Production Ready?

A project log for Interactive Disco Dance Floor

A large interactive disco dance floor with hidden capacitive sensors

JeremyJeremy 06/17/2016 at 18:250 Comments

The past couple months has been a process of:

  1. Test
  2. Find problems.
  3. Send out an order for new PCBs
  4. Test again
  5. Find another program
  6. Bang head against problem
  7. Rinse and repeat

So pretty much, standard operating procedure. But, as of last night, things are looking up!

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Touch Sensors

I assembled 5 of the latest PCBs and threw them in one of the floor sections to test the new touch sensors. There were two big concerns that plagued me last year: too many false positives, and the neighboring sensors creating interference for each other.

When I turned them on, It was like magic, they just worked! (which was thoroughly confusing) So far I'm not seeing any interference between squares and almost no false positives. Then I put on my thick motorcycle boots, and the sensors still picked them up accurately!

Next step is to assemble more squares and test. I'll have another update soon to explain how the touch sensors work in detail.

Communication Protocol

This has been giving me the most grief. I've been rewriting the communication protocol from scratch (github) and everything was working well on the breadboard. The first PCBs I received had the daisy chain lines wired all wrong and then I was having issues with timing and junk data on the serial lines.

To make a long story short, a lot of the junk and random problems were related to floating pins lacking pull-up resisters. A bit of code refactoring and turning on internal pull-ups seemed to resolve the problems and at about 12:30a last night I had several nodes talking together without any errors!

So now the question is...are we production ready?

Full Production?

Last year we used Golden Phoenix in China to produce the ~100 boards we needed for the dance floor. Recently I heard about MacroFab and am giving them a try.

They're a PCB manufacturing and assembly house located in Houston Texas and claim to be able to assemble 100 of my boards in about 17 days for close to the same price as Golden Phoenix. Their user interface for verifying the PCB, BOM and part placement is really beautiful and easy to use.

So I've ordered a single board from them to test the service. If it all goes well, I'll put in an order for the rest of the boards.

To answer the question, I'm nervous to say we're 100% production ready. More testing is going to be required, but I think we're very close.