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Titan 15000 Laser Level

01 Sep 2010

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Like any other engineer, I love tools. When I saw a laser-level kit selling for $20 at a local electronics flea market, I purchased it with delight. My delight soon faded when I saw that the base was so wobbly that the laser spot would move up and down. Prying into the interior of the base, it became obvious that the design had several shortcomings. After a failed attempt at a field expedient, I obtained a permanent fix with my belt sander. From now on, I will beware of bargain tools at the flea market.

1. If you hold the base firmly against the table and put the slightest pressure on the laser, the spot would wobble due to the sloppy fit of the pivot mechanism.

2. The pivot mechanism was poorly designed. The boss and sleeve had excessive clearance that allowed the base to wobble. The sleeve was too long, so the top rested on the inner boss flange rather than on the plastic outer rim of the base.

3. A large plastic nut screws into this boss. Unfortunately, the boss is a bit long for manufacturing clearance, so the nut applied no pressure to the inner flange.

4. I took the level to a local burger joint as a team-building exercise. By cutting up a ketchup cup with a Swiss army knife and bending a paper clip, my fellow engineers fashioned a shim that considerably stiffened the assembly.

5. The fix involved sanding down the inner sleeve so that the top assembly would rest on its outer rim rather than the centre post. Sanding the inner boss tightened the assembly. I sadly disposed of the paper clip and homemade shim.

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