So we had an nontraditional but very good…

So, we had an nontraditional, but very good hangout last night during #EngineerSpeak (I think it lasted almost 2 hours). Matt, Juli, and I talked about OSHW, lessons learned from the Open Source Hardware Doc Jam, 3D printers, and the latest news from commercial space (including Blue Origins’ new contract with ULA to build a methane fueled replacement for the Rd-180 and NASA’s selection of Boeing and Space-X for the next phase of the commercial crew program).

Some interesting lessons about open source hardware documentation came up, including:

  • the OSHW community would benefit from some social norms around documentation, licensing, etc and to enforce them through social pressure (aka – if someone wants to label their project/product open source hardware, especially if they want to include the open source hardware logo, they should live up to community norms around licenses – aka do not use non-commercial licenses – and documentation standards – aka have some, and make sure it is enough to replicate the hardware in question)
  • labeling something as open source (hardware or software) should describe the past, not indicate the future; if you have not yet released documentation, then your project is not yet open source
  • better yet, we should see documentation as an ongoing and integral part of the design process

Much of the documentation discussion revolved around three documents the board is reviewing describing the fundamental assumptions and development procedures for open source hardware at Mach 30:

  • https://docs.google.com/document/d/1UVswwPGYcvW51NgS9Zsu8TxTN4tWw3lgf7Che9o_neQ/edit
  • https://docs.google.com/document/d/13v1Pk247vyg15Caef0XGGz_mztj4zWZ9Y7euLU3l6Bk/edit
  • https://docs.google.com/document/d/192_9zf7kDYMdIBcapdGduBPpd6_Q2ZpbIhOoi3cNMBQ/edit

On the topic of documentation, Matt shared a project he is working on to capture documentation iteratively during the development process. The central theme to this project is a piece of documentation is done (for now) when no one has any more questions. Central to implementing this theme is a tool that makes it very easy for someone to ask a specific question about something in documentation, have that question tag the specific something in the documentation, and then make it super easy to address that question directly in the documentation. This is a concept closely related to Mach 30’s proposed Prime Directive of open source hardware.

Finally, on the topic of 3D printers, Matt is working on an up to date, fully documented calibration guide for 3D printers, and we all shared links to printers we had seen or heard about including:

  • Orion – http://seemecnc.com/products/orion-delta-3d-printer
  • Nectar One – http://3dprint.com/15781/nectar-one-3d-printer-richrap/
  • 3DR – http://richrap.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/3dr-reprap-delta-printer-part-1-release.html
  • http://3dprinter.dremel.com/

Like I said, nontraditional (nary a single design of our own was discussed), but still a great hangout!

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#3d-printers, #documentation, #oshw