25 Ways Open Source is Catching On Beyond Software : Page 2

The open source movement is spreading far beyond software to space travel, cars, spying, textbooks, art -- even cupcakes.


How to Help Your Business Become an AI Early Adopter

Posted November 28, 2011

Cynthia Harvey

(Page 2 of 5)

Open Source Housing

6. Open Source House

Focused on providing sustainable housing for low-income people, Open Source House serves as a clearinghouse for ideas about how to build houses inexpensively. The group sponsors competitions to generate ideas about how to design and build affordable housing, and all ideas submitted become freely available to the public.

In addition, the group promotes the development of small businesses committed to building OS-Houses. They hope to facilitate more than 100,000 OS-Houses before 2020. In order to qualify as an OS-House, a building must meet eight criteria:

  1. The design must be embedded in the local culture.
  2. Future disassembly is part of the design, and all natural resources used are renewable.
  3. The design makes optimum use of local climate.
  4. The design meets local building standards.
  5. The load-bearing structure is separate from the skin.
  6. All connections are dry and demountable.
  7. All installations must guarantee a flexible organization of the household and provide a sustainable way of living.
  8. All designs must be publicly shared on the OS-House website.

So far, the group has held a competition and built a pilot house in Ghana.

What makes it open source? All of the ideas from OS-House competitions and pilot houses are freely shared. Anyone can use or modify the designs as they see fit.

7. WikiHouse

Have you ever wanted to design and build your own house? WikiHouse wants to make it possible for anyone to do so using its "open source construction set."

To create your own WikiHouse, you'll first need to download Google Sketchup and the WikiHouse plugin. You can then browse WikiHouse's library of open source construction pieces to design a structure. When the design is complete, simply click "Make This House" to generate a set of milling drawings.

You then take those drawings to a CNC cutter (the website can help you find one in your area), who cuts all the necessary pieces out of locally available plywood. The structure fits together like a jigsaw puzzle. Just about anyone should be able to put it together using common tools like a mallet and a screwdriver—no power tools required.

Sound too good to be true? Check out the WikiHouse blog to see pictures of small teams of people who aren't construction pros building their own WikiHouses.

What makes it open source? All WikiHouse designs are available under a Creative Commons license. You can download, use and modify them however you like. And the group invites utsidersto contribute designs that others can use to build their WikiHouses.

Open Source Solar Energy

8. Opensource-solar

Of course, if you're an extreme DIY-er, you can not only build your own house, you can also power your own house. Opensource-solar offers free designs and information for anyone who wants to build a small photovoltaic (solar power) system.

A system includes a solar panel and charge controller, and the site also includes information on LED lighting and building your own DC-DC converter to use solar energy to charge your cell phone. This site is still a work in progress, and some of the wikis have much more information than others.

What makes it open source? All the designs and ideas shared on Opensource-solar comply with the Open Source Hardware Statement of Principles—that is, anyone can freely study, modify, or make objects based on the designs shared. Users are invited to contribute to the wikis and share their own designs for building solar energy systems.

Open Source Machinery

9. Open Source Ecology's Global Village Construction Set

Like WikiHouse, Open Source Ecology also calls itself an open source construction set. But in this case, the project aims not to build houses, but the machines necessary to build (or re-build) an entire civilization.

In the site's own words, "The Global Village Construction Set (GVCS) is a modular, DIY, low-cost, high-performance platform that allows for the easy fabrication of the 50 different Industrial Machines that it takes to build a small, sustainable civilization with modern comforts."

Led by Marcin Jakubowski, Open Source Ecology is a group of farmers, engineers and supporter who are working on a "life-size lego set" that could create a modern economy anywhere in the world.

Over the past four years, they have built prototypes for eight of the 50 machines on their list: the Ironworker Machine (punches holes in metal up to 1" thick), the drill press, the CNC Torch Table (a cutting table), the Soil Pulverizer (used for grinding up earth so it can be used with the compressed earth brick press), the compressed earth brick press, the Power Cube (a universal, self-contained power unit), the LifeTrac (a 4wd tractor) and the MicroTrac (a miniature, walk-behind tractor).

What makes it open source? 3D designs, instructional videos and much more information about the Global Village Construction Set are freely available online. Anyone can use or alter the designs to build their own machines.

Open Source Washing Machines

10. Open Source Washing Machine Project

A washing machine isn’t on Open Source Ecology's list of 50 machines necessary for modern life, but washing clothes is a big deal for people living in developing countries. Nearly 2 billion people in the world don't have access to running water, electricity, or the parts necessary to make a modern washing machine. As result, millions of people, mostly women, wash clothes by hand, often in very harsh conditions.

The Open Source Washing Machine Project aims to make life easier for these people by coming up with a design for a washing machine that nearly anyone could afford, build, use and maintain. In fact, they don't want to come up with just one design, but a hundred different designs that could be used in various settings.

So far, the site includes some preliminary ideas and designs. Others are invited to get involved by contributing to the project.

What makes it open source? The goal of the project is to make these designs and information freely available to anyone in the world. A key aspect of the project involves giving the people who will use the technology the tools to build, maintain and control the technology themselves.

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