03/22/2019 at 07:36 •
Feedback appreciated... please let us know if you see something that could be improved, or clarified.
Hoping to launch next week.
Can also check out the Kickstarter preview page here (the campaign won't be live until next week):
02/28/2019 at 15:32 •
We added an Instagram account and will probably be posting more of the "finished product" type pics there. Some uploaded already as we get ready for crowdfunding.
Nerd pics still go here :).
02/21/2019 at 15:51 •
Our prototype keypad mold arrived and we made some test parts, and also learned a few things about handling silicone.
Some pics of the mold:
This mold is a very simple clamshell type that's only going to be used for manual testing. We just want to figure out if the keypad geometry is correct before moving to a production mold, and also get a few parts to use in the latest batch of testing phones. We will fill it by hand using a syringe.
Views of the inner surfaces. One side for the buttons, and the other side makes the inner features, including the little pips that push the dome contacts and close the electrical circuit.
We also had some silicone compatible dye on hand, so later pours were tinted blue. The keypad will probably be black in production, but we didn't have any black dye.
Before using the dye in a casting we made a few small test batches to make sure it would cure correctly. The supplier said it should work, but since we bought the dye and silicone from different places we wanted to test it first.
The silicone is a 2 part condensation cure type. The first rubber hardness we tried was Shore 50A, which turned out to be too soft.
We also learned a few tricks to make the process go smoother.
This particular mold has some critical features on both sides that form natural bubble traps. Button surfaces tend to trap air on the outside, and the pips that press the dome contacts trap air on the inside. So we have to be careful when filling to mold to eliminate bubbles. Since the silicone is thick and not prone to running, we could fill the bubble trap areas using the syringe before closing the mold and pouring the reminder through the main sprue. There were likely still a few bubbles caused by this method, but they all end up in areas we don't care about.
Another trick was to vacuum degas the syringe after loading it with silicone. It's almost impossible to mix silicone by hand without introducing bubbles, but the degas step pulls them back out.
The pour process:
This first one was not degassed. As you can see, there were lots of bubbles:
Next pour went better. We degassed, were careful to fill the critical areas of the mold, and used the blue dye we had tested earlier:
Some shots of the keypad in the prototype phone:
The buttons weren't pressing the dome contacts enough to easily make the electrical contact, so we added some foam underneath. With the foam it works better, but is still a little soft. Later we will try some harder silicone. We will also need to modify the shape of the mold to add more silicone near the dome contacts so that the production parts make better contact.:
Result after using the blue dye:
02/06/2019 at 15:26 •
On the main page right now (2019/02/06):
01/21/2019 at 02:55 •
Got some samples in today for the production keypad buttons. We went with dome contacts. These will be positioned over gold plated fingers on the main PCB, and they are held in position with a clear plastic overlay.
Also sent out a little mold for the keypad. This is not the production mold, just a quick/cheap one to confirm the keypad geometry works. Should arrive later this week and we can make a few samples by squirting silicone into the mold using a syringe.
10/19/2018 at 03:44 •
We've been dialing a lot of things in on the motherboard. The biggest noticeable change is the GUI. It looks much more polished now. We're almost ready to start carrying the phone around for daily use.
For complete details, read the full post on the WiPhone blog:
10/08/2018 at 10:10 •
What's an electronics project without an attempt at modularity? As part of our project goals, we want a phone that can be easily modified and expanded, but still remains something you could actually use every day. How do we balance those requirements?For complete details, read the full post on the WiPhone blog:
09/21/2018 at 09:38 •
Original post on the WiPhone blog: https://wiphone.io/blogs/blog/testing-a-capacitive-button-panel
We wanted to see if it was possible to eliminate the physical buttons on the front of the phone by using a capacitive button panel.
It has a few advantages:
- At this point in time, it's what people expect (it looks good)
- If we do it right, it could be easy to let people swap out a PCB with a different button layout, opening up the ability to adapt the hardware to different purposes.
- Potentially longer design life, due to no moving parts
- Somewhat risky. Physical button panel examples are everywhere, but you don't generally see capacitive button panels as dense as we need. There's probably a reason for that, so we expect to have issues with crosstalk/inadvertent triggering of neighboring buttons.
We made a test panel, shown above, that has buttons of approximately the size and pitch we need for the phone. Overall, the test panel works OK. It is, in fact, easy to accidentally trigger neighboring buttons. But it was interesting enough we'll go ahead and make another panel using our current button layout and see how it performs in the phone.
09/18/2018 at 12:56 •
We wanted to post an assembly video showing how the mechanical parts of the phone go together. It's already a pretty simple process, and should get even easier once we have a single-piece keypad.
At this stage it's still more of a prototye model than a production unit. The main purpose of this version is to give us something to actually use. Real world use is important for finding all the little issues that show up once a design moves from pictures on a screen to reality. Once we have a list of those we will evaluate what's possible to fix, and incorporate the improvements into the next version.
We've been playing around with the phone for a few weeks, mostly debugging electronics and software. Once we get the bug situation under control we will start carrying the phones around and collecting improvement opportunities for UI, software, electronics, and hardware.
09/07/2018 at 09:26 •
We have all the components on hand now.
Back Panel - FR4, cut to the correct profile
Motherboard - 4 layers, hand assembled
Frame - Aluminum, CNC cut and clear anodized
Front Panel - 2mm thick polycarbonate, CNC cut
Screws - M2x4, 4x
ON/OFF Button - Silicone, artisinal hand carved (OK, actually hand-snipped with a pair if dikes)
Antenna - Whip antenna, we may change to chip or trace antenna after we do some signal strength optimization
Keypad - Hard plastic, CNC cut. Eventually this will likely be a single cast silicone part.
Battery - LiPo pouch.
As the perceptive among you may have noticed, the parts have been assembled and our project pic updated. Later we will post more info, but for now we can say that everything fits with only minor issues. And the overall build looks and feels great, especially given how few revisions there have been.