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Open source car
2

Open source car

Open source car

(OP)
I have been thinking for some time now that an open source car project would be both fun and feasible, but perhaps not easy or profitable. The few "open source" car efforts that I have read about seemed to have ground to a halt and I have some ideas about why.

A well publicised German effort aimed to "build a car without an engineering center, without a boss, without money, and without
borders…"  This is clearly only feasible with a virtual car since real cars are made of real parts which cost real money   They somehow hoped that a car company would happily snap up their free design work and build the car. Wishful thinking!

The designs I have seen so far have all been for small, environmentally friendly econoboxes. Not exactly the sort of thing most car enthusiasts get excited about! In my dealings with various vintage and classic car lists, forums, and most importantly-- people, I have found a remarkable source of expertise, energy and comraderie which could so easily be turned into a real car.

It is now relatively easy and cheap to have parts made in short runs, to high standards in India, China, and Taiwan. I think it would be possible for a few people to put together a design and really make a open source car (as a kit car from parts or even fully assembled.) The kit form may get around strict emmissions and safety requirements in some countries but even these should be achievable.

The problems I see are (1) The money to build the cars (2) compensating the person/people who do the work and (3) agreeing on one design that excites enough people to stay involved, contribute and put up some money.

I think these problems can be solved. What other issues am I missing? I know there are at least two people on this forum who are interested in exploring this. Maybe there are more? How about a modern-day Bugatti T57 Atlantic, or a 250GTO copy, or a better McLaren F1?

RE: Open source car

this is a really cool idea. I have a load of ideas that should be incorporated into automotive design

RE: Open source car

(OP)
Thanks for the support! Depending upon how much time everyone has and how long we want to wait, we could either do everything from scratch or do what a lot of performance car companies have done (McLaren, Ferrari, TVR, Marcus, Lotus, Shelby American...) and use components from existing cars. For example we could take advantage of the competitively priced performance parts for American V8's but develop DOHC 4-valve heads and an alloy block-- or that new BMW V10 looks very tasty!

I'll post this on the "engines" forum for more covereage.

RE: Open source car

(OP)

This thread was removed from the "Engine & Fuel" forum before I had a chance to see GregLock and MacGyver's posts. Can you guys please repost here as I value your observations/ideas. Thanks!

RE: Open source car

2
I asked (a) which jurisdiction you would be designing it for? A full crash program in the states requires about 40 crashed cars for example.

(b) You said that all decisions would be made democratically. I suggested that the consequence of this would be that your project would fail.

Cheers

Greg Locock

RE: Open source car

You said that all decisions would be made democratically. I suggested that the consequence of this would be that your project would fail.

I wish I could give you two stars for that!

RE: Open source car

(OP)
Thanks for the feedback.

I am more familiar with European countries which have provisions for home-built cars. I expect that the US has similar provisions since kit cars are also being built there (perhaps using the chassis/identity of an existing old car?) One reason to go with the self-build is to get around the crash testing and other potential safety and legal issues.

Greg, I think your point on decisions being made democratically is pessimistic but realistic (that's why I gave it a star ) This is probably where the idealism implicit in open source meets hard reality and projects get bogged down in egos, petty fighting etc.

So to my initial post I'll add that a boss is indeed needed as well as the money already mentioned. How the boss (or several bosses) is chosen could be decided by the participants in the project. Design directions would be through discussion and hopefully concensus. People who lose interest due to not liking the direction of the project could drop out.

I still think this is doable, especially if many components are sourced from existing cars. I am having parts cast, forged, machined in India and China so I know how low the costs are. I also have the services of a professional CAD/CAM teacher who turns ideas into cnc files for $2/hour so I may be more optimistic than some.

RE: Open source car

OK, that sounds better.

A friend of mine designed and built a car from scratch, using a mod'd Toyota engine and off the shelf transmission.

It took him about two years of all his spare time, and two years full time, so call it 12000 hours.

The result is pretty good, it was shown on the stand of the engine supplier at the national Motor Show (I don't know the why's and wherefores of the financing of the car)

http://www.goauto.com.au/mellor/mellor.nsf/story2/98814AB1B9A36D60CA256C5B001993B0


Cheers

Greg Locock

RE: Open source car

OK, that sounds better.

A friend of mine designed and built a car from scratch, using a mod'd Mazda engine and off the shelf transmission.

It took him about two years of all his spare time, and two years full time, so call it 12000 hours.

Cheers

Greg Locock

RE: Open source car

(OP)
That Project Go looks like a good competitor for the Lotus Exige which also uses a Toyota engine (the 1.8 litre VVT 2ZZGE with modified EMS.)

The idea behind open source would be to spread the workload. I think there are lots of people out there who can manage 500-1000 hours to build a special car. With the cheap labour now readily available in Asia, components and some assembly can be done using $$ instead of hours. I think project contributors' time can best be spent working on design issues, not bolting things together.

All design info (CAD files etc.) would be on the web for free download and people can use it as they like and contribute to it. Hopefully it will continue to evolve. Contributors (or anyone) who has made special parts, kits or add-ons are of course free to sell them to anyone they want to-- so there may be commercial opportunities just as there have been with Linux.

Since the sourcing of parts will be open and transparent it should also be competitive. If the project gains enough support and exposure, we may even find companies who are prepared to provide parts at very low cost in order to get more exposure. If everyone on the net could see who is forging pistons for the project in Taiwan or who is machining brake parts in Italy, it would give those companies good exposure. Just as Toyota took on Todd's SP9R, BMW might give us some engines at cost (who knows, it might happen )

The combined knowledge and experience of all contributors should ensure that we find good suppliers.

Anyone else interested in this? I'll set up a web site for discussion/contributions/ideas if I get enough response. cheers, Derek opensourcecars@yahoo.com

RE: Open source car

Open source is successful because users are contributors and vise versa. I contribute because my needs of usage are met. With an auto or such there is no return. You could request input on technical ideas but the problem of return begin to manisfest.

RE: Open source car

OpenSourceCar,

Two very hard questions to get you started:

What CAE system will you be using to engineer (i.e. not just design) will you be using?
What will the vehicle coordinate system be?

Best regards,

Matthew Ian Loew


Please see FAQ731-376 for tips on how to make the best use of Eng-Tips Fora.

RE: Open source car

Can I suggest that you guys take this to a different place to discuss it? You could set up a discussion group on say ezboard, or a Wiki (probably the best for documentation IMNVHO, not as good for discussions), or a Yahoo group, or even a separate Group on this website.

Then invite those who are interested over to the new forum.



Cheers

Greg Locock

RE: Open source car

(OP)
If there is enough interest in this, I'll set up a web site in the next few weeks and will let everyone know. I'll also look into list servers.

Automatic2: My expectation is that people who want one of the cars will contribute plus some people who just enjoy the subject and like to stretch their creativity and/or their engineering skills.

Matthew: "What CAE system will you be using to engineer (i.e. not just design) will you be using?
What will the vehicle coordinate system be?"


I don't know. I'm also not the best or only person to decide this. Details like which CAD/CAE system to use can be discussed if we get enough critical mass of enthusiasm/expertise to start the project. I would think that people will use whatever systems they are comfortable with, as long as their output (drawings, assumptions, calculations) can be shared with the rest of the group (for review and later manufacturing.)

Finding software in Asia or someone to convert/redraw is cheap. In the past I have provided manufacturers with drawings in several different formats and while a preference is usually expressed, they have taken what I have given them.

I honestly expected there to be more interest in this. Admittedly it is a big undertaking and most people are already too busy. I saw many of the old Jaguar V12 engine plant machines today and the owner is very keen to help. He is already casting manifolds and forging conrods for me. We got quite excited talking about the possibilities but we both have more time than most people.

Thanks for the feedback so far.

RE: Open source car

Yep setting up a website or some other forum for this would be better. Would love to help here, don't know what I could do, little experience, but would love to be involved in some manner

RE: Open source car

(OP)
Greg, I looked briefly at the high efficiency site you mentioned and may join it for a bit of education. I would personally rather build an exciting, fast, less efficient car that is likely to be outrageously politically incorrect (fast, unsafe, gas guzzler.) Of course I would prefer it to be safe and efficient as well but those criteria are not high on my priority list.

I think that there will be more people willing to put in time and money for an over-the-top sports car than an efficient small car. Personally I see a need for both but I would rather spend my precious time on a sports car. There are lots of interesting small, efficient car projects. Here is a link to a German open source project: http://www.akasol.de

cheers, Derek

RE: Open source car

That's fine. It is much easier to design and manufacture an F40 than a Prius.

Cheers

Greg Locock

RE: Open source car

(OP)
I figured we'd start with an F40 (or perhaps a McLaren F1) and work our way up to a Prius .

There is now a group called "Open Source Cars" on Yahoo and I hope those interested will sign up and join in the discussions (link below.) If you have just found this thread and want to contribute here as well, please do.  cheers, derek

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/opensourcecars

  

RE: Open source car

(OP)
Hi again everyone,

It seems like I wasn't the only person who thought this was a good idea. In the first 8 days the yahoo group has 66 members from 16 countries (22 new members just today.)

It will be a while before we have any engineering challenges that might be interesting to this group but I'll let you know when we do.

If any of you are at or going to Automechanika, look out for me as I probably owe you a beer if you've contributed to this forum. cheers, derek

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