New schedule and DSP update, plus a discounted original Sandman
Loyal Doppler supporters, here we are with another email update.
First off, we just wanted to say thanks for sticking with us and all the support you have given us is keeping us energized and excited. The Doppler is going to be an awesome product and we can’t wait to get it into your hands!
So, when will this actually happen? When will we be able to ship you guys the darn things?! There are currently numerous factors that are creating long lead times in the entire industry. Once the circuit board design is verified and we can order the electrical components and start the clock on those lead times. Our current target is to start the initial production of the Doppler right after Chinese New Year 2019 ends at the end of February. This means that we hope to ship you your Doppler units in March.
We know it may sound repetitive, but we really are very unhappy with the numerous delays and we know you are as well. We want nothing more than to get the Doppler into your hands as soon as possible! In an attempt to apologize to you guys, we would like to offer a discount on the Original Sandman. While the Original Sandman doesn’t have all the great features the Doppler has it should be a great holdover for you while waiting for the Doppler. You can learn more about the original Sandman here: sandmanclocks.com. Please check your email in the coming weeks and we will send over a personalized discount code for everyone.
In the previous update, we explained the issues we had with the DSP (digital signal processor) when the supplier no longer could support us. Well for the last month and a half we have worked on ripping out the DSP, microphone, power, and amplifier parts of our boards and replacing them with new parts that are being supported by our new DSP supplier. This ended up being about 50% of the board design, so it was a pretty major change. Once we were done with the board design, we sent it out to be manufactured. When we got the board and the parts, we brought them to our local assembly shop to put the (421!) surface mount parts on the board. After we got the newly-assembled boards in-house, we started the board bring up process and crossed our fingers. As is typical with complex engineering projects, we knew better than to expect everything to just work right away because we couldn’t finish writing the necessary drivers and software without physically having the boards. But, we do have good news! As it stands, the DSP is fully functional and we have it recording and sending sound to the main Doppler computer! We are currently working on bringing up the new stereo amplifier on the boards, which is the chip responsible for actually playing the sound from the Doppler computer. We are hoping to get this working in the next week or so. Getting sound to come out of the DSP is a huge step and once the new stereo amplifier chip is up and running we will have fully functional Doppler boards!
It might sound like we are still really far away from having a working Doppler. While I understand that feeling, let me tell you why it’s not accurate. In a previous update, we mentioned the Doppalator (the Doppler emulator). For those that need a reminder, The Doppalator is a Linux application that we created that mimics the actual Doppler hardware. This means that everything that works on the Doppalator will work on the finished hardware. The Doppalator currently has an estimated 70% of the functionality working reliably. So even though there have been hardware setbacks, we have been making progress on the software side. This is where a lot of our work has been when we haven’t been working on the boards. This is a partial list of some of the features that currently work on the Doppalator (in no particular order): Amazon Alexa, Alarms, 12/24 hour time, time set mode, color of the display, display brightness, volume buttons, mute button, timezones, BLE connection to the phone, day of the week, am/pm, time zones, and Wifi setup.
Here is a quick video demo of the Doppalator and Alexa working. This show the mute button working and the mic button working, along with some terrible dad jokes.
The next couple of things we will tackle (when we aren’t working on the boards): Dashboard, light sensor auto dimming, OTA software updating, A2DP and a couple other smaller items. These are significant pieces we have to get working but we know we can get everything done. We also want to stress that all the work we do on the Doppalator will be applied to the hardware once the boards are up and working! When we finish the remaining 30% of the development, we will be ready for a Beta test with our beta backers! These beta backers will help us make any last tweaks before we get everyone else their Dopplers! We then hope to continuously add more and more features in our quest to make the Doppler the best it can be. For those that are curious, the first major addition to the Doppler we plan on working on after Beta, Google Assistant!
- Some other quick updates: The newest mechanical parts are looking really very good and are almost perfect! We just have a couple small tweaks to get everything juuuust right and then we can mark off the mechanical as finished. We are getting new parts in the mail the week after next, and we look forward to sharing those with you when they arrive!
- The packaging design has begun; it will be a similar style to our original Sandman Clock. We are very happy with how this is progressing and our graphics team are now working on the exterior graphics of the box.
- Our app partners over at Zemingo have been hard at work as well and we are working on nailing down the OOBE (out of box experience) and initial setup of the Doppler via the app. Here are some screenshots of the current build of the app (which is a work in progress):
Alright, that brings you up to speed on where we’re at with development! Although there is still work to be done, we are determined to get the Doppler onto your nightstands as quickly as we can. Thanks again for your support and patience!