Open Hardware

History of the Open Hardware Initiative(開放硬體歷史)Vision(未來展望) and Mission(主要使命)

Juergen Neumann and Xavier Carcelle present the Open Hardware Initiative at the  Open Tech Summit in Taiwan 2008. Focus is the history of the Open Hardware Initiative(開放硬體歷史)、the vision(未來展望) and mission(主要使命).

Google Video:

Open Hardware from Squidbee for Wireless Sensor Networks

A couple of weeks ago I was talking with Alex about meshlium. I found out more about the project now. Last week I did an interview with Jose Luis Marina from Peopleware at a workshop of FOSS Bridge in Hanoi. Peopleware develops Osmius a very advanced monitoring tool to monitor all kinds of devices. He told me about their idea of using the open Squidbee hardware for their sensor networks. They want to be able to transfer data from sensor networks in an easy and affordable way. A scenario I see here is to use mesh networks for the transmission.

SquidBee is a project that uses an open hardware design as well as open-source software as a platform for remote control and sensing: "SquidBee is an Open Hardware and Source wireless sensor device. The goal of SquidBee is getting an "open mote" to create Sensor Networks." SquidBee uses the ZigBee self-organizing low power wireless mesh network protocol. ZigBee operates in the unlicensed 2.4 GHz, 915 MHz and 868 MHz ISM bands with data rates from 20-250 kbit/second, per channel. ZigBee is optimized for super low power operation so that the devices can be operated from battery power for long amounts of time. For long-running outdoor applications, powering the devices from photovoltaic panels would be an obvious technology choice. Using the 1mW XBee power level, the XBee maximum device-to-device range is 100 meters. At the 100mW XBee pro power level, the range is extended to 1KM. Each additional node can extend the range of the mesh network, since data passes through the nodes. (Download, June 16, 2008,

Behind the project is Libelium Comunicaciones Distribuidas, a SpinOff company of the University of Zaragoza (Spain) which has develop the ZigBee communication module. The Libelium team is formed by Marcos Yarza, Alicia Asín and David Gascón. The board has been developed by the Arduino team by David Cuartielles, Massimo Banzi, David A.Mellis and Tom Igoe. They come from different institutions in Spain, Sweden, Italy and New York (compare:


Some more info from the Squidbee wiki:

The main concepts behind SquidBee are:
* Self-powered
* Wireless Comunications
Repeat with me: "Ubiquity, Ubiquity, Ubiquity..."

How does SquidBee work?  

  1. Acquires  values from environment parameters: temperature, humidity, lightness, presence, pressure or (almost!) whatever you can sense.
  2. Operates with these values, when required.
  3. Transmits these values using a low power comsumption wireless technology (ZigBee).
  4. Sleeps until next timeout and repeats from the first stept.

Second step is not always necessary, depending of the calculations needed it may be better to make them in receiver computer to save nodes energy.

An open mote? What does it really mean? It means every part of the mote is accessible and can be studied, changed, personalized, ... From the schematic circuit to the source code of the programs that are running inside the mote.

Who is interested in SquidBee? Anybody who is researching in the environment monitoring field. This is also an educational project so that universities can offer to the students a multi-learning device. With SquidBee people can learn at the same time electronic, programation, communications... and everything in just one device.

Who is supporting SquiBee? The board inside SquidBee has been developed by the Arduino team. The communications module wich lets  the node transmit through a ZigBee module has been developed by Libelium. Both components are open hardware and they have a really strong community support. A specialized wiki related to SquidBee and the Sensor Networks  will be created soon. There, all the Arduino and Libelium tutorials and examples will be shared and other research teams will be able to exchange their knowledge with the community.

What can I do with SquidBee? The main concept is: "sense what you want where you want and transmit it".

Two configurations of SquidBee? What is it exactly? Using the same board and communications module we have created 2 kinds of SquidBee: the sensor mote and the gateway. The first one is the self-powered sensor mote and the second is the computer USB connected receiver.

Can I integrate SquidBee into a wireless 802.11 Mesh network? Yes! We have also developed an outdoor Mesh Router: MeshLium which you can use to collect the information using the ZigBee protocol and transmit it to the mesh network using the Wifi technology (802.11). (Version, May 15, 2008, 15.22,

Open Hardware: Interview with Jürgen Neumann and Marek Lindner

Jürgen Neumann, one of the initiators of, and Marek Lindner, openmoko developer and B.A.T.M.A.N. programmer, speak about the Open Hardware Initiative event Open Tech Summit in Taiwan.

OpenEmbedded BeagleBoards soon available as tax free imports from outside the EU

Talking about OpenEmbedded: The BeagleBoard will be available soon. A Motherboard with 600MHz ARM CPU + 256 MIB NAND-Flash + 128 MiB RAM + USB Host + and many more features. Details here: The price will be around 150.-US$. This matches perfectly with the new regulations of small selfimports from outside the EU. Starting from December 1, 2008 products not exceeding the value of 150,- Euros will be freed from paying tariffs and tax. Until then the limit was 22,- Euro.

Mit Verordnung (EG) Nr. 274/2008 (PDF-Datei) wurde unter anderem die Wertgrenze für die so genannten Kleinsendungen (Artikel 27 der Verordnung (EWG) Nr. 918/83 – ZollbefreiungsVO) auf 150 Euro angehoben. Bislang wurden bereits bei Sendungen, deren Wert über 22 Euro lag Einfuhrabgaben fällig – außer es handelte sich um Importe aus Staaten der Europäischen Gemeinschaft. Die angegebene Verordnung und die damit erhöhte Wertgrenze gilt ab dem 1. Dezember 2008. Damit ist eine bislang sehr enge Grenze für Eigenimporte etwa von HD-Discs aus dem Ausland gefallen. (nij/c't, 08.04.2008 08:38,

Comment of Robert Schuster: "Ich finds gut: Embedded Systeme für alle und nicht für jene, die sich
teure Evalboards leisten können und ätzende NDAs unterscheiben wollen. :)"

By the way, Robert will have a presentation on OpenEmbedded at the upcoming Linuxtag in Berlin on from 3-4 pm on Thursday May 28, 2008 in Saal London (UG), Open Hardware und freie Infrastrukturen - Unser Ziel

Juergen Neumann hat Elisabeth Rank vom Spiegel ein Interview  ueber die OpenTech-Konferenz in Taiwan vor zwei Wochen gegeben. Daraus ist ein Artikel entstanden, den ihr jetzt auf Spiegel Online lesen koennt "Freie Hardware, Die Zukunftsbastler".

In Taiwans De-facto-Hauptstadt Taipeh traf sich in der letzten Aprilwoche ein Kreis von rund hundert freien Entwicklern, viele davon Studenten, und bastelten gemeinsam an einer alternativen Technikzukunft. Unterstützt von Asus und zwei Universitäten kamen dort eben nicht IBM und Intel oder HP und Microsoft zusammen, sondern Vertreter der KDE-Entwickler (Linux-Benutzeroberfläche), von Open Pattern, der Berliner Initiative Freifunk, dem freien Geo-Informationssystem Open Streetmap oder der freien Mobilplattform OpenMoko. Die Idee zur Veranstaltung hatten Jürgen Neumann von Freifunk und Joy Tang von der One Village Foundation vor zwei Jahren bei einem Treffen der Open Hardware Initiative im indischen Dharamsala entwickelt. Letztes Jahr im Sommer wurde die Konferenz konkret beschlossen. Asus übernahm einen großen Teil der Finanzierung, Organisation und Logistik. Der Rest wurde von den Teilnehmern finanziert. (Die Zukunftsbastler, 8.5.2008, Elisabeth Rank,,1518,551818,00.html)

Wo kann ich Freifunk-Hardware kaufen?

Immer wieder wird von Newcomern die Frage gestellt, wo kann ich die richtige Hardware fuer Freifunk kaufen? Ich habe nun eine Wikiseite angelegt auf der wir Laeden sammeln koennen, die Freifunk-Hardware verkaufen:

Towards Wireless Open Hardware Routers and WLAN Servers

At the CeBIT I had the chance to talk to some fantastic folks of direct open embedded systems, a new Latvian company that is producing WLAN devices based on the GNU/Linux distributions like OpenWRT, OpenEmbedded and FlashSYS Linux.

In the video they present their devices and some show cases as well as FlashSYS, their own web based firmware for small router computers.

FlashSYS environment is a cross-operating system clent-server environment that allows developers to use existing web development skills (HTML, JavaScript, Ajax, Flash, SQLite, and Lua) to build and deploy Rich Internet Applications (RIA) for an embedded system with a very small footprint. (

direct open embedded systems is able to produce WLAN devices that can act as small web servers with currently up to 64 GB storage space.

Most of the free and open source companies presented their products in hall 5, which was packed with crowds of people. You can get an idea when you hear the background noise in the video. The interest in free and open source technologies is amazing and ever increasing.

Wireless OpenHardware

Hi all,

at the fantastic WSFII meeting during SAX at in Spain we started to specify two wireless hardware devices. There were people from various free wireless network communites from Europe and the US. We had a three hour workshop and tried to define our wish list for cheap free open source software compatible open wireless hardware. Now we are trying to find the manufacturers who is willing to build those devices.

If you have any contacts that could help, please talk to them and show them our results. The company should best sell those products direct to the communites over webshop and only ship the bulk boards in charges of 20,50,100 or more. We think, that's the best way to make them as cheep as possible.

There are quite a lot of people willing to help in e.g. software/driver-development or hardware-design. I am very positive that sooner or later some manufacturer is going to see their chance in our global movement!
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