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Author Topic: How close are we to shipment date?  (Read 12104 times)

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Offline VJ

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Re: How close are we to shipment date?
« Reply #15 on: April 25, 2014, 03:07:01 am »
I currently use an old Linksys (WRT54GC, unfortunately not compatible with OpenWRT) as router and as wireless access point (802.11g). Its main functionality is DHCP server and it is central enough in the apartment to provide wireless access to wireless devices, but e.g. skype with video is problematic and file transfers tend to be slow (partly due to the building, partly probably due to the fact that it is an old router).
When renovating the flat, I put Cat6 cable everywhere, and everything is connected to a DLink DGS-1210-20 (20 port gigabit switch - quite overkill, I got a good deal on it :-)). So now, normally I use wired network (plugging in a laptop or so is easy enough, especially as almost all utp wall sockets are connected) unless it is for something small, in which case wifi is good enough (but even though it is a small apartment, some rooms don't have reception).

Normally, you would hide a router, but I could actually put the Almond+ differently. First idea was in the corridor: it would be very central in the apartment, and the display could show information such as weather info or home automation control (if I manage to integrate it). But I don't have enough cables running there (2 ethernet cables, but one is used for the phone line). This could be solved by also moving my modem there, but in that case, the additional ethernet ports and the usb ports on the Almond+ would not really be used much.
My current idea is actually in the livingroom (luckily I have enough cables in the walls to go from the modem to the router and from the router to the switch, and to two other ethernet ports), use its screen to control home automation (hoping I can integrate it), have ethernet sockets more easily available (not behind the couch) for e.g. a laptop and have wireless in the rooms where it would be most interesting. As long as my Linksys still works, I could even set that one as an access point in the other side of the apartment, and have better coverage in other rooms.
Last alternative is a different location in the corridor, but not sure how easy that would be to make the screen accessible. And if integration with home automation does not work well for my purpose (or takes me too long), I can always put it like any other router. :-)

edit: and back on topic, the announcement is interesting...
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2037429657/almond-80211ac-touchscreen-wifi-router-smart-home/posts
Almost May, so about 1 month - 1.5 months till production might start... The good news is that it seems to be related to the delivery of a single component, implying that all other issues are ironed out. :)
« Last Edit: April 25, 2014, 04:22:40 am by VJ »

Offline pete

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Re: How close are we to shipment date?
« Reply #16 on: April 25, 2014, 01:38:40 pm »
Quote
I currently use an old Linksys (WRT54GC, unfortunately not compatible with OpenWRT) as router and as wireless access point (802.11g). Its main functionality is DHCP server and it is central enough in the apartment to provide wireless access to wireless devices, but e.g. skype with video is problematic and file transfers tend to be slow (partly due to the building, partly probably due to the fact that it is an old router).

Yup here a few years ago went to just utilizing the WRT54GL model for DD-WRT and the Buffalo  WRT-HP-G54 mostly just for DD-WRT.  I have though a variety of different AP's that I put DD-WRT on to play with.  You can purchase better antennas and a wall mount for your Linksys combo to provide a better footprint of what you are using today (unless you have already done this?). 

I initially did start in this house with commercial Cisco Access Points (well it was more related to work though).  In the last few years I did move to utilizing an Ubiquti AP.  This was the first AP that I didn't replace the OS on in a few years; it just worked out of the box fine for me.  I did recently though replace a WRT54GL cuz the radio burned up.  Probably cuz I was pushing it a bit.  I am now playing with wireless touch screen tablets and have now found a new mini pcie 802.11 AC device to test in them.  The wireless tablets are configured to stream SD and HD video today and do work OK with XBMC and some propietary automation software.

Quote
When renovating the flat, I put Cat6 cable everywhere, and everything is connected to a DLink DGS-1210-20 (20 port gigabit switch - quite overkill, I got a good deal on it :-)). So now, normally I use wired network (plugging in a laptop or so is easy enough, especially as almost all utp wall sockets are connected) unless it is for something small, in which case wifi is good enough (but even though it is a small apartment, some rooms don't have reception).

You can walk around with a cell phone today using a wireless application to check on the footprint of your wireless.  Doing this you can adjust the location of your AP and upgrade the antennas and or utilize the Almond +.

Concurrent here (pro bono) doing an office (well multiple sub offices in one large facility) with masonry walls and dealing with similar issues that you are having right now.  Initially assumption for this office was to utilize wireless for everything (Desktops, printers, et al).

I recently ran new CatXX cable to two bathrooms such that there is now Gb connectivity on a wall plate in said bathrooms mostly because the wireless wasn't fast enough for me (but that is me).
« Last Edit: April 25, 2014, 01:43:44 pm by pete »
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Pete
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Offline AARON

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Re: How close are we to shipment date?
« Reply #17 on: April 26, 2014, 02:13:55 am »
Well, what everyone seems to forget is that in May we announced to our backers that we would start over on a new hardware and software platform. To be honest, we severely underestimated the time it would take us to get the new platform to the state where it is today, but the end product will be vastly much better in the end.
We're as frustrated by the delays as any of you, as we really expected to have shipped the Almond+ to all of our backers now.
Things will be a lot more clear come Friday's update.

Lars,
The Friday update did not provide any more confidence... just more confirmations of delays. At this point any promises or ETA are not going to be believed by anyone following this for the past 6 months. How many times have you said... almost there or  just one more test or certification or, or, or?

If you think I don't understand product development you are very wrong my friend. I worked for (W2 employee) Microsoft, Dell, HP, and have run software dev teams, and consulted and ran technical projects on many IT subjects for many fortune 500/100 companies - I have a nearly 20 year career in technology.  I'd be surprised if your router strays far from a reference hardware design and, correct me if I'm wrong, but your software is based on open source for the router - not sure about the HA? 

I backed this because I thought you guys had your sh-t together having already put out a product - and that you'd be bringing to market something much earlier than many others in the same markets... AC routing & HA (independent of each other). I really only cared about the AH part - routers are a dime a dozen and the cheapest ones work pretty darn good and more than enough feature/performance for 99% of the user market. Adding another router to the market it like adding a gallon of water to the Pacific Ocean.

I'll stop complaining now and just hope that this thing is worth something for HA when it ships. Maybe it can serve as a Zigbee interface for my Vera.

LGNilsson

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Re: How close are we to shipment date?
« Reply #18 on: April 26, 2014, 02:31:28 am »
Well, we have passed the EMI test, but as per what we explained in a comment, we have to change the USB 3.0 connector as the one we were using caused some issues and changing it to one from a different manufacturer solved these issues.

We're not trying to make things up as we go along and we're well aware that many of our backers are engineers, product developers and what not. The truth is that we've had way too many unforeseen issues that we've had to deal with that have caused far too many delays on our side. We're also aware it's starting to make us really bad, but there's only so much we can do about it, but yes, it's getting quite embarrassing.

Our board design is anything but a reference design. Cortina that makes the processor provided a reference board that was designed for NAS/STB type products and Qualcomm provided mini PCIe cards for Wi-Fi. We've had to make all this work together, add USB 3.0 support (we're using an ASMedia ASM1042A controller if you're interested), add support for the touch screen and of course home automation. We're as far as I'm aware, the only router manufacturer that has a two tier PCB and this was done to try to make the Almond+ more compact. It's a very unique design and on top of this, we've made some massive changes on the software side to make all of this work well together. Maybe we bit off a bit more than we could chew when we decided to move from the original MIPS based platform to the current ARM Cortex-A9 based platform, but we've chewed through it and gotten to a point where we're ready to go into production in a few weeks time.

I joined the company shortly after the Kickstarter campaign ended which was also shortly before we decided to change the hardware platform and I've seen the development first hand. We've had some real challenges to overcome, but we've also had to do a lot of software development outside of what we expected to have to do due to the development platform that we were given didn't meet our expectations and this is in part what has caused the delays.

Your frustration is equally shared within Securifi, we honestly didn't expect to be this late and I feel personally embarrassed every time I have to put up a post about another delay on Kickstarter. It sucks and there's nothing else I can say about that.

I do hope you'll use your Almond+ for something much more than a ZigBee interface for your Vera though and I hope you'll want to be part of the community here that will make the Almond+ the kind of product that you'll love to own and use.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2014, 05:46:39 am by Lars »

Offline Automate

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Re: How close are we to shipment date?
« Reply #19 on: April 26, 2014, 08:16:15 am »
we've also had to do a lot of software development outside of what we expected to have to do due to the development platform that we were given didn't meet our expectations and this is in part what has caused the delays.

Can you elaborate on this?  I know you switched to OpenWrt but I didn't think the  UI, HA, Zigbee, Zwave functionality has significantly changed since KS.  I would also think using the more powerful and popular ARM over MIPS would make some of the software development easier.

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Re: How close are we to shipment date?
« Reply #20 on: April 26, 2014, 09:30:48 am »
As you may or may not know, embedded Linux distributions sadly don't follow the standard Linux roadmap and what we were given with the development kit was a working version of OpenWRT, albeit far from finished for a retail product. We've had to work with Cortina and QCA to get Wi-Fi working properly on the platform and we've worked with ASMedia to get their drivers onto the platform.
These are things that are normally already part of the package when you get a reference design for a product like this, but as Cortina doesn't offer a complete solution with Wi-Fi etc. this wasn't part of their standard development platform.

On top of this we've created our own user interface, local sensor/device control and SDK among many other things. We've updated several applications that came as part of OpenWRT as well, as some of those were not suitable for our needs, or as in the case of OpenSSL, there was a "small" bug...
The HA part has also required a lot of additional work as the current platform is quite different in terms of its peripheral interfaces and we've had to do a lot of changes here, as well as for the LCD UI, including writing some new drivers from scratch for the touch screen. Keep in mind that we had to redo the entire LCD UI, as we went from a 320x240 display to a 480x320 display. We're still making improvements with regards to how some things work here to try to make the user experience as good as possible.

Yes, the ARM processor is a lot more powerful, but it has very little to do with the development process, as the software is being developed on PC's, not on the router itself. What it has allowed us to do is to build a router that will be a lot more capable in comparison to the original Almond+. For example, it'll be very possible to replace a home NAS with it, as the USB 3.0 performance is exceptionally good, but more on that soon.

Keep in mind that we're still a comparatively small company, but as an example, when we switched to OpenWRT, our UI developer had never coded for Lua/LuCI in his life before and it took him a mere three weeks to create the initial version of of NutsOS. That said, we've refined it and improved since then and it still need some additional spit and polish, but it has nothing in common with the standard OpenWRT UI.

I know you guys are getting frustrated, but believe me when I say that so are we. In hindsight maybe we should've done things differently and we could've had the Almond+ with you earlier, but I'm not sure it would've been as a unique product as what we have today. Yes 802.11ac routers a commonplace today, but the Almond+ is not a run of the mill router. If you just want a router, then the Almond+ is most likely going to be overkill for your needs, but for all of those of you that are interested in getting a unique product that can do so much more than just shuffle data between your devices and the internet, the Almond+ is something that none of our competitors can offer. We're only scratching the surface of the home automation side of things and we're here to work with you guys to make this a great product. In fact, I believe our work has only started once we've shipped the Kickstarter units, as that is when we'll be getting proper feedback and requests from everyone.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2014, 09:45:30 am by Lars »

Offline VJ

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Re: How close are we to shipment date?
« Reply #21 on: April 28, 2014, 03:47:44 am »
You can walk around with a cell phone today using a wireless application to check on the footprint of your wireless.  Doing this you can adjust the location of your AP and upgrade the antennas and or utilize the Almond +.
The router is currently in the best possible place. Not all walls are the same, so even though my signal stops dead after 1-2 walls, I still see a lot of wireless networks. Of course, also not very helpful. :-) A mobie phone signal does not reach the bathroom (some days).

So I assume that wireless is better avoided for performance things. It is a bit more difficult to find eg internet radio's or so with ethernet connector, but it is not impossible.

As I have a good switch, I don't need much from a router, but I like the Almond+ featureset. i'm hoping to integrate it with my system (and use the screen as interface). It would be a low cost solution, but fun to play around with.

Offline pete

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Re: How close are we to shipment date?
« Reply #22 on: April 28, 2014, 08:10:36 am »
Yup; here a bit of a history buff.  Primary endeavor is wireless; the area has some history.  Same issues as you related to wireless signals.

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Offline eldaria

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Re: How close are we to shipment date?
« Reply #23 on: April 28, 2014, 12:04:41 pm »
Wow, has this topic gone off-topic. ;-)

Offline VJ

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Re: How close are we to shipment date?
« Reply #24 on: April 29, 2014, 03:04:10 am »
Yes... sorry.... :-)

Back on topic... Just one component to wait for before the production of the Almond+ can start, and this is expected May-June...
Of course the long delay is frustrating, and my guess is that if it were not for Kickstarter, they might have abandonded the Almond+ and directly started on its successor, due to the numerous things that came up. Because of the kickstarter, I think the company had to follow through with it.
I'm for one glad they did, and glad that they decided to upgrade the devices (rather than delivering a barely workable product).

Offline eldaria

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Re: How close are we to shipment date?
« Reply #25 on: April 29, 2014, 03:44:36 am »
Hmm, i'm not sure that they would have abandon the Almond+, well in theory they already did.
What we get is much better than what was originally planned, so the original design was abandoned, with the upgrade of the internal hardware that was announced quite a while ago.

I think the process we see is something we consumers normally do not see.
Probably a lot of products never make it to the market, many get redesigned, and all the hurdles that we see Securifi going through is something most hardware manufacturers go through, we just never see it.
I have taken part in quite a few KS by now, Almond was among some of the first, and in my experience pretty much all hardware or electronics projects will not meet the time frame promised.
So well considering the complexity of a device such as the Almond+, I have an understanding for the delays, some of these delays are completely out of Securifi's control, some are even due to Natural disasters that effected not only Securifi, but also a few other Kickstarters that depended on memory chips.

LGNilsson

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Re: How close are we to shipment date?
« Reply #26 on: April 29, 2014, 04:07:48 am »
Well, technically we did scrap the Almond+, at least the original hardware and most of the software we'd done to that point in time.
What we have now is a much more capable, but also much more expensive product, least not due to all the various upgraded components such as processor, memory (both RAM and Flash), USB 3.0, larger screen etc. and it all adds up. Yes, we were aware of this when we moved to the new platform, but I just want to let you all know that if you thought the original Almond+ hardware was a bargain, it's now even more of a bargain even if we're very late in delivering the product.

The original Almond+ would've worked just fine, it just wouldn't have had a very long shelf life and it wouldn't have offered the kind of functionality a lot of our backers were hoping for. It didn't have an open source operating system and the hardware would've been somewhat lacking when it comes to third party integration and any kind of expandability.
It wasn't a bad product as such, but it didn't live up to our expectations of what we wanted to offer our customers and we think we would've had a lot more unhappy backers once we started shipping than we'll have with the product we'll be shipping now.

Yes, we've had some hurdles on the way and we're not going to go out and say that we're happy how things have progressed, as it's taken far to long to get certain things done. That said, if we decide to do other Kickstarter projects in the future, we know what not to do and we won't be repeating the mistakes we've done with the Almond+.

Like a couple of people commented on Kickstarter, in most cases when you buy a product in retail you know very little about the development efforts behind it and usually don't care for that matter, unless somethings goes wrong with it and there's a recall and the media publishes some details. Maybe we haven't been quite as forthcoming as we wish we could've been, but this has been a bit of a sensitive project as well, since we don't want our competitors to copy us. The original Almond has already been copied by a company in China, although they're using a smaller screen, but added 433Mbps 802.11ac support to it. It's a bit different shape, but it's pretty much the same idea. As the Almond+ is a far more complex product, it's not quite as easy to copy, but we don't have unlimited opportunity to launch it. The delays has caused a lot of frustration for us, as we really want to get the Almond+ not just to our Kickstarter backers, but also to everyone else that has shown interest in it after the Kickstarter campaign.

The Almond+ has been a challenge, but we hope you'll all agree it was worth the wait in the end.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2014, 04:26:03 am by Lars »

Offline pete

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Re: How close are we to shipment date?
« Reply #27 on: April 29, 2014, 07:58:46 am »
Thank-you Lars!

Yup; here on board and I personally sincerely appreciate the open candor that Securifi has demonstrated relating to the evolution of the Almond + (both hardware and software).

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Offline VJ

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Re: How close are we to shipment date?
« Reply #28 on: April 30, 2014, 03:43:35 am »
I agree with Pete... What happened must have been a coorporate and PR nightmare, but the communication was as good as it can be. :)

Offline mrv777

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Re: How close are we to shipment date?
« Reply #29 on: May 02, 2014, 01:58:17 pm »
I just wanted to say that I appreciate all the work on the Almond+, the upgrades you've done to the hardware, and the updates to keep us in the loop.

Thanks!

 

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