Astrohaus is a consumer electronics company founded after a successful crowdfunding for its first product, the Freewrite. The Freewrite is a distraction free, smart typewriter; designed to give writers the best writing experience in the 21st century. I was hired six months after the campaign had been funded as the 3rd employee in the role of Hardware Engineer. I am responsible for all design changes to the Freewrite, designing any additional products/hardware, sourcing parts, and supporting manufacturing (not to mention the myriad of other hats I wear as an employee of a company of only four people).
I joined right as Astrohaus was in the final stages of quoting Contract Manufacturers. I had the great opportunity to be involved in the vetting and decision process. After we signed with a manufacturer out of Shenzhen, we began the process of getting ready for mass production. We collaborated with our CM to finalize the design with a Design for Manufacturing sprint. I was heavily involved in design changes and evaluating recommended changes by the CM. We also went through a heavy prototyping activity, optimizing UX of the mechanical system.
Not only was there extensive design and prototype work needed for the Freewrite, there were a variety of subsystems that needed to be designed. We wanted to build “development kits” which we could send out to software developers to help build out the application software. This way they could work on the entire embedded system on a cheap, but fully functional system. I developed a simplified 3D printed housing which repackaged the entire system. We also designed custom test jigs for testing our main PCB after it had been assembled. This test jig needed to integrate 88 contact springs and locate them on the corresponding test points on the PCB. Finally, I was involved in the design of the packaging for the device. Across these three projects, I worked with three different manufacturing processes and suppliers to develop and build subassemblies that could be delivered on time to the internal or external customer.
One of the things that I relish most about working at a small company is the opportunity to learn new things and take on responsibilities where someone is needed. At Astrohaus, I have had the chance to learn how to manage fulfillment, source components, and operate as customer service. Getting experience with so many different workstreams provided an amazing opportunity for me to grow not only my engineering skills, but my understanding of business.
Click to enlarge photos and learn more.