RETRO Innovations

ZoomFloppy Updates

by on Dec.09, 2010, under Hardware Design

ZoomFloppy PCB

ZoomFloppy PCB

PCBs for ZoomFloppy are finished and the first 2 are enroute to the US for manual assembly and testing.  Those following the blog for a while or having chatted with me at shows know the sequence for a new product:

  1. Initial prototyping
  2. Unit and system testing
  3. Schematic capture
  4. PCB CAD design
  5. PCB manufacturing
  6. Limited run hand assembly
  7. Final testing
  8. Automated Assembly

Key commitment points include step step 5 and step 8.  Before step 5, little expense is involved, and truly, many projects cease before that step.  Step #5 has become much more economical, so much so that initial production board runs approximate the cost for limited quantity prototype manufacturing.  Thus, I don’t often run a true prototype phase.  At worst, the design has an issue and I need to run another batch of boards, which costs no more than a prototype run + production PCB run.  At best, the first revision works fine, and the money saved can be used elsewhere.

Step #8 is a larger commitment.  Whereas a board run of 100 boards might cost a couple hundred dollars, parts acquisition alone for step #8 can easily cost 1 to 2 thousand, more if the design is a higher end product.  Thus, it makes sense to, in the absence of a prototype PCB phase, hand assemble a few production boards to check final placement, fit, and function.

One the design passes testing, it becomes a waiting game for final assembled boards to arrive for sales.  As in all things, there are 3 criteria: speed, quality, and price.  You can select 2 of the 3 for your project.  I select quality and price, so I typically wait a bit longer for assembly.  In perspective, some assembly houses can do 100 units in 5-10 days, while I typically figure 15-20 days.

Still, things should progress smoothly and quickly once the final testing is done.

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