The open source software community started the realize in the late ’90s that the principles of being able to understand the software also applied to hardware schematics. In the 2000s this evolved into companies that sell the parts you need to create your own hardware, and the designs are free. Self-replicating 3D printers are the top of this.
Arduina was started as a project to help students understand hardware.
“Civilization starter kit”: everything you need to build a village (i.e. dump trucks, digging machines, ….).
Wikispeed: open source cars
In 2010 a definition of Open Source Hardware was formulated.
Open Source Hardware Association
Open source hardware is mainly documentation; layout should be Gerber files. It’s also important to rely on readily available components.
One missing thing are readily available tools e.g. for board design.
Open source hardware differs from software in one big way: it is not collaborative. At best, the community works iteratively, i.e. a user modifies the design, sends it back the the creator; then the creator integrates a few of the proposed changes into the next iteration.
BatchPCB service: produce a few PCB boards by aggregating designs in a single run (cfr. MPW).
OSHW is almost always composed of proprietary parts (ICs). This is problematic.
OSHW end up selling mostly finished products, even if the users could just copy it and make it themselves.