Circad Helps Entrepreneurs Commercialise Their Raspberry Pi Electronics Prototypes
Posted on 14th October 2021
The Raspberry Pi is a credit card sized Printed Circuit Board that is actually a stand alone computer. The Pi enables enthusiasts to quickly develop electronics prototypes running code that they have written. Although the Pi is a fantastic product, it is intended to be an educational tool, and not part of a commercial product. Many of these prototype PCBs could be commercially viable products, however entrepreneurs soon discover a couple of problems when trying start manufacturing.
Manufacturing Problems of Raspberry Pi Prototype PCBs
The microprocessor at the heart of the Pi can only be purchased in very high volumes. Most new products tend to start with low volumes until both the market is proven and the product matures to justify high volume production. Pi product prototypes are often made using cheaper accessories which would probably not pass EMC tests, nor guarantee ongoing supply.
As a consequence there are probably some neat product ideas based on the Pi left on the drawing board (or kitchen table) simply because they cannot be commercialised. But Circad has helped several entrepreneurs take their design into volume manufacture.
From Raspberry Pi Prototype PCB To Mass Production
One example of an idea based on a Pi that Circad helped develop from prototype electronics design to assembly in the UK is the Mevarius. The original pre-production electronics prototype ran on a Pi with an external modem and Mifare card reader.
The Mevarius is supplied to people requiring home health care visits. When the care provider visits and leaves the client’s home they swipe in and out using their standard ID card. In affect it is a remote clocking-in device.
Staff tracking data is uploaded to a database using either Mobile internet or home Ethernet. A mems accelerator is used to detect movement of the staff tracked device, so it cannot be removed from the client’s home without authorization. It is also possible to use a longer range 868 MHz FSK transceiver located in the care visitor’s vehicle to record the time and duration of the visit. An internal lithium battery is recharged from a standard DC adapter and will ensure operation for at least 8 hours after mains power loss.
Circad were tasked with taking the Mevarius PCB prototype into a product that could be mass produced in the UK using a processor with a long production life and incorporate all the features in a single pcb design. The production product would also have to pass EMC tests for use in the home environment.
Based on the powerful ST32F4 processor Circad developed the production version pictured above. In house we developed the PCB design, schematic and layout. We undertook the PCB assembly (surface mount and final box assembly) and wrote the initial firmware.
Using the testing services of ETS (Electromagnetic Testing Services) the Mevarius passed EMC compliance tests for standards EN55022 / EN55024 and EN301-489.
The Customer was provided a small pre-production batch and a firmware that enabled all peripherals, allowing them to develop it using their own code.
Tagged as: electronics prototyping
Share this post: