The Not So Fun Stuff
It's been a while since my last log update. A month ago I started down the road of finalizing the application for my U.S. 501c non-profit status and the accompanying LLC structure. The Open Source Maritime Instrument Project will be released under GPL version 3.
This process is tedious and required that I get my technical plans to the point where I could reference the other open source projects my project will use for certain functions.
One of my main core components touches many other modules in my basic block diagrams. In mid March an open source project that developed the hardware and software I plan to integrate under GPL3 suddenly stopped selling hardware which was already restricted. The news dropped in early May that no further hardware would be available for the foreseeable future.
It will be impossible to integrate a open source design if there is no way to bench test hardware I've been trying to obtain for more than one year. The admins of the project refuse to supply either a schematic or cad file of the boards.
This leaves me with the option to redesign the project core entirely or buy a used unit and reverse engineer the hardware. Reverse engineering hardware, even if it is allowed under the license, is scorned by nasty and threatening moderators who have kept me away from their forums by abusing their position and other members trying to obtain hardware.
Right now I'm reviewing my options, hopefully good news will come later this week.
The Fun Stuff
There have been few updates because April and early May were very busy. The main goal of the project is to design and present a central module that has everything a boat needs for safe basic operation. Modules will be added for "missions" like fishing or subsea exploration. It will be exciting to see what the community requests and designs. Everything in the project will be open source and we will have strong documentation on our eventual wiki about how to build things.
My base protocol is going to be Robot Operating System (ROS) developed by Willow Garage because it's powerful, flexible, and of course open source. Plus, it hands off data directly to another device rather than routing it in ring fashion like most other marine protocols, which are closed and expensive standards so I don't know (wink) for sure.
Even the IMO SOLAS convention is closed and costs thousands of dollars for my intended use. Once some additional admin stuff is settled we will have a proper website and crowd source campaign. Please do comment on the project, it helps immensely to know people are interested. The project is a bit premature but the HAD prize money would give us a good launch.
ROS is my choice since diverse maritime assets from navigation beacons on land to SAR satellites use different protocols. A truly universal system must be able to integrate everything from big industry players to one person workshops.
Another reason for ROS is the plan for autonomous functions on board vessels of all sizes. This added layer of sensing and security is missing in commercial products and is something that is requested by my clients quite often. Plans for a remote sensing and automation module will be released shortly after the main core system.
Look for more posts to this log going forward. Schematics are drawn for the original configuration and just to be safe I'm making back up plans with a workaround for the unavailable hardware designs.
I'm not going to identify the open source project that is obstructing my access to hardware designs in hope we can come to a quick and fair resolution.