This week has been a very busy week. What you see above is a simplified housing design for which it will be cheaper to make an injection mold than for the first design. This is important as we are talking about relatively small number of volumes for injection molding (a couple of thousand) and the mold-making cost will need to be kept as low as possible so as not to drive up the price of the module. An alternative to traditional injection molding is rapid injection molding. I will need to look at both options to find out which one gives the cheapest price per unit.
For this latest housing design, the USB connector has been moved to the bottom side of the module. I have updated the PCB layout accordingly. The size of the housing is 26mm x 22.2mm x 9mm.
I have started working pretty much full-time on this project since July 1st. I have drafted up a project schedule for getting the module into production. Quite a few things need to be synchronized in terms of time-line. Here is what currently has been accomplished or is still in the works:
- NDA's have been put in place with various contract manufacturers (CM) for both the PCB assembly and the housing.
- The PCB has been designed and is waiting for feedback from the CM in order to determine manufacturability (1-2 weeks; we will be going into the second week). The PCB design might have to be tweaked after we get feedback from the CM. This process is called design for manufacturability (DFM).
- After the DFM is completed, a few final prototypes need to be built and sent to the CM (2 weeks).
- A few prototype housings also need to be built/machined and sent to the CM (3-4 weeks).
- GPS antennas need to be built (1 week setup + 3 week lead-time).
- GPS chip needs to be manufactured (4 weeks).
- Bill of materials (BOM) needs to be sourced. Some parts have a lead-time (up to 3 weeks).
- Housings need to be produced by injection molding at CM (no time-line available yet from the CM for this).
- After all this is completed, usually an engineering pilot build is done for design verification and after that a production pilot build.
- Test procedures need to be implemented and test fixtures designed and put in place (4 weeks). This includes both testing of the PCB as well as a final test of the performance of each GPS module.
I will keep you posted as things progress :).