Phoenixborn Hiatus

Mythologically, the phoenix is a bird that resurrects from the ashes of its previous incarnation. Some myths say it dies in a firey conflagration, others say it decomposes regularly. But all say it ends up re-born.

Sadly, Phoenixborn has to go on hiatus. There are a number of factors in this, which I’ll go over in varying amounts of detail. But never fear – Phoenixborn will be back. Because it’s a phoenix, and that’s how it works. Also because I’m stubborn.

So, let’s get into details, shall we? I recently shifted jobs, going from a generic bakery guy in a grocery store to an endoscope repair technician. Or, well, I will be. I’m currently in training, which lasts a while. Because endoscopes are expensive. This is great, and being a monday-friday job gives me better free time. On the other hand, there was a few weeks between jobs which drained pretty much all of my available funds. My bills and everything has been covered fine, but Phoenixborn stuff had to take a back seat. And it’s going to be a significant time before I’m able to devote time and money to Phoenixborn in the manner it really needs to be done. That in itself would put Phoenixborn on hiatus for a few months.

Additionally, there’s also the fact that Phoenixborn has been a one-trick pony. It’s been DigiBadge, DigiBadge, DigiBadge. Which is cool, and I’ve got the DigiBadge to a really nice place. But you can only sell so many DigiBadges. Phoenixborn needs to be diverse in its products, and that’s going to take, you guessed it, time and money. So before Phoenixborn comes back, I’m going to have to make a bunch of things.

And as far as selling things goes? Conventions aren’t cutting it. The only conventions I’ve made money at have been BronyCons, and those aren’t a fair comparison. It’s ridiculously close to me, so travel and lodging expenses simply don’t exist. If they did, I wouldn’t make money on it. And online sales pretty much never existed. So, I’m going to have to find a different route.

I’m also going to use this opportunity to re-evaluate how I’ve done a lot of things. I’ll be honest, I’m terrible with social media. And I only have so much attention I can devote to places like Discord. So, going forward, the Discord server and Facebook page will be shut down, and Twitter will be the primary platform going forward (Although obviously on hiatus with everything else, too).

So, what to do to replace these? If you want a tech-centered discord server, I highly recommend the Adafruit discord server. That can be found at As a heads up, it is not a Phoenixborn discord. There’s no Phoenixborn channel. It’s a third party that I greatly endorse, but I’m not invovled with running anything for them outside of being a moderator on the chat. Also worth noting is that the server there is much tighter on rules. It’s intended to be an all-ages, welcoming, friendly environment. And I do mean all ages – There have been some contributors there whose ages are single digits.

There’s no real replacement for the Facebook page, but that’s not something I really used. If you want to follow me, personally, on Twitter, feel free. Bear in mind, though, that is my personal twitter. There will be bad puns, occasional political content, personal content sometimes, sharing of my friends’ stuff, etc. Not a ton of electronics stuff on there.

Now for the big question: When do I expect Phoenixborn to be back? Honestly, I can’t answer that. “Never” is a possiblity, although I’m too stubborn to say that’s likely. It’s more likely to be 6 months to a year. Electronics are expensive, and time consuming to make. And I want to have several things before un-hiatusing.

I may occasionally post updates on things here. I may not. In any effect, see you around.


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.

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: – 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] – 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.

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.