This project's funding goal was not reached on March 18, 2013.
About this project
Hello, First of all let me thank you for checking out my Kickstarter project! My name is Mark Melni and I have invented the Melni connector. My Invention has the potential to change the world of electrical connecting devices, making it extremely easier and faster to connect and reconnect power lines around the world! This connector will give any man or woman the ability to make an electrical connection in less than a minute! If you are an Electrician or Lineman you’ll understand the impact this device will have in your industry - please check out our video and it will become clear what our invention is and how it will affect electrical transmission.
*Consider this - If 1000 crimp connectors were down and each connector took 15 minutes to replace the total time it would take would be roughly 250 hours. The Melni connector is completely installed and waterproof in less than 1 minute – roughly 16 hours for 1000 connections! That equals 2 eight hour days as opposed to 31! Finished in roughly 7% of the time it currently takes… Crimps take so long because of the archaic tools, crimps, insulating tapes and hot or cold shrink insulators. The Melni connector is already insulated and uses very simple tools.
We will be using the funds we raise in our Kickstarter project to gain UL approval. Our goal is to be fully UL 486a-d certified by the end of the year!
The Melni Story
About six years ago I was in my garage and looked up at a package of miscellaneous electrical crimps and thought, "here’s something that hasn't been changed in over 60 years! There's got to be a better way to do this!" My idea came to me in a flash and I drew it up on the back of an old manual. When I showed this to my buddy (who's an electrician) he called me a choice name then told me “you might have something here - this is cool!”
Basically my invention uses a metal spiral that contracts down on top of the conductor. Once the conductor is attached, any force that pulls the conductor away from the connector creates more pressure (Think Chinese finger trap). We use compression glands to tightly seal out all moisture, air, gas and oil. The existing procedure for a 4/0 connector requires a crimp connector, crimp tool, tape, hot or cold shrink and about 15 minutes of labor!
In the past couple of years there's been numerous catastrophes where power has gone down and stays down for an extended period of time. I can't imagine the challenges these people face and the lineman working as fast as they can to restore power. My invention has the potential to minimize the time expended on these connections and make it so that stricken areas can get back on line much quicker. Occasionally linemen are required to make these connections while the power is still on. The Melni connector instantly insulates the conductor so the lineman is protected. Last winter I observed a lineman making a 4/0 connection in 9° weather. He had to remove his gloves and apply heat packs in order to continue. The connection took him close to 20 minutes to complete, after setting up his tools and then putting them away. My hope is that with the Melni connector it will reduce that time immeasurably and make the lineman/electricians jobs easier.
In the video below we actually energize a 1,700 square foot electrical shop with an actual Melni 4/0 connector. Check it out!;
The Melni Butt Splice connector is the flagship product and the one that has been through the most development and testing. The Melni Butt Splice has several advantages over the crimp connectors currently in use.
Here is a testing video from the Idaho National Laboratory.
Below is a picture of the connector that will be included with the rewards.
Ease of Installation: The Melni connector is easy to use. Just insert the stripped cable, twist the end caps to tighten the patented spiral insert, and then tighten the waterproofing caps. *(Larger connectors require an Inexpensive wrench set to cinch them down.The tools are required by UL to set a standard torque value. We found that the extra torque allowed us to reach almost 3 times the UL pull test standard. Recommended torque values are approximately 14 lbs., Still less than a minute to install.) Below are pictures of the wrenches.
Installation Time: A crimp-style connector can take up to 15 minutes to fully install. First the actual crimps must be applied, then layers of tapes and wraps to seal it out from the elements. The Melni connector can be installed in less than a minute.
Waterproof Connection: The Melni connector is waterproof with sealing caps that compress a neoprene bushing around the cable.
Available - Clear body design: This enables electricians and linemen to quickly spot a faulty connector by allowing them to look at the copper insert through the clear polycarbonate body. (Standard model will be black or color-coded to indicate size.)
The cable is saved when replacing a connector: A Melni can be cut in half and replaced without having to cut out a section of the conductor. This is a huge plus when you're dealing with buried cable.
Works well on both stranded and solid conductors: It even works on 'ultra flex' cables that have many more strands.
Toolbox Simplification: It’s no longer necessary to keep a list of things needed to make a proper connection, like the barrel crimp, crimper, proper dies for the crimper, and all the tapes and shrink wraps.
Less Excavation: The tools used for the large Melni connectors are only 9 inches long. This allows the connector to be installed in a 12 inch trench.
Melni Production Process and Plan
For the last 6 years I have been working on this project. Right know we are at the point where we need your help to obtain the funds to get UL approval and to produce our first series of connectors. We have the molds and we are ready to go!
2006 - Partner and Board member selection.
2007 - First prototype tested, original prototypes were in 6 AWG.
2009 - Introduction of 4/0 concept. Preliminary pull tests were performed at BSU.
2010 – May I won the Idaho Tech Launch 7 – Entrepreneur or the year for the 4/0 connector.
2010 – September 14th we received our first Patent.
2010 to present – Preliminary testing the connectors to make sure they will pass all the UL testing.
2011 – Water proofing gland introduced.
2012 – First molded parts were made.
2012 – Established workshop for preliminary electrical and mechanical testing including waterproofing.
2013 – Prepare to submit connectors to UL for official testing.
2013 – Prepare for commercialization.
2013 – Manufacturer partner selection (in the USA).
Please see our website for testimonials from some of our local supporters that have been able to experience the way our connector actually works. Check out what they have to say!
Risks and challenges
RISKS & CHALLENGES
Anytime you're dealing with electrical connectors there are risks involved. Our device must be perfect before it hits the market.. We set up a laboratory to test and retest our devices. These tests are extremely time-consuming and expensive! They can literally take months to accomplish. We will be using the funds we raise in our Kickstarter project to gain UL approval and create the perfect connector. Our goal is to be fully UL 486a-d certified.
It was extremely difficult to find time to complete the project and still be able to provide for my family. The economy shifted half way thru and getting financial backing became a true test of perseverance.
The biggest challenge we have had is funding. To get a project to market that has the potential to improve an industry is difficult but we are up to the challenge and ready to move forward.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
UL (Underwriters Laboratories) was established in 1894 and has participated in the safety analysis of many of the last century's new technologies, most notably the public adoption of electricity and the drafting of safety standards for electrical devices and components. They provide safety-related certification and testing services to a wide range of clients, including manufacturers and consumers. In order for me to bring the connectors to US market they MUST be UL certified. My invention is very unique and our representative from the UL labs is not sure that the current testing procedures will accommodate my connector. So far our preliminary testing at INL completely blew the UL standards 'out of the water' !! Its all Good! If you have any questions about the invention - let me know. God bless!
- (38 days)