Tag Archives: Tech

Science Enabled By Open Source Hardware

Science is a good match for the open source philosophy.


  • it tries to do things for little-to-no money
  • it doesn’t care if equipment is pretty
  • it is only focused on results
  • it needs things that are very specific that no one else in the world needs
  • it is often motivated by something other than profit

Joshua Pearce of Michigan Tech’s Open Sustainability Technology Lab is an example of where the rubber meets the road. He has nearly two dozen Thingiverse things, and most of them are awesome tools for scientists. His work has been profiled in Mighigan Tech News and Popular Mechanics. You can also read the transcript of an interview with Science Magazine Podcast here (pdf). Pearce has a paper called Building Research Equipment with Free, Open-Source Hardware in Science Magazine, but it’s behind a paywall. The summary is here.

More after the jump.

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Apertus, Open Source Cinema

The goal of the Apertus project is to create a powerful, free (in terms of liberty) and open cinema camera that we as filmmakers love to use.

That’s the vision of  Apertus, which has a significant number of contributors and seems well on the way to a “modular camera system” based on the open source cameras Elphel is producing.

Prototype Apterus camera with a tablet-PC mounted on top. By Oscar Spierenburg.

Why an open source cinema camera? Well, as Sebastian Pichelhofer explains

If you look at recent press releases from big companies you might notice the lack of real information or technical details. Marketing departments are often able to spin slightly re-worked features as something entirely brand new by making up new words, backed up with doctored images and charts which focus only on the most positive changes that seem to create the impression of great leaps in development.

For industry professionals this is a very frustrating development as they need to invest a lot of time to find out what the camera actually does by reviewing the device from each manufacturer in person or relying on trusted reviewers. Some of these reviewers are approached by the big manufacturers to create demo footage or entire films to promote their gear for them…

This is exactly why I fight for open hardware and free software: honesty. We are not afraid to explain what exactly happens inside our camera, after all Apertus is also about open knowledge and open education.

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