Our vision is a world where everyone has practical skills in computer programming and electrical engineering. Giving every human being the capability to design technological solutions to their own problems creates a better world for all of us. That's why we created BreadBro.
BreadBro is a development board specifically designed for STEM Educators and Aspiring Makers. It's compatible with the Arduino IDE software and Scratch graphical programming language, so anyone new to programming will have no problem learning the basics. BreadBro also includes a critical electrical engineering tool – a solderless breadboard - for building prototype circuits easily and safely.
At BreadBro, we believe that every student on the planet deserves to be exposed to real STEM topics as part of their education. Kids are smart; they can build real projects, on real platforms, and develop real ideas. Giving students the ability to create technology will not only improve their education, it will empower them to make their world a better place.
We developed BreadBro after realizing a crucial fact: the Arduino platform, while incredibly useful, is not perfectly suited to students, novices, and other people with no experience developing technology.
Even with the huge amount of resources available, people still come to the open hardware community with the same questions. Clearly, something is not connecting – basic errors are holding people back from building what they want to build. This initial frustration can be enough to permanently change a novice's attitude, even discourage their enthusiasm altogether.
Electrical Engineering students learn about circuits on a practical medium – the solderless breadboard. Breadboards allow for temporary circuit connections to be made so that students can learn what works, why, and how. Solderless breadboards have become ubiquitous in the Open Hardware community as well, enabling complex projects to be quickly prototyped.
We decided to combine the utility of the solderless breadboard and the resources of the Arduino community in a single platform. We went through many iterations before we realized that the key was not to simply pair the Arduino and breadboard on a mount – it was to merge them into a integrated platform. These early efforts led us to the design that you see today in BreadBro.
It's not enough to simply redesign common Open Hardware tools. We want to get the Open Hardware community's resources into the hands of educators everywhere. That's why, for every ten BreadBros that are ever sold, one complete kit will be donated to a school.
Our vision is a world where every single student is exposed to practical STEM skills as part of their education.
BreadBro was designed from the ground up to be the ideal development board for educators. We've combined an innovative curriculum with custom hardware to ensure that any educator, with any experience level, can teach practical STEM skills.
A bare breadboard has hundreds of holes, and only some of them are “correct” for any project. The BreadBro Learning System incorporates full color Instructional Guide Cards that are placed on top of the breadboard and provide precise guidance for component placement. Beginners can be confident in their connections and educators can be sure their students' projects will be safe.
BreadBro incorporates many other features that educators will find helpful. Four rubber feet prevent damage to the development board on any work surface, and secure BreadBro to the work area. Four user-controlled LEDs are provided, allowing for simple projects like “Simon Says”, as well as advanced projects such as teaching 4-bit binary math. Additionally, two USB ports (USB Mini-B and Micro-B) provide a backup plan for when a cable goes missing or only one type is available. Finally, an available starter kit provides all the components any student or beginner could need as they take their first steps in open hardware.
Although the Arduino platform made simple electronics accessible to everyone, a certain amount of knowledge about technology is a prerequisite, even for beginners. BreadBro assumes that if you're getting started with the Open Hardware world, you might not know a volt from an amp from an ohm – but you probably have an awesome idea that you want to explore and develop.
BreadBro makes it easy for everyone to learn the fundamentals of electronic design and computer programming, even if you've never built or programmed anything before. An easy-to-use online curriculum provides all the guidance you need to go from building simple circuits to designing complex electronics applications. If you would like to know more, we provide links to useful resources and videos to help you understand why your latest project works the way it does.
Instructional Guide Cards, placed on top of the breadboard, take the confusion out of your first hardware setups. They also help you understand how a breadboard works, how to read circuit schematics, and how the schematic and the breadboard are related. This empowers you to understand the resources available in the open hardware community.
With a small form factor and an onboard battery, you're able to take your projects mobile and start exploring your world with technology. A power switch and a battery kill switch ensure that your projects are safe to move around. Four LEDs provide built-in output for sensors, program functions, or debugging.
We know that many open hardware enthusiasts already have a breadboard setup that they like. Even though your existing prototyping platform may be exactly what you need, BreadBro can still be a useful addition to your bench.
BreadBro's small, integrated form factor lends itself to easily testing out a sensor, figuring out a button arrangement, or learning how to use a new breakout board. Multiple BreadBros can be used to easily develop wireless sensor networks, without having to worry about a power supply.
By building in a battery, charge controller, and step-up voltage regulator, BreadBro is capable of short or long periods of autonomous use. With the included battery, BreadBro can run for several hours, depending on the project. If you need more battery lifetime, simply swap the included LiPo battery for a larger one, and you're ready for extended autonomous use. An included battery kill switch allow you to disconnect the battery from all features except charging, to ensure an extended storage lifetime.
BreadBro has a total of 11 onboard LEDs, and while they're great on a board for beginners, advanced users just don't need all of them all the time. 8 solder jumpers are provided to allow you to decide when to use the LEDs you need.
BreadBro's form factor and sleek design make it an excellent choice for prototyping on-the-go. It's small, it's cool, and it fits in any work area.
Hardware is hard. Hidden costs and surprise problems pop up when you least expect them. We're designing two separate manufacturing strategies - one for high volume production, and one for low volume production. Having major redundancy in our manufacturing strategy means that we can be very confident in our production timeline. We will be shipping the first BreadBros no later than August 1st, 2016.
After we reach our goal on Kickstarter, we'll immediately begin our final design review. Once we receive funds, we anticipate placing orders with our manufacturers almost immediately, but we're building in a month-long buffer. While we're waiting for parts during the manufacturer lead time, we'll be focusing on designing and producing the instructional cards, lesson plans, and online curriculum. We anticipate beginning final assembly in July, and shipping no later than August.
BreadBro is ready for production. We have quotes from our suppliers. We've selected our PCB manufacturers. We have assembly strategies for both very low and very high volume production runs. When we pull the trigger, we hope to encounter as few obstacles as possible.
During and after the campaign, we're committed providing daily updates to our backers as well as weekly blog posts and videos. This way you can see what kind of progress we're making and learn something about the manufacturing process.
We're launching this Kickstarter to help validate our market and get an estimate on how many BreadBros we should build.
Risks and challenges
As with any hardware startup, BreadBro faces some risks. One risk that we may face is delays in the manufacturing process.
We have mitigated this risk by developing two manufacturing strategies. In a low-volume production run, we plan to assemble BreadBro PCBs through reflow soldering. Using this technique, we have already demonstrated a turnaround time of less than four weeks from orders being placed to production beginning. For higher volume runs, we intend to use PCBA assembly. If we ever anticipate significant delays in the PCBA process, we can fall back to local assembly without missing a beat.
Another risk that BreadBro may face is in logistics scaling.
We are actively identifying and quantifying any risk factors that may present themselves as we scale, particularly in labor and logistics. For example, domestic (US) shipping isn't an afterthought - it's built into our cost model before we ever determine a price. The same goes for labor, donations, facilities, and equipment - BreadBro is sustainable on all scales.
Thanks for your interest in BreadBro. With your help, we can accelerate the adoption of Open Hardware in the classroom. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and our website, BreadBro.comLearn about accountability on Kickstarter
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