Design is coming along for mass producing the scoreboard. The arduino is a nice product, but it’s a little expensive, it doesn’t have enough pins, and it doesn’t do all the things I’d like. I’ve switched to a Microchip PIC device and have refined the design accordingly. This should reduce parts cost, assembly cost, and complexity of the board, while giving additional features. It’s a win-win, but it’s also more complex than the arduino, so it’s taking a lot longer to get everything working, and since it’s a bare chip I can’t just plug it in with through-hole components and see what happens.
I’ve been working on various options for the board; everything is surface mount, which is nice for assembly, and will keep the board thin. The microcontroller operates at a lower voltage and power consumption, and the fewer chips I’m using will also help reduce power consumption. For LEDs I’m choosing between through-hole LEDs and surface mount LEDs. They have the same brightness, cost, and viewing angle, so they’re essentially identical, but it’s a matter of aesthetics and assembly cost. Dual-sided SMT vs. 192 through-hole parts is a difficult comparison.
The original design was 20″ x 13″. Then I sized it down to 18″ x 10″. Now I’m reducing it to 16″ x 10″. The reason for this reduction is packaging; getting boards made that were larger than 16″ to a side was difficult at many board houses, and acrylic sheets were measured in increments that made 18″ difficult to divide. Plus, packaging and material costs is reduced, while the size of the digits remains unchanged.
There are plenty of other things I’m dealing with for producing the scoreboard. I’m making good progress, but it’s slower than software development and I have a lot of documents to read. Hopefully in the Q1 2012 I’ll have my first batch done.