What is RA's hardware license?

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2014 10:06 pm
Hi there,

what is RA's hardware license?

I was wondering if it is legally and ethically possible to develop an sell a third party controller, with Raspberry Pi for example, that connects to the vast range of accessories in the RA stack.

Franklin Dattein
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 14, 2014 4:22 am
You mean like this company is doing? https://www.facebook.com/ReefAiController/info

I don't see why there should be any issue being compatible with RA modules. If anything it just means more sales :)

Roberto would need to comment further, but as everything is distributed open source, the legal/ethical requirement would mandate continuing to redistribute all source and eagle files for hardware.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 14, 2014 3:06 pm
More or less. I don't plan to open source the controller software, not right now, nor create my own version of the peripherals.
What I had in mind is to sell the main controller and its software software as closed source and make it compatible to a variety of existing peripheral, both open and closed source.
In the case of RA Peripherals, the buyer would have to buy them directly at reefangel dot com, just like it would if it was buying a Vortech.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 14, 2014 3:28 pm
I'm not a lawyer or software license guru but I dont think you'd be able to use the open source library software in a closed source controller. You might not even be allowed to look at the libraries lest your new code be tainted. You'd have to backwards engineer the support or base only on the hardware itself to build drivers....

Now that may only be so strict with GPL code. I don't know how it applies to the apache license. Be advised the Moon class inside the Libraries is GPL so cannot be included at all. It's only compatible because we aren't adding any dependency to it and we've maintained the license on it as a stand alone class.

We may actually have to check on that other product to make sure our licenses are protected...so it's good you've brought it up.

Now much of the hardware is fairly straight forward, the RF module less so. So some should be easy to rebuild, some not so easy. The hardware firmwares for instance I do not believe are open sourced (since I've never seen Roberto publish that) so you could probably work out a licensing arrangement for the info to integrate in a closed source manner.

Sorry if I'm going down an incorrect path, but these are all things that should be considered.

Update: ReefAI is open source so we should have no issues there...

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 14, 2014 4:31 pm
Thanks for the further clarification.
I am familiar with open source licenses and I think I wasn't clear on my first messages. I actually wasn't even clear on what to ask :)

The software I am building uses an different architecture and behaviour. Nothing is based on in the RA's code. So, software licensing in terms of software features is out of the equation.

I also have no intention to replicate RA's hardware at the moment. However, that Reef AI is doing sounds like a good idea.

At the moment, all I intend is to make my controller compatible to some RA's devices, for example the Power Bar. So, I don't need to spend time designing one myself and if I am successful, it helps boosting RA's sales. I would either resell RA parts, like Reef AI, or redirect the buyer to RA's website.

In order to do that, I need to read the circuit schematics, to understand the wiring. Also, read the code to understand the communication protocols. That is where the licensing isn't clear for me.

Can I make a closed source controller that is compatible to RA's pinouts and protocols? If so, can I call it "Compatible with Reef Angel XYZ device"?
That requires me to read RA's Open source code and hardware, in order to reverse engineer it and make it work in my platform.

Can I re-design a single RA Open Source peripheral, like Power Board or Leak Detector, as long as I keep it open source with the same license, without the need to open source the main controller that connects to this peripheral?
In this case I would open source the reverse engineered library that wraps the communication protocol.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 14, 2014 6:41 pm
Yeah I'm sure Roberto would be willing to give you the info you need on how to interact with the components. None of it is rocket science. Dont think you need to read the RA source to turn a relay on/off or read a sensor.

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