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27 Oct 2011

An Open Hardware project in Washington, DC by Kevin Green

UPGRADE INDUSTRIES was founded out of necessity, because I couldn’t keep waiting for a company to design the product I needed.

Let me take you back to a time when I was just an undergraduate engineering student, trying to make ends meet as the captain of one of Virginia Tech’s lesser-known student design teams.

My team and I were designing a solar-powered robot that would use a compass and accelerometer to navigate its environment. We didn’t have much design experience back then, but we needed an easy way to combine several different circuit boards into one for our robot. We also needed to make sure that we could swap them out in case one was destroyed or burnt out, which was known to happen from time to time.

Rather than design our own circuit board with all the parts permanently attached, I designed a very small motherboard for all the various third party sensors to plug in to. This was a huge hit with the team and also a time saver, since we could now build our system piece by piece and choose which parts we wanted to design and which would we would buy.

Expanding on that idea, I added a breadboard, standardized the size of the ports, and stylized the design so it would look as good as the rest of my projects. After researching existing products like Arduino or Beagle, I made it a point to fix certain weaknesses that I felt were holding those platforms back such as weak current allowances, fixed processors, and large add-ons.

BoardX: The Open Source Miniature Motherboard - [Link]

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