Meet Earl... The Next Gen GPS?

Discussion in 'GPS 101 - Which GPS For Me' started by btao, Aug 12, 2013.

  1. moto_dmitriy

    moto_dmitriy que?

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    Unfortunately when he signed contracts with the manufacturer, its my guess that he paid them already &/or there is no performance/delivery clause in there for anyone (so if component gets pushed back the manufacturer still gets paid the same amount so it doesn't matter to them things get pushed back). Ether case he is stuck with flakes who are continuously jerking his chain. I am going to guess there are more coming soon specifically with funding for the first production run.
  2. 9Dave

    9Dave Bazinga!

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    From what I saw last time I looked a month or two ago, nothing has been certified, so he doesn't know if it will pass. They don't even know if it will all work together in the field. There has been no beta testing in the real world.

    I don't have any problems with the guy developing a new product. I admire him for it.

    The way I look at these kickstarter deal is that I better be in a position to just put a match to the bills, and not care. If something shows up, then it's Christmas.:clap
  3. Wanted

    Wanted Been here awhile

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    The latest from Earl two days ago is as follows;

    August 10th, 2014 ABC, August: Begin certification! This time last year, I was certain I would be spending my summer on the trail with both Earl’s by my side. Updates sound like a broken record I’m sure. Each time, another delay. The last instance where we provided a public visual of our progress was just under a year ago. Ever since we’ve struggled to present a proper timeline that accurately estimates the completion and fulfillment of orders. We’ve faced numerous challenges and delays. Managing a project of this scale and budget requires coordination of all our team members. I can’t thank them enough for all the work they’ve put in. Unfortunately we’ve still got a few hurdles left. Before I dive in to the details, please take a look at our current timeline for reference. [​IMG] When we posted a timeline last August we presented the information given to us by our hardware partner. We were definitely being optimistic, we pushed and pushed, but many components to development are reliant upon each other. Currently we are just finishing up Hardware development. The last iteration was around 99% complete. This final revision is all about adjustments, including revising the design of our touch panel. The major issue we have been facing with our touch panel is the FPC that connects it to the board. The touch panel would disconnect from the board, requiring us to disassemble and reconnect. This became more apparent as we brought more units into the wild. Particularly the ones that we sent to our software development team in India. A revised version was expected by the end of this coming week, however Friday our team mentioned that it will now be ready on the 23rd.

    Our walkie talkie module arrived as expected, however upon installation, we realized the volume out on the the unit was not being fully amplified. We were lucky to have a meeting with the radio manufacturer to discuss this issue as well as production and since then we’ve had pleased with our communication with them. They immediately started working on a fix and sent us a replacement that we have in our office now.

    Since major adjustments have been completed we can finally begin tooling. Tooling is about four phases, the first being around 6 weeks, with additional phases of around 2 weeks each. This is big news. From here there can be NO MORE CHANGES! The tooling facility will be assessing our design over the coming week and should everything check out, we’ll begin the following week.

    If the touch panel issues are resolved, we can finally go to certification. Pre-testing is underway, however a few details have presented themselves as we start to define the list of required certifications for each region. Previously we had done our research for the FCC, but since testing each region separately can be costly, we decided to certify all at once. We ran into a couple roadblocks, we decided to pull support for these PMR446 in Europe. CE only allows radios with 0.5w power with an integral antenna, voice only and no data. These requirements sort of kill communication the features of Earl. So for Europe we’re still releasing a VHF/UHF (2m/70cm) radio, however take note, users are required to be licensed.

    For Australia and New Zealand, Earl will be available in two editions, a UHFCB radio, open to anyone without a license as well as the VHF/UHF variant which again would require operators to be licensed. For the USA and Canada we’ll be releasing both a Part 90 certified VHF/UHF radio for licensed amateur radio operators as well as a Part 95a GMRS version for the use by the public. Officially, per FCC rules, GMRS does not allow data transmissions. However there has been some adjustments made for existing radios that meet certain requirements and waivers have been granted. Specifically the Rino line of GPS enabled radios by Garmin. GMRS radios that wish to transmit F2D data are limited to text and GPS messages over the 462 mhz bands. Though there is no guarantee that we can receive the same waiver, I spent the last week going back and forth with our testing facility discussing possible options. We plan to test for the MURS frequencies as a backup, that way we can still release a public version of Earl in the USA and Canada.

    All units, no matter the region, will be locked to their respective firmware. Current backers will have the chance to pick the region of choosing prior to fulfillment of preorders. If all goes well, and certification actually starts on time, we expect Earl to be officially legal for sale around the beginning of November. Coincidentally that’s about the time our final tooling phase is completed as well. While certification gives us the green light to go to market and release Earl into the wild, we need to run a pilot production run. During the last tooling phase, we’ll be running a quick sample of 100 pieces. Depending on the status of certification, we may end up sending a few of these units out to backers that meet licensing requirements and/or reviewers around the globe to test and provide feedback of any issues in the final version. Theses are units are basically ready to ship, however being the first units off the production line, minor adjustments to the assembly process may be needed so we’ve left some time to optimize the process to ensure mass production goes off without a hitch.

    Being that hardware is essentially complete. I took the opportunity to fly out to Delhi to meet with our software development team. They’ve been working hard to get all the features we need integrated into our application. They’ve been given demo units to play with, however the same issues we faced with our touch panel has plagued a couple of the units. I’m here to make sure units are working properly as well as update them with firmware that enables some of the API’s used for the walkie talkie. My hardware team mentioned that Kit Kat should be ready sometime later this week. I’m also here to discuss some changes to the interface. With so many features available offline, Earls UX really needs simplicity, so we spent the better part last week running through some new designs to test out. This week I’ll be meeting with the other half of the team working on the developer portal, which includes an App Store for EInk ready applications, games and media. We want users to have a seamless experience. Originally we planned to switch our website over to Shopify with Zendesk for customer support. Though we may still, we’re going to be discussing the possibility of integrating our main page, shop, help desk, forum, map/app server and user accounts into a single product. I don’t want the project to get more complicated than it already is, so we’ll take a good look at potential scenarios and budgets and choose the most suitable option. I’m here until Thursday evening, then fly back to Hong Kong to meet again with our hardware team before heading home to Seattle next week so I can enjoy a few weeks testing Earl in the alpine meadows of the North Cascades.

    We’re wrapping up development, but work doesn’t stop there. One of the big reasons I’m headed to the states is to prep for funding this fall. Since we originally ran our campaign, we done virtually zero marketing. The idea was to finish the project before taking on additional sales. Our initial order for production is around 5,000 units, preorders so far amount to a bit less than half. Though we plan to hire a team to start promoting our product to retailers, we’ve been toying with the idea of running a second round of crowdfunding through Kickstarter. With Earl certified and ready to go, this could be a huge boost in the number of sales for us and publicity as well as help us some additional funds for future development and support. In addition we’ve spoken with a few VC’s but have held off taking major investment until we had a final unit to showcase. The plan is to initiate a round of funding this coming October. Though Earl is a niche product, there’s definitely a market for a tablet that connects the offline world.

    We’ve made a lot of promises, some features have changed and delays have been numerous, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. We’re getting close, if all goes well, we’re very confident that every backer will have their unit in hand before the holidays. We cannot express our gratitude for your patience during the last year and a half, THANK YOU!
  4. Wanted

    Wanted Been here awhile

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    Personally I went ahead and bought one anyway, it's a crowd-funding campaign and people have to accept that they gave their money knowing full well that it could have flopped and/or been delayed, Kickstarter is not Ebay.

    Question, when/if you get your Earl, how do you plan on mounting this to your motorcycle? I've taken a look at the RAM 7" tablet mount;

    http://www.rammount.com/CatalogResu...45072079076045084065066076051085/Default.aspx

    Looks like it would work well with the "RAM motorcycle clutch reservoir with ball mount", but mounted straight onto a rally dash instead of the clutch reservoir. (unless someone knows of a dash mount with ball to fit?)

    http://www.rammount.com/Products/MotorcycleMounts/MountingBases/tabid/4748/Default.aspx

    Hopefully that stupid antenna doesn't get in the way
  5. btao

    btao RIP Lilolita

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    My plan was to test it in the location my current phone is with a long arm ram mount to the windshield mtg bracket on my tiger 800. It's perfect to perch it over the cluster, but the earl may be larger than I'd want there and cover too much. That being the case, I'd probably go with the stud mount to ideally a fixed point under the cluster between the bar. Ram has tons of options if you look at their full list of components buried in the menus on their site.

    I've tried to encourage them to make a charging dock like UPS has for the earl since it will have that capability via the external pads on the bottom. That way we won't be wearing out any connectors.

    I'm amazed how well the X mount works for my phone, and have faith the tablet one will work great too.
  6. btao

    btao RIP Lilolita

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    It would be really cool to get it for Christmas....

    The timeline looks fairly accurate with no major red flags for my eye.
  7. crunchiespg

    crunchiespg Long timer

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    I see on the earl website it says it includes a USB lanyard for charging. What exactly do they mean by that? The bungee elastic is also a charging cable?
    I'm just figuring out how I could charge it as you go on the bike. A regular USB socket isn't waterproof or vibration proof.
  8. DRTBYK

    DRTBYK All Things GPS Supporter

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    With all do respect, given the Earl teams lack of experience and current history, applying the term "accurate" to any schedule is hopeful at best.
  9. btao

    btao RIP Lilolita

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    They have pads on the bottom of the device for a charging cradle. I'm hoping for a nice cradle with a Ram ball on the back, and seems a very popular request.
  10. gpsdualsport

    gpsdualsport former mid life crisis motorcycle owner

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    I've been following the slow and painfully process with Earl on the official backers' forum and haven't seen anything about a charging cradle. Could you please post a link to the source of this news. I'm aware of the photos with the ports on the Earl prototype but can't recall anything about the charging cradle.
  11. StuInFH

    StuInFH Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the update. An early backer and bailer here. Would maybe like this just for fun now (if it had a color screen so maps would be more useful). Since backing/bailing I have employed a Monterra/InReachSE/smartphone/Sena20S combo and I honestly don't know what I need from the Earl any longer. Weather info via the radio I guess, as that still needs to get sorted out on the Monterra. (probably is an app to send Severe Alerts to me via the SE though)

    Anyway, for the sake of the team and future visionaries, I hope Earl makes it to market.
  12. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    from today:
    " Unfortunately, your browser is too old to work on this Discourse forum. Please upgrade your browser."

    bummer, when they started this project, my browser was fine.
  13. 250senuf

    250senuf Long timer

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    What browser are you using?
  14. 9Dave

    9Dave Bazinga!

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    Works for me. I'm running IE11, among others.
  15. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    typing this response in chrome's buffer

    the earlier one was trying via android's webkit browser (stock) circa 2.3

    :rofl
  16. doggitter

    doggitter Long timer

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  17. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    don't know why I'm bumping this.

    maybe some people will remember their donations, get it back and buy tires instead?
  18. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    october 18th, 2014

    Simply put, Earl’s delayed.There’s never an easy way to spin bad news. I cringe at the thought of announcing each of the delays we’ve faced over the last 18 months. I like to have a clear solution before presenting others with our problems. Early on in this journey, it became apparent that we needed help to get it right. We partnered with Onyx International, a specialty e-reader manufacturer from Guangzhou, China. Without them, I don’t think we would have ever made it this far. Sourcing individual components, while possible, is a complete nightmare without someone with experience. However, the scope of this project has presented so many unforeseen issues that we’ve all had to push ourselves to come up with creative solutions.Following our last post, our hardware team informed us that Earl’s shell had a 40% chance to survive a substantial drop and remain sealed against outside elements. The solution, add some bulk. Unfortunately, that means certification and tooling were put on hold. During development we relied heavily on the opinions of their in-house engineers. What we needed was a third party with experience developing rugged devices to evaluate our design during the past year. I was in Delhi with our software team at the time I learned of the issues and upon arrival in Hong Kong, rushed to our hardware team to discuss our options. One thing was clear, neither party wanted to proceed to production with the current issues at hand. I had three options, continue with Onyx and adjust our design to meet the standards initially requested, proceed with our current design and use a different manufacturer, or throw in the towel.I can’t think of a moment where I felt more scared in my life. Issues and delays have plagued this project from the beginning. Never once did I expect this project to take so much time to finish. We could have it be a total waste or push on. Going with a new partner could have sunk us even further. Onyx has become family to us. Though we may not see eye to eye on everything, they’ve brought my idea into reality, together we’re a team. It would be really hard to build the kind of relationship we have with another firm. So we acknowledged our faults and went back to work.Like myself this past year, Earl’s put on a little weight. Earl’s shell is his armor, the protection needed for the outside elements. We thickened the walls of the shell while recessing the E-ink screen and solar panel for better scratch protection. Though Earl’s internals were complete and ready to certify, we still had to adjust our PCB for the new shell design. The extra space provided room for a larger ceramic GPS antenna, battery and speaker box. So they were all redesigned as well. All of this takes time. While the team was working on the redesign, I was back in the states to build the team that will support Earl through to the end.Back in June I was picked for a climb up Kilimanjaro with a team from the Web Summit Dublin. They never officially announced the climb, so we held it back. I spent a good deal of time preparing for the climb set to begin of October. Unfortunately, due to the current crisis in Africa, the organizers decided to cancel the climb. Though with all the recent developments, this has been sort of a blessing. Because of this, I only scheduled a few days at the end of September to meet with Onyx. Upon my return I was presented with an updated design, but unfortunately our new PCB was a few weeks away. The good thing is that because we are just refitting our existing design into the new shell we’re pretty much where we left off for certification. Unfortunately the 1st through 7th of October is National Day in China, the whole country tends to shut down for business. With so much going on, I headed home. The new PCB should be ready in the next couple days, along with the new shell, but I’ll have to wait until the end of the week to see the progress when I fly back on Thursday.In addition to the climb, our team was selected to showcase Earl at the Web Summit conference in Dublin from the 3-6th of November. To prep I’ve spent a great deal of time bringing on additional bodies to help with the business and customer sides of Earl. This has allowed me to spend more time working with our software team. They’re nearly 12 hours ahead of the USA, so communication can be challenging. Development has been cruising along and though we’ve nailed down most of the functionality of our navigation and radio applications, some of the visual elements do not quite meet our expectations. Since we have some time before we start shipping, I’ve been working to fine tune the look and feel of our software. Simple, clean and intuitive. There’s still a bit more to go, and it’s part of the reason I’ve been slacking on the updates. We have less than 3 weeks to have Earl ready for Dublin. It will be the first time Earl has been in the public spotlight and needless to say I’m a little nervous.So what happens next? Things are looking good on the hardware side, if the new PCB and Shell meet our expectations this week then we can keep pushing forward. So certification? We are extremely close, but I’d expect at least one additional iteration after this. We want to send this next board to an independent lab that can test the shell for durability and analyze the antenna radiation patterns before giving it the go ahead. If all goes well, then we’re going to push it back into the certification and tooling cycle we had mentioned in our last update
  19. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    so, they're going to retool production, certify FCC, and finalize software

    in three weeks time.
  20. DRTBYK

    DRTBYK All Things GPS Supporter

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    No.