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Publication numberUS3885400 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateMay 27, 1975
Filing dateNov 20, 1973
Priority dateNov 20, 1973
Publication numberUS 3885400 A, US 3885400A, US-A-3885400, US3885400 A, US3885400A
InventorsWebb William M
Original AssigneeGen Electric
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Sensing arrangement for ice maker
US 3885400 A
Abstract
When the ice pieces collected in a storage bin or receptacle from an automatic ice maker of a refrigerator reach a predetermined level, a hollow, bell-shaped sensing element, which is adjustably mounted on a threaded screw eye pivotally mounted on a pivoting arm, is prevented from returning to its sensing position by its lower end engaging the ice pieces to stop further harvesting of the ice pieces from the ice maker. The sensing element is raised from its sensing position during each ice making cycle and is returned to its sensing position after a predetermined time period has elapsed. If the ice pieces are at the predetermined level in the receptable which prevents the sensing element from returning to its sensing position, which is usually within the receptacle, the sensing element prevents the bail from being rotated to a position in which another ice harvesting cycle can occur.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent [191 Webb [451 May 27, 1975 SENSING ARRANGEMENT FOR ICE MAKER [75] Inventor: William M. Webb, Louisville, Ky.

[73] Assignee: General Electric Company,

Louisville, Ky.

[22] Filed: Nov. 20, 1973 [21] App]. No.: 417,584

3,045,444 7/1962 Todd 62/ l 37 Primary Examiner-Kenneth W. Sprague Assistant ExaminerJames C. Yeung [57] ABSTRACT When the ice pieces collected in a storage bin or receptacle from an automatic ice maker of a refrigerator reach a predetermined level, a hollow, bell-shaped sensing element, which is adjustably mounted on a threaded screw eye pivotally mounted on a pivoting arm, is prevented from returning to its sensing position by its lower end engaging the ice pieces to stop further harvesting of the ice pieces from the ice maker. The sensing element is raised from its sensing position dur ing each ice making cycle and is returned to its sensing position after a predetermined time period has elapsed. 1f the ice pieces are at the predetermined level in the receptable which prevents the sensing element from returning to its sensing position, which is usually within the receptacle, the sensing element prevents the bail from being rotated to a position in which another ice harvesting cycle can occur.

4 Claims, 2 Drawing Figures SENSING ARRANGEMENT FOR ICE MAKER BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION In automatic ice makers, particularly those used in household refrigerators, a storage receptacle or bin is provided beneath the cavities of an ice mold in which the ice is formed to receive the ejected ice. When this bin or receptacle becomes full ofice pieces, it is desired to inactivate the ice harvesting cycle until the storage bin or receptacle is again able to store the ice pieces. This can occur only when at least some of the ice pieces are removed from the storage bin or receptacle or an empty storage bin or receptacle is substituted for the filled storage bin or receptacle.

It has previously been suggested in US. Pat. No. 3,163,017 to Baker et al. and US. Pat. No. 3,331,215 to Shaw to employ a feeler arm for activating an ice level sensing switch whenever the storage bin or receptacle becomes full. As shown and described in the aforesaid Baker et al and Shaw patents, the feeler arm is raised after the ice pieces have been ejected from the ice maker following each ice making cycle and lowered after the ice pieces have been received in the storage bin or receptacle. When the ice pieces fill the storage bin or receptacle to a predetermined level, the feeler arm is prevented by the accumulated ice from returning to its position in which the ice level sensing switch can be closed to permit another ice harvesting cycle to occur.

While this type of feeler arm, which can be a rotatably mounted U-shaped piece of wire, is satisfactory in many instances, it has the disadvantage of requiring a substantial amount of space in the freezer compartment of the refrigerator in which the automatic ice maker is disposed because of the length of its swinging arc between the position in which it is disposed to sense when the ice pieces in the storage bin or receptacle have reached the predetermined level and the position to which it is moved during each ice harvesting cycle. The length of this are through which the feeler arm swings increases the lateral spaced required in the freezer compartment.

The present invention satisfactorily overcomes this problem through utilizing a sensing arrangement in which an arc of a much smaller length is required to swing the sensing arrangement between the position in which it senses whether the ice pieces in the storage bin or receptacle have reached the predetermined level and the position to which it is moved during ejection of the ice pieces from the ice maker following in the ice making cycle. As a result, the space required in the freezer compartment of a refrigerator for the sensing arrangement is substantially reduced. Thus, either the size of the freezer compartment can be reduced or more space can be utilized for storage of other frozen articles.

The sensing position of the sensing element of the present invention is adjustable so that different size storage bins or receptacles can be employed with the sensing element having the position of its ice engaging surface adjusted for the height of the particular size bin or receptacle or for selecting various levels within a particular storage bin or receptacle.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION An object of this invention is to provide a sensor for an automatic ice maker for sensing when the ice pieces in a storage bin or receptacle reach a predetermined level.

Another object of this invention is to provide an ice 5 sensor for an automatic ice maker in which less space is required in the freezer compartment for the sensor. In accordance with the illustrated embodiment of the invention, there is provided an improved sensing arrangement for an ice maker having an ice mold in which ice pieces are formed and from which the ice pieces are ejected and a receptacle to receive the ejected ice pieces disposed beneath the ice mold. The improved sensing arrangement comprises an arm rotatable from a first position to a second position after the ice pieces are formed in the ice mold and from the second position to the first position after the ice pieces are received in the receptacle. The arm has a member pivotally supported thereon with a sensing element mounted on the pivotally supported member. The sensing element has an ice engaging area larger than an ice piece formed in the ice mold. The pivotally supported member and the sensing element have a combined effective fixed length to enable the ice engaging surface of the sensing element to be in a position to engage ice pieces at a predetermined level when the bail is in its first position and to cause the ice engaging surface of the sensing element to be disposed exterior to the receptacle when the arm is in its second position. The ice engaging surface of the sensing element engages at least one of the ice pieces when the ice pieces in the receptacle are at the predetermined level to prevent the full return of the bail to its first position from its second position to stop the supply of ice pieces from the ice maker to the receptacle.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING The attached drawing illustrates a preferred embodiment of the invention, in which: 1

FIG. 1 is a front elevational view of a portion of,a freezer compartment of a refrigerator cabinet having an automatic ice maker with which the sensor of the present invention is employed; and

FIG. 2 is a side elevational view of the ice maker and sensor of FIG. 1 when the sensor is in its sensing position in which ice harvesting can occur.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referring to the drawing and particularly FIG. 1, there is shown a refrigerator cabinet having a freezer compartment 11 in which is disposed an automatic ice maker 12 of the type shown and described in the aforesaid Baker et a1 and Shaw patents. It includes a mold 14 having a plurality of mold cavities 15 (one shown) for receiving water from a water supply conduit 16. The water may be supplied from the usual household source or from a reservoir supported within a fresh food compartment (not shown) as shown and described in the copending patent application of Frank A. Schumacher for Refrigerator Including Automatic Ice Maker," Ser. No. 314,695, filed Dec. 13, 1972 now US. Pat. No. 3,803,862, and assigned to the same assignee as the assignee of this application.

As shown and described in the aforesaid Baker et al and Shaw patents, a lever mechanism 19 (see FIG. 2) raises an ejection pad (not shown) at the bottom of each of the cavities 15 to raise and eject the ice pieces therefrom. The lever mechanism 19 is driven by a cam mechanism from a motor (not shown) within a housing 20 to produce the ice harvesting cycle.

The sensing arrangement of the present invention includes a pivotally mounted U-shaped member 21 having a pair of substantially parallel legs 22 and 23 extending from a base 24. The leg 22 has its end 25, which is substantially perpendicular to the leg 22, supported in an car 26 of a trough 27 of the ice maker 12. The end of the leg 23 is supported in a rotatably mounted drive coupling 28, which is driven by the cam mechanism within the housing 20 of the ice maker 12 as shown and described in the aforesaid Baker et al and Shaw patents.

The base 24 of the member 31 has a loop 29 formed therein substantially half way between the legs 22 and 23 to receive and pivotally support a screw eye 30. A hollow, bell-shaped sensing element 31 has a threaded opening 32 (See FIG. 1) in its upper end to enable the element 31 to be mounted on the screw eye 30. Thus, the position of the sensing element 31 on the screw eye 30 is adjustable to vary the combined fixed length of the screw eye 30 and the sensing element 31.

. The sensing element 31 is formed of any suitable plastic material such as high impact styrene, for example. Any suitable thermoplastic material may be readily employed.

Because of its shape, the sensing element 31 has the surface of its lower annular end 33 of a sufficient size to always engage at least one ice piece within a storage bin or receptacle 34 whenever the ice pieces within the storage bin or receptacle 34 reach a predetermined level as determined by the position of the lower end 33 of the sensing element 31 when the sensing arrangement is in the dotted line position of FIG. 1. This is when the member 21 has been rotated through the coupling 28 to its lowermost position.

The storage bin or receptacle 34 is disposed beneath the mold 14 to receive the ice pieces formed in the mold cavities l and ejected therefrom by the lever mechanism 19. During each ice harvesting cycle as the member 21 is rotated from the dotted line position to the upper solid line position of FIG. 1, an ice level sensing switch is opened as described in the aforesaid Baker et al. and Shaw patents.

If the ice bin or receptacle 34, which is supported below the ice maker on a shelf 36 in the freezer compartment 11 of the refrigerator cabinet 10, becomes filled with ice pieces to the predetermined level and a new batch of ice pieces is ejected from the mold cavities 15, the added ice pieces prevent the sensing element 31 from returning to the dotted line position of FIG. 1. As a result, the bail 21 cannot return to the position in which the ice level sensing switch is closed to permit initiation of another ice harvesting cycle by the ice maker 12.

Considering the operation of the present invention, during each ice harvesting cycle, the member 21 rotates between the dotted line position and the solid line position of FIG. 1 to move the sensing element 31 from its lower or sensing position to an upper position. Whenever the ice pieces in the storage bin or receptacle 34 reach the predetermined level, the member 21 is prevented from returning to the dotted line position of FIG. 1. This stops further ice harvesting until some of the ice pieces are removed from the storage bin or receptacle 34.

With only the length of the member 21 forming the are of rotation, a much smaller amount of lateral space is required in the freezer compartment 11 than when the feeler arm is rotated as in the aforesaid Baker et al 5 and Shaw patents. Also, the screw eye 30 and the sensing element 31 form an effective sensing member of a fixed, although adjustable, length. Thus, adjustment of the desired predetermined maximum level of the ice pieces within the storage bin or receptacle 34 at which ice harvesting is to stop is provided.

A particular advantage of the bell-shaped sensor element 3] is that it positively overlies and engages at least one of the ice pieces when the ice reaches the predetermined level. In other words. its base is larger than an individual ice piece so that it engages at least one ice 5 piece or bridges two or more ice pieces so that it cannot swing or tilt to one side or another as it contacts the mass of ice pieces.

For purposes of exemplification. a particular embodiment of the invention has been shown and described according to the best present understanding thereof. However, it will be apparent that changes and modifications in the arrangement and construction of the parts thereof may be resorted to without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

I claim:

1. In an ice maker having an ice mold in which ice pieces are formed and from which the ice pieces are ejected during a harvesting cycle and a receptacle to receive the ejected ice pieces and disposed beneath the ice mold, the improvement comprising:

a member rotatable from a first position to a second position during an ice harvesting cycle and from the second position to the first position after the ice pieces are received in the receptacle;

a second member pivotally supported on said first 35 member and including a hollow and bell-shaped sensing element having an enlarged lower annular end forming the ice engaging surface of said sensing element;

said pivotally supported member and said sensing element having a combined fixed length to enable said ice engaging surface of said sensing element to engage ice pieces at a predetermined level when said .first member is above its first position and to cause said ice engaging surface of said sensing element to be disposed above said level when said first member is in its second position, said ice engaging surface of said sensing element being adapted to overlie at least one of the ice pieces when the ice pieces in the receptacle are at the predetermined level to prevent return of said first member to its first position to stop the supply of ice pieces from the ice maker to the receptacle; and

means to vary the position of said sensing element on said pivotally supported member to adjust the combined operative length of said pivotally supported member and said sensing element.

2. The improvement according to claim 1 in which said adjusting means comprises threads on said pivotally supported member and a threaded opening in the upper end of said sensing element.

3. The improvement according to claim 1 including means to adjust the position of said sensing element relative to said pivotally supported member to change the combined fixed length of said pivotally supported member and said sensing element.

4. The improvement according to claim 3 in which said adjusting means comprises threads on said pivotally supported member and a threaded opening in the upper end of said sensing element. l l t=

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3016718 *Dec 1, 1959Jan 16, 1962Dole Valve CoIce level sensor
US3040542 *Feb 2, 1959Jun 26, 1962Whirlpool CoProduct level control for ice maker
US3045444 *Dec 19, 1960Jul 24, 1962Carrier CorpIce making
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4610147 *Jan 17, 1985Sep 9, 1986Hoshizaki Electric Co., Ltd.Ice detector for an ice making machine
US5119639 *May 1, 1991Jun 9, 1992Sub-Zero Freezer Company Inc.Ice level sensor
US5619858 *Feb 12, 1996Apr 15, 1997White Consolidated Industries, Inc.Ice bucket depth sensor
US6334319Oct 18, 2000Jan 1, 2002Maytag CorporationIce level sensing assembly
US6418736Jun 20, 2001Jul 16, 2002Hoshizaki America, Inc.Ice level detector
US7134292 *May 18, 2004Nov 14, 2006Lg Electronics Inc.Full ice level sensing apparatus and method
US7266957May 27, 2005Sep 11, 2007Whirlpool CorporationRefrigerator with tilted icemaker
US7266973Jun 2, 2006Sep 11, 2007Whirlpool CorporationRefrigerator with improved icemaker having air flow control
US7383690Dec 5, 2005Jun 10, 2008Whirlpool CorporationIce harvest prevention mechanism in a refrigerator
US7712322Feb 15, 2006May 11, 2010Maytag CorporationIce level sensing device for an automatic ice maker in a refrigerator
US7784292 *Dec 12, 2007Aug 31, 2010Zippy Technology Corp.Ice level detection structure for ice makers
CN1303389C *Jun 28, 2004Mar 7, 2007Lg电子株式会社Full ice level sensing apparatus and method
WO2010060172A2Nov 27, 2009Jun 3, 2010Whirlpool SaIce detection arrangement for detecting the quantity of ice in the ice compartment of a refrigerator
Classifications
U.S. Classification62/137, 200/61.2
International ClassificationF25C5/18, F25C1/04, F25C5/00
Cooperative ClassificationF25C1/04, F25C5/187
European ClassificationF25C1/04, F25C5/18B4