Global Village Construction Set

The Global Village Construction Set is an open hardware initiative aimed at sharing tool-building knowledge. They believe that to build civilization you need forty basic tools, eight of which they’ve already prototyped and made available on their wiki. Included in these is a tractor which reminds us of a beefy bobcat. It has a soil pulverizing attachment which can be used to break down soil and feed it to their soil brick compressor. That machine spits out compressed dirt bricks which are used as building materials. They’re stacked on concrete footings and then limewashed to protect the un-baked bricks from water erosion. Does this remind anyone else of real-life Minecraft?

Above you can see a group of Open Source Ecology developers showing off bricks in front of the machine that made them, with the tractor/soil pulverizer to the right. Take a look at the videos about the construction set and brickmaking after the break. And learn more by perusing their weblog.

If you think an apocalypse is on the way you might want to buddy-up with these folks. They seem to know what they’re doing.

Global Village Construction Set


Building with soil


[Thanks Chris]

56 thoughts on “Global Village Construction Set

  1. Ugh, you had to plug that Minecraft shit. Do you realise that there are hundreds of refund requests everyday that are going un-honored because the guy is ‘not sure how to process them right now’?

  2. So this is essentially a way for rich 1st worlders to play farmer. Cause for the rest of the world that actually needs tools and distillation, these things are way out of their budget. We’re talking about people who budget to buy a chicken. To put that in perspective, you can buy a chicken for less than the price of a soda…
    I dunno, rather than prep all this “distributed community” crap. Which is highly unfeasible, and they are seriously messing on their economics. (the city is a highly optimized system that’s pretty hard to beat… maybe if we had super low energy cost highspeed transport this would work… aside from the idiot factor of people running unregulated treatment plants and doing all sorts of environmentally terrible stuff in their “sustainable communities”) They should be working on turning the millions of acres of farm land we already have to use into a sustainable model. Not the dumb, no rotation, fertilizer spray death wish our farming is now.

    1. you sir have probably never farmed a day in your life. I realize this is old. but your an idiot. farm equipment is expensive and even first worlders as you put it could use this to be effective in their farming. To tell you the truth i hope you starve to death.

  3. @gcoetzee

    You have a couple of valid points there. But while this may today be rich 1st worlders playing farmer they do have a point with what they do. They are designing farm tools and construction tools in a way that makes them massively cheaper than most of what is available today.

    While a whole village out in the third world might not have enough resources to buy a tractor today, maybe with the help of efforts such as these, they may afford it a year from now and thus increasing their own quality of life… who knows..

    Even if its not super effective for these people to do this project does not mean its pointless.

    Now chill and think a bit before you spew your ill informed opinions on the net like so many anonimous gits before you :)

  4. This is extremely interesting but their wiki doesn’t have much information and is chaotic to dig through, not to mention riddled with vague catchphrases. This just makes them sound downright elitist “If they still question our accounting practices, they are questioning our integrity, and they cannot be convinced readily to be our friends. They are probably not worth pursuing as supporters because they lack the intelligence required to understand the scope of this work.”.

    I was hoping for some plans or well written how-tos… anyone find any? I’m lost.

  5. “But I also remembered the time it took to build, the number of people needed for efficiency [sic], and how the smell of poo stayed on me for days.” —Scott Galant

    Funny how the above posters immediately start indulging in the fantasy of pushing their bad ideas on noble savages.

    The best thing about these guys is that they seem to be content at making toys to allow comfortable hippies to play at Utopia, and are on more of a sales trip than a missionary trip.

  6. I’m still trying to figure out what exactly their product is. I get their rough concept but from what I can tell browsing through their site it boils down to asking for donations to pay for their eco commune. I didn’t find any real valuable information. They say open plenty of times, I just want to see some plans for their equipment not rambling and codespeak.


  7. I’ve been following these guys for a while. I wish I could be more excited about what they are doing but their ideas and methods fall apart under real scrutiny.

    They basically re-invented an over-complex version of the sod hut. Rather than re-inventing the wheel they would be far better off just looking at how 17th-18th century farmers lived and worked. A team of oxen would be more useful, sustainable and less dangerous than that monstrosity of a “tractor” they have cobbled together. If they really want to be oil dependent buy an old Ford 8n tractor. It would be WAY easier to maintain and even build new parts for. I’d like to see them replace the hydraulic system on that “tractor” without going to the store and buying parts made in China. This whole “project” couldn’t exist without the financial and social opportunities available in this country. If it could, peasants in India and China would have figured it out 200 years ago.

    This sort of thing was done in the 60’s and 70’s the Whole Earth catalog etc. and ultimately failed to thrive. The only meaningful difference I can see here is their move towards home/local fabrication which while not particularly new is becoming cheaper. Even that requires a steady stream of parts, power etc. that a) Cost money. and b) are only available because of massive industrialization. I’d honestly say that the off-grid-living movement is a much better place to look if you want a no-nonsense, pragmatic approach to the “distributed community”.

  8. True, they’re not selling a product. They’re selling participation in their commune.

    They also require a study program that includes: “Study of the mind and body to expand one’s consciousness, skills, and abilities, and to disseminate such human augmentation widely towards eliminating mind control of the masses”.

    Yes, you can snicker now.

    The other thing, their accounting is based on a lot of things being free that are “only free if your time has no value”.

  9. @Brent

    It seems like whenever I find something interesting when it comes to alternative living/housing… I also find a group of whacky new age cultists behind it. Not to say they are but the quote you posted gives me that feeling.The second thing I usually find is that they aren’t truly sustainable communities and either end up leeching off the local governments or large donations from outside the group. These types of groups love to throw around nonsense words as well.

    And what is with the abuse of the term open source… which honestly to me they don’t seem to be. It seems more like they are making a promise to be open source sometime in the future, maybe, if they get enough money donated, one day, possibly.

  10. Wow…the designs make we wonder if anyone in this commune as ever been to a third world country?

    I like to make and build as much as the next guy…and I won’t look at the bill until I am done, figuring there is a value in building. But in the end one has to be honest about the process. Claiming that it cost $1000 a year to keep an Allis Chalmers D-17 (50hp and drop dead reliable as any tractor ever made out of cast iron and middle american industrial art)running is such a monstrous mistatement that it makes me wonder about the other numbers provided…rather than build a $5000 tractor couldn’t one just…I don’t know learn to fix a D-17 and keep it out of the landfill?

    And why does everything around this movement have to look shabby? Is it a crime against earth to have something that looks less steampunk and just a little more refined?

  11. Do not agree here.

    Important tools needed before their tools.

    1 – Knowledge. Everything else is 100% useless without knowledge. Gather Craploads of books on how to do things like they USED to do. Living off the grid, old books from 100+ years ago. Plus modern books on medical and medicine. Yes you CAN sucessfully and safely treat yourself and others and not be a graduamatated doctor..

    2 – The Axe and the Saw. a Single steel axe can save a village.

    These things are FAR,FAR, FAR MORE important than a tractor, combine, skidloader, etc…..

  12. One of the big things that sets Angelina Jolie’s humanitarian work apart from others is that she organizes the delivery of farm animals, hand tools and trainers. With those, people can be independent.

    So many other ‘charity’ programs foster dependence you have to wonder if they’re designed that way on purpose.

  13. @ gcoetzee

    You’re an idiot. You clearly know absolutely nothing about farming. You say right now that we use “no rotation, fertilizer spray death” farming methods. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Do some learning, it might help you out in the long run…

  14. Even that oxy-acetilen torch may be ultra cheap to use in USA but even in Portugal thats super expensive, more than 200€ just to rent the gas cylinders, almost another 200€ to get then refilled and the torch will set you back another 500€ or more, with almost 1000€ you can just buy an old used tractor, old diesel engines are bullet proof and they dont have a lot of prone-to-leak-and-blow hidraulic tubes, damm even the oil for that is expensive as hell.

  15. back in the good ol’ days ppl were rather burning down villages lol
    these must be some hillbillies and that tractor look like some 4A cannon

    they should take a visit to linfen china and try to make something out there

  16. “Why can’t people in third world countries just go buy angle iron and cement at Home Depot and build their own tractors is it really that hard?”

    ^ The message I got from this ecomentalist rubbish.

  17. These people are crazy. I think most people agree with that. And, at the moment, their website seems to be down completely…hackaday caused unintentional DDoS?

    On the other hand, the tool concept itself is not bad. Modular, user-fabricated technology with interchangeable parts is a very good idea…for those of us with the capacity and skills to do so.

    I don’t know if their designs are practical, as I can’t actually LOOK at them, at the moment. But the idea of having a selection of interchangeable parts that can be used to build a wide variety of useful tools? I like that.

    Figure you need access to..four tools at any given time, to do a job. You have that many power supplies, and the basic frameworks to make them work. Then you have modular tool tips that can go on any of the units.

    that. If nothing else? is a damn good idea.

  18. Everyone is a damn critic.

    CEB brick presses are useful, and why is the third world below automation?

    Gadget culture led to the steam engine which gave birth to the industrial revolution.

    If the damn thing ran off of diesel, everyone would complain about it being short sighted/bio-fuel starvation inducing cruelty.

    Atleast with a hydraulics system, it’s not nearly as dependent on mass produced parts, and the repairs involve basic engine lathes vs. gear cutting equipment and foundrys.

    Hydraulic repairs create jobs. Diesel engines employ robots.

    One or two of you have volunteered in the Peace corps so suddenly you’re experts? Samuel Colt changed the world because he was tinkering with gadgets. He did a lot more for humanity than Mother Theresea ever did.

    Yes, they need to do more to deserve the “Open” brand.

    Yes, their personal politics conflict with their professionalism.

    But of all the commune’s I’ve seen, the Intellectual Property they are producing is just as valuable as a trashbag solar collector. There’s a void between eating dirt and John Deer currently filled with nothing but decrepit used equipment, some of which requires more labor to repair than it’s worth in metal.

    What if that repair labor(which is skilled labor, which is a vacuum) were replaced by robots which could mass produce tools for communes?

    Ask “What if” and you contribute to progress. Every dumb idea is a lesson learned for the Samuel Colt in the making.

  19. I have been wanting to make tractor, and was
    thinking of ether making one, or modding
    an old one to do what I needed, just moving
    dirt and gravel, pulling and hauling, basic


    I had also thought of just using an old car or
    truck, and build onto it what I needed – and more
    than likely there would be old cars and trucks
    that could be converted for farm use in poor countries, might want to look into that

  20. There is criticism above that openfarmtech isn’t actually publishing their plans. I think the problem is just that the site isn’t that well organized (and now is down), so it can be hard to find them. But the “Liberator” compressed earth block press, at least, has what appears to be pretty complete plans online under a legitimate open-source license:

    Maybe more overview information will be at when the site comes back up. I think I’ve also seen plans for other machinery on there when I’ve looked at the site before, but I’m not sure.

    I’ve been following these guys for a while, but I don’t have any relationship with them. I think some of their statements about farming are overoptimistic. I also think they will ultimately succeed.

    There are a few big differences now from the 1970s back-to-the-land movement.

    First, the Green Revolution has already happened, and so agricultural land is dramatically more productive than it was 40 years ago — measured against human necessity, not market prices.

    Second, those 40 years have also produced a lot of research in biointensive agricultural techniques. Some of this stuff is synergistic with the Green-Revolution mechanized farming stuff. A lot of the people who went back to the land in the 1970s are still back at the land.

    Third, the internet makes it easy to share knowledge and collaborate on problems with people who are far away. This makes bazaar-style open-source software development possible, and it’s starting to have the same effect on hardware, as hackaday constantly chronicles.

    Fourth, automated fabrication — computer numerical control — could make it possible to do a lot of machinery design and construction with less labor and less capital investment than was needed back then; and this synergizes with the internet, as you can instantly exchange plans with people far away.

    Finally, I don’t understand the criticism being leveled at these folks for being rich. Yes, clearly they’re rich. But this isn’t 1750; being rich isn’t proof you’re a ruthless murderer anymore. If they can get the fabrication of their machinery automated enough and efficient enough that they really achieve the 8× cost reduction they’re expecting, or even half of that, it will be a big help to farmers.

    (I’ve been living in a “third-world” country for the last four years, but I don’t have any special expertise about agricultural questions.)

  21. Their other design documents are also on Click through to a subproject, then click the “Documents” tab. The drill press has a DXF drawing; the induction furnace has a block diagram, schematics, notes, and so on; the soil pulverizer has DXF drawings in detail. They’re doing their work in the open, exposed to criticism and contribution, and the license they say they chose is a real open-source license.

    No criticism that they aren’t “really open source” holds any water.

    They do *not* need to do more to deserve the “Open” brand, contrary to the assertion of “haters” above.

  22. “They do *not* need to do more to deserve the “Open” brand, contrary to the assertion of “haters” above.”

    Yes, they do. And only on the internet does being a critic qualify someone as being a “hater”. I searched and searched for those diagrams. I’m glad someone finally shared them because I was unable to find them. It’s like a router I looked at a while ago the manufacturer called it open source but all the documentation was well hidden and could only be found after multiple requests. I don’t think any of us would call that truly open source. Their documentation is most likely unintentionally hidden but hidden nonetheless.

    My complaint still stands, their site is cryptic, chaotic, propagandist like, and confusing. If they want to be really “open” they need to clean it up. Open also means easily available to the masses.
    If they can’t take criticism and learn from their weaknesses they won’t stick around for long.

  23. Kragen it would appear you are wrong by majority rule. Nah these are just more enterprising trustifarians jumping on the green market. Similar to people incorrectly tagging photos to get hits, these folks are just generating sentences with green-speak buzzwords in the content. This upward-streaming, anti-globalization source kit contains knowledge garnered from the study of crosscultural intersection of various non-agrarian society cultural capital through a reinvestment in lost karmic revenue intertwined with a healthy, broad spectrum portfolio with diversity linked to a Bull market. um yeah. They should keep up the grant writing though. Gubment likes big words.

  24. You guys don’t get it. It is a lot more fun to build a wacky tractor out of I-beam than it is to keep an Allis Chalmers D-17 running.

    I mean, you have your choice: learning to keep an old tractor running means you’ll be hanging out as a newbie on forums run by old Herberts in non-ironic plaid shirts.

    Building a wacky tractor and putting up a website with green word salad, on the other hand, gets you profiled in Make Magazine. Hell, if they a bit of ivy-league polish (they really need an upgrade to their bong-hit political philosophy) to their rhetoric, and actually took some of this junk out of the country, they’d be in the running for a McArthur Grant.

  25. Much of the website does not work, giving 404 not found and 500 server errors. When I reported that I got this reply:


    It seems we are getting too many page views, which consumes too much CPU cycles. This prompted our web hosting provider to kill the wiki and blog.

    I’m trying to fix this soon.

    Thanks for your patience,

  26. Only way out of poverty: economic growth via division of labor. Trying to do everything on your own just keeps the poor poor. This group of modern monks will make little, if any, real progress.

  27. These guys are wacky!
    Whatch the video of the mud brick press in action, they talk about needing “at least 8 people to run it”.
    But they’re using a bucket to fill the damn thing!
    I would have thought they could have put all those skills to use and made an “open source shovel”!

    Their hearts are in the right place, but they don’t have a clue what they are doing!

    Kinda funny, kinda sad, but still inspiring, now if I could just some friends together and buy some land, tools, building materials…….

  28. Ah the naysayers. How about thinking on a greater scale than electronic components and consider what it takes to hack society. The because something is currently done a certain way does not make it optimal.

  29. I keep hearing people go “What a bunch of first world/bourgeious/priveleged…they wouldn’t be able to do that without outside societal…”

    Your ranting is being transmitted over the epitome of human technology and cooperation. Go bother your local baker, who might fling a muffin at you.

    They’re playing with mud and thinking about the ramifications of playing with mud. MEANWHILE, AT THE LEGION OF DOO- I mean.. ON THE INTERNET…you’re griping about them playing with mud.

    The level of irony is deadly. I suggest not considering this further.

  30. Bob said, “And only on the internet does being a critic qualify someone as being a “hater”.”

    Bob, when I said “haters”, with quotes, I was referring to the person earlier in the comment thread who signed their post using that word as their name. Sorry that wasn’t clear.

    “It’s like a router I looked at a while ago the manufacturer called it open source but all the documentation was well hidden and could only be found after multiple requests. I don’t think any of us would call that truly open source. … Open also means easily available to the masses.”

    Bob, it sounds like you need to read the Open Source Definition, which was written by the people who invented the marketing term “open source” to clarify what they meant by it. There’s plenty of open-source software that doesn’t even *have* documentation; just look on GitHub.

    Blue carbuncle said, “Kragen it would appear you are wrong by majority rule.” The epistemology implied by that statement is highly suspect. The truth doesn’t work by majority rule. I might be wrong, but counting votes won’t tell you whether I am or not.

    Brent says, “learning to keep an old tractor running means you’ll be hanging out as a newbie on forums run by old Herberts in non-ironic plaid shirts.” If you watch their interview with the steam car guy, you’ll see they are committed to hanging out as a newbie on forums run by old Herberts in non-ironic plaid shirts, just different ones.

    Fred Hayek says, “Only way out of poverty: economic growth via division of labor.” Fred, economics has advanced a bit in the last 234 years; you might want to brush up a bit. Other contributing factors to economic growth are now widely acknowledged by economists. One of them is knowhow. (Actually, if you make it past the first chapter of Wealth of Nations, you’ll find some other factors that were already understood to be important 234 years ago.) Also, I don’t know if you have much experience with actual poverty, but it seems to coexist quite comfortably with economic growth.

    Cyberteque says, “I would have thought they could have put all those skills to use and made an “open source shovel”!” That’s an excellent idea. They call it the “soil pulverizer”, it attaches to the front of their tractor, and as I mentioned above, you can download the engineering drawings for it from their web site. Their latest video shows it in action.

  31. Browsing the site, i saw “tools” in blue in one of the pararaphs. i clicked it, and was promptly taken to a list of their tools with links to the designs and full plans.

    Sorry the site doesnt have a Google custom search for all you noobs who are too lazy to use ur EYEBALLS. lol

    Whos gonna profit the most from this info??
    SMALL FARMERS trying to get back on their feet.
    maybe a natural disaster washed their tractor off a cliff?
    “i kno! i can build one for pretty cheap with most of my parts from Northern Tool or my local hydraulic shop and my neighbor who has a welder.”

    and yea to all u guys sitting on a computer, dont hate on ppl playing in the mud. let them do what they want. its not like they r waking u up at 6am like most farmers would.

    you can always navigate away from a page kids. just walk away.

  32. @Kragen Javier Sitaker… If the documentation/code is not available for something it simply isn’t open source. For software that is code for a device like they are producing it is documentation. Sorry if that point was poorly communicated. They do have stuff available, unfortunately when I was looking none of the links worked and most of their site was down so it did not appear that they had documentation of any kind. They still need to clean the site up. Information that is hard to find restricts communication.

  33. So for everyone complaining that these are a bunch of rich yuppies trying to develop modern and sustainable farming methods: What would you have them do? Move to the suburbs, get a prius and some fair-trade coffee and pretend that they are actually doing anything of value by passively consuming “green” whatever? Frankly, even if they are “rich yuppies” I’d much rather have them contribute their efforts to things like this. I’ve been following this project for some time, and they publish results and plans, if the documentation is lacking it’s because they are busy building things. For that matter, poor documentation is common in open-source endeavors, and while that is a matter for improvement, I hardly think they should be singled out. As far as costs go, how many of you have priced out a combine lately? Do that before you criticize the expenses of these projects.

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