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Australian Cattle Council : Yearbook 2008
page 84 C aTTL e COUNCIL OF a USTR a LI a Y ea RBOOK 2008 ADVERTORIAL Richmond’s Bill gates By CHRIS McCORMaCK aS a child, William Harrington drove his parents up the wall. He was forever pulling things apart just to see how they worked. They diverted the youngster’s efforts into Lego and Meccano creations, but always encouraged his burgeoning technical skills. Nearly two decades on, that faith has been rewarded. Their son, now a third year computer systems engineering student at James Cook University, has invented what is being touted as the toughest, most user-friendly wand reader on the market, and plenty of cattlemen are sitting up and taking notice in the new NLIS-mandated environment. “I saw some of the other readers on the market and just shook my head – I was certain I could do better than that,” William explains. So he did. earlier this year, he was back on the family property, Olga Downs, about 50km north of Richmond, when he started tinkering with a home-built reader. It was a rough affair, designed as a box. Then, his father suggested repackaging it into a pipe. Within weeks, William had developed the NLIS pipe Reader, a completely cordless reader, complete with screen and counter, which could withstand the hardest knocks in a day in the cattleyards. “It’s basically the battery and hardware encased in a piece of 1.5 inch pvC pipe, one metre in length, capped at both ends, with a screen at one end,” he explains. “The aim was to make it as simple and as tough as humanly possible. The only part of the unit exposed is the button which you press to read the tag. The data is saved for a new animal, and it confirms on the screen that it’s been read. “I reckon it’s miles in front of the others on the market in terms of simplicity and toughness.” William’s reader has an option to count each animal in a mob, up to 8000 tags can be stored in the memory, and tags can be split into twenty mobs at the flick of a switch. The end guard features dust proof switches and are fully protected, and the unit features a light to indicate a successful “read”, buzzer and vibrating motor. Weighing around 900g, including rechargeable batteries, the NLIS pipe Reader comes with a USB data cable which allows stored information to be downloaded straight onto a laptop or pC, easy-to-use NLIS compatible software on CD and an adaptor which allows it to be run off a 12v car battery if necessary. The standard model retails for around $1150, the counter option adds another $250 to the price, and a fully wireless (Bluetooth) model with counter is $1400. William is aware his design is unlikely to be welcomed by the major manufacturers, but he argues that many other models are unnecessarily restrictive, complicated and overpriced. “Some wand readers I’ve seen make life harder than it needs to be – there’s battery packs on hips and cords running to the wand, which pretty much guarantees that it’s going to hook up on something one day and get damaged. The people who developed them obviously have never had to use one in a practical setting.” The practical element of William’s design has passed the test at Olga Downs, where his parents peter and Carmel run a predominantly Braford herd, along with a dwindling sheep flock. William is passionate about rural industry, and his wand reader is his first step toward marrying his background with his intense interest in technical development. “anything that is going to have a practical application in C AT T L E C O U N C I L OF A U S T R A L I A of f i c i a l p u bl i c at i on of t h e c at t l e c o u n c i l of a u s t r a l i a Printed and published by Walsh Media Services 1 T: (08) 8221 5600 F: (08) 8221 5601 E: firstname.lastname@example.org Y Should there be any alterations, please contact Helen Lee on (08) 8221 5600. ? Y E A R B O O K 2 0 0 8