Evolving since the first sketch of an idea
Graham Patterson '20
Major | Industrial and Systems Engineering
Track | Innovation
My Hatchery project has been evolving since the first sketch of an idea. I was originally trying to make a way to remotely trap feral hogs which dig holes in farm land for my family’s ranch in Texas. After seeing the number of competitors in the hog trapping market and seeing the technological hurdles to be overcome, I decided to shelve the project.
My next idea was creating a cellular weather station to put at my ranch. The weather can be very fickle so knowing temperature and rainfall is helpful for recognizing if a drought is coming. I looked into purchasing an internet connected prebuilt weather station, but the current product was far too expensive. I was able to retrofit an existing weatherstation with LTE to remotely view data and trends.The next project was working on the ability to control a tank over Wifi. The project came about when researching the ability to control motors over the internet. This design was able to drive around my house remotely and I could see what was happening through a camera mounted on the front. I also was experimenting with solar panels as a way to power the tank rover to drive wirelessly, indefinitely.
I went into the Hatchery with the idea of a modular/cellular/sensor/solar/ camera/outdoor connectivity platform for any user to connect their sensors which would have been very helpful in my various projects. I was able to get my roommate and friend, Brian Quispe, to join the project as he is more business minded than myself as the engineer. We were able to join the Hatchery together to start working on our idea. The first steps were identifying our user, problem, and potential solution. The issue with our idea was the user base and various solutions were too vague to have a concrete idea. We started to think about more specific applications to our product. We meandered on bee hive temperature sensors, water quality, wildfire safety, and dozens more.
We eventually settled on the idea of a smart animal trap. It was interesting to see how a variation of my original idea of a hog trapping system spurred a number of different project ideas to ultimately lead back to a similar project. The project we are now focusing on is a smart animal cage trap. The design includes a camera, motion sensor, LTE modem, and a motor along with a digital platform. The idea is the user can see if the trap has caught anything remotely with the camera and can reset the trap if a non-target animal is captured like a skunk or a cat. The response time would be faster to retrieve a caught animal and the user would not need to be in person to check the status of the trap. The trap is also able to be remotely opened to release an animal in a relocated area without the fear of being bitten, scratched, or sprayed. This project is especially interesting because there has not been much advancement in the trapping field and I find the technology especially exciting. I also enjoy working with a hardworking good friend, Brian, who has a lot of good ideas to accomplish our common goal of producing the smart trap.