A suitcase which can record weight!

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New Delhi, March 2: For those who live out of their 'suitcase' and worry about their belongings being thrown out on non-payment of extra charges for exceeding the allowable limits of luggage before they take to the skies, here comes a piece of news that will warm the cockles of their hearts.

Never before did air travel seem so easy. One look at this suitcase and you will dismiss it for a prosaic one -- but it is not. For a smooth check in without having the need to either leave some items, especially for an international flight, students from the Textile Technology Department of the Indian Institute of Technology (Delhi) have invented a suitcase with an in-built digital display, recording the weight of items that are crammed into it.

A brainchild of four IIIrd year BTech students: Aaina Grag, Jasleen Bhasin, Priyanka Malik and Shravni Jain, they came up with the innovative idea as part of their four-month-old project of the syllabus. The idea assumes significance as the baggage overweight problem has become the order of the day for passengers' daily inconvenience.

''Luggage is of primary concern for any air traveller as it contains all belongings as well as necessary articles needed for the trip. We always face the problem of weighing the luggage before a flight, especially an international one. So, we decided to go about devising a suitcase that would prove a panacea for baggage overweight problem,'' said Jasleen, one of the student.

The suitcase has an in-built weighing machine using the concept of platform load cell for sensing pressure and displaying the weight of luggage on top, she added.

According to Dr Deepti Gupti, Associate Professor, Department of Textile Technology, ''Students are given an assignment every semester as part of their course study to be completed within a four-month time duration. Every time, they produce distinct creations and we strongly encourage their ideas if they create something, which has no link to their subject matter.'' ''However, this invention makes a remarkable distinction given its significant need caused by the ongoing problem of unloading the overweighed luggage at the airport. The suitcase indeed suits our needs,'' she added.

''It is embarrassing if necessary articles are unloaded from the baggage prior to take off at the airport. So, the idea of suitcase that weighs self clicked,'' said Aaina, another student.

During the course of its production process, the students, however, had a harrowing time in producing an in-built weighing machine camera, which required knowledge in electronics and machanics.

They ran from pillar to post to seek the guidance from their brethren from the electronic and mechanical departments to get the knowhow on the operationalisation of the digital display of the camera in the suitcase.

The suitcase has a battery-operated LCD that gives the exact weight. But, the weight can only be recorded if it is focused on one area and in a suitcase, load is distributed.

So, the students replaced the base of the suitcase with a rigid flat wooden base. They then placed a load cell--an Aluminium Platform Load Cell (Cantilever type)-- underneath it to sense the weight of the luggage loaded on the upper platform.

The cell was then connected to a battery that changes electrical display into digital signal and records it on the monitor.

Prof Gupta, who supervised the project said: ''The product makes it the best ever creation as the students had to meet many challenges in creating the suitcase, which required knowledge of areas such as technical and mechanical other than Textiles.'' While producing the suitcase, the selection of appropriate load cell and its proper placement in the suitcase was necessary so that the non-uniformly distributed weight was concentrated at one point.

Besides, minimising the weight of the assembly, reducing the space occupied inside the baggage and protecting the fragile wirings of the circuit were some other challenges the students encountered successfully, Prof Gupta added.

The apparatus, however, occupies a lot of space inside the suitcase and due to the wiring and very sensitive load cell, the suitcase needs careful handling.

UNI

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