Factor e Live – Episode 9 – Rototiller, More Solar Panels, Biodiesel Reactor + Crowdsource Funding

Here is the continuing saga with the open source tractor. We built a quick attach plate for rapid interchanging of implements. We built an open source rototiller as the first such implement. Now we can switch readily between the tiller and loader bucket – as needed for CEB construction.

We also show how we put together our biodiesel reactor. We document further solar panel fabrication and testing, and other fruits of Factor e Farm.

The next step is an enhanced program of core technology tree development and crowdsource research. In the next 6 months, we hope to have the following infrastructure technologies designed, built, and deployed:

This is not a small task. To get there, the immediate plan is:

  • Get people here – 4 others in total, plus Brittany and I. We will house the team in 7/16 inch, painted, oriented strand board (OSB) Hexayurts – temporary for the next month as CEB housing comes into place.
  • We work on housing and central heating as the prime objectives. Uninsulated Hexayurts are good only for about another month – until winter comes. Thus, we’ll dedicate one person of the team to work full time on central heating. Two options are a CEB brick stove – and Babington-burner flamethrower with heat exchange coil, running on waste waste vegetable oil – waste oil of insufficient quality for biodiesel production.
  • This is not happening without some crowdsource contributions. We’re setting up a crowdsource funding basket for this phase
    • The budget is $7.18 per sheet of OSB, times 18 pieces, or $130 in materials, plus flashing to make the joints (tape is not strong enough), for a total of about $150 each – times 3 temporary buildings like this, or a grand total of $450:
    • $400 stipend per month for new recruits, times 4
    • $1100 in cement, gravel, insulation, doors, and other building materials for CEB construction
      • $3150 total for the next month

    Chip in at our wiki. The main program is getting people here and building. The background work is crowdsource research to get the technology tree above growing – mainly the biofuel, fab, steam engine, and solar turbine integration. More on this later.


  1. […] – and they need to raise some money to keep the work going, so send them some cash. Sep 23 2008 12:17 am | The Global Picture | […]

  2. stu

    whoa…nice work on the tiller and the quick attatch plate…seems like it is working pretty slick…

    glad to see things are progressing nicely….

    u had a chance to run a batch thru the reactor yet?

  3. japhy

    Well having gone through two Michigan winters in a poorly insulated house, I have done some experimenting with this. 🙂

    First thing: insulating is one of those things that adds initial cost but will probably pay for itself within a month in these things. Especially on or in the roof. Roof insulation should be > 3x wall insulation. Also, caulk those joints!

    Open flames are a shitty, inefficient way to heat. You want to be heating a centralized mass. Also radiant is preferable to convection. Also, fumes. Also, sleeping next to open flames. 🙁

    You might check out high efficiency woodstoves. Basically just a metal box with a flue in back. The principle is to harness as much of the radiant heat of the fire as possible. Most of the convective heat needs to go out the chimney anyhow with the smoke.

    South facing windows will help more than you might think. Bonus points: let the sunlight soak into a dark colored, massive object. The sun comes in shallower than 45 in the winter, so you can shade in the summer. Two layers of acrylic with caulk. Thicker is better but more expensive.

    There is a type of burner whose name escapes me, that is basically a wick running through a perforated metal tube that is used with alcohol fumes. Compressing air for a burner makes it pretty inefficient, no?

    I love this project though- you all have made tremendous progress.

  4. […] of many related endeavors and make progress on them all. Similarly, Marcin Jakubowski’s open source tractor is a “keystone species” for a whole “ecosystem” of endeavors in appropriate […]

  5. […] The month of October was taken up primarily by field testing of the open source LifeTrac/CEB/rototiller/toothbar bucket/backhoe combination – as applied to site and earth preparation for CEB […]

  6. […] The second point is that it we used a 1/4 hp electric motor with a roller pump, as shown in a former video. The type of pump shown with the Appleseed processor lasted us no more than 2 hours. We found that […]

  7. Hanna

    we should patronize the use of Biodiesel because it is a renewable source and fossil fuels would soon be depleted. `

  8. Erik Brage

    I just did some calcs and found that compressing air before burning the fuel is a very small percentage of the heat obtained, about 0.4 % assuming one has to compress the gas to 1 atmosphere relative (2 atm absoule) preassure.