Since our last blog boxes of led-button switches have arrived. As well as the necessary quantity of our signature yellow leds (with separate standoffs that SOMEONE is going to have to slide onto the LED legs), and the little screens that we use for our scope (IPS 240*240 LCD screens, same as used in iPod nano). After months of getting parts directly from factories or parts bought in person in Shenzen, a few final major Mouser, Texas Instruments and DigiKey orders have completed the BOM. The big sourcing is now done! All the parts for the entire production run are at our assembly house. Before we delivered the parts we did a bunch of colour coding so parts correspond to the boards they belong to. All the boards for the first five are also at out our assembly house. With some delays (due to some issues on our end and no time on the line at our assembly house) they should be making the first five this week and we can now plan our BETA phase.
We have re-designed the power board again. We took the power converters from the IO board and moved it onto the interconnect board so it is closer to where it is needed, making all power wires shorter. The length of the wire determines the response speed of the power regulator to any noise on the line, so the shorter the wire the faster noise gets removed. Since we started designing this Fenix, DC/DC converters have massively improved and we have now upgraded the power board to use the latest and greatest of Texas Instruments. With these TI regulators we can now go up to 6 amps if needed, but we are sticking to a ceiling of 4 amps. The Meanwell brick we were using before could only go to 1.2 amps so were pushing it way too hard. Now we have incorporated 3 TI bricks that can take it easy. This was our last issue to be tested & we can now declare GOLDEN PROTOTYPE and get ready for BETA and CE testing.
We also started working on our banana boxes. An adaptor in the style of the FenixIV so you can connect 8 mini jacks to 8 banana plugs. We want to make these available at cost to order along with your FenixIV if you want it to talk to an earlier Fenix – or anything else banana.
We made assembly jigs and created production frames around the boards and we thought there might be a ‘trampoline problem’: that the board bend too much when the machine shoots parts onto it, but it turns out our assembly house has little support beams for this so no worries.
All the headphone connector boards are in and hand-assembled. Check.
We have added a scripting engine in between the scope and the modules. Lauri claims the internal network is stable.
The front panel design has been finalized and we have 5 beautiful fronts waiting.
The cases are almost perfect. When picking up five for our BETAs a little – very professional- tapping was still required to make them perfectly straight. This misalignment is probably caused during their process of welding and our factory is making a new welding jig that is more conductive to symmetry.
We have started to seriously work on the manual. It is going to be very visual and inspired by one of the computer great manuals of the past.
The coming BETA weekend (21-23 August) is our last sanity check of everything and last manufacturing prep – paying special attention to how we are going to put all the Fenixes together as fast as possible. The Fenix II was made with a speed of one per five days, we are aiming at five per one day. And Yes, this is the time AFTER the boards are made in China, parts are shot onto it in the Netherlands, cases and fronts are done. This is the time it takes to do final testing, calibrating and mechanical assembly. We check everything and we close the box (with 334 rings and 100 knobs and some screws).
We are super excited to move into the phase of software improvement, finalizing the feature set and generally making everything go to 11. Parallel to this we can start the manufacturing process. If sanity can be maintained during BETA we will order the boards in China and ship them to our assembly house, let our front panel and case makers know and hopefully have all the insides for 25 Fenixes in house about 8 weeks later.