The honest update

A project log for uECG - a very small wearable ECG

It's cheap, doesn't use a specialized heart rate AFE and can blink LEDs with your pulse :)

Lucy SohryuLucy Sohryu 09/23/2019 at 23:492 Comments

Originally, we intended this to be just another standard project log.

Then we stopped, examined what we were doing, and wrote this instead.

One week ago, we were super excited about everything going on. Yes, Indiegogo wouldn't release our money, but things were happening all around us - at an alarming rate. We went from nobody to Hackaday Prize finalist (as per our previous update). People have been following our page. We set up our Tindie page and people started pre-ordering uECGs. We had several new devices just about ready for production, with only a few minor touches left (like actually doing the PCB layouts for them). And we were just about ready to solve the Indiegogo problem by setting up a TransferWise account - and then waiting until they do a background check on us to activate that account.

Then everything changed. 

---------- more ----------

We had to drop everything, literally mid-stride, because of a family emergency of one of the team members - which meant emergency for all of us. Without going into much detail, dealing with that took us an entire week when we could least afford it. Everything - Hackaday, uECG, our other projects, our commercial projects - had to be put on hold until we were done. Once we were done and the situation was resolved, however, everything kind of came back. All at once.

MakerFaire loomed even closer. There were no updates. There were no projects, commercial or otherwise, being done - we had a huge waitlist on literally everything. There was no money - family emergency meant financial emergency, too, as they tend to (and, in this case, some distant relatives from Russia you didn't even know you had). And, on top of that, Indiegogo still wouldn't release our campaign funds.

This was not even Plan B. By yesterday, we were at Plan D: with less than two weeks until we're off to Italy, we'd assemble a handful of uECGs and accessories manually, along with other prototypes we're bringing to MakerFaire. To do that, we'd have to send PCBs into production, wait till they're delivered, and make sure we had all the components to actually assemble them. On the way, we'd also somehow manage to write updates, get back to all our clients we had waiting, and do the project video for uECG to post here (it'll be here soon, by the way). Oh, and we'd also have to eat and pay our rent somehow in the meantime.

Sounds like a plan, right?

Our working table - good luck finding anything you need in this place!

Is there a bright side? Well, TransferWise did come through with our account. And we'd continue talking to Indiegogo because at this point, we really need the money. We sent some PCBs into production last week, and they should arrive in a couple days - meaning we'll be able to get to work on them really soon. Everything else was just a matter of time, determination and perseverance in the face of unstoppable odds. In other words, just another normal day at Ultimate Robotics.

Then we realized that... we don't actually have enough components to assemble all the devices. And, belatedly, that today was literally our last chance to order anything from China before the country shut down for National Day week. 

...oh crap. Doesn't look like 'enough components' to me!

And so we went to work. The kind of work that includes going through all our components stock, taking precise measurements of that one single tact switch we've got left over, and feverishly ordering PCBs at two AM in the night (early morning over in Shenzhen). The kind of work that's usually done like this:

Extreme times demand extreme measurements

And, at some point, usually includes this:

At least we've got them all in a neat box, not all over the place!

Was there a happy ending? Kind of. We did what we could. Life keeps throwing emergencies at us, and we don't really have any choice but to keep at it. After all, MakerFaire isn't going to wait for us. And everyone else - we'd rather not keep waiting, too.

Originally, we wanted this to be just another standard project log, the kind where we gloss over most of our daily grind and only leave the relevant bits in. In the end, that makes for a rather dry, if informative, read. 

But it's also something we were frankly tired of doing this time around. 

To all the people who followed and liked our project - thank you. And to the people who pre-ordered uECG - thank you, too. We used to say we couldn't have done this without you, and we still couldn't. When times are the bleakest, it's you who keep us going at it again and again. 

Thank you, everyone! 

We'll be in touch.


de∫hipu wrote 09/30/2019 at 20:55 point

When it rains, it pours. I really hope that you will manage to resolve all the problems, and that you will at least have a couple of working devices for the MakerFaire.

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the_3d6 wrote 10/01/2019 at 14:11 point

Thanks! We definitely will because we already have multiple working 2.2 and 3.1 versions. But since we got 4.0 PCBs today, we'll assemble some of them too. 4.0 has proper (unlike v3.1) skin conductance measurement schematics so it's more useful for research :)

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