LifeTrac is a low-cost, multipurpose open source tractor. It serves as a workhorse backbone for many of GVCS technologies. We are currently on the 7th prototype – see LifeTrac Genealogy. The highlight of our design is that it is a modular design that allows for a high degree of modification and flexibility – such as scalable frames, interchangeable power units, quick connect wheel drive, and plug-and-play hydraulic power that allows for a driver and remote.
The flexible nature of LifeTrac revolves around the Lifesize Lego Set nature of the LifeTrac platform. This is consistent with the rest of the GVCS – which is designed not as individual machines but as construction sets of machines. In the LifeTrac case, modular beams – of 4″x4″ rectangular tubing – serve as the backbone of the construction set. XYZ space frame, bolt-together construction is used. Stock bonding plates and pivot plates allow for scalable joints and pivoting joints.
Because if the flexible, scalable nature of the LifeTrac Construction Set, the basic design may be modified readily to build machines of different scales – from a Microtractor that may weigh a few hundred pounds to a Bulldozer that may weigh one or two orders of magnitude more.
Flexible design also allows for interchange of loader arms, such that a tractor bucket may be replaced by a bulldozer blade, or a heavy loader-mounted implement such as a tub grinder, baler, or sawmill.
Track, turning wheel, skid, or articulated steering may be used depending on need. Tracks, pneumatic tires, solid tires, or steel wheels of various sizes may be used. Since the Universal Rotor wheel units and Geardowns are themselves extensively and intensively scalable, traction force may be configured according to need. Scaling of the basic tractor may allow for articulated two-body machines such as large tractors, graders, or scrapers. Multiple bodies may also be used in a train configuration.
Use of the Universal Rotor allows for different size and speed motors and shafts, such that a tractor may readily be converted to a truck or Trucktor, with the addition of suspension or shocks. With lighter duty universal rotors, the machine can turn into a car.
Universal power units, the Power Cubes, allow for any propulsion system from piston engines to electric motors. Our particular interest is demonstrating that Pelletized biomass may be used as a flowable fuel to power modern steam engines. The Gasifier Burner may also be used for propulsion in a piston engine, and biodiesel from oil crops or destructive distillation of wood (Fischer-Tropf fluid) can provide diesel substitute, or plastics can be distilled back to lighter chain hydrocarbon fuels for piston engines.
Because our infrastructure uses hydraulic power, extreme plug-and-play flexibility can be achieved for traction drive and implements. Quick hose couplers and quick mounting connects are used throughout for flexibility both on valves and on linear and rotary motors. Power Cubes can be stacked extensively, and enlarged intensively.
We are interested in a Piston Engine Construction Set – modular, in-line scalable engine that can be adapted to spark ignition, compression ignition, or steam power. This takes us to precision machining of our own engine units.
In addition to the scalable traction machines, we are working on a full line of active and passive, loader-mounted and passive drawn implements. High on our list is a universal drawn tool bar that can be fitted with Universal Seeder, plow, subsoiler, harrows, cultivator, Lister plow, disk, box, blade, and other active elements such as a tiller, cutter, flail mower, grinder, or other rotary and linear motion elements. Use of box beam tubing and plates allows for bolted or latched quick-finger attachment – short of the Bobcat standard but allowing for larger and more diverse implements to be used – minimizing the weight and geometry restrictions of the Bobcat standard.
This universal drawn tool bar may also be modified to be loader-mounted – to create a multitude of other active elements such as Backhoe, cherry picker, crane, Well-Drilling Rig, Dimensional Sawmill, tub grinder, automatic log splitter, Cement Mixer, Trencher, and other implements.