In the week before the ALP presentation, everybody was busy with their projects. Our theme to say the least, had a very eventful week.
Having ordered smaller PCBs from the PCB manufacturer(Disclaimer: We did not know how to make PCBs and thus sent original PCBs to the manufacturer and requested them to make them smaller for us) and tags from the 3D printing company, we thought we were all set and would have enough time to get everything done before the showcase. However, we were sorely mistaken. Our order for PCBs was actually sent in more than 2 weeks and we expected them to arrive in time for assembling. However, after checking on the progress of the PCB making, we realised that they had not even bought the components to be soldered onto the PCB. Thus, after many calls made between various parties at the company, the TA that helped us set the order for the PCBs and my group mate, we agreed to help them buy the components to help them speed up the process.A mad dash around 杭州电子市场(Hangzhou Electronics Market) to look for the components the company requested ensued. (It did not help that when we went down, it started to pour.) While we were able to find most of the components needed, we still had to order some from Taobao and send all of it through 顺丰，the express delivery company in China.
The next day, we went down to the electronics market again as when we went there the first time, it was getting late and most of the shops were unable to help us as they were knocking off. We had left a list of components with one of the shops for them to check if they had the components we needed, promising to come back the next day to get whatever they had in stock. Thus, we went down again to get what they had and also to search for components that we were unable to find the last time given that the shops were closing or had already closed for the day. My group mate had also gotten a contact of a PCB parts supplier, from one of the engineers in the company who was nice enough to help us, and was also requesting whether they had the parts we needed. After going down to the market, we proceeded to the PCB company itself to discuss with the people in charge of our order when they would be able to produce the completed PCBs. As the presentation was 3rd August, we needed them by latest 31st July since we still had to assemble the tags and get everything to work together. As they claimed that they would not have enough time to rush out 5 PCBs in time, we settled on them sending us 2 first and the rest at a later date. Having settled the PCBs, we left.
While we thought that was settled, my group mate received a call again saying that there was a problem with the original PCBs we sent, resulting in them being unable to continue with the assembling since we wanted them to use the microcontroller from the original PCB. It was a good thing that we brought PCBs from another batch of buzzers we bought, allowing them to use the microcontrollers from those instead although they had to redraw the PCB since the new ones had a different designs as they were produced in different years. In the end, they were still able to pass us 2 PCBs by 31st, allowing us to proceed with the assembling of everything else we needed to do.
Unfortunately, while we were still settling the PCBs, another problem cropped up. The company that was suppose to print the tags said that they were unable to send us the PCBs the day before we wanted to film our video. Thus, we had to find other ways to procure tags by then. To do so, we requested to borrow a 3D printer from ZJU and even went down to Cainiao to see if we could speed up the process by using their 3D printer as well. While we were able to get some prints from the 3D printed in ZJU, we ran into some issues with the printer at Cainiao. Despite being able to print some tags, they were not enough for our video due to the time needed to print one. Thus, through our resourcefulness, we made props out of styrofoam, some cardboard and spray paint in the hour we had before we had to leave for filming.
In summary, it was a very busy week rushing here and there and two lessons were learnt. One, we should not rely on Taobao too much. Two, being able to do arts and crafts is a very important life skill.