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United States Patent Application 20170196391
Kind Code A1
SCHOOLEY; BRUCE A. ;   et al. July 13, 2017

ADJUSTABLE BASE FOR AN ORNAMENTAL TREE

Abstract

A base unit for an ornamental tree is provided that includes a ground support portion adapted to rest upon an underlying surface. The base unit of further includes an adjustable riser attached to and extending upwardly from the ground support to terminate in a distal end portion, the distal end portion of the riser being configured to support a trunk of the ornamental tree. The adjustable riser comprises an adjustment component to adjust the height of the ornamental tree between the ground support portion and the distal end portion of the riser between a first and a second height.


Inventors: SCHOOLEY; BRUCE A.; (ALAMO, CA) ; HARMAN, II; THOMAS M.; (PORTOLA VALLEY, CA)
Applicant:
Name City State Country Type

BALSAM INTERNATIONAL LIMITED

Dublin2

IE
Family ID: 1000002035418
Appl. No.: 14/994714
Filed: January 13, 2016


Current U.S. Class: 1/1
Current CPC Class: A47G 33/12 20130101; A47G 33/06 20130101; A47G 2033/1273 20130101; A47G 2033/1253 20130101; A47G 2033/122 20130101
International Class: A47G 33/12 20060101 A47G033/12; A47G 33/06 20060101 A47G033/06

Claims



1. An apparatus comprising: a ground support portion adapted to rest upon an underlying surface; and an adjustable riser attached to and extending from the ground support portion along a longitudinal axis to terminate in a distal end portion, the distal end portion of the adjustable riser adapted to support a trunk of an ornamental tree, the adjustable riser comprising an adjustment component adapted to adjust a height of the distal end portion of the adjustable riser along the longitudinal axis with respect to the ground support portion between a first height and a second height.

2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the adjustment component comprises a motor configured to adjust the height of the adjustable riser in response to a user input activating the motor.

3. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the adjustment component comprises a pneumatic component to adjust the height of the adjustable riser in response to controlling fluid flow through at least one valve.

4. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the adjustment component comprises a turn crank to adjust the height of the adjustable riser in response to rotation about an axis of a crank thereof.

5. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a controller to control at least one of lights disposed on the tree and the height of the adjustable riser, the controller being one of a wired or a wireless controller.

6. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the adjustment component automatically adjusts the height of the distal end portion of the adjustable riser relative to the ground support portion in response to a user input.

7. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a post attached to and extending upwardly from the ground support portion with a connector at a distal end thereof, the adjustable riser insertable in a hollow core of the post with the connector configured to fix the height of the adjustable riser respect to the post in response to actuating the connector.

8. The apparatus of claim 7, wherein the connector includes a spring biased pin to mate with a given hole of a plurality of holes of the post to set the height of the adjustable riser.

9. The apparatus of claim 7, wherein the connector includes a tension ring at an opening of the post to secure the adjustable riser with respect to the post.

10. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the trunk of the tree further comprises a plurality of limbs that are pivotably attached to the trunk between first and second ends of the trunk, the plurality of limbs adapted to pivot between a first position to a second position, wherein the first position is closer to horizontal than the second position when the trunk is oriented substantially vertically with the second end above the first end of the trunk.

11. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the tree includes a treetop that is removable with respect to the trunk, the treetop including a top trunk and a plurality of limbs extending laterally from the top trunk, the top trunk having a proximal end adapted to removably connect with the second end of the trunk.

12. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the ground support portion further comprises at least two wheels thereon, with the ground support portion of the base including at least another part, which does not include any wheels, such that the base can roll when tilted up onto the wheels and resist rolling when resting on both the wheels and other portions of the ground support portion of the base that are without wheels.

13. The apparatus of claim 12, wherein the other part of the ground support portion, which does not include any wheels, further comprises feet that are rotatably connected to the ground support portion and adapted to maintain contact with the underlying surface when tilted up onto the feet.

14. A method comprising: placing a ground support portion of a base unit onto an underlying surface, the base unit comprising an adjustable riser attached to and extending from the ground support portion along a longitudinal axis thereof to terminate in a distal end portion, the distal end portion of the adjustable riser being adapted to support an elongated trunk of a tree having spaced apart first and second ends; mounting one of the first end or the second end of the trunk to the distal end portion of the adjustable riser; and adjusting a height of the adjustable riser to adjust a height of the tree relative to the underlying surface where the base unit is placed.

15. The method of claim 14, wherein adjusting the height of the adjustable riser occurs prior to connecting one of the first end or the second end of the trunk to the distal end portion of the adjustable riser.

16. The method of claim 14, wherein adjusting the height of the adjustable riser while one of the first end or the second end of the trunk is connected to the distal end portion of the adjustable riser.

17. The method of claim 14, wherein the tree comprises a plurality of limbs that are pivotably attached to the trunk, the plurality of limbs adapted to pivot between a display condition and a storage condition, wherein, when the first end of the trunk is connected to the distal end portion of the adjustable riser, the branches are in the display condition as to be closer to horizontal than the storage condition, and wherein, when the second end of the trunk is connected to the distal end portion of the adjustable riser, the branches are in the storage condition as to be closer to vertical than the display condition.

18. The method of claim 17, further comprising: tilting the base from a normal support position to a reclined position such that the base is substantially transverse to the underlying surface and the adjustable riser extends substantially parallel with the underlying surface; attaching one of the first end of the trunk or the second end of the trunk to the distal end portion of the adjustable riser; and tilting the base from the reclined position back to the normal support position on the underlying surface.

19. The method of claim 18, wherein the ground support portion further comprises a first portion that includes at least two wheels and a second portion which does not include any wheels, each of the first portion and the second portion contacting the underlying surface in the support position, the method further comprising: tilting the base in a direction opposite the wheels onto the second portion and into the reclined position.

20. The method of claim 19, wherein the second portion of the ground support portion includes feet pivotally attached to a bracket of the ground support portion, each of the feet having a contact surface that maintains contact with the underlying surface during the tilting.

21. The method of claim 14, wherein the ground support portion further comprises a first portion that includes at least two wheels and a second portion which does not include any wheels, each of the first portion and the second portion contacting the underlying surface in the support position, the method further comprising: tilting the base in a first direction onto the at least two wheels; and rolling the base from one location to another location while tilted on the wheels.

22. The method of claim 14, further comprising inserting a trunk of a tree into the adjustable riser, the adjustable riser having a connector thereon, the connector to secure at least one of the first end or the second end of the trunk within the adjustable riser when the connector is actuated.

23. A collapsible ornamental tree, comprising: a base unit comprising: a ground support adapted to rest upon an underlying surface, wherein a given portion of the ground support includes at least two wheels thereon, and another portion of the ground support does not include any wheels thereon; and an adjustable riser extending outwardly from the ground support along a longitudinal axis to terminate in a distal end portion, the longitudinal axis being transverse to a plane extending through the ground support; a trunk of elongate form between a first end and a second end, both the first end and the second end adapted to be supported separately when attached to the distal end portion of the adjustable riser; and a plurality of limbs pivotably attached to the trunk and moveable between a display condition and a storage condition, wherein, when the first end of the trunk is connected to the distal end portion of the adjustable riser, the branches are in the display condition as to be closer to horizontal than the storage condition, and wherein, when the second end of the trunk is connected to the distal end portion of the adjustable riser, the branches are in the storage condition as to be closer to vertical than the display condition.
Description



TECHNICAL FIELD

[0001] This disclosure relates to an adjustable base for an ornamental tree and to methods of using the tree and the base.

BACKGROUND

[0002] When decorating a space, such as during holidays, it is often desirable to include trees as part of such decorations. To allow such decorations to last substantially indefinitely without maintenance and allow for repeated cycles of storage and deployment of such decorations. In some circumstances, it is desirable to provide artificial trees rather than live trees. Examples of such decorations are Christmas trees typically deployed during holiday seasons occurring near the end or beginning of each calendar year.

SUMMARY

[0003] This disclosure relates to an adjustable base for an ornamental tree and to a method for using an adjustable base with an ornamental tree.

[0004] In one example, an apparatus includes a ground support portion adapted to rest upon an underlying surface. An adjustable riser is attached to and extends from the ground support along a longitudinal axis to terminate in a distal end portion. The distal end portion of the riser is adapted to support a trunk of an ornamental tree, the adjustable riser comprising an adjustment component adapted to adjust a height of the distal end portion of the riser along the longitudinal axis with respect to the ground support portion between a first height and a second height.

[0005] In another example, a method includes placing a ground support portion of a base unit onto an underlying surface. The base unit includes an adjustable riser attached to and extending from the ground support portion along a longitudinal axis thereof to terminate in a distal end portion. The distal end portion of the riser is adapted to support both ends of an elongated trunk of a tree having spaced apart first and second ends. The method also includes mounting one of the first end or the second end of the trunk to the distal end portion of the adjustable riser and adjusting a height of the adjustable riser to adjust a height of the tree relative to the underlying surface where the base unit is placed.

[0006] In yet another example, a collapsible ornamental tree includes a base unit and a trunk. The base unit includes a ground support adapted to rest upon an underlying surface, wherein a given portion of the ground support includes at least two wheels thereon, and another portion of the ground support does not include any wheels thereon. An adjustable riser extends outwardly from the ground support along a longitudinal axis to terminate in a distal end portion, the longitudinal axis being transverse to a plane extending through the ground support. A trunk of elongate form extends between a first end and a second end. Both the first end and the second end are adapted to be supported separately by the base unit when attached to the distal end portion of the adjustable riser. A plurality of limbs are pivotably attached to the trunk and moveable between a display condition and a storage condition. When the first end of the trunk is connected to the distal end portion of the adjustable riser, the branches are in the display condition as to be closer to horizontal than the storage condition. When the second end of the trunk is connected to the distal end portion of the adjustable riser, the branches are in the storage condition as to be closer to vertical than the display condition.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0007] FIG. 1 illustrates an example of a perspective view of an adjustable base for an ornamental tree, the base configured for supporting a trunk of the ornamental tree thereon in both a deployed orientation and a collapsed orientation.

[0008] FIG. 2 illustrates another example of a perspective view of an adjustable for an ornamental tree.

[0009] FIG. 3 illustrates yet another example of a perspective view of an adjustable for an ornamental tree.

[0010] FIG. 4 illustrates an example connector for an adjustable riser of the base.

[0011] FIG. 5 illustrates another example connector for an adjustable riser of the base.

[0012] FIG. 6 illustrates yet another example connector for an adjustable riser of the base.

[0013] FIG. 7 illustrates yet another example connector for an adjustable riser of the base.

[0014] FIG. 8 illustrates a front view of the base and ornamental tree shown in the deployed configuration, with the adjustable riser at a first height, and with a treetop portion shown in broken lines.

[0015] FIG. 9 illustrates a front view of the base and ornamental tree shown in the deployed configuration, with the adjustable riser at a second height, and with a treetop portion shown in broken lines.

[0016] FIG. 10 illustrates an alternative front view illustrating the storage condition for the ornamental tree.

[0017] FIG. 11A illustrates an example adjustable base on an underlying surface.

[0018] FIG. 11B illustrates an example adjustable base in preparation for deployment.

[0019] FIG. 11C illustrates an example adjustable base in a deployed configuration.

[0020] FIG. 12 is a flow diagram depicting a method for implementing the adjustable base to present the tree in a deployed configuration.

[0021] FIG. 13 is a flow diagram depicting another method for implementing the adjustable base to present the tree in a deployed configuration.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0022] This disclosure relates to an adjustable base for an ornamental tree and to methods of using the tree and the base. The base provides ground support for the ornamental tree, and can be configured to both store the ornamental tree in a collapsed arrangement (also referred to as a storage configuration), as well as facilitate deployment of the ornamental tree for display. The base includes a riser having a distal end portion that is adapted to support a main trunk of the ornamental tree. The riser further is configured to have an adjustable axial length that can be adapted to adjust the height of the tree with respect to an underlying surface where there base rests. The adjustment of the riser's length can be performed via a pneumatic actuator, an electrical actuator (e.g., motor) or other mechanism, such as disclosed herein.

[0023] In some examples, the distal end of the riser can also be configured for dual uses, namely, to attach and support a lower end of the trunk to support the tree in the display configuration and to attach to and support an upper end (axially opposing the lower end) of the main trunk to support the tree in the storage configuration. This dual use of the base thus enables the base to support the tree in the storage configuration or the display configuration depending on which end of the trunk is attached to the riser.

[0024] Additionally, since the height of the riser is adjustable, in either the storage or display configuration, the distance between the group of tree limbs that are closest to the base and the underlying surface can be varied to space such limbs at a desired distance from the underlying surface. In the storage configuration, for example, the distance can be set by the user to provide sufficient space to accommodate limbs that have been collapsed along the trunk. In the display configuration, for example, the distance can be set by the user to make the tree taller or shorter for various purposes, such as to accommodate large presents under the tree or based on ceiling height.

[0025] As a further example, the base can be plugged into an exterior power source and serve as a central point of connection. For example, the base can include a receptacle for plugging in a cord for lighting or other ornamental fixtures located on the tree. As another example, a post can be attached to the base fitted with electrical connectors configured to mate with the trunk and/or limbs, through which electrical power can be distributed. In some examples, the height of the riser can be adjusted by an electrical actuator (e.g., motor) that is supplied power from the power source that also supplies electricity to the tree lights. In some examples, a motor is configured to tilt the base from a substantially vertical orientation to a substantially horizontal orientation to facilitate storage or deployment of the tree.

[0026] Referring to the drawings, wherein like reference numerals represent like parts throughout the various drawing figures, FIG. 1 depicts an example of a base 50 that is adapted to support an ornamental tree, such as tree 10 of FIGS. 8 and 9. As disclosed herein, the ornamental tree 10 can be supported on the same base in a deployed condition or in a storage condition. The limbs can be moveable to facilitate changing between display and storage conditions. For instance, when the tree 10 is to be stored, the limbs can be moved toward a top end of the main trunk in the storage condition (see, e.g., FIG. 10) to be have an orientation that are closer to vertical than in the display condition (e.g., FIG. 8). Thus, in the storage condition the tree has a lesser width compared to the deployed condition to accommodate being stored in a smaller space (e.g., within a storage bag or other container). The limbs can be connected to the main trunk via hinged or other moveable connections adapted to support the limbs as to extend outwardly from the trunk in a generally horizontal orientation when the trunk is positioned vertically upright position in its display condition. Such pivoting allows for rotation of the limbs from the generally horizontal orientation (e.g., substantially transverse to trunk slightly angled upwardly) and a collapsed configuration (storage condition) where the limbs are oriented closer to the trunk than to perpendicular.

[0027] The base 50 functions as a stand for supporting tree 10 in both its storage condition and display condition. The base 50 includes a body portion 46 to house adjustment and attachment features for operation of the adjustable base 50. As shown in the example of FIG. 1, body portion 46 includes a post 64 that is fixed to the base 50 and extends substantially vertically when the base is positioned on an underlying surface (e.g., the ground). An adjustable riser 70 extends axially from a proximal end of the post 64 to terminate at a distal end portion 48 of the riser. The distal end portion 48 is adapted to support a trunk of tree 10. As disclosed herein, for example, the distal end of the riser 70 can support one of the ends of the main trunk for the tree 10 when the tree is in the deployed configuration (see, e.g., FIGS. 8 and 9) and supports another end of the main trunk when in its collapsed configuration (see, e.g., FIG. 10). For example, the ends of the main trunk can fit within a hollow portion of the riser or the riser may fit within a hollow interior of the trunk.

[0028] In the example of FIG. 1, the base 50 has a series of elements joined together to form a main portion of the base 50. As one example, the post 64 can include a hollow core that has an opening at its distal end that can receive one of the ends of the main trunk of the tree therein for support of the tree 10, such as may be in either a deployed configuration (FIGS. 8 and 9) or in a collapsed configuration (FIG. 10). In the example, the post 64 is mounted to a central arm 51, with two outer arms 52, 57 on opposite ends of the central arm 51, resulting in a substantially "H" shaped support. While the example base 50 demonstrated in FIG. 50 is generally H-shaped, other shapes and arrangements of elements can be utilized to provide a base, such as star-shaped, X-shaped or the like. Additionally, the post 64 can be positioned near a central part of the base, such as disclosed herein or, in other examples, the post 64 could located closer to one of the edges.

[0029] As a further example, the base can include wheels 55 such as provided near opposite ends of an outer arm 57 of the base 50. For instance, the wheels 55 can rotate about an axle 56 to facilitate movement of the base 50 across an underlying surface. The wheels 55 can be further used to move the tree 10 while mounted in the base 50 in either the collapsed (storage) configuration or the deployed configuration.

[0030] The base 50 can also include one or more pivoting feet 53 attached to outer arm 52 by use of a pintle 54. The feet 53 help prevent the base 50 from slipping when on a flat surface such as a floor. Further, when the base 50 is tilted such that the opposite outer arm 57 is raised from the floor, the feet 53 maintain contact as to provide support and stability for the base 50. For instance, the feet can support the base as it rotates about an axis extending through the pintles 54 to reposition the base 50 when changing the tree between its storage and display conditions (e.g., FIGS. 11A, 11B and 11C).

[0031] In some examples, each of the feet 53 can be configured to provide more than two degrees of freedom (e.g., more than one angle of rotation), as to accommodate uneven surfaces more completely with such a pivoting feature. In the example of FIG. 1, the foot 53 has a somewhat triangular configuration when viewed from the side. For instance, an underlying tread contact portion of each foot 53 is relatively large to provide a fixed contact surface area to support the base 50 at ends of the outer arms opposite the wheels 55. Locks can be provided on the wheels 55 so that the rotation of the wheels 55 can be selectively enabled and disabled, such as when it is desired that the base 50 be particularly stable. Utilization of the foot 53 can also resist sliding and horizontal movement of the base 50 in a horizontal direction.

[0032] As a further example, the base 50 can remain in a fixed position when both feet 53 and wheels 55 contact the ground, and can be readily moved if the base 50 is tilted slightly (typically with other portions of the tree 10 supported upon the base 50) and then the entire tree 10 and base 50 can be rolled upon the wheels 55 (see FIGS. 11A-11C). Wheels 55 are sized sufficiently large and positioned upon the axles 56 at appropriate locations so that portions of the wheels 55 extend below lowermost portions of the outer arms 52. In this way, the wheels 55 are in contact with an underlying support surface, when the base 50 is in an upright orientation (see for instance FIG. 8). The contact portion of each foot 53 can include a pliant surface material to resist sliding on the surface (e.g., rubber tread or the like). The tree 10 is thus stable when erected and oriented vertically, but can be tilted onto the wheels 55 and then readily rolled across the underlying surface from one position to another. Such rolling movement can occur when the tree 10 is in a deployed configuration (FIGS. 8 and 9) or in a collapsed configuration (FIG. 10).

[0033] The adjustable riser 70 of the base 50 can be used to adjust the height of the tree 10. For example, the distal end portion 48 of the riser 70 can be set to a selected height (e.g., six inches to about 20 inches) demonstrated at 48' and 70' above the underlying surface. The height of the riser can be adjusted when the tree is mounted to the riser, either in the display condition or storage condition, or when no tree is mounted to the riser. Adjusting the height of the riser 70 allows for a user to decorate the tree 10 when in its display condition. For example, the riser can be set to a lower height to help users reach and decorate top parts of the tree and then be adjusted to an increased height for subsequent display. Additionally, the height of the riser 70 can be set to define the height of the tree for accommodating different environments (e.g., a different ceiling height in multiple rooms where the ornamental tree may be deployed).

[0034] The riser 70 can include one or more features configured to adjust the height of the distal end portion 48 of the riser 70 along a longitudinal axis 25 extending through the riser. The longitudinal axis 25 extends transverse to a plane extending through the ground support of the base 50, which plane is generally parallel to the underlying surface 58 when the wheels 55 and feet 53 rest on the surface. The desired height of the riser 70 can be set along the axis 25 by a locking mechanism to ensure the riser 70 does not collapse into the post 64 when the tree 10 is mounted thereon. As an example, the riser 70 includes one or more tubes of a fixed length and a diameter dimensioned to fit within an interior hollow core of the main support post 64. Once inserted within the hollow core, the height of the riser 70 is adjustable with respect to the post 64 and can be fixed by the locking mechanism.

[0035] In the example of FIG. 1, the locking mechanism includes a tension ring 65 that can be rotated about the central longitudinal axis 25 of the post 64 in one direction to increase tension between the post 64 and the riser 70 and thereby fix the height of the riser with respect to the post 64. The tension ring 65 can also be rotated in the opposite direction to decrease tension between the post 64 and riser 70 to allow the user to adjust the height of the riser. Thus, as shown, riser 70 shows the distal end portion 48 of the riser at a first height from the ground, and riser 70' and its distal end 48', as demonstrated by dashed lines, are at a second, increased height from the ground. In other examples, the riser 70 can be a telescoping pole that can include two or more sections that may be extended by one or more associated mechanical components and locked at a desired height.

[0036] As another example, FIG. 2 demonstrates the base 50 including a pneumatic mechanism 73 to adjust the height of the riser 70. Pneumatic devices such as pneumatic cylinders, also known as air cylinders, are mechanical devices which use the power of compressed gas to produce a force in a reciprocating linear motion. Like hydraulic cylinders, a piston is forced to move in the desired direction. The piston can be a disc or cylinder, and the piston rod transfers the force it develops to the object to be moved. For example, the piston is attached to an actuatable member 59 that terminates in a handle or pedal, which can be actuated to adjust the height of the riser 70. In some examples, the activation of the arm (e.g., a pumping action by pressing the pedal 59 in a downward fashion) can automatically build up compressed gas to incrementally increasing the height of the tree in response to the by actuation of the handle or pedal 59. The piston can thereby incrementally move the piston upward by actuating the pedal 59 to raise the pneumatic mechanism 73, and thus the riser (and tree) attached thereto, to a desired height. In order to lower the height of the riser 70, a prolonged downward force applied to pedal 59 releases the buildup of compressed gas, and the pneumatic mechanism 73 can be urged to a lower position. In other examples, the activation of the handle or pedal 59 can enable a user to apply force axially along the riser to either increase or decrease the height or a riser, similar to a pneumatic chair.

[0037] Example pneumatic mechanisms 73 are single-acting, double-acting, and telescoping cylinders. A single-acting cylinders (SAC) uses the pressure imparted by compressed air to create a driving force in one direction (in the present case, outward from the riser), and a spring to return to the piston to the riser. A double-acting cylinder (DAC) uses the force of air to move in both extend and retract strokes. They have two ports to allow air in, one for outstroke and one for instroke. Stroke length for this design is not limited, however, the piston rod is more vulnerable to buckling and bending. Telescoping cylinders can be either single or double-acting. The telescoping cylinder incorporates a piston rod nested within a series of hollow stages of increasing diameter. Upon actuation, the piston rod and each succeeding stage "telescopes" out as a segmented piston. Thus, a telescoping cylinder allows for a longer stroke than would be achieved with a single-stage cylinder of the same collapsed (i.e., retracted) length. The type of pneumatic mechanisms 73 thus may be chose according to the desired range of heights for the adjustable base 50.

[0038] In another example, the height of the riser 70 can be adjusted by a hand powered lever and crank attached to the base 50. The lever and crank provides for communicating motion or for converting reciprocating motion into rotary motion. The crank can consist of a lever attached at right angles to a rotating shaft by which reciprocating motion is imparted to or received from the shaft. The crank is used to convert circular motion into reciprocating motion, or vice versa. The lever may be a bent portion of the shaft, or a separate arm or disk attached to it. Attached to the end of the crank by a pivot is a connecting rod. The end of the rod attached to the crank moves in a circular motion that can be turned manually about an axle. In this case, a user applies rotational force to the crank. In operation, rotating the crank turns one or more gears that are attached to a mechanism attached to the riser. This motion results in a change in the height of the riser, such that rotating the crank in a first direction will increase the height of the riser, and rotating the crank in a second direction will lower the height of the riser. When the lever is not in motion, the height of the tree can be remain fixed. For example, the lever can lock in place once the desired height is achieved.

[0039] As yet another example, FIG. 3 depicts the riser 70 connected to an electric motor configured to adjust the height of the riser 70. The electric motor can be contained within a motor housing 60 and mechanically coupled to adjust the height of the riser 70. The motor can be activated to adjust the height of the riser 70 up or down in response to actuating a switching mechanism 61, which controls electrical energy supplied to the motor. The switching mechanism 61 can be located on the motor housing 60 itself (as shown), embedded in a cord 63 that is connected to the motor, located in the housing 60 and activated by wireless communication through a remote control 31, and/or other switching type. A user can provide input to the switching mechanism 61 to actuate the motor and thereby generate mechanical force to raise or lower the height of the riser 70.

[0040] In some examples, the tree 10 can be permanently wired with lights. A plug 62 can be provided which is attachable to a power receptacle, such as by use of cord 63. Another cord can extend from the plug 62 to the trunk 40. In other examples, the electrical connection to the lights can be provided internally within the riser 70 and trunk 40 and extend to the limbs. As these cords pass the limbs 49, the cords can be routed out the limbs 49 and terminate at various different locations with lights or other fixtures.

[0041] In another example, the cord can be wrapped around an exterior of the trunk 40. The cord can be camouflaged to have a color similar to that of the trunk 40 and limbs 49 (i.e., green) to help hide the cords. In one example, the interior of each of the post 64 and riser 70 can include electrical contacts. A corresponding set of electrical contacts can be provided on the trunk 40 to mate with the electrical contacts of the post and/or riser, thereby providing electrical current to the lights and fixtures located on the tree 10. In other examples, the electrical wiring can be disposed, at least partially within the trunks and/or branches of the tree.

[0042] Other controls can be provided on the motor housing 60 and/or the remote control 31. For example, controls can actuate another motor to rotate the tree while on display. Lights associated with the tree can be turned on and off, as well as additional features such as blinking, changing colors, and changing operation in response to environmental stimuli (e.g., transitioning color as the temperature changes, blinking in rhythm with a musical score, etc.). In another example, the motor can tilt the base 50 to automatically change the orientation of the riser 70 in order to facilitate transition from a deployed condition to a storage condition or vise versa, in accordance with the systems and methods described herein.

[0043] Additionally, the riser 70 can be configured with one or more locking mechanisms to secure the riser 70 at a fixed axial position with respect to the post 64. In one example illustrated in FIG. 4, the riser 70 can include a plurality of holes 74 extending through the riser 70 transverse to the longitudinal riser axis 25. The holes 74 align with one or more holes 74 that extend through the post 64. A push knob or pin 66 can be inserted through the hole 74 of the post 64 and through the hole 74 of the riser 70, thereby fixing the height of the adjustable riser 70. In another example illustrated in FIG. 5, a spring-biased pin 72 can be mounted on one of the post 64 or riser 70, which may provide a pair of self-biased pins that extend through a pair of diametrically opposed holes 74 in the post 64. In the example of FIG. 5, insertion of the riser 70 into the post 64 and alignment of the hole 74 with the biased pin 72 can result in the biased pin 72 extending through the hole 74 of the riser 70, thereby fixing the height of the riser 70. To adjust the height of the riser 70, the biased pin 72 can be forced to the interior of the riser 70, such that the biased pin 72 is no longer extending through a wall of the riser 70. Releasing the biased pin 72 at another hole 74 can thereby enable the user to axially adjust the riser 70 to a desired height, such as shown at riser 70'.

[0044] In the example illustrated in FIG. 6 (e.g., similar to the configuration shown in FIG. 1), the tension ring 65 can be attached to the distal end of post 64. The riser 70 can be inserted into post 64 and tension ring 65 can be mounted at the opening of post 64. Turning the tension ring 65 along a first rotational direction will relieve tension between the post 64 and the inserted riser 70, which allows the height of riser 70 to be adjusted from a first position to the height of riser 70' at a second position increase the diameter of the post 64. Once riser 70' is in the second position, the tension ring 65 can be turned in a second direction, and creates tension (e.g., friction fit) between the post 64 and the riser 70'. Accordingly, the riser 70 can be set at a desired height with minimal effort. In another example, an additional tension ring and another riser can be attached to the distal end of riser 70. The additional tension ring can be adjusted in a manner similar to tension ring 65 in order to adjust the height of the other riser. With multiple telescoping risers, a greater height can be achieved without significantly increasing the length of the post 64.

[0045] In yet another example illustrated in FIG. 7, riser 70 includes one or more vertically oriented channels 67 extending longitudinally through the riser to enable height adjustment between two or more positions. Channel 67 cooperates with a pin or other protuberance (not shown) extending radially inwardly from an interior sidewall surface of post 64. The pin serves as a guide by which channel 67 can guide riser 70 to a variable height. Vertical channel 67 is joined by one or more horizontal channels (e.g., extending circumferentially an arc length about the riser) to hold the riser 70 at one or more heights. For example, when the guide pin is at a top most position in channel 67, a top channel 68 can allow the riser 70 to be turned (e.g., a quarter turn, counterclockwise) to hold riser at a lower height and thereby ensure the riser 70 does not rise unintentionally. Further, when the guide pin is at the bottom most position in channel 67, the riser 70, in a position represented by riser 70', can be turned allowing a bottom channel 69 to slide with the guide pin. Thus, the location of the guide pin in the horizontal channel 69 can help hold the riser at its lower height and thereby ensure that the riser 70 does not fall unintentionally. Although only a pair of horizontal channels are demonstrated in the example of FIG. 7, the vertical channel can include more than two horizontal channels to fix the height of the riser 70 at multiple levels (e.g., two horizontal channels for two fixed heights; three horizontal channels for three fixed heights, etc.). Even as the horizontal channels 68 and 69 are shown extending in a single direction from channel 67, one or more horizontal channels may extend in an opposite direction, or extend in two directions from channel 67. Additionally, a securing member 75 (e.g., a screw, bolt, pin, etc.) can be used to fix the position of the riser 70 with respect to the post 64. For example, a threaded fastener corresponding to securing member 75 can be threaded into a mating threaded aperture (e.g., tightening a screw) and engage the riser to help lock the riser at a desired height. This can ensure that handling the tree and/or base will not cause an inadvertent change in the height of the riser 70.

[0046] As mentioned, the adjustable riser 70 can have a hollow core to receive a trunk of the tree 10. Alternatively, the riser 70 and/or the post 64 can have a solid core, such that a hollow core of the trunk of the tree 10 can fit over the solid core. The main trunk 40, as shown in FIGS. 8 and 9, is elongate in form extending axially from a first end 42 to a second end 44. The ends 42, 44 are typically circular in cross-sectional form and have a size slightly smaller than a size of a hollow core of post 64. The cross-section of the post 64 and/or the ends 42, 44 can also take a geometric shape other than circular, for example square, polygonal, triangular, etc. The ends 42, 44 can also be sized to fit the post 64 and/or adjustable riser 70 as shown in FIGS. 1-7. In this way, both the first end 42 and second end 44 can be attached to the riser 70 of the base 50. In an example where the post and/or riser 70 include a solid protuberance, the ends 42, 44 can be sized slightly larger than the post 64 and/or riser 70, to fit over the solid portion. In some examples, one of the ends 42 or 44 can fit around the hollow core of the rise and the other 44 or 42 can be configured to fit within the hollow core.

[0047] Limbs 49 can be pivotably attached to the main trunk 40 between the first and second ends 42 and 44. For example, the limbs 49 pivot in such a manner that they extend approximately horizontally when the main trunk is oriented with the second end 44 positioned substantially vertically above the first end 42 (FIGS. 8 and 9). The limbs 49 extend closer to vertically when the first end 42 of the main trunk 40 is positioned over the second end 44 of the main trunk 40 (FIG. 10). Branches can extend from the limbs 49 and lights and other fixtures can be provided on the branches with wiring for the lights supported by the main trunk 40, for example, a cord or electrical contacts along the main trunk 40.

[0048] Branches of the tree 10 can radiate from the limbs 49 in a pattern which mimics at least some natural tree or otherwise has a desirable form. Needles can also extend from the branches and limbs. The needles can be actual natural needles such as pine needles, but can also be synthetic structures, such as attached by wire or adhesive to the branches. It is also conceivable that needles can be directly attached to the limbs. The branches can have a generally planar form such as might exist on a noble fir, or might have a more bushy cylindrical form which might be provided on many different types of pines. Needles can also be long or short depending on the design characteristics desired for the tree 10.

[0049] The tree can also include a treetop 80, which can include a treetop trunk portion that is removably attached to the second end 44 of the main trunk 40 when the tree 10 is deployed in the display condition (FIGS. 8 and 9). In some example embodiments, depending on the height of the tree 10, one or more intermediate tree portions can be axially interposed between the main trunk 40 and the tree top 80. In the examples of FIGS. 8 and 9, the treetop can attach to the first end 42 of the main trunk 40 when the tree 10 has been inverted and is in its storage condition (FIG. 10). A trunk locking mechanism can also be provided to hold an end of the trunk within the adjustable riser 70. The locking mechanism can include elements similar to the connectors described with respect to FIGS. 4-7, or alternative or additional mechanisms suitable to secure the trunk 40 to the riser 70.

[0050] With reference to FIGS. 8-10, the adjustability of the tree 10 will be described. In this example, the base 50 includes outer arms with wheels 55 at first ends thereof and with pivoting feet at second ends thereof opposite the first ends. With base 50, the tree 10 can be tilted about arrow "D" (FIG. 10) up onto the wheels 55 and then rolled about, in either the deployed or the collapsed condition.

[0051] As a further example, the main trunk 40 defines a portion of the collapsible ornamental tree 10 which supports limbs 49 and other decorative features of the tree 10. Thus, when the main trunk 40 is inverted (in the direction of arrow "C" of FIGS. 8 and 9), such that the first end 42 is positioned above the second end 44, the branches 49 collapse vertically to provide the storage condition of the tree 10, such as shown in FIG. 10. The main trunk 40 is elongate in form and rigid. The main trunk 40 can have various different heights, but it is desirable that the main trunk 40 maintain sufficiently low weight that it can be carried by an individual when grasped by the user's hand and held away from the body far enough to be inverted.

[0052] As one example, in the deployed condition (e.g., FIGS. 8 and 9) the first end 42 of the main trunk 40 is fit within the hollow core of the post 64. The height of the riser 70 can be adjusted in the direction represented by arrow "A," such as according to any of the approaches disclosed herein. For example, the adjustable riser 70 is shown in FIG. 8 at a first height, indicated as H, whereas adjustable riser 70' is shown in FIG. 9, raising the tree 10 to a different height indicated as H'. To convert from the deployed configuration (FIG. 8 or 9) to the storage configuration (FIG. 10), a user removes the main trunk 40 from the hollow core 29 of the post 64 of the base 50 and inverts the main trunk so that the first end 42 and second end 44 are swapped.

[0053] By way of further example, FIGS. 11A-11C illustrate examples of using the adjustable base 50 to convert between display and storage conditions for tree 10. In the example of FIG. 11A, the wheels 55 and feet 53 of the base 50 are resting on the underlying surface 58. The feet 53 can remain fixed on the underlying surface while the opposite portion 57 of the base 50 is rotated about the axis extending through the pintles 54 in the direction demonstrated by arrow "F." This rotation can be performed while the tree is attached to the post 64, and the rotation can continue until the limbs of the tree 10 contact the ground (e.g., rotating an angle of about 90 degrees), such as shown in FIG. 11B. For instance, the body or trunk of the tree 10 can be gripped by the user to rotate the tree accordingly.

[0054] Additionally, by employing the tension ring 65 or other means disclosed herein for adjusting the riser (see, e.g., FIGS. 2-5), the riser 70 can be raised or lowered to a desired height 70'. The height adjustment can be performed while the base fully rests on the underlying surface (e.g., as in FIG. 11A) or, in other examples, after the base has been rotated to the orientation shown in FIG. 11B. Alternatively or additionally, the height of the riser 70 can be adjusted while the tree 10 is attached to the base 50 or when no tree is attached to the base.

[0055] As shown in FIG. 11B, the base 50 can be oriented such that the riser 70' is substantially parallel with the underlying surface 58, corresponding to a reclined position. The trunk of tree 10 can be attached to the riser 70' and extend from the riser in the direction of the central axis 25. By orienting the base 50 on feet 53 with the riser 70' oriented generally horizontally in its reclined position, a user need not lift the full weight of the tree 10 over the base to attach it to the riser 70'. Additionally, while the tree 10 is in its reclined position, a user can also attach the treetop 80 as well as any intermediate tree portions to the main trunk 40. Thus, by positioning the base in the reclined position (FIG. 11B) attachment of the tree 10 to the base 50 is facilitated.

[0056] For example, from the reclined position, a user can disconnect the trunk from the base 50 and reattach an opposite end of the trunk to switch between storage and display configurations. That is, while the base 50 is in its reclined position (e.g., as in FIG. 11B), a user can easily invert the main trunk and attach the second end 44 to switch from the display condition to the storage condition. Alternatively, the user can invert the main trunk to attach the first end 42 with the riser to switch the storage condition to the display condition. Having attached the trunk 40 of tree 10 to the base 50, the base and tree can be rotated back in the direction of arrow "G" (FIG. 11B) to reposition the tree 10 to its normal vertically oriented display condition, as shown in FIG. 11C. Alternatively, if the second end 44 has been attached to the riser 70 of base 50, the base and tree can be rotated back in the direction of arrow "G" (FIG. 11B) to reposition the tree 10 to its storage condition, such as shown in FIG. 10. The feet 53 thus provide stability and facilitate rotation from the substantially horizontal orientation (FIG. 11B) to the substantially vertical orientation of the tree 10 (FIG. 10 or FIG. 11C). As mentioned, while the tree is erect on its base 50, the tree assembly may be tilted onto its wheels 55 and moved to a desired position (e.g., for display or storage).

[0057] While the foregoing examples have been described in the context of removing and attaching an artificial tree to the base, in other examples, a real tree (live or dead) can be attached to the riser while the base is in the reclined position. For example, the riser include an opening to receive a lower trunk of a tree and can include a locking mechanism to lock the trunk with respect to the riser. A user can then rotate the base and the tree attached thereto in the direction "G" to the vertical display condition, similar to FIG. 11C.

[0058] In view of the foregoing structural and functional features described above, examples method will be better appreciated with reference to FIGS. 12 and 13. While, for purposes of simplicity of explanation, the example methods of FIGS. 12 and 13 are shown and described as executing serially, it is to be understood and appreciated that the present examples are not limited by the illustrated order, as some actions could in other examples occur in different orders from that shown and described herein.

[0059] FIG. 12 depicts a method for adjusting the height of the tree (e.g., real or artificial tree) 10. At 300, a ground support portion of a base unit, such as base 50 of FIG. 1, is placed onto an underlying surface. As described with respect to FIG. 1, the base unit 50 can include an adjustable riser 70 attached to and extending upwardly from the ground support to terminate in a distal end portion 48. The distal end portion 48 of the riser 70 is configured to support an elongated trunk 40 of a tree 10 having spaced apart first and second ends 42, 44. At 310, one of the first end or the second end 42, 44 of the trunk 40 is connected to the distal end portion 48 of the adjustable riser 70. This connection can be implemented according to one of the approaches disclosed herein, including FIG. 13, for example. At 320, the height of the adjustable riser 70 is adjusted to adjust a height of branches and the tree 10 relative to the underlying surface where the base unit 50 is placed. As disclosed herein, the height adjustment at 320 can be implemented manually, mechanically or electromechanically assisted.

[0060] FIG. 13 depicts an example of method that can be implemented to configure the tree to one of its storage or display conditions. This can be part of an initial installation when no tree is currently attached to the base or when changing between display and storage conditions for the tree. At 400, the base unit is placed onto an underlying surface. The base may contain with a tree or at least a main trunk portion mounted to the base and extending outwardly from the base. Alternatively, at 400, the base may be without any tree portion mounted therein.

[0061] At 410, the base unit 50 is positioned to its reclined position. For example, base unit 50 can be tilted up onto feet 53 of outer portion 52 of the base 50 without wheels 55, thereby resisting rolling and orienting the adjustable riser 70 substantially horizontally (e.g., to its reclined position). At 420, an end 42 or 44 of the tree trunk 40 of the tree 10 is mounted to the adjustable riser 70. For example, the end 42 can be mounted to the riser when configuring the tree in its display condition. Alternatively, the end 44 can be mounted to the riser when configuring the tree in its storage condition.

[0062] At 430, the base is positioned back onto the underlying surface to its display or storage condition. For example, the base 50 is tilted in the opposite direction from the tilting at 410, such that the adjustable riser 70 is oriented substantially vertically with respect to the underlying surface. Thus, both the feet 53 and wheels 55 of the base unit 50 are in contact with the underlying surface 58. Additionally, at any stage of the method of FIG. 13, the method of FIG. 12 can be implemented to adjust the height of the riser. Moreover, the base may be titled on wheels to facilitate transport of the tree to a desired location for display or storage, as disclosed herein.

[0063] Various different modifications can be made to the example without departing from the scope and spirit of this disclosure. When structures are identified as to perform a function, the identification is intended to include all structures which can perform the function specified. When structures are identified as being coupled together, such language should be interpreted broadly to include the structures being coupled directly together or coupled together through intervening structures. Such coupling could be permanent or temporary and either in a rigid fashion or in a fashion which allows pivoting, sliding or other relative motion while still providing some form of attachment, unless specifically restricted.

[0064] What have been described above are examples. It is, of course, not possible to describe every conceivable combination of structures, components, or methods, but one of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that many further combinations and permutations are possible. Accordingly, this disclosure is intended to embrace all such alterations, modifications, and variations that fall within the scope of this application, including the appended claims. Where the disclosure or claims recite "a," "an," "a first," or "another" element, or the equivalent thereof, it should be interpreted to include one or more than one such element, neither requiring nor excluding two or more such elements. As used herein, the term "includes" means includes but not limited to, and the term "including" means including but not limited to. The term "based on" means based at least in part on.

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