helping Anelok (was Re: Anelok: one more MCU - maybe an idea for later)

Ron K. Jeffries rjeffries at
Sat Dec 27 03:23:11 UTC 2014

I was thinking that when the design for PCB is reasonably stable maybe It
would be practical for me to arrange a run of boards that developers could
buy at approx cost. There's an especially good (friendly) device out of
Portland OR I forget the name but great reputation and really inexpensive
also they run batches often so turnaround is short.

Ron K Jeffries
805-567-4670 mobile
On Dec 26, 2014 7:11 PM, "Werner Almesberger" <werner at>

> Ron K. Jeffries wrote:
> > Much to like about this two-MCU approach.
> Glad you like it :) From an engineering perspective, I certainly get
> that certain "this feels right" (even if a bit unusual) impression.
> Plus, there's the obvious marketing angle.
> > What might I do to help?
> [...]
> > Feel free to email me if you prefer
> That's a question I hope is of interest to more than just one
> person ;-)
> Right now, I want to advance the project in the following directions:
> 1) Hardware design testing.
> 2) Get (software) developers to join the fun.
> 3) Find a way to get prototypes out.
> 4) Improve "outsider-accessible" material.
> Regarding 1), there I'm pretty much on my own. The things that
> absolutely need to be known to be good to proceed (especially with
> point 3) are the capacitive sensor and operation on battery power.
> At the moment, I'm focusing on the capacitive sensor. To properly
> test whether it is sufficiently convenient to use, I need a bit more
> of the GUI to work, so that I can play with usage scenarios
> resembling real life.
> At some point in time I'll need more components and also consumables
> for my mill. I may be able to find the latter locally, but
> components are difficult.
> Regarding 2), there is a lot of work that still needs doing, e.g.,
> - user interface,
> - memory card driver,
> - file system (I guess FAT should do nicely),
> - password store,
> - crypto functions (building blocks; I hope we can use something
>   like Curve25519 for the public-key side of things),
> - crypto system (putting the building blocks together),
> - USB HID device,
> - USB host accepting HID (and hubs),
> - BTLE link-layer (tricky since the CC2543 hardware doesn't support
>   all the bits needed),
> - BTLE higher layers, up to ...
> - HID over BTLE (or something equivalent),
> - etc.
> I was hoping the simulator would encourage people to start getting
> their hands dirty, but that didn't work.
> Regarding 3), that would be the next step a) to motivate prospective
> developers (*) and b) to give them access to the entire system (for
> hacking device drivers and such).
> Alas, I can't really produce more than a very small number of
> prototypes. I.e., I'm reasonably self-sufficient but making
> prototype devices to send away would exceed my resources, both in
> terms of parts as in the sheer amount of time needed to do all this.
> (*) Look at all the happy world-wide collaborators after 03:18 in
>     this video:
>     Each of them has nice shiny prototype hardware. If the night
>     sky of Buenos Aires is lit up in bright green light, that's
>     envious me.
> Regarding 4), this is material people not intimately familiar with
> the projects can appreciate. This includes:
> - the Web page,
> - block diagram and similar illustrations,
> - technical documentation,
> - user documentation (for later - things have to settle a bit before
>   we can document them).
> While all these things also play an important role for "inside"
> communication, they're important for marketing purposes, where
> "marketing" also involves pitching the project to investors.
> I'm currently beefing up the Web face of the project, to make it look
> a bit less drab but also to explore and define the style elements I'd
> like to have in the long run. You've seen a first result in this area
> already, the interactive block diagram. There's another one coming in
> the next days: hoverable content for the wire frame model on
> Now to the helping part. With 1), what I need the most is time and a
> little luck. If I need components, things will get a bit difficult:
> Argentina currently has a restriction on "Internet purchases" in
> force that limits such subversive actions to two per year and
> person.
> Furthermore, my own financial reserves are pretty much depleted and
> my current "day job" (Neo900) pays enough to keep me fed but that
> won't allow for lavish purchases on the Anelok front.
> I'm thinking of asking people who are interested in helping the
> project to purchase things and send them to me. That may pass as
> "gift" and not evil "Internet purchase" (even though the senders will
> of course have bought these things via the Internet ...) But I'll
> have to find out first what customs have to say about this plan.
> On to 2). The door is wide open, and there's plenty of work for
> everyone. So, developers, don't hesitate to let yourself in ! ;-)
> With 3), once a "good to go" design is ready, this is also something
> that could be outsourced. Making a few prototype kits would basically
> amount to
> - purchasing components (you need: shopping list, Internet, credit
>   card),
> - making the PCBs (you need: design files, Internet, credit card),
> - populating them with components (you need: either a steady hand
>   and lots of time, a place that will do this, based on the design
>   files, etc. Note: some assembly may not be automatable.),
> - adding case parts (you need: a CNC mill, a bit of acrylic,
>   patience),
> - send the resulting kits to developers.
> Taking care of all this may be a bit overwhelming for a single
> person, but a small group of people helping each other could
> certainly do it. All the design details would come from my
> prototypes.
> Finally, 4). I would love to hand things like Web site design and
> maintenance off to someone else. This can be broken down into more
> manageable parts, e.g, an overall site style with a nice nav bar
> would be very good to have. Or let's start simple, with a prettier
> "Anelok" than <H1>ANELOK</H1>.
> One condition: like with everything else in the project, all the
> tools used have to be Open Source. But it doesn't have to be quite
> as hard-core as my build process :)
> (Run "make", then load dwg.html with your browser of choice. What
> you'll see is the hoverable wire frame model to be. Then you may
> want to look at the Makefile and the collection of Perl and shell
> scripts that make all this happen.)
> Also technical documentation can benefit greatly from co-authorship.
> Many of the prototype production processes and such would benefit
> from having a company that acts as the single point where everything
> comes together. Such a company could also collect money, e.g., in
> the form of crowd-investing (crowdfunding would be for later, when
> there's an actual product to make.)
> Until we get there, handling finances is and will be a problem, and
> things like crowd-investing in exchange for equity or such are
> outright impossible. However, anyone contributing to the project
> could keep track of what they spend and we should be able to turn
> this into some form of equity once the project has established a
> more stable commercial footing.
> Cheers, Werner
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