Thursday, May 15, 2014

BioLite BaseCamp Stove, Turn Fire into Electricity

     This is another one of those moments when something that we use everyday taken to the next step. Something like this would be perfect in a third world, people would be able to cook their food safely and create electricity to power lights/ cell phones/ and other electronics. I have seen camp stoves that produce electricity before, however I haven't seen one include a grill top to make it more versatile. This is definitely one of my favorite items on kickstarter running now and they have already surpassed their funding goal, so the skys the limit for them now. Take a look below: 
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We heard you, it's here: advanced off-grid cooking and charging for groups, powered by wood. Can your stove do that?

Meet BioLite BaseCamp

Cooking with wood has never been smarter - get all the flavor and fun of a wood fire, without the smoke.
Grill or boil at the flip of a switch - meet all your cooking needs seamlessly.
Bring portable power to your backyard or campsite - we turn wood into electricity. You read that right.

The BioLite BaseCamp is a complete off-grid cooking and energy solution for groups, powered by wood. Using only fallen branches or small pieces of firewood, you can make wood-fired meals and charge your devices all at the same time. It's a smart alternative to fossil-fueled stoves, creating an elevated cooking fire that burns smarter than any campfire you're used to.
Over the past year, our team has been developing this product using feedback from our early BioLite customers, owners of the original BioLite CampStove. We're here today to ask you to help us fund our first production run. We turn wood into electricity - we need your help to turn our newest product into reality.

Behind the Design

How it Works

turning fire into electricity
turning fire into electricity
The BaseCamp converts heat from the fire into usable electricity via a thermoelectric generator housed within the orange power pack. 
This powers a fan that blows air back into the burn chamber for improved combustion. The surplus electricity is then sent to a USB port, allowing you to charge your devices.
Charging Capabilities
The BioLite Basecamp puts out 5W of usable electricity via a standard 5V USB port meaning you can charge everyday useful devices like smartphones, GPS, headlamps, your GoPro, or even tablets. We designed the powerpack to house a battery, meaning you now have the option to charge while you are cooking OR whenever is most convenient for you, without the need for a live fire

Thanks to our LED indicator dashboard, you can see how hot the fire is and optimize your charging experience

the anatomy of BaseCamp
the anatomy of BaseCamp
There's nothing better than a meal with friends over a campfire - but we could all do without the smoke. Propane and charcoal are an option, but carrying canisters and fuel creates a disconnect between your meals and your outdoor experience. The BaseCamp provides the rustic experience of cooking with wood with the innovative technology of electrical cogeneration to fulfill a full range of outdoor energy needs.
Whether you're looking for a new backyard fire pit, a new piece of gear for car camping, or the ultimate tailgating accessory, BaseCamp is for you.

The Origins of BaseCamp

The BioLite BaseCamp is a product years in the making. When BioLite took its flagship product, the BioLite CampStove, to a wood combustion conference in 2009, we quickly realized that the application for our technology went far beyond outdoor recreation. 
Half the planet still cooks on smoky open fires, killing more people annually than AIDS and Malaria combined. This motivated our team to develop the BioLite HomeStove, a low-cost biomass cookstove that dramatically reduces emissions while co-generating usable electricity. Since 2009, BioLite has developed 4 generations of prototypes and is currently selling thousands of HomeStoves through our pilot retailers in India, Ghana, and Uganda.

Our users in the outdoor recreation and emergency preparedness markets have been incredibly supportive of our HomeStove work, but many have also let us know that they too are interested in the larger stove. So we got to work...
The Product Development Behind BaseCamp
"So why not just produce more HomeStoves to sell them here?"

going from HomeStove to BaseCamp
going from HomeStove to BaseCamp
This is a question we heard a lot as people learned of our HomeStove program. At BioLite, we design products that focus on the needs of our customers. While there are many common needs between the emerging markets and off-grid outdoor recreation community, there are also several nuances to these respective experiences that make for very different final products.

adding the bucket handle and flame spreader
adding the bucket handle and flame spreader
As we worked on the design development of BaseCamp, we kept three core things in mind:
1. Group Access - How do we take the benefits of the BioLite CampStove and extend it to larger groups of people who want to be cooking in the outdoors together?
2. Improved Power - As electricity needs increase and more outdoor gear becomes USB-rechargable, how can we provide more on-demand power when our users need it?
3. Usability and Portability - What design improvements can we incorporate to facilitate a fun cooking experience and an easy way to move the BaseCamp from point A to point B?

testing v1 BaseCamp prototype
testing v1 BaseCamp prototype

heat mapping the BaseCamp
heat mapping the BaseCamp

testing v3 BaseCamp prototype
testing v3 BaseCamp prototype

engineering BaseCamp
engineering BaseCamp

Emissions testing. Animation courtesy of Autodesk.
Emissions testing. Animation courtesy of Autodesk.

Production Schedule

May 2014
  • Off-tool prototype beta testing
  • Tooling finalized
  • Circuitry and electronics finalized
  • Limited Edition Carrying Case design finalized and sourcing begins.
June 2014
  • BaseCamp Production begins
  • BaseCamp Packaging sent to print
  • On-line QA spot checks to ensure optimal performance
  • Carrying Case textile partner selected and production begins
  • Special Edition BaseCamp poster design begins
July 2014
  • QA process continues
  • BaseCamp units ship from factory to BioLite warehouses mid-July
  • Carrying Cases inserted into Priority Kickstarter backers
  • Special Edition Poster sent to printer
August 2014
  • BaseCamp Order processing and fulfillment begins
  • Special Edition Poster mailed to poster-level Backers

September 2014
  • BaseCamp orders delivered to Kickstarter Backers!

The People Behind BaseCamp - Team BioLite

BioLite co-founders Jonathan and Alec
BioLite co-founders Jonathan and Alec
Jonathan and Alec, the founders of BioLite started the company as a side project in Brooklyn back in 2006. In 2009, they quit their jobs and turned BioLite into a full-time venture.
Over the past 4 years, the BioLite team has grown to 25 full-time employees all working towards the promise of Energy Everywhere. We love hearing from our fans and we're always looking for ways to support our community both near and far.

Providing hot drinks and charging phones post Hurricane Sandy, 2012
Providing hot drinks and charging phones post Hurricane Sandy, 2012

Ryan teaches students about our technology at Big Ideas Week 2013
Ryan teaches students about our technology at Big Ideas Week 2013

Powering the local holiday lights at the 1000 W BioLite FirePit, 2013
Powering the local holiday lights at the 1000 W BioLite FirePit, 2013
Project BaseCamp Team
Monte Electrical Engineering
Monte was the project coach and electrical engineer for BaseCamp.  Before joining BioLite, he completed his PhD in control theory at Oxford, and worked on an electric vehicle start-up back home in Australia developing ultra-fast charging systems and high-efficiency power electronics. Favorite BaseCamp Food: Grilled Asparagus
Alec | Industrial Engineering
Alec developed the first design and prototype of the BaseCamp's grill top, rack and legs. His background is in art and design with a long time tinkering on many mechanical things since he was five.  Favorite BaseCamp Food: Italian Sausage and Vegetables
Tim Industrial Engineering
Tim was responsible for the BaseCamp's usability refinements, design optimization for manufacturing and 3D CAD construction. He made several trips to our manufacturing partner for tooling kickoff and first article testing and approvals. He studied industrial design at Art Center College of Design. In his 14 years, he has developed numerous bicycle components and mountain bike suspension products for SRAM/ RockShox, and later shifted to kitchen utensils and other consumer products with Smart Design and then Quirky. Favorite BaseCamp Food: Korean BBQ.
Olev | Electrical Engineering
Olev focused on maximizing the BaseCamp electrical power output using the existing HomeStove platform. He studied Mechanical Engineering at Cornell and Stanford, and then worked at HP for 25 years designing low-cost, high-quality and high-volume electro-mechanical products. Favorite BaseCamp Food: Sausage & Peppers.
Ryan | Combustion Engineering
Ryan supported testing and design refinements to the combustion and cooling systems on BaseCamp. He graduated with Bachelors and Masters degrees in Aerospace Engineering from California Polytechnic State University. Before BioLite Ryan worked for Boeing, and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne designing and testing combustion systems for jets, rockets, and powerplants. Favorite BaseCamp Food:Fresh Pork Sausages
Venkatesh | Combustion Engineering
Venky works as a Combustion Engineer and is part of the BioLite Research team. He has a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering with focus on combustion and particulates formation. He supported the efficiency and emissions testing for BaseCamp development.Favorite BaseCamp Food: Grilled Paneer
Anton Industrial Design
Anton created the industrial design for the BioLite HomeStove and helped translate it to the BaseCamp stove. Anton is a designer with more than 10 years of experience designing thoughtful products and services centered around the user. Before joining BioLite as its director of design Anton created products for companies like Google, HP, Intel, Nokia and OXO first at Smart Design and later at frog. Favorite BaseCamp Food:Grilled Halumi Cheese.
Seth | User Interface
Seth was part of the design team who worked on BaseCamp’s powerpack interface - helping users understand their power generation and monitor the strength of their fire. Seth's background ranges from crafting digital experiences for web and mobile through to building intuitive interfaces for environmental and product design. Favorite BaseCamp Food: Blue cheese burgers with grilled pineapple.
Orpheus | User Testing
Orphee supported the design and optimization of the BaseCamp focusing on combustion engineering and power generation from initial research to final design. This encompassed rapid prototype development of parts as well as collaborating with the team to develop procedures for various metrics testing. Favorite BaseCamp Food: Jerk Chicken & Plantains
Kurtis | Manufacturing Engineering
Kurtis worked on the process development of the BaseCamp manufacturing and tooling requirements as well as the quality control testing. He has spent the last 2 years on the BioLite team helping implement and manufacture various products including the HomeStove. He has a background in R&D and manufacturing for 7+ years building and engineering rescue, medical, and outdoor equipment. Favorite BaseCamp Food: Thin cut steak
Whitney | Manufacturing Engineering
Whitney leads the manufacture team at BioLite.  Her work on the BioLite Portable Grill and BioLite HomeStove helped to create a foundation for the BioLite BaseCamp manufacturing.  Favorite BaseCamp Food: A nice wood-fired steak
Erica Communications
Erica is the Director of Marketing at BioLite, avid griller, and the creator of the Kickstarter campaign for BaseCamp. Aside from her day to day role, she’s the voice of BioLite instruction manuals and videos and frequently the replier to your tweets. Prior to BioLite, Erica worked at the NYC brand consulting firm Sterling Brands. Favorite BaseCamp Food: Shakshuka
The Work We Do
We brainstorm, we tinker, we build, but most importantly we are constantly looking to solve tough problems in the personal energy space through science, technology and design.
At BioLite, we practice what we like to call Parallel Innovation: we incubate core technologies here in our lab and then create products in the outdoor and emerging off-grid markets. The revenue from our outdoor users helps us invest in the long-term success of building meaningful products and stable sales channels for those who need it most in emerging markets.

Why We're Asking for Your Help
The motivation for BaseCamp was from crowd demand, so we're asking for your help to crowd-fund it and help us continue to collaborate with our user base as a viable means of innovation and product development.

initial concept sketch and prototype of carrying case
initial concept sketch and prototype of carrying case
BioLite seeks unique solutions to big challenges. This includes new business models. Your support helps us keep control of our company, our mission, and enables us to take risks on new products and ideas we might not otherwise be able to do. We're a young company and putting a new product into production takes a lot of work and a lot of capital. Help us manage risk and measure demand by support our Kickstarter efforts today.

And a special thanks to Josh Woodward for the music in our video.

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