Production progress: 250 units

Today we started producing the first 250 of our 500 initial production batch at Saline Lectronics, a contract manufacturing company out of Saline MI.  No major hiccups, though we had one or two LEDs which were switched and a filter which was incorrectly sized, but those are fixable in the next day.  Luckily we found them after the first 30 units, and not after the first 500 🙂

We spent most of today prepping the case itself (as you can see in the picture), and did a dry run of a single unit through the entire process (from assembly to calibration) to ensure we had everything we needed.  Bluetooth continues to be challenging (connecting mostly), and it’s now my least favorite communication standard by far!  But once you get it connected once it gets easier after that.

Expect to see more updates in the next few days as we continue to move forward.  The current estimated ship date is March 3rd.  If there are problems or setbacks I will update you as soon as they happen.

Thanks,

Greg

Production Update

I was hoping to have more specific information for you guys before creating this post, but we need to provide an update either way.  Here’s the update:

  • The bluetooth module was mis-shipped again (yep, not kidding).  So we managed to find a local supplier.  This time we confirmed it’s the right part by ordering it and installing and testing it first.  The expected delivery date for the full quantity we need is Feb 10th.
  • We are waiting on a response from the factory on when we fit into their schedule once those modules are delivered.  We have been planning on late January, so they’ll need to adjust their schedule to get us in in mid February instead.
  • Everything else is in place to fulfill all of the pre-orders.  Specifically, we have:
    • All parts except the bluetooth module
    • Factory calibration process for each device
    • Factory Assembly instructions
    • Other packaging (instructions, box, etc.)
    • Confirmed precision and range of key measurements on a a subset of 10 – 15 devices
    • Updated website and android app

As soon as we begin manufacturing, I’ll update the blog again with details, progress and pictures.

Thanks everyone for your patience and support.

Validation of MultispeQ v1.0 – Chlorophyll, thickness, PAR

We have been validating the 10 – 15 MultispeQ v1.0 devices we received from the factory.  It’s going extremely well, in some ways better than I had imagined, and I want to share our results:

Relative Chlorophyll (SPAD)

  • The MultispeQ relative chlorophyll correlates well to the industry standard Minolta SPAD 502+ (Minolta = MultispeQ * 1 – .93, r2 = .987, using 11 devices and 68 measurements).
  • Validation was performed on Ficus, Basil, Banana Tree of varying thickness (.07 – .62mm) and greenness levels (Minolta SPAD values from 24.5 – 60.8).
  • Very thick (aloe) or very small leaves may require adjustments to measure consistently, but the measurement range is similar to the Minolta SPAD 502+.

Selection_999(121).png

Keep reading! Link to the full results below
https://photosynq.org/projects/arrakis-relative-chlorophyll/results

Leaf Thickness

  • The MultispeQ leaf thickness is an accurate (thickness = multispeqThickness * 99 + .01, across 11 devices and 209 measurements), inexpensive, and simple field based leaf thickness measurement.
  • Strong magnets or large pieces of metal close to the device can impact thickness calibration.
  • Leaf veins should be avoided when clamping if a very accurate leaf thickness measurement is desired.

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Keep reading! Link to the full results below
https://photosynq.org/projects/arrakis-leaf-thickness-and-compass-test/results

Ambient PAR

  • The MultispeQ ambient PAR correlates well to a LiCOR LI-250A PAR meter (LiCOR = MultispeQ * 0.95 + 3.99, r2 = .996, using 13 devices with 206 measurements). Devices showed some offsets from the actual PAR, but the noise at any given light level for each device is relatively low (high r2).
  • Validation included measurements in different spectral conditions: cloudy day, sunny day, LED, and fluorescent lights.
  • Additional spectral conditions (for example, inside a dense canopy) should be added to improve the quality of the validation.

Keep reading! Link to the full results below https://photosynq.org/projects/arrakis-par-confirmation/results

Ambient PAR to Leaf Chamber PAR

The MultispeQ has to replicate ambient PAR inside the measurement chamber.  This is quite tricky because there is some error in measuring ambient PAR and some error in converting ambient PAR to a defined LED intensity.  Those two errors combine to increase total error.

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  • The MultispeQ’s conversion of ambient PAR to LED light inside the leaf chamber is ActualPAR = 0.94*LEDPAR + 12.17 (r2 0.979) using 10 devices, across a range of spectral conditions and intensities, with a total of 253 measurements).
  • MultispeQ LED PAR tended to be shifted higher slightly compared to the actual ambient PAR.
  • Green, red, and blue LEDs (lights 1,2, and 4) correlated the best with the LiCOR LI-250A. The orange LED (light 3) performed the worst.

Keep reading! Link to the full results below https://photosynq.org/projects/arrakis-licor-par-actinic-licor/results

We’re going to continue to validate and check devices as we produce them, and post it through these same projects so everyone can see it.  Expect another update regarding production status in the next few days.

MultispeQ Beta publication in Royal Society for Open Science

Check out the first publication from the Kramer Lab about the MultispeQ Beta!

You will find comparisons to commercial devices, calibration, and use and application in the field in collaboration with Beta test partners.

It’s important to note that this is paper is about the MultispeQ Beta device, NOT the MultispeQ v1.0 which we’re working on currently.  The MultispeQ v1.0 will have its own publication.  While the v1.0 has many improved features, better quality, and higher accuracy, the v1.0 is otherwise pretty similar to the Beta and this publication is a useful starting point for understanding either device.

Congratulations to Sebastian, Dave, Dan, Marty, Robert, Isaac, Donghee, Mitch, Kevin, and Pro for their hard work on getting this paper out into the world and the many sponsers which supported us along the way.

 

First 20 MultispeQ devices delivered from factory!

We are continuing to make progress on shipping the MultispeQ v1.0.  We now have the first 20 devices from the factory.  These are exactly (!) like the ones we’ll ship to those who pre-ordered.  And we now have all parts in stock to complete all orders and then some.

We are now evaluating these initial 20 devices, adjusting our existing calibration routines, and field testing them to make they hit our high standards.  We did as much of the testing as possible prior to receiving these 20 devices on hand-built versions with 3D printed cases, but due to small changes in manufacturing it wasn’t possible to finish all calibration routines and test all tolerances. Here’s two such examples: 1) 3D printed cases are notoriously slopped in comparison to injection molded ones, so mechanical components needs to be retested (like the bushings for the clamp mechanism); 2) the case material (ABS) has a different light absorptivity than the 3D printed cases we used before, and that changes the absorption and chlorophyll content calibrations.

In addition, we’re fixing some good old fashioned errors, like we ordered a bluetooth module but were shipped the wrong one (currently being reordered), and the USB 3.0 port wasn’t soldered on the board completely, causing confusion during initial calibration (a new soldering routine is being developed by the factory).

These aren’t excuses, but hopefully give you a sense of the kind of troubleshooting and persistence that’s required to get something that works consistently 🙂

Once we’re comfortable with these 20 devices, we will manufacture the remaining devices and ship.  We have about 2 more weeks until the final parts we had to re-order come in, and it will probably take a few more weeks to complete the calibration and final testing before shipping.  But we won’t ship anything until we’re completely comfortable with the device and it’s efficacy.

We apologize for the long delays, we know it can be both nerve racking and frustrating.  We are getting there, and we think you’ll be happy with the result.  Thanks for your patience and support!

MultispeQ v1.0 Workshop

Learn the MultispeQ v1.0 and the PhotosynQ platform.

This is a 3 day intensive workshop to learn and share best practices, experimental design, data analysis, and hardware modification on devices in the PhotosynQ platform with a focus on the MultispeQ v1.0 device.

  • Dates: Oct 14 – 16, 2016
  • Location: East Lansing MI

We already have a great group of attendees with backgrounds in plant breeding, plant science, arboriculture, and citizen science from academia and the private sector.  Join us!

To keep the workshop small and personal, tickets are limited so sign up soon.

Sign up now!

MultispeQ Production Update

We have some updated numbers on manufacturing.  I’m providing these in an overabundance of sharing, but recognize (if you don’t already) that manufacturing numbers are never that tight.  Things come up.  Things break.  Shit happens.  So take this with a healthy dose of scepticism and a small dash of hope.  That’s what I do.

  1. All circuit board and case designs are finalized (ie no more changes!).
  2. Our mold maker estimates 3 weeks for case molds, + 1 week for testing
  3. Our printed circuit board manufacturer estimates 5 weeks for completed, tested, populated circuit boards.
  4. Other parts with long lead times are down to 8 business days (~2 weeks), including light guides and 2 rubber molded parts.
  5. From final assembly, It will take us at least a week to test a small batch (~20) of these devices to confirm our calibration routines are working as expected, and determine if the variation is within out specifications.
  6. From that point, it will take another week or two to produce, pack, and ship the first 500 devices.
  7. Our software (desktop app, android app, and website) are working with the new device, so no limitations there.

What does this all mean?  It means we are at a minimum 6 weeks to shipping devices.   Argh…

It’s not all gloom and doom though.  Next post I’m going to show our progress, how quickly you can take measurements, and how effective those measurements can be.  It’s exciting stuff.  Stay tuned.

– Greg

PhotosynQ in the news: Malawi

This is a nice story about the potential for collaborative plant research in Malawi, our partners, and the kinds of connections that form in large open research groups.

link: https://prl.natsci.msu.edu/news-and-events/news/photosynq-helping-malawian-farmers-increase-yields/

More Production Delays

Well, it’s July and you still don’t have units.  That’s our fault, we’re learning as we go and you’re the one who is impacted by that process, and we’re sorry.  We have tested several complete working prototype V1.0 devices in the field, thousands of measurements, and they work great (almost better than expected), and I think you’re really going to like them.  So that’s a plus.  But if devices aren’t in your hands when you need them this doesn’t amount to a hill of beans.

Right now, we are still at a minimum a month away, probably more.  We’re doing everything we can to speed up the process – that includes 1) rush ordering circuit boards, 2) working directly with (ie setting up shop at) the manufacturer to try to reduce lag time to troubleshoot questions about the circuit board, 3) and ordering/preparing everything we possibly can before we have final circuit boards are completed.

We’ve been collecting a lot of data here on test plots, and we’ll be sharing what we see so far soon.  I hope this will give you peace of mind – it certainly does for me 🙂

We’re working really hard to get these things out, and we really appreciate your patience and support,

Greg

 

 

PhotosynQ software features + fixes

Lots of software changes and improvements, and more on the way.  Here’s a list of what’s going on.

Creating a project has changed!

  • First, we completely revamped how you create a new project.  We’ve consolidated the photosynthesis measurements and chlorophyll content measurement into the same protocol to make it easier to find and order.  This new protocol is called “Leaf Photosynthesis” – please use it!  For existing users – NOTE!  Please use the new protocol, but if you absolutely need to find the old protocols (The One v3.0 and Chlorophyll Content III or any others) you can always go to the ‘advanced’ screen for the old interface.
We combined the old protocols together into a single protocol which measures chlorophyll content and all other photosynthesis parameters.
We combined the old protocols together into a single protocol which measures chlorophyll content and all other photosynthesis parameters.
  • You email invite people  to join your project as collaborators or administrators, and have multiple administrators to share the workload of writing results or adding or editing questions.
Send email invites for collaborators, and add administrators so you can share the project-creation workload!
Send email invites for collaborators, and add administrators so you can share the project-creation workload!
  • You can add multiple images to your project and higher quality descriptions.  And there’s tags and categories so other like-minded people can find you and you find them.
Added Categories to more easily find cool projects and protocols
Added Categories to more easily find cool projects and protocols

 

  • We found that directions was underused, so we removed the directions box.  Don’t worry, we’re going to put directions back in later in a much more useful form, but for now if you have directions for collaborators put that in the “Descriptions” box.

 

Android App bugs fixed + new features

The android app (to be released next week) also has some updates. An improved data display screen, better bluetooth connection screens, and a new history feature.  History keeps track of every data point you have collected, so you can identify mislabelled measurements and track your progress through the field.  In the “settings” tab, you can set the app to wait before sending the measurements to the cloud – giving you the chance to delete bad or mislabelled measurements at the end of a day of collecting data.  Once your confident the data is correct and you’ve remeasured if necessary, you can push the data to the cloud.  No more spending months trying to track mistakes by data collectors you can’t contact anymore!

Bigger, cleaner buttons, history function to ensure your data is correct before pushing to the cloud, and save images + notes to any uploaded data point on the fly.
Bigger, cleaner buttons, history function to ensure your data is correct before pushing to the cloud, and save images + notes to any uploaded data point on the fly.

Finally, both apps now automatically stay up-to-date with the website, so no more syncing when you change a project or protocol!  The entire platform should be up to date, all the time – ensuring that as you and other project partners make improvements everyone data, projects, protocols, and discussions are current.

We have a lot of additional news on the hardware front, but I’m waiting for more data to come in before posting about it – so expect that soon.