Tag Archives: Open Source Software

All about Fritzing

Fritzing is a software program to help designers translate their prototypes into real products. Created at the University of Applied Sciences, Potsdam, the software is an open source software tool. It runs on Linux, Mac OS X and MS Windows.

The Open Source Idea

The term open source in software development indicates an approach that provides any individual access to the design of a product or improvements made to it. The Internet has made the concept of open source more viable.
In an open source program, any individual may open or unlock the source code. An innovative programmer may even make modifications to the code in an attempt to improve upon it.

Concepts behind Fritzing

To understand Fritzing, it is important to know something about Breadboard View, Schematics View, and Printed Circuit Boards View.

Breadboard View – Fritzing can present your circuit in breadboard view, making it easy to visualize how components will fit together and be wired together. Fritzing has a vast library of parts to represent all major components in the Breadboard view.

Schematic View – This is the traditional view of the circuit as represented in books. Frtizing has a large library of schematic parts to build up the Schematic View.

Printed Circuit Board View – A printed circuit board (PCB) consists of electronic components connected electrically on copper tracks laminated on a non-conducting substrate. This view is necessary to fabricate the PCB for the circuit.

Purpose of Fritzing

The software program allows designers and other professionals to record their prototypes created for various circuits and design corresponding PCBs. You can use the company website to communicate your ideas and drafts with other individuals. Others may create electronic items based on your prototypes. This concept of sharing helps reduce production costs.

One of the great advantages of Fritzing is amateur electronics enthusiasts can design circuits and build PCBs suited to their needs. All the gear needed is available from the Fritzing store.

You can even play with the Raspberry Pi using Fritzing. The rapidly growing Fritzing library now features the Raspberry Pi Model B!

Making your own PCB

You can design and create a printed circuit board using the Fritzing software.
Print your circuit diagram onto a sheet of glossy photographic paper using a laser printer. Place the sheet on a copper board with the printed side facing the board. Run a hot clothes iron over the sheet. If you have done the job well, you should get a clear etching of the circuit on the board. You may need to clear away the excess copper with a Ferric Chloride solution.

Be careful with the Ferric Chloride solution as this is a very corrosive liquid and will eat through most clothing and skin. Wearing a PVC apron, gloves and PVC shoes is recommended when working with Ferric Chloride.

The Fritzing software company provides a service called the Fritzing Fab. You will have to upload your file, place your order and make the payment. At the time of placing your order, you can request extra services like punching holes for mounting the board. The company will deliver your printed circuit board in about two weeks.

Is open source software right for you?

Open Source versus Closed Source Software

Open source software permits downloading, customization and distribution of copies by the user. This type of software offers freedom to its users and promotes its use for business applications. One can download the source code to customize the software. The user has the option to distribute the customized version and its source code either free of cost or for a price. Examples include Firefox, Linux, Android, etc. When distributed free, the software is termed Free Software, and the user is bound by certain ethical practices.

In contrast, closed-source software needs the user to obtain a license for use and does not permit him the option to modify the software or access the source code. Microsoft Windows is a typical example of this type.

License Types for Open Source Software

GPL or General Public License is a common license, which imposes the condition that where a user customizes and distributes the software, he is bound to distribute the source code along with it. In other words, a user modifying open-source software is not permitted to convert it into closed-source software. Users not agreeing for this may opt out of a GPL license.

A BSD license, on the other hand, permits use of the program’s source code into another program. The user is not bound to distribute the source code of the modified software. A BSD license permits developers to use the code into their own closed-source programs, but denies end users similar rights.

Advantages to Users

• Open-source software are available to users at no cost

• Open-source programs are flexible

• One can use or distribute unrestricted number of copies, and would not need licensing for limited instances of usage.

• Open source software does not need developers to “reinvent the wheel”. The developers can use established open-source software to create new applications.

Popular sentiments about open-source software

Misconceptions and ambiguities between “open-source” and “free” software abound in the industry. The term “Free”, while offering convenience, also loads the users with bindings and responsibilities. Potential users often feel uneasy with this term. Many prefer to be vocal about just the immediate benefits of free software, deliberately avoiding the mention of contentious issues such as ethics and freedom. This is done with the objective of selling the software better for business applications. The users would do well to realize timely that the “open’ or “free” software programs, apparently lucrative to begin with, often lure them to proprietary software.

One may tend to believe that an “Open Source company” offers free software. Many developers have admitted in certain forums that they target selling only a portion of their products to the users as “free” or “open”, while they are in the process of developing proprietary add-ons, which the users would eventually need in any case. Developers are even known to use the term “open” to mean open to their internal staff, to ensure better and faster service delivery to their clients.

It can therefore be surmised that the users are made to see only the “lucrative” portion of the deal, whereas software sellers conveniently and effectively camouflage their hidden agenda.