I have first hand experience with Patents and I can tell you that unless you have very deep pockets, you will just waste your money.
First of all, since I was involved, there is a 'provisional' patent that you can get which gives you protection for the first year. It's not a patent; it is really just (like) a market that you started. You do not have to continue (from what I read)
However, understand that if you're just considering US patents, then you have to really think it through. Most lawyers will tell you to do US and Canada at the same time. But what about the rest of the world? The internet has shrunk the world. Your idea could be on You Tube within hours of being released... if you know what I mean.
Look. Here is the acid test that I devised. How much money do you have to protect it? That is, let's just say you find somebody 'stomping' on your patent in the US (where it would be a lot less to chase the person than if it were overseas). How much money do you have to shut it down?? Unless you're ready to put $50k on the table (just to start), then forget it.
Consider this. You go ahead and create this great patent. I look at it and (with all your great drawings) go ahead and duplicate it. The only people that POLICE YOUR PATENT is YOU! That means... unless you have the money to go ahead and STOMP ME... I can use your patent forever without anybody doing anything to me.
On another product, I did this same thing where a company (who I knew didn't have a lot of money) had a product/system that they CLAIMED to be patented. I never did see the actual patent nor number. Knowing there was a lot of talk that the system wasn't really patented... I took my chances and went ahead and developed something very, very close. Nothing ever happened.
The other issue in this particular case was that the 'per application' cost and profit was so small, it wouldn't be worth it for anybody to chase.
On the other hand, I was involved in another product where I knew that I was first in the field. My lawyers laughed when I walked into one meeting. They had 6 other compaines claiming 'prior art' against my patent. They also told me that I stood a very good chance of displacing each of these companies. Problem was that they wanted $25K PER CASE.
Solution? I went overseas to get a product I could import for 88 cents. I sold it for anywhere between $9.95 and $19.95. While all those guys were fighting... I was out selling. As of today, I am not sure ANYBODY actually ever went ahead. Besides, the product (in it's most expensive design) only sold for about $30-$50.00. So how much money is there in the product??
Save your money. Release your product with some special process or part that is not easily duplicated. Put the rest of your money into marketing and you will be years and years ahead of anyone trying to 'dupe' you.
Hope this helps. Sorry it's a long post!