This morning finds the BRCK team in Nanyuki, only about 3-4 hours outside of Nairobi. The same place we were supposed to be having breakfast yesterday, not today. A rather inauspicious start happened about 30 kilometers into the trip when the Land Rover decided it was going to have some cooling problems.
After two hours of working on solutions, we realized that this Land Rover just wasn’t going to make it. Too bad, as it had two tanks and better range than most. Fortunately, Fady Rostom (of Ark/Bonk) is traveling with us. He offered up his Land Rover 110, and we quickly got in touch with a mechanic in Nairobi who put a roof rack on his vehicle in about 30 minutes.
1pm found us with all equipment unloaded near Thika town, on the side of the road. 5 tires were changed from one Land Rover to the other, and we repacked the new vehicle. Finally, we were on our way (again)!
In hindsight, what was extremely disappointing at the time ended up happening about the best time we’d like to have seen a problem like that develop – in the beginning of the trip near the big city, where we could still make a change.
We got into Nanyuki in the evening, after a nice cold rain hit us, much to the chagrin of those of us on motorcycles with only mesh jackets on. Taylor had his full rain gear (who we had been making fun of earlier due to the heat), and while we froze he rode in relative comfort. Dinner was at Barnies, and then a shack that makes and sells the best cheeses that we’ve ever found in Kenya, called Silent Valley Cheese. 6 kilos of cheese later we found a house owned by a friend to sleep at for the night.
This changes the stages of our trip, and now we’re very glad that we built in a buffer day for the drive up to Lake Turkana. We’ll still arrive the day before the eclipse (Oct 2), but in the evening instead of the morning. Our route now entails an early morning offing from Nanyuki, final fill up of fuel in Isiolo, then off road around Laisamis towards Ngurunit and on to Kurungu and Soth Horr for the night.
This next section along the edge of the Matthews mountain range is one of the most scenic places in Kenya. We’ll stop along the way for some pictures, and then get into Kurungu in time to test the Wilson amplification antennas. The point of these amp antennas is to extend the range one can be from the mobile phone tower to get internet connectivity. We’ve used one before in Lamu, now we’re trying it in the bush, and with the BRCK.
We’re getting ready to head out on Thursday for Lake Turkana. One Land Rover, Two Days to get there, Three Motor Bikes, Six Guys, 10 Jerry Cans for Extra Fuel. Looks like we are in for an adventure.
We hear a lot about how the internet makes the world flat. But in practice the topography is more diverse.
While good internet access is growing all over the world, there are still 3 billion people in the world who don’t even have the opportunity to access broadband internet, let alone the financial or infrastructure means to do so. BRCK was developed, in part, to lift up the availability and quality of internet access for people all over the world. Shortening the distance between remote regions of the world and places more familiar with the internet is to everyone’s benefit. Both sides have incredible things to share and gain from better access to the web.
On November 3rd, we’ll be using a BRCK to show you something amazing from one of the most remote part of the world. We’ll be streaming a stunning Hybrid Solar Eclipse out to the world live from Lake Turkana in the far North West of Kenya. People all over the world will get to see this incredible event from their own homes. The world will get a little flatter.
In addition to being a prime location for viewing the eclipse, Lake Turkana is about as remote as it gets. You may have heard us say “If it works in Africa, it’ll work anywhere”? Well, if it works in Turkana, it’ll work in Africa. The journey will be two days from Nairobi on mostly dirt roads. We’ll be using the adventure to pressure test the BRCK ahead of production in January, and have a little for with the internet in a very remote location.
We’ll be spending the next week prepping and then heading out on the 31st.
You can keep up with us on Twitter (#brckeclipse), here on our blog, and also at our special site for the event: http://brck.com/eclipse.
It’s a big day for BRCK, as we have two announcements to make.
First, BRCK has become it’s own organization, spinning out of Ushahidi (who still plays a major role on the board and advising), and ready to go its own direction. There’s a new AngelList profile and subsequently, we are raising our first round of investment. It’s exciting to open up and expand the BRCK family with this step forward, and we look forward to welcoming more of you on that journey. This is an amazing opportunity to take part in redesigning connectivity throughout the world, and for us to build upon the awesome Kickstarter community by expanding our supporters that helped us create this new company.
Our second big piece of news is that we have been working to revamp the BRCK website! The design team has done an incredible job capturing our image and translating the vision. So please feel free to send this around, tell people about us, and give us feedback on this new site. As always your feedback is essential, this is how we learn and grow. Look for some new community features in the coming months and follow the blog for the big updates.
Thanks from the BRCK team!
BRCK Production Update
To our Kickstart supporters and fans of BRCK:
We have had to make a very difficult decision to delay the production release of the BRCK until January. We have been pushing nonstop to get our cases, boards, and software finalized and ready for production – and we are almost there. Unfortunately, we live in a world where small, African, tech companies don’t have the influence to get global component suppliers to meet our delivery deadlines. In particular, we have been unable to secure a timely supply of the 3G modems that are specified for the BRCK. Although it would seem straightforward to simply switch to another modem, the implications of this change effect mechanical design, board layout, and certification – all things that require time to adjust. We are now working with multiple suppliers to find a suitable alternative that we can source in sufficient supply to meet our production demands.
The good news is that we have enough supply of our original modem to allow us to continue with full testing of production BRCK’s. We are planning a substantial expedition at the end of October that will give us the opportunity to put BRCK’s to the test in some of the most demanding environments on the planet. We want to verify every aspect of the operational performance and reliability of the BRCK in real world conditions. Look forward to an update from BRCK in the next few days outlining our plans and giving our supporters an opportunity to follow along as we demonstrate to the world what a BRCK is capable of doing.
Details to come next week, but just something to share with everyone over the week.
Spread the Word, share the Internet of Things love.
BRCK shirts out in the world
Here’s the lovely Chirstopher Neu of Tech Change (@neuguy) sporting his BRCK shirt. If you love your shirt(s) tweet them to @brcknet and we’ll share them on our tumblr.
Share the love, spread the Internet of Things revolution.
Hanging out with BRCK in Paris.
We had a lovely time in Paris at the BSF Urgency of Reading Conference.