Trailblazer Reflection: Dr. Carlotta Berry

My time as an open-source hardware trailblazer fellow was one of the most enriching and exciting experiences I’ve had in my academic career. This was because OSHWA and the Sloan Foundation allowed me to take a year to focus on projects that were always important to me. I already did open-source robotics work but was not educated on the formal tenets of open-source hardware or software until I joined this community. I was able to execute my vision to use robotics to bring STEM to more people and bring more people to STEM.

My “Robotics for the Streets: From Outreach to Education to Research” project had a mission to improve diversity in STEM by increasing access, knowledge, and inclusion. I was able to create a novel and innovative method for academics to engage in open-source hardware and software to achieve their professional goals. It allowed me to strategize and educate the community about a topic that is not traditionally pursued because of how it is evaluated. This lack of knowledge would hinder many academics from engaging because they are not aware of how to do this work and still be able to be promoted, tenured, and retained. I could show them that there was a way to use robotics to engage in teaching, research, and service.

This journey allowed me to develop an open-source platform that K-12 teachers, professors, and researchers were able to adapt for their individual needs with respect to teaching, service and research. It allowed me to serve as a champion and spokesperson for open-source hardware to bring in non-traditional, and historically marginalized and minoritized communities to appreciate the potential of this work. I was able to do this through social media posts, emails, listserves, YouTube videos, and projects on GitHub, HacksterIO and Instructables. I also gave presentations and wrote papers to educate the community at large about open-source hardware in order to increase visibility and broader impacts on the usefulness of this community. I was also able to give six undergraduate students experiences in research and open-source hardware that they would not have been able to have otherwise. They are now more versed in designing open-source hardware, documenting their designs, writing technical papers and giving technical presentations on this type of work.

Through mentorship and our cohort meetings I was able to learn about documenting the open-source hardware process, getting certified, identifying useful resources for creating my project and how to share it with others in a meaningful and useful way. I have now seen my Flower∞Bots used in engineering design competitions, summer camps, classrooms, research labs, and sold to the community through my NoireSTEMinist® company.

In conclusion, I can never thank OSHWA and the Sloan Foundtion enough for this opportunity. I want to ensure them that the work will continue through publications, keynotes, conference, presentations, and enhancements to the Lily∞Bot, Daisy∞Bot, and Flower∞Bot.

Find Dr. Berry’s Work:

Hackster.io https://www.hackster.io/berry123

Blog posts https://wordpress.rose-hulman.edu/berry123/sample-page/open-source-hardware-trailblazer/

Youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/@carlottaberry

GIT HUB  https://github.com/berry123/Lily-Bot

Social media handles are @DrCABERRY on Twitter, Instagram, Mastodon, TikTok

Open Hardware Summit 2024

OSH2024 branding by Enna Kim @fongkikid

Join us in Montreal, Canada for the 2024 Open Hardware Summit!
https://2024.oshwa.org/
Call for talk proposals, workshops, Summit Fellowship applications and more to come…

How did OSHWA pick Montreal?

After OHS2023 we sent out a survey asking people about their thoughts around 2024 and found there following:

– The survey had over 120 responses.

– In general, people thought the most inclusive location would be where the most people lived, however as you can see from the Eventbrite ticket map, our community is spread across the globe. Many people cited needing a city that was less expensive than NYC, but also that had public transit. Many people requested we not host the Summit in a US state that had laws imposing on the safety of LGBTQIA or BIPOC participants.

– Overall, outside the US, Canada had the most responses as to where the next Summit should be. While the US was first, we recognize that response may skewed be because the previous Summit(s) have been in the US, giving more survey responses from that population. 

– A large majority thought the hybrid approach to Summits being both online and in-person was the most equitable and inclusive. OSHWA is committed to continuing our hybrid Open Hardware Summit.

The map below shows where we had OHS2023 tickets purchased from

At the Interface of Open/Closed Technologies

One of the unique features of my work as a fellow (the “trailblazing” part) was building open hardware on top of closed-IP hardware (closed intellectual property, i.e. proprietary hardware and patents). The Loom Pedals system is an alternative software/hardware interface for the TC2 Digital Jacquard loom, a product of the Norwegian company Tronrud Engineering. I want to discuss “interface” from a couple of different angles. First, we’ll take the literal definition of “interface” in digital technology and go into some technical details in the software and hardware development process. Then, I want to explore alternative interpretations of “interface” for the Loom Pedals: a social interface between academic researchers and industry engineers, a craft interface between weavers and their looms, and a translation interface between two communities of hackers.

The Loom Pedals system directly replaces the existing software interface for the TC2. The TC2 communicates via Wi-Fi with this driver software, which is running on the weaver’s personal computer. Over Wi-Fi, the TC2 and driver exchange instructions—such as “start weaving”, “send the next row”, and “roll the fabric forward”—in byte packets according to Tronrud’s unique protocol. While we had to reverse engineer this communication protocol, we really didn’t have to take apart any of the underlying TC2 hardware like the motor drivers or vacuum control, or even reverse-engineer the driver software. The protocol seemed to have some quirks that hinted at the TC2’s system design, such as the loom expecting a particular sequence of start-up commands. But again, it was enough to just figure out what bytes got the right response through trial-and-error. Knowing the underlying system implementation would likely help us figure out the commands more quickly, but it was just icing on the cake.

In the middle of our reverse-engineering and development, we were very fortunate to get in touch with Tronrud about our lab’s research, including the hardware work with the TC2. Rather than discouraging any further hacking on their product, they were instead intrigued to talk to members of a newer, growing group in their customer base. Many TC2’s belong to art schools, university textiles departments, artists, and designers. Because the TC2’s development was led by weavers and intended for weavers, Tronrud has put in remarkable effort in creating a community of TC2 weavers and showcasing what users do with the loom. Yet in recent years, more STEM research groups and makerspaces have become interested in the TC2 and other textiles equipment in general. 

We were up front with Tronrud’s engineers that we intended for our work to be open-source, but part of our existing codebase depended on their proprietary protocol.  As someone who does not have industry experience in a large, well-established company like Tronrud, talking to their engineers has exposed me to new perspectives. Like many companies in industry probably worry about, Tronrud’s main concern is protecting their unique invention and preventing another business from copying their product to undersell the TC2. A key focus in our conversations has been identifying a clean separation between what could be shared and what could be kept closed, and we have been proposing an open API specification that any software could use to communicate with a TC2. This would open the proprietary communication protocol, but as I mentioned previously, Tronrud would not have to reveal any other components.

Personally, I believe that Tronrud would be capitalizing on a huge opportunity if they ended up releasing their communication protocol. My lab will certainly not be the last of their customers who want to hack the loom, and supporting users who want to customize their TC2 interfaces would only encourage this particular user group to grow. Rather than making their design more easily copied and possibly less unique, I think this would make the TC2 an even more unique product. After all, can you think of another hackable, maker-friendly, prototyping-scale Jacquard loom where the manufacturer is so involved with their user community? And what’s more, could Tronrud’s communication protocol become the standard for open hardware Jacquard weaving?

Can you think of another hackable, maker-friendly, prototyping-scale Jacquard loom where the manufacturer is so involved with their user community? Could Tronrud set the standard for open hardware Jacquard weaving?

Grappling with the interface between open/closed systems has been a challenging, yet rewarding experience, made even richer when we consider the wider context of weaving and the history of technology. Weaving is a craft that often relies on complex machines, yet it is also steeped in thousands of years of history and culture. Our human eyes and hands are how we interface with a weaving loom and its various accessories. The loom is our interface to the yarns and emerging cloth design. The (first) Industrial Revolution actively opposed many of these interfaces with its emphasis on automation and large-scale production. Ironically, the Jacquard loom was an invention of this era and drove much of the industrialization of textiles. By establishing many features of our current technological paradigm, I would also theorize that the Industrial Revolution set the stage for the closed-IP, black-boxed hardware, and planned obsolescence of modern electronics. 

The OH community, maker movements, and contemporary craft revivals represent what some call a “new” Industrial Revolution, one that values small-scale, on-demand production and celebrates the hand’s ingenuity. By looking at traditional craft tools, we can find technological interfaces that are already “open” in their design and highly hackable, despite the earlier Industrial Revolution’s efforts to make them obsolete. Traditional looms come in so many different forms because they have been hacked on and modified throughout millenia by countless communities. There is an elegance in being able to see all the mechanisms of a hand-powered loom or spinning wheel, an almost self-documenting system. I see potential for new machines, like the TC2 and the Kniterate, to find a compromise between closed-IP equipment and their open hardware ancestors through open interfaces.

If you have more business experience than Shanel Wu (i.e. any business know-how at all), please send them your version of how you’d make the business case to Tronrud. You can find them at: (website) sminliwu.github.io / (Github) @sminliwu / (Instagram and Discord) @pipernell / (email) sminliwu@gmail.com

On Open Hardware and Being a PhD Student

As one of the Open Hardware Trailblazer Fellows, I hope that my experiences can be informative, or at least bring some sense of solidarity, to other PhD students working on open hardware (OH). PhD programs seem to be isolating experiences by design. After all, you’re supposed to do original research — by definition, doing something that nobody else has ever done. How do you find community when you’re the only one doing what you’re doing?

I think my answer is to find connections with other people who are making things with similar features, and asking similar questions. I try to ignore traditional labels and disciplinary silos like “researcher”, “artist”, “engineer”, etc. so to some, the connections I make might seem like big reaches. My research in textiles and maker tools falls under the human-computer interaction (HCI) umbrella, and building hardware is my way of ensuring that my output research can not only support textile makers in their designing processes, but also play a part in the physical fabrication of those designs. Through the Trailblazers fellowship, I met academics who were working on very different projects, but we found unexpected connections anyway. I was the only person working with textiles, but everyone struggled in their own way with staying on top of documentation and hustling for recognition. Meeting with the other fellows during our cohort meetings gave me comfort that I wasn’t alone, even if I felt like my project was weird and niche. Moreover, most of the other fellows were faculty rather than students and many of the mentors worked outside of academia, so I had constant reminders that the stress of my PhD studies was only temporary, and open hardware would lead to much more exciting places in the future.

However, sometimes doing open hardware and PhD research added more stress to my plate, despite the community I found. Because my research focuses more on the design theories around and qualitative evaluation of the hardware in question, my writing needed to mostly discuss these aspects and heavily streamline the implementation details. Thus, I couldn’t use much of the technical documentation I wrote for the OH project for my academic writing. I essentially had twice the writing to do. And I already had a lot of writing to do.

I noticed other conflicts between academic output and OH output when judging how “ready” the work was. For the Loom Pedals, my advisor suggested that it was “publishable” once I had a proof-of-concept prototype. The Loom Pedals were nowhere near their current level of functionality and polish: I hadn’t designed the PCB yet, the enclosures were an earlier boxy version, and I was still ironing out the software interface. The crux of the manuscript was to be the “novel” concept of creating a customizable interface for a Jacquard loom. If I were to post about the project online, as I have with some personal hardware projects, I would’ve waited until I had documented things better and organized my files — a “pushable” state. Maybe this is just my perfectionism speaking, and/or specific to publishing in HCI, which is so focused on “novelty”. 

Lastly, I can’t forget my dissertation. This fellowship lined up with my final year as a PhD student, so for my final few months, my primary focus was just putting together my dissertation. I hope I’m not sounding repetitive because all of my issues have been with writing. But writing has been the single most prominent aspect of academia that I wouldn’t think about so much if, say, I was working as an engineer in a start-up.

Starting with this one parallel, I’ve been thinking about other ways that academic tasks mirror open-source practices; and going even further, ways that academic spaces could learn from open-source communities to become more nurturing and collaborative. 

As a minor example, I ended up putting my dissertation (LaTeX files, images, and other assets) into a Git repository because I was overwhelmed by organizing my files and tracking changes in response to my committee’s feedback. On a whim, I made it public on GitHub, like so many other projects that I’ve just thrown online. I’ve already sent the link to a few other students who wanted ideas for their own dissertation processes. I’ve realized that I want my academic work to include my process to transparently show the mess that preceded a polished manuscript. I want to be honest about my struggles, so I can share and create resources with others (like a living dissertation template that will be updated every year, not every decade). I want my work to exist outside of paywalls and institutions. And most of all, I want to dispel the myth that academics are solitary geniuses who periodically emerge from their wizard towers, publications in hand — a myth which only perpetuates elitist, exclusive institutions that isolate and burn out prospective academics who lack certain privileges.

I recognize that some (maybe most) of my feelings of isolation stem from doing my PhD during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Conferences were moved online or outright canceled, and in a field that heavily emphasizes publishing in conference proceedings, I missed out on a lot of networking, commiserating, and collaborating with other students that would normally take place at in-person conferences. Nevertheless, I would love to talk with others who might feel similarly and brainstorm ideas to support each other. Discord server? (entirely serious)

If you would like to commiserate about PhD angst and lament about not having actual wizard towers, you can find Shanel Wu at: (website) sminliwu.github.io / (Github) @sminliwu / (Instagram and Discord) @pipernell / (email) sminliwu@gmail.com

Trailblazer Recap: Shanel Wu

Hi! It has certainly been a year since I began as an OSHWA Trailblazer Fellow. For one, I defended my dissertation and finished my PhD.

I feel very fancy when I sign my new title.

— Dr. Wu

Over the next few days, I will be posting some reflections on my experiences during the fellowship. The Trailblazers program, true to its intention of supporting open hardware in academia, directly supported development on the Loom Pedals, an open-source customizable interface for a Jacquard loom, intended to promote improvisation and experimentation for makers. The system is based on a modular set of foot pedals with customizable functions, integrating with the TC2 Jacquard loom. You can find the latest prototype and documentation on the project website. (always in progress!)

But I think we all know that open hardware is more than just development. And academia is more than just building things. The Loom Pedals system was the final capstone project for my PhD research, forming a chapter in my dissertation. Beyond supporting this cohort of academics on their projects, the Trailblazers program seeks to support those in academia more broadly by generating resources, building networks, and increasing awareness in these spaces. These upcoming reflection posts will explore some of the particular dimensions of my work, namely doing this as a PhD student and hacking a closed-source machine. I hope I can contribute to OSHWA’s efforts by putting out these posts to generate discussions and build new, supportive connections between people.

Links will be updated as posts go live. Stay tuned for:

If anything I share resonates with you, please get in touch with me!

Contact Info

You can find Shanel Wu at:

New OSHW Certification Mark usage guide and directory updates

If you’ve certified a project in the past, you might have come across our OSHW Certification Mark: It’s a neat way of showing off your project’s open source status and helping your users find their way to the list of certificated projects.

A photo of various physical items bearing the OSHW certification mark. On the left is the Beancounter, a tool for counting parts, and its printed circuit board is visible and displays the OSHW certification mark in white silkscreen near the top. On the right is a small purple development board which displays the OSHW certification mark in white silkscreen and copper.

We recently added a brand new guide on how to use this mark in various situations, such as on printed circuit boards and in documentation. We’ve also updated the certification directory so you can easily download your project’s certification mark right from the project page– complete with its project UID!

Example open source hardware certification logo and UID.

We hope these changes have a positive impact on your work and we hope to see the certification mark out in the wild more often. If you use the mark, we’d love it if you shared a photo with us on our Discord or Twitter.

Revoking Certification for US002346

Today OSHWA is revoking the certification for the SparkFun DataLogger IoT – 9DoF, UID US002346. We are taking this action because the owner of the UID (SparkFun) asked that the certification be reversed due to accidental filing. While the hardware for this project is open source, the firmware is not.

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.

Thank you for an amazing 2023 summit!

The summit was about 3 weeks ago, and the team is still absolutely beaming about how successful it was! After 3 years of being apart, it was truly amazing to gather with our community. Thank you so much to our presenters, speakers, and community for making the event so amazing. We sold over 300 tickets to the event from around the world. Being able to gather again was rejuvenating for our community!

– You can find all the talks recorded on our YouTube channel, here. Please share them!
– Photos of the event can be found here, by Ananda Gabo.
– You can follow us on Twitter and Mastodon and tag us when you share!

We want to know your feedback, please don’t hesitate to reach out to myself or any other co-organizer with what we can improve for next year. I can be reached at hello@leecyb.org or at summit@oshwa.org. We’re also looking for ideas on what the summit looks like going forward, so send us your thoughts!

Thank you again from the OHSummit team!
– Lee, Sid, Claire, Alicia.

2023 Open Hardware Summit tickets are live!

Hello wonderful open hardware creators and community members!

We are so excited to formally invite you to the 2023 Open Hardware Summit happening both in-person at NYU School of Law 40 Washington Square South New York, NY 10012 United States and online.

You can grab your ticket today on Eventbrite at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/open-hardware-summit-2023-tickets-525062294457

This year we are offering a couple different ticket types including virtual, in-person, with a digital goodie bag (maybe you have enough stuff!!) or a physical goodie bag (maybe you want more stuff!!) as an add-on.

We can’t wait to see you all both on and offline April 28th and 29th.

OSHWA