Title:
Retractable telescoping court standard
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A collapsible court standard for positioning a net above a gymnasium floor includes an embedded upright floor tube with a top end which is level with the floor; one or more contained tubes slidably positioned within the floor tube; a releasable lock means and biased rocker latches to maintain the contained tubes at a selected height. Pneumatic power is supplied to the embedded upright floor to lift the contained tubes. The releasable lock means includes a split ring to maintain the net at a particular height. A shock absorbing pad cushions the contained tube upon retraction, and a movable floor cover is attached to the floor tube to provide access to the contained tubes. A winch and pulley are attached to a contained tube or innermost cylindrical member so that a net cable may be drawn over the pulley and tightened with the winch.



Inventors:
Stambaugh, Cecil Edward (Colorado Springs, CO, US)
Application Number:
11/236892
Publication Date:
04/06/2006
Filing Date:
09/28/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B61/02; A63B67/00; A63B71/02
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Primary Examiner:
CHIU, RALEIGH W
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LAW OFFICES OF DALE B. HALLING (COLORADO SPRINGS, CO, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A court standard for positioning a net above a gymnasium floor comprising: an embedded upright floor tube having a top end portion which is nominally in alignment with the gymnasium floor; a contained tube closely and slidably positioned within the floor tube; and a releasable lock means to maintain the contained tube at a selected height above the floor.

2. The court standard as in claim 1, further comprising: a pneumatic supply line attached to the embedded upright floor tube at a first end and a pneumatic power supply at a second end; and a pneumatic toggle switch incorporated into the pneumatic supply line between the first end and the second end.

3. The court standard as in claim 2 wherein the releasable lock means comprises a split ring adapted to engage the contained tube to maintain the net at one of multiple heights, said height selected for a game being played.

4. The court standard as in claim 3 wherein there are a plurality of contained tubes, each contained tube closely and slidably positioned within a tube therebelow.

5. The court standard as in claim 4 further comprising: a shock absorbing pad positioned within a bottom portion of the floor tube to cushion the contained tube upon retraction; and a movable floor cover attached to the floor tube and providing access to the contained tubes.

6. The court standard as in claim 5 wherein a top portion of the floor tube and each contained tube have an annular inner stop portion, and wherein a lower portion of each contained tube has an annular outer guide portion having a thickness comparable to the inner stop member, said outer guide portion coming into contact with a respective stop member when the contained tube is fully upwardly extended.

7. The court standard as in claim 6 further comprising a top and innermost cylindrical member having a lower end portion having an annular outer guide portion and an upper portion adapted for reception of the net.

8. The court standard as in claim 2 further comprising a winch which is releasably attachable to a contained tube and wherein the top and innermost cylindrical member further comprises a top pulley so that a net cable may be drawn over the pulley and tightened with the winch.

9. The court standard as in claim 4 further comprising a biased rocker latch incorporated into each contained tube and configured so that when the contained tube is fully elevated the latch will engage.

10. The court standard as in claim 9 wherein each contained tube comprises a pair of rocker latches positioned opposite each other so that the latches may be squeezed together for release, and wherein each rocker latch pivots on a pin in an elliptical hole so that the weight carried by the contained tube is partially carried by the rocker latch rather than entirely by the pin.

11. The court standard as in claim 4 wherein the inner members further comprise a peripheral seal to trap air within the inner tubes to result in an air-cushioned retraction of the court standard.

12. The court standard as in claim 1 further comprising: an alignment groove incorporated into an exterior surface of the contained tube; and an alignment pin attached to an interior surface of the floor tube, the alignment pin in sliding communication with the alignment groove.

13. A method of erecting a court standard and supported net above a gymnasium floor comprising the following steps: (a) providing a court standard having an embedded upright floor tube having a top end portion which is nominally in alignment with the gymnasium floor; a contained tube closely and slidably positioned within the floor tube; and releasable lock means to maintain the contained tube at a selected height above the floor; (b) elevating the contained tube to a desired height; (c) releasably locking the contained tube at the selected height above the floor; and (d) attaching the net to the court standard; thereby avoiding the task of carrying the court standard from storage.

14. The method of erecting a court standard of claim 13, where step (b) further comprises the steps of: (b1) applying pneumatic power into the embedded upright floor tube.

15. The method of claim 14, where the court standard further comprises: a lockable split ring adapted to engage around the top and innermost cylindrical member to maintain the net at a selected height.

16. The method of claim 15 where step (c) further comprises the step of: (c1) locking the split ring onto the innermost cylindrical member to maintain the net at the selected height.

17. The method of claim 15 where step (c) further comprises the step of: (c2) releasably attaching a winch to the contained tube; (c3) releasably attaching a top pulley to the top of the innermost cylindrical member; (c4) stringing a net cable over the pulley; and (c5) tightening the net with the winch.

18. The method of claim 13 where step (c) further comprises the step of: (c1) automatically engaging at least one biased rocker latch when the contained tube is fully elevated.

19. The method of storing a court standard, comprising the steps of: (a) removing an attached winch from a contained tube; (b) removing a top pulley from an innermost contained tube; and (c) releasing all biased rocker latches.

Description:

PRIORITY DATA

This application is a Continuation in Part of U.S. Patent application Ser. No. 10/714,094 filed on Nov. 17, 2003, entitled “Retractable Telescoping Court Standard” and is hereby incorporated by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to net support standards used in gymnasiums. More particularly this invention relates to net a support standard which telescopes down to a fraction of its extended height and then retracts below floor grade for storage.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Most gymnasiums are used for many and all indoor sporting activities. A school gymnasium is typically continuously scheduled for different activities each hour. If volleyball, tennis, or badminton are played it is first necessary to access a storage room and carry the net standards from the storage room to a central portion of the gymnasium where they will be used. Before the conclusion of the scheduled time the standards must be removed and returned to the storage room so the gymnasium will be cleared and available for the next scheduled event. These standards are heavy. Generally, arriving early to access them in storage and lug them to position and, staying late to lug them back to storage, is one of the least preferred aspects of coaching.

One problem with court standards is providing accessible storage for them. A partial solution to this problem is to provide height adjustable standards which may be adjusted to the varying heights required for volleyball, tennis, or badminton. One problem with using a height adjustable standard is that the multipurpose standard is substantially heavier. What is needed is a standard which is adjustable for height and which can be conveniently stored beneath the floor on the location where it is used.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The retractable telescoping court standard includes an embedded upright floor tube having a top end portion which is nominally in alignment with the gymnasium floor, a contained tube closely and slidably positioned within the floor tube, and a releasable lock means to maintain the contained tube at a selected height above the floor. In one embodiment, there are a plurality of contained tubes, and each contained tube is closely and slidably positioned within a tube therebelow.

A top portion of the floor tube and each contained tube has an annular inner stop portion. The lower portion of each contained tube has an annular outer guide portion having a thickness comparable to the inner stop member. The outer guide portion contacts its respective stop member when the contained tube is fully upwardly extended.

A method of erecting a court standard and supported net above a gymnasium floor includes the steps of: providing a court standard as described above; elevating the contained tube to a desired height; releasably locking the contained tube at the selected height above the floor; and attaching the net to the court standard. The task of carrying the court standard from storage is eliminated and setup time is substantially reduced.

Various other objects, advantages and features of this invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art from the following description in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

FIGURES OF THE INVENTION

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a retractable telescoping court standard showing a court standard supporting one end portion of a net, in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 2 is a plan view of the retractable telescoping court standard showing a floor plate having a hinged lid, in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 3 is an enlarged cross sectional view of two contained tubes and the upright floor tube for the retractable telescoping court standard, in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a rocker arm mechanism for the retractable telescoping court standard, in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 5 is a partial cross sectional view of the retractable telescoping court standard, in accordance with the present invention; and

FIG. 6 is a disassembled view of the retractable telescoping court standard, in accordance with the present invention.

The following is a discussion and description of the preferred specific embodiments of this invention, such being made with reference to the drawings, wherein the same reference numerals are used to indicate the same or similar parts and/or Structure. It should be noted that such discussion and description is not meant to unduly limit the scope of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Turning now to the drawings, FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of a court standard 20 supporting one end portion of a net 18. Most generally, the court standard 20 for positioning a net 18 above a gymnasium floor 16 comprises: an embedded upright floor tube 22 having a top end portion which is nominally in alignment with the gymnasium floor 16; a contained tube 24 which is closely and slidably positioned within the floor tube 22; and a releasable lock means 26 to maintain the contained tube 24 at a selected height above the floor 16. In one embodiment, there are a plurality of contained tubes 24. Each contained tube 24 is closely and slidably positioned within a tube 24 or 22 therebelow.

A pneumatic supply line 70 supplies pneumatic power from a pneumatic supply to the embedded upright floor tube 22. Thus pneumatic power can be used to raise the contained tube or tubes 24 to the appropriate height. A pneumatic toggle switch 72 is incorporated into the pneumatic supply line 70 to control the flow of pneumatic power into the embedded upright floor tube 22. In one position, the switch 72 permits pneumatic power to flow to the embedded upright floor tube 22. In another position, the switch 72 stops the flow of pneumatic power. In another embodiment, the switch 72 has a third position to release pneumatic pressure from the upright floor tube 22 and the contained tube or tubes 24, to controllably lower the contained tube or tubes 24 into the upright floor tube 22. The switch 72 may be positioned on the floor cover 32 beneath the cover plate 34.

In one embodiment, the court standard 20 further comprises a shock absorbing pad 30 positioned within a bottom portion of the floor tube 22 to cushion the contained tube 24 upon retraction. Most preferably the pad 30 is made of rubber. The releasable lock means 26 is a lockable split collar 28.

FIG. 2 is an enlarged view of the floor cover 32. The plate 34 covers a central opening and is movable, but can be attached with a hinge 36. A pneumatic toggle switch 72 may be incorporated into the floor cover 32 beneath the cover plate 34.

FIG. 3 is an enlarged cross sectional view showing how two contained tubes 24 and the upright floor tube 22 interlock. A top portion of the floor tube 22 and each contained tube 24 has an annular inner stop portion 40. A lower portion of each contained tube has an annular outer guide portion 42 having a thickness comparable to the inner stop member 40. The outer guide portion 42 comes into contact with a respective stop member 40 when the contained tube 24 is fully upwardly extended. The outer guide portion 42 also limits the amount of tilting or sideways deflection of the contained tubes 24. Each of the contained tubes 24 includes a port or aperture 76 to permit pneumatic power to enter each contained tube 24 and lift each of them. Referring back to FIG. 1 the court standard 20 most preferably has a top and innermost cylindrical member 44 with a lower end portion that has an annular outer guide portion 42, like the contained tubes 24, and an upper portion adapted to receive the net 18.

A winch 46 can be releasably attached to a contained tube 24 (see FIG. 1), and a top pulley 48 can be removably attached atop the top and innermost cylindrical member 44. The pulley may also be permanently fixed to the top member 44 to be stored inside the floor tube 22. A net cable 50 is be drawn over the pulley 48 and tightened with the winch 46.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a rocker latch 28 which utilizes a pin 54 in an elliptical hole 56 so that the load is partially carried by the rocker latch 52 rather than entirely by the pin 56. Under a load the bottom of the rocker latch 28 bears against the top edge of the contained tube 24 immediately below and against the recess. The top of the rocker latch 28 bears against its storage recess 74 in the contained tube 24. The releasable lock means 26 on the contained tubes 24 comprises a biased 27 rocker latch 28 configured so that when the contained tube is fully elevated the latch will automatically engage. In another embodiment, there are two opposite rocker latches 28 so that the latches 28 may be squeezed together for release. As stated above, each rocker latch 28 pivots on a pin 54 in the elliptical hole 56 so that the load carried by the contained tube 24 is partially carried by the rocker latch 28 rather than entirely by the pin 54.

FIG. 5 shows a cross-sectional view of the peripheral lip seal 60 to trap air within the inner members 24 to enable pneumatic lifting and air-cushioned retraction of the court standard 24. The standard is able to collapse back into the floor tube 22 when the latches 28 are released. The seal 60 is attached around the perimeter of the annular outer guide 42 portion of the contained tube 24. The seal 60 is flexible to provide a substantially airtight seal. The seal 60 contains the pneumatic power and allows the contained tubes 24 to extend and collapse with minimal friction.

FIG. 6 shows a disassembled view of the contained tubes 24 and the top tube 44 for the retractable telescoping court standard 20. The seal 60 is visible on the annular outer guide 42 portion of each contained tube 24 and top tube 44. In one embodiment, the tubes 24, 44 include an alignment groove 78. The interior of each of the contained tubes 24 and the floor tube 22 include an alignment pin (not shown) that engages the groove 78 in the adjacent contained tube 24 or top tube 44. The grooves 78 prevent the tubes 24, 44 from twisting.

The court standard 20 is easily raised and lowered. The contained tubes 24 are elevated to a desired height, the contained tubes 24 are releasably locked at the selected height above the floor 16; and the net 18 is attached to the court standard 20. This system eliminates the task of carrying the court standard 20 from storage. Many variations on this basic method are possible. For example, pneumatic power may be introduced into the embedded upright floor tube 22. This pneumatic power must be controlled to some degree in order to lift the contained tubes 24 out of the floor tube 22 and each other. Thus a seal 60 is located between each adjacent floor tube 22 and contained tube 24 to keep the pneumatic power inside them.

The releasable locks include a lockable split ring 26 adapted to engage around the top and innermost cylindrical member 44 to maintain the net 18 at an appropriate height. Each contained tube and the upper cylinder 44 includes at least one biased rocker latch 28 which automatically deploys as each contained tube 24 reaches full extension. A plurality of rocker latches 28 can be used on each contained tube 24 and the top tube 44 to more evenly distribute the load.

When the standards 20 are at the proper height, the user can attach a winch 46 to a contained tube 24 and route a net cable 50 over a top pulley 48 at the top of the innermost cylindrical member 44. The other end of the net cable 50 is attached to the standard 20 without the winch. A hook or other releasable means may be used. The net cable 50 is tightened with the winch 46.

The standard 20 is easily stored as well. First, the net cable 50 is loosened and the net 18 removed. The winch 46 is removed. Finally, all of the biased rocker latches 28 are released. As the rocker latches 28 are released, the contained tubes 24 will drop down into the floor tube 22. The seals 60 control the pneumatic power when the contained tubes 24 are lifted, but also slow the descent of the contained tubes 24 to minimize the rate of descent and the risk of damage to the contained tubes 24 or the floor tube 22.

In one embodiment of the invention there are five interlocking contained tubes 24, as well as the innermost cylinder 44. Each of the contained tubes 24 are about two feet in length and can be made from anodized aluminum or other suitable materials. The standards 20 may be covered with pads (not shown) in various school colors.

To install the court standard 20 a 6″ diameter hole is drilled through and beneath the concrete floor 16 to a total depth to permit the top of the floor tube 22 to be flush with the surface of the floor, about 28 ½″. The floor tube 24 which has an outside diameter of about 4 ½″ is then placed into position and set in concrete within the drilled 6″ diameter hole. To retrofit an existing removable standard which is stored off location it is as easy as enlarging the existing hole to the above specified size, and then concreting the floor tube 24 within that enlarged hole.

While the invention has been described with preferred specific embodiments thereof, it will be understood that this description is intended to illustrate and not to limit the scope of the invention, which is defined by the following claims.





 
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