Here’s a new one. We’ve all heard of the term open source which is most commonly applied to software. The reality is that open source is a term applied to anything that can be engineered without any concerns about patent infringement. To that end, Christian Carlberg and Terry Cooke have designed the world’s first open source flashlight using open source mechanical and electrical designs in addition to software.Carlberg is best known for his engineering skills when it comes to building battle robots such as his Minion featuring a 14-inch saw blade. Now, instead of coming up with new ways to shred other robots, Carlberg has put his knowledge toward building a better flashlight. Cooke comes to the project with mechanical and electrical design experience from his work for NASA, as well as designing the 3D camera systems for the movie Avatar. It was Cooke’s expertise that helped put the “bright” into the HexBright according to Carlberg.The flashlight, called the HexBright, is made out of solid aircraft grade aluminum hex-bar stock, features a CREE XM-L super bright LED, will come in four colors and will be offered in two models. The HexBright Prime is 4.75 inches long and features a maximum output of 350 lumens. The flashlight is powered by 2 CR123A batteries and comes with three default modes including hi, low and flash. However, if you are looking for the Cadillac of flashlights then the HexBright Flex may be more up your alley.The HexBright Flex, which is slightly longer than the Prime model at 5.25 inches, offers a light intensity of up to 500 lumens which is five times greater than that of conventional LED flashlights. It is fully rechargeable through its micro-USB port thanks to its 18650 lithium-ion battery which is easily replaced. The Flex will ship with four default modes including hi, medium, low and flash, but one thing that differentiates it from other flashlights, besides its brightness, is that it can be re-programmed via USB. This allows the flashlight’s microprocessor firmware to be re-flashed when connected to a PC.The HexBright Flex will ship with easy interface software to program the flashlight, but the interface’s source code will also be provided. This will encourage the community to develop custom source code for it which will be supplied through the Hexbright.com website to allow users to swap and share lighting code. In regards to whether the HexBright models are waterproof, the Carlberg says that they are, “as waterproof as we can make it”, but he’s is still exploring the possibility of a cap for the Flex that you can screw off for sealing the USB port.Carlberg originally built a prototype of the HexBright Prime, but after conceiving the HexBright Flex he ran out of the money to actually make one. As a result, he turned to Kickstarter to fund the building of it while also using the opportunity to offer both HexBright models to the public. Carlberg had a goal of only $31,000 which would fund the manufacturing of 1000 HexBrights, but has now received pledges as of this week totaling twice that amount. As a result, Carlberg will use the extra money to put both HexBright models through tests to qualify them as “tactical lights.”The consequences of building a business model for a flashlight around open source is dependent upon what type of open source licensing is being used. A GPL license is a reciprocal licensing meaning that there are certain obligations around using it. For example, someone who distributes GPL software with their products would need to open source any of their software they ship with it. That could be the very reason Carlberg is offering the source code to re-flash the Flex since he may be falling into this obligation. A permissive license is less restrictive since there is no obligation to open source any product or application you may have just because you used open source.You can help fund the project, as well as receive one of the HexBright flashlights, by pledging $35 to receive a HexBright Prime or $60 to receive the HexBright Flex. Both pledge amounts include shipping within the USA. An additional $10 is required for shipping to Canada or $15 if shipped internationally. After the funding period is over, those who pledged an amount qualifying them to receive a HexBright will receive an email asking what color flashlight they would like. Carlberg currently estimates that he could possibly ship HexBright flashlights by the end of August.Read more at DeviceGuru and Kickstarter.
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