Open Source Designs

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by adamadam, Jan 14, 2010.

  1. adamadam
    Joined: Sep 2009
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    adamadam Junior Member

    Just wondering if there are any open source design groups out there? I came across a mini 650 one, but are there any for cruising yachts. Maybe an Open open 40?

    Anyone have any opinions on open source? it seems to work well for software, but I can see it being difficult to get support when yacht design professionals are largely self employed. They may see it as doing themselves out of business.
     
  2. magwas
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    magwas Senior Member

    They just can't get it.
    Honestly I have been shocked by their hostility to the idea that I want to learn boat design through the forum.
    I am happy to participate in any effort of designing an open source boat.
     
  3. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Most of us would like to have some proprietary level of understanding design concepts. It's literally the only advantage an individual designer has over any other designer. This "uniqueness" of education, experiences, tastes and desire is what molds them and it shows in their work, traits and preferences.

    Giving away even a little of this seems self defeating, especially as it's an ongoing process of continued concept and understanding development. This is one reason you've received resistance Magwas. Spending many thousands of dollars and many years acquiring the necessary skills, makes most a bit reluctant at divulging all of the "secrets" of our world. This is particularly so, in light of the very generous nature of many in the industry, to write on the various subjects, in print, here and else where. Hundreds of books, dozens of courses and apprenticeships still available makes anything short of "doing your homework" a touch insulting.

    As for the open source sailboat, good luck with that, but eventually someone will have to crack open a calculator or run some software and the professional generally want to be paid for this sort of thing.
     
  4. joz
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    joz Senior Member

    I agree here with PAR. This is how yacht designers make a living by doing custom and stock designs for there clients.

    Some people here expect that designers who study 4 yrs or more and spend X amount of dollars to learn are willing to give up or tell people on the net how to go about and solve a problem that they have. Its like dropping a stone on your foot why would you do that.

    If people want to "design" their own boats either enroll in a design course if you have the time, money and patiences, if not go to a yacht designer and actually P-A-Y the design fee. This solves any problems later.

    There are very and I do mean very few "amateur designers" that are very cluey and have studied from books to be able to design boats for themselves and/ or for others unless you are prepared for years to study just go to a designer.

    There is a saying Cheap is Expensive.
     
  5. TollyWally
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    TollyWally Senior Member

    Magwas,
    You can ask educated intelligent questions and people will be glad to help. You can ask a few uneducated semi intelligent questions and people will still help if you are polite. Dumb questions will get a few answers until folks figure out it isn't worth their time. People here are amazingly helpful.

    Buy a book called "The Nature of Boats" by Dave Gerr. If you are diligent it will teach you enough to ask some intelligent questions.

    The knowledge needed to design craft is out there but you have to pay your dues and dedicate a significant amount of time to aquiring the knowledge. It's a complicated endeaver. And it not only has to be designed to float, it has to be designed to be built. Even some of the pros don't always get that part right.

    It is not strictly neccessary to run the numbers, plenty of boats have been designed in the past without that. BUT if anything the successful designers that were relying on "what looks right" had even more knowledge tucked away in their heads to make it look like it was all simple intuition. And lastly plans are pretty cheap for what you're getting. The cost of the plans is barely measurable compared to the cost of the whole.

    You can see an example of "open source" design here at the option one site. If you want a wikipedia style open source type of deal, find some forum centered around a particular hull and pay attention to the owner modifications and experiments etc. etc. etc.

    If you're deadset on an open source type of arrangement, well not exactly open source in the linex sense of the word but semiclose, track down a guy named Brent Swain. He hangs out here occasionaly and blesses us with his boatbuilding philosophy. He's a might bit opinionated but he can get you into a boat on the cheap. You will need to learn how to weld however.

    If you do design a boat or even buy one for that matter and you don't really know what you're doing it won't be a pretty picture. There is a thread here,

    http://www.boatdesign.net/forums/boat-design/naval-architects-designers-waste-money-30728.html

    that is fairly fresh that illustrates the dangers of almost but not quite knowing what you're doing.
     
  6. adamadam
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    adamadam Junior Member

    I am currently doing the McNaughton course as more of a hobby and out of interest than for a career. My current career provides me with enough money and plenty of spare time, so its win win. So I guess I'm looking at it more from the amateurs point of view, instead of the professionals.

    I thought an open source design model would help amateurs (albeit educated ones) collaborate with others, to create a better design than they could as a single person.

    I am totally aware of professionals not wanting to give away trade secrets, they cost so much to find and learn, both in time and money. I dont like asking people simple questions, especially professionals. There are plenty of books and information around that will teach you the basics. Right now, Amazon is sending me broke and Marchaj is sending me crazy.

    I guess were all here to learn, just some people like to be spoon fed. Dont take that the wrong way Magwas, its not a shot at you.

    Adam
     
  7. Guest625101138

    Guest625101138 Previous Member

    The difficulty is finding enough like minded people who are willing to go down the same path. Boats are quite individualistic. You are trying to start a class of boat without anything tangible in the first place.

    You could start a thread and see how many join in. People with requisite knowledge who are currently being paid for their output are unlikely to get involved.

    I have seen one such attempt that has not made any progress. The creator of the open source idea was happy to call it open source but unless the input met his narrow criteria of the design others' input was squashed.
    http://www.openwaterbike.com/

    There are some projects listed here:
    http://open-innovation-projects.org/project-list/

    If you could get three or four people involved all heading down the same route with similar resources and aspirations you might get critical mass. It would add some competitive spirit to it.

    If the project becomes really successful in producing a desirable boat you might find the originators become more protective of the intellectual property they have created. Having the project on an open forum like this means the information will indeed be freely available.

    Rick W
     
  8. bistros

    bistros Previous Member

    I work in the open source software world, and I feel that most people's understanding of open source lacks foundation.

    Open source is a synonym for the traditional academic model of publishing and sharing research. It is not intended to mean a free for all, steal what you like environment for ransacking people's intellectual property. It is perfectly well accepted that much of the code published under open source licensing is commercial and profitable - just not closed. MySQL & OpenOffice (Sun), Apache Webserver (Apache Foundation), Firefox, Seamonkey & Thunderbird (Mozilla Foundation), Ubuntu (Canonical), PHP (Zend) are all profitable enterprises - and some are remarkable commercial businesses.

    The intent of open source licensing is to provide a structure where the code and research done is published and can be improved and contributed to by those that follow - under the rule that subsequent modifications and improvements be published again for the advancement of the state of the art. There is nothing mentioned in the popular licenses regarding price be free and assigning intellectual property ownership away from the creator.

    As an engineer, I live and survive on the value of the products I produce - and I also heavily use open source foundations for these products. Am I worried about "giving away" my efforts? Not in the slightest. Why? Because realistically my clients are paying for my hands-on expertise in understanding their needs, making things work, and keeping them running. The service aspect of the code I write is where my profit lies, not the acquisition price of the code.

    To great degree, much of the naval architecture world works the same although it does not realize or admit such. When someone buys plans and drawings from a designer, they've got the "source code" to a design and could duplicate it endlessly at minimal cost - but they don't. The real value in dealing with someone like PAR is your ability to interact, talk and work with him to meet your needs - basically, most designs are customized to a great degree, and therein lies the value of dealing with him.

    People assume open source means "free as in free beer", but in the real world it means "free as in freedom". The real value in any design and engineering discipline is service and interaction - that is what people are willing to pay for - and it isn't easily duplicated or stolen by thieves.

    The propaganda that open source is a free for all where intellectual property is stolen is a media campaign by special interest groups interested in maintaining the bubble economy fiction that intellectual property is a balance sheet asset. Ideas do not have value - execution of ideas does.

    --
    Bill
     
    1 person likes this.
  9. apex1

    apex1 Guest

    But hits the nail!

    There are quite a lot of people here willing to share their knowledge without any limitation, that is proven daily. Even the most sophisticated question on a subject matter finds one or more pro´s willing to share their experience for free.
    In all those years here I never found a situation where one real expert conceiled information for being "secret" or refused to share because he usually gets paid for it. Not one!

    But of course, there are conditions.

    Doing some legwork, homework, to know how, and what to ask, is helpful.
    Dumb questions provoke dumb replies.

    Politeness makes a communication easier and attracts more supporters.

    Telling us we have the obligation to share our knowledge, because otherwise we act unsocial (like Magwas did), is just mad.

    Drivel and banter destroys every thread, nobody is willing to walk through a swamp of non related rubbish to offer his support.

    Political statements and opinions are a perfect way to end up in fights instead of gaining knowledge.

    This is a international Forum, and the better educated here know that there are smart people all over the world.
    Waving your national flag on top of every post, most likely restricts the pool of supporters to those with the same narrow mind.

    The ability of questioning your own ideas is worth a hundred years of experience!

    (every week there is at least one person encountering me with the phrase: "I have a good idea". I never waste my time listening to those ideas. The proof was in the formulation, it is´nt a good idea, at least not a mature one. I still have to wait for the intelligent one who tells me: "I have a idea, what do you think about it?")

    To the topic:

    that open source model cannot function here! Far too different are the personal opinions what a good boat for the individual purpose might be.
    Not by coincidence we have the daily repeated request to "change" existing plans for personal reasons. Bear in mind there are ten thousands of plans on the market.
    Do´nt think about it, it is not to achieve.

    Regards
    Richard

    Here another, quite recent opinion about how supportive this Forum is:
    I shortened it.
     
  10. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    I think the major differences that prevent open source techniques from being particularly successful in yacht design is that unlike much of code writing, yacht design is subjective and speculative in nature.

    It would be a fairly easy task if there was a perfect, but hardly attainable yacht model out there in the minds of everyone. Yacht design is often intuition and not hard, sterile code writing.

    You can take two identical yachts and have a different designer develop new appendages for each. In a normal world the "improved products" should fall along similar engineering and science models, but not yacht design. Conversely, you may have two very dissimilar approaches, with no clear advantage. In other words the results can often be quite subjective and difficult to quantify.

    A classic example would be the fin of AC winner Australia II. One would think this was a revelation and all yachts should sport such proboscis like things on their fins. Initially, this was the case with literally direct knock offs and look-a-likes. Eventually, and not too soon after, further evidence suggested the fin protrusions weren't what they initially seemed and they started to shrink and change shape. Now the likes of these appendage decorations are an indication of how old the technology is, used on your yacht.

    This fluid and continuous, evolutionary development of concept and principle is far different, then the nearly and neatly hard and fast rules of other occupations or trains of thought.
     
  11. tkk
    Joined: Jul 2009
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    tkk Junior Member

    Paul, I think your comparison to software industry was a little superficial and I think your knowledge of of that business is on the same level as mine is of boat design:D I consider myself a semi informed amateur, who can read, listen and mostly understand the pros but not do the stuff myself. In software I have a 27 yrs professional experience, about the same you have in yours, right?

    Writing code could be compared to planking the boat, the final implementation of the ideas. Open source software includes the design of the solutions as well and that part is more like the designing of boats.

    What is different is that making software and solving the problems has always been divided into smaller tasks, modules. It is standard practise to have different people solving those parts of the problem and the individual parts can not be commercially utilized on their own.

    If I find a way to improve any small detail like the gooseneck in a boat I can always start producing my hardware and selling it to builders and yards. No such possibilities in software.

    If I invent for example a nice way to make the buttons work on a screen it has no commercial value on its own. If I give it to an open source effort I am not giving away anything worth some money. In the open source community I at least get respect from my peers for my contribution.

    tkk
     

  12. magwas
    Joined: Oct 2009
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    magwas Senior Member

    PAR wrote: "Most of us would like to have some proprietary level of understanding design concepts. It's literally the only advantage an individual designer has over any other designer. This "uniqueness" of education, experiences, tastes and desire is what molds them and it shows in their work, traits and preferences."

    I admittedly do not know much about boat design, but I think that advantage lies at least two levels beyond the ability to apply knowledge of mechanics and hydrostatics. It is hard to me to believe that boat designs differ only in what the different designers had learn from physics.

    TollyWally wrote: "You can ask educated intelligent questions and people will be glad to help."
    I do believe that I did my homework every time I was asking a question. I had a (I thnik) very basic question, which is asked after hours of research. I made a point to ask it in a way which is thoroughly conforms to netiquette. To what end? You can see it here: http://www.boatdesign.net/forums/bo...ydrostatic-small-cat-first-attempt-30797.html
    In more than one time I had the feeling that those who answered did not even bother to read my post.


    Adamadam wrote: "I thought an open source design model would help amateurs (albeit educated ones) collaborate with others, to create a better design than they could as a single person."

    This is my point too.

    "I am totally aware of professionals not wanting to give away trade secrets, they cost so much to find and learn, both in time and money."
    Well, I can understand that someone does not want to give away trade secrets. But I fail to realize what is the trade secret in the very basics of boat design. (And at least in software it is much more beneficial to exchange those "hardly earned secrets" (you get back orders of magnitudes more because the sheer number of people taking place in the exchange) than keep them secret.)

    bistros wrote: "As an engineer, I live and survive on the value of the products I produce - and I also heavily use open source foundations for these products. Am I worried about "giving away" my efforts? Not in the slightest. Why? Because realistically my clients are paying for my hands-on expertise in understanding their needs, making things work, and keeping them running. The service aspect of the code I write is where my profit lies, not the acquisition price of the code."

    Yes. You can concentrate your efforts on the needs of your customer, and don't have to spend resources on details which is solved in a standard manner. It is because you can reuse the results of others' efforts, and you also make your efforts reuseable by others. I think if we take a broader look at the evolution of the computer industry, and take into account the speed of its development, we can better understand what we are facing here. There was a period also in computer industry when people have hidden their secrets. One such cause made RMS so upset he formally started the free software movement, which has transformed to the open source movement as we know it today. Nowadays it is clear that open source is superior to the "traditional" business model in the majority of areas, the software industry is already changing, and it is only a matter of time until open source will be considered to be the usual way of business. (it is worth mentioning that the start of all industries are also open source: while there are only a few experts of a new revolutionary area, they exchange ideas freely. It is needed to start things moving.) Software is unique because a few factors: It came from the academic era where free exchange of information is the norm. It is evolved so fast that we got through the dark age while the ones remembering the beginnigs are still alive and active, so the culture and ethics of the first free exchange era have never ceased to exists. And IT is the technology which even brought in the means of efficient information exchange, without which the benefits of information exchange would be smaller than the related losses. From the viewpoint of a material industry which became mature hundreds of years before (when most people haven't been even able to write) this free information exchange idea seems to be a novel and useless one for a reason. People need time to understand its working and use it to their benefit. But this kind of things do happen, and did happen even before computers. Think of navigation or traditional farming. Navigation is an art of dealing with information, this is why it could largely transform even before computers. Traditional farming is a material industry where the transformation is much harder, but it is so old that it would seem ridiculous to try keeping the idea of crop rotation secret nowadays.

    apex1 wrote: "Drivel and banter destroys every thread, nobody is willing to walk through a swamp of non related rubbish to offer his support."

    Exactly. This is why you should stop doing it.
     
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