This month went by too fast, I feel like I just got here. The photo above is of a simple circuit I printed with the inkjet ( I also cheated a little by adding silver marker on top). While the traces themselves aren't so bad and the circuit did work, the conductive epoxy is awful to work with! If it was this difficult with through-hole components, I can imagine how it would be with surface-mount. I think the precision would be improved by using a syringe for the epoxy, but I will wait until later to try this out.
The deeper I dive into this project the more I realize how ambitious it is. I knew going in that it would take a small miracle for me to pull it off, as did Dan* and Supplyframe. But when I am locked onto an idea it’s difficult for me to be realistic. It’s easier to work harder than it is to adjust my expectations. My mind has a mind of its own. Must be an ego thing.
I'm feeling the pressure with 3 months left. I told Dan (resident engineer at the Design Lab) yesterday that I was going to start listening to him. He looked at me in disbelief and said, “Do you know how rare it is for me to hear that phrase?” I responded, “Do you know how rare it is for me to say it?”
So, when you suspect that the ship is bearing too much weight, putting you and your precious cargo at risk, what’s the first thing you do? Unload some of your cargo in order to preserve the remainder. I’m putting the research & dev on a flexible circuit board on hold so that I can focus fully on hardware and software development. While the inkjet tests were fun and somewhat promising and I have so many more paths to explore with other materials (Kapton, Pyralux), and methods (silkscreen, lasercutting, chemical etching) I also know that it could take months or longer to come up with a robust and working solution to this problem, if it's even possible. There are manufacturers I can reach out to that have already developed a reliable and flexible (and multilayer!) circuit board and seeing how they do it may give me more ideas. But first, I need to design and build the thing.