The Anonymous Widower

A Comment On The Dyson Ventilator

This comment was posted on this article in The Times talking about ventilators.

I work in ITU- I’m with the dyson option. Ventilators are mostly large cumbersome things complicated devices…. if he delivers in time I have no doubt they’ll be great…& maybe better than what we have now…

We have to assume it’s a genuine comment.

Note that the article gives a good description of a ventilator and how it works. As an engineer, it doesn’t seem to be the most complicated piece of equipment.

Think over the last two hundred years how many radical redesigns of common products have been made, that have changed markets.

  • George Stephenson and the railway.
  • Frank Whittle and the jet engine.
  • Alexander Graham Bell and the telephone
  • Alec Issigonis and the Mini
  • Trevor Baylis and the wind-up radio and wind-up torch.
  • James Dyson and the vacuum cleaner.
  • Transistors and integrated circuits have taken over from electronic valves.
  • Mini computers have taken over from mainframes.
  • Flat screens have taken over from cathode ray tubes
  • On-line systems like auctions. banking and peer-to-peer lending.
  • High speed rail is taking over from short distance flights.

We can all nominate our favourite examples of disruptive innovation.

James Dyson and his team have probably looked at the current design of ventilator and concluded that it is complicated, expensive to make and difficult to use and have come up with a better design, that can be built quickly and easily in large numbers.


March 27, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , | 2 Comments

Wheatstone Remembered

As I passed Kings College by the Aldwych yesterday, I passed this tribute to Charles Wheatstone.

Wheatstone Remembered

Wheatstone Remembered

He was one of the more unusual scientists this country has ever produced and was a true scientist and inventor.

August 26, 2013 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Sir James Has Got A New Motor

This article on the BBC, looks at a first glance to be about a water tap, with a built in hand dryer, design by Sir James Dyson’s company.

But the most significant thing about it, is the new electric motor.  Here’s Sir James Dyson’s view.

Although the minimalistic hybrid water-air tap head is the device’s signature feature, Sir James said that the “secret” of the machine was its motor, which had taken seven years to develop.

Dyson said that its latest motor had taken more than 100 engineers over £26.9m to develop.

It uses an electromagnetic field, rather than carbon brushes, to accelerate from standstill to up to 100,000 revolutions per minute within 0.7 seconds. That was about four times the number of revolutions per minute that motors its size typically produced, Sir James said.

The article also says that the motor has a built in computer chip. So is this another of the ubiquitous ARM ones?

Who knows where this type of motor technology will lead?

February 5, 2013 Posted by | News | , , | Leave a comment

Are The Best Ideas Started In Garages?

The storage of electricity has always been a problem and it’s one that will get worse as we get more renewables like wind-power, that tend to produce electricity at variable times.

So this article on the BBC web site caught my eye. I particularly like this bit.

The technology was originally developed by Peter Dearman, a garage inventor in Hertfordshire, to power vehicles.

Just like Hewlett-Packard, which started in a garage.

What is the most significant fact, is the IMechE have got involved.

This might be one of those ideas that runs and runs.

It has a lot of things going for it.

  1. It’s all technology we have had around for years.
  2. It doesn’t require large amounts of land.
  3. The plants could also be used to say produce liquid carbon dioxide, nitrogen or oxygen, where they are needed, instead of bringing it in by tanker. On the other hand liquid oxygen is dangerous stuff to have around.

I shall be watching this story in the future.

October 2, 2012 Posted by | News | , , , | 2 Comments


I hadn’t heard of Cyclehoop until I saw a piece about how they have got a large export order from Vancouver, on the strength of their presence at the Olympics.

I like them, as hopefully, they’ll tidy up bikes on the streets and we’ll get less clutter that I’ll walk into.  Admittedly, I do it less now, as my eyesight may not be perfect, but I’ve learned how to use it properly.

One thing I like about the design is that they are compact and can be very bright, so they aren’t among that large class of street furniture you trip over.

I’ll be looking out for some in use.

On another matter, their web site is very professional.

They also fulfil my theory, that there are many ways to redesign what we already have.

Looking at the gallery on the web site, you see too that it’s not a one-product company. They’re more a solutions company, that you go to when you want to park any number of bikes, from one to several thousands.

September 9, 2012 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Dragons Can’t Cook!

Or is it most likely won’t?

I watched them last night, when they rejected a lady who had developed a product called a Gloven.

It’s exactly what I need, to get round the problems of my gammy left hand, which responds badly to hot and cold.

I have a feeling that this is a product that will be a success, as it has so many niches, that haven’t been identified yet!

August 1, 2011 Posted by | Food, Health, World | , | 2 Comments

Brando Was An Inventor

Marlon Brando was an inventor.

Why not?

Everybody has it in them to invent something!  Unfortunately, some never invent anything that makes them any money.  But even if it doesn’t, they still probably get some satisfaction and enjoy showing others how it will improve their lives.

There’s a list of patents down to celebrities here. It’s quite surprising and includes Abraham Lincoln.

July 10, 2011 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Removing Fence Posts

I have always been an inveterate inventor.  At school some of my poorly drawn efforts actually won prizes.

On the stud, we had a lot of what is known as Keepsafe fencing.  Unfortunately, the idiots who put the fencing in used poor quality posts that were always rotting.  So I developed a device for getting the post out of the ground without too much hard work. I’ve never been a great one for hard phyical work, although the mental stuff is a bit different.  Luckily I’ve usually been able to earn enough money to afford to get a man in. Perhaps that’s the Jewish side of my mind, as one of my friends always tells me!

What follows is copy of a post from the stud blog, which shows C using the device to remove a fence by the side of the house.  I’m posting it, as one of the photos is one of my favourite ones of my late wife as it sums her up so well.

We had a fence by the side of the house that needed to be removed. The fence was typical post and rail, with the posts buried half a metre into the ground. Luckily they were not embedded into concrete.

At this time, the tool was a few months old and the use had developed so thatyou could use with a high lift jack to remove fence posts without any great fuss or danger. Health and Safety fanatics please note!

As an aside here, just try the normal method of wrapping a chain round the post and then using a tractor to pull the post. This method makes a lot of mess and is very dangerous if the chain breaks.

Fence Post Removal Tool

You start by just dropping the tool over the post, making sure that when it is lifted, it will bite into the post.

Positioning the Tool

Note that there are no moving parts in the tool and it doesn’t need to be adjusted.

Note too, that the post in this example is in pretty good condition. If the post has broken off at the ground as they often do, then all you need to do is dig a perhaps ten centimetres into the ground so that the tool can grip the good part of the post.

The tool is linked to the jack using a shackle with a breaking strain of about a tonne and a half.

Attaching the Jack

Note that the high lift jack is stood on a fence rail to equalise the ground pressure.

The jack is now lifted to pull the post out of the ground.

Lifting the Post

This pull took about a minute and the post came quickly out of the ground. Note C’s ever present Scholl sandals.  How Health and Safety!

C did most of the pulling for these posts as it’s actually quicker if someone else (me) holds the post vertically. This just shows how powerful the jack/puller combination is. Even a wimp can pull well over three tonnes!

Virtually Done

Note that little damage is done to the ground and in many cases a new post could be driven firmly into the old hole.

The jack can also be used to lift the heavy gate off its hinges.

Lifting a Gate

This picture shows how easy it is to pull a post in a restricted space.

Pulling in a Restricted Space

The wall wasn’t damaged or even touched.

In the end five fence posts and one gate post were pulled in about half an hour.

A Job Well Done

I will be taking the tool to London, not that I will have any use for it, but surprisingly, the old page gets a few hits and I’m always being asked for drawings or a tool.

So I’m going to publish the drawings on this blog, so that if you want to create one, you can do it.  There will only be two conditions.

You must say thank you, if you like what you create.

And as C died of cancer of the heart just a few months after these pictures were taken, with our youngest dying of pancreatic cancer just a few months ago, the next time that a cancer charity tries to tap you for a few pounds, dollars, euros, yen or whatever, then contribute, especially if it is to do with pancreatic cancer research.

I don’t mind if you don’t contribute, because if you don’t, I suspect the Devil who has been haunting me these last few years, might have found another victim and might leave me alone!

The basic drawing is shown and don’t complain about the quality, as it is rather poorly drawn.

Fence Post Removal Tool

Perhaps one day, I’ll get a proper drawing done.  There are also some notes to the forge who made the original.

  1. I haven’t put any dimensions on the side pieces as I will assume that you will use something close to 5 cm. L-section steel.  One is upo one way and one the other to give a cutting and leverage effect.
  2. The endplates can be either flat or L-section.  Whichever is easier and/or stronger. 
  3. The only dimensions are that there must be 14 cm. between the ends and the width must be sufficient to allow a post of just under 18 cm. to be lifted.
  4. The attachment point on the front will have to be pretty strong as the jack can pull up to 3.5 tonnes.

Happy lifting!

December 5, 2010 Posted by | World | , , | 5 Comments

The Juice Carton Spanner

I have a weak left hand due to a stroke and find opening the plastic cartons for things like Innocent smoothies, a little difficult.  But I’m getting better and I had no trouble a few minutes ago. However, there must be many others who do, as perhaps their hands are worse than mine because of arthritis or missing fingers.

But all the caps are the same and it should be possible to create a small plastic ring spanner that mates with the cap perfectly.  Companies like Innocent might even give them away free with an advert on them, as they’d only cost a few pence each to make.

There are still so many things that need inventing!

I always remember my father had a wonderful pair of round-jawed pliers, that were always being used to open difficult bottles at home.  I’v never seen anything like them since.

June 15, 2010 Posted by | Food, World | , , | 5 Comments