A Better Mousetrap

Those of us in the engineering community have a tendency to dislike the way other people have designed and built things. Here are a few things that I have "plans" to build which I think would make the world a better place, at least from an engineer's perspective.

  1. Single and Recurring Event Alarm Clock

    An alarm clock that keeps virtually any number of different alarm times (events) concurrently. Each of these may be recurring alarm events that happen at a certain time on a given set of days of the week or single event alarms that occur only once on a certain date at a certain time.

    • Accepts recurring alarm events that occur at a certain time on a given set of days of the week.
    • Accepts single event alarms that occur only on a given date at a given time.
    • Progressive volume audible alarm.
    • Alarm captions associated with each alarm event.
    • Alarm events may be deactivated without being deleted.
    • Next Alarm display shows the next active audible alarm event.
    • Main Display reads "AM" and "PM" to eliminate confusion and erroneous settings associated with AM and PM dots on other devices.
    • Recognizes leap year appropriately.
    • Option for automatic handling of Daylight Saving Time.
    • Controls for setting the clock allow for speedy entry of any time.
    • Power failure handling.
    • Alarm events may be connected with any of several outputs where the primary output is the audible alarm and the secondary outputs are relays with generous voltage/current ratings to control external devices (e.g. plant waterers or fish feeders).

    Obviously a digital device, this alarm clock must exist with an efficient digital interface that does not cause the user to feel that he or she is communicating serially with the processor inside.

  1. Ultra Versatile Tape Deck

    A dual cassette tape deck with many features for control and versatility.

    • Infinitely variable tape speed control for both directions of tape flow.
    • Tape Speed controls operable regardless of engagement or nonengagement of tape head (i.e. tape can be played at any speed).
    • Selectable between stereo and monaural operation with options to mix or "Y" left and right channels internally for stereo compatibility with monoureal systems and vice versa.
    • All audio signal inputs and outputs are in RCA (phono), 1/4-inch, 1/8-inch jacks, and in XRL.
    • Accepts auxiliary inputs for recording purposes.
    • Tape decks may operate independently, where appropriate (For example, one deck may play while the other records from auxiliary input).
    • High speed duplicating possible.
    • Optional write protection override.
    • Internal "scrub" eraser for fast erasing of cassette tapes.
    • Auto reverse functions indefinitely from choice of optical, torque, or audio activity sensors, or programmatically from the tape counter.
    • Internal speakers may be disabled.
    • Record level control.
    • Decibel meter.
    • Optional wired remote control of some features.
    • 9-pin, PC-compatible serial control of and feedback from all features.
    • Minute/Second counter.
    • Conventional 3-digit counter.
    • Cassette tape backlight (for viewing of tape in clear cassettes).
    • Eight-track compatible.
    • Can be set up for open reel (reel-to-reel) operation.

    The target consumers for such a device are electrical engineers and PA operators.

  1. NCD Player (Not Compact Disk Player)

    A phonograph that handles vinyls like CDs.

    • Robotic "CD" tray.
    • Optical "track" detector finds location of "tracks" on vinyl surface. (The quiet portions between songs on a record have different reflective properties than the noisy portions.)
    • Read arm of phonograph has built-in position sensor and positioning gear.
    • CD player-type interface allows user to choose and program a sequence of "tracks."

    Not a particularly big market for this, but cool none the less.

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