The last of the V1 ExtraCores have sold out. About 600 of them sold in one year. The majority were sold on the Kickstarter. I’ve been working on a V2 design, but it’s been on the back burner. There are a lot of factors involved in that. Read to the end of the post if you are interested in my ramblings on that subject.
Meet ExtraCore v2
What is ExtraCore?
ExtraCore is a postage stamp sized Arduino Uno compatible board. V1 came with an external power regulator cost $10.50.
What’s the same?
Well, practically everything. Same layout, same components, same size, same Atmega328 pins exposed. This is the working prototype of V2. Other than some problems in the silk screen it’s 100% ready for production.
One of the ground pins has now been replaced with a RAW power input pin. This means you can power the board without the need of an external power regulator. Moreover, you can tap into clean 5v from the VCC pin if needed. In other words, you can connect a 9v battery right to the RAW pin.
I’ve added an AP1117E50G-13 power regulator to the back of the board. The regulator can take up to 18v, but the board may not be able to sink that much heat. The regulator can also supply up to one amp of power. That’s more than the Atmega (and possibly the power traces) can use.
When can I get one?
The design isn’t quite final. The prototype is working, but I want to beef up the power traces and test the power regulator some more. There is also still the matter of finding a manufacturer and a way to take pre-orders. In order to make the board cost effect, at least 1,000 will need to be made. http://tindie.com now does fundraisers so that’s the most likely platform for taking pre-orders.
V2 back story or why it’s not ready for ordering yet
For one the Robotic Minion Starter kit took up a lot of time. I got a laser cutter in order to make enclosures for that product. It turned out to be a versatile tool with a lot of possibilities. Getting new laser cut designs out and for sale is much faster than the cycle for electronics. As I try to build up a sustainable business I have focused on getting more products in the market. That means the laser cut projects are getting priority.
Another thing that happened was a change in the rules for Kickstarter projects. Specifically you can only offer one reward per customer. So no more 5 and 10 packs. For the ExtraCore that really doesn’t make sense. Kickstarter built the best pre-order marketplace in the world and decided it wasn’t what they wanted.
The last thing that happened was the manufacturer I used for ExtraCore V1 has politely declined to do V2. That leaves me looking for another place to have them made. Since I quit my job and I am living on savings, I can’t afford a project that is going to break even or possibly lose money. On the other hand I am passionate about keeping the price point of the ExtraCore as low as possible. If you want a tiny Arduino clone and are willing to pay $25, the Femtoduino is a superb package. I don’t see any value on trying to compete head to head with such a great product. Instead I want to offer a real choice to Arduino users.