Manufacturing update

Happy April! At Vela Labs we're full of the joys of spring and an inhuman amount of chocolate. It's been a few weeks since the last update, during which time things have been moving fast. There have been a couple of hiccups which I'll go through below, but mostly things are moving along nicely.

First, and update on the manufacturers. In the last update I gave the news that we'd started on the metalwork manufacture. I'm happy to say that the photo above shows the first real metalwork from the factory, and aside from one problem it's all good.

The kick-off for the plastic tooling was waiting on the metalwork sample, as I wanted to check fit first. It was a perfect fit, so manufacture of the tooling for the plastic is now underway. Hopefully we'll have some photos soon!

In the last update we'd just finished the final electronics board, or so we thought. In fact we realised that one of the parts was not rated to a high enough voltage to be able to reliably cope with a set of fresh alkaline batteries. Unfortunately there was no drop-in replacement, so we had to do an up-issue. A mod on the existing board proved it worked, and the new boards were turned around quickly. We have now placed the production order for the boards. While the plastics and metalwork are being made in China, the electronics manufacturers are in the UK, and are also performing the general assembly of the devices. This is great, as they're near enough to us to visit and generally keep an eye on things. Certainly easier than a flight to Shenzhen.

The other big step was placing the order for the LEDs. These are by far the most expensive part of the flash, so it was a major order. Over $15,000 in fact! These will be making their way to the factory next month, ready for final assembly.

As I noted above, it's not all good news. While the metalwork was mostly perfect, there was one significant issue. The threaded rivet nuts which form the tripod mounts are not suitable, as the thread doesn't go all the way to the surface, meaning most tripods won't grip it. You should be able to see the problem in the photos above.This was a problem in the old Kickstarter prototypes too (we used an adapter to mount them) and we'd been assured it had been fixed. However there seems to have been a misunderstanding at the factory, so we had to find a solution. It took quite some time to source and test suitable replacements (if only tripods had metric threads) but it looks like we'll be using self-clinching PEM nuts instead, which are threaded all the way to the surface. Once everything is accounted for, this looks like it will have introduced around two weeks delay to the metalwork manufacture. Unfortunately, unlike the electronics revision which wasn't on the critical path, the metalwork delays will affect the delivery date, which looks like it will now be in June. I will keep everyone up to date as I get more news.

Happy shooting, everyone. I'll leave you all with a picture of the laser cut prototype battery doors and I/O plate which I had made for testing before the real things arrived from the factory. They're rough and greasy, but they certainly look cool. I've a stack of them left over as it cost the same for five sets as for one, so perhaps some backers might like to have them. Let me know!

This post originally appeared as a Kickstarter update