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An Inside Look at the Recorders for All Design Process

September 29, 2016
By Stephen Thomforde

Wednesday morning, the [Recorders for All][1] team met to review the engineering progress so far. It was great to get the entire team together. The engineers ([Claudia][2] and Kevin) shared their research, and our usability team was able to provide guiding feedback on the current design. These meetings are critical to keep all team members focused and on the same page.

In a nutshell, things are going well! Although a malfunctioning laser cutter recently slowed engineering work (the laser is cutting at an angle), the team has been exploring different methods of attaching keys to the recorder body.

An original goal was to create a universal key to fit over any of the recorder's holes (including the two split holes). This would make it easier for users to attach keys themselves since the key seal was contained in the design. The best way to do that was in two separate pieces: the base would attach directly to the recorder, and the key would attach on top of the base and make a reliable seal. The closure could also be swiveled any direction to provide the most flexible key placement.

Claudia and Kevin created multiple versions of the initial tube for us to test. Unfortunately, extra space above the hole does lower the pitch. One version lowered the tone by a half step! There was a shorter version that lowered the pitch by only a quarter step, which is still too much.

On the plus side, we have learned a lot about glue. One of the best solutions is easily obtainable at hobby shops. This glue worked really well on the 3D printed samples we made. 3D printed key mounts could withstand six pounds of pressure in the form of a hanging water bucket. Engineers are resourceful people!

Claudia describes some of prototypes she and Kevin have developed so far.
Kevin explains some of the characteristics of a prototype.
Concept Sketch
By incrementally adding weight to the key base, Claudia and Kevin could precisely gauge the strength of the various glues.

Progress is incremental at times on a design project, and the cadence is often set by meetings like this one. We learned a great deal from these prototypes and I can't wait to see the next ones. #### Things We’ve Learned So Far * The pad has to sit directly on the recorder hole. * Duco Glue works REALLY well. No strength problems here! * 3D printing seems like the best way to distribute the keys. #### Things We Are Still Working Out * The best way to attach the keys—we have some ideas, nothing finalized yet. [1]: /pages/recorders-for-all.html [2]: /pages/claudia-truesdell.html