More manufacturing opportunities

I’ve been struggling recently with how to mount the computers and radios into the vests.  I added some sewing mounting holes to the PCB boards that Oshpark is making for me but in the end I think it’s not going to be sufficient.  There won’t be enough protection on the radio and the microphone is going to suffer from too much friction.  I used some off the shelf project cases from Fry’s for the Lightning in a Bottle trip.  They got us through the project but I always hated them.  Ham fisted solution.  Expensive too.  Each case was about $8.

Last week on NPR we heard a segment on Ponoko.  They provide some simple 2D laser cutout manufacturing.  I’ve always been interested in diving into that realm and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.  I ended up designing a simple acrylic (translucent purple!) protective mounting plate that the computer and radio will mount to.  It keeps the components protected from impact and isolates the microphone from any contact.  I submitted the design on Sunday and should have something next Monday.  Pretty cool.  Also, I just found out that they are based in Emeryville which will make for an easy pickup.  And…they have a cool option to have images and text engraved onto the plate.

I took the opportunity to also design an enclosure for the controller iPhone breakout board and radio.  We’ll see how it works out but the cost was so affordable it would have been stupid to not have tried.  It’s the design on the right part of the below image.

The amount of customization available to the hobby community is just amazing.  Every turn brings up something new.

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