How to Go from Concept to Prototype: Part 1

Most people have a great idea that comes to mind. You want to create it but something gets in the way. It may be that you have to much functionality, don’t have direction, or don’t know what components to buy. I am going to talk about in 3 parts on how to go from concept to prototype.

Concept

You finally have your first concept of building a drone, weather station, security lock, or motor controller. But now you need to make a prototype. Wait!!!! Don’t start buying the parts yet even though it is one of the most exciting part. First you need to write down your idea and what functions you want in it. We will practice with a weather station.

One of the first questions we have to ask ourselves is this: Is this product going to be for a customer, hobby, or something else? We will say hobby.

Choosing Functionality

I want the weather station to read:

  • Temperature
  • Pressure
  • Altitude
  • Rain accumulation
  • Snow accumulation
  • LUX (Sun Brightness)
  • UV intensity
  • Solar powered
  • Connect to the internet
  • Connect to my phone
  • Wind Speed/direction

Alright you have a lot of ideas, but if this is your first time you probably won’t get your concept to prototype. The reason is there are a lot of functions that may overwhelm you once you start trying to put it together. So lets choose a couple easier ones to start with.

Skills

Great now that we have narrowed down the list to less than 5 we can start figuring out what type of platform. What kind of skills do you have?

  • I have:
  • Know how to design Motor controllers
  • Altium Experience (Schematic/PCB Design)
  • Know some software (C,C++, Python)
  • Know how to solder

Even though my skill set suggests that I could make a custom circuit board with all the bells and whistles we will start as if I know only a little bit. So we will go with arduino as the software for it is not too hard to learn. Also there are great sparkfun or adafruit tutorials which can teach you how to write software or how to connect the hardware for sensors that will get the functions to work.

You are on your way to making your idea go from concept to prototype. Next blog will be on selecting parts. From here there are other steps you can take like form factor, cost limits, timeline, etc. If you want me to share my thoughts on these types of steps, comment on this blog.

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