Monthly Archives: April 2011

Advanced Economy in a Box

TED Talk post
Open Source Ecology
Marcin Jakubowski describes his “civilization starter kit” idea to an enthusiastic audience at the TED conference held in Long Beach earlier this year.

Marcin plans to create open source designs with clear documentation, 3D models, schematics, blueprints and how-to videos for all of the 50 key technologies he believes are necessary to have a sustainable advanced industrial economy with local resources.

He shows construction hardware (a CEB press) that uses the dirt beneath your feet to make 5,000 compressed earth bricks in a day, enough to build a house.

Also, the LifeTrac tractor is an example of agricultural machinery that “breaks new ground,” although he’s also interested in no till permaculture organic food production.

Combine all that with the computerized fabrication and Internet distribution of ideas you’d expect from Make Magazine type hackers and perhaps shortages can be eliminated for jobs, food, fuel, housing and consumer doodads which can be 3D printed.

Way to go, Open Source Ecology! See Marcin’s TED Talk at YouTube.

Amateur UAVs, Commercial Drones for Peace

DIYDrones sez FedEx wants UAVsFound a link to Wired Editor-in-Chief, Chris Anderson’s DIYDrones.com site from an online Wired article, “Build It. Share It. Profit. Can Open Source Hardware Work?.”

UAV stands for “Unmanned Aerial Vehicle,” with applications listed at Wikipedia including “remote sensing; oil, gas and mineral exploration and production; transport; scientific research; armed attacks; and search and rescue.”

If the dollar loses its purchasing power, perhaps unmanned aerial vehicles will also deliver goods without the energy and labor costs of transporting a human pilot. Perhaps a robot will load your grocery order into a parcel delivery blimp or model aircraft, which will then travel to your location via GPS, internal map and a radio beacon to guide the craft to its destination at your place, even if you’re off-grid with no roads like in some third world village.

The economics will make UAVs dominant, whether there’s a bigger crash to come or not. Military drone maker Insitu quotes an Aviation Week item on its website:

“It’s official: Boeing’s Insitu subsidiary has outstripped Boeing Commercial Airplanes in delivery rates for air vehicles.”

The April, 2011 issue of Mechanical Engineering features “Drones For Peace” artwork on the cover. The feature article is entitled “Airborne, Autonomous & Collaborative.”

One can imagine the legal hurdles for the operator of such a robotic fleet. Certainly the FAA would be involved at this point. Details of the amateur legal requirements may be found at DIYDrones’ “Regulatory FAQ.”

Facebook’s Open Source Data Center Design

According to this post at Ars Technica, “Why Facebook open-sourced its datacenters,” Facebook has gone completely open source in its server hardware choices in order to compete with Google.

A couple of quotes from Jon Stokes’ article:

“Despite Google’s professed love for all things open, details of its massive datacenters have always been a closely guarded secret.”

and

“Facebook’s new OpenCompute.org project, in contrast, takes the exact opposite approach.”

There are energy and development cost savings from using this “Bazaar” community supported method when compared to the closed “Cathedral” approach.

If you’re building a data center and want to avoid legal hassles and unnecessary operating expenses, it’s worth checking out Facebook’s new OpenCompute system.