Cigar Box Computers

The idea for my first Cigar Box Computer came from when I was kid, my Dad had made a cigar box crystal radio for me. I loved this thing, it had a crystal earphone, a loopstick tuning coil and best of all; it needed NO POWER. It peaked my interest in how it worked. This was how I got started in electronics, I just could not get enough of gadgets. I kept going with learning about electronics and eventually computers and programming. So, in April 2003, the idea for a low-cost small simple computer was born.

The Cigar Box Computer or CBC for short has several attributes that make it unique among computers.

Cigar Boxes 

Cigar Boxes come all kinds of sizes and shapes including some very nice fine wooden ones.

Cigar Box     Cigar Box   Cigar Box

These can usually be found for free at most places that sell cigars, like gas stations, supermarkets, Walgreens, etc. Just ask if they have any empty ones! I get one to five almost every time I ask. If you frequent any of these places, you could ask one of the employees to save the boxes for you.

Cigar Box       Cigar Box


Almost any low power programmable embedded computer will do. But the best ones are the low cost development boards available from many of the chip vendors. These will come with an IDE and development software for the chip they are pushing at a very low cost. Here are some of the vendors that I have used:
All of these companies sell development kits for low cost. Some of these developement boards are very small.

Zilog Z8 Encore XP Developement Board    Zilog Z8 Encore Developement Board
This is a Zilog Z8 Encore XP Developement             This is a Zilog Z8 Encore Developement Board


Software is the key to the usefulness of a CBC. There are many ways to program a CBC depending on what your goal is. You can use the canned software I have provided or you can write your own from scratch or anything in between.

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Last Update: 01/18/06