Project Update Juli 2017

Dear Readers

It is time for another monthly update.

Project Update

Last month we were able to give the go ahead for the tooling manufacturing after clarifying the final details. Our manufacturer immediately began with the design work and concept. Once the concept validation is done, he will begin with the physical production of  the tools. This will be  in the middle of August.

The test production run will be finished around mid October and is then validated by us. Improvements and final adjustments will be made by the end of October. The pilot series is then carried out in early November. If only a few improvements are necessary the production will be finished earlier of course.

In order to deliver to our Indiegogo customers before the end of the year, we decided to go for the more cost-intensive option. The tools itself are not produced in Switzerland and delivery takes around 5 weeks. We will now produce a batch directly on site and deliver it to Switzerland. At the same time the electronics is manufactured. We can then begin assembly in November and immediately start with the delivery.

This is not quite what we had hoped for time wise but we were able to finally complete the most important production steps.

Testing

July and August are¬†holiday¬†months and many of our testers are enjoying a well deserved break. However, we have already been able to test¬†for the past¬†few months¬†and have concluded that the electronics as well as the¬†collar¬†case and design¬†are fully functional.¬†Tests however,¬†will be¬†continued and the GPS¬†cat collars will¬†feed our servers with valuable data. None of our testers want to¬†return¬†their¬†collars¬†… and we are, of course, happy about it¬†ūüôā

Pre Sale

Due to the countless purchase requests over the past few months we have managed to increase the pilot series production (from which all pre-orders of our Indiegogo campaign are served). This gives us the possibility to consider further orders for the first delivery! Due to the limited quantity we will handle the additional pre-orders on a first come first serve basis. Take advantage of this unique opportunity! As soon as the limited total number is reached, we CANNOT further increase production for this year. The next delivery will take place in 2018.

If you would like to participate in our pre sale please visit our shop here: Online Shop

Kind regards,
Alan & Claudio

 

Project Update June 2017

Here is a short and sweet update about the previous month.

Testing

We now have many testers who test the petTracer GPS collar on their cats. This is very exciting and generally speaking we can confirm that many cats have a very similar behavior. Thanks to the collars we were able to do some “cat stalking”. Here are some of the funny impressions we’ve managed to collect.

With these expressions on their faces one cannot but love cats, even if they themselves did not seem very pleased.

Analysing a cat’s territory

Positions are recorded over short or long periods of time, depending on the operating mode. This makes it possible to plot the terrotries of cats on a long-term display. Here we have an evaluation of Elvis as an example. It is interesting to see that many cats posses a natural instinct and roam their territories set by an inner clock. However, there are factors we have observed, that can affect this behaviour at various levels. Such observed factors are a new cat in the area, change of rhythm of dog handler (change of walking time), change of the weather (very hot, very cold). Extraordinary events such as tree cutting or construction work etc. or external feeding. If you continue to observe the cat, you can see that the cat’s rhythm resettles after some time.

Tool manufacturing

We have now found a very capable toolmaker and we are in the process of clarifying the final details. In the July update we should finally be able to inform you about a possible delivery date. Now we are undertaking the final touches to the product  in order to make it market ready.

News from the neighbourhood

I noticed that our test cat Elvis very often roams around a kiwi plant in the neighbourhood. Coincidentally, we now also own a kiwi plant and have it on our terrace. Funnily enough, we now often find Topolino on the terrace by the plant. I found this somewhat curious and researched “cats” and “kiwi plants” on the Internet. It turns out that cats love kiwi plants¬† and get euphoric from the juice or fragrance. However, when I went back to the office, I was confronted with the following situation:

Instead of being hyperactive and euphoric, Topolino had dived into a deep slumber and I believe that not even 10 horses could have woken him up!

Thank you for reading.
Alan & Claudio

Project Update May 2017

Test Cat

It is already the end of May and therefore time for a new project update. Since the collars are only partially visible in the published photos or not at all, we have made a short video of our most active test cat. Here he is wearing the petTracer GPS cat collar on top of a tick collar. Optically the light band is of course not ideal for a black cat but at least it is visible.

Colour Choice

In the beginning we will only be able to produce the cat collar in one colour. After careful consideration, we decided to go with the color “anthracite”. The whole set looks very elegant in this colour. The extension bands will be available in different colours and create a beautiful contrast to the anthracite. Here is a small preview:

Tool Manufacturing

It is annoying but the tooling is taking longer than expected. Our manufacturer is not able to handle the complexity of the collar manufacturing tool as originally communicated. The delivery date itself is also very long. Therefore, we are currently looking at alternative providers and hope to start building the tools as soon as possible. This is the last module in line needed for production. Once we have a reliable tooling manufacturer we can then finally announce a delivery date.

Web Portal

Our Beta-Portal will be ready soon. New features will be added and the overall handling will be simplified for our test users. We will also be able to carry out stress tests and check the overall system for its robustness. Here is a 24 hour view from the territory of one of our test cat.

Something Funny

Once a week our test cats hold a meeting. The test results of the previous week are discussed as well as the goals for the coming week. There is also currently a debate about forming a test cat union. Above all, Wulfi, the oldest of our test cats, worries about his retirement. They have cut down his food by a 1/4 and the amount of attention he gets has drastically reduced since the offsprings’ arrival (two kittens). He has now been diagnosed with the infamous “mistress attention deficit”. At this point he would like to thank his employer, petTracer, for being allowed to continue this precious work for the company and to make a valuable contribution to the development of the GPS cat collar.

We wish you a very nice and sunny day.
Kind regards,
Alan & Claudio

Project Update April 2017

News

WOW! Where to start with our report? The past weeks have been  almost overwhelming. It is difficult to summarize all the impressions, experiences and test results. Now we are even more motivated to involve as many of you as soon as possible by delivering the collar to you. We can tell you one thing for sure: there is hardly a nicer experience than to see a beloved cat (presumably) disappeared and then retrieved with the petTracer GPS cat collar. To witness the relief and pleasure of the cat owners is the sweetest confirmation our project has yet received.

Review

Although the weather has been rather bad for the last few weeks … or because of this we could test very successfully.

Battery life test
– the collar remained in the same position and measured 480 position over 5 days. This is 4 per hour or one position every 15 minutes. For comparison, other devices measure just 42 positions and are empty within 10 hours even though they are bigger and bulkier and have an up to 3 times bigger battery capacity. As you can see, our collar is now extremely efficient!

– the collar was worn by a highly active cat and the battery lasted 49h with a very high number of position measurements (378).

– the aim of the current test is to find suitable settings for the battery to last for approx. 4 weeks. Current calculations show that this will be possible.

Robustness test
– None of the collars broke during the tests! No matter how many times the collar had been put on and taken off the cats. Not matter if the weather was wet, cold, sunny, snowy or there was hail, the electronics and the collar case held flawlessly.

Stresstest
This week we will start our laboratory stress test. The collar will be bent by a robot under the most adverse conditions.

Range tests
The radio antenna and electronics have now been optimally adapted to the final case material. We have achieved an incredibly high range under best conditions. Under standard conditions a large area can be well covered. None of the test cats had left the radio range.

The movement detector
Thanks to the integrated motion sensor, we now know if and when a cat moves. This information can be used in a variety of ways. For example if it makes sense to actually determine a GPS position or not.

Safety Buckle Test
The safety buckle works reliably (same as in the first field test) and we are confident that it will do so in the future. We did a little re-design but are still using the same well tested buckle.

Other long-term tests
We will now continue to involve more testers (already selected) and carry out long-term tests. This is important for us to gain even more experience and to have constant data for our web portal. This ensures the efficiency of the development of our web portal.

Final Development & Innovation

On the basis of the test results, we can now claim that our innovation & development stage for the hardware (collar & receiver) has been completed. We are now focusing on completing our web portal and Smartphone apps as well as the optimization of the production processes, manufacturing aids, tooling manufacturing and the completion of the test software for mass production. Furthermore we have to take care of the electronics acquisition and are waiting for the contract of the first mass production.

Best wishes and see you soon.
Alan & Claudio

Project Update March 2017

News regarding prototype production

We have good news! In the last update we reported a production delay of the cat collar due to a supply shortage. The components were being held up at customs but they have  arrived and the collar electronics are now fully manufactured. The Homestation (receiver) had already been successfully put into operation in the meantime. Last week, we were able to get the collar working with the new firmware.

Testing, testing, testing….

And now it is time for the final tests! As we implemented a lot of changes in the electronics, we cannot do without them, especially as these tests had proven to be extremely valuable for the previous prototypes. The hardware test has already been successfully completed. Now we will proceed with the stress tests. These test the product for its robustness and longevity. Afterwards the user tests (mini field test, the cats carrying the collars) and the user experience (web portal test) tests will follow. The final mini field test will be carried out over Easter.

Next Steps

At the same time we will be discussing the next steps for the pilot series with our manufacturer, sign the appropriate contracts and order the needed tools. Tooling is now the most time intensive aspect and our last bottleneck. We will also take care of the material purchase at an early stage so that we will not experience any unpleasant surprises again. We are now very well on our way and after successful tests over Easter things will move very quickly. We will finally be able to celebrate the delivery to our loyal Indiegogo customers. We look forward to publishing another update soon.

Kind regards
Alan & Claudio

Project Update February 2017

This is a short technical update but we hope that it is nevertheless understandable for everyone.

Since we last updated you, the electronics for the receivers (HomeStation) have been fully manufactured and put into operation with the new firmware. There were no major problems as expected. Currently the cases are being fabricated in our 3D printer. All we need is a little time since we have already done all the preparatory work. How a 3D printer works and what it looks like  is shown in our video published in the May 2016 update: http://gpskatzenhalsband.com/2016/0 6/projektupdate-mai-2016. We are still fascinated by this innovation and if you have not seen it yet, you should definitely check out the video.

We ran into some complications with regards to the collar productions. But they are now solved. Originally the Flex-Print could not be produced in time. But after a successful search for an alternative flex-print-producer we managed it. Now we have two suppliers and this will certainly have a positive effect on our future production.

Everything is now ready for the PCB assembly. Unfortunately we have an unusually long delay for one single component. This is annoying because it was ordered early in January with a delivery time of 3-4 days. There is currently a “bottleneck” and the delivery date has been shifted 3 times already. We now hope that the delivery, as promised, will take place this week. If this is the case we can proceed with the production and have the collar electronics ready this week. We can then fit the prints into the case and test thoroughly.

Such production delays are not unusual but they are, of course, very annoying. We will publish another update as soon as we are in possession of the new sets. On the other hand, it is a great relief that we now have a reliable manufacturer, who is able to carry out productions of greater quantities (mass production). And one who now possesses fully implemented production processes which work. A lot of production know-how has been elaborated together and we are glad to undertake future productions with a competent partner. The focus now lies on increasing the efficiency even further.

As our firmware programmer has done his work so far (and exceptionally good), we gladly allowed him a week of skiing holidays.

He definitely earned it. Take a look at this fantastic mountain (the Matterhorn Zermatt) and view. Just beautiful!

Kind regards,
Alan & Claudio

Project Update January 2017

Good Start into the Year 2017

We hope you all started well into 2017. We had a great start! We would also like to thank you all for the many Christmas and New Year’s wishes, they were appreciated.

Just before Christmas the contract with our manufacturer was negotiated and the new GPS cat collars were ordered. They are being produced as we write this newsletter. At the same time our manufacturer gets the opportunity to prepare everything for the upcoming pilot series.

Upon completion of the production a manufacturing analysis will be carried out in order to negotiate the final terms and conditions. At the same time, the tooling for the final case material will begin. This is by the way a very exciting step and a kind of “work of art” in itself. A good tooling builder can create a lot of efficiency in the production process and it is very interesting to follow his work. The construction itself however, is a time-intensive step, which will take at least 8 weeks. We therefore want to tackle this step as quickly as possible. The CAD and design work from our side¬†work on the GPS cat collar and homestation has been completed. The “Go ahead” will be given as soon as we have received and tested the prototypes (in March).

Many questions have been asked, one of them whether the petTracer GPS cat collar will be available in spring. This would, of course, be our greatest wish too. Spring is the time when our beloved cats have an increased urge to go outside and into nature.

If we continue with our good progress, then it seems to be realistic to manufacture the Indiegogo collars in the end of the first half of the year and then deliver them. We are very pleased that the long waiting period will soon come to an end. For all non Indiegogo backers, we are sorry to say, that you will need to wait a little bit longer until we can communicate a realistic delivery date. But we will do our best to inform as soon as possible.

Kind regards,
Alan & Claudio

Project Update December 2016

 pettracer_christmastreeAn event-full year comes to an end. To summarize, this was the year of challenges.

With our small team we answered thousands of inquiries, optimized the entire electronics, made countless CAD designs and adjustments, programmed the firmware, secured the finances of the company, implemented the production processes in close cooperation with our manufacturer, defined use cases, programmed the prototype web portal and carried out various tests, including the field test. The procurement of the materials has been secured, legal clarifications have been made, knowledge has been obtained with regard to standardization and certification and a lot of general administrative work has been done.

pettracer_topolinoBut what is our current standing? Our manufacturer will put the final touches  on the print layout between Christmas and New Year and then produce the prints. The aim is that our manufacturer produces a small number of prototypes from beginning to end, including the purchase of materials. This test run allows our manufacturer to review all production processes. Once this is done, we will be able to define production and delivery deadlines.

pettracer_topolino_gpscatcollarIt has¬†now¬†become¬†very¬†cold, although we have no snow in the lowlands¬†of Switzerland.¬†Topolino¬†has been making himself comfortable in the office for some time now and¬†is keeping up an¬†active refusal to work, meaning he has zero interest¬†in going outside¬†into the cold¬†with¬†his collar. Fortunately, we have already completed our tests. ūüôā

We wish you a very merry Christmas and only the best for the new year.
Kind regards
Alan & Claudio

Project Update November 2016

pettracer_topolino_am_streckenTechnical Update

This update is of a more technical nature. After the completed field test we invested the past month to carrying out all corrections and optimization work.

Print Layout

The print layout (layout of the electronic components such as the GPS module, microprocessor etc.) was subjected to another redesign. Most importantly we had to remove the pressure points caused by the case on sensitive parts (to prevent them from getting damaged). We now also use much smaller components where possible which gives us a margin to play with.

Glue tests

The case material used for the prototypes proved to pettracer_setsbe a weak point (we were aware of this but we had hoped for a bit more durability). In addition, the case was not waterproof which was certainly a disadvantage in the rainy summer days. However, we have now successfully implemented the gluing process using the final case material. The difficulty was to find a suitable glue and to develop a glue process which is financially affordable in the main production. When gluing, the two parts must be pressed together but since we cannot create a “counterpressure” in the inside of the collar, this turned out to be difficult.

Tooling design

Since all “innovation processes” are now developed, we were able to continue with the design of the tools. In close cooperation with the manufacturer we have created the necessary CAD-Files (Computer Aided Design) and defined the requirements in order to manufacture them shortly. This also includes the molding parts for the HomeStation case. It is very important not to make any mistakes at this point as these tools are very expensive and will be used for the next few thousand petTracer sets.

pettracer_weihnachtskranz

Christmas Outlook

With the new print design we can now produce improved quality prints and use them as prototypes. These prototypes will be subject to final tests (stress and reliability tests). This is necessary since we have made a complete redesign. We do not want to risk any further unpleasant surprises in the future.

The bad news is that after completing these tests we are expecting to do some additional changes (in real life something always comes up which had been overlooked in theory). Therefore, we will not be able to produce the collars before the end of this year.

The good news is that after having completed these tests, more or less everything is set up to manufacture the pilot-series and to deliver the collars to our Indiegogo backers.

Kind regards,
Alan & Claudio

Project Update September

petTracer GPS cat collar TopolinoTests completed

All in all, our testing activities have been a great success. Some petTracer test sets have lasted surprisingly long. It was possible for us to analyze and test all information transmissions and protocols as well as our server infrastructure. We obtained a very good idea of the cat owner and cat behavior in order to improve/verify our Use Cases accordingly (first steps, firmware updates etc.). We have received many valuable inputs from our testers and we can still implement most of them.

Safety buckle

On 25.09.2016, 21:47:07 Wiggle (one of our test cats) lost his collar. He tried to squeeze through a hole in a chain-link fence and got stuck. The security buckle of the collar opened (correctly) and we recovered the collar the next day thanks to the accurate GPS position.

pettracer gps cat collar safety buckleIn this case the safety buckle worked correctly. The collar came to no harm and Wiggle is safe and sound.

petTracer GPS cat collar WiggleTest Statistics

The first position was sent to the (new) prototype web portal on 8 July 2016 on 12:33.

Since then (status 22.09.2016, 14:45) a total of 968’438 messages were recorded from the petTracer receivers and collars. 87’652 were GPS positions sent from a total of 42 different collars.

“The test winner”, collar number 53 sent a total of 5’347 positions within approximately 38 days to our web portal, which corresponds to an average of 140 positions per day.

Of all the GPS positions recorded from collars which had already implemented quality validation filters (filters for accuracy):

  • 10’323 GPS positions had the top grade
  • 7’817 GPS positions were of average quality and
  • 1’475 provided at least three valid measurements

Note: The remaining 68’037 GPS positions where transmitted without quality validation filters, as this feature was only implemented towards the end of the testing phase.

Stress Test

In March we informed you about our stress test. The aim was to test the robustness of the electronic components under the most adverse circumstances. The first test with the mounted flex-print was very successful. Even after several thousand twists the electronics were still fully functional.

Since the first test went well, we had decided to integrate further stress tests in the field test itself.

Stresstest pettracer GPSKatzenhalsbandDuring the field test, we had an unpleasant surprise, after having analyzed some of the defective hardware. The prototype case used had a negative impact on the electronics over time. Instead of protecting delicate parts, it shifted pressure points onto the sensitive areas (including towards the GPS module) and injured them. However, we did managed to “save” most of the collars for the time being through expensive and time consuming repair work.

Instead of spending more time with this hardware, we decided on undertaking the final hardware iteration and optimization for the market product. For this we will now order the necessary tools and use the final case material which will be more robust and waterproof. The entire production for the next step is done in close cooperation with our (new and final) hardware manufacturer. So this is good news.

Kaddz in liquidation

Some time ago we received unpleasant news from the company “Kaddz”.¬† They have declared bankruptcy. Although being a direct competitor of us, we still regret this as we knew one of the founders personally. Moreover, it is always a shame when a startup or a company, in general,¬† goes bankrupt. Usually such people always put a lot of passion and commitment into their companies. petTracer gps cat collar cat

What we have learned from this is that we definitely made the correct decision. We made the decision to bring a valuable, workable product onto the market. This includes a very carefully planned long term test. The quality and reliability is and will remain the most important factor for a GPS cat collar.

Inquiries

Meanwhile inquiries for our petTracer GPS cat collar are increasing again but nevertheless we always try to respond in time.

We wish you all a good week.

Kind regards,
Alan & Claudio