Hi all! Here’s the latest update on what’s been going on!
Meters on order:
We placed a purchase order with the meter factory! It took some work to make sure the factory understood what we were asking for, but we feel pretty good that they’re going to deliver the right stuff. Here’s the quick summary of what we went through:
- Artwork approvals - this is fairly self explanatory
- Face to face communication on Skype is good, but a picture can say a lot more. When we realized that language barrier was becoming an issue, we used pictures to communicateeverything. We took pictures to describe our customization requirements (swapping out one component), our packing requirements, and our testing requirements.
- The factory took pictures of their test equipment and wrote down their test procedures, which made us feel way better!
- Having a friend translate - we had a friend translate our test procedure to Chinese and double checked it back to English with Google Translate
- Customer provided test rig - we’ll be providing the factory with an identical copy of our test setup, that way we can agree from opposite sides of the world that the meters are what we expected.
- Agreeing on 1st article inspections / approvals. Some pictures from our test rig and documentation package to the factory are below
Lots more stuff
The meters are certainly the riskiest component we’re sourcing, but they’re definitely not the only component. Next on our radar is circuit boards, followed by shells. There’s a bunch going on on that front, here’s the summary:
Factory trip to Worthington Assembly. They partner with Circuithub.com and are where we got our prototype circuit boards made. They’re about a two hour drive west of us, but it was worth the trip. We talked about quality control (I’ll be there in person to check them when they come off the line), making some improvements to the board (we had a surface mounted battery clip pop off with some rough handling, we’ll be replacing it with a through hole component, etc…), and other items, like…
Chip programming: It will be possible to reprogram the microcontroller when it’s on the circuit board but we’d rather have a distributor program the microchips at their facility for us. This saves us having to build a programming rig, but it does mean getting all software updates done and ready prior to board fab.
Finalizing board designs and building a verification unit prior to approving a final release for 500 units at the factory.
Keeping tabs on outstanding orders for the long lead items like the knobs and knob electronics
Getting the sheet metal cases on order.
The meters are due to ship from China on April 15th, which would keep us on pace for late April / May. The critical path is likely to shift to other components now, but we’re going to keep a close eye on the meters until we can touch them with our own two hands.
aka THE Awkward Engineer