Version 1 Product Updates
Production-Grade Units & Chinese New Year
• 3 minutes read
Production-Grade Units & Chinese New Year
2014 kicked off with the continuation of our sprint to a Scout ship date. Since our last update, we’ve been working with our manufacturing partner to iron out the final design-for-manufacturing details and get our production schedule ramped up. We’re happy to say that our designs have been given the stamp of approval to move forward towards mass production and, from here on out, the glut of the work will shift from electrical and mechanical engineering work to managing the manufacturing process. Leading up to this update, we’ve been purchasing the parts for our first production-grade unit run with the factory. This first run of units will be small, but serve as a critical part of getting Scout into mass production. Some of the units being produced will be shipped to Scout for internal testing and for putting some early systems out in the field. The other units will stay in Asia and be put through a bevy of testing.
Testing Early Systems
The testing phase of the manufacturing process is an interesting piece of the puzzle. Many of us don’t think about the testing that our devices undergo prior to them arriving to our doorsteps in a usable state. We thought it would be interesting to highlight some of the things the Scout system will be put through testing-wise, before it ends up at your door.
_Circuit Testing: _ Optical testing, such as automated optical inspection (AOI), will determine if the right components are installed in the right location during board population.
Charge and Discharge Testing: This test charges and discharges the Scout backup battery to make sure the capacity lives up to expectations in the event of a power outage.
Electromagnetic Interference Testing (EMI): The Scout boards are locked in an emissions-free room and we measure the emitted radio waves. This also works in reverse. During this test, the Scout PCBs will be bombarded with radio waves and we then measure what has been received by the boards.
_Thermal Testing: _ Thermal testing rapidly cycles the temperature that Scout devices are exposed to, from -20 degrees celsius to 80 degrees celsius, to measure the temperature stress created.
Electrostatic Discharge Testing (ESD): This test is kind of like shuffling your socks across a carpet floor and then electrostatically shocking a family member. We build up a charge and then emulate the Scout boards being shocked. Then, we note the performance of the boards after the shock.
Radio Frequency Testing (RF): In the RF test, we see how strong the Scout RF signal is that is generated, compared to the input frequency.
Antenna Testing: This test verifies the Scout signal strength around the 2.4 Ghz broadcast frequency. This is similar to adjusting the rabbit ears on an older TV to find the optimal arrangement.
This is just the first round of testing. Our internal testing procedures have to be extremely robust leading up to the official tests the units will undergo for FCC, CE and other official compliance testing.
Chinese New Year This week kicked off the Chinese New Year holiday. In many cases, the production facilities in China shut down for 2-3 weeks during the CNY holiday. These few weeks always pose a special challenge in any production schedule. Even if the facility you’re producing at is not shut down, or is shut down for a shorter period of time, there is a good chance that a large number of your component suppliers and other vendors in Asia will be shut down. Our manufacturing partner was incredibly helpful in prepping for our current run of units to ensure that the CNY holiday had almost no impact on our production schedule. We haven’t slept much in January leading up to the holiday, but we’re very happy with the amount of progress we were able to achieve in such a short amount of time.
Next Steps The first production-grade units that are in process should be arriving to Scout headquarters in mid-February. For the week following, the systems will undergo all of the testing procedures that we mentioned above. As we’ve discussed with some of you through our customer service channels, the results of these tests will ultimately determine the ship date. We expect that there will be a few minor tweaks and honing of the device between these first units and the next set. However, with all of the work we’ve done up front, we don’t expect to see any major issues arise. If that is the case, we’ll be announcing ship dates in late February.
We’re looking forward to getting Scout to each and every one of you. Thank you for your patience and we wish you all of the best in 2014!