Progress on Altar I continues, however an issue discovered in manufacturing (which is now resolved) means there will be a delay: Altar I pre-orders will now be shipping in early 2024. This is not the news we wanted to share, but delivering a quality product is and always will be our top priority.
Aside from that, there is some good news — we're now at the stage of receiving bulk orders of parts. We've also made updates to firmware that will improve battery life, as well as progress on our compliance testing process.
In the previous update we shared that the tooling for injection moulding was being created. During the mould production process it was discovered that there were a couple of fitting issues with certain parts.
The main issue was to do with the parts of the housing for the knob — they simply didn't fit together as well as expected. It also emerged that some small parts (the switches on the side of Altar I) needed minor adjustments so as not to have any cosmetic defects when the time came to mass produce them. These issues are now resolved but unfortunately have caused a knock-on effect that has resulted in the delay.
All of this means that we likely won't have all the necessary parts to assemble Altar I until the end of the year or even the very beginning of 2024.
The delay in getting Altar I into customers hands is disappointing for everyone and something we worked hard to try and avoid. But it is more important that parts are created to the high standard that Electronic Materials Office and our customers demand.
In more positive news, many parts have been ordered and some have begun arriving:
Stabiliser parts have arrived, and switches and clamshell packaging are en route.
Cables are finished and will be shipping next week. Screws, which are now Torx and being custom made for Altar I, are also completed and will be on their way to us soon as well. Batteries, which received a minor update for compliance reasons, are being manufactured. The shipping box and paper wrap that Altar I ships in are also being manufactured. Injection moulded parts are still in progress.
We have found a test lab to partner with to make sure Altar I is compliant where it needs to be and testing is now underway. Some small regulatory changes have been made to the back of Altar I and the Altar I manual to make sure they are compliant.
Quality of life changes have continued on Altar I firmware. These are mostly geared around optimising battery life and balancing battery life with user experience. A bonus to this work is that we will contribute our changes to the open source firmware used by Altar I, ZMK.
Up until now, Altar I devices have only been assembled in ones and twos. It's now time to consider the workflow for assembly of larger quantities.
Most electronics are assembled in huge factories by an assembly line consisting of dozens of people. Altar I devices will be mostly assembled by a single person from start to finish — similar to a Swiss made watch. The same person will assemble, test, and package your Altar I.
With this workflow in mind, we've begun to build out a process and design custom tooling to make this as seamless as possible. We've been inspired by luxury watch makers like Nomos Glashütte, one man commercial kitchen setups, and luxury car assembly plants. It's been an exciting challenge and we look forward to sharing the Altar I assembly process in future updates.
The main goal from here on out is to continue coordinating the purchase, shipping and manufacture of parts. We'll keep looking for battery life improvements in the firmware, and begin investing in mass assembly tooling. We'll also be keeping a close eye on compliance testing — which is blocking us from ordering the full amount of PCBs at the moment.