Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Redesign underway!

It's been a slow few weeks in the world of the Frankenkindle.  Having an infant in the house, while amazing and stressful and miraculous, leaves little time for electronics tinkering. 

The Frankenkindle was intended to be a Christmas gift for my sister, but something went sideways when it everything was transferred from the old wooden stand to the new plastic body.  It became unstable, and only worked sporadically.  Needless to say this isn't suitable for a gift, and I'll need to fix it before Amberly can use it.

Fortunately, I had already planned to create a custom PCB design for the next phase of the project.  PCB, for those of you who may not know, means "Printed Circuit Board".  PCB's aren't susceptible to any of the instability issues that are inherent in wire-wrapped boards, which are prone to lose wires, shaky connections, etc.  This is what bit me at Christmas.  The wire-wrapped prototype circuit proved too fragile to be transferred from one body to the next, and something broke.  The design is solid, so it makes sense to take the plunge and transfer everything to a PCB.

Wire wrapping is a great technique for quickly prototyping a concept circuit, but it is never to be considered a good long-term solution for circuit design.  The downside, of course, is the additional time and money required to produce a good PCB design. Fortunately the fundraising efforts on the IndieGoGo campaign, along with a few other donations, has allowed the project to move forward.  A PCB is being designed now, and should be available for testing soon. 

The initial PCB will replicate the same features of the existing Frankenkindle device.  Since the primary goal is still to give it to Amberly as a (very belated) Christmas gift, I want to get it functional as quickly as possible.  Once she's taken care of, I'll begin adding features and pushing the design to the next phase.

So what's next?  All sorts of good stuff.  New capabilities for the Frankenkindle itself, interfaces to new devices, and a few completely new ideas! 

Keep checking in, there's a lot more to come!

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