Production Update

Exciting times, everything is coming together nicely; it seems we’re on the home stretch now!

Last month we received the re-powder coated and silk screened faceplates from American Metal Specialties which did not pass our initial QA (~35% of the order) and now have all the front panels for the run. While the high error rate from the first go was frustrating, we were very impressed with AMS’s commitment to quality and their willingness not only to rectify the errors, but also offer to collaboratively develop a plan for their printers to ensure the next run goes smoothly.

The DATA's production test build

The DATA's production test build

In mid-May we received the final revisions of the DATA’s circuit boards and now we are just about through with testing them; everything fits together beautifully and is working as designed! We were waiting for these boards rather anxiously, as there were a number of design changes. Most critical was the display’s 50 pin connector; mechanical tolerances were tight, but as you can see from the image, everything fits together perfectly, with a new edge profile cut that allows the display’s flexible “tail” to wrap around the front control board and meet with its connector on the rear board. We just finished up testing the SD Card sub-system last week and have just a few more tests to complete with the I/O scaling. At this point we’re fairly certain no further PCB revisions will be required before ordering the production’s panelized boards, which we hope to do by the end of next week.

New display mounting with PCB edge cut

New display mounting with PCB edge cut

We met with Josh and Lars at Darkplace Manufacturing the last week. The meeting was good and it seems there will be no trouble getting the DATA's SMD population completed quickly at their facility. The entire run is estimated to take only a few days to populate with Darkplace’s awesome pick n’ place machine, though it will take a few weeks to get the stencils and PCBs in prior to starting population. We can’t wait to see that machine in action; we’ll try to capture some video to share with you!

One little chip = 4 channels of 16-bit hi-res control voltage goodness

One little chip = 4 channels of 16-bit hi-res control voltage goodness

Lastly, in the previous production update we had mentioned that we did “a bit of feature creeping” on the DATA back in January, which lead to re-visiting the circuitry design, and ultimately to our “extended” production period. We upgraded the power system, added an internal signal routing matrix for run-time calibration, added additional signal scaling, and made a host of other tweaks. But the biggest addition we made was giving the DATA a new digital-to-analog converter (DAC); we replaced the DATA’s original 2 channel 12-bit DAC with a high-end 4 channel 16-bit DAC. So now the DATA is capable of outputting 4 streams of precision CV, or 4 trigger/gate signals, from any of it’s output jacks. We haven’t worked these extras into the current function's code just yet, but as you can imagine, we have plans for all this CV power!

Our reasoning behind these additions was to deliver a better product, with more capability and a longer life cycle (e.i., we don’t plan to make a DATA mk2 anytime soon). We hope you’ll agree it’s worth the extra effort and time.

Production Update

Production of the of DATA is coming along, albeit slowly. A friend who is a veteran embedded systems designer once told us that everything in the world of electronics takes about 5 times longer than expected; I would now have to agree.

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We received the faceplates from our manufacturing partner a few weeks ago. We QA’d each faceplate at the factory and ended up pulling about 35% of them, mostly due to issues with the application of the black graphics (smudging in the DATA lettering at the top and bubbles in the black around the display window). The pulled plates are now being sanded down, re-powder coated and silk screened; we were told they will be ready for pickup next Tuesday. Despite the high rate of error in the order, the faceplates that did pass QA are excellent, improving upon the original test plates. Specifically, the new plates use a more contrasting grey color in the rings around the buffered through outputs, and the alignment of the Mordax logo green and black graphics at the bottom is much improved.

The main hold up though, is PCBs. We couldn’t help ourselves and did a bit of feature creeping back in January, which after the Chinese New Year PCB factory issue in February (noted in our last update), cascaded into a significant delay. After that we ended up needing to do another revision, which we’re hopeful will be the last. We’ll have these boards back soon, then we can test them, and if they are good, move forward with assembly.

We’re a month and a half passed our initial target date now, and while such delays are a fairly common scenario in the tech world (I’m looking at you Elon Musk!), it’s frustrating for everyone involved, especially our supporters. We want to get these out as soon as possible, but even more pressing is our commitment to deliver the best product possible and get it done right. We really appreciate everyone’s patience during our “extended” production period. Thank you!

Production Update

February is almost over! Production of the DATA is progressing, though unfortunately, as is often the case the first time around, it is taking longer than we’d planned…  

Our new target for shipping is by the end of March. When we ship we'll be sending out individual email notifications to those who pre-ordered; shipping will occur sequentially in the order the pre-order reservation was received. Order numbering started at #0100, so if you are order number #0166, your DATA will be the 66th unit produced and sent out.

If your shipping address has changed since you placed your pre-order, please send us a message and let us know. Some folks have already contacted us about this; there’s no need to message again if you already have notified us of your new address or other shipping needs and have made note in our log.

DATA Production - Current Status:

  • We spoke with our faceplate manufacturer yesterday and got an update; all of the faceplates have been laser cut now and the powder coat and silkscreen graphics are pending. The estimated time for completion of these is the first or second week of March.
  • Originally we had planned to mount the display brackets (and boards/standoffs) to the faceplates with rivets, but after doing some more manufacturing research we discovered structural adhesives, which are often used in auto manufacturing in the place of welding for metal/metal and plastic/metal bonds. After acquiring all the application equipment, we CNC'd new brackets and conducted the mount tests last month; it has an amazingly strong bond to the powder coated finish, which passed all of our initial testing, including our thermal extreme stress tests (freeze/oven). 3M claims it’s stronger than steel rivets; we’ll have to do some destructive tests soon to see just how far you can push this stuff.
  • Production PCBs are almost ready! One thing that set us back in our timeline was Chinese New Year, for which our board house (based in Shenzhen) was closed for the majority of February; a good lesson for us, now we know to keep informed on the holidays overseas! Luckily, our manufacturing partner in Portland that is handling the SMD population quoted us 2 days for populating the entire run of boards (their machine can place upwards of 30,000 parts per hour, such a crazy device!). Through-hole population and test/inspection is estimated to take a week or two after that.
  • Most of our specialized parts (display screens, MCUs, etc.) have come in, still waiting on a couple more.

Thank you for your support with the pre-order and for your patience as we work our way through the first round of production; we promise it will be worth the wait  ; )

 

 

DATAx2_in_rack_500-3.jpg
DATA Brains! (ARM MCUs)

DATA Brains! (ARM MCUs)

Display mounting bracket test

Display mounting bracket test

DATA Pre-Order SOLD OUT!

The DATA Pre-Order for the first production run has SOLD OUT! Thank you so much to everyone who ordered! 

If you missed out on the Pre-Order, we'll be doing a second production run later in 2016; to be notified of the next run, please sign up for the Mordax mailing list.

We’re still aiming to be shipping by the end of February. We’ve been working like crazy every day (and night) here at Mordax HQ, testing, coding, ordering parts, and doing final PCBs revisions. Stay tuned for more production updates!

New website & the DATA Pre-Order is now open!

We have been working on this for a good long while now and are happy to finally get to share it wiith you.

The Data is a multi-function eurorack module. It features a 4 channel oscilloscope modeled after our bench scope, two spectral display programs, and a tuner. Beyond its measurement and display capabilities the DATA is also a source of signals, with its dual waveform generator (digital oscillators), clock source/div/mult program, and our latest program the voltage monitor, which in addition to monitoring signals, can also send out gate messages and continuous cv values.

Check out the product page and demo video for more info.