$100 laptop ditches hand crank

The One Laptop per Child project appears to have settled on a means to power its budget laptop for developing nations. Early prototypes of the system included a hand crank, but that design has now been replaced by a pull string.

The new generators, which will be field-tested beginning this October, abandon the bulky and inefficient hand-crank design featured on an early mock-up of the laptop in favor of a more compact off-laptop design that uses a pull string to spin a small generator. It was developed by Squid Labs, Emeryville, CA, a design and engineering group whose co-founders include several graduates of MIT’s Media Lab, where the laptop project originated.

According to one of the pull string generator’s designers, users can comfortably generate 20 watts, and sustain 10 watts for “as long as [they] want.” That’s a significant improvement over the hand crank, which reportedly requires more effort to generate just five watts. The string pull generator also varies resistance based on user strength, allowing it to make the most of each tug.


With a projected cost of less than $10 per unit, the string pull generator seems like a reasonable solution for the $100 laptop project. Heck, I can imagine that a few road warriors in the developed world wouldn’t mind having a pull string to recharge their mobile devices.

Comments closed
    • melvz90
    • 13 years ago

    any idea how much these laptops weigh?!? kinda reminds me of a similar gym equipment!! hehehe… free weights training! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Stranger
      • 13 years ago

      they’re pretty light. they don’t have half the parts a regular laptop does and they’re slightly smaller.

      wiki.laptop.org

    • cass
    • 13 years ago

    If they get it perfected the US govt will probably give $2000 a piece for them for use as backup field radios (once fitted with some Satelitte gear). Wouldn’t have to worry about battery die off.

    • krazyredboy
    • 13 years ago

    Darn! I was hoping that they would make you shake it, like those little flashlights with an iron plug, a coil and a capacitor. That would be fun…you’re typing your entrance paper to a college, that could potentially take you out of the slum that you live in, you’re almost finished, and then…the battery dies (or this case a capacitor, sorry for being literal) and you have to shake that 8lb. hunk of plastic and metal vigorously, before passing out from exhaustion, because the temperature outside is 114 degrees and you haven’t eaten in days, since you spent all of your money on the laptop. Only to find, that once you have recovered, that the information is now lost, because it was in the page file, and/or the hard drive no longer works since you were able to shake it into oblivion. You slept through the deadline while past out, and your life is in utter ruins after the hope that was promised of coming into the digital age with the advent of the $100 laptop.

    Sorry.

      • crabjokeman
      • 13 years ago

      But does it still get porn?

        • krazyredboy
        • 13 years ago

        I don’t know? I suppose you may still have the issue with shaking it…jerking it…uh…handling it improperly…oh dear…I wasn’t prepared for the ramifications of this, especially given the motion that you must replicate when recharging those flashlights. Well…I suppose the use, and the amount of porn, is all very dependent upon your stamina… … …I really shouldn’t comment anymore…

    • jackrabbit
    • 13 years ago

    put a “powered by briggs & stratton” sticker on the laptop.

    ๐Ÿ˜€

    • SlyFerret
    • 13 years ago

    I wonder if they considered a spinning wheel (for making yarn) type of design for the generator. A foot pedal could spin a flywheel on the generator to help generate more consistant power. It could be placed on the floor under the desk/table while they work.

    -SF

      • becubed
      • 13 years ago

      There’s even prior art for the pedal powered job.
      The Australian Flying Doctors service had them around 1927.
      See ยง[<http://www.flyingdoctors.org/school_projects/<]ยง about half way down the page.

      • Stranger
      • 13 years ago

      I think the general idea is that there will be all kinds of jerry rigged power solutions. The power circuitry is pretty beefy so it can deal with a wide range of power sources

    • sirdigalot
    • 13 years ago

    great! more nigerian spam mail offering me a million dollars for my bank account details…

      • Convert
      • 13 years ago

      At least now they have to work for it!

    • PerfectCr
    • 13 years ago

    How about $100 of food for these people?

      • BobbinThreadbare
      • 13 years ago

      Actually there are reasons not to do that, but they are rather draconian.

        • wierdo
        • 13 years ago

        That’s a short term solution, long term solutions are to give them the means to generate some industry or economy. We don’t want people to be dependant on outside help to survive forever.

        “give man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, give him a fishing rod and he’ll eat for life”

      • indeego
      • 13 years ago

      Next thing you know they’ll be demanding $100 Hummers. Gotta keep a leash on these peopleg{<.<}g

      • Peldor
      • 13 years ago

      ‘These people’ have food already. The program is not about helping people starving for food, but rather people starving for education.

        • wierdo
        • 13 years ago

        well put.

        • PerfectCr
        • 13 years ago

        You can’t learn if you are hungry all day, the brain doesn’t function. Get it?

          • indeego
          • 13 years ago

          No I don’t.
          /[

          • thecoldanddarkone
          • 13 years ago

          so true, think of it this, your taking a big test, you haven’t eaten for 3 days haven’t drinken any liquids in 1 day, try and think then. I know if I haven’t eaten for 2 days, I can’t think, even about things that I have known for years, I still can’t get them out.

          • bthylafh
          • 13 years ago

          This obviously isn’t meant for areas where there’s widespread famine. Food and medicine will rightly take priority for the duration of the emergency, then the survivors can be educated. This is meant for places with enough to eat but, as already stated, a need to learn.

            • Ruiner
            • 13 years ago

            do vasectomies cost 100 bucks?

      • eitje
      • 13 years ago

      i know it’s been covered before, but i’d like to provide some anecdotal evidence of why you are a tool.

      i work with people that live in other, less-privledged countries. they make less than $800 each month; some of them pull together $400 on a good stretch. they have enough to eat, nice places to live (i’ve visited, they’re nice), and most of them have functional and attractive vehicles. it really, seriously, honestly wouldn’t mean anything for them to get $100 worth of meat, cheese, and bread. they can get that already.

      now, the computers they have at work are probably 3-5 years behind what we have here. but many of them don’t have computers at home. a cheap OEM system might only be $500 w/o a monitor here in the states, but that’s a month’s salary for some of them. the only people in the states that’ll spend a month’s salary on their computers are enthusiasts. however, spending 1/5 to 1/4 of your monthly salary is a lot more reasonable.

      this is not a tool intended for the wandering tribesmen of the serengeti, or the seal-hunting eskimos in the far north. it’s a tool for underprivledged, but economically-capable, societies. don’t get them confused.

        • PerfectCr
        • 13 years ago

        wow, that story proves a lot. *cough*

        It still does not change the fact that the $100 laptop initiative is worthless when there are far greater problems in the world to deal with.

          • Stranger
          • 13 years ago

          I think you missed the point. This project is not for the starving people of the world. most people arn’t starving they’re just stuck in the middle of poverty. this project is not a technology project its a learning project and way for those in poverty to lift themselves up. each laptop will have tons of information on math, science, history, buisness and other topics. If I were to by those text books from my college I’d pay $100 for just one subject in those catagories. This project is about giving people the means to improve them selves and the society they live in.

          • eitje
          • 13 years ago

          it’s not worthless, man. education isn’t worthless. education has brought you so many things in your life, i can’t beleive that you would call this project “worthless.”

          do you want more people to work on those issues that you think are more important? world hunger? HIV/AIDS? environmental issues? reliance on oil? space colonization? or do you want the 1st world nations to solve those problems alone?

          personally, i would rather plant the seed of knowledge in hundreds of cultures around the world, and then get them to help out when they’re ready.

          again, i’m not talking about the sustenance farmers in central asia. the semi-industrialized nations of the world are the targets for this project, and i’m surprised that you can’t see where bringing more people to the intellectual table won’t be beneficial.

    • Ruiner
    • 13 years ago

    This will work great for surfing porn.

      • BiffStroganoffsky
      • 13 years ago

      Not really. The right hand is going to be plenty busy and calloused.

        • wierdo
        • 13 years ago

        don’t they have left handed ones? or do only left handed people get to enjoy the porn?

          • Ruiner
          • 13 years ago

          I was suggesting you combine movements with the same hand.

    • nonegatives
    • 13 years ago

    They should market the pull string for cell phones. No more dead batteries, or looking for a plug. Disposable phones wouldn’t even need a battery – less toxic waste.

      • 5150
      • 13 years ago

      WAAAAAY too much margin in accessories for cell phones for manufacturers to include this.

    • Wintermane
    • 13 years ago

    The point is even in places with little power you can run these.

    As for a pull string… string is amazingly durable and can take tens of thousands of pulls. Also its very easy to replace if it breaks. String is universal and cheap.

    • Fearless Leader
    • 13 years ago

    What?! Just browsing the interweb?

    You can get get a gamecube or DS for around $100 bucks or so. Those are pretty powerful pieces of machinery right there. A $100 notebook better be powerful enough to match either of those (ie. you should be able to do much more than just browsing the web with them), otherwise $100 bucks is too much.

      • bthylafh
      • 13 years ago

      q[<$100 bucks<]q Stop that. It's redundant.

        • indeego
        • 13 years ago

        Grammar Nazi’s: /[

      • Lazier_Said
      • 13 years ago

      1, a Gamecube or DS is $100 because they are selling the system at a loss to make it up on games later.

      2, More powerful how? Powerful graphics rendering? Why do you need much computing power for an educational device?

      • Stranger
      • 13 years ago

      the last time I checked you’d be hardpressed to get a gamecube to run without a monitor or without a reliable power source(i.e. no plugs on the wall) and you still have to deal with the fact a game cube doesn’t have a keyboard a mouse or speakers.

    • Materiel
    • 13 years ago

    I can just see it now…

    “The laptop goes mooooooo.”

      • Delphis
      • 13 years ago

      LOL… I hope the sound on the laptop is better than those lever operated/spin the pointer toys.

      Oh the rooster one .. gah..

      /has 3 yr old

      • Grigory
      • 13 years ago

      Haha! ๐Ÿ˜€

      • Logan[TeamX]
      • 13 years ago

      Perfect! XD

    • A_Pickle
    • 13 years ago

    The laptop is such a bad idea….

      • Chrispy_
      • 13 years ago

      For /[

        • Bauxite
        • 13 years ago

        But the only world that matters is my little world, because the world revolves around me and nothing else exists! -fingers in ears- lalalalalalalalalala

        I’d buy something like that for the bathroom heh, minimal risk.

          • A_Pickle
          • 13 years ago

          Or… maybe, just maybe, there’s a far more economical way of getting these folks into the digital age, like with cellular phones or (as I believe someone above mentioned) a Nintendo DS-like system.

          But… nah, you’re right. Spending time and money to develop a $100 laptop is clearly the right way to go, even though we have the ability to develop devices and software for them for that pricetag already. I guess I’m just trolling.

            • poulpy
            • 13 years ago

            Then you must still be trolling or never have used a mobile phone or DS to say that.. Even the crappiest laptop ever will outperform any of those handhelds if only for the form factor…
            Virtual keyboards, keypads and 4cmยฒ screens use for more than 2 minutes could turn any cute pupy into some sort of cannibal holocaust nightmare !

            • Stranger
            • 13 years ago

            so you’re suggesting doing things like spread sheets, writing, and general looking up of information on a cell phone?

      • eitje
      • 13 years ago

      trolling is a bad idea too. ๐Ÿ˜›

    • d0g_p00p
    • 13 years ago

    It seems like the pull string is a step backward. I mean the hand crank seems sturdy enough to withstand abuse and everyday useage. The pull string better be made of some light weight metal or something. To me this seems like a huge design flaw. I mean is this a computer or a speak n’ spell?

      • BeowulfSchaeffer
      • 13 years ago

      Have you ever tried to break or cut a kevlar string?

    • blastdoor
    • 13 years ago

    For the developed world, let’s have an exercise bike recharger — as you pedal, you recharge your laptop (or ipod, or cell phone, etc.). We first-worlders could use the exercise!

    • indeego
    • 13 years ago

    Dang I was hoping for the backpacks + full body suits that use static electricity. Nothing like seeing an ancient tribemember suit up to browse TRg{<.<}g

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This