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Steal This Product! – 21 of the Coolest Open Source Hardware Projects in the World


  • Open Moto X. Fancy being part of an open source electric motorbike racing team? Now’s your chance. Greasy hands optional, knowledge of community protocol (and battery tech?) essential.


  • Ben NanoNote. Ultra small Linux handheld computer with full GPL license and some super cool specifications for hackers everywhere. Great example of what you can do with an enthusiastic and knowledgable team behind you.


  • Neo FreeRunner. The second handset from the most excellent OpenMoko project comes with a 2.8” screen, GPS, Bluetooth, WiFi and completely open hardware specs so you can make one yourself if you’ve got time. And a workshop.


  • Riversimple/Hyrban. Why should Toyota have all the fun? This open source electric urban car features a hydrogen fuel cell engine and an implacable commitment to open source licensing for all-comers.


  • Neuros OSD. Open Source in the living room? Say it ain’t so. This cool set top box records and distributes your entertainment, all powered by hackable open source code. Watch out Sony!


  • Pandora Game Console. Part computer, part games console, this cool tech can emulate many other consoles, and runs Linux. Most importantly, it’s designed by the users themselves.


  • LifeTrac. What’s that you say, open source is only for consumer products? How about a tractor then? Designed so that no problem should cost more than $250 to fix. Try getting that promise with a commercial tractor today.


  • Elphel 353 Digital Network Camera. Five megapixel, full HD resolution, Ethernet, USB and SATA interface and embedded Linux. Modify it as much as you like, the manufacturers insist.


  • Aurora DJ Mixer. Cool 2 channel open source mixer complete with all the free plans you need to customise, fork or build your own. Just add music.


  • C,M,M,N. Unpronounceable name or not, this open source project aims to develop a sustainable alternative to the traditional car. Electric cars are the centrepiece, community action the fuel.


  • Bug Labs. No open source hardware roundup would be complete without including the venerable Bug modular platform. Start with a simple computing unit, and add bits as you need, including GPS, radio, audio and more. Linux powered of course, and deliciously hackable.


  • Humanoid Project. You want ambitious? How about an open source project to build a full size bipedal humanoid robot? Yep, these people want to out-Asimo the Japanese in the Terminator game. You’ll probably need a PhD to qualify as a contributor though.


  • SHPEGS. We’ve mentioned this excellent Solar Heat Pump Electricity Generating System here before, and it remains a very wonderful open source project indeed. Don’t send money – this is not one of those nasty eco energy scams – they need real people power to help move things forward.


  • Chumby. This cute bedside wireless Internet device combines all sorts of consumer friendly features in a straight up open source framework. Radio, weather station, photo frame, alarm clock, music player dock and more. Hackers welcome.


  • Uzebox Retro Game Console. This super simple single board game console and emulator is basically two controller ports on a chip. Attach your fave peripherals, hack on the code and play away.


  • Arduino. It may not look like much, but this open source electronics platform is proving to be a real hit with hard core hacker types. People are building all sorts of neat products with it, from synthesizers to autopilot devices.


  • OpenEEG. Healthcare is not immune to open source, as proved by this innovative project to develop and refine an EEG biofeedback device. More of an electronics hack than a serious commercial project, but it has the potential to deliver $8000 functionality for around $150, which is interesting.


  • Touchkit. Build your own Minority Report multi-touch screen with this open source project. Includes software and hardware plans for those wanting to tweak and twiddle.


  • AVR Butterfly MP3. Creating an open design for an MP3 player may seem a little strange, but choice is good right? Think of this more as an open source hobby and it’ll feel more logical.


  • RepRap 3D Printer. This gizmo may seem a tad Heath Robinson, but one day a successor to this could be sitting in your kitchen making you a replacement toaster out of spare bits and pieces. The fact that it is clever enough to clone itself should be enough to get you interested.


  • OLPC. The brave One Laptop Per Child project is now open source, with full plans, specifications and build resources offered for free on their new site. Commercial altruism’s loss is open source’s gain, and who knows, children all over the world may one day benefit mightily.


  • The coolest gadget on this has got to be the Open EEG biofeedback machine! Hacking your own brainwaves — how dope is that? Many people don't realize, but EEG, and other technologies that monitor brain activity, are going to revolutionize how we interface with computers of the future.

  • Wow, awesome to see Pandora mentioned on this list — I was afraid that it's been totally forgotten!

    It's a open source handheld console that can run all types of emulators and homebrew software. Who needs a Nintendo 3DS or the upcoming Sony Vita!? Just give me some old school Capcom beat'em'ups!

    If they can just drop the price a bit, I think Pandora would be a major success — there are a lot of people in my generation who have fond memories of arcade gaming in the 80s and 90s . I'm not talking mainstream adoption, but enough buyers to ensure continuation of the project.

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