Title:
System and Method for a Modular Multi-Panel Display
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A modular multi-panel display includes a frame having a number of members. Lighting panels are removably coupled directly to the frame using coupling mechanisms. Each lighting panel is mechanically coupled to one of the members and three other lighting panels by a one of the coupling mechanisms. A controller is configured to provide data to the plurality of lighting panels.



Inventors:
Hall, William Y. (Frisco, TX, US)
Application Number:
14/328624
Publication Date:
07/02/2015
Filing Date:
07/10/2014
Assignee:
ULTRAVISION HOLDINGS, LLC
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
29/825
International Classes:
G09F9/302; F21K99/00; F21S2/00; F21V19/00; F21V21/00; F21V23/00; F21V23/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ROJAS CADIMA, OMAR
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SLATER MATSIL, LLP (DALLAS, TX, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A modular multi-panel display comprising: a frame comprising a plurality of members; a plurality of coupling mechanisms; a plurality of lighting panels removably coupled to the frame without a cabinet, wherein each lighting panel is mechanically coupled to one of the members and three other lighting panels by one of the plurality of coupling mechanisms; and a controller configured to provide data to the plurality of lighting panels.

2. The display of claim 1, wherein at least one of the lighting panels obtains all power and data from one of the three other lighting panels.

3. The display of claim 2, wherein the one of the three other lighting panels comprises: an input data connection point coupled to a data output of a first one of the three other lighting panels; and an output data connection point coupled to a power input of a second lighting panel.

4. The display of claim 2, wherein the one of the three lighting panels comprises: an input power connection point coupled to a power output of first one of the three other lighting panels; and an output power connection point coupled to a power input of a second lighting panel.

5. The display of claim 4, wherein the one of the three lighting panels comprises: an input data connection point coupled to a data output of the first one of the three other lighting panels; and an output data connection point coupled to a data input of the second lighting panel.

6. The display of claim 1, wherein each lighting panel comprises: a housing; a plurality of lighting elements positioned within the housing to form a display surface; circuitry positioned within the housing to control the plurality of lighting elements; and a power supply coupled to the plurality of lighting elements and the circuitry.

7. The display of claim 6, wherein each lighting panel comprises: an input power connection point coupled to the power supply; an output power connection point coupled to the power supply; an input data connection point coupled the circuitry; and an output data connection point coupled to the circuitry.

8. The display of claim 6, further comprising a thermally conductive material positioned in physical contact with the power supply and an outer wall of the housing.

9. The display of claim 6, wherein the power supply is mounted outside the housing.

10. The display of claim 1, wherein each lighting panel is cooled only passively.

11. The display of claim 1, wherein each of the lighting panels is sealed and has an ingress protection (IP) rating of IP67.

12. The display of claim 1, wherein each lighting panel comprises a plurality of attachment points by which the lighting panel is removably coupled directly to the frame separately from other lighting panels of the modular multi-panel display.

13. The display of claim 12, wherein each lighting panel has four corner regions and wherein there is an attachment point in each corner region.

14. The display of claim 1, wherein each lighting panel includes a plurality of tabs and slots, each tab fitting into a slot of an adjoining lighting panel and each slot receiving a tab from another adjoining lighting panel.

15. The display of claim 14, wherein the tabs and slots are located on an alignment plate of the lighting panel.

16. The display of claim 1, wherein each lighting panel includes an alignment plate and is mounted to the frame via the alignment plate.

17. The display of claim 1, wherein each coupling mechanism includes a plate that abuts a member of the frame and is fastened to four of the lighting panels.

18. The display of claim 17, wherein the plate comprises a back plate that abuts one surface of the member, the coupling mechanism further comprising a front plate disposed between the four lighting panels and an opposite surface of the member.

19. The display of claim 1, wherein the members comprise vertical members, the frame further comprising a plurality of horizontal members attached to the vertical members.

20. A method of assembling a modular multi-panel display, the method comprising: assembling a frame that comprises a plurality of members; attaching a plurality of lighting panels directly to the frame using a plurality of coupling mechanisms, wherein each lighting panel is mechanically coupled to one of the members and three other lighting panels by one of the coupling mechanisms; and providing a power connection and a data connection to each of the lighting panels.

21. The method of claim 20, wherein the lighting panels are attached to the frame with coupling mechanisms that each include a plate that abuts a member of the frame and is fastened to four of the lighting panels.

22. The method of claim 20, wherein each lighting panel includes a plurality of tabs that fit into slots of an adjacent lighting panel and also includes a plurality of slots that receive tabs from an adjoining lighting panel.

23. A modular multi-panel display comprising: a frame comprising a plurality of members; a plurality of coupling mechanisms; a plurality of lighting panels removably coupled to the frame using the coupling mechanisms; wherein each lighting panel is mechanically coupled to one of the members and three other lighting panels by one of the coupling mechanisms; wherein each coupling mechanism includes a plate that abuts a member of the frame and is fastened to four of the lighting panels; and wherein each lighting panel comprises: a waterproof housing; a plurality of lighting elements positioned within the housing to form a display surface; circuitry positioned within the housing to control the plurality of lighting elements; a power supply mounted outside the housing and coupled to the plurality of lighting elements and the circuitry; an input data connection point coupled to a data output of an upstream one of the lighting panels and/or an output data connection point coupled to a data input of a downstream one of the lighting panels; an input power connection point coupled to a power output of the upstream one of the lighting panels and/or an output power connection point coupled to a power input of the downstream one of the lighting panels; and four attachment points by which the lighting panel is coupled to the frame, each attachment point located in a corner region of the lighting panel.

24. The display of claim 23, further comprising a thermally conductive material positioned in physical contact with the power supply and an outer wall of the housing.

25. The display of claim 23, wherein each of the lighting panels is sealed and has an ingress protection (IP) rating of IP67.

26. The display of claim 23, wherein each lighting panel includes a plurality of tabs and slots, each tab fitting into a slot of an adjoining lighting panel and each slot receiving a tab from another adjoining lighting panel.

27. A modular multi-panel light emitting diode (LED) display comprising: a first lighting panel comprising a first array of LEDs disposed within a first sealed housing and a first power supply mounted on a back surface of the first housing, outer surfaces of the LEDs exposed at a front surface of the first housing, the front surface opposite the back surface; a second lighting panel comprising a second array of LEDs disposed within a second sealed housing and a second power supply mounted on a back surface of the second housing, outer surfaces of the LEDs exposed at a front surface of the second housing, the front surface opposite the back surface, the second lighting panel adjacent the first lighting panel; a first data connection between the first lighting panel and the second lighting panel; a third lighting panel comprising a third array of LEDs disposed within a third sealed housing and a third power supply mounted on a back surface of the third housing, outer surfaces of the LEDs exposed at a front surface of the third housing, the front surface opposite the back surface, the third lighting panel adjacent the second lighting panel so that the second lighting panel is disposed between the first lighting panel and the third lighting panel; a second data connection between the second lighting panel and the third lighting panel; a fourth lighting panel comprising a fourth array of LEDs disposed within a fourth sealed housing and a fourth power supply mounted on a back surface of the fourth housing, outer surfaces of the LEDs exposed at a front surface of the fourth housing, the front surface opposite the back surface, the fourth lighting panel adjacent the first lighting panel and diagonally adjacent the second lighting panel; a fifth lighting panel comprising a fifth array of LEDs disposed within a fifth sealed housing and a fifth power supply mounted on a back surface of the fifth housing, outer surfaces of the LEDs exposed at a front surface of the fifth housing, the front surface opposite the back surface, the fifth lighting panel adjacent the second and fourth lighting panels and diagonally adjacent the first and third lighting panels; a first coupling plate mechanically attached to the first lighting panel, the second lighting panel, the fourth lighting panel and the fifth lighting panel; a third data connection between the fourth lighting panel and the fifth lighting panel; a sixth lighting panel comprising a sixth array of LEDs disposed within a sixth sealed housing and a sixth power supply mounted on a back surface of the sixth housing, outer surfaces of the LEDs exposed at a front surface of the sixth housing, the front surface opposite the back surface, the sixth lighting panel adjacent the third and fifth lighting panels and diagonally adjacent the second lighting panel; a second coupling plate mechanically attached to the second lighting panel, the third lighting panel, the fifth lighting panel and the sixth lighting panel; a fourth data connection between the fifth lighting panel and the sixth lighting panel; a seventh lighting panel comprising a seventh array of LEDs disposed within a seventh sealed housing and a seventh power supply mounted on a back surface of the seventh housing, outer surfaces of the LEDs exposed at a front surface of the seventh housing, the front surface opposite the back surface, the seventh lighting panel adjacent the fourth lighting panel and diagonally adjacent the fifth lighting panel; an eighth lighting panel comprising an eighth array of LEDs disposed within an eighth sealed housing and an eighth power supply mounted on a back surface of the eighth housing, outer surfaces of the LEDs exposed at a front surface of the eighth housing, the front surface opposite the back surface, the eighth lighting panel adjacent the fifth, seventh and ninth lighting panels and diagonally adjacent the fourth and sixth lighting panels; a third coupling plate mechanically attached to the fourth lighting panel, the fifth lighting panel, the seventh lighting panel and the eighth lighting panel; a fifth data connection between the seventh lighting panel and the eighth lighting panel; a ninth lighting panel comprising a ninth array of LEDs disposed within a ninth sealed housing and a ninth power supply mounted on a back surface of the ninth housing, outer surfaces of the LEDs exposed at a front surface of the ninth housing, the front surface opposite the back surface, the ninth lighting panel adjacent the sixth and eighth lighting panels and diagonally adjacent the fifth lighting panel; a fourth coupling plate mechanically attached to the fifth lighting panel, the sixth lighting panel, the eighth lighting panel and the ninth lighting panel; and a sixth data connection between the eighth lighting panel and the ninth lighting panel.

28. The display of claim 27, further comprising a frame, the frame comprising: a top horizontal member; a bottom horizontal member; a left vertical member; a right vertical member, wherein the first through ninth lighting panels are located between the top horizontal member, the bottom horizontal member, the left vertical member and the right vertical member; a first intermediate member mechanically attached to the first coupling plate; and a second intermediate member mechanically attached to the fourth coupling plate.

Description:

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/922,631, filed on Dec. 31. 2013, which application is hereby incorporated herein by reference.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates generally to displays, and, in particular embodiments, to a system and method for a modular multi-panel display.

BACKGROUND

Large displays (e.g., billboards), such as those commonly used for advertising in cities and along roads, generally have one or more pictures and/or text that are to be displayed under various light and weather conditions. As technology has advanced and introduced new lighting devices such as the light emitting diode (LED), such advances have been applied to large displays. An LED display is a flat panel display, which uses an array of light-emitting diodes. A large display may be made of a single LED display or a panel of smaller LED panels. LED panels may be conventional panels made using discrete LEDs or surface-mounted device (SMD) panels. Most outdoor screens and some indoor screens are built around discrete LEDs, which are also known as individually mounted LEDs. A cluster of red, green, and blue diodes is driven together to form a full-color pixel, usually square in shape. These pixels are spaced evenly apart and are measured from center to center for absolute pixel resolution. At the time of filing this application, one of the largest LED display in the world is over 500 meters long and is located in Fremont Street, Las Vegas.

SUMMARY

Embodiments of the invention relate to lighting systems and, more particularly, to multi-panel lighting systems for providing interior or exterior displays.

In one embodiment, a modular multi-panel display comprises a frame comprising a plurality of vertical members and a plurality of coupling mechanisms. A plurality of lighting panels is removably coupled directly to the frame using the coupling mechanisms. Each lighting panel is mechanically coupled to one of the vertical and three other lighting panels by a one of the coupling mechanisms. A controller provides data to the plurality of lighting modules.

In a one particular embodiment, each lighting panel comprises a housing and a plurality of lighting elements positioned within the housing to form a display surface. Circuitry is positioned within the housing to control the plurality of lighting elements and a power supply is positioned within the housing and coupled to the plurality of lighting elements and the circuitry. An input data connection point is coupled to a data output of an upstream one of the lighting panels and/or an output data connection point is coupled to a data input of a downstream one of the lighting panels. An input power connection point is coupled to a power output of the upstream one of the lighting panels and/or an output power connection point is coupled to a power input of the downstream one of the lighting panels. The housing includes four attachment points by which the lighting panel is coupled to the frame. Each attachment point located in a corner region of the lighting panel.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For a more complete understanding, reference is now made to the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:

FIGS. 1A and 1B illustrate one embodiment of a display that may be provided according to the present disclosure;

FIGS. 2A-2C illustrate one embodiment of a lighting panel that may be used with the display of FIGS. 1A and 1B;

FIGS. 3A-3I illustrate one embodiment of a housing and an alignment plate that may be used with the panel of FIG. 2A;

FIGS. 4A and 4B illustrate a more detailed embodiment of the panel of FIG. 2A;

FIG. 5 illustrates an alternative embodiment of the panel of FIG. 4A;

FIGS. 6A and 6B illustrate a more detailed embodiment of the panel of FIG. 2A;

FIG. 7 illustrates an alternative embodiment of the panel of FIG. 6A;

FIGS. 8A-8M illustrate one embodiment of a frame that may be used with the display of FIGS. 1A and 1B;

FIGS. 9A-9C illustrate one embodiment of a locking mechanism that may be used with the display of FIGS. 1A and 1B;

FIGS. 10A-10D illustrate one embodiment of a display configuration;

FIGS. 11A-11D illustrate another embodiment of a display configuration; and

FIGS. 12A-12D illustrate yet another embodiment of a display configuration.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF ILLUSTRATIVE EMBODIMENTS

In the following discussion, exterior displays are used herein for purposes of example. It is understood that the present disclosure may be applied to lighting for any type of interior and/or exterior display.

Referring to FIGS. 1A and 1B, one embodiment of a multi-panel display 100 is illustrated. The display 100 includes a display surface 102 that is formed by multiple lighting panels 104a-104t. In the present embodiment, the panels 104a-104t use light emitting diodes (LEDs) for illumination, but it is understood that other light sources may be used in other embodiments. The panels 104a-104t typically operate together to form a single image, although multiple images may be simultaneously presented by the display 100. In the present example, the panels 104a-104t are individually attached to a frame 106, which enables each panel to be installed or removed from the frame 106 without affecting the other panels.

Each panel 104a-104t is a self-contained unit that couples directly to the frame 106. By “directly,” it is understood that another component or components may be positioned between the panel 104a-104t and the frame 106, but the panel is not placed inside a cabinet that is coupled to the frame 106. For example, an alignment plate (described later but not shown in the present figure) may be coupled to a panel and/or the frame 106 to aid in aligning a panel with other panels. The panel may then be coupled to the frame 106 or the alignment plate, and either coupling approach would be “direct” according to the present disclosure.

Two or more panels 104a-104t can be coupled for power and/or data purposes, with a panel 104a-104t receiving power and/or data from a central source or another panel and passing through at least some of the power and/or data to one or more other panels. This further improves the modular aspect of the display 100, as a single panel 104a-104t can be easily connected to the display 100 when being installed and easily disconnected when being removed by decoupling the power and data connections from neighboring panels.

The power and data connections for the panels 104a-104t may be configured using one or more layouts, such as a ring, mesh, star, bus, tree, line, or fully-connected layout, or a combination thereof. In some embodiments the LED panels 104a-104t may be in a single network, while in other embodiments the LED panels 104a-104t may be divided into multiple networks. Power and data may be distributed using identical or different layouts. For example, power may be distributed in a line layout, while data may use a combination of line and star layouts.

The frame 106 may be relatively light in weight compared to frames needed to support cabinet mounted LED assemblies. In the present example, the frame 106 includes only a top horizontal member 108, a bottom horizontal member 110, a left vertical member 112, a right vertical member 114, and intermediate vertical members 116. Power cables and data cables (not shown) for the panels 104a-104t may route around and/or through the frame 106.

Referring to FIGS. 2A-2C, one embodiment of an LED panel 200 is illustrated that may be used as one of the LED panels 104a-104t of FIGS. 1A and 1B. FIG. 2A illustrates a front view of the panel 200 with LEDs aligned in a 16×32 configuration. FIG. 2B illustrates a diagram of internal components within the panel 200. FIG. 2C illustrates one possible configuration of a power supply positioned within the panel 200 relative to a back plate of the panel 200.

Referring specifically to FIG. 2A, in the present example, the LED panel 200 includes a substrate 202 that forms a front surface of the panel 200. The substrate 202 in the present embodiment is rectangular in shape, with a top edge 204, a bottom edge 206, a right edge 208, and a left edge 210. A substrate surface 212 includes “pixels” 214 that are formed by one or more LEDs 216 on or within the substrate 202. In the present example, each pixel 214 includes four LEDs 216 arranged in a pattern (e.g., a square). For example, the four LEDs 216 that form a pixel 214 may include a red LED, a green LED, a blue LED, and one other LED (e.g., a white LED). In some embodiments, the other LED may be a sensor. It is understood that more or fewer LEDs 216 may be used to form a single pixel 214, and the use of four LEDs 216 and their relative positioning as a square is for purposes of illustration only.

In some embodiments, the substrate 202 may form the entire front surface of the panel 200, with no other part of the panel 200 being visible from the front when the substrate 202 is in place. In other embodiments, a housing 220 (FIG. 2B) may be partially visible at one or more of the edges of the substrate 202. The substrate 202 may form the front surface of the panel 202, but may not be the outer surface in some embodiments. For example, a transparent or translucent material or coating may overlay the substrate 202 and the LEDs 216, thereby being positioned between the substrate 202/LEDs 216 and the environment.

Louvers 218 may be positioned above each row of pixels 214 to block or minimize light from directly striking the LEDs 216 from certain angles. For example, the louvers 218 may be configured to extend from the substrate 202 to a particular distance and/or at a particular angle needed to completely shade each pixel 214 when a light source (e.g., the sun) is at a certain position (e.g., ten degrees off vertical). In the present example, the louvers 208 extend the entire length of the substrate 202, but it is understood that other louver configurations may be used.

Referring specifically to FIG. 2B, one embodiment of the panel 200 illustrates a housing 220. The housing 220 contains circuitry 222 and a power supply 224. The circuitry 222 is coupled to the LEDs 216 and is used to control the LEDs. The power supply 224 provides power to the LEDs 216 and circuitry 222. As will be described later in greater detail with respect to two embodiments of the panel 200, data and/or power may be received for only the panel 200 or may be passed on to one or more other panels as well. Accordingly, the circuitry 222 and/or power supply 224 may be configured to pass data and/or power to other panels in some embodiments.

In the present example, the housing 220 is sealed to prevent water from entering the housing. For example, the housing 220 may be sealed to have an ingress protection (IP) rating such as IP67, which defines a level of protection against both solid particles and liquid. This ensures that the panel 200 can be mounted in inclement weather situations without being adversely affected. In such embodiments, the cooling is passive as there are no vent openings for air intakes or exhausts.

Referring specifically to FIG. 2C, one embodiment of the panel 200 illustrates how the power supply 224 may be thermally coupled to the housing 220 via a thermally conductive material 226 (e.g., aluminum). This configuration may be particularly relevant in embodiments where the panel 200 is sealed and cooling is passive.

Referring to FIGS. 3A-3I, one embodiment of a housing 300 is illustrated that may be used with one of the LED panels 104a-104t of FIGS. 1A and 1B. For example, the housing 300 may be a more specific example of the housing 220 of FIG. 2B. In FIGS. 3B-3I, the housing 300 is shown with an alignment plate, which may be separate from the housing 300 or formed as part of the housing 300. In the present example, the housing 300 may be made of a thermally conductive material (e.g., aluminum) that is relatively light weight and rigid.

As shown in the orthogonal view of FIG. 3A, the housing 300 defines a cavity 302. Structural cross-members 304 and 306 may be used to provide support to a substrate (e.g., the substrate 202 of FIG. 2A) (not shown). The cross-members 304 and 306, as well as other areas of the housing 300, may include supports 308 against which the substrate can rest when placed into position. As shown, the supports 308 may include a relatively narrow tip section that can be inserted into a receiving hole in the back of the substrate and then a wider section against which the substrate can rest.

The housing 300 may also include multiple extensions 310 (e.g., sleeves) that provide screw holes or locations for captive screws that can be used to couple the substrate to the housing 300. Other extensions 312 may be configured to receive pins or other protrusions from a locking plate and/or fasteners, which will be described later in greater detail. Some or all of the extensions 312 may be accessible only from the rear side of the housing 300 and so are not shown as openings in FIG. 3A.

As shown in FIG. 3B, an alignment plate 314 may be used with the housing 300. The alignment plate 314 aids in aligning multiple panels on the frame 106 to ensure that the resulting display surface has correctly aligned pixels both horizontally and vertically. To accomplish this, the alignment plate 314 includes tabs 316 and slots 318 (FIG. 3F). Each tab 316 fits into the slot 318 of an adjoining alignment plate (if present) and each slot 318 receives a tab from an adjoining alignment plate (if present). This provides an interlocking series of alignment plates. As each alignment plate 314 is coupled to or part of a housing 300, this results in correctly aligning the panels on the frame 106.

It is understood that, in some embodiments, the alignment plate 314 may be formed as part of the panel or the alignment functionality provided by the alignment plate 314 may be achieved in other ways. In still other embodiments, a single alignment panel 314 may be formed to receive multiple panels, rather than a single panel as shown in FIG. 3B.

As shown in FIG. 3C, the housing 300 may include beveled or otherwise non-squared edges 320. This shaping of the edges enables panels to be positioned in a curved display without having large gaps appear as would occur if the edges were squared.

Referring to FIGS. 4A and 4B, one embodiment of a panel 400 is illustrated that may be similar or identical to one of the LED panels 104a-104t of FIGS. 1A and 1B. The panel 400 may be based on a housing 401 that is similar or identical to the housing 300 of FIG. 3A. FIG. 4A illustrates a back view of the panel 400 and FIG. 4B illustrates a top view. The panel 400 has a width W and a height H.

In the present example, the back includes a number of connection points that include a “power in” point 402, a “data in” point 404, a main “data out” point 406, multiple slave data points 408, and a “power out” point 410. The power in point 402 enables the panel 400 to receive power from a power source, which may be another panel. The data in point 404 enables the panel to receive data from a data source, which may be another panel. The main data out point 406 enables the panel 400 to send data to another main panel. The multiple slave data points 408, which are bi-directional in this example, enable the panel 400 to send data to one or more slave panels and to receive data from those slave panels. In some embodiments, the main data out point 406 and the slave data out points 408 may be combined. The power out point 410 enables the panel 400 to send power to another panel.

The connection points may be provided in various ways. For example, in one embodiment, the connection points may be jacks configured to receive corresponding plugs. In another embodiment, a cable may extend from the back panel with a connector (e.g., a jack or plug) affixed to the external end of the cable to provide an interface for another connector. It is understood that the connection points may be positioned and organized in many different ways.

Inside the panel, the power in point 402 and power out point 410 may be coupled to circuitry (not shown) as well as to a power supply. For example, the power in point 402 and power out point 410 may be coupled to the circuitry 222 of FIG. 2B, as well as to the power supply 224. In such embodiments, the circuitry 222 may aid in regulating the reception and transmission of power. In other embodiments, the power in point 402 and power out point 410 may by coupled only to the power supply 224 with a pass through power connection allowing some of the received power to be passed from the power in point 402 to the power out point 410.

The data in point 404, main data out point 406, and slave data out panels 408 may be coupled to the circuitry 222. The circuitry 222 may aid in regulating the reception and transmission of the data. In some embodiments, the circuitry 222 may identify data used for the panel 400 and also send all data on to other coupled main and slave panels via the main data out point 406 and slave data out points 408, respectively. In such embodiments, the other main and slave panels would then identify the information relevant to that particular panel from the data. In other embodiments, the circuitry 222 may remove the data needed for the panel 400 and selectively send data on to other coupled main and slave panels via the main data out point 406 and slave data out points 408, respectively. For example, the circuitry 222 may send only data corresponding to a particular slave panel to that slave panel rather than sending all data and letting the slave panel identify the corresponding data.

The back panel also has coupling points 412 and 414. In the example where the housing is supplied by the housing 300 of FIG. 3A, the coupling points 412 and 414 may correspond to extensions 310 and 312, respectively.

Referring specifically to FIG. 4B, a top view of the panel 400 illustrates three sections of the housing 401. The first section 416 includes the LEDs (not shown) and louvers 418. The second section 420 and third section 422 may be used to house the circuitry 222 and power supply 224. In the present example, the third section 422 is an extended section that may exist on main panels, but not slave panels, due to extra components needed by a main panel to distribute data. Depths D1, D2, and D3 correspond to sections 416, 420, and 422, respectively.

Referring to FIG. 5, one embodiment of a panel 500 is illustrated that may be similar or identical to the panel 400 of FIG. 4A with the exception of a change in the slave data points 408. In the embodiment of FIG. 4A, the slave data points 408 are bi-directional connection points. In the present embodiment, separate slave “data in” points 502 and slave “data out” points 504 are provided.

Referring to FIGS. 6A and 6B, one embodiment of a panel 600 is illustrated that may be similar or identical to the panel 400 of FIG. 4A except that the panel 600 is a slave panel. FIG. 6A illustrates a back view of the panel 600 and FIG. 6B illustrates a top view. The panel 400 has a width W and a height H. In the present embodiment, these are identical to the width W and height H of the panel 400 of FIG. 4A. In contrast to the main panel of FIG. 4A, the back of the slave panel 600 has a more limited number of connection points that include a “power in” point 602, a data point 604, and a “power out” point 606. The power in point 602 enables the panel 600 to receive power from a power source, which may be another panel. The data point 604 enables the panel to receive data from a data source, which may be another panel. The power out point 606 enables the panel 600 to send power to another main panel. In the present example, the data point 604 is bi-directional, which corresponds to the main panel configuration illustrated in FIG. 4A. The back panel also has coupling points 608 and 610, which correspond to coupling points 412 and 414, respectively, of FIG. 4A.

Referring specifically to FIG. 6B, a top view of the panel 600 illustrates two sections of the housing 601. The first section 612 includes the LEDs (not shown) and louvers 614. The second section 616 may be used to house the circuitry 222 and power supply 224. In the present example, the extended section provided by the third section 422 of FIG. 4A is not needed as the panel 600 does not pass data on to other panels. Depths D1 and D2 correspond to sections 612 and 616, respectively. In the present embodiment, depths D1 and D2 are identical to depths D1 and D2 of the panel 400 of FIG. 4B.

It is noted that the similarity in size of the panels 400 of FIG. 4A and the panel 600 of FIG. 6A enables the panels to be interchanged as needed. More specifically, as main panels and slave panels have an identical footprint in terms of height H, width W, and depth D1, their position on the frame 106 of FIGS. 1A and 1B does not matter from a size standpoint, but only from a functionality standpoint. Accordingly, the display 100 can be designed as desired using main panels and slave panels without the need to be concerned with how a particular panel will physically fit into a position on the frame. The design may then focus on issues such as the required functionality (e.g., whether a main panel is needed or a slave panel is sufficient) for a particular position and/or other issues such as weight and cost.

In some embodiments, the main panel 400 of FIG. 4A may weigh more than the slave panel 600 due to the additional components present in the main panel 400. The additional components may also make the main panel 400 more expensive to produce than the slave panel 600. Therefore, a display that uses as many slave panels as possible while still meeting required criteria will generally cost less and weigh less than a display that uses more main panels.

Referring to FIG. 7, one embodiment of a panel 700 is illustrated that may be similar or identical to the panel 600 of FIG. 6A with the exception of a change in the data point 604. In the embodiment of FIG. 6A, the data point 604 is a bi-directional connection. In the present embodiment, a separate “data out” point 702 and a “data in” point 704 are provided, which corresponds to the main panel configuration illustrated in FIG. 5.

Referring to FIGS. 8A-8M, embodiments of a frame 800 are illustrated. For example, the frame 800 may provide a more detailed embodiment of the frame 106 of FIG. 1B. As described previously, LED panels, such as the panels 104a-104t of FIGS. 1A and 1B, may be mounted directly to the frame 800. Accordingly, the frame 800 does not need to be designed to support heavy cabinets, but need only be able to support the panels 104a-104t and associated cabling (e.g., power and data cables), and the frame 800 may be lighter than conventional frames that have to support cabinet based structures. For purposes of example, various references may be made to the panel 200 of FIG. 2A, the housing 300 of FIG. 3A, and the panel 400 of FIG. 4A.

In the present example, the frame 800 is designed to support LED panels 802 in a configuration that is ten panels high and thirty-two panels wide. While the size of the panels 802 may vary, in the current embodiment this provides a display surface that is approximately fifty feet and four inches wide (50′ 4″) and fifteen feet and eight and three-quarters inches high (15′ 8.75″).

It is understood that all measurements and materials described with respect to FIGS. 8A-8M are for purposes of example only and are not intended to be limiting. Accordingly, many different lengths, heights, thicknesses, and other dimensional and/or material changes may be made to the embodiments of FIGS. 8A-8M.

Referring specifically to FIG. 8B, a back view of the frame 800 is illustrated. The frame 800 includes a top bar 804, a bottom bar 806, a left bar 808, a right bar 810, and multiple vertical bars 812 that connect the top bar 804 and bottom bar 806. In some embodiments, additional horizontal bars 814 may be present.

The frame 800 may be constructed of various materials, including metals. For example, the top bar 804, the bottom bar 806, the left bar 808, and the right bar 810 (e.g., the perimeter bars) may be made using a four inch aluminum association standard channel capable of bearing 1.738 lb/ft. The vertical bars 812 may be made using 2″×4″×½″ aluminum tube capable of bearing a load of 3.23 lb/ft.

It is understood that these sizes and load bearing capacities are for purposes of illustration and are not intended to be limiting. However, conventional steel display frames needed to support conventional cabinet-based displays are typically much heavier than the frame 800, which would likely not be strong enough to support a traditional cabinet-based display. For example, the frame 800 combined with the panels described herein may weigh at least fifty percent less than equivalent steel cabinet-based displays.

Referring to FIG. 8C, a cutaway view of the frame 800 of FIG. 8B taken along lines A1-A1 is illustrated. The horizontal bars 810 are more clearly visible. More detailed views of FIG. 8C are described below.

Referring to FIG. 8D, a more detailed view of the frame 800 of FIG. 8C at location B1 is illustrated. The cutaway view shows the top bar 804 and a vertical bar 812. A first flat bar 816 may be used with multiple fasteners 818 to couple the top bar 804 to the vertical bar 812 at the back of the frame 800. A second flat bar 820 may be used with fasteners 821 to couple the top bar 804 to the vertical bar 812 at the front of the frame 800. A front plate 902 belonging to a coupling mechanism 900 (described below with respect to FIG. 9A) is illustrated. The second flat bar 820 may replace a back plate of the coupling mechanism 900. In embodiments where the second flat bar 820 replaces the back plate, the second flat bar 820 may include one or more holes to provide accessibility to fasteners of the coupling mechanism 900.

Referring to FIGS. 8E-8G, various more detailed views of the frame 800 of FIG. 8C are illustrated. FIG. 8E provides a more detailed view of the frame 800 of FIG. 8C at location B2. FIG. 8F provides a cutaway view of the frame 800 of FIG. 8E taken along lines C1-C1. FIG. 8G provides a cutaway view of the frame 800 of FIG. 8E taken along lines C2-C2.

A clip 822 may be coupled to a vertical bar 812 via one or more fasteners 824 and to the horizontal bar 814 via one or more fasteners 824. In the present example, the clip 822 is positioned above the horizontal bar 814, but it is understood that the clip 822 may be positioned below the horizontal bar 814 in other embodiments. In still other embodiments, the clip 822 may be placed partially inside the horizontal bar 814 (e.g., a portion of the clip 822 may be placed through a slot or other opening in the horizontal bar 814).

Referring to FIGS. 8H and 8I, various more detailed views of the frame 800 of FIG. 8C are illustrated. FIG. 8H provides a more detailed view of the frame 800 of FIG. 8C at location B3. FIG. 8I provides a cutaway view of the frame 800 of FIG. 8H taken along lines D1-D1.

The cutaway view shows the bottom bar 806 and a vertical bar 812. A first flat bar 826 may be used with multiple fasteners 828 to couple the bottom bar 806 to the vertical bar 812 at the back of the frame 800. A second flat bar 830 may be used with fasteners 832 to couple the bottom bar 806 to the vertical bar 812 at the front of the frame 800. A front plate 902 belonging to a coupling mechanism 900 (described below with respect to FIG. 9A) is illustrated. The second flat bar 830 may replace a back plate of the coupling mechanism 900. In embodiments where the second flat bar 830 replaces the back plate, the second flat bar 830 may include one or more holes to provide accessibility to fasteners of the coupling mechanism 900.

Referring to FIGS. 8J and 8K, various more detailed views of the frame 800 of FIG. 8A are illustrated. FIG. 8H provides a more detailed view of the frame 800 of FIG. 8B at location A2. FIG. 8K provides a cutaway view of the frame 800 of FIG. 8J taken along lines E1-E1. The two views show the bottom bar 806 and the left bar 808. A clip 834 may be used with multiple fasteners 836 to couple the bottom bar 806 to the left bar 808 at the corner of the frame 800.

Referring to FIGS. 8L and 8M, an alternative embodiment to FIG. 8E is illustrated. FIG. 8L provides a more detailed view of the frame 800 in the alternate embodiment. FIG. 8M provides a cutaway view of the frame 800 of FIG. 8L taken along lines F1-F1. In this embodiment, rather than using a horizontal bar 814, a vertical bar 812 is coupled directly to a beam 840 using a clip 838.

Referring to FIGS. 9A-9C, one embodiment of a coupling mechanism 900 is illustrated that may be used to attach an LED panel (e.g., one of the panels 104a-104t of FIGS. 1A and 1B) to a frame (e.g., the frame 106 or the frame 800 of FIGS. 8A and 8B). For purposes of example, the coupling mechanism 900 is described as attaching the panel 200 of FIG. 2A to the frame 800 of FIG. 8B. In the present example, a single coupling mechanism 900 may attach up to four panels to the frame 800. To accomplish this, the coupling mechanism 900 is positioned where the corners of four panels meet.

The coupling mechanism 900 includes a front plate 902 and a back plate 904. The front plate 902 has an outer surface 906 that faces the back of a panel and an inner surface 908 that faces the frame 106. The front plate 902 may include a center hole 910 and holes 912. The center hole 910 may be countersunk relative to the outer surface 906 to allow a bolt head to sit at or below the outer surface 906. Mounting pins 914 may extend from the outer surface 906. The back plate 904 has an outer surface 916 that faces away from the frame 106 and an inner surface 918 that faces the frame 106. The back plate 904 includes a center hole 920 and holes 922.

In operation, the front plate 902 and back plate 904 are mounted on opposite sides of one of the vertical bars 808, 810, or 812 with the front plate 902 mounted on the panel side of the frame 800 and the back plate 904 mounted on the back side of the frame 800. For purposes of example, a vertical bar 812 will be used. When mounted in this manner, the inner surface 908 of the front plate 902 and the inner surface 918 of the back plate 904 face one another. A fastener (e.g., a bolt) may be placed through the center hole 910 of the front plate 902, through a hole in the vertical bar 812 of the frame 800, and through the center hole 920 of the back plate 904. This secures the front plate 902 and back plate 904 to the frame 800 with the mounting pins 914 extending away from the frame.

Using the housing 300 of FIG. 3A as an example, a panel is aligned on the frame 800 by inserting the appropriate mounting pin 914 into one of the holes in the back of the housing 300 provided by an extension 310/312. It is understood that this occurs at each corner of the panel, so that the panel will be aligned with the frame 800 using four mounting pins 914 that correspond to four different coupling mechanisms 900. It is noted that the pins 914 illustrated in FIG. 9C are horizontally aligned with the holes 912, while the extensions illustrated in FIG. 3A are vertically aligned. As described previously, these are alternate embodiments and it is understood that the holes 912/pins 914 and extensions 310/312 should have a matching orientation and spacing.

Once in position, a fastener is inserted through the hole 922 of the back plate 904, through the corresponding hole 912 of the front plate 902, and into a threaded hole provided by an extension 310/312 in the panel 300. This secures the panel to the frame 800. It is understood that this occurs at each corner of the panel, so that the panel will be secured to the frame 800 using four different coupling mechanisms 900. Accordingly, to attach or remove a panel, only four fasteners need be manipulated. The coupling mechanism 900 can remain in place to support up to three other panels.

More precise alignment may be provided by using an alignment plate, such as the alignment plate 314 of FIG. 3B, with each panel. For example, while positioning the panel and prior to tightening the coupling mechanism 900, the tabs 316 of the alignment plate 314 for that panel may be inserted into slots 318 in surrounding alignment plates. The coupling mechanism 900 may then be tightened to secure the panel into place.

It is understood that many different configurations may be used for the coupling mechanism 400. For example, the locations of holes and/or pins may be moved, more or fewer holes and/or pins may be provided, and other modifications may be made. It is further understood that many different coupling mechanisms may be used to attach an panel to the frame 106. Such coupling mechanisms may use bolts, screws, latches, clips, and/or any other fastener suitable for removably attaching a panel to the frame 800.

Referring to FIGS. 10A and 10B, one embodiment of a 13×22 panel display 1000 is illustrated that includes two hundred and eighty-six panels arranged in thirteen rows and twenty-two columns. For purposes of example, the display 1000 uses the previously described main panel 400 of FIG. 4A (a ‘B’ panel) and the slave panel 600 of FIG. 6A (a ‘C’ panel). As described previously, these panels have a bi-directional input/output connection point for data communications between the main panel and the slave panels. The rows are divided into two sections with the top section having seven rows and the bottom section having six rows. The B panels form the fourth row of each section and the remaining rows are C panels. FIGS. 10C and 10D provide enlarged views of a portion of FIGS. 10A and 10B, respectively.

As illustrated in FIG. 10A, power (e.g., 220V single phase) is provided to the top section via seven breakers (e.g., twenty amp breakers), with a breaker assigned to each of the seven rows. Power is provided to the bottom section via six breakers, with a breaker assigned to each of the six rows. In the present example, the power is provided in a serial manner along a row, with power provided to the first column panel via the power source, to the second column panel via the first panel, to the third column panel via the second panel, and so on for the entire row. Accordingly, if a panel is removed or the power for a panel is unplugged, the remainder of the panels in the row will lose power.

As illustrated in FIG. 10B, data is sent from a data source 1002 (e.g., a computer) to the top section via one line and to the bottom section via another line. In some embodiments, as illustrated, the data lines may be connected to provide a loop. In the present example, the data is provided to the B panels that form the fourth row of each section. The B panels in the fourth row feed the data both vertically along the column and in a serial manner along the row. For example, the B panel at row four, column two (r4:c2), sends data to the C panels in rows one, two, three, five, six, and seven of column two (r1-3:c2 and r5-7:c2), as well as to the B panel at row four, column three (r4:c3). Accordingly, if a B panel in row four is removed or the data cables are unplugged, the remainder of the panels in the column fed by that panel will lose their data connection. The next columns will also lose their data connections unless the loop allows data to reach them in the opposite direction.

It is understood that the data lines may be bi-directional. In some embodiments, an input line and an output line may be provided, rather than a single bi-directional line as illustrated in FIGS. 10A and 10B. In such embodiments, the panels may be configured with additional input and/or output connections. An example of this is provided below in FIGS. 11A and 11B.

Referring to FIGS. 11A and 11B, one embodiment of a 16×18 panel display 1100 is illustrated that includes two hundred and eighty-eight panels arranged in sixteen rows and eighteen columns. For purposes of example, the display 1100 uses the previously described main panel 500 of FIG. 5 (a ‘B’ panel) and the slave panel 700 of FIG. 7 (a ‘C’ panel). As described previously, these panels have separate input and outpoint connection points for data communications between the main panel and the slave panels. FIGS. 11C and 11D provide enlarged views of a portion of FIGS. 11A and 11B, respectively.

As illustrated in FIG. 11A, power is provided from a power source directly to the first column panel and the tenth column panel of each row via a power line connected to a single 110V, 20 Å breaker. Those panels then feed the power along the rows in a serial manner. For example, the power is provided to the first column panel via the power source, to the second column panel via the first panel, to the third column panel via the second panel, and so on until the ninth column panel is reached for that row. The ninth column panel does not feed power to another panel because power is provided directly to the tenth column panel via the power source. Power is then provided to the eleventh column panel via the tenth panel, to the twelfth column panel via the eleventh panel, and so on until the end of the row is reached. Accordingly, if a panel is removed or the power for a panel is unplugged, the remainder of the panels in the row that rely on that panel for power will lose power.

Although not shown in FIG. 11B, the panels of the display 1100 may be divided into two sections for data purposes as illustrated previously with respect to FIG. 10B. Accordingly, as illustrated in FIG. 10B, data may be sent from a data source (e.g., a computer) to a top section via one line and to a bottom section via another line. As the present example illustrates the use of separate input and outpoint connection points for data communications between the main panel and the slave panels, data connections between B panels have been omitted for purposes of clarity.

In the present example, the data is provided to the B panels that form the fourth row of each section. The B panels in the fourth row feed the data both vertically along the column and in a serial manner along the row (as shown in FIG. 10B). For example, the B panel at row four, column two (r4:c2), sends data to the C panels in rows one, two, three, five, six, seven, and eight of column two (r1-3:c2 and r5-8:c2), as well as to the B panel at row four, column three (r4:c3). Accordingly, if a B panel in row four is removed or the data cables are unplugged, the remainder of the panels in the column fed by that panel will lose their data connection. The next columns will also lose their data connections unless the loop allows data to reach them in the opposite direction.

Referring to FIGS. 12A and 12B, one embodiment of a 19×10 panel two face display 1100 is illustrated that includes three hundred and eighty panels arranged in two displays of nineteen rows and ten columns. For purposes of example, the display 1100 uses the previously described main panel 500 of FIG. 5 (a ‘B’ panel) and the slave panel 700 of FIG. 7 (a ‘C’ panel). As described previously, these panels have separate input and outpoint connection points for data communications between the main panel and the slave panels. FIGS. 12C and 12D provide enlarged views of a portion of FIGS. 12A and 12B, respectively.

As illustrated in FIG. 12A, power is provided from a power source directly to the first column panel of each face via a power line connected to a single 110V, 20 Å breaker. Those panels then feed the power along the rows in a serial manner. For example, the power is provided to the first column panel of the first face via the power source, to the second column panel via the first panel, to the third column panel via the second panel, and so on until the last panel is reached for that row of that face. The tenth column panel does not feed power to the next face because power is provided directly to the first column of the second face via the power source. Power is then provided to the second column panel via the first panel, to the third column panel via the second panel, and so on until the last panel is reached for that row of that face. Accordingly, if a panel is removed or the power for a panel is unplugged, the remainder of the panels in the row that rely on that panel for power will lose power.

Although not shown in FIG. 12B, the panels of the display 1200 may be divided into three sections for data purposes as illustrated previously with respect to FIG. 10B. Accordingly, as illustrated in FIG. 10B, data may be sent from a data source (e.g., a computer) to the top section via one line, to a middle section via a second line, and to a bottom section via a third line.

As the present example illustrates the use of separate input and outpoint connection points for data communications between the main panel and the slave panels, data connections between B panels have been omitted for purposes of clarity. However, a separate line may be run to the B panels in the first column of each face (which would require six lines in FIG. 12B), or the B panel in the last column of a row of one face may pass data to the B panel in the first column of a row of the next face (which would require three lines in FIG. 12B).

In the present example, the data is provided to the B panels that form the fourth row of each section. The B panels in the fourth row feed the data both vertically along the column and in a serial manner along the row (as shown in FIG. 10B). For example, the B panel at row four, column two (r4:c2), sends data to the C panels in rows one, two, three, five, and six of column two (r1-3:c2 and r5-6:c2), as well as to the B panel at row four, column three (r4:c3). Accordingly, if a B panel in row four is removed or the data cables are unplugged, the remainder of the panels in the column fed by that panel will lose their data connection. The next columns will also lose their data connections unless the loop allows data to reach them in the opposite direction.

Although the preferred embodiment has been described in detail, it should be understood that various changes, substitutions and alterations can be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.





 
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