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Open Source Hardware, For Fun and For Profit 122

Posted by timothy
from the make-it-so dept.
ptorrone writes "Lots of open source hardware articles making the rounds this week, first up — Wired has an excellent piece on the Arduino project, an open source electronics prototyping platform, its founders and business model (they have sold over 50,000 units). And next up MIT's Tech Review has a profile on a few open source hardware businesses including NYC based Adafruit Industries best known for projects like the open source synth (x0x0b0x) and 'fun' projects like the Wave Bubble, the open source cell phone/wifi/GPS/RF jammer."
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Open Source Hardware, For Fun and For Profit

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  • Yes 'fun'... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by abigsmurf (919188) on Friday October 24, 2008 @08:29AM (#25496299)
    Radio Jammers are most definately not fun. It's bad enough the ones that send out a burst designed to disconnect phonecalls but one that's designed to run for 2-4 hours...

    If someone on a cell phone is annoying you, ask them to keep it down or turn it off. Don't potentially block a call that may be to (or from) the emergency services or another life or death communication. There's a reason jammers carry stiff penalties in most Western countries.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Don't potentially block a call that may be to (or from) the emergency services or another life or death communication.

      It's remarkable that the world managed to function at all before the age of cellular communication.

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It's remarkable that the world managed to function at all before the age of cellular communication.

        The world also functioned before sanitation, electricity, writing, farming, etc. But a greater proportion of people died younger and just surviving was a lot harder.

        For every new invention X there's always some sarcastic idiot with the "one must ask how the world managed to function before X?!?!!!!11110xb0xb\lim_{x\to 0} \sin x/x" The point, you reactionary retard, is not to turn the world from somewhere where everyone dies into somewhere where no-one dies, but to make life easier and to save the occasional

        • by Andor666 (659649)

          The world also functioned before sanitation, electricity, writing, farming, etc. But a greater proportion of people died younger and just surviving was a lot harder.

          All right... all right... but apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order... what have the Romans done for us?

        • The point, you reactionary retard, is not to turn the world from somewhere where everyone dies into somewhere where no-one dies, but to make life easier and to save the occasional soul.

          I think no one is advocating that cell phones be eliminated, only that they need an occasional control. We have automobiles, but we also have safety belts, driving licenses, traffic lights, etc, etc. Every technology needs a set of safety guards to make sure they will be used properly.

          To say that people have an absolute right

      • Re:Yes 'fun'... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by zacronos (937891) on Friday October 24, 2008 @08:59AM (#25496523)

        Don't potentially block a call that may be to (or from) the emergency services or another life or death communication.

        It's remarkable that the world managed to function at all before the age of cellular communication.

        It's remarkable that the world managed to function at all before the age of modern medicine.

        Just because humanity survived through it doesn't mean it is responsible or ethical to strip it away in circumstances when you don't understand the consequences.

        The truth is, people before modern medicine might stand a better chance of dealing with a given health issue because they knew folk remedies which may have helped (though they didn't always help, they were rarely harmful). Today, most of us have an almost total lack of ability to deal with major health issues without modern medicine. The same is true with cellular communication -- people were fine without it at the time, but they (we) have grown fairly dependent on it today. Take it away unexpectedly, and they're worse off than when it didn't exist.

        Note that I don't say this as if it were a good thing -- I think it's a horrible thing. But that doesn't make it any less true.

        • by theaveng (1243528)

          Well cell phones don't bother me.

          But whitespace-devices broadcasting over television channels do! If I'm trying to watch channel 17 from Philly, and suddenly it disappears because some teen's Ipod is broadcasting over-top of the same channel, you can be sure I'll do something to stop him. A "jammer" sounds like a great way to encourage him to turn-off the Ipod, so I can go back to watching the Philadelphia Phillies.

          >>>Take it away unexpectedly, and they're worse off than when it didn't exist.

          That

          • by SQLGuru (980662)

            I was pretty sure that the point of whitespace was to broadcast BETWEEN the channels and not on top of them.....

            Layne

            • by theaveng (1243528)

              >>>I was pretty sure that the point of whitespace was to broadcast BETWEEN the channels and not on top of them.....

              Yes, but if the whitespace devices don't detect WPHL 17 (because it's too weak, or other flaw), then yes the WSD will broadcast directly over top of it. I could be sitting watching 17, and suddenly an Ipod starts broadcasting directly over top of the Phillies game.

              Also there's no "in between" on TV channels. WPHL 17 sits directly next to 18 which sits directly next to 19. So if a wh

              • So if a whitespace device broadcasts on channel 18, its transmission will still "spillover" onto the top half of channel 17

                So how come a TV station broadcasting on channel 18 doesn't spillover onto the top half of channel 17?

        • Take it away unexpectedly, and they're worse off than when it didn't exist. Note that I don't say this as if it were a good thing -- I think it's a horrible thing. But that doesn't make it any less true.

          True, they'll be worse off-- but only for a generation or two.

          A good chunk of people will struggle by. Once they squeeze out a round of kids who weren't born with technology all around them, they won't be acclimated to it. Instead, they'll acclimate to the only living conditions they've ever known. Withi

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Restil (31903)

            But I don't want to be a farmer, plowing fields with rocks, hoping to save enough extra to survive the winter, and hoping I don't catch some fatal disease so I can live until I'm at least into my 40s.

            Yes, I could live without it if I had to. But I don't want to, and I'm guessing that nobody else wants to either. We can't go back, and we can't stay where we are, so we only go forward.

            But if it will put your mind at ease, you can be contented in the fact that 10 years from now, there will likely be some new

            • We can't go back, and we can't stay where we are, so we only go forward.

              That's my point. We can't go back (for certain values of "we") because we're used to communication, easy food, longevity, leisure, etc, etc. Take them away and we suffer, but we can still boink like bunnies. The next generation can cope with it because they won't be used to all those things. (And because a good number of the people who just can't live without all that stuff will, well, literally not have lived without it, and thus wo

            • by theaveng (1243528)

              I thought we were discussing cellphones, not sicknesses? Quote: "The same is true with cellular communication -- people were fine without it at the time, but they have grown fairly dependent on it today."

              I have a $5 a month cellphone and barely use it. I can survive just fine without it, and so too can everybody else, except possibly those addicted to talking (gossips).

        • Common decency should prevent people from shouting inanities into their cell phones in crowded places. However, decency is not common; therefore, there ought to be a law against using cell phones in such places as restaurants and zen retreats. It should be backed up with electronic countermeasures against the loudmouths and troglodytes who would be inclined to disobey it.
        • by DittoBox (978894)

          Yes because bleeding someone to deathâ"on purpose mind youâ"was "rarely harmful."

          • by zacronos (937891)

            Yes because bleeding someone to deathâ"on purpose mind youâ"was "rarely harmful."

            That's one technique that was usually harmful -- I explicitly allowed that there were some harmful techniques, so you've not proven me wrong in any way. It's like if I said "cars usually have effective safety systems" and then you found a single carmaker whose cars usually don't. That doesn't prove me wrong, because I was talking about the whole picture, while you were talking about a single part of it.

            Most folk remedies that were in use for extended periods of time were neither harmful nor helpful, bu

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It's remarkable that the world managed to function at all before the age of cellular communication.

        I'm sure that people were saying the same thing about land lines when telephone poles/wires started cluttering up the scenery.
        While jamming cell frequencies in a local area is not the same as chopping down a telephone pole it's still illegal in most places.

        Cell phones are here to stay, it's the people not the technology that is causing the problem.

    • Your emergency services comment is somewhere between stale and a clichéd.

      It does contain a kernel of truth though. If you are going to the effort of building your own cellphone jammer, so you don't have to listen to other people's shit in public, don't.
      Build a tazer instead.

      • Don't potentially block a call that may be to (or from) the emergency services or another life or death communication.

        Your emergency services comment is somewhere between stale and a clichéd.

        So wait, your response to his concern is that it's "stale and cliche"? And you think that somehow means his concerns aren't valid?

        • by smithmc (451373) *

          Don't potentially block a call that may be to (or from) the emergency services or another life or death communication.

          Your emergency services comment is somewhere between stale and a clichéd.

          So wait, your response to his concern is that it's "stale and cliche"? And you think that somehow means his concerns aren't valid?

          He subscribes to the Maureen Dowd school of argument - doesn't matter if the point is valid, as long as it's smug and jaded.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Tuoqui (1091447)

      Gimme a cell phone jammer so I can use it while driving. That way assholes around me will get off their phones and pay attention to the road.

      • Counterproductive. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by camperdave (969942)
        You'll only make things worse. People will start fiddling with their cell phone to try to figure out why it just stopped working. They'll try redialling. They'll be looking at their screens to check the signal, etc. You'll draw even more of their attention away from the road and onto their phone.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ArhcAngel (247594)

        Gimme a cell phone jammer so I can use it while driving. That way assholes around me will get off their phones and pay attention to the road.

        You, kind sir, are an optimist. Given your scenario I would break it down thusly:

        1) 50% (the xx variety) will just keep yappin because they never stop talking long enough to realize the call dropped.
        2) 20% will wildly shake their communication device in an attempt "squeeze" out more signal.
        3) 15% will beat the device within an inch of it's life swerving across lanes wh

    • Re:Yes 'fun'... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by iamdrscience (541136) <michaelmtripp AT gmail DOT com> on Friday October 24, 2008 @09:04AM (#25496583) Homepage
      Anytime the Wavebubble comes up, somebody brings out the argument that it could potentially block a call to Emergency services, but really this isn't a very realistic scenario. The Wavebubble really has a pretty limited range, from the project page: Effective range is approximately 20' radius with well-tuned antennas" [ladyada.net]. That's a small enough area that to anybody within range it would just appear like a small dead spot in coverage and just like a regular deadspot, they'd probably walk around a little bit until they got service. It doesn't impede emergency access any more than standing on the wrong side of a building might. Furthermore, a 20 foot radius is small enough that if there is somebody nearby needing emergency services, you can almost certainly see them and help out yourself.

      If someone on a cell phone is annoying you, ask them to keep it down or turn it off.

      I work in a retail store and people are constantly coming up to the counter talking on their cellphones, oblivious to how rude it is to the people around them and how often it inconveniences other customers (customers talking on their phones generally will not be paying close attention to the transaction or myself, causing the sale to take longer). I can understand and agree with why cell-jammers are illegal, but still, everytime a particularly obnoxious customer comes up to the register on their cellphone, it's hard for me to avoid thinking about building a Wavebubble. What's stopped me thus far is that I really doubt it would do any good -- if I cut off their signal they're just going to try to redial whoever they were talking to, as distracted as ever.

      • by abigsmurf (919188)
        20' is enough to ensure everyone in a train carriage or cinema is unable to receive or make a call (the lower signal strenth in a cinema will make it more effective).

        They if they checked the signal before someone activated the jammer they wouldn't know they were unreachable and they could be someone who's on call (doctor, firefighter, coastguard etc.) or waiting on a message.
        • Fortunately, the solution is obvious.

          Hook up an S-meter to a cell phone vibrator and install them in a set of brass knuckles. If there is a jammer, just use the light buzzing to guide your fist to the proper location.

      • by TobyWong (168498)

        Sorry but "it probably won't be an issue" isn't a legitimate reason to use this device.

        People can be annoying. Cellphones are just one of the ways they do it. Get over it.

    • I reserve the right to jam cell phones in my property. If I had an establishment like a concert hall, auditorium, movie theater, etc., I would install cell phones jammers. Jammers should not carry any penalty.
      • by hplus (1310833)
        So we can just reserve the right to break the law on our own property now? Cool!
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If someone on a cell phone is annoying you, ask them to keep it down or turn it off. Don't potentially block a call that may be to (or from) the emergency services or another life or death communication.

      Where I live (a western country), asking someone to keep it down on the cellphone may put you in a life or death situation. People get kicked within an inch of their life for asking other passengers to put out their cigarettes on public transportation. I'd much prefer a Wave Bubble, thank you very much.

    • first few FAQs from their site

      I would like to buy a wavebubble from you, will you sell me one? No

      I will pay you $500!!! No

      Do you sell a kit? No

      Will you build me one? No

      Why not? It's illegal & I'm not keen on getting fined by the FCC so that you can impress your friends

      http://www.ladyada.net/make/wavebubble/faq.html [ladyada.net]

  • Sweet! (Score:5, Funny)

    by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Friday October 24, 2008 @08:31AM (#25496313) Homepage Journal

    Open Source Kelly LeBrock Bot, here I come!

  • Links (Score:5, Informative)

    by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Friday October 24, 2008 @08:50AM (#25496413) Homepage Journal

    I felt these links should be in this thread:

    OPENCORES.ORG [opencores.org]
    Open Hardware [openhardware.de]
    OpenSPARC [opensparc.net]
    The Wikipedia article on Open-Source Hardware, with many more links [wikipedia.org]

    • by YA_Python_dev (885173) on Friday October 24, 2008 @09:10AM (#25496653) Journal

      Don't forget the Arduino official homepage [arduino.cc].

      It's simple, very hackable, Mac- and Linux-compatible and it's a true free/open source design, so they don't have a monopoly on it and you can buy compatible boards from other sources or DIY!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by JustKidding (591117)

        Arduino is nice as an introduction to microcontrollers, but there isn't a whole lot worth protecting in the first place; it's a microcontroller with an USB UART, a crystal and voltage regulator. There is nothing novel about the design, it's all copied from the reference designs in the datasheets. The board is nothing any remotely competent electrical engineer couldn't design in a couple of hours.

        The Wired article makes it sound like it's a huge advancement in electrical engineering, and they're giving it aw

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Bassman59 (519820)

          Arduino is nice as an introduction to microcontrollers, but there isn't a whole lot worth protecting in the first place; it's a microcontroller with an USB UART, a crystal and voltage regulator. There is nothing novel about the design, it's all copied from the reference designs in the datasheets. The board is nothing any remotely competent electrical engineer couldn't design in a couple of hours.

          The Wired article makes it sound like it's a huge advancement in electrical engineering, and they're giving it away!

          Wish I had mod points ... this post sums up exactly how I feel about the whole Arduino thing.

          I stopped reading Make because they just won't stop creaming their pants over Arduino. Yawn.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by ptorrone (638660) *

            hi, it's phill from MAKE - we cover and celebrate what *makers* are doing, over 50,000 sales of arduinos means a lot of people are doing projects and sharing them.

            that said, we do feature articles on basic stamp and we had a huge article on the parallax propeller chip, picaxe, you name it. it's more about what folks are making more than a chip.

            if you don't like arduino because it's simple and there's "nothing to it" that's likely the reason it's so popular and it's good to see so many people from all walks

            • by Bassman59 (519820)

              hi, it's phill from MAKE - we cover and celebrate what *makers* are doing, over 50,000 sales of arduinos means a lot of people are doing projects and sharing them.

              that said, we do feature articles on basic stamp and we had a huge article on the parallax propeller chip, picaxe, you name it. it's more about what folks are making more than a chip.

              if you don't like arduino because it's simple and there's "nothing to it" that's likely the reason it's so popular and it's good to see so many people from all walks of life and skill sets getting in to electronics.

              Actually, for $99 (or less, depending on which micro you want to use) you can get a Silicon Labs kit [silabs.com]. And that kit comes with a JTAG dongle for program download and in-circuit debug.

              One might argue whether the ATMega is better or worse than the SiLabs 8051 variants.

              But please tell me why the Arduino developer did NOT bring the debugWire out to a header. The chip has fine in-circuit debug capability but if you can't attach your debug adapter to it, it's of no use. Well, I suppose a Maker could hack the board

              • by ptorrone (638660) *

                silab is great, they make excellent stuff - but they're not through-hole and what i think folks would consider "diy" - they're more of a pro market.

                that said, i could see people moving from arduino to silabs as they outgrown arduinos.

                bassman, if you want - send me an email and write up something on them, we'll post it up on MAKE!
                 

      • by SuperBanana (662181) on Friday October 24, 2008 @12:14PM (#25499081)

        and it's a true free/open source design, so they don't have a monopoly on it and you can buy compatible boards from other sources or DIY!

        Actually, it's not an open-source design; Arduino is an actively protected trademark and they do control who manufactures it, because they won't release the files necessary to manufacture the circuit board. Without them, you cannot (easily) make a compatible board; you have to reverse-engineer it. Which is precisely what some people, fed up with not being able to make their own Arduino boards, went and did.

        Freeduino [freeduino.org], *is* actually free and open-source (and compatible) and they have specifically said that people are welcome to use the Freeduino name.

        All Arduino proves is that people will slap "free" and "open source" on just about anything, and there's no shortage of people who will parrot it.

        Also, I'm getting really fucking tired of LadyAda's antisocial, illegal devices. Her "TV-b-gone" redefines arrogance, and the jammers are *completely* illegal (funny how you all will get ripshit about data-over-powerlines interfering with your precious HAM hobby, but this device is completely ok?) Wouldn't be the first time she's gotten in trouble with 'the law'- when she was at MIT, she put a device in a parking garage which MIT campus police (used to dealing with all sorts of weird projects and devices) treated as a bomb, and she was punished by the dean for it.

        • by ptorrone (638660) * <ptNO@SPAMadafruit.com> on Friday October 24, 2008 @03:24PM (#25501817)

          hey superbanana - i'm phil from MAKE i submitted the story and what you're saying is not accurate. i'll do my best to address your comments.

          1. Arduinio is open source, anyone can make them and they released all the files. just check the site you'll see all the downloads, if you can't find them email me.

          2. the *name* is trademarked, this is likely the confusion. you can make Arduino clones all you want in china, you just can't call them Arduino. just like you can make other versions of Firefox but you can't call yours Firefox.

          3. as far as ladyada goes, the art project you're referring to at MIT never got her punished or "in trouble with the law".

          4. lastly, the tv-b-gone is also used to turn TVs on, that's how it works.

          • Arduinio is open source, anyone can make them and they released all the files. just check the site you'll see all the downloads, if you can't find them email me

            Really? Better tell the Freeduino people, because apparently they've been wasting all their time.

            I almost forgot: MAKE is for retarded emo-glasses wearing hipster shitheads who think they're 'hackers' for picking up a soldering iron.

            • by ptorrone (638660) *

              SuperBanana - if you're still implying that the arduino files are not available here is the link.

              http://arduino.cc/en/Main/ArduinoBoardDuemilanove [arduino.cc]

              they posted the files the same time they released the latest arduino.

              the freeduino project is very cool, they've made their own and a lot of folks use them, i'm not sure why you're suggesting they're wasting their time. they've added new things, changes, etc - they just didn't license the arduino name.

        • Actually, the EAGLE files to almost all the Arduino products are online (including those of the Duemilanove, which was only released last week). Yes, the name is trademarked, but so are the names of most open source projects (e.g. Linux, Firefox, Ubuntu, etc.). It is, in fact, an open-source project.

        • ONO. :( You're getting really fucking tired of LadyAda's antisocial, illegal devices?

          TV-b-gone isn't originally hers. Check your facts. As for the jammer, she doesn't sell it. She gives a few pictures, and the device is written about in her thesis. You want to buy one? You can't. You want to build one? The effort is greater than most are willing to exert. Go find something better to bitch about.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by korbin_dallas (783372)

      Also:

      FreePCB, http://www.freepcb.com/ [freepcb.com]
      Why use Eagle, its not free?

      Sparkfun has Eagle footprints for their parts incl Arduino, BUT those footprints are copyrighted by Sparkfun AND they clearly spell out that they are not for use with any commercial products. WTF?

      So I used FreePCB. It worked just fine, made very nice Gerber files which I sent here, http://www.eiconnect.com/ [eiconnect.com] in Illinois. Fine PCBs made by Americans.

    • Another Link (Score:4, Informative)

      by DaveAtFraud (460127) on Friday October 24, 2008 @10:19AM (#25497393) Homepage Journal
      If you want to actually do some good and contribute something constructive, I'd suggest The Open Prosthesis Project [openprosthetics.org]. There's an excellent write up on the project in both the treeware and on-line editions [sciam.com] of Scientific American.

      Cheers,
      Dave
    • don't forget about blade servers [ibm.com]. (signup required)
  • Mico32 (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    An interesting Open Source hardware project is the Mico32 CPU than can be freely implemented in FPGAs or ASICs:

    http://www.latticesemi.com/products/intellectualproperty/ipcores/mico32/index.cfm [latticesemi.com]

    It is commerically supported, uses GCC for the compiler and can run Linux.

    • An interesting Open Source hardware project is the Mico32 CPU than can be freely implemented in FPGAs or ASICs:

      So can the T1 and T2, and the OpenRISC architecture. It's surprising how many good, open source, CPU designs there are. The cost of fabricating them is still very high, but if you're making a consumer electronics device then it may be cheaper to tweak one of these and get a few hundred thousand ASICs fabbed than pay to license a design from someone else.

      • by Muad'Dave (255648)

        Perhaps you can help me, if you would. I've been looking for either a real thoroughbred FPGA-based CPU implementation or a very fast, low power SOC for a pet combinatorial project of mine. It needs to be wicked fast for integer ops; no need for floating point. It only needs a few K of RAM, and very little I/O to the real world. Do you have any pointers to examples of FPGA CPU's or SOC's that fit the bill?

        Thanks!

        • by Malekin (1079147)

          Obviously it's difficult to tell with such a sparse description of your project but it sounds to me like you might be better off implementing it directly in a HDL.

          Otherwise, if it's a pet project you might not care too much about the very best performance. In that case the SOC utility that the big two vendors provide with their FPGA kit (NIOS II with Altera, PowerPC with Xlinx) would probably be the best route to your solution as you'll spend less time mucking around with compilers and just getting the dam

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Thijs van As (826224)
      For my MSc graduation project I designed and implemented an open source reconfigurable VLIW processor: r-VEX ( http://r-vex.googlecode.com/ [googlecode.com]). It is based around the scalable and extensible VEX Instruction Set Architecture by HP, for which a free C compiler and simulator are available.

      My implementation is merely targeted for VLIW processor research; it is a highly customizable design where the instruction issue-width, the number of registers and the number of functional units can be easily changed. Even c
  • by BhaKi (1316335) on Friday October 24, 2008 @08:55AM (#25496461)
    It seems really crazy that more people are fighting for "hardware whose internal design is known" than for "hardware whose programming documentation is known".
  • Is "open source hardware" an appropriate name? It does communicate the concept effectively, but it's not really the "source" of the hardware that's open, is it? "Open design harware", perhaps.
    • by iamdrscience (541136) <michaelmtripp AT gmail DOT com> on Friday October 24, 2008 @09:16AM (#25496713) Homepage
      Depends on the project. In the case of projects like OpenCores [opencores.org] the term "open source hardware" is very apt because the project consists of Verilog and VHDL files which are essentially programming languages (similar in many ways to C and Pascal) which are compiled as hardware designs for chips instead of programs. For other projects, it's a little more abstract, but still fitting, I think. I mean, open source software is software that provides with all the files you need to build a program yourself and allows you to modify them to suit your needs. An open source hardware project would generally provide the same thing, but instead of source code, it's schematics and board layouts.
      • BUT theres no usable free synthesis tools???
        You either have to Buy Altera or Xilinx tools.
        Hell, even the Commercial tools suk ass. And cost $.

        Ditto PICs, altho there is a open pic compiler that is getting close, still better to buy one tho.

        Arduino uses Atmel because Atmel 'gets it'. Their dev tools are free to use.

        This is why I like Arm7/Arm9.
        The c tools are gnu. And the asic designs are open, so theres no vendor lockin for parts.

        • At least the Xilinx synthesis tools are free to download and use, although they're not F/OSS. I don't know about Altera.

          Xilinx Webpack ISE [xilinx.com], available for Windows and Linux. Free registration required.

          There's a libusb wrapper [rmdir.de] available which allows JTAG programming through the standard Linux USB and parallel port interfaces without their proprietary kernel module (which, last I checked, doesn't compile against recent kernels).

        • by ceoyoyo (59147)

          There's a complete gcc toolchain for Atmel as well, in addition to the IDE Atmel gives away for free.

    • Digital hardware, like processors and such, are usually designed in a hardware definition language, like VHDL or Verilog, so it's not very different from computer software. Instead of compiling to machine code or byte code, it's compiled (synthesized) into something that can be loaded in an FPGA, or processed further for ASIC production.

    • Not really. Design implies a high-level overview without the full details. Open design software would give you UML diagrams or some equivalent. When people talk about open source hardware, they mean you have enough information that, given the equivalent of a compiler, you can produce an exact copy. For ICs, this typically means the HDL source is available. For circuit boards, it means the schematics are available. You can take these, modify them, and produce modified versions. In the case of circuit
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bitrex (859228)
      "Open design hardware" sounds pretty much right. Is it possible to get the Verilog code that describes the operation of say the FTDI USB/Serial chip? Nope. Will a semiconductor manufacturer tell you what really goes on inside the STA013 Mp3 decoder chip that a lot of "open source" Mp3 player projects use? No way! But so long as you're OK with looking at many integrated circuits as abstract building blocks, then essentially any product you can find schematics for or take the time to trace out a circuit of i
  • Good timing (Score:2, Funny)

    by grub (11606)

    I recently received my Arduino kit with Ethernet shield. Haven't touched the soldering iron yet, that's probably this weekend's fun[0]. It's a really cool project and cheaper than the Basic Stamp to get going.

    [0] "Your family is out of town, you're in bachelor more and this is what you do for fun?!"
    Yeah yeah :)
  • by FridgeFreezer (1352537) on Friday October 24, 2008 @09:10AM (#25496651)

    For the past 5 years I've been running my cars on open-source engine management hardware, firmware and software.

    www.megasquirt.info

    Given the potential benefits, financial, technological, and environmental, I'm surprised more people aren't interested in it. The project is actually pushing as close to the edge as some of the high end EMS from big car manufacturers.

    • by electrosoccertux (874415) on Friday October 24, 2008 @09:47AM (#25497045)

      For the past 5 years I've been running my cars on open-source engine management hardware, firmware and software.

      www.megasquirt.info

      Given the potential benefits, financial, technological, and environmental, I'm surprised more people aren't interested in it. The project is actually pushing as close to the edge as some of the high end EMS from big car manufacturers.

      While I appreciate the offer, I think I will wait until I am not on a work computer to I visit that link of yours. No err, hard feelings.

    • This site is legit, forwarded me to a forum page..But I do have to tell you, that is a horrible domain name for a non-pornography company :)
    • by PPH (736903)

      Interesting. I didn't dig through the various forums, but several questions come to mind:

      1. Does this project support parameter maps needed for operation on E85?
      2. Are there options for adding status displays for various parameters? Specifically, I'd like a 'knock sensor' light on the dash. With current OEM systems, it is no longer possible (for the average driver) to detect engine knock due to low octane gas, as ignition timing is automatically retarded at its onset. As a result, drivers have no easy way of
      • The thing is fully documented y'know :p as far as I'm aware you can run any fuel your engine is capable of burning.

        You can display with a PC, PDA, Palm, Mobile phone, standalone touchscreen LCD, VFD or whatever else you can engineer. I'd suggest reading the manual if you want to know the full crack.

  • Minimig [wikipedia.org] is based on Open Source model and has as its goals to implement Amiga hardware freely. It also brought some interesting projects along with it, although not free but cool nonetheless such as MiniMig Case [youtube.com]
  • by six025 (714064)

    This is a particularly useful project for electronic musicians and synth geeks. The famous Roland TB-303 - whatever you might think of the sound - is to dance music as guitars are to rock music. The real deal is prohibitively expensive for most people these days if you can find one for sale.

    The designer (?) of this exact replica has made the real analogue sound available to anyone that with half a brain and a light wallet. You can build it your self which might then inspire someone to build other instru

  • Open Computer? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by starseeker (141897) on Friday October 24, 2008 @10:08AM (#25497281) Homepage

    Has anyone ever considered putting the available pieces out there together and seeing what we still need to achieve a fully open computer? It's expected it will be slow by modern standards but a completely open PC would be nice.

  • When talking about hardware, you have to mention the paparazzi [paparazzi.enac.fr] open hardware project for UAVs. I'm part of the community and it's a great piece of hardware/open source software for autonomous vehicles.
  • by PPH (736903) on Friday October 24, 2008 @10:59AM (#25497883)
    ... for A.Q. Khan to post his blueprints online.
  • The Wave Bubble sounds really cool .... peace and quiet. I am surprised no mention was made anywhere of Soekris. Soekris (http://www.soekris.com) makes open source small, low power computers that people have built advanced routers and gateways. In fact they state that their hardware is 100% driver supported by OpenBSD, FreeBSD, NetBSD, and Linux. I have a Soekris net4801 which replaced my consumer linksys router after hours of aggravation. My net4801 runs a stripped down version of OpenBSD and acts as
  • I can't wait until I can pick up my cheap open source Chinese made knock offs at Walmart. Maybe a website with links to open source hardware and where you can buy it will do cheaply what RadioShack used to promise. ;)

    I'm not ready to risk my life in an open source car yet. I would buy an open source dishwasher, washing machine or dryer. I'm kinda mixed on the the dry, microwave, and oven though. If it won't burn down the house or endanger my life and is cheap/open source, I'd give it a shot...

    What we are r

  • OBDuino (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Frederic54 (3788) on Friday October 24, 2008 @01:29PM (#25500253) Journal
    I am working on the OBDuino, it's an OBD reader based on an Arduino board. Add an LCD, 3 buttons, an OBD interface (current one based on the ELM327), and you can display instant fuel consumption, average on trip or tank, speed, RPM, various temperature, read MIL code, clear them etc.

    Programming the Arduino is very easy as you do it in C and upload through a serial port or USB. You can also develop/compile in Minsys and upload with a parallel programmer, etc.

    See the wiki on the OBDuino
    http://code.google.com/p/opengauge/wiki/OBDuino [google.com]
  • The time has come to create an open source automobile. This work could be from the ground up to design each component in a GPL'd CAD platform. University students could them 'hone' each part much as software gets debugged. Verson 1.0 would be a completely GPL'd car. Version 2.0 would refine the materials used so as to make it green. Version 3.0 would be when the manufacturing process was included in the design and refined to minimize resource and power usage.
  • Is there a "SourceForge" for the "configurations" of FPGAs, that are free and open for download and installation on these reconfigurable hardware platforms?

    Not just the promotional "cores" offered by FPGA vendors bundled with their parts, but a whole load of third-party developed circuits that do things, and can be hooked together to make combination applications? Specifically I'm interested in Xilinx configs, especially ones that can offload iterated tasks from a Linux kernel running on their parts that co

  • by Eil (82413)

    The x0xb0x [ladyada.net] is pretty much one of the most impressive things I've seen come out of the hacker/electronics/homebrew scene.

    The story is pretty much this: In the early 80's, Roland comes out with the TB-303 [wikipedia.org], an analog bass synthesizer designed to accompany musicians during practice sessions. The 303 bombed in the target market, though, because it sounded nothing at all like a bass guitar and was difficult to use. Years after the synth was out of production, DJs (ones that make music, not merely play it back) di

    • by Eil (82413)

      you'd like have to pay

      **(wince)** Should have used the preview button. :(

  • by gringer (252588) on Friday October 24, 2008 @09:08PM (#25505745)

    The RepRap is able to use an Arduino board, but the RepRap Research Foundation [rrrf.org] have recently developed a modified variant called the Sanguino [sanguino.cc]. That Sanguino link shows some differences between the two board designs.

  • Open Hardware can make a difference in the developing world. http://manypossibilities.net/2008/08/open-hardware-for-development/ [manypossibilities.net] Stand by for the Mesh Potato http://www.rowetel.com/blog/?p=70 [rowetel.com]

It is impossible to travel faster than light, and certainly not desirable, as one's hat keeps blowing off. -- Woody Allen

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