I have been working as a freelance Electronics Engineer for the last 6 months. I have been using my name for the business name because that was simple. Since this blog represents my skills as an electronics engineer, I have decided to “Re-Brand” my business under the same name. Part of this re-branding, I wanted to come up with a logo.
This week I was getting a client’s prototype PCB ready to order. I decided I wanted to put a logo that represents my business (and this blog) on this PCB. A few months ago I realized the initials for the blog are P.I. I am a bit of a math geek, so I like the reference to the mathematical symbol. I also like the circular representation of iterating over a design. I was thinking of something like the recycle symbol.
Today, I kind of put the two together. I put the image of a gear around a PI symbol.
It looked good, but not quite what I wanted. KiCad has a tool that will turn a graphic image into a footprint. It’s called Bitmap to footprint. Unfortunately, I didn’t find a way to import one part of the graphic to one layer and another part to a different layer. I wanted the PI symbol to be in relief on the solder mask with copper behind it. I wanted the gear to be on the silkscreen layer. So I made my PI symbol in Gimp (a very powerful open source image editor) sized to fit nicely on a 400 x400 pixel canvas. Then I tried to add the gear and realized I didn’t have enough room, so I resized the canvas and all layers to 600×600 and then added the gear on it’s own level.
I then exported the PI symbol as a JPEG image without the gear. I converted it to a footprint with the dpi set to 1200 x 1200 and in negative mode on the solder mask layer. It took several tries to get this figured out. I then exported the gear as an JPEG image by itself as well. I converted it to a footprint also with the dpi set to 1200 x 1200 and in negative mode but on the silk screen layer. I then placed them on a bare space on the PCB and it didn’t quite look right in the 3D rendering. I realized that there was no copper under the PI symbol to give it a shiny look. So I created a square zone larger than and under the symbol and did a pour. I like the way that looks. I still needed to translate this into something that looks good on the web. Along the way I discovered that PCBNew at the bottom of the screen tells how many nets are still unconnected. Which save me some grief, the board wasn’t actually ready to send to fabrication. I fixed the unconnected nets and then ordered the boards.
I went back into Gimp and did some editing and now I think I am happy with my new logo.
The Universal programmer is still licensed under the MIT License, my new logo is not under a free license.
The TAPR Open Hardware License (OHL) is the only license I am considering that is written specifically for hardware and patent law. It requires that any derivative works be licensed the same. It requires distribution of all modified works to include the originals unmodified.
This license restricts what a developer can do with the design. I am hoping that this product has enough value to developers that they would contribute to the design. With that premise, I would not like other developers to be limited significantly on how they can use the intellectual property.
I am going to use the MIT license for both hardware and software. I don’t need patent/copyright protection on this product. Liability protection is a good thing, I intend this product to be “hackable”. Anything submitted to this blog for product design will be considered under the MIT license unless noted otherwise.
There are several flavors of the Creative Commons license. I am going to look at the attribution and attribution share alike licenses.
Both licenses are very similar to the modified BSD license and are more explicit about what rights are conveyed by the license. Both require attribution to the author without endorsement from the author.
The share alike requires any derivative works be licensed with the same license or a compatible one.
For this project, I don’t see any advantage this gives me for the final product. I hope to build and sell these programmers, but if someone else does for a decent price, I would still benefit.
I have to pick a license or make it public domain or someone else could license or patent it in a way that would restrict me or anybody else from building and selling it.
I am applying common design principals in this project. I do not believe there will be anything unique enough to patent.
The Modified BSD license is pretty much the same as the MIT license plus it prohibits using the name of the copyright holder for promotion.
I am getting most of my information about these licenses from here.
For myself, I don’t care if someone uses my name for promotion. This license doesn’t help me over the MIT license.
If someone else submits designs, or software to the project, they may use this license without any conflict with the MIT license.
The MIT license gives a lot of freedom to developers to use the intellectual property in any way they want. This includes manufacturing, selling, and modifying the design. It does not require or restrict attribution. It does give the designer some protection for liability. This is not compatible with more restrictive licenses.
The reasons I want to design this product include:
- Teaching about electronics design
- Create a low cost universal In Circuit Chip programmer
If some company picks up this design and produces it at a fair price then both objectives are met. This would create a well documented hackable device for a very reasonable price.
The MIT license for software and hardware is compatible with my goals.
If I want to integrate some other design with more a restrictive license, I would have to switch to the more restrictive license or separate the other design into a module or in the case of software a library.
I will continue to look at other software and hardware licenses.