Project image
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$7,143
pledged of $125,000pledged of $125,000 goal
71
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Sun, May 4 2014 9:46 PM UTC +00:00
$7,143
pledged of $125,000pledged of $125,000 goal
71
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Sun, May 4 2014 9:46 PM UTC +00:00

About

More than ever, we need easy access to power, and our devices consume both high voltage house current and steady low voltage USB.

For Home or Office

Until now, our choices have been limited to aesthetically challenged power strips, that we hide under desks. Our vision, was to re-imagine the power strip, to be energy efficient and give access to all outlets. The result, is industry leading energy efficiency, enough USB power to charge all of your devices - fast, in a unique patent pending non-blocking outlet design that you would want to show ON your desk, kitchen counter, living room, conference room, or anywhere where it can be seen, used, and enjoyed.

Seriously configurable


Each joint rotates 270 degrees and indexes at 90 degree increments. That's four possible positions for each of the seven joints (4^7) giving 16,384 positions. Many are not physically possible but that still leaves many thousands that are.

Sleek energy efficient back-lit design 

Ultra low power internal LEDs provide a soft glow that illuminates the USB power ports and just looks cool. 

Charge Multiple Devices at once

With 5 Amps of USB power on tap, we designed the power supply to be able to detect and charge multiple devices at their full charging rate! 

Color Options 

The primary color of our first production run will be chosen by YOU, in our backer color poll. In this democratic process backers of our Kickstarter campaign get to vote for the color of the first production run. Backers will have a unique code providing them a single vote on twistvolt.com

Check out our website twistvolt.com to see the renderings of these colors. 

Pledge

How it started

There I was, standing in my kitchen faced with a simple task of recharging my phone, laptop, my wife's iPad, and my son's Kindle. Each device comes with a uniquely shaped power adapter and they don't play nice together, as I found out when I tried to plug them into a standard power strip with six outlets. Each adapter blocked the other and after several minutes of going through many combinations, it was clear, there was no way to plug them all in. Frustrated, I thought out loud, "why can't I use all of the outlets"

Brainstorming the problem led to several possible ways to move the outlets so that they don't block each other. As a kid I remembered a toy puzzle with blocks capable of rotating 90 degrees. Then I started sketching. 

Here are some of my first sketches of the idea.

Sketches and brainstorming
Sketches and brainstorming

Very rough, non-functional mock-ups to refine the size and form factor. This exercise was very useful to test the overall dimensions.

These were some of the early physical models
These were some of the early physical models

Validating the concept with different power adapters.

Developing the USB low voltage power supply presents many challenges. You would think delivering 5 volts would be a piece of cake - not really. It turns out that most of the USB chargers on the market are very cheaply built and downright dangerous. Our first step, was to examine some of the proven designs on the market: the iPad 12 watt charger and the reference designs from Fairchild Semiconductor and Texas Instruments.

TI reference design to supply
TI reference design to supply

Building the USB nodes by hand. These components will be mounted on a single pcb in the production design.

My droid taking it's first sip of TwistVolt power!

Under the hood: Each node (rectangular extrusion) includes a standard NEMA 5-15R outlet mounted in the center face. Here, I used snap-in modules inset to be flush. The production version will have these mounted on the underside of the face with only the plug holes visible. The USB port is mounted on the neutral side to create more distance between the load (hot) leg, both for safety and to reduce interference (creepage and clearance).

The power supplies are mounted in the end nodes. They take up quite a bit of space, so there is no outlet in that node. Also, notice a double USB port on one node. In testing, these proved to be spaced to close together to be useful though, so our final design keeps it single.

Load testing and efficiency
Load testing and efficiency

The entire fab and assembly, even the plastic node fabrication, was accomplished in my well equipped laboratory. After a year of research and development I have a fully functional prototype.

My family rigorously tested and used TwistVolt daily. I can't believe how useful it has become for us. We have so many more applications with the available USB power. Not only smart phones, but, cameras, quad copter batteries and even USB powered task lights were just plugged in.

Charging my son's flip video recorder and camera battery and radio plugged in.
Charging my son's flip video recorder and camera battery and radio plugged in.

I was surprised to find that we have more devices that require USB power than we have available USB ports. We hardly ever use our desktop computers anymore, and finding a charging port is not that easy.

When outlets are at different heights, the TwistVolt can adapt.

Direct Outlet or Extension Cord

Unique among power strips, TwistVolt has a built-in plug to attach directly to a receptacle on your wall or you can attach the matching 6 ft extension cord. 

What makes TwistVolt better?

Anyone can buy a cheap USB power supply, but, what are you getting for your money? It's hard to know unless you plug it into an oscilloscope.

If we could only see the quality
If we could only see the quality

The vast majority of the USB chargers are feeding your expensive electronics "dirty" electricity. Unstable voltages, under volt, over volt (yikes), spikes, and lot's of noise. Just have a look at some of the downright scary USB power supplies on the market (Blog review of power supplies, or USB Power Supply/charger Test and tear down).

So why is Twistvolt different? This may get a little technical, but, hang in there. We not only want our power to be clean and stable, we want it to have very good qualities. Today, the gold standard for device power supplies is held by Apple. Which is why they do NOT want you charging your iPhone with a cheap imitation charger (see their Power Adapter Takeback Program). These devices demand clean, stable, quiet (low ripple), power. Our design, uses integrated circuits, like the TPS40170 to dynamically adjust and tune the power. And we don't stop there, we also use a smart chip to identify the device being charged and deliver exactly the amount of power it requires.

Our prototype was designed to deliver up to 10 Amps line voltage AC with 4.2 Amps of continuous USB 5V power with extraordinary characteristics of low ripple, minimal spiking, and very low noise. We now have our 5 Amp USB power ready for this campaign.

We have also included circuitry for high energy efficiency ~80%. (most wall-warts are lucky to get 60%) And TwistVolt won't become a "vampire", when your device is finished charging from our USB port TwistVolt detects it, goes to standby mode and reduces the power consumption to 15mW! (that's tiny) 

These parts and design features do add to the overall cost of the circuitry. High quality parts are more expensive too, but, we are taking a no compromises approach with TwistVolt.

Specs (TwistVolt +USB)

  • Input: 120V 60Hz (USA Standard house current)
  • Output: Six (6) power plugs 120V AC polarized with ground
  • Output: SIx (8) USB power outlets 5V DC, 5A MAX
  • Circuit breaker, rated 15A
  • Exchangeable, surge suppression module with protection indicator

Patent Pending :)


We are happy to announce that our Patent Application has been filed with the US patent office! We are glad to be able to bring this design into the world and we can officially say that TwistVolt is Patent Pending.


Ready for Manufacturing

Detailed CAD models of the node bodies, housings, joint bearings, electronics, and components have been developed to ready TwistVolt for injection molding, PCB fabrication and board assembly. We have used the latest parametric, solids modeling technology to develop accurate components and features that aid in validating our production and assembly process.

Making it a reality

Michael has fifteen years experience in bringing vision to reality. He is trained as an Architect and received his Masters degree from Harvard University. He has designed and built his own CNC fabrication machine to develop compound curved surfaces in plastic for which he received the Snider Prize for innovation in design.

Prior work: Compound curve generator - By Michael Schroeder
Prior work: Compound curve generator - By Michael Schroeder

Our plan flows from our pull-planned schedule. We have multiple (parallel) swim-lanes, that define our manufacturing conditions of satisfaction outlined as follows:

  • Injection molding design verification and testing: Here we are establishing that our design conforms to the plastic injection tooling requirements. We have minimized the number of undercuts and side-actions to reduce the complexity of the part and increase flexibility. We have also chosen materials for the body that have good electrical and thermal characteristics. We may still need to change materials, depending on how the testing goes.
  • Metal stamping: We have two different companies with similar experience in fabricating metal stamped parts for electrical applications. Their costs are stable and can tool to meet our schedule. Still, there is the possibility that we may need to use a different stamping fabricator, which would impact our schedule.
  • Power Supply: Engineering and PCB layout, the engineering schematics are established the our proof of concept PCB layout. Our plans are for a simple two layer board that can be arrayed with multiple PCB boards in a standard sized SMD pick and place machine. We have chosen to have the boards produced in the US to ensure quality of components.
  • Assembly: Key to making TwistVolt affordable, is reducing the assembly costs. Here our effort in the design stage pays off, as we have developed a unique joint and clamping mechanism that allows for all of the complex parts to be assembled and snapped together. These snap fittings are not under load and will not weaken with use. Having a quick assembly process allow us to have more confidence in our schedule and labor.
  • Shipping, fulfillment  This is the primary goal of all of our efforts, so, we will ensure that we have the correct order information with the item as it flows to our carrier. We don't stop there.  We want your feedback to help make it even better. You will have an individual backer number, so that we can prioritize your feedback in our continuous improvement process.

We need your help

We will use the Kickstarter funds for production tooling of injection molds. And we can push costs down even further with a volume order of more parts.

Another large up front cost is part of our NRE (non-recurring engineering), plastic injection mold tooling. To mass produce the plastic parts, the negative of each part is cut out of aluminum (steel for higher production runs).

Our USB power supplies need more testing and fine tuning. We will use these funds to conduct stress testing and rigorous device testing (tablets, phones, etc.) to ensure that they meet our expectations and make adjustments as necessary.

Finally, a UL stamp of approval is a factor for retailers. And it's not cheap. We need the funds to continue our certification efforts and get that little UL mark. ETL provides an industry recognized certification that we'll be pursuing in parallel.

Going Global

From the beginning, international outlet standards have been kept as a design constraint. So incorporating different power standards would not require a complete redesign. Our plan includes bringing TwistVolt to the EU and Asia. These countries require another certification process and round of patent filings. Our initial efforts are focusing on the North American market exclusively.

Estimated Timeline

  • April-May: Kickstarter campaign, and ongoing color voting
  • May-July: Color votes tallied, tooling, design iteration, and preliminary parts orders, PCBs
  • July-September: Final tooling, Production staging, pre-certification testing
  • October: Certification, Production, Assembly
  • November: Certification, Production, Assembly, and Shipping,
  • December: Assembly and Shipping

As a backer you will have immediate feedback on our progress as we move forward through the production plan and have access to our online community of backers for news and updates at TwistVolt.com

Let's reinvent the power-strip together. Thank you Kickstarters!

Risks and challenges

TwistVolt is built from the ground up and as a manufactured product there are risks and challenges along the way.
Often projects struggle from lack of organization and understanding of the design, development and production workflow.
TwistVolt follows a Lean Six Sigma manufacturing approach, an industry leading recognized method for delivering maximum value to the customer - that's you. This gives us confidence in our planning, production and delivery methods and schedule. It also gives us a method to adapt as we expect to encounter many obstacles.

Our goal is to obtain the high standard of UL, however, this testing lab is notorious for taking a very long time to certify. Therefore, we have looked into other industry recognized certifications such as ETL that apply the same standards of UL but much faster turn around.

We demand the best possible plastic tolerances, color, and finish quality. This has narrowed our possible set of plastic injection molding providers to three US based companies who have all given assurances to meet or exceed our proposed production schedule. Still there are differences in the production tooling that could extend the fabrication time. We have developed a website to keep everyone informed of our progress at every stage. We will publish our pull-planned schedule and keep everyone abreast of any delays and how we are addressing them. This also serves as a additional feedback mechanism to hear your suggestions.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 5 or more About US$ 5

    High-five from us, and the satisfaction of knowing that you helped bring power-strips to the 21st century. Your name will be listed as an early backer on our website. Thanks!

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    3 backers
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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 49 or more About US$ 49

    <TwistVolt Standard>
    You get a TwistVolt with our patent pending transformable outlets, without USB ports. Great for places USB's don't dare travel.
    Features:
    - 6 transformable AC outlets
    - Integrated circuit breaker

    The color will be decided by backers in our backer poll and you will get one vote.
    (US voltages only)

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    3 backers
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 89 or more About US$ 89

    <TwistVolt +2 USB>
    Features:
    - 2 USB power ports
    - LED backlit side panels
    - 6 transformable AC outlets
    - Integrated circuit breaker

    The color will be decided by backers in our backer poll and you will get one vote.
    (US voltages only)

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    2 backers
    $

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 99 or more About US$ 99

    <TwistVolt +8 USB> *Early Bird*
    Features:
    - 8 USB power ports.
    - LED backlit side panels
    - 6 transformable AC outlets
    - Integrated circuit breaker

    The color will be decided by backers in our backer poll and you will get one vote.
    (US voltages only)

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 48 backers
    $

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 99 or more About US$ 99

    <TwistVolt +4 USB>
    Features:
    - 4 USB power ports
    - LED backlit side panels
    - 6 transformable AC outlets
    - Integrated circuit breaker

    The color will be decided by backers in our backer poll and you will get one vote.
    (US voltages only)

    Less
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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    3 backers
    $

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 129 or more About US$ 129

    <TwistVolt +8 USB>
    Features:
    - 8 USB power ports.
    - LED backlit side panels
    - 6 transformable AC outlets
    - Integrated circuit breaker

    The color will be decided by backers in our backer poll and you will get one vote.
    (US voltages only)

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    1 backer
    $

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 149 or more About US$ 149

    <TwistVolt Limited>
    Signed by the inventor.
    Features:
    - 8 USB power ports.
    - LED backlit side panels
    - 6 transformable AC outlets
    - Integrated circuit breaker

    The color will be decided by backers in our backer poll and you will get one vote.
    (US voltages only)

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 0 backers
    $

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 169 or more About US$ 169

    <TwistVolt PowerMax>
    Features:
    - 8 USB power ports. (deliver up to 5 Amps!)
    - LED backlit side panels
    - 6 transformable AC outlets
    - Integrated circuit breaker
    - Surge power protection

    The color will be decided by backers in our backer poll and you will get one vote.
    (US voltages only)

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    8 backers
    $

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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 2,900 or more About US$ 2,900

    <TwistVolt Full Metal> Aluminum frame TwistVolt. Milled from billet aluminum. Also, you will receive a picture of your TwistVolt in the inventors hands with a signed note, a 3ft, 6 ft, and 8 ft matched power cord, and your name will be listed as an early backer on our website.
    (US voltages only)

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    Limited 0 backers
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Funding period

- (30 days)