Stockpiling gasoline

The gas cans in my garage, well before the Colonial Pipeline hack

When I first heard about the ransomware hack of the Colonial Pipeline, it popped up in my cyber news feed. After a bit of research, in which I realized quickly that my area of the world would run out of gasoline, my wife and I each filled up our vehicles and minimized travel during the week. We watched on the GasBuddy app as station after station ran out of gasoline, with the typical hoarders filling up gas cans like you see above. Luckily, the shortage is essentially over now and life is returning to normal.

My cans were full long before the gas shortage. I have a tractor, wood splitter and wood chipper, all of which required gasoline to run. They will run on regular gasoline, however, I have found that the ethanol in regular gasoline breaks down and damages small engines, particularly the carburetors, so I switched to using ethanol-free fuel. Since the only place that sells ethanol-free fuel near me is out in farm country, I fill up a lot of cans to make the trip worth it.

Probably the largest benefit to ethanol-free fuel is storage. I can easily store fuel for a year without it breaking down. At best with ethanol fuel, you’re looking at 30 days at most. When I saw the gas hoarders filling up, my hope is they realize that gas won’t be good by the end of the month. It’ll sort of still work in your car, but unless you add a stabilizer, it’s going to have water in it.

Which brings up a really good point: why on earth are we still using ethanol? Ethanol has some cleaning benefits for gasoline, in that is dissolves things that gasoline cannot, but with most gasolines having detergents in them anyways, the benefit is pretty minimal. Worse still, ethanol increases deposits on injectors and other components. It gives you plenty of problems, but hasn’t done much to reduce emissions nor wean us off Middle East Oil (only Trump policies do the latter).

Before someone chimes in with “Just use electric!”, let’s point out some flaws. Nobody makes a battery powered wood splitter or wood chipper. While we’re going back to electric garden tractors, they are still pretty pricey. The power in battery tools, while impressive, is not quite there yet. I have an electric and gas chainsaw, and if I’m cutting something over a foot in diameter, the gas chainsaw wins hands down. I have switched over to an electric weed whipper and pole saw, and they are both great. I bet in 5 years that electric outdoor tools will become the norm, but for now, if you need something powerful, you still need a gasoline engine.

If everyone had a 5 gallon gas can with ethanol-free gas, short term disruptions at the pump would cause less hysteria. You can’t do that with E10 gas unless you religiously use that fuel up and refill every month. By continuing to use ethanol, we continue to damage our engines and make us more susceptible to disruptions for little to no environmental gain. Perhaps as we recover from this gasoline shortage, someone will start asking the hard questions about why we’re handicapping ourselves.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

DaTechGuy off DaRadio Livestream Spontaneous Podcast the Civil War you don’t want and Cui Bono

Today I have some free time so it’s time for another spontaneous livestream

You can watch here

Topics will include

  1. The Civil war that you don’t want (or why people don’t understand why this is a bad thing.
  2. The Cold Civil war and what it means
  3. Cui Bono from the Biden Administration
  4. Stalling stalling stalling
  5. Reaping meeting sowing on police protection for Democrat cities

It will all start around 9:40 AM EST hope to see you here

What’s in YOUR wallet?

Most Americans are going to get a small influx of money in the next 60 days, due to two separate events. First, the 1.9 trillion dollar COVID-19 bill that is 90% about bailing out Democrat-supporting regions of the country will include some sort of stimulus checks, likely the $1400 per individual. Also, most people are filing their taxes between now and April, and most Americans will get some sort of refund on their taxes.

The thing is, most of this money gets spent without thinking about future consequences. The local used car dealerships always run “sales” this time of year that mention tax returns, and I’m seeing “stimulus check” sales advertisements popping up now. Yet we’re not going into happy times anytime soon. If you watch the stock market and references by the Fed that indicate inflation is going to come roaring back should give us pause.

If you’re not one to care about the Fed, then look more locally. Wood prices at Lowes and Home Depot are well double what they were a year ago, between the boom in home building due to low interest rates and COVID-19 shutting down the lumber mills for a time. Gas is more expensive now. I’ve had more Amazon packages getting delivered late than ever before. Stores are still running out of basic items, and while this is infrequent now, remember that is essentially never happened in the past.

All this indicates we’re in for a bumpy ride for at least two years, if not four. I’m not going to get caught unprepared for this, and you shouldn’t either. I suggest you prioritize spending this way:

  1. Debt. Get rid of any debt you can. Car almost paid off? Pay it off now. Credit card debts? Pay them off or work a forgiveness plan, an especially good idea now since card companies are also taking advantage of low interest rates.
    I would also refinance your house if you haven’t done so. Most people can’t simply pay off their mortgage, but you can make a principle payment to pay it off earlier, and shifting to bi-weekly payments (if your company allows you to) will cut years off the back end.
  2. Build up supplies. COVID-19 taught us that everything from toilet paper to sweet potatoes will be in short supply. It’s going to happen again. Rather than fight lines at a store, build up a 1-3 month supply of basics that don’t really ever go bad: bottled water, paper products, disposable eating utensils, soap and cleaning supplies. You should also keep about 2 weeks of meals in reserve. I have things like spaghetti and frozen foods that can keep for a long time just hanging out. They occasionally save me when dinner decides to catch on fire, and when the stores were swamped in the initial stages of pandemic, this food let me stretch our groceries further.
  3. Fix what you can. Americans are pretty handy people, but we also can be lazy. Plenty of homes and vehicles have little things that need repair. Get those done now. Don’t wait forever on car maintenance. The pandemic backed our local dealership up by a month for appointments. Same goes for home maintenance, even if you do it yourself, you may not get the supplies when people buy out the stores.
  4. Set your investing on automatic. Unless you’re smart on the stock market, you’re best off making long term investments on mutual funds. Whatever your investing strategy, put it on automatic through automatic funds transfers and investments. Too many people get scared when the market comes down and sell, which is the worst time to do that. Putting it on cruise control helps you take advantage of the down market over time.
  5. Build up your local network. This may not cost much money, but its critical. Do you know your neighbors? Do you know a local electrician, plumber, car mechanic and veterinarian? Remember how even routine house calls for minor issues became a major problem in the pandemic? You avoid this by knowing local people. Now is the time to get to know them and be on good terms, so when you need their help in a pinch, you can get it.

Don’t throw your stimulus to the wind! Set yourself up now to get through the trying times ahead.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

Don’t worry, Facebook will cancel you next

Facebook is everywhere. Our kids dance studio uses it to communicate with us. The Submarine Base in Groton uses it to let you know when the base is closed due to snow. The military’s Airlift Command uses it to notify people of upcoming flights. Facebook’s ease of use caused many places to use Facebook in place of email, website and texting notifications and updates.

All that dependency comes with a price, because Facebook is too big to care. Instead of being a neutral platform, Facebook took sides on issues. At first, it was non-controversial, like when Facebook would remove suicide videos or obviously pornographic images. But it became too much of a temptation, and it wasn’t long before Facebook was manipulating news feeds and canceling whomever it willed.

President Trump was an obvious canceling choice. But Law Enforcement Today? That’s a bit weird. Or plenty of other folks like Ron Paul. The latest one is Australia, which tried to cash in on Facebook sharing its content. Instead of sharing, Facebook banned all Australian news sources from being shared on its platform. If your news revenue relied on social media sharing, a move like this is devastating to your business.

BTW, the EU assures us it “can’t happen to them.” Don’t hold your breath.

If your small business or club relies on Facebook for communication, you’re vulnerable. Whenever the military invades an area, the first thing they destroy is enemy communication platforms. If you can’t communicate, you can’t organize, and you certainly can’t get anything useful done.

To illustrate this point, I once spoke with firefighters that rescued people in the aftermath of the Twin Towers attack on 9/11. One of the things not discussed is that there are a lot of cell and radio towers on the Twin Towers. When they came down, it crippled cellular communications in the area. Firefighters and police resorted to runners to pass messages while pulling people out of rubble.

You are much better off, and much safer, with a good email system, blog and website, plus a social media platform that respects you, like MeWe. Because if Facebook can cancel Australia, what stops them from canceling you?

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

John Lausch needs to stay as US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois

Blogger with Durbin in Chicago in 2020

By John Ruberry

Last Monday the Justice Department asked 56 U.S. attorneys to resign. There were two exceptions, John Durham, the U.S. Attorney for Connecticut, will stay on as the special counsel for the investigation of the Russian collusion hoax, and David Weiss, the prosecutor for Delaware, who is pursuing the probe into Hunter Biden’s taxes, and presumably, more.

Among the others are John R. Lausch Jr., the US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, which of course includes that cesspool of corruption, Chicago and suburban Cook County. Appointed in 2017, Lausch has been methodically hacking away at the blighted forest that is Illinois government ever since. Among those indicted under Lausch’s term are a Chicago alderman, two suburban mayors (one of them was also Cook County commissioner), and two members of the Illinois General Assembly. They have one thing in common–all are Democrats. Lausch has chipped away at the political machine of state Representative Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), who until last month had been state House speaker for all but two years since 1983. Lausch uncovered an alleged scam involving Commonwealth Edison, Illinois’ largest electric utility, that has led to the indictment of four senior executives at that company, as well as a longtime lobbyist with decades-long ties to Boss Madigan. 

Madigan is the midwife of the Illinois pension debacle and he is the man who destroyed Illinois. Sadly, those aren’t crimes.

Lausch seems to be closing the ring on Madigan, who remains as chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party, a post he’s held since 1998. Madigan maintains his innocence and he has not been charged with any crimes. But he’s a tough one to investigate–Madigan doesn’t use email and he doesn’t own a cell phone. There’s a lot of smoke surrounding the 78-year-old legislator–but so far no fire has been discovered. 

It took a lot longer than it should have but Illinois’ insipid Republican Party, the Washington Generals to the Democrats’ Harlem Globetrotters, finally pursued tying other Democratic candidates to Madigan, which led to a pretty good, but not great, general election for conservatives last autumn. The best result was the resounding defeat of the so-called Fair Tax Amendent, which would have replaced Illinois’ flat rate income tax with one with graduated rates. As I’ve quipped a few times before, Illinoisans finally figured out that if the Democrats were given an unlimited budget they would exceed it. 

After the general election Illinois’ two Democratic US Senators, Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, called for Madigan’s resignation as party chairman. No, they didn’t suddenly realize that Madigan is toxic to Illinois; Durbin and Duckworth didn’t like the general election results here. 

The state House took care of the speakership problem, the Democrats ousted Madigan last month but replaced him with a longtime ally of the Boss. 

The day after the Justice Department announced those federal prosecutor resignations, in what the Chicago Tribune called “a lame news release,”  those two party-line hack senators called on Biden to keep Lausch on the job. I am very suspicious of their motives. Duckworth is up for reelection next year and if the federal investigation into Chicago area corruption stalls she might get the blunt of the blame for not convincing Biden to keep Lausch in place. 

Durbin is the new Senate Justice Committee chairman and prefers not to be accused of keeping corrupt Dems in power in his home state. Back to gerrymandering and Madigan: Aftet the 2010 census the state congressional map was redrawn to be much more favorable to Democrats. The 8th congressional district was transformed from a competitive one to a layout favoring Democrats. In 2012 Duckworth ousted the Republican incumbent, future never-Trumper Joe Walsh.

Remember, for many Democrats Madigan has been very good to them. His skills at gerrymandering have produced supermajorities in the General Assembly and have bolstered Democratic numbers among the Illinois US House delegation. There may have never been a Senator Duckworth had she not won that House race in 2012. Through government and compliant corporations like Commonwealth Edison, Madigan has been able to hand out contracts, favors, and jobs to those loyal to him–as well as their relatives.

Lausch needs to be kept on the job in Chicago. 

Biden’s nominee for Attorney General is Merrick Garland, a Chicago area native who was nominated by Barack Obama to the US Supreme Court seat that eventually went to Neil Gorsuch. But he hasn’t lived here in decades. Yet my guess is that Garland has kept his eyes on the fetid muck in Illinois. Perhaps he can put in a good word for Lausch to Biden or whoever is making the calls in the White House on federal prosecutors.

Sorry to be repetitive, but I have to keep mentioning this fact. Illinois has lost population every year since 2014. 

People have wised up. But not me. Not yet.

UPDATE February 23: Last night Michael Madigan resigned his post as chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party. Last week Madigan gave up his House seat after 50 years in the General Assembly. Term limits anyone?

This afternoon, according to multiple media reports, Lausch will keep his job as US attorney until a replacement is found and presumably confirmed.

John Ruberry regularly blogs from the Chicago area at Marathon Pundit.

Detroit’s stillborn revival

By John Ruberry

I hit the road last week–to a regular stop for me–Detroit–my fourth visit there. Coincidentally last Monday, when I arrived, was the first day that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s lifting of Michigan’s ban on indoor dining, replaced by low-capacity dining, took effect.

Yet central Detroit was still nearly void of people last week.

During my first visit, in 2015, while I noticed a fair amount of bustle on the streets and sidewalks downtown, I also walked past empty skyscrapers. On my next trip, two years later, most of those same buildings were occupied or being rehabbed. And the city’s light rail line, the QLine, an expensive and impressive showpiece, had just opened. As I noted at the time on my own blog, these trolley cars ironically echo Detroit’s monorail, the People Mover, the 1980s Stalinist boondoggle championed by Coleman Young, the five-term mayor of Detroit who may have been a closet communist. Both the QLine and the People Mover serve only the downtown area. They look stunning though.

Also in 2017 Little Caesars Arena opened in the adjacent Midown part of the city. It brought the Detroit’s NBA team, the Pistons, back to the city for the first time in nearly four decades. The NHL team, the Red Wings, made the short jump from downtown’s Joe Louis Arena to Little Caesars too. Since the early 2000s the NFL entry, the Lions, and its MLB team, the Tigers, have been playing downtown. Which made the many gamedays in central Detroit a magnet for hungry and thirsty people with fat wallets. Now the teams play in front of no fans.

Quicken Loans has been based in Detroit since 2009 and is now America’s largest mortgage lender. While Detroit is still the Motor City it is the Mortgage City now too.

But meanwhile in the neighborhoods the decline of Detroit continued. For urban explorers like myself, that is, people who photograph or shoot videos of abandoned homes, factories, offices, churches—am I leaving anything out?–oh yeah, schools, there is no shortage of material to work with.

Things looked even better for Detroit when I spent a day there in 2019.

Then COVID-19 hit. Whitmer’s statewide lockdowns have been among the nation’s most restrictive. As I witnessed in Chicago last year, the streets were also eerily empty in Detroit in 2020 according to media reports, such as this one from AP in October:

Downtown Detroit was returning to its roots as a vibrant city center, motoring away from its past as the model of urban ruin. 

Then the pandemic showed up, emptying once-bustling streets and forcing many office workers to flee to their suburban homes.

And if you work for Quicken and its Rocket Mortgage wing, many of your job responsibilities, perhaps all of them, can be done from a suburban home, as Quicken performs most of its transactions online.

But lets say you need to come downtown for your annual review. What else is there to do? On Day 1 of the partial-lifting of the indoor dining lockdown, it looked to me that about half of the restaurants there were still closed. Most retail outlets were shuttered. And all of the shops and eateries were closed at the Little Caesars Arena, where I hoped to buy a hockey souvenir for Mrs. Marathon Pundit. But of course there is always Amazon to fall back on for that. Oh, Kid Rock’s Made In Detroit restaurant at Little Caesars closed last spring, although that departure had nothing to do with COVID.

So in downtown Detroit last week you still had to struggle to find a place to eat. Yes, there were a few of those ludicrous tents outside some eateries–by the way temperatures were in the 30s all last week during our visit.

Story continues below photograph.

Diners last Monday in downtown Detroit

Part of the allure of big-city centers has been the array of shopping and cultural choices offfered. That’s mostly gone now in Detroit. Sure, New York, Chicago and other large cities are facing similar challenges under COVID lockdowns, but many of their eateries and shops have been operating for decades. And yes, such businesses usually have narrow profit margins but being a going concern for many years means there will be an established customer base that might remember you a few years later. What if you are a Detroit boutique that has been open only for a couple of years?

The QLine and the People Mover haven’t run since last spring. There aren’t a lot of people in downtown Detroit to well, move. Buses are still running, however.

Back to those cultural choices: The Detroit Institute of Arts is one of America’s premier art museums. I wanted to attend Wednesday but the DIA was sold out that day. I was able to purchase tickets, online of course, for myself and my traveling companion the following day for one of the available time slots. And do you know what? Outside of employees there couldn’t have been more than 50 people inside the sprawling museum when we were there. I’m confident that Wednesday’s “sold out” day wasn’t much different. On the positive side I was able to stand and stare in front of the DIA’s four Vincent van Gogh paintings as long as I wished–there was no one to push me aside and tell me, “You’re done, now it’s my turn.” Yes, we were forced to wear masks and we had our temperature taken at the museum’s entrance. Precautions were taken.

My companion visited Dearborn’s Henry Ford museum on Tuesday–a fabulous place that I experiended in 2015–and it was nearly empty too, I was told. 

The Motown Musuem in New Center remains closed, it re-opens February 18. Man, oh man, we really wanted to see that place.

Will COVID-19 and Michigan’s lockdowns kill Detroit’s revival?

Many people have their life savings and their mortages invested in small businesses that have been closed for months in Detroit and other large cities.

The dominos will start falling.  Which is something most Detroiters know a lot about.

Meanwhile in Florida, life and business continues, with masks, but without the lockdowns. The Florida COVID death rate is lower than that of Michigan.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Five advantages of using Microsoft Dynamics AX for Your Business

It does not matter what industry you belong to; if your company is not following the latest industry trends, you will be left behind. In this modern age, where businesses have access to so many technologies, it is crucial for them to choose the right options to get ahead of the competition. By investing in the right tools and software, you can strengthen your business’s position and can manage tasks more efficiently. One of these tools is Microsoft Dynamics AX, an excellent ERP solution for companies to organize, optimize, at automating their processes. It provides you with solutions that can save you time and can improve your ROI significantly.

Microsoft Dynamics AX allows you to automate your processes; you wouldn’t have to spend time and resources on development and training. It also has a simple, user-friendly interface that allows you to access information without complicating things. That way, you can get detailed insights into your processes whenever necessary. Microsoft Dynamics AX is a complete solution for any enterprise as it also strengthens the bond between teams and individuals of the company with its advanced communication tools. Overall it is a tool that will benefit all departments of your company. Let’s take a detailed look at some of the main benefits you can enjoy from Microsoft Dynamics AX:

Quick and Smart Decision Making

One of the major benefits of using Microsoft Dynamics AX is that I allow you to make a quick and smart decision. If you want to succeed in today’s competitive market, you will have to get innovative, and this software helps you do that. The software collects raw data and turns it into numbers that can help you with decision making. You can define KPI’s and can run detailed analyses to get the latest reports. These reports not only speeds up the decision-making process but also helps you make more accurate decisions.

Cost-Effective

In the past few years, the way small and big industries used to manage their businesses has changed dramatically. Because of the constantly evolving market, a flexible ERP solution has become vital for businesses. You need a system that allows you to modify, add, delete, and mold certain things within your company whenever necessary. When you choose Microsoft Dynamics AX, you get access to plenty of great products that can prove valuable for your business. This can reduce the company’s cost of operations dramatically and can help you improve your ROI significantly. In the long run, it can help you save a lot of money.

Improve Productivity and Team Collaboration

Another great benefit of using Microsoft Dynamics AX is that it improves team collaboration within your company and makes everyone more productive. Unlike other complicated ERP software out there, Microsoft Dynamics AX won’t take much of your employees’ time. The software has an interface similar to Microsoft Word, and your organization will get the hang of it very quickly. It also helps you automate a lot of processes, which gives your employees more time to focus on important things. A centralized data system will also allow you to improve transparency and make it easier for your employees to share critical information.

Improves Sales

Microsoft Dynamics AX gives you a whole new way of approaching your customers. You will have access to raw data and real-time insights, which will help you market your business smartly. It will also allow you to identify the right people so you can only target the chunk of the population that is interested. With enhanced logistics, smooth workflows, and timely delivery, you can quickly recognize opportunities and capitalize on them. All these details also help you understand your target audience, which allows you to offer them much better services.

Security

All the data you will feed to Microsoft Dynamics AX will always be secure. The software has advanced security features and a cloud-based infrastructure that is impenetrable. No one from the outside will be able to take a peek into your company’s data as long as the software protects it. Microsoft Dynamics AX also allows you to customize the security settings so you can manage your privacy manually. It also helps create different access levels for different teams.

My idea for subscribers to save some newspapers and magazines and protect conservative voices

By John Ruberry

More than once President Donald Trump–and as most recently as this morning in a telephone interview with Maria Bartiromo–President Donald J. Trump has called with media “the enemy of the people.”

And for the most part he is correct. On the national side most writers are propagandists for the left. Things are slightly better on the local level, which the president noted in that discussion with Bartiromo. After all only local TV stations were pressing Joe Biden during the presidential campaign about whether he’d pack the court with liberal justices. This is a very serious issue as it would upend and transform one of the three branches of the federal government. Eventually Biden, like a typical liberal, punted the decision by announcing he’d form a committee to explore issues of injustices in the legal system. And the elite media once again practiced the sin of omission in their reporting.

Last year Warren Buffett–although excluding the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal–said of newspapers, “They’re going to disappear.” And this year Buffett disappeared from the newspaper business

Old line magazines such as New Yorkthe Atlantic, and the New Yorker are dominated by left-wing journalists. You know, the smug-elitists who got their jobs by way of nepotism and their attendance at an elite university, which probably admitted them because of one of their parents also attended that college. Actually these publications might not have any conservative writers. The last one, the New Yorker, offers a newstand price of $8.99. In my opinion it’s not worth 99 cents. All are behind an internet paywall. All of these publications are intellectually irredeemable and likely doomed to insolvency. 

Let’s get back to newspapers. I cancelled my print subscription to the Chicago Tribune years ago and although I toyed with the idea of subscribing online,being the enterprising sort I learned that the only thing, outside of an occasional sports story, that I cared to read in the Tribune was John Kass’ column, which I discovered I could find on other newspapers sites or Real Clear Politics for free. 

Buffett is right. Newspapers are dead men walking. And magazines. Mostly. Oh, Chicago’s other major daily newspaper, which was purchased by a consortium a few years ago that included the Chicago Federal of Labor for $1, isn’t going to make it. You can bet on it. 

The Tribune, once a strong conservative voice in heavily Democratic Chicago, has been drifting lefward for years. Now it’s “woke.” Except for columnist John Kass. And the Trib is a shell of its former self. Like Warren Buffett–and here the similarities between us end–I’m a former newspaper delivery boy. I hated Thanksgiving Day editions because the papers were jammed with Christmas shopping ads–making the delivery of those bulky papers take three times as long. I have this year’s Thanksgiving Day Tribune lying right next to me. It’s thinner than the Saturday editions–a low readership and therefore a low-advertising day–that I used to deliver. 

Here’s my idea for saving and perhaps transforming daily newspapers and magazines out of the liberal echo chamber that they are now. For instance, the cost of a Tribune subscription, once the promos end, is $3.99 a month. For a dollar more you can have the print edition delivered to your door too. Now, and union rules may have to be changed for this to happen, but I propose for subscribers to have one-quarter of their subscription fee to go directly to the columnist of their choice. If there’s a sports writer or a movie reviewer who you really like, then of course choose that person. And of course I have all newspapers, magazines, and online-only publications in mind. 

My selection at the Tribune would of course be John Kass, a strong conservative voice who suffered a demotion of sorts by seeing his column moved from the coveted page 2 location to the innards of opinion section. The impetus for that move was a rebellion by his leftist co-workers about a column explaining how George Soros funded the campaigns of far-left prosecutors such as Kim Foxx in Cook County, Illinois. Those propagandists called Kass’ column anti-Semitic, even though Kass never mentioned the faith of Soros in that article. Soros is a secular Jew, not a religous one, by the way. Kass was attacked by his colleagues not because he was wrong about Soros–but because he was right.

Kass on a personal level is the antithesis of the media elites of you find elsewhere on the Tribune or at the New York Times and the Atlantic and their ilk. He attended–but did not graduate from–Columbia. That is Columbia College in Chicago, which my daughter once also attended, not the “other” Columbia in New York. The mainstream media of of course is always calling for more diversity within its ranks. But never for more intellectual diversity. Or class diversity. 

So my proposal has two obvious merits. It can save newspapers and it can up the conservative presence at the legacy media. Before it becomes the extinct media. 

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit and is available for hire by a legacy media publication.

How to Create an Electronic Prototype

Building an electronic prototype of a device is an extremely important and necessary part of electronic product development. Not only does this step let you see the potential of your product, but it also lets you spot any flaws with it.

Anyone can develop an electronic prototype of a product, regardless of their technical ability. It doesn’t matter if you’re a startup maker, an entrepreneur, a small business owner or an inventor; creating your own electronic prototype is possible. If you want to create an electronic prototype, but don’t know where to begin, then here are some pieces of advice to help you:

1.      Product Development Strategies

While most of us don’t have the necessary skills or knowledge we need to design and build an electronic prototype on our own, don’t let this put you off giving it a go. If you don’t have the necessary skills or technical knowledge to build it on your own, you could always consider asking for help or advice from a specialist. Here are some options available to you:

  • Develop the product yourself – very few people have all of the skills they need to develop an electronic product on their own. Even experienced engineers require help from specialists.
  • Bring in co-founders – ideally those who have technical knowledge
  • Outsource to a freelance engineer – freelance engineers will be able to fill in any gaps in your technical ability. Just remember that most products will need multiple engineers of different specialties and you will be responsible for managing the build.
  • Outsource to a development firm – these firms can be extremely expensive, but they will ensure your project is a success
  • Partner with an overseas manufacturer who already makes similar products – this can save money

2.      Develop Your Prototype

The development of the electronics inside your product can be broken down into the following steps:

  • The preliminary product design – this focuses on the cost, the production components, the performance, the features, the profit margin, the manufacturability, and the feasibility of the project
  • The schematic diagram – The schematic diagram is an extremely important document. It is a picture that shows the significant components of a system. This diagram shows how every component from the resistor to the microchip connects together.
  • The PCB layout – When the schematic diagram is complete you can design your PCB. This is the board that will connect all of your electrical components together.
  • Generate the BOM (Bill of Materials) – this should list every component you will need to use in your PCB. Most of the electrical parts you need to build a PCB can be found at Octopart.

3.      Build Your Prototype

As we mentioned above, you can do this yourself or you can ask a specialist to do it for you.

4.      Test Your Prototype

Once you’ve built your prototype, you will need to test and evaluate it. Check to see if there are any issues with the design or any parts that you’re not happy with. Now is the time to make necessary changes to the design.

5.      Get Your Product Certified

All electronic products require certification. If you plan on selling your product in the future, then you will need to make sure you have the right certification in place.  

Building an electronic prototype can open your eyes to the constraints or possibilities of your product. Prototyping is all about testing your ideas to see if they will work when fully complete. If you want to create an electronic prototype, then make sure you follow our advice above.

Applications of Robots in the Plastic Injection Molding Industry

The never-ending increase in demand for more flexible solutions has led to industrial robots being widely used in the plastic industries today. These industrial robots are being used in almost all areas of the production process, including operations related to injection molding.

Below are some of the areas whereby industrial robots can be used to automate the process of injection molding.

Pick-and-Place

One way that industrial robots can be used in automating the injection molding process is by the use of pick-and-place robots. These robots are used to load plastic parts into the machine. They can also be used to place complete end products onto the conveyor belt.

Quality

Injection molding is a repetitive task, and when performed by human employees, it can leave room for discrepancies. Making use of the robots ensure that production is of the highest quality and ensures that products are well formed, cut with precision and that the finished product is well measured with every process.

Productivity

Incorporating robots into the injection molding process provides the manufacturers with the much-needed viable advantage with visible surges in the produced parts’ quality and productivity.

Different robots are used in various areas in the automation of plastic injection molding, they include;

  • 3-Axis Cartesian robot; Due to their high-speed processes, they are usually used for horizontal plastic injection molding machines.
  • 6-Axis Articulated robot; This injection molding robot is usually used for both the vertical and horizontal injection molding machines. They are suitable for floor space or ceiling height constraints as they allow for a larger work envelope
  • 6-Axis Collaborative robot; The 6-axis collaborative robot operates safely alongside human operators, although it cannot compete with the other 6-axis robots in terms of precision and speed.
  • 4-Axis SCARA robot; The SCARA 4-axis robot usually provides a circular work envelope, and it is mainly used for loading and unloading vertical injection molding machines.
  • Side Entry robot; The side-entry robot is best for faster cycles. It is also suitable for areas with space constraints.
  • Sprue Picker robot; The sprue picker is usually used for the removal of sprue. It can also be used for part and runner separation in the automation of plastic injection molding.

Below are some of the areas where these robots can be applied in various production processes.

Machine Tending

One of the most common applications of injection molding robots is the machine tending process. Machine tending is a labor-intensive task that involves the handling of heat-sensitive material being molded. This requires a high level of consistency when handling developed materials. As such, a robot can be used to relieve human operators from this tedious task while also minimizing the risks of being injured.

The use of robotics in machine tending has been attributed to improved production capacity and product consistency. To avoid damages to newly injected molded parts, robots fitted with inflated grippers or vacuum can guarantee careful handling of the elements.

Insert Molding

Inserts are usually metal objects such as; pin, blade, or threaded rod. They are generally put inside the plastic mold either before or after the injection process. The 6-axis robots that are often used to load/unload an injection molding machine, can add these inserts into the molding.

Plastic Over-molding

This process is where two or more separate molded parts are joined together to form one finished product. Plastic over-molding requires different degrees for fast and accurate placement of components. Robots can be used to lift molded parts from the machine and place them onto another device for the over-molding process.

In-mold Labeling

In-mold labeling is a process for decorating or labeling plastic molded parts. It is usually done during the injection molding cycle. Robotics can be used to load pre-printed labels directly into the open plastic injection molds. Tags and decorations are then permanently engraved within the molded parts, hence becoming an essential part of the end product.

Conclusion

As a manufacturer, telling the different types of robots in the market and their applications can go along way in helping you make an informed decision. This article is intended to give you an insight into how the different types of robots are used in injection molding, and the various areas in which they can be applied.