Unknown Domain

Open Source Vacuum Cleaner #2



The above is the (slightly broken) results of the second prototype. The purpose of this prototype was to build a functional version, and to experiment with having another person build the device to figure out how to enable someone to build there own.

The Vacuum Cleaner was also an experiement in a couple of other different ways…

1. The Vacuum Cleaner was built out of parts predomenantly from B&Q which was a test to see how feasible (and expensive) this might be.

2. The distance to Vacuum Cleaner experiment. The idea here was to test how far I would have to travel to build a vacuum cleaner. Even in the country side, we managed it within 15 miles radius.

3. How long would it take to build an Vacuum Cleaner: 1 week

The entire build of this Vacuum Cleaner from store to end was about cobbling something together with the principals I defined to someone who had not a clue about how a Vacuum Cleaner actually works.

The result as you can see is a quirky and yet fully functional and powerful Vacuum Cleaner. The  hardest parts to obtain are the motor, hose and tools. These problems are easily negated by hacking an older unit, or ordering from a spare parts supplier.

So what’s next?
The working prototype is great, however I would like to produce one more vacuum cleaner that has the nice, aesthetic finish, and if not actually working could theoretically work.

This design needs to have the beauty of a piece of furniture, something like an Eames classic is my current thought, I am looking for help with this as I am not a product designer, if any of you could help me at all it would be appreciated, there are only a couple more weeks left until the project concludes however.

Goodbye Google Reader…

Sign the petition to keep Google Reader!

It’s Nearly Twelve…

384906603320Someone recently emailed me as they seem to with increasing regularity about Split-flap displays. This time I got a link to a project by Laurence Willmott, it is using a flip clock mechanism rather than a split-flap display mechanism but the principal is the same.

Project details


Any excuse to blog this…



I have decided to maintain a Github repo for all of the final parts for my version 1 release of the documentation, Git Hub supports files, has a pages feature and a Wiki feature so I can produce a page about the project with some marketing about it. A wiki as the documentation on how to design your vacuum cleaner and the repo to store all the files and allow version management.


Hiding behind the sofa

Today I cautiously stripped the wires back on my fabric cable and wired it up for real, rather nervously I crimped the spade connectors on and hooked it up. Then for a good 5 minutes I wondered around more nervous than a man outside the delivery room in a hotel. Then suddenly, I thought, bugger it! I plugged it in, turned it on and VROOOOOOOOOOOM. Then silence.

The motor turned on with such force and inertia the neutral line became unplugged. The point is that it worked, and I hadn’t been electrocuted, melted the carpet, or blown up the motor. For the few miliseconds it was on it even sounded a bit like a vacuum cleaner.

I need to build a mount for it. So much to do!

Hose cuff update

Screen Shot 2013-02-23 at 14.55.49

My work on the screw cuff is progressing well, I have been using the Ultimaker 3D printer at UCA to print some prototypes, the latest of which is very good.

The first prototype was too small but the basic principal is there:


The next few prototypes were just minor tweaks, until I added an end stop and ended up with this:

photo 2 photo 1


I’ve been trying really hard to find a vacuum hose which is both the right size (38mm ID) and aesthetically pleasing, for US viewers there is Amazon’s Industrial & Scientific section which means you can buy Flex-Tube FlexStat PU Duct Hose in a rather attractive clear with black spiral, they also sell PE screw cuffs.

However in the UK this isn’t available and realistically even if it were it would be over priced, in the UK there is a safety company called Arco, they have a couple products I am going to order 2 meter samples of, but still it’s pretty pricey.

Arcoflex Food Grade Delivery Hose Clear 5341013

Arcoflex Clear PVC Suction & Delivery Hose 5301025

flipbookit – DIY split-flap display



The flipbookit is a DIY split-flap display product which is like a cross between a traditional display and a flip book, it allows you to have a mechanical crank or a motor. It was recently featured on Matt Richardson’s YouTube channel:

OpenSCAD: Hose cuff


In case you don’t know what OpenSCAD is, it is a piece of software and a scriptiing language which allow you to programatically create 3D models for milling or printing. This is useful as you can define parameters that are user definable that actually change the way the final model renders. For example, a hose cuff needs various parameters such as, diameter, pitch, thread depth, screw length, extension, and wall thickness. These attributes contribute to the final model which can be printed and fitted to the end of a hose. By using OpenSCAD (which I am still learning) I hope that I can release a model on Thingiverse that can be 3D printed at home or through a local service bureau allowing you to use any size hose you wish for your vacuum cleaner.

This is how far I have gotten so far, but it I am having trouble with OpenSCAD’s inability to extrude a 2D surface with the plane facing along the extrusion path rather than flat on the floor, meaning there is little depth to the thread, and no control over diameter, examples included with the program seem to use a half toroid to resolve this but that seems messy.