Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

OLPC Experiments With Cow-Powered Laptops

CowboyNeal posted more than 6 years ago | from the moove-over-solar-power dept.

Power 189

An anonymous reader writes "The One Laptop Per Child Project (OLPC) is toying with a novel source of power for its low-cost XO laptops: cows. "We plan to drive a dynamo (taken from an old Fiat) through a system of belts and pulleys using cows/cattle," wrote OLPC's Arjun Sarwal, in an October 21 e-mail posted to one of the group's discussion lists. Sarwal and others are now finalizing the design of the cow-powered generator."

cancel ×

189 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Something doesn't smell right (5, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 6 years ago | (#21126699)

There is no way this is true.
There is no way they can get cows to power laptops, there is no way they would stay in their wheel.

Now, if they suggested a beowolf cluster of hamsters then I would believe it.
As it stands this article is just a load of bull.

Wow...Second world nations? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21126777)

Aren't these laptops for developing nations such as India? If so, there are *FAR* better ways to generate energy. I know that cows are work animals, but this is a terrible application. Throw up a few photovoltaics, batteries, and regulators, and you have an generator unit costing the same that does not waste your work/food animal.

Poor people using such animals tend to have a lot more common sense than we do. This is absolutely preposterous.

Re:Wow...Second world nations? (2, Informative)

pipatron (966506) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127105)

RTFA:

the group considered using solar energy but sunlight near Mumbai was not "consistently strong."

Lick my balls (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21127593)

RTFA


That is why you use batteries. Do you have any CLUE of the latitude of Bombay? You do NOT need sunlight all the time if you can store the energy, and if you don't get enough energy, add more panels and store it when it ISN'T cloudy. Don't curse at me, and please, please, die in a fire.

Re:Something doesn't smell right (2, Informative)

monk.e.boy (1077985) | more than 6 years ago | (#21126791)

Wouldn't you harness them to a pole that is perpendicular to the shaft of the generator.

I'm sure they used to grind flour with the same sort of technology.

Re:Something doesn't smell right (4, Funny)

walt-sjc (145127) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127439)

Cows put out 500 liters of methane a day (that's per cow.) The obvious solution is to stick a tube up their asses and run a generator off of it. No need to make them walk. :-)

Re:Something doesn't smell right (5, Funny)

FredDC (1048502) | more than 6 years ago | (#21126819)

No, it's pretty real, they've made a deal with the OCPC project (One Cow per Child). They give the cow needed to power their laptop! It's a pretty sweet deal, you get a laptop and a cow! Now that's marketing!

Re:Something doesn't smell right (3, Interesting)

slart42 (694765) | more than 6 years ago | (#21126975)

No, it's pretty real, they've made a deal with the OCPC project (One Cow per Child). They give the cow needed to power their laptop! It's a pretty sweet deal, you get a laptop and a cow! Now that's marketing!
On a more serious note, OCPC is actually called Send A Cow (http://www.sendacow.org.uk/ [sendacow.org.uk] , they try to aid farmers to support themselves by donating livestock.

Re:Something doesn't smell right (2)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127265)

On a more serious note, OCPC is actually called Send A Cow (http://www.sendacow.org.uk/ [sendacow.org.uk] , they try to aid farmers to support themselves by donating livestock.
The Heifer Project http://www.heifer.org/ [heifer.org] could also be called the OCPC. I am not familiar with Send A Cow, but it sounds similar to the Heifer Project. As of the last time I checked, the Heifer Project had an amazingly low overhead. Meaning that most of the money donated to them actually went to the cause, not to paying an expensive staff.

Re:Something doesn't smell right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21127367)

They try to aid farmers to support themselves by donating livestock.

Wait, someone is trying to teach farmers to support themselves by giving them stuff? If you want to teach people to stand upright, the best thing is to is withdraw from the situation so they can learn how. Otherwise you are just creating a culture of dependency that every foreigner in the Third World knows from the children running up with outstretched hands.

Re:Something doesn't smell right (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127715)

Or, you could just loan them the money to buy a goat [kiva.org] . And they have a 99% repayment rate.

Re:Something doesn't smell right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21127727)

Great, so now you want to trap people in a culture of debt just like the US is saddled with?

Re:Something doesn't smell right (1)

skoaldipper (752281) | more than 6 years ago | (#21126983)

In impoverished nations, what are the odds most OLPC cow powered batteries will eventually lose their charge over dinner?

Re:Something doesn't smell right (2, Funny)

camperdave (969942) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127221)

In impoverished nations, what are the odds most OLPC cow powered batteries will eventually lose their charge over dinner?

In famine struck nations, what are the odds most OLPC cow powered batteries will permanently lose their charge over dinner?

Re:Moo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21126919)

Moo Moo Moo!

Re:Something doesn't smell right (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21127083)

I, for one, welcome our new bovine powered overlords.

Re:Something doesn't smell right (0, Offtopic)

Mipoti Gusundar (1028156) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127333)

I, for one, am calling the bullyshit on this storie.

Re:Something doesn't smell right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21127601)

>Something does not smell right

Especially when you have a programmer's view, and cow-power is like
Copy-On-Write Power.

Cow Power (3, Funny)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 6 years ago | (#21126713)

"This is a 5CP laptop, but if you could overclock it to 6CP."

Re:Cow Power (2, Funny)

Mushdot (943219) | more than 6 years ago | (#21126723)

They should get a pat on the head for this idea.

Super Cow Power (2, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127283)

My computers are super cow powered. See?


$ apt-get moo
      (__)
      (oo)
/------\/
/ | ||
  * /\---/\
    ~~ ~~

Slashdot: Moos that matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21127635)

That's all i got.

Huh? (1)

neochubbz (937091) | more than 6 years ago | (#21126729)

Is it April 1st already?

Cows don't walk much (3, Insightful)

jrumney (197329) | more than 6 years ago | (#21126731)

Whenever I see a herd of cows, they are either standing still eating, or walking to the milking shed to be milked. Getting one to walk on a conveyer belt with no useful purpose for the cow is not going to be easy. They might get a more consistent supply hooking up a dynamo to the cow's jaw, chewing is something they do a lot of.

Re:Cows don't walk much (2, Informative)

Eivind (15695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21126771)

Read the article -- cattle is already used in this region for stuff like running waterpumps and similar. So we can assume that the problem of enticing the cows to walk in a circle (not on a conveyor belt) is a solved one.

Re:Cows don't walk much (1)

jrumney (197329) | more than 6 years ago | (#21126835)

The article just says that cows "are being used in the fields". It doesn't say anything about waterpumps or getting them to walk in a circle.

Re:Cows don't walk much (1)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 6 years ago | (#21126781)

They might get a more consistent supply hooking up a dynamo to the cow's jaw, chewing is something they do a lot of.

They should make this device "girlfriend"-sized.

Re:Cows don't walk much (4, Funny)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 6 years ago | (#21126941)

They should make this device "girlfriend"-sized.
You're dangerously close to talking over the readers' heads here. At least give a link to the Wikipedia entry on "girlfriend".

Any of us who've got this "girlfriend" you speak of should already have her working on our dynamo.

At least that's what I call it.

Re:Cows don't walk much (4, Funny)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127001)

> At least give a link to the Wikipedia entry on "girlfriend".

A girlfriend is a girl that wants to be just friend. Every girl a slashdotter encounters is like that, no need to hit wikipedia for that.

Re:Cows don't walk much (1)

slater86 (1154729) | more than 6 years ago | (#21126997)

maybe a hampster and a running wheel would work better???

Re:Cows don't walk much (2, Interesting)

duggi (1114563) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127099)

Farming and watering the fields with cows is pretty much a common sight in India. Event after the green revolution of the 60's many farmers still use cows(Bulls too) for farming, and it works like a charm for the Indian media when showing the stereotyped poor farmer. That apart, using them as an energy source? Have they even thought of solar powered batteries? I am no expert, but I live in India, and I can make an approximate guess as to how much energy these cows can generate(they do live in slow motion world) and surely it would be cheaper, cost efficient and it would simply make more sense. It would have helped if they posted in the same article what they were smoking.

Re:Cows don't walk much (1)

Ulven (679148) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127285)

It wouldn't have mattered if they posted what they were smoking, as you didn't read it anyway.

the group considered using solar energy but sunlight near Mumbai was not "consistently strong."

Re:Cows don't walk much (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127157)

Exactly, they must not have did any studying. I grew up on a farm until I was 10. We had 5 cow and 4 horses as well as other livestock. the only think more sedentary than a cow is a pig. Cows are NOT a good source of energy outside of burning them for the calorie content or burning the cow pies.

Horses? yes. the like to walk in circles on the exercisers.

Their best bet would be figuring out how to get these people cheap solar panels. A panel array that is the size of the OLPC that folds out to be 6 panels wide made of the flexible and damage proof types of solar panels would run it just fine in africa.

Now if there was a giant version of the gerbil roaming the african wilderness we could capture and put in a wheel.

Re:Cows don't walk much--but oxen do (1)

beadfulthings (975812) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127263)

I think what they may be referring to is the cows' better-educated cousin, the ox. People have been using oxen for just this sort of purpose for millennia. The person who described the ox as being hitched to the vertical shaft of the generator was fairly accurate, as arrangements for ox-powered grain processing are set up in just that way, with the ox or oxen harnessed to a horizontal bar that is in turn attached to the vertical bar and the millstone. The ox then simply walks around in a circle, doing the heavy moving. This was certainly the arrangement back when the Hebrew scriptures were being written, as there's a specific provision for oxen in the book of Deuteronomy: "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn." Or, "if he's working for you, you should allow him to eat." So I suspect OOPC would be a more accurate term. I also believe (but am not sure) that oxen are generally males.

Re:Cows don't walk much--but oxen do (1)

Bob-taro (996889) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127563)

Oxen are basically a type of cattle, so it's not inaccurate to say cow-powered even if they are ox powered. The ones that do work are usually castrated - they are also called "steers". Regarding how much power they generate, it's angular velocity times torque. These are pretty strong animals, so they don't have to move very fast to generate a lot of power.

I only know about this because my next door neighbor is a rodeo performer and has such animals in his yard. The steers make me nervous, because they have big horns and they just stare at me while I go back and forth in front of them riding my big, red "toro" lawnmower. Learning that they were castrated made me feel a little better, since that generally means they're not as aggressive.

Re:Cows don't walk much--but oxen do (1)

beadfulthings (975812) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127783)

I suppose the steers are what the Victorians would have referred to as "gentleman cows," while the females are engaged in having calves and providing milk. I suspect that if you had an enterprise going where providing power and eventually becoming meat were a priority for your male cattle, you wouldn't want more than one of them to be intact. Bulls have always seemed to me to be a bit...well, testy I suppose. I laughed at myself because when I RTFA I immediately thought of an ox treading out the corn by walking round and round, while harnessed to an arrangement of horizontal and vertical shafts. More creative minds here came up with the treadmills and hamster-wheels. I live in the city and so can only imagine what it would be like to have a few steers as neighbors. It doesn't surprise me at all that they would be used to generate electricity in addition to all the other useful functions they can perform.

vegan / vegetarian suitability (0, Offtopic)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 6 years ago | (#21126733)

Is this going to make the OLPC unsuitable for vegans?

Come to think of it, seeing as plastic is made from oil, which was made from animals that died a long time ago, it's already not suitable for vegetarians.

Vegan/Vegetarian Venn Diagram (1)

kilo_foxtrot84 (1016017) | more than 6 years ago | (#21126843)

it's already not suitable for vegetarians.
I thought vegans were just a subset of vegetarians, not an alternate name. My understanding has been that vegetarians are against eating meat, while vegans are against anything that harms animals. Are all vegans vegetarians? Are all vegetarians vegans?

Re:Vegan/Vegetarian Venn Diagram (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21126907)

All Vegans are Vegetarians; not all Vegetarians are Vegans. In my book Vegans are known as "Crazy Vegetarians" because of how much stricter their diets can be.

Re:Vegan/Vegetarian Venn Diagram (2, Informative)

darthflo (1095225) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127051)

To my knowledge, vegetarians don't eat meat while vegans won't eat meat, eggs, milk (yeah, I know milk is usually consumed by drinking, bug you can freeze and eat it.) and any other animal products. Therefore, not all vegetarians are vegans while all vegans are vegetarians.
Opposition against humans wearing animal fur, humans hurting animals, "anything that harms animals" as you say occurs within a similar subset of the human population, but is - as far as I know - not equal to veganism or vegetarianism.

Re:Vegan/Vegetarian Venn Diagram (1)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127315)

Close, but my understanding (supported by Wikipedia's article [wikipedia.org] ) is that a vegan doesn't use any animal related/derived products. That means vegetarian eating along with no dairy products/eggs (you're exploiting the animals) or leather/lard etc (where you're exploiting the dead animal, even if it was already dead for meat purposes). Apparently wool is also included (presumably as it causes the sheep to suffer being cold until it grows back).

The vegan society says:

[T]he word "veganism" denotes a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude -- as far as is possible and practical -- all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.


You can probably think of vegan as vegetarian extremists :D

Re:Vegan/Vegetarian Venn Diagram (1)

madcow_bg (969477) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127197)

it's already not suitable for vegetarians.
I thought vegans were just a subset of vegetarians, not an alternate name. My understanding has been that vegetarians are against eating meat, while vegans are against anything that harms animals. Are all vegans vegetarians? Are all vegetarians vegans?
The bastards!!! They are harming (and hating) the poor plants!

Re:Vegan/Vegetarian Venn Diagram (0, Redundant)

dintech (998802) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127215)

I'm a fruitarian you insensitive clod!

Re:vegan / vegetarian suitability (1)

solanum (80810) | more than 6 years ago | (#21126871)

Oil came from plant material not animals. Look around at the countryside, do you see a greater mass of animals or plants? WHich holds the most carbon?

Re:vegan / vegetarian suitability (1)

msauve (701917) | more than 6 years ago | (#21126885)

Come to think of it, seeing as plastic is made from oil, which was made from animals that died a long time ago, it's already not suitable for vegetarians.
But those animals were ultimately made from vegetables, so it should be cool.

If racism is politically incorrect, why aren't these animalia supremecists criticized for their kingdomism? Flora is life, too.

Cows? (1)

psychicsword (1036852) | more than 6 years ago | (#21126735)

This sounds like something the people of South Park would do. Obligatory Joke. 1. Make cheap affordable laptops 2. Power it with animals 3. ??? 4. Profit!

Cow Cafe (4, Funny)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 6 years ago | (#21126739)


I can see it now ... our proverbial third-world-teenager spending a sunny morning writing a slashdot journal in the shade of his cow. As he types, he notices his coffee is too strong .. no matter, a couple of squeezes of the cow and the espresso is an instant latte.

Later that evening he is having a romantic chat with his girlfriend in the next village. Things get intense and the low power warning comes on her laptop. They are cut off as a great big cowpat soils his keyboard.

(I could have gone further, but hey, this is a family show, right?)

Re:Cow Cafe (1)

kilo_foxtrot84 (1016017) | more than 6 years ago | (#21126879)

They are cut off as a great big cowpat soils his keyboard.
The OLPC's keyboard is designed to be waterproof and easily cleanable, no sh**!

Re:Cow Cafe (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#21126911)

Things get intense and the low power warning comes on her laptop.
I hope you didn't mean that like you possibly could have meant it. The cow was getting a little overexcited reading the chats and used all its energy working itself into a sexual frenzy?

disappointed (4, Insightful)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#21126761)

And here I was thinking the article was going to be about powering laptops with methane...

Re:disappointed (1)

ikegami (793066) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127385)

I was expecting something from Gateway Computers. moo.

Re:disappointed (1)

nonos (158469) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127395)

Had the same idea as you. And since CH_4 + 2O_2 gives CO_2 + 2H_2O, pluggin the OLPCs in the cows a**holes would solve the problem of lack of water in desertic countries.

Have you mooed today? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21126775)

# apt-get moo
         (__)
         (oo)
   /------\/
  / |    ||
/\---/\
    ~~   ~~
...."Have you mooed today?"...

Re:Have you mooed today? (4, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 6 years ago | (#21126913)

Remember: To err is human, to moo is bovine.

Re:Have you mooed today? (1)

stonedcat (80201) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127257)

err? err err err err err?

Please... (1)

EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) | more than 6 years ago | (#21126785)

This "article" rates at least 6 Courics.

Old hat (2)

Clueless Nick (883532) | more than 6 years ago | (#21126807)

I was recently telling my colleagues (working at a wind turbine manufacturer) that we needn't worry that our turbines are 'not running' all over the globe. We'll just use cows and pulleys to generate some power.

We will also cultivate edible plants for biodiesel. Cow dung would be used as more biofuel. Of course, we will have to deduct the methane from their belches and flatulence for calculating carbon credits.

And for the customers who cannot afford large (MW class) wind turbines, we will offer them (along with kW class turbines) some goat-powered generation as well.

I have nurtured these ideas for almost a decade. I am so glad somebody is trying to put them to practice.

Oh, and cows / bulls have traditionally been yoked to grinding stones in oil mills, so no new stuff, really. Those stupid animals keep moving in the rut all day long. Their keepers tie bells to their necks and only check on them if the ringing stops.

Please, somebody ask why the animals don't just shake their head to make the bells ring!

Re:Old hat (2, Funny)

pipatron (966506) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127165)

Why don't the animals just shake their head to make the bells ring?

Bull(ock) power is common in India (4, Informative)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 6 years ago | (#21126809)

Almost all the carts in India are drawn by bullocks (castrated bulls). Bullocks are used for irrigation, pressing oil out of seeds etc. They are trained to walk back and forth to draw water out of wells and to walk in circles to press oil. It is an eerie sight to drive on the rural roads in India late at night. The villagers cart their stuff to the nearest market towns, sell, watch a movie, get drunk and sleep in their carts. These bullocks are trained to walk home unaided. So you would come across this caravan of six or eight bullock carts, all obediently following the traffic rules (left side of the road) and plodding along. If you catch them going in opposite direction their eyes gleam eerily reflecting the headlamp. Always thought it would be a very simple thing to silently climb on to the leading cart, override the autopilot and drive the caravan to a secluded spot and rob the villagers. But somehow such crimes don't happen in rural India. (Other kinds of crimes do happen, don't want to paint too rosy a picture.)

It would be a trivial thing to gear up an oil press and drive a tiny generator to power a few laptops.

Re:Bull(ock) power is common in India (1)

caseih (160668) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127363)

In North America, we call them "oxen." The entire western settlement of the US was powered by oxen back in the latter half of the 19th century.

GNU (4, Funny)

yourexhalekiss (833943) | more than 6 years ago | (#21126813)

You know, I bet you could use a gnu just as well as a cow. Same electrical power, higher meta factor.

"You're using a gnu to power a GNU-powered device? My mind just exploded!"

Re:GNU (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21127287)

New imagine a beowulf cluster of those!

Did your head asplode?

One Cow per Child Project (OCPC) (1, Funny)

dajak (662256) | more than 6 years ago | (#21126837)

The One Cow per Child Project (OCPC) applauds this initiative. The One Cow per Child Project
(OCPC) needs your charity donation to save children from cowlessness. For only $1 a day you
can feed a cow and make a child happy! Thank you for your attention.

Re:One Cow per Child Project (OCPC) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21126893)

How about a 'buy 1 cow send another to the third world to power their OLPCs' offer?

Re:One Cow per Child Project (OCPC) (2, Interesting)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127127)

You might be joking, but Heifer International [heifer.org] isn't [heifer.org] . They give animals to low income third-world areas, and when the animals mate, they pass some of the offspring on to other poor people. My grandparents donate a Flock of Ducks [heifer.org] or Chicks [heifer.org] from every grandchild in our family at Christmas.

Finally! (0)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 6 years ago | (#21126853)

Oh, now I finally understand. It was a feature requested long ago, see:

# aptitude foo
Unknown command "foo"
(...)
                                    This aptitude does not have Super Cow Powers.

Re:Finally! (4, Funny)

deftcoder (1090261) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127041)

Try these commands, too:

aptitude moo
aptitude -v moo
aptitude -vv moo
aptitude -vvv moo
aptitude -vvvv moo
aptitude -vvvvv moo
aptitude -vvvvvv moo

Moo.

Re:Finally! (1)

ArwynH (883499) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127373)

Those and the grand-parent's commands are in reference to the following (I think):

apt-get help

(..)
This APT has Super Cow Powers.

apt-get moo

(ascii cow)
...."Have you mooed today?"...

Re:Finally! (1)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127415)

If you want it to work, use apt-get.

Being Thrifty (2, Interesting)

WillRobinson (159226) | more than 6 years ago | (#21126875)

After looking at the generator setup, this is something that would work. Generator from taxi's ready available cheep, a couple of front wheels from motorcycles also ready available. Ditto for 12 volt regulator and batteries. Driving farm animals around in a circle to run mills or other equipment for food processing has been done for centuries.

My question of this working is that I would expect the cow section to run probably 1 RPM. I would expect that the generator must turn somewhere above 400 rpm to put out a full 12 volts. (alternators usually above 700 rpm). So that is a pretty good gear ratio. Hence you see the double gear increase. Seems like it would be better to use a horse, which walks a bit faster, for several hours a day to charge the batteries instead of a cow.

Re:Being Thrifty (1)

CubicleView (910143) | more than 6 years ago | (#21126999)

1 RPM seems very low, unless they've hobbled the animal or something. I'd say a higher RPM would be more efficient as well, you'd get more work out of the animal. I'd imagine its similar in concept to my bike, I'm supposed to use a lower gear and pedal faster because its more efficient and less likely to knacker my knees. As for horses, why not just use elephants...

World according to cows.... (1)

Zorbane (1095631) | more than 6 years ago | (#21126897)

You have two cows. You hook them both to a generator so you can read /.

The design needs improvement. (3, Informative)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 6 years ago | (#21126917)

He is using a couple of bicycle wheels to increase the rpm to drive a truck alternator it looks like. Simple mechanism, easily maintained by the bicycle mechanics of an Indian village. This might find more applications too. Like charging their cell phones. A large part of rural India is still not on the national electric grid. Even the grid goes down sometimes in the rural areas. Most villages have this oil press powered by bullocks walking in a circular path (about 30 feet in diameter) dragging a yoke connected to a central pivot. They take a minute to finish a circuit. RPM=1. The gearing ratio from the picture appears to be 1: 60. (10x6). Not enough in my opinion to drive a standard truck alternator. Their efficiency peaks at around 1800 RPM. (I did a windmill for my undergrad project and I needed to gear it up to 1800 RPM to drive a truck alternator). Need to add another wheel set, not difficult to do.

Low-power laptop (4, Informative)

lobiusmoop (305328) | more than 6 years ago | (#21126929)

The fact that the XO-1 was specifically designed to run on only 2-3 watts [wikipedia.org] (using Geode at 0.8 watts and LCD-backlit / reflective display at 0.1 to 1 watts), compared to the 15-20 watts on a normal laptop or 100-200 watts on a desktop makes this sort of thing quite feasible.

Dynamo? (1)

Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) | more than 6 years ago | (#21126943)

Alternator, surely.

child labor is cheap in those countries (1)

Teriblows (1138203) | more than 6 years ago | (#21126949)

they also have too many, using one to run on a giant hamster wheel to power the others olpc would work just fine!

Re:child labor is cheap in those countries (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127217)

Actually... the western hemisphere has too many fat kids (and adults). How about we ship them over to India to get them to run the hamster wheels? This would solve two problems!

Re:child labor is cheap in those countries (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21127311)

Burning them would provide more energy.

Great news for apt-get fans... (1)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 6 years ago | (#21126961)

Supercow power is no longer just a cute little joke!

Is hightec a motivation for the local farmers? (1)

buttle2000 (1041826) | more than 6 years ago | (#21126979)

This is probably going to be quiet dificult to implement.
I mean, the local teacher is going to have to be really keen to get the kids using the laptop because it'll probably need quiet some convincing to get your average developing world farmer to even be bothered strapping his stock into this fandangled contraption set up beside the school.

If it runs on BS ... (1)

ThirdPrize (938147) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127085)

then can we use it with politicians as well?

More Cowbell! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21127093)

Thats just what we need, gimme more cowbell!

Buy a lappy get a cow free would work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21127153)

You can give away a cow with each laptop. May be you can have the cow circling around you while using your laptop. And it's portable, isn't it?

Any Get Fuzzy fans? (1)

NevarMore (248971) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127097)

I wonder what Bucky would think about this since he is bashing cows this week.

Oblig (1)

should_be_linear (779431) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127107)

I, for one, welcome our new dynamo-belt cow overlords.

pointless (1)

meeya (1152133) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127115)

it doesn't really show that the laptop is going to be powered by cows .u can't say its cow powered.(unless you have micro cows inside the battery to run the generator)else every place where there is a laptop of this kind should have a cow+gen combination.its a lot easier to use the manual sawing machine technique to generate power. all you have to do is use your feet while using the computer,

power isnt free (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127267)

so you burn more corn feeding the cows... its not like they're a perpetual motion machine.

Not really a new idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21127289)

I've always been really interested in old farm equipment. Older farm equipment tends to be run by pulleys with wide belts. After the internel combustion engine simple one piston engines were rolled around on carts and hooked up with pulleys for powering things. Later on people used a pulley that stuck off the side of their tractor. Before either of these there were sheep treadmills. Sheep are conveniently dumb, have nice strong legs, and can walk for a fairly long time. They are also reasonably hearty animals. The idea is simple, make a treadmill out of wood slats, put it at a slight incline so if the sheep stands on it the sheep will move backwards. Make the incline adjustable so it can handle some load without "stalling". Now put a "fence" around all four sides. Sheep don't like their rump touched, they walk when it get's touched. So put the sheep on the treadmill, and the sheep will automatigically walk to keep from sliding into the rear railing.

There's one at the old farm museum, I think it's in Dearfield Massachussets. In case it's not clear, this is not a joke post, I'm totally serious.

Torque (5, Interesting)

Algorithmnast (1105517) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127317)

When you consider the use of a cow vs. the use of a small animal (like a hamster) you start having to understand how we turn physical motion into electricity.

A small animal like a hamster is really cute, but they don't produce much usable electrical power. They only run long enough to get a workout, and if they get tired... they stop running. Yes, someone actually turned their hamster's wheel into a generator. [otherpower.com] The hamster could light up LEDs, but that's nowhere near powering a laptop.

A cow, on the other hand, will produce excellent torque - if you can get it to walk - but then you waste some of that power changing the low-amp high-volt power into higher-amp lower-volt power. Remember - pumping water is essentially a high-torque/low-speed process, but most electrical generation is low-torque/high-speed. (But that's because most electrical generation is for AC power, not the charging of DC batteries. For DC charging, high-torque/low-RPM might work nicely.)

However, what they're probably going for here isn't the optimal conversion of animal power to electrical power. What they're probably trying to do is transform into electricity what they perceive to be widely available power.

What about llamas? (2, Funny)

spxZA (996757) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127349)

Aren't they good enough? That'll stay true to geekdom.

Re:What about llamas? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21127763)

Or Penguins.

The End of the Energy Crunch? (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127393)

How many gigawatts could be put back into the grid if we hooked those dynamos up to some Slashdotter forearms now that all those Natalie Portman nudie pix have hit the net?

Nope - not clean enough (1)

cheros (223479) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127589)

It's not a stable form of energy, it'll give you fairly dirty spikes and sudden but short peaks. And don't even get me started about brownouts..

Sorry, couldn't help myself, which is an unintentional pun in itself :-).

Re:The End of the Energy Crunch? (1)

kilo_foxtrot84 (1016017) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127867)

1.21

Bio Enegery (1)

oglueck (235089) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127569)

From an energetic point of view it's certainly more efficient to directly use the cow's food as fuel for a generator. Agreed, you can't milk it and heat with its poo...

overkill? (1)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127585)

This seems extremely odd. A cow powered dynamo must be capable of a few hundred watts, the olpc only needs 5-10watts to charge at fast rate. A $10-15 solar panel that's rated for ~10W would be cheaper, easier and require less maintenance.

why a treadmill? (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127605)

Why tie the cow to a treadmill/spinning in a circle?

adapt kinetic watch tech http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automatic_quartz [wikipedia.org] to charge up a battery pack.. how impossible would it be to have battery packs you clip onto and off of the cows legs... let it walk where it will and at feeding time, swap batteries...

plug in? (1)

m2943 (1140797) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127623)

Where do you plug it in? Ewww, never mind!

Excuse my ignorance... (1)

photon317 (208409) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127755)

But what exactly is the aim of OLPC? I know the simple aim is to get governments and NGOs to buy lots of these rugged little devices and pass them out to children. But what's the intended effect on the children? Will most of these countries where they're deploying (where apparently cow-power might be necessary to even turn the thing on) have internet access? Without that, is it basically a compact calculator/dictionary/encyclopedia (I'm assuming they're loading some practical software like that)? Because this is a lot more work than simply getting them calculators, dictionaries, and encyclopedias.

If most of the users can get reliable internet access out of it, I'm all for it. The internet is insanely empowering for a group of people like that. I just wouldn't suspect that they're going to have much access. Without internet access, I don't see much use for a computer in a society that isn't already first-world and at least at a certain level of economic development.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>