US20060026807A1 - Quick release mounting apparatus - Google Patents

Quick release mounting apparatus Download PDF

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Publication number
US20060026807A1
US20060026807A1 US11/243,846 US24384605A US2006026807A1 US 20060026807 A1 US20060026807 A1 US 20060026807A1 US 24384605 A US24384605 A US 24384605A US 2006026807 A1 US2006026807 A1 US 2006026807A1
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US
United States
Prior art keywords
drive shaft
channel
apparatus
jaw
respective
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Abandoned
Application number
US11/243,846
Inventor
Jeffrey Carnevali
Original Assignee
Carnevali Jeffrey D
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to US10/636,058 priority Critical patent/US7017243B2/en
Priority to US11/191,549 priority patent/US7571522B2/en
Application filed by Carnevali Jeffrey D filed Critical Carnevali Jeffrey D
Priority to US11/243,846 priority patent/US20060026807A1/en
Priority claimed from US11/345,591 external-priority patent/US7523528B2/en
Priority claimed from US11/345,590 external-priority patent/US7647676B2/en
Publication of US20060026807A1 publication Critical patent/US20060026807A1/en
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A45HAND OR TRAVELLING ARTICLES
    • A45FTRAVELLING OR CAMP EQUIPMENT: SACKS OR PACKS CARRIED ON THE BODY
    • A45F5/00Holders or carriers for hand articles; Holders or carriers for use while travelling or camping
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B60VEHICLES IN GENERAL
    • B60RVEHICLES, VEHICLE FITTINGS, OR VEHICLE PARTS, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • B60R11/00Arrangements for holding or mounting articles, not otherwise provided for
    • B60R11/02Arrangements for holding or mounting articles, not otherwise provided for for radio sets, television sets, telephones, or the like; Arrangement of controls thereof
    • B60R11/0241Arrangements for holding or mounting articles, not otherwise provided for for radio sets, television sets, telephones, or the like; Arrangement of controls thereof for telephones
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F16ENGINEERING ELEMENTS AND UNITS; GENERAL MEASURES FOR PRODUCING AND MAINTAINING EFFECTIVE FUNCTIONING OF MACHINES OR INSTALLATIONS; THERMAL INSULATION IN GENERAL
    • F16MFRAMES, CASINGS, OR BEDS OF ENGINES OR OTHER MACHINES OR APPARATUS NOT SPECIFIC TO AN ENGINE, MACHINE, OR APPARATUS PROVIDED FOR ELSEWHERE; STANDS OR SUPPORTS
    • F16M11/00Stands or trestles as supports for apparatus or articles placed thereon Stands for scientific apparatus such as gravitational force meters
    • F16M11/02Heads
    • F16M11/04Means for attachment of apparatus; Means allowing adjustment of the apparatus relatively to the stand
    • F16M11/043Allowing translations
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F16ENGINEERING ELEMENTS AND UNITS; GENERAL MEASURES FOR PRODUCING AND MAINTAINING EFFECTIVE FUNCTIONING OF MACHINES OR INSTALLATIONS; THERMAL INSULATION IN GENERAL
    • F16MFRAMES, CASINGS, OR BEDS OF ENGINES OR OTHER MACHINES OR APPARATUS NOT SPECIFIC TO AN ENGINE, MACHINE, OR APPARATUS PROVIDED FOR ELSEWHERE; STANDS OR SUPPORTS
    • F16M11/00Stands or trestles as supports for apparatus or articles placed thereon Stands for scientific apparatus such as gravitational force meters
    • F16M11/02Heads
    • F16M11/04Means for attachment of apparatus; Means allowing adjustment of the apparatus relatively to the stand
    • F16M11/06Means for attachment of apparatus; Means allowing adjustment of the apparatus relatively to the stand allowing pivoting
    • F16M11/12Means for attachment of apparatus; Means allowing adjustment of the apparatus relatively to the stand allowing pivoting in more than one direction
    • F16M11/14Means for attachment of apparatus; Means allowing adjustment of the apparatus relatively to the stand allowing pivoting in more than one direction with ball-joint
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F16ENGINEERING ELEMENTS AND UNITS; GENERAL MEASURES FOR PRODUCING AND MAINTAINING EFFECTIVE FUNCTIONING OF MACHINES OR INSTALLATIONS; THERMAL INSULATION IN GENERAL
    • F16MFRAMES, CASINGS, OR BEDS OF ENGINES OR OTHER MACHINES OR APPARATUS NOT SPECIFIC TO AN ENGINE, MACHINE, OR APPARATUS PROVIDED FOR ELSEWHERE; STANDS OR SUPPORTS
    • F16M11/00Stands or trestles as supports for apparatus or articles placed thereon Stands for scientific apparatus such as gravitational force meters
    • F16M11/20Undercarriages with or without wheels
    • F16M11/2007Undercarriages with or without wheels comprising means allowing pivoting adjustment
    • F16M11/2035Undercarriages with or without wheels comprising means allowing pivoting adjustment in more than one direction
    • F16M11/2078Undercarriages with or without wheels comprising means allowing pivoting adjustment in more than one direction with ball-joint
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F16ENGINEERING ELEMENTS AND UNITS; GENERAL MEASURES FOR PRODUCING AND MAINTAINING EFFECTIVE FUNCTIONING OF MACHINES OR INSTALLATIONS; THERMAL INSULATION IN GENERAL
    • F16MFRAMES, CASINGS, OR BEDS OF ENGINES OR OTHER MACHINES OR APPARATUS NOT SPECIFIC TO AN ENGINE, MACHINE, OR APPARATUS PROVIDED FOR ELSEWHERE; STANDS OR SUPPORTS
    • F16M13/00Other supports for positioning apparatus or articles; Means for steadying hand-held apparatus or articles
    • F16M13/02Other supports for positioning apparatus or articles; Means for steadying hand-held apparatus or articles for supporting on, or attaching to, an object, e.g. tree, gate, window-frame, cycle
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F1/00Details not covered by groups G06F3/00 – G06F13/00 and G06F21/00
    • G06F1/16Constructional details or arrangements
    • G06F1/1613Constructional details or arrangements for portable computers
    • G06F1/163Wearable computers, e.g. on a belt
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F1/00Details not covered by groups G06F3/00 – G06F13/00 and G06F21/00
    • G06F1/16Constructional details or arrangements
    • G06F1/1613Constructional details or arrangements for portable computers
    • G06F1/1632External expansion units, e.g. docking stations
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A45HAND OR TRAVELLING ARTICLES
    • A45CPURSES; LUGGAGE; HAND CARRIED BAGS
    • A45C11/00Receptacles for purposes not provided for in groups A45C1/00 - A45C9/00
    • A45C2011/002Receptacles for purposes not provided for in groups A45C1/00 - A45C9/00 for portable handheld communication devices, e.g. mobile phone, pager, beeper, PDA, smart phone
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A45HAND OR TRAVELLING ARTICLES
    • A45FTRAVELLING OR CAMP EQUIPMENT: SACKS OR PACKS CARRIED ON THE BODY
    • A45F2200/00Details not otherwise provided for in A45F
    • A45F2200/05Holder or carrier for specific articles
    • A45F2200/0516Portable handheld communication devices, e.g. mobile phone, pager, beeper, PDA, smart phone
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A45HAND OR TRAVELLING ARTICLES
    • A45FTRAVELLING OR CAMP EQUIPMENT: SACKS OR PACKS CARRIED ON THE BODY
    • A45F5/00Holders or carriers for hand articles; Holders or carriers for use while travelling or camping
    • A45F5/02Fastening articles to the garment
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B60VEHICLES IN GENERAL
    • B60RVEHICLES, VEHICLE FITTINGS, OR VEHICLE PARTS, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • B60R11/00Arrangements for holding or mounting articles, not otherwise provided for
    • B60R2011/0042Arrangements for holding or mounting articles, not otherwise provided for characterised by mounting means
    • B60R2011/0049Arrangements for holding or mounting articles, not otherwise provided for characterised by mounting means for non integrated articles
    • B60R2011/005Connection with the vehicle part
    • B60R2011/0059Connection with the vehicle part using clips, clamps, straps or the like
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F16ENGINEERING ELEMENTS AND UNITS; GENERAL MEASURES FOR PRODUCING AND MAINTAINING EFFECTIVE FUNCTIONING OF MACHINES OR INSTALLATIONS; THERMAL INSULATION IN GENERAL
    • F16MFRAMES, CASINGS, OR BEDS OF ENGINES OR OTHER MACHINES OR APPARATUS NOT SPECIFIC TO AN ENGINE, MACHINE, OR APPARATUS PROVIDED FOR ELSEWHERE; STANDS OR SUPPORTS
    • F16M2200/00Details of stands or supports
    • F16M2200/02Locking means
    • F16M2200/021Locking means for rotational movement
    • F16M2200/022Locking means for rotational movement by friction
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC
    • Y10TTECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER US CLASSIFICATION
    • Y10T24/00Buckles, buttons, clasps, etc.
    • Y10T24/44Clasp, clip, support-clamp, or required component thereof
    • Y10T24/44573Clasp, clip, support-clamp, or required component thereof including track or way guided and retained gripping member
    • Y10T24/44581Biased by distinct spring

Abstract

A universal cradle apparatus having a pair of substantially rigid jaw structures each configured with a flange structure having a substantially planar mounting surface adapted for being secured to respective cooperating male and female portions of a spring-return clamping mechanism formed of telescoping male linear drive shaft and mating female linear drive channel. The two jaw structures are each configured with an inclined interior clamping surface that is projected above the respective flange structure. The jaw structures are mounted on the respective drive shaft and drive channel each having its respective inclined interior clamping surface facing toward the inclined interior clamping surface of the other jaw. A spring is coupled for biasing the male drive shaft into the mating female drive channel of the clamping mechanism, thereby driving the two jaw structures together along a linear drive axis of the clamping mechanism.

Description

    RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • The present application is Continiation-In-Part and claims benefit of co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/191,549 filed in the name of the inventor of the present application on Jul. 28, 2005, the complete disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference, and both co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/636,058 filed in the name of the inventor of the present application on Aug. 7, 2003, and co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/136,797 filed in the name of the inventor of the present application on May 24, 2005, the complete disclosures of which are both also incorporated herein by reference.
  • FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention relates to a releasable cradle mounting apparatus, and in particular to spring-return mounting apparatuses for securely releasably cradling lap top personal computers and other small or hand-held devices, such as DVD players.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • Mounting platforms are generally well-known for securely cradling and even electrically interfacing hand-held pocket-sized personal computers, commonly referred to as “pocket PCs,” bar code scanners, and other substantially mobile electronic devices, such as cellular telephones, mobile global positioning system (GPS) receivers, Personal Digital Accessories (PDAs), handle-held personal computers and the like.
  • One such mounting platform is presented in U.S. Pat. No. 6,427,959, entitled MOUNTING BRACKET FOR AN ELECTRONIC DEVICE, is issued Aug. 6, 2002, to Kalis, et al., which is incorporated herein by reference, which includes a cradle adapted for being, releasably secured to the electronic device and also includes a support adapted for being mounted to a surface. The cradle is adapted to move along its longitudinal axis relative to an electrical connector that is slidably connected to the cradle. A user can fix the position of the cradle relative to the mounting surface by means of a pin and locking mechanism on the back of the cradle to the support.
  • Other mounting platforms are also currently known. However, current mounting platforms may be inefficient for effectively securely releasably cradling larger and irregularly shaped devices. Additionally, current mounting platforms are generally application specific and fail to provide truly universal cradling.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention is a universal cradle apparatus that overcomes known limitations of prior art apparatus for securing an array of different hand-held or personal devices by providing a spring-return clamping mechanism that permits such, hand-held or personal devices to be easily and securely cradled, while permitting quick drawing and easy removal of the device.
  • According to one aspect of the invention, the universal cradle apparatus of the present invention for securely cradling a hand-held or personal device in releasable manner is embodied by example and without limitation as a pair of substantially rigid jaw structures each configured with a base plate having a substantially planar mounting surface adapted to secured to cooperating male and female portions of a spring return clamping mechanism formed of telescoping male linear drive shaft and mating female linear drive channel. A spring is coupled for biasing the male drive shaft into the mating female drive channel of the clamping mechanism, thereby driving the two jaw structures together along a drive axis of the clamping mechanism.
  • According to another aspect of the invention, one or both of the jaw structures are further adjustable on the respective drive shaft and drive channel relative to a drive axis of the clamping mechanism.
  • According to another aspect of the invention, either the male drive shaft or the female drive channel is relatively stationary relative to the cooperating member of the spring-return clamping mechanism, the relatively stationary member being formed with a substantially rigid base plate structured for being secured to an external mounting surface, such as a mounting plate of an external support structure, such as the ball-and-socket support structure disclosed by the inventor of the present invention in U.S. Pat. No. 5,845,885.
  • Other aspects of the invention are detailed herein.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • The foregoing aspects and many of the attendant advantages of this invention will become more readily appreciated as the same becomes better understood by reference to the following detailed description, when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein:
  • FIG. 1 is a perspective view that illustrates the present invention embodied as a releasably-clamped universal mounting apparatus for securely receiving a large or irregularly shaped device;
  • FIG. 2 is a perspective view that illustrates the releasably-clamped universal mounting apparatus of the present invention;
  • FIG. 3 is a section view through an expandably contractible spring-return clamping mechanism of the releasably-clamped universal cradle apparatus of the invention;
  • FIG. 4 is a close-up that illustrates one locking mechanism of the spring-return clamping mechanism of the invention;
  • FIG. 5 is a perspective view that illustrates the present invention embodied as a releasably-clamped universal mounting apparatus for securely receiving a, regularly shaped device having a substantially flat bottom; and
  • FIG. 6 is a different perspective view that illustrates the releasably-clamped universal mounting apparatus of the present invention illustrated in FIG. 5.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
  • In the Figures, like numerals indicate like elements.
  • The universal cradle apparatus of the present invention is embodied by example and without limitation as a pair of substantially rigid jaw structures each configured with a flange structure having a substantially planar mounting surface adapted for being secured to respective cooperating male and female portions of a spring-return clamping mechanism formed, of telescoping male linear drive shaft and mating female linear drive channel. The two jaw structures are each configured with a shallow cup-shaped clamping surface that is projected above the respective flange structure. The jaw structures are mounted on the respective drive shaft and drive channel each having its respective cup-shaped interior clamping surface facing toward the clamping surface of the other jaw. A spring is coupled for biasing the male drive shaft into the mating female drive channel of the clamping mechanism, thereby driving the two jaw structures together along a linear drive axis of the clamping mechanism.
  • The spring-return clamping mechanism includes the telescoping male linear drive shaft and mating female linear drive channel each having one of the jaw structures coupled adjacent to one end thereof. By example and without limitation, the drive shaft is structured with a T-shape that is sized to be movable within a mating hollow T-shaped drive channel that is structured along the drive axis. By example and without limitation, a compression spring is constrained within the drive channel between a foot portion of the drive shaft distal from its jaw and a locking key that is coupled within the drive channel adjacent to an opening thereinto that is distal from its jaw.
  • FIG. 1 is a perspective view that illustrates the apparatus of the present invention embodied as a releasably-clamped universal cradle apparatus 10 that is structured for securely receiving different larger or irregularly shaped devices. The apparatus 10 is structured with a spring-return clamping mechanism, shown generally at 12, arranged relative to a pair of opposing jaw structures 13, 14 that are structured to cooperate for securely releasably cradling different larger or irregularly shaped devices. The jaw structures 13, 14 are each formed of a respective base flange 15, 16 that is structured for coupling to one of an elongated male drive shaft 17 and a mating elongated female drive frame 19 of the spring-return clamping mechanism 12. The spring-return clamping mechanism 12 is integrated with the jaw structures 13, 14 in an expandably contractible assembly structured for elastically urging the movable drive shaft-mounted jaw 13 against the relatively stationary drive frame-mounted jaw 14 as indicated by the arrows.
  • Each of the jaw structures 13, 14 and the male drive shaft 17 and mating female drive frame 19 of the spring-return clamping mechanism 12 are optionally individually integrally formed of a substantially rigid and tresilient material, such as a rigid metal plastic or composite material for making the cradle apparatus 10 of the invention substantially rigid and resilient.
  • Either the male drive shaft 17 or the female drive frame 19 (shown is further structured to be substantially stationary relative to the other mating member of the spring-return clamping mechanism 12. By example and without limitation, the relatively stationary member (shown as female drive frame 19) is formed with a substantially rigid base plate 21 that is structured for being secured to an external mounting surface, such as a mounting plate P of an external support structure S, such as the ball-and-socket support structure disclosed by the inventor of the present invention in U.S. Pat. No. 5,845,885, UNIVERSALLY POSITIONABLE MOUNTING DEVICE, issued to the inventor of the present invention on Dec. 8, 1998, which is incorporated in its entirety herein by reference.
  • As is generally well-known, pocket PCs, bar code scanners, and other mobile electronic devices of the type which are intended to be supported by the apparatus 10 of the invention typically include operational controls and an information on viewing or display screen located either on different faces or on a single face. Some devices, such as some bar code scanners, also include handles for gripping by the user. Aspects of the apparatus 10 of the invention are therefore structured to expose as much as possible of the faces and gripping handles of the device to the, user, including the facial operational controls and display screen. For example, according to the embodiment illustrated herein, the jaw structures 13, 14 are each configured with a respective shallow generally cup-shaped interior clamping surface 23, 25 that is projected above the base plate 21 and clamping mechanism 12. The interior clamping surfaces 23, 25 of the respective jaw structures 13, 14 are generally structured for positively engaging opposite ends of such a device that is inserted therebetween. The jaw structures 13, 14 are mounted on the respective male drive shaft 17 and mating female drive frame 19, each having its respective cup-shaped interior clamping surface 23, 25 facing toward the interior clamping surface of the opposing jaw structure.
  • The spring-return clamping mechanism 12 drives the jaw structures 13, 14 expandably together substantially along a common longitudinal drive axis L of the mating male drive shaft 17 and female drive frame 19 for forming a mouth opening M of variable length between the opposing clamping surfaces 23, 25. The length of the mouth opening M between the opposing clamping surfaces 23, 25 is expanded by forcing apart the movable male drive shaft 17 and relatively stationary female drive frame 19 along the common longitudinal drive axis L as the spring-return clamping mechanism 12 simultaneously urges the jaw structures 13, 14 back together for capturing and securing an inserted device therebetween. By example and without limitation, the, male drive shaft 17 is formed as a bar having a cross-legged shape, and the female drive frame 19 is formed having a mating hollow cross-legged shape, such as the T-shaped illustrated here. Alternative cross-legged shapes include any convenient shape having least two crossed legs, including: an F-shape, an I-shape, an L-shape, a U-shape, a V-shape, and an X-shape. The mating cross-legged shapes of the drive shaft 17 and drive frame 19 are not necessary or critical to the invention. However, the mating cross-legged shapes help to resist twisting about the longitudinal drive axis L during operation. The mating cross-legged shapes also help to stiffen the drive shaft 17 and drive frame 19 that form the spine of the cradle apparatus 10 of the invention.
  • The shallow generally cup-shape of the clamping surface 23, 25 optionally enclose a generally globular shape, but may also enclose a slightly flattened globular shape. The generally globular or slightly flattened shapes of the clamping surface 23, 25 tent to center the inserted device therein as the spring-return clamping mechanism 12 simultaneously urges the jaw structures 13, 14 together. The clamping surfaces 23, 25 alternatively enclose a generally upright egg shape having a slightly deeper flattened cup shape in their respective proximate portions 27, 29 nearer the clamping mechanism 12, and a slightly shallower flattened cup shape at the respective, outer or distal portions 31, 33 of the jaw structures 13, 14. The flattened upright egg shape of the clamping surface 23, 25 presses on the inserted device and urges it toward the drive frame 19 as the spring-return clamping mechanism 12 simultaneously urges the jaw structures 13, 14 together.
  • Each of the respective proximate and distal jaw structure portions 27, 29, 31, 33 optionally includes a respective peripheral lip 35, 37, 39, 41 that stiffen the clamping surface 23, 25, thereby making the apparatus 10 of the invention more effective for holding heavier objects.
  • Optionally, the jaw structures 13, 14 are optionally formed as respective shallow recesses 43, 45 on opposites sides thereof between their respective proximate and distal portions 27, 29, 31, 33. The recesses 43, 45 may include their own stiffening lips such that the respective peripheral lips 35, 37, 39,41 form substantially continuous peripheral stiffening lips around the clamping surface 23, 25. Alternatively, the recesses 43, 45 interrupt the respective peripheral lips 35, 37, 39, 41, as illustrated. Optionally, gussets 47, 49 stiffen the respective jaw structures 13, 14 along the common longitudinal drive axis L of the mating male drive shaft 17 and female drive frame 19.
  • The jaw structures 13, 14 and their respective cup-shaped clamping surface 23, 25 are each optionally substantially symmetric relative to the common longitudinal drive axis L of the clamping mechanism 12. Optionally, the structures 13, 14 are substantially identical, including their respective base flanges 15, 16 and cup-shaped clamping surfaces 23, 25.
  • One or both of the jaw structures 13, 14 is optionally permanently movable along the respective male drive shaft 17 and female drive frame 19 for permanently adjusting the expansive range of the mouth opening M therebetween. For example, one jaw structure 13 is coupled to the male drive shaft 17 in a fixed position by one or more fasteners 51 coupled between the jaw structure's base flange structure 15 and a mating flange structure 53 on the male drive shaft 17. As illustrated, the fasteners 51 are positioned substantially symmetrically on opposite sides of the jaw structure 13. The other jaw structure 14 is permanently movable along the female drive frame 19 by one or more of the fasteners 51 coupled between the jaw structure's base flange 16 and one or more mating longitudinal slots 57 through a mating flange structure 59 on the female drive frame 19. As illustrated, the longitudinal slots 57 and cooperating fasteners 51 are positioned substantially symmetrically on opposite sides of the jaw structure 14.
  • FIG. 2 is a different perspective view that illustrates the releasably-clamped universal cradle apparatus 10 of the present invention. Here, the longitudinal slots 57 are shown as continuous longitudinal slots through the flange 59 on the female drive frame 19 for mating with the slots or holes 55 through the base flange 16 of the jaw structure 14. As illustrated, the mating holes 55 and longitudinal slots 57 permit the base flange 16 of the jaw structure 14 to be moved to different positions along the mating flange 59 on the female drive frame 19, as illustrated by the arrow, by merely loosening and subsequently tightening the fasteners 51 therebetween. The mouth opening M between the jaw structures 13, 14 is thereby temporarily or permanently adjustable along the longitudinal drive axis L for operating in within a different larger or smaller expansive range.
  • The flange 53 is illustrated as being integrally formed on the bottom of the T-shaped male drive shaft 17 and imparting an I-shape on a portion of the male drive shaft 17 that remains outside the female drive frame 19. The flange 53 thus provides the dual functions of securing the stationary jaw structure 13 and acting as a fixed stop between the male drive shaft 17 and female drive frame 19.
  • Also shown are the mating and relatively movable T-shapes of the male drive shaft 17 and female drive frame 19. As illustrated here, the female drive frame 19 completely encloses a substantially continuous longitudinal T-shaped female opening or drive channel 61 that extends substantially the entire length of the elongated drive frame 19 and is sized to receive therein the substantially continuous longitudinal T-shape of the elongated male drive shaft 17.
  • According to one embodiment of the invention, the elongated male drive shaft 17 optionally includes an elongated lengthwise slot 62 formed therein. When present, the elongated lengthwise slot 62 optionally runs substantially the entire length of the elongated male drive shaft 17 from the mating flange structure 53 formed thereon to a foot portion 71 thereof (shown in a subsequent Figure). When present, the elongated lengthwise slot 62 is structured to operate as described herein below.
  • The relatively stationary female drive frame 19 is illustrated as being integrally formed with the substantially rigid base plate 21 that is structured for being secured to an external mounting surface, such as the mounting plate P of the external support structure S, as illustrated in a previous Figure. For example, the integral base plate 21 extends beyond the female drive frame 19 and is formed with one or more mounting slots or holes 63 structured for receiving suitable fasteners for coupling to the mounting plate P.
  • FIG. 3 is a section view through the expandably contractible spring-return clamping mechanism 12 of the releasably-clamped universal cradle apparatus 10 with the jaw structures 13, 14 removed for clarity. The spring-return clamping mechanism 12 includes a locking mechanism, shown generally at 65, of the invention for capturing an elastically compressible biasing member 67 between the movable male drive shaft 17 and the relatively stationary female drive frame 19. The locking mechanism 65 of the invention is embodied as a locking key 69 that is combined with both the movable male drive shaft 17 and the relatively stationary female drive frame 19.
  • By example and without limitation, the male drive shaft 17 is structured to move lengthwise within the drive channel 61 of the relatively stationary female drive frame 19 with the elastically compressible biasing member of compressing spring 67 being constrained within the drive channel 61 between the locking key 69 and the foot portion 71 of the drive shaft 17 distal from the I-shaped portion thereof formed by the flange structure 53 holding the jaw structure 13. The locking key 69 is coupled within the drive channel 61 adjacent to an opening 73 thereinto adjacent to one end of the female drive frame 19 whereinto the drive shaft 17 is inserted.
  • By example and without limitation, the female drive channel 61 is formed with a closed surface having opposing channel walls 75 that are coupled in a spaced-apart manner by a pair of spaced-apart opposing channel spacer walls 77 (one shown) intervening therebetween. As illustrated in one or more other Figures, the intervening spacer walls 77 form the base and cap of the T-shaped female drive frame 19, whereby the female drive channel 61 has a substantially constant cross-sectional interior configuration for substantially its entire length. Although possibly more difficult to manufacture, the female drive channel 61 is optionally closed at its aft end 79 opposite the opening 73 thereinto. As discussed herein, the female drive frame 19 of the spring-return clamping mechanism 12 is optionally individually integrally formed of a substantially rigid and resilient material such that the closed-surface of female drive channel 61 operates as a stiffener to rigidify the female drive frame 19 against both twisting and bending. The spaced-apart channel walls 75 stiffen the female drive frame 19 substantially in the plane of the jaw structures 13, 14, and the spaced-apart base and cap walls 77 stiffen the female drive frame 19 substantially crosswise to the plane of the jaw structures 13, 14.
  • The elastically compressible biasing member 67, which is illustrated by example and without limitation, as a conventional coil-type compression spring of steel or another suitable material, is inserted between the jaw end 81 of the elongated male drive shaft 17 adjacent to the flange structure 53 thereof and its distal foot portion 71. The distal foot portion 71 of the elongated drive shaft 17 is structured to engage and restrain one end 83 of the biasing spring 67. The distal foot portion 71 of the elongated drive shaft 17 optionally includes a tab or hib 85 structured to engage and restrain the end 83 of the biasing spring 67. Although useful for ease of assembly, the tab or nib 85 is not necessary or critical for practicing the invention. As discussed herein above, the elongated drive shaft 17 optionally includes the elongated lengthwise slot 62 formed therein, as best illustrated in FIG. 2. When present, the tab or nib 85 that is structured to engage and restrain the end 83 of the biasing spring 67 is formed in one end of the slot 62 adjacent to the distal foot portion 71 of the elongated drive shaft 17.
  • After this assembly with biasing spring 67, the elongated male drive shaft 17 is inserted into the closed-surface female drive channel 61. The second foot portion 71 of the elongated male drive shaft 17 is inserted through into the opening 73 and slid toward the opposite aft end 79 of the female drive channel 61. The elongated male drive shaft 17 is thereby slidingly engaged with the female drive channel 61 formed between the spaced-apart channel walls 75 and intervening base and cap walls 77 of the elongated female drive frame 19.
  • The biasing spring 67 of the clamping mechanism 12 is additionally compressed against the second distal foot portion 71 of the elongated male drive shaft 17 by pressure exerted against a free end 87 of the biasing spring 67. While in a generally relaxed or expanded condition, the free end 87 of the biasing spring 67 is positioned against the distal foot portion 71 of the elongated drive shaft 17 within the closed-surface female drive channel 61. The locking key 69 is installed between the free end 87 of the biasing spring 67 and the aft or jaw end 81 of the drive shaft 17. The biasing spring 67 is thereafter expandably compressed between the locking key 69 and distal foot portion 71 of the movable clamp's elongated drive shaft, 17 while the locking key 69 is mechanically coupled to the female drive channel 61 adjacent to its opening 73. The biasing spring 67 thereafter exerts an expanding spring force F, illustrated by the arrow 89, between the locking key 69 and the distal foot portion 71 of the elongated drive shaft 17 that contracts or biases the flange structure 53 holding the jaw structure 13 along the female drive channel 61 toward the flange 59 of the female drive frame 19 holding the other jaw structure 14, as illustrated by the arrow 90. The biasing spring 67 thereby operates to expandably bias the movable jaw structure 13 mounted on the male drive shaft 17 toward the stationary jaw structure 14 mounted on the female drive frame 19 for securing an inserted device between the respective clamping surface 23, 25. The biasing spring 67 is selected having a spring rate sufficient to cause the movable jaw structure 13 to securely cradle the inserted device against the cooperating stationary jaw structure 14.
  • According to the embodiment of the invention as illustrated here and more clearly illustrated here, at least one, and optionally both (shown), of the opposing channel walls 75 are formed with a cooperating locking structure, shown generally at 91, within the channel walls 75 of the female drive channel 61 portion of the female drive frame 19. By example and without limitation, the cooperating locking structure 91 is formed as a single notch 92 or a pair of opposing notches in the channel walls 75 adjacent to the channel opening 73. The notch or notches 92 are structured to engage mating detents 93 on the locking key 69, whereby the locking key 69 is fixed in locked relationship with the female drive channel 61 portion of the female drive frame 19. Thereafter, the closed-surface female drive channel 61 and the locking key 69 together operate to constrain the biasing member or compression spring 67 such that it spring-loads or “biases” the movable male drive shaft 17 toward the cradle's relatively stationary female drive frame 19 in a retractable or expandable manner. For ease of manufacturing the notches 92 are apertures formed completely through the respective channel walls 75 (shown). The notches 92 are optionally closed indentations formed on opposing interior surfaces of the channel walls 75. The detents 93 engage the opposing notches 92 to fix the locking key 69 in locked relationship with the female drive frame 19 and to capture the compression spring 67 within the female drive channel 61 between the distal foot portion 71 of the movable elongated drive shaft 17 and the opening 73 of the female drive channel 61 distal from the cradle's stationary jaw structure 14.
  • The locking key 69 is formed of a substantially incompressible material, for example metal or hard plastic, so that, the detents 93 are stiff and unyielding. As discussed herein, the closed-surface of female drive channel 61 is formed of a substantially rigid material, such as a metal, rigid plastic or composite material. The channel walls 75 are constructed having a width and thickness calculated to cooperate with the locking key 69 such that one or both of the channel walls 75 flex slightly to admit the locking key 69, therebetween when sufficient pressure is applied to force locking key 69 through the opening 73 into the female drive channel 61.
  • FIG. 4 is a close-up that illustrates the locking mechanism 65 of the spring-return clamping mechanism 12, wherein the detents 93 of the locking key 69 are each formed with a lead-in 94 for easing entry of the locking key 69 through the opening 73 into the female drive channel 61. The lead-ins 94 are, for example, a bevel or chamfer or a fillet (shown). The opening 73 into the female drive channel 61 may include a lead-in 146 that further eases entry of the locking key 69.
  • The locking key 69 includes a body 95 that is shaped to cooperate with the interior of the female drive channel 61 and is sized to fit through the opening 73 thereinto and thereafter to become fixed in locked relationship with the notches 92, whereby the opening 73 is blocked. For example, the key body 95 is substantially rectangular in cross-section when the female drive channel 61 is formed with substantially planar walls 75. Optionally, the locking key 69 includes an integral tab or “nose” portion 96 that is structured to engage and capture the free end 87 of the biasing spring 67. In order to engage the biasing spring 67, the nose 96 is formed smaller than the key body 95 so that a shoulder 97 is formed at the intersection. The shoulder 97 provides a rest or stop for supporting the biasing spring 67 in a partly compressed state when the biasing spring 67 is a conventional compression spring wound in a tubular shape along its active longitudinal axis, as illustrated. Thus, the nose 96 is sized to fit inside the tubular spring 67, while the shoulder 97 is sized larger than the outer diameter of the tubular biasing spring 67. The nose 96 thereby provides purchase on the locking key body 95 during assembly that helps to maintain the relative positioning and alignment of the biasing spring 67 with the locking key body 95. Optionally, the nose 96 includes means for securing the biasing spring 67 relative to the locking key 69. For example, the nose 96 is formed with a cross-axis dimension, such as a diameter, sized to be a slight interference fit within the tubular coil-type biasing spring 67.
  • During assembly the key's nose 96 is fitted into the previously free end 87 of the tubular biasing spring 67. The locking key 69 is then pressed through the channel opening 73 and between the spaced-apart channel walls 75. The key's lead-ins 94 and channel opening's lead-in 146 are used to ease entry of the locking key 69. The channel walls 75 resiliently flex and spread apart to admit the key's detents 93 that extend from the key's body 95. The channel walls 75 continue to flex and spread apart as the key 69 travels along the female drive channel 61. The key's body 95 and nose 96 are further structured to cooperate with the channel walls 75 and the biasing spring 67, respectively, to maintain alignment of the key 69 with the female drive channel 61. When the key 69 is pushed far enough into the female drive channel 61, the key's detents 93 encounter and enter the notches 92 in the channel walls 75. Upon entry of the detents 93 into the cooperating notches 92 the substantially rigid and resiliently flexible spaced-apart opposing channel walls 75 resiliently revert or “snap back” to their natural shape, whereby the key's detents 93 are nested and substantially permanently captured in the cooperating notches 92. The biasing spring 67 is thereby permanently captured within the female drive channel 61 between the distal foot portion 71 of the clamp's elongated drive shaft 17 and the opening,73 into the female drive channel 61 distal from the flange 59 of the female drive frame 19 holding the stationary jaw structure 14.
  • According to one embodiment of the invention, the key body 95 optionally includes means for easing ejection from a mold, when the key 69 is manufactured by injection molding plastic, or means for controlling the key 69 during assembly. For example, the key body 95 is hollowed by a aperture 99 therethrough either for a mold ejection pin, or an assembly guide pin or other control device.
  • Other configurations for both the locking key 69 and the cooperating locking structure 91 are also contemplated, as illustrated by reference to either of co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/636,058 or co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/136,797, both incorporated herein by reference. For example, as disclosed in these co-pending U.S. patent applications, the channel walls 75 of the female drive frame 19 are substantially inflexible, and when sufficient pressure is applied, the locking key 69 flexes slightly to squeeze through the opening 73 into the female drive channel 61 between the substantially inflexible channel walls 75.
  • Alternative Embodiments
  • Mounting platforms are generally well-known for securely cradling and even electrically interfacing personal computers, commonly referred to as “lap tops,” and other substantially mobile electronic devices, such as lap top digital video device (DVD) players and the like. However, current mounting platforms may be inefficient for effectively securely releasably cradling larger lap top personal computers and other small or hand-held devices, such as DVD players, having substantially regular generally rectangular shapes and substantially flat bottom mounting surfaces. Also, such existing mounting platforms may be bulky in configuration, or awkward for insertion and removal of the device.
  • FIG. 5 is a perspective view that illustrates the apparatus of the present invention embodied as an alternative releasably-clamped universal cradle apparatus 100 that is structured for securely receiving different portable personal computers, commonly referred to as “lap tops,” and other small or hand-held devices, such as DVD players, having substantially flat mounting surfaces, usually referred to as a “bottom” surface of the device. The apparatus 100 is structured with the spring-return clamping mechanism, shown generally at 12, arranged relative to a pair of opposing jaw structures 113, 114 that are structured to cooperate for securely releasably cradling different larger or irregularly shaped devices. The jaw structures 113, 114 are each formed of a respective base flange 115, 116 that is structured for coupling to one of the elongated male drive shaft 17 and mating elongated female drive frame 19 of the spring-return clamping mechanism 12. The spring-return clamping mechanism 12 is integrated with the jaw structures 113, 114 in an expandably contractible assembly structured for elastically urging the movable drive shaft-mounted jaw 114 against the relatively stationary drive frame-mounted jaw 113, as indicated by the arrows.
  • Each of the jaw structures 113, 114 and the male drive shaft 17 and mating female drive frame 19 of the spring-return clamping mechanism 12 are optionally individually integrally formed of a substantially rigid and resilient material, such as a rigid metal, plastic or composite material for making the cradle apparatus 100 of the invention substantially rigid and resilient.
  • As discussed herein, either the male drive shaft 17 or the female drive frame 19 (shown) is further structured to be substantially stationary relative to the other mating member of the spring-return clamping mechanism 12. By example and without limitation, the relatively stationary member (shown as female drive frame 19) is formed with substantially rigid base plate 21 that is structured for being secured to an external mounting surface, such as mounting plate P of external support structure S, such as the ball-and-socket support structure disclosed by the same inventor in above incorporated U.S. Pat. No. 5,845,885, UNIVERSALLY POSITIONABLE MOUNTING DEVICE.
  • As is generally well-known, portable personal computers, commonly referred to as “lap tops,” and other small or hand-held devices, such as DVD players, having substantially flat mounting surfaces, and other mobile electronic devices D (shown in phantom) of the type that are intended to be supported by the apparatus 100 of the invention typically include key boards and other operational controls in a base structure B and an information viewing or display screen V located either on a single face or on different faces (shown). Some devices also include handles for gripping by the user. Aspects of the apparatus 100 of the invention are therefore structured to expose as much as possible of the faces and gripping handles of the device to the user, including the base structure B having the facial operational controls and the display screen V. For example, according to the embodiment illustrated herein, the jaw structures 113, 114 are each configured with respective base flange 115, 116 each having a large substantially planar device mounting surface 124 with one or more interior clamping surfaces 126 that are projected there above and inclined toward the respective device mounting surfaces 124.
  • By example and without limitation, each base flange 115, 116 is formed having a central body 128 with a pair of outstretched arms 130 extended on opposite sides thereof forming the device mounting surface 124 whereupon the flat bottom of an inserted device D is rested. According to one embodiment of the present invention, at least a distal portion of each of the outstretched arms 130 is encased in a coating or cover 132 having a high coefficient of friction relative to the flange body 128 and arms 130 for increased gripping of an inserted device D. For example, the distal portion of each of the outstretched arms 130 has a plastic or rubber or another elastomeric material coupled thereto, either as the coating or cover 132. Alternatively, the coating or cover 132 is a gritty sandpaper or sandpaper-like substance having relatively high coefficient of friction. Additionally, the coating or cover 132 is slightly raised relative to the flange body 128 and arms 130 such that the substantially planar device mounting surfaces 124 is formed on top of the coating or cover 132 at the distal ends of the opposing flange arms 130.
  • Movable jaw structure 114 is coupled to the male drive shaft 17 in a fixed position by one or more fasteners 51 coupled between the jaw structure's base flange structure 115 and mating flange structure 53 on the male drive shaft 17. As illustrated, multiple fasteners 51 are positioned substantially symmetrically on opposite sides of the jaw structure 114. The other jaw structure 113 is permanently movable along the female drive frame 19 by one or multiple fasteners 51 coupled between the jaw structure's base flange 116 and mating longitudinal slots 57 through mating flange structure 59 on the female drive frame 19. As illustrated, the longitudinal slots 57 and cooperating fasteners 51 are positioned substantially symmetrically on opposite sides of the jaw structure 113. The fasteners 51 are flush or recessed relative to the respective flange body 128 so that they do interfere with the device mounting surfaces 124.
  • The interior clamping surfaces 126 are fixed in substantially stationary arrangements adjacent to respective distal ends 134 of the base flanges 115, 116 and are optionally formed integrally therewith, for example as by injection molding of the jaw structures 113, 114. By example and without limitation, the interior clamping surfaces 126, are extended from respective end walls 136 formed substantially perpendicular to the respective base flanges 115, 116 adjacent to respective distal ends 134. According to one embodiment of the present invention, the jaw structures 113, 114 each include two or more of the clamping surfaces 126 formed on distal ends of individual fingers 138 that are projected from respective flange end walls 136 and inclined toward the respective device mounting surfaces 124. The individual fingers 138 may be spaced apart across the common longitudinal drive axis L of the spring-return clamping mechanism 12.
  • The interior clamping surfaces 126 of the respective jaw structures 113, 114 are generally structured for positively engaging opposite ends of a generally rectangular and flat-bottomed device that is inserted therebetween. For example, jaw structures 113, 114 are mounted on the respective male drive shaft 17 and mating female drive frame 19, each having its respective interior clamping surface 126 facing generally toward the interior clamping surface of the opposing jaw structure and inclines toward the device mounting surface 124 of the respective jaw structure 113, 114.
  • The stationary and movable jaw structures 113, 114 are structured for accommodating devices D within a range of different thickness dimensions T. According to one embodiment of the invention, the-apparatus 10 is illustrated here having the interior clamping surfaces 126 projected above the device mounting surfaces 124 of the base flanges 115, 116 for accommodating devices D of thicknesses T between a minimum and a maximum, where the minimum and maximum thicknesses T are typical for devices D of the type described herein currently available in the market. By example and without limitation, the stationary and movable jaw structures 113, 114 each have an interior opening 140 that encompass the entire range of device thicknesses T between the device mounting surface 124 of the base flanges 115, 116 and distal extents of the interior clamping surfaces 126.
  • According to one embodiment of the invention, the interior clamping surfaces 126 of the stationary and movable jaw structures 113, 114 form respective angles a, b with the device mounting surface 126. The angles a, b of the respective clamping surfaces 126 are any angle between 0, and 90 degrees, inclusive. However, according to one embodiment of the invention, the angles a, b of the respective clamping surfaces 126 are any angle in the range between about 45 degrees and about 75 degrees, inclusive. According to another embodiment of the invention, the angles a, b of the respective clamping surfaces 126 are about 75 degrees, but according to other embodiments of the invention can optionally vary + or −15 degrees or more, from about 60 to 90 degrees.
  • According to one embodiment of the invention, the angles a of the clamping surfaces 126 on the stationary jaw structure 113 are about the same as the angles b of the clamping surfaces 126 on the movable jaw structure 114. The angularly inclined clamping surfaces 126 facing inwardly and downwardly toward the device mounting surfaces 124 permit the jaw structures 113, 114 to engage the opposing superior shoulder portions S1, S2 on upper edges of the inserted device D anywhere along the entire length of the inclined clamping surfaces 126 so that devices D having different thicknesses T are easily accommodated, without adjustments in the positions of the clamping surfaces 126 relative to the device mounting surfaces 124.
  • As indicated by the arrows, the spring-loaded clamping mechanism 12 urges the elastically biased movable jaw structure 114 to approach the relatively stationary jaw structure 113 along the longitudinal drive axis L of the spring-return clamping mechanism 12. Urging the elastically biased movable jaw structure 114 simultaneously urges the opposing clamping surfaces 126 to approach one another along the longitudinal drive axis L such that the angularly inclined clamping surfaces 126 press on the opposing shoulder portions S1, S2 of the of the inserted device D to compress the inserted device D downwardly toward the device mounting surface 124. The inserted device D is thereby captured between the opposing inclined clamping surfaces 126 and the device mounting surfaces 124 of the base flanges 115, 116.
  • According to one embodiment of the invention, the two jaw structures 113, 114 are optionally formed of a generally stiff but slightly flexible material such as sheet metal or plastic. Accordingly, the two jaw structures 113, 114 operate as springs to compress the inclined clamping surfaces 126 inwardly toward the opposite jaw structure and downwardly toward the respective device mounting surface 124. Additionally, the slightly flexible material operates to accommodate a slight variation in width W of the device D inserted therebetween.
  • The spring-return clamping mechanism 12 drives the jaw structures 113, 114 expandably together substantially along the common longitudinal drive axis L of the mating male drive shaft 17 and female drive frame 19 for forming mouth opening M of variable length between the opposing clamping surfaces 126. The width of the mouth opening M between the opposing clamping surfaces 126 is expanded by forcing apart the movable male drive shaft 17 and relatively stationary female drive frame 19 along the common longitudinal drive axis L as the spring-return clamping mechanism 12 simultaneously urges the jaw structures 113, 114 back together for capturing and securing a device D inserted therebetween.
  • The jaw structures 113, 114 and their respective clamping surfaces 126 are each optionally substantially symmetric relative to the common longitudinal drive axis L of the clamping mechanism 12. Optionally, the structures 113, 114 are substantially identical, including their respective base flanges 115, 116 and inclined clamping surfaces 126.
  • According to one embodiment of the invention, at least a distal portion of each of the individual inclined fingers 138 is encased in a plastic or rubber coating or cover 142 that forms the respective clamping surfaces 126. For example, the coating or cover 142 has a high coefficient of friction relative to the fingers 138 for increased, gripping of an inserted device D. Alternatively, the coating or cover 142 is a gritty sandpaper or sandpaper-like substance having relatively high coefficient of friction. Additionally, the coating or cover 142 is slightly raised relative to the fingers 138 such that the respective clamping surfaces 126 are formed on top of the coating or cover 142 at the distal ends of the fingers 138.
  • Additionally, one or both of the jaw structures 113, 114 includes means for attaching additional mounting structures thereto external of the interior jaw opening 140. By example and without limitation, the attaching means is provided by a pattern 144 of mounting holes 146 through the end walls 136 of respective base flanges 115, 116. The mounting holes 146 may be countersunk or counter bored holes that permit fasteners therethrough to be recessed into the respective end walls 136 to avoid interference with an inserted device D.
  • An additional mounting structure 148 is optionally attached to one or both of the jaw structures 113, 114, as shown for stationary jaw structure 113. By example and without limitation, the additional mounting structure 148 is optionally formed having a small sphere 150 of resiliently compressible material of the type described, for example, in above incorporated U.S. Pat. No. 5,845,885, UNIVERSALLY POSITIONABLE MOUNTING DEVICE. The sphere 150 may be projected from a mounting plate 152 on a post 154 for access by a pair of clamping arms of the type described, for example, in above incorporated U.S. Pat. No. 5,845,885, that together form a socket that is positionally secured relative to the sphere 150 when a clamping mechanism of the type described, for example, in above incorporated U.S. Pat. No. 5,845,885, is tightened.
  • FIG. 6 is a different perspective view that illustrates the alternative releasably-clamped universal cradle apparatus 100 of the present invention. Here, the longitudinal slots 57 are shown as continuous longitudinal slots through the flange 59 on the female drive frame 19 for mating with the slots or holes 156 through the body 128 of base flange 115 of the stationary jaw structure 113. As illustrated, the mating holes 156 and longitudinal slots 57 permit the base flange 115 of the jaw structure 113 to be moved to different positions along the mating flange 59 on the female drive frame 19, as illustrated by the arrow, by merely loosening and subsequently tightening the fasteners 51 therebetween. The mouth opening M between the jaw structures 113, 114 is thereby temporarily or permanently adjustable along the longitudinal drive axis L for operating within a different larger or smaller expansive range.
  • The movable jaw structure 114 is mated to the flange 53 on the male drive shaft 17 by multiple fasteners 51 through the body 128 of base flange 116.
  • While the preferred embodiment of the invention has been illustrated and described, it will be appreciated that various changes can be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Therefore, the inventor makes the following claims.

Claims (20)

1. A universal cradle apparatus, comprising:
a telescoping clamping mechanism,.comprising:
(i) a male drive shaft and a mating female drive channel,
(ii) a biasing member between the drive shaft and the drive channel for elastically biasing the drive shaft toward the drive channel substantially along a common axis,
(iii) a locking mechanism structured for constraining the biasing member between the drive shaft and the drive channel, and
(iv) one of the drive shaft and the drive channel being structured for being secured to an external mounting surface; and
a pair of substantially rigid jaw structures each structured for being secured to a respective one of the male and female portions of the clamping mechanism, each of the jaw structures having a respective mounting surface coupled to respective one of the drive shaft and drive channel and having a clamping surface projected therefrom and forming mutually opposing interior clamping surfaces arranged therebetween.
2. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein:
the female linear drive channel further comprises two surfaces that are spaced apart to receive the male linear drive shaft and the biasing member therebetween;
the locking mechanism further comprises a locking key engaging the biasing member and being interlocked with at least one of the two spaced apart surfaces; and
one of the locking key and one of the spaced-apart surfaces is structured to resiliently flex for positioning the locking key between the two spaced apart surfaces and is further structured to relax for interlocking the locking key between the two spaced apart, surfaces after the locking key is positioned.
3. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein at least one of the spaced-apart surfaces further comprises a resiliently flexible surface.
4. The apparatus of claim 3 wherein the locking key further comprises a substantially rigid body.
5. The apparatus of claim 2, further comprising adjustable mounting structure between one of the jaw structures and a respective one of the male and female portions of the clamping mechanism.
6. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein the female linear drive channel further comprises a hollow cross-leg shaped channel, and the male drive shaft further comprises a mating cross-leg shaped portion.
7. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein one of the clamping surfaces further comprises means for biasing an object inserted between the jaw structures toward the respective mounting surface.
8. A universal cradle apparatus, comprising:
first and second jaw structures each having a device mounting surface and an interior clamping surface projected there above and inclined there toward;
a telescoping clamping mechanism, comprising:
(i) a female linear drive channel formed of a pair of spaced-apart walls having an opening therebetween, at least one of the walls being resiliently flexible, and at least one of the walls having a notch formed therein adjacent to the opening,
(ii) a compression spring sized to fit between the spaced apart walls of the female linear drive channel,
(iii) a male drive shaft sized to slidingly fit between the spaced-apart walls, the drive shaft having the device mounting surface of the first jaw structure positioned adjacent to a first end thereof and a second end thereof being structured for engaging a first end of the spring, and
(iv) a locking key having a body portions sized to fit between the spaced-apart walls, the body portion having a detent structured to substantially permanently interlock with the notch and to engage a second end of the spring;
the device mounting surface of the second jaw structure positioned on the drive channel and arranged to cooperate with the first jaw; and
a substantially rigid base plate positioned on the clamping mechanism, the base plate being structured for being coupled to an external surface.
9. The apparatus of claim 8 wherein the opening between the pair of spaced-apart walls further extends therebetween for an entire length of at least one of the walls.
10. The apparatus of claim 9 wherein:
the body portion and detent are further substantially rigid and inflexible,
the female linear drive channel further comprises a second pair of spaced-apart walls arranged substantially crosswise to a first pair and communicating therewith, the second pair of spaced-apart walls having an opening therebetween; and
the male drive shaft further comprises first and second crosswise portions sized to slidingly fit between the respective first and second pairs of spaced-apart walls.
11. The apparatus of claim 10 wherein the first and second pairs of spaced-apart walls are further arranged in a substantially T-shaped formation, and the first and second crosswise portions of the male drive shaft are further arranged in a mating formation.
12. The apparatus of claim 8 wherein the interior clamping surface further comprises one or more individual fingers inclined toward the device mounting surface and forming an angle therewith in the range of about forty-five degrees to about ninety degrees.
13. The apparatus of claim 12 wherein the device mounting surface further comprises a pair of outstretched arms extended on opposite sides thereof about a common operational axis of the drive channel and drive shaft.
14. The apparatus of claim 8 wherein one of the first jaw and the second jaw is further adjustably positionable relative the respective drive shaft and drive channel.
15. universal cradle apparatus, comprising:
first and second jaw structures each having a base flange formed with a substantially planar device mounting surface and an interior clamping surface projected above the device mounting surface and inclined there toward at an angle between about forty-five degrees and about ninety degrees;
a telescoping clamping mechanism, comprising:
(i) a frame member forming a substantially rigid T-shaped channel having an opening thereinto formed at a first end thereof and having a substantially rigid but resiliently flexible wall structure that includes at least one notch formed therein adjacent to the opening;
(ii) a substantially rigid bar having an elongated T-shaped drive shaft extending from a first end thereof, the elongated drive shaft being structured to be slidingly received into the T-shaped channel through the opening thereinto and further including a spring engagement structure formed distal from the first end of the bar,
(iii) a locking key having at least one substantially rigid detent projecting from a substantially rigid body portion, the detent being structured to interlock with the notch formed in the T-shaped channel, and
(iv) a compression spring that is sized to be received into the T-shaped channel through the opening thereinto and is further sized to be at least partly compressed when positioned between the locking key and the spring engagement structure of the elongated drive shaft;
the base flange of the first jaw structure coupled to the bar adjacent to the first end thereof; and
the base flange of the second jaw structure coupled to the frame member.
16. The apparatus of claim 15 wherein the wall structure of the T-shaped channel further comprises a pair of notches formed therein adjacent to the opening and at opposite sides thereof; and
the locking key further comprises a pair of substantially rigid detents projecting from opposite sides of the body portion, the detents being structured to interlock with the pair of notches formed in the T-shaped channel.
17. The apparatus of claim 16 wherein the locking key further comprises a substantially rigid elongated body having a substantially rectangular cross-section, a substantially rectangular shoulder portion formed at a first end of the elongated body, and an integral tab structured to engage one end of the compression spring.
18. The apparatus of claim 15 wherein the elongated T-shaped drive shaft further comprises an elongated lengthwise slot formed therein and further including the spring engagement structure formed adjacent one end thereof, and
the compression spring residing in the lengthwise slot and engaged with the spring engagement structure formed therein.
19. The apparatus of claim 15 wherein the base flange of the respective first and second jaw structures each further comprise a central body with a pair of outstretched arms extended on opposite sides thereof forming the device mounting surface arranged along a common operational axis of the channel and drive shaft, a distal portion of each of the outstretched arms having an elastomeric material coupled thereto.
20. The apparatus of claim 19 wherein the frame member further comprises a flange structure having a pair of longitudinal slots formed therethrough and arranged substantially along a common operational axis of the channel and drive shaft, and the second jaw structure being positionally adjustable along the slots.
US11/243,846 2003-08-07 2005-10-05 Quick release mounting apparatus Abandoned US20060026807A1 (en)

Priority Applications (3)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
US10/636,058 US7017243B2 (en) 2003-08-07 2003-08-07 Secure interface cradle for pocket personal computer device
US11/191,549 US7571522B2 (en) 2003-08-07 2005-07-28 Quick draw cradle apparatus
US11/243,846 US20060026807A1 (en) 2003-08-07 2005-10-05 Quick release mounting apparatus

Applications Claiming Priority (4)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
US11/243,846 US20060026807A1 (en) 2003-08-07 2005-10-05 Quick release mounting apparatus
US11/345,591 US7523528B2 (en) 2005-07-28 2006-01-31 Thumb release mounting apparatus
US11/345,590 US7647676B2 (en) 2005-07-28 2006-01-31 Thumb release mounting apparatus
US12/386,480 US8176603B2 (en) 2005-07-28 2009-04-17 Universal cradle apparatus

Related Parent Applications (1)

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US11/191,549 Continuation-In-Part US7571522B2 (en) 2003-08-07 2005-07-28 Quick draw cradle apparatus

Related Child Applications (2)

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US11/345,591 Continuation-In-Part US7523528B2 (en) 2003-08-07 2006-01-31 Thumb release mounting apparatus
US11/345,590 Continuation-In-Part US7647676B2 (en) 2003-08-07 2006-01-31 Thumb release mounting apparatus

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US20080296449A1 (en) * 2007-05-31 2008-12-04 Carnevali Jeffrey D Quick release electronics platform
US20080296821A1 (en) * 2007-05-31 2008-12-04 Carnevali Jeffrey D Quick release electronics platform
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USD779477S1 (en) * 2012-08-20 2017-02-21 Jeffrey D. Carnevali Swing arm clamp
USD824750S1 (en) * 2012-08-20 2018-08-07 Jeffrey D. Carnevali Swing arm clamp

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US7551458B2 (en) 2005-05-24 2009-06-23 Carnevali Jeffrey D Secure universal mounting apparatus
US20080296454A1 (en) * 2007-05-31 2008-12-04 Carnevali Jeffrey D Convertible C-Clamp
US20080296449A1 (en) * 2007-05-31 2008-12-04 Carnevali Jeffrey D Quick release electronics platform
US20080296821A1 (en) * 2007-05-31 2008-12-04 Carnevali Jeffrey D Quick release electronics platform
US20090212189A1 (en) * 2007-05-31 2009-08-27 Carnevali Jeffrey D Quick release electronics platform
US7823844B2 (en) 2007-05-31 2010-11-02 Carnevali Jeffrey D Quick release electronics platform
US7891618B2 (en) * 2007-05-31 2011-02-22 Carnevali Jeffrey D Convertible C-clamp
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