I ordered parts for 100 units on Monday and submitted a purchase order with a contract manufacturer in Florida to do the work. Half the parts have already arrived. The production waits until the final parts arrive though. In this case we have parts coming from Japan, China, and Germany in addition to those coming from on shore distributors. The parts from Germany are heavy (the screw down terminals) so they are coming by ship. They leave the harbor tomorrow. I suspect we will have everything in hand within 3 weeks.
I pulled what will be among the last prototypes I make out of the mold this afternoon. It is the first I’ve made with the new insulation between the terminals. I am pleased with it. This innovation is thanks to reader feedback. I want to thank you guys for the help.
June 17, 2014 in 8 Channel PDU
As requested by you guys, I’ve added separators between the outputs to prevent accidental short circuits there. It looks pretty good to me.
Because the factory production samples were unusable, I ordered some new PCBs yesterday and will be hand building up some new Motobrains for this case next week. The factory that failed is considering rebuilding the samples on their nickel. They are in China and I therefore have little recourse other than my future business. If they can actually deliver I would be excited though because their pricing is good. I’ve also requested another factory to build some for me in case the first one decides to cut and run with my money after the first failure. I should have some volume of samples in the not to distant future one way or the other. As soon as I have evidence that someone other than myself can build them I will be ordering 100 units which will be going out to early adopters and market mavens who will be testing the product for me.
June 11, 2014 in 8 Channel PDU
The samples that arrived on Monday are trash. The photos of them look okay but upon closer inspection they appear to have been made by incompetents who don’t give a hoot. That is to say that not only is the skilled labor done poorly but so is the work that only requires attention to detail. A waste of time and money. No one ever said building a global supply chain was easy!
June 9, 2014 in 8 Channel PDU
The production samples arrived. They look pretty good though I am not certain they were actually built on machine as I expected. The factory building these samples by hand tells me nothing about the quality of their machine assembly which was the entire purpose of this exercise. That is a bit of a disappointment but not the end of the world. I’ll begin testing them this week. Finger’s crossed.
I also got the new mold master which has insulating tabs integrated into the design to protect from incidental short circuits. I expect to have 5 new Motobrains ready in short order for testing.
June 3, 2014 in 8 Channel PDU
Production samples of Motobrain boards from a fabricator in Asia are shipping in the next few hours. I’ve already received PCBs samples of the heavy duty power boards from a couple of suppliers in Asia as well and they are getting close. Some are great but too expensive, some are the “right” price but are missing on the quality side of things. I am still working those details out but suffice to say, things are progressing nicely. I’ll post a report on how the boards turned out when they arrive at the lab.
May 20, 2014 in 8 Channel PDU
The Chinese assembly house was delayed by a part shortage and they will not ship the assembled Motobrain boards for another 2 weeks or so. Likewise the Taiwanese PCB fabricator faced a delay and those boards will not ship for another 3 days. I did receive some sample boards from a Japanese fabricator and holy cow, they are truly top notch! They may not look like much, but they are heavy, thick, sturdy.
Lastly, I’ve made excellent progress on the Android app for Motobrain. Verizon updated my phone last week and I can now use the Motobrain app with my phone which is pretty cool.
April 24, 2014 in 8 Channel PDU
I’ve been busy working on the supply chain for parts and manufacturing. I’ve been party to countless calls and emails with vendors all over the globe. Things are progressing but it is slow going. While my intention is to have these manufactured in the USA, I’ve found that it is pretty darn unaffordable to do in small quantities. I thought I would start out having a local CM (contract manufacturer) build me 100 units to test out all the process and get me some product to start shipping to prospective customers. The numbers I was getting were pretty unrealistic for that small quantity so I bit the bullet and asked a Chinese vendor to assemble the 100 sample boards for me. I should have samples of those within 4 weeks with the rest coming a few weeks later. I am optimistic but recognize that much can go wrong. Assuming they are good, I’ll do the casting myself to start. The casting is pretty time consuming and tedious though, even for the CMs. I have some guys looking into an automated over mold injection rig for casting Motobrain. I think in volume that will be more affordable. I’m working out the ROI on that now.
I have a guy working on figuring out if it is possible to get a “Made in the USA” mark. The chips on the board come from all over the world and I cannot really affect that. I would very much like to have that on my product but it may not be possible. I should know that in a few weeks.
In other news, I spent the last few hours playing with my Android compiler. I already have got some rather basic communication happening. I think Android will be reasonably painless to implement. Unfortunately Verizon isn’t updating my phone so it won’t be compatible. I’m going to need a new phone to take advantage of this for my personal Motobrain installs. In practice it has not been a big annoyance to only fart around with the Motobrain in my garage where I have my iPad available to interface with it. Still, it would be nice to be able to play with it while on the road so I can take advantage of the telemetry in case I need to solve some kind of electrical problem roadside. Motobrain is really valuable there because it is like having a multimeter built into your vehicle which reports directly to you phone.
Finally, the new automated test jig in is the mail. With it, I should be able to test all 100 of those Motobrain boards coming from China in a couple hours.