Entering the hardware industry is no straightforward task and presents a range of challenges to any startup or entrepreneur that’s willing to throw their hat into the ring. Thankfully though, you’re not on your own and there are many others who have gone before you. To help make life a little easier there are a huge range of resources and tools out there available for those who are willing to look for them, and these can make all the difference to your success. Read on for a list of some of the most useful resources for anyone developing hardware.
The Elements of Computing Systems: If you’re literally just starting with an idea and don’t yet have any idea how to build a circuit or even what a NAND gate is, then this book provides a great place to start that will help to guide you through the basics and get you started.
ElectronicDesign.Com: Another great site for learning, as well as for industry news. It also has a great community and an ‘ask the experts’ section.
TinyCAD: TinyCAD is a free and easy-to-use program for drawing circuit diagrams and schematics. It supports both standard symbol libraries and custom ones, and supports a range of formats.
Blender: Blender is a great piece of 3D modelling software. It’s not the most powerful piece of software in the world, but it is one of the best and the most widely used of all the free options and has a lot of great support (there’s an online tutorial for almost everything you need to do).
SnapEDA: SnapEDA is a site that aims to become a ‘GitHub for CAD’. In other words, this is a cloud platform where you can upload your CAD designs and view open source projects created by other people. At the same time, the site will also allow you to discuss your problems and network with other engineers and designers and potentially to find work or outsource jobs.
GitHub: That said, most hardware development involves at least some software so you may also find GitHub itself to be a useful tool for finding programmers or for collaborating on your firmware.
Stack Overflow: Another great resource for the coding side of things. Stack Overflow is essentially the ‘Yahoo Answers’ of programming, but what makes it stand out is just how helpful and knowledgeable its user base is. Who’d have thought that people would be willing to dedicate so much of their time to helping strangers with frustrating problems?
UL.com: Hardware manufacturers will need to get Federal Communications Commission approval before they can begin selling their products if they involve radio/telecommunications. This site will provide guidelines and help you to get that approval.
Kickstarter and Indigogo: Now you have your idea and your schematics, you’re going to need some funding to turn it into a reality. Once upon a time that would have been nigh impossible for an unheard-of OEM, but these days many hardware startups have managed to get a start through crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
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