At Trivadis, we are currently involved in a very interesting innovation project that involves IoT, Mobile Apps and Sensors. This blog post tells the story of an interesting night we spent laying our hands on “the devices”. Have fun reading!
1. From an Idea to a Sensor
At the heart of the project are small sensors that can read various types of data. Due to very hard time and budget constraints, we shifted the “make or buy” decision directly to the “make” side.
Our chief sensor designer Martin (https://twitter.com/gruemscheli) spent countless nights ordering the parts, designing the circuit boards and 3D-printing the casing (see image below).
You can follow his experience on his blog:
So, thanks to the successful preparations, we had all the parts required and “just” needed to assemble our sensors using some old school soldering and fiddling with tiny little sensitive electronic components. As most of us work as consultants and spend our days with the development of .NET software, this was mostly new.
We needed some time to get used to the new tools (see image below):
And of course, we needed a place with the ambience necessary to get the work done. Meet the Fablab!
2. The FABLAB
Fablabs are maker spaces that provide workspaces and tools open to everybody who wants to build stuff. Creative and engaged people all around the world dedicate their spare time to helping out the people who want to make things. Fablabs usually provide a wide range of tools and machinery such as 3D printers, welding machines, electronics, textile printers, laser cutters and so on.
For a member fee you have free access to the space, all of the tools and expert know-how from the lab managers. We thought that a Fablab is the perfect place for our Innovation-Sensor-IoT endeavor, so we contacted the guys at the Fablab Zürich. Of course they loved the idea and invited us to their lab.
What a Fablab is, how you can use it and how you have to behave in the Fablab is stated in the Fab Charter that you can find at: http://fab.cba.mit.edu/about/charter/
The Fablab really left a great impression on us. They have all the cool machines and a flair for innovation and creativity. We met super friendly staff members and visitors who are always willing to help you out and chat about their personal projects.
3. Building the Sensors
When we started, we had nothing more than a bunch of circuit boards, microcontrollers, resistors and sensor components. The base of the sensor was a particle microcontroller (https://www.particle.io/). For more technical details, please refer to Martins blog: https://schreibermartin.wordpress.com/
The following image sequence shows all the assembly steps:
Amazingly enough, we managed to assemble around 30 sensors that night and all of them worked.
Thanks a lot to Trivadis (http://www.trivadis.com/), the Fablab Zürich (http://zurich.fablab.ch/) and the amazing team: Holger, Thomas (https://twitter.com/tbandixen), Ron, Martin (https://twitter.com/gruemscheli) and Dani.
It was a great night!