How Sun SPOTs are made

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For those of you who have been following the story of Sun SPOTs for a while, you know that this has grown from a little Sun Labs research project into quite an endeavor. Sun SPOTs are used around the world by students, researchers and hobbyists whose creative minds apply them to exciting new applications every day. We originally built the Sun SPOT as a platform for our own research. They worked out very well, but we pretty quickly realized that they were just too much fun for us to just keep in our labs. The ideas started coming: Wireless sensor networks, robotics, novel user interfaces, control applications... you name it. There was no way that we could do all these interesting applications ourselves. Plus, if we could think of interesting applications, just imagine what all of you would do if you got your hands on them? We just had to get these out into the world. Of course, this meant that a small group of researchers had to start thinking about how to manufacture and distribute these gadgets - a bit of a stretch, but we were spurred on by the idea that great things would happen if we just got them in people's hands. "If you build it, they will come." We were right and the Sun SPOT community was born. It's been quite a ride so far and it doesn't show any sign of slowing down! - Thank you all!

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As part of this process we've gotten to be involved in a side of things that researchers rarely get to see. We plan and execute the manufacturing of our own product - not something productized by someone else, but our own gadget. It's gotten to be quite a production. We've put together a little video to show how these little devices get made. Its pretty cool.

Anyone else want to try building Sun SPOTs?

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Because of the popularity of Sun SPOTs, manufacturing Sun SPOTs is getting to be a bit of a big deal and even a bit of a distraction from our research. We would love to be able to focus more of our energy on our software environment and HW design rather than manufacturing. We're pleased that we designed Sun SPOTs to inspire new applications and seed an industry, and it seems to be working. However, in the end, Sun's interest in Sun SPOTs is mostly in the software and enabling new hardware, not building the devices ourselves. Other companies are better equipped to build small gadgets. We've already been fortunate enough to license Java on billions(!) of cellphones, yet we don't build phones. We would love to be able to do the same thing in the trillions of sensors and embedded devices that the world will be using in the upcoming years. Of course, Sun SPOT hardware is all open source, so anyone can build these. In fact, we are actively looking for others who would like to take on manufacturing and distributing Sun SPOTs. Its the next logical step for our growing community. So if you want to build and/or distribute Sun SPOTs, drop me a line... let's talk.


Awesome video, thanks for sharing. My favorite part was the solder paste squeegee, then visual part-placing monitor and the critter at the end.
Can you do another one on the hardware design tools and process for me? :)

Posted by Craig Overend on February 14, 2009 at 11:24 PM PST #

3D Innovations may be interested in manufacturing the Sun SPOT. What is your contact information?

Posted by Kevin Colburn on February 24, 2009 at 03:23 AM PST #

TouchPad Electronics ( offers both design and assembly services for PCBs. Our team can capture a schematic, design the FAB and assembly, then source the board & parts and build affordable prototypes for anyone who has a new idea for a project. We would make a great partner for some of the development projects that arise within the SunSPOT community. Please email me at for more information.

Posted by Mark J. Stefka on April 01, 2009 at 12:49 PM PDT #

Great to hear from you Mark. I'll give you a call tomorrow.


Posted by Roger Meike on April 02, 2009 at 10:21 AM PDT #

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Roger Meike, Senior Director of Area 51 and Director of Operations Sun Labs


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