Open Wide for Chumby

Heard of the chumby? You may not have up until now, but if the developers’ hunches are correct, you’ll be hearing a lot about it in the near future, and especially if you’re a hacker type, you’ll *have* to have one to play around with. They’re expected to retail for about US$150.

The chumby is basically a small Wi-Fi enabled Internet appliance. But unlike other such devices of the past, this one is designed to be tinkered with, hacked, customized, and set up exactly how you want it. In fact, it was dreamt up by Bunnie Huang and Joe Grand (among others), both members of Make magazine’s advisory board. One of the cool pieces of hardware inside the unit is the “chumbilical cord.” Christine Herron, who played around with the chumby at this weekend’s annual FOO camp (Friends of O’Reilly) explains the geeky details:

“Chumby runs on a a 266MHz ARM controller, with 32MB SDRAM running at 133MHz bus speed and a six-layer board. The touchscreen is a 3.5” TFT LCD with LED backlighting, and an ambient light sensor tells chumby when to dim its backlighting. There are stereo speakers, a headphone jack, and a power supply that can use between 6 and 14 volts. A squeeze sensor allows users to open up the case after it’s been nestled inside its soft, Tribble-like shell.

“My favorite item: the “chumbilical.” This plugs into the board, and has a daughter card attached. As bunnie says, it’s a “hacker-friendly portal to the world.” This small card has USB; an SBI bus; and outputs for the bend sensor, speaker, battery, microphone, etc. Embedded software developer Steele also delivered a bunch of back doors for the hardware hacker.”

Read her entire posting here.
Here’s Dylworld’s coverage of the Foo show and tell, including a pic of Bunnie holding one of his little electronic Tribbles.