assembly wherein the frame assembly 130 will hang vertically, without a counterbalance (as there is a greater amount of weight of the frame assembly 130 on the side opposite the side with the top horizontal mast 138 attachment on the center mast 132). The diagonal side sway braces 134 and 136 were attached in the old manner from the center of the top horizontal mast 138 to the center of the center mast 132, and, since the top horizontal mast 138 was off-set on the side of the center mast 132, the diagonal side sway braces 134 and 136 were essentially attached at an angle and skewed. According to the present invention, attaching the diagonal side sway braces 134 and 136, as shown, and described above, allows for a better weld attachment (e.g., there is more metal to weld to on the sides of the top horizontal mast 138 and the sides of the center mast 132) of both the top horizontal mast 138 (which is preferably off-set on the side of the center mast 132) and the diagonal side sway braces 134 and 136 on the top horizontal mast 138.

[0048] In addition, according to the present invention, the above described arrangement provides a stronger (stiffer and more vibration-free) frame assembly 130 as the diagonal side sway braces 134 and 136, top horizontal mast 138 and center mast 132 are more in the same plane to one another, thereby stiffening the frame assembly 130. Further, the straighter attachment by applicant appears more visually pleasing. Most preferably, this improved installation system provides additional welding area, an improved visual look and a stronger installation which will result in less transferred vibration from the basketball backboard 128 to the clamps 118 and 119.

[0049] FIG. 8 is a front view of the mast frame assembly 130 of FIG. 2 for purposes of discussing and illustrating preferred geometries and dimensions. Preferably, a basketball rim 154 (see FIG. 1) is ten feet above the finished floor of the building (i.e., gymnasium) in which it is installed. Preferably, the main center mast 132 extends slightly below that ten-foot height in order to adequately support the backstop 128. Under appropriate circumstances, other height arrangements may suffice. Preferably, the overall height H of the main center mast 132 depends, then, on the overall height of the roof support structure (from the floor to the bottom of the supports holding the roof, typically) that is used to hang the main center mast 132 above the finish floor of the building. For example, if the main center mast 132 were supported nineteen feet-six inches above the finish floor, then a main center mast 132 height of about ten feet would be preferably utilized. In this example, Dimension H would then be ten feet or 120 inches. Preferably, the width of the dimension W of the top horizontal mast 138 is then calculated, based on experience of those knowledgeable in the art, such that as much vibration and lateral movement as practicable will be limited by cross-bracing. In this example, the dimension W would be about sixty inches. Preferably, the diagonal side sway braces 134 and 136 are installed such that the outer edge 162 of first end 150 of the diagonal side sway braces 134 and 136 is about three inches inward and toward the center from an end 56 of the horizontal mast 138. Preferably, the second end 152 of the diagonal side sway braces 134 and 136 extends a length L such that it is attached to the main center mast 132 approximately five and one-half feet from the bottom end 154 of the main center mast 132 (when desiring to place the basketball rim at 10 feet above the floor). Preferably, the angle A varies as a relationship between the height H of the main center mast 132, length L of the diagonal side sway braces 134 and 136 and the width W of the top horizontal mast 138. Under appropriate circumstances, for example when desiring to hang the basketball backboard lower (for example for children) other dimensions may suffice.

[0050] FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the improved bracing system on a mast frame assembly 130 in a partially retracted position according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0051] FIG. 10 is a perspective view of the improved bracing system on a mast frame assembly 130 in the retracted storage position 121 shown attached to the roof structural supports 106 according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0052] FIG. 11 is a partial perspective view of the connection between the top horizontal mast 138 and the connection to the roof structure 112 including an embodiment of a swivel connector 126 that allows the entire basketball equipment assembly 102 to swivel, as shown. FIG. 12 is a perspective view of a steel connection illustrating the use of a vibration damping method according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0053] Both FIG. 11 and FIG. 12 illustrate use of a vibration damping system 160 that provides both vibratory and sound resistance to the basketball equipment assembly 102 and improves and assists the mast stiffening system 100.

[0054] The basketball equipment assembly 102 is relatively heavy and it is well-secured by the above described attachment components of the support structure 106 (comprising horizontal compressive clamps 114 and cross-members 116) to prevent the assembly 102 from coming loose or disengaging from the support structure 106 (this arrangement embodying a support structure comprising a plurality of attachment components structured and arranged to attach to said horizontal bar and support the basketball assembly). Further, a great amount of the weight and bearing of the assembly 102 is stressed on the nuts 162 and bolts 164. Vibratory and other movements of the basketball equipment assembly 102, as commonly occurs in these types of installations during playing of the game of basketball, can cause movement of the cross-member 116 which is part of the basketball equipment assembly 102 or loosening of the compressive clamp 166 or 168.

[0055] Preferably, to reduce vibrations and vibration noise impacted at the compressive clamp 166 and 168 by movement of the basketball equipment assembly 102 during basketball play, a sound reduction material 170 is placed at preferably all attachment points (as listed below and illustrated on FIG. 11 and FIG. 12) and around compressive clamp 166 as well as clamp 168 (the above-described arrangement embodying herein a vibration reducing system for reducing vibration between said attachment components comprising at least one vibration reducer structured and arranged to reduce vibration between said attachment components, wherein said at least one vibration reducer is placed between at least two of said attachment components). Under appropriate circumstances, such as when it is desired to reduce sound transfer and vibration from around clamp 172, other points of placement of the sound reduction material 170 may suffice, for example, such as around clamp 172.

[0056] Preferably, the sound reduction material 170 is a thin, dense, plain-noise barrier material which will absorb and reduce vibrations between components, most preferably steel components. Preferably, the sound reduction material 170 has a thickness of about 0.04 inches and a weight of about 0.5 pounds per square foot. Under appropriate circumstances, other thickness and weight arrangements may suffice. Preferably, the sound reduction material 170 is capable of a sound transmission loss of 19-30 decibels at 1000 Hertz and 34-44 decibels at a frequency of 6300 Hertz with an STC rating of about 19. Under appropriate circumstances, other ratings and frequency arrangements may suffice (this arrangement embodying herein wherein said at least one vibration reducer is a sound reduction material having; a thickness of about 0.04 inches, a weight of about 0.5 pounds per square foot, a sound transmission loss of about 19-30 decibels at about 1000 Hertz and about 34-44 decibels at a about a frequency of 6300 Hertz, and an STC rating of about 19).

[0057] In a preferred embodiment, the sound reduction material 170 is Barymat 5 (available from Blanchford Company, 2323 Royal Windsor Drive, Mississaugua, Ontario, Canada). Most preferably, the attachment points are as follows:

[0058] Point 180, between the clamp 166 and, in the illustrated embodiment, cross-member 116. The sound reduction material 170 is preferably placed completely around the exterior circumference of the cross-member 116 between the clamp 166 and the cross-member 116, as shown.

[0059] Point 182, between nut 162 and the bottom plate 184 of the Z-purlin 186 (when used), as shown or Point 188, between the bolt cap 190 and the top plate 192 of the clamp 168, as shown.

[0060] Under appropriate circumstances, the sound reduction material 170 may be placed between other such attachment components used to attach and suspend a basketball assembly.

[0061] Under appropriate circumstances, the sound reduction material 170 may be placed between other such attachment components, especially steel components) used to attach and suspend other assemblies as may be useful (for example, sound and stage equipment).

[0062] Although applicant has described applicant's preferred embodiments of this invention, it will be understood that the broadest scope of this invention includes such modifications as diverse shapes and sizes and materials. Such scope is limited only by the below claims as read in connection with the above specification. Further, many other advantages of applicant's invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art from the above descriptions and the below claims.