manufacturing

2020 Oct 01

Right-side module mold progress, part two

By |2020-10-01T17:43:17+00:002020-10-01 05:13|features, firmware, manufacturing, modules, news, tech talk|5 Comments

Hi there, and welcome to the monthly status update of the UHK!

TL; DR: Machining of the right-side module molds is still underway, and it's taking longer than expected; hence, we’re now estimating that modules will begin shipping closer to the end of November In the meantime, we keep testing the modules, making small refinements, and improving their firmware.

Our contractor has been making further progress with the right-side module molds.

I spoke to our contractor yesterday. Unfortunately, the production of the molds is taking more time than originally anticipated, so we now expect to begin shipping the modules towards the end of November.

Understandably, production delays are always unwelcome. However, I know that the molds take so long because our contractor is doing his best in terms of quality. If you have been following us for a while, you know that the UHK was also delayed, and the reception was overwhelmingly positive. I’m firmly convinced that the modules will receive the same reception as the UHK with the care we give them.

We use the extra time available to us wisely and spend these days obsessing over the details of the modules. For example, we noticed that the mini trackball PCB of the key cluster module interfered a bit with the lower right keycap when pressed at certain angles, so we slightly modified the PCB. We also saw that the FPCs are very sensitive to sharp bends, so we redesigned the affected parts mechanically to minimize the bending.

The extra time allows me to polish the firmware and add more features. Recently, I implemented two-finger tapping and scrolling for the touchpad, and zooming is now also recognized. As for the trackball, I've just noticed that it's possible to double the resolution of the trackball sensor IC, which allows a higher sensitivity. These developments will improve the overall experience of the modules.

Speaking of the trackball, some of you have asked whether it's possible to clean the ball quickly. I'm happy to say that it only takes seconds to rotate the outer ring around the ball, which releases the ball.

As for the modules, some of you asked if the modules will remain firmly attached to the keyboard when it’s tented. The answer is a resounding “yes” because the precision-milled steel guides of the UHK keep very stable under all circumstances.

We’ll keep you informed about the development of the modules every month. They may take a while, but we work very hard to make them worth the wait.

Your tweets

You guys keep sending your awesome tweets, and we're always eager to read and feature them! If you got your UHK, please share your love!

We’ll be keeping you updated on all things UHK, and are looking forward to talking to you around the end of October.

2020 Aug 20

Right-side module mold progress

By |2020-08-20T08:59:00+00:002020-08-20 08:55|agent, features, firmware, manufacturing, modules, news|12 Comments

Hi there, and welcome to the monthly UHK status update!

TL;DR: Machining of the right-side module molds is well underway, and we should have plastic parts by the end of August. We keep developing the UHK firmware and Agent, and it’s worth updating – not just because of module support.

Our contractor has been making solid progress with the right-side module molds.

If everything goes as planned, we’ll have injection-molded right-side module plastic pieces by the end of August, and we’ll start shipping the modules in September.

We’ll be keeping you updated on a monthly basis, and feel free to change your shipping address any time.

Agent and firmware progress

We’ve been publishing about one Agent and one firmware release per month over the past couple years. These releases contain numerous improvements, so feel free to check out recent Agent releases and recent firmware releases to see them along with their changelog. Also make sure to star these projects to get notifications about their activity on GitHub.

Regarding the firmware, it’s worth mentioning a recent fix which made the UHK play nicely with Ryzen PCs. Previously, in some cases, the UHK only worked via USB hubs when connected to Ryzen PCs. Strictly speaking, the UHK firmware was actually bug-free in this respect. The Ryzen platform just happens to be unreasonably picky regarding USB descriptors.

Speaking of Agent, a new feature makes key swapping extremely easy. You just have to drag a key to another key to swap them.

Now we’re working on making Agent handle the modules. Agent will display the actual state of the UHK just as previously demonstrated, but with the modules included. This will result in a very seamless and intuitive experience.

Your tweets

You guys keep sending your awesome tweets, and we're always eager to read and feature them! If you got your UHK, please share your love!

We’ll be keeping you updated on all things UHK, and are looking forward to talking to you on 2020-09-15.

2020 Jul 21

Key cluster molds are ready

By |2020-07-21T21:47:19+00:002020-07-21 19:42|manufacturing, modules, news|4 Comments

Hi there, and welcome to the monthly UHK status update!

TL;DR: The molds of the key cluster module are ready. Machining of the right-side module molds is in progress. The design of the module plastic parts has taken more time than anticipated, and as a result, we expect to start shipping the modules in September.

The key cluster molds are finally ready, and the molded plastic parts look great:

Now, our contractor is working on the right-side module molds:

The right-side module molds are expected to be ready around the end of August, and we plan to start shipping the modules in September.

We’ve been working on the modules as hard as we could, but despite our best effort, the ETA had to be updated because the design of the module plastic parts has taken more time than anticipated. We believe that the updated September ETA is realistic, and we’ll do our best to hit it.

We’ll be keeping you updated on a monthly basis, and feel free to change your shipping address any time.

Reviews and tweets

Wildcat’s UHK review is a special one as he doesn’t say a single word, and yet, he tells much more than most reviewers. It’s an unusually enjoyable video which I highly recommend watching.

You guys keep sending your awesome tweets and posts, and we're always eager to read and feature them. If you got your UHK, please share your love!

We’ll be keeping you updated on all things UHK, and are looking forward to talking to you on 2020-08-14.

2020 Jun 20

Key cluster molds and PCBs are almost ready

By |2020-06-20T21:31:54+00:002020-06-20 21:31|manufacturing, modules, news, tech talk|5 Comments

Hi there, and welcome to the monthly UHK status update!

TL;DR: The molds of the key cluster module are almost ready. The PCBs are finalized and being panelized. Module parts are pouring in from our suppliers.

Our contractor is almost ready with the key cluster molds. This is how they look:

The testing of these molds is slated for the end of June, meaning that we’ll soon have key cluster plastic pieces to show you.

As for the right-side modules, András approved the design of the latest 3D-printed parts, and injection molding simulations have been made:

Even more importantly, our contractor started fabricating the right-side module molds:

As for the module PCBs, I’ve been making some small improvements to them. Their shape and layout have been finalized, and I don’t expect any more changes, so we’re in the process of panelizing them.

I’m very pleased with the overall design of the modules, as they do their job well, they are as simple as possible, and they’re highly optimized for production. In my book, this is good design.

Parts have been pouring in from our suppliers, and most have arrived – including the mini trackballs of the key cluster, the balls, optical sensors, and lenses of the trackball module, FPC cables, and FFCs (flexible printed circuits).

We’ll be keeping you updated about the modules. Feel free to change your shipping address any time.

Your tweets

You guys keep sending your awesome tweets, and we're always eager to read and feature them! If you got your UHK, please share your love!

We’ll be keeping you updated on all things UHK, and are looking forward to talking to you on 2020-07-14.

2020 May 23

Module schematic and BOM finalized

By |2020-05-23T17:58:20+00:002020-05-23 15:06|electronics, manufacturing, modules, news, prototype, tech talk|20 Comments

Hi there, and welcome to the monthly UHK status update!

TL;DR: The schematics and BOMs of the module PCBs and FPCs (Flexible Printed Circuits) have been finalized. Every part has been ordered for the modules.

Our contractor keeps making progress with the key cluster mold. This is how it looks:

As for the right-side modules, András has been refining their mechanical design, and I’ve been tweaking their PCBs accordingly. These are some of the boards I’ve redesigned recently:

I consider the schematics and BOMs of each PCB and FPC to be fully finalized. András and I will meet over the next week and check how well the new 3D printed module cases fit with the new PCBs. Chances are high that everything will fit well, at which point the machining of the right-side module molds will begin.

I recently visited our EMC tester, TÜV, and we put the modules into the test chamber. The modules did not affect the measurements, which is exactly what I expected based on their small power consumption and small size. Given these results, the modules should pass the EMC tests with flying colors.

We’ve ordered every part of the modules from our suppliers. No parts shortages or delays are expected.

These days are unusually eventful due to the modules, hence this fabulously late monthly update. I’ll do my best to keep you up to date in a timely manner going forward, but I’ll keep prioritizing module development and production over the monthly updates for everyone’s sake.

Your tweets

You guys keep sending your awesome tweets, and we're always eager to read and feature them! If you got your UHK, please share your love!

We’ll be keeping you updated on all things UHK, and are looking forward to talking to you on 2020-06-16.

2020 Apr 18

The key cluster molds are being made

By |2020-04-18T23:44:46+00:002020-04-18 23:44|manufacturing, modules, news|6 Comments

Hi there, and welcome to the monthly UHK status update!

TL;DR: Key cluster mold manufacturing is well underway. We’re getting close to the final design of the right side module molds, too.

Since our last monthly update, the design of the key cluster molds has been finalized, and now they’re under production. It’s always quite an experience to witness hunks of steel taking shape.

In the meantime, András and our contractor have been working hard to finalize the design of the right-side modules. As soon as this design gets finalized, our contractor will start to get these molds machined.

We’ve also ordered various parts, such as the optical sensor of the trackball, the mini trackball of the key cluster, and the FFC cables. This is quite an intense process for everyone involved, and we’re doing our best to hit our July ETA.

Feel free to change your shipping address any time.

Your tweets

You guys keep sending your awesome tweets, and we're always eager to read and feature them! If you got your UHK, please share your love!

We’ll be keeping you updated on all things UHK, and are looking forward to talking to you on 2020-05-11.

2020 Mar 18

Module ETA announcement

By |2020-03-18T11:42:46+00:002020-03-18 11:42|manufacturing, modules, news|5 Comments

Hi there, and welcome to the monthly UHK status update!

TL;DR: We expect to start shipping the modules in July, and we’re making rapid progress.

As mentioned in our previous monthly update, there are a number of tasks to be done to mass produce the modules, but the most time consuming of all is the creation of their molds. The good news is that our mold making supplier just provided us an ETA: June 2020. This means that we should be able to begin shipping orders in July, likely completing all orders in August.

Our supplier is almost ready with the design of the key cluster module mold:

András has been working a lot on the 3D models of the modules recently, and all the modules should be finalized soon.

In the meantime, I’ve been busy optimizing the PCBs of the modules for manufacturing. It’s not rocket science, but there are a ton of details involved, and small tweaks can go a long way.

We’ve also started the procurement of the parts for the modules. Most of them are not very urgent, but there are exceptions like the optical sensor of the trackball module which can take up to 14 weeks to arrive. Luckily, we’re just in time to hit our ETA.

We’re knee deep into getting the modules manufactured, everything is going well, and we’ll be keeping you updated on a monthly basis as usual. You can change your shipping address any time.

UHK ninja belt

Special shootout goes to Hubert Łępicki who amused us with his UHK ninja belt (for the lack of a better term).

Hubert wouldn’t be a true ninja without demonstrating his belt in action. Check out the following video.

3rd party keycap sets

Some of you are on a never ending journey of pimping up your UHKs, and we’re excited to see your creations!

Further tweets

You guys keep sending your awesome tweets, and we're always eager to read and feature them! If you got your UHK, please share your love!

We’ll be keeping you updated on all things UHK, and are looking forward to talking to you on 2020-04-10.

2019 Apr 18

Catching up with pre-orders

By |2019-04-18T23:49:46+00:002019-04-18 21:01|manufacturing, modules, news|0 Comments

TL;DR: We’ve been making rapid progress with manufacturing. We’ve shipped six mini batches since our last monthly update, two additional mini batches are assembled and we will ship them next week. Afterwards, only three mini batches remain to be shipped, and we’ll be caught up.

Hi there, and welcome to our monthly status update! Ready for warp? Let’s punch it!

Manufacturing progress

Since our last monthly update, we’ve shipped mini batches 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, and 64, which is decent, but not as many as we had expected.

Mini batches 65 and 66 (the latter is not displayed on the delivery status page yet) are already assembled, but we’re waiting for palm rests. Our palm rest supplier is behind schedule, and is expected to ship enough palm rests next week to complete these mini batches. (We ship individual packages as quickly as we can, so no need to email about this, folks.)

Afterwards, we’ll only have to assemble about three mini batches. Should the Keyboard Gods show their support, we’ll catch up then.

That is, excluding orders which contain non-black cases. Those may take a bit more time. Which brings us to the…

Non-black case shortage

Due to a temporary shortage of non-black cases including non-black UHKs and non-black extra UHK cases, orders including such items are delayed until non-black cases roll into our factory. We emailed the affected customers, and offered them the option to switch to black cases to expedite shipping. So the opportunity is there. If you want to switch to black cases, just let us know along with your order id.

This shortage is expected to be resolved in about a month, and we don’t expect that a similar shortage will happen again. We ordered literally tons of colored plastic pellets, so we may not run out for years.

Module progress

András has refined the mechanical design of the key cluster module and ordered a 3D printed version of it which has yet to arrive. Then we’ll evaluate the robustness of the new design. Based on the CAD models, the design looks good. We shall see soon.

The mechanical design of the right-sided modules is being finalized, too. Some details are still unclear, but András made major progress recently, and we’ll get them 3D printed, too. The bottom part of these modules look very similar, and we want to have a shared bottom part for them in order to minimize tooling costs and increase reliability.

The design of the modules is rapidly shaping up, and I’ll have to develop the key cluster firmware soon.

Your feedback

Twitter was noisy, which has become usual when we ship a decent number of orders. Thanks everyone for sharing your nice tweets, and please keep them coming!

We’ll be keeping you updated on all things UHK, and we’re looking forward to talking to you on 2019-05-16.

2019 Mar 14

Coming up to on-demand manufacturing

By |2019-03-14T21:10:18+00:002019-03-14 21:00|manufacturing, news|7 Comments

TL;DR: We’ve been making steady progress with manufacturing, and we’re about to switch into high gear. We expect to deliver every non-module pre-order by the end of March or the beginning of April. Afterwards, we’ll transition to on-demand manufacturing.

Hi there, and welcome to our monthly status update! Let’s get right to it!

Manufacturing progress

On February 27, we finally received the product boxes which were necessary to resume production, and we’ve shipped mini batches 55, 56, 57, and 58 since then.

Production has been mostly uninterrupted, except for a small shortage of foam parts that reside in the product boxes and protect your UHKs extremely well from any damage on the way. Luckily, we received plenty of foam parts today.

With the above issues out of the way, we expect to deliver every non-module pre-order by the end of March or the beginning of April, at which point we’ll transition to on-demand manufacturing.

On-demand manufacturing means that we’ll assemble orders as they come in. This translates to about a 0 to 5 working day delay from order to shipping depending on the actual demand.

Our current focus

Right now, our primary focus is to deliver every non-module pre-order, and streamline our operation. András is busy with the former, and I’m busy with the latter.

Improving our backend systems will allow us to devote the smallest amount of time possible to operational issues, and focus on R&D in general, and specifically the modules. So even though it’s not directly related to development, it will accelerate development, which is a prospect I’m really excited about.

Your feedback

Jez Cope, an awesome backer of ours has written a short review about his UHK, and so has Melinda Wyers on her blog. Thanks so much, Jez and Melinda!

The Twitterverse was eventful as usual featuring the following tweets:

We’ll be keeping you updated on all things UHK, and we’re looking forward to talking to you on 2019-04-18.

2019 Feb 14

Shipping is about to resume

By |2020-02-29T20:33:01+00:002019-02-14 21:14|agent, manufacturing, news, tech talk|0 Comments

TL;DR: Delivery temporarily stopped due to the shortage of packaging material which should resume around February 20. We expect to ship every non-module preorder by the end of March. Regarding the ETA of your order, please check out the delivery status page, including its FAQ section.

Hi there, and welcome to our monthly status update! Let’s get right to it!

Manufacturing progress

Since our previous monthly update, we’ve built plenty of UHKs, but we couldn’t ship most of them due to a temporary shortage of packaging boxes.

It’s taken more time for the printing factory to get up to speed after new year, and they expect to deliver the packaging boxes to us on February 20. We’ll make quick progress once the boxes arrive, and expect to deliver every non-module preorder by the end of March.

We didn’t simply ask for another batch of packaging material to be honest. We redesigned the boxes because they weren’t sufficiently robust. The new boxes are not only fancy, but more robust (and more expensive).

I added a news section to the top of the delivery status page which you’re welcome to check any time. This way, you can keep informed about delivery status the easiest way possible.

DeveloperWeek cancelled

In our previous monthly update, we told you that the we’ll exhibit at DeveloperWeek in the Bay Area on February 21-22. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to make it.

The reason is that our marketing contractor was fired, because I found his work ethics to be poor. Without him, we can’t staff our booth, so I ended up cancelling the event.

With the event cancelled, we won’t be able to give away the free passes offered in our previous monthly update. I’m sorry about this, but now that we have cancelled the event, we can’t do anything. I’ll email all of you who asked for free passes shortly after publishing this update.

As far as the project is considered, I think not attending to DeveloperWeek is actually a good thing. We should fully focus on the delivery of preorders at this point. We’ll have plenty of time to do expos later.

Module progress

Robi has implemented the kboot bootloader protocol natively in Agent. Previously, Agent used the external blhost command line utility which was unreliable. This will make firmware updates more reliable which is very important because the modules will require a new firmware version flashed to your UHKs. We have yet to release a new Agent version that contains this improvement.

In the meantime, András advanced the mechanical design of the key cluster module, so it’s closer to the final design to be mass produced.

As stated in earlier updates, we can’t fully focus on the modules yet. Only after shipping every non-module preorder and transitioning to on-demand manufacturing will be able to make heavier progress regarding the modules.

Your feedback

Mikko Ahlroth wrote a very nice UHK review on his blog. I love reviews like his which go into details and capture many facets of the UHK.

In the meantime, Brett Terpstra has been exploring the wonderful world of custom keycap sets. He pimped up his UHK, and wrote a blog post titled The addictive hobby of customizing mechanical keyboards.

We’ll be keeping you updated on all things UHK, and we’re looking forward to talking to you on 2019-03-14.