Store your Documents in a Rock and Access them with Fire

Artist Aram Bartholl installed an art project called Keepalive outside of Neuenkirchen, Germany in the summer of 2015. It’s a carved-out boulder with a thermoelectric generator connected to a Wi-Fi router that serves up survival documents. It’s an exceedingly cool rock and its components – in most cases commodity or open-source – could be useful for modern homesteaders.
Screenshot 2016-05-26 16.26.58The Keepalive nearly seems like magic – can electricity really be generated directly from fire? Sure! We’ve reviewed the BioLite CampStove, which works on the same principle. These devices use Peltier plates (also known as thermoelectric plates) to generate electricity from the thermal differential between a hot and cold area – in effect the rock acts as a massive heat sink for a fire (you’ll remember from our review the BioLite uses a raucous fan).
Screenshot 2016-05-26 16.24.56Peltier plates are a cool technology with a major disadvantage: to keep up the difference in temperature, heat must be removed from the cold side through fans or water cooling. For homesteading applications, the peltier effect is best suited to power things like a woodstove fan (since the plate can be mounted against an exterior window) or a intermittent low-power use like the router in Bartholl’s project.
Screenshot 2016-05-31 15.44.27The Keepalive’s peltier plates are connected to a router running PirateBox.cc – open-source software installed on a cheap router (or a Raspberry Pi microcomputer – or even an unused Android phone or tablet) that allows anonymous distribution of documents without the need for an internet connection. Homesteaders might consider loading one up with survival documents or establishing a virtual neighborhood digital “library”. PirateBox has also been used by EMTs to distribute first aid information after natural disasters. While you may not need a giant rock full of files on your farm, you may have a use for technologies.Screenshot 2016-05-31 15.44.55

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