#2805: SpanShield

Scotland and many other Northern countries have a real problem with their tall bridges.

Ice forms on the high structures and then falls on vehicles below. This has caused the new Queensferry bridge to close several times and caused a huge amount of costly disruption and embarrassment.

Here is the invention I propose. It’s not rocket science, or clever technology…it’s a roof.

I calculate that there would be a one-off charge of about £200k to provide the entire road area with a sloping, transparent roof made of eg acrylic sheet.

This would simply shed any ice or snow effectively into the Firth of Forth. It would require only low-level, rapid installation, minimal maintenance, could be designed to be aerodynamic, so that vibration and wind noise need not be a problem and would neither deface the bridge nor be oppressive to motorists.

I just received this response from Bear Scotland:

Unfortunately however, bridges are particularly susceptible to wind loading and as such, the increased loading from a canopy, could not be accommodated by the structure.

So we can be pretty clear that these guys won’t achieve a solution.

#2804: DustDriver

Today’s invention is a speaker which is embodied in the vacuum cleaner of the future.

In use, this machine will play a recording to sound like the engine of eg a Formula 1 Ferrari.

As you drive the cleaner forward, it is exactly coordinated with the noise of a car accelerating forward.

This might have the additional benefit that males will choose to do more housework.

#2803: Combustellation

One of the problems with internal combustion engines is that it’s hard to get the fuel/air mixture in a cylinder to burn evenly.

In spark ignition systems, the ignition is finely timed but very localised. In a compression ignition (eg diesel) system, it’s harder to control the spatial/temporal distribution of the burn, although it does tend to be a more gradual process (which avoids ‘knock).

Today’s invention is to add a tiny amount of extra friction to the relative motion of piston and cylinder.

Using strips of eg carbon steel on the piston as shown (green), and a cup-shaped piston crown, will generate a gradually increasing shower of tiny sparks as the piston rises on the compression stroke.

This allows a more gradual and spatially-spread burn, but also makes that repeatable from cycle to cycle.

The friction strips could be made easily changeable every few thousand miles or they could continuously be fed along the interior cylinder wall (red).

#2802: Bushine

It costs my Council millions to buy stainless steel lamp-posts. They do this partly because the cost of using the conventional steel ones is heightened by the need to be constantly repainting them.

Today’s invention offers a simple alternative.

In areas which have trees, why not just mount street lights on the trunks of those trees?

They would be no darker than with the current low voltage lamps and there would be limited maintenance costs associated with the odd broken branch.

#2801: CheeseSqueezer

If you have a plague of domestic mice, then catching them humanely and walking them to a safe new home around the corner is not an option.

Today’s invention is a new multi-kill mousetrap which is powered by a mouse.

1. A mouse is attracted to the cheese (orange) placed beside the exercise wheel (pink) in a box. He runs on this for a while and a gear train (dark blue) allows the wheel and platform to rack-and-pinion (pale blue) its way upward.

2. As the platform rises, other mice can wander in towards a second piece of cheese on the floor of the box.

At a certain height, a catch is released, allowing the platform to fall down on whatever mice are below.

The whole system is ready to run again at once, assuming occasional removal of dead mice and replenishment of bait.

#2800: Puzzlevel

Once again my irrational jigsaw dislike surfaces.

One of my main objections is that jigsaws, when completed, look like a picture covered in black squiggly lines.

Various techniques now exist for cutting hard substances with very high precision (such as laser cutting or wire EDM).

Jigsaw makers are such skinflints that they are happy selling nothing but cardboard crap.

Today’s invention is to create jigsaws in something like metal sheet, so that when completed, the fit between pieces is so good that no seams can be seen.

#2799: ExtraTime

Today’s invention is to have a quartz watch which lasts n times longer than usual, so that there is a lessened tendency to throw a perfectly good watch away.

It would have space in the casing for n normal cells.

In addition, circuitry would detect when the current cell was running down and switch to using a fresh one.

#2798: Stockstill

When a handgun is being fired, the hammer strikes the bullet casing which is higher than the handgrip. This results in a slight torque which causes the barrel of the weapon to point downwards, very slightly off target, before the powder ignites.

Today’s invention is a way to overcome this source of inaccuracy.

Here the trigger (red) is located above the barrel (green), so that when the hammer (blue) strikes, its action is directly in line with the centre of gripping forces, lessening the above effect.

#2797: LowerTowers

Today’s invention is to equip future aircraft carriers with towers which can be withdrawn beneath the flight deck.

Just as in Gerry Anderson’s Marineville, when the vessel is under attack, all of those huge windows of the bridge and flight control room descend beneath the armoured deck, or at least leave only slit windows exposed.

Moving these towers up and down could be achieved using lifts of the type already used to move aircraft below deck.

#2796: Cafilter

I use a cafetiere to make strong coffee.

Sometimes the pressure developed when plunging the filter is really too high for safety.

Today’s invention is a low-cost, pressure-regulating cafetiere filter.

There is a seal unit (red) and a fine mesh (blue), as usual.

In addition, we have two steel discs with radial segments removed from each (pink and green). Turning the pink relative to the green, exposes more or less area for the coffee to flow through.

When pressing down on the pink sphere, if it stops moving down, rotate the sphere about the vertical axis. This will spin the pink disc relative to the green disk (which is in contact with the coffee grounds).

This relieves the pressure and caffeination can continue.