The “T0” (first production test) plastic enclosures arrived from China on Friday. Ironically, it seems to take longer for DHL to get from Shenzen to Hong Kong, even though they’re very close, than it does from Hong Kong to Toronto!
My previous post mentioned some of the defects (tooling marks, shrinkage, lack of holes for screws) that are somewhat expected in the first production test. Even with those minor flaws I was still ecstatic to hold, for the first time, a ‘real’ Wimoto enclosure.
The difference between the 3D printed, even “Digital ABS”, and injection moulded part is considerable. Our logo looks much crisper, the overall definition of the part is much greater and the feel of it in your hand is different — much stronger, much more ‘solid’ feeling. The addition of polycarbonate (PC) into the plastic resin mix has added that additional strength (less flexing) and also provides a plastic with a higher quality finish (sheen).
Here’s what the family of plastic parts look like. Two different main enclosure bodies, the bottom plate (which should have screw holes for the tiny M1.2 screws), and the clear acrylic lens part that gets glued into the Climate, Grow, Water, and Thermo. The Sentry has a different assembly for the large hole in the top of the main enclosure that you can see as the white polyethylene piece in the above photo.
Fancy plastic enclosures don’t mean much if the brains that go inside them don’t fit. Luckily, everything fit just fine 🙂 You can see a Grow board in this image and part of a Climate cropped at the bottom. I was able to breathe again once I’d checked!
You can see four gold coloured pads in the third hole from the left in this photo. That’s where the RGB LED lives and making sure that things ‘line up’ is called “fit and form” testing. Other than a couple of very minor tweaks to the electronics boards, we passed fit and form testing!
The bottom plate has a recess for a 25*25mm (1inch*1inch) sticker that contains a QR code to help you configure the device and some regulatory information.
On the left you’ll see one of our prototypes. The battery holder is a formed piece of metal that fits around the battery. This would have meant removing the entire Wimoto electronics assembly to change the battery. It also means you can potentially put the battery the wrong way around. We searched high and low and found a battery holder that fit our enclosure, was reasonably priced (this was the hard part), and only allowed the battery to be inserted correctly and from the bottom. I think you’ll all agree the battery holder in the picture on the right is a better solution. Although it cost three times as much in terms of parts, it will create a better experience for our customers and also likely reduce the number of support requests or boards damaged.
We’re doing a little more testing, and then we’ll be giving the electronics fabricator the green light. We’re making steady progress, although I realize some of you would prefer things were happening faster, it’s important to ship a quality product too.