Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Design & Coding

Well I've been very busy with courses as the semester is winding down. However, Im working on setting up a LAMP server (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP). LAMP is comprised of an Apache HTTP Server, MYSQL Database, and PHP. Also I got a 4-port router in the mail to connect a few prototype modules with the server, and to the internet. Programming work on the modules has slowed down a lot, but its still moving forward. The good news is that I found a blog where someone was able to setup a LAMP server to receive data from sensors through an Arduino, so thats where I'll start.

I've mostly devoted my free time in designing the IC boards for each module for mass production. Im also working on business models to see how successful I can be if I start selling my hardware as opposed to just sharing how the system is constructed. Basically, for those who are technologically saavy, they are welcome to reproduce the system using my posts, tutorials and code. For everybody else, they would probably want a ready to go system based on their needs: thats where I come in. I'll have to design and build the system so that its cheap, integrated, easy to use and simple for everyone, not just people who are technologically saavy.

Also by developing my own hardware, I dont have to worry about hardware attributing to anyone really, except those at Genesi-USA, for the server, DLink for the router, Arduino for the Uno and Wiznet for the ethernet adapter. The goal however for the IC boards is to remove the Arduino and Wiznet from the system, and integrate the Atmega32u4 and the w5100 chips to the board. This ought to reduce the bill of materials and the cost of assembly for mass produced boards.

Usually this step is taken after the system has been completely built and tested, but as that takes a considerable amount of time (which I dont have now), I'll work on what I can in the time I have.

For those who are interested, cheap (or somewhat cheap) PCB Fabrication can be done at Batch PCB (note:green boards are very cheap but contain lead) or at DorkBotpdx (note: purple boards are a little more expensive but are unleaded). PCB masks made from Mylar can be done at Pololu, made from Kapton at Ohararp and made from Steel at Rena Electronics. Solder paste can be bought at Sparkfun and stored in this Mini-Fridge. I recommend Antex Soldering Irons for manual soldering, and from what I've seen, an electric Hot Plate Reflow Skillet for SMD soldering. Id like to note, if you havent heard of Black Pad, read up more, it explains a phenomenon that occurs when the nickel plating of a pad corrodes, thus turning black.

Stay tuned for new updates.

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