[Discuss] Misuse of "Open Hardware" term?
Alex J V
alex at makeystreet.com
Tue Feb 24 12:01:54 UTC 2015
I am new to this group. Let me know if I am writing total nonsense.
Here is my thoughts on this matter -
The strongest attribute of OS software is its ability to let you contribute
back to the project. To enable others to contribute back to a project, a
potential contributor should have access to the source, should be able to
edit it, modify it for their own requirement, and then contribute back to
Here is OSHW definition - "Open source hardware is hardware whose design is
made publicly available so that anyone can study, modify, distribute, make,
and sell the design or hardware based on that design." To check whether a
project is open source or not, I feel the litmus test for OSHW is to check
if it is possible for a *subset of people outside of the company that owns
the project* to contribute/give back to the project. The subset of people
could be defined by people who have access to special hardware, access to
proprietary software tools/file formats etc, that is fine. But someone
outside the company should be able to add value to the project.
That is what I think OS software is really good at. Anyone can copy linux
or firefox but more importantly anyone can contribute back to it.
Contribution is the key word.
Ability to contribute to HW has other problems:
1. Proprietary EDA/CAM tools such as Eagle, Autodesk etc.
2. Costly hardware requirements
3. Effective transfer of information - Difficulty of building on top of
someone else's work
Possible solutions for above problems are
2. Makerspaces acting as a location where hardware requirements are split
3. Github + forums + mailing lists etc
Please point out any mistake in the argument. I would love to be corrected.
I am co-founder of this startup called Makeystreet (www.makeystreet.com).
Makeystreet is basically Github for hardware. We just building a layer over
Git that make it practical for hardware development. We are just 2 guys
couple of years out of college who totally love hardware engineering. We
have some software background too. We find it really bad that there is a
ton of tools for software development and not so many for hardware
What we are trying to do is "What kind of technology is required to make
large scale remote collaboration in HW possible?" We totally love Git, but
we think just versioning files in git does not cut it for hardware. To
enable others to build on top of your work, you need to share not just your
source files but also your design choices, testing data, prior art, failure
To test the above mentioned hypothesis, we are doing a large enough open
source hardware project. Being engineers first, we also love to build a
kickass community of hardware hackers in India. We are building an open
source electric unicycle. Hopefully this project makes that happen. Here is
a quick video that we created to promote the project -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iw3yAz1FCU8 . Link to the OSHW project -
On Tue, Feb 24, 2015 at 1:20 PM, Andrew Back <andrew at carrierdetect.com>
> On 19 February 2015 at 20:36, Drew Fustini <pdp7pdp7 at gmail.com> wrote:
> > Thanks for the great discussion in this thread. I wanted to follow up
> > on the Linaro 96boards.org "Open Hardware" issue. I just watched this
> > talk from LinaroConnect and
> > I am frustrated by the comment of Linaro CEO George Grey that it
> > depends on what one's definition of Open Source Hardware is:
> > http://youtu.be/e8_MatJ_VR0?t=15m30s
> > (seek to 15min 30sec)
> Indeed, "depends on your definition of open source hardware" — and the
> accompanying smirk adds insult to injury. I also suspect that there
> would be many who might take offence at the suggestion of the limited
> capabilities of the "hobbyist with the toaster oven", and he seems to
> be willfully ignoring the fact that there are numerous more advanced
> designs out there too, with many layer boards, reasonably powerful
> 32-bit SoCs, FPGAs and RF etc.
> That said, it's good to see that the 96boards homepage has been
> updated, but the term open hardware is still used elsewhere.
> Andrew Back
> discuss mailing list
> discuss at lists.oshwa.org
Alex J V
Find modular open source hardware for your project @ makeystreet.com
+91- 886 105 3989(India)
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