VEHICLE CUP HOLDER CELL PHONE MOUNT
A vehicle cup holder cell phone mount has a base with a downwardly and inwardly tapering surface of rotation around a vertical axis. A pier stands up from a top of the base and a cell phone mounting bracket is pivotally mounted to the pier. The cell phone mounting bracket has adjustable jaws to fit cell phones of varying widths. The jaws always define an opening for a cell phone power/communications cable. One or more of a plurality of shells may be selectively assembled to the base. Each shell has a tapering surface of rotation around the axis. The shells are of different sizes. The user assembles from zero to (n) shells to the base, Russian-doll fashion, so as to optimally fit a particular vehicle cup holder. The user then wedges the assembly into the vehicle cup holder such that compressive force between the outermost tapering surface and the cup holder side wall securely holds the cell phone mount in place in the vehicle cup holder.
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- 10. Apparatus for mounting a cell phone to a vehicle cup holder, the apparatus comprising:
a base, a first outer surface of the base formed as a surface of rotation around an axis and being tapered downwardly and radially inwardly; a top lid forming a top of the base, the top lid having a top surface; a mounting pier upwardly extending from the top surface of the base; a cell phone mounting bracket rotatably affixed to the mounting pier and having first and second jaws, the first jaw having a first u-shaped channel with a first upper segment and the second jaw having a second u-shaped channel with a second upper segment disposed in parallel to the first upper segment, the second jaw movable in respect of the first jaw so that a width, taken perpendicularly to the axis, between the first upper segment and the second upper segment, may be selectable by a user so as to fit a width of a cell phone received by the cell phone mounting bracket, means for affixing the second jaw to the first jaw in any of a plurality of positions; the first u-shaped channel further having a first lower segment and the second u-shaped channel further having a second lower segment, the first and second lower segments being aligned with each other and disposed in a plane perpendicular to the base axis, the first and second lower segments adapted to hold a lower end of the cell phone.
- View Dependent Claims (11, 18, 19)
- 12. A method for mounting a cell phone to a substantially cylindrical vehicle cup holder having a radius, the method comprising the steps of:
affixing a cell phone mounting bracket to a top of a base, the base formed around an axis and having a first outer surface which is downwardly and inwardly tapered; providing (n) hollow, sequentially sized shells, each shell each being of a size that is different from any of the remaining ones of the (n) shells, (n) being an integer greater than or equal to 2, the hollow shells including at least first and second shells, each shell having an inner surface and having an outer surface formed as a surface of rotation around the axis, the respective outer surfaces of the shells being downwardly and inwardly tapered, the inner surface of a first shell of the (n) shells affixable to the first outer surface of the base, the inner surface of the (m+1)th shell being affixable to the outer surface of the (m)th shell, in being any of a range of integers between 2 and n, inclusive; ascertaining a radius of the vehicle cup holder; if the radius of the vehicle cup holder falls within a first predetermined range, press-fitting the first outer surface of the base to an inner wall of the vehicle cup holder; if the radius of the vehicle cup holder is greater than the first predetermined range; selecting one of then shells whose outer surface has a range of radii from the axis that includes a radius that best matches the radius of the cup holder, the selected shell being the sth shell, s being a value between 1 and n; affixing the inner surface of the first shell to the outer surface of the base; if the first shell is the sth shell, press-fitting the outer surface of the first shell to the inner wall of the vehicle cup holder; if the first shell is not the sth shell, then, for each of p shells, 2≤
s, affixing the inner surface of the pth shell to the outer surface of the (p−
1th) shell, incrementing p, and repeating the last said step of affixing, until p=s;
if s is greater than 1, press-fitting the outer surface of the sth shell to the inner wall of the vehicle cup holder; and mounting the cell phone to the cell phone mounting bracket.
- View Dependent Claims (12)
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Within the last two decades, cellular telephones (“cell phones”) have become ever more popular as their abilities have increased. In addition to being telephones, the now-common “smart phone” is a personal data assistant, a screen for photos and videos, an Internet browser, a text messager, a music player, an email portal, a method of payment, a map, a direction finder, a scanner, a camera and many other things. Because of their expanded functions, it has become common for people to carry their cell phones all of the time. Since for many people much of their day is spent inside of a vehicle, cell phone mounts have been developed that attach the cell phone to various locations in the vehicle interior, such as to the windshield, to a heating/air conditioning vent or to a cup holder.
Vehicle cup holders are now almost universally provided in vehicles, but they do not come in a uniform size. Vehicle cup holders typically are cylindrical or nearly so, so as to accommodate a variety of sizes of cans, bottles and cups, but their radii from a central axis significantly differ from one make of vehicle to another. Some vehicle cup holders further have inwardly projecting fingers meant to grip the sides of a beverage container. A successful cup holder cell phone mount will have a means to adjust it to fit any of a range of cup holder sizes, but at the same time should be inexpensive to manufacture and should be easy for an end user to deploy. The cup holder cell phone mount also should have a means for holding cell phones of different widths and for adjusting the angle of the cell phone screen for optimum viewing, and once installed should resist coming loose as a result of vibration, vehicle acceleration or deceleration or a vehicle change in direction.
According to one aspect of the invention, a vehicle cup holder cell phone mount is provided to mount a cell phone to any of a plurality of vehicle cup holders in a wide range of radial and depth sizes. The mount includes a base with a first outer surface preferably formed as a surface of rotation around a vertical axis. The first outer surface is generally downwardly and inwardly tapered. A cell phone holder is affixed to the top of the base. The mount also includes at least one hollow shell. A second outer surface of the shell is formed as a surface of rotation around the axis, and is generally inwardly and downwardly tapered. An inner surface of the shell, opposed to the second outer surface, may be releasably affixed to the first outer surface of the base.
In the illustrated embodiment, the user is provided with a plurality of shells in sequentially increasing radial sizes. To install the mount in a cup holder of a particular vehicle, the user ascertains the approximate radius or size of the vehicle cup holder. In some instances, the user will determine that he or she needs no shells at all, in which case none of the shells is assembled to the base and instead the base is directly press-fit into the vehicle cup holder. Otherwise, the user will select one of the shells as providing the best fit to the inner wall of the vehicle cup holder. This shell may be the first, second, third, fourth, etc. shell in a sequentially increasing range of sizes. The user affixes the first shell to the first surface of the base. If the first shell is the same as the selected shell, the user puts the other shells aside and press-fits the resulting base assembly into the vehicle cup holder. If the first shell is not the same as the selected shell, the user releasably affixes an inner surface of the second shell to the outer surface of the first shell. The user builds up the assembly in this fashion until the last shell assembled to the base assembly is the same as the selected shell. The user then press-fits the base assembly into the vehicle cup holder.
The base and shells of the mount are provided so as to fit a large range of vehicle cup holders. The vehicle cup holders vary in depth and diameter. Therefore, the dimensions of the outer surfaces of the base and shells are chosen such that a bottom of the base or a bottom of any employed shell will be spaced from a bottom of the vehicle cup holder. The degree of taper of the base outer surface and each of the shell outer surfaces is chosen to be greater than the range of taper or pitch encountered in the given range of vehicle cup holders. This dimensioning and specification of taper insure a tight and enduring frictional or interference fit between the employed base/shell outer surface and the vehicle cup holder inner side wall.
In another aspect of the invention, apparatus for mounting a cell phone to a vehicle cup holder has a base formed around an axis. A first outer surface of the base is adapted to be press-fit into a vehicle cup holder that falls within a predetermined range of sizes. A mounting pier extends upwardly from a top of the base. A cell phone mounting bracket is rotatably affixed to the pier and has first and second jaws. The first jaw has a first u-shaped channel with a first upper segment. The second jaw has a second u-shaped channel with a second upper segment, disposed in parallel and spaced from the first upper segment. The second jaw is movable with the respect to the first jaw so that a width, taken perpendicularly to the axis, between the first upper segment and the second upper segment may be adjustable by a user so as to fit a width of the cell phone to be mounted. Means are provided to affix the second jaw relative to the first jaw in any of a plurality of positions.
The first u-shaped channel further has a first lower segment and the second u-shaped channel has a second lower segment. The first and second lower segments are aligned with each other and are disposed in a plane perpendicular to the base axis. The first and second lower segments are adapted to hold a lower end of the cell phone. In one embodiment, there is a space in between a first inner end of the first lower segment and a second inner end of the second inner segment, even when the second jaw is moved to the closest position that it can take relative to the first jaw. The first and second inner ends define an access hole or opening between them, for a cell phone power/communications cable such as a firewire cable. Such cables are plugged into a port in a bottom edge of the cell phone.
Further aspects of the invention and their advantages can be discerned in the following detailed description as read in conjunction with the drawings of exemplary embodiments, in which like characters denote like parts and in which:
While the cell phone mount 108 is shown press-fit into the driver'"'"'s side cup holder 102, it may be used in any other cup holder within the interior of vehicle 100, of which a passenger'"'"'s side cup holder 104 is only one example. The mount 108 (or an additional copy thereof) could also be used to mount a cell phone to a cup holder in a second or third row of seats (not shown).
One embodiment of the cell phone mount 108 is shown in more detail in
As seen in
The base 200 has a first outer surface 302 that in the illustrated embodiment is formed as a surface of rotation around vertical axis X. Surface 302 is at least generally tapered inwardly and downwardly. In the illustrated embodiment, surface 302 is a frustum of a cone, such that an axial section of it shows a straight wall (see, e.g.,
An inner surface 308 of the second shell 204 may be removably affixed to the outer surface 306 of the first shell. The second shell 204 has an opposed, outer surface 310 that preferably is formed as a surface of rotation around axis X and in the illustrated embodiment is frustoconical. An inner surface 312 of the third shell 206 may be releasably affixed to the outer surface 310 of the second shell. The third shell 206 has an outer surface 314, opposed to inner surface 312, which preferably is formed as a surface of rotation around axis X and in the illustrated embodiment is frustoconical. An inner surface 316 of the fourth shell 208 is removably affixable to the outer surface 314 of the third shell 206. The fourth shell 208 has an outer surface 318, opposed to its inner surface 316. The outer surface 318 is preferably formed as a surface of rotation around axis X and in the illustrated embodiment is frustoconical.
In the illustrated embodiment, outer surfaces 306, 310, 314 and 318 all have a similar pitch or degree of taper, which matches the degree of taper of base outer surface 302. In the illustrated embodiment the inner surfaces 304, 308, 312 and 316 have a similar pitch or degree of taper and are substantially frustoconical. This matching of shape and pitch permits the shells to be selectively assembled to the base in “Russian doll” fashion, as the second and each subsequent shell will fit over the shell beneath it.
The degree of taper of the outer surfaces 302, 306, 310, 314 and 318 is chosen to be greater than the degree of taper or pitch of the vehicle cup holders into which they will be press-fit. The pitch of a typical original equipment manufacturer (OEM) vehicle cup holder is in the range of 0 to about 2½ degrees. Therefore, for the best press-fit or wedging effect, the degree of taper for surfaces 302, 306, 310, 314 and 318 is chosen to be in the range of about 3 degrees to about 15 degrees, more preferably in the range of about 3 degrees to about 9 degrees, and most preferably about 6 degrees.
The outer surfaces 302, 306, 310, 314 and 318 may take forms other than the frusta shown. Instead of the taper being at a fixed angle throughout the length of the outer surface, the amount of taper can change from one location on any of these outer surfaces to the next. The degree of taper at a particular point on an outer surface may vary smoothly as a function of the height of the point from the top 200. A smooth, monotonic variance in taper will produce a surface that is convexly or concavely curved.
Alternatively, any or all of these outer surfaces may be stepped. One stepped embodiment is shown in
The illustrated embodiments show base and shell outer surfaces that are formed as surfaces of rotation around a vertical axis. This does not need to be the case. Some vehicle manufacturers are now providing square cup holders, so that they can hold square juice boxes and the like. To fit these, the outer surfaces of the base and shells could have planar facets, orthogonal to a radius drawn from the vertical axis, positioned at 0, 90, 180, and 270 degrees around the vertical axis. The planar facets could be parallel to the axis or alternatively could be sloped after the fashion of a side of an inverted frustopyramid, so that the shell or base could be press-fit to any of a variety of juice box-containing square cup holders.
Means are provided for the inner surface of each hollow shell 202-208 to be removably fastened to the outer surface of the shell or base radially interior to it. In the embodiment illustrated in
The removable fastening of a shell to a surface interior to it could also be done by structures alternative to the ones shown, such as the structures shown in
Shells 202-208 have similar interacting pairs of continuous circumferential ribs that releasably affix any particular shell to the cup or shell radially interior to it. An internal circumferential rib 1908 of first shell 202 snaps over an external circumferential rib 1910 of cup 300. An internal circumferential rib 1912 of second shell 204 snaps over an external circumferential rib 1914 of shell 202. An internal circumferential rib 1916 of third shell 206 snaps over an external circumferential rib 1918 of second shell 204. Finally, an internal circumferential rib 1920 of fourth shell 208 snaps over an external circumferential rib 1922 of third shell 206. All of the affixation ribs on cup 300 and shells 202-208 preferably are located near the top end of the cup/shell side walls.
Since the outer surfaces of the illustrated inner cup 300 and shells 202-208 have a similar profile (in the illustrated embodiment, they are all linear in axial section), and are all at least generally downwardly and radially inwardly tapered, each of the shells 202-208 will fit to any of a respective predetermined range of cup holder sizes. For example, as seen in
The ranges in radii from the vertical axis to points on outer surfaces 302, 306, 310, 314 and 318 have a certain overlap from one outer surface to the next. In use, the user preferably selects the base 200, or one of the shells 202-208, which has a fitting radius highest up on the shell/base outer surface, for optimum stability.
Referring particularly to
In the illustrated embodiment, the cell phone mount 108 is meant to fit a range of cup holders that covers almost all of the cup holders now found in vehicles. The cup holder diameter dc, measured between opposed interior side walls of the cup holder 102 or between any inwardly extending cup-holding fingers or projections of such a cup holder, has been found to be in the range of about 2.8 to about 3.75 inches. The cup holder depth hc, vertically measured from cup holder top surface 1308 to the bottom surface 1312 of the cup holder 102, has been found to be in the range of about 1.5 to about 3.5 inches. Given these dimensional ranges, the outer surface vertical height hs of the base and shell outer surfaces should be chosen from the range of about 2 to about 3½ inches. The smallest diameter ds2 of outer surface 302 of base 200 should be chosen to be in the range of about 2.39 to about 2.5 inches. The largest diameter ds1, taken at the topmost end of the outer shell surface 318 (in
With reference to
In the illustrated embodiment, and as best seen in
The pier plate 426 has been thickened so as to define a hexagonally shaped opening 1402 that closely receives hex head 1404 of the screw 1400, thereby preventing the threaded shaft 1398 from turning. A fluted knob 436, which may be fabricated with nylon and which may have a threaded metal insert 1405, is threaded onto threaded shaft 1398. Tightening knob 436 will compress plates 432 and 434 against pier plates 426, 428 and 430, fixing in place a mounting bracket back plate 438 relative to axis 216 and controlling one axis of adjustment of the cell phone screen relative to the user.
As best seen in
As seen in
As seen in
As shown in
As used with other cup holders, there could be a deformation of the cup holder side wall 1302 in addition to or instead of shell or base wall 1303. In other embodiments, there could be no deformation of either structure, particularly if the base 200, shells 202-208 and cup holder 102 are constructed of more rigid, less elastic materials.
At step 1706, the user ascertains the size or radius of the vehicle cup holder. At step 1708, it may be the case that the cup holder 102 has a relatively small radius within a first range and that no shells will be used in mounting the phone C to the cup holder 102. In that case, at 1710, the user press-fits the base 200 to the cup holder 102, and the process proceeds by line 1712 to step 1736. If the cup holder 102 is of a moderate or large size, the process proceeds to step 1714, at which the user selects a shell s as best fitting to the vehicle cup holder inner wall. This may be performed, for example, by a test fitting. Several shells may fit to the cup holder inner wall, but the user should select the shell s that engages the cup holder wall at the highest point on its outer surface.
Next, and at step 1716, the user affixes the first shell 202 to the base 200. At decision step 1718, it is determined whether the first shell 202 is the same as the best-fitting shell s, meaning that only the first shell will be used in the resulting inner cup/shell assembly. If this is the case, the process proceeds by path 1720 to step 1734.
If even more shells will be necessary to best fit to the cup holder 102, then at step 1722 (and in the pseudocode language used in
At step 1726, variable p (identifying the shell presently being handled by the user) is compared with variable s (identifying the shell that best fits the cup holder 102). If these are now the same, the assembly is complete and the process proceeds by line 1728 to step 1734. If shell s has not yet been added to the assembly, then the process branches at line 1730 and p is incremented by 1 at step 1732. The process then loops back to step 1724, at which another shell is added to the assembly. This loop iterates until the current shell p is the same as the best-fitting shell s.
At step 1734, the user has built an assembly that will include base 200 and one or more of the shells 202-208 (or more, in embodiments providing more than four shells). This assembly is then press-fit into the cup holder, to assume a disposition as shown in
At step 1736, a cell phone C, possibly with a power/communications cord 112 attached (see
At step 1742, the user adjusts the screen of the cell phone so that it is pointed in an optimum direction. To adjust the plane of the cell phone screen relative to vertical axis X, the user simply twists the cell phone mount/assembly 108 around axis X in the cup holder in which it has been installed (e.g. cup holder 102). To adjust the plane of the cell phone screen relative to the horizontal, the user pivots bracket support plates 432 and 434 around axis 216 relative to pier 212. Once the desired position has been achieved, the user tightens the pivot screw knob at 1744. The mounting process ends at 1746.
Once the cell phone mount 108 has been installed in a cup holder, adjusted for a particular cell phone and adjusted to optimize the direction in which the cell phone screen faces, it can be left in this condition. The user may at any time slip his or her cell phone into mount 108, and then later easily remove the cell phone from mount 108 through the open top of bracket 214. The u-shaped cord opening 424, since it is open at its top as well, permits the cell phone and cord to be extracted and installed as a unit without disconnecting the power/communications cord 112.
In summary, a new vehicle cup holder cell phone mount has been illustrated and described. The mount is provided as a kit with a plurality of shells, which are built up “Russian doll” fashion on a base until a fit to a given vehicle cup holder is achieved. The base and shells of the mount provide a set of downwardly and inwardly tapered surfaces, one of which will optimally and frictionally engage with an inner side wall of the vehicle cup holder into which the mount is to be installed. A movable jaw allows easy adjustment to a particular cell phone width and the open tops of the cell phone bracket and the cord channel permit easy insertion and extraction of the cell phone and power cord as a unit.
While illustrated embodiments of the present invention have been described and illustrated in the appended drawings, the present invention is not limited thereto but only by the scope and spirit of the appended claims.