Author Archives: michael

OSHWA Certification 2.0

via Open Source Hardware Association

After almost a year and a half of community discussion, OSHWA unveiled the Open Source Hardware Certification Program at the 2016 Open Hardware Summit.  Today, with the help of a major grant from the Sloan Foundation, we are excited to announce that we are taking major steps towards Certification 2.0.

The original certification program has some fairly straightforward goals.  It is designed to make it easy for creators to identify their hardware as compliant with the community definition of open source hardware, as well as make it easy for users to know that hardware that is advertised as “open source” meets  their expectations.  The certification process gives a creator confidence that they have done everything required to call their hardware open source.  The certification logo gives users confidence that they will be able to access, build upon, and hack any hardware that they receive.

We didn’t know what to expect when we launched the certification program and have been blown away by the results.  There are currently 170 certified hardware projects from 18 countries on 5 continents participating in the program.

While we are excited about the certification program, shortly after it launched we started thinking of ways to improve it.  The current interface built on a combination of google forms and wordpress is functional, but not necessarily elegant.  Once the process was live, we also started getting feedback from users on ways to make it better.  One major concern was that the registration process exists in a bit of a vacuum.  It asks the creator to verify that she has complied with all of the requirements but does not provide very much guidance on the best ways to comply or the various choices that can be made and still comply.

For the past year we have been working with the Technology Law and Policy Clinic at the New York University School of Law to create more robust guidance to help creators navigate the licensing, documentation, and other decisions that creators must make when they are working towards certification.  We have also been working with the team at Objectively to turn that guidance into an interactive process that draws on examples from the community.

The grant from the Sloan Foundation allows us to take that work and turn the certification into a much more robust and useful resource.  We are hoping to have the new site ready to launch by the 2018 Summit.  Until then, please let us know if you have thoughts, ideas, or concerns.  We are very excited about the next chapter of the Certification Program and hope you will be too.

2017-2019 Board Nominees

via Open Source Hardware Association

Become an OSHWA member today to vote on nominees!

This year, we have 3 open seats on the OSHWA board. Board members will hold a 2-year position. Once board members have been chosen by the community, the board will appoint a President, VP, and Secretary. As every nominee answered “Yes” to having 5 hours a month to give to the board, we did not include that question in each nominee’s data. Board responsibilities include fundraising, advising on goals and direction, and carrying out compliance of the organization’s purposes and bylaws. The vote will be open on Oct. 14th through Oct 21st. Members will be emailed a link to vote. Here are the nominees in alphabetical order:


Why do you want to be on the board?

I’ve been involved and worked with many nonprofits and NGOs doing projects like monitoring illegal waste dumping, monitoring water quality in the Himalayas, radiation monitoring in Japan, etc. All of those projects have used open source hardware in some form because the designs could be rapidly put together, deployed, and assessed. Crises are becoming the norm and I believe open source hardware will play a crucial role to prevent, mitigate, or assist aid workers and victims during those times. I’d like to give back to the open source hardware community for all the benefits I’ve received as well as help guide OSHW and OSHWA towards more cooperation with nonprofit humanitarian and aid agencies.

What qualifies you to be a board member?

I’ve been designing open source hardware for the past ten years and have run an open source hardware company for the same amount of time. I think it’s important for OSHWA board members to understand the value of OSHW and how that translates into commercial value for their companies. I’ve put together or have been involved putting together four hackerspaces (Tokyo Hackerspace, Mothership Hackermoms, Knowledge Garden Dharamsala, and HackerFarm) and understand the importance of building, maintaining, and growing community. I’ve also worked with, consulted, and put together open hardware projects for groups like UNESCO, World Bank, and IAEA and believe that it’s important to reach out and educate NGOs doing important work to the benefits of open source hardware.

Will Caruana

Why do you want to be on the board?

I want to be part of something bigger then my self. I feel that I will add an outside perspective. I don’t work in any industry that produces goods but I live in that maker space of the communitte.

What qualifies you to be a board member?

I served as president of a non profit for 5 years it’s the Friends of Wilbraham Public Access. I was the chairmen if the Board Band Committee which was able to set up a municipal corporation that sell fiber optic services to ISP’s. I also love make things currently I like making high voltage projects like my demo fusion reactor which currently produces a ball of plasma in a vacuum. I am also running the fun with high voltage workshop at the Hackaday Superconference because I like helping people learn and work with high voltage.

Caleb Cover

Why do you want to be on the board?

I want to give back to the open source community and movement that I so passionately believe in. My exposure to the role of community manager has ignited a desire to serve the organization at a higher level. Having worked for one of the largest open source hardware firms, Aleph Objects, Inc. I believe I have valuable experience and insights that will benefit OSHWA. I want to influence the future direction of OSHWA and ensure its continued viability and growth in all areas it services. In particular, I am interested in serving on the Summit and Certification Committees and would step up to be the Sponsorship Chair for the next summit.

What qualifies you to be a board member?

I am an all-around open source enthusiast, maker, and award-winning artist. I have been responsible for bringing in and developing new technologies related to libre hardware 3D printing, virtual reality, and efficient digital production pipelines for the roles filled over the last decade. I have been active in the maker and open source communities for over 15 years. I have juggled full time employment while attending high intensity condensed programs like The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School (DAVE School). I have been selected to function in a teaching capacity as well as an industry role. I have a proven ability to perform multiple functions at one time. The diversity of my interests, awards and experience in the open source community are reflective of my unwavering dedication to the open source mission. My proven work ethic as an OSHWA employee and broad experience in the industry uniquely qualify me to serve on the board of OSHWA.

Arielle Hein

Why do you want to be on the board?

I work and engage with a vastly diverse range of different communities, but one of the primary overlaps between these groups is that they all rely heavily on open source tools, hardware in particular. I am extremely passionate about building bridges between the arts and engineering, and making this cross-disciplinary work more accessible to a broad range of makers – to artists and women especially. I love to create, hack, and teach all things open source – but as much as I’m excited about exploring emerging technologies, the thing that drives me most is the way that sharing knowledge is an opportunity to build connections between people. I am excited about the prospect of more direct engagement within the Open Source Hardware community, and eager to assist in continuing to extend the mission of this organization.

What qualifies you to be a board member?

Since my time as a graduate student at ITP NYU, I have worked extensively with Open Source Hardware and have engaged with the community consistently since then. In my current role as an Instructor at the University of Colorado, I teach interaction design and physical computing courses that rely heavily on open source tools. Beyond skill acquisition, my philosophy as an educator focuses on the importance of knowledge sharing, documentation, and collaboration – notions that I will bring to my contributions on the board of OSHWA. I also have extensive community organizing experience through my ongoing work as the Coordinator of ITP Camp. I am a strong communicator (and listener!) and very organized and responsive in all correspondence. I am extremely excited about the opportunity to serve not he OSHWA board and am hopeful to deepen my contributions within this community. I am glad to answer any questions via email from anyone in the community regarding my qualifications or interest in this role!

David Li

Why do you want to be on the board?

I am currently the executive director of Shenzhen Open Innovation Lab which is a government supported platform to promote and facilitate the collaboration between the Shenzhen open hardware ecosystem and the global makers and open source hardware groups. Prior to SZOIL, I also started the research hub Hacked Matter with two collaborators to study global maker movement and open hardware ecosystem in Shenzhen and publish our findings. Shenzhen open hardware ecosystem is currently a 100 billion industry and the insight into how this ecosystem was developed and structured could contribute the future growth of the global open source hardware development.

What qualifies you to be a board member?

I have been an open source and free software contributor since 1990 on various of projects. Ardublock I developed in 2012 is one of the most popular graphical development environments for Arduino. I have been doing research in the area of open hardware ecosystem in China since 2011. In my previous role as the director of ObjectWeb an European based open source software consortium in 2003-2006, I contributed to the joint effort between ObjectWeb and major Chinese open source software projects. I can bring new insights to the board and help bridge the global open hardware and the open ecosystem in China.

Narcisse Mbunzama

Why do you want to be on the board?

I want to bring my experience and knowledge on open hardware and related issues with a special view on technical and organizations development. As a citizen of the democratic republic of Congo, I wish to represent the global south in the board, to bring valuable contribution and inputs finally to help achieve the open hardware association mission.

What qualifies you to be a board member?

I hold a master degree in computer science and technology innovation and I am a fellow of the international telecommunication union and member of several technology innovation organizations around the world. I’m a serial award winning tech innovator and I conduct researches on standards for open hardware, design of system and related issues. With my background and experience, I personally believe that I am a qualified candidate to join the board and i will bring valuable inputs and contribution in the board.

Chris Osterwood

Why do you want to be on the board?

I am a longtime user of Open Source Hardware and have benefited from it greatly. I want to return that favor and help others benefit from OSHW. I’m a mechanical engineer by training and I chose that educational path because I was fascinated and captivated by the mechanical world. I gained tremendous design insight and experience by taking apart my toys as a child — in fact my favorite store sold broken junk by the pound. Being able to see how my toys worked gave me interest in designing new products. Since college, I’ve learned electrical design through study of open source hardware schematics, bills of materials, and design journals. I now see that I’m repeating my childhood but in digital circuit design — learning new skills and design strategies by interrogating what others have made. And without OSHW, without published schematics, this kind of interrogation and subsequent learning is much more difficult. What I’ve learned has allowed me to start my own company, Capable Robot Components, which will be releasing a line of OSHW products aimed at changing the make vs buy decisions that makers of unmanned ground robots currently face. I want to be on the OSHWA board to further its mission and to help others benefit from OSHW as I have.

What qualifies you to be a board member?

I’m not sure quite how to answer this question. But, I understand and am interested in organization building — for example I’m on the steering committee of the Pittsburgh Robotics Network, which is becoming a 501c6 organization. I am embracing OSHW with the products I’m designing at my company. I have functional knowledge in hardware design, embedded software, web software, marketing, and law. I enjoy teaching and speaking — I’ve given talks on law & robots (Practicing Law Institute) and how we tested 3D sensors at my previous company (Embedded Vision Summit and ROSCON). I listen. I try to make well reasoned decisions.

Jeff Paranich

Why do you want to be on the board?

My low-level coding interests for the past 20 years have led me to hardware design, and the colossal reward of holding a tangible, physical item, in your hands that can be shared with others to extend upon and use in their designs. While programming low-level in itself is still fulfilling, the thought that everyday consumers can build their own commercial grade products with all the distributor resources available today is truly phenomenal. Curiously, the knowledge that such a movement exist is not known by the general population. One simply envisions big factories, assembly lines, and blue-chip organizations being the sole innovator and originator; when in reality there are compelling and pioneering designs being done by small organizations and private individuals in their own homes. I believe this is a tragic mindset; the homebrew and maker community was strong in the eighties, there was a general knowledge it existed by all and anticipation of an upcoming wave to pave the future to new technology. I can attest that today open hardware has, and will continue to gain, a lot of momentum – and is strongest it has been in two decades – but may continue to be eclipsed by large organizations that keep much of their business proprietary. Canada, my home country, has a very strong post-secondary system; world-class Computer Science and Engineering schools, however outside of BioWare and BlackBerry there has not been much traction in STEM corporations, small business’, nor makers in the nation, I believe due in part to organizations such as OSHWA not having a strong enough presence to inform and encourage innovation and open source/hardware from early on and to general masses. Thus, I desire to be on the board to expand awareness of the Open Source Hardware Association and inform and educate those who are not aware of what it represents. I pledge to attend fairs or events, fundraise well beyond the expected $300 as it is not enough, and provide meaningful input on the Board of Director meetings. I also believe the best protection for OSHWA’s future is committing resources to youth at early ages, expanding their mind into hardware before they move onto post-secondary or private studies – even presenting hardware as a valid field of self-study that can merit much personal success with all the open source resources available today. OSHWA is the strongest association and best bet right now to incite change, grow the movement further, and ensure the hardware community story remains a rich and colorful one. It would be an absolute honor to be part of the team and ensure its continued success.

What qualifies you to be a board member?

I hold dual degrees from the University of Alberta- Bachelor of Science in Computer Science & Bachelor of Science in Actuarial Mathematics, with a minor in Business. I have been a projects controls manager for over two billion dollars in heavy oil projects; managing revenue, cost, margins, scheduling and progress completion. When I am not managing projects, I am designing hardware in my workshop. My most common projects typically involve power supplies, FPGA boards, video processing ADC/DAC boards, and audio amplifiers. Furthermore, I have coded a multitude of company software programs – software as simple as employee in/out of office interfaces, to estimating software for piping fabrication, to invoicing software which neared that of a full ERP system. I have a thorough knowledge of C++, C and the Unix tool set (Awk, Sed, etc), and believe in the Unix philosophy of building simple, short, clear, modular, and extensible code that can be easily maintained and repurposed by developer’s other than its creators. I can operate under tight deadlines and sometimes unrealistic deliverables, accepting the challenge and looking forward to the feeling of reward once finished. Lastly, I am co-founder of a successful videography company in Alberta (J&C Media Corporation), managing employees and finances and scheduling – also doing occasional filming myself in the field for corporate and private events. All said my past is very multi-faceted, I have a multitude of exposure to many elements at various business levels and have been successful to date with a clear, structured framework to how I approach things and would apply all my techniques to ensure the continued success of the Open Source Hardware Association.

Nick Poole

Why do you want to be on the board?

I’ve always been a proponent of OSHW and other Free and Open initiatives and I believe I finally have the free time and bandwidth to get involved with steering the ship. I’m also interested in talking to other board members and learning from their perspectives.

What qualifies you to be a board member?

I’ve worked for SparkFun Electronics for almost 7 years where I’ve had the opportunity to see open hardware from a number of perspectives: as a marketing professional, a community discussion leader, and a designer and maintainer of open hardware projects. I believe that my work experience combined with my unique personal perspective and affinity for facilitating and mediating discussions could make me a valuable member of the board.

OSHWA 2017-2019 Board Nominations Open!

via Open Source Hardware Association

OSHWA is looking for 3 new faces to join the board of directors for the Open Source Hardware Association. The nominee form is for self-nominations only. Please fill out the nominee form to become a nominee or forward the link to someone you want to nominate. Do not fill out the form for someone else. The purpose of this form is to tell voting members why you want to server on the OSHWA board. We will be publish the nominees and their answers on Oct. 12th. Board members hold a 2-year position. Once board members have been chosen by the community, the board will appoint a President, VP, and Secretary. Board responsibilities include fundraising, advising on goals and direction, and carry out compliance with the organizations purposes and bylaws. See the board member agreement to get a sense of the responsibilities. Board members are expected to adhere to the board attendance policy and come prepared having read the board packet. Board members are expected to spend 5-10 hours of time per month on OSHWA. Nominees can meet current board members who are present at the Summit on Oct. 5th to ask questions or submit questions to Nominations will be open until Oct. 12th.

Nomination Form

Member voting will take place Oct. 14-21. Want to vote in the election? Become a member! Please note that only individuals can vote, corporate members cannot.


Open Source Hardware Certification IDs Are Live!

via Open Source Hardware Association

Last month at the Open Hardware Summit we announced the start of the OSHWA open source hardware certification program.  Part of that program involved issuing unique IDs (UIDs) for each piece of registered hardware.  Since we knew that low numbers would be hot properties, we decided to wait until the end of October to assign them.  That allowed us to give every piece of hardware registered in the month of October a chance for the lowest possible number.

Today, thanks to the good people at, we have assigned those UIDs to all pieces of hardware registered before the end of October.  We have also started assigning numbers sequentially for all pieces of hardware registered since November started.  You can see all of the registered hardware  here.

There were 60 different projects registered from 9 different countries.  Want to get your own UID?  Register here!

Update on Certification Mark Logo

via Open Source Hardware Association

A couple weeks ago, we made a call for ideas for a logo to be used in OSHWA’s upcoming Open Hardware Certification program, and we got some great submissions. From these, we’ve selected a handful of especially promising ideas and we’ll be sending a survey to OSHWA members shortly to solicit input on these, narrowing down the ideas towards a final logo.
You can become a member of OSHWA here:
Thanks again to those who submitted ideas, and we’ll have some more news for you soon!

What OSHWA is – and is not – Trying to do with the Open Source Hardware Certification

via Open Source Hardware Association

Last weekend, during the Open Hardware Summit, OSHWA unveiled version 1 of the Open Source Hardware Certification.  This certification was the result of a community discussion process that began back on June 2nd and continues to this day.  Since the announcement there has been a great discussion about the certification, including on Hackaday (including in the comments), in the comments for the original announcement, and on the Evil Mad Scientist blog.  Those discussions have raised some concerns and shed light on some potential misunderstandings, and it seemed reasonable to begin to address both with a blog post.

First, OSHWA appreciates that the community takes this proposal seriously enough to discuss and debate it in the first place.  It is called version 1 for a reason, and we pushed it forward knowing that it would inevitably evolve over time.  That being said, we feel that the current proposal addresses many of the concerns that led to the start of this process in the first place.

What the Certification is Not

The OSHWA certification is not designed to place restrictions on the use of the term “open source hardware” or to restrict how people use the open source hardware open gear logo.  Nothing in the proposal requires anyone to use the certification, or gives OSHWA the power to sanction a project that decides – for whatever reason – that the certification is not for them.

The certification is not designed to force everyone doing open source hardware into a single box, or to exert exclusive control over the world of open source hardware.  Such a task would be impossible, and counter to the purpose of OSHWA.

What the Certification Attempts to Do

Instead, the certification process is designed to be an addition to the open source hardware landscape.  It is being created to address a concern that has been raised a number of times by the community – easily the #1 request we get from the community and OSHWA members.  In Windell Oskay’s post about the certification on Evil Mad Scientist, he accurately sums up the problem:

“But there is something [] rotten, deeply rotten, in the world of open source hardware. And that is that the label “open source hardware,” either in words or represented by the OSHW logo (the keyhole-gear thing above) has been misused so much that it can’t really be trusted.

If you put that label on a piece of hardware, we might expect that this hardware meets the open hardware definition. The definition specifies (amongst other things) that you should be able to obtain the original design files (the “source”), and use them without a “noncommercial use” restriction (the “open”). But it seems like every day I hear about some drone, robot, or development board that turns out to be OSHWINO —Open Source Hardware In Name Only.”

This problem has a number of causes, including some of the licensing challenges related to open source hardware.  Regardless, the certification was the result of OSHWA trying to find a way to give both creators and users of a piece of hardware a degree of certainty that hardware that called itself open source hardware actually complied with a commonly understood definition of open source hardware.  That is, while anyone can call themselves open source hardware, only hardware that actually complied with the rules set out by OSHWA could call itself OSHWA-certified open source hardware.

The Value of Certification

There is no intrinsic value in certification.  For users, it only matters if they feel that a certification provides them with useful information about a piece of hardware they are considering spending time with.  For producers, it only matters if they believe that people will look for the certification and care if they find it.

Neither of these results are inevitable. Fortunately, if it turns out that the certification is not useful to people, it dies a quiet death of neglect.

OSHWA believes that – properly executed – it will be useful.  That is why we are spending the time to create it and present it to the community.  But it may be that there really isn’t a demand for a way to know that open source hardware complies with a commonly held definition of openness.  Or it may be that there is a demand for such a thing, but that this certification isn’t the right way to achieve it.  In either case, OSHWA will go back to the drawing board to try again.


Some members of the community have raised concerns about the enforcement mechanism for noncompliance, specifically the fines.  As was explained in the presentation at the Summit, the enforcement mechanism is an attempt to balance two competing concerns.

On one hand, there has to be a way to punish bad actors who use the certification without complying with it.  That punishment must be significant enough to deter abuse.  Escalating fines are a good way to do that.

On the other hand, we are in the early days of open source hardware and there are not well established ways to apply the definition and best practices to every situation.  In light of that, it is critical that creators acting in good faith have plenty of opportunities to discuss their goals and work towards a resolution before penalties are applied.  The earliest stages of enforcement are designed to create that space.

OSHWA believes that the enforcement process outlined in the certification balances those two concerns.  When reading the certification, it is important to remember that no one has to use the certification and that OSHWA has neither the interest, power, nor authority to punish projects that simply describe themselves as open source hardware and/or use the open gear logo.  The entire regime only applies to projects that decide to opt in to the certification process.

Where We Go Now

The first hard part was taking a proposal through a process of community feedback and discussion.  The next hard part is developing the legal license that will make the system described in the certification document enforceable for projects that opt in.

The execution of this next part is important as the development of the specification itself.  We are cognizant of that, and are doing our best to create licensing language that is clear, approachable, and accurate.  Part of doing that means being as transparent as possible about the process, and open to community feedback.  That is why we launched this idea with a call for community input, and why this blog post exists today.

If you have concerns about the proposal, let us know.  You can use the comments below, contact us, or open a discussion in the forums.  In the meantime, we’re going to focus on finalizing the certification process and not screwing it up.