It was seen that the works of founders of States, law-givers, tyrant-destroyers, and heroes cover
but narrow spaces and endure but for a time; while the work of the inventor, though of less pomp,
is felt everywhere and lasts forever.          - Francis Bacon Preface to a Treatise on Interpreting Nature

The Design of Everyday Things

Every inventor should take this free online course. Learn the basics of design and start observing and applying design principles.

How to Design Breakthrough Inventions

A CBS interview of IDEO founder David Kelley

How to Build a StartUp

In this free online course, learn the key tools and steps for building a successful startup (or at least reducing the risk of failure).

Monday, November 4, 2013

October 2013

So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life's
a Great Balancing Act.
- Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You'll Go!

Putting your new product or service on the market is a thrill.  Rachel Jackson (owner, Peacock Publicity) told us how to make that thrill last – look before you leap.

First, decide what result you want (e.g., financial profit, prestige, societal change) from applying your product/service to the market.  Then find out if you can make your product/service fit the market well enough for the market machine to produce the result you want.  See if you can get the right tools (e.g., advisors; identification and understanding of potential competitors, customers, manufacturers, and distributors; money; patents; place of business; professional relationships; time) and skills (business strategy, energy, heart, spirit, technical knowledge) you need to create that fit.  Writing a business plan (see how: booklet, workshop) and getting free advice from SCORE and online courses will help you ask the hard questions you must ask: who can benefit from your offering; will you have to teach potential customers to want your offering; are those customers likely to buy what you offer more than what your competitors offer; will enough customers buy your offering at a price high enough for you to profit; can you find an affordable, reliable manufacturer or distributor.  When you can answer those questions, test your answers on your harshest critics.

Once you know who your potential customers are, impress them.  Not all customers are alike, so give different kinds of customers different messages.  Get a Web site (made by a professional graphic designer; your own internet address ending with .com) and email address (ending in .com) that inspires confidence in you and your offering.  Develop a high quality brand (created by a marketing professional) and a polished resume that will give people a reason to trust you.  Create a set of 30 second elevator speeches (for different kinds of potential customers) and keep up with your industry’s news so you can educate potential customers and have an intelligent conversation about your business.

If you want investment capital or sales leads, learn (from sources like Inventor’s Bible, eBay, ecommerce, KickStarter, or the SBA ) which groups can offer you the most, but be realistic.  Learn ahead of time what each specific audience wants from you (e.g., letters of reference, sales records, slide presentation, video) and show them with your business plan and statistics that you can give them value (e.g., enough paying customers) in exchange for their support.  If it becomes clear during your presentation that you can’t provide what they want, bow out gracefully.  But even with rejections, stay focused, be patient, and don’t flit from shiny object to shiny object.  It may take you months or years to build a sufficient customer base if your sales cycle is long.  Or you might have better luck licensing your invention. 

Plan for the long run.  Tools for customerrelationship management will help you reach people quickly.  Financial and marketing records (worksheets and other programs ) will help you figure out what works and will make your business more attractive to someone who might want to buy it.

Thank you for paving our roads to success, Ms. Jackson.  Ms. Jackson specializes in helping entrepreneurs, business startups, and small businesses with marketing/publicity and can be reached by email (, mail (P.O. Box 39070 Indianapolis, IN 46239), or telephone (815-404-9920).

Sunday, November 3, 2013

September 2013

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.  – Proverb

Teach someone to grow fish locally and you sustain a community and the environment.  Mr. Rob Wibbeler (secretary and treasurer of the nonprofit Indiana Aquaculture Association [IAA]) described fish farming in Indiana and the industry’s need for inventors.

The human population is growing exponentially and simple natural food sources can’t keep up.  As a result, the oceans are over-fished and the U.S. imports 91% of its seafood.  Innovators are solving this problem with aquaculturefarming fish, shellfish, and water plants.

Two popular aquacultural tools are cages and tanks.  Time magazine named the Velella Mariculture Project one of the best inventions of 2012 because, in 6 months and with almost no effect on the ocean, it turned 2,000 kampuchi (yellowtail) fingerlings into 5 tons of healthy fish.  The fish were kept and fed soybean products in 20-foot cages that were allowed to drift in the ocean near Hawaii.  The final food conversion ratio (FCR) was 1.6 lbs feed per 1 lb fish, compared to 1.9:1 for chicken and 6.5:1 for beef.  Mortality rate was less than 2%, compared to 15% for typical tank aquaculture.

Although mostly landlocked, Hoosiers can benefit from other forms of aquaculture, such as seasonal pond culture, indoor recirculating tank aquaculture, and indoor aquaponic tank culture (combines fish with water plants).  Pond culture in cages supports the farming of a variety of fish (bass, bluegill, carp, perch, tilapia, and trout; the largest yellow perch farm in the world is in Albany, IN.)

Fish farming works in Indiana, directly providing 169 jobs and adding $12 million annually to Indiana’s economy.  All 34 Hoosier farmers sell all the fish and shrimp they can produce.  All of them benefit from low transportation costs because fish can be sold locally and fish feed consists largely of two Hoosier crops – soybeans and corn.  But to become more profitable to farmers and more beneficial to consumers, aquaculture, especially tank culture, needs inventors who think outside the box.  Few tank systems have been tested because, so far, they have all originated in waste water treatment technology.  The industry needs: new modular designs that can be scaled to different sizes; less expensive and more efficient equipment; more efficient pumping, oxygenating, and cleaning water; and methods of preventing disease transmission among fish.

The Indiana Aquaculture Association helps fish farmers and those they serve by educating and bringing together chefs, consumers, educators, engineers, farmers, and manufacturers to improve the industry.  For more information about fish farm tours, aquaculture, and how it can benefit you, contact the Indiana Aquaculture Association (; 317-417-0090).  Thank you for your presentation, Mr. Wibbeler!

Patent Drawings by Richard McVicker

Some inventions patented by our members:

Bob Brand
3,179,907 Tuning system for television receivers
3,219,933 Television tuner switching system
3,241,072 Tuning control system
3,538,466 Television tuner cast housing with integrally cast transmission lines
4,503,740 Optical cutting edge locator for a cutting apparatus
4,503,896 Dog system for veneer slicer
4,601,317 Veneer slicing system
5,511,598 Veneer-slicer with remotely controllable blade angle adjustment
5,562,137 Method and apparatus for retaining a flitch for cutting
5,590,700 Vacuum flitch table with self-cleaning vacuum valve
5,678,619 Method and apparatus for cutting veneer from a tapered flitch
5,680,887 Veneer slicer with timing belt
5,694,995 Method and apparatus for preparing a flitch for cutting
5,701,938 Method and apparatus for retaining a flitch for cutting
5,819,828 Method and apparatus for preparing a flitch for cutting
5,868,187 Method and apparatus for retaining a flitch for cutting
7,395,843 Method and apparatus for retaining a flitch for cutting
7,552,750 Method and apparatus for cutting veneer sheets from a flitch

Kenton Brett
6023685 Computer controlled event ticket auctioning system
6704713 Computer controlled event ticket auctioning system
6907405 Computer controlled priority right auctioning system
7647269 Computer-based right distribution system with reserve pricing
7698210 Computer-based right distribution system
7720746 Computer-based right distribution system with password protection
7747507 Computer controlled auction system
7769673 Computer-based right distribution system with request reallocation
7992631 System and method for seasonal energy storage
8073765 Computer-based right distribution system with password protection
8128407 Method and system for teaching math
8538856 Computer-based right distribution system
8732033 Computer-based right distribution system with temporal variation
9614733 Methods and systems for reducing burst usage of a networked computer system
9900220 Methods and systems for reducing burst usage of a networked computer system

James Dougherty
8622039 Rockerless desmodromic valve system
9488074 Rockerless desmodromic valve system
9366158 Unitary cam follower and valve preload spring for a desmodromic valve mechanism

Ron Jackson
4,886,110 HVAC zone control system
4,943,039 Adjustable clamp
4,987,409 Level sensor and alarm
5,132,669 Level sensor with alarm
5,381,989 Adjustable spring clamp
5,944,098 Zone control for HVAC system
6,145,752 Temperature monitoring and control system
6,322,443 Duct supported booster fan
D347,596 Audible security alarm
D376,747 Door security device

Jerry McQuinn
D689,343 Universal Nutcracker

Richard McVicker
3,261,937 Three position snap switch utilizing interference blade means
3,319,477 Timer Escapement
3,332,704 Manually propelled treadmill vehicle
4,625,616 Thumb pick
6,309,076 Light barrier, screen or reflector
D240,237 Sculpture or the like
D356,653 Yard light
8389839 Thumb pick

Bill Pangburn
5,943,831 Device for Hauling Objects

Matt Thie
4,940,162 Rolled coin dispenser
4,844,446 Multiple-compartment currency stacker-sorter
4,940,162 Rolled coin dispenser
7,298,280 Lighted fluid flow indication apparatus
7,617,826 Conserver
8146592 Method and apparatus for regulating fluid flow or conserving fluid flow
8230859 Method and apparatus for regulating fluid

Don Walls
D707090 Torque key lever
RE36209 Door lock apparatus

Dave Zedonis
5,637,926 Battery powered electronic assembly for wheel attachment

Patent Document of the Month

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