Open source hardware

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Open source hardware refers to computer and electronic hardware that is designed in the same fashion as free and open-source software. Open source hardware is part of the open source culture that takes the open source ideas to fields other than software. An example of this is the Simputer project.

Some of the impetus for the development of open source hardware was initiated in 2002 through the Challenge to Silicon Valley issued by Kofi Annan [1]. Because the nature of hardware is different than software, and because the concept of open source hardware is relatively new, no exact definition of open source hardware has emerged.

Because hardware has direct variable costs associated with it, no open source software definition can directly be applied without modification. Instead, the term open source hardware has primarily been used to reflect the use of free/open source software with the hardware and the free release of information regarding the hardware, often including the release of schematics, design, sizes and other information about the hardware. In anyway, it includes the hardware design and element distribution on the motherboard (i.e. a notebook where one can replace elements).

With the rise of reconfigurable logic devices, the sharing of logic designs is also a form of open source hardware. Instead of sharing the schematics, HDL code is shared. This is different from free/open source software. HDL descriptions are commonly used to set up SoC systems either in FPGAs or directly in ASIC designs. HDL modules, when distributed, are called semiconductor intellectual property cores, or IP cores.

Notable projects and collections

3D Printers

Computers and Computer Components

  • Arduino is an open-source physical computing platform based on a simple I/O board and a development environment that implements the open source Processing / Wiring language.
  • OpenSPARC is a project with an already created UltraSPARC T1 multicore chip by Sun Microsystems. Sun's OpenSPARC
  • Open OEM - Project to build the first open source computer [2]
  • OpenRISC is a group of developers working to produce a very high performance open source RISC CPU.
  • OpenBook - tablet design positioning between $100 laptop and consumer Tablet PC which wants allow tablet usage to masses by high volume production
  • Simputer - handheld computer aimed at developing countries
  • LEON is an open source 32-bit RISC CPU.
  • Open Graphics Project aims to design an open architecture and standard for graphics cards.
  • produces open arm-based development boards, aimed at OEMs and Further Education.
  • ECB_AT91 - Single-board computer based on the Atmel AT91RM9200 ARM9 processor (180MHz).
  • PLAICE - The PLAICE is an open source hardware and software project developing a powerful in-circuit development tool that combines in one device the features of a FLASH Programmer, Memory Emulator, and High Speed Multi-Channel Logic Analyzer. It runs uClinux.


  • Open Hardware (OH) is a project in which hardware designers share their work by disclosing the schematics and software (drivers) used in their designs. Open hardware designers meet, discuss what they are doing and ask each other for assistance in finding parts, or seek ideas to solve design problems. OH is also an opportunity to exhibit designs, so some may learn from what others have done.
  • OpenCores is a foundation that attempts to form a community of designers to support open-source cores (logic designs) for CPUs, peripherals and other devices. OpenCores maintains an open-source on-chip interconnection bus specification called Wishbone.



Other Projects

  • RONJA - Open source Free Space Optic system, DIY in a garage, 10Mbps full duplex/1.4km
  • Neuros "Open Source Device" an open source set-top box type device designed to serve as a low cost Linux "media center"
  • Chumby - 'Glancable' information device
  • OpenStim: The Open Noninvasive Brain Stimulator
  • gEDA - full GPL'd suite of Electronic Design Automation tools.
  • OpenEEG - creating a low cost EEG device and free software to go with it. [4]
  • Open-rTMS - creating a low cost rTMS device and free software to go with it. [5]
  • Daisy - An open source MP3 player [6]
  • OSMC - An open source Motor Control project, meant primarily for robotics but applicable to low-power electric vehicles and other uses [7]
  • Monome 40h - A reconfigurable grid of sixty-four backlit buttons, used via USB. A limited batch of 500 monome 40h has been produced. All the design process, design specifications, firmware and PCB schematics are available online [8]
  • SHPEGS - Open source Solar Heat Pump Electrical Generation System


See also

External links