Last week we had the chance to spend a day at SMS testing the final 2B board as it came out of the assembly line, putting it through its paces with the latest firmware, all upgrades (Realtime clock, Wi-Fi, Accelerator and RAM), daughterboard and the keyboard matrix, ensuring everything worked as planned and no last-minute adjustments were required.
We’re happy to confirm the 2B board performs admirably, as planned! It just works, right out of the assembly, greenlit all the way!
Since then, the 2B has been burnt-in tested for 4 days non-stop, with no issues found. It was also the first opportunity to test it with our own SD cards, just shipped from China thanks to the help of Djordje Mitic, who has been battling bad cards and supplier traps for the past three months in the name of the project. We owe Djordje a huge thanks for his efforts.
You might think that it would be awesome if the SD cards were printed with the Next stripe colours. At least that’s what we thought ourselves! But it turns out that keeping all four stripes aligned through four different silkscreen passes (one for each colour) was a bit of a challenge for such an small item, thus white it was. We now say it’s because white it’s more elegant, but the truth is the partner couldn’t get the colours properly aligned… ;)
The keyboard matrix has been in stress-test for the past two weeks, ensuring the materials endure long-term usage without performance degradation. This week we should have its greenlight and move ahead with production. Still, the keyboard remains our last hurdle to shipping, our expectation is that we’ll finally have moving into production in the next few days. This has been progressing much slower than we anticipated, unfortunately.
Case updates and tweak
The case has been tampo-printed, which is plastics lingo for ‘we added words and colours to it’, meaning the Spectrum Next is red and the connectors are labelled (not that anyone needed the help, right?)
We got a very weird metallic-red applied to the logo, which was promptly corrected to a solid red, and the logo needs a bit more raising above the case (by 1-2mm tops). This has now been adjusted, and along with the rest of the labels, all is well. Speaking of red, we also got the proper colour for the stripe and buttons fixed after our snafu of choosing the wrong pantone (see in previous updates).
But… Phil picked up on something new. After a while (and some testing abuse), the left corner of the bottom part of the case developed a 3mm angle warping, coming slightly apart from the top case. We discussed this at length with the plastics partner, and the obvious solution was the addition of an extra screw.
Phil didn’t like the idea of an extra screw much, though -- so came up with a set of reinforcements that made the case sturdier all around, across all corners. These have been tested by Phil, and now added to the mould.
The little details…
Last week we received from SMS a small additional set of instructions for the PSU box. The thing is, the Next box is black -- but the PSUs were shipped in white boxes. Mike Cadwallader thought this unacceptable, thus we made thousands of new PSU boxes that are now waiting for the assembly and packaging to start. Yep, we’ll take them out of the white ones, put them into the black, and only then pack them into the Next box in all its glorious… Black. Thanks to Mike and Anita for such love for the little details that matter.
Up and onwards
Now it’s all focus on the keyboard. Fingers crossed the next update will finally feature it in all its glory! Stay tuned...