Author Topic: tiq probe - did not fund on Kickstarter - but will be going into production!  (Read 47876 times)

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Offline markhen

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tiq did not meet its goal on Kickstarter June 1st, 2014. However, I am determined to continue development of this concept and deliver to the electronics community. I will update as progress is made!!

Best regards to all -

Mark

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tiq will be visiting the Bay Area Maker Faire May 17-18! Please email tiq@innavatus.com or tweet to @Innavatus if you'd like to see tiq!

Regards -

Mark

============================
Many thanks t the thousands (!) of EEVbloggers who viewed and commented on tiq over the last couple of weeks!

As promised, you are the first community to be notified - tiq is going live on KS today (I'm pushing the button in the next hour, not sure how long takes KS to activate!?!)!!!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1866698905/tiq-probe-a-new-way-to-debug-electronics-projects

Your continued support and encouragement is hugely appreciated!

Best regards and thanks -

Mark

=============================


Greetings, fellow EEVbloggers!

I’m preparing to launch a Kickstarter campaign and wanted to preview it here on the forum. I’ll post the link when the campaign goes live.

The product is a handheld debug probe called “tiq”.

tiq is intended as a first-line and field tool, not a replacement for other tools, to give fast, detailed information for zeroing in on problems – many times it should be all you need.

(edit April 18) This one minute video shows what tiq does: http://youtu.be/aNhjCvGdqkA

As an electronics hobbyist and professional, for decades I wanted a handheld probe that could give fast and detailed information about embedded projects I was working on, where I was working on them.

I wanted something that would fill the gap between DMM/probe and scope/analyzer, with good performance, and fit into a compact probe. tiq is aimed directly at that gap. I also wanted ability to generate test pulse streams to drive circuits, servos etc.

So, here's what tiq offers:

- Handheld, displays all information close to the probe tip (if you look away, the probe WILL slip!)
- Automatic function switching based on node activity, fully autoranging - no adjustments or triggering required
- Logic state probe with LCD, LED and audible indicators (l21st Century logic probe)
- Logic pulse analyzer (frequency, pulse high & low times, duty cycle)
      - DC to 20MHz, pulse analysis down to <100nS (66MHz sample rate)
- Auto-ranging and auto-polarity voltmeter (+28Vdc to -13Vdc)
- Built-in logic pulse generator
      - <100nS to 999mS, n pulses or continuous (66MHz clock)
      -  3.3V or 5V logic levels
- USB powered - connect directly to your development PC, USB battery etc.

I’m attaching pictures of a prototype tiq and a chart comparing tiq to common debug tools – appreciate your thoughts.

Looking forward hearing where this tool fits with the EEVblog community!

Cheers –

Mark
« Last Edit: June 03, 2014, 09:41:05 pm by markhen »
 

Offline dunkemhigh

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Sounds interesting - I might be tempted to let a few dollars escape my grasp :)

What's the ballpark cost going to be?
 

Offline Bored@Work

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I delete PMs unread. If you have something to say, say it in public.
For all else: Profile->[Modify Profile]Buddies/Ignore List->Edit Ignore List
 

Offline markhen

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dunkemhigh:

The early-bird Kickstarter price is going to be USD $79.

Bored@Work:

I should describe tiq a little more, because tiq really is not like the examples you give (but thanks for the words of encouragement ;-) !!). You'll see in the PDF attached to my first post a lot more comparison information to illustrate.

SuperProbe is a great DIY probe - I own one. It has a 4 digit 7 segment display, many manually selectable modes that run one at a time, and implements everything in firmware on a 20MHz PIC. Highly recommended for a cool weekend DIY project.

tiq displays state, timing and voltage information on a 32 character LCD, an RGB LED and with audio tones, automatically changes modes depending on what you probe (state display <-> pulse analysis display <-> voltmeter), runs the pulse generator independently of the analyzers, and implements all the performance critical functions on a 66MHz pSoC 5LP in HARDWARE (pSoC features reconfigurable digital AND analog hardware!).

Thanks for the links on the handheld oscilloscopes - tiq is definitely not a handlheld 'scope, nor is it trying to be one.

Handheld 'scopes will always suffer from the "severely cramped screen syndrome", and usually have limited performance, too. There's no surprise the RPS2050 'scope you link was a commercial failure - at $255 with a 128x64 1.1" display it was certain! For that money you can get a great performing Hantek DSO5072P or equivalent! No, tiq is not trying to be this.

The classic Wittig/Radio Shack handheld 'scope has an even lower resolution screen (16 x 32 !!!) and low bandwidth (yes, I own one of these, too...). I don't agree it was a commercial failure, they sold a bunch, and there was a slightly-larger screen model, too. People talk about it with that glow we old electronics buffs usually reserve for glowing LED displays.... Plus, if you can find one in good condition, snap it up, it's becoming a collector's item :-)

gabotronics apparently does a steady trade in small format 'scopes, and has had 3 successful KS campaigns, and DSO Quads seems to fly off the shelves, so let's not paint all small format scopes with the same brush - there is demand for them.

tiq sidesteps the handheld-'scope-small-display trap and uses it's displays to show logic states (5V and 3.3V), high performance pulse analysis (freq, high, low, duty - to 20MHz and sub-100nS for period measurements) and voltmeter - automatically, autoranging, without adjustments or triggering. And, unlike small format scopes, all the displays are right at the probe tip!

I've been hacking for over 40 years, and the reason I made tiq - originally for myself - is that there really hasn't been anything like it - ever :-)

Regards -

Mark
 

Offline dunkemhigh

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The early-bird Kickstarter price is going to be USD $79

Cool. The primary problem, from my view, of the rps thing B@W mentions was price: we are talking serious wonga for something you may or may not find useful. But at $79 I'd buy one right now  :-+
 

Offline Neganur

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I think you're giving yourself too good grades in your comparison pdf. Everything is top marks, is this advertisement or an honest display of the capabilities?

Better than an DSO to visualise >30 ns pulses on that tiny LCD? The very thing a DSO is a DSO for?
A DSO has a hard time to trigger on low duty cycle signals?
Mixed logic levels? I don't understand the use of this, if you're measuring different busses, what's stopping you from changing the threshold on the other instruments?
What is marginal logic level? If it is marginal it is out of spec (runt pulse?) or maybe I just misunderstand the purpose?

Perhaps define the measurement types a bit better, e.g. you compare against common instruments but you choose awkward measurements like finding floating connections, ease of use (but you really mean, auto setting, auto scale, is this really preferable?), but is that why I reach out for that instrument?

Perhaps also lower the amount of given grades from 3 positives and 1 negative to positive/neutral/negative, e.g.  +/ N.A. / - or similar.



« Last Edit: April 17, 2014, 12:00:51 pm by Neganur »
 

Offline markhen

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Neganur:

Thanks for the great inputs and questions. Yes, this is an honest display of capabilities, but please excuse some of my paternal enthusiasm  :) I suppose this is an advertisement, since I'm asking people to back the project on Kickstarter, but I honestly believe tiq is a really novel and useful tool - I had the idea for decades, but I couldn't build it as compactly and low cost as I wanted until some of the great stuff we have now came along.

I've been using prototype tiqs to debug projects for the last 6 months, I realized that lots of other folks could get as much benefit from this little thing as I am, so I decided to KS it and hope that many other makers/hackers can have one, too!

Your ideas on the PDF comparison are well taken - I have revised it with your inputs in mind! Thank you (attached here).

Quote
Perhaps also lower the amount of given grades

Great suggestion, thanks. I picked "I'll reach for it every time" (green), "I"ll use it often" (orange), and "I probably won't use it?" (red). Disclaimer: tiq gets more greens with this (much more useful) scoring method  ;)

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Better than an DSO to visualise >30 ns pulses on that tiny LCD? The very thing a DSO is a DSO for?

tiq doesn't visualize pulses (like a 'scope does), but it will give you the pulse timing instantly by just probing a pin (freq, high, low time and duty %). The DSO is of course excellent at visualizing, good at measuring, but in a  situation like "let me look at what the signal timing is on this pin" tiq will give you an answer faster and easier than a DSO! Truly! And in common cases it will be a LOT easier and faster than with a 'scope/DSO - like low duty cycles, single pulses, moving through a circuit with widely differing timings etc.

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A DSO has a hard time to trigger on low duty cycle signals?

I find even on DSOs it's hard to see very low duty cycle signals (very common in embedded circuits). Yes, triggering can be difficult, especially when you're not sure what you're looking for (like while debugging!). And of course viewing narrow pulses separated by long times requires zooming in and out to see each part - for VERY low duty you might not even be able to see the narrow pulse at all when zoomed out (although triggered). Since tiq only has to display the numbers it doesn't care if they are orders of magnitude different!

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Mixed logic levels? I don't understand the use of this, if you're measuring different busses, what's stopping you from changing the threshold on the other instruments?

Yes, you can change the range or threshold on other instruments, but on tiq you don't need to - it's automatic! That's the beauty!

Quote
What is marginal logic level? If it is marginal it is out of spec (runt pulse?) or maybe I just misunderstand the purpose?

Sorry, I did not explain this (it's now in the PDF) - I mean logic levels that are very close to the thresholds - most usual example being heavily loaded outputs. This can lead to lots of intermittent and hard to catch problems. tiq shows you the logic level interpretation (based on built-in thresholds), plus the actual node voltage, and an "analog bar graph" to visualize how close the node is to the thresholds. Convenient, handy, automatic.

Quote
you choose awkward measurements like finding floating connections, ease of use (but you really mean, auto setting, auto scale, is this really preferable?), but is that why I reach out for that instrument?

Yes! Exactly! That is why you reach out for tiq! It's a debug tool, born from the callouses on my gnarled old hands (and too many late night debug sessions)!!!

Thanks again, and happy debugging.

Mark
 

Offline GiskardReventlov

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What's the proper etiquette to wish someone well on a Kickstarter campain? Break a leg? or Good luck?
Take either or.

I like the idea. The display's got to be bigger. I might even like to have it be detachable so I can set it in an easy to read location/position.

 

Offline markhen

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GiskardReventlov:

Thank you! I appreciate the wish of luck and your endorsement of the idea.

Quote
The display's got to be bigger. I might even like to have it be detachable so I can set it in an easy to read location/position.

I have "old eyes" so really appreciate display size issue... My "prime directive" for tiq is "place all the information displays as close to the probe tip as possible so you don't have to  look away". Part of the logic (no pun intended) is that if you're squinting at a very tiny pin to place the probe, having a small-ish display nearby isn't going to strain your eyes any more than that dang pin is already!!

The RGB LED is used to illuminate the probe, and the color indicates the state of the pin - so you don't have to look at the LCD display with static nodes (white=float, green = low, cyan = 3.3V high, blue = 5V high, yellow=pulsing, red = non-logic voltage).

So that's how tiq ended up looking like this. The display is very readable (good contrast, with a soft backlight glow), albeit "compact"!

I'm planning future models, option of external displays is now on that list, thanks.

Don't let the smoke out -

Mark


 

Offline uprightsquire

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Are you left handed?

Thats screens going to be hard to see when its in your right hand.
 

Offline markhen

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Are you left handed? Thats screens going to be hard to see when its in your right hand.

Ha! Yes! You spotted it! So far 100% of tiqs have been for left handers (well, one left hander...).

The Kickstarter tiq will be available in right handed and left handed models (same price).

Left on -

Mark
 

Offline markhen

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Here's a short video (just over one minute) that shows tiq in action - it should help answer all the questions above - please check it out if you're interested in a new way to test your circuits:

http://youtu.be/aNhjCvGdqkA

Cheers -

Mark


 

Offline CanadianAvenger

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if you replace the text matrix LCD with a small graphic one [they run about the same price] you can use an accelerometer or other orientation sensor to flip the image on the display, this way you don't need left and right-handed versions.
 

Offline dunkemhigh

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Good idea with the LCD, but the controls and LED would be on the bottom face and tricky to use.

Maybe he could be an LCD on each side - sometimes even right handers will want to hold it left handed.
 

Offline codeboy2k

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What's the proper etiquette to wish someone well on a Kickstarter campain? Break a leg? or Good luck?
Take either or.

I like the idea. The display's got to be bigger. I might even like to have it be detachable so I can set it in an easy to read location/position.

This is my one beef with probes like this... The vertical display while you're probing vertically, so you have to read sideways, and then sometimes there's room glare so you can't read it, so you have to twist it about until you can read it... and then in doing so you risk a short on your board that way...

voice would be nice :)

or a probe that sends its data to a local server that can be viewed by a google glass wearer :) finally a good use for glass...


 

Offline codeboy2k

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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 for some type of work, but due to my personal preference I don't like those large probes with displays you read from the side :)

I won't be buying one, but good luck with your kickstarter .. Break a lead!  :)


« Last Edit: April 18, 2014, 10:52:29 pm by codeboy2k »
 

Offline janoc

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This sounds interesting, I am actually looking at replacing 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 analyzer when I only need to quickly check something.

However:

* Does it do short pulse extension for logic signals? This is an absolutely essential feature for capturing non-periodic signals - e.g. that elusive CS or strobe signal. One very neat way to do this is a simple 4 bit counter as opposed to a monostable flip-flop - in that way any spurious signals (e.g. switch bounce) are immediately visible.

* Please make it possible to power it from the target circuit. Something like 3.3-15V input would be perfect. USB is cool and whatever, but it is not available everywhere, tying the ground of the DUT to the ground of your PC may be undesirable (noise, ground loops, galvanic isolation, etc.) and I have certainly more places around where to hook a crocodile clip than an USB plug. If you want USB power, keep it as an option, but not the only one.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2014, 11:53:27 pm by janoc »
 

Offline tom66

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How well does it work with intermittent logic signals?

I've only encountered a few types which are continuously repetitive, with no additional modulation. Recently, I'm working on a large scale art installation with 50+ LED PWMs. Something like this would be VERY useful... But over the rest of the PCB, the signals are mostly non-repetitive, clock and data lines for example.

Can it decode things like UART? - auto baud sync would be useful (sometimes difficult to implement though.)  What about 1-wire bus? Obviously wouldn't work with I2C/SPI as you have clock & data - unless you give it a second input but that  takes away from its usability.

It'd be nice to see it with a bright display like a VFD or OLED; the LCD looks hard to read at an angle. At least use a backlit LCD with a high contrast display (please do not use blue & white!!)
 

Offline electronic_eel

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Looks interesting.

Some questions:

  • does the LCD have a backlight?
  • can the logic probe also detect High-Z instead of just high and low?
  • is a fast continuity beeper function included?
  • can it decode UART signals? I mean display the text on the lcd and show the bps 8N1 etc.? This would be very handy when searching for serial ports on unknown devices.
  • why not battery powered? The less wires hanging off, the more easy to use. And USB has the problem with grounding.
  • why just 3.3v and 5v? A lot of modern devices are 1.8V - and you write "21st century"...
« Last Edit: April 19, 2014, 10:58:20 am by electronic_eel »
 

Offline markhen

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@CanadianAvenger, dunkemhigh, codeboy2k, tom66, electronic_eel:

On Displays - "engineering is the art of compromise" - very true when trying to get useful displays into a compact device...

Quote
you can use an accelerometer or other orientation sensor to flip the image on the display, this way you don't need left and right-handed versions.

Yes, definitely looking at this approach for the KS unit, and others (including dunkemhigh's two sided idea, but maybe not codeboy2k's ultimate Google Glass!!?). With a single RH/LH unit it seems always need redundant buttons? Which could be ok if they're not in the way, and/or disabled for accidental pushes when not "on top"? Multiple alternatives on the drawing board right now...

Quote
It'd be nice to see it with a bright display like a VFD or OLED; the LCD looks hard to read at an angle. At least use a backlit LCD with a high contrast display

The current LCD (mini 16x2) has a green backlight, good contrast and decent viewing angle and is pretty readable overall (I have bad over-50 eyes and it works well for me). OLEDs are interesting, but sourcing is a little more tricky (just a little more). High contrast, light emitting and good viewing angles. Some coming in for eval as we talk.

Shine a light on it -

Mark

 

Offline markhen

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@janoc, electronic_eel:

On Power and grounds:

Quote
Please make it possible to power it from the target circuit ...If you want USB power, keep it as an option, but not the only one.

A planned Kickstarter rewards (by itself) and reward levels (provided with a tiq probe) will be a very compact, wide-input (3Vdc - 15Vdc) power supply for tiq - it will have crocodile clips for attachment to DUT (or other supply) and a mini B USB cable to power the tiq. This approach minimizes the heft in the probe and doesn't add to the wires hanging off the back.

Seems USB chargers and ports are ubiquitous these days, and often embedded targets are USB powered from computer (Arduino et al), so for a large number of users tiq's mini USB B power connector should provide a lot of flexibility by itself.

Quote
Why not battery powered?

Battery power is the "most asked for feature" so it is going on the list, although not for the KS model, probably an option for a post-KS model. Originally was going to put this into the first tiq, but didn't really want the extra weight in there, maybe some bulk, long-term maintenance issues of batteries (my first-gen logic probe has lasted 30 years with no maintenance  :-+ ).

When I needed to take proto tiqs into the field I tried out a cheapo USB battery (from that auction site) and found this to be very usable. Another advantage of that USB power - lots and lots of commodity options for power!! Example picture attached.


On Grounding:

For those wondering about ground connections, tiq has 3: 1) through the USB cable (which can be to a floating USB charger or USB battery), 2) one pin of the 3 pin header accessible through the top of the unit near the rear (see attached picture - one of the other pins is the pulse generator output) and 3) pin header adjacent to the probe (see picture).

Keep your feet on the ground -

Mark
 

Offline markhen

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@janoc, tom66, electronic_eel:

On short and non-repetitive signals:

Quote
Does it do short pulse extension for logic signals? This is an absolutely essential feature for capturing non-periodic signals - e.g. that elusive CS or strobe signal.

tiq has a "single shot" acquisition mode (in addition to "continuous" (BTW there are a dozen or so user values entered via menus, these are all saved in EEPROM). In single shot mode, pressing one of the buttons "arms" the pulse capture (see picture attached - SORRY IT'S BLURRY!!). When a pulse is detected (>30nS) the pulse is analyzed and displayed (see picture). If it was a single pulse the "other" pulse time (high or low) will be blank. If there was more than one pulse, the "other" time will be displayed as well. To capture another pulse, press the button to re-arm. This allows you to catch many of those elusive, once-in-a-long time pulses.

Quote
How well does it work with ... non-repetitive signals?

Of course not all signals are repetitive, for data lines and most other types of non-repetitive signals, analog 'scopes, and tiq, only really show that there is logic activity (the pulse analyzer will continue to measure freq, pulse times, duty cycle, but will be constantly changing numbers). DSOs can be frozen to dig in deeper, and of course the logic analyzer is king for data.

So, if you're probing non-repetitive signals, tiq will tell you there's logic activity, then you'll need to use a DSO or logic analyzer if you need to see what the data is. This is in keeping with the general approach of tiq - one convenient instrument to use first to tell you a LOT about the circuit, without adjustments, so you can decide whether to use the higher end instruments on the bench.

Quote
Can it decode things like UART?

Currently, no. tiq has the necessary hardware internally to do this, but UART decode is not implemented, and not planned for the KS model (perhaps for a future tiq model). For me the main sticking point is that in most cases data will scroll off the small screen too fast to be useful? That said, I think a function that could figure out the baud rate, number of bits and parity settings (without data display) could be very useful (as electronic_eel suggests). That would help with getting serial interfaces up and running, for sure.

Apologies about the quality of the attached "screenshots" - done in a hurry with my iPhone!

Mark



 

Offline markhen

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@electronics_eel:

Answering your questions:

Quote
does the LCD have a backlight?

Yes the LCD has a backlight - see also post above for other display-related answers.

Quote
can the logic probe also detect High-Z instead of just high and low?

Yes, tiq detects high-Z conditions - this is a very handy feature of tiq that is not present in most other tools. The probe is WEAKLY pulled to about 0.68V by >1Mohm, so it will be at an illegal logic level if the line is floating. The display will show an "F" (floating), the bar-graph shows it's not a legal L or H, and the voltmeter shows the actual tip voltage. And the RGB LED will be white (like a flashlight  ;) ). See picture attached.

Quote
is a fast continuity beeper function included?

No, there is no continuity function in the KS version of tiq. Perhaps in a future model.

Quote
can it decode UART signals?

No, the KS model will not decode UART signals, see post above.

Quote
why not battery powered? The less wires hanging off, the more easy to use.

Regarding batteries and USB power, please see the post above.

Quote
why just 3.3v and 5v? A lot of modern devices are 1.8V - and you write "21st century"...

Ah, you got me. "21st Century" without 1.8V, eh?! Yes, you are right. I'm looking into offering this the KS models, thanks for the bump  :-+

Thanks for the interest and the great questions -

Mark
 

Offline janoc

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A planned Kickstarter rewards (by itself) and reward levels (provided with a tiq probe) will be a very compact, wide-input (3Vdc - 15Vdc) power supply for tiq - it will have crocodile clips for attachment to DUT (or other supply) and a mini B USB cable to power the tiq. This approach minimizes the heft in the probe and doesn't add to the wires hanging off the back.

Seems USB chargers and ports are ubiquitous these days, and often embedded targets are USB powered from computer (Arduino et al), so for a large number of users tiq's mini USB B power connector should provide a lot of flexibility by itself.

Oh please, don't do this. Having a rather bulky probe *and* a "power brick" connected to it externally is going to be extremely annoying, a real deal breaker, IMO. What is so difficult to just put a regulator/DC-DC converter inside together with an extra connector (e.g. a barrel jack)? I am quite sure it could fit inside just fine and it costs peanuts.

Also mechanically the USB connector is a rather poor choice for a power connector on a moving device - the USB cables tend to be rather bulky and stiff, it will be putting a lot of strain on the connector as you move the probe around. Over time the connector will loosen up and the cable will be dropping out.


 

Offline markhen

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@janoc:

Understand your concerns, truly, and take to heart. Going to field a group of beta test units in the coming weeks and see how this all fares in the hands of users.

I wish there was a single really good solution here, and if we can zero in on that we'll all be winners!?

Quote
Having a rather bulky probe *and* a "power brick" connected to it externally is going to be extremely annoying

tiq says - "my bright red case only makes me LOOK bulky" :( Seriously, everything is being tried to make the KS version as svelte as possible, since we're all worried about a "fat probe" (?!). Believe me, at 100mm x 15mm x 30mm the prototypes are really not that bulky (and I have small hands)! tiq is currently "full", so putting in a DC-DC (with adequate cooling for when you run it off 12V) will add volume.

The "power brick" is actually about 1 cubic inch (15cc) and more of a "bump in the cable" than something you'd put your coffee cup on. It's just a tiny SEPIC converter - but still significant in size vs. the determined-to-lose-bulk-tiq...

Thanks -

Mark


 


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