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Pi-LCD

October 2nd 2015

After a few quiet weeks from the team here at RagwormHQ we are back with a brand new and exciting blog for you.

Today’s offering is all about the fantastic new Kickstarter that has been designed by one of our lovely Proud Geeks. This Proud Geek is none other than David Saul who is no stranger to the world of Kickstarter.

We was lucky enough that David agreed to be part of a Ragworm interview to expose the ins and outs of what it takes to be product designer and how he got to this stage in his life. This was the outcome!

Firstly could you tell me a little bit about yourself and your background?

· What attracted you to a career in tech?

I’m not sure I really know, it just always seemed to be the path I would go down. I do remember getting the Ladybird book “making a transistor radio” when I was about 10 which really started me off down the road of electronics. Later on I got very into controlling lights with home built electronic circuits which via a HND in electrical and electronic engineering took me to my first job, with a theatre lighting for a company called Rank Strand. From here I moved to work as an engineer in the Oil & Gas industry where I still work today.

· Where did the idea for this Kickstarter originate from?

There are 2 elements, the first was my initial Kickstarter the ‘PiMuxClock’ which gave me the idea for vertically orienteering the PCB on the Raspberry Pi. The second element was a desire to have simple platform people could easily use to develop s/w applications for LCD displays on - for their own products or as an educational tool. With the Pi-LCD board you can focus on what you want the s/w to do and not worry about having to worry about connecting the display up.

The hardware interface to the Pi is simple and well documented so once you have working prototype it will be easy to copy that element into your own design.

· What can the Pi-LCD do for me at home?

As I have said earlier I expect some people to use it to develop their own display applications, Some other ideas are as a simple RSS reader - look in MagPi issue 19 for the basics on how to do this or maybe just to display info about the Pi it’self - for instance IP address. The board also includes buffered drivers for RGB back lit displays so maybe you could think of a way of adjusting the colour based on RSS or twitter content to indicate mood ….. Connections for I2C and 1wire interfaces are also brought out to the back of the board, so it is easy to connect and display readback from external sensors

· What has been your proudest achievement?

That depends, recently I guess getting my first Kickstarter pledges out to the backers on time was important to me. This will also be true for the Pi-LCD where I have set the early bird pledge rewards shipping date as November so people can consider it as a Christmas present for the Pi owner who has everything.

· What has been your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?

In truth I have tried to keep the design as simple as possible to avoid too much technical challenge, the main issue with the Pi-LCD has been accommodating the different backlight connection variants. This took about 4 iterations to come up with really flexible design.

· What skills have proven most valuable to get you where you are today?

I think the skill which is most important to me is the ability to adapt to change and problems. I have been working in and around new technology for about 30 years and the reality of technology development is that there will be always be change and things will generally not go the way you planned. Being able to manage this sort of ‘disturbance’ effectively has been important to me down the years.

· At this point in your career, if you was given the chance to do anything differently, would you and what would it be?

I have been very lucky to have had continuous employment in my career to date, but if I had my time again I would take a bit of time off when I finished collage - I had less than week from finishing my exams to starting full time work which I think was a missed opportunity to do a bit of travelling before the realities of grown-up life hit.

· What’s next for you and the Pi-LCD? What do you foresee as your next steps?

Firstly to get to the end of the Kickstarter it would be great to hit the stretch target. Longer term one of the Kickstarter goals is develop the Pi-LCD as an educational resource. As part of this I will be looking for a school already using Raspberry Pi’s to work with on this. The other aim once the Kickstarter pledge rewards have all been delivered is to get the Pi-LCD stocked through an existing Raspberry Pi accessories retailer. I’ve got ideas for a couple of other projects, one serious the other less so. The main issue will be time as I have to fit my electronics development around a full time job and family life.

· Who has been your biggest inspiration and why?

I think this would have to be Mr Price my secondary school maths teacher, who introduced me to programming and digital electronics - as part of what would now be year 7 he had the whole class writing simple BASIC programs on punched cards that he would take weekly to a local collage to be batch run. Unfortunately he died a few years ago otherwise I am sure he would have been a keen supporter of the Raspberry Pi.

· Why Kickstarter?

I was attracted to Kickstarter because there was a good history or successful Pi based campaigns, so was confident of reaching a large number of potential supporters.

· What are three top tips that you could give to anyone thinking of doing a Kickstarter?

• Try to de-risk the project as much as possible before you launch the Kickstarter

• Look to raise a realistic level of funding, people are not going to fund a lot of what they perceive as overhead

• Think about how you will manage if the Kickstarter is a runaway success - for instance does your cost base allow you outsource build and test

His brand new design Pi-LCD graced the land of Kickstarter a couple of weeks ago and since then it has gained full backing. However … as you know every little helps and there is always room for more backers to help fund projects! Snap up this new product at this great price whilst you still can!

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