A multi-tool for building, analyzing, and hacking USB devices

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Aug 10, 2023

Project update 20 of 27

Cynthion Delivery Timeline Update

by Elizabeth H

Hello, campaign backers and other supporters of Cynthion and Great Scott Gadgets!

In this update, we hoped to tell you that manufacturing was in progress and that we were getting close to delivering the first Cynthions to you. Unfortunately, we have encountered more delays while getting the hardware ready to go to manufacturing.

The first delay was caused by another component availability barrier, which is now solved. After our last hardware update, we placed an order with our contract manufacturer for the additional components added to the Cynthion hardware design in r0.6. At the time of engineering r0.6, all of the new components added in this major revision were widely available, and we had no indications that there would be issues acquiring them. However, when we received the BOM quote for these additional components from our contract manufacturer, we learned that the power monitor part we had planned to use, PAC1954T-E/J6CX, was no longer in stock, and the quoted lead time was 20 weeks. Focused on getting the product delivered to you on time, we ordered a substitute part right away, and our engineering team immediately got to work on another hardware revision to instead use a PAC1954 package that was in stock, PAC1954T-E/4MX. This revision was relatively minor, but we did have to order another round of prototypes for verification and testing. Each time we order and test a new round of prototypes, the process takes 3-4 weeks. We named this new Cynthion revision r1.1.0 and went to an independent test lab for the necessary pre-compliance testing before ordering the production PCBs.

Before going to manufacturing or putting Cynthion on the market, we must certify that the final product conforms with applicable regulations and standards in all the countries we will be shipping to. One of the important standards Cynthion must comply with is electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). Cynthion’s compliance with EMC includes two components: emissions and immunity. Emissions compliance means that the Cynthion won’t emit electromagnetic interference (EMI) that can adversely affect other devices in its environment, and immunity compliance ensures that the Cynthion itself won’t be affected by electrostatic discharge (ESD). So far, we have had two rounds of testing in an independent EMC testing lab, each evaluating Cynthion on the emissions and immunity standards we’ve identified as applicable to Cynthion. In the first round of testing, Cynthion passed neither emissions nor immunity tests. By the second round, a couple of weeks later, the engineering team had solved the immunity problems, and Cynthion passed with flying colors— no such luck with the emissions portion of the test.

Since then, we have worked very hard to solve the EMC emissions issues with Cynthion. The engineering team identified software and gateware modifications that significantly reduced emissions and also found some small hardware changes that helped. Although great progress was made in a short period of time, it became apparent that a new hardware revision (r1.2.0) would be required to test modifications that we think will clear the final hurdle. As of today, we are waiting for another round of prototypes to be delivered so that we can test the new revision, and we hope that these will be the pre-manufacturing prototypes that will successfully pass EMC at the lab.

Although it is only possible to precisely estimate when Cynthion will ship once we have solved the emissions issues and manufacturing is underway, you will see that the expected delivery date for Cynthion fulfillment has changed to January 31st, 2024, which is our best estimate. In this new proposed timeline, we allow ourselves another month to resolve the EMC emissions issues and pass pre-compliance testing. After that, we estimate that manufacturing and quality control testing will take about three months, and we are allowing another two months for logistics and fulfillment. We will have a better idea of whether this timeline is realistic or not after the next round of EMC pre-compliance testing at the independent lab, and we will be sure to update you again if things change again with the timeline.

In the meantime, we assure you that delivering Cynthion to you is our priority, and thank you for your patience as we continue to work hard to accomplish this goal we have been working towards for so long. Please accept our apologies for not updating you as often as we’d like to. The engineers who are best equipped to write these updates are very busy working on getting Cynthion to you as soon as possible!

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