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The New Era of the Garage Hardware Hacker

Tom Hartnett shares a cool DIY box

The NAB Show is a great place for picking up interesting tidbits and observations.

Tom Hartnett, technical director at Comrex, passed along a tip for Radio World readers.

“Before electronics became ‘miniaturized,’ it was possible for a garage hardware hacker to innovate and have huge success,” he wrote in an email. “Most of the more recent ‘little guy’ innovation has been on the software side (social media, etc.) and the hardware was left to the big guys who could ‘whip up’ ideas in their own, high-price manufacturing plants. Modern electronics is just not ‘garage friendly.’”

That, he says, is changing fast.

“You might have heard of Raspberry Pis or Arduinos in the last few years, as really low-cost embedded systems that are hacker friendly. That trend is accelerating, and it’s possible to buy a really powerful, low-power, full-featured embedded computer for very little money. And Linux makes it even easier. The garage hacker can use these platforms to create products and make real money.”

Tom gave this example of a little “do it yourself” box, the Compulab IOT-Gate-iMX7, that blows him away:

“This little bugger has a powerful dual-core CPU, gobs of memory, Wi-Fi, 4G, Ethernet, etc. etc. and costs around $150, power supply and cables included. It could run an automation system or an IP codec. It’s also a perfect platform for all sorts of ‘little boxes’ to make life easier in a range of industries. And I have no doubt there’s a new breed of garage hackers who buy these things. The barrier to entry in electronic products has been destroyed.”

Share your own tips with Radio World readers; post below in the Disqus tool or email [email protected].