We are working on the second prototype of the open source tractor, as discussed in the last post. We have come up with a sketch for the new LifeTrac II frame, which was drawn in Blender. The disks mark the location of the wheels, and the middle verticals will serve as the attachment for the 2 loaders – front and rear. The idea is to come up with the simplest, replicable, design-for-disassembly, lifetime design consistent with our specifications.
We intend to develop this sketch further until we have a fully working 3D model to reference when we come to physically building LifeTrac II in the workshop. The usefulness of Blender is to determine exact bolt locations and sizes of structural members. This is especially useful when designing the loaders and quick attach plates – where we can model the heights and angles required prior to building. You can see our initial designs from over a year ago for reference – on the evolution of the project.
Our experience has shown that it is one thing to make a pretty drawing – but another, much more difficult task to make a drawing that actually represents the device being built. The former is an example of a conceptual drawing, and the latter is an example of a technical drawing. In the former case, one must spend days figuring out how things will actully fit together when building the device, because the drawing does not provide that information. In the latter case, all the figuring is done in the design phase on the computer screen. This allows one to build a particular device in days – as opposed to weeks. The latter case avoids the lengthy process of reworking/taking apart/retrofitting the build – which is so common to the prototyping process. Furthermore, designing something on paper that will actually work requires a lot of experience with the actual building process.
It is important to consider that conceptual drawings rarely lead to replicability. Technical drawings, on the other hand, are the substance of replicability, and turn peoples’ ideas from one-off productions to ones of major, potential, world impact.
Coming up with working, technical drawings is a true art that requires build experience – and we’ve yet to master that at Factor e Farm. This is also why designers who are only designers, and not designer-builders – are limited in their capacity to produce simple, effective, and efficient designs. This is the reason why wrench-turners cuss at the engineers – who insist on designing difficult-to-service devices as a general rule of the status quo.
Civilizations have been known to collapse because they could not keep up with their complexity. It is important to take this point seriously. -Marcin