Jason J. Gullickson

Jason J. Gullickson

Parametric Personal Computers

 I’ve had this idea for a few years, I may have even written about it before.

I started designing a printable, solar-powered computer a long time ago. It was modular by nature because I wanted to be able to customize it as new tech came along.

At some point I had the idea to make the whole thing parametric and automate generation of the parts based on different component selections. For example, change the SBC from a Raspberry Pi to a Parallella and the printable parts change to fit the new selection. You press “print” and drop in the new board.

As I noodled on this I had the idea of turning the process into a web shop where you could point and click various parts and have the site churn-out a new machine. In addition to the printable parts it could produce a list of other parts (boards, lcd’s etc.). From there the printables could be printed and the other parts purchased directly, or even the printable parts could be purchased from a printing service in whatever material is desired. For those who don’t want to assemble their machines the parts could be delivered to hackers who are willing to provide assembly as a service.

I didn’t take the idea too far because I really didn’t believe that there was anyone else out there who might find it as exciting as I did. However in the last year I’ve seen a sharp rise in interest in “ cyberdecks ” which have a lot in common with the various incarnations of parametric computers that I had been designing, and that could be generated by such a system. Based on this, I’m wondering if the time has come to revisit this idea?