Team Name：Operation Blue (藍海行動)
Team Members：Chen Bide (Peter) Lam Justin Yuen Shing Ho Kinsey Au Yee Fong (Angel)
School Name：St. Paul’s Co-educational College
Introduction of the team：
The team consists of a group of Secondary 4 students from Hong Kong. The students aspire to utilize technology and their own knowledge to invent different items in order to mitigate daily problems. In light of the environmental issues caused by marine pollution, the team designed the product Operation Blue, which is a marine trash collection device. This product is one of the entries for the Hong Kong Product Design Makeathon 2018-19 and it was awarded Champion in the category Eco-friendly or Energy Saving Products.
Every year, approximately eight million tons of plastic waste is disposed into the ocean. However, even this staggering amount of toxic waste only comprises part of the trash that is entering our waters. Our oceans are polluted with rubbish originating from sources such as plastic industries and surface runoff.
The waste we dump into the ocean has a measurable impact on the environment around us, an impact that can be seen from its effect on marine animals and plants. Every year, we see reports of turtles choking on plastic bags, of birds getting poisoned by compounds found in our waste, of plastic beads being found in fish intestines when we cut them open. All around us, we see evidence of humanity’s impact on marine wildlife.
This problem is not just confined to marine animals, either. We are also greatly affected by the marine waste we create. Toxins build up in fish, which are eaten by larger fish, and so on. At each higher rung on the predatory hierarchy, these poisons are concentrated more and more. In the end, we are the ones who eat seafood with dangerous levels of mercury compounds and other similar toxins.
We, in Hong Kong, have also been greatly affected by the proliferation of floating debris, which pollutes our marine environment. Taking a stroll along any harbour, it is not hard to find plastic bags floating on the dirty, polluted water. We strongly feel that this problem needs a solution.
Therefore, we designed and created Operation Blue: a marine trash collection device that could cheaply and efficiently collect and remove trash from the ocean, thus protecting the environment. This could mitigate the impact humans have on the marine environment, saving the countless marine animal and plant lives each year.
Blue is a device that enables the collection of floating trash and other debris in the sea. By placing in water and activating it, the device, controlled by app through Bluetooth, will proceed to move. When a piece of trash is detected, the controller can stop the movement and begin to pump water by pressing the button in the app, thus attracting the trash into its filter and collecting it there.
When the pump begins pumping, the water level difference forces water inside the bin, carrying floating trash with it. The catch bag allows water to filter through while leaving rubbish inside for later collection. Water will be drained away by the pump at the bottom of the bin, allowing more water to flow into the bin.
Design of Operation Blue in Tinkercad
Diagrams for circuits in the 3D printed compartment
Pictures of Operation Blue
Each component was chosen specifically to facilitate the functioning of the device.
An HC-05 Bluetooth module was selected to receive Bluetooth signals from a phone, which can run a separate app to control the device. This allows for a high level of control over the device’s movements and functions, which can enable maneuvering in environments with tight space. In addition, this can allow users to directly clean up trash once they see it, thus saving a lot of time.
Brushless motors were chosen to minimize wear and tear, as they lack brushes that can be worn away from constant spinning. In order to control them, we used electronic speed controllers (ESCs). The motors were placed at right angles to each other, and at 45 degrees to the axes of the bin, allowing it to move in any direction by activating the 2 motors pointing in the said direction.
An Arduino Mega motherboard was used to control the device, which could allow for control over the various components of the device. This also allows our prototype to have a high degree of flexibility and versatility, as different components can be switched out as needed without a lot of effort.
G. Procedures of making Operation Blue
Step 1: Design circuit diagram and type the Arduino program code
The circuit is carefully planned beforehand. The circuit connects each components in parallel such that the power of all components can be controlled by one switch. After the circuit diagram is designed, the Arduino program code is then created and debugged by the team to finalize the general flow of the product.
Step 2: Construct the circuit and test it
Testing is done in order to check the Arduino code.
Step 3: Program and create a Phone App for Bluetooth control and install the Bluetooth Module
The phone app is created via App Inventor for controlling the bin using Bluetooth. The Bluetooth Module used is HC-05.
Step 4: Create cover for the bin
The cover is created using kickboard and servo motors. The components are fixated on the bin using hot glue and a platform made of wood.
Step 5: Install the circuit and other components to the bin
The circuit is first installed to the 3D printed compartment, then the 3D printed compartment is sealed using epoxy. The Bluetooth antenna, waterproof box and cover are then installed onto the bin.
Step 6: Waterproofing
The bin is waterproofed by epoxy and glass glue to prevent water from contacting with the electrical components.