Title:
Umbrella system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An operating mechanism for “patio type” umbrellas uses an actuator sleeve in order to open and close the canopy. The sleeve is in connection with rods on the canopy that in turn can open and close the canopy. The actuator sleeve is guided by two fixed supports, the outer and inner sleeve that form a channel. The actuator sleeve can travel within the channel is limited in travel via a slot on the actuator sleeve that interacts with a bolt on the inner sleeve. Movement of the actuator sleeve upward will the inner ribs downward so as to close the canopy. Movement of the actuator sleeve downward will pull the ribs away from the central shaft and hence open the canopy. The latch is used to lock the actuator sleeve in position vis a vis the inner sleeve.



Inventors:
Wilson, Robert Joe (Athens, GA, US)
Application Number:
11/030089
Publication Date:
07/13/2006
Filing Date:
01/07/2005
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
135/20.3, 135/98, 108/50.12
International Classes:
A45B25/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20080115815See Through Umbrella "STU"May, 2008Awni
20020069904Odor-inhibiting enclosureJune, 2002Robinson
20060169311Height adjustment structure for a canopyAugust, 2006Hwang
20010050097Outdoor umbrella coverDecember, 2001Fazel
20080087310Walking stick umbrellaApril, 2008Dahinden



Primary Examiner:
YIP, WINNIE S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Robert Joe Wilson (Athens, GA, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. An improved patio canopy apparatus comprising: a first and second upright support means, said first upright support means of a hollow section and able to accommodate said second upright support means so as to form a hollow section between said first and second upright support means, said first upright support means in connection with a table and said first upright support means extending from said table to a distance below said table, and said second upright support means extending above said table, an actuator sleeve having a top and a bottom portion and of size able to fit inside said hollow section and fixed for sliding up and down within said hollow section and for sliding on the outside of said second upright support means, a canopy of size sufficient to cover said table and having a series of struts extending from the edges of said canopy and converging upon a centralized point, said top portion of said actuator sleeve in connection with said centralized point, a plurality of ribs; each of said ribs in connection with one of said struts and said ribs extending from said struts to a circular shaped yoke, said yoke fixed upon said second support means via a bolt means, said bolt in connection with said yolk and said second upright support means, said actuator sleeve having a slot suitable to slide over said bolt means when said actuator sleeve moves up and down, a means for engaging said actuator sleeve and fixing said sleeve into position vis a vis said second upright means, said engagement means in connection with said second upright means and positioned upon said means so that when said actuator sleeve is moved downward to fully deploy said canopy over said table, said sleeve will engage said engagement means and said sleeve will be fixed into position.

Description:

FIELD AND BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to the field of umbrellas and, in particular, to those umbrellas used to cover tables and the like in outdoor settings. Typically such larger canopies are used to cover those tables in patios for restaurants and the like. Such canopies are typically significantly larger than ordinary hand held umbrellas and greater force is needed to operate them. The actuator sleeve shown and described herein is believed to work well in such applications that call for large canopies.

It is believed that the invention will find its greatest use in opening and closing “patio” type canopies which are very popular in restaurants that feature and outdoor settings. Such umbrellas have large canopies that are typically much larger than ordinary hand held umbrellas. Such patio umbrellas of course have larger components: longer length support ribs, larger canopy, larger shafts, etc. Most such canopies use a manual crank in order to open and close the canopy. This requires a greater force for the user to turn the crank and also places additional strain on the cables associated with the mechanism. As the crank turns, the cord or cable is wound upon a drum or similar mechanism, this means that as the cable is wound, the radius of the cable on the drum increases and the drum becomes harder to turn near the end of the cranking. This may result in damage or breaking the cable and also requires greater force for the one using the crank. There is also the possibility of binding the cable when using a crank mechanism.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

An operating mechanism for “patio type” canopies or umbrellas that uses an actuator sleeve that slides in between two sleeves that act as fixed support apparatus. The actuator sleeve moves ribs that can open and close the canopy. There are two fixed uprights that are hollow in order to allow the actuator sleeve to travel within this space.

The actuator is connected to the “hub” that is a connecting point for the ribs of the canopy. The ribs are connected to fabric or some such that provides the shading effect of the canopy. Movement of the actuator sleeve upward will drive the ribs downward and the lift actuators upward so as to close the canopy. Movement of the actuator sleeve downward will pull the ribs away from the inner sleeve and hence open the canopy. The latch will need to be used when the canopy is opened in order to fix it in place. Both of these movements are made easier by lift actuators of relatively short length that connect the ribs to the main shaft and pivot throughout the movement. Because of the short length of the ribs combined with the weight of the canopy itself, it is believed that this invention makes such large, “patio type” umbrellas easier to open and close using this sleeve apparatus.

It is an object of the invention to provide an actuator means for larger canopies used in patio and other outdoor settings that has a reduced length of travel for the actuating parts in order to reduce the amount of vertical clearance needed for such applications.

Another object of the invention is to provide an actuating means for canopies that travels on the outside of the fixed support structure and thus provides for a more effective means for opening and closing such canopies.

It is an object of the invention to provide an opening and closing system for larger type canopies that is easy to use and easy to manufacture based upon fewer moving parts and using the weight of the canopy to do part of the work.

Other objectives of the invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art once the invention has been shown and described.

DESCRIPTION OF FIGURES

FIG. 1 overall construction of the system with canopy deployed;

FIG. 2 view with canopy closed; most or all of the slot extends above the bolt;

FIG. 3 detail of actuator sleeve;

FIG. 4 detail of outer sleeve and base.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The overall construction of the canopy deployment system is shown in FIG. 1. There are two upright supports that are fixed in place, 1 and 3. The upright 3 is referred to as the “outer sleeve” and is fixed in connection to a table 10 and extends all the way to the ground. Inner sleeve 1 is rigidly connected to the inside of upright 3 and a channel is formed between these two structures. The channel is formed between the outer wall of rod 1 and the inside of the wall of outer sleeve 3 and so the channel begins at the top of the outersleeve (designated as 40 in FIG. 1) and extends to almost near the bottom of the outer sleeve, or near 15 in FIG. 1.

This channel will then accommodate the sliding actuator sleeve (5 and 2) that controls the opening and closing action of the canopy (canopy includes ribs 12 as well as actuator rods 14 as well as fabric, not shown, in connection with ribs). The inner sleeve 1 thus extends down through the outer sleeve and is connected to that support at a point 15 somewhere near the bottom of the outer sleeve. Whereas the outer sleeve extends upward only to the level of the table 10, the inner sleeve will extend far above the table in order support the yoke 24 and the accompanying hardware that forms the canopy.

In FIG. 1, the inner sleeve cannot be seen other than that part, the yoke, 24 which is in connection with the top of the inner sleeve. The actuator sleeve can be seen as 5 and a portion of the same actuator sleeve can be seen as 2. That portion being above the yoke 24. The channel or slot 26 would be seen on the outside of the actuator sleeve.

The actuator sleeve 5 is not connected rigidly to these static supports (outer and inner sleeve) at all but merely slides within the channel formed inside the two supports. The movement of the actuator is limited by the channel interaction with the bolt. When the end of the channel or the bottom of the channel abuts that bolt 42 on the yoke, the travel will be stopped. When pulling the actuator downward, the top of the slot will abut the botl and when pulling the actuator upward the bottom of the slot will abut the bolt and cause movements to stop.

The actuator sleeve is connected to the central hub 22 of the canopy, that hub that is in connection with those ribs 12 that support the canopy. The construction is very similar to that of an umbrella where there are spokes or struts extending outward from a central hub and these serve as a support for the fabric of the umbrella. The canopy may be constructed to operate in the same or in a similar way.

Thus the actuator sleeve is free to travel within the channel and can be fixed into position when the latch 20 is used to secure the position of the sleeve vis a vis that of the fixed supports (1 and 3). Normally, the actuator sleeve will be free to travel and the weight of the canopy itself will be the only force that is acting upon it.

The sleeve 3 thus moves over the upright rod 1 and this will control the opening and closing of the canopy through the movement of the ribs 12 and lift actuators 14 (see FIG. 2). Moving the sleeve upward will force those ribs 12 downward forcing the canopy that is connected to the struts downward and flush against the upright 1. Thus moving the sleeve up will close the canopy, see FIG. 2. Likewise, moving the sleeve down will open the canopy as this will force the struts 12 to move upward and away from the upright 1 and thus forcing the canopy to open. See FIG. 1.

To guide the movements of this actuator sleeve there is a yoke 24 that is also in connection to the lift actuators 14 of the canopy. This yoke is in connection with these lift actuators and of course guides the opening and closing of the actuator sleeve. The yoke is fixed, rigidly to the inner sleeve 1 via a bolt 42 (or similar means for securing the yoke to an upright) that extends through the slot 26 in the actuator sleeve and into the inner sleeve 1.

Thus, to close the canopy: when the canopy is open, and the actuator sleeve 5/2 is moved up, this will force the canopy closed as the struts 12 and arms 14 will begin to align them selves parallel to the upright 1. Since the yoke is fixed in place this will happen by the upward movement of the sleeve 5/2.

To open the canopy: the downward movement of the sleeve 2 (when the canopy is closed) will force the lift actuators 14 and the ribs 12 to pivot in relation to each other and the canopy will be forced outward from the upright. The latch will be used to secure the canopy in this position.

There must be a slot or channel 26 in the actuator sleeve in order for the bolt to secure the actuator sleeve to the upright 1. Otherwise there would be nowhere for the actuator sleeve to move since it would butt up against the bolt. Hence, the use of the slot 26 in order to permit the travel of the actuator sleeve upward and downward until it abuts the bolt.

As mentioned above, the actuator sleeve is freely movable within the tubular shaped gap inside the uprights 1 and 3. When the canopy is closed, the sleeve will be in an upward position and the weight of the canopy will tend to hold the sleeve in this upwardly advanced position. See FIG. 2 where the slot can be seen above the bolt. Note, it is not necessary to secure the canopy via the latch when in this position. However, the invention will need to have a securing means, such as a latch, for the open position.

The latch 20 is designed so that it will engage a portion of the actuator sleeve when the sleeve is moved downward. The latch should be connected to the outside of the actuator sleeve. The latch may have for instance a plunger that is spring loaded and extends through holes in the actuator sleeve and the inner sleeve 1. There may be holes 30 in the actuator sleeve and holes 31 in the inner sleeve in order to allow the plunger or similar locking means of the latch to travel into these holes and secure the position of the actuator sleeve vis a vis the inner sleeve.

The plunger on the latch will interact with the holes in the actuator sleeve and inner sleeve once the actuator sleeve is lowered down. Obviously, the position of the latch vis a vis the inner sleeve must be chosen so that it will engage the holes only when the canopy has been fully deployed during the downward movement of the actuator. During the downward movement, the engagement means will come into contact with the aforementioned holes and thus the actuator sleeve will be secured into position vis a vis the uprights with the canopy in the deployed position.

The latch may be chosen of any type of construction that will fit this application. It is only necessary that this latch be a means for securing the position of the actuator sleeve vis a vis the inner sleeve when the canopy has been opened. It should be strong enough to support the weight of the canopy and sleeve, etc. and should be able to lock it into position once the engaging means has contacted the appropriate holes or some such. Presumably there are many state of the art devices that would achieve this goal.

A base shown in FIG. 4 maybe used in connection with the outer sleeve in order to provide a solid and level footing for the overall system. There may be a rod with groves 32 that extends downward from the outer sleeve and can be screwed into the threaded hole 33 in the center of the base. Similar apparatus may be used to provide overall support and stability to the working parts of the invention.