US 20070008708 A1
A module connecting arrangement for mounting a module on a support rail includes a horizontal rectangular housing containing a longitudinal chamber, and a bottom surface that contains a recess for transversely receiving the support rail, the recess being in communication with the chamber. A pair of horizontal, superimposed, slidably-connected locking slide members are longitudinally mounted in the chamber. The slide members are spring-biased together toward a locking position in which integral opposed locking lip portions thereon extend below outwardly directed horizontal flange portions of the support rail. A separating member having a non-circular cross-section is rotatably connected with the housing and extends into a gap defined between spaced opposing walls on the slide members, whereby rotation of the separating members produces displacement of the slide members toward released positions relative to the support rail.
1. Module connecting apparatus for releasably mounting an electrical module upon a U-shaped support rail (4) having a pair of upwardly extending leg portions (4 a, 4 b) joined at their lower ends by a bridging portion (4 c), said legs terminating at their upper ends with outwardly extending horizontal flange portions (5,6), respectively, comprising:
(a) a horizontal generally rectangular housing (1) containing a longitudinal chamber (2), said housing having a bottom surface containing a recess (4) for transversely receiving the support rail, said recess being in communication with said chamber;
(b) locking means (8) for locking said housing to the support rail when said housing is transversely mounted on the support rail with the support rail extending into said recess, including:
(1) a pair of horizontal parallel superimposed relatively slidably connected upper and lower locking slide members (9, 10) arranged longitudinally within said housing chamber for relative displacement between adjacent locking and separated release positions relative to said recess, respectively, said lower locking slide member (10) having at one end a protruding locking lip (13) adapted to extend horizontally beneath the adjacent one of the support rail flange portions, said upper locking slide member extending transversely above and across the support rail and including on its bottom surface a reversely extending horizontal locking lip (12) adapted to extend below the other support rail flange portion; and
(2) spring means (11) biasing said locking slide members longitudinally together toward said locking position, thereby to cause said locking lips to extend beneath said support flange portions, respectively, whereby said housing is locked to the support rail; and
(c) release means (16) for relatively displacing said locking members in the opposite direction against the biasing force of said spring means toward said released position, thereby to displace said locking lips outwardly from the support rail flange portions, whereby said housing is unlocked for removal from the support rail.
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1. Field of the Invention
A module connecting arrangement for mounting a module on a support rail includes a horizontal rectangular housing containing a longitudinal chamber, and a bottom surface that contains a recess for transversely receiving the support rail, the recess being in communication with the chamber. A pair of horizontal, superimposed, slidably-connected locking slide members are longitudinally mounted in the chamber, said slide members being spring-biased together toward a locking position in which integral opposed locking lip portions thereon extend below outwardly directed horizontal flange portions of the support rail. A separating member having a non-circular cross-section is rotatably connected with the housing and extends within a gap defined between spaced opposing vertical walls on the slide members, whereby rotation of the separating member produces displacement of the slide members toward released positions relative to the support rail.
2. Description of Related Art
It is well known to provide electrical modules that are transversely mounted on support rails having a hat-shaped cross section, as shown, for example, by the patents to Hanning U.S. Pat. No. 6,322,399, Stuckmann et al U.S. Pat. No. 6,478,605, and Schnatwinkel et al U.S. Pat. No. 6,575,771. The known modules are in the form of terminal blocks and module bases, and for the purpose of locking the components upon the mounting rail, they have a locking device that is integrated into or set into the housing that consists of electrical insulation material, which locking device grasps behind the laterally extending flange edges of the mounting rail. On the one hand, it is known that one can make the locking device by means of elastic hooks that are injection-molded upon a housing made of electrical insulation material and that, when locked upon the mounting rail, will grasp behind the edge of the mounting rail in a locking manner. Release of the device, for instance, is accomplished with the help of a screwdriver in that one hook is bent away from the mounting rail, whereupon that side of the terminal block can be separated from the mounting rail. However, this procedure presupposes that the hook on the terminal block be accessible, so to speak, out of the direction of the mounting rail (i.e., “from underneath”).
Therefore, fastening devices are also known where the separation is done “from above.” The known solutions of this type here, however, always entail the disadvantage of a relatively complicated operation and design. Accordingly, it is the object of the invention to provide an improved module housing, in particular, a module base housing, that is characterized by uncomplicated and safe handling and that nevertheless has a simple design structure.
Accordingly, a primary object of the present invention is to provide a module connecting arrangement in which a rectangular housing is provided containing a longitudinal chamber and having a bottom surface containing a recess for transversely receiving the support rail, a pair of superimposed slidably connected locking slide members being provided in the chamber which are spring-biased together toward a locking position in which opposed locking lips carried thereby extend below outwardly horizontal flange portions of the support rail. A separating member having a non-circular cross-sectional configuration is rotatably connected with the housing and extends in a gap defined between opposed vertical surfaces of the locking slide members, which separating member is rotated by the tip of a screwdriver to separate the slide members longitudinally apart toward a released position relative to the support rail flanges, thereby to permit removal of the module from the support rail.
According to another object of the invention, the rotary spreading member is arranged at one end of the housing remote from the support rail, thereby to permit the selective release of one of a plurality of modules mounted on the support rail.
According to a further object of the invention, the rotary spreading member can be either separate from the housing, or integral with and connected to the housing by a frangible connection.
Another object of the invention is to provide the locking tip portions of the locking slide members with inclined surfaces, thereby to permit mounting of the module by a simple downward displacement of the module relative to the support rail.
The present invention provides a module housing, in particular, a module base housing, for locking upon a mounting rail having mounting rail edges, whereby the housing contains a locking device comprised of two locking slides that can be shifted with relation to each other, that are connected with each other via a spring—preferably in an integral manner—and that in each case have sections for grasping under the edges of the mounting rail, characterized by the provision of a spreading element for spreading the locking slides apart against the force of the spring so as to release the locking device from the mounting rail edges.
The invention is distinguished by a particularly simple and defined handling with low production and assembly costs. For the purpose of mounting on the mounting rail, the housing is locked in a simple manner upon the mounting rail in that, for example, a hook-shaped section behind one of the mounting rail edges is hooked in and that then the module base housing is swung upon the mounting rail. For release, it is only necessary to work on the spreading element with a tool such as a screwdriver.
Preferably, the spreading element comprises a rotatable spreading pin having a non-circular cross-section, i.e., that is flattened over a part of its axial length (in particular, has an elliptical cross-sectional configuration. As a result of the use of a rotatable spread pin, only a quarter rotation of the spreading pin through 90° is necessary to release the fastening device. Then the module base can be taken off the mounting rail in the unlocked condition.
It is practical when the spreading pin is so designed that it can be operated with a tool, in particular, a screwdriver, so that spreading pin has an operating slot for receiving the tip of a screwdriver. It is advantageous that the mounting rail edge can be arranged far to the side so that it can be easily reached.
According to a particular variant, the spreading pin is made as an element that is separate with respect to the housing. As an alternative, it might also be conceived that it is integrally connected with the housing in the area of an intentional break-off point, especially since this variant is particularly easy to make. The spreading pin is separated from the housing after production or during its first use.
It is known from the state of the art that the locking device can be provided with two locking slides that are arranged on both sides of the mounting rail edge and that, for example, are connected with each other by a meander-shaped spring.
The new solution differs from this state of the art in the following manner: It arranges the spreading element, preferably the spreading pin, directly on or in the module base housing, which spreading pin can be operated in a simple and comfortable fashion with a tool in the lock-on direction of the mounting rail or “from above.” The invention will be described in greater detail below with reference to the drawing on the basis of the exemplary embodiments.
Other objects and advantages of the invention will become apparent from a study of the following specification, when viewed in the light of the accompanying drawing, in which:
Referring first more particularly to
Mounted within the longitudinally extending chamber 2 are locking means 8 that serve to lock the housing 1 to the support rail 4. More particularly, the locking means 8 includes a pair of parallel superimposed slidably connected locking slide members 9 and 10. The upper slide member 9 extends transversely across the support rail 4 and includes on its lower surface a reversely extending locking lip portion 12 that extends beneath the support rail flange 6. The lower locking slide member 10 includes a locking lip portion 13 that protrudes beneath the horizontal rail flange 5. Spring means 11 serve to bias the slide members 9 and 10 together toward locking engagement with the support rail 4 as shown in
In accordance with a characterizing feature of the present invention, a spreading pin 16 is rotatably mounted at its lower end within the housing 1, which spreading pin 16 extends upwardly within a gap 18 defined between opposed vertical wall portions of the slide members 9 and 10. As will be explained in greater detail below, the spreading pin 16 has a central portion of non-circular cross-sectional configuration, whereby upon rotation of the spreading member 16 by a screw driver 23, the slide members 9 and 10 are longitudinally separated toward the released positions of
Referring now to
In the embodiment of
In operation, in order to mount the module connecting apparatus of the present invention upona stationary support rail 4, the housing 1 is displaced downwardly toward the support rail until the inclined bottom surfaces 14 and 15 of the locking projections 12 and 13 engage the lateral flanges 5 and 6 of the support rail. Upon further downward displacement of the housing 1, the slide members 9 and 10 are slightly displaced longitudinally apart so that the locking lips 12 and 13 snap beneath the flange portions 5 and 6. The housing 1 is now locked to the support rail 4, whereupon the various printed circuit boards 25 or other modules are mounted on the housing 1 between the slots 7.
In order to release the housing 1 from the support rail 4, a screw driver 23 is displaced to cause the tip portion thereof to enter the operating slot 24 a, whereupon the spreading pin 16 is rotated through an angle of 90° relative to the housing 1. Owing to the non-circular (preferably elliptical) cross-sectional configuration of the spreading pin, the slide members 9 and 10 are spread apart until the protruding lip portions 12 and 13 are displaced outwardly beyond the horizontal flange portions 5 and 6 of the support rail 4, thereby releasing the housing from the support rail as best shown in
Thus, it will be apparent that one major advantages presented by the present invention is that the slide members 9 and 10 may be separated by a separating pin 16 that is located at the end of the housing 1 remote from the support rail 4, whereby this engagement may be effected independently of the printed circuit boards 25 mounted within the slots 7.
While in accordance with the provisions of the Patent Statutes the preferred forms and embodiments of the invention have been illustrated and described, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that changes may be made without deviating from the invention described above.