[Discuss] Kicad development plans and ICALEPCS OSHW workshop

Javier Serrano Javier.Serrano at cern.ch
Thu Apr 11 14:00:57 UTC 2013

Dear all,

I paste below a message I just sent to the Kicad developers mailing
list, announcing the official start of our (BE-CO-HT section at CERN)
contribution to Kicad and inviting people to donate to help us work
better and faster, and to spread the message.

I take this opportunity to announce the ICALEPCS pre-conference Open
Hardware Workshop, which will take place in Berkeley on October 6 this
year. You can see what happened in the 2011 workshop here:


These are very informal meetings under the umbrella of ICALEPCS, which
is a bi-annual conference dealing with controls and data acquisition for
large Physics facilities (what we do in CERN BE-CO).

I think there will be a lot of discussion about Kicad in this year's
meeting. We have an embryo of a wiki page here:


If any of you is around the Bay Area and would like to participate, let
me know (probably better off-list).



Dear all,

As you know, the BE-CO-HT section at CERN has been contributing to Kicad
for some time now. We see this involvement as a key part of our
activities regarding Open Source Hardware [1]. We are also contributing
to the adoption of VHDL and SystemVerilog in the Icarus Verilog
simulator, so as to enable cross-language simulation. Other related
activities include the operation on the Open Hardware Repository [2] and
the development of the CERN Open Hardware Licence [3].

Regarding our contribution to Kicad, it took us some time to put our act
together, but I believe we are now ready to announce that development
has started in earnest. We have come up with a preliminary roadmap [4],
which has been discussed with the main Kicad developers [5]. We have
agreed that this strategy is at least a good enough base to start
development work.

The main actors involved on our side will be:

- Maciej Sumiński, aka "Orson". He is going to be with us for a year
within CERN's Technical Student Programme, working full time on Kicad.
He started in March. He has already started working on a new View
component for Kicad as you saw yesterday.
- Tomasz Włostowski, aka "Tom" or "Tomek", Orson's supervisor. Tom works
on hardware design most of the time, but is also developing a Push &
Shove router for Kicad.

We are very excited about the opportunity to contribute to Kicad, and I
would like to thank all Kicad developers (in particular the main
developers: Jean-Pierre, Dick and Wayne) for bringing Kicad up to a
level of quality and features where we would judge it worthwhile to
invest in. We very much look forward to collaborating with you all.

In addition to the manpower I described, we have a small budget we
sometimes use to get work done through companies. If browsing Kicad code
you see files with a CERN copyright statement and an author either from
among the main Kicad developers or another company (only Igalia [6] so
far), that's the way that code was contributed. We believe one way of
making Kicad sustainable and reliable for professional use is to have
companies sell support contracts for Kicad, and companies which
contribute code to Kicad will of course be ideally placed to sell such
contracts. This should sound familiar to people who know how many of the
major Linux distributions work from a financial point of view. There are
probably other ways to reach these goals, and I am very interested in
this topic, so please don't hesitate to contribute ideas in this domain.

Our budget for Kicad development is as I said very modest. If you think
what we are doing is useful and you would like to help us work better
and faster, please consider donating. CERN's Knowledge Transfer Group
has set up a donations page [7], as part of a global fund-raising effort
for projects which present an interest to society, even if they are not
in the core mandate of CERN (Particle Physics research). There is also a
link to the donations page from the CERN Kicad wiki [4]. I would also
like to ask you to forward this link to whoever you think might be
interested. The donations page is in a very primitive state right now.
It does not allow payment through Paypal, credit cards or other methods
yet. You are requested to send a message to cern.and.society at cern.ch and
then you get bank account details which allow you to make a money
transfer. This is a bit inconvenient but I can tell you any contribution
at this point in time will be very useful to go faster through the roadmap.

Thanks in advance for your help. We are really looking forward to
working with all of you. Cheers,


[1] https://indico.cern.ch/conferenceDisplay.py?confId=190126
[2] http://www.ohwr.org/
[3] http://www.ohwr.org/cernohl
[4] http://www.ohwr.org/projects/cern-kicad/wiki
[5] Referred to as "Main Authors" in file AUTHORS.txt of the Kicad sources.
[6] http://www.igalia.com/
[7] http://cernandsociety.web.cern.ch/technology/kicad-development

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