Updates from Kickstarter Campaign

Posted on June 07, 2013 by Jesse Szynal

Update #26 

VoloMod: It's Coming!!

Module Backers,

Hope you haven't lost faith in us.  We're proud to present the first production sample off the line!

VoloMod Uses Motorcycle's Existing Signal Lights
VoloMod Uses Motorcycle's Existing Signal Lights

Faizal is expecting 10 units by the end of this week or early next.  As soon as he checks the design and signs off on the performance, we have a total of 500 units on their way over from Hong Kong.  We should be ready to fill all orders 4-5 weeks from sign-off.  Again, we are doing everything we can to expedite this delivery while being responsible with production.

For comparison between Vololights and VoloMod products, we suggest you check out our support article here.

NOTE: The first VOLOMod units will not work on motorcycles running CANBus, so your option would be the license plate version.  In the future, we are looking to add CANBus functionality to the modular unit.  This will take a significant amount of engineering, however.

Preorders for both products are still open on the E-Store.

Safe riding out there!

Team Vololights

     

    Update #25 VoloMod/Vololights/Support Center/Instruction Manual

     

    Folks,

    We see a light at the end of the tunnel!  True to form, we are making sure we get you the products you backed as quickly as possible while still being responsible with the development. Here's the latest:

    VoloMod

    Latest rendition of VoloMod with improved water resistance
    Latest rendition of VoloMod with improved water resistance

     

    Rounded PCB improves ingress and water resistance
    Rounded PCB improves ingress and water resistance

     

         

     

    • We tested the production prototypes and required some changes at the end of last month. When asked to spin the boards up for pre-production, an older board image was used mistakenly and cost us about 4 weeks of a delay (Hong Kong origin)
    • The next 10 units are ordered and expedited.  They should be here in the next 1-2 weeks and we will qualify without delay.  Once qualified, 500 units will be purchased for Kickstarter and Vololights.com fulfillment as well as the open market.  This is looking like 6/1 delivery but we assure you, every chance to expedite will be taken.
    • We improved the shape of the board to improve ingress and increase the water resistance of the part.  There's some rough conditions out there where our backers ride and we want to make sure we're ready.

    Vololights Backordered

    • Due to an unexpected onslaught of online sales, we are currently out of stock on all products.  50 faceplates arrived today and will be used to fill about 35 orders (electronics are the limiting factor)
    • Orders will be filled tomorrow from the longest on the wait list; we apologize in advance if you do not make this round.  The good news is...
    • 500 more units are on order and we hope to get them out of the assembly house by 5/20 or sooner.  This will completely satisfy all backorders and future orders.  Trust us, we want to get these out ASAP as riding season is now upon us!

    New Online Support Center

     

    Online support center streamlines customer issues, questions and troubleshooting
    Online support center streamlines customer issues, questions and troubleshooting

     

     

    • We created a destination to find answers to commonly asked questions, troubleshooting tips, and a place to post comments and feedback
    • Improved Ticket/Case system through Zendesk helps us track issues and respond to questions much quicker than email alone.  Every question through the Contact Us form automatically generates a ticket and processes through a more organized workflow on our end.

    Instruction Manual

    We heard you on the manual!  Check out the newly designed, step-by-step instructions we just wrapped up.  While the video is great to watch for an overview of the process, there's nothing better than having printed instructions on the ready.

    In case you were wondering, the tall, dark and handsome character was modeled in Faizal's likeness.  Well, he's tall in Malaysia.

    Ride safe out there!

     

    Page 1 of new installation manual
    Page 1 of new installation manual

     

    Page 2 of instruction manual.
    Page 2 of instruction manual.

     

     

     

    Update #24 

    Over Voltage Issue Solved! - Backers Discover Solution!!

    1 comment 
     8 likes

    Collaborators,

    We've thanked you a thousand times and we're about to make it 1001.

    For two weeks we had an unknown problem causing upper board circuit traces to burn out. We had a total of 7 affected customers and we originally thought it was over voltage coming from specific motorcycles.

    Faizal flew to Seattle Friday to meet with our 3rd engineer Randy and Bruce Pickett, an early adopter that had issues with his Goldwing.  Bruce was quite the host and allowed us to use his garage and to check his Goldwing voltage with an oscilloscope.  Turned out to be a clean power at 14 VDC, definitely an acceptable range.  HIs replacement Vololights appeared to be working fine.

    Bruce Pickett's Goldwing
    Bruce Pickett's Goldwing

    We reached out to others in the voltage test group; two customers (Mike and Anthony) reported the replacement parts were working.  At the same, Carl and Brian Youngblood informed us the second units failed.  This had us scratching our heads for a bit.

    It was then Brian noticed something interesting and gave us the gold we were looking for.  The flat ribbon cable heading into the top circuit board showed exposed contacts even after they were coated in sealant during assembly.  This was consistent with the sharp edges of the license plate cutting through the sealant and then shorting the circuit traces on the top board.

    Brian Youngblood Discovers Issue
    Brian Youngblood Discovers Issue

    Faizal checked Brian's first failed unit and the same issue appeared.  PROBLEM SOLVED!

    We let Bruce know of the problem and he notched his plate to eliminate any chances the license plate would vibrate and cut the sealant off the ribbon cable connections. He also put some extra sealant (liquid electrical tape) on the contacts.

    Bruce's Modified License Plate Reduces Friction
    Bruce's Modified License Plate Reduces Friction

    RESOLUTION:

    Long Term - We will be making modifications to future products to protect both contact areas of the ribbon cable.

    Short Term - We recommend putting a strip of fiber glass tape on the top edge of your license plate that is close to this area of the ribbon cable.  The bottom ribbon cable contacts are already protected.  Duct tape or electrical tape will work temporarily but long term vibrations could wear through and give us the same problem.

    Once we source our own fiberglass tape, we will have this available for free on ourwebstore for all backers.

    CONCLUSION

    In short we were focused on the circuit board and the problem was something much simpler! We couldn't have done this without the help of some patient backers who are in this development alongside us.  

    Big thanks to all 7 testers involved and the supportive community we've built through Kickstarter.  Special thanks for hosting us, Bruce - and Brian, you're the man!


       

       

      Update #23 

      Over Voltage Protection + Module PCB Delivery

      6 comments 
       6 likes

      Safe Riders,

      Good news.  We've assembled 7 over voltage protection devices (MOV's) that will plug inline between the license plate frame and 12 VDC power.  Vectolabs will be testing these with our customers who experienced a 'blown trace' on the upper circuit board.

      Once we prove the design, we'll be ordering enough kits to cover every one of our backers and WE'VE COME TO OUR SENSES!  These kits will be sent at no cost to you.  What were we thinking?!  Thanks to those who pointed out the error in our ways.  After the prototypes prove in the field, we think we can get the assembled units shipped by month's end.  Disclaimer: These are ROUGH.  Faizal is proving the concept but his industrial design skills are, well, you be the judge.  The production units will be much cleaner!

      ROUGH Over Voltage Assembly
      ROUGH Over Voltage Assembly

      MODULE NEWS

      These are coming also. Check out the PCB beta units making their way to our lab.  Faizal expects these to arrive from Hong Kong on Saturday.  He'll be putting these through the ringer and testing all weekend and early next week.  Pending no issues, we'll be ordering the production assemblies and have inventory to ship 4 weeks out.

      Beta PCB for Vololights Module
      Beta PCB for Vololights Module


      We realize we're behind schedule on these since a late October estimation, but we made the conscience decision to frustrate our backers with late product rather than sub-par product. Hopefully, you all agree it was the right choice.  

      As always, we welcome all of your comments - from harsh rants to motivational quips and everything in between.  We can take it and we love hearing from you.

      Sincerely, 

      Your dedicated Vectolabs Team


        Update #22 

        Vololights Overvoltage Issue Found - PLEASE REVIEW BEFORE INSTALLATION

        8 comments 
         4 likes

        To Our Early Adopters,

        Seems we've found ourselves an issue with the upper circuit board that is affecting <1% of the units we shipped out but worthy of your immediate attention. While the percentage is low, we do not know how many customers have attempted to install the device during the winter months.

        Summary: Vololights is designed for 12VDC but able to take an input DC voltage range between 9V and a maximum of 15V. In certain instances, we're finding evidence of surge voltages on some returns. These surges are very short in duration but have enough energy to damage the board by burning out a trace. In layman's terms (think what Faizal has to translate for his sales/mkt guy), this is the equivalent of that filament in your light bulb burning out and needing replacement.

        Symptoms: 

        • Affected units may show the Vololights' license plate illumination LED's as operable on power up but the unit will not respond to the calibration magnet over the bottom left brake lens. Any attempt to calibrate or switch modes yields nothing, even after a power cycle and 15 second pause. 
        • Affected unit does nothing and will not power up at all, including the onboard license plate illumination 
        Burned Trace Shows Copper Color With Voltage >15V
        Burned Trace Shows Copper Color With Voltage >15V

        Motorcycles In Question: 

        • A failure has occurred on a Zero Motorcyle (electric). 
        • Harley Davidson, not Jesse's 
        • 2007 Kawasaki Ninja 650

        Short Term Fix: 

        Unless you have an oscilloscope, you're not likely to find evidence of voltage surge until it's too late. We're working on a fix and will announce it shortly. If you haven't installed it on your motorcycle, we're requesting that you wait a week until we come up with the fix. If you recently had a failure and we replaced it, please hold off installing the replacement. 

        Vectolabs' Action Plan 

        We will be making a recommendation for a specific inline over voltage protection device in a follow-up email within the week. This protection will be in the neighborhood of $2-7 and will be connected between your power source and Vololights. All Kickstarter backers and early adopters before 2/20/2014 will receive the kit free of charge but we're asking for shipping and handling to help us bear the cost- we're still on ramen noodle budget. We'll be sending this info shortly.  

        In future products, we will be specifying an additional over voltage protection device working alongside the on-board PCB over voltage protection. This will increase the cost of the unit but will be prewired into the assembly. 

        Conclusion: 

        We tested Vololights at length on 5 different motorcycles and never experienced any of these failures, plus we designed the product to meet standard specifications of a majority of today's motorcycles. Since Vectolabs constantly seeks to perfect this innovative product, we want to make Vololights completely bullet proof for all future installations.

        Please do not hesitate to reach out with any additional questions, and ride safe.

         

        Update #20

        Learning Curve, Shipping Issue, Module Plastics

        1 comment 
         4 likes

        Well folks, 

        We're not out of the gate yet. Our plan was to assemble about 10% of the license plate units by hand in California to our Kickstarter backers. This way Faizal and I could personally check the quality of components, tolerance levels, functionality, and record the assembly process in order to move it south of the border. Once the assembly house received the parts, the turnaround time was going to be a week for the remainder of the license plate frame units.

        Well, we wouldn't have titled this update "Learning Curve" if we didn't have an issue. The first 10% assemblies had great components, almost 100% yield and were built and shipped successfully. Then we inadvertently sent 11 cartons of parts down to Tecate directly to the assembly house address instead of their customs broker in California. Some of you might be scratching your heads as to how we made this mistake but it wasn't properly communicated, and it just went over our heads. 12 hours later we caught the mistake and worked feverishly with the USPS to intercept the boxes before they hit Mexico. This interception was only successful on one of the 11 cartons we sent. We are still trying to track the remaining 10 boxes but not having much success. The assembly house tells us the boxes could be hung in customs for 2-3 weeks before getting bounced back to California. This will give us yet another delay that we were hoping not to have during the holiday season. Vectolabs will keep you all updated on this information as soon as we hear, and we are already placing an order for 2000 more components to build the next production units.

        We apologize for the considerable delays since our initial forecasts but again, we'd rather get you great product late instead of mediocre product on time.  Also, we're still working to improve our logistics and can assure you this mistake will not be made again.

        With regards to the module, this is progressing nicely. The plastic renderings and artwork are looking sharp and are almost ready for mold and manufacture. The process here will involve a complete solution from product to packaging so delays should be minimized.

        Team Vololights

        Latest Revision of the Module Design
        Latest Revision of the Module Design

          Update #18

          License Plate ~2 Week Shipments! Photos, Surveys Sent

          4 comments 
          4 likes

          Folks, 

          it's been a long time coming.  We know you've all been waiting patiently and the moment is here for the license plate versions of Vololights to ship. We have all the parts and will be dropping them off at our assembly house on Monday.  Shipments to you are expected in the next two weeks.

          For those super anxious backers that just cannot wait, there is one option to pick up sooner.  Vectolabs is exhibiting this weekend at the Long Beach Motorcycle Show and we have a few units hand assembled by Faizal, Jesse, and Jesse's expert solderer neighbor, Steve.  We slaved over these things until all hours of the night in Jesse's garage and had lot of time to bond with each other in the process.  All these units have been thoroughly tested and are performing beautifully.

          Precision is Faizal's middle name
          Precision is Faizal's middle name
          Our assembly house will not look like this.
          Our assembly house will not look like this.
          Don't bother Steve once he's in the zone
          Don't bother Steve once he's in the zone
          Jesse swears that's his girlfriend's Elmo cup.
          Jesse swears that's his girlfriend's Elmo cup.

          If you can make it by the show, please come say hello to us in booth #463.  Faizal and I would love to meet you, hear your feedback, and we'll give you a 4 minute open mic to tell us how frustrating it was to wait!  For those of you who can't make it, you can call us at any time with feedback (contact info listed on all of our web sites) and feel free to speak your mind.  Also, you'll be getting the first units assembled by our certified shop. 

          In all seriousness though,  Vectolabs wanted to deliver a product that performed as advertised.  The noise filtering was the biggest challenge to overcome on the firmware design but we documented the success here in our last two videos: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXYD9kbCMASHe22MsmekhrQ

          Starting to look like a real company
          Starting to look like a real company


          Module backers, we haven't forgotten about you.  The images of the plastic box design are just around the corner and will be ordered soon.  The filtering algorithms will closely match the frame versions so there should be no issues wrapping them up sooner.

          Thanks again out there for standing by us, and please, ride safe.

          Team Vololights.    


            Update #17

            GREAT NEWS! Video Update, Production Samples & Delivery

            8 comments 
            9 likes

            Guys and Gals, 

            You all have been through the trenches with us, in good times and in bad.  When we had plastic issues, you stood by.  While we sorted out our filtering, you were there for us with encouragement.

            Now we have some great news to report.  Faizal, Sterling (our test rider) and I spent the day yesterday on our production samples of Vololights to fine tune the trigger points and noise filtering.

            We were close to finalizing the product but we hadn't checked the firmware on multiple motorcycles with different riding styles.  We're confident after yesterday that we have exactly the product we advertised and working on both sports bikes (Aprilia + CBR) and cruisers (HD Road King)!!

            Check out the video and see, we're catching our trigger points over normal braking, rolling off the throttle, downshifting, and emergency braking.  It is important to note that some bikes slow faster than others and some riders are more aggressive so they might hit the trigger points more than a conservative rider.  That said, we tuned it yesterday for conservative riding on 3 styles of motorcycles and we're extremely satisfied with the results.  We think you will be too!  

            Side note #1, the ribbon cable on the HD is a bit long because it was purchased from DigiKey. The production cable is cut to length with no slack. Side note #2, we're low on money so we couldn't hire the same video team again, our apologies, we did what we could:)

            By the way, how sick does the carbon fiber look??

            Production Samples + Carbon Fiber
            Production Samples + Carbon Fiber

            As far as production goes, everything has been ordered and will be assembled over the next two weeks.  We think we can get 250 of the first backer products out by the end of 1st week in December, then the remaining by the end of the second week.  You will see surveys coming from us shortly.

            Thanks for sticking by us, and ride safe out there!

            -The Vololights Team


              Update #16

              Best Backers on Kickstarter! Free Module Contest!!

              20 comments 
              17 likes

              It takes a village...

              Folks,

              We might have the best backers on Kickstarter!   Do you realize how much you've all helped to shape the product today? Some people talk about 'community'; you all put it into action.  Let's count the ways your recommendations inspired us to enhance motorcycle visibility and improve Vololights: 

              • Backers voiced concern about weather resistance- we totally re-designed the PCB and LED housing
              PCB and LED Upgrade
              PCB and LED Upgrade
              • Backers said the LED wasn't bright enough- Vectolabs made it brighter
              • Concerns regarding the light flashing would attract unwanted attention from law enforcement in certain jurisdictions- we created stealth mode and named it after our backer (S-mode)
              • Our international friends wanted in on the action but their license plates were all different dimensions.  We began development on the module to negate this issue (see update at bottom).
              Vololights Module Coming Soon
              Vololights Module Coming Soon
              • Backers were worried the LED would come too often - we added a glitch filter and spent hundreds of hours fine tuning the advanced filter.
              • Right down to the marketing, backers voted for their favorite retail box design to help us select the winner!
              Winning Crowdspring Entry
              Winning Crowdspring Entry

              FREE MODULE, NAMING CONTEST

              While we're on this active participation roll, why not up the ante?  We're holding a contest that will run through 10/18/13.  All you have to do is name the module to win a module.  A biased panel of judges (Faizal and Jesse) will somehow come to a consensus by 10/21 on the best name for the modular version of this product which you will be seeing updates on soon.

              Couple Notes:

              • We'd like to tie in the Vololights branding, similar to say, iPad Mini.  One suggestion was Vololights IS for 'inside.'  A family member offered this so I feel compelled to mention it.   We will not play favorites, and she will not win the prize!
              • Try to highlight a feature or even better, a benefit if possible.
              • A backer, facebook, twitter, or emailed fan WILL receive the prize regardless of whether we use the name.  We'll decide on the best one of the group and send out the module when it is in production (est. late November).  Runner up will get a t-shirt style of your choice, and we can send this immediately following the contest.
              • All entries must be submitted as comments in Kickstarter, this way you will all know who came up with the name first.
              • If you come up with something not including 'Vololights', throw it out there, you never know!

              As always, thanks for your participation!

              Module Update

              • Schematic complete
              • Board Layout complete (See blurred image below)
              • Plastic "Black box" Design nearing completion
              • Backer fulfillment estimated mid-late November
              Blurred Image of Vololight Module
              Blurred Image of Vololight Module

              -Team Vololights 


                Update #15

                Engineering Update, Package Sleeve Design

                2 comments 
                16 likes

                In sickness and in health...

                Dear Kickstarters backers, are you still at our back??  We hope so. We're continuing to plug along with our engineering but you'll remember we ran into some delays from the last update.  There was the issue with the dimples in the mold and the thickness of the board was too thick to fit under the plastic water cover,

                Unfortunately, this set us back about a month so the first 200 units leaving here will occur closer to 2nd week of November.

                That's the bad news.  The good news is, we are getting the latest prototype (below) on Friday.  We're told the issues were worked out with the mold but we need a visual test before we order the production units.

                Latest Prototype Arrives Friday
                Latest Prototype Arrives Friday


                More good news, the boards look good and we'll have those production units by end of October.  The FW appears to be filtering properly and now we're just refining the code to ensure efficiency.

                Board is Production Ready
                Board is Production Ready



                Packaging

                Vololights completed a Crowdspring contest for sleeve design of our retail packaging.  If you want to see the proposals and cast your vote, please do!  We'd appreciate your feedback.

                http://crowdspring.co/177Z7qh

                Vote on Your Favorite Package Designs
                Vote on Your Favorite Package Designs

                We are doing everything we can to make up time since we're behind - and we're losing plenty of sleep over the delays.  While we hate making out backers wait, we know you'd rather have a better product later than a lesser one on time.

                Please feel free to contact us with any questions.

                -Vololights Team  


                  Update #14

                  Minor Engineering Issues, Slight Delay

                  6 comments 

                  Anxious Backers,

                  Do you want the good news or slightly bad news?  Ok, bad news first.

                  We received the first set of plastics off the new tool and it's looking good outside of three minor issues:

                  • The tab that holds the PCB board in place on the raised water tight platform is off by 1.3 mm in thickness preventing the board from fitting cleanly underneath. This is keeping the lens from snapping down securely.
                  • We noticed a few cosmetic imperfections that need to be addressed on the front cover e.g., a dimple on the front left of the bottom lens.  We are working through this with our tooling company and should have new samples soon.
                  • The lens color is a bit off but we have the correct recipe and will have this taken care of on next sample.  

                  SCHEDULE

                  While we're trying to solve both these issues quickly, this will set us back and could have us delivering the first 200 units during second week of October.  As soon as we hear back from our mold contractor time estimates, we'll get the more precise update out immediately.

                  GOOD NEWS

                  We have the bottom PCB and the initial firmware testing is good!  The top board is due in on September 20th.

                  • Image-325734-full
                  • Image-325735-full

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