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Category: Fine Motor Disabilities

Combination Seed Dispenser And Planting Mechanism

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---- PROTOTYPE --------- PURPOSE: To create a prototype of a seeding system for employees with developmental disabilities or traumatic brain injury working in a greenhouse. The employees perform a variety of tasks that involve planting and growing crops. The employees plant seeds in flats, consisting of 12 trays of 2 x 2 inch cells for a total of 48 cells per flat. Each employee seeds two to three flats per day. The seeds are small and difficult to discern from the soil. The employees have varying disabilities that result in difficulties with perception, dexterity, and focus. Before development of the prototype, staff members spread seeds onto a Styrofoam plate, and then pushed the seeds off of the plate and into the cells. However, this method was imprecise and tedious. Employees had trouble with one or more of the following tasks: picking up the seeds, planting only one to two seeds per cell, and keeping track of which cells had already been seeded. The system needed to assist the employees with the seeding task, while also providing them with a sense of independence. The final design was composed of two main components: (1) a template that the employees placed over the seed flat and (2) the seed dispenser that dispenses only a few seeds at a time. The purpose of the template was to show the employee the locations of each seed cell. They loaded the template with seeds, and then push them through to seed cells below. Each template was composed of two 11 x 22 inch sheets of acrylic, with a sheet of colored neoprene sandwiched in between them. The three layers of the template were connected together using 8 bolts and nuts. The acrylic sheets had a 12 x 4 pattern of 1-inch diameter holes that lined up over each of the 48 seeding cells. There were also diaphragm valves cut into the neoprene sheets under each hole in the acrylic. The diaphragm valve is an "X" shaped slit, which held the seed until it could be recognized by the employee, who then pushed it through the valve into the cell. The neoprene then reverted back, closing the valve. Acrylic L-brackets were glued onto the edges of the template so that it stayed in the proper position over the flat. Each template was exchangeable between seed flats. The employees used the custom seed dispensers to distribute one to two seeds onto each hole in the template. Its operation and appearance was similar to that of a syringe. It was made of a PVC pipe cut lengthwise in half, with a loading hole drilled on one side. A cut with a length of 0.2-inch thick was made into the acrylic with width equal to the outer diameter of the PVC, and cut a 0.1-inch deep groove into one end (called the dispensing end) are made. The PVC is glued to the top of the acrylic strip with the groove sticking out. This was called the loading chamber. A cut with length of 0.1 inch thick , called the slide, was made in the acrylic with width equal to the inner diameter of the PVC pipe. A hole was drilled on one end of the slide, with the hole size dependent on the size of the seed to be planted. A small piece of plastic was glued on that same end of the slide to act as a stopper. The other end was slid up through the loading chamber. A semicircle of 0.2 inch acrylic was glued onto the pipe on the dispensing end so that there was not a gap between the slide and the semicircle. The same was done on the other end. Finally, a small spring and a rubber stop were placed onto the other end of the slide to form the plunger. Seeds were loaded into the loading chamber through the large hole, and a stopper was placed into the hole to prevent seeds from coming out. The employee used the seed dispenser by placing the guide in the hole and pressing down the plunger. After every hole in the template was seeded, the employees poked the seeds through the valves using their fingers. TITLE: Combination Seed Dispenser and Planting System. JOURNAL: NSF 2010 Engineering Senior Design Projects to Aid Persons with Disabilities. REF: Chapter 7: pp. 80-82. PAGES: 4 with cover. 2010. http://nsf-pad.bme.uconn.edu/2010/CHAPTER%207%20DUKE%20UNIVERSITY.pdf.


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Combination Seed Dispenser And Planting Mechanism

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