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$1,959 pledged of $20,000 goal
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By William (Bud) Nail
$1,959 pledged of $20,000 goal
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About

If you miss your chance to back this project and claim a reward, many of the rewards and other related products and technologies will be made available on our website for purchase. www.FlipBit.net

New to KickStarter? Not sure how it works? You may want to Watch This Video First.  If you decide to back the project, click on the green Back This Project Button above.

For decades I’ve been thinking about a better way to do signage, art and décor. Thanks to the need to provide an intern (Alex) with a summer project I finally got the idea out of the grey matter and into a tangible product. Digital signage shouldn't have to use power when the data is at rest (or no one is looking).  With FlipBit, only a small amount of power is needed (and that can be people power) to change the bit's state and as long as it is at rest, it uses zero power.

FlipBits Illustrated
FlipBits Illustrated

Now you may be thinking - Not into signs - I've seen enough - moving on, but wait! FlipBits aren't just for signs. They can be used for interactive art, decor and even game creation. Imagine a wall that has two different murals, one for day and one for night. Or how about a mosaic art board for children to experiment with. Think about it, FlipBits may only have two sides, but each can have unique intricate designs. That is why they are bits not pixels. Hand made or die-cut stickers can be used to create detailed designs and apply to either side of the bit.

Example of a FlipBit Conversation Piece (3-Cent Nickel)
Example of a FlipBit Conversation Piece (3-Cent Nickel)

The FlipBit Designer (included with many of the rewards) lets you visualize and estimate the cost of your idea before you commit to building or buying real FlipBits. It will be available for Mac, Windows and Linux (thanks to LiveCode), and with enough interest we may even port it to mobile devices. (To see how the Conversation piece above was made and see a demo of FlipBit Designer watch the video below.)

I have an idea for an Advent Calendar where a completed picture is revealed after all the days have been counted down to Christmas. My uncle has an idea to use them as a progressive window shade, where the shiny side is turned to the sun when it is hot and to the interior when it is cold. Do you know what a QR code is? If so, I bet you can think of dozens of reasons to Flip between codes. There are probably as many ideas as there are people, and at least one good game out there. Name it FlipBit Go if you like.

Example QR code with 25x25 bits
Example QR code with 25x25 bits

 

Now isn't this the perfect gift for that hard to shop for person in your life? You give them a software tool and a few demonstration bits and let their imagination go wild.  (One person described FlipBits as sharing DNA with Lite-Brite® and Etch A Sketch®.)

Now we have a kind of chicken and egg problem.  How do we demonstrate what a great technology this is without lots of FlipBits? How to we scale up to build lots of FlipBits without demand? That is where you can help.

Alex and a few FlipBits
Alex and a few FlipBits

 

FlipBits Alex Made Before Assembly
FlipBits Alex Made Before Assembly

 

Assembled 3D Printed FlipBits
Assembled 3D Printed FlipBits

 

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With this Kickstarter project I have two goals: 

One obviously is to produce a product, but that is what I do often without Kickstarter. This goal is not just to make FlipBits but encourage imaginative people to create their own products using the technology.  

The second goal and reason I'm here at Kickstarter is to promote distributed manufacturing in general, and specifically by local and regional small businesses. We don't believe that responsible manufacturing can or should be done in a single location or region.

Environmentally friendly digital displays and other spin-off FlipBit products we imagine can be a start. The spin-offs like a smart stylus, remote automation and portable display towers are beyond the scope of this project, but we will be sharing them during the course of the project with our backers. Hopefully this project will provide some tools and provide encouragement to others to try their hand at manufacturing. 

My Dad with One of Two Huge Sign Masts
My Dad with One of Two Huge Sign Masts

I would love to provide an avenue for people to create their own jobs or hire additional employees if they already have a business. One of my favorite things throughout my career has been to mentor and develop other professionals and craftsmen. (I’ve received an award or two for my work in this area.) Maybe we can do that on a larger scale by demonstrating reference designs and scalable local manufacturing techniques that can be employed by anyone who is willing to put in the effort, without the necessity of raising much capital. That is why I’m pledging with this project to put my best effort into sharing knowledge and expertise to aid others as much as time and resources permit. 

To achieve these goals, we have to demonstrate some examples. Our current plans are to demonstrate some big, bigger and huge signage and some automation examples. For this we need to make a lot more FlipBits. While I can demonstrate some applications using the few we currently manufacture, we need to scale up to making thousands fairly quickly. 

"Tile" Theme FlipBit
"Tile" Theme FlipBit

We also want to experiment with new materials, and as we have time, we want to perfect one or two examples of automated bitFlippers. Really, flipping bits with your finger is quite satisfying, but when I show people the stylus technology, they get excited. Just walk up to the digital sign and draw to make changes. 

Once you start moving signage to high elevations, you see the necessity in having a “monkey” or other remote automation method. You can check my postings for more information on the difference between monkeys, spiders and other concepts of automated bit flipping. If you back the project at certain levels, you’ll have behind the scenes access to prototypes and tools you can build yourself. Eventually everyone will have access, but as a backer you get advance access.

All of us, myself and my current and future interns, craftsmen and makers, artists and entrepreneurs who are interested in pursuing this technology, will need a lot of FlipBits. It is their availability that makes the next stage of development possible. Did I mention we need your help to ramp up production quickly?

If you’ll help fund ramping up the production of FlipBits, you’ll be rewarded by getting early access to your own FlipBits, example products using FlipBits, 3D Print Files, Software, and Behind the Scenes knowledge. Take a look at our rewards and select the one(or several) that fits you best. And please, get the word out to others, especially those who like to make things.

The First Introduction Video We Made for the Project

Background:

The first part of my career was spent in manufacturing as a process control and automation engineer. Later I was recruited to join NASA to build a new instrumentation and controls group for propulsion testing, and spent over a decade hiring and mentoring a new generation of engineers. We went on to upgrade many of the 1960's vintage systems and most of these engineers are playing key roles at NASA today. 

In 2000, I left NASA to join my Dad and Uncle (both also engineers) in the family technology business where we provide design engineering and management advice to industry and government agencies. Soon I found that there was a need to build or manufacture specialty products for many of the same clients. So I reorganized a sister company to provide Just-In-Time manufacturing.

We specialize in quick turnaround, clean sheet designs and taking them to full production in just weeks or months. We have literally produced thousands of 3D printed parts and hundreds of custom printed circuit boards in just the last few years.  

Exactly what we do and who we do it for is our clients' business, so my ability to share details of much of my experience is limited.  But to give you an idea of what people who have worked with us think: The public record shows that I was awarded NASA’s highest engineering honor, the Medal for Exceptional Engineering Achievement, as a NASA employee in 1999, and 15 years later, in the private sector, my company, Technological Services Company was awarded a prestigious NASA Small Business Industry Award. (This should not be interpreted as an endorsement by NASA, they are not allowed to do that.  These are just the facts.)

2014 Small Business Industry Award
2014 Small Business Industry Award

 

Risks and challenges

I usually have one to a few student employees that I mentor and train to do much of the day to day hands on manufacturing and fulfillment duties. If this project was to exceed our modest funding goals, I will either have to take on more than the usual number, hire additional full time staff, or outsource some of the work.

If the response is completely overwhelming (a good problem to have) locally we have sheltered workshops for people with special needs that are usually looking for counting and packaging type work to help in fulfillment.

I have a favorite injection molding company I where I like to send my clients for volume production. To date they have always been able to go from prototype to moderate production rates in just a few weeks, and are not usually overbooked. If I was forced to use another company, there will be the usual trust, schedule and quality issues to worry about. That is not to say we will necessarily outsource the production, but if we did there would be the associated risks.

You may notice that although we talk about building a "really huge sign" as a technology demonstrator, we don't specify how big "huge" is. That is by design. We don't want to over promise.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    A Bit of Support

    Pun absolutely intended! We appreciate every bit of support. We will list you as a sponsor on our thank you page. And when we build that huge sign you take credit for any specific bit you want. Remember $1 is the lower limit for this reward. There is no upper limit!

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    Commemorative FlipBit

    The above plus you get a Commemorative Desktop FlipBit and Stylus plus access to some early designs and code. Does it serve any practical purpose? What can you do with just one bit? Dream and Brag, both honorable pursuits. Just don't do it on company time.

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    Experimenter Package

    With this package you get the above plus samples of each type of FlipBit (up to a max of five types.) Currently there are three types. This includes early access to stl files for 3D printing your own FlipBits. No technical support comes with these files. But its 3D printing, what could possibly go wrong?

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    Software Only Package

    This package includes early access to files for 3D printing your own FlipBits and instructions for fabricating FlipBits without a 3D printer, and the FlipBit Designer App. The Designer software allows you to visualize large two dimensional grids of standard or complex shapes and play with flipping virtual bits. Designer is coded using LiveCode which allows you to literally "open the code", see how it works, and extend it.

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    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    Designer Package

    The above plus 20 FlipBits and FlipBit Designer Software – These are enough bits to create a 4x5 grid. With this matrix you can set the bits to represent most English characters and experiment with other patterns. The Designer software allows you to visualize large two dimensional grids of standard or complex shapes and play with flipping virtual bits.

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    Imagineer Package

    The above plus we let you in on some related products that we haven’t fully figured out what to do with yet. Maybe you have the imagination to take them to the next level.

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    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    Micro-manufacturer Package

    With this package not only do you get the above, but we share with you tricks and techniques for manufacturing FlipBits using plastics and your 3D printer, as well as other materials such as woods, metal and fabrics. We'll be posting some examples later.

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    Pledge $49 or more About $49

    Art Kit

    Contains everything needed to build a 7x7 FlipBit Interactive Art Piece as shown in the video. (49 FlipBits, Fabric, Frame Kit, 2 sheets of pre-cut inkjet printable vinyl.) FlipBit Designer software is provided to let you visualize your images on the array of FlipBits before committing them to vinyl.

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    Pledge $80 or more About $80

    Maker Package

    With this package you get the above, but your number of FlipBits is increased to 80. We also include the parts for building your own BitFlipper. This is an actuator that can be attached to the arm of a robot or other positioning device to flip a bit to a desired state. You may need some basic knowledge and experience with micro controllers to fully utilize this package. You’ll need to know how to download and update the software on an Arduino micro controller. We’ll be able to point you to a tutorial. It will also be helpful if you have access to a 3D printer for updating parts as we improve the design. But we will also sell updated parts should you not have a printer. How you position the BitFlipper is up to you. Some team members visualize moving the Grid in one dimension while moving the actuator in another, others think of electro-mechanical spiders and monkeys that carry a BitFlipper.

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    Pledge $160 or more About $160

    Signage Package

    Signage package – this package is for someone who just wants lots of FlipBits, maybe as a re-useable message board or attention getter. Includes 320 FlipBits and Grid Fabric. This will display from 12 to 16 (4x5)characters. It does not include any of the other physical items, but does include all the virtual items above.

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    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    FlipBit Monkey

    This package is for experimenters who want to help improve the open design FlipBit Monkey. The Monkey is a remote controlled carrier that can move a BitFlipper (FlipBit Actuator) in two dimensions to manipulate a large Grid of FlipBits. This package includes parts to build a Monkey, as well as access to the latest part files and code to upgrade or build your own Monkey. The monkey is a work in progress – so don’t expect perfection. The Monkey requires a desktop computer to program and command. It includes at least 20 FlipBits and Fabric to match. It does not include any of the other physical items above.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    A Bag of FlipBits for Early Adopters

    Lots of Bits – 1000 at least. It does not include any of the other physical items described above. We'll help you source FlipBIt Fabric, or sell it to you separately because there are as many size and shape possibilities as there are applications.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    A Big Bag of FlipBits for Early Adopters

    Lots of Bits – 2500 at least. It does not include any of the other physical items described above. We'll help you source FlipBIt Fabric, or sell it to you separately because there are as many size and shape possibilities as there are applications.

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    Hero Sponsor

    If you are a hero, you get a much nicer commemorative award, plus a spot on our Hero Page. If you have a product or service that is compatible with our values we will be glad to provide a link to your site.

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    Pledge $2,000 or more About $2,000

    The 5K FlipBit Box

    Lots of Bits – 5000 at least. It does not include any of the other physical items described above. We'll help you source FlipBIt Fabric, or sell it to you separately because there are as many size and shape possibilities as there are applications.

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    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    Super Hero Sponsor

    If you are a Super Hero, you get a much nicer commemorative award, plus a spot on our Super Hero Page. If you have a product or service that is compatible with our values we will be glad to provide a link to your site.

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Funding period

- (30 days)