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Building Open Source Hardware: DIY Manufacturing for Hackers and Makers

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Building Open Source Hardware: DIY Manufacturing for Hackers and Makers


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  • Provides information, insights, and context from licensing to remixing, and beyond
  • Includes detailed coverage of designing for manufacture and troubleshooting manufacturing problems
  • Contains a complete open source hardware kit designed to encourage experimentation
  • By Alicia Gibb, founder of the Open Source Hardware Association and organizer of the Open Hardware Summit; includes contributions from many open hardware community pioneers


  • Copyright 2015
  • Dimensions: 7" x 9-1/8"
  • Pages: 368
  • Edition: 1st
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-321-90604-7
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-321-90604-5

This is the first hands-on guide to the entire process of designing and manufacturing open source hardware. Drawing on extensive personal experience with DIY, maker, and hardware hacking projects, industry-leading contributors share proven approaches to design, remixing, fabrication, manufacturing, troubleshooting, licensing, documentation, and running an open source hardware business.

Part I covers the emergence and evolution of open source hardware, what open source hardware licenses mean, and the growing role of standards in making hardware more open. Part II offers contributors’ expert advice on key tasks, ranging from creating derivatives to using source files. Part III turns to production, showing how to manufacture at multiple scales–from personal to commercial.

Appendixes provide valuable checklists for design, manufacture, security, and documentation. And to foster even more hands-on learning and experimentation, the low-cost Blinky Buildings open source hardware kit is used as an example throughout.

Learn how to

  • Get involved in the open source hardware community–its history and values
  • Develop designs you can successfully prototype and manufacture
  • Walk step by step through making derivatives from existing projects
  • Build open source 3D printers, and remix 3D printable objects
  • Create open source wearables
  • Work with diverse source files, from electronics to other physical materials
  • Fabricate your own designs
  • Move from prototype to commercial manufacturing, and troubleshoot problems
  • Choose a business model and build a profitable open source hardware company
  • Avoid pitfalls associated with trademarks, copyrights, patents, and licensing
  • Write documentation other hardware hackers can use
  • Use open source hardware in education, helping students learn without boundaries


Author's Site

Please visit the author's site here

Companion Site

Please visit the website associated with Building Open Source Hardware at bit.ly/buildingoshw.

Sample Content

Online Sample Chapters

Building Open Source Hardware: Making a Derivative

Personal Manufacturing in the Digital Age

Sample Pages

Download the sample pages (includes Chapters 6 and 11 and Index)

Table of Contents

Introduction         xiii

Acknowledgments         xxiii

About the Authors         xxv

Part I: Open Source Hardware Theory         1

Chapter 1: History of the Open Hardware Movement          3

The First Programs, Organizations, and Definitions  4



OSHW Definition, Summit, and Logo  7


Forking of Open Hardware and Open Source Hardware  9

Creation of OSHWA  9

References  11

Chapter 2: OSHW Definition and Best Practices         13

Open Source Hardware Definition  13

Best Practices  16

Summary  30

Chapter 3: Licensing Open Source Hardware         31

Licensing  31

Open Licenses in the Context of OSHW  32

Copyright, Patent, and Trademark: Rights That You Might Be Able to License  33

Actually Licensing a Copyright, Patent, or Trademark  36

What to Do Now  39

Summary  40

Resources  41

Chapter 4: Standardization of Open Source Hardware         43

Firming up the Soft Parts: Making Software Firmer  44

Softening up the Hard Parts: Making Hardware More Flexible  47

Other Standardization and Regulation  49

Summary  51

Part II: Hands On!         53

Chapter 5: The Design Process: How to Get from Nothing to Something         55

The Phase of Projects  56

Iterative Design and Concept Refinement  58

Setting up Your Workflow  60

Managing Constant Iteration  61

Every Master Plan Has an Exit Strategy  61

Preparing for Manufacturing  62

Summary  63

Resources  63

Chapter 6: Making a Derivative         65

Derivatives and Open Source Hardware  65

Blinky Buildings Project  69

Summary  81

Chapter 7: Modifying the Shape of an Arduino         83

Shapes of an Arduino Derivative  83

Before You Begin  84

Determining Your Board Outline  87

Lay Out Your Arduino Derivative in Eagle  89

Manufacturing Your Board  91

Summary  93

Resources  94

Chapter 8: Remix a 3D Print(er)         95

Dawn of the Desktop 3D Printer  95

Open Hardware Design for 3D Printing  98

Next Steps  107

Summary  108

Resources  109

Chapter 9: Wearables         111

History of Wearables  111

Conductive Textiles  117

Sewable Microcontrollers and Components  118

EL Wire/Tape/Panel  119

Tools and Techniques  120

Managing Expectations  125

Future of Wearables  126

Summary  127

Resources  127

Chapter 10:  Physical Materials         129

Centralized Online Hub for Information Sharing  129

Benefits for the Designers and Customers  130

Flexing the Open Source Hardware Definition to Fit Other Physical Objects and Products That Require Multiple Types of Manufacturing  130

A Range of Products and Industries  134

Summary  150

Part III: Production Bits         151

Chapter 11:  Personal Manufacturing in the Digital Age         153

Personal Fabrication, Processes, Parts, and Materials  154

Case Studies  157

Questions for the Future  165

Summary  166

Chapter 12:  Accelerate from Making to Manufacturing          167

Manufacturing Partner Decision  168

How SparkFun Electronics Grew to Scale  170

Kitting  174

Design for Manufacturability  174

Equipment Selection and Implementation  177

Supply Chain/Purchasing  182

Resource Planning and Scheduling  184

Testing and Quality Control  185

Future of Open Source, Small-Scale Manufacturing  189

Summary  194

Chapter 13:  Troubleshooting from Your Design to Your Manufacturer         197

Manufacturable Designs  198

Selecting Manufacturers  205

The Manufacturing Handoff  206

What Could Really Go Wrong?  209

Quality Control  212

Creative Fixes  213

Summary  216

Chapter 14:  Taxonomy of Hardware Documentation          219

README.txt  220

Product Webpage  221

Hardware Source Files  223

Making the Pieces Visible: Bill of Materials  225

Tutorials  226

Creating Community  229

Summary  230

Resources  231

Chapter 15:  Business           233

A Natural Business Model  233

The Brand  234

The Open Source Hardware and Open Design Business Model Matrix  235

Summary  251

Chapter 16:  Building Open Source Hardware in Academia         253

Life in the Ivory Tower: An Overview  254

Benefits of OSHW for the Academic  255

Increased Visibility, Citations, and Public Relations  263

Increased Funding Opportunities and Student Recruitment  264

Virtuous Cycle  265

OSHW Teaching and Service  268

Summary  275

References  275

Conclusion          279

Changing Incentives  279

Maturity of the Open Source Hardware Movement  280

Looking to the Future  281

Appendix A:  Open Source Hardware Checklist          283

OSHW Musts and Mays  284

Appendix B: Open Source Hardware Security Do’s and Don’ts         285

Resources  286

Appendix C: Design Process Checklist          289

Concept Refinement  289

Managing Iteration  289

Preparing to Manufacture  290

Appendix D: Design for Manufacture Checklists         291

Finding the Right Contract Manufacturer  291

SparkFun’s Core Design for Manufacturability Standards  292

SparkFun’s Ancillary Design for Manufacturability Standards  293

Troubleshooting  294

Appendix E: Mach 30’s Documentation Ground Rules          297

Appendix F: Blinky Buildings Source Files         301


About This Kit  301

Materials and Tools  301

Attribution  302

Licensing  302

Source Files  302

 Glossary           311

 Index          317


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