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What Is Open Source Hardware?
 

What Is Open Source Hardware?

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This is a presentation I delivered up in Boston to some HBS and MIT students interested in open source hardware. I tried to summarize the difficulties with jumping to a simple, easy definition, and ...

This is a presentation I delivered up in Boston to some HBS and MIT students interested in open source hardware. I tried to summarize the difficulties with jumping to a simple, easy definition, and spent most of the discussion focused on what makes it so much harder than open source software. If you want a copy of the presentation for your own use, just email me!

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    What Is Open Source Hardware? What Is Open Source Hardware? Presentation Transcript

    • What is quot;Open Source Hardwarequot; ? November 29, 2008 Matt, Justin, Mike, Omar & Chris @ www.liquidware.com We spent a lot of time thinking about this, if you use it, just give us credit – thanks!
    • Open Source Hardware can mean a lot of things... Manufacturing process Unbranded explained Schematics available Free programming interface API open Based on readily available materials & parts Free Transparent packaging Source code available Uses standardized ports and interfaces Available for commercial Sold at cost remaking Available as a kit of parts Firmware editable Replicable by average individual within several engineering weeks Re-namable Available for resale ... but it's not that straightforward ... it's not easy to define quot;Open Source Hardwarequot; ... Matt, Justin, Mike, Omar & Chris @ www.liquidware.com We spent a lot of time thinking about this, if you use it, just give us credit – thanks!
    • Each meaning can be interpreted in different ways Free Can tangible things be given away for free, like infinitely downloadable software? Sold at cost Does anyone make a profit from the selling of this project, gadget, or object? Economics Economics Available for commercial remaking Can someone else remake it, without any obligations or royalties? Available for resale Can someone else resell it, without any obligations? Unbranded Is the project branded and protected by a legal entity or institution? Branding Branding Re-namable Can anyone rename it if they get one and use or alter it? API open Is the full function library made available to others to access and code? Coding Coding Free programming interface Can it be programmed with free tools, or do they cost money? Source code available Is the source code made available for everything that's sold? Manufacturing process explained How replicable is the manufacturing process? Assembly Assembly Firmware editable Is the code running on the physical components editable? Available as a kit of parts Can it be bought as a kit of raw parts, or does it always come assembled? Schematics available Are the diagrams showing interconnection of discrete parts made freely available? Build Building Uses standardized ports and interfaces Does it use proprietary interfaces, ports or cables? Replicable by average individual How approachable is it to make? Does it need expensive equipment? Based on readily available parts Is it based on readily available parts? Parts Parts Transparent packaging Does it ship with transparent cases or packaging? Matt, Justin, Mike, Omar & Chris @ www.liquidware.com We spent a lot of time thinking about this, if you use it, just give us credit – thanks!
    • The Open Source Hardware community has many visions quot;Easy to understand quot;Easy to build and quot;Easy to change the and learn electronicsquot; assemble yourselfquot; behaviorquot; quot;Low cost, and available quot;Easy to expand and quot;Inter-operable with quot;Robust, durable, and to everyonequot; customizequot; other open source hard to breakquot; projectsquot; quot;Making electronics quot;Spreading the values of quot;Merging art, design, accessible to everyonequot; DIY and tinkeringquot; and electronicsquot; Matt, Justin, Mike, Omar & Chris @ www.liquidware.com We spent a lot of time thinking about this, if you use it, just give us credit – thanks!
    • Personally, I think these are the big ones quot;Easy to understand quot;Easy to build and quot;Easy to change the and learn electronicsquot; assemble yourselfquot; behaviorquot; quot;Low cost, and available quot;Easy to expand and quot;Inter-operable with quot;Robust, durable, and to everyonequot; customizequot; other open source hard to breakquot; projectsquot; quot;Making electronics quot;Spreading the values of quot;Merging art, design, accessible to everyonequot; DIY and tinkeringquot; and electronicsquot; Matt, Justin, Mike, Omar & Chris @ www.liquidware.com We spent a lot of time thinking about this, if you use it, just give us credit – thanks!
    • Personally, I think these are the big ones I was always motivated by other This is a tough one – sometimes, it's nice peoples' projects, and then I taught to have someone else who helps build the myself what I needed to learn in hard stuff so I can focus on the piece I want order to replicate it... but everyone to do (like more coding, not PCB etching!) has different learning styles quot;Easy to understand quot;Easy to build and quot;Easy to change the and learn electronicsquot; assemble yourselfquot; behaviorquot; quot;Low cost, and available quot;Easy to expand and quot;Inter-operable with quot;Robust, durable, and to everyonequot; customizequot; other open source hard to breakquot; projectsquot; I was always inspired by the Cray super-computers b/c they were cool, but definitely not cheap! quot;Making electronics quot;Spreading the values of quot;Merging art, design, accessible to everyonequot; DIY and tinkeringquot; and electronicsquot; I think this will come with time, when more people build open source things It's hard to do everything at once, but that's the point of a community Matt, Justin, Mike, Omar & Chris @ www.liquidware.com We spent a lot of time thinking about this, if you use it, just give us credit – thanks!
    • What does quot;Open Source Hardwarequot; mean to you? A pocket reference / cheat-sheet / lookup table quot; quot; quot; quot; ze equot; ak rnquot; ics i or mi gquot; ibl bre lea ble quot; on h av s to n ss to d m tr be cu er i ce rd an se lec the a nd tink ac lequot; ha nd as n ,e nd nic s ab le, r st a an d sig ge nd ble quot; ai l rab han xpa ra IYa c tro av u n de u ild , de oc oe pe dD ele st, t, d ou ob art yt yt r-o ea ke co us yt yt rge as as te pr a w ob as as e quot;E quot;E quot;In quot;S quot;M quot;Lo quot;R quot;E quot;E quot;M Free Sold at cost Economics Available for commercial remaking Available for resale Unbranded Branding Re-namable API open Coding Free programming interface Source code available Manufacturing process explained Assembly Firmware editable Available as a kit of parts Schematics available Building Uses standardized ports and interfaces Replicable by average individual Based on readily available parts Important Parts Transparent packaging Moderate Matt, Justin, Mike, Omar & Chris @ www.liquidware.com We spent a lot of time thinking about this, if you use it, just give us credit – thanks!
    • In general, a few things seem common or shared quot; quot; quot; rquot; ize equot; ak rnquot; quot; ics avio tom gquot; ibl bre lea ble tron eh s n ss to nd m eb cu er i ce rd da se lec nd ink ac lequot; ha as ,e th a t s ab le, an d n ge nd quot; nd nic ai l r st an sig han xpa ra ble IYa c tro av u rab n de u ild , de oc oe pe dD ele st, t, d ou ob art yt yt r-o ea ke co us yt yt rge as as te pr a w ob as as e quot;E quot;E quot;In quot;S quot;M quot;Lo quot;R quot;E quot;E quot;M Free Sold at cost Economics Available for commercial remaking Available for resale Unbranded Branding Re-namable API open API open Coding Free programming interface Free programming int. Source code available Source code available Manufacturing process explained Assembly Firmware editable Firmware editable Available as a kit of parts Available as a kit Schematics available Schematics available Building Uses standardized ports and interfaces Replicable by average individual Based on readily available parts Parts Transparent packaging Transparent packaging Matt, Justin, Mike, Omar & Chris @ www.liquidware.com We spent a lot of time thinking about this, if you use it, just give us credit – thanks!
    • What I think... What I think... Positives Negatives Free Would be nice to get stuff for free But it probably cost something to make Sold at cost Sold cheaply so everyone can have one No one's going to get rich like Bill Gates :-( Economics Available for commercial remaking Allows more people be exposed to it Internet stores need to pay for bandwidth Available for resale More people can easily buy it Some stores charge more to make profits Unbranded So it doesn't feel like a big company Hard to control quality with the same name Branding Re-namable Anyone should be able to name a project None? I guess lawyers like this one... :-( API open Anyone can access it and hack it Takes a lot of time to document an full API Coding Free programming interface Allows anyone to compile code Someone spent a lot of time building it Source code available Easy to share, alter, personalize How do programmers earn a living? :-) Manufacturing process explained Anyone can build their own This is really hard to do with complex parts Assembly Firmware editable Can change & optimize low level stuff Many large parts companies don't let you Available as a kit of parts If someone is ambitious, why not? Surface mount parts are tiny & easy to lose Schematics available So anyone can figure out what it does Not everyone has $1000 layout software Building Uses standardized ports and interfaces Easy to expand and add-on stuff Sometimes sacrifice speed or cost Replicable by average individual Easy to build, swap out parts Some really cool parts are hard to assemble Based on readily available parts So if it breaks, I can swap out parts It's all relative - many people don't collect ICs Parts Transparent packaging I can see how it works without breaking it Might look ugly, or not quot;professionalquot; There are many different opinions out there, for sure! Matt, Justin, Mike, Omar & Chris @ www.liquidware.com We spent a lot of time thinking about this, if you use it, just give us credit – thanks!
    • That means you can make an index of Open Sourceness Let's call it the quot;OS-HW Indexquot; Total points My opinion... Weighting Weighting possible Free x0 1 5 Sold at cost x1 1 5 15 Economics 1 5 Available for commercial remaking x1 Available for resale x1 1 5 Unbranded x2 1 5 20 Branding Re-namable x2 1 5 API open x2 1 5 Coding Free programming interface x2 1 5 30 Source code available x2 1 5 Manufacturing process explained x1 1 5 20 Assembly Firmware editable x2 1 5 Available as a kit of parts x1 1 5 Schematics available x2 1 5 Building Uses standardized ports and interfaces x2 1 5 30 Replicable by average individual x2 1 5 Based on readily available parts x1 1 5 Parts 15 Transparent packaging x2 1 5 Total possible = 130 A score of 100%, or 130 out of 130 means a project is very quot;openquot; Matt, Justin, Mike, Omar & Chris @ www.liquidware.com We spent a lot of time thinking about this, if you use it, just give us credit – thanks!
    • Example: here's a snapshot of the original Arduino project Arduino is 75% quot;Openquot; Importance Weighting Weighting Comments Score Free x0 1 5 Sold cheaply, but not quite at cost Sold at cost x1 1 5 Available to anyone who wants to 12 / 15 Economics 1 5 Available for commercial remaking x1 resell it, from tinker.it Available for resale x1 1 5 Unbranded x2 1 5 Tightly branded for quality sake; spin-off boards can't be called 8 / 20 Branding Re-namable x2 1 5 quot;Arduinoquot; unless certified API open x2 1 5 Source code to IDE and programs are open, API well documented on Coding Free programming interface x2 1 5 28 / 30 a wiki, but difficult to change Source code available x2 1 5 functionality of underlying Atmel Manufacturing process explained x1 1 5 Manufactured in Italy, not sold as a 11 / 20 Assembly Firmware editable x2 1 5 kit since some parts of surface mounted Available as a kit of parts x1 1 5 Schematics available x2 1 5 Schematics public, uses USB but uses it's own layout for female pin Building Uses standardized ports & interfaces x2 1 5 headers, ~20 people have 24 / 30 Replicable by average individual x2 1 5 replicated it Based on readily available parts x1 1 5 Most parts are standard and easy Parts to get online, no parts hidden or 15 / 15 Transparent packaging x2 1 5 obscured 98 / 130 = 75% Matt, Justin, Mike, Omar & Chris @ www.liquidware.com We spent a lot of time thinking about this, if you use it, just give us credit – thanks!
    • Example: here's a snapshot of the MegaSquirt project MegaSquirt is 81% quot;Openquot; Importance Weighting Weighting Comments Score Free x0 1 5 Different versions available, some Sold at cost x1 1 5 DIY kits sold nearly at cost, 14 / 15 Economics 1 5 anyone can make their own and Available for commercial remaking x1 resell it Available for resale x1 1 5 Unbranded x2 1 5 Name tightly held by Bowling & Grippo, MegaSquirt is a registered 8 / 20 Branding Re-namable x2 1 5 trademark API open x2 1 5 Source code open, API documented, but core code is Coding Free programming interface x2 1 5 24 / 30 controlled and no easy IDE Source code available x2 1 5 available DIY versions contains step by step Manufacturing process explained x1 1 5 assembly instructions, sold as kit 16 / 20 Assembly Firmware editable x2 1 5 or parts list, but core is still Available as a kit of parts x1 1 5 controlled Schematics available x2 1 5 DIY versions contain open schematics, uses serial, Building Uses standardized ports & interfaces x2 1 5 documented so it can be replicated 28 / 30 Replicable by average individual x2 1 5 by engineers Based on readily available parts x1 1 5 Most parts are standard and easy Parts to get online, no parts hidden or 15 / 15 Transparent packaging x2 1 5 obscured 105 / 130 = 81% Matt, Justin, Mike, Omar & Chris @ www.liquidware.com We spent a lot of time thinking about this, if you use it, just give us credit – thanks!
    • Example: here's a snapshot of the Bug Base project Bug Base is 62% quot;Openquot; Importance Weighting Weighting Comments Score Free x0 1 5 Sold by a company, so needs to Sold at cost x1 1 5 make profit, anyone can rebuild 10 / 15 Economics 1 5 their own, but resale of the original Available for commercial remaking x1 is tightly held Available for resale x1 1 5 Unbranded x2 1 5 Bug Labs holds trademarks and copyrights over products; built 6 / 20 Branding Re-namable x2 1 5 products are Bug Labs named API open x2 1 5 Source code open, API Coding Free programming interface x2 1 5 documented, IDE available for 28 / 30 free, but core code is controlled Source code available x2 1 5 Manufacturing process explained x1 1 5 Sold as a manufactured product, 9 / 20 Assembly Firmware editable x2 1 5 modules pre-assembled, firmware within modules not directly editable Available as a kit of parts x1 1 5 Schematics available x2 1 5 Schematics available for download, uses a special, hard to Building Uses standardized ports & interfaces x2 1 5 replicate port, could be re-built by 18 / 30 Replicable by average individual x2 1 5 talented engineers Some parts hard to get and need Based on readily available parts x1 1 5 to buy in high quantities, Parts 10 / 15 Transparent packaging x2 1 5 packaging transparent on some versions 81 / 130 = 62% Matt, Justin, Mike, Omar & Chris @ www.liquidware.com We spent a lot of time thinking about this, if you use it, just give us credit – thanks!
    • Example: here's a snapshot of my little TouchShield project TouchShield is 75% quot;Openquot; Importance Weighting Weighting Comments Score Free x0 1 5 Sold at cost x1 1 5 Sold at cost in kits, any individual who wants to can remake it, but no 10 / 15 Economics 1 5 companies, anyone can resell it Available for commercial remaking x1 Available for resale x1 1 5 Unbranded x2 1 5 The name TouchShield is printed on the PCBs, but that's not a trade 12 / 20 Branding Re-namable x2 1 5 mark, just a natural name for it API open x2 1 5 Source code to IDE and programs are open, API well documented on Coding Free programming interface x2 1 5 28 / 30 a wiki, but difficult to change Source code available x2 1 5 functionality of underlying Atmel Built by hand here in Connecticut, Manufacturing process explained x1 1 5 core is editable, not a kit because 14 / 20 Assembly Firmware editable x2 1 5 some of the resistors are so small Available as a kit of parts x1 1 5 it would be impossible to ship1 Schematics available x2 1 5 Schematics public for individuals, uses Arduino and USB ports, kind Building Uses standardized ports & interfaces x2 1 5 of difficult for an individual to 22 / 30 Replicable by average individual x2 1 5 remake without help Based on readily available parts x1 1 5 Some of the parts were tricky to Parts find, and can only be bought in 12 / 15 Transparent packaging x2 1 5 quantities of 100. WYSIWYG 98 / 130 = 75% 1. But if you really want to solder it by yourself, Mike and I will throw all the parts in a bag for you Matt, Justin, Mike, Omar & Chris @ www.liquidware.com We spent a lot of time thinking about this, if you use it, just give us credit – thanks!
    • But not all projects are created equal You can't just compare projects using an index because not all projects have the same standards High level Code Software that is editable, compilable, re-distributable Based on cheap, or free APIs, IDEs, and compilers quot;Open Source Codequot; Code that sits in RAM space Firmware Code that sits in components on the PCB, in the circuit Editable, based on relatively widely available compilers and code-sets quot;Open Firmwarequot; Downloadable to the device without expensive, proprietary equipment hardware stack Schematics Freely available schematic drawings, documented so that someone Level of else can interpret the electronic behavior of the device quot;Open Schematicsquot; No mature schematic and CAD software exists on the same level as the C language spec for Linux, so tools are still a wildcard in 2008 Cores Based on components that are re-programmable (e.g. FPGA's) and whose behavior is documented with available, recompilable, quot;Open Coresquot; synthesizable description files (e.g. VHDL or Verilog) Tools cost $1,000's, with poor open source code substitutes Gates Device synthesized into transistors and gate arrays based on non- proprietary materials and readily available chemistry quot;Open Gatesquot; Silicon masks and wafer templates made available in a synthesizable, replicable way Does not require $100,000's of equipment to synthesize, prototype and Low level re-test It's not fair to say Linux isn't quot;Open Sourcequot; because it doesn't run on openly synthesizable gates and core processors (yet); it's not fair to say the Arduino is quot;closed sourcequot; because it's based on the proprietary Atmel Matt, Justin, Mike, Omar & Chris @ www.liquidware.com We spent a lot of time thinking about this, if you use it, just give us credit – thanks!
    • To what standards should we hold projects in order to call them quot;openquot;? Me! Linux OpenSparc OpenCores.org Arduino MegaSquirt TouchShield High level Open Source Code N/A Open Firmware hardware stack Level of Open Schematics N/A N/A Open Cores N/A N/A N/A Low level Open Gates N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A Matt, Justin, Mike, Omar & Chris @ www.liquidware.com We spent a lot of time thinking about this, if you use it, just give us credit – thanks!
    • To what standards should we hold projects in order to call them quot;openquot;? Me! Linux OpenSparc OpenCores.org Arduino MegaSquirt TouchShield High level Open Source Code N/A Open Firmware hardware stack Level of Open Schematics N/A N/A Open Cores N/A N/A N/A Low level Open Gates N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A Good for Good for Good for open software open processors open devices Matt, Justin, Mike, Omar & Chris @ www.liquidware.com We spent a lot of time thinking about this, if you use it, just give us credit – thanks!
    • Introducing a map of Open Source Hardware Snapshot of just a few projects High level Code Linux Firmware Pandora Arduino hardware stack Level of MegaSquirt Schematics OpenCores.org Cores OpenSparc Gates Low level OS-HW Index score It's hard to make a direct comparison between projects at different levels in the hardware stack Matt, Justin, Mike, Omar & Chris @ www.liquidware.com We spent a lot of time thinking about this, if you use it, just give us credit – thanks!
    • This is where stuff I make is... Me Having grown up with High level Code LinuxLinux, I think everything should have source code available, for customizing and tweaking Firmware Pandora I don't like the idea of big Arduino companies ripping off ideas and making money from hardware stack individuals, so I give away schematics and parts to any Level of MegaSquirt fellow hobbyist who wants it Schematics OpenCores.org Cores OpenSparc Gates Low level OS-HW Index score Matt, Justin, Mike, Omar & Chris @ www.liquidware.com We spent a lot of time thinking about this, if you use it, just give us credit – thanks!
    • So, what is quot;Open Source Hardwarequot;? My definition, circa 2008-2009 1 A movement to create non-proprietary devices that encourage rather than hinder understanding how something works 2 An attempt to create physical, tangible electronic devices that encourage customization and expansion 3 A gesture to be quot;openquot; and transparent where possible (and relevant) with source code, firmware, schematics, cores, and gates Harder than software because it relies on largely proprietary tools, and uses parts 4 that can't be freely replicated (like code) And above all, it's an evolving definition that will be shaped by the people who are making it, so get involved! Matt, Justin, Mike, Omar & Chris @ www.liquidware.com We spent a lot of time thinking about this, if you use it, just give us credit – thanks!
    • Where do we go from here? Open Hardware needs better tools Eagle Cad is good, but not great Parts libraries are tough to build up from scratch Simulators, synthesizers and auto-routers are all complicated pieces of software that cost $1,000's Open Hardware needs more individuals and hackers to join the movement Without the fear of getting their ideas stolen from them by companies Calling all mechanical engineers! In order to go mainstream, open hardware needs quot;professionalquot; looking cases and enclosures Open Hardware needs more training at educational institutions like this Courses, classes needed to train students into engineers Matt, Justin, Mike, Omar & Chris @ www.liquidware.com We spent a lot of time thinking about this, if you use it, just give us credit – thanks!
    • Thanks! Me: Matt, inthebitz@gmail.com My blog: antipastohw.blogspot.com Some of my latest projects: 8-bit embedded turkey Open Source Gameboy Open Source Hardware Book Matt, Justin, Mike, Omar & Chris @ www.liquidware.com We spent a lot of time thinking about this, if you use it, just give us credit – thanks!