While waiting for funds transfer, I took some time to review the remaining issues with both the Flasher and Kits. I decided what needed to be fixed, and what is not really important but may cause delays. As the result of that work, 2 more PCB revisions have come to light, with a few extra features added.
First of all, I was able to make both TPI and UPDI work, which makes me happier than anyone else. Now I can actually call it swiss army knife for all ATtiny variants and generations. Well, almost. I still need to integrate two new protocols into firmware, since now it only kind-of works as proof-of-concept code. And surely not everything that works on the table still works when implemented in the hardware, as I’ve had the chance to witness many times.
So for the latest "G" revision I did some minor fixes, added both TPI and UPDI support on HW level and most importantly, I’m ordering it from the supplier that I’m hiring for production run. As much as possible will be executed on the supplier side to ensure expected quality is delivered to every backer.
To be completely honest, producing the Flasher Kits in an economical way will be quite difficult. When ordered in small quantities, this kind of simple project wouldn’t make much sense financially, since the up-front costs makes their price unreasonable. To fight that issue, I’m doing some work to optimize costs, having desired volumes now better defined.
So in fact, I’ve developed a custom panel that will distribute start-up cost among all Kits, pushing the final costs down. The price to pay is the necessity to produce all Kits in equal quantities, even if demand is not that optimistic.
As mentioned before, I’m planning to flash and test batch myself. Even with small quantities, this is quite a lot of work for one person, when performed manually. Therefore, I’m looking into developing firmware that will be able to validate all vitals on the board in an automated way and report it back to the host. The good news is that both the Flasher and Kit components are extremely breadboard friendly, and it should be relatively easy to come up with the solution.
Chip shortage hit me as well (surprise!). Let alone prices for MCUs, which have doubled at best. I had to switch a few parts with equivalents, since the originals are no longer available. Not really happy to switch from known good parts to anything else, but I don’t have any other choice really.
Having said that, the first batch consisting of 60 Flashers and 15 Kits have been sent to production and should get back to me within a month. Fingers crossed, they should reach their first happy customers not long after.