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Power-mizer ATM can go off grid

Power-mizer ATM can go off grid

People in Third World countries, including tourists and travellers, need access to cash just as much as anyone else. That’s why designers at Vortex Engineering in India (www.vortexindia.co.in) redesigned the automated teller machine (ATM), making it easier to use in places where electricity is not a given.

Key to the Vortex ATM operation is the high- efficiency crystalline silicon solar cells that provide power. And when the sun’s not shining, tubular lead-acid or sealed, maintenance-free (SMF) batteries provide power for 8 to 12 hours. (Questions to the company about the batteries and solar cells went unanswered.)

To ensure the ATM would work with just the power from the solar cells or batteries, Vortex engineers had to redesign the ATM. For example, conventional ATMs commonly use CRT monitors, along with full-fledged PC boards, and cash is stored at the bottom of the ATM and a conveyor belt moves the money up to a dispensing slot. To reduce the energy needs of its ATM, Vortex engineers opted for a lower-power LCD screen. And cash sits in the top half of the ATM, so notes need not travel far before being dispensed. In fact, the new ATM relies on gravity to help it dispense notes. This lets the dispensing mechanism use smaller, lower-power motors compared to conveyor-based subsystems. The company says its ATMs uses 5% of the power regular ATMs use to count and dispense cash. And the design also causes fewer jams.

Other energy-saving features include: components designed to operate at temperatures up to 50°C: components that generate little heat, so no air conditioning or cooling is needed; and the same slot that hands out cash is the one that accepts deposits. For security, a new feature will monitor ATM location and report any changes in location to a bank manager.

The current Vortex ATM costs one-fourth the cost of a conventional ATM.

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