Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Project: Preview | Interview with Nick Popov

What's up, everybody? I'm back with SL's second interview, this one with Nick Popov.

Nick is the founder and head of VIVID Storage, a Sydney, AU-based company that makes portable SSDs (Solid State Drives) in colorful, aluminum cases. Plus, they're based on USB 3.0 technology, making them incredibly fast and resilient.

Which is nice.

I was able to reach out to Nick just before the Christmas season and get some questions answered. (Which was very generous, because he has been quite busy lately.)

Enjoy the interview!


Carter Schaap: How long have you been working on the VIVID SSD, and at what point did you decide to create your own SSD?
Nick Popov: Basically the VIVID SSD idea was born early 2104 and I worked on the project since then. The idea was taking form in my head for a couple of months, until I decided to start researching on the portable drive components and materials and to making the initial inquiries to the factories in April 2014.  It wasn’t called VIVID back then; it was just a hypothetical SSD portable drive in a very small form factor and simplified aluminum case, featuring multiple colour combinations.

CS: Is this your full-time job now, or do you work in another field of expertise, and this is more of a side project?
NP:No, VIVID SSD is not my full time job, but lately its becoming one as it is taking more and more of my daily work routine. I run a small B2B marketing agency for Consumer IT clients in Australia and New Zealand as my main occupation and this experience helped me a lot to make VIVIVD SSD project happen. Lots of great and successful ideas and products start as a side project, but I hope VIVID SSD will grow into something bigger and more independent.

CS: When designing the SSD, were there any difficulties while creating a drive than took full use of the USB 3.0 capabilities? Same with the external casing?
NP: There were difficulties at each step of making VIVID SSD, as developing a product from scratch was a new experience for everyone involved. We aimed to create the ultimate portable drive which meant using best components when designing the PCB and sourcing the top quality flash memory. The main challenge with PCB design was fitting all of the components we needed on a relatively small board to maintain the overall small form factor of the final product. Some major vital components, like ASMedia flash controllers that we use in VIVID SSD, had to be imported from TAIWAN, which became a massive challenge in terms of keeping the project in the projected timeline. Case wise, the main challenge was to get the colors we wanted right, during the color oxidation process, which meant back and forth production samples delivery from manufacturers to Australia, until we were satisfied with colors. Getting the right grade aluminum on the small test orders wasn’t easy either as larger manufactures were not interested in our initial order volumes

CS: How many prototypes or iterations of the drive did VIVID go through to reach the current design?

NP: For the PCB part, I would say we went through at least 12-15 prototypes to make sure the sped transfer is up to our high requirements. Then, at least 10 Case design and major alterations, from improving the looks and heat spread, to adjusting the case internal design to fit the latest PCB design. CS: Finally, does VIVID have any other product ideas or models of the SSD in mind for the (distant) future?
NP: Yes, we are working on a few new VIVID products at the moment, which include VIVID PRO storage solution (double/triple MSata slots in RAID 0) and even smaller consumer drive with USB-C connectivity.

They will be available soon through the website. 

NP: Thank you for the questions and the opportunity to be heard.


Thanks to the entire VIVID team for helping SL accomplish the interview! Especially Stas Svamin, the Digital Marketing and Planning leader, who coordinated between Nick and I to get the questions answered.

If you're interested in the VIVID SSD and would like to help them reach their goal, (as of this publishing, they're at 96% funded! Almost there!) you can head over to and pledge $181, which'll get you a Drive of your own.

Stay tuned for more project previews... Carter out!


Monday, December 28, 2015

Project: Preview | Interview with Jim Smith

Hey everyone! Here's SL's first Project: Preview!

...While it's not a product review, (one coming soon, thought!) we have a great interview that we did with Jim Smith, the creator of Hologram Pyramid!

Hologram Pyramid, a holographic projector for smartphones, is currently on Kickstarter. It's 19% funded as of this article's writing, with 16 days to go. Check it out here!

Hologram Pyramid

Well, without further ado, here's the interview. Enjoy!


Carter Schaap: Great to be here talking to you tonight. How are you?
Jim Smith: I'm doing good, thanks.

CS: So when did you think up the concept for Hologram Pyramid?
JS: I started the project about 3 months ago. I was searching around on the internet; Reddit, actually, and came upon instructions to make your own holographic projector out of a CD case. So, I went into my garage and got this built. It was a pretty rough prototype.

CS: Have you come across any other products on the market similar to what you've created here?
JS: Yeah, I think I found maybe three other models out there... But none have the suction cup feature.

CS: Is this your full time job now?
JS: No, no, this is a side project I work on in the wee hours of the night.

CS: So I'm assuming then that it's just a one-man team working here.
JS: Yeah, It's just me.

CS: What goes into the creation of these pyramids? You mentioned using injection molding in the future for mass-production... is this how the prototypes are created?
JS: Right now, the prototype is machined out of a solid piece of clear plastic. The process starts with a 3" by 3" block of plastic that's cut down into the pyramid shape.

CS: It sounded from the Kickstarter video like you taught yourself most of the science behind the project using simple online resources like YouTube.
JS: Yes, I had to teach myself all about how the physics worked.

CS: How many prototypes or iterations of the pyramid did you go through to reach the current design?
JS: This is about the third prototype.

CS: This is your first Kickstarter, I presume. Have you found it exciting? Stressful?
JS: A little bit of both!

CS: You already have a fair amount of backers pledging to the Kickstarter. I think partially the allure of your project is that's it's much more unique than some of the other crowdfunding campaigns out there.

CS: Finally, do you have any other concepts or ideas you'd like to work on in the future?
JS: I'd probably try and make it even better. I have a ton of concepts I'm always throwing around. I'd like to make a tablet version, something larger to project images off of bigger screens.

CS: It's been great having you on today. Where can readers find you besides, obviously, the Kickstarter?
JS: Sure thing! My website is From there you can find all the links to my LinkedIn, etc.

CS: Thanks for your time!

JS: Take care, man.

Well, I hope ya'll enjoyed the first-ever issue of Project: Preview. If you're interested in the Hologram Pyramid, hop over to Kickstarter and donate $25, which'll get you a pyramid of your own!

And if you do, make sure and tell them Carter sent ya!


Thursday, December 10, 2015

A New, Unique Series!

Get excited, everyone.

   SL's new series, over a month in the making, is almost here! Aptly called Project: Preview, it's a unique new series which delivers hands-on, in-depth reviews... on projects that you can't actually buy (yet).

   The Lab is partnering with various project leaders with currently-active Kickstarter projects that are still in the process of being funded. Their projects will be reviewed over a 3-5 (or more) day process, and then the results of that review will be published on the site as well as on all major social medias. =)

   Hopefully in the future, this'll expand to even more crowdfunding sites. The purpose of this project is to give the readers, and potential backers, an accurate, unbiased opinion on the product before they pledge their money, as well as providing feedback to the creators regarding any potential bugs and glitches.

   I hope you enjoy reading these articles and potentially backing the projects as much as I enjoy writing them. I can't wait to hear your feedback once they're published!

Later, skaters!


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Humble Bundle's Sweet Deal of the Month!

Hello hello, all you Makers... guess what Carter's sweet Maker-ey deal of the month is this time?

...Well, okay, I guess it isn't mine, per say, but is that of Humble Bundle, the charity-sales website. They offer bundles of digital videogames and books for the low, low price of whatever you want to pay them! 90% of all the proceeds go to charity, and you get a massive grab of books (in this month's case, TONS of DIY-related guides by the MAKE: company)!

Here's what you'll get for donating $1.00:

For a donation of more than the current donator's average (currently just over $13):

That's right! You get SEVEN extra titles, two digital issues of the magazine, and ALL the extra titles released later on in the month.

But wait! There's more!

As an added bonus, donate $15 or more and you'll get two extra (and quite expensive in-store) titles. That's 15 books total, plus 2 magazine issues, and there's still more on the way! Plus, even if you donate now, you'll receive all the bonus books added into the bundle in the future FOR FREE!

Get hyped! I already snagged myself a humble bundle, and you should too! Oh, and make sure and tell 'em Carter sent ya! ;-)