Friday, April 24, 2009

An Open Source Hardware Project - UlluTek

I recently launched UlluTek, an open source hardware project, with a few engineer friends. Over the years, we discovered that there are many simple and useful hardware products that are not built because companies deem that they are - well - too simple and the ROI did not justify it. ROI strikes again!!!

Since we are bootstrapping the project (no venture capital firms in their right minds would invest in an open source company nowadays), we have to figure out the cheapest way to get the website up and running. To my surprise, there are so many options to choose from. I settled on a few tools to start:

  • Web creation and hosting: Weebly - I was able to setup the site in less than half an hour. I registered the domain with Weebly and got 50-user Google Apps Standard Edition. I got 6 users up and running in less than 15 minutes.
  • Instant Messaging: even though Google Apps comes with Chat application, we chose Skype since it gives us a better conferencing capability. Besides, I am already using Skype to call my family in Vietnam and loving the service.
  • Wiki/Forum: I have not picked an application yet but WetPaint looks very interesting. Ning is in the running as well.
  • Code revision: I am going to use LaunchPad for code depository and revision.
  • Drawing: I am using Inkscape for homemade logos and other drawing needs. Inkscape has tons of tutorials on the web so it was very helpful learning the tool.
  • 3D Drawing: Google Sketchup fills this need although Inkscape has some basic 3D capability as well. Sketchup is a lot more fun and my 8-yr old son loves to play with the program.
So for now, I have enough tools to get the project up and running. My engineering friends are still looking for a low cost CAD tool. Any recommendation out there?

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