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Help getting started on new project

Discussion in 'General Electronics Discussion' started by UnknownFury, Apr 7, 2015.

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  1. UnknownFury


    Apr 7, 2015
    Hey guys,

    I am essentially in the deep end with this project and know nothing about what I am doing. My background is in programming primarily however I did do a couple of electronics modules at university and I have in the past played around with Arduino etc.

    I am looking to start up a project where I require 3 core things: access to wifi, gps tracker and probably about 32mb of stored memory, but more than that would be great. This will also need a self contained battery. The key thing for this project is that it is small. As small as possible. I have looked at Tinyduino and that is looking like a possibility. Ideally I want this to be as cheap as possible, obviously, and Tinyduino is looking good and the right kind of size but at $60 each for GPS and WiFi and $20 for the processing unit that's already $140 which seems pretty steep.

    How small realistically can I get these requirements? What's the most cost efficient way of doing so?

  2. davenn

    davenn Moderator

    Sep 5, 2009
    You realise just about every mobile phone has this

    I don't want to sound negative but you really need to start off being realistic about what you can achieve

    Initially you need to forget about a size restraint, unless you have access to a micro-electronics fabrication lab like where most of these miniature things are designed and built

    initially just look at building a working system, regardless of its size. Once that is achieved, then you can consider ways to try and reduce its size .... something you are going to find really difficult with out that multimillion $$ lab ;)

    Last edited: Apr 8, 2015
    hevans1944 likes this.
  3. Gryd3


    Jun 25, 2014
    That, and $140 for GPS, Wifi, memory and some kind of cpu really is not all that bad :p
  4. hevans1944

    hevans1944 Hop - AC8NS

    Jun 21, 2012
    I'ld buy that for a dollar!:D ... If it fits on my wrist and re-charges wirelessly. Ummm... what's it actually do?
    Arouse1973 likes this.
  5. BobK


    Jan 5, 2010
    Yep, sounds like another one who wants to build his own wrist band that does more than a fitbit and they can build it themselves for less money. Not going to happen.

  6. hevans1944

    hevans1944 Hop - AC8NS

    Jun 21, 2012
    What! Don't we all have one of those spiffy Maker-Bots sitting on the kitchen counter top that can extrude or ooze our heart's desire? And howsabout them tiny nanobots to put it all together? Don't we all have a shaker full of them to sprinkle on our creation to finish it in style? Oh, wait, Dr. Who, I must be in the wrong continuum! I can't find any of that stuff. Fix it, please! (Or wait fifty years or so...):rolleyes:
  7. garublador


    Oct 14, 2014
    My guess is that's how the multimillion dollar lab does it too. They start with a non form factor, off the shelf development kit, get it working and then figure out how to make it tiny.

    It may help to know if this is a one-off type of hobby thing or something you want to actually produce. As you may have gathered, the latter probably won't happen. If it's the former then people may have some useful ideas but will need more information about what you're planning on doing to make useful suggestions. Until then, I like the idea of just re purposing an "old" smartphone. It has everything you need in a relatively small, convenient form factor.
  8. hevans1944

    hevans1944 Hop - AC8NS

    Jun 21, 2012
    Seriously, a determined and highly competent individual with a lot of time available and no time-to-market deadline staring them in the face, could design and package something on the same size order as a Fitbit bracelet. It is fairly inexpensive to have someone manufacture and populate multilayer PCBs with 0.5 mm (or smaller) traces. The problem that I see is translating a largeish prototype functional design into the desired smaller form-factor. This requires considerable PCB layout skills usually gained only with experience. High-end PCB design tools are a bit pricy for even the most dedicated amateur, so it could make better economic sense to contract for those services. Still, the OP is probably looking at a two or three year development cycle. By that time the technology committed to will probably be obsolete, as would be the product. Does anyone remember how short-lived red-LED 7-segment wristwatch displays were? In just a few years they all vanished, replaced by back-lit LCD displays. Personally, I prefer a decent analog clock display with the "ticking" performed by a crystal resonator driving a little microprocessor (or, more likely, a CMOS ASIC) and a tiny stepper motor. Maybe tomorrow we will have an implantable watch that displays time by projection of an image on our retina at the blink of an eyelid. I already have two lens implants, and I am sure there is room in them for the requisite technology. Unfortunately, this would be the Rolex of "eye wear" and I could probably not afford it.
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