[OH Updates] diluting your list of Open source products

Pierce Nichols pierce at logos-electro.com
Tue Sep 20 22:54:38 PDT 2011


Bruce,

I don't think the worth of an OSHW project is set by how technically
ambitious it is but rather by the degree to which it enables people to
do useful and/or cool things. For example, the gyro breakout boards
that Sparkfun sells have made it much easier for hackers and other
hobbyists to use MEMS gyros in their projects. And that enables things
like DIYDrones and any number of balance bots to exist. The OSHW
ecosystem needs to include a lot of very simple, cheap, and useful
boards as well as meatier projects like the Ardupilot or Dangerous
Prototypes' excellent tools.

Far from setting a good example for OSHW, I don't think Ettus products
even qualify as OSHW under the the OSHW 1.0 definition. Their software
certainly qualifies as OSS, but their hardware fails to meet core
provisions of the OSHW 1.0 definition. Specifically, Ettus fails the
documentation requirement. They publish schematics as pdfs (i.e. the
moral equivalent of compiled code), and so far as I have been able to
determine do not publish their board layouts in any
form whatever. Since layout is at least as important as schematics for
high speed and RF boards (most Ettus boards are both), that means they
do not supply sufficient information for others to duplicate and/or
learn from key aspects of their work.

-p


On 9/20/11, Bruce Perens <bruce at perens.com> wrote:
> On 09/20/2011 03:47 PM, David Carrier wrote:
>> These are all open-source hardware.  Even though the breakout boards don't
>> really act as a significant resource to the community by being
>> open-source, it would be stupid not to release them as an open-source
>> product just because they are not novel.  The biggest downside is that
>> they do dilute our list of open source products, even though they are not
>> a a major chunk of our design time or our revenue.  We mostly build them
>> because customers want them and they make our other products (processors
>> and development boards) much more useful.
> Parallax makes real stuff, both proprietary and Open Source, so this is
> not Parallax's problem. But I think this problem of diluting your own
> list of Open Source products is a symptom of the broader problem. In a
> sense the "global" list of Open Hardware products is diluted by all of
> those breakout boards, both yours and those of others. And then the
> folks who just make breakout boards are taken as seriously as folks like
> Parallax.
>
> I have probably already said enough to raise people's sensitivity to the
> issue. Perhaps this will drive some of the breakout board folks to be
> more ambitious.
>
>      Thanks
>
>      Bruce
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>


-- 
Pierce Nichols
Principal Engineer
Logos Electromechanical, LLC


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