Project update 9 of 14
LUNA is delayed. All of us at Great Scott Gadgets are sad to have to give this news, but the global chip shortage and supply chain chaos has impacted our LUNA manufacturing and delivery timeline more deeply than anticipated. Unfortunately, LUNA is now expected to start shipping December 2022 because the lead time for the ECP5 FPGA chip we use on LUNA doubled between July and September. There isn’t a suitable substitute component for the ECP5, so our timeline depends on Lattice’s production schedule for this chip. Please know that getting LUNA into your hands as soon as possible is our highest priority, and has been since before the Crowd Supply campaign was launched.
During our Crowd Supply campaign planning, we did a lot of prep work to make sure we had the most accurate estimate of LUNA time to delivery possible. Our planning involved getting six quotes and lead times from three different contract manufacturers in the time leading up to the campaign. One of these manufacturers stood out to us and we have now requested quotes and lead times from them twice. We received the first quote from this manufacturer on July 10th, which was prior to the campaign, and the second on September 17th, which was just after we got the the funds from the campaign.
The July 10th quote indicated that the microcontroller (ATSAMD11) on LUNA would be the component with the longest lead time at approximately 52 weeks. This was unsatisfactory as we did not want to wait over a year to get LUNA to you. We started looking for substitutions and alternative component sourcing methods immediately. We found an alternative source for the ATSAMD11 very quickly but did not know how many to order since our crowdfunding campaign hadn’t ended and we didn’t yet have the funds to order components. The day the campaign ended we put our order in for the microcontroller. We are happy to say that we received these components at the end of September! Our next step is to ship these parts from our office to our manufacturer.
The component with the next longest lead time on the July 10th quote was the ECP5, which is the main FPGA on LUNA. Our manufacturer gave us a 30-week lead time on this component in that quote, which is what we based our LUNA timeline on. When we got the September 17th quote, the lead time jumped from 30 weeks to 60 weeks. The ECP5 is now the LUNA part with the longest lead time. Until recently, the longest we typically have had to wait on any one part for a Great Scott Gadgets product was 16-20 weeks so many of these lead times are outside of our usual expectations.
Since receiving the bad news about the ECP5 lead time, we have made efforts to reduce the time to delivery. First, we attempted to shorten the ECP5 lead time by contacting Lattice directly to see if they could work with our manufacturer to supply ECP5s for LUNA. This attempt led to a dead-end and did not improve our timeline. Next, we worked with our manufacturer to source the ECP5s from another parts distributor; we had some success there as the manufacturer was able to find another source of ECP5s with a 50-week lead time. We have asked them to put an order in for these ECP5s. At the same time we found another parts distributor that was able to sell us ECP5s quoted 36 weeks, and we ordered them immediately. The next day we received an email from the distributor of the second round of ECP5s we ordered and they updated their lead time from 36 weeks to “to be determined”. Neither of these ECP5 orders are cancellable so we’ve invested heavily in getting LUNA to you as soon as we can. We hope that one order or the other will come in sooner than the 50-week lead time. We will keep you updated!
While we are disappointed that we’ve had to revise our estimated ship date to account for the component delays caused by the global chip shortage, we do have some good news. The delay gives our small team even more time to hone the LUNA software and experience before getting it into your hands. We will use this time to collect and address more feedback from our beta testers, create extra demos and training material, and continually improve our documentation.
If you have any questions, thoughts, or suggestions please reach out to the Great Scott Gadgets team through GitHub or Discord at any time. We would especially welcome any leads about ECP5s!