Friday, November 3, 2017

Batteries Not Included... (not the 80s movie with the little UFO toaster robots)

One of the greatest luxuries of being a designer in the car and toy industry was being able to play with and carelessly throw around other people's money. R&D budgets were limitless (so it seemed) and there were teams of a dozen or more engineers working on a project at any given time. Once a product was conceived and given the go-ahead for production, more teams engineered, tweaked, tested, and manufactured it. Let's not forget about the legal teams that hovered over every step. Money was simply numbers on a page that we were trying to reduce so profit margins could be met or exceeded. Holy crap things are different when this is a one man show... 

I've been very excited about the developments with the i-type conversion but as I mentioned in a previous post, I need to keep reminding myself this isn't a commercial manufacturing project using someone else's cash but rather a homemade science project with a wicked limited budget.

slim and tidy said they...

pic stolen from ebay out of all places...

The results of the survey posted previously were pretty much in favor of the slimmer design (83% to 17%) and just about everyone that took the survey agreed that a rechargeable li-po battery was the way to go... I even have CAD data ready to print. But without an R&D team behind this, there's not really any way I can make it happen and unfortunately it comes down to legal issues as always. 

After doing a lot of research and even consulting a few individuals that have been in situations like this, there's way too many legal and compliance restrictions when offering a 3D printed small run product containing a lithium ion polymer battery to the general public. A project and product like this requires safety testing, dedicated product and safety engineering, and needs to meet IEC safety regulations. Go to the very back page of the new Polaroid Originals Onestep2 (or any manufactured electronic product) and you’ll see a smattering of logos like CE, FCC, and other technical certification logos. Any kind of electronic device, appliance, etc. needs to pass a series of tests to earn these logos on products. There might be a few reading this and nodding their heads thinking "no shit... I could have told you that.". I really never thought about it before announcing these would be available. I got ahead of myself... Oops.

If anyone wants to comment by the way and point out that I'm wrong or there are ways to work around this (legally and safely), by all means feel free to chime in!

So I need to stop here... I can't hack something together for a quick buck just to find it could catch your house on fire. Even if it's the consumer's fault for using it wrong, we all know who gets bent over the table and screwed six ways till Sunday. Yep... lil 'ol me. And at this point, I’m already over budget and schedule. If I were to go the li-po route I would want to do it right and be safe about it but don’t have the assets to do so at the moment without it being a new full-time job. In the meantime, let's hope that someone else with commercial manufacturing capabilities, a team of product integrity engineers, and a barge full of money considers picking this idea up to go the li-po route.

So, for my own protection, it's back to my original design using 4 AA batteries (not included... just like the title!) to power the camera with the potential for a removable battery pack (in progress). I've used it and love it. It can be a bit bulky with the battery pack in place but work with me here... think of it as an "era specific" product. :D I think those that would like to use i-type film will be pleased with it as well. 

Hey, look over there!!! Did you know I'm gonna offer an SLR680/690 3D printed faceplate that won’t blow up in your camera bag or set your trousers on fire?


  1. As a product designer I sympathize with the aspect of FCC testing and all that crap. Would it be possible to still offer the mod as a kit without the battery and simply have the buyer purchase a 3rd party battery pack separately? Or maybe repurpose an existing LiPo battery from a compact camera / eBay?

    1. Nice... you understand the frustrations then lol. But yeah, I'm still investigating that option. I'm not 100% sure that would be liability-free either but I like these ideas though... :)

  2. ‘Was going to’ - are you not working on the 680 pieces anymore?

  3. What about making a version that utilizes an empty Polaroid/IP film pack? Those packs have tons of left over juice, and everyone that shoots Polaroid usually has a few packs lying around for testing/troubleshooting purposes, PLUS they are already the correct voltage and are really nice and thin! Wouldn't this work? You would basically just have to develop an external battery connector. Am i crazy?

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