The Open Hardware Repository is a place on the web for electronics designers to collaborate on open hardware designs, much in the philosophy of the free software movement.
There are numerous advantages to working in a completely open environment:
- Peer review. If you are a designer in a somewhat small team, or even alone, you can get very useful feedback from others by exposing your ideas in an open space. Chances are somebody has similar interests to yours and more experience.
- Design reuse. The OHR has its origins (and initial scope) in the community of electronics designers working in experimental physics laboratories. One of its goals is to reduce the number of different teams working independently to solve the same problems, in order to make better systems with less time and effort.
- Better collaboration with industry. The current business model for most commercial design companies is to keep the details of design secret. While this might maximize the margins of some companies it has no advantage for the customers. We believe that a business model based on companies designing in the OHR and getting paid for it is perfectly feasible, and would result in better products and the possibility for the customer to improve them and debug them more effectively.
- Last but not least, designing in an open environment is definitely more fun than doing it in isolation, and we firmly believe that having fun results in better hardware.
There are two different areas in the OHR:
- Project pages are under the responsibility of a given project leader.
There are two requirements for any project to qualify for OHR support:
- Everything needed to review and modify the design and to produce the final hardware must be published. This includes schematics and PCB layout in some human-readable open format, bill of materials, mechanical drawings, manufacturing files, etc. Submitting the electronics CAD files in case someone uses the same design software and wants to modify the design is also requested. A project leader is free to use any licensing scheme for a given design, provided it is compatible with the OHR goals stated in this document. Two good candidates for open design are the TAPR Open Hardware License and the CERN Open Hardware License.
- The project must present an interest to the community of electronics designers for experimental physics facilities. This community being very wide and diverse, we don’t think this is a very troublesome constraint.
- OHR Support is a specific project devoted to the OHR itself. It contains useful information for users and any issue on OHR usage can be reported there.
We hope that the OHR will be a worthy contribution to a change in design paradigms and practices towards more openness and quality.