The original Pico was here:I think external modules would be fine! As users, we can build little 6" cables if we need to as long as the connectors are easily available - or you could even include them with the kits optionally.
It's always discouraging to have to toss work that you've invested time into - but as engineers (I do software, not hardware) - it's important to know when to cut losses and just start fresh with a different avenue.
Do you have a github repo that we could sponsor, or anything like that?
Yes, absolutely. Enclosures are brutal. Plastic isn't out of this realm, but a simple aluminum extrusion, fasteners and PCB end plates (the cheap approach as opposed to machined+printed plastic or metal), easily adds $20 to the component cost, which increases the product price by at least 2x that amount.external is fine but just be cognizant that it adds a lot of new complexity and failure points. Also cost of each enclosure can be a problem unless you can spec into something super available. I’ve had a number of diy projects where the enclosure and faceplate cost more than the electronics and that’s something you really want to avoid.
IMO the problem with most available Controller hardware is that it’s not designed for failure. Any single failure can result in almost catastrophic runaway and any time you add additional failure modes it’s becomes even more complicated to design around. On one board you can have secondary monitoring once you get away from that architecture everything acts independently and you need a whole new set of failsafe logic.
Its all about destructive testing - the strip is fused at the inlet but its important to know when things fall apart. I have a 30A 240V and 50A outlet for the TIG welder run in the garage, but its 240V. Going to have to run a neutral leg for on one of those or see if I have any breaker space left for the destructive testing at 120V . Thankfully the lab space is on the same wall as the electrical panel so running a circuit is straight forward, assuming I just mail order small EMT conduit sections to avoid having to go to a store.you are not worried about house panel circuit's tripping ? these test setups will draw almost near capacity (20A is the normal limit ?) , i think the dryer outlets are 40a/30a