OSHWA Trailblazer Fellow Jonathan Balkind Disseminating OpenPiton and UC-level Lessons in Open Source Hardware

The OpenPiton project began at Princeton University in late 2013 as an effort to build a single manycore chip known as Piton. Incorporating several orthogonal research ideas, the Piton chip design featured well-defined interfaces and connections that made it ideal for research prototyping and led to its open-sourcing as OpenPiton. The OpenPiton project provides the RTL, tools, and scripts needed to prototype research ideas intended to be incorporated into manycore systems-on-chip. Thanks to a huge effort by a large team and (we think) some good design practices, OpenPiton has grown into a productive research platform downloaded by researchers in more than 70 countries and used in more than 50 published works.

The open-sourcing of OpenPiton and its ongoing development have been led by Jonathan Balkind, now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at UC Santa Barbara. Prof Balkind co-direct the ArchLab, with a research focus on the intersection of Computer Architecture, Programming Languages, and Operating Systems. Jonathan received his PhD and MA from Princeton University advised by Prof David Wentzlaff. He is now an OSHWA Open Hardware Trailblazer Fellow and serves as a Director of the FOSSi Foundation.

As OpenPiton became a mature project alongside the recent surge in open-source silicon, we came to realise that we had knowledge to share about building and sharing initially academic artifacts. We published a paper, “OpenPiton at 5: A Nexus for Open and Agile Hardware Design”, in IEEE Micro as a first step in disseminating the lessons learned. The paper has a particular focus on lessons learned in developing the platform and trying to establish it among the broader communities where it has been adopted, particularly computer architecture, electronic circuits, and electronic design automation.

The focus of this Open Hardware Trailblazer project over the coming year is in spreading more lessons from established open-source hardware projects, not just those from OpenPiton, but also from other open-source hardware experts across the University of California system. The UC system is a global centre of excellence for open hardware efforts where many established projects were developed or are actively maintained. Our focus will be in disseminating best practices and what-not-to-dos from such projects as gathered from two public events. The first will be a meta-tutorial – a tutorial on how to run tutorials – sharing lessons learned in running the many tutorials developed for OpenPiton and other peer projects. The second will be a workshop for newcomers to open-source hardware to learn from UC experts about how to start strong and develop lasting projects that can continue to benefit others. Recordings and other materials produced from both events will form a part of a library of resources produced by the trailblazer fellows.

Dahl Winters Named OSHWA Trailblazer Fellow

Dahl Winters is presently CEO and Co-Founder of TerraNexum Inc. Her company’s goal is to provide a platform for optimizing cleantech/clean energy investment opportunities to enable rapid, profitable GHG drawdown at global scale.

Previously, Dahl was CEO/CTO of DeepScience Ltd for 7 years, leading a R&D consulting business that also built systems for science and sustainability in partnership with major corporations and research organizations. Her work there mostly focused on carbon dioxide removal and direct air carbon capture systems, as well as the analytics for scaling up those systems. One of these projects was registered as open-source hardware with OSHWA with the help of the OpenAir Collective, an all-volunteer group focused on advancing direct air carbon capture. This project grew into the focus of OpenAir’s Cyan/Carbon Forming mission which has helped many throughout the world to improve their knowledge of technical climate solutions.

Dahl is currently on the last year of her Ph.D in Systems Engineering at Colorado State University, within the Simske Lab. Her research has focused on how improvements to the carbon storage capacity and compressive strength of biochar-concrete composites can be engineered and how such a system can be successfully scaled to meet global needs for carbon sequestration and construction. Through the help of OSHWA’s Trailblazer Fellowship, Dahl can now also apply model-based systems engineering strategies to test how related, open-source hardware systems might also be successfully scaled within academia.

Prior to her recent work in carbon removal, Dahl also served as a consulting Geospatial Big Data Architect at a Fortune 500 company. There, she designed and built processing pipelines at scale to facilitate big data solutions and new tools for land cover monitoring. Before that, Dahl was a Staff R&D Scientist at DigitalGlobe, now Maxar Technologies, where she specialized in geospatial big data analytics and designed cloud-based and on-premises systems for ingesting, processing, and analyzing large quantities of geospatial data. Prior to this, she was an Environmental Scientist for Research Triangle Institute (RTI International), where she provided technical support to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate Change Division (CCD) under the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (GHGRP).

In her free time, Dahl enjoys catching up on the latest scientific discoveries within physics and quantum computing, going on hikes near her home in Evergreen, Colorado, examining the local wildflowers and birds, and doing nature photography with her husband Loren Winters.

PhD Student Shanel Wu Named OSHWA Trailblazer’s Fellow

Shanel Wu, also known as S, is currently a PhD student at the University of Colorado Boulder in the ATLAS Institute, which is an interdisciplinary engineering program for “creative technology design”.

S is very passionate about: making things that are both useful and beautiful, and exploring technical complexities through handcraft. Their research focuses on designing e-textiles (or “smart” textiles) and wearables, technologies that combine fabric and other squishy, fluffy materials with electronics. They received their bachelors in physics from Harvey Mudd College, where S self-learned how to knit to pick up a relaxing hobby. Textiles and craft gradually took over their life as a secondary field of study, until they ended up in their current position – part self-taught fiber artist and knitwear designer, part design researcher, part engineer. In addition to owning many esoteric weaving tools, S is also a proud co-parent to a flock of chickens and ducks.

Their open hardware project is the Loom Pedals, an embedded interface to a computerized Jacquard loom, the TC2 by Tronrud Engineering. It started as a hack to make sampling and prototyping their woven designs faster. As a member of the Unstable Design Lab, S connected with a community of experimental weavers who also tinker with their tools and practice open-source sharing. The actual Loom Pedals are a system of modular foot pedals (expanding on the TC2’s existing single foot pedal) that give the weaver options for editing and improvising on a design, without having to step away from the loom and revise files in CAD. This project was always intended to be open-source, like many other projects from the lab. After all, the modern craft renaissance wouldn’t be possible without free resources like YouTube, and perhaps most importantly, textiles wouldn’t be one of humanity’s fundamental technologies without people sharing their techniques and knowledge with each other for millenia.

As an OSHWA fellow, S aspires to explore ways to do both open source hardware projects and PhD research. S firmly believes in sharing knowledge outside of traditional institutions as widely as possible, and that their work will be more impactful if it is openly available. They encourage fellow students to open source their research hardware. Much of the time and effort spent developing clear instructions and maintaining repositories will be well worth the community that is gained, when research is often a solitary activity.

Museduino Creator Miriam Langer Named OSHWA Trailblazer Fellow

Museduino Creator Miriam Langer Named OSHWA Trailblazer Fellow

The idea of the Museduino was born in early 2015. The Cultural Technology Development Lab (CTDL), an ad-hoc team of faculty and students in the Media Arts and Technology at New Mexico Highlands University had been grappling with the role of supporting the development of responsive exhibits for museums, historic sites, and traveling exhibits. The team found they were repeatedly making versions of the same thing – different sensors (proximity, capacitive touch, buttons) and actuators – lights, audio, motor movement, video – similar processes with different inputs/outputs. The challenge was often the maintenance, cost, and the footprint size (ie- sensor in a doorway, actuator across a gallery space). So, after lots of discussions and proof-of-concept work, Stan, Rianne, Miles, and Miriam developed the Museduino.


In the summer of 2015, Rianne Trujillo and Miles Tokunow, then graduate assistants leading the project, shipped version 2.0 (1.0 was internal) to some friends who had agreed to try it out. After receiving feedback the team built some “first one is free!” demos for their cultural partners, and continued to develop and refine a modular, open-source Arduino shield with external boards that could respond with no detectable delays using CAT5 cable at distances of up to 100 feet from the central microcontroller.

The team led Museduino workshops at ASTC (Association of Science and Technology Centers) in 2015, Museums and the Web in 2016, and INST-INT in 2017. Since the CTDL was something all members squeezed into their full-time academic schedules, they posted documentation and tutorials as they could, but finding the time to fully document both the technical iterations, code examples, and project demos/tutorials was difficult. The OSHWA Trailblazers Fellowship will be dynamic resource to revitalize the project after 18 months of being away from the lab due to COVID restrictions of state museums being closed.

The OSHWA Trailblazers fellowship will allow the current team, Rianne Trujillo (research/technical lead), Miriam Langer (PI, researcher) and Becca Sharp (graduate assistant, technical assistant, exhibit designer) to update the online documentation (museduino.org and GitHub repository) including tutorials, schematics, soldering instructions, and project examples. Along with this, each team member will be writing a textbook – with case studies from our various projects with museums, national parks, historic sites and installation artists, addressing issues around design, installation, and example applications. This document will be posted on the Museduino site, and distributed through OSHWA, along with partners at a few other universities and organizations.

Like most OSH projects, Musedino’s work would benefit from a larger community of users/practitioners who could modify the work, make changes specific to their needs, and share back to GitHub or another shared repository.

Internally at NMHU, they are working with faculty in the Forestry Institute to help their students work with sensors spread out over a large area (where wireless communication is impractical). It may seem that running CAT5/6 cables is impractical, but it does take some uncertainty out of the hardware setup, and Museduino easily accommodates 50+ meter runs in four directions from the central microcontroller (operating on battery or w/ solar).


Primarily many may think of Museduino as an OSH tool for arts/culture/exhibits – as they say, “The street finds its own uses for things”, or in this case, the forest does (apologies to William Gibson).

About the team:

Miriam Langer (she/her) is a professor of media arts/cultural technology at New Mexico Highlands University, an Hispanic Serving public institution in northeastern New Mexico. Miriam has been a professor of multimedia & interactivity with a focus on cultural technology at NMHU since 2001. In 2005, she initiated a partnership with the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs and has since worked with cultural institutions (museums, historic sites, national parks and libraries) around New Mexico (and elsewhere) to use emerging technology and open source solutions for these organizations. Since 2005, 268 projects have been completed at 62 cultural institutions. She is one of the founders of the Museduino, along with Rianne Trujillo, Miles Tokunow, and Stan Cohen – an open hardware platform for responsive exhibits and installation art. Her partners for this fellowship are Rianne Trujillo, instructor of software design and co-developer of the Museduino and Becca Sharp, an MFA student in Cultural Technology.Museduino.org, cctnewmexico.org

Rianne Trujillo is a professor of Software Systems Design at New Mexico Highlands University where she teaches web programming languages, experimental interfaces, physical computing/ internet of things. As the lead developer of the NMHU Cultural Technology Development Lab, Rianne has worked on Museduino and several exhibits for cultural institutions using open source software and hardware.

Becca Sharp (she/her) is a physical computing and fabrication artist with different focuses such as conservation and technology as well as technology and mental health. She has created projects using recycled materials, reused electronics and information about climate change, and is currently focused on mental health. During her undergraduate studies she had her first gallery showing and was in multiple art shows. She strives to create her work based around empathy and understanding. Her work often places one in “another’s shoes” to help spread information about current matters that need attention. She works primarily with 3D modeling, video game design, generative art through coding, soldering and physical computing. She has worked with museums and visitor centers around New Mexico including Bradbury Science Museum (2017), Meow Wolf (2018), Jemez Historic Site Visitor Center (2019), and New Mexico Museum of Art (2020). She is currently working on her MFA with mental health and technology as the center of her thesis, she is also teaching a course in her program using open-source softwares Unity 3D and Blender.

Playful Learning Lab Director AnnMarie Thomas Named Trailblazer Fellow

Playful Learning Lab Director AnnMarie Thomas Named Trailblazer Fellow

AnnMarie Thomas, the founder/director of the Playful Learning Lab (PLL) at the University of St. Thomas was awarded the OSHWA Trailblazer’s Fellowship.

The PLL is an undergraduate research lab that focuses on the intersection of Art, Technology, and PK-12 Education. I’m fortunate to work with faculty colleagues from other departments such as Music Education, Physics, and Emerging Media. Over the years some of our projects/collaborations have included:

  • Partnering with OK Go to develop OK Go Sandbox (the band’s videos and lesson plans for educators),
  • A nearly decade-long partnership with Metro Deaf School developing STEAM classes, camps, and programs for their students (who are Deaf and DeafBlind) (such as the afterschool program shown here
  • The development of engineering classes and demonstrations that use Flying Trapeze (and other circus arts) to explore physics

Most relevant to her work with open source hardware, though, is the Squishy Circuits project. Over a decade ago, Annmarie was wanting a way to teach young daughters about circuits, and with the help of an amazing first-year undergraduate engineering student, Sam Johnson, we created a method for building simple circuits that relied on two recipes for homemade sculpting dough; one that was very salty (and conductive) and one that was not salty (and worked as an insulator for electricity.) We decided to share all of our recipes and parts lists on line, and the team was amazed by how quickly the idea was embraced by teachers and parents around the world. This was the Playful Learning Lab’s first foray into open source hardware (or as we preferred, “open source squishy ware.”) This work led to the creation of a company, that is run by a former PLL member.

Annmare was an assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering at the time her team developed Squishy Circuits, that project played an important role in my tenure portfolio. Happily, I received tenure, and have gone on to become the rank of Full Professor, in both the School of Engineering’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Opus College of Business School of Entrepreneurship. She also teaches in the university’s School of Education, in both the Engineering Education program (which she co-founded) and the Education Leadership department.

The focus of the yearlong trailblazer’s project for her will be examining the what and the where of Open Source Hardware in PK-12 Education. Her team of undergraduate researchers, overseen by Annmarie and my PLL faculty colleagues (Douglas Orzolek, Jeff Jalkio, and John Keston) are undertaking a large-scale literature review process to see where PK-12 usage of Open Source Hardware is showing up in scholarly peer-reviewed publications. They will also be compiling in-depth case studies on how some of these projects were developed in academic settings (by faculty and graduate/undergraduate students.) PLL are also aware that many of the teachers and extracurricular programs that use open source hardware are not publishing this information, so PLL will also be developing and distributing surveys to educators in hopes of getting a fuller picture of the ways in which they use open source hardware, and why.

This program gives opportunities for talented undergraduate students to actively learn about open-source hardware.

Dr. Kevin Eliceiri named Open Hardware Trailblazer Fellow

Dr. Kevin Eliceiri named Open Hardware Trailblazer Fellow

UW-Madison

Innovation in scientific instrumentation is an important aspect of research at
UW–Madison, in part due to efforts of researchers such as Kevin Eliceiri, professor of
medical physics and biomedical engineering.
Eliceiri, who is also an investigator for the Morgridge Institute for Research,
member of the UW Carbone Cancer Center, associate director of the McPherson Eye
Research Institute and director of the Center for Quantitative Cell Imaging, was recently
named an Open Hardware Trailblazer Fellow by the Open Source Hardware
Association (OSHWA).
Open hardware refers to the physical tools used to conduct research such as
microscopes, and like open software, helps to ensure that scientific knowledge is not
just found in research settings, but that it supports the public use of science as is the
mission of The Wisconsin Idea.
“Kevin Eliceiri is a pioneer in open source hardware and software design that
allow for richer data collection than traditional methods and support innovative research
on campus and around the world,” says Steve Ackerman, vice chancellor for research
and graduate education. “Open hardware allows for interdisciplinary collaboration and
for a research enterprise to start small and then scale up to meet their needs. Open
source hardware is a good investment and holds promise for accelerating innovation.”

The OSHWA fellowship program seeks to raise the profile of existing open hardware
work within academia, and encourages research that is accessible, collaborative and
respects user freedom.
The one year fellowship, funded by the Open Source Hardware Association, 

provides $50,000 and $100,000 grants to individuals like Eliceiri who will then document
their experience of making open source hardware to create a library of resources for
others to follow. The fellows were chosen by the program’s mentors and an OSHWA
board selection committee. 

Eliceiri says “ There is already widespread community support for making the
protocols for any published scientific study open and carefully documented but the
hardware used for most experiments whether homebuilt or commercial can often be
effectively a black box. In this age of the quest for reproducible quantitative science the
open source concept should be applied to the complete system including hardware, not
just the software used to analyze the resulting data.

Universities often try to recover the costs associated with developing new
scientific instrumentation through patenting, commercialization and startups. This
process works well at times. But for some highly specialized instrumentation, the
traditional model can be too time consuming and costly. Thus, some highly useful
innovations never reach other labs.

Open hardware and sharing designs for instruments without patenting — as an
alternative to the traditional model — is growing in popularity. Three open hardware journals have come of age in the past five years, offering venues to share how to build
research instrumentation that can be tweaked for a specific use, instead of starting from
scratch

With open hardware, anyone can replicate or reuse hardware design files for free
and this increases the accessibility of hardware tools such as specialized microscopes.

The infrastructure of desktop 3D printers is another example of how open
hardware can accelerate and broaden scientific research. The National Institute of
Health (NIH)’s 3D Print Exchange is a library designed to advance biomedical research
by allowing a researcher to print hardware on site. With local production, there is a
reduction in cost and supply chain vulnerabilities.

Since 2000, Eliceiri has been lead investigator of his lab known as the Laboratory
for Optical and Computational Instrumentation (LOCI), with a research focus developing
novel optical imaging methods for investigating cell signaling and cancer progression,
and the development of software for multidimensional image analysis. LOCI has been
contributing lead developers to several open-source imaging software packages
including FIJI, ImageJ2 and μManager. His open hardware instrumentation efforts
involve novel forms of polarization, laser scanning and multiscale imaging.

Using the open hardware laser scanning platform known as OpenScan Elicieri
plans to evaluate what are the most relevant best practices from open source software
that can be applied to hardware and what are unique open hardware criterion needs
that have to be implemented for successful sharing of open hardware.

Eliceiri, a highly cited researcher, has authored more than 260 scientific papers
on various aspects of optical imaging, image analysis, cancer and live cell imaging.

Robotics for the Streets: From Outreach to Education to Research

Robotics for the Streets: From Outreach to Education to Research

Dr. Carlotta Berry

Engineering has a diversity problem. It has for a really long time. Despite many years of programs and interventions, the number of Black and Brown people pursuing degrees in engineering has remained relatively flat. It is more than just a broken pipeline, it is an obstacle course with pitfalls, daggers, darts, and detours that lead to dead ends. People are lost at every step of the journey due to lack of a sense of belonging, no mentors and role models, not being able to see the relevance of the work they will do, and how to relate it to real world applications. My purpose here is to propose we devise more novel and innovative approaches to get more minds, hands, and eyes on STEM.

Engineers solve the problems of a global and diverse community so they must reflect that community to come up with the best and most unique solutions. When this doesn’t happen, there is the potential for bias, discrimination, and injustice to creep into our technological solutions.  In recent years, we have seen artificial intelligence technology used to falsely identify the perpetrator of a crime, eliminate women candidates for job interviews and inaccurately identify individuals most likely to reoffend. 

As an Open Hardware Trailblazer fellow, my approach for doing this is to remove the barrier to knowledge and resources for all ages. I want to be for others what I did not have as an engineering student. Show them that they can be what they can or cannot see with a bit of diligence, dedication, and discipline. Remove the barrier that keeps some individuals from ever seeing themselves in this field and make it more accessible.

A robot is a mechanical system that uses electronics and software to achieve missions and tasks in the world, it connects several disciplines. Therefore, one of the greatest benefits in using robots for open-source hardware development is the fact that it is used for multidisciplinary collaboration. The documentation of robotics projects can be generalized to academics in engineering, computer science, human computer interaction, informatics, sociology, psychology, and cognitive science. Since my area of research focuses on controls, software development, kinematics, as well on electronics it touches on many such fields. In the past, academics have used robotics to teach design, controls, physics, mathematics, mechatronics, and programming so the opportunities are endless. In addition, since robotics is taught in so many different ways with no standardized curriculum, this is one way to unify the community around best practices. By having a shared repository online, users will be encouraged to not only consume content but also contribute their innovations.

This multi-pronged approach to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice in STEM technology will meet people where they are. Through a repository of social media posts, videos, lectures, assignments, labs, code, workshops, and curricula, it lowers the barrier for educators and users. By documenting and disseminating the use of open-source platforms for research, it will illustrate to academics that it is not necessary to raise massive amounts of money, purchase expensive hardware or get patents to make an impact.

In conclusion, my work as an open hardware trailblazer fellow will illustrate to universities and academics that there is more than one way to produce and share intellectual property. It will cause a paradigm shift that illustrates that there is just as much intellectual merit in producing open source hardware as there is in getting patents or publishing in journals, conferences, or technical magazines. In addition, using open source hardware will produce greater visibility for universities as well as yield broader impacts for the STEM community. By exploiting these non-traditional avenues for disseminated projects, it will enable a more diverse segment of the population to engage. In this way, open source hardware creates more diversity, equity, justice, and inclusion in STEM. For example, individuals who cannot afford a college education, will now benefit from some of the knowledge garnered from engaging in open source hardware projects that would have previously only been accessible to the university community. It is my hope that by promoting and using STEM to make connections with various communities and bring more people to STEM, we will change the face of STEM and diversify the profession.

Why you should use Free and Open Source Software to design your hardware

When you design hardware, it is very likely that you want to share your design files with others. At the very least, you may want to open your files and edit them in the future. This blog entry explains the advantages of using Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) if you want to make sure you always have access to your files.

Layout of a circuit using KiCad, a FOSS tool to design Printed Circuit Boards

Commercial not the opposite of FOSS

‘Commercial software’ is not the opposite of ‘FOSS’. The opposite of ‘FOSS’ is ‘proprietary software’.  A proprietary program is one for which you do not have meaningful access to the source code. You can buy support for FOSS, and then it’s commercial FOSS. In fact, many argue that it’s a winning combination: you avoid lock-in situations because it’s open-source, but you contribute to the sustainability of the project and you don’t expect people to work for free, which unfortunately is often the case with open-source projects. 

The problem with proprietary tools

The most important issue with proprietary tools is the dependency on an external entity, typically a software company, to be able to open and edit the content you created to begin with. We are so used to accepting this that we don’t see anymore how unnatural it is. Imagine you kept a hand-written diary. Some of these diaries come with a lock for privacy reasons. Now imagine that every time you wanted to open your diary you had to ask a company for the key to the lock. The company could ask you for regular payments to continue giving you the key every time you asked for it, and if you stopped paying you would not have access anymore to the years of content you might have already written in those pages. Even if you were willing to pay, the company could go belly-up, or their priorities could change, and you might lose access to your diary. Sounds ludicrous, right? Yet, this is what we accept every time we generate content using a proprietary tool. The current trend for design software to be ‘in the cloud’ and for licensing to be subscription-based gives tool providers even more control over who can access files and when.

But my EDA vendor gives me this super-good deal!

Some people invoke low prices of a given proprietary Electronic Design Automation (EDA) tool as a reason not to worry too much. Versions of the tools with limited capabilities are sometimes even available for free! EDA vendors can give extreme discounts to users as part of their commercial strategy. For example, academic institutions often get very good deals because vendors know that these tools have a steep learning curve and once a user has developed the muscle memory to be super-efficient, they are very likely to ask for the same tool in their next job, which may be in a company paying the full standard license fee. 

Does that mean that you are safe provided you work in an academic institution? Ask people working there, and you will find out that changes in the strategy of EDA providers (for example as a result of new management) can easily result in abrupt license fee increases. The feeling of helplessness in those cases is hard to describe, especially if you already have a huge number of designs done with that tool.

Zero or very-low license fees create the illusion that you will not lose much if you have to change tools as a result of a price increase, because you never paid them much to begin with. This may be true unless you and your colleagues have invested a big effort learning the tool and creating content you may not be able to access again. For example, a single PCB design might have taken hundreds of hours and multiple iterations to be completed; you might still have the Gerber files for production, but if you need to make a small modification, there is a significant cost to starting the whole layout project again.

If, on the other hand, you think that you may be willing to accept a steep increase in fees to be able to keep access to your files, I have bad news for you: your EDA vendor may be doing that very calculation for you as you read this. One cannot blame a commercial company for wanting to make more money. That’s what companies do. Whether your interests and theirs are aligned enough for you to purchase a proprietary license to their software is for you to judge. At this point it is worth noting that many users absolutely want to pay in exchange for the assurance that they will get technical support if they need it. This is a reasonable expectation when one uses a tool for important design work. As I mentioned earlier, it is very possible to buy that kind of support for an open-source tool. It is also an excellent way to help the project, funding software development work while maintaining the benefits of FOSS. Proprietary licenses typically conflate two aspects which are largely independent: the ability to open and edit your files on one hand, and the support if anything goes wrong on the other. You can certainly get the latter without compromising on the former.  

Call to action

Every designer wants to be able to share designs with their future self. If, in addition, you are designing Open Source Hardware (OSHW), your motivation to use FOSS should be even stronger. Open-source tools are sometimes lacking in features and quality. This may be partially explained by the fact that developers are often volunteers who join a project to ‘scratch their own itch’. As a result, conceptual integrity and user experience may get less priority than they should. You can help develop a good open-source tool in your domain (mechanics, electronics or other) in many ways. Contributing code, helping fund development or steering these projects to make them more organized and scalable are just some of the ways people are already doing this. In software development, many of the best tools are open-source. Awareness of the importance of FOSS in guaranteeing easy sharing and absence of lock-in is a first step. This blog entry, necessarily limited in scope and depth, is meant to raise this awareness. A longer version, describing Printed Circuit Board (PCB) design to make things more concrete and tackling the important subject of file formats, is available here. So, what next? If you would like to discuss further and see how we can get organized and reach critical mass in this important endeavor, feel free to post your questions, ideas, suggestions, etc. in the OSHWA Forums. Let’s make FOSS the standard way of sharing OSHW designs!

A certification logo with the UID crossed out

Revoking Certification for mini:: hardware family

Today OSHWA is revoking the certification for the following hardware:

mini::bike DE000107
mini::lab DE000106
mini::base DE000093
mini::pit DE000096
mini::grid DE000095
mini::out DE000094

We are taking this action because the documentation is no longer publicly available and the parties responsible for the hardware have indicated that they are not in a position to republish it.  The absence of the documentation was brought to our attention by a member of the open source hardware community.

In the past, we have fully removed decertified hardware from the certification directory. However, this time we are keeping the listing in the directory and making two changes:

  1. We are adding “(revoked)” after the hardware name to make it clear that the hardware is no longer certified.
  2. We have updated the documentation links to point to versions of the documentation OSHWA archived at the time of certification.

This second change is possible because OSHWA started archiving documentation as part of the certification process a number of years ago. This archived documentation is usually stored privately. OSHWA does this, in part, in order to avoid creating an alternative (and not updated) documentation archive that competes with the creator’s active documentation. In cases where the documentation is no longer available and OSHWA has an archive copy, OSHWA will add documentation for decertified hardware to https://github.com/oshwa-terminated-cert-docs-repo as part of the decertification process.

An effective certification program requires ongoing monitoring of certified hardware, both by OSHWA and by the larger open source hardware community.  OSHWA prefers to work with responsible parties to resolve problems with certified hardware and views decertification as a last resort. 

We discuss the decertification process in more detail in our blog post about the first decertification.  You can learn more about the certification program on the certification page and certification FAQs. Finally, if you have questions about the certification process, or want to report a problem with a piece of certified hardware, you can always reach out to certification@oshwa.org

Congratulations to the Open Hardware Trailblazers

OSHWA recently announced a call for Open Hardware Trailblazer Fellows. Thanks to the generous support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, OSHWA is taking a giant step towards expanding open source hardware in academia through the Open Hardware Trailblazer Fellows initiative. The one-year fellowship provides grants to individuals who are leading the way as open source hardware expands into academia. The fellows will document their experience of making open source hardware in academia to create a library of resources for others to follow.

The call was incredibly competitive. We received truly amazing submissions. The fellows were chosen by the program’s mentors and an OSHWA board selection committee. 

Congratulations to the Open Hardware Trailblazer Fellows!

Dr. AnnMarie Thomas is a Professor at the University of St. Thomas, in the School of Engineering (Mechanical Engineering) and the Opus College of Business (Entrepreneurship.) She is the director of the Playful Learning Lab, a multidisciplinary undergraduate research group focusing on the intersection of K-12 education, art, and technology. She is the co-creator of Squishy Circuits, and author of “Making Makers: Kids, Tools, and the Future of Innovation.” She served as the founding executive director of the Maker Education Initiative, and is the co-founder and executive director of OK Go Sandbox. Current collaborators include Metro Deaf School and the Minnesota Children Museum.

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Dr. Carlotta A. Berry (she/her) is a professor at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Dr. Berry has always been an advocate for multidisciplinary robotics education as well as diversifying STEM. As part of her efforts, she co-founded the multidisciplinary minor in robotics and Rose building undergraduate diversity scholarship and professional development program. During her recent sabbatical, she also co-founded Black In Engineering and Black In Robotics non-profit organizations and started an educational consulting company, NoireSTEMinist®. She has degrees in mathematics and electrical engineering from Spelman College, Georgia Tech, Wayne State University, and Vanderbilt University. Dr. Berry has given extensive service to her community and profession through FIRST robotics, VEX robotics, Girl Scouts, IEEE and the American Society of Engineering Education. She has numerous awards for her work and was recently recognized as an ASEE fellow and TechPoint Foundation For Youth Bridge Builder.


Dahl Winters (she/her) has been a leader in science R&D and technology initiatives with over 15 years of experience in IT and systems development services. She brings a wealth of expertise with strengths in big data, artificial intelligence, and innovation strategies for research and development. Dahl obtained her Bachelor of Science in Biology from Duke University where she received the Reginaldo Howard full-tuition scholarship for academic merit and leadership. She also holds a Master of Science in Ecology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she was a predoctoral fellow of the National Science Foundation. She is currently completing Ph.D work in Systems Engineering from Colorado State University. Dahl is also an active member of the OpenAir Collective, a community of over 700 volunteers working to advance carbon removal policy and R&D.


Jonathan Balkind (he/him) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he co-directs the ArchLab. His research interests lie at the intersection of Computer Architecture, Programming Languages, and Operating Systems. Jonathan received his PhD and MA from Princeton University and his MSci from the University of Glasgow. He is the Lead Architect of OpenPiton and its heterogeneous-ISA descendant, BYOC, which are productive, open-source hardware research platforms with thousands of downloads from over 70 countries worldwide. Jonathan was a Class of 2018 Siebel Scholar and recipient of the Gordon Y.S. Wu Fellowship in Engineering. Since 2021, he has served as a Director of the FOSSi Foundation.


Kevin Eliceiri, Ph.D., is the RRF Walter H. Helmerich Professor of Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He is an investigator in the Morgridge Institute for Research and member of the UW Carbone Cancer Center. He is also associate director of the McPherson Eye Research Institute and director of the Center for Quantitative Cell Imaging. His laboratory (known as the Laboratory for Optical and Computational Instrumentation (LOCI)) is a biophotonics research group dedicated to the development and application of optical and computational technologies for cell studies. They are contributing lead developers to  several open-source imaging software packages including FIJI, ImageJ2 and μManager. His open hardware instrumentation efforts involve novel forms of polarization, laser scanning and multiscale imaging. Eliceiri has authored more than 260 scientific papers on various aspects of optical imaging, image analysis, cancer and live cell imaging.


Manu Prakash (he/him) is a professor at Stanford University. He is a physical biologist applying his expertise in soft-matter physics to illuminate often easy to observe but hard to explain phenomena in biological and physical contexts and to invent solutions to difficult problems in global health, science education, and ecological surveillance. His many lines of research are driven by curiosity about the diversity of life forms on our planet and how they work, empathy for problems in resource-poor settings, and a deep interest in democratizing the experience and joy of science globally.


Miriam Langer (she/her)  is a professor of media arts/cultural technology at New Mexico Highlands University, an Hispanic Serving public institution in northeastern New Mexico. Miriam has been a professor of multimedia & interactivity with a focus on cultural technology at NMHU since 2001. In 2005, she initiated a partnership with the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs and has since worked with cultural institutions (museums, historic sites, national parks and libraries) around New Mexico (and elsewhere) to use emerging technology and open source solutions for these organizations. Since 2005, 268 projects have been completed at 62 cultural institutions. She is one of the founders of the Museduino, along with Rianne Trujillo, Miles Tokunow, and Stan Cohen – an open hardware platform for responsive exhibits and installation art. Her partners for this fellowship are Rianne Trujillo, instructor of software design and co-developer of the Museduino and Becca Sharp, an MFA student in Cultural Technology.
Museduino.org, cctnewmexico.org


Shanel Wu (they/them) is a PhD candidate at the University of Colorado Boulder researching smart textiles, wearable electronics, and sustainable futures for these technologies. They are a member of Laura Devendorf’s Unstable Design Lab in the ATLAS Institute at CU Boulder, contributing to the lab’s open-source weaving design software, AdaCAD, and open textbook for prototyping smart textiles. Devendorf is Wu’s PhD advisor, and will also be a partner on the fellowship, representing the lab’s introduction to open hardware. Wu received their Bachelor of Science in Physics from Harvey Mudd College, with a focus on applications to computing technologies. Of note, they also became a self-taught fiber artist during their undergraduate years, which informs their current research focus on textile-based circuitry and fabrication. Whether their hands are working with yarn, solder, fabric, or silicon, Wu embraces an open-source philosophy as a way to meld STEAM and community-driven social justice. 


Zsuzsa Márka (she/her) is a scientist at the Columbia Astrophysics Laboratory. She works on the LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) project, the experiment that in 2016 announced the first direct detection of gravitational-waves. At Columbia University, Márka led the project that built the LIGO and KAGRA timing distribution systems, key subsystems for instrument control and gravitational wave data acquisition. Márka works with members of the Columbia Experimental Gravity group on various aspects of gravitational-wave multimessenger astrophysics with a special focus on joint high-energy neutrino and gravitational wave searches. She is also involved in the development of new technologies through the Columbia BioOptics Group with a focus on combating disease transmitting vectors via optical and acoustic technologies and a murine model of neurodegenerative diseases.