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28th June 1998

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On Edison’s path

This young inventor adds a coconut plucking robot to his list

By Chamintha Thilakarathna.

‘DYN 2000’ is not the latest space shuttle to Mars. On the contrary, it is Niranjan Weerakoon’s coconut plucking robot.

Heard of the saying, necessity is the mother of invention? Well, this is such a case.

“One day when we were at campus, about to prepare our meals, we discovered that we did not have any coconut. Too lazy to go buy one, the coconut tree close by full of fruit seemed like a better idea,” said Niranjan (28) from Baduraliya in Mathugama.

Although he was not exactly enthusiastic about climbing a tall coconut tree, his need left him no choice.

“But I felt so dizzy and thought I would fall,” he said. Although he managed to get hold of a coconut to overcome the immediate need, he vowed never to climb a tree again. At least not a coconut tree. “That is when it hit me. I thought why can’t someone invent a machine to pluck coconuts and since then my mind has been working on ways and means of doing this. It took me seven months,” he said.

The handy looking object which if not for its size would be mistaken for a bug, will make all our lives easy when it comes to plucking coconuts, especially in estates.

The mechanism is simple. 30 watts of power is supplied to the motors installed in the machine which helps the robot to travel up the tree. It can be operated with a car battery as well. The robot is fixed two sets of wheels, adjustable according to the size of the tree, in order to hug the trunk, and travel smoothly. Feet like objects are fixed at the bottom of the robot to make the climb easier. The long plucking tool with a curved edge is the object which makes the plucking possible.

“The plucking instrument is held in such a way that the nuts can be pulled off the tree. An electrode at the edge helps the plucker determine whether the nut is mature or not. The electrode sends out a numerical signal to the remote control instrument. If the number is more than 100 that means the coconut is ready to be plucked. If it is less than a hundred, then it can be moved onto another nut,” he said.

The robot which roughly costs Niranjan Rs.75,000 to build is the result of several experiments. Many shortcomings had cropped up in trying to develop it, he says. The weight of the robot, its shape and size and the high cost factor were all difficulties he had to overcome.

“My objective was to overcome this shortcomings to the best of my ability,” Niranjan said.

DYN 2000 is a fully efficient and speedy little robot that will be further modified. “I hope to modify it to the extent that it will not need wheels. Instead I want to fix hands that will hug the trunk. Minimize it to a large extent and to allow it to function without the need of a power supply.”

In terms of electricity, it costs just 58 cents per tree and whether the trunk is greasy, wet, or any shape of does not matter. And, it takes less than two seconds to do its job. The robot is made making use of simple metal items and wire. “I used only an electric drill and a bench voice,” he said.

This is Niranjan’s seventh big invention. Having invented several machines since the age of six, such as the foot motor cycle, automatic windows, automatic tea making machine, remote controlled lorry, modified thermometer, he has many more ideas in the pipeline, including a tea plucking machine and a bird like plane.

But the support has not been adequate. “The response has been very discouraging. Although I have done so many inventions, I have not received the kind of support from the government and the general public and private sector to improve the inventions to put it on the market,” he said with regret.

A Samurdhi Manager based at Sethsiripaya, he holds a degree in bio science

Help Lafir Mohamed

Lafir Mohamed Nizar, a 23-year-old of Canaverella Group, Namunukula, is suffering from advanced chronic kidney failure. According to Prof. Rezvi Sheriff the only life saving measure recommended is kidney transplantation following kidney machine treatment for 2-3 months. His father is willing to donate him a kidney.

The cost of this therapy ie. Haemodialysis treatment, donor work up, tissue typing and Kidney transplantation is approximately Rs. 400,000/= and after the operation he will need approximately Rs. 30,000/= per month for about 1 year followed by approximately Rs. 2000/- per month for the rest of his life for his follow up drugs.

His family appeals to the public to help by remitting money to the following Bank A/c. Current A/c No.1665-1, C/o The Manager, Bank of Ceylon, Haputale.

Chief Sangha Nayaka of Kotte South

Ven. Saddharmakeerti Sri Davulagala Sangarathana nayaka Thera, Viharadhipathi of Veherahena Pooravarama Rajamaha Vihara, the Chief Sangha Nayaka of Southern Lanka, has been conferred the newly created title of Chief Sangha Nayaka of the Kotte Southern Chapter, and the title of Upadyaya.

The venerable priest is the most senior pupil of late Most Venerable Dharmakeerthi Sri Revatha Rathanapalabhidhana, Anunayaka Thera of the Kotte Sri Kalyani Samagri Dharma Maha Sangha Sabha, the great conceiver of the new Buddhist architectural concept of a colossal Buddha statue at Veherahena and the other cultural works.

He devoted his efforts for the benefit of the Temple. He constructed a 3 storied building as a Pilgrims Rest. Since there were no proper resting places for the priests arriving from various parts of the country, he constructed a Sanghavasa with all facilities.

People arriving to worship the statue grew day by day, and to provide proper facilities, he obtained 2 plots of land adjoining the Temple premises, removed the stone boulders from the land, and converted the land to a parking area, and also constructed four storied rest place complex also on the same land.

While improving the facilities of the Temple, he also did much work for the well-being of the neighbourhood community. He started the Sri Revatha Pirivena, an institution providing a well balanced education to the young Samanera priests. By starting the Yoshida Children’s School and the Sri Revatha Dhamma School, he has done great service to the Dayaka community living in the vicinity of the Temple.

Continuing the social service activities, the Ven. Thera established the Sri Revatha Technical Training Institute with 10 Technical Training Subjects, for the benefit of the youth who have left school. Organizing the activities with due consideration of long-term aspects, he has established the “All Island Sri Revatha Social Service and Benefit Organization”.

Through this organization he provided assistance in times of national disaster. Much assistance has been given in the past, for those who were affected by floods, droughts, land slides or other disasters; by providing garments, food items, roofing material etc., and constructing houses where they were badly needed.

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