$25,451
pledged of $95,000pledged of $95,000 goal
48
backers
0seconds to go
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Thu, December 17 2015 4:59 AM UTC +00:00
Zippy Robotics, IncBy Zippy Robotics, Inc
First created
Zippy Robotics, IncBy Zippy Robotics, Inc
First created
$25,451
pledged of $95,000pledged of $95,000 goal
48
backers
0seconds to go
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Thu, December 17 2015 4:59 AM UTC +00:00

About

We are proud to partner with Upverter, the makers of professional EDA software. While Circuit Factory is perfect for beginners, our partnership with Upverter allows us to also cater to professional engineers who need a feature-rich tool.
We are proud to partner with Upverter, the makers of professional EDA software. While Circuit Factory is perfect for beginners, our partnership with Upverter allows us to also cater to professional engineers who need a feature-rich tool.

 Software Options at a Glance

Prometheus

Prometheus makes real circuit boards in just minutes. When we're prototyping, we need a tool that can give us nearly instant feedback - not feedback that comes in a few week's time in the form of a PCB delivery. Let the PCB manufacturers make the hundreds or thousands of boards for your production run - not your prototypes. If production is your goal, Prometheus will help get you there faster.

Design, carve, and populate your circuit board. The carving operation for this board took less than 9 minutes, using a .010" diameter square end mill. Traces are 10 mils wide.
Design, carve, and populate your circuit board. The carving operation for this board took less than 9 minutes, using a .010" diameter square end mill. Traces are 10 mils wide.

Prometheus works by carving through the copper layer of a standard copper-clad board (FR-4 or FR-1). It can be thought of as mechanically etching the board as opposed to dealing with chemicals to perform the etching. Prometheus can also drill holes and route the shape of the board itself if you need it to fit a specific enclosure.

Specs of copper suspended in mineral oil after being milled away by Prometheus. The mineral oil serves to cool and lubricate the tool and keep the copper and fiberglass dust out of the air. Alternatively, you could use a vacuum with a HEPA or ULPA filter.
Specs of copper suspended in mineral oil after being milled away by Prometheus. The mineral oil serves to cool and lubricate the tool and keep the copper and fiberglass dust out of the air. Alternatively, you could use a vacuum with a HEPA or ULPA filter.

The most unique mechanical part of Prometheus is the custom-designed spindle. This spindle's incredible specs set it apart - 45,000 RPM and a static Total Indicated Runout (TIR) of less than 2.5 microns (.0001 inches), measured 10 mm below the spindle bearing. TIR is important because it determines the minimum bit diameter we can run. Too much runout (wobble) and a micro end mill will just snap instead of milling copper as intended. Prometheus can reliably run bits as small as .007 inches in diameter, so you can use - with few exceptions - any surface mount components in your designs - not just "giant" SOIC packages. This is a major differentiator with what's available in our price class today. Our specs bring Prometheus close to the level of the other "professional grade" machines out there that cost more than $8,000 (and in some ways, Prometheus even surpasses them).

Circuit Factory Design Software

The primary purpose of PCB software is to help you create a picture of the copper layout. Making that picture with the free tools available can be painful. We need a machine that is a pleasure to use. Great software is key! We made our own software called Circuit Factory that makes designing a PCB easy so you can try your ideas out quickly, and it works seamlessly with Prometheus. 

Circuit Factory, by Zippy Robotics is circuit design software for beginners.
Circuit Factory, by Zippy Robotics is circuit design software for beginners.

No other manufacturer makes a PCB milling machine and the design software to go with it. Once you've made your design with Circuit Factory, just click carve and Prometheus will make your circuit board. 

Circuit Factory is just meant to provide another option for beginners. If you're already comfortable using other EDA software, you'll be able to import your Gerber files for carving. Gerber import software is scheduled to be release with the first batch of Prometheus machines.

Partnership with Upverter

We recommend Upverter as the professional EDA tool of choice for electrical engineers using Prometheus. We've entered into a partnership with Upverter to provide an exclusive FREE Upverter account to Prometheus users which will allow additional private projects at no extra cost.

Upverter is the leader in cloud based EDA solutions, empowering electrical engineers to design the next generation of hardware and electronics. Some of Upverter's clients are building drones, medical devices, augmented reality glasses and IoT devices. Having recently relaunched and upgraded the tool, their main focus is the addition of the Parts Concierge; the world's first virtual assistant to engineers. With the Upverter Parts Concierge now every hardware engineer has their own team of engineering assistants.

Java API for Developers

We're releasing a free Java API so that anyone who wants to write their own software for Prometheus can do so using a set of commands called ZippyTalk. That's how Circuit Factory communicates with Prometheus. It allows a software developer to control Prometheus so that they can write their own apps to make particular tasks easy. They can then give those apps away or sell them, without restriction, to the benefit of all Prometheus users. You don't have to know anything about G-code. G-code is a relic from the 70's and It's time we moved on to better things.

Custom Motor Controller

Instead of buying some off-the-shelf motor controller and integrating it into our machine (like many other companies do), We developed our own hardware and firmware around an Atmel ARM MCU. This is advantageous to our customers because we can continuously improve the firmware over time and send updates. We have some exciting plans in mind for the future of ZippyTalk.

Get Empowered

Zippy Robotics was founded to give everyone the power to make things. Empowered individuals can go from having an idea to making it a reality. Printed circuit boards is just the first area we're supporting (but not the last). If this power to make things is accessible to everyone, we believe that we will see some amazing creations. Whether they be with artistic expressions or engineering marvels, the people have the power to change the world. Prometheus can amplify everyone's abilities. Let's not only participate in the Maker Revolution - let's lead the way!

The solder mask on the board above was applied after Prometheus milled the board. It is of the "dry-film solder mask" type (search on Ebay if you're interested - they are not that easy to find elsewhere). The solder mask comes as a sheet or roll that you can apply to the board and heat press it with an office laminator. To take the mask off the pads, you need to expose everything BUT the pads to UV light. We printed out the UV-blocking mask onto transparency paper to block light from hitting the solder pads, aligned it with the board, and exposed it. Afterwards, you would place the board in a solution of sodium carbonate (you can find that in powdered form at home improvement stores - it's used to raise the pH of swimming pools and it's inexpensive) and the areas that were NOT exposed to UV dissolve into the solution. Then you have an awesome solder mask on your homemade board! Although, this turns a board that Prometheus could have made in 10 minutes (for this particular example) into an hour or two, so it's a trade-off.

Prometheus Tech Specs

Help Bring Prometheus to the World

Your pledge serves two functions. It starts the production run so that we can offer Prometheus to the world, but beyond that it starts us on our journey towards empowering everyone to be able to make anything

Building a team is a high priority. To date, Rocco has had to do all of this development on his own. We're proud of what we've accomplished but we're excited at the thought of how much faster Zippy Robotics can add value for everyone once we expand beyond one person, and add team-members dedicated to our mission. Your support today can make it happen.

Schedule

Estimated production schedule.
Estimated production schedule.

How far Prometheus Has Come

CAD model of the current Prometheus.
CAD model of the current Prometheus.

We started working on Prometheus full-time in September of 2013. Getting Circuit Factory to the current alpha state it's in took a big chunk of time. The electronics designed for Prometheus are fairly straight-forward, but the firmware was another significant undertaking. The machine itself took five prototypes until I was satisfied (or 10, if you include the virtual CAD prototypes that were never built). We always tried to put great care into thinking about the end user and their experience using Prometheus during all of my design and development. There are always things that can be improved (and we will continually strive towards making Prometheus and it's software the best that it can be), but we hope that the thoughtfulness shows through. 

We will manage assembly in-house so that we can better control the quality of the finished product. All custom parts are made in the US, and off-the-shelf parts for the latest version come from the US, Germany, Japan, and China.

Four different prototypes preceded this current version of Prometheus, which we are finally proud of.
Four different prototypes preceded this current version of Prometheus, which we are finally proud of.

A big thank you goes to the team at Atmel for all of their support, as well as Rapid Manufacturing for allowing us to film at their site. We'd also like to thank Upverter for delivering extra value to Prometheus users.

Showing Prometheus at the Atmel booth at World Maker Faire 2015 in NY
Showing Prometheus at the Atmel booth at World Maker Faire 2015 in NY

Risks and challenges

We have taken the time to get nearly everything in place before launching this campaign. We took the risk up front by delaying the launch of this campaign until we believed it was ready, to lessen the risk to our backers. We have already partnered with great manufacturers and suppliers, all of which are in the US, to have the machine's parts produced. We have a functional, fifth-generation prototype. There are just two tasks ahead before beginning the production run. One is to modify how the "bit carrier" holds the bit in place in the spindle. We don't have to add new parts for this - just modify two of them that are already being used. The purpose of this change is to make the spindle more robust by eliminating the constant-force springs that are currently being used. The other task is to finish designing the actual production PCB for Prometheus and settle on a company to produce and assemble the PCB. This is a straight-forward task and there are many companies that can do this, so we don't predict many obstacles here.

The components used in Prometheus all come from reputable companies. By keeping production and assembly local, we can personally keep an eye on things and address problems immediately, should any arise.

Another risk is the supply chain becomes disrupted, such as a supplier going out of business. For this particular project, we do not see that as much of a problem, because I have back-up companies for each of the components. So, if one supplier fails us, we're prepared to get a similar part elsewhere.

Then there is always the risk of the unknown. This is our first Kickstarter campaign and the first product we're manufacturing. The best answer we can give to this is to tell you about Zippy Robotics' founder and how far this project has already come. Rocco's background is in Physics, with a bachelor's from the University of Maryland. He worked at the Collider-Accelerator department at Brookhaven National Laboratory for 4 years before leaving to pursue this project full-time. In the past 26 months, He has designed and built 5 prototypes of Prometheus, wrote the Circuit Factory software, designed the custom machine controller electronics and written the firmware to drive it. These 3 tasks could be separate projects, but we felt that investing the time to make all three work seamlessly together would result in the best user experience, so that's what we did. We are confident that we will be able to overcome any obstacle that may arise as we work towards getting Prometheus in your hands.

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    SUPPORTER:
    Join the revolution and help our mission. As a backer, you'll have access to exclusive news, info, and updates. Thank you for your support!

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    PROMETHEUS EARLY-BIRD SPECIAL:
    Receive Prometheus. Fully assembled and ready to make circuit boards. Works with Circuit Factory, our FREE circuit design software. $700 below our estimated retail price.

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    PROMETHEUS INNOVATOR:
    Receive Prometheus. Fully assembled and ready to make circuit boards. Works with Circuit Factory, our FREE circuit design software. $500 below our estimated retail price.

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    PROMETHEUS SUPPORTER:
    Receive Prometheus. Fully assembled and ready to make circuit boards. Works with Circuit Factory, our FREE circuit design software. $400 below our estimated retail price.

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    PROMETHEUS BELIEVER:
    Receive Prometheus. Fully assembled and ready to make circuit boards. Works with Circuit Factory, our FREE circuit design software. $200 below our estimated retail price.

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Funding period

- (30 days)