Despite finalizing all designs by the end of March and setting up production orders with the PCB manufacturer and assembler, it is now looking like the first production batch will not be ready to ship to customers until the 2nd week of May. The delay is due mainly to complications in dealing with the manufacturer (many errors and back and forth’s on details and pricing) and longer-than-expected lead times on some components (1 week backordered!). On top of that, the cables have not been produced yet either. I ordered 500 lead cable sets 2 weeks ago, but the manufacturing company ran out of the wire used and had to order more, which added a 2 week delay. They tell me the cables will be finished and shipped by the 28th of April.
This delay and the frustrations of dealing with a large PCB printing/assembly company have me considering doing all assembling in-house. This would require solder stencils and tools, solder paste (lead-free of course), a reflow soldering oven, and pick-and-place tools to place all those tiny 0603 surface mount resistors and capacitors. The order has already been placed for this production round – 10 units each of USB, Bluetooth, and Arduino Shield FlexVolts – but next time I will likely just be ordering blank PCBs and assembling them in my workshop. I’ll need a large magnifying glass and steady hands, but if I assemble myself I can cut the lead time from 3-5 weeks down to 2!