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Topic: making money through open source hardware (Read 10077 times) previous topic - next topic


hi friends,
Are there any ways of earning money online through open source hardware?
If yes how can it be?

Thanks in advance,
Uday Sagar.


Umm - by making it and selling it?

Ok - that was in jest - but it comes close to the truth.

Basically - you don't just want to make and sell any product, but you want to also sell/provide something to your clients that will differentiate your offerings from the competition in order to build your brand. You'll want excellent customer service. You'll want a way for your customers to interact with you and your products (ie, reviews, forums, comments, blogs, the whole social media thing, etc). You'll want your products to be sufficiently different or "niche" compared to offerings elsewhere. Anything you do that is similar, you want to be better (verifyably and identifyably better) - whether that means better construction, more reliability, better performance, different approaches.

Something you probably don't need to worry about as much is "whether your competition will steal your ideas for themselves to sell"; your main competition being "China" of course... ;)

Whether it is open-source or closed and heavily proprietary (with patents and copyrights) - someone is going to appropriate your design and sell it; your only hope is better marketing, quality of product, and customer service.

...and even all of this may not be enough for you to do much better than break-even, if that.

That's business, unfortunately.

So - get out there and do your research; look into the whys and hows the Arduino has become a phenomena. Search out and review SparkFun's site. Research AdaFruit, RuggedCircuits, etc - and see what they are doing and why they are successful. There are tons of "open source" hardware companies out there. Think about what you intend to sell, and how you'll sell it. Think about what you can do to make your product more unique and appealing to the customer. Think about how you'll interact with that customer, and what products and services you can offer them before and after the sale to get them to talk to come back to your brand again, and let others know about your products. Think about how you'll deal with problems customers have with your products (because they -will-), and how you will solve those problems while keeping them a customer (if you do this well enough, you might get them to recruit others simply because of "great customer service").

Starting a business is a huge undertaking to do right; if you just "jump in" without giving it the proper thought and time for research, you'll likely sink more often than swim (unless you're one of the lucky few entrepreneurs who are able to do just that - if so, good for you and good luck!)...

I will not respond to Arduino help PM's from random forum users; if you have such a question, start a new topic thread.


Well, I might suggest that you can put yourself out there for hire as a programmer/developer, though I'm not sure what kind of market exists.

You could also build something based upon Arduino and sell that.  Though we as tinkerers forget it, you really don't lose that many sales to hobbyists.  Just because a few folks might be willing to build their own based upon your published design or code, it actually usually takes a fair amount of effort and dedication to do so.. enough that it's prohibitive for a consumer product.  Let's say you invent a toy based on Arduino and publish the code and design as open source.. especially at the outset, it may be a selling point that it's "Arduino Inside.."

I'd also recommend becoming very well versed in embedded programming in general, this is a market which has a very bright employment future as more and more products become "intelligent".  See the recent thread on a microcontroller-driven paper shredder that is out there on the market (and not even touted as "smart", it's just a shredder); companies will be looking for experienced embedded systems developers for some time to come...


I suspect it is quite hard to make money out of producing open source hardware, but here's how I would try to do it, if I was going to. Design some hardware that is very versatile and therefore has a large market, and uses inexpensive components. Make it easy to interface to, adapt and hack by publishing all the details, except perhaps the PCB layout files (in which case it's not entirely open source). Sell it ready built and/or as a kit of parts and/or PCB only. The PCB is probably where you will make the money because it's relatively expensive and difficult for your customers to replicate unless they want quite a few of them.

Build a good web site to promote your product, with a forum where you can support your customers and they can support each other. Give examples of using your hardware to solve various problems. And, of course, provide excellent customer service.

Every few weeks, produce a design for a different piece of hardware for different purposes and add it to your product range. Ask your customers what they need. Use common components between your designs as much as possible to reduce the inventory you need to handle.

When ordering the PCBs, you should find that ordering (say) 50pcs each of 4 designs is a lot less than 4x the cost of ordering 50pcs of 1 design. This is because PCB companies can manufacture a single larger board that holds all 4 designs and then cut it up.
Formal verification of safety-critical software, software development, and electronic design and prototyping. See http://www.eschertech.com. Please do not ask for unpaid help via PM, use the forum.


See WIRED magazine. Adafruit grossed several MILLION dollars last year selling stuff that is totally Open Source.

Most of us don't want to build everything ourselves, and would rather integrate Arduino and other cool stuff to make one-of-a-kind Cooler stuff.

And I can buy subassemblies like motion detectors and motor drivers cheaper than I could make them, unless I did large quantities.

The Arduino board layout and schematic is on arduino.cc  but would you want to build one from scratch yourself?
Regards, Terry King terry@yourduino.com  - Check great prices, devices and Arduino-related boards at http://YourDuino.com
HOW-TO: http://ArduinoInfo.Info


Yes, There are ways it depends. I actually earned around Rs 20000 for doing a project for startup in arduino and many other projects. It was from a startup of IT people they don't have basic knowledge of harwares. Just in that case you have to look for market accordingly. 


Most of us don't want to build everything ourselves,
That seems to be the key for very many small businesses. Many people have more spare money than time.

Of course figuring out what to make and how to inform your potential customers is a challenge.

A website like this brings together people with a common interest from all over the world but the reality is that the number of people who are interested in Arduinos and live within 20 miles radius of you is probably very small indeed so it is difficult to get immediate (and cheap) product feedback. Compare that with selling a new flavour of ice-lolly - there will probably be a dozen willing taste-testers in your street.

My suggestion for a product line is breakout-boards with useful surface-mount chips attached - particularly small breakout boards that can fit into small projects.

Two or three hours spent thinking and reading documentation solves most programming problems.

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