Posted by James Zutovsky on 9/17/2015 to e-cigs
Production Update #10 – Tuesday [September 15, 2015]
Posted by Jeremy Toce
Hey there! Jeremy here, reporting from China again, as Cloudmaker Tech continues honing our processes as we proceeding final testing and first article preparations for mass production of the Whiteout units. First off, I know a lot of you are watching the clock, waiting for these production updates to be posted. We really appreciate the high level of interest & anticipation for Whiteout news, but given my busy travel schedule in China for meetings plus the full half-day time difference between myself and the other CMT team members, it’s extremely difficult to commit to always posting these updates on a fixed schedule, like Monday & Fridays by midnight PST. Since the Great Firewall of China means unfettered access to the open internet isn’t possible while I’m traveling, I can only work online or communicate with the team when I am at my own workstation, running a VPN over Tor so I can access the Google apps suite & other critical tools we take for granted in running a modern startup. Because of this, when I can get online, I’m not able to go on reddit or socialize with everyone like I usually enjoy doing. In fact, the team has been doing the actual posting of the updates on my behalf right now, so I can focus my internet time on handling the critical stuff that keeps production on track. We will aim to keep getting these updates out to you on Mondays and Fridays, but please give us some breathing room if we are a bit late sometimes. If the post isn’t up, I can guarantee you we haven’t forgotten — we might be on an airplane or a bullet train, touring a factory, or conducting a meeting/briefing. Since my schedule here only overlaps with Ian, Aaron, & Roger’s schedules back in the US early in the morning and late at night, getting the updates drafted, media content finalized & posting it all can take some time. Generally speaking, if you’re waiting on an overdue update from me, so are they, so don’t blame them for my schedule. Please be patient, and I promise we will deliver the updates (and the Whiteout devices, for that matter) as fast as humanly possible. Where are you at? I spent the past couple of days in Shenzhen, home to a vast majority of Chinese electronics manufacturers, attending meetings at YiHi’s headquarters. I managed to carve out enough time to visit the showroom for our LiPo manufacturer too, who apparently also makes drones of some kind! I can confidently say that we have some of the best LiPo batteries I have seen, with a super compact size for 1100 mAh capacity (more accurately, 12.2 watt-hours). We are also working on a bigger pack for a future upgrade to improve capacity. Still, the 1100 mAh battery packs we’re using with the DNA200 haven had no issue lasting all day, so I think many people will be satisfied or even surprised by our standard pack! My primary focus for the Shenzhen trip was visiting YiHi’s factory in Shenzhen & meeting with YiHi management. CMT has been in regular contact with YiHi for the past few weeks, keeping tabs on our custom chip order for the Whiteout SX production run, and we’ve been looking forward to the chance to sit down with them and talk face-to-face. Working with YiHi has definitely had its share of challenges, but it’s been a rewarding experience overall. Plus, it was pretty cool to learn that Cloudmaker Tech is YiHi’s second-largest US account (behind Vaporflask). The team at YiHi have been incredibly professional and hospitable, and we shared some good meals and great conversations during my stay in Shenzhen. Here’s a few photos I took on the trip to YiHi, as well as a few more from the stop I made at our LiPo manufacturer’s factory while I was in Shenzhen… While I was visiting YiHi, I also managed to score some insider SX350J-V2 info for everyone! We had a long car ride from the airport to talk about the SX350J-V2 in private. Obviously, everyone wants to know the scoop, and I’ve even heard some people online calling the SX350J “obsolete” already, so I decided to find out directly from YiHi. I was told the V1 & V2 PCB boards are basically identical, with a firmware upgrade for a new “computer control” feature which sounded like some kind of enhanced presets. This feature is likely related to the new SX-iQ version of YiHi’s SXmini ‘SX-i’ firmware upgrade software, but I confirmed that it will be nothing like eScribe. Basically, according to YiHi themselves, the SX350J-V2 doesn’t have a whole lot going on that’s substantially different than V1. Plus, YiHi made this chip specifically for the SXmini ML device, and they’re just beginning production on the PCBs intended for eventual use in those units now. I was told they have no immediate plans to make the SX350J-V2 available for purchase to 3rd -party chip vendors, so there’s no rush to plan a Build Kit for these chips, even if the community requests one in the future. So, don’t fret, soon-to-be Whiteout SX owners — you don’t need to swap to the DNA200 or start worrying about V2 build kits! However, if you know anyone who likes the idea of vaping off their grandma’s jewelery, or builds their own bling, YiHi hinted that the SXmini ML and a roll of gold wire would be the perfect Christmas present… As long as you don’t need a guarantee your pre-order will be delivered by a specific date, like Christmas morning! =P When’s It Ship? This has been the busiest couple of days on the production front so far, making some last-minute tweaks before we can no longer do so. We’ve made some small design tweaks, brushed up the aesthetics, and considered all of the possible safety concerns going in to production. We are waiting on some re-tooling, but the majority of this is done and the changes really just boil down to a few CNC machining tweaks. I’ve been really hustling the team over here to try to stay on a good schedule, and their late-night emails and thoughtful responses show the results. We’ve been keeping track of everything in a Gantt chart to track how all the timelines align, and while a few bumps in the road have set us back, I can say with a good degree of confidence that it looks like we will be able to begin shipping both SX and DNA units to the US towards the end of the second week in October. First to ship will be all of our online early-adopter pre-orders, followed by the vendor units (vendors with pre-sales first, in order of payment received), but we’ll keep you updated on the specifics as this date draws closer. We were able to shave some time off production by convincing the factory to both manufacture and assemble concurrently, which means more shipping expenses for us, but a unit in your hands quicker. To us, your happiness is worth the cost of minimizing any further delays. There are still a few potential uncertainties remaining, as with any project of this scale, but overall I think we’re looking good. Anyways, it’s back to work for Team CMT at both ends of the Earth, but we wanted to get this update over to you guys as quickly as possible once Jeremy got back from YiHi HQ & could get online. Now that you know what’s up, feel free to comment with any questions you’ve got, and enjoy the pictures. We’ll be working to deliver more media in future updates, and we’ll have some more stuff to show off on MakerTalk this Thursday at 10pm EST!
<3 CMT Alpha Team