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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Housing mold and first production parts

On Wednesday I went to inspect the first production parts of the housing. I got a chance to take a few pictures of the production mold (see photo above). It's quite interesting to see how injection molded parts are made. The top and bottom of the picture show the housing bottom and top imprints on one side of the mold and the center circle is the feeding tube for the ABS plastic.

The manufacturer made about 25 sample parts for me to inspect and it looks like the housings came out very well. A few minor touch-ups on the mold itself are needed to perfect things a bit, but overall the parts already look very good (see picture below; you can click on it to zoom in a bit; due to the lighting condition of the photo, the zoom-in looks a little grainy). The eventual parts will be a matt over-all finish with a shiny imprint of the logos, just like the back of your iPhone.

I took five iGPS360 module boards with me to make sure all of them would fit the housings. Guess what.... all of them fit in perfectly so luckily no changes are required for PCB placement. I guess the time on housing design was well spent!

What else has been going on?

I have been working on getting the online shopping cart ready so you will be able to place your order pretty soon. You will be able to make payment through PayPal either with a PayPal account, or if you don't have a PayPal account, the PayPal site will give you the option to directly pay with your credit/debit card.

Regarding the iGPS360 module itself, the GPS engines are shipping next week and the tuned antennas the week thereafter. The PCB boards are expected back September 23 after which I will do verification testing before committing them to the reflow process which is scheduled for September 25. The assembled boards are expected back on October 8 so no change in ETA :)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Production schedule update

It's been a little while and things have been busy streamlining the production effort. It was quite an experience to see how much continuous interaction is required with suppliers and vendors to keep things going at a steady pace and to get them to meet deadlines.

Here is an update on the status of various items:

  • Housing:
    The mold making is in full progress. The first production samples are due in the week of September 15 (next week).

  • USB cable
    The first 100pcs are expected on September 10 (tomorrow) and the remaining ones by October 10.

  • Bi-color LED
    Estimated time of arrival for the LED is September 15 (next week).

  • GPS engine
    The GPS engine will be delivered early in the week of September 22.

  • Antenna
    The antenna tuning process has been completed and we are now waiting for a committed ship date for the production units. A test report is expected back within the next few days.

  • PCB boards
    Yesterday, a purchase order was placed for the production PCB boards and board assembly. The PCB panels are due back by September 23.

  • PCB board assembly
    The start of assembly of the PCB boards is scheduled for September 25.

  • Estimated arrival of the first GPS modules
    We are expecting the first assembled GPS modules back on October 8.

In the meantime, I wanted to see how much interest there is for one or more additional USB cables from your site. Every module will ship with one micro USB cable included, but for myself I have found it handy to have a few cables around: one for the car, one that is attached to the computer and one that is plugged into the Apple AC charger. These USB cables are 6ft long and thus a lot more convenient than the short Apple sync cables which are barely 4ft.

As the lead-time on these cables is fairly long (9-11 weeks), I would like to see how many people are interested in one or more additional USB cables and possibly get things started off early. Each additional cable will cost $4.50. If there is a lot of interest, I can get the price down to $4.00.

Note: we are talking about a micro-USB cable here (not a regular mini-USB). One side of the cable is a standard USB-A plug for the charger/computer, the other side a micro USB-B plug for the module.

I have placed another poll in the left column where you can voice your opinion. Also feel free to post additional comments.