News Column

Researchers Submit Patent Application, "Multi-Position Duckhead Adapter Plugs and Associated Moveable Plug Assemblies", for Approval

September 9, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Information Technology Newsweekly -- From Washington, D.C., VerticalNews journalists report that a patent application by the inventor Wallace, Donald L. (Temple, TX), filed on February 20, 2013, was made available online on August 28, 2014.

The patent's assignee is Dell Products L.P.

News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "As the value and use of information continues to increase, individuals and businesses seek additional ways to process and store information. One option available to users is information handling systems. An information handling system generally processes, compiles, stores, and/or communicates information or data for business, personal, or other purposes thereby allowing users to take advantage of the value of the information. Because technology and information handling needs and requirements vary between different users or applications, information handling systems may also vary regarding what information is handled, how the information is handled, how much information is processed, stored, or communicated, and how quickly and efficiently the information may be processed, stored, or communicated. The variations in information handling systems allow for information handling systems to be general or configured for a specific user or specific use such as financial transaction processing, airline reservations, enterprise data storage, or global communications. In addition, information handling systems may include a variety of hardware and software components that may be configured to process, store, and communicate information and may include one or more computer systems, data storage systems, and networking systems.

"AC power adapter plugs are often employed to couple an AC mains power receptacle to provide power to an information handling system or other type of electrically powered device. Such AC power adapter plugs are often provided with power prongs that are configured and dimensioned for insertion into corresponding connector openings (slots or sockets) of an AC wall power receptacle. An AC power adapter plug may or may not include internal power conversion circuitry, e.g., such as AC to universal serial bus (USB) power conversion circuitry that converts AC mains power to appropriate DC power for powering an information handling system or other electrical device. Some AC power adapter plugs are configured simply as a power plug for coupling to separate AC to DC power conversion circuitry or to provide unconverted AC mains power to an information handling system or other electrical device.

"Most conventional duckhead adapters are configured either as a fixed single position assembly or as a two position assembly having single axis movement. Such conventional AC power duckhead adapter plugs are typically configured as a two or three position plug assembly that includes a stationary housing containing a movable plug portion having a nonconductive cross bar and two metal power prongs that are configured to be received in respective corresponding openings of an AC wall power receptacle. The movable plug portion may be movable together with its power prongs between two or three different positions (such as storage and deployed prong positions). In such a conventional adapter plug assembly, contact between the movable power prongs and internal contacts of the stationary housing is typically not very robust and the mechanical movement of the plug portion is typically rough and awkward. Such conventional configurations also typically experience excessive wear of metal-to-metal contacts between the stationary and movable portions of the plug assembly. Some conventional plug designs also have openings or slots into which small metal objects can fall."

As a supplement to the background information on this patent application, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventor's summary information for this patent application: "Multi-position duckhead adapter plugs and associated moveable plug assemblies are disclosed herein that are provided for coupling an electrically powered device such as an information handling system to an AC mains power receptacle or other type of electrical receptacle. As disclosed herein, a multi-position duckhead adapter plug may utilize electrically-conductive prongs configured and dimensioned for insertion into corresponding electrically-conductive sockets (connectors) of an electrical receptacle. In one exemplary embodiment, a multi-position duckhead AC adapter power plug may be configured with conductive power prongs for insertion into respective electrically-conductive sockets of an AC mains power receptacle to electrically connect AC mains power to an AC adapter power plug. Such an AC adapter power plug may in turn be configured for electrical coupling to an electrically powered device, e.g., by electrical conductors of a power cable. The conductive power prongs of the adapter plug may be mounted in a moveable plug assembly that is at least partially spherical (e.g., semi-spherical, completely spherical, ball-shaped, etc.) and that is rotatably received in a stationary adapter housing.

"As further disclosed herein, the movable plug assembly of an adapter plug may be provided with multiple detents that are configured as electrically conductive features and/or as locking features on an external substantially spherical surface of the at least partially spherical moveable plug assembly. In this regard, detents may be provided for purposes of locking the moveable plug assembly in different positions relative to the stationary housing and/or for purposes of making electrical contact with corresponding conductive and/or locking features or (e.g., resilient locking features) of the stationary housing. In one exemplary embodiment, plug assembly detents may be optionally configured as conductive support features that are configured to mate with corresponding mating housing conductive support features in order to rotatably support the movable plug assembly within a cavity of a stationary adapter housing. In another exemplary embodiment, plug assembly detents may be provided that are configured to mate with one or more corresponding mating housing locking features (e.g., resilient locking features) provided within a stationary adapter housing cavity.

"Shape and size of locking detents provided on a movable plug assembly may be of any size and or shape (i.e., detent profile) suitable for cooperatively mating with an adapter housing locking feature to lock the moveable plug assembly in one or more positions relative to the stationary housing. Similarly, shape and size of electrical contact detents provided on a movable plug assembly may be of any size and or shape (i.e., detent profile) suitable for cooperatively mating with an adapter housing conductive feature to make an electrical connection between electrically-conductive components of the stationary housing and electrically conductive components of the movable plug assembly. Suitable shapes or detent profiles for locking detents and electrical contact detents include, but are not limited to, spherical, oval, irregular, etc. It is also possible that sizes and/or shapes of different individual locking detents and/or electrical contact detents may vary relative to each other on a given movable plug assembly. Additionally, it is possible that one or more detents on a movable plug assembly may be configured to function as both a locking detent and an electrical contact detent.

"In one exemplary embodiment, an at least partially spherical moveable plug assembly may be provided with electrical contact detents that are configured to mate with corresponding stationary housing internal electrical contacts (e.g., electrical pin contacts suspended by electrical contact arms) and locking detents that are configured to mate with resilient locking features (e.g., spring-loaded locking pins) to hold or lock the movable plug assembly in a selected position relative to the stationary adapter housing. The at least partially spherical moveable plug assembly may be further provided with conductive power prongs (e.g., metal power prongs) that are coupled to the electrical contact detents via conductive leads. The conductive power prongs, conductive leads, electrical contact detents, and locking detents may be mounted (e.g., molded, embedded, etc.) into the at least partially spherical body of the moveable plug assembly. The body of the at least partially spherical moveable plug assembly may be constructed of an electrically insulating plastic, for example, a moldable plastic such as thermoset plastic, thermoplastic, etc.

"In one embodiment, conductive prongs may be mounted into the body of the moveable plug assembly to provide increased mechanical support for the conductive prongs than is typically possible with conventional moveable plug assembly configurations. In another embodiment, the disclosed at least partially spherical moveable plug assembly may be provided in a configuration that is capable of moving within a stationary plug housing from one plug position to another with greater smoothness than is possible with conventional moveable plug assemblies. This increased smoothness may translate into less wear experienced over time between mating stationary and movable electrical surfaces of the adapter plug, i.e., between the internal contacts of the stationary housing system and the electrical contact detents of the at least partially spherical moveable plug assembly.

"In another embodiment, the number and/or configuration (e.g., dimensions and/or shape) of locking detents provided on the surface of an at least partially spherical moveable plug assembly may be varied to selectively increase or decrease the amount of force required to move the moveable plug assembly from one locked position to another within the stationary housing by reducing or increasing the number of provided locking detents. Further, location/s of electrical contact detents provided on the surface of an at least partially spherical moveable plug assembly may be varied as appropriate to fit different given possible implementations and configurations of power prongs within the plug assembly. Configuration of stationary housing internal electrical contacts within the housing (e.g., such as shape of electrical contact arms and corresponding pins) may also be varied to accommodate the desired location/s of electrical contact detents on the surface of the moveable plug assembly. A substantially rectangular prong base may also be provided in one exemplary embodiment to extend outward from the circumferential periphery of an at least partially spherical moveable plug assembly to partially surround and/or at least partially support the power prongs of the moveable plug assembly, and also to function as a guide for the movement of the power prongs relative to the stationary housing. Such a prong base may also be configured in one exemplary embodiment to help minimize any gaps between moving parts of the multi-position duckhead adapter plug.

"In one respect, disclosed herein is a multi-position duckhead adapter plug, including a stationary adapter housing having a housing cavity defined therein. The stationary adapter housing may include one or more stationary housing conductive features provided on one or more internal sides of the housing cavity, each one of the housing conductive features being configured for coupling to an electrically-powered device by a respective electrical conductor. The adapter plug may also include a moveable plug assembly rotatably received within the housing cavity of the stationary adapter housing. The moveable plug assembly may include an at least partially spherical plug assembly body, one or more plug assembly conductive electrical contact detents provided on the plug assembly body, and one or more electrically-conductive prongs extending outwardly from the at least partially spherical plug assembly body. Each of the prongs may be electrically coupled to a respective one of the plug assembly conductive electrical contact detents and also be configured and dimensioned for insertion into a corresponding electrically-conductive socket. Each given one of the stationary housing conductive features may be mated with a corresponding one of the plug assembly conductive detents to electrically couple the given one of the stationary housing conductive features to a corresponding one of the prongs.

"In another respect, disclosed herein is a moveable plug assembly, including: an at least partially spherical plug assembly body, one or more plug assembly conductive electrical contact detents provided on the plug assembly body, and one or more electrically-conductive prongs extending outwardly from the at least partially spherical plug assembly body. Each of the prongs may be electrically coupled to a respective one of the plug assembly conductive electrical contact detents and may be configured and dimensioned for insertion into a corresponding electrically-conductive socket. The moveable plug assembly may be configured to be rotatably received within a housing cavity of a stationary adapter housing, and each given one of the plug assembly electrical contact detents may be configured to mate with a corresponding stationary housing conductive feature when the movable plug assembly is rotatably received within the housing cavity.

"In another respect, disclosed herein is a multi-position duckhead adapter plug, including a stationary adapter housing having a housing cavity defined therein. The stationary adapter housing may include one or more stationary housing conductive features provided on one or more internal sides of the housing cavity, each one of the housing conductive features being configured for coupling to an electrically-powered device by a respective electrical conductor. The stationary adapter housing may also include at least one stationary housing locking feature provided on at least one internal side of the housing cavity. The adapter plug may also include a moveable plug assembly rotatably received within the housing cavity of the stationary adapter housing. The moveable plug assembly may include an at least partially spherical plug assembly body; one or more electrically-conductive prongs extending outwardly from the at least partially spherical plug assembly body, each of the prongs being electrically coupled within the housing cavity to a respective one of the stationary housing conductive features and being configured and dimensioned for insertion into a corresponding electrically-conductive socket; and at least one plug assembly locking detent provided on the plug assembly body. The at least one plug assembly locking detent may be configured to releasably mate with the at least one stationary housing locking feature to releasably lock the moveable plug assembly in at least one pre-determined position within the cavity of the adapter housing.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

"FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of a multi-position duckhead adapter plug according to one exemplary embodiment.

"FIG. 2 illustrates a perspective view of a multi-position duckhead adapter plug according to one exemplary embodiment.

"FIG. 3 illustrates a perspective view of a multi-position duckhead adapter plug according to one exemplary embodiment.

"FIG. 4 illustrates a perspective partial cut-away view of a stationary adapter housing according to one exemplary embodiment.

"FIG. 5 illustrates the assembled operative relationship between a movable plug assembly and electrical components of a stationary adapter housing according to one exemplary embodiment.

"FIG. 6 illustrates a partial cut-away side view of a movable plug assembly stationary adapter housing according to one exemplary embodiment.

"FIG. 7 illustrates a partial cut-away side view of a movable plug assembly stationary adapter housing according to one exemplary embodiment.

"FIGS. 8A-8D illustrate multiple views of a moveable plug assembly according to one exemplary embodiment.

"FIG. 9 illustrates a perspective view of different multi-position duckhead Adapter plugs according to different exemplary embodiments."

For additional information on this patent application, see: Wallace, Donald L. Multi-Position Duckhead Adapter Plugs and Associated Moveable Plug Assemblies. Filed February 20, 2013 and posted August 28, 2014. Patent URL: http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=2616&p=53&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=20140821.PD.&OS=PD/20140821&RS=PD/20140821

Keywords for this news article include: Dell Products L.P., Information Technology, Information and Data Storage.

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Source: Information Technology Newsweekly


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