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Cloth Face Mask with Electronics Theme Print by RF Cafe
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The inventions and products featured on these pages were chosen either for their uniqueness in the RF engineering realm, or are simply awesome (or ridiculous) enough to warrant an appearance.

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Supermodel Melanie with Electronics-Themed Cloth Face Masks - RF CafeMelanie with her cloth face masks featuring electronics themed print pattern.

Cloth face masks with RF schematic symbols and with vintage TV test pattern designs - RF Cafe

Front side of cloth face masks. Top pattern is RF schematic symbols. Bottom pattern is vintage TV station test patterns.

As this is written, we in the U.S. are nearing the end (hopefully) of the virtual house arrest period most of the country has had imposed upon us by overzealous politicians. Part of the "comeback" plan being bandied about by governors is requiring subjects/citizens to don cloth face masks when in public places where the arbitrarily conjured up six-foot "social distancing" rule cannot be easily maintained. Think of the cloth face mask as the equivalent of an ankle bracelet when venturing outside. There is no foreseeable end to this "new normal" imposed upon most of the world. Contrary to what many people believe, the mask's purpose is not to prevent the wearer from inhaling COVID-19 (aka Wuhan Virus, China Virus, Kung Flu, CCP Virus - pick your favorite) particles, but to arrest the body fluids emanating from the wearer's mouth and nose from being spewed into the air and/or onto surfaces.

In response to the shortage of N95 type masks that are supposed to stop up to 95% of virus particles, many private citizens - mostly women - worked with health care personnel to design cloth masks that are comfortable to wear for long periods of time and are reusable by washing them (here is the CDC webpage for washing cloth face masks). Tens - probably hundreds - of thousands have been made in people's homes using materials and equipment purchased by those private citizens. Most are donated free of charge to medical facilities, and others are sold at a nominal price of $5 to $20.

Supermodel Melanie with many of the cloth face masks she has made - RF Cafe

A couple more cloth face masks made by Supermodel Melanie - RF Cafe

Cloth Face Masks 

Melanie, my wife, has been an amateur seamstress since childhood, having made many of her own clothes, quilts, doll clothes, and other things. She found a popular cloth face mask pattern on the Internet and made a couple dozen to send to members of our family. Per guidelines, they are made from 100% cotton cloth, which is a material on which viruses do not live for a long time and is easily cleaned for reuse. They use cloth ties rather than an elastic strap since the elastic causes abrasive irritation for some people. A few of Melanie's masks are pictured to the right.

Supermodel Melanie displaying electronics-themed cloth prints - RF Cafe

3 yards of each print pattern.

Some of these cloth face masks will be given away to certain people associated with RF Cafe in one way or another. If anyone else would like one of these custom face masks, a limited quantity can be made available at a cost of $15 each, which includes shipping via First Class Mail in the U.S. Which it might seem pricey, by the time you subtract the material cost, PayPal fee, mailing costs, and income tax on the "profit," it leaves about $7−8 each for the little over an hour it takes to make one (when making 10 at a time - longer otherwise). That doesn't include time to research and buy materials, put wear and tear on equipment, create this webpage, process orders, etc. If you manufacture products, you are well aware of the "hidden" costs of operation.

It is possible to buy similar masks without the electronics theme print pattern elsewhere for less if you need a large quantity. eBay, etsy, and Amazon are examples of sources.

May 10 Update: When we went back to the source to buy more fabric, it was completely sold out. Almost all of the fabric with any kind of science and technology theme was gone, and the supplier has no plans to get more of it.

We decided to see if we could find some 100% cotton fabric with an electronics theme printed on it to use for making some face masks. Two designs were located on the Internet - one with a variety of RF circuit symbols and another with vintage television station test patterns. We purchased three yards of each for starters, and will get more if needed. Importantly, it is manufactured in South Korea - not in the country where this preventable disaster originated.

The finished size of each cloth face mask is about 8" wide and 3½" tall (7" tall stretched out). The muslin tie straps (color may vary a bit from that shown) are 20-21" long measured from the corner of the mask so even big heads with big brains can be accommodated ;-)

Front of the cloth face mask shows folded design - RF Cafe

Front of the cloth face mask shows folded design that expands to completely cover both the nose and mouth.

Pocket in cloth face mask can accommodate a filter insert - RF Cafe

Pocket in cloth face mask can accommodate a filter insert.

Expanded face mask - RF Cafe

Expanded face mask.

Back of cloth face masks - RF Cafe

Back of cloth face masks.

Notes from the PDF instructions file downloadable on Facebook:

3-Layer FACEMASK with Filter Pocket and Tie Straps was created by Susan Moody from Chester, VT on March 24, 2020 with much help from Sandy Stahl. Disclaimer: This mask is not intended to replace an N95 mask. It is a stop-gap measure to help medical professionals extend the life of the ONE mask most are currently being given per shift. It is not intended to replace PPE nor to be as effective as proper medical-grade equipment. It is not intended to meet normal CDC requirements. This pattern has been designed to be as WASHABLE and sturdy as possible, to allow for frequent CLEANING and SANITIZING. Space for a "filter" is accessible, to allow for removal and laundering. This mask can be used with or without a filter.

 

 

Posted April 28, 2020

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    Kirt Blattenberger,
    BSEE - KB3UON

RF Cafe began life in 1996 as "RF Tools" in an AOL screen name web space totaling 2 MB. Its primary purpose was to provide me with ready access to commonly needed formulas and reference material while performing my work as an RF system and circuit design engineer. The World Wide Web (Internet) was largely an unknown entity at the time and bandwidth was a scarce commodity. Dial-up modems blazed along at 14.4 kbps while typing up your telephone line, and a nice lady's voice announced "You've Got Mail" when a new message arrived...

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