In Part 1 of our August Update we discussed the feedback we've been receiving from our Beta Testing Round 2 riders. In this update we'll go into:
1) How we are fixing the issues that have been identified
2) The latest in our conversations with international logistics partners
3) Delivery timelines going forward
Fixing the Remaining Issues
Below we'll go into each of the main issues discussed in the last update, and how we're working to fix them.
Board Changing Into Eco Mode Unintentionally
Some riders felt that the board would either slow down while riding, or would always be in the slower, less powerful "Eco" mode every time they turned it on, regardless of whether it was in "Normal" or "Expert" mode when they turned it off. Thanks to everyone who highlighted this issue for us.
We determined that this bug was related to incorrectly coded "save states" where the board's software was accidentally skipping lines of code during shut down and occasionally resetting to the "factory defaults," which is set to Eco, every time it was turned on.
We've built in additional redundancy to the "save states" into the latest software build and we believe that the new setup will both fix not only the software mode, but also the battery meter issues.
Battery Meter Faults
As you know the ZBoard 2's battery meter - a colored LED ring around the on/off button - is intended to work the following way:
Solid Blue Light = 50% - 100% Charged
Blinking Blue Light = 25% - 49% Charged
Solid Red Light = 10% - 24% Charged
Blinking Red Light = 0% - 9% Charged
Some riders observed their battery running out when the board's battery meter was blinking blue - an obvious sign of a bug.
Upon analysis, this was a result of the same "save states" bug discussed above. Instead of properly saving the software tuning mode and remaining battery charge on shut down, the board would occasionally revert back to the "factory settings," which included a full charge. The result was that sometimes even if you turned your board on with 45% battery remaining, it would illuminate as solid blue.
This bug has been addressed in the latest build.
Drive Train Skips and Squeaks
Certain test riders reported odd sounding belt skips or squeaks from their boards. We have analyzed some of these boards in-house and have implemented a new process which improves how we mount the motor arm to the rear hanger.
If this issue continues in the more recent Beta Round 2 boards that we've sent out, we are discussing the possibility of using a new style of tooth on our drive gear, belt and drive wheel.
Added Friction During Coasting
Some test riders told us that the board's coasting felt inconsistent, and occasionally led to too much friction. The ZBoard firmware's goal during coasting is to keep the controller's power stage components on at a low, nearly un-noticeable level, until you reach a very slow speed, when they turn off. You may be asking - "Why not just turn off the power completely, allowing for a "true" coast?"
The answer has to do with restarting the controller. If the board is moving at speed when the controller's power stage is switched from "completely off" and into action, there is a slight delay and a slight but noticeable jerk from a large spike in current to “match” the motor’s speed before accelerating. .
Previously the low level of power the motor received during coasting was time-based. We have improved the firmware to make this speed-based with an offset and we've been testing different offsets to make sure it feels just right.
Increasing Smoothness of Braking
We have reduced the overall variability of the braking, particularly at higher speeds, and replaced it with a more consistent, more predictable, smoother brake. The brake now comes in more quickly, but with a softer ramp. The braking parameters in all modes have been brought closer together, so it engages more predictably and controllably.
As we discussed in the last update, when ride testing our motors we have discovered more variability than expected. Since then we have further clarified our specifications with our supplier and received a new, small batch of motors that better adhere to them. We've approved a larger production run to ensure our supplier can now achieve the needed accuracy and consistency.
Continuing to Ship Beta Round 2
We've continued to ship boards from Beta Round 2 this week and by the end of the day nearly everyone should have received their board or their tracking number. The remaining units will ship next week.
Whats Next: Beta 2.1
In the next 10 days we will be requesting all Beta Round 2 riders to send their boards back into our shop to be updated to Beta Round 2.1, which includes the fixes discussed above, along with a few others that we still have in the works.
Our intention with Beta 2.1 to have all issues fixed, and for it to be identical to the production firmware.
While making the improvements listed above we've also continued dialogues with our international fulfillment partners. We've passed along your addresses and we are waiting on their recommendations regarding fees, customs, taxes, duties, declarations, and most importantly, timelines.
This is a complex web that we are untangling but we are making progress.
Delivery Schedule Moving Forward
As discussed above, certain slight adjustments still need to be made before we can begin shipping ZBoards with the Beta 2.1 firmware. Also we need boards with this firmware to be ridden and pounded on in the field, to ensure no other issues arise.
With these factors in mind the new delivery schedule is as follows:
Sending the beta board back is optional for beta testers, but highly recommended.
Our Co-Founder Ben will be chatting with customers on our website on Friday 8/26 from 10AM - Noon. To chat come to our site and click the "Chat with Us" button in the bottom right corner.
Beta Testers in Action
We love seeing pictures and videos from our test riders in the field - check out some of the latest:
From the Founders
We recognize that this process has been long and frustrating. Your passion and patience have kept us going, and we're very excited for how well the board is riding today and the improvements in the works for next week.
Thanks as always for your support. We can't wait to get you on your ZBoard.
Ben, Geoff, and the ZBoard Team
PS - Thanks to beta testers Angel and Peter for their pictures that were featured in this update. To have your pictures or videos featured make sure to send them in to the beta email address.