best pore vacuum cleaner

best pore vacuum cleaner

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BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION(1) Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a vacuum cleaner, and more particularly, to a vacuum cleaner having means of killing noxious small organisms, such as mites, caught in the dust chamber of the cleaner body.

(2) Description of the Prior Art

Japanese Unexamined Patent Publication No. 127026/1987 discloses a vacuum cleaner in which air heated by an electric air blower in a body of the vacuum cleaner circulates through a dust chamber so that noxious small organisms, such as mites, caught in the dust chamber and are killed by heat. In this prior art embodiment, a delay timer switch or a bimetal switch is used as switching means for stopping mite killing operation. However, such vacuum cleaner has disadvantages as follows: In the vacuum cleaner employing the delay timer switch as the switching means, the mite killing operation is carried out independent of a temperature heating the dust chamber, and the electric air blower never stops until a preset time even when a temperature of the electric air blower itself rises because of a rise in the temperature in the ambient air, for example, in summer. On the other hand, in the vacuum cleaner employing the bimetal switch, the electric air blower never stops to continue the mite killing operation until a temperature in the heated dust chamber reaches a temperature preset at the bimetal switch, if the temperature in the ambient air falls, for example, in winter.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a vacuum cleaner having means of killing noxious small organisms in a dust chamber with heat. The vacuum cleaner assures safety by automatically stopping an electric air blower when a temperature in the heated dust chamber reaches a predetermined temperature or when the operation of killing the noxious small organisms with heat has been carried out for a predetermined period of time.

The vacuum cleaner comprises means for killing noxious small organisms trapped in a dust chamber of the cleaner body by circulating the heated exhaust of an electric air blower through the dust chamber, which provides storage means for storing a predetermined temperature corresponding to a temperature fatal to noxious small organisms; sensing means for sensing a temperature of the heated exhaust; judging means for judging if a temperature sensed by the sensing means reaches the predetermined temperature and for outputting a signal when the sensed temperature reaches the predetermined temperature; timer means for timing a specified interval from a point of time when the electric air blower is started and for outputting a signal when a timed period corresponds to the specified interval; and protection means receiving a signal outputted from the judging means or a signal outputted from the timer means, for stopping supplying electric power to the electric air blower to protect the electric air blower. A microcomputer serves as the storage means, judging means, timer means and protection means.

Preferably, the vacuum cleaner according to the present invention provides the dust chamber having an air inlet, a fan chamber for accommodating the electric air blower in which the fan chamber is communicated with the dust chamber at the side opposite to its air inlet and provides an air outlet and a position between the electric air blower and the air outlet in the fan chamber is further communicated with the dust chamber through an air channel, and control means for driving the electric air blower so that heated exhaust of the electric air blower circulates along the air channel through the dust chamber.

 


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In accordance with the present invention, in cleaning operation the noxious small organisms such as mites are trapped together with dust in the dust chamber, and in mite killing operation heated exhaust of the electric air blower circulates through the dust chamber, the sensing means senses the temperature of the heated exhaust, and the microcomputer stops to supply electric power to the electric air blower when the temperature of the heated exhaust reaches a temperature fatal to the noxious small organisms. Thus the mite killing operation ends. When the temperature of the heated exhaust does not reach the temperature fatal to the noxious small organisms because of the low temperature in the ambient air, power supply to the electric air blower is stopped to cease the mite killing operation after the timer means times the mite killing operation by a specified interval.

The present invention may further comprise second storage means for storing an unusual temperature representing a disorder of the above mentioned sensing means, second judging means for outputting a signal when a temperature sensed by the above mentioned sensing means is the unusual temperature and informing means receiving a signal outputted from the second judging means, for informing a user of a disorder of the above mentioned sensing means, so that the user can know the disorder of the above mentioned sensing means due to the breaking of a wire or a short-circuit. The informing means may be a light emitting diode and/or a buzzer.

The present invention may still further comprise indicating means having a plurality of indicators whose indication state varies in accordance with the temperature sensed by the above mentioned sensing means, so that the user can know a progress of killing of the noxious small organisms from the indication. The indicating means preferably comprises, for example, first and second indicators for indicating living and dead states of the noxious small organisms and an indication control circuit for controlling the first and second indicators so that the first indicator lights up at the beginning of killing the noxious small organisms, the first and second indicators alternately light up and out in killing the noxious small organisms and the second mite indicator lights up when the temperature in the dust chamber reaches a temperature fatal to the noxious small organisms.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

An embodiment of the invention will now be described by way of example and with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIGS. 1 to 6 are related to the preferred embodiment of a vacuum cleaner according to the present invention;

FIG. 1 is a sectional view of the embodiment;

FIG. 2 is a plan view of the embodiment;

FIG. 3 is an enlarged plan view of a function indication unit of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is an electric circuit diagram of the embodiment;

FIG. 5 is a block diagram showing a circuit architecture of the embodiment; and

FIGS. 6(a) to 6(c) are flow charts presented for explaining an operation of the embodiment.

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DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring to FIGS. 1 to 3, a vacuum cleaner C comprises a cleaner body 1, a dust chamber 3 provided in the front part of the body 1 and an air blower chamber 6 in the rear part of the body 1. The dust chamber 3 has an upper aperture covered with a cover 2, and the air blower chamber 6 communicates with the dust chamber through a vent 4 and is provided with an exhaust port 5 in its rear wall.

The electric air blower 7 is housed in the air blower chamber 6 and hermetically communicates in its suction side with the dust chamber 3. A basket-shaped filter 8 has air permeability, and is removably housed in the dust chamber 3. A filter 9 is formed of a paper bag having air permeability but not permitting passage of small noxious organisms such as mites therethrough, and is removably housed in the basket-shaped filter 8. The basket-shaped filter 8 and the paper bag filter 9 cooperatively serves as a dust-collecting filter. Also, an air suction filter 10 and an air discharge filter 11 are mounted in the cleaner body 1.

The cover 2 is formed with an air inlet portion 12 and a suction hose is removably connected thereto. The air inlet portion 12 has an air inlet 13, and comprises a hose socket 14 and a plate 15 positioned above the hose socket 14 and serving as a slidably opening and closing shutter for the air inlet 13.

The cleaner body 1 is further provided with an air channel 16 along which exhaust of the electric air blower 7 circulates through the dust chamber 3 to heat up the dust chamber 3 to a temperature high enough to kill the small noxious organisms such as mites caught in the filter 9. The air channel 16 consists of the first air channel 18 (at the body’s side) and the second air channel 20 (at the cover’s side). The first air channel 18 has its air inlet at the air blower chamber 6 while the second air channel 20 has its air outlet 19 at the hose socket 14 of the air inlet portion 12. When the suction hose is attached to the suction opening portion 12 in the cleaning operation, the air outlet 19 is closed not to pass the exhaust of the air blower 7, and when the suction hose is detached in the mite killing operation, it conducts the exhaust to the dust chamber 3.

A mite killing switch button (hereinafter called as mite killing button) 21, which is of push-button type, is provided on the right in the center portion of the upper face of the cleaner body 1. A mite killing operation switch (hereinafter called as mite killing switch) SW1, which is a tactile switch, is inside the mite killing switch button 21 to turn on by depressing the mite killing button 21.

A shutter switch SW3 is provided in the air inlet portion 12. The shutter switch SW3 is turned off by the shutter plate 15 coming in contact with it when the shutter plate 15 is closed, and turned on when the shutter plate 15 is opened.

A function indication unit 22 as display means is provided in the center portion of the upper face of the cleaner body 1. In the function indication unit 22, light emitting diodes illuminates a display panel 23 from its back. Namely, each function indicator shines by lighting up each of the light emitting diodes. The indication unit 22 as shown in FIG. 3, consists of a dust meter 24, a power control indicator 25 and a mite killing indicator 26. The dust meter 24 indicates five levels of dust volume in the filter 9 with illumination of three light emitting diodes (LEDs), D1 to D3. The dust volume can be recognized at sight by illumination of a green indicator SM1 corresponding to the light emitting diode D1, an orange indicator SM2 corresponding to the light emitting diode D2 and a red indicator SM3 corresponding t the light emitting diode D3 in the order of dust volume, small to large. When the filter 9 should be replaced with a new one, the green, orange and red indicators light up and out to let a user to know that. Specifically, the five levels of dust volume are indicated by putting the lights out entirely, lighting up one light emitting diode (D1), lighting up two light emitting diodes (D1 and D2), lighting up three light emitting diodes (D1, D2 and D3) and sequentially lighting up and extinguishing the three light emitting diodes (D1, D2 and D3), in the order of dust volume, small to large. The power control indicator 25 indicates a suction force of the electric air blower 7, namely, a state of output control, with a level indicator of the five levels, LL, L, M, H1 and H2, corresponding to five red light emitting diodes D4 to D8, respectively.

 

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The mite killing indicator 26 indicates progress of a mite killing operation by illuminating first and second mite indicators DH1 and DH2 with a green light emitting diode D9 and a red light emitting diode D10, so that a state of the mite killing operation can be known with an impressive visual representation with the lapse of time. Lighting up in the first mite indicator DH1 represents mites are alive, and lighting up in the second mite indicator DH2 that the mites are killed. The mite killing indicator 26 shows an effect of the mite killing operation by variations of lighting up the first mite indicator DH1, alternately lighting up and extinguishing the first and second mite indicators DH1 and DH2 and lighting up the second mite indicator DH2 in accordance with a temperature increase within the dust chamber 3 and with the lapse of time during the mite killing operation. Thus, the effect of the mite killing operation becomes apparent with the variations in the visual representation. Those representations of the dust meter 24, power control indicator 25 and mite killing indicator 26 are controlled by a display control circuit of a microcomputer, which is mentioned hereinafter.

A control plate chamber unit 27 is formed in the upper portion of the air blower chamber 6 in the cleaner body 1. The control panel chamber unit 27 is covered with the panel 23 at its top face and accommodates a control circuit panel 30 provided with a control circuit element 28, the light emitting diodes D1 to D10 and a reflection member 29 at the bottom part. Further, a semiconductor pressure sensor 32 and an air blower control bidirectional triode thyristor 50 are attached to the control circuit panel 30. The semiconductor pressure sensor 32 communicates with the outlet of the suction unit 7a of the electric air blower 7 through a tube 31, for determining a pressure at the suction outlet 7a. The air blower control bidirectional triode thyristor has a radiation plate 33 positioned in the space at the suction unit 7a. For the sensor 32, a diffusion type semiconductor pressure sensor (e.g., a FPN-07PGR type semiconductor pressure sensor manufactured by FUJIKURA Ltd.) which operates on a piezoresistance effect is used.

Referring to an electric circuit in FIG. 4 and a circuit block diagram in FIG. 5, a microcomputer 34 is a single chip microprocessor including a processing unit, an input/output unit, a memory, etc. and stores a program, which is explained below, for each of a cleaning mode, a mite killing mode and a display operation mode.

A cleaning/mite killing operation switching unit 35 has the mite killing switch SW1 and the shutter switch SW3.

A temperature sensing unit 36 employs a thermistor element 37 as a temperature sensing means. Supply voltage from a DC5V constant voltage unit 47 is divided by the thermistor element 37 and a resistance R25 to produce an output of sensed temperature from the thermistor element 37, and the sensed temperature output is applied to the microcomputer 34.

The thermistor element 37, although attached directly to the bracket of the electric air blower 7 for sensing a temperature of exhaust of the electric air blower 7, is electrically isolated from the electric air blower 7, so that it also can sense an unusual state in temperature when a temperature of the electric air blower 7 excessively rises. Namely, a single thermistor element 37 can sense a temperature in heating of the mite killing operation and sense an unusual rise in temperature in the electric air blower 7.

An operation level determining unit 38 is positioned in a function board on a grip portion of the suction hose connected to the cleaner body 1 and includes a suction force control rheostat VR1 for controlling a suction force of the electric air blower 7 and a brush switch SW2 for turning on and off a motor 39 driving a rotation brush of a floor nozzle. The suction force control rheostat VR1 varies the suction force of the electric air blower 7 by varying a signal voltage inputted to the microcomputer 34 depending upon a position of sliding contacts of the control rheostat. The suction force control rheostat VR1 inputs to the microcomputer 34 a signal voltage corresponding to each of a stop position (OFF level), a rug position corresponding to a „high“ suction force for manual operation (H level), a floor position corresponding to an „intermediate“ suction force (M level), a sofa position corresponding to a „low“ suction force (L level), a curtain position corresponding to the „lowest“ suction force (LL level) and an auto position for automatic control (A level). The brush switch SW2 turns on and off the motor 39 for the rotating brush when the suction force control rheostat VR1 is set at a level other than the OFF level.

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A pressure sensing unit 40 uses the semiconductor pressure sensor 32 for sensing variations in pressure (negative pressure) in a space between the suction unit 7a of the electric air blower 7 and the suction filter 4. In this way, a sensed output voltage is produced.

Reference numeral 41 denotes an indication unit driver. The light emitting diodes D4 to D8 of the power control indicator 25 work in response to the signal voltage from the operation level determining unit 38. All the diodes put the light out when the OFF level is selected, one of them lights up at the LL level, two of them light up at the L level, three of them light up at the M level, five of them light up at the H level, and the diodes light up by the number corresponding to the sensed output voltage from the pressure sensing unit 40 when the A level is selected.

A buzzer 42 is driven by a buzzer driving unit 43. The buzzer 42 makes a sound either in the following cases where the level is changed, where the temperature sensing unit 36 senses an unusual state in temperature, where three of the light emitting diodes D1 to D3 in the dust meter 24 light up and go out, where the mite killing switch SW1 is depressed, where the mite killing operation is ended and where the thermistor element 37 is out of order due to a short-circuit or the breaking of a wire.

In a zero-cross signal generating unit 44, a bridge diode D11 shapes a waveform of an alternating voltage after voltage drop at a power source transformer T1 in a power supplying unit 45 to generate a pulse signal at a zero-cross point in each semicycle of the alternating voltage.

Reference numerals 46, 47 and 48 denote a clock oscillation unit, a 5 V constant voltage unit having a resetting unit for the microcomputer 34, and a 15 V constant voltage unit, respectively.

Reference numerals 49 and 50 denote an air blower driving unit and an air blower control bidirectional triode thyristor, respectively. They function as control means for driving the electric air blower and cooperatively drive the electric air blower 7.

Further, reference numerals 51 and 52 denote a brush motor control unit for the motor 39 driving the rotating brush of the floor nozzle, and a brush motor control bidirectional triode thyristor.

An excess current sensing unit 53 for the floor nozzle has a positive temperature characteristic thermistor 54 which restricts current to stop supplying electric power to the brush motor 39 when the motor 39 is locked because the rotation brush is tangled with a piece of cloth or the like.

The microcomputer 34 sets the operation mode at a cleaning mode when the shutter plate 15 is opened and accordingly the shutter switch SW3 is on. In the cleaning mode, the electric air blower 7 changes its suction force corresponding to the level set by the suction force control rheostat VR1 of the operation level determining unit 38, and the brush motor 39 turns on or off in accordance with ON/OFF of the brush switch SW2.

The microcomputer 34 receives an output of sensed temperature from the temperature sensing unit 36. When it is sensed that the electric air blower 7 is excessively heated and a bracket temperature is over 100° C., supplying electric power to the electric air blower is ceased to turn off all the functions.

The shutter switch SW3 turns off when the shutter plate 15 moves to close the air inlet 13. The microcomputer 34 sets the operation mode at a mite killing mode when the shutter switch SW3 is off. In the mite killing mode, as the mite killing switch SW1 is turned on, the electric air blower 7 drives and accordingly the exhaust of the electric air blower 7 circulates through the dust chamber 3. When the thermistor element 37 senses that the dust chamber 3 is heated up to 50° C. or over enough to kill the noxious small organisms such as mites, namely, a temperature of the bracket of the electric air blower 7 is 70° C. (at which the mite killing operation is stopped) or over, the microcomputer 34 as protection means functions to protect the electric air blower 7, and the electric air blower 7 is stopped.

In the mite killing mode, the first mite indicator DH1 in the mite killing indicator 26 is lit up by the green light emitting diode D9 for a predetermined period of time (e.g., 10 seconds) simultaneously with the mite killing operation starts, thereafter the first and second mite indicators DH1 and DH2 in the mite killing indicator 26 are alternately lit up with the green light emitting diode D9 and the red light emitting diode D10 for a predetermined period of time (e.g., 20 seconds). After the predetermined period of time passes, the first and second mite indicators DH1, DH2 continue to alternately light up and out until the temperature of the bracket of the air blower 7 reaches 70° C. (at which the mite killing operation is stopped). When the temperature of the bracket reached 70° C., the second mite indicator DH2 is lit up with the red light emitting diode D10. The mite killing indicator 26 indicates progress of the mite killing operation by lighting up the first mite indicators DH1, lighting up and out alternately the first and second mite indicators DH1 and DH2, and lighting up the second mite indicator DH2 with the lapse of time, so that the user can know the state of the mite killing operation from variations in an impressive visual representation. After the mite killing operation is ended, continuing lighting of the red light of the second mite indicator DH2 makes the user know that mites in the dust chamber 3 have been completely killed. For 10 minutes after the end of the mite killing operation, the buzzer also makes a continuing sound, such as „Pep, Pep“, to make the user hear the end of the mite killing operation.

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