Sunday, November 18, 2007


Wireless Net DesignLine > Design Center

Chumby: Open and hackable

Chumby is an expandable Wi-Fi device designed by hackers for hackers. If you ever wanted to invent your own personal electronic appliance, here's your chance.

Wireless Net DesignLine

For designers, Chumby is pretty much a dream come true. It is completely open source. It invites clever people to improve upon it—or, since improve is a matter of matter of personal choice, customize might be a better word. Chumby may even be an important step toward a time when the creators of technology actually receive their fair share of the benefits of that technology.

Because Chumby is open and extensible, it is difficult to pigeonhole it in a familiar consumer electronics category. Better to define it by its basic functionality. It has an LCD screen; it is Wi-Fi capable; and, it has speakers, audio output and a USB port. Also, newer prototype versions include a three-axis accelerometer. (A more comprehensive parts list can be found on the Chumby site.)

Best of all, if you don't like something about Chumby, you can hack it.

Figure 1. Plain vanilla Chumby with coffee mug. $179.oo

The alpha version of Chumby is powered by a 266-MHz ARM controller (the Freescale M21) accompanied by 32 MB SDRAM and 64 MB NAND Flash ROM. The prototype OS runs the Linux 2.4.20 kernel but the product will probably ship with a later version.