A lot of progress has been made on all fronts since my last update... so I'm going to give you a rundown of each area of production.
The process of making the timer can be divided into producing the plastics for the body, fabricating the electronics components, and writing the software.
One factory in Southern China is serving as the hub of electronics production and assembly, while another a bit further North is taking care of producing the plastics. Meanwhile, a developer in the US has been writing the software to run on the devices, and will be carrying that through final production.
Most of the focus, and progress, has come in the plastics production so far. As I described in my last update about the clips, those have been refined for added structural integrity. Now the CAD for the molds was also finalized and sent to me for review.
Honestly, they were way more complicated than I thought they would be, but it's also fascinating to see exactly how the pieces of steel come together to produce the parts, then open up to prepare for the next part coming in.
You can check out videos of me walking through the CAD files over on Instagram...
We reached the milestone of approval to start producing the molds... but then I was informed that the factory had to shut down because of COVID restrictions in the region. This doesn't have anything to do with the iPhone issues where there was also something going on with unpaid bonuses... or some of the other demonstrations about a fire that broke out. It's just one of the various rolling shutdowns that China is currently experiencing.
I'm not going to do a deep dive into the political situation, but for now, things are on pause with the plastics production. That said, we're poised to move straight into mold production as soon as the restrictions are lifted.
Now for the good news! The main hub of manufacturing is still open and they've also reached a major milestone... samples of the assembled electronics are complete and will be shipped to me for validation. Once it's approved, production will begin so all of the internals will be ready to be put into the enclosures for final assembly and testing.
The developer got the software to a stopping point, essentially feature complete, while we await the physical samples of the electronics to complete final testing.
The main thing we've been focusing on is the interaction and display of the charging status. In the very first iterations of the timer, there was a separate charging LED that showed through on the base. Like traditional indicators, it would show red until charged and then turn green. But you couldn't really see it well unless you picked up the timer and it wasn't very granular. So instead, we switched it to use one of the light rings on the timer itself.
Then I thought... why not use the number of rings to show the charge level? So that's the direction we went in, and they light up as it becomes more charged until all of the rings are lit. But we made it so you can still exit this charging display mode and use the timer while charging. And whenever you plug in or unplug the timer, it'll briefly show you the current charge level. This will be one of the things we do more testing on once we have the actual electronics in hand.
All of this is well and good, but you may be wondering... what's the schedule look like?! Well, it's too soon to tell whether the plastics delay will impact things. It's obviously not ideal that the plastics factory is closed at the moment but they've laid a lot of the groundwork for production so far and I've been impressed with their work. As you can see, each of these elements are interdependent and any one of them could become the long pole. I'm hopeful that by the time the software is finalized and electronics are produced, the plastic parts will be ready for them to go into. But it'll depend partly on how many iterations all of the elements take to get everything right.
Overall I'm optimistic about the path and am looking forward to getting the electronics samples in hand. Thanks for your patience and support!