Go Down

Topic: Advice on approach  (Read 996 times) previous topic - next topic



I would like to ask the best approach to creating a product prototype if - I don't know Arduino or mechanical or electrical engineering. If - I only want to learn what is needed for creating this device. If - I know how the device should behave and it's goals. If - I have limited funds.

Any advice is welcome.
Thank you for your time and help


first thing you should specify "how the device should behave and it's goals".... as "a device" could be anything from a screwdriver to a spaceship... very unlikely to get a meaningful answer with no informations


Ok the device raises and lowers and n(th) number of short pins  to adjustable heights. Bi directionally. Telescopically. And within a small area. Carrying this own weigh and or with an additional 35%. .

I am 40 yrs old. Been writing code since 1990. Worked pro-sum in the indie game dev scene for 15 years. I have my finger prints on many game projects published and a abandoned. I understand the risk and needs of keeping unique and original ideas held close while engaging in a forum of qualified and talented peers.

Besides the question isn't about the device. It's about how to Target the self education path. --If you asked me about game development I could Target you on a specific learning path.

Thanks for your reply and help


And if you are serious about this, you need to find several people with the skills to fit the holes in your skill set.




I guess I'll have to approach it from the same view I would an indie game.

First it's all most impossible to get skilled people to give away work or even advice for free. Skilled People like to be paid for their skills. Also people who aren't even qualified to do tasks want to be paid in the game scene.

Next without something to show recruitment is impossible (unless you have a name or network to bank off of). So in games, I'd take a month or two to build a nice prototype. That usually can be used to attract budding people with skills looking to get their name on a public project.

With that prototype I can usually solicit not only team members but also funding.

So I guess if I sit down with 3dsMax (sub AutoCad/Revit) and model out a design over the next few days. Then I can hand build some form of a working proof of concept over the next month or so. The fact that the mechanical and electrical sub components might be set up complete wrong and inefficient won't matter. From the exterior I'll have a nice looking basic-functioning device. After that it's a matter of leveraging the show-me prototype to gather funding and team members to build the serious prototype.

Yup it's basically a game. A quick crude show demo that's less about good design, code or proper functionality as it is about conveying the ideas to the correct people. Then gathering the proper talent to rebuild said idea into a well designed, coded and functioning demo that can be used to stoke the attention of more team members, the community, the public and of course the financiers/publishers.

Finally given a total lack of advice in addressing my question about a path to follow or any meaningful or constructive reply short of "be specific about your design" and "find people",  I'll assume that winging it my/this way is the best path. It worked in Game Dev for a decade and a half , why not here.

Thank you for your time and help


This is a very broad question to ask, but the best answer would probably be to decide what you want to do, and then research the ways that you could accomplish this. With your specific example you want to control the height of some sort of pins. Off the top of my head I can think of a couple of way this could be accomplished- you could use servos, linear actuators, solenoids, even pneumatics.
Next step is to educate yourself on those topics. How do they work, what hardware is available, how easy is it to interface with Arduino. As an example, it sounds like you won't need particularly powerful lifting hardware so determine exactly how much weight your hardware will need to lift and then use that as one of your selection criteria. You probably wouldn't bother with pneumatics if you only need a few grams of lifting force.
From there research how your chosen lifting hardware is controlled. Are the multiple methods of control? Which one is most suitable? From there, buy a lifter and hook it up to an Arduino and start trying to control it. Learn to control it before you go and build your prototype.


Highly skilled people give away advice or knowledge all the time. Just look at the StackExchange sites or even here on this board.

The problem is that you're asking a hugely open, broad question akin to "how to I program a computer?" Does that mean a server? A phone? An embedded processor with 2k of Flash memory? On what platform? Linux? iOS? etc... You need to narrow it down a bit.

If you're asking "how do I design a machine" I'd say google Alexander Slocum's MIT courses. They will take you from zero to a reasonably skilled machine designer in a few months. But you need to learn physics to really grok some of the concepts.

Choose a specific subset of needs. How do you raise and lower a small pin that's about 1" long? I can answer that generally, or very specifically depending on what you need. The simple, general answer is "use a solenoid." Now you run off and learn all about solenoids and come back to tell me "they use too much power" or "I need finer control." Then I say "build a screw-based linear actuator." Again, you go off and learn about building that kind of actuator and tell me that it's too big, and so on. In all this, you learn techniques and related issues like how to specify mechanical parts, how to connect things, common methods of design, and most of all, how to trade off cost for functionality.

There's lots of help available, but before you can use it, the helper needs to understand where to point you.
Electronics and firmware/software design and assistance. No project too small


I detect an attitude problem, but I don't see much effort in finding help. Have you advertised in local barber shops? Have you gone to retirement homes and interviewed people? Have you gone to your local high school or community college and asked for help? Have you gone to the local taverns in the evenings and met people who might be willing to help, or know someone who might help?

Have you gone to local metal suppliers and asked if they know of someone? What about local machine shop? Is there a local car club that might know of someone? On and on!



First it's all most impossible to get skilled people to give away work or even advice for free
Funny, I've found just the opposite. :)

-jim lee
PNW Ardiuno & Maker club
1012 9Th Street, Anacortes, WA 98221 (Around the back of building)

Go Up