This is long, long overdue. I’m alive and well.
I realize that I have fallen way short staying in touch with you all about what I’ve been up to and what the status of the project is and so on. I don’t have any good excuses. Things that have contributed: extreme demands on my time coming from my day job, burnout / mental health problems, simply not being sure what to say or where I want to go with the project, various emotions: shame, dread, boredom, fatigue, confusion.
In addition to this, there are fundamental issues with producing the hardware as currently designed and hitting the current price point. This is especially hard in the current climate of low part stock and higher part and assembly prices. Each board requires manual assembly of the following parts: both USB-C connectors, both tactile switches, the power inductors, the codec, the 3.3 linear regulator, the USB-C host management IC and the audio jacks if that’s requested on the order. Each board needs to be tested manually. I’ve done this by hand on every shipped board. This takes hours and hours of manual labor.
This is the most critical thing that I need to eliminate to keep the project alive. The fundamental issue is that I can’t realistically hit the price point having someone else do the full assembly of the current design, but doing it myself is essentially not accounting for that labor cost. In other words, I’m not really making money because I have to sink so many hours into assembly. I think the approach here is going to be to do a design revision that makes a couple of key changes to ensure that I can pay someone to do the assembly but still keep the price reasonable.
I realize that the software is imperfect. There were known issues when I shipped it originally. The main reason I haven’t been able to do more work on it is that all of my free time is being eaten up by the assembly and ship activities. Getting that resolved will free up time for me to focus on the software. For those who have Akso hardware in hand and feel that it is not meeting your needs or expectations because of software issues, please file tickets on the Github page. Many of the open issues are actually pretty straightforward to fix; it’s just a matter of finding the time. I want to prioritize them so I can address issues that will be beneficial to the most users first.
Shipping issues: several boards have bounced back to me or have been lost in shipping for whatever reason. My current policy is to simply refund orders that bounce back. If you think your order was lost, i.e. you received a shipping notification but never received the parcel, please contact me and I’ll issue a refund.
Outstanding orders: there are approximately 11 remaining open orders. I have stock on hand to fulfill them; they are going out as soon as I finish assembly and test on each one. If you are in this set of 11 and would rather have a refund now, let me know. If you ordered and have some other issue that maybe I missed and need a refund, let me know.
Bottom line for me: I will never give up on this project. This is only the beginning of a much larger journey. I have no shortage of ideas about future hardware and software I want to implement. Akso in its current form is really only an alpha version of something deeper I think. There are rough edges, imperfections. I’m imperfect. I haven’t consistently managed the project the way I would like. I’m hopeful about the future though! I think we can learn a lot from the current implementation and channel that data into various improvements.
Hope you are well!