I am proud of the Gelis system, but it has some flaws caused by the major dimensions of the box being driven by the need to accommodate the off the shelf power supply. This causes material wastage in the mostly empty back half of the box, and forces me to use screw-terminal connections in the box for wiring. This is kind of awesome in that you can wire it all without a soldering iron, but kind of a pain in that it requires wires being routed from four faces of the box. Some redesign options I considered were:
- using a terminal strip to simplify wiring instead of binding posts
- move meter/control buttons to back of box
- use off the shelf capacitive sensors+transistors instead of switches
- re-evaluate multi-enclosure design
- Build custom power supply
The last option has been something I have been avoiding, because it would be capital and time intensive- I don’t have tons of experience with power electronics. However, an Eames quote comes to mind “Never delegate understanding”. In this case, I had delegated the power supply design to whoever had a cheap boost converter. Whoever designed it had different goals- probably to provide way more power than my tiny gel needs, hence the enormous heat sinks. So I decided that it was time to take on the burden of understanding the power supply. This freedom gives me some room to make some key design decisions:
- I can choose a knob to control voltage
- I can choose a better way to control the LEDs
- I can choose a better way to connect to the LEDs
- I can choose a better power jack
These modifications will make assembly easier with regards to wiring the LEDs, which is currently a pain. The disadvantages will be that I need to spec out each individual part, make a board, and then possibly find somebody to assemble the boards.
To get started, I ordered the parts for the iorodeo gel power supply. Their supply works, has amazing documentation, and has few enough parts for my tiny mechanical engineer brain to handle. My goal in building this supply is to figure out what is absolutely necessary for it to function in terms of which capacitors and parts are totally necessary, then convert it to an SMD design. IOR very explicitly wanted this to be all through hole- for ease of assembly by everyday people. However, SMD assembly is cheaper, and certainly faster to do in large quantities provided you have a stencil and a reflow oven.