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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Good and the Bad...


The photos show two rough prototype housings made on a fused deposition modeling machine (FDM). As the resolution of these machines is about 5-10mils (127-254um), the surface of the housing is not very smooth, but it is good enough to do form fitting of the board and dock connector. Also, the housings look white as the machine uses this color plastic to do the FDM. The ultimate housing will be black.

The next photo show you how the module will look on both the iPhone and iPod touch.



Now for the good news:

  • All the clearances for board to housing were designed correctly and the boards fit nicely within the housing.

  • I have also received the A-GPS modules in the meantime and built a new module with it and put it to the test. The way it works is as follows: you first download 7 or 14-day valid data to the module (this can be done through software), then use the module as normal. I have put this module to the test and compared it with a module without A-GPS. For the A-GPS module, the time-to-first-fix (TTFF) in open sky after a cold start was reduced from 43sec to 29sec (average over 5 measurements) with times as short as 16sec.

  • A large volume of dock connectors for the modules have arrived!

  • NDAs have been put in place with quite a few PCB contract manufactures and quotes are expected back soon.


Now for the bad news:
  • It turns out, there is no way to get the plastic lens into the LED opening of the housing and have it sit straight and tight. So it's a good thing to have built these prototypes to do form-fitting before getting a housing injection molded for real. We will have to come up with something to solve the lens problem: the housing will be split in two half so that the lens can be inserted from the inside and the wall can be thickened locally for a straight and tight fit.

  • Recent testing has revealed that the latest prototypes lack a little in performance compared to the earlier prototypes. A re-spin of the board can remedy this and will bring you the best performance possible (note that one board design is currently still in the pipeline and is expected back later this week for more performance testing). This will delay things a little, but not too much (about a week).

As you can see, this project is keeping me busy full-time, but all aspects of the project are progressing very well in parallel.

10 comments:

J D said...

I don't suppose we can get you to sell us those prototypes?

:)

Chuck said...

Good to hear. Thanks for keeping us updated. Appreciate all the time and effort you put into building this.

piopawlu said...

I would personally buy a prototype even without the casing.. I just can't wait ! :)

Alban said...

Hi again !

As I see everything is running fine :) The prototypes looks good to me. Even with the white casing :)

As many stated already I just can't wait for your module to come out as a retail product. I have already bought another GPS solution but will prolly buy yours because I know it will fit my iPhone perfectly.

About something else, did you get the mail I sent you a little while ago about the colours of the casing ? :)

Cheers !
Alban

Alban said...

I just had a look at what is axactly a FDM machine and how it works.
About the LED lens you were supposed to place in the opening, is it possible to have a thinner plastic casing above the LED ? That way, even if the casing is in black color, the LED will be visible from the outside of the module without having to add another step in the production such as putting in a lens for the LED.

what you think ? I must confess that I'm a total newbie when it's related to board design.

hdd123 said...

Great work! This project is looking so good - can't wait to get my hands on this baby;-)

Off subject - I was looking at the software that's being released through Apple's Apps store, particularly in Navigation. Have a look at G-Fi and their web site. It would seem to confirm comments (elsewhere) that the GPS installed in the 3G iPhone is not particularly suitable for turn by turn navigation as they state that location accuracy is best when used in conjunction with their forthcomming GPS WiFi router. On this basis, the plugin
will likely be important across ALL Touch devices! @GPS hope you've got large scale production facilites lined up or there might be a wait for the faithful!

hdd123 said...

@alban - what GPS solution have you already purchased? Is it a wired solution?

Chris Chan said...

any information about the price for the final product , would be nice to see it as a alternative solution to the iphone 3G

Alban said...

@HDD123 : Yes it's wired solution. I will be able to use it with my laptop after that :P

It's a Hollux M1200 with a special cable bought from iGPSd.

GPS said...

@j.d.: those prototypes are nowhere near production quality; they are only good for form fitting, so you will have to wait a little :)

@alban: yes, I did get your email and I have now responded to you (unless my email ended up in your junk box). Regarding the LED, I will be modifying the housing to accommodate the lens. It's better not to have an open hole in the housing as stuff would be able to get into the module.

@hdd123: well, if that is the case, that is good news. Getting ready for production is keeping me busy full time now. The quotes I am getting are for large enough quantities, so hopefully not to long of a wait, but once it is sign-up time, first come, first serve.

@chris chan: final price will depend on some of the assembly quotes that I am still waiting for. From the current estimates, the module will be about $75 and this includes the micro-USB cable.