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Thread: PJRC preference wrt. Teensy derivatives schematics and board files?

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    PJRC preference wrt. Teensy derivatives schematics and board files?

    Hey Paul and Robin and others involved in Teensy and Teensy development!

    I'm asking if you would prefer the schematics and/or board files of Teensy 4.x derivatives, those relying on an MKL02 from PJRC on each, to not be made public.

    I like this community, and regardless of what I can do legally, I do not want to do anything that harms PJRC or this community; and as my background is in software, I do not completely understand the various implications if the schematic and board files of "my" variant were in the open. In particular, I do not want to help anyone make poor fake clones.

    I'm considering the feasibility of designing a variant of Teensy 4.0 that would be optimally suited for controlling small displays, especially those with a local display controller chip, using a parallel DMA'd bus, for hobbyists like myself to manufacture and build themselves.

    Mostly, that involves exposing as wide FlexIO with DMA capability as possible, at the expense of exposing all the other functionality the RT1062 provides. So, just a different set of pins exposed on the Teensy 4, really. This is not a commercial project: this is purely a hobby project for me, to build new skills, and solve a problem the way that satisfies myself. I definitely do not want to make it commercial even at the smallest scales, and as such, would prefer to keep my schematics and board files open, so I could easily ask for comments and suggestions, and let anyone else interested build or derive their own copies, as long as they too get their preprogrammed MKL02 chips from PJRC. I've never designed or even soldered BGA before, and any help I could get here or at EEVBlog forums would probably be the difference between success and failure... Even if I complete the design at some point, there is (historically) only a 50% chance that I end up building and testing the design! I'm an uncle bumbleduck.

    However, if publicly accessible schematics and board files are not optimal wrt. PJRC and/or the Teensy community, for whatever reason, I'll pick a different approach: the main reason I consider Teensy 4.x perfect for this use case is Teensyduino, and undermining that would be extremely counterproductive for myself.

    Note: I haven't even made the tool to pick the BGA pads yet, so this is only a preliminary question, one that I really haven't seen discussed yet when custom Teensy variants has been discussed.

    Optimally, I'd love to see this preference stated as say footnote or similar on the MKL02 store page.

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    Ping? @Paul?
    Quote Originally Posted by Nominal Animal View Post
    I'm asking if you would prefer the schematics and/or board files of Teensy 4.x derivatives, those relying on an MKL02 from PJRC on each, to not be made public.

  3. #3
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    First, this message isn't legal advice. Generally speaking, legal advice comes from an attorney you've hired, not forum messages on the internet.

    Now with that in mind, yes, of course it's ok to publish your own schematic and circuit board layout, even if they are derived from Teensy's schematic. We publish that schematic and sell bootloader chips specifically so you can create your own projects or products using the Teensy design.

    While derivative works may strictly speaking be a matter of copyright, what matters most about copyright is the effect publishing the derivative work has upon the value of the original material. In this particular case, especially in the context of the bootloader chip documentation, the schematic is clearly meant to help you create your own derivative design.

    But whatever you make, you must not name it "Teensy" or any other name confusingly similar to Teensy. The name Teensy is a registered trademark, which means people who buy Teensy can know with certainty that any product using the Teensy name was made by PJRC, or by special license agreement where PJRC is involved (today the only such case is SparkFun MicroMod Teensy). For an example of what not to do, we recently had a thread where someone made a board with the MK66FX1M0 chip in Arduino Mega form factor and has a preliminary name "TeensyMega 3.6". They have since renamed it "MK66Mega", which is perfectly fine as far as PJRC is concerned. It's ok to create such a design using the same pin connections as Teensy 3.6, but it must not have a name where anyone viewing the product without detailed knowledge of who made it could mistake it for "Teensy" which comes from PJRC.

    If you're feeling worried, just to put your mind at ease, know that Robin & I aren't litigious types. While that's not a promise we wouldn't take action in some cases, generally speaking we make Teensy and run PJRC every day to help everyone achieve awesome electronic projects. That is who we are and what we're about. So I would say, focus on making your custom project and go ahead and publish whatever technical info you wish regarding your design. Just resist the urge, especially if you ever intend to sell the hardware, to name it something like TeensyXYZ. Give it a distinctive name, maybe regarding it's intended use, form factor, special capabilities, or just something random-ish. And if it works out well, please do post info at least 1 photo or video in the Blog Article Submission Forum and especially if details like schematics or code are shared, we'll probably show it on the website.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulStoffregen View Post
    If you're feeling worried, just to put your mind at ease, know that Robin & I aren't litigious types.
    Oh no, that's absolutely not a worry. I've been a satisfied customer since Teensy 2.0 era, I know how you run your business. I've ran a company myself, and actually know about both local and international law that applies here; and I've paid attention to how you treat your employees and customers and support the community. I know you value ethics, and I completely approve: you have my support.

    What I am/was worried about, is how to go about this without causing any indirect harm to anyone or the community. I want to contribute in a harmless, positive way, that's all.
    (I saw the thread you referred to, and immediately became concerned about the name, for the reasons you outlined. I'm glad it was resolved in a positive manner. But it also shows that the MKL02 page could use an update to clarify this, somehow.)

    The next step for me is to build some tooling to explore how to select the pads on the BGA. I'll probably make it a self-contained web page (or, rather, implement it as a local HTML+CSS+Javascript file). I've seen others doing something similar, so perhaps that might be of use for someone else here, too. (I still haven't finished my Teensy 4.0/4.1 pin selector interactive web page/tool, because I haven't done anything where I'd need a different set of pins... but that too will be completed, some day, I hope!)

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