United States Patent [19]
US005761029A
United States Patent [19]
Jay
[11] Patent Number:
[45] Date of Patent:
5,400,408
5,435,737
[54] PLUG-IN POWER MODULE FOR PERSONAL
COMPUTER
Mesa, Ariz. 85.215
[21] Appl. No.:767,512
236799 9/1987 European Pat. Off. ............... 361/686
Dec. 16, 1996
[51] Int. Cl* … G06F 1/16; H04R 1/02
[52] U.S. Cl. ............................. 361/683; 361/685; 381/88
[58] Field of Search ..................................... 361/724, 725,
361/727. 683, 686. 687, 697, 685; 381/28.
87, 88, 120; 455/341, 347; 364/708.1, 710.12;
G06F 1/16
[56]
5,124.885
3/1995 Lundgren et al. ........................ 381/88
7/1995 Haga et al. .........
... 439/157
5.535,281 7/1996 Gulick .........
...... 381/28
5,546,273 8/1996 Harris ..
... 361/697
5,557.240 9/1996 Lee .......................................... 330/.297
FOREIGN PATENT DOCUMENTS
[76] Inventor: David N. Jay, 6544 E. Rochelle Cr.,
[22] Filed:
5,761,029
Jun. 2, 1998
Primary Examiner—Lynn D. Feild
Attorney, Agent, or Firm—Cahill. Sutton & Thomas, P.L.C.
[57]
ABSTRACT
An audio power amplifier module fits in a disk bay of a
computer and bolts to the frame of the computer. The
module is powered from the power supply in the computer
and uses the frame of the computer as a heat sink. The
References Cited
module includes connectors for attachment to an internal
U.S. PATENT DOCUMENTS
sound board and to external speakers. A volume control is
provided on the power module, in addition to the volume
control typically included in a sound board.
6/1992 Liu .......................................... 361/683
5,311,397 5/1994 Harshberger et al. .................. 361/683
5,355,489 10/1994 Bealkowski et al. ................... 395/700
10 Claims, 1 Drawing Sheet
5,761,029
2
uses the frame of the computer as a heat sink for the power
transistors in the module and locates the power transistors
1
PLUG-IN POWER MODULE FOR PERSONAL
COMPUTER
near the frame for low thermal resistance to the frame. The
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates to multimedia personal computers
and, in particular, to a plug-in audio power module for a
multimedia personal computer.
The personal computer has evolved quickly since its birth
twenty years ago from an electronic typewriter to desktop
publishing and from word processing to speaking and lis
tening. The typical computer available today includes a CD
ROM drive for storing video, text. and speech. generically
power module includes connectors for coupling the power
module to an internal sound board and to external speakers.
A volume control is provided on the power module, in
addition to the volume control typically included in a sound
board.
10
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
15
A more complete understanding of the invention can be
obtained by considering the following detailed description in
conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:
FIG. 1 illustrates a personal computer, including a plug-in
power module constructed in accordance with the invention,
between two high fidelity speakers;
FIG. 2 is a partially exploded view of a computer and a
plug-in power module constructed in accordance with the
20
invention;
referred to as multimedia, that are also available on-line
from many services.
Nearly all computers sold today are capable of handling
multimedia information but the computers only include the
equivalent of a pre-amplifier for sound reproduction. Sepa
rate power amplifiers and speakers must be added to obtain
high fidelity reproduction of sound. Small, powered speak
ers are an option but do not provide the high fidelity
reproduction available from digital sound sources. One
problem with putting a power amplifier in a computer is the
power dissipated by the module. The output transistors in an
audio power amplifier must be attached to heat sinks and the
heat sinks must be adequately ventilated to prevent damage
to the amplifier. Thus, sound boards cannot include a power
amplifier because the heat sinks would block adjacent slots
for printed circuit boards, could heat adjacent boards and, in
turn, could be blocked from adequate ventilation by adjacent
FIG. 3 is a top view of a plug-in module in place in the
25
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE
INVENTION
30
boards. Further, the conductive traces in a motherboard are
too small to supply the current needed by a power amplifier.
Even if presently available sound boards could include
adequate heat sinks, there is a compatibility problem in that
the buss structure of different brands or models of computers
is not the same, even within the generic designations of
“IBM clone” or “Mac.” Providing a custom power amplifier
board for each possible configuration is expensive. Without
a custom board, upgrading an older computer to multimedia
capability may not be possible.
In the prior art, U.S. Pat. No. 5,557.240 (Lee) describes
the combination of a power supply and power amplifier for
a computer. U.S. Pat. No. 5400.408 (Lundgren et al.)
discloses a video display including an integral stereophonic
amplifier and speakers. U.S. Pat. No. 5.535.281 (Gulick)
discloses a low power integrated circuit amplifier for mul
timedia computers. None of the patented systems is
described as universal, or as producing more than a few
watts, or as capable of powering external, high fidelity
speakers.
In view of the foregoing, it is therefore an object of the
invention to provide a plug-in power module that is com
patible with any personal computer.
Another object of the invention is to provide a plug-in
power module that is compatible with existing sound boards.
A further object of the invention is to provide a plug-in
power module that is easily installed in any new or used
In FIG. 1, computer 10 includes case 11 mounted on a
frame for enclosing power supply, a CPU board, memory, a
sound board, a video board, and other printed circuit boards.
The frame for computer 10 defines several bays for receiv
ing several drives, e.g. floppy disk drive 12, hard drive 13,
35
and CD ROM drive 14. Plug-in audio power module 15 fits
within a bay for a disk drive. Module 15 is coupled to the
power supply within computer 10 by a four conductor cable
as used for powering a hard disk. Audio power from module
15 is coupled to external, high fidelity speakers 16 and 17 for
full fidelity sound reproduction. Although computer 10 is
illustrated as a “tower” type of computer, module 15 can be
used with a “desktop” configuration computer or any other
design because the module is proportioned to fit the bay for
a disk drive.
45
FIG. 2 is a partially exploded view of a computer and a
plug-in audio power amplifier. Module 20 includes printed
circuit board 21 attached to a small metal chassis having
sides 23 and 24 and a bottom extending underneath the
printed circuit board. Front panel 25 is attached to the sides
50
of the chassis and provides a filler for the disk bay when
module 20 is in place. Front panel 25 includes headphone
jack 31, volume control 33, indicator light 35, and power
switch 36.
55
Cabling 27 includes a plurality of wires for connecting
printed circuit board 21 to terminal strip 28. The connector
to the power supply in computer 10 preferably includes a
four wire plug like those used for supplying power to a hard
disk. Such plugs are shaped to be inserted in a socket on only
one orientation.
computer.
Another object of the invention is to provide a plug-in
power module for driving external, high fidelity speakers.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The foregoing objects are achieved by this invention in
which a power module fits in a disk bay of a computer and
bolts to the frame of the computer. Electrical power is
provided by the power cable for a disk drive. The module
disk bay of a computer; and
FIG. 4 is a detailed view of the plug-in module showing
the thermal connection to the frame of a computer.
65
The connectors to a sound board (not shown) include
phone jacks that match the plugs from the sound board. In
a preferred embodiment of the invention, headphone jack 31
is wired in parallel with the phono input connectors on
terminal strip 28 to enable headphones to be used when
private listening is preferred. Headphone jack 31 preferably
includes a cut-out switch for disabling module 20 when a
plug is inserted into the jack. Strip 28 is mounted at the rear
of computer 10 to avoid having speaker wires attached to the
5,761,029
5
8. A multimedia computer as set forth in claim 6 and
further comprising:
cabling for coupling said module to said power supply.
9. A multimedia computer module as set forth in claim 6
and further including:
a front panel attached to said chassis;
a headphone jack on said front panel;
an on-off switch on said front panel.
6
10. A multimedia computer as set forth in claim 9 wherein
said module includes a pair of audio power amplifiers
thermally and mechanically attached one each to said sides;
5
and
-
--
-
-
wherein said sides are mechanically and thermally
attached to said frame for thermally coupling both
power amplifiers to the frame.
3:
; ;
; ;
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