Two steps forward, one step back
Something exciting in the post today: the bare boards for the beta Satiators! These are actually fabricated as panels of four Satiators held together with little side rails. This allows the assembly house to build four units at a time, and then they just snap apart when they're done.

This is great! Unfortunately, the factory forgot to put the bevel on the card edge connectors. Not so great. This makes it much harder to push the card into a Saturn, to the point that I wouldn't be comfortable shipping them out. With this square edge, these boards are junk:

I'm sorting out new boards now, so this should be back on track within a week or two, depending on the vagaries of global shipping and so on. Once they get here, I'll be shipping them over to my board house for assembly - in the USA - and then they'll come back here for testing and programming. Then, finally, once they're properly well-travelled, they'll be coming out to beta testers!

I've been very busy in the background here working on the production test system. This is deeply unsexy, because pretty much all it does is check that the boards were assembled flawlessly. At the same time, it's a really hard problem.

Previously I've always hand-tested every product I've ever built, wherever they were made. This way I could always make sure quality met my standards. But a downside of that process was, whenever I got too busy or sick or whatever else came up, I wouldn't have time - and the supply of eg. Drag'n'Derps would dry up. Not good for people who want them and not good for me, either, as I'd invariably stress about it the whole time.

In order to make sure the Satiator is reliably available, I need to make sure that testing and programming can be done precisely to my standards - without me doing it. And because this is, in the scheme of things, a small project, I can't train someone else up to do it and send them to a factory to do it full-time ^_^ So I have to build a machine that encapsulates all of my thoughts on quality, and that is super reliable and robust, and that anyone can use without training. So despite being a very unsexy piece of work, it's very challenging!

It's taken quite a while and I'm still not quite finished yet. One approach I had (which I thought was quite clever) didn't work out and I had to take another tack, which is working well. Now the beta units will give me a chance to test it on a whole pile of boards, which should tell me the last changes that need to be made to be able to hand it to a factory and have it Just Work™.

More news to follow - I'm very excited about beta, and more than a little frustrated about today's delay. Not much longer!

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