Open source hardware overview (slides)

An Adafruit presentation about open source hardware, enjoy!…

The many layers of Open source hardware Definitions, licensing, challenges & debates Limor Fried & Phillip Torrone – There are a few definitions, some of which come from “open source software” which is usually considered software’s “source code under a license (or arrangement such as the public domain) that permits users to study, change, and improve the software, and to redistribute it in modified or unmodified form.” So how does this translate to hardware? Electronic hardware can be divided up into layers, each of which could have different document types and licensing concerns…

open source hardware overview – Presentation Transcript

The many layers of Open source hardware Definitions, licensing, challenges & debates Limor Fried & Phillip Torrone

Homework… OSH Projects (2008) Over 60 projects, up from ~30 in 2007

I see no social imperative for free hardware designs like the imperative for free software. Freedom to copy software is an important right because it is easy now–any computer user can do it. Freedom to copy hardware is not as important, because copying hardware is hard to do. On \”Free Hardware\” Richard Stallman – Linux Today, 1999

There are a few definitions, some of which come from \”open source software,\” which is usually considered software’s \”source code under a license (or arrangement such as the public domain) that permits users to study, change, and improve the software, and to redistribute it in modified or unmodified form.\” So how does this translate to hardware? Electronic hardware can be divided up into layers, each of which could have different document types and licensing concerns.

It’s a “6” layer burrito

Hardware / Mechanical Diagrams Dimensions for enclosures, mechanical subsystems, etc. For 2D models, preferred document type is vector graphics file, with dimension prints, DXF, or AI, etc. Materials. RepRap – motor drive screw block, open source 3D printer.

Schematics & Circuit Diagrams Symbolic diagrams of electronic circuitry, includes parts list (sometimes inclusively). Preferred document type is any sort of image (PDF, BMP, GIF, PNG, etc). Often paired with matching layout diagram. Chumby – Power supply, open source beanbag computer.

Parts List (BOM) What parts are used, where to get them, part numbers, etc. Ideally – have data sheets, generic, easy to get, notes and specifications. No fucking NDAs please. Standard format is a text file, BOM (bill of materials). Often included with or part of the Parts list from the open source Roland 303 MIDI synth schematic. clone, the x0xb0x.

Parts lists from the open source embedded Asterisk IP PBX

Layout Diagrams Diagrams of the physical layout of electronic circuitry, including the placement of parts, the PCB copper prints, and a drill file. This is often paired with a schematic. Preferred distribution is Gerber RS274x and Excellon (for drills). These are like PostScript for printers but the primitives aren’t text and arcs, they’re lines of solder and components. Make: Daisy – Open source MP3 player.

Core/Firmware The source code runs on a microcontroller/microprocessor often in C, Assembly. In some cases, the code may be the design of the chip hardware itself (in VHDL/Verilog/RTL, etc…). Preferred distribution: text file with source code in it, as well as compiled ‘binary’ for the chip. Language and architecture is irrelevant. Open core 8080 compatible CPU code snippet from executing the 8080 instruction set.

Software/API The source code that communicates or is used with the electronics from a computer (if applicable). Any drivers necessary for the chipset. Preferred format is source code and binaries. We don’t think tools count. Arduino IDE

BugLabs – Eclipse IDE

Licensing Because hardware is mostly based on patents, not copyright, different licenses may be better. Creative Commons, GPL / LGPL, BSD, MIT The TAPR Open Hardware License (2/07) Chumby HDK License (3/07)
Adafruit uses…

Evil Mad Scientists uses… Copyright… Attribution-Share Alike 3.0: GPL: GNU Free Documentation License GNU_Free_Documentation_License Circuit board was design – in gEDA PCB:

Arduino… CC’ed with trademarked name Is Arduino open-source? Yes. The source code for the Java environment is released under the GPL, the C/C++ microcontroller libraries under the LGPL, and the schematics and CAD files under Creative Commons Attribution Share- Alike licenses. I want to design my own board; what should I do? The reference designs for the Arduino boards are available from the hardware page. They’re licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license, so you are free to use and adapt them for your own needs without asking permission or paying a fee. If you’re looking to make something of interest to the community, we’d encourage you to discuss your ideas on the hardware development forum so that potential users can offer suggestions. What should I call my boards? If you’re making your own board, come up with your own name! This will allow people identify you with your products and help you to build a brand. Be creative: try to suggest what people might use the board for, or emphasize the form factor, or just pick a random word that sounds cool. \”Arduino\” is a trademark of Arduino team and should not be used for unofficial variants. If you’re interested in having your design included in the official Arduino product line, please see the So you want to make an Arduino document and contact the Arduino team. Note that while we don’t attempt to restrict uses of the \”duino\” suffix, its use causes the Italians on the team to cringe (apparently it sounds terrible); you might want to avoid it.

DIY Drones Code License: Apache License 2.0 Content License: Creative Commons 3.0 BY-SA ArduPilot is a full-featured autopilot based on the Arduino open-source hardware platform. It uses infrared (thermopile) sensors for stabilization and GPS for navigation. The hardware is available from Sparkfun for $24.95. The software comes in two varieties: 1.0 (navigation- only, requires a third-party stabilization system) and 2.0 (navigation and stabilization integrated into one). Both require the free Arduino IDE to edit and upload the code to the Ardupilot board.

TAPR Open Hardware License (\”OHL\”) “The TAPR Open Hardware License (\”OHL\”) provides a framework for hardware projects that is similar to the one used for Open Source software. This isn’t as straight-forward as it seems because legal concepts that work well for software (such as copyright and copyleft) don’t neatly fit when dealing with hardware products and the documentation used to create them”. TAPR = “Tucson Amateur Packet Radio” – they no longer has any direct connections with Tuscon, Arizona.

TAPR Open Hardware License (\”OHL\”) Like the GNU General Public License, the OHL is designed to guarantee your freedom to share and to create. It forbids anyone who receives rights under the OHL to deny any other licensee those same rights to copy, modify, and distribute documentation, and to make, use and distribute products based on that documentation. Unlike the GPL, the OHL is not primarily a copyright license. While copyright protects documentation from unauthorized copying, modification, and distribution, it has little to do with your right to make, distribute, or use a product based on that documentation. For better or worse, patents play a significant role in those activities. Although it does not prohibit anyone from patenting inventions embodied in an Open Hardware design, and of course cannot prevent a third party from enforcing their patent rights, those who benefit from an OHL design may not bring lawsuits claiming that design infringes their patents or other intellectual property. The OHL addresses unique issues involved in the creation of tangible, physical things, but does not cover software, firmware, or code loaded into programmable devices. A copyright-oriented license such as the GPL better suits these creations.

TAPR Open Hardware License (\”OHL\”) How can you use the OHL, or a design based upon it? While the numbered sections of the agreement take precedence over this preamble, here is a summary: You may modify the documentation and make products based upon it. You may use products for any legal purpose without limitation. You may distribute unmodified documentation, but you must include the complete package as you received it. You may distribute products you make to third parties, if you either include the documentation on which the product is based, or make it available without charge for at least three years to anyone who requests it.

TAPR Open Hardware License (\”OHL\”) You may distribute modified documentation or products based on it, if you: License your modifications under the OHL. Include those modifications, following the requirements stated below. Attempt to send the modified documentation by email to any of the developers who have provided their email address. This is a good faith obligation — if the email fails, you need do nothing more and may go on with your distribution.

TAPR Open Hardware License (\”OHL\”) If you create a design that you want to license under the OHL, you should: Include the OHL document in a file named LICENSE.TXT (or LICENSE.PDF) that is included in the documentation package. If the file format allows, include a notice like \”Licensed under the TAPR Open Hardware License (\” in each documentation file. While not required, you should also include this notice on printed circuit board artwork and the product itself; if space is limited the notice can be shortened or abbreviated. Include a copyright notice in each file and on printed circuit board artwork. If you wish to be notified of modifications that others may make, include your email address in a file named \”CONTRIB.TXT\” or something similar.

TAPR Open Hardware License (\”OHL\”) Any time the OHL requires you to make documentation available to others, you must include all the materials you received from the upstream licensors. In addition, if you have modified the documentation: You must identify the modifications in a text file (preferably named \”CHANGES.TXT\”) that you include with the documentation. That file must also include a statement like \”These modifications are licensed under the TAPR Open Hardware License.\” You must include any new files you created, including any manufacturing files (such as Gerber files) you create in the course of making products. You must include both \”before\” and \”after\” versions of all files you modified. *You may include files in proprietary formats, but you must also include open format versions (such as Gerber, ASCII, Postscript, or PDF) if your tools can create them.

TAPR Noncommercial Hardware License (\”NHL\”) The TAPR Noncommercial Hardware License TAPR has created another license, the TAPR Noncommercial Hardware License (\”NCL\”), which is identical to the OHL apart from adding a limitation that products based on NCL designs may only be made for noncommercial uses. While we appreciate that a commercial use limitation may be appropriate in some cases, we encourage you to use the OHL if you can, as it more closely follows the Open Source software philosophy.

Does anyone use TAPR? We’re not sure… But we get asked a lot… In a recent email with TAPR – John w9DDD wrote… “All TAPR projects were pretty much designed prior to the writing of the OHL document. HPSDR projects which TAPR supports by making them available as kits or A&T units were done originally under the NCL. Recently the [discontinued] Penelope project was released to OHL.”

Chumby HDK License Agreement \”Chumby HDK\” means the schematics, mask works, flat patterns, and specifications for the Chumby Device provided by Chumby under this Agreement. Chumby grants you a license to use the Chumby HDK to hack your Chumby Device. In return, we ask that you: keep the Chumby Service on an even playing field with any other service you want to point your Chumby Device to; grant us a license related to your modifications and derivatives, when and if you make them available to others; and agree to the other terms… 3.2 License to Modified Devices. You retain your ownership rights in your innovations. If you publish, distribute, or otherwise make available any Modified Device or any related descriptions or specifications, you hereby automatically grant to Chumby a non-exclusive, transferable, perpetual, irrevocable, royalty-free, and worldwide right and license under all Intellectual Property Rights to use, reproduce, modify, create derivative works of, and distribute and to make, have made, use, import, offer to sell and sell, and otherwise exploit such Modified Devices and any modifications, improvements, or enhancements they embody.

(Some) Business models Arduino – Assembled dev boards (100k units), resellers / direct Chumby – Direct to customer (VC funded) BugLabs – Direct to customer (VC funded) BeagleBoard – DigiKey & TI sponsored (one to watch) RepRap / Fab@Home – 3rd party sells kits Rowetel – 3rd party manufacturing DIY Drones – 3rd party manufacturing Adafruit – kits, direct to customer/wholesale/rev share Evil Mad Scientist laboratories – kits, direct to customer/wholesale Make – Halo / reselling kits, some dev funding… SparkFun – Halo / Ecosystem + rev share

Adafruit publishes a wide range of writing and video content, including interviews and reporting on the maker market and the wider technology world. Our standards page is intended as a guide to best practices that Adafruit uses, as well as an outline of the ethical standards Adafruit aspires to. While Adafruit is not an independent journalistic institution, Adafruit strives to be a fair, informative, and positive voice within the community – check it out here:

Join Adafruit on Mastodon

Adafruit is on Mastodon, join in!

Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.

Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.

Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!

Join over 36,000+ makers on Adafruit’s Discord channels and be part of the community!

CircuitPython – The easiest way to program microcontrollers –

Maker Business — “Packaging” chips in the US

Wearables — Enclosures help fight body humidity in costumes

Electronics — Transformers: More than meets the eye!

Python for Microcontrollers — Python on Microcontrollers Newsletter: Silicon Labs introduces CircuitPython support, and more! #CircuitPython #Python #micropython @ThePSF @Raspberry_Pi

Adafruit IoT Monthly — Guardian Robot, Weather-wise Umbrella Stand, and more!

Microsoft MakeCode — MakeCode Thank You!

EYE on NPI — Maxim’s Himalaya uSLIC Step-Down Power Module #EyeOnNPI @maximintegrated @digikey

New Products – Adafruit Industries – Makers, hackers, artists, designers and engineers! — #NewProds 7/19/23 Feat. Adafruit Matrix Portal S3 CircuitPython Powered Internet Display!

Get the only spam-free daily newsletter about wearables, running a "maker business", electronic tips and more! Subscribe at !

1 Comment

  1. There’s some UTF-8 garbage early in the transcript… those things like “It’s a “6” layer burrito” that come from pasting smart-quote characters into the wrong place. Can you fix that? Thanks!

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.