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Title:
PORTABLE BATTERY POWERED POWER SUPPLY
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2008/143804
Kind Code:
A2
Abstract:
A portable battery powered power supply (1500) supplies electrical energy to an electrical appliance. The power supply (1500) comprises a housing including a battery receiving region (1536) and power supply circuitry that receives electrical energy from a battery received in the battery receiving region (1536). An electrical connector (1526) is attached for pivotal motion with respect to the housing, and the connector (1526) is pivotable to a first position for connecting to a corresponding connector of the electrical appliance and a second position.

Inventors:
WEINSTEIN NIR (IL)
LIBRUS MICHAEL (IL)
Application Number:
US2008/005970
Publication Date:
November 27, 2008
Filing Date:
May 08, 2008
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
EVEREADY BATTERY INC (US)
WEINSTEIN NIR (IL)
LIBRUS MICHAEL (IL)
International Classes:
H02J7/00
Foreign References:
US20050077869A12005-04-14
US20040204171A12004-10-14
US20060226805A12006-10-12
US20060232243A12006-10-19
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ADAMS, Gregory, J. (Inc.25225 Detroit Roa, Westlake OH, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:

CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1. A portable battery powered power supply (1500) that supplies electrical energy to an electrical appliance, the power supply (1500) comprising: a housing including a battery receiving region (1536); power supply circuitry that receives electrical energy from a battery received in the battery receiving region (1536); an electrical connector (1526) attached for pivotal motion with respect to the housing, wherein the connector (1526) is pivotable to a first position for connecting to a corresponding connector of the electrical appliance and a second position.

2. The power supply (1500) of claim 1, wherein the electrical appliance operates for a first time duration when the electrical connector (1526) is in electrical communication with the corresponding connector of the electrical appliance and operates for a second time duration when the electrical connector (1526) is not in electrical communication with the corresponding connector of the electrical appliance, wherein the first time duration is greater than the second time duration.

3. The power supply (1500) of claims 1 or 2, wherein operation of the electrical appliance is extended when the electrical appliance receives electrical power from the portable battery powered power supply (1500).

4. The power supply (1500) of any of claims 1 to 3 wherein the electrical appliance is a portable multimedia device that at least plays audio files.

5. The power supply (1500) of any of claims 1 to 3 wherein the electrical appliance is a cell phone.

6. The power supply (1500) of any of claims 1 to 5 wherein the connector ( 1526) is attached for pivotal motion over an angular range of about 180 degrees.

7. The power supply of any of claims 1 to 6 wherein the housing includes first and second spaced apart ends (1502, 1504) and the connector (1526) pivots about an axis located approximately midway between the first and second ends (1502, 1504).

8. The power supply of any of claims 1 to 7 wherein the housing includes a front face and the connector (1526) is located to the front of the front face when the connector (1526) is in the first position and to the rear of the front face when the connector (1526) is in the second position.

9. The power supply of claims any of claims 1-8 further including a connector carrier (1518) that pivotally attaches the connector (1526) to the housing, wherein the connector (1526) is movably attached to the connector carrier ( 1518) so as to connect to a corresponding connector of electrical appliances having a plurality of exterior dimensions.

10. The power supply of any of claims 1-8 further including a connector carrier (1518) that pivotally attaches the connector (1526) to the housing, wherein the connector carrier (1518) includes a face, and the face is substantially flush with the first end (1502) when the connector (1526) is in the first position and the second end (1504) when the connector (1526) is in the second position.

11. The power supply of any of claims 1-8, further including a connector carrier (1518) that pivotally attaches the connector (1526) to the housing, wherein the housing includes a first end and the connector carrier (1518) includes a face, and wherein the first end and the face cooperate to form a base that supports the power supply on a horizontal surface when the connector (1526) is in the first position.

12. The power supply of claims 7, 8 or 9 wherein the connector (1526) is movably attached to the connector carrier (1518) for movement to at least three pre-defined, user selectable positions.

13. The power supply of any of claims 1 -6 further including a first electrical contact (1602), a second electrical contact (1604), and a connector carrier (1518) that pivotally attaches the first electrical connector (1602) to the housing, wherein the first electrical contact (1602) is carried by the housing, the second electrical contact (1604) is carried by the connector carrier (1518), and the first electrical contact (1602) makes an electrical contact with the second electrical contact (1604) when the connector (1526) is in the first position.

14. A method comprising: pivoting an electrical connector (1526) of a portable battery powered power supply to an open position; connecting a corresponding connector of an electrically powered appliance to the electrical connector (1526); using the power supply provide electrical energy to the electrical appliance; disconnecting the corresponding connector (1526) from the electrical appliance; and

pivoting the electrical connector (1526) to a closed position in which the electrical connector (1526) is protected by a housing of the power supply.

15. The method of claim 14 further including: selecting an electrical appliance; adjusting a position of the connector (1526) relative to the housing as a function of the selected appliance;

16. The method of claim 15 further including adjusting the position of the connector ( 1526) while the connector ( 1526) is in the closed position.

17. The method of claim 14 wherein the appliance includes a connector carrier (1518), pivoting includes pivoting the connector carrier (1518) so that the carrier (1518) and the housing form a base that supports the power supply on a horizontal surface when the connector carrier ( 1518) is in the open position, and the method includes placing the base on the horizontal surface.

18. The method of claim 17 further including performing the step of connecting prior to the step of placing.

19. The method of claim 14 wherein the power supply includes a battery receiving region (1536), a cover (1516) that allows a user to access the battery receiving region (1536), and wherein pivoting the connector (1526) to the open position enables a latch (1542) that prevents the user from opening the cover (1516).

20. The method of claim 14 wherein the battery powered appliance includes a portable media player.

Description:

PORTABLE BATTERY POWERED POWER SUPPLY

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention generally relates to a portable direct current power supply for a handheld electronic device. More particularly, this invention pertains to a direct current power supply for devices such as cellular phones and/or multimedia devices.

The proliferation of portable battery powered devices, such as cellular telephones and multimedia devices, has increased dramatically in the last several years and this trend is expected to continue. Such devices typically use a built in rechargeable battery to provide the needed power. The length of time that the battery powers the device is dependent primarily upon the size of the battery and the number of energy consuming features built into the device, which tends to increase with each new generation of devices. At the same time that the electrical demand placed on the battery is increasing, the size and weight of such devices is decreasing in order to reduce overall size. As the size is reduced, the size of the battery compartment is also reduced.

The existence of these two trends (i.e. increased electrical demand and reduced battery size) has caused many cell phone users to experience a failed telephone call or data transmission due to the depletion of their phone's battery and multimedia users to experience loss of operation at an inopportune moment In order to encourage consumers to purchase replacement batteries from the manufacturer, the such devices are made with batteries that have unique shapes, locking mechanisms, voltage requirements, etc. Furthermore, the recharging port built into the devices limit the type of charger that can be connected to the device. Collectively, these factors limit the consumer's ability to rapidly replace the depleted battery with another power supply.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION Aspects of the present invention address these matters, and others. According to a first aspect of the invention, a portable battery powered power supply supplies electrical energy to an electrical appliance. The power supply includes a housing including a battery receiving region, power supply circuitry that receives electrical energy from a battery received in the battery receiving region, and an electrical connector attached for pivotal motion with respect to the housing. The connector is pivotable to a first position for connecting to a corresponding connector of the electrical appliance and a second position.

According to another aspect, a method includes pivoting an electrical connector of a portable battery powered power supply to an open position, connecting a corresponding connector of an electrically powered appliance to the electrical connector, using the power supply provide electrical energy to the electrical appliance, disconnecting the corresponding connector from the electrical appliance, and pivoting the electrical connector to a closed position in which the electrical connector is protected by a housing of the power supply.

Those of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate still other aspects of the invention upon reading and understanding the appended description.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS Figure 1 is a perspective view of a portable power supply depicting a contact support in an open position.

Figure 2 is a perspective view of a portable power supply depicting a contact support in a closed position.

Figure 3 is a perspective view of a portable power supply depicting a cover in an open position.

Figure 4 A is a side view of a power supply and a portable appliance. Figure 4B is a front view of power supply and portable appliance.

Figure 5 is a method of using a power supply.

Figure 6 is a perspective view of a power supply with a cover in a closed position.

Figure 7 is a perspective view of a power supply with a cover in an open position.

Figure 8 is a bottom view of power supply.

Figure 9 is a sectional view of a power supply along the direction 23-23 of Figure 1.

Figure 10 depicts electrical connections between a connector and electrical contacts.

Figure 11 is a bottom view of a connector carrier. Figure 12 is a side view of a latch member.

Figure 13 is a rear view of a latch member, cover, and connector carrier along the line 27-27 of Figure 2.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION Turning now to Figure 15, a portable power supply 1500 includes a top 1502, bottom 1504, front 1506, rear 1508, and first 1510 and second 1512 sides. As the power supply 1500 is readily portable, the foregoing descriptions are intended to provide a consistent frame of reference with which to describe the power supply 1500 itself and do not necessarily correspond to the reference frame of a user or otherwise to the external environment. As illustrated in Figure 15, the power supply 1500 is adapted to receive two (2) AA size cells and has external dimensions of approximately 8.92 centimeters (cm) high x 3.52 cm wide x 2.36 cm deep. The power supply 1500 includes a body 1514, a battery cover 1516, and a connector carrier 1518 that are molded or otherwise formed using a polymer such as ABS.

Located inside the cover 1516 is a battery receiving region 1536. Located below the battery receiving region 1536 is a PCB receiving region 1538. The PCB receiving region 1538 receives a PCB that carries power supply circuitry that converts energy from the batteries to the voltage and/or current levels suitable for powering a battery powered appliance (not shown in Figure 15). In one such implementation, the circuitry functions substantially as described above in relation to the circuit board 908 and charges secondary batteries of the portable appliance when the power supply 1500 is connected to the portable appliance. In another implementation, the voltage and/or current levels are selected to operate the battery powered appliance in an extended use mode in which the power supplied by the power supply 1500 is limited to a level that approximates a power drawn by the battery powered appliance in a typical operating mode or when operated according to typical usage patterns. When the appliance is so operated, the state of charge of the appliance batteries remains approximately constant. Such a configuration allows the portable appliance to be operated for a relatively extended time period while conserving the power supply's batteries. The portable appliance can then be recharged at a convenient time using an AC line powered or other suitable charger. Suitable functionality is also disclosed in commonly owned and co-pending U.S. Patent Application No. 11/360,789, filed February 23, 2006 and entitled Power Supply for Battery Powered Devices, which application is expressly incorporated by reference in its entirety herein.

The connector carrier 1518 includes a protruding portion 1520 and a tongue portion 1522. Figure 15 depicts the connector carrier 1518 in a first, open position in which the protruding portion 1520 protrudes generally forwardly from the front 1506 of the power supply 1500 at a location generally to the front of the PCB receiving region 1538. The bottom 1524 of the protruding portion also forms a base that supports the power supply in an upright position on a horizontal surface such as a desk or tabletop. In the illustrated embodiment, a bottom 1524

of the protruding portion is substantially flush with the bottom 1504 of the power supply 1500. Mounting feet or bosses may also be provided.

The protruding portion 1520 carries an electrical connector 1526 that matingly engages a corresponding connector of the electrical appliance, it being understood that the configuration and location of the connector 1526 ordinarily depend on the requirements of the electrical appliance. As illustrated in Figure 15, the connector 1526 faces generally upwardly and is spaced forward from the front 1506 of the power supply so as to engage an electrical connector located on an underside of and spaced away from a rear of the appliance. Where the power supply 1500 is designed for use with appliances having different physical dimensions (as may occur, for example, in the case of a group or family of related appliance), the connector 1526 may also be slidably mounted to the protruding portion 1520 for movement in a direction 1534 that is substantially orthogonal to the front 1506 of the power supply 1500. For example, the connector 1526 may be positionable in a first position that is relatively near to the front of the tongue 1522, a second position that is relatively farther therefrom, and/or one or more intermediate positions.

The front face of the body 1514 includes a first material free region or channel 1528. While obscured by the tongue 1522, it will be appreciated that the first material free region 1528 also extends behind the tongue 1522 and the protruding portion 1520 so that the front of the tongue 1522 is recessed in or generally flush with the front 1506 of the power supply 1500 when the connector carrier 1518 is in the open position.

In the illustrated embodiment, the body 1514 also forms a second material free region 1530 located above the battery receiving region 1536. The second material free region 1530 is dimensioned to receive the protruding portion 1520 and the connector 1526 when the connector carrier is in a closed position. In the illustrated embodiment, the depth of the protruding portion 1520 is less than the depth of the body 1514. The second side of the body 1514 also includes material

free regions such as slots 1552b, 1554b located in the area of the material free region 1530, the purpose of which will be described below. While not visible in Figure 15, it will be understood that the first side of the body 1514 may include similar slots. The connector carrier 1518 is movably attached to the body 1514 so as to be positionable in the open and closed positions. In the illustrated embodiment, the connector carrier 1518 is attached to the body 1514 {e.g. , by way of a pin or pins, a snap fit, or the like) for pivotal motion over an angular range of about 180 degrees. The connector carrier pivots about an axis 1532 located equidistant from the top 1502 and bottom of the 1504 of the power supply 1500. The axis 1532 is located at a front of the body 1514 and slightly to the rear of the mid-point of the depth of the first material free region 1528.

The tongue 1522 also carries a user operable control or button 1540 that maintains the connector carrier 1518 in the open position. As illustrated, latch members 1542a, 1542b extend laterally from the button 1540 and engage corresponding first catches 1544a, 1544b formed in the body 1514. Corresponding second catches 1545a, 1545b that maintain the connector carrier 1518 in the closed position are also shown. To close the connector carrier 1518, the user moves the button 1540 downwardly to release the latch members 1542 from their respective catches 1544 and pivots the connector carrier about the axis 1532. Chamfered edges on the latch members 1542 and/or the catches 1544, 1545 allow the latch members 1542 to engage automatically when the user places the connector carrier 1518 in the desired position. A portion of the button 1540 protrudes outwardly from the tongue 1522; a corresponding material free region portion 1530 receives the protruding portion.

Turning now to Figure 16, the connector carrier 1518 is pivotable to a second, closed position in which the protruding portion 1520 and the connector 1526 are received in the second material free region 1530. In the illustrated embodiment, the height of the body 1514 is established so that the bottom surface

1524 of the protruding portion 1520 is substantially flush with the top of the body 1514 when the connector carrier 1518 is in the closed position. The tongue 1522 is likewise received in the first material free region 1528 so as to be recessed in or substantially flush with the front 1506 of the power supply 1500. Thus, in the illustrated embodiment, the power supply 1500 takes the form of a generally rectangular prism when the connector carrier 1518 is in the closed position, with the cover 1516 and body 1514 tending to protect the connector 1526 from physical damage and/or contamination.

A user actuated control 1606 is recessed in or substantially flush with the surface 1524 of the protruding portion 1520. The control 1606 is in operative mechanical communication with the connector 1526 so that the user may vary the position of the connector 1526 in the direction 1534 by turning the control 1606 about an axis of rotation 1610. To facilitate rotation, the control 1606 includes a slot or depression 1608 that is sized to receive a coin, key or other similar object. In one implementation, the user moves the connector 1526 to the first position by turning the control 1606 to an end of travel in one direction and to the second position by turning the control 1606 to an end of travel in the other direction.

The control 1606 may also provide tactile feedback to the user when the connector 1526 is in one or more predefined positions. Such feedback is especially useful where the connector 1526 is positionable so as to receive electrical appliances having three (3), four (4), or more known connector spacing requirements, or where the first and second positions of the connector 1526 do not correspond to the end of travel of the control 1606. Ease of use is facilitated if the control 1606 is operable with the connector carrier 1518 disposed in either the open or closed positions. Where the connector 1526 is movable, and as illustrated in Figure 15, the material free region portion 1531 is sized to receive the connector 1526 in its various possible positions.

As noted above, the control or button 1540 maintains the contact support 1518 in the closed position. To open the connector carrier 1518, the user slides

the button 1540 generally upwardly to release the latch members 1542 from their respective catches 1544. A material free region 1650 again receives a protruding portion of the button 1540.

A first pair of electrical contacts 1602a, 1602b is accessible from the front surface 1506 of the body 1514 and is electrically connected to the output of the power supply circuitry. The connector carrier 1518 carries a corresponding second pair of electrical contacts 1604a, 1604b that are electrically connected to the desired pins or contacts of the connector 1526. The contacts 1602, 1604 are located so that the corresponding contacts make electrical contact when the connector carrier 1518 is in the open position, hence forming an electrical circuit between the output of the power supply circuitry and the connector 1526. While two sets of contacts are shown, it will be understood that additional contacts may be provided, for example where the power supply circuitry provides multiple outputs or where additional or different signals are provided. Turning now to Figure 17, the cover 1516 is depicted in an open position that allows the user to selectively insert and/or remove the batteries 1702 from the battery receiving region 1536. In the illustrated embodiment, the battery receiving region 1536 receives two (2) generally cylindrical AA-size batteries located side by side so as to occupy a first width. The protruding portion 1520 has a width that is approximately equal to the width occupied by the batteries 1702. The cover 1516 is attached to the body 1514 for slidable motion in a direction 1704 substantially parallel to the longitudinal axes of the batteries 1702 and orthogonal to the axis 1532 and direction 1534, for example by sliding along rails 1706 formed along the sides of the body 1514. As illustrated, the cover 1516 includes a generally U-shaped cross section, the interior 1708 of which conforms to and is slightly larger than the exterior 1710 cross section of the protruding portion 1520. The cover 1516 also carries an optically light transmissive portion 1712. hi one implementation, the cover 1516 is fabricated from a light transmissive polymer and the thickness of the transmissive portion is relatively

less than that of the surrounding material. In another, a light transmissive member is inserted in a material free region of the cover 1516.

The power supply 1500 may also be configured to prevent the user from opening the cover 1516 when the connector 1520 is in the open position. With reference to Figures 15, 16, 26, and 27, the body 1514 includes a latch having first 1581a and second 1581b outwardly facing latch members that engage corresponding material free regions or catches 1583a, 1583b located the inner side walls of the cover 1516. Each latch member 1581 includes a resilient, downwardly extending arm 1585a, 1585b having a protrusion 1587a, 1587b formed at its distal end. When the connector 1520 is in the closed position, sliding the cover 1516 toward the open position urges the latch members 1581 generally inwardly so that the protrusions 1587 disengage from their respective catches 1583 thus allowing the cover 1516 to open. When the connector 1526 is in the open position, however, the connector carrier side walls 1589 prevent inward motion of the latch members 1581, thereby enabling the latch and preventing the cover 1516 from opening. Note that, in the illustrated embodiment, the latch members 1581 also prevent the connector 1526 from being placed in the open position when the cover 1516 is open.

Other cover 1516 configurations are also contemplated. For example, the cover 1516 may be substantially permanently affixed to the body 1514, with access to the battery receiving region 1536 provided through a second, removable cover located on the back 1508 of the cover 1516.

Turning now to Figure 23, the battery cover 1516 is depicted in the closed position and the connector carrier 1518 is depicted in the open position. A printed circuit board 2302 is located in the printed circuit board receiving region 1538 and carries the desired power supply circuitry. The circuit board 2302 carries upwardly facing battery contacts 2304 that make electrical contact with the terminals of batteries received in the battery receiving region. The circuit board also carries a human visible indicator 2306 such as a light emitting diode (LED)

2308 that indicates an operational state of the power supply 1500, for example to indicate that the power supply circuit is charging the battery of an appliance connected to the power supply 1500. The indicator 2306 is in optical communication with the transmissive portion 1712 so as to be visible through the cover. A printed circuit board cover (omitted for clarity of illustration) located inwardly of the cover 1516 may also be provided.

Construction of the connectors 1602, 1604 will now be described, it being understood that the section plane of Figure 23 is located at the approximate lateral mid-point of the connectors 1602a, 1604a and that connectors 1602b, 1604b are similarly constructed. The body 1514 includes a first material free region 2314a extending from the printed circuit board receiving region 1538 to the front of the body 1514. A first forward facing protrusion 2310a surrounds the material free region 2314a. The connector carrier includes a corresponding, slightly larger depression 2312a. A material free region 2316a extends through the wall of the connector carrier 1518 at the location of the depression 2312a.

A spring electrical contact 2318a is carried by the circuit board and extends into the material free region 2314a of the body 1514. To reduce the likelihood of an inadvertent short circuit when the connector carrier is in the closed position, the front-most portion of the contact 2318a does not reach the front surface of the protrusion 2312 and hence remains recessed in the front wall of the body 1514.

The connector carrier 1518 carries a corresponding contact 2320a such as a generally cylindrical pin. The contact 2320a extends through the material free region 2316a and into the material free region 2314a, where it makes electrical contact with the spring contact 2308a.

Note that the dimensions of the protrusion 2310a, depression 2312a, and the locations of the contacts 2308a, 2320a and their location in the depth direction relative to the axis 1532 should be selected so that the outwardly extending portion of the contact 2320a does not extend past the front 1506 surface of the

body 1514 when the connector carrier 1518 is in the closed position. Such an arrangement tends to protect the contact 2320a and can be exploited to allow the front 1506 of the power supply 1500 to be placed flat on a table or other substantially planar surface without interference from the contact 2320a. The electrical connections between the connector 1526 and the contacts

2320a, 2320b will now be described with additional reference to Figure 24. Note that various housings, covers, and other components are omitted for clarity of explanation. The connector 1526 is suitably secured to a PCB 2402, for example by way of screws or other fasteners. Electrical connections are provided by connector pins 2404 soldered to the PCB 2402. The circuit board also includes first and second material free regions 2406a, 2406b that correspond to the locations of the connectors 2320a, 2320b. Sliding contacts 2408a, 2408b having generally inwardly facing contact portions are soldered to the PCB 2402 so the contact portions make a sliding electrical contact with the connectors 2320a, 2320b. Traces carried by the PCB 2402 provide the desired electrical connections between the connectors 2320 and the connector pins 2404.

Note that the PCB 2402 may also carry additional components or circuitry, hi one such example, the electrical appliance may seek to identify the power supply 1500 as a compatible device before accepting power therefrom, for example by detecting the presence of resistors or other identification components. Such components may be located on the PCB 2402 and connected to the connector 1526 via the connector pins 2404. As another example, the PCB 2402 may carry some or all of the power supply circuitry.

As noted above, the connector 1526 is movable with respect to the connector carrier 1518. With reference to Figures 15, 23, and 25, housing 2502 houses a bottom portion of the connector 1526, and the PCB 2402. A slot 2504 at the bottom of the housing 2502 receives a first peg 2506 that extends upwardly from the control 1606. The first peg 2506 is located eccentric to the axis of rotation 1610 so that rotation of the control 1606 varies the position of the first

I l

peg 1506 in the direction 1534. The first peg 2506 in turn engages the housing 2502, thus causing the connector to also move in the direction 1534. A second eccentrically located peg 2508 extends downwardly from the control 1606 and engages depressions 2510a, 2510b, 2510c, 251Od formed in the upper surface of protrusion 1520 bottom wall, thus providing the user with tactile feedback when the connector 1516 is located at predefined positions with respect to the front of the power supply.

Figures 18A and 18B depict a portable appliance 1800 such as a portable media player connected to the power supply 1500. As illustrated, the portable appliance 1800 is configured as a rectangular prism having front 1802 and rear 1804 surfaces. An operator interface such as a display 1806 and/or buttons or keys 1808 are disposed on the front surface 1804. The portable appliance 1800 also carries a rechargeable energy source such as one or more lithium ion (Li Ion) or other secondary batteries. The portable appliance 1800 includes a first electrical connector 1810 that is accessed from a bottom 1812 of the portable appliance 1800. The first electrical connector includes at least first and second power pins or contacts in operative electrical communication with the appliance's rechargeable energy source. The appliance 1800 may also include a second connector 1814 that is accessed from the bottom 1812 of the appliance 1800. In the case of a portable music player, for example, the second connector 1814 may be a headphone jack. As illustrated in Figures 18A and 18B, the connector 1526 of the power supply 1500 matingly engages the first connector 1810 of the portable appliance 1800 so as to receive energy from the power supply 1500. The rear surface 1804 of the portable appliance 1800 is supported by the front surface 1506 of the power supply 1500. Operating controls located on the front 1802 and/or sides of the portable appliance 1800 remain accessible to the user. Also as illustrated, the power supply 1500 has a width less than the width of the appliance 1800. As the second connector 1814 is located laterally of the power supply 1500, the second

connector 1814 remains accessible to the user while the portable appliance 1800 is installed on the power supply 1500.

Operation of the power supply 1500 will now be described in relation to Figure 19. At 1902, the user accesses the battery receiving region 1536, for example by sliding the cover 1516 downwardly with respect to the body 1514. After inserting the desired batteries, the user closes the cover 1516.

At 1904, if the connector carrier 1518 is in the closed position, the user opens the connector carrier at 1518 so as to expose the connector 1526. At 1906, the user selects a desired portable appliance 1800.

If necessary, the user adjusts the position of the connector 1526 to accommodate the selected appliance 1800 at 1908. The appliance 1800 may be selected and the connector 1526 adjusted before inserting the batteries 1702 and/or opening the connector carrier 1518. At 1910, the user connects the portable appliance 1800 and the power supply 1500 so that the respective connectors 1526, 1810 engage. The power supply circuitry thus supplies the desired energy to the appliance 1800.

At 1911, the user places the base of the power supply 1500 on a horizontal surface. Note that the base of the power supply may also be placed on the horizontal surface prior to connecting the two devices.

At 1912, the user operates the portable appliance 1800 as desired.

At 1914, the user disconnects the portable appliance 1800 and the power supply 1500. If desired, the user may continue to operate the portable appliance 1800. At 1916, the user places the connector carrier 1518 in the closed position.

At 1918, the user stores the power supply 1500 as desired. For example, the user may place the power supply in a purse or backpack, a pocket of a shirt, pants, jacket, or other article of clothing, an automobile glove box or other storage area, a drawer, a school locker, or the like.

At 1920, the process is repeated as desired.

Still other alternatives and variations are contemplated. For example, the power supply 1500 may be configured to receive other numbers and sizes of batteries and to power various other portable devices. It should also be noted that the material free region 1530, 1531 may be defined by the cover 1516, either alone or in cooperation with the body 1514. Some or all of the walls may also be omitted. Other configurations of the connectors 1602, 1604a are also contemplated. For example, the contacts 2302 may be spring loaded or otherwise urged in the direction of the contacts 2318. The contacts 2318 may also be configured as conductive plugs that are recessed in the material free regions 2314. Electrical connections to the connector 1526 may also be provided by way of a flexible circuit. It should also be noted that the connector carrier 1518 may also be mounted for slidable motion into a material free region located generally below the battery receiving region. Figures 20 and 21 illustrate another variation of a power supply 2000. The construction and form factor of the power supply 2000 are similar to that of the power supply 1500, with the movable connector carrier 1518 and the first 1528 and second 1530 material free regions being omitted. As a consequence, the height and depth of the power supply 2000 may be less then those of the power supply 1500. The body 2002 also includes a substantially planar front surface 2004. The cover 2006 is again mounted for slidable motion relative to the body 2002, for example along rails 2108, so as to allow the user to access the battery receiving region 2010 for inserting and removing the batteries 2012.

Electrical connections to the portable appliance are provided by way of a flexible cable 2014. A connector 2016 located at the distal end of the cable 2014 matingly engages a corresponding connector of the portable appliance. In one embodiment, the proximal end of the cable 2014 is permanently connected to the power supply 2000. In another, the proximal end of the cable 2014 is removably connected to the power supply 2000 via suitable electrical connector.

To facilitate the opening and closing of the cover 2006, the length 2018 of the cable 2014 (e.g., the distance from the underside 2020 of the power supply 1500 to the shoulder 2022 of the connector 2016) is preferably approximately equal to or greater than the distance 2024 traveled by the cover 2006 when moved between the open and closed positions.

Figure 22 presents a bottom view of the power supply 2000. The cover 2006 includes a material free region 2028. A connector 2026 is carried by the body 2002 and accessed through the material free region 2028 so that a mating connector on the proximal end of the cable 2014 can engage the connector as desired and to allow opening and closing of the cover 2006 when the cable 2014 is connected. As noted above, the connector 2026 may be omitted and the cable 2014 permanently connected to the power supply 1500.

It is to be appreciated that the electrical appliance can be a portable multimedia device such as one the at least plays audio files, a cell phone, or other device. In one instance, the electrical appliance operates for a first time duration when the electrical connector 1526 is in electrical communication with the corresponding connector of the electrical appliance and operates for a second time duration when the electrical connector 1526 is not in electrical communication with the corresponding connector of the electrical appliance, wherein the first time duration is greater than the second time duration. In another instance, operation of the electrical appliance is extended when the electrical appliance receives electrical power from the portable battery powered power supply 1500.

The following are non-limiting examples of various embodiments and are not to be construed as the claims or as limiting the scope of the claims. 1. A portable battery powered power supply that supplies electrical energy to an electrical appliance, the power supply comprising: a housing including a battery receiving region; power supply circuitry that receives electrical energy from a battery received in the battery receiving region;

an electrical connector attached for pivotal motion with respect to the housing, wherein the connector is pivotable to a first position for connecting to a corresponding connector of the electrical appliance and a second position.

2. The power supply of claim 1 wherein the connector is attached for pivotal motion over an angular range of about 180 degrees.

3. The power supply of claim 1 wherein the housing includes first and second spaced apart ends and the connector pivots about an axis located approximately midway between the first and second ends.

4. The power supply of claim 3 including a connector carrier that pivotally attaches the connector to the housing, wherein the connector carrier includes a face, and the face is substantially flush with the first end when the connector is in the first position and the second end when the connector is in the second position.

5. The power supply of claim 1 wherein the housing includes a front face and the connector is located to the front of the front face when the connector is in the first position and to the rear of the front face when the connector is in the second position.

6. The power supply of claim 5 wherein the battery receiving region and the power supply circuitry are located to the rear of the front face, and the battery receiving region is located between the connector and the power supply circuitry when the connector is in the second position.

7. The power supply of claim 5 wherein the front face supports a face of the electrical appliance when the corresponding connector of the electrical appliance is connected to the electrical connector.

8. The power supply of claim 1 wherein the housing defines a material free region that receives the connector when the connector is in the second position.

9. The power supply of claim 1 wherein the power supply forms a rectangular prism when the connector is in the second position.

10. The power supply of claim 1 including a connector carrier that pivotally attaches the connector to the housing, wherein the connector is movably attached

to the connector carrier so as to connect to a corresponding connector of electrical appliances having a plurality of exterior dimensions.

1 1. The power supply of claim 1 including a connector carrier that pivotally attaches the connector to the housing, wherein the housing includes a face and the connector is movably attached to the connector carrier so that the distance between the connector and the face when the connector carrier is in the first position is variable.

12. The power supply of claim 11 wherein the connector is movably attached to the connector carrier for movement to at least three pre-defined, user selectable positions.

13. The power supply of claim 1 including a connector carrier that pivotally attaches the connector to the housing, wherein the housing includes a first end and the connector carrier includes a face, and wherein the first end and the face cooperate to form a base that supports the power supply on a horizontal surface when the connector is in the first position.

14. The power supply of claim 1 including a first electrical contact, a second electrical contact, and a connector carrier that pivotally attaches the first electrical connector to the housing, wherein the first electrical contact is carried by the housing, the second electrical contact is carried by the connector carrier, and the first electrical contact makes an electrical contact with the second electrical contact when the connector is in the first position.

15. The power supply of claim 1 including a latch that retains the connector in the first and second positions.

16. The power supply of claim 1 wherein the housing includes a body; battery receiving region cover slidably attached to the body.

17. The power supply of claim 1 wherein the power supply circuitry includes battery charger circuitry.

18. A method comprising:

pivoting an electrical connector of a portable battery powered power supply to an open position; connecting a corresponding connector of an electrically powered appliance to the electrical connector; using the power supply provide electrical energy to the electrical appliance; disconnecting the corresponding connector from the electrical appliance; pivoting the electrical connector to a closed position in which the electrical connector is protected by a housing of the power supply. 19. The method of claim 18 including: selecting an electrical appliance; adjusting a position of the connector relative to the housing as a function of the selected appliance;

20. The method of claim 19 including adjusting the position of the connector while the connector is in the closed position.

21. The method of claim 18 wherein the appliance includes a connector carrier, pivoting includes pivoting the connector carrier so that the carrier and the housing form a base that supports the power supply on a horizontal surface when the connector carrier is in the open position, and the method includes placing the base on the horizontal surface.

22. The method of claim 21 including performing the step of connecting prior to the step of placing.

23. The method of claim 18 wherein the power supply includes a battery receiving region, a cover that allows a user to access the battery receiving region, and wherein pivoting the connector to the open position enables a latch that prevents the user from opening the cover.

24. The method of claim 18 wherein the battery powered appliance includes a portable media player.

25. A portable battery powered power supply that supplies electrical energy to an electrical appliance, the power supply comprising: a housing including a battery receiving region that receives a generally cylindrical battery along a longitudinal axis and a top, a bottom, and a front; power supply circuitry that receives electrical energy from a battery received in the battery receiving region, wherein the power supply circuitry is located between the bottom of the housing and the battery receiving region; a connector that provides an electrical connection to a corresponding connector of the electrical appliance; a connector carrier including a protruding portion that carries the connector, wherein the connector carrier is attached to the housing for pivotal motion about a pivot axis that is perpendicular to the longitudinal axis, and wherein the connector carrier is movable to first position in which the protruding portion protrudes forward from the front of the housing at a location to the front of the power supply circuitry and to a second position in which the protruding portion protrudes rearward from the front of the housing at a location above the battery receiving region.

26. The portable battery powered power supply of claim 25 wherein the protruding portion and the bottom of the housing cooperate, when the connector carrier is in the first position, to form a base that supports the power supply and the electrical appliance in an upright position on a horizontal surface.

27. The portable battery powered power supply of claim 25 wherein the corresponding electrical connector is accessed from the bottom of and spaced away from the rear of the electrical appliance, the electrical connector faces upwardly when the connector carrier is in the open position so as to engage the corresponding connector, and the electrical connector is spaced away from the front of the power supply so that the front power supply supports the rear of the appliance when the connectors are so engaged.

28. The portable battery powered power supply of claim 25 wherein the spacing between the front of the power supply and the electrical connector is user- adjustable.

29. The portable battery powered power supply of claim 25 wherein the housing includes a body and a cover, the connector carrier is pivotally attached to the body, and the cover is slidably attached to the body for motion in a direction parallel to the longitudinal axis.

30. The portable battery powered power supply of claim 25 wherein the battery receiving region receives two AA-size batteries located side by side so as to occupy a first width and the protruding portion has a width that is less than or approximately equal to the width occupied by the batteries.

31. The portable battery powered power supply of claim 25 wherein the housing defines a material free region that receives the connector when the connector carrier is in the closed position. 32. The portable battery powered power supply of claim 31 wherein the housing surrounds the material free region on exactly four sides. 33. A portable battery powered power supply that supplies electrical energy to an electrical appliance that includes a housing having a bottom, a first upstanding surface, and an appliance electrical connector that is accessible from the bottom of the appliance and spaced away from the upstanding surface, the power supply comprising: a housing including a battery receiving region, a bottom, and a second upstanding surface; power supply circuitry that receives electrical energy from a battery received in the battery receiving region; an upwardly facing electrical connector that engages the appliance electrical connector, wherein the spacing between the upwardly facing connector and the second upstanding surface is user adjustable to selectively accommodate a first electrical appliance in which the appliance electrical connector is spaced

away from the first upstanding surface by a first distance and a second electrical appliance in which the appliance electrical connector is spaced away from the first upstanding surface by a second distance that is different from the first distance. 34. The power supply of claim 33 including a user operable control that allows the user to the adjust the spacing between the upwardly facing connector and the second upstanding surface, wherein the control provides the user with a tactile indication when the spacing is adjusted to at least first and second predetermined positions.

The above are non-limiting examples of various embodiments and are not to be construed as the claims or as limiting the scope of the claims.

The above description is considered that of the preferred embodiments only. Modifications of the invention will occur to those skilled in the art and to those who make or use the invention. Therefore, it is understood that the embodiments shown in the drawings and described above are merely for illustrative purposes and are not intended to limit the scope of the invention, which is defined by the following claims as interpreted according to the principles of patent law, including the Doctrine of Equivalents.