Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Cell phone Tech in a Screwdriver

Can technology change how we use something as mundane as a screwdriver?
Cordless, battery operated screwdrivers have been around for years. But can the hot new tech we find in cell phones revolutionize the way we use cordless screwdrivers?
A ton of wood

First, my kitchen remodeling update.

New hardwood floors for the kitchen soon expanded to the rest of the house. The flooring was delivered on a pallet. Just ahead of a thunderstorm. I had to move 60 packs of hardwood to the garage, That's 34 pounds per pack or 2,040 pounds. ONE TON! I'm feeling my age.

So, my batteries in my old DeWalt are feeling their age. They are NiCad's, and don't hold much charge. I went to get a new battery, but couldn't find the one I needed. Instead, I got a new cordless driver. This one is smaller, and lighter. I figured the lighter weight would help when installing all those kitchen cabinet hinges.

The new DeWALT looks almost toy-like.

Old and New

Four Computer Technologies
1. An LED instead of a light bulb. Yawn...

2. The LED fades slowly to dark 10 seconds after you stop using the driver, just like the lighted keys on many new laptops.  Convenient but not a game changer. It does hint that there is some sort of smart chip in there.

3. The NiCad batteries self drain, degrade and are heavy. So the new lithium battery is a logical improvement you would expect.

4. There is a gyroscope in the screwdriver. Not the spinning wheel type, but an electronic one.

A gyroscope in a screwdriver is a game changer. I thought it was just a sales gimmick., but it really is revolutionary. It takes a bit to get used to it. but after a few minutes, I wondered if I'd ever go back to the old cordless drill.

A microelectromechanical system (MEMS) is an embedded system that integrates electronic and mechanical components at a very small scale.

These chips are in all sorts of video game controllers. They are used in active suspensions systems to prevent SUV from rolling over, and anti-skid systems. If you ever played a race car game on your cell phone where you used the phone as a steering wheel, you were using the gyroscopic MEMS device in the phone.

Lefty Loosey Righty Tighty

Grab the driver and squeeze. The light turns on. but nothing happens. There is no speed control. Slowly turn the driver to the right one degree. The motor begins slowly screwing in the screw. Turn it a little more and it goes faster. You can control the speed and direction just by slowly rotating the handle a few degrees left or right. Jerk the handle quickly one direction or the other to instantly go full speed.

The gyroscope can measure the direction, the degrees of rotation and the speed you rotate the handle.

Why is the speed important? Because it eliminates the need for the torque settings. On the old screwdriver you had to set the torque so you would have enough to turn the screw, but not so much that you would booger up the screw head, strip the threads or break the head off when the screw head is driven home.  When the screw is driven home. and stops, the motor keeps running and the drill tries to rotate in the opposite direction. this kickback can not only damage the screw, it can also injure your wrist or jerk the driver out of your hand.
With the gyroscopic driver when the screw driven home and stops, the handle suddenly begins turning rapidy in the reverse direction. The gyro senses this and reverses and instantly stops the motor. It dies this so quicky the the kickback is less than a degree of rotation. It feels like a small jolt and is much easier on the hand. No buggered up screws or sprained wrists. Prefect for brass screws in kitchen cabinets.