Archive for Compressed Earth Block Press

Progress on the MicroHouse

Open Source Ecology’s two-module MicroHouse

MicroHouse Construction Manager Chris Reinhart is moving forward on the OSE Microhouse design. The Microhouse is a modular, low-cost, simple-but-comfortable, Compressed Earth Brick (CEB) house design. It is designed such that the different parts of the house can be build in parallel – walls, utility modules, roof sections, windows and doors, and others. We are approaching this design from a “Housing Construction Set” approach – where we are developing basic, interoperable, scalable, modifiable building modules. We are experimenting with the limits of earth housing as a building method comparable in cost and build time to standard stick-frame construction – while allowing for much longer building lifetime.

A two-module design has emerged, featuring a courtyard in between. One 12′ x 12′ unit will be devoted to work and sleeping space (possibly a sleeping loft), while the other will house a kitchen, bath, and dining space.

The Microhouse’s passive solar design for direct solar gain can be built using compressed earth bricks produced by our CEB Press.  The building collects heat from its southern exposure without losing it on the other three sides.

Design for direct solar gain—See Chris Reinhart’s blog, linked below, for larger image.

The bricks will be configured to create thick, insulating walls which will keep the MicroHouse cool in summer and will keep heat from escaping in winter:

Possible brick stacking patterns for MicroHouse walls

A reverse shed roof will allow for easy mounting of solar panels, and high windows are an option to vent warm air out of the building. In an innovative departure from conventional construction techniques, a modular roof design is being considered, with each module weighing no more than 200 lbs., so that a small team of builders can lift a module into position without the help of a crane. Compressed straw packed into each module serves as insulation. Chris plans to test and refine the roof module design concept before the actual build, as there is little information be be found on such modular roof design.

Proposed MicroHouse modular roof design

For evolving design details and planning, follow Chris Reinhart’s working design log here. Here at Factor e Farm, the Microhouse build, scheduled for September 28, will likely involve 24-28 people working in crews on various aspects of the building process so that build time can be minimized. The OSE team will be making continuing improvement to the CEB Press + Tractor + Pulverizer + Power Cubes to make it all happen.

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The Liberator – CEB Press Prototype IV – Design Complete

We’re pleased to announce design completion of Prototype IV of the Compressed Earth Brick (CEB) Press.  The machine has come a long way since Prototype I. The main changes since Prototype III - part of our Christmas Gift to the World of 2011 -  includes redesign of the hopper, a stronger frame, the next iteration of the automation controller, and general  streamlining of the design for fabrication.

Below is a video history of the Liberator from 2007 until present :

The CEB Story 2012 from Open Source Ecology on Vimeo.

Below is a video illustrating the latest 3D CAD of the machine.

The improvements are detailed as follows: Read the rest of this entry »

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CEB Press: Generation 3 Electronics

Recently, the CEB Press electronics improved to the third major iteration, replacing Generation 2 electronics from September of this year. Generation 3 electronics consist of a revised solenoid driver board that eliminates the need for the Arduino breakout board.

Generation 3 is now under evaluation at Factor e Farm and at Creation FlameGeneration 1 electronics included 2 solenoid driver boards borrowed from the RepRap project, and is robust but not recommended due to unnecessary complexity. Generation 2 included consolidation of the 2 driver boards into one, in surface mount format, and is proven in field testing with over 100 hours of brick pressing. Generation 1 and 2 included the breakout board, and the Generation 3 redesign eliminates the need for the breakout board by including sensor connections right on the driver board. This reduces controller complexity and cost significantly over Generation 2.

Furthermore, the organization of the controller box has been streamlined, the materials required for the sensor unit have been reduced, and the electro-hydraulic integration now assembles more intuitively.

We aim to reduce the complexity of the CEB controller to the point that a novice could build it in a few hours from available parts. Read the rest of this entry »

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Production Run Update

Greetings from Factor e Farm.

Life has been busy around here.

We’re in the middle of a production run, so we’re working pretty much round the clock. What’s cool is that as we’re building things, we’re finding all these things to improve about the process. There’s a lot of room to grow, and we’re pumping out a lot.

Here’s a few photos of the past week. Read the rest of this entry »

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Construction Time

We have finally started construction after spending most of the year developing equipment. We finished the CEB press on Tuesday. The open source Tractor, CEB press, Power Cube, and Soil Pulverizer are now in action. The main obstacle of soil handling has been declared solved.

CEB Construction Time from Marcin Jakubowski on Vimeo.

We began building the columns for the modular construction system as described in a previous post.

We have until November 14 before we cut off our building experiments due to weather. We have an open invitation to anyone who wants to help. We will be out there until Nov. 14. By then, we aim to complete 2-4 modular sections, 16×16 feet each. We have the concrete pads already prepared. Whatever we don’t finish we will take up in spring starting April 1, 2011 – towards a complete workshop as in the former post.

We still need materials for the remailing 3 truss sections and 4 roof sections. We reported that the trusses total $250 per section ($750 total). Sheet metal roofing is $300 per section, for about 400 square feet including 3 foot overhangs ($1200 total). This covers over 1000 square feet of floor space, and the entire workshop will be three times this size – to allow comfortable production of 4 CEB presses or tractors at one time. The workshop is intended to help fund the revolution, under the assumption that we get our ducks in a row with marketing.

The interesting part is that we aim to demonstrate that it takes only 3 full days per 16×16 foot section with only 2 people working, including roof and columns, but no infill walls. We aim to get to this point as a result of the next 9 days of practice. We’re shaking down all the parts of the method, and so far the soil pulverizing workflow is solved. Our optimization includes installing the automatic controls for the CEB press by Sunday. Chip in:

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Solar Village 2010 Update

Construction should start at Factor e Farm on about September 1. Out of nowhere, one of our readers from Germany produced this 3D walk-through of the CEB house that Will and I drew up in Qcad in 2D:

The 3D walkthrough is this:

Solar Village 2010 in 3D from Marcin Jakubowski on Vimeo.

Sound track credit – Mind Field by DJ Blue. Game engine editor used was Sauerbraten.

This led to a very interesting discussion regarding reality and virtual reality, and how massive multiplayer online gaming – believe it or not – could help save the world? Read the rest of this entry »

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Open Source Drill Press: Prototype 1

Fabrication optimization for The Liberator open source CEB press involves designing and deploying four, heavy duty, open source fabrication tools: (1) drill press for drilling 1″ and larger holes directly in metal without pre-drilling; (2) 120 ton hole puncher/ironworker for punching up to 1.5″ holes in 1″ thick metal, and shearing up to 12″ wide slabs of 1″ thick steel; (3) torch table for cutting meta via computer control; and (4) heavy duty lathe for making motor couplers. The reason for the above developments is a significant reduction in fabrication time – such as a second to punch a 1/2″ hole in The Liberator frame, as opposed to a  minute required for drilling. And, where we do have to drill 1/2″ holes, the time is reduced by avoiding switching of drill bits for pre-drilling of starter holes.

We have completed the initial prototype of the heavy duty, open source drill press. We are glad to report encouraging results, and a good addition to RepLab – the open source Fab Lab. It contains a hydraulic motor for the drilling and a hydraulic cylinder for the down pressure – so this is a literal press, and it is not short on torque or power as the motor can sustain up to 20 hp. We are using our Universal Rotor for the motor. This same rotor was already used for the lathe, tree auger (report forthcoming), and honey extractor (report forthcoming) – as it’s part of our LifeTrac infrastructure. This is part of our modularity concept in action – a key feature of the Global Village Construction Set.

You can see our wiki work page for the design and bill of materials, and the .dxf design file is at the Open+Pario repository. See the video of the build with explanation, plus  demonstration of drilling a 1″ hole, without pre-drilling, in a 1″ steel slab. The workshop fireworks are extra, as we just passed the Fourth of July in these united States.

Join the forum discussion on this post

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3 Minute Video on Factor e Farm and The Liberator

Sean is here for a part of the summer to gather footage for his documentary on the beginnings of Factor e Farm. The time lapses in the last blog post are also part of his work. Here is a 3 minute video about Factor e Farm and The Liberator open source CEB press.

We are planning on putting together a powerful documentary on the core message of OSE – distilling key concepts and filling in with our work as the evoloving substance. We feel that our message is still poorly communicated, largely because we are too busy at work creating the substance to make the message compelling. We may not get around to this documentary until we complete the tractor prototype II, soil pulverizer prototype II, torch table, hole puncher, drill press, and lathe – all open source, of course. The constructions/fabrication that we’ll do with these tools should complete the package of initial results on the Global Village/Resilient Community Construction Set – such that we’ll have plenty of compelling material for an interesting video. We’ll see when we get around to it. In the meantime, if you want to see our work go faster, subscribe to the True Fans.

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Full Product Release

Note: We no longer consider this to be a Full Product Release because this is an older version of the machine. Further prototypes and improvements have been made, see update post of Sep. 24, 2012

We are pleased to announce the official, Full Product Release of The Liberator, the high-performance, open source, Compressed Earth Brick (CEB) press. We are releasing it under the OSE License for post-scarcity economics, and we are now taking orders. You can see the plans here.

Full Product Release indicates that the design is sufficiently mature for widespread replication, based on proven functionality and performance of the designs provided. Improvements may be made, but it is not critical for Factor e Farm to lead this effort. The design is sufficient for us to now focus on developing the next products in line – namely the open source tractor, LifeTrac, PowerCube, and others.

We are offering the fully automatic version of The Liberator with 6 foot wide hopper and hopper vibrator for US$8k, FOB at Factor e Farm, Kansas City area, USA. This machine can produce up to 16 bricks per minute. We are offering the manually-controlled version, The Liberator-M, with a small hopper, for US$5k. This machine may produce 5-8 bricks per minute, depending on the dexterity of the operator and the power source. The design of the manual machine is identical to the fully automatic version, minus the large hopper, vibrator, sensors, controller, and solenoid valves. It may be upgraded to the fully automatic version by retrofitting the missing components. Note that our machines do not include the power source, as they can be plugged into any source of hydraulic power. We achieved 16 bricks per minute with a hydraulic power source of 24 gallons per minute. The next competitors with a machine of comparable soil throughput appear to be priced between $45k (Powell and Sons) and $65k (AECT). You can see our full product description and features here. Our price is subject to change, and we have the present capacity to produce 4 machines at one time, with on-demand fabrication lead time of 3 weeks. If you are interested in building with CEBs this season, you may want to consider ordering a machine now. Email us.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Here is a 30 second video showing how we crate up the CEB press for shipping, which we dismantled two posts ago.


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