Open hardware hacking is actually getting EASIER. For example the tools for surface mount work are reasonably cheap (soldering iron and stereo microscope), free CAD software, low cost PCB fabrication, and web based components stores like Digikey.
I have been developing some open hardware designs for Embedded Asterisk IP Telephony and have also have some popular blog posts on open hardware.
Free Telephony Project – Link.
…and bergeron76 writes –
I’m about to open source the DashPC startup and shutdown controller. This device helps people put computers in their cars. I plan on releasing the board layout, schematics, and [quite possibly] the code for the Microprocessor and putting them in the open-source domain. I do, sell it commercially, but people may be able to hack it to do other things – so I’m providing the schematics for free.
More details can be seen here: http://www.dashpc.com/