Always have a backup!

Greetings, everyone! Andon here, with another tale of woe… that ends in triumph!

I’ve been trying to find a supply for a larger screen – A 2.4-2.6″ TFT LCD with a touchscreen. Size varies depending on who you’re asking about the given screen, and currently I’m having issues getting a screen that’ll work with the code that I have. I’ve bought a few sets of screens that claim to have one controller chip, but it turns out they have something different that doesn’t work nicely.

This is, obviously, frustrating. While I’ve not yet found a screen that I’ve got to work, I still have my ace in the hole: The 1.8″ TFT LCD from the DigiBadge V1. I’ve found a nice supplier for these screens, and they’re exactly the same as the ones I used on the V1, just without the pesky size-adding PCB on the back. Exactly the same isn’t even an exaggeration – They’ve got identical markings on them as well.

While I’m still searching for a large screen that I can get to work, I’ll be putting together a V2 “Mini” version that I’m absolutely, 100% sure I’ll be able to make work. All the parts work nicely together – the only thing needed is a circuit board. If I find a 2.8″ screen, I’ll still be offering the V2 “Mini” alongside the V2 “Large” when pre-orders open.

Oh, yeah! There’s that, too!

Instead of running a Kickstarter this year (It’s a little too late for that anyway), I’ll be funding the production of the things myself. To help out with that, I’ll be opening pre-orders a bit before BronyCon on a few items. I’ll have more information later, but keep your eyes out!

Additionally, some small news on the Pendant that I find somewhat amusing. It turns out that the matrix driver chip only works in a narrow voltage range, optimally at 5v. Those of you familiar with such things will note that two AAA batteries only provide 3v max. Adding batteries isn’t a solution as not only would the size become a bit silly, the voltage would skip cleanly by the 5v needed.

So, what is needed is a step-up power regulator. After looking through a few of them and finding some of the parts were incredibly expensive, I looked at the V1’s regulator – And found there was a version that functioned identically, except instead of a 3.3v output, it gives 5v. And, as I am much more capable at soldering and also own a reflow oven, surface mount parts allow for a much cheaper set of parts. In the end, I did end up exceeding my price goal…. by exactly one cent. Which is perfectly fine by me. The amusing part to me is that the pendant, which was supposed to be simpler, ends up having a few more complex parts than the DigiBadge.

And that’s it for today, folks! I’ll be checking back in with some more news, as soon as I have it.

-Andon

 

If at first you don’t succeed – Redesign the whole thing!

Greetings! Andon here, with another update on the pendant.

The little monster is being a real pain. The LEDs that I was so happy about? Turns out they’re about impossible to put down properly with a pair of tweezers. And as we don’t yet have the money (Or space) for a Pick-and-place machine, I decided to investigate other LEDs. In the process, I discovered that the coin cell batteries, at the power consumption levels I’d be using, last a matter of minutes.

Obviously, that’s unacceptable.

 

I’ve gone and re-designed the whole thing, from the ground up. While I haven’t finished the actual PCB design, here’s what’s going on:

  • The Pendant will be powered by 2 AAA batteries, same as the DigiBadge. This helps lower the number of different things we need to assemble the boards, although it does make the pendant a little bigger.
  • It will no longer have 4 RGB LEDs. Instead, it’ll have an 8×8 LED Matrix. Currently, the ones I’ve found for the right size and price are red, but I’m going to look for other colors as well.
  • It will no longer use the ATMEGA328 – Instead, we’re going back to using the ATTiny85. More LEDs, but a controller with fewer pins? That’s because we’re using a driver for the matrix that uses i2c 2-wire communication.
  • The temperature and light sensors have been removed. While neat, they wouldn’t really be usable in a useful enough way to warrant their inclusion. This also allows us to reduce the price, as the two sensors were significant portions of the cost of the device

These changes amount to a significant reduction of price. I’m aiming at $10 for the pendants – Previously, they would have had to be $15 for everything on them.

Given the fact that I’m no longer getting anything with coin cells, in the interest of streamlining things I’ll be suspending the CoinDuino project for now. I have some experimental boards, and I’m going to put one together to see how well it works, but with the issues I’ve found powering from a coin cell battery, I won’t be manufacturing them for sale in the near future. The focus is going to be on the DigiBadge V2, the Pendant, and the MinDuino. Once I get those three working how I want them to, I’ll be poking back out at each of the other ideas I’ve had.

That’s all for now! As always, I’ll keep you posted

-Andon

Current Events! & Maybe New Store Stuff One Day?

So, the last post (The one right below this one) ended with some talk of him coming to some events with me. This weekend, Andon shall stay with me on campus, and take a tour of New Jersey and New York.

We’re planning on doing just two one things, but I’ll be looking for things for us to do Monday afternoon after our second event ends.

SO! Event #1 is on Sunday the 10th. For the past few years, probably three or four, I’ve been attending an event in New York at the Jacob Javits center called “Inside 3D Printing Expo and Conference”. Needless to say, I love it. It’s free to attend, and has a show floor containing the latest and greatest from the worlds #1 3D Printing companies. They also have workshops and keynote sessions if you really want to see some of the good stuff. The Expo goes on for three days, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.

Event #2 has a bit of a story behind it. Last… Oh man, it’s gotta be last October or November, I spent a day in Harlem, NY, assisting one of my professors lead a workshop on 3D Printing in art at the Leeroy Neiman Arts Center. A bunch of really awesome artists came, and learned how to involve 3D Design and Printing in their works. I had a total blast, and apparently I made a good impression with the organizers of that event, because a month or two later, I get an email from someone who heard my name, and they wanted to know if I was willing to return to my home county and lead a hands-on workshop for educators in the area. To be honest, I was speechless when I got the email, and I kinda freaked out a bit. A lot. I freaked out a lot. Spent the next hour in a panic over just how badly I could mess the opportunity up. BUT! I’m going! It’s going to be amazing! I’m going to show my previous teachers a thing or two about 3D Printers.  The event is on Monday, the 11th, in the morning.

^Just got the email that this thing is going to be moved to November. Me and Andon will be attending the Expo Sunday and Monday.

 

Beyond that, Andon mentioned that there was some stuff going on that he wanted more details on before talking about them. I’m not sure how many things he has going on behind the curtains I can’t see through, but there are some things I can show off!

Possible Sticker design we might sell in the store, or other stuff. I got 20, just to put them on stuff because I can.

Possible Sticker design we might sell in the store, or other stuff. I got 20, just to put them on stuff because I can.

Three separate designs, one for me, one for Jason, and one for the company. Unless I decide to write funny names and job titles on those.

Three separate designs, one for me, one for Jason, and one for the company. Unless I decide to write funny names and job titles on those.

Got one for me, and one for Jason. They're super soft, and I love mine!

Got one for me, and one for Jason. They’re super soft, and I love mine!

Picture of me in my room, wearing one of the many possible T-Shirt designs I've been poking at, trying to figure out what looks the best, for us to sell in our store.

Me in my prison cell, wearing one of the many possible T-Shirt designs I’ve been poking at, trying to figure out what looks the best, for us to sell in our store.