How CoDesign works

From Idea to Product: Open Source Hardware

What is it?

It's an economical way to get a novel electronic device designed, developed, and produced.

How to do it

Have an idea for a scientific or industrial instrument, or an electronic device or gadget you would like to buy, but which does not exist yet?

Here's how it goes, stage by stage


An "Idea" emerges as a new topic on the Forum. You or any forum member can start a new "Idea". Forum registration is free, and reasonably unintrusive. Post a description of what you would like the device to do. You need no technical knowledge of how it might work - our moderators will help with that.

We won't consider ideas for weapons, covert surveillance gear, or other socially undesirable items, at our sole discretion.

Acceptable ideas show up in the Index, from this point on, giving links to all related information.

We will never sell or otherwise distribute your registration information.


For an "Idea" to move to a "Concept" - it needs to be technically feasible, and not be too similar to something which already exists. Forum discussions should have enough details about the desired function to move forward. Our implementation team will then put up a draft specification page. This is still flexible; you can comment and ask for modifications.

We may put up draft price curves in this stage. These curves will change as the specification evolves. Don't look on them as a commitment on our part.


Once the specification settles down, our implementation team freezes the specification and advances to the "Bidding" stage.

Bidding is open to anyone.

Our implementation team puts up a firm price curve, showing how the price per unit will vary with the quantity produced. At small quantities this is dominated by development and certification costs. As quantities increase, unit cost becomes dominant, and there are economies of scale. Go to our price curve page for a detailed explanation of how this works.

Price advantage

Few can afford the development costs for a single unit. But as the price curve dramatically shows, as soon as you can interest even a few others in the device, the price drops rapidly. That's the great advantage of CoDesign; global cost-sharing.

You can bid on as many units as you wish, at any price you wish. The state of bidding is shown, anonymously, on the price graph. Bidding is a commitment to buy a given number of units at a price not exceeding the bid price, if the project proceeds to production. Cumulative bid statistics show up in your forum profile, which anyone can read.


When the bidding intersects the price curve, we have a financially viable product. There is enough demand that we won't lose money. Now we have a "Project", and implementation commences.

During this phase you can continue to bid, helping to reduce the price for yourself and all purchasers.

As development progresses we may find that we have to revise our estimated price curve. If we have to revise upwards, you will have the opportunity to revise, or cancel, your bid. We will try to avoid doing this, but we are not immune to surprises.

Our implementation team now puts up a progress page to show how the development is progressing. The goal of development is a working prototype, which meets or exceeds the specification in all respects.


When "Project" development produces a working prototype, we have a "Product".

Now bidding is frozen, establishing a price. If you have bid on the product, you will be notified by email of the final price. If you bid at or above the final price, you will be asked for confirmation (with credit card number) or cancellation of your bid. You can choose to let us charge your card right away, at a decent discount, or not charge until we ship your order. We will email you when your order has shipped

If you have bid less than the final price, we will still notify you by email, and you may decide to buy at the final price if you wish.

Bidding will have to re-open if there are enough cancellations to impair viability. Production will start only when there are enough confirmed orders.

A shipping page will be put up to keep you informed of production progress and shipping dates. We ship first to those who chose to pre-pay.

Open Sourcing
Creative Commons License GNU
        General Public License version 3

When the first batch is shipped, the design will be published on our website. You will have access to the schematics, bill of materials, printed circuit layouts and other hardware design data under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. We will publish source code for all software and firmware, under the GNU General Public License version 3, for you to inspect, add to, and modify as you see fit.

The forum thread will stay open as a place to discuss your modifications.

Be aware, however, that if you modify the hardware you will normally void the safety and electromagnetic compatibility certifications. You are better off to get your ideas in early, so that they are incorporated in the design.

Further Production

We will put up a fresh price curve when we freeze the bidding. Our first production run will cover the confirmed orders. There is a cost to setting up a new batch, so we need to ensure that a second batch can be sold without loss. When the second and subsequent rounds of bidding justify further production, we will make and ship further batches.

Incentives: the Goodies

Provided an Idea makes it all the way through to production:

Gotchas: the fine print

Not what you need?

If you need a patentable project, to develop your own product, or to retain intellectual property, this is not for you. We offer these services separately, contact us privately with your needs.