Hello from Marshall, Michigan, just north of the Kalamazoo river!
This afternoon, we made our way from Hamilton, Ontario to Ann Arbor, Michigan. The border crossing was uneventful. US Customs were even less interested in the Model 01 than their Canadian counterparts.
Tonight's show and tell was at Maker Works in Ann Arbor. Around 20 folks showed up to chat with us and to put their hands on the Model 01. Nobody brought any other keyboards to compare, but we saw our first Novena (other than ours) in the wild. It worked just great with the Model 01.
One question we got tonight was about Bluetooth. Some of our later prototypes had Bluetooth. We thought the Model 01 was going to ship with Bluetooth. We priced out Bluetooth chipsets and wrote drivers. We got quotes for batteries. We even built the prototype Model 01's circuit board with a Bluetooth chipset and a battery charging circuit. But the more we thought about it, the less it made sense.
One of the first issues is the battery. Each of those RGB LEDs draws as much power as the whole Bluetooth radio. So we'd either have to disable the LEDs in Bluetooth mode or have a...really big battery. A really big battery in one half of the keyboard would make one side of the keyboard heavier than the other. So we'd have to either add a weight on the other side to counterbalance the battery or we'd have to add a second battery in the other side of the keyboard. If we did that, we'd have to add a second battery charging chip on the other side. It gets more complicated than you'd expect pretty quickly. And then it turns out that if you put a battery inside an electronic product, there are countries that won't let you ship it by air.
Another big issue is cost. It's hard to make the economics work once you start pricing out adding a Bluetooth chipset and a battery charger and a battery to a low-volume product like the Model 01. Most of the folks we surveyed who were interested in having Bluetooth weren't all that interested in having it at a price that we could afford.
There are some other issues, but those are the big ones.
We're hoping to provide sufficient hackability inside the Model 01 for a resourceful hacker to add their own Bluetooth module.
At the end of the evening, Kc, one of the staff, gave us a tour of Maker Works. They've got a lot of space and a lot of very, very nice tools. From the CNC embroidery machine to the vacuum-molding machine to the ShopBot and Tormach CNCs, we could have a lot of fun there. I mean, um. We could get a lot of work done there.
There were a few things they've done unusually well: Their documentation was really, really nice. In addition to clear signage, it seemed like every tool or workspace had an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) binder that covered tool safety, usage and cleanup.
But what really blew us away was the dust collection system in the wood shop. Now, that may sound kind of weird. A dust collection system isn't a tool so much as a piece of necessary infrastructure. Woodwork generates a lot of sawdust. When you have a tiny little shop like ours, a single ShopVac attached to the tool you're currently using pretty much takes care of your sawdust. But in a larger space, things quickly get out of hand without an industrial-grade vacuum system. Dust collection systems that we've seen have almost always been custom-built. They sort of have to be, as they need to fit the shop's set of tools and the shop's physical layout. The folks at Maker Works were quite proud of their dust collection system--and rightly so. We toured the space at the end of a long day of making and it was pristine. There was almost no sawdust to be seen anywhere in the shop. The overhead piping for the system was pretty cool looking, too.
Yeah, we've become the sort of people who get excited about vacuum filter systems.
Tomorrow evening, Raise.com is hosting us in Chicago. Come say hi! This is one of the few events that requires pre-registering, so you should do that :)
Thursday, we'll be at Arch Reactor in St Louis:
As of tonight, we've raised $318,196 from 1041 of you. Thank you!
Today, we drove almost exactly 300 miles, bringing the total for the trip so far to 2398 miles.