Category Archives: Open Hardware

Arduino and Open Source Hardware

It has come to our attention recently that there is reason to question the Arduino team’s commitments to its community and to open source hardware.

Dale Dougherty posted on the Make blog about Arduino’s apparent lack of progress toward their announced Arduino Foundation. Phillip Torrone posted to the OSHWA mailing list about Arduino products that fail to meet the basic criteria of open source hardware projects. These are both troubling. As members of the open source hardware community and members of the Arduino community, we would like to add our weight to the call for Arduino to return to their open source hardware roots.

(Some disclosure on our relationships to these communities: we have been building Arduino-compatible open source hardware projects for years, and have been an official Arduino reseller. We have participated in developing the Open Hardware Definition and in the formation of OSHWA. While not everything we do is open source, we have been heavily invested both personally and professionally in open source hardware and software for many years.)

We love Arduino and we, along with a large and diverse set of communities, have benefitted enormously from the breadth and depth of the Arduino family and its resources. This is an exciting era for Arduino and for open source hardware, with the debut of the first Arduino and compatible boards based on silicon level open source hardware.

However, we are deeply concerned that several recent products from Arduino are claiming to be open source but upon research, indeed do not appear to be so. Arduino, once one of the standard bearers in our community, now seems to be falling into the grey area of OSHWINO (Open Source Hardware in Name Only).

We would like to openly call for Arduino to immediately publish the missing design files and license information for these products. Even from a basic truth in advertising perspective, future products labeled as open source need to have these requirements met by their time of release. We also join in Dale’s call for bringing the Arduino Foundation into existence: it is more clear than ever that Arduino needs to renew its promise to the community.


Update, June 16, 2017: Massimo Banzi comments below: “Arduino is open source HW and SW. Full stop. Some files seems to be missing and I’ll inform my colleagues at .org that they need to update them.”

Update, July 28, 2017: Arduino appears to be under new managment, with Massimo Banzi in a larger role. We are optimistic that this represents a major turning point in the story.

AYAB: A new interface for vintage knitting machines

Machine knitted versions of the AYAB and the Evil Mad Scientist logos

AYAB — All Yarns Are Beautiful — is an open source hardware and software project that provides an alternative way to control the widely-loved Brother KH-9xx range of knitting machines using a computer. There are other hacks (such as Img2Track, Knitic and electro-knit) which work with certain machines in certain conditions. The AYAB interface works with all Brother KH-9xx machines except the KH-970.

AYAB control board

We’ve just launched a new interface board for the AYAB project. They’ve written about it on their site, and you can read the product details on our store page for it.

Historically, these machines were programmed with semi-transparent picture cards which were scanned by the machine line by line. For later machines, you could enter a pattern via lots of tedious button-pressing. Some models had an add-on gadget that connected to your vintage TV.

Knitted image of Live Long and Prosper hand gesture

With the AYAB interface, you can provide an image of up to a 200 pixel (or needle) size from your computer. The control is done by an Arduino-compatible microcontroller board, which replaces the vintage control board. We are excited to be helping to bring new capabilities to these beloved machines.

RGB Interactive Table

IR_Table

Craig shared this project which evolved with the assistance of the Octolively project.

Thanks for the previous help you gave me when I was designing my own IR proximity boards. I thought you may want to have a look at the finished item.

I have attached a picture of the 25 100mmx100mm boards and a video of the table working. Each one had a SOIC PIC 18F26K22 on it, with 9 IR transmitters and receivers and 9 x WS2812b addressable LEDs on. They all kind of communicate with each other so that each board does the same IR reading of the same ‘pixel’ at the same time as the others. I simply have a pin on the board which outputs low whan it is working (taking a reading’, then after it is done, it changes to an input pin, it continually looks at this pin until it goes high, meaning all the other boards have also completed that particular reading and then it’s on to the next one.

I also have a calibration function so any thickness opaque covering can be put on the table top.

I have 2 buttons on it. One to change the colour (including the rainbow fade) and also a button to change the fade speed.

IR_Table

Thank you, Craig, for sharing your project! We’re glad you were able to get inspiration and helpful information from one of our projects.

 

 

Interactive LED Christmas Tree

LED Christmas tree on Octolively derivative boards

Our friends at Mouser sent us this picture of their Octolively derived display, updated for the holidays:

We continue to have fun with your Octolively module design. In the attached photo you can see why we decided to use sockets for the LEDs on our boards.  We plan on changing out the display for each of the holidays.

I was a little concerned at first about using the red LEDs with resistors that were chosen for white or blue, but they’re socketed, so replacing any that get damaged by overdriving should be easy! Looks like a fun way to celebrate at the office, and the snowflake tree-topper is a nice touch.

DIY Mega Menorah 9000

LEDs in breadboard

Over on twitter, @shaiss says:

This is why #OSHA is awesome! In a pinch+some parts we made our electronic menorah. @EMSL design &  @adafruit trinket.

If you want to roll your own, the open source hardware documentation is on our wiki. If you’re not keen on the breadboard aesthetic for your hanukkiyah, you can still get the Mega Menorah 9000 kit.

The Boldport Buggy

Boldport Buggy

Introducing the Boldport Buggy kit.

This simple and playful soldering kit is based on the on the beautiful Buggy circuit board designed by Saar Drimer of Boldport.

Boldport Buggy

Boldport Buggy

The first version of this circuit board was created as a badge for the hardwear.io hardware security conference in The Hague. This new version of the Buggy is a complete kit, featuring an updated circuit board, with a power switch and six candle-flicker LEDs.

Boldport Buggy

A cool detail is that its six legs are actually the current-limiting resistors for those six LEDs. They are posable (giving it quite a bit of personality) and we have given it little red tubing socks to cover up the otherwise-conductive feet.

Boldport Buggy Boldport Buggy

The Boldport Buggy kit is available now at our store, and you can read more about its design at Boldport.

Thoughts on OSHW and OSHW certification

OSHWA, the Open Source Hardware Association, recently released a proposal for what they are calling Open Source Hardware Certification.  With some paraphrasing and handwaving, their proposal boils down to this:

  1. OSHWA will create a new logo and trademark it.
  2. To license this new trademark, you would need to agree to a contract that says:
    1. We will only put this trademark on open source hardware (as defined in the open hardware definition).
    2. If we use the logo otherwise (and do not stop when OSHWA repeatedly asks to stop), we agree to pay a hefty fine.

OSHWA has not yet fleshed out the details — neither the new logo nor the exact contents of that license contract. It’s easy to be cynical about stuff like this. But instead, let’s please give them the benefit of the doubt and suppose that when those details arrive, it turns out that they’ve done a superb job: the contract ends up to be simple, well thought-out, straightforward and does just what it says.

Maybe the new trademarked logo would look something like this mock-up:

placeholder oshwa certified logo

Given all of that, would there be a good case for some people to use this certification process? I have mixed thoughts on it. But on the whole, I’m tending towards a “probably.”

Continue reading Thoughts on OSHW and OSHW certification

Intel Open Source Hardware Advisory Panel

I’ve been participating in the Intel Open Source Hardware Advisory Panel this year.

… Intel hosted a series of conversations with the company’s Open Source Hardware Advisory Panel – a group of key enablers in the global open source hardware ecosystem – about licensing, best practices, sustaining development communities, business models, path to product, Shenzhen, and the evolving relationship between the global maker movement and chip manufacturers.

We’ve had some interesting conversations and Intel has been publishing video from our meetings. At the session titled Open Source Hardware Communities, Case Studies, and Guidelines, I talked about the EggBot and its communities of users; Adrian Bowyer talked about the RepRap community; André Knoerig about Fritzing; and David Scheltema about Make and Maker Faire. I enjoy seeing these issues being grappled with, and hope that our conversations will help others as they think about these topics. Videos from the sessions can be found on the panel page at Intel.

MakerCon 2015

MakerCon is a short conference put on by Maker Media in the week leading up to Maker Faire about the business of making.

Gael with InMoov

3D printing is a common maker topic, and MakerCon brought a few different twists to it. Above is Gael demonstrating InMoov, an open source 3D printed humanoid robot. There was also an incredibly inspiring talk about applications for medical 3D printing by Dr. Glenn Green.

Gigabot print

3D printing can be whimsical as well, as demonstrated by this “25 mm” drill bit by Gigabot.

Strawbees

The folks from Strawbees had built a quadcopter rotor cage with a clever servo actuator for flapping sculptural wings.

Clever flex design

I enjoyed seeing this attractive laser cut living hinge at the BotFactory demo.

Rogue Rover

Rogue Rovers are electric semi-autonomous ATVs designed for agricultural use to reduce farm injuries and pollution.

More pictures from the event are in my flickr album.

Hands on with NanoBeam

nanobeam-26
nanobeam-13

Last fall we wrote about NanoBeam, a new super-miniature open source aluminum T-slot profile construction set that was on Kickstarter at the time. While comparable in design to industrial profile systems like 80/20, its cross section of just 5 mm × 5 mm is comparable to a stud on a lego brick.

We recently got our tweezers hands on a ‘beam, and yes, it’s real, yes, it works, and yes, it’s that tiny. And just wait until you see the fasteners.

Continue reading Hands on with NanoBeam