Top ten innovative hardware projects of 2011

Best of the Blog 2011 – Hardware

Since the beginning of history, people have been using tools to reshape their environment while in some sense being reshaped by their tools. Each new age has been defined by a new set of tools, a new type of hardware, from scraping sticks with rocks to cutting out forms with a laser. These are our best hardware articles from 2011.

#10 Stead i Cam: laser cut handheld camera crane

After watching a few minutes of shaky video most people are about ready to claw their eyes out (or turn off the video). Even best and newest super-HD camera with every imaginable feature will produce terrible video if it is not held steady. Unfortunately, commercial camera stabilizers are very expensive. Laser cutting to the rescue.

#9 HP scanner for 3D objects but not a 3D scanner

This HP multifunctional printer combo caused some confusion when it came out with its “scanner for 3D objects.” While it is not a 3D scanner, it is still a clever addition. The scanner takes pictures from multiple angles and automatically combines them into one well-lit high resolution photo. It would be particularly handy for people selling their wares online.

#8 DIY robot drawings amuse passers-by in studio window

Dubbed Der Kritzler (The Scribbler), this little robots draws programmed images onto the window to simultaneously decorate the maker’s studio and entertain people passing by. The structure is laser cut, and it is controlled by an Arduino board.

#7 The making of Arduino: Five guys walk into a bar…

Stories about how successful computer companies start quickly become legends. This is the legend of Arduino. It starts with five guys in a bar.

#6 Modifying a Makerbot for PCB milling

In theory, all CNC machines, from routers to laser cutters to 3D printers, use essentially the same method to control the motion of the tool. So it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine transforming one into another. This series of experiments with a Dremel mounted on a Makerbot for making PCBs might be one of the trickier goals.

#5 Teagueduino: the snap-and-go Arduino

Arduino made it easier than ever before to assemble custom hardware, but that hasn’t stopped people from trying to make it even easier. This plug-in Arduino work-alike deals with the hassle of trying to shove tiny wires into a breadboard.

#4 Upverter: online hardware design tool

Sharing open source software online is pretty easy, but hardware is a bit trickier. Upverter is trying to make it easy to work on collaborative open source hardware projects with a web-based schematic tool and a versioning systm integrated with Github.

#3 Arduino for beginners: SparkFun ProtoSnap

ProtoSnap from Sparkfun gives everyone access to the kind of custom hardware manufacturing that was only available to huge companies making thousands of units. You send them plans and they send you pre-configured modules ready to wire into your projects. Brilliantly simple.

#2 Let a robot decorate your eggs this Easter — the incredible Egg-Bot!

Dipping Easter eggs in dye is now officially outdated. The Egg-Bot decorates your eggs (or any roughly spherical object about the same size) using patterns and shapes you prepare in a program like Inkscape.

#1 Rich Decibels disrupts brainwaves using an Arduino

I’m not sure if experimenting on your own brain is bold or crazy, but it’s definitely cool. Rich Decibels Brainwave Disrupter uses lights and sounds set to specific frequencies to alter brainwaves and induce auditory and visual hallucinations.