Another Triggertrap v1 delay
I can’t believe I’m here again with yet another blown deadline. It’s bloody embarrassing, is what it is, and I’m absolutely gutted that today is not going to be the shipping date for Triggertrap v1 as promised.
This time, we’ve been scammed by one of our suppliers.
Even though the Triggertrap casings were delivered to Seeed (the people who are manufacturing the Triggertrap v1) back in February, they only checked a few of the casings, and subsequently only counted the rest. Once they saw all the casings were there, the boxes went back into the warehouse, in order to be pulled back out once the PCB assemblies were going to get mounted inside the casings.
When they started doing that last week, however, it turned out that we had a really embarrassing problem indeed: The PCBs didn’t fit into the casings.
Of course, I immediately thought it was our own fault; Had we somehow made a mistake in the CAD design? Was there a problem with the PCBs? Did we somehow fail to account for something? We went over everything one more time, but it simply didn’t make any sense: We’ve already built a total of 5 prototypes using these casings – so how could something be wrong? It turns out the answer is simple: Not all casings are the same.
The problem is here; as you can see, the inner width of the casing is 65mm. The width of our PCBs are 64mm in our CAD drawings. That gives a whole millimeter, right?
As it turns out, our acrylic manufacturer didn’t quite deliver what we had asked for, and for many of the casings, the distance A is much lower than distance B – in some cases, the difference is over 1.25mm – which means that not only does it differ from the drawing by nearly 2%, the PCBs won’t fit into the casings, and the casings have to be discarded.
We immediately contacted the manufacturer of our enclosures, but didn’t get a reply. When Seeed Studios gave them a call, the response they received was that they refused to create additional casings, and wouldn’t even consider trying to rectify the situation.
I’ve been e-mailing them since the 28th of April, switching to daily reminders that I’m still waiting for an answer this past week, but they have only given me one reply so far:
The acrylic enclosures are curved by heat bending, there are a little bounce when acrylic cools down, the normal tolerance is ±1mm. you didn’t note the tolerance for the width, so we produce as we could. The two samples I sent to you, the “A” and “B” are different too. Our equipment could not keep A and B exact same size.
Of course, there was no mention of normal tolerance, any form of apology, or any sort of suggestion that they’d be willing to help sort out the problem.
And then, they stopped answering their phones or replying to e-mail.
And so, in the wonderful world of Chinese manufacturing, we walked into a trap: Because the manufacturers demand full payment up front, and because realistically, we have no legal comeback – there are no lawyers I could involve, there is no police I could call, and it’s too far to go there on my motorbike myself and confront them – we’ve been had.
And not just 'had' as in innocent prank; we've been had to the tune of US$4,500. That's right - nearly 7% of the money we received from our Kickstarter campaign, lost to a company that didn't deliver.
The factory have gone through all the enclosures and measured them by hand (!). It turns out that by matching PCBs that are slightly narrower to the widest of the enclosures, about half of them are useable; but measuring all the PCBs and acrylic enclosures took up a lot of time (it took 2 people working full-time 4 days to measure and QC all the enclosures)
We are working to find a new supplier that can help us have another round of enclosures made, or whether it's possible to heat-bend the enclosures into the right shape again (I don't know enough about working with acrylic to know whether this is even viable).
I’ve been walking around the flat like a helpless little ragebunny all week, but there’s nothing I can do to change the fact that yes, there’s going to be yet another delay to the Triggertrap v1 and Shield.
I’m really sorry.
When is the Triggertrap v1 shipping, then?
I’m not going to give a new estimate for when we will ship the Triggertrap v1 – hard-earned experience dictates that even if I relay the new estimates from the factory, we just don’t know whether there will be another surprise that pops up and bites us.
The next thing you guys will hear from us about Triggertrap v1 and Shield shipping dates, is when the devices are in their envelopes with addresses on the front, ready to ship.