Anybody interested in a detector kit?


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Dagorath
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Message 1505 - Posted: 8 Dec 2012 | 23:06:12 UTC

I have manufactured small, high quality PCBs (printed circuit boards) via the etch method for some years and was thinking I might manufacture PCBs for the detector designed by this project and sell them at cost in a kit. The kit would include all the components required to complete the kit on your own plus a case. Not sure about supplying the GM-tube but perhaps I can do that too. You would be required to solder the components to the PCB, clean it, test it, repair any solder defects and assemble it in the case. The case would be pre-cut to accommodate the LCD.

I could probably pre-program the processor though IIRC the current design allows on board programming which means you could do it yourself. This is a small detail which would be decided later if there is enough interest.

There is the possibility of eliminating the LCD to reduce the cost and simplify the manufacturing process. The LCD isn't really necessary unless you want to operate the device without a connection to a PC. If your detector will always be attached to your PC/laptop/notebook/tablet/phone then it makes sense to eliminate the LCD and display the current radiation reading on your computer monitor, if you even need to know the current reading, maybe you don't need that.

There is the possibility of adding the detector to a Raspberry Pi, either through the R-Pi's USB port, on the R-Pi's expansion pins or as part of the onboard circuit. The latter option implies that I would make an R-Pi with detector kit and I am not sure I want to do that but it's a possbility we can discuss.

There is also the possibility of putting a hardware USB port on the detector rather than the soft-port the project has used in the past. That would increase reliability and compatability and perhaps cost only a few dollars more. When you consider that any commercially available detector similar to this project's detector costs about $200 it makes very little sense to sacrifice reliability just to reduce the price by just a few dollars when the price is already 25% of the commercial price.

If any hardware engineers out there have a design they think would make a good kit then let me know. We could possibly use your design and I'll just etch the PCBs, order the parts, package the kits and ship. I use Eagle CAD but can adapt.

Let me know if you are interested. I am confident I could supply you with a kit much faster than the project can supply you with a completed detector. I've been designing, building and selling custom digital devices for several years and I can deliver a good product to you. There are plenty of videos on the 'net that demonstrate in some detail how to produce good solder joints and it's not hard to learn if you can focus and pay attention to detail. If you are the impatient type who gets frustrated easily and throws the thing in the trash just because your first attempt didn't turn out perfect then a kit is not the right thing for you. I'll show you how to buy a not-too-expensive soldering iron and add an inexpensive but effective heat control to prevent over heating the iron which is a major cause of trouble and frustration while soldering. It won't be the equal of a $200 semi-professional iron but it will do the job. Could be an interesting learning experience/project for the right person.

I don't know exactly what a kit would cost but I estimate it would be approximately the same as what the project charges now.

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ShortlegCats
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Message 2035 - Posted: 21 Sep 2013 | 3:57:02 UTC - in response to Message 1505.

It's almost a year later, but are you still dabbling with kits, Dagorath?

miki_e
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Message 2043 - Posted: 1 Oct 2013 | 13:02:37 UTC - in response to Message 2035.

Well, it is good suggestion, however, I think that the proposal should be slightly modified:

1) Things that can be be cheaply ordered should not be made manually - R@H team should concentrate on more important and more profitable activities...:

1A) PCB: you would be quite surprised, how cheep can be some PCB shops even here in Europe:
for instance series of 200 pcbs of size 100x20mm (I estimate the size of the PCB in the detector...) double sided, through hole plated with gold surface and solder mask would cost as little as Euro 1,90 per PCB (all costs included, postage excluded...)

If you go for 50 pieces series, price is about Euro 4,- per PCB (all costs included, postage excluded...)

1B) Assembly: price of SMD soldering is not so prohibitive either. If we take a series of 50 PCBs and the number of SMD components is let's say 25 per board, and you SUPPLY the SMD components, price of the soldering will be about Euro 8,- per PCB.... and you can order PCB and assembly together, postage is invoiced only 1x....

... and of course, for bigger series the price goes rapidly down....

2) On the other hand there are things that are (very) expensive to order like: through hole components soldering, cables, mounting in the boxes etc....: this should be done by the R@H team or parts delivered as a kit to the end user for assembly (of course price of the finished product and kit will be different...)

3) LCD display should be optional...

4) Microcontroller should be programmed only with a boot loader and user should be able to update firmware... (is it already a case today ?)

5) Box: (...just a brainstorming...)
- have you considered to use some already made cheap box (for instance Raspberry Pi box or other suitable box...)
- have you considered 3D printing of the boxes?

Best regards,

miki_e

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