Skylight With Manual Closing Feature

Abstract:

A skylight or roof hatch that is manually opened and closed. The skylight is formed of a window mounted to a casing frame by way of one or more hinges, which allows the window to open and close. One or more gas springs mounted between the window and casing frame are configured to exert force against the inside of the window. The gas springs are used to urge the window into an open position. Once in the open position, the window is closed by overcoming the biasing force exerted by the gas springs. This is achieved by winding in a cable that is connected to the window. A single pulley wheel that is mechanically linked to other mechanical elements is utilized to spool in the cable connected to the window in order to close the window and to unlock a reel lock to allow for automatic opening of the window.


Publication Number: US20190169850

Publication Date: 2019-06-06

Application Number: 16266908

Applicant Date: 2019-02-04

International Class:

    E04D 13/035

    E05F 11/04

    E05F 1/10

    E05F 15/00

    B65H 75/44

Inventors: Nachman Deutsch

Inventors Address: Hillburn,NY,US

Applicators: Deutsch

Applicators Address: chman

Assignee:


Claims:

1) A reel lock system, comprising:a cable reel,the cable reel comprising a first face plate and a second face plate, the first face plate having an inside surface and an outside surface, the second face plate having an inside surface and an outside surface;a spooling drum disposed between the inside surface of the first face plate and the inside surface of the second face plate;a hub bushing disposed on the outside surface of the first face plate;a one-way clutch bearing surrounding the hub bushing;the one-way clutch bearing having an inner ring, an outer ring and a middle annular region disposed between the inner ring and the outer ring, the middle annular region comprising a one-way movement mechanism;the inner ring rotatable in a first direction with respect to the outer ring;the outer ring rotatable in a second direction with respect to the inner ring;the inner ring attached to the hub bushing;a grooved wheel having an annular internal circumference and a jagged external circumference, the jagged circumference comprising grooves, the annular internal circumference surrounding the outer ring and being connected thereto;a lever having a lever segment that is insertable into any of the grooves on the external circumference of the grooved wheel;the lever being pivotable, whereby the lever pivots in a first direction to insert the lever segment into any one of the grooves, the lever pivots in a second direction to withdraw the lever segment from any one of the grooves;whereby when the lever segment of the lever is inserted into any one of the grooves, the grooved wheel is blocked of rotational movement, whereby when the grooved wheel is blocked of rotational movement, the outer ring is blocked of rotational movement and the inner ring is free to rotate in the first direction with respect to the outer ring.

2) A system for lateral movement of a disc, comprising:an axle, said axle having a curved groove therein, the curved groove comprising side walls;the curved groove comprising a proximal end a distal end;the distal end of the curved groove comprising an end wall;a disc having an annular edge and an inner lumen;the disc comprising a rider extending into the lumen;the disc mounted on the axle, whereby the rider inserts to the curved groove;the disc rotatable in a first direction and a second direction;whereby, when said disc rotates in the first direction, the rider travels from a proximal end of the curved groove to a distal end of the curved groove, thereby moving the disc laterally in space.

3) A control unit for manually controlling opening and closing of a hinged panel, said control unit comprising:a first axle;a pulley wheel having a chain wrapped around a segment thereof mounted on said first axle;a first sprocket wheel mechanically linked to said pulley wheel;a second axle;a second sprocket wheel and a third sprocket wheel mounted on said second axle;a cable reel mounted on said second axle;a cable extending from said cable reel, a section of said cable being in contact with said hinged panel;a chain engaged with said first sprocket wheel and said second sprocket wheel;said second sprocket wheel being rotatable about an axis thereof, said second sprocket wheel being movable in a first lateral plane and a second lateral plane;said pulley wheel being mechanically linked to said first sprocket wheel to rotate said first sprocket wheel in a first direction, whereby when said sprocket wheel is rotated in said first direction, said first sprocket wheel rotates said second sprocket wheel is said first direction, whereby when said second sprocket wheel rotates in said first direction, said second sprocket wheel contacts said cable reel and rotates said cable reel in a first direction, and when said pulley wheel is rotated in a second direction, said second sprocket rotates about an axis thereof in said second direction and also move laterally, whereby lateral movement of said second sprocket reel causes said hinged panel to open through a series of mechanical linkages.

4) The control unit of claim 3, whereby said first sprocket wheel is mounted on said first axle.

5) The control unit of claim 3, whereby rotation of said cable reel in said first direction cause said cable to wrap around a drum of said cable reel.

6) The control unit of claim 3, further comprising a cable reel lock, said cable reel lock locking said cable reel from rotating in said second direction and allowing said cable reel to rotate in said first direction.

Descriptions:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The current invention relates to the field of skylights and roof hatches, more specifically to a skylight that allows for controlled incremental manual opening and closing.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Skylights are becoming increasingly popular in homes and businesses. Some skylights are large and heavy and, as a result, they cannot be opened and closed using manual strength. Mechanical assistance is required to open and close these heavy skylights. To that end, many such skylights are operated by hydraulics or air/gas pressure. For example, skylights may be powered by an air compressor which pumps air to move an arm in order to open the skylight and it releases air to lower the arm.

One problem with prior systems of opening and closing such skylights is that they require electric power. Thus, if there is a blackout or shortage in electrical power supplythe skylights cannot be operated. This can be especially troublesome in the event that a large skylight is open and then power is lostpotentially putting a homeowner at risk of his/her house becoming flooded by rain or snow. Moreover, in order to operate skylights with hydraulics or air compressionhoses must be run from a compressor unit to the skylight. It requires extensive work to run hoses from a compressor that is usually housed in a basement to the skylight unit. Such efforts are even more difficult when attempting to retrofit an existing structure with a skylight, and the hoses and switches must be buried inside existing finished wall surfaces. Still further, a homeowner or business owner may want to install a skylight in an area that is outside the range of an electric power source.

The invention described herein addresses the need for a large-sized skylight or roof hatch that is operated by manually controlled mechanical elements without the need of electricity.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The skylight described herein has attached gas springs that are used to open the window. The gas springs bias the window toward an open position, such that when the biasing force becomes unopposed by a counter forcethe window is forced open. A cable that is wound around a cable reel provides opposing force to keep the window closed.

Once the window is open, the cable reel is turned several rotations to wind the cable and incrementally close the window. Winding the cable around the reel overcomes the biasing force created by the gas springs and doing so closes the window.

A chain attached to a pulley wheel is used to open and close the window through associated mechanical linkages. When the pulley wheel is rotated in one direction, associated mechanical linkages release the cable reel allowing for the window to open. When the pulley wheel is rotated in the opposite direction, the connected cable reel is turned to wind the cable around the cable reel and thereby force the window closed.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGSFIG. 1 is a side perspective view of a skylight opened at a right angle according to an embodiment of the invention.FIG. 1A is a side perspective view of a skylight in the process of being closed according to an embodiment of the invention.FIG. 2 is a top perspective view of a skylight manual control unit according to an embodiment of the invention.FIG. 3 is an enlarged front view of a cable reel, sprocket wheels and other mechanical components mounted on an axle according to an embodiment of the invention.FIG. 4 is a side view of a cable reel mounted on an axle according to an embodiment of the invention.FIG. 5 is an exploded side perspective view of a left side plate of a cable reel and associated attachment rings according to an embodiment of the invention.FIG. 6 is a partial cross sectional view of a reel locking system according to an embodiment of the invention.FIG. 7 is a rear view of a manual control unit according to an embodiment of the invention.FIG. 8 is a side view of an axle for mounting a cable reel and other mechanical components according to an embodiment of the invention.FIG. 9 is a left perspective side view of a sprocket wheel and associated disc with riders inserted into a helical groove provided on an axle according to an embodiment of the invention.FIG. 10 is an exploded perspective view of a sprocket wheel and associated disc with pins inserting into a lumen thereof according to an embodiment of the invention.FIG. 11 is a side perspective view of a sprocket wheel and associated disc with riders inserted into the proximate opening of helical grooves according to an embodiment of the invention.FIG. 12 is a side perspective view of a sprocket wheel and associated disc with riders inserted into a distal area of helical grooves according to an embodiment of the invention.FIG. 13 is an exploded view of a wheel assembly having a one-way clutch bearing used to disengage a reel lock in an embodiment of the invention.FIG. 14 is a top plan view of the wheel assembly of FIG. 13 with its cover removed according to an embodiment of the invention.FIG. 15 is an exploded view of a damper system according to an embodiment of the invention.FIG. 16 is a top perspective view of a manual control unit having a damper system as shown in FIG. 15 installed thereon according to an embodiment of the invention.FIG. 17 is a front view of a cable reel having a grooved inner track according to an embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The following is a detailed description of the preferred embodiments of the invention, reference being made to the drawings in which the same reference numerals identify the same elements of structure in each of the several figures. It should be noted that these drawings are merely exemplary in nature and in no way serve to limit the scope of the invention.

FIG. 1 shows a side, perspective view of a skylight unit 10. The unit is shown positioned in the orientation it would assume when installed in a roofwhere a window 12 opens away from a casing frame 14 and upwardly with respect to the roof. As shown, the skylight unit 10 has a substantially rectangular casing frame 14. The casing frame is made of panels or boards which have an inside surface 16 and an outside surface 18. For purposes of installation, outside surfaces 18 of the frame are brought into close proximity with a joist or similar support structure in the roof and screws are driven through the inside surface 16 of the frame 14 penetrating the same and joining the casing frame 14 to joiststhereby forming part of the roof structure.

A window 12 is attached via hinges to the casing frame 14. The window 12 is comprised of a structural frame or sash 22 and a glass pane 24 mounted within the frame 22 (the window frame/sash 22 and the glass pane 24 are collectively referred to as the window herein). At least two gas springs 26 are attached for applying a constant open biasing force to the inside of window 12. As shown, a first end 28 of the gas spring is pivotably attached to the window frame and a second end 30 of the gas spring is pivotably attached to the inner surface 16 of the casing frame 14. The maximum angle at which the window opens is determined by the length and angle of the gas springs.

It will be understood by those of ordinary skill in the art that any of various force exerting arms may be used in place of or in combination with gas springs. For example, pneumatic, hydraulic or any such similar force exerting mechanisms that apply constant force such that the window is biased to open are all within the teaching of the invention. Moreover, it will be understood that the invention herein is not limited to a window and any of various roof hatches, awnings, hurricane shutters, garage doors or similar hinged or tracked panels or objects are within the teaching of the invention. The term window herein refers to any such hinged/tracked panel or object.

In one embodiment of the invention, and as shown in FIG. 1, the window opens to substantially 90. When opening the window to a 90 angle, the window becomes locked in place when the gas springs 26 are fully extended. That is, in one direction (opening direction) the window cannot move past the limit of the gas springs 26 and in the reverse direction (closing direction) the window cannot overcome the biasing force of the gas springs 26which maintains the window in an open position. The only way to close the window is to apply a force in the closing direction that is strong enough to overcome the opposing force exerted by the gas springs 26.

A manual control unit 32 is mounted to the inside of the casing frame 14, which houses the mechanical components that are used to open and close the window. Manual control unit 32 is shown in secured to the lower right-corner of casing frame 14 in FIG. 1. Manual control unit 32 houses the mechanical parts to control the opening and closing of the window 12. A cable 48 which emanates from a cable reel 44 positioned in the control unit, is strung along the inner casing and contacts the inner window frame 22 at each longitudinal end thereof (through a series of pulley wheels not shown). When the cable reel is rotated, the cable winds around the drum thereof, generating a pulling or closing force on the window. Continued rotation of the cable reel causes incremental closing of the window. Because of the constant force applied to the window, when rotation of the cable reel is stopped, the window will remain in place at any point along its 90 range of movement. FIG. 1A shows a window in the process of closing. As shown, gas springs 26 support the window in place. Continued rotation of the cable reel will continue to draw the window down and ultimately close it completely.

FIG. 2 shows a top perspective view of the control unit 32. The control unit 32 shown in substantially the same orientation as it is positioned in FIG. 1. Control unit 32 has two substantially parallel platesa right plate 34 and a left plate 36 that are joined to together by supporting cross bars. For example, cross bar 38, fits into corresponding holes in respective parallel plates 34, 36 and is fastened therein.

A cable reel 44 is mounted onto the shaft of an axle 42 secured between the parallel plates 34, 36. The cable reel 44 has a right face plate 45 b a left face plate 45 a (each face plate having an inner and outer surface) and a spooling drum 46 disposed between respective inner surfaces of face plates 45 a , 45 b . Cable reel 44 is rotatable to wind cable 48 about the axis of spooling drum 46, which then pulls the window downward through a series of pulley wheels that attach cable 48 to the window 12. Force exerted by the cable reel 44 on the cable 48 by rotation thereof overcomes the force exerted by gas springs 26thereby closing the window when desired by a user.

FIG. 3 shows an enlarged front view of the cable reel 44 and other mechanical components that are mounted about the axis of axle 42. Axle 42 is shown protruding from the left side of cable reel 44. Several novel mechanical parts in accordance with the invention are mounted along the axis of the axle 42, which will be explained below.

When the window is in a closed position a sufficient length of cable 48 is wound around cable reel 44 so as to maintain pulling force against the window in order to keep the window aligned with frame 14. In such position, the cable 48 counteracts the opposing force of the gas springs 26, and it maintains the window in a closed position. A reel lock system is utilized to lock the cable reel 44 in place with the cable 48 wound around the drum 46 so as to prevent unintended unspooling and thereby unwanted opening of the window.

FIG. 4 is a left side view of the cable reel 44 showing some of the novel elements that make up the reel locking system. As shown, a grooved wheel 50 is mounted to the outside surface of left face plate 45 a of cable reel 44. Grooved wheel 50 communicates with the cable reel through a series of specialized rings.

FIG. 5 is an exploded view of the specialized rings. Grooved wheel 50, the outer most ring, has an annular internal circumference 52 and a jagged external circumference. The external circumference is formed of alternating jagged projections or teeth 54 which create pockets or grooves 56 between respective teeth 54. Grooved wheel 50 surrounds an intermediate ring 58. Intermediate ring 58 is a clutch bearing that is composed of two separate rings that each rotates in a single direction with respect to the other. As shown, intermediate ring 58 is a unitary ring that has three regionsan outer ring 60, an inner ring 62 and a middle annular region 66 between the inner and outer rings. Middle region 66 contains a one-way movement mechanism. As shown, inner ring 62 of intermediate ring 58 moves in the direction of arrow 64 (e.g. counterclockwise), but it cannot move in the opposite direction because of a ratchet gear or similar one-way track that is disposed between outer ring 60 and inner ring 62 (depicted as 66). Outer ring 60 rotates in a clockwise direction (i.e. in the direction of arrow 65which is opposite to the rotational direction of inner ring 64), but it cannot rotate in the opposite direction. As such, if outer ring 60 were locked in place then outer ring 60 will not be able to rotate at all and only inner ring 62 would be allowed to rotateand, importantly, in a single direction (i.e. in the direction of arrow 64).

Intermediate ring 58 surrounds a hub bushing 68. Hub bushing 68 is a ring or similar bushing that is connected to or integrally formed with side face plate 45 a of cable reel 44. Because hub bushing 68 is attached to cable reel 44a barrier or brake that secures hub bushing 68 in place would prevent the cable reel from rotating, whereas, removing the brake would allow the cable reel 44 to freely rotate.

Grooved wheel 50 is attached to intermediate ring 58, for example, by way of a connection block or key 70. Intermediate ring 58 is attached to hub bushing 68, for example, by way of key 72. Hub bushing 68 is affixed to the side face plate 45 a of cable reel 44 and axle 42 runs through the interior circumference thereof. Rotation of bushing hub 68 correspondingly rotates the attached cable reel 44and vice versa.

In operation, cable reel 44 is rotated in a counterclockwise manner (i.e. in the direction of arrow 74 shown in FIGS. 2, 3 and 4to the left in the orientation shown in FIG. 4) in order to wind the cable 48 around the spooling drum 46 of cable reel 44. (When viewing the control unit 32 from the left side (i.e. from the plane occupied by left plate 36as in the view shown in FIG. 4) any counterclockwise (or leftward) rotation of any wheel, sprocket or gear herein is defined as the spooling direction hereinafter and the clockwise (or rightward) rotation of any wheel is termed unspooling direction.) It should be noted that although the disclosure describes the spooling direction as counterclockwise and vice versa, in other embodiments of the invention, the spooling direction may be clockwise and the unspooling direction may be counterclockwise and the directions described herein are exemplary only. Thus, one object of the invention is to employ a system that allows cable reel 44 to freely rotate in the spooling direction (thereby allowing a user to pull down the window), yet is unable to rotate in the opposite, unspooling direction (thereby preventing unintended unspooling of the cable reel). The above-described series of rings 50, 58, 68 are integral parts of a reel locking system as set forth below.

FIG. 6 shows a reel locking system that prevents the cable reel 44 from rotating in the unspooling direction while the window is closed or is in the process of being closed. In one embodiment, as part of the locking system, a pivotable lever 76 or brake having a first end that is mounted on an axle, button 78 or similar pivot is mounted to left parallel plate 36. Such connection allows lever 76 to pivot upwardly (e.g. away from grooved wheel 50) and downwardly (e.g. toward grooved wheel 50). A finger-like projection 80 or similar lever segment protrudes from the bottom of lever 76. Projection 80 is sized and shaped to insert into respective grooves 56 on grooved wheel 50. The second end 81 of lever 76 is attached to a spring 82. Spring 82 has a first end 84 that is mounted to the inside surface of parallel plate 36 of the control unit 32. The second end of spring 82 has an attachment mechanism, such as a hook 86 for attaching to lever 76. Spring 82 provides constant bias against lever 76 so as to maintain projection 80 inserted in a groove 56 (as shown in FIG. 6). Projection 80 inserted in a groove 56, is a physical barrier to rotational movement of grooved wheel 50thus locking grooved wheel 50 in place. (The term lever and brake are used interchangeably herein.) In a preferred embodiment, brake 76 is mounted on the inside wall of left plate 36, but alternative placements or arrangements are possible in different embodiments of the invention.

As stated, when the brake is engaged so that projection 80 of lever 76 is inserted into a groove 56 on wheel 50grooved wheel 50 becomes locked in place and it is incapable of rotation. Wheel 50 directly surrounds and is attached to outer ring 60 of intermediate ring 58. As such, outer ring 60 also becomes locked in place when ring 50 is locked. Thus, only inner ring 62 of intermediate ring 58 is capable of rotation. That is, although outer ring 60 is locked in placeinner ring 62, which rotates in the opposite direction thereof is still capable of movement. Inner ring 62 directly surrounds and is attached to hub bushing 68. As such, hub bushing 68 and cable reel 44 attached thereto is capable of rotation in the same direction as inner ring 62i.e. in the spooling direction (as labeled in FIG. 4)but hub bushing 68 and cable reel 44 cannot rotate in the counter directioni.e. in the unspooling direction (because hub bushing 68 is attached to inner ring 62, and inner ring can only rotate in one direction because of one-way gear 66). That is, when the brake is engaged, the outer ring 60 of the intermediate ring 58 becomes locked in place (by wheel 50), leaving only the inner ring 62 to rotate in a leftward or counterclockwise direction. The attached bushing hub 68 (and the attached cable reel 44) is, thus, also capable of counterclockwise rotationbut not clockwise rotation. As a result, when the brake 76 is engaged, the cable reel 44 is able to rotate in the spooling direction to reel cable in (in order to close the window), but it is not capable of rotating in the opposite direction (the unspooling direction). This ensures that cable reel does not accidentally or unintentionally unwind while a user is reeling the window closed or thereafter.

When brake 76 is released (i.e. projection 80 is withdrawn from groove 56), the cable reel 44 becomes free to rotate in the unspooling direction. That is, once the brake 76 is disengaged, the grooved wheel 50 becomes unlocked and free to rotate. As such, when hub bushing 68 rotates in the unspooling direction (see unspooling arrow in FIG. 4), hub bushing 68 causes inner ring 62 to rotate accordingly, which, in turn causes the intermediate ring 58 and the attached grooved wheel 50 to rotate in the unspooling direction as one unit. That is, once the grooved track is not locked in place, when axle 42 and cable reel 44 rotate in an unspooling direction, hub busing 68, intermediate ring 58 and grooved wheel 50 rotate as one unit. That is, hub bushing 68 rotates in the unspooling direction (see arrow in FIG. 4); thus, bushing 68 bears against inner ring 62 of intermediate ring 58. Because the unspooling direction is the opposite of inner ring's 62 one-way movement, inner ring 62 will bear against one-way gear 66causing outer ring 60 and attached grooved wheel 50 to similarly rotate.

As will be explained in more detail below, disengaging the brake 76 causes the window to automatically open. That is, once cable reel 44 becomes free to move in the unspooling direction, the force exerted by the gas springs pushes the window opencausing the cable 48 to unspool from the spooling drum 46. To close the window, cable reel 44 is rotated in the spooling direction and as the cable length wraps around the drum of cable reel 44 it pulls in the windowovercoming the force of the gas springs.

In an embodiment of the invention, a single chain or similar cable is used to, both, open and close the window 12 by pulling the chain in alternate directions. With reference to FIG. 7, which is a rear view of the control unit 32, a chain 88 is shown wrapped around a segment of pulley wheel 90. Pulley wheel 90 is mounted on and attached to rear axle 92. Respective ends of axle 92 are anchored in respective apertures in parallel plates 34, 36. A rear sprocket wheel 94 also is mounted around the shaft of axle 92 which retains a chain 96 (the sprocket is largely obscured by chain 96). As such, the rotation of pulley wheel 90 causes corresponding rotation of rear sprocket wheel 94. Chain 96 extends to the front of the control unit where it is pulled around a front sprocket wheel 98 (as shown in FIG. 2). It will be understood by those of ordinary skill in the art that pulley wheel 90 may be rotated by any of various mechanical means, such as by any of various chains or poles that are mechanically linked to the pulley wheel 90.

It should be noted that chain 88 may be pulled at two different locations to effect different movement of the pulley wheel 90. That is, front chain length 88 a rotates the pulley in the spooling direction (direction of arrow 89e.g. counterclockwise) and pulling down on rear chain length 88 b causes pulley wheel 90 to rotate in the opposite direction (in the direction of arrow 91e.g. clockwise). As such, rotation of the pulley wheel 90 effected by a user pulling chain 88, rotates the rear sprocket wheel 94 which also is attached to the rear axle 92. Rotation of rear sprocket wheel 94, in turn, causes rotation of the front sprocket wheel 98 because of the chain 96 running between front and back sprocket wheels. The rotation of front sprocket wheel 98 controls the opening and closing of the window as will be explained with reference to FIG. 3. It will be understood that although embodiments of the invention disclose mechanical linkages by way of sprocket wheels and associated chainsany of various mechanical linkages are possible in different embodiments of the invention, all of which are within the teaching of the invention. For example, mechanical linkages from pulley wheel 90 to cable reel 44 (and other linkages described herein) may be in the form of wheel gears, discs and/or belts.

FIG. 3 shows an enlarged view of the front axle 42 and the mechanical elements mounted thereon. As shown, front sprocket wheel 98 is mounted around the shaft of front axle 42 (front sprocket wheel 98 is shown without the chain for purposes of clarity). A disc 100 or similar plate is mounted to the left face of front sprocket wheel 98 and a similar disc 102 is mounted to the outside surface of right face plate 45 b of cable reel 44. Respective discs 100, 102 are rounded protrusions having respective annular edges and faces 101, 103. An external surface 101 (also referred to as a face) of disc 100 faces an external surface 103 (also referred to as a face) of disc 102. The respective external surfaces 101, 103 are substantially parallel to one another and they each rotate with respective rotation of the sprocket wheel 98 and cable reel 44. Disc 100 has at least one nub or similar projection 104 extending from the external surface 101 thereof, and disc 102 has a similar nub or projection 106 extending from its external surface 103. Projection 104 has a flat surface 108 which is a contact surface and projection 106 has a similar flat contact surface 110. The discs 100 and 102 are oriented in a position in which respective contact surfaces 108, 110 face one another, and they are in such proximity where the respective contact surfaces 108, 110 share the same rotational trajectory. In one embodiment (best shown in FIGS. 9-12), three separate projections extending from face 101 contact three corresponding projections 106 on face 103.

When front sprocket wheel 98 is rotated in the spooling direction (direction of arrow 74 a ) attached disc 100 correspondingly moves in the spooling direction. Because contact surfaces 108, 110 face each other and they occupy the same rotational planecontact surface 108 of disc 100 contacts contact surface 110 of disc 102 when disc 100 is rotated and it thereby moves disc 102 and, consequently, the attached cable reel 44 in the spooling direction. As such, in order to close the window, a user pulls down on front chain length 88 a of chain 88 to cause rear sprocket wheel 94, and in turn, front sprocket wheel 98 to rotate in the spooling direction. Front sprocket wheel 98, in turn, causes cable reel 44 to rotate through mating discs 100, 102. As shown, a spring 105 contacts the right side of sprocket wheel 98 and biases sprocket wheel 98 toward cable reel 44 (i.e. leftward in the orientation shown). This maintains sprocket wheel 98 in contact with cable reel 44 during spooling of cable 48.

In order to close the window, a user pulls chain length 88 a until sufficient length of cable 48 is wound around the cable reel 44 to pull the window closed. It should be noted that a user may incrementally close the window. As described, because the brake 76 is engaged during closing of the windowat any increment at which a user stops closing the window, it will be secured in place because unspooling is prevented by the brake.

Once the window is closed, the brake 76 must be disengaged in order to open the window (as described above). To that end, the same chain 88 is used to open the window through associated linkages described below.

With reference to FIG. 7, when rear chain length 88 b is pulled downward, the associated pulley wheel 90 rotates in the direction counter to the spooling direction (in the direction of arrow 91). As such, rear sprocket wheel 94 and front sprocket wheel 98 similarly rotate in the unspooling direction. When front sprocket wheel 98 is rotated in the unspooling (in the direction of arrow 74 b in FIG. 3), front sprocket 98 moves laterallyin the direction away from cable reel 44 and toward right parallel plate 34. Such lateral movement is achieved as follows (with reference to FIGS. 8-12).

FIG. 8 shows a front view of axle 42. As shown axle 42 has a first shaft section 43 and a second section 47 of a larger circumference than that of shaft 43. Cable reel 44 is mounted on shaft section 43. Sprocket wheel 98 is mounted to disc 100such that sprocket wheel 98 moves laterally when disc 100 moves laterally.

As shown, a helical groove 112 is notched into second section 47 of axle 42. Helical groove 112 is a curved notch-out in axle section 47 that opens just to the right (in the orientation shown) of shaft section 43. Disc 100 is mounted on shaft section 47 through specialized posts and riders that project into and ride in helical groove 112 to achieve lateral movement of disc 100 and thereby, sprocket wheel 98. It should be noted that rear sprocket wheel 94, secondary front sprocket wheel 116 and elevated sprocket wheel 120 are fixed around an axle or pivot such that they are each capable of rotation about an axisbut they are not capable in a lateral direction. Front sprocket wheel 98, however, is not fixed around axle 42, but rather it is attached to disc 100. Disc 100, is mounted around a shaft section of axle 42, but not affixed thereto. As such, disc 100 and sprocket wheel 98 can move laterally in spacein addition to rotating about an axis.

FIG. 9 shows a left side view of disc 100 attached to sprocket wheel 98 having pins or riders 142 projecting into helical groove 112. When sprocket wheel 98 is rotated in the unspooling direction, the riders 142 ride into the helical groove 112 causing the disc 100 and sprocket wheel 98 to move laterally away from cable reel 44. This causes disc 100 to separate from disc 102 such that respective projections 104 and 106 cannot contact one anothereffectively disconnecting sprocket wheel 98 from cable reel 44. Sprocket wheel 98 moves laterally (through continued pulling of chain 88 in the direction of arrow 91 in FIG. 7) until the riders 142 reach the end wall 114 of the helical groove.

FIG. 10 shows an exploded view of disc 100, attached sprocket wheel 98, and mechanical connections for supporting and maintaining posts and riders that project into the lumen of disc 100. As shown, disc 100 is substantially donut-shaped having an annular edge or outside wall 130 and a lumen 131 defined by inner wall 132. A plurality of holes 134 are made in the outer wall 130 which extend to inner wall 132thereby creating respective channels from the outside wall 130 to the inside lumen 131 of disc 100. A top segment of holes 134 (i.e. segment closest to outer wall 130) is threaded so as to engage with a screw or such similar device.

As shown, a pin or post 136 is inserted into channel 134. Post 136 is maintained within channels 134, but a bottom segment thereof extends into lumen 131. A spring 138 is inserted atop of post 136, and a threaded screw 140 or similar cap is inserted atop of spring 138. Screw 140 is screwed into channel 134, and it bears against spring 138, which in turn bears against post 136. As such, post 136 remains biased into the lumen 131 of disc 100. Collars 142 (also referred to as riders) are mounted to the terminal ends of posts 136 which extend into the lumen 131 of disc 100. Collars 142 are generally cylindrical elements that are oriented substantially orthogonally to posts 136. Collars 142, which surround and capture the terminal ends of posts 136 are sized and shaped to insert into helical grooves 112. Rounded outer walls of riders 142 are sized and shaped to ride along side walls 113 of helical grooves. In an embodiment of the invention, a band 141 is installed surrounding the annular edge of disc 100 to ensure that screws 140 remain in channels 134.

Disc 100 is mounted on shaft section 47 with riders 142 inserting into helical grooves 112. FIG. 11 shows a left side view of disc 100 with riders 142 positioned at a proximal position within helical grooves 112. At such proximal position, disc 100 is positioned in close enough proximity to disc 102 such that projections 104 extending therefrom contact corresponding projections 106 on disc 102 so that rotation of disc 100 (in the spooling direction) causes corresponding rotation of cable reel 44 (best shown in FIG. 3).

Conversely, rotation of sprocket wheel 98 in the unspooling direction (in direction 74 b of FIG. 3), causes lateral movement of disc 100 and sprocket wheel 98 such that disc 100 of sprocket wheel 98 becomes separated from disc 102 of cable reel 44. That is, when sprocket wheel 98 is rotated in the unspooling direction, riders 142 ride into helical grooves 112 and continue riding along helical grooves 112 as sprocket wheel 98 continues rotating in the unspooling direction. FIG. 12 shows disc 100 of sprocket wheel 98 at a distal end of helical grooves 112. When the riders 142 reach the end wall 114 of the helical grooves 112, end wall 114 serves as a physical barrier preventing further movement of disc 100 and sprocket wheel 98 in the lateral direction. Continued rotational motion in the unspooling direction (through continued pulling of chain 88 in the direction of arrow 91 in FIG. 7) causes the riders 142 (supported by posts 136) to bear against the end wall 114 of helical grooves 112 causing axle 42 to rotate in the unspooling directionthereby unlocking cable reel 44 to unspool cable 48 as will be described below.

Referring to FIGS. 3 and 8, a secondary front sprocket 116 also is mounted around the shaft of front axle 42. As such, when riders 142 reach the end wall 114 of helical grooves 112 and cause axle 42 to rotate in the unspooling direction (through continued pulling of chain 88 in the direction of arrow 91 in FIG. 7)secondary front sprocket 116, thus, also rotates in the unspooling direction.

As shown in FIG. 2, secondary front sprocket wheel 116 retains a chain 118, which connects secondary front sprocket wheel 116 to an elevated sprocket wheel 120. Rotation in the unspooling direction of secondary front sprocket wheel 116 causes corresponding rotation of elevated sprocket wheel 120. Elevated sprocket wheel 120 surrounds an inner one-way gear or one-way clutch bearing 148. A cross bar 124 is attached to the center of the clutch bearing 148 and extends therefrom. The second end of cross bar 124 is attached to a chain 128. As shown, the first end of chain 128 is attached to cross bar 124 and the second end of chain 128 is attached to the second end of brake 76. As such when secondary front sprocket wheel 116 is rotated in the unspooling direction, attached elevated sprocket wheel 120 correspondingly rotates in the unspooling direction (in the direction of arrow 121). Attached cross bar 124 similarly rotates in the unspooling direction, and in turn, chain 128 slightly wraps around the shaft of cross bar 124 causing the chain to be somewhat raised (with respect to the floor). Second end of chain 128 thereby lifts brake 76 off of grooved wheel 50freeing cable reel 44 to rotate in the unspooling direction. As described above, this causes the window to automatically openas the force exerted by the gas springs 26 are no longer countered by the locked cable reel 44.

It should be noted that when secondary front sprocket 116 rotates in the spooling direction, then elevated sprocket wheel 120 correspondingly rotates in the spooling directionbut the attached cross bar 124 does not rotate on account of its attachment to one-way gear. However, when elevated sprocket wheel 120 rotates in the unspooling direction, cross bar 124 is correspondingly rotated to as described in more detail below.

FIG. 13 shows an exploded view of elevated sprocket wheel 120 and associated one-way clutch bearing 148. As shown, sprocket wheel 120 has an internal ring 146 which surrounds a one-way gear 148. One-way gear 148 is a unitary ring that has three regionsan outer ring 150, an inner ring 152 and a middle region 154 between the inner and outer rings. Middle region 154 contains a one-way movement mechanism. As shown, outer ring 150 moves in one direction only (e.g. counterclockwise as depicted by arrow 158), but it cannot move in the opposite direction because of a ratchet gear or similar one-way track that is disposed between outer ring 150 and inner ring 152. Inner ring 152 rotates in a clockwise direction (i.e. in the direction of arrow 158) but it cannot rotate in the opposite direction. Internal ring 146 of sprocket wheel 120 is attached to one-way gear 148 by key 160. A bottom plate 121 and a cover plate 122 encapsulate the one-way bearing 148.

FIG. 14 shows a side view of elevated sprocket wheel 112 and one-way gear 148 attached to the inner circumference thereof. As shown, when sprocket wheel 112 rotates in the spooling direction (e.g. in the direction of arrow 156), outer ring 150 rotates in the same direction because its direction of movement is in the spooling direction; however, inner ring 152 does not rotate. Conversely, when sprocket wheel 112 rotates in the unspooling direction (e.g. in the direction of arrow 158), attached outer ring 150 bears against middle region 154 and middle region 154 bears against inner ring 152 thereby causing the same to rotate in its direction of movement (e.g. clockwise as depicted by arrow 158).

The shaft of cross bar 124 inserts into the lumen of inner ring 152 and is attached thereto by way of key 161 (cross bar 124 not shown in FIGS. 14 and 16). As such, rotation of inner ring 152 effectuates corresponding rotation of cross bar 124. Thus, as described, in order to open the window, a user will pull on chain length 88 b ultimately achieve unspooling rotation of elevated sprocket wheel 112, inner ring 152 and attached cross bar 124. As described, cross bar 124 rotates so as to raise chain 128 and thereby free brake 76 (overcoming spring 82 shown in FIG. 6). Once brake 76 is removed from grooved wheel 50there is no longer a lock on cable reel 44. Thus, the gas springs 26 force the window upward and open.

Gas springs 26 apply a strong biasing force against the window 12, such that when counterforce is removedthe window is rapidly forced upwardly with a great deal of force and speed. In an embodiment of the invention, a damper system is employed to reduce the speed at which the window rises.

FIG. 15 shows an exploded view of a damper system 162 according to an embodiment of the invention. The damper system 162 is a ring-shaped band that surrounds disc 102 attached to cable reel 44. The band applies friction to disc 102 to slow the speed at which cable reel 44 unspoolsthereby slowing the speed of the opening window 12.

Damper 162 is a loop having an inner belt 164 that is made of leather, Teflon, plastic or such similar soft and flexible, yet resilient material and an outer band 166 that surrounds belt 164. Outer band 166 is a thin strip, preferably made of a metallic material such as aluminum, stainless steel or the like and is sized and shaped to tightly conform to the outside perimeter of belt 164. Terminal ends of outer band 166 and inner belt 164 flange outwardly forming flanged ends 168 a , 168 b and 170 a , 170 b (of belt 164 and band 166, respectively). Each flanged end has a hole 172 or similar aperture.

Outer band 166 is placed around belt 164 such that flanged ends and holes in flanged ends are aligned. A bolt 174 having a hole 176 at its terminal end is used to attach damper 164 to control unit 32. As shown, terminal end of bolt 174 is positioned between flanged ends 168 a , 168 b of belt 164 with hole 176 aligning with holes on flanged ends. A screw 178 is inserted to maintain the damper in a closed loop and to attach the same to bolt 174. Screw is inserted through the hole in flanged end 170 a of band 166, through the hole in flanged end 168 a of belt 164, through the hole 176 of bolt 174, through the flanged end 168 b of belt 164, and finally through the hole on flanged end 170 b of band 166. A nut 179 or similar fastener is attached or screwed on to terminal end of screw 178. As stated, screw 178, both, fastens the loop (created by band 166 and belt 164) closed and also attaches the loop to bolt 174.

Bolt 174 has a threaded end 177 that mates with a nut 180 or similar fastener. A spring 182 is inserted around a longitudinal section of bolt 174. As shown, a bottom cap 184 is inserted onto bolt 174 which contacts the bottom of spring 182 and prevents spring 182 from moving past cap 184. An upper cap 186 is inserted just above of spring 182 which contacts the top of spring 182 when nut 180 is tightened.

FIG. 16 shows damper system 164 attached to control unit 32 according to an embodiment of the invention. As shown, the loop of damper unit 164 surrounds disc 102 of pulley reel 44 with inner belt 164 contacting the annular edge of disc 102. Bolt 174 is inserted through a channel in cross bar 188 with terminal threaded end 177 projecting upwardly from cross bar 188.

In use, damper 164 is tightened and/or adjusted in the following manner. Nut 180 is rotated so that it moves down the shaft of bolt 174 until it contacts upper cap 186. Upper cap 186 bears against spring 182, thereby causing spring 182 to exert tension on cap 186 and nut 180. Such tension against cap 186 and nut 180 causes bolt 174 to be incrementally moved upward. Such incremental movement of bolt 174 causes a tensioning force on damper 162. Continued rotation of nut 180 causes bolt 174 keep traveling upwardly thereby applying greater tensioning force on attached damper 162. A user or factory can set the bolt to a specified level of tension to ensure controlled opening of window 12.

Another aspect of the invention is an improved apparatus and method for reeling cable or similar cord. Cable often spools around a cable reel in a haphazard fashion, possibly causing tangling or snarling of the cable. An embodiment of the invention prevents such tangling by employing a novel cable reel drum that is designed to guide cable to spool in a controlled and organized manner.

FIG. 17 shows an embodiment of a novel cable reel 44 according to an embodiment of the invention. FIG. 17 shows a cable reel 44 with an aperture 190 from which a cable emanates (cable not shown). A curved wall or ramp 192 begins at the point at which cable is attached to reel 44. Ramp 192 gradually slopes toward one side of the reel (to the right in the orientation shown in FIG. 17). That is, the distance between wall of ramp 192 and left side face plate 45 a increases as ramp 192 extends around the drum 46 of pulley wheel 44. Ramp 192 guides cable that is being spooled to move rightward (in the orientation shown) as it winds around the drum 46. Ramp 192, thus, divides drum 46 into two sections: an upper section 193 and a lower section 195. A step 194 down, separates upper section 193 from lower section 195. Step 194 extends roughly 90 down from upper section 193. Preferably the height 196 of step 194 is substantially the same as the diameter of cable that is to be reeled. As such, when cable is reeled using the inventive cable reel 44, cable is urged to the right by ramp 192 and it continues spooling into lower drum section 195 until it reaches right face plate 45 b.

FIG. 17 shows a schematic cross-sectional view of a first row of cable 198 wound around lower drum section 195. Once cable reaches side face plate 45 b , it will begin spooling in the other direction (e.g. to the left). Because, the height of step 194 is substantially the same as the cable diameter, once a first layer 198 of cable is laid down between step 194 and face plate 45 b , there is a continues layer upon which a second layer of cable may wind. FIG. 17 schematically shows a cross-sectional view of a second layer 200 of cable wound atop a substantially continuous surface formed by first layer 198 and second upper section 193. This process continues until all cable is wound around cable reel 44.

Also shown in FIG. 17 is a lip 202 that extends around and orthogonally to the annular edge of disc 102. The height of lip 202 is substantially equal to or somewhat greater than the combined thickness of band 166 and belt 164 of damper system 162. Lip 202, thus, acts as a physical barrier preventing lateral movement or slippage of damper system 162.

While the present invention has been described with respect to a exemplary embodiments, it will be appreciated that many modifications and variations may be made without departing from the true spirit and scope of the invention. It is, therefore, the intent of the present application to cover all such modifications and variations which fall within the true spirit and scope of the invention.