Send in your ideas. Deadline June 1, 2024
Theme fund: NGI0 Discovery
Start: 2020-04
End: 2022-09
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A forge suitable for open hardware development

The short version: EDeA is a novel approach to allow exploration of and improve discovery within the open hardware ecosystem - in order to help make open hardware designs and components discoverable and reusable.

At this moment in time, pretty much everything surrounding open hardware development is manual. Beyond just typing something into a generic search engine there isn't really suitable tooling available to search across what already exists. Accessible and usable distributions, collaboration tools and version control are what drove the free and open source software revolution, now open hardware needs to take the same leap forward.

Open hardware electronics projects are growing in numbers, thanks to crowdfunding, a strong developer community, and sophisticated open source electronic design automation (EDA) tools like KiCad. Between circuit schematic and printed circuit board (PCB) layout there is a logical association, but are being handled by separate programs, and therefore one can’t simply copy-paste design blocks. In 2020 it is still next to impossible to reuse proven parts of different designs without needless reimplementation. By leveraging KiCad’s pcbnew and eeschema scripting, a new way of building modular, reusable electronics opens. We are creating a catalog and community portal for discovery and development of proven circuit modules: power management, signal conditioning, data conversion, micro-controllers, etc.

Why does this actually matter to end users?

Open collaboration (like for example on open source software) is based on the premise that together, we know more than we do alone. For open source software development, there is a long history of tools and infrastructure that you can easily setup and maintain for your project, so you can involve as many viewpoints and contributions as you can to make your program versatile, secure, user-friendly, creative, and so on. What's more, the community created around a project can keep software going long after an initial creator has left, updating and expanding it as needed.

For open source hardware, similar tools and spaces unfortunately lack specific features to make open collaboration on devices actually beneficial. Circuit design for example is one of the most fundamental parts of hardware development, yet there are not tools for open hardware projects to design circuits together. This project wants to create such a space, not only to allow creative people all around the world make wonderful new devices, but also prevent designers from reinventing the wheel when they should just pick up an existing open design and get started adding their own unique functionalities, switches and screens. As open source software has thrived because of accessible and usable collaboration tools, now open hardware can take the same leap forward.

Run by Fully Automated OÜ

Logo NLnet: abstract logo of four people seen from above Logo NGI Zero: letterlogo shaped like a tag

This project was funded through the NGI0 Discovery Fund, a fund established by NLnet with financial support from the European Commission's Next Generation Internet programme, under the aegis of DG Communications Networks, Content and Technology under grant agreement No 825322.