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MIRROR ACTUATOR ELECTRICAL
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention is related to a vehicular exterior 5 mirror assembly and, in particular, to an electrical connector arrangement for delivering electrical current to mirror positioning actuator motors in such exterior mirror assembly.
Vehicle exterior mirrors are remotely positionable by an actuator assembly. Such actuator assembly typically includes two motors, each for rotating the mirror with respect to one of two generally orthogonal axes. Various techniques have been proposed for supplying electrical current to the two motors in order to independently actuate the motors in either a forward or reverse rotational direction. It is common to provide a hollow pivot post that pivotally mounts the mirror assembly to the vehicle, in order to provide a breakaway feature whereby the mirrors may be knocked out of position without damaging the mirror mount- 2Q ing or which may be folded by yet another motor into a foldaway position. It is known to have a wiring harness pass through the central opening of the pivot post and be terminated at one or more electrical connectors for connecting with the actuator assembly. A difficulty with the prior art is ^ that the connector bodies used to electrically interface the wiring harness with the actuator case terminals have been too large to pass through the opening in the pivot post pivotally mounting the mirror assembly. Therefore, it has been necessary to leave the other end of the wire harness not 3Q terminated to thereby pass through the opening in the pivot post. This requires a subsequent step of terminating the other end of the wiring harness which is a labor intensive operation that must take place after the mirror has been assembled. On mirror assemblies that are not foldable, it is 3J still necessary to pass the wires through an opening passing to the vehicle.
In a proposed actuator, the connectors are made up of electrical terminals staked onto the wires and then slidably received within complimentary slots in the connector body. 40 Such arrangement has not been entirely satisfactory. The connector body must be made relatively large in order to provide sufficient rigidity to the terminals held in this manner. Furthermore, the assembly of the terminal to the connector body is relatively labor intensive and conducive to 45 automated assembly. Furthermore, the retention of the terminals in the connector body is of questionable strength.
In order to retain the connector to the case of the actuator, resilient clips are provided on the connector body which engage openings in the actuator case. Thus, a force pushing 50 the connector body towards the actuator case will cause the terminals of the connector to engage terminals of the case and will ultimately cause an engagement of the spring resilient clips with the openings in the actuator case. While such arrangement is intended to hold the connector in place 55 against the actuator case, the connector can be readily dislocated by a pulling on the wire harness. Therefore, an extra stay is provided to hold the wiring harness against the actuator case to reduce the likelihood that the wires will be pulled sufficiently to dislocate the connector bodies from the go case.
Another difficulty with such arrangement is that it necessitates the placement of openings in the actuator case. Because the actuator is exposed to environmental conditions, namely moisture, road splash, and the like, the 65 existence of openings in the case provides a quality difficulty with the known connector engagement mechanism. In order
to overcome the difficulty, the prior art has proposed configuring the connector to provide a sealing interface between the connector body and the case. While such arrangement may reduce the amount of moisture entering the case, it cannot entirely preclude such penetration.
Another difficulty with prior actuator assemblies is the necessity to provide electrical conductors from terminals on the actuator case to the electrical motors therein. It is common to use metal banding to attach the internal conductors to the external terminals which technique is prone to a high incident of poor conductivity and even mechanical failure. Several proposals have been made to replace the banding procedures of the prior art. One proposal is disclosed in commonly assigned patent application Ser. No. 08/780,996 filed Jan. 9, 1997 now U.S. Pat. No. 5,900,999, for a HOUSING WITH INTEGRAL CONNECTOR FOR REARVIEW MIRROR ACTUATOR ASSEMBLY, now U.S. Pat. No. 5,900,999, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference. However, even the proposals provided therein require a separate step of applying conductors to the actuator case.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention provides a vehicular exterior mirror assembly which eliminates the drawbacks of the prior art. According to an aspect of the invention, the mirror assembly includes an actuator having a case and at least two electric motors supported by the case and connected with a reflective element to provide adjustment to the reflective element with respect to at least two axes. A wiring harness is provided having a connector and a plurality of wires terminated at the connector. The connector includes at least three electrical connector terminals electrically interconnected with the wires. When the connectors join with the actuator case, the connector terminals make direct contact with corresponding receiving terminals of the electrical motors. In this manner, the necessity for electrical connectors within the actuator casing is substantially eliminated and both motors are supplied from one connector. Importantly, this eliminates the necessity for the banding of conductors to the motor terminals and the attendant labor expenses and failure mode associated therewith. It also avoids potential misconnection resulting from use of more than one connector to feed the motors.
According to another aspect of the invention, a vehicular exterior mirror assembly includes an actuator having a case and at least two electric motors supported by the case and connected with a reflective element to provide adjustment to the reflective element with respect to two axes. A wiring harness is provided having a connector and a plurality of wires terminated at the connector. The connector includes a plurality of electrical connector terminals electrically interconnected with the wires and adapted to be joined with the actuator case. The connector includes a body defined by two facing portions that capture portions of the connector terminals between the two facing portions. This configuration provides exceptionally secure mechanical support for the terminals by the connector body. This is accomplished in a manner which is easy to assemble and is adapted to automatic assembling techniques. In particular, the connector terminals may be supported by application from above one of the facing portions with the other facing portion then being placed above the connector terminals thereby holding the terminals in place. Preferably, the two portions are integrally molded and define a living hinge. The portions may be joined in facing relationship by known techniques, such as cold staking, heat staking, snap welding, sonic welding and adhesive bonding.
According to another aspect of the invention, a vehicular exterior mirror assembly includes an actuator having a case and at least two electric motors supported by the case and connected with a reflective element to provide adjustment to the reflective element with respect to the two axes. A wiring 5 harness is provided having a connector and a plurality of wires terminated at the connector. The connector includes a plurality of electrical connector terminals electrically interconnected with the wires and adapted to be joined with the actuator case. Complimentary retention members on the connector and the actuator case engage to retain the connector with the actuator case. The retention members are positively engaged, thus requiring motion other than a separating motion between the connector and the actuator case to disengage the retention members. This provides an exceptionally strong mechanical bond between the connector and the actuator case. Preferably, the retention member includes a pair of ears on one of the connector and the actuator case which engage features protruding from the other of the connector and the actuator case.
Accordingly to yet another aspect of the invention, a vehicular exterior mirror assembly includes an actuator having a case and at least two electrical motors supported by the case and connected with a reflective element to provide adjustment to the reflective element with respect to at least ^ two axes. The assembly further includes a wiring harness having a connector and a plurality of wires terminated at the connector. The connector includes a plurality of electrical connector terminals electrically interconnected with the wires and adapted to be joined with the actuator case. The 3Q mirror assembly housing defines an internal passage therethrough. The electrical connector has a cross-section width dimension that is less than the cross section of the internal passage of the mirror assembly housing. This allows the connector to be passed through the opening during assembly 3J of the mirror assembly. In this manner, both ends of the wiring harness can be terminated in electrical connectors prior to assembly to the mirror assembly and the connector which joins with the actuator case can be passed through the opening in order to interconnect the actuator with the vehicle 4Q electrical system. This is exceptionally efficient in assembly of the mirror assembly. By allowing both ends of the wiring harness to be terminated in connectors ahead of time, the wiring harness is adapted to be manufactured using automated techniques. 45
These and other objects, advantages, and features of this invention will become apparent upon review of the following specification in conjunction with the drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is a rear elevation looking forward with respect to the vehicle, of an exterior mirror assembly according to the invention, with a portion of the reflective element removed to reveal internal features thereof;
FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective view of an actuator and wiring harness according to the invention;
FIG. 3 is a bottom plan view of an actuator illustrating features of the case which are engageable with a wiring harness according to the invention;
FIG. 4 is a top plan view of an actuator with a portion of g0 the case removed to reveal internal features thereof;
FIG. 5 is a side elevation taken along the lines V—V in FIG. 4;
FIG. 6 is the same view as FIG. 3 with a wiring harness and connector attached to the actuator case; 65
FIG. 7 is a sectional view taken along the lines VII—VII in FIG. 6;
FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a wiring harness according to the invention;
FIG. 9 is an end elevation taken along the lines IX—IX in FIG. 8;
FIG. 10 is sectional view taken along the lines X—X in FIG. 8;
FIG. 11 is an end elevation taken along the lines XI-XI in FIG. 8;
FIG. 12 is the same view as FIG. 11 illustrating the portions of the connector in their unassembled position for receiving electrical terminals therein; and
FIG. 13 is a view taken along the lines XIII—XIII in FIG. 12.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED
Referring now specifically to the drawings, and the illustrative embodiments depicted therein, a vehicular exterior mirror assembly 20 includes an actuator 22, which is mounted by a bracket 24 through a pivot post 26 to a portion 28 of a vehicle (FIG. 1). A mirror reflective element 30 is supported by actuator 22 in a manner that provides adjustability to the plane of the mirror element about two axes which are generally aligned with earth's vertical and horizontal axes (not shown). Mirror element 30 may be an electro-optic mirror element capable of a partial reflectance level such as an electrochromic mirror element or may be a non-electro-optic mirror element, such as a chrome mirror or the like. Pivot post 26 provides a breakaway feature of mirror assembly 20 such that engagement with a fixed or moveable object will tend to result in folding of the mirror forwardly and rearwardly rather than destruction of the mirror. However, pivot post 26 could also provide a foldaway feature to mirror assembly 20 such that the mirror assembly can be folded close to the vehicle body by a motor (not shown) in response to actuation by an actuator as is known in the art. A housing 32 generally surrounds actuator 22 and bracket 24 and is also attached to pivot post 26 or to bracket 24. Pivot post 26 is hollow including a throughopening 27 through its pivot axis.
Actuator 22 includes a case 34 made up of complimentary case portions 36a and 36fc (FIG. 2). A mirror mounting flange 40 is pivotally positionable with respect to case 34 in a manner which is described in copending application Ser. No. 09/047,846 filed Mar. 25,1998, by Robert E. Schnell for a PIVOT SUPPORT FOR ADJUSTABLE REARVIEW MIRROR, the disclosure of which is hereby incorporated herein by reference. Suffice it to say, mounting flange 40 includes an outer conical surface (not shown) on a portion 42 which is in slidable contact with an edge 46 defined by a generally cylindrical wall 48 of case portion 36fc. Mirror mounting flange 40 is biased into moveable engagement with case 34 by a fastener 50 and spring biasing member 52 which biases a retention cup 54 in the direction of case 34 by engagement with a post 56 extending from case portion 36fc.
Mirror mounting flange 40 is rotated independently about two generally orthogonal axes by a pair of screw jacks 58. Each screw jack has a ball 60 which is received within a socket (not shown) of mirror mounting flange 40 and a threaded shaft 62 which threadably engages an internal thread 80 of a rotatable nut member 64. An opening 66 through which screw jack 58 extends is sealed by a gasket member 68 having a seal 70 overlying opening 66. Each seal 70, in turn, has an opening 72 through which ball 60 can protrude. Each nut member 64 includes an external ring 74