Title:
FOLDABLE EXPANDABLE SHELTER
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A foldable shelter can have several wall sections joined to form a cylindrical lattice, and a roof section coupled to the wall sections. The wall sections each have a first member pivotally joined to a second member at near their respective midpoints. The shelter is foldable from an expanded state by inverting the roof segment into the interior of the shelter and pivoting the first and second members of the wall sections towards a parallel orientation. The shelter can have fixed length or extendable vertical and horizontal supports to enhance overall rigidity. The shelter can withstand wind loads without external bracing or cable support.



Inventors:
Roden, Thomas (Irvine, CA, US)
Folsom, Carl (San Diego, CA, US)
Russell Jr., John (Irvine, CA, US)
Stambaugh, Erik (Torrance, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/106129
Publication Date:
11/27/2008
Filing Date:
04/18/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
135/145
International Classes:
E04H15/50; E04H15/32
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
JACKSON, DANIELLE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KNOBBE MARTENS OLSON & BEAR LLP (IRVINE, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A foldable shelter comprising: a plurality of wall sections, each wall section comprising: a first member; a second member pivotally connected to the first member at an approximate midpoint of the first member; and a roof section comprising: a plurality of roof beams, each roof beam having a first end pivotally connected to at least one wall section and a second end pivotally coupled to at least one other roof beam; wherein the shelter is foldable between a stowed configuration in which the first member and the second member defining each wall section are pivoted towards a substantially parallel orientation with respect to each other and an expanded configuration in which the first member and the second member defining each wall section are transverse to each other.

2. The foldable shelter of claim 1, wherein the first member of each wall panel has a first end and a second end and the second member of each wall panel has a first end and a second end, and wherein the shelter further comprises a support member coupled to at least one wall section and extending generally vertically from the first end of the first member to the first end of the second member of the wall section.

3. The foldable shelter of claim 2, wherein the support member is extendable between a stowed length when the shelter is in the stowed configuration and a deployed length when the shelter is in the expanded configuration.

4. The foldable shelter of claim 1, wherein the first member of each wall panel has a first end and a second end and the second member of each wall panel has a first end and a second end, and wherein the shelter further comprises a support member coupled to at least one wall section and extending generally horizontally from the first end of the first member to the second end of the second member of the wall section.

5. The foldable shelter of claim 1, wherein the plurality of wall sections define a circumference of the shelter and an enclosed space, and wherein the roof section is pivotable with respect to the plurality of wall sections such that the roof section has an everted position extending generally upwards from the wall sections when the shelter is in the expanded configuration and an inverted position within the enclosed space defined by the wall sections when the shelter is in the stowed configuration.

6. The foldable shelter of claim 1, further comprising a roof cover.

7. The foldable shelter of claim 6, wherein the roof cover is removable.

8. The foldable shelter of claim 6, wherein the roof cover further comprises at least one wall cover.

9. The foldable shelter of claim 1, wherein in the expanded configuration of the shelter, the first member and the second member defining a wall section are substantially perpendicular to one another.

10. The foldable shelter of claim 1, wherein the plurality of wall sections are arranged to form a generally polygonal prism shape and the shelter further comprises: an upper joint coupling one of the plurality of wall sections to an adjacent one of the plurality of wall sections; and a lower joint coupling one of the plurality of wall sections to the adjacent one of the plurality of wall sections; and wherein the upper and lower joints define an edge of the polygonal shape.

11. The foldable shelter of claim 10, wherein the upper joint comprises a first mounting surface pivotally coupled to the first member of one of the plurality of wall sections, a second mounting surface pivotally coupled to the second member of the adjacent one of the plurality of wall sections, and a third mounting surface pivotally coupled to a roof beam.

12. The foldable shelter of claim 10, wherein the lower joint comprises a first mounting surface pivotally coupled to the second member of one of the plurality of wall sections and a second mounting surface pivotally coupled to the first member of the adjacent one of the plurality of mounting sections.

13. The foldable shelter of claim 1, wherein the roof section comprises a ring joint pivotally coupling the second ends of all of the roof beams of the plurality of roof beams.

14. The foldable shelter of claim 1, wherein the plurality of wall sections comprises six wall sections.

15. The foldable shelter of claim 1, wherein the plurality of wall sections comprises four wall sections.

16. The foldable shelter of claim 1, wherein the plurality of wall sections comprises eight wall sections.

17. The foldable shelter of claim 1, wherein the first member and the second member of at least one wall section of the plurality of wall sections are tubular members.

18. The foldable shelter of claim 1, wherein the first member and the second member of each wall section of the plurality of wall sections are foldable members each having a folded configuration and an expanded configuration, and wherein when the shelter is in the stowed configuration, the first members and second members are in the folded configuration.

19. The foldable shelter of claim 16, wherein the first member and the second member of each wall section each comprise two pivotable joints.

20. The foldable shelter of claim 1, wherein the first member and the second member of each wall section are extendable having a retracted configuration when the shelter is in the stowed configuration and an extended configuration when the shelter is in the expanded configuration.

21. The foldable shelter of claim 1, wherein the first member and the second member of each wall section are lockable in the extended configuration by a pin pivotally coupling the first member to the second member.

22. The foldable shelter of claim 1, wherein the first member and the second member of defining each wall section each has a length of approximately ten feet.

23. A foldable enclosure comprising: a plurality of wall sections, each wall section comprising: a first member; a second member pivotally connected to the first member at an approximate midpoint of the first member; and wherein the enclosure is foldable between a stowed configuration in which the first member and the second member defining each wall section are pivoted towards a substantially parallel orientation with respect to each other and an expanded configuration in which the first member and the second member defining each wall section are transverse to each other.

24. The foldable enclosure of claim 23, further comprising a roof section coupled to at least one of the wall sections.

25. The foldable enclosure of claim 24, wherein the roof section is removably coupled to the wall section.

26. The foldable enclosure of claim 24, wherein the roof section is pivotally coupled to the wall section.

27. The foldable enclosure of claim 24, wherein the roof section comprises a plurality of roof beams, each roof beam having a first end pivotally connected to at least one wall section and a second end pivotally coupled to at least one other roof beam.

28. The foldable enclosure of claim 27, further comprising a ring joint pivotably coupling the second ends of the each of the plurality of roof beams.

29. The foldable enclosure of claim 28, wherein the ring joint is expandable.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/913,167, entitled “FOLDABLE EXPANDABLE SHELTER”, filed Apr. 20, 2007.

Also, this application hereby incorporates by reference the above-identified provisional application, in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This application relates to foldable structures such as foldable shelters.

2. Description of the Related Art

Various shelters have been proposed to provide temporary or semi-permanent shelter from the elements. For example, yurt-type shelters have been used for many years by nomadic peoples. A typical yurt-type shelter includes a planar lattice wall bowed into a generally cylindrical orientation and a solid roof permanently attached to the wall. While yurt shelters have proven durable and useful, they can require long assembly and disassembly times. Once disassembled, yurt shelters are not easily portable.

A more modern temporary-use shelter is a foldable sun pavilion. A typical sun pavilion includes relatively tall columnar legs to which a scissor lattice is mounted. Roof spars are mounted to the scissor lattice, and a sun shade is typically provided over the roof supports. While these sun pavilions provide shelter from the sun, they lack substantial wall structure, and, as a result, can be difficult to stabilize during wind events. Stabilizing these shelters for wind gusts often requires running guy wires to secure the pavilion, a time consuming task. Furthermore, once in place, the guy wires can be difficult for passers-by to see, thus creating the risk of injury.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In various embodiments, a foldable shelter is described herein that overcomes the problems discussed above with respect to the prior art. In various embodiments, a shelter is provided that is easily and rapidly expanded. In other embodiments, a shelter is provided that is highly wind resistant. In other embodiments, a shelter is disclosed that does not require external guy wires. In other embodiments, a shelter is provided that includes a modular assembly.

In several embodiments, a foldable shelter comprises a plurality of wall sections and a roof section. Each wall section comprises a first member and a second member pivotally connected to the first member at an approximate midpoint of the first member. The roof section comprises a plurality of roof beams. Each roof beam has a first end pivotally connected to at least one wall section and a second end pivotally coupled to at least one other roof beam. The shelter is foldable between a stowed configuration in which the first member and the second member defining each wall section are pivoted towards a substantially parallel orientation with respect to each other and an expanded configuration in which the first member and the second member defining each wall section are transverse to each other.

In various embodiments, a foldable enclosure comprises a plurality of wall sections. Each wall section comprises a first member and a second member pivotally connected to the first member at an approximate midpoint of the first member. The enclosure is foldable between a stowed configuration in which the first member and the second member defining each wall section are pivoted towards a substantially parallel orientation with respect to each other and an expanded configuration in which the first member and the second member defining each wall section are transverse to each other.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one embodiment of foldable expandable shelter in an expanded configuration;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the shelter of FIG. 1 in a folded configuration;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the shelter of FIG. 1 in a partially expanded configuration with a roof section inverted;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the shelter of FIG. 1 in a partially expanded configuration with a roof section everted;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of an apex of the shelter of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5A is a perspective view of an apex of an embodiment of foldable expandable shelter having a telescoping vertical support;

FIG. 5B is a perspective view of the apex of FIG. 5A with the shelter in a folded position;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a roof joint of the shelter of FIG. 1;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of an upper joint member of the shelter of FIG. 1;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a lower joint member of the shelter of FIG. 1;

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of an embodiment of foldable expandable shelter with a roof covering and wall coverings with wall coverings in a stowed position;

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of the shelter of FIG. 9 with wall coverings in an unfurled position;

FIG. 11A is a top view of an embodiment of foldable expandable shelter having four sides;

FIG. 11B is a top view of the foldable expandable shelter of FIG. 1;

FIG. 11C is a top view of an embodiment of foldable expandable shelter having eight sides;

FIG. 12A is a side view of one embodiment of wall section of a foldable expandable shelter in an expanded configuration;

FIG. 12B is a side view of the wall section of FIG. 12A in a partially expanded configuration;

FIG. 12C is a side view of the wall section of FIG. 12A in a folded configuration;

FIG. 13A is a side view of one embodiment of wall section of a foldable expandable shelter in an expanded configuration;

FIG. 13B is a side view of the wall section of FIG. 13A in a partially expanded configuration;

FIG. 13C is a side view of the wall section of 13A in a folded configuration

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of several embodiments of foldable shelter 2 in an expanded configuration. As further discussed below, in various embodiments, the shelter 2 can be relatively low cost, easy to assemble, easy to stow or expand, and rapid to fold or expand. As illustrated, the shelter comprises a plurality of wall sections 10 defining a circumference of the shelter and a space within the shelter and a roof section 27. In some embodiments, the roof section 27 can be covered with a roof cover 50 (shown in phantom lines for clarity of the structure beneath) to provide shelter from the elements.

With continued reference to FIG. 1, each wall section 10 comprises a first member 12 and a second member 14. In the illustrated embodiments, the first and second members 12, 14 comprise hollow generally tubular members. In other embodiments, the first and second members 12, 14 can comprise members having other geometries, such as an oval, square, rectangular, triangular, or other cross sectional profile. In other embodiments, the first and second members 12, 14 can be solid cylindrical members or solid members of another geometry such as generally planar spars. In some embodiments, the first and second members 12, 14 can comprise segments of poly vinyl chloride (PVC) pipe. Advantageously, PVC pipe is a readily accessible and relatively inexpensive material, which allows for ease of construction and low cost of manufacture. In other embodiments, the first and second members 12, 14 can comprise metallic materials, and can comprise metallic tubes, or planar metallic spars. Advantageously, some metallic materials, such as aluminum can have a relatively high strength and low weight. In other embodiments, the first and second members 12, 14 can comprise composite materials, such as carbon fiber composites or glass fiber composites. In other embodiments, the first and second members 12, 14 can comprise other materials such as wood.

In the illustrated embodiments, the first and second members 12, 14 are pivotally coupled with a pivot joint 16 at the approximate midpoints of each of the first and second members 12, 14. In some embodiments, the pivot joint 16 can be a pinned connection which can be achieved with a bolt, a pin, a rivet, or other fastener. It is contemplated that in other embodiments, other connectors can be used to form the pivot joint 16. It is also contemplated that in other embodiments, the pivot joint 16 can be positioned at other locations on the first and second members 12, 14, including non-central locations.

In the illustrated embodiments, each of the wall sections 10 is joined to two adjacent wall sections 10 to form a generally polygonal prism. As discussed in further detail below, an intersection of a wall section 10 with an adjacent wall section can comprise an upper joint 20 and a lower joint 30, the joints 20, 30 defining an edge of the polygonal prism. The joints 20, 30 allow the first and second members 12, 14 of adjacent wall sections 10 to pivot with respect to each other, thus allowing the shelter 2 to be stowed and expanded in a sequence described below and illustrated in FIGS. 1-4. Thus, in the illustrated embodiments, the plurality of wall sections 10 are coupled with a plurality of upper and lower joints 20, 30 to form a generally cylindrical lattice. The embodiments of shelter 2 illustrated in FIG. 1 include six wall sections 10 to define a generally hexagonal prismatic shape when in an expanded configuration. As discussed below, in other embodiments, a shelter can include more or fewer than six wall sections 10.

In some embodiments, the first and second members 12, 14 of the wall sections 10 can be approximately ten feet long each. Thus, if the first and second members 12, 14 are substantially perpendicular to each other when the shelter 2 is in an expanded configuration, a wall section 10 of the shelter 2 can be approximately 7 feet tall and 7 feet wide. However, it is contemplated that in different embodiments, sizing of members 12, 14 of the shelter 2 can be scaled to form shelters of different sizes. Furthermore, while the shelter 2, in exemplary form, is described herein primarily as a shelter to shield people from the elements, it is contemplated that in other embodiments, the shelter could be sized and configured for different uses. For example, the shelter could be scaled to provide automobile storage, equipment storage, an enclosure for an outdoor shower, or various other uses. Where a shelter as described herein is used as an enclosure for an outdoor shower, the relatively rigid roof section can provide sufficient strength and rigidity to provide a storage surface for a water reservoir such as a tank or bladder for the shower.

With continued reference to FIG. 1, in some embodiments, the shelter can comprise a vertical support 40 and a horizontal support 42. The vertical support can extend generally vertically from a lower joint 30 to a corresponding upper joint 20 defining an edge of the shelter 2. The horizontal support 42 can extend generally horizontally from one upper joint 20 to an adjacent upper joint 20. In other embodiments, horizontal supports can extend between adjacent lower joints 30 in addition to, or in place of the illustrated horizontal support 42. While a single vertical support 40 and horizontal support 42 are illustrated in the embodiments of FIG. 1, it is contemplated that in some embodiments all edges of the shelter would be connected by vertical supports 40 and all adjacent upper joints 20 would be connected by horizontal supports 42. In other embodiments, some of the edges and some of the upper joints 20 would be connected by vertical supports 40 and horizontal supports 42 respectively. Further, some embodiments of shelter can have one or more horizontal supports 42, but no vertical supports 40, or one or more vertical support 40, but no horizontal support 42.

In the illustrated embodiments, the supports 40, 42 are fixed length members that can be connected to mounting locations on the upper and lower joints 20, 30 once the shelter 2 is in the expanded configuration. As further discussed below, in other embodiments, the supports 40, 42 can comprise extendable members that can expand and retract as the shelter 2 folds and expands. In still other embodiments, one or more of the horizontal supports 42 can comprise ropes, cables, or other tension members. These tension members can remain attached to the wall sections 10 during folding and unfolding of the shelter.

Advantageously, the vertical and horizontal supports 40, 42 and the cylindrical lattice formed by the wall sections 10 can enhance the rigidity of the shelter 2. In some embodiments, where at least one of the lower joints 30 has been secured to the ground such as with a stake or large weight, the shelter 2 can be resistant to relatively high wind loads without support cables. This can be particularly advantageous where the shelter 2 is used in a relatively well trafficked area such as a beach or outdoor festival. Support cables can present significant risk of injury to people walking nearby as they can be very difficult to see. In some embodiments, once sufficient numbers of vertical and horizontal supports have been engaged, the first and second members 12, 14 of one wall section 10 can be removed to create a large opening that can be used as a door to the shelter. In these embodiments, even with one wall section 10 removed, the structure can be sufficiently rigid to withstand wind loading.

With continued reference to FIG. 1, the roof section 27 is pivotally coupled to the plurality of wall sections 10. In the illustrated embodiments, the roof section is coupled at the upper joints 20. The roof section comprises a plurality of roof members 28, each having a first end and a second end. The first ends of the roof members 28 can be pivotally coupled to an upper joint 20 at a mount location 26 on the upper joint 20. The second ends of the roof members 28 can be pivotally coupled to each other by a roof joint 60.

In the illustrated embodiment, the roof members 28 each comprise a generally hollow tubular member. In some embodiments, the roof members 28 can each comprise a segment of PVC pipe. As indicated above with the respect to the first and second members 12, 14 of the wall sections 10, in other embodiments, the roof members 28 can comprise other materials and/or geometries. While in the illustrated embodiments, the roof members 28 and the first and second members 12, 14 of the wall sections 10 comprise substantially similar tubular members, in some embodiments, the roof members 28 can comprise different materials and/or geometries than the first and second members 12, 14 of a shelter 2. In the illustrated embodiments, the roof members 28 comprise fixed-length members. As discussed in further detail below, in some embodiments, the roof members 28 can comprise foldable members such as hinged foldable members.

In the illustrated six-sided shelter, the roof section 27 includes six roof members 28. In other embodiments, it is contemplated that a shelter can have more or fewer than six roof members 28. It can be desirable that the number of roof members 28 corresponds to the number of wall sections 10 of the shelter 2. However, in some embodiments, a shelter can include more or fewer roof members 28 than wall sections 10.

The roof cover 50 (illustrated in phantom lines to provide detail of the roof section 27) can span substantially the entire roof section 27. Thus, the roof cover 50 can provide protection within the shelter 2 from the sun and precipitation. In some embodiments, the cover 50 can comprise a natural or synthetic fabric material such as a canvas, cotton, or nylon material. In other embodiments, the cover 50 can comprise a plastic material. The material of the cover 50 can be chosen based on various material properties including an ability to provide solar protection and a water resistance of the material.

In some embodiments, the cover 50 can be removable, and can be attached for example by removable straps joined to the shelter 2, such as joined to the roof members 28, horizontal supports 42, or upper joints 20. The straps can include fastening devices such as mating hook and loop fasteners, mating snaps, buckles, or other removable connection devices to allow the cover 50 to be quickly and easily removed from the roof section. In other embodiments, the roof cover 50 can be more permanently attached to the roof section 27. For example, the roof cover 50 can include at least one sleeve through which a corresponding at least one roof member 28 passes.

With reference to FIGS. 2-4 an expansion sequence of the shelter 2 is illustrated. FIG. 2 illustrates the shelter 2 of FIG. 1 in a folded or stowed configuration. In the folded configuration, the first and second members 12, 14 of the wall sections 10 have been pivoted with respect to each other about the pivot joint 16 such that the first and second members 12, 14 approach a parallel orientation with respect to each other. The roof section 27, including the roof cover 50, are inverted inside the space defined by the collapsed wall sections 10. In the illustrated embodiment, no horizontal or vertical supports 42, 40 (FIG. 1) are engaged with the shelter 2 as distances between adjacent upper joints 20 and between corresponding upper and lower joints 20, 30 are different for the shelter 2 in the stowed configuration than the corresponding distances on the shelter 2 in the expanded configuration (FIG. 1). Thus, the shelter 2 in the folded configuration occupies a significantly smaller volume, allowing it to be easily transported between sites, or stored during periods of non-use. As illustrated in FIG. 2, the folded shelter 2 defines a generally cylindrical package having a height and a diameter. In the illustrated embodiment of shelter, the height of the folded shelter approaches a length of one of the first and second members 12, 14 of the shelter. As discussed in further detail below in other embodiments, the size of the shelter 2 in the folder configuration can be further reduced in embodiments of foldable shelter where the first and second members 12, 14 of the wall sections comprise collapsible or foldable members.

FIG. 3 illustrates the shelter 2 of FIG. 1 in a partially-expanded configuration. As illustrated in FIG. 3, the first and second members 12, 14 of the wall sections 10 have been pivoted with respect to each other such that they are transverse to each other. In some embodiments, the first and second members 12, 14 can be pivoted into a position where they are substantially perpendicular. In some embodiments, the pivot joints 16, or one of the first and second members 12, 14 can comprise a stop to define a range of motion of the first members 12 with respect to the second members 14. For example, in some embodiments, the stop could restrict further motion once the first and second members 12, 14 are substantially perpendicular. In the partially-expanded configuration illustrated in FIG. 3, the roof section 27 is in an inverted configuration within the space defined by the wall sections 10.

FIG. 4 illustrates the shelter 2 of FIG. 1 in an expanded configuration without horizontal or vertical supports 42, 40. During the expansion sequence, the roof section 27 has been pivoted from the inverted configuration illustrated in FIG. 3 to the everted configuration illustrated in FIG. 4. In some embodiments, the roof section 27 can exhibit a snap or pop as it transitions between the inverted position and the everted position, thus providing a tactile and audible cue that the roof section 27 has been expanded. Depending on the height of the shelter, in some embodiments one person can manually advance the roof section 27 into the everted configuration without assistance. In some embodiments, additional assistance can be necessary to evert the roof section 27. While the roof members 28 are illustrated herein as solid members, in some embodiments, they can each comprise a single hinged joint, which would not necessarily have well defined inverted and everted positions with a “pop” between the inverted configuration and the everted configuration. In still other embodiments, the roof section can be removably attached to the wall sections such that during an expansion sequence, the wall sections are expanded, then the roof section can be placed atop. In these embodiments, the roof section can comprise a single piece. In these embodiments, the expanded wall sections can also serve as a roof-less enclosure with the roof removed.

Once the shelter 2 is expanded to the configuration illustrated in FIG. 4, horizontal and vertical supports 40, 42 can be added. Depending on the size of the shelter 2, the weight of the members 12, 14, 28, and the amount of wind present, one person may be able to quickly and easily expand the shelter without assistance from others. In some embodiments of shelter, more than one person can be required to expand and stow the shelter.

With reference to FIG. 5, an edge of the shelter including an upper joint 20, a lower joint 30, and a vertical support 40 are illustrated. As will be discussed in further detail below, the mounting of the various members 12, 14, 28 and supports 40, 42 to the upper and lower joints 20, 30 is illustrated. In other embodiments, different mounting orientations and configurations are possible. While in the illustrated embodiment, each of the members 12, 14, 28, and supports 40, 42, is pivotally coupled to the corresponding joint 20, with a bolted connection, it is contemplated that in other embodiments, different fasteners could be used to achieve a pivotal connection. In some embodiments, it can be desirable that the mounting locations on the joints 20, 30 for the horizontal and vertical supports 42, 40 are easily accessible such that a user can attach and remove the supports 42, 40.

In some embodiments, the shelter can have extendable vertical supports 40′. FIGS. 5a and 5b illustrate an edge of an embodiment of shelter having extendable vertical supports 40′. As illustrated, the vertical support 40′ comprises an inner tubular member 46 nested within an outer tubular member 44. The inner tubular member 46 is slidable with respect to the outer tubular member 44 such that the extendable vertical support 40′ can be lengthened to accommodate an increased separation of the upper joint 20 from the lower joint 30. In some embodiments, the extendable vertical support 40′ can further comprise one or more bushings to promote alignment of the inner tubular member 46 with respect to the outer tubular member. In some embodiments, the extendable vertical support 40′ can comprise a biasing member coupling the inner tubular member 46 to the outer tubular member 44. The biasing member can be configured to bias the inner tubular member 46 and outer tubular member 44 into a retracted position. The biasing member can be, for example, and elasticized shock cord, a coil spring, a spring and quarter or cable assembly, or another by saying device or assembly.

In the illustrated embodiment, the inner tubular member is coupled to the upper joint 20, and the outer tubular member is coupled to the lower joint 30. However, it is contemplated that in other embodiments, the outer tubular member could be coupled to the upper joint 20, and the inner tubular member could be coupled to the lower joint 30.

In the illustrated embodiment, and the inner tubular member 46 and the outer tubular member 44 are sized such that in an extended configuration (FIG. 5a), the inner tubular member 46 is partially nested within the outer tubular member 44. In some embodiments, the inner tubular member 46 and outer tubular member 44 can be sized such that an expanded configuration the inner tubular member 46 is substantially entirely outside the outer tubular member 44. In these embodiments, the extendable support can include a biasing member as described above to connect the outer tubular member 44 to the inner tubes and member 46. Advantageously, an extendable number whose members do not nest in an extended configuration can be lighter and less expensive to produce than one with nesting members in an extended configuration.

Furthermore, it is contemplated that in other embodiments, an extendable support can comprise an assembly other than nested tubes, such as planar spars that slide with respect to one another, or another suitable extendable assembly. In some embodiments, one or more extendable support can comprise a driven extendable assembly, such as a worm gear driven extendable or telescoping beam, such that the foldable shelter can be automatically expanded or retracted.

In FIG. 5a, the shelter is in an expanded configuration, and the inner tubular member 46 is almost entirely nested within the outer tubular member 44. Thus, when the shelter is in an expanded configuration, the extendable vertical support 40′ is in a retracted configuration. As illustrated in FIG. 2, when the shelter is in a folded configuration, a distance between the upper joint 20 and the lower joint 30 is increased as compared with the corresponding distance in the expanded configuration. Thus, during a folding sequence, the inner tubular member 46 is advanced out of the outer tubular member 44 as the upper joint 20 separates from the lower joint 30. FIG. 5b illustrates the extendable vertical support 40′ when the shelter is in a folded configuration. Thus, when the shelter is in a stowed configuration, the extendable vertical support 40′ is in an extended configuration. In some embodiments, the extendable vertical support 40′ can also comprise a latch mechanism to retain the vertical support 40′ in either the extended configuration, the retracted configuration, or both.

Advantageously, in embodiments of shelter having extendable vertical supports 40′, a user does not need to individually connect each vertical support once the shelter is in an expanded configuration. Rather, the extendable vertical supports 40′ can retract to the desired length during an expansion sequence. Thus, the expansion of the shelter can be made easier and more rapid in embodiments of shelter including extendable vertical supports 40′. However, in some instances it can be desirable for a shelter to have fixed-length vertical supports 40 (FIG. 1). For example, a shelter with fixed-length supports can be simpler and less expensive to manufacture.

FIGS. 6-8 illustrate the joints 20, 30, 60 of the shelter 2 of FIG. 1. FIG. 6 illustrates the roof joint 60. Ends of each of the roof members 28 can be pivotally joined to the roof joint 60 such that the roof section 27 (FIG. 1) can be inverted and everted during folding or expansion of the shelter 2 (FIGS. 1-4). In the illustrated embodiment, the roof joint 60 comprises a generally ring-shaped member formed of a plurality of roof joint brackets 62. Each of the roof joint brackets 62 is coupled to two adjacent roof joint brackets 62 to form the ring shaped member. In the illustrated embodiments, adjacent roof joint brackets 62 are bolted together. However, it is contemplated that in other embodiments, the roof joint brackets 62 can be joined using other fastening hardware such as clips, or other techniques such as adhesive or welding. In the illustrated embodiments, each roof member 28 is pivotally joined to a corresponding one of the roof joint brackets 62. Thus, as illustrated, six roof members 28 have been pivotally joined to six roof brackets 62. Advantageously, this modular construction of the roof joint 60 allows for ease of assembly and disassembly should one of the roof joint brackets 60, 62 become damaged. Furthermore, as described below with respect to the upper joints 20, the roof joint brackets 62 can be of substantially similar construction to the upper joints 20, thus allowing for manufacturing economies. In other embodiments, it is contemplated that the roof joint can be unitarily formed such as by casting or molding processes and need not comprise a ring shaped member.

While the roof joint 60 has heretofore been discussed as a substantially rigid ring, in some embodiments, the roof joint can be an expandable member having a retracted configuration for storage of the shelter and an expanded configuration when the shelter is erected. Advantageously, an expandable roof joint 60 can be stored in a relatively small space when the shelter is collapsed.

For example, in some embodiments an expandable roof joint can comprise a scissor lattice formed by a plurality of lattice faces each having a pair of lattice arms pivotably coupled to one another near their midpoints, similar to the wall sections of the shelter. A bracket to receiving a roof member can be coupled to one or both lattice arms near the pivotal coupling of the lattice arms. The lattice arms can be pivotably coupled to lattice arms of adjacent lattice faces at their respective endpoints. In some embodiments, brackets having bends can be pivotably coupled to ends of adjacent lattice arms to form corners between adjacent lattice faces. In other embodiments, the lattice arms can have bends near there ends that can define corners of the lattice faces. The configuration and operation of a scissor lattice expandable roof joint can thus be similar to the assembly of wall sections 10 described above and illustrated in FIGS. 2-4. Accordingly, a scissor lattice ring structure can have a contracted configuration in which a diameter of the lattice ring is relatively small (corresponding to FIG. 2 for the wall section 10 assembly) and an expanded configuration in which the diameter of the lattice ring is relatively large (corresponding to FIG. 4 of the wall section 10 assembly).

As discussed below with reference to FIGS. 11A-11C, in various embodiments of shelter, different numbers of wall section can be used. Accordingly, a roof joint or expandable roof joint can have a number of faces corresponding to the number of wall sections of the shelter.

In some embodiments, it can be desirable to reinforce or otherwise brace the roof joint 60 when the shelter is in a folded configuration. When the folded shelter is stored in certain orientations, such as lying on a side such that wall sections 10 are generally parallel to the ground, the roof joint 60 can be subjected to loads such that it tends to distort. In some embodiments, a relatively rigid solid cap can be provided to maintain the shape of the roof joint 60. In other embodiments, an open cap can be provided to maintain the shape of the roof joint 60. In some embodiments, tensile wires or compressive rods can maintain the shape of the roof joint. In still other embodiments, the roof joint 60 can be removable when the shelter is in a folded configuration to reduce any risk of distortion during storage or transportation.

FIG. 7 illustrates an upper joint 20 in a planar configuration. As illustrated, the upper joint comprises a first mount surface 22, a second mount surface 24, and a third mount surface 26. The upper joint can include bend regions (indicated by dashed lines) on the first and second mount surfaces 22, 24, which can be bent to an appropriate angle based on the number of wall sections 10 (FIG. 1) in a desired embodiment of shelter. For example, in a six-sided shelter embodiment (FIGS. 1-4), the bend regions can be bent such that the first mount surface 22 is offset at an angle of approximately 60 degrees from the second mount surface 24. Thus, by selecting the appropriate bend angle, the illustrated upper joint 20 can be scalable to be used in shelters having various numbers of wall sections 10. The upper joint 20 can further comprise bend regions on the third mount surface 26, which can be bent such that the upper joint 20 can pivotally connect to a roof member 28 as illustrated in FIG. 1.

The upper joint 20 can have various mounting holes 52, 53, 54, 55, 56 that can be used to mount the members. For example, as illustrated in FIG. 5, a first a pair of member mounts 56 is positioned on the first and second mount surfaces 22, 24. Likewise, a pair of horizontal support mounts 52 is positioned on the first and second mount surfaces 22, 24. A pair of roof member mounts is positioned on the third mount surface 26. In the illustrated embodiment, a vertical support mount 55 is generally centrally located on the upper joint 20. Additional auxiliary mounts 53, 58 can be used to secure items (such as a cover 50) to the shelter, or can be used in a roof joint member 62 (FIG. 6) in a modular joint that is used as both an upper joint 20 and a roof joint bracket 62.

As noted above, in some embodiments the upper joint 20 can be modular such that the same manufacturing template can be used to form an upper joint 20 and a roof joint bracket 62 for the shelter. Advantageously, this modular construction can reduce manufacturing costs by providing parts commonality. Where the same manufacturing template illustrated in FIG. 7 is used for multiple joints, the third mounting surface 26 is bent in the opposite direction to form a roof joint bracket 62 (FIG. 6) than it is to form an upper joint 20 (FIG. 1).

FIG. 8 illustrates the lower joint 30 of the shelter of FIG. 1. The lower joint 30 includes a first mount surface 32, a second mount surface 34, and mounts 82, 84. The lower joint 30 also comprises bend regions (illustrated by dashed lines). As with the upper joint 20 described above, the lower can be bent near the bend regions to accommodate embodiments of shelter having different numbers of wall segments 10. (FIG. 1).

As illustrated in FIGS. 5 and 8, the lower joint 30 includes a pair of member mounts 82 and a vertical support mount 84. In other embodiments, other numbers and configurations of mounts can be included on the lower joint 30. For example, in some embodiments, to prevent the shelter from being displaced by a gust of wind, it can be desirable to weigh down or stake at least one lower joint 30 with respect to the ground when the shelter is expanded. Thus, in some embodiments, it can be desirable that the lower joint 30 include a stake mount or a protrusion such as a flange configured to receive a weighted object such as a sandbag or a cinder block.

The joints 20, 30, 62 can be formed of materials suitable to support the loads imposed by the shelter and wind, rain, snow or other loads reasonably expected to be externally applied to the shelter. In some embodiments, the joints 20, 30, 62 can be cut from a sheet of metallic material such as a sheet of steel. In these embodiments, the joints 20, 30, 62 can be formed from the cut sheet metal by drilling or cutting mounts and bending the joints at the bend regions as desired to form the desired angular displacements. Construction from metallic sheet material allows for relatively low manufacturing costs. In other embodiments, the joints 20, 30, 62 could be formed from a molded metallic material. In other embodiments, the joints can comprise thermoplastic parts that have been molded such as by injection molding.

FIGS. 9 and 10 illustrate an embodiment of shelter having a roof cover 50 and wall covers 92. In some embodiments, the wall cover segments 92 can be rolled and secured (such as with a strap) in an uncovered configuration with respect to the wall sections 10, as illustrated in FIG. 9. Advantageously, rollable wall covers 92 as illustrated in FIG. 9 can be folded into the shelter as illustrated in FIGS. 1-4. Additionally, one or more of the wall covers 92 can be quickly and easily rolled into the uncovered configuration to allow for ventilation of the shelter. As shown in FIG. 10, when deployed into a covered configuration, each wall cover 92 covers substantially an entire wall section.

FIGS. 11A-11C illustrate schematic top views of shelters incorporating features described herein, each having a different number of wall sections. FIG. 11A illustrates a shelter with four wall sections. FIG. 11B illustrates a shelter with six wall sections. FIG. 11C illustrates a shelter having eight wall sections. As illustrated in FIG. 11A, the roof beams 28 extend from relatively linear segments of the roof joint 60 (see FIG. 6), in FIGS. 11B and 11C the roof beams 28 extend from vertices of the roof joint 60. It is contemplated that in various embodiments having different numbers of sides, either of these roof joint configurations can be used. Advantageously, the shelter assembly described herein is easily scalable to shelters of different sizes and different configurations. It is noted that the relationship of the length of the members 12, 14 forming the wall sections 10 to the roof members 28 can likewise be scaled to achieve desired packaging or deployment considerations dependent on the number of wall sections 10 in a shelter. For example, with an eight sided shelter, it can be desirable that the roof members 28 are approximately the same length as the first and second members 12, 14 forming the wall sections 10. With a sixteen-sided shelter, it can be desirable that the roof members 28 are approximately two times as long as the first and second members 12, 14. As noted above, the roof members 28 can be hinged and foldable to achieve reduced folded shelter dimensions.

As noted above, in some embodiments, it can be desirable that the size of the shelter in the folded configuration be reduced. FIGS. 12A-12C illustrate a schematic view of an alternate embodiment of wall section 10′ having a foldable first member 12′ and a foldable second member 14′. Similar to the embodiment of FIG. 1, the foldable first member 12′ and the foldable second member 12′ are pivotally coupled at a pivot joint 16′. Each of the foldable first member 12′ and the foldable second member 14′ includes two hinges 90 substantially equally spaced along a length of the corresponding foldable member 12′, 14′. In some embodiments, the hinges 90 are desirably oriented such that a weight load on the shelter maintains the hinges 90 in an unfolded configuration. In some embodiments, the hinges 90 can further include latching mechanisms to retain the first foldable member 12′ and the second foldable member 14′ in an unfolded configuration.

As illustrated in the folding sequence depicted in FIGS. 12A (illustrating the expanded configuration) to 12C (illustrating the folding configuration), the wall section 10′ can be folded along the hinges 90 to achieve a relatively small folded configuration. Endpoints A, B, C, D are marked on FIGS. 12A-12C to illustrate the positions of the endpoints during the folding sequence.

FIGS. 13A-13C illustrate another embodiment of wall segment 10″ that has been configured to have a relatively small size when the shelter is in a folded configuration. The illustrated wall segment 10″ comprises a collapsible first member 12″ pivotally coupled to a collapsible second member 14″ at a pivot joint 16″. In some embodiments, the collapsible members 12″, 14″ can comprise nested coaxial tubes, similar to that described above with respect to the extendable vertical support. As illustrated, the pivot joint 16″ can be a removable pin that is insertable to lock the collapsible members 12″, 14″ in an extended configuration when the shelter is in the expanded configuration. FIGS. 13A-13C illustrate a folding sequence. In FIG. 13B, the pivot joint 16″ has been removed such that the collapsible members 12″, 14″ can be collapsed. In FIG. 13C, once collapsed, the collapsible members 12″, 14″ can be pivoted into a substantially parallel orientation with respect to one another.

Although the shelters described herein have been disclosed in the context of certain preferred embodiments and examples, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that the present inventions extend beyond the specifically disclosed embodiments to other alternative embodiments and/or uses of the inventions and obvious modifications and equivalents thereof. In addition, while the number of variations of the inventions have been shown and described in detail, other modifications, which are within the scope of these inventions, will be readily apparent to those of skill in the art based upon this disclosure. It is also contemplated that various combinations or subcombinations of the specific features and aspects of the embodiments may be made and still fall within the scope of the inventions. Accordingly, it should be understood that various features and aspects of the disclosed embodiments can be combined with, or substituted for, one another in order to perform varying modes of the disclosed inventions. Thus, it is intended that the scope of the present inventions herein disclosed should not be limited by the particular disclosed embodiments described above, but should be determined only by a fair reading of the claims.