Eagle-eyed viewers will have noticed that a 'Digital' section has appeared on the front page of the website. The purpose of this section is twofold:
- Firstly, disseminate some of my older and/or discontinued modules in such a way that if people want them then they can fab a run of modules for themselves. This way I can make stuff available without having to worry about how to fund a board run which could leave me lumbered with excess stock.
- It allows people to support a small business without necessarily committing themselves to buying a physical module. In addition, if somebody wants a module that I've discontinued but can't justify the costs for a board run (eg. the XO106r4.5) then they have the initiative, and the means, to do so themselves.
BY PURCHASING A DIGITAL DOWNLOAD, I'M GOING TO ASSUME YOU KNOW HOW TO UTILISE THE FILES WITHIN IT - if you don't know what a Gerber file is and what is involved in getting stuff fabricated by a PCB house then these aren't for you.
If this is the case, you can always enquire about a custom run.
What do I get?
When you purchase digital content you will receive a download link via Shopify - the following points should be noted:
- The download link is a one-shot deal - if it fails for any reason, contact me and I'll endeavour to sort it out.
- Content will be delivered in the form of a ZIP file - this is a sensible 'lowest common denominator' format that can be handled by Windows, MacOS and Linux.
The ZIP file itself will contain everything you need to fab modules for your own use (or for selling a short run - see below):
Gerber files (various file extensions) - there'll be one set of Gerbers for the 'main' module board(s) and another set for the faceplate. These will reside in separate directories - usually mainboard-gerbers and panel-gerbers, respectively. These are generally what you'd send off for fabbing.
In terms of naming, some knowledge of how KiCAD work is advantageous but by no means essential. The biggest change is that the board outline file will have an extension of .gko rather than .gm1
Front Panel Files - if you want to do a customised front panel then I also supply appropriate DXF (AutoCAD) and FPD (Front Panel Designer) files. These will be 'blank' panels with holes in the appropriate places, giving you a blank slate onto which you can place your own design. Note that you will need to generate your own Gerber or similar fabbing files if you go down this route.
Schematic - an accompanying schematic. Usually this will be either a PNG or JPG file. Any half-decent graphics package should be able to handle them (my weapon of choice is GIMP)
BOM (Bill of Materials) - a list of the bits you'll need and where you need to put them. This is provided as an Excel spreadsheet. It is up to you to source appropriate components
- Firmware file(s) - if the module uses a microcontroller then there'll also be a .HEX file of the module's firmware; again, it is up to you to flash the firmware onto an appropriate microcontroller. Usually, my microcontroller-based modules will be built around an ATTiny45/85 (and occasionally an ATmega168/328) although I'm moving towards ARM with new stuff.
This is the important bit - unless otherwise stated, any downloaded files are licensed under a Creative Commons license, specifically Creative Commons 4.0 International Attribution.
Broadly speaking, this means you can:
Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format
Adapt -- remix, transform and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially.
HOWEVER, you must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use (this is the 'Attribution' bit)
In other words, use my designs however you like but don't pass them off as your own.
So why charge?
Time is money - I spent time on these designs (a lot of time in the case of the 'big stuff' like the XO106r5) so the charge is basically recompense for that; it's also a good way to support a small business without actually buying a physical module. Besides which, should you decide to do a run of modules and then sell them you're going to make a return on your investment anyway.
Who knows ... I may even make some music available in this way in future.