After a delicious breakfast, all the 4 teams met in the lobby of the hotel to discuss with our supervisors the next steps of the projects. We decided to start with buying the missing components from the Chinese Electronics Market and then move forward with the PCB manufacturing at Seeedstudio.
Challenge Number 1: Explain electronics words in English to Chinese entrepreneurs
Our teams split in several groups and started the electronics rush. Basically, somewhere near a metro, there is a place, maybe as big as EPFL’s campus, where they sell everything you want (and do not want), from resistors and screws to laptops and cameras. Pretty amazing!
The prices are quite high at the beginning, but the strategy to obtain a good deal is the following: they will give you an exagerated price, and then you start to decrease it as much as possible. In general, they will keep the price quite high but if you pretend angry/sad/almost leaving, they will give you the product really cheap. It is really a good psychological exercise. For example, the AIMO team bought 10 LEDs and 20 springs for a total of 1 RMB.
Most of the teams got their components at the market, and then we proceeded our journey to Seeedstudio.
Challenge Number 2: Cook PCBs
We arrived at Seeedstudio and we dressed up like professional PCB makers. The employees from Seeed were very nice with us and offered us everything we needed. We prepared our stencils and we started putting the soldering paste. At the beginning, we thought we would use a “pick and place machine” from Seeed, but then, we realized that it is quite challenging to use the machine to fulfill our needs (in general, they are used for big production). Therefore, we picked and place by hand, which was extremely efficient. Our engineers got a lot of help from our business people like Sara and Svetlana, who are actually now experts in making PCBs. After this experience, they also decided to change their degree from business to engineering J
In the middle of our hard work, suddenly, it was a power-cut for two hours. Fortunately, we are in a sunny city, so nature did its job and we managed to work even without artificial light. As we are also very creative people, we improvised some quick light-and-magnifying objects using a broken lighter, a servomotor tip and a normal magnifying lamp (picture below) to see how to pick and place those very tiny SMD resistors and capacitors.
Finally, after 2 hours, light came back and then we managed to put the PCBs in the oven. Champaign!! They were cooked and ready to be eaten…I mean to be tested next day.
Challenge number 3: Finding transportation
Because we worked super late, we decided to come back by taxi. Of course, taking a normal taxi would be challenging, because we do not speak Chinese. So we decided for an UBER. After 4 trials of drivers coming and then …disappearing in a black hole, we finally managed to grab an Uber and arrive home. The best part was Lara’s birthday. Happy Birthday Lara! Bonne anniversaire! We enjoyed a lot the cake!
Afterwards, we kind of all crashed in bed because of the long day of work.
Article by Sorina