Open Source Hardware is Not a New Concept

I was already interested in electronics as a kid 40 years ago and at that time my dad bought a HiFi amplifier A-810 from Onkyo. It was a great device with really nice audio quality and extremely solid build quality. I especially remember the large volume knob and the feel of turning it was just such a nice tactual experience.

Onkyo A-810 (image source).

It came with a service manual that contained the complete schematics and listed every single electronic component used and even the test points. The manual itself is more than 50 pages long.

Onkyo Service Manual.

It was common in these days to get these electronic schematics with many appliances that you purchased. I was really fascinated by them, even I did not fully understand how the electronic components work. I spend many hours studying them.

I guess that’s how some of us used to spend our time pre-internet ;).

My uncle, a physics professor, used to use these schematics and repair his appliances.

The manual actually (indirectly) encourages self-repair:

This really encouraged a long lifetime of the devices and made self repair easy. Electronic waste greatly reduced. Yes, in today’s prices these devices were a lot more expensive but considering that this Onkyo amplifier actually still works (now at my sisters place), we can assume that the cost per year is very competitive.

So these devices actually were embodying many of the benefits of what we call Open Source Hardware today.

Unfortunately now-a-days most electronic devices are a throw-away commodity (or even just a consumable). A disaster for the planet and I believe ultimately the consumer.

But it does not have to be this way!

This is another reason why we open sourced the hardware of our air quality monitors. Here are the schematics of our air quality monitor AirGradient ONE. If you are interested to download all technical documents including Ki-Cad files, have a look here.

AirGradient ONE Schematics.

We explicitly allow self repair in our terms and conditions

I do really hope other companies follow our example and open source their hardware, especially if we can continue to be successful with many customers choosing our products exactly because of this.

Reach out to me if you have any thoughts on this!

by Achim Haug
Mar 27, 2024

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