Eco-Tractor Workshop

October 26-30, 2017 | Factor e Farm – Maysville, MO (USA)

The Open Source Ecology Eco-Tractor workshop is an immersion experience where we will build a working tractor – and more – over a weekend:

  • A Microtractor: A tracked machine that is similar in functionality to a Toro Dingo brand utility machine but has more power. We will use a 16 hp Power Cube – our hydraulic power unit. Because our build system is modular, we can add a second Power Cube to this tractor for a total of 32 hp for more demanding tasks.

tractor 2

  • Tractor: A 32-64 hp tractor that is a larger version of the MicroTractor – using many of the same components. As the first team works on the Microtractor, a second team will work on a larger version of the tractor. We will use 2 of the same Power Cubes, for 32 hp. We can add 2 more, for a total of 64 hp.

tractor 3

  • Solar Module: The beauty of hydraulic power which we use to drive the tractor is that a small power source can still move a heavy machine – only slower. Thus, a 2000 lb or 6000 lb tractor can still move – and with as much force – on a single solar panel. As such, we will use a solar panel to run a small electric Power Cube – which runs the tractor. This will be our proof of concept that a tractor can do useful operations on solar power – shining new light on the capacity of solar power to fuel agriculture. This leads to automation – where a slow-moving (3 feet per minute) tractor running on solar power can do useful work – such as weeding or pulling chicken tractors.
  • Automation Module: Another advantage of hydraulics is that they can be controlled easily via solenoid valves and controllers – in addition to manual control. As such, we will first use a remote control module to guide the tractor – and then let it run autonomously with pre-programmed motion. The first proof of concept will be the tractor driving autonomously in a simple pattern – using an Arduino controller. If time allows, we will implement an automated guidance system with feedback from the environment for avoiding obstacles.

If more than 18 people sign up for the workshop, then we will also build a:

  • Charcoal Power Module: Did you know that a gasoline engine can run on charcoal? We will be improving upon our 2015 gasifier prototype to build an improved version. The gasifier produces gas from charcoal to fuel the Microtractor. We will mount the gasifier on the tractor, and fuel the tractor with charcoal gas via the air intake. This will demonstrate that our tractor can run on biomass-derived charcoal, which is a renewable form of energy – relevant in areas where biomass is abundant.

Here is some prior work from 2 years ago for you to see what we have done already. This work takes our initial prototyping much further. The largest machine that we built was 71 hp so far. We did not yet build the 164 hp machine discussed in the video:

During this build, the MictroTractor and Tractor have these specifications:


  • Engine:Duromax 16 hp recoil start gasoline engine. These can be purchased for as little as $229 on Amazon – and have a built-in gas tank and muffler. They are widely available.
  • Hydraulic pump: 0.677 cubic inch displacement, 3000 PSI pumps
  • Fuel:Gasoline, charcoal, and solar energy
  • Solar Power:300W solar panel
  • MicroTrac Power: 16 or 32 hp (1 or 2 Power Cubes) on gasoline
  • Weight of MicroTrac: 2000 lb
  • Size of MicroTrac: 41″ wide, 60″ long, 34″ tall
  • Track base: 41″ wide
  • Hydraulic Motors: 45.6 cu in displacement, 15,000 in-lb motors
  • Machine pulling torque: 7000 lb of drive
  • Steering: Track steering, 1 track on each side
  • Transmission: Hydraulic fluid power
  • Track Drive: 8″ sprocket diameter driving the track chain, direct drive from hydraulic motor
  • Loader lift: minimum of 2000 lb lifting power, but tipping point is 750 lb at ground level
  • Loader height: 60″ of lift to the bottom pivot of the implement mount
  • Implement attachment: Bobcat standard quick attach plate
  • Track: 9″ wide, 36″ ground contact distance
  • Ground pressure: 3.7 psi
  • Idler shafts: 3″ solid steel
  • Idler diameter: 10″
  • Controller:Arduino
  • Hydraulic Solenoids: 10 gallon per minute flow rate, 3000 PSI, 12V DC
  • Solar power voltage:24V.
  • Solar Power Cube: 5 hp hydraulic drive unit (driven at a small fraction of this power)
  • Max Speed:3 Miles per hour.
  • Speed on solar power: MicroTrac will go 3 feet per minute, or about 1000 feet per day at 15,000 in lb of motor torque and 7000 lb pulling force
  • Height: 3′ tall
  • Operator: Walks behind tractor, or rides on platform behind tractor
  • Auxiliary hydraulic outlets: 20 GPM hydraulic takeoff
  • Hydraulic flow to drive: 20 GPM, 3000PSI
  • Hydraulic flow to loaders: 20 GPM, 3000PSI
  • Power takeoff: standard 6-spline agricultural hydraulic takeoff motor
  • Cost: $4300 materials cost for 32 hp version


  • Horsepower: 32-64 hp, (with 2-4 Power Cubes)
  • Speed: 3 and 6 mph speeds
  • Size: 6′ wide, 7′ long, 6′ tall to top of cab
  • Weight: About 5000 lb
  • Loader Reach: 108″ to bottom pivot of loader arm
  • Steering: Track steering
  • Implement Attachment: Bobcat standard quick attach
  • Track: 12′ long pads, 2.5″ wide. Total surface contact area per track: 5 square feet.
  • Ground pressure: 3.5 psi
  • System hydraulic pressure: 1500-3000 PSI, adjustable
  • License for all OSE machines:OSE License for Distributive Enterprise. Open source mechanical, open source height controller, 3D printed open source parts; CC-BY-SA-4.0 license, and GPL for control code.

The design focuses on minimizing part count and integrating the design with other machines of the Global Village Construction Set (GVCS). Our heavy equipment is designed to use as many parts in common as possible.

A Scalable, Modular Construction Set for Tractors

To create a Construction Set – we designed a small set of modules that can be reconfigured. The core parts include power cubes, the Universal Rotor, tracks, shafts, idlers, frames, and hydraulics modules. We are designing with the absolute simplicity in mind, such that machines can be maintained for a lifetime of use. Our parts count of about 100 unique parts for the entire tractor is lower than anything available on the market.

LifeTrac 6 Infographic by Jean-Baptiste Vervaeck

LifeTrac 6 Infographic by Jean-Baptiste Vervaeck

Power Cube Infographic by Jean-Baptiste Vervaeck

Power Cube Infographic by Jean-Baptiste Vervaeck

Gasifier Infographic by Jean-Baptiste Vervaeck

Gasifier Infographic by Jean-Baptiste Vervaeck

MicroTrac Infographic by Jean-Baptiste Vervaeck

MicroTrac Infographic by Jean-Baptiste Vervaeck

Lowest Unique Part Count in the World

The beauty lies in an absolute minimum number of parts that can be used to build an infinite variety of heavy machines – depending on size, axis configuration, and implements heads. The unique part count is in general around only 100 parts, which is about 5 times less than anything available commercially.

By making our machines simple and universal, we are aiming for the most widely replicated tractor construction set in the world. There are no construction sets for tractors available prior to our work. To develop a great product, we are inviting developers and entrepreneurs to join the OSE Development Team.

This workshop intends build upon OSE’s Extreme Manufacturing approach of rapid building with multiple teams working in parallel on modular components. By simplifying the design and streamlining the build with digitally-fabricated, open source parts – we intend to develop a model where several of our tractors can be produced in a single day by a team of people. Our goal is to develop open source microfactories for distributed production – using the Experience Economy and Social Production.

We are also developing an open source enterprise model for how to run extreme build workshops anywhere in the world. We are publishing our enterprise model openly, with all supporting information that helps people in a successful startup – without reinventing the wheel. We will also be offering 6 week immersion training where strong candidates can learn to replicate our workshops to start a small business.

Workshop Expectations
This workshop is experimental, and not a turnkey product. We have significant experience with the topics covered, but surprises always come up in an experimental build. We have thorough CAD documentation of the machine. We have built 10 prototype tractors already. But surprises do come up in ambitious builds like ours. No matter what – we will build it – and we will drive it. Whether we complete the solar drive option, the charcoal fuel option (gasifier), and the computer vision – is up to us.

While we have done extensive design work, and prototyped the different parts – this workshop is a first complete build. Expect to problem solve – and learn a lot in the process. This is an immersion learning experience in design and build.

While we do not require prior skill to join this workshop – the more skill that we have in the team of participants, the better will be the result. We expect people to work together as a team for a common goal, and we like it when participants teach one another new skills.

The intended audience for this workshop is people who want to get their hands dirty – who are interested in the design and build of hardware. The intended audience is anyone interested in exploring the meaning of Open Source Product Development. We’ve been pioneering techniques of collaborative development for several years.

But be prepared – this is not for the faint-hearted. Our facility is raw and crude – a farm in the middle of nowhere, Missouri. By attending, you are helping us carry out our open source development mission.

Bring a Friend for Free

We also have a 2-for-1 offer . You are welcome to bring one friend or family member with you for free.

Additional Information

For more perspective on the Global Village Construction Set, see the Global Village Construction Set:

Open Source Product Development Invitation

Workshop immersion involves concept and practice, and includes a crash course on Open Source Ecology. Participants become engaged in a part of OSE’s development process, where we produce open source blueprints for the infrastructures of civilization. Participants are introduced to basic principles of collaborative literacy – how the collaborative mindset can be used to solve wicked problems.

This workshop is intended for people interested in immersion, hands-on skills training and practical results. We are especially seeking participants with an entrepreneurial mindset to expand open source production into the mainstream. We are exploring the potential of open source economics by determining the limits of social production: can distributed, collaborative, community supported manufacturing (CSM) be an alternative to centralized factories? The overall workshop is designed for people interested in transitioning from consumer to producer. We welcome both complete novices and those with experience. The critical part is willingness to learn.

By joining this workshop, you have an opportunity to be part of a community interested in developing products collaboratively and open source, so that everyone can benefit. OSE’s goal is to promote right livelihood using open source – and part of that is starting enterprises. We are promoting the concept of distributive enterprise.

Have questions? Drop us an email: info at opensourceecology dot org


Marcin Jakubowski was trained as a fusion physicist. He left academia right after finishing his Ph.D. to start a farm – in Missouri. For the last 7 years, he has been working on the Global Village Construction Set – a set of enabling tools and machines for building regenerative infrastructures. Marcin is passionate about creating the Open Source Economy – a new operating system for Earth. See Marcin’s bio.

Thomas Griffing has a background in Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, Technical Writing and Hydraulics. He runs a small computer consulting business, instructs Tai Chi classes and also teaches “online” computer classes for a community college in Dallas. He has a farm in East Texas with a shop where he practices permaculture farming, works on projects of interest and sells Power Cube kits, parts and other items. He has also led OSE workshops on fabricating the Power Cube and Micro Power Cube. Tom Griffing is OSE’s Power Cube Lead and has been in Power Cube development since 2011.


Tractor Design and Build
  • Basics of FreeCAD. Viewing and modifying designs. Using the Part Library.
  • Basic working principles of OSE’s open source tractors
  • How to design a tractor, and how to use the OSE part libraries to make sound design
  • How hydraulics work, and basic calculations of power
  • How to build an autonomous tractor
  • How to run a tractor on different fuels
  • How to use metal fabrication tools: torch, welder, grinder, and hand tools
  • How to create blueprints and cutting files from CAD
  • Different implements for a tractor
Collaborative Literacy
  • Basic principles of Open Source Ecology
  • The concept of Open Source Product Development (OSPD)
  • The meaning of Distributive Enterprise
  • Basic collaboration principles of open source projects
  • How to engage in a collaborative documentation process
  • The concept of module-based design
  • How to build a machine rapidly and collaboratively
Distributive Enterprise
  • Business model for Distributive Enterprise
  • Extreme Manufacturing
  • 100x Efficiency Improvement via Open Source Closed-Loop Production
  • The meaning of Viral Replicability Criteria



Note: schedule is being refined and may change slightly. The full program goes from 8 AM to 8 PM each day.


The first day will be dedicated to both metal fabrication workshop skills and design/CAD skills – as ‘basic training’ for the workshop ahead. The first day is designed as a deep dive into the OSE design/build process. We will provide a crash course in FreeCAD – the open source CAD software as a start in the morning. The participant will learn to use the OSE Part Library – to understand the workflow of design – and to make simple designs in FreeCAD. For anyone taking this option, we recommend strongly that you watch and study our 2 FreeCAD tutorial videos to get the most out of the day. While no prior experience is necessary – it will help greatly the more you study up on FreeCAD. We will spend a first hour doing FreeCAD exercises – culminating in the use of the OSE Part Library to make simple tractor designs. We will covere the basic design of a tractor -so that people understand how to create designs and modifications from our Part Library. To facilitate computer work, we recommend that participants download and make a bootable USB drive with our software, as on the OSE Linux page.

We will divide the first day into both design and hands-on training. The morning will focus on the design work – and in the late afernoon, we will do basic training in the shop – consisting of a 3 hour crash lessons on welding, torching, and hand tools. It will be a full day.

Those who do not participate in the first day of skills training will still be able to participate in the workshop – but we do recommend this training for those who would like to get the most out of your experience by being more prepared.

The core of the workshop will be Friday-Sunday – when the 2 tractors will be built. The last day is a bonus where we will test the other tractor modules (solar tractor, automation, gasifier).

Day 1:

  • 8 AM: OSE + Event Introduction
  • 9 AM: FreeCAD basics. Practicing FreeCAD. Manipulating the CAD. Navigating in tree view. Redesigning components from sketches. Generating technical drawings.
    Using the OSE Part Library.
  • 10:45 AM: – Break.
  • strong>11 AM:11-Noon – Design Session.
  • Lunch
  • 1-2:30 PM: Design Session 2: working from the Part Library to generate complete CAD of a tractor.
  • 3:00-6:30 PM: Safety training, Crash course in welding, torching, grinding, and hand tools.
  • 6:30 PM: Dinner
  • 7:30-8:30 PM: (Optional) Material preparation/layout for the workshop.

Day 2:

  • 8 AM: Main OSE Introduction
  • 9-12 AM: Workshop safety, and beginning of build. Work on Power Cubes, tracks, frames, loaders, and hydraulics.
  • Lunch
  • 1-6: Afternoon Build Session.
  • Dinner
  • 7-8 PM: Review and Discussion. Q&A.

Day 3:

  • 8 AM: Morning learning session
  • 9-12 AM: Finishing Power Cubes.
  • Lunch
  • 1-6: Afternoon Build Session. Finishing frames, parts, and modules.
  • Dinner
  • 7-8 PM: Review and Discussion. Q&A.

Day 4:

  • 8 AM: Morning learning session
  • 9-12 AM: Beginning of overall tractor assembly for both tractors.
  • Lunch
  • 1-6: Finishing assembly. First runs of tractors.
  • Dinner
  • 7-8 PM: Review and Discussion. Q&A.

Day 5:

  • 8 AM: Morning learning session: Automation, Solar Tractors, Gasifiers
  • 9-12 AM: Build of gasifier, solar power cube, automation controller.
  • Lunch
  • 1-6: Continuing build. Adding the completed modules to the tractor and testing them.
  • Dinner
  • 7-8 PM: Review and Discussion. Q&A.

Workshop fee includes workshop tuition and some meals.


Participants may secure a hotel in Cameron, Missouri (15 miles away). Please note that there is no public transportation between Cameron and Factor e Farm and that we cannot pick you up or drop you off on a daily basis during the workshop. Car rentals are available at the KCI airport.

There is also an RV Park/campsite a couple of miles from our site for anyone interested in traveling to our event with a camper/RV.

We have 12 spots for participants who want to stay at the HabLab—our shared-room dorm. There is a $15 fee for staying at the dorm per night and spots are filled on a “first come, first served” basis. Please note that this is a very rudimentary earth building and our accommodations are rough. The dorm rooms may be noisy due to late night conversations by participants. Factor e Farm is an experimental facility that is permanently under construction, so please gauge your expectations accordingly. If you want a more comfortable stay, we recommend that you stay in a hotel.

We also have primitive camping on site which includes a composting toilet. Showers and a bathroom are located in the HabLab and there is a kitchen for basic food preparation.


The nearest airport is Kansas City International (MCI), about 1:15 hours away from Factor e Farm. FeF is located in a rural zone and there is no public transportation of any kind in the area. We can pick you up from the airport the day before the workshop and drop you off the day after. Car rentals are available at the KCI airport, if you’d rather not wait for pick up.

Since the round trip to the airport is 2:30 hours, we will pick up participants in groups. For example, if we have one flight arriving at 2 pm, another at 3 pm and another at 4pm, we’ll pick up the whole group at 4 pm. The same applies to drop-offs the day after the workshop. The MCI airport is tiny and there isn’t much to do there, but it has a few restaurants/cafes and quiet areas to rest.

To the extent that it’s possible, we request that you try to schedule your flight arrival and departure times between mid morning and late afternoon. Everyone on site will be working hard and very early/late pick-ups and drop-offs can be quite challenging for an already sleep-deprived crew.


OBI and OSE will provide continental breakfast and dinner. For lunch, bring your own or bring some to share.

We will have an outdoor grill available, so that food preparation is easier and more social.

What to Pack

You are welcome to bring your favorite tools if you wish to – we will be turning a lot of 3/4″ bolts. We will have all the necessary tools on site—as well as work gloves, protective eye-wear, and hard hats. You are required to bring steel-toe boots for safety, as we will be working with metal. Heavy metal falling on your foot can crush your toes.

This being Missouri, the weather is highly unpredictable. It could be hot, it could be cold, it could rain – often all 3 on the same day. Bring clothes for all eventualities and weather. It can also get quite muddy when it rains, so sturdy boots are recommended.

Please also bring a sleeping bag and a bath towel if you’re staying in the HabLab. We have fitted sheets, pillows and pillow cases available – but you may want to bring your own pillow if that’s something that is important to you. If you’re camping, please pack everything you’d normally pack for a camping trip.

Early Bird Registration: $699 for the entire 5 day workshop including the first skills-training day. The 4 day option (without the Skills Training Day) is $549. Bring a friend or family member for free.

Early Bird Admission ends on Friday, October 13, 2017 at 7 PM CST USA time. The registration for the full workshop goes up to $749 – and $599 for the 4-day option – but you can still bring a friend for free.

Day Rate: Sign up for any days of your choice at $199 per day.

Group Rate: Email us if you would like to bring a group.

True Fans of OSE: As supporting members of OSE, True Fans who have been subscribed for 6 or more months receive a 25% discount on all of our workshops. Email us for details. You can sign up as a True Fan now to become eligible for the True Fans discount on future workshops.

Sponsor another participant or Donate to OSE: We are a nonprofit organization with 501(c)3 status. You can make tax-deductible contributions to us. Sponsor $699 to fund attendance of someone who is on the waiting list for financial assistance by making a donation. We receive low-income assistance requests for all of our workshops.

Logistics: Email us if you would like to bring a group. We will provide continental breakfast, lunch and dinner. We have a barbecue grill and a kitchen available at HabLab, so feel free to bring extra ingredients. You will be responsible for your accommodations, and wild camping is available on site. If you would like to stay in the HabLab, our shared room dormitory, you may also do that at no cost.

Payment Options: PayPal, Credit Card, Dwolla, Bitcoin, Check, Money Order, Wire Transfer, or Cash

Registration for the choices above is found on Eventbrite, but Eventbrite accepts only PayPal or Credit Card. If you would like to pay by other means you can select that option at Eventbrite, but then you have to submit your payment independently of Eventbrite. We accept Dwolla, Bitcoin, Check, Money Order, or Cash. Your registration is complete upon receipt of payment. If you pay with Dwolla – Dwolla charges lower transaction costs than PayPal. If you are paying by Dwolla, register at Eventbrite and select the Dwolla option, then pay independently via Dwolla (Dwolla is not currently integrated into Eventbrite). Use Open Source Ecology or as the Dwolla recipient. Bitcoin is a decentralized payment system. You can pay via a bitcoin amount translated by the current bitcoin exchange rate on the day that you register. OSE’s Bitcoin Address is 166yC48RakrZdtsBj36vY9q29CpzknHbxY. If you are paying by check, please make checks payable to Open Source Ecology. Our mailing address is OSE, 909 SW Willow Rd, Maysville, MO 64469. For mailings, please write “CNC Torch Table” in the memo line on your check. For wire transfers, please email us at for further directions.

Cancellation Policy
If you need to cancel for any reason, we will be happy to (a) transfer you credit towards another workshop in the future; (b) substitute the name on your ticket and have a friend take your place.

Registration on Eventbrite

Please use the the Eventbrite form below to pay with PayPal/credit card. Eventbrite charges a small fee.