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Linux-based programmable clock device ships

Nov 5, 2007 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

Chumby is shipping its Linux-powered device designed for the bedside, desktop, and kitchen counter. The alarm-clock sized “Chumby” has hackable hardware, software, and outerware, connects via WiFi, and can be programmed to display everything from clock faces to stock quotes, says… the company.

A few new details have emerged since the original announcement in June. Measuring only 5.5 x 4.25 x 3.25 (base) and 2.25 (top) inches, the Chumby lacks a keyboard or other standard interfaces. There is a touchscreen, plus an accelerometer and bend sensor that detect when the device is moved or squeezed.

A few Chumby applications
(Click any to enlarge)

Users can program their Chumby with software “widgets” that they write or download from the subscription-free Chumby Network. Potential applications recommended by Chumby include eBay tickers, Flickr photo displays, and movie previews. The Network offers widgets in categories that include news, sports, weather, humor, RSS, and social networking.

Like Bug Labs's recently released Bug, the Chumby is said to offer completely open hardware and software — including “outerware” APIs that let users stitch together custom apparel for their device.

“Chumby-without-a-cause” James Dean style red leather jacket
(Click to enlarge)

The production version of the Chumby is more powerful than originally announced, equipped with a 350MHz ARM processor, 64MB of 133MHz SDRAM, and 64MB of NAND flash memory, according to the company. The 3.5-inch touchscreen TFT QVGA LCD boasts 320×240 resolution, and offers LED backlighting controlled via PWM (pulse-width modulation). The Chumby also includes two USB ports, stereo speakers, and a choice of leather cases. You can even plug in your iPOD and use the device as a speaker system or recharger. Battery operation, however, is not part of the deal.

The following lists the Chumby's key statistics:

  • Processor — 350 MHz ARM
  • Memory — 64MB 133MHz SDRAM; 64MB NAND flash
  • I/O - 2 x USB 2.0 ports (12Mbps)
  • Communications — WiFi
  • Display - touchscreen TFT QVGA LCD (320×240)
  • Audio — stereo 2W speakers, headphone output
  • Other – Accelerometer (motion sensor), bend sensor, photosensor, serial debug port
  • Power - AC (6-14V) switching power supply


The Chumby is available now in limited quantities, and priced “under $200.” Access to the Chumby network is free. Further details are available on the company's website, information, here.

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