GVCS Technical Development Process

Continuing with Proposal 2011 for the rapid deployment of the remaining 39 GVCS technologies in a rapid, parallel fashion by year-end 2011 – here is an overview of the Technical Development Process, which is applicable to the development of each of the technologies. This template is a tactical simplification and further refinement of the Open Source Product Development Pipeline method. At best – after the required developments are made in our collaborative development infrastructure by mid 2011 – the remaining 38 projects can be approached in parallel according to this Technical Development Process. You can also download the source file in Dia and get involved in collaborative development of this Process.

We will climax Proposal 2011 with lucid explanation of our work via Explainer Videos, followed by a clear definition of tasks to be done for each project (as begun in the template above according to the general timeline and budget presented in a former post), together with an explicit procedure for accomplishing the same.

The general concept implied in the organizational development proposition of the last post involves building up our productive capacity to accommodate 4 flexible fabricators (existing space accommodates 2) Рin addition to pulling in crowd-supported funding such as the True Fans. Such fabrication capacity would allow us to bootstrap-fund the project at a $40k/month level. The assumptions are that: (1), in addition to The Liberator open source CEB press Рthe LifeTrac open source tractor has reached full product release status; (2), it takes 2 weeks to produce a LifeTrac or The Liberator; (2) $5k net earnings arise from the production of each machine. We believe that 5000 True Fans  (we have 122 at present) is an optimistic but realistic goal after a successful viral marketing campaign powered by our forthcoming Explainer Video. This leaves us with about $500k allocated to the proposed GVCS burndown. This is quite a bit short of the $2M required for project completion (about $15k per each of the 3 prototypes required in a rapid deployment scenario for a Full Product Release) Рbut history tells us that other miracles can happen.

On top of The Liberator, there are 18 heavy equipment technologies related to agriculture, construction, power, and utility functions in the GVCS. Prototyping of OSE-spec variants may be outsourced readily to a custom fabricator such as the local Sweiger Shop, who has significant experience with all types of agriculture, construction, and other utility machinery. These 18 technologies are: (1), LifeTrac; (2), MicroTrac; (3), Bulldozer; (4), Sawmill; (5), Well-drilling Rig; (6), Soil Pulverizer; (7), Auger; (8), Tiller; (9), Cement Mixer; (10), Mower; (11) Haying Equipment; (12) Pelletizer; (13) Hammer Mill; (14) Agricultural Spader; (15) Seeder; (16) Trencher; (17) Agricultural Combine, and (18) Backhoe.

This means that if we had money to cover materials and $50/hour in labor Рwe could go to Sweiger Shop and other custom fabricators and have them complete the 18 prototypes in a matter of months. Each prototype would require several hours of design discussion,  followed by $2k per week of labor for 1 person at $50/hour. This process could be paralleled with a number of fabricators for massive scaling of the development effort. The prerequisite would be the availability of design drawings for each device. This takes about 2 weeks per device, but can be paralleled massively by remote, global collaboration.

CAD drawings are a key to documentation, as is other technical writing, bills of materials, analysis of fabrication ergonomics, and video documentation.

The 18 pieces of heavy equipment are low-hanging fruit, because fabricators with the required skill and experience may be identified readily.

The remaining part of the GVCS involves the Solar Turbine, modern steam angine, the open source fab lab, and other agricultural processes. Developing these is not as straighforward as the heavy equipment – wherein there is very few intellectual property barriers involved. For these latter pieces of the GVCS, there are several barriers to overcome.

  1. For the Solar Turbine, our experience so far has shown that the intellectual property issues make discovery of integrated system design a formidable task requiring a well-organized effort.
  2. For the modern steam engine, there are so few practitioners involved, and much confusion abounds in the field. The technology went out of circulation in the 1930s, and is for practical purposes, a dead field.
  3. RepLab and other power equipment involves automation and power electronics, and are our next frontier for open-sourcing. We already have some experience on automation with The Liberator.
  4. Other items, such as freeze-dried fruit powders, are also surrounded with lots of proprietary protection.

In essence, our barriers to further development involve highly technical information, which industry likes to keep to themselves. This is not to fear – as a subject matter expert collaborators (see graph) can shed years of light on the subject in a matter of hours if one has the eyes to see and ears to hear. As a case in point, we’re visiting a person who built and uses steam tractors – to download years of wisdom on design and fabrication of a modern steam engine. We just met this guy last weak at the Northwest Missouri Steam and Gas Show. We don’t fully understand the definition of a ‘modern steam engine’, but this will emerge as we get into the work. All we know is that our experience has been favorable in terms of taming technology for human use – and this should be no exception. At that steam meet – there were running steam devices everywhere, and steam actually looked like the normal thing to do.


  1. […] the end of yesterday’s blog post, we mentioned our progress on the modern steam engine. This is part of our near-term development […]

  2. Ken Boak


    I have just watched your TED Talk- very inspirational.

    The problem with steam powered systems is that they are low efficiency and if boilers are used they need continual supervision – either human or automation.

    Another technology, which would allow you to run converted IC engines is wood gasification. Wood gasification converts waste wood or woody biomass residues to flammable gas which will run a spark ignition IC engine. This will give you better overall efficiency than reciprocating steam engines, no dangerous boilers with risk of explosion and a faster route to re-purposing existing IC engines.

    May I point you in the direction of what Jim Mason and his team at All Power Labs are doing with wood gasification in Berkeley, CA. An opensource manufacturing project to bring gasification back into common use.

    1. Marcin

      Did you know that the modern steam engine features higher efficiency than gasoline engines? Google Cyclone Technologies or see our previous post –