Thursday, August 11, 2011

Paying my OSHW Membership Dues

The Open-Source-Hardware concept, even though it isn't a recent idea (people have been publishing "open" hardware in electronics magazines for decades), has been "repackaged" and marketed to the Hacker/Maker community just within the past few years. The Atmel AVR based Arduino and its add-on Shields are one of the largest OSHW projects existing today.

When I first heard about the Arduino Uno platform and Software IDE I loved the concept and I did what I normally do.... I jumped on ebay and looked for the cheapest Arduino Uno I could find and ordered it. When I got the Arduino Uno board I noticed right away that this wasn't one of the "Made in Italy" Arduino's from the original developers.... I had just purchased a clone.

This is one of the significant draw backs to the Creative Commons OSHW licensing... it is perfectly legal for a company to take the OSHW gerbers and AVL and make their own Arduino and sell it at a lower margin. At first it didn't really bother me that much, but as I started using example sketches and watching "free" tutorials on the Arduino I realized that I was leaching "free" resources from OSHW developers without financially supporting them by purchasing my Arduino from them. I am sure the Chinese Manufacturer that I bought my Arduino from wasn't adding to the community by posting tutorials or example sketches.

Anyway enough ranting..... I have finally paid my OSHW membership dues and purchased a new Arduino Uno from Adafruit along with a Wave Shield that I'll be playing around with in the up and coming weeks. It was an extra $15 more than the clone, but it was money well spent in my opinion.

Below is a great video from Dave Jones explaining the whole open hardware movement.

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