Bulletin March 2015
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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 a prototype product running code that they have written. Many of these prototypes could be commercially viable products, however entrepreneurs soon discover a couple of problems when trying start manufacturing.
The microprocessor at the heart of the Raspberry 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.
One example of an idea based on a Raspberry Pi that made it from prototype to production is the Mevarius. The original pre-production prototype ran on a Raspberry 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 from prototype into a product that could be mass produced using a processor with a long production life and incorporate all the features onto a single board. 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 designed the schematic and PCB layout, assembled the board (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.
If you want to keep the Pi as the processor then one option is to develop a carrier board which will accept the standard Raspberry Pi as a daughter board. The carrier board will integrate all the extra electronics / power supplies required for the product.
Alternatively if you would like to integrate a Pi on to your custom board, but find the on-board HDMI, USB and Ethernet ports are not required or are in the wrong place for your enclosure, then we can use the Raspberry Pi RPI Compute Module.
Integration of the RPI Compute Module (known as CM) simply requires the main PCB to have a 200 PIN SODIMM connector. This is the same size as a DDR Memory module for a laptop and will enable all of the functions of the Pi to be incorporated (or not) as required.
Although the Raspberry Pi is a fantastic product, it is intended to be an Educational tool, and not part of a commercial product. Microprocessors tend to have long production life cycles with compatible replacements available when they go end of life.
If you would like us to develop a new product based on the functionality of your Pi product or if you would like us to develop a board to work with the Pi, we can help either way. With our help just think what your designs could achieve.
To start a discussion, phone me on 01473 743700 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
I look forward to talking with you.