Apologies for the delay since the last update. As I mentioned there, I was sick of telling you that things would happen on certain days and then have them not happen, so I didn’t want to send another update before I’d had final confirmation that your Smartibots had shipped. I’m very happy and relieved to say that I received that confirmation this morning. The kitting factory finished packing your last Tuesday, they were picked up by the fulfilment company on Wednesday and they cleared export checks and entered the shipping channels on Saturday*. They should now take about a week to get to backers in the UK, about two weeks to get to folks in Europe and the US and about three weeks to get to the rest of the world.
The kitting process ended up taking longer than we had expected because of a problem with the jig we had built to program and test the boards. It’s all run off a Raspberry Pi which somehow ended up booting into the wrong mode once it was set up in the factory. This meant that the process of programming and testing each board was taking about 10 times as long as it should have. As I’m sure any of you that have worked with anything with embedded Raspberry Pi know, these can be fiendishly hard to debug, so unfortunately it took us quite a while before we finally worked out what was happening and how to fix it.
After some heroic work from Ting, and a lot of waking up in the night for me, we finally got it resolved on the 9th and things started to run to plan then. We tried to persuade the factory to speed things up by running the programming, packing and labelling processes in parallel but they wouldn’t do it because they thought it would increase the risk of some kits getting packed wrong (which was frustrating but I understood). It ended up taking them about a week and a half to get it all packed which is slower than we had hoped but still pretty good given how much goes into each kit.
I’ve got a few of the production kits coming to me, via one of those crazy-expensive high-speed courier companies, which were supposed to have a head start on the ones that are in the shipping channels, but they keep getting held up by random bits of admin. I’m hoping they will be with me tomorrow. I’m going to use them to film videos on how to assemble your Smartibots, how to use them with the app, and how to program them with the web-based IDE. I’ll put these in an update at the start of next week (along with links to the apps and IDE), which should hopefully coincide with the first kits landing on some of your door mats.
Thanks so much for your patience. It’s looking like we’re going to be a total of about 7 or 8 weeks late, which I’m really sorry about. I genuinely believed we would have got it all done on time when I put the campaign together and definitely wouldn’t have told you we’d manage a Christmas delivery if I’d been able to anticipate the problems that have cropped up. I guess the lesson is to always anticipate the unanticipated but it’s difficult to know how many unanticipated things to anticipate.
Hopefully you’ll feel your Smartibots were worth the wait and thank you so much for your patience and support,
*The main batch that has shipped includes everyone who responded to the survey by December 22nd (that’s when the shipping labels were printed and sent to the kitting factory). We’re using a different fulfilment company for ongoing orders and need to run the Smartibots for people who have respond to the survey since the 23rd through them. They are collecting the kits tomorrow and they will ship towards the end of this week.