Dedicated Project Visit: Ian Midgley

Howdy, I arrived on the Factor E Farm a few days ago for a three week stay.  I’ll be making instructional videos on the function and fabrication of the Global Village Construction Set from right here in the cozy HexaYurt. We’ve got a lot of documentation on our plate and I’m planning to take a few big bites out of it and leave a system in place for future documentarians to continue the process.

In addition, I’ll be filming with the team here to include a segment in my ongoing feature length documentary You Are God, a film about free thinkers and free doers creating their own realities all over the country. I’ve been traveling around the USA for the past year getting involved and documenting radically creative and revolutionary peoples and projects. Today is actually the year anniversary of when I drove out of Los Angeles to start filming. What better place to celebrate than Factor E Farm?

Thus far we’ve completed two instructional videos on the Power Cube and the Hall Effects Sensor used in the CEB press:

Plenty more to come. These videos will make it possible for the novice and expert alike to get a thorough sense of what goes into fabricating each part of the GVCS, the significance of each element, and a few essential tips on fabrication from the folks who did it first.

Next up: Open Source Tractor. Check back for more videos!


  1. Guillermo

    What about posting them in youtube so people in countries like guatemala, where bandwith is very bad, can see them . If you send me the files i could upload them, though. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. Marcin

      You can download from Vimeo yourself, no?

  2. Thomas

    Dear Ian,

    for some reason I can not view all of your videos. It says “No mobile version”. I dont understand this. I’m running Ubuntu on my PC. Can you help me?


  3. Thomas

    Well, there is no link to the vimeo-page. I could go there manually and search for the right video, but that turns out to be quite a drag.

  4. LucasG

    Let’s look at the process for porting the videos to youtube, so that if one or more people want to help, they can do it:

    1. Vimeo files for OSE are in

    2. For example, at it says “Please join or log in to download”. Join is and login is

    3. If one or more people help with porting videos to youtube, then it would be useful if they consistently used a searchable keyword, like “osev2yt” (for “OSE vimeo to youtube”) or whatever makes sense. That way, there could be a link to those ported files.

    My feeling is this depiction of the ideal process is quite cr, er, low quality. Please say how it could really work. Thanks!

    Important point is this: developers who are creating the videos and uploading them should not be suggested to do yet more work. IMHO.

  5. […] Farm for a Dedicated Project Visit in Documentation. I’ll be picking up where the talented Ian Midgley left off, working on documentation for the Christmas Gift To The World as well as a recruitment […]

  6. Leo Dearden

    I’ve just watched the documentation videos. Great work.

    A comment on the Hall Sensor procedure: It’s probably best not to tin the ends of wires that will go in screw terminals. Many people do this (it seems like an obvious good idea), but various maintanance pros will tell you not to (eg: BBC procedures). Solder has a high creep rate, so over a few years those terminals will become loose. Bare copper wire actually gives a better contact for longer.

    If you want to maximise the durability of the wires, a boot lace crimp ferule would be appropriate, but I don’t think it’s worth the effort, since the wire is not likely to be removed and reconnected repeatedly.

    Strain relief for the wire will be an important in keeping it reliable over the long run.

    1. Marcin

      Does your suggestion apply to stranded wire, which we are currently using for the sensors?

  7. Leo Dearden

    Yes, this applies especially to stranded wire. It’s counter-intuitive, but AIUI, experience (indoors, dry) shows that uncoated stranded wire gives a more reliable connection in screw terminals than solder coated stranded wire, at least over the long term (>5 years).

    If I’m building something that will stay connected up for a long time (eg: an extension lead) I’ll leave the wire ends bare, just twist them. If I’m making wires that will be connected and disconnected regularly (eg: hook up power leads for bench top prototyping using screw terminals) then I coat the ends with solder to give them mechanical protection.

    It’s a trade off, and the relative merits of solder coating vs bare probably change with the environmental conditions. In a warm dry equipment rack corrosion is very slow, but creep is faster, which favours bare wire. In a cold damp setting (a barn?), creep is slower and corrosion is faster, which improves the relative merit of solder coated ends.

    I expect that in the short term, the connections will be reliable either way, so long as they have been screwed down firmly. In the long term, only experience will tell which is better for this application, but knowing what I know now I’d go with bare. If you want to improve this aspect of our engineeringa, you might split test: do both and track faults, over time, for each.

    The thing to optimise is probably mean downtime over the life of the system, so it’s at least as important to make it easy to diagnose poor connections to the sensor as it is to make the connections long term reliable. Ideally the wiki or other user docs will include a rich troubeshooting section, that would include that sort of thing (eg: something like: symyptom: brick sometimes comes out pressed too thin. possible cause: defective sensor or connection on sensor 2. remedy: Check sensor connections. Try re-stripping and connecting sensor wire ends. Try swapping in a spare sensor and cable.)

    This sort of documentation is ideal to crowdsource, as users and user-testers have problems and solve them.

  8. […] culture and technology. Speaker topics ranged from the neuroscience of vision to polyamory. Ian Midgley‘s presentation on Open Source Ecology appealed the most to me. The decentralization and […]