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Offline LukeZ

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Project Status
« on: December 17, 2016, 11:19:18 AM »
December 6, 2016 -

After several years of internal development, it's time to hand this project over to the "community" - a community which maybe doesn't yet exist, but we hope will come into being soon.

It is important for you to know, that as of today there is no way for you to purchase any of our products, unless you want to build them yourself. Although we have made dozens of prototypes, assembly is simply too time-consuming and complicated to make these by hand for sale in any quantity and right now there is no manufacturer lined up for production.

The original intent was not to publicize the project until people could actually purchase the TCB - if you can't get one, what's the point? But getting a manufacturer to invest a substantial amount of money in a production run, without knowing the potential demand ahead of time, is a tough sell. Talks are ongoing with several different manufacturers but so far none have made a firm commitment, and I can't predict when or if any will.

So it is time to take the opposite approach - make the project public, let people examine and discuss the capabilities of the Open Panzer project, and let things take their course. 

Everything we design is completely open source. If you are a manufacturer and want to produce these boards, all the designs and bill of materials are freely available on our Downloads page. Have at it! We do ask that you respect the copyright and maintain attribution.

To the tankers and hobbyists - I created this project because this is what I wished existed when I started building model tanks.  I hope you like it. Please read through the Wiki to see what we've made and start some conversations in the forums if you have questions.

Please remember that like the rest of you my time in this project is volunteered, and no one (so far!) has paid me anything. The work accomplished to date is my gift to the RC community, given freely. I will continue to invest in, advocate for, and lead development, but the future of Open Panzer belongs to you!



LukeZ
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Offline LukeZ

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Re: Project Status
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2017, 11:18:16 AM »
January 10, 2017 -

Great news! Hobby King has decided to produce and sell the TCB. This is a very generous move on their part as they are funding completely the manufacturing costs and undertaking all the financial risks. Hobby King has a long history of supporting open source projects and we're excited to be working with them!

Availability is tentatively scheduled for the spring of 2017. The final price price has not yet been announced but when we know more we'll post it here.

We are still shopping the Scout ESC around to various places but nothing definitive yet.
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Offline LukeZ

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Re: Project Status
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2017, 09:24:34 AM »
Introductory threads have been started at the RC Universe and RC Tank Warfare forums.

RC Universe Introduction

RC Tank Warfare Introduction
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Offline LukeZ

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Re: Project Status
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2017, 10:04:53 AM »
April 3, 2017

Hobby King indicated to me they are just now starting TCB production and boards are expected in the store sometime mid-May.

Sale price for the TCB has tentatively been projected between $50-$60 US per board.
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Offline LukeZ

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Re: Project Status
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2017, 10:48:20 AM »
May 16, 2017

Hobby King has revised their schedule. They are now estimating boards to be in store early July 2017.

It would not surprise me if the schedule changes yet again, I will post here with updates as I receive them.
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Offline LukeZ

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Re: Project Status
« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2017, 10:22:46 AM »
July 1, 2017

HobbyKing indicated last week they had received stock of the TCB in the warehouse (I presume the Global warehouse). They wait now only to put the item up on their website. No idea how long that could take, they said one day but it's already been a week so perhaps a few more weeks.

Maybe we're getting closer, or maybe we're as far away as ever, hard to say!
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Offline LukeZ

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Re: Project Status
« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2017, 12:13:41 PM »
July 7, 2017

The TCB is in stock at the Hobby King global warehouse! Not quite the same shade of purple, but the price is a steal!

Click here to be taken to the HobbyKing product page.

I don't see anywhere the Tamiya Adapter Set, I've contacted Hobby King about it and will post when I get an update.
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Offline LukeZ

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Re: Project Status
« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2017, 01:20:44 PM »
Hobby King has now listed the Tamiya Adapter Set for sell as well.

These cables give plug-and-play functionality to the Tamiya turret traverse, barrel elevation, and recoil motors, as well as to the Tamiya Apple and IR emitter.
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Offline LukeZ

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Re: Project Status
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2017, 11:37:45 AM »
HobbyKing has taken down the product from their website after issues were discovered. Here is what I posted on RCU:

What we know so far:
  • At least some but perhaps all boards manufactured by Hobby King were built with an incorrect component. Specifically MOSFETs Q1 - Q8 were replaced with non-functional versions. These control all the light outputs as well as the airsoft motor.
  • User jhamm has confirmed that when these components are replaced with the correct MOSFETs, the board works as expected. Thank you jhamm for your help!
  • Hobby King made several prototypes before production, two of which I tested personally: one in October 2016 and the second in January 2017. Both worked flawlessly. That is not to count the many boards I built myself, several of which have been sent to other users including Erik at Taigen, none of which have shown any hardware issues to date.
  • In short, there is nothing wrong with the Open Panzer TCB design.
  • I provided Hobby King a bill of materials identical to the one posted publicly on the Open Panzer website. The version I gave them also had an extra bit of information - which components they were free to substitute with equivalent parts in order to save money, and which component must not be substituted. MOSFETs Q1 - Q8 were on the do not substitute list.
  • Nevertheless, for reasons unknown, Hobby King did substitute those parts, and the board is therefore lacking several functions.
  • I specifically requested a board from the production line before they went on sale and was told repeatedly it was being sent, but to this day I have never received it and as of yesterday they admitted it still hadn't even been shipped.
  • HobbyKing was notified of this issue Saturday when jhamm notified me. Monday in HK has now come and gone and all they've managed to accomplish is pull the product listing and tell me they are looking into it and will let me know the results when they have completed their tests. I told them we already know the results, and what we need is a statement from HobbyKing indicating what they plan to do about it.

I would tell you not to buy any more boards from HobbyKing but as of Sunday July 16 they have already taken down the product listing anyway...

Obviously this is incredibly frustrating to those who ordered boards as well as everyone who has waited so long to see this project gain some legs. It is definitely a disappointment and a setback.

I will keep you updated as I get more information from Hobby King, specifically what they plan to do for those who have already made a purchase.

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Offline LukeZ

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Re: Project Status
« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2017, 09:56:39 AM »
July 18, 2017

Hobby King has contacted me with an update:

  • They confirm what jhamm originally discovered, the factory placed incorrect MOSFETs on all production boards. The reasons for this are as yet unknown.
  • All customers who purchased a board can contact Hobby King customer service for a full refund. Here is a help page at Hobby King that seems to describe the process you need to take.
  • Finally, Hobby King has directed their factory to manufacture a new set of boards with the correct components. No timeline was given for when these will be available.

My apologies again to those who have waited so many months for this product to become available, and to all the customers who made a purchase for the inconvenience they now face.

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Offline LukeZ

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Re: Project Status
« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2017, 11:35:11 AM »
As of the end of July Hobby King has still not refunded all customers for their TCB orders, and in some cases have incorrectly given back "store credit" instead of an actual cash refund as they promised.

If you ordered a TCB and have still not received a cash refund, please send me a Private Message with your real name and perhaps your order number, and I will follow up with Hobby King personally on your behalf.

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Offline LukeZ

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Re: Project Status
« Reply #11 on: August 08, 2017, 07:31:33 PM »
In regards to those seeking refunds for their defective TCBs I have made repeated requests to Hobby King for an update and why it is that they are issuing store credit instead. Here is the response I received this evening from my contact at Hobby King, Richard Mahmoud:

Quote
Luke,

We received an update from our CS team yesterday, and they have confirmed every customer that has contacted them has been given a full refund.

If you have someone approaching you regarding not been given a full refund, as advised previously provide me with their name and order number and I will check with our CS team. Also any documentation from our CS team that they have been sent advising they will only get store credit This is being handled like all other products that customers raise with us as faulty. in this situation we have given a full refund.

Richard Mahmoud

His information contradicts directly what at least half a dozen people have told me in PMs and emails. At this point I am no longer going to do Hobby King's customer service work for them. If you still have not received a CASH refund, please PM me on this forum or any other, and I will give you Richard's email address and you can write to him directly.
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Offline LukeZ

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Re: Project Status
« Reply #12 on: October 05, 2017, 05:43:00 PM »
Hobby King appears to have the TCB back in stock in the Global Warehouse, see here.

I have received no communication from HK since earlier this summer, nor have I been sent a sample to examine. Buy at your own risk!

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Offline LukeZ

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Re: Project Status
« Reply #13 on: October 20, 2017, 09:28:33 AM »
October 18, 2017

Update - I've finally been able to examine a board from Hobby King. As it turns out, they are not selling new-production boards, instead they have gone back and manually replaced the incorrect components on the originals. This is obvious from a visual inspection. In talking with some other people who have recently purchased boards theirs are the same.

Although this is no what Hobby King told us they were going to do, it is certainly within their right and no doubt it made economic sense to them.

I thoroughly tested the board and all functions work correctly, including the ones related to the MOSFETs that have been replaced. So far no one else has reported problems with their fixed boards. I think the coast is clear for anyone to proceed with these boards if they are still interested.
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Offline LukeZ

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Re: Project Status
« Reply #14 on: October 22, 2017, 03:57:01 PM »
October 22, 2017

The party was too good to last! One of our users who just ordered a "new" board has received instead the same board being sold this summer, with all the same, wrong components. As listed above all the "new" boards are in fact old boards with the parts manually replaced, but apparently they have not fixed all of them and certainly haven't tested all of them. Some do seem to be functional (the one they sent me is) but there is no guarantee what you will get.

I must conclude that Hobby King can not be trusted to get this right. It is not beyond their ability but they simply do not seem to care. If you have not purchased a board yet, I would suggest you do not unless you want to take a risk. If you have purchased a board, please examine closely the MOSFETs Q1 through Q8. If any of them have the markings "23EG" on them, they are wrong and your board will not function. The image below shows which components these are.

For those that receive faulty boards, you can take your chances and request an exchange, or if you want a refund let me know and I will provide you the email address of my contact at Hobby King so he can deal with this directly.
Q1-Q8.jpg
Project Status Q1-Q8.jpg
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