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Re: [Discuss-gnuradio] USRP design is free

From: Moeller
Subject: Re: [Discuss-gnuradio] USRP design is free
Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2011 13:15:17 +0100
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv: Gecko/20101207 Thunderbird/3.1.7

On 22.01.2011 11:18, John Gilmore wrote:

> 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.

I also got the schematics for my TV set and my video recorder.
But that's for service and repair. It's not free hardware.
As far as I know the USRP designs are copyrighted and not under a free
hardware license. Correct?

> 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.

It's a reputable business, for sure. But if it's not under an open
license, it's not open hardware, but commercial hardware.
Imagine GNU software only available as printed books.
To be GPL compatible you have to deliver the source in electronic
form that can compile, not as PDF printed sources. The raw source
of hardware are EDA files.

> 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

I got no answer to the question if USRP is open hardware or not.
On the website they declared it as open hardware, but from the copyright,
the missing EDA files I doubt it. It seems to be more a commercial
hardware with schematics published (as many other commercial hardware).

> on the list at the time of the National Instruments acquisition, in

I think Gnuradio should not depend too much on such a big company.
That's why I would prefer open and public-domain hardware.

> 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:

I found EDA files also here:


But is it really public domain source?

> 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.

I agree, this type of hardware in combination with Gnuradio software
is really revolutionary. I hope that it will be a completely open standard
in future. If not, we would have to develop alternatives.

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