Flashing LEDs protect livestock from lion attacks

When we think of defense against lion attacks, the first thought is usually guns. Lots and lots of guns.  [Richard Turere], a 13 year old Kenyan tinkerer with neither books nor any technical education, has come up with something entirely different – He’s keeping the lions at bay with a solar powered system of flashing LEDs. Yup. Flashing LEDs.

Since he and his family live next to Nairobi National Park, lion attacks are an ever present danger. The only defense systems available were far too expensive for his family to afford, so he decided to build his own. He utilized the basic resources he had readily available: LED bulbs removed from broken flashlights, some switches, an old car battery, wire, and a solar panel that also operates his family’s TV.

The results speak for themselves. His family has had no lion attacks in over two years, and at least five of his neighbors believe in the system enough to have had him install it on their fences too. With the cost for this set up at less than ten dollars, and all the parts being readily available, this rather basic electrical system is an amazing breakthrough for the Kenyan pastoralists.

We look forward to seeing more of [Richard's] inventions. Way to go!

Comments

  1. Chris C. says:

    Now that’s a good invention!

  2. faso says:

    we shouldn’t promote people who can’t even draw a proper electric schematic, also transformers don’t work on DC.

    • Rockzo says:

      faso, your a dick

    • Matt says:

      You sir, are a twat. Go wrap yourself in meat and play with some lions. You might just get what you deserve.

    • t&p says:

      the hell?

      1. Someone that never did something thought of something innovating and people shouldn’t promote them?

      2. Transformers?!? Where the hell is transformers said? I ctrl+f on both this headline and the article and found no word of it. WTF is up with this random shit? OOOHHHHH wait…. I get it! It’s like some kind of game! Here I wana play!

      Poor people should stop being poor, also code in z80 asm doesn’t work on x86s.

    • cast_attack says:

      good catch on the diagram

      transformers definitely don’t work with dc

    • ND Jones says:

      What did you invent this week?

    • NewCommentor1283 says:

      he is NOT english as a first language, and the translation from various terms could easily turn into the word “transformer”

      like converter, power-regulator ect

      remember a power regulator/converter really DOES transform power in a way, it transforms it from unreg. to reg. :D so true but out of our regular techno-speak

      so the transformer could even just be resistors.
      or maybe his transformer is the converter he would be using for the TV, remember how he says “one” battery? its either a 12v tv or he is using an “inverter”, hmm it does have a transformer of sorts inside!

      you try translating it better, lets see what you come up with

      –>> translate is back into his language, then take those words and re-translate it back to english. i bet its not the same! XD cheers

      • Jerry Tremble says:

        I was thinking the same thing. There is certainly no need to criticize this kid for his work. Hacking isn’t about KNOWING everything when you start, it’s about being bold enough to try it in the first place, not being afraid of making mistakes, and learning as you go. This lad’s work should indeed be celebrated!

  3. Rogan Dawes says:

    Without wanting to take anything away from the achievements of the inventor, I see a problem with the solution he has come up with, if widely deployed.

    I hate to be that guy, but this puts me in mind of the story of the snake oil salesman. Before you shout me down, read it, and think:

    http://ha.ckers.org/blog/20100904/the-effect-of-snakeoil-security/

    All this does is shift the lions to other farms which don’t have the lights. There is no actual protection that prevents the lions from attacking the cattle.

    When all the farms have the lights, the lions will have two options: Revert to going after wild animals, or find a solution to the “flashing light problem”. I suspect it might be the latter, and then they are back where they started, having spent money (albeit a small amount) on a system that doesn’t actually protect them.

  4. rob says:

    More blinking LED posts on hackaday?!

    But seriously, good on him!

  5. Aprone says:

    I, for one, was hoping that this was going to be a finely tuned rate of blinking LEDs that sent attacking lions into violent seizures.

    My expectations weren’t that high, but my hopes certainly were. Nice job either way. Even though I agree this falls under the snake oil salesman scenario, it is still pretty effective. Just don’t spread the word about your invention so there is always “bait” living nearby.

  6. anon says:

    The link seems to lead to a virus infected site now!

  7. belljarred says:

    Amazing how this resourceful child found a way to live another day – hopefully until a viable permanent solution is found. While the point is valid, it is unfortunate to taint his success with the negative “snake oil” connotation…

  8. rasz says:

    They could just buy my rocks …

  9. Bill Gander says:

    Perhaps a building like a barn to house the livestock securely at night? Mudbrick walls and a wooden roof.
    Also raise goats then release them for the lions to fill up on so they don’t hassle the cows.
    I am glad things are safer for them and their cows either way and good for the kid for tinkering :)

  10. NewCommentor1283 says:

    good idea.

    and for the record, most modern TV’s can work just fine on hivoltage DC.

    BUT, check for a small low-power ac60hz standby transformer FIRST! newer tv’s usually do not have them. if it has a 60hz standby transformer, the tv can NOT use DC. if there is a 30khz SMPS standby transformer, then it CAN use DC

    just need to multiply the AC voltage by ~1.414 and thats the DC voltage needed.

    100vAC=~140vDC
    110vAC=~150vDC
    120vAC=~175vDC

    220vAC=~300vDC
    230vAC=~325vDC
    240vAC=~340vDC
    250vAC=~350vDC

  11. Wm_Atl says:

    Wish there was a picture of the control box. Kind of curious on how he sequenced the lights. As far as the use of the word transformer I suspect it’s the language barrier or just an lack of knowledge of electronics. As far as their tv is concerned it is probably similar to a tv that one would take camping. I suspect that it is powered by 12 volts dc thus the car battery and solar panel.

    Clever kid.

    • rob says:

      for sure. I need to get some solar panels for a small project I want to do, but I’ve been lazy and putting it off. Cleaning out the garage, though, so I’ll have a workspace.

  12. bothersaidpooh says:

    Someone should offer a “recycle your broken solar light” service, a lot of the time the expensive parts such as the LED and solar cell(s) are fine.
    Even corroded PCBs can often be repaired with vinegar+peroxide+grain salt trick.

    I tried this on a “dead” bike light and a phone, both are still working fine.

    • Tony says:

      Yes,vinegar+peroxide+salt will certainly ‘solve’ your corrosion problem.

      • bothersaidpooh says:

        This does work, you just have
        to make sure you DI water rinse
        then flush with IPA then dry.
        The salt is an activator, as it
        doesen’t neutralise the vinegar
        like bicarbonate does.
        Any other salt such as KCI should
        also work and be a bit kinder to
        the PCB tracks.

  13. Ken Quast says:

    After reading the comments so far, good, bad, and inappropriate, I have a slightly different view of this hack. Being a young child with limited resources and education, he saw a problem, thought about a solution, and implemented a plan.
    I think that the overarching lesson is that we, as humans, have the ability to be creative and solve problems. Whether it is in Africa, India, China, or anywhere else, we have a gift to be able to adapt and to be inventive. Let’s celebrate the gift and consider what we have all accomplished.

  14. Flash/Adobe hater says:

    I’d be curious to know how long till
    “Habituation” occurs amongst the Lions.

    Speaking from a humans standpoint:
    seems like every other
    trash can, wheelbarrow
    potatoe chip or cookie disaply,
    kiddie toy, bicycle vest,
    protester, hipster
    bus, sidewalk barricade….etc
    has to have a blinky thingy nowdays.

    Oh, and getting stuck in that stupid, friggin nascar week traffic
    behind some jerk with a 3rd eye brake light mod,
    that flickers again every damn time you roll a half inch.

  15. wardy says:

    That guy has the “knack” for sure.

    Great story.

  16. Tom the Brat says:

    Solving world problems, one hack at a time!

    Give that kid an attaboy, or maybe a kiloattaboy.

  17. Waffles says:

    CNN just picked up this story today.

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