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$10/meter, ~$1.00 per joint, 100% off-the-shelf fasteners.  By eliminating specialty screws, you get the best bang for the buck!
$10/meter, ~$1.00 per joint, 100% off-the-shelf fasteners. By eliminating specialty screws, you get the best bang for the buck!
534 backers pledged $100,825 to help bring this project to life.

OpenBeam - Status Update

Hello Kickstarter backers, 

My apologies for the long delay between updates. We've been making more regular updates over on, but as the project has not been officially wrapped up (and it won't be, until every backer receives their reward or a refund had been issued) I figured I should come here and issue an update.

A few things:

If you've ordered a construction kit:

1) All except two US orders have shipped out. Of the two remaining, one is waiting on moving and an address change - the other one someone who had pledged $65, but not select a reward or answer any emails with regards to shipping information request. If that matches your description, please shoot me an email. Your order is on my loading dock awaiting a Fedex waybill.

2) All international orders *should* have shipped out at this point; by now you should at least have a tracking number or notification email. If you have not, please contact me. Note that if you're Germany or the UK, customs had been... taking quite an interest in our packages. For our EU customers, we have RoHS declaration forms now if anyone needs them. Please note that some of you have been contacted with regards to international shipping surcharges. If you don't answer (and work with me on fixing it), I can't ship you your reward. Sorry.

3) For Seattle area backers - your orders are still at Metrix. This is because these were kitted up before any of the Fedex drop testing took place, and these orders are NOT packaged to Fedex shipping standards. I cannot ship them until I take them back and repack each and every one of them. I'll eventually do this, but as of right now, by efforts are focused on the trebuchet kits, which have proved to be a challenge. My preference at this point would be to deliver the kits personally before I deal with repackaging the orders at Metrix.

4) Trebuchet reward backers - The trebuchets have been a little bit more difficult than anticipated. Backers who had been to the Seattle Maker Faire might remember a contraption used for launching candy at kids. Technically speaking - that is a ballistae / catapult, that uses stored mechanical energy in a spring to launch the projectile. A trebuchet uses the mechanical energy in a stored counterweight, and a unique sling arrangement to provide additional mechanical advantage for launching the projectile. Turns out the sling (specifically, getting the sling to release correctly) involves a bit of engineering.

The great news is as of 2:30am, we've finally gotten a repeatable sling release mechanism worked out, out of laser cut baltic birch. The somewhat bad news is that at 2:30am there isn't enough light for the high speed camera. I have a camera footage of the sling working and releasing, but it looks like Apollo-era moon landing video after I ran it through my video editing software. I'll reshoot the video later this week.

There is still one more round of design for manufacturing (DFM) and design for assembly (DFA) tweaks required. I hope to complete that this week as well and start kitting the trebuchet kits up for shipment towards the end of next week. (There is also assembly instruction required).

For now, I'll bow down to our medieval era weapons engineer for coming up with such an elegant design. That design totally kicked my butt for a while *and* highlights a golden rule for a hardware kickstarter: If you want to deliver ontime, make sure you build a prototype first.

5) We *are* doing the Trebuchet kits correctly, in the sense that we've been working with the fine folks at MicroRAX and setting up the infrastructure to handle custom length cutting. We have modified the MicroRAX AutoSAW to cut both MicroRAX and OpenBeam, and I've been programming the MicroRAX saw to do standardized length cuts for OpenBeam. This means that pretty soon, you will be able to buy OpenBeam in both a precut construction kit (which would be MUCH more reasonable to ship overseas) and precut individual pieces from the OpenBeam Webstore. Eventually we will offer custom cut-to-length service this way as well.

6) Finally, we'd like to welcome as our first international dealer! Canadians, you will be able to enjoy better shipping rates from Solarbotics than from our webstore. So, please show them your support by buying from them. :-)

Finally, if you're a camera phone user, please consider supporting my friend Mike Carney's Kickstarter project, Clearshot. I carried their prototype at MakerFaire Bay Area and it really does work as advertised.

I am off for a few days mountain biking in Whistler, BC - I've pretty much been working 60-80 hour weeks (holding down a day job *while* doing OpenBeam pretty much full time as well), so I'm off to recharge my batteries for a bit.  Email access may be ... problematic while I'm gone.  I'll be back stateside late Wednesday night and will return to kick some butt on OpenBeam.  We have a few more exciting development in the works and I'll update the team when I get back, so stay tuned... :-)

-=- Terence, Rachel and the furry monster puppy


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