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Publication numberUS20100050331 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 12/231,009
Publication dateMar 4, 2010
Filing dateAug 28, 2008
Priority dateAug 28, 2008
Also published asWO2010025243A2, WO2010025243A3
Publication number12231009, 231009, US 2010/0050331 A1, US 2010/050331 A1, US 20100050331 A1, US 20100050331A1, US 2010050331 A1, US 2010050331A1, US-A1-20100050331, US-A1-2010050331, US2010/0050331A1, US2010/050331A1, US20100050331 A1, US20100050331A1, US2010050331 A1, US2010050331A1
InventorsJae Auk Sim
Original AssigneeJae Auk Sim
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
System and method for flushing a toilet
US 20100050331 A1
Abstract
A system and method is provided for flushing a toilet wherein the duration of the flush, and thus the amount of water used, is selectable by a user. In an embodiment, the system includes a controller and a non-buoyant flush valve that are coupled together via a linkage. The controller opens the flush valve for a time period set by a user. Once the time period has lapsed, the flush valve is closed.
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Claims(20)
1. A system comprising:
a toilet bowl;
a toilet tank attached to the toilet bowl so that when a toilet flush occurs, the flush water from the tank drains into the toilet bowel, the tank comprising a bottom surface having a tank drain that includes a valve seat, a flush valve removably mounted on the valve seat made of a resilient material and having a hollow interior with an opening therethrough and having on its upper end an attachment point, and a weight inserted loosely into the flush valve opening where the weight modifies the flush valve so its combined weight exceeds the specific gravity of water to make the valve non-buoyant, wherein the weight is sized to allow a clearance between the circumferential perimeter of the weight and the inner surface of the flush valve so that the flush valve remains resilient near its lower perimeter to allow the valve to conform to and seal against the contour of the valve seat when the valve is in its seated position;
a controller attached to the toilet tank to select a period of time to open the flush valve;
a linkage coupled to the controller and the flush valve; and,
wherein the controller automatically releases the linkage to close the flush valve once the period of time has lapsed.
2. The system of claim 1, the controller comprising a housing.
3. The system of claim 2, the controller housing containing a mechanical timer.
4. The system of claim 1, the controller comprising a knob.
5. The system of claim 1, the controller comprising a spring.
6. The system of claim 1, the controller comprising a pulley.
7. The system of claim 1, the controller comprising a touchpad.
8. A system comprising:
a toilet bowl;
a toilet water tank attached to the toilet bowl so that when a toilet flush occurs, the flush water from the tank drains into the toilet bowl, the tank comprising a bottom surface having a tank drain that includes a valve seat, a modified flush valve removably mounted on the valve seat made of a resilient material and having a hollow interior with an opening therethrough and having on its upper end an attachment point operatively connected to the flush handle, and a weight inserted loosely into the flush valve opening and having a radial slot that facilitates the insertion of the weight into the opening where the weight modified the flush valve so its combined weight exceeds the specific gravity of water to make the valve non-buoyant.
a controller attached to the toilet tank to select a period of time to open the flush valve;
a linkage coupled to the controller and the flush valve; and,
wherein the controller automatically releases the linkage to close the flush valve once the period of time has lapsed.
9. The system of claim 8, the controller comprising a housing.
10. The system of claim 9, the controller housing containing a mechanical timer.
11. The system of claim 8, the controller comprising a knob.
12. The system of claim 8, the controller comprising a spring.
13. The system of claim 8, the controller comprising a pulley.
14. The system of claim 8, the controller comprising a touchpad.
15. A method of modifying a toilet flushing system to allow the quantity of water available in a toilet water tank for a toilet flush to be selected by a user, where said system incorporates a standard flush valve having an opening on one end, the method comprising the steps of:
removing the existing said flush valve from the toilet water tank;
obtaining a weight sized to loosely fit inside the flush valve;
inserting the weight through the opening in the flush valve;
reinstalling the flush valve in the toilet tank.
attaching a controller to the toilet tank;
coupling a linkage to the flush valve from the controller;
selecting a period of time to open the flush valve; and,
automatically releasing the linkage to close the flush valve once the period of time has lapsed.
16. The method of claim 15, the controller comprising a housing.
17. The method of claim 15, the controller comprising a knob.
18. The method of claim 15, the controller comprising a spring.
19. The method of claim 15, the controller comprising a pulley.
20. The method of claim 15, the controller comprising a touchpad.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

None.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention pertains to toilet flushing systems and methods, and more particularly to a system and method that allows the user to select the quantity of water used for flushing the toilet.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Turning to FIG. 1, and as stated in U.S. Pat. No. 5,129,110 to Richter, incorporated herein by reference, most toilets used today consist of two main parts; an upper part which holds water, referred to as a tank section 112, and a lower part consisting primarily of a bowl 114 with a volume of water which is designed to receive human waste products. Once the waste products have been deposited in the bowl, they are removed by releasing the water held in the upper tank section into the bowl. The released water removes the waste products to a collection system, such as a sewer system or a septic tank, and then refills the bowl so that there remains standing a volume of water. Waste products consist of solid and liquid wastes and in presently available toilets, one full flush is utilized to carry away both solid and liquid wastes, even when there is only liquid waste in the toilet bowl. In these standard toilets, a full complete flush is effected with each flush and the total contents of the water in the tank section is drained into the bowl and then out into the sewer system.

It is a well known fact that the largest use of water in most households and in many office buildings is for flushing toilets. Because flushing is carried out with the full capacity of the water in the water tank, the water usage is wasteful and is not required. In particular, conventional toilet tanks are designed to hold from three to eight gallons of water. In a family of four, it has been estimated that 20,000 gallons of fresh water could be saved yearly if the average flush were limited to between 2 and 2.5 gallons per flush.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A system and method is provided for flushing a toilet wherein the duration of the flush, and thus the amount of water used, is selectable by a user. Desirably, but not necessarily, the system and method is easy to install, universally adaptable to preexisting toilets, and uses a dial to allow a user to select the duration and thus the amount of water used in flushing a toliet.

In an embodiment, the system includes a controller and a non-buoyant flush valve that are coupled together via a linkage. The controller opens the flush valve for a time period set by a user wherein, once the time period has lapsed, the flush valve is automatically closed.

In yet another embodiment, a system is provided comprising a toilet bowl and a toilet tank attached to the toilet bowl so that when a toilet flush occurs, water from the tank drains into the toilet bowel. The tank includes a bottom surface having a tank drain comprising a valve seat and a flush valve removably mounted on the valve seat. The flush valve is made of a resilient material and has a hollow interior with an opening therethrough and an attachment point on its upper end. Loosely inserted into the interior of the flush valve is a weight that modifies the flush valve so its combined weight exceeds the specific gravity of water to make the valve non-buoyant. The weight is sized to allow a clearance between the circumferential perimeter of the weight and the inner surface of the flush valve so that the flush valve remains resilient near its lower perimeter to allow the valve to conform to and seal against the contour of the valve seat when the valve is in its seated or closed position. Also attached to the toilet tank is a controller for selecting a period of time to open the flush valve. Coupled to the controller and the flush valve is a linkage that is automatically released by the controller to close the flush valve once the period of time has lapsed.

In a further embodiment a system is provided comprising a toilet water tank attached to a toilet bowl so that when a toilet flush occurs, the water from the tank drains into the toilet bowl. The tank includes a bottom surface having a tank drain that includes a valve seat and a modified flush valve removably mounted on the valve seat. The flush valve is made of a resilient material and has a hollow interior with an opening therethrough and an attachment point on its upper end. Loosely inserted into the interior of the flush valve is a weight to modify the flush valve so the combined weight exceeds the specific gravity of water to make the valve non-buoyant. Also attached to the toilet tank is a controller for selecting a period of time to open the flush valve. Coupled to the controller and the flush valve is a linkage that is automatically released to close the flush valve once the period of time has lapsed.

In another embodiment, a method is provided for modifying a toilet flushing system to allow the quantity of water available in a toilet water tank for flushing a toilet to be selected by a user. The method includes removing the preexisting flush valve from the toilet water tank and obtaining a weight sized to loosely fit inside the flush valve. The weight is inserted through the opening in the flush valve and the flush valve is reinstalled in the toilet tank. Further, a controller is attached the toilet tank and coupled, via a linkage to the flush valve. Whereupon a period of time to open the flush valve can be selected and the linkage is automatically released by the controller to close the flush valve once the period of time has lapsed.

Other embodiments, systems, methods, features, and advantages of the present invention will be, or will become, apparent to one having ordinary skill in the art upon examination of the following drawings and detailed description. It is intended that all such additional systems, methods, features, and advantages be within the scope of the present invention, and can be protected by the accompanying claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention may be better understood with reference to the following drawings. The components in the drawings are not necessarily to scale, emphasis instead being placed upon illustrating the principles of the invention. In the drawings, like reference numbers designate corresponding parts throughout.

FIG. 1 (Prior Art) is an elevation view in partial section of a conventional toilet flushing system;

FIG. 2 is an elevation view in partial section of a toilet flushing system in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 2A is an elevation view in partial section of another embodiment of a toilet flushing system in accordance with the present invention, similar to FIG. 2, wherein the linkage guide assembly is positioned to direct the linkage at an acute angle between the flush controller and the flush valve;

FIG. 2B is an elevation view in partial section of another embodiment of a toilet flushing system in accordance with the present invention, similar to FIG. 2, wherein the linkage guide assembly is position to direct the linkage at an obtuse angle between the flush controller and the flush valve;

FIG. 3 is a plan view of a weight as used with the flush valve in the system of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is an elevation view of the weight shown in FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a top plan view of a modified flush valve;

FIG. 6 is an elevation view in partial section showing the placement of the weight in the modified flush valve;

FIG. 7 is a sequential plan view illustration how the weight is installed through the opening of the flush valve;

FIG. 8 is a top partial diagrammatic plan view of a flush controller in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 9 is a side elevation view, with part broken away, depicting a spring installed within the flush controller of FIG. 8;

FIG. 10 is an exploded perspective view of a portion of the flush controller of FIG. 8;

FIG. 11 is a front elevation view of the user control to the flush controller of FIG. 8;

FIG. 12 is a top partial diagrammatic plan view of an alternative embodiment of a flush controller in accordance with the present invention;;

FIG. 13 is a support member for the linkage between the flush controller of FIG. 8 or 12 and the flush valve of FIG. 5;

FIG. 13A is an alternative embodiment of a support member for the linkage between the flush controller and the flush valve of FIG. 2B;

FIG. 14 is a simplified functional block diagram of an electronic flush controller in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 15 is an elevation view of an embodiment of a touchpad user control in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 16 is an elevation view in partial section of another embodiment of a toilet flushing system in accordance with the present invention, similar to FIG. 2, wherein the linkage between the flush valve and the flush controller is a chain and a rod coupled together; and,

FIG. 17 is a side elevation view of a tubular guide for the linkage between the flush controller and the flush valve.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The following descriptions of detailed embodiments are for exemplifying the principles and advantages of the inventions claimed herein. They are not to be taken in any way as limitations on the scope of the inventions.

In an embodiment in accordance with the present invention, a selectable toilet water level flushing system is provided to allow a toilet user to select the quantity of water used for a toilet flush. The selected quantity of water is dependent upon the type of waste to be disposed; for liquid waste, a partial flush is recommended while for solid waste, a full flush would be used. The quantity of water available for the toilet flush is controlled by the user selecting a time duration for a toilet flush.

Accordingly, turning to FIG. 2, a system 210 is depicted in accordance with the present invention. The system includes a modified flush valve 216 that can consist of a modified flapper valve 118. The flush valve 216 operates in combination with a conventional toilet assembly that includes a toilet tank 112 and a toilet bowl 114 having a bowl drain 120 on its upper surface. The tank 112 includes on its bottom surface 122 a tank drain 124 that has an upwardly extending valve seat 126. Attached to the tank 112 is a flush controller 228 that is connected via a mechanical linkage 230 to an attachment point 132 on the top of the flush valve 216. The flush controller 228 allows manual control of the flush valve position and the duration (i.e., amount of time) that the flush valve is in an open position before being automatically closed. The tank 112 is attached to the bowl 114 by interfacing the bowl drain 120 with the tank drain 124. Thus, when a toilet flush occurs, the water in the tank flows into the toilet bowel 114, from where the water is routed into a sewer system or septic tank.

An aspect of the invention is the replacement of a normally buoyant flush valve 116 with a flush valve 216 that is not buoyant. In an embodiment, the nonbuoyant flush valve can be manufactured with a preinstalled weight contained or enclosed within the rubber or compliant flush valve. Alternatively, in another embodiment, the system 210 operates with the modified flapper valve 118 as shown in FIGS. 1, 5, 6 and 7.

The modified flush valve 216 is made of a resilient material, such as rubber and has a hollow interior 134. On the upper surface of the valve is located an attachment point 132 that attaches to the flush controller 228 via the mechanical linkage 230 and on its bottom surface as shown in FIG. 6, is located an opening 136. To modify the flapper valve 118, a weight 238 as shown in FIGS. 3 and 4 is inserted through the opening 136 and into the hollow interior 134 of the valve as shown in FIGS. 6 and 7. As shown in the FIGS., the weight 238 is smaller than the inside of the valve and fits loosely within the valve interior. Thus, allowing a space 240 to be created between the circumferential perimeter of the weight and the inner surface of the valve. This space 240 allows the valve to remain resilient near its lower perimeter so that the valve can conform 242 and seal against the contour of the valve seat 126 when the valve is in its seated (i.e., closed) position. If such conformance is not present, the valve will not seat and seal properly against the valve seat causing leakage.

The weight 238 inserted into the flapper valve 118 is shaped to approximate the general interior shape of the valve. In an embodiment, a radial slot 244 is cut into the weight. The slot extends approximately midway into the weight and may have an approximate width of 0.1875 inches. The slot facilitates the insertion of the weight into the valve opening as described further herein.

The weight can be made of any material that has a specific gravity greater than water. Lead which has a specific gravity of 11.3 can be used. However, zinc with a specific gravity of 7.1 or irons with specific gravities between 7.0 to 7.9 can also be used.

The flush valve 118 can be modified by following the steps of FIG. 7. In particular, 1) the flush valve from the existing system is removed from the toilet water tank 112; 2) the flush valve is held so the flush valve opening 136 is facing upwardly; 3) the radial slot 244 of the weight 238 is inserted into the edge of the opening 136; the weight is pressed and manipulated until the weight falls into the opening with the concave surface of the weight facing the lower surface of the valve; 4) and, the modified flush valve is installed in the toilet tank.

Turning to FIG. 8, a top partial diagrammatic plan view of a flush controller in accordance with the present invention is depicted. The flush controller 228 includes a housing 350, a control knob 352, a drive or timer mechanism 354, and a pulley 356.

The drive or timer mechanism 354 can include conventional design elements for facilitating the automatic release of a cable or chain after a specified period of time. For instance, the timer can include, at least in part, the device disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,469,197 to Minour, incorporated herein by reference. As such, the timer mechanism can include a spring 358 that is installed within a circular recess 360 formed in a frame 362 which is assembled within another frame 364 by snap engagement with each other.

Reference numeral 366 of FIGS. 8, 9 and 10 indicates a shaft wherein the knob 352 and pulley 356 are mounted on opposite ends of the shaft. Also mounted on the shaft 366 is a gear 368, and between the gear 368 and a pinion 370 mounted on a shaft 372 inserted through the frames 362 and 364 there is disposed a gear mechanism 374 for connecting the gear 368 with the pinion 370.

Although a single shaft 366 is depicted wherein knob 352 and pulley 356 are connected to opposite ends thereof, it will be appreciated by those having ordinary skill in the art that the controller can be designed so the knob and pulley are mounted on different shafts that are operatively connected together to perform the desired operation as described herein.

The circular recess 360 is provided with a guide slit 376 through which can be wound the spring, and the shaft 366 with a pointed or rounded head 366 a is inserted through holes 378, 378′ of the frames 362, 364 to hold the spring 358.

Gear 368 is provided on its rear side with a spring engaging slit 380 formed by a pair of opposing projections 382, 382′.

On the inner peripheral surface of the circular recess 360 there is formed a plurality of small recesses 384 spaced from each other for receiving the curved rear portion 358 a of the spring 358.

Furthermore, in the drawing 386 a through 386 e show each of the gears of the gear mechanism 374; 388, 390 and 392 and their support shafts, respectively; 368′ is a gear formed integrally with the gear 368 which is to be engaged with the gear 386 e.

In addition, 394 is a cover applied to the frame 362; 396 are snaps provided on the frame 364 and to be inserted into the recesses 398 of the cover 394 and engage with respective engaging portions 351.

The frame 362 is formed with wall faces 353 a, 353 b and 353 c of split circular shape for receiving the gears 374 a, 374 b, 374 c, 374 d and 374 e, so that at the time of assembly the gears 368, 370 and gear mechanism 374 can be held without the shafts 377 and 372.

Numeral 355 denotes an insertion hole for the shaft 372; 357 an insertion slot for the support shaft 388; 359 an insertion hole for the support shaft 390′; 361 is an insertion slot for the support shaft 392; 363 are pins which project from the frame 362 and which are to be inserted into the holes 365 of the cover 394 as well as the holes 367 of the frame 364.

Numeral 369 is a guide slit for the spring 358 formed in the frame 362.

In an embodiment, the gear 368, pinion 370 and the gear mechanism 386 are assembled together in the frame 362 and, after the cover 394 has been applied thereto, the frame 364 is assembled to the frame 362 by snap engagement; and after the shaft 372 has been inserted through the hole 355 into the hole 370 a of the pinion 370 the pointed head of the spring 358 is inserted through the guide slit 369 formed in the frame 362 and further through the guide slit 376 formed in the circular recess 360, into the slit 380 between the projections 382 and 382′ provided in the gear 368 (FIG. 10), and thereafter, the shaft 366 for fastening the spring is inserted through the hole 378′ of the frame 364 into the hole 368 a of the gear 368 whereby the shaft 366 with its pointed head 366 a will proceed pushing its way through the layers of the leaf spring 358 wherein a portion of the spring 358 will press itself against the shaft 366 and when inserted furthermore the shaft 366 will reach the hole 378 of the frame 362.

The shaft 366 is then pressed through an aperture extending through the central axis of pulley 356. Accordingly, rotation of the shaft 366 results in like rotation of the pulley 356.

In an embodiment, the controller housing 350 is made of plastic, metal, or a metal alloy and is generally cylindrical with a cavity 371 for containing the timer 354. The housing 350 includes a planar front surface 373 that, as shown in FIG. 11, has indicia 375 a-375 d printed thereon to indicate a desired flush time or duration.

Like the housing 350, the control knob 352 is generally cylindrical and can be made of plastic, metal or a metal alloy. The knob 352 has a planar front surface 377 having indicia 379 thereon to show the currently selected flush time or duration.

The knob 352 is mounted on the distal end of the shaft 366 about the front 373 of the housing 350 and is in coaxial alignment with the shaft, the housing 350 and the pulley 356. Accordingly, rotation of the knob 352 results in like rotation of the pulley 356 and thus retracts or releases the cable 382 attached to the pulley.

Directly or indirectly attached to the controller housing 350 is a threaded metal or metal allow rod 379 having a cylindrical passage 381 passing therethrough. In an embodiment, the shaft 366 of the controller extends through the passage 381 in the rod 379.

The controller 228 can be attached to the tank 112 of a toilet by removing the pre-existing handle assembly 128, if present. The threaded rod 379 of the controller can then be inserted into the aperture in the tank that was previously occupied, in part, by the handle assembly 128. A plastic bolt or the like can be threaded onto the rod 379 to secure the controller 228 to the tank 112. Then, the pulley 356 can be pressed onto the end of the shaft 366 within the tank 112.

The mechanical linkage 230 between the flush controller 228 and the flush valve 216 can be provided by attaching the cable 383 to a preexisting chain 131 attached to the flush valve 216. Alternatively, the cable 383 can be attached directly to the flush valve 216. Thus, omitting the chain.

Turning to FIG. 12, in an alternative embodiment, the pulley 356 can be located in the cavity of the controller housing 350. Moreover, the cable 382 can pass through one or more tubular guides 385 wherein one of the guides passes through the threaded attachment rod 379. Accordingly, the guides provided for directing the cable from the pulley 356 to the inside of the toilet tank 112 when the controller is mounted onto the toilet tank.

Turning to FIG. 17, the tubular guide 385 extending inside of the toilet tank from the controller of FIG. 12 can have a plurality of apertures for allowing the cable 383 to pass therefrom. Preferably, the guide 385 is constructed in a conventional manner to allow the guide to bend horizontally, but not vertically. For instance, the guide 385 can be made of copper and contain a plurality of chain linkages attached together such as those used on conventional bike chains. In an embodiment, the guide can pass over the flush valve 216 with the cable 383 extending from the guide to the flush valve. Thus, in this embodiment, the guide assembly 387 can be omitted because it is not needed.

Turning to FIG. 13, a guide rod assembly 387 is provided. The assembly 387 is constructed of a pair of plastic tubular members 389 and 391 in longitudinal coaxial alignment with each other. Preferably, a portion of tubular member 389 is received within the cavity of tubular member 391.

A coil spring 393 is mounted in the cavity of tubular member 391 wherein the spring is compressed as the tubular members 389,391 are pressed together. Accordingly, the length of the guide assembly 387 is adjustable to fit within toilet tanks of various widths. Furthermore, the spring 393 provides for securing installing the assembly 387 in a toilet tank 112 by pressing the ends of the assembly against the inner walls of the tank. In an embodiment, rubber disks 337 can be glued to the ends of the assembly 387 to prevent the assembly from slipping inside the tank.

Preferably, ears 395 and 397 outwardly extend from the distal ends of the tubular members 389 and 391, respectively. Preferably, when the assembly 387 is mounted in a toilet tank, the ears 395,397 rest on the top of the tank 112 to prevent the assembly from being pulled into the tank 395,397 when opening the flush valve.

In an embodiment, one or more grooves 399 can be formed on the outer surface of the tubular members 389 and 391. Turning to FIG. 2, the groove receives, and thus guides, the cable 383 at generally a right angle from the flush controller 228 to a chain 131 attached to the flush valve 216. Accordingly, more than one groove can be provided on the outer surface of the guide assembly 387 to accommodate toilet tanks of various widths. Moreover, in alternative embodiments depicted in FIGS. 2A and 2B, the guide assembly 387 can be positioned to guide the cable 383 from the flush controller 228 to the flush valve 217 at an acute angle or an obtuse angle, respectively.

Turning to FIG. 13A, an alternative embodiment is depicted of a support member for the linkage between the flush controller and the flush valve of FIG. 2B. In particular, the ears 395,397 of the guide assembly are spaced from the tubular members 389,391 by integral spacer arms 339. Thus, the tubular members 389,391 of the guide assembly are positioned further from the top of the tank 112 than that of FIG. 2.

Also, in the guide assembly of FIG. 13A, the groove 399 (FIG. 13) on the outside of tubular member 391 has been omitted and replaced by integral nodules 335 having apertures 333 passing therethrough. In an embodiment, the cable 383 from the flush controller 228 is threaded through an aperture 333 in one of the nodules 335 to guide the cable from the flush controller to the chain 131 attached to the flush valve 216.

To operate the system, a user twists the knob 353 on the flush controller 228 to a desired marked location on the controller housing 373. As a result of the user twisting the knob 353, the pulley rotates to retract the cable 383 and thus open the flush valve 216.

When the user releases the knob 353, the timer assembly 354 automatically (i.e., without human intervention) allows the pulley to slowly rotate in the opposite direction to release the cable 383 and thus close the flush valve 216. In particular, the rate of rotation of the pulley, and thus release rate of the cable 383, is determined at least in part by the tension of the spring and the gearing ratio used within the timer 354, which are directly or indirectly attached to the pulley shaft 366. Moreover, because the flush valve is non-buoyant, the valve immediately begins to close as the cable is released.

Accordingly, when a short duration flush is desired, then the user can twist the knob 353 by a small amount. In contrast, when a long flush is desired, then user can twist the knob by a greater amount which, in turn, will result in a longer time (i.e., duration) until the valve is closed.

As will be appreciated by those having ordinary skill in the art, a spring may not be needed in the timing assembly of the controller 228. Instead, in an embodiment, the weight of the non-buoyant flush valve and the gearing ratio used within the timer assembly 354 will cause the flush valve 216 to close at a desired rate.

As will also be appreciated by those having ordinary skill in the art, the cable 383, pulley 356 and guide assembly 384 can be replaced by a single arm or rod 1483 as depicted in FIG. 16. In this embodiment, the rod 1483 can be construed of plastic, metal or a metal alloy. One end of the rod can be attached in a conventional manner to the chain 131 extending from the flush valve 216. Moreover, the opposite end of the rod 1483 can be attached to the shaft 366 extending from the controller 228. Thus, the mechanical linkage 230 between the flush controller 228 and the flush valve 216 is provided by the rod 1483 and the attached chain 131.

Accordingly, rotation of the controller shaft 366 in one direction causes the flush valve 216 to open, and rotation of the controller shaft in the opposite direction allows the flush valve to close.

Turning to FIG. 11, in an embodiment, by counterclockwise twisting the knob 353 so indicator 379 points to zone 375 a, a flush duration of about 3 seconds is provided. Likewise, by counterclockwise twisting the knob 353 so indicator 379 points to zone 375 b, a flush duration of about 4 seconds is provided. Moreover, by counterclockwise twisting the knob 353 so indicator 379 points to zone 375 c, a flush duration of about 5 seconds is provided. Further, by counterclockwise twisting the knob 353 so indicator 379 points to zone 375 d a flush duration of about 6 seconds is provided.

Turning to FIG. 14, a simplified functional block diagram is provided of an electronic flush controller 410 in accordance with the present invention. The controller 410 includes a battery 423, a touchpad 425, a microcontroller 427 and a solenoid 429.

The battery 423 provides power for the controller 410 and can consist of one or more conventional household batteries. Accordingly, the battery 423 may be directly or indirectly operatively connected to the touchpad 425, microcontroller 427 and solenoid 429 for providing power to these functional blocks of the controller.

The solenoid 429 is a conventional electromechanical device and provides for retracting and releasing the flush valve 216 upon receiving one or more electrical commands from the microcontroller 427. Thus, the solenoid can be directly or indirectly attached to the cable 383 via a pulley or other mechanical linkage.

As indicated previously, the microcontroller 427 provides signals to the solenoid 429 for opening and closing the flush valve 216. In an embodiment, the microcontroller is a conventional device having a processor, timer, random access memory and a read-only memory. In an alterative embodiment, the microcontroller is a programmable logic array.

The microcontroller 427 is operatively coupled to the touchpad to receive commands from a user. In particular, the microcontroller 427 electrically commands the solenoid to open the flush valve for a duration of time based upon a command signal received form the touchpad 425.

Turning to FIG. 15, the touchpad 410 can be a conventional device adhesively attached to the outside of the toilet tank 112 wherein the touchpad sends electrical command signals to the microcontroller 427 corresponding to an area touched by a user. In an embodiment, four areas or zones can be printed on the touchpad wherein, when a user touches area 375 a an electrical command is sent to the microcontroller to open the flush valve 216 for about 3 seconds. Likewise, by a user touching areas 375 b, 375 c and 375 d, a flush duration of about 4, 5 and 6 seconds is provided, respectively.

It should be emphasized that the above-described embodiments of the present invention, particularly, any “preferred” embodiments, are possible examples of implementations merely set forth for a clear understanding of the principles for the invention. Many other variations and modifications may be made to the above-described embodiment(s) of the invention without substantially departing from the spirit and principles of the invention. Accordingly, all such modifications are intended to be included herein within the scope of this disclosure and the present invention, and protected by the following claims.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4392260 *Jul 6, 1982Jul 12, 1983Bensen Court MFlushing apparatus with selective quantity control
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US8196898 *Feb 22, 2011Jun 12, 2012Somei HuangWater-stop plug of flush valve
US8387172 *Nov 6, 2009Mar 5, 2013Prodius LlcWater flow controlling system and method
US8418276 *Mar 16, 2011Apr 16, 2013So-Mei HuangToilet flushing device
US20110107506 *Nov 6, 2009May 12, 2011Prodius LlcWater flow controlling system and method
US20120233760 *Mar 16, 2011Sep 20, 2012So-Mei HuangToilet flushing device
Classifications
U.S. Classification4/324
International ClassificationE03D3/12
Cooperative ClassificationE03D1/308, E03D5/10, E03D1/142
European ClassificationE03D5/10, E03D1/14D, E03D1/30F