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Gadget Freak Case #221: Smart Toolbox Finds the Right Tool
7/27/2012

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Michael Hake (left) and Aron Seader (right), along with Kai Erickson and T.J. Shaul (not pictured), have created an intelligent toolbox that can look up a tool on its user friendly touch screen display.
Michael Hake (left) and Aron Seader (right), along with Kai Erickson and T.J. Shaul (not pictured), have created an intelligent toolbox that can look up a tool on its user friendly touch screen display.

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Beth Stackpole
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Blogger
What about the addition of an iPad?
Beth Stackpole   7/27/2012 7:23:38 AM
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Wow a fun application for DIY enthusiasts. I could see similar applications in the kitchen--a great way to organize all your fun kitchen gagdets and make them readily accessible for that complicated recipe. Also seems like an application that lends itself to the inclusion of an iPad or another tablet model for searching/reading through instructions. Nice work.

mdhake
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Iron
Re: What about the addition of an iPad?
mdhake   7/27/2012 1:29:23 PM
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Thank you. The idea of applying it to a kitchen is a great idea. The addition of an iPad or other tablet is a idea we did not think of and will be considered it if a Smart Toolbox version 2.0 is made.

jmiller
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Platinum
Re: What about the addition of an iPad?
jmiller   7/31/2012 8:31:26 PM
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I love the idea that it could help tell the operator which tool is to be taken.  Kinding of making sure the screwdriver doesn't get used as a chisel.  Great job guys.

gsmith120
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Platinum
Re: What about the addition of an iPad?
gsmith120   7/27/2012 2:01:20 PM
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Beth really good suggestion about kitchen drawers.  Not only is it good for regular style kitchens but also could really help in a handicap kitchen. 

This is a really cute idea and looks like it was fun to put together. 

Thanks for sharing your project.  How long did it take for you to complete?  Any plans on marketing it to consumers?

mdhake
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Iron
Re: What about the addition of an iPad?
mdhake   7/27/2012 5:04:22 PM
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It was alot of fun putting together. The project was a semester long project for our Mechatronics class. Construction time took pretty much the entire time due to the fact that it was worked on outside of class and some parts were hard to come by. We do not currently have any plans for marketing it to consumers because the entire project was relatively expensive with the parts we used. 

armorris
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Platinum
Re: What about the addition of an iPad?
armorris   7/27/2012 2:23:30 PM
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Really cool project. The touch screen could also be used as a lock to keep unauthorized people from stealing your tools, should they be able to pick the simple tumbler lock on the lid. Also, what do you do when the power goes out? You would need a pretty hefty battery and inverter to get access to your tools. Maybe a big computer UPS would be sufficient. Also, this thing has got to be quite expensive to make. It has a lot of "cool factor" though.

mdhake
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Iron
Re: What about the addition of an iPad?
mdhake   7/27/2012 5:09:19 PM
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We ran out of time but were going to add either and RF ID reader for touch screen access or password login. That way the toolbox could also keep track of who had what tools. Unfortunately we ran out of time and were unable to impliment this idea. We are still looking into a way to utilitze the toolbox if the power does go out. The UPS is a very good idea we haven't thought of that yet. Yes the device was pretty expensive especially with the cost of the tool box and touchscreen. 

jmiller
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Re: What about the addition of an iPad?
jmiller   7/31/2012 8:27:36 PM
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I love the idea of being able to track who has which tool.  Very helpful for small companies that may have one or two sets of tools that everyone uses. 

jmiller
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Re: What about the addition of an iPad?
jmiller   7/31/2012 8:27:56 PM
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I love the idea of being able to track who has which tool.  Very helpful for small companies that may have one or two sets of tools that everyone uses. 

Tool_maker
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Re: What about the addition of an iPad?
Tool_maker   8/8/2012 2:43:25 PM
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I love the idea of keeping track of tools. Will it be able to find those my son has borrowed? Will it be able to remind me about the screwdriver I put in my back pocket before I tear the seats in my car? I can find the stuff in my box, it is the borrowed, misplaced or lost tools I need help with.

BillG54
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Iron
Re: Intelligent Tool Cabinets
BillG54   7/30/2012 9:42:15 AM
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My company uses what we call intelligent tool cabinets in several assembly areas.  They are accessed via the employee's ID card.  The system logs time, date, user, tool(s) removed and logs the same information when they are returned.  They are quite expensive, so they are not something a homeowner could afford for their garage or work area.

mdhake
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Iron
Re: Intelligent Tool Cabinets
mdhake   7/31/2012 3:49:55 PM
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BillG54, If you don't mind me asking how do the tool boxes know what tool is taken? Does the operator type in what tool they are going to use?

BillG54
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Iron
Re: Intelligent Tool Cabinets
BillG54   7/31/2012 4:02:36 PM
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The larger tools have a RFID chip built into them.  The smaller tools like sockets have tip switches in the slots where they go in the drawers.  These are matched up by the processor to the tool numbers.  Reports show who took or replaced  each tool and on what day and time.  If a tool is missing, the screen shows who checked it out and when.  A handheld wand can be used to track it down if it is left somewhere.  Our purpose for them, besides keeping tool inventory, is to ensure that no tools are left inside an assembly when it is shipped from our facility.

jmiller
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Platinum
Re: Intelligent Tool Cabinets
jmiller   7/31/2012 8:29:39 PM
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Is this a commercially available system for tracking tools or something that your company put together?

BillG54
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Iron
Re: Intelligent Tool Cabinets
BillG54   8/1/2012 8:59:22 AM
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We bought the cabinets from a company called CribMaster, which is now owned by Stanley Black & Decker.  The ones we have cost anywhere from $15K to $20K, depending in size and options.

Cadman-LT
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Platinum
Re: Intelligent Tool Cabinets
Cadman-LT   8/2/2012 3:04:54 PM
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My favorite feature is that it closes up when all the tools have been put back. Help you keep from leaving tools lying around. They are always where they are supposed to be too. Nice work.

Cadman-LT
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Platinum
Re: Intelligent Tool Cabinets
Cadman-LT   8/2/2012 3:09:19 PM
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I wish I could have had this back when I was a machinist. People were always walking off with my tools...expensive tools! It's more or less your own person toolroom assistant for your toolbox.

Cadman-LT
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Platinum
Re: Intelligent Tool Cabinets
Cadman-LT   8/2/2012 3:12:45 PM
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And for those really nice guys that tend to say...I didn't borrow your "whatever" . Just wave the wand in front of their box!...busted! ...fired!...lol

bobjengr
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Platinum
Re: Intelligent Tool Cabinets
bobjengr   8/25/2012 3:10:47 PM
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This is truly awesome.  I am really impressed with the "invention "here.  I also can see one extremely viable and important application--surgery.  I know we may need this toolbox in the model shop, machine shop, lab, etc but we also need the ability to do just as you have demonstrated during and after surgery.  I can tell you a couple of horror stories about this one.  Great work.  I love the RFID capability and the ability to find a missing and/or borrowed tool.  As I mentioned, the operating room needs this "tool box".   Again-- great work. 

BillG54
User Rank
Iron
Re: Intelligent Tool Cabinets
BillG54   7/30/2012 9:42:27 AM
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My company uses what we call intelligent tool cabinets in several assembly areas.  They are accessed via the employee's ID card.  The system logs time, date, user, tool(s) removed and logs the same information when they are returned.  They are quite expensive, so they are not something a homeowner could afford for their garage or work area.

John Duffy
User Rank
Gold
cool gadget!
John Duffy   7/28/2012 10:19:09 AM
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Nice job!  I've wanted to build something like this for a while, but I don't have the materials or (most likely) the engineering ability.  Thatd be a very cool thing to have in a workshop. 

mdhake
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Iron
Re: cool gadget!
mdhake   7/31/2012 3:41:56 PM
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Hey John, I am sure you would be able to put on of these together if you had the materials the hardest thing was getting the circuit board soldered up and working in one shot.

Nugent_56
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Gold
Software upgrade
Nugent_56   7/30/2012 9:18:09 AM
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A cool enhancement to the software would be to identify specific tools needed either by color code or a numbering system. Trying to find a wrench for a oil pan plug often envolves grabbing a few wrenches in hope of getting the right one. There are colored sockets now that would tie into sucha scheme perfectly.  Good job! BTW, why are the drawers so noisy?

mdhake
User Rank
Iron
Re: Software upgrade
mdhake   7/31/2012 3:45:26 PM
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Nugent_56, Thank you! The drawers are noisy because the lead nuts used were the general purpose ones and have a slight amount of backlash allowing the lead screws to wobble ever so slightly.

Battar
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Platinum
Sticky fingers
Battar   7/30/2012 9:23:19 AM
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I can't see the point of it. Most of us buy far more tools than we need - shopping for tools is fun - and rummaging about in the tool box and sorting the screws by size is work therapy. What we really need is a toolbox that recognizes us and keeps other peoples fingers out, or triggers an alarm if the guy who borrowed our 6" adjustable spanner last Thursday hasn't returned it yet.

Tim
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Platinum
Nice invention
Tim   7/30/2012 10:06:27 PM
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This is a nice invention. It would be great if it kept an inventory, so if someone removed a tool, it could let you know.

Mydesign
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Platinum
Smart Tool Box
Mydesign   7/31/2012 4:49:42 AM
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1 saves
It seems like a miniature of voice base interactive tool box. If we are able to add some sort of intelligence with the help of sensors to the tool box, we can convert it to a smart tool box.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
What tools you need
Rob Spiegel   7/31/2012 11:08:06 PM
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One of the great things for this gadget is the software that matches a particular job with the tools you need for that job. 

JLAmann
User Rank
Iron
Enhancements
JLAmann   8/8/2012 9:01:15 AM
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Interesting and I see a system that has much potential.  How does the touch screen work with latex gloves; or what happens when a job requires tools from vertically adjacent drawers?  Could the program be configured for each step of the job which then potentially would remove the drawer conflicts! 

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