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.
Can I just start this update by voicing what is on everybody's lips?
Okay, thanks. It had to be said.
This morning, I woke up to the most beautiful e-mail I have ever received: Confirmation from our manufacturers that manufacturing is going well, and that we have a shipping date! Specifically:
The assured date we could start to ship out TriggerTrap will be May 8th. The TT- shield we’re still preparing the sample board to validate. Meanwhile, the components are in preparing. If the validation is going well, it will also be ready to ship on May 10th or so.
How. Bloody Exciting.
What happens now?
We realise that a lot of you might have moved house, or you may have swapped cameras in the meantime. We’d rather not send you the wrong cable, and we’d definitely not want to send your Triggertrap to the wrong address.
To ensure we've got all the right information, I’ll send out an e-mail to everybody who has ordered a Triggertrap, confirming the details we have on file for you.
When you get the e-mail, please double-check the info: If anything is wrong, let us know, and we’ll make it right before we ship your Triggertrap.
While you are waiting
- Join the Triggertrap Photography Pool on Flickr - and when you get the device, please do share some of your results there!
- If you are of the hacking kind, grab the Triggertrap source code from Github.
- Check out the Triggertrap manual on the Triggertrap website.
A big thank you
Thank you so much for your patience, everybody. It has taken a lot longer than we had hoped, but we're finally there. It feels amazing. And we can't wait to start sending you your Triggertraps.
We also have a great surprise in store for you all, but sssh, don't tell anyone; that's a topic for our next update...
Hey guys! One of the things we promised you as part of our Kickstarter campaign was that the Triggertrap would be an open-source project. So far, we've been tinkering away in the background, but here's a tidbit of news that will send your little geek hearts racing (well... We were excited, anyway): We're releasing the source code today!
We've just posted a blog post with a little bit more information on the Triggertrap site, but if you can't be doing with such distractions and you just want to get your hands dirty, get your Github on, and ask any questions you have on Get Satisfaction.
What about the shipping date of the Triggertraps?
There’s been an additional delay in the LCDs we’ve been waiting for for aaages, but as far as we know, that isn’t causing a change to our estimated shipping date for now - I'm doing a lot of shouting at suppliers in China to find out exactly what the delay is, and when we can expect to get it resolved, but for now, we're still working on the assumption that we'll start shipping both the Triggertraps and the Triggertrap Shield kits in April as planned – but of course, as always we’ll keep you posted.
PS: After the Triggertraps start shipping, there probably won't be any more updates from us via Kickstarter. Instead, we've created a mailing list for those of you who want to be kept up to speed: It even has a fancy sign-up form.