Electronics > Open Source Hardware

Should open hardware be designed with closed software?

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In my opinion if you really want to use someone else open or public domain project all you really need is schematics in PDF and firmware. I had to re-do most of public domain projects i used into my fav CAD simply because its damn outdated [remembers win3.11] but i know it well and prefer over Eagle or Kicad or even Altium. So if i can, anyone can. Simple as pie.

I started with Eagle, then went to PCAD and it was a huge improvement in productivity an quality.  After a couple years with PCAD I tried to go do a board in Eagle and it was like pulling teeth - I had learned all the nice ways to do stuff and Eagle was so much extra work to do simple drag and drop type of stuff in PCAD.

I gave up and went with what I knew then.   Now of course we have migrated to Altium, and I see that as a huge improvement over PCAD, at least once I got over the learning curve.   I only have so many brain cells and I am going to use the best tool I know how to use, it isn't feasible to keep expertise in multiple PCB tools - at least for me.

Distribute the schematic in PDF and Gerbers if you want people making their own boards.

Maybe someone could come up with a interchange format between different tools, such as the .STEP files in the 3d CAD world.   
But none of the proprietary vendors would need or want to do that.

In my opinion yes of course!

But I restrict my projects to the free version of Eagle. Thus everyone can alter the design easily. I tried my luck with gEDA but in my opinion the degree of reliance of that suite is still quite low. Even the most simple PSU design with rectifier cap and regulator nearly went bust because I didn't realize that gPCB swaped the pinout of the diodes I used in gSchem.

And that's a 5 year old problem being still present: http://archives.seul.org/geda/user/Aug-2007/msg00299.html

What a horror show ...  bummer!

Therefore, just stick to what you are used to ... thats fine!


I like to tweak open source projects be it software or hardware, and find that most projects have a different way to present there projects. Be it pdfs, gerber, eagle files or whatever, and I always end up coverting it to something that I know and love.
I think it the nature of this "open"ness. Not everyone will know how to use tool x y or z but they will know there own tool. So they will tend to lead to using that.

I think as long as there is a means for a viewer to read and interperate your project, then its considered open.

I don't think the tool used to create it is as important as the format used to distribute it.  An open source design available in a format that can only be opened by expensive software isn't useful to many people.  Publishing gerbers and PDFs helps some, but both of those are (mostly) read-only formats, so they're less useful than having the original in a truly editable format.


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