Multimachine — truck-parts-based machine shop for Africa

The MultiMachine Group at Yahoo! Groups carries plans for “The Multi-Machine” which is

an accurate all-purpose machine tool that can be built by a semi-skilled mechanic with just common hand tools.

Open Source Multi-Machine

Multi-machines are 3 in 1 machines based on old car engine blocks (a 3-in-1 machine is usually a combination of a metal lathe, mill and drill press). The machines are designed such that they use the tolerances and engineering initially used to create the engine block that is re-purposed as the core of the tool to help guarantee that various components of the machine integrate with a high level of precision.

The machines have a design that not only allows them to be assembled using “elbow grease” but that also allow them to run on alternative power sources where mains electricity is not available. They are also easily adaptable to new purposes by adding on modules.

Plans to build a multi-machine can be found at this link at the The Open Source Machine website.

(via BoingBoing)

The foldaway house.

Rajan Harinarain, a South African entrepreneur and inventor has come up with a temporary foldaway house for use in emergency situations complete with electrical wiring and fittings, doors and windows that can be erected by a small team in 5 minutes.

The patented structure weighs less than a ton, collapses to under a foot in height and can be modified with insulation/ventilation for hotter or cooler environments.

Foldaway House

Links to the complete story at:

South Africa Info
South African Engineering News

CavTV – TV over wi-fi in rural Mali

GeekCorps has a story about a Mali radio station that is using wifi to stream video content to TVs run on car batteries in the village of Bourem Inaly in Mali. What is particularly cool about this project is that the wi-fi antennae are all made locally by recycling local materials including cans. The only imported part is the audio/video receiver that is imported from Canada. The radio station currently has 15 subscriptions to the service that make it $45 a month.

For DIYer’s who may want to try this project, here is a copy of the project guide.

You can watch the video on the making of one the antennae here on YouTube

via GeekCorps

Kenya Ceramic Jiko

The larger part of Africa’s population do not have access to “processed” fuels like natural gas or modern cooking equipment. This means they are primarily dependent on open wood fires, a method of cooking that it extremely inefficient and harzardous to the environment.

The Kenya Ceramic Jiko (“jiko” is the Swahili word for cooker) solves two problems simulataneouly by addressing the issue of high cost of raw material for making the cooking equipment as well as reducing the amount of biomass required to cook by using available energy more efficiently.

Kenya Ceramic Jiko

Kenya Ceramic Jiko

This ingenious application of appropriate technology is composed of a fired ceramic heat containing liner fitted inside a metal housing. This housing is typically made from metal sheeting from discarded packaging – such as the ubiquitous 55 gallon steel drum – that would otherwise have ended up as hazardous waste in the environment. The liner essentially acts as an insulator when burning wood or charcoal containing the heat generated to ensure that it goes to cooking rather than escaping into the environment. This means that the ceramic cooker typically uses between 25 to 40% less fuel than a regular jiko.

Kenya Ceramic Jiko

You can find more information about this ingenious invention at the following links:

– Daniel Kammen’s Cook stoves for the developing world.
– Equator Initiative’s A burning concern.

Hugh Allen has also published a handbook of making Kenya Ceramic Jikos through the Stylus publishing house.

Kenya Ceramic Jiko in use