#87 – An Interview with Ian Daniher – Nascent Nonolith Numquid



Welcome, Ian Daniher of Nonolith Labs!

NOTE: For those who asked, the Open Source Hardware Definition. Point 4, you cannot call your product “Open Source Hardware” or “Open Hardware” if you use any form of Non-Commercial clause in a license, nor can you use the OSHW logo.


  1. says

    I saw this microcontroller, STM32F100RB, for $4.79 and $15 for a development board on digikey, if anybody is interested. I bought my first microcontroller ATmega32U4 and it has no DAC channels.

    32-Bit 24MHz I²C, IrDA, LIN, SPI, UART/USART DMA, PDR, POR, PVD, PWM, Temp Sensor, WDT 51 128KB (128K x 8) FLASH – 8K x 8 2 V ~ 3.6 V

    A/D 16x12b; D/A 2x12b

    • Jana says

      STM has a lot of very cheap dev boards out there. Assuming STM wants to attract some hobbyists, too, then their problem isn’t the dev boards, but the development environment. There is no open-source STM8 compiler worth to mention, and getting an open-source compiler running for an STM32 with its ARM core is still a PITA. STM didn’t get that just throwing a bunch of commercial trial versions, Windows-only at potential users doesn’t cut it.

      By the way, they were talking about an AT_X_mega, not an ATmega in the show.

  2. Zyvek says

    Wow Dave was in rare form today, I don’t think I felt as bad for a guest since the abused the BeagleBoard guy!

    Like the Beagleboard, I would have liked to learn more about the device from the show.

    I love Dave’s rants but at least let the guest get settled in before you tell him everything he’s doing wrong. :-)

    OK, listener rant over. :-). Keep on keeping on – can’t wait for next week

    • says

      Well, Dave was absolutely correct. He was also correct the third, fourth, and fifth time he said it. So correct, in fact, that we corrected our error. We’re now 100% OSHW compliant. 😀

      • FreeThinker says

        Well….when he is right he is right (even when he is WRONG he is right until YOU prove it) that’s why we love him :) Lol. But I feel you ruffled his feathers for some reason….it was great to listen to, and was that Chris chuckling quietly I heard? Shame on you for subjecting a friend to this and not reigning in Dave, Great show.

  3. Joe Ferner says

    I agree with Dave on the screen per instrument. Having specialized interfaces per device is a good thing. Just like I wouldn’t want to type a novel on a tablet or layout a PCB or code without having dual monitors.

    • says

      I understand the “right tool for the job” sentiment, but I’m not convinced that buttons and knobs are the best possible user interface for the hardware we all know and love.

      There has to be a better way of looking at signals than turning a knob to zoom in the time axis, a knob to zoom in the amplitude axis and another pair to pan. Let’s not even go into triggering or data logging or the advanced math function some scopes offer…

  4. USB Scope says

    I usually enjoy your show but this episode was painful to listen to. Dave’s interrupting and badgered of Ian was pathetic and condescending. Ian was you GUEST.

  5. says

    Ian, It’s good that you are flexible enough to be able to change your “business model” so quickly. I think that’s what a licence change amounts to in reality. I suspect the non-commercial constraint wasn’t all that important to you anyway.

    And as a fellow OSHW developer, welcome to the brotherhood and good luck with your projects! :)

  6. Paul says

    I’d imagine that Dave spoke the way he did because Ian sat there talking so much empty business garbage talk – that dilbert so often makes light of. instead of talking about his test gear – I really hope the term “cavalier instrumentation” was a joke

  7. Jana says

    Regarding the i-voltmeter. Unlike what was claimed in the show, cheap Chinese multimeters don’t use ASICs. The super cheap ones, e.g. the prototypical DM830, use age old Intersil ICL7106 compatible CoBs. Middle class ones use Cyrustek chips like the ES51960. I mentioned the ES51960 because it is one of many meter ICs having a serial output. Adding a micro and a Bluetooth module is not difficult.
    There is IMHO a lot of bull in the i-voltmeter pitch, but it is not something technically impossible.
    By the way, any bets for how long it will take Apple to come after them for the”i” prefix?

    • Jope says


      I came to mention the ICL7106, but you beat me to it. :)
      Never heard about the ES51960 though.
      You can get Bluetooth modules with a UART interface under 10 bucks (USD or Euro) from Ebay.

  8. says

    Regarding the USB Scope issue, there’s no reason to argue the point. Ian or those like him should go out there and get funding to have one made and see what the market decides.

    I can’t stand the idea of a high-end USB Scope, BUT I couldn’t stand handheld computers with touch screens, and I’ve learned to love them.

    The reason I don’t like things plugging into computers is that computers (desktop, phones, tablets) that are design to do many things don’t seem to do any one thing really well or with low latency. Dedicated computers, like scopes or automotive fuel injection systems do a really good job at one thing. If general purpose computers get better, high-end USB scopes will be the classic case of an integrated system being disrupted by a modular system. I give it a 50% chance that scopes that connect to some kind of computer will be more common than standalone scopes in 20 year’s time.

    • Jana says

      I have no problem with oscilloscopes connected to a computer. The majority of cheap oscilloscopes can already be connected to one. That is nice for further processing data from the oscilloscope, remote controlling it, etc.
      [b]But I want my knobs and my oscilloscope screen.[/b]
      Just imagine having three or four screenless USB instruments all connected to one PC.You get crazy flipping between measurement applications to adjust something here and there. I know some people get a sense of achievement when they constantly have to mess with applications and click/tab here and scroll/slide there for ages. I don’t. I want to get the job done without having to click myself silly.
      And a web browser? Puh-leez, pointless. Just another useless piece of software getting in the way that can and will fail. What does a web browser bring to the game? Nothing, but trouble. But of course kids these days think if there isn’t a web browser in between it is old-school and can’t possibly work. In reality they just impose rubbish on us in the name of progress.

  9. CptJack says

    cavalier instrumentation ? ? ? LOL

    I would have gone with Knight Night Debugger.

    I also think that going with the ECCS (Electronic Component Containment System) rather than a traditional PCB is a winner!

  10. CptJack says

    The whole USB scope / Traditional scope interface… it sounds a little like the old school command line /GUI debate. Or should that be Young V Stuck in my ways Player.
    Personally, I would love scope with a couple of Android-ish Tablets, one with the traditional screen, the other with a TouchOSC type interface with a scripting engine.
    It probably

  11. says

    Wow, jeez. Did Dave get out of the wrong side of bed today or something? I really feel for Ian. I don’t care if Dave didn’t like the marketing language, running the poor guy over 4 or 5 times is a bit much. Maybe you should take a short break Dave, get away from work things. I know from personal experience how being self employed can kinda get to you after a time, and it’s very difficult to get away from. I dislike marketing speak as much as anyone (dislike is a mild way of putting it) but it is a necessary evil if you want to get development funding, and then get sales. You can be the best engineer in the world, with an absolute world-beater of a product, but you have to get it out there, and unfortunately that means marketing.

      • Jana says

        Sure? I thought he was using it as a way to express his instrument is for armchair users, who feel above using real instruments and heaven forbid, get their hands dirty when experimenting.
        In general I wish you both would let guests talk longer, and Dave not interrupting guests again and again. Where is duct tape when you need it? If you don’t agree with what your guest said you can use your next show to express your true feelings.

        • says

          > Sure?

          Yeah, I’m sure. It’s an inside joke with Chris and I, which is why I used the term “cavalier” as opposed to the more correct “flexible tool for curious people to muck about in the real world.”

          > I thought he was using it as a way to express his instrument is for armchair users, who feel above using real instruments and heaven forbid, get their hands dirty when experimenting.

          The CEE doesn’t replace “real instruments,” it’s just a different sort of tool. It was designed to let you use your computer to play with everything from vats of chemicals to tubes full of DNA to scavenged steppers.

    • says

      And for my next get-rich-quick-scheme…. cavalry instrumentation! For all your equine diagnostic needs.

      That said, “unceremonious” isn’t too far from the truth, but see below.

  12. kid says

    Something in his voice made him seem a little too young and assertive.

    I didn’t feel like I was going to learn anything from him and I could tell it was going to get awkward so I turned it off about 15 minutes in.

    I didn’t get to hear Dave go off on him but I’m sure it was warranted. Right around 12:00 minutes when he laughs in Dave’s face was the moment I knew things would get ugly.

    I’m guessing he’s just excited about his product, but I don’t think it’s very becoming to disrespect someone who probably has a lot more experience than my own.

  13. Frank says

    As a hobbiest, I bought a USB scope because of the price. I have an elab-080, which has 2 analog channels, 16 digital channels, 5 digital outputs, 2 analog outputs, signal generator, and 2 clock outputs. All for $495.

    I’d love a bench full of test equipment, but I don’t have the space or the money. If the Rigol 2 channel scope is $400, I’d expect a USB version to cost $200, or less. I don’t understand why most USB scopes are so expensive.

    • Frank says

      Yes, it is a bit dated now. Last software upgrade in 2007. But why can’t someone make something like this, higher spec’ed, at an affordable price.

  14. Steve says

    Due to a busy couple of weeks I have only just managed to catch the show. Reading the comments prior to listening I was cringing with anticipation (with some historical precedence) with regards to Dave’s reported harsh and repetitive verbal trouncing of the guest, Ian. After listening however, I was perplexed as to what everyone was referring to. I personally thought the response was quite measured and technically correct, in reply to Ian’s obvious surprise and scepticism with regards to the finer points of the OSHW licencing. Keep up the good work guys, enjoyed the show as per norm.