IoT – The Internet of Things. As mundane as
it sounds, we are on the cusp of experiencing the next all-encompassing wave in
technology. Simply put, IoT potentially means ‘everything’ could be connected
in one way or another. Applications range from the easy but novel (chilling
your beer to the exact desired temperature and having it brought to your couch
laden self) to the far more complex, and possibly lifesaving e.g. in
engineering and construction fields. Detecting individual stresses in a bridge
pillar long before a crack is seen comes in handy.
Here at Gearbox, we’ve caught the IoT wave.
So in true Gearbox form we went ahead and innovated! Introducing the Splashboard – an IoT device used to keep
track of the quality of reagents used in Splash Center. The Splash
Center is a machine
used in the wet processing of PCBs. Wet processing includes developing,
etching, and tinning. This requires the use of reagents whose pH, conductivity
and colour must be monitored since the chemicals wear off with consistent use
which diminishes their quality. The current Splash Center has no such
functionality, hence the invention of the Splashboard. It collects data for
processing and display which tells the user the current state of the etching,
developing and tinning chemicals. The data collected will enable the user to
ensure that the reagents are always in tiptop condition.
This past weekend we had a lovely meetup
(with tea and cookies to boot!) to initiate the Splashboard v2.0. Version 1 works, the least you could ask of a
first prototype, yes? But, it’s riddled with a few undesirables especially in
its clunky mechanical structure. The
positioning of some components makes it cumbersome to use: the LCD is not
conveniently set- it requires pillars to prevent it resting on the components
plus it covers some of the user buttons, the barrel jack is too deep inside,
and the mounting holes aren’t even on the edges. The board is constructed using
through-hole technology which makes it too large.
what will Splashboardv2.0 look like?
4 relays for power isolation to ensure that the
conductivity probe and pH probe don’t give false data when dipped in the same
EEprom and cloud to eliminate the need for an SD
A Serial Peripheral Interphase port, SPI which
enables the shift register to take in serial data and an I2C (I-Squared-C)
adapter for low-level communication between components
module to convey data readings
wirelessly through the internet which
someone can view through an internet enabled devices
AVR programming to enhance our product design
Use of Surface Mount Technology to make the
board more compact
A 20 character per 4 lines LCD
Real-Time Computing, RTC, for time stamps
ATmega644 - the main microcontroller
InterProcess Communication, IPC level 1
IRC580 to eliminate the need for two voltage
This will be a good challenge as far as design techniques
are concerned. PCB drawing shall be done usig KiCad. The board will be
double-layer with through-hole plating.
After we’ve made our IoT device, and everything else
imaginable is on the internet of things, doesn’t this conjure up the inevitable
big brother scenario? What happens when everything is ‘online’?
See you at the next meetup!