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Open Source Hardware, For Fun and For Profit

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the make-it-so dept.

Hardware Hacking 122

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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First Fail (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25496285)

Not too good at this am i?

Yes 'fun'... (4, Insightful)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 5 years ago | (#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:Yes 'fun'... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25496377)

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:Yes 'fun'... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25496451)

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 soul. If you think it's not worth carrying a cellphone yourself or encouraging your loved ones to carry one while travelling, that's your choice - feel free to make it. But it will be to no-one's benefit, except that you'll feel a little superior.

(Sorta like choosing to switch to Mac. (Kidding, I use a Mac.))

Anyway, Adafruit projects are cute and all - the power supply is a particularly useful reminder of how to Do It Proper - but there's much less than you'll see at a good undergrad EE course. No offence intended beyond the indication that, if this is state of the art, open source hardware entrepreneurship has a long way to go.

Re:Yes 'fun'... (1)

Andor666 (659649) | more than 5 years ago | (#25497433)

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?

Re:Yes 'fun'... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25501043)

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 soul.

Uh, what's being discussed is the impact of a jammer, a very localized effect. You're comparing it with loss of other advances entirely, a very different situation... Straw Man Argument

Technology needs restraints (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 5 years ago | (#25501719)

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 to use a cell phone anywhere because in some extremely rare cases a missed emergency call could endanger someone is a straw man, a ridiculous argument. That would be like saying firefighters and doctors should have the right to park their cars inside the theater lobby, because the time wasted by running to the parking could have fatal consequences.

If you are in a situation where it is imperative that you don't miss any calls, then don't go to a theater. Watch a DVD at home, instead. Don't like that limitation? Get another job!

And, if you manage an installation, like a hospital or fire station, where it is a matter of life and death to have people responding quickly, don't give your staff cell phones, HIRE ENOUGH PEOPLE instead!

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

zacronos (937891) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Yes 'fun'... (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#25496957)

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's pretty much how I feel about my OTA television.
White-space devices shouldn't be allowed on channels 2-51.

Re:Yes 'fun'... (2)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 5 years ago | (#25497405)

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

Layne

Re:Yes 'fun'... (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#25500457)

>>>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 whitespace device broadcasts on channel 18, its transmission will still "spillover" onto the top half of channel 17, and that too will disrupt DTV.

And then there's cable. Cable companies have determined that WSDs transmissions can be picked-up by open jacks in walls, thereby disrupting cable reception too!

WSDs need to stay off channels 2-51.

Re:Yes 'fun'... (1)

halcyon1234 (834388) | more than 5 years ago | (#25497549)

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. Within a few generations, there won't be anyone left alive who "expects" technology.

The reliance on technology is interesting, but not irreversible.

Re:Yes 'fun'... (2, Insightful)

Restil (31903) | more than 5 years ago | (#25499005)

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 electronic gadget that nobody can live without which will annoy us far worse than cellphones or ipods ever did.

Re:Yes 'fun'... (1)

halcyon1234 (834388) | more than 5 years ago | (#25500027)

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 wouldn't pass their knowledge (or lack of it) onto the next gen)

Re:Yes 'fun'... (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#25500517)

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).

Treat Cell Phones Like Cigarettes (1)

QuincyDurant (943157) | more than 5 years ago | (#25497879)

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.

Re:Yes 'fun'... (1)

DittoBox (978894) | more than 5 years ago | (#25498153)

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

Re:Yes 'fun'... (1)

zacronos (937891) | more than 5 years ago | (#25498553)

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, but there were more that were helpful than harmful. Some were even quite sophisticated. There's a strong cultural selective pressure against severely harmful remedies -- if most of the time, the folk remedy consisted of "bleeding someone to death", people would have noticed. They were ignorant, not stupid.

Re:Yes 'fun'... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25496567)

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.

Re:Yes 'fun'... (1)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 5 years ago | (#25496391)

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.

Re:Yes 'fun'... (1)

Evanisincontrol (830057) | more than 5 years ago | (#25496735)

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?

Re:Yes 'fun'... (1)

smithmc (451373) | more than 5 years ago | (#25501493)

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:Yes 'fun'... (2, Funny)

Tuoqui (1091447) | more than 5 years ago | (#25496431)

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.

Re:Yes 'fun'... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25496589)

Most likely would make it worse as they are eyeing and/or button pressing on their phone to figure out why it stopped working...

Re:Yes 'fun'... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25496619)

I don't think that is going to work the way you are describing. If everyone around you suddenly loses their connection they are immediately going to start re-dialing whatever number they were talking to, which is a far more dangerous activity than talking on the phone.

Counterproductive. (2, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#25497277)

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:Yes 'fun'... (2, Insightful)

ArhcAngel (247594) | more than 5 years ago | (#25497323)

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 while beating their head against the steering wheel. (It's not so bad since I got that leather wrapped steering wheel)
4) 10% miscellaneous teeth grinding, nail biting, anxiety driven rage, etc., etc.
5) 5% will actually put their phones down and begin to drive.

Re:Yes 'fun'... (4, Interesting)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 5 years ago | (#25496583)

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.

Re:Yes 'fun'... (1)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 5 years ago | (#25496787)

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.

Re:Yes 'fun'... (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 5 years ago | (#25497701)

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.

Re:Yes 'fun'... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25501347)

enough to ensure everyone in a train carriage ... they could be someone who's on call (doctor, firefighter, coastguard etc.)

If a doctor, firefighter, or coastguard is inside a train carriage, they have a much more *moving* reason to not attend to that particular emergency than a blocked phone call.

Geeez, it's people like *YOU* that makes me want to get a cell phone jammer. Why do you need to invent such stupid excuses to be obnoxious? Just admit that you are a stupid asshole and get over it.

Re:Yes 'fun'... (1)

TobyWong (168498) | more than 5 years ago | (#25502201)

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.

Jammers are good (2)

germ65 (1375819) | more than 5 years ago | (#25497635)

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.

Re:Jammers are good (1)

hplus (1310833) | more than 5 years ago | (#25498695)

So we can just reserve the right to break the law on our own property now? Cool!

Re:Yes 'fun'... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25498517)

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.

lets not get our panties in an uproar (2, Interesting)

hierophanta (1345511) | more than 5 years ago | (#25498725)

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]

Re:Yes 'fun'... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25501907)

LadyAda shamelessly stole the earlier project Bubl Space by some Dutch artists. Engadget covered it here: http://www.engadget.com/2004/08/26/bubl-space/

Re:Yes 'fun'... (1)

ladyada (850297) | more than 5 years ago | (#25502317)

Hi Anon. I designed the wave bubble project in mid 2004 as part of my research work. While the Bubl Space project is named somewhat similarly, the wave bubble is not based on it or stolen from it or derived from it. The BublSpace project is, in fact, conceptual and never functionally existed: http://www.textually.org/textually/archives/2004/08/005007.htm [textually.org] Whereas the wave bubble is a fully functional design, completely documented, and open source.

Sweet! (5, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#25496313)

Open Source Kelly LeBrock Bot, here I come!

Links (4, Informative)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 5 years ago | (#25496413)

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]

Don't forget Arduino! (4, Informative)

YA_Python_dev (885173) | more than 5 years ago | (#25496653)

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:Don't forget Arduino! (2, Insightful)

JustKidding (591117) | more than 5 years ago | (#25497099)

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!

Re:Don't forget Arduino! (2, Insightful)

Bassman59 (519820) | more than 5 years ago | (#25499213)

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.

Arduino EAGLE/Gerber files and name are NOT free (3, Informative)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Arduino EAGLE/Gerber files and name are NOT fre (4, Informative)

ptorrone (638660) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Links (2, Informative)

korbin_dallas (783372) | more than 5 years ago | (#25496875)

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 (3, Informative)

DaveAtFraud (460127) | more than 5 years ago | (#25497393)

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

Re:Links (1)

mistahkurtz (1047838) | more than 5 years ago | (#25498065)

don't forget about blade servers [ibm.com] . (signup required)

Re:Links (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25499367)

The BeagleBoard is an interesting project, and OpenPandora is (I think) based on it.

http://beagleboard.org/ [beagleboard.org]

Mico32 (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25496427)

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.

Re:Mico32 (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#25496703)

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.

Re:Mico32 (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 5 years ago | (#25499327)

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!

Re:Mico32 (2, Informative)

Thijs van As (826224) | more than 5 years ago | (#25497279)

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 custom instructions are supported (as well in the compiler toolchain).

Freely programmable hardware is more important (2, Interesting)

BhaKi (1316335) | more than 5 years ago | (#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".

Handy for terrorism, kidnapping, piracy, etc. (-1, Troll)

EWAdams (953502) | more than 5 years ago | (#25496505)

The next time I grab a 15-year-old girl to rape and kill her, I'm going to be sure I've got one of these things along just so she can't use her cell phone in last few seconds before I have total control of her.

Could also be great fun at the scene of fires or disasters, jamming firefighters' or ambulances' radios.

For that matter, take one down to the airport and watch the fun begin with air traffic control.

Just because you CAN build something doesn't necessarily make it a good idea. I'm all for freedom of speech, but could we exercise a little self-control over what we say and publish?

Re:Handy for terrorism, kidnapping, piracy, etc. (2, Insightful)

sukotto (122876) | more than 5 years ago | (#25496693)

The next time I grab a 15-year-old girl to rape and kill her ...

I'm all for freedom of speech, but could we exercise a little self-control over what we say and publish?

Oh the irony....

Re:Handy for terrorism, kidnapping, piracy, etc. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25497283)

There is nothing ironic about being for freedom of speech and for self-control.

It would be ironic if (s)he was for freedom of speech and control by censors at the same time.

Re:Handy for terrorism, kidnapping, piracy, etc. (3, Insightful)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 5 years ago | (#25496995)

I agree. Please run for president and I shall vote for you so you can establish a Ministry of Acceptability that ensures that people only do and say things that are in line with your definition of peace and safety.

Maybe you'd better read it again. (1)

EWAdams (953502) | more than 5 years ago | (#25497481)

I oppose governmental controls on speech and prefer self-control. Ministries of Acceptability are not acceptable. Saying, "Hey, everybody! Here's how you can totally screw up the emergency services!" is just, well, sort of a bad idea, don't you think?

The only defense against anarchy in a free society is self-control.

Re:Handy for terrorism, kidnapping, piracy, etc. (2, Funny)

Ann Coulter (614889) | more than 5 years ago | (#25497041)

If it becomes a crime to have radio frequency jamming equipment then only criminals will have radio frequency jamming equipment.

Re:Handy for terrorism, kidnapping, piracy, etc. (2, Informative)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#25497189)

>>>The next time I grab a 15-year-old girl to rape and kill her....... I'm all for freedom of speech, but could we exercise a little self-control over what we say and publish?
>>>

Well if that girl were carrying a gun, it wouldn't matter if you jammed her cellphone. She'd be teaching you a lesson about the God-given right to self-defense of her body, as she blasts a hole through your chest.

Rapists don't deserve to live, and it is because of the existence of rapists/thieves/et cetera that human beings need to be able to defend themselves. I once defended my girlfriend against a similar creep in Philadelphia. She'd probably be dead today if I had not aimed my gun at his head. I never seen anybody run so fast.

Cellphones are a joke. By the time the police show-up, you're already raped. Better to be packing heat.

Don't be silly! (1)

EWAdams (953502) | more than 5 years ago | (#25497725)

I'm going to use my gun to force her to give up HER gun before she has the chance to find it in her handbag (how many women are prepared to wear shoulder holsters with their cocktail dresses?). Oh, and rapists don't generally attack women who are accompanied by men -- and when they do, it's because the rapist pulled his gun first.

The problem with relying on "packing heat" to keep the streets safe is that criminals can always pack more heat than civilians can, and will use it without hesitation or regard for innocent bystanders. Yet gun enthusiasts persist in obstructing every effort to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.

Re:Don't be silly! (1)

TypoNAM (695420) | more than 5 years ago | (#25498061)

Maybe because of the fact that gun control has never kept guns away from criminals at all period. It has only restricted and prevented the public from defending themselves at all by disarming them and making it illegal for them to even have the possibility of being able to arm and defend themselves. In every single case of gun control or out right ban on guns the criminals still managed to have guns no matter what. Well gee I wonder why maybe because it has something to do with the fact that they are criminals and will do anything to get a hold of a weapon if they so do desire one.

Your logic of control is flawed, but nothing more than an illusion. There will always be crazies out there who just don't give a shit and take any innocent bystander with them. So the only reasonable and responsible thing to do is simply be prepared and learn how to defend yourself with or without a weapon. That is just life out here in the real world and not your idealistic stupidly of "oh we'll just take all weapons away and everything will be a OK...". It never works out that way throughout history it has shown time and time again.

Funny, it worked for the Soviets. (0, Flamebait)

EWAdams (953502) | more than 5 years ago | (#25499643)

They took everybody's weapons away, provided full employment (even if most of the jobs were pointless makework), and had a near-zero crime rate. Then the Soviet Union fell apart, guns came back in, and now Russia is run by gangsters.

Don't tell me gun control doesn't work. You just have to take ALL the guns away. I have no problem with that.

Re:Funny, it worked for the Soviets. (2, Informative)

Mr. Firewall (578517) | more than 5 years ago | (#25500173)

Funny, it worked for the Soviets

... and something like fifty million people died.

Funny, it worked for the Nazis too. And the Cambodians. And a number of other dictatorships.

Over one hundred million people died in the 20th Century alone because of gun control.

Sorry, but it's NOT funny.

Gun control killed them? I thought it was guns. (1)

EWAdams (953502) | more than 5 years ago | (#25500307)

If you think a hundred million people were killed by gun control, you are seriously confused -- they were shot by people with guns. (And please, please don't repeat the tired old lie that if they'd had guns they could have prevented dictatorship. Not even the NRA believes that hogwash any more. Hitler was democratically voted into power.)

Re:Handy for terrorism, kidnapping, piracy, etc. (1)

Bassman59 (519820) | more than 5 years ago | (#25499263)

I once defended my girlfriend against a similar creep in Philadelphia. She'd probably be dead today if I had not aimed my gun at his head. I never seen anybody run so fast.

So why didn't you just kill him, so he wouldn't have the opportunity to rape again?

Re:Handy for terrorism, kidnapping, piracy, etc. (1)

Meumeu (848638) | more than 5 years ago | (#25497191)

Right, because everything that could be used for terrorism should be banned...

Re:Handy for terrorism, kidnapping, piracy, etc. (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#25497217)

P.S.

Watch this tale about a poor woman who foolishly left her gun in her car: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhyuJzjOcQE [youtube.com]

Re:Handy for terrorism, kidnapping, piracy, etc. (1)

Timberwolf0122 (872207) | more than 5 years ago | (#25497645)

I'll make a note to ban baseball bats as they can be used in assaults, oh and pepper spray in case a mugger uses it on someone, oh and let us no forget cars that might be used to evade the law.

Open "source" hardware (1)

PearsSoap (1384741) | more than 5 years ago | (#25496525)

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.

Re:Open "source" hardware (4, Insightful)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 5 years ago | (#25496713)

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.

Re:Open "source" hardware (1)

korbin_dallas (783372) | more than 5 years ago | (#25496977)

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.

Re:Open "source" hardware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25497531)

There is ghdl [ghdl.free.fr] . It is simulation only (IIRC). If you are going to run on an FPGA, you need to buy the FPGA. Most FPGA vendors have a free version of their tools...

eabrek
(Posted anonymously because I moderated earlier...)

Re:Open "source" hardware (1)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | more than 5 years ago | (#25497847)

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).

Re:Open "source" hardware (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 5 years ago | (#25498743)

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

Re:Open "source" hardware (1)

JustKidding (591117) | more than 5 years ago | (#25496759)

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.

Re:Open "source" hardware (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#25496775)

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 boards, you can often do it at home with some cheap kit. For ICs, you typically need to book some fab time, which is a few tens of thousands of dollars for a short run (a few fab companies will take runs as low as a few tens or hundreds, but you end up with one of the most expensive chips on the planet if do this). Alternatively, you can run them in a simulator or in an FPGA.

Re:Open "source" hardware (2, Interesting)

bitrex (859228) | more than 5 years ago | (#25496801)

"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 is open source. I still think projects like the ones mentioned are fantastic though, as component selection and construction are well thought out with the hobbyist in mind, and like the x0xb0x fill a niche market (a re-engineering of a defunct product) or the WaveBubble (which no consumer electronics company would touch).

Good timing (2, Funny)

grub (11606) | more than 5 years ago | (#25496633)


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 :)

One that's been sadly ignored in tech circles (5, Interesting)

FridgeFreezer (1352537) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:One that's been sadly ignored in tech circles (3, Funny)

electrosoccertux (874415) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:One that's been sadly ignored in tech circles (1)

cb_is_cool (1084665) | more than 5 years ago | (#25497143)

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 :)

Re:One that's been sadly ignored in tech circles (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 5 years ago | (#25497825)

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 evaluating whether they really need the high octane stuff their owners manual specifies.

Re:One that's been sadly ignored in tech circles (1)

FridgeFreezer (1352537) | more than 5 years ago | (#25497945)

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.

Amiga Hardware Open Sourced (1)

pixie.pt (963700) | more than 5 years ago | (#25496719)

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]

x0x0b0x Project Rocks! (2, Interesting)

six025 (714064) | more than 5 years ago | (#25497053)

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 instruments that extend on the original, and the design is now open forever.

The sound you get out of it is about as close to the original as possible - it's been notoriously difficult to copy and many people have failed in the past - even Roland!!

This x0x0b0x just fantastic work. Respect!!

Peace,
Andy.

Open Computer? (2, Interesting)

starseeker (141897) | more than 5 years ago | (#25497281)

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.

Dont' forget Paparazzi (1)

Buzz_Light (1017486) | more than 5 years ago | (#25497385)

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.

I'm waiting .... (2, Funny)

PPH (736903) | more than 5 years ago | (#25497883)

... for A.Q. Khan to post his blueprints online.

Retrocomputing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25497893)

Z80 CP/M home brew computer

http://groups.google.com/group/n8vem [google.com]

Cool stuff (1)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 5 years ago | (#25498041)

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 my firewall and router. In fact, I have added a vpn1411 board so that I can have the board handle encryption and decryption of ipsec packets making for much faster vpn connectivity. The net4801 is more expensive than a linksys at around 173.00 but you can build something that would compete with or outperform a Cisco router.

Hmm... (1)

kabocox (199019) | more than 5 years ago | (#25498135)

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 really ready for is open source McDonalds toys.

Also available open source hardware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25498715)

http://beagleboard.org/ [beagleboard.org]

It's an ARM Cortex based device, lots of built in goodies, probably about as powerful as many netbook computers that are hitting the market (I think the Pandora handheld was based on a beagleboard).

Two cool open hardware music toys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25500177)

The monome: http://monome.org
The stribe: http://stribe.org

OBDuino (2, Interesting)

Frederic54 (3788) | more than 5 years ago | (#25500253)

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 automobile (1)

XB-70 (812342) | more than 5 years ago | (#25501133)

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.

FPGA Forge? (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 5 years ago | (#25501141)

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 contain PPC cores into the onchip FPGA.

x0xb0xr0x! (1)

Eil (82413) | more than 5 years ago | (#25501533)

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) discovered it and eventually this one box spawned an entire music genre called acid.

So fast-forward to this decade where acid (and hence the 303) is still fairly popular even if not exactly mainstream anymore. For aspiring DJs and the dabbling techno hobbyist, a Roland TB-303 is nearly impossible to get. They're rare, old, and expensive. On the chance that one shows up on eBay, you'd like have to pay almost $3000 for it. Since the early 90's, many companies have tried to produce hardware and software clones but they usually fall quite short of the real 303 sound.

In 2005 or so, some MIT graduate gets a hold of a 303, reverse-engineers the circuits, designs an up-to-date 303 clone with identical analog circuitry and releases all her work in the form of schematics, PCB layouts, parts listings, and build instructions under the Creative Commons license. For the first time, a 303 clone is produced that sounds just like the original because it effectively *is* the original. And now anyone can buy a kit, source their own parts, or buy one from a builder.

Now THAT's what the hacker mentality is all about. Ladyada essentially did the same thing for this piece of synth hardware that open source communities do for software. And it's awesome.

(Disclaimer: I'm just about finished building a x0xb0x of my very own.)

Re:x0xb0xr0x! (1)

Eil (82413) | more than 5 years ago | (#25501567)

you'd like have to pay

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

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