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invention/adapter

Discussion in 'General Electronics Discussion' started by ruxton, Aug 3, 2012.

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  1. ruxton

    ruxton

    3
    0
    Aug 3, 2012
    Hi my name is Ruxton Doubt and I have a patent pending on a product
    which addresses the problem of old outlets losing their "gripping" capability.
    After time an outlet no longer holds plugs very well and basically the time
    has come to change the outlet. My adapter allows someone an additional
    choice .... rather than replace the outlet you can use my adapter to get an
    old outlet to work again. This special adapter has special prongs which
    expand once inside the outlet providing a solid electrical contact. Like the
    grey adapter which is used to convert a 2 slit outlet into something that will
    accept a 3 prong plug my adapter does the same thing except of course it
    also has this special feature of fixing this "relaxation" problem old outlets
    suffer from.
    Also inside the housing of this adapter will be an automatic reset thermostat,
    which will shut off the adapter if it overheats ... and won't come back on untill
    it cools down. The second feature is a fuse, which "blows" in case of a short.
    The third feature is an indicator light, to let the user know the adapter is "on".
    The last feature is the one which I am currently working on, and that is circuitry
    which detects reverse polarity and dissallows the adapter from working if it has
    been plugged into an outlet which has been wired incorrectly. Specifically
    someone has put the hot wire on the neutral terminal and the neutral wire on the
    hot terminal. I would like to incorporate this feature into the adapter and would
    appreciate any input or advice as to how to begin.
     
  2. BobK

    BobK

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    Jan 5, 2010
    If you go overboard with features, the adapter is going to cost much more than replacing the outlet.

    Bob
     
  3. CocaCola

    CocaCola

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    Apr 7, 2012
    Very true when replacement UL approved duplex outlets can be had for 48 cents or less in the US, at Mendards, Home Depot and Lowes... Even cheaper in a bulk package...

    Not my cup of tea, but I'm sure there is a market for lazy homeowners though as they like band-aid fixes...
     
  4. duke37

    duke37

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    Jan 9, 2011
    I do not think that your adaptor should re-connect when it cools down. It would be safer to have it trip and need a manual reset.
     
  5. BobK

    BobK

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    1,688
    Jan 5, 2010
    Yep, so it cost less than a dollar to replace the outlet if you can do it yourself, and a couple of beers if you can't but have a friend who can.

    bob
     
  6. CDRIVE

    CDRIVE Hauling 10' pipe on a Trek Shift3

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    May 8, 2012
    Dito to this! Is this 100% solid state or does it incorporate a relay?
     
  7. Electrobrains

    Electrobrains

    259
    5
    Jan 2, 2012
    Hello Ruxton

    I think your invention is great!!!
    I am sure there will be a lot of places where it can be used (portable equipment, quick installations, built-in outlets etc.). Just be sure you get enough tests and UL approval/advice for such thing. You are into an area that can get very expensive if things go wrong (electric shocks, fire...)

    You wrote:
    I "brained" a bit on your problem and came up with this circuit. It's a very simple and cheap solution! Maybe I can use it myself on some of my own modules...

    It would include your third feature (green=Power on + Correctly wired) and almost all possible wiring errors. You could use two sensitive LEDs or one three-pin, bicolor red/green LED (although those are probably not so sensitive).

    According to my opinion, this circuit would be enough! Anybody connecting your unit would immediately get a visual indication of the power outlet's condition. If something is wrong, the user must not connect to your output.

    It's possible to add the function you describe too, but it would be much more complicated: I would use an optocoupler in series with the red LED, amplify and filter that error signal and use it to drive a DPDT, normally closed relay with it's coil connected between N and L. If the red LED would switch on, it would at the same time open the relay contacts.
    You would not be allowed to connect the relay coil to GND, it would draw too much current through the ground wire.

    See the notes and warnings on the circuit diagram! If the UL guys wouldn't like this circuit, you could work your way through by using approved Y-caps instead of resistors.
     

    Attached Files:

  8. Raven Luni

    Raven Luni

    798
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    Oct 15, 2011
    Interesting. American power sockets must be badly designed or something. I've been in this house since I was 3 (30 years) and it still has most of the original ones and theyre good. The only replacements have been during house improvements.
     
  9. CocaCola

    CocaCola

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    Apr 7, 2012
    From my many years of home remodeling (with many 100+ year old houses) there are not that many bad ones, a vast majority of the bad ones I have come across were vintage bakelite that was simply dried out and physically failing... And generally it's only one or two real bad ones, usually the one in the hall that was used for vacuuming that was in constant plug, unplug state... But, than again these generally all pre-date having the ground plug so they should be upgraded anyway as it's foolish to not have stuff grounded... Heck in many of those vintage houses the entire house was in dire need of a complete rewire as the wiring was the vintage tar coated stuff and if you look at it wrong the insulation falls off, if you touch it you are sure to have it crumble off in your hands, even the copper wire itself crumbles... And than we get into the knob and tube houses, talk about a nightmare to deal with that can be a permit nightmare, since many villages have written laws that if you do any 'significant repairs or remodeling' in a house with vintage knob and tube wiring, you have to remove it all and bring the entire house up to current wiring codes, that is unless you can get a historical waiver...
     
  10. CDRIVE

    CDRIVE Hauling 10' pipe on a Trek Shift3

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    May 8, 2012
    Not really. My experience has been much like CC's and I've been around a tad longer then him. Personally, I don't see a great need for this product to warrant the startup costs. I don't think UL and IEE will approve it anyway. Home & business insurance companies won't be receptive either.
     
  11. donkey

    donkey

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    Feb 26, 2011
    I agree that the cost of replacing the whole board in this case does seem cheaper then the new invention.
    having said that due to legal requirements here in oz to replace a switch/powerpoint/light fitting (not the bulb) we need qualified electricians to carry out the work. so if for example this item was valued at less than the cost of the electrician and the powerpoint(socket) then it could be viable.
    having said that I agree with raven luni, I have yet to find a powerpoint (socket) that has lost its grip but as cdrive has said he has a few years on us too.
    the big one I find going wrong in my houses are the switches themselves.... and I tells ya now 240volts sting like crazy.
     
  12. hexreader

    hexreader

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    Apr 21, 2011
    Can't see how you will ever sell enough of these devices to recoup the development costs.

    This invention avoids the problem rather than fixing it. Your gadget may be cheaper than a proper fix, but a proper fix is worth paying more for.

    Lazy people (there are plenty of us) might be glad of this easy option, but most of us lazy people are also too lazy to search the internet to find your gadget, and I don't see this as being something that hardware stores would dare stock.

    Great idea, but I would predict it losing a lot of money. Seems like a big risk to take.

    Not that I am an expert in any way, but I watch a lot of "Dragon's Den" TV programmes in UK. (I think every country has their own equivalent TV program), so I am stupid enough to think I know something :)

    ... but is there another angle on this invention that might have commercial potential? A socket protector? or a socket enhancer? same product but with clever marketing?

    And whilst I am in "rambling-on-about-nothing mode", many (I would guess the majority of) non-engineers don't understand the dangers of electricity and/or don't care. You can frighten some people, but you will struggle to make them understand in a way that leads then to a logical or informed conclusion. You may have a market that is limited to the few who do understand and care, AND who have worn-out sockets, AND who are too lazy or too mean to fix the problem properly.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2012
  13. CocaCola

    CocaCola

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    Apr 7, 2012
    Is there not a 'homeowner' exemption, in OZ? In the US most states require that if you 'hire' someone to perform the work they have to be licensed, but if the work is performed by the 'homeowner' they waive the licensing requirement... It's also something that is hardly if ever enforced, and most generic 'handy men' will perform void the technical permit requirements... Stuff like this will sometimes fall into replace/repair exemption as well that will allow it to be done without the technical need for a permit in some cases...
     
  14. CDRIVE

    CDRIVE Hauling 10' pipe on a Trek Shift3

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    May 8, 2012
    While our local govt. officials will tell you that permitting was established for your and your neighbor's safety let's get real about it. Follow the money trail. It's primarily just another excuse for government bureaucracy to get deeper into your pocket. :(
     
  15. donkey

    donkey

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    Feb 26, 2011
    you can do the work if you own the house and not rent it. but when you try to sell you need an electriciian to certify it is safe.
     
  16. KMoffett

    KMoffett

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    Jan 21, 2009
    With the resistors, you would be continuously wasting 0.4W of power in heat for a function that is only needed on original installation. Not very "green".
    And unless the OP can sell a million units, I don't think he will be able to recoup the UL (or EU version) certification, liability insurance, and patenting costs.

    Ken
     
  17. Electrobrains

    Electrobrains

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    5
    Jan 2, 2012
    Hey guys, you are all so negative!

    If people through history had looked at new ideas with an attitude of "useless" or "not possible", we would not be speaking to one another as we do here right now (probably we'll be out there picking in the earth, trying to find some food).

    Ruxton has come up with a very new idea - a real invention, that at least I never thought of before! Let's help him develop and improve that thing instead of discouraging him, telling him nobody needs it!

    Of course nobody would use such unit as a permanent house installation or dream of as competition to the made-in-China low-cost outlets!

    But, I could well imagine, thousands of professional craftsmen, field engineers, the police, medical personal etc. would love to pay $200 or more to protect their valuable equipment and be sure to get their power without first calling some electrician, when they arrive at whatever place!

    p.s. If 0.4W is too much, then simply let's get a "lower-current LED" and triple those resistances.
     
  18. CocaCola

    CocaCola

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    Apr 7, 2012
    Although realistic and negative can sometimes be synonymous they are not the same thing... Don't confuse the two... Warning an individual (based on experience) that his/her product might not be as revolutionary and profitable as they believe they are seeing through their own favorably tinted eyes is being realistic, not negative...

    The product as described is not a product to "protect their valuable equipment" it's a band aid fix for a broken item that in all reality might make things worse... Any "professional" should not hesitate for one second to replace a defective electrical outlet if they are concerned about safety and their equipment... If the equipment is used in a profession like the medical field the absolute LAST thing you want is a third party device that decides it's too hot and shuts off power...

    I'm willing to bet that it's not all that revolutionary, I suspect it's quite similar to 'expanding anchors' used to hold things more tightly in a hole or slot, aka concrete or wall anchor... The extra pressure created by this expanding might (likely) will make the actual damage to the socket worse, quite possibly cauing it to fail completely and becoming an instant safety hazard... And because of this I suspect getting a UL certification (or equivalent) that will give the product any credibility on the market will be extremely hard...
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2012
  19. Electrobrains

    Electrobrains

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    Jan 2, 2012
    Hm, let's say it this way:
    I'd rather have my heart attack treated with the risk of overheating shutdown, than not at all...
    ;)
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2012
  20. CocaCola

    CocaCola

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    Apr 7, 2012
    Huh? Where do you come up with the idea that if they didn't have this device they would all the sudden not be able to treat you? That is a fallacy (or two) Argumentum ad Metum & False Dichotomy

    In a hospital environment there is always an excess of outlets all kept in tip top shape, many of them on backup generators so that they never lose power as it can be life threatening to lose power... When I was wearing another one of my hats and working as a chef/cook at multiple hospitals over that career, there was always regular inspections of the outlets (and any devise with a plug) even in the kitchens, and if they showed any signs of damage or what not they were replaced on the spot or removed from service...
     
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