Title:
POWER STRIP FOR STORAGE CONTAINERS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A storage container and power strip assembly is described in which the storage container has an opening that provides access between an interior and an exterior of the storage container. The storage container further has a cover attached to the storage container and positioned to cover the opening. The power strip has a cord attached thereto, and a fastener is associated with one or both of the storage container and the power strip and configured to position and fasten the power strip within the interior of the storage container, and allow extension of the cord through the opening.



Inventors:
Rakosky, Terry (Ellicott City, MD, US)
Zlatin, Taryn E. (Baltimore, MD, US)
Application Number:
11/846763
Publication Date:
03/06/2008
Filing Date:
08/29/2007
Assignee:
Black & Decker Inc. (Newark, DE, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D77/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CHEUNG, CHUN HOI
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BRAKE HUGHES BELLERMANN LLP (Middletown, MD, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An apparatus comprising: a storage container having an opening that provides access between an interior and an exterior of the storage container, and having a cover attached to the storage container and positioned to cover the opening; a power strip having a cord attached thereto; and a fastener associated with one or both of the storage container and the power strip, the fastener configured to position and fasten the power strip within the interior of the storage container and allow extension of the cord through the opening.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the cord and power strip are of a size to fit through the opening and not to fit through the opening, respectively.

3. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the storage container comprises a top surface, a bottom surface, and side surfaces, and wherein the opening is formed in one of the side surfaces.

4. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the cover is attached to the exterior of the storage container and is secured from the interior of the storage container so as to be opened only with access to the interior of the storage container.

5. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the cover is configured to close over the opening and provide a weather-resistant seal therewith.

6. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the fastener is configured to fasten and position the power strip to an interior surface of the storage container.

7. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the fastener is configured to provide detachment and re-attachment of the power strip at different locations within the interior of the storage container.

8. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the fastener includes a backing of the power strip that is detachable from the power strip.

9. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the fastener includes a first fastener at an attachment point within the interior of the storage container and a second fastener connected between the attachment point and the power strip, the second fastener configured to constrain a mounting location of the power strip within the storage container and relative to the attachment point.

10. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the fastener includes a magnetic backing of the power strip that is attachable to a metallic surface within the interior of the storage container.

11. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the fastener includes a mount that is attached to the interior of the storage container and that joins with the power strip to position the power strip within the interior of the storage container.

12. The apparatus of claim 1 comprising a battery charging station that is mountable within the storage container within a proximity of the power strip.

13. The apparatus of claim 12 wherein the battery charging station is integrated with the power strip.

14. An apparatus comprising: a storage container having an opening; a cover associated with the storage container and configured to cover the opening; and a fastener attached to one or both of the storage container and a power strip, and configured to fasten and position the power strip within the storage container and allow extension of a cord of the power strip through the opening.

15. The apparatus of claim 14 wherein the fastener is configured to provide detachment and re-attachment of the power strip at different locations within the interior of the storage container.

16. The apparatus of claim 14 wherein the fastener includes a magnetic backing that is attachable to the power strip and to a metallic surface within the storage container.

17. The apparatus of claim 14 wherein the fastener includes a mount that is attached to an interior of the storage container and that joins with the power strip to position the power strip within the interior of the storage container.

18. The apparatus of claim 14 comprising a battery charging station that is mountable within the storage container within a proximity of the power strip, when the power strip is positioned with the fastener.

19. A method comprising: providing an opening within a storage container that provides access between an interior and an exterior of the storage container; providing a cover associated with the storage container and configured to cover the opening; providing an attachment point within the storage container for receiving a fastener attachable to one or both of the storage container and a power strip, the fastener configured to position the power strip within the interior of the storage container.

20. The method of claim 19 wherein providing the opening comprises: providing the opening sized to pass a cord of the power strip between an interior and exterior of the storage container, without allowing the power strip to pass therethrough.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. §119(e) to Provisional Patent Application 60/840,815, filed Aug. 29, 2006, titled “POWER STRIP FOR STORAGE CONTAINERS,” which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

TECHNICAL FIELD

This description relates to storage containers.

BACKGROUND

Many different types of storage containers are used to safeguard or otherwise maintain various types of items or possessions. For example, jobsite storage boxes are types of storage containers that may be used, for example, at a construction site or other jobsite, so that workers at the site may store tools, construction materials, or other building materials. Accordingly, such tools or materials may safely be left onsite, thereby minimizing a required movement or transportation thereof, and providing a convenience to the workers.

Of course, many other types of storage containers exist, as well. For example, such storage containers may include various types of chests, boxes, or cabinets, which may range in size, for example, from the handheld to the size of a shed. Such storage containers may include various features, such as, for example, shelving, hinged lids or doors, or casters (or other type of wheels).

SUMMARY

According to one general aspect, an apparatus includes a storage container having an opening that provides access between an interior and an exterior of the storage container, and having a cover attached to the storage container and positioned to cover the opening. The apparatus further includes a power strip having a cord attached thereto, and a fastener associated with one or both of the storage container and the power strip, the fastener configured to position and fasten the power strip within the interior of the storage container and allow extension of the cord through the opening.

According to another general aspect, an apparatus includes a storage container having an opening, a cover associated with the storage container and configured to cover the opening, and a fastener attached to one or both of the storage container and a power strip, and configured to fasten and position the power strip within the storage container and allow extension of a cord of the power strip through the opening.

According to another general aspect, an opening is provided within a storage container that provides access between an interior and an exterior of the storage container. A cover associated with the storage container and configured to cover the opening is provided, and an attachment point is provided within the storage container for receiving a fastener attachable to one or both of the storage container and a power strip, where the fastener is configured to position the power strip within the interior of the storage container.

The details of one or more implementations are set forth in the accompanying drawings and the description below. Other features will be apparent from the description and drawings, and from the claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a first implementation of a storage container with power strip assembly.

FIG. 2 is a flowchart illustrating operations associated with the manufacture or production of the assembly of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a more detailed illustration of the storage container and power strip assembly of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of an alternate implementation of the storage container and power strip assembly of FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of another alternate implementation of the storage container and power strip assembly of FIG. 1.

FIG. 6 is a perspective side view of the storage container and power strip assembly of FIG. 1.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a flanged outlet for use with the storage container and power strip assembly of FIG. 1.

FIG. 8A is an illustration of a weather-resistant cover for use with the storage container and power strip assembly of FIG. 1.

FIG. 8B is an alternate implementation of the flanged outlet of FIG. 7.

FIG. 8C is an illustration of a cordset for use with the flanged outlet(s) of FIGS. 7 and/or 8B.

FIG. 9 is a perspective exterior view of the storage container of FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a first implementation of a storage container with power strip assembly 100. In the example of FIG. 1, a power strip 102 is attached, joined, or otherwise fastened within an interior of a storage container 104. As described in more detail herein, the power strip 102 provides a number of advantageous functionalities and conveniences to a user of the storage container 104. For example, the power strip 102 provides users of the storage container 104 with the ability to provide power to tools, radios, mobile devices, or virtually any other electronic equipment that may be useful in the typical surroundings of the storage container 104.

The power strip 102 is illustrated as including a plurality of in-line sockets, into which the various electrical devices just referenced may be plugged. Of course, this is just an example, and the power strip 102 should be understood to include many other variations. For example, the power strip 102 also may include, or refer to, any distribution board, power board, or multi-plug device that may be used to provide power to one or more electrical devices. The power strip 102 may have multiple rows of sockets, or may have sockets arranged in virtually any convenient or useful manner, e.g., in a square or other shape. Further, the power strip 102 may include various features, such as surge protection or other safety features, not necessarily illustrated or described in detail herein.

The storage container 104, as described above, may include virtually any type of storage container, including, for example, a chest, a box, or a cabinet. In the example of FIG. 1, the storage container 104 is generally rectangular and includes a top (e.g., a lid) 106, a side 108, and an end 110. Of course, the storage container 104 also includes a side and end opposed to the side 108 and the end 110, respectively, although the exteriors of the opposed side and end are not visible from the perspective view of the example of FIG. 1. Also, the terms “side” and “end” are used for clarity; however, it should be understood that these terms may refer to any surface of the storage container 104, as would be apparent, including rounded surfaces.

The storage container 104 also may include various other features or components, such as, for example, a shelf 112. In FIG. 1 and in following figures, the shelf 112 is illustrated as a hinged or foldable shelf that is shown in a closed position against the end of the storage container that is opposed to the end 110. Of course, the shelf 112 is just an example, and the storage container 104 may include many other features and components, such as drawers or other compartments that may provide discrete or additional storage in the storage container 104.

Further, it should be understood that the storage container 104 may have many other shapes than that illustrated in FIG. 1. For example, a slant-topped storage container may be used in which the side 108 is shorter in height than the opposed side of the storage container 104, so that the top 106 slopes downward from back to front. Such construction may be advantageous, for example, for storing objects having a range of heights. Curved or rounded storage containers also may be used. Further, although the storage container 104 is illustrated in FIG. 1 and subsequent figures as having a hinged lid, other implementations may include doors mounted to a front of the storage container (e.g., to the side 108), including, for example, cabinet-style doors that open from a middle of the side 108 and rotate on hinges at each end of the side 108.

The storage container 104 may be formed, for example, of steel sheeting, and may be formed of one or more sheets bent into a desired shape, or may be formed of a plurality of sheets that are welded, bolted, or otherwise joined together. The storage container 104 also may contain legs or other supports, and such supports may be associated with casters or other wheels (not shown in FIG. 1).

In many cases, the storage container 104 may be used in settings in which electrical power is not readily or easily available. For example, as referenced above, the storage container 104 may represent a jobsite box that is anticipated to be situated at a construction site or other location, particularly exterior locations, where the storage container 104 may be subject to weather or other environmental concerns, or where the storage container 104 may possibly be subject to theft or other unauthorized access.

In such environments, and other environments, users of the storage container 104 may have different needs for electrical power. For example, at a construction site, users may need to provide power to job-related construction tools, such as drills or nail guns. At most sites, users may wish to provide power to personal devices, as well, such as cell phones or other personal communications devices. Still further, users may wish to plug in radios, televisions, or other entertainment-related devices. The power strip 102 provides users with the ability to power these and other electrical devices, in a manner that is convenient, adaptable, adjustable, theft-resistant, and weather-resistant.

For example, in FIG. 1, the power strip 102 includes a backing 114 that allows the power strip 102 to attach to an interior of the storage container 104 in virtually any position desired by the user. For example, where the storage container 104 includes a metal material, the backing 114 may include a magnetic backing, so that the user may simply position, remove, or re-position the power strip 102 in any desired position or orientation (examples of different positions and orientations are illustrated below with respect to FIGS. 3-5). In other implementations, the backing 114 may include a suction or vacuum attachment (e.g., suction cups), so that the power strip 102 may be positioned wherever such attachments may grip securely.

In other implementations, however, the backing 114 may include other techniques and components for attaching or otherwise fastening the power strip 102 within the storage container 104. For example, the backing 114 may represent a Velcro backing that may be attached to corresponding Velcro strips positioned within the storage container.

Other fasteners may be used to position the power strip 102. For instance, in other examples, a degree of mobility may be sacrificed in exchange for potentially enhanced stability of the positioning of the power strip 102, e.g., by using a fastener that includes metal brackets or mounts, into which the power strip 102 may slide and/or otherwise be secured. Various other fasteners may be used, as would be apparent, e.g., screws, rivets, and/or adhesives.

Some fasteners may be used to fasten the power strip 102 within the storage container 104, while still providing a degree of mobility in the fastened position. For example, a spring (not shown in FIG. 1) may be used that is securely or permanently mounted one end to an attachment point within the interior of the storage container 104, while the other end of the spring is attached to the power strip 102. Then, the backing 114 (e.g., a magnetic backing) may be used to mount the power strip 102 within the storage container 104 in a movable or adjustable fashion, but within a constrained range defined by the spring or other constraint.

In example implementations, the power strip 102 and the backing 114 may be sold, perhaps with the storage container 104, as a packaged or integrated product. In additional or alternative example implementations, some or all of these components may be sold separately. For example, the backing 114 may be separable from the body of the power strip 102, so that different types of backing may be used in different circumstances, or so that the same type of backing may be replaced when necessary, e.g., due to normal wear-and-tear.

In FIG. 1 and other examples, the power strip 102 may include a cord 116. The cord 116 may be stored while in use within a slot or lip (not shown in FIG. 1) within the storage container 104, so as to maintain the cord 116 out of contact with other items that may be kept in the storage container 104. The cord 116 may be a relatively long cord that may extend a distance to a power supply (e.g., portable generator), or may represent a short cord (also referred to as a pigtail) that is designed to be plugged into a separate extension cord (not shown in FIG. 1) that itself may run to, and be plugged into, the power supply.

As shown, the cord 116 may extend through an opening 118. The opening 118 may be coverable by a cover 120. The combination of the opening 118 and the cover 120 may be constructed as part of the manufacturing process of the storage container 104, so that a user of the storage container 104 may immediately install and use the power strip 102 (which may be manufactured/sold together or separately from the storage container 104) within the storage container 104.

As illustrated in more detail below, the opening 118 and the cover 120 may be constructed to be theft-resistant and/or weather-resistant. For example, when the storage container 104 and/or the power strip 102 are not in use, the cord 116 may be retracted through the opening 118, and the cover 120 may be closed over the opening 118. The cover 120 may be formed from molded plastic or other suitable material, and may include suitable insulating rubber or other material that provides a seal with an outer perimeter of the opening 118.

The cover 120 may be locked or otherwise secured, so as to reduce the possibility of theft or other unauthorized access. For example, the cover 120, when closed, may be secured from within an interior of the storage container 104, so that the cover 120 may only be opened after the storage container 104 itself is opened. For example, a complementary piece to the cover 120 (not shown in FIG. 1), which may be too large to fit through the opening 118, may be fastened to the cover 120 from the interior of the storage container 104, so that once the storage container 104 is closed, the cover 120 may not be opened.

Other suitable techniques may be used to secure the cover 120, and, in any case, the cover 120 and opening 118 may be formed of a size that is too small for potential thieves to easily access an interior of the storage container 104. For example, in some implementations, the power strip 102 may be of a size that is too large to fit through the opening 118, so that only the cord 116 may only be threaded through the opening 118 from an interior of the storage container.

Then, in practice, use of the power strip 102 may be initiated by opening the cover 120, and threading the cord 116 through the opening 118 for plugging into an available power source (e.g., an extension cord leading to a gas-powered generator). When finished with the power strip 102 and/or the storage container 104, the user may retract the cord 116 through the opening 118, and close and secure the cover 120. The cord 116 may be stored in a provided cord storage container (not shown in the example of FIG. 1), or may be stored on the shelf 112. In some implementations, the cord 116 may be retractable, and may be withdrawn automatically with a suitable winding mechanism (not shown in the example of FIG. 1), which may be built, for example, into the backing 114.

Further in FIG. 1, an example use of the power strip 102 is illustrated by battery charging station 122. As would be apparent, the battery charging station 122 may be used to charge virtually any rechargeable battery that may be used with any of the electronic devices referenced herein, or other electronic devices. The battery charging station 122 may use a cover or other technique to prevent batteries being charged from falling, particularly when the battery charging station 122 is mounted in a vertical position next to the power strip 102, such as may occur in the example of FIG. 1.

The battery charging station 122 may be associated with a variety of shapes, forms, and implementations usable with the power strip 102. For example, the battery charging station 122 may rest on the shelf 112. In other example implementations, the battery charging station 122 may be mounted separately to the interior of the storage container 104.

The battery charging station 122 may be joined to, or formed with, the power strip 102, in an integrated manner, so that the battery charging station 122 may be easily moved and positioned in conjunction with the power strip 102. For example, the battery charging station 122 may have the same or similar magnetic backing 114 as the power strip 102, and so may be mounted anywhere that the power strip 102 itself may be mounted. More generally, it should be appreciated that whether the power strip 102 and the battery charging station 122 are combined or separate, the battery charging station 122 may be configured with/for any of the fasteners described herein, including, for example, the magnetic mount just mentioned, metal brackets or mounts (into which the battery charging station 122 may slide and/or otherwise be secured), screws, rivets, and/or adhesives.

In additional or alternative implementations, the power strip 102 and the battery charging station 122 may be combined or integrated and may include one or more ports to receive one or more batteries. For example, the power strip 102 and battery charging station 122 may receive various batteries and battery types, including, for example, batteries of various voltages that may be used with corresponding electrical equipment, e.g., cordless power tools. For example, the battery charging station 122 may be used to charge batteries having a range of voltages, e.g., 7.2-18V, or a more specific voltage, e.g., 24V or 36V.

FIG. 2 is a flowchart 200 illustrating operations associated with manufacturing or producing the storage container 104 of FIG. 1. In the example of FIG. 2, an opening is provided in a storage container (202). For example, a manufacturer or producer of the storage container 104, or similar storage container, may form the opening 118.

Then, a cover may be provided for the opening (204). For example, the cover 120 may be provided, and may be attached to an exterior of the opening 118, as shown in FIG. 1. In other example implementations, the cover 120 may be interior to the opening 118. In other example implementations, as discussed below with respect to FIGS. 7 and 8, the cover 120 may be integrated or associated with an outlet, into which the cord 116 may be plugged. As discussed, the cover 120, or similar cover, may be weather-resistant, and may be dust-resistant or may otherwise protect contents of the storage container 104.

An attachment point may be provided within the storage container for receiving a power strip (206). For example, a metallic surface of the storage container 104 may serve as an attachment point for receiving the (e.g., magnetic) backing 114 of the power strip 102, or for receiving an adhesive (e.g. glue) that is on the power strip 102. More generally, as described herein, various fasteners may be used to position the power strip 102 within the storage container 104, and these fasteners may be associated with one or both of the storage container 104 and the power strip 102. Thus, the attachment point of the storage container 104 may be considered to provide some or all of the fastener(s), such as when the attachment point includes a metal bracket or mount for receiving the power strip 102, or when the attachment point includes a Velcro strip for receiving a mating Velcro strip positioned on the power strip 102.

A backing for a power strip may be provided (208). For example, the backing 114 may be provided as a magnetic backing, or a Velcro backing. The backing 114 may be detachable from the power strip 102, and therefore may be replaceable, e.g., with a different, improved, or repaired backing. In other example implementations, the backing 114 may be integral with the power strip 102.

It should be apparent that in the operations (206) and (208), a number of implementations exist for manufacturing and/or producing the various components. For example, the storage container 104 may be made by one manufacturer or producer, with the intent of receiving conventional power strip(s) 102. In other example implementations, a manufacturer may make all of the storage container 104, the power strip 102, and a fastener (e.g., the backing 114) for positioning the power strip 102 within the storage container 104. In other implementations, a first manufacturer may make the storage container 104, while a second manufacturer may make the power strip 102 with integrated (e.g. magnetic) backing 114.

As should be apparent, many other variations may be included; for example, as referenced above, a mount for a battery charging station may be provided (210), e.g., for the battery charging station 122. For example, as referenced above, the battery charging station 122 may be integrated with, or attachable to, the power strip 102, and may have its own fastener(s), e.g., may have its own (magnetic) backing for positioning of the battery charging station 122 within the storage container 104.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a more detailed example implementation of the storage container 104 with the power strip 102 of FIG. 1. In FIG. 3, the storage container 104 is illustrated with additional features and detail, including, for example, a first handle 302 and a second handle 304. Then handles 302, 304 may have matching, symmetrical handles on the end of the storage container 104 that is opposed to the end 110. The handles 302, 304 may be used to move the storage container 104, e.g., by a user who pushes or pulls the storage container 104 on casters (not shown), or may be used as skyhooks for attachment to, and movement by, a lifting apparatus, such as, for example, a crane.

FIGS. 4 and 5 illustrate the adjustability and flexibility with which the power strip 102 may be positioned within the storage container 104. For example, in FIG. 4, the power strip 102 is illustrated as being attached to an interior of the lid or top 106. Meanwhile, in FIG. 5, the power strip 102 is illustrated as being attached to an interior of the end 110.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the end 110 that more clearly shows the end 110. In FIG. 6, the handles 302 and 304 are more clearly visible. Further, the cover 120 may be seen to include a molded plastic, rubber, or foam cover that easily fits around, and seals, the opening 118 (not visible in FIG. 6). As shown, the cover 120 may include a handle 602 that allows the user to lift or remove the cover 120 from the opening 118, despite the seal formed therewith.

FIG. 7 illustrates a flanged outlet 702 that may be used with the storage container 104 and power strip 102 assembly of FIGS. 1-6. The flanged outlet 702 may be placed within the opening 118, as an addition to, or as an example of, the cover 120. That is, the flanged outlet 702, placed within the opening 118, may receive an end of the cord 116 on one side (i.e., on the interior of the storage container 104), and may be attached to an external power source on the other side (i.e., on the exterior of the storage container 104). As shown, a flange of the flanged outlet 702 may include a dust gasket 704 that provides weather resistance, as well as a cover 706 that may be inserted within the dust gasket 704 when the flanged outlet 702 is not in use.

FIGS. 8A-8C provide additional examples of use for the flanged outlet 702 of FIG. 7. As should be apparent from the example of FIGS. 8A and 8B, the cover 120 may include a weather-resistant flap 802 that is attached to a base 804 by a pivot 806. Then, the flanged outlet 702 may fit within the cover 120, for attachment to the power strip 102. In some implementations, the power strip 102 (e.g., the cord 116) may plug directly into the flanged outlet 702. In other implementations, as shown in FIG. 8C, a cordset 808 may be used in conjunction with the flanged outlet 702. For example, the cord 116 of the power strip 102 may be plugged into the cordset 808. In the latter example, it should be understood that the cordset 808 may provide additional convenience in installing the power strip 102, such as when, for example, the (native) cord 116 of the power strip 102 is undesirably short (e.g., would otherwise limit placement of the power strip 102 within the storage container 104).

As referenced above, various other examples of storage containers may be used, of varying shapes, sizes, and materials. For example, the storage container may be made of plastic, or of structured foam. Similarly, many additions and alternatives to the power strip 102 may be used. For example, the power strip 102 may have, or be associated with, a surge protector, or an uninterruptible power supply (UPS).

Thus, while certain features of the described implementations have been illustrated as described herein, many modifications, substitutions, changes and equivalents will now occur to those skilled in the art. It is, therefore, to be understood that the appended claims are intended to cover all such modifications and changes as fall within the true spirit of the embodiments.