The 'Springy Bracket' Fable
While the whiz-kids on the Plexus development team were sitting in air-conditioned comfort discussing packet structures and the Fresnel zone equations, Jack – MEA’s mechanical engineer – was sweating it out over in the MEA workshop hammering and straining, bending and cutting, welding and grinding bits of metal into scrap at a goodly rate.
His task was to make the Plexus ‘springy bracket’.
This gadget was to absorb an almost elephantine gestation period but would be critical to our first Plexus sale – to Brown Brothers vineyards in Victoria and Tasmania.
The conundrum we faced with the Plexus radio design was that we needed to hop at least a kilometre between field stations while gaining full access to solar energy to power everything; we had to stick it up above the crop.
How not to get our heads knocked off by all those over-canopy sprayers, pruners and harvesters?
While Jack had experimented with ‘fixed’ brackets and even ‘knock down’ brackets, Brown Brothers would wait for no man; they wanted to roll right over Plexus field stations at up to 15km/h and have it spring to attention behind them. No getting out of the tractor to set things right…
Ever wondered about that elegant sculpted shape of the red Plexus body? It’s not there to attract suitors but to avoid getting snagged on the roll bar of a grape harvester!
Dr. Andrew Skinner
on 29 September 2014