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)...