The video shows the latest Flipper Zero sample. The case is milled, that is, cut from a piece of plastic on CNC and then painted. The final version will be injection molded with color premixed inside the plastic grains. But the final device will look exactly like this. The Flipper has gotten slightly bigger due to two additional PCBs inside.
Next, we'll talk about the current project status, tasks and problems, upcoming manufacturing roadmap and access to the pledge manager.
We'll be honest: we won't be able to ship Flippers to all backers in February. The devices will be produced gradually, starting with a very small batches and gradually increasing in volume to reduce the risk of having any defects. We really want to make a cool product that is perfect in every aspect from mechanics to electronics. Any mistake in a large batch will be fatal and it will be impossible to withdraw.
Given the huge expectations of our backers, we simply cannot afford to release an unfinished device. We will gradually produce and ship small batches to friendly developers and those who applied to the early adopters program. These people will act as beta testers, will install new firmware versions and fill the bug reports. But before you apply into an early adopters, keep in mind that you might end up with a device that has some serious bugs.
We expect the first small batch to contain defects in mechanics and electronics, which will become apparent after a period of use. For example, after a month of usage, buttons on the joystick may stuck occasionally, a USB port or, for example, iButton pogo-pins could break out. We will of course run automated tests, but they do not cover all potential problems that may arise. Therefore, we mark such batches as high risk. By the end of spring, we expect to have a stable mass production of fully tested devices.
Early Adopters Program
If you're willing to take the risk to get Flipper early, sign up for the Early Adopters Program. You should be aware that you may face mechanical defects and other problems. You can apply here (only available to Kickstarter backers).
Keep in mind that the firmware is now very unstable at the moment: it has a lot of bugs, many features are yet to be completed, the graphical interface for some features is not ready, and they have to be launched from the console without displaying them on the screen. Every day we release a new firmware builds and all beta testers will have to constantly update and test them.
The firmware repository on Github will be open by the time there are enough developers with Flippers on hand to contribute to the firmware code. We plan to intensively support the firmware for at least 2 years after the release of Flipper, so we prepare all backers in advance that when you receive the device, not all features may work there. These features will be added over time in firmware updates.
Pledge Manager Launch
Within a few days, we will open access to the pledge manager, where you'll be able to specify the shipping address and pay for delivery, select the case color and add more Flippers to an existing order. It will also be possible to add a silicone case and special development modules to the order. Now we are finishing the shipping service API integration to automatically calculate taxes and shipping costs depending on the weight of the parcel.
An invite with access to the pledge manager will be sent to your email address, which you set on the Kickstarter profile, and to your Kickstarter inbox. Do not be afraid to miss the letter, the system will keep reminding you about it until you complete all the steps. Those backers who don't complete the survey within a month will be notified separately.
Hardware development was our top priority because hardware, unlike firmware, cannot be upgraded once released and shipped to the users. Any flaw here would be fatal.
Now we are finishing the antennas fine-tuning, tweaking the component values and eliminating minor roughness. It remains to test Flipper with extreme conditions like temperature drops, vibration, shock, and more. In general, we can say that the hardware design is complete. Now we only make minor corrections that are requested by the certifying laboratory and the factory.
Sub-1 GHz Wideband Antenna Fine-tuning
This is the most challenging subsystem for us. The 300-900 MHz range support just on a single transceiver is a very difficult task. We use a circuit with three (!) switching radio paths and our own antenna design. The complexity of such a circuit is that it must pass all certification standards (FCC, EC and others), such as parasitic harmonics, frequency deviations, etc.
Now we are adjusting the characteristics of the antenna feed system to the rules and standards of the certification laboratory. This is a time-consuming process.
In order to officially import the device into the EU and the US and sell it in stores like Amazon, we need to obtain a certificate of RF compliance in those countries. The fact is that for different countries these standards are different, and we need to make several different versions of devices that correspond to different standards. These are legal tasks that are far from development and production, but they take time and we cannot avoid them. They also complicate logistics as we must make several different device versions with different SKUs for each region. (Regional differences will only be at the firmware level)
|Country||Allowed bands (MHz)||Power|
|EU/UK||433.040 - 434.790 MHz||10 mW|
|865 - 868 MHz||25 mW|
|USA||315 MHz||75.62 dBuV/m|
|433 MHz||80.79 dBuV/m|
|Japan||312 - 315.25 MHz||25 uW|
|Russia||433.075 - 434.79 MHz 866 - 868, 868.15 - 868.55, 868.7 - 869.2 MHz||10 mW|
The preparation for body molding and assembly consists of dozens of very small fixes. Now we are coordinating with the factory on all production details. It is necessary to take into account how the part will be removed from the mold, where the plastic injection points will be and what type of molding is optimal for each part.
The factory makes adjustments, calculates material stress, cooling rates, runner positions, etc. The difficulty with this process is that any mechanics redesign involves revising the position of the electronics inside and affects the assembly process. Therefore, even a 0.1mm shift of the stiffeners can often lead to changes in the PCB outline. This is a time-consuming process as it requires the participation of all teams at once.
Three factories are involved in production, and each of them sets its own requirements. Now we are setting up the assembly and testing flow at every stage.
The entire assembly process has a strict time requirements, each step, each part and test process should fit into scheduled time interval. Should one step take longer, it won't be possible to produce tens of thousands of devices in a controllable way. Currently the assembly of one Flipper along with testing and firmware flashing must take no longer than 420 seconds!
We prepare the process and pre-assembled parts of the device to fit in this time. This is what the assembly instructions look like.
First, there is an intermediate assembly of individual modules, for example an infrared window is soldered to the top case cover. To do this, plastic pin is melted with a special soldering iron.
The springs and joystick buttons are installed in the screen overlay. This element consists of 8 parts: a snap, 3 springs, 3 buttons (center, big circle, back button), status LED light guide.
The main PCB connects to the screen overlay with joystick and button, and latches to the PCBs to form a ready for assembly module.
An iButton PCB, a battery, a vibration motor are installed in the carcass.
An NFC board is attached to the carcass and secured with latches.
In total, the assembly consists of 20 steps, which ends with the installation of the bottom cover. Then the device is sent for firmware flashing and testing.
Most of the parts which Flipper consists of are serial components ordered from suppliers. But there are a few electronic components that are custom made specifically for Flipper. This requires placing an order for the production of each component with a solid manufacturer, communicate on details and agreements.
Sub-1 GHz Wideband Antenna
The antenna we need cannot simply be bought, so we order the winding of this wire antenna specially according to our drawings. It should simultaneously work well on all the ranges from 300 to 900 MHz and at the same time fit into our case. Now we are checking that the manufactured antennas really meet our requirements.
iButton Pad Pogo-pin
For the iButton pad, we use a pin of a non-standard length, so we had to order its production separately.
10-pin GPIO Header
This component is also non-standard and is produced for us. For prototypes, we used a combination of two headers with 8 pins and 2 pins, which is not suitable for the final device. Finding a manufacturer of good headers was not easy.
We are very concerned about final shipping date postponement, but we hope you can understand it. This is the most important project of our entire life for many of us, that's why we try our best to meet your highest expectations. The fear of releasing bad product and disappointing you is our main motivation now.