I've been designing a new brace as the foundation for my latest modular leadpipe and bell system for 5 days now. In reality, I started designing this part at least 7 years ago, but I'm working out the final details this week as the first prototypes will soon be cut. After all this time, I only have a profile 2-D line drawing on a few layers...nothing 3D. I spent hours yesterday isolated in a completely quiet dark room visualizing the entire system, each component, every union, joint, moving part in vivid detail. I feel like I've already used the system and this revealed a few mistakes that became design changes, which is why I am finally moving to 3D.
I've tested every modular system I can get my hands on in this vast world...all the trumpets, most of the educational and children's construction sets, industrial extruded aluminum sets, home and business construction techniques/products, the list goes on. But you know something? I don't see what I'm looking for in any of these places. I've kept my eyes open since I was 4 years old and I may soon conclude that there is no simple, reliable, industrial strength, flexible modular system in use today, maybe not even in existence. Why? It seems every company or product reinvents some new way to put things together if they don't want to use the standard screws, fasteners, heat, glue, snap fit or sheet metal techniques. So what do they do? Create a cheap variation on one of the above that can only be used with their specific product or part.
Why not create a modular system that universally translates to most applications? Design a system that is smooth, accurate, easy to use, reliable, very strong, offered in a variety of materials for various applications, offers multiple locking options (magnetic, thumb screw, cap screw, tamper proof head, etc.), offers pneumatic and electronic lock and release options that interface with standard servo, actuator and motion control systems? Maybe this has already been done by Allen-Bradley or some other conglomerate, but I haven't seen it and it obviously hasn't reached out from industrial automation like it could.
Hence, my 5-day visual mind quest to design a magnetic dovetail adjustable slide lock system. The main brace on my latest trumpet must allow multiple bells, leadpipes and adjustable pinky rings to slide on, lock in place and stay put while being extremely easy to use. I like to design things that work, without the possibility of failure, user error or confusion and aesthetics as primary goals. It should be so simple that anyone just picking it up could look at it and think, this goes there, that fits here and voila, it's assembled! And when you purchase a second leadpipe or new finger rings, it will be easy and obvious how to interchange the parts on your horn. That's what the customer should demand and exactly what I intend to offer.
However, I am seriously considering licensing the new design to be used in a multitude of new applications. Industrial and home door locks are an obvious weak point in 95% of the US. I know this as I was a former police officer who every morning responded to burglaries, home invasions and the like simply because door locks are so incredibly easy to pick (give me 2 minutes) and if all else fails, they can be quickly drilled out or kicked in by anyone over 150 pounds. This is the perfect application for my new dovetail slide lock! Of course I can think of a thousand others...windshield wiper refills, containers, modular suitcases/bags/instrument cases, modular cabinetry, entertainment systems, cabinet and window locks, automobile hood and trunk locks, anti-theft systems, modular closet systems, mounting almost anything in construction, retractable pens, utility belts (hold each item with dovetail locks), the list goes on...
So maybe it's complicated to design, but thankfully I see applications and great usefulness far beyond my modular trumpets. Does anyone know of a system (in use or on paper) that fits the description above? I'd be very interested in hearing your thoughts.
Time to build a trumpet (my goal is to finish a trumpet each day get out of my design brain now and then)...
So apparently insomnia is working its way around the shop, first Paul, then Jen, now me. James has a tendency to stay in bed on rainy mornings, but unrelated. I'm not sure if this is self-induced, but that is my conclusion for now as I have to force my mind to shut down. Last night I started reading a new book, "Eat People" and that got me thinking about economies, innovation, debates over collective bargaining and all that jazz. My views are usually not popular so I won't share too much here, but I have never seen Andrew Carnegie as anything but a hero. Starting life as an impoverished immigrant, he built an industry (some could argue several), created tens of thousands of jobs (if not ten times that), boosted the American economy and literally laid the rails of commerce for the following 50 years. But what do people remember about him? He started the united nations and created the public library system for very personal reasons pertaining to giving everyone a fair chance. Yet most people think of the lockout that resulted in casualties (he was out of the country and had no part in this stupidity) and he was anti-union. This was for good reason, forcing a company to double expenses can easily and quickly end the company altogether. Oops, I said I wouldn't give my view and there it is...Carnegie has been one of my heroes since childhood. A guy who was destined to fail took on the world and changed it creating and sustaining enough jobs to have the "collective bargaining" argument the first time around. Give the entrepreneurs, inventors, innovators, risk takers and rich dudes a break. They almost never started out rich, the vast majority of major breakthrough markets and products were created by low income people who maybe chose to keep some wealth, but in the end gave more to society than 99.9% of us.
Now I understand my insomnia. So many people insist business, industry and innovators are evil, yet they drive around in their overpriced electric cars or wish they could afford them in the name of saving the planet. Hey, I'm all for doing what is responsible and prudent, and half of my friends are like this, but can't we all see that the electric car and even its perceived need was created by people changing the world through free enterprise innovation? The industrialists they hate built the cars that save the planet they (consumers) are partially responsible for endangering. It's one big cycle...the vast majority of people buying products to save the world or please themselves while a very small percentage of the population creates wealth for everyone (by way of higher standards of living and some for themselves) by creating new inventions that drive solutions to current problems, thus creating new jobs, new markets, new related products, springing new ideas into motion. The entrepreneurial spirit is humanity. It is the art of creating solutions to problems that in the end help everyone in society one way or another. Where would we be without automobiles, microchips, antibiotics, hospitals, glass, steel, roads, pencils, heaters, electricity, plumbing, housing and of course jobs? All of these things (and just about everything) was invented, grown into a business model that supplied jobs and opportunity, then mass produced to bring the price down low enough for everyone by way of risk-taking business people who could have (and often did, myself included) lose everything along the way. Imagine starting a pencil business in 1846, seeing opportunity, creating jobs for your friends, family and community, building a mill/factory, selling for forgoing every personal pleasure for half of your life only to see your life's work fail? This has happened a million times and entrepreneurs never receive a thank you from anyone. Instead, they get the blame.
This is the cause of my insomnia. I have given everything to my trumpet company. In reality, there is no Harrelson Trumpets without me, it is my life. I make $6 an hour, which is a personal victory as I started this company making nothing. And yet I am part of something bigger, business, industry, innovation. It is no secret that my goal is to change the trumpet world and possibly other industries as well, but I have to admit it gets old hearing that I am somehow evil for moving past 100-year-old production techniques and insisting on entering the 21st century. I know you love your Conn New Wonder and your Bach Mt Vernon, I do too. And I know it is easy to blame people who seem to be in charge, those with money or power. But in reality, each individual has the opportunity every day to create something better in this world rather than point fingers while sitting in front of an electronic device.
What is life when you focus on solutions through innovation rather than policy?
Proactive, respectful, fulfilling, demanding, humbling, comical, addictive, philanthropic?