MacroFab Engineering Podcast #194
John Teel of Predictable Designs returns to the podcast to discuss designing for Injection Molded Enclosures for MFG.
Guest Joseph Broms talks about his experience in prototyping and designing his product ProtoBricks.
Episode 200 is Coming Up!
Parker is an Electrical Engineer with backgrounds in Embedded System Design and Digital Signal Processing. He got his start in 2005 by hacking Nintendo consoles into portable gaming units. The following year he designed and produced an Atari 2600 video mod to allow the Atari to display a crisp, RF fuzz free picture on newer TVs. Over a thousand Atari video mods where produced by Parker from 2006 to 2011 and the mod is still made by other enthusiasts in the Atari community.
In 2006, Parker enrolled at The University of Texas at Austin as a Petroleum Engineer. After realizing electronics was his passion he switched majors in 2007 to Electrical and Computer Engineering. Following his previous background in making the Atari 2600 video mod, Parker decided to take more board layout classes and circuit design classes. Other areas of study include robotics, microcontroller theory and design, FPGA development with VHDL and Verilog, and image and signal processing with DSPs. In 2010, Parker won a Ti sponsored Launchpad programming and design contest that was held by the IEEE CS chapter at the University. Parker graduated with a BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Spring of 2012.
In the Summer of 2012, Parker was hired on as an Electrical Engineer at Dynamic Perception to design and prototype new electronic products. Here, Parker learned about full product development cycles and honed his board layout skills. Seeing the difficulties in managing operations and FCC/CE compliance testing, Parker thought there had to be a better way for small electronic companies to get their product out in customer's hands.
Parker also runs the blog, longhornengineer.com, where he posts his personal projects, technical guides, and appnotes about board layout design and components.
Stephen Kraig began his electronics career by building musical oriented circuits in 2003. Stephen is an avid guitar player and, in his down time, manufactures audio electronics including guitar amplifiers, pedals, and pro audio gear. Stephen graduated with a BS in Electrical Engineering from Texas A&M University.
Special thanks to whixr over at Tymkrs for the intro and outro!
Welcome to the macro fab engineering podcast. I'm your guest Jeri Ellsworth.
And we are your hosts Parker Dolman.
And Steven Craig.
This is episode 194.
Holy cow. That's a lot.
Jeri Ellsworth is a self taught electrical engineer and entrepreneur with over 20 plus years experience designing and building mass market consumer electronics. She assembled the initial hardware r&d team for the Valve Software, and was a key contributor to the technology used in the popular HTC Vive. Well, at Valve, she began work on the AR technology that would later become the basis for the technology behind tilt five, where Jerry serves as CEO and co founder
and chief Miss mischief maker to
miss just make your Hi.
My had a hard time like spitting those words out.
Thank you, Jerry, for coming on to our podcast.
Thanks. It's a it's an honor,
we're having you on today to talk a little bit about tilt five AI and a little bit of what goes behind that the manufacturing. But let's let's go ahead and start by Can you give us a description of what tilt five is?
Well till five is AR glasses as these glasses you slip on, you flip open a game board and magic just springs in front of you just right out of the table. AR is augmented reality. Okay, freaking holograms on your table. So what we've all dreamed about since we were kids watching Star Trek. And so, you know, I've been hooked on the idea of trying to build this for years. And so that's what we've built. We're primarily game focused right now, because we need to put all of our marketing dollars behind one thing. But it actually can be used for a lot more than games. It's also multiplayer. So if you have multiple people around the table, you can all share this volumetric space. And you can do a lot of really interesting things with having unique views into this 3d space. You know, for instance, if you're a dungeon master, and you're doing a d&d game, you could set up your entire world map ahead of time, have all your monsters and traps in there. And all your friends sitting around the table, don't get to see the monsters until that moment that you want to spring it on them. And there's all these cool theatrics you can do as well. I can wave your hands over the the game board and drop like an eerie fog into a valley or you tell stories like the villagers told you not to enter the cave and then but you did it anyway. And then you spring the monster on him.
I love when the DM says you did it anyway.
What kind of adventure game would it be if you didn't just go headfirst into the place you're not supposed to go. And something that's also unique about our system is that you can link game boards together. So if your friends can come over to play like that action RTS game, you can just link your game board now you have a shared volumetric space between the two houses. And so when you move your hands through the 3d space, you can actually see your hands moving through, you're talking to your friends over the built in speaker and microphone, we've tried to make the system as integrated as possible. So truly is the the glasses you just slip them on and, and go. Which is pretty unique in this space. There's a lot of VR and AR companies out there. But we're the first to really achieve this. You just slip it on and go kind of experience.
So how does the glasses and this playfield actually work?
That's part of our like clever hack to make the system so low cost and make it such a great user experience. So the let me contrast it to other AR systems. So there are systems that try to put the light directly into your eyes. And there's a lot of challenges with this primarily around physics itself. You can't bend light very fast. And so if you want your headset to be small and light and high performance, you end up with a really small image, a small field of view. And so observation I made way back when I worked at Valve Software was that there's this really cool material called retro reflector. And the way this material works is any light that strikes it returns directly back to where it came from. And so the way our glasses work is we have two HD projectors in the headset that project out to the game board. The light strikes the game board and then turns around and then comes directly back to the user. And so that's how each user gets their unique view. And it also allows us to use straight forward optics to make a super wide field of view. So we're 110 degrees Field of View. So it fills your whole table with graphics. And then there's another property to our system because the aperture on our, our projectors really small, the bundles of rays that go out to the retro reflector and come back stay tightly bundled, and everything stays in focus over that entire range. So if you stick your nose into the game board, it's in focus. If you're two, two meters away from the game board, it's in focus. And that is almost impossible on a compact headset that tries to put the light directly in your eyes. In fact, there's no system out there that can do this. Right now the best is Magic Leap that can only do two levels of focus. And one of them is like, kind of like, stretch your arms out as far as you can in front of you. That's the first focal plane. And then the next one is like, way off in the dense distance like six meters. And they did that through brute force by like having two copies of the optical system stacked on top of each other.
Or when you mentioned brute force, I was actually thinking like the photons were like fighting each other or something.
Two photon enter one leave.
Yeah, the so retro reflectors. i That's what they what NASA put on the moon, correct? Yeah, for measuring the distance.
Yeah, retro reflectors are these really awesome, like optical systems. And there's different ways to do it. Ours use little glass spheres that are metallized on the backside that are embedded into this film. There's also cube corners, like if you were to slice a corner off of a cube of glass. And that's what they put on the, the moon was a giant cube corner that they shoot lasers into and bounces back. There's actually a cube corner films as well, which are really amazing. completely unnecessary for what we're doing. But they look beautiful, like they are very, very precise. All these really precise, cute corners embedded in a plastic film, see retro Flector on things like road signs. If you have any jogging gear that has like the silver stripe down the side, that's retro reflector.
So is that something that y'all developed in house and get manufactured or something that you found off shelf,
the retro reflector, we found off the shelf, it's in fact, we use the lowest cost retro reflector you can get because we can't see any difference between the high end stuff and the low end stuff for our application. So we have a processor that processes it and laminate it to a chip board, kind of like game board material. And then silk screens a tracking border. So our headset tracks the game board. So we need to know where you are in the world. And this border, that silk screened around the outside helps us figure out where north is and where the user is. And
but but that's also the glasses are using that border to track, in effect your head motion, right?
Correct. Inside the headset is two cameras. So we have one camera, it's a super wide field of view, it's 145 ish degree field of view, which is this huge cone of of tracking space in front of you. And that's used to track the game board. So it actually tracks the game board. When you're not even looking at the game board, you can be like looking way off to the side. It knows where the game board is. And it also tracks we have a six degrees of freedom lawn so you can carve through 3d space with it and interact with the game characters. So that camera tracks that wand. And so our headset emits 850 nanometer infrared light. We're one of the only systems out there that can work in complete darkness. You know, of course, gamers like to play games in the dark. So we had to put IR emitters on the headset.
Yeah, the best thing about being a DM is you know, the ambience hadn't went down. And
yeah, we need to, I need to work on work with the software team and get them to put like hue lighting control so you can trigger that from within your game. The eerie Miss settles into the valley and then lights go down. Fog of War. Yeah, literally the fog of war that our our system can work in full daylight to to darkness because of this infrared emitter that's in there. Then we have a secondary camera, which is a high resolution camera that's on a totally different wavelength. And each of these cameras have dichroic filters on them that are bandpass filters that only lead that wavelength of light through. And so that one's running at 940 nanometers. It's a little bit narrower field of view it's 90 degrees and it's really high resolution and we use the IR LEDs to give us global shutter exposure with it which is really Cool, like, there's two types of image sensors out there, the way they operate as far as exposure, there's like rolling shutter. And we've all seen like on your cell phone, if you whip your cell phone sideways really fast, or you're taking a picture, everything looks like a trapezoid, like kind of skews. That's because one scanline at a time is being exposed and shifted out of the image sensor. In our case, we found an image sensor that we could set the exposure just right, so they're exposing all the time. And we put it behind this like very specific filter, and then we flash the infrared for a very short period of time and really intensely, and we get a snapshot of the whole image and then we scan it out. Normally. If we were to actually buy an eight megapixel global shutter sensor, it can cost as much as our headset. But through this clever trick, we're able to have rolling shutter artifact free blur free tracking of objects. And this high resolution cameras use for tracking hands is tracking playing cards, other objects that you put on the table. So we can actually take like your, your miniature, like a miniature Dragon, right and you you mini put it down and we can put virtual fire that it's breathing out of it, because we can track its position with that camera. So there's a lot of really cool stuff we can do with physical objects as well.
Is there any reason why? Well, it's obvious that they're using two different wavelengths to so they have an independent light source or photon source? I would should I should say, Yeah, is there any reason why one is such shorter than the other one?
Yeah, we use a deeper infrared for the, what we call the machine vision or the computer vision camera, because it's pretty far away from any source that's out in the environment. incandescent light bulbs, sunlight, things like that, we really don't have any problem tracking the game board if sunlights shining on the game board. And it's happens to have a lot of 850 nanometer light in it. But we really wanted to make sure like on a playing card, you want to extract out like fine details or a miniature you want to find the fine details on it, we wanted to be far away from any natural source of of light. And then on that particular dichroic filter, we actually there's two two stack filters in there, we made it extremely narrow, which reduces the throughput efficiency. But we made it extra narrow, because we could really hammer the 940 nanometer LEDs really hard and make up for it. And that just gave us more dynamic range to eliminate ambient sources. Gotcha. Sorry, hopefully that wasn't too like too deep and does awesome and optics and I totally dig that stuff. I I not trained in optics, but actually designed a lot of the systems that went into our, our headset, the I designed the projectors a lot of well not entirely but I designed big parts of the projectors, I designed a lot of the cameras system. And there's actually two silver little lenses that are in front of your eyes. Those are really special lenses. So the projectors actually project downward towards these angled reflectors, and bounce off those and go out to the reflective surface. And there's a bunch of polarization control that I came up with makes our lenses about 85% efficient. So if you were to say just put a 5050 beam splitter in front of your eye and try to bounce or reflect a projector off of it 50% of your light goes through and is wasted on your face. 50% goes out to the game board bounces off the game board comes back now 25% Of the remaining or 50% of the remaining light goes up to the projector again and only 25% finally makes it to your eyes. So controlling polarization on every single bounce. I was able to get the efficiency really really high. Of course to give credit to the actual optical engineers I came up with these crazy ideas prototype them actually the first prototypes were on my coffee table and then I handed it to the pros to refine it and make it even better but super fun. I mean this been a dream project working on all this really cool optics.
So are you not getting much reflection back into your eyes from the lenses?
Huh? No. There's actually part of our patents are on like controlling the backside, reflecting and reflectance. So when you see the the backside of the glasses there dark gray when you see the front it's Silva. And so we have tons of patents around the optical systems in our our headset. In fact, the very first prototype that I made, it was like, Well, I don't think it's going to really work because you have these kind of angled reflectors in front of you. And you're seeing all of this reflectance coming up from like your shirt and stuff, and it's getting to your eyes. So the ambient light in the room was making it a bad experience. So we sold that and patented it, don't violate my patents.
So what what kind of team did you have for developing this?
So it's interesting, I started this project all the way back at Valve Software. So I started learning about AR, it was pretty amazing. Valve Software hired me to put the team together there. And so we put together this really amazing dream team. And we were given the mission to bring the whole family together in the living room to play games, because Valve is all about games. And so we did a ton of fundamental research on everything from VR systems and AR systems and reading people's minds with galvanic feedback systems and reading people's people dilations we actually like could read people's emotions with super high accuracy. And then we could feed that back into games to make games more fun. That was a really, it was an awesome opportunity for me to be in that environment, because we had unlimited budget pretty much and this mission to just solve these problems no matter what. And it actually let me see probably 20 years into the future. Like just through brute force, like we were making these contraptions that were insanely expensive 10s or hundreds of 1000s of dollars and strapping them onto our heads. And then, you know, like, wow, the future is awesome. And actually, retro reflection and using it for display was something I discovered there and prototype there. A Valve decided they wanted to go all in on VR, they didn't want to do ar so they cut the entire AR team, which I was on. And I ended up going back to the founder of, of Valve Software, I'm like, You should just sell me this technology, because we'd prototyped a very early version of this. And then I guess they didn't think there was much to it then but I could see where it was going. And so I purchased it for $100 and a bunch of legal fees and a handshake. And I started a company called cast AR with that with a couple people from Valve. And we did that for a few years, made some prototypes. We did a Kickstarter ship, some units ended up refunding the Kickstarter money to everybody, when we took some investment from a Silicon Valley investor that wanted to take us in a different crazy direction, which ended up crashing the company completely. So that happened a couple of years ago, like we ran off the rails with this crazy investor. And a group of us are like, gosh, it's it's such a great piece of tech, we can't let it die. So we all pooled our money together. And we purchased all the patents and the technology again and started this company called tilt five which is the latest venture and we spent two years almost two years refining the product so we've come a long ways in two years. What we had a cast AR was pretty good, but this is freaking awesome now.
Yeah, so let's get into the like the design behind the current iteration of it because I actually got to see it way back when you first brought it to Maker Faire. Oh god the hot glue prototypes. Yeah. And it was inside that little tents. Yeah, yeah.
Yeah. Um, back then. We didn't have any of this polarization control we not nearly as refined Well, it was
all like, it was like hot glue and you couldn't even you couldn't actually touch it like they had to put it on you.
It was so that's right though. i Yeah, it looked great. It was just not as bright as the new glasses like we actually have to turn the projectors now down on the new glasses say hurt your eyes are too bright. Those old designs we just shot the light out above your eyes and because retro reflection brings it right back to the projector most of light was going right back into the projector and we just like dealt with a little bit of scatter. So you can see it so it was super dim.
or so. So that's why you have the the splitter that's in front of you. Okay, that makes sense now,
yeah, yeah. So now the light comes coaxial out from your eyes and comes directly back to your eyes. So the projectors only put out point six five lumens maximum and most of the time we run it like half bright NIST because it's just too bright. To put that into perspective, like a home projector, like if you were to shine it on the wall is like 600 lumens, and we're point six, five lumens. So, big, big difference in brightness, it's actually so dim of light that we project out. If you put your hand in front or a white piece of paper, you can't see it projecting onto the white paper, because just not enough light is there to come back. But since it's all focused on your eye, it looks like the super bright image. It's a really clever hack to solve all these physics problems. Some of the things that we did in this last year that are really neat in the new headset, is, people are probably familiar with virtual reality, some of you your listeners probably have virtual reality rigs and either have to have a highly optimized like self contained system that has kind of limited user experience, it's because it's gotta run real time, you got to keep that 90 frames per second up. Or you have like one of the HTC systems like our system that Valve did, where you have to have a big, macho beefy PC with like a, you know, high end video card to maintain that 90 frames per second, or you have a bad experience. What we did, and I was talking about this, even back at the valve days, I'm like someday, in the future, there will never be a V sync. In video, you won't, you won't worry about V sync, you'll just render the image on your game engine and just send it as soon as it's done. And the headset is going to take that and reprojected and upscale the frame rate to a higher frame rate. So that's what we did were we developed that over the last two years. So your game engine renders whatever speed it can render, it can render at say 15 frames per second, sends it over USB, as soon as it's done, it doesn't wait for a V sync. So you don't have to take that penalty of having a vertical sync. And then it lands up in the headset. And then it gets upscaled to 180 frames per second. And then we have a tracking algorithm runs right in the headset. So we have a tight loop in the headset that is re projecting the image and doing all these transforms on the image to keep it locked on the table. So we wiggle your head around. Even if the framerate of the game engine drops, you know really low, the image is just buttery smooth and stuck on the game board.
So your what your what your your headset is basically unlocked from the game frame rate. Yeah.
So the concept of vertical sync is something that came about 80 years ago or 100 years ago when television was invented. So you know, there's a raster beam that's scanning out the pixels to your your display, and there was a vertical syncs signal. Computers came along, like in the 60s and 70s, and started utilizing television technology to create graphics. And so they just utilized vertical sync, so you render your image. And then you wait for vertical sync and then you scan it out really slowly to the display. And so that's stuck around clear up until, you know HDMI and DVI connection still has a vertical sync. And so what we've done is, it's like there's no reason to wait for, you know, Virtus vertical sync to come along. It's just as soon as the picture is done, you just send it up to the headset. And as long as you're doing this tracking and reprojection it doesn't matter. Like if if you can render at 90 frames per second awesome if you can render 15 frames per second awesome. And that what that means for the end user is that you can plug into kind of modest cell phones and have a great experience or you can plug into a PC and have a great experience. Like my demo system that I take out on the road just uses integrated Intel graphics on it, which usually blows like if I see someone from the VR community I'm like yeah, that's just a chintzy little Dell with a Intel graphics. They're like what how and it also means that you can run multiple headsets off of one computer because you're not locked to having to maintain a super high frame rate. So that's one of our proudest inventions that we've done in the last couple of years and we're the only company that's doing it. So yeah, we rock
so the the actual headset itself, one of the like talking points in your Kickstarter and stuff was it was under 90 grams.
Yeah, that was hard to do. Like how
important was that number to hit and what were some of like the shortcuts or ways you were able to pull that off?
I mean, this goes clear back to Valve also, we, we force people to wear waited like safety goggles around all day. And we would put lead weights on them. And like, then we'd ask people like, how horrible was it putting, you know, 400 grams on your face, oh, my nose fell off, right. And so we kind of honed in on this, like sub 90 gram weight is kind of the threshold where you have to hit. And so for all these years, I've had that threshold, like it's got to be less than 90 grams, you know, if you want to wear it for hours. VR systems are a little bit different, like you have these big giant like ratchets, and you just crank it down on your face, and it just face sucks to your face. And you can like tolerate a little bit more weight that way. But you end up with like this, it's a horrible experience, because you have these red marks all around your face, and it's heavy and your neck gets tired. So everything adds up in the headset. And it's it's surprising what you have to do to actually get under 90 grams. And so our optics in the projectors actually were a big contributor to it. And we were over 100 grams, going into starting till five. And so we worked with our optics manufacturer to eliminate, like 1/3 of our optical path. And so the new projection system we came up with instead of having duplicate red, green and blue LEDs and collimated lenses and dichroic combiners. I had read about this optical technique used in microscopy, to use a special type of combiner, I won't reveal that. But the special combiner where you could take a red and a green LED and stick right next to each other and combine them into a coaxial beam without having to have all this extra optics. So that saved us a ton of weight because we got rid of, you know, a couple lenses, a couple of dichroic combiners and a bunch of plastic to hold it. So that shaved off like five grams. Yeah, it's like, you know, everything counts. And then a bunch of other things that we did, we did kind of a car technique, right? You know, you, you can have a chassis right in a car, and it can be kind of separate from the body or you can unitize everything. So we did a lot of work into like our circuit board is actually a strengthener in the actual glasses. So the glasses have to be dimensionally stable. So if the glasses are bending all over the place, and these projectors are going off in different angle, different angles, when you flex the glasses, it's a bad user experience, the images won't line up correctly. But we needed the glasses to be super rigid, so that those projectors never are pointing in the wrong direction. So we use circuit board as part of the strengthening member in the glasses, which was a little scary. I mean, we had to do a bunch of drop testing to make sure that parts weren't going to pop off the board. And, you know, actually using it, it turns out, it's okay like we, we We grabbed a bunch of different places and screwed it down to the main plastic in the chassis and made it very rigid. And then choice the materials to was important. So one of our earlier design had a diecast zinc bracket inside of it chipped to make it a little bit more rigid. And so we put a ton of work into replacing that with a very clever, shaped piece of nylon. So it has lots of ribbing, and kind of maximizes the stiffness of it yet, is light. So it's just tons of stuff like that. We just had to keep iterating it was just like, ooh, just seem to half a gram. And so we got it down to about 85 grams. And so that's and when I say 85 grams, that's, I mean, if you had 85 grams on the tip of your nose, that would be bad. So like there's a little bit more tolerance to like, can we shift the weight back? Can we even tolerate more weight in the arms versus hanging out cantilevered off of your face or are up high in cantilever so we had to think about that a lot too. It's kind of tragic like we're such a small team there's like I saw more opportunity in there to save some weight like there's we weren't quite sure how big the projectors were going to be when they came back. So we left like a little bit bigger cavity where the projectors were gonna go. Ah
If I had only known in advance the the size of the projectors we could have like Cut out like, you know, an extra half grand or something. Yeah,
that's actually, the next topic I want to cover is. So you brought a lot of products, consumer markets and stuff. And one thing I want to talk about is prototyping your finalized product. No, yeah. Or first article. So it sounds like you have the molds done. And so you couldn't make new molds.
air quote, done.
It's always air quotes done.
Yeah. So yeah, basically parts with high NRA fees like injection molding? How do you like, you get to the point where, like, you still need to prototype stuff. But how do you how do you do that?
Well, you know, there's these like, no go gates that you get to. And it's just like, you just have to put a stake in the ground. And you just have to commit. And so we did lots of 3d printing. And it's, you know, when you're working with nylons, there's, you know, resin material, that's pretty close. So you're pretty sure what it's going to weigh. So you do a ton of 3d printing. But then there's these situations like the projectors, where you just don't have final dimensions, and those are going to be coming in late. And you just have to accept that. And so, you know, we committed to tools, we cut tools, and there's a few things that you do, when you cut your tools is you, you don't texture them right away. Only fools texture their tools right away. So it was good thing, we didn't texture our tools, because like right now, like you guys are watching on video, but on our hinge, the actual hinge pin itself is misplaced. These arms are supposed to swing up and latch into place, there's a little detent feature inside, but they don't they just they dropped down. And then there's a little ledge here, because this pen is in the wrong place. So oops, we're in the glasses are actually completely functional the way they are. But we're gonna have to cut a big hole in our tool and put an insert in there and move that pin a little bit. And hopefully we get it right the second time, you won't have to pay through the nose to do that. There's a couple of little like tweaks that we want to do. We know that kids are going to be using these. So we were at a trade show and some kid grabbed it and like bent the arm way back and like fresh. It fractured in one area like okay, we're gonna have to like, look at that radius, you know, because, you know, some five year olds gonna grab this thing and bend the arms out 90 degrees from the so we'll make some adjustments there. That's just going to be removing materials that's cheap.
And makes it lighter?
No, it actually adds a little bit but it's on the arms. It's okay.
What good Can't they can't they just, you know, get out the TIG welder add a little bit of material and then re machine it.
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, you can do stuff like that. Yeah, we still have to texture the tools. It's kind of like it's I wish they were texture because our wand prototypes have texture on them. And it just looks so nice. But these it's funny, like plastic tools before they're textured looks so cheap in like toy like, because toy companies usually don't texture their tools, so I can see all the buff marks in.
So I got a question about that. I don't think Parker and I really ever discussed that on the podcast. So just a quick side. How do you pick a texture? Like? How, first of all, how do you know? And then how do you determine? And then how do you tell your manufacturer? I want it to be x bumpy, or whatever?
Yeah, that's a good question. I mean, because there's lots of textures you can choose. And there's actual sample books were in I have him in the other room actually been dreading going through picking last texture on this, like, you look at the sample books, and you add it to your CMF document. Now, I try to remember what CMF is. So whatever, it's the finish of the have the materials of the final plastic materials. And then you give it to the manufacturer, then they take your tool out to a place that treats it with like chemical edges and things to put these little pits or hit it with like
soda blasting or something.
Yeah, there's I honestly I don't actually know how they put the texture in there except for that. Sometimes it's chemical. Sometimes it's like steel shot and stuff and then you have your tool hardened. So yeah, I don't know. I'll pick one and we'll be surprised and we'll be happy with whatever it is because we're not going to cut another tool.
I recently went through that exercise at my work, we designed some light pipes. And we wanted we wanted the tip of the light pipe to have a pretty particular diffusion pattern. Just some of the light pipes we had been dealing with had a very light diffusion on top. And if you were just right in the beam, it was absolutely blind, right? Yeah, it was, it was ridiculous. So going through the exercise of finding the right finish is really tough.
Yeah, that's one of my gripes of new LEDs and products. Like they're too freakin bright
blue led a doom.
I know, like, take me back to the 1980s when you had Amber. Hey, yeah, Amber, gross green.
I want to go to Mouser and search for girls screen.
I mean, then the new colors are nice and vibrant, but a little too bright. Like, it's like Christmas every day. And looking at some of this consumer product with all these super saturated bright colors.
I actually have like a USB hub on my desk here. And I actually have a piece of tape over the LEDs, because they're just, they're just blue blinding. Like, actually, if I took that tape off, you would see them on my glasses, how bright they
are. The thing that baffles me is people that put those into battery operated devices, like you, I worked in the toy industry for quite a few years. And red LEDs were our workhorse because, you know, you know, 1.2 volts, you know, super efficient, you know, you're not going to bring your batteries down, cheap, cheap, cheap, cheap. You know, why put a, you know, a 2.6 or a three volts led and then burn that power and turn it into photons when you don't have to.
I had a customer that actually called out a pink led the other day. Oh, yeah, we found it and we put it on their product. And it's, I didn't even know that you could have pink. You can Yeah,
I discovered those a few years ago. And like pink, that's cool. It's cool that they can just craft any bandgap they want now and LEDs and give you pretty much any color. That I mean the first time I saw or like a commercial blue LED. I'm like, oh my god, this is just like something else. Like you guys are probably too young to remember the first blue LEDs coming out. But
I remember I remember being younger and they were a lot more expensive. That's for sure.
Oh yeah. Or my first UV LED that I got it. I went to arrow or mouse or somewhere. I had to like sign a waiver that the thing was actually dangerous.
I remember when I first started buying all these is from a website called ls diodes.com. And they unfortunately went out of business. Let's D man. Yeah. And that's been when I was back in high school though. And but yeah, I think it was because like, did like I didn't know about Digi key or mouser and but yeah, they just were like a you know T five T three LED supplier. But you bought UV LEDs and stuff like that the experiment with
the last bunch of LEDs I got for an art project I got from like, I don't know one of these like deal extreme websites. It was like 10 zillion LEDs for five bucks. And they're obviously the floor sweepings because like the blue LEDs are all different, like color and brightness and
the ones that did not pass the automated test.
Yeah, I put them into toys, though. Perfect. Yeah.
So on on the product to consumer market stuff. So on electronics, like sourcing the components and stuff like how big of a deal is that for your products? I don't know how many you're gonna build? Yeah,
what's the quantity?
Well, we have a Kickstarter going right now and everyone should go there and support us. We need as much support as we can go go go support a support to support us.
Actually, just as a quick update. I'm on the Kickstarter. Right now. You guys are currently sitting at 1.31 7 million out of a 450,000 goal with 13 days left. Yay. Congratulations.
Yeah. Well as you can. Well, let's talk about the Kickstarter. And then we'll talk about sourcing because it all kind of ties together. So we set our initial goal of like how can we produce this thing and not like have to sell our plasma every weekend?
Kidneys, but yeah, Yeah.
And so our initial goal was like we did a lot of back of the envelope calculations. I mean, we have our supply chain pretty well in place, but you just never know, especially with all this trade war stuff going on. So we were pretty scared. We said, like, okay, 450k, we think that, you know, we won't lose money, but we're not going to make any money. And then we'd have to go like hustle investors to keep going. So yeah, yeah, we hit that. Now we're starting to get into the realm where we can start doing volume buying where it starts to make more sense, we can actually make some margin on the product, which is exciting. So we really want to keep pushing like that number higher, so that we can actually produce enough units makes sense that we can do this volume pricing. Now that comes to sourcing, it's really tricky in it, like I have ulcers, just thinking about it every single night, because I hate to build products that have single source components. But there's a couple of single source components in our device. And we're a small fish in a big pond. And one of the parts in there, one of the semiconductors. We really, really needed this, there's no other option. So I approached the group that was in a bigger company directly. And they're like, yeah, go away, Kid don't bother us. And so like, but we really need this part. And so I started Luckily, I have kind of deep connections in the semiconductor industry through my LinkedIn. So I just started working my way up the chain. And then finally, I found someone that was like some VP of some business unit that kind of was above the top and like, please help me and they like rattled the someone's chain below, and they're like, Okay, we'll work with you. And they haven't been particularly great to work with because they're just not interested in our, you know, five to 10,000 units that we're going to purchase. So, a little scared that at any moment, they may just change pricing on us or decide to give it all to, you know, Google or somewhere instead of us. So that's always a fear. But my design philosophy around supply chain is always have second sources when you can. So one of my pet peeves is designing in power supply regulators switching supplies that are single source, I'll never do that. So I always, when I designed my, my circuits is, okay, here's the generic switching supply and might have to give up like, half a percent efficiency. And instead of using the maximum semiconductor really cool thing, I'm going to use one that there's three or four different sources. So that's, that's really important. That way, you can pivot at the last minute minute and get like the cheaper part or the second source for it.
So you actually have like, three or four different power supply, or designs really that are all functionally the same. Just they had different parts sources.
Yeah, same footprint, Oh, okay. Same footprint, maybe I'll have to drop in a different inductor or something to to make them work. And so those are the kinds of things I'm always looking for when I'm specking out. My design like, and sometimes you have to put more money into the design to like, I mean, there's these really groovy like volt power supply chips that you can have like three supplies coming out of one, but you can't second source source. And so if for whatever reason that source dries up temporarily. Yeah, when it comes to manufacturing, like you can't manufacture until every part is there. So it could be like the simplest stupidest thing like the screw that holds arms in. Like you can't get that and so production is held up for weeks while you're waiting for that particular stainless steel screw to show up. And it's, I think comes from I think that comes from being beat up so much in the toy industry because the toy industry has these design cycles where they plan one year in advance what their next Christmas toy is going to be. And you have a year to build it and a year to manufacture it. And there's certain checkpoints you have to hit like there's they're manufactured in China typically in there's fast boats out of China and they're slow boats out of China and the slow ones are cheap, fast ones cost more and heaven forbid for some reason you can't get your production done in time you have to airfreight things out, you lose all of your profit and so The fear of God was beaten into me. Never miss your production date. So have as many escape routes as possible. And I've done that, like I've, I've been like, we do our pilot run, we push the first like 100 units through, like, we're good to go. And then all of a sudden we get a message from the procurement department that, oh, that voltage regulator, you know, we were able to get 100 of them, but we couldn't get the 250,000 of them that you need next week.
Oh, my God, I think that was a problem when they built the 100.
It happens all the time. I mean, it's, it's, we're doing a Kickstarter, and having done a Kickstarter before. If you're a nanosecond late, that's when people come out of the woodworks and like,
You're a fraud. We're gonna keyboard warriors right there, right?
Yeah. So I'm trying to do everything I can not to make that. I mean, we were on our my first Kickstarter, I was late by, I don't know, maybe three months or something that was probably the worst three months of my life like, like, trying to show pictures like, here it is. Here's production tooling, here's production plastics, we're getting there. But still, you're gonna have the haters. Always. I hope I answer your question. I think I went way off the beaten path on your question.
No, that's fine. Yeah.
When do you plan to actually supply product.
So we've been building units. So we have a bunch of developers that are working with the actual glasses now, which is super cool. We're doing another production run for developers that are lined up next month. And so some of those will be going out probably as early as like December. Those are all the game developers that are making the groovy content that's going to be on the system. And then our first deliverable for Kickstarter is in q1 of next year. And that is our early beta. level. And so we've been trying to emphasize do not back the early beta, unless you want to help us find bugs, if you expect it to be a good product with no bugs, do not back us at that level. That's smart. We only wanted adventurous people that love hunting bugs. It's been working, we haven't had too many like takers on that. That tear, which we limited to just a few 100 units. And then the actual shipments of units start in June, and we've we filled up all of our slots for June. We've all I think we filled up all of our slots for July.
So you actually your Kickstarter has a built in staging for your product release as well.
Yeah, yeah. And we've been stair stepping those so like, in June, it's a certain number that we felt comfortable like shits gonna go sideways. And like I'd rather it go sideways on like, a few 100 units and sell your entire run. Yeah, so we can put our put the brakes on and say like, Oops, guys, sorry, we burned down everyone's house with the last 200 units. Let us fix that before we send out the next 1000. Up to this point. So far, I think we've sold about 5000 units, we have, like 2000 some odd backers, and most of them are backing at at least two pairs of glasses each, which is pretty awesome. So we'll probably I hope we can one double that go out and support us. Please, please. You
know, actually that brings up that brings up a question that I was considering when looking at your Kickstarter, maybe, you know, I was just kind of glancing through the options. But some of the options only come with one pair of glasses in a way that sort of seems to defeat the purpose. At least for like gaming with somebody I mean, I'm sure there's plenty of single player things in there. What was the the idea behind having one pair? Well, we
have a ton of solo play games. So all the games that come free with the system or solo play or multiplayer also would have a public lobby that you can go to and so if you want to play a game of Catan with your friends, you can just hook up with them there and play a game or if you don't have any friends available at the time to play that game of Catan you can go on find a stranger and make a new friend and play the game. So there's a reason to just buy one pair of glasses if you're just as you know, the only person in your household that will be playing the system or that's the the level that you can afford. Our base kit is $299 It's not the cheapest thing in the world. It's not terribly expensive. We also have a little more premium kit which is 359 I think fair Right. And then we have a three pack, which is like in the $800 range for like the family or your group of d&d. Friends. What's funny is we wanted to give a discount to folks that were doing a group pack. And so we started working with our logistics company. And we started crunching all the numbers, we're like, okay, we can do pick and pack for singles, we can do pick and pack for this more deluxe kit. What kind of discount can we give for the two player pack. And the numbers just didn't work out, we couldn't give any discount. And like every way we tried to work it, it cost us too much to have that extra SKU handled by the the pick and pack company. And so we're just like, Okay, we're just not going to put it in, people can just buy two single packs, it's cheaper to actually get two game boards, two pairs of glasses in ones and two boxes, than to actually have someone package it all up into a two player pack. And people have been like, so upset at us that we don't give them a discount on to player pack. And like Well, sorry, you know, we're in this to try to like be a successful company that doesn't go out of business, one month after we ship our glasses, so no two player, you just have to buy two of the single player and just have some spare bits. It's funny how those things work. Like it surprised us. Like we just couldn't believe it.
Yeah, I'm sure I'm sure there was a reason behind it. And sometimes you just have to play with what you got, right?
Yeah, it's just weird.
Okay, so how about the retro reflective material? Do you have multiple sources for that?
Oh, yeah, yeah, there's lots of sources for that. One of the interesting things working with the retro reflective materials to find a converter factory that convert it, that is used to working with chipboards like gameboard material, but also doesn't like Smear glue all over the top surface of it. And like, kind of mess it up. And it's a non standard process. So that's kind of tricky. Sites that it's like one of the simplest parts of our, our system. It's actually super robust. The material since it's made to go on like jogging gear is washable. So if you'd like spill your coke and pizza all over it, you just, we use Windex, I'm constantly spilling my coffee all over it. For whatever reason, windex just works awesome for it. But it can be destroyed. Like if you it's cardboard, basically with his reflective materials. If your kids jump in the middle of it and bend it all up, well, then you're just gonna have to, like order another one.
They try to stop the dragon. Yeah,
so it's not like anything like it's not forever. Or if you take a crayon to it, like if you can't get if you like smear wax on it, you can't get the wax off. Like, I don't know what to tell you. It's like, don't do that. That's great.
So do you have any more war stories to tell?
Gosh, war stories, I have all kinds of war stories. Let's see, let's see if there's any tilt five war stories.
So it's been really interesting in the last couple of years, in so when we recast AR I saw things go horribly wrong, by taking money from the wrong people. And having having them bring their leaders into our company to like, take us off into different directions. And so when we all got together to buy the assets of the company, we made the decision that we're never going to get back into that situation. And we we decided that we were gonna be very picky who we took money from. And so through the last couple years, you have to constantly be raising little bits of money to keep the company going, you have to hit milestones, and investors want to see you hit certain milestones before they give you money. And so part of my job was to go out and like visit all these venture capitalists on Sand Hill Road and various places in Silicon Valley. And I quickly started to pick up on code words that they use for, we want to like replace you and put our own people in. And here's some of the code words. It's the most insulting thing ever. Like I get so mad. I almost like veins are probably popping out of my head when they say it. It's like, well, we'll give you money but we want some adult supervision. Oh wow, that's rough. I've run huge groups with large numbers of people, I've ran businesses before, you know, that's just codeword for, like, you think that you have better vision for the company than us. You know, it's a bunch of garbage. And so there were times where we were just a matter of like weeks from going out of business. And, like, I'm talking to these investors. And boop, here comes a code word for we're gonna, like, fuck you over and like, bring our guys in to fluff you up and dump you to like Google or Facebook, right? I mean, that's the angle of a lot of investors. So I had to walk away from money at times where we're about ready to go belly up. And multiple times, we're near death's door. And just barely, I was able to scrounge enough money to like, get us to the next checkpoint. So we're in a good place now. Thank goodness. But yeah, that's, it's a unpleasant part of startup life in Silicon Valley. And that's why so many startups fail is there's two things like there's the fluff and dump investors that want to just flip you for a bunch of money, and they just don't really care about your vision of your product, your or your goals. And then there's the herd mentality of investors where they this week, it's blockchain.
I'd say I think, augmented reality scooters.
Yeah. Investors are just like this. Herd of pack animals that like, ooh, we heard that self driving cars are hot this year. And so everything on the periphery just dies, you may have raised your money. But because Bitcoin and blockchain is hot, you can't raise money for your your current project. And that's always like a risk. And, I mean, let's face it, VR, and AR didn't take off, like all the hype, suggested a few years ago, which I think is good. Like, I think it's good that now we're in this kind of growth phase where it didn't happen overnight, and the hype is gone. And now like real companies with real functional products with real utility are showing up, you know, with pragmatic growth, expectations. And so that's what we've been is there's looking for people that believe in our vision, and like, we had a lot of choices when we decided on what market to go after we could have gone after all kinds of things. We could have done education, we could have done professional tools for CAD visualization. And so we weighed all of those choices, we talked about it a lot. And we kind of narrowed it down to like, we're DNA of our company, we love games, that's the first place we want to go. Like, it'd be fun to do a CAD visualization headset someday, but we know nothing about it in the sales cycle is like, super long. So we started looking at like, well, we could, we could take on the $450 billion gaming market, look at that huge market. Like if we could just even get 1% of that which be like, be amazing. Then we started analyzing, like, Well, how do we do that? Okay, we're gonna be taking on Microsoft and Sony, and steam. And like, there's no way we can deal with competing against companies that are putting a billion dollars worth of marketing a year into their products. And we started looking around, like, what was a gaming space like, oh, tabletop games, there's not a lot of innovation there. There's actually a lot of trends pointing towards people wanting to play tabletop games, like tabletop games are super hot right now. Kickstarters like the biggest projects are all tabletop gaming, video game players, you look at the statistics of like, why people play video games now, like, like, seven or eight years ago. And as valve, we were doing these studies, and we found that like, 40% of the people go on and play games because they want to socialize with their friends. Now that number is almost 70% of the people that play video games just do it to socialize with their friends. And it's kind of a broken experience, like the best you can do is voice chat and hang out in fortnight, right? So we're actually providing like hanging out with your friends around the table or hanging out with your friends remotely and kind of feel like you're hanging out around the table by you know, linking your game board. So we felt that it was an amazing opportunity. It's only a $7 billion market but man, I'm, I've turned into such a CEO lately, like constantly spin In this story knowing my tam total addressable market,
no adult supervision needed,
that I'm probably totally hurting all my chances to raise money by being so candid, but I really don't I really don't give a fuck. I'm sorry. Like, if anyone has problem with that they're not are the right partner for us? Hopefully you guys don't have a family family friendly podcast. Oh
no, we strike between PG 13 and R. So
I was trying, I did a podcast the other day. And they're like, oh my gosh, you know, we usually don't do F bombs and stuff. And like, maybe we'll go bleep that out. And like, oh, I have an idea. Take just like a junky piece of the podcast and just like bleep every other word. And just like completely screws. But they ended up leaving all the F bombs in there, and they ended up not bleeping any of it. So,
yeah, it it takes more effort to bleep out stuff than just leaving like shit. And so
yeah, darn well, darn might. Someday, I'm gonna be on a podcast, I'm gonna convince them to bleep out like 10 words in a row. So war stories, let me think, is there any other war stories, I mean, there's like the classic war stories that I've told time and time again, about in the toy industry. I think the scariest one, because I was working on this project, it was the Commodore 64 joystick where I was hired to make a custom ASIC that emulated the entire Commodore 64, I'd never done a full custom ASIC before, it was a big risk. But I took it on, we pulled it off, I made the ASIC just in the nick of time. But there wasn't enough time to do a test chip. So they just went ahead and just made 250,000 of these are just like hundreds of 1000s. Yeah, they spent millions of dollars building these chips. And so they shipped them off to China. And I've done a reference board and like just mounted to this board, it should just work. And so I get an angry phone call from this really mad New York Toy executive yelling at me like it didn't work, like yelling, yelling, yelling. And he's like, you get on a plane, you get over that you solve this, I don't care how you solve it. And I'm like, Oh, shit, did I like mess up the chip design because there's not much you can do if you've like fucked up the chip design, it's like it's metal layers and diffusion layers on a piece of silicon like so I get over there and I walk into the factory and they hand me one of the units and I open it up and I look inside. And they had taken my reference design and thrown away all the decoupling capacitors and they'd relayed the circuit board out to make it cheaper. And they in fact, they had taken the ground plane and they split it in half and add like a seven mil trace between the two halves of it was terrible. Like there was no chance of it running at all. This was like a I think our max clock on it was 33 megahertz. So you need a ground plane and you need decoupling capacitors on it. But this is a toy factory there used to like the one megahertz at 51 based you know toys, you put one cheap, undervalued electrolytic at the battery terminal and that's it. So I could put my finger on the back of the circuit board and the thing booted up and like thank God I'm not gonna have to run to Mexico and hide this is an example of like pivoting real quick I couldn't believe this is my first time in a toy factory first time in a factory in China. So like well here's your problem. And so they like throw a bunch of people on doing a circuit board layout they do a circuit board layout and like an afternoon the next day like someone cruises in with like a big stack of circuit boards and they wire bond these things go up top these chips you know pick and place all the parts boom done and the pilot Ron was underway and they're like make 100 of them like in like two to three days after like such a disastrous situation like trying to not in the United States. It'd be impossible I just
like how like, they basically changed the circuit board so much. And there was like it's not working. I don't know why.
Yeah. The other weird thing that they did on this was it was a two layer fr for board. And so it was kind of it had two buttons at the top, which are these carbon pill button type. And I the reference board that I'd given like had two little ears that popped up that The buttons were going to be mounted to, they had done their analysis where it was cheaper to cut the top of the board off for those to kind of like doggy ears are and make it a single, single sided phenolic board with jumper wires. So it's like four or five jumper wires to do those buttons. And whatever was on that, it was kind of crazy that it was cheaper to have an operator sit there and solder little wires. And it was totally a nightmare, though. I mean, the yield was terrible, like the operator would like short things out when they're putting all these wires on there. But they didn't mind Labor's cheap, they would just open them back up, and they would debug the problem and then put it back together. Same factory, it was my first time experiencing like, weird toy product testing, I guess is the best way to describe it. So the line that was kind of adjacent to us was doing this kind of like doll that cried. And so they had operators assembling this doll, stuffing the electronics in it and then jamming it into the carcass of a doll and, and at the end, they had an operator that would line these things up on a big swing that was hanging from the ceiling. So she would put like 20 or 30 of these things laying face down on the swing. And the way the toy worked is the doll would start crying. And if you rocked it, it had like a rock sensor in it, it would stop crying after a certain number of rocks. And so she would go down the line and she would hit everyone on top with her fist and they would start crying. And then she would rock it that 10 or 20 times it took to make the the doll stop crying. And then once it didn't stop crying because the rocker sensor or something was broken, she would take them and just she had this bin that she'd lift the top up, and she'd throw it in it we'd still be crying. And when she left the bin up there just been crying babies I loved it, it was like But you know, it was really sad was this was 2004. And like, I don't know, I probably had a flip phone back then I had no way to record this. I mean, I would have loved to be been able to record this event happening. It was just I could not believe it. But I mean, this is this is a day in the life of a toy manufacturing line worker. There was another product there. I didn't actually get to see how they tested the final product. But I saw them like doing the prototypes in the model shop. And oh, the model shop is another amazing place. Like I wish I had a model shop. But they're working on SpongeBob SquarePants. Sling toys like the same like the sponge. Bob's arms were like linked together and there was a piece of surgical rubber hosing between the arms and you would grab his body and you put your thumb on the surgical tubing, you pull it back, and then you'd release and it had some kind of acceleration sensor in it to tell that it was like flying through there. And it'd be like, yeah, make a screaming sound
into a trash.
I'm sure wherever they I'm not even sure they were manufacturing yet. But I saw in the model shop, they were testing this at least prototyping this thing. But you have to come up with testing for these kinds of apparatus to make sure that it's working. So they must have had something that they would sling them when they
swim in a big ball pit and then go collect them all.
Yeah. I mean, that would be a really annoying one because you would sling it and it would go like flying away from you. And if it didn't make the noise, then you'd have to go pick it up and put it in a bin. There was another toy there. Shoot, what was this one, this may have been one of my other trips. I can't remember what the toy was exactly, but I was surprised at the waist. So I saw them when they were doing the rework. So they were re workstation were the ones that don't pass go to. And this one obviously the economics of it if the circuit board didn't work they just did through the circuit board away. So they would open the plastic up. And they would unsoldered the circuit board and it would just went into this kind of trash bin. And I just could not believe the mountain of waste in that bin it was just completely full of these circuit boards. The yields for must have been terrible. But they for whatever reason the plastics were worthwhile. And the circuit boards were not recoverable. So I have to say every toy that I did the yields were pretty good. So I'm proud of that.
That's actually amazing that the labor to take that circuit board out and toss it into a new one in is that was offset by the piece that PCB price being that expensive.
Yeah, it's, it's crazy. Well, it's gotten more expensive to manufacture in China. So maybe they maybe don't have operators doing as much manual stuff. But it's still, like when I was there, I was talking to one of the ladies working on the production line. And she was telling me, she had been learning English. So she was very excited to talk to me. And there's another story to this, I should say, tell too, but she was excited to talk to me, she had been learning English through watching movies. Um, she was quite good. And she wanted to move up in the company. So she can interface with an English speaking clients that she had, like her family had saved up enough money from the village that she lived in to send her into Shenzen to just for the chance to get a job in a factory. And so she found herself in Shenzen. And I lucked into a job. And she was working for like a few $1,000 a year, which she was telling me that it was just her whole family, even her extended family back in her village, were going to be wealthy because she was doing this and she was sending all the money back to her. Her family. There's such a huge gap. So we think like couple $1,000 a year that's just like, yeah, how could we do that to these workers, but the opportunities they have, you know, out in a small village or even less. So. Yeah, that was interesting. So the others kind of side story that that reminded me of is like, so one of the times I was debugging a toy. And usually you don't debug it on the production line, they just let you have like, some lab space. But this time, it made sense that I like had an oscilloscope or something. And I was looking at them as they came off into the production line. And it's almost 100% women working the production line. And there are the minders. I call them like the men that walk up and down the aisles that kind of like watch the women I guess, keep them working. And so so they're just this guy's kind of walking, and he's just constantly looking over the women operator's shoulders, not saying much. And like every time he'd get to me, and he looked over my shoulder, I'd whip around be like, Hey, how you doing? And he would just like snap to attention. And then just like walk off like I thought that was kind of interesting. I don't know. Like if he just wasn't used to women, like addressing him with such authority or what but it's, it's very, it felt very backwards to me there. And it was very odd that it was women operators almost exclusively on the production line. And some other funny things happen. They're like, I'm a monster. When I go to mainland China, I'm just so much bigger. And so I'm kind of a, I'm only five, eight. So I'm not particularly tall here in the United States, but I'm just much taller than most people there. And when I go over to the factory, I usually pick up someone from the toy factory that will take me through the checkpoint and take me over the factory and just kind of guide me through the whole process. And so she was this really small woman and she was talking to me, and at this time, I was playing roller derby. And so I was really tough and exercising all the time. And she kept looking at my arms. I'm like, strike up a conversation. She's like, your arms are so big and muscular. I mean, yeah, yeah, I play this game called roller derby. And they have us like do push ups and pull ups and stuff. She's like, Oh, not a good look. You shouldn't do that. And I mean, she was she was a trip. She was just telling me like how big I was. And like it's not a good look. And you're already big. Why are you doing this? Culture is it's fun pets.
That's fantastic. Um, actually, Jerry, where can more people find out about you and tilt five.
Well, go support our Kickstarter till five on Kickstarter, Kickstarter, Kickstarter, Kickstarter.
So I guess go to kickstarter.com and search for tilt five and they'll find it
in bring your credit card. Still have 13 days.
That's right. But they're going fast. You want to make sure you get in there for the July or Alright, okay, I'll take my CEO hat off. So for me you can find I'd spend most of my time on Twitter trolling Twitter, so if you want to come hang out with me on Twitter, that's a good place. Don't do Facebook evil Facebook. No, no, no. on my YouTube channel, Jeri Ellsworth. I have a lot of science videos. Sarah like to do take on hardcore science problems and try to dissect them and make YouTube videos. So that's a neat place to go. Things like doing your own semiconductors in your garage. Or sometimes I'll do art projects where I'll make a, I made a bass guitar, I have a Commodore 64 that ran all of the while I did frequency counting on the strings, and then I turned those into notes that went into the original sound chip from the Commodore 64. And it was really fun. Walked out to lava flows and Hawaii and scooped lava with a metal shovel. And my tour guide thought I was insane. But I did it anyway.
Did you ask to do that? Or did you just like, show up with a shovel ready to go.
I showed up with a shovel, I had this theory that it would work. So there's there's these weird group of off critters that live alongside the decimated lava flow area. And actually, some of them actually live on the old where the lava had flown afloat and destroyed houses and stuff, and they build new houses out there. But they're just kind of off grid. But they'll take you on tours out to where the lava is squirting out of the ground for like, two or $300 which is really fun. It's it's not safe. But I highly recommend it. It will take you out there and I showed up with these metal in wood handled shovels. Because when I was a kid, I saw, like in a nova special where someone was like a Vulcanus. I think that's what they're called. And they'd go out there with these long metal pipes. And they would like pick up scoops of lava and like analyze it. And I'm like, Well, best thing I can like get at the hardware store is like a metal shovel. And maybe the wood handle will just burn off instantly, but at least I'll be able to poke at it once. And so I show up in the tour guide. He's like, ah, that shows just gonna melt down. Like I don't think so I think that there's a lot. It's mostly, you know, silica, in the lava, I think it's actually much cooler than the melting point of steel. And he's like, No, it's gonna melt. Okay, so we go on out there. And there's a couple of things they tell you when you're going out across the lava flow because there's microclimates that show up there, because of all this heat and rain. And so it rains like in that area quite a bit. And you'll have like these complete white outs, and they warn you like if all of a sudden and it can come on within seconds, a total wiped out where you can't see anybody do not move. I'll talk to you the entire time. Don't move. And it didn't wipe out on us, but kind of wish it would have sounded cool, right? Like just a sudden, like, fog comes in so thick that you can't even see anything.
That's when the Dragon comes out of the volcano.
That's right, the eerie mist settles into the lava flow that villagers told you. You shouldn't go. But you do it anyway.
So when we did the shovel melt,
oh, well, I'm getting to that. Okay. Okay. So one other thing is super cool. Like, when a liquid rock cools, it becomes very hard really quick. So there's like these areas where the ground is still glowing through these cracks and crevices. And you have to cross these to get to where the lava is flowing. So the the tour guide would start you go first, right? They go first. They go. They walk across and check the safety of it. And then they have you walk across and be like, do not stop for very long on this. This area. And as you're walking across, it's so hot that the soles of your shoes are getting slippery because it's melting the kind of rubbery plastic on the bottom of your shoes. It's really cool. But you as you're walking across, you're looking down into these cracks. And it's glowing maybe two inches below you. It's really really cool. There's always a chance there could be a cavern underneath it opens up and swallows you, right. So it's, that's why it's not the safest thing. So we get to where the lava is squirting out of the ground, which is so cool. First thing I run up with the shovel, I grab a big scoop of it. And my first thing I realized like, I don't know what I'm thinking is like this is heavy. This is really heavy. It's liquid rock as I'm walking back with a big scoop of this molten rock, like this rock. And then I like dump it on the ground a little ways away from all this heat. Like it's hard to get close to the lava because there's so much radiated heat, but I like dunked it on the ground. I'm poking it with the shovel, and I'm kind of forming it I'm like It's like taffy. It's It's amazing. And so a couple of us went out there we had two shovels and we spent like two hours like scooping lava and playing with it and every once awhile the handle would get kind of Bernie and smoky but it ended up not melting the shovel at all. I was right it was mostly like glassy. silicates when we're done I just heaved the shovel right into this big, liquid, gooey lava and just kind of float over top of the shovel and buried for all time. Which is funny. My on my YouTube channel, I love the haters. You know, come on out. Haters come just be mean to me try to be because it just all bounces off. But my lava video brings out the most hateful people like I hope you fall face first in and die bitch. Like, my response to them is like low and then they try something on the wall. And then the other like haters are like, I can't believe you polluted the environment by throwing that shovel into the lava flow. Like Give me a break it's gonna be like 100 million years before that piece of metal surfaces again.
Yeah, and just the fact that that volcano alone is spewing out so much stuff anyways.
Yeah, all the sulfur dioxide. I mean, it smells really sulfurous like one of the other things is he warned us like when these like microclimates come through, it mixes with the sulfur and makes sulfuric acid so your eyes and nose will burn a little bit and he's like, Don't worry, it's not that bad. You'll live I definitely if I go back to the Big Island again in Hawaii, I'm gonna go you know, see if I can get closer to the main vent. I think that would be amazing. Yeah, that the temperatures there probably will melt a shovel. Because, you know, it's probably pretty damn intense. There was all this recent volcanic activity. I don't know there may be other opportunities to cause chaos and piss off YouTube. Freshmen Yeah.
Well, thank you so much, Jerry for coming on to our podcast. It was a lot of fun talking to you.
It was super fun honor thank you for having me on. I will put my CEO hat on please back us we need your help. Well, hey,
maybe in like eight or nine months we could potentially have you back on to talk about the new war stories.
Oh, I would love that I'm sure stuffs gonna go completely sideways. Maybe when I'm over and in the factory like dealing with them. We could do like in real time, like, login. Oh my god. My my tools fell on the ground and got dented. And now we have to rebuild them in one.
Go scoop up some love and rebuild them.
Yeah. I'm down.
So Jerry, you want to sign us out?
This was the micro fab macro fab.
Let's go with it.
That was the macro fab engineering podcast. I was your guest Jeri Ellsworth.
And we were your host, Parker, Dolman and Steven Craig. Let everyone take it easy
and the way the toy worked is the start. And if you looked at it had like a sensor in it, it would stop for a certain number of weeks. And so she would go down the line and she would get everyone on with her and they would start and then she would get the 10 or 20 times it took to make the the stuff and then once it didn't stop because her sensor or something was broken she would take them and just she had this shoot the top up and she'd throw it in it would still be she wants to step there just
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