John Hawley

Hard(ware) Lessons Learned: Getting Started with Open Source Hardware

There’s a familiar face on

One of our most enthusiastic VMware Open Source experts, John Hawley, shared a must-read article: 8 Ways to Get Started with Open Source Hardware.

“Let’s start off by pointing out that hardware is hard, it’s complicated, sometimes esoteric and the tools you may be using are not always the most user-friendly. … Lessons are learned when things go wrong, and you usually get an interesting story to tell later.”

John Hawley, VMware Open Source Developer

In his piece, John highlights eight steps you need to take once you figure out what you want to build. Here are the first four steps to get your started:

  • Find an electronic design automation (EDA) tool. John recommended a few user-friendly options, such as Fritzing, gEDA and KiCad.
  • Design your board in the tool. For your first time around, John suggests keeping it small and simple before building up from there.
  • Export the design for manufacturing.
  • Find a board house. Ever heard of OSH Park? That’s the board house John uses for his open source hardware projects.

Four more steps remain in John’s quest to build the hardware he needs. After all:

“That’s what open source hardware is: A community of people making things and sharing them so that everyone can make their own things and build the hardware that they want—not the hardware they can get.”

Follow John’s upcoming contributions via RSS or catch him on Twitter @warty9.

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