Patent application title: Inflatable multi-tube structure
Jean-Marc Daniel Turcot (Kelowna, CA)
IPC8 Class: AE04H1520FI
Class name: Static structures (e.g., buildings) shaped or strengthened by fluid pressure
Publication date: 2010-07-15
Patent application number: 20100175330
Patent application title: Inflatable multi-tube structure
Jean-Marc Daniel Turcot
Antony C. Edwards
Origin: WESTBANK, BC omitted
IPC8 Class: AE04H1520FI
Publication date: 07/15/2010
Patent application number: 20100175330
An inflatable frame using, in each beam of the structure twinned tubes or
otherwise multiple adjacent parallel tubes in each beam. The frame may be
used for a sport ball arresting structure for supporting a mesh netting
to enclose a player using full-swing, full power hitting of a sport ball
into the mesh.
1. A pneumatically inflatable structure:a plurality of spaced apart
pneumatic multi-tube support beams, each of said support beams having
first and second opposite ends mountable to a base surface wherein each
of said support beams form an arch having an apex when said structure is
inflated and erect;wherein each of said multi-tube support beams includes
a plurality of adjacently mounted parallel inflatable tubes mounted to
one another along their length.
2. The structure of claim 1 further comprising at least two opposed pairs of bowed criss-crossed pneumatic multi-tube bracing beams mounted substantially diagonally across said support beams, and wherein said arches form a parallel spaced apart array.
3. The structure of claim 1 wherein said support beams are radially spaced apart about a vertical axis.
4. An inflatable beam truss frame comprising:at least three, that is, first, second and third, separate inflatable arcuate beam trusses each comprising at least a pair of parallel adjacent inflatable tubes, said trusses mounted or mountable at vertices thereof to one another and having, respectively, first, second and third lengths and a substantially constant diameter among all said tubes of said three beam trusses, wherein each tube of said three separate beam trusses includes an outer flexible substantially non-resilient sleeve along the entire length of said tube and an inner inflatable bladder extending substantially entirely along and in said entire length of said sleeve;wherein said each beam truss is substantially linear when unconstrained and inflated, and wherein said each beam truss is flexible so as to form an arch-shape when opposite ends of said each beam truss are constrained by anchoring of said opposite ends on the ground at a distance between said ends which is less the length of said each beam truss;and wherein said tubes in each said beam truss are of substantially equal length and are mounted adjoined to one another in side-by-side parallel relation so as to be co-extensive with one another along said arch-shape;and wherein said beam trusses are adapted for mounting a completely enclosing mesh netting thereto so as to completely enclose the space within said frame in said netting.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates to an inflatable frame having multiple for example twinned tubes in each beam supporting the frame. One use for the frame is to support a ball-arresting mesh thereover, generally in the form of netting, for use when practicing, byway of example, `full-swing` hitting of a golf ball with driving or chipping clubs within a confined space such as a residential back yard.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
When one practices the various driving or chipping strokes in the game of golf which elevate the golf ball so that it can travel a fairly long distance, one must generally attend a specialised driving range or similar facility. Such facilities may require some travel time, expense and inconvenience to attend and may not be readily available to all golfers. Due to the danger from the impact of such a driven ball the avid golfer is prohibited from practicing at home in a residential back yard.
The desire on the part of players of sports such as golf, baseball, hockey or soccer to improve their ability and thereby increase their enjoyment of their game requires considerable `full-swing` practice. The inflatable sport ball arresting structure according to the present invention permits such practice to be undertaken at home in a carport or garage or basement or in a residential backyard with convenience and safety. It is an object to provide such a device which is lightweight, compact for home storage and easily assembled, and further which is simple to erect, readily storable without disassembly, and resistant to displacement through sport ball impact or wind gust. Further yet, the device may inhibit ricochet of the sport ball.
In the prior art, applicant is aware of U.S. Pat. No. 6,511,390 which issued Jan. 28, 2003 to Kim for a Sports Ball Net Assembly, which discloses a net supporting structure comprising rigid and flexible pipes.
Applicant is further aware of U.S. Pat. No. 6,135,894 which issued Oct. 24, 2000 to Cho for a Collapsible Golf Net, which discloses a flexible, closed loop shaped net support structure which is supported on stakes positioned in the ground. Additional straps are used to deform the net support structure into a concave shape and to lend stability.
My U.S. Pat. No. 7,118,487 discloses a sport ball arresting structure having an inflatable frame from which a net is suspended and a flexible base to provide a lightweight frame and permitting ease of assembly, deployment and storage after use.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention is an inflatable frame using, in each beam of the structure, twinned tubes or otherwise multiple adjacent parallel tubes in each beam. The frame may be used for a sport ball arresting structure for supporting a mesh netting to enclose a player using full-swing, full power hitting of a sport ball into the mesh.
In the field of air inflatable structures, the applicant has determined, contrary to conventional wisdom which would require that the pneumatic beams be increased in diameter as their length increases in order to support larger enclosures, and in one aspect of the present invention, that the use of relatively narrow high aspect ratio pneumatic beams may be used to arcuately span relatively great distances if a multiplicity of such narrow beams are combined in side-by-side parallel array to form a single segmented arcuate beam truss. Further, the rigidity may be increased by criss-crossing about their vertices a radially spaced array defining a dome-frame. The netting is supported on and around the frame so as to completely enclose the interior of the dome.
As used herein the term truss is intended in its alternate meaning from the conventional, namely, any of various structural frames constructed on principles other than the geometric rigidity of a triangle or deriving stability from other factors, as the rigidity of joints, the abutment of masonry, or the stiffness of beams (emphasis added). Thus according to one embodiment of the present invention each truss has at least a pair of two relatively narrow beams mounted side-by-side in a length sufficient to arcuately span over the desired enclosure. At least three of the arcuate beam trusses are criss-crossed in their radially spaced apart array for example so that their ends intersect, so as to be mounted to, the corners of a hexagonal floor.
Although it is understood that the pair of beams in the beam truss may be used in combination with further longer or shorter inflatable beams all mounted side-by-side to one another to span even greater distances, in this aspect of the present invention, each beam truss works in combination when mounted to the other two beam trusses to lend sufficient rigidity to the resulting frame so as to form a dome frame over relatively greater distances, i.e. enclosing greater volumes than heretofore possible in the prior art using single narrow inflatable beams or other prior art structures. Each beam truss may form a semi-circle, parabola or the like when fixed at its ends to opposite sides of the floor.
In summary, the frame of inflatable beam trusses according to one aspect of the present invention may be characterized as including at least three, that is, first, second and third, separate inflatable beam trusses mounted or mountable to one another and having, respectively, first, second and third lengths and each having at least a pair of parallel adjacent tubes of substantially constant diameter among all of the three beam trusses. Each tube of the three separate beam trusses may include an outer flexible substantially non-resilient sleeve along the entire length of the tube and an inner inflatable bladder extending substantially entirely along and in the entire length of the sleeve.
Each tube is substantially linear when unconstrained and inflated, and is flexible so as to form an arch-shape when opposite ends of the each tube are constrained by anchoring of the opposite ends on the floor at a distance between the ends which is less the length of each tube and its corresponding beam truss.
The tubes in each beam truss are of substantially equal length and are mounted adjoined to one another in side-by-side parallel relation by for example using hook-and-loop fasteners, stitching, etc. so as to be co-extensive with one another along the arch-shape.
The three or more inflatable beam trusses are, once inflated, employed as a frame for mounting a mesh netting canopy thereto or thereover to provide a mesh enclosed structure such as a golf or other sports "full-swing" enclosure. Such a covered structure may include three or more inflatable beam trusses for example in a criss-cross i.e. radially-spaced pattern as illustrated by way of example herein to form a dome-style enclosure. The enclosure may have a doorway.
The beam trusses may have various embodiments. For example, they may include more than two individual separate inflatable tubes that span the entire length of the truss.
In one embodiment not intended to be limiting each tube in each truss may be for example such as described in shape and construction in my U.S. Pat. No. 6,263,617, incorporated herein by reference. Advantageously at least the first and second tubes in each beam truss are substantially dimensionally identical, and have a high aspect ratio, that is, a ratio of length to width which is much greater than one. For example, if each separate tube is advantageously uniformly tubular or cylindrical in shape when un-bowed. Each separate tube may have in one embodiment a circumference of generally twenty inches for example, and a length (which is arched between where the opposite ends of the beam truss are anchored to the floor) of generally forty feet, where the hexagonal floor may have a diameter measured between opposite corners of 23.5 feet.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
In drawings which illustrate embodiments of the invention wherein similar characters of reference denote corresponding parts in each view,
FIG. 1 is, in perspective view, a three tube embodiment of the inflatable beam trusses according to the present invention employed in a criss-cross fashion to form a dome-like frame supporting a mesh netting enclosure.
FIG. 2 is, in perspective view, a two tube embodiment of the beam trusses according to the present invention employed in the criss-cross fashion of FIG. 1 to form a dome-like frame supporting a mesh netting enclosure.
FIG. 3 is, in plan view, the enclosure of FIG. 2.
FIG. 4a is a front elevation view of an alternative embodiment of the inflatable sport ball arresting structure according to the present invention.
FIG. 4b is a perspective view of the embodiment of FIG. 4a.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION
In the example illustrated, a relatively large inflatable structure is supported by three criss-crossed single-tube inflatable air beams or multi-tube inflatable beam trusses 10. It is understood that the use of three such beam trusses 10 is by way of example only in that structures employing greater numbers of the beam trusses according to the present invention would also be useful. The frame may for example be used to support the mesh netting 6 forming the sports enclosure within which full-swing hitting of a sports-ball may be practiced. This may allow the practice of baseball (ie batting), or golfing, or lacrosse, or hockey, etc. The netting 6 may be of for example a 3/4 inch mesh of a type used for example in fishing nets.
Thus as may be seen, each beam truss 10 is comprised of a bundle of separate inflatable tubes. In the illustrated example of FIG. 2, each beam truss 10 includes a pair of long spanning tubes 12a and 12b mounted together side-by-side so as to be coextensive between their opposite first and second ends. These longer spanning tubes 12a and 12b form an arch extending between their opposite ends when their opposite ends are fixed to a floor or a base sheet 14. The floor is preferably hexagonal. Thus with the first and second opposite ends of the pair of tubes 12a and 12b constrained by being mounted to the outer-most corners of base sheet 14, the length of the spanning tubes dictates that they form an arch because their length is greater than the diameter of the base.
Thus with each beam truss 10 so formed, a plurality of beams trusses 10 are mounted in radially spaced array about a vertical axis A extending through their common vertex so that, with the ends of the plurality of beam trusses mounted to the corresponding circumferentially spaced locations around the periphery of the base sheet, a rigid inflatable frame is formed over or under which may be mounted a flexible mesh netting to serve as the sports enclosure.
Advantageously, in one embodiment not intended to be limiting, at least one air hose is mounted in fluid communication with each inflatable tube 12a and 12b in each beam truss 10, and between adjacent beam trusses 10 for example by the use of a ring-manifold air hose encircling the base sheet 14 (for example sewn into the circumference) so that the inflation of a first beam truss causes simultaneous inflation of the rest of the beam trusses in the frame. The inflatable frame is self-erecting when advantageously the vertices of the beam trusses are mounted to one another and the ends of the beam trusses are mounted to the base sheet and also secured to the ground prior to inflation. For example, each of the beam trusses, may be mounted to one another at their vertices by the use of straps which may include hook-and-loop fasteners. Of course, the separate tubes in each beam truss may also be stitched or otherwise fastened to one another by known means in whole or in part, that is, with or without the further use of hook-and-loop fastening straps or strips, or may be formed as parallel tubes by stitching parallel seams between a pair of fabric sheets.
In the embodiment of FIG. 2, by way of example, the shortest beam truss 10a may be 37 feet, 91/2 inches long, the middle length beam truss 10b may be 38 feet, 31/2 inches long, and the longest beam truss 10c may be 38 feet, 91/2 inches long. As stated above, dimension B of the floor is 23 feet, 6 inches. Floor dimension C is 20 feet across. The shape of the hexagonal floor is symmetric and is a regular hexagon. The resulting dome has a height of approximately 14 feet. The mesh netting may be affixed around the perimeter of the floor using hook and loop fasteners sewn to the respective circumferential edges of the netting and floor.
In FIG. 1 each beam truss is a bundle of substantially the same tubes 12 held, in cross section, within the outer casing in a triangular arrangement wherein for example an uppermost tube 12' sits along and atop an adjacent pair of lower tubes 12''. Although not shown, again the tubes may be held in their positions relative to one another by means of an outer casing enclosing the length of the tubes to form a multi-tube beam.
Thus as seen in FIG. 1, each beam truss 102' is comprised of a bundle of separate inflatable tubes 12. In the illustrated example, each beam truss 102' includes a pair of tubes 12'' mounted together side-by-side so as to be coextensive between their opposite first and second ends. A tube 12' is mounted over the pair of tubes 12'' and may be co-extensive in length, or of shorter length centered on the vertex of the span of the arch, to add the enhanced support of a multi-tube beam. Tubes 12' and 12'' form an arch extending between their opposite ends when their opposite ends are fixed to the ground or to a base. Thus with the first and second opposite ends of the tubes 12' and 12'' constrained by being mounted to for example the outer edges of a base sheet, and advantageously, with the edges of the base sheet secured to the ground, the length of the spanning tubes dictates that they form an arch because their length is greater than the diameter of the base.
In FIGS. 4a and 4b the vertices of the two upper inflatable beams intersect, and the third inflatable beam passes just underneath.
As will be apparent to those skilled in the art in the light of the foregoing disclosure, many alterations and modifications are possible in the practice of this invention without departing from the spirit or scope thereof. Accordingly, the scope of the invention is to be construed in accordance with the substance defined by the following claims.
Patent applications by Jean-Marc Daniel Turcot, Kelowna CA
Patent applications in class SHAPED OR STRENGTHENED BY FLUID PRESSURE
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