Manufacturing quality

I want to build tools that last a long time so I think a lot about quality. It pays to be specific on this topic—otherwise it’s just thoughts and prayers.

Initial production quotas were set below manufacturing capacity to allow more focus on quality. It allowed time to finish in-house automated testing tools including the custom tool below, unofficially called the Digimatic Cannon. It emulates a pair of Mitutoyo-compatible digital indicators, which allows each WA-1 to be tested with an external signal source. The Digimatic Cannon generates readings at four times the peak indicator data rate, which is designed to expose tolerance problems (circuits are more sensitive when run faster). Each WA-1 gets a few hours on the Digimatic Cannon with the data processed and streamed over Wifi and USB simultaneously for an end-to-end-to-end test at impossibly high data rates. Software verifies no readings are lost and no transmission delays are experienced.

Holiday update

Happy holidays from Islandix. A little status update:

A big thank you to everyone who pre-ordered Wheel Analytics kits. The parts to manufacture and fulfill these orders are now on hand or underway, which is great since we live in times of challenging supply chains. Parts were ordered for more units than pre-ordered but these mostly sold in the interim. Just one unit left as of today! More will be available in the second quarter of 2021. Thanks again.

Indicators

The FAQ on the homepage notes the indicators include flat backs and lug backs. Flat backs are for mounting arrangements that hold indicators by their stems (9.5mm here). Most magnetic indicator mounts work this way. Lug backs are expected to be more common since they’re a drop-in replacement for analog indicators on Park Tool TS-2/3/4 stands. Indicators ship with lug backs installed unless otherwise requested.

Networking

Wheel Analytics serves visualizations over Wifi and USB. Which is best?

The original concept was to connect over USB because it seems simple. But behaving as a USB peripheral requires a system device driver and these are unique to each operating system. Even worse device drivers are sometimes unique to one version of an operating system.

So I decided Wheel Analytics was incomplete if USB is the only way to use it. Long term value shouldn’t hinge on vendor support. Wifi felt like a good solution since I like the idea of walking up with my laptop or tablet and working without wires. With Wifi there’s an understood interoperability requirement no matter the platform or version. The decision to render in a browser instead of native apps is part of the same ethos. Apps need updates as their host platforms evolve but there’s always a web browser.

USB Compatibility

That said USB can be nice in some environments so Wheel Analytics tries its best. It simulates three kinds of USB ethernet devices — ECM, NCM and RNDIS — in the hopes of interfacing with an available driver. Sometimes Wheel Analytics will appear more than once if the host platform has drivers for more than one of these personalities. In the Islandix lab USB connectivity has checked out on Mac OS 10.14 + 10.15, Windows 10 Professional and Linux 4.19.