Thank you. Now back to work.

To the earliest Twine backers in 2011, those of you who just discovered us and everyone in between, thank you for funding Pickup.

This relationship we have on Kickstarter is special—there aren’t a lot of arenas where you can talk directly to the product makers, and where customers are willing to put down money for something that’s in progress. So we want to take care of that relationship, and hope you will too.

We’re going to try to update you every two to four weeks, depending on the ebb and flow of work. Hardware development has a lot of waiting because of supply chains for physical things like tooling and components, with a limited pool of companies that can do that work. (Maybe we should do a book club read of Christopher Mims’ book Arriving Today.) And all engineering has a lot of tedious time spent testing and debugging that is even more tedious to read about. 

Your comments have been encouraging and enlightening, and your end of the relationship is to keep talking to us. We’ll be posing questions when we want to set development priorities or understand how people will use a feature.

Component testing

Jeremy’s been busy testing a bunch of peripherals to settle on final components and make necessary adjustments if things aren’t performing as expected. He’s currently (no electrical pun intended) working on a power consumption test of different microphones for the onboard sound level sensor. Here’s some raw data coming from a Pickup prototype board. (Keep in mind, we don’t have the bandwidth or desire to capture audio, just the noise level over time.)

He’s also been ironing out the toolchain for firmware development. Our architecture is a little complex because we have two microcontrollers splitting duties to get better battery life, so all the work Jeremy can do up front to make updates to both of those fast and reliable will pay off as Pickup’s code and feature set gets more complicated. But like I said above, this is tedious. (I’d have more photos here but Kickstarter’s giving me trouble uploading them.)

Buttons in CAD

My load has been light on fun stuff lately since I’ve been hustling for the campaign, but I’m very happy to get back to work and put on my mechanical engineer hat. (Which looks a lot like a vintage Dunkin’ Donuts baseball cap today.)

I’ve been mulling over ways to improve several little mechanical features for manufacturing, and found a button assembly that I think may have better ingress protection against dust and moisture than the one we started with. I’m laying out where it goes in CAD (computer-aided design, i.e. a 3D program) so that Jeremy can add it to his next board revision to test, and then I’m going to deal with the changes that causes in the plastic parts. Overall, I’m just working through a list of case features to refine and test with 3D prints before we finalize the CAD.

I’m excited to have gotten a good quote from an injection molding facility about an hour away from us in Texas. It’s family-owned and easy to work with so far, so this is going to allow us to iterate quickly and keep a tight rein on quality.

Kickstarter post.