Use this space to cheer the creator along, and talk to your fellow backers.
Have a question?
@Stefan, we are planning on exposing Alexa and Google Home functionality for those who want to enable it. The object tracking does have interesting potential, we've toyed around with some "out there" features where you may get an alert if a pet has jumped on your countertop or something of this nature. Will have to look into it, but at launch we expect the API to be mostly black box. We are documenting it just in case, it's mostly REST HTTP calls and protocol buffers over a web socket. You would require SSL pinning with our certificate to make usage secure. Anyway, food for thought for us :)
i was thinking about integrating the stream and maybe detections into a dashboard for homeautomation. or even just registering when a cat has played with felik
@Sven Möller, thank you for the kind words. We're finding at this stage that we need to have a physical manifestation (3D print, CNC prototype, etc) of the final data that will go into production before we can proceed with the next step. Right now we need all production prototypes on hand in order to proceed with finalizing the shelf stand. The shelf stand is pretty much the last piece to be DFM'd before plastic injection molding tooling can be made. The stand is actually metal, but it has some plastic bits. It was easy to prototype, but in production it needs some load bearing, center of gravity, and drop-resistance considerations that Shaun has been great at identifying as we go along. We definitely want Felik to last :)
@Angry Lychee LLC to be a few month late is nothing bad in this complex project... For me it only shows that you think, work and improve your poduct and don't source it as it was planned, and at the end the customer get a non working prototype!
Keep up your good work and don't mind the few month, I am sure everyone expect more a high quality product than crap you get in time...
Thanks for all
Thanks for the very descriptive update! Enjoy your weekend
@Curtis, if I had to honestly estimate when we will begin shipping rewards I have to say it's February - March timeframe. We are a few months delayed..
Yesterday we've placed an order for the custom electronics, finally, after 3 months of making 4 revisions. Each revision took about 3-4 weeks to arrive. I think that was our biggest bottleneck, which prevented DFM from being executed in parallel to software development.
Right now we're waiting on 3D printed, CNC, and water-jetted prototypes of the external enclosure. These are slated to arrive on November 24th, although I suspect they might be a few days delayed due to the holidays.
Once we lock down the external parts (assuming the prototypes are good to go on first try, which they should be), we have to prototype the shelf stand, which was modified for this. This can take a few weeks, mostly due to how long it takes to 3D print and ship parts. Depending on the shelf stand's design, though, we may be able to get started on tooling for the plastic parts without waiting for the stand prototypes.
If all goes well, by mid-next-month we will have all our production data locked in, and we'll be creating QA documentation and quoting tooling work. We have to account for the holidays disrupting things a bit, so likely we'll award a tooling job for the injection molding in January. That's at least a 5 week turnaround. Again, assuming all goes well we'll be producing injection-molded parts by February.
At that point we'll need a bit of time to assemble and test everything, before shipping it out. But at this stage all the other stuff, like packaging, user manuals, liability insurance, certification, etc. will be long done so we'll be shipping them out as they're being assembled.
There is a slightly more optimistic timeline where we may be shipping units earlier than that, but this is my most realistic estimate at this point.
- Yuri B.
Hello, can't wait for your product. Is there a guesstimation for a delivery date?
@Daniel, since the last update we've been mostly focused on software hardening while we wait for the latest prototype parts to arrive. Some have shipped already, while others are being built. Turnaround on prototypes is anywhere between 2 weeks and 1 month from order to delivery. Right now we've got 3D prints, CNC metal parts, and water-jet cut plates on order to test the external enclosure. We are waiting to test the final CAD data to ensure that all the parts fit and work well before proceeding with injection molding tooling manufacturing. The next update will be when we receive the production-data prototypes, likely around Nov 20th. Unfortunately this project is a few months behind schedule, but very much on track otherwise :)
We have 4 cats also. It's crazy! 3 of them are black! So whats the updates on this guys?
@Stefan, I guess that it depends on what features people are interested in implementing and whether or not that will compromise security. We do have a REST interface over TLS, as well as a protocol-buffer based secure socket interface. But this is primarily for changing settings (schedules, sensitivity), software updates, and real-time video & control. There is not a way to fundamentally change the behavior of the device from this interface (although there is a firmware update endpoint). What kind of features were you thinking of potentially using the API for?
Will there be an API for Devs?
@Terry, thank you! We're happy to provide the updates :) Taking a product to production is a fun and fascinating process. This project may be 1-2 months delayed, but it will definitely ship, and ship soon. We're freezing some internal parts and putting them into production next week. We obviously want to hit all our promised deadlines in terms of injection molding, but there's also a secondary incentive to get all the tooling and production paid for and done by the end of the year for tax purposes.
Speaking of four cats, between me and my girlfriend we also have four cats :) Felik definitely works with that many. Once we ship Felik and spin up regular production, our next product will do what you ask (minus the airsoft!) - that is, keep animals off furniture and countertops in a safe and effective manner. We hope to create a connected pet product ecosystem that solves these kind of problems - currently a lot of these solutions do not exist and we ourselves experience the same frustrations as other multiple-pet owners.
I just want to say I appreciate the updates and responses to comments. I look forward to a successful project after the recent run of failed projects I backed. I purchased this when we had two cats but since then my wife has purchased the crazy cat lady expansion kit and now we have four cats... I was thinking you could tweak the software swap the laser for airsoft and we can keep the cats off of my counters? Kidding, sort of.
@Jerome becher, for now there is no need to give us your address. We will send out the address surveys close to when we ship the rewards to make sure we have everyone's updated address :)
How can i change my address for the pledge?
@Luca Vergano, no worries :) We will send out an address survey closer to shipping date. For now we just need to know which country you live in so we can package an appropriate power adapter with you Felik. We purchased extra adapters for all regions just in case since we did anticipate that some of our backers may move. We will collect shipping address information in a few months as we get closer to sending out the rewards :)
Guys hi, I need to get in touch with you as I will most likely move abroad so my shipping address will change. How can I reach you? Best.
@Brandan, it's awesome to hear the excitement :D We're so close to finishing the core mobile apps for both Android and iOS now! The software hardening is nearly finished and we're hoping to begin including some extra features. Got a solid production update scheduled for tomorrow (Thursday :)
Is anyone else stupid excited? My cat just sits here and looks at a laser pointer unless I hide it behind something and THEN he will chase it a little bit. He's so lazy but I'd be happy if he just stares at Felik's enticement and the miaows contentedly. I'll get a kick out of it either way. If he doesn't like it, when people come over and ask why is he just sitting there instead of chasing it, I'll simply point out his poor work ethic. I adore you folks for making this!
Great update guys. Keep up the good work.
@Andrew Just, no worries! We haven't sent out the address surveys yet. So unless you are moving countries (in which case you would need a different power adapter) there is no need to update your address yet. We will send out the address surveys closer to the ship date to make sure we have the most recent address from everyone.
I am currently moving and was wondering if it would be possible to change my delivery address?
@Bill Heffner thank you! We'll do our best to add more video content into the updates. It's a bit of a process to record, but probably the best way to demo any new features.
@creator Thank you for the updates and the set-up video was a great first impression. I can't wait for more updates like that.
@Kean, thank you for the link! Your friend points out a few other things about the Zero that made us pass on it. Like the lack of soldered-on GPIO headers. We power the SBC off of our daughterboard. The daughterboard contains the power socket, a USB hub, and an AVR chip for controlling all the "hardware" (laser, servos, limit switches, buzzer, LED, buttons) over a serial connection. With the 'One' or 'Lite' we can just run 4 wires to the soldered-on GPIO pins and be done. With the Zero it requires soldering on a header. A small step, but when you have a bunch of such steps they add up during assembly. The H2+ CPU also heated up a fair bit more than the H3 under full load.
We actually wanted to run with the Raspberry Pi Zero initially. A year ago we tried to source it in bulk and that just wasn't possible. It's still not available in bulk today, a year later. We also explored other SOMs, but you can see the cost for yourself here: http://www.variscite.com/products/system-on-module-som
The Orange Pi lind just makes so much more sense.
The Orange Pi Zero is a good board, can run Felik's software, and the price is very good. But there were these little things here and there that we just didn't feel entirely comfortable about. We'll probably find another use for it for another future project, but are sticking with the 'One' for Felik as it has proven to be stable over the past year of testing.
We have ordered and paid for a batch of Orange Pi Ones directly from the manufacturer about 10 days ago, shortly after KS deposited the funds. At the time of ordering they didn't have enough in stock, so we're waiting a week or two for them to build more.
@Creator Thanks again for the detail, that all makes a lot of sense. I haven't tried the Orange Pi range, but have a good mate who has done some reviews of them https://www.mickmake.com/tag/orange-pi
@Kean, you guessed it! The Wi-Fi module is the EDUP EP-N8508GS model. We're using the Orange Pi One, and there are a number of reasons for it:
- The Orange Pi Zero's Wi-Fi was terrible for live video. Connection quality and bandwidth were both unacceptably low, it just was not usable. The Orange Pi Lite has a different Wi-Fi chip that is better and more usable, but...
- The Wi-Fi chips on the Zero and the Lite models have not been tested/certified for FCC, and would most likely fail the recent CE requirement for packet loss rate.
- The Armbian distro for the Zero's H2+ CPU is not as stable as the one for One's and Lite's H3 CPU. We've had strange quirks happen on the Zero, and decided to stick to the H3.
In the end, since our code can run on any model of the Orange Pi, we decided to stick with the Orange Pi One. It's less expensive than the Orange Pi Lite, and more stable than the Zero. We got a decent factory discount by ordering direct in bulk, so it worked out :)
@Tom Knox, thank you! Our main goal is to stick to the timeline as closely as possible. I think most projects that end up not delivering happen to do so due to financial reasons. We don't have this problem, since we've done most development up front and also have more of our own funds on hand if we go over budget. The biggest worry we have is being delayed due to unforeseen circumstances (shipping, customs, tooling issues, etc).
As for the beta testing, we do plan to produce several production-quality units to distribute to a few testers. Our goal for that was end of August, but this beta test timeline may slip a bit since it looks like the lead time for the camera modules is 25 days and we're finally placing the order tomorrow. So while we have sample units to work with and develop with, we won't have enough to build more than a few test articles and we won't be able to give them away until we have the rest of the camera modules here. By that time (end of September) we may already be in full production mode..
Thanks for the great update - as someone who builds similar devices for a living I am loving the tech details.
Those look like EDUP nano WiFi modules. I went through a similar selection process on another project and at the time they came out at the top. I'm guesing you're not using the Orange Pi Zero as it has WiFi on board (but possibly not FCC tested/approved).
It's actually a pleasure to see a project making such swift progress. I have backed several projects, most with good intentions, but the majority of them get snagged up along the way, pushing their timeline months, even years out. I am avidly following and hoping you have a smooth turnout!
If you need a beta-tester I am willing to help. I would absolutely love to help code, but don't think I could give that much bandwidth at the moment, but beta testing I could do. Even to the point of dedicating a place here where I could place ancillary components/computers here to help capture real-time data from it for debugging. Just a thought!
In any case, thank you for the hard work, and being so transparent with us!
@Tom Knox, thank you! Yes, the software stack is certainly interesting. There is Java, Swift, and C code involved. When we started this device there wasn't a good way to add wireless connectivity for the app, so Felik was originally designed to be a standalone unit with just some hardware buttons and an internal timer for control. Only in the last 1.5 years single-board computers got inexpensive, available, and powerful enough to allow addition of wireless. It opened up a lot of new functionality, but added two extra codebases (Android/iOS) and security implications.
We designed the code to be modular in terms of how the different components interact. For example, it's pretty easy to create an interface for controlling the servos, and we have swapped three implementations over the last 2 years without changing the interface visible to other modules.
Started with using the SBC's GPIO by writing to a Linux device directly and using the PWM pins. After swapping a few controllers, we switched that module to one that sends serial commands to a control daughterboard PCB which houses an AVR controller so we don't have to figure out each SBC's GPIO over and over. Also have an implementation that prints servo commands to the console for testing the code in a desktop environment. Same with the camera, the AI layer, Wi-Fi, etc. The AI module can take input from either a live camera (two implementations for Linux and OSX), and it can also be fed pre-recorded video for training. Breaking it up into modules is definitely the only way to make the codebase manageable without it turning into spaghetti :)
Very exciting to see this happening! I am a seasoned developer (30+ years) on everything from enterprise-level systems to embedded systems, and have done a lot of programming for servos and such. It's a fairly simple concept, until you start adding the video recognition and the AI. I am impressed with your work so far and look forward to giving my cats an extra device to play with!
Thank you all so very much! We are so happy to know that there is excitement about Felik :) We'll be posting a quick update shortly! Thank you again for all your support and encouragement throughout this project. We can't wait to begin sharing our progress with you!
Congratulations and looking forward to this ingenious product!
gratulation on funding
now to the hard part ;)
Congrats on Funding!!!!!
@Kean: makes sense. Yes, the US lab tells us that as of June 13 the Radio Equipment Directive (RED) is in effect in the EU. This means some new tests are now required. In theory, if there is an issue we can simply throttle down the transmit power until it complies. We're working with fairly low TX power, so I don't think there will be an issue. Will find out around August. As for the FCC, you're 100% correct - Chinese facilities can no longer be accredited. Though that rule does not extend to Taiwan and HK, there are still officially accredited labs there. Well, we always have local facilities as a fallback, two are within driving distance of us
@creator I've just worked with a couple here in Australia. I know there are ones in China that were quite cheap, but the problem there are that you really need someone on the ground to help set up the test conditions, and to see results and make quick decisions/changes if you fail. And they will need to have the technical and language skills to do that, so unless you already have designers based in China working on it, that will likely remove any savings. Also, I heard at a recent EMC seminar that the latest FCC rules mean that many of the Chinese EMC labs will not be accredited any more. Europe is the strictest in many senses, due to the immunity compliance, so using a lab there may be a good option, if that works with your manufacturing partner.
@Kean: thank you! If there is an FCC-accredited lab that you have worked with in the past that you like, such a referral could be quite handy. I see that a lot of completed KS projects get their certification done overseas. We have some quotes from local U.S. facilities (it doesn't look too painful), but seems like an overseas lab would yield a better rate
@creator Thanks again for the details. Very cool. I've been through all that myself, including design of a custom ARM Linux board that went into mass production. For most projects I typically just use a Raspberry Pi, unless the environmental and reliability requirements demand something more rugged.
The only disadvantage to the modular approach is that because you're selling a finished product, every change to the internals will probably require you to re-test for compliance. When using pre-certified components that is a lot easier, but still takes time and money for each change.
Feel free to reach out to me if you need any assistance or advice, as I do this stuff everyday, and as a backer I obviously want to see you guys be successful.
On a separate note, my cats will love this - especially Monty who gets bored very easily!
@Kean: over the last 2.5 years we've switched several Linux controllers. Started with BeagleBone Black in 2014 as a proof of concept, moved to Raspberry Pi B, B+, A+, and Zero. These boards tended to pop in and out of existence in 2015 and 2016, some got discontinued, some had supply issues. So we came to a conclusion that this has to work with whatever boards are available on the market at the time. We needed the ability to swap them out at will and not rely on a single supplier.
To that end we eventually made the design very modular. Components communicate with each other via interfaces and do not care about each other's implementation. We can swap the camera out, we can swap out the SBC, or the servos and Felik will still work. Our code is portable and will run on anything that runs Linux - it doesn't have any hardware specific dependencies, we even run it on OSX for development. The PCB in question (aka control board), communicates over a serial connection and has a defined command interface so that it can work with any Linux SBC and requires just a common ground and two wires for TX/RX. The control board was created to be a 2-way GPIO interface. This way instead of adapting to a new SBC's GPIO we just need to know where the UART is and change the software config file.
The prototypes in the campaign video are using an Orange Pi Lite SBC. We have also fully vetted the code and hardware with Orange Pi Zero. We're currently angling for the Zero because it's reliably available in bulk quantities, has a powerful CPU, and is compact. The Wi-Fi performance of the Zero is something we're still evaluating, however. We may disable the onboard radio and use a separate chip instead to improve Wi-Fi performance.
At some point we contemplated rolling our own Linux board but after looking at the proposed BOM and labor estimate it was clear that it's much cheaper to use existing off the shelf single board Linux controllers.
@creator thanks for the detailed explanation. I assume the "off the shelf component" contains the quad core CPU doing the CV processing, so that plus the European outsourced PCB work makes me much more comfortable. Cheers.
BTW, do you feel comfortable to share what OTS quad core CPU board you are using?
@Kean: the prototype consists of two boards one of which is an off the shelf component the other is a very simple PCB which receives commands over a serial interface and interprets them into PWM for servo movements, laser power, buzzer, RGB LED etc. It is so simple that for the prototype it didn't make sense to have production quality design right away. For example, we're using a SOIC package of the AVR controller at the moment and need to switch to MLF packaging (which would have been difficult to solder by hand for prototyping). A few electrical components are through-hole instead of SMT, and there are other minor things of this nature to be changed for production (current limiting for the servos, for example). The board 100% works as-is, we just want a professional electronics shop to give it a do-over and optimize for production.
> do you actually have a real electronics engineer on your team who has experience with electronics component selection, DFM, and product certification?
We're outsourcing the PCB hardening to a vendor in Europe that we have worked with on prior projects. This vendor has already looked over the existing schematic and provided us with a list of design tweaks and a quote. The cost of this hardening is estimated around $900 so very little work remains to be done. The same vendor does manufacturing and component sourcing, but once the board "hardening" phase is complete we can easily have any PCB shop fabricate it in large quantities with relative ease.
Internally all components are already individually CE & FCC certified (except for this control daughter board which doesn't emit RF), so we don't foresee any difficulty in obtaining these for the overall device.
So in short, our team has enough electronics know-how to make the prototype fully functional, but the actual DFM of the board is outsourced to a trusted vendor who specializes in that sort of thing.
@creator Two things I read just now here and in the latest update concern me:
"Electronics hardening. ... adding voltage regulation ..." - surely you must have that on a prototype!
"will aim for SGS cert then" - SGS is a certification company, not a certification standard. Australian customs aren't strict about certification on one-off imports like Germany are with the CE mark, but I would want to know that it meets local requirements in terms of EMC and safety.
You obviously have some good industrial designers, and apparently some clued-up software engineers, but do you actually have a real electronics engineer on your team who has experience with electronics component selection, DFM, and product certification? Not just a maker with a can-do attitude. As much as I love makers (and work with them) this is an end-user product not a component for a maker to hack.
As a side note, in terms of device security, our plan is to implement the following:
- Close down all ports not necessary for app communication (SSH, etc)
- Encrypt all HTTP traffic (TLS, formerly SSL)
- Encrypt all web socket traffic (WSS)
- Set optional device passcode for app connections and enable app access via fingerprint/passcode
- If not connected to home Wi-Fi, set AP WPA2 passcode
- Encrypt portions of the device storage (SD card)
@Sebastian Oort: thank you! Yes, penetration testing would be great! We're probably a few months away from being ready for that, but this could be very handy to ensure device security :)
Hey good luck on this awesome campaign. Would you be interested in having me get our local hackerspace to test this device for 'digital safety'?
@CatBox: will aim for SGS cert then! Thank you for your interest and support :)
Awesome thanks for looking into that. If you're certified for Au, and it's as awesome as it looks, we'll definitely want to chat about a wholesale order.
Very exciting, can't wait. :)
@CatBox: our laser's power output is <1mW. The dot looks larger because we set it slightly out of focus on purpose (to make it appear larger).
I did some research on the Australian law and the <1mW rule really applies to lasers which meet the following conditions:
- Battery operated
In this case Australia considers it a "dangerous weapon" because exposure over 1/4 seconds can temporarily flashblind a pilot or a driver (it's also illegal in the U.S. to point with intent to blind). This law seems to explicitly apply to laser pointers and not "laser modules or other equipment".
This is a very interesting topic that you raise, however. We'll make sure to properly label the laser power output in the box so that if there is no confusion. Perhaps achieving Australian SGS certification is a worthy goal to strive for as it will also grant us certs in other countries due to its stringency (and it seems quite affordable). Thank you for bringing this up to our attention!