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Title:
LOCKING MECHANISM WITH ONE AND TWO-STAGE LOCKING VERIFICATION
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/003545
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Apparatus and method of locking two devices to each other through a receiver base, a pair of pivoting locking tabs, each having first and second arms extending out from a pivot point, and an insert that is partially engaged within a cavity formed by the receiver base and locking tabs. The receiver base is configured to be engageable with a first device. The insert is configured to be engageable with a second device. An optional push button assembly that has a retractable lip is engageable with the receiver base to block rotational movement of the locking tabs unless the lip of the push button is retracted. The apparatus may also include magnetic actuators and corresponding electronic switches that provide two stage locking and, optionally, contact state signaling to an external controller and computer to verify locked/unlocked status of the insert relative to the receiver base cavity and locking tabs.

Inventors:
MORAN, Eric M. (21 East Marine View Drive, Suite GEverett, Washington, 98201, US)
Application Number:
US2016/028985
Publication Date:
January 05, 2017
Filing Date:
April 22, 2016
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
CONTROL DYNAMICS, INC. (21 East Marine View Drive, Suite GEverett, Washington, 98201, US)
International Classes:
A41F1/00; A43C11/00; A44B1/00; A44B1/04; A44B11/25; A44B17/00
Foreign References:
US7375517B12008-05-20
US3644967A1972-02-29
US20060222287A12006-10-05
US20140067668A12014-03-06
US6668434B22003-12-30
US5033171A1991-07-23
US20120124790A12012-05-24
US20110162177A12011-07-07
US8240012B22012-08-14
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PETRICH, Kathleen T. (Miller Nash Graham & Dunn LLP, Pier 702801 Alaskan Way, Suite 30, Seattle Washington, 98121, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1 , A locking mechanism comprising: a pair of locking tabs, each locking tab having a first ami and second arm; wherein each locking tab is spaced apart relative to receiver base having an upper portion and a lower portion and each lockirsg tab is configured to pivot about a respective pin operatively connected to the receiver base, arid wherein a cavity' is formed between the two locking tabs and the upper portion of the recei ver base; wherein fee lower portion of fee receiver base is configured to be engageabie wife a first device; and an insert having a lower portion configured with a leading edge and an upper portion; the lower portion of the insert being configured to be received within the cavity and to be engaged by the first arm of each locking tab to keep the insert retained within the cavity; the upper portion of the insert is configured to be engageahie with a second device.

2. The S ocking mechanism according to claim 1 wherein the tippe portion of the insert defines an opening that is configured to be eagageablc with the first device and the lower portion of the receiver base defines an opening that is configured to be engageabie with the second device and wherein the opening of the insert and the opening of the receiver base are aligned one above the other.

3, The locking mechanism, according to claim. 1 further comprising a push button assembly having a retractable lip that i configured to engage with an indentation within the recei ver base to block rotational movement of fee second arm of each locking tab when locked.

4. The locking mechanism according to claim 1 further comprising: three magnetic actuators that are configured to be positioned respectively at a lower surf ce of the locking ami second arm and leading edge of the insert; and an electronic switch for each, magnetic actuator, wherein each electronic switch is positioned within the receiver base and configured to mate with its respective magnetic actuator.

5. The locking mechanism according to claim 4 further comprising a push button assembly having a retractable lip that is configured to engage with an indentation within the recei ver base to block rotational mo vement of the second arm of each locking tab when locked.

6. The locking mechanism according to claim 3 wherein the upper portion of the insert defines an opening that is configured to be engageaWe with, the first device and. the lower portion of the receiver base defines an opening that is configured to be engageahSe wim the second device and wherein the opening of the insert and the opening of the receiver base are aligned one above the other.

7. A method of locking one device to another the method comprising: providing a first device having an engageah!e end; providing a second device having an engageabie end; providing a receiver base having an upper portion and a lower portion having an engagement member; pro viding a pair of locking tabs wherein, each locking tab has a first arm and a second arm connected by a joint; said locking tabs being spaced apart relative to the upper portion of the recei ver base to form a cavity; providing a pair of pivots and. a pair of torsi on springs; positioning each, locking tab joint between one of the torsion springs against the receiver base to pivot about one of the pivots; providing an insert having lower portion with a leading edge and an upper portion having an engagement member; the lower portion configured to be engageable with the first arms of the locking tabs; inserting the lo wer portion of the insert into the cavi ty where the second arm of each locking tab is positioned below the leading edge of the insert; engaging the lower portion of the insert by the first arm of each locking tab; connecting the first device's engagement end with the upper portion engagement member; and connecting the second device's engagement end with the engagement member.

8, The method according to claim 7 wherein the upper portion of the insert defines an opening that is configured to be engageable with the first device and the lower portion of the receiver base defines an opening that is configured to be engageable with the second device and wherein the opening of the insert and the opening of the receiver base are aligned one above the other.

9, The method according to claim 7 further comprising: providing a push button assembly having a retractable li that is configured to engage with an indentation within the receiver base; and blocking rotational movement of the second ana of each locking tab whe the push button is not. engaged.

10, The method according to claim 7 further comprising: providing three magnetic actuators; positioning the magnetic actuators respectively at a lower surface of the locking arm second arm and leading edge of the insert; and providing an electronic switch to correspond to each magnetic actuator; positioning each electronic switch within the receiver base t mate with its respective magnetic actuators; and means for wtre!essly controlling connection of the magnetic actuators to the electronic switches.

1 1 , The method according to claim 9 further comprising: providing three magnetic actuators; positioning the magnetic actuators respectively at a lower surface of the locking arm second arm and leading edge of the insert; and providing an electronic switch to correspond with each magnetic actuator; positioning each electronic switch within the receiver base to mate with its respective magnetic actuators; operatively engaging the push button to disengage the switches from the actuators; and means for wirelessly controlling connection of the magnetic actuators to the electronic switches,

12. A method of verifying when one device is unlocked from another device, the method comprising; providing a receiver base having an tipper portion and a lower portion ha ving an engagement tnetttber that is operably engaged with a first device; providing a pair of locking tabs wherein each locking tab has a first arm and a second arm connected by a joint that is rotatabty connected to the upper portion of the receiver base; said locking tabs be ing spaced apart relative to the upper portion of the recei ver base to form a cavity, wherein when the, joint of each locking tab rotates, the first arm of each locking tab extends past an outer edge of the receiver base; providing an insert having lower portion with a leading edge and an uppe portio having an engagement member; the lower portion of the insert being engaged by the first arms of the locking tabs; the upper portion having an engagement member that is operably eneatted with a second device; the insert being inserted; and applying a ferce to the first arm of each locking tab adjacent the joint of each locking tab where the second arm of each locking tab disengages the leading edge of the insert and making visible a portion of each first arm relative to the recei ver base.

13. The method according to claim 12 wherein t e tipper portion of the insert defines art opening that is configured to be engageable with the first device and the lower portion of the receiver base defines an opening that is configured to be engageable with the second device and wherein the opening of the insert and the opening of the receiver base are al igned one above the o ther.

14. The method according to claim 12 further comprising: providing a push button assembly having a retractable Hp that is configured to engage with an indentation within the receiver base; and blocking rotational movemen t of the second arm of each locking tab when the push, button is not engaged.

15. The method according to claim 12 further comprising; providing three magnetic actuators; positioning the magnetic actuators respectively at. a lower surface of the locking ami second arm and leading edge of the insert; providing an electronic switch for each magnetic actuator; positioning each electronic switch within the receiver base to mate with its respective magnetic actuators; and controlling contact between the electronic switches and their respective magnetic actuators.

16. The method according to claim 15 further comprising: pro viding signaling means to convey status of contact between the electronic switches and their respective magnetic actuators; providing an external controller; and signaling status of contact between the electronic switches and their respective magnetic actuators to the controller.

1 ?-. The method according to claim 16 wherein the signal means is accomplished via a wireless antenna.

IS. The method according to 16 further comprising providing a computer that is com unicatsvel engaged with the controller and wherein comtnand signals come from the computer to separate the contact between the electronic switches and their respective magnetic actuators.

19. The method according to claim 14 further comprising: providing three magnetic actuators; positioning the magnetic actuators respectively at a lo wer surface of the locking arm second arm and leading edge of the insert ; providing an electronic switch to correspond with each magnetic actuator; positioning each dectronic switch within the receiver base to mate with its respective magnetic actuators; and operatively engaging the push button to the three magnetic actuators so that, the magnetic actuators are disconnected from their corresponding electronic switches only when the push button is depressed.

20. A three point contact locking device comprising: a pair of locking labs, each locking tab having a first arm and a second arm; wherein, each locking tab is spaced apart relative to a receiver base having an. upper portion and a. lower portion and each locking tab is configured to pivot about a respective pis operatively connected to the receiver base, and wherein a cavity is formed between the two locking tabs and the upper portion of the receiver base; wherein the lower portion of the receiver base is configured to be engageable with a. first device; an insert having a lower portion configured with a leading edge and an upper portion; the lower portion of the insert being configured to be received within the cavity and to be engaged by Itie first arm of each locking lab to keep the insert retained within the cavity; the upper portion of the insert is configured to be engageable with a second device; and a push button assembly having a retractable lip that is configured to engage with an indentation within die receiver base to block rotational movement of the second arm of each locking tab when locked.

21. The three point contact locking device according to claim 20 further comprisin three magnetic actuators and respective electronic switches that, when engaged,. ock rotational movement of the locking tabs, and. wherein when the magnetic actuators and respective switches are eoiiimiiiiicahngly connected to the push button.

22. The locking mechanism according to claim 20 wherein the upper portion of the insert defines an. opening that is configured to be engageabie with the first device and the lower portion of the receiver base defines an opening that is configured to be engageabie with the second device and wherein the opening of the insert and the opening of the receiver base are aligned one above the other.

23. A method of three point contact locking, the method comprising: providing a pair of locking tabs, each locking, .tab ha ving a first arm and. a second arm; wherein each locking tab is spaced apart relative to a receiver base having an upper portion and a lower portion and each locking tab is configured to pivot about a respective pin operatively connected to the receiver base, and wherein a cavity is formed between the two locking tabs and the upper portion of the receiver base; wherein the lower portion of the receiver base is configured to be engageabie with a first device; providing an insert having a lower portion configured with a leading edge and an upper portion; the lower portion of the insert being configured to be received within the cavity and to be engaged by the first arm of each locking tab to keep the insert retained within the cavity; the upper portion of the insert is configured to be engageabie with a second device; providing a push button assembly having a retractable li thai is configured to engage with an indentation within the receiver base to block rotational movement of the second arm of each locking lab when locked; inserting the lower portion of the insert into the cavity where the second arm of each locking tab is positioned below the leading edge of the insert; and engaging the lower portion of the insert by the .first arm of each locking tab.

Description:
Locking Mechanism with One and Two-Stage Locking Verification

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to U.S. provisional patent application serial number 62/186,557, filed on June 30, 2015, the contents of which are fully incorporated herein by reference.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The invention pertains to locking mechanisms that have one and two-stage lockin verification capabilities through mechanical and eiectro-mechaaical means with two and three point unlocking means.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

A need exists for an improved locking isechaniism, particularly with a two-stage locking verification for dangerou applications such as releasing a worker strapped into a safety harness from a lifeline. Current known connectors can easily be¾ bypassed.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The in vention is directed to an improved locking mechanism thai has mechanical (one stage) and electro/mechanical (two stage) locking verification. Further, the invention includes two and three point unlocking means.

The mechanical aspects of the invention include a receiver base, a pair of locking tabs, and an insert. Each locking tab has a first arm and a second arm where each a m is connected at a pivot point. Each locking tab is configured to pi vot about the pivot point that is operativeiy connected to an upper portion of the receiver base in a spaced apart fashion to form a cavity between the receiver base and the locking tabs.

A. lower portion of the receiver base is configured to be operabiy engageabie with a first device.

A lower portion of the insert is configured to be received within a cavity and retained by at least the first arms of the locking tabs. An upper portion of the insert is configured to be operabiy engageabie with a second device. The lower portion of the insert is retained by the receiver base and locking tabs. To disengage, both locking tabs must be rotated to dislodge the insert. Such disengagement is the two point mechanical unlocking method.

Another aspect of the invention incl udes a push b utton assembly that has a retractable iip that is configured to engage with the receiver base and retains the second arms from the locking tabs .from movement. Here, the push button would need to be depressed and retract the Up from the receiver base and from the two second arms at the same time a force is applied to the locking tabs to rotate the arms of each locking tab to disengage the 'insert from the cavity. Such disengagement described herein is the three point mechanical unlocking method.

The invention may further include electronic components including three magnetic- actuators and corresponding electronic switches that signal change of state. The two second arms of the locking tabs and a leading edge of the insert respectively include the three magnetic actuators. The electronic s witches, which may be magnetically acti vated reed switches, signal status change to an external controller and, optionally, an externa! computer. Change of status notification may be important on critical safe ty worksites where lack of mechanical and electronic connection can be life threatening.

These and other advantages will become more apparent upon review of the Drawings, the Detailed Description, and the Claims,

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Like reference numerals are used to designate like parts throughout the several view of the drawings, wherein:

Fig. i is a front perspective view of an assembled locking mechanism of the first embodiment disclosing a receiver base, a pair of pi votable locking tabs about respective cylindrical posts, and an insert (illustrated without a cover);

Fig, 2 is a front view of Fig, 1 with the pair of pivotable locking tabs pivoted to release the insert;

Fig. 3 is an exploded front perspective view like that of Fig. 1 except illustrated rotated 150 degrees and better illustrating a pair of pi vot cylinders to which the locking tabs pivot about; Fig, 4 is a front perspective view of the insert;

Fig, 5 is a front perspective v iew of the receiver base;

Fig. 6 is a front perspective view of a cover that covers over most of the receiver base when assembled;

Fig. 7 is a back view of Fig. 1;

Fig. 8 is a rear perspective view of the assembled receiver base, locking tabs, md insert member;

Fig, 9 is an exploded rear vie of the recei ver base, the insert, and the locking tabs and the cylindrical posts of Fig. I;

Fig, 10 is a front perspective view of the locking assembly with the cover placed over die receiver base and the locking tabs;

Fig, 1 1 is an exploded front perspective view of Fig. 10;

Fig. 12 is an assembled fron t perspective view of an alternate embodiment of the locking mechanism illustrating a receiver base, a pair of pivoting locking tabs, an insert, and an electronic bay with electronic components to provide a second stage of locking die locking mechanism (illustrated without a cover);

Fig . 13 is a front view of the .locking mechanism of Fig, 12;

Fig. 14 is a front exploded view of the insert removed from the receiver base and the pivotable locking tabs pivoted to allow release of the insert;

Fig, 15 is a rear view of Fig, 13;

Fig. 16 is an exploded side view of the insert attached to a strap, die receiver base attached to a strap, and the cover;

Fig, 17 is a schematic view of an alternate strap attachment means;

Fig. 18 is a schematic view of a cable that ma be received b the alternate Fig, 19 is a schematic solid state wiring diagram of the electronic components of the harness side Bluetooth board;

Fig. 20 is a front view of an another alternate embodiment disclosing a secondary or tertiary locking element with an optional press button mechanism; Fig. 21 is an exploded front view of the embodiment of Fig. 20;

Fig. 22 is a bottom exploded view of the embodiment of Fig. 20;

Fig. 23 is an enlarged bottom perspective view of the press button mechanism of Fig.

20;

Fi g , 24 is art enlarged top perspective vie of the press button mechanism of Fig , 20; and

Fig. 25 is a schematic view of the locking mechanism connecting two devices together and electronically connected to a controller to signal to an optional computer when the connection is broken.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION Referring to Figs, 1 - 1 1 and 16, locking mechanism 1 brings two devices together and maintains the connection until such time the connection is. intentionally broken. Locking mechanism 10 includes a receiver base 12, a pair of pivotable locking tabs 14, and an insert 1 of which a portion is received within a cavity I S of receiver base 12 and held in place b - locking tabs 14. An optional cover 20 (Figs. 6, 10) may cover the majority of receiver base 12.and die majority of locking tabs 14 through fasteners 21 received into apertures: 23 (such as those illustrated) or other commonly known fastener means.

Receiver base 12 includes two spaced-apart and outwardly-projecting chocks 22 that conform to the shape of an interior surface 24 of locking tabs 1 and further define the boundaries of the cavity ' ! 8 in which a portion of insert 16 is received. Receiver base 12 also includes a lower section 26 that is configured, to engage a first device. According to one embodiment of the invention, lower section 26 contains an opening 28. The opening may be an elongated slot (as illustrated in Figs, 1-3 and 5) to accommodate a safety stra 30 (see Fig, 2 for example) that is operadve!y connected to a first device, such as a safety harness for example. Opening 28 may be aligned below cavity 18 relative to centerl je CL of receiver base 12.

Receiver base 12 may also include a generally central ledge 32 to which bottom portions 34 of the locking tabs rest against when in the locked position. Receiver base 12 may also include an optional central abutment member 36 to which a portion of insert 16 abuts when the insert is fully engaged and in the locked posnioa relative to the receiver base and engaged by the locking tabs (as illustrated irt Fig. ).

According to one aspect of the invention, receiver base 12 has a planar back surface 38 (see Fig. 7). In one form of the invention, cover 20 also includes a smooth planar e terior surface 40 (see Fig, 6), When the cover is assembled onto the receiver base, the two major surface of the assembled locking .mechanism are smooth, planar, and paral lel to each other (see for example Figs. 10 arid 16). insert 16 may be in the form of a solid planar slab 42 having a lower portion that includes an external "key like" projection 44 having a leading edge 46, Between projection 44 and an upper portion is a transition section 48 that forms a pocket 49 on each side of transition section 48, in. one form of the invention, the transition and the "key like" projection are received into cavity 1 S of receiver base 12 along center! me CL when the insert is inserted into the receiver base in order to lock the locking mechanism. In the fully locked position, end surface 46 abuts the center ledge of the recei ver base, or, alternati vely, the central abutment member 36 as illustrated in Fig. 1, Opposite end surface 46 within slab 42 k an opening 50 that engages as object, such as a safety strap like safety strap 30. Opening SO may be an elongated slot similar to opening 28 within receiver base 12.

Insert .1 is configured to be cerrterline-received into cavity I with "key like" projection 44 and at least part of transition section 48 being able to be inserted within cavity 18 formed by receiver base 12, locking tabs 14, and chocks 22, In one form of the invention, leading edge 46 abuts central ledge 32 or central abutment 36. Opening 50 within insert 16 is aligned above opening 28 of the lower portion of receiver base 12.

Locking tab 14 may be of various shapes. The locking tabs each have a first arm 17 and a second arm 19 extending outwardly from a central point (the pivot point) where the first arm, second arm and pivot may form a general "L" shape. The first arm engages the Sower portion of the insert, i.e., the "key like" projection and at least a portion of transition. section 48. According to one embodiment of the invention, each locking tab has a top portion 52 that may be configured with a hook nose 54, a side portion 56, and bottom portion. 34 (already introduced above). Each locking mechanism has an exterior surface 51 adjacent the pivot point. Top portion 52, side portion 56, and bottom portion 34 form an elongated "c- shaped" cavity 58 that corresponds to the shape of chock 22. In one form of the in vention, the locking tabs' outer surfaces (defined by the top portion, side portion, and bottom portion) have generally straight surfaces so that the exterior appears to be a partial rectangle. ' The second arm of each locking tab includes an upper surface 59 that is configured to contact- leading edge 46 of insert 1 during unlocking. The second arm farther includes a lower surface 61 that may rest on central ledge 32 of receiver base 12 when the locking mechanism is locked.

A cylindrical post 60 is inserted axiaily through bottom portion 34 and operatively connected to receiver base 12 (such as press fit connected into a tapped and threaded hole (see Fig. 3) or through other standard fastening means well known in the industry), in this way, bottom portion 34, side portion 56, and top portion 52 with nose 54 pivot about cylinder post 60 and are rotationally limited by its corresponding chock 22 and central ledge 32, as well as engagement with pocket 49 by nose 54 when insert projection 44 and at least a portion of the insert: transi tion section 48 is inserted into cavity 18.

A. torsion spring 62 is positioned between the receiver base and each locking tab about cylindrical post 60. Each torsion spring includes a first arm 64 extending from one end of the coiled spring that biases its respective locking tab and a second arm extending from the other end of the coiled spring that biases the adjacent chock 22, The torsion spring for the right side lockin tab is the mirror image of the torsion ..spring for the left side locking tab. The torsion spring allows rotational movement with an inden ted general arc o the back side of each locking tab about the pivot post (cylindrical post). The same general indented arc 67, but on the front side of the locking tab is illustrated in Figs. 2 and 3.

When the locking mechanism is in the fully locked positio (see Fig. .1 ). the exposed, parts are mostly planar, which makes the locking mechanism: less likely to get snagged or hooked during use. When the locking mechanism is unlocked, each first arm extends beyond outer edges of the recei ver base. The extending first arms past the receiver base (see e.g.. Fig. 14) are visible to a worker or third parties. Further, the outer edges of the insert, receiver base, and locking tabs ma be chamfered to further reduce the potential of snags or hang ups. Cover 20 may be configured to leave the pivot comer of the locking tab, or at least exterior surface 5 of each locking tab 14, exposed for easy access.

Each top portion of the locking mechanism 52/54 engages one side of the insert projection 44 to retain and hold the insert projection within cavity Ϊ 8 that is bordered by the receiver base, the chocks, and the first and second arms of each locking tab. To disconnect (unlock) the insert from the cavity, a user applies force on exterior surface 51. located near the pivot point on each Socking tab in order to cause rotational movement of each second arm of the Socking tab relative to its corresponding first arm of t Sic locking tab. The second arm applies a force on the insert projection leading edge 46 and the first arm no longer engages the sides of insert projection 44. Exterior surface 51 ma include knurling or other surface roughening for a worker to more easily engage the point of disconnection on locking tab.

In use, as illustrated in Fig. 25, locking mechanism 10 may be used to connect two devices together through attachment of the two devices to the insert and the receiver base, respecti vely. Locking mechanism 10 is particularly well suited to joining a first device, suchas a safety harness 120 worn by a worker, that includes or is connected to safety straps, webbing, or cable, or some form of connector, where the safet strap, webbing, cable, or connector engages the recei ver base, such as through opening 28. The insert, such as through insert opening 50, engages with a second device, such as a retractable lifeline 122, that itself includes or is connected to safety straps, webbing, cable, or connector. Other engagement means can be used such as those illustrated in Figs. .17 and 18.

Referring now to Figs. 12- 15 and 19, a second embodiment: locking mechanism 100 is directed t two-stage locking verification. Similar t locking mechanism 10 above with one- stage mechanical locking, second embodiment 1 0 includes the same one-stage mechanical locking features above. The same numeral designations are used to describe the second embodiment locking mechanism's mechanical locking functionality. That is that the second embodimen t locking mechanism includes a receiver base 12, a pair of locking tabs 14, an insert 1 .

However, receiver base 12 also includes an electronic bay 102 that includes various electronic components to verify that insert 16 is fully engaged into cavity I S and latched by lockin tabs 14, The electronic components send a signal to an external device (such as a computer) that determines whether the locking mechanism can open and release the insert through the first locking means. Referring also to Fig. 19, electronic components may include embedded reed switches 104, a circuit board 105, a relay 106, embedded shielded proximity switches, a pressure switch that has mechanical engagement, an optical sensor, and optional indicator Sight (e.g., LED light) and a battery 108. These are positioned within the electronic bay 1 2. There are also magnetic actuators 1 10, preferably three, to match a corresponding reed switch 104. Magnetic actuators 1 10 are positioned outside the electronic bay (see for example Fig, 21).

The reed switches 104 may be a Hamlin 59010 Firecracker (3 mm dia., 9 mm long). They will be activated fay the magnetic actuators placed in three locations opposite the reed switches. One location will be at the end of the insert, another under the left hand locking tab, and the remaining one under the right hand locking tab. All three switches will normally be in the open position until the magnetic actuator changes their state.

After all three s witches are closed by the mechanical action of inserting the insert into the receiver base cavit (one-stage locking), then the electronic components will receive electrical energ from the battery. After the electronic components have communicated via various protocols, such as Bluetooth, near field communication, FID, Zigbee, or other wireiess communication means, thai: the mechanical (stage one) locking has taken place, a remote computer/processor processes the safe signal, that ma be sent via a wireiess antenna 1 1 (see e.g., Fig. 13), received with an aperture i l l within receiver base .12, and will close the dry contacts, such as on a machine interface board (not illustrated). The sensed signal will block electrical signals to an affected machine control function (stage two). Here, in the second stage, the locking mechanism 100, through mechanical closure, triggers a communication between the locking mechanism 100 to a machine (not illustrated) that may be attached to or a controller 124 (see e.g., Fig, 25) that may he interfaced with a machine or multiple machines or to a complete overall monitoring system.

The two-stage locking mechanism with " verification capabilities (e.g., remote processor signaling) is particularly useful for dangerous applications where human life (or safety) is at risk or where sensitive expensive equipment is at risk. One application for the two-stage locking mechanism 100 is between a worker in a safety harness 120 and a retractable lifeline 122 where an employer (or construction boss) needs to ascertain with more certainty whether it is safe for a worker to detach from a lifeline. The connection or disconnection can be signaled to a controller 124. which can be forwarded to a computer device 26 that can be networked with, an internal or externa! safety monitor command center (not illustrated). Further, the locking mechanism (10 or 100) allows a worker to remove him or herself from a lifeline without removing the worker's safety harness.

Figs, Ϊ7 and 18 illustrate a different means for engaging a cable 68 or strap, instead of a safety strap being threaded between openings 28 and 50 of the receiver base and insert, respectively, the cable or strap ends are captured within, an. opening 70 that opens through the outer edge of the receiver base and/or insert .as illustrated in Fig. 17. Cable or strap 68 includes flexible expanding end portions 72 that can be inserted into opening 7 but cannot come out without cutting the cable/strap. Alternatively, cable ends can be epoxied or other permanent fastening means withi opening 70.

Figs. 20- 24 disclose another alternate embodiment locking mechanism 20 with either secondary or tertiar locking verification means. Locking mechanism 200 can. be used in connectio with the one-stage locking verification means found in locking mechanism 10 or used with locking mechanism 100 (two-stage Socking verification means), depending on the type of application that is desired. Locking mechanism 200 contains a receiver base 12, a pair of locking tabs 14, and an insert 16 all like those elements described in detail above. Cover 20' however i different from cover 20 in that it is adapted to accommodate a centrally positioned push button mechanism 74.

Push button mechanism 74 includes a centrally positioned rod 76 that extends past: the confines of a mechanism housing 75 to form ends 78. The mechanism housing is operably connected to a spring SO that is biased agains the interior of the receiver base.

During locking action, a lower lip 82 extends from: mechanism housing 75 that engages with a slot or indent within the receiver base 84, such s on central, abutment member 36, (Fig. 2.2), Lower hp 82 also is positioned directly ove upper surface 59 of each locking tab lower arm. The physical relationship between the lower lip 82 and the locking tab !ower arms, which may be touching but does not need to be, keeps the locking tabs f om rotational movement until the button retracts the lower hp and the two locking tabs are rotated to disengage the insert projection from the cavity.

Torsion springs 62, as. discussed above, may be embedded under each locking tab to keep inward tension of the locking tabs, The torsion springs mount around a respect i ve cylindrical post (or pivot pin) to tension the spring with regard to its corresponding locking tab so that a user would need to squeeze thcro with approximately 5 lbs of pressure in order to release (pivot) the locking tabs.

When pressing the push button mechanism 74, it retracts the lower lip 82 and, therefore, disengages with the indent or slot 84 in receiver base 12 and no longer stops the lower arms of the locking tabs from rotation (and displacement of the leading edge of the insert). Then a user may squeeze on the two locking tabs at the same time as the push button is depressed to effectuate three point mechanical unlocking of the locking mechanism 1(1.

If used with the locking mechanism i 00. the push button mechanism 74 along with the pjvotabie locking tabs act as a tertiary locking action to the two-stage locking verification means described to locking mechanism 100 (mechanical locking of the insert in the first stage, and electronic locking means of the second stage). In this embodiment, the push button must be depressed at the same time as depressing the locking tabs in order to pivot the locking tabs to disconnect (unlock) the insert from the locking tabs and receiver base cavity. The push button and two locking tabs form a three point contact before locking or unlocking can take place.

The locking mechanisms 1 , 100, 200 may be made of metal or man-made materials. In one form of the invention, locking mechanisms 10, 100, and 200 are made of aluminum. In another form they are made from carbon fiber as a strong, yet lightweight, alternative.

St is to be understood that many changes in the particular structure, materials, and features of the invention may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Therefore it is the Applicant's intention that its patent rights not be limited by the particular embod ments illustrated and described herein, but rather by the following claims interpreted according to accepted doctrines of claim interpretation , including the Doctrine of Equi valents and Reversal of Parts.