The Stannary, part of fxPlus dining facilities at Exeter and Falmouth University

Our Alpha testing journey with fXPlus begins at Falmouth and Exeter University catering facility, The Stannary.

by Colin Higgs  24th-October-2020

The Stannary is Cornwall’s largest indoor venue with an overall capacity of 1400. It can normally feed this number of students daily as well!

We are fortunate to have developed a strong relationship with the Stannary and we are looking forward to contributing to their sustainable practises that are used at the University.

Initially in going to the University we had to overcome a couple of issues:
• Poor Cellular coverage
• Unstable Code

• Poor Cellular coverage
The current building extension to the Stannary (shown below) will include a new Sustainable eating area and bar and another kitchen. The facade of this building extension is copper and meant we could not receive a signal within the waste bin area (shown below). I had to buy antennas to attach to the outside of the waste area (shown below) and test several times. The antennas are shown below one was a 5dbi Omni-directional Anteena RG174 3M Cable and the other was a Bingfu Antenna 4G LTE 7dBi Magnetic Base .  The first antenna proved to be best and the second antenna broke.

The layout of the electronics and weighing device and the antenna is shown below. We are hoping to secure the electronics in one of the offices, or alternatively, if I can think of a secure box that cannot be tampered with outside. The image below shows the desired layout, with the electronics situated within an office through a slightly opened window (if possible) and the wires from the Antenna and the weighing device both feed through to the electronics in the office. See the image below expressing the same idea.

The preferred set up for the auto weighing device

Above images;  We see the desired position of the external Antenna. It runs into the Stannary waste area using a existing cable entrance.

The antenna attaches onto wall  using a existing metal plate that can be either be stuck or screwed into the wooden housing.

A photo of the existing waste area of the Stannary Kitchen that holds different type of waste from the kitchen.

Below that we see an Artists impression of the new extended Stannary that holds a new kitchen and dinning area.
Below that is shown an old photo of the Stannary.

Testing The Signals

We have two shown below 2 videos showing the electronics passing the signal successfully to our cloud server. One is from the outside where we managed to get a signal. The signal strength is also shown as decibel table with a RSSI Value (Received Signal Strength Indicator). 

Normally, I receive values at home between 4 -10 (40% strength) and at the University I get value between 8-16 (60% strength) with the Antenna. Without the antenna I would not get a working signal. The idea of RSSI values is shown below in the table.

The videos showing signal delivery to our cloud server are shown below

The videos with the antenna and it being connected to the electronics and sending data successfully to the AWS cloud server are shown below. The antenna is fixed both onto the outside of the Stannary and also onto the inside waste entrance door (here we use sticky 3M pads). Interesting, the signal did also drop significantly from the outside value (RSSI 16-13 60% down to 8-5 40%) when attached to the inside door.

 

• The next step would be to get a clarification on whether the Antenna is allowed to be fixed to the external ventilator outside? Or not?

 

• Also, whether or not the electronics could sit within the office? If the window was partially open?

 

I also have to get the antenna extension lead of 10 metres so that it can fit up to the office area

 

•Unstable Code

and also test the changed motherboard code to ensure the data is always transferred first time to the cloud server. The last time tested  it was sometimes not working properly. It would tase 2-3 times to send the data through to the cloud server which is not desired.

Why? As the motherboard memory is filled up to the brim. It can leak and have holes in the code. The solution is to re-code with as many low-level tools as possible to reduce the memory overall size. This has been done already and needs to be retested at the Stannary.

Testing the signal strength and code inside the building

We have tested the signal strength on the inside of the Stannary waste area. It was successful 8 out of 10 times. Signal strength reduced from 16 to 8. The video is shown below as well as photos of the position of the Antenna and where perhaps we can install the electronics.

The Stananry waste area

Our antenna installed above the exit waste area exit doors

Our antenna installation.
3 options:
1. — 1 office closest to exit through the pipes
2. — onto a palette storage shelf
3. — into office 2 via opened windows.

Our MVP working in our kitchen hacked together

 

We have connected and shown our MVP working in the kitchen using our antenna.Our MVP all connected and tested: with the antenna and hacked weighing device connected to our electronics and sending the collected sensed data out to the cloud. The physical weighing device is all working and we are currently working on the back-end of the data to connect to the front-end Dashboard. The video is shown below.

Our Manufactured weighing device first rendition

 

 

We have our first draft of our proposed manufactured weighing device.

 

Prototype 1

This protype design device is a  redesign of a domestic weighing device that can be either be mains powered or battery rechargeable. The antenna will sit at the back of the weighing device and either be 20 cm antenna that’ll screws into the back of the device or we can sell antennas that can sit outside the kitchens and with a 10-20 metre extension lead again screw into the back of the device.

Above renders : Our proposed manufactured digital food waste weighing device. Based on a domestic weighing device with steel protective top and 40cm x 40cm x 5cm . All cellular connectivity and display and lithium battery and charger placed underneath the scales.

How do companies sign-up and get testing?

 

We need to make it very easy for companies to signup to our services and  get measuring their food waste.

We are using our QR codes that you scan and send to your email so that when you register online with your devices will be ready to go and measure your waste. The QR codes will contain your unique Serial device number and your SIM telephone number. These will be needed to signup online so that we associate your company with a database of our weighing devices serial numbers.

Once this is done, all of the other databases and items that will be used to generate your reports are set up automatically. Then when the machine is switched on it can be detected at the backend  and your company data will start flowing to the correct places.

Our Live Demo is up and running!

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We have connected our electronic smart weighing device to the back-end AWS database and our front-end Dashboard summary

We have successfully managed to connect all of our electronics to a API end point that can handle upto 10,000 requests in 1 second to send data into AWS. The backend receives both the weight data and the weighing deice ID and automatically routes all the information to the correct dashboard AUTOMATICALLY.

The driving factor for all of this work comes from the SIGN-UP page. Once signed up all the relevant information we need to get your device working has been implemented. We collect a few inputs from you:
•  Scan the device QR code and give us the Device Id and Telephone Number
•  Your Company name. How many sites you are testing and the waste Category you are monitoring (cover/preparation/spoilage) for each site
•  Contact name and address
•  Contact email and telephone number
•  Debit card details for device breakages £55, will be returned once the device is returned all working

We started to work with a Sustainable  Designer to work on our second stage prototype smart food weighing device.  Why?

Our products and services are all about being sustainable and its important for us to extend that model into practice

 

We want to be carful in how we practice sustainability. We want to make sure we have thought carefully about the way we manufacture and source components and materials. We decided to engage the employment of a sustainable product designer to help us in that effort and build our second stage electronics devices. In reviewing our prototypes which will be quite close to the manufactured solution we considered the following:

• The device will be built for disassembly and repair..

• We are using recyclable 3d plastic filaments for 3d printing:

For the actual prototype – rPETG from a company called REFLOW. A Recycled PETG material

This material will be used to constructor the legs and enclosure of the device.

• Use of a durable and reusable laminated wood  surface that is long lasting and built for industrial use
• Fabricating locally to reduce our CO2 footprint
• Initially testing using a recyclable PLA plastic

 

Our Sustainable Product Designer Cristian Brandiburg

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