OSHWA Supports Ownership in Amicus Brief

Last week OSHWA joined our friends at Public Knowledge, EFF, the Digital Right to Repair Coalition, and Public Citizen in telling the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit that ownership matters.  Why is ownership so important?  Because owning something means that you have the right to fix it or change it or integrate it into something else without first asking permission from the original manufacturer.  A manufacturer of an object shouldn’t use patent law to get a perpetual veto over how you use that object.

The case involves Lexmark (the 2d printer company). Over the years, Lexmark has tried to use pretty much every legal trick it could think of to lock down its printers and prevent people from using non-Lexmark toner.  Having worked through all of its other options, in this case Lexmark turned to patent law.

Patents give patent owners a lot of control over objects.  However, that control largely disappears when the owner decides to sell an object.  My phone is chock full of patents that allow the manufacturer to prevent someone else from making one without permission.  However, once I buy my phone, I can do pretty much whatever I want with it – paint it green, use it as a coaster, or sell it to the phone manufacturer’s ex that they hate.  This limit to patent control is called “patent exhaustion.”  Essentially, once you sell an object protected by patent, you have “exhausted” your patent control over it.

Lexmark is looking for a loophole to patent exhaustion.  They argue that patent exhaustion only applies if the object was sold in the US.  If the object was originally sold overseas, Lexmark argues, patent exhaustion should not apply.  If this argument sounds vaguely familiar, the US Supreme Court heard a very similar case relating to copyright a few years ago.  In that case, a student was buying official copies of textbooks in Thailand (at low Thai prices) and reselling them in California (at higher – but still lower than the publisher was charging – US prices).  The Supreme Court rejected a foreign sale loophole for copyright protected books, and now we are urging the Federal Circuit to reject a foreign sale loophole for patent protected printer toner.

In addition to undermining the concept of ownership, allowing such a loophole would undermine confidence in the market.  Imagine if you needed to research the supply chain history of everything you buy.  Two identical objects on a shelf could be treated very differently by the law depending on where they happened to be originally sold by the manufacturer.  How are you supposed to know which one you really get to own and which one is still under control of the original patent owner?  That’s a research burden that serves no purpose.

Charles at Public Knowledge and Vera at EFF have good summaries of what is going on in this case.  We at OSHWA are proud to be able to contribute to this effort and look forward to updating you as it develops.

Your Input Needed for Open Source Hardware Certification

Today the Open Source Hardware Association (OSHWA) is kicking off the process to create an Open Source Hardware Certification.  In addition to all of the amazing things that will happen at this year’s Open Hardware Summit, our goal is to be able to roll out the first version of the Open Source Hardware certification this fall.  In order to be able to do that, we need your input now.  You can find all about the certification and the process here, but the rest of this post will give you a quick overview of what you need to know:

Who: The Open Source Hardware Community and the Open Source Hardware Association.  if you are reading this, that probably means YOU.

What: A certification program for projects so that people can know that the project really is open source hardware.

When: From now until the Open Hardware Summit.  The first deadline for comments and answers to the questions is June 26, 2015.

Where: Comments and answers are being collected in the Open Source Hardware Association forums.  We are aiming to roll out the first version of the certification process at the Summit in Philadelphia.

Why:  While the community has done great work on developing open source hardware principles, many people are still looking for a simple way to know that something really is open source hardware.  Hopefully the certification will be a big step towards that goal.

How:  The initial proposal is available here.  Once you have read the proposal, weigh in on the questions in the forums here.  The OSHWA board will use those answers to craft a final version of the proposal.  If more input is needed, there may be a second round of questions for the community.

So what are you waiting for?  Check out the full proposal here and starting giving feedback here!


Building an Open Source Hardware Certification with OSHWA

This is a discussion draft and proposal to create an official certification for open source hardware housed in the Open Source Hardware Association.  It contains an overview of the proposal and raises some specific questions related to the development and implementation of a certification.  Once you have read the draft, please provide feedback in the OSHWA forums.

Brief Overview

This is a proposal to develop one or a series of open source hardware certifications administered by OSHWA.  The certification requirements would be developed collaboratively with the community and could possibly vary by degree of openness .  Users would self-certify compliance in order to use the certification logos.

A single certification threshold would have the benefit of clarity and simplicity.  However, it may not contain enough flexibility to capture the diverse paths towards openness in the hardware world.

A tiered certification would have the potential to muddy the waters around what really is “open” and could potentially be gamed by bad actors.  However, by creating a spectrum of certifications and examining their use over time, OSHWA could collect real-world information about what degree(s) of openness feels most viable to the community by tracking the adoption of the various tiers.  Over time, the spectrum of licenses could be consolidated based on adoption rates (this evolutionary model was used by Creative Commons to simplify and focus their license structure over time), thus bringing additional clarity to what is and is not truly OSHW.

An additional benefit of certification could be to make it easier for “outsiders” to participate in OSHW by bringing additional clarity to the definition, thus expanding the reach of OSHW and its exposure to new communities.  The following is a short sketch of elements of this proposal.


OSHWA is opening this proposal to the larger community because OSHWA is a community-driven organization and open source hardware succeeds on the strength of the open source  hardware community.  The goal of this process is to arrive at a consensus-based certification process for open source hardware.

In order to achieve these goals we have structured the following process:

June 2, 2015: Public release of proposal v1

June 26, 2015: Comment deadline on proposal v1

July 14, 2015: Public release of proposal v2 (if necessary)

August 7, 2015: Comment deadline on proposal v2 (if necessary)

Open Hardware Summit 2015: Release of Open Source Hardware Certification v1

Comments will be accepted via the OSHWA forums.  Each specific question will have its own branch.  There will also be a general branch that will act as a catchall for comments that don’t fit neatly into a specific question.

We have created the option for a second round of comments.  This second round will be used if the first round comments do not indicate that the community is moving towards a consensus.  If needed, the second round should give everyone a chance to weigh in on questions left unresolved in the first round.  If the first round of comments point to a conclusion we may not have a second full round.

All comments will be reviewed by the Open Source Hardware Association board, which will also be responsible for revising and finalizing the proposal.

Primary Goals

  • Make it easier for the public to identify open source hardware.
  • Move towards common expectations of what qualifies as open source hardware, including how non-open elements of putatively open source hardware is handled.
  • Expand the reach of open hardware by making it easier for “outsiders” to participate by setting clear expectations and definitions.

Optional/Secondary Goals

  • Encourage the creation of OSHW database
  • Develop an additional sustainable funding source for OSHWA

Clarifying Terms

The Open Source Hardware Definition and Open Source Hardware Best Practices were massive steps towards clarifying what actually qualifies as open hardware.  However, questions still remain about how to apply the definition and best practices properly to a given project, and also about how closely a project must adhere to all of the best practices in order to qualify for  opensource hardware certification.  Notably, “open source hardware certified” and “open source hardware” do not have to be absolutely synonymous.  The purpose of  the certification process is to try and provide some sort of certification of compliance for others.  Nothing in this certification process prevents someone from calling their project open source hardware.  The certification only has meaning if, over time, the community decides that the existence of the certification helps them identify projects that comply with their understanding of what open source hardware means.

One way to handle questions relating to how to apply definitions and best practices to a given project would be to develop a single canonical litmus test for openness.  This would create a clear distinction between what is “really open” and what is merely trading on the popularity of the term open source hardware. While bringing many benefits, a single test may not fully capture the community understanding of what qualifies as acceptable and unacceptable compromises in a move towards openness for a given project.

An alternative path is to develop a spectrum of tests of openness.  As long as they are clearly differentiated, it would allow a project to navigate its specific limitations by claiming “partial openness,” “full openness,” or recognized degrees in between.  The project could be transparent about its level of openness, but still get whatever credit it can get for incorporating some level of openness.  Levels could be indicated via a level system (Gold OSHW, Silver OSHW, Bronze OSHW), a laundry/nutrition-style label, or other indicators.

Over time, a spectrum of tests could help give rise to a more accurate understanding of how creators actually apply open principles to hardware.  The criteria that are embraced could be promoted, while the criteria that are avoided could be reconsidered and even depreciated.

Such a spectrum does come with downsides.  It has the potential to make it even harder for end users to really understand what an “open” label means. It could also allow bad actors to game the system in order to claim openness for marketing purposes while avoiding adhering to the spirit of open source hardware.

Expanding Reach

Another advantage of formal certification would be to make it easier for “outsiders” – developers and companies without strong personal ties to the open source hardware community – to confidently offer their products up as OSHW.  This is especially important in recruiting larger companies into the OSHW world.  Of course, attracting larger companies into OSHW is a debatably valuable goal.  The benefits of expanded awareness must be balanced against threats of being coopted and the watering down of the definition of true OSHW.  However, if such an outcome is worth exploring, providing clarity and a glide path may make it easier for outside developers (both independents and those at larger companies) to embrace openness without fear of unintentionally violating misunderstood community norms.


In order to avoid turning OSHWA into a large certification bureaucracy, once developed the licenses could be offered up for self-certification.  That would mean that anyone would be free to use the certifications as long as they felt that they complied with the terms of the certification.

Critically, self-certification would not simply mean that anyone could call themselves open source hardware.  In order to self-certify, a project would need to agree to abide by open source hardware requirements.  Perhaps more importantly, the project would also have to agree to comply with sanctions and penalties imposed by OSHWA if they were found not to comply with the requirements.

While it would still require OSHWA to enforce the certification rules, self registration is a low-impact alternative to a much more onerous system that required anyone to get formal pre-approval before adopting the certification.


While not required, certification users could be encouraged to register their certified projects with OSHWA (or a third party registrar) as part of downloading the registration logos.  This could help create the long-discussed open hardware registry.  Additionally, it could create a way for OSHWA to track and compare the uses of various flavors of certification (if such flavors of certification exist).


This proposal does not require the collection of any fees in order to function.  However, certification logos could be used as a source of funding for OSHWA if OSHWA was so inclined.  The lowest impact way to impose fees would be to impose either a one-time fee or royalty on the use of a certification logo in a commercial product.  Such a fee could be tied to volume or revenue so that small projects would be exempt, but more successful products had to pay on a sliding scale.  Of course, the fee would need to be low enough to avoid acting as a disincentive to adopt the certification logo.


There is a broad range of potential options when it comes to enforcing proper use of certification logos.  Options include, but are not limited to, maintaining a “list of shame” online for companies and projects that misuse the logos, maintaining the option to demand the removal of a logo on noncomplying products, operating some sort of public complaint process to identify misuse, and even imposing some sort of financial penalty (perhaps after an opportunity to correct is given) for misuse of the logo.  These options are not necessarily mutually exclusive.


Please provide your thoughts on the following questions.  Explanations for your preferences are appreciated.  You can also make general comments here.

  1. Is certification something that OSHWA should be looking into all?
  2. Do you prefer a single definition of openness or a spectrum of options?  Please explain your preference.  If you prefer a spectrum, do you have a preference between a tier-based spectrum or a nutrition/laundry label-style approach.
  3. Should it be possible for projects with non-open components to be certified as open source hardware?  If so, how should the process handle such projects?  Is a part-by-part label desirable because it gives specificity or undesirable because it complicates understanding the label for less technically sophisticated community members?
  4. Do you prefer a self-certification process or a process that involves pre-approval of certifications by OSHWA?
  5. Should registration be part of the certification process? If so, should there be a single central repository or a distributed set of repositories that comply with base-level requirements?
  6. Should certification require fees?  If so, should those fees take into account the size of the person/company behind the project, the commercial nature of the product, and/or the number of units sold?
  7. What is an appropriate penalty for projects that fail to meet certification requirements?  Should the penalty process include an opportunity for those projects to correct the error before the penalty is imposed?
  8. Should OSHWA maintain a public database of certification complaints and how those complaints were addressed?  If so, should the entire process be public or should there be a grace period for private resolution?
  9. Should there be a distinction between mandatory requirements and simple best practices?  If so, should there be some way to indicate that a project also/only complied with best practices?
  10. Is reaching out to companies outside of the current open source hardware community a goal worth pursuing?

OSHWA is having a Membership Drive!

We are launching a Membership Campaign to double our members of like-minded individuals and companies between now and January 15, 2015. Help us reach our goal by spreading the word: www.oshwa.org/membership/. We will keep you all updated on our membership drive as things progress. If you have innovative ideas on how we can attract more members, please get in touch with Aileen at info@oshwa.org. We welcome your ideas.

oshwasticker-01 Sign up for membership during the drive, and you will get an OSHWA sticker set!

*Stickers may be different from shown here.

Tweet: OSHWA is building a future for open source hardware - become a member! http://www.oshwa.org/membership/ #joinoshwa Help us spread the word about OSHWA’s Membership Drive with a Tweet!

Welcome to our new OSHWA Board Members!

Thank you to our members who voted for OSHWA’s new board members! Your vote is a major contribution as we need to reach quorum (at least 10% of our members) to make anything official in OSHWA. This year, we filled 3 board member seats which will be held for 2 years.

Please welcome our new board members! They are:

Toni Klopfenstein, Michael Weinberg, and Rose Swan Meacham

You can see the data here.

Thank you to all who participated in nominations!

OSHWA Board Nominees

This year, we have 10 board nominees for 3 open seats on the OSHWA board. Board members will hold a 2-year position. Once board members have been chosen by the community, the board will appoint a President, VP, and Secretary. As every nominee answered “Yes” to having 5 hours a month to give to the board, we did not include that question in each nominee’s data. Board responsibilities include fundraising, advising on goals and direction, and carrying out compliance of the organization’s purposes and bylaws. The vote will be open on Oct. 20 and Oct 21. Since the post is so long, here is also a .pdf spreadsheet of the nominees. Members will be emailed a link to vote. Here are the nominees in random order:

Toni Klopfenstein

Why do you want to be on the board?

Over the last few years through my work at SparkFun Electronics, I have seen the great benefits and necessity of having a unified Open Hardware community. I would like to be on the board to continue improving and strengthening this community, and to help the community by working towards more common, widely known standards for open source hardware. For myself personally, all OSHWA-hosted events I have attended previously have been of great personal benefit and growth, and have given me the opportunity to meet many people and see many projects from the open source hardware community that I may not otherwise get a chance to work with.

Do you currently serve on the boards of other organizations?


What qualifies you to be a board member?

My current role at SparkFun Electronics includes maintaining and distributing our documentation via tools like GitHub, so I am well aware of many ambiguities the current open hardware definition has. I am passionate about helping the community grow and improve based on what feedback I see from the community in that role, as well as my previous role in tech support, where I was able to see many of the places that users of open hardware run into trouble or get confused.

I also am skilled at working with people of many different backgrounds and experience levels with open source hardware, and have the communication skills necessary to enable productive communication between extremely technical open-hardware ‘veterans’ and complete newbies to the field.

I also am very self-motivated, and good at prioritizing work that is not necessarily well-defined or clearly driven by others.

Do you have an interest in serving as the board President?


Tamer Elzayyat

Why do you want to be on the board?

To utilize my knowledge and experience.

Do you currently serve on the boards of other organizations?

No, but I am a member in many organizations.

What qualifies you to be a board member?

PhD research now in electronics, and aim in same way.

Do you have an interest in serving as the board President?


Matt Joyce

Why do you want to be on the board?

I need something worthwhile to do. A raison d’tre. OSHW is an amazing organization supported by amazing people. I’d love to help push it forward, pull it up, and let it rest on my shoulder as needed. Of course more likely than not with the community behind it, it would more likely be like riding a jet powered tiger.

I’d still love to help out if I can. So I offer my assistance.

Do you currently serve on the boards of other organizations?


What qualifies you to be a board member?

I believe in the mission deeply. I’m honest. I have no incentives to work against or for anyone. I am surrounded by some of the best hardware folks in NYC. And, I’m generally a pretty good person.

I don’t think a board should want more than that out of its members.

Do you have an interest in serving as the board President?


Michael Weinberg

Why do you want to be on the board?

While not as important as actual design and creation of OSHW, legal and licensing issues have the potential to have a huge impact on its development and growth. OSS serves as a guide, but not a perfect analogy, for hardware. I want to be on the board of OSHWA to try and help make sure that legal and policy structures are in place to foster OSHW. I also want to make sure that the OSHWA does everything it can to encourage the development of easy to understand best practices that allow non-lawyers to easily navigate some of these thorny issues.

Do you currently serve on the boards of other organizations?


What qualifies you to be a board member?

I’ve never been qualified for anything I’ve ever done. That being said, I helped organized the OH/DC event that brought open source hardware to policymakers in Washington, DC, helped OSHWA with some of the legal issues in its FAQ, talked about policy and legal issues surrounding OSHW at a few Open Hardware Summits, and write about OSHW legal issues every once in a while.
I am not, however, proficient in KiCad. If that’s a requirement I probably shouldn’t be on the board. Not that I wouldn’t like to be proficient in KiCad or anything. Just that I’m not right now.

Do you have an interest in serving as the board President?


Nahid Alam (nominated by Addie Wagenknecht)

Why do you want to be on the board?

Nahid served as the review chair for this years OHSummit and I [Addie] found her to be dependable, dedicated and easy to work with, she always was available for calls, meetings and was quick to respond to emails. In addition she is a member of the OSH community. She is founder at litehouse.io

Do you currently serve on the boards of other organizations?

Nahid served on the board of Chicktech (http://chicktech.org) and helped them with arranging robotic workshop (http://chicktech.org/programs/past-events/chicktech-high-school-2013-psu/) for woc and girls in tech.

She also arranges a monthly hardware meetup (http://www.meetup.com/Bay-Area-Modular-Electronics-Meetup/)

What qualifies you to be a board member?

Please see above. I highly recommend her -Addie

Do you have an interest in serving as the board President?


Lars Zimmermann

Why do you want to be on the board?

To push and support open source hardware and help to develop it. With being on the board I hope to get more grip, a network and possibilities to do this beyond the scale I am already doing this. 

Do you currently serve on the boards of other organizations?


What qualifies you to be a board member?

I advocate for open source hardware for years now, as open source economist. I am not an engineer. For that reason I have different motivations and viewpoints on the matter.

I like to explore the potential of open source for hardware in other fields than electronics. My current main interests are to make open source hardware work/bring it to the discussion for a circular economy as well as for the future of our freedom and democracy.

I initiated and am part of different projects focussing on open source hardware like:

The Open It Agency: http://openitagency.eu

The IPO Tables: http://ipotables.net (new)

Baubus: http://baubus.de (new)

OWi: http://owiowi.net

I write about open source hardware in my blog, there you can find also more projects: http://bloglz.de

I did research and do workshops and consulting on open source hardware business models. I wrote the chapter about business models for an upcoming book about open source hardware “building open source hardware”.

Do you have an interest in serving as the board President?


Joshua Pearce

Why do you want to be on the board?

I want to help legitimize open source hardware as a concept to ease government and investor funding of its development, accelerate commercialization and catalyze mass-scale deployment. I want open source hardware to be the established default rather than the exception. I would also like to help the OSHWA build a centralized database to house all kinds of OSH to make it easier to find, use, adapt and share.

Do you currently serve on the boards of other organizations?

I am on the advisory board for the AMSE Additive Manufacturing Challenge (IAM3D) and have agreed to sit on the Advisory Board for Adopting Appropriate Technology (ADAPT) as a Framework for the Technology and Engineering Education Curriculum for the National Science Foundation’s DRK-12 Grant Program. In Canada, I was on the board of advisors for Hearthmakers Energy Cooperative in 2009 and the Advisory Committee of the Sustainable Energy Applied Research Centre from 2011. I have also sat on numerous advisory boards for small stat-up companies and NPOs.

What qualifies you to be a board member?

I have a well-documented track record as a major advocate of open-source hardware in academia and the popular press. I have published extensively on both the technology of 1) open source appropriate technology (OSH for sustainable development), 2) RepRap 3-D printing (OSH for distributed manufacturing), 3) OSH for scientific equipment development and 4) policy against closed IP. For example, I published the seminal call for OSH scientific equipment in the journal Science (a top journal) and followed up with the book Open Source Lab (2014) published by Elsevier (the top scientific publisher) to help legitimize the now burgeoning field. I also published in Nature (another top journal) a piece challenging both patents as a innovation source and the public funding of closed research. My work is regularly covered by the mainstream media, where I am careful to ensure the meme of “open source hardware is a technically superior method of development” at every opportunity. For example, see the Newsweek article on our open source metal 3D printer for less than <$1200.

Do you have an interest in serving as the board President?


Theodore Ullrich

Why do you want to be on the board?

I was at the very first OSHW meeting at Eyebeam in 2010. Here are some photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/teddesigns/sets/72157623642265534/

I started and run a product design and development consultancy, called Tomorrow Lab (http://tomorrow-lab.com). Since day one, Tomorrow Lab has always looked to uphold and create Open Source Hardware, however it has been difficult to keep commercialization as a priority when you are also trying to stay ‘open’. That being said, I’m interested in pushing to merge the two towards everyone’s benefit. I believe you have to resolve these issues in order for OSHW to flourish.

Do you currently serve on the boards of other organizations?

Tomorrow Lab is is on the World2NYC Board with the NYCEDC, and the NextTopMakers Board.

What qualifies you to be a board member?

Ultimately, I see the role of a Board Member to guide the application of the organization’s goals to current activities and opportunities. Its all about staying relevant. Therefore, a connection to industry is an important qualification.

As an engineer, industrial designer, and startup founder, I am familiar with the needs of the hardware community. I meet with new hardware startups in NYC almost daily. My business consults for dozens of them per year. I believe the insights available from a person in my position would offer value for OSHWA.

Do you have an interest in serving as the board President?


Rose Swan Meacham

Ensuring that new technology and hardware is made available to everyone is essential to fostering innovations that will improve the standard of living and education for us all. I strongly believe that anyone (no matter what age, gender, race, or economic background) is capable of contributing to scientific discovery in transformative ways.

This is a topic I feel extremely passionate about and I strongly believe that Open Source Hardware can be used by communities world-wide to fill in for failing governmental systems such as clean living standards, STEM education and private healthcare. By unifying innovators with new ideas for creating, improving, or sharing Open Source Hardware I believe we can help individuals make visible impact on their communities worldwide.

I would be honored to invest my energy and resources to ensure that Open Source Hardware is made both accessible and easy to work with by people from all backgrounds.

If allowed to serve on the board for OSHWA, I would organize educational events within schools and community spaces for the general public, including STEM topics for young adults (especially girls!), where open source hardware is used as a way to fuel interest and share technical skills.

I had the privilege of giving a TEDx Talk last year about Women In Science and through my research learned that while the number of girls in many undergraduate STEM programs outnumbers boys, the number of graduate level female students reversed to the minority. Among women surveyed in PhD level mathematics courses at Columbia, the majority attributed this to feelings of being undervalued and a lack of support from their peers.

Creating a common voice and networking space through OSHWA would help disseminate new knowledge about developing Open Source Hardware, but it would also provide the support many minority and underprivileged individuals need to be successful in STEM fields.

It is important to take advantage of an online network to help connect OSHWA members with likeminded Makers worldwide. This network could include live streamed panel discussions that we host, video lectures from experts who lead our outreach educational events, and an encyclopedia of source code and data on Open Source Hardware.

These entries could reference StackOverflow and resources like Arduino’s Forum to help provide our community with the tools necessary to advance their own hardware projects and share improvements on existing schematics. In a sense, it could become a new user-driven forum for learning about the Open Hardware movement and advancing its progress by supporting those who are working with new designs.

Do you currently serve on the boards of other organizations?

The most recent non-profit organization that I worked with was the Imagine Science Film Festival, which organizes an annual film festival in New York, as well as events throughout the year that make science accessible to the general public through film. The events were designed to make accurate, often esoteric scientific concepts more engaging and relatable through panel discussions and interactive activities for all ages.

The experience I gained would be extremely valuable to help with fundraising and creating a stronger global network of like-minded Makers. My responsibilities included planning and attending board meetings and developing new strategies that could help bridge the gap between art and science. I managed volunteers and hosted film screenings, panels with scientists and artists, planned educational events, fundraising parties, and started the first overseas outreach program which hosted film events and workshops in Saudi Arabia, Ireland, France, and Ecuador.

I worked directly with investors and sponsors, including Nature, Science/AAS, Google, Vimeo, NY Science Exchange, and universities such as NYU, New School, and Rockefeller to maintain the support we needed to bring quality content to the general public for free whenever possible. For example, I worked with Google and the University College Dublin to create the Mobile Science Cinema Truck – a private theater that was designed to bring science-themed activities and films to underprivileged areas throughout Ireland: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTt4XfCcHxI

Another example includes an educational series that I organized with the New York Hall of Science to teach children about biological sciences and how to create their own animations. The culmination of the event was a screening of their films that was hosted online from our sponsor Vimeo and in theaters throughout New York during the film festival.

What qualifies you to be a board member?

The mission of OSHWA is very dear to me and I believe that my unique research experience would enable me to make a tangible difference.

My experience working for non-profit companies and sitting on boards gives me a pre-established network and resources I could draw from to help develop OSHWA. But perhaps more importantly, as a recent masters graduate from the Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University, I have hands-on experience working with Open Source Hardware. I am currently applying this knowledge as a researcher in a Neuroscience Lab at NYU and developing a new experiment with collaborators in the Psychology and Neuroscience departments at Princeton University.

With new efforts being made by researchers to make their experiments available to the general public for free, I can see a huge potential for immense discovery by people outside of academia in the next decade. But a link between access to research and open source hardware and technology needs to be formed. I would like to start new movements among researchers to connect directly with the Open Source Hardware community to make the new technology developed in laboratories available to everyone. For example, Jack Andraka, was in high school when he invented a revolutionary test for pancreatic cancer and attributed his discovery to Aaron Swartz.

Do you have an interest in serving as the board President?


James “Laen” Neal

Why do you want to be on the board?

I believe in open source–software as well as hardware– as a tool for the advancement of technology. I think OSHWA does excellent work promoting the philosophy of open source, and I’d like to lend my skills and resources to helping further its goals.

Do you currently serve on the boards of other organizations?


What qualifies you to be a board member?

As a maker, I develop open source hardware. As a hobbyist, I use open source hardware. As the owner of a manufacturing service, the main group I want to serve are people making open source hardware.

Do you have an interest in serving as the board President?


Conversations with Two Summit Scholarship Recipients

OSHWA gave financial assistance to several women to attend the 2014 Open Hardware Summit in Rome, Italy. Below are conversations with two of these scholarship recipients, one from Pune, India, and the other from Colorado, USA. Both women have wonderful thoughts to share, plus Toni Klopfenstein is seeking a seat on the OSHWA Board in the upcoming election. Please read on to hear their stories.

Sphoorti Headshot

What is your name?
Sphoorti Joglekar

What is your age?

Where do you live?
Pune, India

Where are you from originally?
Pune, India

What is your title at your job?
Member of Technical Staff, Airtight Networks (Pune, India)

What do you do specifically for work?
I work on kernel and driver level features for the company’s product.

Why did you want to attend the Open Hardware Summit? Before attending, what did you hope to get out of it?
I was introduced to the open hardware community while working on my thesis project, and robotics and embedded applications have always been my interest. Before attending the Summit, I hoped for an opportunity to meet and learn from people contributing and making a huge difference in the open source hardware world. And the Summit provided me with that, and more!

What does open source hardware mean to you?
I am a beginner, and I am learning a lot about open source hardware and looking for mentors to guide me in my journey.

What do you see as the biggest struggle with open source hardware?
Being a beginner to the open hardware community, I find the absence of hackerspaces and FAB Labs a challenge.

What are your thoughts on the gender and/or racial issues around open source hardware as a subject overall?
I feel more and more women should get involved in open hardware community.

What did you get out of The Summit? What was your favorite part?
I gained a lot out of the Summit. I met fellow scholarship recipients, and also Alicia, Addie, Aileen, Becky and Phoenix who are really great at what they do. I came to know about the various open hardware projects people are working on worldwide through the talks session on Day 1 of the Summit. The second day was more about community participation and building a strong community through the workshops that were conducted.

Most importantly, I gained confidence to interact with really talented people on this huge platform and I am so thankful to OSHWA for encouraging me to attend and interact with all these people.


Toni's Headshot

What is your name?
Toni Klopfenstein

What is your age?

Where do you live?
Boulder, CO

Where are you from?
Monument, CO

What is your title at your job?
Quality Assurance Engineer, Sparkfun Electronics (Boulder, CO)

What do you do specifically for work?
I manage all Github repositories, work on circuit boards where the original engineer no longer works at SFE, organize the Hackers in Residence that come to work with our engineering team, assist with board revisions when necessary, and act as a liaison between engineering and tech support.

Why did you want to attend the Open Hardware Summit? Before attending, what did you hope to get out of it?
I was interested in getting to listen to and share ideas with other folks in this arena, and to strengthen our community. My hope was to leave the Summit with new people to collaborate with, and determine where we need to improve.

At last year’s Summit someone discussed open hardware farm tools, which was fascinating and really opened my eyes to the diversity of open hardware, and the fact that it is not just about circuit boards. I’m eager to see what this year has in store, and to learn more about other exciting projects. Even though it’s different from my own work, it’s important to take into consideration these other ideas to allow me to make better working decisions myself.

I hope to represent SFE well at The Summit. I want to truly listen to other ideas out there, and be sure that as leaders in this movement, we are staying true to the community and working with them, not accidentally against them. Communication, listening, and gathering is key.

What does open source hardware mean to you?
Open source hardware means there are no secrets or black boxes filled with things that you cannot see into. It is accessible so you can learn about something, and then go find its data sheets somewhere to learn even more. It’s not a product that is full of secrets and made specifically for one specific company. There are far fewer trade secrets, and much more accessibility.

What do you see as the biggest struggle with open source hardware?
How do you translate open hardware information to people? How do you share this kind of documentation with people and ensure that it is accessible? The common consumer can use open source software quite easily, but there are larger challenges with hardware.

What are your thoughts on the gender and/or racial issues around open source hardware as a subject overall?
This scholarship was created to ensure that women, and their voices, have a place at the table. The Summit is a brainchild of two women, which is important because this is still a very male-dominated industry.

What did you get out of The Summit? What was your favorite part?
The 2014 Summit was very valuable for me. During the first day, I got to learn about many new open-source projects that I was not aware of yet. One that really stood out to me was the Open Seed Initiative, which again, was great to learn about as it reminded me that “open hardware” doesn’t necessarily just mean electronics, but instead can include a wide range of materials and supplies, including agricultural items.

The talks on the first day overall were also really inspiring, especially getting to see so many new faces (at least to me!) in the open hardware field.

The workshops on the second day were also great. Not only did I get to learn some interesting insights about running an open hardware business from Eric Pan of Seeed Studio, but I got to work with folks from companies that I am familiar with from a business standpoint, but not from a personal standpoint. Because of this, for me personally, it helped create a more personal connection for me to other companies in the open source field that I would not necessarily have gotten the chance to meet otherwise. In my opinion, events like that help enforce the community aspect of open hardware, which is important and is something that could still be improved greatly.

2014 OSHWA Board Nominations Open until Oct. 15

OSHWA is looking for 2 new faces to join the board of directors for the Open Source Hardware Association. Please fill out this form to become a nominee or forward the link to the person you wish to nominate for them to fill out. The purpose of this form will be to tell voting members a bit about yourself. We will be publishing the nominees and their answers on Oct. 15th. Board members hold a 2-year position. Once board members have been chosen by the community, the current board will appoint a new President, VP, and Secretary. Board responsibilities include fundraising, advising on goals and direction, and carrying out compliance of the organization’s purposes and bylaws. Board members David Mellis, Star Simpson, Emile Patron, Jeffery Warren, and Addie Wagenknecht will remain on the board. We thank Danese Cooper and Windell Oskay for their years of service. Nominations will be open until Oct. 15th.

Nominee form.

Member voting will take place Oct. 20th and 21st. Want to vote in the election? Become a memberif you’re not already! Please note that only individuals can vote, corporate members cannot.

OSHWA is Officially a Non-Profit Organization!

Open Source Hardware Association (OSHWA) is thrilled to announce we have just received our official non-profit status! To celebrate this honor, we are launching a Membership Campaign to double our members of like-minded individuals and companies between now and December 31, 2014.

You can actively support open source hardware by becoming a member of OSHWA. Membership gives you visibility within the community for yourself and/or your company. Membership also allows you to vote on the organization’s board members and create positive momentum within the larger open source movement. How cool is that? Additional benefits include fun schwag like stickers, and a discount to all OSHWA events. Members receive priority access to events which typically sell out in the community, such as the Open Hardware Summit.

Now that we are a non-profit, your membership gift is tax-deductible. Until now, our generous supporters have made financial contributions to enable our work because they truly believe in what we do. We could not be more appreciative.

OSHWA aims to be the voice of the open hardware community, ensuring that technological knowledge is accessible to everyone. We encourage the collaborative development of technology that serves education, environmental sustainability, and human welfare.

When you join as a member or make an additional donation, your tax-deductible support allows us to:

  • Organize conferences and community events
  • Pay for travel so women and people of color who would not otherwise be able to attend our annual Summit Conference are able to do so
  • Create educational initiatives for the public on topics around open source hardware and its long-term impact on innovation
  • Organize the open source hardware movement around shared values and principles
  • Facilitate STEM education through the use of open source hardware conferences and other events
  • Collect, compile, and publish data on the open source hardware movement and communities of practice.

Feel free to reach out to info@oshwa.org with any questions/thoughts/ideas about collaboration.

Don’t forget: Some awesome companies will match a gift their employees make to a non-profit. Please check if yours is one of them. That will allow your gift to go twice as far.

If you made a contribution retroactive to the date of OSHWA’s incorporation on May 25, 2012, contributions made after that date are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law.


OSHW Quick Reference Guide

The Open Source Hardware Association (OSHWA) has developed a Quick Reference Guide for open source hardware.

The folder contains:

– a checklist for opening your project

– a May and Must poster to remind the community of what must be done to consider a project open hardware and what other options you may use.

– a folder of many different file types of the open source hardware logo.

– a copy of the open source hardware definition and best practices

– a “What is Open Source Hardware” infographic

You can find the Google drive folder here: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B_f25OKVb0TCb3BKQ053RV9DcU0&usp=sharing

If you find this useful, please consider contributing to OSHWA through membership or donation!