Network LCD (#twatch) availablility update

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**UPDATE*** Seeed is listing the #twatch again. They located additional PIC chips. The #twatch preorder has an estimated October 10 ship date.

#twatch production is limited by the number of PIC 18F67J60 ethernet microcontrollers Seeed can find for immediate delivery. Here’s some of the options at this point:

  • Seeed locates more PIC18F67J60s, they add more #twatches to the store for October 10 shipment.
  • If additional PICs are on back order, Seeed can start a second preorder with a later delivery date.
  • We’ve tested the #twatch with a smaller version of the 67J60, the 66J65. If Seeed locates these, an alternate #twatch version can be made.

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4 Comments

  1. Hi,

    I (really) don’t want to start a PIC/AVR flame war but….. Has there been any thought of swapping to an Atmel AVR?

    One of the perennial criticisms of PIC microcontrollers has been Microchip’s lack luster attitude to responding to supply shortages. This is becoming a common theme now after the Bus Pirate.

    Also [Warning: Contains Emotional argument], using an AVR would allow using a completely Open Source compiler tool chain rather than the limited use commercial compilers that the PIC requires.

    Andy.

    PS. I have used both PIC and AVR in my projects, and have the tools to program both.

  2. The supply shortage has more to do with the short-run on-demand manufacturing runs we do. Normal industry plans stuff months in advance, Microchip can manufacture and deliver 10K’s of any chip within 8 weeks (I believe), I understand them to be really good at supply (compared to the old days of Maxium, for example). 8 weeks isn’t long in the scheme of manufacturing 1000s of units and bringing a product to market.

    The problem is we want our stuff now (3-4weeks), and it’s all on-demand production. We’re not guessing that X number will be purchased and then investing and planning for that many to be made/sold, we’re using local stock of available parts to build orders as they arrive. When we’ve used all the chips, we have to stop and wait for more.

    Seeed did a really good job locating extra chips, and found an additional local supply. We should have plenty to fill orders for the 24hours of the preorder that remain.

    As per PIC vs AVR – We use both too. PIC was the ideal solution for this because AVR doesn’t have any ethernet microcontrollers. We could have combined an ENC28J60 ethernet chip with an AVR, but it would be more expensive and we’d have come up with our own TCPIP stack because you can’t port the Microchip version to other hardware. Also, it wouldn’t be firmware upgradable over the network.

    We’d always prefer to work with an open tool chain and unrestricted code, but that’s not always the best solution for our rapid, haphazard prototyping methods ;)

  3. I wanted to add: I promise to get better at choosing parts and managing the preorders, this is the second I’ve done and it’s gone much better than the first because of my experience with the Bus Pirate. We’ve only had a few hours of unavailability, and all #twatches will ship on the same date.

    With the Bus Pirate preorder at Hack a Day, I didn’t personally believe that we’d sell 20 units. Seeed located 350 or so PICs to start production, which I thought was a ridiculous amount. They later had to order 700 more. These 700 PICs were more-or-less manufactured on-demand and arrived at Seeed within 8 weeks. Pretty incredible to me.

  4. All good points and fair enough. Good to hear that Microchip are much improved.

    As to not believing how many units would be sold. Obviously, you don’t understand how good your own projects are! ;-)

    Keep up to the good (great!) work. I am looking forward to the next project.

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