Not so much news, this, as a bit of a moan. We’re currently upgrading some products we designed 15 years ago, using Echelon powerline technology. This is great technology, and it has stood the test of time, with tens of thousands of products we designed out in the field.

However why do Echelon make life hard so for the designer? Most other chip vendors bend over backwards to support the designer, with readily available data, application notes and design guidelines, and plenty of free or low-cost development tools, making it easy for us to use their chips instead of those of a competitor. And of course the open-source communities springing up around the likes of the Arduino, BeagleBoard, and Raspberry Pi make the design process even easier and cheaper, meaning the chip vendors get to sell more chips – simples.

So I was rather surprised to discover that Echelon still charge for the design data we need to design in their chips! They also charge quite hefty sums for the software development tools that we need to carry out our job. I guess that for their larger clients these fees are insignificant, but for design houses such as ourselves they are a real pain.

Sorry Echelon, but that business model doesn’t make sense to me…