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Old 04-09-2014, 01:46 PM   #1
floppy_stuttgart
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Which hardware for a school in a village in Madagascar?


Hello,
some friends are regularly visiting madagascar: since they are building and extending a school since few years for 7 villages, we are thinking now about helping them with PC and Internet.
The idea behind this is: "education keep away from poverty"
Limitation:
a) difficult to pass material through the border (a lot of people asking for money..;-).. = forget sending there 20 second hand desktops (cheap in Europe)
b) no electricity
So, we are thinking what to implement:
- solar cells with 12v battery? Hopefully this will come through.
- hardware working with 12v battery (full desktop experience). "Odroid U3" or similar? which one? 12v screens, which one?
- Internet via satellite? How?
Idea and recommendations are welcome.
Think about this: it would be great to have the next forum member helping others from.. madagascar.
 
Old 04-09-2014, 01:58 PM   #2
schneidz
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i would check out the hardware used in olpc and see how they were successful with their deployments. (except i heard that their usb hand-crank was not very powerful).
 
Old 04-09-2014, 01:59 PM   #3
custangro
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I would try something like http://www.raspberrypi.org/

It requires low power and it's very small. You can easily fit hundreds in one box

--C
 
Old 04-09-2014, 02:05 PM   #4
schneidz
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^ i like raspberry-pi but they were designed for western children to learn about computer hardware and software.

they have hdmi ports which would make it difficult to connect to hdtv's in madagascar (which will make the true cost a barrier).

i think an all-in-one unit will make better sense but will also be very expensive. have you tried any coordination with the governments of germany and madagascar (to help with funding, deployments, requirements, ...). but then again you mite get more mileage by keeping this strictly grass-roots so you dont get bogged down with bureaucracy.

also, wifi/cellular mesh networks for intranet. i hear a lot of central african farmers use cellphones now to report on crops and stuff.

Last edited by schneidz; 04-09-2014 at 02:13 PM.
 
Old 04-09-2014, 02:06 PM   #5
TB0ne
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Quote:
Originally Posted by floppy_stuttgart View Post
Hello,
some friends are regularly visiting madagascar: since they are building and extending a school since few years for 7 villages, we are thinking now about helping them with PC and Internet.
The idea behind this is: "education keep away from poverty"
Limitation:
a) difficult to pass material through the border (a lot of people asking for money..;-).. = forget sending there 20 second hand desktops (cheap in Europe)
Then stop right where you are. Don't ask what hardware SHOULD be used, but rather answer the question of "What hardware can you GET where you are going?" This is absolutely pointless if you cannot get spare parts of ANY type, since you'll only wind up having things working for a short period.
Quote:
b) no electricity
This needs to be addressed first, since determining what power supply you have can drive what hardware you can feasibly operate.
Quote:
So, we are thinking what to implement:
- solar cells with 12v battery? Hopefully this will come through.
A decent start, but you will need FAR more than one 12v battery, and if you have trouble getting computers through the border, you'll have similar issues with a large enough solar panel to keep that battery charged on a usable basis. Think laterally; you need POWER. What provides it, and what can be used/repaired that already exists? The alternator from a car, attached to the back wheel of an old bike frame will get you 'pedal power', which will work even when the sun isn't shining. A relatively cheap wind-turbine for a sailboat is anywhere from $150 to $500, and can be roof-mounted to a school. And you need to use deep-cycle batteries, so the constant charge/discharge cycles won't make them useless in a short period.
Quote:
- hardware working with 12v battery (full desktop experience). "Odroid U3" or similar? which one? 12v screens, which one?
Using specialized hardware that can only be used with 12v power limits what you can repair/use in the field. Grab commodity hardware, and use a cheap inverter to get 'regular' power from the 12v source. Yes, there's loss in the conversion, but you'd make up for it with being able to easily replace broken hardware later.
Quote:
- Internet via satellite? How?
You pay through the nose, and enjoy the crap service/speed you'll get. GlobalTT serves Madagascar, but you need standard mains-power to run it, plus a dish, converter, etc. You'll probably need a dedicated power source JUST for the Internet. But without knowing details about where you are and what you'll have to work with, it's hard to say. If you can do line-of-site to anywhere, you could probably construct a VERY cheap Wifi antenna, with a range of over 50 miles, and have something usable for the cost of a SOHO router and a standard ISP connection. If you have cellular coverage, a cheap 3g wifi hotspot would get you going.
Quote:
Think about this: it would be great to have the next forum member helping others from.. madagascar.
Unless you have the budget to spin up a good-sized VM server with workstations for all the kiddies, they'll be using very basic services, which won't really make it feasible for them to learn how to download/install Linux, configure it, etc. They won't have the hardware to play with. And unless you have a good chunk of $$$ to pump into this on an ONGOING basis, they'll be dead in the water in six months or so.

It is a noble goal, but I have seen the aftermath of such things in several places. The phrase "It was fun while it lasted" is fitting.
 
Old 04-09-2014, 02:23 PM   #6
schneidz
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do you have access to gasoline ? would a gas powered generator make sense ?
 
Old 04-09-2014, 02:49 PM   #7
rokytnji
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http://puppylinux.org/wikka/XOPup

http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Projects/OLPC_on_Puppy_Linux

https://github.com/mavrothal/Pox_git

All above are for Puppy on most old model OLPC and even newer models also.

For older regular laptops like IBM 390 series and such.

My go to was always AntiX. Each has their own druthers though. Those are mine.
 
Old 04-10-2014, 12:03 PM   #8
DavidMcCann
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TBOne is on the right track. Your friends need to find a computer shop in a town next time they're in Madagascar and get some advice on what is available locally.
 
  


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