Monthly Archives: August 2018
Recently, a client came to me because they were having difficulty getting a $150 interface, associated housing and a further custom PCB. The interface was used between the Ubuntu based controller and the hardware, except for the touch panel display. The hardware consisted of a couple of payment systems, and some dispensing mechanisms, as well as a service switch.
After doing some research, I discovered that I could cover all the required functions using an Arduino Uno and a Grove shield. This combination cost an order of magnitude less than there old design. Along with decreasing the overall cost of the Bill of Materials, the new components could be bought on an as needed basis, greatly reducing stocking expense. Also, because the Arduino Uno is so popular, it it unlikely to go out of production any time soon. Even if it does, the form factor lives on in a variety of more powerful designs.
As I like to point out, we now live in the golden age of prototyping and rapid product ramp up. This is because there is such a wealth of incredibly powerful and cheap components that are available in large quantities, usually from China. This makes it easier than ever before to lash together a prototype, and then turn this into a early production run. The early production run can then be used to validate a market and quickly cycle through user feedback iterations. This all translates in to being able to build product momentum for a market leader. Also, for me personally, it means I get to see my ideas get out into the world at breathtaking speed. For this particular example, the whole redesign, including coding, documentation and acceptance testing, only took about 80 billable hours.