Africa Pilot

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The pilot demonstrates that a large team of unskilled workers can build a small, practical utility tractor (MicroTractor) in ONE DAY. A team of 50 people led by 4 OSE staff cuts and drills metal, welds, and assembles the tractor from start to finish. 25 people work on the tractor, while 25 more people work on the Power Cube engine unit in parallel. In the background, a large 3D printer will be printing the rubber tracks or wheels - as well as other minor components such as handles and seat. The tractor is ready to drive at the end of Day 1. On the second day, the same team builds the spader implement for preparing soil - and the gasifier infrastructure. The gasifier includes the gasifier proper (an attachment for the Power Cube), and a stationary biomass processor involving a hammermill, pelletizer, and charcoal maker. The spader is run on the second day, and the MicroTrac Power Cube is used to power the hydraulic Hammermill and Pelletizer to produce biomass pellets, followed by their conversion to charcoal in a charcoal maker. On the third day, we run the entire system on Charcoal generated on Day 2.

The overall package demonstrates the feasibility of advanced production from open source plans - and that such production can be taught readily to farmers and makers who are not engineers and who do not have fabrication skills before they enter the build.

The tractor, spader, gasifier, and fuel production infrastructure are designed for DIY production. This means that the design is as simple as possible and requires the lowest number of fabrication steps. The design also allows for use of common, off-the-shelf parts - as much as possible. Fort his, a significant investment is required in design-for-simplicity without compromising performance.

If successful, the next phase of the project involves designing an open source, 3000 square foot, off-grid microfactory capable of producing such tractors using 100% open source equipment. This addresses the issue that any technology development project in an area without industrial supply chains must substitute for the missing supply chains, otherwise supply chain issues make the economic model unsustainable. As such, the microfactory provides its own power via PV and charcoalm, and uses 100% open source equipment designer for owner-build and owner-maintenance. Moreover, the microfactory is located on 40 acres of land that provide 100% of the fuel, food, and water to sustain the microfacory and a small village of workers. The 40 acres would be managed regeneratively so that soil health improves while generating all biomass fuel - in a regenerative way.

Budget Narrative

The vast majority of cost involves is staff for design and prototyping. To allow for a 1 day rapid build - critical for demonstrating that machines can be built effectively by large, unskilled teams - a lot of effort must be spent on simplifying to the simplest design - but no simpler - while designing the production engineering for a large group build.

The time in development is worthwhile if we want a reliable machine system. OSE has experience with the tractor (see Tractor Genealogy, power cube (see Power Cube Genealogy, Ironworker, and Gasifier. We have not built the spader, pelletizer, or hammermill yet. The machine system proposed constitutes an integrated product ecology - and it is the product ecology that makes the package impactful. Integrating machine and fuel production would be a significant milestone.

The documentation effort is also important, so that the participants are guided not only by the instructors, but also by language-agnostic instructionals.

Basic Components

  • Microtrac traction machine with PTO and rotary spader
  • Solar 3D Printer, 1 meter, for printed rubber tracks or wheels. Powered by solar panels.
  • Day 1 is build of machine with 50 people and simple stock steel and off-the-shelf components
  • 6 welders, 6 oxyfuel cutters, one hole puncher are used as the main tools. These are opensourced in the next phase after the Pilot - the Open Source Microfactory
  • Gasoline Engine Power Cube powers 2 generators for the 6 welders.
  • 300W PV panel runs the printer with non-heated bed for printing rubber


  • Microtrac with 16 hp or 32hp Power Cube
  • Rotary spader attachment, with hydraulic direct drive
  • Has Hydraulic Power Take-off (PTO) for running implements
  • No loader arms - just basic traction machine
  • Requirement of 3D printed rubber tracks or wheels.
  • Gasifier attachment
  • Runs on regular gas or charcoal pellets
  • Charcoal Pellets are produced locally: Hammermill, pelletizer, and burner
  • Hammermill, pelletizer are run via MicroTrac power cube as additional imiplements from the PTO, demonstrating a power system with a Universal Power Unit for low cost


  • November - Hire 4 full time engineering staff
  • November - Deploy incentive challenge on HeroX based on admissible OSE part libraries and OSE design language
  • December-March - Design, prototyping, and system integration work
  • Mid-March - Pilot pre-build - USA integration at Kansas City or Texas base to test all components
  • End of March/Early April - 3-day Africa Pilot build. 1 day setup on site. Arrival 2 days early.



  • 6 welders - $6k
  • 6 oxyfuel cutters - $3k
  • Tractor materials - $3k (or $6k for high end engine)
  • Spader materials - $2k
  • Ironworker machine - $3k
  • 3D printer materials - $2k
  • 2 Generators, 10kW - $6k
  • Hammermill - $1k
  • Pelletizer - $1k
  • Charcoal maker - $2k
  • Thermoplastic Urethane (Rubber) pellets - $1000 bulk
  • 20% cost over-run

$33k subtotal

Prototyping Materials

Materials for developing machine prototypes prior to the Africa build

  • Tractor - $6k
  • Spader - $4k
  • 3D Printer - $2k
  • Hammermill - $2k
  • Pelletizer - $2k
  • Charcoal maker - $4k

$20k subtotal


  • Project integrator - 640 hours at $50/hour - $32k
  • 4 full time engineering staff, 4 months = 4 x 640 x50 = $128k
  • 2 months of documentation - 1 person $50/hr - $16k
  • 2 months of fabrication - 1 person @$50 - $16k
  • Admin support - $25/hour , 2 full months - $8k

Subtotal - $204k

Shipping, Travel

  • Container+Shipping - $10k
  • Travel - $2k each for 5 people - $10k
  • Accommodations, 5 people - $2500

S22.5k subtotal

Grand Total: $280k

Not Included

  • The 50 African volunteers are not included in this budget
  • Site and facilities are not included in the budget

Staff Notes

  • 1 full time engineer @$50/hr- 4 months to update MicroTrac CAD with Power Cube, and prototype deployment
  • 1 full time engineer @$50/hr- 4 months to design, prototype, test the spader
  • 1 full time engineer @$50/hr- 1 month on Hammermill, 1 month on Pelletizer, and 1 month on gasifier implement for the Power Cube, and 1 month on charcoal maker
  • 1 full time fabricator @$50/hr- builds MicroTrac, spader
  • 1 full time project integrator @$100/hr -
  • 1 full time documenter - 2 months @$50/hr - produces detailed Language Agnostic build instructionals
  • 1 month full time on build instructionals for the Microtrac, Power Cube
  • 0.5 month - Spader, Hammermill, Pelletizer
  • 0.5 month - Charcoal maker, gasifier add-on


  • Collaborators from Africa are required to install OSE Linux and take 2 hour Crash Course of FreeCAD and OSE Development. Thus, they are placed directly into the OSE development framework for appropriate technology.
  • Leverage Public Design program deployment for libraries/schools - collaborate with schools on design of simple tools in the West.
  • Leverage incentive design platforms to augment the design effort.
  • Build integrated product ecologies for maximum impact.
  • Copy machine for common local production approach as opposed to elite design of FabLabs


  • All design is open source, OSHWA compliant
  • No NDAs