I hope you all had a good, long Memorial Day weekend. Or if you’re not in the US, a regular good, long weekend.
We hit a big milestone since last update, and we’ve got some things to show you. And a few more to-dos for ourselves.
First parts off production tooling
Last update we showed you a photo of the first plastic parts out of the mold. We didn’t get them in our hands directly, as those were T0 parts, made from the in-progress tooling to make sure the basic design was being correctly molded. Once that was confirmed, the painstaking work of carving the details and surface finishes into the tooling began.
Now we have handsome T1 parts in hand to inspect. These are production-quality: the colors and graphics aren’t applied yet, but they should be otherwise physically identical to what you’re getting. So we were excited to get a package of samples from our manufacturing partner to run them through tests.
The parts came out well, and the fit between parts is overall very good, though some tweaks will be needed to dial in the fit. The magnets do an admirable job holding Range Dial onto a surface, but the clips that hold them in are too small, so they rattle.
The knob has the opposite problem—the clips holding the top case on are creating friction that makes rotating the knob difficult. In addition, the knob shaft was designed to fit precisely in the potentiometer that measures the angle it’s been turned to, but the potentiometer manufacturer’s given dimensions were off by 10 thousands of an inch, and that means a tight fit. This prevents the top of the dial from smoothly clicking down as a button.
At this point, we’re working in thousandths of an inch. In most of these cases, we just need to shave a tiny amount off the existing tool. The cavity for the knob shaft is unfortunately not tool-safe (meaning, material has to be added to the tool to make it smaller), so it’ll have to be cut out and replaced for the part to get a smaller shaft. But overall, no out-of-the-ordinary adjustments.
Here’s what we had hoped would be the final PCB. It’s close, but we had a miscommunication and the buzzer ended up on the wrong side, so that it doesn’t fit in the case. Embarrassing, but that’s why you double- and triple-check everything.
On the other hand, we found a buzzer that’s significantly louder, which is always helpful to cut through a noisy household when dinner’s ready. Rude but effective:
Schedule and risks
I mentioned in a previous update that the custom-order potentiometer at the heart of the knob was delayed by the factory, and we were looking for an alternative to avoid that impact on our schedule. Our partners managed to find a close substitute, and gave us samples along with our plastic parts last week. We’re still vetting it, but after the discussion of part fit above, you can understand why we’re hesitant to replace a critical part midstream. The new part is not identical, which could create new issues and new delays. In product development, you’re always calculating the risks, and I don’t think it’s worth switching parts given the information I have now.
The reason we brought Range Dial to you here on Kickstarter is that it wasn’t ready to just ship to stores, and we needed your help to get it through production. That meant that there was the chance for some things to go wrong, and they have. But they’ve been common challenges like supplier delays and tooling adjustments, with the result that we’ll ship later.
We’re pushing for August now. We’re making steady progress, and the silver lining is that we have more time to polish the rest of Range Dial, such as the software. While we had hoped to ship in time for the start of grilling season, we should still be able to ship by the end of it. Thanks for your patience—our primary goal remains giving you the best possible cooking thermometer we (or anyone else) can make.
Upgrade for original Range owners
Some of you correctly reminded me that you wanted to take advantage of the upgrade offer for original Ranges even if you didn’t get the Dial Only reward level.
If you haven’t paid the US$8/Range upgrade fee as part of your Kickstarter pledge, you can do so here. After you do this, respond to the order confirmation email with photos of the Ranges you’ll be upgrading, so we know what to expect. If you can't remember whether you already paid, message us and we'll figure it out.
As I'm posting this, I just got a delivery of new probe samples made to our spec. Combined with the latest changes to the circuit board, we're excited to be able to verify a new level of temperature accuracy, and sharing it with you in the next update. In the meantime, you can see in-progress photos on Instagram and Twitter. Back to work!