5: Innovation and Inspiration

I got inspiration for my product partly from when my phone or tablet ran out of charge but there I also got inspiration from other products similar to mine. Below are some of the products I got inspiration from:

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Number one is a wind up flashlight that uses gears to make a gearbox. The gearbox is connected to a motor, which creates the electricity. The handle is turned to create electricity for the flashlight. Number two is a hand generator that charges batteries. It is very similar the number one because it also contains a gearbox, motor and a handle. Number three is a bicycle generator. It uses a pulley and a motor to create electricity. The user pedals while the back wheel is elevated. This one does not have a gearbox because it already creates a lot of energy.

The machine I was most inspired by was the wind up flashlight, number one, because I saw how easy it was to produce energy from it. The wind up flashlight contains a motor, a gearbox, a handle or lever, and an LED. Here is how the wind up flashlight works:

  • The input of energy is at the handle; the lever is winded round and round with the hand. The handle is designed so that consumers have to do less work. The longer the handle is, the more energy it can make with less input from the hand. If the handle were short, then it would take more input of energy to make a small amount of energy, making more work for the consumers. It is like when you adjust the time of a clock from behind it, as you wind it, the hands move slowly around the clock, but if you adjust the time by moving the hands themselves, it is easier.
  • After winding the handle, the energy goes through the gearbox. Gears are what increase the energy by multiplying it. As the energy passes through each gear, it multiplies every time. The amount the energy is increased by also depends on the size and number of the gears. If there are a lot of small gears, then they multiply the energy for every gear there is. But if there are a few big gears, they don’t multiply very much, but can produce the same amount of energy as lots of small gears. This is because of the size and numbers. Big gears are used where more energy is required, in cars, and small gears are used where less energy is required, like clocks.
  • After the energy passes through the gears, it then spins the motor. The motor is where the kinetic energy that started from the hand, is converted to electrical energy. This is also how big generators produce energy. For example, in windmills, electricity is created similarly to the wind up flashlight, but instead of turning it by hand, the wind is what turns the fans, which pass on the energy.
  • After the kinetic energy is converted into electrical energy, it goes through electrical components like rectifiers and voltage regulators to control how much voltage the electricity is. If the voltage is too high, it could damage the batteries or LED, and if the voltage is too low, than the LED won’t work.
  • After the voltage is stabilized, it can then be stored in a battery or be used to illuminate the LED.

The wind up flashlight can be very effective when it is needed. Here are some situations:

  • The user just has to wind it for a few minutes in their free time and it would be ready for the next it is used.
  • It recharges very quickly so not too much time is wasted.
  • It is compact and portable so the user can take it anywhere with them.

Even though there are a lot of situations where the wind up flashlight can be effective, it can also be ineffective.

  • It can be ineffective when a very big space has to be illuminated.
  • It can be ineffective if it is not recharged for use.
  • It can be ineffective when it needs more than a few minutes of winding, the user could get tired.

The wind up flashlight has many effects on the economy and on the environment. Some of the positive effects on the economy are that the companies that produce wind up flashlights gain profit. The consumers don’t have to buy batteries, which saves money. While there are positive effects, there may also be negative effects on the economy. For example, normal flashlight makers might be in a loss and also battery-producing companies may be in loss. In my opinion, the economy has a more positive effect then negative because a lot people still buy normal flashlight, which require batteries, and the consumers of the wind up flashlight also save money.

 

Some positive effects on the environment are that the wind up flashlight doesn’t need a change of batteries, which saves electricity. Another positive effect is that dead batteries aren’t thrown away as much, which lowers pollution from the harmful chemicals in the batteries. The chemicals can react with things in the environment like water or oxygen in the air and produce harmful byproducts. Even though there are many positive effects, there are also some negative effects. For example, the materials used to make the wind up flashlight require the use of electricity, metals and other chemicals that may be harmful to the environment. Electricity and other fossil fuels are used to mine, refine, and use the metals. The chemicals produce waste that may harmful to the environment. I think that there is a bigger positive effect because even though resources are used to make the product, in the long run, it saves the resources that are used up.