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Case Study: Preliminary Design for a Bluetooth Low-Energy GPS Tracking Device – Part 2

Technical Difficulty Rating: 6 out of 10

This is the second part of a series looking at developing a hypothetical tracking device that incorporates Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), GPS, an accelerometer, and a USB rechargeable lithium battery.

When deciding to develop a new hardware product you should first look at the big picture. This is what established hardware companies do, and so should you.

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Case Study: Preliminary Design for a Bluetooth Low-Energy GPS Tracking Device – Part 1

Technical Difficulty Rating: 6 out of 10

This is a multi-part series of articles where we’re going to look at developing a hypothetical tracking device that incorporates Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), GPS, an accelerometer, and a USB rechargeable lithium battery.

When you have a new product that you want to develop, the first thing you should do is look at the big picture. This is what established hardware companies already do.

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12 Gesture sensor

Introduction to Electronic Sensors

Article Technical Rating: 6 out of 10

Electronic sensors can detect everything from light to distance to acceleration. Sensors are how a product senses anything in the real-world, and there is an almost endless array of them available.

Sensors measure real-world quantities, which are then converted into an electrical signal. Actuators, on the other hand, take an electrical signal and convert it into a physical form. For example, motors and speakers are two of the most basic types of actuators.

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How to Select the Best Power Source For Your Hardware Product

Article Technical Rating: 6 out of 10

Selection of the power source for your product is one of the most important early decisions that you can make when developing a new hardware product. You have three choices at your disposal: rechargeable batteries, replaceable/disposal batteries, or AC power.

Each option has its own set of advantages and disadvantages which we will discuss in detail in this article.

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How to Not Get Ripped Off Bringing Your Product to Market

Article Technical Rating: 1 out of 10

As an entrepreneur, startup, or inventor with big dreams you are ripe for being ripped off. Unfortunately, there are people and companies out there that try to take advantage of those with dreams.

In this article you’ll learn ways to prevent yourself from being ripped off, and from just losing your money in general, while bringing your product to market.

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Where Should I Develop and Manufacture My Product?

Article Technical Rating: 2 out of 10

One of the common questions entrepreneurs ask me is, “Where is the best place to develop and/or manufacture my product“? That’s what we’re going to discuss in detail in this article.

First, I’m going to split this question into two separate questions – where to develop your product; and where to manufacture your product, because each has a different answer.

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Utilizing an IoT Platform for IoT Product Development

Article Technical Rating: 5 out of 10

Written by Crawford Leeds of Cocoa Electronics

Creating an IoT product is more expensive and risky than creating a non-IoT counterpart. IoT products have the potential to reap a large ROI by adding value to your business and customers.

This article will explain the benefits of using an existing IoT platform as a way to maximize your ROI.

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File:Microelectromechanical system (MEMS) (5880495531).jpg

Introduction to MEMS and Applications in Strain Sensing

Article Technical Rating: 8 out of 10

On a beautiful sunny day, you are making your routine trip to your place of work. It’s just another day, besides the wonderful weather. Halfway through your commute, your dashboard lights up with a tire indicator light. You pull over to inspect and discover a puncture. Now you are running late for work so you call an Uber.

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Tutorial: How to Design Your Own Custom (STM32) Microcontroller Board – Part 2

Article Technical Rating: 7 out of 10

In this tutorial you’re going to continue learning how to design your own custom 32-bit microcontroller board based on an Arm Cortex-M0 STM32 from ST Microelectronics.

In part 1 of this tutorial we covered how to design the system level block diagram, select all of the critical components, design the full schematic circuit diagram, and run schematic verifications.

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Tutorial: How to Design Your Own Custom (STM32) Microcontroller Board – Part 1

Article Technical Rating: 7 out of 10

This is the first in a series of tutorials where you’ll learn how to design your own custom microcontroller board. To get the most out of this tutorial it’s critical that you read the article and watch the included video.

Initially, we’re going to focus on just the microcontroller itself so you can more easily understand the design process without getting overwhelmed with circuit complexity.

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Top 30 Resources for Hardware Startups and Makers

Hardware startups and makers can use all the help they can get. It can be difficult, however, to find resources for developing a physical hardware product (as opposed to software).

So to help you out I’ve put together a list of my favorite online resources for those developing new electronic products. These 30 resources will really help you succeed.

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Focus on the Big Picture for Your Product – Worry About the Little Details Later

Article Technical Rating: 1 out of 10

You need to see the forest for the trees, don’t get lost in the weeds, don’t drown in the details, take a bird’s-eye view, focus on the big picture.

These idioms all convey the same meaning, and there’s a good reason why there are so many expressions for this idea. The concept of focusing on the larger picture is so very important. I’m going to tell you why focusing on the big picture is especially critical for entrepreneurs bringing a hardware product to market.

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Introduction to Load Cell Conditioning Circuits

Article Technical Rating: 6 out of 10

A load cell is a sensor device that can be used to measure an applied physical force and then convert that force into an output quantity that is directly proportional to the force.

There are different types of load cells such as hydraulic load cells, pneumatic load cells, capacitive load cells, strain gauge load cells, etc. The most popular and commonly used of all these types is the strain gauge load cell.

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How to Package Your New Hardware Product

Article Technical Rating: 0 out of 10

Every electronic product basically consists of three parts: the electronics, the enclosure, and the package. In my experience most entrepreneurs focus on the development of the electronics, and to a lesser extent on the development of the enclosure.

But, very few entrepreneurs give the proper attention to the retail package until the last minute. That is a big mistake.

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Want to Make Millions? Don’t Develop a Product – Do This Instead!

Article Technical Rating: 0 out of 10

Let’s have some fun and dream big, and I mean astronomically big!

Is your goal to develop a new product, get it to market, and then sit back and watch the money roll in?

And I don’t mean just making a good living (which is a fine goal too).

No, instead I’m talking about making multiple millions up to hundreds of millions or even billions! I mean the level of wealth that allows you access to the world of mansions, yachts, private jets, and Ferraris. Or better yet enough wealth to fund all of your favorite charities and to help everyone financially that you care about.

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10 A circuit board Description generated with very high confidence

The SIM800 Cellular Module and Arduino: A Powerful IoT Combo

Article Technical Rating: 7 out of 10

The Internet of Things (IoT) has been a trending field in the world of technology. From consumer electronics to business and industrial processes, IoT has changed the way we work. Physical objects and the digital world are connected now more than ever.

The SIM800 from SimCom and the Arduino UNO are two of the most popular development modules to get you started with IoT. These two modules are highly recommended due to their popularity and support from the hobbyist and developers’ community.

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Microprocessor or Microcontroller

Microcontroller or Microprocessor: Which is Right for Your New Product?

Article Technical Rating: 7 out of 10

Just about any new electronic product requires some sort of “brains”. The question though is what type of brains does your product really need? There are two choices: a microcontroller unit (MCU) or a microprocessor unit (MPU).

As the name implies a microcontroller excels at “controlling” other hardware components (sensors, switches, motors, etc.), whereas a microprocessor excels at “processing” large amounts of data very quickly.

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How Can I Determine the Complexity (and Cost) to Develop My Product?

Article Technical Rating: 5 out of 10

Developing and bringing any new hardware product to market is no doubt difficult. This is true even for the simplest of products. Product development becomes significantly more challenging, and expensive, as the complexity of the product increases.

Exceptionally complex products may not be appropriate for an entrepreneur with limited experience and finances to bring to market. For example, Apple is reported to have spent over $150 million dollars developing the original iPhone.

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An Introduction to Basic Electronics

Many entrepreneurs launching a new electronic hardware product lack the engineering skills to design their own product. So they instead choose to outsource most, or all, of the development.

That’s of course fine, and outsourcing is a fantastic way to fill in any gaps in your own skill set. Nonetheless, I believe that a basic understanding of electronics is still important for anyone bringing an electronic product to market.

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Crowdfunding for Hardware Startups

Article Technical Rating: 1 out of 10

Developing and launching a new hardware product is expensive. It’s also incredibly risky. Fortunately, there is a way to help solve both of these problems: crowdfunding.

Most hardware startups know about crowdfunding, but how do you make it a success? You just create a campaign page about your amazing new product on crowdfunding websites such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or CrowdSupply. The world will then come rushing in to give you money! Piece of cake, right?

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Should I create a Proof-of-Concept prototype for my new product?

As the name implies, the purpose of a Proof-of-Concept (POC) prototype is to prove your product concept. A POC answers if a product is feasible. Whereas, a standard prototype answers how to make your product.

In most cases a POC prototype is only used internally to determine the practicality of a new product. Customers will rarely see a POC prototype. When demonstrating your product to customers you will usually need something much closer to the manufacturable version of your product.

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From Arduino Prototype to Manufacturable Product

Article Technical Rating: 7 out of 10

Creating a prototype based on an Arduino (or Genuino outside the US) is an excellent start to bringing a new electronic hardware product to market.

The Arduino is an ideal platform for proving your product concept. However, there is still a lot of engineering work required to turn it into a product that can be manufactured and sold.

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How to Choose the Best Development Kit: The Ultimate Guide for Beginners

Article Technical Rating: 6 out of 10

If you’re looking to build a proof-of-concept (POC) prototype for a new product idea, or perhaps you’re just wanting to learn more about electronics development, then the first step is to choose a development kit (also called a development board).

A development kit will serve as the brains of your project and will communicate with all the interconnected electronic components.

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How can I get my product to market if I have no money or experience?

You must remember that the true value is in the execution of an idea, and not just the idea alone. This is why no one steals product ideas, instead they wait and “steal” successful, proven products.

This means that to succeed with your product you’re going to have to commit to doing more than just coming up with the great idea. The idea is the easy part, but nothing of real value is ever easy.

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Introduction to Injection Molding

Pictorial of an injection molding machine (supplied courtesy of Rutland Plastics).

Article Technical Rating: 7 out of 10

Unless your electronic product will be marketed solely to DIYers and electronics hobbyists it’s going to need an enclosure. Most likely this enclosure will be made of plastic.

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Understanding Certifications for Electronic Hardware Products

Article Technical Rating: 5 out of 10

Most electronic products require multiple certifications in order to be sold. The certifications required depends on the product specifics and the countries in which it will be marketed.

The cost and time needed to obtain all of the certifications necessary for your product is one of the most overlooked steps to bringing a new hardware product to market.

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Review of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) Solutions

Article Technical Rating: 8 out of 10

Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE) is definitely one of the most popular technologies for new electronic hardware products. There are good reasons.

BLE is an extremely low power wireless technology that can be powered from a tiny battery for potentially years. Even better, it’s also relatively simple to implement and very affordable.

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Introduction to Microcontrollers

Article Technical Rating: 7 out of 10

Almost every electronic product needs a “brain” of some sorts to control the various product functions. But what “brain” is best for your product?

Start by deciding if you need a microcontroller unit (MCU) or a microprocessor unit (MPU). Nearly all electronic products use one of these two types of processor chips, and some products use both.

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Hardware startups save money

16 Secret Tips for Hardware Entrepreneurs to Save Money and Reduce Risk

Article Technical Rating: 4 out of 10

Bringing a new electronic product to market is generally difficult, risky, and expensive. To succeed, and make it to eventual profitability, you need to focus your early efforts on minimizing your costs and risk.

Your first goal should be to get your product to market as cheap as possible, as fast as possible, all while minimizing your risk. You have to think positive and have confidence in your product, but you should always strive to keep your investment as low as possible. 

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How to Prototype Your New Product

Article Technical Rating: 7 out of 10

Prototyping your product is all about learning. Each time you create a prototype version you will, or should, learn something new. Start with the most simple, low cost way to prototype your product. Then, with each prototype iteration you should progress closer and closer to a production-quality prototype.

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The Definitive Guide to Pricing Your New Electronic Hardware Product

Article Technical Rating: 5 out of 10

Setting the price for your new hardware product is one of your most important decisions. You need to get your pricing right as early as possible. If you mess this up it will be difficult to fix later. The pressure is on.

Pricing is a complex decision with many variables. In fact, there are entire books written on the subject of pricing. Ideally, pricing is something you should begin thinking about from day one while validating your product idea. If you set the price too low then you won’t make enough profit. If you set the price too high then your product won’t sell well.

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Why Hardware is Hard, But Easier Than Ever

Article Technical Rating: 5 out of 10

Hardware is hard is so commonly said it has become a cliché. Yeah, you know it’s hard, but why exactly? In this article I will discuss this in detail.

Fortunately, there is good news too – developing and launching a new hardware product is easier now than it’s ever been. There have been many advancements in recent years that make it much more feasible for an entrepreneur to bring a new hardware product to market.

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13 Reasons Why Hardware Startups Fail (and How to Make Sure Yours Doesn’t)

Article Technical Rating: 4 out of 10

Most of us have learned something from our mistakes, but have you ever learned from the mistakes of others? Studying the failures of others can actually ensure that you don’t make the same mistakes they did.

When it comes to new hardware startups, there are so many possible mistakes to be made. There’s a reason behind the cliché “Hardware is hard!”. You would be wise to study in detail how other hardware startups have gone wrong.

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Complete Guide – The Cost to Develop, Scale, and Manufacture Your New Electronic Hardware Product

Article Technical Rating: 5 out of 10

How much does it cost to develop a new product?

Most entrepreneurs drastically underestimate all of the costs required to develop, scale and manufacture a new electronic hardware product. This is one of the main reasons so many hardware startups ultimately fail.

Don’t make the fatal mistake of underestimating the costs, or worse yet not estimating them at all, because in order to succeed to market it’s necessary to know your costs. Without knowing all of the costs you’ll either run out of money before your product is market-ready, or you’ll find yourself developing a product that can’t ever be manufactured profitably.

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How to Build a GSM Cellular Panic Alarm Using an Arduino

Article Technical Rating: 8 out of 10

While security cameras do a decent job of passively monitoring background activities, they do little to deter intruders or prevent emergencies like fire, flood or theft. Of course, you can always call 9-1-1 in case an unfortunate event occurs, but shouldn’t security be more proactive, rather than being simply reactive?

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PCB Design Software – Which One is Best?

Article Technical Rating: 7 out of 10

There are numerous software packages available for designing printed circuit boards (PCBs), too many in fact. That being said, there are three PCB design packages that are the most popular: Altium, Eagle, and OrCad.

However, I prefer a less well-known PCB design packaged called DipTrace.

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Teardown of an Internet of Things (IoT) Wireless Device with Bluetooth Low-Energy and ZigBee

Article Technical Rating: 7 out of 10

The Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the hottest areas of new product development. By 2020 it is estimated there will be 50 billion IoT devices.

Since all of the products I design are protected by NDA, I’ve decided to instead show you the details behind a IoT reference design from Texas Instruments (TI) that offers Bluetooth Low-Energy, ZigBee, and 6LoWPAN wireless protocols.

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How Much Does a Prototype Cost?

Article Technical Rating: 6 out of 10

One of the first steps on the road to developing and marketing a new product is the creation of a prototype. The cost of a prototype can be broken into two parts: the engineering cost to design it, and the actual cost to produce it.

The total cost of the prototype (assuming an electronic product) usually includes the cost to manufacture the custom Printed Circuit Board (PCB), plus the cost of assembly, plus the cost of the components, plus the cost of the enclosure prototype.

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The 5 Steps of Product Development for a New Electronic Hardware Product

Article Technical Rating: 5 out of 10

The new product development process for an electronic product (or any product) is by no means simple. It’s a pretty overwhelming task especially for those with limited resources such as entrepreneurs, makers, start-ups and small companies.

However, the process can be simplified by breaking it down into five steps. The steps summarized below will get you to the point of having a fully functional prototype.

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PCB Design – Making Your PCB as Small as Possible

Article Technical Rating: 9 out of 10

When it comes to new hardware products many times smaller is better. This is especially true with wearable tech products and Internet of Things (IoT) products.

One of the keys to a smaller hardware product is of course a smaller Printed Circuit Board (PCB).

A technology for reducing PCB size that shouldn’t be overlooked if small size is critical for your product is the use of blind and buried vias. Their use allows the components on a PCB to be packed much tighter.

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How to Fund Your Electronic Hardware Startup

Article Technical Rating: 1 out of 10

It’s an expensive process developing and marketing a new physical product, especially if your product is complex.

Unless you have tens of thousands of dollars that you can throw into it, you’re most likely going to need to get creative when it comes to funding your new startup.

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How a Radio-Controlled Car Works

Article Technical Rating: 10 out of 10

I recently bought my son his first radio-controlled car. Playing with it reminded me how as a young child I loved to get radio-controlled toys so I could tear them open to figure out how they worked. The magic of the electronics is what fascinated me. It was this early curiosity that helped drive me toward a career in electronics engineering and helping entrepreneurs develop new electronic products.

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