Electrical engineer Jason Gouw fondly recalls, “In second grade, my dad had taught me basic electronics and programming, and it opened up a world of new things I could create. I’ve always wanted to share that experience with everyone.” Jason and his brother Marvin Gouw spent much of their childhood being a tiny dev team, with Marvin always focusing on software while Jason’s passion was hardware. Later in life, the two joined forces to form Qfusion Labs, with the purpose of unifying the fields of electrical, software, and mechanical engineering.
Marvin, now a professional software engineer, remembers the day they decided to collaborate on creating something that would make life easier for both of them. He says, “We wanted to make it simple to create new projects, allowing us to focus more on the ideas instead of having to solve hardware or software problems.”
The result of this spark is their new programming ecosystem called Cubit, which consists of the plug-and-play Cubit Controller and Cubit Smartwares, paired seamlessly with their drag-and-drop app, Cubit Workshop. Jason says, “We decided to make a tool and platform that would be very easy and highly intuitive to use, without sacrificing the advanced features needed by hardcore engineers.” Once the brothers created a proof-of-concept prototype, they brought on two old friends, Sean Thurston and Tim Mowrer, who were both gaming industry software engineers interested in helping the Gouws bridge the gap between software and hardware.
A veteran at PCB design, Jason remembers his enthusiasm when he first heard about the Othermill during the Kickstarter campaign in May of 2013. He was an early adopter and one of the first to receive a machine. To him, it’s been nothing short of a game changer. He explains, “I used to have to wait a couple of weeks for my PCB order to get delivered, and they were quite expensive. If there was a flaw in the design, I would have to wait another week or two after redesigning the PCB layout. With the Othermill, my team and I are able to iterate in minutes and make changes quite easily. We even made a chassis for an underwater rover using the Othermill.”
Jason also sings the praises of working with SMDs (surface-mount devices), noting that they are more efficient to solder than through-hole components and they allow for more compact, dense PCB designs. He says, “The Othermill has allowed me to iterate with SMD components very quickly and inexpensively. I no longer have to focus so much on contingency plans for when my PCB comes after two weeks and has an issue. I can test and reiterate within a few hours.” He adds, “Once I’ve verified that a prototype design from the Othermill is operational, I can easily have the mill cut a batch of the prototypes for initial beta testing.”
After a year of the original four-person Cubit team working together, they brought on three more friends: UX designer Evan Hindar, electrical engineer Daniel Gando, and industrial designer Jimmy Chen. Collectively, they’ve developed an array of 23 Cubit Smartwares and have been vigorously beta testing the entire Cubit system. This week, they begin their next chapter by launching their Kickstarter campaign.
Most of all, they’re excited to get Cubit in the hands of makers so they can start building and innovating with it. The team plans to continue shaping the Cubit system around the needs of the community. As Jason puts it, “Our long term vision is to see a future where working with hardware and software becomes as ubiquitous as using smartphones is today, where electronic appliances and devices can be easily customized to the user.”