Overall, we're in the sample phase of the project, which means packages are showing up in the mail! It was January when they arrived, but it felt a lot like Christmas! I've now received a sample of both the enclosure as well as the electronics so, as mentioned in the last update, the challenge is to get them to fit together and work properly.
All of the molds are complete, which is awesome news! What I've received is a "first shot" off the mold. So while these may look similar to the previous prototypes, it's a HUGE step forward. Massive steel blocks with hollow cavities have been precisely engineered for each separate part, and plastic was melted and shot into them at high pressure to form these.
Wait, why are they clear? Well, this allows us to examine not only the outside, but simultaneously check out what's going on inside as well. We're looking at the shape, fit, as well as how the plastic itself flows in the mold.
So far, things are looking amazing! This is truly one of those situations where the prototypes can't quite do justice to a production version. I was really happy with the 3D prints but it took a lot to make them come out right... essentially like crafting a model by hand. Sometimes if the model is too good, and the production methods or materials aren't quite top-notch, the prototype can look better than the real one. But this "first draft" of the parts is already better. The tolerances are much tighter so the fit is really good. And I'm looking forward to the next steps where we can dial in the surface textures and color.
The sample of the custom PCB has also arrived and, while indications so far are that it's working properly, it actually doesn't quite fit into the enclosure. This was basically as a result of changing the clips, as discussed in this update. The good news is that the clips work awesome, but the change caused some small interference. I've identified the small tweaks that need to be made. And we'll probably do another sample round of them.
It may be a bit abstract, but the programming task at hand also has to do with getting things to fit well. The sample works in almost exactly the same way as the prototypes, but some portions need to be slightly updated just for compatibility... sort of like if you move a printer from one computer to another, there's a bit of set-up with drivers and such.
While there are still some tweaks to be made, the software is working and I was able to assemble the PCB into the production sample plastic!
This is a huge milestone to have the whole device working, using production plastic, PCB, and code. From here, I'll continue to refine things, iron out various small issues, and march towards various production approvals.
Stay tuned and follow the project over on Instagram to watch as things unfold!
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