I am aware that the following statement might upset some. And yet, open source is something that I truly do believe in. Working on this project, I have come to the interesting realization that there is a difference between design for manufacturing and design for open source that makes not every project the ideal candidate for open source.
Bear me with.
The way I see it, the interest of open source is maximized when the majority of people can actually make use of the published resources, with the least amount of extra steps as possible. It is not good enough to make a product, and say "oh, by the way here are my files", I believe it is important to push things a step further by saying "and this is how you could do it, you, an individual".
And this is what a majority of projects that I see manage to do. But when, in the early stages, I asked myself how I could open source this project, I found myself confronted with a contradiction: the same technical choices that I was making to make this an appealing product where going to prevent people from making an immediate use of what I would share.
In particular, let's take the following three examples:
- The CNC-machined aluminum body that makes for a compact and robust device, and allows for an assembly that doesn't require screws to go through the small and crowded PCB is something that would likely be in the order of ten times the price of a 3D-printed part, for a quantity of one.
- The depth milling of the circuit board that allows to place the thermocouple to digital converter as close as possible to the tip connector in order to improve accuracy is an option that very few circuit board manufacturers offer at a prototype level and / or reasonable cost.
- The use of an STM32 over an ATmega microcontroller because of the added features for a lower footprint allowed to keep the circuit board and therefore the device small. But it also meant a higher learning curve for someone coming from a community of makers, used to the Arduino environment.
So, I decided to make the scope of this project twofold:
- Creating, manufacturing and commercializing an efficient, compact, finished product.
- Releasing a slightly modified version with all the files accessible so that anyone could clone, adapt to their needs, make, and improve.
I fully intend to document both aspects. And I realize this means more work for me compared to just making one device. But I do believe this is the best way to go. Let me know what you think.