20 February 2017
A busy couple of weeks, which is why I appear to be writing them for two weeks, not one. Ah well.
Selworthy saw a deployment that integrated and released a pile of new features – that was good to get out, and thorny, given it involved changing some of how we stored data on it. I also started working on a new export format for the application, which is probably the most painfully difficult file format I’ve ever worked with. We’ve certainly had an ‘interesting’ time testing it – it turns out the edge cases are very badly documented, so that’s been a lot of publish/test/fix going on.
menting it; it turns out the edge cases are very badly documented.
Over on Longcrag, I made another spreadsheet. Not a BOM this time: instead, a burndown chart of all the products in the range and what’s left to do on all of them. It’s… only moderately intimidating. I’m concerned some of the later tickboxes actually hide a lot of work, but for now, the goal is to get BOMs, PCBs and panels all completed so that I’m ready to send a large order to Elecrow.
That is, if they prove satisfactory. So to test them, I ordered a set of prototype boards from Elecrow: a baby step towards manufacturing in Asia. We’ll see how they turn out. Finally, I sent some emails inquiring about wholesaling the products, which is the other big GO/NO GO step for the project – hopefully we’ll hear about that soon. But a GO from a wholesaler and a quality board from manufacture means three or four products are probably ready to go.
I also took the sketch I made the previous weekend and built it up on a breadboard and microcontroller. The MCU code I wrote on the sofa worked first time, and led to a huge grin as I realised quite what this thing could be. So I continued to bash out a first pass at a front panel and get to a circuit board that could be made. A slight digression from the products I should be focusing on, but it’s very exciting, and good to have things in the pipeline. By the end of Week 217, a prototype of this was ordered up, and a few friends I showed initial footage to seemed excited by it.
Gisborough hit a bit of a speed bump; some things that felt clearly defined turned out not to be, which has led to me taking a step back briefly whilst the project refocuses itself – more to come in the near future, I’m sure.
And to cap it all, I failed to do weeknotes last week. So a fortnight’s worth this week, and let’s get back on the wagon next week.
06 February 2017
Continuing the theme of doing weeknotes for a single week almost on-time:
- A few days on Gisborough with dotEveryone, carrying out some research trips, sharing our findings, and trying to creep up on the project from a variety of angles. I’ve been reminded that when I get stuck, I probably need to make things, even if all I’m making is words. Writing-to-explain has been one way out of holes, as has making hypothetical posters. Better to have something to disagree with than nothing at all.
- On Selworthy, I liased with another developer about merging our two strands of work, and also about changes to the data we’re storing that’ll require transforming everything in the system. It’ll enable a nice chunk of new functionality, but definitely something to measure several times and cut once. Also lots of UI finessing and research, although my time on this was curtailed at the end of the week by slight illness.
- On Longcrag, I revised the two prototypes with minor bugs from the week before. One took a good half hour of prodding and staring at the oscilloscope until I found the glaringly obvious problem: an output connection normalised to ground that shouldn’t be. When the normalised connection was broken, everything behaved itself. So a single change to the schematic and board, and that one’s good to go.
The other board needed a more comprehensive redesign, it turned out, which I breadboarded up and confirmed worked well; I quickly laid the thing out and ordered a second pass of it from OSHPark.
And finally, at the weekend, I sketched out some code for a new Longcrag idea that came to me in the shower at the weekend. It should be a really interesting device – I can see lots of fun applications for it.
Friday finished early as head-cold and winter lurgy did for me, so a largely quiet weekend in order to prepare for another busy week. Onwards!
01 February 2017
I’m into some crunchy, busy weeks now, so keeping weeknotes brief:
- The project I’m working on with dotEveryone got underway. We set out some framing for the first patch of work, and I went on a quick research visit. Next week, we’ll kick off working in the office proper and try to wrestle the brief to the ground a bit. (I’m calling this project Gisborough, for reference).
- Selworthy – I continued work on making some the UI slicker and simpler (at least from the end-user’s perspective). I also spent some time with another developer planning out how best to attack a new feature, and doing Just Enough Ops to help our sysadmin on the side.
- Longcrag – more prototypes arrived this week. I spent some time putting them together, and whilst they’re largely successful – they’re about 90% correct in terms of electrics – there are a few bugs that need understanding and then ironing out. These two were on their first ‘pressing’ – I’d not built them up before – but there’s always the hope they won’t need a second revision. In addition, the prototypes confirmed two fixes to the panels for the whole range of products – good – and revealed a mistake in my understanding of the silkscreening that would need to be revised across the range – bad. Still, progress.
23 January 2017
Continuing the trend of brief weeknotes that are at least on time:
- My time on Selworthy was spent working on overhauling some commonly-used UI, to make it feel slicker and more app-like without losing some of its webby nature. That’s nearly done – we’ve been testing it on the staging server – and otherwise, I worked on some bugfixes and planning.
- I’ve nearly wrapped up my time working for Good Night Lamp – I spent some time this week integrating feature requests from the team based on their workflows and feedback, and also integrating a final API method. The tool is nearly good to go, I think.
- Had a quick meeting about Gisborough and we decided to reconvene in week 214 – it looked like the team needed to do some more internal clarification on what this might be.
- Met up with Erica to talk about some forthcoming maintenance work on the Empathy Deck which looks like it might have its life extended a little.
- My main work on Longcrag involved staring at some spreadsheets to try to work out wholesale and end-user pricing (and understand what margins on the whole endeavour to plan for). I think the pricing is reasonable. Next on the list: emailing some people about the project before it goes any further.
In non-project-related news, I tidied up the studio a bit, rearranging the desk with a new shelf for test gear and better, colour-balanced lighting. The new lamp is having a good effect on mood and workspace already. And to cap it all: I finished – and paid – my tax return. Admin!