Here's what the inside of a beta DE1 espresso machine look like. With that many tubes, wires and sensors, you can see why I wanted to color code everything.
However, there are very real world limitations to what shapes can be made with CNC or molding (and the limitations are different with each technique), so it's not a simple problem to solve For now, we choose a path that works, as we ship we'll focus on making it work well and reliably, and with time, we'll refine and simplify. With another year, we can likely remove a few temperature probes: once we understand better the physics of interaction at work.
I found this very nice article investigating the source of the famous quote about "I didn't have the time to write a shorter letter"
My favorite permutation of the statement, which seems relevant quite here:
"Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short."
But the article link above contains many variations throughout history, of this truth.
Looks like even the PTFE water tubing has color coded sleeves. Very nice.
[But surely not too lazy! ]
I will not deny, but possibly it might be reduced to a narrower Compass than it is; and that some Parts of it might be contracted: The way it has been writ in, by Catches, and many long Intervals of Interruption, being apt to cause some Repetitions. But to confess the Truth, I am now too lazy, or too busy to make it shorter.
I look forward to meeting you in March especially if you bring me DE+
I made a Big Executive Decision this weekend, which changes our shipping schedule.
Here's the short version of the decision:
1) None of the 200 machines (110V) we're building now will be UL certified
2) the 100 machines already purchased for 220V will start shipping in 2 weeks and will have CE markings.
3) If you're among the 91 people who have pre-paid for a UL-certified 110V machine, you'll have 3 choices: a) get a full refund b) receive a not-UL certified machine now or c) wait until our v1.1 machines ship in July.
1) if you're in the 220V world, you're going to get your machine sooner than expected
2) there are no more delays in shipping the prerelease 110V machines
3) we'll get in touch with the 91 buyers of the "final release" 110V machines and see what they want to do.
Why the change?
For the past 3 years, we've been told by Intertek's consultants that using a Bluetooth device to control our espresso machine was acceptable. Now, as we're being finally certified, they have changed their minds. We can continue to battle with them (tethering the tablet, using USB, etc) or we can surrender, and do what they want. After 4 months of battling them on this topic, we surrender.
What Intertek wants us to change isn't so awful: they want physical controls on the espresso machine itself, to start espresso, steam and hot water. The tablet can continue to do everything it currently does except for starting a "dangerous function". The tablet can still stop espresso based on weight, stop steam based on a timer, and more.
The advantages of this way forward are:
1) it's what virtually every "smart" home appliance does. We're no longer breaking new ground in "safety compliance interpretation".
2) you will be able to use our espresso machine completely without the tablet if you prefer.
3) the physical controls are likely to be longer-lasting than a tablet screen.
4) you can use your own Android device to run our software and talk to the espresso machine. We can also continue with our plans for full Windows, Mac, Linux, and iOS versions, which we otherwise would have to abandon.
5) we can continue to keep our tablet software "open source". The "tethered tablet" approach would have forced to go "closed".
The New Controller?
I will be posting more info in a few days concerning our "controller". It will sit on the group head and have under-lit with 12 full-color LEDs in a clock-pattern. Tapping around "3 pm" will start/stop steam, and 9 pm will start/stop espresso, for instance. I've included a photo below.
The colored LEDs will help guide you to the correct action. If you tap START ESPRESSO on the tablet, with this new setup, the 3 color LEDs around the "9 pm position" will glow to indicate that is where you should tap to start espresso. Once you learn this, you won't need the hint, and will simply tap the group head directly. The tablet will follow the espresso machine's lead and show espresso making progress. STOP can happen on the tablet or the group head.
Our plan is to submit for "final UL safety compliance testing" at the end of April. A tablet will not be included as part of our compliance testing since it is no longer required to operate the machine. Ideally, we'll then swiftly pass UL and the v1.1 machines (due to be built in July) will be UL certified.
Regarding CE certification.
CE is different from UL because a "compliance certification company" does not need to authorize you.
Instead, a CE label is affixed to a device when the manufacturer believes that it was built in compliance with the CE standards.
We've had an Intertek CE expert at Decent audit our design for the past 18 months, and we really do believe that we're in compliance.
And finally, the UL testing that we have already been through ("construction testing") has tested the safety of our design in crucial areas. Therefore, we're proceeding with the manufacture of the 220V espresso machines this week.
Sounds great (I think). Just to clarify for a dunderhead like me, as an early bird who paid 50% deposit, I am going to get my 220v machine earlier and still with a tablet which I can use to control everything but also with manual controls on the machine?
We just started working on this controller, and I expect that we're several months away from it being tested and ready for customers. If you wanted to wait for the v1.1 machine (starting in july) with the controller, I could offer you that, sure.
I don't want to wait. I'm happy with the explanation and more excited than ever about getting my Decent
As I stepped out of my office, a ghastly sight awaited me.
A silver label screaming on the back of my pristine minimalist black metal cube of an espresso machine.
Hopefully, there's not some EU/UL rule requiring us to put the serial number on the back of the machine. I've moved the label just under the round bend of the leg. You can still read the serial number and other info, but it no longer Offends The Eye as much.
Every espresso machine we build sits in our shaking machine overnight, before two hours of constant use testing. This finds any loose connections before we ship each machine to the customer.
This video shows our first four machines, and indeed one of them had a connection come loose from the shaking. Since we do "burn-in" testing after shaking, the loose connection is detected and fixed.
In this case, the loose connection comes from a small format 24V "spade connector", which due to its size, cannot have a locking feature. However, we can (and now have) squeeze the matching connector with pliers, so that the fit is now very tight. Back on the shaking machine overnight, the machine now has no issues.
That's pretty cool although a definitive shake test would be to ship it return with TNT.
Here's the latest draft of the group head controller concept, showing icons, sections, and LED effect. It's still early days on this, however, and we're rapidly iterating. This will give you a better idea of where we're going with this idea.
You seem to have a bigger problem ahead of you than your safety approvals, in that you still have a Christmas tree up in your factory. #scandal
It’s a larger diameter now, and properly drawn for engineering, and nicely rendered.
I’m getting closer to being happy with it. Still a few more iterations to go, and then we’ll build one to see how it really works.
The locals are quite superstitious, in a way that Bugs and I find charming, so we've adopted/hybridized the symbols and play with it in our own way.
That looks really impressive. I'll definitely look at upgrading after a while if it's a fairly simple procedure.
I like the controller on top where it is...
A constructive point John...
I would think you have thought of it...And this is a very picky point but may help...
The rest of your cube looks minimalist but the addition to the group head of a round disc just doesn't flow so well IMHO...
This may or may not be practical but...Is there any chance of including the controls so the top of the group head looks completely flat not like a dic has been added on top?...
Kind of like the modern smart phones getting rid of the home button for the same type of reason. I know my smart phone doesn't work so well if my fingers are slightly wet for any reason but have you fully explored the "seamless" option?
Unlike a phone, we have heat and water to contend with, and substantial physical stress. Wet fingers likely, in this use case.
The technology that we think would work, would be to make the group head thinner, and then measure movement on the metal due to finger presses. We think this might work, but it's an R&D exercise, because it might not work, or it might need multiple iterations to work reliably.
At this point, I prefer to go with a technology that is boringly reliable.
In two years, we might change the controller to what you describe, but we would want to give ourselves a lot of time to figure out that approach and make sure it's really reliable.
+1 on the looks. Fits in to the overall design nicely. Whatever modification as with the original design, its not going to please everybody and understandably so but good design is still good design.
Five espresso machines went out to "normal people" today (five of the eight beta testers).
I made this short video to walk people through the unboxing, so that they can assemble their Decent Espresso machine.
My plan is to make videos like this for virtually all the questions we get. I find it much clearer than any sort of text ever could be. We'll also be subtitling these in English and other languages too.
Uh, yeah, we know it's not "1 minute long" despite what I say at the beginning.
John, thanks for being so transparent and for sharing the videos. Congrats on achieving yet another milestone! That's looking really decent now. I'm generally a lever person, but this is looking really good. Small machine made for home without sacrificing quality. Are those the basic DE1 or DE+?
John, the video is great, and the quality of the packaging and the machine is clearly evident, this is now oh so close ..... Congratulations !
It could just be my strange sense of humour, but the suitcase packaging is so very appropriate ..... this has really been an enjoyable journey that you have shared with us, like that favourite holiday where you come home and in the suitcase are all the memories, the dirty washing (your problems), the pressies and souvenirs collected along the way......... this time we get a great espresso machine !
You guy's have been so focused and tenacious !
Loved the video. Can't wait to get my machine!
As queried on CFUK, John, can you clarify if all the machines are to be shipped packed in the 'suitcase' or is that just for the BETA users? Thanks
Some other announcements:
- this next week, we're at the MICE conference in Melbourne, pulling shots at the St Ali / Barista Hustle booth. I'm also demoing Wednesday morning at "5 senses", and I'll be at a few of Scott Rao's presentations too. Scott and Matt will be pulling shots on our machine, as will Bugs and I.
and one piece of slightly bad news....
- one of our beta testers has reported that water in his locale (Seattle) has tarnished the polished aluminum drip tray cover. Photo below. We're working on a solution (either recasting the part in stainless steel, or electroplating, or anodizing). In 3 years of touring with the DE1, I've never seen this problem, but hey, that's life is sometimes.
Anyone who has this tarnishing problem will get a free replacement drip tray cover in the post.
For now, we're recommending that people hand-wash the drip tray, with water only, until we have replacements available (which will take about 10 weeks).
In a suitcase? Yaay! Even my wife's excited!
If you're new to making espresso, or just want to see how we do it, this video is a useful introduction.
I definitely want one of those Decentespresso scales shown in the video with my DE1+, BUT you say they are not available yet.
I'd like the scales too but my wife is more excited about the suitcase it comes in. Anything with a handle and looks like a giant handbag gets her vote
You said "next week, we're at the MICE conference in Melbourne, pulling shots at the St Ali / Barista Hustle booth. I'm also demoing Wednesday morning at "5 senses""
Which 5 Senses, their West Melbourne or Cheltenham address ?
What we do have are the "Skale 2", which does work with the DE1+, and it's quite inexpensive. It's not nearly as nice looking or water-resistant as the Acaia, which is why we're working on making our own model.
Our first attempt (what you see in the video), of working with an existing scale manufacturer, yielded a final prototype that they wanted to charge us US$89 each to make (at quantity=1000, no less). "No thank you" we said, which is why we don't yet have our own scale model to sell. We're going to design it ourselves. It's not a trivial undertaking, though.
We’ve started shipping!
Our beta testers reported only minor problems (some software bugs I need to fix on the tablet, and some improvements on quality control). This upcoming week we’re building 220V machines.
Bugs and I are at the Melbourne (MICE) coffee show all week. We’re guests of Matt Perger, pulling shots on two DE1+ machines at the Barista Hustle/St Ali coffee stand.
When I get back (in about ten days, as there are a few ays off for Easter holidays) we’ll be sending a dozen or so machines out. We can build about 2 machines built per day, at our current speed.
I have one DE+ part delivered and would like to say hi on Friday. Which stand will you be on?
Looking forward to getting the machine as is my friend Gary Carpenter
In order to exhibit at MICE in Australia, an electrician needs to certify our Decent Espresso machines. I didn’t really know how tough this might be, but we passed and now have ugly-but-necessary “certified” stickers all over our espresso machines and power cables.