Title:
Helmet holder for a vision device, in particular for a night vision device
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A holder for fixing at least one vision device, in particular a night vision device (2) on a head covering, such as a helmet (5), of a user (1), comprises a support element (7) which can be fixed indirectly or directly to the helmet (5), an arm (8) coordinated with the support element (7), a receptacle (9) for the vision device being arranged so as to be pivotable about the arm (8), with the result that a pivot movement of the vision device between an operating position and a rest position is permitted. A rotating element non-rotatably connected to the receptacle (9) is coordinated with the arm (8), a spring being arranged on the rotating element in a manner such that the receptacle (9) is under spring force both in the operating position and in the rest position. Furthermore, a stop element (13) is provided, by means of which the position of the vision device in the operating position can be set and fixed in a defined manner.



Inventors:
Gruebel, Edwin (Widnau, CH)
Mueller, Wolfgang J. (Lustenau, AT)
Vith, Manfred (Klaus, AT)
Application Number:
11/283175
Publication Date:
05/24/2007
Filing Date:
11/18/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A45B11/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
YOON, JANE SUJIN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MILLER, CANFIELD, PADDOCK AND STONE (KALAMAZOO, MI, US)
Claims:
1. A holder for fixing at least one vision device, in particular a night vision device (2), on a head covering, such as a helmet (5), of a user (1), comprising a support element (7) which can be fixed indirectly or directly to the helmet (5) an arm (8) coordinated with the support element (7), a receptacle (9) for the vision device being arranged so as to be pivotable about the arm (8), thus permitting a pivot movement of the vision device between an operating position and a rest position, wherein a rotating element (20) non-rotatably connected to the receptacle (9) is coordinated with the arm (8), a spring (18) being arranged on the rotating element (20) in a manner such that the receptacle (9) is under spring force both in the operating position and in the rest position.

2. The holder as claimed in claim 1, comprising a stop element (13) by means of which the position of the vision device can be set and fixed in a defined manner in the operating position.

3. The holder as claimed in claim 1 or 2, wherein the spring (18) is fixed at one end to the rotating element (20) eccentrically relative to an axis (20c) of rotation about which the pivot movement takes place.

4. The holder as claimed in any of the preceding claims wherein the spring is in the form of a tension, pressure or leg spring.

5. The holder as claimed in claim 3 or 4, wherein a link-like engaging surface (46) for the spring (18) is provided on the rotating element.

6. The holder for fixing at least one vision device, in particular a night vision device (2), on a head covering, such as a helmet (5), of a user (1), comprising a support element (7) which can be fixed indirectly or directly to the helmet (5) an arm (8) coordinated with the support element (7), a receptacle (9) for the vision device being arranged so as to be pivotable about the arm (8), thus permitting a pivot movement of the vision device between an operating position and a rest position, in particular as claimed in any of the preceding claims, wherein the rotating element (20) non-rotatably connected to the receptacle (9) is coordinated with the arm (8), a damping element (28, 47, 48) being coordinated with the rotating element (20) in a manner such that, on movement of the vision device—at least on movement from the rest position to the operating position—the speed of movement is reduced at least over a partial range of the movement.

7. The holder as claimed in claim 6, wherein the damping element, preferably in the form of a linear damper (47), is fixed at one end to the rotating element (20) eccentrically relative to an axis (20c) of rotation about which the pivot movement takes place.

8. The holder as claimed in claim 7, wherein the damping element is in the form of a pneumatic spring, pneumatic cylinder or hydraulic shock absorber.

9. The holder as claimed in claim 6, wherein the damping element (48) can be brought into operative connection with a limiting stop (50) corresponding to at least one end position of the movement of the vision device, the limiting stop (50) being arranged on the rotating element (20) eccentrically relative to an axis (20c) of rotation about which the pivot movement takes place.

10. The holder as claimed in any of the preceding claims, wherein the arm (8) is arranged displaceably in the support element (7) and can be detachably fixed at any desired selectable position.

11. The holder as claimed in a ny of the preceding claims, wherein the support element (7) is provided for holding two vision devices.

12. The holder as claimed in any of the preceding claims, wherein the receptacle (9) for the vision device has a first adjusting element (10) for vertical positioning of the vision device relative to the position of the eye of the user (1) wearing the helmet (5) and in particular a second adjusting element (11) for the horizontal positioning of the vision device relative to the position of the eye of the user (1) wearing the helmet (5).

13. The holder as claimed in claim 12, wherein the first adjusting element (10) is in the form of a slide—in particular a U-shaped slide—which is movable—in particular within the receptacle (9)—and can be fixed in any desired position.

14. The holder as claimed in claim 13, wherein the second adjusting element (11) is in the form of a slide which is movable—in particular movable within the first adjusting element (11)—and can be fixed in any desired position.

15. The holder as claimed in any of claims 12 to 14, wherein a coupling part (23) for the detachable fixing of the vision device is provided on one of the two adjusting elements (10, 11), preferably on the second adjusting element (11).

Description:

The invention relates to a helmet holder for a vision device, in particular for a night vision device, according to the preamble of claim 1.

Various vision devices, for example night vision or thermal imaging devices, are used for very specific applications by military, police and border protection forces in order to be able to carry out operation under poor visual or light conditions or in darkness. Night vision devices, for example, amplify the low light level and produce an image visible to the human eye.

Night vision devices, like binoculars, can be used independently and manually. They are used—like binoculars—as a binocular version having separate eyepieces for each eye or as a monocular version having only one eyepiece.

In most cases, for example in military or police use, it is necessary for the user to have his hands free and for the vision device, for example a night vision device, to be fixed on the wearer's head, for example to be fastened to a head covering, preferably a helmet.

Depending on light conditions, the night vision device is used in an operating position in front of the user's eye or in a rest position in which the night vision device is held outside the field of vision of the user. For adaptation to the different head shapes and eye positions of the user, it is necessary to have adjustment mechanisms which enable the user to carry out adaptation to his personal needs.

In many applications, the user needs to obtain a constantly steady image, even in the case of extreme physical movements, such as running or jumping, or in the case of vibrations during driving; the eyepiece of the vision device should be capable of executing only a minimum relative movement. In other applications, the user is dependent on the night vision device being held in a position very close to the head, both in the operating position and in the rest position, and not projecting substantially beyond the user's head either in the horizontal direction or in particular in a vertical direction.

Simple helmet fixing means are known, for example from U.S. Pat. No. 4,457,461, which however have no possibility of enabling the night vision device to be removed from the field of vision under adequate light conditions without having to remove it by an inconvenient procedure.

For eliminating this deficiency, systems having pivot mechanisms are being constructed. An exemplary embodiment of this type is disclosed in DE-69321234. In the system described there, the night vision device is fixed by means of a connecting piece to a slide which is fixed by means of a pivot fitting to the fitting fixed to the head covering by a strut, in a manner so as to be rotatable about a pivot axis. The fixing of the operating and rest position is effected by a spring-loaded catch apparatus.

What proves to be disadvantageous in such arrangements is that the strut having an axel shaft forms an axis of rotation above the front helmet edge, with the result that, in the rest position, the night vision device projects very considerably beyond the body height of the user. Because of this circumstance, there is a considerable danger of damage when passing through door frames or other obstacles limiting the height of passage, and furthermore use in low rooms, such as in vehicle cabins, is greatly restricted.

In order to obtain a mounting which permits good movement about the pivot axis, a certain play is required between the components, and this is equally necessary for protection from jamming between the components of spring-loaded catch apparatuses. In summary, this results, in the locked positions, chiefly in the operating position of the vision device, to a greater extent owing to the long lever arm of the eyepiece relatively far away from the pivot axis, in an instability in the region of a few tenths of a millimeter. During fast running or in the event of vibrations, there is a relative movement between the user's eye and the eyepiece owing to inertia, which leads to an unstable image.

A further disadvantage is that the locking springs exert the spring force only in the immediate region of the operating and rest position and there is no compensation of the weight of the night vision device. In the event of sudden release of the locking in the rest position due to external effects, such as impact or during jumping, the night vision device may fall through its own weight with possibly great speed from the rest position into the operating position, which can lead to irritation and shock for the user and, if the helmet fits loosely, even to eye injuries.

In order to overcome the disadvantage of the prior art, an object of the present invention is to provide a holder for a vision device so that the vision device, in particular night vision device, is held in such a way that—during any use—a steady image which is as free of vibration as possible is obtained. Furthermore, or alternatively, a compact arrangement of the vision device should be possible both in the rest position and in the operating position. Furthermore, or alternatively, the vision device should remain held as reliably as possible in the rest position—even under impact-like effects—so that unintended, sudden swivelling of the vision device into the operating position, which may startle the user, is avoidable. Furthermore, or alternatively, in particular abrupt movements of the vision device, at least those from the rest position to the operating position should be damped.

This object is achieved by a holder for a vision device, in which the defining features of the independent claims are realized. Alternative or advantageous developments are described by the defining clauses of the dependent claims.

According to the invention, freedom from play of the holder—vision device system is ensured by the installation, the arrangement and the design of a spring-mechanism. The possible plays are pretensioned by spring force so that no plays become effective until this force has been overcome, since the interlocking of all parts due to the gaps between the individual components being closed under pressure of the spring force is completely retained.

If a damping element is co-ordinated with the rotating element which is arranged on the arm and is non-rotatably connected to the receptacle for the vision device, on movement of the vision device—at least on movement from the rest position to the operating position—its speed of movement is reduced at least over a partial range of the movement. Thus, shock or irritation or even possibly injuries to the user owing to uncontrolled hasty handling of the vision device or owing to unintentional swivelling of the device caused by external effects are avoidable. The movement takes place slowly and in a damped manner without the user being emotionally or physically impaired.

Such damping elements are provided according to the invention in particular in combination with the spring mechanism, substantially in a parallel position, but may also advantageously be used by themselves alone in known holders, specifically damping such abrupt movements of vision devices from a certain position—generally the rest position—to another position—generally the operating position.

The spring mechanism is furthermore dimensioned so that at least partial compensation of the weight of all moving parts occurs.

In order to limit the pivot movement and hence to fix the end operating position of the vision device in front of the user's eye, a stop element is provided, by adjustment of which the horizontal distance of the eyepiece of the vision device from the user's eye can be adjusted in a certain range.

The adjusting elements by means of which the position of the vision device relative to the position of the eye of a user wearing the helmet can be established are formed in such a way that the projection of parts of the vision device beyond the head height in the rest position is minimized. This is achieved by nesting of the elements effecting the vertical and horizontal adjustment.

Below, the invention is described in more detail purely by way of example with reference to an embodiment.

FIG. 1: shows a helmet mounted on a user's head and comprising a holder according to the invention which supports a monocular night vision device; the night vision device is present in the operating position in front of the user's eye;

FIG. 2: shows a diagram corresponding to FIG. 1; the night vision device is swivelled upward away from the user's eye and is in the rest position;

FIG. 3: shows a view of the holder in the operating position from obliquely below (as seen by the user);

FIG. 4: shows a view, corresponding to FIG. 3, of the holder in the operating position from obliquely above (as seen by the user);

FIG. 5: shows a sectional view of the holder in the operating position;

FIG. 6: shows a sectional view of the holder in the rest position;

FIG. 7: shows a detailed section corresponding to FIG. 6;

FIG. 8: shows a sectional view perpendicular to FIG. 5;

FIG. 9: shows a schematic side view of the holder with indicated helmet and head of the user;

FIG. 10 to 13: show developments of spring mechanisms;

FIG. 14 and 15: show developments for damping elements.

FIG. 1 and FIG. 2 show a holder according to the invention for a vision device, here purely by way of example a monocular night vision device 2, which is arranged on a head covering of a user 1, which head covering is in the form of a helmet 5. In FIG. 1, the night vision device 2 is positioned in the operating position with the eyepiece 3 of the night vision device 2 in front of the eye of the user 1; in FIG. 2 it is shown in the rest position, swivelled away from the field of view of the user 1. A plate-like support element 7 having hook-like retaining brackets 16a is held on the edge of the helmet 5 and is connected via a tensioning strap 6 to an accessory unit 34 which is intended for holding, for example, batteries, interfaces and/or control units and which in turn is fixed to the helmet 5 by hook-like retaining brackets 16b. The fixation by tensioning of the tensioning strap 6 is effected in the accessory unit 34 and is not described in more detail here.

An arm 8 which a clamping screw for the lateral adjustment 14 fixes in the position desired by the user 1 is inserted in a laterally displaceable manner in a transverse groove 35 provided on the support element 7. The position of the arm 8 can be optionally fixed—as shown here—over the right eye or, alternatively in a second retained position 32, over the left eye. The use of two arms 8 having a pivot mechanism 43 and adjusting elements 10, 11 for the use of two night vision devices 2 is also possible. It will also be possible to provide a single arm arranged in the middle of the transverse groove for holding a binocular vision device.

The arm 8 supports a rotatably mounted receptacle 9 to which the night vision device 2 can be coupled. The first adjusting element 10 which is vertically adjustable in the operating position, permits the vertical positioning of the night vision device 2 relative to the position of the eye of the user 1 wearing the helmet 5 and furthermore a second adjusting element 11 for the horizontal positioning of the night vision device 2 relative to the position of the eye of the user 1 are displaceably inserted into the receptacle 9. Both adjusting elements 10, 11 are fixed in the position desired by the user by means of clamping screws 15 which project through slots 26 (cf. FIG. 9) in the first adjusting element 10 and slots 25 (cf. FIG. 8) in the second adjusting element 11 and are each locked by means of a nut 27(cf. FIG. 8).

The night vision device 2 is detachably fixed to the second adjusting element 11 by means of a push button 12.

The night vision device 2 shown here by way of example, substantially comprises a base body 39 comprising a low light level amplifier, an objective 4 and an eyepiece 3.

FIG. 2 shows the slight projection 36 of the night vision device 2 beyond the helmet 5 in the rest position. Although this may be due on the one hand to the exemplary advantageous folding of the optical assembly of the night vision device shown by way of example in FIG. 1 and 2, it is on the other hand—according to the invention—expedient for any—including conventional—vision device owing to the compact combined arrangement of the two adjusting elements 10, 11 with the pivot mechanism 43.

FIG. 3 shows the support element 7 with the retaining brackets 16a and spacers 37, which define the support of the support element 7 relative to the helmet, which is not shown in this diagram. For inner covering and optionally stiffening of the support element 7, a protective covering 17 is provided. The two adjusting elements 10, 11 with their nesting arrangement within the receptacle 9 are clearly visible. The night vision device 2 can be coupled to/in a receptacle part 38 provided on the second adjusting element 11 and having a coupling part 23 which is intended to ensure the mechanical and electrical connection of the night vision device 2 to the holder.

FIG. 4 shows the arrangement of a stop element 13 which limits the pivot movement of the receptacle 9 about the arm 8. The stop element 13 is arranged on the support element 7, in the form of a bolt adjustable in height. The lower end 13a of the stop element 13, which end is directed from the holder 13b of the stop element 13 towards the receptacle 9 will, depending on extension, determine the pivoting end position of the receptacle 9 in the operating position, as described in more detail further below.

FIG. 5 and FIG. 6 show a section through parts of the helmet holder, FIG. 5 showing the operating position and FIG. 6 the rest position. A bolt 19 which is surrounded by an eye on that end of a tension spring 18 which faces the support element 7 is arranged in the arm 8. A further eye at that end of the tension spring 18 which faces away therefrom surrounds a bolt-like lug 20a, arranged eccentrically on a rotating element 20. The rotating element 20 is non-rotatably connected to the receptacle 9. In the operating position, the tension of the tension spring 18 exerts a torque on the rotating element 20 and hence on the receptacle 9, with the result that the night vision device 2 (not shown here) is pressed against the user's head. The distance moved is limited by the stop which is formed by the stop element 13 for the receptacle 9 (FIG. 4 and FIG. 9). By—for example—rotational adjustment of the stop element 13 in its holder 13b—having, for example a thread—the length of the end 13aprojecting from the holder 13b is changed, and hence the end position of the receptacle 9 in the operating position is determined. As a result, not only is there limitation of the pivoting distance from the rest position provided but at the same time a position of the eyepiece of the vision device slightly tilted in the horizontal direction relative to the user's eye can also be set.

All plays in the region of the bearing 33a, 33b, 33c (FIG. 8) about the axis 20c of rotation are pretensioned by the spring force of the tension spring 18, with the result that the plays are virtually undetectable even when the user experiences vibrations. If the night vision device is moved upward to the rest position, the spring 18 is tensioned. In the region of the rest position, as a result of the tension of the spring 18 and the eccentric arrangement of the bolt lug 20a on the rotating element 20, the latter is moved toward the rest position and is held in this position. The rest position is likewise defined by a stop, in the example shown between second adjusting element 11 and clamping screw for the lateral adjustment 14. A suitable design of the eccentric on the rotating element 20 and of the spring force is capable of compensating at least a part of the weight of the night vision device.

FIG. 5 shows the bush 23 which is inserted in the second adjusting element 11 determining the horizontal alignment of the vision device and which can be locked and unlocked by the push button 12, and a pressure spring 22 (FIG. 6) which presses the push button 12 to a rest position.

FIG. 5 shows the guidance of the first adjusting element 10 which effects the height adjustment of the vision device in grooves 24 in the receptacle 9 and the guidance of the first adjusting element in guides 40 which are provided in the first adjusting element 10.

A transverse stiffening means 51 is arranged between the jaws of the first adjusting element 10, with the result that both a stiffening function and a protection function against possible penetration of dirt are provided when the first adjusting element 10 is moved downward. A bush 23 is provided for the electrical and mechanical connection to the vision device to be docked.

FIG. 7 shows a greatly magnified sectional image in the region of the arrangement of the tension spring 18 and shows the torque variation during the movement between operating position and rest position. The direction of the torque is indicated by arrow A in the region of the operating position, by arrow R in the region of the rest position and by the double-headed arrow N in the neutral region.

FIG. 8 shows a section through the receptacle 9 from the front in the plane of the pivot axis. The receptacle 9 is rotatably mounted by means of bearings 33a, 33b, 33c on the arm 8. These bearings are mounted in an advantageous manner for the smallest possible load during operation with vibrations over a large area and over a large diameter. A sliding bearing 31 is used for permitting mounting. The rotating element 20 with the bolt-like lug 20a is rotatably mounted in the arm 8 and non-rotatably connected to the receptacle 9. Thus, the torque generated by the tension spring 18 is transmitted to the receptacle 9, with the result that the torque variation shown in FIG. 7 is produced. The respective extensive angular distances in which the torque is effective mean that the night vision device springs back into the previous position in the event of unintentional actuation, such as, for example, by impact.

In a further embodiment, a damping element is used, shown here by way of example as hydraulic rotary damper 28. The force transmission takes place firstly from the arm 8 via a driver 29 to the outside of the damping element and secondly from the receptacle 9 via a cam 41 to the end face of the rotary damper 28. As a result of the dynamic torque resistance of the rotary damper 28, the speed of movement on changing the position of the night vision device 2 from the rest position to the operating position is reduced in order to avoid irritating and startling the user.

For protection from soiling, the arm 8 and the receptacle 9 are closed all round. In order to permit and/or simplify the mounting, openings are closed by one or more covers, for example a cover 21 for the arm 8 (cf. FIG. 6) and a cover 30 coordinated with the rotating element 20.

FIG. 9 shows the adjusting mode of action of the stop element 13. This control element is screwed into the holder 13b arranged on the arm 8 and can be rotated by the user to cover a stop adjustment distance 42. By screwing this stop element 13 in or out, the receptacle 9 which supports the eyepiece 3 of the night vision device 2, shown in FIG. 1, is turned slightly in the operating position, with the result that the distance from the eye to the eyepiece is changed. This makes it possible for the user to carry out a fine correction of the eyepiece position in a very simple manner even with one hand.

FIG. 10 shows, in a further embodiment, the alternative use of a pressure spring 18a instead of the above-described tension spring, which is mounted between the bolt 19 and the bolt lug 20a of the rotating element 20 on suitable support apparatuses 49a and 49b and generates the torques according to FIG. 7.

FIG. 11 shows, in a further embodiment, the alternative use of a leg spring 18b, which acts via the legs between a stop or bolt 19 and the bolt lug 20a of the rotating element 20 and generates the torques according to FIG. 7.

FIG. 12 shows, in a further embodiment, the alternative use of a cup spring assembly 18c, which is mounted between the bolt 19 and the bolt lug 20a of the turntable 20 on support apparatuses 49c and 49d and generates the torques according to FIG. 7.

FIG. 13 shows, in a further, alternative embodiment, a bolt lug 20b, formed here by way of example with a link-like engaging surface 46 for the spring 18. Consequently, the variation of the torque and the compensation of the weight of the vision device can be adapted to different weights and centers of gravity in an advantageous manner.

FIG. 14 shows a further embodiment comprising a damping element in the form of a linear damper 47. As a result, the speed is reduced in at least one direction of movement of the vision device. The linear damper may be in the form of a pneumatic spring, a pneumatic cylinder or a hydraulic shock absorber. The damping element may be provided in addition to the spring, in a plane substantially parallel to the arrangement of one of the springs 18 to 18c described above.

FIG. 15 shows, in a further embodiment, a damping element in the form of an end position damper 48, with the result that the speed of the vision device is reduced at least in one direction of movement at the end position. The end position damper may be in the form of a buffer of resilient material. If this damping element is provided in addition to the spring, it is present in a plane substantially parallel to a plane determined by the arrangement of the springs 18 to 18c.





 
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