We're wrapping up the last bits of manufacturing, we've started to work on testing, and we're wrapping up everything we need to start shipping! First a note on the testing. We want to make sure we ship a quality product, so we're committed to testing every single electronics board before it goes in a Dash kit. To that end we're building a programming and testing jig, and we've also written test code that will allow us to evaluate boards. Here's the test code in action:
Unfortunately, we're currently struggling to find a rapid and reliable way to program 1000 electronics boards. As a Dash owner you can just use a USB cable, but for that to work we have to seed the board with code, put on through very small pins. There are two main pieces that need to be programmed, the microcontroller (Dash's brain) and the Bluetooth radio. To do this we need to align 16 small pins very precisely, all simultaneously. You can see the pads at the bottom of the board:
They're the larger gold pads near the middle of the board. To make contact with these pins, we've built a jig to hold the board in place. This jig also allows us to connect USB ports, motors, batteries etc. and test everything it will have to do "in the field."
This 3D printed jig is still a work in progress, as the alignment demands are very high. We've ordered smaller contact pins, and are going to try some new methods of locating the holes for better precision.
Another thing that has proved tougher than anticipating is packaging design, and just sourcing everything in time for our projected ship date. We've designed an instruction leaflet, a way to protect the chassis, and much more over the past few weeks. We want the packages to be a bit of a surprise, so we won't show them here, but all of our supplies are coming in next week and hopefully robots will be rolling out the door soon after.
Manufacturing is still ongoing, but wrapping up quickly. We've been told the electronics are finished and we'll be picking them up from our contract manufacturer early this week. The chassis are all cut out and ready to go. The final remaining pieces are cables to connect the battery and motors to the board, which are being done by a subcontractor, and our powertrain. We've competed the first run of the powertrain, and are working on more every day.
256 transmission housings, fresh out of the 3D printer.
78 nearly assembled transmissions. We're still waiting to get our motors, equipped with cables, back from the subcontractor.
All in all, we're getting very, very close to shipping and progress has been good. Robots are coming soon!