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Bootstrapping the GVCS - priorities
  • Right now we're all racing to complete the various "top 50" machines that comprise the GVCS. So far the "top 50" is the only impetus the team has to go on as to what the priorities are.

    Clearly the Global Village Construction Set are the machines which are important to build a village, but there also needs to be a clearly defined subset of machines which are important for building the Global Village Construction Set itself. In other words, just like when you press the power button on a computer, there is a specific boot sequence.

    We need to identify the boot sequence for the GVCS and figure out what our blocking items are.

    Depending on each of our individual circumstances, there will be several boot paths. Marcin for example was on a farm, and his immediate needs were a tractor and shelter, which resulted in those being built first. The upfront tools and cost associated with building those might not make sense for other people, especially if they already have a workshop. So what I'm saying here is that, while there be may be no one "right way" to do it, 2 or 3 different logical paths can be identified.

    These need to be identified and we need to at the minimum give them visibility as to what they are, who is working on them, and what the unmet needs are. Then people can either choose to focus on those areas or branch off to prep things so they are ready when needed.

    On the flip side of all this, requirements need to trickle down in the opposite direction: the more advanced machines will dictate what the tools need to be able to make.

    Yes, I have seen a few diagrams showing how everything connects together. I've also seen the table on the Main Page of the wiki showing kind of a hierarchy of machines. But I think we need something more concrete and kind of an action plan. We should also identify what off-the-shelf tools are used to bootstrap things before the whole system is up and running, so that everyone can follow the same path.
  • 22 Comments sorted by
  • You are right on there Jason.  This is being worked on but how much energy is there to get it done quickly I don't know at this time.  We have pretty loose footing as it stands right now.  Lots of well meaning people going off in all directions.  The will is there to change this, that much I know.

    Something that needs to be done and I hope it will be sooner than later, is a list of items that we as a group assume will be purchased rather than made.  For instance, I hope there is no one out there that thinks we should make our own nuts and bolts.  This would be foolish since they are readily available everywhere for cheap.  More examples would be sealed bearings, shafting, engines, motors, tires, wire, steel, saw blades, hydraulic cylinders and pumps and so on.  We need to use these items creatively, not remake them.  Some day, a decade down the road, we can look at these items again.

    I would go as far as to say that everything should be purchased unless we can clearly define why they shouldn't.  Rather than what seems to be the trend now which is defending why we shouldn't make something.  We should have very clear reasons for building anything.  Many seem to have the attitude that if we can build it, we should.  If we can automate it we should.  I feel exactly the opposite.  If there is a real need to do so, then list why.

    If indeed the goal is to bootstrap up quickly, we need to concentrate our resources where they will do the most good.

    I would like to propose we come up with a smaller selection of tools to get done first.  A Wiki page with a list of questions defending why a tool should be on that list or not.  Maybe less than 10 tools in the end.  Ignore the rest of them till the "Stage 1" tools are completed.

    I also feel that the vast majority of shop tools should be purchased at the moment.  The last thing we need right now when there are orders to fill, is to work with home made tools when commercial ones are much better.  There is plenty of used equipment out there on Ebay and Craig's List.  No need to pay top dollar.

    One small issue I might have with your comments is that we all share common needs.  You may not need a building built at the moment but it's still one of the basic needs that we all have.  Just because someone doesn't have a certain need in their life at the moment doesn't mean they shouldn't contribute to help out the cause in general.  If I've misread you, I apologize.

    Thanks for your input.

    The Dawg

  • My comments are not so much related to absolute needs, but on priorities. One person might not be able to contribute to or replicate a particular thing, for example, unless they take care of their own blocking items. Different "types" of people will have a different order of blocking items. We should identify the most common blocking items for different "types" of people. We need not only open hardware, but also an open implementation path.

    I also agree with your comment about hand tools. We need to make a list of all standard hand tools needed to make the first machine or two, with which we make the third machine, etc.

    We also need to standardize on alternatives to the open tools as well. For example, lets say we can make motor controller boards on the circuit making machine. Problem is, the circuit making machine needs motor controller boards to work. So we need not only a standard open motor controller board design, but also an agreed upon off-the-shelf motor control system. We'll need these types of duplicates for a lot of what we do. The off-the-shelf systems chose also need to be compatible with the open source versions we make as well. For example, the open source motor controller board should be compatible with closed source motors, and the open source motors need to be compatible with the closed source controller board.
  • I've started a topic on, what, in my view, is high-priority right now: the XYZ table.
  • The priority would be a combined XYZ table for both metalshaping and plastic 3d printing above all else. The fabricator doesn't necessarily have to be a single machine, it could be a set of machines. The important thing is that it needs to be able to replicate itself. Later on, that should include a plastic supercapacitor and plastic microchips for DIY computers from wholecloth. The fabricator set has to be able to replicate itself as wholly and cheaply as possible for truly viral growth of the project. Autocatalytics is paramount. And a fabricator would be a starting block that could be copied and distributed, and then make all the other sets of machines from itself and adequate materials. Achieve that, and the project can spread and grow exponentially. The fabricator produces the metal working tools to further shape metal, which then eventually allows the construction of the heavy MfGs like motors and tractors and robot arms. A low cost fabricator that can replicate itself, make a CEB press, which in turn creates a shelter would very much be a viral village model.

    The CEB press as it is now is focused on the presupposition that a tractor and hopper and such would be available. I think a lever action single man operated press at lower efficiency should come before the higher productivity 'Liberator' when a tractor and conveyor to feed the hopper for the automized press becomes available. Redundant equipment is fine, because it's not required that everyone build everything. This would allow for the multiple paths you mentioned, with the primary path being materials, fabricator, and land acquisition for low money, built up into a home and some basic tools, with the heavier equipment available later.

    Also, has anyone considered a tractor (or ATV) pulled wagon rather than a full on heavy duty (but very cool) truck? I'm not sure that a push towards heavy machinery is the right path for ensuring the viral spread of the project. I think the focus is very much on low, low, low costs and should be consistent in that regard, with an aim at building up to the heavy machinery like the tractor and autopress and truck.
  • @Dawg, I agree that it is important to buy what we can-- I think people are forgetting that the goal of the project is to allow people to plug into the global economy, not to equip them to remove themselves.

    @Jason, I agree with your point as well.  Perhaps it would be useful to have people make "personal-needs lists" where they state what they hope to do and what they would need to do it.  Obviously, being on an individual level, rather than community level will impact it slightly, but it should give a clear idea of what we need to focus on.

    @Hilscher, the focus is on low costs, but not low costs period, rather it is on low costs for that product.  A poor example might be that in the food world, if your focus is just on low costs, you should eat rice every day, but if your focus is on a low-cost, home-cooked hearty meal, then you start looking at a roast and some veggies.  The meal might be expensive compared to rice, but it is much cheaper than going out to a fancy restaurant.  To that effect, I would say that the focus is not "on low, low, low costs".

    (Sidenote, what happened to being able to "name" more than one person in a comment? Only the first name goes blue.)
  • @ARGHaynes If you hold that "the goal is not to equip [people] to remove themselves [from the economy]," then that's a schism. People should be equipped to be self sufficient if they need or want to be. The GVCS is about localized, DIY production of even heavy equipment. That is diametrically opposed to globalization and a global economy. I am new here, I don't know this community, but I know that you are wrong when you say it is about plugging into the global economy. And I know anyone who agrees with that is also wrong.

    A viral village implies a production cost so low that it can steal from the market share of suburban ranch homes. Livable homes at an overwhelmingly low cost. A virus is a molecular machine that costs so much less to produce than an entire cell with a nucleus and all the other molecular machinery, that with those resources it is able to produce countless copies of itself and spread faster than any cellular life form could. A virus is a rule breaker that is cheaper by orders of magnitude than its competition, and it is a very very good analogy for what is being striven for here.

    Although, for this project to go truly viral means that people's souls have to be electrified by something. An idea that they can do it for themselves. Yes, that means being equipped to drop out of the corporatist economy and be self sufficient if and when the need or desire arises. Else, anyone can go and find a company that will build them a nice CEB home just as they would any other home. What are they going to do, build lifetracs in their garage and sell them to get into their subdivided, contracted, and mass produced home? Because that would be plugging them into the globalized economy.
  • @Hilscher, I am confused by what you mean by "schism".  The last schism I participated in was in 1054.  What are the two parties in question?

    It is true that the GVCS could equip people to form insular, xenophobic groups, but more importantly, it equips individuals to step into the global marketplace as an individual, freed from artificial restrictions placed on information.

    I am taken aback by the boldness of the end of your first paragraph.  "I am new here, I don't know this community, but I know that you are wrong when you say it is about plugging into the global economy. And I know anyone who agrees with that is also wrong."  It seems like you simultaneously acknowledge ignorance about OSE and then make an extreme claim concerning its very purpose, in the process of which you condemn me and anyone that agrees with me.  I would like to hear more about what you believe and what qualifies you to make such powerful claims.

  • What qualifies you to speak with authority on what this open source project is or is not about? You are no more qualified than I and are obnoxiously carrying on as if you are, which is incidentally very hypocritical. My argument against your destructive logic is what qualifies me to make the claim that you are wrong. The fact that you are wrong qualifies me. The fact that I am here qualifies me. I don't need qualification and authority arguments have less value than the shit you lick off of boots daily. You ignore my argument because you have no answer to it, and make authority appeals which I pre-emptively denied you in my previous post. From what I can see all you can do is apply labels to things to make them seem less appealing rather than address the actual arguments.
  • This is fun!

    @Hilscher, I've never licked boots...

    Just to make sure I understand, you are new here and know nothing about me or my involvement with the project, but you know I have no authority to speak and that I am a hypocrite?  How am I obnoxiously carrying on by responding to your statements and asking questions?  How does your disagreement with my ideas make you an authority in any topic of your choice?  I don't recall ignoring your argument, I recall asking for more information.  What did I label to avoid an argument?
  • Again you desperately attempt to mischaracterize the argument rather than face it. You're right, this is fun. I said you have no more authority than I, and are carrying on as if you do. Which is still apparent even now as you talk about 'you and your involvement.' It wouldn't matter if you were Marcin himself, that wouldn't prevent you from being dead wrong. Unlike you, I'm not making authority arguments. I'm making real arguments like the fundamental and requisite nature of a 'viral village,' which you ignore or call xenophobic because your meager intellectual assets are unable to properly refute or respond to them. You seem more and more like a coward with every post that you avoid intellectually honest argument.
  • I think so many years of such backwards thinking in economics has made it difficult for the average two people to even communicate with each other. When I took economics 101 in college, they had a graph with the independent variable on the y-axis, and the dependent variable on the x-axis. The guy teaching it was backwards in his thinking as well. From that point onward, I knew the whole thing was f'ed up.

    Lets not hijack this thread, which is on a very important topic. Lets figure out how to bootstrap this thing and get some machines built. We won't truly know whats feasible or what the implications are until we start welding and bolting things together. Until we've got some hard designs being replicated, theoretical and esoteric agreements or disagreements aren't relevant.
  • @Jason, good point, I got carried away.  
    @Hilscher, I will happily continue this conversation elsewhere.  The main reason for this is because I am still interested in your point and look forwards to hearing you elucidate upon it.

    Please allow me to exit by acknowledging that I misspoke.  Mentioned in the OSE_Contract, in addition to discussing that the community will have to "[compromise] to various external dependencies,"  and that "the presence of the internet, global trade, and neocommerce will make places such as FeF tied in deeply into the global community."  It clearly states that a goal of the OSE is to create "a complete, localized economy."  My apologies.

  • @Jason Well, obviously I agree with the idea of merging a 3d printer and a torch table, and possibly other functionality as part of a core group of machines that could be a starting point for producing all the rest. But you started this thread for the design, right?

    The GVCS might not be 50 or 40 machines. It might be as few as 5 with all the other ones coming afterwards. Hundreds or thousands, eventually, but all from a very small set of core machines of which the XYZ table (fabricator) would be foremost, turning raw materials into other machines. It doesn't have to be able to directly reproduce its own parts, as long as it could create the machines that could perform that task, as a set. For example, most metal equipment will require the various other machines in the GVCS for manipulating metal such as the ironworking machine and welder. Cost of raw materials could be reduced by a furnace and stock roller.

    To have at least one path to go from a small set of affordable equipment to larger sets capable of replicating the original equipment and then a full set down the road of hundreds of products means that the project can spread virally, as is intended. Sadly, prototypes of the basic set has to be created first, to find out exactly what that path would look like. But I very much believe that it starts with the XYZ fabrication table for metal, plastic, and chip making. That would be a reprap capable of producing not just plastic components but many metal ones and perhaps even its own motor control chips out of plastic microchips with the proper R&D.

  • I would like to thank to everyone that has been helping with OSE development, it's amazing what's being done here!

    Most things seem to already be covered but they're scattered around in various places so it is hard to find all of the specifications. Basically it looks like Marcin is on the right track but it hasn't been explained clearly enough. Here's what I see with the first level technologies.

    Maximum production for meeting primary needs with minimum cost and labor. Primary needs = Shelter, Water, Food, Energy, Tools. The focus seems to be on minimizing constant external inputs/dependencies. Selling technology that meets people's needs can be economically productive and should be focused on to kick start the rest of development. The decision of what amount of production versus the cost and labor that is needed for a particular technology seems to be more intuitive than calculated right now.
    Buying off the shelf parts and tools wherever possible. Things seem to be focused on production as soon as possible. High performance low cost hand tools and materials are not available yet so buying off the shelf is cheaper and faster until technologies that provide primary needs are done.
    Make things only if they are required for other technologies, or for much faster or much lower cost production and they are low enough cost if built off the shelf, like the torch table for producing Lifetracs and Liberators and more torch tables. Also the technology should be already proven to be highly productive.

    Second level technologies would use off the shelf tools and components for making tech to replace off the shelf components in first level. Even later tech would replace the second level with tech built from scratch.

  • @Hilscher Do I know you?  You seem awfully familiar...

    I agree with the argument that we should purchase quality tools and try to refine the scope of the project in order to increase our likelihood of success.  I would even go as far as suggesting that we should attempt to test the whole system by building a community with purchased equivalents and then using that community to slowly phase out the purchased equipment and replace it with the Open Source models.

    Additionally, while it is possible and strongly desirable to reduce our dependence on global markets the distribution of commodities prevents any stable society of even moderate complexity from completely withdrawing from the global commodities trade.
  • @Hilsher
    I like your description of having the few core fabricator machines, which are used to make somewhat larger machines, which are used to make larger ones, etc. This is like an ascending spiral.

    While making circuit boards definitely makes sense, I think making the ICs themselves doesn't make much sense right now. Unless you know something I don't, it seems like a terribly complicated process. Melting silicon at super high temps, vacuum chambers, deposition, clean rooms, laser photo etching, etc, etc, for a $3 part. Also, I don't know a more efficient sector in industry than the PC sector. Talk about rock bottom prices.

    Your concept of different stages, where you get to one level that produces something valuable before transitioning to the next level makes a lot of sense, and I think is similar to what many of us are saying. You even add in the factor of producing a certain tech and selling it to fund further development of additional tech. That turns the whole process into a self-sustaining enterprise.
  • @Jason
    Thanks, that's right, it's pretty much what it looks like Marcin is doing right now with building out stuff and what he's talked about in various places.


    Also it looks like some of the calculations for production versus cost have been made but they are also scattered around in different places. Basically the goals seem to be to make it so that a village of about 200 people can meet all of their needs, calculate how much production is needed for that many people per year, then how much labor time each method will cost to produce that much while leaving the people with enough free time left over after everything is done. If a technology can't produce enough in enough time for the people to do other things then a more productive tech is needed even if the initial component cost is higher. So that would explain the reason for the Liberator, Lifetrac, torch table, sawmill, etc. and not larger or smaller machines.

    A search for "rationale" on the wiki has some useful pages will come up:

    Here are what look like some of the main tools to work on currently:
    Torch table (for faster and easier production, low cost off the shelf components)
    Power cubes (easy to produce power, low cost off the shelf components)
    Lifetrac + tools (provides utility for Liberator, easy to produce, low cost off the shelf components)
    Liberator (shelter, meets primary need, needs power and utility, easy to produce, low cost off the shelf components)

    It's basically what Marcin is doing right now. The above tools make a basic ecology that can allow these parts to be even more important:
    Legal framework (important to protect OSE and enterprises from legal problems)
    Open source business plans (for replicating enterprises, can feed donation money back into OSE development, can put more people in positions where they can support OSE)

    Other important things can then be completely focused on:
    Steam engine (energy is very important)
    Solar concentrator (for steam engine)
    Well drilling rig (water, primary need, could have a high production/cost ratio compared to closed source designs)
    Permaculture/agriculture/farm food ecology planning (food, primary need)

    With those tools people's primary needs will be more easily met, OSE ideas will be spreading, and it will be easier to fund the next phases of development. Then more open source tech can be made to reduce the cost of those machines even more.

    It's good for everyone to develop whatever they feel like developing, and if you can help with the immediately needed tools then that's even better!

  • @ OmniPhoenix - Excellent write up.  I will be proposing this as our "first wave".

    Anyone have any other projects to add to the First Wave?  Must be corner stone items that lead us directly to primary needs like food/water, housing, power.  At this point I think everything else is just icing on the cake.

    The Dawg
  • @Dawg

    I've got one thing: a roof. I started a thread here. I think we're on the right track here with stage 1 of the project. The path the project takes might not necessarily be the same as the path a replication of the project takes, but for now its close enough to move forward. I really like what we're doing here with distilling the priorities into distinct stages/phases/waves.
  • Thanks Dawg!

    I had an idea for how to think about it more simply:
    Wave 1: Tech that lowers the cost of needs, made with off the shelf components.

    Wave 2: Tech that produces wave 1 tech components for lower cost, made with off the shelf components.

    Wave 3: Tech that can reproduce itself and the wave 2 tech from scratch.

    This path would be like starting from the end result of making tools that produce what is needed (and in the amounts that are needed) and working back to what specific/specialized tools you need to produce those tools. Kind of like calculating the supply needed based on the demand. The level of demand seems kind of assumed but is also based on some amount of study in that an "about 200 people" scale is found in multiple independent "studies" to be a stable number for a sustainable group in different situations of business, communities, etc. This would seem to limit the market share of OSE enterprises though since all of the technology would be designed to meet a particular amount of demand. The technologies are supposed to be made to be scalable though so supposedly they should be able to scale up to supply more if necessary, which maybe is based on the amount of resources put into constructing the tech. Would you need a giant CEB press or would it be economical to build dozens of Liberators to produce a large supply of bricks? The Liberator infrastructure (power cubes and Lifetrax (how's that for a plural? ;) etc) would also be multipurpose where the giant CEB press would have a lot of resources tied up into it and it would require them all up front when it was made but would probably require less labor to operate, although since the Liberators are automatic a system could be made that automates more of the process (like a conveyor system that can load many at a time) while keeping things modular. For example the power cube and the steam engine seemed to have designs for being hooked together to add up power for more powerful/larger machines like a large earth mover.

    Another path would be to make versatile tools and work forward with what the tools can create. Ironically that actually seems kind of limiting since you might need different or more powerful tools to make the technologies in the sizes you find out you need later on. Kind of like building a supply and hoping it's enough to meet the demand later on? In such a case the tools should be designed so they are versatile enough to scale up or down depending on the demand, along with the amount of resources required to make the technology. Would designing such versatile machines take more time and resources than starting out with more specialized machines with multipurpose infrastructures?

    Great insight! There are the primary needs, but what are the major components of meeting those primary needs? Which are the most expensive and would benefit the most from open sourcing? Could the means of producing those be made much cheaper or is the cost low enough to buy off the shelf for now? An analysis of that would help point out where effort could be focused.

    For example we know shelter is needed but what are the components of an effective shelter, or a water system, or a food system? What are the different existing ways of meeting that need? What seems like the most effective way that also meets OSE specifications? How can the materials for that way be produced according to the OSE specs? Are the materials currently cheap enough to buy off the shelf so it can be prototyped quickly? Which part is the most expensive and could the prototyping cost be lowered significantly by open sourcing the means of producing it?

    Also in different areas most needs will probably need to be met in different ways which might need different technologies. However a technology will need a primary stake holder to prototype the designs on the ground. The stakeholder/prototyper will probably need to be very dedicated to the development, so they stick around and prototype the design to completion and don't bail out early. As Marcin kind of weirdly said in some places they need to "eat their own dog food" which I guess means living with the design and getting first hand experience of what the problems are and how it could be improved. Since we know Marcin is dedicated enough to stick through the development process we could consider him the primary stake holder for most of the technology right now and the needs of living in Missouri at first for technologies until there are people that can be considered primary stake holders/long term developers in other areas where other technologies might be needed.

    You guys are coming up with some great ideas, thanks again!
  • In the stepper motors thread, vann posted a great blogpost giving some details on the organizational structure and current technical needs (halfway down the page):

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