14 April 2019
Highrigg continued. There’s not a lot I can really say easily in public about my work there; suffice to say, an amount of prodding at code, exploring APIs, discussing interactions with colleagues, and drawing up a technical overview of a future product.
On my couple of days in the studio, I made good headway with the electronics project I was working on in Week 325. I managed to get a better understanding of flashing the device over SWD – and managed to do it with a BlackMagic Probe, which is a more affordable, open-source alternative to the full JLink (though the Segger tools are excellent). By the end of Thursday, I could program the bootloader and application code via
gdb. I also finished porting the code over, and discovered the board worked entirely correctly. A few pin alterations in the firmware, and it looked like it was end-to-end working. I spent a little while thinking what programmer or test boards might look for it, and ordered some material to laser-cut a front-panel in week 328.
Broadly, though, I’m quite excited, as the whole SAMD21 unit can be placed into other projects in future relatively easily.
On Friday, I started working up an order for Thonk of some Foxfield products. That entailed a quick stocktake, work out what I already had lying around, and then ordering parts from Mouser and a few runs of PCBs from China. I also stuck on a new prototype to test some EAGLE part layouts I was playing with, potentially as a future revision to 16n.
I also had some nice meetings this week. On Thursday, I had an excellent chat with Ben Pawle from Nord. Ben and I discovered we were both teaching on the same Hyper Island course, so he suggested catching up – last time we’d spoken was at an IoT Coffee Morning that Matt Webb ran. It was great to talk to another practitioner; we talked about design practice, and making bots, and balancing own work with client work, and it was good to be reminded I’m not the only person doing this.
I also spent some time with a colleague at Makerversity who’d initially asked for some assistance with ESP8266 – but we ended up having a deep dive on designing the connected component of IOT products, and it was good to be able to share some experience across that shape of product design. Namely, I ended up recommending against technical complexity too early in the process, and instead we looked at doing the bare minimum to get to end-to-end – and to find out what making a product connected felt like. By doing that, you get to discover surprises on the way sooner, rather than engineering to spec and not leaving space for serendipity.