Hi everybody, We've just run into a bit of a problem with the Triggertrap V1s. At our last update, we said that the devices would be ready to ship by Valentine's day - and that would have worked out, too, if we had received all the parts we ordered in. However, we ran into a series of unforeseen problems, which is pushing the shipping date for the Triggertrap further back.
I'm completely devastated, and really sorry - I've been so eager to get my own Production triggertrap to play with, that I'm absolutely gutted right now. If you have a similar response to this news, I know exactly how you feel.
The slim silver lining is that it now looks as if we'll be shipping the Triggertrap Shield for Arduino at the same time as the Triggertrap V1 units: If you've ordered one via Kickstarter or via our pre-order system, expect a package in the mail in mid-April.
The long explanation
(or: skip this if you don't want explanations)
Basically, what has happened is that we've had to order a quarter of a million parts (256,500 individual parts, to be precise), from half a dozen different suppliers. Most of them turned out to be highly efficient and professional (especially Mouser and Digikey, unsurprisingly), but some of the parts we're using on the Triggertrap are bespoke, or slighly more obscure.
Our casings, for example, are made from laser-cut and bent acrylic material, and had to be custom-made. When we got our quote for them back in October, they quoted us one thing. When we placed the order for them a couple of months later, "due to an increase in the dollar/yuan exchange rate, the price had gone up". Of course, that was complete hogwash: I checked the exchange rates, and they were within 0.6% of the rate when we got our initial quote. Nonetheless, the supplier increased the price by 20%, fully aware they had us over a barrel: If we wanted to switch suppliers, we would have to get a new prototype casing made, shipped to us, quality control it, and ship the new prototype casing back to China, to be attached to our prototype TTv1, before finally starting full-scale production of the new casing. That would have been a 6-week delay (2 weeks to make the prototype, 2 weeks in transit, and 2 weeks for testing and any corrections), which I really didn't want: I'm eager for the Triggertraps to start shipping. And so, I imagine, are you.
So we solved the casings by throwing more money at the cheeky shakedown merchant. Needless to say, I've started looking for a new supplier for the casings in case we have to make more Triggertraps in the future (we hope we do!)
The next challenge was a lot more serious: We've been very careful about making sure that the Triggertrap is a device that is very frugal with power consumption. We want the TT's to last for a long time on a set of batteries. Part of this is selecting components that don't take a lot of power when they are in use, but we also need the components to power up quickly when they are needed. Long story short, it turns out that there aren't that many LCD displays that fit our needs. We've been testing a load of different LCD displays for our prototypes, and discovered that there was really only one type that works the way we want it to.
We placed the order for the LCD displays (it's used on both the Triggertrap TTv1 and the Triggertrap Shield for Arduino, so it was going to be a bigger order), but were facing a really weird problem: The supplier who sent us the devices to test with seemed to have vanished off the surface of the planet. They didn't get back to our e-mails. You'd have thought they'd get back to us, when you want to buy several thousand LCD displays, right? No such luck. We kept trying for several weeks, before we decided we had to cut our losses, and find ourselves a new supplier.
Remember what I said about these LCD screens being quite specific? Yeah, that's still true - and now we had lost our supplier. The search was as ferocious as it was frantic, and eventually we found the manufacturer of the LCD displays. They only had a couple of hundred in stock, but would be able to manufacture them to order.
Hurrah! The Triggertrap project was Saved! Well... It was. However, the LCD displays were more expensive direct from the manufacturer than from the supplier we had found (it's a strange quirk of manufacturing: If you are a warehouse that orders 10,000 of a widget, you might be able to buy them at $1.50 each, and sell them on for $2 each for a nice profit. However, if you're ordering 2,000 of the same widget, you might be charged $3 per widget; this is how distributors can use their purchasing power to press prices down, and sell them on to us whilst still making a profit). In addition, since this was from the manufacturer, they didn't have enough in stock; the LCD screens that will be used on the Triggertraps are going to be created especially for the Triggertraps.
All of that is lovely, but it leaves us with two problems: Price (which wouldn't be a problem, if it hadn't been for the fact that we've had a lot of pre-orders for the Triggertrap that we also have to fulfill, but PayPal has frozen our PayPal account, so we don't actually have the money available to us to place the order), and time... There's a 6-week turnaround on the LCD screens, and in addition to that, January is Chinese Newyear - easily the biggest holiday in China - during which the factory shuts down for two weeks.
The upshot is that the LCD displays won't make it to the assembly line until mid-March. The assembly line will complete the Triggertraps up to the point where they need LCD's (it's the second-to-last step in the assembly process: The last step is putting the casing on the device), before they all go through a round of QA (Quality Assurance) testing, they get packaged, and shipped directly to our Kickstarter and pre-order customers.
(that's "Too Long: Didn't Read", if you're not down with the language the cool internet kids are using these days)
- We've had some problems with several of our suppliers
- The LCD screens now have to be manufactured especially for the Triggertrap, a process that will take eight weeks; 6 weeks of manufacturing, and 2 additional weeks because China shuts down for Chinese Newyear.
- The Triggertrap starts assembly this week, but the final assembly cannot be done until the LCD displays arrive at the assembly facility
- We currently expect an end-of-March shipping date, and a mid-April delivery date for both the Triggertraps and the Triggertrap Shields for Arduino
We're really, really sorry for the additional delay - we've tried to do everything to keep manufacturing on track, but there's not a lot we can do about suppliers falling through, unfortunately.
Please stay patient with us - we're as eager to get the Triggertraps to you, as you are to receive them!