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blink(1) is a small USB light to give you glanceable notice of anything on your computer or the internet.
blink(1) is a small USB light to give you glanceable notice of anything on your computer or the internet.
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2,655 backers pledged $132,317 to help bring this project to life.

Receive all the production samples!

Posted by ThingM (Creator)

Hi everyone,

We have received production-level samples of all components: the electronics, the enclosure pieces, and the packaging.  And they look pretty great.  Here's a couple of pics of them:

But we've been encountered a few frustrating (but not unexpected, apparently) delays.

First up is there was a miscommunication at our electronics assembler and they sent us only sample quantities instead of the full quantity.  And since these are international shipments, it took several days to realize the mistake.  But the electronics we did receive work great, and we have the Fedex tracking number of the full shipment.

Secondly, the enclosure samples we received were close, but not quite there.  CNC milling such a tiny piece has proved a challenge, and we've been working with our fabricator closely to get things right.  Below is an example of some of the back-n-forth we have with some of the firms we deal with.  They send samples. We inspect and test the samples. Then we provide any changes needed.  In this case, the CNC aluminum top had a missing chamfer and had too strong of a bead blast finish causing the part to "shrink" as the beads ate away too much material.  For the bottom injection-molded piece, there wasn't sufficient venting at one point in the mold, leading to a gap.  They had recognized the venting issue before we even asked and had modified the mold to fix it.  

The main issues we wanted to test with the enclosure was: would the electronics fit securely in the enclosure and would the top snap-fit?   Fortunately the enclosure works great so no edits of the design are needed.  Full production continues on the injection-molded part of the enclosure, and we're getting another sample for the top aluminum part. 

On a refreshing note, the packaging samples we received were exactly as we specified and production on them has been progressing as expected.

Because of the delays, we won't be able to ship in October.  And we were so close!   As I talk with other manufacturers, I've learned that enclosure delays related to machining and injection-molding are common and we should have budgeted an extra month of contingency on top of what we already had.  This has been a learning experience for us in that regard and thank you for your patience.  I'm going to be more conservative and say that our updated shipping date will be before Thanksgiving. 

Have a great Halloween! 



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    1. Jamie on

      Not American?
      "Thanksgiving Day is on Thursday, November 22, 2012."
      -Thanks Google! so I guess by not stating a date they mean "end of November".

    2. Magnus Lorentz on

      It would look better completely square instead of the "budget-usb-bt-adapter"-look with a slimmer front part facing the usb connector. Black or white? keep it simple .... ;)

    3. ThingM 2-time creator on

      Hi gadam07,
      We went with a machined aluminum part for two reasons: first, it makes the whole device feel much more substantial and just "nicer". Secondly, the metal acts as a reflector for the LED. And also, we've really been wanting to do something with materials other than plastic for a long time. We tried using bamboo for blink(1) but couldn't find anyone to machine it to our tolerances.

    4. gadam07 on

      @Aymerick Dupouey: I've been astounded by the mistakes made by shops on $10,000 one-off machined parts that they had the 3D models for. Remember never to give humanity too much credit. Persistence is what we're best at.

      I'm curious as to why ThingM went with a machined aluminum back when a molded plastic back would have been cheaper and more functional. That's a complex little machined part! Surely, the ill-placed USB ports on all my computers will have that opaque back facing me so I can't see the light.

    5. William

      Pretty sure there IS supposed to be a hole. Just one in the metal instead of the plastic. My guess is thats a factory mistake, but it could theoretically be their mistake if they didn't clearly enough specify what material the hole was going into.

    6. Aymerick Dupouey on

      William: Of course not, but making a hole where there isn't it's kinda weird for me, having to wait for the creator to notice that too.

    7. Pasha on


      looking great tho!

    8. Brady Forrest

      Nice work guys. Can't wait for mine.

    9. William

      Aymerick: Don't you think that if manufactures could do it 100% everytime first time correct they would? Its not like its free for them to make mistakes. It costs them money. They'd save a ton if they could get it right every time the first time. Many manufactures would jump at the chance to spend money to do that. Then they could start advertising "get it done right the first time" to get more clients.

      The problem is its a hugely complicated issue to get it right. Some issues are the fault of clients, some the fault of the factories. For instance, unless you have a team of experienced engineers working for the client, the client won't always know if something is possible or not to reasonably produce a part in a certain way to a certain spec. Some materials you can't do some things with, some materials its super expensive to do some things with. There's a billion interactions in play.

      So lets say you had a team of world class expert engineers working for the client and the best engineers at the factory working too. That still wouldn't guarantee success the first time because of mistakes or communication issues. Heck, just sending a word file to a co-worker can go wrong, and they have to exchange much more than that. And since its often in other parts of the world, what if someone screws up cm or inches? Doing that has crashed at least one space probe, and blown at least one bridge.

      I appreciate their updates. I like looks inside the process.

    10. Aymerick Dupouey on

      Thanks for the update !
      I'm amazed how it's still possible for manufacturers to not be able to do the modeling right, don't they have the 3D files at their disposal ?

    11. Missing avatar

      Alexandru Rugina on

      Thanks for the updates. Is there any API available yet?

    12. Jason Uechi on

      Agree withe the others -- great update, thank you for the details on what's going right and wrong. Excited to get it!

    13. Paul Williams on

      Thanks so much for the updates.

      It's been interesting to follow you along the journey...

      It is great to see you want to do it right... and always interesting to find out where things don't go as expected... often in odd places.

      Looking forward to getting the final product!



    14. Rob Kubasko on

      Great update and appreciate the thorough and honest report. Not everyone can appreciate how crazy the mass production of any product actually is which makes the really good stuff even more remarkable in the end. Looking forward to the production ones!