The ultimate vehicle-hacking platform

Apr 30, 2021

Project update 7 of 7

Campaign Suspension

by Florian Eich

Today, we have some news. And, as is often the case, it includes good news and bad news. Per tradition, we’d like to start with the bad.

The Bad News

Our campaign has not gone as we hoped. You probably already know that. Over the past few weeks, we’ve tried to switch gears, pushing in the direction of "showcase" updates. We prepared several good ones, but then we hit the deadline for priming production, at which point we realized that we have another problem: availability of the STM32F103CBT6 has dropped off a cliff. At present, we are being quoted lead times of 44 weeks for the MCU. And lead times for other components are less than stellar as well.

In short, we were already behind, and now the global chip shortage has sealed the deal. So it is that, with great disappointment and in consultation with Crowd Supply, we have decided to suspend the board::mini campaign. All orders will be cancelled and no credit cards will be charged. Thank you all for your support thus far; we have learned a ton from this experience. In fact, we’ve already started working on fixing things – which brings us to the good news!

The Good News

You read it right: we’re suspending the campaign. This is a temporary state of affairs, and we will be back!. First and foremost, we want to allow some time for STM MCU availability to settle down. (We’ve looked at possible alternatives, but none of them tick all the boxes.)

Meanwhile, we want to tell you about the changes we are making to improve the board:mini series.

Community Interaction

We believe now that we should have involved the community earlier by posting the project on Hackaday and by discussing it on platforms like Reddit. This was a missed opportunity. In retrospect, laying that sort of community foundation is critical when trying to share something great that one has built and that one uses every day. For our relaunch, we will do a better job of coordinating this effort and making sure that we’ve engaged with and listened to the broader community well in advance of our launch.

In the meantime, we will continue to post regular updates here as we make progress toward a relaunch.

Showcases and Examples

We knew that showcases and examples would be important, but just how important was a key realization for us. So far, we have shown you glimpses of how we use these boards. Rest assured that we have more and that we fully intend to publish them. (We are working on a "solid engineering" version of the word clock we showcased previously, for example, and we’ll present that soon. But we also have some race-car-related content for you. Definitely follow us on the socials!)

The Boards

We still believe in these boards and in the modularity that underlies their core design. It remains important to us that they be compact, extensible, and not overly generic. There are, however, a few improvements we intend to make. Below are a few examples:

We’re also looking to integrate LTE / 4G instead of only GSM, and we’re planning to remove the ESP32-WROOM-32U from the mini::pit in favor of a less capable but more appropriate Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chip.

Stay tuned here and follow us on social media to learn more!

Software, Tooling, and Docs

Indecisiveness, especially my own, is the main thing that has slowed our progress on all things software. But now that indecisiveness is a thing of the past! We’ve decided that we will be a Rust shop going forward. Accordingly, we will officially support a Rust library for all bmc::board projects. That might mean leaving aside some basic Arduino tutorials, but we feel strongly that it’s the right choice.

As you probably guessed, we are a company. And, as a company, we have a day job. That job involves analyzing data from race cars and designing, building, and providing software for control-systems oversight in motorsports. Some of that happens on Windows, but much of it involves backend Linux development, so we’ve been on the Rust train for the past two years. This decision to focus on Rust for embedded applications is one that we’ve been dreaming of for quite a while now, but our confidence in the platform’s maturity has only recently grown to the point where we feel comfortable commiting to it. The team and I are very excited about what this means for our future, and we hope you are too!

Finally, we intend to expand our Wiki with more tutorials and examples. Generally speaking, we’d like to help more people make the transition to Rust more quickly by providing a supported platform with plenty of examples and tutorials. We are invested in that mission, and our wiki is one of the tools we will use to pursue it.

Campaign Offering

We believe our board::mini campaign offering was a bit too fragmented. Without going into too much detail, we plan to simplify the campaign offering and assess the relative level of interest in various additional expansion options.

Thank You!

So there it is, and goodbye for now. We thank you for your support and interest, and we commit to a stronger, more succinct, more community-oriented relaunch in the not-to-distant future. We still believe that we have something really cool on our hands, and we fully expect that you will agree with us soon.

We also want to thank the great people at Crowd Supply for believing in our project in the first place, for their patience, for their continued support, for all their great advice, and for all the effort they have invested in our campaign.

Stay healthy, wear a mask, and get vaccinated. We’ll be in touch soon. Until then, happy hacking!

github | twitter | instagram | linkedin | bmc::board project on hackaday

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