You are probably all very aware now of the problems facing Japan after an earthquake and tsunami pretty much destroyed a large area of the country. Many of you are wishing there was more you could do than just donate money too. If you are handy at making DIY tech projects, you may be able to help a hacker create humanitarian open source hardware designed to help Japan's disaster victims.
"Akiba" of Freaklabs originally created the open source Kimono Lantern out of recycled jars as a neat decoration for gardens and patios. However, after the recent events in Japan, the solar powered light may have a better use in giving people suffering the current rolling blackouts or worse still, no homes at all, light.
Not only is the lantern being used to help the victims, but now the files necessary to create it have been uploaded for the hardware community to get at and make -- material list and gerbers included. On a good day, Akiba claims the lantern will be able to give off 10 hours of light if exposed to 3-4 hours sunlight. The Kimono Lantern also uses a light detection sensor, so will shut off automatically in the day time (though there is also an on/off switch). For the solar power, Akiba used a 2.0V, 80mA circular solar cell and can run on rechargeable batteries.
In a blog post on Freaklabs, Akiba said: "So although it's outside the original sphere of intended use, it looks like the simple Kimono lanterns we designed can play a small role in providing comfort and at least give a small feeling of safety to people that are going through this horrific experience. I'm currently kitting up as many lanterns as I have parts for [...] I'm also donating the complete design to the open source hardware community.
"I want to donate this design to the community because I think that it would be more effective than just donating money. It's a simple design, but its available now and it's ready to go."
Akiba worked with Tokyo Hackerpace to make this lantern, and the full set of instructions can be found on the Website. If you'd like to give money for this project, Freaklabs is accepting PayPal donations.
Here are some other ways you can help relief efforts in Japan.
Elizabeth Fish hopes some of GeekTech's talented readers will be able to help with this project for Japan's victims or their own idea.
More on the Japan quake and tsunami...