DigiBadge Mini R2 – And a new shop?!

DigiBadge Mini Revision 2!

So, I’ve had some ideas for how to improve the DigiBadge Mini, but without a complete re-design. So, where the DigiBadge Mini was a re-named revision of the DigiBadge V2 (Hence the R1), the DigiBadge Mini R2 is a revision of the R1. There’s a bunch of changes, which I’ll go over below. Warning! This will get quite nerdy and in-depth! If you’re looking for the new shop information, you can just skip to the end.

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BronyCon 2018 Recap

So, a quick recap on BronyCon this past weekend.

DigiBadge sales went great! Cases went great! Arduineigns went great!

Art cards, not so much, and the lightboxes I made just didn’t sell.

Lightboxes? Oh, right! Lightboxes!

They’re EL Wire in a shadowbox, using art from Sophie Scruggs. They look awesome! But I think I completely whiffed on the price point. I have a few ideas on how to approach that, but that’s for the future.

For the Art Cards, I think that they’re a harder sell with the increased price of the DigiBadge and the fact that the case is also available. I’ve got ideas for future versions using future versions of the badge, but that’s, well, for the future.

The DigiBadge itself sold well, as did the case. It helps that I rigged up a display piece – I’m going to have to make a nicer one eventually, but I have some time before I have to have it ready for a convention.

And, of course, the Arduineighs were a hit. Helps that they’re fairly inexpensive and look cool so even non-tech people find them interesting.

For the future, I’m definitely going to be working on some new things. I’m going to be re-assessing the pricing on the lightboxes, and throwing a few more ideas at Sophie for designs to do. I’m also going to be working on a larger version of the DigiBadge, now that I’ve got the Mini working nicely and up to good standards. I’m considering running a kickstarter for that larger version as well, since I simply can’t afford another mistake like what happened last time. More testing! More communication! I’ve learned a lot, and will be applying it fully to the new version.

As always, you can catch me on Twitter, Discord, and/or Facebook.

As Seen on Show and Tell: DigiBadge Mini!

I’m going to start out with a little bit of explanation. Every Wednesday, Adafruit has a live Show and Tell stream (Their YouTube channel has past ones here) at 7:30pm US Eastern time. After moving a lot of stuff around and getting everything in order, I finally had a decent setup for joining said stream last week. So, of course, I showed off the DigiBadge and managed to perform not terribly. Given my general dislike of cameras, I think I performed adequately.

I was e-mailed some “As Seen on Show & Tell” images to put on the badge, and took the opportunity to take some not-great-but-not-awful pictures. Enjoy!

As Seen on Show & Tell!
One of the Show & Tell ‘Stickers’
Eat your greens! But this one probably isn't that healthy for you.
The original Green Color Communication Badge – For when you’re feeling extra social! These badges inspired the DigiBadge in the first place, and were designed by ASAN.
If you don't want flags on the DigiBadge, I quite honestly don't care.
I LOVE inclusivity. So the DigiBadges include Pride flags as well. Not just the LGBT+ one shown, but the Bi, Trans, Pan, Ace, N/B, and Agender flags. The others simply didn’t look good in the pictures I took.
30628 out of 30720 bytes used as of this writing.
The main menu! Honestly, I never thought this would fit on an ATMega328p, but it does. Barely.
For more info visit.. oh, wait.
One of the menu options is “Badge Info” which will show the current settings, along with basic info on the DigiBadge
The name might be only *slightly* XCOM inspired.
A DigiBadge showing Firebrand the Phoenix, mascot and icon of Phoenixborn Technologies.
Red like a tomato! Unlike a tomato, do not smash the DigiBadge for pasta sauce.
The original Red Color Communication Badge, for when you want to be left alone
I've heard people go bananas over a good yellow color.
The original Yellow Color Communication Badge – For when you want to be social on your terms.

I need to break out the good camera and take some nicer pictures, but then I’ll be able to set up the page I’ve been meaning to do for a while now. For now, though, I’ve made an update to the GitHub Page‘s README file for basic instructions.

East Coast Rep Rap Festival, 2018

Well, this was an unplanned convention for me, but it was pretty cool anyway.

Two days ago, Amie DD made a post on twitter about being in Baltimore for ERRF2018. I make a bad crab joke, and don’t really think much about it, expecting it to be a big convention in Baltimore.

Yesterday morning, I actually look into the convention. It’s the inaugural East Coast Rep Rap Festival (You can visit their website here), and it’s being held at the community college that’s between where I live and my day job. And I somehow had off on my day job today. So I bought a ticket and headed down.

The convention was quite small – It fit into a sports arena, and only took up most of the space, but what I saw was great. There were a great many people there, from cosplay prop printers to big manufacturers and everything in between.

Some highlights:

  • Amie DD (Website) (Twitter) As mentioned above, she’s the whole reason I even found this convention. She does a lot of nerdery – Cosplay, LEGO, 3D printing, IoT, software development… I’d have to dedicate an entire article to capture everything.
  • GreyBeard3D (Website) (Twitter) This guy is doing an amazing thing – Acquiring as many filaments as he can and printing the same print with them, and documenting the results. Seriously, take a look at his website. It’s a great resource to see how specific filaments actually work and look, and he gives what settings he used too. Not just temperature, but retraction, speed, etc. An amazing resource, and it really needs to be out there more.
  • 3D Gloop! (Website) (Twitter) These guys have a really neat product. Not only does it glue things together, it does so extremely well. They had a demo piece that was holding two 25-pound weights up, no problem. Of special note is that they’re currently running a Kickstarter – And after talking to one of them for a while, I can tell they have their stuff together and as long as they get the money, they’ll have everything well in hand. They have contracts for production, have done some test runs, have labeling and packaging down, know how to ship it, so literally all that they need is the funding. And it’s not even that much.
  • Central Pennsylvania Open Source Conference (Website) (Twitter) The name is a good description. They’re a conference for Open Source things, and this year it’s on December 1st in Lancaster, PA. They’re looking for speakers, and they have a program to help out first time conference speakers, so if you’ve ever been interested in doing that, here’s your chance. They also had a nice “Open Source” activity in the shape of a Star Wars puzzle, where people could just walk up and put pieces together.
  • E-Nable (Website) These folks are some of the best people. They’re taking 3D printing and making prosthetics with them. From Captain America arms for kids to simple hands for adults, they’ve done everything. The change they can enact with a simple device – At a fraction of the cost of traditional ones – is amazing.
  • GekoTek Build Surfaces (Website) GekoTek has a different type of build surface than most, and I honestly couldn’t tell you precisely what it is (That’s why I linked their website). But the chat I had, and the examples they showed me, were really impressive. It’s super smooth, and quite grippy – One of the examples was a single layer of PETG – and they have two types. One for unheated build plates, and one for heated. What’s really cool about the one for heated build plates is that it’s adhesion is terrible at room temperature. So once the print is done and the bed cools down, it pops right off. Their claim is 100 prints or 6 months of use, but realistically it’s going to be more. The rep I was talking to said they got something like 200 prints out of one. They seem to work really well, and they have good adhesion but also a good release. Sometimes having good adhesion can be a bad thing if you can’t get the print off the bed.

I’m sure I’m missing tons of things. Prusia was there. BuildTak was there. OSHPark was there. There was a super tiny 3D printer there. It was great.

However.

It wasn’t perfect. For a first year convention, it was Amazing but there are, of course, improvements.

First and foremost, there wasn’t much to keep me there for more than a few hours – Let alone come back for a second day. There was a single stage for talks, so if a talk wasn’t interesting, there was just a floor to walk. And while there were plenty of people, it’s not something you can just walk for the whole day. There was also an issue with the space – Being a sports arena, when the announcing system was made, it drowned out everything.

My thoughts, as an attendee, are pretty simple – There was extra room in the exhibitor hall. A bunch of it. Instead of having dead space, a smaller exhibitor area would be good, and using the extra spaces for another stage or two for talks would be great. Maybe even a few talks or panels where things are a little more interactive and fun. There was a 3D printed derby there, which was cool – Perhaps move it to the second day, and have some designers on hand to help kids design a derby car, and then have the printers right there to print it for the next day.

I will close out with a positive, though. I went to a 3D printing expo in New York City a few years ago, and it was a well put together and fancy one. I preferred this one, since it was less stuffy salesmen trying to sell you their stuff and more of a community thing of people doing cool stuff and wanting to show it off. So long as it comes back next year, so will I.

GitHub, GitHub, GitHub!

Hello again!

I remembered that this website is a thing and that I really should update it.

If you follow my personal account on Twitter (@AndonRT) then, between the bad puns, tech stuff, pride RTs, RTs of friends’ vendor stuff, and this really cool video on early mechanical targeting computers, you’ll have seen that I’ve done a serious amount of updating on the DigiBadge Mini GitHub Page. I’ll sum up everything here:

  • Flash memory storage is fully working! This means that even after hard power loss (Batteries removed and no external power source), the device will boot back to where you left it.
  • An update to the Arduino SD library makes hot-plugging SD cards possible! The device will automatically adjust for when the SD card is inserted and removed.
  • A menu system! Select exactly what you want, when you want it!
    • This also allows settings for both brightness and slideshow speed
  • More flags! The Agender and Nonbinary Pride flags have been added as well.

The most recent update, 1.2b, adds the last two flags and can be found here. It requires the Arduino IDE and the included libraries.

I am going to be adding a “DigiBadge Mini” page to the site, which will have detailed info on updating the firmware, how everything works, and pictures! This may take a bit, but it’ll be coming. Feel free to prod me on Twitter, Facebook, and/or Discord to make it move faster.

Post-BABSCon Update

What, do you think I’d be original with my titles?

BABSCon did well, I sold a bunch of things, met a bunch of people, and didn’t have to yell at anyone. The weather was fantastic, especially compared to Maryland, and I had a great time with friends.

So. What’s next?

First up is that I have to continue working on re-chipping the badges. I didn’t get them all re-chipped before BABSCon, and there are a few with other issues as well. It seems that the hot air causes issues with the style of buttons I’m using, so I have to remove and replace those, too.

Beyond that, I have uploaded the code and PCB files to GitHub. You can find them here: https://github.com/PhoenixbornTech/DigiBadge_Mini – I’ll be updating this as I, well, update the code. The first order of business there is to get all the parts working, followed by getting the menu system implemented. Only after those are done will the work on the R2 PCB revision begin.

I will also be working on getting pictures of the Mini, the Mini Case, and the Arduineigh posted on appropriate pages. And, in general, I’m going to try and be better about posting things on here, as well.

Pre-BABSCON Update

I’m not dead, I swear! I just haven’t really been doing much of note. That, however, has changed.

First up, let’s talk conventions – Or, more specifically, BABSCON. A few days ago, BABS released their vendor hall layout. A few hours later, they updated it to correct a handful of mistakes in it. As I have mentioned many, many times before – Nothing is ever perfect the first time. I didn’t want to post immediately for this very reason. With some time having elapsed, however, things shouldn’t be changing now. So, here’s the map! I’ll be at H11, and Sophie (You should be familiar with her by now) will be at H10. Sophie and I will be covering each others’ booths when needed,

In preparation for BABS, I’m working on replacing the microcontrollers for the DigiBadges and otherwise preparing them. I accomplished the removal of the battery packs today, as the hot air just melts them and they’re a bit in the way even without that issue. On Wednesday I’ll be starting the next step, which is removing all of the ATMega328s in preparation for replacing them with ATMega328Ps. This whole issue is almost certainly the most annoying typo I have ever made. Once the 328Ps are on, I’ll be replacing the battery packs and then soldering on the screens.

I am also going to ask everyone who stops by my booth for a small courtesy. While I love hearing about electronics projects, gadgets, and the like, a convention’s vendor hall is not a good location for such conversations. Unless you’re going to buy something, don’t spend much time in front of anyone’s booth – Not only does this harm the sales of whoever it is you’re talking to by blocking others from viewing their booth, it causes traffic issues and can also cause issues with neighboring booths. If you want to talk, you can always find me on Discord (No convention necessary), and I’ll even be able to chat there while at the booth. And then you won’t be blocking anyone and causing a fuss.

See you in San Francisco!

The Online Shop has been Disabled

I’ll put it simply: Realistically, I do not have the time to run a web store.

Not, at least, to the quality and acceptability that is expected from such an online establishment. My day job is full time, and my work there often leaves me no time to visit a post office either before or after work. It’s also a physically active job, and I need to be able to spend some time and relax on my days off. I can’t spend that time worrying about rushing things out the door.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be putting up product pages for things that Phoenixborn makes, along with new pictures and updates on items. These pages will have prices, but the “ease” of an online storefront will not be available. I’ll be treating Phoenixborn like what it actually is: A manufacturer. I’ll be looking in to places that can be re-sellers, and when they become available I will add a re-sellers page with links to where you can easily purchase Phoenixborn items.

I also plan on selling at fewer conventions. 2017 was not a good year, and I ended up spending a huge chunk of money. Conventions are expensive, and Phoenixborn does not make the money needed to hop across the country on a regular basis. Going to any new convention is a big “Maybe” in the first place, and the costs associated with it are high, especially for electronics. As with online sales, I’m going to be looking into re-sellers (And some of them might even be the same!), and will ensure to communicate when and where things will be available.

If this sounds like a massive scaling back of Phoenixborn, that’s largely because it is. Last year I overcommitted myself and I’m still recovering from it. If Phoenixborn gets to a point where it’s making enough money to be self-sustaining, I might revisit these things. On the other hand, I may already have a bunch of resellers and not need to put up an online shop of my own.

For the time being, if you’re looking to purchase anything, send an e-mail to sales [at] pbtech.biz – I’ll get back to you on cost, estimated time frame, and the like.

An Update on the Shop (And Other Things)

So, long story short: I didn’t get the pictures I wanted done in November.

Without going into too much complaining, my day job is in a bakery, and it’s the Holiday season. And everybody wants food around the holidays. I’ve been busy and/or exhausted and also a little bit of sick.

My new goal is to have the store revamped by the end of the first week of January. That’s when things slow down a bit, so I should be able to get the time between now and then and get things done.

Additionally, I bought a small 3D printer and have been using that quite a bit over the past few days, and I think I’ve done a decent job of the beginnings of a turret mechanism for the TankBot I’m working on. Take a look:

And last, but certainly not least: Sophie, who did our wonderful logo, is running a sale on prints. It goes from now until Sunday. Her stuff is great, and it is definitely my opinion that you should buy some:

Time for Plan B!

Shipping is expensive.

Or, more accurately, shipping a 7+kg box all the way to China is absurdly expensive, especially if you don’t have any sort of account. How expensive? Well, it’d be about $500. Just for shipping. And then there’s things like customs, and that doesn’t involve shipping anything back to me.

My primary reason for wanting to ship them was because I didn’t have the tools necessary to do the PCB Surgery. But rather than spending $500 on shipping, I can spend significantly less than that on a hot air reflow station.

I haven’t used it yet (It’s still sitting on my table in its box…), but I have the next two days off from my job and I intend to put them to good use. While I don’t expect to get to any of the re-soldering of the broked boards, I do have some other boards that I’ll be able to experiment on and get things down properly.

If you don’t hear back from me, I’ve probably managed to burn myself with this thing.