The first batch of prototypes for beta testers is almost ready to ship. The pretty picture below shows how I turned all of those circuit boards and components to working, programmed, and tested prototype BlueFlyVarios. The only components missing from this picture are the case (which is a small TicTac box) and the battery. Unfortunately, my shipment of batteries from China went missing. A replacement shipment is supposedly on the way. Perhaps they will be here when I get back from vacation in a few weeks. If they are here, I expect to start shipping these prototypes around 11 Oct.
With a bit of practice I reckon I could assemble, program and test a batch of ten of these prototypes in about two hours in my home setup. This batch probably took me three times as long as that, on average about 35 minutes for each one. It is a bit finicky to get the right amount of solder paste around the SSOP pins of the PIC micro and for most of the prototypes there was a bit of touch up work. Programming the micro and configuring the settings on the RN-42 also takes a bit of work.
The cost of these prototypes works out to A$60 (plus shipping), which is how much the components cost me and a little more to cover consumables. Shipping will be A$10 within Australia or A$15 internationally (if you want tracked postage this will cost more). As I write this blog there are still a few of the prototypes that have not been promised to beta testers. If you want one contact me via http://www.alistairdickie.com/home/index.php?option=com_contact&task=view&contact_id=1&Itemid=29
How to use the hardware
If you get one of these prototypes some important stuff you need to know:
- Turn it on and you should see the blue light flashing. Pair it with your Android device using the code 1234. Open the BlueFlyVario app and press Menu|Connect device.
- Ignore the flashing green light, it is left over from some hardware debugging.
- A full battery lasts 17 hours. Plug in a mini-USB connector to charge it. The red light goes on. When it goes off the BlueFlyVario battery is fully charged.
- The USB connector does nothing other than charge the battery. The data pins are not connected to anything.
Once these prototypes are in the wild I will consider if I go down the path of making more of the same or redesigning the board and getting a different case.