What’s next…

That is a question I’ve been contemplating about for the last few days. Having produced a first functioning prototype is quite encouraging! The question is now what to do with that success. 

While there have been some people that have shown interest in buying one, currently the number possible orders does not exceed 20. That on the other hand would not justify having   50+ boards manufactured as that would include having to lay out about $2000 in advance. We have been in contact with a manufacturer in Germany (where the co-host of this blog is located) , specialized in manufacturing small series. This by the way is not a garage shop but a company that has been doing this for 20+ years and they’d be providing us with a complete turnkey solution. We send them the layout and money and they send us back completed boards. However, that only makes sense if the number of boards is larger than 50 for the first batch and would also really only make sense if there would be several batches of 50+ boards after that.

We could investigate to find a less costly alternative, however, the reduction in cost would have to be rather significant 30%-50% to really make a difference. We have a costed BOM and the price of all the components assuming Newark as the source of supply is about $27 for a qty of 50 boards. That does not leave much room for the labor to actually build the board.

My current thinking is to set up a fund raiser at Tindie and then post on a few forums to determine if there is enough interest to justify having 50+ boards manufactured. Another option would be InMojo. They are also offering assembly and serve as a sales platform for open source hardware.

Meanwhile, as I’ve mentioned above, my early success is really encouraging. Should there not be enough interest I can imagine making these myself depending on what QTY is involved. Making the first prototype was my first venture into SMD and Solder Paste and Reflow Soldering in a Toaster Oven. I started around 6:00PM in the evening getting all the materials ready, building a makeshift stenciling fixture etc. I was done with testing the prototype and had written the blog post by 11:00 PM. I believe it took me a good 120 minutes to populate the board. I had not made an assembly plan and I was doing it on my computer desk going back and forth between the layout and schematic in Eagle to see where the component went and and then I had to use the BOM with the Newark part number and find the bag/reel/tape with the component, and get them out of the packaging  to be finally be able to place the thing on the board.

With some better preparation and a little hardware I believe I should be able to get it to well under 30 minutes per board. I have ordered several of these and several of these and with some intelligent, labeling and an assembly plan things should progress much faster.

I have sets for 4 more prototype boards and will see how quickly these can be assembled with better planning within the next week or so.

Once that is completed I intend to send one or more to my partner-in-crime in Germany to do some testing under load. I don’t have enough LEDs to test the thermal side of things and he has managed to burn out one shield already. This should tell us how many LEDs the shield really can sustain! I only use one RGB LED @700mA per shield in my own lighting projects (trippylighting.com) and none of the thermal considerations are of any concern 😉


About trippylighting

Mechatronics Engineer

Posted on April 9, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. You may have thought of it, but $2000 on a Kickstarter might be easy to get, if not some several times that. Looking at other ‘duino based Kickstarters, or LED projects, I believe you would have fair success.

    • Thanks for the tip. I’ve backed several projects on Kickstarter and it was one of the first ideas i had in how to access a bigger audience. I don’t think the project is ready for a Kickstarter though. The shield in its current form has a few limitations. E.g it only offers three channels and only 700mA. I believe it would be ideally suited for Tindie.com on the other hand.

      I have a concept for a next more modular led driver that would eliminate these limitations and would generally offer a coupe or so more options. That may be good Kickstarter project!

  2. Could you make a contact/preorder page – I cannot figure out how to sign up for one. Tindie would be as well great.
    Best, Lucas

    • Lucas,

      Thank you very much for your interest. I added a little “Store” page to the blog and for now this would be a good place to leave a comment. However, I have started a draft on Tindie.com for a fundraiser and hope to be able to activate within the next few days.

  3. I am happy to see that this project is going on. More then a year ago I had some contact to neuroelec. But …
    I am interessted in buying two of your shields. How can I order them?
    I am located very closed to your manufacturer in Germany. Is there any way to get it directly from them?
    Regards, Peter

    • Peter,

      I added a little “Store” page to the blog and for now this would be a good place to leave a comment. However, I have started a draft on Tindie.com for a fundraiser and hope to be able to activate within the next few days. We are not producing the shield quite yet and I hope we can gather enough interest to have a batch of 50+ made. More is always better.
      What my parter and I actually have to figure out yet is how to do things logistically. He lives in Germany and if/when we manufacture this shield I don’t see any reason why you should not be able to order through Tindie but receive it as a shipment within Germany from my partner Peter J.

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