Diaries of the no electric Ball Launcher

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Project Brief:

To increase participation in Cricket via a product innovation that enhances the inspiration elite level performers have on young players. The innovation must provide an affordable alternative to the multi-person limitations of the game, whilst bettering the expensive electronic bowling machines already available.
  • No Electric (to reduce restriction by European CE mark regulation)
  • Simple manufacturing method
  • Sub £50 manufacturing cost
  • Sub £100 retail price
  • Minimal weight to meet shipping regulations
  • Safe and fun to use by aged 10+
  • Robust and easy to reload
  • Accessible to poorer countries


The Mark 1 Land Rover has been serviced for over 40 years in Sub-Saharan African countries and the 3rd World. Due to its operational simplicity and availability of parts, the absence of electricity allows much less to go wrong and product longevity to be enjoyed.

If you work in Design you are either helping other people create something or building something that is for the general betterment of the world.

The first primitive wooden model was made in the winter of 2016; the first of the 4 winters spent designing this product.

A total design experience – deliberately taking away the safety nets to get the best out of my creativity.

The reality is, the best innovations in the world came from a desperation. A degree in design houses important fundamentals, but frankly they pale into insignificance compared to the dexterity required to solve real problems whilst living a real life.

In the first 11 months of this project, I worked between 3 and 4 days a week mixing up for 3 brick layers. On the remaining days, I went about conceptualizing the 6 main components of this brief. Or in other words, the 6 different design briefs.

The 6 aspects of this product:

  • Delayed Release
  • Striking Cam Rotational Output
  • Striking Cam Trigger
  • Striking Cam Reload
  • Ball Striking Zone
  • Collapsible Stand that’s height adjustable
In Design, the basic research behind modelling and testing concepts is crucial, but the thing that allowed this idea to become reality came from the assembly of a CNC Router. A machined finish is a step most have to pay for externally, but I managed to do it on one machine. All the testing that proceeded was moulded around a specific manufacturing method and even successful testing was discarded if it didn’t meet this specification; not that those discoveries won’t resurface in the future.

I’m sure there will be financial rewards for this work, but there is no doubting the importance it could play in the wider community. Surely, it is living between these two rewards, that makes life the best it can be?!

Nothing keeps you warmer and gives you more energy than the belief that what you’re doing is your purpose.

I grew up in insolvent businesses (the strains of which were created by borrowing credit) therefore to take the pressure off, I was doing this one organically. It was an investment in the soul, as I embraced the suffering required to execute my plan. I’m totally aware of the enormous opportunity presented by our times. I’m also very lucky to live in an innovation focused society, with large tax benefits for R&D as well as generous expense allowances for start-up businesses.

In the 1219 days of this project, it is not only the product that evolved, but the Designer too. In that time I’ve gone from being a post graduate labourer (with some further experience in online stores, property renovation and a few design commissions) to the operator of CNC machinery capable of producing consumable parts. The programmes are made from highly accurate extruded models created within industrial design software.

There is a very interesting point that comes when you give a person something that challenges them. Most people – when given a task that makes them think, have a point where they say, “I’ve had enough” and want to move onto thinking about or doing something else. When you really focus hard on something for a long time, there is often an overwhelming temptation to quit because it makes the brain hurt. Depression makes people so tired because their brain is in a spin 24/7.

An experiment into the dexterity of our consciousness

I don’t look at nature and see many other species that have been tasked with ability to think with dexterity quite like ours. We challenge ourselves with our imagination and that’s totally unique to us. Further more, we now seem to live in a world where we’re almost encouraged not to think.

To skim the surface of the heritage attached to our early predecessors, reveals a very obvious difference in priorities – most of which are spiritual.

Spirituality gets the best out of consciousness because it frees up our minds.

When Robert Schoch (American associate professor of Natural Sciences) first visited the Sphinx, he knew the hydraulic weathering caused by precipitation on the surrounding walls dated it as a much earlier monument than we’ve been told by mainstream Egyptology. The point is, we’ve been looking at the architectural and geometric magnitude of this ancient site through todays eyes. To me, technological ambition succeeds awareness. This was a culture that built technology to supplement their understanding of themselves and not the other way round. For example, today, sound is approached from a purely musical and commercial point of view, whereas in Egypt, vibrations and sound were used in medicine.

Back to the Garage….

Adventures previous were all about going somewhere and making drastic changes to my external world. This, was adventure of a different kind – akin to discovering an event that hadn’t happened yet. An adventure of the mind; every single day I studied the events of basic research to discover my way to the solution, moving from one failure to the next with no loss of enthusiasm. The days I seemed to make the most progress were the days I took a break from the design and went to earn a cash injection on the building site.

It’s going to be very difficult to put into words how the answers were fed to me on the days I was focusing on nothing else but shovelling earth and moving heavy objects, but they were. Having a holiday on a building site is a strange concept to explain. Let’s just call it, residual feedback.

Continual improvement trumps delayed perfection, but waiting for perfect is sometimes as effective as making progress.

Have you ever sat back and really thought about who benefits from the work you’re doing?Why are you doing what you’re doing, truly? What benefit would it be, for each person on earth to be submitting their days to an individually self fulfilling prophecy?

Could there be a science behind those who are courageous enough to give?

As a fully functional design prototype, the internal components are a great platform for what’s next. The current part count is 47 and the plan now is to reduce that to around 4 – through design for injection moulding.

The previous 3 years have only given me more energy and more belief; I’m just getting started. I can’t expect to do anything at an elite level that isn’t slightly obsessive. Nature always finds a way and it was only the most extreme conditions that enabled me to master a design philosophy that can succeed with such a tiny budget.

Great design cannot be rushed.

Before I began the project I decided to cycle over the Pennines (from Leeds to St Helens). It was a 115km – 4000m incline wearing a 15kg rucksack. I was on the Bike about 8 hours. Although this appears a strange way to build confidence, the ability to realise my imagination was going to be at the heart of everything I was about to do. When we’re in a situation where we have no choice… is when we start to find out who we really are. Our integrity is exposed one layer at a time.

It’s always been my belief that a person programmes their strength on a thought by thought basis. You’re either someone that wants to do the hard thinking or you’re not. It’s the total failure of our society, that conditions us to detach our thinking from the laws of entropy.

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