Failed prototype: Octopus Relay box

At Invent Marine we love to try different ideas, tweak and experiment. That is what makes product development so exciting.
This time, the problem we were trying to solve was cable management. Everybody hate cables, sometimes they are difficult to hide, some other times they are too short. Also, the existing “power boxes” included in popular products, like Reef Angel and Apex, don’t do much to solve this problem. So, we thought we could give the power box a different look.

Octopus Relay box

Octopus Relay box

We called the project “Octopus Relay box” for obvious reasons and it didn’t work very well. It was a failed project, but as they say: “learn from your failures”. We certainly learned a lot with this one.

This project failed for a couple of reasons:
1. Cutting the cables to size is a irreversible process. If it gets cut too short, only a new cable would fix it and that isn’t an user friendly solution.
2. Most people don’t feel comfortable to mess with electrical appliances and mistakes could potentially cause shorts and fire.
3. It is heavy. Good quality cables can weight a lot.
4. Once the box is attached to a cabinet, nobody wants to remove it to cut cables when a new appliance is installed.
5. In most cases, the device’s cable (pumps, heaters, etc) are long enough or too long and the user would have to deal with it, anyway. Having a power soruc that can be cut to size, connected to a device that can’t, wasn’t going to be of much help.

It has failed as a comercial product, but has potential to be a nice DIY project. It is cheap, easy to build  and we plan to release the project as open source, for any DIYers out there. Total cost is below AUD$50.00.

Update: Check out source code and instructions for the Open Power Bar on Github.