Image yourself as 21-year-old Australian Joel Stanley, who not only snagged a coveted Google Summer of Code (GSoC) spot, he is spending his internship at One Laptop Per Child's Cambridge headquarters developing "gang charger" power systems for the XO-1 laptop.
While he's lucky to be designing one of the OLPC Products, the gang charger units will recharge multiple XO laptops at one time via grid, solar, or other power source, I don't think that's the coolest part of his day.
The oven is large enough to house eight fully opened XOs and allows us to examine the behavior of the laptops under temperatures ranging from a warm 40°C, up to a toasty 60°C and above.Yet you might think that Joel has an even cooler job in XO computer maintenance. There he does bug fixes on damaged laptops and probably helps with the "free drop" testing, passing out abuse-my-XO awards when:
Some preliminary tests were conducted, examining the operation of the battery charging systems under the extreme heat that may be encountered by, say, a laptop sitting in full sunlight.
One motivation for this testing is that the NiMH batteries that are used in some of the XOs lose the ability to be charged above 55°C. (The newer LiFePO4 technology allows charging above these temperatures, for when the need arises.)
We are pleased to report the XOs ran flawlessly in the extreme heat, even when the oven's unpredictable thermostat inadvertently allowed the temperature to reach 68°C.
The units are dropped on all corners, all side bumpers, and front and back. Initially, we had dropped onto plywood, but this spring we made the test tougher: we have been dropping on a hard steel plate, with and without a carpet.OLPC News co-founder Jon Camfield gives a further perspective on the indestructibility of the OLPC XO Btest-4:
B4 units pass a 150cm 10-point drops onto a carpet-covered steel plate; a 105cm simulated slanted-desk "slide" onto a steel plate; and a 80cm 10-point free drop onto a steel plate. The laptop, when dropped on the antennas, withstands a 150cm drop.
To put these data into perspective: a standard laptop only passes a 45cm 10-point drop on plywood (a much softer material than steel).
My desk measures about 70cm to the floor, so I could throw my laptop from my desk and it could land on a steel plate and be OK. Not having a hard drive I imagine makes that a lot easier, but LCDs are pretty fragile beasts, so that's mightily impressive.Add to that, in this presentation of a BTest-3 to OLPC Peru participants and press, Walter Bender explains that the bottom half of the XO computer can be dumped in water. The keyboard is waterproof, so a child working outdoors in the rain is okay.So as Jon says, though we complain about the lack of implementation planning and pilot projects quite often here at OLPCNews, it is important to step back and look at what the OLPC Foundation has gotten not just right, but impressively spot-on with the help of talented staff and volunteers like Joel Stanley: the XO technology, and specifically today, the laptop's ability to withstand drops and heat beyond the capacity of mortal computers.
I should see about getting a test unit sent to a former boss of mine who one backed over a laptop in his SUV (laptop functionally survived, sans LCD) for some additional stress testing....