No, that’s not meant to be a reference to the motorway connecting Exeter to Birmingham in the UK – That’s our internal techno-speak for Mask Version 5.
What does that little number really mean? well it means that we have spent 3 months of working 14-16hr days while learning, pulling, squeezing, cutting, gluing, melting, soldering, printing, sticking things together to arrive at this extraordinary design of the mask. Gareth has been the leading driving force on this effort. He has had to learn and become an expert on Fusion360, granted he had 30+ years of familiarity with Unigraphics, but with any new package there is a steep learning curve to climb. He is now achieved some sort of ninja-level that allows him to expose bugs in Fusion360’s renderer (the software that makes the design look real by applying light, shadow, color, materials onto surfaces of the model.
the ‘5’ indicates that we have made 5 major iterations (do-overs). In many cases, he has had to re-organize the way he was building the model of the Computer Aided Design (CAD) so that a change to any individual component could ripple through the entire design without having to rebuild pieces.
I watched with great anticipation every time he twiddled the model, he would just say, “oh, i figured out how to do it”…and then it just magically would be done, covering up the massive amount of brain-power and sheer hard work and determination that he had just expended, only to brush it off and carry on to the next challenge – it is just a privilage to be able to call him my friend too.
Part of the process would be to talk through each of the challenges, perhaps walk through a use case or two or how the user might interact with a particular function, then we would agree on the best way to proceed. I would put the phone down, get on with my stuff and he would just get on with his. By our next call of the day, he would be stuck into a gnarly bug and figuring out what needed to be done. Since He is located in Toronto and i am in Nashville this entire effort has been virtual by phone communication or zoom (thank you Zoom).
Our current mask weighs in at 4.16oz the basic model will weigh approx 6-7oz while the other two higher end models will be closer to 9oz
M5 also includes the strap and buckle design. we have designed the mask body to be easily accessible and maintainable, and above all washable. the straps will also be washable and reversible. We removed the heaviest part of the mask – the battery and replaced it with a 10,000mAh battery bank that you place in your pocket and connect to it through a nifty quick-release connection.
So what i learned to day was that we would not have made it this far if we didn’t believe in this journey, its a wild ride and at times frustrating and exhilarating, creative thought-provoking and just plain fun.
Lyndsay has begun delivering HW designs for the controllers and onboard smarts of the mask. Now the fun really begins and we are able to see all the parts coalesce into the design we all imagined it could be – its 1am as i write this…i am of for a kip…tomorrow i get to chop bits of plastic with a laser… at “Randy-the-Laser’s” basement more about that later – i love my life!!!