There are six major research and development stages which we will describe here to let you know why this project took longer than we expected. Originally we hoped to publish this information after we shipped out the Wave. For people who are interested in technology and project management, use this as the reference for "What should be avoided". However, We got a lot of requests to know details of this long R&D cycle, so we decided to spend some good time to write this up now. This article is not looking to make excuses; we just hope this article will help backers to know the timeline of "Research and Development" of products are not always linear. When you make a decision on which platform you want to build your product, if you find out that you need to change that decision afterward, the previous hours and works are usually 80% in vain - if not more. In order to ship the best quality portable player we have in mind, we sometimes need to make the tough decision to change courses and platform in order to meet our design principles and goals.

Stage 0: Before we launched the Geek Wave campaign in middle of 2014, LH Labs just finished the Geek Out portable DAC project. The initial idea was to build an iPhone/Android phone's back pack that has battery and extremely good headphone output and DAC. "Make your iPhone sound better!"  We tested the prototype with outside users and a lot of people loved it. So we kicked off a new IGG campaign with that. After a few weeks, the campaign didn't take off very well. It became very clear that more people need a Stand-alone portable player rather than a good DAC/headphone on top of the iPhone. So we split the original campaign into two. One campaign remained the original goal that became the Geek Out V2+ (Battery powered DAC/headphone). The other became Geek Wave project.

Stage 1/EP1: We brought a few new members to the team dedicated to Wave project right after the Wave campaign formally kick off. The first platform chosen was a high power micro-controller made by Micron. The advantage of that was that it is highly power efficient, very easy to scale up and nicely known by few key members. We completed the EP1 hardware design of this platform by the end of 2014 according to the schedule. But one major issue became more and more obvious when we developed the software on this hardware platform. Lack of basic operation system support made us spend a lot of software programmers' hours on building up very basic stuff, like file system, WiFi communication, Bluetooth connection, display... So after 3 months of more work on software, it was becoming necessary we needed to pick a new hardware platform.

Stage 2/EP2:  At that time near the middle of 2015, we decided to switch the ARM core CPU based platform. Although the cost is higher, we will have a lot of existing software module we could build on top with. Also Larry decided this in order to accelerate the software design process. We separated the projects into "DAC/Headphone" part and "Pure digital player" part. We could leverage the Geek Source music player's software development into Geek Wave's digital player part. This decision is still valid now. The challenge now becomes how we could develop our software module that is related to audio and combined these into a nice hardware platform. By the end of 2015, we have been successfully test out the DAC/headphone performance in real life.

Stage 3&4/ EP3&EP4: Since we successfully demoed and displayed the Geek Source in Jan. 2016, CES show in Las Vegas, we decided to use the "System On Module" (SOM) design from Geek Source to Wave as well. This will take one or two more iterations, as in sum, but the overall benefit is still worth it. We chose iMX.6 Quad core CPU for Wave, designing the minimized size of PCB from similar architecture from Geek Source. The time here is from Q1 to Q3 of 2016.

Stage 5/EP5 and EP6: In early Q1 of 2017, we completed the features list of Geek Source software which is also a majority part of the Wave digital player as well. We tested these features in Wave platform and found the power requirement of i.MX6 SOM is really too much after we carefully optimized. But with the good SOM architecture, now is not too bad to switch to another ARM Core CPU. So we continue to stabilize the hardware platform and in EP6 the overall is settled in Q2 2017. The next step is to find the component providers including the following important key parts: Screen, Battery, SOM connectors, Capacitive Touch screens. All these are needed to customize to the right size to let all hardware be put into the original designed chassis. So we spent quite some time in Asia for these components and changed some position/designs slightly to fit from July to Aug 2017.

We also spent time and energy picking the good CNC vendor to make sure chassis could be made in the highest quality.  As a side note, in 2015, we tested to use 3D printed chassis for Geek Out DAC series for its best structure of air flow. But it is costly and didn't turn out very well so we switched back to well designed CNC T6061 aluminum. In Wave player, we won't use 3D printed material and will continue the good design experience and prospect from Geek Out 2A and Geek Out 2 Pro.

Stage 6/ RC1: This is the current stage we are now. PCB fabrication is done of Release Candidate 1. And PCBA is scheduled to be done before the end of this month. We will have an updated Gantt Chart for the details in the other article.

Yes. The whole project took several detours of fundamental platform or CPU changing. Also, in order to get the best performance, we didn't compromise to use existing Android systems or leverage some platform designed for Android phones. These are the few key factors that played in schedule delay. If we could go back in time, we definitely will skip few wasted steps and go to the conclusion we have now. Saving time is to save cost. So we truly believe LH Labs' members are just like all backers, we are eager to finish this project without cut corners.

Currently, we have Larry and Matt/Gerber boy working on the final hardware changes if needed. We have Craig and two to work on high level software and user interface. Jessy is in middleware layer and display driver. Lan and his team is on the Operation System level and audio output software optimization. We just recruited another good hardware manufacturer project manager/leader in Asia that will come on board in early Nov. Our production leader, Sandi will work with him hand in hand to make production cycle smooth.

We really want to express our most sincere thanks for you great patience and understanding. We will keep pushing to finish this project. Like the other 13 projects we did before. This one is big and this one is tough. But we will make it.