Title:
MODULAR PERIMETER ELECTRONIC SECURITY SYSTEM
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A modular array for a security fence system includes a tension module with a plurality of tension devices, a tensioning compensation module with a plurality of tensioning compensation devices, and a plurality of conductors each extending between a tension device and a tensioning compensation device. The modular arrays may be stacked for increased fence height. A conductor support module individually supports each conductor. An angular deviation module accommodates right, obtuse or acute angles. The tension devices automatically set the tension in the conductors to a predetermined tension. The tensioning compensation devices automatically accommodate expansion or contraction of the conductors due to temperature changes. All of the components of the modular array may be shipped in a standard pallet.



Inventors:
Gilmour, Andrew Jonathan (Oak Park, IL, US)
Gilmour, Robert Andrew (River Forest, IL, US)
Schmidt, Eric John (Forest Park, IL, US)
Rote, Scott James (New Lenox, IL, US)
Satterthwaite-phillips, Abner (Chicago, IL, US)
Somen, Daniel Ryan (Chicago, IL, US)
Application Number:
12/024845
Publication Date:
09/04/2008
Filing Date:
02/01/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
256/10, 242/410
International Classes:
E04H17/14; B65H59/40
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20040217340Fence covering systemNovember, 2004Bergdoll
20090179183Slot Rail AssemblyJuly, 2009Ferris et al.
20070080334Engineered fence systemApril, 2007Perry
20080308780SECURITY FENCE SYSTEMDecember, 2008Sloan et al.
20090309086Monitoring handrails to reduce fallsDecember, 2009Behan et al.
20080011995TENSIONING DEVICE FOR A FENCEJanuary, 2008Ross et al.
20060231820Pin locking mechanismOctober, 2006Bilby
20060113517Modular fencing system and method for constructing sameJune, 2006Colantonio et al.
20060060831Portable privacy panelsMarch, 2006Seas
20080296547Post for wood fence systemDecember, 2008Renteria



Primary Examiner:
GARCIA, ERNESTO
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
COOK ALEX LTD (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
1. A modular array for a security fence system, said modular array comprising: a tension module including a first upright support with a plurality of tension devices affixed to the first upright support; a tensioning compensation module including a second upright support with a plurality of tensioning compensation devices affixed to the second upright support; and a plurality of conductors, with each conductor extending between a tension device and a tensioning compensation device; wherein a plurality of array modules may be shipped on a standard pallet.

2. The modular array in accordance with claim 1, said modular array further comprising: a conductor support module disposed intermediate the tension module and the tensioning compensation module for supporting each conductor.

3. The modular array in accordance with claim 2, wherein the conductor support module has a plurality of through-holes with one through-hole for each conductor.

4. The modular array in accordance with claim 1, said modular array further comprising: an angular deviation module disposed intermediate the tension module and the tensioning compensation module for accommodating a right angle, an obtuse angle or an acute angle along the fence system.

5. The modular array in accordance with claim 4, said angular deviation module further comprising: an upright member, said upright member having a plurality of pulleys attached thereto, one pulley for separately supporting and bending each of the plurality of conductors about the right angle, the acute angle or the obtuse angle.

6. The modular array in accordance with claim 1, wherein said modular array may be vertically arranged on top of another modular array to create a fence system of increased height.

7. The modular array in accordance with claim 1, wherein said modular array may be laterally arranged to another array module to create a fence system of increased length.

8. The modular array in accordance with claim 1, wherein said tension module further comprises: a plurality of tensioning compensation devices affixed to the first upright support to provide a mixture of tensioning compensation devices and tension devices on the tension module.

9. The modular array in accordance with claim 1, wherein said tensioning compensation module further comprises: a plurality of tension devices affixed to the second upright support to provide a mixture of tensioning compensation devices and tension devices on the tensioning compensation module.

10. The modular array in accordance with claim 1, wherein said tensioning compensation module or said tensioning compensation module further comprises: a first vertical column including a plurality of tensioning compensation devices and a second vertical column including a plurality of tension devices.

11. The modular array in accordance with claim 10, wherein said first vertical column also includes a plurality of tension devices and said second column also includes a plurality of tensioning compensation devices.

12. The modular array in accordance with claim 1, wherein said tension device comprises: a bracket; a fastener attached to the bracket; a spool rotatably mounted on the fastener for receiving one end of a conductor; a tension adjusting plate rotatably mounted on the fastener, a first side of said tension adjusting plate disposed against a first side of the spool; a compression spring disposed between the bracket and a second side of the spool to bias the first side of the spool against the first side of the tension adjusting plate; and frictional means disposed on the first side of the spool and on the first side of the tension adjusting plate for restricting rotational movement of the spool with respect to the tension adjusting plate until reaching a predetermined tension in the conductor.

13. The modular array in accordance with claim 12, wherein frictional means comprises a plurality of raised teeth which are of triangular shape or of ramp shape.

14. The modular array in accordance with claim 12, wherein the frictional means comprises a plurality of balls contained within a plurality of channels disposed in the first face of the spool and in the first face of the tension adjusting plate.

15. The modular array in accordance with claim 12, wherein the frictional means comprises a frictional material disposed on the first face of the spool and on the first face of the tension adjusting plate.

16. The modular array in accordance with claim 1, wherein said tensioning compensation device comprises: a bracket; a fastener attached to the bracket; a spool rotatably mounted on the fastener for receiving one end of a conductor; a torsion spring disposed between the bracket and the spool to hold the conductor in tension.

17. The modular array in accordance with claim 16, wherein said tensioning compensation device accommodates contraction or expansion of the length of the conductor due to changes in temperature by rotation of the spool.

18. A tension device comprising: a bracket; a fastener attached to the bracket; a spool rotatably mounted on the fastener for receiving one end of a conductor; a tension adjusting plate rotatably mounted on the fastener, a first side of said tension adjusting plate disposed against a first side of the spool; a compression spring disposed between the bracket and a second side of the spool to bias the first side of the spool against the first side of the tension adjusting plate; and frictional means disposed on the first side of the spool and on the first side of the tension adjusting plate for restricting rotational movement of the spool with respect to the tension adjusting plate until reaching a predetermined tension in the conductor.

19. The tension device in accordance with claim 18, wherein the frictional means comprises a plurality of raised teeth which are of triangular shape or of ramp shape.

20. The tension device in accordance with claim 18, wherein the frictional means comprises a plurality of balls contained within a plurality of channels disposed in the first face of the spool and in the first face of the tension adjusting plate.

21. The tension device in accordance with claim 18, wherein the frictional means comprises a frictional material disposed on the first face of the spool and on the first face of the tension adjusting plate.

22. The tension device in accordance with claim 18, further comprising: means for simultaneously adjusting the tension provided by a plurality of tension devices with a single tool.

23. A tensioning compensation device comprising: a bracket; a fastener attached to the bracket; a spool rotatably mounted on the fastener for receiving one end of a conductor; a torsion spring disposed between the bracket and the spool to hold the conductor in tension.

24. The tensioning compensation device in accordance with claim 23, wherein said tensioning compensation device accommodates contraction or expansion of the length of the conductor due to changes in temperature by rotation of the spool.

25. The tensioning compensation device in accordance with claim 23, wherein rotation of the spool incrementally adjusts the length of the conductor.

26. A method of automatically setting the tension in a conductor, said method comprising the steps of: attaching one end of the conductor to a rotatable spool; disposing a first side of a tension adjusting plate against a first side of the spool; disposing frictional means on the first side of the spool and on the first side of the tension adjusting plate; biasing the spool against the tension adjusting plate; and restricting rotational movement of the spool with respect to the tension adjusting plate until reaching a predetermined tension in the conductor.

27. The method of automatically setting the tension in a conductor in accordance with claim 26, wherein frictional means comprises a plurality of raised teeth which are of triangular shape or of ramp shape.

28. The method of automatically setting the tension in a conductor in accordance with claim 26, wherein the frictional means comprises a plurality of balls contained within a plurality of channels disposed in the first face of the spool and in the first face of the tension adjusting plate.

29. The method of automatically setting the tension in a conductor in accordance with claim 26, wherein the frictional means comprises a frictional material disposed on the first face of the spool and on the first face of the tension adjusting plate.

30. The method of automatically setting the tension in a conductor in accordance with claim 26, wherein the tension provided by a plurality of tension devices is simultaneously adjusted.

31. A method for compensating for expansion or contraction of a conductor, the method comprising the steps of: attaching one end of the conductor to a rotatable spool; biasing the spool to hold the conductor in tension; and permitting the spool to rotate to accommodate contraction or expansion of the length of the conductor due to changes in temperature by providing incremental adjustment of the length of the conductor.

32. A conductor support module for supporting conductors in a security fence system, said conductor support module comprising; an elongate member formed of an insulating material, said elongate member having a plurality of through-holes with one through-hole for each conductor to space the conductors with respect to each other.

33. A tension device comprising: a bracket; a fastener attached to the bracket; a spool mounted on the fastener for receiving one end of a conductor, said spool permitted to rotate in only one rotational direction; and said spool having boss for receiving a tension adjusting tool.

34. The tension device in accordance with claim 33 wherein the tension adjusting tool has a clutch mechanism to limit the tension in the conductor to the desired tension.

35. The tension device in accordance with claim 33 further comprising: a plurality of teeth disposed on the periphery of the spool; and a pawl in contact with the teeth in a ratchet and pawl arrangement to permit the spool to rotate in only one rotational direction.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED PATENT APPLICATION

This patent application is a non-provisional patent application of U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/887,740, filed on Feb. 1, 2007, the right of priority of which is claimed for this patent application.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to methods and apparatus for electronic security systems, and, more particularly, to apparatus and methods for modular electronic fence systems.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Electric fences are often used for security purposes to restrict unauthorized entry to certain areas such as industrial premises. They are also used for containment in detention centers and for livestock and agricultural purposes.

Electric fences normally include a number of posts from which numerous non-insulated wire conductors are strung such that the conductors are insulated from the posts and therefore the ground. The conductors are coupled to an energizer that periodically outputs a high voltage pulse to energize the conductors so that intruders will receive an electric shock if they contact the energized conductors. While the voltage may be very high, such as about 10,000 Volts peak, the time of the pulse is very short in order to be safe, typically on the order of 100 microseconds. The pulse rate is also limited by international safety standards, such as IEC60335.2.76, to no more than one pulse per second.

The intruder receives a shock by completing the circuit from the energizer, via the live conductors to ground and back to the energizer ground terminal. The spacing and height of the conductors is such that it is difficult to gain access to the protected area without contacting the conductors. The live conductors are often interleaved with grounded conductors so as to make a circuit even if the intruder attempts to insulate him or herself from the ground but touches more than one conductor. If the conductors are cut or shorted to ground, a monitoring circuit, connected to the electrical terminals of the live conductors, detects the change in voltage and can signal an alarm or initiate a call to a guard center.

Traditional electric fence security systems have been assembled on-site by crews of highly skilled workers, who are required to assemble thousands of individual components of hundreds of different types in order to fashion a functional security apparatus. For example, skilled labor may be required for metal fabrication, welding, conduit or tube bending, and cutting of components. The time required for such skilled workers to assemble the required components is typically quite long.

Moreover, the quality assurance and quality control processes for ensuring proper assembly of such prior art electric fence security systems are difficult, time consuming, and expensive. This is due to the need to check each of thousands of component interconnects in field conditions, which may be subject to changing weather conditions and awkward installation locations or configurations.

The difficulty of arranging the electrical circuits in such prior art systems, which is a process known as ‘configuring’, requires years of practice and training to complete successfully on a repeatable basis. Frequently, this configuring results in errors which must be corrected at great time and expense before a system can become operational.

The proper regulation of conductor tension requires the use of various types of tensioning devices, all of which must be installed and regulated by individual workers. This often results in non-uniform tension being placed onto the conductor array. This lack of uniformity in conductor tension increases structural stress on the system and leads to reduced system life and higher maintenance requirements.

Current electric fence security systems require the use of multiple differing types of “strain” assembly in order to allow a system to be adapted to the unique topography of a given installation site. This complexity increases the cost basis of the overall technology to a point which is untenable in the large majority of the potential applications in the marketplace. A great deal of skill is also required to properly select and install the necessary components.

In order to prevent the use of system strain locations as a climb-over point by potential assailants, it is necessary to install an ‘anti-climb’ configuration at each system strain location. This work has to be done by hand, also at great cost and expense.

The components for prior art electric security fences also present shipping issues. For example, end posts and other components for a 16 foot high fence are difficult to ship from a factory to the installation site, and only shipment by truck may be available. Further, it is also typically difficult to ship components of such lengths to a foreign country.

A general object of the present invention is to therefore provide an electric security fence system which is modular and which may be easily shipped to a desired installation site on a conventional pallet.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a single pre-manufactured module for the tensioning of multiple conductors in the fence system.

A further object of the present invention is to provide pre-manufactured modules which enable multiple conductors in the fence to be configured in an appropriate electrical array.

Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a modular array for the construction of a security fence system which minimizes or eliminates the need for skilled labor trades in the field.

A still further object of the present invention is to provide an angular deviation module which can conform to any angular deviation along the boundary or perimeter of fence system, such as a corner, acute angles, obtuse angles and the like.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a tension module for a security fence system in which the tension of each conductor may be easily and quickly tensioned to a predetermined value.

A further object of the present invention is to provide a tensioning compensation module for a security fence system which automatically compensates for tension in each conductor over a range of temperature.

Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a conductor support module for a security fence system for individual electrically isolated support of each conductor at an intermediate point between a tension module and a tensioning compensation module.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to a modular array for a security fence system. The modular array may include a tension module with a first upright support having a plurality of tension devices affixed to the first upright support, a tensioning compensation module with a second upright support having a plurality of tensioning compensation devices affixed to the second upright support, and a plurality of conductors, with each conductor extending between a tension device and a tensioning compensation device.

In an embodiment, the modular array may further include a conductor support module disposed intermediate the tension module and the tensioning compensation module for supporting each conductor. The conductor support module has a plurality of through-holes with at least one through-hole for each conductor.

In another embodiment, the modular array may also include an angular deviation module disposed intermediate the tension module and the tensioning compensation module for accommodating a right angle, an obtuse angle or an acute angle along the fence system. The modular array has an upright member with a plurality of pulleys attached thereto, one pulley for separately supporting and bending each of the plurality of conductors about the right angle, the acute angle or the obtuse angle.

In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, the modular arrays may be stacked on top of another modular array to create a fence system of increased height, and may be laterally attached to other array modules to create a fence system of increased length.

The tension module and the tensioning compensation module may include a plurality of tensioning compensation devices affixed to the first upright support to provide a mixture of tensioning compensation devices and tension devices on the tension module. The tension modules and the tensioning compensation module further include a first vertical column with a plurality of tensioning compensation devices and a second column with a plurality of tension devices. The modules may further include a plurality of tension devices in the first column and a plurality of tensioning compensation devices in the second column.

The present invention is also concerned with tension devices for the modular array. The tension devices typically include a bracket, a fastener attached to the bracket; a spool rotatably mounted on the fastener for receiving one end of a conductor, a tension adjusting plate rotatably mounted on the fastener, a first side of said tension adjusting plate disposed against a first side of the spool, a compression spring disposed between the bracket and a second side of the spool to bias the first side of the spool against the first side of the tension adjusting plate, and frictional means disposed on the first side of the spool and on the first side of the tension adjusting plate for restricting rotational movement of the spool with respect to the tension adjusting plate until reaching a predetermined tension in the conductor. The frictional means may be a plurality of raised teeth which are of triangular shape or of ramp shape, or a plurality of balls contained within a plurality of channels disposed in the first face of the spool and in the first face of the tension adjusting plate.

The tensioning compensation device typically includes a bracket, a fastener attached to the bracket, a spool rotatably mounted on the fastener for receiving one end of a conductor, and a torsion spring disposed between the bracket and the spool to hold the conductor in tension. The tensioning compensation device thereby accommodates contraction or expansion of the length of the conductor due to changes in temperature by rotation of the spool.

Methods of automatically setting the tension in a conductor in a modular array, in accordance with the present invention, include the steps of attaching one end of the conductor to a rotatable spool, disposing a first side of a tension adjusting plate against a first side of the spool, disposing frictional means on the first side of the spool and on the first side of the tension adjusting plate, biasing the spool against the tension adjusting plate and restricting rotational movement of the spool with respect to the tension adjusting plate until reaching a predetermined tension in the conductor. The frictional means may include a plurality of raised teeth which are of triangular shape or of ramp shape. Or a plurality of balls contained within a plurality of channels disposed in the first face of the spool and in the first face of the tension adjusting plate.

In another embodiment, a method for compensating for expansion or contraction of a conductor in a modular array includes the steps of attaching one end of the conductor to a rotatable spool, biasing the spool to hold the conductor in tension, and permitting the spool to rotate to accommodate contraction or expansion of the length of the conductor due to changes in temperature.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention, together with its objects and the advantages thereof, may best be understood by reference to the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which like reference numerals identify like elements in the figures, and in which:

FIG. 1 is an elevational view of a modular array for an electric security fence in accordance with the present invention;

FIGS. 2A-2G are elevational views of various embodiments for the tension module and the tensioning compensation module used in the modular array of FIG. 1 in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 3 is an elevational view of a plurality of the modular arrays of FIG. 1 vertically arranged to provide a portion of electric security fence with a larger vertical dimension in accordance with another aspect of the present invention;

FIGS. 4 is an elevational view of a plurality of the modular arrays of FIG. 1 horizontally arranged to provide a portion of electric security fence in accordance with another aspect of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is an elevational view of a modular array for an electric security fence, similar to FIG. 1, further including a conductor support module and an angular deviation module in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 6 is an enlarged perspective view of the conductor support module shown in FIG. 5 for the modular array in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 7 is an enlarged perspective view of the angular deviation module shown in FIG. 5 for the modular array in accordance with the present invention;

FIGS. 8A and 8B are plan views of the angular deviation module shown in FIGS. 5 and 6 illustrating the deviation angles which the angular deviation module may accommodate for the modular array in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the various elements of the modular array, which are preferably sized to accommodate shipping on a standard pallet, in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 10 is an exploded perspective view of a tension device, a plurality of which are used on the tension modules shown in FIGS. 1, 2A, 2C-2E and 2G, in accordance with the present invention;

FIGS. 11A-11C are plan views of the tension device shown in FIG. 10 illustrating the use of the tension device in tensioning a conductor in a modular array, in accordance with the present invention;

FIGS. 12A-12E are side elevational views of other embodiments of frictional clutches which may be employed in tension device shown in FIGS. 10-11C, in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 13 is an exploded perspective view of a tensioning compensation device, a plurality of which are used on the tension modules shown in FIGS. 1, 2B-2D and 2F-2G, in accordance with the present invention;

FIGS. 14A and 14B are exploded perspective views of electrical connections between pairs of tension devices, pairs of tensioning compensation devices, or between a tension device and a tensioning compensation device, in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 15 is a perspective diagrammatic view of a plurality of tension devices which may be simultaneously adjusted to provide tension in a conductor, in accordance with the present invention; and

FIGS. 16A-18B are views of alternate embodiments of the conductor support module shown in FIG. 6, in accordance with the present invention.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

It will be understood that the present invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from the spirit thereof. The present examples and embodiments, therefore, are to be considered in all respects as illustrative and not restrictive, and the invention is not to be limited to the details presented herein.

Illustrated in FIG. 1, is a modular array, generally designated 100, which comprises a portion of an electric security fence system 115 (FIG. 4). Modular array 100 typically consists of a tension module 110 and a tensioning compensation module 120 with a plurality of conductors 102 extending therebetween. Tension module 110 and a tensioning compensation module 120 may have upright supports 112 and 122 which may be formed, such as from steel sheet material. Affixed to the upright support 112 of the tension module 110, at spaced locations therealong, are a plurality of tension devices 114, each for receiving one end of a conductor 102 and for providing an appropriate tension in conductor 102 between tension module 110 and tensioning compensation module 120. Further details on the tension device 114 are provided below with respect to FIGS. 10-12B.

Affixed to the upright support 122 of the tensioning compensation module 120, at spaced locations therealong, are a plurality of tensioning compensation devices 124, each for receiving one end of a conductor 102 and for providing an appropriate tension in conductor 102 between tension module 110 and tensioning compensation module 120. Further details on the tensioning compensation device 124 are provided below with respect to FIGS. 13-14B. By way of example, tension devices 114 and tensioning compensation devices 124 may typically be spaced at about 3½ inches (8.9 cm) centers along the upright supports 112 and 122. However, this spacing may vary depending upon the requirements of the particular installation.

While tension module 110 and tensioning compensation module 120 have been described as including all tension devices 114 and all tensioning compensation devices 124, respectively, it will be appreciated that tension module 110 and tensioning compensation module 120 may contain any mixture of tension devices 114 and tensioning compensation devices 124, as desired. Shown in FIGS. 2A-2G are a plurality of embodiments for the tension module and the tensioning compensation module. In FIG. 2A, the tension module 110 is as previously described in FIG. 1 where the tension module consists entirely of tension devices 114, which are also identified in FIG. 2 by the letter “T”. Similarly, in FIG. 2B, the tensioning compensation module 120 is as previously described in FIG. 1 where the tensioning compensation module consists entirely of tensioning compensation devices 124, which are also identified in FIG. 2 by the letters “TC”.

FIG. 2C illustrates a module 130 in which the tension devices T and tensioning compensation devices TC alternate in the vertical direction. Module 130 will typically be used with a corresponding module (not shown), which will also have alternating tension devices T and tensioning compensation devices TC, but with the uppermost device being a tensioning compensation devices TC such that conductor 102 will have opposite type devices T and TC at opposite ends of the conductor.

FIG. 2D illustrates a double module 140 which has a plurality of tension devices T arranged in a first vertical column 146 and a plurality of tensioning compensation devices TC arranged in a second vertical column 147. Typically, a plurality of modular arrays 100 are fitted end to end to form an electric security fence system. Thus, double module 140 can be used in place of the separate tension module 110 and the separate tensioning compensation module 120 at the intersection of two arrays 100.

FIGS. 2E and 2F illustrate a double modules 150 and 160 which are similar to double module 140 except that double module 150 has all tension devices T arranged in two vertical columns while double module 160 has all tensioning compensation devices TC arranged in two vertical columns. Thus, double modules 150 and 160 can be used in place of the separate tension module 110 and the separate tensioning compensation module 120 at the intersection of two arrays 100, with double module 150 at first, third, and succeeding odd intersections of the arrays 100, and double module 160 at the second and succeeding even intersections of the arrays 100.

Lastly, FIG. 2G illustrates a double module 170 which is similar to double module 140 except that double module 170 has alternating tension devices T and tensioning compensation devices TC arranged in two vertical columns. It will be appreciated that double module 170 may be used at every intersection of the arrays 100, instead of the separate tension module 110 and the separate tensioning compensation module 120.

In view of the above examples of modules 110, 120, 130, 140, 150, 160 and 170, it is generally preferred that each conductor 102 has a tension device T at one end of the conductor and tensioning compensation device TC at the opposite end.

As shown in FIG. 3, the modular arrays 100 of FIG. 1 may be stacked vertically to create a portion of electric security fence which is of increased vertical dimension. In the example of FIG. 3, a modular array 103 is stacked on top of modular array 100, and another modular array 104 is stacked on top of array 103 to create a combined array of three times the height of modular array 100. Of course, by such stacking of modular arrays, virtually any height requirement for the fence system can be achieved. The modular arrays may be affixed to each other by any appropriate means, such as by treaded fasteners, welding, couplings, brackets, or the like. The ends of the modules 110, 120, 130, 140, 150, 160 and 170 may also be formed to snap fit into an opposite end, if so desired.

In a similar fashion, FIG. 4 illustrates the horizontal expansion of the modular array 100. In this example, modular arrays 100, 105 and 106 are connected end to end to provide for a portion of electric security fence 115. The leftmost module 110 in FIG. 4 may contain all tension devices T, the rightmost module 120 may contain all tensioning compensation devices TC, and the intermediate double modules 140 may contain columns of both tension devices T and tensioning compensation devices TC arranged in two columns. Of course, double modules 140 could be replaced by the separate modules 110 and 120, if so desired.

The modular array 100 in FIG. 5 is similar to modular array 100 in FIG. 1, except that a conductor support module 180 and an angular deviation module 190 have been added. Conductor support module 180 has a plurality of through-holes 182, as also seen in FIG. 6; typically one through-hole 182 for each conductor 102. If modular array 100 is about 10 feet (about 3 m) or longer in the horizontal direction between modules 110 and 120, it may be desirable to utilize conductor support module 180 to keep the conductors 102 in a generally planar alignment in the vertical direction and to keep the conductors 102 evenly spaced from each other. Conductor support module 180 also assists in preventing movement of the conductors 102, either vertically or horizontally, by any person attempting to compromise the modular array 100. Conductor support module 180 is preferably made from an insulating material, such as plastic. It may have a generally rectangular cross-section. If desired, conductor support module 180 may be attached to any adjacent support, such as a post or the like, by any suitable means.

The angular deviation module 190 in FIG. 5 is shown in greater detail in FIGS. 7 and 8A-8B. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 7, an elongated member 191 has a plurality of brackets 192 supported thereon. Each bracket includes a pulley 194 for supporting a conductor 102 about an angle 195 or 196 (FIG. 8A and 8B). In FIGS. 8A and 8B, bracket 192 is broken away to show the conductor 102 resting on pulley 194 about the angle 195 or 196. However, bracket 192 preferably partially encloses pulley 194 such that conductor 102 is retained thereon in case conductor 102 is disturbed. The angular deviation module 190 accommodates any angular deviation which modular array 110 needs to span, including not only right angles, but also including obtuse or acute angles as shown in FIGS. 8A and 8B. Of course, more than one angular deviation module 190 may be used to approximate arcuate or curved spans of the fence system 115. Elongated member 191 may be supported by a post 197, or the like, such as by brackets 198.

In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, all of the components of the modular array 100 are preferably sized to accommodate shipping in a standard pallet 200, as shown in FIG. 9. For example, a standard pallet 200 in the United States is about 48 inches by 48 inches (about 1.2 m by 1.2 m). Also, by way of example, tension module 110, tensioning compensation module 120, conductor support module 180 and angular deviation module 190 may all be about 42 inches (about 1.1 m) in height, which is the largest dimension for these components. Thus, a box 206 sized to fit on top of pallet 200 will accommodate these components, as well as a smaller box 202 of hardware (such as treaded fasteners, brackets and the like), and a spool 204 of conductor wire. Such sizes which fit onto a conventional pallet will enable convenient shipping to practically any installation site of a plurality of modular arrays 100. However, if desired, tension module 110, tensioning compensation module 120, conductor support module 180 and angular deviation module 190 may all be fabricated to be of larger dimension such as about 8 feet (about 2.4 m), about 16 feet (about 4.9 m), or the like.

The exploded view of FIG. 10 illustrates a tension device 114, a plurality of which are utilized on the on the tension modules 110, 130, 140, 150 and 170 shown in FIGS. 1, 2A, 2C-2E and 2G. In some of these drawing Figures, tension device 114 is also identified by the letter T. Tension device 114 includes a spool 210 for receiving one end of conductor 102, a tension adjusting plate 212 for adjusting the tension on the conductor, a compression spring 214, a bracket 216 for securing the tension device 114 in relation to the tension module 110, and a threaded fastener 218-219 for rotatably securing the spool 210, the adjusting plate 212 and a sleeve 220 thereon. A front face 221 of spool 210 may have a plurality of triangular teeth 222 projecting therefrom to engage a similar plurality of triangular teeth 223 (FIG. 11) on the back side of the adjusting plate 212. Adjusting plate 212 is equipped with a hexagonal protrusion 226, such that a socket, or other tool, may be used to adjust the tension on a conductor 102.

FIGS. 11A-11C illustrate the use of the tension device 114 in tensioning a conductor 102 in a modular array 100. The conductor 102, which has one end first secured to a corresponding tensioning compensation device 124, has its other end fed through a bore 228 in the bottom of spool 210, as seen in FIGS. 11A and 11B. Tension adjusting plate 212 is then rotated in a direction, such as counterclockwise in FIG. 11B, to wind conductor 102 about the spool 210 and to apply tension the conductor 102. Tension adjusting plate 212 may be rotated by any suitable means such as by hand, with a hand tool, or with a power tool. When the tension in conductor 102 reaches the approximate pressure exerted by compression spring 214 against the spool 210, the teeth 222 on spool 210 and the teeth 223 on tension adjusting plate 212 will begin to separate and begin to compress compression spring 214. Thus, the teeth 222-223 will begin to slip past each other, thereby limiting any further tension on conductor 102 to the desired tension. By way of example, tension device 114 may typically limit the tension in conductor 102 to about 30 to 40 pounds (about 13.6 kg to 18.1 kg).

Spool 210 and tension adjusting plate, including teeth 222 and 223, may be formed from thermoplastic materials. However, a portion of the bottom of spool 210 is metallic to provide an electrically conductive path for conductor 102 to fastener 218 and then to bracket 216.

In general, the mating and opposing teeth 222 and 223 on the spool 210 and on the tension adjusting plate 212 form a frictional clutch. Other types of frictional clutches may similarly be employed between spool 210 and tension adjusting plate 212, in combination with the selection of the force exerted by compression spring 214, to automatically limit the tension in conductor 102 to a desired tension. Thus, the conductors 102 can be quickly tensioned without the need for torque or tension measuring tools, or the like.

FIGS. 12A, 12B and 12C illustrate other types of frictional clutches which may be employed in tension device 114. In FIG. 12A, opposing teeth 322 on spool 310 and teeth 323 on tension adjusting plate 312 are ramp-shaped. These ramp-shaped teeth 322-323 may be of less height than the triangular teeth 222-223 in FIGS. 10-11C to achieve the same amount of tension. When the desired tension on conductor 102 is reached, the torque applied to tension adjusting plate 312 causes compression of spring 214, thereby allowing the teeth 322-323 to slip past each other to thereby limit the tension on conductor to the desired amount.

In the embodiment shown in FIG. 12B, a plurality of steel balls are normally held in opposing channels 422-423 formed in opposing faces 424-425 of spool 410 and tension adjusting plate 412. When the adjusting torque applied to tension adjusting plate reaches the desired tension to be applied to conductor 102, the forces applied to steel balls 421 cause compression of spring 214, resulting in enough separation between the opposing faces 424-425 to permit the tension adjusting plate 412 to begin slipping relative to spool 410 to thereby limit the tension applied to the conductor to the desired amount.

FIG. 12C illustrates another form of frictional clutch for a tension device 514 in which frictional material is deposited on the opposing faces of spool 410 and tension adjusting plate 412. For example, a frictional material 428, such as aluminum oxide, may be deposited on the opposing faces 426-427, or roughness or irregular surfaces may be formed on the opposing faces 426-427 when spool 410 and tension adjusting plate 412 are molded from plastic materials.

FIG. 12D shows another embodiment for a tension device 814. Instead of having a frictional clutch, tension device 814 utilizes a ratchet and pawl arrangement. Thus, a tension adjusting plate is not needed, but may continue to be used. Instead, a plurality of teeth 802 is disposed about the periphery of the spool 810. Spool 810 has a hexagonal boss 804 for mating with a tension adjusting tool, such as tool 530 (FIG. 12E). As spool 810 is rotated in a direction which tensions conductor 102, a pawl 806 prevents the spool 810 from rotating in an opposite direction. When the tension reaches the desired amount, a clutch 532 disposed on tool 530 begins to slip thereby limiting the amount of tension on conductor 102 to the desired amount. Alternatively, tension device 814 may be equipped with a frictional clutch, such as used in tension devices in FIGS. 10 or 12A-12C to limit the tension to the desired amount.

FIG. 12E illustrates an alternative embodiment of a tension device 714. Tension device 714 is mounted to a surface 518, such as by a fastener 520. A spool 510 is permitted to rotate about fastener 520 in only one rotational direction, such as counterclockwise, but not clockwise, by an internal clutch mechanism. It will be appreciated that tension device 714 in FIG. 12C is simpler than tension devices 314 or 414 in FIGS. 12A and 12B in that there is no compression spring 214, no tension adjusting plate 312 or 412, and no frictional clutch disposed between the opposing faces 424-425. Instead, frontal face 526 of spool 510 is configured to receive a tool 530. Tool 530 is provided with a clutch 532, which is preferably adjustable. Tool 530 thus turns spool 510 until the clutch 532 begins to slip. Spool 510 is then set to provide the desired tension to conductor 102.

In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, FIG. 15 illustrates a plurality of tension devices 614 which may be simultaneously adjusted to provide tension in conductor 102. A worm gear arrangement, including worm drive 602 drives a compatible gear 604 at the base of each tension device 614. The tensioning adjustments are thereby performed more efficiently.

The exploded view of FIG. 13 illustrates a tensioning compensation device 124, a plurality of which are utilized on the on the tension modules 110, 120, 130, 140, 160 and 170 shown in FIGS. 1, 2B-2D and 2F-2G. In some of these drawing Figures, tensioning compensation device 124 is also identified by the letters TC. Tensioning compensation device 124 includes a spool 240 for receiving one end of conductor 102, a torsion spring 244, a bracket 246 for securing the tensioning compensation device 124 in relation to the tensioning compensation module 120, and a threaded fastener 248-249 for rotatably securing the spool 240 to bracket 246. The backside of spool 240 preferably has a recess for engaging and holding a tang 245 of spring 244. Another tang (not shown) at the other end of spring 244 will rest against a sidewall 247 of bracket 246 when tensioning compensation device 124 is assembled.

When the tension in tension device 114 is adjusted, as explained above with respect to FIGS. 11A-11C, spool 240 of tensioning compensation device 124 will wind torsion spring 244 to an equal tension at the opposite end of conductor 102. Thereafter, tensioning compensation device 124 will regulate the tension in conductor 102 by spool 240 turning clockwise or counterclockwise as the length of conductor 102 contracts or expands in length due to temperature changes. Of course, the fence system 115 is outdoors and may be subject to temperature variations exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit (exceeding 56 degrees Celsius) over the course of a year.

In order to complete electrical circuits, which typically include a plurality of conductors 102 in the module array 100, a jumper wire 260 may be connected to pairs of tension devices 114, to pairs of tensioning compensation devices 124, or to a tension device 114 and a tensioning compensation device 124, as shown in FIG. 14A. Alternately, a conductive strap 262 may be used in place of jumper wire 260. Typically, a strip of insulating plastic material (not shown) is disposed between the tension devices 114 and the upright support 112, and between the tensioning compensation devices 124, and the upright supports 122, to provide electrical isolation of tension devices 114 and tensioning compensation devices 124 from the respective upright supports 112, 122. At least a portion of the bottoms of spools 210 and 240 are conductive to provide an electrically conductive path from conductor 102 to spool 210, 240, to treaded fastener 218, 248, and then to bracket 216, 246.

FIGS. 16A-18B are views of alternate embodiments of the conductor support module shown in FIG. 6. In the embodiment of FIGS. 16A-16B, conductor support module 380 has a plurality of overlapping fingers 382 to contain and hold each conductor 102. In the embodiment of FIGS. 16C-16D, conductor support module 480 has a plurality of opposed pairs of fingers 482-483 to contain and hold each conductor 102. Tips of fingers 482-483 are in close proximity to each other such that conductor 102 may be slipped therebetween, and thereafter retained beneath the fingers 482-483. In the embodiment of FIGS. 17A-17B, conductor support module 580 has an inwardly turned tab 584 which is moderately flexible and which permits conductor 102 to be passed by the tip of tab 584, such that each conductor 102 is thereafter retained in a respective internal cavity 582. In the embodiment of FIGS. 18A-18B, conductor support module 680 has two chambers 682 and 684 with an inwardly turned tab 683 disposed between the chambers. Each of conductors 102 may be easily inserted into one of the first chambers 682. Thereafter, each of conductors 102 may be pushed past the tab 683, such as with a zip device 690. Conductors 102 thereafter remain in their respective internal chambers 684 to keep the conductors in spaced-apart relationship.

While particular embodiments of the invention have been shown and described, it will be obvious to those skilled in the art that changes and modifications may be made therein without departing from the invention in its broader aspects.





 
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