The $2 computer: ultraconstrained devices do your bidding

Accepted Session
Short Form
Scheduled: Thursday, June 3, 2010 from 2:30 – 3:15pm in St. Johns


"Do you watch television? Is your furnace loud? Do you have $2?" My 7-year-old's marketing suggestions aside, building custom gadgets to improve your life is remarkably simple, and I'll prove it by building something on stage that you can duplicate at home.


While our family had H1N1, I prototyped a device for adjusting our television’s volume during the furnace’s on cycle. Microcontrollers are ridiculously cheap, beginning electronics tools are affordable, and open source tools, such as the Arduino IDE and the underlying avr-gcc toolchain, combine to make it remarkably simple to create custom gadgets to improve your life.

In a single session, I’ll demonstrate how to plan your gadget, gather everything you need, then build and program a prototype device using open source tools. A complete description of all steps will be provided so that attendees may duplicate the device on their own.

Speaking experience


  • Biography

    While studying Electrical Engineering at MIT, David became attracted to software’s malleability and subsequently built a career as a developer. In 1998, he co-founded Curl Corporation, which grew to 130 employees at its peak. David has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, served on the board of the Society of Typographic Aficionados, and in 2008 won the Texas Historical Commission’s George Christian Volunteer of the Year award for work in his local community.