December News

Mechanical CAD

A while back we requested some quotes for electrical panels. The prices were rather harsh considering how much less we paid for them on another continent. So we decided that we would design some sheet metal ourselves with the holes and slots in the correct place, plus be able to get exactly what we needed.

A week in November and another in December were set aside to learn SolidWorks. We had attended a morning demo at the Adelaide Solidtec Solutions office, and many folk we chatted to for manufacturing prototypes used SolidWorks. Collegues in South Africa at the Automotive Technology Research Centre had extensive experience in SolidWorks.

3D CAD allows a certain amount of experimentation and photo-realistic rendering is very useful, but we are entering a foreign field and do need some prototypes that we can hold and feel. A MIG welder was bought for light work, but we will need to get something with a little more control for thinner sheet metal. We purchased the Professional version and the software arrived on the 14th. The tutorials on SafariOnline were useful, but it will take a while to master this beast.

SolidWorks software package

SolidWorks Software package — the transfer from the chaos of scraps of paper into 3D models has begun.

Seasons Greetings

2012 flashed past quickly — alas, we managed to do less than originally planned. The detours introduced us to sustainability, took time out to evaluate several microcontrollers, and convinced us to move away from contracting to making our own products. Our overseas investments have been transferred to Australia, which will help on the prototypes.

To all our suppliers, clients, and friends we have met during the year, have a Merry Christmas, and the bankers permitting, may next year be a good one.

Nativity scene

The Nativity scene characters were made by a lady who sold them at ”Art in the Park“ in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. My mom had these, so they were bought at least five years ago. The photo was taken in Petersfield (UK) last month. The figures are about five centimeters tall.

Tales from the woods

And the winners are ....

UBS joins the billion dollar fine club together with HSBC for manipulating LIBOR. HSBC paid a whopping $1,9 billion for a range of evils.

Just last month, in BBC News Business (23 Nov), “UBS trader: What next for bank after Adoboli conviction?”.

The introductory paragraph read — “Officials at UBS this week breathed a sigh of relief after their former trader Kweku Adoboli was convicted of fraudulently gambling away $2.3bn (£1.4bn) of the bank's money.”

Not only the electronics sector shed jobs in 2012, but also banking. These figures are for UBS, Switzerland's biggest bank — 3,500 jobs cut in July. Another statistic that might interest our readers:- A $60bn bailout for UBS from the Swiss government after $17bn losses in 2008.

The banks who lent to the high-tech sector must have their winners and loosers — up there near the dart boards, together with the tottering Mediterranean economies (UK and US not looking so flash either). Likewise, the tech sector wishes to acknowledge the year 2012 winners in the financial priesthood. Apparently, many more will be announced by the US Regulator next year.

  • $327 million fine — Standard Charter
  • $350 million fine — Lloyds
  • $536 million fine — Credit Suisse
  • $298 million fine — Barclays
  • $619 million fine — ING
  • $500 million fine — Royal Bank of Scotland

On that thought, we leave the banking sector news. No doubt next year will be just as bright. Thank goodness the Zimbabweans had spent their billions before they were gambled away by the financial sector.


Did Apple's patent invalidation cause the share decline?

In October, the US Patent Office invalidated all 20 claims of Apple's ”rubber-banding” patent (brought to the world's attention in the Samsung trial — US Patent No. 7,469,381). In December, the US Patent Office “tentatitively” declared an Apple patent covering multitouch as invalid on all 20 claims (US Patent No. 7,479,949).

In a November post, HTC licensed the Apple patents that Samsung was accused of infringing, despite claims of irreparable harm.

If it is not the banks, then the smart phone and software companies will keep us entertained through 2013. Once again, thank you to Oracle and Google for shedding some light on API copyrights.

At least the US Regulator and lawyers can look forward to another stellar year ahead.













Digital Signage

We will be entering the digital signage market with products based on the Freescale iMX6 quad-core with multi-monitor capability. This will take a while before you see a final product with a part number. The metal work should start in January. We hope to take delivery of the iMX6 modules in February.

We evaluated the Freescale iMX53 a while back, then more recently the Texas Instruments Sitara for the same products. The Sitara evaluation board failed to live up to the marketing promises as the software did not run out of the box, so it was abandoned. Since then the TI OMAP division had a change of heart — a turn-around in not having to be a major ODM or smart phone manufacturer, and as a real favour, to service the industrial embedded market. They recently announced retrenching a large number of engineers in the OMAP division, so Freescale it was. (We also wanted multi-monitor output).

We will be basing our products on prior art that goes back hundreds of years with references to photographs we took of old cathedrals and castles. On the initial sheet metal work, we will steer clear of Apple patents — there will be no rounded corners on our rectangular fixtures. The LED lighting will be a bit newer than our medieval photography, and the digital signage will be a bit better than the 1950s flickering TV images, or the late 1800s to early 1900s black and white silent movies.


Two photos of RGB LEDs with very small currents to try and show the individual die, but the viewfinder and final photos differed. More on these later ...