SN35 Mini Project Update #04


I've never done a lot of the things I have attempted over the past few weeks. So far on this project, I have:


  • Learned the basics of using a green screen
  • Learned the basics of editing film
  • Become heaps better with Fusion 360
  • Explored the basics of using ECAD software (Eagle specifically)
  • Given up on learning how to design custom footprints in Eagle for now, and hand drew my biggest board yet! (lol)
  • Worked with a tiny LCD (I've never used one in a project before)
  • Played with Retropie for the first time
  • Somewhat successfully used a desktop CNC router


Unfortunately, what I have not done is made a completed episode for the contest. My design relied too heavily on having a custom PCB (or two apparently), and for various reasons, I couldn't fabricate one in time. I also grossly underestimated how long it would take to produce the video itself having never made one before. I am honestly gutted by this. This was an opportunity to get what has honestly been a dream job of mine for a couple of years now (just ask my partner). It would be easy to say something like "I wish I had of seen this contest earlier", or that other things in life didn't get in the way, especially when a few extra days and I could have potentially ordered a board. But I also have to say that in this instance, I was trying too many new things at once and it backfired. That is ultimately my fault


Hopefully this is not the end of my future journey as a content producer though, maybe not even the end for working under the element14 brand as Heckendorn has for so long now. The opportunity to push myself, and to interact with Ben Heck and the team has been fantastic. It is also certainly not the end of the SN35 Mini project. It is easily one of the most professional looking designs I've created to date (though printing using a Formlabs printer helps a lot with that), and I would hate to not get to finish it.



The Design So Far!


Since I don't need to wait for everyone else's videos, I figured now is a good time to show off where I had gotten to in the design process. The front case is mostly ready to go (baring a few minor tweaks to the shoulder buttons) and I now know where the various mounting holes are located – this was important to be able to properly layup the PCB for the buttons. Once I am more fluent with ECAD, I can transfer my hand drawn traces into the software and get the board professionally made, ready for testing. I also have the circuit to drive the LCD ready for testing on that PCB (or a seperate module) which I am eager to try out.


It looks even better with the screen on, but it's a bit hard to get a photo of as the original driver board sits very awkwardly on the case.



Where to Next?


Now that I don't have the formal deadline, I think I will take the time to properly learn Eagle (or CircuitStudio/Altium Designer). Then I will send of for a professionally fabricated PCB. This will allow me to just focus on getting the overall design right for now, without complicating the build with too many error-prone fabrication processes at once. I can improve my DIY PCB process in time for the next build or two... especially once the makerspace at my university is reopened (my apartment is very, very small). The design has really grown on me though, and I'm left wondering if there would be enough interest to warrant looking into a Kickstarter campaign or similar in the future? I also feel like I figured out how to structure the video in the end, so this is something I would like to finish – even if only for my sake as a learning experience.


In terms of what else needs to be done. I had decided that the video I was going to submit was going to be frames as a Part I, with the basics of the design done and the front panel working. So I was hoping it would be playable. Part 2 was going to focus on the back panel, which includes getting the speakers working, and hopefully adding some analog triggers. Because I am now considering this as something to sell, a Part 3 may even eventuate looking at how to polish up the design - possibly even looking at altering the case for manufacturing if needed.


In the mean time, I would like to wish all of the remaining contestants who managed to create something and upload a video the best of luck. It's been an absolute blast seeing the updates and comments. I look forward to watching the videos (hopefully there is actually the minimum of 10 entries required by the T&C's!).