April 17, 2021

Open Source Hardware Month!

2 min read
It’s October, and that means it is Open Hardware Month! The Open Source Hardware Association...

It’s October, and that means it is Open Hardware Month! The Open Source Hardware Association (OSHWA) takes each October to highlight various things in the OSHW world, and this year the focus is on Label and Certify. The Label section is about how to identify OSHW products and how OSHW manufacturers should label their hardware; the Certify section is all about the OSHW certification process — what’s required, how to apply, and what it means to be OSHW certified!

The OSHWA offers a really neat tool that they call the Facts generator. It helps you generate a nice SVG graphic that shows exactly what licenses apply to your hardware, software, and documentation. The defaults are the CERN Open Hardware License for hardware; the GNU Public License 3.0 or later for software; and Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 4.0 for documentation. It’s very easy to modify; for example, I could use this for the way I license my personal projects:

This is a great way to mark your projects as open-source. Simply take the generated code, paste it into a blank text document, and then save it with an .svg extension. You can then use a program like GIMP or Inkscape to export it as PNG for use on websites, or a tool like svg2mod to import it into your KiCAD projects, for example. Clearly stating your choice of licenses is an important step in getting your hardware project certified as OSHW!

The other focus of OHW month this year is Certify: what is required to certify a project as OHW with the OSHWA?

  1. The software must be released under a license that is approved by the OSI
  2. The hardware design must be released under an open-source hardware license; eg, CERN, Solderpad, TAPR, etc.
  3. Documentation must be released under a Creative Commons license
  4. All files must be available in the preferred format for making changes — schematics must be available in .sch format, not PDF, for example
  5. There cannot be any restriction on commercial usage for any part of the project (the CC license cannot be No-Commerical, for example)
  6. You must provide the OSHWA with your contact information and all relevant information about the project, as well as agree to the OSHWA Certification Mark License Agreement

Make sure you fully read and understand the Certification Process section of their website — it gives detailed information and examples of how and why you might want to make your hardware open source! The FAQ is also a great source of information.

This month, we will be highlighting various Tindie products that are OHW Certified! Take a look at the entire list of OSHW Certified Products here!

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