Helium: The First Supercapacitor-Powered Portable Speaker

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Jan

07

Thank you!

Thank you all so much for supporting our launch! This has been pretty amazing – in the last few weeks, I’ve gone from having a strange hobby to having an actual business, or at least the start of one. We hit 103% percent of our goal – that is to say, this project wouldn’t have happened without every last contribution. To everyone who made a donation, thanks! I owe you one. And to everyone who bought a speaker – thanks! I owe you a speaker.

If you ordered product without seeing / hearing it first: here is an interview and review from Caleb Denison at Digital Trends . This is the first independent review of the product, and I’m pleased to say that (spoiler alert!) they really liked our speakers. Check it out!

More generally: I’m going to try to post progress reports weekly.

This is our status as of today, January 6th, 2014:

The funds from contributions cleared December 27th. If you are curious about all the steps that got us through the campaign itself, I wrote a thing about the crowdfunding process that ran in TechCrunch a few weeks ago.

Since then, we’ve been getting the wheels turning. This is what needs to happen before we start shipping speakers:

  1. Finalize printed circuit board (PCB) layout
  2. Demonstrate that PCB passes FCC requirements (i.e. it will not interfere with other electronic devices) by taking it to an independent lab
  3. Get the parts: Electronic components PCBs Driver (speaker) Supercapacitors Laser-cut control panels Hardware (handles, mounting screws, etc.) Packaging
  4. Move Blueshift into production shop space
  5. Build cabinets
  6. Assemble PCBs
  7. QA test electronics
  8. Finish cabinets
  9. Final assembly
  10. Final QA check
  11. Deliver finished speakers to Crowd Supply for shipping

As of today, we’re making significant progress on steps 1-5. Overall, things are going well.

I’m waiting on a prototype cabinet from a shop in Hood River that does custom wood fabrication – they are going to be able to build better, cleaner boxes in their full-scale industrial wood shop than I can in my small shop.

We are moving our shop to a new, larger work space next week– I was in there yesterday, I’m really excited about the upgrade. We’ll be sharing space with a cool carbon-fiber fabrication company. We’ll be building out a big electronics bench to start doing PCB assembly.

The biggest problem so far:

Our Bluetooth module distributor has said tentatively that it will take 6-8 weeks to deliver customized modules (programming AAC + AptX codecs & a custom module name into their stock system). Originally I had been planning to reprogram the modules in-house (to save money), but I think that having it done at their factory is a safer plan - it’s expensive, but it guarantees that the Bluetooth chips will be programmed properly for all devices, not just the ones that we have for testing.

I am still hoping that the 6-8 week number will change for the better – we’re looking into other vendors and waiting on word from the factory. Basically, we’re ordering 100 units from a manufacturers that would be happy to sell 100,000 – we don’t have a lot of leverage as far as when they will ship our order. If this can’t be resolved, this pushes back our first shipment date from the end of January to possibly the beginning of March. It should not significantly impact later shipments. I will continue to post details – I hope this doesn’t push our first shipment back a month, but that is a possibility.

The other electronics all come from domestic distributors, so this potential delay from our one international supplier should be the limiting factor in the supply chain – fingers are crossed.

More soon!

Thanks,

Sam Beck Blueshift

$46,246 raised

of $35,000 goal

Funded!
No Longer Available

Dec 19 2013

funded on

132%

funded

9,493

pledges

Product Choices

$249

Copper

The Copper is a wired, powered speaker. It sounds great, and it looks killer - but it does have to be plugged into both power and an audio source. Includes power supply and 3.5mm cable - attach any device with a standard headphone audio output. Available in mono ($300) or stereo ($400). Stereo shown in image.


$350

PILOT: Helium


$399

Helium

The Helium is a capacitor-powered, portable wireless speaker. It charges in five minutes, plays for six hours at full volume, and sounds awesome. Includes Bluetooth receiver with Apt-X and AAC codecs, Fostex FE 126 driver, bamboo cabinet, and wall adapter. Built to last in Portland, OR.


$400

EARLY: Helium


$179

Capacitizer

The Capacitizer is a DIY kit for building a capacitor-powered portable wireless speaker. Build your own enclosure for a high-efficiency driver, OR convert an existing high-efficiency passive speaker. Includes the assembled PCB, four 350F supercapacitors, a power supply for charging, hardware, and instructions. Tools and know-how required! Driver not included.


$849

Double Down

A Helium Stereo speaker AND a Helium Mono for the ultimate listening experience.

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Credits

Blueshift

Blueshift builds open-source electronics in Portland, OR. We are committed to products that last, so everything we make can be repaired and upgraded.


Sam Beck

Founder


Alberta Printed Circuits

PCB Manufacturer

RNB Enterprises

PCB Assembler

Scientific Research Company

Laser Cutter & Powder-coater

Madisound

Audio Component Supplier

Blue Creation

Bluetooth Module Supplier

Laser Cutting Services Inc.

Laser Cutter & Etcher

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