Electronics > Open Source Hardware

How do I start an Open-Source Project?

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--- Quote from: ebastler on July 16, 2022, 07:23:58 am ---I must be missing something here. An open-source plug?! How am I supposed to make my own?

The value of shared design drawings or files seems quite limited, since the hurdle is in the manufacturing process and equipment. I don't happen to own injection molding equipment...

Frankly this looks a bit like a publicity stunt to me -- trying to gain attention for your plugs and cables by declaring them "open source hardware". Sorry to be negative; if I misunderstood your intent, please correct me.

--- End quote ---

I understand that there are limitations on reproducing the test leads at home, since the design requires an injection mold. However, those that attempt to reproduce it are welcome to do so.

I don’t expect to make many additional sells because the design is open source. My main goal is to receive more feedback and advise on the test leads, so that I can produce a better design.

This design was built mainly with advice from the EEVBlog community, and I felt like making it Open Source was the right thing to do, instead of claiming the design as my own.

Also, this open-source project is mainly a learning experience. I have other (more complex) open-source projects in mind.

Thanks for the comments. In any case, good luck with your initial idea and any follow-up projects!

Depending on what other projects you have in mind, you should clarify for yourself what you want to enable others to do (like making their own copies of something, or making modified designs), and what you might want to stop others from doing. That will inform whether you should seek trademark or patent protection, for example. For simple hardware projects, you probably don't have any protection anyway and do not have much you could "license" under some open-source license:

For physical objects like test leads, breadboards etc., protection via copyright is not possible. Protection via a patent (which protects the function) is possible in principle, but has a high hurdle of "novelty and inventive step", and is quite expensive. I don't think your test leads would be considered inventive, for example, so patent protection is out. That leaves design patents, which protect the unique visual appearance of an item. Easier to obtain, but easier to circumvent by shaping a copied product a bit differently.

Without either a patent or a design patent, you can't really "license" anything for a pure hardware product, whether open or closed source. The Wikipedia article on Open Source gives some initial guidance: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open-source_hardware#Licenses.

So if all you want to achieve via the Open Source approach is to ensure that no 3rd party comes along, claims the design as their own, and tries to put a patent or design patent around it -- just publish your design, in a way where you can prove the content and the date of publication. Putting the design files onto a website is fine if that website is publicly accessible and keeps a record of the history. Github probably qualifies, or you could make sure that your own website is captured by the Wayback Machine.

Thank you for all the replies.

I’ve been receiving mixed messages about this project. I would like to know what you all think about the new test leads.

Should I invest the money to have the test leads manufactured or is this project dead-on-arrival? Also, what do you think about Kickstarter/Indiegogo?

Thank you again for the help.

You have received some good feedback in the technical thread (https://www.eevblog.com/forum/projects/breadboard-test-leads/msg4267978/) and have done a good job incorporating it. The new breadboard plugs should work alright, I think.

That leaves the question how many people need such cables, and at the same time are prepared to buy them rather than rig something up themselves. The audience on this forum may not have too much overlap with your target customer group: Many here dislike plug-in breadboards altogether (due to their tendency to create contact problems, and their poor HF properties). Also most people here are handy with a soldering iron and have a good stash of electronics parts, hence can quickly put some cables + connectors together themselves.

Personally I use breadboards rarely -- prefer to solder on perfboard right away. And my only use for banana plugs is for power supply -- any I/O signals tend to be connected via loose wires, ribbon cable, or coax connectors. But to supply power to a breadboard, I much prefer the common solution of jacks mounted next to the breadboard. This lets me use any standard banana cable of the length I happen to need, and provides stable support for the plugs.

Judging from the various internet tutorials and the offerings of Sparkfun, Adafruit etc., I assume there is a market of "makers" out there who use breadboards heavily, and who prefer to avoid soldering. They may also use banana plugs more widely? So maybe your cables will find a large-enough audience; I find that hard to estimate.

Kickstarter/Indiegogo can be a good way to raise awareness of your product and gauge the interest. But I am concerned that the cables may be a bit too "mundane" to get enough visibility: I can't imagine too many electronics/maker blogs posting articles along the lines of "look at this cool new gadget on Kickstarter!". And there are many Kickstarter projects which fizzle out with very few supporters simply because nobody ever finds out about them... If you have other product ideas, I would recommend to start with something that has a good chance to create some excitement and "noise" to give you more impact.

I didn’t know until recently, that people didn’t like using breadboards. Typically, I prototype my designs on a breadboard and move the project to a perfboard, once the design is complete.

However, most of my projects consist of digital signals and some analog inputs. I rarely work with high frequency circuits.

I’m considering doing a Kickstarter/Indiegogo campaign with a low project goal, to raise awareness for the project. I enjoy designing products, but I’m not the best with marketing/selling. This is an area I need a lot of help with.

I’m still considering getting the test leads manufactured. Then again, I would like to get some additional input, since this is such a huge investment.


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