I decided to name the new board Solo. As in, the chip is flying solo. The order has been processed with the manufacturer, now it's just a matter of time.
Aside from a few minor layout changes, it's exactly the same as posted in my previous entry. Once they come in I'll verify that everything's okay and get it up on http://www.bittyware.com both as kits and fully assembled boards.
On a side note, I'm also going to be assembling the remaining ZIFduino boards and offering them for the same price. The immersion silver process starts to degrade after a while, and the remaining boards are starting to show some signs of deterioration. Not enough to affect the final product, but enough to take action before it does. If there's demand, I'll be doing another run of kits after making a few tweaks. I really like the automatic power source detection of the Arduino Duemilanove and have every intention of incorporating that.
I finally got off my keister and got to the original point of designing the ZIFduino: the MegaBare board. As the name implies, it's a board with no frills, no programming headers, just the bare minimum necessary to pull the ATMega chip out of your *duino and put it in a small standalone package.
It's 2.3 inches x 1.2 inches (roughly 58 mm x 30 mm). The only functionally significant difference is the lack of a 3.3V pin. It could be smaller, but after talking to some of the people that have expressed interest, it's clear that mounting holes are more important than squeezing out those last few millimeters.
I'll be making a test board here in the next week or so, then it's off to manufacturing.
Update 11/06: Yes, I'm a farking slacker and have spent too much time setting up for this year's Halloween. I haven't found the time to get this batch ordered yet, but it's probably a good thing. I've decided it'll be safer to rename it to avoid trademark issues with Atmel. The last thing I want is to have to pull it off the market after investing in manufacturing dozens of the things.
I spent so much time setting it up, I forgot to mention it. I created a store to sell the ZIFduino at bittyware.com. Only two boards have sold so far, but I haven't advertised at all. A naked board sold to the person I assume is running the Fundamental Logic store. They make a teeny tiny version of the Arduino. Whether it's to put it to use, curiosity or checking out the competition, they never got back to me to let me know.
A full kit sold to a rocketeer who goes by Tweeks. He'll be using it for programming chips to handle telemetry and and ejection controller in his rockets. Sounds pretty damn cool. He put together a great instruction page at theweeks.org/rockets/2008-06_ZIFDUINO.
I took a good long look at the traces on the prototype, and decided it's just too ugly to unleash upon the world. I ripped up everything and did it all by hand. It looks much nicer now, and I've been able to reduce the vias to four (there used to be 45!).
You'll notice there's a change in the name. That's because there's a new board in town...
The report that was supposed to be released on the Joint Forces Command website on Wednesday afternoon was for some odd reason NOT made available. They were going to post it on line and email it to reporters, then have a background briefing with the authors. Instead, they decided they were only going to mail it on CD to those that requested it. Something about it being "too politically sensitive." I couldn't imagine why that would be.
Well, I got a copy of it, and you can get it right HERE. Being a government document released to the public, it is in the public domain. If any DMCA takedown notices are sent to my provider they are invalid, and the submitting attorney is knowingly committing perjury.
As with any type of branding, using the name Arduino or any derivative of it (like ZIFduino) on an Arduino-like project requires permission, especially if it's going to be a commercial project. I just heard back from the Arduino team, and they've given their blessing for me to use the name ZIFduino for the upcoming kits, along with some nice comments on the project in general. I was also told they have something else in the works that looks to be a pretty cool thing for the community at large, but I'll wait until they make an official announcement before saying anything. I will say that I intend to participate.
The 1.2 prototype is a big success. I've gotten some good feedback so far, and the final version should be going out for production within the next several weeks. With some minor documentation changes this thing will be finished.
As I suspected, the crystal was bad. I finally got the batch I ordered, and the board is working like a charm now. It can be programmed via USB, and all the pins are working as expected. Happy day.
When all the schools in the area are closed and the weather folks on the news say to expect upwards of 14 inches of snow between 5 am and 6 pm, wouldn't it be considered prudent to forget about your bottom line for once, think about the safety of your employees and shut your goddamned doors for the day?
I'm fairly serious when I mention I'm tempted to open my own shop. I walked into Radio Shack today and started digging around their woefully inadequate parts section when one of their staff came up and asked if they could help me find something.
Me: "Yeah, I'm looking for a 16 MHz crystal. Where would I find that?"
Them: "That's the thing that makes those radio scanners work, right? No, we don't carry that old stuff any more."
They did, however, have green LEDs for a buck fifty each. To put things in perspective, the Jameco price is currently $0.088. Eight point eight pennies. Buy a hundred and you knock off a penny each.
100 green LEDs at Radio Shack: $150
100 green LEDs at Jameco: $7.80 + probably about $5 shipping.