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Re: [Discuss-gnuradio] USRP design is free

From: John Gilmore
Subject: Re: [Discuss-gnuradio] USRP design is free
Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2011 02:18:54 -0800

>                           If you thought you bought a motherboard
> from Ettus under the terms that you were getting schematics and PCB
> files and blah blah blah, fine.  If you didn't get them, point to the
> line item on the receipt or the clause in the contract and take it up
> with Ettus.

I don't understand why people are complaining that the Ettus Research
board designs aren't free.  They are free.  Matt publicly announced
that he intended to release them under the GPL.  Right up to this
day, the schematics (in PDF) are trivially downloadable from
http://www.ettus.com by clicking "Download" on the homepage.  Even the
schematics for their brand-new products like the N210.

Now I will admit that in the past, Matt and Ettus Research provided
not just PDF schematics (that you'd have to re-enter manually into a
schematics editor) but also netlists, ".sch" files, a BOM, etc.  They
never published layout files for directly making your own boards.

I don't know when or why the policy changed, and all that were left
were PDF schematics.  "Printed" PDF schematics certainly don't qualify
as the source code under the GPL (which defines source code as the
preferred format for making modifications).  There was some discussion
on the list at the time of the National Instruments acquisition, in
which Matt basically said, sorry, was reorganizing the web site and
mislaid 'em.  Does anyone know if they ever came back after that

Being less of a trust-the-web kind of guy than some (after being
burned by various things disappearing on me), I saved a copy of the
original USRP1 schematics from its 2005 release:

  Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2005 11:45:10 -0800
  From: Matt Ettus <address@hidden>
  To: address@hidden
  Subject: [Discuss-gnuradio] USRP schematics and layouts

  I have posted the USRP and daughterboard schematics and layouts on
  http://www.ettus.com -- just go to the download page.

  If you are interested in making your own daughterboards, these will serve as a
  good reference.  More docs will be forthcoming.

If you want a copy of those schematics, I've put a copy here:


I'm sure that many tweaks to the boards have been made since then.  If
you want to make serious use of these, you'd better compare them to
both the current published PDF schematics, and to a recent physical
board.  At the time these were published, the USRP was new and it had
very few daughterboards.

By the way, the USRP board took well over a year to develop, and went
through several prototypes.  Large parts of the free GPL'd GNU Radio
software were developed by Matt and Eric simultaneously while building
these prototypes.  Before the USRP, you needed an expensive and
painful PCI oscilloscope board to use GNU Radio -- and then you needed
an external tuner.  That's what we got the original GNU Radio FM-radio
and HDTV receivers working on.  The USRP revolutionized ham SDR by
being half the price of the PCI board, allowing laptops instead of
only desktop computers to be used for the processing, and allowing
many cheap RF daughterboards to be made.

        John Gilmore

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