As mentioned in the last Manufacturing Update, we are in the process of an important design change. In order to move quickly, Mycroft has decided to go ahead and do the engineering and design changes ourselves. These changes were outlined in steps 1 through 3 from our previous Manufacturing Update, but we would like to share more about the changes and our progress now.
Why change anything at this stage? We have had requests from prospective clients to have the ports exposed, particularly for ethernet access. Although wifi is ubiquitous these days, many scenarios require a hardwired ethernet connection. So we have moved the ports to the back of the Mark II and they can be accessed without removing a panel. The original location with the ports exposed on the side of the device would have been awkward in permanent use. We think this is a good design change for all customers as many home users would like to have a hard wired Mark II as well. This orientation is also more ideal for production. We are now able to move the fan to the back of the design and keep the movement of the molds (direction of pull) all in one direction. This reduces cost and complexity. However, it does mean changing all of the internal mounting bosses, and switching the order of assembly.
The required changes to the SJ201 (PCBA) and the Mechanical design are currently on schedule. The electrical design was completed and sent to our PCBA vendor. The vendor is targeting to have the prototype boards ready to send to us by December 10. Mechanical design is also making good progress. It should be done at roughly the same time as the prototype PCBAs. The new orientation requires moving most of the internal mounting points and once the mechanical design and prototype SJ201s are complete, we will print a prototype housing to match it up with the new SJ201 to make sure everything aligns. Assuming it does, we will then complete assembly of the prototype and test it. The last step in this project will be to print housings for the remaining SJ201s. We will use these prototypes as reference units for our development team and manufacturer. We are targeting all of this to be done by the end of December.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your perspective, these changes are not affecting the ship date for production, as that is primarily determined by the chips with long-lead times. We have enough inventory on-hand to produce prototypes, but not nearly enough for production, yet.
The graphical user interfaces for all the essential Skills are now in place. These will continue to be expanded upon over time as we add in more detailed representations of different queries, actions and answers.
We have also been getting fantastic feedback from the community on our Skills interaction mock up videos. These videos show a range of possibilities for how Skills might interact with each other and respond to potential conflicts. If you haven’t yet seen them, you can find the last few here in the Community Forums.
The ideas and opinions we’ve received through this process have helped inform a new proposal for a low level generic framework for how the internal components of a Mycroft system should communicate with each other. If you’re interested in the technical details you can find that proposed specification here. We’re also very keen to get feedback on this small but fundamental shift. It’s important to note here that these are ideas that can slowly transition into the code base as we work on different components.
As we continue to get feedback on this, we are doing some additional clean up on the boot and bring up sequence. After conducting some user testing, it was clear we didn’t have the initial out of the box experience quite right. So we’re tackling some bugs, improving recovery processes if something does go wrong during setup, and giving it some extra visual polish while we’re there. You can see exactly what we’re working on here in our list of upcoming sprints.
Duane joined Mycroft March 2021. He has extensive experience in program management, IT, manufacturing, and as an entrepreneur. He is an enthusiast for skiing, playing guitar, music, biking, innovation, reading, learning, and good comedy (alright, even bad humour!). He is a believer, and excited about Mycroft, our staff, our product, our vision, our community, and our customers! Let’s all make it happen – great product by good people for good people.