Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Engineer's Easel

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I sit in the diner attempting to explain to the doltish young software geek exactly how shock waves detach from coconut palms at hypersonic velocities. Unfortunately, the napkin I am working on was designed for bussing away blobs of beverage, rather than the elucidation of engineering exactitudes. At each stroke of the pen, the napkin cuddles the ballpoint and follows it along, creating a poorly placed blobdot rather than a precise, informative line.

Laughingly, my geeky young friend pulls from his pocket a sleek black object not notably different dimensionally from a pen. He unfolds it, revealing two hinges. At each hinge, a small clip protrudes a very short distance. Another clip resides at one end.

He snaps the two ends together, forming a right triangle. Picking up another napkin, he clicks the clips onto corner and sides. He clatters it across the table to me.

I now have a taut, effective drawing surface.

lurch, Apr 13 2003

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       Hmm. I've tried to picture this but not with success.
bristolz, Apr 13 2003
  

       Three flat bars. Two hinges. One snapjoint. Three clips: at hinges, and one side of the snapjoint.
lurch, Apr 13 2003
  

       Strangely, I can appreciate this idea as I've tried to draw 'napkin sketches' in the past. I've never once considered the design of a writing utensil specific to this task, though. I don't consider the market would be very large, but this idea could be beneficial... without considering that you can't see what you've written without moving your pen a few inches to the side.
X2Entendre, Apr 13 2003
  

       Hmm. Still don't see it. My visualization skills fall short on this one, I guess.
bristolz, Apr 13 2003
  

       I must confess I don't see it either. I'm seeing one corner of the napkin taut, but the rest hanging and flappy.
waugsqueke, Apr 13 2003
  

       I think I understand ... when assembled, it looks like 2 sides of a square picture frame, with a diagonal brace.   

       I think it will hold half of the napkin taut - but the portion of the napkin not being stretched would flop about. The brace might cause some trouble, unless it's *really* thin.   

       A cautious croissant, carefully stretched to show it's full glory.
Don Quixote, Apr 13 2003
  

       Yes, [waugsqueke] & [DQ], you have it. I would like to have done the whole napkin, but the rectangle does not brace as naturally as a triangle.   

       [X2Entendre] - It isn't the pen. It just happens to fold up to about that size for storage.
lurch, Apr 13 2003
  

       perhaps a telescopic device that when joined end to end, that gives you a taut ring shape rather like the gizmo used for needlepoint or embroidery.
po, Apr 13 2003
  

       We can use [gizmo] to sew things?
Don Quixote, Apr 14 2003
  

       Bless its pointy little head
thumbwax, Apr 14 2003
  

       Why not carry an embroidery vice? This is two circular strips of cane and a radial clamp on the outer one designed to hold taught material for embroidery.   

       Heck, why not use a notepad?
FloridaManatee, Apr 14 2003
  

       ...or a Japanese Army Fan?
thumbwax, Apr 14 2003
  

       FM, a true engineer will not carry a notepad on him. Far too organised. Fifteen different writing implements in the breast pocket, maybe a greying handkerchief and possibly some of those cute little packets of sugar from the canteen, but who needs a notepad when your desk drawer is stuffed full of used envelopes?
egbert, Apr 14 2003
  

       Tablet PC Napkin Edition
bristolz, Apr 14 2003
  

       I think it'd be tough to run Excel, Outlook and Project on *nix.
bristolz, Apr 14 2003
  

       ...and students.
bristolz, Apr 14 2003
  

       // Supports full versions of CAD, Excel, Access, Outlook and Project, using a dual Xeon 2.4GHz processor mainboard, 120GB HDD and 2GB of RAM, running Debian 3.0 or FreeBSD. //   

       But how is it on those really tough spills?
snarfyguy, Apr 14 2003
  
      
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