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Just when you thought the names of episodes couldn’t get any weirder…
- US economy seems to be diving again, hopefully it will not seriously impact the electronics industry.
- If it does, Chris thinks startups will be even more reliant on Angel Investors like Paul Buchheit (creator of Gmail)
- Is DIY finally going mainstream, as Wired suggested recently? An article from Futurismic seems to think this is a bad thing and that money coming in will ultimately hurt the “Maker Movement”.
- One bad thing could be that people could license their projects as Open Source Hardware (like the Penguino) … but then not be open!
- One thing that comes with more visibility…money. And the US government is funding small startups, some of which might be OSHW. Modeled after a program at Stanford.
- University of Michigan is also starting a program for burgeoning startups, granting new Masters of Entrepreneurship Degrees.
- Have you ever seen an electronics-inspired license plate out on the road before?
- Embedded Eric sent in the entry he submitted to the Touchstone Semi design contest that is wrapping up. A 4.4 uW 555 clone that can run at 18 Hz. Awesome!
- Our pal and regular guest, Jeff Keyzer of MightyOhm, has a new OSHW Geiger Counter Kit. He’ll be showing one off while he’s at the Chaos Communication Camp in Berlin.
- Chris’s good friend Dave Young just finished running a program teaching high school kids electronics over 6 weeks. The kids have written up their impressions of the program and they are/will be posted to the Blue Stamp Engineering blog portion of the site.
- Shonky Product of the Week:
- First pointed out on the EEVblog forums, “Fuel Savers” for cars seem like an utter load of bunk.
- Forum member oPossum did a great review of a ‘popular’ one and found a few passives and a linear regulator.
- This Day in Nerd History:
- Neville Mott passed away in 1996. He was a theoretical physicist who helped discover some key points in metal/oxide transitions in semiconductors. He won the 1977 prize in physics and the “Mott Transition” is named after him.
- Video of Dr. Mott from 1985, along with many other Nobel Prize winners, is available from the BBC.
- Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, writes about the need for boredom to inspire creativity. Too many devices preclude boredom these days.
- A writer at Gizmodo maintains that creativity is still possible and cites the design of the iPhone as an innovative product. What is the iPhone designer like though?
I thought this was something chunky:
Eric Holland says
Hey Dave & Chris,
Thanks for the shout out. I had a lot of fun on that Low Power 555 timer project. Touchstone is announcing the winners on Aug. 16th, so my fingers are still crossed…. unless Dave is a secret judge in which case I already won :p
P.S. Dave your right about how I got to the 18Hz frequency…needed to meet those tight power requirements!
John Dowdell says
I’ve found Tsvetan and Olimex to be reasonable players in the past. Olimex don’t claim OSHW on the board or their site. The question then is whether OSHW is inherent in the use of the Pinguino name and logo.
Maybe the Pinguino caretakers allow someone to make a non-OSHW board for Pinguino but still use the Pinguino name and Pinguino logo?
Maybe the Pinguino site needs to be clear about where OSHW applies if they allow different cases.
There’s no hardware pcb or gerber files that i can see for the other non Olimex Pinguino version’s that have schematics on the site either. I think interpretation will continue to be a problem for OSHW for a while.
Dave Jones says
The PIC32 Pinguino and Olimex are intimately linked. The Olimex bord is pictured on the front page of the pinguino.cc site, and is the only PIC32 Pinguino board availabale for sale anywhere as far as I can see.
Pinguino.cc claims the design and project concept is open source. And if the Olimex went and designed their own version of that, they can’t simply stick Copyright on it and not share the files if they build upon preceding open source work, which it seems they have.
Simon Langhof says
Last year I’ve seen an old VW Golf with a NE 555 license plate, last week a BC 547 like Chris mentioned.
Adam Ward says
Regarding Open Source projects: I don’t think there’s any reason why you can’t put copyright on your open source stuff. the GPL for instance (yeah I know it’s primarily a software license) actually requires you to copyright it yourself. See here… http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-howto.html
Copyrighting it doesn’t appear to prevent other people building on the design, it merely ensures that your name is preserved in the “history” of the product as far as I can tell.
If you don’t put your name on it, isn’t that more or less public domain? The whole basis of OS products is that a named authority (the person who created it) specifies the terms of usage of the design, if there’s no person to copyright it then there’s no reason to adhere to the license.
I’m no expert so I’m probably talking a load of old tripe. Wouldn’t be the first time.
Dave Jones says
It’s kind of a gray area I think.
Usually when you open source your hardware you’d use a license like Creative Commons, in which you can specify Attribution is required. That ensures that your names is forever more linked with the project and must be acknowledged in all future designs.
In which case I can’t see a reason why you’d open source your design and put “Copyright” on it? In any case I think it’s bad form.
Emil Eriksson says
If you look at open source software projects, nearly all of them have a Copyright disclaimer. I think the GPL even requires it. In open source, one person has the copyright but open sources it by using a license which allows people who do not have copyright to use it in the way the license specifies.
J Franks says
The GPL is very special. It is based on copyright law, bending and using it in a creative way.
They use copyright law to grant you the essential freedoms they think should come with every software. The do it by using copyright, so they can withdraw the license from you when you don’t play by the rules. I.e. the GPL is written such as if you don’t play by the rules you do a copyright violation. And that gives the copyright holder (often the FSF) strong arguments on court.
John Dowdell says
Thanks, so at least one of those downloads has EDA files in it. The OSHW definition that the logo links to says documentation like schematics and pcb eda files should be available and modifiable. I think that’s Dave was getting at. PDFs are great for reference but you want the EDA files if you want to try to contribute and innovate.
Dave Jones says
Correct, that’s exactly what I was getting at. As I understand it, the EDA files MUST be made available to call something Open Source Hardware. A PDF schematic is not good enough, unless for some reason the CAD files have been lost, or you hand drew it, etc. Heck, they din’t even have the Gerbers so you can make your own board.
Well if you go on he Olimex website and try to buy one you are given a list of Agents. I tried the UK ones and every one failed to list the Pinguino as an available part (even RS and Farnell) Looks like a dead project to me.
Opps! Typo…. Should be dead product not project the Pinguino seems to very much still alive.
OK dug around a bit more and Mouser have 9 in stock or 28 of the OTG type. Strange thing is no matter which country you search from thier stock level is the same so assume this is the entire stock held by Olimex for worldwide distribution. Restock time 1 week (Yea right)
Charles J Gervasi says
Haven’t listened to this show yet, but I saw the note about the economy diving. I don’t think it is. I think the stock market represents the value of companies with some nearly Gaussian white noise (AWGN) on it. If you watch it long enough, you find outliers. The media are like a dumb decision-maker algorithm. They interpret the wrong symbol b/c they’re bumping up against Shannon’s law of how much alphabet size you can have at a given SNR. If you try nail down the value of companies to 5% accuracy, all that AWGN is going to give you a BER high enough for you to notice the errors every year or so. I suspect it’s just noise; businesses are still producing great goods and services.
That’s how I shoe-horn the stock market into engineering models anyway. Engineers who go into finance must know this.
Regarding the usefulness of the Masters of Entrepreneurship Degrees, to start a business in Belgium you do have to provide some certificate that shows you had a basic course on bookkeeping. But I guess that masters degree would be overkill.
Nice singing Chris, or did the effects make your voice sound so smooth and in tune 😉
Chris Gammell says
Thanks! It was actually me singing that made it in tune (lots of takes) but the reverb and compression I added never hurts. The background music was all karaoke track.
Dave – it sounds like you are fundamentally misunderstanding copyright. I am not a lawyer, so take this with appropriate amounts of NaCl, but… my understanding of it is this: anytime something copyrightable is created, a copyright is also inherently created, held by the creator of that work (unless it is a work-for-hire, in which case the individual who hired the work holds the copyright). Until the copyright expires, or the copyright holder specifically releases the copyright into the public domain, or transfers it to another party (usually by selling it), the holder retains the copyright. Consequently, everything that is not in the public domain is copyrighted.
This copyright is the *only* thing that allows someone to dictate licensing terms – works that are in the public domain are owned by nobody, and can be used by anyone as they see fit – including modifying them and not releasing their modifications (i.e, taking it closed-source), or distributing it with no attribution. So, in order to be “Open Source Hardware”, with a license that requires attribution and/or continued openness, it *must* be copyrighted.
Note: claiming to be OSHW and not providing the requisite source openly is a separate issue from copyright.
Adam Ward says
I think there’s also a problem with the whole “You must release your EDA files, otherwise you’ve not respected the Open Source ideals” concept.
I only agree with that if you can actually format your work in such a way that you do NOT require any PARTICULAR software in order to read it correctly. I think this is an important point.
With this in mind I think the only “pure” way to release a circuit diagram is to create a bitmap of some kind that (perhaps a PNG format file) which is widely supported by almost all browsers as far as I know.
It might make transcribing the design more arduous for the person that wants to adapt the design but it DOES ensure COMPLETE transparency and relinquishes all requirements regarding proprietary software.
I guess it’s a way to normalise the design somewhat.
What I do NOT agree with is “you can only make an Open Source hardware project if you design it with Open Source development tools” idea.
I think the tool is irrelevant assuming the data is made available in some format that is readily converted into any format that the user requires.
It’s the CONCEPT that is open source and not the delivery. But the delivery should be at least transparent enough to ensure the concept is described fully and transparently.
I’m sorry for this long message so I’ll end it shortly…
I myself have tried to meet the above requirements with my Open Source hardware project, I developed it in a proprietary tool but I made sure I also included some generic formats (netlists and gerbers) in the hope that people would be able to use the design in any development tools of their own choice.
I find this topic very stimulating and I know many other people do too. I hope the Amp Hour continues to debate this rich seam of content. Rock on.
Charles J Gervasi says
I loved the show. My understanding is angel investors do use their own money because they must personally guarantee any loan secured by their investment in a startup. They also have to be a qualified investor, i.e. have some net worth, not be investing only with borrowed funds. The point about rates, though, is still valid b/c as rates rise instruments paying those high rates compete with startups for angels’ money.
You hit the edge of a powerful point on debt. Not having debt is like paying insurance. You could go into debt and invest the money in productive ventures that earn more than the interest you pay, as public companies do, but you are exposing yourself to increased risk. Forgoing income from leveraged assets is sort of like writing an insurance premium check. You’re probably just throwing away money, but if things turn pear shaped it will save you.
I’m not knowledgeable on why public companies use a lot of debt, but I suspect the decision represents the belief that shareholders want a riskier strategy with greater potential gains and losses. They typically hold a diversified portfolio and not care what happens to a few companies.
You guys are absolutely right, IMHO, that you want to avoid debt on a business you own with a few investors.
Tilman Baumann says
Listening to this episode on the Chaos Communication Camp. Had a quick chat with Jeff Keyzer as well, nice dude.
Adam Ward says
And why was Dave shouting into a PA system for much of the episode? Quite amusing.
Brook Keele says
Just a note on a Masters in Entrepreneurship Degree: if you create a startup and go for Venture capital here in the states, having that degree would go a long way in helping land those funds.
Just a quick thought on the comment Dave was making about how it’s a useless degree. *shrug*