July 14th, 2011, 00:22 Posted By: wraggster
News via http://boards.openpandora.org/index....-1-2011-07-12/
As you might have read on the boards, Batch 2 will NOT be produced by CircuitCo anymore.
I am currently contacting companies in Germany to get some quotations.
More about that in the next blog entry.
First, I'll try to explain the reasons for that move and summarize everything that happened during
the last few months.
January / February: Production resumes
As you might remember, CircuitCo promised us to finish the full 4000 PCB population until the end of last year, so that we had fully working PCBs and only the new nubs would have to be soldered onto them after that.
That would have been a cool thing, as it would've meant that Batch 1 would've been finished in January / February.
Well, as most of you might know, this hasn't happened.
Then a new guy had been employed by CC. His job was to do quality management and to oversee the Pandora production.
We got weekly status updates at first, which was great!
He analyzed the bottlenecks, all issues, etc.
While the production speed he told us was slower than we had hoped, at least we now knew what was going on, what issues there were to be solved and we got realistic sounding quantity numbers.
This worked well for the next few months. They regularly sent new boards and while quite a few had some issues, we could continue shipping and send back the non-working boards for repairs.
By selling some units as Premium Pandoras, we could cope with the monthly costs we had as well as with any refunds or money needed for RMAs.
May / June: WiFi issues occur
Then, as you might also know, a LOT of boards of a complete batch had WiFi issues.
Production then came to a halt, we sent these boards back to have them fixed and I created four new testing rigs including a new testing SD Card (with notaz' help) which tests almost anything the Pandora can do.
They can also run individual tests, so they can work on a PCB with broken WiFi for example and only run the WiFi test.
June / July: Communication gets worse again
That's when communication and our faith in CC started to break down again.
While at first we got a few quick replies regarding the testing SD Card, we didn't get a status update for weeks, even though we were asking for that once a day.
Two weeks after they got the new testing setup, they started to work on WiFi... 1,5 weeks later they had a problem with one of the tests. I had a bug in the script that prevented one test from working.
But it took CC 1,5 weeks to realize that. It sure felt like they haven't done anything within that time...
What's going on right now with CC?
We are missing about 1000 PCBs from batch 1, and it seems the only ones they have left are boards with issues they need to fix.
Most of these boards had aged bare PCBs. When PCBs are lying around for a year without being populated, they start oxidating - which had happened here. This leads to all kind of issues, as parts don't
solder properly anymore. Well, if they HAD populated the PCBs last year like the promised us they would, this wouldn't have happened...
(Note to fearful Pandora owners: The oxidation no problem if your board is already populated, it won't stop working suddenly. Once the parts are on the board, they have proper contact and won't fail)
Anyways, they agreed to pay for the new parts needed to fix those PCBs with issues.
They also mentioned they will fix 125+ boards per week, we'll see if that will work out. But they told us they will finish Batch 1.
Well, we personally aren't pleased with how CC handled the situation. We were given false promises, they didn't keep any deadlines, the number of boards with issues that need to be fixed before
we can ship them is way too high and communication was really lacking.
This caused our reputation to shrink as well, as we couldn't keep any deadlines either and it seemed we were telling lies and delaying things.
This is what we experienced, maybe we were just unlucky and other companies have no such issues with CC?
Maybe the Pandora was too complicated to build after all?
Some guy on the BeagleBoard mailing list also wrote he's been waiting three weeks for a reply from CC, so it at least seems we're not the only ones.
On thing that is without excuse for us is the lack of communication, the missing status updates as well as the non-kept promises and deadlines.
Issues can ALWAYS occur, but we'd love to know about them, so we can fix them together asap.
As you probably know, the iControlPad is also produced by us. We chose a company in Germany. They didn't miss a single deadline and each time there was an issue or a question, they contacted us right away.
This was a very pleasant experience.
This does mean that Batch 2 will NOT be produced by CircuitCo. We are now looking into various companies within Europe and should have some quotations within a few weeks.
If you know of any company who can do PoP (Package on Package population) and is reliable (some of you might be involved with some electronics company as well), feel free to contact me.
The more quotations we get, the better
This is a HUGE task we're doing here. I've personally taken the task to work on that. It will cost me a lot of time, energy and sleep - but I'm sure, with your help and support, I can do that!
Next blog post (with some more updates Batch 2 production) coming later today.
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