My mind does not conceive of inventions like a way for a jet airplane to
land in 500 feet. My inventions go more for how to keep birds off
the runway. Even that idea is pretty mighty for my type of
inventing. Most of my inventions go for making something I need
I have filed for a Provisional Patent in the past. I have never gone
all the way for a full blown patent. I don’t make an invention so I
can patent it. I make inventions that I use. If they deserve a
patent, so be it.
My feelings about patents may get some comments. Unless you have a
product that is not worth stealing or you have someone with deep
pockets to protect the patent, I feel a patent is fairly useless.
I read two very informative articles the other day. The first one said
that about 2 % of patented products were ever commercialized. Fewer
of that 2 % ever make any money. The other article said a tool
company was paying royalties to 12 individuals. 6 of the tools had
patents and 6 did not.
There are a lot of products on the market that don’t have patents. It
seems to me that if you have a money making product, you invite
knock-offs. Getting known first for your product seems to make a
difference. Bean y Babies®
had a lot of copy cats, but the original was the one that was in
The other day I needed a way to hold something. I though about it and
came up with a solution. I went out into my shop and built it in
about an hour. Purists might say that that was not an invention. I
felt it was. My invention worked and that was enough for me.
I am not knocking patents, because there are products and ideas that
need to be protected. I may feel different someday about not
patenting each and every idea. I guess it does keep the economy
As you might guess, because I don’t get excited about patents, I will
serve up interviews with people who do. There are always two sides to
every story. I would like to get your comments on this subject.
skistrail on November 12th 2011 in Invention Analysis
Have you driven down the street and thought: I wish that was different,
or someone needs to invent this or that. You keep driving and that
thought is forgotten.
It’s time to jot down these little gems and throw them out so someone
might pick up on them. The chances are that you will not pursue the
idea. If you decide to go forward with your invention idea, that’s
great. Most of the time the thought will be lost forever.
We all see things that need to be invented or improved. I am sure that
we all have at least 3 or 4 ideas run through our mind a week. Most
of the time we don’t think much of them. We dismiss them without
giving them a second thought.
There may very well be someone that would pick up on an invention idea and
run with it. Even if you think that it’s not very practical, there
may be a part of the idea that could work. Your idea might just be
enough for someone to make something completely unrelated.
Bring any and every invention or improvement idea to this blog. You never
know what may become of it. Don’t expect royalties unless you have
done more than just thrown an idea out there. You could partner with
someone and make something out of it, if that’s what you want.
I get ideas all the time. For the most part, my ideas have already
been invented. I may not know about it, but they are out there. You
never know when or if you will come up with a gem.
Join the conversation. Even if you think there is no value to your idea,
throw it out there anyway. You could very possibly get someone to
say to your idea: what if you did it this way and all of a sudden you
have something valuable that you may want to pick up on!
What’s your idea?
skistrail on November 10th 2011 in Your Invention Ideas & Comments
I really get my kicks when someone ask me to invent something for them.
Are you the same way? Would you rather be getting a root canal then
having to invent something? For me it’s the challenge.
Going back to when I was a kid, many years ago, I always had fun inventing
things. I wish I could tape record my mind. I have so many ideas
run through my head that go as fast as they come, unless I catch
I keep a pad of paper and a pencil next to my bed. Many nights I will
have a problem that needs a solution. I try to think about the
problem just before going to sleep. Many times during the night I
will wake up with the answer to my problem.
I have gone back to sleep thinking I will remember the solution to my
problem in the morning. WRONG! If I don’t write it down when it
comes to me, it’s gone.
I use this technique fairly often. I may have to do some serious
squinting to figure out what I wrote in the morning. I don’t turn on
the light when the thought hits me. I just grab the pencil and pad
and write the best I can.
All of this goes back to me inventing. My mind is always looking for
ways to improve things. I live in a house with a small kitchen. I
am going to move a wall to make it a little bigger. The corner base
cabinets are a lot of wasted space. There are lazy susans etc. but I
want to use the space even more. There has to be a way, and I will
come up with it.
Many times during the day my mind will come up with an idea, If the idea
has any merit, I will jot it down. I assemble all the ideas and then
see if any of them will solve the problem.
I get a phenomenal charge out of solving invention type problems. I
never get tired of the process. Find something you want to invent.
Whether it’s improving something that already exists or making
something new, let yourself get into it.
If your the inventive type, you will always walk 2 feet off of the
ground. I don’t hardly ever wear my shoes out!
skistrail on November 8th 2011 in Inventors Mindset
Here’s a little background. At the age of 19, my son was in a serious car
accident. He had a head injury. He could not do anything for
He had an unusual way of communicating. Because he could not outright
say what he wanted, it took some different skills to determine his
Saying yes or no was something huge. I tried many inventions for him to
use. I don’t even remember some of them. I am proudest of the one
that I will show you.
The sketch is rough but you should get the idea. The whole premise was
that if he turned his head to the right the recorder would say YES.
If he turned his head left, the recorder would say NO.
Yes NO Invention
The basic components were:
The base plate was attached to the head rest post.
The pivot arm turned right and left on the center post.
Two micro switches were hooked up to the two tape
A sweat band with Velcro on each side.
Two material straps to connect the headband to the pivot arm.
There were posts and shims and other parts to make this thing work. The
invention worked just the way it was suppose too. My son did not
like the headband so the invention went into the pile with the other
This was not a high tech invention, but one made for a specific purpose,
and it worked.
Is there a market for this invention? Probably not a big one. Medical
supply houses might want one on hand. I could not see filing for a
patent. I don’t think there would be enough demand for the cash
outlay. It could be a sale able product on a limited basis.
If there are any ideas you could use, have at it.
skistrail on November 7th 2011 in My Inventions Discussed
My employer screwed me out of that $5000. I was working for an aircraft
plant in Ft. Worth, TX at the time. I was a tool designer. There
was a suggestion system where you got a percentage of the savings
your idea made for the company.
The suggestion was about two rings. The rings were parts of assemblies
that had to fit together. The employees were having to use a block
of wood and a sledge hammer to put one ring inside the other. They
were that tight. On average they were making one out of five parts
At the time, that was 40 years ago, my father-in-law and brother-in-law
also worked there. My father-in-law was in Research and Development.
my brother-in-law was a machinist. We had kind of a neat thing
going. My father-in-law would come up with an idea, I would draw it
up and my brother-in-law would make it.
My idea for the suggestion was to use a process known as cryogenics.
The inner ring would be frozen using liquid nitrogen. The amount of
shrinkage would be just enough to let the frozen ring slip inside the
other without having to hammer it in. I talked to several people
about the idea and they all agreed that it should work.
I submitted the suggestion through proper channels. While waiting for
an answer, I got word that I had been accepted for Air Traffic
Controller training. The company rejected my suggestion. They said
it wouldn’t work. The one thing I don’t remember was if I had given
notice before or after I got the rejection.
The suggestion was worth a lot because the parts that were scraped were
expensive because of all the work that had been done to them. My
father-in-law told me that the suggestion should be worth the top
award of $5000.
I left the company and went into training. About six months later my
father-in-law said the company put my suggestion into practice.
skistrail on November 4th 2011 in My Inventions Discussed
About 40 years back is when I remember my first invention. I probably had
made stuff before, but I remember this one. I have always found ways
to make something I need if I could not find it.
I was not crazy about mowing the yard. That was my job. The lawn
mower was hard to start. My dad invented his own starting mechanism.
My dad took the recoil starter off of the mower. He bolted an
electric motor to a board. The electric motor had a pulley on it.
The last part was a V belt. If I couldn’t start the mower, I
couldn’t mow the yard. He fixed that.
I had no excuse not to mow the yard. I would plug in the electric
motor. I would put the belt around the lawnmower shaft, then around
the electric motor pulley. I would pull the belt tight and the
lawnmower motor would turn and start. Off I would go mowing.
I would not say that I was lazy, just resourceful. The mower was self
propelled. I made circles in the yard. I drove a broom stick in the
ground. I put a piece of 4 inch cast iron pipe over the stick. I
tied a rope to the mower and to the pipe. I engaged the self
propelled and the mower went round and round cutting the grass. I
sat on the porch watching and sipping a coke.
Not very high tech, but it worked.
skistrail on November 3rd 2011 in My Inventions Discussed
How do you approach a project? By that I mean, do you look at a project
and say to yourself, Looks pretty tough, I don’t think that will
work. Could it be that you look at a project and say It’s going to
be tough but I think I can make it work.
Let’s look at a couple of different ways to see the same project. I just
got 6 inches of wet sloppy snow last night ( and I did ). I need to
shovel the walk and driveway. My snow shovel is broken.
My snow shovel is broken. There is 6 inches of snow out there. I
would need to go to the store and get another one. With all that
snow, I will probably get into and accident or get stuck. I think
I will just let the city fine me for not shoveling the walk.
My snow shovel is broken. There is 6 inches of snow out there. I
need to go to the store and get another one. I have good tires,
and as long as I take it easy, everything will be just fine. I
don’t need to give the city my money for not shoveling the side
walk, besides it’s good exorcize.
Same scenarios but different outcomes. Which one are you? If you are
number 1, unless you change your mindset, you are probably not the
inventor type. The number 2 looks at a problem in a different way.
There are obstacle in the way whether you are inventing or in everyday
life. Your approach to obstacles determines your determination on
how to solve them.
It all boils down to this.
When you encounter a problem, do you look at all the obstacle in the
way and say it won’t work. OR
When you encounter a problem, do you look at all the obstacle and say:
How can I make it work?
Just because you see problems, they could be more than you are willing to
do to solve them. For example let’s say I want to run the mile in 4
minutes. I am 65 and in OK health but not the greatest. If I
determined that I really wanted to run the mile in 4 minutes, I would
have to train. I would have to run a lot of miles to get in shape
let alone get be able to run that mile in four minutes. I think I
could say that the I would change my goal. I don’t think I would
want to commit to so much work. On the other hand, if I wanted that
goal really bad, I may well commit to the training.
At some point in time you have to realize that you are not willing to do
what it takes. Whether that be time, money or other factors that
don’t make sense to continue. It was not that you quit before trying
to clear the obstacles.
skistrail on November 2nd 2011 in Inventors Mindset