Outdoor Technologist

Technologist who loves the outdoors

Open x, (x = ProtoHardware, Hardware, Product, Module, Block, y)

This year I decided to attend the Open Hardware Summit in NYC to survey the land and get an understanding of the community. Since I was busy and didn’t know anyone in the OHW community I didn’t do any prep and simply started asking questions as I met people.

I learned that people want Open Hardware (OHW), and they were very passionate about it. It took me a couple hours but then I realized that part of purpose of the meeting was to move the OSHW Draft Definition 0.3 to a released version. The feedback 0.4 compiled document here: http://goo.gl/Dzbe (link from OHW page).

I had a few discussions with people during the day, coupled them with my experience at large companies… from this comes my view of the Open x world.

My personal view of Openness are:

Open Proto-Hardware:

  1. It passes the all critical initial power application smoke test (apply power to ensure that there are no power – ground shorts)
  2. Bootloader/Firmware/Software loads via JTAG
  3. GPIOs are toggled to provide sign of life and relax the HW designer
  4. Rudimentary functionality is proven – memory read/write, communication busses show sign of life
  5. HW Design files provided – this should be same package sent to PCB manufacturer & assembly house that resulted in working HW.
  6. Document which CAD package is used and then provide project files required for original designer to seamlessly continue project work on a new computer. examples: component footprints, symbols, design rules, complete board stackup
  7. SW environment documented, including connectivity tools (Serial or JTAG box) I’m not a SW guy – please provide inputs here.
  8. Written Documentation level is low

The above creates a low level, early access semi-proven innovation platform.

This platform fosters cross discipline collaboration and aligns projects along the proper trajectory early in the design cycle, and if two designs spawn out of this it can be broken into multiple projects which share core technologies, yet may diverge due to different features.

Open Hardware:

  1. Encompasses all of Open ProtoHardware PLUS
  2. Specified devices on board have been proven to communicate and have basic functionality. Example: 802.11b communication, USB enumerates, Bluetooth pairs. Would be acceptable to say that HDMI was placed but not functional and ANT+ functionality is included in the WiFi/BT chip, yet has not yet been activated.
  3. OS functions and is ready for SW designers to start working with APIs (forgive my ignorance in the SW space – someone please reword this for me so it makes sense to SW peeps!)
  4. SW environment is documented and source is provided. (Information threshold should be that the initial designer could take a new computer and continue their work on it once it is set up)

Open Product

  1. Includes all of Open ProtoHardware and Hardware PLUS
  2. All SW, HW documentation, Mechanical Design Files, Assembly Instructions, Test Methodologies are included.
  3. This basically allows you to take a product and completely recreate it. Must change logos – attribution nice, knockoffs are deceiving.

These are my thoughts that I’d like to use to start a discussion about the definition.

I put it on this blog that I’ve cobbled together, I hope comments work – if there is a better place to place it, let me know and I will move it over.


John • November 12, 2010

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