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Thread: Decent espresso

  1. #1351
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    John - I was wondering to myself today; why 'Decent Espresso'?

    The word 'decent' is relative I guess, but I would think it to typically mean 'good' or 'better than average'. Considering that your machine makes the pursuit of exceptional espresso much easier, and gives the user control and feedback beyond anything previously possible where did the idea for the humble 'Decent' come from, and what made you stick with it?

  2. #1352
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dylan View Post
    John - I was wondering to myself today; why 'Decent Espresso'? The word 'decent' is relative I guess, but I would think it to typically mean 'good' or 'better than average'. Considering that your machine makes the pursuit of exceptional espresso much easier, and gives the user control and feedback beyond anything previously possible where did the idea for the humble 'Decent' come from, and what made you stick with it?
    Here's Google's definition of "decent":
    https://decentespresso.com/definition

    A longer answer from me would use phrases such as "British understatement", "a sense of humor", "memorable", "very English, not at all Italian".

    The genesis for the name came when I saw a sign for my local coffee roaster in small-town California, which read "possibly the best roast coffee in the world". I dislike that sort of arrogant statement, and prefer to aim for "decent" and let people decide for themselves if we're more-than-decent.

    On a daily basis, I don't need "the best of everything", I prefer consistently decent.

    And of course, the first thing you think of when traveling to a new town, is "where I can find a decent cup of coffee?" This used to literally be the example in google dictionary for "decent".

    -john
    Last edited by decent_espresso; 24-01-18 at 03:52.

  3. #1353
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    Default Toolmaking

    toolmaking.jpg

    As we're building our first batch espresso machines (rather than one prototype at a time), we're paying close attention to tasks that are quite difficult, slow or error-prone. We'll then try different approaches, or sometimes we work on making tools to simplify or dummy-proof.

    - the way electricity comes into the espresso machine is fairly complicated. Why? Because instead of the power switch directly turning electricity on, the way it works is that the power switch supplies voltage to the 24V converter, which then boots up the logic board, and then if the firmware is working correctly, it turns on a relay which then connects mains power. The idea behind this complicated wire up is that if the firmware "crashes" (it is software, after all) then the mains power is immediately cut off by the relay. One consequence of this wire-up (top left photo) is that in two places, we have two wires that combine into one spade connector. We tried 3 different ways to do this, and at the moment, we think that using our newly-purchased copper wire-wrap-crimper (the "green machine") is the best way (bottom left photo). If you've got an electrical background and know of a better way, please chime in.

    - the insulating box around our heater is assembled by us by soldering several fiberglass boards together. It's been very time-consuming, about 30 minutes each, to make these. The biggest problem is that the box tumbles apart as you try to solder it. You're constantly using a lot of tape to temporarily hold it together. Clumsy. Johnny has been working on a routed plastic guide to hold the box together, and our EE student intern Stanley has been at it for two days (bottom right photo). We've cut the soldering time down to 10 minutes each. That's still 100 hours total to make the 600 boxes needed to ship 300 espresso machines, but a lot better than 300 hours previously. There's still about 10 minutes of wiring to do afterward on each heater, but that process lends itself to repeating small tasks, and thus speeds up with expertise gained. I've attached a not-yet-closed photo of the heater box and wiring, in case you're curious what's going on inside.

    heater.jpg

    - there is a latch on the back that you lift up, to lift the water intake tube out of the water. Johnny had designed a cut-rubber piece that went around that latch, which makes it feel slightly smoother as you lift. However, he designed it a day after I declared "feature cut off" some months ago, so it's not making it into the first 100 machines. It may seem like a small thing, but I'm worried that (a) the glue might not stick permanently or (b) the rubber guide might not be mounted perfectly aligned, and thus be worse than nothing as it "gets in the way". You can see Johnny with his mounting-guide tool (also from routed plastic) to put the rubber piece in. You can also see the rubber piece on the espresso machine behind him. The glue is 3M supplied and appears sufficient, but the perfect-alignment issue is still to be solved. People often email me asking "what's going to be different between v1.0 and v1.1 of your machine" and this is the sort of small improvement that'll come over time.

    - speaking of routed plastic, some months ago we bought an inexpensive open-source CNC machine, hoping we could use it to etch the serial number, model number, etc on the back panel. It turned out not to work for that purpose, because (a) for a drill bit to carve text, the thing being carved needs to be perfectly level, and that turned out to be really difficult and (b) the optional laser cannot "write" on the rear plastic panel. Happily, though, this low-quality CNC machine is perfect for routing out simple plastic shapes, and so it's been on nearly continuously for two weeks, creating tools for assembly. Photo attached of the little CNC machine that could.

    cnc.jpg

    -john

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    Quote Originally Posted by jwCrema View Post
    Given the history of automobile issues with starting and bad things ensuing this seems like engineers with nothing to do and a need to show just how clever they are. How could anyone approve remote starting of something that massively lethal?

    Intertek -let our machines go!

    I would be just as happy with USB-C - but I am completely ambivalent about Bluetooth and the options you offered.
    I know about at least one person, who happens to have a bigger, more powerful button that actually works. LOL

  5. #1355
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    Default Documenting Everything

    building2.jpg

    Here's a large photo montage that shows all our progress. Busy busy!

    Going from left-to-right, then top to bottom:

    - 10 "espresso flush assemblies" (with the "slow down the water box"

    - fully wired up 10 of our logic boards, with all probes, valves, sensors and connectors. Wrote a C++ firmware program to check everything. Fully tested 10 boards in this way. Documented the wiring and test process.

    - received 300 coated-paper guides to help you put the tablet stand on centered, at the position you want

    - wrote a manual on assembling the steam wand

    - a manual on how to assemble our two mixing/sensor chambers.

    - built 10 water-update assemblies

    - assembled and quality-controlled 100 steam wands with a real water pressure test

    - built 10 group heads

    - second revision of wiring up the power switch, relay and PC boards

    - a jig was successfully made and documented, to speed up soldering together our water heater insulation boxes

    - 10 pump assemblies assembled (still need to write a manual for this)

    - a jig for placing the under-the-case magnet arrived, and it was modified by a few millimeters as the magnet position was not perfect.

    - an 8mm hole was hand-drilled into 10 chassis, to comply with Intertek's drainage-hole safety requirement.

    - a color coding scheme for all the temperature sensors was decided upon

    - 20 heater boxes almost finished (enough for 10 machines)

    - detailed instructions for inserted a vital flow restrictor


    To do this week:

    - build the main mixing chambers, and write a manual about how to do this

    - decide how we want to make the high voltage cables to the water heaters and group heads. We've made these by hand in the past and now need to really formalize the process.

    - assemble one machine, see if it actually works (!) and then build the other 9 machines.


    Still to do before we ship to customers:

    - ship 6 machines to the "insiders" early beta users. These are my advisors for the past 3 years, who I first met when we were thinking about taking on the ZPM espresso machine project. They'll honestly tell me if we messed up somewhere.

    - finish programming/testing some firmware/functionality. Firmware updating is coded, but not torture tested. Group head flushing and a cleaning cycle need to be coded. Final calibration (of flow and pressure sensors) numbers need to be moved to bluetooth and not hard-coded.

    - get a final list from Intertek of their safety concerns regarding our construction. They gave us their report last week, but did not opine on our water heaters or group head, because they hadn't disassembled them. We sent them disassembled parts this week for their review.

    - the Chinese New Year holiday season is coming up in February, with Mainland China closed for two weeks, and Hong Kong closed for a week. We're trying to get our machines to our beta testers before then so we can hit the ground running upon the end of the short holiday.

    -john

  6. #1356
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    Default Full UL certification

    tether.jpg

    We've sent Intertek all the supplemental documentation and disassembled parts that asked for, and we're now waiting for the final results of their "construction review". Once received, we'll make two new espresso machines with the changes they requested, and then will move toward full review.

    The "prerelease" buyers of our espresso machine will receive machines with all the changes Intertek has thus requested, but the machine will not yet be certified.

    In other news, Intertek is still discussing internally whether our Bluetooth tablet is an external remote control or more like a short wire. The difference in interpretation is crucial to our moving forward.

    However, in order not to further delay shipping, I have hand made a "tether" in the photo above, and proposed it to Intertek as a solution if they are adamant about the tablet being a remote. I believe that this tether should solve the problem, and I'm discussing it with them this week.

    The end of this tether would have a torx screw, because Intertek considers flat-head and phillips-head screws to be "user removable" whereas removing a torx screw requires specialized tools. The other end is secured with a cable tie. If the user removed this cable, the machine would no longer be considered UL certified.

    This is a question for you guys: how offensive do you find this solution?

    Here is a more professional version of the same idea, sold for stores that have tablets and other devices on display.

    screen 2018-01-29 at 3.46.12 PM.jpg

    -john
    Last edited by decent_espresso; 29-01-18 at 08:47.

  7. #1357
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    1) Can the Torx screw be mounted in the back (so if removed it won't be as noticeable)?
    2) Does the fixed mounting affect the shipping methods?
    3) Does this tether method mean you won't be able to use your own device?
    4) My memory is fuzzy but I thought you had the user affixing the stand to the tablet (and then the tether to the stand). Does that affect certification? The tablet works when not on the stand, no?

  8. #1358
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    I do not like this "tether" solution at all - destroys the harmony of the design. If you wanna go for this then put the screw on top just behind the tablet and not on the side of the machine.
    I would prefer the previous solution with a proximity detector much more.
    And the best would be that Intertek relys on what they told you at the beginning - it´s not a remote!

  9. #1359
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    The tether solution works for me. Hopefully no one at Intertek will go to a hardware store until after they commit to this decision- Torx drivers are cheap and readily available. I own a full set of them right now to service my Dell laptop. The lid that holds the battery is secured with them. This set cost me less than $10.

    I value having U/L certification. I discovered through an electrician friend of mine that some homeowners insurance policies do not endorse the use of non certified appliances. If it burns your house down they may not cover the loss.

  10. #1360
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    As if in this day and age a torx screw is still considered 'specialist equipment'.

    Just shows how much BS their certification is, I get these things are needed to stop rogue companies making shitty products (just look at the Chinese 'hoverboard' fiasco) but doing things like designating the use of a torx screw, like that is going to prevent someone from removing it is so laughable its almost parody.

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