Since our last update we've been making progress on our speed controllers, firmware, and wiring harnesses, all getting us closer to shipping our Pre-Production Run of ZBoards.
We received the production samples of our speed controller on Wednesday. They passed visual and initial functional testing on the bench, and we've begun field testing them. These speed controllers were designed with the previous, hand-wound motor samples in mind and we're discovered that they require some very minor tweaks to optimize them for the more powerful machine-wound motors. This is most evident during regenerative braking as the more powerful motors cause an increased inrush of current, meaning we need to boost the ratings of certain components on the speed controller. We're currently nailing down these slight modifications to the spec, at which time we'll be able to approve production which is scheduled to take approximately two weeks.
We are still making firmware adjustments to ensure the new, slightly stronger motors work perfectly. We projected these adjustments would primarily be tweaks to variable values, but as we've been testing, a few deep dives into the code have been needed to fix certain bugs and optimize performance. Check out the speed and acceleration we’re now getting out of the new motor - the Z2 absolutely blows the Z1 away in this drag race:
Since our last update, we’ve written several thousand more lines of code to build the foundation for precisely timed control of transitions between acceleration, coasting, braking, and more. Perfecting the braking has been difficult because the magnets on this motor are so strong that we actually have to soften the engagement and ramp of the regenerative braking. There are a number of techniques we’ve implemented for the best possible braking feel and performance at varying speeds, strengths, and riding conditions.
Tuning, testing, and debugging both on our bench dynamometer and in the field have been our main focus over the last two weeks and remain the most critical element to ensure a smooth, safe, and reliable ride.
We've spent many hours putting hundreds of miles on our test boards with test rides and we've been consistently hitting 16+ miles on the Z2 Blue and 24+ miles on the Z2 Pearl when optimizing for range (smooth, flat surfaces, with moderate speed and acceleration.
Around the Shop:
While the firmware and speed controller layout have been our main focuses, we've also been working to get ahead on production as much as possible by completing several sub-assemblies.
The ZBoard 2 has a rather complex wiring diagram for reading inputs, powering headlights and tail lights, displaying battery state, and driving and sensing the brushless motor. Recent changes to the motor and controller required some adjustment to the harnesses, which are nearly complete. These harnesses are bundled and installed in the ZBoard 2 battery box along with the high-output lithium ion battery and motor controller.
These assembly steps are examples of the many we’ve taken to stage the ZBoard 2 production line for a quick and seamless production process once the first boards begin shipping.
Each footpad is made up of a base, sensor, wiring harness, foam piece, cover, and grip tape. These are a huge leap forward from the ZBoard 1 footpads and they're really critical to how well the Z2 rides.
The Z2's battery box includes a heat sink, the motor connector, and the charge port. These have all been installed and are ready for production.
Verifying Orders on our Website:
We've sent emails to the first 65 domestic pre-orderers which will make up the Pre-Production Run. We are working towards verifying all addresses and order contents through a process on our website.
As we progress from the Pre-Production Run to the First Manufacturing Run, each backer will receive an email which details the process to verify your order. So far we have been sending customers with custom links to our website and we'll let you know if we continue with that process.
Note: Previously we had stated that the Pre-Production Run would be 100 units. We have slightly reduced this number as several motors have been selected for hardware testing and firmware tweaking, and some others did not pass our visual inspections. The additional boards will be added to the batch to immediately follow.
Note: Many of you have received emails with a link to a survey requesting your address information. This is not the same as the order confirmation email and its purpose is for us to get more data regarding how many domestic vs. international orders you have. If you've received one of these emails, you'll get another email with order confirmation directions later in the future.
Our Co-Founder Ben will be chatting with customers on our website on Friday from 9AM - 11AM on Friday if you have any questions about your order or recent progress.
Shipping Schedule Moving Forward
We believe we have the final tuning needs mapped out and are confident in their timely completion. Our initial production shipment of speed controllers will also be complete in approximately 2 weeks. With these factors in mind we hope to ship the Pre-Production Run of 65 boards during the end of March or early April.
We will be receiving 100-200 additional production motors per week, beginning approximately two weeks after the first boards ship. To provide this rapid turnaround, we will be paying for air shipping from our motor supplier rather than further delay the delivery schedule to ship by traditional sea freight.
All these things considered, we are planning to begin shipping pre-orders in April, a couple weeks after the Pre-Production Run, and continuing into late May.
We know that waiting is tough and we appreciate your continued patience and support. The board is making huge strides and its almost to the level we know it can be. We can't wait to get you riding.