Are you still thinking of Open Source Software? Open source has innovated beyond conventional software. It’s everywhere. You imagine a thing and you’ll find it’s open source variant. In this article let’s discuss the things and places, we see open source, how it has expanded , not just in software.
Open Source in Space
Astro Pi Mission: Two augmented Raspberry Pi computers (called Astro Pis) are being flown to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of British ESA Astronaut Tim Peake’s mission. They are both equipped with the mighty Sense HAT that can measure the environment inside the station, detect how it’s moving through space, and pick up the Earth’s magnetic field. Each Astro Pi is also equipped with a different kind of camera; one has an infra-red camera and the other has a standard visible spectrum camera.
Spacelog: Spacelog is a volunteer project to bring to life early crewed space flight.
NASA World Wind: An open source 3D interactive world viewer created by NASA’s Learning Technologies project, released in mid-2004. It is now developed by NASA staff and open source community developers.
Open Luna Foundation: The Open Luna Foundation aims to return mankind to the moon through private enterprise. Initial goals focus on a stepped program of robotic missions coupled with extensive public relations and outreach. Following these purely robotic missions, a short series of crewed missions will construct a small, approximately 6 – 10 person outpost based on a location scouted by the robotic missions.
Celestia: The free space simulation that lets you explore our universe in three dimensions. Celestia runs on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X.
CSTART: The Collaborative Space Travel and Research Team (CSTART) is a non-government space agency whose mission is is to organize and finance the efforts of space enthusiasts around the world who are interested in using collaborative design, volunteer labor, innovative, low-cost technology and open data sharing to further the cause of manned and unmanned space travel and research.
Copenhagen Suborbitals, Pocket SpaceCraft, Cubesats, Far Horizons Project and many more on the crowdfunding platforms like KickStarter and Indiegogo show a lot of promise and potential.
Open Source CourseWare
OpenCourseWare (OCW) are course lessons created at universities and published for free via the Internet. OCW projects first appeared in the late 1990s, and after gaining traction in Europe and then the United States have become a worldwide means of delivering educational content.
According to the website of the OCW Consortium(now Open Education Consortium), an OCW project:
- is a free and open digital publication of high quality educational materials, organized as courses.
- is available for use and adaptation under an open license, such as certain Creative Commons licenses.
- does not typically provide certification or access to faculty.
The OpenCourseWare movement started, well many years ago in 1999 when the University of Tübingen in Germany published videos of lectures online for its timms initiative (Tübinger Internet Multimedia Server). But it was the launch of MIT OpenCourseWare at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Open Learning Initiative at Carnegie Mellon University in October 2002, that took off the OCW movement. The launch of similar projects at Yale, Utah State University, the University of Michigan, and the University of California Berkeley reinforced the movement, thereafter.
MIT’s reasoning behind OCW was to “enhance human learning worldwide by the availability of a web of knowledge“. MIT also stated that it would allow students (including, but not limited to its own) to become better prepared for classes so that they may be more engaged during a class. Since then, a number of universities have created OCW, some of which have been funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
Now, there are numerous, platforms that offer such courses. Well, you think of a field of study and you can find open courseware regarding that. One of the most popular of such platforms is edX
EdX will be a creating a platform which will be open source, not for profit, and a portal for a website where universities will offer their courses. For example, MIT courses will be offered as MITx and Harvard courses as HarvardX. – Anant Agarwal In 2012, ten years after the US debut of OCW, MIT and Harvard University announced the formation of edX, a massive open online course (MOOC) platform to offer online university-level courses in a wide range of disciplines to a worldwide audience at no charge. This new initiative was based on MIT’s “MITx” project, announced in 2011, and extends the concepts of OCW by offering more structured formal courses to online students, including in some cases the possibility of earning academic credit or certificates based on supervised examinations. A major new feature of the edX platform is the ability for students to interact with each other and with teachers in online forums. In some cases, students will help evaluate each other’s work, and may even participate in some of the teaching online.
Open Source Hardware
The hardware design (i.e. mechanical drawings, schematics, bills of material, PCB layout data, HDL source code and integrated circuit layout data), in addition to the software that drives the hardware, are all released under free/libre terms. Both free and open-source software (FOSS) as well as open-source hardware is created by this open-source culture movement and applies a like concept to a variety of components. It is sometimes, thus, referred to as FOSH (free and open source hardware).
A number of 3D Printers, Robots, Medical and Environmental devices, Electronics (most popularly Arduino), computer systems, automotive parts and even cameras are available under the Open Source hardware culture and are used and appreciated by many.
The Arduino electronics prototyping platform is arguably the most successful OSHW project out there and needs no description.
The Novena laptop – Here’s how the creators describe it: “This is not a machine for the faint of heart. It’s an open source project, which means part of the joy – and frustration – of the device is that it is continuously improving. This will be perhaps the only laptop that ships with a screwdriver; you’ll be required to install the battery yourself, screw on the LCD bezel of your choice, and you’ll get the speakers as a kit, so you don’t have to use our speaker box design – if you have access to a 3D printer, you can make and fine tune your own speaker box”
OpenROV is a OSHW project to build a remote-operated underwater robot.
DIY Drones was set up by Chris Anderson, former editor-in-chief of Wired magazine,and is now the largest community for amateur UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles).
LittleBits is an electronics prototyping platform where all the components can snap together using tiny magnets.
Sparkfun Electronics, based out of Boulder, Colorado, have been supplying electronic components and kits to the maker community for the past 10 years. Adafruit Industries is another hardware supplier to the maker community.
MakerBot Thingiverse is the largest repository of open source 3D CAD models. UltiMaker is another company that sells 3D printers.
The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer designed as a small and cheap computer for kids, but embraced by the maker community as a more powerful alternative to the Arduino. The BeagleBoard is another credit-card sized computer, introduced by Texas Instruments in 2008.
Tabby – The Open Source Vehicle, is considered as the Arduino of transports.
Poppy is an open and affordable humanoid robot to experiment with.
Helium is an Open Source, supercapacitor-powered portable Speaker.
These are just a few notable mentions of Open Source Hardware Projects, there are plenty more.
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