Pouring concrete

Hi—I wanted to post an update earlier but holidays slowed things down.

We’re in the thick of measuring out and laying down the foundation— the final hardware designs that will get produced. This is some of our most critical work, as it will be costly to unwind. It’s a fiendishly complicated multi-dimensional puzzle to balance power consumption, durability, features, manufacturability and cost—across electrical and mechanical parts. But like any good puzzle, it’s satisfying when it comes together.

PCB layout

Pickup v4 routing

If this isn’t the final board design, it’s really close. Jeremy ordered prototype boards last week. 🎉 

Visual note of a dimensional change

He’s put in a lot of work rearranging things from the last board. Within our big puzzle are more traditionally puzzle-like challenges like fitting the PCB, case and sensor cartridges together. I’ve been demanding a millimeter subtracted here or there for a better fit, and Jeremy’s been adding footprints to test multiple options for a few components before we lock down purchases.

Mechanicals

Prints of button interface

I’m still printing parts to dial in the fit on important interfaces, which will need to wait for prototype boards to really put through the paces. 

I’ve been fussing over weatherability. In addition to impact resistance, the case’s plastic needs to withstand relentless sun—it’s amazing how much damage those tiny photons can do after traveling 93 million miles. Some plastics are better at this than others, but for assurance, we’ll be adding a UV stabilizer to the mix.

comprehensive BOM chart

Lastly, now that we’ve got a quantity to manufacture, we’re doing a comprehensive review of our BOM (Bill of Materials, i.e. every last part that goes into Pickup and the cartridges, from the case to the speck-sized resistors) to make sure we know what we need to make/buy and when. You’d be surprised, but with the just-in-time philosophy that most manufacturers run on, even an order of a few thousand might deplete the world’s stocks of some random component. As we identify unknowns, we’re reaching out to suppliers to make them knowns so we don’t get surprised by long lead times. But so far, everything’s in stock.

Reading list

Physical book "The Lost Cause" by Cory Doctorow

Shoutout to a favorite writer of ours, Cory Doctorow, an Electronic Frontier Foundation advisor who’s relentless in both diagnosing problems in the tech industry, and offering solutions. He’s not just a prolific blogger, he’s a prolific sci-fi novelist. Doctorow just finished a Kickstarter for an audiobook version of The Lost Cause, an optimistic near-future novel about climate disaster. Follow his blog so you too can become radicalized about ownership of our devices and data.

Back in a few weeks with photos of those boards and more tangible stuff!

Kickstarter post.