Author Topic: tiq probe - did not fund on Kickstarter - but will be going into production!  (Read 46438 times)

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Offline andyturk

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Cool project! Bonus points for using PSoC5.  ;D

I'm not a fan of those LCDs though. What about something like this? They're quite readable at almost any angle for interior conditions. The OLEDs aren't so great in sunlight, but that's not an issue here.

Can you eliminate the USB power requirement? There ought to be enough room for a battery inside the probe itself. It would make the tiq easier to move around on the bench and also help with isolation issues.

Will the firmware be upgradeable? Open Source, maybe?
 

Offline codeboy2k

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I agree with not using USB for power... There are 2 extra wires and unnecessary shielding there that makes the USB cable really inflexible for this device.

I have an awkward time moving my android phone around on the table while it's charging off it's USB connector.

If you also have plans for the USB connector to actually do USB transfers at some point in the future, then I can see your desire to want to keep it.   If this is a future possibility, then I suggest supplying a simple 2-wire USB plug with red/black power and ground croc clips or pincers would be superb to power the device... and don't depend on VUSB to be 5V, but allow for any voltage between 1.8 up to 15V using a small buck-boost DC-DC converter inside. Then you can have the best of both worlds, and the internal buck-boost DC-DC makes it ready for battery operation too.


 

Offline markhen

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@andyturk, codeboy2k and others contributing on the power subject:

If we add or substitute a power(-only) connector, what would be a GREAT choice (not just another choice)??!! And one that everyone can love!!? I'd hate to swap this out for something with just another set of problems....

I know the USB socket has its issues, but I really don't think barrel connectors are much better (in terms of lifetime, reliability, plug compatibility, size etc. - just to pick on one alternative)??

So, what would make this aspect of tiq AWESOME?!?  (The power connector and cable.)

Thanks for the inputs!

Power up -

Mark
 

Offline markhen

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@andyturk:

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Cool project! Bonus points for using PSoC5.  ;D

Thanks for the kudos on the pSoC 5LP use! The Cypress pSoCs are FANTASTIC! tiq is implemented entirely inside a pSoC 5LP - I have multiple PAGES of digital and analog schematics all neatly loaded into the darn thing! The (free) Cypress IDE works really well, and it's as easy to use as an Arduino - but SO MUCH more powerful, fast, capable. Really, really recommended for your next project. I like the 5LP, it's the biggest and best, the pSoC 3 is also pretty neat, the newer pSoC 4 seems to be stripped down for certain applications, but cheap ($1 each right now?!) and still pretty useful.

tiq is almost a "text book" application for the pSoC 5LP, too, as it uses much of the digital and analog resources (counters, timers, logic, comparators, DACs, ADCs, opamps etc.).

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What about something like ... OLEDs

Definitely considering other displays and OLEDs for the KS version. The problem with the common 1.1" (like you linked) is they are REALLY SMALL in person. The LCD in the the prototypes has a larger viewable area and larger pixels. I have 2 really good OLED candidates coming in the next week or so, a bit bigger, but won't increase the package size, and 2 really interesting LCD alternatives (one could DECREASE the package size without decreasing the viewable area, one would have THREE LINES for more info display (same character size as the prototypes)).

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Will the firmware be upgradeable? Open Source, maybe?

Yes, there will be a way to upgrade the firmware.

No, the hardware and firmware will not be open source.

Cheers -

Mark
 

Offline codeboy2k

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@andyturk, codeboy2k and others contributing on the power subject:

If we add or substitute a power(-only) connector, what would be a GREAT choice (not just another choice)??!! And one that everyone can love!!? I'd hate to swap this out for something with just another set of problems....

I know the USB socket has its issues, but I really don't think barrel connectors are much better (in terms of lifetime, reliability, plug compatibility, size etc. - just to pick on one alternative)??

So, what would make this aspect of tiq AWESOME?!?  (The power connector and cable.)

Thanks for the inputs!

Power up -

Mark

Barrel connectors are fine, but micro-usb is clearly ubiquitous.   If you force them to use a specific sized barrel connector, it will anger them, even if you supply it, because they will lose the brick that has the power.   I think you will get the least push back from your users if you stick to a micro-usb connector.  This also allows you to upgrade the device in the future to actually do something with the USB connector without having to add it back later.  Users can power it from a USB hub with one of the millions of USB cables they already have lying about if they want to. 

So, my suggestion is to stick with the micro-usb connector, but don't expect them to use only a USB hub to power it.  You should also supply a lightweight power clip with micro-usb on one end and croc clips or grabbers on the other end for powering it from the DUT.  Use a lightweight 24-26 gauge, black/red stranded twisted pair or zip cord wire so it's flexible.
 

Offline electronic_eel

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An external power pack is not a good idea - when you need 2 parts to operate something, you will have forgotten to bring one of them when it counts.

So stick with a micro-usb (not mini-usb! micro-usb is what the phones have, so that is commonly available everywhere). But just for firmware upgrade and charging. To operate the thing from, you fit a small battery into your probe, something like this: http://www.adafruit.com/products/258. Charging / battery management ICs are available in all kinds and sizes, down to so small that you'll have a hard time soldering them.

My advice to you is to build a few prototypes of your current design and give them out to friends and colleagues. Collect feedback from them. Combine it with the feedback you got here. Write all suggestions on a paper and count how often you heard what. And then go back to the bench and implement the most often heard items (like included battery), even if you don't think they are neccessary. Think about the ones you haven't heard that often, implement them if you like them, or leave them out. And when you have a working model of your second generation - then you can go to Kickstarter.

You only have one shot with Kickstarter. The amount of people interested in such a device is limited. And I bet most of them will do a quick google, find this thread and think about the real shortcomings and minor nits discussed here.
 

Offline electronic_eel

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No, the hardware and firmware will not be open source.
Open Source Hardware has a few big advantages, among them:
  • You show that you are part of the hacker/maker community
  • You enable the buyer to improve the product himself if it is missing a feature important to him
  • If someone helped improving the product, he will be much more convinced by the product and spread the word
  • You don't have a "brand name" with established repudiation yet. So the buyer doesn't know how long you will stick around and support your product. With OSHW you can debug and fix all problems yourself. This works just like a lifetime warranty, it increases the value of your product

So why do you not want to make it OSHW? What do you fear?
Someone seeing and commenting on your code quality?
Some Chinese selling a 1:1 clone on ebay?
Someone changing your device, your baby, in a way you did not intend to?
Or something else?

Look at how other people in your position decided about this and what they got from it. Maybe even contact and ask some of them.

Here is a recent example of a successful kickstarter with OSHW: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/nickjohnson/re-load-pro-a-dc-active-load

Think about this, try to imagine the effects of each choice. How will it affect you and the future of your product?
Then consider seriously.
 

Offline KedasProbe

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For the (bigger) movable screen you can add a Bluetooth LE. (Min. 10mW)
With the right app you could even have text to speech. (in case you don't want to look)
You would need to be able to choose to enable or disable the Bluetooth signal.
Not everything that counts can be measured. Not everything that can be measured counts.
[W. Bruce Cameron]
 

Offline GiskardReventlov

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@markhen, sounds like you're savvy but I felt obligated to remind you to beware the feature creeps. Get a version 1 out the door then consider more "features".
 

Offline markhen

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codeboy2k - well done! functionality seems quite good and it's fast too.  :-+  I like the functionality

Appreciate your encouragement and comments on functionality and speed  :)  , on the probe/display orientation and your preferences - for me the benefits of functionality (lots of info fast and automatically in a probe) vs. size and display orientation makes tiq the first instrument I reach for in my reasonably quipped lab. I believe this will be true for many others.

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Janoc: my ancient logic probe - I still like it better than having to poke around the board with a scope probe or spend a long time setting up my logic analyze

The convenience and speed of checking things out with a probe-type instrument can't be beaten, the inspiration for tiq was my own "ancient logic probe" - built 30 years ago in a highlighter plastic case - tiq is approximately the same form-factor  ;)

Here's to fast and easy -

Mark
 

Offline markhen

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@electronic_eel:

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stick with a micro-usb

Looking forward to hearing if others in the EEVblog community have an AWESOME alternative to the USB connector on tiq. So far USB in the lead!

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fit a small battery into your probe, something like this: http://www.adafruit.com/products/258

For a probe-type device debugging embedded circuits there will be local power to use. Users are unanimous in wanting their probes smaller and lighter, adding a battery like this would double the mass and increase the size. So, the first version of tiq (on KS) will not have an internal battery (there may be future models for those willing to accept the tradeoffs).

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build a few prototypes of your current design and give them out to friends and colleagues. Collect feedback from them.

Yes, doing exactly this. I've spent my entire career in product development, and by habit I follow a formal product development process, including serious user evaluation and validation.

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The amount of people interested in such a device is limited.

This is your opinion, I think over 200 views per day here on EEVblog alone indicates otherwise. tiq provides powerful measurement capability in a low cost, compact device and provides real value to enthusiasts, makers, engineers, students, Arduino buyers, Raspberry Pi buyers and so on. Why would the number of people interested in this be limited??!!

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real shortcomings and minor nits

Seems most all of the discussion is about the power connector - minor nit? Or real shortcoming? Otherwise comments look mostly like  :-+

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Sounds interesting - I might be tempted to let a few dollars escape my grasp :) at $79 I'd buy one right now  :-+
I like the idea.
I just saw the video... well done! functionality seems quite good and it's fast too.  :-+  I like the functionality, I see it can be useful
This sounds interesting,
Something like this would be VERY useful...
Looks interesting.
Cool project!

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No, the hardware and firmware will not be open source.

No, the hardware and firmware will not be open source.

Regards -

Mark
 

Offline markhen

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@KedasProbe:

Thanks, Bluetooth LE is really interesting for instrumentation, I have the TI eval kits and plan future projects around these.

Interestingly speech output is asked for quite often, the hardware here could support some of that even natively  Hmmm. A probe that nags  ;D ?! Again, on the future feature list.

Regards -

Mark
 

Offline markhen

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@GiskardReventlov

Thanks for the reminder, and yes, limit the feature creep! Repeat, repeat...!

I hope folks following along with this thread aren't losing sight of the REAL VALUE of tiq. The linked YouTube video shows most of this value:

The ability to make measurements around an embedded circuit and get logic, voltage and timing information by just touching the probe to pins - no selections or adjustments required.

We just don't have another tool that does this! So tiq might have a connector you don't love, a color you don't like and doesn't measure cosmic radiation, but I betcha it'll save you time and frustration which will make those nits insignificantly itchy!

Here's the video again:

Onwards and upwards -

Mark
« Last Edit: April 21, 2014, 07:08:06 am by markhen »
 

Offline tom66

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Got a picture of what the current hardware looks like, or a design plan? I'd like to see layout and component quality. Might consider the KS version myself.
 

Offline markhen

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NSFW (lol just kidding) - tiq porn!!!

It took longer than I expected for y'all to ask for the porn pictures! Thanks to tom66 for breaking the ice!

Here in all it's naked glory is the current proto rev of tiq. Case is 3D printed by Shapeways, design is intended for injection molding. There are 5 complete copies of this rev of tiq (Rev 2).

Also attached is a family picture showing the inspirational logic probe (green), Rev 0 (boxy), Rev 1 (bigger black buttons).

The KS model will be different in a number of detail ways, with the basic circuit, software and enclosure concepts enhanced (no fundamental changes).

Enjoy  :P

Regards -

Mark
 

Offline electronic_eel

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Is the tip you are using a custom made piece or is it commonly available at Digikey, Mouser,...? Tips wear out with time, so it would be good if they were easily replaceable.
 

Offline janoc

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So, my suggestion is to stick with the micro-usb connector, but don't expect them to use only a USB hub to power it.  You should also supply a lightweight power clip with micro-usb on one end and croc clips or grabbers on the other end for powering it from the DUT.  Use a lightweight 24-26 gauge, black/red stranded twisted pair or zip cord wire so it's flexible.

Micro-USB is probably the least robust of any USB connectors. The cable will fall out whenever you move the device after the connector has worn out a little bit. That is a really bad idea that will make people hate you rather quickly. If you want to keep USB for power, then mini USB is a much better (more mechanically robust) option.

However, I would really strongly suggest to find a way to power the device from something else than a "plugpack" and an USB connector. A battery, barrel jack, even two wires on 0.1" pin headers, I don't care, just not an USB cable hanging off a flimsy connector.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2014, 10:09:12 am by janoc »
 

Offline tom66

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If you're set on a mini USB port please use one with through hole mounting as the SMD ones get broken too easily.
Also I'm guessing most of the electronics are on the bottom or under the LCD?
 

Offline London Lad

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I love the tiq idea as a whole but the need for a USB lead hanging out the back for power would kill it for me.

It's annoying for bench work and a deal killer out and about fault finding. You simply have to remember to take too much stuff.

PLEASE make a battery version from the get go or if you REALLY feel the need for USB (for power) then do away with the socket and use a retained and very flexible silicone cable.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2014, 06:37:48 pm by London Lad »
 

Offline codeboy2k

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Micro-USB is probably the least robust of any USB connectors. The cable will fall out whenever you move the device after the connector has worn out a little bit. That is a really bad idea that will make people hate you rather quickly. If you want to keep USB for power, then mini USB is a much better (more mechanically robust) option.

However, I would really strongly suggest to find a way to power the device from something else than a "plugpack" and an USB connector. A battery, barrel jack, even two wires on 0.1" pin headers, I don't care, just not an USB cable hanging off a flimsy connector.

I think having USB functionality on the device either now (for firmware updates) or in the future for data transfers is a good thing. So it makes no sense to have two power connectors and only adds to the cost. 

Micro-USB is designed to be more robust than Mini-USB. It has a positive retention latch; that shouldn't wear out after time, if it does than I blame that on crappy connectors; Note to OP.. don't go cheap on the connector :)

If you're set on a mini USB port please use one with through hole mounting as the SMD ones get broken too easily.
Also I'm guessing most of the electronics are on the bottom or under the LCD?

This is probably the single largest micro-usb failure seen to date; it's definitely a requirement to use a PTH connector here, or it will break away far too soon leaving the OP with plenty of angry customers. The tiq's connector will see high levels of lateral stress, torquing stress and rotational stress during its daily use.  The mounting here needs to be strong. 

The other option is to go with a thin lipo pack from the outset and just use the USB for charging not for powering the device.



 

Offline janoc

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Micro-USB is designed to be more robust than Mini-USB. It has a positive retention latch; that shouldn't wear out after time, if it does than I blame that on crappy connectors; Note to OP.. don't go cheap on the connector :)

Being designed and actual practical experience are different things. The latch you are mentioning is a little piece of bent metal that wears out over time. Both my phone and tablet have issues with holding a cable inside of their micro-USB connectors. Whenever the device moves, the cable will fall out sooner or later once the connectors are worn out a bit. If a probe connector was behaving like the connector on my 4 years old phone, the probe would take the shortest route to trash bin, because it would be constantly dropping out during use. This doesn't happen with mini-USB due to the larger surface area, thus more friction holding the connectors together.

Anyhow, there is no problem to use micro-USB for data connection (which is connected every once in a while), but don't use it with a stiff cable for power. That's a really horrible idea.

 

Offline 8086

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This doesn't happen with mini-USB due to the larger surface area, thus more friction holding the connectors together.

Well, it does happen, actually.

And the microUSB standard has the latch on the cable, not the device, so if it does wear out you need a new cable, not a new device.

MicroUSB is better, you just need to be able to leave the past behind and understand that smaller doesn't mean worse.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2014, 11:36:03 pm by 8086 »
 

Offline markhen

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@electronic_eel:

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Is the tip you are using a custom made piece or is it commonly available at Digikey, Mouser,...? Tips wear out with time, so it would be good if they were easily replaceable.

The prototypes (as shown in photos above) use a stock tip from a very well known US manufacturer.

Evaluating a few other ideas, with long life and replace-ability high on the requirements list.

Good point -

Mark
 

Offline markhen

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Thanks for all the inputs on the power connector, everything being seriously considered as beta units go out to users.

Moving on, do readers have any questions about the functionality of tiq?

To recap, tiq features:

- Probe any pin in your embedded circuit and get useful information without any adjustments or function/range switching!
- Compact, light, handheld probe
with displays close to probe tip (prototypes are 100mm x 30mm, 15mm)
- High performance pulse analyzer (frequency to 20MHz, pulse high/low measurement times to <100nS)
- Logic state analyzer with logic state displays on LCD and LED, 3.3V and 5V logic level discrimination, and logic state voltage measurement
- Programmable pulse generator (continuous or "n" pulses on button push, pulse high/low time from <100nS to 999mS)
- DC voltmeter for checking power supplies, motor drives etc. 28Vdc to -13Vdc

Note that to have this sort of pulse generation capability alone you'd have to buy a >$250 instrument!

Regards -

Mark


 

Offline markhen

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@tom66:

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Also I'm guessing most of the electronics are on the bottom or under the LCD?

The board is single sided (no components on bottom). As noted earlier, all of tiq's functionality is implemented inside a single Cypress pSoC 5LP device (in a QFN64 package). This is located under the LCD in the photos of the Rev. 2 prototype above. This LCD connects to the PCB with an FPC cable/connector (it just sits above the pSoC and is retained by the features you see on the inside of the case top).

Regards -

Mark
 


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