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Optimistic for 2017
#1
Hi, well 2017 is here and I'm feeling optimistic with the controller. Here's what's been happening the last few weeks.

As most of you know, I re-did the hardware a couple months ago and re-wrote the firmware, still some to go but its coming along nicely. I wasn't feeling that good about the new hardware because I loaded the boards with features that most people will never use and the time it took to assemble wasn't good. After the hardware update the cost went up a bit because of the better connectors, extra components and cables connecting the boards which happened to get quite fragile after moving around. So I've re-designed the boards once again however this won't affect the firmware in any way.

With the new design I'll be able to offer a basic and deluxe version, this is how I split it up.

Basic Version
  • 8 - 5v PWM LED channels (channel 8 can control small DC accessories such as cooling fans)
  • 4 dosing pumps
  • 7 temperature sensors
  • ATO (auto top off system)
  • Port for I2C (such as Atlas Scientific circuits)
  • Fish Feeder
  • Internet
  • 16 AC outlets
The deluxe version would have the following (same as 2nd gen boards)
  • 16 - 5v PWM LED channels (channel 8 can control small DC accessories such as cooling fans)
  • 8 dosing pumps
  • 7 temperature sensors
  • ATO (auto top off system)
  • Port for I2C (such as Atlas Scientific circuits)
  • Fish Feeder
  • Internet
  • 16 AC outlets
  • 4 Flowmeters
  • 5 sensors (float switches, 5v analog or digital Arduino compatible sensors, optical sensors)
  • 4 digital power heads or DC accessories such as water pumps, ball valves, etc... (mix and match)
The main board is a bit smaller and the total connectors used on both boards is 7 less than before. On the 2nd gen board 7 connectors had a spare pin which I used for other things resulting in 7 less connectors. For example one port was for a temperature sensor with a spare pin, now that port will work with 2 temperature sensors, each sensor can share the same 5v and ground pin and each will have its own signal pin.

Also on the left side you can see some headers, it says "signal converter" on the board, this is to convert the 5v PWM LED channels to 0-10v analog or whatever. I made a board that plugs into the main board which can be set to the signal type required. You can see some small solder pads that have a trace built in, these can be cut so the signal goes in the converter and out to the LED ports, if for whatever reason the board was removed the pads can easily be soldered again to close the trace that was cut. The boards are good for 4 channels so two are required for all 8 channels.
[Image: Upgrade3_1.JPG]

If someone starts with a basic version they can upgrade to the deluxe version by plugging in another circuit board to the main board. These connect using a computer IDC cable (used for older hard drivers) which is much better than before as they are quite strong and no soldered connections to worry about breaking off. 

If you've been following along you probably noticed I just started selling plug and play kits using 3D printed cases. This has been going good but far from ideal as I had to get someone to print and mail them to me which cost quite a bit. Well I'm happy to say I now have my own 3D printer. I received it on Wednesday and I'm up and running. I've already printed a few cases and they look pretty good. I would say they're at about 95% quality compared to what I was receiving, with a few tweaks as I learn I should hit the bar.

So with the new hardware and printer I'm feeling pretty good, these changes allow me to bring the cost down and have a better product. I'll also be offering any color you want for the cases.

Anyone who buys the basic version in a case and later want to upgrade to deluxe all they need to order is the hardware and a case addon. I'm going to make a piece that will replace the controller lid and extend the box to hold the other PCB. All that would be required is plug in two connectors and screw in place.

I'm playing catchup right now as I was pre-occupied and work was a bit busy but once I'm there I'll be updating the store with a bunch of new kits etc... Stay tuned. :)

Printing a filament holder :)
[Image: 3Dprinter.JPG]
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#2
Well Rob, that looks great!

I don't want to spoil your happyness but the hardware is changing faster than the software does... ;-)
How about the software for Gen2 ??

Rob, will there be one version software in the future and will it run on both the newer designed board AND Gen2 ?

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#3
(01-09-2017, 03:29 AM)Arne Wrote: Well Rob, that looks great!

I don't want to spoil your happyness but the hardware is changing faster than the software does... ;-)
How about the software for Gen2 ??

Rob, will there be one version software in the future and will it run on both the newer designed board AND Gen2 ?

I think same question. I think (and hope :D ) that there will be only one software, and it running both boards. Maybe users must define / comment out in sketches which board revision / version they have ? Because if there are two separate software with big diffrencess in the code, i think that is very bad. And if that so i "fear" that gen2 software are going to left behind, when newer revisions software is making.

Edit: I am blind :D Rob already wrote that " So I've re-designed the boards once again however this won't affect the firmware in any way."
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#4
Let's hope Rob has just split the same electronics and divided it over two different boards...
Okay, he got rid of the converters.
That means the software can run on Gen2 AND the newer boards.

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#5
Sorry, these boards are still gen2 just a revision, the current software will work on both, only looks different but works the same.
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#6
sounds good look forward to seeing the new boards.
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#7
is that a spool holder your printing in the pic
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#8
Hey rott, yeah that was a spool holder, it snaps into the top of the frame, wasn't easy snapping it on, its definitely not going anywhere. It works good but I'm going to make another later with bearings so its less stress on the extruder.
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#9
hello, from Greece

Can you tell us this awesome new board will be ready for sale and the cost for the deluxe version?
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#10
Hi John, I have new boards on the way, they should be here next week. I haven't set the price for them yet but I'm sure we can come up with something for you.
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Current time: 10-14-2019, 12:58 AM