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Cubik Christmas Card
The 10th December, and the first signs of Christmas began to appear, garlands hung round the chrome bannisters of the Science Park’s stairwells, Cliff Richard popped up in the afternoon 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 pigeon holes and it suddenly dawned on the team we hadn’t yet thought about the Christmas cards we would send out this year. After such a successful year, it seemed too little to send out a witty e-card or buy up the best Sainsbury’s had to offer, so we had the novel idea, to design and manufacture our very own electronic Christmas card.
All very well, we had decided on an electronic card, but the next question was, what would it do? And so the brainstorming commenced, everyone throwing in one or two very unique and interesting ideas, a heat sensored ‘How Christmassy are you?’ decoration, a musical card, a 3D printed card and a whole host of other musings. A running whiteboard of ideas was kept in the design office and quite a competition had ensued. After a week of deliberation the final decision sat with director Paul Mullen, selecting Production Apprentice Shannon Cribb’s concept of a stacker game as the winner, adopting the project title of ‘Light up the Christmas tree’. Paul also making the decision that the tree should have an additional decorative function.
For those who aren’t akin to the stacker game format it comprises of rows of blocks which must be stacked by pressing a button when they are in the correct position, the blocks picking up speed as the levels are completed. Shannon’s concept worked on a similar premise but with a festive twist, we would line red and green LEDs on a custom made, tree shaped PCB and when the light flashed green in the central LED, the button had to be hit for the row to be stacked, the lights would flash faster as the game drew to a close, and would herald victory with the shining of the star at the top of Cubik Christmas tree.
With an idea solidly in place, Sophie Adams-Foster our resident design guru set to work formulating an initial sketch, as well as writing a comprehensive specification as to what kind of function the tree would have.
The electronic design stage could then begin, incorporating the generation of the schematic and the PCB layout, which fell with engineers Chase Callender and Giles Sanders, charged with the responsibility of making sure we could actually light up the Christmas tree. The guys also designing the artwork which would sit on top of the PCB, that in itself brought on an office debate on whether the tinsel around the tree looked more like barbed wire rather than classic tinsel, we wanted perfection!
The completion of the electronic design, switched our Production Team into gear, when the data was passed through to Sam Beard Cubik’s Production manager, scheduling the manufacture, ordering the bill of materials and firing up the equipment. A cool three days later and the custom made Christmas PCBs had arrived, beginning their journey through to the Pick and Place machine and on to the Reflow Oven that same day. With the Production team beavering away, the Design Office were busy once again with the next stage of Project Christmas, coding the software that would run the stacker game.
The manufacture complete and software written we could then program the tree and begin testing, which would usually take the form of writing a test plan, attending a test house or building a test rig, but testing in this instance was led by a much stricter plan: ‘take it home and let’s see if we can break it’. The next morning, with no bugs found, the game functioned brilliantly, and what had become more apparent is at least three members of the team had become spent a lot of time playing!
With the whole team happy with our Christmas Creation, it was time for judgement day and we could finally package them up and send them off! For all who received a Cubik Christmas card this year we hope you enjoyed triumphing the stacker game and watching the tree twinkle, the team at Cubik thoroughly enjoyed the process and are already coming up with fresh ideas for Christmas 2015!
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