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Crate - Softshell

Crate is a foldable, reusable, shipping container that can prevent damage, decrease theft, promote sustainability, and improve customer engagement. Equipped with a GPS tracking module, RFID reader, and solenoid lock, Crate is packed by a retailer and shipped through the normal carrier shipping system to be picked up and reused hundreds of times.

Design Overview

Crate includes two distinct components: the double plate locking mechanism and the soft-shell bag accompaniment. This design minimizes complex systems while maximizing function and efficiency. The double solid plate portion of the design provides housing and security for electronics as well as a stable state for the robust locking mechanism.


Lock Mechanism

A custom bottom lead-in was designed to attach to a standard zipper. When Crate is locked, this lead-in interfaces with a solenoid lock to prevent the zipper from sliding. When Crate is unlocked, the solenoid retracts and the bag can be opened by sliding the zipper. For increased security, this lock was designed to be internal to prevent direct access.


Using Autodesk Fusion 360, I designed an electronics mount to house the Arduino Uno, GPS Module, 12 V Relay, and battery pack. This mount was designed to be 3D printed and was dimensioned so standard M3x8mm bolts could secure each component and remain flush against the bottom of the board.


Circuit / Software

The software relates the RFID reader to the solenoid lock. By placing the RFID chip close to the RFID reader, the solenoid retracts and allows the zipper to move freely. The solenoid retracts for 5 seconds and then re-locks. The GPS module runs independent of the RFID reader and the client is able to track the location of the package. 

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