In early 2008 Webb Mealy began development of a panel cooker, known as the Tennis Ball Cooker. He had seen photos of traditional parabolic style cookers being used in Nepal, and thought he could develop a cooker that would be lighter and less expense to produce. He was concerned that it should be able to be more easily transported, and with a low profile, be better suited for use in windy areas.
The construction of the cooker incorporates the creative reuse of materials. The base panel is made from recycled heavy-weight foam core panels that is 1/2" thick with a plastic laminate surface on one side. Then fifty-six used tennis balls were split and hot-glued onto the panel on approximately 6" centers. A mirrored vinyl film was cut into 5" squares and applied to used CD cases. Using a laser, he was able to aim the mirrors at a common focus point about thirty-two inches above the platform, and then glue them into place. Cooking pots are suspended above the panel with a recycled drum support stand.
Audio and video
- Tennis Ball Cooker Webb Mealy describes the project in more detail. Two short videos demonstrate its cooking power.