You're going to have little two man shops in Africa and Asia cranking these out and changing agriculture in their part of the world.
This demonstrates the power of open source. These engineers are to be commended.
if you haven't seen the famous Open Source Ecology pitch by Marcin Jakubowski, you're in for a treat!
Open-sourced blueprints for civilization | Marcin Jakubowski, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GEMkvT0DEk
(in the sense of, how to organize society from a blank slate point of view, while maximizing the wealth of experience for all individuals? I think we've gotten a little caught up in ideology and culture wars and stopped looking for ideas to move society forward with more efficient, humane, robust, collaborative (or adversarially cooperative) societal organization systems)
If you thought society as consisting of a large number of agents (with varying degrees of self-interest and diverse motivations), how would you design a system that enables maximum productivity, and maximum well-being? (in the sense of conscious experience: a rich and wealthy life; not necessarily tied to having particular stuff)
Seriously, in all our 100,000 years more or less of modern human existence we've seriously toyed with about 2 large scale architectures of society. Why can't we try better in a non-destructive way?
What you should do is design a personality and a society simultaneously, design the personality such that it ponders the society and the society so that it builds such characters. The improvement accomplished reinforces the loop.
The current avenue of approach is indeed in two System Parts:
(1) Definition of the problem: If we want things to be 'best' in a sense, 'maximally humane', 'maximum quality of experience', 'maximum quality of life, existence and culture', etc. we should define those things, and create structures that continually refine and employ the best methods to asses and measure progress.
(2) Optimization of the problem: Choosing the architecture and structures that maximizes our measures. This again almost certainly is some kind of distributed structure that gives rewards and occasionally demands compensation (for a generalization of negative externality -- generalized externality of existence).
I often say that the Universe is a search problem. This is just a big honkin' search problem :)
Capitalism leaves the job of (1) on the individual, and on the government somewhat. The job of (2) is accomplished by a dual again of capital (supply and demand, allocation of capital for maximum profit) and government (using taxes and incentives). Again the problem of capitalism is that it doesn't account for externalities very well (too often ends up maximizing the wrong function), and the problem of government is inefficiency, centralization (algorithmic inefficiency of resource allocation strategies), lack of agility.
Note: Capitalism (without support structures) is very similar to evolutionary dynamics. It's hard to model exactly what evolutionary dynamics maximizes, but one formulation is that it maximizes environmental domination: expanding to cover the most of the environment, whatever it takes. Lose consciousness and become soul-less robots to take over everything? Sure, no problem; and annihilate anything that gets in the way. Accidentally or not evolutionary dynamics gave us life and consciousness, but it's not certain life and consciousness will endure as essential for environmental domination (in a way, consciousness is currently related to intelligence via humans, but we for example already appear able to create super-human intelligence that is not conscious or at least not very conscious). So we need to change the objective function to create a great harmonious future where some for of existence... exists.
To see why evolutionary dynamics and environmental stability (i.e. the result of environmental expansion) doesn't prize conscious experience (in general, the Meaning of life), I use two thought experiments:
(1) Generalized grey goo/Paperclip maximizer. Again, just picture a very intelligent creature dedicated to maximizing only its environmental domination. It will create other forms of intelligence only as much as needed to maintain its dominion. Any form of existence that's not immediately conductive to the maintenance and expansion of dominion is irrelevant/negative value. I can only see this leading to an empty Universe and a few singular intelligences looking for ways to annihilate all other existences at maximum speed focusing on weapons research and planetary domination exclusively.
(2) Doomsday button. The ultimate thought experiment in this line is the following: suppose you assume environmental regularization (domination) originated by your actions is the 'Ideal goal of existence'. Then I present you a doomsday button: If you push the button, you will trigger some kind of physical mechanism that will consume the entire universe into a regular lifeless crystal-like structure. Think of it as a bomb of expanding regular wave that takes over the entire universe. In a way, this represents a maximally stable solution to dominating the environment... maximum effect, perpetual and irreversible. But that doesn't look like a good solution at all, does it? It's in fact lifeless and non-existential.
Clearly the ultimate objective is related to existence, not to environmental domination or regularization by some abstract definition of 'Individual' or 'Nation' or whatever. If we can't change objective, I predict we'll be consumed by this savage nature quite soon.
I don't mean to trivialize System Part 1 (Evaluation). It's literally all that matters to humanity and existence. I guarantee it's not a second degree equation :) For example, individual autonomy can be an important component of human experience, the ability and free will to decide more or less independently is likely an important part of the whole.
My approach is that we need to define the Meaning of life clearly. We've also postponed this way too much as a Civilization. By now it shouldn't be that complicated -- we know it's got to do with experience and somehow the internal dynamics of a large neural network, the sustainability and continuity of life. I have a draft but don't expect it to be bulletproof. This should evolve into a Formalization of Ethics program (hopefully a collaborative, worldwide effort) to get the basics done. Think of it as a Super Declaration of Human rights, or a Foundation of Ethics (like we have a Foundation of Mathematics).
This could not be ignored by any nation, hopefully in the short term strengthening clarity and convictions on the objective of human (and generalized conscious) existence.
This Foundations should be Universal.
First, I'm convinced the rough draft (given above) is correct, it should be a matter of truth and reason, and not require any advanced metaphysics or elicit genuine controversy after rational examination. This is also part of a new propostion for making philosophy that I call 'Explosive Philosophy': the negation of the Principle of Experience (i.e. consciousness is not the prime motive of existence) leads to absurdity as demonstrated by several thought experiments. Explosive Philosophy is the use of rejection by absurd by taking particularly obviously unacceptable consequences of a principle.
Second, if some Nation is a Competitive Supremacist (i.e. Evolutionarist), that will clearly put it in conflict with the Conscious Foundations. It will try to achieve domination at all costs, and eventually it will need to settle with the Foundations or live under constant watch to make sure it doesn't take over everything or even consume itself.
Afterwards, the plan is as I insuated, to change the Political-Economic-Cultural system to reflect the universal values (including diversity from derived heuristics). The main idea I've had is to create concrete measures related to Quality of Experience, and a distributed network of evaluations, each specialized in a segment of society (Science, Industry, Culture, Philosophy, etc.) measures impact of Corporations/Entities/Individuals, and compensates for the error the capitalist system has.
So if I create predatory advertisement, this has a social cost. An evaluator can perceive this, measure it (estimate it), and demand compensation (to be given back to society). The evaluator itself takes a share of this compensation to reward its effort. The evaluator can even colaborate with the company to more acurately measure the externality, and reduce the compensation (under uncertainty the evaluator would have an adjustment to overestimate/take an upper bound of the evaluation).
Those evaluator are adversarially cooperative, and predictive, in the sense that they oversee themselves as well, and are predictive. The success of an evaluator is asessed later: a market is established for the correctness of the decision.
The idea is to replace Supply-and-Demand with Science: in particular, a kind of Eventual Consensus -- in simple terms, the Consensus of evaluation by relevant audience/specialists upon reflection after a long time. The Consensus is made through cross-evaluation of evaluators (they get funds based on the later re-evaluation by the wider evaluation network), as well as certain input from individuals, corporations and government. Transparent (and relatively simple) algorithms resolve the credit assignment problem of how each evaluator should be credited. This is similar to the slow eventual consensus of Science, although the goals are different and the system would be both simpler and more transparent. That's close to a definition of truth itself: the eventual consensus model revealed by experiments and sufficient formal reasoning (following axioms of logic, and axiom of reality).
I call this idea 'Elementalism' for now.
 Any similarity with Asimov's Foundations is a mere coincidence? :)
Note: What I mean by experience is not any kind of pure hedonism. It's a deep, rich internal collection of qualities and perception of the mind -- consciousness. Again we need principles and consensus to conclude what is the wisest experience, but we can derive general principles, largely centered around our cognition having structure, meaning and depth (this is getting really long so I'll stop now :) to discuss exactly what this means is involved).
Since I can't leave it to chance, here is the solution anyway: Open Source has clear benefits to a huge number of users. This is a huge positive externality. So the evaluators would be trying to measure this positive impact and reward accordingly.
By reward, we should recognize money has 3 functions in society:
(1) Rewards as compensation for expenses. Straightforward: compensate for whatever expenses needed to sustain himself and bring the product to society.
(2) Rewards as investment for future development. This allows the person to create more of what he just did, or create something he only has proposals for so far. This is a kind of predictive compensation for expenses, diminishing risk and allowing realization without capital.
(3) Rewards as Recognition. Everyone needs a signal 'I'm doing well/I'm doing a good thing/I hope I'm of value to someone'. Rewards act as recognition of this value. Today we only have social recognition and a prize here and there, which not many exist.
(4) Rewards as Individualistic Motivation. This one is the primary means we are "supposed" to operate in a competitive environment. Your rewards are spent to satisfy your needs and desires as an individual. (Of course this is fine, everyone has needs and desires... although it's questionable whether one individual can have a 100000x or more the sensitivity or needs of another individual to justify massive individualist expenditure). We should hold no delusion -- we are advanced primates, and want a "banana" or "carrot" or whatever, so this should of course be taken into account.
With all 4 modes of operation, society should work quite well, and individuals should be happy and motivated.
Expert social engineers (sociologists, psychologists, economists, environmental scientists, et. al.) will be chosen to define "well being" using the latest scientific research and data. Money won't exist. You'll have a social credit score from 0 to 1000 depending on your overall value to society, the economy, and the environment. Higher scores will qualify you for better food, housing, and transportation. Lower scores will subject you to various restrictions or even imprisonment. Purchases will deduct different amounts from your score depending on their true overall societal cost; prices will include all economic externalities as determined by the experts.
Since the score asymptotically caps out at 1000, all economic inequality problems will be solved. In addition, there won't be the bureaucratic corporate management overhead of the current institutional patchwork because an expert-tuned AI management system will give you instructions on what work you need to do to help your score (including diet and exercise), using your mobile device or neuralink.
Luckily, there won't even have to be a violent revolution to reach this utopia, because just about every world leader at the UN, WEF, IMF, BIS, major political parties, large corporations, and so on are ALL on board with this.
On the trajectory we're on, we're going to need people like you (OP) to figure out what we'll build on the ashes of our current civilization. I see you like diversity libertarianism / Archipelago. A more robustly decentralized version of the current US constitution, which was actually really good until the corporate coup.
Whatever you come up by yourself has zero chances of coming to fruition outside your apartment. Working on your local community to improve lives of real people or joining a political party and influencing the direction of debate is way more actionable.
In a way, I want to improve the current system; it's just sometimes an issue of branding, mental models, and compatibility, that it can be useful to think of it as something new. Like a new software that's inspired by legacy systems.
For example, by now it's clear that Open Source technology is almost a miracle. The potential for civilization for a large scale conversion to open source technologies is hard to grasp. Imagine every product sharing design files, and new manufacturers/designers being able to build upon all every other design with zero friction.
We have the problem of how to compensate the developers. Currently we're going with a bland of donations, support systems, and a few other apparently meager funding sources. I don't think our legal system is prepared to tackle this (i.e. you can't fix it completely with a well designed license), and neither our economic system can. So that already begs a certain kind of redesign... what if we had some kind of distributed/decentralized entity supervising the flow of technology/information and rewarding them according to societal impact?
We tend to think of a simple government/industry division, but government tends to be too centralized and imperfectly aligned to effectively fulfill this kind of role (industry due to its economic design tends to perform better).
One of the idea (please, give it a try as well!) is to have a decentralized network of adversarially cooperative evaluators for this (in a system that cross-validates itself and economically aligns estimation accuracy).
This seems naive or small-scale.
But almost every major issue from society stems from this imbalance: the improper/imperfect reward mechanism for doing what's good for us; imperfect coordination. Examples: Predatory advertisement, Pollution, Climate change, Open Source funding, Cultural funding, Addiction-driven design, ... I could go on.
I'm not thinking of completely replacing what we have, but having a third element working alongside government/industry.
This is literally the most important problem in the history of humanity and... there's no much on it, except for ideologically-driven discussion.
Remember: Ideology is a mind killer! 
Isn’t this Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand”?
Just because someone isn't spending their time in the way you deem most effective doesn't mean it's not beneficial for themselves or others.
Iterative change is useful and helpful, but it's also how you get stuck in local maxima. They way out of local maxima is to step back and look at the problem fresh without some of the built in constraints of the current system, and is very useful as well even if they end up going back to us, and isn't something we should discourage people from doing.
If nothing else, they'll likely come away with a good understanding of the constraints of the system and why choices are made, and more importantly a "why" that's far more involved and justified than "well, that's how it is and we can't feasibly change it now."
This is the same reason why it's good to have people attempting to make a new HTTP server, or a new database system, or a new ORM. Those people often end up really understanding those systems extremely well even if they usually go back to using the status quo, and once in a blue moon they come up with something new and novel or at least beneficial under a slightly different set of constraints which better serves a certain audience.
What help do you need?
Got a reply along the lines of "we are working with our sponsors and will not be releasing any blueprints".
10 years later you still can't get blueprints from their site: https://www.opensourceecology.org/gvcs/gvcs-machine-index/
They seem like the solar roadways of open source hardware.
what's your logic here? the intellectual property system is the way the global north propertied class dominates the global south; i.e. renting out the commoditized blueprints/designs and charging insane royalties 
 Vijay Prashad, https://mronline.org/2019/09/29/iphone-workers-today-are-25-...
E.g. precisely what patent, design patent, trademark, or copyright is stopping the entire of Africa from designing and building an indigenous diesel tractor?
If our systems weren't built around intellectual property it would enable some pretty remarkable things.
Vijay Prashad: What's the Left to Do in a World on Fire? | China and the Left, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vd8w3ONjv6Y
Vijay Prashad: No Cold War with China, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tj1ggllXmws
The global west is realizing it done goofed up; because China does not give a shit about IP and now has the intellectual capability to successfully produce new products which compete with US product. The good news is that China's economy is actually a bigger mess than ours somehow, despite our limited means of production. Everyone is too scared of nuclear war, but the actual war is a strange economic war of 'Who is going to collapse first'.
Source: I met many Chinese people in college. Many of them were striving for success with such fervor because they wanted to stay in America.
2. depending on when you went to college, your experience could be out of date
surprised you would make such definitive statements on something as hard to measure as happiness, without better sources
Not attacking, I am genuinely curious about what you think. From the outside looking in, it seems like people are overworked, overcrowded and rather unequal. Also they have a lot of pollution in many areas.
I also appreciate the Chinese faith in their government and their sense of national purpose. People talk ad nauseam about our political polarity, but another issue is that it's basically American culture to question government competence now. I don't think people fully realize how damaging that is for society. Pollution and inequality are problems, but the sense of most Chinese is that the government is working to fix them. What do you think they see if they look at us? Probably theatrics and gridlock, that's what Americans feel after all
This does not really exist. Explanation:
Corruption in its forms – bribes, nepotism, scams perpetrated by officials, selective law enforcement, exploitation of socialised resources and capital for personal gain by officials, arbitrate rule changes without prior notice – are experienced by the populace on a daily basis from their local-level government. It creates magnitudes stronger problems than theatrics and gridlock. There is no one who is content with the work and quality of the local-level government. The people can only bitch in private because they know that public petitions are ignored and protests/demonstrations/riots are swiftly cracked down.
The effects of the high-level government OTOH usually cannot be seen or felt directly. A constructed image of the effects is disseminated by the propaganda arm of the party through newspapers, tv and radio, internet. People do like these success stories, but they are not accurate w.r.t. reality.
This perspective is not useful. You have to put yourself into the shoes of an abroad student, and then you will understand why the majority of them chooses to return home after getting the degree. Attraction factors are generally more important than the detraction factors you enumerated (overcrowding isn't even an objective one): these people want to be with their network of family and acquaintances, be part of a culture and speak the language they understand, and exploit their new knowledge to become wealthy without additional hurdles.
What do you think the communist nations' ideological goal was?
abolish Silicon Valley. 
 Wendy Liu, https://tribunemag.co.uk/2019/01/abolish-silicon-valley
― Ursula K. Le Guin
Which if there is an ecosystem related to this, that’s great as the manufacturing is where you need economies of scale pretty badly and everyone benefits from it.
There is no also no need for a basic excavator to cost $30k or more. Let’s do something about that too!
But unless I misunderstand what this is for, I think the economies of scale needed are in way fancier things like combine harvesters. When farmers decry the rent-seeking of John Deere, I don't think they are talking about basic tractor-bulldozers? Conversely, as the other replies say, there is little issue with decades-old-style tractors, right?
What I really want to see is an open source Khrushchyovka. The worlds needs more cities, not villages.
You said basic. :shrug:
Now if only shipping were reasonable!
You can't go to a [settlement] (https://sfo2.digitaloceanspaces.com/elpaiscr/2019/09/Asentam...) and tell them not to use certain tools because they might not be ecological.
I'm not discarding your concern though, I understand its impact is not known, I just wanted to say it likely won't be a factor in the decision-making of those that use this tech.
When people are struggling, they use whatever they can to survive. They'll burn wood indoors, and strip the wooded areas of all trees, use up as much groundwater through wells as possible, and so on...
Get rid of the do-or-die hard scrabble for survival and people can start being better stewards. It's the largely invisible, widespread, and long term effects, like leaded gas and co2 impacts on climate that require nation state intervention through science based policy.
For highly empowering things like this, the upshot is likely that even though the tech is not likely to be as clean and efficient as we'd want, it will enable individuals and communities to thrive and better their lives to the point that they can start affording long term ecological preservation.
The correlation I see is the longer civilization has been in some place, the more arid that place becomes.
Applies to Africa, Middle East, Brazil, and so on.
Of course, being older and wiser now I'm less excited about the fantasy of using my brains and grit to rebuild society after the coming apocalypse. And if you are a villager of some description trying to use machinery to improve your prospects you're probably better off buying something old and used, or cheap and Chinese. Over the last 10 years the number of (mostly Chinese) companies making okay-quality cheap industrial equipment of all types has grown massively, and I've seen this equipment being used more and more in the developing world. Cheap is relative, of course, and many places do not make it easy to buy anything due to payment infrastructure, shipping, and customs costs.
So on the one hand it's a bit silly for some guy in Missouri to even consider designing his own bakery oven when you can get them on Alibaba for $500. On the other, it's very cool and interesting, there's a lot to learn from the attempt, and there's a lot of actually useful designs already for certain situations. I wonder how much success they've had getting this information out to people who it could actually help?
As someone who has worked in some parts of southern Africa decades ago, and who recently stopped buying off ali (for everything, but mostly beekeeping equipment) there is a Big Thing you are forgetting to tell: Right And Ability To Repair.
Secondhand nearly always means you can assure quality, because it has survived at least one owner. Probably decades of abuse and repairs. You can see where it was welded. You know it has survived years in heat, rain, mud and under stress.
You don't want that immersion pump of your irrigation, to break the moment you drove 150km home. Even if you can afford to buy 10 pumps and have 9 spares, you still need the time, travel and effort of replacing. Sometimes the Ali stuff is really good quality. Sometimes it isn't and there is no-way to tell.
As a beekeeper: having a hivetool break that moment the bees are becoming angry and you need to finish fast, is worth ten times that €18.00 I saved by ordering Chinese tools. Having a hive tip over because some chinese screws turned over and didn't hold a foot in place is worth a hundred times that €80 I saved by ordering a cheap Chinese knock-off.
I'm not saying Chinese fabrication equals bad quality. But I am saying that a lack of QA leads to varying quality. Which means it can be really good. But also that it can be poor. This downside risk is more than enough reason to often skip cheap Ali orders.
I see this project more as an experiment on how to make a functional and durable machine that is fixable when it breaks.
While this solution appears fairly rudimentary, I think there's a real demand for more simplistic, compatible, and capable farm machinery when combines are a million a piece and tractors are a quarter that.
A single family with a 28hp tractor cannot farm 1000 acres effectively. It's hard to find 10 families each with a 28hp tractor willing to go all-in to farm 1000 acres. And if you could, they'd get wiped out by the conglomerate that uses a stable of million dollar combines to farm 20,000 acres.
A California farmer doesn't feed a Central Valley community. An Iowa farmer doesn't feed all their townfolks. Their target market is the entire globe. Pigs to China, soy to Japan, barley to Germany, corn to Tunisia.
That said, I think you are right that there is a market for capable, compatible tractors. And also a market for 28hp tractors. In the auto world, Volkswagen and Toyota each make 11 million cars a year and even Suzuki makes 3 million. But there is still a place for Tata to make 1 million cars per year to meet a specific demand. If you are content to meet a specific need, and not driven to be top 5 or bust... If you don't even need to be top 20... There is a place where you could stay in business.
I think they have designed a neat utility vehicle, forklift and loader, but it's not a tractor.
However, Marcin says they rigorously test all the equipment on an actual farm, and are quite familiar with tractor maintenance, so I don't think he's that far off base.
Regardless, most of the engines on a farm are sitting idle for vast portions of the year (i.e. combines, forage harvesters, swathers, sprayers, etc.) so a modular unit that maximized year-round utility could reduce maintenance and downtime caused by corrosion and other problems inherent in idle machinery.
Diesel engines hate sitting for long periods without running, as well as dislike running under excessively light loads for their horsepower. Being able to spin up multiple pods to match a load is an interesting solution.
some of the pitfalls that need to be addressed:
"Modular Power Unit" is undefined. can i run it on white gas? diesel? kerosene? what is the engine displacement? air cooled or liquid? If we mean to say this tractor is all-electric, keep in mind most small farms arent equipped to charge anything more advanced than a cordless drill or flashlight.
Cab frame has no safety glass or panels, so the operator enjoys every rock and every tree branch :(. a shade canopy is a nice add as well.
no lights. this is a nonstarter for every farmer that wakes up at 4 am.
quick hoses are nice, but I cant find a PTO knuckle so its restricted to things like lifting and towing (and maybe ripping). this is okay, but for an un-weatherized vehicle ill need to use barn real-estate to store, its certainly lacking.
Overall, this site https://wiki.opensourceecology.org/wiki/Main_Page is much better than the linked one for overall information about this initiative, for example https://wiki.opensourceecology.org/wiki/Power_Cube_Design_Ra... .
They'd probably find the tooling and jigs they need to do the job properly would be much cheaper and easier if they didn't go way overkill. This little engine does not require a huge 1/2" thick steel plate to mount it on.
> no lights. this is a nonstarter for every farmer that wakes up at 4 am.
Not to dismiss those concerns but I would say they could be addressed in later versions of this machine. For lighting, after-market solutions or even duct taping a powerful flashlight or two would do the trick.
The market is that of farmers with little to no mechanization. The aim is to be made out of readily available materials and to be as simple to repair as possible.
These were luxuries only our nicest tractors had growing up ~20 years ago. I imagine the market for an Open Source Tractor can similarly make do without.
Having occasionally used a (cabin-less) tractor without power steering for years, I'd pick that over a cabin for instance.
Dust and pesticides can be worked around with masks, goggles or scarves when occasionally found around. A straw hat for sunlight. In any case, this is a base building block, people are free to design add-ons for it depending on their needs :)
A box doesn't fix everything. You still have to get air into it from somewhere and it's all gonna come from outside. But sitting in a dust cloud is a little different situation than getting some dust through a vent. Especially if you're sweating like a pig the whole time.
Similarly flatlander recreational/club bicyclists don't have anything nice to say about farmers spraying anhydrous ammonia on a windy day. Luckily didn't happen very often, and never up close (>400 yards), but that's still enough to really get your attention.
He had a ted talk sometime ago as well: https://www.ted.com/talks/marcin_jakubowski_open_sourced_blu...
Sounds like a fairly simple project.
I'd imagine you also need repositories of processes and assembly instructions.
I believe that the creator of the project uses these, and has said that there are alternatives in case gas is not available.
If you were able to cheaply apply the upgrades you're talking about (safety glass, lights) for some nominal fee (maybe sub $500?) would this a viable alternative to other options? How many "quirks" are you willing to put up with before you throw up your hands and go with a more commercial option?
I'm so old I remember Microsoft's white papers on how shitty Linux was, how it couldn't do this and that, etc.
But the cool thing was, like this tractor, you could fix it yourself.
Hydraulic motors with PTO splined shafts are widely available like this: https://www.surpluscenter.com/Hydraulics/Hydraulic-Motors/Ag...
Please contribute anything you know about custom hydraulic lines to https://wiki.replimat.org/wiki/Main_Page - I will approve accounts for any hackernews folk who request one.
I appreciate all your points about the sort of tractor best suited to your unique circumstances. I don't see anything about our communities designs which prevent you from constructing such a machine using our parts and techniques. I think it'd be a neat design to have among all the others which can be built this way!
Source: ran a 15-acre veggie farm for 2 years with nothing but a BCS walking tractor.
It's likely because the importation of the BCS units into Canada just ends up making them and the attachments quite expensive. If I was in Europe, or even the US, I think they'd be more cost effective.
The tractor + loader ended up being a more useful overall implement because the loader is just invaluable on a rural property generally. So many things made easier by being able to move around heavy loads. And snow clearance with a 70" snowblower is an entirely different story than walking behind a 30" one. I used to have Gravely walk behind with a snowblower on it and my back suffered for it.
I have 3ph rototiller, snowblower, rotary mower, posthole auger, toolbar with discs, s-tines, wood chipper, and single bottom plow. And access to a bunch of other stuff from the neighbours. All of those things would be potentially cheaper for a BCS unit, but much harder to get, and less powerful. The used market for standard 3ph attachments is much easier to deal with rather than the niche walk-behind stuff.
On the lower end I use a wheel hoe. And I'm currently working on restoring and electrifying an old planet jr unit.
The BCS and Grillo units are really neat. But the small farm market isn't big enough for them here to get proper dealer support, used equipment supply, and deal with the importation issues. All of the neat attachments weren't available to me without dealing with Earth Tools in the US, with all the brokerage and customs and shippings issues that would come with that.
There are two things I am concerned, the material and the design.
My main concern with the material would be how much shear the 1/4 thick mild steel tubes could handle the machine's weight.
My concern with the design is that it would not be sturdy enough to withstand the weight of the machine even if the steel technically could. The tubes at the top are fastened with one through bolt. Two if you count the bolt holding the lower pipe.
Contrast that with the arms of the machine. Double pipes and a(2, front and back) thick gusset plate at the pivot.
You see the same construction at the front of the arm, 2 gusset plates on either side of the pipes with 6 bolts on the arm side and 4 on the loading side. Also washer to spread the load on the gusset plates.
The arm/bucket is what does the work, so I expect it to be engineered to work.
The machine will not be picking up loads heavier than it, otherwise it would tip forward. So any load put on the roll cage will be greater than the load put on the bucket but I do not see the attention to detail on the roll cage that I see in the bucket/arm connections.
I could be wrong, I am not a design/structural engineer. I work as a production engineer but in a factory that builds highway construction equipment. The designs that I am used to seeing are single steel tube bent in an arch for greater strength. Also you are not allowed to weld or cut holes in the tube as that would compromise the strength.
Are you sure? In Switzerland, most farms I know have at least one dusty three-phase power outlet somewhere in a shed. Sometimes just 16A, but that should be sufficient for many use cases.
The only person I know who actually had 3-phase power run to his house was using it for a ceramic kiln.
(Writing from Denmark, where my small apartment has three phase power. It's standard, I don't know why.)
Everything is a wiki stub. Almost all the topics have unanswered questions going back to 2013. Some have a nice top-level "blueprint" looking infographic, and then absolutely zero details about building them.
I'm not sure how to use this project, although given my 40 acres and great desire to DIY, I should be a prime candidate.
Most of the stubs don't even have a summary yet! Let alone details.
If that stuff is there and I missed it, then the website UI is desperately broken.
As a for-instance, can someone find plans to build the LifeTrac6 Cab Frame? That's the very tractor linked here, and I can't see any real details. The linked page and its descendants seem to be a list of ideas that have absolutely no detail expressed.
I wish it was easier to find this wiki from the site originally linked.
I didn't find it. What I found was a handful of farmer types who had welded up their own solutions, who stopped mid-how-to to espouse the liberating power of learning to weld mild steel on your own. Paying someone to weld for you is super expensive, and alarmingly so if you live far out of town.
We know from CivE disaster/case studies that bolts through square tubing - especially through the ends of square tubing - have failure modes that are not obvious even to construction workers, let alone you or I. Might be that the OST project should be considering welding as a base skill for assembling a tractor by hand. Especially if anyone is going to make it earn its living by dragging around heavy, high-friction things like dirt.
Is this going to cost less or come with more capabilities?
I know this project is really cool as an engineer, but engines and vehicles in all forms are pretty much a solved problem in the third world. Those guys can squeeze 50 extra years out of a van that we would take to the scrap, building new open source models really isn’t a priority
A 25 year old tractor design (probably out to 75+ year old tractors even) still has hundreds of millions of dollars in infrastructure and tooling behind it. Molds or dies for a single part can easily reach into 6 figures, without taking into account the $10 million injection molding machine.
The simplifications you could do would be limited, as every design decision affects the placement and access to a dozen other parts.
Take a part like this, which is for a Deere 750 (small tractor) released in 1989: https://www.compactractorparts.com/tractor-parts/john-deere/...
I could model that in CAD in under an hour. Lining up manufacturing is a minimum 12 month process with preexisting relationships, and would take upwards of $250k to get in the door. This also doesn't take into account the "societal collapse" angle - post-apocalypse there's no way to make that yourself, and manufacturers in China would presumably no longer be an option.
We have a real problem today with affordability and right to repair. My wife’s family are rice farmers from rural Thailand. My father in law had tears in his eyes when I bought him a $25k basic Kubota tractor; his individual productivity went through the roof while the amount of backbreaking work he had to do fell. Small time agriculture does not pay enough for such folks to make such a purchase on their own, and a major repair could still be out of reach. I thought this project was trying to address these problems. I don’t see such people as having to tooling or time to build their own tractor.
As for “post apocalyptic”- I will band with others with guns and tractors and use our guns to protect our tractors; I’m not interested in building a road warrior tractor; I’m interested in easy to repair.
That's very impressive.
Here are their videos on Vimeo. Most of the activity was 7-10 years ago.
If you want a cheap tractor, look on Alibaba. There are decent offerings around US$2000.
Edit: this article itself is from 2013.
Their current design revolves around a Briggs and Stratton Professional 28hp gas engine. 49M777 I think is the designation.
Traction engines were not the first engines on the farm: prior to that, you could find steam engines on wheels that would be pulled by horses to different areas of the farm and fields to run belt-driven machines such as bailers or threshers, which were stationary -- you'd load hay into a baler with a pitchfork, and the machine would compact it into a bale.
Tractors absorbed this function with their own belt wheels or the PTO on modern tractors, which is used to power machines stationary or moving (modern bailers move around the field, but tractors will still be used to power a stationary grain elevator). They also added three point hitches and hydraulics to automatically raise and lower equipment.
But as long as it pulls, it's a tractor.
Edit: drive shaft wear.
It just seems to be an extra complication and harder to steer if not hydraulic assisted.
I mean I can imagine that if you have the tools to build those, you'd have a welder as well. Granted, welding might be a bit more challenging than cutting beams and drilling holes.
I would imagine that if wanted to weld it instead the design would also work for you.
A circular saw, a mag drill, and a stick welder could take you a long way on a project like this, and you could use regular steel plate, tube, angle bars, etc. I think a lot of cost and weight is being sacrificed in the name of "modularity", for questionable benefit.
If you need to, hypothetically, bury your society-bootstrapping supplies, your wrenches and hole bar will probably survive. But a welder may not.
Mind you, I've seen some... interesting welders cobbled together, I saw one that was a load of wire wrapped around a rubber inner tyre. Here  is one made from a microwave transformer.
General construction kit for real world applications. In theory you could take a machine apart and use the beams for some other machine. A smaller kit could build any of the machine designs as needed.
The problem with grid-beam is that it really only seems to make sense if you A) have lots of grid-beams in various sizes already, and B) are making, taking apart, and repurposing things frequently. Without A, making grid beams is a lot more work than just purpose-cutting your pieces, and without B, you don't really have a reason to drill all those extra holes.
The grid beam book talks a lot about what you need to make beams from scratch. You don't have to do that. You can buy (or print!) beams and get to work right away.
I've been working to document everything I've done with Gridbeam, and related tech here: https://wiki.replimat.org/wiki/Main_Page
I lived with Phil and RJ Jergenson for a couple years around 2012, tried to learn from their experience and mistakes. They weren't happy with 1ft lengths in every project, even though they were an improvement in reusability over all lengths free-for-all. I've since moved all the replimat designs to use lengths 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 only. Which allows for center pivots and divisible-by-two lengths whereas the Jergensons could only divide by two. We also hit countertop height a little better. Little tweaks.
I try to communicate with everyone listed in the "Friends" section on the right hand side of https://www.replimat.org/ regularly. I'm excited that things seem to be gathering steam for all of us.
Quite the opposite: It is incredibly _simple_, in that regular tractors need huge complex specialized infrastructure to manufacture, and this doesn't.
> too wide, has low ground clearance etc.
The shortcomings are due to this still being a prototype: The 6th iteration. And it's this way because it was easier and cheap to design and produce it the way that it is.
Now, let's say the current shortcomings are deal-breakers for 80% of potential users. Then you already have a tractor usable for 10% of people. In iteration 7 they'll address a few other issues, and still more in iteration 8 and you'll have something worthy of mass-production for a large fraction of users.
*Edit:* Well, apparently LifeTrac 6 is from 11 years ago! And there are newer iterations of it.
For some odd reason my mind kept the "Open Source" limited to digital tech spaces, but it's not!
It is, at the same time, a serious indictment of modern industrial society that they want to. Industrial manufacturing economics ought to be supplying tractors cheaply enough that there is no temptation to this.
Perhaps that will bring in the elusive utopia.
Is it highly powerful or something?
For example, the automotive aftermarket is so prolific and complete that you can build an entire stereotypical mid-century car with entirely aftermarket parts, but I wouldn't call that "open source". People have also been making tractors out of car parts for a long time (there are some old magazines with plans for such), as well as fixing heavy equipment by making their own parts --- look at various YouTube channels for examples; and I don't think any of this is comparable, nor should it be, to the quagmire of IP laws that the software world is subjected to.
tl;dr: Good intent, bad naming and perhaps some ignorance of how the physical hardware world operates.