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When can you call it your own design?
When can you call it your own design?
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Old 17th February 2012, 02:44 AM   #1
understress is offline understress  United States
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Default When can you call it your own design?

My apologies if this has been asked before, but I did not find it with searches.

Regarding circuit design, when can you call it your design, versus calling it 'inspired by xxx', or 'modeled after xxx', etc?

If someone takes a Hiraga design and builds it exactly as originally designed, that seems to be clearly a Hiraga design. But what if you change transistors to newer parts? What if you change a resistor value or two? What about changing the voltage rail values?

What if you take a Pass design (commercial or otherwise, and not infringing on patents) and modify it?

In some ways it seems as if there are only so many ways you can build an amplifier, you are really just 'copying' older designs to some degree. A class A amplifier is required to have certain traits, same for the other classes. When negative feedback is used, the first person to 'discover' this, patent it, commercialize it, etc isn't credited that I've ever seen.

So, in some ways it seems that we are all just copying or slightly modifying designs from the past. Probably most times without even knowing it.

My interest in audio design, especially amplifiers, has been rekindled as they say. So, I've been looking at various designs found on the web, stuff here, buying and reading books, etc to get my mind going again in this direction.

And this has me wondering, if I take a design I like, how much modification is required before I can start to think of it as my own? Not that I want to take credit for anything, but I'd like to know at what point I can consider a design to have been figured out by me, versus just a copy / modification.

Or maybe that is only held true when you start with a blank piece of paper and start truly from scratch?

I'm looking to find out what others think, when do they think a design is 'theirs' versus a copy or modification of a design that they found inspiring.

Any and all thoughts are greatly appreciated.

Scott
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Old 17th February 2012, 03:53 AM   #2
jkuetemann is offline jkuetemann  Canada
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Many seem to post a 'new design' only to discover the basic arrangement has been done before, often much earlier and even commercially.

I think in DIY, if you cooked it up yourself, based on your knowledge and experience then even if it resembles something already done it is still yours. A patent lawyer may disagree, but that's another story.

Now modification of an existing design, especially a parts substitution and value changes I feel are a different matter. Take an old amplifier that needs repair. Alas the correct parts were no longer available and I had to substitute different parts and then change a few values to make it work as originally intended. In that case it isn't a new amplifier that is mine. I just repaired an old design and changed it so that new parts would function. Modify something enough and it morphs into something different. I agree with your original question, at which point is it truly different? I feel this would require some significant additions / omissions / substitutions of the fundamental blocks which the original design was comprised of. Personally, I'd suggest one would have to make significant alterations of at least one major stage in an amplifier, for example the input or VAS or output, before you could possibly call it something distinctly different. Maybe more would be required?

IMHO, there are only so many combinations and permutations of the parts used in electronic design. The basic building blocks are all there and much of the creativity is in combining and tuning these blocks to get the result you are after. There have been some pretty unique designs on here that look original to me, but who knows, such designs may already have been done elsewhere. There's only so many ways the blocks will interface together to get a useful design and this is why so many of these circuits look at least familiar.
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Old 17th February 2012, 09:14 AM   #3
Enzo is online now Enzo  United States
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What if you sat down with your slide rule, some transistor data books, and a pencil and paper, and designed some amplifier circuit from scratch. It even works. You just designed it, it is your design. Now then the next day, you discover that your new design is part for part identical with some existing design. Yours is original and yet it is not. SO now the question becomes - what are you trying to say?

If you want to tell yourself you accomplished something good and this is your design, then go ahead, it is true. If you want to market this design, then you have to watch your claims.
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Old 17th February 2012, 09:40 AM   #4
sofaspud is offline sofaspud  United States
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+1 and +1
plus
A person couldn't claim to be designer of the Class A or the Class B amplifier. They each have long-established characteristics that make them what they are. But if a designer conceives of a new way of imparting those characteristics, the design is theirs. The uninformed won't care about names and credit anyhow, and the informed will be aware of the novel use of technology and recognize the originator.
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Old 17th February 2012, 10:14 AM   #5
epicyclic is offline epicyclic  United Kingdom
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Quads current dumper might be a good example.
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Old 17th February 2012, 11:24 AM   #6
homemodder is offline homemodder  Portugal
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jkuetemann View Post
Many seem to post a 'new design' only to discover the basic arrangement has been done before, often much earlier and even commercially.

I think in DIY, if you cooked it up yourself, based on your knowledge and experience then even if it resembles something already done it is still yours. A patent lawyer may disagree, but that's another story.
Did it ever occor to you many are

Im glad patent lawyers disagree, if you have the knowledge and experience where did it come from ???. Part from studying other peoples designs, no ?? and the reason prior art is always included in patents.
It is also very easy for the said designer to lie about it, saying he had no prior knowledge of someone elses work, how can one prove it ??.
Then you get the hacks like changing a bjt to a mosfet in a circuit and claiming inovation. He would never have thought the circuit out himself but saw someone else use so just change a component here or there and claim inovation.
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Old 17th February 2012, 11:39 AM   #7
AndrewT is offline AndrewT  Scotland
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I accept all of the earlier questions and replies as valid.

I will propose a method of differentiating a "copy" from a clone "based on" a different circuit, from a "new design".

A "copy" uses the same devices and the same component values as the original.
A clone "based on" uses the same topology and incorporates some different component types and/or incorporates some different component values to achieve substantially the same outcome.
A new design that is "based on" could incorporate the same components types but crucially uses different component values to achieve a significantly different outcome.

A "new design" would have at least a different topology in at least one significant part of the circuit that also uses different component values to achieve any outcome.
eg, changing the topology of a CCS in an otherwise similar amplifier circuit would not be a new design, if that would not realise a significant change in the overall circuit performance.

BTW,
there are other Threads discussing this topic.
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Last edited by AndrewT; 17th February 2012 at 11:41 AM.
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Old 17th February 2012, 11:57 AM   #8
jkuetemann is offline jkuetemann  Canada
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Quote:
Originally Posted by homemodder View Post
... if you have the knowledge and experience where did it come from ???. Part from studying other peoples designs, no ?? ...
I agree, at least in part. We all learn our craft, whatever that may be in life, from those who have gone before us, save for those true pioneers who do it first. You make it sound like no one has the intelligence to figure out how to design a circuit armed with basic knowledge and the tools to experiment. If someone sat down with a good basic electronics text or two at a decent test bench with a bin of parts at their disposal I'm sure many could 'create' much of what we see here from scratch. Given enough time and motivation this process would allow the designer to gain experience and ultimately improve design choices.

They would, of course, be re-inventing the wheel. It makes more sense to look at existing designs and then work on understanding what makes it good or bad. It is the understanding that allows us to drive forward in a methodical way and make meaningful improvements as we go.

I agree that some stretch the truth to try and differentiate their 'design' from what came before, and often with success. If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bull s..t.
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Old 17th February 2012, 12:01 PM   #9
Osvaldo de Banfield is online now Osvaldo de Banfield  Argentina
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The question in interesting, but the answer may be ambiguous. Carrying the question to another facts of life, I can ask: which pizza is the original one and which are copies?
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Old 17th February 2012, 12:16 PM   #10
sofaspud is offline sofaspud  United States
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uhhh..... you mean like the mayonnaise pizza?
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