In this world of ever-Increasing complexities, Ken Crocker of Paladin Estimating Systems located in Mesa, Arizona is something of a revisionist. He certainly believes in keeping things simple. Paladin manufactures and distributes the Paladin MC-100 Measuring Calculator to construction companies to do blueprint takeoffs. Crocker deliberately refers to his system as a calculator, not a computer, because he realizes that computers can still be intimidating.
"Some people are still turned off by the word 'computer,'" explained Crocker. "But everyone knows how to work a calculator."
With that in mind, Crocker designed the MC-100 to be simple, straight forward and very easy to operate. In fact, it works a little like those connect-the-dots puzzles we used to do as kids. A stylus is connected to a digitizer (MC-100 Sonic Digitizer) which, in turn, is connected to the "calculator." When the operator presses the stylus down, it emits an ultrasonic signal from its tip. Two clocks in the digitizer are activated at precisely that time. Each clock stops when the signal reaches its corresponding sensor on the digitizer.
The resulting time measurements are triangulated by the digitizer, converted into X-Y coordinates, and sent to the calculator. The calculator instantly computes the coordinates into a measurement and displays its findings. The system offers contractors, roofers, landscapers, painters, builders, swimming pool contractors and many others, a simple, practical way to estimate quantities and materials in a very cost-efficient manner -- simply by touching the corner points of a shape, no matter how cut up, on a blueprint, floor plan, etc. The operator can also trace curves, but never traces straight lines.
The MC-100 Calculator measure all scales, even metric. It also does conversions such as linear to cubic yards, square feet to cubic yards, square feet to "squares," square feet to acres, spacing calculations and custom programmed formulas and calculations.
The "brains" behind the system is the MC-100 Calculator; a customized PDS, a fully programmable member of the Two Technologies, Inc.' hand held product family. The PDS features 128K of FLASH EEPROM and 32K of battery-backed SRAM. It is programmable in C or Assembly language. The only requirements are a standard 110v electrical outlet and a flat measuring surface.
Not that Paladin's customers necessarily appreciate all the nuances of the PDS' features.
"To them it looks like a calculator (and) works like a calculator. It's fairly inexpensive and it's portable." explained Crocker. "Believe it or not, what they like best is that it has big keys. That may sound funny but it means it's easy to read, easy to work, even with gloves on, and that's important to them."
In many ways, Ken Crocker is typical of the type of OEM customer drawn to Two Technologies, Inc.. Four years ago, Paladin found itself in something of a bind. The consumer-oriented "calculators" Paladin had been using in their system since 1986 were not only out-moded, they were also being discontinued by the manufacturer. Crocker needed to find a solution ... quickly! He needed a partner that would be willing to work with him to find a suitable replacement, on time and on budget. He found that partner in Two Technologies, Inc..
"(The PDS) had everything I was looking for, a cost-effective product that doesn't require a computer, is easy to use and works in a 'construction office' environment. Durable would be the key word here." added Crocker. "I was very impressed by Two Technologies, Inc.. In the PDS I knew that I had a product and a company that would be around in the future."
That future Includes German and Spanish-language options on the MC-100 Calculator with more languages to follow shortly. A windows-driven companion software addition is also available. And Paladin is exploring the possibility of immediate expansion to Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom, while targeting Australia and much of Western Europe in the not-too-distant future.
Whichever the language, one thing is certain, it will read: "Absolutely NO computer experience necessary."