51MHstcCOTL._SL75_.jpg on his Sunday CNN Show, Fareed Zakaria recommended this book and said it was relevant to the modern discussion of Ideas as Property (Patents). I should very much like to hear the perspective of DIY thinkers on the relative merits of Idea ownership, Idea sharing, and how they might reform the current Patent system. Is it still a tool for social mobility - and impetus for the Industrial revolution - as it was for Watts and his Steam engine - or has it been captured by static institutions in a way that precludes growth - especially from new entrants? Has the narrative of a man, a plan, a steam engine - become overwhelmed by patent sweatshops at MS and HP patenting the obvious and mundane, as a means of pulling up the ladder?

Open Source is in many respects a new paradigm of Intellectual Property, but is there a baby in the bathwater?

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  • It is clear from this thread that there are 3 voices: Open Source as Communism redux; Open Source as Lost Leader, Open Source as Religion.

    The point of the Book is that Patent law created an incentive for individuals to create new solutions, which could not merely be copied by others; Open Source is a new trend in some other direction - in which the added value of cooperation and ease of communication replaces the value of monopoly.

    As Chris says, every OSH project is the middle case: OS as Lost Leader, and in each case their are developers who have a share or interest in the Profitable side of the business - and there are many more developers who do not. The question (and animosity) seems to arise as to whether this is an ethical and orderly and ultimately the most efficient distribution of work and reward.

    Fareed's recommendation is that we revisit this question.

    It seems that progressive societies tend towards transparent assignment of interest in one's work product, - and I would have to conclude that Open Source, under its current definitions, tends towards a more arbitrary division of benefits (in two ways - the reselling of OSH by clones, and the means by which outside contributors become partners in the profit-side of the project.

    My conclusion - rather than a criticism of anything - is that there is an opportunity to more efficiently engage the available talent pool by providing a transparent and equitable means by which participation leads to a share of the profits.

    An Open Source License could, for example, say that the project is free for development and personal use, but any commercial use would require a 7% royalty to the developers to be split according to the following schedule: ...
  • Personally i have seen my thoughts change over time. When i was a newbie to micro-controllers, i was fine and happy to pay for a $30 this or $20 that. But now as i start to have my boards made in china for cheap i realize how much i could save doing this, i realize how much others could save doing this. Building a suface mount Arduino compatible board costs me less than $10. I just tried reflowing in a toaster the other day, this was way easier than learning to solder and it turns out better. Heck i feel like i am ready to start a company. I think what opensource should be is where the profit made goes back into the project or projects. So if i was to sell a lot of boards and make profit, then spend that money making something else cool and offering that for sale at a cheap, but profit making price. No need to charge too much for something, just enough to continue doing what your doing. Why do i consider this? Because i love electronics. The little profit would allow you to continue making different things. Making your hobby self sufficient. Who wouldnt love being able to make a cool robot, sell copies of it for profit, and then use that profit to make your self a new robot and sell copies of that and so on. A self sufficient hobby, thats what i think opensource hardware should be. Never making too much money so that you have that big of a surplus.
  • As one of the many thousands of UAV enthusiasts who watch/participate in this site, I for one have no problem paying for hardware. I probably have more resources than most (i have my own engineering business with a workshop and electronics setup) but i would prefer to pay someone to send me a board for a $100 than try and clone it. Im all for sharing the burden of development with others, but i also have no problem in paying someone to make the bits that are not economic for me to make. In fact, i see it as morally wrong as a business owner NOT to pay someone for doing something beyond what can be reasonably expected from open source!!

    @David : Being an aussie and a potential supporter of your project, I admire your morals, but there is a difference between making money and providing value for money.

    I for one would not buy a ardupilot clone even at half the price for the simple fact I dont know what im getting. It may be worse or better, but i would rather stick with the hardware that is being discussed on the supporting website. The money saved buying a clone (say $10-$50) is nothing compared to the hours of time you risk mucking around with a clone that fails to work. There is symbiosis in the paid hardware/open source support software model.

    I have worked on a number of commercial startup projects, www.martinjetpack.com for one, and i can tell you that R&D is a killer. I see value in paying others to do something i cant, and sharing with others the things I can.
  • Please understand it was not a dig or anything. I would 100% remove those caps if you want Helis and Quads to behave well, on fixed wing you will be fine with them. Also, talk to Invensense, it will save some time.

    I will be surprised if the caps remain to be honest, the OP AHRS does not use them now. I also suggest buying a vibrator, seriously. You can test on the bench and the issue will be really apparent.

    All I was trying to highlight is that if you are in a race to get things out to beat clones, it gets very difficult, my consistent refrain as been it is the R&D that sunk OpenPilot. I do not disagree that it is the most tested hardware you have ever released, my point is it is HARD and you can never test enough. To really test you need decent code, this will always delay a release of the hardware, without getting the hardware out there it is not possible to get the code written, it is a catch 22. My solution has been to give all the hardware away, over 30 sets of it now, not a single person has paid for hardware that has been part of OpenPilot as I did not like the idea of people paying for something that could be faulty.

    I can give you another massive example, the MediaTek GPS, that loves a ground plane, in fact it is critical for it to perform optimally and needs to be at least the size of the top of the patch squared. Without it, it has poor performance at over 30 deg bank angles, it will badly mis-report altitude and lose a lot of sats. With the ground plane, you can fly almost upside down and get a solid fix. I know this because of hours and hours and hours of testing. We also tested the rechargeable batteries as well, these have a massive self discharge and are drained before the almanac has expired which is why we did not use them.

    I don't see anything really wrong with either approach, OP just chose to do a load of testing, look where that ended up! 6 months and still nothing out there, if it ever gets released it will be perfect but the big question is if.
  • 3D Robotics
    "I can already see an error on the oilpan with the gyro RC filters which would 100% have been caught with testing in an airframe, but it was released without this testing and got missed."

    David, that's not true. First, there is no error. We're getting different results with and without the low-pass filter, but one is not necessarily better than the other--they just need different software settings. We're still collecting massive amount of data in both quads and fixed wing and analyzing it, but at the moment do not see the need for any hardware change.

    Second, the oilpan was extensively tested in the air on quads before release and went through multiple revisions before even the beta release. This is the most tested hardware we've ever released.
  • > The only way you'll survive is by continually staying ahead of the game - which is GREAT if you can - but that sounds like a heap of stress to me!

    It is also a great way to annoy users if you do this by releasing new hardware all the time and a key goal of OpenPilot was to specifically not do this with at least an 18 month+ life cycle. Plus hardware needs testing extensively, I can already see an error on the oilpan with the gyro RC filters which would 100% have been caught with testing in an airframe, but it was released without this testing and got missed. Again, not a dig but to highlight a difference between OP and you Ardu, this is why nothing has been sold yet from OP, we need it to be perfect.

    I am not sure if you want to tell people your ideas but I am concerned a bit, how will you survive? Race to the bottom were the exact words that crossed my mind as well. I have seen the hassle MikroKopter have had for example, their license specifically forbids competing hardware but the Chinese do it anyway. It is much cheaper and in some cases way better. Additionally, MikroKopter has the brand but it does not help them much, in their case no one can post about the clone hardware on their forums, if it is sold in Europe they have legal redress. In the case of DIYDrones, this site is focused on all UAVs, it would be very difficult to stop this and it sounds like you wouldn't anyway and you license allows it as well?!?
  • 3D Robotics
    Simon, this is not a theoretical issue: the Arduino folks deal with Chinese clones every day. There are few coping strategies from them:

    1) Obviously they don't support the clones. So if it doesn't work, you're on your own. Part of what an open source hardware company/community offers is help. If you're not supporting the community, they probably won't support you. It's usually pretty easy to spot clones.

    2) One of the ways they make it easy to spot clones is to not include the logo/artwork in the Eagle files. So if you get a board that doesn't have the right logo/artwork, you're on your own.

    3) Most people want to support the community, and are happy to pay a few extra bucks for the real thing. It's seen as the Right Thing To Do.

    4) Derivative designs, where the third party makes significant changes/enhancements, is a different thing. If they really did improve on the original, that's fine. But remember, it has to remain open, so that process can work both ways, with the original team getting ideas from the derivative makers.

    5) Finally, if a product really is being made much more cheaply in China, with equal quality, that's usually a sign that it's time to let others do the manufacturing of that product, and to move on to more sophisticated or newer products, where the flexibility, speed and quality advantages of doing your own manufacturing are still significant.

    Few of us want to be in the manufacturing business. We just make our own boards because it's the best way to ensure quality and availability for our customers for fast-changing products. But if the product matures to the point that someone else can do that better, we'll happily let them (maybe reselling them ourselves) and focus on making the products where our process adds more value.

    For example, that's what we do with the ArduPilot and ArduPilot Mega boards. They sell in huge volume (thousands), so it's best to let Sparkfun do the manufacturing and selling. We, meanwhile, make the more specialized components such as IMU boards, sensors and GPS modules, which sell in smaller quantities.
  • > I'm curious why you say "I do not feel that it is right to do a for-profit". Don't you think you should be compensated for your efforts? At the very least, don't you think that your expenses should be covered by the folks that benefit from your work?

    I guess simply because it is not my work, it is the work of everyone in the project. I am just a very small part of it. The whole idea was a community and for people to get involved, I think money can cause big issues in a project like this and decided to take it out of the equation by donating my savings to it. I still think it could have worked if the R&D costs were not so much.

    Australia is a nightmare for costs, buying components here is simply out of the question, everything comes from Digikey in the US and when you factor in small orders and expensive shipping to Australia it still only a small saving over Australian prices. The R&D is also where costs can get massive as prototypes are massively expensive, so things can get out of control very very quickly.

    The idea was to sell the hardware at cost, not a loss or a profit and to have the project sustainable. It would have been cool to see how this would have turned out. Because of health reasons I can't work anyway so donating all my time isn't an issue, I was more concerned with creating some cool.

    @Simonl, sorry, I was wrong, I'm used to it actually. I think this is a fascinating approach by Chris.
  • @Chris: Thanks for the clarification.

    I guess I'm still having a hard time convincing my brain that this really can be done! I mean, it seems like it'll induce a race to the bottom (on price, and therefore possibly quality). What's to stop some (let's say) Chinese factory ripping your design; slapping their logo on it and selling it below a cost at which your company can survive?

    OK, they'll have to comply with your attribution requirements, but what will you do if they don't?

    Surely, you'll go bust and we'll all be worse off?

    The only way you'll survive is by continually staying ahead of the game - which is GREAT if you can - but that sounds like a heap of stress to me!
  • 3D Robotics
    "In short, is it OK for me to build ArduPilot clones and sell them for profit?"

    Absolutely. Indeed, allowing commercial reuse is required to comply with the Open Hardware licence that I was part of drafting and have signed. Here are the relevant passages:

    "3. Derived Works

    The license shall allow modifications and derived works, and shall allow them to be distributed under the same terms as the license of the original hardware. The license shall allow for the manufacture, sale, distribution, and use of products created from the design files or derivatives of the design files.

    4. Free redistribution

    The license shall not restrict any party from selling or giving away the project documentation as a component of an aggregate distribution containing designs from several different sources. The license shall not require a royalty or other fee for such sale. The license shall not require any royalty or fee related to the sale of derived works."

    Also note that we're currently using the LGPL and the Creative Commons By 3.0 licence, both of which allow royalty-free commerical reuse.

    If anyone wants to make and sell our stuff, they only have to comply with a few things, such as:

    --They have to retain all attribution and credit of the original authors
    --They have to keep it open
    --They have to respect any trademarks that may exist. So, in the case of Arduino, you can make and sell a clone, but you can't call it an "Arduino" without paying a royalty.
    OSHW - Definition of Free Cultural Works
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