Second Prototypes: LifeTrac, CEB – Plus MicroTrac

Lots of progress here. On the ground, we’re completing Hexacube 2 today for interim housing, with our friend O.R.. On the technology development pipeline, we published specifications for the steam engine, pyrolysis oil production, flash steam generator, Babington burner, wood gasifier, induction furnace, lathe, RepRap, torch table, and sawmill -  and we are soliciting review and bids according to the OS Product Development Pipeline strategy, which was discussed in a former post. Hey we have only 640 days left to finish the Global Village Construction Set – we have to roll.

We are now working on the CEB and LifeTrac Prototypes 2. The scope of this includes both LifeTrac prototype 2 and MicroTrac. Microtrac is to be used for precision small scale farming duties, in addition to powering the CEB press if LifeTrac is used to load soil in the large hopper. The integrated plan for onsite LifeTrac/CEB development is:

As such, our overall program includes active recruiting for Dream Team 30, organizing other University lectures, technology pipeline review and bidding, and on-the-groound work. We’re getting ready to build a massive number of raised beds in our existing 1/4 acre garden, plus dig out chinampa trenches as discussed in Local Food Systems. We want to demonstrate pyrolysis oil and the steam engine as fast as possible for engine replacement on LifeTrac – but that will happen only if we go through a successful, outsourced review and bid process – because of our limited resources. The bids will be funded by viral marketing of professionally-prepared proposals. As always, we need your help on all of this, so pick an item from the above list, study it more carefully, and get involved. We have 33 True Fans at present, so we need to keep working that avenue of our program as well.

You can see our updated strategy (3.5.09) on the wiki.

Here is further explanation of the diagram above and issues. First, there is an arrow between LifeTrac 2 and MicroTrac because the egine will be quick-interchangeable between the two.

LifeTrac prototype 2 will focus on even higher flexibility. In addition to the quick connect plate and 3 sets of hydraulic takeoffs, the improvements will include:

  • Power unit interchangeability with MicroTrac and car, with 100% post-carbon functionality on local pyrolysis oil biofuel with modern steam engine power. The car will be a Unimog-like multipurpose vehicle – a device that breaks through bounds of industrial monopoly and obsolescence sub-standards by reintroducing a new standard of flexibility and multipurpose use. We’ve considered calling it UnimOS, for Universal Mobility, Open Source. Think of it as a Jeep or Unimog, with even higher modularity, local fuels, and community-produced. Exciting.
  • Simplification of control panel. The control panel is way more complicated than it needs to be. Instead of using 4 independent valves and a flow divider, we can get away with using a single larger valve. That saves much anguish in connecting all the plumbing together, and eliminates many potential leaks.
  • Proper weight distribution
  • 2 or 4 wheel drive, with 2 wheel drive for moving faster

MicroTrac is currently on the 3D drawing board. So is the soil pulverizer/loader.

The machine will be automated this time around. For about $400, one can add automatic operation so that one person can unload bricks continuously and put them on pallets, while another person operates LifeTrac. Thus, the goal is to be able to produce 3000 bricks per day with a 2 person crew, instead of 500 bricks for a day of fatigue as we’ve seen before.

We are considering Arduino for the controller, 2 solenoid hydraulic valves, and limit switches (via reed switches) for sensing the stroke limits of the hydraulic cylinders.

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