Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The giant magnetic door catch

My door to the garage is big and heavy, and is the only door used. Any door catch cannot stand the repetitive impact due to carelessness of the kids. Also the door must be easily kept open to unload the grocery. My wife came up with the idea of magnetic catch. I went on to make one but it was rather poor until now.

You need powerful magnets such as those greater than 1 inch long, about 1/2 inch wide and 1/8 thick, available in many hardware stores, rather cheap. You need a few to stack up for power and more importantly, to adjust to suit the space between the door and the wall.

You need two different metal plates, such as those used for building decks from hardware stores. The right ones need a great force to be removed from powerful magnets above.

The larger or bigger steel plate is to be mounted to the wall, the smaller thinner one on the door. Just put the magnets on the steel plates and they can hold the door open. When you close the door, the magnets will stay with the thicker plate on the wall. That's the law of physics.

That's it. There's no need to mount anything except for screwing the plates into the wall and door. Both the door and the wall are protected by armored plates. The catch area is as big as the plates.

The fancy stuff.

You can decrease the magnet and plate size or increase the force and catch distance by mounting the wall plate at an angle. The angle is to ensure that when the door is fully open, the magnets are the door are in parallel, when the magnetic force are greatest. This can be simply done by putting something under the wall plate on one side, or a soft wooden wedge for clamping and spacing filling.

You can also put some pad materials to soften the impact and reduce noise.

Of course you can mount and fix the magnets, and use angled plates.

No pictures because the first excellent version is ugly.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The future of goods and services

Your local shops are selling you things that they can survive on, not what you really need. The discrepancy is getting bigger and bigger. I get my electric toothbrushes and replacement heads from the net, cheaper and more choices.

Many goods in Target can be replaced by online purchase. Indeed I find more things that I need that is sold by Target online only, than sold at stores only.

Local stores can survive by a few things, customization, touch and feel, and knowledge. Apparel stores are doing well but once you can try on clothes by your online clone, and view yourself in all 360 degrees at home, a lot of people will stay at home instead. Lands-end had it but it was too primitive to be useful. The colors are not even accurate.

Touch and feel can't be replaced, but hardly any goods need that. And if you provide that, you risk become free demo for other online businesses.

People don't like car salesperson, but can't do without car mechanics. You go to a garage because you don't know how to do it, so you buy parts and labor from them.

For the future of goods and services, we can looking at the most expensive personal items, the house and the car. Home Depot is actually selling you knowledge, you buy from them tools and items that are designed for doing it yourself. If you don't mind things that are not completely flat and straight, you can pave your whole yard and build walls without any experience.

The high labor cost is killing the service industry such as plumbing. In many cities it's hard to find a plumber because they cannot afford to live there. You can use cowboys but there's no guarantee. To protect consumers and to protect skill labors, there are many red tapes, and a lot goes to insurance. It's crazy to find a plumber to do a job for you. If you buy all the tools and parts you only pay for a fraction of the cost for calling out a plumber.

Even the car mechanics are not safe. Local mechanics are charging an arm and a leg. But they could be forcing people to drive to Mexico for big services. It started many years ago now. If you plug a scanner into your car, you know what went wrong and what need to be replaced. Mechanics kept saying that the codes don't tell you anything and insists to charge you $40 to $100 for the diagnostics. But do you believe that the many error codes are designed to tell you something? At least they are designed for dumb mechanics.

For simple things such as fluid flush and oil change, you can drive a bit to find cheap labor, or do it yourself. You can find all sort of manuals leaked on the net - the knowledge. For diagnostics, you can do it more reliably than dumb mechanics, and replace parts yourself. It's much cheaper to get parts online, and many old cars are still supported with OEM parts.

Even car wash is a rip-off. If you want the brand new car with deep waxy look, it's hard to say. But for most people, manufacturers should use easy wash paints, available many years ago as options. These surfaces do not need waxing for 5 years. But I think most paints hardly need any waxing and special body wash. I have been using auto car wash for years. After apply "conditioner " and rinse off, no drying is necessary. Even if you go for hand wash, the chemicals are the same. The difference is that they have cheap labors holding the brush in additional to the pressure wash. And they have people to pad dry the car.

Now I tried the dry organic wash and it works fine, almost as good as auto car wash, but better because it's a hand wash. If you wash your car every week or every other week, it is just a matter of wiping the dirt off with a cloth, and then dump the cloth into the washing machine. It also works if you car is dirty. But if your car is all dirty, it's simpler go to an auto car wash, or leave it in the rain.

Also the wheels. I spray it with biodegradable detergent and leave it for one minute. Then I wipe it off with a cloth and a bucket of water. It's dirty work but just 4 wheels. And your wheels will be cleaner than any auto or hand wash joint.

My old neighbor, a classic car enthusiastic, use only a bucket of water to wash the whole car. But I think his cars are very clean. I always want to wash my own cars, if only to avoid the hassle to go to the auto wash. But the dirt water goes directly to the beaches here, if they don't get to my plants first. Now it's "dry" wash for the body and one bucket of water for the wheels. I can even do it inside the comfort of my own garage!