As the Open Hardware summit approaches I’ll be posting some topics from the Open Hardware list. One of the recent discussions was about the need for more open tools (and helping folks use them). Historically the open-source hardware movement has been tool agnostic, as long as you release your design files in the tools you made them with, along with documentation, schematics, etc – you’re set. However, the goal is to ultimately have an open export format as well as open tools. I asked the list what’s needed to help tools like gEDA and John sent this along… John Griessen writes –
This is my quick description plus some by John Doty.
what is geda
gEDA is a schematic editor and netlister capable of working with many open and proprietary physical layout tools including VLSI layout, simulation. Handles making hierarchic schematics so elements can be repeated by schematic page instances placed once. The netlists it makes are a flattened hierarchy where the netlist of a subcell has its parts repeated with different names. New netlist exporters often take only a few hours of work.
A circuit board layout tool called PCB allows user interface customization just as high end tools for chips do, where a fast, experienced user enters keyboard shortcuts with left hand while mouse aiming with the right hand. Newbies can use all mouse commands. Command menus and keyboard shortcuts can be customized by editing local project directory config files to handle project specific or left handed or personal style wants. Footprint libraries can be local to a project directory or from a central library. To be sure your project is a good reference for easy reuse, local libraries can supercede central ones and the project directory can be set up so that compressing it and giving it to someone else results in a local project specific environment just as the first was when added into another users installation.
Generation of printed schematics, netists, and bills of materials can be automated by Unix-style scripting and Makefiles. These can thus be combined with other tools that create simulation results, programs, documentation making it easy to generate deliverables for a complete project, not just its electrical part.
why it matters
Because it is an effective tool, and truly open
what is needed and why
More volunteers to help document gschem and PCB, and code things like a symbol/footprint cross-tool editor and translator so the whole OSHW(open source hardware) movement picks up pace.
how to join in
See gpleda.org for information on mailing lists.