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The power of... steam?
April 9, 2009 7:19 PM   Subscribe

Steam Powered iPod Charger What more is there to say?
posted by MuadDib (43 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
"We're not BoingBoing?"
posted by flatluigi at 7:21 PM on April 9, 2009 [5 favorites]


Who knew that Robert Fulton would eventually become the patron saint of hipsters?
posted by hifiparasol at 7:22 PM on April 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sure, why not.
posted by rageagainsttherobots at 7:23 PM on April 9, 2009


oh look
posted by flatluigi at 7:24 PM on April 9, 2009


Yeah, between this and the Devo post, I'm starting to think this place should be called FrauenFilter.
posted by hifiparasol at 7:33 PM on April 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


It even has legos!
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 7:38 PM on April 9, 2009


Minifig operator is a nice touch.
posted by box at 7:51 PM on April 9, 2009


The Jensen Steam Engine Mfg. Company (of Jennette, PA!) has an appropriately retro little website. They've been building those little steam engines in the same garage in western PA since the depression. I doubt that they know anything about steam punk or Cory Doctorow or even what a hipster is.
posted by octothorpe at 7:56 PM on April 9, 2009


Oh no thank you, that gives me gas.
posted by nola at 8:05 PM on April 9, 2009


I have a steam powered tea pot.
posted by twoleftfeet at 8:07 PM on April 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


MuadDib, I expect to hear from you again in late 2016.
posted by gman at 8:09 PM on April 9, 2009 [1 favorite]




Whoops, link here.
posted by amuseDetachment at 8:12 PM on April 9, 2009


While it's handwavey to speak of your 120V power "coming from" this generator or that generator, for most of you your Ipod chargers are also powered by steam.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:34 PM on April 9, 2009 [5 favorites]


My friends in London will be so jealous when they see me with that.
posted by chiraena at 8:36 PM on April 9, 2009


I don't have a dog in the steampunk fight: when I see something like this I raise an eyebrow and think "That's...pretty cool".

Then I read something like this: [from the site] "Steampunk is Goth, Punk, Geek, and Maker Culture whipped into a delicious melange with a healthy seasoning of political and environmental activism. It's the intersection of science and romance, it's sustainable rebellion."

*facepalm*

Could (some) steampunk folks be any more pretentious?
posted by zardoz at 10:39 PM on April 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


Neat. But still not as cool as the Steampunk Dildo, the Steampunk Tanning Bed, or the Steampunk Jungle Gym.
posted by Ratio at 11:01 PM on April 9, 2009


My favorite anagrams for STEAMPUNK:

1. Spunk At Me
2. Spank Mute
3. Meat Spunk
4. Mask Ten Up
5. Ma Kent Pus
6. Mast Ken Up
7. Pa Me Stunk
8. Team Spunk
9. Nap Musket
posted by Ratio at 11:05 PM on April 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


Nap Musket!

We should totally adopt Nap Musket for this genre.

Or, you know, Team Spunk.
posted by Balisong at 11:59 PM on April 9, 2009


"Steam Powered iPod Charger"

They already have these. They're called nuclear power plants.

Kinda cool, really.
posted by markkraft at 12:24 AM on April 10, 2009


I hate when people use specific device in a title like iPod when this is obviously a charger for ANYTHING that charges via USB.
posted by GavinR at 3:23 AM on April 10, 2009


One day, a kid in Japan will find a way to generate huge amounts of electricity in a test tube... while our kids are playing choo-choo trains.
posted by markkraft at 3:30 AM on April 10, 2009


Steampunk is neither steam nor punk. It's about using old ideas and old technologies to do things that are either banal, unhelpful, inefficient, or all-of-the-above.

As a literary genre, it again is neither steam nor punk. Rather, it's the lazy writer's science fiction, because all the difficult speculation of the future flies right out the window. It's the literary equivalent of fanfic for gadget geeks and goth kids turned high-tech hipsters who get off on nihilistic escapism.

This isn't to say that you won't enjoy it... odd are good that it's very much up your alley. But it's worth remembering that your enjoyment is derived from the fact that you're a deviant tech-fetishist who, when the world around them was on the brink, thought that spinning your wheels and grinding your gears with a piston engine was a good thing.

Next time, try teledildonics. It accomplishes more, makes people happier, and once you finish with it, you'll likely take a shower and get on with your life.
posted by markkraft at 4:03 AM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Now if they could actually have a steam-powered iPod that literally played the music via steam and a series of tubes as opposed to the figurative Stevensonian "series of tubes" I would be duely impressed.
posted by Pollomacho at 4:23 AM on April 10, 2009


ya know, boing boing is free... why am I paying $5 to read this here....? just sayin'
posted by HuronBob at 4:26 AM on April 10, 2009


I'm surprised you can generate enough power from a technic motor to charge an iPod. The USB spec calls for .5A at 5W. Although maybe some devices such as the iPod can intelligently handle lower current levels?
posted by DU at 4:54 AM on April 10, 2009


Wow, transduction in action! But maybe next time, you could try harvesting solar power to heat the steam that charges the iPod.

It was probably a cool project, but mankind has been turning energy into other kinds of energy since we discovered fire.
posted by Eideteker at 4:59 AM on April 10, 2009


ya know, boing boing is free... why am I paying $5 to read this here....? just sayin'

You're not. You're paying five bucks to complain about it.
posted by The Man from Lardfork at 5:36 AM on April 10, 2009 [8 favorites]


Then I read something like this: [from the site] "Steampunk is Goth, Punk, Geek, and Maker Culture whipped into a delicious melange with a healthy seasoning of political and environmental activism. It's the intersection of science and romance, it's sustainable rebellion."

Look, guys! I just created a device that uses steam to generate smug!

(Seriously. "Sustainable rebellion"? What the hell is that even supposed to mean?)
posted by Spatch at 5:43 AM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Romanticising coal-burning technology is environmental activism now?
posted by WPW at 5:54 AM on April 10, 2009


ya know, boing boing is free... why am I paying $5 to read this here....? just sayin'

You're not PAYING $5; you already paid it. And not to read it - to comment on it. And no-one's forced you to do that. And no-one forced you to read it.

So, what are you bitching about again?
posted by grubi at 5:58 AM on April 10, 2009


That said, I like steampunk. As a style, a genre, whatever. I don't obsess about it or play dressup. But it seems like the Typical MeFi Backlash is firmly in place for yet another trend that you pseudo-hipsters don't like. LET IT GO. IF SOMEONE POSTS SOMETHING ON METAFILTER THAT YOU DO NOT LIKE, YOU'RE ALLOWED TO IGNORE IT, YOU SELF-CENTERED HORSES' ASSES. NOT EVERYTHING ON THIS SITE APPEALS TO EVERYONE. Just... grow up already.
posted by grubi at 6:00 AM on April 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Romanticising coal-burning technology...

Steampunk isn't really about the coal-burning. It's about the transparency. That's why they like gears on top of everything. It's romanticising the time when you could tell from inspection how (or if) something was working. A computer is just a box that produces heat at the vents and magic on the screen. Whereas a mechanical clock is clearly DOING something internally to make the hands go.

To the extent that steampunk inspires loves of technology and transparency, it can be regarded as rebellious (in the recent non-transparent government atmosphere). Sustainable maybe not so much, although openness and cleanliness have been bedfellows recently.
posted by DU at 6:05 AM on April 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


DU, I completely take your point, but can you explain why there's such a big overlap between lovers of steampunk and lovers of the products of the Apply corporation, apogee of the Seamless Magic Box school of design? Or at least it appears to be that way on Boing Boing (and at times here).
posted by WPW at 6:36 AM on April 10, 2009


I cannot explain love of the products of the Apple corporation at all, let alone the harder problem of the steampunk context.
posted by DU at 6:57 AM on April 10, 2009


Steam powered iPod.

Portable version.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:09 AM on April 10, 2009


IF SOMEONE POSTS SOMETHING ON METAFILTER THAT YOU DO NOT LIKE, BARK BARK BARK

You could have emailed that.

and so ad infinitum
posted by sidereal at 8:31 AM on April 10, 2009


Steampunk is also the facination with the well-designed, over-engineered and over-built (by today's standards of planned obselecence) tools and gadgets of yesteryear. I have a Hollerith card punch, manual, built in 1905, which still works perfectly today except for some wear on the buttons. In my forge, I have a Little Giant 50-lb ram power hammer built in 1929 which I use regularly, it's all exposed bearing surfaces that have to be kept oiled, with a massive 3" shaft running through babbit bearings (also requiring manual oiling and daily greasing with a grease gun through a zerk). It weighs 1850 lbs, mostly cast iron, and I am the eighth owner according to a guy who keeps track of such things.

I have torches over a century old that still hold pressure, and would probably work if I needed them, hand tools forged and then machined by hand, a heat treating furnace that requires careful adjustment of multiple valves and regulators to keep at temperature but which has lasted 80 years.

Meanwhile, modern tools seem to be made of tinfoil, plastic, and string, which break or wear out immediately if you actually try to use them at their rated capabilities.

So, yeah, I understand the fascination with Steampunk, it's a romantic reaction against today's mass-produced throw-away make-it-cheap-and-flimsy world.

(To tie in the Apple thread, I can say that every apple computer I've owned lasted far longer as a useful device than any pc I've owned, so in the steampunk aesthetic they sorta fit in as overengineered and built to last, but YMMV.)
posted by Blackanvil at 8:53 AM on April 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


IF SOMEONE POSTS SOMETHING ON METAFILTER THAT YOU DO NOT LIKE, YOU'RE ALLOWED TO IGNORE IT, YOU SELF-CENTERED HORSES' ASSES. NOT EVERYTHING ON THIS SITE APPEALS TO EVERYONE. Just... grow up already.

But then where will we aim the snark beams?
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 10:10 AM on April 10, 2009


As someone who is being PAID to write a Steampunk-ish story (I'm as confused as you are) I've been doing some thinking of the genre and how it fits into Alternate Histories and the like. There seem like so many more interesting cultural periods to randomly give high technology too. The Aztecs! Babylonians! Early Man! Down with corsets! Up with loincloths!

That and, what about our own recent future? What if the 1950s future actually came true in some Watchman-y kinda alt history? An entire international-style top-down culturally repressive solar system? Mad Men On Mars!

Oh wait, that's ..Caprica*.

Never mind.


* if we're lucky ..sigh
posted by The Whelk at 12:09 PM on April 10, 2009


The USB spec calls for .5A at 5W.

500mA at 5V, strictly speaking; 2.5W.

Although maybe some devices such as the iPod can intelligently handle lower current levels?

Strictly speaking, devices are supposed to negotiate with their hosts about power -- if I remember rightly, unconfigured they can pull 100mA max, configured they can pull the full 500mA, and they can offer the host multiple configurations with different power requirements.

In practice though devices simply treat the 5V line as a free source of 500mA because its awfully handy to do so. (And this opens the door to chargers that simply treat the USB plug as a power plug -- no host-side smarts in wall-wart-to-USB chargers but they work anyway because its handy for all involved that they do so.)

There was a USB Battery Charging spec in 2007 that let devices detect chargers fairly simply and pull 1.5A max from them (the limit that the connectors are rated to); dunno if that spec's seen much adoption yet.

(It's amazing USB works as reliably as it does, frankly; it's a mismatch of really solid specs and really ragged implementations with "works with/like Windows" as the only meaningful marketplace acceptance test.)

And yeah, the steampunk charger was indeed on BoingBoing first, complete with pre-emptive "if only all power was generated this way" snark.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 4:23 PM on April 10, 2009


GIGANTIC STEAM-POWERED KALI WOULD LIKE TO QUESTION YOUR IMPERIAL ASPERSIONS PLZ.


that's as far as I've gotten. srsly
posted by The Whelk at 6:05 PM on April 10, 2009


And yeah, the steampunk charger was indeed on BoingBoing first, complete with pre-emptive "if only all power was generated this way" snark.

Mark Frauenfelder is such a Nap Musket.
posted by Ratio at 8:34 PM on April 10, 2009


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