Moss FM is the world’s first totally plant powered radio. Developed by Swiss engineer Fabienne Felder in collaboration with Cambridge University scientists Dr. Paolo Bombelli and Ross Dennis, Moss FM works using an aesthetically pleasing lineup of moss plants as a “Photo Microbial Fuel Cell.” The fuel cell acts as a sort of biological solar panel and harvests electrons produced from the photosynthesis of the moss and converts them into electricity, even when no light is available.
In order to grow, plants photosynthesise – they use solar energy to convert water and carbon dioxide into sugars. The photosynthetic process, in simple terms, consists of two stages. In the first, light-dependent stage, plants split water – oxygen is released and electrons and protons are produced. In the second, light-independent stage, plants then ingest carbon dioxide to convert those electrons and protons into sugars.
Now, here’s why mosses operate as potentially better photo-active components in Photo-MFCs than other plants: Mosses are as efficient in the first stage of photosynthesis as other plants. But they grow slowly, which means they are less efficient at converting the produced electrons and protons into sugars in the second stage – leaving us with bigger potential to collect and transform electrons into electrical current.
The researchers acknowledge that this type of technology is still in its infancy and the total amount of harvested energy is limited, but hope to develop it further to increase its efficiency for larger scale use. As Felder notes, the impact of this sustainable energy source has some significant potential.
If 25% of Londoners (ca. 2.7 million people) charged their mobile phone on average for 2 hours every other day with moss, we would save enough electricity to power a small town: 42.5 million kWh, amounting to a saving of £6.81 Million and 39632 Tons of CO2* a year. These are interesting values, given the huge amounts of electricity that are wasted during generation and transmission, for example. And even more interesting, if we consider that at the moment we capture only about 0.1% of the electrons the mosses potentially produce.
Researchers have introduced a new nanogenerator capable of collecting energy from biological contractile movements, such as a beating heart, for use in powering medical implants like pacemakers. From Nanotechweb:
Implanted biomedical devices, such as heart-rate monitors, pacemakers, defibrillators and neural stimulators, rely on some form of battery power to work. And although these batteries have become smaller and much more efficient in recent years, they still only last a few years and need to be regularly replaced – something that requires the patient to undergo surgery. Not exactly an ideal situation.
The best solution to this problem would be to do away with batteries altogether. A team led by John Rogers has now gone some way in addressing this issue with its new device based on lead zirconate titanate (PZT) nanoribbons. PZT has a high piezoelectric voltage and dielectric constant – ideal properties for converting mechanical energy into electrical energy. The material is also highly bendable and mechanically strong.
The device works by harnessing the natural contractile and relaxation motions of the heart, lung and diaphragm, and converting these into electricity. And the good news is that the generator produces more than enough electricity to power implants such as pacemakers, for example. As well as being deployed inside the body, the same technology might even be used to make wearable health monitors if placed directly on the skin, says Rogers.
PRI has an inspirational story out of Nigeria about a doctor who took whatever materials he had available to him and made a hospital for his town. His work has been lauded all over the world and his hospital is known for reliable competent care.
In the small farming town of Eruwa, Nigeria, goats graze outside the entrance of a low concrete building. Inside, mothers recline with their babies on worn, well-used beds.
This is Eruwa’s main hospital. It isn’t fancy, and it isn’t meant to be.
“For me, it doesn’t matter what it looks like, as long as it’s functional,” says Dr. Oluyombo Awojobi. He founded the hospital 27 years ago on that philosophy.
What keeps his hospital running — and growing — are cheap, simple devices that he designs and makes himself.
“I’m using materials readily available in my backyard,” he says.
His blood centrifuge, which separates plasma from red blood cells, is made from used bike parts. You pedal with your hands and it spins the blood sample as fast as the propeller on a small airplane.
The suction pump that the clinic uses to remove blood and fluids during surgery is made from the valve on a bicycle inner tube and is also powered by pedaling.
The hospital’s boiler is made from an old propane tank. For fuel, it uses corn cobs collected from nearby farms. The boiler produces steam for the autoclave, which sterilizes the surgical equipment.
Because most of Awojobi’s devices don’t need electricity, the hospital doesn’t have to rely on the town’s unpredictable electrical grid or spend a lot of money running diesel generators when power is down.
That keeps care at the hospital affordable to the farmers who make up its clientele. Delivering a baby costs $30.
And Dr. Awojobi says there is another advantage to designing his own equipment. “Because I make it, I will know how to mend it,” he explains. “I don’t have to depend upon anybody else.”
As for his inventions, Awojobi wants to make them as widely available as possible. He does not seek patents. Instead, he publishes his designs in international medical journals.
Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!
Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!
The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! If you’ve made a cool project that combines 3D printing and electronics, be sure to let us know, and we’ll feature it here!
Go green with these great solar products available from Adafruit and around the web!
Available at Adafruit
Flexible 6V 1W Solar Panel – This flexible easy-to-use solar panel is a great addition to your next solar powered project. This solar cell provides approximately 6V DC in direct sunlight at up to 1W (approximately 160 mA). Multiple units can be chained serial and/or parallel to increase voltage and current. (Read more)
Huge 6V 5.6W Solar panel – These panels come to us from Voltaic Systems, makers of fine solar-powered bags and packs. These are waterproof, scratch resistant, and UV resistant. They use a high efficiency monocrystalline cell. They output 6V at 930 mA via 3.5mm x 1.3mm DC jack connector – a nice upgrade to the 2W or 3W panels we have been carrying. The substrate is an aluminum / plastic composite, specifically designed to be strong and lightweight. They can easily stand up to typical outdoor use including being dropped and leaned on. They’re very high quality and suggested for projects that will be exposed to the outdoors. These now come with 4 plastic mounting screws which makes it easy to attach the panel, even to fabric! (Read more)
Volta Racers Solar Motorcar Kit – Never go looking for some AAA’s again, this solar racer car requires no batteries! The Volta Racer Solar Motorcar Kit contains all of the necessary parts required to successfully assemble your car – including the worlds first flexible polycrystalline silicon solar cell used for powering toys. (Read more)
USB / DC / Solar Lithium Ion/Polymer charger – v2 – NOTE: This product is only designed for use with solar panels sold at the Adafruit store. We cannot guarantee this will work with solar panels purchased elsewhere. Please purchase this kit and panels from Adafruit to ensure optimized functionality!
Make your projects to go green this summer with our specialized USB/Solar Lithium Ion Polymer Battery charger! This charger is a very unique design, perfect for outdoor projects, or DIY iPod chargers. We’ve spent over a year testing and tinkering with this charger to come up with a plug and play solution to charging batteries with the sun and we’re really pleased with what we ended up with. (Read more)
Snap Circuits® Green – Elenco SCG-125 – Learn about energy sources and how to “think green”. Build over 125 projects and learning about environmentally friendly energy and how electricity works. Includes full-colored manual with over 100 pages and separate educational manual. Features-Hand Crank-Solar Cell-FM Radio-Energy Compartment-Rechargeable Battery-Windmill-Clock and Analog Meter. Compatible with the Snap Circuits family of electronic learning kits. (Read more)
Switch Solar Bag – 6 Watts of rugged solar embedded into a streamlined case creates the perfect travel or go bag. Power and protect your iPad in the Switch’s padded tablet sleeve. The roomy back pocket is the perfect place to stash a water bottle, change of clothes, your DSLR or whatever you need for a day of adventure. Upgrade to the V39 battery for even more power storage. (Read more)
Through the solar panel the internal battery will be automatically recharged by sun light. You can use the USB output so you can recharge your cell phone in an emergency, you have always enough energy available to call someone. The bright flashlight ensures that you never are in the dark without light afterwards. And the alarm to sound, for example,if you are in need, the loud signal is clearly audible for miles around. (Read more)
The eco friendly MP4 player will never have to be plugged in to get any power, and with the ability to recharge 4.5V, 5V, 6.3V, 9V devices, you will be getting a mobile power station wherever you go.
Other excellent features include its massive 3.5 Inch TFT Screen with a 1.6 million colors, a NES, GB and GBC emulator, a E-Book that will read aloud for you, and even a built in LED flashlight.
A gadget lover’s dream, this MP4 player is perfect for taking anywhere you want to go for as long as you want to be there, and for a price that is absolutely unbelievable when you see all that it can do. (Read more)
Solar KudoCase iPad 2 & 3 Black (30-pin) – This KudoCase for iPad 2 has all the features the solar case by Kudo has to offer! Indoor/Outdoor Solar Power giving you up to an average 10 days of use. An extended battery, USB Power-out charger, HDMI, Whistle Locator, Multiple Stands and the automatic Sleep/Wake feature built in. This durable case is one you can be proud of with a housing made from biodegradable grain and the worlds only indoor operating organic solar panel. (Read more)
9′ Solar Powered Patio & Beach Umbrella with USB Ports – The power of the sun, while you sit in the shade. “Our solar powered umbrella brings relaxation to a whole new level. Now you can lounge under the cover of the UV resistant fabric with your cell phone, tablet, digital camera or other USB charging device—and never worry about battery life. Running low? No need to get up. Just plug your device into one of the USB ports on the umbrella pole and get an instant charge.” (Read more)
Here are your 2013 shipping deadlines for ordering from Adafruit. Please review our shipping section if you have specific questions on how and where we ship worldwide for this holiday season.
UPS ground (USA orders): Place orders by Friday 11am ET – December 13, 2013 – There is no guarantee that UPS Ground packages will arrive in time for Christmas.
UPS 3-day (USA orders): Place orders by Thursday 11am ET – December 19, 2013 – Arrive on 12/24/2013.
UPS 2-day (USA orders): Place orders by Friday 11am ET – December 20, 2013 – Arrive on 12/24/2013.
UPS overnight (USA orders): Place orders by Monday 11am ET – December 23, 2013 – Arrive on 12/24/2013.
UPS International: Place orders by Monday 11am ET – December 16, 2013. Can take up extra time due to worldwide delays and customs. Should arrive by 12/24/2013 or sooner.
Please note: We do not offer Saturday service for UPS.
Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013, Christmas, no UPS pickup or delivery service.
Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014, New Year’s Day, no UPS pickup or delivery service.
United States Postal Service, First Class and Priority (USA orders): Place orders by Friday – December 13, 2013 – Arrive by 12/24/2013 or sooner.
USPS First class mail international (International orders): Place orders by Friday – November 22, 2013. Can take up to 30 days ore more with worldwide delays and customs. Should arrive by 12/24/2013 or sooner, but not a trackable service cannot be guaranteed to arrive by 12/24/13.
USPS Express mail international(International orders): Place orders by Friday – December 13, 2013. Can take up to 15 days or more with worldwide delays and customs. Should arrive by 12/24/2013 or sooner.
Mini 3-wire Volt Meter (0 – 99.9VDC) – Put a voltage meter anywhere with this very handy display. These are often used by RC hobbyists for keeping track of batteries but we thought it would be great on a breadboard or enclosure. This is the 3-wire version of the volt meter, two wires are used to power it and the third wire is used for measurement. We also have a 2-wire version that measure it’s own power supply. Simply connect the red wire to a positive power supply from 4.5 to 28VDC, and brown or black to the common ground to power the display. Finally, connect the orange or white wire to whatever you want to measure the voltage of. The display has a microcontroller that will read the voltage, compare it to a stable reference and display the voltage with 0.1V precision on a 3-digit 7-segment display. it can read from 0V to 99.9VDC so it will be good for any electronic project! The meter draws 3-4mA to power the microcontroller and display. This particular LED display is a nice vivid green, which we found very readable. Mounting tabs make this module easy to attach to any box or plate.
BACK IN STOCK – Adafruit USB Power Gauge Mini-Kit – This little USB port go-between is like a speed gauge for your USB devices. Instead of hauling out a multimeter and splicing cables, plug this in between for a quick reading on how much current is being drawn from the port. Great for seeing the charge rate of your phone or tablet, checking your battery chargers, or other USB powered projects.
There are a few USB power meters out there, The Practical Meter and the USB Spypow. We wanted something that was made for makers: Reprogrammable micro-controller, analog output, TTL serial output for debugging / datalogging and of course, open source.
Data is passed through transparently from end to end, so you can use it with any USB device at any speed. The power line has a 0.1 ohm current sense resistor an an INA169 high-side current sensor that is tracked by a little ATtiny85 chip. The microcontroller is programmed to read the current draw as well as the bus voltage and light up the strip of LEDs on the side.
The blue LEDs will light up, one for each Watt of power draw (which is ~200mA at 5V nominal), with a couple levels of PWM dimming for increasing current. You can measure up to 1A of current draw – most USB ports are rated for 500mA.
The green LED is helpful to tell if you have too much droop on your power line. It stays lit as long as the voltage is higher than 4.5V, most devices won’t charge effectively once it goes below that so if the green LED goes out, you know you should check your port, shorten the USB cable, or reduce the current draw.
As an awesome extra, we also print out the voltage, current and wattage data as readable text on the TX pin at 9600 baud. Connect an FTDI friend, USB console cable, microcontroller, XBee, whatever you want that can read 9600 baud TTL serial data for datalogging, plotting or display.
Comes as a mini kit with an assembled & tested PCB plus a separate USB jack and plug as shown above. Before use, solder the jack and plug. It’ll only take you a few minutes and can be done with any soldering iron. Or, advanced users can splice it between a USB extension cable.
Please note: this is a handy gadget but it isn’t a multimeter! We do some basic calibration during test, but the serial output readings are not precise and should be used as a basic guide rather than lab-grade data plots. Assume a variance of at least 0.1V and 50mA due to noise, thermal changes, etc.
NEW PRODUCT – K-TOR Pedal Powered Generator – The Power Box – The Power Box is a pedal powered generator that generates electricity as you pedal. In addition to the two-bladed socket Americans find in their homes, The Power Box features a universal outlet that adapts to EU, UK, and other world outlet styles. Global citizens and world travelers can leave adapters and converters at home. The Power Box will work with almost any rechargeable device. Just plug your charger in the socket, pedal as if you were on a bicycle, and it will charge your device. The Power Box can power devices up to 20W.
Powerful and Versatile Twice as powerful as The Pocket Socket, The Power Box has 20 watts of generation capacity at 120 volts. This is enough to charge low power netbooks, tablets, smartphones, video devices, portable gaming devices, all sorts of stuff!
The Power Box can charge multiple devices at one time, for example four smart phones or two tablets. When used with an accessory part, the Power Box can charge a 12 volt battery. A 12 volt battery can be used to store energy and can power certain appliances that the Power Box cannot power directly.
Hands-Free Designed for continuous operation from a seated position, our pedal power generator enables you to generate electricity on a sustained basis. While this generator can be used with either hands or feet, when pedaling with your feet your hands remain free to do other things.
Light Weight and Portable The Power Box (folded) is 12 in by 5.5 in by 3.5 in. It weighs 14 lbs, 11 oz. Power output is 120 volts DC, 20 watts.
It’s convenient that the 5.5/2.1 mm center-positive DC connector is nearly ubiquitous among DIY electronics. On the other hand, the “whoops I grabbed the wrong supply and killed my LED strip” tragedy is almost a weekly occurrence in the forums. I’ve done it too. They all look the same.
You don’t need a fancy labeler for this (but they’re fun!). Tape will do. Or bread clips. Whatever, avoid the Magic Blue Smoke Monster and label all your power supplies one way or another.
When Kelenföld Power Plant [Hungary] started generating electricity in 1914, it was one of the most advanced plants of its day—though it was modernized and expanded several times since then to serve the changing energy demands of the surrounding districts.
The outdated section of the power plant, which is showcased below, isn’t completely abandoned since it’s in private ownership these days. But the two main attractions—the legendary control room and the old transformer house—are closed to the public, despite the fact that both are considered masterpieces of early 20th century industrial design. You can only visit them during one of the rare guided tours organized by enthusiastic non-governmental organizations, only a few times a year.
This model is 10 Watts and has 6 selectable outputs ranging from 3V to 12VDC and up to 1.5A output. It has a 2-prong plug, but takes 110VAC to 240VAC so you can use it anywhere with a simple plug adapter.
It comes with a range of tips, such as 2.5mm mono, 3.5mm mono, 5.5mm/2.5mm, 2.5mm/2.1mm, 4mm, etc. You could use this with just about any device or project, it’s very handy!
Multi changeable plug DC-cord.
Universal AC input 100V to 240V, 50Hz/60Hz
Universal AC input plug available (BSI, USA, Europe, Aust)
6 selectable outputs: 3V-12V MAX. 1500mA.
Over load, over current, over heat protection.
International approval CE EN60950, UL1950, CSA22.2 No.950.
EMC approval EN55022.
Extra low consumption during standby (about 8% of linear adapter).
Weight: 86g approximately.
Small size: 67x29x74mm.
Cable length: 1.54m / 60 3/4″
Below is the voltage current table and avoid higher loads!
As a result of visiting Hamfest, I ended up with a laptop to take apart – a fairly new Toshiba Satellite C675D with a broken screen. It’s not a Hamfest if you don’t bring home something to take apart of course! Today we’ll be testing the battery it came with to see if it’s salvageable.The date code says it was made in 11/2011.
Neat! Never thought of using a SMBus reader to salvage an old laptop battery. You could probably use an Arduino or Bus pirate instead of the TI eval adapter.
NEW PRODUCT – 2.1mm DC Barrel Jack to Alligator Clips – Turn a wall adapter into a mini power supply with this incredibly useful adapter. A high quality molded 2.1mm DC barrel jack is brought out to red (center positive) & black (ring negative) alligator clips. Works with just about every wall adapter, good for about 2 or 3 Amps of current and up to 24VDC.
NEW PRODUCT – 2.1mm DC Barrel Plug to Alligator Clips – Turn any battery pack into a power supply with this incredibly useful adapter. A high quality molded 2.1mm DC barrel plug is brought out to red (center positive) & black (ring negative) alligator clips. 2.1mm is a near-standard for electronics, so with this adapter you can easy clip and connect packs and wires to a power jack. Good for about 2 or 3 Amps of current and up to 24VDC.
HOUSTON – (May 7, 2013) – A group of Rice University mechanical engineering students are getting a charge out of having the coolest new shoes on campus.
As their capstone project that is required for graduation, four seniors created a way to extract and store energy with every step. Their PediPower shoes turn motion into juice for portable electronics and, perhaps someday, for life-preserving medical devices.
In celebration of New York’s Bike to Work Day, the team at Voltaic Systems mounted a 60 watt solar panel on the back of an old-school road bike and rode the streets of the city, distributing a free charge-up. It’s good for everything from phones, tablets to laptops, as pictured. Via voltaicsystems.