So, PCB123.com has generously agreed to let me beta test their new software (actually, I griped A LOT on their after order survey and they called me and I gave them an earful), so I thought I might make the first-ever TwinCitiesMaker branded product- an Arduino shield.
Right now, I'm leaning towards an LED-I/O combo board. Features I'm considering to make it something special:
Support for the most common alphanumeric LCD driver, the HD44780- I'd like to put in a couple of different header arrangements, so users could populate a SIL or DIL header as appropriate to their particular LCD. The reasoning there is simple: the cheapest source for these LCDs is from surplus shops, and there are various connector types, but a fairly limited number thereof.
3-wire serial based LCD communication- perhaps on SPI only, or really generously, on any three pins.
Analog input for buttons- to save I/O pins, a resistor network, properly applied, can provide several discrete analog voltages, allowing an analog input to scan for button input.
Mini-joystick input- because, let's face it, that's just cool. Mouser has tiny analog joysticks, but they are still nearly an inch square, which is pretty big on a 2.1x2.7 inch board. Although nothing says the shield has to be the same size as the Arduino is...
Negative voltage for high-contrast units- If I get really ambitious. This is a low priority- these units are not common.
Voltage inverter to power EL backlit units- This is slightly more likely, because I actually HAVE some EL backlit LCDs.
Auto dimming backlight for LED backlit units- I banged a circuit to do this together ages ago, and it worked better than I'd hoped. Might be worth it, but board real estate may be an issue.
Infrared support- BIG maybe. I might put in the necessary lands and connections, but not plan to write software for it yet.
And of course, I'd have to write an Arduino library to support this.
So, bottom line is this- would anybody here like to see this happen? Enough to pitch in and buy one (or two or three)? According to the PCB123 pricing tool, at 25 units, this PCB would run about $7 per, dropping to about $5 per at 50 units. That is for unpopulated bare boards, without soldermask and silkscreen. Soldermask and silkscreen will roughly double the cost- worth it to sell to others, but for "in-house" (not that we HAVE a house) prototypes, it's unnecessary frills.
At $7 per, I'd be willing to buy 5. If we can find four other people willing to pitch in $35 to this, or any permutation that gets us to 25 boards, I'll get started on it. Actually, I'll probably get started on it no matter what, but I'd like some inkling that I'm GOING somewhere with it. Also, note that PCB123 has a very rapid turn around. I ordered boards yesterday and they would have been in my hands today if my company hadn't closed the shipping department down on Fridays to save cash.