Gizmos & Gadgets: Meet Open Source Ecology

A veritable cornucopia of gadgets can be found at Open Source Technology, featuring the Global Village Construction Set (GVCS), a modular, low-cost technology platform from which you can manufacture 50 different types of machines including:

  • 3D printer
  • 3D scanner
  • 50 Kilowatt wind turbine
  • Aluminum extractor
  • Backhoe
  • Bakery oven
  • Baler
  • Bioplastic extruder
  • Bulldozer
  • Compressed Earth Blocks press
  • Cement mixer
  • Wood chipper
  • Computer-numerical-control (CNC) circuit mill
  • CNC multipurpose machine
  • CNC cutting table
  • Dairy milker
  • Dimensional sawmill
  • Electric motor and generator
  • Gasifier burner
  • Hay cutter
  • Hay rake
  • Hydraulic motor
  • Induction furnace
  • Industrial robotic arm
  • Iron cutter and punch
  • Laser cutter
  • Linear solar concentrator
  • Loader
  • Metal form and roller
  • Micro-combine
  • Micro-tractor
  • Modern steam engine
  • Nickel iron batteries
  • Open source automobile
  • Open source truck
  • Open source welder
  • Pelletizer
  • Plasma cutter
  • Power cube
  • Press forge
  • Rod and wire mill
  • Rototiller and soil pulverizer
  • Spader
  • Heat exchanger
  • Tractor
  • Trencher
  • Universal power supply (UPS)
  • Universal rotor
  • Universal seeder
  • Well drilling rig


The idea behind GVCS is predicated on making it easy to fabricate the essential machines needed for creating human civilization in the 21st century. Some of those machines can be seen below, equipment critical to meeting Maslow’s basic hierarchy of needs.


OSE tractor

Open Source Ecology’s founder is Marcin Jakubowski, a fusion physics PhD graduate from the University of Wisconsin who upon graduation found himself to be as he described “useless.” He went on to try farming and struggled to make ends meet particularly because of the enormous costs and overhead associated with agribusiness. He had his own personal epiphany and founded Open Source Ecology in 2003 with the goal to make closed-loop manufacturing a reality, creating a cookie cutter assembly of technologies that could be put together in many ways, in fact at least 50 based on the above list. It’s an Open Source project and Jakubowski has attracted hundreds of online volunteers, has built a Wiki where new projects and ideas get formulated, and has started a global movement. You can view his recent TED talk here.

From his Wiki site comes an interesting definition for GVCS:

a minimum set of technologies necessary to create advanced civilization from locally-available ‘dirt and twigs’ with 12 people and 1 year of time starting with a container-load of GVCS tools.

In other words a civilization kit. Does this smack of survivalists? In a way but the premise is far different. Jakubowski is focused on achieving an open source economy, one in which the development of goods and services come from collaboration and cooperation on a global scale without proprietary ownership and without duplication of effort through competition. His hope is to transform 0.1% of the world economy to this model by 2028.

Everything created for GVCS is openly shared, no strings attached. If Jakubowski and his Open Source project team succeed they will have established a new global economic model with far reaching implications, a model based on human collaboration, not competition, sharing ideas globally and leveling the disparity between Developed and Developing nations.

Sounds positively utopian. Maybe it is but Jakubowski is converting a lot of bright young creative people to his design community building his version of the 21st century in which economies can be created on a micro scale using local resources combined with the GVCS toolkit.

The goal is to have all 50 machines of the GVCS complete including documentation by the end of 2015. And by 2021 he hopes to have built 144 facilities globally to act as Open Source Ecology incubators.






Len Rosen lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He is a researcher and writer who has a fascination with science and technology. He is married with a daughter who works in radio, and a miniature red poodle who is his daily companion on walks of discovery. More...