Developing together: Are you brave enough to share your innovation?

Why ELL-i community is developing open source software and hardware? We have considered alternatives and chosen open HW/SW development as the best alternative, because we believe that information is a resource which adds value to our system only when it’s openly available and distributed. Good examples of this approach are Linux, Arduino and RaspberryPi. They paved the way, ELL-i is happy to follow. In today’s world you will not get far if you are trying to hide information.

Even everyday technical devices are so complex that a single person can hardly fix them not to mention designing and building without reading a manual or receiving support from other experts. From the point of sustainability this is a huge waste of resources and at ELL-i we are willing to change it.

Think about this scenario: If your proprietary SW/HW design has a bug, you will receive customer complaints. If your open SW has a bug, the community members will compete on providing the best fix for it.

At ELL-i the community members’ knowledge is expressed in a reusable manner as open code and hardware designs. Anyone can build on top of our knowledge and start to develop systems of their own. Our working ethos is that if you find our code useful, you are willing to contribute back to our code repository. This way we are able to create a positive feedback loop and gain resources which we would not able to reach otherwise, i.e. more innovators, coders and testers building better future for all.

A single person’s innovation potential is fed but also constrained by her/his environment, expertise, and life situation and so on. The larger the development community and the total innovation potential grows, the fewer of these constraints apply for the whole development base. In addition to innovation, testing is a highly important aspect. As technical systems are growing in complexity, testing takes more and more time and resources. Tests can be automated but it is challenging to generate sensible exceptions into automated test cases. Human users automatically generate exceptions to the ways that they use the equipment. The larger the community of users is, the more thoroughly the system will be tested.

Putting together Extra-Low Voltage (ELV) systems, wireline data communication and computing power, the ELL-I community will be able to create smarter and more energy efficient systems which are more accessible to all, even for those who live on the bottom of the pyramid (BOP). This way we are enabling more sustainable future for the globe. ELL-i cooperative supports sharing via open SW/HW and also via selecting affordably priced components. ELL-i has a mission to build an ecosystem that supports more sustainable and fair growth and wellbeing globally. We invite you to innovate with us in the ELL-i community!

— Jukka


Video greetings from happy hacking at ELL-i Hackathon!

Ell-i organized a hackathon on 22nd January at EIT ICT Labs in Otaniemi. That was quite a day! We had about 20 participants. Some were complete newbies to electronics and microcontrollers, some were experienced electronics hackers. That was no problem as everyone found a group suitable for their skill level. Take a look at the video to enjoy the great atmosphere at ELL-i hackathon!

ELL-i is a member of EIT ICT Labs Business Development Accelerator and supported by EIT ICT Labs.

Hackathon in Otaniemi

We organized a great hackathon on 22nd January 2014 in Otaniemi.

The Ell-i hackathon day started with Pekka telling us what Ell-i is all about, the current state of the Ell-i boards and our goals. Teemu followed by explaining the structure and operation of what we were going to build: a simple DC-DC buck converter.

Every group got an Ell-i board, a power over ethernet injector for powering the Ell-i board, a breadboard shield, and a bunch of components. The first task was to install the development environment for Ell-i boards. It is a slightly modified version of the standard Arduino IDE, modified to support the custom Ell-i runtime. Connection of a led, a resistor, and compiling the basic Arduino blink sketch proved that the setup was working.

The real goal of the day was this simple buck converter circuit:

hackathon circuit

Not a particularly efficient or a high power circuit, but designed for demo use. It has a low component count, and all components are suitable for breadboarding. The circuit is able to convert from the 48 VDC coming from the PoE supply to a constant current driving a power led. The switch of this converter is driven by a PWM signal from the Ell-i board. By the way, arduinistas: this circuit does not work with an Arduino. In an Ell-i board, the frequency of the PWM controlled by the analogWrite() function is 50 kHz, not the measly 500 Hz of standard arduinos! That is high enough to be usable for controlling the switch of a DC-DC converter.

In some groups, the circuit was quicky completed; in others, much headscratching ensued. Having two instructors roving around answering questions worked perfectly – all groups got their converter done at some point of the day. My group made the power led to fade in and out in a couple of different ways, and flash out some morse code. Quite easy, once the buck was working.

IMG_4815 cropped

One group had brought their own set of components, including a bit better coils capable of handling more power, and an awesome ouch-my-eyes-hurt power led — with 50W rating! They managed to get roughly 30 watts from the PoE port through their breadboarded buck converter and into the led. That was so much that they had to keep the led covered to prevent the ouch-my-eyes-hurt thing from happening.

The most delighting thing about the day was that everything went smoothly. We had no major problems, no fire or escaped smoke. A very educational day all in all! Thanks everybody for participating, we rock!

All materials are available at GitHub, if you want to take a look.
More photos are available here.

The hackathon was organized at the EIT ICT Labs in Otaniemi. ELL-i is a member of EIT ICT Labs Business Development Accelerator and supported by EIT ICT Labs.

ELL-i hackathon on 22 Jan 2014

ELL-i organizes a hackathon – Build an Internet for Your Things!

Place: Seminar space at 1st floor in Open Innovation House, Otaniementie 19 B, Espoo, Finland

Date and Time: Jan 22nd 2014, from 9:00 am to 18:30 pm

This hackathon event is targeted to electronics hobbyists. The event participants will work in teams of 2 to 3 persons to build a simple switched-mode power supply (SMPS) buck converter -based LED driver. The development environment is ELL-i, an Arduino-Like Power-over-Ethernet platform. More advanced participants may build their own SMPS designs, e.g. to drive solenoids or motors. The goal of this hackathon is to learn or apply basic skills for building your own smartly powered devices.

More information and registration here.