Battlefield demotions

Mike and I have received our battle field demotions to grunt line workers this past week, and they will likely stay in effect all the way up to the week leading up to Christmas in our attempt to get all kits, Kickstarter & Preorders, out the door, to our backers.  

This is a list of the inventory of built and Q/Ced kits on storage shelves, and every kit that goes into a Kossel Pro HBP.  Brainwave Pros show zero qty at the moment because they have to be individually programmed and tested, and Oopsie Bags are being revved to ensure that even if we miscounted screws, there will be enough fasteners to complete the printer.  

ZT-KIT-00132 is our most complicated kit; it's the one box that contains all the parts required to build a Kossel Reprap.  Here we are tracking the subcomponents that makes up -132; we're waiting for Kemcor to deliver the soldered auto probe switch to build more auto probe kits and I'll probably have to take over the lubrication of the rails soon.

As of this moment, all mechanical only kits have been prepped, and we've shipped all the ones that have address confirmation.  (If you have not confirmed your address, please do so.  The email should have came from  We will likely push out a batch of printer kits next Monday or Tuesday, and we should be able to get the balance of the kits out the door shortly after that.  

Temporarily taking over Mike's living room.  Everything on the shelves have been through 100% Q/C inspections.  Ball joints, motors, power supply kits, bed clamps and build tools on the shelves.  250mm Glass Plate kits in the big stack by the fireplace.

To be honest, we were disappointed by the progress and accuracy by some of our kitters.  To fix this, we are throwing all the resources we can muster at the problem.  We have brought on additional kitters.  We now check every sub assembly that's coming in, either by weight against a golden sample on a 50mg resolution weight scale, or visual inspection if the weight deviates more than a certain percentage.  We are now personally kitting every single box that goes out the door to prevent kitting mistakes; we work in batches and we weight each kitted box again on the same precision scale after kitting to ensure that one of the packaging elfs didn't take a mental vacation halfway through the process.  We've paid a local contract manufacturer to get some of the cables crimped, and we personally crimped enough cable sets to hold us over until our contract manufacturer can deliver these cables.  

Stack of HBPs on Mike's staircase.  We've assigned this work over a month ago; Mike ended up taking it back and soldering each and every one of these boards in an afternoon.

Truth be told, we got into this mess by being too personal.  We thought we were helping out our friends financially by giving them the (well paying) work, but as the project leader I should have taken a more active role in managing this.  We got burned as they failed to deliver on a timely manner, and we are now doing everything we humanly can to get this fixed and get kits out the door.  

Anyway, I want to share some more pictures of the progress from last week.

My lovely wife Rachel helping with folding boxes.  3 people are about the max # of people that can work comfortably without stepping over each other.

100% QC, 95% reject.  Of all the kits, the ball joints had the worst issues.  We noted almost 95% reject rate due to the wrong screws being used, and on the kits that were about to go out, 2 out of 5 kits had mislabeled ball joint kits.  We already have to ship a replacement kit to New Zealand...

Mike prepping insulation for the thermistors for the HBP.  When you receive your HBP, look closely at the thermistor.  The legs are individually protected with PTFE insulation, before being soldered to the HBP board.

Working as a mini assembly line, it's quite possible to burn through parts quickly and efficiently.  Crimping 35 sets of cables took Mike and I about an hour or so, with us alternating on crimping and stripping.  And this is with relatively primitive, Chinese made tools and no fixtures.  Of course a shop like Kemcor can do this even faster, with automated stripping machines, but 2 man hour for 105 cables is still no slouch.

AC cables being crimped.  Next to it is our automated tape dispenser.  That machine was part of a very expensive "lesson learned" from our original OpenBeam Kickstarter campaign and paid for itself many, many times over during our current predicament.

By default, I am the Geami-elf, responsible for wrapping parts in its protective paper wrap.   When you pay for bubble wrap, you're paying to transport air.  I wanted a more environmentally friendly way to package our products, and it also worked out well that the Geami wrap is stored and shipped in an un-expanded state, which greatly simplify material handling and storage requirements.  Storage space is always a premium for a startup.  The machine costs $7.00 per month to rent.

Here, Mike is taping and labeling a batch of HBPs.  I have already finished Geami and boxing the HBP with the cable set, and am about to start performing a 100% reinspection of the boxes by weighing them.  At this point we are weighing to see if we forgot a subassembly (such as the cable pack).  If the weight deviates by more than a certain amount, we unseal the box for a visual inspection.

I've always built my fixtures as if I'm the one using them.  Funny, because I ended up using them quite a bit. :-P.  This is the fixture for cutting the bowden feed tube to length. 

From my days as a FIRST robotics mentor, an engineering team, just like an army, operates on its stomach.  Having good food helps with morale.  On a nostalgic note, I used to make a pot of curry like the one shown here when Mike and I first met in college, over a decade ago.  The only difference is I can afford better cuts of meat now in the curry pot. :-)

Having a sense of humor helps too. :-)

That's it for this update!  Thanks for being patient with us, and we look forward to getting the kits into your hands!

-=- Terence, Rachel and Mike

PS:  Here's a reference to ZT-FUD-00101, for those interested.  All our part numbers are in the form of ZT-XXX-NNNNN, where XXX is a 3 letter prefix denoting the part family, followed by a 5 digit number.

PSS:  We have 5 machines left on this batch that we are building for our push out before Christmas, on our Shopstarter page.