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PORTABLE ELECTRONIC DEVICE WITH
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 5
1. Technical Field
The present invention relates to electronic and data processing devices and systems, and more particularly relates to portable electronic and data processing devices and systems with built-in expansion and retraction capability. 10
2. Description of Related Art
Technological advances in the computer and communication industry have resulted in improved integration capabilities. For example, integrated circuit densities are increas- 15 ing which allow more functionality to be packaged into integrated circuit (IC) devices. This allows computers and other types of electronic devices to be built with fewer discreet components than previously required. Fewer components means that the resulting product can be packaged in 2Q a smaller package. Laptop computers weighing 5 pounds and less have computing capability similar to that of mainframe computers that existed twenty years ago. Personal digital assistants and cell phones, both of which have built in computational capability, can easily fit in a shirt pocket 2J using today's technology.
This increase in electronic packaging density is not without problems, however. Heat dissipation is rapidly becoming a critical limiting factor in system design, potentially limiting the ability to achieve full size reduction due to physical 30 mass requirements for dissipation of heat generated by the electronic device.
In addition, some devices cannot take full advantage of electronic packaging shrinkage due to the human factor effect, where a device must maintain a certain physical size 35 to allow ease of human interaction. Cell phones with keyboards are an example where a device cannot be shrunk to its absolute smallest physical size, but rather must maintain a certain physical mass to allow a user to conveniently input keystrokes on the keyboard. While certain of these devices, 40 such as personal digital assistants, have attempted to overcome this hurdle by eliminating the keyboard, they have introduced their own problems by requiring a user to learn a new input language that allows interaction via a touch sensitive display screen. 45
Another concern with shrinkage of physical packaging is the loss of system configuration capability. For example, many types of personal computers are built with a tower type of chassis. The tower chassis has many different physical compartments, allowing for a single style of tower to support 50 many different types of computer configurations. Drive bays can be populated with a mixture of hard disk drives, floppy disk drives, compact disk drives, DVD drives, etc., allowing for a computer system to be customizable for a particular application. Numerous card slots on a motherboard con- 55 tained with the tower chassis are user accessible, allowing a user to further configure/customize their system to include different types of adapter cards such as display adapters, SCSI adapters, USB adapters, network adapters, modems, etc. Some of the flexibility provided by these tower chassis 60 is lost when a user instead uses a portable electronic device such as a laptop computer. Laptops (and portable electronic devices in general) have limited upgrade capabilities. For example, a laptop may allow an installed floppy disk drive to be removed and replaced with a CD drive. PCMCIA cards 65 also allow for limited add-on capability, such as by connecting an external hard disk drive to the laptop using a USB
adapter that is PCMCIA compatible. However, the number of available PCMCIA slots is typically limited to one or two in current laptop computers. Docking stations have been introduced to partially mitigate this loss of upgradeability and functionality, where a laptop is docked into the docking station when a user is in their office or home. This docking station may provide functionality that is available to the user, but only while their laptop is actually docked in the station. Other types of portable electronic devices, such as digital cameras, cell phones, etc. generally only have a memory expansion slot. Thus, as devices get smaller and smaller, their adaptability and configurability is similarly reduced. The present invention is directed to solving these problems.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention is directed to a portable device that has improved configurability and adaptability. The portable device has a case or chassis that can be placed in either an open or closed position, to thereby allow for insertion and removal of other devices within the portable device. When increased functionality is required or desired, the device's case is expanded by placing it in an open position, to allow additional devices to be operated in conjunction with the portable device. These devices can provide various types of electronic or computer operations, such ma electronic adapters or media drives, as well as mechanical operations such as air movement with one or more additional fans or other types of heat sink. When decreased functionality is required or desired, such as to reduce the overall size and weight of the portable device, the device's case is contracted by placing it in a closed position. This allows on-demand expansion and contraction capability for the portable device. The expandable case provides dual functionality by also providing improved cooling for the portable device when in an open position.
The novel features believed characteristic of the invention are set forth in the appended claims. The invention itself, however, as well as a preferred mode of use, further objectives and advantages thereof, will best be understood by reference to the following detailed description of an illustrative embodiment when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein:
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 shows a typical portable electronic device. FIG. 2 shows a portable electronic device having a
collapsible/expandable chassis in an expanded position. FIGS. 3«-3c show side views of the portable electronic
device with collapsible/expandable chassis in a fully
expanded, rear expanded and front expanded position,
FIG. 4 shows a top view of the lower expandable collapsible portion, and further shows a plurality of device bays contained therein.
FIGS. 5a-5b show front views of the collapsible/ expandable chassis, in a fully expanded and fully collapsed position, respectively.
FIGS. 6«-6c show side views of the collapsible/ expandable chassis in a fully expanded, rear expanded and front expanded position, respectively.
FIGS, la-lb show front and back views, respectively, of the expandable chassis with its associated installed devices.
FIGS. 8a-8b show a front view of the collapsible/ expandable chassis, in a fully expanded and fully collapsed position, respectively, and having hinged fans attached to the bottom of the chassis.
FIG. 9 shows a front view of the collapsible/expandable chassis, in a fully collapsed position, with device bays.
FIGS. 10fl-10fc show a front view of the collapsible/ expandable chassis, in a fully expanded and fully collapsed position, respectively, and having a hinged board/backplane 5 attached to the bottom of the chassis.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE
Referring now to FIG. 1, there is shown one type of 10 portable device to which the present invention pertains. However, it should be noted that the present invention is applicable to many different types of portable electronic devices, such as cellular phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), global positioning satellite (GPS) devices, digital 15 cameras, wristwatch computers, etc., and combinations of one or more of the above packaged together with one another. Continuing with FIG. 1, there is shown in the preferred embodiment a laptop computer 10, having a case or chassis 12, and an upper cover 14 pivotally attached to the 20 chassis 12 along hinge 18. The upper cover 14 contains a display 16, such as a liquid crystal diode (LCD) display. Computer 10 may optionally contain a keyboard 20, although not required, as user input operations to computer 10 could also be made through a touch sensitive LCD 25 display 16 using either a finger or stylus, for example.
Case 12 typically contains additional electronic components that make up the computer, such as a main electronic board (not shown, since it's inside the case), sometimes called a motherboard, and various peripheral devices such as a floppy disk drive 22, compact disc (CD) drive 24, one or more battery packs (not shown), and other types of I/O adapter cards such as PCMCIA form factor cards that are pluggable into computer 10 at 26 to provide further I/O functionality such as a universal serial bus (USB) interface, wireless or wired network attachment, and the like. Due to the ever increasing types of new I/O devices that are being introduced into the marketplace at an ever increasing rate, it is easy for computer 10 to have all available expansion and I/O ports filled with adapters and other types of devices, such that it is not possible to add a new device without removal of an existing adapter/device.
Referring now to FIG. 2, there is shown a portable device 10 having an expandable case or chassis 30, which comprises a fixed portion 32 and a collapsible/expandable portion 28. The features and functionality provided by portion 28 are many and varied. When in an expanded mode of operation, portion 28 provides additional chassis space that may be used to support additional media drives, memory such as DRAM or flash memory, I/O adapters, or other types of devices such as battery packs or cooling fans. Alternatively, portion 28 could be placed in a collapsible mode, where a user wants to decrease the size and weight of the portable device in certain situations such as when traveling. In this case, the additional devices in portion 28 are removed, and portion 28 is collapsed to be inside fixed portion 32, as will be further described below.
Additionally, the expanded mode of operation can be used to improve passive cooling of computer 10, whereby collapsible/expandable portion 28 is locked in an expanded position, but instead of adding additional devices into the additional chassis space, the space is left vacant to create a greater amount of air surface for electronic components within the computer.
Referring now to FIGS. 3«-3c, various configurations of collapsible/expandable portion 28 are shown. Each view
shows a case or chassis 30 comprising an upper portion 32 and lower portion 28 having a front side 34 and a back side 36, and an upper cover 14 pivotally attached by hinge 18. In FIG. 3a, lower collapsible/expandable portion 28 is shown to be fully extended, where both the front side 34 and back side 36 are extended downward from upper portion 32 and locked into place with guide pins 62. In FIG. 3b, collapsible/ expandable portion 28 is shown to be partially extended, where back portion 36 is extended downward from fixed portion 32, but the front portion is not extended downward. Front portion pivots about pin 62 to allow the back portion to extend downward. In FIG. 3c, collapsible/expandable portion 28 is shown to be partially extended, where front portion 34 is extended downward from fixed portion 32, but the rear portion is not extended downward. Rear portion pivots about pin 62 to allow the front portion to extend downward.
This type of collapsible/expandable operation is particularly useful when lower portion 28 is internally divided into a series of device bays running along both the front and back. In the position shown in FIG. 3a, all internal bays in both the front and the back of portion 28 would be user accessible. In the position shown in FIG. 3b, the internal bays in the back of portion 28 would be user accessible, and likewise, when in the position shown in FIG. 3c, the internal bays in the front of portion 28 would be user accessible.
One exemplary layout for such internal bays is shown in FIG. 4, which is a top view of the lower collapsible/ expandable portion 28. It is shown in the preferred embodiment as having three internal bays 40, 42, 44 located along the front side 34 of lower portion 28, and three internal bays 46,48,50 located along the back side 36 of lower portion 28. These bays are used to hold the additional devices to be added to computer 10 when in a partial or full extended mode of operation. The bays preferably contain at least one connector 52 for electrical connection of devices to computer 10. A circuit board with printed traces or a wiring harness is contained within raceway 54 to route signals and power to/from the individual connectors 52 and other components contained within computer 10. While six (6) bays are shown in the preferred embodiment, the present invention is meant to cover differing bay configurations, such as a single row accessible from the front, and single row accessible from the rear, one or more rows accessible from the side, and any number of device bays that be physically accommodated in portion 28.
Collapsible/expandable portion 28 is mechanically configured to an open or closed position using any one of numerous types of mechanical means, such as along a substantially linear cam track/path with detent guide pins. Referring now to FIG. 5a, a front internal view of expandable chassis 30 is shown in a fully open position. Affixed near the front of both the left and right sides of lower portion 28 is a cam track/path 60 such as an elongated piece of stainless steel (as shown in FIG. 6), and having various detent holes 64 for positive engagement with the detent pin 62 when in a closed/locked position. A detent pin 62 extends through both of the front left and front right sides of upper portion 32 and lower portion 28, as shown in FIG. 6a, to positively engage with each of the front cam track/paths 60. These cam tracks and detent pins are used to expand and collapse the front portion of expandable chassis 30. An identical set of cam tracks/paths and detent pins are provided at the rear of the collapsible/expandable portion 28 and fixed portion 32, respectively, to expand and collapse the rear portion of expandable chassis 30.
FIG. 5b shows chassis 30 in a retracted position, where expandable/retractable portion 28 is held within fixed por