V2 Case Complete, and other updates

Greetings, everyone!

At long last, I can finally say that the V2 case has been sent to VooDoo for manufacturing, and it’ll be somewhere between two and three weeks before I receive the full run. I apologize for all of the delays up to this point, and while some of them were unavoidable I know that people have been waiting since July for these. The case itself will be $10, and will be available on our web store as soon as we get them in. Our initial production run is in Black and Blue, and we’ll be adding other colors when we order more. If you want a different color and have a 3D printer, we’ll be offering the STL files for sale as well. Price is yet to be finalized on those so I won’t give you a price just for it to change.

As for other updates, we’re changing the way we’re approaching conventions.

We went to BronyCon and had a blast. Despite some technical issues with a significant amount of the V2s, it was a place we could easily make back the money spent at, especially because it’s my local convention. Going to Nightmare Nights was great fun, but in the end we didn’t make money, for a number of reasons. And regardless of the fun, if you’re losing money you have to figure out why and change it. We figured out we could, theoretically, make a profit from conventions, IF we had a significantly larger variety of things to sell, along with a few other IFs and guesses. But even then, the profit margin would be very low.

Unfortunately, electronics are expensive to produce and transport, and then there’s the significant costs of getting to, staying at, and returning from a convention. Plus the hassle of all of the paperwork for selling in various states. What we’re going to do going forward is look into finding interested parties to resell DigiBadges and cases at conventions they’re going to. We’re still looking into who to work with for this, so I can’t state anything for certain.

We do intend on going back to BronyCon, and perhaps a few other conventions within easy travel distance, but hopefully with a partnership or two we’ll be able to vastly increase our availability while not spending all of our money getting there.

And for our final update, the V3 is being re-designed.

Again. Yes. I’ve read, re-read, looked at others’ interpretations, and made my own judgements on the FCC regulations regarding wireless communication devices. I feel comfortable in using a pre-designed device, in specific the ESP-12E, to drive the V3 and future DigiBadges. This ESP8266 module is available for a little less than the ATMega328 that I’m currently using, and it also allows for wifi usage and has a built-in flash memory chip – A very similar one to the ones I was planning on using. Additionally, the ESP8266 is more powerful than the ATMega328, and I’ve seen it displaying animated images and images in formats other than 24-bit BMP images. In all, it’ll simplify the design while also adding more capabilities. While the wifi will be disabled by default to save power, it will be there for others to use, along with the IO pins. While the IO pins on the ESP8266 are fewer than what is available on the ATMega328, it’s still more than the zero available on the V2.

And that’s all for today, folks. Sorry about the silence, but holiday times are busy times at my main job this time of year and I’ve also been busy with a few other things. I’ll post more updates when I get them!

Nightmare Nights and The Future

Good morning, everyone!

I’m back from Nightmare Nights, and boy was it a great time. Met up with friends, talked nerdy with a ton of people, and of course: Sold DigiBadges.

I won’t pull any punches. This is a business and it was a business venture. The primary goal was to see if a “small” convention – That is, smaller than BronyCon – would be worth it. The unfortunate part of what we do is that electronics are expensive. Prints can make a lot more profit than an electronic device. I had no doubts in my mind that going to Nightmare Nights, I was losing money. What I was aiming to discover was how much interest there was in not just the DigiBadge, but the Art Cards, cases, and other products.

Running the rough numbers after the convention was a really great look at things. A decent number of people asked about the cases, and I’m sure even more would have purchased them if they were available. There were some people who didn’t purchase because cases were not available. Simply having cases available would increase sales. There were also a smaller number that asked about the pendant and may have bought them had they been available. A few said they’d wait for the Version 3.

In a small handful of weeks and months, we’ll have all of those items available. While I don’t expect our next convention to rake in money for us, we’re definitely planning on a next convention. We’re going to be sending in the vendor application for PonyCon in the next few days, once we get the store updated with the new things. After that, we’ll have to look and see how expensive it is to get to a convention. Something like BabsCon or Everfree, being on the West Coast, are a lot more expensive for us to get to. Plane tickets aren’t cheap, and neither is shipping!

So, in short, Nightmare Nights may not have been a financial success, but it showed us that it’s worth pursuing the convention route further. It’s not the easiest thing to do, but boy is it fun!

I’ll be posting some more updates in the next few days. We’re close to finishing a case for the V2, and the V3 won’t be too long behind it. While the V3 will require a slightly different case than the V2, the changes are fairly minor so they won’t take nearly as long as designing a case from scratch. The Pendants only need some minor PCB changes – there was a sneaky switch of two pins that I didn’t notice – but then that’ll be done too.

If you have any questions or comments, we can be found on Twitter at @MatchfireTech, on Facebook at MatchfireTech, or through e-mail at contact@matchfire.net

Success! 18-File limit will be removed for V3 coding

Good evening, everyone!

I’ve been plunking away at figuring out a way to fix the 18-image limit that the V2 coding has. And I finally did it. This will be by default on the V3s, and will be available in a future update for the V2 code. It won’t be on the V2s for Nightmare Nights, as there’s still a lot of other code to write – For the V3, I’m essentially re-writing the code from scratch, and while it’ll be adapted to the V2, I have to finish the V3 code first. Which will take a lot of time.

To explain how I fixed it, I have to explain how it’s done now. Currently, the code creates an array of character arrays. Each of these character arrays is a filename for an image. They’re 14-character long arrays, so they take up a decent amount of space, space also used by other parts of the program. I thought of ways to expand the space – Loading names from a text file on the SD card, trimming down to the 9 characters needed for a filename without the extension, storing them in the Flash memory of the V3, but none of them actually solved the problem, just made it less of an issue, or moved it elsewhere. Trimming filenames down only netted a small number of additional files, text files would have to be perfectly formatted and would be unforgiving if someone made a mistake, and while moving the filenames to the Flash memory would allow for a massive amount of names to be stored, it would take a significant amount of time to do so.

The solution is is simple. Files are loaded in a specific order, so it’s only a matter of numbers. The function goes through, counts the files it sees, and when it sees, say, file number 3, it passes the actual name of that file to the BMP loader, which displays the image. This means a maximum of 32,767 images can be loaded. Why that number? Well, that’s the highest that an Arduino integer can go. That ends up being about 1.87 GiB of 60-kb files, which would take a significant amount of time to go through.

It makes changing images a lot easier, too. Change the number, pass it to the function. A bonus is that it also makes storing which image was previously loaded into Flash memory a lot easier, too. Just store the number.

I don’t expect to be fully done until a while after Nightmare Nights. I’ve got preparations to do tomorrow, and then Thursday I head out. I expect no progress while at the convention, of course, and then I’ll have a bunch to do after returning home.

Expect to hear more as I work on the V3 code. I’ll keep you posted!

Nightmare Nights stock update

Greetings, everyone.

I bear some bad news. The LED Pendants that I previously said would be available at Nightmare Nights, will NOT be available. Let me explain why.

I source a lot of my parts through various Chinese wholesalers. The sites I pull them from are not designed around selling electronic components. They’re more along the lines of Amazon, but even Amazon has better searches than most of them. I can usually find exactly what I’m looking for, but it takes some effort.

The part that I had designed around was the 1088BS 8×8 LED Matrix.

The parts that I have are 1088AS 8×8 LED Matrixes. Same physical size, completely different pinout. Being one letter off of the same item code, I can’t be sure if it was my fault, for purchasing the wrong item, or if I thought I was purchasing the BS version, or if the seller thought they shipped the BS version, or a number of other possibilities. The end result is the same.

The biggest issue is that, while I could pay for rush shipping, that takes anywhere from 5-8 business days. IF it took 5 days, it could get to me at NMN… but I’d not have either the time nor the tools to properly assemble them. I will have my portable soldering iron, but that’s not designed for putting together 100-ish components in a row. And that would require the shipper to get it out the door practically immediately. If it took a little longer, then it would get to the hotel long after I was gone – Not a good position to be in. I’ve already ordered the replacement parts, but as said, they’ll take a while to get to me.

I sincerely apologize to anyone who was looking forward to getting one of these at the convention.

-Andon

Nightmare Nights (And other updates!)

Greetings everyone!

Sorry for the long delay in updates. I’ve been working a lot, fiddling with things a lot, and also prepping for Nightmare Nights.

I’m really excited to be there. It’s my first time venturing out for a convention, as luckily for me BronyCon is within easy distance. I’m not sure if I’ll regularly appear at distant conventions as travel prices aren’t cheap, and electronics have a pretty high overhead compared to more traditional sellers. That said, I do have some neat news!

First up: I’ve received a prototype V2/V3 case from Alabaster. He put up some pictures in his last post, but when I got it I grabbed an old V1 and its case to compare it to and took some pictures:

And then I thought the new one looked pretty small compared to the old one. And it is. To demonstrate:

Yep. That’s the V2 in the V2 case, fitting snugly inside the V1’s case. And that’s not even a hacker case!

Unfortunately, the V2 case isn’t finished yet, so while I’ll have that prototype with me at Nightmare Nights, I won’t have any available to sell. There’s still a few things that need to be fixed before production can begin, but we’re really close.

On the other hand, I WILL have the Pendants with me! These are  a lot more versatile than the DigiBadges, although they don’t have quite the same screen. They have an I2C powered 8×8 LED Matrix – Which, being I2C, allows every pin on the 328 to be broken out. The driver for the LED matrix also requires 5V, so the pendant, unlike the V2, has a boost voltage regulator. This does mean it eats a lot more power, but it’ll still last a significant amount of time. Basic calculations put it at something like 15-16 hours or so. The Pendants will be available for $10.

I took two demonstration videos of what the Pendant can do:

In addition to the pendant, there will also be the V2 DigiBadge available. There will also be an Art Card with art by Leekfish available for purchase as well. In addition to the standard compliment of V2s, there are also a few ‘Damaged’ DigiBadges that will be available. All of these suffered some sort of issue with the SD card reader, so while you can’t use an Art Card with them, the basic badge functions work just fine. The DigiBadge V2 will be $15, while the ‘Damaged’ ones will be $10. This will be the last remaining stock of the V2 badges – But don’t worry! This just means the V3 is on its way.

“Wait, V3 you said?”

Why, yes! A V3! After hearing some feedback about the V2 and looking into things, I poked around at a few things I could do with it. I was also not satisfied with the way the V2 worked with batteries. While it could function off of a pair of AAAs for a very long time, the screen became unusable far sooner than everything else stopped functioning. So I took a look at the Pendant and V1’s boost regulators, and decided to put a 3.3v regulator on the V3. This means that it only needs one AAA battery, reducing the weight and allowing for more components on the back of the board.

What other components am I putting on there? Well, aside from the voltage regulator, I’m trimming down the navigation switch’s interface to use a single analog input instead of five different inputs. Additionally, there’ll be an ISCP header included, and – This is my favorite bit – A 1M SPI Flash chip. This will be able to store filenames for numerous art card images, and it will also allow for persistence of settings. Turning the V2 off and back on means you have to fiddle with it to get it back to the badge you want, or the image you want. With the V3, it’ll turn on to whatever it was set on last (Unless the image can’t be found, of course).

And, good fans, that’s not all! While it won’t affect you at all, I’m happy to say that I’ve found a place to have the boards manufactured. I first came into contact with them during BronyCon – I remember replying to their e-mails on the light rail on the way to the convention – and I’ve been discussing possibilities and costs for board manufacturing. Their prices are great, and I’ll be using them for manufacturing the V3s and other future boards. While there are a small number of parts that they aren’t able to source and I’ll have to send them, for the most part I’ll just send them an order, and they’ll print the boards, do the assembly, and send them out to me. I’ll have a few steps to take care of – Mostly, making sure they’re programmed and double-checking that they work – but it’ll take quite a lot of the load off of me. While it does cost me a bit more to have them made, I had given myself a bit of extra room to work with in the price of the V2 badge. I had planned ahead for eventually doing something like this, so the price you pay won’t be changed.

I currently have no estimate for when the V3 will be available. Right now, I’m focused on Nightmare Nights. After NMN is over, I’ll be sifting through all the data and seeing what happens next.

And if you are going to Nightmare Nights, the Vendor Hall Map has been posted! I’ll be on the left-hand side against the wall. For a quick recap on prices:

  • V2 DigiBadge: $15
  • V2 “Damaged” DigiBadge (Nonfunctional SD card): $10
  • LED Pendant: $10
  • Art Card: $10

Prices do not include tax, of course.

See you at Nightmare Nights!

-Andon

V2 Case Almost Finished!

Hello! It’s Alabaster with a long-overdue update.

I’m so close to done. There’s not much left for me to do. It’s taken me so long for so many reasons, and I’d like to talk about that a little before I mention my progress.

At BronyCon, I mentioned to those who asked that the case would be done mid to late August, and that never happened. I wanted to figure out a way to make the case nicer than the last one, and was having a hard time finding a way to do that. I’m not an expert designer, everything I know is self-taught for the most part. I tend to find myself in a position where I’m just not skilled enough to design the things I think of, and I try and work around that. On top of that, there’s the fact that 3D Printing isn’t always exact. I could design two parts that fit together perfectly, and have them not fit when printed. It’s a constant cycle of printing things, and making adjustments to things by a tenth of a millimeter.

The problem I had with the V2 case was the way the lid would attach to the case. Andon and I threw a ton of ideas at each other, but I was having a hard time replicating them in a way that my printer could keep up with. In the end, I’m fairly happy with what I was able to do, and I’d like to hope that everyone else will be too.

Here is what the case looks like in it’s entirety, right now. Mind you, I haven’t smoothed out all the edges, and I haven’t finalized anything yet.

Front view of the assembled design file

Front view of the assembled design file

Rear view of the assembled design file

Rear view of the assembled design file

I have a few photos of the printed and assembled case. Taking these pictures, I noticed a bunch of little errors that I may have missed otherwise. I’ve made note to change about 15 things, and I’ll go do those as soon as this gets posted.

View post on imgur.com

View post on imgur.com

View post on imgur.com

In the end, you can see I was able to successfully make the lid better. I made a real, working hinge! Inside the hinge is a 1mm diameter metal rod keeping it all together. It’s pretty simple to look at, but I had to reprint it several times before it all fit correctly more than 60% of the time. The only thing I have left to do for the case is make a latch on the front. I have a few ideas on how I want to do that, and that shouldn’t take me too long to figure out. More than likely I’ll end up using the same idea as the v1, except just a tiny bit in the front or the two front corners. We’ll see what works best while not looking like garbage! I really wanted to bring in some external parts for the latch, as well as the hinge, but that’s not going to happen, sadly.

As always, feel free to reach out to me on Discord, or at my email alabaster@matchfire.net

 

Never Finished Means Always Improving

When I set about to design the Verison 2 of the DigiBadge, I had no expectations that this would be the final end-of-the-line product. I expected to learn a lot, to experiment a lot, and to be able to do a lot more. So far, I have exceeded my expectations.

With that in mind, I’m going to go ahead and ‘Announce’ the Version 3 badge. It won’t be as radical a change as the V1 was from the V2, but there will be significant changes. I’ve talked before about adding the SPI Flash card to it, for some persistent data storage. This was initially going to be part of a Version 2+, but things have changed enough to warrant it being called the Version 3.

In addition to the flash memory storage, there will also be a more pins freed up, starting with a change to the control stick input. Initially, I had the control stick running through a bunch of resistors to a single analog input, with each direction being a different resistance. I couldn’t get that working and ended up using five direct inputs instead. The Version 3 will revisit this single analog input, freeing up four other pins. Another pin will be freed by tieing the screen’s Reset pin to the board’s Reset, but then that pin will be immediately taken by the SPI Flash’s CS line. I’ll be trying to break out these pins in the board, but space is limited, so I may not be able to do so.

Speaking of space, though, this leads me to the most significant change. The Version 2 uses two AAA batteries. Why? Well, because 3v is a perfectly acceptable voltage to run pretty much everything at. And it provides decent enough battery life, too. But two AAA batteries are large. Huge, even. They take up about 2/3 of the back of the PCB. I did some thinking, did some checking, and it’s easily affordable to change this.

In series, two batteries provide double the voltage at the same capacity. Two AAA batteries have roughly 1200 mAh of capacity… but so does one, just at 1.5v instead. So, I thought – Maybe I could include a boost regulator. After a bit of searching, it turns out that yes, I can, without much additional expense either. This will do two significant things. One, it’ll provide a nice, solid power state for the board at all times until it dies. This means no more screen dimming. No more worrying about the SD card going below its proper voltage threshold. Two, it’ll allow a lot more of the battery to be used. Currently, the Version 2 badge drops below useful power at about 2.7 volts, or 1.35 volts per cell. Realistically speaking, there’s a TON of power left in the battery – Maybe somewhere between 3-4x as much. The voltage regulator I’m currently looking at goes down to 0.8 volts. While it will use more power, I don’t expect to see much of a difference in expected lifespan.

The Version 3 will fit into the same case as the Version 2, which is why I mentioned those size restraints above. However, I AM working on something for the more adventurous among you: The return of the ‘Hacker’ Badge.

The Hacker Badge will be a significant change from the Version 3’s normal layout. It’ll be larger. A bit larger. It’ll feature the same components, but in a different manner. First, the nav stick will be moved to the front. Second, every pin that can be broken out will. There will be the FTDI connector, along with an ISCP header and headers for the digital pins and analog pins that are free, aproxamately 4-5 of each. It’ll have a different power switch, which will make Alabaster a lot happier in designing a case for it.

There are also a few other devices I’ve been working on, most notably the Super badge which I’ve covered before. I’ve also designed a breakout board for the SPI flash which I’m using, and an I2C controller for a MUX chip, mostly just because I can.

I’ll keep you guys updated with how things go!

-Andon

Alabaster on the V2 Case

Hey guys, been a good while since I posted, and there’s a kinda good reason (not so much) for that. I’ve been having rampant computer problems that have almost barred me entirely from using my Desktop computer (the one I do all my work on). Turns out, the memory leak I was trying to hunt down and kill was in more than just the three programs I had removed from my desktop about a month ago, but in Windows itself.

Long story short, the problem is fixed now. And I need to catch up. Badly… I’ve been putting of saying anything until I had the problem sorted out, and now that that time is now, here we go!

SO! I will be scrapping the half-finished design I had been working on in order to favor a new one. That being said, now that I’m not scraping along at 98% memory usage all day, I have the ability to both work faster, and show my work to you guys. As some of you may have already seen, I made a post on Twitter asking for votes on the type of media you would like to see (either a livestream, or a timelapse). HERE is a link to the tweet, so you may go vote. Now, keep in mind, if I do a livestream, I will also be posting that on the YouTube, if a bit later than I would post the timelapse.

 

Anyhow, yeah. Like Andon said at the end of his last post, I will be working to make it so that the V2 case is compatable with the V2+, V2.5, V3, whatever we call it. That way, you guys don’t have to wait months again for me to get my act together. I promised people at BronyCon that I would have the case design done by mid to late July, and I failed to deliver. And for that I am sorry.

My new “release date” is early to early-mid August.

 

As usual, if you have any questions, I can be reached on Twitter @MysterAla or through my email alabaster@matchfire.net

Plans for the future!

Greetings everyone! Figured I’d update you on what’s going on with the Super Badge, the V2, NightMare Nights, and anything else I can think of by the end of this article.

First up, the fun stuff: Updates on the Super Badge! If you take a look at the last post, you’ll see some things about the Super Badge. Well, most of them are now wrong. I found a screen that, instead of taking up almost all of the pins of an ATMega328, operates under SPI. This means significantly fewer pins are used, meaning we don’t need to have the 328, or its associated hardware such as the MUX, at all. This trade actually reduces the total cost by a handful of cents. Even though it is SPI, it’ll use a few more pins. Three pins will be used by the Chip Select pins for the display, the touch controller, and the SD card. Additionally, the display needs another data pin and a pin for the backlight, bringing the total used pins to 5, plus the 3 for the SPI bus.

That’s not an insignificant amount of pins. The ATmega32u4 only has 17 digital pins, and we’re using almost half of them for the screen! It does have six additional analog pins but we’re still using a lot of pins. It was at this time that I came across the concept of port expanders. While I initially was looking for SPI port expanders to save pins, they were all fairly expensive. Then I found the PCF8574, an incredibly inexpensive I2C port expander. Each chip adds eight ports, and while they require the use of the I2C pins, this doesn’t prohibit the use of other I2C devices unless there’s an address conflict. With this in mind, I immediately added two of them to the board’s proto-design. Then I went even further and added a PCA9685. This is a 16-channel PWM chip, designed for use with LEDs but often used for controlling servomotors. It can also be used as a general-purpose PWM output as well. With these chips added, the Super Badge will have 43 pins available. Granted, 16 of them are PWM output only, but that’s still a lot of pins.

Now, for other things.

In a few months I’ll be heading out to Texas for Nightmare Nights where I’ll be selling the remaining V2 badges and will have the first Matrix Pendants there too. If things go well, I might even be able to have a Super Badge prototype there, too! Given my track record with prototypes, I don’t expect to have the Super Badge until closer to the end of the year. I fully expect the first few designs to have horrible disastrous flaws in them, but that’s why you prototype.

Now, if you noticed, I said the “Remaining V2 Badges” – As you may have presumed, that wasn’t a typo. I’m currently in the concept stage of an improved version of the V2 badge. Whether it warrants a V2.x label, a V2+ label, or even a V3 label remains to be seen, but it’ll be different. First thing I’ll be doing is figuring out the SD card reset issue. A capacitor’s been suggested to me and should do the trick, but the question is how large of a capacitor do I need? After that, I’ll be looking in to squeezing on a small Flash memory chip for storing settings through power cycling, and I’ll also be breaking out as many of the pins as I can manage. Most of them are used, so it won’t be many, but it’ll be all of them that are available. I’m having Alabaster adjust his case design to accommodate this new badge, so we don’t have to turn around and immediately redesign the case for the modified board.

That’s it for now! If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them here, on our Twitter, or on our Facebook.

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s the Super Badge!

Greetings, everyone! Sorry I’ve been so quiet lately. After BronyCon I had some family issues that took up a large amount of the week after that. Since then, I’ve been mostly relaxing and playing large amounts of Fallout. But, I haven’t been entirely lazy. I’ve been mulling about doing a “Super” DigiBadge – A larger one with many more features, but at a higher, potentially significantly higher, price point. After BronyCon, Purple Tinker – The founder of BronyCon and a, well, tinker, hopped on our Discord Chat (Yes, that’s a link – Join us!) and asked about… a larger DigiBadge with more features. The conversation that ensued was glorious, with loads of ideas bouncing back and forth.

The biggest issue with the screens for the Super are that they require a VERY large number of pins. Put one on the 328 and you have just about nothing left. The obvious solution is to find a screen that uses fewer pins. We didn’t go for the obvious solution, because while price is less of an issue, it’s still a huge motivator. Instead, we went for the possibly-insane but workable solution of two microcontrollers on the same board. An ATMega328 will drive the screen, and will be programmed to accept commands to display things. Essentially, it’ll be the GPU of the system.

The real brains of the project will be an ATMega32u4, the same that is found in the Arduino Pro Micro. In addition to having 3 additional Digital pins over the 328 (Bringing the total to 16), the 32u4 also allows for six of those digital pins to be used as analog pins, bringing the usable number of analog pins to 11. That’s not even the biggest feature. That belongs to the fact that the 32u4 is USB-Native. What does this mean? You won’t need a special programming chip to interface with the device, making it significantly easier to program.

After we figured out how the project would work, we started figuring out what sort of other goodies we could throw in there. Below is the current list of features that I’m planning on putting on the Super, but be aware that it will likely change before the everything is said and done:

  • 2.8″ TFT LCD screen
    • Touchscreen, too!
  • MicroSD card slot
  • ATMega328 for GPU
    • FTDI Connection will be available for reprogramming
  • ATMega32u4 for CPU
    • USB-Native support for reprogramming the ATMega32u4
    • All unused pins for both microcontrollers will be broken out
  • 2500 mAh 3.7v LiPo Battery
    • Including charging circuit
    • Will charge if Super is plugged in but off.
  • 3.3v Regulator
    • No more screen dimming as the battery fades
  • USB Micro port for programming and charging.
    • Charge on the go with your phone’s charger!
  • 1Mb on-board flash storage for saving settings
    • Set a “Favorite” badge to default to.
    • Start to a “Favorite” image with an Art Card
    • Set and display your name!
  • 3-Channel Multiplexer/Demultiplexer
    • Both chips can share the SPI bus!

That last bit is a late addition to the board. Most of the Arduino-to-Arduino communications solutions out there are one-way. I wanted to have the 32u4 have access to the SD card, but the 328, being the GPU, would also need access to it. I’d have to code in a way to get information from the SD card, into one ATMega, and then to the other ATMega. This seemed a little excessive. The solution is a Multiplexer/Demultiplexer or MUX chip. This chip allows easy switching for three channels of communication (Clock, MOSI, MISO) between two sources to one destination – Or from one source to two destinations. And, it can all be controlled via the 328, so the 32u4 doesn’t even lose any pins, aside from those used for communicating with the 328 and the SPI pins. But those were going to be used anyway. The 32u4 would simply send a command to the 328 saying it wants the SD card, and the 328 would set the MUX appropriately and then use one of its own pins as the CS pin.

We had explored some other options for the boards, such as Bluetooth or WiFi capabilities – But then we run afoul of FCC regulations. Currently, Matchfire boards fall under the “Subassembly” category, making them exempt from FCC certification. If the FCC were to tell us that they didn’t comply with the Subassembly category, certifying the boards with the FCC would cost somewhere between $1000-$2000, which is a lot but not terrible. That all changes when you start throwing around wireless transmission. If you’re building your own wireless device, you have to get it certified. There’s a few caveats to that, but one of those is that you can’t make more than five boards, and another is that you can’t advertise them for sale. Certifying such a device runs somewhere between $10,000 to $25,000. Or more. It’s expensive, and Matchfire does not make enough money to pay for that sort of thing. They’re a little more lenient when you’re using a pre-built wireless transmitter, but those are a bit more expensive and outside of the price range of what we’d like for default inclusion. I plan on designing around users being able to include one of those, but it would have to be purchased separately.

Currently, I’m guessing, and only guessing, that the purchase price for these will be somewhere between $35 and $40.