Making more Gechos

Making more Gechos

As you've probably heard before, the first batch of Gechos was manufactured for our Kickstarter backers, plus some reserve - and because 99.5% of the boards actually worked, there were enough left for people who discovered the project later... till recently.

These are getting scarce now. What happens is basically that after the boards are prepared, programmed and tested, they exist in a form of "Do-it-yourself kit" and I build some of them to offer as "completed units". This consumes significant amount of time. While it surely means a lot of fun for a hobbyist who doesn't mind spending hours (or even days/weeks with more advanced "master" version of the kit), it's not humanly possible for me to make, test, pack and ship more than a handful Gechos per week.

Improved Design

The plan is to manufacture more boards, and while we're at it, why not to take opportunity to upgrade them slightly?

I've started redesigning the board in recent weeks (animated gif, might take a moment to load):

Green is top layer, yellow is bottom layer, red and purple represents vias, pads and unrouted signals - "air wires".

As you can see, mounting holes were moved a bit, but all other elements on top side - LEDs, sensors, buttons, mics, power switch, USB and 3 Jack connectors stay pretty much where they were, only one Jack and sliding switch was added.

What's new:

  • the MIDI extension will be installed from the factory
  • elements that currently require hand assembly were substituted with machine-placement compatible version (connectors, magnetic sensor, microphones)
  • there is a new Codec chip, combining DAC and a proper ADC, so we don't need to use MCU's 12-bit built in ADC anymore (this frees two GPIO signals that are routed to additional Jack connector)
  • Li-Po cell charging circuit has been added
  • two new LEDs in bottom right corner to indicate charging status
  • the USB driver chip CH340G has been replaced with a FTDI one that is easier to come by from local suppliers and has more common drivers
  • automatic reset feature at firmware updating (less hassle), also useful for the PC app
  • USB "mini" connector replaced with the more common "micro"
  • one more 3.5mm Jack, to be used for either sync signals or MIDI in (both MIDI in and out is still available at all times via the soldering pads as before, so it is possible to mount DIN5 connectors if you want them)
  • a new switch (the same as power switch) to choose between two shared functions of the new Jack connector
  • minor optimizations, e.g. resistors replaced with resistor array, for easier assembly and more space on board

What's left to do:

  • add a connector for Li-Po cell
  • figure out best way to connect 3xAAA battery holder as an alternative
  • SWD programming connector would be handy to have at the edge of the board

Anything Else?

I'd love to hear your thoughts or suggestions, what else are you missing here. While the design / layout of top side should be kept consistent with previous version, space was freed on bottom side that could host additional elements, connectors or soldering pads. Ideas welcome in comment form below (requires registering for account on this website), or in the manufacturing survey (just add a note if you already voted there before, so I know to not double count it).

The Survey

If you haven't completed the survey yet, it would be very helpful if you could spare a few minutes and vote here, to give me better idea about your preferences.

The current results are here (this is updated automatically, as new votes come in).

That's all for now, watch this space for updates about the progress, and availability information.

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