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Ada is an infinitely expandable camera trigger, making high-speed, camera trap, and timelapse photography affordable for everyone.
Ada is an infinitely expandable camera trigger, making high-speed, camera trap, and timelapse photography affordable for everyone.
Ada is an infinitely expandable camera trigger, making high-speed, camera trap, and timelapse photography affordable for everyone.
1,971 backers pledged £290,386 to help bring this project to life.

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It’s the end of the road. We failed.

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Hello everyone,

This is going to be the backer update that no Kickstarter project wants to send.

Super short version 

  • We have a final working prototype, but it cost five times more to get to this point than we had planned for, and will cost three times more to manufacture per unit than we had hoped. 
  • The upshot of this is that we can’t afford to put Ada into production, and are refunding the remaining Kickstarter funds to our backers as a result.
  • If you are a backer, please see "Refunds" at the bottom of this post - and you'll receive an e-mail with additional instructions. 

Not at all short version 

When we checked in with you guys about five weeks ago, we were celebrating that we had finally completed the software for Ada. Exciting as that was, the subsequent five weeks have been a gauntlet of disappointment. As we were finally ready to place the order with the factory, we realised a few things; Most importantly, that the manufacturing phase of Triggertrap Ada was going to be way more expensive than we expected. In fact, by the time all was said and done, Ada was going to cost three times more to create than we had planned for when we kicked off the project.

In itself, that’s bad enough, but we also spent a lot more money than we had hoped to get to this point. In fact, we spent over five times more on bringing Triggertrap Ada to market than we had budgeted for. Triggertrap’s CEO wrote more in depth about the impacts of how all of this happened earlier today, but the short version is that we can’t afford to put Triggertrap Ada into production. There isn’t enough money left from the Kickstarter project to begin the large-scale manufacturing.

We tried to rescue the project by opening for additional pre-orders (but we achieved only 5% of the number of pre-orders we needed to go to production). We spoke to a small group of investors to raise the money for production, but that didn't go as well as we hoped. Finally, we went to our bank to get a bridge loan for the project, but failed at that, too.

No matter how we twist and turn our current situation, the future of Triggertrap Ada looks very bleak. What it basically boils down to is this: if we try to manufacture Triggertrap Ada, we will fail. 

If Triggertrap were a single-product company, we’d keep fighting to the bitter end with one of two possible outcomes: We’d either deliver Ada to our Kickstarter backers, or die trying. However, Triggertrap isn't a one-trick pony. We have hundreds of thousands of customers who rely on our Triggertrap Mobile product around the world. If we try to get Ada shipped, there's a very large probability that Triggertrap would go out of business. That would mean we wouldn’t just be letting you - our Kickstarter backers - down: It would also mean letting down all our existing customers. We thought about it long and hard, but we could only see one way out: We have to cancel Triggertrap Ada, and instead focus our attention on Triggertrap Mobile.

We know this is disappointing. Making this call has been far from easy, but we don’t see any other way of doing this. That said, we've been in communication with Kickstarter, and we intend to do everything we can to do the right thing and clean up after ourselves as we draw a line under this project.

We’re deeply sorry, ashamed, and heartbroken that we’ve failed to deliver.

Yours,

Team Triggertrap

So, what happens now? 

We got quite far in delivering the product, and failed at the very last hurdle. 

We did promise that we would release our product as open source, and will do so as soon as we can - we’ll make the source code available on our Github repository in the next couple of weeks, and we’ll also make the PCB designs, schematics, and all the other things we've created along the way available as soon as we can.

We are also going to create a ‘hall of fame’ of the people who backed our Kickstarter project. If you want to be included, please ensure you click on the link in the e-mail you received, and fill in the form.

And then, there's refunds. 

Refunds 

We will refund the remainder of the funds from our Kickstarter campaign to our backers. To date, we’ve spent around 80% of the funds we received, and have 20% of the money remaining. 

Breakdown of Kickstarter funds
Breakdown of Kickstarter funds

These remaining funds are what we are distributing back to our Kickstarter backers. 

Options for processing refunds

We spoke to a couple of dozen of you over the past week to get your feedback. You know who you are - thank you so much for your candid feedback and help. 

We were surprised to hear that many of you didn’t see the point in getting a small amount of money back. The feedback we received varied: Some of you preferred we donate what’s left to charity, others wanted the refund to spend in the Triggertrap shop, and others again said something to the effect of “Keep it, I know you guys tried”.

To that end, we will be e-mailing all of you individually (If you haven’t received an e-mail by the end of the day, please contact us on hello@triggertrap.com). In that e-mail, we’ll give you a few options for how to get your refund. The options we are offering are:

  • No refund - We weren’t going to include this as an option, but several of you were quite passionate about this. Whatever the reason, if you’re not bothered about a refund, pick this option.
  • 20% donated to charity - “I pledged so long ago that the money doesn’t really exist to me any more. Why don’t you give it to charity instead?” asked one of our backers. We thought about it, and decided it was an great idea; We’ve picked Photovoice as our charity partner. If you pick this option, we’ll donate the remaining 20% of your pledge to Photovoice, to help them with their mission of running worldwide projects that empower marginalised groups with a voice through photography.
  • 20% refund - If you pick this option, we’ll refund 20% of your pledge to you via Kickstarter’s refund option. It’s a manual process, and it may take up to 90 days before we process everybody’s refunds, but we’ll get through it, and endeavour to get you your money by the end of May.
  • 50% in store credit - Finally, if you would like to spend your money in the Triggertrap shop, we can offer you 50% of your pledge as shop credit.

We are able to offer more as shop credit than as a cash refund, because we can ship you our products at cost price (to us, a 20% cash refund is about the same as a 50% store credit) and it is much easier logistically (i.e. it takes a lot less admin time) to issue store credit than process a manual refund.

How to get in touch

We know you've been really excited about getting your hands on Triggertrap Ada, and that this is terrible news to receive, and we appreciate that many of you may have questions. We're ready to help at hello@triggertrap.com - if you could, please include your backer level in the e-mail, so it's easier to look you up. 

Thank you, and our deepest apologies again. 

Software tweaks and hardware sneak peeks

26 likes

Hello again backers!

A slightly belated happy new year to you all! We’ve got a few bits of good news to start 2015 with.

While the factory prepare tooling plans and circuit board samples, we’ve had some time to improve the software. Our good friend Nick at Arachnid Labs has been hard at work, and mid-way through December sent us an updated software package which improved the battery life in Timelapse mode. After a fortnight of hearing a camera shutter every 15 minutes, we had the results; Nick’s improvements have taken us from a disappointing 40 hours, to over 400 hours on a pair of AAs. This opens up a lot of timelapse possibilities that weren’t there before, and we’re incredibly grateful to Nick for all his hard work.

Ada taking on its new software via an ISP programmer. When it’s in your hands, software will be loaded over USB.
Ada taking on its new software via an ISP programmer. When it’s in your hands, software will be loaded over USB.

The next piece of good news is the Open Source side of things. We’ve had some incredibly useful feedback from backers who are coding wizards, and a recurring complaint was how tricky the code was to navigate around. We’ve had a ReadMe file put together for the code, which explains the purpose of each file, as well as explaining where certain values are stored within the code. Nick has also been hard at work here too, improving the way the project builds to allow for more platforms to easily get to grips with Ada’s code. As we move towards finalising the code, we’re hoping to get the software released before Ada reaches you, to allow for tinkering in anticipation of it’s arrival.

The final piece of good news is a reliability improvement. Our manufacturers in China have spotted an area of slight stress on the circuit board assembly, and have quickly offered a solution which won’t impact on production time, and is likely to speed up assembly time. These little tweaks can make a big difference, and they’re experts in spotting these things before they become a problem.

The unmodified area in question on one of our prototypes. This is where the sensors connect to Ada. You can also see a few areas of hand soldering to improve performance, which will be baked right on to the final PCB.
The unmodified area in question on one of our prototypes. This is where the sensors connect to Ada. You can also see a few areas of hand soldering to improve performance, which will be baked right on to the final PCB.

On another note, something that became very clear at the end of last year was how our communication with you - our awesome backers - was causing some frustrations. We have always tried to stay positive in our updates, and while we’ve been as infuriated by the delays as you, we did our best to keep the mood up in our Kickstarter posts, knowing that what we’re delivering is going to be the best high speed trigger out there. Haje - Triggertrap’s CEO - has written a 4500 word, full disclosure, warts-and-all piece about the good, the bad and the heroes of the Ada project in a piece called "Hardware is Hard" over on Medium.

In the next update, we’ll be taking a closer look at the laser sensor (to round off that little series), as well as letting you guys know the latest manufacturing news.

Rich, and all of Team Triggertrap

Shipping Date Announcement!

17 likes

The news we've all been waiting for.

Hello again backers,

I know we posted an update very recently, but we’ve just had some updated information from our manufacturers, which means we can wonderfully, at long last, announce Triggertrap Ada’s final shipping date. That’s right, folks - it’s a fact: Triggertrap Ada will be shipping in May 2015.

Naturally we’re doing all we can to get your Ada kit in your hands as quickly as we can, but we’re being extra cautious and allowing a bit of extra time in every step. We’ve been working incredibly hard to get Ada manufactured, and while it’s taken longer than we’d planned and hoped, we are finally more than satisfied with Ada and what it’s capable of. Every time we’ve tested Ada’s finalised hardware and software it’s impressed us with its speed and consistency - and we wouldn’t want you to feel anything less.

And now for some photos.

We’re keeping this update very short and sweet, but we thought we’d take this chance to show off a few of our favourite shots from Triggertrap Ada’s latest round of testing. We’re only scratching the surface of what’s possible with some pretty basic lighting techniques, so we can’t wait to see what you guys can produce!

For these shots, we used two high-speed flash units - fast enough to get a sharper BB than we could with a normal speedlight. Using two units let us shoot at a lower ISO than normal, as well as allowing us to stop down the aperture for increased sharpness.

We always practice with less valuable targets first - typically we shoot crayons or chalks, but for the majority of this shoot, we used candy canes. Once we knew where we expected the BB in the frame, we could place the target where we need to for the best shot. In this case, the BB slowed down far less than we thought after impact!

This was a tricky one - we wanted to open up the aperture to get some bokeh on the glitter, but keeping focus as the baubles swayed was pretty tough! To get our timing right, we practiced with a target where the red bauble was set to be. The BB slowed down through the first two baubles, which is why the red one isn’t quite as smashed as we had hoped.

This one was a surprise to all of us, as we expected at least some of the jelly to break off! Our favourite feature with this shot is the size of the tunnel left by the tiny BB - the hole is probably 5 times the width of the BB!

For this shot, we got really close to try and emphasise the bokeh effect of the glitter coming towards the camera. This gave a nice of a 3D effect to the shot. This did have the disadvantage of losing a bit of light - as is typical with macro photography - so we also had to pull the flash units in closer to compensate.

Progress continues!

12 likes

Hello, dear Backers!

We're really motoring along behind the scenes here, and we're getting lots of good news in from the parties involved in making Ada happen! We’ve been taking great strides with our manufacturer to get all the processes locked down, and we’ve been talking to our cable manufacturer to kick off the production of the Interconnect and Mobile connection cables - in signature Triggertrap red, naturally. With all the pieces neatly slotting into place, all signs point to shipping and delivery in Spring 2015.

We do need a bit of help from our backers though - we've a few backers who haven't filled in their Backerkit surveys - so we're extending the deadline until Monday 15th December. This is the last chance to get it sorted, as on Monday we're taking the next big step in getting Ada produced; finalising the numbers to send over to the manufacturer. We can't send the numbers unless we know exactly what people want, so please make sure your order is all up to date. To log in to Backerkit, please click here. If you've lost your BackerKit invite or are unable to log in, you can recover your log in by clicking here.

With Christmas rapidly approaching, Team Triggertrap have been subjected to one too many Michael Bublé Christmas songs in the office, and so felt the need to spread festive cheer all over the studio floor. We left for the studio with two air guns, three high speed flashes, Ada, a sound sensor and a whole galaxy of baubles, smashers, glitters, crackers. Also a bag of sprouts, a pound of jelly, a case of mince pies and two dozen candy canes. You know, the usual.

Smash! Bang! Wallop! What a bauble.
Smash! Bang! Wallop! What a bauble.

Speaking of the sound sensor, let’s take a closer look at what it’s all about, shall we? First things first: the sound sensor is fast. Really fast. We’ve been testing with an air rifle which fires at around 500fps - or 340mph if you prefer - and with Ada set with no delay the flash was firing before the pellet had even left the barrel. We fine tuned the delay to get it just right, and after a few microsecond adjustments, we found the sweet spot.

Not quite… nearly… blast off!
Not quite… nearly… blast off!

The sound sensor sensitivity is controlled via a dial on the back of the unit, so you can get your threshold to the perfect point to trigger. We talk quite a bit when setting up shots as we adjust the subject, background and lighting; using the sensitivity adjustment we set up the sound sensor to only listen for loud noises - saving the flash from firing until we wanted it to.

Ssssh! Can you hear something?
Ssssh! Can you hear something?

We're also very pleased to now be in a position to open for pre-orders in the next few days, a great second chance for anyone who missed out on Kickstarter kits. If you know anyone who’d like to get their hands on one, point them here to sign up for our Ada newsletter. The pre-orders are for an Ada baseblock with all four sensors, and we’re going to offer them with a tasty discount off the retail price - so they need to get them while they’re hot!

Finally, Christmas came early for Ada's Project Manager, Rich - a devoted lover of all things Peli. Entrusted with our precious prototypes to transport around, Rich has gotten his hands on a dangerously orange Peli 1170. With the cables stashed behind the top foam - which is held up with Velcro - it’s the perfect carry case for Ada and a full set of sensors. Check it out:

Subtlety isn’t really our strong point.
Subtlety isn’t really our strong point.

We’d like to thank our friends at Simulacra studio in London for once again allowing us to come in and make one heck of a mess! Top guys, and a great space too.

We’ll be posting a Christmas update on the 23rd which will be full of info about production progress, and a deeper look at the laser sensor. We look forward to seeing you then!

Backerkit lockdown approaching!

12 likes

Hello, dear backers!

This is it then, we’re getting ready to enter production! Our manufacturers have Ada in their hands and are preparing to tool up, and while that work is underway we have a two week window for you guys to nail down exactly what you’d like to include in your kit. Will it be an extra laser sensor? A sneaky PIR sensor? Going to get shouty and need a sound sensor? Treat yourself - it’s nearly Christmas, after all. Login to Backerkit, and make sure your order is up to date.

If you’re moving in the next few months, please make sure your address in Backerkit is somewhere your Ada kit will definitely reach you. The cut-off date for making changes to your address and add-ons is the 12th December (and that’s when we’ll be putting out our next update, too), so please remember to check and update your contact info today.

Ada under an umbrella. Umbrellada.
Ada under an umbrella. Umbrellada.

Another big step has happened in the last fortnight, with the software for Ada having passed all of its testing. We’ve got one or two tricks up our sleeve for software improvements, but at this point any changes to software won’t impact delivery times, allowing us to get out our code microscope without fear of delaying Ada’s arrival into your hands.

Rich, taking a rather elaborate selfie with every sensor active at once. We fear he needs to get out more.
Rich, taking a rather elaborate selfie with every sensor active at once. We fear he needs to get out more.

This update, we’re also going to have a little chat about our PIR sensor. PIR - which stands for Passive Infrared - is a motion based sensor, and a brilliant way of creating a wildlife camera trap. As the sensor relies on invisible infrared light, it’s perfect during night or day to capture photographs of animals in the wild, or as a sneaky trap at home to find out who is stealing the last Oreo (other delicious, dunkable cookies are available).

Nothing gets past this guy.
Nothing gets past this guy.

The PIR sensor is a bit different to our other sensors, it doesn’t have an adjustment dial on the back, because it reacts to changes rather than working off an established baseline. This allows a scene to shift and change subtly, without causing the camera to fire endlessly - perfect for long duration camera traps. With a wide angle of view lens on the front, the PIR sensor is a great addition to any wildlife photographer’s toolkit.

An uncomplicated piece of kit, the PIR sensor is incredibly useful.
An uncomplicated piece of kit, the PIR sensor is incredibly useful.

That’s it from us for this update, don’t forget to check your address and options in BackerKit, and we’ll be back on the 12th December with another update.