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Open Source Civilization Starter Kit

02/26/2012 1:55 PM

Marcin Jakubowski PhD has invented a starter kit of farming and industrial tools that can be made by the do it yourself method. The information is open source. He claims that this equipment can be easily and quickly produced, at 10 to 20% of retail cost. He started a small farm after university, and his used tractor broke. This started him on his quest. The whole scheme seems wonderful to me. The idea is that these plans can be used in any area worldwide; enabling poor people to produce low cost equipment. What do you think of his quest, and its prospects for wide success. Link is at opensourceecology.org/

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#1

Re: Open Source Civilization Starter Kit

02/26/2012 2:16 PM

I think his quest is fine.

I don't know how many "poor people" need a CNC mill or a plasma cutter. All that microelectronics may suffer. It also implies that there is lots of electrical power available to run all this stuff.

This looks like more of an urban survivalists project than a "save the world project".

Interesting, none the less.

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#2

Re: Open Source Civilization Starter Kit

02/26/2012 3:51 PM

I think if they have enough food and water, they can take it from there....but figuring out innovative ways to do things is always time well spent...imo

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#3

Re: Open Source Civilization Starter Kit

02/27/2012 1:35 AM

They're having fun. Looks like urban survivalists, with some home shop machining thrown in for good measure. Trying to reduce the cost of a machine by making a substitute. In a nutshell, they are trading $ for their own labor.

Good excercise, but unless you have access to cheap materials-used or low quality new, you spend a lot...checked the prices of hydraulic cylinders or hydraulic motors lately? And there's the time/skill factor...If I'm a farmer and need a tractor I don't think I want to figure out how to build a tractor, unless I have the time and tools to do it and can find a way to eat while I build my tractor.

Mr. Phd who started this probably would have been better off buying a manual and fixing his used tractor. He would have been money ahead.

This is playing--not helping 3rd world people.

Jon.

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#5
In reply to #3

Re: Open Source Civilization Starter Kit

02/27/2012 12:53 PM

Third world people have a lot more time than they do money. Money is the biggest lack. They have the intelligence, the motivation, and the need. How many urban or rural North Americans or Europeans would even seriously consider building their own machinery. Third world peoples can often find scrap metal, and abandoned machinery to scavenge for parts. These plans are simple, modular, and even use one engine for multiple implements. I think the three good answers you got are interesting. They certainly make sense for the wealthy nations, but not for those who are living in poverty, and have no hope of buying new or used equipment. That is the target audience for the open source and similar appropriate technology pioneers. I would like to see some more constructive ideas.

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#9
In reply to #3

Re: Open Source Civilization Starter Kit

02/27/2012 8:46 PM

I agree with Ronwagn, after looking at the package - this is very relevant to third world communities. What use does the urban survivalist have for a backhoe or a combine? Should the third world community be limited to farm equipment and exclude CNC, because this is an 'urban' preoccupation? Nonsense.

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#10
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Re: Open Source Civilization Starter Kit

02/27/2012 9:19 PM

Ya gotta walk before you can run. CNC is only around because it eliminates the labor of people. Unless, of course, you are into multi-axis machining, for complicated stuff like ship propellers and the like, but the first world did that by casting long before CNC was available. And they did NC work in WWII by putting a man on each handwheel of a plain mill and a third guy calling out positions to move to.

If you want your third world guys to do CNC, fine. But they need to know how to fix it if it breaks down. And get parts. Thats hard in the wilds of East Armpit, Nowheresville, somewhere in Africa. Better to use stuff they can deal with themselves.

They also have to build stuff they can use. In most of the 3rd world countries, the preoccupation is to get food on the table. Playing with CNC to turn out driveway signs doesn't work over there. Using a forge to make gardening tools like shovels and hoes and rakes makes way more sense.

Someone said there are metal artisans all over the place in 3rd world countries. Yeah. So why aren't they building tractors? Because it's "artisan" stuff. They're doing this stuff from the medieval end--semi sorcery and casting amulets and the like. Well, maybe they cast a few pots. It needs to move forward from that.

There needs to be some semblence of organization to pull it all together. That guy doing the metal casting needs to be shown that he can also cast lathe beds...and someone else shown how to work that lathe bed into a usable lathe. And someone else to want the service of the lathe and foundryman to make parts for a hand-operated well pump. and so on.

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#4

Re: Open Source Civilization Starter Kit

02/27/2012 11:44 AM

Certainly well intentioned. However, I propose a 1 meter cube of 100 kg (liftable by a man and woman) that would contain items such as books, drawings, slide rules, electronic parts (& explained), battery parts, acme screws & thread forms, gears, formulae, math, science, nature books, survival pamphlets, chemistry elements..... you get the point. I would be interested to see what this CR4 puts together. The fore mentioned items were examples only. Many items could be of light weight wood or plastic for gear and thread profiles. I would suggest parts only, rather than complete devices (except for print media). The environment for opening the box would be no refined fuel or electricity available.

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#6
In reply to #4

Re: Open Source Civilization Starter Kit

02/27/2012 2:41 PM

Mog has an interesting suggestion: A civilization "Rosetta Stone" information package.

It has lots of ramifications: How do we structure it? Is it to be made up of information that a third world person could use? Is it to be arranged for a person of a "after armageddon" world, where we all have been bombed back to the stone age?

A consideration would be to make the info package like a Russian doll--open one layer and there is another inside. In this case, the first layer is printed material, which gets the user to the level of, say, reading microfilmed material. The microfilm would get the user to reading a CD or memory stick, etc. That way the info package could contain the entire knowlege of the human race.

Its usage could be nefarious, however. Imagine a Hitler type getting it--he would have a hammerlock on civilization for a long time, at least until the citizens could get hold of equal technology to fight back with something more than slings and arrows. The info packages would have to spread all over the planet so no one dictator could hang onto the information themselves.

Turning to third world applications, I don't think we need an information package. I follow the "teach a man to fish"... idea. would suggest we consider training people the machine technologies and equipment that Europe and North America had at the turn of the century. (I carefully exclude medical and pharaceutical tech--they deserve modern stuff, just like us!-After all, they are humans! We have to help a lot more here.) But the older tech is easier to learn and implement, with fewer people. Wasn't it George Whitworth who figured out how to make a surface plate, accurate to millionths of an inch, with no significant measuring tools, by using the "make 3" technique? For those of us not in the know, a surface plate is one of the basic setup tools for a machine shop.

Metal casting is another basic technology. You can take scrap metal and melt it down to form stuff you want--like machine tools, tractor frames and the like...A lot of the countries we are trying to help are war torn so have lots of scrap metal laying around in the form of war equipment. This doesn't take a lot--a basic charcoal cupola and some rudimentary firebrick. To illustrate my point, there is a small book publisher in the US by the name of Lindsay Publications who publishes reprints of a lot of turn of the century machine tool stuff (and pre WWII electronics info, too) becasue of this very reason. Their focus is the home shop machinist, tinkerer, etc, who can handle a lot of this technology in their garage. Here's a link.

Once one has the ability to make machines, then that village or civilisation or country has an open ended ticket to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. They are limited only by their intellectual creativity.

Jon.

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#7
In reply to #6

Re: Open Source Civilization Starter Kit

02/27/2012 3:02 PM

Very good idea! Thanks, I ordered the catalog.

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#8
In reply to #6

Re: Open Source Civilization Starter Kit

02/27/2012 8:33 PM

A lot of interesting ideas raised in this post.

On the 'nefarious' side, I'm afraid this is all too typical in spite of wide distribution of the Rosetta tech package - most of them would be destroyed or lost in the circumstances of 'post-Armageddon', so there is always this risk - not a reason not to do it, however.

In the third world context, though, you speak of metal casting as if it is a high technology unknown to the uneducated. This isn't the case afaik. Metal casting has been practiced for a very long time, in the same countries that are 'war torn' or 'third world'. The artisans of metal trades remain and are still active in those countries (if or when not taking shelter from active war!). Whether they are salvaging metal from battlegrounds, I can't say. There's a lot of metal lying around in human civilization, pretty much everywhere.

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#11
In reply to #6

Re: Open Source Civilization Starter Kit

03/01/2012 11:22 PM

I got this catalog, and enjoyed it. Northern Tool (northerntool.com , Grainger (grainger.com) etc. are also useful.

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#12

Re: Open Source Civilization Starter Kit

03/16/2012 2:54 PM

If you want to see a good example of how it is done in third-world situations by someone who is resourceful rather than rich, check out this site:

http://williamkamkwamba.typepad.com/

and read the book written about William Kamkwamba, the "Boy Who Harnessed the Wind." Quite interesting reading.

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#13

Re: Open Source Civilization Starter Kit

03/21/2012 8:06 AM

hello all,

i have looked at this material previously. to me the big thing about what they are doing is the open design aspect. it is very similar to what we do here at CR4. they do go farther though. here we just talk about subjects. there they do hands on and allow anyone to work with their designs. the result is your input may be massaged by people all over the world, who think about, redesign, build and post their results so that success is shared by all. to me, this is all a win, win situation.

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