Welcome to the shop! Since our last update we've been hard at work working through issues with the sensors in our motors and preparing the shop for full production.
The ZBoard Shop:
Since our first Kickstarter Project we have completed all final production assembly of the ZBoard at our shop in Northern California. We've built thousands of boards here over the past three years and have been consistently adjusting and optimizing our processes and layout.
This video will give you a brief look at where we spend our days and nights:
Just to be clear, we are not in full production of ZBoard 2 yet but we have been working to get a head start in every way imaginable. Here are a few highlights of the pre-production and final R&D debugging we have been busy with:
Trucks and Wheels:
Trucks have been assembled
Motor arms have been secured to rear trucks
Bearings have been installed in wheels
Wheels have been installed onto trucks, complete with an initial spin test
Charge ports have been installed in battery boxes
Motor plugs have been installed in battery boxes
Several thousand other wiring harnesses including those for the footpads, LEDs, and on/off switches have been ordered and installed.
We started prepping decks for assembly this week. On the schedule we have:
Sort decks between Pearl and Blue models
Install deck foam (this sits between the battery box and deck to reduce vibration and keep water and dirt out)
Install power switches
We've received and wired up hundreds of battery packs. We have batteries in stock and ready to go for all Indiegogo backers and more are on the way.
In our previous update we discussed our new design for our LED risers and lenses. We've now received these from our manufacturer and they came out fantastic!
The new lenses are clearer and more robust than the previous designs and the internal walls of the housings are stronger and allow more room for wiring, while also creating a better seal against dirt and water. The rear lens is now tinted red to maximize visibility during the day and more broadly diffuse red light at night.
Check out their progress from CAD to production:
Most of our time this month has been spent analyzing, adjusting, and testing our motors and controller firmware.
As discussed in our previous updates, the core issue delaying the Z2 right now is the occasionally jerky ride caused by hall sensor noise inside the motors.
Each motor has three precisely placed and tuned internal hall sensors. Their role is to detect the changing magnetic fields caused by the permanent magnets attached to the spinning motor, and feed this information into our speed controller's firmware to determine motor speed and direction. The motor controller can only provide a consistently smooth ride with "clean" hall sensor signals. The issue we've been tackling is that our hall sensors have occasionally been having "false readings" where they incorrectly sense the constantly changing magnetic field produced by the motor stator's electromagnets, introducing noise in the hall sensor data. Bad, noisy data leads to jerkiness in the ride.
We've determined two main approaches to fixing these hall sensor magnetic field interference issues and we are pursuing both: mechanical and software.
Mechanical Motor Fixes:
This is the simpler approach of the two listed here. In order to reduce the amount that the magnetic fields picked up by the hall sensors, we have moved the hall sensors (and permanent magnets on the motors) further from the electromagnet. This has been a lot of work as it has required us to prototype alongside our manufacturers to design new motors, and we are finishing our fourth revision of the design since October, complete with sample production runs. This is a time consuming process but the we’ve learned and made tangible improvements on each version, so the results have been very promising.
Firmware Motor Fixes:
This more complex approach has involved designing a unique noise suppression scheme in our software to amplify the readings from the permanent magnets while identifying and suppressing the readings from the electromagnet. This software has to be very carefully designed to ensure it can execute extremely quickly.
We've spent the past few months aggressively pursuing both of the fixes described above and have made massive strides towards solving the jerkiness issues once and for all. Right now the boards are running smoother than ever but the motor and control algorithm still need more refinement before we can begin shipping.
As we are continuing to work to finalize the motor's sensor layout, we still can't announce an exact shipping schedule just yet. Right now we're still planning to begin shipping in January, but rest assured that all of the pre-production work we've completed will help us ramp up even faster than previously planned once it begins.
As always, we sincerely appreciate your patience. Without you there would be no ZBoard.