Thank you for the kind words! And I also appreciate your suggestion about open-sourcing everything.jjrh wrote: ↑21 Jul 2019Glad to see you back!
There is no reason you can't release everything, schematics, software, etc. Totally open and under a opensource licence (which license is another topic) while at the same time selling kits, fully assembled stuff, PCB's, etc. My suspicion is very very few people will opt to clone a git repo, order the BoM, get a PCB made, assemble it all and flash the firmware. The few who actually do that will most likely turn around and contribute back to the project.
If you're not interested in 'profiting' from this and really just want to have this thing exist and a community created around it, having folks take the work and sell kits, etc. isn't a bad thing providing they respect the license and release the source code, schematics, BoM, etc (assuming it's not under a BSD style do whatever you want license)
This is exactly how stuff like REPRAP (3d printers) Arduino, midibox ( http://www.ucapps.de/ ), mutable instruments ( https://mutable-instruments.net/ ) Turris (https://www.turris.cz/en/ ) etc. exist and I'd argue are a huge factor in their success. It's not like having cheap Arduino clones hurt the ecosystem, it just resulted in more folks giving them a try using them in projects, and contributing back with libraries and code.
You can always release some things to the world like footprints, prototypes, etc piecemeal and not release the final product. Something to let folks go off and do their own thing or learn.
Just my two cents, but either way i'm very interested to see where this project goes!
It's interesting you brought up Arduino, as that was the platform on which we crowdfunded our product--it was a mesh-networked Arduino-compatible microcontroller. Very cool little device that kicked off our company. I do disagree with you a bit on the automatic benefit of releasing everything as open-source. Massimo Banzi, founder of Arduino, has been pretty outspoken about how outright clones of Arduino have harmed the ecosystem. Of course, there are great actors in that group as well--Teensy being one of the best.
Bunny Huang may be the most prolific open-source hardware developer (I mean, who designs AN ENTIRE LAPTOP FROM SCRATCH OPEN SOURCE!??!) and he's struggled with the issues around how to combat outright copying by exploring what I think could be a pretty interesting solution.
It's important to note that for open-source projects to work well, you want people to be able to contribute fixes, better modules, and progress to the ecosystem. That's all wonderful and holds true to the spirit of that philosophy. It's when you get into outright knock-offs that can damage that same ecosystem, when someone new to your product buys what they think is authentic goods on Amazon or eBay, and they get it, and it doesn't really work correctly (or reliably), and they think your platform is shitty and not worth it--when in reality you did the hard work of designing it with quality and stability and built the brand. That's when open-source goes bad.
How to avoid? I'm unsure. Bunny's Bitmarks idea is pretty compelling. I think a type of certification program could be cool too (though a lot of work to maintain) to ensure that modules play nicely with each other. Keep in mind that a badly-acting module could saturate the control bus network and make the entire system laggy. That would suck.
Anyhow, just wanted to explore how it can be a little more nuanced than open-sourcing everything. I am a big believer in the open-source philosophy, and realize entire companies like Adafruit and SparkFun have built themselves up around this approach. But I just want to mitigate any potential damage to the effort.