Lack of documentation, or "Always expect people to buy it"

A project log for LZRTag - Flexible DIY Lasertag

An easy to build, program, modify and use AVR and ESP based Lasertag system for everyone!

XasinXasin 07/13/2019 at 09:530 Comments

There's an important lesson for everyone here at the bottom, please give it a read!

This morning I was greeted by a lovely message from Aisler, telling me that my project had been bought by a couple of people!
That isn't fully unexpected, as I was told a FabLab was working on implementing my Lasertag Project as a small workshop course, but it still comes with a problem:

The PCBs uploaded to Aisler are faulty

No, it's not a major problem, or something that requires the people that did buy them to throw them away.

The problem is the following: In the top right corner of the front of the PCB, a trace coming from the RESET and GPIO0 buttons is shorted against the ground pad.
The good news is that it is easy to cut with a scalpel, and the rest of the PCB is functional - so for those that did already buy the PCB, don't worry, it will still work!!

The bottom pads of the buttons, where you can also see the vias, are the "output" pins. They should not be connected to ground, but they are. Cutting them with a scalpel will resolve the issue, and you can not damage anything by accidentally leaving the fault in. If the ESP32 does not boot up, but 3.3V is present, this is likely the problem.

Other things worthy of note to get it running:

My lesson: Always be vocal about the state of the project

I feel a bit bad for the people that bought the PCBs and now have to go through the process of reworking them.
If I had been a bit more vocal about the state of the project, i.e. mentioning that the PCB needs reworking, the Aisler parts list isn't fully complete, then maybe people would have waited a bit longer, or would have been more prepared to deal with these issues.

The way I made it seem was that the project was fairly easy to build, and ... That's my mistake.

However, this should also be a lesson to anyone trying to buy or build projects here on HackADay:
Nothing will be perfect. Mostly, we're all just a bunch of nerds having fun with these things - or at the very least, I know I am!

There will be undocumented flaws, incomplete parts lists, or other little quirks in the process that the person building them dealt with and ... Never really wrote down, because it didn't seem like a big deal.

As a maker, the best we can do is to put a huge "WORK IN PROGRESS" above the things that aren't quite ready yet. 

And as the person trying to build it, we should always make sure the project is replicable: Please, ask about the status of PCB etc.
If the maker says "The PCB needs a bit of rework", then that means it's not ready yet.

Continue if you wish, but at your own risk to deal with all those little quirks the Maker left in.