Soil Sampler (2020)
#Solidworks #Arduino #C++ #3D-Printing #Lathe #Welding
I was commissioned to design and built this project by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Department of Agronomy and Horticulture as part of their turfgrass science program. The program's mission is to provide pertinent research-based information to turfgrass managers throughout the year and address agronomic issues as they come up across Nebraska, the Great Plains region, and the country. Soil Sampler is an autonomous system explicitly developed for quick extraction of intact soil samples from the ground. Equipped with top-of-the-line force sensors and an easy-to-use interface, it enables the researcher to monitor multiple data inputs in real-time or save them for further processing later.
At the heart of the Soil Sampler, you can find a linear actuator capable of handling up to 2200 lbs of load. This actuator is furnished with a hall effect encoder that enables one to control the actuator's speed and direction while also reporting its position with high precision in real-time. Moreover, a load cell sensor mounted at the actuator's tip reports the load in both compression and tension. The device is controlled using a custom-built controller box, allowing operation both through physical switches and a touch display. The LCD touch display allows the control of the actuator in both up and down directions. It also enables the user to navigate the device to pre-set distances of 5,10 and 15 inches from the home position. Lastly, while the load cell's input is plotted in real-time, the data is also saved on an SD card with the exact date and time to facilitate data processing at a later instance.
Despite the many obstacles imposed by the current pandemic, I spearhead every stage of the product development cycle for this project. With limited access to proper tools and equipment, I pushed myself to learn new topics and put them into practice every day. Soil Sampler has reduced sample extraction time from 30 minutes to less than 5 minutes. This innovative approach has helped researchers improve turf condition in 3 golf courses across Nebraska, preserve the environment and save thousands of dollars for the resort owners.