Helios Bars are currently slated for release in January 2014. Learn more about our timeline below, and follow along in our update feed below to hear the latest and greatest from the team.
Status: 18 Weeks Delayed
Target shipment: April 24
Finishing work on the stem cap
We've been busy back and forth at all our factories but by far the most exciting one is where the metal is being worked!
Raw & unfinished forged stem before drilling
Stem Caps pre-drilled
Sometimes we get a little too hands on at our factories - their words, not ours :P - but it's by far the work we enjoy most :). Anyways, just wanted to show you a couple of photos and a video of our forged stems getting drilled out on this massive drill press! Enjoy!
Negative mold holdin' it down.
and when the dust has settled, we get this beaut!
Kenny & Seena are now in the states doing rigorous testing on both the hardware and software sides of Helios. So far we've found a problem with our GPS module in that we appear to be having some interference/shielding with our Bluetooth & GPS antennas. Basically, our Bluetooth antenna is hampering with the signal of our GPS unit and altering the results. We are looking into this and working closely with our factory to troubleshoot this issue. There's a little more info below regarding the discoveries we've made.
Mass production has begun at our injection mold factory & handlebar factory, which covers about 90% of our production, but we've unfortunately had to delay mass production on our PCBs until the GPS interference issue is completely resolved. In turn, this has forced us to delay shipment to you. We sincerely apologize for this, but delivering a half-assed product is simply not in our DNA. We'd much rather take our time now in our testing phase, iron out all the bugs, and ship a finished product to your doorstep. We're giving ourselves two weeks to figure this problem out but we'll update you on this as soon as we have a fix.
Compounding our interference woes is Chinese New Year or Spring Festival. CNY is Friday, January 31st and although it takes just one calendar day to go from the Year of the Snake (2013) to the Wooden Horse (2014), China's workforce is essentially non-existent for the two weeks prior and about a week after the 31st, as the world's largest yearly human migration is underway. Originally, we had planned to ship just before this and avoid the CNY slowdown, but with our recent developments we're forced to wade through it. Luckily, all of our components, including our handlebars, will be delivered to our warehouse and our PCB assembly house will be the only factory we will be waiting on. We're looking at about a 3 week set back on just Chinese New Year alone. So, CNY + our time allotted to fix our signal degradation and we are looking at a 5 week delay. Again, we feel terrible for doing this to our beloved backers, but we'd feel even worse if you didn't absolutely love your new handlebars. Simply put, the new ship date is March 14. 3.14 - Pi Day.
Despite its inevitability, the delay is sort of a blessing in disguise for all of us Android users. This will give us more time to iron out the kinks and hopefully give us the necessary time to deliver the Android app in tandem with delivery.
I know we've got it up on our site but I don't recall ever letting you guys know that most of the bars' features are functional without a mobile. This includes cycling through the headlamp modes - Flash, Low, and High - changing colors of the rear indicators, and of course the turn signals. This may sound obvious but with the way we've painted the picture for the connected bike, I wanted to make sure that there was no confusion about "what if I don't have my phone/dead phones etc.."
We've narrowed it down to a few small issues that are possibly resulting in the signal degradation. First of all, we're pushing the physical boundaries of radio waves and the fact that they do not appreciate traveling through aluminum. However, we've for the most part been able to get around that with our injection molded side caps. The issue seems to be that, when inside the bars, our GPS module requires more power to retrieve a signal as it is working harder to overcome all the shielding it is experiencing. Nothing too serious though - just a lot of tweaking with antennas to find the balance that works the best. Our first go at a fix to the power issue was to use higher throughput FPC cables & re-route some of our traces on our PCB in order to have less natural resistance and thus more current delivered to the GPS module. We should have these PCBs populated and test their performance in the next few days. We'll keep you posted.
As soon as we get our GPS module functioning to our standards inside the bars we will fire off the design to our PCB assembly house and get them made as soon as possible. Once we have complete PCBs in our possession, we can begin assembly.
Will you be at CES this year? We'll be there! Hit us up on Facebook or Twitter and we'll meet up with you and get you a hands on with our production samples! Look for the wavy blonde locks and maybe he'll have a little gift for you ;).
Thanks for your continued support backers, your guys' emails and comments really do make our long days in the shop worth it and are welcome, as always on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.
The Helios Squad
As you may have heard, we're raising the retail price of Helios Bars to $279. While we'd love to continue offering Helios Bars at the special introductory price of $199, we simply cannot do so anymore. The reason for that is our factories have increased our unit cost to the point where we're hardly able to sustain a business. In order for us to stay in business and continue offering the best in smartbike technology to our customers, we have to raise our price. We hope you understand our situation and continue to support us.
We'd also like to announce that all Helios Bars will ship with a 1-year limited warranty. That means that if you receive your Helios Bar and it is damaged or defective in any way, we will gladly repair or replace it for you :)
I'm back in Shenzhen and I'm stoked to be in the thick of things working on development for Helios again. I've only been back a week and already we've had several factory visits and made huge improvements on our circuit board performance. We're gearing up for mass production on our PCB, so this past week I've been getting in touch with many PCBAs to do business with. Still shopping around on that, but hopefully by the end of this week I'll have a better idea of the best option to go with.
We were able to get a peek at the final production straight bar last week at our factory visit and so far so good! This week we'll be outfitting the bars with our electronics and run them through some real world testing at the Shenzhen Alley cat races this Friday - so excited to see all the people's faces light up (pun intended) when they see Kenny flying down the street!
Thanks for keeping up with the project updates. Today we had the chance to check up on our manufacturer and view the status of the first parts out of our mold. I am super happy with how the samples came out. To get a better idea of the progress that has been made, check out the pics here: http://imgur.com/a/YqG37
As with any physical mold, there is always a period before final production where any problems with production samples have to be fixed. One problem that we noticed from the stem samples was that there was added material on top of the stem. This was right where the stem meets the down tube of the forks, so it prevented the stem cap from fitting perfectly. As the factory is fixing the mold mistake, we are strength-testing a few of the first article samples that have come off the line. Here are some pictures of the first bullhorn bars that were just produced!
Since this was the second time that our factory fixed our mold, there was a little bit more delay than we originally accounted for. They gave us two options: Fix the mold and reproduce new samples before production, or cut away the extra material after the stems are produced from the mold. In order to deliver a more polished product, we decided to simplify our manufacturing process and go with the first option.
The two mold remakes combined with the recent week-long Chinese holiday has put alot of pressure on our timeline. As a result, we are forced to announce a 5 - 6 week delay for the first shipment of Helios Bars.
This puts us at an expected ship date of January 20th - 31st. The only risk this runs us is that Chinese new year begins at the start of February, meaning that many businesses & post offices will be closed. This is why we're going to try our hardest to ship out as early as possible and hit our estimated window.
We felt it was our duty to keep completely transparent with all our backers and update each of you if a delay occurs. We apologize to anyone eager to receive their handlebars, but we hope you understand that the only thing we want to do is deliver a quality product in the shortest time possible, yet it seems that sometimes the two are mutually exclusive. While we realize this isn't the greatest news, we're happy that we don't have to compromise quality just to ship something out the door.
Please contact us If you have any concerns about the new shipping date.
From the entire Helios Team: Thank you for your continued support! Don't stop riding!
Been busy coding firmware & meeting with our app development team. So far everything is looking good!
A couple small bugs have popped-up as a result of fixing all the bugs we were previously tracking. Luckily, they're not too serious-- just some UI inconsistencies which should be fixed within the next week or two.
We've also been working on packing in some extra features for you guys. You might've already heard about the new iPod/Music control feature from our last Kickstarter update. I don't want to give away too much, but we're also experimenting with geofencing + an alarm/lock feature. We'll keep you in the loop.
Things have been going steady since the last update. We received new units of our GPS module with updated firmware which we are testing currently to find any bugs. They are an awesome little piece of hardware to say the least. Since we are under super tight space constraints with all the tech that's packed into our bars, it's important for us to iterate on the design so we can best use the available space we have, all the while making the assembled product as small, strong, and easy to assemble as possible.
It was very close, but here is a picture of our GPS chip and main PCB assembled securely inside our newly mocked up stem: http://imgur.com/a/laJy8
We also finalized the internals of our bar ends to allow for a single flat ribbon cable to travel through the bar and connect our main PCB. This cable carries 4 connections for RGB LED and the main positive and negative terminal for the 18650B. By simplifying this part of the assembly process we are able to cut down the amount of parts making the bars more reliable and easier to assemble.
You can see our current process with by the pics below: http://imgur.com/a/zztsx
It seems that with all the great headway we are making, there are always unforeseen events that set you back. Last friday (Friday the 13th no less), we got word from our factory that the day we were supposed to have samples in our hand, our biggest and most complex forged mold (for our stem) cracked & broke under the extreme pressure of the machine. We were told this was from a crack in the raw materials that were used to create the mold. This setback is adding on 10 days to our manufacturers schedule. As for our timeline it seems we are still going to be ok with shipping on time. For those that want to witness the horror that is our broken mold, it is pictured below with the quickest possible picture I could take (they are embarrassed about these sorts of things): http://i.imgur.com/DXdubca.jpg
Recently I've been finalizing and testing the UI of the Helios Connect app. We changed the graphics of the app to be more intuitive and allow the user to easily control the settings of the main headlight.
We updated the turn by turn navigation UI to be as simple as possible. Currently, we are waiting for the update from our iOS dev to arrive so we can continue with real world testing. I have been working alongside Seena fine-tuning the proximity code to allow for better user experience. We had to optimize the code to make sure the lights are as responsive as possible and are not accidentally triggered on or off when that action is not called.
I am working close with our manufacturer to ensure the parts from the hydroform mold come out as finished as possible. I am super stoked about the samples I've seen so far. As for the stem mold, I'll have samples in my hand by the end of this week.
Design wise, I had to make some small modifications to the aesthetics of the bars. When talking with our gps manufacture about the best possible location for the GPS and GSM antenna, we had to make a small change to the stem mold to allow for the best reception.
Here is a link to the newest renderings I made so you get a better idea of what the final look of the bars will be: http://imgur.com/a/C8PMc
With these inserted plastic caps, the stem will remain waterproof. The best part about the caps is that they provide support inside for our PCBs to keep them perfectly in place. Also they serve an important role in providing an easy place to mount the indicator switches, the manual on/off button and the charging jack.
In the next week I'm going to be making sure all the internals fit and function perfectly. Stay tuned for a bunch of pics of the progress!
I'm Tony, a Mechanical Engineer from Northern California. While the boys are in China developing away, I am here stateside handling the majority of your comments/questions and keeping our kickstarter backers up to date with our progress. Not your typical engineering tasks, but startups!
Lately however I've been doing a lot of sourcing and tracking down the best suppliers for the many components that are involved in creating Helios Bars. This week I've been focusing on sourcing a reliable & cost-effective 3400mAh 18650 and a the glass cover for the front headlamp.
I'll let you know how my search goes and update you on my new tasks next week sometime.
Hey all, I'm Seena and I handle the PR, marketing, and software development for Helios. I thought I'd take this chance to update you guys on what I've been working on.
Apart from spreading the good word of Helios Bars, I've been working with Kenny to iron out the bugs in our iPhone app. Don't get alarmed though-- there aren't many (& the ones that exist aren't too crippling).
Additionally, we're revising the interface of the app to be more user-friendly. You'll now be able to switch between medium brightness, high brightness, and flash mode on the main headlight. Thank Kenny for that one!
Oh & make sure to keep up with this page so that you know how far along we are with everything!