Want To Build An Open Source Hardware And Software Robot? : Page 4 of 4

CES 2020 boasts of at least one open source robot, but what does that really mean?

Open Source Tools

Open-source hardware and software are essential to develop an open source robot. But design and testing tools are also needed. Several software development tools have already been covered, e.g., the robot operating systems and simulators like Gazebo. But let’s not forgot the need for the software application development aid known as the Integrated Development Environment (IDE) platform.

A typical IDE platform provides programmers and software developers with a comprehensive set of tools. IDEs are built to work with specific application platforms (e.g., Unix, Windows and Apple OS), to make it easy to write, link, compile and debug code throughout the lifecycle of software development. Some of the more well known, open source IDE’s include Visual Studio, Xcode, Eclipse, Arduino, PyCharm and others.

But what about the tools required to create the hardware, e.g., CAD and board development.

There is an active open source CAD community. In fact, most CAD vendors offer free versions of their CAD packages. All such programs provide schematic capture, bill of materials generation, netlisting, analog and digital simulation and PCB layout. The open source community tools are typically released under the GNU General Public License.

In addition to designing all of the components for a robot, you can use CAD programs to create many of them on a 3D-printer. Here are but a few of the available open source and free CAD software tools: FreeCad, nanoCAD and LibreCAD. Further, tools like KiCad help develop schematics for boards.

There you have it! If you want to create an open source robot, you really should use open source hardware, software and development tools. Just make sure you use the latest versions of these tools and be sure to share back with the open source community.

Image source: By Cedar101, Arduino IDE


John Blyler is a Design News senior editor, covering the electronics and advanced manufacturing spaces. With a BS in Engineering Physics and an MS in Electrical Engineering, he has years of hardware-software-network systems experience as an editor and engineer within the advanced manufacturing, IoT and semiconductor industries. John has co-authored books related to system engineering and electronics for IEEE, Wiley, and Elsevier. 

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