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December 13, 2009 AT 12:17 pm

Slashdot commenters on open source hardware

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Slashdot comments ๐Ÿ™‚

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28 Comments

  1. Don’t listen to these guys. I thought that the articles are informative and entertaining. I personally have been working on a open hardware and software power over Ethernet weather station. Its great to see what everyone else is working on also.

  2. This sort of thing is why reading Slashdot is like watching traffic cam clips of car accidents. You shouldn’t do it too often or it rots your soul.

  3. I’d ignore anything users of /. say. They like to think they’re elitists but they tend to bunch of apes either circle-jerking or one-upping each other.

    The comments tend to be as bad as Youtube’s.

  4. Slashdot whiners?

    The software industry has backed itself into a corner as its only growth direction at the moment is feature bloat. Windows 7 is a marginally better Windows XP which was a better Windows 2000 which was a vastly better NT4. Operating systems may be reaching a plateau, or have alreading plateaued. Application software upgrades don’t have any really overwhelming new features that push for spending more money, which is why Microsoft, et.al. would like a subscription service for using their IP. Open source has not increased Proprietary software’s prices, Proprietary software’s lack of a compelling upgrade path besides buying a new computer with OEM installs has driven up the prices because the per unit sales have gone down.

    In the hardware world, proprietary will continue to be king as it’s the whole software/hardware package, and as long as the manufacturers don’t decide to cut costs by pirating Open Source, they will be just fine. The one guy that was complaining about Ardupilots was obviously competing on the bottom of the scale, and if you are a manufacturer competing with DIY Drones, then you might just be seeing yourself as a Peter Principle example who needs to persue blinky-flashy LED pet rocks.

    The average Slashdot posting is often only slightly more informed than the more intelligent YouTube “return to my adolescence” post.

  5. I see a lot of Arduino hating everywhere and I don’t get it. It’s made microcontrollers available to everyday people. Instead of buying a $100 dev board, and $50 programmer, you can just buy a $35 (or less) board that does it all. The language is easy enough that you can learn it without knowing how to program, and you don’t have to know about the architecture of the device. It also allows you to graduate up to real C, without having to learn a new interface and everything.

    The shields let you add complex functions to your project (like GPS, or SD card access) without having to have a degree in electrical engineering.

    Now instead of just having computer programmers making things with microcontrollers, we have artists, school teachers, and just about anyone who can tap on a keyboard making anything they can think of. How is that not good?

  6. On a side note, plans, schematics and software have been available in Amateur Radio for decades. Hasn’t done anything to put the radio and antenna manufacturers out of business. There are those who want to build and those who want to operate. The best amateur built equipment can outperform commercial equipment, but there’s still a demand for commercial manufactured equipment.

  7. As a frequent Slashdot commenter, I have to say: almost everyone who posts to Slashdot is an idiot, and I don’t exclude myself from that group.

    Also, the displayed comments are good examples of why you generally want to set your comment viewing score threshold to at least 3. I would also suggest simply not paying any attention to Slashdot, but trolls are everywhere, unfortunately.

  8. Open source is communism!

  9. I’ve been on slashdot since… OK, let’s just say a looong time. As time as gone by it’s moved from a site for geeks to one where the signal-to-noise ratio makes the comments just about useless most of the time.

    The real geeks on slashdot are terribly outnumbered by the loud and ignorant that have never actually done or built anything in their lives.

    Keep up the great work, Lady Ada!

  10. Yes there are a large number of us idiots on /. and reading the comments doesn’t really add much but I do mostly like the articles that make it through. And I’d have to say I’m very much a capitalist and I don’t see a threat from open source. It really does make for better competition in the market. I think true free market types appreciate the DIY culture and understand the benefits it brings.

  11. “I see a lot of Arduino hating everywhere and I don

  12. My posts are randomly being cut off again ๐Ÿ™

  13. The Arduino sucks from a technical standpoint:
    * It uses an expensive FTDI chip instead of just implementing USB in software (www.obdev.at). Implementing a HID bootloader wouldn’t even need a driver install on Windows, unlike FTDI. The FTDI chip is also ahigh-density SMD which some find hard to solder.
    * (Reffering to the “most common” version). The shape is odd. Why not just have a rectangular board? Why pay an extra step to mill it into that odd shape? The layout is poor. The board area is too large.
    * The headers are misaligned, making use on a breadboard a pain. The misalignment cannot be easily corrected in future versions because that would render existing shields incompatible. Talk about “vendor lock-in”.
    * What kind of a name is Arduino anyway? It feels like tying my tounge into a knot.
    This being said there are a lot of “clones” and “derivatives” that address some of those issues, the software library has a lot of widgets and it’s a pretty good platform for hardware beginners.

  14. Slashdot trolls at their finest. Sure, Arduinos are cheesy in some ways, but hey, people are out there selling them for cheap and building stuff. That beats armchair engineering and expensive “development kits” any day of the week. At least there are kits aimed at amateurs again, which there weren’t for several decades. I learned about electronics by putting together (and debugging :-)) Heathkit kits back in the 70s–there’s no shame in putting together simple, accessible kits at a reasonable price.

    Limor: Keep up the good work!
    razvan784: so build something better. Talk is cheap.

  15. Sign. At least it’s better than the hackaday ‘tards.

  16. Slashdot comments are mostly useless these days – very little signal left there anymore.

    1) There’s nothing wrong with the software industry. Certain companies are hurting big time, but overall? There’s plenty of products and plenty of work for those that can really do stuff. Industry is perhaps wising up that not everyone who charges $200/hr is worth having around, but like I said – plenty to do.

    2) There’s been open schematics and related info for many years (there are these ancient things called magazines, you see…).

    The proof is in the doing – you do, they talk. Who wins?

  17. @Amanda: Agreed. I myself despise development kits. My first microcontroller project was an 8051 torn out of an old HDD – didn’t work. The second one – an AT89C2051 hooked to a parallel cable for programming — I wrote the programming software from scratch, using the instructions in the datasheet. Next came the AVRs, programmed with a short 5-wire LPT cable and avrdude. Next came dodgy PCBs. Next came better PCBs. I etched most of them myself. Then some kids asked me to teach them microcontrollers. I had them solder an ATmega16 on perfboard with each port pin broken out to headers, a crystal and a USB socket. We lit LEDs and drove motors and read sensors and stuff. Much better and cheaper than Arduino. I see the Arduino as another type of devkit, only a much higher-level one (and reasonably cheap). It’s also all about the software library — makes your work much easier. Yeah, good concept.

  18. On a smaller board with a standard pin spacing and I might have bought one a year ago. Now I know how easy it is to plug an ATMega into a breadboard and program it in C, why not just sell breadboards with jumpers pre-installed at all 6 of the necessary pins to get the chip running. The Arduino is just a power supply and a USB-Serial converter.

  19. The big big big advantage to the Arduino is the ease of use. Sure, there are dev boards, but none that I know of that have the sheer number of expansion options that the Arduino + OSH community have developed. And yes, headers on a perfboard are cheaper- once you discount the entry cost of the programmer. And true, there’s nothing the Arduino IDE can do that can’t be done crossing AVRStudio with the freely available AVR C compiler- IF you don’t mind figuring out how to set them up.

    I use the Arduino a lot, because it is quite simply the easiest way I have EVER seen to get a simple microcontroller program up and running. Yes, there are more powerful options, cheaper options, etc, but nothing combines cheap and easy like the Arduino.

  20. razvan, the obdev library was not open source for a while. now it is, but was not when arduino came about. its also very slow, flaky and hard to make sure it works across many platforms. (trust me, i know, the usbtiny is a bitbanged USB project while i dont -regret- it, there are better options out there) anyways, printfs are great for debugging so the ftdi chip does ‘double duty’!

    the ftdi chip is TSSOP but there are also arduino ‘clones’ with MAX232s (in fact, iirc the original Arduino used one). the only other USB/serial chips are as small or SMALLER (the silabs cp2102 or whatever is QFN!)

    as for the board layout, you may not be aware that it doesnt matter how many routing points you have, it costs the same. the board is large enough to have all the headers. its a good size and easy to handle. theres enough space to allow for good shields

    the header ‘misalignment’ is really the least of the arduino issues. we have a ‘diy shield’ for $6 here that includes and offset header. it works great! there are also some clones that have a second set of female headers that are ‘corrected’ so you can just buy those. isnt open source hardware great!? ๐Ÿ™‚

    and the best part? once you’ve gotten the hang of Arduino, its easy to start digging deeper into the chip or upgrading to an AVR programmer so that you write directly to the AVR and mess with fuses. then you can encounter the joy of bricking chips cuz you set the fuses wrong! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  21. sean, yup why not have a board with a socketed microcontroller (so you can replace it if its damaged) and a 6 pin icsp breakout? you can break out all the microcontroller pins so they’re easy to use in a solderless breadboard. put a 16 mhz resonator too, since you’ll want to do UART stuff. maybe also put in a cheap 5v supply since you’ll always need that. and add an easy way to attach a usb-serial converter?

    its such a good idea, we have such a thing already! its called a boarduino, you can buy one here for $17.50 or just the PCB for a few $ we’ve carried them for about two years. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  22. The hate I have for arduino is that there is so many changes between versions that example code will just break in newer ones.

    Even the timer librarys on the arduino.cc site wouldnt work for me because some things have been renamed.

    Also, the pin setting code is too slow to be really usable for things in a tight timer loop like a multiplexes display running fast enough to not have visible flicker.

    But in saying that, those are both very easy to overcome obstacles if you want to work with the avr directly.

    I agree that the FTDI onboard is stupid for things going into production, but there are other boards with a header thats a straight plugin for the fdti cable that’s on here and other suppliers, or you can make your own out of a cellphone data cable. There is now the protoduino that has a nice prototyping area on it and a basic avr and oscilator and serial header layout on it.

    For a dev environment the onboard FTDI means nothign to lose like a seperate cable. I dont like the selection of USB socket on the board, the standard USB mini would have been a better selection because the large one used only on printers etc hits boards on top – same for the DC jack, but others make ones with more sensible connector choices on them.

    As far as making microcontrollers more accessible, the arduino project is a massive success. If you think that its a bit childish for you than it probably is – just dont go knocking the idea of it because you think you can do better.

    The staggered pins is a bit of a pain in the ass when making something on protoboard to plug into it, but some bending with plyers gets protoboard stacking onto it ok (or just not use those pins).

    Its something that the seeeduino has resolved, and I would like to see others put that change onto their boards as well (its just a second set of holes)

    But then, I would also like to see the other pins of the FTDI bought out to pads, being able to remove the connection between the FTDI and the USART without cutting tracks, and have a eeprom on it so I can change the USB ID to something else so I can make my own port designation for each device to solve my current problem with the /dev/tty names rearranging everytime I do something stupid and kill the USB bus and it re-enumerates it.

    And the good thing is that if it botheres me enough I could make the malco-duino or whatever with the information provided _very_ easily.

  23. richard, the problems you saw with ‘renaming’ has little to do with Arduino but is actually an issue with avr-gcc where they decided to completely rename all the registers and interrupts for the 328p. it is a mystery why they did this but it affected ALL AVR code, breaking everything written before the ‘328p and if you talked ‘straight to the chip’ you would have seen the SAME exact problems. (granted, it would have been wise for the Arduino team to note this and fix it in the distro)

    if you’re on the developer list you would see there was recently a discussion on how to optimize pin writes/reads to 1-instruction-cycle instead of ~20. there are some tradeoffs but you can use the code or just twiddle the port registers yourself.

    as for FTDI chip naming, this is something you can likely tweak in the linux drivers. changing the VID/PID will likely only make your problems worse. all the chips have a serial number engraved in them, and you can use that instead, the macos drivers built into macos x do this.

  24. @Nick W: The Arduino (and open hardware generally) is a threat to an entire industry. It is inevitable that there is going to be some mud slinging and muck-raking.

    In my experience when you start something new, there are ALWAYS people who tell you it is a crappy idea. This says more about them than it does about you.

    It’s one reason that many startup CEO’s stop listening to nay-sayers.

  25. “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
    That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
    And then is heard no more: it is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing.”

    Listen to them not, and continue your good works. We believe in you.

  26. At some point over the last year I got out of the habit of reading slashdot. Many of the comments above have reminded me why.

    Also in the last year, well two months ago to be precise, I restarted my electronics hobby. I used to play around with microcontrollers (8051s) about 10 years ago but for various reasons got out of the habit. Then just by chance, and I don’t recall where now, I browsed across Arduino and thought I would give it a go. It was cheap and I didn’t have to invest in a lot of money in hardware and software that I may not end up using.

    I’m glad I did too as it’s rekindled my interest in electronics.

    For me the positives about the Arduino are (in no specific order):
    – Low cost hardware
    – Free IDE
    – Cross platform – including the Mac!!!
    – Lots of resources on the internet + a supportive community.
    – C/C++ based development (I used to code in assembly on the 8051s)
    – Easy uploading (I used to use EPROMs!!! That’s one E not two – yes UV erasers and all that!).
    – Great choice of shields for extending the platforms.
    – The Wiring library hides a lot of the underling h/w technicalities from the novice (can be seen as a negative too).

    For what you get for the price it’s hard to fault in my opinion. Most importantly Arduino has helped open-up microelectronics to a new audience. Anything that helps educate people in the reality of how our technological world works and frees them from the dumbed-down inaccuracies of popular misconception must be a good thing.

    I certainly see Arduino as a prototyping platform and fully expect to migrate to programming the ATmega microcontrollers directly for any final designs and even using assembly where speed is needed. Until that time I can get a proof of concept up and running pretty quickly.

    Thanks to the Arduino team, Ladyada, oomlout, sparkfun and all others who have made it possible.

  27. And here we have the downside of free speech (having to listen to other people, including the ones that don’t “get it”) as well as the downside of the “masquerade ball”, i.e., the Internet where anyone can get up on a soap box in relative comfort and (anonymous) safety and say whatever happens to cross their minds, for free. This is why I quit reading the /. comments years before giving up on /. altogether.

    I say keep up the good work, Limor! You’re an inspiration to thousands today and more tomorrow. Bravo!

    Dale Wheat

  28. I built an arduino single sided for $10 last month to put in a singing fish gag gift – including the pre-loaded ATmega328 off this site. It doesn’t get much cheaper than that.

    Limor – love the site/work/store!

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