21 May 2015

Paying Dues! Sending Beer to Sparkfun...

We’re very close to fulfilling the Kickstarter now and stock is arriving from the four corners of the globe. This week the Pro Micro clones arrived. These are just a bit cheaper than the originals from Sparkfun but nowhere near as cool in green. As an Open Source design the Chinese manufacturer should have placed an attribution on the board but as they come without attribution you’ll find it on the on our MeArm Brains PCB.

We also thought it would be good if Sparkfun were to get something out of the deal since they provided the designs for us all to use and abuse. This is what we sent them:

and this image is of Nic (yes that Nic) pouring a tasty Open Source beverage.

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12 May 2015

The Mirobot Learning Site

I’ve always made a big effort to make sure that the instructions for building Mirobot were clear and the “build” section of the site contains everything you need to be able to get Mirobot up and running. One thing I’ve always struggled with a little is where to put all of the other content like tutorials, lesson plans and challenges that make Mirobot more fun to use.

I just launched the Mirobot Learning Site which makes it a lot easier to create new content to help people use Mirobot in new and interesting ways.

Mirobot Learning Site

You can filter by skill level and document type to find the content you’re looking for. I’ll be adding to the tutorials on an ongoing basis, but get in touch if you have any good ideas for things you’d like to see up there.

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26 Apr 2015

Distributor Map

Phenoptix.com has been the home of the MeArm since it started life but we’ve started to build a network of excellent distributors who can offer a great deal more than the old phenoptix store can. To make it easier to find where to get a MeArm in your area we’ve put together this map

showing you exactly where you can find a MeArm locally. If you can’t find a local supplier please let us and even better a potential local supplier know!

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21 Apr 2015

Kickstarter-based product development

Product development has changed a lot in the last few years. It used to be that bringing a product to market was a massive upfront process that was also quite high risk, but with crowd-funding platforms like Kickstarter springing up this has all changed.


Almost exactly a year ago I launched the pilot version of Mirobot on Kickstarter with the express goal of getting help developing the product so that it was easy for everyone to use, not just the tech-savvy. Over the last year I’ve managed to get nearly 1000 robots into the hands of willing beta testers which has meant that I’ve been able to collect all kinds of feedback on how Mirobot has (and more importantly, hasn’t) worked.

Putting your product into the hands of real users challenges your preconceptions about how it will be used and especially about what people will find easy and hard about using it. But this is the crucial step in ensuring that you’re building the right thing. Fortunately, the big upside of Kickstarter is that I was able to do this with very little financial risk because people have paid in advance.

More and more product companies are turning to Kickstarter as a platform not just for the initial launch and funding of their product, but for future products as well. Take a look at the wildly successful Pebble as an example. Today I launched another Kickstarter, but this time for the finished verison of Mirobot, that has none of the quirks and issues that the pilot version had, is much, much easier to build and a lot more reliable. I’ll do another post on the differences in the new version shortly, but in the meantime, why not head on over to the Kickstarter…

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