WO2003019506A1 - Illuminated sign or display apparatus and mounting of circuit devices - Google Patents

Illuminated sign or display apparatus and mounting of circuit devices Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2003019506A1
WO2003019506A1 PCT/AU2002/001199 AU0201199W WO03019506A1 WO 2003019506 A1 WO2003019506 A1 WO 2003019506A1 AU 0201199 W AU0201199 W AU 0201199W WO 03019506 A1 WO03019506 A1 WO 03019506A1
Authority
WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
light
display
ribbon
illuminated sign
solid state
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/AU2002/001199
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
David Field Showers
Malcolm Wesley Oldis
Kenneth Robert Goddard
Original Assignee
Showers International Pty Ltd
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 AUPR7388A priority Critical patent/AUPR738801A0/en
Priority to AUPR7388 priority
Priority to AUPS0085 priority
Priority to AUPS0085A priority patent/AUPS008502A0/en
Priority to AUPS1573A priority patent/AUPS157302A0/en
Priority to AUPS1573 priority
Application filed by Showers International Pty Ltd filed Critical Showers International Pty Ltd
Publication of WO2003019506A1 publication Critical patent/WO2003019506A1/en

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Classifications

    • HELECTRICITY
    • H05ELECTRIC TECHNIQUES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • H05KPRINTED CIRCUITS; CASINGS OR CONSTRUCTIONAL DETAILS OF ELECTRIC APPARATUS; MANUFACTURE OF ASSEMBLAGES OF ELECTRICAL COMPONENTS
    • H05K3/00Apparatus or processes for manufacturing printed circuits
    • H05K3/30Assembling printed circuits with electric components, e.g. with resistor
    • H05K3/32Assembling printed circuits with electric components, e.g. with resistor electrically connecting electric components or wires to printed circuits
    • H05K3/34Assembling printed circuits with electric components, e.g. with resistor electrically connecting electric components or wires to printed circuits by soldering
    • H05K3/3405Edge mounted components, e.g. terminals
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F21LIGHTING
    • F21SNON-PORTABLE LIGHTING DEVICES; SYSTEMS THEREOF; VEHICLE LIGHTING DEVICES SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR VEHICLE EXTERIORS
    • F21S4/00Lighting devices or systems using a string or strip of light sources
    • F21S4/20Lighting devices or systems using a string or strip of light sources with light sources held by or within elongate supports
    • GPHYSICS
    • G09EDUCATION; CRYPTOGRAPHY; DISPLAY; ADVERTISING; SEALS
    • G09FDISPLAYING; ADVERTISING; SIGNS; LABELS OR NAME-PLATES; SEALS
    • G09F13/00Illuminated signs; Luminous advertising
    • G09F13/20Illuminated signs; Luminous advertising with luminescent surfaces or parts
    • G09F13/22Illuminated signs; Luminous advertising with luminescent surfaces or parts electroluminescent
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H01BASIC ELECTRIC ELEMENTS
    • H01RELECTRICALLY-CONDUCTIVE CONNECTIONS; STRUCTURAL ASSOCIATIONS OF A PLURALITY OF MUTUALLY-INSULATED ELECTRICAL CONNECTING ELEMENTS; COUPLING DEVICES; CURRENT COLLECTORS
    • H01R33/00Coupling devices specially adapted for supporting apparatus and having one part acting as a holder providing support and electrical connection via a counterpart which is structurally associated with the apparatus, e.g. lamp holders; Separate parts thereof
    • H01R33/05Two-pole devices
    • H01R33/06Two-pole devices with two current-carrying pins, blades or analogous contacts, having their axes parallel to each other
    • H01R33/09Two-pole devices with two current-carrying pins, blades or analogous contacts, having their axes parallel to each other for baseless lamp bulb
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F21LIGHTING
    • F21YINDEXING SCHEME ASSOCIATED WITH SUBCLASSES F21K, F21L, F21S and F21V, RELATING TO THE FORM OR THE KIND OF THE LIGHT SOURCES OR OF THE COLOUR OF THE LIGHT EMITTED
    • F21Y2115/00Light-generating elements of semiconductor light sources
    • F21Y2115/10Light-emitting diodes [LED]
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H01BASIC ELECTRIC ELEMENTS
    • H01RELECTRICALLY-CONDUCTIVE CONNECTIONS; STRUCTURAL ASSOCIATIONS OF A PLURALITY OF MUTUALLY-INSULATED ELECTRICAL CONNECTING ELEMENTS; COUPLING DEVICES; CURRENT COLLECTORS
    • H01R12/00Structural associations of a plurality of mutually-insulated electrical connecting elements, specially adapted for printed circuits, e.g. printed circuit boards [PCBs], flat or ribbon cables, or like generally planar structures, e.g. terminal strips, terminal blocks; Coupling devices specially adapted for printed circuits, flat or ribbon cables, or like generally planar structures; Terminals specially adapted for contact with, or insertion into, printed circuits, flat or ribbon cables, or like generally planar structures
    • H01R12/70Coupling devices
    • H01R12/71Coupling devices for rigid printing circuits or like structures
    • H01R12/72Coupling devices for rigid printing circuits or like structures coupling with the edge of the rigid printed circuits or like structures
    • H01R12/721Coupling devices for rigid printing circuits or like structures coupling with the edge of the rigid printed circuits or like structures cooperating directly with the edge of the rigid printed circuits
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H01BASIC ELECTRIC ELEMENTS
    • H01RELECTRICALLY-CONDUCTIVE CONNECTIONS; STRUCTURAL ASSOCIATIONS OF A PLURALITY OF MUTUALLY-INSULATED ELECTRICAL CONNECTING ELEMENTS; COUPLING DEVICES; CURRENT COLLECTORS
    • H01R12/00Structural associations of a plurality of mutually-insulated electrical connecting elements, specially adapted for printed circuits, e.g. printed circuit boards [PCBs], flat or ribbon cables, or like generally planar structures, e.g. terminal strips, terminal blocks; Coupling devices specially adapted for printed circuits, flat or ribbon cables, or like generally planar structures; Terminals specially adapted for contact with, or insertion into, printed circuits, flat or ribbon cables, or like generally planar structures
    • H01R12/70Coupling devices
    • H01R12/77Coupling devices for flexible printed circuits, flat or ribbon cables or like structures
    • H01R12/778Coupling parts carrying sockets, clips or analogous counter-contacts
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H05ELECTRIC TECHNIQUES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • H05KPRINTED CIRCUITS; CASINGS OR CONSTRUCTIONAL DETAILS OF ELECTRIC APPARATUS; MANUFACTURE OF ASSEMBLAGES OF ELECTRICAL COMPONENTS
    • H05K1/00Printed circuits
    • H05K1/18Printed circuits structurally associated with non-printed electric components
    • H05K1/182Printed circuits structurally associated with non-printed electric components associated with components mounted in the printed circuit board, e.g. insert mounted components [IMC]
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H05ELECTRIC TECHNIQUES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • H05KPRINTED CIRCUITS; CASINGS OR CONSTRUCTIONAL DETAILS OF ELECTRIC APPARATUS; MANUFACTURE OF ASSEMBLAGES OF ELECTRICAL COMPONENTS
    • H05K1/00Printed circuits
    • H05K1/18Printed circuits structurally associated with non-printed electric components
    • H05K1/189Printed circuits structurally associated with non-printed electric components characterised by the use of a flexible or folded printed circuit
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H05ELECTRIC TECHNIQUES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • H05KPRINTED CIRCUITS; CASINGS OR CONSTRUCTIONAL DETAILS OF ELECTRIC APPARATUS; MANUFACTURE OF ASSEMBLAGES OF ELECTRICAL COMPONENTS
    • H05K2201/00Indexing scheme relating to printed circuits covered by H05K1/00
    • H05K2201/10Details of components or other objects attached to or integrated in a printed circuit board
    • H05K2201/10007Types of components
    • H05K2201/10106Light emitting diode [LED]
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H05ELECTRIC TECHNIQUES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • H05KPRINTED CIRCUITS; CASINGS OR CONSTRUCTIONAL DETAILS OF ELECTRIC APPARATUS; MANUFACTURE OF ASSEMBLAGES OF ELECTRICAL COMPONENTS
    • H05K2201/00Indexing scheme relating to printed circuits covered by H05K1/00
    • H05K2201/10Details of components or other objects attached to or integrated in a printed circuit board
    • H05K2201/10431Details of mounted components
    • H05K2201/10439Position of a single component
    • H05K2201/10446Mounted on an edge

Abstract

Illuminated sign or display apparatus includes support structure, an elongate opening in the support structure, and an elongate translucent body mounted in the opening. Means is provided for retaining a plurality of spaced light sources at a first side of the support structure in proximity to the elongate body, whereby the body and the light sources are mutually arranged so that the light sources when activated cause the body to glow and to appear, at a second side of the support structure, as a strip or line of light.

Description

ILLUMINATED SIGN OR DISPLAY APPARATUS AND MOUNTING OF CIRCUIT
DEVICES
Field of the invention
This invention relates generally in some aspects to the field of illuminated signs and displays and in other aspects to the mounting of electronic circuit devices such as light emitting diodes to circuit boards and ribbons.
Background Art
Illuminated display signs are conventionally formed as neon tubes or as translucent panels backlit by fluorescent tubes or by incandescent lamps. Often, the two are combined in the one configuration. Neon signs have been a pervasive presence in the night time ambience of urban commercial precincts for many years. A survey of any one of these precincts at any given time will reveal a significant proportion of poorly or partly functioning neon tube signs. Frequently, signs are in imperfect order for extended periods, reflecting the time and cost involved in fault rectification.
In recent times, a new light source has emerged in the field of illumination, ie solid state lamp devices, most commonly light emitting diodes (LEDs). These have been widely employed for many years for small scale indicator and display purposes but their development for illumination applications has become feasible as the light output and uniformity of LEDs has been progressively enhanced. For these applications LEDs have become commercially available in a variety of packages or sets in which rigid substrates mount different numbers and types of LEDs in varied arrays, as well as in individual packages of single LEDs.
International patent publication WO99/06759 discloses a modular strip lighting system in which linear arrays of LEDs are mounted on printed circuit board
(pcb) substrates within elongate part tubular housings. These housings are attached in turn to backing rails and thereby employed to highlight commercial or building features such as sign boards and external ridges or edges. The housings are formed in a material which disperses the LED light so that the housings glow as a strip or line of light.
The present applicant's international patent application PCT/AU 01/00630 extends the use of solid state lamp devices to illuminated signs. In this arrangement, an array of solid state lamp devices such as LEDs backlight an overlying translucent sheet and thereby cause illumination of sign content provided on, or in conjunction with, the sheet.
It is an object to the invention, at least in some aspects, to provide further improvements in illuminated sign technology that, in particular applications, allows solid state lamp devices to be used to advantage.
In particular aspects, it is an object of the invention to provide improved arrangements for mounting and positioning electronic circuit devices that, when adapted to the mounting and positioning of solid state lamp devices, facilitate their application to illuminated signs and displays.
Summary of the Invention
The invention involves an appreciation that it is possible to incorporate spaced light sources such as solid state lamp devices into a construction which may be adapted to substitute for neon tube technology.
The invention accordingly provides, in a first aspect, illuminated sign or display apparatus including:
• support structure;
• an elongate opening in the support structure;
• an elongate translucent body mounted in said opening; and • means for retaining a plurality of spaced light sources at a first side of said support structure in proximity to said elongate body, whereby said body and said light sources are mutually arranged so that the light sources when activated cause said body to glow and to appear, at a second side of said support structure, as a strip or line of light.
In a second aspect, the invention provides illuminated sign or display apparatus including:
• support structure;
• an elongate translucent body;
• a plurality of spaced light sources;
• means mounting said light sources with respect to said support structure; and
• means for supporting said elongate translucent body with respect to said spaced light sources, whereby said body and said light sources are mutually arranged so that the light sources when activated cause said body to glow and to appear as a strip or line of light.
The spaced light sources are preferably solid state light devices such as light emitting diode devices. The light sources, especially the latter preferred light sources, are advantageously incorporated in the illuminated sign apparatus and are retained at the first side of the support structure in proximity to the elongate body.
Preferably, the elongate translucent body is light dispersive, more preferably so that the strip or line of light appears to be of substantially uniform brightness. However, in other embodiments, the light sources may be individually visible and/or the strip or line of light may be non-continuous, and/or of variable brightness, and/or an array, eg. a linear array, of segments. Preferably, the means for retaining the plurality of spaced light sources at the first side of the support structure is such that the light sources are, when in position, mounted to the elongate body. In one embodiment, the retaining means comprises a formation on the body defining a recess in which the light sources may be mounted. In an alternative embodiment, the retaining means is a clip or clip configuration removably attachable to the elongate body.
The solid state light devices or light emitting diode devices typically comprise packages in each of which the solid state light element, for example a light emitting diode, is mounted on a substrate that has terminals by which electrical power may be supplied to the package for activating the solid state light element.
In an advantageous arrangement, multiple solid state light devices are fixed at spaced intervals to an electrical circuit board or ribbon.
The elongate translucent and preferably light dispersive body is advantageously an extruded piece of substantially uniform cross section. A suitable material is a polyvinyl chloride plastics polymer or a silicone rubber.
The elongate body may be substantially solid or may include a longitudinally extending cavity which in the assembled apparatus is disposed at or towards the second side of the support structure.
The elongate translucent body preferably includes deformable longitudinally extending formations such as ribs whereby the body may be pushed through the elongate opening in the support structure and held in place by engagement of these formations with the support structure.
The support structure may conveniently be a panel. This panel would in a typical practical application form an outer face of a sign housing. In some embodiments, the sign housing may further include other light sources, eg fluorescent tubes or incandescent lamps, positioned to backlight the panel support structure. Typically, there are a plurality of the elongate translucent and preferably light dispersive bodies configured to form a symbol, pattern, character or set of characters, eg a word. In such a configuration, the sign would have an appearance from a distance similar to a conventional signs formed from neon tubes.
Preferably, at the second side of the support structure, the elongate translucent body projects above the surrounding support structure so as to have the appearance of an elongate tube. This portion of the body may be solid or tubular and may be of generally curved, circular or elliptical appearance, at least on its exposed surface.
In a third aspect of the invention, it has been realised that the conventional practice of surface mounting electronic circuit devices on circuit boards may be modified with significant advantage.
In the third aspect of the invention, there is provided an array of solid state light devices, for example light emitting diode devices, in which the light devices are fixed along and project laterally from an edge of a circuit board or ribbon with their central axes generally parallel to the plane of the board or ribbon and at least two electrical contacts, eg. contact pins, of each light device in operative contact with the circuit on the board or ribbon.
In the third aspect, the invention further provides an assembly of an electronic circuit device and a circuit board or ribbon, wherein the electronic circuit device has at least two contact pins depending therefrom and the circuit device is mounted at an edge of the circuit board or ribbon with said at least two contact pins conductively attached to respective faces of the board or ribbon. In an advantageous application, the electronic circuit device is a solid state light source, eg. a light emitting diode. There may advantageously be an array of the devices arranged along said edge of the board or ribbon.
Preferably, said contact pins are bent in towards each other, then outwardly with respect to said electronic circuit device so as to define end portions that are separated by the circuit board or ribbon and conductively attached thereto. Advantageously, the third aspect of the invention is utilised for the mounting of the solid state light devices in the first and second aspects of the invention. In the third aspect of the invention, there is further provided a light tube including:
an elongate translucent body defining a longitudinally extending cavity;
a plurality of spaced solid state light devices in said cavity;
an elongate electrical circuit board or ribbon supporting said solid state light devices at intervals along said cavity wherein the solid state light devices are fixed along and project laterally from an edge of said circuit board or ribbon; and
wherein the solid state light devices are fixed along and project laterally from an edge of said circuit board or ribbon with their central axes generally parallel to the plane of the board or ribbon and at least two electrical contacts of each light device in operative contact with the circuit on the board or ribbon.
In a more general aspect of the invention incorporating elements of other aspects, there is still further provided a light tube including:
an elongate translucent body defining a pair of longitudinally extending cavities;
a plurality of spaced solid state light devices in one of said cavities; and
an elongate electrical circuit board or ribbon supporting said solid state light devices at intervals along said one cavity..
Preferably the solid state light devices are fixed along and project laterally from an edge of the circuit board or ribbon with their central axes generally parallel to the plane of the board or ribbon and at least two electrical contacts of each light device in operative contact with the circuit on the board or ribbon. Brief Description of the Drawings
The invention will now be further described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:
Figure 1 is a diagrammatic representation of a simple sign apparatus incorporating LEDs and displaying the letter "A", being a first embodiment according to the invention;
Figure 2 is a fragmentary isometric sectioned view of part of the apparatus of Figure 1 ;
Figure 3 illustrates a modified embodiment of the invention and also shows, in a fragmentary fashion, the mounting of the LEDs to a flexible circuit ribbon;
Figure 4 is another view of an array of LEDs along an edge of a flexible circuit ribbon;
Figures 5 6 are fragmentary cross-section showing alternative pin configurations for fixing each LED to a side edge of a circuit ribbon;
Figure 7 shows how a flexible circuit ribbon can be adapted to locate and retain surface-mounted LEDs;
Figure 8 is a cross-sectional view, corresponding in part to Figure 3, of a third embodiment of the invention;
Figure 9 is a sequence of diagrams illustrating the assembly of the sign apparatus of Figure 8 from a set of components;
Figure 10 illustrates the use of a saddle element to retain cut-out panel portions; Figures 11 , 12 and 13 are cross-sections depicting, somewhat diagrammatically, further alternative forms of the translucent light dispersive body;
Figure 14 is an alternative embodiment to that of Figures 1 to 3;
Figure 15 depicts application of the embodiment of Figure 14 to back- illumination in a sign canister;
Figures 16 and 17 are an exploded isometric view and a cross-section of a further embodiment of the invention; and
Figure 18 is a simple illustration of the use of the embodiments of Figures 14, 16 and 17.
Description of Preferred Embodiments
The sign apparatus illustrated in Figure 1 is diagrammatically represented as a simple sign displaying an upper case "A" on a plain background. The plain background is provided by a cover panel 12 for an open-topped housing 14 in the form of a generally rectangular box. Although not shown in Figure 1 , this housing would typically also include one or more fluorescent tubes, or possibly suitable incandescent lamps, for backlighting panel 12. Panel 12 would typically be a translucent or partially transparent polycarbonate sheet of a selected colour.
The character "A" is provided in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the invention. It is defined by three elongate, transverse, translucent and preferably light dispersive solid bodies 16 (separately indicated in Figure 1 as 16a, 16b, 16c) mounted in matching elongate openings 18 in the support structure provided by panel 12. Bodies 16 comprise extrusions of a selected polyvinyl chloride material of uniform cross section of the form shown in Figure 2. The principal components of this cross section are an outer portion 20 of generally cylindrical appearance, mid-portion 22 which lies in opening 18, and inner portion 24. Portion 24 defines, along the rear face of the extrusion, a longitudinally extending recess 26 that snugly receives, at spaced intervals, LED packages 30. Packages 30 are retained by return lips 25, which may typically be resiliently deflectable to allow packages 30 to be snapped into place.
Inner portion 24 is also dimensioned to fit through opening 18 and the extrusion is held in place in the opening by the co-operation with panel 12 of respective flared ribs 28 that engage the outer surface of the panel and deflectable flanges 29 that are inclined so as to each deflect into a respective matching depression 27 in the sides of the extrusion as it is pushed through the opening 18 from the outside of panel 12. These flanges 29 snap back under panel 12 when the extrusion reaches its desired location and the panel 12 is gripped between ribs 28 and flanges 29.
LED packages 30 are commercially available packages comprising a body or base 32, four depending contact leads 33 arranged in a square array, and the actual light emitting diode 34. Suitable LEDs include the Super Flux, High Flux or 5mm LEDs supplied by LumiLeds or Agilent Technologies, but any other appropriate LED may be employed. LEDs 34 seat snugly in a longitudinally extending groove or channel 36 in the surface of recess 26.
Electrical power for activating LEDs 34, eg 5 volts DC, is delivered from a power pack 42 to the array of LEDs along extrusion 16 via a printed circuit board (pcb) or circuit ribbon 40. A preferred arrangement in accordance with an embodiment of the third aspect of the invention, that utilises edge mounting of the LEDs to a flexible circuit ribbon, is detailed in Figures 3 to 6. The packages 30 are fixed along and project laterally from an edge of the ribbon, rather than being surface mounted as is the conventional arrangement, with their central axes generally parallel to the plane of the ribbon and their pins conductively attached to respective faces of the ribbon. In one arrangement, depicted in Figures 3 and 4, the electrical contacts or legs 33 of the LED packages are soldered to contact pins 96 projecting from the ribbon surface and are thereby in operative electrical contact with the circuit 94 on ribbon 40. In an alternative arrangement (Figure 5), the normally straight legs 33' are bent inwardly at an angle to respective tips 33a that are folded back and lie flat against and are soldered to the ribbon circuit. The ribbon 40' is effectively sandwiched between the respective pairs of LED legs.
A further variation of the pin configuration is shown in Figure 6: the pins of each opposed pair of pins 33" are bent in towards each other, then outwardly with respect to body or base 32. The pins include aligned intermediate portions 133 generally parallel to but spaced from body or base 32, curving into splayed or divergent outward end portions 134. These end portions 134 are overturned and lie over intermediate portions 133. End portions 134 contact or almost contact but are separable to receive and grip the circuit ribbon to which they are then soldered. The splaying facilitates location relative to the ribbon in automatic assembly equipment.
Figure 7 illustrates an arrangement for providing smaller surface-mounted LEDs in recess 26, but still using flexible ribbon 40. Each LED 34' is on an individual projecting tab 98 of a castellated edge 99 of the ribbon. Each tab 98 is bent at 90° to place the LED at the inner face of the recess 26, while spaced packers 100 that interlock with the recess locate and maintain ribbon 40 as it trails rearwardly of the recess.
The power pack is depicted purely schematically at 42 in Figure 2. It will be appreciated that the power pack may include a programmable controller by which the sign apparatus may be animated, eg. the LEDs may be activated on and off in any desired sequence to create static or moving patterns of illumination. It will also be appreciated that more complex LED arrays might be used, for example LED packages having multiple LEDs of different colours or power outputs, or different coloured LEDs interspersed along the extrusion 16.
The material of extrusion 16, 16' may be chosen with respect to the arrangement of the extrusion and LEDs 34 so that the material uniformly disperses the light from the LEDs and the appearance is substantially that of uniform brightness along the length of the extrusion. However, the use of a light dispersant or diffusing material in the extrusion is optional. In some applications, the appearance of individual light sources will have a beneficial visual effect. The extrusion and the LEDs are preferably mutually arranged so that the light sources when activated cause the strip to glow and appear from in the front of panel 12 as a strip or line of light. A suitable material for the extrusion is a polyvinyl chloride polymer. For certain applications, it may be desirable to use a material treated or doped with an additive that causes the extrusions to have a residual fluorescing effect, ie. they continue to glow for some time, eg. several hours, after the LEDs 34 are deactivated and the material is no longer illuminated.
It will be appreciated that Figure 1 is only a simplified representation indicating the potential of the invention. By appropriate dimensioning of the sign, multiple lengths of the translucent and preferably light dispersive extrusion may be arranged to provide, within the physical constraints of the manipulation of the material, selected symbols, characters or patterns. In this way, the invention provides the ability to supplant traditional neon tube technology.
Figure 8, in which like numerals preceding by a "1" indicate like parts, illustrates a second embodiment of the invention. The principal difference from the embodiment of Figures 1 to 3 is that the LED package 30 is mounted to the translucent and light dispersive extrusion 116 by means of a complementary u- shaped clip 50. Clip 50 fits about the inner edge of the extrusion and is held in place by deflectable arms 52 releasably engaging opposed ribs 54 of semi-circular cross-section on the side faces of the extrusion. This embodiment also differs from the first in that the extrusion is arranged to be pushed through opening 118 from behind rather than from above: to this end, the cylindrical portion 120 is of a diameter smaller than the width of opening 118 and the inclined retractable flanges 129 sit on the outside of panel 112.
In a particularly useful application of the invention, the components of the sign may be supplied in flexible kit form to facilitate the construction of custom- made signs by local signmakers. This process is set out in the sequence of diagrams 1 to 7 in Figure 9, applying the embodiment of Figure 8. A panel 12 is first cut from a larger sheet 11 of polycarbonate material. The outline 17 of the symbol or character is then accurately formed on one face of panel 12 (step 2), and then the required elongate openings 18 are cut in the sheet with a suitable routing tool 70 (step 3). This step is completed (step 4) by squaring off the ends of the openings. The required lengths of extrusion 116 are cut from a longer piece and pushed through opening 18, as previously described (step 5). The LED packages 130 are now attached to the extrusion using clips 50, with the flexible circuit ribbon 40 already in place or attached subsequently (step 6). After complete assembly of the sign box, the arrangement is ready for power connection (step 7).
If the symbol or character results in an opening 18 which is a closed loop, eg. the closed portion (eg. 19 in Figure 1) of a letter A, B, D or P, two or more saddle elements may be employed to bridge the opening 18 and maintain the cutout panel portion in place. A suitable saddle element 80 is depicted in position in Figure 10. It has feet 82 glued to the rear of panel 12 and a linking web 83 shaped to bridge the rearwardly projecting circuit ribbon 40.
Figure 11 , in which like numerals preceded by a "2" indicate like parts, illustrates another alternative form of extrusion 216. This form is generally similar to the extrusion of Figure 2, and is placed in the panel 212 in the same way, but to create different optical effects, the cylindrical portion 220 is not solid but instead tubular by virtue of a longitudinal cavity 60. Moreover, the LEDs 234 are positioned closer to the cylindrical portion and to the cavity by a general shortening of the width of the extrusion: indeed the LEDs are located so as to protrude slightly above the actual location of opening 218 in panel 212. This arrangement is found to produce varied, optical effects in the viewing of the strips or lines of light.
Figure 12 is a squatter modification 316 of the extrusion 216 of Figure 11. Here, like parts are indicated by like numerals preceded by a "3". There is no longitudinal cavity 60, while ribs 228 have merged into respective rectangular shoulders 110 that engage the top surface of panel 12. The domed top surface 88 merges into shoulders 110. Flanges 229 are of more uniform thickness but have a less pronounced and more chamfered return lip. Indeed, the finger pressure needed to insert and withdraw the LEDs is now reduced and the retentive force is sufficient to maintain the LEDs in place but easily overcome by pulling out the LEDs. (That is, a press fit rather than the snap fit mentioned earlier for the embodiment of Figure 2). It will be seen in Figures 11 and 12 how, in these embodiments, the internal pressure of the LEDs on the inside faces of flanges enhances the engagement of the extrusion with the panel 12.
Figure 12 depicts another variation 416 of the extrusion of Figure 11. The inner side of the extrusion is generally similar, but the outer side is solid, ie. there is no cavity 60, and of a more protruding higher domed shape 417 in cross- section.
Figure 14 is an alternative arrangement of the second aspect of the invention. In this case, the pcb or circuit ribbon 540 is used to anchor the LED packages 530 to a support structure (not shown) via spaced U-shaped clips 500. The extrusion 516 is not supported in an opening of a plate but instead the clips 500 are fastened to the support structure, which may be, eg, a backing plate or any other suitable surface, and the extrusion 516 is carried by the line of LED packages by virtue of the engagement of the LED packages 530 in longitudinally extending recess 526 with latching lips 525.
With this embodiment, multiple extrusions 516 are arranged about and fixed to the backing plate or other suitable surface to form a sign or display assembly. For example, in a simple case, the illustrated "A" of Figure 1 can be provided, but in a manner outstanding from the surface rather than being seated in and protruding from cover panel 12. This arrangement is another suitable substitute for neon tube technology in signs and displays.
A variation of the embodiment of Figure 14 is depicted in Figure 15. Clips 500', or a continuous extrusion of similar cross-section, are fixed internally, eg. by adhesive, to the floor or rear face 605 of a sign canister 600. Sign canister 600 may typically be closed by a translucent cover 602 that is thus backlit by the LEDs 534', themselves fixed along a T-edge 510 of ribbon 540'. The sign canister may well be an elongate letter or other character channel. Figures 16 and 17 depict a further embodiment that incorporates elements of the embodiments of Figures 11 , 14 and 8. The translucent light dispersive body or extrusion 716 in this case is substantially hollow, and thereby highly flexible, by virtue of two longitudinally extending cavities 760, 762 separated by a web 764. Cavity 760 is within the outer domed portion 720, while cavity 762 includes a smaller segment defining a recess 726 that seats LED packages 730, and a segment 763 large enough to embrace circuit ribbon 740. Ribbon 740 sits upright in a slot 774 defined along the floor of cavity 762 by a pair of ribs 775. The LEDs 734 fit firmly in a longitudinally extending arcuate-section groove 736 in the wall of recess 726 defined by web 764, directly opposite slot 774.
The flexible extrusion 716 is attached to a backing plate or other support surface 712, in a manner similar to the embodiment of Figure 14, by a series of spaced moulded rectangular U-shaped clips 700. Clips 700 have return tabs 702 that engage complementary longitudinal grooves or slots 704 along the outsides of extrusion 716 just below web 764. The cross-web 706 of each clip 700 has a countersunk aperture 708 by which a screw 710 is employed to fasten the clip to a backing plate or other support surface 712. A simple example of a sign created in this way, an illuminated lower case "a", is depicted in Figure 18.
At each its ends, extrusion 716 is fitted with either a closure end cap or a coupling piece by which ribbon 740 is electrically coupled to another ribbon or to a suitable circuit connector.
Figures 16 and 17 also illustrate useful alternative modifications for boosting the current supply to a length of ribbon: respectively a booster electrical current lead 780 or a double (face-to-face) circuit ribbon assembly of two ribbons 785.
In a variation of each of the embodiments of Figures 14 to 17, the clips 500,
500', 700 are substituted by a continuous fastening channel, eg. typically of similar cross-section to the clips.

Claims

Illuminated sign or display apparatus including:
support structure;
an elongate opening in the support structure;
an elongate translucent body mounted in said opening; and
means for retaining a plurality of spaced light sources at a first side of said support structure in proximity to said elongate body, whereby said body and said light sources are mutually arranged so that the light sources when activated cause said body to glow and to appear, at a second side of said support structure, as a strip or line of light.
Illuminated sign or display apparatus according to claim 1 wherein said spaced light sources are solid state light devices.
Illuminated sign or display apparatus according to claim 2 wherein said spaced light sources are light emitting diode devices.
Illuminated sign or display apparatus according to claim 2 or 3 wherein said solid state light devices or light emitting diode devices comprise packages in each of which the solid state light element is mounted on a substrate that has terminals by which electrical power may be supplied to the package for activating the solid state light element.
Illuminated sign or display apparatus according to claim 2, 3 or 4, wherein multiple said solid state light devices are fixed at spaced intervals to an electrical circuit board or ribbon.
Illuminated sign or display apparatus according to claim 5, wherein the solid state light devices are fixed along and project laterally from an edge of said circuit board or ribbon with their central axes generally parallel to the plane of the board or ribbon and at least two electrical contacts of each light device in operative contact with the circuit on the board or ribbon.
Illuminated sign or display apparatus according to claim 6, wherein said contacts are contact pins bent in towards each other, then outwardly with respect to said solid state light device so as to define end portions that are separated by the circuit board or ribbon and conductively attached thereto.
Illuminated sign or display apparatus according to any preceding claim wherein said elongate translucent body is light dispersive.
Illuminated sign or display apparatus according to claim 8 wherein said elongate translucent body is light dispersive so that the strip or line of light appears to be of substantially uniform brightness.
Illuminated sign or display apparatus according to any preceding claim wherein said means for retaining the plurality of spaced light sources at the first side of the support structure is such that the light sources are, when in position, mounted to the elongate body.
Illuminated sign or display apparatus according to claim 10, wherein said retaining means comprises a formation on the body defining a recess in which the light sources may be mounted.
Illuminated sign or display apparatus according to claim 10, wherein said retaining means is a clip or clip configuration removably attachable to the elongate body.
Illuminated sign or display apparatus according to any preceding claim wherein said elongate translucent body is an extruded piece of substantially uniform cross section. Illuminated sign or display apparatus according to any preceding claim wherein said elongate translucent body is substantially solid.
Illuminated sign or display apparatus according to any one of claims 1 to 13 wherein said elongate translucent body includes a longitudinally extending cavity which in the assembled apparatus is disposed at or towards the second side of the support structure.
Illuminated sign or display apparatus according to any preceding claim wherein said elongate translucent body includes deformable longitudinally extending formations such as ribs whereby the body may be pushed through the elongate opening in the support structure and held in place by engagement of these formations with the support structure.
Illuminated sign or display apparatus according to any preceding claim wherein said support structure is a panel.
Illuminated sign or display apparatus according to claim 17 wherein said panel is an outer face of a sign housing.
Illuminated sign or display apparatus according to any preceding claim, including a plurality of said elongate translucent bodies configured to form a symbol, pattern, character or set of characters.
Illuminated sign or display apparatus according to claim 19 wherein the sign or display apparatus has an appearance from a distance similar to a conventional signs formed from neon tubes.
Illuminated sign or display apparatus according to any preceding claim, wherein, at the second side of the support structure, the elongate translucent body projects above the surrounding support structure so as to have the appearance of an elongate tube.
Illuminated sign or display apparatus including: support structure;
an elongate translucent body;
a plurality of spaced light sources;
means mounting said light sources with respect to said support structure; and
means for supporting said elongate translucent body with respect to said spaced light sources, whereby said body and said light sources are mutually arranged so that the light sources when activated cause said body to glow and to appear as a strip or line of light.
Illuminated sign or display apparatus according to claim 22 wherein said spaced light sources are solid state light devices.
Illuminated sign or display apparatus according to claim 23 wherein said spaced light sources are light emitting diode devices.
Illuminated sign or display apparatus according to claim 23 or 24 wherein said solid state light devices or light emitting diode devices comprise packages in each of which the solid state light element is mounted on a substrate that has terminals by which electrical power may be supplied to the package for activating the solid state light element.
Illuminated sign or display apparatus according to claim 23, 24 or 25, wherein multiple said solid state light devices are fixed at spaced intervals to an electrical circuit board or ribbon.
Illuminated sign or display apparatus according to claim 26, wherein the solid state light devices are fixed along and project laterally from an edge of said circuit board or ribbon with their central axes generally parallel to the plane of the board or ribbon and at least two electrical contacts of each light device in operative contact with the circuit on the board or ribbon.
Illuminated sign or display apparatus according to claim 27, wherein said contacts are contact pins bent in towards each other, then outwardly with respect to said solid state light device so as to define end portions that are separated by the circuit board or ribbon and conductively attached thereto.
Illuminated sign or display apparatus according to any one of claims 22 to 28 wherein said elongate translucent body is light dispersive.
Illuminated sign or display apparatus according to claim 29 wherein said elongate translucent body is light dispersive so that the strip or line of light appears to be of substantially uniform brightness.
Illuminated sign or display apparatus according to any one of claims 22 to
30 wherein said means for mounting said spaced light sources with respect to the support structure is such that the light sources are, when in position, mounted to the elongate body.
Illuminated sign or display apparatus according to any one of claims 22 to
31 wherein said elongate translucent body is an extruded piece of substantially uniform cross section.
Illuminated sign or display apparatus according to any one of claims 22 to 32 wherein said elongate translucent body is substantially solid.
Illuminated sign or display apparatus according to any one of claims 22 to
32 wherein said elongate translucent body includes a longitudinally extending cavity.
Illuminated sign or display apparatus according to any one of claims 22 to 34 wherein said elongate translucent body includes deformable longitudinally extending formations such as ribs whereby the body may be pushed through the elongate opening in the support structure and held in place by engagement of these formations with the support structure.
Illuminated sign or display apparatus according to any one of claims 22 to 35 wherein said support structure is conveniently a panel.
Illuminated sign or display apparatus according to claim 36 wherein said panel is an outer face of a sign housing.
Illuminated sign or display apparatus according to any one of claims 22 to 37, including a plurality of said elongate translucent bodies configured to form a symbol, pattern, character or set of characters.
Illuminated sign or display apparatus according to claim 38 wherein the sign or display apparatus has an appearance from a distance similar to a conventional signs formed from neon tubes.
A light tube including:
an elongate translucent body defining a pair of longitudinally extending cavities;
a plurality of spaced solid state light devices in one of said cavities; and
an elongate electrical circuit board or ribbon supporting said solid state light devices at intervals along said one cavity.
A light tube according to claim 40 wherein said solid state light devices are light emitting diodes.
A light tube according to claim 40 or 41 , wherein the solid state light devices are fixed along and project laterally from an edge of said circuit board or ribbon with their central axes generally parallel to the plane of the board or ribbon and at least two electrical contacts of each light device in operative contact with the circuit on the board or ribbon.
A light tube according to claim 42, wherein said contacts are contact pins bent in towards each other, then outwardly with respect to said solid state light device so as to define end portions that are separated by the circuit board or ribbon and conductively attached thereto.
A light tube according to any one of claims 40 to 43 further including means for mounting said elongate translucent body to a backing plate or other support surface.
A light tube including:
an elongate translucent body defining a longitudinally extending cavity;
a plurality of spaced solid state light devices in said cavity;
an elongate electrical circuit board or ribbon supporting said solid state light devices at intervals along said cavity wherein the solid state light devices are fixed along and project laterally from an edge of said circuit board or ribbon; and
wherein the solid state light devices are fixed along and project laterally from an edge of said circuit board or ribbon with their central axes generally parallel to the plane of the board or ribbon and at least two electrical contacts of each light device in operative contact with the circuit on the board or ribbon.
A light tube according to claim 45 wherein said solid state light devices are light emitting diodes.
A light tube according to claim 45 or 46, wherein said contacts are contact pins bent in towards each other, then outwardly with respect to said solid state light device so as to define end portions that are separated by the circuit board or ribbon and conductively attached thereto.
A light tube according to any one of claims 45, 46 or 47 further including means for mounting said elongate translucent body to a backing plate or other support surface.
An array of solid state light devices in which the light devices are fixed along and project laterally from an edge of a circuit board or ribbon with their central axes generally parallel to the plane of the board or ribbon and at least two electrical contacts of each light device in operative contact with the circuit on the board or ribbon.
A light tube according to claim 49 wherein said solid state light devices are light emitting diodes.
A light tube according to claim 49 or 50, wherein said contacts are contact pins bent in towards each other, then outwardly with respect to said solid state light device so as to define end portions that are separated by the circuit board or ribbon and conductively attached thereto.
An assembly of an electronic circuit device and an electrical circuit board or ribbon, wherein the electronic circuit device has at least two contact pins depending therefrom and the circuit device is mounted at an edge of the circuit board or ribbon with said at least two contact pins conductively attached to respective faces of the board or ribbon.
A light tube according to claim 52 wherein said solid state light devices are light emitting diodes.
An assembly according to claim 52 or 53 wherein there is an array of said electrical circuit devices arranged along said edge of the board or ribbon. An assembly according to claim 52, 53 or 54 wherein said contact pins are bent in towards each other, then outwardly with respect to said electronic circuit device so as to define end portions that are separated by the circuit board or ribbon and conductively attached thereto.
PCT/AU2002/001199 2001-08-31 2002-09-02 Illuminated sign or display apparatus and mounting of circuit devices WO2003019506A1 (en)

Priority Applications (6)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
AUPR7388A AUPR738801A0 (en) 2001-08-31 2001-08-31 Illuminated sign apparatus
AUPR7388 2001-08-31
AUPS0085 2002-01-22
AUPS0085A AUPS008502A0 (en) 2002-01-22 2002-01-22 Illuminated sign apparatus
AUPS1573 2002-04-05
AUPS1573A AUPS157302A0 (en) 2002-04-05 2002-04-05 Illunimated sign apparatus and mounting of circuit devices

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