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Re: Open-source MRI hardware initiative project

I just want to complement (inlined with original email below) to
already good responses, and hope that you Broche would continue the
discussion by providing your feedback to our feedback ;)

On Sat, 09 Apr 2016, Broche, Lionel wrote:
> Hello Debian-Med team,

> I am a researcher in MRI hardware at the University of Aberdeen,
> Scotland. I am currently working on the development of a completely new
> type of MRI system (see ffc-mri.org), but I would like to avoid the
> traditional route of commercialisation as I see many problems with it.
> Instead, I have been thinking for a while of preparing an initiative for
> the development of open-source hardware in MRI.

> The aim of this initiative would be, in a first stage, to pool the
> technical solutions already in the public domain together so as to help
> small research labs like mine and, in a second stage, to create a rally
> point for these labs to share knowledge, resources and to organise
> collective work. If this proves successful, it may expand into a
> complete open source MRI hardware platform but that would be in the far
> future. I already approached several research groups who expressed their
> enthusiasm about this idea so there would be several academic
> participants to start with (at least 3, probably 5 to 8), and some of
> them are already willing to provide some designs.

> I would like to get some advices from the Debian Med community regarding
> several aspects:
> - What solution would you think is the most appropriate to organise a
> community portal? I do not have any IT help from my University on this
> project but I am willing to put a bit of my own money to get a server
> somewhere if necessary. Bear in mind that I have little training on how
> to maintain a website, though I can take some time to learn.

since no IT/$ support ATM, the best way IMHO would be to effectively use
available "Free" infrastructure:  

- github.com  -- create project organization, push your code there,
  provide source downloads for releases (so don't forget to tag them etc),
  use bug tracker system, ...

- travis-ci.org -- to the degree applicable, enable automatic
  testing/building/upload of your content (code, docs, ...)

- http://readthedocs.org -- if you develop documentation in rest/sphinx
  or even markdown -- could provide you automatic docs builds etc
  Very easy and efficient way to bootstrap documentation-oriented

- if you need mailing list or forum, you could create a project on
  http://nitrc.org/, which is although specific to neuroinformatics,
  could still be useful.

> - I know there is an active part of Debian Med that works on MRI
> software (and make great things, actually!), would any of them be
> interested in this initiative? If yes, what would you expect from it, or
> what would you be willing to provide at this stage? Also, would you have
> some recommendations so that open-sourced MRI hardware would easily
> interface with the already existing open-source software?

other recommendations were already expressed, but I guess

- you might still want it to interface with existing PAC system be it
  open-source (orthanc, xnat, ...) or proprietary

- depending on your target "consumer" you might want to provide "out of
  box" options for export of data in data formats which neuroimaging
  analysis toolkits can consume, e.g. nifti

- in the long run, providing some kind of programmable interface to
  control the beast and obtain the data "online" for real-time
  acquisition "closed loop" systems could be a neat feature

- would be nice if there was a simulator... have you looked at 
  Then interested folks could assess some kind of "applicability" I

> - Would you have any suggestions regarding the conduct of such a
> project? I have no experience in the management of open source projects
> and I am actively looking for documentation about it. In particular, how
> can I organise this project so as to avoid bottlenecks in the future?

shameless ad: as per http://www.gigasciencejournal.com/content/4/1/31
make sure you asap clear out copyright/license for your work and choose
a DFSG-compatible free and open source license for your code, data,
documentation.  That could help to guarantee that you yourself
would have access to your work in the future, happen you change your
employer ;)

> - Can you see any funding bodies that could be interested in this
> initiative, in the short to medium term?

may be  https://www.incf.org/resources/funding-support, depending on
what kind of support you are looking for...  But according to
http://www.ffc-mri.org/funding.html you have already gotten various
grants in the past... so pursuing with the same agencies could be an
option.  So it all again depends I guess on what funds you are
looking for?

> - Do you know of organisations that would be interested to know of this
> project or to provide guidance? I already plan to contact OSHWA and the
> CERN Open Hardware Repository, but I am sure there would be others who
> can help.

BCCed folks who might be interested one way or another ;)

> - Where can I advertise this project efficiently? I am currently
> thinking about FOSDEM, if this sounds reasonable.

That is a problem somewhat with hardware projects of this scale I guess
-- people couldn't readily try them out ;-)   I wish I could just
"3d-print" the beast and stick some apple into it to try, but I guess --
not yet.  Definitely I would be glad to help to spread the word if
e.g. your project indeed went Open by providing community with all
necessary "open detail": principle schemes, associated software,
documentation.  Open sourcing hardware project at this scale would
indeed be a rare if not a unique event, so spreading the word wouldn't
be a problem.

Also would be interesting to know if you ever talked with sharks in this
domain (e.g. Philips, Siemens) on what they thought about your approach

Since I guess you have working prototypes, if you have collected and
shared publicly some data (e.g. accompanied with MR scans from
existing commercial scanners) -- it could help to show the viability and
benefits of your project.

hope this somehow helps,
Yaroslav O. Halchenko
Center for Open Neuroscience     http://centerforopenneuroscience.org
Dartmouth College, 419 Moore Hall, Hinman Box 6207, Hanover, NH 03755
Phone: +1 (603) 646-9834                       Fax: +1 (603) 646-1419
WWW:   http://www.linkedin.com/in/yarik        

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