empowering people through technology
Whilst it's easy to collaborate around the source code of software on the Web, it is much more difficult to share the plans for hardware as CAD (Computer Aided Design) or EDA (Electronic Design Automation) software is often required. Furthermore, designs published online frequently omit important information or come with uncertain rights. There are efforts to address some of these issues with 3D design, but little is being done for EDA.
Solderpad will provide an online platform for publishing electronic designs in a clear and consistent manner and that enables viewing projects without the need to install EDA software. Rather than attempting to implement new EDA tools in the browser, the project will support the import of existing popular file formats. Thus lowering the barrier to participation and ensuring compatibility with many existing open source projects.
In support of driving reuse and enabling building on the work of others, there will be search and tagging functionality and the licensing for a project will be clearly indicated. Simple in-browser collaboration features will enable users without access to EDA tools to contribute to projects via documentation and annotated feedback.
The principle measure of project impact will be adoption; success will be largely proportional to the number of active projects that Solderpad hosts. Other measures will include usage across hackspaces, higher education and industry.
Subsequent to the initial site being developed and going live, funding will be sought to further research key concepts and to support the development of additional functionality. For example, an opportunity exists to develop an open data resource for electronic engineers that would serve to expedite the design process. This resource would involve the same community of users and would enjoy a symbiotic relationship with the main site.
Solderpad will provide a service that is free of charge to open source projects, however, a possibility exists to simultaneously offer a paid-for service to companies that wish to collaborate in private on proprietary projects. Further developing the site to support a marketplace for open source hardware may also provide source of income, as may statistical analysis of interest to component manufacturers.