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.

New Month, New Things – Introducing Bounties!

Greetings, everyone!

It’s a new month today, and while my ears and sinuses may still be infected after my trip to Texas, I can still type (As an aside: Nose sprays suck. Leave an AWFUL taste in the back of your throat. Will be happy to be full and alive again). So, you get this “Beginning of the month and what I plan to do” thing.

It’s something I just came up with, but whatever.

The general overview for the month is pretty simple:

  • Get the Web Store 100% up and running
  • Send DigiBadge Minis back for fixing.
  • Post bounties (See below for details)

That’s it. Three goals. Let’s go over them so you know what I’m talking about.

Web Store

For the Web Store, I basically need to take and update pictures of things. There are a few things I need to acquire beforehand, so the goal is to have everything working between mid-month and end-of-month. To be clear, I am making zero guarantees about stock – This is just getting everything functional so that when I have stock, it can be sold.

Once the Web Store is up and running, expect New Product posts to start popping up. I have a number of things in the works, but I will be rationing them out so I can spend time and make sure they’re working properly. My goal is to have 1-2 New Products Monthly so it will be a mid-month post of new things.

Fixing the DigiBadge Minis

So, for those of you that haven’t seen: The DigiBadge Minis are borked. In short, they had an ATMega328 put on them, when they should have had an ATMega328P. Not MUCH of a difference, except it makes them not work. The Non-P 328 has issues with not having a crystal – Many things I read said it simply wouldn’t work. Guess what? The DigiBadge Mini doesn’t have a crystal!

But wait! There’s more!

The biggest issue with them is the methodology which people used to set the fuses on them in the first place. They used “High-Voltage” Programmers which ran 12V through the chips. This is high enough that it forces the fuses to set how they want them to set, although there were still the mentioned issues with the crystals. This is great! Except it would fry the SPI flash that’s on the DigiBadge Minis.

So how am I fixing them? In short: I’m not! I’m going to send them back to the PCB house in China. There, they’ll pull the 328s off, put the 328Ps on, and also add on the LCD Screens. I had sourced those screens separately, as they couldn’t find them. Also, as I am sourcing the 328Ps, I’ll be able to put the bootloader on before sending them out. Programming 250 of them will be super tedious, but I’ll be able to weed out any bad ones while I’m at it.


So, you know what a bounty is, right? Someone asks you to do the thing, you do the thing, and they pay you for doing the thing. In this reference, the “Thing” is generally going to be coding. Because I, in general, don’t like it. I do have some stipulations on things I will bounty, and I will not take requests for bounties. I’m currently debating on allowing others to put up bounties on the bounty board, and how I would handle that, but at the moment it’s just Phoenixborn bounties.

How will bounties work? Well, here’s a handy dandy list:

  • Bounties will be posted on the Bounties Board (This page!), and mentioned in relevant blog posts.
  • Bounties will be for open-source only. They will be usable by everyone, for free, and while they may be inspired by specific hardware or software, they shouldn’t be limited to only that hardware.
  • Bounties will not be re-sold. IE, I won’t take the Bounty Hunter’s work, repackage it, and sell it as a Phoenixborn product. It may be used or modified to be used in a Phoenixborn product.
  • Bounties will not be limited to Phoenixborn code. I might put a bounty on an issue that’s open on an Adafruit code base, or even someone’s personal code base.
  • Bounties must be claimed. While I don’t expect a giant number of bounties (That’d be a lot of money!), I still won’t be keeping a super-active eye on them.
  • Bounties can only be claimed upon completion and verifying that all goals are met.
  • Bounties have specific requirements to be claimed. These will, of course, vary between bounties, and some may be optional (Perhaps for a higher payout). These requirements will be checked when a bounty is claimed
  • Bounty requirements can be changed at any time, including after a claim has been submitted.
  • Bounty claims can be rejected even if they technically fit all requirements. If the requirement is to display a BMP in 1 second on a 320×240 screen, and someone makes code that will work within the time frame on one image but on many others it takes 2 or 3 second or whatever, then it will be rejected. The spirit of the bounty matters.
  • Bounties may have expiration dates.

For more information, you can take a look at the Bounties page.

The current open bounties are:

  • Expanding the Adafruit CircuitPython RGB Library ($25-$40)
  • Build a CircuitPython JPEG Decoder ($50-$75)

Post-Nightmare Nights Wrap-Up

Nightmare Nights has come to an end, both for this year and for good. While it’s sad to see it go, and I only vended for two years, I’ve had some wonderful memories made in my short time here.

Last year was great, selling DigiBadges and being nerdy with people.

This year was also great, mostly because disaster was, for the most part, averted thanks to the power of wonderful people.

Having disaster strike due to a typo is…. annoying to say the least, especially when that disaster is a few thousand dollars worth of disaster. Compounding this is the fact that it was the second con in a row that things went wrong with.

That’s really annoying.

However, this convention went so much better than BronyCon. How? Well, for one, I actually had things to sell – more than a handful of Arduineigh boards.

Sophie Scruggs (Visit her website. Buy her stuff!) sent me a ton of prints that she had for me to sell, and MintShard (Who hangs out in Discord) sent me a bunch of Arduineigh boards and kits to sell. While, of course, they got their own share in the sales of their own products, between the two of them I was almost able to break even. While I won’t go into finances and exacts, it’s less money than I would have spent had I visited this con non-vending. That is, of course, conveniently leaving out the not-insignificant cost of the DigiBadge Mini mishap, but those will be saleable elsewhere once they’re fixed.

Speaking of which: The DigiBadge Minis can be fixed! But wait, there’s more!

I discussed the issues with the PCB house, and the solution is fantastic but time consuming. What’s going to happen is I will acquire the 328P microcontrollers (Instead of the 328 ones that are on there now), which I will then burn the proper fuses and bootloaders onto. Then I will package those, the problematic DigiBadge Minis, and the screens for the DigiBadge Minis, and ship them back to the PCB House. They will take care of replacing the microcontrollers, along with placing the screens onto the devices, and then send them back to me. It is time consuming, but it’ll be easier and quicker than trying to replace 250 microcontrollers myself. Additionally, I’ll be spared the frustration of putting the screens on myself.

And in further news, I’m discussing options with MintShard for licensing the Arduineighs. What does this mean? With Phoenixborn in charge of production, I can leverage the fact that I’m already having things produced that use some of the same components and save on purchase cost, while also making it easier for me to acquire whatever stock I may need. For MintShard, it means that he has more time to spend on other projects while I send him money for making/selling his stuff. We’re already working on a Neat Design for something new, but that’s Top Secret and we’ve only talked about some conceptual ideas for it as of yet.

The idea has also been brought up for Sophie to sell DigiBadges at conventions she goes to that Phoenixborn is not at, but again – That’s super early and I’m not going to give details that are likely to change and/or are irrelevant and not needed for you to know.

There have been stumbling blocks, but the future looks quite bright! I look forward to seeing what happens, and I hope to have many more bright things to share with you all.

If you want to chat with me, you can find me on Twitter, Facebook, and Discord. Just give it a few hours, though, because it’s 1AM and I’m going to sleep.

Unfortunate News! Doom and Gloom (Mostly delays and probably a typo)

Let’s be short about this: Bad Things happened.

The DigiBadge Minis came with the ATMega328 chip on them, instead of the ATMega328P. Despite several hours of working with them (And one board being sacrificed), I could not manage to get the chips to load bootloaders.

This means I won’t have the DigiBadges for this weekend. This, combined with a number of other things – Myself being sick at the moment one of them – means I won’t be vending at Nightmare Nights this weekend. I will, however, still be in attendance. There’s too much non-refundable money spent to not go.

I have also cancelled the scheduled appearance at RetroGameCon in November. Due to the very short timeframe between the two conventions, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get enough finished before the event, and wanted to err on the safe side.

On the plus side! It looks like I will be able to fix these. Unlike the V3s, this is the only issue with them, so a hot air rework station plus a lot of patience and some of the 328P chips (Of which I have a bunch) I should be able to fix them, or at least most. It depends on how well I can solder.

I’ll keep everyone updated as things happen. For now, though, I need my sleep. Being sick just sucks, and I’d certainly like to be “better” by the weekend.

That’s right! We DO live!

What, did you think we died?

No, we’re harder to kill than that. I’ve just been busy and haven’t updated the website in far too long. I’ll give you the short version, and then the long version. So, here we go with the short version.

I’ve largely been waiting on the Minis to assemble and ship, and they’re mostly there. I have slacked a little on the code end of things, so I need to get by butt in gear and write working code for the Minis. I did sort of break my prototype by frying the SPI flash, but I’ll be able to do everything else before the other Minis get here. Outside of that, I’ve begun fiddling with Adafruit’s Circuit Python and M0 boards. It’s definitely made me want to design the larger DigiBadge around an M0 microcontroller. While CircuitPython doesn’t do graphics well yet, the M0 runs Arduino just fine. And CP will get there eventually, and putting it on boards will only make it faster. I’m also working on some prototype Feather Wings – A Hall Effect Sensor Array and a 10440 LiPo Battery. Beyond that, I’m going to Nightmare Nights next week, and I’ll have STUFF.

Now, for the long versions.

The DigiBadge Minis are in production and should be done soon! Unless Bad Things happen, I’ll have them before the convention, although I’ll have to spend a decent amount of time soldering the screens on, programming them, and packaging them. As mentioned above, I still have to finish the programming for them. That’ll take some time, but I can start kicking on that before they arrive. I also have some pictures of them!

Now, for CircuitPython and Adafruit. CircuitPython is Adafruit’s adaptation of MicroPython, itself a rebuilding of Python that works on microcontrollers powerful enough. MicroPython runs on a few MCs, but Adafruit has largely focused on the SAMD21 and ESP8266, as their boards use those two chips. CircuitPython is great, as it allows the microcontroller – plus the SPI Flash if it’s an Express board – appear as a thumb drive on the computer. You simply put the code files on the board and it executes them. It’s super great, especially because it allows you to pull your code off on any device, edit it, and run it immediately. As Python was my first programming language, I’m quite biased to it, and this mixes my love of Python with my love of microcontrollers. I’m likely to rebuild the larger DigiBadge as a M0 device and make it work with CircuitPython, even though CircuitPython doesn’t have a large amount of functionality as far as screens go. But one of the best ways to get things like that going is to put them out there, so that will definitely help.

Now, for my own projects! There’s a Hall Effect Array that I made, and then realized it was almost exactly the size of a Feather, so I turned it into a wing. I’m still waiting on some parts, but I already had the previous non-Wing version working. I took a short terrible phone video of the array in action, which you can see on the twitter:

As mentioned, it’s perfect size for a Feather:

I’ve already re-designed it as a feather, which you can see here:

Left to right: ESP8266 Feather, Hall Array Wing, 10440 LiPo Wing, M0 Express Feather, M0 Adalogger Feather

I haven’t yet assembled it though. That comes later. But what’s the other green Feather Wing? Well, it’s a super simple one that I still managed to mess up: It’s a wing designed to fit a 10440 LiPo Battery. It’s enough to power a Feather-sized project and fit compactly inside it. It’ll even stack mostly nicely, but I’d recommend long male headers for the board above it. How did I screw it up, though? Simple: I forgot a power switch. Oops. Anyway, have a video and some pictures:

What else was there? Oh, right! Nightmare Nights! And I’ll have things! What things? Well, first and foremost, unless Bad Things happen, I’ll have the DigiBadge Minis. Many minis! I won’t be bringing my whole stock – I only have packaging for 100 of them. It was originally for the V3, so the boxes may be a little large, but it should work fine.

Additionally, I’ll have a bunch of Arduineigh boards, a handful of component kits for the Arduineigh boards, and a bunch of prints by Sophie Scruggs! I will also have art cards with art by Sophie and by LeekFish.

If you’re wondering where I’ll be, it’s super easy to find me. Walk in the door, take a few steps and turn right. I’ll be there, right next to the My Dreamy Star booth. Give them some love, because they’re going to be dealing with my terrible puns the whole convention.

After the convention, I’ll be polishing up the store with more pictures, an actual front page, and the ability to, well, buy things. Important for a store.

And speaking of buying things, I’m going to end with a shoutout to Sophie’s Coloring Book and Art Showcase. You can buy it on her website:
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You can contact me via Facebook, Twitter, or Discord. I also recommend joining the Adafruit Discord, as there is a lively and super helpful community there as well.

Hello world!

Hello there, and welcome to Phoenixborn Technologies!

The website is currently under development – The web store is non-functional at the moment and we haven’t put any posts up aside from this one.

If you want to yell at us for that, you can follow the links above for Facebook, Twitter, and our Discord channel.