WO2005043969A1 - A portable controlled environment apparatus - Google Patents

A portable controlled environment apparatus

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Publication number
WO2005043969A1
WO2005043969A1 PCT/AU2004/001511 AU2004001511W WO2005043969A1 WO 2005043969 A1 WO2005043969 A1 WO 2005043969A1 AU 2004001511 W AU2004001511 W AU 2004001511W WO 2005043969 A1 WO2005043969 A1 WO 2005043969A1
Authority
WO
Grant status
Application
Patent type
Prior art keywords
container
equipment
electronic
layer
material
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/AU2004/001511
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Russell Macmillan
Original Assignee
Ryanmac 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

Links

Classifications

    • HELECTRICITY
    • H05ELECTRIC TECHNIQUES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • H05KPRINTED CIRCUITS; CASINGS OR CONSTRUCTIONAL DETAILS OF ELECTRIC APPARATUS; MANUFACTURE OF ASSEMBLAGES OF ELECTRICAL COMPONENTS
    • H05K5/00Casings, cabinets or drawers for electric apparatus
    • H05K5/06Hermetically-sealed casings

Abstract

A portable controlled environment apparatus (10) for containing electronic equipment (13, 14, 15), the apparatus comprising at least one container (11) with a resealable lid (12), the at least one container manufactured from at least one layer of a plastic material (22) and at least one layer of insulating material (19), a heat transfer means (24) for controlling the conditions inside the container and control means (28) to control the operation of the electronic equipment within the container without exposing the electronic equipment to uncontrolled conditions outside the at least one container.

Description

A PORTABLE CONTROLLED ENVIRONMENT APPARATUS Field of the Invention The present invention relates to a portable apparatus having an internal controlled environment and in particular to an apparatus for containing and protecting delicate electronic equipment in severe weather conditions for extended periods. Background Art Devices which have a controlled internal environment are well known in the electronic field. Particularly well known is that computers and other complex, high precision electronic equipment may produce a significant heat output and need to be cooled. This is generally accomplished by sealing a number of computer systems on a controlled environment room. Control over that environment typically requires a dedicated, sealed computer room which is serviced by corresponding dedicated air-conditioning systems. The residents of these rooms, typically computers with one or more processors, generate substantial heat during their operation. Excess heat is undesirable in this environment, as the processors work more efficiently and with lower failure rates at lowered temperatures. Because of the extensive amount of electrical interconnection required both for power supply and system communication, these computer rooms typically contain raised floors formed of tiles supported upon frames beneath which the complex cable networks can be laid. It is also known to control the humidity or air circulation around components. The thermal load requirement for a given closed environment may relate to a flow of supply air having a particular moisture content that is required to appropriately humidify (or dehumidify) the environment (or a particular portion thereof) to a desired humidity. Based on the foregoing, it should be appreciated that more generally, the thermal load requirement may relate to a flow of supply air having a particular moisture content and/or a particular temperature so as to condition the environment in terms of one or both of temperature and humidity. Other such devices include those used to protect components of an automatic external defibrillator (AED) such as the power source. Typically, portable

AED's rely on a battery pack to provide power to the unit. Fluctuations in storage temperature of the device can compromise the performance, reliability and life of the battery. Both alkaline and lithium batteries are affected by variations in storage temperature. Although lithium batteries typically have a longer shelf life than alkaline batteries, they are more susceptible to fluctuations in storage temperature. As a result a device that operates using a lithium or alkaline battery may have reduced reliability if the storage temperature is not maintained within a desired range. Additionally, as the temperature of the battery decreases the capacity of the battery decreases. Low battery capacity lowers the number of shocks that a defibrillator can deliver with that battery. Most of the prior art knowledge relates to the protection of equipment in harsh conditions but it is not always sufficient to protect equipment such as emergency equipment and locating equipment. Various safety equipment should be carried by all parties venturing into hostile climatic conditions. Safety equipment normally issued to such parties includes global positioning satellite (GPS) systems, and Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPLRB). An important point regarding these devices is that at extreme conditions, they may cease to function which may further endanger parties relying on them for safety and recovery purposes. Prior art emergency equipment is operable in after being subject to temperatures of up to -40°C for a period of up to 48 hours. In order to withstand these temperatures for this time period, the devices are contained in containers made from either fibre reinforced polycarbonate blend resin with tougheners or high impact polycarbonate blend. While the larger beacons must transmit for at least 48 hours at cold temperatures (-40°C), smaller Personal Locator Beacons (PLB's) are only required to transmit for 24 hours. There are two classes, Class 1 is rated for -40°C, Class 2 for -20°C. At warmer temperatures, this is considerably extended. In any case, primary weight and space savings come from smaller batteries required to operate smaller modules. Alkaline or lead acid batteries lose effectiveness at low temperatures due to the formation of ice crystals at low temperatures. There is therefore a need for a portable emergency equipment electronic support system which allows the efficient operation of the emergency equipment after exposure to temperatures of -50°C for extended periods by maintenance of a constant environment. The support system may suitably comprise a container housing a global positioning satellite system, a satellite telephone and an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) protected in the container allowing the operation of the equipment without being removed from the container. The environment within the contained should also be substantially uniform as hot spots can destroy electronic equipment. It will be clearly understood that, if a prior art publication is referred to herein, this reference does not constitute an admission that the publication forms part of the common general knowledge in the art in Australia or in any other country. Summary of the Invention The present invention is directed to a portable controlled environment apparatus, which may at least partially overcome at least one of the abovementioned disadvantages or provide the consumer with a useful or commercial choice. In one form, the invention resides in a portable controlled environment apparatus for containing electronic equipment, the apparatus comprising at least one container with a resealable lid, the at least one container manufactured from at least one layer of a plastic material and at least one layer of insulating material, a heat transfer means for controlling the conditions inside the container and control means to control the operation of the electronic equipment within the container without exposing the electronic equipment to uncontrolled conditions outside the at least one container. In use, the controlled environment apparatus may preferably be small and light enough to be carried by a person or in a vehicle. The apparatus may be carried when the person or vehicle anticipates that harsh terrain or weather may be encountered for emergency purposes. The electronic equipment contained in the apparatus may preferably comprise a global positioning satellite (GPS) transponder, a satellite telephone and an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB), or any combination thereof. Other equipment which may enhance the chances of survival should an accident be encountered, may be added to the apparatus as desired. While a plastics material is particularly preferred for use in the layers used to manufacture the container, it is anticipated that other materials may be used instead such as a metal, metal composite, glass, glass fibre reinforced materials or even ceramics as an example. Metals for example generally have a higher coefficient of thermal expansion than plastics and are therefore not generally preferred for use according to the invention. Similarly, while the invention is particularly applicable for use in the protection of electronic equipment, it is anticipated that other equipment may also benefit from being contained in a controlled environment, for example, mechanical equipment which operates at fine tolerances may operate more efficiently if contained in a controlled environment. Preferably the controlled environment apparatus will maintain the electronic equipment inside the apparatus within a constant temperature range in order to maintain the function of the equipment and particularly any batteries supplied to power the equipment. The apparatus may be designed to compensate for the contraction of materials which takes place at lower temperatures. Humidity may also be controlled within a constant range. The container may be specifically adapted to allow operation of the electronic equipment when the temperature is below -20°C. Where an EPIRB is provided, there will generally be an aerial or antennae provided, the aerial or antennae movable between an extended operative position and a retracted transport or storage position. The apparatus may also comprise means for charging any batteries provided to power the electronic equipment and/or heating means. The apparatus comprises a container with a resealable lid. The resealable lid may preferably be or form one side of the container. Suitably, the container may be substantially rectangular having a base wall, a top wall, and four sidewalls. One of the side walls may be the resealable lid. The resealable lid may preferably be hinged on one edge, to one of the other walls of the container. The lid may preferably form an airtight seal with the body of the container when closed. There may be one or more sealing members provided in order to enhance or improve the seal formed between the lid and the body of the container. Suitably, any sealing member provided may be resilient, for example a rubber seal may be used. Suitably, the lid may be securable in the closed position. Many methods of securing the lid to the body of the container are known such as clips, straps, or lockable means and any of these maybe used. The container and lid may preferably be formed of an impact resistant material such that damage to the electronic equipment located inside the container will be minimised in the event of an accident or impact. Where provided the EPIRB aerial or antenna may extend through the top wall of the container when in the use position. When stored, the EPLRB aerial or antenna may not extend the outside the container and may be contained inside it, with the topmost part of the aerial or antenna substantially flush with the wall of the container through which it extends. There may suitably be a double gland provided in the wall through which the EPIRB aerial or antenna extends to minimise or prevent disruption to the controlled environment when extending or retracting the aerial or antenna. The double gland may be formed from a resilient material such as a rubber or the like, and each gland may be positioned within or associated with an opening through the wall of the container. The container may preferably be provided with interior lighting such that the electronic equipment, and the controls thereof, can be operated in low light conditions. Suitably the interior lighting may be light emitting diodes using only a small amount of power. The light emitting diodes may be activated automatically when the lid to the container is opened. There may be a switch means associated with either the body of the container or the lid to control the light emitting diodes. The switch means may also provide a way for transferring control of the electronic equipment to the exterior control means when the lid is closed, and to the controls of each individual piece of equipment when the lid is opened. As the electronic equipment provided inside the container may have displays in the form of liquid crystal displays for conveying information to a user, the container may be provided with portholes allowing a user of the apparatus to view the interior of the container, and particularly the displays of the electronic equipment required to control the equipment. Suitably, each porthole may be a double glazed porthole, having an air gap located between each pane of the double glazing, allowing for the thermal expansion and contraction of the container. For example, each porthole may be constructed along the same or similar principles to the window of a conventional aircraft which is designed to fly at height. Each wall of the container may be manufactured of at least three layers of material. Due to the design of the preferred embodiment of the container, wherein it has a substantially rectangular body portion defining an opening therein and a resealable lid forming the remaining side wall of the container, the layers of material forming the body of the container may be continuous layers, arranged concentrically to form the container. Suitably, the electronic equipment may be housed in an inner container.

The inner container may preferably be defined by an inner layer of a rigid plastic material. The inner layer will then generally be surrounded by a first layer of insulating material. Suitably the insulating layer will be of a fibrous substance for example wool, of which a particularly preferred form is alpaca wool. The insulating layer may then be surrounded by a middle container layer, again preferably of a rigid plastic material. The middle container layer may be surrounded by a second insulating layer, having similar characteristics as the first layer of insulating material. The second insulating layer may be surrounded by an outer container layer suitably manufactured from impact resistant plastic material. The lid may be constructed substantially as the container is constructed. The inner container may have a rigid top sealing member on which the control means may be mounted. The top sealing member will typically be capable of preventing exposure of the electronic equipment within the container from being exposed to the elements when the lid is open. There may be an air gap provided between the concentric layers of material for allowing contraction and extension of each of the layers substantially independently of the others. Suitably, the inner container may be divided into an upper portion and a lower portion. Suitably the upper portion may be adapted to house or contain the electronic equipment and the lower portion adapted to house or contain the heating means and any batteries supplied to power the equipment or heating means. Suitably the inner container may be physically divided into the upper and lower portions by a dividing member. Suitably the dividing member may act as a heat store and heat distribution means. There may preferably be more than one battery or set of batteries for powering both the electronic equipment and the heat means, the batteries located below the dividing member in the lower portion. In a particularly preferred embodiment, a plurality of batteries may be provided, each battery may be a 7.5 AMP- hour battery. Also located below the dividing member in the lower portion of the container is the heat transfer means. The transfer means may be a heater or a cooler depending on the conditions into which the apparatus is to travel, but will generally be a heater. The heat transfer means will generally be associated with at least one temperature controller/thermostat. The temperature controller/thermostat may be electronic or manual. According to a particularly preferred embodiment, there is a main temperature control system, which is electronic and a secondary backup system, which is manual in nature, should the electronic system malfunction. Suitably this secondary system may be a mechanical thermostat such as a capillary switch. In instances that the electronic components of the system (electronic equipment for heating means) reduce the battery voltage to a predetermined level, for example to only 25% remaining, the mechanical thermostat may become operational to reduce the drain on the battery caused by the electronic temperature controller/thermostat. This may allow an extended period of years with limited battery power for an extended period of time. According to an alterative embodiment, the invention may reside in or include a heat block, having at least one heating element associated with the block. Suitably the at least one heating element is embedded in the block. Preferably, there will be more than one heating element, the heating elements configured to give even and constant heat throughout the block. The material of construction of the block may allow diffusion of the heat to minimise the creation of hotspots within the block particularly on the block's surface. The material used for the heating block may be particularly stable and not exceed a predetermined maximum temperature. The heating block may simply be non flammable. The heating block The block may preferably be manufactured from a flexible and pliable material capable of evenly distributing heat and also retaining heat for extended periods. For example, silicone or polyethylene rubber may be used for the block. The block may be provided with a plurality of galleries to accommodate not only the heating elements provided, but also to accommodate temperature probes say that the temperature of the block may be measured and related to the temperature controller/thermostat. A feedback control loop may be used for this purpose. hi addition to providing heat throughout the container, the block may also protect the electronic equipment which may be mounted to be block. As stated above, the block may be flexible and pliable and this may have a cushioning effect. The heating elements may preferably be controlled electronically via the temperature controller/thermostat. The heating elements may be controlled individually or as a system. The battery is provided in the apparatus may be charged through an adapter means extending into or through one of the walls of the container. The adapter means may be connected to a power source to charge the batteries. In general, the EPLRB has a long life (five-year) battery and does not require charging only replacement at the end of its life. The batteries provided according to the invention may be charged with pulse width modulated bursts to maintain the batteries cells. Any heat generated through the charging of the various batteries and or sells, and other electronic equipment, may be directed into the heat block for storage. In this way, the stored heat may assist in the maintenance of the constant temperature in the container. The control means to control the operation of the electronic equipment when the container is sealed will generally be located on an external surface of one of the walls of the container. The control means may mimic the controls provided for each individual piece of electronic equipment but preferably be capable of withstanding the extreme conditions to which the exterior of the apparatus may be subjected. For example, the EPIRB may have a simple activate/deactivate switch, the satellite telephone may have banks of buttons corresponding to the controls for the telephone. The controls for the satellite phone may also include an externally mounted speaker/microphone. According to an alternative embodiment of this aspect of the invention, there may be two containers provided with a first container forming the resealable lid for the other container and vice versa. There may be electronic equipment in each container. Each at least one container may be manufactured from at least one layer of a plastic material and at least one layer of insulating material. A heat transfer means for controlling the conditions inside the container and control means to control the operation of the electronic equipment within the container without exposing the electronic equipment to uncontrolled conditions outside the at least one container may be provided for each container. A highly resilient, clear, flexible membrane covering may be used as or in association with the top member of each container to allow direct viewing and access to displays and buttons on elecfronic equipment in the containers with minimal thermal losses. According to a second aspect, the invention may reside in an insulated battery container, the container manufactured from at least one layer of a plastic material and at least one layer of insulating material, the container including movable contacts which are adapted to maintain contact with the battery as the container or battery experiences movement. The movement to which the battery and/or container may be subjected may be impact movements or the movement may be thermally-induced expansion/contraction. Suitably, the battery or cells may be housed in an inner container. The inner container may preferably be defined by an inner layer of a rigid plastic material. The inner layer will then generally be surrounded by a first layer of insulating material. Suitably the insulating layer will be of a fibrous substance for example wool, of which a particularly preferred form is alpaca wool. The insulating layer may then be surrounded by a middle container layer, again preferably of a rigid plastic material. The middle container layer may be surrounded by a second insulating layer, having similar characteristics as the first layer of insulating material. The second insulating layer may be surrounded by an outer container layer suitably manufactured from impact resistant plastic material. There may be an air gap provided between the concentric layers of material for allowing contraction and extension of each of the layers substantially independently of the others. The battery contacts are associated with the container. According to a particularly preferred form, each battery contact comprises a metal sphere located in a sleeve, the metal sphere biased using biasing means to maintain contact with the contacts of the battery with which it is associated. Each sleeve may have a first end and a second end, the first in associated with the metal sphere and the second end associated with a connecting means for connecting the battery or sell to the electronic equipment which it powers. The metal sphere may extend partially from the first end of the sleeve but be retained in the sleeve by the shape of the sleeve. For example, the sleeve may have a tapered opening slightly smaller in cross-sectional dimension than the sphere, allowing the sphere to move within the sleeve but not out of the sleeve. The biasing means may suitably be a spring to hold or maintain the sphere adjacent the opening and in contact with the battery contact. As the container or battery undergoes movement, the sphere can rotate in the sleeve and roll over the contact to accommodate the movement. This may maintain the conductivity of the cell or battery and also provide some cleaning of the contacts, preventing build-up which may decrease conductivity. Brief Description of the Drawings Various embodiments of the invention will be described with reference to the following drawings, in which: Figure 1 is a side elevation view of the portable controlled environment apparatus according to an aspect of the invention. Figure 2 is a top elevation view of the portable controlled environment apparatus of Figure 1. Figure 3 is a sectional view of an insulated battery container according to an aspect of the invention. Figure 4 is a top view of a first preferred embodiment of portable controlled environment apparatus according to the invention. Figure 5 is a top view of a second preferred embodiment of portable controlled environment apparatus according to the invention. Detailed Description of the Invention According to a first aspect of the invention, a portable controlled environment apparatus for containing electronic equipment 10 is provided. The portable controlled environment apparatus 10 for containing electronic equipment as illustrated in Figures 1 and 2, comprises a container 11 with a resealable lid 12 with the electronic equipment disposed in the interior of the container 11. The container 11 has electronic equipment located in the interior of the container 11 and the equipment in Figure 1 and 2 includes a global positioning satellite (GPS) transponder 13, a satellite telephone 14 and an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) 15. The EPLRB 15 has an aerial or antennae 16 provided. The aerial or antennae 16 is movable between an extended operative position and a retracted transport or storage position. The container 11 is substantially rectangular having a base wall, a top wall, and four sidewalls. One of the side walls forms the resealable lid 12. The resealable lid 12 is hinged on one edge, to the other walls of the container 11. The lid 12 forms an airtight seal with the body of the container 11 when closed. There is a sealing member (not shown) provided in order to enhance or improve the seal formed between the lid 12 and the body of the container 11. A rubber seal may be used. Suitably, the lid is securable in the closed position. Many methods of securing the lid to the body of the container are known such as clips, straps, or lockable means and any of these may be used. The inner container has a rigid top sealing member 50 on which the control means 28 are mounted. The top sealing member 50 is capable of preventing exposure of the electronic equipment within the container from being exposed to the elements when the lid is open. The container 11 and lid 12 are formed of an impact resistant material such that damage to the elecfronic equipment located inside the container will be minimised in the event of an accident or impact. The EPIRB aerial or antenna 16 extends through the top wall of the container when in the use position. When stored, the EPIRB aerial or antenna 16 does not extend the outside the container 11 and is contained inside it, with the topmost part of the aerial or antenna substantially flush with the wall of the container through which it extends. There is a double gland 17 provided in the wall through which the EPIRB aerial or antenna 16 extends to minimise or prevent the disruption to the controlled environment when extending or retracting the aerial or antenna 16. The double gland 17 is formed from a resilient material such as a rubber or the like, and each gland is positioned within an opening through the wall of the container. The container 11 is manufactured from at least one layer of a plastic material and at least one layer of insulating material. Each wall of the container 11 is manufactured of at least three layers of material. Due to the design of the preferred embodiment of the container 11, wherein it has a substantially rectangular body portion for the defining and opening therein and a resealable lid 12 forming the remaining side wall of the container, the layers of material forming the body of the container are continuous layers, arranged concentrically to form the container. The electronic equipment is housed in an inner container 18. The inner container 18 is defined by an inner layer of a rigid plastic material. The inner layer 18 is surrounded by a first layer of insulating material 19 or a fibrous substance for example wool, of which a particularly preferred form is alpaca wool. The first insulating layer 19 is surrounded by a middle container layer 20, again of a rigid plastic material. The middle container layer 20 is surrounded by a second insulating layer 21, having similar characteristics as the first layer of insulating material 19. The second insulating layer 21 is surrounded by an outer container layer 22 manufactured from impact resistant plastic material. There are air gaps 23 provided between the concentric layers of material allowing contraction and extension of each of the layers substantially independently of the others. The inner container 18 is divided into an upper portion and a lower portion, the upper portion adapted to house the electronic equipment and the lower portion adapted to house heating means 24 and any batteries 25 supplied to power the equipment or heating means 24. The inner container 18 may be physically divided into the upper and lower portions by a dividing member 26 also adapted to act as a heat store and heat distribution means. There is more than one battery 25 or set of batteries for powering both the electronic equipment and the heat block 24, the batteries located below the dividing member 26 in the lower portion. A plurality of batteries 25 is provided, each battery being a 7.5 AMP-hour battery. The container 11 is provided with interior lighting such that the electronic equipment, and the controls thereof, can be operated in low light conditions. The interior lighting is provided by light emitting diodes 27 using only a small amount of power. The light emitting diodes 27 are activated automatically when the lid 12 to the container 11 is opened. There is a switch means (not shown) associated with either the body of the container of the lid to control the light emitting diodes 27. The switch means also provides a way for transferring control of the electronic equipment to the exterior control means 28 when the lid is closed, and to the controls of each individual piece of equipment 29 when the lid is opened. As the electronic equipment provided inside the container 11 may have displays in the form of liquid crystal displays for containing information to a user, the container is provided with portholes 30 allowing a user of the apparatus to view the interior of the container, and particularly the displays of the electronic equipment required to control the equipment. Each porthole 30 is a double glazed porthole, having an air gap located between each pane of the double glazing, allowing for the thermal expansion and contraction of the container. A heat transfer means comprising a heat block 24 and the dividing member 26 is provided, for controlling the temperature inside the container is provided. The heat block 24 is also located below the dividing member 26 in the lower portion of the container. The heat block 24 is associated with a main temperature control system 31, which is electronic and a secondary backup system, (50) which is manual in nature, should the electronic system malfunction. The secondary system is a mechanical thermostat such as a capillary switch. The heat block 24 has a plurality of heating elements embedded in the block configured to give even and constant heat throughout the block. The material of construction of the block 24 allows diffusion of the heat to minimise the creation of hotspots within the block particularly on the block's surface. The block 24 is manufactured from a flexible and pliable material capable of evenly distributing heat and also retaining heat for extended periods, for example, silicone or polyethylene rubber. Control means to control the operation of the electronic equipment within the container when the container is sealed is also provided. There are internal control means 29 and external control means 28. The external control means 28 allows the operation of the elecfronic equipment inside the sealed inner container from outside the container and will therefore be located on an external surface of the top sealing wall 50 of the container. The control means mimics the controls provided for each individual piece of electronic equipment but should be capable of withstanding the extreme conditions to which the exterior of the apparatus may be subjected. For example, the EPIRB has a simple activate/deactivate switch 32, and the satellite telephone has banks of buttons 33 corresponding to the controls for the telephone. The controls for the satellite phone also include an externally mounted speaker/microphone. The heating elements may preferably be controlled electronically via the temperature controller/thermostat 31. The heating elements may be controlled individually or as a system. The batteries 25 provided in the apparatus will charged through an adapter means 34a, 34b extending into or through one of the walls of the container 11. Mark 1 Overview illustrated in Figures 1 to 4 ■ Exterior dimensions approx. 380mm x 380mm x 380mm ■ Operational weight : 19kg ■ Operation time from fully charged battery state is in excess of 4 hours. ■ Recharge time for batteries from fully discharged: 30 hours. ■ Mk 1 time between major service dependant on EPIRB service life. ■ Mk 1 battery lifespan: 6 to 8 years with regular use ■ Mk 1 heater unit lifespan: 20 years with regular use The Mark 1 is a sealed unit, with the top member being sealed to the inner container and the container must be returned to the manufacturer for any servicing for fitment of new EPIRB or re-programming of satellite phone. Electronic equipment within the Mk 1 had to be modified to suit the application. Electronic equipment within the Mk 2 are complete and without modification - they are "off the shelf. For the Mark 2 apparatus, there are two containers provided 61, 62, with a first container 61 forming the resealable lid for the other container 62 and vice versa. There is electronic equipment in each container. A heat transfer means for controlling the conditions inside the container and control means to control the operation of the electronic equipment within the container without exposing the electronic equipment to uncontrolled conditions outside the at least one container will be provided for each container 61, 62. A highly resilient, clear, flexible membrane 63 covering is used in association with the top member 50 of each container to allow direct viewing and access to displays and buttons on electronic equipment in the containers with minimal thermal losses. Mark 2 Overview illustrated in Figure 5 The awkward shape and weight of the Mk 1 unit prompted the development of the Mark 2. The Mark 2 container is approximately 50% of the size of MK 1 and almost half the weight, but with the same operational capabilities. ■ Exterior dimensions, closed: 320mm x 190mm x 320mm open : 320mm x 320mm x 180mm ■ Operational weight: 12kg ■ Operation time from fully charged far in excess of 4 hours ■ Recharge time for batteries from fully discharged: 4 hours ■ Mk 2 battery lifespan: 6 to 8 years with regular use ■ Mk 2 heater unit lifespan: 20 years with regular use The Mark 2 device can be serviced by the end users' technicians. Devices can be changed or re-programmed without having to send it back to the manufacturer. The construction of the Mark 2 is a combination of hard and soft materials, specifically selected for their ability to withstand temperatures of -50°C. The characteristics of the materials and their unique assembly result in exceptional resistance to cold and physical abuse. Operation of emergency equipment within the Mk 2 has been made more simple than that of Mk 1. A highly resilient, clear, flexible membrane covering has been developed to allow direct viewing and access to displays and buttons on devices with minimal thermal losses. Devices in the Mk 1 were operated indirectly through a button panel with a viewing porthole. The reduced bulk of the Mk 2 makes it highly portable. The Mk 2 is capable of housing a variety of devices - size permitting. Materials used in the construction of the Mk 2 are resistant to oil, fat, acid, alkali, and impact. According to a second aspect of the invention, an insulated battery container 40 is provided. The battery container 40 is manufactured from at least one layer of a plastic material and at least one layer of insulating material. The battery container 40 includes movable contacts 41 which are adapted to maintain contact with the battery 42 as the container or battery experiences movement. The battery or cells are housed in an inner container 43. The inner container 43 is defined by an inner layer of a rigid plastic material. The inner layer 43 is surrounded by a layer of insulating material 44 which is a fibrous substance for example wool, of which a particularly preferred form is alpaca wool. The insulating layer 44 is surrounded by an outer container layer 45 manufactured from impact resistant plastic material. The battery contacts 41 are associated with the battery container 40.

According to the preferred form illustrated in Figure 3, each battery contact 41 comprises a metal sphere 46 located in a sleeve 47, the metal sphere 46 biased to maintain contact with the contacts of the battery with which it is associated. Each sleeve 47 has a first end and a second end, the first end associated with the metal sphere 46 and the second end associated with a connecting means 48 for connecting the battery or cell to the electronic equipment which it powers. The metal sphere 46 extends partially from the first end of the sleeve 47 but be retained in the sleeve 47 by the shape of the sleeve 47. For example, the sleeve may have a tapered opening slightly smaller in cross-sectional dimension than the sphere, allowing the sphere to move within the sleeve but not out of the sleeve. The sphere 46 is biased to maintain contact with the battery contacts by a spring 49 to hold or maintain the sphere 46 adjacent the opening in the sleeve 47 and in contact with the battery contact. As the container or battery undergoes movement, the sphere can rotate in the sleeve and roll over the contact to accommodate the movement. This may maintain the conductivity of the cell or battery and also provide some cleaning of the contacts, preventing build-up which may decrease conductivity. In the present specification and claims, the word "comprising" and its derivatives including "comprises" and "comprise" include each of the stated integers but does not exclude the inclusion of one or more further integers. Reference throughout this specification to "one embodiment" or "an embodiment" means that a particular feature, structure, or characteristic described in connection with the embodiment is included in at least one embodiment of the present invention. Thus, the appearance of the phrases "in one embodiment" or "in an embodiment" in various places throughout this specification are not necessarily all referring to the same embodiment. Furthermore, the particular features, structures, or characteristics may be combined in any suitable manner in one or more combinations.

Claims

Claims:
1. A portable controlled environment apparatus for containing electronic equipment, the apparatus comprising at least one container with a resealable lid, the at least one container manufactured from at least one layer of a plastic material and at least one layer of insulating material, a heat transfer means for controlling the conditions inside the container and control means to control the operation of the electronic equipment within the container without exposing the electronic equipment to uncontrolled conditions outside the at least one container.
2. A portable controlled environment apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the electronic equipment contained in the apparatus includes at least a global positioning satellite (GPS) transponder, a satellite telephone and an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB), or combination thereof.
3. A portable controlled environment apparatus according to claim 2 wherein an antennae for the EPIRB is provided, the aerial or antennae movable between an extended operative position and a retracted transport or storage position associated with a double gland provided in the container through which the EPIRB aerial or antenna extends to minimise or prevent disruption to the controlled environment when extending or refracting the aerial or antenna.
4. A portable controlled environment apparatus according to claim 1 wherein each wall of the container is manufactured of at least three layers of material arranged concentrically to form the container.
5. A portable controlled environment apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the electronic equipment is housed in an inner container, the inner container defined by an inner layer of a rigid plastic material and surrounded by a first layer of insulating material, the first layer of insulating material then surrounded by a middle container layer, of a rigid plastic material, the middle container layer surrounded by a second layer of insulating material, having similar characteristics as the first layer of insulating material.
6. A portable controlled environment apparatus according to claim 5 wherein the inner container is divided into upper and lower portions by a dividing member which acts as a heat store and heat distribution means for the container.
7. A portable controlled environment apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the heat transfer means is a heat block, having at least one heating element associated with the block configured to give even and constant heat throughout the block.
8. A portable controlled environment apparatus according to claim 1 further including an insulated battery container, the container manufactured from at least one layer of a plastic material and at least one layer of insulating material, the container including movable contacts adapted to maintain contact with the battery as the container or battery experiences movement.
9. An insulated battery container, the container manufactured from at least one layer of a plastic material and at least one layer of insulating material, the container including movable contacts which are adapted to maintain contact with the battery as the container or battery experiences movement.
10. A heat block, having at least one heating element associated with the block, the at least one heating element configured to give even and constant heat throughout the block to minimise the creation of hotspots within the block particularly on the block's surface.
PCT/AU2004/001511 2003-10-31 2004-11-01 A portable controlled environment apparatus WO2005043969A1 (en)

Priority Applications (2)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
AU2003906014 2003-10-31
AU2003906014 2003-10-31

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PCT/AU2004/001511 WO2005043969A1 (en) 2003-10-31 2004-11-01 A portable controlled environment apparatus

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Citations (4)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
DE29723144U1 (en) * 1997-07-18 1998-04-23 Knothe Dieter calculator
US5808866A (en) * 1996-09-09 1998-09-15 Gde Systems, Inc. Ruggedized container system and method
US20020140848A1 (en) * 2001-03-30 2002-10-03 Pelco Controllable sealed chamber for surveillance camera
US20030133269A1 (en) * 2002-01-16 2003-07-17 Weightech, Inc. Modular sealed portable digital electronic controller

Patent Citations (4)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US5808866A (en) * 1996-09-09 1998-09-15 Gde Systems, Inc. Ruggedized container system and method
DE29723144U1 (en) * 1997-07-18 1998-04-23 Knothe Dieter calculator
US20020140848A1 (en) * 2001-03-30 2002-10-03 Pelco Controllable sealed chamber for surveillance camera
US20030133269A1 (en) * 2002-01-16 2003-07-17 Weightech, Inc. Modular sealed portable digital electronic controller

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