Hardware Hacker

Adventures in Making and Breaking Hardware
by Andrew “bunnie” Huang

March 2017, 416 pp.
ISBN: 978-1-59327-758-1
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  • Download Chapter 2: Inside Three Very Different Factories

    “Hardware, says Bunnie Huang, is a world without secrets: if you go deep enough, even the most important key is expressed in silicon or fuses. His is a world without mysteries, only unexplored spaces. This is a look inside a mind without peer.”
    —Edward Snowden

    “A tour-de-force that combines the many genius careers of one of the world’s great hacker-communicators: practical, theoretical, philosophical and often mind-blowing. Huang isn’t just explaining how to make things, he’s peeling back the roofs of factories, the surfaces of microcontrollers, and even the human genome. The secret workings of our world are laid bare and the levers by which they may be moved are put in the reader’s hands.”
    —Cory Doctorow, Author of Little Brother and technology activist

    “bunnie lives in the world of hardware where the solder meets the PCB. He has more practical experience and is a better teacher of how the ecosystem of hardware works than any other person I’ve ever met, and I know a lot of people in this space. He has rendered this experience and expertise into an amazing book—a hacker’s-point-of-view-bible to anyone trying to work in or understand and work in the emerging and evolving world of hardware.”
    —Joi Ito, Director, MIT Media Lab

    For over a decade, Andrew “bunnie” Huang, one of the world's most esteemed hackers, has shaped the fields of hacking and hardware, from his cult-classic book Hacking the Xbox to the open-source laptop Novena and his mentorship of various hardware startups and developers. In The Hardware Hacker, Huang shares his experiences in manufacturing and open hardware, creating an illuminating and compelling career retrospective.

    Huang’s journey starts with his first visit to the staggering electronics markets in Shenzhen, with booths overflowing with capacitors, memory chips, voltmeters, and possibility. He shares how he navigated the overwhelming world of Chinese factories to bring chumby, Novena, and Chibitronics to life, covering everything from creating a Bill of Materials to choosing the factory to best fit his needs.

    Through this collection of personal essays and interviews on topics ranging from the legality of reverse engineering to a comparison of intellectual property practices between China and the United States, bunnie weaves engineering, law, and society into the tapestry of open hardware.

    With highly detailed passages on the ins and outs of manufacturing and a comprehensive take on the issues associated with open source hardware, The Hardware Hacker is an invaluable resource for aspiring hackers and makers.

  • About the Author

    Andrew “bunnie” Huang is a hacker, maker, and open hardware activist. He holds a Ph.D in Electrical Engineering from MIT, is the author of Hacking the Xbox (No Starch Press) and The Essential Guide to Electronics in Shenzhen, and has served as a technical advisor for various hardware startups and MAKE Magazine.

    Table of Contents

    PART I: Manufacturing
    Chapter 1: Made in China
    Chapter 2: Inside Three Very Different Factories
    Chapter 3: The Factory Floor

    PART II: Intellectual Property in China
    Chapter 4: Gongkai Innovation
    Chapter 5: Fake Goods

    PART III: What Open Hardware Means to Me
    Chapter 6: The Story of Chumby
    Chapter 7: Novena: Building My Own Laptop
    Chapter 8: Chibitronics: Creating Circuit Stickers

    PART IV: A Hacker's Perspective
    Chapter 9: Hardware Hacking
    Chapter 10: Biology and Bioinformatics
    Chapter 11: Selected Interviews

    View the detailed Table of Contents (PDF)
    View the Index (PDF)



    “Bunnie is the ultimate tour guide of hardware hacking as it stands today, with an eye towards the sublime art of how things are /really/ made. The Hardware Hacker will take you on a journey through the factories of the world, covering both technical & ethical implications of the ‘stuff’ we manufacture and buy.”
    —Limor “ladyada” Fried, Founder & Engineer, Adafruit Industries

    MIT Technology Review spoke with Andrew ‘bunnie’ Huang about what you need to know about manufacturing in China.

    “Fascinating, insightful, and practical. Curious how the devices in our daily lives come into being? Want to manufacture your own project? In this well-written book, Bunnie describes the ins and outs of manufacturing process in China. A very entertaining and informative read.”
    —Mitch Altman, Inventor of TV-B-Gone

    “In The Hardware Hacker, Huang reveals the common ethic behind everything he does: a celebration of ingenuity, problem-solving, craft, technique and curiosity. Nothing less than a masterclass in modern manufacturing.”
    Boing Boing

    The Hardware Hacker will tell you how to succeed at whatever endeavor brought you to Shenzhen in the first place. It is, at its core, the primer for understanding the culture of making something in China, how to build thousands of things, and why Open Hardware works.”

    “Nobody sees and understands manufacturing like bunnie—nobody.”
    —Limor “ladyada” Fried, Founder & Engineer Adafruit Industries. Learn more about The Hardware Hacker on Adafruit's ASK AN ENGINEER!

    “I’d highly recommend this book for anyone interested in hacking, or even just casually interested in cyberpunk science fiction!”

    Watch Andrew “bunnie” Huang on Adafruit's ASK AN ENGINEER—“bunnie” Edition!

    “Fantastic! Requisite reading for anyone in the business. I know it's going to be good.”
    EEV Blog

    Andrew “bunnie” Huang spoke to Inverse about the SEG Electronics Market in Shenzhen, becoming dependent on our devices, and his work with Edward Snowden.

    The Hardware Hacker makes you rethink the items we buy, where they come from and how they end up the way they are, and the story of the many people who make them. Give this book to an engineer or a hardware hacker and I swear you’ll not hear a peep out of them until they reach the final page.”
    Meltwater's Raspberry Pi Hardware