Cow-er power wins udderly

Written by Phil Cogar

October 26, 2007 // 1:47 p.m.

Tags: #cow-power #g1g1 #get-1-give-1 #livestock #moo #oink #olpc #woof

The One Laptop Per Child program continues to leap hurdles – this time concerning power sources.

Arjun Sarwal, one of the members of the OLPC foundation in India, has announced that the charity plans on using cows to drive a power generator created from some very rudimentary parts. The system uses a setup of belts and pulleys to drive an alternator. Due to the lack of reliable sunlight, strong-flowing water, or heavy winds in the area, livestock make a logical power source because of its abundance.

It’s not all success in the OLPC camp, though. Another production delay has hit, causing a shortage of laptops available for shipment to the first two countries to have ordered systems, Peru and Uruguay. This shortage may also effect the Give 1 Get 1 initiative, which allows people to buy one of the nifty notebooks at the price of two machines, with the second machine being donated back to a developing country.

The $188 laptop was intended to start production in October, but due to some “last-minute bugs” production was delayed. This inability to manufacture the systems to meet demand may affect the overall success of the program.

The final features list includes 1GB of flash memory, 256MB of RAM, a small mechanical device capable of charging the battery on its own, a digital video camera and microphone, wireless connectivity and a Fedora-derived OS with features specifically updated per region. One interesting feature that’s been added concerns the display – a button push changes it from color to black-and-white, to aid viewing in direct sunlight.

Another respectable feat, made possible due to the absence of mechanical parts (no hard drive or optical drive) and other power-saving methods is the power consumption - the system is rated at a mere two watts of power. To put this in perspective, the iPhone is rated at 5.18W.

Will you be participating in the G1G1 promotion? Share your thoughts and comments over in the forums.

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