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SmartLid User's Guide

Tim Gilbert

A lesson every engineer needs to learn: first, write the user's guide.

No real engineer likes this idea but they either listen to the crusty old geezer who's been around forever, or they learn it the hard way. You can put a lot of time and energy into a really awesome design only to realize, after the prototype is built, that you need one more button. Yeah, learning things the hard way tends to be embarrassing, not to mention expensive.

So, since I'm now the old geezer that's been around forever, I took my own advice and wrote the user's guide.

You can download the pdf here: SmartLid User's Guide

To be honest, we were a little surprised to realize that we'll need eight buttons (we haven't updated our graphics yet.) True, we could overload some functions onto other buttons but that tends to also overload the user.

The biggest unknown is the back light; we're concerned it will drain the battery too fast and we're not sure it's really needed.

Please add your comments down below; it's easier for us to keep track of them and others can share your insights.

Also, be sure to check out Tim Layton's excellent tutorials here: Tim Layton Fine Art

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  • David Malarkey on

    Before writing the operating instructions, write the instruction-writing instructions.
    When using Gobbledegook Collections of Letters (GCL) write the words in full. If you are addressing readers outside the Land Of The Donald (LOTD) remember that everybody else uses the metric system.
    If you need to illustrate the buttons, either put identifiers on them or use some Simple Text-Based System (STBS) like [ON] [OFF] and so on.
    Dump the agitation alarm beep. Programme the display to flash briefly at 30-second intervals by default. If somebody can’t remember that they are using either every one or alternate ones, they are almost certainly not in your market. This avoids having the compensating and natural timers running out of sync and saves another button.
    I’m not quite clear if the average temperature timer alters the total development time or if this is a separate function with another set of buttons.
    And I agree with previous post. A backlit display seems like a luxury in a device that is used in the light.
    His fears about wasting the battery are valid, too. Perhaps a very visible battery-low signal should be included.
    It looks like a good idea to me, but as always it depends on the execution. If it works, and I hope it does, price should not be a major problem.

  • Bernard Kelly on

    Re: the buttons. The timer buttons [CDT, ET, AT] could be distinguished from the rest by reversing the letters (white on black, for example). For consistency’s sake, I’d use all caps throughout: Ave would become AV, Set simply S (or an arrow symbol), and Comp TC.

  • David Hansen on

    Read the User Manual and it was Superb! It settled the issue I was having with high or low temperature at the start being set in stone. Hmmm. Keep the temp and change the clock. Novel idea!

    I don’t think you need a backlight, as it is a daylight tank. Just increase the contrast between the numbers and the background (I haven’t a clue how you do that; are all backgrounds grey-green? Can some be paler?). If you need a design tweak, maybe make it easier to locate the lid into the tank? Sometimes it is easy; sometimes it is hard. Usually takes some fiddling.

    Keep up the excellent work!


  • Ben Altman on

    Re: 810 prototype – if you are bending the film into a taco anyway how about making the lid compatible with the 445/SmartLid?

  • Tim on

    Once things are closer to final, we’ll redo the renderings with the proper labels. That drawing will be at the top of the document and explain each button.

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