Posts Tagged ‘Design’

..is despicable.

They take clearly too little water.
They take it clearly too slowly.

They idle far too much at the beginning.
They idle far too much at the end.

They do not offer fast forward capability like mechanical machines did.
They do not show their current status like mechanical machines did.
They’re often broken like mechanical machines were.

They make it unclear which programs have pre-wash and which don’t.
They make everything else pretty unclear too, like what a particular button does.

An ideal washing machine:
Large intake hose (or two if it is a model that takes warm water too where district heating or wood heating is available). When the user presses start, the machine starts taking water at full speed at that precise microsecond, unless it is gauging the weight of the laundry.
Laundry weighing will be done in a few spins, after which water intake commences with no delay.
A display shows the state of the machine. At least the following states are displayable: pre-wash, wash, rinse, spin.
A fast forward mechanism moves the machine to the next state.
A stop mechanism stops the machine in any state.
After the laundry is spun, the machine can spin slowly and reverse a few times to unstick the clothes from the drum walls, but this can be stopped and the laundry removed from the drum immediately.
The spin is braked so it doesn’t take minutes to coast down.
The temperature of the wash can be changed even if the program or wash has already started without having to reset or flush.
The spin cycle can be enabled or disabled even if the program or spin has already started without having to reset or flush.
Extra water can be enabled in the middle of the program.
etc etc.

All this was possible with seventies mechanical logic industrial washing machines. Note that almost all of it is pure logic whose cost is pretty much exactly zero once you’ve developed it, and other things like large hoses are trivial improvements.

If you will use this specification when designing a washing machine, then send me a machine: I will test it and say what improvements still have to be made.

Read Full Post »

Here’s the technical information. It uses a piston engine to spin two smallish propellers. At first look it seems inefficient: the propellers are so small (diameter 1.7 ft so radius is 0.26 m) so the air mass flow is low and hence the velocity of the jet must be high, meaning high power needs for the thrust. (Mind you, it’s efficient compared to a peroxide rocket or a low bypass turbofan engine that have been used for jetpacks in the past.)

But let’s look closer. Engine specs. It’s a two stroke 2.0 liter V4 that produces about 150 HP at 6000 RPM and it weighs 60 kg. The quite high RPM means it produces quite high power.

If the engine spun at a lower speed, you could use bigger props, but the engine would produce less power.

If it spun at a higher speed, you could have higher power for little mass growth in the engine and then use a gearbox to still use the same size or even bigger props (if you geared it down further). But gearboxes are heavy, expensive and often unreliable.

6000 rpm is 100 Hz (rpm is a totally weird unit for spin rate anyway, why is it always used?). Speed of sound is 320 m/s. Hence at 100 Hz the supersonic radius would be 0.5 meters (100 1/s * 2 * 3.14 * 0.5 m  = 307 m/s). At the Martin Jetpack’s 0.25 m blade radius it’s about half the speed of sound. At the 7058 max RPM it’s 180 m/s or about 60% of Mach 1 – the transonic region should be easily avoided. Maybe they could be even slightly bigger.

It’s a compromise design. With the small props you can use relatively high engine speeds so your engine stays light – and you avoid a complex expensive failure-prone gearbox. The machine also stays safe as there is no free flailing propeller. With a larger propeller (or two) you would have to give up the shroud(s) since their weight would be prohibitive. On the other hand, fuel consumption would go down and hence the range could increase. It’s a fascinating design space.

Read Full Post »