Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Collaborate on Open Source Hardware Design at CERN's Open Hardware Repository

Much in the spirit of the open source software movement, the Open Hardware Repository is a place on the web for electronics designers to collaborate on open source hardware designs.

The creators of the OHR see peer review, design re-use, improved industry collaboration, better hardware, and a more fun design process as the primary benefits of their collaborative approach. I could not agree more.

I am impressed by the organization and functionality of the OHR collaboration tools. Each project has its own main hub page with tabs for project overview, wiki, activity, mailing list, issues, news, documents, files, and repository.  Each project has a project manager, and a list of developers.  OHR requires the sharing of anything it would take to duplicate each design, and encourages the sharing of all related files.

You can check out the features of their project collaboration platform by browsing the hub for this 5-bit port digital IO card in FMC form-factor.

 Each project is licensed through one of the following licenses featured on the OHR licenses page which links to info on the CERN Open Hardware License (CERN OHL), the GNU General Public License (GPL), the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL), and the TAPR Open hardware License (TAPR OHL).
    While I really liked what I saw at the OHR, there is one small catch:  To use the OHR tools for collaborating on hardware designs, the designs must "present an interest to the community of electronics designers for experimental physics facilities."  As the OHR manifesto points out, the target community is broad and diverse enough that the "of interest to the community" constraint is unlikely to be excessively constraining.

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