Proposal 2012 - 50 Tool Descriptions

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from Proposal 2012

Note: GVCS Rollout has updated information.


This section outlines the 50 components of the GVCS; related problem statement; project status and development needs; development budget requirements.

The comprehensive list is this (Table: item, sector (ag, fab, etc, specific products and services provided, ease of development?)

LifeTrac; MicroTrac; Bulldozer; Power Cube; Multimachine: CNC Mill, Drill, Lathe, Surface Grinder, Cold Cut Saw, Abrasive Saw, Metal Bandsaw; Ironworker Machine; RepTab (CNC Torch Table; CNC Router Table); RepRap; 3D Scanner; CNC Circuit Mill; Robotic Arm; Laser Cutter; MIG Welder; Plasma Cutter; Induction Furnace; Metal Hot Rolling; Moldless Casting; Wire Extrusion; Forging; Modern Steam Engine; Gasifier Burner; Steam Generator; Solar Turbine; 50 kW Wind Turbine; Extraction of Aluminum from Clay; Pelletizer; Universal Seeder; Tiller; Spader; Microcombine; Universal Auger (String Trimmer, honey extractor, posthole digger, tree planting auger, slurry mixer, washing machine); Materials-moving Auger; Hay Cutter; Baler; Hay Rake; Loader; Backhoe; Chipper/Hammermill/Stump Grinder Trencher; Open Source Car; CEB Press; Dimensional Sawmill; Cement Mixer; Well-drilling Rig; Nursery; Bakery; Dairy; Inverter; Electrical Motor/Generator; Hydraulic Motors and Cylinders (50 total)

1-CEB Press

Definition: The Liberator is the world's first, high performance (16 brick per minute), open source, Compressed Earth Brick (CEB) press. It is used to compress clayey soil (20-30% clay by volume) from local or on-site soils into structural masonry (700-1000 PSI) building blocks. The Liberator is a hydraulic press which presses from the bottom to produce 6”x12”x(2-6)” block, and it is fully automatic. It requires only a single tractor operator to produce block – using a front-loader to feed soil into the 6 foot wide hopper. The Liberator is designed-for-disassembly, in that most of the structure is fastened together with bolts. This constitutes lifetime design via easy serviceability, and this allows for crating the machine into a compact package (6'x3'x3') for shipping.

Problem Statement: Housing is the most significant cost in one's life in the Western world. Earth is the most abundant resource that is suitable for the construction of homes. Earth has excellent thermal mass properties, and is extremely durable. Over ½ of the world's entire population lives in some form of earth construction (ref). Many techniques for building with earth1 exist, including cob, adobe, earthbags, earth tubes, and rammed earth. However, all of these techniques are extremely labor intensive – or in the case of rammed earth, both labor and capital-intensive due to the necessity of using forms.

Solution: A CEB press is a solution to rapid production of brick for both natural and industrial-scale construction. Access to CEB machines, along with effective soil-handling infrastructure, allows for rapid, low-cost, high-quality construction from on-site earth. Stabilization with cement may be used for additional weather resistance. Timbrel and other vault techniques may be used to produce roofs out of earth as well. (MIT ref) This has the potential for significant reduction of one's largest, single cost of living, and allows for build-out of communities at minimal material cost. CEB also lends itself to the construction of floors, paved areas, retaining walls, storage structures, or any other structures where a uniform, structural building block is desired.

Further Infromation - Wikipedia, Analysis of Interlocking block construction; Powell and Sons, leading competitor, costs $45k2; The Green Machine; OSE CEB Modular Construction development

Project Status and Development Needs: Full Product Release reached in June, 2010. This is the first Full Product Release from Open Source Ecology. 2D CAD drawings are available in dxf format (ref), but need organizing. 3D CAD, complete fabrication blueprints, and fabrication documentation video need to be produced. Architecture drawings for archetypal CEB houses and other structures, as well as building technique3 best practice documentation, are required to assist others in building with CEB. Documentation of CEB construction workflow and ergonomics is also required, as is full documentation of open business models for: (1), CEB machine fabrication; (2) brick production operations; (3) CEB construction enterprises.

Budget: The budget involved in developing The Liberator was approximately $40k, of which $10k went directly to materials, and the rest covered buildup of the entire facility infrastructure starting from raw land and no facilities.

Basic Specifications for the CEB Press (see supporting information on wiki)

CEB PRESS – hydraulic, micro-processor controlled SPECIFICATIONS Production rate up to 16 bricks per minute Hydraulic fluid flow requirements Up to 28 gallons per minute Brick size 6”x12”x(2”-6”) Hydraulic fluid pressure Up to 3000 psi Tested4 compressive strength of unstabilized/7% cement-stabilized bricks 700 psi/1200 psi Maximum possible comprehensive strength of unstabilized bricks 1400 psi Power source Add-on module


Definition: LifeTrac is a versatile, 4-wheel drive, full-sized, hydraulically-driven, skid-steering tractor of 18-200 hp with optional steel tracks. LifeTrac is intended to be a minimalist but high-performance, lifetime design, design-for-disassembly workhorse and power unit of any land stewardship operation. It features easy serviceability by the user. Its modular nature allows for quick attachment of implements; interchangeability/stackability of multiple power units (Power Cubes) for adapting power level to the task at hand; quick attachment of all hydraulic components via quick-coupling hoses; including quick interchangeability of hydraulic motors for use in other applications. It can be fitted with up to two sets of loader arms. LifeTrac is intended to be used with modern steam engine Power Cube module for fuel flexibility, such that locally-harvested, pelletized biomass crop such as hay, may be used for fuel. Regarding safety features, LifeTrac replaced the traditional power take-off (PTO) shaft for driving other implements with a detachable hydraulic motor for the same purpose, where this motor may be mounted on the tractor, on the implement, or wherever it is required.

Problem Statement – Industrial tractors are being designed increasingly for planned obsolescence with 10 year lifespans, and the user typically cannot service their own tractor due to complexity of design. Power transmission and engine systems are the dominant failure modes of tractors. Fuel costs are a significant expense of operating a tractor. Capital costs of purchasing tractors typically place their users in debt.

Solution – LifeTrac is designed to be the peoples' tractor. The user is able to service, modify, and produce fuel for the tractor. Gear transmission is replaced with a hydraulic drive train, where quick-connect, flexible hoses are the means of transferring power. Lifetime design (bolt-together construction, modularity) with general purpose parts allows the tractor to be passed down from generation to generation, before its life-cycle is completed as feedstock for the induction furnace. The absolute simplest design facilitates creation of small-scale enterprise for manufacturing these tractors in as little as 3 days of time using a RepLab5 facility. This allows communities to be entirely self-sufficient in their mechanical power infrastructures, while reducing lifetime costs of tractors by a factor of at least 10.

Further Information – Tractor on Wikipedia; skid loader Wikipedia; CADTrac; DIY tractors in post-war Poland

Development Status and Needs – We have completed Prototype I and Prototype II, and have secured an order to fund the building of Prototype III. Prototype I (ref) was an articulated version of the tractor without roll cage, and Prototype II (ref) was an enclosed version with tracks and skid steering. Prototype II has demonstrated quick-attachment and stackability of power units (ref), as well as interchangeability of wheel motors and control valves via quick-couplers for repurposing in other applications. A complete 3D model of LifeTrac with correct scaling is available (ref). 3D CAD and fabrication drawings are needed. The next steps are fabrication of Prototype III (ref to be blogged), as well as development of toolpath files for producing LifeTrac with CNC torch table assist. Moreover, minor redesign of LifeTrac lends itself to adaptation as a tracked bulldozer – via addition of chain gear reduction to the direct-coupled wheel drive. The next step is CAD drawings addressing outstanding design issues.

Development Brief for LifeTrac Digital Fabrication - Download the LifeTrac Blender file. Then import it into a professional CAD package like Solidworks to generate 2D fabrication drawings, and further, these drawings have to be converted to toolpath (xy) files for a torch table.

The problem requires virtual dismounting the tractor into all of its structural tubing and plates - the components that we will be cut with the torch table. The tubing is 4x4x1/4" mild steel tubing, and the plates are 1/2" mild steel plate plate steel.

The final step is optimizing the cutting strategy based on available stock steel that can fit on a torch table. For example, we can start with a sheet of 1/2" thick steel, not individual plates, for producing all the mounting plates.

Additional Information – A loader is a bucket attachment to a tractor that can be used for digging or loading of soil and other loose materials. This provides an essential materials-handling operation in any agricuture, construction, or other utility application. For maximum flexibility, we are building a quick-attach version of a loader bucket. We are also designing the bucket to accommodate a tooth bar, the soil pulverizer, and other possible applications. Devopment Status and Needs- We have built a bucket for the soil pulverizer6 prototype II. We need to finalize a quick-attach standard so that all LifeTrac implement attachment is uniform, and subsequently to publish complete fabrication drawings for the loader bucket.


Definition - The MicroTrac is a small-scale version of LifeTrac. It is a solution for small-scale agriculture (acre scale), or where land features require a smaller tool than a full-size tractor. The front mount allows for quick attachment of implements, and like LifeTrac, it uses a dismountable power unit, the Power Cube.

Solution - We are scaling down the full-sized LifeTrac to address the need for a microtractor. We are using most of the same components as LifeTrac, except we are shrinking the strucural members – to retain part interchangeability between MicroTrac and LifeTrac.

Further Information – BCS Tiller

Development Status and Needs – We have produced Prototype I (ref), which was a walk-behind version of a micro-tractor. Weight distribution and balance issues indicate that the development path should migrate to a design similar to LifeTrac, except at ~¼ the size. The next step is CAD drawings for the new design.


Definition – A bulldozer is a high-traction, earth-moving machine indispensible to building ponds, berms, or other earth-moving tasks such as building roads or clearing land.

Problem Statement – A bulldozer is an expensive and specialized machine. Few permaculturists have access to such machines, thereby not being able to perform constructive terraforming activities for improving the ecology of landscapes or for mitigating erosion. Renting a bulldozer costs $500 per day plus transport. Access to a bulldozer allows any community to reduce its infrastructure cost significantly.

Solution – The GVCS involves a ready modification of LifeTrac to make it suitable for bulldozing duty. LifeTrac has already been built with high-traction, metal wheel tracks. To allow LifeTrac to have 4-10,000 lbs of pushing force, the drive on LifeTrac must be geared down significantly (3-10 times). The flexible design of LifeTrac allows for an easy retrofit of gearing chain drive, which allows LifeTrac to be converted into a bulldozer at a cost of about $1k, as opposed to $15k for the smallest available commercial bulldozer.

Further Information – See wikipedia;

Development Status and Needs – The LifeTrac platform is at the Prototype II stage of development, which is sufficient for testing the bulldozer-duty retrofit. We are ready for the design stage of the bulldozer with LifeTrac as the base platform for this development.

5-Power Cube

Definition - The Power Cube7 is a universal, self-contained power unit that consists of an engine coupled to a hydraulic pump for providing power to different devices in the form of hydraulic fluid at high pressure. The Power Cube is a module that can be attached to the LifeTrac, Microtrac, Bulldozer, and Open Source Car (OSCar) platforms. As such, any of these platforms can be used as power sources for other devices, such as workshop tools, power generators, ironworker machines, or any other devices which require a power source. The key to this flexibility is the self-contained nature of the Power Cube, where quick-connect hoses and quick-connect physical mounting allow the Power Cube to be coupled to used with other devices. It has frame-integrated fuel and hydraulic reservoirs. It currently contains an 18 or 27 hp gasoline engine, coupled to a hydraulic pump, and produces fluid flow up to 15 gallons per minute and up to 3000 pounds per square inch (PSI) pressure. It connects to other devices via quick couplers and quick-connect hydraulic hoses. A modern steam engine will be retrofitted as soon as it is developed to allow complete fuel flexibility

Problem Statement and Solution – Power machinery and equipment typically uses dedicated engine units, such that a large number of different engines is required to power a large number of powered equipment. The engine unit is the heart of any powered device.

Solution – By decoupling the power unit from a powered device via quick-attach coupling – it is possible to turn a dedicated power unit into a flexible power module. We have shown proof of concept – in that power units can be shared between different machines. This allows for drastic cost reduction in the overall cost of mechanical infrastructures.

Status – The second prototype of the Power Cube has been built, and we have an order for a Prototype III of the Power Cube, which we will be building at Factor e Farm after April, 2011.

Market analysis - $6k for 10 gpm; $1250 materials cost for OSE


Definition – The GVCS Multimachine is a multipurpose precision CNC machining and metal cutting device. It includes a surface grinder head, CNC lathe, mill, and drill capacity, as well as cold-cut, abrasive, and band saws for metal cutting. The working table is 8 feet long for working on large objects. It is powered by interchangeable hydraulic motors, and it can work along the vertical (mill, drill) or horizonal axis (lathe, saws), and is equipped with an indexing head, rotary table, and digital posting readout.

Problem Statement – A flexible fabrication facility requires a wide array of equipment, and dedicated machinery is typically used. This takes up lots of floor space and involves significant capital cost per each machine.

Solution - The multimachine combines a large amount of fabrication capacity in a small floor space by involving a single structural frame and an oversized, precision motion xyz table. Functionality may be added to this machine when a flexibly-coupled module is added to the machine for each specific function. Thus, the overall machine cost is reduced from a total of about $50k for individual machines to about $5k materials cost for the Multimachine.

Development Status and Needs – We have identified a subject matter expert on precision machining8. Our next step is refining the conceptual design.

7-Ironworker Machine

Definition: An ironworker machine is a device that can cut and punch holes in structural steel on the order of 1” in thickness. An ironworker machine is the central workhorse of any custom fabrication shop, as it allows metal cutting and punching on the time scale of a second, as opposed to drilling or torching, which requires a time scale on the order of a minute. The GVCS multimachine is a 150 ton model that can punch up to 1.5” holes in 1” thick metal, and which can shear up to 12” wide slabs of 1” thickness.

Problem Statement – A professional Ironworker machine costs on the order of $20k9, so it constitutes a significant capital investment for any flexible fabrication shop.

Solution – Open-sourcing an ironworker machine results in drastic cost reduction, allowing an entire RepLab to be produced for under $50k, as opposed to about $400k for the industrial counterparts.

Development Status and Needs - Factor e Farm (FeF) has already built and field tested Prototype I10 of the 150 ton hole puncher. We have gone up to 1” holes in 1/2” steel, and our next steps include destructive testing for the maximum capacity of Prototype I. We have not yet begun on a design of the metal shear component, which we aim to integrate into the existing design of the holepuncher.

8-CNC/Torch Table

Definition – RepTab is an open source, CNC torch table and CNC router table. The torch table has a light frame design, as torching is a non-contact process. The router table version is based on the torch table design, except it is more stiff in order to handle side loads associated with material routing. Both are designed to be self-replicating, in that all the metal required to assemble the torch table can be cut on the torch table itself. The design is bolt-together, such that minimal fabrication is required to build this CNC device.

Development status and needs – Prototype I of RepTab11 has been built, but has not been operated successfully because the radiation emitted by the plasma cutter that was used with the table caused electronics failure. We will finish Prototype I by retrofitting it with open source stepper motor controllers12, which we aim to build from open source plans using a CNC circuit mill for the prototype controller circuit.

9-3D Printer

Definition – A 3D printer is a form of additive manufacturing technology where a three dimensional object is created by laying down successive layers of material.[1] We are building a copy of RepRap, short for "replicating rapid prototyper", a 3D printer which prints in plastic and which can print all of its nonmetal components.

Problem Statement – RepRap is working on optimizing its replicability. Part sourcing and standardization remains a challenge in terms of massive replication of the project. By engaging in RepRap building, we aim to help in this process. There is also a number of spinoffs such as MakerBot (ref) and Ultimaker (ref). OSE's goal is to produce a robust kit package for making RepRaps or similar spinoffs. A robust 3D printer is useful in local production of plastic parts, such as plumbing fittings, electronics cases, molds for casting, and a wide variety of useful objects. It is furthermore useful to generate plastic feedstock for RepRap by recycling of plastic waste.

Development Status and Needs – Peter Koeleman is building a prototype RepRap, both Darwin and Mendel versions13.

10-3D Scanner

Definition - A 3D scanner is a device that can generate a 3D digital file by scanning a real-life object. Such a device is useful to generate toolpath files for application in 3D printing and moldless casting - whereby a replica of a 3D object can be produced readily from an original.

Problem Statement – Open source scanner designs exist14 but they may not be sufficiently robust for generating fabrication files. Existing open source know how should be used as the starting point for designing a high-performance 3D scanner, such as this one.

Development Status and Needs –

11-CNC Circuit Mill

Definition – A CNC Circuit mill is a computer-controlled device that can mill circuits and drill component-mounting through-holes on copper-clad circuit boards. Such a mill provides the ability to produce prototype circuits on demand, which can be subsequently populated with electronic components to produce functioning electronic devices.

Further Information – KiCad circuit board design software for Linux;

Project Status and Needs – We are evaluating a mill design15 for replication, and CubeSpawn16 may be another suitable platform. We need to settle on the most efficient solution: accuracy, open source stepper controllers, open source control code, and efficient G-code. Need to identify effective toolchain for milled board production: board design, CAM file generation, CAM software, computer-mill interface.

12- Industrial Robot

Definition - A robotic arm or industrial robot is a device which can perform certain human tasks - such as welding or milling of castings for metal casting. A robotic arm is part of fabrication automation and optimization, allowing the creation of effective flexible fabrication enterprise. A robotic arm may be used to reduce human toil or dangers to human health. It is an important part of RepLab.

Problem statement - In the context of sustainable communities, the robotic arm is one of the enablers of flexible fabrication. In centralized production, a robotic arm means loss of jobs. In the shift of the economy to distributive production, it is important to develop an open source robotic arm to handle a wide array of flexible fabrication tasks. While many open source toy robotic arms exist,17 economic significance arises from developing an industrial-scale robot. The goal of this project is to develop such a robot at a cost of under $5k in parts for a heavy-duty robotic arm, as an open source variant of the most advanced industrial robots that cost $100k and up.

Further information - Moldless casting is a casting process for making metal parts, where instead of using a mold, the casting sand with binder is milled with a robotic arm. This allows one to produce castings with computer control assist, on demand, without having to spend time to prepare a mold. Molds are made typically by placing an object into a container, then packing casting sand around the object, and are the bottleneck in the casting process.

Development Status and Needs – We need to recruit a subject matter expert to consult on the project.

Development Status and Needs – We are looking for a Subject Matter Expert to design the open source robotic arm.

13-Laser Cutter

Definition - A laser cutter is an industrial machine that can make precision, finish cuts in a wide array of substrates including metal. A laser cutter is particularly useful for precision cutting that does not warp the metal.

Problem statement – A laser cutter is useful in flexible fabrication operations, but costs $30k18 and up for a 100W model. To this end, the Kickstarter-funded Lasersaur project appears to solve this issue. We are interested in a higher power laser cutter for sheet metal cutting - on the 1 kW scale. Well-organized resources on DIY lasers do exist19, and the key is to identify an SME to help work out a complete open source design.

Status – We are recruiting an SME to consult on the project.

14-Open Source Welder

Definition – a MIG welder is a device to bond, or weld, metal by that uses a handle which feeds a wire that is shielded by inert gas. The inert gas prevents weld corrosion in the presence of air. The typical cost is $2k for a welder capable of welding 1” steel. The MIG welder is a key flexible fabrication tool.

Problem Statement – An open source MIG welder will allow for lifetime design and easy maintenance of this key tool. The MIG welder power supply may be designed as a universal

Development Status and Needs – We are currently developing a conceptual design of a MIG welder system. We are assuming that a power generator will be used to provide the electric current.

15-Plasma Cutter

Definition – A plasma cutter is a device to cut metal using a plasma torch.

Problem statement – A plasma cutter is essentially a power supply and a cutting torch. Because power electronics are inexpensive, a power supply for a plasma cutter can be built for about $200 in components. The power supply design should be part of a Univeral Power Supply pattern language.

Solution – To address the need of a wide range of power electronics components in village building enterprises, we are pursuing a Universal Power Supply, wherein a plasma cutter power supply is one of the functions.

Development status and needs - Concept design advisory team is needed to refine a conceptual design based on proven techniques.

16-Induction Furnace

Definition – An induction furnace is is an electrical furnace in which the heat is applied by induction heating of metal. The advantage of the induction furnace is a clean, energy-efficient and well-controllable melting process compared to most other means of metal melting. It allows one to melt scrap steel, thereby providing the capacity to produce virgin metals from scrap feedstock. The flexibility of an induction furnace arises from the ability of an induction furnace power supply to power a wide range of coil geometries for different heating and melting purposes – from the same power supply. An induction furnace is the core of the RepLab package.

Problem Statement – A new 300 kW induction furnace costs about $300k off-shelf (ref), for a melting capacity of 1kg/kW/hr (ref). We believe that we can produce a power power supply for the same at a cost of $5k, given baseline component costs of $1/kW for power-handling transistors.

Further Information – Comprehensive survey – Handbook of Induction Heating, V. Rudnev et al.; includes references (ch. 8) on induction heating power supplies. Melt rate data should be available in this book.

17-Metal Rolling

Definition – Metal rolling is a metal forming process in which metal stock is passed through a pair of rolls to produce a desired shape, such as flat bar, angle, or u-channel, from a given feedstock. This step can be used with billets produced by an induction furnace to generate structural steel sections. Rolled metal can be combined with welding to produce tubes.

Problem statement – Metal rolling is a centralized industrial process that is done in large-scale (kiloton per day) steel mills. We aim to open-source this technology for use in small-scale (ton per day) flexible fabrication facilities which allow local communities to produce virgin metal from scrap feedstocks.

Development Status and Needs – We are recruiting an SME and organizer for this project.

18-Rod and Wire Mill

Definition - This is a process for making metal rods and wire. This is a subset of metal rolling, used to make shafts, rebar, thin rods, down to wire. Thin wire can then be produced by wire drawing through a die.

Further Information – Rod and Bar Rolling: Theory and Applications, by Y. Lee

Development Status and Needs – We are looking for SME consultants.

19-Press Forge

Definition: Forging is the shaping of metal using localized compressive forces. The simple example is using a hammer and an anvil. Press forging is the application of a shaping die to form metal by applying a continuous pressure or force.

Development Status and Needs – The preferred method of heating is induction heating for flexibility, so the induction furnace is a prerequisite to forging. We are seeking an SME consultant on forging.

20-Modern Steam Engine

Definition – The steam engine is an engine wherein a heat source is used to turn water into steam, and the steam in turn moves reciprocating pistons to provide motive power. The steam engine is an external combustion engine, meaning that fuel combustion does not occur inside the piston, but instead provides heat to a steam generator which feeds the working steam into the engine cylinders. The steam engine was the source of power behind the industrial revolution of the 19th century. The steam engine was replaced by the internal combustion engine in the 20th century, and in the 21st century a water-lubricated steam engine has been developed with thermal efficiency nearing the top diesel engines on the market today.

Problem Statement – The advantages of steam engine include multi-fuel capacity, lower emissions, carbon-neutral operating capacity, water lubrication (no engine oil is required), and quiet operation. The main advantage from the standpoint of resilient communities is self-sufficiency in fuel provision for power needs, including the possibility of using steam engines as the heat engine of choice in solar thermal concentrator electric systems. The problem is that most people associate steam engines with outdated technologies. We aim to demonstrate that an open source, modern steam engine can be a viable and practical engine choice with environmental advantages.

Solution – Developing a scalable, water-lubricated, high efficiency, open source modern steam engine is a worthwhile contribution to humanity.

Other links - military robot that eats biomass

Development Status and Needs – We have recruited an SME20 for the project, and we are working on a funding proposal.

21-Gasifier burner

Definition – A gasifier burner is an efficient burner that is used to heat the Steam Generator for use with the Modern Steam Engine. This burner is designed to handle pelletized biomass via an automatic hopper, and it can also burn any other solid fuel.

22-Steam Generator

Definition – The Steam Generator is a device that genearates steam with a monotube coil, heated by the gasifier burner.

Problem Statement – A steam generator is the heart of any steam engine. If it designed to be compact, efficient, and lightweight, it can serve as the feed system for stationary or mobile steam engine systems.

23-Solar Concentrator

Definition – The Solar Turbine is a solar thermal concentrator (STC) electric system which produces electricity from sunlight. It works by concentrating solar radiation onto a receiver tube by using mirrors. Focused sunlight heats up water to generate steam, which in turn powers a modern steam engine to produce electricity.

Problem Statement – STC electric systems are a commercially-proven technology, which is commercially feasible in sunny areas such as the Southwest USA. Our goal is to reduce the cost of producing such systems by open-sourcing this technology. If the cost of this technology is reduced by a factor of 2, then STC electric systems will be feasible in areas with half the insolation of sunny areas. If this occurs, then STC electric technology will be feasible in most of North America and in most other parts of the world. We aim to reduce the cost not only by a factor of 2, but by a typical factor of 4-8 that we have observed with open-sourcing of other technologies. This indicates that such systems will be feasible not only on the power plant scale, but on the scale of individual homes – providing a robust and inexpensive solar energy solution to most parts of the world.

Solution – Our preferred choice of technology is the linear fresnel reflector (LFR) type solar concentrator system, which uses flat, low-to-the ground mirrors as the reflectors. The primary costs of STC systems are structural costs – which dictate that the requirement for the most economically-feasible system must be a system that optimizes structural costs. The low-lying linear structure of LFR systems fits this criterion, and the LFR design is the most cost-effective option compared to parabolic, dish, or other curved reflector systems.

Proposal Brief -

24-50 kW Wind Turbine

Definition – A wind turbine is a device that produces electrical power from wind energy, where the wind turns propellers that drive electrical generators.

Problem Statement – Wind is an environmentally-benign source for generating electrical power. While several plans for small (kW scale) scale exist (ref), these do not come with open source charge control systems, and no proven designs exist for larger (tens of kW) wind power systems. Our goal is to produce a scalable 50 kW system, including blades and associated power electronics - as the smallest implementation of a system for a community of 10 housing units.

25-Extraction of Aluminum from Clay

Definition – Clay consists of aluminosilicate. Aluminum may be extracted from aluminosilicate via a closed-loop leaching process. This process may be used to convert abundant clay into aluminum oxide (bauxite), which is then smelted by the traditional Hall-Herault process to make pure aluminum.

Problem Statement – Aluminum is the most abundant element in the earth's crust, and closed-loop production of aluminum from clay is desirable from the standpoint of enabling local metal production in any community with a clay resource. The solution to this capacity is the

Solution - By using the solar turbine for electrical power generation, 2000 lbs of pure aliminum may be produced in a 6000 square foot facility. The energy requirements of this aluminum production process may be covered by a ¼ acre solar turbine system.

Proposal Brief – A prototype bench-top model which demonstrates the production of 1 lb of aluminum per day from clay may be deployed within a budget of about $35k:

ITEM COST Consulting fee for SME 100 hours, or $10k Facilities cost at a supporting laboratory $20k Reagents $1k Dedicated Equipment and Suppleis (labware, Hall-Herault process cell) $4k TOTAL $35k

To continue the project, a pilot plant may be built for about $60k, not counting the facility structure and heavy equipment for materials handling: ITEM COST Process equipment – materials preparation $5k Process equipment including inert container vessels $20k Mechanical systems $20k Ion exchange system $5k Hall-Herault process cell $10k TOTAL $60k

The operating costs of a facility that produces 2000 lb of aluminum per day are approximately $100 per day plus labor.


Definition – A pelletizer is a device that compresses small particles of biomass or other substances to compact, flowable pellets. We are developing a rotary die pelletizer, where pellets are made by the action of a stationary roller upon a rotating die. We are developing a scalable pelletizer, at ~$800 materials cost, compatible with the LifeTrac power infrastructure, capable of producing 6000 lbs of pellets per day. This volume of production allows one to produce about 500 gallons-equivalent of fuel for tractors and cars in the form of pelletized biomass, or pellets for other applications, such as fertilizer, feed, and other purposes. This system produces at least $1000 of value per day.

Problem statement – Biomass is the most productive and ecological fuel source known to humankind, yet fossil fuels are being used instead of the more ecological alternative. Humankind has not yet demonstrated the feasibility of biomass as a replicable fuel source because: (1) biomass-burning engines are not available; (2) people have not figured out a way to produce biomass fuel without infringing on food crop production.

Solution – By transitioning to biomass-burning, modern steam engines, and by designing perennial polyculture food systems with biomass byproduct, it is possible to address the 2 issues presented in the problem statement. To address the second point, it should be noted that polyculture systems may be designed to produce higher yields than annuals, where both food and fuel crop is considered simultaneously. Moreover, biomass is carbon and materials neutral, as carbon emitted in biomass burning is absorbed by future crops, and minerals in the biomass are recycled into the soil by returning the ash back to agriculture fields. While this solution may appear pedestrian, we are pursuing this as proof of concept that biomass fuels, combined with solar turbine electricity, are sufficient to meet energy and fuel needs of modern civilization.

27-Universal Seeder

Definition – A universal seeder is a tractor-pulled seeder than can handle any seed, from small seeds like clover to large seeds such as potatoes, with spacing either as field crop or row crop. The Universal seeder is scalable in swath width and seed size handling ability.

Problem Statement – Specialized seeders are currently used for different crops. For example, a seed drill is used for wheet, another type of seeder is used for corn, and another seeder is used for potatoes. There is no universal seeder that can handle all types of seed. We aim to develop a swath-scalable seeder that can handle all types of seeds, thereby simplifying the equipment infrastructure required for integrated farming operations.

28-Rototiller and Soil Pulverizer

Definition – A rototiller (ref) is a rotating tiller – a tractor implement that tills soil via rotary action at ~200 rpm. It is used in a one-step process for preparing soil for planting. A soil pulverizer is a fast rotating tiller (~600 rpm) that is used to pulverize soil to a fine consistency, in preparation for pressing Compressed Earth Bricks (CEBs).

Problem Statement – A rototiller is one of the many implements for a tractor, and is part of a general agriculture infrastructure. In the GVCS program, the rototiller is an add-on module to a front loader, with interchangeability of hydraulic motors to provide different speeds. The rototiller can be fitted with different tine sets for different purposes, such as tilling for agriculture, weed control, soil puverization for CEB construction, and others. In the soil pulverization function, the tines could be chains – such that stalling of the tines in hard soil is eliminated completely.


Definition – A spader is a set of mechanical shovels that prepare soil for planting without causing a hardpan typical of rototiller tilling. The spader is the most advanced form of mechanical cultivation.

Problem Statement - Agricultural spaders at the 40 hp and above range are expensive ($10k and up). An open source version has favorable cost reduction properties, especially if detachable hydraulic motors are used.


Definition – A micro-combine is a small-scale combine, with a cutting swath of about 2-6 feet in width. A combine is a combination harvester (cutter) and thresher, and consists of a cutting element, auger, rotating drum for threshing, and a fan for winnowing.

Problem Statement - A micro-combine is useful in small-scale agriculture (acre scale), where a full-sized combine is too large or where land features prevent the use of a full-sized combine. The micro-combine should be adjustable readily for different crops, so that it becomes feasible for farming operation to produce a diverse array of grain crops. This is currently not feasible in modern agriculture, where the cost of a combine, and difficulty in adjusting a combine to multiple crops, eliminates diversified field crop operations from existence. Moreover, combines and microcombines are expensive ($25k and up, new (ref)) Used combines are not recommended due to mainenance costs, as dictated by their complexity. A flexible, low-cost micro-combine could enable Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) (ref) operations to diversify into grain production. The Micro-combine may produce grain for the Bakery, beans as a staple food, seed crops for oil extraction, or seed for planting cover crops – among others.

Solution – A hydraulically-driven combine with independently-driven sickle bar, augers, drum, and fan is both easier to fabricate than a standard combine, and easier to adjust because each component may be adjusted independently.

31-Universal Rotor

Definition – A universal Rotor is a tractor-mounted rotor that can be fitted with a wide array of toolheads. The Universal Rotor is designed to be mounted vertically in the up or down orientation, horizontally either to the right or left, and in the forward orientation for a wide array of tasks: String Trimmer, honey extractor, posthole digger, tree planting auger, slurry mixer, washing machine, power take-off, stump grinder, rock drill, and a number of other purposes. It must feature heavy-duty construction and easy change of orientation.

Problem Statement – A large number of implements consist of a motor with some kind of a rotor attached. These implements are typically sold as complete units, but hudraulic drive allows for wide adaptability in the range of uses for a single rotor with interchangeable motor and bits. Thus, it is useful to have a single rotor, with a couple of motors and a wide array of working rotor elements, instead of a large number of dedicated implements. The existing design with tractor implements is not far from using a set of electric hand drills where every hand drill has a dedicated drill bit, instead of the drill bits being interchangeable with a single electric hand drill. Cost reduction by a factor of over 10x is feasible by using this strategy, as there is no point to have an entire set of dedicated implements when the only difference in these implements is the nature of the work head. Special application – One special application of the Universal Rotor is a materials-moving auger is a device for moving materials via screw action of a screw-shaped flighting. This is relevant to pellet feeders for pellet burners, for collecting cut hay in a baler, for moving grain out of the threshing drum of a combine, and for many other materials-moving operations.

Problem statement – By designing an auger as an attachable module, one can use a single basic design in a number of applications. An auger is an important materials handling device whose production should be open-sourced to allow for low cost maintenance of one's equipment base.

Solution – A flexibly-designed, overbuilt, single rotor is sufficient to accommodate a wide range of functions at less than 1/10 of the cost of dedicated implements.


Definition – A baler is a device that compresses hay and other light materials into more compact bales (cubes or rolls). Hay bales and straw bales are used as storage of biomass crop for animal feed. A baler is an essential part of any integrated agriculture opration.

Problem Statement – We are designing a flexible baler for use with the LifeTrac infrastructure. This bales is hydraulically driven, so that it does not require a power take-off shaft. We are considering hydraulic cylinders for the compression mechanism, since that is a simple and robust way to perform the compression function. We are interested in designing a modular, design-for-disassembly baler, where each major component is attachable as a module, such as: (1), hay cutting module; (2) materials-moving auger; (3) compression chamber; (4) tying mechanism.

Development Status and Needs – The baler is being designed in a modular tool with detachable hydraulic motors. We have not done any design work on the tying module yet needs to be developed.

Conceptual Diagram and Proposal Brief -

33-Hay Rake

Definition – A hay rake is a mechanical implement for a tractor that rakes hay or other light materials into windrows or other formations for drying or baling.

Problem Statement – A hay rake is an essential part of any agricultural operation where biomass haying is required, such as for food, fodder, or fuel production.

34-Hay Cutter

Definition – A hay cutter is a device that cuts grass, has, straw, or other light biomass. It is part of haying equipment, haybines, silage equipment, mowers, and agricultural combines.

Problem Statement – A cutter has a number of moving parts and is subject to failure. Open source, modular hay cutters solve the need for easy self-maintenance and adaptation to many devices, from combines to balers, reducing infrastructure costs as part of an 'Industrial-strength Lego Set'.


Definition – A backhoe is a piece of excavating equipment or digger consisting of a digging bucket on the end of a two-part articulated arm. It is an implement for digging trenches or large holes in the ground for foundations and other applications.


Definition – A tree chipper or wood chipper is a machine used for reducing wood (generally tree limbs or trunks) into smaller parts, such as wood chips or sawdust. A hammermill is a machine whose purpose is to shred or crush aggregate material into smaller pieces via the action of swinging hammers.

Problem Statement – To maximize flexibility, a flexible chipper or hammermill may be designed such that a universal rotor mounted on 2 ends may be used with interchangeable blades. Thus, a single device can function as a hammermill, chipper, or other shredding device. To make this feasible, a quick-interchange mechanism must be designed. The esiest route is to slip the blade set on and off the shaft, by removing mounting bearings.


Definition – A trencher is a piece of construction equipment used to dig trenches for laying pipe, cable, or drainage. We are building a rock wheel style trencher for trenching in soil and rock.

Problem Statement and Solution– A trencher is a useful piece of equipment for infrastructure-building. We are designing a low-cost, 40 hp version with 3 foot digging depth for about $500 in parts, using the rock wheel design, which is simpler than a digging chain design.

38-Open Source Automobile

Definition – An automobile or car is a wheeled motor vehicle for transporting passengers.

Problem Statement – A car is a useful human invention for on-demand, personal transport. However, cars contribute significantly to carbon dioxide buildup in the atmosphere, as well as to pollution, congestion, and resource conflicts over liquid fuels. We are designing a high-mileage (75+ miles per gallon), modern-steam, biomass pellet-fueled tilting microcar. This design addresses the car congestion issues of modern civilization, where a tilting microcar can more than double the vehicle-handling capacity of roads – which is not only a nice idea but a critical one to handle the mobility needs of growing human populations.

Development Status and Needs – To integrate steam power, biomass fuel, and car chassis development, we need to gather a development team. The Steam Automobile Club of America is a resource with a diverse array of practical and state-of-art talent. To this we need to add the development of a tilting chassis. We have already recruited an SME on the modern steam engine21, which will be our first prototype of the steam engine, to be scaled up to Power Cube requirements.

Further Information and Resources – Hyrban open source fuel cell car

39 – Open Source Truck

Definition same as automobile, except it is a larger version for trasporting heavier loads.

40-Dimensional Sawmill


Definition – A dimensional sawmill is a circular blade sawmill for producing dimensional lumber. It consists of two blades attached at a right angle to one another, allowing the production of a dimensional member in one pass of the mill.

Problem Statement – Efficient production of dimensional lumber is desirable for creating the built environment from local resources.

Solution - The dimensional sawmill is a higher yield solution for producing dimensional lumber compared to chainsaw, band, or circular sawmills – as it produces a dimensional piece of lumber in one pass as opposed to two passes, and is capable of processing a log of any size. A dimensional sawmill can also work both in the forward and reverse direction, thus being capable of producing 4x as much wood as a single-edged band sawmill.

Further information – Dimensional sawmill in action - video; peer review of OSE dimensional sawmill at TractorByNet;

41-Cement Mixer

Definition – A concrete mixer (also commonly called a cement mixer) is a device that homogeneously combines cement, aggregate such as sand or gravel, and water to form concrete.

Problem Statement – To optimize the ability to produce concrete on a small scale, a self-loading mixer with weight-batching of ingredients is desirable. The speed of on-site concrete production can be increased by 30% - 40% by the use of a mixer with a batch-loading hopper. This enables the ingredients for one batch to be assembled while another batch is mixing, eliminating the time lost by shoveling materials directly into the mixer drum. Such a mixer may also be used for mixing of other substances, such as soil cement. If it is built sufficiently heavy, it may be used for pulverizing applications such as ball milling.

Development Status – We have identified a subject matter expert who has experience with batching cement mixing systems, and are currently following up on conceptual and CAD design on the wiki22.

42-Well-Drilling Rig

Definition – A well-drilling rig is a device for digging deep water wells.

Problem State1 ment – A water well drilling rig that can dig 300 foot deep wells costs $50k and up (ref), outside of consumer models of dubious performance ($5k, Rockmaster ref). There is no robust, open source well-drilling rig available, outside of shallow, manual drilling rigs (ref). For hydraulic rotary drilling, effective mud pumps are expensive. We aim to open-source the well-drilling rig, to enable DIY water well digging up to 300 foot depths, at a cost of $2k in materials.

43-Bakery Oven

Definition – A bakery is an establishment which produces or/and sells baked goods from an oven, such as bread and burritos. It is also an excellent small enterprise. In our case, we would like our bakery to diversify into

Problem Statement – Bread is an important staple, and Wonderbread doesn't necessary cut it as nourishing food for resilient communicates.

Development Status and Needs – We need a subject matter experts to design a pellet-fueled gasifier oven, open source dough machine, tortilla machine, pasta machine, potato and corn chip procution, process design, and product line for an integrated grain product operation.

44-Dairy Milker

Definition - A dairy is an establishment used for the harvesting of animal milk—mostly from cows or goats—for human consumption. Dairy products include butter, ghee, cheeses, yogurt, kefir, and others.

Problem statement – Goats and cows are relatvely easy to manage, but managing these efficiently is much harder. The open source dairy includes milking machines and efficient design of the operation, especially rotational fencing strategy.]

Development Status and Needs – We need to recruit someone with experience in livestock management, dairy operations, and dairy processing.

45-Electric Motor/Generator

Definition – An electrical motor/generator is a device that functions as a DC motor when energized with DC voltage, which can also function as an electrical generator when it is spun.

Problem statement – A range of different DC motors and generators are required to generate power and to drive different devices. For our purposes, we need a generator for the 50kW wind turbine, Solar Turbine, and Modern Steam Electric Generator, Power Take-Off Generator. We also need items such as electric motors for common appliances; low-speed, high-torque pancake motors; electric car motors; fan motors, pump motors, etc. Having a universal Electric Motor Construction Set is a great asset to any community. Such a construction set would be applicable to the design and fabrication of any type of electric motor.

Development Status and Needs – Rotor and core fabrication, copper winding, scaling strategies, electromagnetic simulators for modeling motors, and other aspects of electric motor and fabrication need to be developed. Subject matter experts familiar with electric motor and generator design need to be recruited.

46-Hydraulic Motors

Definition – A hydraulic motor is a mechanical actuator that converts hydraulic pressure and flow into torque and angular displacement (rotation). A hydraulic cylinder (also known as a linear hydraulic motor) is a mechanical actuator that provides a linear force. These devices are the core of drive systems for hydraulically-powered equipment.

Problem Statement – With access to CNC machining techniques and other automation, it is possible to fabricate hydraulic motors at low cost. It is useful to reduce this cost in order to produce low-cost hydraulic devices.

Development Status and Needs – We need to identify a subject matter expert with experience in hydraulic motor/hydraulic cylinder design and fabrication

47 – Bioplastic Extruder

Definition – An extruder takes a charge of plastic and extrudes a sheet or other profile

Problem Statement – Local bioplastics production is a benign contribution for providing local resilience. This involves production of bioplastics from plants and extrusion of these bioplastics. Greenhouse glazing is a particular application, as is irrigation tubing. With CEBs, lumber, and bioplastic glazing, the cost of building greenhouses can become negligible.

Development Status and Needs – We have identified a subject matter expert who can design the screw and provide CAD of the device.

48 – Universal Power Supply (UPS)

Definition – This is a combination inverter, converter, pulse-width modulation current controller, and high frequency power supply for applications from off-grid power, charge controllers, to power supplies for welders, induction furnaces, and plasma cutters.

Problem Statement – A large range of power electronic devices is desirable within the infrastructure of resilient communities. Having an individual power supply for each is redundant and expensive. A modular UPS construction kit is desirable as an analogue to the 'industrial-strength Lego' that we have already demonstrated for mechanical infrastructures.

Subset Definition – An inverter is an electrical device that converts DC voltage from batteries to AC voltage for off-shelf electrical tools and appliances.

Subset Problem Statement – Off-shelf inverters have about a 2 year lifetime (ref), and 5-10 year lifetime for higher quality models (ref). Lifetime design inverters with plug-in replacement components are required for sustainable communities which use battery storage for electricity. The only other feasible, non-battery, non-fuel energy storage may be via heat storage coupled to thermoelectric generators.

Development Status and Needs – We need to identify a subject matter expert with experience in inverter design.

49 – Nickel Iron Batteries

Definition – Nickel-iron batteries have 100 year lifetimes, compared to a few-year lifetime of lead acid batteries. They are environmentally more benign, and lend themselves to local recycling and fabrication. They have higher discharge rates and faster charge times than lead-acid batteries, so they lend themselves not only to off-grid power, but also to power electronics applications such as welding and heavy workshop power. Their energy density is half that of lead-acid batteries, but their long lifetime makes them highly relevant to the GVCS, including to electric farming equipment as the next generation of LifeTrac infrastructure.

50-Permacultural Nursery

Definition – A permacultural nursery is a genetic repository which can be used in efficient self-replication of its entire stock. This nursery includes the 5 kingdoms. For plants, it focuses on useful and edible plants such as fruit, nut, and berry plants, as well as perennial vegetables, herbs, and other useful plants. For our purposes, the nursery provides all the genetic stock for creating hea

Problem Statement – It costs approximately $3k (ref) to provide all the genetic stock for a full, year-round diet for one person. However, once the genetic stock is available, it is self-replicating. With human management and access to agriculture and processing equipment, a full, year-round diet can be provided.

Development Status and Needs – We need a person experienced in plant nursery operations and raising of livestock, from chickens and fowl to goats, cows, pigs, fish, worms, fungi, microbes, algae, and other life forms.