How do you help?, or "How the heck does this thing work?!"

paul's picture

Well, It seems like it's time for my annual+ blog post, And as is becoming traditional, I will promise to write more often. I have a couple ideas for blog posts I need to write, but I did last time too. There is just plain too much to do, and not enough people to do it!
Which, plain leads to the topic of this blog post.
I was talking with a friend a while ago, and the inevitable conversation of "Why do you keep doing this as open source, and just do a regular company?" came up. Yes, It would be easier. We could get investors, not find sponsors. We could simply do work, or pay people to do it, not count on the network. We could have finished this already.
But that's not the point. 
The point is to allow everyone possible to help out. To help educate the public. to provide educational opportunities and inspiration to those who might not normally be able to. 
To bring a Love of space to everyone. To allow everyone who can see the moon take part in returning us there.
During this conversation, two questions came out. 
1, How exactly am I supposed to help? this will be long and the core of this post, so read about it below.
2, How does open source work?
Well first off, open source does not equal free. All of our content is licensed. No one will be making money on your/our work unless we say so, and the originator of the tech or idea will receive a negotiated percentage. We will not "steal" your work, nor will we allow someone else to. This, frankly, is another blog post. (This one is going to be long enough...)
So - How are you supposed to help? Well, It might be easier to explain how this is supposed to work in a few examples.
(This may get long, So grab a drink and get comfortable... There will be technical and non-technical examples.}
Let's say you have some technical skill, are working on something parallel all ready, or need a Senior design project. 
Start by going to the website and the wiki, generate an account on both, joining if you can. Look around the wiki for a project that is close to what you want. If none exists, (reasonably likely) generate one, linking it in in an appropriate location. Announce yourself, what your capabilities are, and how you would like to help. The project Manager (Nick Mosher as of this writing) may ask you to start an account with our project Management software. (Trello as of this writing)  If you want a project, or help finding a project, contact the team leader for the type of project you are interested in, and ask what needs to be done. When you do so though, include what sort of project you are interested in, what sort of capabilities and resources, including time, you are willing to bring to the project, and how long you expect to want to work on it.  Oh yes, and your citizenship, preferred language, (English is the language of choice for the project, but not the only language) and your time zone, remember, we are world wide. There will probably be some back and forth. (It would be best if you had some form of voice communications in addition to telephone.) Please don't say "Hey, this is cool, I want to help, What do you want me to do?"  A better request might go along the lines of "Hey, this is an awesome project, I want to help. I'm an Electrical Engineering undergrad, and I need a senior design project. My team and I are all undergrads, a team mate and I do electronics, one of the team is more about coding, and the fourth member is working with embedded systems, and likes control systems, so we think we would like to do something with control systems. We have the next eight months to finish it, and we need to have a complete project demonstrator finished. We have a faculty advisor, but we could use some help and advice from you." 
Awesome, That's what we want to see. How we will respond to the second one would probably be to offer several kinds, such as lander, suit, or output control systems. (Three that we need right now, there are more, bur these are three we identified for now.) once you pick one, say Lander, we would connect you to the PI/E for the lander system, and help you work up a project, and would provide whatever documentation your professors would need.
More to follow in Part 2  -

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