WHEN LOCKDOWN BOREDOM LEADS TO NEW INVENTIONS: Iraqi musician makes a solar-powered camera

In his small store in Baghdad Street, central Nasiriyah, Haider al-Fatlawi is busy trying to make a surveillance camera out of scraps of other devices.

By Alaa Kouli and Murtada Al-Houdoud, in Nasriyah

The 49-year-old’s hobby of repairing electronic devices led him to make a solar-powered surveillance camera. Most of the time, al-Fatlawi works as a musician and also runs a store that hires out sound systems for events. As a hobby, he collects the remnants of older devices of all kinds and tries to upcycle them to make something new and useful.

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a recession and, thanks to the imposition of a nationwide curfew, the venues that al-Fatlawi used to supply stopped holding weddings, birthdays, concerts and other larger gatherings. As a result, al-Fatlawi had a lot of free time for his hobby.

He came up with the idea of building a solar-powered surveillance camera that could work when positioned about 60 metres away from his business.

“It took me ten days to assemble and manufacture the camera,” he told Al Menassa. “Then I set it up inside my store, attached a solar cell to it and I was able to receive a decent image and sound.”

When other locals heard about it, they too wanted a camera like al-Fatlawi’s. After this, the erstwhile inventor kept working on improving the cameras, eventually making devices that could be operated 500 meters, then finally 5 kilometres, from their base. Farmers and security forces could easily find a use for it.

Since then, al-Fatlawi says he has received about 150 orders. The cameras cost between US$200 and US$300, depending on the distance at which the camera is expected to operate.

Al-Fatlawi’s next project: He’s updating obsolete land line phones by upgrading their circuitry. But for now, he’s not telling anybody how.

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