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    BioLite HeadLamp 30-Day Review

    by Edrick Deery

    Core77 asked me to review BioLite's HeadLamp because I wear a headlamp every single day. Not just when I'm camping or spelunking; I live out in the country and walk my dogs in the woods every night. I wear a headlamp when I'm repairing something in a dimly lit area, tackling a property maintenance task that I could only get to after dark because of my schedule, and at the end of the night, when I'm reading in bed.

    Because of my headlamp-heavy lifestyle I own multiple kinds, from a low-end $4 Harbor Freight unit (cheap enough to buy multiples and stash in various areas for emergencies), a mid-range $100 Black Diamond Icon that's fairly versatile, to a high-end $175 Petzl Duo for spelunking. The reason I own so many is because each one works well for a specific purpose.

    After using BioLite's HeadLamp every day for a month in a variety of conditions, I've concluded that their designers took a different approach. Instead of designing a broad portfolio of headlamps each intended for a specific purpose, they put their heads together and built one really good one. It's compact, comfortable, has an array of different lighting options, provides great quality light, is easy to use, and has good battery life. But overall, it's really the thoughtful design that has made this my favorite headlamp to date.

    Here's my breakdown:

    Light

    There are five different lighting modes: Spot, flood, spot/flood combo, strobe, and red. The color temperature of the LED--a stat that I couldn't find on the fact sheet--looks just right to my eyes on the color spectrum; it's not overly yellow like a "soft white" incandescent, yet it's not harsh and lifeless like daylight-rated bulbs.

    The spot, flood, and combo modes can all be dimmed by holding the mode button down, which smoothly fades the light dimmer or brighter to achieve the perfect level of lighting for your situation. When you're adjusting the brightness of the light, the light 'blinks' once to identify when the light is at its dimmest or brightest setting. Brilliant!

    Another of my favorite features is that the headlamp retains the dimmer setting when you turn it on/off. If that sounds like a rudimentary feature, I should point out that even high-end headlamps that cost twice as much as the HeadLamp omit that feature. It's that kind of attention to detail that has BioLite's winning me over.

    The floodlight puts out 130 lumens, the spotlight, 200. Combo mode provides, you guessed it, 330 lumens! BioLite claims that the floodlight and spotlight reach distances of 50 and 250 feet, respectively. After testing, I feel that's accurate. The floodlight on its brightest setting puts out more than enough light for walking through the woods at night or doing chores outside the house after dark with no external lights turned on. I typically dim the floodlight to about 50%, which provides adequate light and helps preserve battery power. When I'm doing very detailed work in the dark – like, inspecting a car engine that doesn't have an under-hood light or trying to find a small bolt that I dropped in a gravel driveway--the floodlight at 100% brightness is more suitable. When I want to light up a large outdoor area, like a one acre field, the combo spotlight/floodlight at 100% brightness accomplishes the mission. It's truly impressive how much light is projected considering the HeadLamp's compact form factor.

    Ergonomics

    This is where the HeadLamp really pulls ahead of the competition.

    The lighting elements are enclosed in an adjustable bezel that when fully recessed, throws light straight ahead. The bezel can also be tipped down to light up the area directly in front of you. There are four different angles that the bezel can be set at to project light to your preferred distance. Most headlamps I've used allow you to adjust the direction of the light up or down. However, there are two common problems with that: Either it takes two hands to adjust the angle of the light up or down, or once it's adjusted, normal activity like walking or running causes the adjustment to fall out of place. The HeadLamp has neither of those issues. It's easy to adjust the direction of the beam with only one hand. And once it's set, it stays securely in place when you're active.

    Here's another area where the HeadLamp surpasses others: The lighting module is extremely thin and compact, yet sturdy and embedded within the strap itself. There is no bulky, dangling lighting pod that bounces around with every step you take. The battery pack, compact and curved, sits comfortably against the back of your head. But what's most impressive in terms of comfort is the headlamp's light weight--just 69 grams (2.4 ounces).

    A portion of the wiring that runs from the lighting element to the battery pack is embedded in the strap itself. This provides a more sleek appearance, if that matters to you. The strap is adjustable and comfortable, and features a reflective strip over the battery compartment.

    The small ridge on the top of the bezel around the LEDs makes the direction of the light easy to adjust, and also prevents the on/off/mode button from accidentally getting pressed. Simple. Effective. I've tossed the BioLite HeadLamp in a backpack with a bunch of stuff bouncing against it, carried it around in my pockets, and regularly tossed it on tables and floors - not once has the light turned on accidentally.

    My only complaint is how small the on/off/mode button is. If it were bigger, it would take less precision to press, a helpful feature when you're wearing gloves. Then again, a bigger button might make accidental activation more likely, so I suppose it's a sensible trade off.

    Battery

    The BioLite HeadLamp has a 900mAh rechargeable, but not replaceable, lithium ion battery in a sealed compartment. Fortunately, rechargeable lithium ion batteries tend to last for hundreds of charging cycles. BioLite claims that at full brightness (i.e. combo mode, putting out 330 lumens) the battery will last 1.29 hours. At 50% brightness you should expect 2.87 hours of life. And at 10% brightness, usable light is expected to be available for 14.11 hours.

    I only found full brightness necessary when I wanted to light up an acre or more of a field. For most activities, I only needed the floodlight at 50% brightness (about 60 lumens). I used it daily for an average of 30 minutes at a time, and went 14 days before I needed to recharge the battery. Charging the battery from zero to 100% charge took approximately 2 hours using a common 2.1 amp USB charger. (Because the HeadLamp can only accept up to a 500 mA power source, that high-powered fast-charger that came with your new cell phone should not be used.)

    The rubber cover over the micro-USB charging port keeps the elements out and contributes to an IPX-4 rating against light rain or splashes. I used the headlamp in the rain several times without issue.

    Ease of Use

    While other headlamps require memorizing non-intuitive sequences, HeadLamp's one button is simple and intuitive: A single push is on/off; consecutive pushes cycles through the five lighting modes; and holding the button down fades the brightness.

    Another welcome feature is a tiny LED battery level indicator right next to the micro USB charging port. The indicator light comes on automatically when you turn on the headlamp, and turns itself off a few seconds later to conserve power. The battery level indicator also lights up during charging, so it's easy to know where you are on the charging cycle.

    Conclusion

    The BioLite HeadLamp checks all the boxes for me. It's comfortable, bright, feature-rich yet uncomplicated. I'm happy with the battery life. And frankly, it's less dorky looking than all my other headlamps. Since I started using it, there hasn't been one situation where a different headlamp would have been better suited for my needs. And in the end, that's really what it comes down to: Having the right tool for the job. In this case, the fact that it's one tool in place of five makes it a winner for me.

    (Note: That's not me, it's a press photo.)

    ______________________________

    Edrick Deery is a tech strategist and hobby farmer in central Virginia.



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    One thing every furniture maker needs is a wooden mallet, and there are plenty on the market to choose from. But Crucible Tool, the hand tool company started by John Hoffman, Raney Nelson and Christopher Schwarz, decided to produce a steel-headed mallet based on an old British design. You'd think furniture makers would prefer to stick with wooden mallets--but the first batch of Crucible's Lump Hammers sold out immediately.

    The company explains the genesis and utility of the design:

    The late, great furniture maker Alan Peters often said that one of his favorite tools was his "lump hammer," a British term for what Americans might call an engineer's hammer or a small sledge. Peters used his lump hammer for a remarkable range of operations, including knocking together dovetailed carcases and drawers.
    "The Crucible lump hammer weighs 2.5 lbs. overall with a 2.2 lb. head of 4140 alloy steel, hardened and tempered to Rc 28-32."
    Unlike a traditional wooden mallet, the lump hammer is compact, requires less effort to use and packs considerable punch – a great asset when you need it. Plus, unlike a wooden mallet, you'll never need to replace it.
    "It is 11-1/2" long overall with a head that is 1-1/2" x 1-1/2" x 4". Striking faces are smooth-ground at a 5-1/2" radius, and finished by hand. Made in the United States."

    Toolmaker Nelson has been hard at work producing a second batch, which Crucible has announced will be for sale today (Friday Sept. 28th) at noon, Eastern time. If you want one, you'd better be prompt--these are bound to go just as fast, if not faster, than the first batch. 

    They'll be available here.


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    This is a contract position with full-time potential. Maker’s Row is an online marketplace that connects American manufacturers with small, medium-sized, and product-based businesses. At Maker’s Row, you have the opportunity to sit at the intersection of modern manufacturing and innovative business technology. We are looking for

    View the full design job here

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    To us relatively wealthy Westerners, the obvious application for a cooler is camping. But for folks in developing nations who don't have access to refrigeration, having some means to keep food fresh is a crucial need, not a creature comfort.

    Enter the Fenik, a clever and biomimetic design for an electricity-free refrigerator. The flatpack device extends into the shape of a cooler. The sidewalls are made from a clever membrane based on the idea of human perspiration, whereby liquid transfers heat from inside to outside and evaporates. Take a look at how it works:

    Fenik, originally known as Evaptainers, started out as a student project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The purpose of the project was to develop a low-cost method of preserving fruits and vegetables in remote areas. The research culminated in the invention of the Yuma 60L, which achieves refrigeration through the use of smart materials and the phenomenon of evaporative cooling.
    …If you thought we spent the last 4 years developing a low-cost refrigerator for glampers, you're sorely mistaken! Over 1.2 billion people still lack access to electricity, and without electricity, any type of refrigeration. Our core mission is to help these families out of a tough spot by providing products that can improve their lives.
    We've already been working in throughout Morocco for the last 3 years, and are collaborating with USAID to conduct a large scale development project next summer.

    At press time the Kickstarter campaign for Fenik's Yuma 60-liter cooler was short of the mark, with $53,486 pledged towards a $70,000 goal. If you'd like to help them get across the finish line, there's still 14 days left to pledge. The Early Bird coolers are going for $120 a pop.


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    Having handpicked the heroes from the show floor at 100% Design, we now turn our attention to looking back on a handful of highlights from London Design Fair, Design Junction and Biodesign at London Design Festival 2018. So come with us on a whistle-stop tour, and don't forget your toothbrush.

    Usetool Toothbrush

    There's a small magnet in the neck of the toothbrush so you can store it handsomely and hygienically on the bathroom wall

    Having just eaten a sticky bun, we conveniently stumbled upon a stylish leap in toothbrushing design at the London Design Fair. Dubbed the Usetool Toothbrush it consists of a sonic wave toothbrush, sterilizer and magnetic wall-mountable holder. Flipping your toothbrush on its head and sitting it in the the sterilizer keeps your bristles in rude health. Created by exciting up-and-coming designer Jiyoun Kim, the sleek minimalist forms and magnetic wall storage certainly make it a desirable bathroom buddy.

    Made for the Usetool Company and launching in the US soon
    The sterilizer sits on a sleek wireless charger, with room for more
    Jiyoun Kim in his studio making sure every bristle lines up perfectly

    ecoBirdy

    The entire collection also includes the Container Kiwi bird-shaped storage and Rhino Lamp

    "Kids furniture" doesn't usually grab us by the pigtails with excitement, but ecoBirdy is a new range that was turning heads at the show, including ours. The striking exaggerated curves of the Chair Charlie and Table Luisa give the pieces an almost animated and animal-like character, made all the better in the knowledge that they're made from 100% recycled plastic. The bods at ecoBirdy even smartly separate the plastic waste by color, which means they can give each product distinctly striking look. Time to request some adult-sized versions.

    ecoBirdy has also started a school programme to raise awareness around plastic waste and recycling among kids
    All those curves mean serious knee-knocking and shin-smashing are out of the picture

    Taktil

    Some objects, like the felt creation (far right) are designed for simple sensory games - there's a single little pearl bead nestled in one of the folds that children have to feel for and find

    Another fascinating and child-focussed piece of design. This time to help children who have autism spectrum disorders. Paula Lorence is a talented graduate from the Riga School of Design and Art who has developed a set of beautiful and highly functional objects called Taktil that provide tactile sensory stimulation, designed to help autistic kids focus, overcome sensory sensitivities and soothes anxiety during therapy. Carefully selected materials and colors are used to make objects that are each individually crafted to carry out a specific functions or games. Currently a working concept Lorence is now looking to get support to help develop the product further.

    There are three collections of Taktil objects, each set tailored for children with different types of autism
    This collection consists of stress relievers with lots of pleasingly squeezable and highly tactile surfaces that happen to be sculpturally charming too

    Biodesign

    Jun Kamei is a Biomimicry Designer and Material Scientist and the brains behind Amphibio

    Easily the most mind-bending show at the London Design Festival, the Biodesign exhibition was a hive of live experiments and ideas associated with the exploration of designing new biological concepts. From growing sustainable mycelium based objects, to detecting DNA in your food at home, there was heaps of high-level thinking going on, and one particular out-there project ignited our imagination when we saw the working prototype in the flesh for the first time. Amphibio, a 3D printed amphibious concept garment that lets you breath underwater. How does it work? Well… "The gill accessory is 3D-printed from a microporous hydrophobic material, which supports sub-aqua breathing by extracting oxygen from the surrounding water and dissipating the carbon dioxide that accumulates in the system." Simple.

    Designer Sinae Kim was displaying her collection of ceramics which are glazed with minerals extracted from human urine, dubbed Urine Ware
    Minima is a home DNA kit for your kitchen that uses biotechnology to help people with specific diets or folks just curious about their food to better understand what they're eating
    The team at Mycterials are creating sustainable fungal biomaterials using synthetic biology, engineering and design

    Childhood Series

    The entire Childhood Series furniture collection (or playground). Designer: Wanghe Studio

    Despite the name, Wanghe Studio'sChildhood Series is aimed squarely at adults and wants you to go play. Whether that means swinging on the rocking stool or skidding the skateboard inspired clothes rack into a corner. Designed for small apartments, each piece either has a small footprint or is intended for dual use, like the Marshmallow Sofa with its integrated and detachable side tables.

    Kel lamp

    Simply roll your hand up and down the oak dowels until you're happy with your abstract light pattern

    It's playtime again as new designer Georgina Heighton aims to give us a casual excuse to engage in some spontaneous physical play "with no questioning or judgement" with her Kel Lamp. What's lovely about Heighton's creation is that it's pretty effortless to lose yourself in the satisfying motion of rolling a simple bundle of oak dowels up and down and creating all sorts of patterns of light. As with the Pluck & Hug light, there's certainly no shame in taking a minute to let a little ray of spontaneous light into your life.


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    I built an electric skateboard for my cat to ride. Put a treat into the throttle lever, and she pulls it to get a snack and a boost!

    View the full project here

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    Want to help out at this year's Core77 Conference? We're looking for a few volunteers to lend a hand throughout the day! 

    The 2018 Core77 Conference, "Now What? Launching & Growing Your Creative Business" takes place on October 25th in Brooklyn at A/D/O and will focus on providing attendees with tangible skills and toolkits to help them produce, finance and promote their products, their services, and themselves.

    Applying for a chance to volunteer is easy—simply sign up via our via the link below, and we'll get back to you within a few days of applying. Please note that volunteers must be able to be in Brooklyn on October 25th to qualify.

    Volunteer for the 2018 Core77 Conference here


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    Overview Welcome to the largest health ecosystem in Colorado and western Kansas. Welcome to living your mission among thousands of people on fire to live theirs too. Welcome to options, possibilities and values that guide exceptional care. Welcome to extremely important industry challenges and opportunities to solve complex problems. Welcome

    View the full design job here

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    In the past we showed you how this guy used golf balls as ergonomic handles for his drill press

    Now the same chap, who goes by Pocket83 on YouTube, has combined two of his favorite things--"golf balls and PVC"--to create another Wilson-based ergonomic hack. After getting tired of needing both hands to work a fiddly clasp for a door, he came up with this ingenious door latch:


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    ID students: Now that the semester's in full swing, you're hopefully covered in blue foam dust from executing projects in the shop. And while all of you are learning to use existing tools, eventually you'll run into a problem they can't solve, and you'll have to design and build your own tools. This can be something as simple as a jig or moderate hack that makes an existing tool easier to use for your application.

    Here's an excellent example of this. Let's say that you need to cut vinyl tubing for a prototype. Sure, you can hack into it with any number of bladed tools from the shop's tool room, but you need perfect cuts, both across the tube and lengthwise. 

    That's when you'd give it some thought, scrounge around for some cheap materials, and come up with something like this:

    This was done by Pocket83, and he's provided a free template of the first cutter here.



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    In this age of surface flash, we're glad to see the Core77 reader is still interested in nuts-and-bolts industrial design. This is evinced by the fact that our slideshow of the previously-unseen prototypes of Belkin's TrueClear Pro is drawing a lot of eyeballs.

    While we were at Belkin's HQ, we asked four of them, including the VP of Design: What made you want to become an industrial designer in the first place? And how did you get to where you are now? Here are their tales.

    Beree Cox, Senior Industrial Designer

    Core77: What made you want to become an industrial designer?

    Beree: I always knew I wanted to create things, and that started when my grandmother purchased for me my very first set of Legos. With that set of Legos I didn't make what was on the box--I just took out all the pieces and made whatever I wanted. I was in love with Legos from that first day, and I've been making things ever since. I just had this innate passion to make things, and then make them the way I thought they should be made.

    Where did you go to school, and how did you get to where you are now?

    I graduated from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, and before that, Pasadena City College. That's a pretty typical path--you build up your skill level [at PCC] and then pray you get into Art Center. While I was there, luckily I got an internship here at Belkin [years before coming on as an employee], gaining a lot of good inspiration and mentors. Mitch was actually part of that group, so with their help I was able get a portfolio and get into Art Center.

    After graduating, I had a multitude of design jobs across many different industries: Aftermarket automotive bodywork, aircraft cabin interiors, outdoor furniture, faucets.

    Now I'm back at Belkin, and I've been here for two and a half years.

    __________

    Mitchell Suckle, Design Director

    Same question we just asked Beree, what made you want to get into ID?

    Mitch: Similar to Beree, as a kid wanted to make things, build things, create things. In high school I was really interested in architecture, but I was drawing motorcycles on the weekends. I actually lucked out quite a bit because my mom got me an outside counselor, since my high school's internal guidance counselor had several hundred kids and, you know, didn't care that much. This outside counselor had me tested for architecture and this thing called "industrial design," and I was like "Well, what's that?" That's when I started looking into it.

     

    Where did you go to school, and how did you get to where you are now?

    I went to California State University Long Beach for Industrial Design. I was one of the few that signed up for ID and stayed for ID--a lot of people I knew started in Engineering or Architecture, then saw ID and wanted to change into it.

    I graduated from CSULB, then went to work for Nectar, a local consultancy, for several years. I worked with one of the guys that I went to school with, and he [subsequently] started the design department at Belkin. I started working on Belkin projects while I was at Nectar, as they were one of Nectar's clients, and then I eventually moved to Belkin. I've been here for sixteen years now.

    ________

    David Kleeman, Director of Mechanical Engineering

    (Note: Though David's technically an engineer, I swear he's a good guy and "one of us." We have an in-depth interview with him here.)

    What's your educational background?

    A degree in Mechanical Engineering from UCSB. I've been doing this for twenty-something years.

    What made you become an engineer?

    I wanted to make fighter jets. My uncle was in that business. I got into aerospace and I started making spy satellites. It sounds amazing but it's really boring, for me anyway. The process is super long and takes forever, there's a lot of rules and all that stuff.

    How did you become interested in design?

    I discovered Eames chairs, then learned about the Eames' other work and the whole modern furniture world. That opened up the whole product design thing to me, which I wasn't even aware of in school. So I made a big transition, which is pretty difficult, to go from aerospace to product design. But, a long time ago this company took a chance on me, and one thing led to another and I ended up at Belkin. I've been here for 14 years.

    ______________

    Oliver Seil, Vice President of Design

    What made you want to become an industrial designer?

    It was kind of a journey. I grew up in Germany and when I was a young kid, I wanted to be a cameraman: "Oh, I want to be the guy that has the big camera and films things." I loved that. I then got into photography and worked as a photographer's assistant for a summer. I really, really liked doing that. But then I realized I was more into sort of hands-on creating things--I was very much into drawing, and making things, and taking things apart. A typical designer story.

    I started doing research into architecture, then through a detour learned that there is such a thing as industrial design, which I had never heard of--everybody has that story, right? When I discovered industrial design I was immediately infatuated with that concept. It was a love for understanding how things work, a deep interest in knowing the reasons for why things are the way they are, and the curiosity. That's how this all happened.

    And what was your path from Germany to California?

    I left Germany to go to Art Center College of Design here in Pasadena. Despite being raised in Germany, and spending some time in Switzerland before that, I feel very much like a Californian--I've been here so long that it's hard for me to call myself a European designer or something like that.

    What made you select Art Center?

    There's a very famous German designer called Rido Busse, and he has one of the largest German consultancies, Busse Design. Busse Design is in Ulm, which is where one of the Bauhauses was. That's where Dieter Rams went to school, and Rido Busse was actually a classmate of Dieter Rams.

    Rido started a design consultancy that became very well known in Germany. And my dad, through all kinds of circumstances knew Rido Busse, and I got to meet him. When I was 18 years old, he spent some time with me and I got to ask him some questions about industrial design. And he said, "What you need to do, young man, is go to Art Center College, but before you go to Art Center College, become a toolmaker."

    So that's what I did. I spent three and a half years becoming a tool and die maker in Germany, before then looking to attend Art Center. I went to Art Center in Switzerland, at the European campus by Lake Geneva for one semester--then the school closed down. Everybody was allowed to transfer, if they wanted, to Pasadena. That's exactly what happened to me.

    Were you happy to transfer from Switzerland to California?

    I was over the moon. Because previously I had spent two summer vacations here in Los Angeles, and thought "This is the greatest places I've ever been to. I never want to leave." And then it just all kind of fell into place, and I had a chance to come here, and never left. And now I'm in my 18th year at Belkin.


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    Company Description Join the thousands of innovators, advocates and forces who are making an impact every day at one of the biggest footwear brands in the world. Whether you love to connect with consumers on the retail floor or want to drive our award-winning powerhouse in new

    View the full design job here

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    Festool pioneered automated dust collection with power tools. Hook your tracksaw up to the vac, pull the trigger on the saw and the vacuum automatically kicks on.

    The gap in this system has always been with cordless tools. When drilling a series of holes into powdery sheetrock or creating chips with a Forstner bit, it would be handy to have the vacuum kick on when the drill does, without you having to walk back to the vac and turn it on manually each time.

    So now Festool has figured out how to do that via a retrofittable Bluetooth module. Users can choose to either switch the vac on using a button mounted on the business end of the hose, or they can spring for a Bluetooth-equipped battery that will trigger the vac automatically:

    The Bluetooth Module with the hose-mounted on/off button runs $80, while the Bluetooth-equipped 18-volt batteries run $125, which is $15 more than their standard battery.



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    The Somm Collection is a minimal, unisex timepiece that smells like wine because it's made real cork dyed with red or blueberry wine (the red and blue bands actually smell like wine!). This is the 5th wristwatch launched by Analog Watch Co., a Philadelphia-based creative studio that focuses on using natural materials, such as moss, marble, wood, flowers—and now wine and cork.

    View the full project here

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    Here on the farm, I'm in the process of clearing out a derelict shed. The previous two tenants left it loaded up with rusted tools, a broken tiller, cans of hardened paint, two bent shotgun barrels, an old bicycle, et cetera. This photo was after I cleared out about 75% of it. 

    Amidst the junk I found some usable hardware and tools, and it's fun trying to figure out what they do. Most recently I found a pair of these:

    These are dusty but brand-new, and if it's not obvious what they are, they're double-action hinges. Like what you would see installed on saloon doors, the kitchen door in a restaurant or a shop space. 

    These hinges were designed for a very particular use case. An auto-closing, double-swinging door that does not latch nor lock is only useful in a low-security situation where people will pass through the doors with both of their hands full. A utility shed, in an area remote enough that you're not worried about theft, is a perfect place to apply them. Here's how they're typically installed:

    This shed has no door, so at any given moment any of my chicken co-habitants can strut into the shed to leave me a nice, fragrant present. The previous tenants presumably purchased these hinges to install a door but never got around to it. So at some point I'll tackle it, and will probably document it here.

    If you're looking for double-action hinges yourself, you'll find they come in a variety of sizes, and you can get started here

    They're pretty pricey; I'm looking for a smaller set to build a lightweight dog-proof gate to my shop, and even the diminutive 2-inch models start around $40 a pop. If you've got a cheaper source, please sound off in the comments.


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    If you've got an unfinished ceiling like this, you need some way to safely raise panels up into position so that you can screw them in place. Earlier this year Frank Howarth created a DIY panel lift to help him do just that. 

    If you don't want to go the DIY route, big box stores sell and rent commercial versions like this:

    I'm sure they work, but they seem awfully fiddly and rickety to me. Also, getting a ladder in and around that thing's considerable footprint looks like a right pain in the ass.

    I wondered if anyone had invented an easier method of getting panels up to a ceiling. Poking around the internet, I found the UK-based Ceiling Board Hanger Co.:

    While the video's amateurish, the concept seems sound--and their system of relatively diminutive clamps and hooks would be a helluva lot easier to haul around to job sites.

    I do think the invention could use some attention from a proper industrial designer, but overall I call this a smart invention.

    The topmost photo in this entry is of the basement of the house I live in. I eventually need to finish that ceiling, so if I order a pair of these hangers I'll report back.


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    The IDSA conference is an annual affair bringing together a community of designers, educators, students and experts all connected by their commitment to the field of industrial design. The 2018 edition, reborn as the International Design Conference, represented a complete rethinking of this yearly tradition, where the organizers applied their design skills to redesign the whole experience. I'm happy to report that their efforts were a success, with many attendees commenting on how this was their favorite conference in many years. 

    Taking place in New Orleans, the organizers chose the Sugar Mill event space as a venue, a great indoor-outdoor venue which allowed them to include a variety of external vendors and experiences throughout the three days. The city of New Orleans of course offers a unique backdrop of history, culture, music and food that gave the conference organizers plenty of material to work with in terms of integrating a local flavor that provided a nice counter point to the professional design content being presented. 

    The conference kicked off on Wednesday night with the International Design Excellence Awards Ceremony & Gala at the National WWII Museum. The ceremony highlighted the international scope of the program, which this year saw a record breaking 1,872 entries. Debbie Millman served as the MC for the first day of the event, and her insightful questions and conversations with the presenters showed why her Design Matters podcast is such a success. On day two John Maeda took over the MC duties, bringing his dry wit and sense of community to the stage. 

    The morning speakers reminded the audience to retain a human element in their work (and their lives), leaving room for serendipity, and to strive to make improvements where and when they can. The overall emphasis was to keep the focus on the people using your product/service rather than the tech, and to carry this through to your own life as well. Afternoon 'Lightning Talks' were more project-focused, with designers presenting examples of notable achievements, trends and ideas. Each day ended with an uplifting keynote, which is always a good way to send the audience out. On Day One Gary Hustwit screened a few scenes from Rams, his upcoming documentary on legendary designer Dieter Rams, and on Day Two Nike provocateur Wilson W. Smith described his personal design process while working with top athletes worldwide over the past 30 years. 

    A still from Rams, the soon-to-be-released documentary on Dieter Rams, by film maker Gary Hustwitt

    The final day was devoted to design education element, including Student Merit Award winners, educator-of-the-year awards, and presentations on various aspects of contemporary design education. Eastman Innovation Lab continued in their generous support of this facet of the conference. 

    The changes implemented for this year's conference were welcome, and brought the whole experience of the event up quite a few notches, for the attendees, the sponsors and the presenters. As always, it is the people who gather at an event like this who really make it special, and the IDSA community is definitely going strong. For those of you who haven't been to an IDSA conference in a while, I recommend making your plans now for next year's event in Chicago.


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    We're going to have to create a new category of impractical but interesting design called "Bar Talk Prototypes." For when you're having beers with your buddies, and one of them says something like "Wouldn't it be cool if instead of using blinds, your window was filled with sand, and you could somehow fill and unfill the sand when you wanted the window blocked or clear?"

    One of you thinks it's neat but impossible, one of you says it's possible but not worth the hassle, and two of you outright tell your friend he's an idiot. Then he resolves to build the prototype just to shut you all up, like this:



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    Design problem: The most convenient place to store sandpaper sheets of different grits is on individual shelves. But in a shop populated by air compressors/dust collectors/fans, it's easy for the sheets to get blown all over the place.

    The solution: Ideally you'd have something to weight all of the sheets down, but individual paperweights would be a pain in the neck. So Izzy Swan came up with a clever way to have all of the different grit sheets weighted down by a single action/device, even if the stacks are of different heights. Here he shows you how he built it:

    Swan has also released free plans for the design here.



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    I'm no disaster prepper, but now that I live in a rural area with frequent blackouts I have multiple flashlights, each with backup batteries. Irritatingly, one of my flashlights takes CR123s, another takes 18650s and yet another takes AAAs. It gets pricey buying three sets of batteries.

    Panasonic's BF-BM10 flashlight is a much smarter design:

    Great for emergencies when power resources are short, this Any Battery Light by Panasonic works with almost any kind of electricity cell. The makers believe this flashlight is an industry-first, being able to run even on a single AAA battery, and working with all sizes from AAA to D batteries.
    Whether a 1.5V lithium battery, rechargeable cell, or standard Alkaline battery, the compact torch can always shine its LED beams. Just twist the front of the flashlight to switch between battery types. It is also waterproof in light rain and its design is compact and lightweight. Available in two colors, white or red.

    The BF-BM10 runs $42.


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