Friday, August 13, 2010

LeafLabs Maple

So I'm a little late to the party on this one (read:  an entire year), but there's another open-source microcontroller available to the discerning DIYer that is compatible with all the Arduino add-ons (called "shields" in the 'biz).

The Maple by LeafLabs (licensed under Creative Commons) is distinct enough from the Arduino platform to deserve its own place in the microcontroller world.  Perhaps the first difference people will notice is that it's much, much, MUCH faster.  Tests by Make:Zine's staff put the update speed of the digital/analog converter, the component responsible for reading sensors and passing information to the processing unit, at 9x that of the Arduino Duemilanove.  This further opens the applications of the Maple to things like live audio editing, real-time GPS processing, and really anything that requires more bandwidth than you might want to squeeze out of your Arduino.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Trouble With Hardware

Wowwee, this blogger has had quite a week!  Between visits by old friends, trips to Brighton Beach (yes, i'm a Brooklyn boy), and attending the Mozilla Drumbeat NYC conference, I've been busier than I thought possible.

Through all the business, (perhaps because of it?) I've had some illuminating moments regarding open hardware. One of these came during a break-out session at the Drumbeat event, the wiki of which you can find HERE.  We were nothing the small turnout for our session versus the other software-based sessions and realized that most people don't recognize open hardware as a unified and cohesive concept.

Well, this hopes to change that this September, by clearly defining the term and the goals of the movement, while hopefully drumming up interest and raising awareness.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Motivation to be Open

Vision is the river, and we who have been changed are the flood.
-The Story of B by Daniel Quinn

Most of the world is not "open" in the way I mean when I write about it here.  That much is simply fact.  Those of us who are aware of openness are almost obsessed by it, though, it becomes our lives, our purpose, and fuels our passion for creation of new alternatives to the prescribed way in which we are taught to think about consumer culture.  It is false to say that those who don't subscribe to Open culture reject it with the same fervor, however.  This is also simply fact.  For the most part, people are unaware of the contributions openness has made to our world, or if they know of its existence, they perceive it with the framing it is generally given by corporate manufacturers as being less reliable, rooted in nonconformist or artsy fartsy culture, or simply not as glamorous as buying a shiny new gadget made with proprietary technology.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

What is Open? This guy's opinion

This blog is really hard to start.  For the most part, people who know what "open" means are already "in the know" regarding trends and movement within the field itself.  Most people who DON'T know what it is really need an "open 101" course before they can get into the spirit and really get their feet wet.  I want to address that latter category of people today.  So, if that describes you, then keep reading.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Open Stomp-Box Designs

In starting this post, I realized that guitar effects are a point of serious music-snob contention for me.  Most people (including myself, for a good portion of the time I've been playing guitar) find the use of switchable effects to be somewhat indispensable when playing on stage--even if you can afford studio-grade effects and time them properly, why let someone else control your tone?  The innumerable combinations of distortion, chorus, compression, delay, and wah effects give each guitarist the ability to tailor their own tone with a finite number of pedals.  Good news, right?

I want so badly to just say yes! But, the amp builder in me says, "GET YOUR TONE FROM YOUR AMP!" because this is the simplest and purest way to distill your sound. Each added bit of circuitry has the potential to suck tonality and life from your playing. And yet, who gives a s***? Music is about playing, performing, creating, and finding your OWN sound. So, even though they're not always my cup o' tea, stomp boxes have a wonderful place in the world and are a joy to build.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Quick Hit: Definition of Open Source Hardware

Slashdot reports that Open Source Hardware has been "defined" by a group of open-source hardware gurus.  Right now it is in draft form, but they desire to have it finalized by Maker Faire NYC in September (which anyone interested in free hardware should definitely try to attend!).

The draft of the document can be found here.

Starting this off with Arduino

It's tempting to begin with a plug for my business, which is really just a commercialized manifestation of my interest in open hardware, but I think that in the name of promoting an even and balanced approach to free culture, I will start with something I am not personally involved with.

The Arduino  is one of the most versatile little microcontrollers I've seen, and it's entirely open-source!  Check out their Hardware page if you're interested in building your own chip from scratch, although that requires some seriously specialized equipment.   If you'd rather, you can purchase an already-made board with a good amount of I/O at the main website, or at MakerShed, which you can access through the MakeZine link on the left of the blog.