Richard Hughes: ColorHug Plus Update

Here’s an update for people waiting for news on the ColorHug+ spectrophotometer, and perhaps not the update that you were hoping for. Three things have recently happened, and each of them makes producing the ColorHug+ even harder than it was before:

  1. A few weeks I became a father again. Producing the ColorHug and ColorHug2 devices takes a significant amount of time, brain, muscle and love, and I’m still struggling with dividing up my time between being a modern hands-on dad and also a full time job at Red Hat. ColorHug was (and still is) a hobby that got a little out of control, and not something that brings in any significant amount of money. A person spending £300 on a complex device is going to expect at least some level of support, even when I’ve had no sleep and only have half a brain on a Saturday morning.
  2. Brexit has made the GBP currency plunge in value over the last 12 months, which in theory should be good as it will encourage exports. What’s slightly different for me is that 80% of the components for each device are purchased in USD and EUR, and the remaining ones in GBP have risen accordingly with the currency plunge. I have no idea what a post-Brexit Britain looks like, but I think it’s a prudent choice to not “risk” £20k in an investment I’d essentially hope to break even on long term, for fun.
  3. The sensor for the ColorHug+ was going to be based on the bare chip SPARK from OceanOptics. I’ve spent a long time working out all the quirks of the sensor, making it work with a UV and wideband illuminant and working out all the packaging questions. The price of the sensor was always going to be expensive (it was greater than half of the RRP in one component alone, even buying a massive batch) but last month I got an email saying the sensor was going to be discontinued and would no longer be available. This is figuratively and also quite literally back to the drawing board.

I’ve included some photos above to show I’ve not been full of hot air for the last year or so, and to remind everyone that the PCB, 3D light guide model and client software are all in the various ColorHug git repos if you want to have a go at building one yourself (although, buy the sensor quickly…). I’ll still continue selling ColorHug2 devices, and supporting all the existing hardware but this might be the end of the line for ColorHug spectrometer. I’ll keep my eye on all the trade magazines for any new sensor that is inexpensive, reliable and accurate enough for ICC profiles, so all this might just be resurrected in the future, but for the short term this is all on ice. If you want a device right now the X-Rite i1Studio is probably the best of the bunch, although it is sold by Pantone with an RRP of £450. Fair warning: Pantone and free software are not exactly bedfellows, although it does work with ArgyllCMS using a reverse engineered userspace driver that might void your warranty.

I’ll update the website at some point this evening, I’m not sure whether to just post all this or remove the ColorHug+ page completely. Perhaps a sad announcement, but perhaps not one that’s too unexpected considering the lack of updates in the last few months. Sorry to disappoint everybody.

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Original article title: Richard Hughes: ColorHug Plus Update.
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