Open Source Hardware wooden Laptop

scaled_full_7afa4ff13e51bd9a4da0

via Twitter

While waiting Novena to be released some people made their own OSHW Laptops based on A20-OLinuXino-MICRO + LCD-OLinuXino-15.6FHD 1980x1080p Full HD LCD display.

First Open Source Projects from Bulgarian government

oss-banner

The Bulgarian Government open source the code of some projects paid by the state for very first time.
The open source code is on https://github.com/governmentbg/
This happens with the support of общество.бг (society.bg).
Why open source is so important for the government projects? Because people will have access to the final code government spends tax money for and all technical knowledge people could have look what exactly is done. Many people could see the source and give feedback improving the security and functionality of the code.

ESP8266-EVB Lua MQTT example

mqttorg-glow

MQTT is a machine-to-machine (M2M)/”Internet of Things” connectivity protocol. It works like Twitter – you have many sensors which post so main server their info which is streamed and other clients/users can subscribe for sensors of interest out of the whole stream. The advantage is very lightweight protocol and low bandwidth usage.

Another advantage is that the sensors do not need specific IP address to operate, they establish the connection to MQTT server and thus you do not need to specially configure your home network to map ports using NAT etc. You just need internet connection, then the sensors connect to the server and send their info.

Peter Lalov sent us today link to his MQTT implementation for ESP8266-EVB with Lua, the project is open source released under BSD-3 licensee on Github.

Makerbot Lays off 20% Of Their Workforce

replicator2-1024x570

Makerbot company is founded in 2009 by Bre Pettis, Adam Mayer and Zach Smith to engineer and produce 3D printers.
Their printers builds on the early progress of the RepRap Project and they owns Thingiverse (http://www.thingiverse.com/) one of most popular site for sharing 3D printed designs.
Zach Smith was one of the founding members of the RepRap Research Foundation, a non-profit group created to help advance early research in the area of open-source 3D printers.
So Makerbot started as Open Source Hardware company (like many of the other 3D printer producers).

Being one of the most popular 3D printer producing company in 2013 they were bought by Stratasys Incorporated and they turned on 180 degrees, by closing their Makerbot Replicator 2. This pissed off a lot of the open source community, as Makerbot took all improvements community was sharing on thingiverse, compiled it into their one package and closed it. You can read this blog post for more info on this subject: http://josefprusa.cz/open-hardware-meaning/

First Makerbot was selling their printers as kits, thus their major customer base was makers/thinkerers with skills to build the printer, later they started to offer the printer assembled (and lot more expensive) to expand their customer base with people who have no skills to build. This way they got totally disconnected to the community which actually built the company – the small amateurs with no so deep pockets. Who will pay $2000 for assembled printer when you can buy kits for $500 and build one?

By going closed source and forgetting their roots this situation was predictable. So it was no surprise when they recently announced that they will layoff 20% of their employees.

TuxCon FOSS conference second edition will be July 11-12 in Plovdiv

tuxcon

TuxCon second event will be July 11 and 12th! It’s free event dedicated to free and open source software for mobile, embedded and wearable devices.

TuxCon will begin on July 10th with Beer Evening Event. On July 11th is the conference part which will begin at 11.00 in Internationa Fair Hall Kirov like last year.

On July 12th there will be workshops in Olimex’s training building. ESP8266 workshop, Arduino workshop, Retro computing party and SMT soldering workshops will run at same time. The workshops will begin 11.00 and will continue… until we feel so thirsty to move somewhere to drink beer again 🙂

If you want to participate in the Conference part with lecture or lighting talk please submit your request to info@tuxcon.mobi

RMS says: We need Free Digital Designs!

oli

Back in 1999 Richard Stallman had interview commenting on “Free Hardware” for Linux Today, where he says “freedom to copy software is social imperative, but freedom to copy hardware is not so important as hardware is hard to copy”

SO even man with such visionary as RMS didn’t understand quite well why people would have motive to make Free Hardware Designs (also known as Open Source Hardware Designs).

Somewhere else he also have said something like: “We do not need imperatively free hardware, but well documented hardware” to may write proper software for it. Looking from Software point of view he is probably right, but he was missing something important: Free/Open Source Hardware is not done just to allow other to replicate it. It serves much deeper goals.

  • Spreading knowledge – when people have access to the design files they can learn how the original author created this hardware and study the design from inside.
  • Getting vital feed back and improving the design – the author who opens everything can get free expertise from many other people who works on same problem and thus to combine the knowledge of the community about this. In long run product which is collaboratively developed is with better specs and features than the one who is done in closed company.
  • When your hardware is with open specs this gives your customer additional value – they know everything about your hardware, they are not dependent from single source of manufacturing, they can modify and customize for their need. All else being equal OSHW design will be preffered and gives more value to the customer.
  • By opening the designs you give access to the technology to casual people who can innovate and no need to be big companies with lot of money. Just have look at what 3D printing and Arduino did.

This is why it was nice to see the evolution with RMS view on the Open Source / Free Hardware which he published in Wired yesterday named: Why we need free hardware designs?

In this article RMS says:

We need free digital hardware designs!
Free hardware designs offer practical advantages. Multiple companies can fabricate one, which reduces dependence on a single vendor.
Having circuit diagrams or HDL code makes it possible to study the design to look for errors or malicious functionalities (it is known that the NSA has procured malicious weaknesses in some computing hardware).

If you design hardware, please make your designs free.

 

Although naming “Free Hardware Design” what we know more popular as Open Source Hardware, RMS correctly spots the advantages vs closed non-free Hardware Designs.

 

Elevate Festival and Open and Fair IT production, are we ready for it?

elevate

Elevate is free event made by non-for profit organization for Political discourse, Music, Art and technology.

The motto for Elevate is “Elevate – Open Everything”. Open Source fits well Elevate focus, as there were lectures for more Openness in everything around us.

I was invited to participate in Elevate 2014 which was in October 2014 with lecture about Open Source Hardware.

More about Elevate festival you an read on Elevate site: https://elevate.at/en/home/

You can feel the atmosphere browsing the albums with pictures from the two days Saturday and Sunday.

Video from the event is online.

It worths to watch it, as you can see how NSA spying on us is revealed:

nasa spy

Or learn about attempt to manufacture computer mouse with ‘fair’ technology.

mouse

By fair technology is understood technology which do not uses child labour, bad working environment and pay fair price for the labour.

Above is picture which NagerIT made in attempt to check if they can manufacture total Fair mouse. The green blocks are companies which use Fair technology, the other colors are companies/suppliers under investigation with unknown info.

This process is quite complex, for instance: if you use CABLE in your product to check the company which make cable and it’s supplier, in this case these are companies which make the plastic cable sleeve and the copper wire, then these new companies have to be check – the company which makes the plastic sleeve have suppliers for raw materials which came from oil industry and the company which makes the copper wire have supplier who make the copper and the supplier who make the copper wire laquer, then the company which rafine the copper ore, then the company which dig the ore. You can see what chain this is just for one component.

Nevertless this is good initiative and we wish NagerIT good luck. It’s step in the right direction.

During the Elevate festival I got invitation to visit Graz Hackerspace named Realraum and speak about what we do in Olimex.

realraum

Realraum is small and very well organized Hackerspace, where people run many interesting projects. You can read more in their wiki http://realraum.at/wiki/doku.php and G+ blog posts https://plus.google.com/+RealraumAt/posts.

We met in Graz lot of friends of Open Source Hardware.

Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries