Funded! This project was successfully funded on February 22, 2013.

Update #19

So Far So Good

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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.

Plastics (TPU is too dark)
Plastics (TPU is too dark)

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.

Zinc Weights

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.

Springs

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.

Plastics, Weights, and Springs
Plastics, Weights, and Springs

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…

Base Station Programmer
Base Station Programmer
Opened
Opened
Gotta get the details right
Gotta get the details right
Close Up of Pogo Pins & Button Holes
Close Up of Pogo Pins & Button Holes

The idea for this style of programmer came from Pete Lewis at Sparkfun. Below is a picture of our inspiration (Thanks Pete!)

Pete Lewis' IOIO Fixture
Pete Lewis' IOIO Fixture

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!

Watch Fixture
Watch Fixture
Opened
Opened

Titanium bands

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.

Nitinol Band
Nitinol Band

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

Packaging samples came in and they are looking great!  See for yourselves:

Certification

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.  

Base Station Connection
Base Station Connection
Battery Connection
Battery Connection

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

FAQ 

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.


Update #18 - For backers only

Tutorial: How to change your address if you have moved.

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For backers only. If you're a backer of this project, please log in to read this post.


Update #17

Water Resistance, USB connectivity, & Schedule Update

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What’s Happened & What's In Progress

- Our battery partner has delivered all the custom units. 

- The final watch circuit boards are all in our possession, currently being integrated into Flextronics inventory management. 

- First article parts for the Base Station plastics have arrived, been tested and second article parts are on their way. After tuning of the tool, we can crank out the parts for all our backers quickly. 

- The first titanium bands in all three sizes and all three colors are arriving shortly. We’ve improved the geometry to look and feel way better. (softer edge, perfect brushing and good spring back) 

- Getting fully embedded in the Flextronics system has taken a lot of hard work to make sure we’re adhering to the standards put in place by those systems. 

- Packaging has been finalized and is in production. 

- We have a very detailed production plan in place. We’ve worked with Flextronics and all the 12 separate teams all week to nail down the final integration plan and ultimately get us to a fulfillment schedule. (there is a an edited down, but still detailed Gantt chart later in this post for those who crave the details)

Waterproofing

We know how interested everyone is in making sure the watch is water resistant, and we’ve gotten there.

It’s taken fractions of millimeter adjustments and a ground-up redesign (since the first prototypes) of the assembly process to ensure no water can get in.

We have not conducted highly scientific tests at this stage, but the CST-01 functions when submersed in water, and after being submersed in water continues to function. We have booked time at the Flextronics testing facility so we can get the water resistant certification (ISO 2281 water-resistant watches standard)

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Bonus USB Functionality 

We have been keeping this close to the chest, but it is at a point where we can talk about it now. We have added USB data functionality, so when the base station is connected to a computer it enables a few additional features. In the future (most likely after we have delivered the watches), we will be able to give you an application that will automatically update the watch to the computer’s system time. For the hackers out there, there will be a command-line tool that will allow you to write custom applications so you can have a tethered watch show any time you want (time of the next train, time until your next meeting etc…). This was the type of thing that we put off because it falls in the “optional” category. To make sure we weren’t distracted by this, we got some coding help from our friend Tod Kurt who became an expert in this field making the fantastic internet-connected USB LED called the blink(1).

Base Station 

Even though CAD for the tool was finalized many months ago, it takes 8 weeks to cut all the steel, assemble the moving parts and texture the tools. We have received the first parts of this tool, but it must now go through ‘tuning’ to get good quality parts aesthetically and mechanically.

What does that mean? We will be fine tuning the flexible overmold so that buttons feel good to push. The level of pigment in that resin will be adjusted to make sure the status LED is easily visible. The pressure and temperature of the plastic that is injected into the tools will be tuned to eliminate sink and flash marks where the plastic flows between the pieces of steel. We will also be adding textures to certain surfaces to get them to come out of the tool easier and look good.

Once the tooling is tuned then these parts can be produced at in less than a minute each.

Band Production

We’ve been tuning this process as well to get aesthetically beautiful parts that have the best springback properties. Flextronics is working on finalizing this in all three sizes and all three colors, Scheduled delivery of those first parts about 3 weeks from today. We needed your sizes in the survey to know how many of each band to have made.

Customer Packaging

We’ve worked hard with Jansy LLC Packaging to develop final packaging that will protect your watch while in transit and look good, Here are some images of that final packaging, These arrive in about 5 weeks.

FCC & CE certification

The FCC reports have been filed and some of the additional CE certification is getting finalized. We borrowed an ESD (Electro-static Discharge) gun to perform some of our own tests outside of the testing lab in order to feel even more confident about the watch’s reliability.

The Schedule

Due to the challenging nature of what we are doing (<1mm curved, flexible electronics), there have been many new processes and manufacturing techniques that need to be not only developed but proven and qualified so they can be added to the Flextronics system. This has been a more challenging and detailed task than is usual for a typical product development process. Flextronics have been willing to experiment and add these new capabilities faster than they have done in the past, so Kudos to them for stepping up to the plate on this and quickly qualifying new ways to manufacture.

We will still be assembling our watches in California, but are leveraging the global expertise Flextronics has to make sure we are using the best resources available to us. For us, this means working with teams in both the USA and China. Our schedule has been challenged by the most recent holiday season in both countries. For instance, one major part of the puzzle is a custom automation machine being developed to reliably manufacture some of our assemblies. This is being fabricated at a Flextronics location in China, another of Flex’s locations in China is also handling vital parts of the Titanium production.

We’ve concentrated this past week on tying up loose ends and making sure all the development and all the separate partners are lining up. It’s kind of like spinning plates, it has to be constantly monitored and we have to make sure we are delivering all information and engineering tweaks or feedback on quality control to all the partners in a timely fashion. This means delivering drawings and information to 12 separate teams on a daily basis. This level of management can be quite demanding, and is especially so when we are developing new manufacturing techniques to do something that has never been done before.

Below is an incredibly detailed Gantt chart that has taken us the better part of a week to wrestle together, it shows when all the separate parts and sub-assemblies come together and we begin to ship in batches. As you can see there are lots of dependencies and opportunities to try and compress certain items (such as the fabrication and testing of that automation machine in row 3) We have weekly conferences on how to expedite certain aspects of the schedule without risking reliability or build quality.

Link to Gantt chart

The TL;DR 

There is still a good chunk of work to be done and it looks like the watches will ship around the last week of April. A version of this detailed schedule is being used by Flextronics to make sure deadlines don’t slip further, and we’re doing what we can to compress things as much as possible. The one gating item is the fabrication of the machine that encapsulates all the electronics, We are focusing efforts to speed this up as much as possible.

We’re working on how many can be produced and shipped per week, This is expected to be in the region of 1,000 per week, possibly more if we can run 3 shifts per day.

This Coming Month of Activities

- While one of the machines is being assembled overseas Jerry and I have made a prototype version so we can continue with all other parts of the schedule.

- Getting into the water resistance testing facility and running tests.

- Drop testing the consumer packaging.

This month, like every one previous, is looking like one with very little time for sleep.

-Dave, Jerry & the CST team

FAQ 

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? Can I 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, size or color, please send us a message through the kickstarter system (please do not post comments about it)

I would like to change my color to... See above

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.


Update #16 - For backers only

Mini Update: Come say hi at CES!

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Update #15

Titanium Bands, Certification and Progress Report

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Titanium Bands

This is something we’re pretty excited about. The stainless steel band was performing well, but we thought we could improve upon it. We tested titanium in parallel with stainless steel and concluded it’s worth the money to upgrade to this far superior material.

The Details:

Weight: The entire watch assembly is nearly half the weight of the original: our previous weight of 12.5g has been reduced to 6.6g with the titanium band.

As far as we can tell, this means the CST-01 will be the world’s lightest watch, as well as the world’s thinnest.

It’s so light that a helium balloon can carry it! The watch on the left is one of the old prototypes with the steel band, the watch on the right is one of the new titanium samples:

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Material Properties: Titanium has better "spring back,” (low elastic modulus) so it better keeps to its original, intended form after repeatedly wearing and removing the watch from your wrist. It is also less stiff, meaning it will be more compliant and comfortable when wearing.

Biocompatible: We are using “grade 5 titanium” (Ti6Al4V), which is extremely biocompatible. Those of you who were concerned about nickel allergies need not worry, as there is no nickel in the Titanium alloy we will be using. It’s the same alloy used in biomedical implants.

Badass: Grade 5 titanium is the stuff used on space shuttles, fighter jets, and satellites.

Manufacturing Titanium:

Titanium’s manufacturing properties have made the decision even easier. Titanium can be formed using ALL the same processes as stainless steel and does not incur any schedule slip. In fact, we have more forming and heat treating options available to us. Flextronics is working on forming tools at this very moment. Even the pre-production models we have feel incredible. They are so unbelievably light.

Brushed finish, PVD Coating: All models will have the same brushed finish. For the Nando Rossi and the Rose Gold editions, PVD coating works the same way as on titanium as stainless steel. (We’re waiting on brushed samples at the moment.)

All in all, we thought it was worth the extra cost for all the above benefits. It’s undeniably better in all categories.

Certification 

In parallel with our work with Flextronics on the mass production units, we’re also been making samples of the watch and the base station for FCC, CE and other necessary certification for us to be able to ship worldwide.

These samples are for electrostatic discharge (ESD) testing (what happens when the watch and base station are exposed to incredibly high electric shocks), electromagnetic radiation emitted, and capacity to receive electromagnetic radiation.

The samples passed these tests with flying colors. A 4kV discharge does absolutely nothing to the watch or base station, 8kV resets the watch but causes no damage, and the watch emits basically no RF, which is not surprising given that it uses such a small amount of power and has no wireless capability. We will have no problem getting the required certification once the results are written up and submitted for approval.

Here’s a short video of those certification samples, the watch and base station changing time and going from 12-hour mode to 24-hour mode. This video shows the final method for setting the time also:

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We did our tests at the Bay Area Compliance Lab. The anechoic chamber where the RF tests were done is completely sci-fi and incredible:

Sleepy Face Low Battery Indicator

We had fun coming up with an animation to communicate when the watch runs out of power. You will see this after a month of use if you let the battery drain all the way. Utilizing the segments available, we managed to create a pretty unique indicator:

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Revised Shipping Schedule

We were hoping to start shipping the first batch of watches in late December, but now it looks like it will be late January before we could start shipping units. We are balancing the desire to ship as quickly as possible with the requirement that these watches will be robust and keep ticking when after being put through the paces.  We will not sacrifice testing to get these out, and sometimes testing requires unforeseen refinement phases to address issues.

We know you want your rewards and we are doing everything we can to get them to you and have them be the best they can be.

We are working with Flextronics to outline another detailed plan based on what we know now and will get it out to you as a mini-update as soon as it's complete.

Challenges Overcome

We estimated about 3 weeks for getting these models ready for CE and FCC testing in the last update. In parallel we were running our own electrical and hardware tests as we assembled those samples, These two items ended up taking about 3.5 weeks. The E Ink displays function as planned, with only one detail that required refinement in the battery-installation process. We were hoping that everything would be perfect, but were relieved that only one area required tweaking to get to best performance.

Those adjustments will get us a better performance in water resistance, something we know is a question from our backers.

We improved the geometry slightly and adjusted adhesives and assembly steps to better protect the battery from the elements. Once we got it right, it was bomb-proof in our initial tests. Check out his test where we threw a prototype from 12 feet high onto a concrete floor.  (Although we are testing to these extreme conditions, please do not do these types of things to your watch!)

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Here's another where we're bending it in a manner we do not recommend:

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The physical adjustments were all released in CAD to Flextronics for the base station tooling and have been updated as of a week ago. This adjustment may have made an impact on tooling release: about 2 weeks.

We’ll be working with Flextronics to do all we can to expedite the next stage of the process, assembly line strategy is complex, and we’re asking a lot, there are so many new techniques and manufacturing processes in the CST-01 that it will require continued hard work. We’ll be continuing to have lengthy working sessions as we build this out and transfer some responsibilities over to Flextronics.

Component Delivery

Batteries: Our custom batteries are arriving in a timely manner and are on schedule. We’re very happy to see their production is very much on target.

Base Station Electronics: All PCBs and components are on schedule with no delivery issues.

E Ink Sub-Assemblies: E Ink wanted to add a few weeks on their end for additional quality control and testing. We were expecting a batch of sub-assemblies by December 7. Now, the new delivery date is December 23-25. This puts us in a little bit of downtime as factories close down for Christmas, but we need to make sure these boards are perfect before the full order comes because there is no room for a mistake.

This Coming Month of Activities

- Over the next 2-3 weeks, we’ll be working closely with Flextronics on assembly-line design and delivery schedules.

- We’ll be sending out the reward survey shortly so that we can get all sizes, color, and delivery information from our backers.

- Finalizing the packaging design for shipping.

This month is going to be a busy one!

Dave, Jerry & the CST team

FAQ 

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.

Will you still be shipping in September? No. Our current schedule shows we’ll start to ship in late January.

What order will you be sending out watches? Can I 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? Not yet. In the survey, you’ll be able to select your size(s), color(s), and submit your shipping information. We’re only allowed to send one survey, and as these types of data change every once in a while, we’re waiting until we absolutely need this info before sending you the survey. We’ll do everything we can to make sure you don't miss it, and we’ll post in the comments and issue an update when it does go out. If you’re concerned that you missed the survey, please look through the updates.

I would like to select my size, I am a... You’ll be able to do this in the survey that will be sent out when we need this information. The survey has not been sent out yet.

I would like to change my color to... See above

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.


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