Water Resistance, USB connectivity, & Schedule Update
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)
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)
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.