Category Archives: chumby

Chumby Guts video from Make

Make is selling Chumby Guts. Though not as cheap as the new Chumby One, they’re more fun to build, and can be shipped worldwide.

Make also shared a “how to” video for building Chumby Guts:

via @chumby


Ready for chumby?

The public release means that the chumby is ready for the (internet-addicted) masses. Are you ready for chumby? Part alarm clock, part internet radio, part hacker’s toy, the chumby is a touchscreen beanbag linux computer.

Chumby public release

On Monday, February 25th, Chumby Industries announced the public launch of the chumby. 5 months ago, in September, the “insider’s release” of the production units started. By December, the chumby store was open to any U.S. customer. Hackers abroad have settled for private importing; the company cannot ship outside the U.S.

I’m pleased with my chumby. Since November, when my chumby arrived, the software has grown by leaps and bounds. The control panel offers improved music options and alarm settings, which were tested in beta control panel versions. Widget offerings have grown, with new widgets developed by community members as well as by the community. Documentation has grown as well, both on tips and tricks for using the chumby, as well as example widgets.

I’m also pleased with the company’s process of customer-influenced, user-centered, agile development. They’ve been very aware of their user-base, engaging early adopters through the chumby forums. Back in November, chumby CEO Steve Tomlin wrote

We treasure every comment and every communication with our Customer Service group. We love getting the positive feedback, but the negative feedback is what makes the chumby better — we are listening and doing what we can with this constructive criticism to address it in our product roadmap.

Kudos to the chumbians–especially Software Development VP Duane Maxwell, who was the listener in many of these cases! While many community requests anticipated the company’s plan, some seem to have changed the direction of development. For example, you can now get out of the control panel by pushing the same button that got you into it!

Chumby website redesigned

The Chumby website has been redesigned, as announced on the forums. My favorite? The ‘My Chumby’ dashboard:

Chumby Dashboard

Check out major redesigns on these pages:

The shiny new front page now uses the theme “Wake up to your internet life” and offers a Chumby overview video. The page also highlights popular uses:

  • In Your Life
  • Clocks and Alarms
  • Photo Viewing
  • Sports
  • News and Entertainment

Don’t get the chumby? Take a look at, as Scott Jansousek suggests.

And if you’re not impressed by splash, there’s always the code:

	(O o)    Chumby says, "I'm now at version 773."

Oops, I mean, the developer page. 🙂 Community widgets are now easier to find, sorted into categories in the widget guide, instead of lumped into the widgets laboratory.

Scratch-proofing my chumby touchscreen

I kept the original film covering on my chumby for awhile. It’s not meant to protect the chumby in normal use. The sticky bits holding the film in place are prominently marked “peel here”. But it held up pretty well for 6 weeks:

Chumby with scuffed film

The chumby is a fingernail-operated touchscreen, so I ordered a custom invisibleSHIELD, a plastic originally used to “protect the leading blades of helicopters from wear and tear” and now sold for iPods, laptops, cameras, etc.

They come with a lifetime guarantee so I’m guessing my chumby screen will be safe from my fingernails from here on out.

If you want your own custom-order invisibleSHIELD, you’ll need good measurements and a link to a photo. Here’s what I gave them:

  • Inset in a bevel
  • 2 1/8 inch x 2 27/32 inch, plus a hair on each side
  • Radius at the corners at about 1/32 of an inch
  • a link to for photos

Expect to pay about $18 with shipping and to leave your chumby powered off for about a day after applying the screen protector. For better results, recalibrate the touchscreen afterwards to compensate for any loss in sensitivity.

Chumby streams your favorite internet radio station

Want to stream internet radio to your chumby? Type its URL on the chumby’s on-screen keyboard:Add a stream URL with the chumby's on-screen keyboard

Or choose from preloaded audio streams:
Radio Free Chumby

Chumby can play music and podcasts from:

  • iPod
  • SHOUTcast
  • Mediafly
  • Radio Free Chumby
  • My Streams
  • SlimServer
  • My Music Files (USB)

with beta control panel 2.6.54.

‘My Streams’, automatic rebuffering, and screen art are new since my last report.

Chumby is getting better fast. In November, when I got my Chumby, you could play music off an iPod, or use btplay at the command line to stream audio from any URL. The beta control panel makes this easier–and lets your chumby play widgets while you listen to music.

Streaming radio on my chumby

Streaming internet radio is a consumer’s killer app #1 for the chumby.

Hackers immediately find the joy in a cheap, hackable, portable linux mini-computer. But Muggles might ask, “How much did you pay for that?” or “What is it for?”

While the chumby still lacks a webbrowser (a tall order on a 266MHz ARM9 with a 3.5 inch screen), the beta control panel brings the chumby *much* closer to being an end-consumer device. If the rate of improvement and community interaction continue, I’ll be quite pleased, come spring, to have dubbed myself ‘chumbylover’.

I’ve used chumby more this weekend than anytime since Thanksgiving. Yesterday, I flipped from Berkeley’s KALX to skip sports programming from their match with Princeton, just to find WPRB gearing up for coverage of the same match. Earlier, Handel’s Messiah was streaming from my chumby. (Thanks WCPE!). Now I’m listening to oddly soothing music from Bob Brainen’s show on WFMU–a nice mix of instrumental (I’ve never heard a bass clarinet do *that* before), jazz, and pop music. Easy-listening, but not in the pejorative sense.

And how easy streaming is–in the control panel sense. 🙂

The default control panel has one music option: playing off an iPod.

Beta control panel 2.6.49 music options are much richer:

In either case, you can also ssh into the chumby to access other music sources.

Bottom line: Sure, I could pull streaming audio off my computer or a dedicated device, but the chumby–with its built-in speakers and rounded, hand-friendly shape, makes internet radio much more fun.

If only my house had more power outlets!

How to get a chumby

Quick answer: Go to

Are you sure you want one? The chumby isn’t ready for the masses yet [says CEO Steve Tomlin]. Still want to buy a chumby? They’re

“Insider’s versions will be upgraded … via WiFi to the full launch version, for free” [bunnie:studios, blog of designer Andrew “Bunnie” Huang]

Chumby now available