A low cost, open source and open hardware, wireless optical communication system!
Here’s Koruza, the first open-source wireless optical communication system for urban environments, which connects locations up to 150 m apart, using an eye-safe infrared light beam, empowering last‑mile networking with 1 Gbps and 10 Gbps throughputs, unaffected by radio spectrum saturation and without having to install fibre.
Let’s talk about this incredible project, one of the ten finalists of the R.O.M.E. Prize at the IV Edition of Maker Faire Rome – The European Edition 4.0 with Luka Mustafa who has developed Koruza in collaboration with the Institute IRNAS
Q. Hi Luka, we’re so glad to see you again! Tell us something about you
A. Hi! I am Luka Mustafa, a Shuttleworth Foundation Fellow and a PhD student at University College London, working full-time on wireless optical system KORUZA development at Institute IRNAS Rače that I founded in Slovenia in 2014. I am leading a multidisciplinary team, developing open systems ranging from CNC machines to electronics and fibre optic systems, promoting and deploying open wireless networks in wlan slovenia project, as well as managing national and international wireless backbones.
Q. What about your project? It’s really interesting!
A. KORUZA is an easily scalable light-speed network system for urban environments that doesn’t need digging trenches and is avoiding a whole set of limiting factors: cable laying expenses, regulations, territory ownership, frequency congestion etc. Using transceivers ten times cheaper than other optical connectors, KORUZA can be set-up cheap and in a matter of hours. It can connect locations up to 150 m apart, using an eye-safe infrared collimated light beam, empowering last-mile networking with 1 Gbps and 10 Gbps throughputs.
GoodEnoughCNC was created in the process of KORUZA development, when we realized we need an open-source baseline manufacturing solution for prototyping and small series production. This is how we created affordable and versatile CNC solutions, to enable simple production anywhere around the world and to change how we manufacture things. GoodEnoughCNC’s philosophy is to offer effective digital manufacturing tools that are good enough for most of the applications an average maker needs. We made it open-source, using standard components and publishing documentation with instructions online.
Q. What are the materials, technologies and machines used to project and realize it?
A. My design focus is leveraging a large number of off-the-shelf components, designed and produced for various purposes, and using digital fabrication for joining them into new and useful solutions. Project KORUZA clearly demonstrates this approach, since the 3D printable version 1.0 is exactly that: joining a large number of such components, namely SFP electro-optical transceivers, Raspberry Pi, stepper motors and nuts and bolts into a precise and operational communications device. The downside of the 3D printable design is its suitability for scale manufacturing. This problem is solved with the next version, KORUZA Pro, by using a combination of of-the-shelf components and custom designed parts to simplify the manufacturing and assembly process, such that we can meet the production demand in a timely fashion.
GoodEnoughCNC hybrid is built from standard mechanical components and steel profiles with just basic power and hand tools, needed for assembly. Hybrid CNC uses ToslinkCNC, fiber optic CNC machine control system, a very simple yet robust solution we developed to get rid of ground loops and interference.
Q. You shared with us the IV Edition of Maker Faire Rome – The European Edition 4.0. What did it mean for you?
A. Being able to present our projects, KORUZA and GoodEnoughCNC to such a big audience of the Maker Faire Rome, as well as meet so many makers from Italy and around the world, share our findings with them and discuss potential collaborations, was an exciting and inspiring experience. This year we were also among the finalists for the R.O.M.E. Prize, and although we did not win, we are really grateful for this recognition and the given opportunity.
Q. Could you easily interact with the public, visitors and other makers?
A. Of course, the makers community is usually very approachable, curious and open and this was no different in Rome. Although we know very little Italian, it was still pretty easy to interact with everyone. As well, we had set up the demos of our machines, which somehow speak for themselves, therefore not many words were needed to understand what was going on.
Q. Thanks to Maker Faire Rome – The European Edition 4.0 and the R.O.M.E Prize you’ve gained an international visibility. What are your expectations now?
A. We took this nomination as a confirmation of our good work and as a motivation for future endeavours. We hope this additional exposure will lead to some research and business collaborations, as well as bring new customers of our products.
Q. What kind of advice would you give to those who really want to turn their ideas into a concrete project?
My advice would be to simply start making and learn along the way, and of course to take advantage of existent open-source knowledge, rapid prototyping and digital fabrication techniques. Perhaps making was never so accessible and affordable as it is today. I also suggest connecting with like-minded makers, ask for advice, start collaborating and at the end, not forget to give back to the community by sharing the results.
Q. What are your plans for the future?
For KORUZA project we are establishing the manufacturing facilities for at-scale-production at the moment, to be able to effectively deliver KORUZA Pro to the market from 2017 on and enable companies worldwide to deliver optical internet speeds, improving how the last mile networks are built.
With GoodEnoughCNC we want to further explore the possibilities of distributed manufacturing. With our affordable »suitcase« CNC machine, which can be taken almost anywhere, we lowered the entry step in digital manufacturing and therefore empowered communities for local production practically everywhere around the world. We’re now searching for partners, active on the field in developing countries, to together with them create an effective pipeline from open-hardware designs and local digital manufacturing, to useful solutions for the real life challenges.
The overall goal for the future is to form an ecosystem of open thinking, skilled individuals and efficient manufacturing with my non-profit organization Institute IRNAS as the leader in problem solving, by creating future-proof open-hardware, and the for-profit company Fabrikor as the open-hardware production entity.
Thank you so much Luka for your interview and for sharing with us the IV Edition of Maker Faire Rome – The European Edition 4.0. And congratulations for your project!