Crank-Powered MP3 Player

Wind Up Eco Media Player
(This link brought to my attention courtesy of el Nubo.)

They claim it runs for 40 minutes on one minute of cranking. Seems eminently usable. Sturdy. With a color video screen, which is more than I need. Unfortunately, it appears to be available only in the UK and Australia. You know, cause Americans are too complacent and stupid to want one. Also, like everything else that doesn’t come with an accompanying cost in fucking-up-the-earth guilt, there is a cash premium involved. It retails for £155 ~= $315.

I think if I’m saving my money I’d rather go with the laptop. Then again, I’m pretty happy just listening to the wind and the birds.


  1. I think there are good things on the horizon. But actual devices, crank powered things for example, I think are working the wrong end of the equation. In the future I look forward to affordable / easy to install things like putting solar panels on the roof, then using them to charge things like mp3 players, computers, etc. Geo-thermal and wind power could be community options in the future. Maybe a universal green battery will be available you take somewhere to re-fill. Just my late night ramblings on the subject.

    1. I agree, to some extent–global change is not going to be brought about by a bunch of individual consumers with a green gadget fetish. On the other hand, promoting a green gadget fetish is something I can actually do, whereas there is not really any way for me to force the people who own my apartment to go switching from electric heat to pellet-burning ceramic stoves and installing solar panels everywhere.

      But really, change has to come from all sides, from a grassroots populist movement, economic shift, institutionalized policy change, technology innovation, political stumping, etc etc. I made fun of the Gore Nobel Prize award because it didn’t really change anything—it was just a symbolic gesture. But actually, it kind of has elevated Gore almost to a Nelson Mandela level, where he is now the de facto world ambassador of climate change, rather than just its self-appointed ambassador. I don’t know if I would have felt I had the impunity to be posting the above sort of angry comments had he not recieved the Nobel Prize. Suddenly it is not quite as taboo a topic as it once was. I actually did get a bunch of people to buy those crank laptops around Thanksgiving, just by bringing them up in practically every social context I wandered into. It was great. I discovered a pretty cool thing about green technology, that it works as a bridge between the angry angry treehuggers I hang out with on a daily basis (who even with Gore out stumping continue to be relegated to the status of insane reactionary mailbombers) and the wealth-oriented corporate climbing conservatives. I actually managed to have a civil, even enthusiastic, discussion about the crank laptop with members of my family from both extremes. If I can convince my aunt and uncle the tech CEOs to spend a fraction of their giant capitalist hoard on wee little MP3 players that they just go ahead and plug in and never even bother to crank anyway, well, yeah, that probably doesn’t do any great good of itself, aside from keep the manufacturers of the wee MP3 players in business for another 5 minutes. But maybe next year, those same capitalists will listen a little more open-mindedly while I rage about the end of the world.

      Or, you know, the year after that. Maybe.

  2. That’s a good point, buying such products will support the manufacturers. And it’s nice to hear you had positive results bringing up the crank powered laptop. I think my first reaction to the idea of a crank MP3 player was kind of dismissive, because one would still be using a regular computer to load songs on it. But after thinking about it for a minute, I suppose the real benefit is in its long term use, by not adding harmful batteries to landfills. Certainly early-adopters are needed to popularize things like crank devices and solar panels, driving up production and lowering costs, making them more attractive to frugal and apathetic people such as myself. It’s too bad there isn’t like a conversion kit at RadioShack, someone could just buy and tape it to the side of anything needing AA batteries. A low cost DIY kind of solution vs. having to pay a premium from another country.

    1. I could be wrong, but I think with most applications there is more engineering involved in getting an electronic device to have low enough draw to be reasonably powerable by crank. I know this is the case with the laptop, at least–it is super-low draw, with all these interesting new engineering innovations that make it use way less than your usual laptop which is a notorious power hog. With the MP3 player I don’t know.

      Consider, though, the recent spate of workout places that have turned their treadmills and excercise bikes into generators. They tend not to be able to do much more than power the lights in the building.

      At the museum of science in boston they have a bike hooked up to a generator, which (if you are lucky) they will let you test out. I have done it. Powering a 40-watt incandescent bulb isn’t too bad. Then they hook the same bike on the same circuit up to a 120-watt bulb and the resistance is unbelievable. It felt like I was pulling a trailer full of toddlers up a steep hill.

      1. Yeah, that’s too bad crank power has that limit. This conversation has reminded me I need to get one of those crank flashlights, that’s the best implementation of the tech I can think of.

        Did you see the thing in the news recently about wave power in California? That’s neat. I think technology is going to step up in the coming years. I don’t think an alarmist view of the future is neccessary, but maybe in the crunch of declining resources and increasing effects of climate change & pollution, people will be forced to make smarter choices.

        Or else I’ll have beach front property in Iowa you are welcome to visit any time.

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