This is an ad-hoc project description, started in 2019/12/01 – The next weeks will be used to illustrate the initial idea with pictures, sketches, and collected examples.
Power is a critical pre-condition for our digital equipment. Power consumption is related to subjects like global heating, pollution and waste of resources. It is as well related to monitoring, profiling and tracking of our computer’s activities. Power profiles let attackers reconstruct software algorithms. Power distributors might guess which television program you are watching. Digitally controlled power measurement is already set up in the fuse boxes of households and will be used one day.
Once the battery is weak, we are still asking for a wall plug. In contrast to the demands of modern communication equipment, the infra-structure that is hidden behind that plug is by factors oversized. Power plants’ generators produce strong three phase alternative currents, landline transmission wires are pushed into the kV range to reduce losses, and households’ wall plugs still deliver alternative currents of 230 Volts. But all what is finally used for our laptops is just 20V of direct current – a power source that can be generated by one’s own, disconnected from the power red, if some properly set up, well equilibrated, muscle driven equipment would be available...
- Let’s try to create a muscle driven laptop power generator
- Let’s use the inertia of a massive wheel for temporary power storage
- Let’s combine mechanics with free-design electronics to make it competent
- Let’s use free-design microcontrollers (Parallax P8X32A, SiFive FE310)
- Independent power supply forms a secure basement for computing equipment
- Voltages below 50V will ease CE certification of the final product
- Let’s use GNU Guix and nothing but Free Software for the development
- Let’s use generic tools to build the hardware
- Let’s make it a true free-design machine, highly hackable and adaptable
- Let’s make the machine usable in a convenient way...
The outcome will be independency from overscaled power reds on the one hand, and secure disconnection from incognito power monitoring on the other.
Pool Of Examples
Let’s collect examples to get ideas:
- historical sewing machine: driven by pedal
- historical coffee grinder: driven by hand
- modern circular saw: rotation frequency is monitored via LED semaphor
- standard bicycle dynamo (3W, 6V)
- modern centric dynamo (less friction losses)
- LED pocket lamp with crank
- free-wheeling hub of a bike
- bike stand for wellness and fitness
- can water be used to equip the wheel with weight?
- pedal driven scooter (non-electric)
Preliminary Set Of Milestones
- Create a first 3D CAD Model of the imagined machine
- Set up a dedicated git repository
- Set up a temporary workbench (drill, lathe, welder)
- Get experience with the inertia of a first wheel-and-dynamo setup
Tools and Materials
Estimated to give a first idea, see this list of materials and tools:
- Development: Laptop with GNU/Linux-libre OS and/or GNU Guix
- Software: OpenSCAD, gEDA/gschem, ...
- Tools: table drilling machine, lathe, welder, soldering iron, ...
- Materials: wood, steel, concrete, screws, industry bearings, ...
- Electronics: Free-design Controllers like Parallax P8X32A or SiFive FE310