Electronics > Open Source Hardware

Should open hardware be designed with closed software?

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I have an open hardware project that I want to design and make available to the community. The problem is that I don't know how to use any of the open CAD tools, such as KiCad. I know Eagle and Altium Designer. Eagle is not open, but at least it has a free version. I would prefer to use Altium, but of course it is a closed system. Can I use Altium or Eagle for an open hardware project?


In principle, you can use whatever you like and of course it would be very much more preferential to use free software for all steps.

The primary freedom involves that you can study the design and alter it for your own purpose. That means you publish the schematics and the firmware source, including all documentation, under a free license. With these anyone could redo the project/hardware with the same functionality.

You can compare it to a scientific publication. Any person, with skills in the field, should be able to reproduce the results from a scientific publication. Having access to any materials, tools and procedures is an important part of being able to reproduce results and make it accessible to a greater audience. The more parts locked up, the fewer can benefit and the cost rises.

Using a Kicad or gplEDA improves the degree of freedom and makes it more accessible to other users. It enables wider collaboration and ease of use for more people. The same argument goes for compiler, assembler and other tools, like mechanical drawings, for creating the final design. I can only encourage you to learn free tools and tool-chains.

If you can use an open format then the software you use really doesn't matter. Can Altium export to something can be edited with free software? (apart from Gerbers obv)

ExpressPCB? The software is free to download, quite easy to use for my experience. Maybe this is what you look for?

You should do as you please ;)
You are doing the work, so it's your call.
It would be a never ending story. Would you have to run the oped source CAD on Linux on an open hardware computer?


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