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Title:
A RETRACTABLE AWNING
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2006/024105
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A retractable awning (10) including a frame (12) for mounting the awning (10 to a structure. The frame (12) is operable to move the awning (10) between a retracted position against the structure and an extended position projecting from the structure and over an area to be sheltered. The awning (10) also includes a flexible shelter material (14) supported by the frame (12). The shelter material (14) is stored when the awning (10) is in the retracted position and overlies the sheltered area when the awning (10) is in the extended position so as to provide overhead shelter to the area. The shelter material (14) can depend from at least one side of the frame (12) when the awning (10) is in the extended position so as to provide side shelter to the area.

Inventors:
Stroh, Tim (145 Woodlands Drive, Braeside, Victoria 3195, AU)
Application Number:
PCT/AU2005/001334
Publication Date:
March 09, 2006
Filing Date:
September 05, 2005
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
GALE PACIFIC LIMITED (145 Woodlands Drive, Braeside, Victoria 3195, AU)
Stroh, Tim (145 Woodlands Drive, Braeside, Victoria 3195, AU)
International Classes:
E04F10/06; (IPC1-7): E04F10/06
Foreign References:
US4214621A
DE19949215A1
DE20102445U1
DE4223801C1
EP1199422A1
US6068008A
DE2904884A1
DE4019434A1
DE4021264A1
DE20204960U1
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PHILLIPS ORMONDE & FITZPATRICK (Levels 21 & 22, 367 Collins Street Melbourne, Victoria 3000, AU)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS
1. A retractable awning including a frame for mounting the awning to a structure, the frame being operable to move the awning between a retracted position against the structure and an extended position projecting from the structure and over an area to be sheltered; and flexible shelter material supported by the frame, the shelter material being stored when the awning is in the retracted position and overlying the sheltered area when the awning is in the extended position so as to provide overhead shelter to the area, wherein the shelter material can depend from at least one side of the frame when the awning is in the extended position so as to provide side shelter to the area.
2. A retractable awning according to claim 1 , wherein the frame includes two support units between which the shelter material extends and is supported.
3. A retractable awning according to claim 2, wherein the support units are movable toward and away from one another as the frame moves toward the retracted and extended positions, respectively.
4. A retractable awning according to claim 3, wherein the support units are located adjacent one another in the retracted position, and in spaced apart relation in the extended position.
5. A retractable awning according to any one of claims 2 to 4, wherein one of the support units is mountable to the structure for use of the awning, whilst the other support unit is moveable in order to achieve their relative movement and disposition.
6. A retractable awning according to any one of claims 2 to 5, wherein the support units are each elongate and of rigid construction.
7. A retractable awning according to claim 6, wherein the support units extend at least generally parallel to one another.
8. A retractable awning according to claim 7, wherein the support units remain at least generally parallel to one another throughout their relative movement.
9. A retractable awning according to claim 5, or any one of claims 6 to 8 when dependent on claim 5, wherein the mountable support unit includes a support member by which the shelter material is stored when the awning is in the retracted position, and is released from storage as the awning moves to the extended position and retrieved into storage as the awning moves to the retracted position.
10. A retractable awning according to claim 9, wherein the support member includes a support roller on which the shelter material is stored and from which it is released.
11. A retractable awning according to claim 5, or any one of claims 6 to 10 when dependent on claim 5, wherein the moveable support unit includes a movable support member to which the shelter material extends and is supported thereby.
12. A retractable awning according to claim 5, or any one of claims 6 to 11 when dependent on claim 5, wherein the moveable support member is a support bar.
13. A retractable awning according to claim 5, or any one of claims 6 to 12 when dependent on claim 5, wherein the mountable support unit includes a support fixture for mounting the support roller to a structure for use.
14. A retractable awning according to claim 13, wherein the support fixture includes two mounting brackets between which the roller is rotatably mounted.
15. A retractable awning according to claim 13 or 14, wherein the support fixture includes a housing in which the roller is located, and into which the shelter material is protectively stored upon winding onto the roller.
16. A retractable awning according to claim 14, or 15 when dependent on claim 14, wherein the mounting brackets are carried in the housing.
17. A retractable awning according to claim 2, or any one of claims 3 to 16 when dependent on claim 2, wherein the frame includes at least one connection member extending between and interconnecting the support units in order to retain them in their relative locations.
18. A retractable awning according to claim 17, wherein the or each connection member is elongate with opposite ends, each end being connected to a respective one of the support units so as to maintain the support units in their relationship in the retracted and extended positions and during movement therebetween.
19. A retractable awning according to claims 17 or 18 when dependent on claims 11 and 13, wherein the or each connection member includes a connection beam, one end of which is connected to the support fixture of the mountable support unit, and the other end of which is connected to moveable support member, the connection beam being articulated to accommodate the moveable support member movement.
20. A retractable awning according to claim 19, wherein the sections of the or each connection beam are pivotably connected endtoend, with respective beam ends being pivotably connected to the support fixture and the moveable support member.
21. A retractable awning according to claim 19 or 20, wherein the or each beam folds in a generally horizontal plane.
22. A retractable awning according to any one of claims 19 to 21 , wherein the or each connection beam is constructed of two sections, pivotably interconnected at adjacent ends.
23. A retractable awning according to any one of claims 19 to 22, including two connection beams spaced apart along the elongate support units.
24. A retractable awning according to claim 23, wherein the beams each extend between and are connected to the support fixture and the support bar at or adjacent corresponding ends thereof.
25. A retractable awning according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the awning is manually moveable between the retracted and extended positions.
26. A retractable awning according to any one of the preceding claims, including a drive system for mechanically moving the awning between the retracted and extended positions.
27. A retractable awning according to claim 26 when dependent on claim 5, the drive system including a drive motor selectively operable to supply a drive output to the mountable support unit for storage and dispensing of the shelter material.
28. A retractable awning according to claim 26 or 27 when dependent on claim 11 , the drive system including at least one biasing member acting on the or at least one of the connection members so as to bias the member(s) into a condition in which the moveable support member is in the extended position of the awning.
29. A retractable awning according to claim 28, wherein each biasing member provides a resilient bias to each connection beam.
30. A retractable awning according to claim 28 or 29, wherein each biasing member is a biasing spring.
31. A retractable awning according to claim 11 , or any one of claims 12 to 30 when dependent on claim 11 , wherein the shelter material is supported and guided by, but not secured or fixed to the moveable support member.
32. A retractable awning according to claim 9, or any one of claims 10 to 31 when dependent on claim 9, wherein whether or not the shelter material provides a side shelter, and the extent of that side shelter, depends on the length of material released from the mountable support member.
33. A retractable awning according to claim 12, or any one of claims 13 to 32 when dependent on claim 12, wherein the support bar includes a shelter material guide for providing orderly movement of the material relative to the bar whilst maintaining support for the material, during retraction and extension of the awning.
34. A retractable awning according to claim 33, wherein the material guide includes a guide slot extending along the support bar, and through which the material passes.
35. A retractable awning according to claim 33, wherein the material guide includes spaced apart guide stops on the support bar and defining a guideway therebetween through which the shelter material moves.
36. A retractable awning according to claim 11 , or any one of claims 12 to 35 when dependent on claim 11 , wherein the awning includes retaining means allowing the material to depend from the moveable support member but acting to prevent the other or free end of the material from retracting pas the support member as the material is retracted to the mountable support member.
37. A retractable awning according to claim 36, the retaining means including at least one retaining member mounted at or adjacent the other end of the shelter material, and arranged to engage with the moveable support member once the material has been retracted sufficiently that the other end of the material reaches the moveable support member.
38. A retractable awning according to claim 37, wherein each retaining member is elongate, and extends at least partially along the other end of the shelter material.
39. A retractable awning according to claim 37 or 38, wherein the retaining member includes a retaining bar secured along the other end of the shelter material.
40. A retractable awning according to claim 39, wherein the retaining bar is of a weight that facilitates tensioning of the shelter material in the extended position of the awning.
41. A retractable awning according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the shelter material is a shelter fabric. 1/2 FIG 2 2/2 FIG 3.
Description:
A RETRACTABLE AWNING

This invention relates to a retractable awning. The awning is applicable for mounting on an upright construction, such as an external wall or eave of a domestic or commercial building, a motor home or caravan, or other structure in order to project therefrom and provide protective shade or other shelter to an area immediately adjacent the wall and underlying the awning. It will be convenient to hereinafter disclose the invention in relation to that exemplary application. However, it is to be appreciated that the invention is not limited to that application.

The following discussion of the background to the invention is intended to facilitate an understanding of the invention. However, it should be appreciated that the discussion is not an acknowledgement or admission that any of the material referred to was published, known or part of the common general knowledge in Australia or elsewhere as at the priority date of the application.

Awnings have been mounted on external walls and other parts of buildings and structures so as to project generally horizontally therefrom over a ground, floor, pavement, patio or other useful area in order to provide some environmental shelter to the underlying area, particularly shelter from sun and rain. In one form the awnings are fixed in a generally horizontally projecting position which sometimes presents difficulties when the shelter is not required. As a consequence, such awnings can reduce the usefulness of the area being sheltered.

In an effort to address those difficulties, awnings have been developed which are selectively retractable from over the sheltered area when not required. Those awnings increase the usefulness of the underlying area.

However, a disadvantage of these awnings is that the underlying area remains exposed to environmental effects from those sides not sheltered by the adjacent structure wall. In particular, wind, rain and sunrays can penetrate into the area through the open sides beneath the overhead awning. It is an object of the present invention to provide a retractable awning which provides improved shelter to the shelter area.

With that object in mind, the present invention broadly provides a retractable awning including: a frame for mounting the awning to a structure, the frame being operable to move the awning between a retracted position against the structure and an extended position projecting from the structure and over an area to be sheltered; and flexible shelter material supported by the frame, the shelter material being stored when the awning is in the retracted position and overlying the sheltered area when the awning is in the extended position so as to provide overhead shelter to the area, wherein the shelter material can depend from at least one side of the frame when the awning is in the extended position so as to provide side shelter to the area.

This invention is disclosed with reference to the awning in a normal use orientation on an upright structural wall, and terms such as "overlying", "beneath" and "horizontal" should be construed in the light of this orientation. However, it is to be appreciated that other orientations may be equally possible and that consequential changes in terms such as those above may be required in the light of those other orientations for a proper and complete understanding of the invention.

The present invention be may be incorporated into retractable awnings of various constructions as will be appreciated by those skilled in the relevant art. However, to assist in an understanding of the invention, an example of one such awning will be described.

In that example awning, the frame includes two support units between which the shelter material extends and is supported. Those support units are movable toward and away from one another as the frame moves toward the retracted and extended positions, respectively. Thus, the support units are located adjacent one another in the retracted position, and in spaced apart relation in the extended position. In use of this awning, in the extended position, the frame projects in a generally horizontal plane from the structure, although it should be appreciated that the frame may be configured so as to project at other angles or planes, or extend in an arc or curve, relative to the structure. Movement of the support units between the retracted and extended positions causes the shelter material to respectively uncover and cover over the underlying shelter area.

In one form, one of the support units (the mountable support unit) is mountable to the structure for use of the awning, whilst the other support unit (the moveable support unit) is moveable in order to achieve their relative movement and disposition. Thus, in use, the moveable support unit moves toward and away from the mountable support unit into the retracted and extended positions, respectively. That movement in turn causes the shelter material to move to uncover and cover the shelter area.

In one form, the support units are each elongate and of rigid construction. Moreover, those units extend at least generally parallel to one another. That parallel relationship is maintained throughout their relative movement, in this form. Thus, in the retracted position, the support units extend side-by-side one another, whilst in the extended position they are in spaced apart but parallel relation to one another in a generally horizontal plane.

In one form, the mountable support unit includes a support member by which the shelter material is stored when the awning is in the retracted position, and is released from storage as the awning moves to the extended position and retrieved into storage as the awning moves to the retracted position. Release and retrieval of the shelter material occurs progressively with movement of the movable support unit, in this form.

In one form, the support member includes a support roller on which the shelter material is stored and from which it is dispensed. The shelter material is connected to that roller, and the roller is rotatable about a central longitudinal axis in order to order to wind up the shelter material onto the roller to retrieve the material, and unwind the shelter material from the roller to release the material, as the moveable support unit moves to the retracted and extended positions, respectively. Thus, the shelter material is stored in roll form on the roller in the retracted position, and progressively released from storage by unrolling fed therefrom as the moveable support unit moves away from the roller into the awning extended position. Similarly, the material is progressively retrieved into storage by rolling onto the roller as the moveable support unit moves back toward the support roller.

In one form of the example awning, the moveable support unit includes a movable support member to which the shelter material extends and is supported thereby. In this form, the shelter material is supportingly received by the member so that, as the member moves away from the mountable support member, the shelter material is drawn with the moveable member. In this form, the shelter material is also received by the moveable support member so that the material can be held taut between the members, at least when the awning is in its extended position. The shelter material is preferably also held taut as the awning is being retracted and extended, in this form.

In one form, the moveable support member is a support bar. That bar may be in the form of a support rod or tube or rail. The support bar is of a generally circular cross-sectional shape, in one form.

In at least one form, the mountable support unit includes a support fixture for mounting the support roller to a structure for use. That fixture permits the roller to rotate about a central longitudinal axis, for rolling and unrolling of the shelter material, but otherwise fixes the roller in position on the structure, in this form.

In one form, the support fixture includes two mounting brackets between which the roller is rotatably mounted. Thus, one bracket is connected to each end of the roller for supported rotation of the roller about its central axis.

In one form, the support fixture also includes a housing in which the roller is located, and into which the shelter material is protectively stored upon winding onto the roller. That housing substantially surrounds and encloses the roller in this form, but has an elongate opening therealong through which the shelter material can feed onto and from the roller.

In one form, the mounting brackets are carried in the housing. Moreover, in this form the housing is constructed for fixing to the structure in order to mount the awning thereto.

In at least one form of the example awning, the frame includes at least one connection member extending between and interconnecting the support units in order to retain them in their relative locations, ie in their parallel, generally horizontal orientation in the described example of the awning.

In one form, the or each connection member is elongate with opposite ends, each end being connected to a respective one of the support units so as to maintain the support units in their relationship in the retracted and extended positions and during movement therebetween. In this form, the or each connection member is adjustable to accommodate the movement of the moveable support unit.

In one form, the or each connection member includes a connection beam, one end of which is connected to the support fixture of the mountable support unit, and the other end of which is connected to the moveable support member. In this form, the connection beam is articulated to accommodate the moveable support member movement. That articulation is preferably achieved by constructing the beam of two or more rigid sections which are moveably interconnected to one another.

In one form, the sections of the or each construction beam are pivotably connected end-to-end, with respective beam ends being pivotably connected to the support fixture and the moveable support member. The pivot connections have parallel pivot axes enabling the beam sections to fold relative to one another, and relative to the support fixture and moveable support member, as that member moves during retraction and extension of the awning. In one form, the or each beam folds in a plane that extends parallel to the general plane of the frame, for example in a horizontal plane. However, it will be appreciated that the connection beam(s) may fold in other planes and, in particular, in a plane perpendicular to the general plane of the frame away from and toward the plane of movement of the moveable support member during retraction and extension.

In one form, the or each connection beam is constructed of two sections, pivotably interconnected at adjacent ends.

In one form, two connection beams are provided. Those beams are spaced apart along the elongate support units, in this form. Preferably, those beams each extend between and are connected to the support fixture and the support bar at or adjacent corresponding ends thereof. Moreover, those beams fold inwardly toward one another during retracting movement of the support bar.

In one form, the awning may be manually moveable between the retracted and extended positions. That can be achieved by applying a force to the support bar in the retracted position so as to cause it to move away from the support fixture into the extended position. If convenient, the support bar can simply be manually gripped and pulled to apply that force. Alternatively, if the bar is not within convenient reach, then a drive pole can be manipulated in order to apply that force. As the support bar moves towards the extended position, the shelter material is progressively drawn from the support roller so as to form a taut, planar covering extending between the fixture and support bar. It will be appreciated that applying a reverse manual force to the support bar will cause it to reverse back toward the support fixture and, in doing so, the shelter material will progressively rewind onto the support roller for storage.

In a preferred form of the exemplary awning, a drive system is provided for mechanically moving the awning between the retracted and extended positions. In particular, that drive system is operable to control movement of the moveable support member. That drive system may be of any suitable construction as will be well appreciated by those skilled in the relevant art.

In a preferred arrangement, the drive system includes a drive motor selectively operable to supply a drive output to the mountable support unit for storage and dispensing of the shelter material. In one form, the driver motor is operable to rotate the support roller and thereby rollup and unroll the shelter material during retraction and extension, respectively, of the awning.

At least one biasing member acting on the or at least one of the connection members so as to bias the member(s) into a condition in which the moveable support member is in the extended position of the awning may be provided.

In one form including at least one biasing member, as the drive motor operates to dispense the shelter material from the mountable support member, the connection member(s) adjust under action of the biasing member(s) so as to move the moveable support member away from the roller. The shelter material is dispensed at a rate determined so that the moving connection member(s) and moveable support member maintains the shelter material generally taut between the mountable and moveable support members. Upon reverse operation of the drive motor, the shelter material is retrieved for storage, the tension in the material extending between the mountable and moveable support members overcoming the bias of the biasing member(s) to move the connection member(s) and so move the moveable support member back toward the mountable support member.

In one form, the drive motor may be an electric motor with a rotary or a linear output. That motor may be connected directly to the support roller, or indirectly connected thereto through a suitable drive transmission, such as drive gears and/or screws and/or belts and pulleys, for transmitting the drive motor output to the roller.

In one form, the or each biasing member provides a resilient bias to the connection beam(s). In one form, each biasing member is a biasing spring. A respective spring may be incorporated into one or more of the pivot connections between interconnected connection beam sections, and/or between the connection beams and support roller and support bar. With this arrangement, the connection beams unfold under action of the springs as the shelter material is released from the roller, and then refold between the roller and support bar as the shelter material is retrieved back onto the rotating roller.

In at least one form, the shelter material is elongate with opposite ends. One material end is secured to the mountable support member, in this form. In one preferred form, that end is secured to the support roller so that the material can be progressively wound onto and unwound from the roller without relative slippage.

In at least one form, the shelter material is supported and guided by, but not secured or fixed to the moveable support member. Moreover, in this form, the material is of a length such that, in the extended position of the awning, the material can extend from the one end secured to the mountable support member, to the moveable support member and then drape or depend from the moveable support member to the other material end spaced therefrom. Thus, that other material end can be suspended free beneath the movable support member, in this form. With this arrangement, the shelter material can provide a side shelter, as well as an overlying shelter, to the area over which the awning extends. In this form, the side shelter is created when the awning is in the extended position.

In one form, whether or not the shelter material provides a side shelter, and the extent of that side shelter, depends on the length of material released from the mountable support member. Thus, from the retracted position, partial released of the material will cause the moveable support member to move away from the mountable support member so that the awning moves to the extended position. In this position, the shelter material provides overlying shelter to the area. However, continued release of the material will cause it to feed to the movable support member and then depend from that support member and so increasingly form a side shelter to the area. Retrieval of the material will initially decrease the length of material forming the side shelter, and then progressively remove the overlying shelter through movement of the awning to its retracted position.

In one preferred form, the support bar includes a shelter material guide for providing orderly movement of the material relative to the bar whilst maintaining support for the material, during retraction and extension of the awning. The guide particularly guides the material during its movement relative to the support bar, ie during formation and removal of the side shelter.

In one form, the material guide includes a guide slot extending along the support bar, and through which the material passes. In this form, the material slides through the slot during movement relative to the support bar.

In another form, the material guide includes spaced apart guide stops on the support bar and defining a guideway therebetween through which the shelter material moves. In this form, the guideway extends over an outer surface of the support bar, and the material slides over that outer surface during movement relative to the bar.

In at least one preferred form, the awning includes retaining means. That retaining means allows the material to depend from the moveable support member but acts to prevent the other or free end of the material from retracting past the support member as the material is retracted to the mountable support member.

In one preferred form, the retaining means includes at least one retaining member mounted at or adjacent the other end of the shelter material, and arranged to engage with the moveable support member once the material has been retracted sufficiently that the other end of the material reaches the moveable support member. That engagement is by abutment of the retaining member against the moveable support member, in this form. In one form, the or each retaining member is elongate, and extends at least partially along the other end of the shelter material.

In one form, the retaining member includes a retaining bar secured along the other end of the shelter material. As the draped material is retracted through the guide slot or guide way, upon winding rotation of the support roller, the retaining bar is drawn toward and eventually abuts along the support bar, in this form. When that abutment occurs, further retraction of the shelter material relative to the support bar is resisted by that abutment. As a consequence, continued winding rotation of the support roller causes the support bar and retaining bar to move in unison towards the retracted position of the awning. It is that abutment that transmits tension within the winding shelter material to the frame so as to overcome the resilient bias in the biasing springs in the connection beams.

In one form, the retaining bar is of a weight that facilitates tensioning of the shelter material in the extended position of the awning. Thus, the material is held between the support roller and retaining bar, and drawn taut by the weight of the bar. That weighted bar will also act to resist flapping or other erratic movement of the draped portion of the material in awning use.

In one preferred form, the shelter material is a shelter fabric. The fabric may be knitted, woven, or non-woven, or of other construction as will be well appreciated by those skilled in the relevant art. In one form, the fabric is composed of plastic fibre, filament or film, or a combination thereof.

The awning of the present invention is of relatively simple construction. Moreover, the shelter provides improved protection to a sheltered area by providing both overhead and side shelter.

For further assistance in arriving at an understanding of the present invention, an example awning incorporating the present invention is shown in the attached drawings. The preceding description of the awning may be read with reference to those drawings. However, as the drawings illustrate one example only, their particularity is not to be understood as superseding the generality of the preceding description.

In the drawings: Fig. 1 is a perspective view of an awning according to one example of the present invention mounted to a structural wall and showing the awning in a retracted position; Fig. 2 is a perspective view similar to Fig. 1 but showing the awning progressively moving toward an extended position; Fig. 3 is a perspective view similar to Fig. 2, but showing the awning in an extended position providing overlying shelter, and initial movement of the shelter material to create a side shelter; and Fig. 4 is a perspective view similar to Fig. 3, but showing the awning with both overlying and side shelter.

Referring to the drawings, there is illustrated a retractable awning 10. The awning 10 includes a frame 12 for mounting the awning 10 to a structure, in this case a wall W. The frame 12 is operable to move the awning 10 between a retracted position (as illustrated in Figure 1) against the wall W and an extended position (as illustrated in Figures 2 and 3) projecting from the wall W and over an area to be sheltered.

The awning 10 includes flexible shelter material 14 supported by the frame 12, the shelter material 14 being stored when the awning 10 is in the retracted position and overlying the sheltered area when the awning 10 is in the extended position so as to provide overhead shelter to the area. The shelter material 14 can depend from at least one side of the frame 12 when the awning 10 is in the extended position so as to provide side shelter to the area.

The frame 12 includes two support units 16, 18 between which the shelter material 14 extends and is supported. Those support units 16, 18 are movable toward and away from one another as the frame moves toward the retracted and extended positions, respectively. Thus, the support units 16, 18 are located adjacent one another in the retracted position, and in spaced apart relation in the extended position. In use of this awning 10 in the extended position, the frame 12 projects in a generally horizontal plane from the wall W (or other structure), although it should be appreciated that the frame may be configured so as to project at other angles or planes, or extend in an arc or curve, relative to the wall W. Movement of the support units 16, 18 between the retracted and extended positions causes the shelter material 14 to respectively uncover and cover over the underlying shelter area.

The support unit 16 (the mountable support unit) is mountable to the wall W for use of the awning 10, whilst the support unit 18 (the moveable support unit) is moveable in order to achieve their relative movement and disposition. Thus, in use, the moveable support unit 18 moves toward and away from the mountable support unit 16 into the retracted and extended positions, respectively. That movement in turn causes the shelter material 14 to move to uncover and cover the shelter area.

The support units 16, 18 are each elongate and of rigid construction. Moreover, those units 16, 18 extend at least generally parallel to one another. That parallel relationship is maintained throughout their relative movement, in this form. Thus, in the retracted position, the support units 16, 18 extend side-by-side one another, whilst in the extended position they are in spaced apart but parallel relation to one another in a generally horizontal plane.

The mountable support unit 16 includes a support member 20 by which the shelter material 14 is stored when the awning 10 is in the retracted position, and is released from storage as the awning 10 moves to the extended position and retrieved into storage as the awning 10 moves to the retracted position. Release and retrieval of the shelter material 14 occurs progressively with movement of the movable support unit 18 in this form.

The support member 20 includes a support roller (not clearly visible) on which the shelter material 14 is stored and from which it is dispensed. The shelter material 14 is connected to that roller, and the roller is rotatable about a central longitudinal axis in order to wind up the shelter material 14 onto the roller to retrieve the material 14, and unwind the shelter material 14 from the roller to release the material 14, as the moveable support unit 18 moves to the retracted and extended positions, respectively. Thus, the shelter material 14 is stored in roll form on the roller in the retracted position, and progressively released from storage by unrolling therefrom as the moveable support unit 18 moves away from the roller into the awning extended position. Similarly, the material 14 is progressively retrieved into storage by rolling onto the roller as the moveable support unit 18 moves back toward the support roller.

The moveable support unit 18 includes a moveable support member 22 to which the shelter material 14 extends and is supported thereby. In this form, the shelter material 14 is supportingly received by the member 22 so that, as the member 22 moves away from the mountable support member 20, the shelter material 14 is drawn with the moveable member 22. In this form, the shelter material 14 is also received by the moveable support member 22 so that the material 14 can be held taut between the members 20, 22, at least when the awning 10 is in its extended position. The shelter material 14 is also held taut as the awning is being retracted and extended, in this form.

In the illustrated arrangement, the moveable support member 22 is a support bar 23. That bar 23 may be in the form of a support rod or tube or rail. The support bar is of a generally circular cross-sectional shape.

The mountable support unit 16 includes a support fixture (not clearly visible) for mounting the support roller to a structure (in this case the wall W) for use. That fixture permits the roller to rotate about a central longitudinal axis, for rolling and unrolling of the shelter material 14, but otherwise fixes the roller in position on the structure, in this form.

The support fixture includes two mounting brackets (not illustrated) between which the roller is rotatably mounted. Thus, one bracket is connected to each end of the roller for supported rotation of the roller about its central axis.

The support fixture also includes a housing 24 in which the roller is located, and into which the shelter material 14 is protectively stored upon winding onto the roller. That housing 24 substantially surrounds and encloses the roller in this form, but has an elongate opening 26 therealong through which the shelter 14 material can feed onto and from the roller.

The mounting brackets are carried in the housing 24. Moreover, in this form the housing 24 is constructed for fixing to the wall W in order to mount the awning 10 thereto.

The frame 12 includes two connection members 28, 30 extending between and interconnecting the support units 16, 18 in order to retain them in their relative locations, i.e. in their parallel, generally horizontal orientation in the described example of the awning 10.

Each connection member 28, 30 is elongate with opposite ends, each end being connected to a respective one of the support units 16, 18 so as to maintain the support units 16, 18 in their relationship in the retracted and extended positions and during movement therebetween. In this form, each connection member 28, 30 is adjustable to accommodate the movement of the moveable support unit 18.

Each connection member 28, 30 includes a connection beam 32, 34, one end of which is connected to the support fixture of the mountable support unit 16, and the other end of which is connected to the moveable support member 18. In this form each connection beam 28, 30 is articulated to accommodate the moveable support member 22 movement. That articulation is achieved by constructing the beams 32, 34 of two or more rigid sections 36, 38 which are moveably interconnected to one another.

The sections 36, 38 of each connection beam 32, 34 are pivotably connected end-to-end, with respective beam ends being pivotably connected to the support fixture and the moveable support member 22. The pivot connections 40, 42 have parallel pivot axes enabling the beam sections 36, 38 to fold relative to one another, and relative to the support fixture and moveable support member 22 as that moves during retraction and extension of the awning 10.

Each beam 32, 34 folds in a plane that extends parallel to the general plane of the frame 12, for example in a horizontal plane. However, it will be appreciated that the connection beam(s) 32, 34 may fold in other planes and, in particular, in a plane perpendicular to the general plane of the frame 12 away from and toward the plane of movement of the moveable support member 22 during retraction and extension.

As previously stated, two connection beams 32, 34 are provided. Those beams are spaced apart along the elongate support units 16, 18. Those beams 32, 34 each extend between and are connected to the support fixture and the support bar 23 at or adjacent corresponding ends thereof. Moreover, those beams 32, 34 fold inwardly toward one another during retracting movement of the support bar 23.

The awning 10 is manually moveable between the retracted and extended positions. That can be achieved by applying a force to the support bar 23 in the retracted position so as to cause it to move away from the support fixture into the extended position. If convenient, the support bar 23 can simply be manually gripped, and pulled to apply the force. Alternatively, if the bar 23 is not within convenient reach, then a drive pole (not illustrated) can be manipulated in order to apply that force. As the support bar 23 moves towards the extended position, the shelter material 14 is progressively drawn from the support roller so as to form a taut, planar covering extending between the fixture and support bar 23. It will be appreciated that applying a reverse manual force to the support bar 23 will cause it to reverse move back toward the support fixture and, in doing so, the shelter material 14 will progressively rewind onto the support roller for storage.

A drive system may be provided for mechanically moving the awning 10 between the retracted and extended positions. In particular, that drive system is operable to control movement of the moveable support member. That drive system may be of any suitable construction as will be well appreciated by those skilled in the relevant art.

The drive system may include a drive motor 48 (illustrated in dashed line format) selectively operable to supply a drive output to the mountable support unit 16 for storage and dispensing of the shelter material 14. In one form, the drive motor 48 is operable to rotate the support roller and thereby rollup and unroll the shelter material 14 during retraction and extension, respectively, of the awning 10.

The drive system also includes at least one biasing member (not visible) acting on the or at least one of the connection members 28, 30 so as to bias the member(s) into a condition in which the moveable support member 22 is in the extended position of the awning 10. With this arrangement, as the drive motor 48 operates to dispense the shelter material 14 from the mountable support member 20, the connection member(s) 28, 30 adjust under action of the biasing member(s) so as to move the moveable support 22 away from the roller. The shelter material 14 is dispensed at a rate determined so that the moving connection members 28, 30 and moveable support member 22 maintains the shelter material 14 generally taut between the mountable and moveable support members 16, 18. Upon reverse operation of the drive motor 48, the shelter material 14 is retrieved for storage, the tension in the material 14 extending between the mountable and moveable support members 20, 22 overcoming the bias of the biasing member(s) to move the connection members 28, 30 and so move the moveable support member 22 back toward the mountable support member 20.

The drive motor 48 may be an electric motor with a rotary or a linear output. That motor may be connected directly to the support roller, or indirectly connected thereto through a suitable drive transmission, such as drive gears and/or screws and/or belts and pulleys, for transmitting the drive motor output to the roller.

The or each biasing member may provide a resilient bias to the connection beams 32, 34. In one form, each biasing member is a biasing spring (not illustrated). A respective spring may be incorporated into one or more of the pivot connections between interconnected connection beam sections, and/or between the connection beams 32, 34 and support roller and support bar 23. With this arrangement, the connection beams 32, 34 unfold under action of the springs as the shelter material 14 is released from the roller, and then refold between the roller and support bar 23 as the shelter material 14 is retrieved back onto the rotating roller. The springs provide an outward force on the shelter material 14 to keep the material 14 tensioned until the beams 32, 34 are fully extended.

The shelter material 14 is elongate with opposite ends 50, 52. One material end 50 is secured to the mountable support member 20. That end 50 is secured to the support roller so that the material can be progressively wound onto and unwound from the roller without relative slippage.

The shelter material 14 is supported and guided by, but not secured or fixed to the moveable support member 22. Moreover, in this form, the material 14 is of a length such that, in the extended position of the awning 10, the material can extend from the one end 50 secured to the mountable support member 20, to the moveable support member 22 and then drape or depend from the moveable support member 22 to the other material end 52 spaced therefrom. Thus, that other material end 52 can be suspended free beneath the movable support member 22, in this form. With this arrangement, the shelter material 14 can provide a side shelter 54, as well as an overlying shelter 56, to the area over which the awning 10 extends. In this form, the side shelter 54 is created when the awning 10 is in the extended position.

Whether or not the shelter material 14 provides a side shelter 54, and the extent of that side shelter 54, depends on the length of material released from the mountable support member 20. Thus, from the retracted position, partial release of the material 14 will cause the moveable support member 22 to move away from the mountable support member 20 so that the awning 10 moves to the extended position. In this position, the shelter material 14 provides overlying shelter to the area. However, continued release of the material 14 will cause it to feed to the moveable support member 22 and then depend from that support member and so increasingly form a side shelter 54 to the area. Retrieval of the material 14 will initially decrease the length of material forming the side shelter 54, and then progressively remove the overlying shelter 56 through movement of the awning 10 to its retracted position.

The support bar 23 includes a shelter material guide 58 for providing orderly movement of the material 14 relative to the bar 23 whilst maintaining support for the material 14, during retraction and extension of the awning 10. The guide 58 particularly guides the material 14 during its movement relative to the support bar 23, i.e. during formation and removal of the side shelter 54.

The material guide 58 includes a guide slot 60 extending along the support bar 23, and through which the material 14 passes. In this form, the material 14 slides through the slot 60 during movement relative to the support bar 23.

The awning 10 includes retaining means 62. That retaining means 62 allows the material 14 to depend from the moveable support member 22 but acts to prevent the other or free end 52 of the material 14 from retracting past the support member 22 as the material 14 is retracted to the mountable support member 20.

The retaining means 62 includes at least one retaining member 64 mounted at or adjacent the other end 52 of the shelter material 14, and arranged to engage with the moveable support member 22 once the material 14 has been retracted sufficiently that the other end 52 of the material 14 reaches the moveable support member 22. The engagement is by abutment of the retaining member 64 against the moveable support member 22, in this form.

The retaining member 64 is elongate, and extends at least partially along the other end 52 of the shelter material 14.

The retaining member 64 includes a retaining bar 66 secured along the other end 52 of the shelter material 14. As the draped material is retracted through the guide slot 60 (or guide way), upon winding rotation of the support roller, the retaining bar 66 is drawn toward and eventually abuts along the support bar 23, in this form. When the abutment occurs, further retraction of the shelter material 14 relative to the support bar 23 is resisted by that abutment. As a consequence, continued winding rotation of the support roller causes the support bar 23 and retaining bar 66 to move in unison towards the retracted position of the awning 10. It is that abutment that transmits tension within the winding shelter material to the frame 12 so as to overcome the resilient bias in the biasing springs in the connection beams 32, 34.

The retaining bar 66 is of a weight that facilitates tensioning of the shelter material 14 in the extended position of the awning 10. Thus, the material 14 is held between the support roller and retaining bar 66, and drawn taut by the weight of the bar 66. That weighted bar 66 will also act to resist flapping or other erratic movement of the draped portion of the material 14 in awning use.

The shelter material 14 is a shelter fabric. The fabric may be knitted, woven, or non-woven, or of other construction as will be well appreciated by those skilled in the relevant art. In one form, the fabric is composed of plastic fibre, filament or film, or a combination thereof.

Finally, it is to be understood that various alterations, modifications and/or additions may be made to the awning without departing from ambit of the present invention as disclosed herein.