Thank you for visiting bitsmashed! My name is Aaron and I like to make things, as well as teach people about science and electronics. If you need help with a project, please contact me. You can also find information on some of the past projects I have completed here. Below is a rough outline of an example project life cycle.
Concept, Feasibility, and User Experience
One of the first steps in development is to determine the feasibility, scope, and potential costs of the project. Revisions, changes, and catastrophes can be common, but must not deflect the goal. Once a timeline and budget are estimated, mapping the user experience/interaction should be done before jumping in on the design.
Part Sourcing and Hardware Design
Design complexity needs to be balanced with your time and cost schedule, as well as part tolerance and availability. Hardware design and BOM selection proceed hand and hand to ensure the project is cost effective, while ensuring sound engineering practices. Breadboarding, building and testing sub modules within the project all contribute to determining the hardware schematic.
Once the schematic and BOM are defined, generally, you will need to create a printed circuit board (PCB) to turn your schematic design into a physical device. Form factor, mechanical constraints, analog circuits, antennas, programming and debug headers, location of user interfaces (LEDs, buttons) all determine how the PCB is designed.
Firmware and Software
Sometimes your project needs a microcontroller with firmware/code to function. Along with the microcontroller, sensors, power regulators, etc. can interface with each other or external devices and connectors and all require code to function. An development environment (IDE) is needed to program most controllers. Once the programming begins, the project can begin to show life.
Assembly and Rework
Small scale production assembly and hardware reword are needed to test and make any modifications for the next round of prototypes. Capabilities include soldering and debugging with test equipment. At this point, a working unit can be tested for reliability and bugs.
Enclosures can be made using 3D printers, injected molded plastics, laser cutters, CNCs, wood working tools, or even spare cardboard boxes. Vectored drawings are required for most machined parts and sometimes tooling charges can be a considerable cost to the project.