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Publication numberUS3393479 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJul 23, 1968
Filing dateOct 10, 1966
Priority dateOct 10, 1966
Publication numberUS 3393479 A, US 3393479A, US-A-3393479, US3393479 A, US3393479A
InventorsDavid Slotnick
Original AssigneeLitton Systems Inc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Expandable shelter with inflated walls and ceiling
US 3393479 A
Abstract  available in
Previous page
Next page
Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

D. SLOTNICK 3,393,479


United States Patent 3,393,479 EXPANDABLE SHELTER WITH INFLATED WALLS AND CEILING David Slotnick, Los Angeles, Calif., assignor to Litton Systems, Inc., Beverly Hills, Calif., a corporation of Maryland Filed Oct. 10, 1966, Ser. No. 585,462

8 Claims. (Cl. 52-2) ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE This invention relates in general to portable shelters and in particular to a portable shelter of the inflatable and expandable variety.

While progress in the packaging of electronic equipment has been rapid in the last decade, similar improvements have not been made in shelters for the transport and housing of personnel and equipment. The need for such shelters is made clear when the requirements for a typical tactical command and control system are examined. One such requirement is that a shelter be able to seat six to eight men in a common area with common access to a large screen display. Another requirement is that the transport configuration of the shelter be small in volume. Several other requirements necessary for the production of a suitable shelter are low weight, easy transportability, short setup and knockdown time, good thermal insulation (to heat and cold), and good shielding from stray electromagnetic fields.

It is apparent that there are a large variety of shelters available which satisfy some of these requirements. The ordinary tent, for example, is low weight and of simple design, but does not have good thermal insulation or shielding ability from stray electromagnetic fields. On the other side of the shelter spectrum are solid metallic vans (some of which are expandable) which provide excellent electromagnetic shielding and thermal insulation but are of large weight, require excessive setup and knockdown time and are cumbersome in their transportability. Another class of shelters fall within the expandable, inflatable variety in which some or all of the walls of the shelter are made of an inflatable material which, upon being pressurized, take the shape of the final configuration. While these shelters are generally of low weight and have good thermal insulation, they are rather cumbersome to erect and knockdown and do not have good transportability; in addition, the terrain upon which they are placed must be suitable to provide the flooring of the shelter.

Applicant has succeeded in overcoming all of the disadvantages of the prior art devices by providing a shelter which is formed from an inflatable fabric contained in a hard wall enclosure, the enclosure unfolding to form the floor of the shelter and the inflatable fabric expanding to form the walls and ceiling of the shelter. The entire floor of the shelter is raised from the surface of the terrain with the central portion of the floor consisting of a raised platform and a plenum chamber thereunder, the plenum chamber being formed by the bottom of the hard wall enclosure and the raised platform.

It is therefore the primary object of the invention to provide a new and improved shelter.

It is another object of the invention to provide a shelter which is both inflatable and expandable.

It is a further feature of the invention to provide a shelter which is contained in a hard wall enclosure for suitable transportability.

It is another object of the invention to provide a shelter having a series of levels therein for internal visibility and for storage and thermal properties.

It is another object of the invention to provide a shelter which has a hard flooring formed from a hard wall enclosure and in which the walls and ceiling of the shelter are formed from an inflatable fabric contained in such enclosure.

These and other objects of the present invention together with further features and advantages thereof will become more apparent from the following detailed specification and the accompanying drawings. It is to be understood, however, that the specification and the drawings are for purposes of illustration only and are not intended to be a definition of the limits of the invention. In addition, corresponding reference numerals have been carried forward throughout the drawings to designate like parts of the invention.

FIGURE 1 illustrates the shelter of the present invention in its folded and enclosed form;

FIGURES 2a-e illustrate the method of erection of the shelter of the present invention.

FIGURE 3 is a cross-sectional illustration of the invention as depicted in FIGURE 2e; and

FIGURE 4 illustrates one method of deployment of the shelter of the present invention.

In FIGURE 1, the shelter of the present invention is shown in a folded condition. When in such as folded condition, the shelter is contained within an enclosure 10, the enclosure 10 being gene-rally of a rectangular configuration and, in one embodiment, approximately 94 inches high, 87 inches wide, and inches long. For lightness and rigidity the enclosure 10 may be composed of an aluminum honeycomb structure. Several of the features which allow for the transportability of the enclosure 10 are shown in FIGURE 1. Two aluminum skids 12 with replaceable steel caps are located under the base of the enclosure 10. Tow rings 14 and heli lift rings 16 are provided to allow the enclosure 10 to be either dragged along the ground or air transported. Slots 18 are provided for fork lift pickup. Jacks 20 are located at the four lower corners of the enclosure 10 to provide leveling capability.

On the lower rear wall 11 of the enclosure 10 cable connector panels 22 are located for all electrical connections. An entry port 24 and exit ports 26 are provided for connection of air conditioning and heating equipment. An internal pressure relief valve 28 is located in the upper rear panel 44 of the enclosure 10 to preclude rupture during high altitude transport. The upper rear panel 44 has a personnel access hatch 30 for interior inspection while the shelter is in transport mode. Attachment points 32 and leveling gauges 33 are located on the top panel 42 and on the lower side panel 13, respectively, for attaching floor jacks and leveling the shelter when the shelter is in the operational configuration.

In FIGURE 2, the method of unfolding the shelter of the present invention is illustrated. FIGURE 2a illustrates the enclosure 10 consisting (partially) of front planel 40, top panel 42, upper rear panel 44 and side panel 46. Front panel 40 and top panel 42 are connected by a waterproof hinge 36, and front panel 40 is connected to the lower front wall 15 of the enclosure 10 by a waterproof hinge 34. In a like fashion, upper rear panel 44 is connected to the lower rear wall 11 of enclosure 10 by a waterproof hinge 38. In the particular embodiment, the

hinge 34 is located 13 inches above the bottom of the enclosure 10, While the hinge 38 is located approximately 31 inches above the bottom of the enclosure Latches (not shown) are provided to lock the various panels together.

In FIGURE lb, the upper rear panel 44 has been unfolded from the enclosure 10 and is supported by telescoping supporting rods 48. Integrally connected to the edges of the upper rear panel 44 is the inflatable roof and wall assembly 50. This assembly 50 folds into the upper half of the enclosure 10 above any equipment placed therein when the shelter is closed. Assembly 50 becomes the walls and roof of the shelter when it is opened and in its operational configuration. In FIGURE 20 the top panel 42 with the front panel 40 have been folded outward along hinge 34 and jacks 32 have been placed in the attachment points 32 to support the front panel 40 in a level condition. As is shown in FIGURE 20, the inflatable roof and wall assembly 50 is integrally connected to the side edges of the front panel 40 and the side and end edges of the top panel 42.

In FIGURE 2d, the floor layout of the shelter is completed by folding down the top panel 42 and the leveling thereof by jacks 32". In addition, the side panels 46 have been removed from the final configuration. While such removal is not essential for the practice of the invention, nonetheless additional space is provided within the structure by their absence. In FIGURE 22, the shelter is shown inflated into its final contour. In this configuration the maximum external dimensions of the shelter are approximately 316 inches long 160 inches wide and 145 inches high at the roof peak. The end walls and roof are constructed of two layers of a neoprene-dacron material with the layers being approximately inches apart and compartmentalized by webbing tubes approximately 8 inches between centers. Either or both skins of this material have a metalized fiber coating on the inside facing to give a 30 db or 55 db RFI attenuation properties (depending upon the requirement). The side walls are constructed of material identical to that used for the end walls except they are approximately 6 inches thick. The inflation of the shelter may be achieved either by a gas turbine pump, an electric pump or a gas pressure bottle, designated by numeral 80, with the erection time to FIGURE 2d being less than 10 minutes and full inflation being achieved approximately 8 minutes after the configuration of FIG- URE ld is attained. The shelter is provided with an entrance door 52 and a large removable panel 54 located in each side wall. The removable panel 54 is attached to (as by a zipper) and kept under pressure by an encircling inflatable boot 56 which provides environmental isolation and which mates with corresponding boots of adjoining shelters in a multiple module deployment. The remov able wall panel 54 is designed so that it can be left in place or inflated and removed, as desired. The door 52 is attached and removed in the same manner as described for the removable panel 54 but is generally removed during the transport mode. In such a multiple module deployment, the shelters are held together by a mechanical connection and the respective boot surfaces mate and are Zipped together.

The inflatable roof and wall assembly 50 is initially inflated to an internal pressure of 4 pounds by an inflator and is then subsequently inflated to a 9 pound pressure by a high pressure pump. In addition, the inflatable boot 56 encircling the side Wall 54 can be separately inflated and deflated. When the entire structure is collapsed, all the air within the structure is evacuated by a vacuum pump or deflator so as to enable the roof Wall and assembly to fold back into the enclosure 10 and to allow the structure to be air transportable without any dangers of rupture. In addition, the manifold system which feeds air into the various portions of the shelter has a dump valve to allow '4 22 is illustrated. As is shown in FIGURE 3, internal supports 58 may be provided in order to lend increased rigidity to the side walls and roof structure in the event of unfavorable weather conditions, such as accumulated snow or ice. In addition, the raised platform features of the present invention are illustrated. The bottom panel 60 of the enclosure 18 is raised off the ground by the pair of jacks 20. As is shown, the upper rear panel 44 is at a different level than the front and top panels 40 and 42, there being provided a stepped raised platform 62 which permits easy access from the lower level of the shelter to the upper level of the shelter. Between the bottom panel 60 of the enclosure 10 and the raised floor 62 is a plenum chamber 64 which acts to thermally isolate that portion of the shelter not supported by jacks 32, 32" and supporting rods 48 from the ground and which also serves as a cable volt for the Wiring necessary for the various electrical equipment used within the shelter. The plenum chamber 64 may also house the compressor and deflator system and the heating and cooling system. As is shown in FIGURE 1, the lower rear wall 11 of the enclosure 10 has openings into the plenum chamber 64 for electrical access thereto and for thermal evacuation of the shelter.

The deployment of the shelter using the raised, stepped platform 62 can be more easily seen in FIGURE 4. The interior floor level is raised at the rear of the shelter and is approximately 18 inches higher than the front floor level. The raised floor level is covered with nonskid, insulated panels which are removable for easy access to the plenum chamber 64. The operators and the console equipment 70 are placed in tiered rows, enabling each row to have an unobstructed view of the front of the shelter, which is shown as having a large board group display 72. The height of the rear hinge line 38 is determined by the visibility requirements of the operators seated in the rear row, the front hinge line 34 is determined by the visibility requirements of the operators in the next row and the roof height is suflicient to allow head clearance for an operator standing on the highest floor level. The arrangement of the raised platform greatly increases the internal visibility of the structure and gives the shelter an amphitheater quality.

Having thus described the invention, it is apparent that numerous modifications and changes may be made by those skilled in the art, all of which fall within the scope of the invention. Thus, the invention is to be construed to be limited only by the spirit and scope of the appended claims.

What is claimed is:

1. A shelter comprising:

(a) a hard wall enclosure having (1) a base portion;

(2) a first side wall rotatably secured to said base portion adjacent one edge thereof;

(3) a second opposing side wall rotatably secured to said base portion adjacent an edge thereof opposite said one edge;

(4) a top panel rotatably secured to one of said two opposing side walls along an edge thereof parallel to the edge of rotation of said one of said side walls;

(b) an inflatable fabric contained in said hard wall enclosure and selectively attached thereto, said first side wall, said second side Wall, and said top panel unfolding to form the floor of said shelter and said inflatable fabric with said attachment being substantially to the periphery of the floor formed thereby expanding to form the walls and ceiling of said shelter.

2. The combination according to claim 1 wherein said enclosure has two end Walls detachably secured to said enclosure.

3. The combination according to claim 2 wherein said base portion has a bottom and said two opposing side walls are rotatably secured at different levels from the bottom of said base portion.

4. The combination according to claim 3 wherein said base portion includes a raised stepped platform, each of the steps of said platform spaced a predetermined distance from the bottom of said base portion, said predetermined distance for at least two of said steps corresponding to the hinge line of the adjacent side wall, the side wall adjacent each step being coplanar with the step.

5. The combination according to claim 4 wherein the outer periphery of said platform engages the walls of said base portion, said raised stepped platform and said base portion form a plenum chamber.

6. The combination according to claim 1 wherein a portion of one of said inflatable walls of said shelter is separately removable and further comprises means coupling said shelter and said portion of said one of said inflatable walls.

7. The combination according to claim 6 wherein said coupling means comprises an encircling inflatable boot.

8. The combination according to claim 6 wherein said coupling means is attached to mate with like coupling means of light shelters for forming a multiple shelter unit.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,531,678 11/1950 Gledhill 522 2,640,721 6/ 1953 Kors 5269 X 2,659,110 11/ 1953 Carroll 522 2,713,689 7/1955 Godwin 135-1 X 2,819,724 1/1958 Barker 522 2,890,907 6/1959 Briskie et a1 5266 X 2,895,490 7 1959 Dimond 522 3,006,353 10/ 1961 Richardson.

3,059,655 10/1962 Bird 522 3,065,019 11/ 1962 May 522 3,102,546 9/ 1963 Guerrant.

3,161,553 12/1964 Visser 522 X FRANK L. ABBOTT, Primary Examiner.

C. G. MUELLER, Assistant Examiner.

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3540170 *Sep 6, 1968Nov 17, 1970Curtis G FlowersPortable inflatable blind
US3629875 *Feb 4, 1970Dec 28, 1971Doris I DowPortable inflatable enclosure for personal use
US3957232 *Feb 3, 1975May 18, 1976The United States Of America As Represented By The United States Energy Research And Development AdministrationInflatable wing
US4296960 *Sep 21, 1979Oct 27, 1981Winchester Loren RInflatable camper
US5537784 *Aug 15, 1994Jul 23, 1996Baldwin; Gary L.Inflatable portable refuge structure
US6029404 *Jul 2, 1998Feb 29, 2000Lewis; Edward F.Inflatable structure with sealable compartment therein
US7578533 *Sep 13, 2007Aug 25, 2009The Boeing CompanyRetractable and extendable enclosure member for a compartment of a transportation device
US7695049 *Apr 25, 2005Apr 13, 2010Colborne Bruce JInner supported climate controlled single trailer shelter
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US8333039 *Nov 4, 2009Dec 18, 2012Hong Fu Jin Precision Industry (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd.Movable building
US8506681Mar 7, 2008Aug 13, 2013Strata Products Worldwide, LlcApparatus, system and method for cleaning air
US8562066Jun 24, 2009Oct 22, 2013Egbert Berend HoltkampCamping vehicle comprising a tent construction that can be folded out
US8794711Apr 30, 2012Aug 5, 2014Strata Products Worldwide, LlcRefuge chamber and method
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WO1997047831A1 *Jun 9, 1997Dec 18, 1997Manuel Francis Jean BonnemazouPortable modular shelter
WO1998026143A1 *Dec 11, 1997Jun 18, 1998Giat Ind SaInflatable element adapted for forming a plane wall when inflated, and structure comprising such a wall
WO2010001259A2Jun 24, 2009Jan 7, 2010Egbert Berend HoltkampCamping vehicle comprising a tent construction that can be folded out
U.S. Classification52/2.17, 52/64, 52/2.21
International ClassificationE04H15/20
Cooperative ClassificationE04H2015/204, E04H15/20
European ClassificationE04H15/20