BOOK 1-12-22

INSIDE THE MIND OF AN INVENTOR

It is my pleasure to introduce my first book. It is about my favorite subject outside of my wife and family, inventing.

Here is a link to the pdf.

INSIDE THE MIND OF AN INVENTOR

By Kurt Shafer

Temecula California

January 9, 2022

TABLE OF CONTENTS

About——————————————————————–4

Foreword     ……………………………………………………………………..6

Introduction……………………………………………………………………..8

Inventions ………………………………………………………………………..10

  1. 1967 THE FLEXIBLE SURFBOARD FIN
  2. 1974 INVISIBLE WINDOW SCREEN
  3. 1983 PARKING RAMP OVER CAR FOR BUGGY
  4. 1995 WEBCAM SOFTWARE
  5. 1999 WEBCAM AND SOLAR SYSTEM
  6. 2004 WEBCAM 50 FOOT MAST ON A TRAILER

NOTE S MEANS THE PRODUCT IS FOR SALE SEE APPENDIX

Patent application example ………………………………………….42

Design thought process example in detail ….…………………51 Thomas Edison’s Creative Thinking ……….………………………57

New Inventions web site……………………………………………….69

Idea Buyer Experience…………………………………………………..72

Index…………………………………………………………..………………..78

Appendix ……………………………………………………………………..79

ABOUT KURT SHAFER

Born in Newhall California in 1944, Kurt was brought up in the Inglewood area of Los Angeles County. He was a tinkerer at the very young age of 8 years old when he found two screws holding a hinge on his parent’s kitchen oven door. He found a screwdriver and removed them. To his horror the hinge disappeared with a crash into the oven wall due to the strong spring used to hold up the door. It was a lesson he never forgot. At about 17 he was employed by Benchmaster Mfg. Co. in Gardena to help make punch presses and steel sheet metal coil cradles. That gave him the idea to make a tiny motorized scooter out of machine tool parts.

In 1967 while surfing in Torrance Beach, he dreamed up a flexible surfboard fin to help accelerate the board on a wave. Later he bought a dune buggy and made a ramp and shelf in his 2 car garage to park it over his sedan.

In 1995 the internet became a reality and he achieved a dream of getting surf pictures in his home. He invented SnapNSend, the first webcam software.

He married Darlene in 1974 and she brought him Ryan and Kimberley in 1976 and 1979 and they brought him 4 grandchildren. He now resides in Temecula California and enjoys the vineyards and casinos with Darlene.

FOREWARD

In this book I have worked to give you a look at almost all the actions an inventor takes to

  1. Determine all the parts needed to make your patent work. In this book I have two great examples. One is a weeding rake that has only TWO parts – a weeding fork and a rake. The other is an automatically closing louvered turbine with 40 blades, a top, a bottom, a base holding a shaft for rotation, a fitting under the top with two ball bearings and many more small parts. You will find a few pages that describe how I decided what the small parts should be, how they should be made and how they should work.
  2. Create a working model of the invention (this implies that your invention is a physical thing, like a tool, but it could be a digital thing, like a program.
  3. Investigate the need for a patent. Not all inventions must be patented. If yours can be marketed quickly and get a lot of sales fast you might want to simply sell it. If it is an improvement on another product that is patented it might be valuable to protect your improvement with a patent.  In this book I have some examples. One is my garage door window kit where I found there are few patents and few sources. So I am just selling them without a patent. The other is my high performance rooftop whole house fan with a lot of competition and many patents. For this I have a patent pending.
  4. Investigate and define the market and opportunity. Again I have very good examples. One, the whole house fan, has many sources and many big box stores so it is easier to estimate the market. The weeding rake, on the other hand, has no other source so there is no market data today. What is known is that there are many sources for weeding tools and for rakes.
  5. Consider the value of licensing your invention to another company. My weeding rake is a good example. Since there are many weeders and many rakes it would seem that one of those suppliers would like to license my invention. This might be a reason to get a patent OR at least, apply for one.
  6. Get your invention on the market to sell it. I have just the solution for you with my NewInventions.US web site.


INTRODUCTION

This book is intended to give you an insight into the mind of an inventor so that you can start inventing new products yourself. If you have ever looked at a product and said to yourself “I can make that better” then you are an inventor.

In fact, there is a specific class of patents used by the United States Patent Office called “Improvement Inventions”. These are issued more often than “original use” patents…….

Improvement patents can add something to an existing product, incorporate new technology into an old product, or find a new use for an existing product. I little known fact is that Thomas Edison was not the inventor of the light bulb nor was he an inventor of any new products. He was a prolific improvement inventor.

For an example of the best “original use” inventions, this web site is one of the best compilations –

https://interestingengineering.com/35-inventions-that-changed-the-world

For an example of “improvement inventions” we need to look into all three subcategories –

  1. Incorporating new technology into an old product such as my Invisco Tornado rooftop ventilator – I added a motor and blade to the Edmonds ECOPower ventilator.
  2. Finding a new use for an old product such as the use of Bag Balm — an ointment normally used to soothe irritated cow udders — to treat human baldness. This was granted a patent in 2001.
  3. Or adding something new to an existing product. The Gillette Mach3 razor, for example, had three blades where previous razors had two.

In their book, “Innovation: The Five Disciplines for Creating What Customers Want”, authors Curtis R. Carlson and William W. Wilmot write that “smaller innovations can be extremely important, especially as one builds upon another.”

In this book I am giving you a bird’s eye view of the circumstances I experienced during the time I thought about products and then thought about new versions or modifications I could make to improve the existing design.

Then, in more that one case, I describe to you how I came to dream up entirely new products the world has never seen before. You will also learn how I invented a brand new business – selling products to Australia using a .com.au web site. That endeavor led me to my second improvement invention as you will read. 

INVENTIONS

1967 THE FLEXIBLE SURFBOARD FIN

I started surfing in 1960 at Torrance Beach in Southern California. It was there that I found a lot of time to think about surfboard design. Some days the waves came in sets that could be 10 minutes or more apart. So I had nothing to do while waiting except think. In those days I did some sailing. That experience showed me that when one changes the angle of the sail hanging from the mast the boat goes faster or slower. I began to imagine how that change of force might affect the speed of a surfboard going down a wave.

One must first imagine the forces on a surfboard fin. At the top where it is attached to the board the force is a push to the right or left as the board moves down the wave. The entire purpose of the fin is to prevent the tail of the board from slipping sideways. Then the tip of the board is free to slip and the stance of the surfer adjusts that slip to cause the board to move in the desired direction.

As I pondered the forces I imagined the fin being flexible and able to change angle as forces change. I imagined that the amount of force that could be applied to push the board forward would become greater if the fin angle increased, causing more of the side force to become a force pushing in the direction the board is moving.

The result of this was the idea that the fin should look like a door with the hinge at the front of the fin surface. And the hinge should be a stiff spring steel to withstand small forces to stay straight like the fins are on all boards. But when the board started moving onto a steep wave the force on the side of the fin increases and at that time the fin’s angle could change, converting some of the side force into forward force, accelerating the board on the face of the wave.

I decided to fabricate a fin that could bend and did so in my shop at home. I thought about mounting it on my board but I did not have the right material to make that happen. While I was working on all this I had occasion to need a repair on my board so I took it to the Jacobs Surf Board shop in Hermosa Beach. I met with Hap Jacobs and described all this to him. To my surprise he was not impressed.

I then thought about all the actions I would need to take to make this invention popular. First, I had to make some fins for me and for others to test. Then I would need to find a popular surfer to test the idea and endorse the product. Then I would need to find a way to make many. All of this was too much for me to tackle then. So I still have my prototype in a box.

1974 INVISIBLE WINDOW SCREEN

Darlene and I moved into a small home in Hawthorne, California, built in the old days on a raised floor with a crawl space below. It had the old wooden sash windows – the kind that slide up and down. On the outside they all had screens to keep bugs out. I was annoyed by the screens that made the view dim. I also thought that it was useless to cover the whole window when the only opening needing a cover was the bottom where the air comes in if you open them.

This caused me to imagine a screen that was hidden at the bottom outside and came out only when the window was opened. (We never opened the tops even thought they could be lowered if we wanted to). So I began thinking about how one could hide a screen and have it come out automatically. I thought about a roll in a box. Suddenly I realized that the old pull down window shades were exactly what would work – only upside down – and pulled up by the bottom of the sash window frame.

I went to work to convert a window shade to a screen. That was easy – I cut a screen to the size of a shade, took the shade off a roller and taped the screen to the roller. But then it occurred to me that while the shade has a spring inside to help it roll back up, it also has catches to prevent it from rolling up out of control. So I took the roller apart and disabled the catch. That meant I needed a way to stop the roller from unwinding the spring.

The solution to that came from the design of the box to hold the rolled screen. I had been working with aluminum tubes and they come in square sizes. I cut a slot in the corner of a 1-1/2 inch tube so the screen could unroll out through the slot. I then made ends that hold the spring loaded roller inside. I put a length of metal plate on the free end of the screen to allow it to be attached to the bottom of the sash window frame. When finished the screen could not retract into the box.

I  was successful in making several of these for our home in Hawthorne and then made some for my mother’s home in Palos Verdes. Hers were mounted vertically for her sliding windows. But there was a design challenge that I decided to ignore – the gap between the screen edge and the edge of the window when opened. I know I could fashion some track for the edge to slide it but I decided to not pursue that detail so I never made it into a salable product.

Along the way I decided to go to the Patent Office in downtown Los Angeles to do a patent search (there was no internet in 1974). I discovered that the first patent for “Invisible Window Screen” was granted in the late 1800s!

1983 PARKING RAMP OVER CAR FOR DUNE BUGGY

Darlene and I moved to a planned community in Manhattan Beach with nice attached 2 story townhomes. But the rules included one that did not allow a 3rd vehicle to be parked anywhere. We had a classic Meyers Manx dune buggy and then we had two cars. There was no room in our garage for a 3rd vehicle.

One day I was in the garage pondering a solution when I looked at the space above my sedan. I realized that there was enough room to build a shelf over the front of the car that would be strong enough to support the back end of the dune buggy. I could drive my car in and out with no problem. But how to get the buggy up? I could see that if the shelf were about 3-1/2 feet up then I could make ramps going down and out the garage door. Then I could lift the ramps with a winch up to clear space for the car. I wanted the ramps to be as long as possible so they were the lowest slope as possible. I built two ramps that were long but just short enough to be lifted over the garage door so the door could be opened. (it was a tiltup door, not roll up). Then, to maximize its length and reduce the slope I added another 5 feet to the length using strong hinges. I put vertical board under the hinge end to hold the whole ramp straight. Here is a picture of the ramp in the air. What is not obvious is that the ceiling joists are higher than the average garage. Note the ramps are 2×6 lumber 2 wide with cross supports under them and 2×4 lumber on edge on each side to strengthen them. The result is a U shape that is very sturdy. You can see a white rope at the upper left that is one of the 2 connected to a 4×4 running across both ramps below them to enable them to be winched up high. You can see that the garage door is just clearing the bottom of the ramps. The winch is a 12 volt boat winch that is very affordable. It is mounted up to the right and pulls the rope through 2 pulleys just above the rope. The weight of the buggy was mostly in the back where the engine is – about 450 pounds per tire. The shelf holding the buggy is on 4 4×4 posts attached to both the concrete floor and the rafters. Then 4x4s run across front and back. You can see them held with ½ ich bolts. Then more 2x6s are under each tire. The entire assembly was strong enough to enable one to drive the buggy up the ramp backwards but I put a 2nd winch at the back to pull it up. The cute little girl is Kimberley who is, in 2021, grown with 2 cuties herself.

1995 WEBCAM SOFTWARE

The internet brought a new perspective to our lives. And it offered a way to get pictures from far away into our rooms. It gave me the medium I needed to achieve a long time goal – to see the surf at the beach without driving to it. I had called a company that offered security cameras to ask the cost of putting a camera at the beach and sending the image by wireless antennas to my home 2 miles from the beach. They quoted $10,000. I passed on that.

But the internet was free! So I looked at the webcams of the day – Netscape’s Fishcam – was one. USC had a Tommy Trojan Statuecam. I called USC and learned their IT department had created the software for their camera. I went to SC and met Carl Sutter, one of the IT experts. Carl and I discussed the process needed to create a commercial webcam software program.

Now, technically I did not invent webcam software. What I did was IMPROVE the software of the day to make it affordable and commercially available. However, I did invent the addition of pan tilt and zoom to the software.

I those days in order to get a picture on a web site one had to use 3 different programs in this sequence:

  1. Open a program to tell a camera to snap a picture.
  2. Open another program to tell the computer to dial the internet on your phone line.
  3. Open another program to tell the computer to send the picture via File Transfer Protocol (FTP) to your internet site.

Carl estimated he could create such a program for $3000. I agreed to pay him for that.

During the time he was writing the program I called Sean Collins in Huntington Beach, the brilliant oceanographer who opened Surfline.com. Sean’s office was in the building with the clock tower overlooking HB pier and the surf. I told him about my webcam software and he was excited. He said “I was going to have to email pictures to my ISP in Boston” (ISP is internet service provider). I met with him and he bought the first program I ever sold.

Sean asked if I could add a feature – the ability to control a pan, tilt and zoom system to control the camera better. Pelco makes the entire camera system and has a detailed interface description that Carl followed. The Pelco system allowed us to program the camera to go to any angle and then stop and set any zoom distance before taking pictures. Sean was impressed and that started a long working relationship. Here is a reprint of a page at Surfline.com that commemorated that historic event.

I coined the term SnapNSend and filed a trademark application for that term. I was sent letters from the most famous camera companies at the time warning me they would take me to court to fight my right to the trademark. I ignored them all and got the TM in 2016.

Between 2016 and 2019 I sold several copies of SnapNSend all over the world.

1999 WEBCAM AND SOLAR SYSTEM FOR REMOTE POLE MOUNT

The United States Postal Service IT manager was Gil Lugo. He was in charge of monitoring all their construction sites. He contacted me to ask if I could supply him with computer systems and cameras and pan, tilt and zoom systems (PTZ) for his sites. He explained he felt it would be valuable for managers to be able to see real time progress as it happened.

The first project was for a site in Philadelphia and the challenge was to provide solar power to the camera system because there was no electricity wired to the pole located in the position needed for best views. The contract required that I design a rack mounted solar panel assembly and an enclosure large enough to contain 3 batteries the size of car batteries, a solar charge controller to convert the solar panel output to battery charge voltage and an inverter to take the 12 volt battery power and convert it to 110 volts AC for the camera, the wireless transmitter and receiver and the PTZ system.

2004 WEBCAM 50 FOOT MAST ON A TRAILER

Mr. Lugo gave me another challenge in 2004. The USPS was building a new site in Santa Monica CA and it was very small. He only had a 10 ft by 10 ft pad available and he wanted a temporary pole mounted there that could be removed after construction was completed. We decided that a trailer would be the best method to transport a mast in and out.

As an inventor I always paid close attention to materials and to assemblies that I could see the materials used for various purposes. Steel trailers is an example of a commodity that has been in our lives forever. I knew that there were a variety ways to use steel and my preference is always to use angle irons or U shaped metal.

I then thought about how I could make this trailer sit solidly once driven to the location. I decided to use telescoping legs at all 4 corners. I found tubing that is square and found two sizes that fit closely one inside the other. I drilled holes so that each could be pinned with ½ inch diameter bolts at just the right height.

The mast was a challenge. But first, I designed a fork to pull the trailer that was connected to the trailer via removable bolts. The fork was 4 feet long so I had 14 feet of length for the mast to lie down for transport. The plan was to have the mast top at least 50 feet up. So the mast was in 4 sections each 14 feet long so that once extended the sections would be 12 feet each. Added to the trailer height of 24 inches the top is exactly 50 feet.

2008 WHOLE HOUSE FAN FROM VERY INEXPENSIVE BLOWER

I cannot recall what caused me to make this discovery but I found out that I could get used HVAC system blowers at a very low cost. I also discovered that the average blower puts out a very good air flow – usually 1,500 cubic feet of air per minute (CFM). I learned that most HVAC systems are thrown in the trash because of failures in other parts leaving the good blower intact. I called many HVAC contractors and learned the name of a man who spent all his time recycling HVAC systems. I contacted him and he agreed to sell me used blowers for $10 each. (Recycling centers paid him just $5 or less per blower).

I then discovered a detail when testing these blowers – they are called squirrel cage blowers because the air moving part looks like a squirrel cage rotating running tube. Here is a picture of one.

You can see the round blower that is the “squirrel cage”. It sucks air in through both sides and blows it out the square opening. When I first turned one on it moved very little air. I found out that blowers like this are designed to be loaded with a lot of back pressure – remember that they push air through long ducts that run in walls and ceilings and attics to distribute air throughout a house. So I had to install a plate over the output to give the fan back pressure. When I did so the output flow increased dramatically. In fact, the opening is about 14 inches by 14 inches and I had to install plates that covered over ½ of that opening. I used the plate as a hinge point for a flap that acted as a damper to prevent air from moving back through the blower when it was off.

Here is the competition I was working against – QuietCool’s 1500 CFM model –

I was able to make my 1500 CFM fan for a cost under $100 and sell it for $500. In October of 2008 I sold 6 units on EBay.

That was the start of my whole house fan business.

2010 IMPROVED WHOLE HOUSE FAN DESIGN USING HIGH PERFORMANCE BLADES AND AN EC MOTOR

I realized that I needed to build a larger range of models to add to the 1500 CFM model. I investigated motors and found that the most modern motors were Electronically Commutated Brushless DC motors (ECM). Many suppliers of whole house fans offered two ranges of models, one based on PCM motors and the other on ECMs. PCMs are less expensive than EC motors so the prices were more attractive, but in use they take more electric power. EC motors have the very attractive feature of being able to run at low speeds and at the same time low input power.

I realized that I could offer the first whole house fan on the market with infinitely variable speeds from nearly off up to full speed. As an example, QuietCool has always offered 2 speeds and has never offered infinitely variable speeds. It was not until about 2017 that any company offered many speeds and Airscape in Oregon is the one to come out with a 10 speed fan.

My idea paid off for me in 2014 when I was in competition with QuietCool for a fan for a homeowner in Southern California. She knew I had the best speed control and she liked that. She asked the QC salesman “do you have variable speeds?” To which he replied “yes, maam, we have 2 speeds”. She bought mine.

2012 WHOLE HOUSE FAN SPEED CONTROL

I began to imagine a way to control the speed of my fans based on the temperature of the room. I imagined it could be run at full speed when the room is 80 degrees or more and then gradually reduce speed as it approached 70 degrees. I met with a good friend, Kurt Rasmussen, in Torrance California to talk about how to make an electronic circuit to do this work. He came up with a brilliant circuit that worked perfectly.

The challenge was this – the motor runs at full speed at an input voltage of 10 volts DC. It slows down linearly with lower voltage until at 0 VDC it is off. So Kurt’s circuit was designed to put out 10 volts when the room temperature is 80 degrees or higher and then as the room fell under 80 the output voltage would follow this rule- at 74 degrees the voltage would be 2 volts to run the motor slowly and take minimum power. At 78 degrees the voltage is half way from 2 to 10 or 6 volts.

2012 AUSTRALIA WHOLE HOUSE FAN WEB SITE

I decided to look into the market for whole house fans down under in case it could make my business operate all year. The market in America tended to start up in spring and die down in fall. Australia is the reverse. That market starts up in our fall and dies down in our spring. So I opened up http://Invisco.com.au in 2012. I offered my unique variable speed fan. In those days the largest competition was from Breezepower. They were importing the big ceiling mounted fans from Triangle Engineering in Arkansas. I was offering a much quieter whole house fan that mounts in the attic, not the ceiling.

2015 DISTRIBUTORSHIP FOR AUSTRALIA

It took a few years but in 2015 I landed my first order. Then I had to find parts there to avoid high shipping costs. I started by looking for duct. That search led me to CSR Edmonds in North Ryde, just outside Sydney. I gave them a request for quote for various sizes of ducting and that query caught the attention of their Export Sales Manager, Allan Ramsay. Allan called to ask what I was doing. I explained that I was a ventilation expert in America who just sold a system to an Australian homeowner.

Allan was interested and we talked for some time and he told me he needed help in America to distribute their rooftop ventilation products here. He flew to California to attend a trade show with me and to get to know  me better. The result was that he gave me a contract to be their distributor here. I opened up the web site http://EdmondsUSA.com and started calling sales representatives to help sell the fans to the US market.

In looking at his market I saw that the major suppliers here are Greenheck, LorenCook, and others. I called the reps for each company and within a few months had signed on reps in 27 states. I then created education seminars that I held with each rep company to train their sales people about how the Edmonds ventilators work. Edmonds was the first in history to invent a hybrid ventilator. Their engineers took the same concept as we have here – “whirlybird” rain top – and made it better. They made the blades straight and vertical rotating under a hat. They called that a Hurricane. Then they went a step further and inserted a motor under the hat to rotate the turbine blades. That caused the blades to pull more air up and out of buildings.

But the Edmonds engineers made a critical design decision – they elected to maximize the free gravity air flow at the expense of powered air flow. They did not want to put a motor and propeller in the way of the free air flow. The result is that their design cannot pull air when the static pressure is above 0.11 inches of water. (static pressure is a measure of the resistance to air flow – an example is trying to suck air from an entirely closed building – if there is no way for external air to enter the building the fan cannot move any air.)

2016 FIRST HYBRID ROOFTOP VENT

This offered me the opportunity to improve the design by adding a motor and blade inside the throat and eliminating the motor that rotates the top. I did so and branded it the Tornado. The first design I landed is on the roof of a new gymnasium designed for the Los Angeles suburb of Studio City. There are 8 rooftops used.

I have been amazed that it is taking so long for the Studio City job to start. I met with James Shwe of Maroko and Shwe in 2015 and he was so impressed with the hybrid concept that he immediately embraced it and designed it in to his work for Studio City. But it was not until 2020 that the job came out for bid by Los Angeles. And that was the same time that covid hit. The job got two contactors to bid on it but Los Angeles buyers wanted 3. They shelved the project to wait until covid subsided. Hard to imagine that here in December of 2021 nothing has progressed.

My experience with the Edmonds hybrid caused me to decide to improve on it by adding a motor and a propeller blade to make its performance much better. The result is my Tornado that can pull air in static pressures far above the 0.11 that Edmonds falls apart.

I informed James Shwe, the engineer on Studio City, that I had improved the fan and he added Invisco to his drawings. It took until 2020 for the city of Los Angeles to finally get to asking for bids for construction. But covid hit and delayed the entire process. Even today, 12-22-21, they have not rebid.

But the best news is that the quote was for 8 units at an average of $3000 each or $24,000 and the profit is almost exactly 50% or $12,000.

2019 SPLIT NUT FOR DRAIN PLUMBING

If you have ever worked under a sink on the drain and plumbing and water pipes you have experienced the large nut used to tighten the nearly 2 inch diameter main drain pipe. It is a thin nut, just 1-8 to 3/16 inch thick, and it threads up to just under the sink drain hole to make the drain water tight.

One day I was working on one that had water pipes going up inside. The result was that I could not take the nut off without taking the trouble to shut of the water – both cold and hot – and disconnecting the water pipes from the drain pipe assembly. It was at that moment that a new product came to mind – a nut in two pieces that was held together by screws on each side through small flanges. That would solve the problem of having to dismantle water pipes to remove and replace the nut.

2019 SOLAR POWERED MOTOR HOME

If you have thought about owning a motor home that never needs gasoline, you will want to see this. You can have a powerful 300 HP electric motor and 15,000 watts of solar power panels and a compact battery bank all mounted on and in a 40 foot motor home. You can have an accelerator pedal that will energize the motor and give you more torque at low speeds than any gas engine. Below are the key components of this design.

SOLAR PANEL ARRAY

This design uses banks of solar panels that are on hinged motorizd arms so that when opened they offer a peak

power of 15,000 watts to recharge the RV batteries.

This end view shows the solar panel banks folded over the RV roof for transportation.


Most motor homes have gas engines that are about 300 horsepower. Below is a very good electric motor that is also 300 HP. This is not much different in size from a gas engine. It can be mounted in the RV engine compartment and, when fitted with a custom connector, can drive the same drive train as the gas engine. The cost of a motor like this is about $5000 used. New ones are more than twice that price but AC motors have very few moving parts so they are VERY reliable.

2019 WEEDING RAKE

I was outside trying to cope with the weeds growing in our back yard. I had the usual weeding fork with a short handle so I was down on my knees. Then I had to stand up to get my grass rake to rake the cut weeds. I suddenly noticed that it would be easy to attach the weeder to the rake so I could have a long handle on the weeder and have both tools ready at all times. Here is my first prototype. It looks crude and is crude but the idea worked perfectly. I have since decided that the rake needs to be 2 sided and on one half and the weeding fork on the other half so that I can rake next to a wall or fence in either direction.

2019 ROCK RAKE

Darlene and I  moved into a home with landscaping that is mostly small rocks like those in the picture of the weeding rake above. I had to move a lot of them to expand a patio in back. I could use a shovel and a wheel barrow but that was a lot of work and a pain in the back. I did not need to lift them but simply move them from one place to another. I just happened to have a sturdy hand truck and I looked at the bottom plate that lifts boxes. I turned it over so the wheels were up in the air and the plate was down on the rocks.

I discovered that it was perfect for scraping the small rocks up and dragging them to another spot. I then thought to bend some sheet metal for curved ends to catch more rocks. Here is the result – this will scoop far more rocks than any shovel could ever lift. The toolbox on the top was attached so as to hold weights to cause the blade to dig in deeper.

2019 SHED FOR TIGHT SPACES

I needed a shed in my yard so I did what most people do – I bought a shed that is 8 feet deep and 10 feet wide from Lowes. It was made in – you guessed it – China. It is super thin sheet steel and has what seemed like 1000 screws and nuts to hold braces on each wall and on the ceiling and to hold the edges of the thin walls and ceiling together. I had to have a helper inside while I put the screws though the little holes for the helper to attach the nut and lockwasher. It was a nightmare.

I then thought of a much better way to make shed walls out of simple lumber from the store. I decided to make the walls in such a way as to enable them to be installed entirely from inside.

The result is a shed that can be built in between two walls or a wall and a fence or a home and a wall. It is built in sections I call modules. Each one is based on a 4 foot wide by 8 foot high standard sheet of exterior wall board.

Below is a perfect example of a tight space. This is a 4 ft wide space and the homeowner wants a 12 ft shed with doors on each end.

2019 SHED WITH POPUP ROOF

In 2019 I was called by a homeowner in a community with 5 foot block walls and a homeowner’s association that would not allow a shed there higher than the walls. He wanted a shed that would let him stand up and he is over 6 feet tall. So he needed a shed with  a roof that would pop up when he opens the door and lower when he leaves.

I invented just that. I knew that there are electric push rods one can buy that can push a lot of weight. Some are used in cars for trunk lids. So I bought 4 and put them on each corner of the roof. I attached wires to a switch at the door and to a 12 volt battery so when the door is open the 12 volts goes to the push rods. Here is a picture of the assembly.

2019 SHARK PROTECTION DRONE

Drones are perfect for watching for sharks and other predators from the air. A personal drone can be programmed to fly around the owner who is out in the ocean swimming or surfing or body boarding to look for large objects in the water. If one is in view the drone can alert the owner.

An extension of this design is to broadcast a video to the owner’s smart watch or cell phone to show the owner where the fish is relative to the owner’s location.

2020 NEW CHRISTMAS DECORATION

I got the idea to make a rooftop decoration that would look just like the famous star of Christmas. Here is a very good picture that shows the star as I recall it from my youth.

I decided to make it very tall and I wanted it to be higher than the peak of our roof. I decided to use copper tubing that is easy to get at the store and then to use the LED light strips to simulate the rays of light emanating from the center. You can see from the picture that the center vertical light is about 2 times the length of the crossing light and the 4 rays that are tilted at 45 degrees are about ½ the length of the cross ray.

I decided to make the center 8 feet long, the cross 4 feet and the rays each 1 foot long (using 2 2 foot pipes). I drilled a ¼ inch hole in the center of the 4 foot and 2 foot pipes and one at 2 feet down from the end of the 8 foot pipe. I used a ¼-20 screw and nut to hold them together. Then I added a plastic ring about 20 inches in diameter to hold them all at 90 and 45 degrees to each other.

Here is a picture of the assembly in 2018 in daylight and at night. I now see that I made the top of the assembly a bit longer than I thought. But it looks terrific at night.

You can see the roof line in the left picture – that is the edge of the top of the 2nd story. I mounted the star post on  two galvanized steel pipes each 12 feet long so I could get this star above the 2 story peak. The challenge was to get that long pipe up. I used a pulley at the peak and a long rope to pull the assembly up and then I wired the pole to a ring attached to the eave at the peak.

2007 DUNE BUGGY BODY LIFT

I bought a Meyers Manx dune buggy in the 70s and over the years improved it with a new stronger clutch and a new cam and polished and ported heads. It had a single 2 barrel carburetor on an old manifold so I found a fine “Deano” manifold that made it look better – I don’t really know if it ran any better.

I always wanted to upgrade it to dual Webers – they were the rage. I finally got two of them but found that they would not fit under the rear fenders even with the short air filters on top. So I decided to lift the rear fenders by removing the body and putting in spacers from the front to the rear between the body and the frame.

It was easy to unbolt the body – it was held by about 10 bolts, 5 on each side. So I inserted wedges – 1 inch high at the front and 4 inches at the back to lift the back fenders. This worked well for a few years but then it came loose. I decided to pull the body off and do a full restoration.

This was a good idea because I discovered a lot of rusted metal in the floor pan that needed repair. Then I designed the perfect wedge shaped aluminum to run the full length of the gap from front to back. I paid a local welder to take aluminum channel that has ¼ inch thickness and is 4 inches wide and 2 inches high and cut it in half at an angle. The body and frame meet over a roughly 5 foot long length with the front 16 inches turned in about 6 inches. So we started with a 5 foot long channel and cut it so one end is ½ inches high (on the 4 inch side) and the other is 2 inches. The two pieces were then welded so one end is 4 inches high and the other 1 inch high.

Below is a picture of it between the body and the frame. You can see the right end is bent to follow the angle of the frame. ¼-20 tapped holes are ready for screws to hold the body. The bottom edge has identical tapped holes for screws going up  through the frame below.

2017 MFD HOME WHOLE HOUSE FAN

After selling whole house fans for years Darlene and I  moved into a manufactured home. Ours is like most – no attic and air conditioning and heating ducts are under the house in a crawl space. So I was faced with the question – how to install a whole house fan and where to install it. I happened to have invented a very good rooftop mounted whole house fan and that could have been the solution.

But as an inventor I always look for the best solution, not the fastest or easiest. In addition, I knew that my design would be quite expensive. So I focused on what the home has already that I might be able to use. I realized that the forced air system is mounted in a service room that is between the hallway and the side door. The air is pulled through a door in the hallway and blown through ducts under the house to each room. I noticed that the service room exterior door has a window.

It then occurred to me that if I opened the exterior window and closed off the air flow from the hallway then exterior air would be sucked into the service room and then blown into each room. VOILA – a method to pull cool outside air in using the existing HVAC blower! Below is a picture of my service room. You can see the door in front is the hall door with louvred opening at the bottom for air from the hall. The door at the rear is the exterior door with a window.The HVAC system is to the right where air is pulled into the duct system. I used a simple sheet of stiff paper to cut off air flow thru the door.

2016 MFD HOME WINDOW LIFT HANDLE

The home we bought has a door off the service room with a window that I imagine is fairly common to these homes. It is a modern aluminum framed sash window – one that has a fixed top section and a raisable bottom window with a screen outside. The window has two spring loaded locks – one on each bottom corner. This required that one used two hands to unlock and raise the window. That was uber annoying. So I decided to install a cable from one lock to the other so that I can pull both locks in with one hand and raise the window. Below you can see the result. It is not fancy but works perfectly. I drilled a small hole in each lock tab for the wire and then put a larger rubber tube on the wire to make it easier to pull.

2020 CARPORT POST ELIMINATOR

Almost all manufactured houses have roofs on each side with one edge connected to the main structure and the other edge supported by posts. The posts are attached firmly to the roof and to the ground below because they are designed to prevent the roof from falling but also must prevent the roof from lifting in a strong wind.

Most homes have post pairs spaced about 8 feet apart. Many homes have these roofs as long as 30 to 50 feet long. The roofs are very light so if the edge were strong then just two posts would hold it up – one at each end. So the challenge was to find a way to strengthen the edge.

One can see a perfect example of how to stiffen a span when you look at a suspension bridge. Here is one.  

The suspension cable exerts sufficient pressure up the center strut to hold any reasonable load. The under-deck cable holds the strut up due to its ability to withstand tension forces. The tension force is much larger than the weight on the deck because of the narrow angle at which the the cable meets the deck. As an example, if the cable were at a 45 degree angle (the strut length the same as the distance from the strut to the cable end point) then the tension is 1.404 times the weight of whatever is on the deck center.

Here is a graph that shows the force factor versus the angle.

As you can see if the rope is at a 45 degree angle the force is about 1.4 times the actual weight. At 60 degrees it is 2 times the weight. In the drawing of the deck above the angle is more like 70 degrees so the tension is 3 times the weight.

This roof support invention needs the angle to be much greater. The practical installation of a cable on the edge of a roof really requires that the cable be about as high as a 6 inch wide board. And the cable needs to be 20-30 feet long from the center strut to the end connection. That is 6 inches in up to 360 inches. That is 1.66 percent or, in degrees of angle that is close to 1 degree.

Now, if the roof weight at the center of the cable is 100 lbs then the tension in the cable is calculated by dividing 100 lbs by the sine of 1 degree which is .017 so the result is very close to 5000 lbs.

Going to the data on the web site https://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/wire-rope-strength-d_1518.html  , we find that the strength of “Bright wire, uncoated, fiber core (FC) wire rope, improved plow steel (IPS)” stranded cable (6 strand by 19 wire) when ¼ inch diameter is 5,480 pounds “minimum breaking strength” but only 1100 pounds “safe load “. 3/8 diameter has a min brkg strength of 12,200 lbs.

Now, looking at the safety of this design, we can see that this roof edge is not expected to have any human load on it and so it is not necessary to use the “safe load”criteria. In this case I would opt for the 3/8 diameter.

Now, we need to realize that these carport roofs are subjected to both top loads and bottom loads. The top loads are wind and rain and snow. The bottom loads are wind. Therefore we must plan to brace the edge for both up and down pressures. As a result we must design this brace with both a v shape to hold the edge up and an inverted v to hold it down.

Here is what I designed for my carport roof –

You can see that the design allows for an angle that can be greater than 1 degree thus reducing the cable tension. The center connection has no force on its connection to the roof when at rest. The end connections have high forces to the left and the right but not up or down. The method for tensioning is to use standard cable turnbuckles like this one-

EXAMPLE OF A PATENT APPLICATION

You will find that this formal application contains specific sections (This was written by Jeff Furr in Ohio in 2016).

The sections are

  1. Title
  2. Background – Field of the Invention
  3. Background – Description of Prior Art
  4. SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  5. Brief Description of the Drawings
  6. DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
  7. Claims
  8. Abstract of the Disclosure

Here is the formal application

Title of Invention

HYBRID ROOFTOP VENTILATOR

BACKGROUND

1.  Field of the Invention             

This invention relates generally to cooling and ventilation systems for building structures, and more particularly, relates to a hybrid gravity or hot air ventilator that can be installed on the top of any structure that needs ventilation through the roof. 

2. Description of Prior Art

Gravity ventilators have been traditionally made with a rain proof top that has sides that require the air to go down before it can go up. This restricts the air flow and reduces the amount of air that can be vented.   There has never been a hybrid with a motor and blade and vertical blade turbine top.  There have been motor and blade fans and there have been gravity ventilators.

It is thus the object of present invention to provide a rain proof turbine design which will overcome the disadvantages of the prior art systems.

There is still room for improvement in the art.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one aspect, the preferred embodiment of the present invention provides a hybrid gravity and hot air ventilation system that combines both rain proofing and high air flow performance. This system comprises of a turbine rain hat rotating on a central shaft that is mounted on a three or four legged base.   The system has a fan blade on a motor that is centered by mounting brackets. Inside the top turbine hat is an assembly that includes two sealed ball bearings spaced vertically to ensure rigidity and a needle thrust bearing at the top of the shaft to reduce friction as the top rotates on the bottom support and shaft. This allows it to rotate when air flows through it. The turbine blades are at an angle to the air flow for the purpose of causing the turbine to turn with the air flow or with wind so that rain cannot enter the interior.

Hybrid is taken from the auto world, where a car can run on battery for free (if the charging was solar) or fossil fuel at a cost.  In fans it means air flows from the force of gravity and wind for free or from electricity at a cost.

The current invention is more efficient, effective and functional than the current art.

Brief Description of the Drawings

Without restricting the full scope of this invention, the preferred form of this invention is illustrated in the following drawings:

Fig 1 is a schematic of a hybrid rooftop ventilation system.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

There are a number of significant design features and improvements incorporated within the invention. 

The current invention is directed to a hybrid rooftop mounted whole house fan system 100.   The house fan system 100 provides a gravity and hot air ventilation system that combines both rain proofing and high air flow performance.  Hybrid is taken from the auto world, where a car can run on battery for free (if the charging was solar) or fossil fuel at a cost.  In fans it means air flows from the force of gravity and wind for free or from electricity at a cost.

FIG. 1 is a schematic illustration of a rooftop mounted whole house fan system 100 of the preferred embodiment of the present invention.

As shown in FIG. 1, the system 100 generally comprises of a fan blade 106 on a motor 110 that is centered by mounting brackets 108. Below the fan is the damper 120 and below that is the frame 114 and cube core grille 112.

On top of the fan is the turbine rain hat 102 with a ball bearing assembly 116 attached in the center. Below that is the mounting assembly 118 that has a shaft 122 in the center that slips into the ball bearings in the top.

The turbine rain hat 102 rotates on the shaft 122 that is mounted on a three or four legged base.   Inside the top turbine hat 102 is the ball bearing assembly 118 that includes as least two sealed ball bearings spaced vertically to ensure rigidity and a needle thrust bearing at the top of the shaft to reduce friction as the top rotates on the bottom support and shaft. This allows it to rotate when air flows through it. The turbine blades 106 are at an angle to the air flow for the purpose of causing the system 100 to turn with the air flow or with wind so that rain cannot enter the interior.

One such application is as a whole house fan.

While the methods disclosed herein have been described and shown with reference to particular steps performed in a particular order, it is understood that these steps may be combined, sub-divided, or reordered to form an equivalent method without departing from the teachings of the embodiments. Accordingly, unless specifically indicated herein, the order and grouping of the steps is not a limitation of the embodiments. Furthermore, methods and mechanisms of the embodiments will sometimes be described in singular form for clarity. However, some embodiments may include multiple iterations of a method or multiple variations of a mechanism unless noted otherwise. For example, when a connection is disclosed in one embodiment, the scope of the embodiment is intended to also cover the use of multiple connections.

Certain features of the embodiments, which may have been, for clarity, described in the context of separate embodiments, may also be provided in various combinations in a single embodiment. Conversely, various features of the embodiments, which may have been, for brevity, described in the context of a single embodiment, may also be provided separately or in any suitable sub- combination. Embodiments described in conjunction with specific examples are presented by way of example, and not limitation. Moreover, it is evident that many alternatives, modifications, and variations will be apparent to those skilled in the art. It is to be understood that other embodiments may be utilized and structural changes may be made without departing from the scope of the embodiments.

Therefore, the foregoing is considered as illustrative only of the principles of the invention. Further, since numerous modifications and changes will readily occur to those skilled in the art, it is not desired to limit the invention to the exact construction and operation shown and described, and accordingly, all suitable modifications and equivalents may be resorted to, falling within the scope of the invention.

Claims

That which is claimed is:

1. A rooftop ventilation system comprising:

A fan with multiple blades and a motor and brackets to center the motor and a damper to prevent air from moving through when the motor is off with a frame and grille to cover the bottom of the damper.

2. A rooftop ventilation system according to claim 1 further comprising;

Having a top with a turbine assembly that rotates on ball bearings with a shaft.

3. A rooftop ventilation system according to claim 2 further comprising;

Where the shaft can be removed for shipping.

4. A rooftop ventilation system according to claim 1 further comprising;

Having a  turbine rain hat.

5. A rooftop ventilation system according to claim 1 further comprising;

Where the fan blades are angled.

6. A rooftop ventilation system according to claim 1 further comprising;

Where the motor is centered by mounting brackets.

7. A rooftop ventilation system according to claim 1 further comprising;

Having the damper below the fan.

8. A rooftop ventilation system according to claim 7 further comprising;

Having the frame and cube core grille be below the damper.

9. A rooftop ventilation system according to claim 1 further comprising;

Having a turbine rain hat with a ball bearing assembly attached in the center.

10. A rooftop ventilation system according to claim 9 further comprising;

Having the ball bearing assembly have a shaft in the center that slips into the ball bearings.

11. A rooftop ventilation system according to claim 10 further comprising;

Having the turbine rain hat rotate on the shaft.

12. A rooftop ventilation system according to claim 11 further comprising;

Having the shaft mounted on a base.

13. A rooftop ventilation system comprising:

A fan with multiple blades where the blades are angled and a motor and brackets to center the motor and a damper to prevent air from moving through when the motor is off with a frame and grille to cover the bottom of the damper, having a top with a turbine assembly that rotates on ball bearings with a shaft.

14. A rooftop ventilation system according to claim 13 further comprising;

Having the shaft be removable.

15. A rooftop ventilation system according to claim 13 further comprising;

Where the motor is centered by mounting brackets.

16. A rooftop ventilation system according to claim 13 further comprising;

Having the damper below the fan and having the frame and cube core grille be below the damper.

17. A rooftop ventilation system according to claim 13 further comprising;

Having a turbine rain hat with a ball bearing assembly with a shaft in the center that slips into the ball bearings.

18. A rooftop ventilation system according to claim 17 further comprising;

Having the turbine rain hat rotate on the shaft.

19. A rooftop ventilation system according to claim 18 further comprising;

Having the shaft mounted on a base.

20. A rooftop ventilation system according to claim 19 further comprising;

Having the base have a plurality of legs.

Abstract of the Disclosure

A hybrid rooftop mounted fan assembly made from a turbine rain hat, a motor and propeller and a damper and frame and grill that is specifically designed for installation on the top of roofs of all types of construction.  The system generally includes an assembly of a solid rainproof top and vertical blades at an angle to the radius to cause the turbine to rotate when air flows up and out and when wind hits it from the outside.  The system is generally comprised of a fan blade on a motor that is centered by mounting brackets. Below the fan is a damper and below that is the frame and cube core grille.

2021 ROOFTOP TURBINE CLOSURE DESIGN EXAMPLE

Engineers at CSR Edmonds in North Ryde, Australia, came up with a brilliant design for a high air flow rain hat for their product line. It is similar to the “whirlybird” round rain hat found all over the United States but it has purely vertical turbine blades around the perimeter of a rotating cylinder with a rain proof top. Here is a picture of their “Hurricane”.

The blades catch even the slight breezes and then cause the top to rotate. If there is any rain the blades deflect the rain from entering the top.

In 2021 I decided to imagine a way to close this top so air cannot flow in or out. Here are the thought processes that I used to come up with a totally new invention.

First, I knew that the blades could be rotated so that they could make a wall around the perimeter. Here is my first drawing of this possible implementation.

I started with this top view of one blade at a 45 degree angle. When you look at the picture on the last page you can see that the blades are not that angle but more like 20-30 degrees from where they would be as a wall. In any case, 45 degrees is a good starting point. I then added pivots on top and bottom and a lever for some control rod. The lever converts a rotation force to a linear force back and forth. Then I imagined a link to push the lever out to open the gaps and pull the lever in to close the gaps between the blades.  

Next I needed to imagine a way to move the lever in and out from some mechanism in the center of the rotating top. I started with a slot in a plate and a pin at the end of a link. This fixes the link at both ends – the link would have a hole at the blade end to fit over a pin at the top of the lever. It would have a pin at the other end to fit in the slot. The lever will need supports at each end but I left that detail for later.

Now I imagined I needed a way to move that pin in the link in and out. I also knew that there will be about 40 links and pins and slots – one for each blade. I imagined an angled metal plate that could move in and out to push each pin as it passes the plate. Then I thought there might need to be two plates, one on one side to push the pin out, one on the other side of the pin to pull the pin in. This  is what I called a “funnel”. Here is my first drawing.

I imagined it would have an opening of about ½ inch and I drew it with openings on each end but later realized it will only need to be opened on one end because the turbine will never rotate more than one direction.

I then imagined a motor and mechanism to hold the funnel and move it in and out. Here is my first drawing of that.

I knew that the motor and funnel would need to be mounted to the base of the assembly since the top is rotating around the base. So you can see the motor is positioned to move the funnel in and out to rotate the blades to closed or open position. You can see that I drew a first link design idea. Here is that detail.

You can see that I imagined that the “pins” that I mention above are now part of this link and are simply bent up or down to mate with the blade’s lever and the funnel. This minimizes the task of making a link with pins. It depends on a support method – which now causes me to imagine that the link will be supported by the blade lever and the plate at the center. This makes the entire assembly as simple as possible. Note that the drawing says “bend up” but now we know it is “bend down”.

Another detail that I imagined is that the funnel needs the top to be rotating in order for it to work. So I imagined I would need an air flow monitor or a rotation sensor to enable the motor control to work. Upon reflection now as I write this I think the funnel can be sized in such a way as to work independent of rotation movement. That is, it can be in either the in or out position at all times whether the top is moving or not. So I will shelve this thought for now.

Next, I realized that there is a gap at the bottom of the blade assembly. You can see it in the picture – here is a close up.

That gap allows the top to rotate. In order for this design to be complete this gap must be closed. You can see that there is a metal plate at the bottom to which the blades attach.  I imagined that if the entire assembly of blades were moved up or down then another plate could be attached below this plate so if the top were lowered the gap would be closed.

This resulted in the idea that the shaft on which the top rotates could be lifted or lowered.  Here is my first drawing of that idea.

You can see that I add a “fixed ring” to the outside of the throat just under the ring at the base of the blades. Lifting the shaft opens the gap, dropping it closes the gap.

6 Creative Thinking Habits of Thomas Edison

The legendary career of inventor Thomas Alva Edison illustrates how creativity can be cultivated by anyone, in any industry. His work methods reveal that the true keys to unlocking creativity are learned traits — namely perseverance and an open-minded approach to learning. A shrewd businessman, Edison used his creativity not only in developing new inventions but also in bringing them to market and winning out financially over competitors.

Edison was granted 1,093 patents for inventions that ranged from the lightbulb, typewriter, electric pen, phonograph, motion picture camera and alkaline storage battery — to the talking doll and a concrete house that could be built in one day from a cast-iron mold. When he died in 1931, he left 3500 notebooks which are preserved today in the temperature-controlled vaults of the West Orange Laboratory Archives at the Edison National Historic Site in New Jersey.

The notebooks read like a turbulent brainstorm and present a verbal and visual biography of Edison’s mind at work. Spanning most of his six-decade career, the notebooks are yielding fresh clues as to how Edison, who had virtually no formal education, could achieve such an astounding inventive record that is still unrivaled. The notebooks illustrate how Edison conceived his ideas from their earliest inceptions and show in great detail how he developed and implemented them. Following are some of Edison’s creative-thinking strategies, which you might bend to your will.

1. Quantity.

For starters, Edison believed to discover a good idea you had to generate many ideas. Out of quantity comes quality. He set idea quotas for all his workers. His own quota was one minor invention every 10 days and a major invention every six months. It took over 50,000 experiments to invent the alkaline storage cell battery and 9000 to perfect the lightbulb. Edison looked at creativity as simply good, honest, hard work. Genius, he once said, is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. For every brilliant idea he had there was a dud like the horse-drawn contraption that would collect snow and ice in the winter and compress it into blocks that families could use in the summer as a refrigerant, or the perpetual cigar which consisted of a hollow tube with a spring clip that moved tobacco forward as it burned. Although the cigar was a marketing failure, its companion product, the cigar lighter, was a marketing success.

Increasing your idea production requires conscious effort. A specific quota focuses your energy in a competitive way that guarantees fluency and flexibility of thought. By causing us to exert effort, it allows us to generate more imaginative alternatives than we otherwise would.

Initial ideas are usually poorer in quality than later ideas. Just as water must run from a faucet for a while to be crystal-clear, cool and free of particles, so thought must flow before it becomes creative. Early ideas are usually not true ideas. Exactly why this is so is not known, but one hypothesis is that familiar and safe responses lie closest to the surface of our consciousness and therefore are naturally thought of first. Creative thinking depends on continuing the flow of ideas long enough to purge the common, habitual ones and produce the unusual and imaginative.

A way to guarantee productivity of your creative thought is to give yourself an idea quota. For example, an idea quota of 40 ideas if you’re looking for ideas alone or a quota 120 ideas if a group is brainstorming for ideas. By forcing yourself to come up with 40 ideas, you put your internal critic on hold and write everything down, including the obvious and weak. The first third will be the same-old, same-old ideas you always get. The second third will be more interesting and the last third will show more insight, curiosity and complexity.

2. Challenge all assumptions.

Edison felt his lack of formal education was, in fact, “his blessing.” This enabled him to approach his work of invention with far fewer assumptions than his more educated competitors, which included many theoretical scientists, renowned Ph.D.s, and engineers. He approached any idea or experience with wild enthusiasm and would try anything out of the ordinary, including even making phonograph needles out of compressed rainforest nuts and clamping his teeth onto a phonograph horn to use as a hearing aid, feeling the sound vibrate through his jaw. This wild enthusiasm inspired him to consistently challenge assumptions.

He felt that in some ways too much education corrupted people by prompting them to make so many assumptions that they were unable to see many of nature’s great possibilities. When Edison created a “system” of practical lighting, he conceived of wiring his circuits in parallel and of using high-resistance filaments in his bulbs, two things that were not considered possible by scientific experts, in fact, were not considered at all because they were assumed to be totally incompatible until Edison put them together.

Before Edison hired a research assistant, he would invite the candidate over for a bowl of soup. If the person seasoned the soup before tasting it, Edison would not hire the candidate. He did not want people who had so many built-in assumptions into their everyday life, that they would even assume the soup is not properly seasoned. He wanted people who consistently challenged assumptions and tried different things.

An easy way to challenge assumptions is to simply reverse them and try to make the reversal work. The guidelines are:

  • List your assumptions about a subject.
  • Challenge your fundamental assumptions by reversing them. Write down the opposite of each assumption.
  • Ask yourself how to accomplish each reversal. List as many useful viewpoints as you can.

3. Nothing is wasted.

When an experiment failed, Edison would always ask what the failure revealed and would enthusiastically record what he had learned. His notebooks contain pages of material on what he learned from his abortive ideas, including his many experiments on will power (he conducted countless experiments with rubber tubes extended from his forehead trying to will the physical movement of a pendulum). Once when an assistant asked why he continued to persist trying to discover a long-lasting filament for the light bulb after failing thousands of times, Edison explained that he didn’t understand the question. In his mind he hadn’t failed once. Instead, he said he discovered thousands of things that didn’t work. Finally, he completed Patent 251,539 for the light bulb that ensured his fame and fortune.

He had an enormous talent for appropriating ideas that may have failed in one instance and using them for something else. For example, when it became clear in 1900 that an iron-ore mining venture in which Edison was financially committed was failing and on the brink of bankruptcy, he spent a weekend studying the company’s resources and came up with a detailed plan to redirect the company’s efforts toward the manufacture of Portland cement, which could capitalize on the same equipment, materials and distribution systems of the iron-ore company.

4. Record your ideas.

Edison relentlessly recorded and illustrated every problem worked on in his notebooks. Whenever he succeeded with a new idea, Edison would review his notebooks to rethink ideas and inventions he’s abandoned in the past in the light of what he’d recently learned. If he was mentally blocked working on a new idea, he would review his notebooks to see if there was some thought or insight that could trigger a new approach. For example, Edison’s unsuccessful work to develop an undersea telegraph cable ultimately led to a breakthrough on a telephone transmitter. He took the principle for the unsuccessful undersea telegraph cable — variable resistence — and incorporated it into the design of a telephone transmitter that adapted to the changing sound waves of the caller’s voice. This technique instantly became the industry standard.

Edison would often jot down his observations of the natural world, failed patents and research papers written by other inventors, and ideas others had come up with in other fields. He would also routinely comb a wide variety of diverse publications for novel ideas that sparked his interest and record them in his notebooks. He advised his assistants to make it a habit to keep on the lookout for novel and interesting ideas that others have used successfully on other problems in other fields. To Edison, your idea needs to be original only in its adaptation to the problem you are working on.

Edison’s lesson is to record your ideas and other novel ideas in a notebook — call it “The Bright Ideas Notebook.” When confronted with a problem, review your notebook and look for ways to cross-fertilize ideas, techniques and conceptual models by transferring them from one problem to the next.

5. Constantly improve your ideas and products and the ideas and products of others.

Contrary to popular belief, Edison did not invent the light bulb: his genius, rather, was to perfect the bulb as a consumer item. Edison also studied all his inventions and ideas as springboards for other inventions and ideas in their own right. To Edison, the telephone (sounds transmitted) suggested the phonograph (sounds recorded), which suggested motion pictures (images recorded). Simple, in retrospect, isn’t it? Genius usually is.

Einstein believed that every new idea is some addition or modification to something that already exists. You take a subject and manipulate or change it into something else. There are nine principal ways you can manipulate a subject. These ways were first formally suggested by Alex Osborn, the father of brainstorming, and later arranged by Bob Eberle into the mnemonic SCAMPER.

S = Substitute
C = Combine
A = Adapt
M = Magnify = Modify
P = Put to other uses
E = Eliminate
R = Rearrange = Reverse

You isolate the subject you want to think about and ask the checklist of SCAMPER questions to see what new ideas and thoughts emerge. Think about any subject from improving the ordinary paperclip to reorganizing your corporation and apply the “Scamper” checklist of questions. You’ll find that ideas start popping up almost involuntarily, as you ask:

  • Can you substitute something?
  • Can you combine your subject with something else?
  • Can you adapt something to your subject?
  • Can you magnify or add to it?
  • Can you modify or change it in some fashion?
  • Can you put it to some other use?
  • Can you eliminate something from it?
  • Can you rearrange it?
  • What happens when you reverse it?

Edison was tireless in his persistence to change a subject into something else through “trial and error” until he found the idea that worked. In Edison’s laboratory there is a staggering display of hundreds of phonograph horns of every shape, size and material. Some are round, square, angular, thin, short, squat while others are curved and as long as six feet tall. This collection of rejected ideas is a visual testament to Edison’s approach to creativity — which was, in essence, to try out every possible design he could possibly conceive of. Once asked to describe the key to creativity, he reportedly said to never quit working on your subject until you get what you’re after.

6. Be exploratory.

Whenever Edison was working on something and found something else “interesting,” he would drop everything else and explore it. In developing the electric light Edison and his assistants decided to use platinum for the filament, but it stayed lit only briefly and was scarce and expensive. One day Edison absentmindedly rolled some lampblack in his fingers while working with a platinum filament. He looked at the twisted piece of lampblack and got his “Eureka” moment — why not try to use carbon for the filament. His first carbon bulb burned for thirteen hours with the power of thirty candles; a few days later he got it up to one hundred hours by twisting and shaping the filament like a horseshoe.

The interesting aspect of carbon to Edison was the fact that he could twist it like rope. Edison was not the first person in his lab to notice that you could twist carbon, but he was the first to pursue it. Whenever Edison found something interesting, he would explore it intellectually before he applied his emotions and prejudices. The others working on the light bulb had emotionally decided that the filament should be platinum and were blind to the “interesting” aspects of carbon. They lacked the will to explore carbon, once they had made a decision that platinum was the answer.

Finally, if you want to become more creative, start acting like you are creative. Suppose that you wanted to be an artist: You would begin behaving like an artist by painting every day. You may not become another Vincent Van Gogh, but you’ll become more of an artist than someone who has never tried. Similarly, to increase your creativity start acting like Thomas Edison. Cultivate the following creative-thinking habits:

  • When looking for ideas, create lots of ideas.
  • Consistently challenge assumptions.
  • Record your ideas and the ideas of others in a notebook.
  • Learn from your failures and the failures of others.
  • Constantly look for ways to improve your ideas and products and the ideas and products of others.
  • Be exploratory.

You may not become the next Thomas Edison but you’ll become much more creative than someone who has never tried.

NEW INVENTIONS WEB SITE

After years of trying to land patents and paying a lot of money to IdeaBuyer.com to attract the attention of big box stores like Home Depot and Lowes, I realized that there is another way to get my inventions out to the public.

I decided to invent my own store so I started by looking into the domain name “newinventions.com” only to discover that it is already owned by one of those people who buy up popular domains so they can sell them later for some exorbitant price. In this case the domain is available for a price that is stated as minimum $2000.

So I bought the domain newinventions.us for a few dollars and have opened it up to sell my inventions. I will start with these –

  1. Whole House Fans
    1. Garage Door Window Kits
    1. Weeding Rake
    1. Rock Rake
    1. Carport Post Eliminator.

If you have an invention that you have built and can reproduce at a good cost and you would like to post it on my web site please send me the details to NewInventions@invisco.com and I will post it for you for no upfront cost. All I ask is that you let me keep 20% of the retail price you charge on each sale.

In addition to this free ad posting I will post a new product post on the web site FreeWebStore.com where I now sell other inventions.  All you need to do is include your retail price for me to post and your zip code for shipping estimates. Be sure to indicate the size and weight of the shipping container.

If your invention is a digital product that needs no shipping that is even easier. Also indicate any guarantee. A good example of a guarantee is mine on my garage door windows. I promise that they are unbreakable and if one is broken I replace it at no cost to the customer. I even pay postage.

MORE ABOUT NEWINVENTIONS.US AND THE STORE

FreeWebStore.com is an excellent place to post products for sale. EBay is also very good but they charge more in percentage than FWS.

Here is my post for my garage door window kit – https://invisco.fwscart.com/8_Garage_door_windows_UNBREAKABLE/p6459166_20997552.aspx

You will see that today, 1-9-22, the price is $160.00 – but that might change. Over Christmas I offered the same 8 windows for just $128.00

One detail about FWS you need to focus on is shipping. They charge a modest amount to add shipping calculations to your store. So far I have avoided that by including an average shipping price to the retail price.

IDEA BUYER EXPERIENCE

Idea Buyer in Ohio was started by an entrepreneur, Eric Corl, in 2007. They made an excellent proposal to me in 2016 when I showed them my new rooftop whole house fan.

Here is the contract they offered:

I made the decision to engage their services for Option C so I had to come up with $10,500.00

I paid them in November of 2016 with the understanding that they would complete the contract in under 24 months. During the contract period they emailed their big box buyer contacts regularly but not often enough, especially during the spring and summer months when the market was at its peak.

They also connected me with a patent lawyer, Jeff Furr, in Ohio. He embarked on writing a formal patent application which was filed in 2017. This activity was paid for by IdeaBuyer.

I was not surprised to find that by November of 2018 they had not fulfilled more than 7 of the 14 action items they had proposed. In early 2019 I decided to take the task over so I sorted their list of big box stores in order of the likelihood of them working with me. Here is the result of that sort.

2016
STORE NAMENO. STORES
WALMART11088
TRUE VALUE5000
ACE HARDWARE4077
DO IT BEST3800
FASTENAL2683
HOME DEPOT2248
TARGET1916
LOWES1750
TRACTOR SUPPLY COMPANY1488
KMART1221
SEARS858
HARBOR FREIGHT700
HD SUPPLY550
GRAINGER330
COSTCO323
MENARDS285
MEIJER200
MSC INDUSTRIAL SUPPLY CO100
NORTHERN TOOL & EQUIPMENT95
ACME TOOLS10
38722

As you can see I highlighted the top 12 stores in order of number of stores. Then I made a hit list of stores based on my knowledge of their position in the whole house fan market space.

I know that Home Depot is one of the most experienced in the market because they sell whole house fans for QuietCool and others. Lowes is similar but does not have QuietCool.

Walmart, True Value and Ace were not known to sell whole house fans. DoItBest and Fastenal are also not players. Target and Kmart were also not known to sell whole house fans. Sears is not well known for whole house fans but they do sell them.

So I started with Home Depot, Lowes and Tractor Supply. What I found was that Tractor was the easiest to locate buyers and get their phones. So I worked with the key buyer. I recommend that if you want to be in a store you start there as well IF your invention is well suited to the store’s normal products.

INDEX

Appendix

Here are the inventions that are available and for sale.

  1. 2008 WHOLE HOUSE FAN  S
  2. 2012 WHOLE HOUSE FAN SPEED CONTROL  S
  3. 2010 IMPROVED WHOLE HOUSE FAN S
  4. 2016 FIRST HYBRID ROOFTOP VENT S
  5. 2019 WEEDING RAKE S
  6. 2019 SHED FOR TIGHT SPACES S
  7. 2019 SHED WITH POPUP ROOF S
  8. 2020 NEW CHRISTMAS DECORATION S
  9. 2007 DUNE BUGGY BODY LIFT S
  10. 2016 MFD HOME WINDOW LIFT HANDLE S
  11. 2020 CARPORT POST ELIMINATOR S
  12. 2019 GARAGE DOOR WINDOW KIT S

These are web sites for some of the above.

1,2&3 http://thorwaldsonwholehousefans.com/

4 http://inviscoindustrial.com/

5 rake tbd

6 shed tbd

7 https://shedhaspopuproof.com/

8 christmas tbd

9 http://invisco.com/inventions/1971-meyers-manx-dune-buggy/

10 handle tbd

11 CARPORT POST ELIMINATOR

12 https://garagedoorwindowkit.com/