Sunday, 19 August 2018

Warwickshire Avon - Prototypes and Pramfaces

I’ve never really been happy with the isotope or chemical light holder options available in the market for rod tops. The biggest issue is because they are a little fiddly to fit I tend to fix them permanently in place and when using rod top protectors which are removed and refitted frequently, they are not that robust and don’t stay in place very long. The large starlite clip slow below was about the best I've used but wasn’t cheap at a quid a pop.

A decent isotope isn’t cheap either, so can be costly to lose so I do like to stick with the chemical light option more often than not.

They are more visible obviously and someone whose eyes wander away from the rod tip they are easier to see in ones peripheral vision. Not only that but they are relatively cheap to buy and available in various colours.

Now some larger glowsticks were in evident at the Gatecrasher Outside Gig yesterday in the Cathedral ruins in good old Coventry, I haven't been to town in ages and couldn't believe how much it's changed, the event was great, all the old skool tunes and in a nice setting, shame some of the surroundings are as rundown as ever but then thank the Luftwaffe for lots of that.

Anyway, back on track....

So why design my own more suited to my needs and requirements, something easier to fit, easier to remove and maybe a holder that could accept 2 chemical lights rather than just one.

Now a recent innovation project for a client I’m working with I designed some parts that used neodymium magnets for part retention.Neodymium magnets are the most powerful of all permanent magnets. They are often known as “Super Magnets”. They are used in applications where the strongest magnetic force is required from the smallest possible volume of magnet material. 

Even small neodymium magnets have a surprising amount of magnetic force and they are capable of lifting in excess of 1,000 times their own weight. A neodymium disc magnet weighing only 2 grams can lift a steel block weighing over 2,000 grams!

They emit deep magnetic fields to attract ferrous items and other magnets from impressive distances. Two neodymium disc magnets 10mm diameter and 5mm thick can attract each other and hold in place, through the thickness of a human finger.

This is why so many neodymium magnets are used by magicians for magic tricks and illusions. Having now thousands of hours designing parts of CAD, designs can be knocked up in a lunchtime and with the vast amount of 3D printing firms out there after your business, costs are coming down all the time.

For instance the first hit I did was a design to accept a single isotope and was ultra-compact with 4 disc magnets used for retention only cost £8 and that was including postage and package. 

Back in the late 90’s when I was working in an automotive design studio in Gaydon I could send parts direct from my CAD workstation to a wax printer and realise a part in 3D rather than just looking at it on a screen. The advancements since those early days have been significant. 

Not just the type of printing available but the choice of material which are now available, from resins to plastics and metals which gives the engineer a much wider choice engineering properties to suit the application.

Not only that but websites such as 3D Hubs are available which couldn’t be more user friendly, they are the world's largest network of manufacturing services, and the platform offers 3D printing, CNC Machining, and Injection Moulding and operates a network of over 7000 manufacturing partners.

By uploading data via their website you can get quotes within seconds of upload and interrogation of the data is done online to check suitability of the part for printing or manufacture.  

So the first hit wasn’t quite right for a few reasons so it was a complete redesign for the second hit,the magnets worked well, and that was encouraging.

The new design though I made it larger to accept two chemical lights and use larger rectangular magnets 20x6x1.5mm in size which had a convenient super-strong 3M 468 adhesive with easy-peel backing. 

Because of the power of the magnets the tape needs at least 24 hours to cure before the magnets is operated as intended.

A small but strong magnet like that can support a steel weight of up to 1.6kg vertically from the magnetic face when in flush contact with a mild steel surface so once secured on the rod should hold firm under a cast unless you go all out Ali Hamidi. 

I wanted to be able to store the parts and fit them only when needed, so larger and stronger magnets, a dowel feature for location and the fact the part is in two halves and effectively a clamp around the chemical lights ‘should ‘ make the assy pretty secure and self-locating under the strong magnetic force. 

But then that’s what prototyping is all about, you rarely get a design right first time, there are always small tweaks here and there to improve the design, or it might highlight an issue that would mean a complete redesign altogether. I had the second round of parts printed in a translucent blue colour that would complement the blue 4.5mm X 40mm chemical lights I intended to use. 

Then I had another idea which maybe be used for a new development altogether is the use of electroluminescent wire (often abbreviated as EL wire), it’s a thin copper wire coated in a phosphor which glows when an alternating current is applied to it. It can be used in a wide variety of applications, vehicle and structure decoration, safety and emergency lighting, toys, clubbing clothing etc.

There are EL tapes available also but they are relatively stiff and you couldn’t really wrap it round a rod tip for example as it wouldn’t be flexible enough, but the wire could attached to the existing painted rod top.

In the automotive the industry I work for example, EL wire is is used to dress up interior clay model property to simulate ambient lightning without the expense.

Unlike these types of strand lights, EL wire is not a series of points, but produces a 360 degree unbroken line of visible light. Its thin diameter makes it flexible and can be cut to any length desired and easily secured to the whole of the rod top with only a power supply being needed to operate it.

That is the biggest issue as the power supply effects overall package. An EL Driver is needed you see and that technically ‘Inverts’ the DC current from the batteries to the AC current that makes the phosphor in the electroluminescent wire glow.

I found a small portable EL Driver 4.3cm x 2.1cm x 0.9cm which runs off a single CR2032 battery which looked ideal as it could be permanently secured to the rod.

As its rather unobtrusive I could design a dock to fit on the rod tip and the driver could be fitted or removed as and when required.

And that's exactly what I did, so the design shown above is a little like the Tankara rod easy keepers or pole cups that use rubber bands for grip and retention but are easily removed.

The beauty of EL wire is that in a light environment it doesn’t offer that much light, but Zander fishing at night it offers just the right amount of luminance.

Now those parts haven't arrived yet so for the moment the battery is sellotaped on in place, and as you see with the picture on the left the wire is temporarily in situ as well. Maybe some heat shrink is the way forward, well if's a goer that is.

You seem enough of the ambling, for a future session, and you know how I like to plan this things, I need to try out the 2nd round of prototyping and get down to an area of the Warwickshire Avon to try it in service so to speak.

I cannot fish in to dark but if I want to catch a Barbel at dusk I could think of no other stretch I fish that they would potentially be biting.

So I need to get a proper short session to try them out, so the plan is to fish only one swim which is not like me. So I'd set the stall out two rods, one a meat bait, the other a krill wafter, I was hoping I'd get a bend in the rod.

Watch this space...


  1. I always end up just taping a glow stick to the rod - which does occasionally snag the line. Like the look of both of these - let us know when you need beta testers :-)

    1. I'm on a different design altogether now :) but yeah when I get it 'right' well in my eyes anyway, I might send a couple out for in-field testing.

  2. Really interesting stuff Mick. Great read.
    If you want to test them into dark proper, gimme a shout and we can sort something out I'm sure.

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