Growing Open Design Engine

April is turning out to be quite a busy month for Open Design Engine.  So far we have found a new software development contractor to help us with the heavy lifting required for some of our new features, submitted a grant application to cover the next version of Open Design Engine, and prepared materials for the upcoming Open Source Hardware Documentation Jam.  By next week, we should have all sorts of feedback on what the Open Source Hardware community is looking for in project hosting.

Mach 30’s Ground Station Antenna

For those who don’t know, Open Design Engine is Mach 30’s free project hosting site for open source hardware projects.  We use it to host all of our publicly available projects (aka those not covered by export controls) such as the Shepard Test Stand and GS-001 (our new ground station project).  It is also home to a number of very cool projects from other users, including Andrew Starr’s Scanning Tunnelling Microscope.

Over the last couple of months, volunteers at Mach 30 have been planning the next major release of Open Design Engine as part of the work to apply for the SpaceGAMBIT Call for Projects.  As this plan came together, the volunteer team leading this effort realized Mach 30 would continue to need external software development support.  Unfortunately for us (but very fortunately for them), Littlelines, our developer for the current version of Open Design Engine, has plenty of work lined up at the moment and is unavailable for our next round of work.  All is not lost, however.  After reaching out through the volunteer team’s professional network, Mach 30 has been introduced to Mutually Human Software.  I am very happy to report Mutually Human will be a great addition to the Open Design Engine team.  Not only are they a skilled Ruby on Rails shop (Rails is the toolchain which Open Design Engine is built on), but they also “get” open source hardware and the maker community.  So much so that they are sponsoring a local startup makerspace, GR Makers.

April also saw the completion of Mach 30’s application for funding from SpaceGAMBIT’s Call for Projects to support Open Design Engine development.  Our application includes work to completely overhall the user interface, improve the infrastructure to support git repositories (among other things), implement one or more revenue generation streams so Open Design Engine can become self-sufficient, and marketing Open Design Engine to grow its user base.  I encourage you to take a look at the application.  The team did a great job in planning this new version, and in preparing the document.

Finally, I have been getting ready for the Open Source Hardware Documentation Jam.  This three day long conference/hack-a-thon is all about what the Open Source Hardware community needs to easily publish, share, and reuse documentation for open source hardware projects.  I am very excited to be included in this event for Mach 30’s work on Open Design Engine, and I am looking forward to sharing what we have learned and where we are headed, as well as finding out what the community needs from sites like Open Design Engine.  Stay tuned for updates from the Documentation Jam, and for a follow up On-Air Hangout covering the lessons learned and the community’s path forward after the event.

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