From product development to beyond! Time for another monthly update!

glowingkitty
7 min readFeb 2, 2023

For the past months, I have been mainly focusing on one aspect of my LED business only: product development. And for good reason. However, that also meant that I wasn’t paying as much attention to other important aspects of building up my LED business. So it became time for me to go beyond focusing only on product development, to make consistent progress in multiple areas. In practice, recently I started prioritizing different fields on different days: Marketing & Sales on Monday, Business Development on Tuesday, Website Development on Wednesday, GlowOS on Thursday, and New Hardware & Product Development on Friday. Of course, if there is an urgent topic I need to focus on — that always has priority. But I still think this “separate days for separate areas” structure is a much better approach for now, to make sure I don’t end up just focusing on product development alone.

So, what did I do specifically within the past month? Let’s get into it!

Glowingkitty.com

With the help of TeleportHQ (a great website builder alternative to Webflow, more developer focused) I created a new website for glowingkitty.com — and now also released it! So far it has a nicer-looking overview of what glowingkitty.com is all about, the core products, links to workshops, Discord, and more. And in the coming weeks, I will add more pages, product documentation, and features.

GlowOS

I also made a bunch of improvements to GlowOS, which I will also release soon via a web installer. For example, a button press on the Action Button can cycle over the saved presets. And I also worked on a bunch of features for my battery-powered projects, which are still in development. For those devices, WiFi is turned off by default, to save energy. But it can be easily turned on by double pressing the Power Button. While a single press can start/end standby mode. And I also started customizing GlowOS, to support the new battery management chip in the new GlowCore Mini and other upcoming battery-powered products. Speaking of…

GlowCore Mini

Testing the new GlowCore Mini board, with 600 WS2812B LEDs connected, powered by USB-C

After I had some overheating issues with the previous GlowCore Mini, I used the chance to not only fix those overheating issues but also add more functionality to GlowCore Mini as well! How is that possible? A few factors: for one, I switched from the regular ESP32 module to an ESP32 S3 Mini module — which both removes the need for an additional USB to serial chip (to upload software to the ESP32 microcontroller from your computer) and also the Mini module is a lot smaller than the regular ESP32 module. Also, I added the new battery management chip RT9471D, which replaces four chips I used before and combined all their functionality (and even more) in just one chip — for battery charging, battery protection, and power source for the board.

After designing that new PCB, I ordered it and had the last few days the chance to test it out. Powering it via USB-C or an external 5V source already works perfectly fine. But powering it via a battery only partially works so far. Looks like I have to make use of the USB-OTG feature of the chip, so it can both power external devices (for example you could charge your smartphone with GlowCore Mini!), but most importantly: so it can power the LEDs. For that, I need some more time to test and update the design once more. But I am optimistic that this design update will be the last one — and also land on my new website and online store in February.

GlowBand

After receiving the first GlowBand PCB prototype a few weeks ago, I recently also tested the gyroscope inside that PCB design (since it was the first time I used that kind of gyroscope). Turns out — it works, as expected. But even better: it even has a temperature sensor integrated as well. Apparently for correcting the values of the gyroscope. But I will test out using it for measuring the temperature of my PCBs and as an overheating protection (more protection is always better, right?). By the way, the new GlowCore Mini has the same gyroscope integrated.

For testing GlowBand in everyday real life, I still had to make a 3D-printed case for it. My first attempt however didn’t fit. So I need to update some dimensions for the case and print and test again.

But after discovering the small ESP32 S3 Mini module and the new battery management chip, I also already started designing the next prototype of GlowBand with those components. So the new design is gonna be around 25–40% smaller in width than version one — which means it’s gonna look and feel even nicer on your wrist!

GlowLight

I spent a lot of time and money on creating high-quality case parts with silicone molds and epoxy resin casting. But I am finally at a point where I am happy with the quality — and now have new silicone molds for all the case parts for GlowLight. So the coming two weeks I gonna make assemble some GlowLight lamps, to show them at xHain (the local hackspace where I work on my products) — and to make new product photos for my new website and online shop.

Business Development

But as I mentioned at the beginning, I didn’t just focus on product development this past month. Instead, I also started rethinking how I should continue to fund the coming months — to both make faster progress and also to bridge the gap to the point where I can make a living from only the LED business. So I started talking to multiple friends to get advice and will continue to do so. In addition, I also started writing a Business Plan, which can be useful for a lot of possible paths anyway and is also helpful for clarifying how to communicate what I actually do with my LED business.

And what comes next in February?

Glowingkitty.com

I will continue to update and improve the new website. Including a new about page, product pages with more details and useful documentation and FAQs, new product photos, and possibly other new features.

GlowOS

Wouldn’t it be great if you can easily change the brightness of your GlowLight, GlowTower, GlowCore, GlowCore Mini, and all my other upcoming products by just pressing + holding the Action Button? That’s one of the features I gonna implement in the coming weeks — in addition to further optimizing GlowOS for battery-powered LED projects as well. And once that is done and stable, I will make this new version of GlowOS available via an online installer, before continuing with building the next release — which also includes a new user interface design for GlowOS.

GlowCore Mini

I will do some more testing on the current GlowCore Mini prototype with the new battery management chip and ESP32 S3 Mini, and also fix the remaining issues with powering GlowCore Mini and connected hardware via battery. That includes making a new PCB design, with 4 layers instead of two (to keep it even cooler and to make the design process easier) — and also designing an updated case for GlowCore Mini. With a nice snap fit, where the case snaps into the PCB and protects it, but can also easily be removed if needed. Expect to see the new GlowCore Mini show up on my new website and online store within the coming weeks.

GlowBand

I am really looking forward to dancing around with GlowBand and testing it out in everyday life. So it’s also on my To Do list for the coming weeks to design and 3D print an updated case for the first prototype and build up a first unit completely for testing. If I can find the time for it, I will also then finish the design of the second prototype, which uses the ESP32 S3 Mini module and the new battery management chip.

Business Development

As mentioned, I will also spend more time getting feedback from friends and other people with startup experience and continue building a business plan. Part of that is also gonna be updating my financial planning (and keeping it better updated in the future, possibly with some automation or useful third-party tools). And once I have updated the new website with some beautiful photos and maybe also some realistic renderings, I will also start spending more time on promoting my website, products, and workshops — to teach more people about industrial design and make the world glow more!

So yeah, that’s it for this monthly update. Stay tuned for the next update and see you then!

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glowingkitty

Hey, Marco here! Maker and LED enthusiast. Loves learning new skills and exploring the world.