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Broodminder makes scientific instruments for the backyard beekeeper. These devices wirelessly monitor the temperature, humidity, and weight of a beehive and wirelessly share this information with mobile devices. This data helps beekeepers spot early problems in their hives and address issues faster. Beekeepers may also share their data with a national network of beekeepers called Beekeeping.IO. As Broodminder users have uploaded their data to Beekeeping.IO scientists already have started analyzing this information to spot trends and improve bee health.
Originally an Indiegogo funded project, Broodminder was developed by Rich Morris; and secured funding by appealing to the backyard beekeeping market. Interest has been intense, and as of April 2017, there are more than 3,000 units reporting data for beekeepers.
Electrical engineer turned entrepreneur Rich Morris married his product development experience with his beekeeping hobby to use technology to protect the bees. Morris' device monitors key data points in a beehive to catch problems faster without having to open a hive in inclement weather. Morris ran into a myriad of design and component issues. A defective component resulted in field failures and ultimately a complete product recall. Pro-Active Engineering was able to work with suppliers to replace the faulty sensor and get the device back to eager beekeepers everywhere.
A defective component resulted in field failures and ultimately a complete product recall. Pro-Active Engineering was able to work with suppliers to replace the faulty sensor and get the device back to eager beekeepers everywhere.
To fit Broodminder into a beehive and not disturb the inhabitants the device had to be compact. Rich Morris, the owner of Broodminder and an electrical engineer by trade, was concerned about precision component placement on his dense board. Multiple components needed to be placed within 1mm of each other-- a difficult task for hand placement.
Pro-Active Engineering used their Mycronic-My Two pick and place machine with some of the best CPK index ratings in the industry, to assure the most accurate and precise placement of each component.
Broodminder uses the latest BLE Bluetooth technology so that a single battery can operate in a hive for over a year. It remotely transmits beehive data to a phone so a beekeeper doesn’t have to open a hive in winter and endanger the bees. However, the early prototype of Broodminder was burning through its batteries in weeks; something was draining the energy.
Pro-Active Engineering analyzed the prototype and determined the circuit board was built within specifications. Despite being within specification, the problem persisted until Pro-Active engineers & Morris were able to trace a current drain to a single capacitor. The drain was remedied by switching from a large ceramic capacitor to a similar tantalum capacitor solved the issue, and the battery now lasts over a year.
After an enthusiastic Indiegogo campaign and early problems solved, Morris shipped out his first batch of Broodminder devices when he got the bad news. A well-known component maker issued a worldwide recall of their humidity sensor; the same one Broodminder was using. The humidity sensor in every product he had shipped was faulty.
Broodminder issued an apology and a total recall of every product. Pro-Active Engineering and Broodminder worked quickly to source a replacement sensor. Pro-Active Engineering shuffled their production schedule and rapidly created prototypes to test the replacement sensor. Communication and coordination solved the problem and customers had a replacement product in their hands in less time than originally quoted.
Despite the early hiccups Broodminder and Pro-Active Engineering worked through, customer interest only increased in the device. Honest communication, responsive customer service, and an easy to use product has led to respectable sales in the amateur beekeeping market. Currently, there are over 3,000 users of Broodminder who are contributing to the Beekeeping IO data science project. This information will be used to improve the lives of bees worldwide.