Journal: News & Comment

Saturday, July 01, 2006
# 4:49:00 PM:

Phil Torrone from MAKE magazine on open source hardware at Gnomedex

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Are we returning to another "kit era?" Let's talk about open source hardware.

  • Tries his best to make things better by hacking things that need changing.
  • Open source and open standards are good.
  • So what about open source hardware?
  • That's what Popular Mechanics and similar magazines were about.
  • There were dozens of books.
  • Soon enough, physical objects will be programmable.
  • The MP3 player is the new AM radio, and it's how PT tricks kids into playing with electronics.
  • Tons of how-tos online now.
  • Parts are getting so cheap that they're more expensive to ship than to buy.
  • And we're getting pissed off too.
  • The Maker's Bill of Rights.
  • Return of the kit.
  • Russian number display tubes are turning into a neat parts supply.
  • All sorts of bizarre devices and kits are now available, and people are buying them.
  • Roomba has created the Open Interface on their robo-vacuum.
  • Companies make kits to control your Roomba.
  • Lego MindStorms allows something similar.
  • What if you could create a SketchUp design and have the parts shipped to you?
  • What needs to be a kit? What should be open source?
  • Voting machines, water purification, medical equipment, public transport.
  • Power measurement and management.
  • Telecommunications boxes and receivers.
  • Open-source heating/cooling HVAC systems.
  • Last-mile Internet infrastructure.
  • Standardized interfaces for logging data from GPS, sensors, data logging.
  • Home automation.
  • Personal are cell phone jammer.
  • Event in a Box, Event in a Suitcase.
  • Agricultural devices, anything else for the developing world.
  • Things where there's a lot of good, but not a lot of money.
  • is built as a howto repository.
  • Traffic and transit information.
  • Musical instruments.
  • Houses, solar panels, biodiesel stills.
  • Self-contained sewage processing.
  • Monitor current rainfall via wiper activity on taxis.
  • Solar cookers, dry toilets, bike-powered grain grinders.


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