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MEDIC!!

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Medical Console PCB DesignSo there I was, in a relaxed, almost Zen like state, performing some final assembly work on of a batch of Stasis Pod electronic kits whilst promising myself that the next kit would definitely require a lot less hand assembly (soldering is hot work you know), when “ping, ping”, my email client started panicking – which brought me back to the real world, muttering profanities about *&$% spam. But, quelle surprise – it wasn’t spam, it was a request from Neil, to come up with some ideas and designs for an electronics kit to light the latest Wild House Models venture – a Medical Console kit which can not only act as a companion to the Stasis Pod but also stand as an independent model in its own right.

So, the my first task was to take a look at the 3D Solidworks electronic models carefully crafted and supplied to me by Roger, Wild House Model’s CAD expert.

CAD rendering of the Medical Console

Yes, that actually is a rendering and not an already complete model!

The first things that I noticed when I saw the views of the 3d Solidworks design were side entry/exit ports and cable grips for the power and pod cables. This didn’t fit in with my blinkered thinking, as I wanted to use USB connectors and I couldn’t see the entry/exit ports being big enough to fit USB plugs through the cable holes, even though I intended to use micro-USB format this time, rather than the slightly larger (and as it seemed, less popular) mini-USB format. At this stage however, we had already committed to getting the 3D printing of the outer two console assemblies, so what to do? I had a brainwave – or possibly I woke up a bit, and realised that these ports could be utilised for other purposes – of which, more anon.

Now, I had an inkling that something like this project might happen so I had designed the Stasis Pod electronics in such a way that, with a modification to it’s programming, the pod could communicate with other devices. So, this was an ideal candidate to use the connections I had the foresight to provide. Actually, I’m fibbing. The Team were already aware of the fact that the Stasis Pod was capable of being connected to, and had intended the intercommunication all along. Just let the models talk to each other was the brief – simple huh?!

Onwards and upwards. I now knew what had to be done. Ok, say the Medical Console is intended to standalone, with no Stasis Pod for company – whats it going to do? Light up the display screens? Ok, no problem. Flash some lights? Again, ok but not very challenging. Hmmm, why not try to make it reflect the modes of the Stasis Pod, even though its not actually connected to one? Fine, lets add provision for a means to switch the modes of the Medical Console and program accordingly. Cunning plan that really, because now we have just invented a reason for the side cable port(s). Of course, I’m going to claim that I planned that all along, aren’t I?

So, to cut a long story short, what I’ve decided is that the Medical Console will do the change modes thing by means of changing different indicator lights, including an RGB led, using a switch, but if you do connect it to a Stasis Pod you get the full experience. The Stasis Pod modes can now be controlled by the Medical Console switch and/or the Console will just follow the magnetic card switching of the Stasis Pod.

The three display panels will be dynamically edge lit under the control of the onboard microprocessor and the indicator lights will reflect the Medical Console status, also under conditional control.

As a taster, here comes an image of the main board design so far. The unusual shape is so it will fits snugly into the main centre console section of the model. I’ve taken on board the comments from some pod kit builders and Roger, the designer, and I are making sure on this model that the electronics will fit the kit with no need for any screws or spacers – literally drop in, plug ‘n play. The more astute of you may have noticed the second smaller pcb design. This is our means of getting power into the model and power out to the Stasis Pod (yes, the Pod be able to be powered by the Medical Console) and also for communications between the two models.

Medical Console PCB Design

Medical Console PCB Design

So keep tuned and I’ll endeavour to expand my ramblings with some demonstration videos as the design progresses, and document the prototype build and test stages in further Blog entries.

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