SpaceTEC’s Overview on Screwdrivers and Screw Heads

Greetings, avgeeks!

I received some encouraging feedback from my last post about SpaceTEC so I figured I would serve up another helpful short clip. Instead of safety wires, this brief guide covers the basics about screwdrivers:

Of all hand tools, screwdrivers are among the top in terms of popularity and usefulness. And yet they are not complex devices that require a PhD. As SpaceTEC states as a running footer in the above clip, screwdrivers offer simplicity when it comes to applied mechanics; they are made for the sole purpose of loosening or tightening screws. Nothing hard to understand there.

Search for a screwdriver and your head might get all twisted up since there are a variety of types—everything from slotted to jewelers. So how in the heck do you choose what is right for your application or assemblage?

According to SpaceTEC, screwdrivers are “classified by shape, type of blade, and blade length.” They recommend selecting the largest blade (or bit) that will fill the screw head. This makes sense. Why? If you’ve ever tried to fit too large of a bit into the head, you know that it obviously won’t work. Neither will trying to place a bit too small into the screw head. They won’t fill in the hollow correctly. They also won’t effectively turn the screw. Instead, a bit that is too small or too large for a socket will warp and misshape the screw head so that the right blade won’t even work. Oh, and it can even damage the bit itself. Talk about a frustrating and costly blunder.

The two most well-known screwdrivers are the straight/common/ flathead (which fit with slotted head screws) and Phillips head (which fit in heads that form perfect crosses). There’s also offset screwdrivers that have a Z-shape and are composed of two right angles that are designed for use in hard-to-reach areas. Offset screwdrivers can have tips that are either common or Phillips or both.

To select an appropriate screwdriver the main issue revolves around the screw head. Therefore it is really the screw that determines how to select the right driver. SpaceTEC lists nine screw heads, which are briefly identified below:

Slotted – The most basic type. Can’t get any simpler than this design and in fact it is probably the oldest and cheapest to make. A straight vertical or horizontal (depending on your position) line down the middle of the head.

Phillips – Perhaps the most famous. Try and not find this type of screw head. It’s certainly a household screw. Its cruciform shape allows for better torque.

Pozidriv – Nope, that is not a misspelling; the Pozidriv (which may or may not be derived from the term “positive drive”) is another cruciform type head. However, it almost looks like it is a “bloated” cross, i.e. kind of widened in the mid-section. An advantage over its predecessor: it has straight flanks as opposed to the round flanks of Phillips. This helps prevent what is referred to as “cam out,” i.e. that accidently and incredibly frustrating time when the screwdriver slips out of the screw head.

Torx – Also known by its less appealing, technical name “hexalobular.” This recess is designed to resemble a star with six points. This allows for greater torque while resisting the tendency to cam out. That results in less fatigue on your hand but also prolongs the life of the bit on your screwdriver.

Hex – Short for hexagon, it has a six-sided polygonal shape. It is specially designed for use with Allen wrenches (or “keys”). The advantage here comes with size: Allen keys can fit and rotate in smaller areas where other screwdrivers can’t.

Robertson – A good way to know this screw head’s advantage is by remembering this: “Robertson retains.” It has a square-shaped socket (indentation or recess). Its tapered design offers reduced cam out and product damage while speeding up production. This type of head is used prominently in Canada.

Tri-wing – As the name indicates, this screw head has a triangular recess with three wings extending from the vertices of the triangle. This socket was particularly designed for use in aeronautics but has since been extensively used for electronics equipment in other industries.

Torq-set – Another cruciform. Don’t adjust your glasses, this socket looks similar to a Phillips head but something seems off. Actually, that’s it—while it has a cross-shape, the “arms” are offset as if the lines were broken up. Thus, a Phillips screwdriver will not fit. This screw head is used in aviation.

Spanner – This screw head consists of two round holes that look like a pair of eyes. This design’s main purpose is to prevent tampering.

If you’re an avgeek, chances are you already know about screwdrivers and screws. Still, brains are like machines. Just as machines often need to be well-oiled, frontal lobes need lube in the form of learning and re-learning. Reinforcement is, after all, a major component in keeping things structurally sound and operational.

SkyGeek Reviews Disney’s “Planes”

What do you get when you combine animation and aviation? Disney’s new movie “Planes.” You also get a great idea for a blog post. ..

I know opening weekend has passed but SkyGeek was not part of the fortunate few to see a special advanced screening of the movie at Fly-In Theater at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh.

“From above the world of Cars” – that is the tagline of the movie, a tagline that can be found at the end of this trailer:

The plot revolves around a cropdusting plane appropriately named Dusty. This single-prop plane wishes to ditch his farm-based life and instead compete in the sky-highly competitive realm of air racing. Many obstacles hinder his progress, including a rather unfortunate fear of high altitudes. Through friendship and determination, though, Dusty might just prevail.

This is the second vehicle-themed feature film franchise from Disney/Pixar (Pixar is owned by Disney). There’s a joke that this film series will inevitably be followed by a third vehicle-based series called “Boats.” I can see it now, the tagline will be “From below the world of Cars and Planes” and you will have crazy, lovable characters like a submarine named “Perri”–short for periscope of course.

Speaking of jokes, that is one of the main criticisms circling the Interwebs as to how this movie nose-dives. The jokes are one-dimensional and many are based on ethnic-stereotypes. Some say that such stereotypes are culturally insensitive. My rebuttal? It’s a kid’s movie and kids usually have very little clue about political correctness. I know parents/adults are watching too and it may sound crazy, but some people like laughing about their own ethnic stereotypes (I’m Geekanese, go ahead, make fun of me and my non-existent pocket-protector).

Other reviews are pretty jaded. One critic equates it to “Cars 2 with Wings,” which is a valid point. However, said critic also mentions that kids will get bored; ironic considering that through all the snarky remarks, pseudo-intellectual quips, and unnecessary existential ponderings, I found that review rather “tedious.”

Variety has a less cynical but still altogether skeptical review of the movie. Critic Justin Chang says the merchandising aspect of the film may provide a helpful thrust and supplement box office success. His concern? Word-of-mouth may keep the film grounded or headed for a “rough landing.” While it’s true that animated movies are known to capitalize on kid’s impulsive need for flashy images and the mass acquisition of toys, should that come as any surprise? That’s how many animated films work.

Look, I may be an adult too in-touch with my inner child, but why all the hate? Somewhere along the way, critics lose perspective. Attention: IT IS A KID’s MOVIE. As an animated movie geared toward children, this is not a complex film. It is not Casablanca and it does not have mind-numbingly complicated plot twists of a Christopher Nolan film.

Although this film seems like a simple and somewhat predictable story, what many are unaware of is that a lot of effort was made into getting the authenticity just right. Of all the publicity this film has thus far received, I like CNN’s article where they interview Sean Bautista, a pilot with over 40 years of experience who was hired as a consultant. His expertise on flight was used to check for accuracy, so that “avgeeks” everywhere could appreciate the plane-based characters’ swag and grace.

Despite pixilation, realism was a priority.

Unfortunately, casual viewers won’t be aware of the efforts of Bautista –one that included telling creators to give the main character a “vasectomy” of sorts in order to reduce drag and increase Dusty’s speed so he could better compete in races.

Part of the problem is understanding the intentions behind production of the film and matching it to audience expectation. What many may not know is that “Planes” was originally intended for direct-to-DVD release. Most films like this are of lesser quality than ones originally slated for the box office.

Another thing to consider: Whereas “Cars” was directed and written by John Lasseter–animation icon and chief creative officer of both Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios– “Planes” was created by veterans of homevideo films. Still, like the main character, Dusty, the movie overcame odds to be something more than intended and was impressive enough to get a theatrical release.

Initially I considered titling this post “In Defense of Disney’s ‘Planes’” but decided against it. I’m not flying blind here. There are plenty of flaws, most of which I have lightly touched upon and most of which film critics have definitely highlighted. But that is just it: I’m not a film critic. Just a person who loves planes and movies that relate to them.

This film repurposes the formulaic underdog story that is no doubt familiar to many. But the view from among the clouds might just allow it to be a breath of fresh air, especially if you or your child is an aviation enthusiast. “Planes” may not be at the top of Pixar’s pantheon of films, but it is an enjoyable aerial adventure that is a welcomed addition to the company’s catalog. Bottom Line: With expectations matching the content, you will not be disappointed.