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. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Decap ICs Without The Peril

    There can be few of us who haven’t gazed with fascination upon the work of IC decappers, whether they are showing us classic devices from the early years of mass semiconductor manufacture, or reverse-engineering the latest and greatest. But so often their work appears to require some hardcore scientific equipment or particularly dangerous chemicals. We’ve never thought we might be able to join the fun. [Generic Human] is out to change all that, by decapping chips using commonly available chemicals and easy to apply techniques. In particular, we discover through their work that rosin — the same rosin whose smell you will be familiar with from soldering flux — can be used to dissolve IC packaging.

    Home IC Decapping
    Decapping chips with easily obtainable tools and chemicals.

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    How Nonrecyclable Plastic Bags Are Being Turned Into Speakers

    Gomi Designs, in Brighton, England, turns non-recyclable plastic waste into Bluetooth speakers that are infinitely recyclable. Its aim is to stop plastic waste being incinerated or going to landfill. It collects plastic packaging, bubble-wrap and cling film from local companies and residents, as this type of plastic waste is impossible to recycle and it’s not accepted by local authorities.

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    ERA Instruments Launch USB-Powered, Open Source ERASynth Micro RF Signal Generator

    ERA Instruments has launched their new, affordable ERASynth Micro RF signal generator targeted at makers, hackers, students, ham radio and SDR users alike. The ERASynth is a standalone generator that can be powered over USB, features an LCD interface, and can generate low phase noise RF signals from 12.5 MHz to 6.4 GHz with a dual PLL architecture.

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    How growing cities are making it hard for makers
    As garages and similar spaces grow less accessible

    in places like Silicon Valley, we can’t make things where we used to.

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    GoPro Laser Sight Keeps Video In-Frame

    GoPro and other so-called action cameras provide an easy way to capture your ‘extreme adventures’ or document builds with a unit that can take the intermittent abuse of shop life.

    you can’t always tell if it’s properly adjusted to pick up what you’re looking at.

    created what GoPro laser aiming device that outputs a red dot as a visual reverence. This 3D-printed unit hooks into the thumb screw pivot on a GoPro Hero 5 or Hero session’s standard frame, close enough that when the camera moves up and down, the laser assembly swings with it.

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Maker Faire halts operations and lays off all staff

    Financial troubles have forced Maker Media, the company behind crafting publication MAKE: magazine as well as the science and art festival Maker Faire, to lay off its entire staff of 22 and pause all operations.

    For 15 years, MAKE: guided adults and children through step-by-step do-it-yourself crafting and science projects, and it was central to the maker movement.

    Dougherty tells TechCrunch. “I started this 15 years ago and it’s always been a struggle as a business to make this work. Print publishing is not a great business for anybody, but it works…barely. Events are hard . . . there was a drop off in corporate sponsorship.”

    “It started as a venture-backed company but we realized it wasn’t a venture-backed opportunity”

    “The company wasn’t that interesting to its investors anymore. It was failing as a business but not as a mission. Should it be a non-profit or something like that? Some of our best successes for instance are in education.”

    But Dougherty is still desperately trying to resuscitate the company in some capacity, if only to keep MAKE:’s online archive running and continue allowing third-party organizers to license the Maker Faire name to throw affiliated events.

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Plastic lid becomes Arduino Nano short circuit armor

    If you want to keep your Arduino project or other circuit boards safe from exposure, an electrical box is the traditional choice. But what if you want to apply protection directly to the board?

  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Maker Media Ceases Operations

    Between the first issue of Make magazine in 2005 and the inaugural Maker Faire a year later, Maker Media deftly cultured the public face of the “maker movement” for over a decade. They didn’t create maker culture, but there’s no question that they put a spotlight on this part of the larger tech world.

    In fact, it’s not an exaggeration to say that the shuttering of Maker Media could have far reaching consequences that we won’t fully understand for years.

    In layman’s terms, the fate of Make magazine and Maker Faire is currently uncertain. The intent is to restructure the organization and rehire enough people to keep the brand alive, but it may take rethinking their business model entirely.

    It’s impossible to overstate the positive influence that Make has had on the public’s perception of DIY. It put on a global pedestal the sort of projects which otherwise might have never been seen outside the basement workshops or garages they were constructed in. Through their events and outreach programs, Make showed an entire generation of young people that building something just for the joy of building it was something to be proud of. Make proved that nerds could be cool in a way that had never been done before

    When the first issue of Make hit newsstands nearly 15 years ago, Maker Media didn’t yet exist.

    the “show and tell” concept of the magazine into the real world with the very first Maker Faire held at the San Mateo Fairgrounds in California.

    From that point on, the Make brand seemed unstoppable.

    It seemed the world couldn’t get enough Make content. Some argue that the meteoric rise of the DIY culture pre-2010 was due to a slumping economy: high unemployment and low disposable income meant people were more likely to build something for themselves or repair what they already owned rather than buying something new. Whatever the reason, Make was clearly on the forefront of something huge.

    “A movement that began with enthusiasts has turned into an entrepreneurial revolution. As an independent company, Maker Media will be able to accelerate its growth and develop new services for the maker community.”

    With that much momentum, and just four years after the last influx of funding from investors, how can it be that Maker Media is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy?

  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Bringing Pneumatics To The Masses With Open Source Soft Robotics

    Soft robotics is an exciting field. Mastering the pneumatic control of pliable materials has enormous potential, from the handling of delicate objects to creating movement with no moving parts. However, pneumatics has long been overlooked by the hacker community as a mode of actuation. There are thousands of tutorials, tools and products that help us work with motor control and gears, but precious few for those of us who want to experiment with movement using air pressure, valves and pistons.

    Physicist and engineer [tinkrmind] wants to change that. He has been developing an open source soft robotics tool called Programmable Air

  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    A Robotic Whiteboard Cleaner Keeps The Board Ready To Go

    Wipy, as the little device is known, is a robotic cleaner that scoots around to keep whiteboards clear and ready for work. With brains courtesy of an Arduino Uno, it uses an IR line-following sensor to target areas to wipe, rather then wasting time wiping areas that are already clean. It’s also fitted with a time-of-flight sensor for ranging, allowing it to avoid obstacles, or busy humans that are writing on the board.

    Wipy: the Overly Motivated Whiteboard Cleaner

  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Open Source Headset With Inside-Out Tracking, Video Passthrough

    The folks behind the Atmos Extended Reality (XR) headset want to provide improved accessibility with an open ecosystem, and they aim to do it with a WebVR-capable headset design that is self-contained, 3D-printable, and open-sourced. Their immediate goal is to release a development kit, then refine the design for a wider release.

  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Open hardware for musicians and music lovers: Headphone, amps, and more

    From 3D-printed instruments to devices that pull sound out of the air, there are plenty of ways to create music with open hardware projects.

  13. Tomi Engdahl says:

    DIYson 3D-Printed Vacuum Cleaner

    Cyclonic dust collectors have been around since 1921, but it wasn’t until 1978 that Sir James Dyson applied this principle to handheld vacuum cleaners. Dyson products seem to be very good, though correspondingly expensive. Hacker Madaeon decided to build a new version of this concept, creating the “DIYson” open source cyclone vacuum cleaner.

  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    You can tinker with this conference badge
    Check out these unique conference badges that attendees can take home and play with.

  15. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Make Magazine and Maker Faire folded last month. has put up high quality PDF’s of every issue. Now it’s not so bad.

  16. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Make/Maker will be back in a different manner.

    It won’t be the same but it’s not gone completely


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