Community Sponsor[edit | edit source]
- Queen's Applied Sustainability Research Group
- TA: Nabeil Alazzam
- Faculty Consultant: Dr. Pearce, MME
Background[edit | edit source]
The Queen's Applied Sustainability Research Group has partnered with several organizations focused on providing open source appropriate technology to developing communities. One method of technology transfer is using information built into the XO. The XO, previously known as the $100 Laptop (or OLPC), is an inexpensive subnotebook computer intended to be distributed to children in developing countries around the world, to provide them with access to knowledge, and opportunities to "explore, experiment and express themselves" (constructionist learning). The laptop is developed by the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization and manufactured by Quanta Computer.
The subnotebooks are designed for sale to government-education systems which then give each primary school child their own laptop. These rugged, low-power computers use flash memory instead of a hard drive, and come with a distribution of Linux derived from Red Hat's Fedora as their pre-installed operating system, which comes stored in both a copy on the flash memory and in the on-board ROM backup. Mobile ad-hoc networking via 802.11s WiFi mesh networking protocol is used to allow many machines to share Internet access as long as at least one of them can see and connect to a router or other access point.
Purpose[edit | edit source]
Although the XO is a useful educational tool, in many regions of the world it remains impractical because of lack of access to electricity. Although, OLPC never purposefully misled people by stating officially that a solar alternative was available for the XO, there simply remains a lack of this option. Several technical developers have designed systems that could power the XO with solar photovoltaic cells (PV cells convert sunlight directly into electricity) and some rudimentary plans exist (see http://wiki.laptop.org/go/XO_Solar). However, they are either to opaque to copy, too expensive, or not technically practical. This project will entail designing and building an inexpensive and technically practical (charging time must be convenient, lifetime reasonable) method to power an XO with sunlight. Students will have access to an XO to try prototyping and solar photovoltaic modeling software provided by the Queen's Applied Sustainability Research Group. Students will develop their designs in an open source appropriate technology platform – so that if successful their designs will be used throughout the world.
Students interested in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and sustainable development will find this project both challenging and exciting.