Mark Menard


Random Ideas, Innovations, and Inventions

Here I am sharing ideas intended for open patent development. These are ideas which may have been patented, but I have yet to see on the open market:

  1. Straight shank metal cutting reciprocating saw blades. Presently, all manufacturers are offsetting the shank so as to impart an orbital motion to the cutting action. This causes the blade to bounce out of the cut.
  2. AC-DC adapter/battery charger for cordless tools. A small AC-DC transformer/charger which plugs in between the battery and tool, with a long (e.g. ten meter) power cord. This would allow continued use of a tool, simultaneously charging the low battery.
  3. Bicycle tire debris removal scraper. A small plastic blade which makes contact with the tire tread when braking.
  4. Simple bicycle braking kinetic energy recovery device. A spring or magnetically coupled flywheel engineered to store and release kinetic energy lost with an individual braking event.
  5. Two-inch to one-inch barbell plate adaptor. A simple disc which would allow a two-inch plate to be used on a one-inch bar (similar in design to the adaptors used on 45 RPM vinyl records).
  6. Free-weight (e.g. olympic weights and bench) fold-away home gym.

Safer Electrical Load Center

Anyone who has ever added a branch circuit to a residential or commercial load center is likely aware of the many hazards and frustrations associated with the current (no pun intended) technology. Potential for arc flash or elecrical fire, dead shorts, open shorts, short-wire leads, loose terminal connections, spaghetti wiring, and many other problems associated with our present technology are accepted in the industry as ineluctable facts. I have worked on many different types of wiring systems over the past few decades, from building circuit boards and assembling personal computers, to installing security systems and computer networks. My broad and general practical experience may have afforded me insights that the most capable and inventive electrical engineers have likely missed.

The ideal load center will be standardized, open-source, open-patent design, have no energized surfaces, toolless connections, electronic monitoring and control capabilities,  be engineered for 3D printing, and suitable for hot and wet environments. The basic improvements to the present designs will be facilitated by keeping all wiring connections at the load center perimeter; using layers of printed traces to carry both load and communication currents; with recessed cavity geometry and slotted terminals to accept tight-fitting monitoring, control, and circuit interruption modules. All communication traces and grounded and ungrounded power traces individually landing at each circuit interrupter/control socket will allow for modular, granular monitoring and control.


Wealth and Power

The global concentration of income and wealth is fundamentally unjust and undermines our security and well-being. The nature of this trend was clearly explained by Albert Einstein in 1949: “Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights. . . .
This crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole educational system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career.”Unfortunately, the greed and corruption addressed by Einstein have become much more pervasive since then, and now threaten the social and political stability of the world as well as the ecological viability of our planet.