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Hackable Electronics?

2004-01-21 21:31:18.245753+00 by Dan Lyke 9 comments

Silly question of the moment: What sort of a premium would you pay for "hackable" consumer electronics? Think of the places you have LED or LCD displays in your life, how much extra would you pay to have access and interface specs to things like your alarm clock or kitchen timer?

[ related topics: Dan's Life Consumerism and advertising Cool Technology ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: Hackable Electronics? made: 2004-01-21 23:14:25.890882+00 by: aiworks

You know, Radio Shack timers, clocks, etc... *used* to ship with circuit diagrams and schematics right down to the Radio Shack catalog numbers for all of the parts. I think the thing that killed that practice was consumer electronics moving to customized ICs. Pop-open a clock radio or a calculator; there's not 555 timers or little APU's in there. Instead, you have these custom made droplet looking ICs.

Me personally, I might pay a 15% premium to have easy access to an external timer (although I bet the interface would cost FAR more than that). For that matter, I can't tell you how immensely useful a USB attachable toggle switch (that's it, just a toggle switch) would be to me. Of course, I don't think I would pay much more than $7 for such a switch.

#Comment Re: Hackable Electronics? made: 2004-01-22 18:15:31.135812+00 by: Jerry Kindall

I would pay up to an additional dollar for this in any consumer electronics item costing $50 or more.

#Comment Re: Hackable Electronics? made: 2004-01-23 00:21:49.89729+00 by: Dan Lyke

Not to give too much of the business idea away, but most of those devices have become some microcontroller, a display, and some combination of sensors (thermostat, clock, etc.). An extra buck might be enough to put in-circuit programming headers on the board and socket the sensor...

#Comment Re: Hackable Electronics? made: 2004-01-23 16:01:34.151161+00 by: ebradway

Why not start replacing those objects with a well-documented, easily acquired system like the Nintendo Gameboy?

Wasn't BlueTooth's goal to allow common household devices to talk to each other? That would have required more open specifications...

#Comment Re: Hackable Electronics? made: 2004-01-23 16:27:32.529537+00 by: meuon

Yep.. that was an original BlueTooth goal.. I've been looking at the idea of 'geekifying' my house (long term, not right now), and for the bucks, X10 is still the only answer. Dang it, it's 2004 and I want my "The Jetsons" style automated house like I was promised as a kid. My goals are simple, and I'll probably end up doing it simply, but I want to be able to turn of/off all lights, especially the exterior ones and driveway ones easily. Motion sensor lights work pretty well.. but I'd like 'override'. Same for my indoor lighting. I'd also like to have a master music system.. so that that both ends of the house are synced.. I've had fun with an iRock FM transmitter... but it's very low power and burns batteries. (I know, I can fix that). Alternatively, I could wire up speakers everywhere.. which works.

The gadgets in my house currently speak: IDE, SCSI, Firewire aka IEEE1394, USB 1.0/1.1/2.0, IRDA, 802.11b DSSS, 802.11g DSSS,serial, 5.1 audio, RCA jack standard stereo, Line in/line-out miniplug, S-Video, SVGA.. NTSC RF modulated Video, 10mbps ethernet, 100mbps ethernet.. CDMA.. 2.4ghz FHSS (phone), IR-Remote control, and several of those interfaces can also handle multiple protocols, including TCPIP, PPoE, PTP.. AM and FM radio..

Yep, I need another gadget in the house with another interface.

#Comment Re: Hackable Electronics? made: 2004-01-23 17:47:51.215068+00 by: Dan Lyke

The problem with Bluetooth as an appliance interface standard is that it adds too much to the cost of simple devices. I've heard rumors of a much simpler (albeit slower) standard coming soon, slightly longer range, more along the lines of what people are doing with wireless CAN, that would be a nice replacement for X10: Full duplex, more signals, etc.

Slapping TCP/IP ethernet on things seems like it's pretty easy, modulo the cable.

But for right now I'm still thinking more hobbiest than complete package. For instance, I want a simple way to build a smarter thermostat; the one that came with my newly installed furnace doesn't tell me things that might help me save money on energy costs, like logging when the furnace was running, and how that correlates with temperature and humidity. Parallax has some interesting ideas going on, but I'm wondering if there isn't a smarter place to start people playing with robotics that involves more interesting products than things to trip over.

, and for the applications that we've come up with so far those USB keychain drives seem like the cheapest easiest way to do data transfer.

#Comment Re: Hackable Electronics? made: 2004-01-23 20:59:57.965887+00 by: meuon

Retract a comment: I went browsing x10.com.. I hate enough things about their website, their packaging bundles, pop-ups, and advertising to find and use another technology, at almost any price!

#Comment Re: Hackable Electronics? made: 2004-01-24 02:25:13.426599+00 by: meuon

Ok.. x10.com may be evil, but smarthome.com seems like something I can deal with.. but check out PlutoHome.com for a 'be everything' system.

#Comment Re: Hackable Electronics? made: 2004-01-24 13:59:56.644816+00 by: ghasty

I bought most of my X10 stuff straight from ebay...much cheaper to buy off geeks that got tired of X10