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The Open Instrumentation Project

Human civilization advances with new tools, and access to appropriate tools is critical for anyone who works with modern technology. Before the invention of the personal computer, software development was limited to a small group of individuals who had access to the mainframes of the day. The personal computer created an entirely new community of programmers and a huge software industry. The personal computer was a critical tool.

In the same way, it is important for electronic engineers, technologists and hobbyists to have access to laboratory measurement equipment. In particular, student practitioners need instrumentation to learn their craft - not just at the times and places set by a college lab, but on their own timetable, in their own living space.

It is the objective of the Open Instrumentation Project to make such equipment and software available.

The Open Software community will provide the details and shape the direction of the project. However, we see two key components to the project: affordable hardware and open software.

The instrument hardware must provide an appropriate set of features at a reasonable price tag for the user. Given the many challenges in developing hardware, most hardware instruments will be developed by commercial enterprises. However, at a minimum the hardware API (application programming interface) must be published so that others can develop and modify the control software.

The instrument software must be available under some sort of open-source license so that users can modify it to suit their requirements, add new features, and port it to other computing platforms. To prevent being locked into one platform or one vendor, the tools to develop this software must also be available as open-source. Given the ingenuity demonstrated in other open-software projects, we expect to see ingenious and novel contributions from hobbyists, technologists and engineers.

To learn more about the Open Instrumentation Project visit the project page on Sourceforge.