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Publication numberUS20040201335 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/403,794
Publication dateOct 14, 2004
Filing dateMar 28, 2003
Priority dateMar 28, 2003
Publication number10403794, 403794, US 2004/0201335 A1, US 2004/201335 A1, US 20040201335 A1, US 20040201335A1, US 2004201335 A1, US 2004201335A1, US-A1-20040201335, US-A1-2004201335, US2004/0201335A1, US2004/201335A1, US20040201335 A1, US20040201335A1, US2004201335 A1, US2004201335A1
InventorsBrooks Davis
Original AssigneeBrooks Davis
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Universal computer enclosure
US 20040201335 A1
Abstract
The invention provides a cabinet for storing computer devices with from various device vendors. This allows one cabinet to be used for multiple brands of computer devices, rather than requiring a separate type of cabinet for each brand of computer device. There are several cabinet features that add flexibility to the cabinet. One or more of these features can be incorporated in a cabinet to increase the flexibility of the cabinet for storing different brands of computer devices with different storage requirements.
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Claims(1)
I claim:
1. A storage cabinet adapted to mount and store computer devices from different vendors and having different sizes, comprising:
a frame;
an enclosure including a front door connected to the frame, a top panel connected to the frame, a right side panel connected to the frame, a left side panel connected to the frame, and a rear door connected to the frame;
a left bottom track connected to the frame;
a right bottom track connected to the frame;
a left top track connected to the frame;
a right top track connected to the frame;
a left front device support structure slidably connected to the left top track and the left bottom track to allow positioning of the left front device support structure at a desired position within the cabinet, including an interior surface substantially parallel to the left and right side panels and further including a rail with an inside edge and with a plurality of substantially square holes having sides of approximately 0.38 inches for being connected to a computer device intended to be mounted to a square hole and for being connected to an adapter to change the dimensions of the hole to connect a computer device intended to be mounted in a hole of different dimensions than the substantially square hole;
a right front device support structure slidably connected to the right top track and the right bottom track to allow positioning of the right front device support structure at a desired position within the cabinet, including an interior surface substantially parallel to the left and right side panels and spaced approximately 19.76 inches from the interior surface of the left front device support structure and further including a rail with an inside edge spaced approximately 17.81 inches from the inside edge of the rail of the left front device support structure and with a plurality of substantially square holes having sides of approximately 0.38 inches for being connected to a computer device intended to be mounted to a square hole and for being connected to an adapter to change the dimensions of the hole to connect a computer device intended to be mounted in a hole of different dimensions than the substantially square hole;
a left rear device support structure including an interior surface substantially parallel to the left and right side panels and further including a rail with an inside edge and with a plurality of substantially square holes having sides of approximately 0.38 inches and being slidably connected to the left top track and the left bottom track to allow positioning of the left rear device support structure at a desired position within the cabinet, and wherein the left rear device support structure is positioned with the rail of the left rear device support structure being approximately 29.13 inches from the rail of the left front device structure;
a right rear device support structure including an interior surface substantially parallel to the left and right side panels and spaced approximately 19.76 inches from the interior surface of the left rear device support structure and further including a rail with an inside edge spaced approximately 17.81 inches from the inside edge of the rail of the left rear device support structure and with a plurality of substantially square holes having sides of approximately 0.38 inches, and being slidably connected to the left top track and the left bottom track to allow positioning of the right rear device support structure at a desired position within the cabinet, and wherein the right rear device support structure is positioned with the rail of the right rear device support structure being approximately 29.13 inches from the rail of the right front device structure; and
a plurality of narrowing adapters for being connected to the device support structures to make the width between the interior surfaces of the left and right support structures approximately 18.80 inches for connecting to computer devices intended to be mounted in racks with a width between interior surfaces of left and right support structures of approximately 18.80 inches rather than approximately 19.76 inches.
Description
BACKGROUND

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] This invention relates to computer-related device storage, and more particularly to a universal computer enclosure design that can accept and support computing devices of various sizes and shapes, and with different spacing requirements.

[0003] 2. Background of the Invention

[0004] Modern businesses make increasing use of multiple computer devices and equipment, such as servers. This computer equipment is typically placed in specialized cabinets for use and storage. The Electronic Industries Association has produced a standard, EIA-310-D, for these specialized cabinets. The cabinets have rails on the left and right sides near the front of the cabinet with holes that are used to attach the computer equipment. The EIA-310-D standard defines the distance between the left and right rails, as well as the spacing of the holes in the rails. Many large computer device and server manufacturers conform to this standard.

[0005] However, the EIA-310-D standard leaves many aspects of the cabinet unspecified. For example, the holes in the rails may be square or circular. While the distance between the left and right side rails is specified, creating a specified width of an opening between the rails, the standard does not specify the width available within the cabinet behind the rails. Further, the depth of the cabinet, as well as various other aspects, are not specified.

[0006] Thus, many computer component and server vendors sell products that conform to the EIA-310-D specification, but have different mounting and spacing requirements. Formerly, specialized cabinets were designed to hold the equipment from a single vendor. Typically, a business would purchase computer devices from a single vendor to perform a task or set of tasks and store those devices together in the cabinet designed for that vendor. Devices that perform another task or set of tasks would be purchased from another vendor and stored in another cabinet designed for that second vendor.

[0007] However, businesses have increasingly consolidated operations so that, rather than segregating different computer equipment, the businesses wish to store all their equipment together, regardless of the task being performed or the vendor from which the device was purchased. This poses a problem, since a computer cabinet specifically designed to allow mounting and storage of equipment from one vendor will often not work with equipment from other vendors, even if all of the equipment conforms to a standard, such as the EIA-310-D specification.

[0008] Accordingly, it is desirable to provide a flexible computer equipment cabinet that allows mounting and storage of equipment from several different vendors with different physical mounting mechanisms.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0009] The invention provides a computer device cabinet that has one or more features that give the cabinet flexibility for storing computer devices from multiple different vendors and having different cabinet requirements. In one embodiment of the present invention, this allows storage of different computer devices from different vendors with different cabinet requirements in a single cabinet. Alternatively, multiple units of the same flexible cabinet may be purchased and each used with a different type of computer device from a vendor. In either case, purchasing cabinets for storage of computer devices is made simpler for customers.

[0010] One feature that adds flexibility to the cabinet is mounting holes that will work with many different computer devices with different requirements for sizes and/or shapes of the mounting hole. Adapters are used with the mounting holes to allow the different computer devices to be mounted to the same set of mounting holes.

[0011] Another feature is a set of device support structures that may be positioned freely at desired depths within the cabinet. This allows optimal positioning of the computer devices within the cabinet to ensure door clearance and proper cooling space. Additionally, it allows computer devices of varying depths to be mounted in the cabinet, optionally with the use of adapters.

[0012] Yet another feature is an interior width that is wide enough to fit a large variety of computer devices. Adapters are used to narrow the width and allow mounting and storage of computer devices that require a narrower width.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0013]FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the front, top, and right side of an improved computer cabinet according to one embodiment of the present invention.

[0014]FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the rear, top, and right side of the improved computer cabinet according to one embodiment of the present invention.

[0015]FIG. 3a is a front view that illustrates the left and right front device support structures to which computer devices are attached according to one embodiment of the present invention.

[0016]FIG. 3b is a rear view that illustrates the left and right rear device support structures to which computer devices are attached according to one embodiment of the present invention.

[0017]FIG. 3c is a close up perspective view that illustrates a computer device mounted within the cabinet according to one embodiment of the present invention.

[0018]FIGS. 4a-4 c are perspective views of adapters hat are used with holes to attach different computer devices to the cabinet according to one embodiment of the present invention.

[0019]FIG. 5 is a perspective view illustrating the right front rail, holes within the right front rail, and the use of an adapter from FIG. 4a with the rail according to one embodiment of the present invention.

[0020]FIG. 6 is a top view that illustrates the left and right front device support structures as well as the left and right rear device support structures according to one embodiment of the present invention.

[0021]FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a narrowing adapter bracket according to one embodiment of the present invention.

[0022]FIG. 8 is a side view that illustrates the left front device support structure according to one embodiment of the present invention.

[0023]FIG. 9 is a perspective view that illustrates how a narrowing adapter bracket is attached to a device support structure according to one embodiment of the present invention.

[0024]FIG. 10 is a top view that illustrates four device support structures with the narrowing adapter brackets installed according to one embodiment of the present invention.

[0025]FIG. 11a is a perspective view illustrating how the device support structures are positioned within the cabinet along the tracks according to one embodiment of the present invention.

[0026]FIG. 11b is a close up perspective view showing more detail of the track and how the device support structures are set in position along the track according to one embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0027]FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the front, top, and right side of an improved computer cabinet 100 that provides added flexibility for allowing the mounting of computer devices from several different vendors with different mounting requirements. This additional flexibility provides the advantage of allowing use of just one cabinet 100 to contain equipment from several different computer device vendors, rather than purchasing several cabinets.

[0028] Alternatively, the additional flexibility may provide the advantage of allowing the cabinet 100 to conform to any one set of mounting requirements for computer devices. This type of flexibility provides the advantage of purchasing just one type of cabinet 100 for different mounting requirements, rather than purchasing multiple different types of vendor specific cabinets 100.

[0029] In one embodiment, the computer cabinet 100 conforms to the EIA-310-D standard, and also conforms to requirements set by various computer equipment vendors. In one embodiment, the vendors include International Business Machines Corporation of Armonk, N.Y., Dell Computer Corporation of Austin, Tex., Sun Microsystems, Inc. of Santa Clara, Calif., and Compaq and Hewlett-Packard, both owned by Hewlett-Packard, Inc. of Palo Alto, Calif. In other embodiments, the computer cabinet 100 may conform to another standard, or not conform to any particular standard, but simply include features providing extra flexibility so that many different computer devices from different vendors may be stored in the cabinet.

[0030] In the description below, a cabinet 100 is described that includes multiple different features. Each feature increases cabinet 100 flexibility. While it may be desirable to include all of the features that increase flexibility in a cabinet 100, the cabinet 100 may also include just one of the features, or just a few of the features, depending on which flexibility improvements are desired. Some of the cabinet 100 features include:

[0031] (1) Mounting holes that allow direct mounting of some computer devices and/or that accept adapters for mounting other computer devices.

[0032] (2) An effective interior width of the cabinet 100 large enough for mounting the widest computer device desired to be mounted in the cabinet 100. Adapters may be used for narrowing the effective width of the cabinet 100 for computer devices that require a narrower width or that require a varying width.

[0033] (3) Structures to which the computer devices are mounted and which support the computer devices that may be variably positioned within the cabinet 100. This allows computer devices to be positioned forward or back within the cabinet 100 as desired.

[0034] (4) The distance between front and rear support structures may be chosen using variable positioning. A single distance may be chosen that is appropriate for use with several types of computer devices. Alternatively, the support structures may be placed far enough apart for computer devices with large depth, and adapters used to decrease the depth for attaching computer devices that require smaller depths.

[0035] (5) An overall cabinet 100 depth the meets the minimum requirements of several different types of computer devices.

[0036] (6) Cooling features sufficient for many types of computer devices; the cooling can include free space within the cabinet 100 and vents in the cabinet 100 enclosure.

[0037] As seen in FIG. 1, the cabinet 100 includes a left front device support structure 102 and a right front device support structure 104. The computer devices are mounted in the cabinet 100 by attaching the devices to the left and right front device support structures 102, 104, as well as to left and right rear device support structures (not shown in FIG. 1). The left and right front device support structures 102, 104 are connected to tracks 114 within the cabinet 100 in one embodiment. There are upper and lower left side tracks 114 and upper and lower right side tracks 114 (only the lower left side track 114 is shown in FIG. 1). The tracks 114 are connected to a cabinet frame 120. The cabinet 100 also includes a door 106, a top panel 108, a right panel 110, and a left panel 112, each of which are connected to the cabinet frame 120. A rear door (not shown in FIG. 1) may also be included. In other embodiments, the device support structures 102, 104 may be connected directly to the frame 120, the side panels 110, 112, or to other parts of the cabinet 100, rather than to the tracks 114. Note that while the term “cabinet” is used, the present invention may lack one or more of the enclosing panels. The cabinet 100 may have one or more sides open to the environment, rather than be enclosed on all sides.

[0038] In one embodiment, the cabinet 100 has exterior dimensions of a width 116 of approximately 24 inches and a depth 118 of approximately 46.6 inches. Typically, the cabinets 100 are placed in data centers, which have square floor tiles 24 inches on a side. In such a data center, the cabinet 100 fits on two floor tiles, which eases acquisition of data center space and allows for easy connection of wires from below the data center floor to the cabinets 100: since the cabinet 100 can be placed on a space one square wide, adjacent squares may be lifted to access wiring beneath the floor square. This embodiment has an interior depth within the cabinet 100 and available for use by computer devices of approximately 44 inches, which allows mounting and storage of many brands of computer devices within the cabinet 100, including IBM, Dell, Sun, Hewlett Packard, and Compaq.

[0039] In one alternative embodiment, the cabinet has an interior depth within the cabinet 100 of approximately 34 inches. The exterior depth 118 of this embodiment is approximately 36 inches, which allows this cabinet 100 to fit in a space in a data center that is one and a half floor tiles deep. Other exterior depths 118 and widths 116 and interior depths and widths may also be chosen, depending on what size computer devices are to be stored within the cabinet. One way to determine the interior depth and width desired is to determine the largest interior depth required by the computer devices to be stored in the cabinet 100 and ensure that the interior depth is at least that large. In one embodiment, the interior depth of the cabinet 100 is at least 36 inches, which is deep enough for the computer device (28 inches) and cooling requirement (at least 8 inches of free space behind the computer device and in front of the rear door) of an IBM computer device.

[0040] The cabinet 100 also has cooling features sufficient to meet the most stringent cooling requirements of the computer devices to be mounted in the cabinet 100. For example, in one embodiment, the front door 106 has greater than 19 square inches of open cooling vent area per rack unit in the front device support structures 102, 104. The rear door has more than 25 square inches of open cooling vent area per rack unit in the front device support structures 102, 104. This is enough venting area for the computer devices to be mounted in the cabinet 100. In other embodiments, the cooling area of the cabinet 100 may be greater if required by the computer devices that are to be mounted in that cabinet.

[0041] Many computer devices also specify requirements for the amount of load a cabinet 100 can bear per rack unit in the front device support structures 102, 104. The cabinet 100 is designed so that it may bear the amount of load specified by the computer device with the largest load bearing requirement. In one embodiment, the cabinet 100 designed to bear more than 35 pounds per rack unit in the front device support structures 102, 104. In this embodiment, there are 42 rack units in the front device support structures 102, 104, so the cabinet 100 is capable of bearing at least 1470 pounds.

[0042]FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the rear, top, and right side of the computer cabinet 100. The cabinet 100 includes a left rear device support structure 202 and a right rear device support structure 204 (not shown in FIG. 2). When the computer devices are mounted in the cabinet 100, the devices are typically attached to the rear device support structures 202, 204 in addition to the front device support structures 102, 104. The left and right rear device support structures 202, 204 are also connected to tracks 114 on the upper and lower left and right sides within the cabinet 100.

[0043]FIG. 3a is a front view that illustrates the left and right front device support structures 102 and 104 to which computer devices are attached according to one embodiment of the present invention. The left and right device support structures 102 and 104 each include a rail 328, 330 with a surface parallel to the front of the cabinet 100 and perpendicular to the right and left panels 110, 112. Each of the left and right front device support structures 102, 104 has mounting holes 304 spaced along the rail 328, 330. Typically, the computer equipment is mounted to the device support structures 102 and 104 by attaching to the holes 304 in the rails 328, 330. The holes 304 are spaced according to the EIA-310-D standard in one embodiment of the present invention.

[0044] Under the EIA-310-D standard, there are multiple rack units 308 along each device support structure 102, 104. Each rack unit 308 has three mounting holes 304. The distances 312, 314 center-to-center of the holes 304 within a rack unit 308 are approximately 0.625 inches. The distance 310 center-to-center between the last hole 304 of one rack unit 308 and the first hole 304 of another rack unit 308 is approximately 0.50 inches. This means that each rack unit 308 extends approximately 1.75 inches along the rails 328, 330. In other embodiments, the holes 304 can be sized and spaced appropriately according to a different standard, or simply sized and spaced to allow attachment of various non-standard computer devices.

[0045] While the EIA-310-D standard specifies the spacing of the holes 304, it does not specify the size or shape of the holes. In one embodiment of the present invention, the holes 304 are substantially square. The holes 304 have a width 316 of approximately 0.38 inches, and a height 318 of approximately 0.38 inches. This size is large enough to accept the mounting hardware of computer devices from many different vendors, and to accept adapters that make the holes compatible with computer devices that require different sized or shaped holes 304.

[0046] So that devices conforming to the EIA-310-D standard will fit correctly when attaching them to the left and right front device support structures 102 and 104, the distance 302 between the inside edges of the left and right front rails 328, 330 is approximately 17.81 inches, and the center-to-center distance 306 between holes 304 in the left rail 102 and holes 304 in the right rail 104 is approximately 18.31 inches, which is consistent with the EIA-310-D standard and the requirements of multiple computer device manufacturers. In other embodiments, the distances between the rails 328, 330 and holes 304 can be different to comply with a different standard or with various non-standard computer devices.

[0047]FIG. 3b is a rear view that illustrates the left and right rear device support structures 202 and 204 to which computer devices are attached. (Note that since this is a rear view, the left rear device support structure 202 appears on the right of FIG. 3b, and the right rear device structure 204 appears on the left of FIG. 3b.) The left and right rear device support structures 202, 204 are configured similarly to the front device support structures 102, 104. Each of the left and right rear device support structures 202, 204 has a rail 332, 334. The distance 302 between the rear rails 332, 334 and the center-to-center distance 306 between holes 304 in the right rail 334 and the holes 304 in the left rail 332 are substantially the same as the distances 302, 306 described above with respect to the left and right front device support structures. The rear rails 332, 334 have holes 304, which have placements, spacings, and sizes substantially the same as for the holes 304 in the front rails 328, 330.

[0048] In some embodiments of the present invention, additional top and bottom side brackets 320, 322 are also attached to the left and right rear device support structures 202, 204. In the illustrated embodiment, the side brackets 320, 322 include three holes 304 spaced as in a rack unit 308. Additionally, the distance 324 between the top and bottom side brackets 320, 322 is substantially the same as the distance 302 between the left and right rails 328, 330, and the center-to-center distance 326 between a hole 304 in a top side bracket 320 and a hole 304 in a bottom side bracket 322 is substantially the same as the center-to-center distance 306 between holes 304 in the left rail 328 and holes 304 in the right rail 104. This allows mounting of a computer device that takes up one rack unit 308 on each side of the cabinet 100, in addition to installing computer devices between the rails 102, 104 in the cabinet 100. In alternative embodiments, such additional top and bottom side brackets 320, 322 are also attached to the left and right front device support structures 102, 104.

[0049]FIG. 3c is a close up perspective view that illustrates a computer device 350 mounted within the cabinet 100. In the illustrated embodiment, the computer device 350 is mounted to the front device support structures 102, 104 in the cabinet 100 by four attachment devices 352 that attach the computer device 350 to four holes 304 in the front rails 328, 330. The attachment devices 352 may be straight edged hooks that hook over the edge of the square holes 304, screws that are screwed into round threaded adapters in the holes 304, or other attachment devices 352. Typically, the computer device 350 will be similarly attached to the rear rails 332, 334 and/or rear device support structures 202, 204. Alternatively, the holes 304 could simply be used as positioning reference devices with pins on the computer device 350 for positioning the computer device 350 correctly in the cabinet 100 without attaching the computer device 350 to the cabinet 100.

[0050] The computer device 350 in FIG. 3c also has a faceplate 354. This faceplate 354 may extend beyond the device support structures 102, 104 to an extent that the device support structures 102, 104 should be positioned back within the cabinet 100 to allow the door 106 to close. Also, the computer device 350 may have a cooling requirement of free space between the faceplate 354 and the door 106 that may require proper positioning of the device support structures 102, 104 away from the door 106.

[0051]FIGS. 4a-4 c are perspective views of adapters 402, 404, 406 that are used with the holes 304 when a computer device 350 from a vendor is to be attached to rails 328, 330, 332, 334 with holes of a different shape or size than the actual holes 304 in the rails 328, 330, 332, 334. This allows mounting of computer devices 350 with different mounting requirements on the same rails 328, 330, 332, 334 within the cabinet 100 and increases the flexibility of what computer devices 350 may be used with the cabinet 100. The adapters 402, 404, 406 may also be used with holes 304 in the device support structures 102, 104, 202, 204, to attach the computer device 350 to the device support structures 102, 104, 202, 204 in addition to the rails 328, 330, 332, 334, or in place of attaching the computer device 350 to the rails 328, 330, 332, 334.

[0052] The adapters 402, 404, 406 are inserted in the hole 304 in the rail 328, 330, 332, 334 to effectively change the size and/or shape of the hole 304. Each of the adapters 402, 404, 406 shown in FIGS. 4a-4 c changes the effective shape of the hole 304 to a round hole because the adapter 402, 404, 406 itself includes a round hole 408. This round hole 408 may be of various sizes, and may be threaded or non-threaded, depending on the requirements of the computer device 350 to be attached using the adapter 402, 404, 406. Additionally, other adapters can change the shape of the hole 304 to a smaller square hole, to a rectangular hole, or to a hole of a different shape. An adapter may even completely block the hole 304 and replace the hole with a mounting hook or other device.

[0053]FIG. 5 is a perspective view illustrating the right front rail 330, holes 304 within the right front rail 330, and the use of adapter 402 from FIG. 4a with the rail 330. In the illustrated embodiment, a tool 502 is used to compress flanges 410 of adapter 402 illustrated from FIG. 4a so that the adapter 402 may be inserted into the hole 304 and be firmly connected with the rail 330. The other two adapters 402 in FIG. 5 have already been installed in the holes 304 of the rail 330 and are ready for use to attach a computer device 350 to the rail 330.

[0054]FIG. 6 is a top view that illustrates the left and right front device support structures 102, 104 as well as the left and right rear device support structures 202, 204 according to one embodiment of the present invention. As described above with respect to FIG. 3a, the inside edges of the front left and right rails 328, 330 are separated by a distance 302 of approximately 17.81 inches. Similarly, the rear left and right rails 332, 334 are also separated by the distance 302 of approximately 17.81 inches.

[0055] The device support structures 102, 104, 202, 204 are mounted to the rails 114 within the cabinet 100 so that the front rails 328, 330 have a depth distance 604 of approximately 29.13 inches from the rear rails 332, 334 in one embodiment. As will be described more fully below, the rails 114 allow the depth distance 604 between the front rails 328, 330 and the rear rails 332, 334 to be varied by a user. However, in the illustrated embodiment, the depth distance 604 of 29.13 inches is chosen because it is compatible with the requirements of the EIA-310-D standard as well as the requirements of a wide range of computer devices 350 from several different vendors. In one embodiment, this distance 604 of 29.13 inches is chosen because it is the distance 604 specified for use with one of the multiple computer devices 350 with which the cabinet 100 is to be used and falls within an allowable range of distances 604 specified by the rest of the multiple computer devices 350 with which the cabinet 100 is to be used.

[0056] Between the rails 328, 330, 332, 334, the width 602 between interior surfaces 606 of the left and right rear device support structures 202, 204 is approximately 19.76 inches. Similarly, between the rails 328, 330, 332, 334, the width 602 between interior surfaces 606 of the left and right front device support structures 102, 104 is also approximately 19.76 inches. These interior surfaces 606 are a surface of the device support structures 102, 104, 202, 204 that are parallel to the left and right side panels 110, 112, and toward the inside of the cabinet 100 interior, away from the side panels 110, 112. This width 602 is chosen to be great enough so that computer devices 350 from many different vendors will fit between the device support structures 102, 104, 202, 204. In the illustrated embodiment, the width 602 is chosen as approximately 19.76 inches to be compatible with the EIA-310-D standard, as well as with the widest requirements of computer devices 350 from Dell, Sun, Hewlett Packard, and Compaq. In different embodiments, different widths are used.

[0057] The width 602 of FIG. 6 is chosen so that the width 602 will be large enough for computer devices 350 from many different vendors. However, some computer devices 350 may require a width of less than the width 602. In such a case, a narrowing adapter bracket may be used.

[0058]FIG. 7 is a perspective view of such a narrowing adapter bracket 702. A narrowing adapter bracket 702 increases the flexibility of the cabinet 100 and allows the use of the cabinet 100 with a wider range of computer devices 350 with different width requirements. Some computer devices 350 may be attached to the narrowing adapter bracket 702 or to a non-rail portion of the device support structures 102, 104, 202, 204 in addition to attaching the computer devices 350 to the rails 328, 330, 332, 334, or in place of attaching the computer devices 350 to the rails 328, 330, 332, 334. The narrowing adapter bracket 702 has attachment holes 704 for attaching the narrowing adapter bracket 702 to the device support structures 102, 104, 202, 204. The narrowing adapter bracket 702 also includes device holes 706 for use in attaching the computer device 350 to the adapter bracket 702. In the illustrated embodiment, these device holes 706 are round and are spaced as in a rack unit with the same distances between holes 706 as described above with respect to the holes 304 of the rails 328, 330, 332, 334. In another embodiment, holes 706 of different shapes, and with different positioning schemes may also be used. Alternatively, the narrowing adapter bracket 702 may not require holes 704, 706 at all, but may use other structures to attach the bracket 702 to the device support structures 102, 104, 202, 204 and/or attach the computer device 350 to the narrowing adapter bracket 702.

[0059]FIG. 8 is a side view that illustrates the left front device support structure 102 in more detail. Note that while FIG. 8 and the accompanying description illustrates the left front device support structure 102, the other device support structures 104, 202, 204 are typically configured in the same way as the left front device support structure 102. Thus, the description and illustration of the left front device support structure 102 is typically equally applicable to the right front device support structure 104, and the right and left rear device support structures 202, 204.

[0060] The left front device support structure 102 has adapter attachment holes 802 positioned to line up with the attachment holes 704 of the narrowing adapter bracket 702 to allow attaching the narrowing adapter bracket 702 to the left front device support structure 102. Various types of narrowing adapter brackets 702 may be attached at various vertical positions along the device support structure 102 to allow the attachment of computer devices 350 of varying widths within the same cabinet 100.

[0061] Also illustrated in FIG. 8, the side wall of the device support structure 102 includes holes 304. In one embodiment, these holes 304 follow the same pattern, are the same shape and size, and are spaced apart from each other in the same way as the holes 304 in the rails 328, 330, 332, 334. In other embodiments, the holes 304 may have a different shape or size, be positioned differently, or even be absent from the device support structure 102. A computer device 350 may be attached to these holes 304 on the device support structure 102, 104, 202, 204, rather than, or in addition to being attached to the holes 304 in the rails 328, 330, 332, 334.

[0062]FIG. 9 is a perspective view that illustrates how a narrowing adapter bracket 702 is attached to a device support structure 102 according to one embodiment of the present invention. Screws 902 go through the attachment holes 704 of the narrowing adapter bracket 702 and are fastened to the adapter attachment holes 802 of the device support structure 102. By attaching the narrowing adapter bracket 702 in such a way, the effective width 602 between front left and right device support structures 102, 104 or between the rear left and right device support structures 202, 204 is narrowed, allowing attachment of computer devices 350 that require narrower widths 602.

[0063] Returning to FIG. 6, in other embodiments, the distance 604 between the left front and left rear rails 328 and 332 or right front and right rear rails 330, 334 may be chosen so that the distance 604 is at least as large as the greatest distance required by the computer devices 350 that will be stored in the cabinet 100. Adapter brackets may be connected to the device support structures 102, 104, 202, 204 to selectively reduce the distance 604 to allow installation of computer devices 350 that require a smaller distance 604. This can be done by using adapter brackets similar to the narrowing adapter brackets 702 described above. Computer devices 350 that require a smaller depth distance 604 would then be attached to the adapter brackets, increasing the flexibility of the cabinet 100 and allowing the cabinet 100 to store many different types of computer devices 350 that require different depth distances 604.

[0064]FIG. 10 is a top view that illustrates four device support structures 102, 104, 202, 204 with the narrowing adapter brackets 702 installed. As seen in FIG. 10, the depth distance 604 between the front rails 328, 330 and the rear rails 332, 334 remains the same as shown in FIG. 6: approximately 29.13 inches. The front left and right rails 328, 330 and rear left and right rails 332, 334 are separated by a distance 302 of approximately 17.81 inches. The width 602 between the left and right rear device support structures 202, 204 and between the left and right front device support structures 102, 104 is approximately 19.76 inches. However, because the narrowing adapter brackets 702 have been installed, the effective width 1002 between the left and right rear device support structures 202, 204 and between the left and right front device support structures 102, 104 is narrower, approximately 18.80 inches. This allows installation of computer devices 350 that require a narrower effective width 1002 than the larger width 602.

[0065] In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 10, the narrowing adapter brackets 702 also provide a modified depth distance 1004. The computer device 350 for which the narrowing adapter brackets 702 are installed may require this modified depth distance 1004. In FIG. 10, this modified depth distance is approximately 24 inches. Other computer devices 350 may require narrowing adapter brackets 702 that provide different modified depth distances 1004 that can be accommodated using appropriate narrowing adapter brackets 702.

[0066]FIG. 11a is a perspective view illustrating how the device support structures 102, 104, 202, 204 are positioned within the cabinet 100 along the tracks 114. FIG. 11b is a close up perspective view showing more detail of the track 114 and how the device support structures 102, 104, 202, 204 are set in position along the track 114. While FIGS. 11a-11 b only show some of the device support structures 102, 104, 202, 204, the rest of the device support structures 102, 104, 202, 204 may be similarly positioned within the cabinet 100 along the tracks 114.

[0067] The device support structures 102, 104, 202, 204 can be positioned at any point along the tracks 114. As shown in FIG. 11a, both the front and the rear device support structures 102, 202 may be independently moved forward or back along the tracks 114 and fixed in the desired position. In an alternative embodiment, the distance between the front and rear device support structures 102, 202 is fixed, but the device support structures 102, 202 may be moved as a unit forward or back along the tracks 114 to a desired position.

[0068] As seen in the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 11b, a positioning screw 1102 is tightened to set the device support structure 202 in a desired position and prevent it from moving, or loosened to free the device support structure 202 and allow it to be repositioned. The positioning screw 1102 is threaded into a nut (not shown) that is located within the track 114. As the positioning screw 1102 is tightened into the nut, the screw 1102 forces the device support structure 202, as well as the nut, against the track 114. Friction between the nut and the track and the device support structure 202 and the track then prevents the device support structure 202 from moving away from the set position.

[0069] To change the position of the device support structure 202, the screw 1102 is loosened, releasing the force holding the device support structure 202 against the track 114. After the screw 1102 is loosened, both the device support structure 202 and the nut are able to slide forward or back along the track 114 so that the device support structure 202 may be positioned at any location along the track 114. After the device support structure 202 has been placed in a desired position, the screw 1102 is then retightened, so that the device support structure 202 is again set in place.

[0070] In alternative embodiments, a cam or other mechanism may replace the screw 1102 for setting the device support structures 102, 104, 202, 204 in place and preventing them from moving. Alternatively, rather than the continuously variable positioning allowed by the illustrated embodiment, there may be predetermined set locations at which the device support structures 102, 104, 202, 204 may be positioned. Finally, in some embodiments, the device support structures 102, 104, 202, 204 may have a single set position.

[0071] Because the device support structures 102, 104, 202, 204 may be independently positioned along the tracks 114 within the cabinet 100, the depth distance 604 may be altered by the user. As discussed above with respect to FIG. 6, in one embodiment the depth distance 604 of 29.13 inches is chosen because it is compatible with the requirements of a wide range of computer devices 350 from several different vendors. However, the cabinet 100 of the present invention is flexible enough to allow different depth distances 604 if required by devices from different vendors.

[0072] Additionally, even if the depth distance 604 is kept at 29.13 inches, the variable positions allowed by the cabinet 100 with its tracks 114 for the device support structures 102, 104, 202, 204 allow a user to select whether a computer device 350 will be positioned closer to the front of the cabinet 100 or closer to the rear of the cabinet 100. This feature provides additional flexibility to the cabinet 100 because different computer devices 350 may be optimally positioned closer to the front of the cabinet 100 or closer to the back of the cabinet 100. For example, some computer devices 350 may have a large faceplate 354 that would prevent the door 106 of the cabinet 100 from closing if the device support structures 102, 104, 202, 204 were positioned too far forward. The variable positions allowed by the cabinet 100 mean that such a computer device 350 can be positioned further back in the cabinet 100, and allow the door 106 to close properly. Similarly, some computer devices 350 require a set amount of free space behind the computer device 350 and in front of the rear of the cabinet 100, to ensure proper airflow for cooling the computer device 350. The variable positions allowed by the cabinet 100 mean that the computer device 350 can be correctly positioned in the cabinet 100 to ensure proper airflow for this computer device 350.

[0073] The foregoing description of the embodiments of the invention has been presented for the purposes of illustration and description. It is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise forms disclosed. Persons skilled in the relevant art can appreciate that many modifications and variations are possible in light of the above teaching. Persons skilled in the art will recognize various equivalent combinations and substitutions for various components shown in the figures. It is therefore intended that the scope of the invention be limited not by this detailed description, but rather by the claims appended hereto.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification312/265.3
International ClassificationG06F1/18, H05K7/14
Cooperative ClassificationH05K7/1425, G06F1/181
European ClassificationG06F1/18E, H05K7/14F5B
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Aug 25, 2003ASAssignment
Owner name: SHARKRACK, INC., CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:DAVIS, BROOKS;REEL/FRAME:014430/0121
Effective date: 20030721