Homebrew Mini-Chumby Blends 3D Printing, ESP8266 and a Touchscreen

We were all despondent when our Chumby’s went dead. And plans to hack at least one of them died when the device quit powering on. [Spiros Papadimitriou] must have missed his too because he’s made a good start at making his own wireless, touchscreen, smart clock.

In all honesty, it isn’t much of a Chumby replacement yet. It has a clock and can control some devices. There’s some hooks to add a weather display that isn’t finished yet. Still, it is a working first step. Of course, anyone can take a Raspberry Pi (or similar), a Wifi dongle, and a touchscreen and do the same thing, right? Maybe, but it is a lot harder to make one you (or your significant other) wants on your nightstand. [Spiros] took a lot of time to design a beautiful 3D printed case.

One trick that [Spiros] uses for a clean finished look is friction welding. This involves putting a piece of filament in a rotary tool and using it like a welding rod, allowing the friction of the filament’s rotation to melt the plastic. You should preheat the area you are working on, but [Spiros] found that letting the filament just lightly brush the desired seam for a bit would do the preheating easily. Once preheated, it was simple to apply a little more pressure and make good-looking seams. He used this technique to conceal threaded holes into the case, a topic we’ve talked about recently. Applying XTC-3D — an epoxy coating formulated for finishing 3D printed objects — also helped produce a professional result.

As for hacking, [Spiros] had to reverse engineer his WiFi lightbulb’s protocol, but that seems like nothing compared to the case. You can see the final result in the video below. Of course, Chumby is sort of back. But then what fun is it to buy something you can build yourself?

5 thoughts on “Homebrew Mini-Chumby Blends 3D Printing, ESP8266 and a Touchscreen

  1. Nice job, specially on the case. Was thinking of making something similar a while ago, before the ESP came out, but wifi was too expensive to be worth. I ended up getting a cheap tablet which is good for so many more things.
    The current device cost at $45 puts it next to tablets which would beat it in every aspect, so I would say no. But using just an ESP and cheap touch screen might make it worth while.

  2. Two problems with the Chumby were the second version dropped stereo audio and went from two USB ports to one. Both stupid moves despite improving other features.

    What made them think that cutting back on two features the customers would notice the most was a good idea?

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