OLPC Says Hand Crank Power Now Possible with XO-1.75 Laptop


Freeplay hand crank power generator at CES

Back when One Laptop Per Child designed its first XO-1 laptop, which ran off an AMD Geode, Nicholas Negroponte famously said it could be powered by hand crank on the side of the laptop. Well that was bunk, as Kofi Anna famously proved by popping off the handle. Next Negroponte said they would use a string generator. We disproved the physics of the yo-yo generator idea quite quickly.

Then came the homebrew power options, like the cow dynamo and the bicycle foot pedal. OLPC didn't have a good human-power model until Freeplay developed its Clap Charger. But even the Clamp Charger was too weak to recharge the XO's LiFePO4 lithium iron phosphate battery when the computer was pulling 5 watts.

Well now One Laptop Per Child CTO Edward J. McNierney claims that they've achieved a 1:10 power ratio - 1 minute of charging is 10 minute of usage - with the new 2 watt Armada 610 ARM system on a chip. Or only 2 hours of hand cranking to recharge the laptop completely.

Congrats to OLPC for a 2 watt laptop - that truly is an achievement, but I'm not sure I would want to hand crank for two hours to use an XO. I think I'd look like a fiddler crab after a few day's usage.


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