Portable Digital Copra Moisture Meter–Millennium Alliance Award

Dear friends,

First of all thank you all for the appreciation and interest taken in the achievement.

This post is about the article that recently appeared in Malayala Manorama news paper. Many of you asked for a translation on my Facebook post. So here’s the post, its translation and clarification. The translation is a line by line translation, so there could be stuff lost/added in translation Smile 

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5.6 lakhs award for an invention from a Malayalee
Is the copra dry ? Digital meter will tell

Kozhikode: 5.6 Lakhs was awarded by Millennium Alliance to Malayalee scientist for developing portable digital copra moisture meter.  Sunish Issac, from Perambra  was selected from over 16,000 applicants on a national level. He’s the first Keralite to win the award. His invention will simplify the process of checking whether copra is dry enough for oil extraction. Currently its done by manually crushing the copra by using hands. Because of this most of the time farmers will not get the optimal price for the crop. 5-6% is the ideal moisture content and if its more the price would be reduced accordingly.


Since the article was covered in all editions of Manorama got quite a good number of calls from friends, family and well wishers. The kind of impact of newspapers is still so huge in Kerala/India.

Now about the selection process
1) Road shows were conducted by Millennium Alliance(MA) all over India, including Calicut inviting for innovations from individuals, universities, government and private institutions in various fields including Agriculture,Education, Energy, Health care,
2) Online application form submission, supposedly there were more than 16000 applicants.
3) Around 2000 were asked to send detailed proposals
4) 42 were selected and had to undergo due diligence and were invited to give a presentation to a big panel comprising people from USAid, FICCI, Technology Development Board and other organizations.
5) 15 people selected with varying amounts of funding. Among the 15, only 2 in agriculture and my digital copra moisture meter is one of the two.

Clarification:

  • The amount awarded is for converting the prototype to a full product and will be provided in tranches of 30%:30%:30%:10% based on the milestones.
  • As of 12-12-2014 no amount has been transferred
  • The award function was conducted in a grand function at Delhi. Sri Nithin Gadkari handed over the awards followed by an exhibition of the innovators.The awardees are listed on the Millennium Alliance website at http://www.millenniumalliance.in/Round2Awardees.aspxNow the story behind why I went into the development of moisture meter. In 2004 when my father passed away and I had to take care of our family business. I had some idea of the movie business but was clueless on the coconut oil mill. I knew that the most important part of the business was in buying as per my dad. I found it illogical to guess the price of copra based on just visual inspection.

    Being interested in technology I found that there was this moisture meter developed by Kasargod CPCRI (Centre for Plantation Crop Institute) was costing around 2.8 K INR.

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    Got one, only to find that it’s not very accurate. It can say whether its dry or not but not exact percentages. If copra is fully  dried and ready for oil extraction the moisture content should be 5-6%, in colloquial terms that is full dry. If the moisture percentage is say 7 % it would be stated as 1Kg loss per quintal (100KG) So if there is 2KG loss per quintal estimated that means the price offered to seller would be reduced by the estimated loss.

    Interestingly the scientist at CPCRI Dr. Madhavan who developed the moisture meter in 1980’s was a colleague of my friend Manoj Samuel. He was very helpful in giving the details and by that time I had opened the meter to find the circuit which was an astable multi vibrator whose out put was passed through the probe and then rectified and sent to a micro ammeter. There was a simple calibration mechanism. As the meter was measuring conductivity and since the variation of conductivity with moisture was non linear the meter will not be able to give accurate results. A simple way to increase accuracy was to have a lookup table and display a fixed value for all in between variations.

    I was able to tabulate the values of conductivity of copra in various stages of drying. To fasten the process, I used a microwave in baking mode and then compared the weight and conductivity. I made an important discovery during the process which is counter intuitive, but known by old copra merchants. When the copra is hot it will have lower conductivity and higher weight. I was told by Dr. Madhavan, who designed the original moisture meter that the assumption is right and the values have to be taken only on reaching room temperature. However I had to drop my tests in between when I had to return the accurate weighing machine that I had on loan.

    Last year, after attending the Millennium Alliance(MA) road show at Calicut I applied in agriculture section and energy. Digital Copra Moisture meter was selected for detailed submission and the energy project was rejected.  MA looks for bottom of pyramid innovations and since this helps coconut farmers and can be applied to other crop drying fields it got selected.

    Just before the Delhi presentation I visited Kerafed as I came to know that they are using something else for measuring moisture. Its the NIR (Near Infra Red )moisture analyser which is very expensive in tunes of 6-7 lakhs. That added lots of value to the prototyped moisture meter.

    Here’s the summary of the project as a one page document published in the MA awardee booklet.

    Challenge

    Copra is the dried kernel extracted from the coconut shell. It is crushed to extract coconut oil and oil cake. The quality of oil depends heavily on the moisture content of the copra. One of the important issues with coconut/copra farming is, estimating the price of copra based on its dryness. This is currently done purely based on the experience of the estimator. The farmer always thinks that he’s supposed to get a better price when the copra merchants feel it is not dried enough. There is also lots of time, energy and man power wasted if the drying process is not stopped when the ideal moisture percentage of 5-6% is reached. The challenge exists in most food crops that are dried for preservation or processing.

    The following solutions are available to check the moisture content, but they have drawbacks.

    NIR Analyzer (Near Infra Red))

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    Very Expensive  (6-7 Lakhs)

    · Non portable

    · Time consuming

    · Designed for lab use

    · Calibration required

    Imported Copra Moisture Meter.

    i. Supports lots of features

    ii. Very expensive (US$ 1795) http://www.kett.com/proddetail.asp?prod=HX120

    Copra Moisture Meter from CPCRI

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    · Inaccurate in giving exact moisture percentage and for values more than 6%.

    · Not user friendly.

    · Values manually averaged.

    Solution  (Portable Digital Copra Moisture Meter)

    clip_image009Portable Digital Copra Moisture Meter solves all of the above problems at a very low cost. It uses modern cost effective technology to provide accuracy and usability for all kind of users.

    Following are the key benefits of Portable Moisture Meter:

    · Portable

    · Very accurate

    · User friendly

    · 3 different models to suit farmers, merchants and lab grade users.

    · Auto Power Off to save batteries

    Impact

    · Cost effective usable technology for farmers and merchants

    · Prevents wastage of time in drying

    · Prevents wastage of fuel

    · Brings transparency to buying and selling of copra

    · Government organizations like NAFED,KERAFED other NGO’s will benefit from the speed and accuracy

    · Agricultural scientists can use it for quick measurement of moisture as its portable

    Since the moisture values can be displayed as percentage as well as in the format required by conventional merchants and farmers, it will be more usable.

    Potential to Scale / Global Transfer

    The technology can be used for other crops in agriculture and has industrial applications. Wherever fast and accurate moisture measurements are needed, the moisture meter can be used. Only the calibration data needs to be changed based on the material.

    Since the device is portable it can directly be used on the field. The device can be connected to a mobile or tab to do data collection and analysis.

    Apart from the coconut cultivating countries, the product can be used in other geographical areas for other moisture measurement applications like drying of fruits and vegetables.

     

    For those who have reached this far, you too can apply for the next round of Millennium Alliance Awards by applying at http://millenniumalliance.in/applyNow.aspx The online applications are being accepted since November 25th.

     

Get Free Flipkart Discount Coupons as Voucher

As an online shopper you might already know that flipkart doesnt provide coupon codes. Buts they have an affiliate program. I just thought of becoming one so that we can both benefit. As a user you get 50% of what I get. Just search for the product that you want in the toolbar widget on the right of this site.(Note it doesn’t work with Ad Block Plus enabled) and buy the product from Flipkart. Current commissions for May are as below. Please send me your order id and email address using the contact form. Once my account gets credited, I’ll send you flipkart vouchers equivalent to 50% of the percentage that I get.

The affiliate commissions for May is given below.
Books 10%
eBooks 15%
Large Appliances 4%
Cameras & Accessories 4%
Laptops & Computer Accessories (except Storage) 4%
Computer Storage (Hard Disks & Pen Drives) 3%
Mobiles, Tablets & Accessories (except MOTO phones) 3%
MOTO phones 4%
Audio & Video 4%
Gaming Consoles 4%
Games & Gaming Accessories 10%
Sunglasses 10%
Clothing 10%
Watches 10%
Perfumes 10%
Grooming, Beauty & Wellness 10%
Bags, Wallets & Belts 10%
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Home Furnishings 10%
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Luggage & Travel Accessories 10%
Home Improvement Tools 10%
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Fenugreek – Magic on my cholestrol levels

I don’t know precisely when I started to have high cholesterol levels. But one fine day in 2005, I felt I was gasping after a walk and I had this intuition that I had cholesterol. Went for a blood test along with my mom who already had started taking medicine, to find that I too had it. I did all to reduce weight, which was actually under control and my BMI was right.

I tried different stuff, controlled my diet, no eggs, no red meat and observed lent. I also ensured had lot of fish with Omega 3 fatty acids. The maximum of total cholesterol levels that I could bring down was 230. In between it had gone up to 305. With a a good familial background of cardiac arrest, my father and grand fathers’ from paternal and maternal side died of heart attack. My mom and dad had high cholesterol levels, but I never took medicine. In between when I ate lot of sardine and dates , the HDL levels had gone up but its very difficult to identify what exactly make a difference, because you never just eat one type of food. I never went for medicine as I was told that once you start to take medicines you can never stop it as the cholesterol levels do shoot up after stopping.

I recently came to to know that fenugreek can bring down cholesterol levels and it was not very difficult to try. Thanks to Fr. Paul Kynickal for his advice. The prescription was to put some fenugreek 15 or so seeds in to a small glass of water at night and drink the water and fenugreek seeds in the morning with an empty stomach. I tried for one month and here’s the result. There were no massive food restrictions and no exercise and of course no other medicines.

Here’s the American Heart Association recommended values http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4500

Date Sugar Total (<200) TG HDL(60 above) LDL VLDL LDL/HDL chol/hdl(<5)
03-02-2009 84 248 174 43 170 34.8 3.96 5.77
04-03-2009 98 246 202 68 138 40 2.03 3.61

The main difference is the increase in HDL levels. I’m continuing the treatment and I’ll post the next results within a month. Now with no non-veg, the difference should be more. A bit of walking is also planned.

Side effects : I felt a craving for sweets, apparently fenugreek brings down sugar levels too!

Here are some other benefits of fenugreek, that’s not confirmed 🙂 but found on the net.

    Discalimer :I’m not  responsible for authenticity of the statements below and the consequences of excessive use or abuse of fenugreek
  • Fenugreek seed is widely used as a galactagogue (milk producing agent) for lactating women, I don’t know the consequence for men  😉
  • Fenugreek is mainly used as digestive aid. It is ideal for treating sinus, lung congestion, reduces inflammation and fights infection. source : wikipedia
  • Supplements of fenugreek seeds were shown to lower serum cholesterol, triglyceride, and low-density lipoprotein in human patients and experimental models of hypercholesterolemia and hypertriglyecridemia (Basch et al., 2003).
  • It reduces blood sugar level.
  • Reduce menstrual discomfort
  • Minimize symptoms of menopause

Update : 2013 My last attempt of 1 month fenugreek without exercise has proved no change in cholesterol levels. But gooseberry juice has done wonders, reduced total cholesterol level from 270 to 230 without any exercise

Do we give more attention to those close by ?

Reading Influence – The Psychology of Persuassion and various other books, made me think about various influences. I just came across this phenomena while working as a cashier at my business premises. I tend to give more attention to those who are close by even if they were not the first to ask for a slip. And that inner knowledge is probably the reason why people never queue up in India. We know that we get more attention when we are at proximity with the listener. Physical proximity has more influence than loudness, I guess.

Is this thought silly, I don’t know, but most of what is written in big psychology books are all things we all know well…

Does money make you happy ?

Deep thought might definitely tell you otherwise. I’ve been browsing through the Happiness Project Blog for a long time.

I read Joel’s article about intrinsic and extrinsic happiness at inc.com. I probably have a lot of intrinsic happiness in helping out to solve tech problems. With the recent cash crunch I do feel that more money doesn’t mean more happiness, but lack of money definitely brings down my spirits..

I’ve become a father

After  months of wait .. my wife delivered a baby girl on November 29th and I’ve become a father.

I was tensed and curious. Tensed because of the unexpected trip to the hospital due to fluid leakage and because she had chicken pox during pregnancy. Curious to know whether our new born would be a boy or girl.

Got extremely busy for many days and couldn’t blog for quite some time…

Here are some photos of our new family member.

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Feeling so sleepy… 

 

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Deep but calm sleep..

 

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Thoughtful….

Fresh Engineering Graduate Training Topics

I was just thinking of starting a course for Computer Science and Electronics Engineers who have just passed out of College.

The topics that I thought of covering can be split into the following sections, covering what I call the basics.

Basic  Networking / Internet

  • Protocols (TCP/IP, NWLink, NetBios )
  • Application protocols, ports, configuring POP,SMTP,IMAP,NNTP,FTP,
  • Routers,ADSL, dynamic DNS,WIFI
  • Trouble shooting tips, techniques
  • Search Techniques,  Newsgroups search, Torrents
  • Web hosting, blogging, CMS, Adsense, search engine optimization, tools,tips and techniques
  • VPN, Open VPN

PC Trouble Shooting Assembling

  • BIOS – what can be done, basic and advanced techniques.
  • ISA,PCI, PCI Express, AGP and newer bus topology
  • PCMCIA,ExpressCard
  • Various Boot CDs, booting from Flash disk, CDROM
  • Drive imaging techniques, software, nLIte, VLite
  • SysInternals

Telecom

  • Mobile – GSM,CDMA,EDGE,GPRS,Evdo, SMS – PDU/Text formats
  • Land line – ISDN- BRI,PRI, PSTN,PABX,SMDR
  • IP Telephony

Software

  • Various OSes, basic command, shortcut keys etc., Separating DATA from OS, Data Recovery
  • OS differences, versioning
  • Freeware useful Utilities, registry hacks
  • Programing –  Source Control, UI design, Registry, Dotnet, Network programming tricks, techniques, tools(packet sniffers).
  • Virtual Machine Software -VMWare (Snapshots,Serial Ports on VMs) Virtual PC, Live CDS 
  • Sysinternals tools

Electronics

  • Basic electronic circuits
  • Batteries, chargers
  • Microcontrollers – PIC
  • Simulators, Emulators
  • Serial Port, USB, Bluetooth
  • PCB design with Eagle

Will add more as and when required or when I get new ideas. If you are in or around Calicut and needs training on the above topics, please contact me using the contact form of this site.

Trip to Ernakulam

Personal Useless Stuff ; just for twitter 🙂
After a long time I came to Ernakulam from Calicut by car. The intended purpose was staying with my expectant wife till delivery. The road (NH 17) seems to be very much okay when compared to the previous trips. But took a long time to reach Alwaye and felt quite tired. The main reason was the failure of the air conditioner. For many days there were problems with the aircon, but since it was all short trips it was not much of a problem. There was no cooling, but the compressor seemed to get loaded, there was the typical loading sound difference of the engine when the A/C was turned on.

Does the ATM/Debit Card Expire ?

Yesterday I got a new Visa ATM card for my Federal Bank Account. The expiry date is in 2017. The previous card was valid only for 3 years and the new one has a validity period of 10 years. I was told the old one will work without any problems. I tested and it indeed worked. I guess the bank auto renewed the old one and associated it with my account. Since the new one has a different card number, there’s no conflict of PINs.. However I just changed the new one’s PIN to the old one. So if you have a Federal bank account and thought that the card expired on expiry date, don’t worry, you an continue to use it.

Paypal lets you accept money through Indian Banks

Not news anymore and I have not yet received any payments through paypal yet ,but I have a donation link at http://jal.sunish.net/donate.

I decided to go through the paypal process to accept money through my ICICI bank account in Calicut. After going through the profile option and Add bank of paypal website, it was asking for IFSC code.  A quick search revealed no result, but I accidentally stumbled upon

http://www.joycebabu.com/blog/paypal-supports-direct-withdrawal-to-bank-account.html where he has listed the the RBI link at http://www.idrbt.ac.in/index_fromsm.html?ifsc_directory.html?infinet

Finished through the process and got this threat

“Please make sure that the information you provided is complete and correct. Otherwise, the amount will be returned to your PayPal account (deducting any bank charges) and a return fee of 250.00 INR will be charged.”

and

It can take 5-7 business days to complete this transfer, depending on your bank’s holiday schedule and payment policies.”

Still not bad, for receiving money from the following banks SBI,Bank Of India, Canara Bank (No net banking in most places), Union bank, HDFC, ICICI, Axis, Standard Chartered, HSBC and ING Vysya.