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: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5178162784628658442

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, http://lwn.net/Articles/260223/)

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: http://www.libelium.com/squidbee/index.php?title=Who_is_behind%3F).


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, http://www.libelium.com/squidbee/)

Open Hardware: Interview with Jürgen Neumann and Marek Lindner

Jürgen Neumann, one of the initiators of freifunk.net, 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: http://elinux.org/BeagleBoard. 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, http://www.heise.de/newsticker/Goldene-Zeiten-fuer-Eigenimporte–/meldung/106159/from/rss09)

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),

Spiegel.de: 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, http://www.spiegel.de/netzwelt/tech/0,1518,551818,00.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: http://wiki.freifunk.net/Freifunk-Hardware-Shops

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. (http://openrb.com)

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.


Some more specifications of the router devices:

  • Bittorent, FTP, HTTP download clients included. Now you don’t have to leave your computer on to complete your downloads, they can be easily stored on a Compact Flash card (up to 64GB) or on external USB Flash / hard disk

  • Network OS with AJAX user interface

  • Integrated organizer with Calendar, To-do and Notes

  • RSS feed reader

  • LCD screen for displaying news, notes and current activities

  • P2P streaming media server for video and audio

  • Very rich network functionality (QoS, tunnels, routing, firewall, NAT, etc.)


  • PCI bus for wireless interfaces, video, Ethernet and other miniPCI devices

  • I2C bus for serial memory, A/D and D/A converters, temperature/voltage monitors

  • RS232/RS485 for keyboard, LCD and other devices for industrial applications

  • USB host with two ports for various serial devices from flash disks to web cameras

  • GPIO for relays, LEDs, etc.


  • RAM: up to 512 MB

  • Flash: 8 MB on-board, extendable up to 64 GB using CompactFlash

Green and energy saving

  • Fully ROHS compliant

  • Processor power consumption (typical): 0.72 W at 266 MHz


  • Hardware watchdog timer

  • Industrial temperature grade

  • ESD protected Ethernet and power ports

  • Reliable tantalum capacitors on board except for only one electrolytic cap

Software ported to

  • OpenEmbedded Linux

  • OpenWRT Linux

  • FlashSYS Linux with revolutionary AJAX interface

  • eCOS Real Time operating system

Created for

  • Wireless and wired router solutions

  • Machine2Machine (M2M) applications

  • Industrial applications

  • Home wireless AP and media servers

  • Automation devices


  • Chipset Atheros AR5414

  • IEEE Standards 802.11a/b/g (2.4/5 GHz)

  • Security Hardware 64 and 128 bit WEP; Hardware TKIP and AES-CCM encryption; WPA authentication

  • Bandwidth up to 108 Mbps

  • Modulation OFDM, TDD

Technical details

  • PowerPC processor: 266 or 333 MHz clock frequency

  • 1 or 2 ESD protected Ethernet ports

  • miniPCI sockets for 802.11 wireless cards and other expansion

  • 32-512 MB SDRAM, 64 bit wide for high memory bandwidth

  • 8 MB FLASH for system BIOS and programs

  • True IDE CompactFlash (CF) header for custom OS and applications

  • 7 to 36 V DC supply through DC jack or passive power over LAN connector

  • 2 RS232 serials ports (1 DB9 male socket), RS485 interface header

  • JTAG interface header

  • Hardware and software watchdog timers

  • LM75 thermal monitor

  • GPIO header

  • USB 2.0 host

  • I2C bus header (can be used for front panel interface)

  • 2 LEDs and 1 pushbutton switch, freely programmable

  • Board size: 115 mm x 97 mm

  • CE certified

Wireless OpenHardware

Hi all,

at the fantastic WSFII meeting during SAX at guifi.net 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!



1. Simple Node
– single wireless a/b/g radio device with support for virtual access points
– single Ethernet port with high tolerance PoE support (4-30V)
– power system must resist reverse polarity
– 4 Mbyte Flash
– 16 Mbyte RAM
– 200 MHz CPU
– serial port
– JTAG interface
– one Antenna plug (reverse SMC) and no explicit need for diversity
– for outdoor usage (which is regarded to be a standard scenario) the
board does not need a box and does not need to be shipped with antenna
and power supply
– power consumption should be as little as possible (solar systems!)

Comment: Finding the consensus on the design for the simple node was
quite easy and did not take very long. It seams that the needs and
wishes of the different groups represented by the attendees are very

2. Super Node
– two embedded wireless a/b/g radio devices with support for virtual
access points
– two Ethernet ports with standard 802.3af PoE support
– power system must resist reverse polarity
– 8 Mbyte Flash
– 32 Mbyte RAM
– 500 MHz CPU
– two USB 2.0 ports
– two miniPCI slots (both stackable up to 8 cards)
– serial port
– JTAG interface
– two Antenna plugs (reverse SMC) and no explicit need for diversity
– for outdoor usage (which is regarded to be a standard scenario) the
board does not need a box and does not need to be shipped with antennas
and power supply
– power consumption should be as little as possible (solar systems!)

Comment: Finding a compromise on the super node really was a hard time,
because there can be different ways to achieve the same goals. For
example, if wireless USB devices had a better FOSS support, many of the
super nodes could just easily be built without the need for miniPCI.
Also super nodes can be built with simple wireless bridges connected
over ethernet (high power consumption?). But anyway, after many looong
discussions the group had a consensus on the points listed above.

3. wireless USB devices
As already mentioned, super nodes could well be build using wireless USB
devices instead of mini PCI cards (less expensive cabling, less
interference between the devices). But to be able to use them, people
need FOSS drivers for them, which support all wireless modes (managed,
ad-hoc, AccessPoint), and the USB devices should have a reverse SMC
antenna connector.