Novena

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Feb

05

February Backer Update

Dear Backers,

Team Kosagi has just returned from China where we were, among other things, checking up on Novena case production and making sure quality was up to snuff.

A stack of trial material

Above is just one illustration of why, as a general rule, it’s not economical to do the production of laptops on the scale of a few hundred units. This is a stack of scrap material from various trial runs we’ve been through, iterating on the LCD bezel and holder.

In the background, you can see a stack of LCD bezels. The stack includes material used to trial CNC tolerances (in the end, we had to laser-cut the bezel outline to achieve the required tolerance), process capability development (the first ones weren’t cut on a 5-axis mill and thus had no internal bevel), as well as some anodization color targeting samples.

In the foreground, you can see a stack of LCD retainer brackets. These went through several iterations of metal thickness, alloy, and slight design variations until we managed to solve most of the problems. At some point the engineer in us has to step aside, stop pushing for perfection, and ship the product. We have promises to keep, and miles to go before we sleep, and miles to go before we sleep (apologies to Robert Frost).

This pile is just one of many piles of scrap, each one representing an appreciable fraction of total production volume. This is just one of the many reasons why the Novena laptop is not targeted at the low-end market.

On the bright side, all this effort and iteration seems to be on the verge of paying off. We’re happy to report that our initial trial of about a dozen desktop units went as well as we could have hoped. Based on feedback from early customers, we’ve made a couple of subtle tweaks in the design and pack-out procedures.

After shipping the trial desktop units, we waited about two weeks for user feedback – at which point we took a deep breath, and punched the button on “mass” production (for values of “mass” approaching a few hundred units). We couldn’t afford to wait any longer, as we were rapidly closing in on the Chinese New Year holiday; our China facilities will be dark, cold, and silent by February 10th.

So, as humble as it may be, behold the Novena case production line:

Production line in operation

The Peek array uses largely thermoset nuts; only the most critical nuts are directly inserted at the point of injection molding, due to cost reasons. In order to achieve a consistent insertion quality, we use a steel jig to align the nuts to the array, and a temperature-controlled press to insert the nuts.

Putting nuts into the Peek array

We also thought it would also be interesting to show a mold juxtaposed with its respective plastic part. Below are the buttons on the front panel of the Novena case, ready for assembly:

Buttons on runners

These buttons are still on the “runner”, which you can see more clearly in the steel tooling used to mold the buttons:

Button molding tool

The buttons are molded four at a time, with a runner of plastic connecting them all to a common sprue used to force the molten plastic into the cavity. The sprue is cut off, leaving just a pair of buttons on a partial runner. This pair is then mounted into a jig, where the buttons are first painted a silvery white, and then orange. The silvery white coating is required to reflect more of the light and improve the contrast of the backlit lighting effect. The painted buttons are then mounted in another jig, and the icons are laser-etched out of the painted surface of the buttons. There’s a lot of work that goes into the manufacture of even the simplest, smallest parts.

With production in full swing, the cases are slated to be delivered for integration with the finished mainboards in our US facility during the 2nd week of February. Barring any customs issues, we hope to be shipping all the remaining desktop backer units to Crowd Supply by the end of February or the beginning of March.

We’re also going to be shipping our first /laptop/ backer units to Crowd Supply next week. Again, we’re starting with just a few units. Since the case and shipping method have already been trialled, we won’t wait as long for recipients to report their feedback. Rather, this exercise is meant to confirm that air courier services will accept the UN38.3 shipping certificates for our custom lithium-ion batteries. Once all the desktop units are completed with production, we’ll immediately ramp on laptop production, hopefully in early to mid-March.

Last but not least, we haven’t forgotten about the Heirloom backers. bunnie will be traveling to Portland at the end of March, where he’ll work side by side with Kurt Mottweiler to finalize and integrate the Heirloom units.

It’s been a long, hard road, and we thank all the backers for their continued patience. Production is steadily moving forward, albeit a little slower than we had hoped.

新年快乐! (happy Chinese new year!)

-bunnie & xobs

$783,382 raised

of $250,000 goal

Funded! Order Now

May 18 2014

funded on

313%

funded

1,114

pledges

Product Choices

$550

Just the Board

For crafty people who want to build their case and define their own style, we'll deliver to you the main PCBA, stuffed with 4GiB of RAM, 4GiB microSD card, and an Ath9k-based PCIe wifi card. Boots to a Debian desktop over HDMI.


$425

Hacker Case Kit

The barebones hacker case kit! It'll give you the structure on which to build your custom Novena set-up using your main board. Grab some mounting screws from the hardware store, and you're ready to go.


$35

General Purpose Breakout Board (GPBB)

Breaking out all the goodies, this 40 pin header allows you easy access to the Novena Spartan-6 FPGA. The GPBB buffers 16 FPGA outputs and 8 FPGA inputs to be compatible with either 3.3V or 5V, gang-selectable via software. It also provides six 10-bit analog inputs (up to 200ksps sample rate) and two 10bit analog outputs (~100ksps max rate), all broken out to an easy-to-use 40-pin male 0.1” dual-row header. The board was created as a stretch goal in the original Novena crowdfunding campaign.


$110

Battery

Overstock of the custom-manufactured batteries for the campaign - these are 5000mAh 3-cell lithium battery packs that fit especially well into the Novena desktop or laptop case. *International shipping not available for this item.


$16

Battery Holder

A holder for the standard Novena battery pack mentioned above. Holds the battery nicely in the Peek array of the injection-molded case. Has a 4mm bullet connector.


$58

eDP Adapter Board

This adapter board is a bridge between the LVDS port on the main board and the eDP connection for the LCD screen. It has hole placements to be secured directly over the main board using the appropriately sized M2 screws. See here for more details.


$90

LCD Screen

This is the same screen as that used in the desktop and laptop Novena configurations. It is a 13.3" amorphous silicon TFT active matrix IPS LCD at 1920 x 1080, 166 ppi, 350 cd/m2 luminance at max brightness, 700:1 contrast ratio (typical), 14ms TR, 11ms Tf (typical) response time, and a wide viewing angle of approximately 89 degrees vertically or horizontally in any direction.


$50

AC Adapter

AC power supply for Novena configurations, with a US plug. 100-240V input at 50/60Hz and 1.5A. 18V output at 3.47A. Branded with the Novena logo!


$4

Cable Clips (Set of 3)

Helping you keep your project tidy, these cable ties screw (M2.5 screws with washers - not included) into the Novena case "Peek Array". Domestic shipping included.

Credits

Sutajio Kosagi

Sutajio Ko-usagi supports and produces open hardware products designed by bunnie and xobs.


bunnie

Hardware

Sean Cross

Software


Mottweiler Studio

Heirloom laptop design and fabrication

AQS Inc.

Contract Manufacturer

Monstro

Video Editing

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