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Open-Source Hardware: A New Journey Begins

As a hardware developer, I have always been captivated by open source hardware and its potential to drive innovation to a new level. Ever since I started my hardware design journey, I have greatly benefited from the hardware community and online resources. However, until now, I haven't had the opportunity to fully dive into this world and contribute to the open source community in a meaningful way.

But that's all about to change this year. Over the past few months, our team at SoftCircuits has been reassessing our priorities and we have come to the conclusion that it's time for us to start making a real impact in the open source hardware community.

Our hardware product journey started with proprietary design and Codevision instead of Arduino (Arduino wasn’t that popular or widely available in those days). And the thought of extensive documentation needed to make our projects usable by others, always held us back.

And even though we have made some of our projects available online in the past, but with the client projects and our own products, we could never take out the time to properly maintain those repositories.

However, as more and more clients began requesting products built on Arduino, we too became comfortable with its ease of use. And since we had learnt embedded systems the hard way, working with Arduino was much easier. As a result, we started building some of our hobby projects on the platform.

And this year, we have finally decided to make open-hardware one of our main focus areas. This means that we will be dedicating equal time to client projects, our own products, and open-source hardware projects.

Here are some of our upcoming Projects

  • Solar Charger Module :

We recently designed a solar charger circuit for an outdoor IOT device. Our goal was to run the device using a small 5V solar panel during the day and a lithium ion battery at night. After testing several charging modules found online, we found that none of them met our requirements. So, we decided to design our own solar charger controller with features that would make charging more efficient.

  • GRBL Plasma CNC Controller Board :

GRBL is a popular open-source CNC Controller based on Arduino that is used for CNC milling, laser cutting, 3D printing, and more. However, its firmware did not have provisions for a Torch Height Controller, which is a crucial component of Plasma CNC. When our customers started asking for a cheap alternative to the Mach3 controller, we decided to create a GRBL controller that could support the THC.

  • Air Sampler Device :

We had built an air sampler device for the IISER Bhopal Ecology Lab to help them collect volatiles samples for their research. When they asked us to make the hardware documents publicly available, we agreed to do so. But we never really got around to update it. This year, we plan to update the hardware and firmware for that too.

The fourth project is yet to be decided, but we will update you once we have finalized it.

I'm really excited to take on this new challenge and can't wait to see what the future holds. Stay tuned for updates on our progress, and feel free to reach out if you're interested in collaborating on open source hardware projects.

And if you're a hardware enthusiast looking for some exciting open-source hardware projects, be sure to subscribe to our blog posts or follow us on social media to stay updated.

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