Send in your ideas. Deadline October 1, 2024
Internet Relay Chat (IRC)
Stay up to date
Theme fund: NGI0 PET
Start: 2020-02
End: 2022-10
More projects like this


Modular printed circuit board editor

Pcb-rnd is a modular printed circuit board editor that is designed with the UNIX mind set. It has a convenient GUI for editing the graphical data of the board but is also has a handy command line interface. Both the GUI and the CLI aspects are scriptable (in more than 10 scripting languages) and pcb-rnd can also process boards as a headless converter tool. It has support for various proprietary schematics/netlist and board formats which makes it also a good choice for converting free hardware designs coming in proprietary formats to free file formats. Among the upcoming challenges are a full rewrite of the Design Rule Checker, more file format support and making the menu system even more dynamic to match the modular nature of pcb-rnd better.

Why does this actually matter to end users?

Behind the screens of every mobile phone, laptop or tablet you will find essentially the same components that are produced by a small number of companies. Using patents and closed-off work methods these monopolists hold a firm grip on how essential technical building blocks of consumer electronics are actually made. Not only does this prevent innovation in the market, it also makes the devices that users, companies and governments across the world rely on for vital services and infrastructures essentially untrustworthy. If you cannot verify that the parts that make your device work are secure, can you really trust the device at all?

One of the ways to break through this standstill, is to construct computer parts from the ground up and make your designs open for everyone to check and verify. Combine this open hardware with open source software and you have a device that, with the right knowledge and skills, is completely transparent and customizable. To create this open hardware, we need open design tools and file formats. This project will create open source tools to design and edit the most fundamental building blocks of almost all electronic devices: printed circuit boards.

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 PET 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 825310.