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Topic: My Safety Valve Project on Indiegogo (subject changed) (Read 8636 times) previous topic - next topic


Feb 28, 2013, 08:09 pm Last Edit: Mar 22, 2013, 12:56 am by focalist Reason: 1


Despite every reason I shouldn't do this, I am.

Here, I am asking for contacts and grease for the wheels.  I will make the funds happen somehow.  More important will be people with the industry contacts I will need to make this happen.

The best meaning I can give to the death of my parents thirty years ago is to do what I can to make it a thing of the past for others.

You guys know that the technology behind this really is fairly trivial.  It is more important to capture the public mind than their wallet.  Making this a standard in the gas industry- the ultimate goal- will take cooperation with, and possibly sponsorship by, a large company with the legal and certification teams in place to certify such a device for use.   I need a Honeywell, Trane, Tyco, GE, someone of that scale.

The contacts exist here, we all know that.  Folks who know folks who know the people that make things like this happen.

Thirty years I have waited to face this monster, and I intend to beat it.  The Arduino project has been pivotal in this, making the microcontroller aspects attainable with so much less grief.

Thanks for the Arduino project, once again.  I am trying to change the world, just a little, with it.


Mar 02, 2013, 08:04 am Last Edit: Mar 02, 2013, 09:16 am by focalist Reason: 1
Tele, what you are  missing is that this is a cutoff for residential use.  It is specifically being designed for the purpose, and recent manufacturing changes has drastically reduced the pricing of key components (for example, MQ series sensors).

I'm kind of curious as to why integrating the gas detector (among other sensors, including inline pressure sensors both before and after valve) into the residential valve is such a bad idea in your opinion, considering that such equipment can exist for reasonable cost.  And actually- the flammable gas detector you advise would still leave my parents dead and three kids orphaned.  Since it was primarily the crawlspace where the leak occured, with little in the basement, a single alarm in the basement (normal placement) would have been of dubious value, even if they had existed at the time.  However, an inline pressure sensor would have sensed the drop in line pressure and lack of backpressure in the line.

Let me ask you this:  Such devices exist, cost has been the prohibitive factor, as you pointed out.  Only major expense operations could or would afford.  Now, you recommend that gas detector, somewhat effective- but why wouldn't you integrate that ALARM into a CUTOFF?  The very same sensor you recommend is the sensor in my design- except I go further in the full design, correlating across several sensor types to minimize false alarms.  In addition, I am proposing a change in valve standard from NO to NC.  Positive action via solenoid required for gas to flow.  Simple.  There's no legitimate reason for gas to be on to residence if the power fails.  Using the stove for heat means death by CO poisoning.  Since a manual bypass could still be enineered in (though why it would be is beyond me) there's still no drawback.  Happily, MQ series sensors detect CO.  The design also allows for both wired and RF linked sensors (2.4Ghz or 350 Mhz modules), which allows for multiple location monitoring for cheap.  Last but not least is that I plan to provide for integration into existing domestic alarm systems.  Addition of bluetooth or web interface is as simple as an SD card and ethernet or bluetooth module. What I did for the video was not for technical folks.  I wanted it to be simple and straight to the point.  My 84 year old father in law got it the first time he saw the one minute demo video.. which was the intent.  Trying to explain all the other stuff wasn't needed, and wouldn't help.  He, like most people, didn't know that this type of thing was even possible, much less within reach.  By the way, my neighbor, an OSHA inspector, is also intrigued.  Seems that maybe, just maybe, I might be the right guy in the right place saying the right thing at the right time, if I can pull it off.  That's the goal.

The demo I did for the video was extremely simple, just using a single MQ2 sensor.  Calibration isn't necessary for this demo because it operates on a delta rather than absolute (though absolute threshold is there too)... it senses a drastic change from sample to sample, therefore it is an alarm situation.  Rapidly rising gas concentration in the environment?  Shut it off... everything else is secondary.  Further, as the system is "smart" (not simple mechanical) it could also provide data and remote cutoff potentially, to the utility.

The reality is that this can happen now. The technology is affordable and reliable enough for this purpose- your recommended alarm shows that show this to be the case (as does the one I have, and have had for years, I am quite reasonably a little paranoid about such things). What it really needs is a catalyst.  I am trying to be that catalyst.  I am willing to tell my story, and offer a possible solution (even if it isn't the one eventually implemented) to get this ball rolling.  I did an interview for Patch.com which will run on Monday, and I hope to be talking with two local television stations next week.  Even if I totally fail, I can try.  If pulling together twenty five grand, trivial in terms of R&D money, has even an outside chance that it could make this happen--- I'd be a fool, and possibly be unable to feel too good about myself if I didn't give it all that I can... this is thirty years of an orphaned teen's motivation.  I want to make this happen for every right reason there is, and I don't care at all (Though I probably should) about making money from this.  It's about saving lives, It's about the idea that I may be able to prevent others from knowing what it is for the air to be on fire, concussion injuries, and the horror left behind.  I won't lie, thirty years later and there are times when.. well, let's just say that the nightmares and occasional daymares still won't stop completely.  Maybe I can make a little peace with a few demons by doing this, while I am at it.

As I said, the technology is relatively trivial.  The cost has become so.  What is needed now is capturing the public's imagination, a groundswell.  In November, a house blew up right here in my city (Crossroads, too) and the guy died.  There's a story every day of this.  I barely survived.. my home and parents didn't, and not a single thing has changed in terms of the valves since that day.  The same fault that killed them could kill anyone. Any time.  Given that, how can I not try to change it?

Considering that I have at least an outside chance of success, particularly if I can engage the proper resources- of creating some meaning from the tragedy, wouldn't it be the largest sin of all to NOT try?  


Rob Tillaart

Nederlandse sectie - http://arduino.cc/forum/index.php/board,77.0.html -
(Please do not PM for private consultancy)


Sorry for your loss.

The catalyst you need is money... potential money that will line up the manufacturer's pocket. If you can show manufacturers there's bajillion dollars that could be made, they'll be knocking out products tomorrow.  They'll also need to lobby in each state and ask to add/revise to their commercial and residential building codes the need for  automatic gas cutoffs.  So that means bribing lobbying lawmakers to do so and contributing to their funds.

To capture the public's attention, you need to market FUD. (Fear/Uncertainty/Doubt). Then the public will buy the idea, then they'll even write to their lawmakers and insist to make it a law, and lawmakers wanting a win in the next re-election will give them what they want.

So now you have all the pieces... a public that wants it, regulations and laws passed by the lawmakers, and manufacturers looking to make a buttload ton of money.


I am aware that someone, probably multiple someones, are going to end up making a lot of money at this.. And I am unlikely to be part of it.  I would need to already been in the patent process, too much has already been laid out.

The thing is, I can't let that stop me.  If I didn't do things just because the world isn't a fair place, I would never get out of bed.

If by doing this I end up ratcheting up awareness and thereby get something.. Even if it isn't mine.. Implemented by the industry then I will have succeeded. 

I can tell one hell of a story.  I'm putting myself up to capture the public eye (pity I am such a goofy looking little weirdo) and act as a focal point (ha!) for what I hope can be a media snowball.


Mar 02, 2013, 06:35 pm Last Edit: Mar 02, 2013, 06:55 pm by focalist Reason: 1
By the way, part of this is going to upgrading from a ten dollar home depot multimeter and dollar store tools.  Being disabled as I am, it basically impossible for me to work for someone else.. to call my work schedule erratic is an understatement.  Putting together a halfway reasonable bench here in my home is the right answer.  Living as I do, on a social security disability income, I have made do with what I can, but this should be done with at least the basic tools.

I could use a few recommendations for a bench and portable meter, a bench power supply, and an inexpensive storage oscilloscope capable of the frequencies we generally deal with in Arduino projects (Ghz not needed), and a good soldering station.

Thoughts?  I had a friend tell me to get a Fluke Scopemeter... Looks like an amazing device, but overkill and too expensive.  I am just trying to put together a little more reasonable workspace for this... :)

Selling the fear is easy.. I just need to pull up the news.  This happens all the time... As in every few days.

I can talk about those that died- a schoolteacher and a distinguished veteran.  I can do what will be needed- which is bring the reality and emotion when I am interviewed.. As I did with Patch.com. It's not a matter of trying to muster up some tears, it's a matter of holding them back enough to tell the story.

I know that at this point, it's people that are the real requirement, not the funding.  I could beg borrow and steal enough to finish a prototype, probably.  It needs to be more than that.  I need media visibility and groundswell.  Here's to hoping I can light a big enough fire to put out the ones I am trying to make a thing of the past!


We don't have any gas lines in our house, but this make sense. Our home heating oil tank has a fail-safe shutoff, why wouldn't you have the same thing on a gas line? Maybe something like the hardwired smoke detectors that we have to put in apartments now, but instead of going to a call box, it goes to a gas shutoff valve?


Have you considered trying a Kickstarter project proposal to raise needed capital and some free exposure. I don't think you have to risk anything to post a proposed project.




Though Kickstarter staff were helpful and enthusiastic about the project, Kickstarter's charter does not allow them to sponsor or allow safety-related devices.  They are paranoid of liability.

Indiegogo is very similar, and they worked with me to launch the campaign in only a few hours.  Same basic idea, except indiegogo is worldwide and not just United States.


I have also set up a twitter (my first ever) account for the project, @bishopvalve


Though Kickstarter staff were helpful and enthusiastic about the project, Kickstarter's charter does not allow them to sponsor or allow safety-related devices.  They are paranoid of liability.

Indiegogo is very similar, and they worked with me to launch the campaign in only a few hours.  Same basic idea, except indiegogo is worldwide and not just United States.


I have also set up a twitter (my first ever) account for the project, @bishopvalve

As would guess as any commercial firm that tried to actually sell something like that to the general public. It's one thing to sound an alarm but to actually control valves to shut off utilities I would think require a whole lot of approvals by the utilities supplying the home, the manufacture of the value, approval of the people/firm that would install the valve and system and signed off on it functioning correctly, etc, etc.

It's one thing to design such a system as your goal and intentions are good, but in this libellous country one would really need to lawyer up before one could actually manufacture, sell, and install such a system, at least that is my opinion.

But I do wish you luck. If Kickstarter wouldn't touch it with their rather limited role in such an adventure, I suspect will have trouble getting any kind of real business plan comprehensive enough to attach investors.

Good luck;



Mar 02, 2013, 11:15 pm Last Edit: Mar 02, 2013, 11:37 pm by focalist Reason: 1
Lefty-- Precisely my intent.  There's simply no way that a single person or even a small company can make this a reality.  Certifications alone, never mind actually making the device.

I am hoping that this device and campaign captures public attention enough that I can present the device to someone like a Honeywell or GE.. someone who can make the thing real.  Companies already entrenched in the industry, with the legal teams in place.

If there is visibility enough, my hope is that the groundswell is enough to have the public asking "Where is the one on my house?" and the manufacturer sees the hundreds of millions to be made off of replacing every gas meter in the country (or more) over a period of years.  

Though these events are rare, they are very graphic and horrific.  Houses blown to bits, heavy news coverage each time.  I'll edit back this and put up a few story links.  It doesn't take much to whip up fear (or more appropriately, concern and a desire to act) if you can present people with such a graphic, current image.  

We all know that I am far from the best engineer.  I am however motivated, and willing to see if I can change the world for the better.  The appeal I place here is not so much for donations but for possible contacts.  There are some very well connected people here, some under assumed names.  I'm crossing my fingers and hoping that the story passes in front of the right eyes.  If you can, tell folks you know about it.  The way I look at it, there's no possible downside to trying to make this a reality.  I truly believe that the money is a far-back second to getting visibility and public interest.  What I need is media attention, and although I am terrified of it, I also think I can make this happen if I can present the idea and the story.  What better poster child than a survivor of such a thing, one who is campaigning one possible cure to the problem?  This campaign at the core needs to be about getting people's minds on the subject, not necessarily on my particular whack at it.

The fact is, it is the right thing to do, and it ought to be in your house right now.  I am just enough of a loudmouth to possibly be able to engage folks if I can get the story and the intent in front of them.  As you know, I can't work.. at least not in the normal setting.  I feel like this is something productive I can do.  Even if it's not my valve that ends up making your home safer, maybe it will be BECAUSE of the ruckus that I make that someone else will.

That's all I want from this, really.  To not read these stories anymore, and be able to forget my own a little more, maybe.  :)

What it's all about, for me:

I am Paul.  I was about five feet in front of that chimney, watching cartoons on a Saturday morning, and the world ended.  This was thirty years ago.  If there's even a tiny chance I can stop these things, I have to.


I'm quite willing to perk some money. But I have some second thoughts on the process. I guess others will have them to so I'll share them here.

The first perk is 1$ which is fine (every dollar counts)
The second is already 250$. I know you're going for the big buck but this is a giant leap for a normal man. Something in between would be nice.
The 250$ perk states signed 8x10 of prototype. I really do not have a clue what that could be.
I hope this helps you out.
Best regards
Do not PM me a question unless you are prepared to pay for consultancy.
Nederlandse sectie - http://arduino.cc/forum/index.php/board,77.0.html -


Mar 03, 2013, 01:09 am Last Edit: Mar 03, 2013, 01:16 am by focalist Reason: 1
Well, it's been hard to come up with what would be relevant things I could actually offer.  For all the obvious reasons, I can't provide a valve, nor should anyone ever consider installing something home made into a gas line, what I am doing using even a propane camping cylinder is VERY dangerous and should NOT be attempted !!  (Worth saying)

I had many suggest to me to simply not offer any rewards, if for no other reason than to keep the focus on the project itself and not the token items which might cheapen it, in a way.  To be sure, anyone throwing money at this knows it's not an investment or a purchase.  The rewards are meant to be a come-on, but I think the project itself is the eyegrabber, not some "perk".

As I am a photographer of a sort too, I figured that the idea of the photobook for someone dropping that kind of money might at least be something I can provide.  The goal here is to get this viral, to get it built.  If in fact that happens, who knows.. maybe such a thing might be worth something, at least on a "I helped make it happen" level.  Maybe I watch too much Pawn Stars.   XD

You make a very good point relating to the perks, one that I have yet to come to a really good answer for.  I'm open to suggestions!  What I absolutely don't want to do is spend too much effort or cost in the perks department and thereby create more of a problem than is solved... this has been mulled over quite a bit, and I still haven't a decent answer.  Luckily, I can always ADD perks if I desire.


Mar 03, 2013, 01:21 am Last Edit: Mar 03, 2013, 01:25 am by Osgeld Reason: 1

I could use a few recommendations for a bench and portable meter, a bench power supply, and an inexpensive storage oscilloscope capable of the frequencies we generally deal with in Arduino projects (Ghz not needed), and a good soldering station.

Thoughts?  I had a friend tell me to get a Fluke Scopemeter... Looks like an amazing device, but overkill and too expensive.  I am just trying to put together a little more reasonable workspace for this... :)

meter: most of the time at work the 9.99$ sperry is the first one to be grabbed out of the bin, and at home my Tektronics DMM914 is easily replaced by my 19$ craftsmen for most basic applications. Dont get me wrong having a bad arse meter does provide you with much higher resolution and features, but for "yep thats high", "ok I am seeing 11.8 volts there good", "whoops thats a 10k instead of a 1k" or 80% of other electronics work use what you have and assess your needs as they come up (such as rs232 interface for data logging)

a bench power supply: handy, can be cheap, can be super expensive, theres a handful of reasonably stout regulated adjustable supplies with current limiting in the 70-100$ range. cheaper ones have analog needles, more expensive ones have calculator like LCD's. I keep eyeballing this one


I would not bother with one that doesnt have current limiting, I also do a lot of analog power designs these days, for arduino I have never had much need outside of wall wart and a little linear thing, I have a board with a 7805, a ld33, and a 317 with a knob that I use at home

scope: new ones obviously have a ton of features, DSO's have been around for decades, and while not as featured as a new lcd model I use a Kenwood CS8010 at home from 1987. It was free and outside of a few times its been perfectly fine for home. One was on ebay recently and sold for 61$ and 25$ for shipping (which is way too much for a 20Mhz DSO with 2 k of ram) but keep your eyes open.

soldering station: hakko (or if you want to cheap out hakko clone) its just a good iron that is not stupid expensive and parts are everywhere. I use a xytronic (which was about 50 bucks instead of 75 for a hakko), which I love but since the place I bought it from went out of biz the only place I can find tips is Jameco. Dont bother with models with a digital temp readout, they are just a pain in the butt to set IMO


Mar 06, 2013, 12:47 am Last Edit: Mar 06, 2013, 12:52 am by focalist Reason: 1

Hardwired and jammed in a 4x4 junction box..

ADMIN: Should this be moved to exhibition?  I figure I will keep linking the progress, so I suppose this has become a project log rather than bar sport kind of thing..

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