Sam Smith

is creating open-source trash-eating robots

30

patrons

$261

per creation
Hi there, and welcome to my Patreon. Please let me take 20 seconds of your time to explain why you may actually be excited to give me money. First:

You can reach me directly through my portfolio page -  SamSmith.work
You can find more info about my work at: Metabolizer.orgTrashPrinter.org and Hackaday.io
You can find my 3D models/tutorials under my account on the SketchUp 3D warehouse

Everything here is and will continue to be a work-in-progress. Check back.
All content is licensed Open Source CC-SA. Don't Panic.

My name is Sam, and I am building open-source trashing eating robots.

"Robot" isn't really quite the right word for what I'm building, but hopefully it got your attention. What I'm building is an open-source, low-cost recycling center that can shred all common waste plastics into small flakes and then 3D print them back into new things, using common waste products like cardboard, paper, woodchips, or other dry biomass as the fuel that powers the whole thing. In the process, it produces useful energy in the form of hot water, electricity, and radiant heat, and useful resources in the form of charcoal fuel and 3D printed plastic objects.

I call it the Metabolizer because it has the same essential metabolism, and fills the same ecological niche, that fungi do in natural ecosystems. The Metabolizer is simply a set of machines, each with a particular function, that work together to keep the whole thing running, much like the organs in your body. The Metabolizer is currently comprised of 6 open-source or readily-available machines that you can either buy or build with your friends.

A "Precious Plastic" Open Source Shredder...... Roughly $1000 to build
An MPCNC open source CNC Gantry ...................$400
A TrashPrinter open source 3D print head .............$150
A Harbor Freight 2000W Inverter Generator ..........$550
A YETI 1250 Battery Bank ......................................$1200
An open source Biochar kiln and micro-refinery..... $500

Together, they create system that costs around $5000 to build that essentially "eats" trash- breaks it down for energy, and uses that energy to process the base materials the trash contains and build those materials back into new things, in such a way that it can keep running as long as there is trash around to eat, and people around to run it.

I'm not sure if I would call it a "robot", because it's not intended to be fully automated. The system requires humans to operate it, to sort the trash and maintain the generator, and keep the lights on. It's not all that different from a ship- it needs a crew to operate it, and operating it is a decent but manageable amount of work. It's designed to be a system that makes it as easy as possible for small groups of people to deploy anywhere, and start using locally available biomass to recycle plastic and meet human needs.

I've been working towards this goal for 3 years:

In November 2017, I built the shredder.
Last Summer, I got the generator producing clean 120V/60hz power using woodchips as the fuel.
Just this Spring, I got the 3D printer printing with recycled plastic produced by the shredder.

And this Summer, maybe with your help, I hope to put them all together, and demonstrate the first full prototype of the Metabolizer running fully on biomass. The generator can produce up to 2000 watts, but lets call it 1500W to be conservative. The 3D printer takes 200W peak (100W average) and the shredder, when powered by a 3/4HP motor with a 50:1 gear reduction, takes 600W. That gives me roughly 700W of headroom.

In order to do that, though, I could really use some help. Right now, I have a budget of about $160/mo, which is incredible and has actually made a huge difference in my work so far, but it means I can only do so much every month. With more patrons and a bigger monthly budget, I could work a lot quicker, get a lot more done, and document it all better.

Everything I do is open source- backers get no extra perks, except that I add you to a special Discord so that we can all chat. Every month, I make a paid post that explains exactly how I'm spending the money, what I intend to do next, and update where people can find the most recent documentation. If I don't make that post in a given month, my backers don't get charged. (That way I can take breaks from the project when I need to without feeling bad about taking your money)

So if you want to see this happen, give me money please, so that I can keep building open-source "trash" "eating" "robots".

Thank you <3
Sam

_______________________What's Ultrastructure?__________________
 
“Infrastructure” is the term we use to refer to all the systems that provide us with the things we need to live- food, water, shelter, energy, information, healthcare, etc. “Infra” means below, and infra-structure is often literally below our feet, and figuratively below our everyday awareness- the roads, the water mains, the sewers, the power lines, the gas pipes, the fiber optic cables that make everyday life possible. Most people don’t think much about infrastructure it until it stops working- and most of our infrastructure is dangerously centralized, built on outdated and ecologically destructive principles, and operated by often-corrupt institutions.

“Ultrastructure" is a term used in cellular biology to refer to the intricate and interdependent structures within living cells that enable them to do things like turn air and sunshine into food, or break foods apart into energy and resources, and then use genetic information stored DNA to assemble those resources into the tissues and proteins they needs to grow and sustain themselves.

And it's exactly this kind of biologically-informed, massively-redundant, ecologically-balanced infrastructure, that each of us already possesses at the cellular scale, that we so desperately need on a global, decentralized, village-and-city scale.

So I use the term Ultrastructure to refer to small-scale systems designed to meet the same needs that our existing infrastructure does- essential human needs like food, water, shelter, energy, information, and care- but designed in a way that is open-source, small-scale, easy-to-build, easily-to-replicate, easy-to-adapt, ecologically regenerative, that make it as easy as possible for anyone anywhere to meet the needs of the people around.

I personally believe (you don't have to) that simply making disruptively useful information freely available to people- information that makes it as easy as possible for anyone anywhere to easily meet the needs of the people around them without ecological destruction, by mimicking the metabolism of living systems- will go along way towards building a just, healthy, and peaceful planetary society, by giving people the tools they need to actively bypass the oppressive and destructive institutions that currently control these resources, and replace them with small-scale, ecologically-integrated alternatives.

My current project is to build  "The Metabolizer"- a mobile trash-processing lab that is capable of literally eating trash- collecting, shredding, sorting, drying, and thermally decomposing it, and using the energy it contains to power itself and refine the raw materials back into new and useful things, like light, heat, electricity, power, clean drinking water, hot water, cooking fuel, liquid biofuels that can run unmodified gas and diesel engines, all while pulling carbon out of the atmosphere and sequestering it in the form of bio-char, which can be used for energy storage, water filtration, and soil-building.

Don't think that's possible? That's cool! It's certainly difficult to do, and that's what makes it fun and interesting! I've spent the past 10 years of my life researching this stuff, and I believe that what I am trying to do is possible, plausible, and preferable- deeply enough that I intend to spend the rest of my life trying, over and over again, to get closer and closer to that goal, and making it easier and easier for other people to do the same (if they want to). So if you like the stuff I build and want to see what I can pull off with consistent community funding, consider supporting me! $2 a month from a bunch of people goes a long way! The more backers I get, the more stuff I can build!
Tiers
Everything I produce is open-source!
$2 or more per creation
There are no special rewards for people who pledge more!
Includes Discord rewards
But the more you pledge...
$3 or more per creation
The more disruptively awesome stuff I can build!
Includes Discord rewards
And every backer gets to participate in the design process...
$5 or more per creation
By voting on polls and getting real-time project updates!
Includes Discord rewards
And all backers also get a private access to my Discord page...
$8 or more per creation
Which gives us a real-time communication hub where backers can share their own work, meet each other, help solve problems, ask questions, and coordinate with each other!
Includes Discord rewards
You only pay on a "Per-Creation" basis
$13 or more per creation
Which means that you only pay when I actually do something!
Includes Discord rewards
And you can set a per-month limit...
$21 or more per creation
So you never spend more than you plan to.
Includes Discord rewards
Did you know that plastics can be turned into Diesel fuel?
$34 or more per creation
They can be! Plastics that can't be recycled can be distilled into fuels that can run car engines! Check out the goals section to see all the stuff I'll build and how much I need to build it!
Includes Discord rewards
Did you know that you can turn food scraps into natural gas?
$55 or more per creation
And the process also makes high-grade liquid fertilized you can use to grow more food! Let's make it easier for people to build stuff like this!
Includes Discord rewards
The more we can meet our needs from sunshine...
$89 or more per creation
The less we need to rely on corrupt and evil companies just to live comfortable lives.
Includes Discord rewards
And the more we can make that disruptively useful information available...
$144 or more per creation
The easier it will be for people to build regenerative ultrastructure in their own communities!
Includes Discord rewards
Hi there, and welcome to my Patreon. Please let me take 20 seconds of your time to explain why you may actually be excited to give me money. First:

You can reach me directly through my portfolio page -  SamSmith.work
You can find more info about my work at: Metabolizer.orgTrashPrinter.org and Hackaday.io
You can find my 3D models/tutorials under my account on the SketchUp 3D warehouse

Everything here is and will continue to be a work-in-progress. Check back.
All content is licensed Open Source CC-SA. Don't Panic.

My name is Sam, and I am building open-source trashing eating robots.

"Robot" isn't really quite the right word for what I'm building, but hopefully it got your attention. What I'm building is an open-source, low-cost recycling center that can shred all common waste plastics into small flakes and then 3D print them back into new things, using common waste products like cardboard, paper, woodchips, or other dry biomass as the fuel that powers the whole thing. In the process, it produces useful energy in the form of hot water, electricity, and radiant heat, and useful resources in the form of charcoal fuel and 3D printed plastic objects.

I call it the Metabolizer because it has the same essential metabolism, and fills the same ecological niche, that fungi do in natural ecosystems. The Metabolizer is simply a set of machines, each with a particular function, that work together to keep the whole thing running, much like the organs in your body. The Metabolizer is currently comprised of 6 open-source or readily-available machines that you can either buy or build with your friends.

A "Precious Plastic" Open Source Shredder...... Roughly $1000 to build
An MPCNC open source CNC Gantry ...................$400
A TrashPrinter open source 3D print head .............$150
A Harbor Freight 2000W Inverter Generator ..........$550
A YETI 1250 Battery Bank ......................................$1200
An open source Biochar kiln and micro-refinery..... $500

Together, they create system that costs around $5000 to build that essentially "eats" trash- breaks it down for energy, and uses that energy to process the base materials the trash contains and build those materials back into new things, in such a way that it can keep running as long as there is trash around to eat, and people around to run it.

I'm not sure if I would call it a "robot", because it's not intended to be fully automated. The system requires humans to operate it, to sort the trash and maintain the generator, and keep the lights on. It's not all that different from a ship- it needs a crew to operate it, and operating it is a decent but manageable amount of work. It's designed to be a system that makes it as easy as possible for small groups of people to deploy anywhere, and start using locally available biomass to recycle plastic and meet human needs.

I've been working towards this goal for 3 years:

In November 2017, I built the shredder.
Last Summer, I got the generator producing clean 120V/60hz power using woodchips as the fuel.
Just this Spring, I got the 3D printer printing with recycled plastic produced by the shredder.

And this Summer, maybe with your help, I hope to put them all together, and demonstrate the first full prototype of the Metabolizer running fully on biomass. The generator can produce up to 2000 watts, but lets call it 1500W to be conservative. The 3D printer takes 200W peak (100W average) and the shredder, when powered by a 3/4HP motor with a 50:1 gear reduction, takes 600W. That gives me roughly 700W of headroom.

In order to do that, though, I could really use some help. Right now, I have a budget of about $160/mo, which is incredible and has actually made a huge difference in my work so far, but it means I can only do so much every month. With more patrons and a bigger monthly budget, I could work a lot quicker, get a lot more done, and document it all better.

Everything I do is open source- backers get no extra perks, except that I add you to a special Discord so that we can all chat. Every month, I make a paid post that explains exactly how I'm spending the money, what I intend to do next, and update where people can find the most recent documentation. If I don't make that post in a given month, my backers don't get charged. (That way I can take breaks from the project when I need to without feeling bad about taking your money)

So if you want to see this happen, give me money please, so that I can keep building open-source "trash" "eating" "robots".

Thank you <3
Sam

_______________________What's Ultrastructure?__________________
 
“Infrastructure” is the term we use to refer to all the systems that provide us with the things we need to live- food, water, shelter, energy, information, healthcare, etc. “Infra” means below, and infra-structure is often literally below our feet, and figuratively below our everyday awareness- the roads, the water mains, the sewers, the power lines, the gas pipes, the fiber optic cables that make everyday life possible. Most people don’t think much about infrastructure it until it stops working- and most of our infrastructure is dangerously centralized, built on outdated and ecologically destructive principles, and operated by often-corrupt institutions.

“Ultrastructure" is a term used in cellular biology to refer to the intricate and interdependent structures within living cells that enable them to do things like turn air and sunshine into food, or break foods apart into energy and resources, and then use genetic information stored DNA to assemble those resources into the tissues and proteins they needs to grow and sustain themselves.

And it's exactly this kind of biologically-informed, massively-redundant, ecologically-balanced infrastructure, that each of us already possesses at the cellular scale, that we so desperately need on a global, decentralized, village-and-city scale.

So I use the term Ultrastructure to refer to small-scale systems designed to meet the same needs that our existing infrastructure does- essential human needs like food, water, shelter, energy, information, and care- but designed in a way that is open-source, small-scale, easy-to-build, easily-to-replicate, easy-to-adapt, ecologically regenerative, that make it as easy as possible for anyone anywhere to meet the needs of the people around.

I personally believe (you don't have to) that simply making disruptively useful information freely available to people- information that makes it as easy as possible for anyone anywhere to easily meet the needs of the people around them without ecological destruction, by mimicking the metabolism of living systems- will go along way towards building a just, healthy, and peaceful planetary society, by giving people the tools they need to actively bypass the oppressive and destructive institutions that currently control these resources, and replace them with small-scale, ecologically-integrated alternatives.

My current project is to build  "The Metabolizer"- a mobile trash-processing lab that is capable of literally eating trash- collecting, shredding, sorting, drying, and thermally decomposing it, and using the energy it contains to power itself and refine the raw materials back into new and useful things, like light, heat, electricity, power, clean drinking water, hot water, cooking fuel, liquid biofuels that can run unmodified gas and diesel engines, all while pulling carbon out of the atmosphere and sequestering it in the form of bio-char, which can be used for energy storage, water filtration, and soil-building.

Don't think that's possible? That's cool! It's certainly difficult to do, and that's what makes it fun and interesting! I've spent the past 10 years of my life researching this stuff, and I believe that what I am trying to do is possible, plausible, and preferable- deeply enough that I intend to spend the rest of my life trying, over and over again, to get closer and closer to that goal, and making it easier and easier for other people to do the same (if they want to). So if you like the stuff I build and want to see what I can pull off with consistent community funding, consider supporting me! $2 a month from a bunch of people goes a long way! The more backers I get, the more stuff I can build!

Recent posts by Sam Smith

Tiers
Everything I produce is open-source!
$2 or more per creation
There are no special rewards for people who pledge more!
Includes Discord rewards
But the more you pledge...
$3 or more per creation
The more disruptively awesome stuff I can build!
Includes Discord rewards
And every backer gets to participate in the design process...
$5 or more per creation
By voting on polls and getting real-time project updates!
Includes Discord rewards
And all backers also get a private access to my Discord page...
$8 or more per creation
Which gives us a real-time communication hub where backers can share their own work, meet each other, help solve problems, ask questions, and coordinate with each other!
Includes Discord rewards
You only pay on a "Per-Creation" basis
$13 or more per creation
Which means that you only pay when I actually do something!
Includes Discord rewards
And you can set a per-month limit...
$21 or more per creation
So you never spend more than you plan to.
Includes Discord rewards
Did you know that plastics can be turned into Diesel fuel?
$34 or more per creation
They can be! Plastics that can't be recycled can be distilled into fuels that can run car engines! Check out the goals section to see all the stuff I'll build and how much I need to build it!
Includes Discord rewards
Did you know that you can turn food scraps into natural gas?
$55 or more per creation
And the process also makes high-grade liquid fertilized you can use to grow more food! Let's make it easier for people to build stuff like this!
Includes Discord rewards
The more we can meet our needs from sunshine...
$89 or more per creation
The less we need to rely on corrupt and evil companies just to live comfortable lives.
Includes Discord rewards
And the more we can make that disruptively useful information available...
$144 or more per creation
The easier it will be for people to build regenerative ultrastructure in their own communities!
Includes Discord rewards