chumby hacker boards (now available in beta)

chumby is now offering a “hacker” board, which is the guts of the chumby One, but modified to be more hacker-friendly: it comes with three high speed USB host ports, uses the power connector from the Sony PSP (instead of the weird, hard to find connector on the chumby One) and incorporates a variety of headers, such as Arduino-style shield headers and a 44-pin breakout header that gives you access to a lot of digital I/O and some analog inputs. There’s even a four-directional switch on board and some LEDs so you can do quick hacks that don’t require a video display for user feedback. Speaking of the display, while this board doesn’t come standard with an LCD, it does provide composite video output via a 4-wire 1/8″ jack so you can, by using an iPod video cable, plug the chumby hacker board into any TV that supports a composite video input.


(Photo by Adafruit)

The hacker board is currently being sold through Adafruit and also through Sparkfun as part of a limited-run beta program. The board is priced at around $89. The goal of the beta program is to collect feedback from users who purchase the board to fine-tune the design and to figure out what I/Os and accessories make sense to bundle with the board. Like the Arduino, we don’t integrate a lot of features onto the mainboard itself (keeps base cost low). Instead, we’d like to make sure that adequate I/O resources exist for developers to hack in the peripheral module they require to complete their project — or for more enterprising developers to build their own flavor of peripheral board and sell their own accessory.

There’s a few resources available to get people started on using the boards: a forum for general support and questions, and a wiki containing links to datasheets, schematics, and other more permanent documentation that people will find useful. Adafruit also has available a snazzy hackerboard page with tons of info, well-documented tutorials, and nice photos to boot.

One other point of note about the hacker board is that you can install a native gcc toolchain on it, so you don’t need to configure/install a cross-compiler on your host PC to develop for it. Heck, it’s got a 454 MHz CPU and plenty of disk space, so why not? Adafruit has a tutorial on how to install the compiler using a downloadable self-extracting script and a USB dongle. I’ve also heard rumors that an OpenEmbedded port is coming to the board soon, so stay tuned.

If you do end up purchasing a board and participating in the beta, please do contribute to the fora and wikis with your feedback. As always, happy hacking!

6 Responses to “chumby hacker boards (now available in beta)”

  1. J. Peterson says:

    Is there any relation between CHB’s Linux and what’s running on the Chumbys? Same distro base?

    • bunnie says:

      They are essentially identical distributions at this stage. The distro has some switches where it reads a hardware version number coded in an EEPROM and does the right thing based upon that hint (for example, activates the composite video instead of the LCD).

  2. [...] they even encourage it.  Now the gates to hack-heaven are open even wider, with the launch of the Chumby Hacker Board: basically the guts of a regular chumby One that has been tweaked to make it more useful for [...]

  3. Thomas F. says:

    Hello Bunnie,

    today I got my chumby guts kit and now I read, that there will be a developer version of the chumby one. Especially the breakout header I’d like to have on the guts kit. :o)

    I have one question. Two weeks ago I sent you an email – did you received it? I have some questions concerning hw manufactoring – it would be great, if you could help me a little bit. :o)

  4. Bob Jenkins says:

    not sure I understand what a hacker board is

  5. Gordon says:

    Does this board have the battery support circuit installed?