Pre-Orders, Arduino Shield Prototypes, and USB Isolation

In the last week of January, 2014, after the Kickstarter project ended, FlexVolt Pre-Orders became available through the webstore, and product development continued to reach the goal of shipping consumer versions of FlexVolt by April (March for Arduino Shields and initial production and testing units).

In the first week FlexVolt reached over $3,000 in pre-orders!

The first 3 weeks in February have been very busy, but were mostly devoted to fine-tuning the electronic designs and establishing the supply chain.  A lot goes into producing a consumer product!  Here are a few of the items worked on:

  • Patient safety isolation – Complete isolation between the computer and the user prevents any abnormal power surges on the computer side from coming through the USB port.  This includes digital isolators for power, ground, and signal lines, transient voltage suppression at lead connectors, and current-limiting resistors in-line with all lead connectors.
  • Supply Chain – making a one-off device is quite different from sourcing leads, electronic components, PCB printing, PCB assembly, and enclosures for even low-volume production!
  • Arduino Shield PCB – prototype done and arriving from the PCB printing facility (OSHPark for prototype boards) any day for in-house assembly and testing!
  • Bluetooth Design – Choices made for battery type, battery charge/discharge control circuitry, and power-path management (i.e. turning bluetooth on/off, charging the battery, or running on USB for both power and data communication)
  • Custom-made leads – re-designed as plug-in sets to make leads easy to remove, add, or swap.  Shielding added to help reduce 50/60Hz noise as well as other noise found in most homes these days.
  • Programming – lined up outside help for phone app development for Android and iPhone, developed and documented communications protocols (still need testing prior to public release), began to standardize functions and roll them into object classes in preparation for building a library plugin

I’ve received many great comments, either through the website or through email, ranging from requests/suggestions for specific features to offers to help with development!  As work transitions from working on the hardware and electronics to finalizing software, expect to see more open-source style activity, including software posts and establishment of user/developer forums!

Of course, please feel free to post or email any requests/suggestions/comments you may have!