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Towards 50 GVCS Tools by 2013
  • 111 Comments sorted by
  • Vote Up0Vote Down
    November 2011
    @mjn  I haven't give up on the concepts OSE stands for, and I will most
    certainly contribute to those ideas, but I wasn't feeling like reaching
    for my wallet to hand Marcin anymore cash without a clear & truly
    open accounting of where the funds actually go to.

    I notice that OSE EU is reporting that we've now "saved Solar Fire" --
    while I don't know all the details about what happened to the Solar Fire
    project, I truly question why I should donate cash to a project that
    cannot generate electricity at a $/watt cost less than what I can
    already buy photvoltaic cells for...!?!??  Yes, OSE spent money on it
    before, and for whatever reason, they had a parting of ways, and OSE was
    out of it, but why did we get back in?  Any place that has sufficient
    insolation to power it would also be capable of powering a bank of solar
    cells for less money or more power...

    They keep asking for donations on the one hand, but then turn around and
    show the few examples where they are spending money but not really
    spending it prudently with much forethought or consideration, & I
    could go blow my spare cash on a wild night out with my wife, and at
    least get a hug out of it ;)

    Yes, it's Marcin's baby, & he gets to say how the funds are spent,
    but he doesn't take council from any of us on that (either), so I'd
    avoid monetary investments/expenditures in that direction, until it is
    at least appearing like a more open process or looks like there is
    someone else allowed to make the financial decisions who has a more
    responsible pattern, otherwise, it looks worst that the IRS/US Congress
    from here...

  • Vote Up0Vote Down
    November 2011
    >  I notice that OSE EU is reporting that we've now "saved Solar Fire"

    OSE Europe was talking about power generation for a possible community in Europe (site TBD).  Eerik Wissenz (SolarFire) is on the list and mentioned that he was taking the design private due to lack of funds.  This caused the OSE-E folks to discuss how to keep it open source.  Eerik said it would take about 5000 euros.  Within 24 hours, they had pledges in excess of that.

    >  he doesn't take council from any of us on that (either)

    No, he certainly doesn't.  Most of the people involved in the recent discussions really want to see OSE and the GVCS happen.  They want it to succeed, but they see Marcin wasting money, mis-managing projects, etc.  It is frustrating, to say the least.

    - Mark

  • Vote Up0Vote Down
    November 2011
    Nothing I've seen yet has come close to explaining why a $4/watt solar electric generation system is worthy of pursuing (saving or spending time/money one), when I can go (today) and order these or similar in bulk at half that price?
    (For those who are DIY inclined, and these cells would have the performance typical of their other products  which is ==>Power Guarantee – 90%: 12 years; Power Guarantee – 80%: 30 years, but for the non-DIY crowd, buying in bulk quantity will still yield a cost of $1.95/watt from fully assembled panels with full mfg warranties...)

    That can't be Marcin's idea completely, so the lack of any substantive discussion on fiscal decisions is a deeper problem.  I'm not sure that Marcin was even behind the effort to save Solar Fire, but someone was, and they led a fund raiser to this audience, who donated without (IMO) having enough facts to make a good decision...
    Anywhere that Solar Fire would work (has sunlight?) solar cells would also, right?  Did I miss something important about that?  Hmm...

  • Vote Up0Vote Down
    November 2011 has 250 watt kit for 214 with frame right now.  thats less than a buck a watt
  • Vote Up0Vote Down
    November 2011
    & Solar Fire (which we've just raised 5000+ Euro to save) costs about $4/watt...  ?!?!??

    AFAIK, it's not even fully developed yet, and refinements/improvements to it will cost more, so again, why is OSE still interested in Solar Fire?
  • Vote Up0Vote Down
    November 2011
    i think they see it as a replicability issue. like the technology for mirrors and steel is within reach while tech to make solar cells isnt.
  • Vote Up0Vote Down
    November 2011
    If they (the end user) still has to spend the cash, it starts to become more like climbing Mt. Everest?  I mean, yeah, you could climb it, but it will be costly, and all you really get out of it are bragging rights & a lot less cash, when a rental of a helicopter would be faster & cheaper...
    This is more of a "Moon Colony" mindset, where in someone's fantasy, they have to be able to "build" everything, but even the solar fire parts have to be bought, 'cause they're not "making" steel either, nor are they likely to be making mirrors, they're buying them, so why not buy something that's cheaper, with a warranty & likelihood of working immediately, working to at least 80% of its rated output for the next 30 years or more, with the only required maintenance being wiping it off occasionally with a towel or squeegee?
    Anyplace that had availability of the parts to build Solar Fire is also likely to be within a UPS delivery range for solar panels.
    Looking at the available info on Solar Fire, it isn't really a simple setup, either, so there is the man-hours of building and setting it up too, which is an order of magnitude higher than a solar panel installation, but I'm getting off of this soap-box now, since apparently the money has already been raised, allocated & spent...  Nothing more to do but shake my head at the insanity, 'cause I can't change it & I don't think anyone involved would want me to try.
  • I do see value in developing replicable designs.  I do not necessarily find fault in buying steel and off the shelf materials or tools while having in mind plausibly achievable future machines to forge steel parts.

    Until the CEB wall blowup, I kept most of my criticisms of some things to myself ... trying to start off "off grid," for instance, I question the wisdom of.  While its an admirable goal I think should be worked toward, replacing grid-connected electricity with generators that cost many times as much to generate power I though was a bit unwise.  Actually witnessing the effects has worsened my perspective on it:  the inverters needed to convert the DC power from generators into the AC power needed by tools just aren't standardized enough, and productivity at FeF was seriously hampered by the deficient power generation and distribution.  A specific example I tried to help out with and had first-hand witnessing was the attempts to paint the CEB Press (paint being necessary given it is an outdoor machine made mostly of steel which is prone to rusting).  The power grid could barely handle a compressor designed to air tires; this compressor (even if it had sufficient power) was completely inadequate to use for a paint sprayer.  Thad eventually spent his own money on a better compressor at the minimum to adequately operate a paint sprayer, only to find the FeF power grid was completely unable to power that compressor.  Thus (and due to other problems) a task (painting the CEB press) that should have taken a day wound up taking months.

    Its sexy/exciting/enthralling/whatever to talk about building things "off grid," but until there is a fully self-sufficient power production (creating fuel and generating power for the high-power industrial machinery needed to produce these machines), it should not be relied upon for production.  Until a sufficent set of GVCS machines is developed and replicable, GVCS development must rely on off-the-shelf tools and materials ... but when choosing those tools and materials, I do find it sensible to select those that could be more readily replicated (solar fire versus photovoltaic cells, in this case) even if it isn't the absolute most cost-to-output efficient.

  • I believe the idea of solar fire is to not require exotic/rare earth materials. Yes solar panels are cheaper and a better idea in general, but there are elements in them that cannot easily be attained by some communities. It provides a 'lower' tech alternative that with a few design iterations could become a product that incredibly valuable.

    I think another aspect that needs to be understood by everyone involved is that going forward all these designs and releases are first gen releases. There will certainly be bugs and changes required as they are replicated/tested around the world. Of course the core development team will be doing their best to mitigate any issues at the initial release, but design is always an iterative process and should be understood as such. The beauty of OSE and its product life cycle development is that it will be drawing on resources and teams around the world. Users will be easily and directly able to communicate changes into designs to improve the product which will yield very rapid development. This is very different from how a lot of businesses are structured.

    I'm at FeF right now working on the hablab/workshop (we just poured some of the foundation today!) and CAD development. The place is a bit rough around the edges but overall not too bad! Power generation is sufficient for right now and we're able to meet our required needs even being off the grid (which as Howard said is a noble task) but I am inclined to agree that being on grid would be simpler hahah but even this has its advantages for learning important aspects and gaining knowledge of how all these systems integrate together.
  • mjn wrote:

    Finally, I would comment on other sites to build a set of tools that would enable the creation of a village-sized economy using permaculture principles for food production, local resources for building, and it's own fablab for producing what ever else is needed. There are none. Based on my research, OSE is unique. Marcin's vision is a very powerful one, full of hope and possibility. This forum, the OSE wiki, the blogs, etc. were all created to pursue this vision - one that I find very attractive, personally. This puts us in something of a bind, because Marcin really lacks management skills. It is a double bind because he controls (and will continue to control) the financial resources coming in. To some extent, that is completely fair. He personally raised the money, so he should get to say how it is used.

    I guess You are right, Mark, in that OSE in its concept is unique. Marcins vision is powerful and attractive, but as often, people with vision often are lacking the skills to realize them. His mismanagement reaches larges dimensions.
    Whether Marcins behaviour is fair, well, I think there are two sides to view at it.

    Marcin raised the money, he attracted the donors and true fans, so its his right to decide the priorities when which project is funded.
    But there is also another view, the view from a donors perspective. They expect their money well spent for the GVCS and not wasted by mismanagement, incompetent planning and failure to consult experts before a project fails.

    If I donate money to a NGO claiming to provide food aid to those starving people most in need, I expect them to deliver food to Somalia and not to drop it everywhere in the world, just because they dont know where Somala is located !

    But anyway, missing an alternative, we will have to watch OSE and FeF struggling without much success. Except, some of the "not so happy folks" in this forum start an iniative to change the picture


  • Vote Up0Vote Down
    November 2011

    Marcin raised the money, he attracted the donors and true fans, so its
    his right to decide the priorities when which project is funded.

    But there is also another view, the view from a donors perspective.
    They expect their money well spent for the GVCS and not wasted by
    mismanagement, incompetent planning and failure to consult experts
    before a project fails.

    I would add to this by saying Marcin was able to raise this money based on the works of others in the group, not just his effort.  When someone from the Kickstarter world reads about OSE and watches videos, they are viewing years of work by well meaning volunteers.  Even now, is Marcin hauling the bricks himself?  Hell no, he has volunteers there to help.

    Bottom line is he wouldn't be in a position to generate this income without our combined efforts.  So it really never was HIS money at all.  This is the attitude he needs to be exposed to.  He needs a HUGE dose of humble pie.  Highly unlikely that he will ever come around in my humble opinion.


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