Production Notes06 Oct 2006 08:17 pm


It’s my first blog post here. My plan is to outline the current production situation at Cafe Electric and provide updates as they happen.

At this point I am building controllers ordered in February of 2006. Quite a backlog, I know. The good news is that all the major parts needed to fill the backlog are finally here in the shop; copper, silicon, custom made shunts, hard to get op-amps are all in stock ready for assembly and test. Today I am working on a large pile of Z2K controllers. Once those are built, I’ll be building Hairballs to match. With any luck (don’t hold me to it, it seems things often come up) they will be done by the end of this month (October). This will cover all Z2Ks ordered up to early September. After that, I’ll start on the backlog of Z1K orders.

My original plan included contracting out the simpler PC board stuffing to a local shop. Unfortunately the local assembly house wants a surprisingly large amount of money to build them. As a result, I’m stuffing the boards myself. If you know of a excellent assembly house in Oregon, I’d love to hear about it, but please, they need to be a “known good” place and in Oregon. It’s not worth my time for me to go into the extended evaluation routine involved with checking a new place out, and with my annual quantities of about one hundred units it just doesn’t make sense to send them overseas. In the end I’d rather sit down and solder than check out another questionable assembly house.

This week I started training a new assistant. So far everything looks good and I’m optimistic this will speed up production. Hopefully I’ll post more on this later.

Some people have come up with some well meaning suggestions such as Cafe Electric providing Zilla kits or having people come help solder for a weekend. Although I appreciate the concern, the truth is that I have considered these and many more options. I just laugh at the kit suggestions. I could probably offer kits at about twice the price of the controller fully built, and I would have to hire a couple more people to provide support to those valiantly trying to make it run while frustrated by all the smoke coming out. People don’t seem to get the fact that it takes months for me to teach someone to build these controllers, even one on one. It’s not particularly easy, it’s not simple like building a VCR or a laptop computer.

So, it’s the end of my first post this Friday. I’ll be doing some engineering over the weekend and then it’s back to production on Monday.

Oh, and this comment thing,,,, I have to approve them so don’t be offended if they never show up. I’m trying to build controllers here.

Be well, and thanks for your patience.

5 Responses to “Blog is up.”

  1. on 07 Oct 2006 at 12:36 pm Ken Koch

    Hi Oat. Thanks for keeping all of us informed. Your running blog is sure to cut down on phone traffic.

    I learned to solder starting at age 5. For a 65-year-old fart I can still solder pretty darn good. If I were retired right now I’d drive up and spend a week stuffing, soldering, and sweeping up for free…if it would help.

    Best regards,


  2. on 09 Oct 2006 at 4:39 pm slacy

    On , the Z1K-LV models are still listed as “Temporarily Unavailable”. Can you fill in the details around that: Are they now available, will the price be higher, and can I upgrade my order to an HV model for a sooner build time?

  3. on 11 Oct 2006 at 9:51 am Otmar

    Slacy, Assuming your order was placed before 8-23-06 then yours will be built in order. I am hopeful that we will not have to raise the price on the LV models (I hate doing that) and that they will all be built in order, but at this time I can’t guarantee that it will work that way for orders placed after August. In the meantime, I am still accepting requests for places in line for the LV models.

  4. on 08 Nov 2006 at 5:12 pm Ken Koch

    Hi, Oat.

    Do you have an estimated ship schedule for Z1K’s yet?


  5. on 13 Nov 2006 at 10:31 pm Otmar

    Hi Ken,
    No new schedule. My last blog entry describes the beginning of this months production problems that have kept me from building any new controllers. I’ll try to make a updated entry today, with projections.