155% FUNDED! We reached our goal on March 31st, 2014.
We’ll notify you when pre-orders are available.
Hello LIDAR-Lite Backers!
Since our last update there has been a lot of activity. We’ve received all of the boards from our supplier, most of them have been programmed and tested and we have everything else in place to make LIDAR-lite modules – except housings…
When we finally received word from our supplier about delivery it wasn’t the news we wanted to hear… Instead of hearing that everything was on schedule, we learned that shipment wouldn’t be until late September. That meant deliveries of LIDAR-Lite wouldn’t start until early October – and that wasn’t acceptable to us.
This meant a major pivot was in order. So we turned to a local source to produce our housings in enough quantities to support the needs of, you, our backers. They were very happy to help us out and we were also fortunate that they had free time on their machines to run the parts for us. We can’t thank them enough for their support.
So, production starts this week and we will take delivery on housings as they come off the machines rather than waiting for the full production cycle to complete. This will allow us to do final assembly, test and shipment of units while the housing production continues.
This was not how we had hoped things would go. At the end of the day, it will eventually work, we can use the injection-molded parts for future builds and that means we can deliver those sooner than planned. But, we had a plan and placed a lot of faith in our suppliers to deliver on time. Most of them took extra steps on our behalf because they shared the same excitement that we all have about LIDAR-Lite. And we thank them all for their support – especially our most recent partner for stepping in and saving the day.
An important milestone took place last week. We took delivery of our first batch of 550 completed LIDAR-Lite boards on Friday! Only 950 more to go…
We also received news that the lenses arrived in Portland on Friday and after they are installed in the lens assemblies, they’ll be on their way to us.
Housings - We’ve been told to expect housings “late August”. Since it’s now officially “late August” we’ll remain optimistic that they show up soon.
Once the housings arrive, it’ll be “All hands on deck for final assembly, test, packaging and shipping”! We’ll be working as quickly as possible to get units to our backers in September, but we’ll also be making sure what you get works as advertised. I’ll be sending out updates on our progress, and I’m sure we’ll all take a moment to celebrate the shipment of our first units before getting back to work!
We’ve been able to assemble a few of the units with 3D printed housings and lenses we purchased off the shelf from Edmund Optical. They aren’t going to work as well as the production units, but they are good enough for testing, putting the final touches on code and sorting out any assembly issues. What’s been the performance of these units? Good. We’ve seen greater than 50m outside, and knowing that these aren’t production quality we’re encouraged by the performance we’re seeing.
At times we are reminded that “hardware is hard”, but we know that the pieces are coming together and we continue to make forward progress. We also know that you’re out there patiently waiting to do cool things with LIDAR-Lite and that makes all the hard work worth it.
This is what LIDAR-Lite is going to look like when it’s finally assembled. A little package of cool technology ready to go into your projects!
I love hearing from all our backers and people that have heard about us from friends or found us online. Questions about applications roll in daily, and I can assure you that almost every application is pretty cool - and if it isn’t cool, it’s because it’s downright awesome!
In addition to all the great feedback, the one question on everyone’s mind is, “When will these bad boys ship?”
We’ve had some challenges securing some components in a timely fashion, but our suppliers have been great and worked with us to get our long lead time items in house much sooner than originally quoted. In one case we saw a 20-week lead-time shrink to 3 – a lot of strings were pulled for that one! The enthusiasm shared by all our suppliers toward our project has been amazing and we have been very appreciative of their support.
I’ve mentioned before how great our assembly house has been in helping us to resolve manufacturing issues and they continue to impress. They sourced our printed circuit boards, which, in addition to being well within our budget, arrived from fabrication quickly, and they look great! Next on the schedule is board assembly, programming and test. So, we’re quite happy with our progress on this front and the great partner we found to work with.
In order to obtain best pricing for optics and housings we’ve gone offshore. Since our order is for only a few thousand of each, we aren’t exactly getting priority placement in the production flow at these factories. Currently, we’re being told to expect delivery the 3rd or 4th week of August. Arrgh… This is an unexpected delay, but I’ll be closely monitoring the progress on these parts and our local contacts with these factories will also be pushing to get the work done as quickly as possible. If there are any changes in the schedule we’ll let you know.
In the meantime, we will be wrapping up the laser safety certification. We’re getting down to the last few steps in the process and once those are complete our consultant will submit the document package to the FDA. Since this is more or less a self-certification process, once the FDA has received the package and given us an acknowledgment that everything is in order, we are good to begin shipping. Given the delivery time frame on the housings and optics, this step will be complete well before we are starting deliveries.
So, mostly good news! We are making progress, which at times is not as fast as we would like, but most of the hard stuff has been accomplished and the tasks that remain are not too daunting.
As always, our thanks to every one of you for your support, great ideas and most of all, your patience! Without you there would be no LIDAR-Lite.
This update is meant for those of you that have insatiable curiosity and a need to know how everything works…everything. You know who you are…
We have added a page of technical stuff to the PulsedLight website you can find it under the “Technical Stuff” tab from our home page or by going to this link: http://pulsedlight3d.com/technical-stuff-2/ . (In case you haven’t noticed already, we’ve never been terribly creative when it comes to naming things)
What you’re going to find there is the beginning of our repository of information about PulsedLight’s technology. Data sheets, operating manuals (yes, the preliminary LIDAR-Lite manual is now available), white papers about applications for LIDAR-Lite technology (as soon as Bob has the time to write them), sample code (soon!) and other cool stuff as we – or you - come across it.
New information will be posted as it becomes available, and we’ll be working to make it as informative and helpful as possible. If there’s information you’d like to see here, please let us know and we’ll do our best to include it.
In the meantime, we’re dotting a few “i’s” and crossing some “t’s” on our production to make sure everything comes together as planned. There will be an update soon on our progress.
While you’re waiting for that update, download some of that scintillating reading that’s available for you on our site!
Holy Cow! It’s June!
Production plans are moving forward with and we’re making good progress with the data collection for eye-safety certification. So, we’re still feeling pretty good about having deliveries begin in the mid to late July timeframe. As always, we’ll keep everyone updated on the status of their orders as we progress.
We’re also happy to announce that we’ll be adding a couple more distribution partners and as soon as all the details are finalized we’ll publish links to their stores. Interest in LIDAR-Lite remains strong and the addition of these companies will allow us to better support our users.
If you’d like to take a peek at the LIDAR-Lite operating manual in its preliminary form we’ll be making available online within the week and will let everyone know via Twitter, G+ and through a Dragon Innovation Update where to download a copy. Caution, legal disclaimer ahead… Please keep in mind that the eye-safety information in the manual is not complete and will change!
For those of you who have been following us on G+, or on Twitter, @PulsedLight3d, you may have seen a few tantalizing photo’s of our progress with LIDAR-Lite. In case you haven’t seen them, here they are!
Up first, is a set of boards from our preproduction build done by our local assembly house SisTech Manufacturing.
In addition to having 2 lines capable of placing up to 24,000 parts per hour (pictured below) they can provide us with turnkey services from component and PCB procurement to shipment of fully assembled and tested LIDAR-Lite units. The team here has been invaluable to us. They’ve provided guidance to us at every step of the way and assisted us in making sure that LIDAR-Lite can be manufactured with the greatest efficiency and lowest cost. While they aren’t as inexpensive as Asia manufacturing, they are very cost competitive and, most importantly, local. We’ve made it our goal to support our local economy whenever possible and you can’t get more local than these guys!
Next, we have a photo of the prototype housing. The unit in the picture was done on our Afinia 3D printer. The ability to prototype housings quickly and test different optical configurations has been a huge timesaver for us. Not to mention the cost savings of being able to do this task in house. Each build of housings would have been $1000 and a couple weeks of waiting if we had chosen more conventional prototyping methods.
I would also like to mention that our optics and housings are coming from another local company Kruger Optical. Well, Tigard Oregon via Sisters Oregon, but that’s close enough to count! Since 1998 they have been making optical systems for a lot of different applications, including sporting and tactical products, and we are happy to have them as a partner on LIDAR-Lite. Their engineering support has been great and their ability to source components from a large number of optical suppliers has ensured that we are getting the highest quality optics for the best price.
Now a little history… The photo above on the left demonstrates how far we’ve come since our founding in 2011. The sensor module on the top was our then state-of-the-art design that had over 150 parts and a maximum range capability of around 1km. The LIDAR-lite module on the bottom of the photo, configured for our crowdfunding campaign, has about 50 components and can range to greater than 60m. With the addition of a more powerful laser, a more sensitive detector, a little different and slightly different optics, the board used in LIDAR-Lite could range to over 1km.
Our friends at 3D Robotics have been hard at work making sure that LIDAR-Lite will be supported by their autopilot systems. The little green circle in the picture above shows a LED based prototype flying on a fixed wing aircraft in Australia. They were testing the performance of our sensor by flying a bunch of different patterns over a variety of terrain and logging the results. General consensus…it worked great and they can’t wait for the laser version! Thanks guys for taking LIDAR-Lite for a spin!
Thanks again for all the support! We couldn’t do it without you!
I’ve had a number of people contact me lately and ask, “What’s up? How come we haven’t heard anything?” Initially I thought, “Gee, I just did an update! Chill!” But then I realized, time flies when you’re in a start-up…
There’s been a lot going on behind the scenes at PulsedLight since our last update, so let’s get to it!
During our meeting with our board assembly house in Bend, they suggested a couple of changes to LIDAR-Lite to make it easier to manufacture. The most important was to go from a completely custom receiver shield to an off-the-shelf design. This part comes on a tape reel and can be placed by an automated assembly machine instead of by hand – a huge cost advantage. Also, if rework is needed to that area of the board, it has a cover that can be removed and replaced easily. To use this part a re-layout that section of the board was needed to make room for the solder pads of the frame, but the cost savings were worth the extra work.
Bob also added a fail-safe circuit to LIDAR-Lite that, under certain conditions, such as someone putting the sensor directly in front of their eye or a single point failure of the hardware, turns off the laser to prevent the possibility of injury.
Since we made a few changes to the design, we have a small build of boards in process to make sure that there are no layout errors or performance issues. Better to learn that now than when we’ve built a couple thousand! If everything goes well, the next build we do will be our first production run!
Our optics are on order and the housing design is evolving nicely. One thing we forgot to include, I almost hesitate to mention this, was a way to attach the sensor to your projects. We had one of those Duh! Moments when it was pointed out to us… So, back to the drawing board… Fortunately, this is not a long lead-time item!
I’m very happy to report that we’ve received extremely favorable pricing from Excelitas for the laser we’ll be using in LIDAR-Lite. They’re very excited by what we’re doing and we appreciate their support. This one component had the potential to be the most costly, so we’re breathing a sigh of relief that we were able to have such good fortune.
Bob is also busy putting the finishing touches on the code for LIDAR-Lite and as soon as that’s complete we can finish putting together the operating manual and application notes. We’re anxious to get this information out to everyone so that you can begin your projects!
We were able to get a few prototypes in the hands of the 3D Robotics software developers and they have been working on preliminary code for the 3DR autopilot systems. A couple members of the Arduino group here in Bend also have a prototype and are working on some code that we’ll post a link to soon.
We met with our eye-safety consultant on April 29th and all I can say is “holy cow!” There is a dizzying array of decisions that needs to be made and a lot of analysis that will need to be done.
Fortunately, the consultant we’re using has considerable experience; in fact he’s served on many of the committees that wrote the certification standards. So, he knows his way around the process and that, combined with his years of experience, should allow us to get through all the testing and paperwork quickly. Once that’s completed, the final report, all 200 pages or so, goes to the FDA. Because the certification is basically a self-declaration by PulsedLight regarding the operating safety of LIDAR-Lite, once it’s submitted we’re able to begin shipping sensors. It’s roughly a 6-week process and we’re very happy we’re getting an early start on it.
I’ve been working on restructuring our social media presence so that it will be easier for us to manage and easier for you to follow and stay informed on what we’re up to!
We’ll continue to post updates like this through Dragon Innovation. But, we’re also working to expand our presence to other media so that you’ll have real time information about our activities.
Our Google+ account has been changed so that it puts all our Google related activities in one place. You only need to know one URL and that will connect you with our latest posts, PulsedLight Community (once it’s established – still a to do item) and YouTube video. Please login and follow us there!
We’ve also added a corporate Twitter account, so if you’ve been following us on Twitter at @PulsedLight (my personal account), our new corporate account is @PulsedLight3D. Make sure you add our new Twitter feed to your list!
Email notifications and announcements related to LIDAR-Lite shipments and other product announcements will also be coming in the future as well as other news we feel is important to our community.
Maker Faire Bay Area!
Our travel plans have us in the San Francisco Bay Area later in the week prior to Maker Faire and we’ve decided to spend the weekend and visit with some of the friends we’ve made along the course of our Crowdfunding program. If you’re following us on Twitter or Google+ I’m sure you’ll see posts from us at the event! Maybe we’ll run into you there too!
Once again, we can’t thank you enough for the support you’ve shown us!
The last couple of days of our campaign were intense. We saw more in contributions in each one of those days than any other single day of the entire campaign. Just when we thought that things were going to slowly wind down, they went stratospheric! Amazing…and it really affirmed for us that we were on the right track.
Needless to say, once it was all over we had to take a moment to recover and reflect…
But now we’re rested and hard at work making sure that LIDAR-Lite will be as good as we can make it!
Bob just spent a couple of days going over the design with an engineering consultant to make sure that we haven’t missed anything. Other than a couple of little things, Bob had mostly nailed the design and our consultant was very impressed with what he saw!
We feel that it is important that we share with our Backers regular updates on LIDAR-Lite as we move toward production. In addition to posts here in the Dragon Innovation LIDAR-Lite update page, you’ll begin to receive emails from us updating you on the latest news. Don’t worry! We won’t be inundating you with useless information or promoting other stuff. It will just be the facts. We also plan on establishing a community where you’ll be able to share your projects with other LIDAR-Lite users, and ask us questions. We'll let you know when it's ready!
And finally, we have great news for anyone that wasn’t able to get in on the LIDAR-Lite crowdfunding campaign! 3D Robotics has included LIDAR-Lite in their store. They are now accepting pre-orders, which will ship around the same time as the rest of the units going out to our Backers. If you are a UAV enthusiast this has an added benefit, because they are also developing code that will make integration of LIDAR-Lite into their autopilot systems easy. We are really excited about this partnership!
So, keep an eye on your inbox for more information, and thank you!
Since asking you, our backers, to support a stretch goal of putting a laser in every LIDAR-Lite, the feedback has been 100% unanimous – you want LIDAR-Lite to be Awesome.
Let me share just a couple of the comments we’ve received;
“I have two units ordered on day 1. Let's go for the whole laser deal. Will wait patiently because I have full confidence. Take your time and do it right!”
“I backed the LIDAR-Lite via Double Vision because this is something I have been wanting for a long time. I personally like the idea about converting the existing system from LED to Laser…. While I can't wait to get my hands on the product (would like to see one up close, wish I lived nearby) but at the same time I know that a great, quality, awesome product requires patience. So in that aspect I can wait... with much anticipation.” (Thanks Daniel! We wish you a speedy and full recovery from your surgery.)
Since making the decision you’ve let all your friends know through your great support of our campaign on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and all of the Blogs and media too numerous to mention. And the response has been great. In just a few days we’ve seen $5,000 toward our goal come in from new backers. Thank You!
Many have asked, “I backed you for a single unit (or more) and now I want to help you reach your stretch goal. How can I do that?” You’ve already done a lot simply by backing us in the first place. But, if you really want to do more, here are your choices:
As always, we can’t thank everyone enough for his or her support. You’ve made LIDAR-Lite possible and we know that your continued support will make the laser happen too!
“If you liked it then you should’a put a laser on it!” - Beyonce’ (we like to think)
Well, you liked it by fully backing us! And your feedback on the laser question has been great. Here’s we’ve been hearing:
So we’re going to put a Stretch Goal out there to make LIDAR-Lite more awesome by putting a laser on it! We figured out how to save a few dollars on the optics side to offset the added cost of a laser. But, adding a laser means that we need to make sure it’s eye-safe. And that certification costs money, which means we need to sell a few more units – about $20k worth.
Here’s how we’re going to reach our goal of $75,000:
So, get out there and spread the word!
If you have any questions or concerns please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to all of your support, we reached our funding goal of $53,000 Wednesday morning!
After a little happy dance and an extra shot of espresso in our latte (the champagne will have to wait ‘til later) we got to thinking…and now we need your feedback!
We have 7 days left on our campaign and we asked ourselves what could we do that would really drive support for LIDAR-Lite to the next level? And how could we do that so everyone benefits? The answer, in a word was – LASER!
So, Here’s how it would work;
1.We replace the LED in LIDAR-Lite with a Laser. This makes the current 1.5° beam shrink to <1/2°. The smaller more collimated beam gives the sensor greater sensitivity and performance.
2.To offset the added cost of the laser we install smaller optics (12.7mm instead of the existing 23mm) into a simpler housing. This makes LIDAR-Lite lighter and smaller, 19mm wide X 20mm tall X 44mm long instead of 30mm wide X 39mm tall X 51mm long.
3.We do eye-safety certification.
What are the benefits of doing this?
Well, it’s still a 40m sensor, but now instead of 40m being the maximum range, it will be better than 40m under typical operating conditions. Just to explain; the smaller optics, save money and allow us to install a laser. However, the smaller aperture does reduce the maximum operating range, so it’s not the 100m sensor it could be with larger 23mm optics. But, you will get better performance under more operating conditions within the full 40m range window of the sensor. And it gets lighter and smaller to boot!
Sounds good. What’s the downside?
We have to do eye-safety certification. This adds cost that we hadn’t planned on and also delays delivery of LIDAR-Lite by a month while we wait for the certification process to be completed. We’ll also need to raise more money to get this accomplished, but we can do this by simply selling more LIDAR-Lites.
What would the Stretch Goal be?
We would need to sell an additional $20k in LIDAR-Lites to cover the eye-safety certification cost. But if we do, everyone gets a laser in an even more awesome sensor! If we don’t reach that goal, everyone still gets an awesome LIDAR-Lite sensor for his or her projects. It’s a win-win no matter what!
So, should we do it?
It’s a pretty ambitious goal to achieve in a short period of time. You tell us. Do you want more awesomeness? Are you willing to wait “just-a-little-longer” for LIDAR-Lite? And most importantly, are you willing to hit your networks hard to help us? Let us know by placing your vote by emailing us or posting in the discussion!
The Google+ Hangout on LIDAR-Lite was a HUGE success! We saw a big spike in support during the Hangout and the hours following. We jumped to over 80% funded in an amazingly short time.
Even my Nephew (who could have probably just asked me for a LIDAR-Lite – I mean, jeez, he’s family after all) was so impressed by the Hangout, he jumped on over to the Dragon Innovation site and bought one!
We are also noticing that the demand for the “Double Vision” incentive is so overwhelming we’re almost sold out…again. Since this has become our most popular incentive, we’ve decided to make it UNLIMITED! So tell everyone that they can still get in on the action.
If you want to catch our Hangout again or you’ve binge-watched your way through all your favorites on Netflix and are looking for some new content, you can catch it below, or on YouTube:
In the last couple of days, we’ve experienced a surge in support that saw us go from 46% to 57% funding. Holy Cow! As much as I’d like to brag about my skills at social media and marketing, the credit for this recent boost really goes to everyone that posted about us on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, and their blogs.
I’d also like to offer a special mention the good people at Sparkfun for their recent tweets and blog post about our project. I’m sure there was a lot of interest generated as a result of their comments.
As a result of the added interest, we are increasing the availability of “Double-Vision” incentives from 100 to 150.
Thank you, all!
You’ve read about the technology, seen the pictures and videos - now you’ll be able ask the mind behind LIDAR-Lite all those burning technical questions you have!
We’re letting Bob take a little time away from his engineering duties here at PulsedLight and make himself available to describe the technology and answer all the technical questions you may have about LIDAR-Lite. (No, that’s not Bob in the picture; we just thought a good-looking dog would get your attention…)
Join us at 1100 Pacific, 1400 Eastern, February 26th on our Google Hangout. To learn more about the Event, RSVP, and post questions, visit the event invitation.
We look forward to meeting all of you then!
Last week Bob and I headed to the Photonics West meeting in San Francisco. These trips are always a good time for Bob to connect with colleagues and for both of us to see what’s new in the industry.
While we were able to spend a little time walking the show floor seeing some cool things, like a massive Ytterbium Laser System…
…or an incredibly large hunk of optically perfect glass.
We also spent a lot of time talking to our vendors about our LIDAR-Lite project…
Like our optics supplier…
And one of our opto-electronics vendors who seems to be making Bob and offer he can’t refuse…
And that’s the great thing about shows like this. It puts everyone in one place and makes face-to-face meetings possible without a lot of travel.
What made this year different from previous years was the interest that our LIDAR-Lite project was generating outside of the show.
We spent an afternoon at Romotive the home of Romo, an educational robot that anyone 8 or older can program using an iPhone. Their offices were only a few blocks from the convention center and this is a group of young, energetic, highly creative engineers with some great ideas. We left their offices excited about the prospect of working with them on their projects.
Bob wondering if anyone would notice a Romo missing…
While we don’t normally make personal visits to our backers, one in particular was on our list of people to see… Chris Anderson and the team at 3DRobotics have been a great supporter of ours. The 3DR team provided video for our Dragon Innovation site, feedback on sensor functionalities, and has personally backed of our crowdfunding campaign. We also can’t forget that early in our campaign Chris told us that we needed to change the name of our product to something more descriptive, like “LIDAR-Lite”. We’re glad that we listened to him. With that kind of support, how could we could not be in the Bay Area and not extend our thanks in person!
It will be interesting to see where all of this activity takes us, but in the meantime, we need to continue working hard to make our vision a reality and to make sure that everyone that has backed and supported us so far is able to be among the first to get their hands on LIDAR-Lite.
We want to share the early results of our early testing on LIDAR-Lite. The module you see in the below photo (don’t let all the wires worry you, they’re only for testing) has been tested out to 5m with no optics and ranges to a solid 10m with the simple optic you see mounted in front of the receiver in this photo. That may not sound like much, but the LED’s beam at 10 meters is 1 meter square and there’s not a lot of energy coming back to the sensor, but we’re still detecting plenty of signal. Can’t wait to put better optics on it and see what it will do!
Right around this time every year for the last 3 years, Bob and I have hopped in the car and traveled to the Photonics West meeting in San Francisco. It’s a great chance for Bob to reconnect with old colleagues as well as see what new in optics and optoelectronics stuff.
If you’re an optoelectronic engineer like Bob, this is a geek fest of grand proportions! For me, I get to stand around and nod my head knowingly as the discussions get increasingly more technical.
We’ll be meeting with suppliers and customers while we’re there and I’ll be posting updates here and you can follow our escapades on Twitter @PulsedLight. There may have a surprise or two in store for everyone. Stay tuned…
We passed the 30% funding level on Monday - only 6 days into our campaign! As you can see from the picture, Dallas, PulsedLight's mascot, is simply beside himself with excitement! Everyone else has left the office to go celebrate.... Our thanks to everyone whose support has gotten us this far so fast.
We noticed that a lot of you are going for the "Double Vision" special and we think that this is either because it's just a great deal or, if you're like me, you know you'll blow one up as you begin experimenting with them. Just ask Bob about my track record... This got us thinking that perhaps schools, MakerSpaces, local Maker groups or those that are unusually accident prone would like to order a bunch for their projects.
We are happy to introduce "LIDAR-Palooza"! Make Dallas jump for joy and buy 10 for a per unit price of only $60.
Wow! We are really excited to see the great response from everyone - we passed the 20% funding mark in only 2 days! We want to thank everyone of you for supporting our project. The "Early Adopter" and "Dennis' Deal" specials have sold out, but we still have a lot of the "Double Vision" special left and, of course, plenty of the "LIDAR-Lite 40" to go around.
The buzz on the technical blogs has been strong and generating a lot of interest. A lot people asked if we could provide a spec sheet on LIDAR-Lite and we've pulled together a preliminary spec sheet here. As we get more testing results on the sensor we'll update that data.Thank you!
- The PulsedLight Team
Our co-working friends at TechSpace are tracking progress with this very high tech chart. We appreciate their enthusiastic support.