HMM Rule/One

2 07 2015
I guess I should have used the ruler more in the writing sample. Too late now

I guess I should have used the ruler more in the writing sample. Too late now

Not gonna lie, I got a little burned out on crowdfunding pens in 2014. When I first saw the link for the Rule/One, I resisted. I thought, not another Kickstarter pen…do I really have the mental and emotional energy for this? Do I have the money to spare for the umpteenth time for a vision I may not actually see realized for many months, if ever? How many airplanes could we have built out of all the aluminum that we’ve crowdfunded into pens? But I couldn’t get the Rule/One out of my mind, so I backed it.

Background feline not included in standard packaging

Background feline not included in standard packaging

There were delays. There are always delays. But the HMM team kept updating with their attractive product progress pictures and earnest missives (all of which I read in the voice of BMO from Adventure Time, which I assure you makes any news better). When the unveiling came, it did not disappoint. I ripped open my FedEx envelope to a slick tube of trendy packaging. Even though I’d seen pictures, and voted on the particular color scheme, I was still impressed to hold the actual packaging in my hands.

The empty holes are where I didn't back the stylus option and the lanyard loop attachment option

The empty holes are where I didn’t back the stylus option and the lanyard loop attachment option

Eventually I’m sure this cardboard will fall apart, but in the meantime it makes a handy carrier. Let’s take it out of the tube though.

Metric for the more cooperative parts of the world, inches for us stubborn Americans, and anyone else thus inclined

Metric for the more cooperative parts of the world, inches for us stubborn Americans, and anyone else thus inclined

Matte black body, pop of color—this is the design that had me hooked. It’s simple, fun and functional. I couldn’t wait to show it off once I got my hands on it. The ruler has laser engraved measurements in inches and centimeters (one on each side).

One ruler to rule them all, and in the gel ink bind them

One ruler to rule them all, and in the gel ink bind them

On the one hand, I almost want to abuse it a little to see how durable laser engraving is; on the other hand, it’s so pretty that I don’t want to hurt it. Time will tell, I suppose.

Three for exactly what I paid for one! Whaddadeal

Three for exactly what I paid for one! Whaddadeal

Due to some trial-and-error issues with the magnets, HMM provided all three different types of pen heads free to all backers. The simple tube style works best/fastest with the magnets, the conical screw-on head keeps the pen most secure but does not use the magnets, and the original version of the magnet head (the one in the middle) allegedly has a better weight balance for writing.

You can even post it backward, for minimal comfort

You can even post it backward, for minimal comfort

The refill shipped with the HMM Rule/One is a Mitsubishi UNI 0.38mm gel refill (same as a standard Signo 207); this was the first Kickstarter pen I’d seen designed specifically with the Uni Signo refill in mind. It writes wonderfully, as the Signo is wont to do. The refill itself fits snugly in the pen body, with no rattling and no drying-out problems thus far (and I have let it sit unused for probably at least a month at a time at some points). There isn’t a grip, but the matte-finish twelve-sided barrel never feels slippery in my hand. It doesn’t feel exceptionally comfortable either, but there’s only so much you can expect from a tube of metal.

Note how it is ever so slightly out of alignment

Note how it is ever so slightly out of alignment

While the Rule/One is well made and attractive, there are a few oddments/negatives about it. The screws on either end easily and frequently come loose (mostly in the course of transport). A bit of Loctite might not be a bad idea (although then I would probably need more than a fingernail to unscrew the screws if needed). While there’s no play between the pen and the cap with the screw-on head, the fast and streamlined tube magnetic head allows for over a millimeter of play in which you can push the pen out of alignment with the cap (perpendicular to the length of the pen, as seen slightly in the above photo).

At least it's pretty easy to take apart and put together

At least it’s pretty easy to take apart and put together

The screws are threaded along the ordinary “righty-tighty lefty-loosey” principle, but the interchangeable pen heads are backward. Twisting the pen head when it is facing you, you have to twist clockwise to loosen, and counterclockwise to tighten. Or just think to yourself, do the opposite of what you were thinking whenever you want to change the heads.

Also designed to be used as a bookmark, unlike other pens that you try to use as a bookmark and they, in turn, pop right out of your books

Also designed to be used as a bookmark, unlike other pens that you try to use as a bookmark and they, in turn, pop right out of your books

In spite of the few negatives, and in spite of the fact that I pretty much never have need of a ruler in the course of my daily life, I still love the Rule/One. There are also attachments available (which I was too cheap to purchase) that go in place of the screws (a capacitive stylus head, a loop for lanyard attachment), which unfortunately do not yet appear to be available for individual purchase (though it looks like if you buy the Rule/One from HMM it will come with all attachments, but not all pen head styles, just the same magnetic tube style in 3 colors).

If I weren't lazy and hadn't already been working on this review for months, I'd make a little gif of the fun of magnets

If I weren’t lazy and hadn’t already been working on this review for months, I’d make a little gif of the fun of magnets

If you need a ruler in your life and a gel pen in your life, this is a pretty sleek combination of the two. Plus, you get the joy of magnets.

HMM Rule/One





Ink Drop Soup: More Pens to Throw Money At

22 05 2015

Two new crowdfunding pens to throw on your radar. Will you risk your hard-earned moneydollars? PERHAPS!

winkpenFirst up, the WINKpen. It’s got nine days left and still about $17,000 to go, so I’m starting to get a little worried that I won’t get mine. But if it makes its funding goal, caps will be included now for no extra charge. It’s a glass nib fountain pen (not a dip pen), and it would give me a use for those rare times I end up with spare coffee beans. And all this wine I’ve accumulated. Yeah, it’s not just for regular fountain pen ink—the name came from being designed to use wine as ink.

Read more and/or back the WINKPen on Kickstarter

-uWyor0FH7k80xh1BGG2-uqxHipgds0GCdrpUXUt3x4

Second, on Indiegogo, only 4 days old, the Infinity Pen. I wonder why most pen projects are on Kickstarter, rather than Indiegogo. I don’t wonder hard enough to actually put any effort into researching the question, but the passing thought was there. My love of magnets will never cease, so I am intrigued by the idea of this pen. How many sections can be stacked magnetically together before the whole thing becomes unstable? How easily will these things stick to the fridge? I really want to get one and just abuse it to the limit. I don’t know why. Can I smack sections off if I bang it on a table? I NEED TO KNOW.

The body is aluminum, the special refills, if the campaign succeeds, will be manufactured by Centropen and allegedly go for $1 each.

Read more and/or throw dollars at the Infinity Pen on Indiegogo

BONUS NEWS! My United P2 Pocket Pen arrived last week. Pretty on-point for its estimated delivery time. You can see the final product below the smaller prototype.

CFZCuqlUUAIqDmpIt’s on my to-review list, once I can abuse it some first. There’s about 26 of these slightly bigger United P2 pens left, if you still want one.





Yoropen Z3

13 04 2015
Writing samples will be tiny for a while, until I can get my computer/scanner set up again. I'll be using my Doxie Flip scanner and hoping it will be good enough

Writing samples will be tiny for a while, until I can get my computer/scanner set up again. I’ll be using my Doxie Flip scanner and hoping it will be good enough

The ever unusual Yoropen! It’s been a few years since the first Yoropen undulated into my life. And now here we are, this silver phoenix born again through the fire of Kickstarter. Thanks to the folks at Yoropen for sending this free Z3 to review.

Box not pictured, one because it looks just like the box on the Yoropen website, two because after moving I'm not 100% sure where I put the box

Box not pictured, one because it looks just like the box on the Yoropen website, two because after moving I’m not 100% sure where I put the box

The Z3 is an executive pen and comes in a tasteful box to match—nice enough that you’d never have to hide in shame when giving it as a gift, but not so nice that you’d feel like you couldn’t throw it away, if you’re not of the box-hoarding persuasion. Included with my sample pen: 1 proprietary cartridge, and 1 mold to turn other refills into Yoropen-compatible refills.

Grip colors available are black, blue, and reddish

Grip colors available are black, blue, and reddish

The grip is made of comfortable, dust-collecting material. Once you start using it, it will never be fully clean again. The grip is adjustable, making the pen suitable for both left- and right-handers. I’m still trying to figure out exactly where I want my grip twisted to so as to facilitate the correct grip positioning.

I think I'm holding it correctly. I think I followed the instructions...

I think I’m holding it correctly. I think I followed the instructions…

To get the full ergonomic benefits of the Yoropen requires some grip retraining, which allegedly will take you about five minutes. I didn’t really time it, but my cursive handwriting of this review did look a lot better by the end.

The end of that clip is just inviting my cat to walk up and chew on it while I'm writing

The end of that clip is just inviting my cat to walk up and chew on it while I’m writing

The cap snaps securely on the end, the clip a tilde floating in the wind. But closing the pen, the cap is very particular—it only goes on one way, in such a way that it pushes the nub of the clip’s end into the grip.

The mystery of the dented grip was quickly solved thanks to Scooby Snax and menthol cough drops. Or maybe it was simple logic.

The mystery of the dented grip was quickly solved thanks to Scooby Snax and menthol cough drops. Or maybe it was simple logic.

Every time I put the cap back on, I have to remind myself that pushing the clip into the grip is correct. This creates a dent in the grip, which is more aesthetically annoying than really having any functional impact.

This is actually the Zebra Surari refill I molded, not the refill it came with. Shhh, they look the same in the pen

This is actually the Zebra Surari refill I molded, not the refill it came with. Shhh, they look the same in the pen

It’s surprising how little pressure is needed to get the Yoropen refill to write. It isn’t a particularly dark or striking refill, especially when applying so little pressure. But it flows smoothly and leaves marks on the page.

Top refill is a Zebra Surari multi-pen refill molded to fit the Yoropen. Beneath, the actual Yoropen refill. Finally, a Jetstream multi-pen refill being molded in the actual mold

Top refill is a Zebra Surari multi-pen refill molded to fit the Yoropen. Beneath, the actual Yoropen refill. Finally, a Jetstream multi-pen refill being molded in the actual mold

New to the Yoropen Z3 (as opposed to previous Yoropen models) is a little plastic mold (shipped with the Kickstarter pens, currently available on the Yoropen website with each plastic refill ordered, plans in the future to be included with pens sold from the site). This little bit of plastic opens up a world of possibility. The idea is to take any similarly proportioned plastic refill and bend it into a Yoropen refill shape. It doesn’t work perfectly (the writing tip end doesn’t get bent far enough down, compared to the Yoropen refill), but it works well enough to get the newly molded refill into the Yoropen. You may have to finagle a bit, and physically encourage the refill to go where you want when you put the pen back together, but in the end I got mine to work. I first molded a Surari multipen refill (not sure how long it actually takes, as I just left it in the mold for a few days). Next, I went to mold a Jetstream refill and broke the plastic tip off the mold. Oops. The mold still works though, and as long as I keep the broken-off tip I’ll still be able to line up refills to put the Yoropen bend in at the correct distance from the pen tip.

All the pieces

All the pieces

I’m not used to using a ballpoint with such an incredibly light touch, and with a super-smooth refill in it? Smoother than buttered skates on oiled ice. It’s like first learning to write with a fountain pen all over again. You know how you’re supposed to write with your whole arm, not your fingers? The Yoropen is comfortable yet controllable enough for me to actually start doing that. I haven’t adapted quite as well to any other pen that demanded me to change my grip style (tripod style is typically a disaster, and every five years or so it used to be that I’d buy a PenAgain and soon remember I can never write right with it).

Ordinarily I don’t go for the idea of spending top dollar on a ballpoint pen (that money’s for fountain pens), but with a comfortable design and the ability to mold super-smooth refills to fit? That just might be worth it.

Yoropen Z3 Black Ver. 02 at Yoropen Inc.





Ink Drop Soup: A Couple More Kickstarters

8 04 2015

Everywhere, all the time, Kickstarters! I have a few Kickstarterized pens in the wings waiting to be reviewed, but in the meantime, here are a couple more new Kickstarter pens you can choose to throw money at and see what happens.

The Patriot Pen

Image from The Patriot Pen Kickstarter Page

Image from The Patriot Pen Kickstarter Page

Inspired by GUNS! Aside from the Space Pen Bullet pens, I don’t know too many pens with designs so overtly tributary to weapons. Are there any sword pens? Do they still make Bond-style pens that are actually guns? Would such a pen gun sticking out of my pocket be considered open carry or concealed carry?

The refill for the Patriot Pen is a Pilot Dr. Grip, which hasn’t come up much (if at all) in any other Kickstarter pens yet (but maybe I’m just not paying attention). The product description seems to walk a fine line between hyperbolic satire and needless genderization (as Bic has yet to learn, pens aren’t piloted by genitals) with lines like “the testosterone boosting power of manly gear,” “every man needs gear that not only works well, but also testifies of his complete studliness,” and “ensure that every onlooker will know you are a man with real mettle.” WILL MY GENDER CHANGE IF I USE THIS PEN??? In the name of coolness, that just might be a risk I’m willing to take.

The Patriot Pen by Dimond Point LLC on Kickstarter

*****

The Umigi Pen

Not umagi (possibly some type of anime?) or unagi (definitely a type of delicious sushi), but the Umigi Pen features a unique shaker mechanism: shake down to deploy, shake sideways to retract. All the other shaker writing utensils I’ve seen so far in my life have been mechanical pencils (shake to advance the lead, but no way of shaking to retract anything). I’m not one to normally watch many videos online (I am just weird that way and like reading things / looking at pictures), but the three 30-second shorts videos under the “fun stuff” section brought a smile to my face. And since you don’t have to change the way you’re holding the pen to deploy and retract, this apparently makes the Umigi Pen more convenient for those with physical challenges. A.k.a. making pens more accessible for everyone! The goal for the Umigi Pen is much further away, but the backing cost of getting an actual reward is WAY lower than possibly any other Kickstarter I’ve seen. The Umigi Pen (blue ink color) for $5??? It’s worth $5 just to throw down and see if it can be done.

The UMIGI Pen on Kickstarter





United P2: Pocket Pen

7 02 2015
Time to kick another starter!

Time to kick another starter!

What I have here today is a prototype model of the United P2 Pocket Pen that just launched on Kickstarter. I’ve spent a few weeks throwing it in pockets and bags, I’ve showed it off to nearly everyone I work with, I’ve lost it for almost a week in someone else’s car before finding it again, and I’ve scribbled my fair share of notes with it. Now, my memory is a bit hazy, but this just might be my favorite compact ballpoint pen.

Aluminum body. Stainless steel cap. Machined awesomeness

Aluminum body. Stainless steel cap. Machined awesomeness

It looks part lava lamp, part minimalist rocket. It feels fantastically smooth to the touch, the finish some kind of mix between metal and silk. I’ve left it unprotected, free to jangle against keys, pocket knives, coins, and yet still I can’t find any signs of a scratch yet. I haven’t tried chucking it across a roughly paved parking lot or tried dropping it from the top of a five story building, but I’m not sure I’d want to. I like this pen too much to take the abuse quite that far.

I was worried about a small cap on a pocket pen, but it works

I was worried about a small cap on a pocket pen, but it works

The cap (machined out of solid 17-4 stainless steel bar stock) and its locking grooves are machined so precisely that when you push the cap on, air has nowhere to go, thus requiring the hole in the top of the cap. When you pull the cap off, the air being sucked back in as you pull makes a little pop! when the cap is free. The result is a very secure cap that is nevertheless easy to remove and incredibly fun to play with.

If you grip your pens at the very absolute tip of the pen, this might be a problem, but everyone else will be okay

If you grip your pens at the very absolute tip of the pen, this might be a problem, but everyone else will be okay

Not sure what I was expecting the first time I pulled the cap off, but this wasn’t it. This was something altogether strange and different. This looked like a candle, with the writer’s flame of a ballpoint tip. I was a bit skeptical. But then I followed the groove of the pen and was pleasantly surprised with the result.

I need to work on having a more photogenic grip

I need to work on having a more photogenic grip

For my hand, the prototype is the perfect size. The weight of the pen gives it presence in the hand, but the comfortable way it’s balanced makes the weight almost unnoticeable. The refill included, a medium Schmidt, is nice and smooth in its own right. But the United P2 is designed to take a D1 refill. You know who makes a D1 refill? Do you?! UNI BALL. THE ANSWER IS JETSTREAM. THE ANSWER IS I CAN HAVE A FANCY LITTLE JETSTREAM REFILL POCKET PEN AND A CHOIR OF PENLY ANGELS SHALL SING ABOVE MY HEAD. Ok put that thought on pause. Brad Dowdy has discovered (as I did once he pointed it out and I tried swapping the refill) that the Jetstream refill is too skinny. I HAVEN’T GIVEN UP YET. RESEARCH MUST BE DONE. But I’ll have to come back to this. I’m holding out hope.

UPDATE from the inventor himself:

“Also for the record, the production pen WILL accept all D1 refills. Currently the prototype doesn’t accept some refills because the coating thickness is a little too thick which in turn made the hole size a touch smaller than it needs to be.”

HOPE RETURNS!

Everyday carry approved

Everyday carry approved

Tweaks are already planned for the production run vs. what I have here in the prototype. The pen will be a little larger, both in length and in diameter. Personally I’m fine with the prototype size, but I have medium sized hands. It would be nice, down the line, to perhaps have “large” and “small” size options for the United P2. No one size will be perfect for everyone, but it would be nice to have a choice. I worry that a larger pen wouldn’t fit nicely in the pockets of my fitted jeans. The production run pen will also have a smaller cap hole, which I didn’t have a concern about either way. Finally, the production run will have the press fit cap on the back end of the pen flush with the pen body. It sticks out so slightly on the prototype that I didn’t even notice until I saw this improvement listed, but that update is a good idea. Don’t know when I’d need to stand the pen upright, but just in case.

There are still 28 days to go and already the United P2 has reached its (admittedly easy to attain) funding goal. The makers of this pen have successfully completed a Kickstarter project before (a small brass spinning top that looks really cool and I really want one now, thanks a lot research). If you’re interested in this pen, hop onboard.

United P2: Pocket Pen by Dylan Polseno on Kickstarter





Ink Drop Soup: Yoropen, Back Again!

27 08 2014

Remember the Yoropen?

This pen probably has more in common with some species of tropical, exotic bird than it does with other pens

It took about 8 minutes of scrolling back through my media library to find this

I mentioned when I reviewed it that there was a metal version. Little did I realize at the time that Yoropens had been pretty much discontinued since about 2008/2009, operations shut down…but they are back, and trying to get started up again through Kickstarter.

Image from the Yoropens Z3 Kickstarter

Image from the Yoropens Z3 Kickstarter

The Z3 is an updated version of the old metal Yoropen (the Z2) in a big way: instead of requiring only special, odd, proprietary ink cartridges, the inside has been redesigned to be able to accommodate generic refills after they’ve been bent appropriately by an included mold.

Image

Image from the Yoropens Kickstarter

I’m excited to see the new Yoropen Z3 in action, and Yoropen has reached out to me to send me one to try once it’s ready; keep your eyes open for a review in the future. In the meantime, the Kickstarter is live if you’re looking for a different pen from a company with previous success that’s trying to get back in the game.

Yoropen Z3 on Kickstarter





Ink Drop Soup: Someone Buy Me One (HMM RULE/ONE Kickstarter)

16 05 2014

This Kickstarter for the HMM RULE/ONE is so close to almost funded with six days to go…and it looks so sweet…look at it!

It’s magnet close (a feature that was added thanks to backer feedback), and the refill is Uni 0.38! And it’s black anodized aluminum. And you can use it like a bookmark thanks to the teardrop shape. And you can put in a lanyard loop. UGH I WANT ONE. Someone else go fund this thing all the way so maybe one day I can get one when I’m not so poor.
 
EDIT: they’ve reached their funding goal! …and I went ahead and backed them anyway. Ramen dinners and cool pens ahoy!
 

HMM RULE/ONE by HMM PROJECT on Kickstarter








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