Vela One: now in production!

This is it: manufacture has started! The Chinese are back from holiday and it’s all go. Last week we made the first payment to our metalwork factory, so this week they start building. I’m really pleased to say that things are still almost on schedule (not too much shifting has been needed in my Great Gantt of Doom™) and we’re still within the margin of error that I built into the plans. This means we’re still on track for May shipping.

The plastic designs were finished last week, and we’ll be testing the SLS prototypes over the next couple of days. We will then place the order for the full production run. I had fun assembling the electronics last week (my first serious foray into surface mount soldering had virtually no fatalities), and am happy to say it’s working well. It’s the first time I’ve been able to test the neat new high voltage connection between the boards, and I’m pleased to say it works perfectly. However we are going to need to do a small change, which means an up-issue on the board. Turns out one of the parts is only rated to 5.5V, so could be damaged by a fresh set of alkaline batteries. Oops! While there isn’t a drop-in replacement, this is a quick fix and isn’t on the critical path, so won’t affect delivery time.

One of the small details that needed solving before we placed the order was the battery door. In the prototype this had been held in place with magnets. While this was neat, it wasn’t really secure enough, so in the final version I wanted to switch to a combination of magnets and screws. I spent ages thinking about what would be the best kind of screw to use to secure it. It needed to be secure, but able to be undone by hand. Finally I realised the answer was right in front of me (literally: there was one on the shelf in front of me). A tripod quick-release plate screw is absolutely perfect for this job. We’ll be using one that has a D-ring and coin slot.

The first sets of metalwork will be arriving in a couple of weeks, at which point I’ll be able to actually build a complete production unit. I can then start shooting with it again! I’ve been itching to get back to the rifle range, but have wanted to wait until the new revision was ready.