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Thread: Irrigation Flow System

  1. #11
    PJs
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    Rick and Jon,

    Rick: I think what you've done and your desire for it to be a product for everyone is spot on, a worthy cause and very admirable. I don't have PCAD software anymore otherwise I'd offer to help, but think it relatively easy to get some of the DeVry students in Phoenix to work on it as a school project. They could get it onto a board (PWA) for you. I still have some sources for board houses, the balance is just sourcing hardware, meters and such. I hear you about Lake Mead and was long a supporter of Mono Lake and some of the less damnamic issues with Hetch Hetchy...but LA keeps sucking it all dry and the ground has sunk significantly in the south valley where the crops are grown.

    Jon: We do need to wonder about the source/end use, leak issues and profit to the city/county coffers, but it may be too late at some level for individuals to take action. Between Sonoma and Napa county there are close to 100k acres of grapes for wine and have often wondered about their irrigation systems and how much they use/lose...but the real question is who drinks all that wine?

    I've been following water issues since the early droughts (mid 70's) we've experience in CA. Here are a couple of articles from Global Research and Scientific American from 2012/13 and there has been a lot of water under the bridge so to speak since. Just do a search on "buying up water rights" or "water Barons". A Rabbit hole everyone should be aware of.

    I'm not sure what the answers are but I think Rick has something here if the costs can be kept down in manufacture. Probably enough said on my part. Wouldn't want to disturb the peace around here.

    Great Project Rick, Thanks again for sharing it! ~PJ

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  3. #12
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    PJs,

    The circuit board is minor. One stumbling block is the flow sensor. I provided a proof of concept, not an off the shelf part.

    Iíve only done 10% of the work. Product development, manufacturing, packaging, marketing, and distribution make up the rest. And since there is no patent protection, raising capital may be a problem.

    I have contacted many local cities plus nonprofits. Maybe one or more of them will pick it up.
    Last edited by rgsparber; 01-01-2018 at 10:25 PM.
    Rick

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    Jon
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    Did you search the patent database for any existing IP conflicts?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jon View Post
    Did you search the patent database for any existing IP conflicts?
    I don't need to worry about patent infringement because I'm giving my idea away and not selling it. Part of bringing it to market would be to worry about such things. Of course, no one can patent my design because it is already in the public domain. Such is the joy of "defensive publishing".

    Rick
    Rick

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    Jon
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    I only found this out recently when researching another homemade tool from this forum, but US patent law specifies a legal restriction against anyone who would "make, use, offer to sell, or sell" a patented invention. Obviously, making/using is rarely or never a legitimate issue over which people litigate patents, but if your invention ever makes it big, even if you donate it freely, you might have to fend off some patent trolls. More here: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/35/271 .

    I wonder if such an invention is already patented, and the patent is quietly held by an entity that profits from wasted water.

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    "a legal restriction against anyone who would "make, use, offer to sell, or sell" a patented invention"

    "Use a patented invention" suggests that you may be disobeying the law even if you buy a copy from the patent holder and use it as intended. Sounds like lawyer (spit) shotgun verbiage to me.
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    Jon
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    Don't forget the "without authority" phrasing.

    This all seemed insane to me upon first reading - why restrict making and using a patented product, absent of commerciality? One explanation I thought of was that entities could destroy the value of others' IP simply by building their patented inventions, and giving them away for free.

    Or they could do quid pro quo deals with charities: a company donates to a charity, and that charity uses the money to build and distribute a rival company's patented invention. There's really no way you can avoid the nefarious obfuscation of a commercial relationship, so you're left with the option of blanket forbidding all making, commercial or not.

    Of course, litigating a patent is costly, and a company would be reputationally damaged if they sued Joe DIYer for fabricating something in his garage for personal use. I think this may be why we don't hear of it happening very often.

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    I have found two companies that sell flow monitor and control systems so it is not a new idea. They focus on commercial properties and not residential.

    There is always a chance that I could be sued for anything I invent. The best I can do is have a good paper trail.

    There is nothing in the hardware that is new. The software is all mine so can’t have been copyrighted or patented.
    Rick

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    Jon
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    Keep us posted. Very exciting invention.

  12. #20
    PJs
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    Quote Originally Posted by rgsparber View Post
    PJs,

    The circuit board is minor. One stumbling block is the flow sensor. I provided a proof of concept, not an off the shelf part.
    I disagree that the PWA is a minor issue. I started to go into detail that using an Arduino Piggy-back board in a commercial system would not be wise...then thought better of it. I intended to say that putting a MCU and associated circuits on the PWA would make it more unique and robust and having the students work all that out and apply your code (untangled & optimized) would be a great undergrad project. Yes the flow sensor is a bit of a stumbling block either to a second op the existing or find one or a type that would work to deliver signals. Perhaps a mass flow or ultrasonic system would be able to send better quality signals reliably. You have a Working Model/Prototype IMHO, and yes it is a proof of concept at a base level.

    I’ve only done 10% of the work. Product development, manufacturing, packaging, marketing, and distribution make up the rest. And since there is no patent protection, raising capital may be a problem.
    Perhaps 10% but more likely 40% IMHO. Product development never ends really unless it has a defined lifetime. Manufacturing on a product like this is relatively simple other than the QA tooling and procedures. Again Packaging is also minor to me and could give 20 sources in 10 minutes for off the shelf suppliers, and the second op work if necessary could be relatively simple and most of the suppliers are willing to do them for you. Labeling can be a bit tricky if you wanted push buttons or front panel access to the MCU...but easily doable. As for marketing, Yes I agree and first on the list is to be reconnoitered is "How big of a problem are leaks in agricultural and residential systems" and "How does does this system compare to other conservation techniques in effectivity" and developing a metric to analyze these and other questions. Then it starts to get into the ROI of it in the style marketing (hi-volume/low $ or Visa versa) or something in between...and can be a Pit & the Pendulum if not handled wisely with people of integrity.

    Regarding Patent and Capital. Others have stated the issues prior to this post and agree with Jon at the point of liability. There have been a significant number and growing, of flagrant patent suits, particularly in the 3d printing by Charlatans with money behind them obtaining so called "Rights" and suing the unsuspecting dole that had a good idea. Yes Patents are expensive, mainly because the Lier's became involved, but a conceptual patent may be feasible, but I don't know that for sure. Personally I have never believed in using Vulture Capitalist and we have a lot more crowd funding methods available now.

    I have contacted many local cities plus nonprofits. Maybe one or more of them will pick it up.
    Glad that you have contacted others to maybe get this off the ground and run with it...hopefully the give you some credit if they do. It's clear you have no real want to pursue this to production and I understand that...it does not negate the fact that you started with a need, came up with a plan, designed and built a working system on a shoe string budget with a lot of BS&T and passed it on freely to this community. My main point with this is to Thank you for that, offer some enthusiasm for a great job and its possibilities...but not create another episode of Downton Abbey, nor to disturb the sanctity of the community!

    Tilde Then, ~PJ

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