Open Source hardware offers free plans for equipment that the poor can build and maintain themselves for 1/8th the price of the big brand names!
* Do you know people who need free plans to make their own cheap industrial equipment? The Open Source hardware movement is like the Open Source software movement, offering free information and training on how to build your own industrial equipment from easy mix and match parts. They design machines that are so simple and easy to build and maintain, a local village workshops could build most of them.
* They have plans for a tractor, bread oven, drill press, torch table, earth brick maker, harvester, string trimmer, soil pulveriser; indeed, up to 50 of the most important industrial tools that operate as a ‘civilisation starter kit’.
* Do you live in or have contacts in a 3rd world nation that would love to make their own tractor and drill press and laser cutter, free of expensive multinational service contracts? If the local workshop could build them from readily available and interchangeable parts, then it is also quick and easy to maintain. There is no waiting on that part from Germany or Korea! Indeed, that widget might be waiting for you in your neighbour’s garage in a real emergency.
* Then meet Open Source Ecology.
* Open Source Ecology have $2.5 million in funding, and are moving full speed ahead!
* The information is free, but you must supply the parts and materials yourself, preferably recycled from local metal scrap and junk yards and parts workshops. This prevents cash going overseas into some giant multinational, but stays and employs local people where it does more good.
* Even with sourcing local parts and labour it is still roughly 8 times cheaper than buying corporate brand names! For example, to buy a new tractor in America is anywhere from $25,000 to $120,000. The OpenFarmTech.org tractor was only $12,000 — and that money largely went to local suppliers.
* Designed for built-in longevity — NO built-in obsolescence! Finished products are more durable than industry standards.
* Once you have built it you know how to repair it! Build it for life. Multinational corporations cannot lock you into expensive service contracts.
* When you can build it from local materials and local *generic* parts, you liberate yourself from being locked in to expensive and very *specific* name brand parts from overseas. EG: In building the Power Cube (their basic engine for everything from the tractor to the workshop) you are free to mix and match with any brand of solenoid or hydraulic pump as you wish, as long as they meet the specifications. There’s also no waiting for overseas parts — fix it today instead!
* Parts are fully interchangeable. That might make for some unusual looking stuff, but at least it works! It’s like a giant Lego set, so once someone has built the drill press they can probably gain the confidence to move onto the egg incubator, earth-brick maker or the truly awesome, military looking tractor!
* This could save lives! Just 13 parts makes the 30 of the most important machines they’ve built so far. If I discover our old lawn mower has finally lost that rare widget, and I cannot find a new widget to replace it, I might just buy a new lawnmower. When a poor African farmer breaks an important part of his tractor, he can’t just buy a new tractor. He’ll lose too much money to buy a new tractor, and needs his tractor running so he doesn’t lose this season’s produce! This could be the difference between his kids going to school or not, or, if desperate enough, this could be the difference between them eating or not! But when you built your tractor from the same modular parts that you built other farm equipment from, then you can probably swap out the piece that day, or borrow it from your neighbour down the road, or visit the village that day and borrow it from the workshop. Because everyone will have these parts! Disaster averted.
* Includes plans for some cheap local renewable energy systems. It is better for an African village to have some intermittent, irregular wind power than have no electricity at all!
* Please pass this on to any Aid Workers or Missionaries you know in poorer parts of the world that might need a little help getting started, or even recovering from a natural disaster!
* 4 minute TED talk
* Video site and blog
* Wiki that links to plans and other resources