Tag Archives: board

Bunnie’s Totally Open Source Laptop

Andrew (bunnie) Huang, who won the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s 2012 Pioneer Award (for something different), is currently testing the first version of his open source laptop hardware.

It’s about 120mm by 150mm by 14mm nad it has a small battery board so it should be able to fit into an average sized laptop frame (yet to be designed). Nearly the entire motherboard is open source; only a couple things required closed source firmware and the board is bootable without them.

One of the things I love about open source is that people don’t tend to worry about anything other than the best possible solution. They don’t try to design in some sort of crippling restriction that will lock in customers. Like, for example, Apple arbitrarily redesigning their docking port and then telling developers they can’t use it in their device if it includes ports compatible with anything else. Bunnie not only used a standard SATA-style port to connect the battery and mother boards but he also make the connection for the battery itself a standard molex so you can use cheap, commonly available RC vehicle batteries.

At the moment he’s apparently running through the tedious process of validating all the board’s functions, but that highlights another thing I love about open source. Down in the lengthy comments beneath his post it was suggested that he include a physical kill switch for the microphone and camera. Bunnie hadn’t thought of that, but recognized it as a good idea, and is planning to add the feature. It would take a year to get something like that changed anywhere else and that’s assuming the developers ever heard about a good user-submitted idea.

 

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WikiWeapons – To Print A Gun Or Not

3D printing, when it works, is a remarkably easy way to turn a very complicated design file into a physical object.

Open source, when it works, is a great way to innovate on and distribute an idea quickly.

What if that idea was a design for a gun?

The Defense Distributed project seems to be coming to open source 3D printing from a philosophical perspective. They assert that designing a 3D printable personal defensive weapon system is a challenge to numerous entities that they either disagree with or believe don’t go far enough in their beliefs.

More after the jump.

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Arduino Leonardo

The new board from Arduino, the Leonardo, is pretty much an Uno except that it doesn’t have a dedicated chip for USB communication. The serial port runs in the same chip that runs your sketches (the ATmega32U4). This means that if you reset the board you also reset the USB connection. However, because the serial port is virtual it means that the board can run as a (HID) keyboard or mouse.

Arduino Leonardo

Freetronics LeoStick

The simpler physical wiring means that the Leonardo is cheaper ($20), but it also means that there’s less flash memory and some of the pins have changed, so Uno shields might not work with the Leonardo.

If the Uno footprint is just too big there’s the LeoStick from freetronics ($30).

Additional Links

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DIY Totally Open Source Arduino GSM Cell Phone by Zach Wick

Cell phones (like this and this) are turning out to be a reasonably popular open source project. It makes sense when someone points it out. They are pretty much the Swiss Army knife of the digital world. More importantly, they are useful and versatile but they don’t require any real hardware hacking. That’s important since most of the people doing open source work are comfortable with code and soldering irons…not wrenches.

Here’s an outline of the open source hardware necessary to physically assemble your own touchscreen phone. Zach Wick grabbed all of this stuff off-the-shelf (his or someone else’s).

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Solder Free 3D Printed Circuit Board

3D printing is moderately useful. It will become much more useful when it can produce more than structural parts.

Automatically placing and connecting electrical components is still a ways off, although lots of people are working on it. Until then, CarryTheWhat has demonstrated an impressive DIY method of producing circuit boards on a 3D printer.

The key to how this approach works is a series of pegs connected by conductive thread. By strategically wrapping the conductive thread onto a peg board generated in OpenSCAD, the components of the circuit can all work together.

It’s a bit bulky and crude, but it works. For example, here is a flashlight…

If you’d like to see a step-by-step description of the process, CarryTheWhat wrote it up on Instructables and on Thingiverse.

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