Saturday, May 14, 2016

A Golden Era to Remember


What if Romans had stayed away from hubris and currency defacing? Where would they be today?What if tulip bubbles had spared the Dutch? Would economic markets be better regarded? What if the best artists in the world didn't have to flee Europe during the second world war? Would Paris still be the cultural center of the universe as we know it?
All these people and all these places went through a golden era that was followed by devastating decay. Not to the same magnitude because we're only talking about a car audio store in a small town, but my teammates and I went through a golden era of sorts during the mid-90s. Almost 10 years after I left Stereo West, I had lunch with Noel Huff. I was coming back to my spiritual home of Omaha to do some Rocker Fosgate training for Stereo West. Noel, the smartest and most mature of all the people I remember working for Stereo West when I left, was as pleasant as always. After reminiscing about the good ol' days, he suggested that my stint at the store was its golden era. Although I was humbled by the suggestion, I must say that it felt right to frame it in such way.
It was almost like nothing could go wrong. It seemed as if we could create brain-fart of ideas that would lead to new solutions to better sound.
We sold the better brands. Not one but all. Everyone wanted to be in our store. We had factory sales reps pushing us to build new cars that highlighted their equipment. If you look at the time, we would build a supercar with all Phoenix Gold equipment. We would then build another supercar with all Rockford Fosgate equipment. We would follow it with a supercar featuring all Kicker's best equipment. Inevitably next came a supercar with JL and MB Quart gear. Eclipse, Alpine, we had them all.
image in color of the exterior of Matt Billmeier's 1995 Dodge Ram truckWe were so successful at selling based on quality rather than price that having the biggest discounters in the universe as neighbors didn't even faze us.I remember that management at Nebraska Furniture Mart would send Joe Cavanaugh, the owner of our store, Christmas cards thanking him for another year of high profitability for all. If you are not sure what the Nebraska Furniture Mart is, just download space-station's images of the cities of Dallas, Kansas City and Omaha. Then look for the largest structures visible from space. Those are the three Mart's locations.
We built the best cars, sold the best equipment and never had to discount. We did so much business that there were plenty of crumbs for the likes of Cellular Sound and Security to survive.
It was during that time that some of our best cars were built. Matt Billmeier brought his truck to us precisely during that peak.
Unfortunately, following the principles of historic reality, the golden era was not to last much longer. Those were bittersweet days for me. No matter how successful we were at doing our jobs, there was Greg Pauley who wanted my job and who made it impossible for me to stay. Unfortunately for him, the pleasure of taking my post after my departure didn't last at all. Within a year he was chewed up and discarded by the machine. He simply never had the commitment, integrity or the love for music.
Thankfully for me, those same 12 months brought a new and invigorating experience. Living in Europe opened my eyes. My life changed and I never second-guessed it. It was the best catastrophe I ever experienced.
image in color of the interior of Matt Billmeier's 1995 Dodge Ram truck  highlighting the radio
7909 CD radio was mounted in the stock
radio location, and switches in the ashtray
control various features of the audio system
Yet, I was not the only casualty. There was extensive collateral damage. I left the US without being able to help Brian Casagrande finish his masterpiece, for example. While he eventually forgave me, I still feel sad about it.
I also looked back a thousand times at Matt Billmeier's truck and wondered where he could have gone had I dedicated as much time and creativity to his truck as I did to Chuck Barbosa's car.
But in the end, it was not to be. It all now seems as if time froze. It feels like I can walk between the spaces of yesteryear anytime I want. Yes, it's kind of weird. I am free to experience the greatness of whose golden moments at will.
It is my intention to share this same experience with you. Through this blog  I hope that you can also immerse yourself in between the pictures and the narratives. I hope that all creative ideas we had will make you fall in love with music all over again.
Matt Billmeier's truck was very special indeed. No wonder Car Audio magazine decided to do an Installation's feature on it. The most prestigious article within the best industry magazine had nothing but accolades on this truck. So why not? Let's re-experience it one more time. Here is the transcript from that March 1997 issue. Enjoy!



Car Audio and Electronics
March 1997

Dance Machine
by Edwige Lee
photography by John Skaucky

image in color of Matt Billmeier's 1995 Dodge Ram truck with him and a lot of people around
Sound travels for mobile DJ Matt Billmeier
Matt Billmeier is no stranger to music variety, although he's less than half the age of many of the musicians he listens to. Billmeier, 20, owns a mobile disk-jockey service, where he is likely to play anything from the latest hip-hop anthem to the smooth sounds of the Count Basie Orchestra.
"I play everything, even the stuff I don't like," he said.
Billmeier, of Omaha, Nebraska, is a management information systems major at a local university. He started his DJ business when he was 17. But he said he has tinkered with car radios and electronics ever since he was old enough to have a learner's permit at 15.
"I can't sing, and listening to music and playing music was the only way I could relay what I like to do," Billmeier admitted.
image in color of the interior of Matt Billmeier's 1995 Dodge Ram truck highlighting the equipment behind the driver's seat
Panels behind the seats of Matt Billmeier's '95 Dodge Ram
hold amplifiers, subwoofers, signal processors and accessories
Billmeier said he's interested in and knowledge of 12-volt technology, however, were not enough to complete a competition audio system in his 1995 Dodge Ram 4x4 in the manner he wanted. So he left the installation of a custom system to Greg Pauley of   West in Omaha.
"I could have installed it physically, but I couldn't have made it as nice as they made it," Billmeier said.

Best Use Of Space
The limited space a pickup cab offers presents a unique challenge to installers, but Pauley was up to the task. By mounting angled panels in the narrow crevice behind the seats, using space under the seats, and taking advantage of factory storage compartments and other empty space, Pauley was able to fit in processors, amplifiers, subwoofers, horn-loaded compression drivers, others speakers, and other equipment without compromising passenger space.
image in color of the interior of Matt Billmeier's 1995 Dodge Ram truck  highlighting the grill covers behind the driver's seat
Grills made of MDF and metal mesh
cover the subwoofers. Similar covers,
minus the metal mesh, conceal other
components behind the seats.
The panels behind the seats hold the largest concentration of equipment. The panels, built out of 1/2-inch medite and white Formica, with fiberglass and Bondo added to form curves, where attached to the back wall of the cab. They were finished in gray vinyl, as where all panels in the installation.
The panel in the center, which is visible between the seats, holds a Rockford Fosgate 1-farad capacitor and a Phoenix Gold power-distribution block. Plexiglas covers fit over the two pieces.
A Phoenix Gold EQ-230 equalizer and a Phoenix Gold AX-406 crossover are mounted on a panel behind the passenger seat. The panel on the driver's side holds two Phoenix Gold M. a PS-2240 amplifiers. Strips of aqua neon highlight the interior of each panel, and Plexiglas covers fit over the components to protect them.  
Two Kicker Solo-Baric S12a 12-inch subwoofers are housed inside sealed enclosures behind the seats, one on each side. The front of each enclosure fits flush with the equipment panels.
image in color of the interior of Matt Billmeier's 1995 Dodge Ram truck  highlighting the equipment behind the passenger's seat
A Phoenix Gold equalizer and crossover are mounted behind
Plexiglas in a panel behind the passenger seat.
The subwoofers were mounted on baffles made of medium-density fiberboard (MDF) and white Formica. According to Pauley, each enclosure holds a little under 1 cubic foot of airspace.
Grills wear fashions for the subwoofers out of MDF and metal mesh, and they were finished in grey grill cloth. Similar covers, minus the metal-mesh material, where made to conceal the other components. The covers were wrapped in grey grill cloth, and white Formica was used to finish the backsides of them. All covers used for concealing equipment in the truck where made the same way.

Nontraditional Mount
Midbass supplied by a pair of MB Quart 5 1/4-inch speakers from a CX 215.03 component set installed in custom-made kick panels. The kick panels were built out of MFD, fiberglass, and vinyl.
The hollow cavity behind each kick panel serves as an enclosure for each speaker. Grills similar to the ones concealing the subwoofers were built to protect the kick-panel speakers.
image in color of the interior of Matt Billmeier's 1995 Dodge Ram truck  highlighting the passenger's side kickpanel
An MB Quart 5 1/4-inch speaker was mounted in a custom
kick panel on each side of the truck
The grills are not normally removed, Pauley said, except when the speakers need servicing. But just in case a sound-off Judge asks for them to be taken off during competition, the speaker baffles were painted black for a finished appearance.
Two USD BC-3 RTMT horn-loaded compression drivers handle upper frequencies. But their installation didn't follow the traditional under the dash routine, Pauley said, because the under dash area in the Dodge truck is much narrower than other vehicles. "In that truck, it would have looked really big and really noticeable," he said.
The space below the seats, normally used for storage, was substantial, so Pauley decided to mount the drivers there. Instead of firing toward the passengers as in a typical dash mount, the horns face the opposite way and project sound toward the dash.
The seats did not have to be modified to make the drivers fit, Pauley said. The only changes were some holes that were drilled into the existing seed brackets for mounting bolts. "You don't see any of the mounting pieces," Pauley pointed out.
image in color of the interior of Matt Billmeier's 1995 Dodge Ram truck  highlighting the passenger's side waveguide under the seat
Two horn-loaded compression drivers were mounted
in an usual location: beneath each front seat. The
mouth of each horn is covered by grille cloth.
Each driver is concealed by an L-shaped trim panel made out of MDF and vinyl, with grill cloth stretched over a cut-out in the center for the horn. The panels also extend to the side of the seat next to each door.

Smokin' Bass
The tweeters from the MB Quart CX 215.03 component sets are mounted in cut-outs made at the top of each door. Gray grill cloth was stretched over the cutouts. Because the tweeters are not used for everyday listening. Pauley said, a switch in the dash turns them on for competition use.
The switch is located where the factory ashtray used to be. A vinyl-covered panel in the ashtray holds four switches. One switch turns neon on and off, the second controls a digital voltage meter end and amplifier temperature gauge in the overhead console, the third switches power between the two batteries under the hood, and the last turns the tweeters on and off.
The cigarette lighter also does not work in its original capacity. Pauley modified it to control a Phoenix Gold LPL-44 bass-level controller. By removing the internal workings of the lighter, Pauley said he was able to fit the LPL-44 In Its place. The removable tip of the cigarette lighter was then attached to the control knob on the LPL-44 with epoxy. Instead of pulling out the cigarette lighter to light someone's smoke, the lighter/LPL-44 knob combination is turned to pump out some smokin' bass.
image in color of the interior of Matt Billmeier's 1995 Dodge Ram truck  highlighting the equipment behind on the dash
Displays for battery voltage and amplifier temperature
are mounted behind a smoked Plexiglas panel in an
overhead storage pocket.
Right above the switch panel is the Alpine 7909 CD radio, mounted in the stock location. A trim ring fashioned out of black Formica borders the unit.
An enclosure made out of MDF, fiberglass, and vinyl below the center of the dash holds a Phoenix Gold TBAT balanced-line transmitter. A cover similar to others in the installation conceals the front of it.
A digital voltage display for the batteries and a temperature gauge for the amplifiers are mounted behind a smoked-Plexiglas panel in an overhead storage pocket. A switch on the panel in the ashtray alternates to display from one battery to another, "so you can read the voltages of both batteries with one meter," Pauley said.

That Winning Edge
Pauley protected Billmeier's investment with an Alpine 8080 alarm. When the alarm is triggered, Billmeier's cellular phone housed in the center console will call his pager.
image in color of the engine compartment of Matt Billmeier's 1995 Dodge Ram truck  highlighting the upgraded batteries
The factory battery was replaced with two interstate
batteries linked by a Phoenix Gold isolator. Mounted
next to the battery on the passenger side of the engine
compartment is a Rockford Fosgate capacitor and a
Phoenix Gold fuse holder, all covered by Plexiglas.
Under the hood, the factory battery was replaced with an interstate MTP-74 model. Another sits next to it to power the audio system when the engine is off. The two batteries are linked by a Phoenix Gold isolator. Also mounted near the batteries is a Rockford Fosgate 1-farad capacitor.
The isolator and capacitor are mounted on top of the passenger-side fender wall on a black-Plexiglas panel. A clear Plexiglas panel covers them for protection. The panel also wraps around the batteries and holds various fuses and relays. The factory alternator was replaced with a larger stock 120-ampere model.
The system in Billmeier's Dodge has remained generally the same in the two years it's been installed. Byt upgrades in the system are inevitable, Billmeier said, especially after his only loss in the 1996 season was when he took second place in the 0-100-Watts Consumer class at the USAC Finals in Kansas City.
"There's that winning edge. You always want to be on top of everyone else," he said. "It's the same way being a DJ; you are always trying to outdo the competition. If your competition has 5,000 watts, you want to double that. You're always trying to do better than them."
image in color of the interior of Matt Billmeier's 1995 Dodge Ram truck  highlighting the Line Driver
A compartment made out of MDF,
fiberglass, and vinyl below the dash holds
a Phoenix Gold balanced-transmitter.
image in color of the interior of Matt Billmeier's 1995 Dodge Ram truck  highlighting the status meters
Displays for battery voltage and
amplifier temperature



















In the now customary fashion, the magazine's complete page images follow:

image in color of Car Audio and Electronics March 1997 Cover
Car Audio and Electronics March 1997
Cover
image in color of Car Audio and Electronics March 1997 Index page
Car Audio and Electronics March 1997
Index




















image in color of Car Audio and Electronics March 1997 Pages 36 and 37
Car Audio and Electronics March 1997
Pages 36 and 37

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Car Audio and Electronics March 1997
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Car Audio and Electronics March 1997
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Car Audio and Electronics March 1997
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Car Audio and Electronics March 1997
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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Chateau Lafite of Car Audio

If car audio systems are like wines, if they get better over time, Chuck Barbosa's Laser is the equivalent to an 1869 Chateau Lafite. 
Picture of Chuck Barbosa and his award winning 1990 Plymouth Laser
The Chateau Lafite of Car Audio
At $45,000 per individual serving, the 1869 Chateau Lafite Rothschild from Pauillac, France carries the Rothschild name just in case it's heritage is somehow missed. Yes, the Rothschilds funded Napoleon's wars. They lent us money to buy Louisiana and founded Lincoln's army. They safeguarded both Germany's and Britain's gold during the second world war. And they have been know to shun more than one king including Queen Elizabeth II. We are talking of some serious wine, if we can just see the facts.
Whatever wasn't chromed was polished
Chuck's car is no different. There was simply nothing else left to be chromed or polished anywhere. There were more motors than one could manage. Presenting while being judged for installation was a complete Broadway show with stage hands running around behind Chuck as he turned lights on and off, as seemingly factory panels were removed to uncover more shine than on Trump's airplane, and as motors activated and deactivated; all in a Cirque-du-Soleil-like choreography. Yes, Chuck's car has so much of so many things and that is just before the lights go out and the real show begins: the tremendously real sound presentation. His system was always sweet and precise. There was something very romantic about the way music played in his car.
Staging the illusion: 1990 Plymouth Laser
It took many years, lots of competitions, and in a good deal of
frustration to perfect the layout of this masterful system.
In deed, his car had come a long way since the days of endless frustration. Chuck got the point of being able to win everything he competed in. In a previous article I covered Matt Billmeier's truck and made a comment about the fact that, if given the choice, I would have never had Chuck and Matt compete against each other. In the article I said that Chuck's car was much more mature. You see, Matt's truck, despite being very nice, still had way too much engine work to get done. There was the opportunity to add many points of motorization. Like it or not, judges like lights and motion. No different than mosquitoes. Just throw in some carbon dioxide and they are entranced. Then there is the fact that Matt could have had midbass added to the floor. He had more than enough space and it would have complemented the waveguides much more than the MB Quarts did. Also, I would have gone for a Dynaudio instead. I tried this combination in a future British car and it worked fantastically. And even then, it would have been difficult for Matt to try to take a trophy from Chuck. It is safe to say that his counsel gave Matt bad advice.
A close inspection of the rear of the car does not reveal
any amplifiers. At a touch of a button, four chrome
Kicker amps are revealed
As for chuck, he went on to become one of the most wining vehicles in the history of car audio sound offs.Today, Chuck risks his life so that we all can live a better one. He is a decorated member of the SWAT team in the Kansas City metro area. That, besides still being the best looking guy in our competition team. We used to call him 'Suave' because he had the same gravitational pull on girls as a black-hole on stars. And why not, let's embarrass him.Let's hope his family reads this article so that we can all have a laugh at his expense. He has always had broad-enough shoulders to take on any load.
Chuck, buddy, here is a transcription of the latest article Car Audio printed on you and your car. To read the previous post on your car, visit this link. It is my intention that this blog gains archival value so that your grandchildren can one day see what grandpa was up to. Enjoy:


This 1990 Plymouth Laser is a masterpiece
by Michael Waddell
photography by Heather Selwitz

Everyone loves surprises.
So it makes sense that nearly everyone loves Chuck Barbosa's 1990 Plymouth Laser. Why? Because it's loaded with more treats than a Christmas stocking. But make no mistake, it took many years, lots of competitions, and a good deal of frustration for Barbosa, who worked with Alberto Lopez, to perfect the layout of the system.
The Pioneer ODR CD transport, RSD2,
appears from the dash when the
cigarette lighter is pulled 
At first glance, it appears the factory radio is still in place. The real thing, and RSD2 Pioneer ODR (optical digital reference system) in-dash CD transport, appears when the cigarette lighter is pushed. The large LCD-as background was modified to match the amber color of the instrument panel's lighting.
Like the front dash, the back seat also seems normal and unaltered when first viewed. "The rear seat is far from normal," explained Barbosa. "It is operated by a remote-controlled motor. The motor lowers the seat until it is completely horizontal, exposing the chromed ODR processors.
Mounted on the back seat behind an acrylic
window are Pioneer's ODR P1 digital
equalizer and P50 digital crossover
The P1 Pioneer digital equalizer in the P50 Pioneer digital crossover and digital-to-analog converter (DAC) are mounted with steel brackets. A clear acrylic window makes for a beautiful presentation and protects the processors from damage, while an optical cable connects the processors to the indash transport.
A 12-disc Pioneer ODR CD changer (RSM1) is a comfortably housed in the glove compartment. Pressing a button in the center console activates a motor that smoothly opens the globe box.
A 12-disc ODR CD changer is comfortably housed
in the motorized globe compartment
One of the most surprising aspects of the car is a kick panel design. Many competition vehicles have to expand the kick panel area in order to accommodate custom features. In Barbosa's Laser, the custom panels leave even more room than there was when the car came out of the factory! Accomplishing this feat, however, required some creative thinking.
"Lots of factory wiring, relays, and the car's computer had to be removed in order to keep the kick panels as slim as possible." Barbosa said. "The result is a car that is easier to drive than ever before. This is a stark contrast to many competition vehicles.
A pair of Focal four-inch midrange drivers (4K411) were chosen along with two one-inch Kicker tweeters (ND25) the angles of the mids and highs were determined based on a prediction of the speakers' dispersion properties (or the speakers' ability to radiate sound over a wide angle). The mids are pointed toward the far side passenger area, and the highs directly face a passenger. The result is sound that is wide, focused, and symmetrical.
Chuck chose a factory stealth look
for his dash
"Alberto decided to locate the tweeter in a place where it would be delayed by an almost equal amount, relative to the midrange, for both passengers," said Barbosa. "This is meant to eliminate the effect that makes a sound stage high at one end of the dash and low at the other end. The result is a stage that has stable height and uniform vertical spread from left to right."
After encountering some refraction problems, it was decided that the grills for both the mids and highs needed to be shaped by hand in order to achieve an exponential profile. The stainless steel mesh of the grills made this especially difficult, but not impossible.
Two pairs of Focal 6-inch midbass
drivers are installed in the custom doors
"The grills turned out to be masterpieces. We're very proud of how they turned out," said Barbosa. "One very famous competition judge told us that our grills were so solid that one could play Frisbee with them and still be able to show the car afterwards."
Another masterful piece of work on Barbosa's Laser is the doors. They appear to be stock, but they are actually custom pieces that have been fabricated from fiberglass and are covered in vinyl. Because an accurate match to the factory color could not be found, the vinyl had to be dyed.
Fabricated from fiberglass and
covered in vinyl, these masterful
doors appear stock
"Alberto did an incredible job with the construction of the doors," Barbosa declared. "It has been over four years since then, and the doors to look as good as brand-new."
Two pairs of Focal six-inch midrange drivers are installed in the custom doors and mounted in cylinders that are lined with sound absorption padding. This helps the cylinders to work as short waveguides that control the dispersion of the speakers.
Three Solo-Baric woofers are located in a
fiberglass tub in the trunk of the car
A close inspection of the rear of the car does not reveal the amplifier location, but one touch of the alarm's remote and a custom amp rack suddenly appears, revealing four hand-chromed Kicker amps. To save space, two amps are mounted on each side of the rack.
"We wanted the rack to be very stable, so we used double industrial grade rails and dual linear actuators," explained Barbosa. "The rack is also trimmed in Plexiglass. It took us a lot of hours to sand and polish the edges to make them transparent."
Minor details like these fuses
are paramount for success
To keep the amps cool, a sophisticated fan system allows for a strong flow of air whether the rack is up or down. For easy tuning, the amplifier gains have been extended to one side of the rack using a few feet of speedometer cable. Custom-made cables are used to connect the amps to the speakers and processors. 
Additionally, a digital amplifier gauge highlighting voltage and temperature is mounted behind Plexiglass in the spare pocket under the head unit in the dash. The gauge made by Intellitronics in Oklahoma, features a custom circuit that toggles between all four amps.
In order to fill the bass in the front stage, a Focal five-inch subwoofer (5KX) is vented to the center console (in front of of the shifter). The sub is housed in a sealed enclosure and a custom grill provides an attractive covering.
"Many times judges don't even know that the from sub is even there," Barbosa said.
Three Kicker Solo-Baric ten-inch subwoofers (S-10DC) are located in a fiberglass tub in the trunk of the car. The tub, which is painted with gelcoat to match the exterior of the car, is placed behind the amp rack. Red neon surrounds the enclosure.
For the 2000 season, Barbosa is planning
a complete overhaul of the Laser
Minor detail;s such as this tool tray
keep Chuck ahead of the pack
Even after all of this work, Barbosa was still not reaching the level of competition at the national level that he had hoped for. He lacked one final ingredient - his system needed a good tuning. Doug Winker from Kicker tweaking team helped Barbosa before the '99 IASCA Finals and it paid off in a big way.
Since he began competing in 1992, Barbosa estimates that he has attended well over 100 events. During 1999, he traveled to 12 USAC shows, including the USAC World Finals, where he finished second in his class (Amateur 301-600). 
Behind the rear seat is a custom power
distribution system utilizing
Streetwires products 
He was also undefeated in 10 IASCA events, which included taking the World Championship in his class at the IASCA Finals.
For the 2000 season, Barbosa is planning a complete overhaul of the Laser. Gary Biggs of Car Toys will be heading up the revamping. 
"I don't want to give anything away at this point," said Barbosa. "I must keep my secrets, but my car will certainly have a totally new look for 2000."







Following are the complete pages as published by the magazine:

Index page
Car Audio & Electronics
May 2000
Cover
Car Audio & Electronics
May 2000














Pages 56 and 57
Car Audio & Electronics
May 2000
Page 58
Car Audio & Electronics
May 2000
Page 59
Car Audio & Electronics
May 2000














Page 60Car Audio & Electronics
May 2000

US Patent 7118400 - Vehicle power system with rotatable main assembly

One of the most rewarding aspects of being in a creative and synergistic team comes when collaboration takes place and great ideas are born. This article is for the hardcore among you. It is patent US7118400 as created by Nathan Wincek, John Catalano and I while at AAMP of America. Enjoy!


Vehicle power system with rotatable main assembly
US 7118400 B1


ABSTRACT
A power system includes power inputs, power outputs and power protection and/or power conditioning adapted between the power inputs and power outputs. In some embodiments, a graphics display is included in the system for displaying graphic images from an external video source. The power system is configurable such that the power inputs appear on the left side and outputs on the right side or the opposite with power inputs on the right side and outputs on the left.

DESCRIPTION
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This application is related to U.S. application Ser. No. 11/317,535 titled, “VEHICLE POWER SYSTEM WITH INTEGRATED GRAPHICS DISPLAY,” which was filed on even date herewith; and inventors Alberto A. Lopez, John Catalano and Nathan Wincek. Additionally, this application is related to U.S. application Ser. No. 11/317,539 titled, “VEHICLE POWER SYSTEM WITH WIRE SIZE ADAPTER,” which was filed on even date herewith; and inventors Alberto A. Lopez, John Catalano and Nathan Wincek. Additionally, this application is related to U.S. application Ser. No. 11/317,699 titled, “VEHICLE POWER SYSTEM UTILIZING OVAL WIRE,” which was filed on even date herewith; and inventors Alberto A. Lopez, John Catalano and Nathan Wincek.

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to the field of conditioning or distributing power and more particularly to an apparatus that provides a power conditioning, distribution and/or fusing in one integrated device that is configurable to allow input wires to enter on either side and output wires to exit on the opposite side.

2. Description of the Related Art

Automotive accessories are becoming more functional and decorative. High power audio amplifiers, lighting systems, automation systems and even waterfalls have been installed in vehicle doors, passenger compartments and trunks. These devices utilize large amounts of power and put significant loads on the vehicle's power distribution systems. The art has many examples of vehicle power distribution, including U.S. Pat. No. 6,746,279, “Power Distribution System,” to Lopez, which is hereby incorporated by reference. This patent describes a power distribution and fusing system that accepts one or two larger power wires, fuses the power and distributes the power over several smaller gauge wires.

Additionally, there is a need for lighting and display. U.S. Pat. No. 6,181,563, “Meter Device for Vehicle,” to Shimbu, et al, describes a vehicle metering and display device and is hereby incorporated by reference. This device has a display for displaying vehicle speed and engine speed, for example. The display is mounted in the passenger compartment and visible to the driver. The device of this patent does not distribute power to other devices. Furthermore, the display is provided for displaying information according to signals from the electronic component units integrated into the device and not enabled to accept external, fully-graphical video sources.

Historically, power has been distributed by a single power cable carrying one voltage potential, usually positive, and the frame of the vehicle carrying the other voltage potential, usually negative. The power cables of the prior art are generally heavy gauge, stranded wire of a size suitable for carrying the current required by the load. Standard wire comes in sizes that are numbered based upon its diameter and hence current carrying capacity with the higher numbers used for smaller wire having lower current carrying capacity. For heavy loads, a larger wire size is used. Unfortunately, as more current is required, the wire diameter increases requiring higher-profile connecting devices, causing difficulty in bending and shaping the wire and, when run under carpet, creating bumps and bulges. Oval shape wire has been used in very narrow applications for delivering high-voltage power in the AC power grid. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,171,942 to Wilber F. Powers, issued Dec. 12, 1992, describes a specialized oval wire for overhead high tension lines and is hereby incorporated by reference. This patent describes a very special type of oval power line and does not imply any other use for such oval cable. In another example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,353,177 B1 to Walter W. Young, issued Mar. 5, 2002 describes a cable of oval form, but the core conductor is round and the insulator is oval. This type of power cable has all the issues related to a round cable described above with no advantage for automotive use. The oval design of its insulation improves its wind resistance which is not an issue in automotive applications.

Unfortunately, there is a lack of power conditioning, fusing, and/or distribution devices that have power inputs/outputs that can be swapped to allow the inputs to be on one side or the other.

What is needed is an apparatus that will provide a power circuit that permits configuration of power input on a first side or on the opposite side and optionally provide a graphics display.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

An object of the present invention is to provide a power distribution device that allows configurations with power inputs on a first side or on the opposite side with power outputs on the remaining side. In some embodiments, a graphics display is provided for displaying a wide range of colors, patterns and video.

In one embodiment, power distribution system with configurable input-output connections is disclosed including an enclosure and a configurable power distribution device removably housed within the enclosure. The configurable power distribution device is adapted to accept power from at least one power input connector and is adapted to deliver the power to at least one power output connector. The at least one power input connector is situated on a first side surface of the configurable power distribution device and the at least one power output connector is situated on a second side surface of the configurable power distribution device. The second side surface of the configurable power distribution device directly opposes the first side surface of the configurable power distribution device and the configurable power distribution device is configurable such that the first side surface of the configurable power distribution device is aligned with a side surface of the enclosure.

In another embodiment, a method for distributing power is disclosed including providing a power system with an enclosure and a configurable power distribution device removably housed within the enclosure. The configurable power distribution device adapted to accept power from at least one power input connector and is adapted to deliver the power to at least one power output connector. The at least one power input connector situated on a first side surface of the configurable power distribution device and the at least one power output connector is situated on a second side surface of the configurable power distribution device, the second side surface of the configurable power distribution device directly opposes the first side surface of the configurable power distribution device. The configurable power distribution device is configurable such that the first side surface of the configurable power distribution device is aligned with a side surface of the enclosure. Next, the power distribution device is installed into the enclosure such that the at least one power input connector is positioned towards at least one power input wire and the at least one power output connector is positioned towards at least one power output wire. Next, the at least one power output wire is connected to the at least one power output connector and a set screw associated with each of the at least one power output connectors is tightened. Finally, the at least one power input wire is connected to the at least one power input connector and another set screw associated with each of the at least one power input connectors is tightened.

In another embodiment, a power distribution system is disclosed including an enclosure, a graphics display mounted within a display enclosure which is hingedly coupled to the enclosure and a power distribution device housed within the enclosure for accepting power from a power input and for distributing power to a power output. The power input is situated on a side edge of the power distribution device and the power output is situated on an opposite side edge. The enclosure is adapted to permit the installation of the power distribution device in a first configuration having the power inputs on a left side of the enclosure and to permit the installation in a second configuration having the power input on the right side of the enclosure.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The invention can be best understood by those having ordinary skill in the art by reference to the following detailed description when considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:
FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of the apparatus of the present invention.

FIG. 2 illustrates a right-side perspective view of the present invention.

FIG. 3 illustrates a left-side perspective view of the present invention.

FIG. 4 illustrates an exploded view of the present invention.

FIG. 5 illustrates a perspective view of the apparatus of the present invention configured for opposite connections to that of FIG. 1.

FIG. 6 illustrates a schematic diagram of the common electronics of the present invention.

FIG. 7 illustrates a schematic diagram of a fused distribution option of the present invention.

FIG. 8 illustrates a schematic diagram of a distribution block option of the present invention.

FIG. 9 illustrates a schematic diagram of a high capacity capacitor option of the present invention.

FIG. 10 illustrates a schematic diagram of a power conditioning circuit option of the present invention.

FIG. 11 a illustrates a power cable and a power distribution box of the prior art.

FIG. 11 b illustrates a power cable and a power distribution box of the present invention.

FIG. 12 illustrates a cable size adapter of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
Reference will now be made in detail to the presently preferred embodiments of the invention, examples of which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings. Throughout the following detailed description, the same reference numerals refer to the same elements in all figures. In the description of the device for distributing power of the present invention, the perspective views include a display and a power option having two power inputs, a plurality of fuses and four power outputs. This is an example of one possible configuration, whereas any number of inputs and outputs as well as several different power options are described later and can be installed into the same housing. The graphics display is multipurpose, in that it is useful for displaying video such as a video stream from a DVD player and text as well as emitting a wide range of colors and patterns, providing both aesthetic as well as safety features.
Referring to FIG. 1, a perspective view of the apparatus of the present invention is shown. The power distribution system 5includes an outer case 10 with a display (not visible) housed within a display housing 100. The power distribution system 5has a rotatable and exchangeable power distribution device allowing configuration with various power options that can be oriented so that power enters on the left side and exits on the right side or visa-versa, providing flexibility in the viewing direction of the display. The power distribution system 5 in this embodiment has two power inputs 20/22 connected through a power input connector, in this embodiment, a terminal block 23 and physically/electrically held by set screws 24. The terminal block is sized to accept a specific size of wire. In some embodiments, the wire is oval or elliptical so that it lies flat when routed through a vehicle, especially under carpet, bends easy and so that the power distribution system can be designed to have a lower profile than if round wire is used. The inputs 20/22 are connected to a first terminal 42 of the fuses40/44. In this embodiment, two types of fuses are installed 40/44 but in some embodiments, only one type of fuse is installed providing flexibility in protection for each output 30/32/34/36 in that a first type of fuse has current ranges up to 40 amps, while another type fuse has current ranges up to 750 amps. The second terminal 42 of the fuses 40/44 is connected to a power output connector, in this embodiment, a second terminal block 27 for connection to the output power cables30/32/34/36, held electrically/physically with set screws 26.
Referring to FIG. 2, a right-side perspective view of the present invention is shown. The case 10 has a side cut-out that is filled with a surface 39 of the power distribution module and has four openings 31/33/35/37 configured to accept four output power cables (30/32/34/36 from FIG. 1). The display housing 100 is shown slightly tilted. In this embodiment, the display is rotatably coupled to the outer case 10 allowing adjustment to its angles.
Referring to FIG. 3, a left-side perspective view of the present invention is shown. The outer case 10 has a side cut-out that is filled with a surface 39 of the power distribution module and has two openings 19/21 configured to accept two input power cables (20/22 from FIG. 1). The display housing 100 is shown slightly tilted and the display 102 is visible. The display 102 is of any flat panel display technology known in the industry, including but not limited to plasma, liquid crystal display (LCD), etc. In this embodiment, a video input connector 104 is provided for providing a video source to the display 102. In some embodiments, display content is generated internally, providing varying colors, patterns and lighting effects.
Referring to FIG. 4, an exploded view of the present invention is shown. The power distribution system 5 includes an outer case 10 with a display 102 housed within a display housing 100 that is hingedly connected to the outer case 10. The power distribution system 5 has rotatable and exchangeable power distribution devices configurable with various power options that can be oriented so that power enters on the left side and exits on the right side or visa-versa, providing flexibility in the viewing direction of the display. The power distribution system 5 in this embodiment has two power input connectors which are, in this embodiment, a terminal block 23. The input power wires are physically and electrically held by set screws 24. The inputs are connected to a first terminal 42 of the fuses 40/44. In this embodiment, two types of fuses are installed40/44, In some embodiments, only one type of fuse 40 or the other 44 is installed providing flexibility in protection for each output. The second terminal 42 of the fuses 40/44 is connected to a second power output connector, in this embodiment, a terminal block 27 for connection to the output power wires (30/32/34/36 in FIG. 1), held electrically and physically with set screws 26. The power distribution module 39 has a modular housing 76 that is symmetrical so that the power distribution module 39 is adaptable to be mounted within the outer case 10 in one orientation or in another opposite orientation, rotated 180 degrees horizontally. Wire guides 79 guide the two power input wires (20/22) into the terminal block 23 and wire guides78 guide the power output wires (30/32/34/36) into the output terminal block 27. A circuit board 70 provides power and video distribution to the display 102 and holds the video input connector 104. In some embodiments, a graphics display controller (see FIG. 6) is mounted on the circuit board 70. A bottom cover 72 protects the circuit board and holds the power distribution module 39 within the outer case 10.
Referring to FIG. 5, a perspective view of the apparatus of the present invention configured for opposite connections to that of FIG. 1 is shown. The power distribution system 5 includes an outer case 10 with a display (not visible) housed within a display housing 100. The power distribution system 5 has a rotatable and exchangeable power distribution device configurable with various power options that can be oriented so that power enters on the left side and exits on the right side or visa-versa, providing flexibility in the direction of the display. The power distribution system 5 in this embodiment has four power outputs 30/32/34/36 connected through a power output connector, in this embodiment a terminal block 27. The power output wires 30/32/34/36 are physically and electrically held by set screws 26. The outputs 30/32/34/36 are connected to a first terminal 42 of the fuses 40/44. In this embodiment, two types of fuses are installed 40/44 but in some embodiments, only one type of fuse 40 or the other 44 is installed providing flexibility in protection for each output 30/32/34/36. The second terminal 42 of the fuses 40/44 is connected to a power input connector, in this embodiment a terminal block 23 for connection to the input power wires 20/22. The input power wires 20/22 are electrically and physically coupled with set screws 24.
Referring to FIG. 6, a schematic diagram of the common electronics of the present invention is shown. In this embodiment, two DC inputs 20/22 enter the power distribution device or modular power circuit 115. In other embodiments, one, three, four or any number of DC inputs is present. The content and function of the power distribution device 115 will be described in the description of FIGS. 7–10. Generally, the power distribution device 115 is a device that accepts power from a power source and distributes the power to one or more power outputs. In some embodiments, the power distribution device 115 provides protection by way of fuses or surge suppressors or provides power conditioning.
Also in this embodiment, four DC outputs 30/32/34/36 exit the power distribution device 115. In other embodiments, one, two, three or any number of outputs exits the power distribution device 115. A connection to one of the DC inputs 22 is made to derive power for the internal electronics, indicators and displays. In some embodiments, the power passes through a fuse 110 to protect from an overload in the internal electronics and display. In the present embodiment, the input video signal 105 from the video input connector 104 is routed to a graphics display controller 112 which accepts a video signal from the video connector 104 such as NTSC, RGB, S-video, composite video, SECAM, PAL and the like, decodes the signal and generated signals required by the video display 102, for example, LVDS (Low Voltage Differential Signal) and parallel. The display is preferably a liquid crystal display (LCD), but can be any flat panel display including Plasma.
In some embodiments, the graphics display controller 112 generates colors and patterns on the video display 102independently of the video input 105. In these embodiments, there is a user interface (not shown) consisting of an input device such as a keyboard or keyboard and mouse (not shown), configured to accept commands from a user to set up the display colors, patterns and sequences.
Referring to FIG. 7, a schematic diagram of a fused distribution option 120 of the present invention is shown. The circuit shown includes two DC inputs 20/22 connected to four DC outputs 30/32/34/36 by fuses 40/44. Note that in some embodiments more than one type of fuse receptacle is deployed in parallel providing flexibility in fuse selection and current handling. By installing more than one type of fuse in parallel, the current handling capacity is increased.
Referring to FIG. 8, a schematic diagram of a distribution block option 130 of the present invention is shown. The circuit includes two DC inputs 20/22 directly connected to four DC outputs 30/32/34/36 through wiring paths 132.
Referring to FIG. 9, a schematic diagram of a high capacity capacitor option 140 of the present invention is shown. The circuit includes a DC input 20 directly connected to two DC outputs 30/32 with a capacitor 142 between the DC input 20and ground 146. The capacitor 142 is, for example, a high-capacity electrolytic or super capacitor. The value of the capacitor is, for example, 10–30 farads at 15 volts.
Referring to FIG. 10 illustrates a schematic diagram of a power conditioning circuit option 150 of the present invention. The circuit includes a DC input 20 that is conditioned with a power conditioning circuit 152 before passing to two DC outputs30/32. The power conditioning circuit 152 is also connected to a ground 156. In some embodiments, the power conditioning circuit 152 includes circuitry to regenerate the standard 12V output by switching the DC input voltage at a high frequency into a transformer (e.g., a torroid transformer), then regulating and filtering the output of the transformer to conform to the required 12V output, thereby eliminating any voltage fluctuations and noise created by the vehicle's engine or high current devices such as starter motors, lights, power seats and the like.
Referring to FIG. 11 a, a wire or power cable and power distribution system of the prior art is shown. The power cable 112 is substantially round or tubular and has a central conductor 111 and an insulator 113. The power distribution system 9 of the prior art has a round receptacle 109 for accepting the power cable 112. The height, h, of the power distribution system 109must be greater than the diameter, d, of the power cable 112.
Referring to FIG. 11 b, a wire or power cable and power distribution system of the present invention is shown. The power cable 120 is substantially oval or elliptical and has a central conductor 121 that is also substantially oval or elliptical and an insulator 123 that is also substantially oval or elliptical. The power distribution system 10 of the present invention has an oval or elliptical receptacle 107 for accepting the power cable 120. The height, h′ of the power distribution system 10 is greater than the diameter, d′, of the power cable 120, but since the diameter d′ of the elliptical cable 120 is smaller than the diameter d of the round cable 112, it is possible for the height h′ of the power distribution system of the present invention to be less than the height h of the power distribution system of the prior art, providing a much lower profile power distribution system that looks better and fits better in tight compartments.
Referring now to FIG. 12, a cable size adapter of the present invention is shown. The power distribution system 10 has openings and terminal blocks 107 that are sized to accept one size of wire 120. The insulation 123 of the wire 120 is stripped, exposing the oval conductor 121 which is then inserted into the power distribution terminal block 10 into the oval opening 107 where it is held in place by a set screw (shown in FIGS. 1, 4 and 5). The size of the opening 107 and terminal block are adapted to one specific size of wire. If a smaller wire 130 is used without an adapter 135, the set screw would not properly hold the wire in place and proper conduction would not be achieved. Instead, the smaller wire 130 has its insulation133 stripped exposing its smaller oval conductor 131 and the exposed oval conductor 131 is inserted into a cable size adapter 135 and the smaller wire 130 and cable size adapter 135 are then inserted into the opening 107 and fastened with a set screw. In some embodiments, the cable size adapter 135 has a hole 137 sized to allow the set screw to pass through the cable size adapter 135 and apply pressure directly to the conductor 131. The adapter 135 is made from a conductive material, preferably copper or brass. In some embodiments, the adapter 135 is plated with another conductive metal such as nickel, brass, gold or silver.
Equivalent elements can be substituted for the ones set forth above such that they perform in substantially the same manner in substantially the same way for achieving substantially the same result.
It is believed that the system and method of the present invention and many of its attendant advantages will be understood by the foregoing description. It is also believed that it will be apparent that various changes may be made in the form, construction and arrangement of the components thereof without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention or without sacrificing all of its material advantages. The form herein before described being merely exemplary and explanatory embodiment thereof. It is the intention of the following claims to encompass and include such changes.

CLAIMS(20)
1. A power distribution system with configurable input-output connections, the power system comprising:
an enclosure; and
a configurable power distribution device removably housed within the enclosure, the configurable power distribution device adapted to accept power from at least one power input connector and the configurable power distribution device adapted to deliver the power to at least one power output connector,
a graphics display hingedly mounted to the enclosure wherein the graphics display is controlled by a graphics display controller;
wherein the at least one power input connector is situated on a first side surface of the configurable power distribution device, and the at least one power output connector is situated on a second side surface of the configurable power distribution device, the second side surface of the configurable power distribution device directly opposing the first side surface of the configurable power distribution device, and
whereas the configurable power distribution device is configurable such that the first side surface of the configurable power distribution device is aligned with one of a first side surface of the enclosure and a second side surface of the enclosure.
2. The power system of claim 1, wherein the configurable power distribution device passes the power from the at least one power input connector through at least one fuse to the at least one power output connector.
3. The power system of claim 1, wherein the configurable power distribution device passes the power from the at least one power input connector to the at least one power output connector and at least one capacitor is coupled between the at least one power input connector and a ground potential.
4. The power system of claim 1, wherein the configurable power distribution device passes the power from the at least one power input connector through a power conditioning circuit to the at least one power output connector.
5. The power system of claim 1, wherein the graphics display controller is connected to a video input connector mounted on the periphery of the enclosure.
6. The power system of claim 1, wherein the the graphics display controller generates colors and patterns for display on the graphics display.
7. The power system with display of claim 1, wherein the power distribution device is adapted to be installed in a first configuration and in a second configuration, in the first configuration the at least one power input connector situated on the first side surface of the enclosure and in the second configuration the at least one power input connector situated on the second side surface of the enclosure.
8. A method for distributing power comprising:
providing a power system, the power system:
an enclosure; and
a configurable power distribution device removably housed within the enclosure, the configurable power distribution device adapted to accept power from at least one power input connector and the configurable power distribution device adapted to deliver the power to at least one power output connector,
a graphics display hingedly mounted to the enclosure, the graphics display controlled by a graphics display controller;
wherein the at least one power input connector situated on a first side surface of the configurable power distribution device, the at least one power output connector is situated on a second side surface of the configurable power distribution device, the second side surface of the configurable power distribution device directly opposes the first side surface of the configurable power distribution device, and whereas the configurable power distribution device is configurable such that the first side surface of the configurable power distribution device is aligned with a sides surface of the enclosure,
installing the power distribution device into the enclosure such that the at least one power input connector is positioned towards at least one power input wire and the at least one power output connector is positioned towards at least one power output wire;
inserting the at least one power output wire to the at least one power output connector and tightening a set screw associated with each of the at least one power output connectors; and
connecting the at least one power input wire to the at least one power input connector and tightening another set screw associated with each of the at least one power input connectors.
9. The method claim 8, wherein the power distribution device passes the power from the at least one power input connector through at least one fuse to the at least one power output connector.
10. The method claim 8, wherein the power distribution device passes the power from the at least one power input connector to the at least one power output connector and at least one capacitor is coupled between the at least one power input connector and a ground potential.
11. The method claim 8, wherein the power distribution device passes the power from the at least one power input connector through a power conditioning circuit to the at least one power output connector.
12. The method claim 8, wherein the graphics display controller is connected to a video input connector mounted on the periphery of the enclosure.
13. The method claim 8, wherein the graphics display controller generates colors and patterns for display on the graphics display.
14. The method claim 8, wherein the power distribution device is adapted to be installed in a first configuration and in a second configuration, in the first configuration the at least one power input connector appearing on a first side of the enclosure and in the second configuration the at least one power input connector appearing on an opposite side of the enclosure.
15. An power distribution system comprising:
an enclosure means;
a means to display graphic images mounted within a display enclosure, the display enclosure hingedly coupled to the enclosure means; and
a means to distribute power housed within the enclosure means, the means to distribute power adapted to accept power from a means to input power and the means to distribute power adapted to deliver the power to a means to output power,
the means to input power situated on a side edge of the means to distribute power and the means to output power situated on an opposite side edge of the means to distribute power, the enclosure means adapted to permit the installation of the means to distribute power in a first configuration having the means to input power on a left side of the enclosure means and to permit the installation of the means to distribute power in a second configurations having the means to input power on a right side of the enclosure means.
16. The power system with display of claim 15, wherein the means to distribute power passes the power from the means to input power through at least one fuse means to the means to output power.
17. The power system with display of claim 15, wherein the means to distribute power passes the power from the means to input power to the means to output power and at least one capacitor is coupled between the means to input power and a ground potential.
18. The power system with display of claim 15, wherein the means to distribute power passes the power from the means to input power through a power conditioning circuit to the means to output power.
19. The power system with display of claim 15, wherein the means to display graphic images is controlled by a graphics display controller means and the graphics display controller means is connected to a video input means mounted on the periphery of the enclosure.
20. The power system with display of claim 15, wherein the means to display graphic images is controlled by a graphics display controller means and the graphics display controller means generates colors and patterns for display on the means to display graphic images.














































































































PATENT CITATIONS
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REFERENCED BY
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7942706 *May 17, 2011Scosche Industries, Inc.Configurable power distribution block
US8425256 *Apr 12, 2011Apr 23, 2013Yazaki CorporationConnector
US9306379 *Jan 16, 2014Apr 5, 2016William GreenbergFuse and power distribution block
US20110117791 *May 19, 2011Scosche Industries, Inc.Configurable power distribution block
US20120094537 *Apr 12, 2011Apr 19, 2012Yazaki CorporationConnector
US20140305693 *Jan 16, 2014Oct 16, 2014William GreenbergFuse and Power Distribution Block

CLASSIFICATIONS
U.S. Classification439/170439/715439/620.29
International ClassificationH01R29/00
Cooperative ClassificationH01R2201/18H01R9/2441H01R9/245H01R2201/26
European ClassificationH01R9/24D4H01R9/24D6

LEGAL EVENTS
DateCodeEventDescription
Dec 23, 2005ASAssignment
Owner name: AAMP OF FLORIDA, INC., FLORIDA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:LOPEZ, ALBERTO A.;CATALANO, JOHN;WINCEK, NATHAN;REEL/FRAME:017417/0586
Effective date: 20051223
Nov 20, 2006ASAssignment
Owner name: GENERAL ELECTRIC CAPITAL CORPORATION, AS AGENT, CO
Free format text: SECURITY AGREEMENT;ASSIGNOR:AAMP OF FLORIDA, INC.;REEL/FRAME:018552/0181
Effective date: 20061116
Dec 4, 2009FPAYFee payment
Year of fee payment: 4
Apr 10, 2014FPAYFee payment
Year of fee payment: 8
Oct 9, 2015ASAssignment
Owner name: ANTARES CAPITAL LP, AS SUCCESSOR AGENT, ILLINOIS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY SECURITY AGREEMENT;ASSIGNOR:GENERAL ELECTRIC CAPITAL CORPORATION, AS RETIRING AGENT;REEL/FRAME:036826/0746
Effective date: 20150821