“Prototyping is (not) my thing.”

Industrial Designer and Independent Programmer

“Prototyping is (not) my thing.”

When thinking about prototyping stuff, I always get very excited. I immediately start thinking about how to build stuff. I make drawings and 3D models of what I want to build. I look up possible chips to use and how all the pins are mapped on the chip. I create the whole PCB setup, to then finally realise, that I don’t have the tinkering skills to actually build a good looking prototype.

I regard myself more as a system designer. I like to create the inside of things, think of how it would work and then create it. But when it comes to the look and feel aspect, I feel like I’m lacking behind. For my first year project at Industrial Design, we all started lo-fi prototyping and I noticed that I would really like to have more experience in building stuff.

So, for my personal tinkering project, combining my skills as a system designer and my longing for building experience, I will design, prototype and create a radio stack for a flight simulator for a pc. My brother said that he would really like such hardware, but that the ones on the market are pretty expensive. And so, he and I started talking about creating these ourselves. Therefore, I

decided to create the system and make it as finalised as possible. And yes, also the look and feel aspect.

Step 1 – The electronics prototype

To begin creating the system, I first need to see if it’s possible to make something like this myself in the first place. So, does it work? This is for me the easiest part, because this is what I like to do, program and create systems. I decided on working with an Arduino for the microcontroller, and having 6 character 7 segment displays. More info on this step will be published later, when I can show some results.

Step 2 – User tests and adapting

 

When I have a working prototype, I can begin user testing, but because a good look-and-feel housing won’t be on this prototype. I will test functionality now only.

Step 3 – Downsizing electronics

PCB example

I wanted to add this step, because I’ve never gone further with electronics than just using a breadboard with jumpers. I want my circuits to like good and be compact, for it to be small and fit nicely into a small housing for the radio stack.

Step 4 – The look-and-feel

Now the time has come, to actually create the housing and add up to the aesthetics. For a product to be good, it needs to work, but also look and handle great. So in this step I’m going to work on this.

 

I hope you will follow my development of this product, and that seeing the process will help you understand electronics or look-and-feel criteria as well!

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