Let me Introduce:
Fortunately i love bicycles, typewriters, radios and other wonderful scientific instruments that are really open and make sense when i can observe them - resulting in a imagination of how would it might work based on the observations of its mechanisms. They call for one's attention, & tears down the fear of breaking down into simple sub-modules to understand how they work, why they work, the complete design, bridging empathy between the labour spent in make it work and the user (me and you). It helps me to appreciate the labour and respect the instrument as a whole when it is open. I believe for most humans it is likely so.
I happen to came across spectrometers in my early years as Research Intern. Very soon i understood their ubiquity and scaling nature, diversity of applications that are built with spectrometers. It is one of those rare scientific instruments that help people to analyse the micro(biological cells...) as well as to analyse the macro(planets, stars...)
I wondered many times why such a useful instrument has not been democratized. I began my search and ended up with hackaday.io discussing with fl@c@t while attempting to complete RAMANPI. Although i am not good at programming or coding i could read the efforts of the initiated team committed to make the project completely knowledge transparent - which actually is necessary in conventional public funded research institutions where still the unnatural "know how and knowledge transfer" process are enforced. I have witnessed them and really felt being in stone ages of research and development, atleast in my country.
With further efforts i found Public Lab in Internet where i believe that people really do take action for which they stand for. Very similar in ethical design of hackerspaces, appropedia, etc... i have been really following the updates and discussions, mailing lists often. But i have been passive so far - just listening.
Since i love spectrometers, spectroscopy and its intrinsic underpinned connections between materials and energy, naturally it guided me to help make the instruments as open as possible. With that thought, and opportunity to design a prototype spectrometer from scratch, using new kind of devices was exciting - and started integrating analog, digital, software, web components together - a NIR AOTF spectrometer.
My attention towards spectroscopy and spectrometers turned towards answering the question : How to make it really useful. ? How come most of the society can benefit from it ? If some kind of spectrometer is used in almost every man made satellites launched every now and then, why is it not democratized like a kitchen utility and put into daily usage. After all it has several magnificent usage that has the power to provide people with capabilities ranging from inspection, to measuring nutrition content, pragmatic education - like Telescopy, Microscopy, Magnetic Compass, Sextants, Radio, why not Spectroscopy through spectrometers offered for students. ???
Current Limitations & Emergence
Why not be use it for Bio-Medical applications. However, i have known that the current dominant economic model in operation at global and local level, will eventually pollute the initial good intention as it has already done to many scientific applications - because of its very little/narrowed view of world only in terms of profit and power enclosure.
However on the other hand, with Internet & Web - communities, forums have progressed steadily for decades making active changes in human knowledge, information consumption pattern, both in +ve & -ve ways. After all internet is just a pure networked and informational representation of human society. With participative and collaborative communities, technology has progressed on one hand - where public lab is one such good proof. While on the contrary, we have massive information & technological silos that are always consuming volunteered labour and transforming into social capital, from which further power and profit are pressed out.
I fear that industrial acceleration of production means to deliver products for mass consumption - in the case of scientific instruments will eventually be legally hijacked and knowledge of building it would stay behind the pay walls and law walls. This is where communities, hackerspaces emerge out of frustration, interest, love for hacking, tinkering, playing, curious to observe and change systems - have acted provocatively and brought a progressive change in almost every possible fields.
Such recent examples are : Ultrascope, Public lab's DIY Spectrometers, other instruments in Appropedia & GOSH, OpenLabTools, PLOS - Open Source Toolkit etc., With the help of GNU distros, Open programming Languages, Simulating systems, Modeling paradigms, Open publications, Open Data, Open Design Tools, etc... Open Instrumentation will flourish. Eventually with the help of Open Access movements and Alexandia Elbakyans' effort on Sci-hub.cc has helped me to pursue my scientific temper and interest even after leaving my internship or conventional research practice.
Open Instrument = Open Science + Open Research + Open Data + Open Publication + Open Design + Free S/W + Free H/W
I am going to help wherever possible by writing wiki's, research notes and contributing design ideas, suggestions, programming, etc... in booting a instrument which would evolve into a practically useful tool on par with commercially available paywalled, anti-knowledge instruments. Happy about being a ProdUser with the help of Commons Based Peer Production. Thanks forever Public labs, Hackaday for creating such platforms.