Product Release Fund

With outstanding performance results on the CEB press, we are getting ever closer to the planned product release date of April 1, 2009. We are employing a Product Release Fund as part of our open source product release strategy, with the primary aim of addressing the freeloader dilemma in funding this open source project.

While progress on crowd support funding has been quite satisfactory, it is nowhere near the level where we can afford rapid project acceleration towards the full Global Village Construction Set (GVCS). The point is – we believe that deploying the GVCS will benefit the world immensely – many times over what people are contributing. Thus, fundraising the miniscule quantities (about $2 million for the entire GVCS) that we believe will change the world profoundly – should be no problem. This is not so in practice.

The Product Release Fund encourages people to donate. This Fund is aimed primarily at those who are interested in building the CEB machine themselves or who are interested in fabrication as a small enterprise.

The fund works as follows.

  • Anyone who donates $20 or more to the project or provides an equivalent in-kind donation receives technical and fabrication drawings as soon as these are complete. We will be completing these drawings after we build our second and third prototypes – at which time the designs have been refined and tested thoroughly. We will be releasing these component-by-component. For example, as soon as the frame or hopper designs are perfected, drawings for these components are made available. These will be explicit milestones achieved in the project.
  • People have until the product release date of April 1, 2009, to donate. Anyone who misses this deadline will have to wait until the Product Release Fund (PRF) is satisfied.
  • The PRF quota is set at $15k for the The Liberator High Performance CEB Press. Full technical drawings are released into the public domain as soon as the quota is reached. We are allowing 1 year for this quota to be reached, at which time we release the complete plans even if the quota is not reached.

The above encourages anyone who is really interested in a low-cost Liberator to contribute prior to product release – which is the time when support is needed the most. $20 is peanuts for someone to pay when materials cost $2k, and the next cheapest competition costs $25k. Our quota is less than the price of one CEB machine from any of the cometitors.

The freeloader dilemma is only partially solved with this concept, though. Most people will not be producers of the machine – most will buy it from someone else. Production will happen whether they contribute or not – though it may take longer for us to get there.

We are looking for comments and suggestions on this concept. We are on the untested frontiers of open product development – so your suggestions are welcome. If we can demonstrate that the rewards are worthy – how do we motivate people to contribute? Is it simply about a larger marketing effort?


  1. Lucas

    As we’ve talked over through email, I intend to translate the brochure into Spanish. If and when I do, I’ll also send/publish a small how-to so others may do the same for other languages. This should broaden the contributor base, and maybe even atract folks who’d participate in the technology and/or the wiki.

    Regarding contributions, we need to make this atractive for universities and builders. Anyone has contacts? How could they (the people in universities and industry) benefit? Maybe “close enough” industry, as in people who make elements for the designs, that could move towards pieces for DIY? Sellers of components such as electric motors etc?

  2. Mark

    If I donate $20, will I have to sign a non-disclosure agreement not to divulge the design before the PRF quota is reached? What restrictions will you attach to my use of the design–can I (for example) build a The Liberator for sale to third parties before the design is released?

    I’m not sure it makes sense to talk about a “free rider problem” in connection with Open Source. What you are describing sounds more like a closed design during the development phase, with partial rights granted to investors. This will prevent other parties from cooperating on the development until you have finished your third prototype. This is your prerogative–you will still be doing a great service by releasing the designs at a late stage–but you would seem to miss out on any advantages of collaboration during design and testing.

    For example, thanks to your influence, I am now tinkering with the idea of helping a newly unemployed friend set up a welding/machine shop (so he can help create equipment for me to use on my farm). We might like to begin working on an XYZ table, but the release schedule in this post implies that the earliest we could collaborate with you (remotely) would be in a year or so and after your third prototype.

    Hope this criticism is constructive, because I am enjoying watching your progress!

  3. Marcin

    Mark, these are good comments. Regarding your 3 paragraphs, here are comments.

    1. There is no policing. We don’t have any energy for overhead and policing functions. Donors gain access, with no restrictions. You can produce it – we believe in free enterprise – no monpolies. The process is intended to be essentially nonmonopolistic. We do not have fear of the competitiion – if someone else offers a great product – we encourage that. If someone else is offering compromises, we’ll still be in production, and beat them out of business. One part of this is that, as suggested in the GVCS presentation at, is that we are forced to diversify. Diversification is part of our essential strategy – we want to create thousands of diversified fabrication and agroecology producers – as a route to a better future.

    Any further suggestions?

    Perhaps to avoid this PRF overhead, we could set up a 1000 True Fans mechanism, , where people commit to $10 per month donation? With $10,000 per month, we could quadruple our productivity – and then watching progress at Factor e Farm would really be fun as we’re creating a post-scarcity Global Village right before peoples’ eyes.

    2. You make a good point on missing out collaboration opportunities. Also, the fact of the matter at present is that nobody else is making any real, physical developments on the open source CEB that I know of. There are many people who ask me for the design, and we don’t have any tested design. Right now we’re going through field testing before we put energy into making technical drawings of designs that work.

    The design is not closed at present. Anyone interested in collaboration is invited, and we’ll share what we know freely when people want to help. All that we know about the design at present has been documented in simple drawings, fabrication pictures, and video. Short of someone being here, there is nothing more that we have to offer.

    I am looking for suggestions of how to increase involvement of others. It just seems that there are so few people who actually want to get their hands dirty in advanced CEB press development. goes back to the freerider issue, where people take my time, but contribute to no real progress on the actual machine.

    3. Release schedule:

    shows XYZ table fabrication beginning Dec. 1, 2008. So let’s work together.

    The other point is, our program is not a spectator sport. The GVCS development is the overall program – and if any additional resources appear at any time, we parallel our development. For example, Nick is coming here in December, and we plan on doing metal casting and building the first steam engine by January. Progress is nonlinear – when resources appear, other projects get done.

    Indeed, we are planning the First World Conference on Open Source Ecology for Summer, 2009 – which is a working conference where invited participants actually build parts of the GVCS. It’s a crash program for GVCS deployment – more info on this is forthcoming by end of this month.

  4. Lucas

    Tongue in cheek, you could sell bricks.

    Seriously, your existing new website could possibly host the 1000 True Fans place. Maybe people would subscribe to news, not via a newsfeed aggregator or coming to check the blog, but via a newsletter that would simply include Monthly News and be issued close to Pay Day. Monetary contribution has to be made convenient, not just desirable.

    We still need to look for larger donors if possible.

    Teaching people to build machines will provide well earned money, but the problem with funding exists not, not so much in Summer 2009.

  5. Lucas

    Sorry, i meant it exists “now”, not “not”.

  6. Geoff

    “All that we know about the design at present has been documented in simple drawings, fabrication pictures, and video. Short of someone being here, there is nothing more that we have to offer.”

    From a personal perspective, herein lies part of the problem with getting others to have a go and share ideas. If I was to start work today on a CEB press I’d basically be starting from the same point you started from, and besides the notes and ideas would have to figure a lot of the details out. A good start would be a series of pictures showing all the pertinent details of the device from all angles so at least we could reverse engineer.

    Anyhow, I’m willing to put up some money toward this goal, have you got a link to provide it handy, one which means we get on this PRF list?

    On the issue of throughput, have you considered a much larger hopper that you can dump a bucket load or three of earth into, with a coarse mesh seive at the bottom, and the rotary hoe component under that, attached to the device, feeding into the original hopper?

  7. Richard

    at this anchor are some links to basic design drawings and descriptions of the fabrication process. they need more help putting together the designs, as they do not have so much time given the work they do. we are currently trying to develop greater living capacity so that a larger community of collaborators can work there and make these designs more detailed.

  8. Richard
  9. Andrius Kulikauskas

    Marcin,Brittany and all, Hi from Bosnia, I just want to add my encouragement. I’m thinking that for our Minciu Sodas activities in COMMUNIA and our travel funds for the workshops there we could advance support for open source hardware. Please let me know how that might be useful if you have thoughts. Thanks, Andrius

  10. Marcin

    We are currently formulating a 1000 True Fans – 1000 Global Villages Initiative – in which we gather support for rapid deployment of the entire Global Village Construction Set technology base ( We’ll be publishing information about this soon.

  11. Tom L

    How do I contribute (money) to the Product Release Fund?

    Geoff said, “Anyhow, I’m willing to put up some money toward this goal, have you got a link to provide it handy, one which means we get on this PRF list?”

    The links provided so far are for product cycle and design and fabrication – how do I send you money for the PRF (so I can get on the PRF list)?

    What about transparency – where exactly is the PRF money going?

    Anyone who donates in general to the CEB project is put on the PRF list. The construction is part of the CEB project – our digital fabrication facility for producing CEB machines. Regarding transparency – the only guidelines we have is that all of the money goes towards accelerating Global Village Construction Set deployment. You can see what we accomplish by following our blog or subscribing to Project News at . Allocation depends on priorities, which are outlined in our proposal from last year – . We will be updating the proposal within the next two months based on the learnings from 2008. – Marcin