Category: solar/photovoltaic

Enhanced Beehives – Electronic Creatures*

An experimental and playful hands-on workshop (BEAM related) by Ralf Schreiber.
[*small unspectacular autonomous electronic machines – that attract attention by minimal tiny movements, light or soft sonic output.]

…it is a lot of fun to build your own robotic creature. As soon as the circuit starts working the robots begin to sing and jerk – there is always a great Hello.
It’s a magic moment and the constructor’s pride is often mixed with a little fear, that continuing soldering could possibly damage the just created little robot.
Time and again it is amazing to see, that such a wimpy, handcrafted creature can arouse empathy, can even activate a certain care in the builder…. (rs)

The most simple way to create and build “life like” machines or robots is by the use of analogue oscillator circuits. Oscillations can be feed-backed and thus simple interactions will happen and simple neuronal networks behavior can be simulated.
In this workshop we will build different kinds of machines. In combination with tiny motors and loudspeakers (piezos) they will generate smallest movements and soft sounds. All these machines are based on extreme low energetic circuits designs and get powered by the electric energy from tiny solar-panels or wimpy diy batteries.
All the finished machines can be exposed / set free in the garden. Furthermore some “creatures” can be connected or integrated to botanical or fungal organism (the plants resistance/capacity will get an integral part of the oscillating circuits).
For the design and look we will recycle & reuse wimpy stuff and elements direct from the garden: leaves, thin twigs, wax from the bee hives…

Schreiber is building solar-powered electronic insects that sing, chirp, swing and crawl. These little creatures get their energy from the sun and will probably outlive most of the fine electronic devices surrounding us today.
During the past few years Ralf has given numerous workshops around the world, teaching people to build their own robots from cheap components.
This knowledge does not only give people the possibility to build funny little toys, it also gives people more control and understanding of their increasingly technological surroundings.
(alessandro ludovico/

spiradye I at okno harvest days

and some other micro transformations by Bartaku
DIY solarpanels DIY solarpanels DIY solarpanels DIY solarpanels DIY solarpanels

solar paraboles

Left, the smithy of the Barefoot Solar Cooker Engineers in Tilonia, Rajasthan. Right, a solar energy project in the desert of New Mexico.
Under some diagrams on the horizontal and vertical sunlight-tracking for the Scheffler-system, as used for the Barefoot Solar Cookers.

Sheffler-cooker horizontal tracking

Sheffler-cooker horizontal tracking

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women thoughts – solar engineers

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Women from several African and Asian countries in a training/workshop in India learning about photovoltaic solar energy.
streaming movie — 02:30 // free art license CIK.

DIY solar cooker workshop

the fun panel solar cooker cut the aluminium paper testing it out! setting up the cooker on okno's rooftop domes and cookers

calculation and cutting finished! second try solar cooking rice and vegetables so-on rooftop solar cooking

Thursday 24 july 10 women (and 3 man) gatered at okno to build solar cookers. It was a sunny day, luckily.
In 2 hours time we built 3 umbrella-cookers and 3 fun-panel/cookit cookers. We started some cooking tests around 4.30 pm. The sunmoved fast and we had to adjust the cookers all the time. Than came the wind and he blew our pots away. Finally we cooked a simple meal on okno’s electric plates.

For pictures, go the the photo-album page and select solar_cooking: brussels.
Sofie, Marthe, Shelbatra, Wendy, Billy, Tina, Sara, Christina, Audrey, Annemie, Wouter, Fabrice and Rene.

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DIY solarcooker workshop

Presented as a preview for our upcoming-series
‘creative eco/techno gardening forgirlsandboys’ (2009-…) :
the cook, the artist, the engineer and their urban garden;

OKNO/so-on invites you to participate in the mini-DIY-workshop:

paracuina1.jpg cookit_small.jpg barbacoa_solar.jpg

thursday 24 july 2008 at OKNO, 01pm till 6pm
en petit comité
drinks available, food only if we succeed!
free entrance for women and transgender (boys, be inventive!)

A Solar Cooker is a device that allows you to cook food using the sun’s energy as fuel.

+ Solar cooking is the simplest, safest, most convenient way to cook food without consuming fuels. But for hundreds of millions of people around the world who cook over fires fueled by wood, solar cooking is more than a choice.
+ Moderate cooking temperatures in simple solar cookers help preserve nutrients.
+ Smoke from cooking fires is a major cause of global warming.
+ Many solar cookers are portable, allowing for solar cooking at work sites or while pursuing outdoor activities like picnics, trekking or camping.
+ and so much more … read:

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Barefoot Women Light Up India :: by Neeta Lal

For a video report on the solar engineers of Hyderabad, check the category 'media'.

Four dark-skinned women in multi-hued saris hunch over a solar power-generating circuit at the National Institute for Rural Development (NIRD) in Hyderabad, fleshing out details about solar lamps and panels for Indian villages. Chennamma, Yelamma, Kalavati and Zayda, all illiterate women in their 30s who previously worked as stone crushers in South India’s quarries, have left the furnace-like heat of their previous jobs to use the sun to a better purpose. This is the Women Barefoot Solar Engineers Association of Hyderabad. Exploitive employers, 10 hours of backbreaking labor and a long wait in queues to collect a wage of a dollar a day pretty much summed up these women’s bleak existence in the quarries. But today, after the institute’s Rural Technology Park helped train them as solar engineers, the women manufacture and maintain solar lamps and travel across India’s vast rural landscape to install solar power generators.

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interview with Bhagwat Nandan, aka Guruji

We wanted to set up a rural technological centre. A campus built only on green technologies.
We started to develop the solar section in 1988, funded with the royalties from the book The City of Joy. We were told about the advantages of photovoltaic solar panels to bring electricity to remote villages. We wanted to set up an open concept that everybody understood, so we started with trainings. The purpose was to inform all the rural people and tell them how we could upgrade our standards of living together.
I started to learn about solar systems: understanding photovoltaic panels, the batteries, production and maintenance. That time I was teaching science and maths in the night schools, and the project gave me the opportunity to learn about new techniques. I got more and more interested in the matter.
Today I have trained more than 400 Barefoot women solar engineers.

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Solar Sita :: solar cooker engineer


Sita Bai is one of the Barefoot SolarCooker Engineers. Together with 3 other women she runs the solar-cooker section of the College.
Some years ago she decided to start a 6 months training as solar panel engineer, and she continued her education with a focus on solar cookers.
Today the women are responsible for the construction of the large parabolic dishes, covered with regular pieces of mirror.
They tailor them precisely according to the blueprints of a German Engineer, Wolfgang Scheffler, with whom they still collaborate and improve the reflectors and machinery when needed.
They organise their smithy, weld and solder the mechanical parts for the cookers out of recycled bicycle parts. Their apparatus are sold to organisations in India who use them in community kitchens.

Scheffler’s Community Solar Cooker
Scheffler’s Solar Cooker – pdf

solar engineer training at the Barefoot College

 For videos on the solar workshops, check the category ‘media’.

At Barefoot College, ordinary men and women -whatever their qualifications- can learn about solar energy. Roles have to be flexible: the teacher can be the learner and the learner can be the teacher.
The whole environment is one of creative learning, demystifying technology and unlearning through processes that are natural, non violent and respectful.
At present time, 32 Buthanese girls and 6 Mauretanian women follow a 6 months training to become a solar engineer in their home villages.

They are selected by their communities to be trained in the installation, repair and maintenance of solar photovoltaic units. They learn the necessary skills to repair inverters and charge the controllers for the solar units they will look after.
Every family of the remote village communities pays a small sum for the equipment and the services of the solar engineers. As such, every member of the community takes his responsability in this ecological project of sustainable energy.

solar energy installation manual download pdf
solar energy maintenance manual download pdf