New hardware coming in with rotary encoder, band filter, TCXO, beeper and vibration motor

Hello friends,

After months of tinkering with every variation of Meshtastic hardware out there and being unable to find a user-friendly one-size-fits-all hardware unit, I decided to take matters into my own hands. As of today, I have 2 investors on board willing to invest in my company which will partner with a manufacturer to design, test, and certify these units. We will be selling these units worldwide with a warranty and after-sales support.

While we are in the early stages of developing a prototype, I would like all prototyping to be driven by customer demand instead of profitability.

As of now, the unit will be similar to a T-Echo. It will be based on the nrf52 platform, a 1W SX1262 chip, an e-Ink display, rotary encoder, band filter, TCXO, beeper, e-compass, pressure sensor, temperature sensor, humidity sensor, and vibration motor.

The 1W chip will have variable transmission power output, depending on the region you are in and if you possess a ham license. The addition of a high-quality TCXO and band filter will enable a longer range at the same transmission power.

The rotary encoder will be used for sending canned messages in case your phone dies or breaks. The beeper and vibration motor will alert you to new messages and will be controllable through the phone app.

A major complaint from users has been the quality of antennas. We will only be supplying omnidirectional and Moxon antennas which are tried and tested to be of optimum performance.

Our price target for each unit is below 80USD with worldwide shipping and taxes included. Each kit will include the assembled unit, a battery, 1 omni antenna. There will be no hassle of soldering, 3D printing a case, hunting for a battery and an antenna, no additional charges for shipping or customs duty.

I would like to hear opinions from the forum users about what they’d like to see in the new hardware. If you think we are making a mistake or going in the wrong direction, please let us know! The collective expertise of this forum is necessary to create something which makes everyone happy.

Once the prototypes are ready, we will indeed be sending them to the developers working on this project and a few active users on the forum.

Cheers!

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Nice.

I would not bundle a vibration motor into this type of minimalist units. Not worth it in my opinion, but maybe this is directed at hearing-impaired audience ?
What battery will you bundle ? I would go for 18650 li-ion if possible.

I wish you a successful journey, and if you make profit, please contribute code by hiring a dev or offering bounties.

Cheers

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The vibration motor is indeed meant for hearing impaired users primarily, but also as an additional sensory medium in case you miss the beep.

The idea is that these devices can mean life or death, so notifying the users in every possible way is top priority. We will also be including an LED which pulses only for new messages, for a brief period.

As for the battery, 18650 is an option but the form factor and weight limitations might make us use another battery (user replaceable, off the shelf).

There will of course be code specific to the board, but all code will be directly submitted to the main meshtastic repo. We will be responsible mainly for the hardware.

Since it’s an open source project, we might look forward to committing a certain amount of money per unit sold as donation to the project.

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Sounds interesting are you including GPS?
Perhaps I will try beating my range record :slight_smile:

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Yes, multi constellation GNSS with a high performance antenna will be included.

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This sounds great. I know board space is always a premium, but I think it would be great if there could be a breakout on the board to bring any of the controls and/or screen offboard for other enclosure applications.

Thank you for your hard work.

Scott

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I’d buy the waterproof version. As would SAR.

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The screen and antenna could be relocated for different enclosures but I’m not sure if it’ll be easy to do the same for controls. I’ll keep your feedback in mind, you’ve made a good point that I never thought of before.

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I thought about IP68 rating but then again, I looked at waterproof phones and how they need to be “sealed” again after opening them up for repairs.

We want the unit to be easily repairable and extensible. For those reasons, waterproofing might not be feasible. It can be weatherproofed but not waterproofed so easily.

Perhaps a rubber gasket lining along the edges of the case with screws might work.

What is SAR?

Search And Rescue: Search and rescue in the United States - Wikipedia

A split case with a strong wide rubber band over the join could be workable. The great outdoors is wet around here.

I guess in many cases you could get away with a waterproof case. Bonus points if you could make it fit in a standard waterproof cigarette case

Sounds like a great idea to me. I think that an important task is to be able to give the battery a long life, since in outdoor activities it is normal to spend between 2 and 5 days with difficulties charging batteries. Would it be possible to easily configure the device to wake up and sleep for periods of time to send location and receive messages? Thanks!

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I think there still needs to be an SMA connector coming out somewhere. Waterproofing that might mean that the SMA connector might not be repairable for end users.

The nrf52 based devices consume very little power in standby mode.

I would even say it’s almost as good as “sleeping” already. I think a T-Echo paired with a 2000 mah battery can easily go 3 days.

This would probably be a software change anyway, as opposed to hardware.

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The sma could come out the side? Somewhat like the TTGOv2 users could then put a 90degree antenna on it and have the antenna inside the cigarette box if they were so inclined.

This is awesome! So excited to hear somebody’s doing this.

On one level the waterproof case seems like a bit much to ask for, but on the other hand I’m spending a lot of time on that myself. I’m figuring out small inexpensive solar panel solutions along with hi gain omni directional versus directional antennas (or combo options), so that I can have a ready-made design that can connect small communities to each other and then to other nearby communities. I’ll offer to put them together inexpensively for community members that are interested in one. I’d love to just buy the whole package & be done with it :slight_smile:

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IP68 certification costs a hefty buck, even if we did this. Waterproofing is something we can consider but not promise.

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I don’t think we will supply solar panels of any sort. Everyone has different requirements in that regard.

If I’m not wrong, it’s quite easy to source a good solar panel fitting to your needs. Some people will need a smaller panel because they live near the equator, some will need a larger one near the poles, and some will need a weatherproof panel.

Since the board will have a standard USB-C connector, connecting it to a solar panel, or a battery with a charge controller shouldn’t be a hassle for anyone.

I will definitely consider providing housing that can fit the board, antenna and a power bank but IP68 certification is an expensive hassle.

Such a box will probably be a low volume product and that poses another problem when it comes to storage.

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The easiest thing would just be to design it within these dimensions:

People who want waterproof can just put it in the affordable, widely available box.

A 6000Mah battery would fit in that case

A cheap wireless charger would probably work through the thin plastic too, so you could charge whilst waterproof.

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I have been thought about waterproof from weeks ago. At my side, the most important thing is how to provide user buttons.

Magnets work, but they’re not perfect. Capacitive sensors work, but are not sensitive in rain. Optical gesture sensors also work, but are susceptible to sunlight interference. The power consumption of millimeter wave radar is not low enough.

Using industrial design to achieve waterproof buttons is certainly feasible, but very expensive, especially when the production batch is small.

I am still thinking.

I Love that your doing this. It takes all the reasons I started using meshtastic, and streamlines them into one device. Will definitely buy a couple when youre done. Thankyou for investing your time and money into this.

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