First batch of 24 finished MultispeQs!

Hi everyone – it’s been about 3 weeks working here at Saline Lectronics to get the initial build of 250 MultispeQs underway.  There have been lots of ups and downs, but we finally got the motor running.

We can now make about 24 units per day, which means we can fulfill the initial 250 in about 11 working days.  Here are some pictures of the first 24, ready to be put in a box.

Calibrated, validated devices ready to be boxed

Thank you so much Jared, Paul, Jan, Cathy and everyone else at Lectronics for pushing through and getting 250 units through completion… it would probably surprise people how much we had to touch every single one of these devices to get them out into the world.  Hopefully the next 250 are easier than the first 250 🙂

There’s always lots of problems that need to be fixed…

MultispeQ Assembly and how the sausage gets made

For the manufacturing uninitiated, a manufacturing facility can be pretty impressive. Robots, half-million dollar pick-and-place machines and assembly lines with people diligently working on making stuff produce a lot of ‘ooohs’ and ‘aaahs’.

But, automation is only part of the story. There is a lot of decision-making and little details to make things actually work. Our first week in manufacturing has had some setbacks with a few misplaced parts and similar issues, but our manufacturing partner has beefed up their support and Sean, Dan and I have working side by side with them.  We’re refining our production process and ironing out errors.  In all, we are still making decent time.

All production processes look different, but here’s a peek at ours:

1) Pre-assemble case. Many parts are more efficiently pre-assembled in bulk – placing the small light-blocking o-rings in the main case, for example, or installing the battery. These pre-assembly steps are largely done for all 500 units, so once circuit boards are ready the device will snap together pretty quickly.

Pre-assembled components of the MultispeQ case.

2) Assemble + test circuit boards. The 2 circuit boards are connected, bluetooth and DACs are configured, EEPROM (memory) is zeroed out and lights are tested.

connecting and testing circuit boards.

3) Place boards in case. Circuit boards are installed in the case. The PAR sensor, which contains several very small parts which fit precisely around the TCS light sensor, is assembled at this time as well.

Some very small parts related to the PAR sensor which is put in during this phase.

4) Calibrate + validate.  We have 7 individual calibration steps, as well as a final validation on 3 different plants of varying leaf colors and thicknesses.  All of this data is saved to the website and you (the user) can follow up on your devices factory calibration (if you want).

undergoing PAR calibration!
PAR calibration setup

5) Pack and ship.  Now the final devices are packed in their boxes and shipped to labs around the world.

The box the MultispeQ is shipped in.

As of today (Thursday), we have almost all of the pre-assembly work done, and are in phases (2) and (3) above.  Most of next week will be spent calibrating devices and boxing them up to ship.

We’ll keep you in the loop as we go.

– Greg

Landing page header

PhotosynQ | Website Update

As we get ready to release the MultispeQ v1.0 we have been working hard in the background to provide an improved user experience. This includes visible changes, as well as a lot of changes in the background. Over the last couple of months we have updated the website, adding and updating features. Here is a brief summary of the biggest changes to https://photosynq.org.

1. Search

Now you can search not only through Projects, but also through Protocols, Macros, Discussions and Users. The searchable content is scored, so we can hopefully provide more relevant search results at the top of the list for you.
Further you can filter your search results for Projects, Protocols and Macros by their associated category.
Go to https://photosynq.org/search to try it out.

2. Discover

If you are new to PhotosynQ or you don’t know what to search for, take a look at the improved Discover page. Now you can browse Projects, Protocols, Macros and Users, and filter the results by category.
Go to https://photosynq.org/discover and get inspired by the work of others.

3. Help Getting Started

We have added a lot of content that we hope will help users get started with PhotosynQ and collect quality data. This content includes new and updated tutorials, a help center, and frequently asked questions.

A. Tutorials

Over the summer we started to make some new tutorial videos, helping you to get started with the platform and the new MultispeQ v1.0 instrument. We added some advanced tutorials on how to create a measurement Protocol, a Macro and how to do a basic analysis outside the platform, using R. Also, check out the ‘further information’ sidebar for downloadable pdf tutorials.
Go to https://photosynq.org/tutorials to see what we recorded for you.

B. Help Center

Along with providing more detailed tutorials, we have added a new help center that will guide you through: managing your account settings, creating a project, viewing your data, creating and editing protocols and macro’s and much more. We have also moved the blog over to the ‘learn more’ tab of the menu bar and replaced it with a link to the help center.

Changes in the navigation menu

C. Frequently Asked Questions

We often get asked questions directly by email and not through the forum. Because of that, we have started a collection of the most frequent and pressing questions. Over time we will add more questions and answers. Go to https://photosynq.org/faq to check out what we have gathered so far.

4. Data Viewer

We worked on the Data Viewer, improving existing features and adding new ones including adding thresholds and adding custom data in addition to the measurements you have already submitted.

Plotting data in the data viewer

  1. Now you can use create plots with up to four dimensions, adding marker size and marker color. The second y-axis has proven to be less helpful has been removed.
  2. Thresholds allow you to look into a subset of data, after you have filtered your dataset into different series. You can select thresholds for one or multiple parameters.
  3. The parameters are now sorted into Primary Parameters, Project Questions, Custom Parameters (if available) and Advanced Parameters, making it easier to find the parameter you are interested in among the many provided. Furthermore, this order of the parameters applies now to the columns in the spreadsheet view as well.
  4. New range sliders and a calendar are available to allow you to select a specific time and date range more precisely, especially when you have long term projects, or a lot of data over a short period of time.
  5. If you are looking at a single measurement, you can now easily navigate to the next / previous one. The small map indicating the measurement location now shows a bigger section with topography as well as latitude and longitude.
  6. New data types can be used, allowing you to display arrays as sparklines when you are looking at a single measurement. Furthermore, colors can now be defined as hexadecimal, RGB and RGBa, allowing you to use them as coloration in your plots or for your map.

5. Additional Data

Some experiments are going beyond data collection in the field with the MultispeQ or other instruments. Now you can add more information to each measurement after you took them (e.g. yield), as long as you are the project lead. This data is kept separate from the original measurements and can be altered at any time, in case you want to change, remove or add information.

additional data upload

6. User Activity

Previously, your user profile mainly presented a number of stats about your activity on PhotosynQ and the Projects you are involved in, either as a Project Lead or a Collaborator. Now we have an Activity feed, which displays the last 100 important events relevant to you on PhotosynQ. You can see if others contributed to your Project, if somebody posted a comment or question to one of the Projects you are involved in and of course everything you did, so you can more easily navigate to what is important for your workflow.

7. In the Background

One of the biggest changes is the work done in the background. Before the update, the original data for a Project was loaded into the Data Viewer and processed on your computer. Now, we do this step on our server and send you only the results from the calculations. As a result, the amount of data sent to you is reduced to 10–15% of its original size, allowing faster access to Project results.
Updating the calculations for a parameter? No problem, since your data gets re-analyzed when you view it after the changes, so you are always up to date.

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.

undergoing PAR calibration!

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+.

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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.