Maker’s desiderata

A few years ago Make Magazine posted The Maker’s Bill of Rights. [Update: link disappeared] I like the list, though I don’t like the name.

  • Meaningful and specific parts lists shall be included.
  • Cases shall be easy to open.
  • Batteries should be replaceable.
  • Special tools are allowed only for darn good reasons.
  • Profiting by selling expensive special tools is wrong and not making special tools available is even worse.
  • Torx is OK; tamperproof is rarely OK.
  • Components, not entire sub-assemblies, shall be replaceable.
  • Consumables, like fuses and filters, shall be easy to access.
  • Circuit boards shall be commented.
  • Power from USB is good; power from proprietary power adapters is bad.
  • Standard connecters shall have pinouts defined.
  • If it snaps shut, it shall snap open.
  • Screws better than glues.
  • Docs and drivers shall have permalinks and shall reside for all perpetuity at
  • Ease of repair shall be a design ideal, not an afterthought.
  • Metric or standard, not both.
  • Schematics shall be included.

I don’t like calling this a “bill of rights” because of the moral and legal overtones. The things in this list are not rights. They are generally desirable characteristics, and that’s what desiderata means.

Calling the list a maker‘s bill of rights is a little curious. It’s a list of things that some consumers look for in suppliers, namely consumers who call themselves “makers.” But suppliers are literally makers: they make things that makers want to open and tinker with.

3 thoughts on “Maker’s desiderata

  1. Several years ago I helped build the playground at my daughter’s newly opened school, and we had to use a custom tool to put everything together. (I assume because you don’t want it to be easy for people to take apart.) The foreman mentioned that he once had a group of convicts put together a playground. After they finished, one of the guards noticed what they were using. The jail used the same type of screws, for obvious reasons. Strip searches for everyone!

  2. I would love to see how the price/size/contract requirements/etc. of modern devices (e.g. cell phones) would have to change if these design requests were implimented.

    99% of the time there are very good, non-nefarious, reasons ‘makers’ have a difficult time gaining access to a well engineered product. A large portion of the reasons stem from either the product’s price point or legal precedents. Torx vs tamperproof is a good example of legal precedents. We had to make this change after a competitor of ours was sued by an injured ‘maker’. They accessed a panel with torx and claimed the large high voltage stickers were not adequate deterance. Apparently a ‘standard’ fastener (Torx) should not have been used.

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