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Kimono Lantern and Humanitarian Open Source Hardware | Print |
Written by Akiba   
Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Things have been crazy here in Tokyo for the past few days. After the Tohoku earthquake, there's been constant streaming of horrible visual images of the disaster on Japanese news. Along with that, there have been warnings of aftershocks up to a magnitude of 8.0, potential nuclear disasters, rolling blackouts, lack of transportation, and dwindling supplies in local supermarkets and grocery stores. It's a stressful situation in Tokyo which has over 25M people and life is anything but normal. It's a chore just to get to work and many feel powerless to do anything but watch the unfolding nuclear situation and hope that it can get contained before a disaster happens. In writing this post, it gives me an excuse to tear myself away from the fear mongering news streams which I'm constantly glued to.

In the hackerspace, we'll be holding our meeting tonight and will probably start hammering out plans to figure out how and where we can help. There are many things that are needed right now in the quake stricken area. There is no power, internet access is extremely limited, food and clean water are dwindling, and transportation to the area is limited. What we decide on will probably depend on what's needed and available at the time.

In any case, one immediate thing that can be done is to provide a source of light to people. With no electricity and limited supplies, flashlights and batteries are a luxury. In the hackerspace, we designed the Kimono Lantern as a solar rechargeable lantern to decorate gardens and patios with. However it has a much bigger use right now as the quake victims have no power and many are spending their nights in the dark. Also, parts of Tokyo will be suffering from blackouts until the power grid can get back to normal levels. With a major nuclear generating plant offline, this could take from weeks to months. 

So although it's outside the original sphere of intended use, it looks like the simple Kimono lanterns we designed can play a small role in providing comfort and at least give a small feeling of safety to people that are going through this horrific experience. I'm currently kitting up as many lanterns as I have parts for to bring to the hackerspace tonight. I'm also donating the complete design to the open source hardware community. I've updated the files to v1.1 and the package includes the BOM and full gerbers. Its a turnkey package that can be taken and sent directly to the PCB fab. The design has already been proven working. I'm also going to email PCB Cart to see if its possible to share my mask files for the lantern with other accounts. That way, people can just reference the mask files and order PCBs directly without having to pay for the PCB mask charge. 

The lantern consumes ~18 mA at 1.2V which is the rechargeable battery voltage. The solar cell that I'm using is a 2V, 80 mA solar cell from Futurlec (SZGDDIA58). On a good day's charge, I think its possible to assume about the equivalent of 3-4 hours of good sunlight which should yield at least 200 mA-hours, taking into account inefficiencies, leakage, bad positioning, etc. This should theoretically power the lantern for over 10 hours, although actual time will depend on how long you can suck on the batteries. The solar cell is also used as a light detection sensor so that the lantern would automatically be shut off in the day time. There is also an on/off switch that can force a shutoff and in that case, the circuit just serves as a battery solar trickle charger. 

I want to donate this design to the community because I think that it would be more effective than just donating money. It's a simple design, but its available now and it's ready to go. Some ways that this design can be used to help the quake survivors are:

  • Kit up the design and sell them in your shop. Some or all of the proceeds can go to the relief effort of your choice. We also need donations at Tokyo Hackerspace for volunteer work and classes.
  • Build a bunch of lanterns and donate them to the quake victims. You can send them to Tokyo Hackerspace and we can make sure they go to relief workers that can distribute them.
  • Donate PCBs or parts to Tokyo Hackerspace. We can have volunteers assemble the designs and have them distributed. The most important parts are the solar cells, NiMH batteries, and the PCBs which are the most expensive.
  • Improve on the design. Saving power, making it more efficient, lowering the cost, tailoring it to specific needs unique to a situation, etc are all welcome.

That is by no means an exhaustive list and there are probably many other ways the design can be used to help out. I'm also hoping that by releasing this design, it can be used for other humanitarian purposes, as well as for people to personally enjoy.

Thanks for listening to me ramble and I hope you enjoy the design. Thanks to Tokyo Hackerspace and iNMOJO for collaborating on this design with me.

The files and assembly tutorials can be found on the Tokyo Hackerspace website below:

Link

Akiba

Updated 2011-03-15: If you want to donate money for lanterns for the quake victims, you can donate via paypal using the following email: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it . Please leave a note saying that they are for lanterns. All donations will be used to purchase PCBs, solar cells, and NiMH batteries. The rest of the parts will be supplied by the hackerspace. Thanks for all the support and inquiries!
Updated 2011-03-16: Thank you for all the donations. Another 100 solar cells were purchased for the Kimono Lanterns. Looks like things will be busy at Tokyo Hackerspace. THANK YOU!
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written by Steve, March 15, 2011
Hi Akiba,

I think your project is a great idea. The only thing I can do is offer some
cash to allow you to buy parts locally. Is there any way you or the Tokyo
Hackerspace can set up a Paypal account so this can be done easily?

Cheers, Steve.

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written by Akiba, March 15, 2011
Hi Steve.
Thanks for asking. Anything would help and the donations would go towards buying solar cells and PCBs for the quake victims. If you'd like to donate, you can do so via paypal using the following address: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

We'll keep everyone updated as well on this project as well as the other ones that we'll be taking up soon smilies/smiley.gif
Akiba
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written by alon, March 16, 2011
good luck with this project, can't really find words but I'm hoping you will come through this. Have you considered possible shortage of batteries? I don't know what the alternative would be though - potatos?

Alon
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Kimono Lantern questions
written by rgm, March 16, 2011
* You mention that the LED automatically fades between colors, but the pictures and schematic for Kimono v1.1 don't seem to include a tri-color LED or parts for a fading signal (PWM or analog).

* Do you worry about applying 80mA / 2.0V (PV output) directly to the NiMH battery to recharge it? Is there danger of overcharge at these low currents? Doesn't PV output swing wildly due to clouds, and does it matter?
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written by Akiba, March 16, 2011
The LED in the original kit uses the OSTB5131A chip from Optosupply which automatically scrolls through colors:
http://www.freaklabsstore.com/pub/OSTB5131A.pdf

However the current design just specifies any 5mm LED. We're using 15,000 mcd white LEDs for the lanterns we're building right now with a 330 ohm limit resistor. The forward voltage of the white LEDs is about 3V so the current through them is very limited. This is good for power savings and even at low current, the LED is still visible at night.
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Reflector
written by DvD, March 17, 2011
Toss a piece of white paper in there on the bottom or sides and get some of that reflected light back. Or twist it in to a small cone. Good on ya. Keep it up.
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written by sblaszak, March 17, 2011
Nice project. It looks, from the pictures, like you are using glass jars. Would it not be cheaper and more durable to use some sort of clear plastic jar instead? Since this is intended for an emergency situation, rather than the original decorative use of the project, aesthetics shouldn't matter as much as cost and how easily broken it is.
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written by Animeimp, March 17, 2011
Do you have a location that is already producing the PCB's that we could order the PCB's also?
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Thank you for your work!
written by antimatter, March 17, 2011
Releasing these plans is greatly appreciated, I will be producing some of these here. I will be using modeled plastic instead of glass however. If anyone else would like some plastic rather than glass bases, please let me know.

- Antimatter
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Old transparent
written by teeh, March 17, 2011
Can adapt some of this ?


http://www.portalpaisagismo.com.br/dicas/16/Como_fazer_luminária_solar.html
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Very noble
written by wosser, March 17, 2011
I like projects like this are donated to good causes. It restores a tiny bit of my lost faith in humanity smilies/smiley.gif

I have a suggestion about diffusing the light output - how about wrapping a strip of "magic tape" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_Tape) once horizontally around the middle of the jar - this would allow a soft glow that would provide a more diffuse lighting effect a short distance from the device - this would be beneficial for reading.

Other types of tape might also work (perhaps even post-it notes?). Masking tape is likely to be commonplace in places where aid/recovery teams are active, such as the Japanese disaster sites.

Just a random idea I just had, not sure if it's really viable or not.

Good luck with this, and I hope it does help the many thousands of people affected by the catastrophe.

Good for you!
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written by Akiba, March 17, 2011
Thanks for the suggestion. I like the tape idea because it can provide a unique identifier. Perhaps maybe even using masking tape to make simple symbols that can be lit up at night would be useful. Also, plastic jars would actually be better. We're going to start talking to people in the area to see what's locally available.

I also contacted PCB Cart to see if they allow shared PCB masks. Unfortunately, they said it's not possible. One way to get around this will be to sell PCBs at cost through the hackerspace website. Unfortunately, most of our money is used up in buying parts and PCBs for the lanterns and geiger counters so buying extra PCBs may take a while.
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Is there something we could make and sell locally?
written by blackthursday, March 17, 2011
Instead of sending parts for lanterns to Japan, does anyone have any ideas for something we could ALL make and sell in our local cities in honor of the victims? We could then send the proceeds to our friends in Japan via their paypal account.

Best Regards!
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T-Shirts & Stickers
written by blackthursday, March 17, 2011
Hello again,

i think i'l just make t-shirts and stickers using the PCB design on this page. It's very hansom and I like the dedication. if i can turn a profit, i'll be sure to send money to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it !

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written by Akiba, March 17, 2011
Thanks! That'd be awesome. Let me know when you put them up for sale. I'd like one smilies/smiley.gif
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Update: T-Shirts & Stickers
written by blackthursday, March 18, 2011
I'm working on some high quality shirts and stickers that will be screen printed locally. In the mean time, I've created a few items for sale on our Zazzle store. One nice thing is that you can select from a few different types of shirts, including some from American Apparel.

We're a non-profit Hackerspace/Makerspace in Okalahoma City and our Zazzle store is here:

http://www.zazzle.com/ohmspace

You can download an SVG export from the Eagle CAD files here:

http://www.ohmspace.org/images/KimonoLanternPCB.svg

I have no interest in monopolizing this design, so, everyone feel free to create printed items of your own for the fundraising effort!

All The Best!
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written by Akiba, March 18, 2011
Just posted it to the Tokyo Hackerspace mailing list and on Twitter. Thanks!
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we are also handling donation of solar bulbs
written by steve katsaros, March 24, 2011
we have a great system setup for donating solar light bulbs to Japan. Please visit nokero(dot)com and click on the Donate button which brings up Japan.

good work on the Jar-light, I love it!

Steve Katsaros (inventor of Nokero solar products)
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