It's that time of year again, the largest agricultural show in the Southern Hemisphere in Mystery Creek, New Zealand, known as Fieldays. Considering New Zealand is such an agricultural based economy, Fieldays is a relatively big deal.
Since I can remember I have been going along to Fieldays with my Grandfather, a tradition I will continue tomorrow. When I was a young kid between the ages of 8-13 years I used to spend hours in the shed building all sorts of weird and wonderful contraptions. One day leading up to Fieldays I decided, along with the help of my Grandfather, that we needed to enter something into the young innovator's competition.
After some time thinking long and hard about what we could create to enter the competition, We entered a piece of bent number 8 wire. A year or so before I had been boosting down the farm track on my 50cc motorbike when out of nowhere I was taken out by a tape gate that I hadn’t seen. My bike went flying and I was left flat on my back. This special piece of number 8 wire that I was entering into the Innovators competition was to solve this problem- it would enable people to see tape gates rather than flying through them on their motorbikes. The wire we created was bent into a similar shape as a fishing hook and it connected to the tape gate. When a large amount of tension was applied to it, the gate would pop open.
I spent four days at the Fielday's manning my stand and enthusiastically demonstrating to people how my bent piece of number 8 wire worked. On the final day, I was informed that I had won $500, which was huge money to me at that stage. I’m sure my Grandfather had probably spent a bit more than that getting it all together, but it didn’t matter. I was stoked!
I find the best designs tend to be the simplest. This is a classic example considering our winning design could not have been much more simple than a bent piece of number 8 wire. Perhaps you could go and make some sort of sensor that would detect a motorbike coming and retract the gate, or you can just jimmy up something like this which serves the same purpose in a much simpler way. I tend to find that some of the most creative people are farmers, welders, mechanics and the likes, who are creative out of necessity. These sort of people will look at a problem in the most basic sense and work it out rather than trying to make it too complicated.
Also on a side note, grandparents are great! As I am writing this I am thinking about the wonderful time I had with my Grandfather going to and from the Fieldays, sharing cups of tea and showing people our contraption.
Thank you for reading and have a good week!