Gráinne's big idea set to save lives
The Tullamore Show crew are always keen for more students to take part in the inventions competition. And if the calibre of entries this year is anything like previous shows, punters looking for handy farm inventions certainly won't be disappointed.
Last year, the very worthy winner of the student invention award in Class 901 (Inventions in Agriculture, Horticulture and Forestry) was 15-year-old Thurles Presentation Secondary School student Gráinne O'Dwyer.
Ms O'Dwyer, whose family run a drystock farm in Urlingford, Tipperary, came up with a really clever device that has great potential to save lives on farms. Her PTO shaft safety invention uses a PIR motion sensor to detect movement at the back of the tractor when the PTO shaft is engaged.
Once movement is detected, it automatically turns off the drive to the PTO shaft. The system has been proven on the O'Dwyer farm to work with a tractor that has electronic solenoid engagement with its pto shaft drive.
Ms O'Dwyer came up with the idea of a sensor as, through her farming background, she was well aware of the problems of pto shaft dangers on the farm and set about finding a solution that was easy to install, relatively cheap and reliable.
Throughout the design process, she received good guidance from her secondary school teacher Patricia Stapleton.
Ms O'Dwyer finally perfected the idea on St Stephen's Day 2011, with the use of her father's Massey Ferguson tractor and Rossmore slurry tanker. She sourced all of the components on the internet and was able to put the complete pto shaft safety kit together.
The Panasonic PIR unit has a sensor area of about 2m x 2m, allowing it to detect movement around both sides of the shaft.