Wednesday, 3 December 2008

What is Open Source Hardware, really? Part 2 and the CoreBoard

Somehow it didn't feel right to spend all that time thinking about Open Source over the last few days, only to make another file using Microsoft's very, very proprietary Powerpoint file and format :(

Anyway, thanks Limor (p.s. can I come over and use your laser etcher?!) and especially Phil for the ideas and comments (they've definitely thought long and hard about this). So I spent some time last night and today reading up on the huge threads over at OpenCollector, Slashdot and, where there are some really interesting ideas too. I tried to summarize everything I read, and some of my thoughts as well into "What is Open Source Hardware - Part 2".

Incidentally, it's funny that folks don't feel comfortable writing comments on a blog, and prefer to send emails instead, but whatever works :) I think I'm the same way on other blogs too...

Also, since I thought it was a good example of the licensing issues, I figured I might as well talk about my CoreBoard project. It was originally something I just built for myself, and I was kind of embarassed to release it because it technically doesn't work with the Arduino IDE (instead, you have to use either something from here, or from here on Linux).

It's a little Basic STAMP carrier board that converts all of my old STAMPS that I had lying around from the pre-Arduino days. It's shaped just like an Arduino, but colored black, and it has a little ZIF socket in the middle that's perfectly shaped for all kinds of 24-pin STAMP varieties floating around out there (like ARM, Java, or PIC-based ones). I also pinned out all of the Basic Stamp's I/O to the Arduino female pin header rows, so writing code for it wouldn't be too hard. I wanted to be able to use the shields like the TouchShield or wave shield with them.

Here's some open source code to make the CoreBoard blink LED 15 - I'm releasing this code snippet under the GNU GPL license :-)

' {$STAMP BS2e}
' {$PBASIC 2.5}
' {$PORT COM21}

IsOn CON 0
IsOff CON 1

LED = IsOn
LED = IsOff

I've release all the schematics, diagrams, bill-of-materials, parts list, and gerbers under the Creative Commons license so have fun ... And now that I've written a blog article about it, I've also thrown it over at If you buy one, I'll assemble and solder it for you!


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