CUBIK CHRISTMAS CARD
LED stacker game
Design, development and manufacture with a festive twist
It was the 10th December, and the first signs of Christmas began to appear. Garlands hung round the chrome bannisters, Cliff Richard played on the Cubik radio and a small Christmas tree had found its way on to the top of the filing cabinet. Christmas cards began to line the pigeonholes and it suddenly dawned on the team that we hadn’t thought about the Cubik Christmas card. After such a successful year, it didn’t seem enough to send a witty e-card. So, we had the novel idea of designing and manufacturing our very own electronic Christmas card. The next question was, what should it do?
We held a team workshop where everyone put forward their suggestions: a heat censored ‘How Christmassy are you?’ decoration; a musical card; a 3D printed card; and a range of unique and interesting ideas. We kept a running list on a the Design team whiteboard and it became quite the competition to come up with the best idea.
After a week of deliberation, the final decision sat with Cubik MD, Paul Mullen, who chose Shannon’s concept of a stacker game. A stacker game comprises of rows of lights which must be aligned by pressing a button when the light is in the correct position. Shannon’s concept worked on a similar basis but with a festive twist. We lined red and green LEDs on a custom-made tree shaped PCB. When the central LED flashed green the user had to hit the button when it reached the correct row to stack it. The lights pick up speed and increase in complexity as each level is completed. Once all levels were completed a shining star at the top of the tree would light up.
We set to work formulating an initial sketch and wrote a comprehensive specification detailing the tree’s functionality.
Once the specification was finalised, we moved into the electronic design phase incorporating the generation of the schematic and the PCB layout. When designing the artwork that would sit on top of the PCB, there was quite a debate about whether the ‘tinsel’ around the tree looked like tinsel or whether is resembled barbed wire! Once the electronic design was finalised and all barb wire related issues were resolved, the Christmas card moved into the Production phase.
All data was passed to the Production Manager who ordered the Bill of Materials (BOM), scheduled the manufacture, and fired up the equipment. Just 3 days later, the custom-made Christmas PCBs had arrived. They were loaded onto the Pick & Place machine and then onto the Reflow Oven that same day. As Production worked on the build, the Design team worked on the next stage of Project Christmas – coding the software that would run the stacker game.
Once the manufacture was complete and software written, we began programming and testing the trees. Under normal circumstances, the test phase would involve writing a test plan and attending a test house or building a test rig. On this occasion the test brief was simple: ‘take it home and see if we can break it’.
The game functioned brilliantly, the test phase was completed, and it became apparent that several members of the team had spent a lot of time playing it.
With the whole team happy with the Christmas creation, we began packing and shipping the cards to our customers and suppliers. We hope you all enjoy triumphing at the stacker game and watching the tree twinkle. Since the Christmas tree game, we have developed a variety of iterations including a snowman, bauble, and a robin.
Electronic & Manufacturing
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