Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS3915531 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateOct 28, 1975
Filing dateNov 30, 1972
Priority dateNov 30, 1972
Publication numberUS 3915531 A, US 3915531A, US-A-3915531, US3915531 A, US3915531A
InventorsMorgan Troy O
Original AssigneeMorgan Troy O
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Random access storage system
US 3915531 A
Abstract
A random access storage compartment system wherein a plurality of compartments are pivotably attached to a pair of spaced chains supported in a rectangular configuration. The compartments are supported in a level position at all times and any compartment can be selectively moved and halted at an access position.
Images(11)
Previous page
Next page
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent [1 1 Morgan Oct. 28, 1975 RANDOM ACCESS STORAGE SYSTEM [76] Inventor: Troy 0. Morgan, 4000 Knollbrook Drive NW., Huntsville, Ala. 35810 [22] Filed: Nov. 30, 1972 [21] Appl. No.: 310,917

[52] US. Cl 312/268; 198/158; 214/11 R; 214/16.l BB; 198/38; 312/223 [51] Int. Cl. 865G 43/00 [58] Field of Search 214/11 R, 16.1 BB; 198/38, 1'98/158; 187/57; 312/266, 268, 223

[56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,856,876 5/1932 Lewis 214/16.1 BB X 1,870,069 8/1932 Rugg 214/16.1 BB

2,194,912 3/1940 Regan 214/11 R 3,315,767 4/1967 Walter 187/57 FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 363,474 9/1962 Switzerland .1 214/16.1 BB

Primary Examiner-Even C. Blunk Assistant Examiner-Douglas 1D. Watts [57] ABSTRACT A random access storage compartment system wherein a plurality of compartments are pivotably at tached to a pair of spaced chains supported in a rect angular configuration. The compartments are supported in a level position at all times and any compartment can be selectively moved and halted at an access position.

4 Claims, 18 Drawing Figures US. Patent Oct. 28, 1975 Sheet2of11 3,915,531

US. Patent Oct.28, 1975 Sheet60f11 3,915,531

Patent Oct.28, 1975 "Sheet7ofl1 3,915,531

OON

U.S. Patent Oct. 28; 1975 Sheet9ofl1 3,915,531

m n m 8N U.S. Patent Oct. 28,1975 Sheetllofll 3,915,531

QOm

l RANDOM ACCESS STORAGE SYSTEM BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION' This invention relates to storage systems and particularly to a system which enables immediate access to any one of a number of storage compartments which are otherwise positioned remote from a working area from which access to a compartment on a selective basis is desired.

Both in residential and other buildings there exists many work or supply areas or rooms in which articles are selectively stored in particular compartments or on particular shelves. Typically, compartments are stationary and arranged along a wall or walls of the area of use. In such instances, the user determines the compartment in which the article he desires to store, goes to and retrieves it: There are several disadvantages to this arrangement, principally the loss of working space necessary to accommodate storage and the problem of locating and bringing stored articles to the point of use. While certain systems have been proposed which incorporate chain or conveyor supported shelves, the applicant is unaware of the existence of a storage system adapted to largely utilize space for storage in ceilings, under floors and in walls, one in which storage compartments are maintained at level secure position and, wherein, each compartment can be selectively recalled to a desired work or use location.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention is characterized by a system in which a plurality of compartments are pivotably connected at spaced positions between two chains supported in a rectangular configuration. Supporting rollers on opposite sides of each compartment are in turn supported during horizontal travel by rails, and horizontal, vertical and corner guides ensure that the compartments are maintained in a level position at all times. Each compartment has a code identifying member, such as a uniquely positioned notch or protrusion. A cooperating stationary decoder is positioned to interact with coded members of the compartment and the decoder together with a control system enables the selection and positioning at one or more access locations of any one of the compartments.

It is, accordingly, an object of this invention to provide a new and improved storage system in which a large quantity and variety of stored articles may be securely stored and may be selectively retrieved with a minimum of time and effort.

It is a further object of this invention to provide a system of the character described which may be installed in a building in such a manner as to utilize space which is often wasted or not fully utilized, such as ceiling space, space under floors and space between walls.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a partially diagrammatic perspective view of the general layout of a system constructed in accordance with the invention.

FIG. 2 is a partially diagrammatic view of one of the compartments of the system.

FIG. 3 is a partially diagrammatic front view of one of the compartments.

FIG. 4 is a partially diagrammatic top view of one of the compartments.

FIG. 5 is an enlarged sectional view along lines 55 of FIG. 6.

FIG. 6 is a partially diagrammatic view of one of the compartments and including a portion of the address or location system employed for causing a selected compartment to stop at an access location.

FIG. 7 is a partially diagrammatic view particularly illustrating the operation of the system as compartments traverse corners of the system.

FIG. 8 is a partially diagrammatic illustration of a compartment of the system as it comes from an upward to a horizontal travel.

FIG. 9 is a partially diagrammatic illustration particularly illustrating the movement of a compartment as it moves from a downward to a horizontal direction of travel.

FIG. 10 is a front elevation view of an access door latch.

FIG. 11 is a sectional view along the lines 11-11 of FIG. 10.

FIG. 12 is a sectional view along lines 12-12 of FIG. 10.

FIG. 13 is a partially diagrammatic front elevational view of the access door assembly illustrating one system of interlock provided to prevent movement of a compartment when a user has access to it.

FIG. 14 is a partially diagrammatic view along lines l414 of FIG. 16.

FIG. 15 is a partially diagrammatic front view of the mechanical interlock assembly.

FIG. 16 is a partially diagrammatic front view of a compartment.

FIG. 17 is a sectional view along line 17-l7 of FIG. 16.

FIG. 18 is an electrical schematic diagram illustrating the control system of the invention.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referring to the drawings, one application of storage system 10 is illustrated in FIG. 1 wherein it is used in place of a conventional kitchen cabinet. The enclosed space or volume, as it is shown in FIG. 1, is simply illustrative of a continuous rectangular space 12 occupied by chain transport loop assembly 14, adapted to support a plurality of compartments 16 which, when installed, is totally or at least partially concealed within the interior of opposed closing vertical and horizontal structures of a room or building.

Typically, the upper and lower spaces 18 and 20 are formed integral with and partially enclosed by, the ceiling 19 and floor 21, respectively, of a room, while the interconnecting vertical spaces 22 and 24 are generally formed within the opposing walls of same.

In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, lower portion 26 of the aft vertical space 24 is concealed within utility console 28 while the upper enclosed portion 30 occupies the same space as a conventional kitchen cabinet, being typically enclosed by suitable covering not shown, selected to match the decor of the room.

A pair of spaced endless chains 32 and 34 circumscribe similar prescribed paths within the continuous rectangular volume 12 of storage 10 being guided by like wheels in the form of sprockets 36, suitably journalled to outer frame 38 within forward and aft end regions 40 and 42 of upper and. lower transverse spaces 18 and 20, respectively, of storage 10.

Spaced chains 32 and 34 are driven in synchronism by the two opposed supporting sprockets 36 positioned in forward region 40 of upper transverse space 18, which are secured about a central hub, being integral with a second driven sprocket 44 spaced laterally outward of chains 32 and 34.

Driven sprockets 44 are coupled through similar drive chains 46 to aligned driving sprockets 48 firmly attached to transverse drive shaft 50, rotatably journalled upon frame 38 above upper space 40 of storage 10. Drive shaft 50 is rotationally locked by electromagnetic brake assembly 51, positioned intermediate drive sprockets 48. Drive shaft 50is driven by central sprocket 52 coupled through chain 54 to output sprocket 56 of motor drive assembly 58, also mounted to frame 38 above upper space 40 of storage 10. A plurality of spaced compartments 16, only one of which is shown in FIG. 1, are pivotally attached, by through support rod 60, (FIGS. 1, and 16) to laterally opposed points 62 and 64 of endless chains 32 and 34, respectively. Channel shaped vertical guide bars 66 and 68 (FIGS. 4, 5 and 6) are centrally attached outward of lateral walls 70 and 72, respectively, of each compartment 16. Guide bars 66 and 68 are provided with opening 74 near the upper ends which mate with similar holes 76 (FIGS. 3 and 5) through side walls 70 and 72 of compartments 16.

Support rods 60 are pivotally attached to chains 32 and 34 (FIG. 16) through opening 82 in supporting blocks 84, commonly called tote blocks (FIG. 17) which are axially positioned adjacent vertical guide bars 66 and 68. Tote blocks 84 are in turn detachably secured to chains 32 and 34 by conventional mating bracket 86, integral with blocks 84.

Supporting rollers 88, journalled adjacent ends 89 and 90 of rods 60, are adapted to engage longitudinal guide rails 91 (FIGS. 2 and 3) to be further described, which bear the weight of compartments 16 when being transported through horizontal spaces 18 and 20.

Each of compartments 16 is rotationally and laterally stabilized, during vertical travel, by transversely opposed pairs 92 of vertical guide rails 94 and 96 (FIGS. 5, 8 and 9), centrally secured to frame 38, interior of vertical spaces 22 and 24.

Guide rails 94 and 96 are spaced to slidably accept vertical guide bars 66 and 68 of compartments l6, and the outwardly disposed rail 96 of each pair 92 extends essentially the length of vertical spaces 22 and 24. Inwardly disposed rail 94 of each pair 92 is ofa length so as to permit free passage of upper and lower ends 98 and 100 of guide bars 66 and 68 during a change in direction of compartments 16 (FIGS. 8 and 9).

Compartments 16 are held in an essentially level posture during horizontal transport within upper and lower spaces 18 and 20, by centrally positioned longitudinal leveling bars 102 and 104, respectively, (FIGS. 2, 8 and 9), which are adapted to slidably engage mating nylon inserts S centrally attached to upper edges of the supporting structure of compartments 16. During the translation from one direction of movement to the other, within upper transverse space 18, compartments 16 are rotationally stabilized by circular, or arcuate guides 106 FIG. 8) attached to the upper ends of inwardly disposed guide rails 94 and by cooperating lever arms 108 and 110. Lever arms 108 and 110 are pivotally attached to points intermediate the ends of leveling bar 102 and the free ends are downwardly biased by similar tension springs 111 (FIGS. 7a, 7b and 8) as described below.

FIG. 8 shows the position of vertical guide bars 66 and 68 when a compartment 16 has reached the upper limit of its ascent within rear space 24. Pivotal point 112 of support rod 60 is at the juncture of vertical and curved portions of chains 32 and 34. When in this position, spring biased lever arm 108 initially contacts rear nylon insert to apply a clockwise rotational force about pivot point 112 of compartment 16. Lower end 100 of vertical guide bar 66 is in engagement with lower extremity of circular guide 106. As pivotal point 112 moves in an arc about support sprocket 36, lower end 100 of guide bar 66 is held, by lever arm 108, in sliding contact with circular guide 106, being contoured with a similar arc. Upon the completion of this transition, compartment 16 is in the position shown in FIG. 7a, and, as previously mentioned, is maintained in a level position for forward travel by longitudinal leveling bar 102 (FIG. 8), being in contacting engagement with nylon inserts 105.

In FIG. 7b, when compartment 16 approaches the forward limit of travel lever arm engages leading nylon insert 105, applying a counterclockwise force about pivotal point 112 of support rod 60 (FIG. 1).

This action maintains a sliding contact between lower end 100 of guide bar 66 and circular guide 106 in a similar manner as described above, during the transition from horizontal to vertical travel, thus keeping compartment 16 level as pivot 112 is carried about support sprocket 36 by chains 32 and 34.

Within the end regions of lower transverse space 20, (FIG. 1), compartments 16 are supported in a level posture during the transition from one direction of travel to another by cooperating circular guides 106 (FIGS. 70, 7d and 9). Within each end region of space 20, transversely opposed guides 106 extend inwardly from a point 116 near the lower ends of vertical guide rails 96. Similarly formed cooperating circular guides 106 extend upward in a like arc from opposite ends 118 and 120 of centrally positioned leveling bar 104 (FIGS. 70 and 7d). When a compartment 16 is at the lower limit of vertical descent within forward vertical space 22, as shown in FIG. 7, rearward nylon insert 105 is in contacting engagement with the upper end of circular guide 106 of leveling bar 104.

Lower ends 100 of guide bars 66 and 68 are in similar engagement with circular guides 106 of guide rails 96. Referring to FIG. 7c while pivotal point 112 is carried in an are about sprocket 36 of chain 32, circular guide 106 of leveling bar 104, being contoured in a like arc, prevents counterclockwise rotation of compartment 16. Clockwise rotation of compartment 16 is limited by circular guides 106 of guide rails 96, also similarly formed.

Alike leveling action occurs when compartment 16 approaches the limit of rearward travel, as shown in FIG. 7d, the difference between that in transition from horizontal to vertical movement, central guide 106 of leveling bar 104 limits clockwise rotation of compartment 16 while opposed circular guides 106 of guide rails 96 limit rotation in a counterclockwise direction.

Articles to be stored are placed in compartments l6 and retrieved therefrom, through access opening 122 formed in forward wall 124 of rear vertical space 24 (FIG. 1). For reasons of safety, opening 122 is closed,

while storage 10 is in operation, by access door assembly 126, (FIG. 13), which is mounted immediately inside forward wall 124. Access door assembly 126 includes door panel 128 provided with transverse Z brackets 130 (FIG. 11), adapted to support decorative inserts 132 and having end regions 134 (FIG. 13) supported for sliding movement within vertical channels 136. Vertical channels 136 are attached at upper and lower ends to vertically spaced transverse structural an gles 138 and 140, respectively, by angular brackets 142. The weight of access panel 128 is partially borne by spaced vertical suspension assemblies 144 and 146. Each of assemblies 144 and 146 includes vertical rod 148 attached at the upper end by yoke 150, to lower edge 152 of door 128, and is slidably supported by linear journal 154, attached to lower transverse angle 140. Each of rods 148 is urged upward by tension spring 156, retained about lower end region 158, of rod 148 and is supported between collar 160, near lower extremity of rod 148 and linear journal 154. Access door 128 is limited in downward travel by collars 162 adjustably attached near the upper ends of rods 148. When once manually closed, access door 128 is automatically opened by solenoid latching assembly 164, only upon the completion of the selection of a particular compartment 16 by motor driven transport assembly 14 (FIG. 1).

Latching assembly 164 includes transverse actuating rod 166 (FIGS. 10, 11 and 12), pivotally supported at each end by bracket 168 attached to intermediate transverse angle 170. Transverse angle 170 is mounted to frame 38, being positioned immediately rearward of access door 128. Latch member 172 (FIG. 11), centrally attached to actuating rod 166, has lower end region 174 formed with notch 176 adapted to engage lower edge 178 of mating striker plate 180, centrally mounted by bolts 182 to inner surface of door 128. Latch 172 is held in spring biased engagement with striker plate 180 by vertically disposed arm 183 attached at the upper end to actuating rod 166 at a point near right end 184. The lower tapered end of arm 183 is pivotally attached, by yoke 188 (FIG. 12) to one end of spring retainer rod 190, being slidably supported by ape'rtured angle bracket 192. Compression spring 194, retained about rod 190, is supported between yoke 188 and angle bracket 192 to apply a clockwise force, through arm 183, to actuating rod 184. Thus when ac- 'cess door 128 (FIG. 11) is being closed, mating inclined surfaces 194 and 196 of striker plate 180 and latch member 172, respectively, co-act to rotate latch 172 in a counterclockwise direction. When door 128 is fully closed, latch 172 securely engages lower edge 178 of striker plate 180 as shown in FIG. 11.

Latch 172 is momentarily disengaged with plate 180 to release access door 128 upon the completion of a selection cycle, by solenoid actuator assembly 198, mounted upon rearwardly extending angle bracket 200, (FIG. which is attached inside right closing wall 202 of rear vertical space 24. Actuator 198 includes latch operating pawl 204, pivotally attached at rear end 205 by lateral pin 206 to armature 208 of solenoid 210 (FIG. 12).

Pawl 204, formed of an elongated bar, has tapered forward end region 212, laterally supported between vertical arm 183, previously described, and a second outwardly spaced parallel arm 214. Arm 214 is attached at the upper end to actuating rod 166 and provided near lower end 216, with aperture 218 adapted to accept through pin 220, which is also further supported by aligned aperature 222 (FIG. 10) of arm 183. The lower edge of pawl 204 is configured with right angle notch 224, in forward end region 212, which joins an upwardly inclined forward surface 226 of a second longitudinal notch 228. Lifting roller 230, centrally positioned within notch 228, is attached by central pin 232 to vertically disposed angular bracket 234, supported by intermediate transverse angle 170. When power is applied to solenoid 210, in a manner to be described, armature 208 is extended to the left, the position shown in FIG. 12. Forward notch 224 is held in spring biased engagement with pin 230 by tension spring 236 attached through aperture 238 in forward end region 212 of pawl 204. Once solenoid 210 is deenergized, armature 208 of solenoid 210 is retracted by inner spring, not shown, and thus latch actuating rod 166 is turned counterclockwise by pawl 204. Accordingly, latch 172 of access door 128 (FIG. 11) is disengaged from striker plate 180 allowing door 128 to slide downward. As pawl 204 is being further retracted, lifting roller 232 engages inclined surface 226 of notch 228. This action lifts pawl 204 to disengage pin 220 from forward notch 224 and allows actuating rod 166, and thus latch 172, to return to the normal or unoperated position. Each of compartments 16 is closed at forward end 240 by two similar doors 242 and 244 (FIG. 16) which are pivotally suspended at the outer ends by hinges 246, attached to vertical side walls and 72 of compartments 16. Adjacent or mating edges 248 of doors 242 and 244 are configured to accept mechanical interlock arm assembly 248, to be further described, and are provided with similar mating notches 250 which are shaped into suitable finger grips.

Interlock arm assembly 248 (FIGS. 14, 15 and 16) includes rectangular mounting bracket 252 (FIG. 14), the rear portion of which is attached by bolts 256 to central upright member 258 of compartment 16. Interlock arm 260 includes elongated bar portion 262 provided with transverse rod 264 (FIGS. 14 and 15), centrally secured through aperture 266 near free end 268, which serves as operating handle. Arm 260 is pivotally attached by rivet 270 through a similar opening near opposite end 274 to mounting bracket 252, at an intermediate point near forward edge 276 of bracket 252. A second cross pin 278 adapted to support the lower end of springs 280 (FIG. 15) is attached through aperture 282 formed in the lower region of triangular lobe portion 284 of arm 260, being displaced in a counter clockwise direction, as viewed. in FIG. 14 with respect to bar portion 262. The upper ends of springs 280 are supported by similar transverse pin 286 attached through suitable aperture in bracket 252, which is vertically disposed above pivotal rivet 270 of arm 260.

By virtue of the placement of upper spring support pin 286 directly above its pivotal axis, arm 260 is spring biased, by tension springs 280, in a counterclockwise direction when operated downward as shown in FIG. 14. When fully operated to an outward position, as illustrated by phantom lines 288, arm 260 is biased in a clockwise direction, and has outer end 268 extended above upper edge 290 of access door 128, being limited in upward rotation by stop member 292 intergrally attached to. bracket 252 (FIG. 14). Accordingly, access door 128 cannot be closed when interlock arm 260 is thus extended.

A second safety feature is provided by compartment doors 242 and 244 (FIG. 16) which, when opened, extend outward through access opening 122, (FIG. 1), mechanically locking transport assembly 14. Compartment doors 242 and 244, once closed, are locked during the subsequent search phases of operation of storage 10 by interlock arm 260, as follows: When arm 260 is operated to the downward position (FIGS. 14 and 15) the outer end regions of cross pin 264 engage vertical straps 294, attached to inner surface of doors 242 and 244, and limit downward travel of arm 260. This action applies a closing force which holds doors 242 and 244 in mating contact with central upright member 258 of compartment 16.

Each of compartments 16 is equipped with cam 296 (FIG. 6), attached to upper rear structure 298 of compartment 16, which is laterally positioned to mate with one of normally closed microswitches 300 the purpose of which will be described. Microswitches 300 are supported in a spaced relationship by transverse angle bracket 302, attached by means now shown, inside frame 38 of rear vertical space 24. Switches 300 are attached at an elevation so as to be opened by mating cam 296 of the selected compartment 16 when it is correctly positioned, by transport assembly 14 to mate with access opening 122.

Transport assembly 14 is programmed to automatically locate and correctly position a selected compartment 16 by storage control 304 (FIG. 18). Control 304 includes selector switch 306, having movable arm 308 being further designated as T connected through normally closed contacts T and T of limit switch 310, which is operated by cam 312 of access door 128 (FIG. 11). Contact T of limit switch 310 is then connected to movable contact T of control relay 314. Fixed contacts T through T of selector switch 306 are connected to movable contacts T of microswitches 316 through 325, respectively, being operated, as described above, by cams 296 of compartments 16 (FIG. 6). Stationary contacts T of microswitches 316 through 325 are connected in parallel to terminal A of 24 VAC winding 326 of transformer 327, and to contact T of momentary start switch 328. Contact T of start switch 328 is connected to both stationary contact T and to lead 330 of relay 314. The second lead 332 of relay 314 is series connected through leads 334 and 336, respectively, of motor contactor relay 338'to opposite terminal B of 24 VAC winding of transformer 326. One lead 340 of access door solenoid 210 is connected to contact T of door switch 342 and to movable contact T of relay 314. Contact T of switch 342 is connected in parallel with stationary contact T of relay 314 and to terminal D of 220 VAC power source. Opposite lead 344 of solenoid 210 is connected to neutral terminal E of power source. Leads 346 and 348 of drive motor 350, being connected in parallel with leads 352 and 354, respectively, of brake solenoid 53, are further connected to movable contacts T and T of motor contactor relay 338. Fixed contacts T and T of relay 338 are connected in parallel with primary leads 358 and 360 of transformer 327 and to movable arms T, and T respectively, of power switch 362. Stationary contacts T and T of power switch 362 are in turn connected to the 220 VAC input power terminals D and F, respectively.

SYSTEM OPERATION The operating controls which include selector switch pointer 364, start button 366 and access door button 368 (FIG. 18) are physically located at a convenient level along front wall 124 of cabinet enclosure 30 (FIG. 1). In order to demonstrate how storage 10 operates in normal usage, it is assumed that some article is to be stored in a selected compartment 16. It is further assumed-that power switch 362 (FIG. 18) has previously been closed, and access door 128 (FIG. 11) is latched, closing limit switch 310. First, selector switch 306, which has ten positions as illustrated in FIG. 18, numbered in accordance with the mounting sequence of compartments 16 (FIG. 1), is set to recall a selected compartment 16 for example, the compartment recalled by switch position 2. Start button 366 is then momentarily operated. 24 VAC power is thus applied from terminal A of 24V winding of transformer 326 through contacts T and T of start switch 328 and series connected relays 314 and 338 to terminal B of 24V power, to close relays 314 and 338. When start button 366 is released, opening contacts T 1 and T of switch 328, 24 volts from terminal A of winding 326 is now applied through a parallel circuit as follows. Terminal A is now connected through closed contacts T and T of microswitch 317, contacts T and T of selector switch 306, contacts T and T of limit switch 310 and the now closed contacts T and T of control relay 314, and finally to lead 330 of control relay 314. This circuit, of course, then locks series-connected relays 314 and 338 in an energized condition. Access door solenoid 210 (FIG. 12) is actuated by 1 10 V power which is applied through the now closed contacts T and T of control relay 314. 220 VAC from input power terminals D and F is supplied to drive motor 350 and to magnetic brake solenoid 53 through the closed contacts T and T and T and T respectively, of motor contactor relay 338. Accordingly, magnetic brake 51 (FIG. 1) is released and compartments 16 are moved in a counterclockwise direction as viewed in FIG. 1, about rectangular space 12 by endless chains 32 and 34, being powered by drive assembly 58. When the selected compartment reaches a position of alignment with access opening 122, microswitch 317 is opened by cam 296 at the rear of compartment 16 (FIG. 6) disconnecting 24 volt power and deenergizing relays 314 and 338. Power is thus removed from drive motor 350 and brake solenoid 53 is de-energized to immediately apply a braking action to drive shaft 50 (FIG. 1). Access door solenoid 210 is deenergized and armature 208 retracts (FIG. 12), in a manner heretofore described, to release access door 128.

Compartment doors 242 and 244 (FIG. 16) are now opened in an obvious manner by raising interlock arm 260while swinging doors 242 and 244 outward through access opening 122, in a manner as previously described. When the article has been placed in the selected compartment 16 and compartment doors 242 and 244 and access door 128 have been closed, any other compartment 16 may be automatically selected in a similar manner. If it is desired to regain access to this same compartment, access door switch 342 is pushed and released .to again cycle solenoid 210 and unlock access door 128.

From the foregoing description, it will be appreciated that this invention provides a new and unique approach to storage and retrieval of stored articles. It has application both in the home and in all types of commercial and public enterprises. It has application both to instances where articles are to be retrieved at a single location or at a number of locations.

What is claimed is:

l. A random access storage system adapted to make available one of a plurality of selected storage compartments at at least one discrete access location comprising:

a rectangular track assembly positioned generally in a vertical plane comprising:

a pair of spaced endless chains adapted to be moved around said track assembly,

support means for rotatably supporting said chains and driving at least one of said chains for movement in a rectangular path, and

a pair of upper spaced rails horizontally positioned and comprising an upper portion of track assembly adjacent said chains and a pair of lower spaced rails horizontally positioned and comprising a lower portion of track assembly adjacent said chains;

a plurality of storage compartments including means for pivotally attaching said compartments to said chains, and means for supporting said compartments on said rails during horizontal travel of said compartments, whereby said compartments are vertically supported during horizontal travel by said rails and vertically supported by said chains during vertical travel as said compartments progress around said track assembly;

guide means including stationary members and members attached to'each of said compartments for maintaining level suspension of each said compartment as it traverses around the rectangular travel of said system;

control means including selection means for selecting one of said compartments and coding means responsive to compartment position and responsive to the setting of said selection means for operating and halting said chains and thereby halting a selected compartment at a said access location; and

a central enclosure conforming to the interior sides of said track assembly and an access door in said enclosure positioned at said access location and including interlock means connected to said door and said control means for enabling the operation of said chains only when said door is closed.

2. A random access storage compartment system as set forth in claim 1 wherein said enclosure comprise at least one wall of a room and the horizontal length of said track are each at least as long as each of the vertical lengths of said tracks.

3. A random access storage system adapted to make available one of a plurality of selected storage compartments at at least one discrete access location comprising:

a rectangular track assembly positioned generally in a vertical plane comprising:

a pair of spaced endless chains adapted to be moved around said track assembly,

support means for rotatably supporting said chains and driving at least one of said chains for movement in a rectangular path, and

a pair of upper spaced rails horizontally positioned and comprising an upper portion of track assembly adjacent said chains and a pair of lower spaced rails horizontallypositioned and comprising a lower portion of track assembly adjacent said chains;

a plurality of storage compartments including means for pivotally attaching said compartments to said chains, and means for supporting said compartments on said rails during horizontal travel of said compartments, whereby said compartments are vertically supported during horizontal travel by said rails and vertically supported by said chains during vertical travel as said compartments progress around said track assembly;

guide means including stationary members and members attached to each of said compartments for maintaining level suspension of each said compartment as it traverses around the rectangular travel of said system;

control means including selection means for selecting one of said compartments and coding means responsive to compartment position and responsive to the setting of said selection means for operating and halting said chains and thereby halting a selected compartment at a said access location; and

braking means responsive to said control means and a selected compartment arriving at a said access location for immediately applying a braking force to said chains whereby said chains are abruptly brought to a halt with a selected compartment precisely positioned at said access location'and said braking means comprising an electromagnet positioned to magnetically grab at least one of said chains upon being energized.

4. A random access storage system adapted to make available one of a plurality of selected storage compartments at at least one discrete access location comprising:

a rectangular track assembly positioned generally in a vertical plane comprising:

a pair of spaced endless chains adapted to be moved around said track assembly,

support means for rotatably supporting said chains and driving at least one of said, chains for movement in a rectangular path, and

a pair of upper spaced rails horizontally positioned and comprising an upper portion of track assembly adjacent said chains and a pair of lower spaced rails horizontally positioned and comprising a lower portion of track assembly adjacent said chains;

a plurality of storage compartments including means for pivotally attaching said compartments to said chains, and means for supporting said compartments on said rails during horizontal travel of said compartments, whereby said compartments are vertically supported during horizontal travel by said rails and vertically supported by said chains during vertical travel as said compartments progress around said track assembly;

guide means including stationary members and members attached to each of said compartments for maintaining level suspension of each said compartment as it traverses around the rectangular travel of said system;

control means including selection means for selecting one of said compartments and coding means responsive to compartment position and responsive to the setting of said selection means for operating and halting said chains and thereby halting a selected compartment at a said access location; guide means including a guide surface on said compartments and a stationary guide surface for slidable engagement therewith for maintaining said compartments in a lateral, upright position during both horizontal and vertical travel, and wherein: said guide surfaces on each compartment include a vertical guide member on at least one sup ported side of the compartment and a horizontal tively.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US1856876 *Oct 11, 1929May 3, 1932Westinghouse Electric & Mfg CoGarage elevator
US1870069 *Jul 15, 1927Aug 2, 1932Westinghouse Electric & Mfg CoAuto-parking and storage system
US2194912 *Sep 25, 1937Mar 26, 1940Lamson CoConveyer
US3315767 *Nov 12, 1964Apr 25, 1967Armor Elevator Company IncSliding elevator and hatchway door operator
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4650264 *Dec 10, 1984Mar 17, 1987Spacesaver CorporationControl system for vertical storage equipment
US5419457 *Aug 30, 1993May 30, 1995Electrocom Gard Ltd.System for sorting mail pieces on multiple levels and a method for performing the same
US5901830 *Jan 22, 1997May 11, 1999Electrocom Automation, L.P.Bi-directional belt sorter
US6202359 *Dec 18, 1998Mar 20, 2001Don ReedUnder floor storage system for building
US6474521Oct 27, 2000Nov 5, 2002James O. YoungMultiple-compartment storage chest for vehicles
Classifications
U.S. Classification312/268, 414/252, 198/794
International ClassificationB65G1/12, B65G1/127
Cooperative ClassificationB65G1/127
European ClassificationB65G1/127