Kickstarter Update: iOS, WiFi and an update on timelines

(You can also find this update on our Kickstarter campaign )

iOS – it lives!

For the longest time we’ve been talking about how we’ve been able to provide a unified RaceCapture app that works on Windows, OSX, Linux and Android – and now, thanks to the kick-in-the-ass provided by this Kickstarter project, we’ll have iOS support. Here’s a demo of it working!

Why has it been so long in coming, and why was the Kickstarter a kick-in-the-ass for us to get it done? Apple decided long ago that iOS would not support the necessary Bluetooth Serial Port Protocol (SPP) needed for high speed data transfer that we use in the Android version. Bluetooth Low Energy (BTLE) was too slow for the sample rates we wanted to support. As a result WiFi support is the best – and realistically the only – alternative, so RaceCapture was built with WiFi support, with support also coming for RaceCapture/Pro MK2.

iOS challenges

iOS has some unique challenges that will make it a longer road to delivery than a single demo video would imply:

  • The app was designed for widescreen mode, and adapting to the various aspect ratios of iOS devices (4:3) some of the views, like the dashboard, need to be accommodated.
  • RaceCapture WiFi discovery mode needs to be supported. The way it works is RaceCapture will send out a periodic “discovery” ping so listening apps can find it.
  • For Android, it needs to select Bluetooth or WiFi connection mode for RaceCapture, since both connection modes will be possible with RaceCapture/Pro.
  • Apple app store approval process.  Enough said.

RaceCapture WiFi support

Compared to Bluetooth, enabling WiFi is a hell of a project.  Where Bluetooth is a single, point-to-point wireless equivalent to a cable, WiFi will support features such as:

  • Client Mode: where RaceCapture can connect to an access point
  • Access Point Mode: where RaceCapture can create an access point and clients can connect to you
  • Multiple connections: WiFi allows for multiple connections – depending on the ultimate performance (and it’s looking pretty good) we may be able to support more than one connection to RaceCapture (and RaceCapture/Pro MK2 with WiFi support)
  • Full configuration support: Setting Access Point names, passwords, and all of the connection information you’ll need to make this work.

It’s a huge amount of work, and it’s going to be awesome. If you’ve been following along on the RaceCapture Github project, you’ll almost hear the dull roar of activity.

RaceCapture/Pro WiFi module

RCP_wifi_module

 

One of our Kickstarter perks is to provide a WiFi module for the current RaceCapture/Pro system – we built our first panel and they passed test! We’re going to ship these out before full WiFi networking support is enabled (likely in firmware 2.10.0), but you’ll be able to do one killer thing with it right away: Control the start/stop of a GoPro camera.  How? Using RaceCapture/Pro’s onboard Lua scripting you’ll be able to command the GoPro to start recording upon some threshold – such as speed – and then stop recording when that data point drops below the threshold. You’ll be able to trigger it on RPM, or some other sensor – all provided by Lua scripting.  We’ll have a write-up and demo soon in our wiki and follow-up blog post.

RCP_wifi_assembly

RaceCapture hardware production

We’ve just about fully qualified the RaceCapture hardware and we’re building and testing more pre-production units. We’re also figuring out how many we can build at once using a technique called panelization – this means, having many many individual RaceCapture circuit boards built on a common panel, then broken apart after assembly, before final programming and test occurs.  Based on the capacity of our equipment it looks like we’ll be able to build 15 at a time. For those curious, we’ll have a separate post that will show the individual steps as we put these into production!

RCT_panelization

Panelization = build many at once. 15 in this case

RaceCapture automated assembly - before reflow

RaceCapture automated assembly – before reflow

After reflow soldering

After reflow soldering

Close-up of the RGB status LED. It's BRIGHT

Close-up of the RGB status LED

Death. It impacts life.

It also impacts things like Kickstarter campaigns.

I and our co-founder, Kelley, experienced not one, but two close family members passing away within the last 4 months.  When we lost our niece, who was almost a daughter to us, in January, we worked hard to plan services and support our extended families and keep Autosport Labs running along with as little impact to our team and customers as possible. The second recent loss of Kelley’s father, my father-in-law of 26 years, has really taken our feet out from under us. Autosport Labs is a small and lean team, so to have 2/5th’s of our team this impacted hurts in ways we hadn’t imagined.

When you’re leading a small business you don’t allow yourself formal bereavement leave. Even expressing this delay in the project comes with tremendous feelings of letting people down.  While we work to create outward calm and professionalism, our reality is that we’re dealing with chaos that these unplanned tragedies dropped into our lives.  We are so grateful for our close-knit team who are jumping in to fill in the gaps where possible which unfortunately puts off other necessary work. Time will pass and heal these tragedies – but in the meantime, another funeral needs to be planned, a eulogy and wake to be prepared, and personal affairs and estate to be sorted.

Where we are at

Ironically, when we were working through the Kickstarter “risks and challenges” section while creating our campaign we didn’t consider death. Evidently we missed that possibility.

The short story is, we’re at least a month delayed before delivering the perks. Here’s how it will look:

RaceCapture with CAN OBD-II option will ship first, and we’re anticipating this time next month to start shipping. RaceCapture with the classic OBD-II adapter will ship following, as we will need additional time to complete the testing of the additional electronics and firmware around the classic adapter.

A new promise

Last update we promised to provide much more frequent updates. While we’ve been extremely busy getting this done for you – and those of you paying attention have seen the activity,  we fell short on providing frequent updates. Hopefully as the dust settles from our family affairs we’ll increase the velocity of Kickstarter updates. While we pride ourselves on our transparency and communications, we know we could always do better. As usual, you can follow along with the steady chatter of what’s happening on Facebook and Twitter, and you can always contact us directly if you have any questions.

Much more coming soon!

We’re incredibly motivated to get this Kickstarter nailed and out the door. We have lots more in the queue we can’t wait to share with you – things we feel you’ll stand up and take notice. We can’t wait!

Thank you, from the team at Autosport Labs