SocketCircuits is about learning, and then inventing. It's easy enough for an 8 year old to use, and versatile enough for prototyping many of the technology projects that you see here on Kickstarter.
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SocketCircuits is moving forward to production!
The support from SocketCircuits' fans has been absolutely inspirational, and SocketCircuits will definitely be relaunching and moving forward to production! The new campaign will be focused on in-house manufacturing. This lowers the funding goal significantly by eliminating the excessive costs of outsourced mold design and minimum production orders. It also means that future design improvements, as well as new sockets, can go from prototype to production in a matter of days!
How is this possible?
The parts will be manufactured using a plastic injection molding machine that I've been designing from scratch. The first prototype machine has already produced a working injection molded socket (circled in green) using a proof-of-concept socket mold (circled in blue).
The difference in clarity, compared to the CNC machined socket, is due to trapped bubbles. Bubbles are caused by an insufficient injection pressure. I'm in the process of retrofitting the injector with electric powered hydraulics that are capable of 10 to 15 tons of injection pressure, and I'll be machining a metal version of the mold as well. The final machine will be completely automated and scalable to meet future production demand.
Please bookmark www.socketcircuits.com and check us out after the campaign ends! We'll be launching a new campaign shortly after this one, and I'll post a link for the new campaign on the socketcircuits website.
Again, thank you all for your support!
SocketCircuits is for Makers, STEM Educators, kids, artists, professional engineers and anyone with an idea and a desire to invent their own electronic device.
I’ve collaborated with world renowned papercraft artist and engineer Rob Ives (www.robives.com) to bring you:
“BarriBot” – A papercraft animated robot, with a unique LED-lit barrier grid animation.
There is a simple coin-cell battery and LED circuit under BarriBot’s head. Under the body is a changeable animation image. The grid allows you to cycle through four distinct images and there is an opensource program available for creating your own barrier grid animations for BarriBot.
From beginner to advanced...
Kit's like BarriBot are just the beginning. Development is continuing for "SocketBot", a papercraft programmable and swarm capable robot. A proof-of-concept magnetic coupling was developed to allow low-cost motors to directly drive paper wheels:
The next step is frame design and double layered wheels to hold the weight of the robot. The final motor socket will also incorporate optical sensors for precise servo-motor movement. Stay tuned as this exciting real-world product is developed using SocketCircuits.
Affordable & Versatile
We never have to cut a potentially awesome circuit or kit based on projected sales, because all kits are in digital form as downloadable diagrams. They all share the same basic sockets too, which lowers manufacturing costs.
One of the exciting features of SocketCircuits' kits is that they can go in 3 dimensions, like this folded papercraft clock tower:
The end of proprietary
We don't use any custom modules, connectors, wires, or parts. No soldering, expensive inks, or glues are required.
SocketCircuits' sockets are compatible with millions of low-cost commonly available components, including components with unique pin layouts like potentiometers, motors, and switches that won't fit into breadboards. This means that nearly any circuit can be built with them!
Note to Engineers: It's truly liberating to be able to build circuits with the layout that you want, instead of losing time translating your circuits to breadboards. Plus, full-sized POTs that don't fall out!
A better way to learn
You can finally focus on the circuit, instead of breaking concentration with complicated directions. The puzzle-like construction makes even this college level circuit possible for kids 8 and up.
Take the challenge! On the left is a SocketCircuits strobe light circuit. On the right is the same circuit on a traditional breadboard. Chose any part or pin and see how long it takes to figure out what it is connected to in each image.
SocketCircuits are assembled on a diagram, so the layout is intuitive, unlike with breadboards. This makes it easier to see the role of each part in the circuit, how the electricity is flowing, and how to modify, troubleshoot, or add to a circuit.
Mistakes are easy to find! The wires are color coded to match the diagram, so mistakes really stand out and are easy to fix.
Symbols... the way circuits connect... to us
From the start it was important that the learned skills could be applied to all electronics, while being beginner-friendly, and still staying true to conventional industry diagrams. I wanted it to be entirely visual too, so I created color code bars and symbols that match the colors and number coding of actual parts. I kept the part values there as well, to encourage natural association and memorization without any conscious effort!
Hi, I'm Cory Russek, the creator of SocketCircuits. After 2+ years of research and development, I'm very excited to bring this project to Kickstarter! We're about to open up a whole new world of possibilities, for kids and adults alike, to explore electronic circuits, invent, and design real products!
The “maker movement”... can it be entrepreneurship too?
Products like Arduino are bringing logic, sensors, programming, and robotics within reach for kids and hobbyists. The stage is set, for easy low-cost prototyping of just about any idea you can think of... but there's a catch; You can't sell prototypes. They are simply too expensive. For every $1 in parts cost, a typical product price goes up by $5 to $10. That goes for modules like Arduino as well. If you include these premium modules in your design, then you could end up pricing yourself out of market... and that's why I'm stepping in. For some ideas, an Arduino may be the electronics equivalent of putting a Ferrari engine into your lawn mower. Did you know that there are programmable processors available for under 50 cents? That's a processor capable of driving a basic roaming robot too... in fact, let's do it!! The world's first papercraft programmable robot!
Bringing the vision to life... SocketCircuits as a product incubator
Over the course of this campaign, you'll get to see "Socketbot” take shape. From the initial goal you just read, to rough outlines of features, and prototypes of the robot's cardstock/papercraft frame, we'll take this journey together and start a “technology product” from scratch using SocketCircuits. By the end of the campaign, we should have a clear idea of what the robot will look like and what it should do. As a backer, you'll get to see what happens after the campaign, as the circuits are prototyped and motors and sensors are installed into the frame. In a series of video's and guides, I'll explain each part of the circuit and design, in easy to follow terms, along with thought processes for overcoming design challenges. Once the robot is complete, I'll launch it as its own kickstarter technology product, with the goal of funding an affordable process for transitioning a SocketCircuits prototype circuit into a mass produced printed circuit that goes into a retail product. My long term goal is to help people bring their electronics ideas to market, through the amazing revolution of crowd funding (Thank you Kickstarter!!), without needing the resources of a company or university.
But this is a kit... How does it help me invent?
I'm glad you asked... After the company is up and funded, and all rewards have been delivered, I'll be regularly adding circuit diagrams for connecting to, interacting with, and automating just about anything. If someone wants to re-create the wall-hanging singing fish (please don't!) they would search on the socketcircuits website for a motion sensing circuit, a voice chip circuit, and a motor driver circuit. Then simply cut and paste them onto one page, print it out, wire it up, and attach it to the fish. Long term, I'm also envisioning dozens of Arduino like "printable" modules and accessories, created and maintained by the online community, which will cover the entire spectrum of capabilities and costs. As that grows, I'll move into developing affordable sockets for surface mount components (to bring costs even lower!), and some other awesome technologies in the works, that will bring many of our ideas within reach of retail success.
Sounds great! What's the next step?
The sockets you have seen so far, were all created on a CNC mill. The design is solid and ready to go into mass production through plastic injection molding. The funds will pay for an injection mold to be made, and production of the sockets needed for backer rewards.
All kits, except for the ornament kits, come with an AAA battery case to power the circuit. Batteries are not included. The ornament is powered by a coin cell battery, so it comes with a coin cell socket and includes the coin cell battery as well.
Stretch Goals / Plans
$200,000 Purchase an industrial CNC wire cutter / stripper
This will save me from having to adapt my CNC mill for wire production, and speed up delivery time for the pre-assembled parts kits.
$350,000 Purchase an industrial injection molding machine
This would give me enough money to buy an entry-level industrial injection molding machine. In-house production would lower costs and free up funds to include bonus sockets and parts in every kit.
$500,000 Hire a partner to start the community site
I'll bring a partner on-board to start work on the interactive website for hosting community developed circuit diagrams, and eventually include web-based circuit design and layout as well.
$1,000,000 Hire a team to start work on Phase 2: "Backlit Interactive"
Backlit Interactive is the next step, where circuits will be constructed on transparent sheets over the screens of cell phones and tablets. The sockets will illuminate with colors and patterns to visually show how the part affects signals and the flow of electricity. Wire traces will animate to show voltage and current traveling through them. Sockets can be selected to learn about the part and it's role in the circuit. "Virtual Instruments" can be attached to any socket to see what the signal would look like on an oscilloscope or volt meter. The background diagram can change from SocketCircuits to conventional and back. The picture below is a very rough simulation of what Backlit Interactive might look like:
The clear sockets act as ideal light pipes, and the optical clarity also makes it possible to read information through the socket, such as voltage levels, frequencies, etc. As with the diagrams, backlit interactive will evolve through several variations before landing on the ideal way to represent useful information, and give users an entertaining and educational experience.
Risks and challenges
Each socket will need 2 to 16 clips inserted into it. I should be able to automate that using my CNC machine as a "pick and place" machine.
Wire Length & Shape:
The CNC machine can be adapted for wire production as well. Most of the wires in the diagrams are standard lengths, but cutting non-standard wires, and pre-bending wires, can be accomplished through CNC processes.
Fallback / concurrent plans:
I have several people who are ready and eager to have assembly parties to insert clips by hand. It's easy to create assembly jigs for manually loading entire rows of contacts at a time, so it may even turn out that "manual assembly" is faster than machine assembly. I'll be pursuing both methods and get rewards out to everyone with whichever method turns out to be the fastest.
If you would like to get your kit sooner, you will have the option for "self-assembly" to assemble the sockets and bend the wires yourself, with step-by-step directions. If the clips are inserted incorrectly, they can get bent out of shape, so this option is only recommended for adult assembly. Extra clips will be included. A backer survey will be sent out, after the campaign, that will give you the option to request self-assembly.
Work left to do:
• Change the strobe diagram to invert the triggering of the transistor (Did you notice the wire change in the video? :) In order to make an object appear to stop, you want a brief “light on” time and a long “light off” time. The original diagram wiring causes a long “light on” time, which makes the spinner visible too long and results in a blur effect.
• Add part values and color code symbols to the Strobe diagram.
• Create a simple “Cheat Sheet” to help beginners identify parts by their symbols, and help with troubleshooting common mistakes, like inserting a part backwards, or putting a part into the wrong holes.
• Collaborate with a science teacher to create lesson plans for the Grade 4-12 classroom kit.
• Create downloadable papercraft ornament patterns for the ornament kits
• Create a papercraft frame for "SocketBot" and add manually controlled motors for a basic proof-of-concept demo by the end of the campaign.
- (30 days)