We love our beta testers. They’ve given us great feedback, and have been real cheerleaders for our product. We recently heard from one of them, who said:
For the most part, our experience with the scoreboard was very good. We were able to quickly teach a number of officials how to use the scoreboard in a manner of minutes, and the parents and coaches appreciated being able to see the time remaining and score. Battery life was also very good.
The main negative was that for outdoor use, if the sun is out, it’s difficult to read the board. The numbers are washed out by the sun. On most days, we could only use the scoreboard until around noon.
If you’re able to solve the visibility issue, we’d happily purchase 40 or so units for our leagues. – John
That kind of feedback is very motivating, so we quickly got to sketching a solution. We wanted to do something that wouldn’t be bulky, would be easy to set up, wouldn’t break if impacted, and could also double as a screen protector. It would be nice if we didn’t need to modify the scoreboard design much, too. Oh yeah, and it had to block the sun.
We’ve tested the scoreboard in a variety of lighting conditions, including indoors and outdoors, in daylight and evening, and only rarely have this problem.
But we have Wisconsin sun, not California sun, and it’s very likely that they have it worse than we do.
Back to the solution! We started by whiteboarding it of course.
After spending a few minutes making a CAD drawing, I used a 3D printer to create a physical model. Magenta was already loaded in the printer, so magenta was what I got. It mostly fit, but there were a few tweaks to make. I changed it up a little, and the second run worked pretty well. Enough that I could make another and have a completely working prototype.
So I printed the second one, and got to testing.
Again, the Wisconsin sun was no help. The weather outside was overcast and snowing, and what light was making it through was reflecting off all the snow already on the ground and making the lighting conditions completely different from California.
Fortunately, I could improvise. We have a spotlight at Sector67; a very bright one that gets painfully hot. And it was the perfect solution. I created a fake sun inside, and tested it out. First the image with no visor, and then with the visor.
This pretty simple solution solved every one of the requirements. I didn’t have to make any modifications to the scoreboard. The visor will fit snugly inside the bezel to keep the screen even safer in a backpack, the pieces snap off safely without damaging anything when impacted, and it even blocks out direct sunlight!
John, the Kickstarter page is at http://kck.st/16otSct. If you want I can send you these pieces so you can test it out yourself on your beta unit. I’ll do them in black for you.