Shipping Pre-Orders, Full Launch Now Oct 28
Due to some test fixture issues on the production line (more details below), we had to push out our full launch until next week. We expect to have product in inventory at Amazon by Oct 28, and will launch the Ebay/PayPal store for international customers at the same time. To everyone who has contacted us and signed up for the notification lists - thank you for your support and patience. We're very close!
So - why the delay?
First, a tour of our assembly line. I spent 2 days this week with our contract manufacturer in Tucson, AZ, to make sure the assembly process was running smoothly.
Each panel going down the line (thru the pick & place and reflow machines) contains twenty-four (24) Bad Elf GPS boards.
At the end of the assembly line, each panel is visually inspected and signed off by the machine operator.
From here the boards go to the programming and test station. It's kind of funny, but it takes an old, crusty Windows laptop to program the microprocessor, giving life to an accessory that only works with Apple devices. And it takes 23.1 seconds for each board.
Our goal is to ensure every Bad Elf GPS unit that leaves the factory is in perfect operating condition. To accomplish this, EVERY unit is tested. First, we connect it to an iPod touch to verify the microprocessor, auxiliary chips, and dock connector. After that, it goes into a test fixture, where it stays until it gets a valid GPS lock (validating the microprocessor, GPS receiver, and antenna). If it fails either of these tests, it doesn't ship.
And this brings us to one of the reasons for the delay: our GPS test fixture had some bad traces, which intermittently starting giving us some false-negatives. Combined with a few legitimate failures, it took some time to get things ironed out. Once the fixture was, um, fixed, we ramped production back up.
So, we lost some momentum, but it was for a good cause - testing!
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GPS receiver capabilities range from survey grade (centimeter level accuracy) to consumer grade (~5-meter level accuracy). Of course, this demands a cost-benefit tradeoff ranging from free to prohibitively expensive for most educational institutions. Between these two extremes lies mapping grade GPS, which delivers 1 meter accuracy.