A universal mechanical power source is one of the key components of the Global Village Construcgtion Set – the set of building blocks for creating resilient communities. Marcin Jakubowski, PHD, Open Source Ecology
Marcin, over at Open Source Ecology, is a starter (an entrepreneur, risk taker, organizer, leader, innovator, etc. focused on building resilient communities). Instead of building a venture focused end users like Stacy (with her Backyard farming), Marcin is working on building the modular tools (the equivalent of physical platforms) that are required to rapidly achieve local self-sufficiency. Here's a short video on his efforts to build a universal mechanical power source using hydraulics called the "powercube." The idea is that a device like this can be used to drive everything from workshop tools to fabrication equipment to utility vehicles, using a simple plug-n-play hook up.
The above video not only demonstrates not only the powercube but the open source tractor Marcin's team has built.
Why reinvent these tools?
Almost all of the tools that Marcin and his team at OSE are working on can be found in the commercial marketplace, so why reinvent them? Here are some of the reasons:
- Cost. OSE's tools are inexpensive relative to commercial equivalents. Modularity via plug-n-play design allows tool modules that have similar functionality to connect to each other. This eliminates the excessive duplication and cost of single use commercial items.
- The ability to build these tools from scratch. Given that the design is open source, there are no idea monopolies to pay taxes to. Further, it's way that allows those working on a bare bones budget to substitute sweat equity for financing.
- Low cost maintenance. All of the tools are designed to be quickly repairable. Not in the time it takes (easy accessibility) but in the simplicity of the parts needed to fix it (off the shelf or something that can be fabricated).
Another good question is why is this happening now? Here are some reasons:
- The designs can be shared with others via the Internet. Everyone can benefit from the effort going on at OSE. The reverse is also true. A small team like this could never pull off a project of this scope without all of the innovation made possible by fellow tinkerers across the Web (and those that directly provide ideas to the OSE team).
- The plunging costs of CNC fabrication make it possible to make many of the parts used in the manufacture of these tools in a small, local shop.
- Low cost sensors and computer controllers (like Arduino and reprap) make it possible to build complex devices at a very low cost.