#2819: PillowPile

It’s painful to watch remote controlled aircraft when they make a bad landing.

It might be pilot nerves or just a sudden gust of wind, but these planes are costly to repair and it can also be dangerous for spectators if they crash onto a runway and bounce randomly.

Today’s invention is a new kind of landing strip for RC pilots who realise they are in trouble or for novices who just want a softer landing.

It takes the form of a large roll of ‘carpet’, placed on the tarmac landing surface (it might also enable landings to safely occur on eg stone covered strips, otherwise unsuitable for model planes).

The carpet would have a pile more like very long, springy grass, so that planes could collide with it and safely come to rest without sudden deceleration.

(I wonder if this might also work as a new form of F1 sand trap, slowing race cars and limiting the danger to drivers if they invert at great speed. It would also prove useful to drone pilots making movies where the ground is unforgiving)

#2815: Posytioner

Today’s invention is a grid (shown in red) which can be moulded into the base of a vase or as a transparent plastic insert.

This allows long-stemmed flowers to be much more easily located, so that they stay put in attractive arrangements.

Without this device, the stems tend to slide to the outer edge of the base, which results in a central gap among the flower heads.

#2811: Accelink

Tank tracks are very heavy and moving them about at speed is costly.

Today’s invention aims to reduce the weight of a tank’s tracks by almost 50%.

At any instant, the tank wheels stand on tracks in contact with the ground as normal.

As a track link rises past the rear idler wheel, it disconnects and is accelerated along a track (blue) from there to the drive sprocket at the front. There, it couples itself, in the manner of a train carriage, to the link which is just about to leave the sprocket.

In this way, there is only ever one track link on the top half of the track.

#2809: SharkSheath

It seems that shark repellent technology is not very effective.

Today’s invention offers some additional safety for surfers.

It consists of a buoyant, carbon fibre surfboard which is made of two layers (blue and pink). Between these, are two fold-out sides as shown in section on the left. (This operates like a fold up shopping crate).

When a surfer sees a threatening shark, he or she opens the box (A) and clambers into the space. This acts as a shark cage.

The cage floats on the surface until a rescue by boat can be effected.

#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.

#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.

#2794: HelicoptAir

It seems that drying cherry orchards is an activity that can really only be done by hovering a helicopter overhead.

Today’s invention uses the same idea, except that it’s applied to the important business of commercial marquees.

When you hire a big tent, a part of the cost has to cover the work involved in avoiding loading it into a truck whilst wet.

Today’s invention is therefore to use a large remote control helicopter to fly a number of programmed passes over any such rental tent, in order to dry it out before packing and transporting.

The UAV downdraft might be supplemented by having a small hot air balloon gas bottle and burner aboard so that the air flow could be heated.

#2791: ShiftSkin

High speed cars often have rear wings to create downforce in the corners.

Inevitably these generate huge amounts of speed-limiting drag in the straights.

One way to deal with this is to fit a flip up wing, which may go from closed to open at a given speed, but is otherwise not very ‘smart’.

Today’s invention aims to offer a high level of downforce, whilst limiting the amount of associated drag.

The wing shown would consist of two main pieces, so closely spaced that almost no air flows between them. The air flowing over the outside is kept attached, thus shedding minimal vortices and lessening drag, by having the surfaces move (backwards on both because they are actually two, independently-driven tracks).

The speed relative to the car might occasionally have to be 200mph, but that is do-able with eg carbon fibre mats.

As well as having the overall wing angle automatically determined, from moment to moment, the speeds of the two surfaces would be chosen so as to give the optimal combination of drag and downforce anywhere on the track.

#2784: Gradation

Today’s invention is a climbing practice wall which has a programmable set of hand and footholds.

Each hold is a step which can slide inwards, to leave no protrusion, or outwards to make climbing easy.

The steps would be driven perhaps hydraulically from a central control board, making for a huge range of different routes and levels of difficulty on a single surface.

#2783: EjecTub

When fighter jet pilots eject, they usually have to do so by firing a detonation cord in the canopy that blows a hole in it -milliseconds before the ejector seat blasts them clear of the aircraft.

Today’s invention is a modification of this scheme. When flying over water, the canopy, which would be specially reinforced, is jettisoned in one piece and attached to the pilot’s seat by a long cable.

When the pilot splashes down, he or she now has a small, transparent life raft to get aboard.

It might even be possible to have this incorporate a small motor and propellor.