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Open Source Hardware Hacking Build Hardware

Open Source Hardware Definition Hits 0.3 93

Posted by timothy
from the but-it's-a-conservative-number dept.
ptorrone writes "A group of open source hardware makers have put together a draft of the open source hardware definition, now at version 0.3, which hopes to further define the making, sharing and selling of hardware within an 'Open Source Hardware license.' This fall, the day before Maker Faire New York City, the group hopes to have the license finalized for v1.0, and they are holding the first Open Source Hardware Summit. There are currently dozens of companies making open source hardware, altogether worth millions of dollars."
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Open Source Hardware Definition Hits 0.3

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  • I have to say (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ILongForDarkness (1134931) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @03:30PM (#32905192)
    They are dreaming. Sure some hardware is relatively easy to develop on your own on a small budget. But most of it needs expensive equipment, fab facilities, testing systems etc. If you think a group of disperse individuals will each have the same equipment to collaborate you're dreaming. If you think a company is going to by the hardware and then let anyone manufacture it again you are dreaming.

    The reason why open source software works is that it is easy for people to contribute and it is essentially free to give someone a copy. That is not the case with hardware.

  • Re:I have to say (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Michael Kristopeit (1751814) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @03:44PM (#32905366)
    you're completely wrong. computer chip fabs are extremely automated, and many silicon valley chip makers don't even own their own fabs, and instead drop ship them from shared fabs in china. if a standard was created for manufacturing instructions, as the open hardware people are trying to do, then utilizing the fabs to make a one off product of an open design would be accessible to anyone.

    you're right that current manufacturing company's testing and development equipment wouldn't match... the entire point of open hardware is to make that fact not matter.

  • Re:I have to say (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vlm (69642) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @03:46PM (#32905402)

    The reason why open source software works is that it is easy for people to contribute and it is essentially free to give someone a copy. That is not the case with hardware.

    Are you ever going to be confused when you learn about FPGAs.

    http://www.opencores.org/ [opencores.org]

  • Re:I have to say (Score:2, Insightful)

    by serialband (447336) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @03:47PM (#32905424)

    It has to start somewhere. Someone has to dream and try to make their dreams come true for things to even change. If no one ever bothers, then what's the point?

  • Re:I have to say (Score:3, Insightful)

    by selven (1556643) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @03:51PM (#32905472)

    There is strong corporate backing behind open source software. For example, about 75% of Linux is written by corporations. The same arguments they use (basically, if we put stuff out there, we can benefit from others building on it and publishing their improvements) should also apply to hardware.

  • Re:I have to say (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @04:03PM (#32905636)

    When is the last time you tried to do a one-off run of a custom chip? It's incredibly expensive. Just creating masks is going to cost you thousands of dollars. There are a lot of fixed costs in creating microchips and you really have to produce a lot of them to get the unit price down to a reasonable level. Standardizing manufacturing instructions isn't going to solve this problem.

    If there is any future in open source hardware, it will only be for digital electronics and it will use FPGAs.

  • by localman57 (1340533) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @04:15PM (#32905772)

    for most hardware of any significance

    What is significant varies a lot from person to person. Building an inexpensive circuit that does something fun is significant if you find it to be so.

    a provider of open source hardware has to expend significant manufacturing

    Not so. If I build a single circuit to satisfy my own urges, I can still open source the schematic, pcb layout, parts footprint, etc. in a way that other people can use. They can fab it as is, or they can modify it, then fab it. Or, just look at it out of curiousity. No one says you have to manufacture your design in bulk, in the same way that you can create your own distro without having to send it to Best Buy in shrink-wrapped boxes. You can fab a prototype PCB these days for tens of dollars if you don't need it in a couple of days.

  • by localman57 (1340533) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @04:33PM (#32906000)

    it looks like the vast majority of the "open source hardware" projects were toys with blinking lights and pointless gadgets.

    First, I'd say that early computers were likely characterized by many as pointless gadgets with blinking lights.

    significantly improve our computing infrastructure and get rid of the problems caused by closed hardware (especially things like video cards, which are still giving open source OS's trouble)

    Secondly, you view this too narrowly. The idea of open source hardware goes far, far beyond the personal computer. It's about being able to develop all sorts of hardware. Things that interface to the OBD port of your car. An alarm clock that has 4 alarm times instead of 1 or 2. A way to blink your Christmas lights to the BeeGees. These are the goals of open source hardware. Oh, and yes, maybe video cards too.

  • Re:I have to say (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Stan Vassilev (939229) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @04:35PM (#32906038)

    They are dreaming. Sure some hardware is relatively easy to develop on your own on a small budget. But most of it needs expensive equipment, fab facilities, testing systems etc. If you think a group of disperse individuals will each have the same equipment to collaborate you're dreaming. If you think a company is going to by the hardware and then let anyone manufacture it again you are dreaming.

    So, they have a dream, huh :P? Very dramatic, but you're confusing two orthogonal ideas: free/make-it-yourself hardware and open source hardware.

    Open source hardware means the spec is open, and any (suffiently rich) person or a company could manufacture clones of the hardware piece free of fees and obligations. The PC architecture is a fine example of mostly open source hardware, that has had wild success.

    Sure, PCs aren't free, but the fact anyone could enter the market and make PC clones have significantly brought prices down and have allowed free exchange of compatible parts and a platform that has remained independent contrary to the interests of some of the manufacturing agents.

    So these guys just want to create a clear definition of what "open source hardware" actually is, so when you say it, you know what you're getting. However, why the heck it's taking them so much time to write the damn thing... another story.

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