Makers and open hardware for innovation

Just like the garage computer explosion of the 70’s through the 80’s, which brought us such things as Apple, pong, Bill Gate’s hair, and the proliferation of personal computers, the maker movement is the new garage hardware explosion. Today, 135 million adults in the United States alone are involved in the maker movement.

Enthusiasts who want to build the products they want, from shortwave radios to personal computers, and to tweak products they’ve bought to make them even better, have long been a part of the electronics industry. By all measures, garage-style innovation remains alive and well today, as “makers” as they are called continue to turn out contemporary gadgets, including 3D printers, drones, and embedded electronics devices.

Making is about individual Do-It-Yourselfers being able to design and create with tools that were, as of a decade or two ago, only available to large, cash-rich corporations: CAD tools, CNC mills, 3D printers, low-quantity PCB manufacturing, open hardware such as Arduinos and similar inexpensive development boards – all items that have made it easier and relatively cheap to make whatever we imagine. For individuals, maker tools can change how someone views their home or their hobbies. The world is ours to make. Humans are genetically wired to be makers. The maker movement is simply the result of making powerful building and communication tools accessible to the masses. There are plenty of projects from makers that show good engineering: Take this Arduino board with tremendous potential, developed by a young maker, as example.

The maker movement is a catalyst to democratize entrepreneurship as these do-it-yourself electronics are proving to be hot sellers: In the past year, unit sales for 3D printing related products; Arduino units, parts and supplies; Raspberry Pi boards; drones and quadcopters; and robotics goods are all on a growth curve in terms of eBay sales. There are many Kickstarter maker projects going on. The Pebble E-Paper Watch raises $10 million. The LIFX smartphone-controlled LED bulb raises $1.3 million. What do these products have in common? They both secured funding through Kickstarter, a crowd-funding website that is changing the game for entrepreneurs. Both products were created by makers who seek to commercialize their inventions. These “startup makers” iterate on prototypes with high-end tools at professional makerspaces.

For companies to remain competitive, they need to embrace the maker movement or leave themselves open for disruption. Researchers found that 96 percent of business leaders believe new technologies have forever changed the rules of business by democratizing information and rewiring customer expectations. - You’ve got to figure out agile innovation. Maybe history is repeating itself as the types of products being sold reminded us of the computer tinkering that used to be happening in the 1970s to 1990ssimilar in terms of demographics, tending to be young people, and low budget. Now the do-it-yourself category is deeply intertwined with the electronics industry. Open hardware is in the center in maker movement – we need open hardware designs! How can you publish your designs and still do business with it? Open source ecosystem markets behave differently and therefore require a very different playbook than traditional tech company: the differentiation is not in the technology you build; it is in the process and expertise that you slowly amass over an extended period of time.

By democratizing the product development process, helping these developments get to market, and transforming the way we educate the next generation of innovators, we will usher in the next industrial revolution. The world is ours to make. Earlier the PC created a new generation of software developers who could innovate in the digital world without the limitations of the physical world (virtually no marginal cost, software has become the great equalizer for innovation. Now advances in 3D printing and low-cost microcontrollers as well as the ubiquity of advanced sensors are enabling makers to bridge software with the physical world. Furthermore, the proliferation of wireless connectivity and cloud computing is helping makers contribute to the Internet of Things (IoT). We’re even beginning to see maker designs and devices entering those markets once thought to be off-limits, like medical.

Historically, the education system has produced graduates that went on to work for companies where new products were invented, then pushed to consumers. Today, consumers are driving the innovation process and demanding education, business and invention to meet their requests. Makers are at the center of this innovation transformation.

Image source: The world is ours to make: The impact of the maker movement – EDN Magazine

In fact, many parents have engaged in the maker movement with their kids because they know that the education system is not adequately preparing their children for the 21st century. There is a strong movement to spread this DIY idea widely. The Maker Faire, which launched in the Bay Area in California in 2006, underlined the popularity of the movement by drawing a record 215,000 people combined in the Bay Area and New York events in 2014. There’s Maker Media, MakerCon, MakerShed, Make: magazine and 131 Maker Faire events that take place throughout the world. Now the founders of all these Makers want a way to connect what they refer to as the “maker movement” online. So Maker Media created a social network called MakerSpace, a Facebook-like social network that connects participants of Maker Faire in one online community. The new site will allow participants of the event to display their work online. There are many other similar sites that allow yout to present yout work fron Hackaday to your own blog. Today, 135 million adults in the United States alone are involved in the maker movement—although makers can be found everywhere in the world.

 

1,676 Comments

  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Yellow Robot Wheels Rolling Out
    https://hackaday.com/2018/04/01/yellow-robot-wheels-rolling-out/

    Small wheeled robots are great for exploring robotics and it’s easier than ever to get started, thanks to growing availability and affordability of basic components. One such component is a small motorized wheel assembly commonly shown when searching for “robot wheel”: a small DC motor mounted in a gearbox to drive a single plastic wheel (inevitably yellow) on which a thin rubber tire has been mounted for traction. Many projects have employed these little motor + gearbox + wheel modules, such as these three entries for 2018 Hackaday Prize

    Reply
  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    HairIO: An Interactive Extension of the Self
    https://hackaday.com/2018/03/29/hairio-an-interactive-extension-of-the-self/

    Most of what we see on the wearable tech front is built around traditional textiles, like adding turn signals to a jacket for safer bike riding, or wiring up a scarf with RGB LEDs and a color sensor to make it match any outfit. Although we’ve seen the odd light-up hair accessory here and there, we’ve never seen anything quite like these Bluetooth-enabled, shape-shifting, touch-sensing hair extensions created by UC Berkeley students [Sarah], [Molly], and [Christine].

    HairIO: Hair As Interactive Material
    https://www.instructables.com/id/HairIO-Hair-As-Interactive-Material/

    Reply
  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Emboss Your own Seals with a Laser Cutter
    https://hackaday.com/2018/04/02/emboss-your-own-seals-with-a-laser-cutter/

    Parchment might be a thing of the past, but for those of us who still use paper an embossed seal can give everything from your official documents to your love letters a bold new feeling of authenticity. As far as getting your own seals made, plenty of folks will settle for having a 3rd party make them a seal, but not us. [Jason] shows us just how simple it is to raster our own seals with a laser cutter.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJmm2Cu06pk&feature=youtu.be&t=1m38s

    Reply
  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    From Plastic Bottle to Plastic Brush
    https://hackaday.com/2018/04/02/from-plastic-bottle-to-plastic-brush/

    We first saw someone turn a plastic bottle into plastic ribbon about four years ago. Since then, we’ve wondered what this abundant, sturdy material could be used for besides just tying things together.

    [Waldemar Sha] has answered that question with his excellent brush made from scrap wood and plastic bottle rope. Turning seven 1-litre bottles into curly bristle fodder was easy enough, but they have to be straight to brush effectively.

    Advanced Brush From Plastic Bottles
    https://www.instructables.com/id/Advanced-Brush-From-Plastic-Bottles/

    Reply
  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Universal Chip Analyzer: Test Old CPUs In Seconds
    https://hackaday.com/2018/04/11/universal-chip-analyzer/

    Collecting old CPUs and firing them up again is all the rage these days, but how do you know if they will work? For many of these ICs, which ceased production decades ago, sorting the good stuff from the defective and counterfeit is a minefield.

    Testing old chips is a challenge in itself. Even if you can find the right motherboard, the slim chances of escaping the effect of time on the components (in particular, capacitor and EEPROM degradation) make a reliable test setup hard to come by.

    Enter [Samuel], and the Universal Chip Analyzer (UCA). Using an FPGA to emulate the motherboard, it means the experience of testing an IC takes just a matter of seconds. Why an FPGA? Microcontrollers are simply too slow to get a full speed interface to the CPU, even one from the ’80s.

    https://x86.fr/uca/

    Reply
  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Customize All the Fan Covers You Never Knew You Needed
    https://hackaday.com/2018/04/13/customize-all-the-fan-covers-you-never-knew-you-needed/

    The Customizable Fan Grill Cover is a parametric design in OpenSCAD that allows adjusting the frame style, size, and grill pattern for any fan cover one may possibly need.

    Customizable Fan Grill Cover
    https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2802474

    Reply
  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Real-Time Polarimetric Imager from 1980s Tech
    https://hackaday.com/2018/04/20/real-time-polarimetric-imager-from-1980s-tech/

    But occasionally the old ways of doing things offer possibilities that modern methods don’t. This fascinating white paper from [David Prutchi] describes in intricate detail how a 1982 JVC KY-1900 professional video camera purchased for $50 on eBay was turned into a polarimetric imager. The end result isn’t perfect, but considering such a device would normally carry a ~$20,000 price tag, it’s good enough that anyone looking to explore the concept of polarized video should probably get ready to open eBay in a new tab.

    Reply
  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Retro-uC, Your Favorite Instruction Sets On Custom Silicon
    https://hackaday.com/2018/08/23/retro-uc-your-favorite-instruction-sets-on-custom-silicon/

    A few months ago, we caught wind of an interesting project in Big-O Open silicon. It’s a chip, loaded up with the great CPU cores of yore. Now, it’s finally a project on Crowd Supply. The Retro-uC project is an Open Source microcontroller for the retro geek, with a Zilog Z80, MOS 6502, and Motorola 68000 buried in the epoxy of a single QFP package. Oh yes, custom silicon and retro goodness, what more could you want?

    The Retro-uC project is part of the Chips4Makers project to develop an Open Source chip for the community. Of course, this has been done before with projects like the HiFive1 and other RISC-V implementations, but really — this is a Z80, 6502 and 68k on a single chip. Let’s not bury the lede here.

    Reply
  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Empty Can Upcycled Into Portable Speaker
    Empty Can Upcycled Into Portable Speaker
    https://hackaday.com/2018/08/28/empty-can-upcycled-into-portable-speaker/

    Reply
  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    See the Fabulous Workmanship in this Smart Pressure Regulator
    https://hackaday.com/2018/08/28/see-the-fabulous-workmanship-in-this-smart-pressure-regulator/

    Electronic pressure regulator
    Closed-loop air pressure control that can talk to a microcontroller
    https://hackaday.io/project/148274-electronic-pressure-regulator

    Reply
  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    How to Build Anything Out of Aluminum Extrusion and 3D Printed Brackets
    https://hackaday.com/2018/05/08/how-to-build-anything-out-of-aluminum-extrusion-and-3d-printed-brackets/

    The real power of 3D printing is in infinite customization of parts. This becomes especially powerful when you combine 3D printing with existing materials. I have been developing a few simple tricks to make generic fasteners and printed connectors a perfect match for aluminum extrusion, via a novel twist or two on top of techniques you may already know.

    Everything is Built from Aluminum Extrusion

    Reply
  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    A History of Badgelife, Def Con’s Unlikely Obsession with Artistic Circuit Boards
    https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/vbne9a/a-history-of-badgelife-def-cons-unlikely-obsession-with-artistic-circuit-boards

    Inside the obsessive circuit board culture at the heart of the world’s largest hacker conference.

    Reply
  13. Tomi Engdahl says:

    PCB Speaker
    An open source speaker made from a PCB.
    https://www.hackster.io/carlbugeja/pcb-speaker-6852ac

    I managed to play music from printed traces! It is very simple and works just like any other speaker.

    Its main components are the magnet and a coil, in this case a flexible printed traces. The vibrations created from the coil pushes the surrounding air to create sound waves. To measure how loud my PCB Speaker is I am using an spectrum analyzer app. A maximum 70db level was reached!

    I also managed to make it work with a 1.6mm rigid pcb, by attaching the magnet to the diaphragm.

    Reply

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