Frustrated with a curriculum change away from traditional CS courses in public schools, game developer David Braben built an ultra-low cost single board computer on a USB stick to facilitate a return to programming and learning how computers actually work. Connecting directly to a keyboard, with HDMI out to a monitor, the idea is to build courses around the tiny $25 PC, which is cheap enough to get into the hands of most students. And just because it’s inexpensive doesn’t mean it’s a dog. Sporting a 700MHz ARM 11 with 128MB of RAM and OpenGL ES 2.0 graphics means it has enough power to run Ubuntu. [via YC]

Adam Flaherty

Adam Flaherty

I make cool stuff and write about other people making cool stuff on makezine.com. If you have something you think I should see, send me a tip.


  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marcus-Pek/100000077807111 Marcus Pek

    It’s awesome !! Where can I buy it ? I’d like to use this Stick PC in my class !

  • http://twitter.com/reis3737 HÜSEYİN HÖKEREK

    thansk you nice siteeewww.fullvizyonfilmizle.com

  • Anonymous

    True innovation…… Apple would charge £200 for it…

    They would also package it so it couldn’t be opened. Make it illegal to modify
    it.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_EFPAUJQVOKJT7X6EURYPZJMHTQ Michael

      also, apple would sue this guy for making it first

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_EFPAUJQVOKJT7X6EURYPZJMHTQ Michael

      also, apple would sue this guy for making it first

  • http://www.facebook.com/tim.lewallen Tim Lewallen

    How is the device powered?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3MWBKXQNGDRUXVA6ZO7D6JBMPM Engineer Zero

    Wouldn’t this make a pretty respectable microcontroller? How is he able to make a complete computer for well under the cost of an Arduino? I tended to agree with the article, “How the Arduino Won,” but I also thought that the Arduino’s market-share victory would only last until something came along that completely changed the game. Is this it?

    • http://openid.anonymity.com/8TArU6eD Morgauxo

      Add a row of GPIO pins and open the market to everybody, not just schools and I think yes, that would be it. Then again, it would be interesting to compare power consumption…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Luiz-Fernando-Mattos-Ferreira/100000106176555 Luiz Fernando Mattos Ferreira

    Congratulations. What you did not only revolutionize the whole process of using Internet access simple electronic device, but also a facility for poor countries, where children who have no access to this type or any type of technology, can at least know and use a computer. This information and including the acquisition of this equipment should be more publicized. I’m sure many governments and nongovernmental organizations are very interested in will implement in their schools, because it is a cheap equipment and using a type of open source software such as LINUX or UBUNTU.

    • Anonymous

      I don’t see that it has an internet connection.

      • http://rahere.livejournal.com/ Rahere

        USB output. You can sling another 255 devices as well as the keyboard off that.

      • http://rahere.livejournal.com/ Rahere

        USB output. You can sling another 255 devices as well as the keyboard off that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Luiz-Fernando-Mattos-Ferreira/100000106176555 Luiz Fernando Mattos Ferreira

    Congratulations. What you did not only revolutionize the whole process of using Internet access simple electronic device, but also a facility for poor countries, where children who have no access to this type or any type of technology, can at least know and use a computer. This information and including the acquisition of this equipment should be more publicized. I’m sure many governments and nongovernmental organizations are very interested in will implement in their schools, because it is a cheap equipment and using a type of open source software such as LINUX or UBUNTU.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Schroeder/100002315921032 John Schroeder

    I want one.

  • http://openid.anonymity.com/8TArU6eD Morgauxo

    Great job fitting this into such a small package and keeping the price so low!

    I have three thoughts…

    1) It’s great that he wants to help education. Why make a product like this just for that one purpose though? I think makers all over the place, in and out of school will want it. Is it to keep prices down for the targeted underprivileged schools? Is it necessary to leave others out to do so? Wouldn’t more mass production lower the cost?

    2) If this is to be marketed to schools that cannot afford computers is HDMI the best video output? Do the kids have HDMI displays in their homes? Maybe they are still stuck with analog TVs and plain old RCA composite? Or do they even have displays they can use at all?

    3) Is there any chance of adding some some GPIO pins? Kids in school will probably be more interested if they can hook up a motor, sound maker or sensors to it. I suppose they can with a USB hub and some sort of USB to X adapter but the adapter might be expensive and will require kernel modules. Some GPIO pins would be much easier. This would also hugely increase the value if you wanted to market it to the general maker population.

    • http://rahere.livejournal.com/ Rahere

      One of the first compilers started in a UK school environment, at the same time as the basic work on bitmapped fonts.

    • http://rahere.livejournal.com/ Rahere

      One of the first compilers started in a UK school environment, at the same time as the basic work on bitmapped fonts.

  • http://openid.anonymity.com/8TArU6eD Morgauxo

    What is that component in the middle. I assume it’s not but it looks like a tiny camera.

    • http://rahere.livejournal.com/ Rahere

      Almost certainly a heat radiator

    • http://rahere.livejournal.com/ Rahere

      Almost certainly a heat radiator

  • http://profiles.google.com/thehacker003 (@!!# gfgfff

    it needs internet acces a 2usb female ports power connector and some way to acces the internet(bluetooth witeless lAN etc) then… i would buy it

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000085736976 Jake Wood

      actually you are correct. its a 12 mega-pixel camera. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000085736976 Jake Wood

      actually you are correct. its a 12 mega-pixel camera. 

  • http://profiles.google.com/thehacker003 (@!!# gfgfff

    it needs internet acces a 2usb female ports power connector and some way to acces the internet(bluetooth witeless lAN etc) then… i would buy it

  • peter cassidy

    This is a really interesting design and concept!  From some of the systems that we make at our company having a HDMI out port and a USB port is all you need!  I have been exposed to a lot of things at my company and adapters are definitely not off the radar.  We have taken HDMI and broken it out into VGA/Left and right channel audio and also octopus USB Cabeling that breaks out 1 USB port into 8 fully powered.  This could be a complete industry game changer.. I have been focusing on SFF chassis getting smaller, on friday (5/20/11) we are showing off our smallest so far (http://www.dtx.com/video%20tour.html) which is about the size of the palm of your hand with a dual core Atom CPU running windows 7

  • peter cassidy

    This is a really interesting design and concept!  From some of the systems that we make at our company having a HDMI out port and a USB port is all you need!  I have been exposed to a lot of things at my company and adapters are definitely not off the radar.  We have taken HDMI and broken it out into VGA/Left and right channel audio and also octopus USB Cabeling that breaks out 1 USB port into 8 fully powered.  This could be a complete industry game changer.. I have been focusing on SFF chassis getting smaller, on friday (5/20/11) we are showing off our smallest so far (http://www.dtx.com/video%20tour.html) which is about the size of the palm of your hand with a dual core Atom CPU running windows 7

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Daniel-Wall/1243346395 Daniel Wall

    I hate this idea going around that there needs to be a class for kids to learn how to use microsoft office programs and how to browse the internet ‘properly’. How pathetically incapable do schools consider their students to be.
    Nonetheless, the invention itself is a great concept!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=664425497 Jonathan Broome

      You would be astounded at the poor level of word processing skills of the people. I used to have to help people in my class all the time!

      • http://www.facebook.com/clhgamer Chaz Holliday

        i’m in high school and i switched schools because i was tired of people asking for help….

      • http://www.facebook.com/clhgamer Chaz Holliday

        i’m in high school and i switched schools because i was tired of people asking for help….

    • Anonymous

      Well, not all kids’ parents can afford all the hardware/software.  School is the only place some kids get to use a computer with office software on it.  And I would question the competence of the teachers and school administrators for making the decision to get kids hooked on Microsoft and overpriced Apple crap.  In school they should be shown PCs running Linux.  It would save the schools a lot of money and the kids would learn on something they will be more likely able to afford.  And they would get to see how a quality OS works rather than that MS and Apple crap.  Quality office suites that conform to open standards, compilers, server software, you name it, Linux has it.  And those poor kids wouldn’t have to use Internet Explorer, the worst piece of crap MS ever published.

      • http://www.digitalbodycount.com/ Baljot

        Yes, teach the kids Linux when 99% of the professional world uses Microsoft or Apple operating systems. SUPER SMART POWERS ACTIVATE

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Casey-John-Schmidt/516507684 Casey John Schmidt

        they don’t use linux because most home pc’s run windows or apple. it would be extremely tedious to work on an assignment began in class at home if school computers used linux. besides, some kids probably wouldn’t be able to figure out how to install linux  in a separate partition on what is most likely their parent’s computer.

        • Anonymous

          Why would they have to install Linux on their parent’s computer? 
          Assignments started on Linux at school would likely be compatible with
          the software on their parent’s computer.  Linux’s Open Office is fully
          compatible with Microsoft Office and Open Office runs on Windows and Mac too.  If they’re writing computer programs
          in school no problem, the compiler on Linux runs in Windows and Mac too.  What
          other assignments might they start at school and want to work on at
          home? A CAD assignment?  No problem there is a free AutoCAD compatible CAD program for Linux.  A graphics assignment?  No problem.  Linux has GIMP which is almost as capable as Photoshop and Corel Draw and works with the same graphics files they work with. An assignment to build a website? No problem. HTML is HTML so HTML editors and web site building software is cross-platform compatible. Where is this huge incompatibility problem you speak of? It’s in your head and that’s all.

          When you THINK about it instead of just following the Windows lemming dogma, how many schools or parents can afford AutoCAD, Photoshop or CorelDraw anyway? How many can afford a full blown compiler (the free Microsoft compiler sucks)? If they installed Linux, schools would have access to tons of free, quality software that they cannot afford to have for Windows and Mac. So you see, Linux is not a restriction, it’s a liberation in every imaginable way. Lemmings don’t like being liberated though. They’d rather pay through the nose for crap all their lives rather than think and act for themselves.

          Finally, installing Linux in a separate partition on a Windows machine is
          a piece of cake, not at all beyond the ability of kids.  The days of
          Linux being difficult or incompatible are long gone. Nvidia and ATI supply free Linux versions of their proprietary drivers and Linux easily identifies all other hardware and installs drivers for it. No BSODs. No viruses. No weekly updates.  A much more capable software installer and updater than Windows.  The list of advantages of Linux over Windows and Mac goes on and on.

          • http://twitter.com/Norkis6446 Norkis88

            Get off of your soap box about Linux! Nobody gives a shit. You know why Apple and Microsoft make millions of dollars every year? Because their stuff is awesome and people want it. You know why Linux finishes a distant third, behind the big boys? Because their stuff sucks and nobody wants it. Oh, but you really like it and think that it’s awesome! That’s great. Just except the fact that nobody else gives a shit. 

            Seriously. Now you can make your “you are just a sheep like everyone else” comment and think that you have it all figured out but I genuinely want you to know that you don’t. Part of having a really great product is the ability to easily market it to a wide variety of people. You know why we don’t see commercials for Linux? Because it is in NO way better than Apple or Microsoft products and they, themselves know it! So they don’t bother promoting it because they know that they don’t stack up. They count on people like you who love the idea of being the only person they know loving Linux more than they actually love Linux to buy their crap and then geek off about it to their “friends”.I know you desperately wish that everybody would “think for themselves” like you do but fortunately for us, we have aren’t like you.

            I want you to know that every time someone like you opens their mouth and starts saying crap like what you typed about Linux that there are people like me who know that you are “that guy” and immediately dismiss everything you are saying and start look for someone else to talk to. So stop being “that guy”! Stop fighting the good fight for Linux and go buy a Mac or a PC.

          • Anonymous

            Norkis88I have deleted your comment. We have a “be nice” policy here on MAKE and do not allow profanity, namecalling, and personal attacks. If you want to redo your post without these things, we’d love to hear what you have to say. Thanks.

          • Anonymous

            Thank you Gareth.  I wonder why Norkis88 is so angry.  Do you suppose it might be pent up frustration from being hit with a BSOD every day?  And what’s with the rant about never seeing ads for Linux?  Of course Linux doesn’t advertise in media that require money for ads. Linux is free.  It’s creators don’t make money from it so they don’t have money to buy advertising on TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, etc.  I think if he/she would just try Linux he/she would see how wonderful it is.

            Norkis88, if you’re listening please contact me, **ddk_007**AT**hotmail**DOT**com.  I am concerned about your anger. I know I can help you have a far less frustrating experience with computers. Let’s be friends, OK?

    • Anonymous

      Well, not all kids’ parents can afford all the hardware/software.  School is the only place some kids get to use a computer with office software on it.  And I would question the competence of the teachers and school administrators for making the decision to get kids hooked on Microsoft and overpriced Apple crap.  In school they should be shown PCs running Linux.  It would save the schools a lot of money and the kids would learn on something they will be more likely able to afford.  And they would get to see how a quality OS works rather than that MS and Apple crap.  Quality office suites that conform to open standards, compilers, server software, you name it, Linux has it.  And those poor kids wouldn’t have to use Internet Explorer, the worst piece of crap MS ever published.

    • Filip Malyszek

      no one is talking about learning to use office or learning to browse the internet, they said CS course as in computer science not technology for retards courses

  • mophead6

    Great idea! However there is one thing I must add. If this products’ target audience is young people who do not have much money, why make the only display output HDMI? I am aware that it would cover video and audio in one but if they are poor enough to not have a computer, how can they have a HDMI tv?

  • http://www.facebook.com/gary.truesdale Gary Truesdale

    I like the educational/programming aspect of this product but it could have a million applications.  Very cool.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=515804488 Brian Mohr

    Cool product, but the camera is problematic – it’s going to flop all over on a keyboard USB cable. Even with some kind of built in stand there is not enough weight to hold it in place. Maybe some kind of super hook-and-loop (velcro) on the back to secure it in place.
    This item is small enough to incorporate into glasses that have a built in monitor, then you just need an easy input method that doesn’t include a clunky keyboard – possibly wireless gloves that work like a keyboard???

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=515804488 Brian Mohr

    Cool product, but the camera is problematic – it’s going to flop all over on a keyboard USB cable. Even with some kind of built in stand there is not enough weight to hold it in place. Maybe some kind of super hook-and-loop (velcro) on the back to secure it in place.
    This item is small enough to incorporate into glasses that have a built in monitor, then you just need an easy input method that doesn’t include a clunky keyboard – possibly wireless gloves that work like a keyboard???

  • http://profiles.google.com/dennis.gentry Dennis Gentry

    Guys, Guys, I have a $10 Linux PC with ethernet and vga output!  Pay attention to me!

    More seriously, I’ve heard about this thing (the “real” one) for at least a few months.  Why can’t I buy or build one yet?
    So far, the cheapest linux computers are old routers that can run open-wrt or dd-wrt, etc.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GC5TPO32OER7ZFBIQQDWGPTLGA jim

    PPL you can install windows 7 on a flash drive for free.  You can also download 7 off of Shareaza.
     
    windows 7 on thumb drive

    shareaza download

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DEDKAY2OR27RQ4VX5E7PSMFXMM Aaron

    yes, but does it run crysis?

    • Anonymous

      that should not even be a serious question in your mind. It will on the other hand run quake 3 and probably the other two quake games before that 1 and 2. haha… Where can I buy one? :) Pure genius.

    • Anonymous

      that should not even be a serious question in your mind. It will on the other hand run quake 3 and probably the other two quake games before that 1 and 2. haha… Where can I buy one? :) Pure genius.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DEDKAY2OR27RQ4VX5E7PSMFXMM Aaron

    yes, but does it run crysis?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2LOG4G4FXXG43OGDW3KCSEIHH4 Jon
  • http://www.facebook.com/dawson.nolan Dawson Nolan

    HOW DO U MAKE IT?

  • http://www.facebook.com/dawson.nolan Dawson Nolan

    HOW DO U MAKE IT?

  • http://twitter.com/Imagine_Works Imagine Works

    4D used in web-designing…………..http://bit.ly/qxWZuo

  • http://twitter.com/Imagine_Works Imagine Works

    4D used in web-designing…………..http://bit.ly/qxWZuo

  • Asif Ali

    Well that is cool information! I recommend that it this technogies should be 
    submitted on Technogies.
    Technogies is a social networking news site dedicated for the New Inventions, 
    Research,Products and Articles in the world of Technology. Publishing News and 
    blogs articles by its members, Stay up to date for Technology with the 
    technogies 
    visit for review http://www.technogies.com

  • Scott Morrison

    Although this is an awesome development, “poor” countries have already jumped beyond the “desktop” form factor.  They have cellphones.  Cellphone penetration in places like sub-Saharan Africa is far more widespread than most westerners would realize:  http://www.africantelecomsnews.com/Africa_Subscriber_Data.html
    giving a board like this to a child in a developing country would be like giving a ham radio with a Morse code key to an American kid who is tweeting to his friends on his Iphone.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeff-DeWitt/1354140669 Jeff DeWitt

      The kid tweeting his friends doesn’t have a clue how the technology works, the kid with the Ham radio will lean.

      This is all about learning the technology behind out gadgets.  I learned a lot more about computers from machines not all that different from this thing (Such as a Sinclair ZX-81) then I have from my 3.3 Ghz quad core Win7 machine.

  • http://korioi.blogspot.com Badbug

    Quite smart and simple. But there is no mention of flash memory and I don’t see a third port. CPU, check. Graphics, check. RAM, check. Monitor and keyboard, check. Where do you install the slim OS (say XUbuntu) of your choice?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeff-DeWitt/1354140669 Jeff DeWitt

      I expect the OS would be on a USB memory stick.

      This is a really cool idea.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeff-DeWitt/1354140669 Jeff DeWitt

      I expect the OS would be on a USB memory stick.

      This is a really cool idea.

  • Anthony Hall

    This I like…and yeah I am a zx spectrum kid! Now THAT was computing!

  • Anthony Hall

    This I like…and yeah I am a zx spectrum kid! Now THAT was computing!

  • http://twitter.com/Rapidparts1 Rapidparts.ca
  • http://www.vouchercodespy.co.uk/ vouchers

    Conversely, a computer which is limited in function (one that is not “Turing-complete”) cannot simulate arbitrary things. For example, simple four-function calculators cannot simulate a real computer without human intervention. 

  • http://twitter.com/bepvietjsc Hung

    very good

  • http://twitter.com/bepvietjsc Hung
  • http://www.itrush.com Cool New Gadgets

    a USB Stick PC? what the.. how about running it on a windows box?

  • http://mobile--tracker.blogspot.com/ mobiletracker

    The USB computer comes with an HDMI and an USB port so you just plug it
    into a TV or some other device that has an HDMI socket, connect a
    keyboard via the USB port and get a fully-configured system.

  • http://mobile--tracker.blogspot.com/ mobiletracker

    The USB computer comes with an HDMI and an USB port so you just plug it
    into a TV or some other device that has an HDMI socket, connect a
    keyboard via the USB port and get a fully-configured system.

  • http://www.bennixville.com bennix

    How does it runs? Sounds cool

  • http://www.bennixville.com bennix

    How does it runs? Sounds cool

  • Kush Munasinghe

    WoW,, niceee,,

  • Pingback: Build your own $25 Stick PC…? « Science Teaching Tools()

  • http://www.facebook.com/thang.manh.1088 Thắng Mạnh

    Almost certainly a heat radiator

  • http://www.facebook.com/BếpCôngNghiệpSỹCường Thắng Mạnh

    If this is to be marketed to schools that cannot afford computers is HDMI the best video output? Do the kids have HDMI displays in their homes? Maybe they are still stuck with analog TVs and plain old RCA composite? Or do they even have displays they can use at all?

  • http://gravatar.com/manhthangbds manhthangbds

    Congratulations, USB output. You can hang a 255 devices such as keyboard shortcuts. I want one. http://bepcn.vn

  • https://www.facebook.com/bepnhahang.vn Bếp Nhà Hàng

    $ 25, this price is not cheap???