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:

    Automated MicroSD Card Swapping Helps In Embedded Shenanigans

    [Saulius Lukse] has been working on some single board computer, seemingly, running Linux. Naturally, that boots from a microSD card – and as development goes on, that card has to be reimaged all the time. Sick of constantly plugging and unplugging the microSD card between the SBC and an SD card reader, [Saulius] started looking for a more automated solution – and it wasn’t long before he found out about the SDWire project, a hardware tool that lets you swap a card between a DUT (Device Under Test) and your personal computer with no moving parts involved.

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Junkbox Build Keeps Tesla Coils Perfectly Varnished

    Admittedly, not a lot of people have a regular need to varnish coils. It’s mainly something that Tesla coil builders and other high-voltage experimenters are concerned with. But since that group probably constitutes a not insignificant fraction of the Hackaday audience, and because there are probably more applications for this homebrew coil varnishing setup, we figured it would be a good idea to share it.

    How To Varnish A Tesla Coil Secondary Coil

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    ESP32 Powers Covert Pentesting Device

    Looking to expand their hardware design experience, [mentalburden] recently put together a low-cost handheld gadget that can be used for various security-related tasks such as logging WiFi traffic, operating as a dead drop, and performing deauthentication attacks.

    The custom PCB plays host to the essentials — an ESP32-S microcontroller, AMS1117 3.3 V regulator, a SSD1306 OLED, and a couple of buttons. This lets the user navigate through a simple menu system and select whatever function they wish to enable. During testing, a pair of 18650 cells kept the electronics running for an impressive 22 hours.

    A second version of the PCB fixed a few bodges that were required to get the original prototype working, and given how energy efficient the hardware ended up being, [mentalburden] decided to drop the power supply down to a single 18650 for a total runtime of around 15 hours. A 3D printed case and some silicone buttons, produced with a simple clay mold, completed the package.

    DropThrowie: Your WiFi Friend

    The goal of this portfolio project was to build a device that can be surreptitiously placed to provide targeted and timed deauth of WiFi networks, ephemeral WiFi dead drop capabilities, and zero-log WiFi chat services. This device needed to be able to run for a minimum of 12 hours and have an extremely simple user interface. I wanted to include silicone squishy buttons and build the case so it can be attached to a fishing line for tree and rooftop deployment. I also wanted to ensure the device could be built for less than $10usd. It took 2 months to go from sketch to MVP and I learned a ton along the way.

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Replace An AA Battery With Paper

    Paper is an ubiquitous part of society; so much so that the incredible engineering behind it often goes unnoticed. That isn’t the case for [Robert], though, who has a deep appreciation for the material and all its many uses far beyond recording information. In this particular video, he recreates a method found by researchers to turn a piece of paper into a battery with equivalent performance to a AA-sized alkaline battery.

    The process involves the creation of a few different types of ink, each of which can be made with relatively common materials such as shellac, ethanol, polyethylene glycol, and graphite. Each of these materials are mixed in different proportions to create the inks. Once the cathode ink and anode ink are made, a third ink is needed called a current collector ink which functions essentially as a wire. The paper is dipped into a salt solution and then allowed to dry, given a partial waterproof coating, and when it is needed it can be activated by wetting it which allows the ion flow of the battery to happen.

    1628 Paper Battery As Powerful As an AA And Activated by Water

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    FloWat -> Flow Water
    A smart and sustainable way to self power a water flow analyzer for agriculturists to keep track of irrigation pipe flow.

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Electronic Googly Eye Glasses
    Build your own googly eye glasses or just attach the eyes to anything you want. Everything is better with googly eyes.

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Smoking Meat Finds Natural Home In The Cloud

    Did you know that backyard barbecues now come with WiFi? It should be no surprise, given the pervasiveness of cloud-enabled appliances throughout the home. However [Carl] wasn’t ready to part with his reliable but oh-so-analog BBQ smoker, so instead he created an affordable WiFi-based temperature monitor that rivals its commercial counterparts.

    Accurate temperature measurement is essential to smoking meat from both a taste and safety standpoint. In this project, two Maverick ET-732/733 thermistor probes take care of the actual temperature monitoring. One probe is skewered into meat itself, and the other measures the ambient ‘pit’ temperature.

  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The Robo Ruler Is a Combination Reference Tool and Adjustable 100-1.5k Ohm Resistor
    Both a functional ruler and a programmable resistor, the Robo Ruler is a handy tool for a range of situations.

  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Shark Robot Vacuum Reverse Engineering
    Reverse engineering the Shark RV1001AED series Robot Vacuum

  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Battery Low-Voltage Cutoff
    Don’t kill your rechargeables.

    I’m knocking together a gadget to run 12V devices off of 18V Ryobi One+ battery packs (of which I have a few). I found a sufficiently beefy buck converter a while back that knocks 18V (nominal) down to 12.6V, but there’s nothing in it to keep the battery from being discharged too much. This circuit will cut off its output at around 14.28V…2.86V per cell for Li-ion, 952 mV for NiCd (since I still have some of those).

  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    A Merciless Environmental Monitoring System

    We’ve seen plenty of environmental monitoring setups here on Hackaday — wireless sensors dotted around the house, all uploading their temperature and humidity data to a central server hidden away in some closet. The system put together by [Andy] from Workshopshed is much the same, except this time the server has been designed to be as bright and bold as possible.

    The use of Mosquitto, InfluxDB, Node Red, and Grafana (M.I.N.G) made [Andy] think of Ming the Merciless from Flash Gordon, which in turn inspired the enclosure that holds the Raspberry Pi, hard drive, and power supply. Some 3D printed details help sell the look, and painted metal mesh panels make sure there’s plenty of airflow.

  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    From Product To Burnout To Open-Source: The Ergo S-1 Keyboard Story

    [Andrew] from [Wizard Keyboards] emailed us and asked if we were interested in his story of developing an ergonomic keyboard as a product. Many of us can relate to trying to bring one of our ideas to market. [Andrew], being a mechanical keyboard geek, knew a niche with no product to satisfy it, and had a vision he wanted to implement. He started meticulously going through steps for bringing his keyboard idea into life as a manufacturable product, and gave himself six months to get it done.

  13. Tomi Engdahl says:

    A Fast Linear Actuator Entirely In One PCB

    There are many ways to make a linear actuator, a device for moving something is a straight line. Most of the easier to make ones use a conventional motor and a mechanical linkage such as a rack and pinion or a lead screw, but [Ben Wang] has gone for something far more elegant. His linear actuator uses a linear motor, a linear array of coils for the motor phases, working against a line of magnets. Even better than that, he’s managed to make the whole motor out of a single PCB. And it’s fast!

    PCB Linear Actuator

    A fully integrated PCB linear actuator, with the motor driver, encoder and motor all on a single PCB. All designs are open source

  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Personal air conditioning with MEMS
    Your biggest ally during global warming.

  15. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Haptic Baby Monitor Gets The Wearer’s Attention

    Anyone who’s ever slept through a morning’s alarm can tell you that sounds, even loud piercing ones, don’t always wake a person out of a deep sleep. Similarly, hearing a baby cry on the other side of the monitor might not always wake a parent up in the middle of the night. So what’s the solution? This haptic baby monitor created by [Guy Dupont] certainly looks like it has some promise.

    [Guy] picked up a fairly standard baby monitor from VTech and popped it open to see how he could tie a vibration motor into the original circuitry.

    Hacking a cheap baby monitor to make it more accessible!

  16. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Presence-Detecting Cushion Keeps You From Sitting Your Life Away

    They say that sitting is the new smoking. They’re wrong — smoking is much, much worse, for you than sitting, and smoking only while standing or while jogging around the block in no way to justify the habit. But they’re also not wrong that humans weren’t made for extended periods parked on their posteriors, but we do it anyway, to the detriment of our heart health, posture, and general well-being. So something like this butt-detecting stand-up reminder could make a big difference to your health.

    Prolonged Sitting Alarm
    An Alarm that buzzes after you’ve been sitting too long

  17. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Unlocking Doors with Unique QR Codes
    TheIoTProject engineers took advantage of QR codes to build a unique door lock system with 256-bit encryption.

  18. Tomi Engdahl says:

    This Fingerprint-Reading Door Lock Is Extra
    Jaison Dasika built a fingerprint-reading door lock that integrates LED proximity lighting and an alarm system.

  19. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Testing A Laser Cut Wrench VS A Forged Wrench

    It is easy to not think much about common tools like screwdrivers and wrenches. But not for [Torque Test Channel]. The channel does a lot of testing of tools and in the video, below, they test a new wrench that is, oddly enough, laser cut instead of forged like the usual wrench.

    You would expect a machined wrench to be weaker than a forged wrench. We were impressed, though, that there is so much difference between wrenches when you start making measurements.

    Be forewarned. Watching this video is likely going to send you to the computer to buy some new wrenches, especially if you don’t have 30/60 head wrenches.

    The real question is why laser cut a wrench? It doesn’t seem like it is actually better than the forged variant. It is more expensive, but the setup costs for forging are higher. Particularly for a tool made in the United States, forging is both expensive and it is difficult to find time on the limited number of large-scale forges left in the country.

    The Curious Case of Laser Cut & CNC’d USA Wrenches vs Forged

  20. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Hackaday Prize 2022: Solar-Harvesting ESP32 Camera Is Waterproof, Repeatable

    [alberto nunez] shows off his sleek build of a solar-harvesting ESP32 camera – waterproof, somewhat energy-efficient, and able to be built by more-or-less anyone. For that, he’s chosen fairly jellybean components – an ESP32-CAM module with a matching protoboard, a small solar cell, a LiFePO4 battery, and a waterproofed GoPro shell that all of these parts neatly fit into.

    Solar harvesting Wi-Fi camera

    Compact and waterproof camera based on ESP32 usable for short periods of time, powered by solar energy.

    An ESP32-CAM module is a low-cost device based on ESP32-S module, an OV2640 image sensor and Micro SD slot. The module is not designed for low energy consumption, however, after some tweaks, the power consumption can be lowered to a level that is usable for short periods of time, powered by solar energy. The project presented here is a reasonably robust, dust-resistant and waterproof experimentation platform, using commercial off-the-shelf components. Ideal for outdoor usage.

    The project presented here is a reasonably robust, dust-resistant and waterproof experimentation platform, using commercial off-the-shelf components. Ideal for outdoor usage.

    ESP32-CAM wasn’t designed to be a low power device. Without modifications, deep sleep current measured was 2.8 mA, it leaves much to be desired.

    Some people on the Internet already ventured in the following modifications:

    Removed 5 V to 3 V voltage regulator, the camera will be powered directly from a 3.2 V LiFePO4 battery.
    Break trace that powers the camera from 3.3 V and wire to MOSFET Q2 who switches on 2.8 V and 1.2 V voltage regulators.
    Remove onboard led and wire GPIO33 to 5 V pin (this pin is already isolated after regulator removal) to use it externally.

    These modifications lowered deep sleep current to 0.8 mA, which is scandalous for a low power device, however, is a substantial advance from the 2.8 mA without modifications.

  21. Tomi Engdahl says:
    A solar powered biomass degrader to produce a renewable clean fuel (Hydrogen) from any biomass.

  22. Tomi Engdahl says:

    FPGA Board Hack
    Some components of e-waste can kill you sooner than you expect…

    “The key about the FPGAs is that you can reuse them,” Nenni said. “You can buy a washing machine, take an FPGA out and put it in a missile. It’s that simple because you can reprogram it to do whatever you want.”

  23. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Password Typer
    …or perhaps the smallest, most portable macro keypad :)

  24. Tomi Engdahl says:

    DIY Gaming Mouse Beats The Competition, Costs Less

    We’ve seen plenty of custom keyboards here on Hackaday. Seriously, like more than we can count. But custom mice? Those are far more elusive. Though we wouldn’t be surprised to see that change should this excellent example from [Tyler Richard] catch on.

    The goal was to build a customizable mouse that could match the performance of Logitech’s MX Master 3, but without the $100 USD price tag. In the end, [Tyler] says his mouse is around 10x as responsive thanks to a 1,000 Hz refresh rate, and the total cost is just a fraction of the retail price of the Logitech. Though as you might expect, there’s a catch or two.

    DIY Gaming Mouse
    Take a <$15.00 Amazon office mouse, and make it the one of the most customizable gaming mice out there.

    Overall, because the MX Master 3 is so overpriced, you can get that and this for around the same price excluding man-hours on your part, with the only major feature differences being a nice GUI interface and magnetic smooth scroll wheel. The custom mouse has a better sensor, though, so you should definitely go with it :). There are plans to make it support wireless operation in the future, but I'm busy with college apps right now, and don't have time.


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