Open-source hardware standards formally issued

Open-Source Hardware-Chips 610X405

Open-source hardware standards formally issued @ Geek Gestalt – CNET News

NEW YORK–There are 13 million-dollar open-source hardware companies, but there have been no standards governing what defines the still nascent field. Until now, that is. Unlike open-source software, because there have been no formal definitions, many people may not even be aware of the growing industry. But already some of those practicing its general principles have become household names among the geek set: Arduino, the programmable single-board microcontroller and software suite; Chumby, a popular Wi-Fi device; MakerBot, a low-priced 3D printer; and Adafruit, a maker of do-it-yourself hardware kits for things like MP3 players and more.

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:

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  1. Good news!

  2. “License Must Be Technology-Neutral –
    No provision of the license may be predicated on any individual technology or style of interface.”

    A project I’m working on right now makes use of Atmel’s Q-matrix products, for which Atmel provides free tools and code. Microchip’s mTouch, Cypress PSoC, and other touch sense products certainly won’t be compatible, though they can perform similar functions. Since my circuits will require a particulat Q-matrix chip, does this clause of the open-source hardware standards mean that I can’t release under this license?

    I’m asking here, because I know Ladyada and PT are quite familiar with all the latest Open-source HW stuff. Maybe I’m misunderstanding the clause, but it seems like if I use any particular chip that doesn’t have pin-compatible alternatives, I can’t release under this license. Can someone clear this up a bit for me?

    (Also, in my particular case I’m not worried about the necessary software portion, since the tools *are* freely available from Atmel, and they’ve got a long history of providing free tools. So as long as I make that clear, and explain what software tools and code are available and how to acquire them, I ought to be set. Am I understanding this part correctly?)

  3. @Inventorjack – in our opinion you’re fine and can release it under an open source hardware license, everything -you- have control over you are releasing. someone could come along and use another chip, it’s not pin compatible but it could be replaced with something else. bunnie has a post that you should check out…

  4. Thanks much for the info and the link. Good point about the fact that another chip *could* be used with some modification to the original schematics that will be released.

    Also, Bunnie has a very interesting article there. Hopefully the community will soon be able to clarify these things in the next version of the license.


    As a side note, I’m seeing the exact opposite of the open-source spirit in my workplace. I work on military Radar systems, and I’m attending training now on an upcoming upgrade to one of our systems. Sadly, so much of the circuitry is moving to ‘black boxes’. FPGAs and CPLDs with magic data lines protruding from them. While I know the fundamentals, and can figure out what must be occurring inside these chips, I fear future generations of technicians are going to have no clue. They’ll just see a data line or pin and have no clue where/how it was generated.

    So sad that in our current ‘pluck and chuck’ world, instead of fully understanding and allowing the possibility of repairing boards or even being able to make suggestions for improvement to the processing of signals and data, we must just believe that these signals are correct, and assume that they’re made correctly and in the most efficient and reliable way.

    Anyway, rant over. Just my thoughts on the current state of consumer/industrial/military electronics.

  5. I’m glad chris anderson finally came around, he refused to disclose eagle files for the longest time for ardupilot.

  6. @SgtJones – that’s the opposite of what i’ve seen and heard from chris and the diy drone project. can you point to some public statement that says “i refuse to release files”? if they’re out now what’s the issue?

  7. Sure look here: Last comment on the page(Nov 2009)

    Continued on the next page where a user complains that not disclosing the files and only the pdfs of the pcb doesn’t let people contribute easily.

    I have nothing against chris anderson, his project is great, I just find it interesting that he is a signatory to this since I’ve never seen an open source project not clearly post the source openly and freely.

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