Learn What Did and Didn’t Work In this Prototyping Post-Mortem

[Tommy] is a one-man-shop making electronic musical things, but that’s not what this post is about. This post is about the outstanding prototyping post-mortem he wrote up about his attempt to turn his Four-Step Octaved Sequencer into a viable product. [Tommy] had originally made a hand-soldered one-off whose performance belied its simple innards, and decided to try to turn it into a product. Short version: he says that someday there will be some kind of sequencer product like it available from him, “[B]ut it won’t be this one. This one will go on my shelf as a reminder of how far I’ve come.”

The unit works, looks great, has a simple parts list, and the bill of materials is low in cost. So what’s the problem? What happened is that through prototyping, [Tommy] learned that his design will need many changes before it can be used to create a product, and he wrote up everything he learned during the process. Embedded below is a demo of the prototype that shows off how it works and what it can do, and it helps give context to the lessons [Tommy] shares.

When it comes to discovering practical issues and unexpected, lurking problems, hands-on prototyping can be a great teacher. Another great teacher is experience, and that is an excellent opportunity to bring up [Dan Gelbart] sharing his 40 years of mechanical prototyping experience. In the first few minutes of the first video, [Dan] talks about choices in enclosure design and gives a good idea of what the rest of the series is like. It’s a great follow-up to [Tommy]’s write-up about his prototyping lessons.

16 thoughts on “Learn What Did and Didn’t Work In this Prototyping Post-Mortem

    1. Not true. About 15 years ago we had a product ‘down-costed’ by Vestel. We started with the ‘on one pcb’ design. When they’d done with it, it was a bunch of single-layer PCBs, connected with (socketed!) wires, and one tiny multilayer board.

      We were surprised, but they drastically cut the BOM. Also, Chinese labour is ridiculously cheap.

  1. I enjoyed this immensely. Good on Tommy for sharing with us all. I think that is one thing that can be hard to do: to know when to shelve something vs further torture to man and machine and to start anew with what ya learned. Good luck with your future products, Tommy :)

      1. You are most welcome. I’ll have to keep an eye out for your future projects. I would have enjoyed playing around with this one as I liked the layout and controls. It looked like something child to adult would be able to comprehend and use. Keep at it and congrats on surviving the sharktank of HaD relatively unscathed heh heh.

  2. Start production NOW!
    Hopefully it will be ready by Christmas for many Grandparents and Uncles and Aunts to give to pre-school children (and drive their parents crazy!).
    Make it rugged and give it a long battery life!
    Too bad Toys’R Us won’t be around to help you sell them.
    B^)

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