The TL;DR: Items and sub-assemblies are on schedule. We still have some challenges to overcome, but things are looking promising.
Most of our updates focus on the ‘wins’, This time we’ve decided to share a short list of some of those frustrating, behind the scenes details that consume our time and caused Jerry to lose his voice this month ;) It’s definitely more than a full time job in order to keep this running smoothly. We’re still jazzed to be doing this, grateful to you all as always, and excited for the final product, but thought you might find it interesting to hear about some of these stories behind the scenes.
Overmolded Base Station Parts
This one seemed like something that we should not lose sleep over, but tiny challenges popped up and needed to be addressed to keep us on schedule.
The actual plastic resin pellets used in the injection molding machine for the overmolding process need to have a low “shore hardness” (meaning soft & flexible) and has to be slightly translucent to allow our LED to shine through.
At the beginning of the month it was proving challenging to to get the resin for the injection molding machine to actually ‘work’. It was flexible enough, but the pigment needed to be tuned to get the right translucency and there were flow marks through the final parts (because the pigment in the resin pellets were not mixed thoroughly)
The parts we were receiving were more than good enough to get us through testing assembly machines and ultrasonic welding jigs etc...so all that kept running smoothly.
We rolled up our sleeves and began engaging alternate resin suppliers in China to custom formulate that overmold resin, We found three potential other suppliers and did all the work to get them all to deliver custom samples of their resins in pellet form to the injection molders at Flextronics.
After a month of iterations, trials, late night calls and expediting samples to the injection molder we hear that this issue has been overcome and we should have final parts within a week or so.
So, the plastic parts are on schedule and will not be impacting fulfillment, but we figured we’d provide a little peek into what it took to keep us on schedule.
We were working with several partners for molding these zinc weights that act as counter weight in the Base Station. We were shocked at the incredibly long delivery times and bad communication from all these partners. 60-90 days for delivery was unacceptable.
We decided to go out on our own and find a new vendor. We found three and requested quotes. We narrowed that to a single new partner within 2 days after making the decision to source this on our own. We had new molds made and they delivered perfect sample parts to us in about 14 days after the initial conversation.
We receive all our zinc parts in about a week, in less than half the time the other suppliers were committing to, the communication from the new supplier is amazing, with regular updates and always meeting or exceeding deadlines. We’re so happy that this little part will not be causing any issues to our schedule.
To show the level of detail that we have had to get down to, we had to get a custom-made spring that goes in the base station. It allows the contacts of the base station to make contact with the watch, yet get out of the way when the watch is removed.
Programming the Base Station Microcontroller
We have a microcontroller in the base station that requires programming. We have a certain amount of un-programmed parts in hand, and pre-programmed chips should arrive in a few weeks. In order to make sure we get watches out to you guys as quickly as possible, we decided to make a programming fixture so we can use the un-programmed parts we were able to source sooner. This also gives us the flexibility to reprogram panels in the future if we find bugs or want to add functionality.
What we had to do: We designed and made a programming jig for that assembly line, it programs an entire panel of these PCB’s, 33 at a time, meaning we can program over 60 panels an hour.. This means, worse case scenario, we can program all the boards for our backers in about 4 hours, which will probably be one of us sitting in the assembly line…
The idea for this style of programmer came from Pete Lewis at Sparkfun. Below is a picture of our inspiration (Thanks Pete!)
In tandem, we had a test fixture company do a professional fixture for the programming of the actual watches themselves. We just got photos of the final embodiment today and it looks pretty bomb-proof!
We had to work through some details on the Titanium bands. While we were able to form individual bands by hand, when we attempted to have these formed at scale and heat treated to keep their shape, the heat-treating didn’t turn out so well:
In heat treatment, the bands were getting damaged to the point of failure, so we have a couple pathways moving forward to remedy this.
We are testing a Titanium alloy called “nitinol” that is getting phenomenal spring back and beautiful aesthetics. We are also refining our heat treatment technique to get the grade 5 titanium to keep it’s shape, and survive the process. We are confident that we will get to a good solution and will share news with you as it arrives.
Packaging samples came in and they are looking great! See for yourselves:
We have our certificate of compliance so we can use all of those logos on our packaging that will allow us to ship to your various locations!
This Coming Month of Activities & Risk Items
- We just got off a call with our manufacturer. We placed an order at the beginning of this month for a hot bar fixture that we will use for connecting our battery and for connecting our flex circuit to our rigid board on our base station.
These fixtures should be arriving in the next week or so, but they have been delayed. We are doing what we can to make sure this won't impact our timeline.
- We get samples of our different titanium band options next week, we will continue to push this to keep it on schedule.
- We will receive one custom fabricated machine from China specifically designed for our process of encapsulating our watch circuit boards. We’ll also be tuning all the other machines for PCB assembly, programming, ultrasonic welding, heat staking, and hot-bar assembly of the base station.
- We are finalizing secondary packaging for shipping to backers (These will be marked with all necessary notes and labels to ensure they are free to travel without customs problems).
This month, like every one previous, is looking like one with very little time for sleep.
-Dave, Jerry & the CST team
We’ve been getting a lot of similar questions, so we’ll be publishing a FAQ at the bottom of our updates in order to answer the majority of questions we receive.
When will you be shipping? Please read the above update for details on a shipping schedule, it is expected to be the last week of April
What order will you be sending out watches? I’m getting married / It’s my wife’s birthday / our anniversary so I hope to get mine first. Rewards will be sent out in the order they were received. This is the only fair way to schedule it. We’re doing everything we can to get them out as soon as possible.
Has the survey gone out yet? Yes. If you need to change your address, please see the last update on how to do so (please do not post comments about it)
How can I change my shipping address? See above
Using the size chart, my wrist is just barely inside of (one size) and barely outside of (another size), which size do I choose? Using the size chart, you should choose the size where the band is inside the "size range" square (not outside). There’s no overlap in the sizing chart, and no space between sizes, so you should be inside of one of the areas. If it's really right on the line, and you don't know what to choose, we recommend the smaller size since the bands can be spread out slightly to accommodate larger wrists easier than they can be made smaller.
I'm a distributor/reseller/vlogger and would like a sample for… Production samples are not ready yet. The DVUs we do have are not final parts and are not ready for evaluation by suppliers or testers.
Where can I buy one? / I just found out about this Kickstarter and still want to pre-order one. / I would like to order additional colors. We’re still in the process of producing the CST-01, so they’re not shipping currently. If you’re interested in getting your name on the list for when we do ship, you can pre-order watches on our site: centralstandardtiming.com. Orders will be fulfilled in the order they were placed. Thanks for the interest!
I see that there’s one watch left at the $99 level, how do I get that one? The Kickstarter campaign has ended. That statement is a bug in the Kickstarter system that we’ve requested to have removed. We’ve been told that removing this statement is not possible, so you’ll just need to take our word that the campaign is over and there are no "early bird" rewards left. However, we’re still taking pre-orders on our site: centralstandardtiming.com.