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Offline hamishmorley

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Minima Kickstarter
« on: March 23, 2021, 04:44:17 pm »
Hi Guys,

Here is a link to my Kickstarter that I am launching tomorrow (24rd March) at 16:30 GMT!

https://tinyurl.com/minimaproject

I am hoping to start producing a tiny Arduino-compatible board in a surface mount format.


The goal of this project is to inspire new people to embark on designing their own small, custom PCB's without the stress of soldering 0402's and QFNP's,
as well as to provide a useful tool for people wanting to rapidly prototype ideas.

Feel free to make any comments/ask any questions on here - I will be replying quickly!

Oh, and set a reminder for 24rd March at 16:30 if you are interested  ;)

 
« Last Edit: March 23, 2021, 09:24:38 pm by hamishmorley »
 

Online SiliconWizard

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Re: Minima Kickstarter
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2021, 06:21:59 pm »
I am hoping to start producing a new, tiny Arduino-compatible board in a surface mount format with a ton of GPIO!


I haven't seen anything much about your project apart from this picture, but judging from it and the number of castellated pads, "a ton of GPIO" sounds a bit overinflated.
 

Offline hamishmorley

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Re: Minima Kickstarter
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2021, 06:31:01 pm »
Sorry, I meant a large amount of GPIO pins for the size of the board itself. The board is only 19.8mm by 16.6mm.
Have edited the original post
 

Offline crossroad

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Re: Minima Kickstarter
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2021, 06:37:44 pm »
How much will it cost? What makes this better than the other SMT mountable boards?

Offline hamishmorley

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Re: Minima Kickstarter
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2021, 07:01:31 pm »
For 1 board, the price will be £16 (22USD), however if you buy more than one the price per board is less.

I will be including a free breakout board for most rewards as well. I have attached an image of this.

What makes Minima special compared to other SMT boards?
  • Number of IO pins for the size of the board
  • Ease of soldering - large pads with a 2.54mm pitch. Often SMT boards have really small pads with small spacing making them difficult to solder
  • No external components needed - Minima has components which other boards in the same size range lack, such as a crystal, ESD suppressor and reset button
  • No USB - Although this seems counter-intuitive, i've found that when designing small projects for Minima, you can save a lot of space without it
 

Offline woofy

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Re: Minima Kickstarter
« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2021, 09:36:07 pm »
In a world where we can get 4 x Pi Pico or 10 x ESP32 for the same price, that's a tough crowded market you're trying to break into.
You'll sell some, but think you may struggle to get significant sales.

Offline crossroad

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Re: Minima Kickstarter
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2021, 10:07:18 pm »
In a world where we can get 4 x Pi Pico or 10 x ESP32 for the same price

You can get a Teensy 4.0 for just $20 - I think this needs to be much cheaper to really stand a chance of some adoption. Teensy 4.0 is bigger, sure, but has unimaginable performance compared to most microcontrollers

Also the features seem pretty specific - sacrifice USB for small size but still use 2.54mm pitch connectors? Just wondering, what does the reset button offer for its footprint? If this is arduino supported I don't imagine one would want to reset it all that often

Furthermore, one of my projects is a bit longer (2x2.54mm to be specific) but only costs 80 cents! :D
I know it's much less performant though, as its based on STM8
https://csw.cx/assets/projects/coda/coda-7-pre-asy-close-1.png
« Last Edit: March 23, 2021, 10:12:11 pm by crossroad »
 

Offline hamishmorley

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Re: Minima Kickstarter
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2021, 11:03:41 pm »
Thank you for the advice, I can totally see where you are coming from. I have a bit of lee-way with the pricing so I will reduce the pricing before launch tomorrow. It is amazing the cost of ESP32's and RP Pico and is practically impossible to compete in terms of pricing unless the order size is massive!

In terms of the reset button, I included it as I have had issues with the native USB on other SAMD21 based boards and often the reset button is useful in recovering the board without re-flashing the bootloader.

This is my first Kickstarter and I knew it would be a learning experience, I really appreciate all the comments. :)

 

Offline MK14

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Re: Minima Kickstarter
« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2021, 11:08:44 pm »
No USB - Although this seems counter-intuitive, i've found that when designing small projects for Minima, you can save a lot of space without it

If it hasn't got a USB connector on it, like most of those similar tiny MCU boards do have. Then how do you envisage users conveniently/quickly/easily programming it, especially when it is "in-circuit". I.e. somewhat permanently soldered into some electronic project ?
 
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Offline crossroad

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Re: Minima Kickstarter
« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2021, 11:13:10 pm »
No USB - Although this seems counter-intuitive, i've found that when designing small projects for Minima, you can save a lot of space without it

If it hasn't got a USB connector on it, like most of those similar tiny MCU boards do have. Then how do you envisage users conveniently/quickly/easily programming it, especially when it is "in-circuit". I.e. somewhat permanently soldered into some electronic project ?

Just speculating but a breakout board might be necessary. Looking at the breakout board, the data pins of the micro usb are wired up to something (so not just power)

Also to OP - you might want to try specializing with future projects, offering something special and unique instead of "yet another small-ish general purpose microcontroller board."

Best of luck with the kickstarter tomorrow! :)
« Last Edit: March 23, 2021, 11:15:26 pm by crossroad »
 
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Offline sleemanj

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Re: Minima Kickstarter
« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2021, 11:46:02 pm »
If you are targetting at Arduino, and it's an intended to be board-on-board design (castellated), IMHO programming support on board is mandatory, be it USB or just easy headers for a specific programmer pinout (which you should also sell or have reliable supplier of to point people to). 

The entire point of a module like this is to move the common factors to the module to make it easy to drop into a project, programming headers are a common factor.

The price is pretty high for a one-project-per-board (again, board-on-board intended so once it's committed to a project there's not really any going back), but that is to be expected for a low volume not made in china design. 

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EEVBlog Members - get yourself 10% discount off all my electronic components for sale just use the Buy Direct links and use Coupon Code "eevblog" during checkout.  Shipping from New Zealand, international orders welcome :-)
 
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Offline hamishmorley

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Re: Minima Kickstarter
« Reply #11 on: March 24, 2021, 04:51:10 pm »
No USB - Although this seems counter-intuitive, i've found that when designing small projects for Minima, you can save a lot of space without it

If it hasn't got a USB connector on it, like most of those similar tiny MCU boards do have. Then how do you envisage users conveniently/quickly/easily programming it, especially when it is "in-circuit". I.e. somewhat permanently soldered into some electronic project ?

Just speculating but a breakout board might be necessary. Looking at the breakout board, the data pins of the micro usb are wired up to something (so not just power)

Also to OP - you might want to try specializing with future projects, offering something special and unique instead of "yet another small-ish general purpose microcontroller board."

Best of luck with the kickstarter tomorrow! :)

Yes the breakout board has a Micro USB which you can program the board with and provides power.

I agree about specializing with future projects and have ideas for more innovative future members to the Minima family :)

Kickstarter is live now and there is a lot more information on there if anyone is interested in taking a look!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/hamishmorley/minima-accelerate-your-ideas-into-products
 

Offline hamishmorley

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Re: Minima Kickstarter
« Reply #12 on: March 24, 2021, 04:55:04 pm »
No USB - Although this seems counter-intuitive, i've found that when designing small projects for Minima, you can save a lot of space without it

If it hasn't got a USB connector on it, like most of those similar tiny MCU boards do have. Then how do you envisage users conveniently/quickly/easily programming it, especially when it is "in-circuit". I.e. somewhat permanently soldered into some electronic project ?

The board is aimed for use in custom PCB's so the user can either solder a USB connector onto their board, have some test pads and use pogo pins to program the board, or they can just cut an old USB cable and solder this directly to the USB pads on the board.
 

Offline hamishmorley

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Re: Minima Kickstarter
« Reply #13 on: March 24, 2021, 05:00:07 pm »
If you are targetting at Arduino, and it's an intended to be board-on-board design (castellated), IMHO programming support on board is mandatory, be it USB or just easy headers for a specific programmer pinout (which you should also sell or have reliable supplier of to point people to). 

The entire point of a module like this is to move the common factors to the module to make it easy to drop into a project, programming headers are a common factor.

The price is pretty high for a one-project-per-board (again, board-on-board intended so once it's committed to a project there's not really any going back), but that is to be expected for a low volume not made in china design.

There is Native USB support within the SAMD21 chip and with the pre-installed bootloader you just plug straight into your computer, install the board for Arduino IDE and program  :)
See the pin diagram below or visit my Kickstarter for more information!

Regarding price - yes, it is very difficult to produce a low cost product in such a small volume.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2021, 05:06:07 pm by hamishmorley »
 

Online SiliconWizard

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Re: Minima Kickstarter
« Reply #14 on: March 24, 2021, 05:08:24 pm »
I wouldn't discourage the OP with this project. Sure there already are tons of similar boards. Sure a number of them are cheaper. But variety is good. As long as the project has something a bit different that might appeal to some, then why not really.

I haven't seen many similar boards with this MCU, to begin with. So that might interest people willing to work with/evaluate the ATSAMD21.
The small size and form factor may also interest some.

Now I still have some suggestions, some of which having already been made:
  • If the board is designed to be soldered on another PCB with castellations, going for a smaller pitch, and offering more GPIOs broken out, would probably be a good idea. A pitch of 1.27mm, for instance, would just double the number of pads with the same board size, and is still easy to hand-solder - it's also still large enough that PCB cost should not be a problem. (A 2.54mm pitch would have made more sense if you were using pin headers instead of castellations.)
  • I don't know all the details of your project, but offering different versions of the board with different models of MCU (if they are pin-compatible) could also be a plus. I don't know the ATSAM line well enough yet, but if, for instance, there is a Cortex-M4 available with the same package and pin-compatible, that could complement your offering with something a bit beefier.
 

Offline crossroad

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Re: Minima Kickstarter
« Reply #15 on: March 24, 2021, 05:23:09 pm »
I didn't bring this up because I couldn't recall the name, but there's a similar thing by Sean Hodgins - same chip family (I think) and similar formfactor

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/idlehandsdev/hcc-mod-ready-to-solder-arduino-module

Offline hamishmorley

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Re: Minima Kickstarter
« Reply #16 on: March 24, 2021, 05:25:17 pm »
I wouldn't discourage the OP with this project. Sure there already are tons of similar boards. Sure a number of them are cheaper. But variety is good. As long as the project has something a bit different that might appeal to some, then why not really.

I haven't seen many similar boards with this MCU, to begin with. So that might interest people willing to work with/evaluate the ATSAMD21.
The small size and form factor may also interest some.

Now I still have some suggestions, some of which having already been made:
  • If the board is designed to be soldered on another PCB with castellations, going for a smaller pitch, and offering more GPIOs broken out, would probably be a good idea. A pitch of 1.27mm, for instance, would just double the number of pads with the same board size, and is still easy to hand-solder - it's also still large enough that PCB cost should not be a problem. (A 2.54mm pitch would have made more sense if you were using pin headers instead of castellations.)
  • I don't know all the details of your project, but offering different versions of the board with different models of MCU (if they are pin-compatible) could also be a plus. I don't know the ATSAM line well enough yet, but if, for instance, there is a Cortex-M4 available with the same package and pin-compatible, that could complement your offering with something a bit beefier.

Thank you - really useful hearing everyone's comments. Yes, I think for future projects 1.27mm pitch would be more suitable - take a look at the NRF52840, I think that's the route I will probably go down. Its based around a Cortex M4 and has Bluetooth/Zigbee
 

Online SiliconWizard

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Re: Minima Kickstarter
« Reply #17 on: March 24, 2021, 05:27:31 pm »
I didn't bring this up because I couldn't recall the name, but there's a similar thing by Sean Hodgins - same chip family (I think) and similar formfactor

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/idlehandsdev/hcc-mod-ready-to-solder-arduino-module

It looks spookily similar indeed... Even the odd reset button is there. The OP's board is just a tiny bit smaller.
 

Offline crossroad

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Re: Minima Kickstarter
« Reply #18 on: March 24, 2021, 05:32:31 pm »
I wouldn't discourage the OP with this project. Sure there already are tons of similar boards. Sure a number of them are cheaper. But variety is good. As long as the project has something a bit different that might appeal to some, then why not really.

I haven't seen many similar boards with this MCU, to begin with. So that might interest people willing to work with/evaluate the ATSAMD21.
The small size and form factor may also interest some.

Now I still have some suggestions, some of which having already been made:
  • If the board is designed to be soldered on another PCB with castellations, going for a smaller pitch, and offering more GPIOs broken out, would probably be a good idea. A pitch of 1.27mm, for instance, would just double the number of pads with the same board size, and is still easy to hand-solder - it's also still large enough that PCB cost should not be a problem. (A 2.54mm pitch would have made more sense if you were using pin headers instead of castellations.)
  • I don't know all the details of your project, but offering different versions of the board with different models of MCU (if they are pin-compatible) could also be a plus. I don't know the ATSAM line well enough yet, but if, for instance, there is a Cortex-M4 available with the same package and pin-compatible, that could complement your offering with something a bit beefier.

Thank you - really useful hearing everyone's comments. Yes, I think for future projects 1.27mm pitch would be more suitable - take a look at the NRF52840, I think that's the route I will probably go down. Its based around a Cortex M4 and has Bluetooth/Zigbee

You might be able to check out OSHChip for some inspiration or direction if you're planning to go the ultra compact nRF route. I don't own one but I've heard good things about it from my friends
http://oshchip.org/

Offline NorthGuy

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Re: Minima Kickstarter
« Reply #19 on: March 24, 2021, 05:39:10 pm »
I wouldn't discourage the OP with this project. Sure there already are tons of similar boards. Sure a number of them are cheaper. But variety is good. As long as the project has something a bit different that might appeal to some, then why not really.

I don't like products which appeal to people's laziness.

If you want to build something really small, you're not going to waste the space on huge soldering pads and useless reset button, you are not going to increase thickness by mounting an extra PCB on top of yours. IMHO this product don't save space, but wastes it. And what for? Because you're lazy and don't want to solder the IC directly? Then just pay for the board assembly, which will be a fraction of the cost of this product.
 

Offline crossroad

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Re: Minima Kickstarter
« Reply #20 on: March 24, 2021, 05:51:24 pm »
OP were you aware of HCC MOD? I feel like there's some parallels between your project and Sean's, the layout of the kickstarter feels a little similar too

It does look like you used a varient of SAMD21 with more memory though

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/idlehandsdev/hcc-mod-ready-to-solder-arduino-module

Offline hamishmorley

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Re: Minima Kickstarter
« Reply #21 on: March 24, 2021, 06:39:45 pm »
I developed the product for myself originally for use in my own projects and then had the idea to launch it on Kickstarter and I came across his when I was writing the Kickstarter and looking at previous projects. He had some really good ways of showing the product so some aspects of the page is inspired by him definitely :)

I wish I had seen his project before I made the board as would have done something a bit more different!
 

Offline hamishmorley

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Re: Minima Kickstarter
« Reply #22 on: March 24, 2021, 06:44:57 pm »

You might be able to check out OSHChip for some inspiration or direction if you're planning to go the ultra compact nRF route. I don't own one but I've heard good things about it from my friends
http://oshchip.org/

Never seen this before but it looks really cool, I'll have a bit more of a look into the nRF chips but i'm pretty sure its only the 52840 with native usb support
 

Offline MK14

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Re: Minima Kickstarter
« Reply #23 on: March 25, 2021, 11:42:55 am »
The board is aimed for use in custom PCB's so the user can either solder a USB connector onto their board, have some test pads and use pogo pins to program the board, or they can just cut an old USB cable and solder this directly to the USB pads on the board.

That is a reasonable point/idea, no onboard USB, allows it to be small/compact, and optimised for installation on someones custom PCB.
On the other hand, your board would have had more potential usage options and hence potential customers/market-share. If it had some kind of direct USB connector, or option via PCB pads and/or two different versions, one with and one without a fitted USB connector.

I suppose time will tell, if the price point you have set, and it being somewhat/partly USB less (as it stands), matters or not, by the success of your currently active kickstarter campaign.

I don't think the price is too unreasonable, although I still think it is on the rather high side, especially for mass/bulk sales. Because, although the Raspberry PI PICO (standard edition), is around $4/£3.60+, its smaller decedents (by other manufactures, but still the RP2040 PICO chip/mcu), are around double or more that price (e.g. $8.50), and some even more specialized versions are much higher priced, still.

I.e. Although you can get cheap mcu boards for say $2 (prices seem to have been going up though, in recent times). The price rapidly increases (e.g. doubles, for each improvement. i.e. x2 quality, x4 quality+Arm, x8 price quality+Decent-spec'd-Arm+tiny-size, etc etc), as you go for quality (i.e. NOT cheap Chinese), Arm rather than 8 bit Arduino AVR series, Tiny size, various specialized versions, e.g. Includes wi-fi.

Your main selling points seem to be somewhat low power consumption (without having to perform time-consuming and sometimes difficult software optimizations, to use various low power sleep and similar modes), at 10mA (i.e. battery powered and wanting reasonable battery life). Reasonable capabilities being an Arm, and Arduino compatibility. Plus tiny size.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2021, 11:51:36 am by MK14 »
 

Offline Jan Audio

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Re: Minima Kickstarter
« Reply #24 on: March 25, 2021, 04:41:41 pm »
 


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