A few years back LAVA looked into the possibility of using an Android tablet as a low-cost control panel for a Thermostat control system with a series of network sensors. These discussions began after we were approached by a customer to develop a solution for a tablet-based loyalty system and as fate would have it, similar opportunities would present themselves a few months later.
OK, remember how the last part ended? NO! well, something like this:
So where does RBM come in? To explain that one we need to delve into some history and “blow our own horn”.
And we continue:
Here goes (the horn blowing part): In 2014 Lava was the “proud winner” of a contract to supply Canadian Tire with their “Customer Facing in Isle Devices – CFID’s” . Well, let’s just call a spade a spade and a Kiosk a Kiosk – which is what a CFID really is. The first roll out of 880 units had an even more limited usage – It was intended as a internet browser based look up tool for Wiper Blades; yes the type that clear the windshield of a car. Basically – a CFID was/is a Samsung Tablet (Tab4), inside an enclosure, connected to a Lava STS board (BTW if you don’t know what an STS board is then …. Well visit our web site). The Lava electronics allowed the tablet to be connected to wired Ethernet (PoE I might add) and be powered continuously for 24/7 maintenance free operation (there are more features but……).
Everything worked as per plan for; well about 10 months….
This week at LAVA, we had a board meeting where we discussed the new “Simple Overcharge Protection device for a phone” product that the LAVA team is currently working on.
LAVA Computer MFG designs and manufactures computing interfaces and devices – generally for commercial use (in applications where the end-user is generally unaware that a LAVA product is a key component). But, did you know that LAVA has also had success with customer-end products?
Low-pressure molding is a relatively new process (to North Americans) that aims to encapsulate sensitive electronics using a polyamide material. The process was discovered in Germany in the 70’s as a result of the observed effectiveness of using hot melt glue (a polyamide) to strain relieve electrical connections on printed circuit boards (PCBs).
Not a bad slogan if I say so myself – dreamt up by a highly unlikely source: our one of a kind, hot shot salesman; the one and only (thank God that there is only one) Orest Halushka – If and when you call Lava, there is a good chance you may get to talk to him. I’m sure if you ask, he will give you the details of how he came up with the slogan.
The original reason this project came through our doors was that SCI wanted to extend the life of the batteries in the tablets that are at the heart of their AED training kiosks. They asked Samsung for a solution and were referred to Lava and our battery modulation technology. It was then found that their product itself was quite flawed and I was tasked with redesigning it.
A typical USB power supply is rated at 5 volts nominal and a capacity of 1 to 2 amperes. The supply voltage will not be exactly 5 volts, but will vary depending on load (hence the amount of current being drawn). The voltage must never exceed 5.25 volts.
A typical USB Power supply is rated at 10 watts (i.e., 2 amperes at 5 volts DC).
When plugged directly into a generic USB supply, a tablet (or mobile phone) might appear to charge very slowly. This problem is common even when the supply has an adequate current rating. This is generally because the power supply is not a DCP power supply.
Yesterday, we had a telephone call from a long time POS Reseller of Lava here in Canada. Both companies had invested a lot of time in a potential sale to a customer four years ago and then the sale went dark. Not only that, but the Reseller had changed some internal sales programs so that Lava’s HQ-ST Plus products was not a primary focus. But our reseller representative had had success with the HQ-ST Plus product line in the past and never forgot the original customer requirement and always tried to present the products to the customers, if it was appropriate.
One of the main quirks when integrating a Samsung Tab 4 with any of our STS products (or Kiosk enclosures) has to do with booting up a Tab 4 from a power off state.
Samsung’s design of the Tab 4’s internal boot sequence is such that both charging and booting end up being disabled whenever a Tab 4 detects the appropriate single from an STS device (or Kiosk enclosure) to indicate SimulCharge Mode.
For our STS products this issue could be resolved by disconnecting the Tablet and either charging it for a bit or powering on the Tablet before reconnecting it. However for a Kiosk solution (which is often connected all the time) this really isn’t a feasible option. Since disabling of booting and charging is only an issue when the Tablet is in SimulCharge Mode we’ve managed to overcome this quirk by implemented a “Mode Select” button which provides the ability to toggle between SimulCharge and ChargeOnly Mode on the fly.
Interesting meeting today – it was kind-of a mix of marketing and engineering. The meeting was really about sorting out the confusion (internal and probably mostly limited to me) wrt the new products based on our RBM (Reset, Battery Modulation) technology. I won’t get into an explanation of RBM here – that’s for another person/time/place. In the end the meeting resolved a huge question and that is what to do with what we have internally called “Charge-Buddy”.
I guess, before I go on with the meeting “story”, I need to explain what “Charge Buddy” is/was. (it should have been and maybe is explained many times over in other blog entries but….).