Prolific hacker and maker Bunnie Huang, founder of Chumby, will be on the show next week. Our timezones don’t line up well, so there may be a possibility of glitches and/or rescheduling, but we want our listeners to be able to ask him questions!
So what do you want us to ask Bunnie about? Already on the docket is his latest fight surrounding his new neTV device and doing so without violating the DMCA. We also want his perspective about working directly with suppliers in Singapore (his hometown) and mainland China. And his perspective on the Open Source Hardware scene, which he is a large part of, will of course be a topic of discussion.
Bunnie is a smart, accomplished hardware designer, so ask away in the comments section below!
Xilinx or Alterra?
Do any of them have an avr-gcc like open source toolchains?
Recommendations for devboards for beginners?
Explain how you used the FPGA to sniff the memory in the XBOX.
Recommendations for logic analyzers.
Bunie wrote an entire book about his hacking of the xbox if you’re interested :
“Hacking the Xbox: An Introduction to Reverse Engineering”
WOAH!… I mean, I have some questions too:
1.1) what’s to consider when jumping from bare PCBs or kits to consumer products?
1.2) comment on your development cycle: concept, product design, system design, firmware?
1.3) do you piggybacked on any standard platform
2) financing and start-up: how did you find the money?
3) neTV: looks cool, that warm fuzzy feeling of “why didn’t I think this before”
I second @jpwack’s questions especially #1.1 and add
1. I understand you are the sole designer of the neTV. How did you learned to layout/design these complicated PCBs with lots of high speed signals?
2. How do you debug high speed PCBs?
3. Is it possible to learn the skills you have without getting a graduate degree in EE? If so what are some resources?
Thanks, I’m a huge fan.
I hope you are going to talk about todays closed systems and vendor lock in. Here’s some pondering on the subject. I’d like to hear Bunnies take on the matter:
How open systems (services and devices using open formats, protocols etc.) could become the standard? Big companies obviously don’t want to make anything open, because they would lose the advantage of vendor lock in. And while there are open alternatives, they usually don’t gather that critical mass of users to become popular.
The basic internet services (web, email, IRC…) are open, but the new ones are proprietary (skype, facebook, twitter…). Same with devices.
Is it possible to make open systems and devices while having a profitable business around them?
How could companies benefit from making open systems or using some already made open system instead of creating their proprietary one?
John Dowdell says
Does Bunnie consider PCB layout a mostly creative right brain activity? Does he listen to podcasts or audio books while doing PCB layout or does he find that distracting and instead maybe prefers silence or classical music or something.
hi. I am really really sorry for this not-so-smart question but I am having trouble understanding what NeTV does.
could this be used to overlay treadmill controls or information display from a treadmill or other cardio product over the top of or underneath a video program? That could be useful for people who run or bike indoors and watch TV while doing so.
Congratulations on your success so far, Bunny! and thanks for being a guest on my favorite web radio show.
(I am a mechanical guy and new to EE and not super into electronic gadgets, hence the beginner level question)
Can you please describe the process you go through when you design the HDL for a large-scale FPGA application? The preparation necessary, diagrams, tools used, debugging, time-frames, rituals, etc.
David Kronstein says
A few questions/requests for Bunnie:
1. How long did the hardware and firmware for the NeTV take to design and debug? How many respins were required?
2. Please talk a little about developing the HDMI/HDCP overlay insertion core: Architecture, development/debugging challenges, etc. Was it particularly challenging to get working?
3. For an open project like the NeTV, why did you choose a Marvell SOC which requires signing an NDA to get documentation? Why not a similar part from TI (for example), which has freely available datasheets and user manuals? Another project with the same problem is the Raspberry Pi.
David Kronstein probably the same reason he chose Marvell for Chumby. Now why did he choose Marvell for chumpy is interesting 🙂
My question – What makes you think NeTV is legal? You do decrypt video stream (at least in some buffer in fpga).
David Kronstein says
If I understand correctly how it works, it actually doesn’t decrypt the HDMI video (at any point, even in the FPGA), but encrypts the overlay to match the HDMI encryption and substitutes HDMI video with the overlay as needed.
Stream processors VS FPGA.
Will Stream processing be more popular?
Will FPGA vendors morph towards it or it will not get there?
What is the future of open source hardware/software going to be like with respect to the current attitudes towards DMCA, SOPA, PIPA, DRM etc. Is it going to be harder, easier? what barriers will exist? will there ever be a time when we won’t have to discuss DRM etc?
I asked Bunnie a few weeks back regarding if DRM was a motivator towards increased piracy – and if this is particularly true with respect to region locking and some more detailed information on his views in this area would be awesome, particularly with his standing in the open source community.