#748: ScrewSaver

Don’t know a Lox from your Lotushead? Neither do I. I’m never sure why there are so many different types of fasteners. I just know that I can reliably destroy both my screwdrivers and my screws by using the wrong tool to drive the wrong head (especially by using a driver that’s only slightly wrong; even I rarely attempt to apply a flat-blade driver to a star-shaped screw).

The simplest solution would be for manufacturers to supply a driver head for every type of screw used in each product (Ideally each product would have only one screw of one type. Even better, why can’t everyone just use a single design?) Manufacturers traditionally dislike people hacking stuff they have purchased, though.

Instead, each screw used could have an identifying number stamped into the head that would enable only drivers with the same number stamped on them to be used. Today’s invention, however, is a compromise which works by providing a warning that the driver you are about to use is of the wrong type.

Driver heads would be made with shanks which each pass into the driver shaft to slightly different depths. Inserting one into a driver allows it to be identified by the size of current which can be passed through it from the shaft (an insulated surface region is shown in grey). When the driver head is in contact with the screw, an electric current is similarly driven through the head and the screw. Its magnitude is dependent upon the contact area between these two. If they are misaligned or of an incompatible geometry, the current flow will be detectably less than the expected, optimal value for the head identified by the driver -and a warning beep will be emitted.

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