Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Definitive Guide to Open Source Hardware - 2008

Again this year MAKE Magazine blog has publishes the annual Open Source Hardware Guide listing no less than 60 open source hardware projects, ranging from simple microcontroller boards to a fully functional cell phone. Open source hardware are projects where the designers have decided to publish all the source, schematics, firmware, software, bill of materials, parts list, drawings and "board" files necessary to recreate the hardware. The open source licensing allows any use, including commercial.

In many cases you really wouldn't care about the schematics for your cell phone; however, when designing and building complex systems it is a priceless advantage to have the design and the schematics of the individual components at your disposal. You can avoid many surprises during integration since you have a chance to find out exactly what you are buying instead of just getting a black box which may or may not live up to your expectations (lets face it, there always a huge gap between what a sales department advertises and what the technical department delivers). Moreover, you have the freedom to use the hardware you bought the way you want to and not the way the manufacturer wants you to. And you don't risk being sued just because you opened up the box to look at what's under the hood.

Hopefully, it will not take many years before we will see complete space systems on the list :-)

Daisy MP3 player
Daisy MP3 player - An open source MP3 player

Neo FreeRunner
The Neo FreeRunner open source cell phone.

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