Month: January 2013

Watching the line

[Guest post by Jake]

As all the manufacturing staff were packing up ready to head home for the evening, 5 of us stood huddled around a monitor watching a tiny red line creep up the screen.  The moment we saw the line level out, smiles broke out across our faces. The line represented the temperature level for the LIFX bulb under simulation testing and we had come in under the cap.

The day started with breakfast in the hotel dining room as the 3 of us ran over what we needed to achieve for the day.  Then it was off to the factory to look at the simulation tests from the heat sinks.  Under simulated conditions the bulb was still running a little hot and required some adjustments to get it down to the required level.  Whilst Marc met with the power supply team, Phil and I ran through all the different possibilities for bringing the temperature down.

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Chen (the CAD designer) dragged him computer into the meeting room for the afternoon so we could tune the design as we went along. The solution? We ended up slightly modifying the design to increase the size of the heat sink, relative to the enclosure.

We ended the day on a bit of a high and looking forward to more of the same tomorrow.

High Tech Day

We had a very productive day full of high tech. We “touched and felt” the first factory prototype of the outer casing this morning and spent an hour reviewing the fine points of this design from both an aesthetic and technical point of view. We then set about making minor adjustments to the design from the decisions in our discussion and the factory CTO ran the latest CAD file through the thermal simulation test in Solid Works.

Overall it looks like we are going to achieve a very bright bulb, more than 800 lumens (fingers crossed). The LED head design layout has been finalized and sent away to be made into a production prototype. It should be back in 2 days time ready to put into the casing.

Marc’s working hard on putting programmable headers on the LIFX control board to send back to the team so we can create the firmware setup environment using the LIFX control boards. He’s also supervising the power supply LED driver functional board and helping Jacky layout the condensed version of the power supply ready for insertion into the bulb casing. (more…)

Marc (and the control boards) arrive.

Marc arrived last night and we all met together in the hotel room for morning coffee and a planning meeting for our day at the factory. We opened the meeting with our expectations and requirements for the week and got down to business. Marc broke off with Fellow and Jacky to talk PCB LED drivers while Jake and I went on a tour of the factory floor with John (factory owner) and Sophia. Jake’s been jealous that Marc and I got to wear the train driver hats on the last visit and finally he got his turn.

I was able to spend some time with John talking details about the current state of play and future of the LED industry. He’s had 23 years experience in the lighting industry and I was grateful he could share some of his insights with me.
The LIFX control boards arrived in finished form and we look forward to fitting them into the finished factory prototype by the end of the week.
We shared lunch with the team and left the factory so they could action the decisions and tasks we agreed on in the morning. There’s always a fine balance of meetings and discussions and implementation of the decisions. Sometimes it’s best to leave some space for others to get things done. I expect it’s going to be a big day tomorrow with plenty of action and machines making things. Can’t wait!! (more…)

Downtown Shenzhen

Jake and I headed into downtown Shenzhen. Out of the meeting yesterday I decided to get a few LED component supplies to give us some extra options when we begin making the factory prototype on Monday. These included a few types of RGB COB chips and a variety of different color temperature white LEDS. Once we found the LED market building and located the correct stall (one of about 600) we grabbed what we needed and checked out the rest of downtown Shenzhen.

Shenzhen is an electric city. A cross between modern China and a large scale manufacturing hub with a mash of western styled products and stores. Not hard to get lost in for a few hours. Managed to get a couple of local sim cards from China Mobile with 1GB of data for about $50US each and found a complete floor of a building with 60 high end hifi stores back to back. Audiophile heaven.

Now its back to the hotel to get some rest before a big day tomorrow. (more…)

First afternoon at the factory

Arrived at the factory at lunchtime and was met at the front desk by Sophia, the factory’s project coordinator. She said that we could start the meeting in half an hour when everyone was back from lunch and then offered to get me some McDonalds because I hadn’t had lunch. lol.

Meeting kicked off after lunch with a detailed discussion about how we are going to fit the power supply of such a bright bulb into the compact space inside the bulbs housing. “It’s a challenge” Jacky, the electronics lead engineer and director said “but we have some new methods we are working on to make sure the bulb will have the right amount of power so LIFX will be as bright as you want it be, Phil.” We then proceeded to talk about the details and judging by the ideas we discussed I can confirm these people are very clever and will utilize their years of experience making LED bulbs for some of the worlds leading brands to make sure LIFX is as bright as possible. (more…)

Off to Shenzhen

Left the office, got to the airport and boarded our flight to Hong Kong only to be stuck on the tarmac for three hours. Could have been annoying but Jake and I found there was plenty to talk about. Expectations, schedules, how the LIFX team is going, what’s happening in the world of start ups, the broken state of the education system, where do ideas come from and how collaboration improves a good idea, does Elon Musk really own an island? Kinda normal topics of conversation at LIFX when given a chance. (more…)