Aug
0

Jeff Wilcox and the Mega Tiny Anti-Gravity MegaVerse System

BY ROBERT BEAR

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My pants pockets all always full. I’m always carrying keys, wallet, cell phone, change, and whatever else I happen to have. It’s hard to be comfortable and look professional with bulging pockets while carring around what I need.

I’ve also wondered why cellphone cases don’t come with a suction cup like feature that would allow you to stick your phone to something instead of laying it down. It would make face timing and taking selfies so much easier.

I love it when a product solves multiple problems.

The MegaVerse is the First Modular Anti-Gravity Case allows you to take hands-free selfies or slap on a wallet, mirror or bottle opener to your iPhone 7/6 & 7/6 Plus. I contacted Jeff Wilcox of the Mega Tiny Team who have invented and are currently running an Indiegogo campaign and asked him the following questions:

How would you describe the Mega Tiny Team?

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We’re tinkerers at heart and our days are a stream of ideas we can’t shake. We see the world as an endless opportunity to make things a little better. We believe that a simple idea from a tiny group of people can have an impact. And if you’re lucky, a big impact.

A new phone case won’t change the world, but the belief that no matter how small you are, you can take something people use every day and make it just a little bit better will.

The MEGAVERSE Anti-Gravity Case is a proof of concept for all of us that small is the new big and that’s why we launch our products through crowdfunding. This is the place where the tiny come together to make big things happen. This is the place where everyday things are made better by everyday people and that’s why we’re here.

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How was the prototype process?

The prototype process for the Mega Tiny Anti-Gravity MegaVerse System was very different compared to many projects that I have worked on in the past. Our company, Mega Tiny Corp started out last year with a successful Kickstarter for our flagship Anti-Gravity Case. The case features nano-suction material on the back that allows the user to “stick” their case to most smooth, flat surfaces for hands free use.

Fast forward to around April or May of this year, our factory began sharing information for the next iPhone (iPhone 7 or iPhone 6SE). We quickly realized over the course of the next couple of months that the form factor and footprint were only going to change by fractions of a millimeter. This meant that we could start prototyping new product idea with our current 6S and 6S Plus cases that were already on the market. This is a HUGE luxury in the product development business and not one that you are afforded often!

Around the same time that we were receiving information for the new iPhone I was pushing an idea within our team that I became passionate about. I wanted to add backing plates as free additional items with our Anti-Gravity Cases for two reasons – 1. They would allow us to give users some colors to match the finish of the iPhone, and 2. They would give protection for the nano-suction material when not being used for hands free fun.

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This was not an easy sell to our team since it added cost with no additional revenue but at the end of the day we all decided it was the right decision for our customer.

Then came the big lightbulb moment! What if we added functionality to the backing plates! This is how the MegaVerse MegaBack system was born. All of our cases will ship with the plain backing plates that match the iPhone colors, but now we are taking it a step further and adding MegaBack options – Wallet, Bottle Opener, and Mirror as additional products.

Prototyping each of these different MegaBacks came with their own challenges. We put countless hours in with each one to make sure they are perfect. We traveled to our factory in China more than once to work directly with the manufacturer because there is no substitute for communicating in person. There are subtle accents some customers will never even notice that make the products easier to use. We (like many companies) are constantly battling cheap knock-off brands, so we feel it’s extremely important to provide the best possible customer experience with every Mega Tiny product. We really go the extra mile with our products, packaging, instructions, and customer support after the purchase and it’s paid off big time with a great loyal customer base!

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How was the patent process?

The patent process is ongoing and tedious as you can imagine. We have a great law firm that we use for this and it allows us to focus on other parts of the business that better suit each of our skill sets.

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How do you plan to market it?

Our marketing efforts are just getting fired up. We have a great partnership with IndieGoGo for this campaign. They have featured us on their home page and in their weekly email. We also have major press outlets receiving samples over the course of the next week. Beyond that we are using Facebook ads to help spread the word.

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How did you did decide on a manufacturer?

This was my department. I have over 10 years experience in product development and I have worked for some giant billion dollar companies. Over the years I have made friends and spent a lot of time throughout SE Asia with many different types of manufacturers. This has given me the opportunity to really zero in on high quality factories and push them to the top of my rolodex.

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What advice would you give to those interested in inventing?

So many things! I could write a book! The best advice I could give comes from advice I have received and used over the course of many years inventing. Here is my favorite:

You may hear “No” 100 times, but it only takes 1 “Yes”. To me, this is what separates serious inventors from people who will struggle. It should never be about the invention, it should be about your passion to make things a little easier or better. What I mean by that is too many people come up with one idea and put all their eggs int hat single basket. Serious inventors, and certainly the most successful ones that I know have 5-10 projects going all the time. They never push too hard or rely on one single thing. And most importantly, when they are told “No”, they don’t spend one second felling sorry for themselves. They move on to their next idea.

Click here to visit the Indiegogo Campaign page.

For more information please visit www.megatinycorp.com

Aug
0

Yair Reiner and Frywall

BY ROBERT BEAR

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I enjoy cooking for my family. From purchasing the ingredients and preparing the meal to organizing and placing the plate On the table. I watch them breath it in and tell me how good it looks. We begin eating and I listen for the mmmmm sound and when I hear it…happiness.

What I hate is the mess and I know I should embrace it and enjoy it equally but I don’t. I’m always wondering could I have prepared in less time and mess. I believe the Frywall will do both and my stove will thank me for it.

Frywall is a silicone shield that rests on the inside rim of your pan. The sides protect your stovetop against splattering oil and liquid, and keep food (like that huge pile of kale) from tumbling out. The broad open top lets steam escape and provides easy access to the cooking surface. Afterwards, just put it in the dishwasher and roll it up for storage. You’ll enjoy cooking more when the mess is less.

I was looking at my stove recently and notice how how worn out it looks, especially the right front burner where I scrub often. I found the Frywall on Kickstarter and contacted Yair Reiner, the inventor and asked him the following questions:

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How was the prototype process?

The very first prototype I improvised on the fly with store-bought aluminum foil. I was about to pan fry duck breast, but couldn’t bear thinking about the clean up awaiting me at the other end. So I fabricated something similar to the Frywall using aluminum foil. In that first attempt, the proto- Frywall encircled the skillet on the outside. I was surprised by how well it worked, and started thinking about how it might be turned into a commercial product. I made several more prototypes with aluminum foil. My big break-through came when I made my first silicone prototype using a two part paste bought over the internet. I shaped it using an improvised mold made of construction paper and plastic wrap. The result was hideously ugly and very heavy (I can send you photo), but it worked like a charm. The ultimate design of Frywall has changed very little since that prototype.

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How was the patent process?

Frywall is currently patent pending. The patent process is costly and often frustrating. It’s very rare for a patent to get approved on the first shot. Typically one has to overcome some pushback from the patent office. Getting a patent often hinges on its differing from prior inventions and on being non-obvious. Both of these qualification are highly subjective. Still, I’m very hopeful that my patent application will be approved. The splatter problem has never been approached in quite this way.

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How do you plan to market it?

Marketing can be the hardest part for a first time inventors like me. I’ve spent the last year working out the design, testing prototypes, finding a manufacturing partner, fine-tuning the packaging. It’s only now, as I’m about to hit the market, that I’ve turned to thinking in a focused way about marketing. I should have done so earlier. I’ve started a Kickstarter campaign, and that is helping to test out new approaches. I have a website. I’ve begun to promote my product through facebook and instagram. And I have a great on-line retailer lined up for a launch in the early fall, which will help spread the word. I am also working to get some press coverage and get Frywall into the hands of influential bloggers and chefs.

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How did you did decide on a manufacturer?

I found manufacturing candidates by scouring the internet, Alibaba, and Global Source. I reached out to about a dozen companies before settling on one. The company that won out was the best in terms of communicating in a clear and timely way, and putting me in touch with the key decision maker in the company (the CEO), rather than having to work through layers of sales people. I got a very strong sense of the person I was working with, and that he was honest, reliable, and ready to work with me to overcome any challenges. Price was also a factor, but it was not the most important one.

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What advice would you give to those interested in inventing?

Be prepared. Bringing a product to market is a marathon, and it will have many ups and downs. You will get encouragement along the way from family, friends, and even strangers, and that will be a huge source of support. But day in, day out, you will have to be your own cheerleader in chief, you own pick-me upper, your own biggest believer. Getting to market will also cost you more than you expect, even if you temporarily become a jack of all trades (web designer, photographer, copyrighter, publicist, gofer), as I have.

Click here to visit the Kickstarter Campaign page.

For more information please visit www.frywall.com

Aug
0

Zac Rubenson and GoHawk…Hands Free GoPro Shooting System with Remote LED

BY Robert Bear

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I came the GoHawk story one evening while sifting through the Kickstarter campaigns while trying to find a new invention that captures the imagination. I can’t imagine jumping out of a pla ne or experiencing any other life-risking activity without wanting to record it intellengently.

GoHawk is a Hands Free GoPro Shooting System with Remote LED that allows you to film your experiences. The following story is taken from the GoHawk Kickstarter campaign page along with answers from the inventor Zac Rubenson.

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What is the GoHawk Story?

The GoHawk came together through the right combination of need, abilities, and good old-fashioned bootstrapping. While popular among pro-level aerial photographers, mouth switches still hadn’t reached the action sports cam market due to a lack of compatibility. As a weekend skydiver who enjoys taking pictures, Zac was frustrated with resorting to time lapses to capture quality stills. As a design engineer with a decade of product design experience, he decided it couldn’t be that tough to create. The project slowly came together, evolving from napkin sketches and feature discussions to CAD designs and custom firmware. We talked to the community and added the features that we thought action sports enthusiasts would want the most. We tested multiple rounds of firmware, eventually arriving with a product that we felt met the needs of our users. We built prototypes on home built 3d printers and soldered up prototype LED cables. With functional prototypes in hand, we began showing off what we had at the dropzone, and the feedback was tremendously positive.

The GoHawk is the first GoPro expansion pack that adds three new types of functionality to your GoPro Hero4 for a better shooting experience:

Remote shutter button input. Save time by only shooting the photos you want, not the ones you don’t. Choose from a hands-free mouth switch or thumb triggered handlebar switch, or use your own switch with the universal 2.5mm port.

Remote LED indicator lets you know that your camera is on and recording. Mount it in your helmet or wrap it around your handlebars.

Auxiliary USB Power Input for extended shooting – never run out of power again!

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How was the prototype process?

For the circuit design I found a company that already had experience designing boards for similar applications, and worked with them to develop a custom firmware that repurposed a board that they had already started developing for a different application. Firmware was iterative and some of the changes we had to implement were for issues that didn’t become apparent until we’d done a lot of testing. While some of the firmware changes were more aesthetic, others were non-obvious functional changes. As an example, I discovered that my cameras would stop recording when I exposed the wiring to 100+ mph wind shear because the wind would jiggle the connectors just enough to trigger a shutter input. We changed the firmware to require a half second button press and this solved the issue.

The mechanical development for the housing was done by me as that’s my primary skill set. I recruited an industrial designer friend to create an aesthetic CAD master model, and then I broke it out into discrete manufacturable pieces with all the required internal features. Multiple revisions of the housing were 3d printed using high-resolution SLA and SLS processes, with small discoveries coming from each iteration.

The LED accessory was prototyped using components from Digikey. The goal was to create something that looked good enough for promotional material, with the knowledge that the production units would be built using different processes that are more difficult to prototype in-house. To simulate the transparent overmold around the LED’s I cut open a silicone nose pad for glasses and shoved the LED’s inside, then heat shrunk around it. The smd LED’s were hand-soldered and potted in glue for durability. The bendable cable was accomplished with 1100 aluminum wire instead of a gooseneck because it’s more versatile.

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How was the patent process?

I’ve worked with a number of top-notch patent attorneys on other projects for clients, so I reached out to them to find out about IP considerations for this project. As I suspected, there’s nothing very novel or ingenious about my product, aside from being the first product of its kind, so it wasn’t worth pursuing a patent. Not every new product or idea is worth patenting.

Conversely, I’ve done work for clients where the entire scope of the project is to develop innovative intellectual property and get it patented, with prototyping and production being distant considerations. Those projects are fun.

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How do you plan to market it?

I’m still working on that. I’ve been trying to find someone else to take on the sales and marketing aspects of the business, as I’ve realized that’s not something I’m very good at. We plan to market not only to action sports enthusiasts, but also to other markets including drone photography, wildlife photography, and general aviation. Another goal is to partner with distributors and resellers who already have good market penetration.

We started marketing our Kickstarter campaign through online magazines, sports websites, and a lot of paid advertising that hasn’t really returned a positive ROI. Word of mouth has been the most effective so far.

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How did you did decide on a manufacturer?

After 10 years working in product design I’ve amassed a large, large network of manufacturing contacts. I reached out to a number of my go-to vendors and found some that were willing to work with me on developing the manufacturing processes and construction for the LED indicator at pricing that hit our targets. Vendor selection was a combination of pricing, willingness to get involved in the design process, and communication.

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What advice would you give to those interested in inventing?

Just remember that ideas are virtually worthless – value lies in execution. Unless you’re a seasoned product designer, you won’t be able to develop a quality product, and neither will some random manufacturing company, no matter what they say. The product design process is quintessential to creating a quality product, one that takes into consideration manufacturing, ease of assembly, cost, ergonomics, human factors, and much much more. If you hire a college kid with a 3d printer in his garage or a random Asian company to do your design work, you’ll end up with a crappy product. The devil is in the details, and the important details aren’t obvious to people who don’t have to consider them frequently in their professional career. If you’re serious about bringing your idea to market, find the funding to hire a talented product design firm to take care of product definition, mechanical and industrial design, and manufacturer sourcing. Remember that there’s no value in being an “idea guy” – at the very least, you also need to be able to raise funding, and preferably have some other skills to contribute like sales or marketing.

Click here to visit the Kickstarter campaign.

For more information please visit www.poalabs.com

Sometimes the only thing stopping a great invention from hitting the market is funding. If funding wasn’t an issue, the project is more likely to be successful and would reach a much wider audience”

Jul
0

Michelle Cazella and Dapper Snappers

BY MICHELLE CAZELLA

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Hi, my name is Michelle Cazella. I’m a proud wife, mother, and inventor. This is my invention story.

Being a mom has been the most amazing thing I’ve ever done. In February of 2005, Super Dude was born and my life has never been the same. He started to walk at 8 1/2 months old…yes he did, here’s proof:

Immediately, we realized that we had a problem. Jacob was too skinny to keep his pants up. That’s right…my son was a 9 month old thug. I bought some jeans for him, you know because jeans go with everything. All of them were just right in the length but way too big in the waist. I couldn’t see using a safety pin because he would likely poke himself with it. I didn’t want to try to take in the waist with a sewing machine because mine couldn’t handle denim. So I wasn’t left with many options.

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I tried Dritz Fashion Fit Clips but Super Dude figured out how to take them off so I had to start attaching them to the inside of the belt loops. Then one day, I was so frustrated because these things would work just fine on one pair of pants but not another. The Fashion Fit Clips were not adjustable. My husband looked at me, and noticing my frustration he asked, “If you were to do it differently, what would you do?” I began to describe to him what my needs for the perfect solution would entail. Within an hour I had created a prototype. It was elastic just like the Fashion Fit Clip, but it was adjustable. Okay, maybe not just like it. It had snaps instead of clips.

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After showing the invention to several mom’s, I had come to the conclusion that I may be onto something. Their encouragement sent me on an 18 month journey of research and development. On June 21st, 2007, I launched Dapper Snappers toddler belts and started selling them retail and having them reviewed by mom bloggers. It took months to build up the momentum, but now this little empire is a force to be reckoned with. Who’d of thought that lil ‘ol no-college-degree-me would invent kids belts that would rock the toddler world? (That’s not to say you shouldn’t get a college education, because you really REALLY should!)

I never in my wildest dreams imagined that Dapper Snappers sell globally. Currently we sell to 14 countries! Did I say we? Yes, that’s right, Hubby quit his full time job to work side by side with me. And I couldn’t do this without him. It’s only been 3 years, and this business is bigger than I could have ever imagined. And it’s still growing!

Dapper Snappers have become the biggest necessity for mom’s of skinny toddlers everywhere!

More information on Dapper Snappers and where they can be purchased can be found at http://www.dappersnappers.com.

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Jul
0

Norm Hudson and the OzHitch

BY NORM HUDSON

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Hi I’m Norm Hudson, the creator of The OzHitch, which came about after a challenging experience of mine in outback Australia…

My problems started when I was traveling through the Finke River Gorge in the blistering Outback Australia heat around midday when I met with a stretch of really soft, coarse river bed sand that got me badly bogged!!

It was stinking hot and there was nothing to hook the winch to…I knew it was bad considering the rigs overall weight, and river bed sand doesn’t let you out easily. So after tires down almost flat, lockers in, some cursing, I realized I wasn’t going to get out unless I unhitched. It was getting worse and by this time I was P****D Off and HOT. So I decided to disconnect the trailer from my 4WD to reposition it on firmer soil and away from the boggy wheel tracks.

The hitch was almost impossible to reconnect.

Man, I tried everything… reversing & repositioning the car a dozen times, trying to push the trailer around, just about breaking my fingers, wrestling with the pin and the 2 hitch halves…. The worst part about this situation was that no matter what I did, I’m damned if I could get the two halves of the off-road hitch to line up, so I could connect it up. Talk about frustrated, I was out of my mind.

This damn tow hitch just wouldn’t line up. So, like any true blooded bloke, when I got it reasonably close I used a tire lever and my big hammer and bashed that bugger into place! Tired and worn out with the stress of the hitch not lining up, I got back on the track again.

A half an hour later I got bogged again in another section of sand and knew I that I was going to have to deal with the same problems again. So getting bogged can be a pain, but its nothing compared to getting hitched back up again. Just recovering from my last ordeal, I was feeling the frustration before even getting out of the car. I was hot, tired and crazy out of my mind with this ridiculous so called off-road hitch. What The HELL..!! It would have made a better anchor for my tinny.

How do you connect a pin with less than Half a millimeter tolerance?

The third time I was coming into a sharp uphill turn out of the riverbed and well… The drama went on for 45 minutes. No joke I nearly pulled my hair out trying to get the hitch realigned. Just imagine trying to reverse a 4WD in sliding and shifting river bed sand on an angles, while reversing, and then trying to line up hitch halves – with less than half a millimeter of tolerance to put the pin through it. I was getting good with the tire lever and hammer and the hitch was looking bashed. I was buggered, you know that feeling when your hands are kind of ringing or buzzing they are so worn out from hard struggle?

Surely there had to be a better way.

This is what got me thinking there has got to be a better way. I have worked in and been a business owner in the camper trailer industry since 1980, and with the experience and knowledge I have, I set about reinventing the off-road hitch. I thought about the situation I was in that caused me so much grief and all the little things like lining up the holes, having to reverse the car to near perfection, the danger of a possible collapsing jockey, being that the front of the trailer was getting shoved about heavily in very soft sand and having my feet under it…!!! and simply the hard work and stress you just don’t want on a holiday.

So after some brain crunching, I came up with the ultimate 15 second hitch. The hitch guides itself together, loading from above, with far less accuracy needed than the tow hitches currently on the market. The other great thing is that hitch self locates because of the alignment tool which simply lines the two halves of the hitch together in the cradle. Presto! OZHITCH is the simplest 15 second off-road hitch that’s easy to use.

More information about the Ozhitch and where to purchase it can be found at http://www.ozhitch.com.au

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Jul
0

Mike Forehand and The Perfect Seal

BY MIKE FOREHAND

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I'm Mike Forehand and this is why I came to invent The Perfect Seal.

In 1988 a customer contacted my company to purchase three electric embossers. There was only one brand available at the time, and I had no experience with the unit at all. I did some research with users and dealers and found this brand of electric seal was undependable. I should have known when the manufacturer said it had just decreased the warranty to sixty days from purchase. The customer was going to purchase these units no matter what my advice. In the next sixty days, I made five repair trips and had no support from the manufacturer. The customer and I became very frustrated at such a poor quality product. My wife said: “why don’t you just build your own?” I think she was just sick of hearing me complain, but she was right! Now being very familiar with the mechanics of this brand of electric seal, I felt I knew what not to do, so I began a three year endeavor. I consulted seal users, design engineers, product manufacturers, studied design criteria, calculated force and drew more sketches than I had ever done before in my life. I was spending money with machinists for test samples, just to throw them in the dumpster due to a design flaw.

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The criteria was easy: (1) a seal impression from a touch-of-a-button, (2) extended life of electric models over hand held models and (3) no chance for repetitive stress injury. Sounds simple doesn’t it. In 1991, after fourteen designs and about a hundred variables, one simple design worked. When I made the very first test impression, my first word was “perfect”. That was the basis for the name PerfectSeal™. The simple design with only two moving parts has proven durability and dependability time and time again. In April of 2005, I implemented the fifth generation of updates, but still have not changed from the original design. My PerfectSeal™ heavy duty high volume units produce a minimum of 200,000 high quality impressions from just a touch of the button. These units are supported with a sixty day “final approval” time on one unit to assure each customers total satisfaction and have an unmatched TWO YEAR or 200,000 impression performance warranty.

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It is much easier to justify the cost of an excellent performing quality product, than to justify a poor quality product to less cost. Fortunately, PerfectSeal™ is most definitely a better product for less cost. Nothing can be more aggravating than being “left out in the cold” if the product does not perform well or being left all alone without manufacturer support. The “final approval” time on one unit allows a first time user to be convinced or return it. If you don’t like your PerfectSeal™…. Don’t keep it! This policy was created because I am so confident of the user safety, value and performance of PerfectSeal™, and that you will be nothing short of “impressed” with every impression. I want you to be convinced too!

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The value of any electric embosser should be the increased durability, extended life over manual embossers and the insurance of removing any chance of repetitive-stress injury during use. Repetitive stress injury is a major concern. One claim could cost several thousand dollars and a major loss of employee time. Companies spend thousands on ergonomic products for computers, desks, tables, chairs etc., and are looking to minimize risk and increase performance when using their seals and other marking products.

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Electric seals are changing from heavy-duty high volume users only, to include the standard duty users like notaries, tag agents, architects, schools and small court systems at a more affordable price. PerfectSeal™ MOTORIZED is a standard duty electric embosser that operates a common die holder from an existing or new hand held embosser. This innovative design will convert any existing manual hand held seal to an electric operation at the lowest price ever offered. An unlimited amount of hand held seals can be converted to a “no stress” electric operation.

More information regarding Perfect Seal is available at http://www.southernmark.com.

Jul
0

Rose Pacheco and the Tibbe-Line

By Rose Pacheco

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I am Rose Pacheco, the inventor of the Tibbe-Line, and this is my invention story.

It’s not a complicated invention. It’s not high-tech and it’s not the next candidate for a fashion fad. Instead, it’s simple and its inventor, Rose Pacheco, says it saves time and electricity.

A cosmetologist by day, Pacheco has invented what she calls the Tibbe-Line, a flexible plastic sleeve that slides over a clothesline or other rope and allows a person to hang clothes hangers on it.

The sleeves, each measuring 13 inches long, have holes drilled in them for the hanger hooks so that all the clothes don’t slide together at the clothesline’s lowest point. They work for drying clothes and for storing clothes anywhere someone can rig up a line, she says. It’s a simple little device, but Pacheco thinks it has a huge future by allowing people to air-dry their clothes easier and use less electricity and time. “People who have bought my Tibbe-Line call or write me and they’re so excited about doing laundry,” the energetic Pacheco said. “They’re excited because they’re saving time.”

The Tibbe-Line retails for $14.95 for a pack of three, enough to hold 21 hangers in 39 inches of space.

Pacheco says there’s nothing on the market like it. “It hasn’t taken off yet, but I believe it will,” she said of her product, named for her maiden name of Tibbe. “It’s like a dam that has a little hole in it.”

Time is important to Pacheco, a cosmetologist who works with the home-bound and who also makes balloon arrangements for special occasions and events. She’s a super-energetic 60 years old and confesses that she has a hard time not being constantly in motion. “I’ve worked just about my whole life,” the Pueblo native said, “At the IRS, the Army Depot, the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service, I’ve done a lot of different things. The only time I find that I can actually stay still is when I’m reading the Bible,” she said. “Otherwise I’m always doing something.”

So her hard work with the Tibbe-Line is not surprising. She’s taken the device to trade shows, has a demonstration planned at Colorado State University-Pueblo to show college students and is contacting 2,000 additional colleges and universities to see if she can convince students there to buy it, too.

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“I had never been in a college dorm,” she said about when she first visited the university to drum up business for the Tibbe-Line. “I walked in and I couldn’t believe it. It was 12 feet by 12 feet with two little beds, two little dressers, and two inky-dinky closets.” Because she markets the Tibbe-Line as a laundry aid and a storage device, Pacheco saw opportunity. “My Tibbe-Line would be perfect,” she said.

The Tibbe-Line was born shortly after Pacheco was doing laundry one day in 1996. She likes to air-dry her clothes, but some clothes need to be placed on a hanger first to dry without being distorted. Pacheco hung her clothes on a clothesline the regular way with clothespins, and then hung a heavy denim shirt on a hanger and hung that in the eye-bolt holding up the clothesline. A strong wind that day blew most of Pacheco’s clothing to the ground, but the denim shirt “was just whipping around in the wind and didn’t fall down,” she said.

Later, Pacheco caught herself looking at a door hinge and that’s when she says the Holy Spirit touched her and the whole idea all fell into place: a plastic device that could be closed around a clothesline and hold hangers at regular intervals.

Pacheco loves her invention because she likes to dry her clothes in the dryer for a short time to remove much of the water, then hang the clothes damp on hangers and let them air-dry.

She’s cut her laundry time dramatically, she says, because she doesn’t have to wait for the entire dryer cycle to finish. It also saves wear and tear on the clothes and saves electricity, which Pacheco sees as a major selling point.

When she made the first Tibbe-Line, people didn’t care as much about global warming and saving energy, she said. But now, “when you turn the TV on, at least once a week that subject comes up. There is nothing, nothing, nothing like this!”

Bringing an invention from idea to reality, and then actually selling it, is a famously hard and long process. The inventing landscape is littered with the corpses of ideas that someone just couldn’t get to catch on.

Pacheco said it’s taken her at least six years and $25,000 to bring the Tibbe-Line to life. After she had her idea, Pacheco says she got a lot of timely help from other people getting it made. She already was going to the Pueblo Community College campus’ Small Business Development Center to discuss applying for a small-business loan for her cosmetology work. When Pacheco asked for help on her Tibbe-Line, someone at the development center directed her to PCC engineer and teacher Chris Washington, who was nice enough to draw up plans for the Tibbe-Line from Pacheco’s description.
Pacheco then found a plastics manufacturer in Denver that made a batch of the Tibbe-Lines, and after a friend made her a jig for them, Pacheco used a drill press to drill holes in each Tibbe-Line herself before packaging them for sale.

“I got to where I could do 100 Tibbe-Lines an hour,” Pacheco said.

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Pacheco also hired an attorney and, after being rejected twice, obtained a patent for her invention, spending thousands of dollars to do it.

Several Tibbe-Line packages await shipping, but actually selling the Tibbe-Lines has taken even more effort. Pacheco has set up a Web site at www.tibbeline.com and sells some through that venue. She’s also traveled a bit to market the device and constantly is honing her pitch and identifying uses for the invention.

While she was at a trade show, one comment she heard again and again was that the adults at the show wished they’d had something like the Tibbe-Line when they were in college and short on time, space and quarters for the dryers. That started Pacheco on her present marketing push with the colleges. And she said she’s always finding more uses for the invention. An artist friend likes them for holding painting materials. A teacher uses Tibbe-Lines to hang kids’ projects. “If there’s someone who can’t find one good reason for using the Tibbe-Line, they must be from Mars!” she said.

Sales are still very modest, but Pacheco keeps at it.

“The only reason is because the Holy Spirit gave me the idea, otherwise I would have probably given up on it.” She says each time she’s faced an obstacle, something eventually has happened to help her get past it, “and away I go. It is a long, hard road,” she said. “You just have to have a lot of tenacity. And I remind myself of a pit bull.”

More information about the Tibbe-Line and where to purchase it can be found at http://www.tibbeline.com.

Jul
0

Patrick Sherwin, the GoSun Portable Dogger and the GoSun Stove

By Robert Bear

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Solar Dogger Does…. does what??

The GoSun Stove has revolutionized fuel-free cooking over the past three years. In 2001, their founder, Patrick Sherwin, made his first meal in these incredible vacuum tube solar cookers – a Hot Dog. Now GoSun is getting back to their roots. I love solar, always have and will. I learned of GoSun back in 2014 and became a fan. Today, I became a backer of the GoSun Solar Dogger and you can too by clicking here.

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About the GoSun Stove…

GoSun successfully completed a Kickstarter campaign by raising $203,217 in October of 2014, exceeding its own goal by more than $160,000. At only 20 minutes to a meal and safely sizzling up to 550°F, the GoSun Stove is the first practical, fuel-free cooking solution. GoSun is on a journey to revolutionize cooking both first and third worlds.

Patrick Sherwin, GoSun founder and solar energy expert, is passionate about play, yet remains focused on solutions for our time. As a veteran solar engineer with extensive small business, international project management, and sales experience, Patrick’s love for humanity, entrepreneurial spirit, and determination drive GoSun and its capabilities in all business facets. I interviewed Patrick back in 2014 and asked him the following questions about the GoSun Stove:

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How did the idea come to you?

I’ve been working in the solar energy field for 14 years and 11 years ago I was on a rooftop removing an old solar hot water heater. This was the first time I saw the evacuated tubes used in solar heating systems. The customer didn’t want them so I was able to take them home where I broke them apart and started tinkering. I figured there had to be some remaining value. I put some hot dogs inside the glass tubes and they started frying. I built several hot dog cooker prototypes which were great for cooking hot dogs if that is what you want to do. About 4 1/2 years ago, I had an aha moment at a solar expo when I saw a 2 foot long demonstration tube on a table. I realized that this is the length I needed to make this more consumer-friendly as it could be portable and easy to use, kind of a bite size solar device.

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What made you act?

When I see a good idea, I always think about how to scale it. The technology itself really pulled me in. I was intrigued by the idea of cooking with the sun at temperatures similar to a grill or stovetop. This was a constant source of inspiration and it kept me tinkering I took a trip to Haiti and the poverty there blew me away. They prepare food indoors using wood and charcoal which affects their health and requires a lot of wood which affects their forests. Their cooking processes really stuck with me and so I created a vision for a product that could be useful in both the United States and developing countries. I started researching solar cooking when I got back to the US. I wasn’t able to find anything that really got the job done in a timely fashion, safely, that could handle a large volume of food, and work through a rainstorm or light wind. It was sad. In my 15 years in the green industry, I believe the cost per performance for solar hasn’t been great, but that is changing. It is hard to compete with traditional fuel sources and I am here to prove that solar is a viable option. I believe that solar will outcompete traditional fuels and needs to be our primary source of power.

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How was the prototype process?

I had many different prototypes. The first product used 5 1/2 foot long tubes and making a mess inside those was a real pain. When I found the two foot long tube, I was still stuck in a vertical mindset because all solar tube collectors are racked that way. The preexisting use of this technology was engrained in me. One of the biggest design changes we made was to set it in a horizontal fashion, which gave us much more flexibility for cooking and that led to substantial design components that are integral to how our device works. This made it easier to use, to get food in and out, and to clean.

The prototyping process took over four years and in the process I used a couple of different makerspaces. Though not an engineer, I’m an inventor born and raised, so I had to do it hands on, by trial and error. I bent all of the metal by hand because I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on plastic injection molding or CNC routing. This was before 3D printing became popular. I made all the brackets out of wood and bent metal rods. The one thing that I didn’t build myself was the glass evacuator tubes, which are made in China and part of a preexisting industry. That made the job easier as I only had to figure out how to work with the tube and how to protect it. Developing the canoe shaped cooking tray to help move food in and out cleanly was another aha moment. It seems obvious, but it took years to develop. I used Legos, sticks, and a 3D prototype. There has been a lot of attention to detail, probing, and consideration for the user’s experience. I have friends who are industrial designers that were brought in during different stages. I’ve been involved in every stage of product design because I was so intimately involved with the details over the last 4 1/2 years. As we move into developing new products and grow, I’m trying to put more of this process on the industrial designers.

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How was the patent process?

We started three years ago with a provisional patent and currently have a patent pending. A friend from high school who is an intellectual property lawyer helped me through the process. He is confident that we have a great strategy and a unique product. We’re not declaring ownership over the whole evacuated tube cooking domain, but we’re the first to do it in this way and using these components. I am confident that we will have a patent in the near future. I’m fortunate to have my friend helping me through the process so the expense has been kept to a minimum. He has a regular job but is really interested in green technology. I’ve learned a ton during the process about technical writing and using your sensibilities to explain the device. I was really impressed with how bare bones objective the application process is. We’ve only had one office action and it’s hard to say how much of this we’ll see. At this point, everything has been planned and fairly painless. Our first patent application was rejected and we’re waiting to hear what they had to say. As far as intellectual property goes there are so many ways to look at it, it’s very dicey when you’re filling out your comment on Kickstarter for the whole world to see. Our hope is that we build brand loyalty through great ideas, great customer service, and a quality device.

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How have you marketed it?

I spend a lot of time looking at spreadsheets and market segmentation, figuring out who, what, why, where, and how of getting it in front of the customer. We’re so young that we haven’t really engaged the sales and marketing engine yet. Our Kickstarter campaign was somewhat ambiguous as to the end customer. We found that preppers or survivalists and early adopters are a big segment though we haven’t done a lot of focused or targeted marketing efforts. What we have focused on is the name. About three years ago we chose a name only to find out a year and a half later that it had been trademarked. There was no way we could move forward so I came up with GoSun. Now we are building products under the GoSun name and our ethos is promoting self-sufficiency, environmentally friendly solutions, and more important to our customers a sense of freedom and enjoyment that comes with cooking under the sun. You have safety and won’t have environmental issues to concern yourself with such as smoke and fire, lighter fluid, and charcoal. The food inside the tube is being prepared in a totally new and unique way. We believe our product is for everyone. People will see solar cooking in the tube as an opportunity and not a problem. There are limitations based on size, but once you overcome that element the options are limitless from baking, boiling, and frying. We’ve even baked bread and cookies. What is really exciting is that we are working in the developing world to get the GoSun stove in the hands of those who need it most.

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What were some obstacles and how did you overcame them?

There have been quite a few obstacles, but the biggest has been what family members and friends have said regarding my working on a solar cooker. I’ve had people make fun of it and tell me that I’m wasting my time. They’ve belittled the device and the process. I would tell them about my solar cooker and their response would be that it’s been cloudy for a month and why am I wasting my time. That doesn’t happen anymore, now they say good job and what’s next?

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What advice would you give to those interested in inventing?

I recently listened to a piece that Ira Glass was doing on This American Life and it fit perfectly. He said all artists, inventors, and makers, whether it is painting, music, software, or whatever have a certain desire for the best and a vision for what they want to create because they have good taste. When you first start making stuff, it sucks. For years it’s not going meet your standards, it’s not going to have the feel, the sound, the taste that you want. You’ve just got to keep trying, keep working through it. That is the process for success. If you give up, you are 100 percent guaranteed not to get there. So my advice is: keep working at it and know that it may take years. It took years for me before I felt like I had something I could sell to another person. The problem solving, the iterations, that is so critical before you are ready to launch.

Click here to visit Indiegogo Campaign.
For more information, please visit www.gosunstove.com

Jun
0

John Strange and the Autofisher

By John Strange

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My name is John Strange. I am an inventor from Kankakee Illinois. I call my invention the Autofisher. It is an Automatic hook setting device or fishing machine. When a fish takes the bait the Autofisher uses springs to lift the rod setting the hook. It is an electrically controlled device that will not only set the hook but will also simultaneously alert the fisherman with flashing lights and an audible alarm. The Autofisher shown here is my first prototype. I came up with it one evening after a frustrating night of fishing. My wife and then newborn daughter stayed back at the campsite while I tried my luck cat fishing. I limited out but missed several nice fish on my other rod. That’s when I thought up the idea of making a machine that would catch the fish for me. A year later I made my first Autofisher. I have since made four other models. My latest uses pneumatics instead of springs to set the hook. This model by far surpasses all of my other designs. Please realize that because it is not patented I can not show you this invention. I can give you an idea of what it is like by showcasing my earlier prototype. I have done a lot of research to check for similar fishing apparatuses but have found none that will do the same thing as mine.

The Autofisher is a fishing machine that automatically sets the hook for you. When a fish takes the bait the Autofisher lifts the rod hooking the fish. It works for any stationary tight line fishing method. Use it for bank fishing, vertical fishing, or drop shot techniques. The Autofisher was originally designed with ice fishing in mind but due to its size and power it was better suited for catching catfish and ruff fish. The frame is made of steel and stands nearly 4 feet high. The base is made of wood wrapped in polyethylene plastic to allow for easy transport over snow and ice. It turns out that polyethylene also slides easily over rocks making it great for rocky shorelines.

The Autofisher is electrically controlled. The rod holder is attached to a spring board with a mercury switch. When the fish takes the bait the spring board tips the vial of mercury completing the circuit. The mercury switch energizes a relay that powers a linear solenoid. The solenoid pulls in releasing a latch holding back a small pair of springs. The springs move a lever that trips a fence latch holding back an assembly of six 6″ extension springs. These springs are stretched to a length of 12″ with the aid of a heavy duty ratchet strap. When the primary springs are released by the secondary spring assembly they rocket forward moving a lever attached to the spring board. The spring board is rapidly tipped backward setting the hook.

I invented the Autofisher out of necessity. It was the summer of 2005 when I first came up with the idea. The fish where biting so good one night that I couldn’t keep two rods baited. As I reeled in one fish my second rod would get a bite. If I could have manned both rods at once I wouldn’t have missed so many fish. That’s when I decided to make a machine that would catch the fish for me. I spent the next six months working on different designs. The earliest prototype used an office chair cylinder instead of a spring. Due to problems with the release mechanism it never was finished. I spent another six months redesigning the Autofisher. In 2006 I finished my first working prototype. The machine shown here is what I came up with. It caught fish but was too heavy and difficult to transport to be practical. For awhile I gave up on the idea of ever making a successful machine. It took until 2008 before inventing my latest version. This Autofisher used pneumatics instead of springs which solved many of the problems I had with the original design. Since then I have considered filing for a patent. For that reason I can’t go into too much detail without giving all my secrets away. Learn more about my latest design as my web site grows.

I learned a lot during the two month fundraiser that began this past March of 2011. Sadly we did not reach the $2500 funding goal needed for the provisional patent. With that said I would like to thank all of the people who took an interest in the Autofisher. I also would like to thank those of you who I met at Braidwood Lake, LaSalle Lake, and Milliken Lake this past spring, I really enjoyed your comments. I’d like to thank all of the businesses and people who posted fliers at their shops. I also would like to thank all of you who took the time to visit my website. Last but not least I would like to give a special thanks to Dale Bowman of the Chicago Sun-Times who did and outstanding job telling my story. The fundraiser may be over but I plan to continue working on the Autofisher. Over the course of the next few years I intend to apply for a patent and begin selling my machine. My website will also be undergoing some changes. Look for new videos and updated web content in the months to come. As always happy fishing and tight lines!

Jun
0

Nigel Robinson on the Road to Invention

By Nigel Robinson

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I’m Nigel Robinson a retired old-school trucker. This is my story of a dream come to reality.

It all started many years ago when the idea for an automatic coupling system first bloomed in my mind. Then around 16 years ago I had a chance meeting with an engineer called David Morgan. I had enrolled in a course to learn engineer drafting, with the hope of obtaining a city and guilds certificate.

David was my tutor for the duration of the class, which was fortunate for me because he was a man that was good at his job, didn’t cut corners, and was meticulous and precise. After a while, when I had learned the basic requisites of the course and had gotten to know David a bit better, I began to become side tracked from the course work, and make sketches / drawings of my own idea. This idea that had been in my head for some time now was a way to make an automatic connection between a truck and a trailer.

It didn’t take long before David noticed my mind had wandered, and asked me what the sideline design was all about? I explained to him that for many years now trucks have coupled to trailers manually, which is a dirty and dangerous job that all truckers out there hate to do. My thought was, we are advancing in technology all the time, so why not automate this procedure, and have a simple button that can be pressed inside the cab, to connect air/electrics, and lift/lower trailer legs, making it safer, quicker, and cleaner for the driver.

David knew nothing about trucks, or trailers, except that they carried cargo from one destination to another and are driven by hairy arsed men with big arms. After listening in depth to what I had to say, he could see the potential in this type of device, and soon became involved as an engineer and consultant helping me with the design.

The first thing I had to do was obtain information about the vehicle to be sure it was possible to make changes in the area we were looking to alter. David and I approached a local manufacturer to ask if they would give us permission to look around their yard, and workshop, in order to collect some measurements and calculations.

The company manager agreed to see us for an informal chat. He seemed to be a polite young chap, very presentable, but I must admit, asked a lot of questions about the project, as well as having his own engineer in the office with us listening in to everything being discussed.

Obviously we had to be careful, so we kept the conversation on a purely research level, talking about the streamlining of vehicles, keeping it simple and straight forward, not letting on to what our real motives were for being there.

At one stage during our meeting, the manager produced a brochure advertising new trailer designs, all pictured with tractor units connected, much to my surprise and excitement, he raised the question of air/electric lines hanging off the back of the cab, and commented on how untidy, as well as old fashioned it looked. Well you could have knocked me down with a feather, this man knew nothing of my idea, yet the first thing he talked about, was the very area I was about to try and change.

Not to give much away, we told him the information was for an assignment at college studying road transport advancement over the years, and we needed to make a few sketches, along with some figures, to help with the course work.

Over the following months David spent a lot of time at the drawing board working on the design with me, the more he understood it, the more positive he became, and soon began to share in my excitement. As we progressed, both he and I had many sleepless nights thinking about how to come up with ways that possibly could, and maybe would work.

Every morning we would exchange thoughts and sketches regarding different parts of the system. Sometimes it took several days and nights just to complete one piece, but we persevered, bouncing ideas off one another, and eventually we came up with the answer.  Although, I must admit that some of the frustrations that popped up during the design process had me thinking it would never happen, that my dream would be squashed.

After 10 months of hard work, and a lot of headaches, the last drawing was finally completed, which meant the system could now be prototyped and, in theory, be made functional.

I thanked David for his help and made a note of his address and telephone number so I could contact him if there were any future developments.

My next move was to patent the design in order to protect it from thieving sharks. I looked into various ways of doing this, primarily searching for a method that would avoid having to fork over massive amounts of money that I didn’t have.

The simplest and cheapest way was to put the drawings in a large envelope, seal it with sticking tape, take it to the post office, get them to stamp it with the day’s date across the seal, and then post it to myself. When it arrived I left it sealed and put the package in a safe, dry, and secure place for future reference. This is known as a copy write patent, and although not official, it could be used as proof if needed.

As time rolled on, I continued to do my job, trucking across the UK and Europe, for freight forwarders, Davis-Turner. A day didn’t go by without me thinking about the system, and its advantages, especially when dropping or picking up a trailer, getting covered in grease and muck from the lines (all you truckers out there know what I mean).

My biggest obstacle was that I lacked the money to finance the project, and believe me, we’re not talking peanuts. It would take a huge amount just to get it registered with a patent agent, let alone to take it further down the line into the prototyping and, eventually, manufacturing stages.

By now several of my fellow truckers knew of my idea, and all agreed it would be a God send
if a device of this type were to hit the market place and be made available worldwide.

Some years on, and a few broken promises later, another chance meeting came my way, in the shape of serious financial help to get the design off the ground.

One night while socializing, a good friend of mine named Neil, was talking about the system to an associate of his named Ricky; the following night we all arranged to meet for a chat.

After explaining the potential advantages of the design to Ricky Davis, and his business partner Steve Crossland, it was agreed that for a slice of the pie they would come on board to cover the financial side of things, and front all of the costs needed to get to the manufacturing stage.

An agreement was drawn up by a solicitor, and as promised I gave them a piece of the action. Straightaway, Ricky started to honor his side of the deal and made contact with patent agents to get the first phase of the official U.K. patent in place. When the paperwork arrived already stamped with my name on it as the inventor, it was a very special feeling moment. I remember staring at the document, and letting my imagination run wild.

Over the next couple of years we expanded the U.K. patent into a European patent. We also contacted the relevant certification bodies, a very powerful and important organization responsible for rubber stamping everything related to vehicles and their operations.

They requested that we make a prototype trailer pin and submit it for trials at there main
test plant. There it would go through a rigorous process and be tested statically to its destruction. Waiting for the results was a bloody nightmare, but eventually they arrived, and much to my delight it was good news.

So from there on in, I needed to find a manufacturer in order to take the project further.
The biggest problem in this endeavor was trust. So, armed with confidentiality agreements we set about approaching one or two different engineering companies in the U.K. hoping to get them on board. This was no easy task, they were either not prepared to commit wholeheartedly, or just weren’t interested in taking the risk on a new innovation.

At this point, the system’s life had advanced so much and we had invested so much money that we had to keep driving forward in the hope someday good things would come to us.

About a year later, out the blue, I received a phone call that changed everything.
Again a fate meeting was responsible for pushing the project forward. I fell into a conversation about the system with two guys, Tim and Mike, who ran a trailer company.
For quite some time they had been conducting business with a northern Italian company, and had struck a good working as well as personal relationship with them.

Through Tim and Mike, contact was made with the Italian company, and a brief description of our design was given to them. I remember the first meeting with the Italians very clearly. After presenting them with the design and its advantages, their response was so positive it gave me a lift like id never felt before. This along with their hospitality spoke volumes to me; At last an honest professional company was interested in the system.

An official launch of my system took place in Italy in November of 2007. There the complete working system was demonstrated on board a new truck coupled to a new air ride skeleton chassis trailer. I can honestly say, people, that it looked the business.

This was a special time for me because, after all is said and done, at heart I am still a trucker, and to see my system working and know that sometime in the near future all fellow road buddies across the globe will hopefully benefit from it is truly a dream come true.

I would like to give BIG thanks to Roberto, David, Ricky, Steve, Tim, Mike, all my friends and family, the Italian company, as well as all the truckers out there that I spoke to about this idea, and all those who gave me encouragement and help in pursuing my dream to the end.
Keep the hammer down, and truck em’ on safely and securely.

Cheers! Nigel Robinson

Nigel’s website can be found at http://www.lifeasatrucker.com/index.html. HHis story is thus posted at http://www.lifeasatrucker.com/8-my-invention-story.html.