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Pt 101518

@ Dangerous Prototypes Ian has a fantastic article “Editorial: Our friend Microchip and open source”

It’s great that Microchip invested in the Arduino open source IDE. Unfortunately the contributions seem to stop with support for their product. Parts of chipKIT toolchain are still closed-source, and Microchip isn’t contributing open source drivers for the highly-advertised USB and Ethernet features of the chipKIT Mega.

We buttressed this editorial by saying we’re huge fans of Microchip stuff. It’s their time-honored right to deal in closed source software – most companies do! With the chipKIT, however, Microchip wants to tap the Arduino buzz. They want promote products using the work of an open source community, but they’re not participating in the spirit of that community. It’s not illegal, it’s being a bad neighbor.

We urge Microchip to give something significant back to the community they’re tapping. Open source drivers for the chipKIT shield would be a great first step.

Read more

I have a much larger article on this topic coming out later, but I wanted to say I think it’s great to see Microchip coming in to the open-source hardware world and I’m really looking forward to them addressing some of the issues Ian outlined. Disclosure, I’m fairly certain Micrchip has sponsored MAKE in the past, present and future – at this time Maker Shed does not sell the chipKit(TM) Uno32(TM).

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Why the Arduino Won and Why It’s Here to Stay.

Phillip Torrone

Editor at large – Make magazine. Creative director – Adafruit Industries, contributing editor – Popular Science. Previously: Founded – Hack-a-Day, how-to editor – Engadget, Director of product development – Fallon Worldwide, Technology Director – Braincraft.


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Comments

  1. I am glad Make has chosen not to market this series of devices yet. Such a choice at least implies sponsorship or support for the manufacturer. IMHO, Chipkit is not yet mature enough as an organization to warrant such support, and the Maker followers would be very frustrated by this product, and even more frustrated with Chipkit support. For a couple months, I was a very active user in the chipkit community, helping to resolve issues with fellow users. Then I discovered that the only people I was really interacting with are those volunteers to are working hard to support a product that is not even theirs.
     
    After several fruitless attempts to interact with actual Digilent employees, it became clear to me that the Arduino product line was on some low heat back burner. After a couple months of silence, changes were finally made that appear to actually address many of the issues that nearly rendered the Uno useless. Even after the first couple fix releases, the solutions were often superficial and merely worked around core issues with no solid resolution in sight. To date, 100% compatibility with Arduino code and shields is speculative at best.
     
    This product has a tremendous amount of potential to the new and experienced experimenter, tinkerer, and developer. I use the Uno to control a new robotics platform, and with the latest fixes and work arounds, things are certainly (Finally) moving in the right direction (Literally!). Hopefully these issues get resolve fast, and Digilent starts to take this product line seriously, and is able to recover from the mistake of releasing a product to the market before even 75% of the core functionality was ready. This kind of thing has a tendency to turn off perspective customers immediately.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @facebook-1532473693:disqus thanks for the note and sharing this. i think with all of our help we can show that many people want to use this once some of these issues get addressed!

      oh and folks, just to be clear too the “Uno” is not the arduino uno, it’s the chipKIT Uno32. prior to launch i suggested to microchip that they do not call it uno because arduino uses uno :(

  2. I am glad Make has chosen not to market this series of devices yet. Such a choice at least implies sponsorship or support for the manufacturer. IMHO, Chipkit is not yet mature enough as an organization to warrant such support, and the Maker followers would be very frustrated by this product, and even more frustrated with Chipkit support. For a couple months, I was a very active user in the chipkit community, helping to resolve issues with fellow users. Then I discovered that the only people I was really interacting with are those volunteers to are working hard to support a product that is not even theirs.
     
    After several fruitless attempts to interact with actual Digilent employees, it became clear to me that the Arduino product line was on some low heat back burner. After a couple months of silence, changes were finally made that appear to actually address many of the issues that nearly rendered the Uno useless. Even after the first couple fix releases, the solutions were often superficial and merely worked around core issues with no solid resolution in sight. To date, 100% compatibility with Arduino code and shields is speculative at best.
     
    This product has a tremendous amount of potential to the new and experienced experimenter, tinkerer, and developer. I use the Uno to control a new robotics platform, and with the latest fixes and work arounds, things are certainly (Finally) moving in the right direction (Literally!). Hopefully these issues get resolve fast, and Digilent starts to take this product line seriously, and is able to recover from the mistake of releasing a product to the market before even 75% of the core functionality was ready. This kind of thing has a tendency to turn off perspective customers immediately.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hello,
    As Philip and many other people, whatever they are professionals, hobbyist (or both as I am, whether it’s day or night ;-), I’d like Microchip get more involved in open-source.
    However, if Microchip communicates about ChipKit, I thought it is the Digilent company that is developing the ChipKit.
    Does anybody know how far Microchip supports the Digilent product?

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Manu_T:disqus the closed items in question are directly from microchip, their code, tool chain and drivers.

      it’s unclear to me how digilent works with microchip exactly, but here is a quote from someone at digilent…

      ——————————–

      Gene Apperson says:

      August 23, 2011 at 6:04 am

      RE open source libraries: Unfortunately,
      the driver libraries for the Network Shield are based on Microchip
      Applications Library code that is not open source.

      http://dangerousprototypes.com/2011/08/22/microchip-and-digilent-create-network-and-basic-io-shields/

      ——————————–

      so no matter the relationship, digilent doesn’t call the shots. i am guessing the engineers at digilent love oshw and want microchip to open source what they seemed to have promised too.

  4. Anonymous says:

    here is what the MAL license is:

    —————————————————–
    http://dangerousprototypes.com/2011/08/23/followup-chipkit-network-shield-price-source-and-more/#comment-16155
    “Unfortunately, the driver libraries for the Network Shield are based on
    Microchip Applications Library code that is not open source. The high
    level library code (i.e. the C++ wrappers) are open source, but of
    course, they call into MAL code that isn’t open source. The source code
    is included in the distribution, but it is under the regular Microchip
    license agreement.”

    Basically, the MAL license agreement says that you are allowed

    to use the code in a commercial product without paying any license

    fees, but you are only allowed to run it on a Microchip processor,

    and you are only allowed to distribute it in binary form. You

    aren’t allowed to redistribute the source code.

    It isn’t open source, but there is very little hindrance to using it

    in a commercial product.
    Gene Apperson

    Digilent—————————————————–