Thanks, Rewards, Production Prep, Software, Test PCBs
Thank you for backing this project. I've been working on this board for quite some time, unable to really show anyone until now. It's really awesome to finally get to share and see such a great response!
Already we're up to 1194 backers, with an average of 2 boards per backer, in just a couple days! Hopefully we'll get to 1572, the number of people who backed Teensy 3.0 in 2012. Like then, we set the funding goal fairly low so we wouldn't be preoccupied with it, and because we're already very committed to making this board. This great early response makes launching the product into production much, much better.
Robin and I feel strongly about not adding stretch goals & rewards. I know this is common practice on Kickstarter. But so are delays. We're committed to keeping this project moving on schedule and shipping your rewards on time, so we're going to practice restraint and not expand the project's scope.
Robin will be adjusting the limits on the reward levels, if any get close to running out. The total of all limits is based on the number of chips we can get, so there's flexibility to adjust if any reward level needs more.
The top 2 reward limits are based on items in very limited supply. The most constrained are the preproduction boards. A small number of these are being saved for my work on the test fixture. When that's completed (I'll be posting updates), we'll make those available as few extra top-tier rewards.
The ethernet shield is also in very limited supply. These are hand soldered, so we just can't possibly build a large quantity. I hope to make these available as a regular production product at a later date, likely in early 2017.
I want to be clear about the early state of software development for this ethernet shield. Right now, there's only an ARP+Ping test I wrote, and several benchmarks Manitou published. Manitou's results show we can look forward to really awesome performance. But at least for now, there simply isn't a mature library usable for most projects.
The regular (but slow) Arduino Ethernet library works, of course. I tested it with the Teensy 3.6 beta board and a WIZ820io module. If you're planning a project where you want ethernet to "just work", that's probably going to be the best path for the near future.
Robin has been working on preparing for production of these boards. The 6 layer PCB fabrication is the pacing item. She already placed a large order for the PCBs, and many of the components. Much of this is purchased on credit and the bills will become due at the time Kickstarter funds this project (2 weeks after it closes).
We've also been working with our assembly vendor. They're here in Portland, Oregon USA, only about a 15 minute drive from us. That's incredibly valuable, since we can easily meet in person. I went over there a few days ago to look at a special fixture they had made for applying the solder paste to Teensy 3.2, and I adjusted the position of the holes in the PCB's panel to fit. They've confirmed scheduled time to build these boards in late September, which of course is critically important for rewards to ship on time.
On the day we launched this Kickstarter campaign, Arduino.cc released Arduino IDE version 1.6.11. Talk about timing!
Yesterday I updated Teensyduino and published version 1.30-beta3 for testing. While we've been best testing Teensy 3.6 for months using a customized board.txt file, this is the first Teensyduino version to include it by default. Here's how it looks.
If you're curious whether a specific Arduino sketch or library is likely to work, just install this into your copy of Arduino, and then click Verify. If you do find anything which doesn't compile, please post a message on the forum's beta test thread, and I'll try to look into it.
Test Fixture PCBs
Yesterday late in the afternoon 2 packages arrived from OSH Park. I'm always excited when those white & purple envelopes arrive! I spent this morning soldering them up.
The first board is meant to plug into the SD socket, so we can test to make sure all 8 pins work.
The connector mates with a flat flexible cable.
The 2nd board is the main controller for the text fixture. This is actually the 2nd revision of this board. I'll post a detailed update about the test fixture within the next week, but at this moment we're still waiting on another OSH Park package...
One small detail that worked out very nicely is the 45 degree angle on the micro SD insert. This is a challenging shape to make with tab routing, because the router bit that cuts the outside edge of the PCB has a fixed radius. I designed the PCB with this funny-looking little 90 degree notch, in hopes the radius will fill it in and blend with the 45 degree edge.
The net result turned out pretty close to the shape of a real micro SD card. After sanding the edges smooth, it fits very nicely into the socket.
Throughout this campaign, I'm aiming to post an update every 2 or 3 days. Coming up soon will be a pretty detailed look at the test fixture. I'll probably write more about the technical details of the new peripherals in these chips. Of course we'll also have updates on the project's status as things develop.
If there's specific things you'd like me to cover in these updates, please leave a comment.