Rapid Prototyping

Differentiating the rapid prototype

A prototype is the initial product in a custom design. The prototype, which is the first phase in a custom design, identifies the key elements required to define a system or concept as functional. The Rapid Prottype has the destinction of

  1. is produced by as much off the shelf tech as possible
  2. is integrated to demonstrate a working system
  3. the rapid prototype may also end up in field as the working example of the product, with limited or no full production examples
  4. a rapid prototype may however form the basis for a full production version, refined into a comercial product

Since a full product development cycle is expensive, and for low quantities is impractical, rapid prototyping has fast become the viable alternative to introduce a working system, although unrefined, into a established environment or as a rapid standalone solution to a problem. This is achieved by using a modularised approach to the solution development. The process starts with a compiling a list of features and rather than developing a new PCB and new software from the ground up, existing modules are used to provide system features. For example, WIFI can be added by including the notorious ESP8266 add on module. Thurough testing of the rapid prototype is affected to ensure that the meshing of disparate modules does not impact negatively on the solutions ROI to customer and performance.

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Rapid Prototype Example

A brief exaple of an RP project is Ambient. The system is designed to do the following:

  • Measure Temperature and relative humidity using the DHT22
  • Measure air quality using the MQ 135
  • Display all this data on an LCD
  • The DEVCC-V40 provided the MCU requirements with a PIC18F45K22

Once complete, the system is ergonimic and does not look too shabby. The whole system could be assembled, coded and delivered in minimal time at reduced cost.

 

MikroE click boards
The sensors as described above were all supplied by MikroElektronika.