Title:
SCREEN OPENING FOR A DROP CEILING
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A perimeter for a screen opening in a wooden drop ceiling has two parallel long sides connected by left and right end caps. The longs sides and end caps form a narrow screen opening for raising and lowering a movie or video screen attached to the original ceiling of the room. The long sides have approximately three foot lengths connected by transition blocks to form the long perimeter sides. The inner edges of the long sides, transition blocks and end caps are all tapered identically to slope inwardly toward the screen opening and upwardly toward the ceiling. The slope tends to narrow the perceived opening to make it more attractive to the eye. The entire screen opening perimeter system is easily attached to an existing metal T-rail drop ceiling by clips approximately three-fourths to an inch long, three thousandths of an inch thick and having a gap of approximately 0.242 inches. The clips require only approximately 7.8 pounds of force to attach the screen perimeter to the T-rail system.



Inventors:
Adams, Joseph E. (Brighton, IL, US)
Application Number:
12/239975
Publication Date:
04/01/2010
Filing Date:
09/29/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04B9/18
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KWIECINSKI, RYAN D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DON W. WEBER, PATENT ATTORNY (Troy, IL, US)
Claims:
Having fully described my device, I claim:

1. A perimeter for a narrow screen opening in a wooden drop ceiling system connected to a metal T-rail system, comprising: (a) a plurality of long rail segments connected to form opposite sides, each segment having an upper attaching lip, a lower supporting lip and an inner inwardly and upwardly sloping edge, running the length of the screen opening; (b) a plurality of connecting blocks connecting said long rail segments to form opposite sides, having an upper attaching lip, a lower supporting lip and an inner inwardly and upwardly sloping edge; (c) two square-U-shaped end caps, each end cap having a perpendicular end section and left and right end cap legs, wherein said end cap legs are perpendicular to said end section but parallel to said long rail opposite sides and screen opening, each end cap having an upper attaching lip, a lower supporting lip and an inner inwardly and upwardly sloping edge; (d) attaching clips for attaching the upper attaching lip of said long rail segments, transition blocks and end caps to a metal T-rail system; wherein opposite parallel lengths of said long rails and transition blocks form opposite parallel sides of a narrow longitudinal screen opening in a drop ceiling and wherein opposite ends of each parallel side are connected together by said end caps; wherein said screen opening perimeter is attached to said T-rail system by the attaching clips to form a perimeter for a screen.

2. A perimeter for a narrow screen opening in a wooden drop ceiling system connected to a metal T-rail system as in claim 1, wherein the inner edges of said long rail segments, transition blocks and end caps are identical and have the same geometrical shape.

3. A perimeter for a narrow screen opening in a wooden drop ceiling system connected to a metal T-rail system as in claim 1, wherein said clips have connected upper and lower legs, said upper and lower legs having a gap opening of between 0.225 inches and 0.250 inches.

4. A perimeter for a narrow screen opening in a wooden drop ceiling system connected to a metal T-rail system as in claim 1, wherein said clips have a gap opening of 0.242 inches.

5. A perimeter for a narrow screen opening in a wooden drop ceiling system connected to a metal T-rail system as in claim 1, wherein the upper and lower legs of said clips are between three-fourths and one inch in length and have a compression strength of between 7.6 and 8.0 pounds.

6. A perimeter for a narrow screen opening in a wooden drop ceiling system connected to a metal T-rail system as in claim 5, wherein the upper and lower legs of said clips are between three and four thousandths of an inch thick.

Description:

This invention relates to the field of indoor drop ceilings and more particularly to a narrow functional screen opening for a drop ceiling.

It is common in the building trades to replace an existing ceiling with what is called a “drop ceiling”. These drop ceilings utilize wire hangers which are attached to the existing ceiling or joints. The other end of the wire hangers are attached to various lightweight metal T-rails. A system of intersecting inverted T-rails is then installed below the regular ceiling. Once this system of intersecting T-rails is installed, ceiling tiles are placed in the square or rectangular patterns thus created to provide a new lower ceiling. In many applications, a retractable screen is suspended from the original ceiling. However, this poses a problem not heretofore addressed in the prior art, since the drop ceiling is not strong enough to support the screen and retracting mechanism and the actual ceiling is not accessible through the drop ceiling. It is an object of this invention to solve this problem by providing an attractive screen aperture in a drop ceiling that is consistent with the overall structure and appearance of the drop ceiling.

Various types of drop ceilings have been devised the prior art. One such drop ceiling is described in the 1988 patent issued to Young (U.S. Pat. No. 4,722,161). Young describes a modular wood ceiling system. The key to this system is the concealment of the main Ts and cross Ts. The wooden ceiling panels are then positioned above the Ts so as to disguise or conceal the presence of the Ts themselves. This particular type of drop ceiling requires the replacement of the conventional drop ceiling as described above with the new parts for the installation of the modular wood ceiling system described in Young.

Of particular interest to the instant invention is the patent previously issued to this inventor, U.S. Pat. No. #5,239,801. The prior Adams Patent described a unique type of drop ceiling. The drop ceiling of Adams was highly decorative in addition to being functional. Its main features were the grooved ceiling tile supports, the transition blocks and the decorative wooden ceiling tiles. While the initial Adams wooden drop ceiling is still unique, further adaptations of the drop ceiling to allow for additional functionalities would be an improvement over the older system.

When a wooden drop ceiling is installed in a Board Room or an auditorium, it has become commonplace to also utilize a retractable movie screen suspended from the ceiling for certain activities. The movie screen can be used to display movies, informative videos or slide show presentations. In such instances, most movie screens are simply hung from the ceiling and are lowered during the presentations. The screen and lowering mechanism is fully visible at all times in such arrangements, similar to a light fixture hung from a ceiling. The full-time visual presence of the movie screen lessens the aesthetic value of the drop ceiling. In addition, the presence of a drop ceiling poses certain problems, such as the stability of the screen if it is not attached directly to the actual ceiling of the room. It would be beneficial to have a mechanism whereby the unsightly presence of the movie screen could be hidden when the screen is not in use and where the screen could be attached directly to the actual ceiling of the room. It is therefore a main object of this invention to provide a new and useful mechanism that allows the movie screen to be attached to the actual ceiling of the room and to beretracted fully out of sight when the screen is not in use.

Although the present invention could be used generally in the drop ceiling industry, it is an important aspect of this invention that the mechanism for hiding the screen when not in use be aesthetically compatible with the prior art Adams drop ceiling. It is a further object of this invention to provide a new type of hidden screen opening compatible with the prior art Adams wooden drop ceiling that is consistent with the general decorative design.

To be compatible with the outward appearance of the prior art Adams wooden drop ceiling, the screen aperture perimeter of the instant invention should have decorative features that are functional yet aesthetically consistent. However, since the instant invention involves an elongated rectangular opening for the screen, it is necessary to add design features such that the screen gap or opening is visually narrowed to the viewer. It is a still further object of this invention to provide a unique functional aperture for a screen that is compatible with the prior art Adams wooden drop ceiling system but that also has design features adapted to visually narrow an elongated rectangular opening.

One other drawback in the prior art Adams drop ceiling is the attaching clip used. The older clip was short and required a great amount of pressure (approximately 28 pounds of force). The gap of the prior clip was also narrow. These functional features of the prior clip made the clip difficult to attach. A new clip is presented herein and is a further improvement over the prior art Adams wooden drop ceiling. It is therefore a further object of this invention to provide a new and improved clip for attaching the overall network of T-rails to the existing narrow screen aperture that is easier to install.

Other and further objects of this invention will become apparent upon reading the following Specification.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

This invention provides a narrow elongated opening or slot for a movie screen that may be attached to the actual ceiling of a room and is completely retractable into the area above a drop ceiling when not in use. The narrow opening has a rectangular perimeter with a fillet which is cut upwardly and inwardly in a unique shape to create an opening that appears to be smaller to the eye and that is compatible with the design elements of the Adams drop ceiling of the previous patent. The screen opening has two short square-U-shaped end pieces that connect two long parallel sides to form a narrow essentially rectangular opening for a retractable screen. Segments of side rails are connected by transition blocks to form the two long parallel sides of the aperture. The inside edges of the long rails slope upwardly and inwardly in a unique shape towards the center of the opening or slot. The end pieces maintain the same upward and inward shape and connect the ends of the side rails to form the essentially rectangular screen opening. The intermediate connecting blocks connect the side rail sections. These connecting blocks have the same upwardly and inwardly shape on the inner edges as the long rail sections. A new type of clip that is longer, wider and easier to attach replaces the original, less functional, clips. The wider and longer clips provide enough securing strength such that the drop ceiling can be attached to an existing T-rail on one side only yet are easier to install.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a partial view of the Adams wooden drop ceiling system in place showing the existing T-rail system, hooks and supports and the grooved ceiling title support grid without the wooden tiles.

FIG. 2 is a partial perspective view of the front and back long sides of the screen opening with the screen shown in phantom lines, also showing the new and improved clip.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the narrow screen opening shown as it would be installed in an Adams wooden drop ceiling.

FIG. 4 is a side cutaway view taken along lines 4-4 of FIG. 3, showing the side rails with the partially deployed screen and metal T-rails in phantom lines.

FIG. 5 is a detailed partial view of the square-U-shaped end cap in place in the screen opening system.

FIG. 6 is a detailed perspective view of one end cap of the device. The square-U-shaped end cap is shown inverted from its position when installed.

FIG. 7 is a side view of one side rail.

FIG. 8 is a partial perspective view of an end wooden ceiling tile.

FIG. 9 is a partial perspective view of the narrow screen opening shown with the screen, in phantom, partially deployed.

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of the narrow screen opening shown with the screen, in phantom, fully deployed in its down position.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The normal type of metal T-rail drop ceiling system is shown in FIG. 1 and 2. This type of T-rail system involves a T-rail 1, wire hangers 2 and ceiling hooks. The T-rail 1 is inverted as shown in FIG. 2. The T-rail is attached to the actual ceiling of a room by means of a wire 2. The upper portion of the wire 2 is attached to the actual ceiling while the lower portion of the wire 2 is attached to the T-rail. The T-rail is initially designed to support a drop ceiling tile for the standard drop ceiling system.

This prior Adams drop ceiling system invention utilizes the existing T-rail system and T-rails 1 but also attaches grooved wooden ceiling tile supports 3 to the existing inverted T-rail by means of attaching clips.

The grooved ceiling tile supports have a unique shape so as to be adaptable to attachment to the inverted existing T-rail 1. At the intersection of the rails 3 and cross-rails 3′ are transition square blocks 4. These blocks have a shape similar to the rails, but are essentially square, as best shown on FIG. 1. The prior art transition blocks 4 have a wider cross-section than the cross-section of the rails 3 and 3′. In practice the upper edge of the rails and cross-rails is even with the upper edge of the blocks. The presence of the blocks at the intersection of the rail lengths 3 and cross-rail lengths 3′ adds to the attractiveness of the ceiling. The blocks are also attached to the metal T-rails by clips. Once the grid pattern is completed, decorative wooden ceiling tile sections (not shown) are then placed above and supported by the tile supports 3 and 3′ and blocks to complete the wooden drop ceiling.

It may also be necessary in a drop ceiling of this nature to have grooved ceiling tile supports around the perimeter walls of the room. This is accomplished by means of the side wall supports 5 best shown on FIG. 9.

In the standard T-rail drop ceiling system, an L-rail is attached to the side wall of the room by means of screws or other attachments. This L-rail is part of the installation of the standard metal drop ceiling system. In order to attach the side wall support 5 to the L-rail, the older Adams attaching clip with the older attaching clip outer prongs is used.

The sidewall support 5 is placed so that the upper attaching lip is directly beneath the horizontal section 6 of the L-rail. The older attaching clip is then utilized to attach the horizontal portion of the L-rail to the upper attaching lip. Once these grooved side wall tile supports are attached around the perimeter of the room, the protruding support flange is available to support the wooden ceiling tile. This system is fully described in the prior art Adams patent.

Turning now to the functional and decorative features of the older Adams ceiling tile, the ceiling rail system as shown in FIG. 1 may be of any type of aesthetic or pleasing design. The particular design shown in the original Adams patent for the ceiling tile was a frustro-pyramidal design.

Once the grid is installed, the square ceiling tile is easily placed into the square sections formed by the grooved ceiling tile supports 3, cross supports 3′, and blocks 4. A series of these supports, cross supports and blocks may form either rectangular or square openings for either rectangular or square wooden ceiling tiles.

One of the main advantages of this particular invention was the ease of installation. In installing this particular drop ceiling utilizing wooden tiles, an existing metal T-rail system may be quickly changed to a beautiful and more attractive wooden tile system by use of the grooved ceiling tile supports and clips. The ceiling may be readily and easily installed. Because the bottom of the T-rail and the top of the attaching lip for the grooved ceiling tile support are adjacent to another, very little space is taken from the bottom of the drop ceiling to the floor.

Since the Adams drop ceiling was patented certain technology and design choices have changed. Power Point presentations, video programs and other electronic advances have made it necessary to install movie or video screens in the ceilings of board rooms, schools, restaurant meeting rooms and other places. But while the original wooden drop ceilings described in the Adams patent of 1993 were attractive, the aesthetic appearance of the drop ceiling has been lessened by the attachment of these screens to the original ceiling, which requires cutting a slot in the drop ceiling. In addition, the wire-hook-t-rail support systems already in use are not sturdy enough for the additional weight of the screens so attachment to the original ceiling in a haphazard fashion was necessary.

The new narrow screen opening perimeter presented here solves both the mechanical and aesthetic problems encountered with the installation of a heavy screen in many applications.

The narrow screen opening perimeter system of the present invention has a plurality of long side rail segments 7, as shown in FIG. 3, attached to the older metal T-rails 1 by new and stronger attaching clips 8. These long rails 7 run parallel to the longitudinal length of the narrow screen opening 9. The number of long side rails used depends on the length of the perimeter desired for a particular screen.

FIG. 3 shows the parallel long rail segments 7. FIG. 5 shows the screen opening 9 with a longitudinal length that runs parallel to the long rail segments 7. The length of the screen 10 is parallel to the longitudinal length of the narrow screen opening 9 and the long rails 7. Long rail segments 7 are connected by the blocks to form opposite long sides of the screen opening.

At each end of the narrow screen opening is an end cap 11, best shown in FIGS. 5 and 6. (The reader of this description should note that the end cap 11 is shown as it would be viewed from the floor in FIG. 5 but is inverted for better illustration in FIG. 6.) Each end cap 11 has a square-U-shape configuration, that is, each cap has a perpendicular end section 12 and left 13 and right 13′ end cap legs. The end cap legs 13 and 13′ are perpendicular to the end section 12. The end cap end section 12 is perpendicular to the long rails and narrow opening 9. The end cap legs 13 and 13′ are parallel to the long rails and narrow opening 9. The inner edge 14 of end cap 11, including the end section 12 and the left 13 and right 13′ end cap legs is sloped inwardly (towards the screen opening 9) and upwardly (towards the actual ceiling).

The inner edge 15 of each long rail 7 is also sloped inwardly and upwardly as best shown in FIG. 2. The inner edges 14 and 15 of the end caps and long rails have an identical irregular design as shown. This irregular design as shown is meant as an illustration only and not as a limitation. The inward and upward slope is an added feature that “narrows” the perceived screen opening when viewed from a distance.

The long rail segments 7 are connected by long rail transition connecting blocks 16 shown in FIGS. 3 and 4. The long rail segments 7 are approximately three feet in length and are connected to form the opposite parallel long sides 17 (FIG. 9) by the long rail transition blocks 16. The inner edge 18 of each long rail transition block 16 also slopes inwardly and upwardly identically to the inner edge 15 of the long rails and the inner edge 14 of the end caps. This transition block inner edge 18 has the same irregular design as the other inner edges 14 and 15.

Opposite parallel lengths of the long rails and transition blocks form opposite parallel sides 17 of the narrow longitudinal screen opening. Left 24 and 24′ and right 25 and 25′ opposite ends of the parallel sides 17 are connected together by the two end caps, as shown on FIG. 9.

The long rail segments 7, end caps 11 and long rail transition blocks 16 have an upper T-rail attaching lip 19 for attaching the long rails (FIG. 2), end caps (FIG. 6) and transition blocks (FIG. 4) to the metal T-rails 1. A lower supporting lip 20 supports the ceiling tile placed in the system after the supporting structure is in place.

Different shapes of ceiling tiles are necessary to finish the narrow screen opening. For example, simple rectangular sections 21 may be utilized between the long rails/transition blocks and the wall, as shown in FIG. 3. When the end cap terminates at a cross rail, a rectangular ceiling tile is utilized. However, when the screen opening system terminates irregularly between cross rails, as shown in FIG. 3, a special cut-out ceiling tile 22 must be used. This special cut-out ceiling tile 22 is shown in FIG. 8 and installed in FIG. 3. This cut-out ceiling tile is essentially rectangular having a smaller rectangular cut-out to receive the end cap and part of the narrow screen opening side rails as shown.

As best shown in FIG. 4, the transition blocks 16 are attached to the metal T-rails 1 by the new attaching clips 8. FIG. 4 is taken along the lines 4-4 of FIG. 3 and is a view near the edge of the transition blocks 16. Transition blocks 16 are attached to the parallel T-rail 1 by attaching clips 8. The transition blocks abut the cross rails 23 as best shown in FIGS. 3 and 4. Cross rails 23 are attached to the perpendicular metal T-rails 1′ of the previously installed metal grid system.

The previous clip described in the Adams prior patent had connected upper and lower legs with a gap of 0.200 (two hundred thousandths) of an inch between the upper and lower legs. The older clip was also much shorter than the new clip and two older clips for each rail or transition block were required. The older clip required 28 pounds of force to attach a wooden rail or block to the metal T-rail. This narrow 0.200 inch gap made installation harder on the workman, making the drop ceiling more difficult to install. The new clip 8, best shown in FIG. 2, disclosed for the first time in this application, now has a 0.242 (two-hundred forty-two thousandths) inch gap between connected upper 26 and lower 27 legs and is much longer. While the gap of 0.242 inches is preferred, the gap may vary from between 0.225 and 0.250 inches and still be within the disclosure of this invention

The upper and lower legs of the new clip 8 are also different from the original clips. The new clip 8 is now between three-fourths (¾ ths) and one (1) inch in length. The width of each leg is now between three and four thousandths of an inch. The older clips were approximately nine thousandths of an inch thick. This longer length, smaller thickness and wider clip gap makes the clip more pliable and easier to install since it requires only 7.8 pounds of force for installation.

The required attaching strength for the new clip is 7.8 pounds due to the longer length of the legs and the narrower clip gap. However the attaching strength may vary from between 7.6 and 8.0 pounds while still keeping within the spirit and breadth of this disclosure. Additionally, with the new construction of the attaching clips, only one clip for each rail or transition block is necessary. The new wider and longer attaching clip 8 presents a new and unexpected improvement over the older type clip.

The perimeter for the narrow screen opening creates a narrow (1.5 inches to 2.0 inches wide) opening or gap to allow a screen to be lowered when in use or raised when not in use. In the preferred embodiment, the inner edges 14, 15 and 18 of the end caps, long rails and transition blocks, respectively have identical geometrical shapes. An example of such an identical geometrical shape for the edges is shown in FIGS. 4, 6 and 7.

The new narrow screen opening is intended to be used in conjunction with the older Adams drop ceiling and is a new and novel improvement over the prior art. The entire screen opening perimeter, including the long side rails, transition blocks and end caps may be attached to the existing metal T-rail system by the new clips. The video or movie screen 10 may be attached to the original ceiling, making the attachment stronger and sturdier. The screen may be lowered, as shown in FIGS. 9 and 10 and used to display visual presentations. When no visual display is being presented, the entire screen, screen attaching means and lowering and raising motor is concealed above the drop ceiling, as best shown in FIG. 3. The narrow screen opening is a subtle yet effective and attractive addition to the traditional methods of presenting a screen from a ceiling.

While the above represents the preferred embodiment, it is to be understood that the structure described herein has many useful applications. For example, the profile and attachments could be used for trimming out light fixtures or vents, for use with drop ceilings that run flush with soffits or in conjunction with any opening where one side has the standard ceiling components running to the open area of the ceiling.