Saturday, 9 February 2013

The sloth backpack solution!

I have learnt a valuable lesson this week: always have a back-up plan! We recently discovered that the 3D printer we had been planning on using to create our backpacks was 'temporarily unavailable' - not great when I only had 3 weeks back in the UK to figure this out! 

After a brief panic my lovely sister saved the day with a bright idea: my old high school, Penwortham Priory Academy, had an excellent technology department... perhaps they could help! After a quick visit it was clear that the staff at the school were up for the challenge, what a relief! (although trying to explain that I needed help making a sloth backpack without sounding absolutely crazy was difficult enough!)

By this point, I only had 3 days left before I was due to fly back to Costa Rica (armed with the backpacks...) so we had no time to waste! The technology department staff immediately began brainstorming ideas and before long, they had developed 2 winning designs.

The first is a waterproof backpack that will be used to house the original, larger Daily Diary... This design consists of an existing plastic container, modified with holes for the harness and a silicon sealed lid - tough, waterproof and functional!

The second backpack design will contain our tiny new Daily Diary and VHF transmitter. Because this is a much smaller device, we used a vacuum form machine to mold a plastic sheet into exactly the right shape.  This worked like a dream!

Of course, things couldn't just be that simple - the new Daily Diary contains a barometer which will allow us to track the height of the sloth in the tree. This feature requires a constant air supply in order to work, yet the whole backpack needs to be waterproof! To solve this dilemma, we have created a waterproof sloth backpack with a... snorkel! Essentially this is just a tiny bendy rubber tube that air can pass through but water can't.

I want to say a HUGE thank you to all the staff at Penwortham Priory Academy who made all of this possible by kindly donating their time and expertise to the project. 

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