DV Build at the Factory
DV build complete
Over the last 2 weeks, we've ironed out a ton of issues in our production line. Sometimes the problems seem small ("what's up with that foam tape holding the vibrating motor to the housing?" or "we need to modify the pulp tray tooling to allow for a 0.5cm longer USB A connector") but since we're nearing the point of manufacturing 85,000 Pebbles, we need to make sure everything is sorted out before we start mass production. I want to re-iterate that Pebble is not in mass production (MP) yet. MP will start as soon as we eliminate any outstanding issues and complete the final Production Verification (PV) build. Based on the current schedule, we will start PV just before the end of December.
One of the hardest parts of manufacturing in China is keeping the Pebble team at the factory in sync with the Palo Alto team. We work through so many issues each day, resulting in daily brain dumps like these:
Nothing is more important to us than making sure that each Pebble is as awesome as possible, so every component of the watch (both aesthetic and functional) needs to be tested and inspected during the assembly process. Even before the components hit the production line, a talented team of Incoming Quality Control (IQC) people inspect each and every component, from individual electronic chips to the metal buckles on the strap.
Lens inspection station before hardcoating process
After IQC, the electronic components are soldered onto the circuit board, and then everything heads to the 'line'. The video at the beginning of this post shows about 1/3 of the different stations on the production line, including assembly stations where operators put pieces of Pebble together (by gluing, soldering, snapping and taping) and test stations (firmware flashing and verification, power rail test, serial line test, backlight inspection, with functional testing woven in).
On the production line, every Pebble is tracked with several different barcodes
Operator placing an in-progress Pebble into a functional test jig
Functional testing checks each button, the charge connector, display and backlight before gluing
The output of DV was 150 assembled Pebbles and 30 'kits' (unglued set of all parts). We've got a list of problems that we've noticed and solutions to implement. The next scheduled build is DV2 on Dec 8, with Production Verification (PV) scheduled 2 weeks after that.
As usual, all images and more are available in a high res album.
- Button tests complete. Still working after 50,000 presses.
- Our custom lithium-ion polymer battery passed UL certification.
- Hacker Special watches will be sent out from the DV batch.
- Software work is progressing well. We've reached a point where features are being added very quickly, after a long process of laying a strong foundation to the watch operating system.
- In the next update, we'll include video showing off the state of software on the watch.
As usual, thanks very much backers! On a personal note, it's quite amazing for me to stand in the factory, seeing these awesome watches pop off the production line. I'm extremely proud of what our team has accomplished so far. It's incredible to think that 4 years ago I was putting together the first prototype at TU Delft. Here's a video I uploaded back in 2008 of that first prototype (I know, I know...I needed a haircut...):
Eric + Pebble Team