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Christoph Beaupoil * Free Hardware Design (was: Re: [ox-en] Conference documentation / Konferenzdokumentation)

Free Hardware Design

Christoph Beaupoil [webmaster at]

Free Hardware Definition

o    Free as in Free Software (see rms
     [] for details ;)

o    Hardware any kind of material good.

There is no such thing as a free lunch (RobertHeinlein

There is no such thing as free hardware

o    Free Hardware here means Free Hardware Design

o    Design being all information needed for a skilled person with
     access to appropriate tools and material to build an Unique
     Plagiarism of the original and to modify whatever he wants

Free Hardware Thesis

o    People (not only hackers
     []) want
     Selbstentfaltung in an area of their own interest

o    What can be digitized will be shared (Sheen S. Levine)

o    Hardware Production is Information plus Resources. With the
     Information share tending to 9x%

o    If people have access to information and resources Free Hardware
     will emerge

Some Free Hardware projects

o    Simputer []

o    Open Collector []

o    oscar... []

o    ?

Not too many :(

Thanks for your attention

Surprise #1 - Windkraft ja bitte!

When the nuclear power plant of Brockdorf was being constructed we all
were pretty upset. But that was not enough. If "they" couldn't do
something reasonable, at least we wanted to be independent from them.
(Chritstian Kuhtz)

o    1977 first construction; flat ply wood; V-belt; only working
     above wind force 5

o    1978 ply wood; chain drive; wind force 3; noisy; breakdown in
     first storm

o    1979 first rewired generator; aerodynamic repeller; different
     speed transformations

o    1980 first speed transformation-free wind turbine

o    1981 first printed publication of construction details

o    1981-2000 storm protection; overspeed protection; different
     repellers; ...

o    2001 Publication of a 4kW Wind Turbine Design

     o    Over 25 years of development

     o    Active community

     o    Results on "industry level"

     o    Design freely available (ok, 4EUR)

     o    please build your own and share your experience "license"

License: I write these books to help as many DoItYourselfers as
possible. Together it works better: Everybody who builds a turbine
please write me, just like everybody needing help, so that I can bring
together turbine builders. (Chritstian Kuhtz)

Lesson Learned #1 - Free Hardware was first

Free hardware evolved independently and before free software out of
different movements like:

o    Anti AKW

o    Sustainable living

o    DIY

o    Woodworking

o    Special hobby groups like Rocketry, car tuners, electronic freaks

o    Bored mechanical engineering students ;)

They just don't know they are doing free hardware

Lesson Learned #2 - Learn english

When searching for Free Hardware don't google for "Free Hardware" but
any combination of:

Result: []

Some Examples

o    Free MP3 Player []

o    Free Furniture

o    Free CNC Milling Machine

o    Free Boat []

o    Car?

     Ok you can't have a Free Car so far. BUT you can have

     o    Free Electronic Fuel Injection

     o    Free Fuel []

o    Free Beer [%20]

     There is no such thing as free beer. But you can not only find
     the recepies but the design for the entire brewing equipment

o    For hobby terrorists: DIY Cruise Missile

Lesson Learned #3 - rms knew it :)

Everybody who cooks knows this and has known this for hundreds of
years. It's normal to make copies of recipes and hand them out to
other people, and it's also normal to change a recipe. If you change
the recipe and cook it for your friends and they like eating it, they
might ask you, "Could I have the recipe?" Then maybe you'll write down
your version and give them copies. That is exactly the same thing that
we much later started doing in the free-software community.

Free Hardware Criteria

What makes some blueprints in public domain a Free Hardware project?

1.   A community of developers and users

2.   Effective medium for information sharing

3.   Lowest possible effort to convert the design to useful hardware

4.   Low cost of imperfect builds

5.   A license granting

     1.   Freely available Design

     2.   Freedom to modify

     3.   Free redistribution

Bazaar Design (R. Ryan Vallance 2000 [])

Of 19 aphorisms postulated by Raymond in "The Cathedral & The Bazaar"
some fit Free Hardware:

o    Every good work of Software starts by scratching a developer's
     personal itch

o    Release early. Release often. And listen to your customers

o    Plan to throw one away; you will anyhow

o    Treating you users as co-developers is you least hassle route to
     rapid code improvement and effective debugging.

o    Given a large enough beta-tester and co-developer base almost
     every problem will be characterized quickly and the fix obvious
     to someone.

o    The next best thing to having good ideas is recognizing good
     ideas from your users. Sometimes the latter is better.

Example: Volksbeamer

Do It Yourself Video Beamer. Different aproaches:

o    Slide projector + 1.8 TFT (Original Volksbeamer)

o    Overhead projector + TFT []

o    Self [] build + 7
     TFT []

Criteria #1: A community of developers and users:

o    Commuity 1 (german):

o    Community 2 (english): []

o    Community 3 (french): []

Criteria #2: Effective medium for information sharing

Common tools for free Software development

o    Mailing Lists

o    Newsgroups

o    Websites

o    CVS

Tools used by DIY beamer communities

o    Forum

o    Wiki

How are forums organized?

Forums with discussion on certain details

o    Optics

o    Diplays

o    Cooling

o    Suppliers

Tagebücher (Project Diary)

Contain detailed documentation and discussion of each step of the
build of a Unique Plagiarism.

What is a Project Diary?

Remember: People don't build exact copies they build Unique
Plagiarisms of existing designs.

o    A Project Log describes in more or less detailed way every step
     of the build process.

o    It includes discussion of critical details where wanted by the
     community or the builder himself.

o    It integrates those detail plans that had to be done anyway or
     that people ask for.

Documentation has always been the worst part of Free Software. Because
it's extra work for somebody else when the personal work is already
done. Complete Hardware Design would be extra work too so not too many
people will do it. Project Diary solve this problem by producing few
extra work but lots of extra value for the developer by getting
feedback during the build.

Criteria #3: Lowest possible effort to convert the design to useful hardware

1.   Sit down and wait for fabbers to come ;)

2.   Use standard off the shelf parts and reused parts to "outsource"
     the difficult manufacturing steps

3.   Use material easy to process with tools available for you and
     your users

4.   Give information on how to get special parts

5.   Become your own distributor and sell special parts

Criteria #4: Low cost of imperfect builds

Worst Case: Insufficient Cooling for Display

Cost 0-200EUR (average 50EUR)

Criteria #5: A License...

Any suggestions?

Some Links

Organization: projekt

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