Slava Baranskyi by Slava Baranskyi

Petcube announces new shipping dates

Hardware is hard. With a heavy heart, we have to announce that due to the technical reasons Petcube shipping is delayed till the late summer. Nevertheless, this schedule lets us improve our product and make sure we deliver the best quality.

It all started with our engineers revealing a big concern that servo motors aren’t reliable enough and make too much noise while moving.

We spent many days and nights thinking this through and coming up the with the most sci-fi-ish solutions until the real magnetic platform was finally created. The main idea behind this complex system is that laser module has a stable position. And the beam is deflected with two mirrors while mirrors are carried by two plastic shoulders. Here’s the main part, the rotation of the shoulders is controlled with the position of the hammer which actually levitates in the magnetic field between two solenoids.

All of that above is meaning zero noise and much better reliability. This new system took us an extra month to develop and we genuinely believe that making a durable product is a bit better than meeting the deadline with a crappy one. Also, we couldn’t reveal the details of the process before we had it properly patented.

Unfortunately it was too soon to get excited over the PCB’s we have featured in one of the previous updates. Debugging those wasn’t too much fun. CPU was overheating, solenoids could use much more power to interact with hammers. We also burned 6 SD cards while attempting to stream the video through the camera module.

But the biggest bump we hit was the BSP (Board support package). Unfortunately our contractors provided us with inaccurate estimates and datasheets. At the moment we lack support, documentation and reference software for video h.264 encoding on the Alwinner processor. There are two ways to deal with it: either change the whole SOC (System on Chip) or write a better code ourselves for A13 Alwinner.

Another big concern is the pictures from the mass production type camera are not actually fulfilling our image quality needs. Now we are working towards finding a better solution and optimizing drivers to make sure that you see your furry friends just as beautiful as they are especially while rapidly moving.

All the tech details apart, we are pretty much sure there’s the only question that matters the most for you now and it sounds something like: “Where the heck is my Petcube?”

At the beginning of April things got much more complicated on the Engineering and Design Validation tests. That’s why we decided to inform you right away and just had to wait before we got the bad news confirmed. The worst thing is we depend on the software and drivers to finalise hardware design and start producing the tooling molds for body components.

Those are the reasons why delivery date shifts up to 3 months. Late summer 2014 is our new estimate. We are doing literally everything to minimize this time loss. We promise to use this time to polish every component and bring our beloved child called Petcube closer to perfection.

Despite all the bad news, there is a small bonus that we hope you’d like. Petcube now has a tripod mounting that lets you chose better locations for the better views. We’ve also got a major improvement of the camera angle control on its way and will let you know about how it goes soon.

We’ve always been 100% honest with you and starting from now this transparency becomes even a higher priority. We’ll stick to the regular updates to keep you in the loop about all our progress and we’ll do everything to beat the timing.