Manufactured PCB and Media Events
During the last week and a half, I've made the next large step towards manufacturing the retail-ready Keyglove. Specifically, I finished the initial draft design for the extremely compact controller card that will ultimately replace the big ugly thing I have on the back of my prototype glove right now, and I sent that design in for fabrication. I'm sure there will be revisions, but it's a great milestone for the project.
Along with that, I ordered all of the components necessary to build the boards myself, and they have nearly all showed up already. (The actual board is the bottleneck in this part of the process, since it's completely custom and coming from a Chinese PCB fabrication facility.) I have tried to minimize the number of unique part sources, but I still had to place orders with Mouser, Digikey, InvenSense, and Precision Microdrives (which is based in the UK). Fortunately, all but the InvenSense order have arrived already. The photo below shows the large sets of brand-new parts from these orders, and their very presence on my desk is incredibly exciting to me even though I can't do anything with them until I get my hands on the actual boards.
Another fun prospect is the build process. Some of the parts on this board are less than 1/8 inch long and 1/16 inch wide. Some of the pins on the integrated circuits are less than half a millimeter thick. It's truly astonishing how tiny these parts are. Of course, eventually, these will be assembled in large quantities by machine, but in this stage of the process, I'm doing it all by hand. This involves solder paste, a solder stencil, a hot plate, and a lot of precision and patience. I ordered a three sets of everything in anticipation of mistakes, but we'll see if I am able to build one flawlessly on the first try. This assumes that my design is perfect as well, which it may not be. I tried to be thorough, since I want to finish this quickly just as much as you all do. Rest assured that the build process will be documented and recorded on video for your viewing pleasure. As soon as I have something working well, I'll start making arrangements to get a thousand of them or so made. That might be a little while though.
A quick update on the Kickstarter money situation: of everyone who pledged, only two had permanent payment errors, so the final available total is nearly as much as it possibly could have been. After Kickstarter's 5% fee and Amazon's variable fee, the grand total I have to work with is $11,397.89 (which is about 8.6% in all fees taken off the full total). I sent out backer surveys to all of the backers about a week and a half ago, and only 16 people haven't responded so far. I'll be fulfilling some of the preliminary rewards very soon, including the Twitter mentions and mailed thank-you letters.
Some exciting news for those of you who haven't heard yet: the Keyglove will be featured on an upcoming History Channel show! This has been a possibility for a while, but it was not guaranteed until recently. Filming will take place sometime within the next month or so, and the show will air a few months after that. I'll be sure to let you all know exactly when to watch, if you're interested.
I've also been invited to exhibit at the NextGen Science Fair in San Francisco on June 19, 2011. As of earlier today, I'm officially in for that as well, so if you happen to be in SF in mid-June, stop by the fair in the Fleet Room at the Fort Mason Center between 10am and 5pm--I'll be there! It looks like an excellent opportunity. Check out http://www.nextgensciencefair.com for more information about the fair
As always, there is a very large quantity of stuff going on right at this moment, but I'm trying to juggle it all efficiently so that I keep making process without really sacrificing any critical relationships or previous obligations. It is, as always, a very exciting time. Watch for more news!