If you’ve been following Little Printer’s progress closely, you’ll know about all the electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) testing we’ve been doing (see here and here). After many rounds of testing, tweaking and further testing, we’re finally in a position where Little Printer is ready. We’ve breezed through our in-house versions of the test, all previous obstacles overcome.
Next week we go for the official test, and we’re confident Little Printer will pass. However, all this extra testing has unfortunately impacted other elements of the supply chain, and we now expect to ship the first run in the last week of November.
We are very sorry for this significant delay.
We’re a small company launching our first product, but that’s no excuse, and we fully appreciate that some people who pre-ordered Little Printer may now wish to cancel those orders. If you’re in this position, you can get in touch with us, including your order number and the e-mail address you used when ordering. We’ll do the rest, and your payment will be returned within 72 hours. We have e-mailed everyone who placed a pre-order.
Apart from this hurdle, things are proceeding according to schedule. Little Printer body parts were picked up from the factory in China yesterday for shipping to the UK. Here’s they are, in boxes, on pallets, wrapped up and ready for collection.
Little Printer’s packaging, meanwhile, sits in our studio, boxed up and taking up lots of room. The instruction manual has been signed off and is at the printers.
Everything’s almost ready.
Which makes this delay all the more frustrating. And so we’ve all become a little obsessed with the testing process, poring over the pictures Nick and Andy bring back.
This first picture shows Andy in the anechoic chamber. The yellow antenna is listening to whatever is on the table (in this case the Bridge board). The table rotates and the antenna captures the radio frequency emissions generated. Andy’s changing cables in this shot — radio noise can come off the cables as well as the kit you’re testing so cable choice matters.
This next photo shows the test kit. The monitor shows what’s on the inside of the chamber (there are no windows, because windows don’t help when you’re screening from noise). The main interesting bit of kit is immediately to the left of the keyboard. It’s the spectrum analyser which captures the radiowaves and, well, analyses them. For testing purposes, Nick’s laptop contains the whole of BERG Cloud!
Here are the spectrum analyser plots. The red line shows horizontal polarity, the black line vertical (remember the antenna from earlier?). The diamond marker shows the peak. The aim is that it all has to be under the horizontal black line for consumer goods, and the horizontal blue line for industrial. Which it is!
Finally, electronics are susceptible to problems when they get zapped with static electricity, and the EU require that products should still work even if it conducts a charge from a person who’s been charged up with static themselves — if they’ve just taken a woolly jumper off, for instance, or rubbed their hair with a balloon. To make sure that Little Printer is OK over the course of its life, we had to repeatedly submit it to 8kV of charging and discharging to make sure it doesn’t get stuck in an unknown state. This is shown below.
So that’s where we’re at. We’ve tested and tested and tested, and we’re happy that Little Printer is ready to take on everything that can be thrown at it. We’re also confident about the tasks that remain, although this experience has taught us that there may still be a couple of unexpected hiccups en route to the finish line.
I’ll finish off by apologising for the shipping delay again. We’re delighted that so many people are coming on this ride with us — especially those who’ve placed pre-orders, whose feedback has been so appreciated — and we’re certain that the wait will be worth it.
—FL & AH