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“This has proved to be a significant oon for the evolution of Arduino as a popular platform, as users are free to build varying versions of the hardware based on their needs and budget. For instance, in the case of hardware, users can remove the USB support if it is not required and manage with the serial port interface. An on-board battery unit can also be added if a portable application has to be built. The regulator on board can also be changed to make it compatible with industrial-grade voltages,” says Ram.

“The same is the case with software. You can use the standard Arduino IDE or confgure to use the Eclipse IDE, Wiring IDE or graphical design software such as Scratch to program Arduino, which eliminates the need to write code. There are more projects of this kind in progress that would show up in future,” Ram adds.

 [stextbox id=”info”]Libraries and reference designs will make it easy for designers to integrate arduino into their electronics projects and vendors to clone these and sell variants[/stextbox]

7. Arduino licencing policies are flexible and open
Creative commons attribution (CCA), general public licence (GPL) and lesser general public licence (LGPL) mainly support open hardware and allow designers to freely share designs. As regards Arduino, some excerpts from its licensing policy are shared below:

“Embedding an Arduino board inside a commercial product does not require you to disclose or open-source any information about its design. This would give the designer a complete control of the intellectual property that he has created.

“The source code for the Arduino environment is covered by the GPL, which requires any modifcations to be open-sourced under the same license. It does not prevent the sale of derivative software or its inclusion in commercial products.

“Using the Arduino core and libraries for the firmwareof a commercial product does not require you to release the source code for the firmware.The LGPL does, however, require you to make available object filesthat allow for the relinking of the firmwareagainst updated versions of the Arduino core and libraries. Any modificationsto the core and libraries must be released under the LGPL.”

The policy clearly indicates the edge one gets with Arduino compared to other proprietary tools.

Ram explains, “Libraries as well as reference designs are the key things that any design engineer or hobbyist would like to have access to before starting with a design or project. For instance, any talk-of-the-town technology like GPS, GSM or accelerometers has ready-to-use libraries that a design engineer can instantiate with very little effort.”

Libraries and reference designs will make it easy for designers to integrate Arduino into their electronics projects and vendors to clone these and sell variants.

8. Events adding to arduino’s popularity
There have been a lot of activities around the Arduino platform in the last couple of years which have also helped in popularising it. Hacking events and workshops centred on the Arduino platform have become a common sight these days.

“Tenet has organised many events of late to encourage people to pick up Arduino,” says Ram. Yahoo! India also recently conducted a hackfest on the Arduino platform. (You can findmore details at http://arduino.cc/blog/2011/07/25/adk-android-hacks-in-yahoo-open-hack-in-bangalore/)

Can india build another arduino?
Why are some true Open Source boards not coming from India when so much is happening in this space already? To this question, Chatterjee shares an interesting observation, “We don’t see a true Indian Open Source board because as a market we are still too immature to release the core filesin the market. While people in India do build boards, we need to start building great user and developer communities around these. That is the key to the success of a good board with all the traits of Open Source. I hope the best Open Source FPGA board emerges out of India.”

Ram concludes on a positive note: “Given the Open Source trend in India and more number of hacker spaces springing up, I am hopeful that very soon some projects from India will make it into the open hardware space in a big way.” Till that happens, Arduino may well continue to reign!


The author is an executive editor at EFY

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