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Open-source hardware and other stuff

Tue, 10/15/2013 - 9:47am
M. Simon, Technical Contributor

Newark Element 14 has published some of their market survey results on the acceptance of open-source hardware and software.

More than half (56%) of professional engineers are more likely to use open source hardware such as Arduino and BeagleBone in 2013. Among hobbyists, that figure jumps to 82%.
52% of professional engineers and 81% of hobbyists report being more likely to use open source software in 2013.
More than half (54%) of hobbyists report using dev kits at least once per quarter for personal projects.

It looks like open source is an idea whose time has come and is here to stay. Element 14 goes on to say:

Professional engineers rated reference designs as the resource that weighs most heavily in the decision to select a dev kit. Among hobbyists, the most important factor was the availability of online tutorials, webinars and videos.
“This trend also speaks to the importance of ease of access and use, as a strong community can help bring ideas and designs to life,” Koritala said. “Engineers have historically been hesitant to fully embrace open source, but the sheer availability of open-source tools and resources has mitigated many of the risks associated with designing in open source for commercial use.”

The survey is biased by the fact that they only surveyed people who had bought development kits. So take it with a grain of salt.

I'm doing some open-source work, myself. If you look at Space Time Productions, you can see the beginnings of a system for open-source hardware. Ultimately, it will include a number of MCU boards with a Real Time Operating System (RTOS) that allows you to develop software without the need for any software other than a terminal program on your favorite PC. It is operating system independent. When the initial system is complete (a few months from now) I will announce it here.

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The HP-35 calculator was HP's first scientific calculator. I got one when they first came out at $400 a pop. They had the 35th anniversary of the calculator back in 2007 so I'm a little late to the party. The original HP-35 had a very cute LED display. HP still makes an updated version of the HP-35 which you can get for $60. It has an LCD display so the battery life will be considerably better than it was for the original. It also looks like it has a few more functions than the original. Also, unlike the original, you have a choice of Reverse Polish Notation (RPN) or the more common algebraic notation. The original only had RPN. I'm a big fan of RPN.

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For my friends across the great water, Fortronic Forums will be offering free one-day seminars. The next one is a Power & Power Management Forum. It will be held at at the Williams F1 Centre in Oxford, United Kingdom, on October 22nd.


M. Simon's e-mail can be found on the sidebar at Space-Time Productions.

Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

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