Setting Up Shop

Each Friday I realize how much we’ve accomplished over the week, and wish I had more time to share the news. This entire month has been huge. In trusty bullet point format, we’ve recently:

  • Moved into a new 900 sq. ft. office in Glen Carbon, IL
  • Shipped several hundred ODAC preorders
  • Hired ‘Jimmy’, a new solder technician
  • Added two massive new machines to the shop
The office is still a mess, but here are couple pictures as we moved in:
Engineering and “Business” Workstations
Semi-Automated Shipping Table

Stepping up Production

First of all, ODAC looks as awesome as it sounds, so we were eager to get these out the door and into your hands.

Standalone ODAC

After shipping the first 100 ODACs, our machine shop informed us that they were 1 week behind on ODAC endplate production. “Okay”, I told them. Rushing a job tends to compound problems, as frustrated workers make more mistakes. I flew to California that weekend and visited the shop Monday afternoon. They were doing excellent work, so we waited. To grow the business faster I decided to use Salesforce software, read more from

Around this time, we began receiving upwards of five e-mails per hour from customers requesting shipping updates. To keep the story short, 75% of our machined endplates arrived late, in a series of small shipments over a course of 4 weeks. The final box of O2+ODAC endplates shipped this morning.

Nice, Smooth Edges – O2 Front Panel from California Machine Shop

Delays forced us to reevaluate how we handle production. Every machine shop delivers their own mix of quality, cost, and lead time. In two years, we’ve found several excellent machine shops, but none who can build what we want either as fast as required, or as well as required. Balancing cost/quality/time is impossible when you need low cost, high quality, and delivery NOW!

We came up with one daunting solution: If we can’t find a machine shop that meets our customers’ needs, let’s make our own.

Will a 700lb CNC fit through the front door? Yes!

The first challenge was getting a 700lb CNC into the office. After we learn how to use it, this machine will produce our endplates from raw metal.

We’re stocked up on endplates for the summer. This gives Nick has a few weeks to overcome the second hurdle of learning the CNC. He’s already come a long way:

Nick’s Early CNC Attempts – Making progress! Screw holes and edges not programmed.

Machined parts come out of a CNC looking plain, as you can see in the top piece. We print artwork to the parts using a laser engraver:

[youtube_sc url=BNYlhmDkPRU width=430]

If you want something special on your c421, O2, or ODAC, just ask. Custom engraving on any new amp or DAC is free.

ODAC Orders

PREODERS: We shipped 100% of ODAC boards and Standalone ODAC preorders this week. Most O2+ODAC combo preorders have already shipped. All remaining orders will ship upon arrival of rear endplates (early next week).

NEW ORDERS: We secured the largest batch of ODACs in the world, but demand has exceeded everyone’s expectations. Once sold out, the next batch will arrive in late July.

Raffle Results

Special thanks to everyone who contributed to the 2012 Challenge Tanzania Raffle. We helped raise over $500 in charitable donations. Prizes have been shipped to the lucky winners, #121 and #51.

11 thoughts on “Setting Up Shop”

  1. Ah damn, looks like my combo won’t ship until next week… First half or second half of the week?

    Anyway, nice read. These types of blog posts are always my favorite. I like seeing some behind-the-scenes action.

  2. Hey John,

    I realised that some of the text on my c421’s endplates have rubbed off. It’s not a problem, but if it’s laser engraved shouldn’t it be edged in and thus not come off?


    1. @Geoffrey: Our laser engraver is a new machine, just added last week. C421 endplates were manufactured by a shop using silkscreens (not lasered). Neither artwork method should rub off, but these are things we learn with time. Considering your report, I’m glad we bought a laser engraver.

      It will take some time, but all product endplates will eventually be manufactured on our CNC and laser engraver.

  3. The age old manufacturing question – Quality, speed of delivery, cost. Pick which two you want because getting all three is nearly impossible. Looks like you’re doing your best to nail all three. I agree with Matt, nice know a little about what’s going on behind the scenes.

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