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The Electron is an Arduino-like cellular development kit with a SIM card and affordable data plan from the creators of the Spark Core.
The Electron is an Arduino-like cellular development kit with a SIM card and affordable data plan from the creators of the Spark Core.
The Electron is an Arduino-like cellular development kit with a SIM card and affordable data plan from the creators of the Spark Core.
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5,564 backers pledged $578,478 to help bring this project to life.

Manufacturing Part 1 and Updated Shipping Date

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Hello friends,

Happy New Year! We hope that your 2015 ended on a high note and that you're ready to cellula-brate 2016 with Particle and the Electron!

Now that January is upon us, delivery is in sight. As you know, we've already locked down survey responses early to make sure our fulfillment center is fully prepped for the imminent outpouring of backer rewards. If you have any questions regarding your order you can always visit our support portal to get quick answers or to get in touch with us directly. 

Slightly Updated Timeline

Our estimated delivery timeline has been set back by two weeks due to an issue with our PCB (printed circuit board) supplier. If you already own a Photon, you may have noticed that they don't look like most PCBs--we take great pride in the design and production quality of our boards. However, sourcing high quality PCBs with high resolution printing in custom colors is easy to ask for and hard to deliver, and our supplier recently reported lower than desirable yields on our production PCBs.

We worked with the supplier and made some concessions to improve their yield, but they were largely unwilling to negotiate with Chinese New Year quickly approaching. In order to achieve the same high-resolution silkscreen as the Photon, we would have had to resource PCB manufacturers and delay production until after the Chinese New Year holiday in March. No one wants that, so we've decided to move forward with PCB production for the Electron according to standard cosmetic PCB specifications. Although our first run of Electrons won't feature cyan-colored printing, this last minute issue only slowed us down a couple of weeks as a result, and we were able to avoid a much longer delay.

This small timeline change is reflected below - instead of manufacturing beginning December 15 it began on January 4. You'll also see we've broken out manufacturing into two sections, which we'll describe in greater detail later in this update.

Complete: Pilot Run

We reached a hugely important milestone in December when we manufactured a pilot run of 100 Electrons with our contract manufacturer in Shenzhen. Pilot units are fundamentally different from manually assembled prototypes because they use production materials, equipment, and assembly procedures. Pilot runs like this one are extremely important in new product development because they help you and your contract manufacturer discover hidden issues with your manufacturing process. With a successful pilot under our belts, we're much more confident that mass production of over twenty thousand Electrons will go off without a hitch later this month.

The GPIOs of an Electron from our pilot run are tested by a Particle engineer
The GPIOs of an Electron from our pilot run are tested by a Particle engineer

In Progress: Manufacturing Part 1 - Test Fixtures

Two of the most important steps in the Electron manufacturing process are PCB testing and programming. After the PCBs are fully populated, each Electron is given a thorough electrical and functional inspection, then flashed with firmware and provisioned with access to the Particle Cloud. The machine that facilitates these testing and programming steps is a fully customized test fixture built in house by Particle engineers. The testing team has been working on these machines for months now, and all of the materials to assemble the fixtures have arrived in Shenzhen. Our manufacturing team (Will, Eric, Wilton, and Faye) is currently in the process of assembling them, and will bring all twenty fixtures to our contract manufacturer in preparation for mass production later this week.

Eric and the manufacturing team assemble testing fixture motherboards
Eric and the manufacturing team assemble testing fixture motherboards

The entire testing and programming process takes about 90 seconds, and we check every single IO pin, USB connector, battery connector, LED, SIM card slot, and on board peripheral. Additionally, we also verify the RF transmission characteristics of the cellular modem to make sure that every unboxed Electron is ready to sing sweet wireless music to your neighborhood cell tower.

Next Up: Manufacturing Part 2 - Production

The fun is about to begin! We are t-minus one week until thousands of Electrons and Electron kits start rolling off the assembly line! Well, they don't roll per se. We try to stop them before they literally roll. It's more of a "finishing on the line and being gently placed into packaging" kind of thing.

Through this process, hundreds of thousands of parts in boxes and reels all over our factory will be combined with heat and metal in just the right ways to give life to tens of thousands of cyan-breathing development kits destined for backers all over the globe. It's an amazing display to witness, so we'll make sure to leave our cameras on.

And we're not going to bowl your Electrons, promise.

May the Particle be with You

We hope that many of you have already experienced the joy that is the new Star Wars film! If you're like us, your imagination started spinning a million miles an hour (rpm?) after viewing the new film, and we hope you'll contribute some of the ideas you dream up to our ongoing Star Wars contact on Hackster. Project submissions are open and we've got some pretty amazing prizes for the contest winners including a PS4, brand new laptop, and everyone's favorite remote control BB-8. Click here to submit your ideas. The project submission deadline has been extended to February 11, 2016 at 11:59 PM PT.

See You Soon

We'll be back soon with pictures and updates straight from our assembly line in China. As always, we're grateful for your support and confidence in us. We're really excited about the way the Electron is coming together and can't wait to get it into your hands. Please stay in touch with us here on Twitter, Facebook, Github, and our community site, and visit our new support portal with any questions.

With love,

The Particle Team

middleca, Konstantin Taletskiy, and 7 more people like this update.

Comments

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    1. Missing avatar

      Lou M. on

      Great update. Thanks for making the tough call for delivery time over color / identity. I'm perfectly happy to be able to play in the now, and purchase color coordinated Electrons to match my other particle devices in the future. Happy New Year!

    2. Spark IO 3-time creator on

      @Bjorn thanks so much for the support!!

      @Andrey We've got some specs up already at https://github.com/spark/electron and we're in process on official datasheets and docs. Should be up soon!

      @Jack Project updates are indeed sent via Kickstarter, thanks to Rick and Andrey for weighing in here.

      @jack sorry that you feel that way - as Rick and Andrey mentioned these updates are sent via Kickstarter

    3. Rick on

      @Jack.

      Umm. Why are you complaining to the Particle team about this? It's a Kickstarter notification email sent when a project updates, sent by Kickstarter.

      It's the same for every Kickstarter project. And the same for the prior 16 updates. And every other project here. Complain to Kickstarter about their update emails, not Particle.

      Worth noting that emails I've gotten direct from Particle have come from a real address. Might want to apologize to Particle for ranting at them for no reason, too...

    4. Andrey Vyrodov on

      @Jack Rickard All emails for all project are sent from no-reply at kickstarter. Including updates.

    5. Andrey Vyrodov on

      Are you going to publish documentation and specs before sending hardware?

    6. Missing avatar

      Jack Rickard on

      This comment has been removed by Kickstarter.

    7. Missing avatar

      Jack Rickard on

      It sounds like a pretty bad miss with a pretty e-mail face on it. But you've shown your true colors. A DONOTREPLY e-mail. We have adopted an absolutely militant policy - for Internet newbies of the WORST sort of dilitante who don't know enough to stay off the network if they cannot observe good etiquette, or at least in this case basic human decency, sending messages from DO NOT REPLY e-mail addresses is the rudest most abusive thing anyone could do on the Internet. You shouldn't even be ON hte internet with that "one way" attitude.

      Loved the idea. Signed up early for five boards. But you've just blown yourself out of the water with this amateurish arrogance. The I know you thinnk the Internet is here to fulfill YOUR needs and to hell with everybody else, but that's not precisely why we built it.

      SHAME ON YOU.

    8. Missing avatar

      deleted on

      This user's account has been deleted.