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Publication numberUS20080054000 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/666,128
PCT numberPCT/IL2005/001112
Publication dateMar 6, 2008
Filing dateOct 26, 2005
Priority dateOct 25, 2004
Also published asWO2006046238A1
Publication number11666128, 666128, PCT/2005/1112, PCT/IL/2005/001112, PCT/IL/2005/01112, PCT/IL/5/001112, PCT/IL/5/01112, PCT/IL2005/001112, PCT/IL2005/01112, PCT/IL2005001112, PCT/IL200501112, PCT/IL5/001112, PCT/IL5/01112, PCT/IL5001112, PCT/IL501112, US 2008/0054000 A1, US 2008/054000 A1, US 20080054000 A1, US 20080054000A1, US 2008054000 A1, US 2008054000A1, US-A1-20080054000, US-A1-2008054000, US2008/0054000A1, US2008/054000A1, US20080054000 A1, US20080054000A1, US2008054000 A1, US2008054000A1
InventorsIlan Goldman
Original AssigneeIlan Goldman
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Protective cover
US 20080054000 A1
Abstract
The protective cover assembly comprises a mounting member (4) adapted for tight association with the actuation port and a protective cover unit (2). The protective cover unit is adapted for engagement with the mounting member in a manner such that protective cover unit covers the valve and blocks access thereto. Housed in the cover unit is locking mechanism that comprises a solenoid (62) for driving a locking unit (72) between a locking state in which the cover unit is locked to the mounting member and an unlocking state, in which the cover unit can disengage form the mounting member, and comprises an electronic controller linked thereto, the electronic controller being responsive to an external control signal to actuate the solenoid to drive said locking unit (64).
Images(6)
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Claims(15)
1-15. (canceled)
16. A protective cover assembly for controlling access to a function port, comprising a mounting member adapted for tight association with the actuation port and a protective cover unit; the protective cover unit being adapted for engagement with the mounting member in a manner such that said cover unit covers the function port and blocks access thereto; the protective cover unit houses a locking mechanism that comprises a solenoid for driving a locking unit between a locking state, in which the protective cover unit is locked to the mounting member and an unlocking state, in which the protective cover unit can disengage form the mounting member, and comprises an electronic controller linked thereto, the electronic controller being responsive to an external control signal to actuate the solenoid to drive said locking unit;
said protective cover unit comprises two or more pins projecting towards said mounting member, each of which has a pin head; the mounting member has corresponding two or more openings, each with a pin head receiving portion and an angularly displaced pin head engaging portion;
whereby in a first relative angular position of the protective cover unit and the mounting member, the pin heads can be inserted into said pin head receiving portions and upon angular rotation of the protective cover unit with respect to the mounting member the pin heads are angularly moved into the pin head receiving portions; said locking mechanism being adapted for locking said pin heads in said pin head engaging portions.
17. A protective cover assembly according to claim 16, wherein the mounting member is removably fitted onto the flow assembly.
18. A protective cover assembly according to claim 16, wherein the mounting member has an opening that fits on a neck of filling port or valve.
19. A protective cover assembly according to claim 18, wherein said member is constructed out of two or more units at least one of which has a recesses defining said opening.
20. A protective cover assembly according to any one of claim 16, wherein the protective cover unit has a skirt that extends over at least a portion of the mounting member.
21. A protective cover assembly according to any one of claim 16, wherein said pins have a stem with a first diameter and a head with a second, broader diameter; said pin head receiving portion having an opening of size adapted to receive said pin head and said pin head engaging portion has an opening of a size permitting the stem to pass there through but not the pin head and has a recess for receiving and engaging said pin head; the pins being axially biased such that once in the pin engaging portions the pin heads retract into said recesses; the locking unit being adapted, in said locking state of the locking mechanism to block the axial movement of the pins.
22. A protective cover assembly according to any one of claim 16, wherein the locking mechanism comprises a latch assembly preventing the axial displacement of the protective cover unit in the locked position of the solenoid.
23. A protective cover assembly according to claim 22, wherein said protective cover unit has a sliding cover accommodated within the protective cover unit that can slide axially within said protective cover unit and is biased away from the protective cover unit's top towards the mounting member, the sliding cover having an external face facing the mounting member and having a skirt portion for bearing against the mounting member, with the pins heads protruding through said sliding cover towards said mounting member; whereby relative axial sliding of said sliding cover away from the protective cover unit's top causes said pin head to retract into said recess once in said engaging portion.
24. A protective cover assembly according to claim 23, wherein the protective cover unit comprises a clutch pin having an annular groove, said pin being biased against the sliding cover's inner face and displaceable by the axial sliding movement of the sliding cover between a retracted and an extended position; the locking unit comprises a latch for engaging the annular groove in said locking state to lock said clutch pin is said extended position.
25. A protective cover assembly according to claim 16, wherein the controller is linked to a microphone for receiving an external coded vibration signal transmitted by an electronic key with impact impeller head.
26. A protective cover assembly according to claim 16, wherein electronic controller and the solenoid are accommodated in a sealed compartment of the protective cover unit.
27. A protective cover assembly according to claim 16, wherein the solenoid drive is bi-stable.
28. A protective cover unit for use in a protective cover assembly according to claim 16.
29. A mounting member for use in a protective cover assembly according to claim 16.
Description
FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to protective covers for control of access to a fluid valve, filling port, switch, etc.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Gas utility companies in many countries supply of propane or butane gas (referred to generically as LPG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG) to households by filling gas containers deployed at each residential building or home. The gas them flows out of the containers to points of consumption, through an egress valve and suitable flow arrangement. The gas containers are often deployed outside the buildings and the valves can thus be easily accessed by unauthorized people. One of the consequences is unauthorized filling, which leads to heavy losses for the utility company or gas theft.

Prevention of such unauthorized access to gas valves or gas filling ports is of course desirable. Expensive containment arrangements are impractical given the huge quantity of such gas containers and the inability, in most cases, to recover the heavy investment. Thus, a relatively inexpensive and reliable solution would be needed.

The problem of unauthorized access is not unique for gas valves or filling ports and is also an issue in the case of many other chemical or volatile substances.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a protective cover assembly for control of access to a fluid valve, filling port, switch, etc. Valves, filling ports, switches, etc., access to which can be protected in accordance with the invention will be referred to herein collectively as “function port”. The invention is applicable for locking and controlling access to filling ports of gas, noxious chemical substances, other volatile substances, high power electrical switches, etc. As will be explained further below, the protective cover assembly of the invention comprises a protective cover unit and a mounting member, the latter serving to firmly anchor or attach the protective cover assembly to a structure, unit, body, component, etc., that is associated with the function port and permits firm anchoring of the protective cover assembly. Such a structure, unit, body, component, etc., to be referred to herein as “function port associated body” may, for example, be the neck of a fluid filling port, pipe of a fluid flow system, a concrete wall on which the port is fixed, etc. The feature of such anchoring will be referred to herein as “tight association with the function port”. Us will be appreciated from the description below, the invention has a broad application and is not limited to a specific function port or the manner of achieving such tight association.

The protective cover assembly of the invention comprises a mounting member adapted for tight association with the actuation port and a protective cover unit. The protective cover unit is adapted for engagement with the mounting member in a manner such that protective cover unit covers the valve and blocks access thereto. Housed in the cover unit is locking mechanism that comprises a solenoid for driving a locking unit between a locking state in which the cover unit is locked to the mounting member and an unlocking state, in which the cover unit can disengage form the mounting member, and comprises an electronic controller linked thereto, the electronic controller being responsive to an external control signal to actuate the solenoid to drive said locking unit.

Also provided by the invention are a protective cover unit and also a mounting member, for use in the protective assembly of the invention.

One, particularly preferred application of the invention is in locking of and controlling access to fluid valves or fluid filling ports, such as valves or filling ports of LPG or LNG gas containers. However, as will be appreciated and as already noted above, the invention is applicable to a wide variety of different applications and is not limited to the currently preferred one.

In accordance with one embodiment of the invention, the mounting member is removably fitted onto a function port associated body. In accordance with another embodiment, the mounting member is integrally formed with the flow assembly.

According to one preferred embodiment, the protective cover assembly is intended for use in controlling access to fluid filling port. The mounting member in this case has typically an opening that fits on a neck of the filling port. Typically, said member is constructed out of two or more units at least one of which has a recesses defining said opening. Such construction out of two or more units serves for easy and removable fit onto the neck of the flow assembly. As will be appreciated, and as already noted above, it is also possible to form such a mounting member as an integral part of the filling port.

According to one embodiment of the invention, the protective cover unit has a skirt that extends over at least a portion of the mounting member. This serves for prevention of tempering with the cover assembly This feature may be of importance, in particular, in the case where the mounting member is constructed out of two or more units in which case the skirt will typically cover the screws, bolts or other connection mechanism used for connection the two or more units to one another.

According to another preferred embodiment, the controller is linked to a microphone for receiving an external coded vibration signal transmitted by an electronic key with impact impeller head. Such an access control actuation system that includes a receiver that is linked to a microphone and a key unit with an impeller head for impacting a coded series of impacts or knocks is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,411,195 to the same inventor, the content of which is incorporated herein by reference. The use of such a mode of access control actuation is preferred in cases of, for example, where the protective cover assembly is used for access control c)f a filling port or a valve of a volatile fluid, as there is no transmission of a potentially dangerous energy, as is the case with systems that make use of infrared (IR), radio frequency (RF) or other forms an energies for carrying the access control signal. However, as will be appreciated, use may also be made with other mechanism for transmitting an external control signal, including a variety of remote control mechanism making use of visible or IR light, RF or other electromagnetic radiation, etc. This will require adapting the electronic controller to the type of signaling, something which is within easy reach of a person versed in the art.

According to a further preferred embodiment, said protective cover unit comprises two or more pins, each of which has a pin head that project towards said mounting member. The mounting member has two or more corresponding openings, each with a pin head receiving portion and an angularly displaced pin head engaging portion. In a first relative angular position of the protective cover unit and the mounting member, with the two being in an axial alignment, once the protective cover unit is pushed towards the mounting member, the pin heads are inserted into the pin head receiving portions and upon angular rotation of the protective cover unit with respect to the mounting member the pin heads are angularly moved into the pin head engaging portions. The locking mechanism is then actuated into a locking state, locking said pin heads in said pin head engaging portions.

Said pins typically have a stem with a first diameter and a head with a second, broader diameter. The pin head receiving portion has an opening of size so that it can receive said pin head. The pin head engaging portion has an opening of a size that permits the stem to pass therethrough but not the pin head. The pin head also has a recess for receiving and engaging said pin head. The pins are axially biased, through a biasing mechanism within the protective over unit, such that once in the pin head engaging portions, the pin heads can retract by the biasing force, in an axial direction away from the mounting member into said recesses. The locking unit, in a locking state of the locking mechanism, blocks the axial movement of the pins. The locking mechanism has typically a latch assembly preventing the axial displacement of the protective cover unit in the locked position of the solenoid.

By one embodiment, the pin biasing mechanism makes use of a sliding inner cover accommodated within the protective cover unit that can slide axially within said protective cover unit and is biased away from the protective cover unit's top towards the mounting member. The sliding cover has an external face that faces the mounting member and has a skirt portion that bears against the mounting member. The pins heads protrude through the sliding cover towards said mounting member, such that relative axial sliding of the sliding cover away from the protective cover unit's top causes the pin head to retract into said recess once in said engaging portion.

By one embodiment, the protective cover unit comprises a clutch pin having an annular groove and that is biased against the sliding cover's inner face. The clutch pin is displaceable by the axial sliding movement of the sliding cover between a retracted and an extended position. The locking unit of the locking mechanism comprises a latch that can engage the annular groove in the locking state of the locking mechanism to lock said clutch pin is said extended position.

Preferably, the solenoid drive is bi-stable, whereby the solenoid-driven locking mechanism can stably exits in either a locking or a non-locking state.

The electronic controller, the solenoid and a power supply battery, are preferably accommodated in a sealed compartment of the protective cover unit, protected from contact with the gas, oil, water or dirt. By one embodiment, the protective cover unit accommodates a barrier member that seals these components from the environment. This feature is important in order to ensure durability. Further, where the protective cover assembly is intended for use in controlling access to valves or filling ports of volatile fluids, sealing of these electrical components from the environment increases safety.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In order to understand the invention and to see how it may be carried out in practice, a currently preferred embodiment will now be described, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is an exploded view of a gas port protective cover assembly according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2A and FIG. 2B are, respectively, horizontal and longitudinal cross-sections of the protective cover assembly of FIG. 1, mounted on the neck of a gas container, in an unlocked state of the assembly.

FIG. 3A and FIG. 3B are, respectively, horizontal and longitudinal cross-sections similar to those of FIGS. 2A and 2B, in a locked state of the assembly.

FIG. 4A and FIG. 4B are, respectively, a bottom and a longitudinal cross-sectional view of the inner cover of the protective cover assembly of FIG. 1.

FIG. 5A and FIG. 5B are, respectively, a bottom and a longitudinal cross-sectional view of the sliding cover of the protective cover unit of the assembly of FIG. 1.

FIG. 6A shows a mounting member fitted on the neck of a gas filling port; also shown is the filling port closure cap.

FIG. 6B shows the mounting member disengaged from the neck of the filling port and seen from the opposite side than that seen in FIG. 6A.

FIG. 7 shows a bottom view of the protective cover unit.

FIG. 8 shows the bayonet-lock engagement of the protective cover unit to the mounting member (shown here, for ease of illustration, disengaged from the filling port neck).

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF SPECIFIC EMBODIMENT

In the following description, the invention will be illustrated through a description of a non-limiting, albeit currently preferred, specific embodiment. This specific embodiment relates to a protective cover assembly for controlling access to a gas filling port. As will be appreciated, as already pointed out above, the invention is not limited to this specific application and the invention is applicable to a variety of other applications as noted above. A person versed in the art should be able to make the necessary design modification for adapting the invention to other applications.

In the following description, when not otherwise indicated, reference will be made simultaneously to all Figures.

The gas lock assembly, as can be seen in particular in FIGS. 1, 3B and 4B, comprises two main parts: a protective cover unit 2 and mounting member 4, both of which have a general axial symmetry. The protective cover unit 2 comprises a housing 10 with a skirt 11, an inner cover 12 and a sliding cover 14 having a skirt portion 15. The housing accommodates three integral metal pins 16 with heads 18 and a stem 20, the head having a wider diameter than the stem. The pins have a screw-threaded bottom 21 for screw engagement within housing 10.

Inner cover 12 is fitted into housing 10, fixed by screws 21 and together with a seal ring 22, forms a sealed compartment 24 within the protective cover unit 2, defined between the upper face of inner cover 12 and the inner face of housing 10 (see FIGS. 2B and 3B). Pins 16 pass through openings 26 in the inner cover 12, the opening being sealed by small O-rings 28.

The sliding cover 14 fits within the inner cover 12 and is adapted to slide axially guided by two sliding guides 30. Sliding guides 30 are urged by springs 32 to protrude out of the essentially rectangular openings 34 (see FIG. 4A) in the inner cover and are fixed to sliding cover 14 by screws 36, the head of which is covered by screw head covers 38. A seal is maintained through sealing O-rings 31.

The protective cover unit 2 further comprises a clutch pin 40 with an external annular groove 42. The pin 40 is urged by a spring 44 in the direction towards the mounting member 4, having a head section 46 that protrudes through disk 48 out of opening 50 in inner cover 12 (see FIG. 4A), the opening being sealed by O-ring 52, and abuts the inner surfaces of the sliding cover 14.

Housed within the sealed compartment 24 is an electronic controller 60, a bi-stable solenoid 62 and a battery 64. The controller 60 has a signal receiver and decoding microprocessor that is adapted to receive an external signal carrying an external access code, to compare it to a programmed access code, and to actuate the solenoid 62. In a preferred embodiment the electronic controller has a microphone 66 for receiving an external coded vibration signal transmitted by an electronic key with impact impeller head, of a kind described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,411,195 to the same inventor, the content of which is incorporated herein by reference.

A transversely movable latch 70 is adapted to engage the annual groove 42 (see FIG. 3B) so as to prevent or allow its axial movement. Solenoid 62 has an anchor 72 connected to the latch 70 so as to move the latter, engaging or releasing the clutch pin 40.

The mounting member 4 is, in this embodiment, a disc-shaped plate, with a generally rectangular central opening 80 and is constructed out of two parts 82 and 84 connected by screws 86. As is seen in the view of FIG. 6A, the mounting member plate 4 is tightly mounted on a standard gas filling port 89 and is arrested from detachment by the wider opening 90. Opening 90 can be sealed by closure cap 92.

The mounting member 4, as can be seen in FIGS. 6A and 6B, which may be made of metal or plastic, has three openings 102, each comprising a wider bore 104 and angularly oriented narrower channel 106. Bore 104 has a diameter that permits pin head 18 to pass through. The width of channel 106 is such so as to allow stem 20 to pass therethrough but not the pin head 18. The distal end of the channel 106 has a stepped recess 108 (see FIG. 6B) of the same diameter of bore 104 and is thus adapted to receive the pin head 18, which once in the recess 108 is arrested from axial movement in the direction toward the protective cover unit 2 by shoulders 110. Thus, the protective cover unit 2 and the mounting member plate 4 constitute a bayonet lock which can be locked by axial insertion of the pins 16 into bores 104 of the mounting member 4, then turning the protective cover unit 2 by about 20°, the stems 20 of the pins 16 thus sliding in channels 106. As shown in FIG. 8, at the end of this turn, the pin heads 18 sinks into the recesses 108 urged by the springs 32, as will be further illustrated below with particular reference to FIGS. 2A-3B.

In FIGS. 3A and 3B, the bayonet lock between the protective cover unit 2 and the mounting member plate 4 is shown in the closed and locked state, with the bolt head 18 sunken in the recess 108, resting against the recess's shoulders 110. When in this position, axial rotation of the protective cover unit with respect to the mounting member is impaired (see also FIG. 9). In this state, the head 46 of clutch pin 40 protrudes from the inner cover 12 and is locked in this position by the latch 70 that engages the annual groove 42 of clutch pin 40. As in this state the head 46 of pin 40 abuts the sliding cover 14, the skirt portion 15 of which bears on mounting member plate 4, the housing 10 with pins 16 cannot be axially displaced.

Upon receiving a correct access code, the controller 60 actuates the solenoid 62 to push the latch 70 and disengage the groove 42, as seen in FIGS. 2A and 2B. As long as not receiving another actuating signal, the bi-stable solenoid remains in this position. Once disengaged as aforementioned, the housing 10 can now be pushed in the direction of the mounting member plate 4, and since skirt 15 of inner cover 14 continues to bear against mounting member 4, this axial displacement, represented by the downwards arrow in FIG. 2B, causes the head 18 to pop out of the recess 108. The protective cover unit 2 can now be turned so that the pins 16 slide towards the bores 104 and once there the protective cover unit 2 can be detached axially from the mounting member 4. The gas port can now be freely accessed.

To lock the gas port, the protective cover unit 2 is brought into engagement with the mounting member plate 4 with pins 16 aligned with the bores 104, pushed axially and turned. When the bolt heads 18 reach recesses 108 and the user withdraws its pushing hand, the springs 32 push against the sliding cover 14, the skirt portion 15 of which bears against mounting member 4, whereby the protective cover unit with the pins is pushed away from the mounting member plate 4 and the bolt heads 18 sink into the recesses 108. Now a locking coded signal received by the controller 26 will actuate the solenoid 62 to pull the latch 70 back and engage the annular groove 42 of clutch pin 40, thereby locking the gas valve lock.

As seen in FIG. 8, in the locked state the skirt 11 of protective cover unit 10, extends over the mounting member thus blocking access to screws 86 (not seen in this figure).

It will be appreciated that the controller receiver and the signal transmission may be implemented in a number of other ways known in the art, for example by radio waves, infrared or visible light. Also the bayonet lock may be implemented in different ways, for example with radial lugs or lugs fixed to the mounting plate while profiled cuts (bores) may be in the protective cover unit.

The valve lock assembly of the invention is relatively easy for mounting, relatively compact, and yet very robust and resistant to tempering.

The above described gas valve lock may be used with slight modifications for locking any valved container for liquids, gases, powders or other flowable materials.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7628377 *Dec 14, 2005Dec 8, 2009Curtis Michael DoanOperator assist device for vehicular air brake actuation
US8281961 *May 25, 2007Oct 9, 2012Advanced Scientifics, Inc.Device and method for accessing fluid in container
Classifications
U.S. Classification220/360
International ClassificationB65D51/16
Cooperative ClassificationF16K35/16, F16K35/10
European ClassificationF16K35/10, F16K35/16
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jun 25, 2007ASAssignment
Owner name: E-LOCK TECHNOLOGIES LTD., CHINA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:GOLDMAN, ILAN;REEL/FRAME:019475/0266
Effective date: 20070413