6 Offbeat Open Source Ideas Worthy of Rube Goldberg

by Ostatic Staff - Sep. 09, 2008

The open source arena never fails to surprise when it comes to offbeat implementations of community-produced technologies. Put together enough eyeballs and collaboration, and unusual inventions will ensue. We've covered several examples of this phenomenon on OStatic, including open source efforts completely outside the software arena. In this post, you'll find six unusual open source efforts worthy of Rube Goldberg.

Have you taken a gander at the Linux Space Cube yet? There is a nice collection of photos at LinuxDevices and a good  shot of the interior at left. A Japanese firm named Shimafuj is manufacturing this two-inch computer based on Red Hat Linux, running on 1GB of Flash. It runs a basic NEC processor and has only 64MB of RAM, but is lean and mean enough to control sensors and other gadgets on space stations and spacecrafts. It doesn't represent the first time that Linux has headed for space, but it's a tiny wonder.

British radio manufacturer Pure has made waves with its Evoke Flow, an Internet radio that runs on the MeOS Linux platform. Check out Lisa's writeup of it here. Flow comes equipped with WiFi and synchs with a central radio station portalgiving listeners access to around 10,000 Internet radio stations and podcasts. Future plans include tagging and and tracking purchases directly from the device, according to Lisa.

Ever heard of the MultiMachine? It's an open source machine tool. Members of the community behind it start with old automobile engine blocks and other salvaged bits. Then, anyone with reasonable mechanical skills and access to some tooling can put together their own combination lathe, mill, drill press, and more. Mike discussed it in this post, and the project's home page is here.

Cubit is an interactive surface for touch communications, somewhat similar to Microsoft's Surface technology, only open source. Check out photos here. The device is basically a PC, box, small projector, projection surface and some electronics to tie everything together. Hackers are invited to join in in customizing it and finding applications for it.

Hungry for more offbeat open source implementations? If you didn't catch our post on open source robots from the other day, here it is. The Willow Garage robot project is particularly interesting. And for a very unusual browser that displays web pages on a 3-D cube, as seen at left, check out this post.