After a lot of communication with backers, we've decided to use a mixture of bullet list and narrative to show the current progress and issues we need to resolve. Our three major milestones will be listed here with the current estimation date as well.
While we are finalizing the RC1 (Release Candidate for Production version) hardware, we are working closely with the following component vendors to make sure their customization on size/features will fit in our specifications. The list of customized components are long. But let's bring up two with photos.
(1) HD LED screen and Capacitive Touch Panel
(2) Low Profile SOM connector here. You can also see the Geek Wave RC1 PCB board here. (The color is white)
(3) Battery: We have two different sizes: 3100mAH and 4500mAH. Both can fit in the Wave chassis
(4) The new USB-C connector
(5) The RC1 PCB Fabrication is done too.
Currently, we just received the customized components so our PCBA factory will start the assembly SMT soldering process on Sep. 28 and run through the pin to pin connectivity test on Oct 5. Then we should receive it and update the assembled PCBA photos here. These new boards will be sent to our R&D center for hardware DC test first, then we'll send to software teams so they could work on software testing.
The remaining to-dos/issues
(1) Software -- Need to make sure m.2 interface accessibility and optimize for read speed
(2) Software -- WiFi protocol driver optimization and long connection time needs to be stablized
(3) Software -- Display driver optimization for smooth scrolling and album art displaying
(4) Software -- USB OTG mode and USB hard drive speed optimization
(5) Software -- Playback module in DSD128 and DSD256 mode optimization
(6) Software -- Enable the SPDIF output on combo connector (feature not done yet)
(7) Hardware/Software -- Battery charging and discharging time test and optimization
(8) Hardware/Software -- Bluetooth music playback stability and mode switching
(9) Hardware -- THD test and analog output wattage test
All of Oct. and early Nov. will be dedicated to these software and hardware optimizations and debugging (if we can find any new bugs). After the PCB is ready, we will see the new RC1 chassis coming in. We will do the integration test again, and that time we should be able remove the 5 conflict points we found in the last round.
Sidebar notes: The chassis conflict points are the ones we need to fix in middle of Oct to early Nov. PCB needs to be done first, then chassis design around that. So the time frame is long because a lot of things we can not do parallel. You need to have customized connector/battery/screen first. This allows you to solder these connectors to PCB. After you solder the PCBA, you can confirm the functionality. Then the 3D model is needed to confirm that we can finalize the chassis. Hardware and software sometimes can be parallel. But hardware alone, especially for tight space portable device, really needs more working hours.
To estimate the time more accurately, and make it clear, we think using milestones with dates that should be best. Two major milestones are there so we are able to finish up the whole R&D process.
(A) All the hardware issues and optimization need to be done. Our target date for that is second week of Nov.
(B) Seven software related issues need to be solved. To catch up the time, we have three dedicated leads working on that. One for application level (player, settings, menu...etc), one for the middle layer (display driver, file access speed..etc) and one for the operation system level. (This part is almost ready since we leverage Geek Source's software part quite a lot here)
After (A) and (B) are done, we will formally enter the production pilot run milestone.
As we wrote in the Asia trip update, the number one challenge of our production phase is "how to meet vendor's Minimum Orders" and how to let their delivery time meet our schedule. The cold hard fact is, we simply don't have enough orders to make our production a priority in their factories. They work with us, they like us, they give us time and resources (obviously we pay them), but it's completely on their terms. They dictate when they work on our gear. They make big runs for big companies first, then when those are done, and they have spare time, they work on ours. This is an on-going issue, and we are trying to overcome this handicap. It's simply due to the size of our company and our order numbers. We hope our backers understand we are working every day on finishing these campaigns, but sometimes we are hobbled by manufacturing economics. We will work with these key vendors again in USA and Asia around the time (A) and (B) finishing up. We do appreciate their effort and allowances they make for our company. We do have a very good relationship with them, but it is simply economics that sometimes create production struggles.
(C) Pilot Run Production
Like Geek Source, we will have the first 10 pilot run production Geek Wave. Current plan is to make 3 different models (Wave 64, Wave X128 and Wave XD256) with the most popular configurations. Then we'll send out for the beta test.
By a lot of good suggestions from backers who also have software development experience, we are making this update more frequently (current plan is bi-weekly) and show the status in good time and good faith. And after we finish the (A), (B) and (C), the shipping schedule will be much more accurate because all the issues will be found before that.
Which brings us to the shipping schedule issue. We have had many many requests for a shipping date. Based on our past history with delays and promising shipping time frames, we feel it's not fair to our backers to promise something we may not be able to deliver. We hope everyone understands this and appreciates the fact we're seriously re-evaluating our previous "over-promise" / "under-deliver" history. We won't speculate on shipping dates, and we won't announce them until we have them drilled down for a realistic, hard fact, or as near a hard fact as we can possibly get.
However, we will continue to keep you informed as to the progress, bi-weekly, so you can get a sense of how close we actually are. The good thing about this Asia trip is that due to Larry's constant business push and close relationship with vendors, the closer we get to production, and the quicker they provide us updates. This means more information flow and updates for you and we hope to deliver on that in an exciting, meaningful way. We will continue updating you piece by piece, block by block, month by month. We will make solid, continual progress on both the projects and the updates, and we hope good things and confidence in us come because of it.
Next update will include the photos of RC1 PCB Assembly results! [barring any production issues]
Thank you for the support and suggestions and please let us know your thoughts on our efforts.