Open source electronics

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Open source hardware refers to computer and electronic hardware that is designed in the same fashion as free and open-source software. Open source hardware is part of the open source culture that takes the open source ideas to fields other than software. An example of this is the Simputer project.

Some of the impetus for the development of open source hardware was initiated in 2002 through the Challenge to Silicon Valley issued by Kofi Annan [1]. Because the nature of hardware is different than software, and because the concept of open source hardware is relatively new, no exact definition of open source hardware has emerged.

Because hardware has direct variable costs associated with it, no open source software definition can directly be applied without modification. Instead, the term open source hardware has primarily been used to reflect the use of free/open source software with the hardware and the free release of information regarding the hardware, often including the release of schematics, design, sizes and other information about the hardware. In anyway, it includes the hardware design and element distribution on the motherboard (i.e. a notebook where one can replace elements).

With the rise of reconfigurable logic devices, the sharing of logic designs is also a form of open source hardware. Instead of sharing the schematics, HDL code is shared. This is different from free/open source software. HDL descriptions are commonly used to set up SoC systems either in FPGAs or directly in ASIC designs. HDL modules, when distributed, are called semiconductor intellectual property cores, or IP cores.

Notable projects and collections[edit]

the Open Circuits wiki[edit]

3D Printers[edit]

Computers and Computer Components[edit]

Designing the CPU itself[edit]

Designs that include a CPU[edit]

  • Arduino is an open-source physical computing platform based on a simple I/O board and a development environment that implements the open source Processing / Wiring language. Based on the Atmel ATmega168. There is now a Arduino Blog and a Arduino wiki.
  • SquidBee is an open mote for research in wireless sensor networks (WSN) whose design is based in Arduino's.
  • Open OEM - Project to build the first open source computer [2]
  • OpenBook - tablet design positioning between $100 laptop and consumer Tablet PC which wants allow tablet usage to masses by high volume production
  • Simputer - handheld computer aimed at developing countries
  • Open Graphics Project aims to design an open architecture and standard for graphics cards.
  • produces open arm-based development boards, aimed at OEMs and Further Education.
  • ECB_AT91 - Single-board computer based on the Atmel AT91RM9200 ARM9 processor (180 MHz).
  • OpenBook Project - open hardware and open software tablet project


  • Open Hardware (OH) is a project in which hardware designers share their work by disclosing the schematics and software (drivers) used in their designs. Open hardware designers meet, discuss what they are doing and ask each other for assistance in finding parts, or seek ideas to solve design problems. OH is also an opportunity to exhibit designs, so some may learn from what others have done.
  • OpenCores is a foundation that attempts to form a community of designers to support open-source cores (logic designs) for CPUs, peripherals and other devices. OpenCores maintains an open-source on-chip interconnection bus specification called Wishbone.


  • Openmoko Open source mobile phone running Linux and other free software, actively developed by community. CAD files and schematics included.


Other Projects[edit]

  • RONJA - Open source Free Space Optic system, DIY in a garage, 10 Mbit/s full duplex/1.4 km
  • Neuros "Open Source Device" an open source set-top box type device designed to serve as a low cost Linux "media center"
  • Chumby - 'Glancable' information device
  • OpenStim: The Open Noninvasive Brain Stimulator
  • gEDA - full GPL'd suite of Electronic Design Automation tools.
  • OpenEEG - creating a low cost EEG device and free software to go with it. [3]
  • Open-rTMS - creating a low cost rTMS device and free software to go with it. [4]
  • Daisy - An open source MP3 player [5]
  • OSMC - An open source Motor Control project, meant primarily for robotics but applicable to low-power electric vehicles and other uses [6]
  • FGIO_USB - An open source USB I/O board with capture and playback features [7]
  • FGDIANASYM - An open source data logger, digital analyzer and digital simulator for Windows, could be connected with FGIO_USB board [8]
  • HackMe Rockit - An open source 8 Bit Analog Digital Hybrid Synth [9]


See also[edit]

External links[edit]