• Though the mills of God grind slowly; Yet they grind exceeding small

    by Scott

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    Ash, the founder of NoJack, on Saturday just moments after returning to his bike to find that someone had stolen his front wheel

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    Ash, working on the second version of the NoJack prototype on Sunday, just moments before setting himself on fire 

    So that up above is Ash working away on the second version of the prototype in order to help people like Ash (also pictured above) prevent their bikes from getting stolen or vandalized, as just happened to Ash this weekend. He (Ash) had just stepped into a store briefly only to return to find someone had jacked his front wheel. Just another strong motivator for Ash and everyone at team NoJack to keep working away to protect the bikes of people like Ash and everyone else who has been on the receiving side of a bike-jacking. So while it sucks that Ash had to lose a wheel, at least it adds that much more incentive for Ash to keep working away. So let’s talk some more about how we’re going about putting NoJack together.

    As I’ve mentioned before, this sort of a project is not something that we knew how to pull off right from the very beginning. We’ve had to get creative in quickly filling in the gaps in our knowledge either by self-study and learning where this is feasible, or else by finding creative ways of outsourcing certain tasks that are either beyond our abilities or that would simply be too time-consuming to handle on our own.

    For example, designing the outer casing and housing for the unit, including the mounting method, is something that would be prohibitive to do ourselves from a time standpoint given our current working knowledge of the materials and engineering involved. One resource we’ve been using to deal with these sorts of issues is freelancer.com, which is a site that matches people with skills with outsourcers in need of their expertise. An outsourcer posts a project to the site and then receives bids and descriptions from freelancers who (hopefully) have the relevant skills to tackle the job.

    In our case, we asked if any freelancers could help us design the outer casing for the unit. In the process we solicited their ideas with regards to how we could solve certain engineering difficulties like achieving a near universal fit, achieving a waterproof design that was tough enough to withstand attempts to disable it with blunt force attacks (picture a thief smashing it with a wrench to get it to stop going off during a bike jacking), and all without compromising the signal strength from the Bluetooth chip inside of it. The freelancer who we ultimately chose to award the project to had a host of good ideas and is very good about communicating with us to work out a design that meets our criteria with a view towards keeping costs down when we get to the later production stages. 

    At another point we tried outsourcing the design of the piezo circuit via the site, but the responses we received were either less than satisfactory or were from people who had received low ratings from other outsourcers. Careful vetting is absolutely essential on sites like freelancer.com, and the built-in ratings system helps outsourcers to sort through the numerous responses they receive for their project to find reliable freelancers with the proper skills and appropriate expertise. Unfortunately none of the responses we received were satisfactory for what we were looking for, and we decided to spend the time to build out the circuit ourselves (and when I say ourselves I of course mean Rithy did it).

    There are a few other online resources we’ve been using, like fiverr.com, which I’ll get into at a later date. And I’ll be sure to keep you posted on how the design for the housing turns out once we’ve received the completed CAD design and had a chance to 3D print it out for ourselves. I know you’re excited to know how it turns out, but try not to lose sleep over any of this. I’ve found that the key to getting a good night’s sleep is slowly sipping a glass of fine Scotch right before bed, and then holding an ether-soaked rag over my mouth.*

    *But don’t actually do this, it would probably kill you and this blog can’t spare the readers. Yet.