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The General Purpose Micro-controller Board

The General Purpose Micro-controller Board

Almost 2 years ago (Spring of 2018) we embarked on creating our own take on a general purpose micro-controller board. Our initial plan was to begin offering it in the Summer of 2018. Sadly at that time unrelated business came up and required our full undivided attention so the general purpose micro-controller board was put on the back burner. Summer of 2019 a low-volume production order came up for which this board is an excellent fit and so it was dusted off and brought into production. With that order fulfilled, and a re-order upon us it made sense to increase re-order quantity slightly and begin with offering them here.

Stay tuned, we'll be posting more details about this incredible little work-horse.

 

 

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The Kailh mechanical keyboard switches have arrived!

The Kailh mechanical keyboard switches have arrived!

We just received 3 lots of box style switches and 1 lot of speed style switches from Kailh!

Presently we are registering 0 for each style. That should change over the next day or so as we package them into bundles of 10.

I hope folks can turn an eye and pardon my product pictures for now. Photography is not my strong suit and the team member with such photography skills is currently tied up.

As the community knows, Kailh offers several varieties of mechanical keyboard switches. Being that we are just starting out, we had to narrow down what to initially offer. Our hope is that the choices we made for our initial offerings are correct. It seemed people would be interested in the box style switch, and to that we selected: linear, soft tactile, and click tactile types. Further we added to the mix a linear type speed style switch as well.

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Rev 02 Blank MCU Programming and Software Development Jig

Rev 02 Blank MCU Programming and Software Development Jig

When the MCUs are assembled onto the rev 02 boards they are blank. Furthermore, no code, be it the boot-loader or the application has been developed. So with that will comes debugging and with that debugging comes the need to load the MCU Flash on multiple occasions, not to mention access to the MCU during debugging. Soldering wires directly to the target board test points of the MCU SWD interface is certainly possible. However in our experience it is a royal PIA and should be done as a last resort sans other options. Further one would need to do this to all ten prototypes. To address this we decided upon creating two jigs to support these tasks. The jigs permit interconnection of the J-link pod with the MCU SWD interface on the target board. We chose the SWD interface over the EZ-port interface because of the debugger support. We chose the SWD interface over the JTAG interface because of the lower pin count.

We're using actual Rev 02 boards as the base template of the jig. Which is perfect because it ensures proper alignment of the jig pogo pins to the test point pads of the target board. Alignment is conveniently achieved utilizing the key switch center holes which are non-plated through. Thus there is no possibility of shorting layers on the target board. Phenolic washers are used as spacers to ensure spacing which is compatible with the height of the jig pogo pins. Further being non-metallic, there is no risk of shorting anything on the top layer of the target board (target boards are put upside down for mating with the jig). The hot glue gun got another opportunity for use. Hot glue makes for a reasonable stress-relief on the wiring at the J-Link pod ribbon cable header and at where it transitions with the jig board edge. Simple M-F standoffs are used and threaded onto the alignment screws to put slight positive pressure on the target board to ensure good continuity with the pogo pins on the jig.
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The Bench & Stool

The Bench & Stool

Sounds like the name of a pub but it isn't. It's one wall of the dining room where we've set up shop with our manual SMT equipment to build the prototypes.

Yes you see it right there in the picture friends, high-end manual SMT equipment in the dining room with a shitty bench and stool. What gives? Well let me tell you what gives, Orlando area shop rent pricing. We even looked at purchasing instead. Nada. Unless of course one wants to overpay. What about proper benches and chairs? Yeah we have them. Disassembled and in storage. I was given an envelope I had to stay within or else. So under the advisement of my wedding tackle, the proper benches and chairs were sidelined and the shitty bench & stool called up for duty.

Where to from here? Well, the plan is to build up two units as well as two programming jigs. The two units will be utilized to validate the electrical part of the design before moving on to the software and mechanical fit checks.

Stay tuned.

 

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Finally the DLD77 Rev 02 pre-production PCBs begin arriving!

Finally the DLD77 Rev 02 pre-production PCBs begin arriving!

We just received 8 of the 10 DLD 77 Rev 02 pre-production PCBs. The remaining 2 are expected to be in the week after next. Comparing DLD 77 PCB outlines, we managed to shrink the Rev 02 PCB outline so that it is smaller than the Rev 01 PCB. The outline shrinking did come with a trade-off. The Rev 01 design supported the capability to accept PCB mount type key-switches which have an additional 2 alignment holes. Those alignment holes proved to be too much for the areas where the routing is 'busy'. So the key-switches have been changed in Rev 02 to be panel mount.

Reset assured however the key-cap stabilizers still remain PCB mount for Rev 02!
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