About this project
TechCrunch: “BitLock’s system means you can tap into the sharing economy by sharing access to your bike with others”
Mashable: “Keyless entry used to unlock your front doors, car doors, and now it’s ready to unlock your bike.“
CNET: “Toss your bike key with BitLock Bluetooth lock”
Engadget: “BitLock offers a bring-your-own-bicycle approach to bike sharing”
FastCompany:” With Bitlock, it's now easier to share or rent your bike to anyone, and you'll never lose your keys again.”
GigaOM: “Could Bitlock crack peer-to-peer bike sharing?”
The Atlantic Cities: “Start Your Own Bike-Share With This Keyless Bike Lock”
Why the frame pad?
The frame pad can protect your bike from scratches while adding to the rad-ness of your ride. If you are sharing bikes with others, the frame pad will make your bike stand out in the crowd and will give it a more distinctive and identifiable look. So this way you can easily eyeball the shared bikes that use BitLock from a distance.
How BitLock works:
Video Demo 1:
BitLock Demo 2:
Lock exploded view 2:
- Battery: Lithium-thionyl chloride 2.4Ah non-rechargeable
- Battery life: 10,000 lock/unlocks (5 years with average usage)
- Battery shelf life: 20 years
- Product dimensions: 4” x 8” (10.2cm x 20.3cm)
- Product weight: 2.40 lbs (1.09 kgs)
- Shackle thickness: 12mm (0.47 Inch)
- Material: Heat-treated and cut-resistant steel
- High security disc-style cylinder
- Protective vinyl covering
Lithium thionyl chloride (Li-SOCl 2) battery is the best candidate for low power remote monitoring and sensing applications, such as environmental and oceanographic measurement, animal tracking, emergency locators, RFID devices, etc where the cost of battery replacement becomes prohibitive and a self-contained power supply is required. Lithium thionyl chloride batteries feature the highest energy density of all lithium chemistries (1,420 Wh/l compared to ~500Wh/L for the rechargeable lithium battery in your smartphone), high capacity, and the ability to withstand extreme temperatures (-55°C to +125°C). The battery used in BitLock holds 2.4Ah of energy in a standard AA form factor. It also offer 20+ year service life due to extremely low self-discharge (less than 1% per year compared to 3% per month for rechargeable lithium batteries) and are designed with a unique safety feature that protects the cell against extreme temperature, pressure, puncture, shock and vibration. With the current design, BitLock can perform more than 10,000 lock/unlock operations on a single battery. This is enough to provide a 5-year battery life under average usage. No charging is needed. Once the battery level is low, the user gets a notification on their smart phone to replace the battery.
BitLock Evolution: from idea to reality
Most of the hardware design process was centered around finding an efficient, compact, and secure locking mechanism. Using a solenoid was out of question. Solenoids are very power hungry and inefficient. The actuation system had be driven by a low power DC motor.
Linear actuation is messy. Worm gears (in fact all gears) must be enclosed inside a dust proof box enclosure to ensure reliability. Making custom gearing system would increase the cost and complicate the project.
This was a starting point. The design had a lot of flaws. The load on the motor had to be minimal to save power. In this design the motor was doing a lot of unnecessary work (rotating the batteries too!).Also, the locking mechanism was not secure enough. More research and rigorous prototyping had to be done to get to the perfect lock.
After doing a lot of research, I eventual found it! Disc locking was the best choice. It was simple and it provided high level of security. Putting the ideas together...
Now it was time to find the best DC motor. To find the perfect candidate, I had to search for a motor that yields the best performance, cost, and power characteristics.
When I started this project, bluetooth low energy (BLE) was only in iPhone 4S. So I was looking all around to find a Bluetooth module that would support all smartphones. Soon I realized that the change is happening faster than I thought and switched to back BLE. BLE was the best option. It was cheaper, connectivity was fluid and easy, and most importantly it consumed very little power.
Then, it was time to get more detailed sketches inside a CAD software.
PCB design began. I got the PCB from OSHPARK. Awesome service, highly recommended! (no I am not affiliated with OSHPARK)
Soldering SMD devices specially the micocontroller with QFP packaging was a nightmare. Fortunately, there was a reflow oven in TechShop of Menlo park (well it is technically a toaster oven attached to a temperature controller!!!). It made soldering a lot easier.
The soldering paste however was not properly stored in cold temperature and it was too thin. As you can see the paste under microscope is not properly laid out on the PCB. I had to buy new paste. Eventually it worked out! It was time to program the microcontroller
The PCB was designed to eliminate the need for an extra connector on board. It saved space and dough.
I was playing around with a rectangular design. I ran into a bunch design problems and decided to switch to tubular design.
3D printing the compartments and iterating on the prototype:
Getting crafty on the manual mill!
I was contemplating about making a few limited edition BitLocks with the logo CNC'ed on the plugs and filled with blue and green epoxy. Then, I realized it was too much overhead. But if you are interested let me know;) I can make it for you.
The tube had to be painted. I fell in love with this blue color at first sight. So I decided to powder coat the tube with Azure Blue.
We have been working with our sourcing partner, Berkeley Sourcing Group, to identify factories in Shenzhen China that are well equipped to manufacture BitLock. As soon as the project is successfully ended, I will be heading to Shenzhen China to inspect the identified factories in person and begin manufacturing the factory prototypes for quality control. We have also contacted our part suppliers to make sure they all have multiples of the necessary quantities in stock and will place the orders as soon as the funding goal is reached. We are also expanding our team of engineers to move faster on the software side and to make sure the software development process is fully pipelined with the manufacturing process.
Who am I?
My name is Mehrdad and I am the founder of Mesh Motion Inc.
I have been writing code and making electronics as long as I remember. Around 15 years ago, when I was in high school I made a home security device that was attached to landline and called an emergency number in case of home intrusion. At the time, I didn't know anything about microcontrollers - In fact micro-controllers were not as ubiquitous as today. So I used basic glue logic in an attempt to implement a state machine to make it!! And soon realized that there must be better a way to do it. I needed to learn more.
To find answers to all of these questions in my head, I set out to go to college to study electrical engineering. Well I may have done too much of that. I continued my education and eventually got my PhD from Rice University. I’ll tell you about my research thesis later.
As I was nearing graduation, there was something missing inside me. I didn’t know what it was at first. I had deep technical knowledge across many different fields and topics but I didn’t feel fulfilled. I soon realized that I had a huge urge to make and create which was suppressed for many years. Making things just for the sake of making. I needed to go back to making. Making something from scratch and breathing life into it. It could be anything, even a sculpture.
It was around the same time when I got obsessed with the idea of smart phones replacing keys. What made me interested was not merely replacing physical keys with another physical object. I was more fascinated about the potential of being able to share access remotely in a flexible and frictionless way. Sharing access to stuff. Objects. Anything. Being able to lend and borrow stuff anytime and anywhere in the world.
I asked myself: What are the objects we can share? There were so many of them. So I decided to make “A” lock and let people decide what to share and with whom to share. But I needed a starting point. So I decided to start out with bike sharing.
Then technical questions arose. What about reliability issues? What about the battery? When Bluetooth low power came out, I knew it was a game changer. It solved the radio power consumption and connectivity issues. But still I had to figure out an efficient way to perform mechanical actuation. I also began researching about battery technologies to find the best candidates.
When I started out, I had almost no knowledge of manufacturing. I came to this from an electrical and computer engineering background. I had been mostly writing code and make electronics and was less familiar with mechanical engineering, design and manufacturing. So I took more than 15 fabrication classes in Tech Shop of San Francisco (Autodesk Inventor and AutoCAD, CAD2CAM, mold design, CNC, basic metal shop, manual metal lathe and milling machines, mold making, Injection molding, sand blasting, powder coating, etc.) to fill this knowledge gap.
I felt like being in heaven working in Techshop. I felt like being a child who was given all the toys he asked for. I could play all day. I had to be reminded to eat. I worked day and night without feeling tired. I did that for more than 10 months. Throughout this project, I got a chance to work with the brightest engineers and designers and learn from them. It has been an intense crash course on everything, and a wonderful journey. I really hope I can continue this with your support and deliver an exceptional product to you.
I'd like to thank Stephen Jean-pierre from VizualJockey and Sam Leabo from 5AM Films for doing such a fantastic job on the video. Making the video with these guys were the fun and memorable. I'd like to also thank AJ Ahadi from SigmaProject for helping with prototyping and 3D printing, and Cameron Robertson from Lockitron for lending a beautiful Lockitron to us for shooting.
Risks and challenges
According to Kickstarter statistics, more than 84% of the top successful Kickstarter projects shipped late. We don't want to be one of them. We strongly believe in "under-promising and over-deliving". Because of that we decided to add enough time margin to our estimated delivery date to make sure BitLock is shipped on schedule. We understand that we may lose some backers because of the mid-summer ship date but we believe we can later bring them onboard to join the BitLock family once we are in full production.
From the beginning of this project we followed a 3-word mantra: "Make it simple" Every step of the way, we made sure all of BitLock components are designed for manufacturability. This mindset has helped us a lot.
We have been working with our sourcing partner (Berkeley Sourcing Group) to identify the qualified factories in Shenzhen China to manufacture BitLock. Our sourcing partner has taken more than 400 products from inventor's hands out to market over the past eight years.
As soon as the project reaches the funding goal, we will begin manufacturing factory prototypes from the identified factories for quality check and start manufacturing the first batch of BitLocks for beta testing afterwards.
The design of some of the internal components of BitLock are still being finalized before the making final mold, and are subject to slight changes. Although minor changes has to do with internal components and design for manufacturability, there is always the chance that this can slightly change the look of the product.
We are using a Bluetooth Module that FCC, IC, ETSI, CE, RoHS certified. Because of that we do not have to deal with the gruesome FCC certification process. End product listing is free and easy to do. This will save us 3-6 months of work and hundred of thousands of dollars of certification fees.
However we still may have do some EMC testing on the final product which is going to be much easier.
During the design, we tried to use off-the-shelf components as much as possible and avoid using specialty parts or parts available only through a single supplier. We have contacted all of our suppliers to make sure they have all of the necessary components in stock for immediate shipping.
We have finished the development of iPhone application, however it is not fully tested and ready for deployment. The work on the Android application is still under development. We are sizing up our engineering team to make the development of the applications as well as the backend service for key management in parallel with manufacturing of the hardware.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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